Category : Travel

The Highs and Lows of July

In : Kiddo, Travel, Posted by on Sep.09, 2011

Well, I would love to say that there were some low temperatures in July, but that ended up not being the case. Everywhere we went – Houston, Austin, Victoria, New York City, and Florida all ended up being almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes!


July started out with a great plan, but a bad execution. Vicky and Dan watched the girls for the entire weekend while we went to Austin for Kevin and Sarah’s wedding. However, my neck was out of whack from the flight, and it was just getting worse. I finally ended up at the chiropractor, which only worsened the situation. It was so bad that I spent the wedding and half of the reception at the Brackenridge Medical Center, but I left with painkillers, muscle relaxers, and extra strength ibuprofen. I enjoyed catching up with high school friends – even if I was in pain and on drugs. Then we headed back to Houston where I visited another chiropractor who fixed me.  By then it was the 8th of July, and I had lost an entire week and the 4th of July to a drugged up stupor. I have been told that the kids were great and really enjoyed the fireworks.

Too hot at the Houston Zoo

Then we hung out in Houston doing all of the touristy stuff. Our visit to the Houston Zoo was a bust. It was just too hot. However, our trip to Space Center was fabulous, but getting lost in Clear Lake, where I grew up, sucked! Then we went to Houston Museum of Natural Science and the butterfly exhibit, which is always a hit. We didn’t get to see a ton of Todd, but we did get to see Kung Fu Panda 2, which was our first movie theater experience as a family.

Sisters snuggle while Gramps does all of the work



We also got to go down to Victoria to visit with my dad and stepmom. The highlight of the visit was taking the boat out and going fishing, which Tess tired of in about 10 minutes, but everyone caught a fish!


Then it was off to New York City. Todd went with his Masters program, and I flew on a separate plane with the girls. The girls and I were having so much fun going to museums, playgrounds, and parks. The High Line was my favorite. The girls’ favorite was going up in the Empire State Building at night. Lindsey, our babysitter, made it possible for me to go and see Freud’s Last Session, Upright Citizens Brigade, and War Horse, which were all very different and all very good.


Then the girls and I headed to Ft. Lauderdale to visit with Grandma and Grandpa Mau and enjoying the pool and beach and doing some much needed R and R.



So to recap July:

High: Girls in Summer Camp at Nature Discovery Center with Mary Ann

Low: My neck

High: Seeing friends in Austin and being at Kevin and Sarah’s wedding

Low: My neck

High: Having fun with the girls in Houston and catching up with friends

Low: The heat

High: Visiting with family and taking the girls on the boat

Low: Houston Zoo

High: Space Center Houston with Laura and Mitsuyo-san

Low: 1st day in New York City

High: All other days in New York City

Low: Barely seeing Todd

High: Visiting with family in Florida

Low: Realizing that this is really the end of our summer

Here are the photos from Texas, New York City and Florida.

Here are two videos from New York City: T Rex and Ferris Wheel

A Memorable March

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, School, Travel, Posted by on Jun.06, 2011

I’ve been doing some analysis of our blog since school’s been out, and I definitely see a pattern to our lives, which is undoubtedly run by our school calendar.

Every March we find ourselves counting the days until Spring Break.  This year was no different, well, a little different.

Day 1 @ the ER

March started out with a big bang – I mean fall. I was running down the stairs with Todd to get final approval for an advertisement that Todd and I had been working on together. I ended up falling down the stairs, hitting my eye, my computer went through the wall and fell 2 feet to the ground. Upon further analysis, we’ve come to the conclusion that my boot heel caught the strip of rubber on the stairs designed to keep people from falling, I smacked my eye on something still undetermined, and my computer survived unharmed, while its hard pink plastic case shattered and was not salvageable. I ended up spending the entire day in two different hospitals, with Amy as company. I was deemed healthy and relatively unscathed after an CT scan, two X-rays of my legs, and a tilt test – all done by gorgeous ER doctor.

Here are the photos of the change in the bruise above my eye over the course of a week.

Friday, March 11th, I’d come down with a stomach bug, completely unrelated to the aforementioned fall, and stayed home from school.  I was bummed because I was afraid that I would be sick the whole weekend.  It was just before school let out that I felt really nauseous.  When I stood up, I felt more nauseous. It was then that I heard the tell tale signs of an earthquake – our apartment was making a steady clicking noises as it rocked back and forth. This motion is why Japanese buildings are so resilient to the earthquakes. It is also why people feel seasick in the buildings during an earthquake. It was not super strong in our prefecture, but it was long.  I immediately called Todd who was watching a soccer game at school.  He did not realize that we were having an earthquake, but then the school siren went off. I was on Japan Meteorological Agency, which issued a tsunami warning immediately after the earthquake. All students and teachers also had a tsunami warning and went to the second story of our school, which is a several 100 meters from the coast.  When he went into the school to help, we hung up and that was the last cell coverage for a few days. We could still text, but talking was difficult.

As soon as I found out that the family was ok, I went on NHK live stream in English just as the tsunami was hitting the North. I had just deleted my facebook account the night before because someone had hacked into it, so I took to twitter to recount as much of the actual news coming out of NHK as possible. Tony and Lindsay stayed in Yokohama, and their school canceled classes for two weeks on Sunday night, and on Monday morning they headed south to stay with us. All Shinkansens were back up and running south by that time and were standing room only so they weren’t turning anyone away. Tony and Lindsay were worried about the constant aftershocks, rolling power outages, and lack of public transit. Once they arrived in Kobe, they realized how unaffected our area was. Many places here were reducing power, and instant noodles, bottled water, and ginger ale were no where to be found, but those are insignificant issues compared to what the North was facing.

Since then our school has been doing as much as they can by raising money, creating bags for people in the North filled with things that they would want/need, and some teachers have even ventured up north to lend a helping hand. The area is no where near “normal”, but there have been massive efforts to start the clean up. Here is an article of the recovery efforts by the Boston Globe.


After the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the ever present nuclear situation had everyone on edge. Some of our students left early for Spring Break because their parents’ companies requested it. The uncertainty of the situation was difficult. I had planned already to go to Washington, DC with another teacher and 17 students. There wasn’t any talk of canceling our trip. I really wanted to Todd out of the country as well – not because I thought he was in danger, but listening to the news in Japan for a week was not going to be a relaxing Spring Break. So Jon, Todd, and the kids headed for Bangkok and Cha-Am, which is just a short drive south of Bangkok. They had a great time relaxing by the beach. The kids loved the Kids Club, so the grown ups even got some time to themselves. Here are their photos from the trip.


My trip was fantastic – other than being stuck overnight in San Francisco because we missed our flight by 20 minutes. Our experiences during our DC were amazing, I got to meet Katy’s family and I saw Marilyn again. Patrick and Maggie rocked as our guides and coordinators during the trip. I blogged about each day at my professional blog. Here are my posts of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, and Day 8.

End of an Era

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Jan.01, 2011

of holidays, that is.

We’ve been on holiday since the 17th of December, and we head back to work tomorrow.


The first part of the holiday was spent taking care of Tess and Riley as they ran fevers for 5 days each, back to back.  Riley was mostly recovered by Christmas Eve, and we headed to the Lemleys for a Christmas Eve feast along with Bob, Lindsay and Tony who came to Kobe from Yokohama to help us celebrate.  Lola spent most of the night laying in my lap.  The older kids had a gift exchange, which they loved.  The adults drank and ate way too much, and we headed back to the house late in time to prepare for Santa’s arrival.  The girls also got to watch a special video from Santa for each of them before heading to bed.


Christmas Day the girls slept in until 9:30, and the adults had all been awake, eaten breakfast, and were almost bored by the time the girls finally woke up.  Santa’s gifts were a doll house, Star Wars Legos, a puzzle, and a Nutcracker.  The girls loved them all as well as all of the gifts from family and us.  Luckily for us (especially the girls) it started snowing half way through present opening.  I bundled them up, and we headed outside to chase huge fluffy flakes.  It snowed for the rest of the day on and off, but unfortunately there was no accumulation.  In the afternoon of Christmas Day, we had friends over to partake in some delicious seafood gumbo.


After Christmas, we had a few days to relax before heading on the Shinkansen to Yokohama to stay with Lindsay and Tony for a bit.  Yokohama was lovely (and warmer than Kobe).  The girls loved spending more time with Bob, Lindsay and Tony.  Riley also celebrated her 6th birthday in Yokohama with some pumpkin pie, Star Wars Legos, Burgers, spider playgrounds, and Bornelund.  She had a fantastic day, and she is so excited to be 6!

We headed back to Kobe on the 1st, after I got sick and ended up with Pink Eye in both eyes!  I spent a few days recovering while the girls spent a few days playing with their new (and old) toys.  Riley’s been working on riding with only two wheels, and we took the pedals and training wheels off of Tess’s bike so she can learn how to balance herself.

So now the house is back to normal with all of the Christmas decorations put away, and we are just relaxing the evening before heading back to work.  Tomorrow is going to be rough!  I don’t think any of us has been up before 8am since the 17th of December!

UPDATE:  I forgot to link to the photos.  Here is the album from Christmas Eve at the Lemleys.  Here is Christmas Eve night and Christmas day.  Here is our first trip to Yokohama.


In : Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Nov.11, 2010


Now that Tony and Lindsay live in Japan we saw them in Kobe for Tess’s birthday.  We’d also decided to travel together.  Since our Fall Breaks overlapped, we all decided to head to Bangkok and Koh Samui.  We shopped and ate our way through Bangkok.  Then we relaxed for a week on the beach and by the pool.

Riley and Tess both swam without the arm floaties.  Riley swam the entire length of the pool, while Tess swam the short side.  The adults played a couple games of trivial pursuit and numerous pass and plays of Scramble.

We had a great time and really spent the time relaxing and getting tons of massages.  Here are our photos from our trip.

End of the Summer

In : Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Aug.08, 2010

Well, the last weekend of the summer has started.  It is such a bittersweet time.  Todd and I have to go back to work, which means the end of “Mommy and Daddy Time.”  However, the girls are so excited to start school!  Riley will be entering Kindergarten (we call it KB at our school), and Tess will start KA.

Todd and I are almost over jet lag, which has been very rough this time.  The girls slept through the night last night without waking up and demanding food, my computer, or hotty milky (every thing Tess says ends with a “y”).  However, we are all waking up ridiculously early, which is great because we can get stuff done, but it is not so good as we all fall asleep before 9 at night.

Since we’ve arrived, Todd and I have been gutting the house and balconies.  Every 10 years apartment complexes get completely redone on the outside.  What that means for us is that everything will have to come off of the balconies.  Yikes!  We store a lot of crap out there, so we are in the process of applying to throw away things (which you have to do with the city when it doesn’t fit in a 45 Liter trash bag.  We are throwing away: Tessy’s crib, Riley’s twin bed, a wooden hanging stand, two chairs, an old easel, a wooden lattice screen, an old dresser, an old ottoman, and a huge suitcase that we had to bring back to Japan to carry all of our crap!  I also need to remove all of my plants and plant pots, which is less of a problem since they all died over the summer.  We are also keeping a table and 2 chairs and a pop up play house filled with balls.  I am not sure where those are going to fit in the house, but we’ll figure out something.

It will undoubtedly be a bit before I update further.  The beginning of school is never an easy, relaxing time.  Look for something in early September when we celebrate Tessy’s 4th birthday (with Auntie Lindsay and Uncle Tony!)

Todd comes back from London

Here are some more photos of Lindsay’s wedding.  I am still working on getting some photos from the photographer, and the last of the summer photos.


In : Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Jul.07, 2010

The girls are headed to the Oliveros for a playdate

It seems like every time we head Stateside we are always busy beyond belief.  This summer is ending up just the same.

We originally planned to come to Houston this summer for Lindsay’s and Tony’s wedding.  However, then Todd was accepted in the University of Houston Master of Arts in Theatre.  So we’ve been in Houston since the end of June.  Todd’s program has him at school from 9-9 Monday through Thursday.  Then he is off Friday through Sunday.

The girls and I have been playing, swimming, going to dance lessons, gymnastic lessons and Riley is in a Nature Camp.

Next week Todd heads to London for his Master’s program, and then I head to my Dad’s house, and then my Mom comes.

Then we are in Houston for another 10 days.  I am looking forward to some family time relaxing and visiting with friends.

Here are some photos from the first part of our trip.  Here are the photos from the Bridal Breakfast.

We’ve arrived, and already there are cute photos.

In : Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Jun.06, 2010


The flights were great – on time, light turbulence, and good kids.  And after one jet-lagged night, we all seem to be on a normal schedule.  Since we’ve arrived, the girls have been playing non-stop.  Here are some photos of them playing in Japan before we left and from our day in Houston.

Lost Christmas photos and events from June

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Jun.06, 2010

Last Christmas we relaxed for a couple of weeks in Hawaii.  It was a great time, and I cannot wait to go back.  While we were there, we borrowed some ocean kayaks for the afternoon and headed out into the water.  I brought my camera because I thought I would be able to get some great photos.  Unfortunately, I forgot that I had it with me when I stood up to get out of the kayak.  The camera ended up in the water.

Yes! An awesome picture in the kayaks - and then my camera died.

For my birthday I asked Todd for a new camera because I know that he will have his all day during his Master’s program this summer.  I got a cute new Canon SD4000 in red, and when I put in the memory card that floating around our house, I found that it was the card from the sunken camera in Hawaii – and there were still Hawaiian photos on it!

So I am uploading photos from the opening of the pool in the Kobe Club, photos from around Kobe, photos from Kachoen and the lost photos from Hawaii here in the June and Lost Christmas album.  The order of the pictures stinks.  I guess it has to do with mixing photos from two cameras.

I am also uploading the photos of the girls taken at school this past year. Again the organization of the photos is horrible.  I will try to explain everything necessary in the captions.

June is always so bittersweet.  I love that it is summer and we have so much more free time for each other and for ourselves, but it is the end of a year, and people always move on – although not so many this year.

The Last of Maui

In : Kiddo, Picture Pages, Travel, Posted by on Dec.12, 2009

The Luau

We are spending our few last days in Maui relaxing by the pool and hanging out at the beach.

Here are the pictures of last outings before heading back.  We visited Iao State Park and walked a little through the park, and the girls waded in the river and threw some rocks.

Last night we went to the ever popular and touristy Old Lahaina Luau.  It was all you could eat and drink, and the show was great.  Riley was enthralled, and Tess was tired, but I am glad that we went.

Here are the photos.

One more

In : General, Travel, Posted by on Jan.01, 2009


There is one more photo album that I found.  We went to the Luminarie with some friends and the girls in December before returning to the States.   The luminarie is a light spectacular with music to remember the great Hanshin earthquake.  This is our second luminarie, and it was fun this year with the kids, although much more exhausting.   I did a lot of running after Tess.

Here are the photos.