Date With Quinn

So,

Over the last month or so my son, Quinn, has kept coming up to me and saying…”Dad, remember when we went on a date?”, “Yes, son I remember.”  “Let’s go on another date.”  After that my heart fills with pride and joy that he would want to hang out with me.  Now I am not expecting this to continue but I am hoping that it will for both of them.

Today though he picked for us to go out to McDonalds, he called it the one with the arches.  We went, we ate, we talked, and he told stories.  I ended up dropping my phone in catsup, but luckily it missed going in all the important holes.  We had fries and McNuggets, I had a Big Mac, Quinn had Strawberry Fanta.  It was delicious…strangely enough I actually don’t mind McDonalds, but I did offer up Wendy’s but he didn’t choose that one.

I told him we could go ride his bike, or actually he could, it’s not big enough for the two of us, and then we could go eat lunch.  Of course that isn’t what he had in mind he wanted to eat then ride and since it was his date I conceded and let him have it his way, which is actually  Burger King and where we normally go.  After we ate we drove to the Y by our house and in the back there is a big parking lot which today was completely empty and so made for some nice space to ride around without having to worry about getting hit by a car or running into people or other bikers or anything really, except the curb, which he did once or twice.  Good thing it wasn’t a street full of cars, parked or moving.

As a side note, I might have mentioned that I got a new camera.  I’ve been saving my bones up and through a couple of early Christmas presents I saved up enough to get it in time for opening presents.  Oh, and I spent a couple of days on my homework, got it done and turned in and viola…camera.  Thanks wife.  She finally put me over the edge.  Anyway, all that to say I took my new camera out to take some pictures of Quinn riding his bike around the parking lot.

Quinn is riding his bike, actually with the pedals

He learned a new trick, which isn’t so much of a trick as just a skill that I’ve found actually needs to be learned.  Both Jake and Quinn learned to ride a bike, the balance part, on a Skuut, The problem they both had was that they needed to “learn” how to actually make the pedals to ’round and ’round.

Just being cool

And then he just suddenly struck a pose, I guess since I had my camera out he felt compelled to strike a mighty pose.

So, of course he is Joelle’s son which means he really likes to talk and tell stories.  In this case, you will notice on the above picture there is a hand brake.  Now this hand brake goes to the front wheel, but it doesn’t work worth a darn, but anyway, he wanted to show me how it worked.  He just started riding a bike and so that would be to much, back to his feet….

So you're going along...

and movin'...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then you get ready...

And then you Squeeze...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And squeeze!!!

How great is that.  Now you all know how to use the hand brake on your bikes.  He really did a great job getting out there and pedaling and just plain ol’ not crashing into to much stuff.  He’s my boy and I’m proud of him.

On the other hand, the camera was wonderful.  I had it on CL which for Nikon is Continuous Low speed, and I didn’t feel like I was struggling to get the next shot off before the bike went by.  I used my 35mm prime lens the whole time which was really cool, and also meant that I wasn’t worried about him getting to far away and not being able to crop way in, the new camera adds 10MP to the old one.

it’s got a lot of buttons and dials and switches that I am still figuring out but I’ll get there…eventually.

And on that note I leave you to it.  Have a great day.

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I’m a Worrier….

So…

One of the things I got, if you believe things like this get passed on, from my mother is that I’m a worrier.  When I was growing up, the bus my brother and I were riding on broke down and we got home late.  Since my mom was a teacher she also got home late but that day she beat us home.  We walked in to her crying and worried sick something had happened to us.  We were fine and really thought is was silly for her to be so worried that the bus broke down and she beat us home.  I mean how crazy is that, buses break down all the time, right?

Today, I was cleaning up some of Moka’s poop in the boys room.  Ya, she doesn’t whine at us when she needs to go out like wonderful Nala did.  Anyway, my phone rang.  Now on my phone I had an alarm sound for the ringtone, I just changed it and gave that one to my wife so I’d know when it rang it was her.  I answered the phone and said hello, a little bit disgusted because I was cleaning up poop. (Mad might be a better word)  Jo was crying and said she was just in a pretty bad accident but she was ok.  Now, I’m typically a slow thinker, sometimes it takes me days to come up with a good response to an argument I had 2 days ago, but when I get calls like this my mind starts  racing super fast.

I mean so fast that by the time she says she’s had the accident I’ve already thought about both the good and the bad.  After she says she’s ok, she starts saying “I killed them all, they’re all dead”.  Ok, bad accident, calling me so she’s ok but everyone else is…what…dead?!?  I try to get out of her  if the kids are ok and it’s like pulling teeth.  I’m about to freak out.  I mean get in my car and drive way to fast up there, calling my mom and having her drive way to fast to get down there, meanwhile I’ve got to call the in-laws and tell them…what?  And while I’m driving.

She, I think, finally heard the panic in my voice and told me they are all ok and the police just got there and she’d call me back when she knew more.

At this point I still didn’t know about the people in the other car, and to be completely honest it’d suck if they had been killed but my concern right then was my family.  I start calling people and when they answered the phone I gave all the pertinent details before I said hello, “Jo was in an accident and is ok, the kids are ok, they’re all ok.”

I made it through about 2 phone calls before I lost it, unfortunately I lost it at Pop’s secretary.  She took it in stride and when I called back I apologized and understood.

They’re all ok, the car is dented pretty good in the back driver’s side by the trunk and the other car ended up getting pretty smashed up.

I’ve been going around the house crying because I could totally have lost my entire family today.  Some things just never get thought of and now I know why…they’re just too horrible to have to think about.  As I’ve been walking through the house I’ve been thinking about being alone again.  And you know what?  I am absolutately terrified of the prospect.  That woman makes this house run, my credit score is 750, or something like that, because of her, we are almost out of debt because of her, I eat good food because of her, I’m back in college because of her, I love photography because of her, I have three wonderful children living with me because of her, she is why I have a relationship with God, she makes my world go ’round and I have no idea what life would be like without her.  Hopefully, and God willing, I will never have to find that out.

Dear Jesus, thank-you for my wife and my family.

Onward and Upward

So…

That third class I wrote about, you know, that one where I get to show you what I’ve been doing for homework. Well, I finished it this week and I’m not going to tell you I did horribly bad.  I am also not going to tell you I did horribly good either.  Horribly good?  Really?  What does that even mean?  Let’s just say I didn’t do as well as in this class as I did in my first two classes.

It all happened on the last assignment, I was hovering around 93% – 94% ish for the last several weeks and I thought it was ok, an A or A- won’t be the end of the world, my last assignment was worth 300 points and I figured I’d get most of them and keep the A’s going.  My final was a photographic narrative  on the Marriage of culture between the United States and Okinawa.  Pretty neat idea since I live here and it is distinctly Japanese but yet American also.  Anyway, these are some of my images:

The Flags

And

The Shoes

I really like this one.

What a great sign, right?

Jake and one of his good friends, who is Japanese, at their “graduation” from C-san to B-san.

Best Friends

Anyway, there are 16 others that made the final cut, I can show you more if you want.  Maybe I can download to flickr or something like that, hmmmmmmm.  I got a 222/300 on my final.  He just didn’t see the cultures mixing in my pictures.  Of course I completely disagree if he read my write up you can totally see it in my pictures.  His comment on this last picture was that this could be from any school in America.  Really?  I mean seriously!!!!  Any school in America where the kids wear Japanese name tags on their uniforms?  Where are these schools?  My wife is DYING to get Jake in to a Yochien in San Diego but with the pay cut we’re taking it’ll be impossible.

There are two others:

Quinn at the seawall

and…

Kira at the seawall

He said these could be at any beach in California, or maybe it was any beach…regardless he thought they could have been taken anywhere.  Ok, the first one is Nemo, with Dory’s tail with Bruce and the Hammerhead in the back, and way back there is Sponge Bob, overcast day, beach, ok…I’m not going to totally disagree with it, but in my artist statement I do say something about American influence on food, drink and cartoons.  With Quinn being in the pictures I think it kind of makes it a Japanese picture and it should be in the narrative.  The next one with Anpanman or the bread faced guy, is a Japanese cartoon character and I think superhero.  With his bread face saves people from starving by letting them eat his face…What can I say…It’s Japanese.

Anyway, I don’t think he liked me very  much, I can only hope to avoid him in the future.  Kinda like the first time at PUC where you’d hear don’t take ____’s class he’s a jerk, take it from ____ he is much better/easier.

So thanks for letting me rant, I’m sure after I get over this I’ll be a better photographer at least I’ll be one who can shoot pictures of a California coast while in Okinawa.

My Wife….

So…

My wife…is about the most amazing person I know.  She is truly a SUPERHERO to my boys, the girls and me.  Here is what makes her super….

This weekend she had her dreams crushed, I mean destroyed.  She has a picture of our lives and what she wants out of life and how we should be living.  She wants to raise her own chickens, if we could find the land to do it, she’d raise her own cows both for eating and milking.  There would definitely be some sort of garden and probably it would be significant.  We would go to farmers markets and personally know a fishmonger, a butcher and a baker.  We would not have HFCS in our diet, nor would we have Xantham Gum, Monosodium Glutimate(MSG), or maltodextrin.  We would like to eat “Hippie” and with all the other stuff be “Hippie”, to include live in a veritable “Hippie” place.  That was Whidbey Island for Jo.  She has more websites from her research of the place in her bookmarks than I’ve ever had in my life.  She has been researching for months and within the space of one day had it all taken away….

She called her parents, cried, was sad and hasn’t done the dishes.  This is since Friday night…LATE.  Today is Tuesday.  So this is, like, 3 days later.  Now for the new place, she has a website list that rivals (possibly beats) the Whidbey Island list.  She’s already found a place for us to get grass finished beef, she’s found a place for us to live…while we are looking for a house to buy.  She has found schools for the kids to go (Japanese) which are probably to expensive to enroll them into.  She has met with several people, sent e-mails and chatted…did I forget to mention I got sick today, I was going to be a good husband and do the dishes for her.  I got sick, and SHE did the dishes for ME.

She is my friend and the mother to my kids.  She is the keeper and caretaker of my family, she pushes me to new levels, new limits.  I’m back in college, Jake will have an easier time learning Japanese in the future, Quinn is the strongest most coordinated kid in his gymnastics class, and Kira is BE-E -A-U-TIFUL.

She is MY WIFE…MY HERO….

The Stockings were hung….

So, my family is amazing and I love them all.  I know, I know, your family is amazing also, and I completely agree.  I’m not saying my family is better than yours, just simply that mine are amazing.

My Mom and Dad (Grammy and Grampy) have gotten out of their California home several times now and have come to visit us, in Hawaii, England, and here in Japan.  But even though my Dad is from Hawaii, I had to get married to get them to come out for a visit.

Jo’s Mom (GranDee) is world class.  She’s come 3 times to Japan, 2 of those times were to take care of her girl after pushing 2 whoppers out.  Quinn 10 pounds 10 ounces, Kira 9 pounds 12 ounces, both with no drugs. She came to England and even drove on the right side of the road, not the right side but the right side.  Haha, sorry that’s a little bit of humor from us who drive on the left hand side of the road.

Then there’s Joelle’s Dad & Judi (Pop and Grandma Judi), they are supportive in everything we do, they’ve come to visit us wherever we’ve been, but none of these people are the story.

The woman I would like to tell you about tonight isn’t EVEN technically related to us.  She is Joelle’s dad’s wife’s mother (step grandmother???), but she has taken us in and treated us like we are her own.  We keep having kids and she keeps doing these incredible things.   This is not to take anything away from any of the other grandparents and family but this woman is 86 years old and still going strong.  She is Grandma Jones and this is the kind of thing she spends her days doing for my kids.  This arrived two days ago, just in time to be stuffed with goodies for Christmas:

Kira's Stocking

And get this… she has handmade these for ALL of the kids….

Here’s Hannah’s:

Love it

Jake’s…

I love the bowling pins hangin' on by a thread.

And Quinn’s…

My favorite Candy Cane tree decorations.

Wow, is all I can say.  She’s always a delight when we visit, she always makes conversations with the boys and keeps at it until they finally open up to her.  She’s welcomed us into HER family and we are thankful.  We love you Grandma Jones and we are happy to be apart of your family.

Koza Seibo Yochien Undokai

Ko-za Say-bo Yo-chi-e-n U-n-do-ka-i.  Meaning Koza Seibo Catholic Preschool SPORTS DAY!!!!!!!!  And it is HUGE.  It’s almost like a mini Olympics with races, performances and dances.  Undokai is a part of every school in Japan, and has been since the Olympics were in Tokyo.

Things got started pretty early for a Sabbath day and started off with a sort of opening ceremony.  The coolest part is they have the kids do some of the speaking on a microphone in front of everyone.

Opening announcements

Opening announcements

Marching around the track

Opening Ceremony parade

And then there’s the dancing, it took Jake a moment to warm up to the idea of participating in the singing and dancing but he sure didn’t take as long as he normally does to warm.

Jake doing the opening dance

Jake doing the opening dance

This is one of Jake's friends S.

This is one of Jake's friends C.

This is C, one of Jake’s classmates, we met her mom and dad at another event the school had.

So after all of that dancing and opening announcement stuff, it was finally time for some of the sports stuff.  Jake got to run a race.  They had the kids who were next to run get into these rings on the ground, a sort of on deck runner circle.

The on deck runner's circle

The on deck runner's circle

On your mark…get set….

Look at that stance, doesn't he just look fast.

Look at that stance, doesn't he just look fast.

GO!!!!!!!!!

I'm runnin' I'm runnin'

I'm runnin' I'm runnin'

1/2 way ’round the track and he is in first place.  He’s wearin’ the red hat.

He's winning

He's winning

This is where my son starts looking around to see where everyone else is and just enjoy everyone clapping for him.  Normally this is ok if you are this far ahead, however, Jake has a tendency to stop doing what he’s doing, in this case running, or winning.  You gotta love that at this age winning and losing doesn’t matter to them, only to us older folks.  Ahhhhh, the innocence.

Oh….and the win!!!!!!

He actually managed to come across first.

He actually managed to come across first.

We got to take a break and have some lunch.  Taba-san made it in time to see some of the running and dancing, she even brought some fruit for the boys.  She’s totally cool and has really become a part of our family, she speaks to Jake in Japanese and he blushes.

Our mama-san came to check out the activities

Our mama-san came to check out the activities

After lunch there was a dance for the mamas/daddys and the kids.

Dancing with mama

Dancing with Mama

They even put on a show with the A-sans (5 & 6 year olds) as Eisa dancers playing with drums and dancing and all just like the ones down in Naha.

The kiddos doing Eisa dancing...pretty cool

The kiddos doing Eisa dancing...pretty cool

We all got to have some shaved ice, during the Eisa performance.

Jake and C having some shaved ice

Jake and C having some shaved ice

It was a good day. There was a relay race at the end that involved the parents.  We won(the red team), one guy came trucking around the turn and wiped out just like several of the kids did on their race.  That must have made them feel a bit better.  The weather was coolish, it sprinkled a bit around lunch time.  It was a very well prepared day, lots of practicing and planning must’ve gone into it.  Trying to communicate between Japanese who speak a bit of English and Americans who speak a bit of Japanese was a fun challenge.  They give the kids Monday off as a holiday from the sports day.

Of course everyone was a winner.

Nice job buddy

Nice job buddy

Jake struck this pose without any prompting from me, but it sums up the success of the day.

Jake the Cook

So….

Jake and I have this thing, when we have time in the morning he helps me make pancakes.  I don’t have a recipe for pancakes, I am a huge fan of just add water, I also am not really a fan of measuring things out.  I suppose because I like to make 8 pancakes in the morning not 6 or 10-12 or whatever that measuring business works out to be.   Anyway, Jake helps me make pancakes…sometimes.  He also has helped me make bread but that is slow and boring with all the time it takes to raise and blah blah blah.  Anyway, we do a bit of cooking.

The other day I say to him.  “Hey, let’s make some cookies tomorrow.”  This was not only a plan to make cookies but also a bit of a bribe so he and Quinn would be good for the evening and go to bed nicely.

The next day came and boy did I ever hear about the cookies.  I looked for my mom’s famous recipe, which strangely enough came off the bag of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag, and couldn’t find it.  As I was about to head into a frenzy to get myself to the story to get my mom’s recipe, Joelle, wonderful wife that she is, gets online to Pioneer Woman’s website tasty kitchen and finds some peanut butter chocolate chip cookie thing….  Look, it’s not my mom’s chocolate chip recipe, which strangely enough came off the bag of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag, so I am skeptical about everything at this point.  I’m not particularly adventurous, nor do I like new things, but I am committed, Jake is expecting me to make some cookies with him and I am expecting to spend some good quality time with my little boy.  Would you like to see….

Jake got all the stuff out

Jake got all the stuff out

Honestly, since Jake can’t read very well yet I told him what to get and he got it out and brought it over to the counter so we would have everything we needed.

We got ready to attack the ingredients

We got ready to attack the ingredients

Does he look ready?  I thought so, and oh boy was he ever excited about it.

sugar

sugar

He measured this out all by himself, all I did was clear a bit off the top.

Jake was having fun.

Jake was having fun.

I had to pack the brown sugar for him, he didn’t quite get it, he tried, of course but ended up with a lot of sugar on his hand which had, HAD to be licked off.

Getting ready for some mixin'

Getting ready for some mixin'

Once all the sugar and fat were in we did a bit of mixing, just to get things started combining.  I suppose I could go and rewatch that episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown makes 3 very different cookies for his “sister” using the exact same recipe but varying the order of ingredients, but we decide to try it on our own.  Anyway, also on good eats I saw this neat measuring cup thing that telescopes to varying capacities….  Jake wasn’t strong enough to push it down and hold it at the same time so all I did was hold it for him, he managed to get the thing down.

Can't quite make it Dad

Can't quite make it Dad

Gettin' it

Gettin' it

Got it

Got it

This one is just funny

This one is just funny

After a bit of mixing we got ready to add some flour.

get back in the bowl.

get back in the bowl.

Then he added the flour.

Oh, and the chips got added

Oh, and the chips got added

Then of course after you get done making the cookies you get to lick the paddle you mixed all the stuff together with, ya, ya, I suppose you could just toss it in the sink and wash it, but where’s the fun in that.

Concentrating on the paddle

Concentrating on the paddle

I was having a time getting him to actually look at the camera instead of how good the paddle was going to taste.

This is the serious one

This is the serious one

…aaaaaaaannnnd, the smile?!?

I managed to make a joke and he did make a goofy face, we'll call it a smile.

I managed to make a joke and he did make a goofy face, we'll call it a smile.

Here’s the before.

Before

Before

And after.

After

After

They always give you a range, 8-10 minutes or something like that, and that’s when you have to experiment with the time cooking until they’re golden brown and delicious.

The finished product

The finished product

A bit of a change in the recipe, I put in extra crunchy peanut butter rather than creamy.  I personally thought the peanut butter could be a bit more, and of course a few more chips would make them perfect.  All in all I would say Jake did very well on his first batch of chocolate chip cookies.  Sorry mom, that I couldn’t teach him your famous chocolate chip recipe, which strangely enough came off the bag of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag,  but I guess we have to believe he is going to be making wonderful chocolate chips cookies for the rest of his life until he finds his Dad’s chocolate chip recipe, which strangely enough came off the bag of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag.