Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Round-UP

Our December was full of fun activities and the excitement of Christmas!  

Decorating sugar cookies with Sakura

The buildup was much better than the actual day, although our festivities were interrupted by our trip to Thailand.  Santa was considerate enough to come on December 27th.  It was a great full day back from our trip as we stayed huddled in our house all day and the kids played with their new toys - and played really well together.  Max loved Lola's toys too, so it was a good opportunity for him to share and play nicely with Lola.

Calling Gigi and Nana on "Christmas Day"

Maximo and his new PlayMobile Crane

On the last day of school, Maximo's class had a little Christmas party that John and I could attend:
Trying to single-handedly eat the whole gingerbread house - "Look Mommy, I just ate the chimney!"

Making a jingle bell craft with Sean's mom

It was nice, then we took Max out for lunch while Lola spent the afternoon at Yume Club.  His choice was the Indian restaurant, probably more for the mango lasse than anything else, but it was nice to go out for a meal with him - and relaxing!  Eating out with Lola is far from relaxing, but now Maximo is at the age, where we all can enjoy eating out together.

 Crazy Lola - Now that she can stand and walk, she's trying to do it on every surface of the house!

 Max and almost all of the Island of Sodor on our dining room table (so Lola can't reach)

And I've updated the December 2011 photo album (on the right side bar).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Trip to Phuket, Thailand

We just got back from a week in Phuket, Thailand.  IT WAS WONDERFUL!  We met some dear, dear friends of ours who we worked with in Peru, that now live on our side of the world... Brunei. 

We haven't seen them in about three and a half years and it was great to relax and catch up with them.  They are friends for life, not just because they are great people and we enjoy their company, but because Kate and Ceri, their daughters, are the exact ages of Maximo and Lola!  Yippee!  So it's easy - we understand demanding children and their schedules, and then we all fall into bed (Not together!  We're not that kind of friends!) by 9:00 pm. 

We had a yucky overnight flight to get to Thailand.  The kids were fine, but we didn't sleep much, so we were exhausted when we arrived.  We met Rich and Linda and the girls in the airport and hired a van to take us to Friendship Beach Hotel about 40 minutes south of the airport. 

It was a great find (thanks, Trip Advisor! and Linda for doing all the bookings!).  We had an apartment and another hotel room between the two families so it was easy to put the kids to bed and hang out a bit.  It was a low key hotel with friendly staff who doted on the kids.  The beach wasn't that great, but we had read that in the write-ups.  There was glass, and it was a bit rocky, and windy, but the guys took Kite Surfing lessons, and we brought the kids down to the beach in the mornings to watch the guys have lessons before heading back to the pool.

The food was really, really good - and there was a huge menu, which was good - as we ate almost every meal there.  We ate almost everything on the menu, but my consistent lunch order was the delicious wide rice noodles stir fry with kale and shrimp.  I could eat Thai food every day!  Unfortunately, some of the heat and spices was too much for the kids, and I often shared dishes with Lola, so I had to compromise.

Max and Lola have changed our travel a bit.  It's a whole lot easier to just stay put and relax by a pool, rather than drag the kids all over the place.  I only left the hotel twice - once to go to the dodgy Elephant ride place:

and the other to go to the Night Market, which was great!  It was surprisingly clean and vibrant - Gilles and Elle (more friends from Peru!) were very adventurous in trying foods, so I followed suit, and hoped I wouldn't get a funny belly.  Luckily I didn't and tried a few new things!

Unfortunately, we didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing.  We didn't make it to any small villages or really get into Thai culture, but it was a great trip and rejuvenating after a busy semester.  We'd really like to go back to Thailand again sometime, and really would consider it as a next "living" destination.  We aren't going anywhere in the next couple of years, as long as everything stays fine here in Japan, but it is fun to think about where we'll have our next adventure.  We also realize that Bangkok is another world from the small beach we stayed at in Phuket, and living in a big city, in a developing country, has its pitfalls.  But, we'll see! 

Hopefully we'll make it back to Thailand again for a vacation in the next few years, especially because it's a close, tropical destinations to Japan.  And you if you know us... you know we're always looking for sun and water to relax on vacation.

 Here's the HUGE photo album:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lola's Walking!

I like to use this blog as a digital baby book along with sharing snippets of our lives with friends and family.  I don't have any awesome video footage, but Miss Lola decided today about five minutes before leaving for work, she was going to walk half way across the bedroom!

I can't envision her being able to mess up the house any more than she already does... so there are no negatives to this new feat... except that out little babe is just not so little anymore. 

Of course, she's got a nice cold and more teeth popping through, just in time for our vacation.  After tomorrow, we have three weeks off.  And the first week, we'll spend it with friends in Phuket, Thailand...  We can't wait!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear Santa and other Christmas Activities

Our Christmas Countdown Activities the past couple of days:

 A bag full of shapes that he had to figure out how they fit and glue them together

 Making Rudolph with his foot for a face and his handprints as antlers

Writing to Santa:

"A Christmas Tree with snow and Rudolph on top and my Thomas Christmas ornament"


AND...  Watching Santa's reply, the next morning... Japan Mail is super efficient!

And because he won't insist on pink antlers and wearing my pink scarf to the grocery store forever, I just had to take a picture!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Photo Friday: A Year in the Life of Lola

My little project is done...  Last Friday was my last "Photo Friday" session with Lola.  It has been fun and sometimes exhausting taking photos of her each week.

Here's this past week's photo:

Lola Caroline - 52 Weeks Old

And here is the album of Lola's First Year - Week by Week:

I didn't think about doing this until she was about 5 weeks old.  I tried to go back and find pictures from weeks 3 &4, but I can't find any.  I'm sure I took some, as it was around Christmas, but I can't find any on my computer or our photo backup.  I'll blame it on the lack of sleep.
**But I did manage to get her in a different outfit every Friday**

I can say this because I'm her mom...
She didn't come out the prettiest baby.  I remember just starting at her blankly thinking,
Hmmmm.... I didn't expect you to look like that.  Who do you look like?  
 But, that all changed quickly, she's a pretty little thing now!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Birthday Girl!

Dearest Lola,
Today you turned 1!  What a great year it has been with you in our family.  This year has gone by so fast, probably because you have truly been an easy baby.
You are already trying to say words - like Mama and Cat.  You are so curious and are into everything.  You are so close to walking, but we think you will choose to crawl your way around for a bit longer.  We love to watch you demolish your meals while grunting and making happy noises to yourself.  Since you started to eat solids, you were much more interested in real food than anything mashed up!  You are a good baby, but you are SO vocal.  You have no volume control - it's pretty funny (sometimes) how you yell about anything - when you want something, but mostly when you want someone's attention.
It seems that we were always this family of four.  Your and Maximo's relationship continues to grow and it's fun to watch you two interact with one another.
We love you with all our hearts.
Happy Birthday, Lola Lou!
Mommy, Daddy, Maximo and Flavius

Here are some pictures from the day:

 Lola at Yume Club about to share cupcakes with her friends
 I love the "guarding" hand so she doesn't touch the cupcakes
 She's not so sure about the flame
 Demolishing the cupcake

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Some Holiday Spice

 We've been enjoying the Christmas Countdown Calendar, but I'll be honest, I'm glad he can't read yet.  I've been lazy with some activities after a long day of work or I have flipped cards around as I get them for him, because I need something a little more "hands-off" for me.

Anyhow, he's having fun with it. 

Here are a few things we've done this week:

 I don't even know what to call this activity:
Roll the dice  & glue the marshmallow 
on the corresponding number in Santa's beard game

 Buying  - a good idea in theory - except everything he wanted for Lola was over 6000¥! - a present for Lola at Toys 'R Us, wrapping it, and then creating a cute card - with balloons!
 Writing our name - but running out of room, so heck, why not throw the 'Mo on top

 Posing with Rudolph board books - Today's activity - Thanks Nana!
 This was originally in the Christmas Calendar, but this boy has been jacked up on Holiday Sweets a lot the past week, so I decided to make Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese frosting after he went to bed tonight.  Twenty will go to Yume Club tomorrow with Lola and we'll have a few after dinner tomorrow at home!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Photo Friday - Week 51!

Wow!  It's almost been a year!  Here's Lola this week:

And I've updated the November 2011 photo gallery:

November 2011

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Christmas Countdown Has Begun!

Today we started the Christmas Countdown!
(We stopped on the 20th and put in Lola's sunglasses because we head to Thailand that night!  We'll open presents when we get back home and have requested that Santa come the night after we get back!)

When we got home from school, Maximo got the paper out of pocket Numero Uno to find...

 Christmas Jammies and a Thomas Christmas Book! 

 Santa Babies
I normally wouldn't post such a bad quality picture, but the are actually playing together and both smiling!

Normally we don't do gifts for the Countdown, as it gets expensive (and that's not the point), but Nana sent some goodies a few weeks ago, so it was a good way to start it off!