Oura Wan

Just one of the many benefits of homeschooling:  being able to take a vacation whenever you want.

For our family, that’s the first full week of January, when the rest of the kids are going back to school.  It’s a tradition we started last year and plan to continue for, well, ever.  Both times, we’ve had the whole beach to ourselves and, despite unpredictable weather, have managed to have a great time.  Here’s a few pictures of this year’s vacation:

I especially love the picture of Mason crawling to the water.  He wanted to be in there with his sister so badly…

On another note, I’m going to have to figure out how to make my pictures show up larger, but for now, you can click on those to see them a little bigger.  I’m very happy with my new camera/lens and with my discovery of Adobe Lightroom, although if any of you know how to use it, I could probably use some help 🙂  For now, I’m figuring it out as I go.

No promises…

It’s been a big year at the Allen’s – new baby, new house…   I have no apologies for not updating the blog for the past 9 months (yikes!), nor do I promise to do better in the future.  You get what you get.

I’m not making New Year’s Resolutions this year.  They just don’t work out for me.  I am going to try to be more organized, but that’s a long-term goal I’ve been working on for years.  One day I’ll get it right, or I’ll realize that that’s just not who I am and learn to be happy with it.

So, quick update:

Matt – still stationed in Japan.  We’ve got about another 18 months here – halfway done.  He is really into scuba diving these days, and luckily, living on a tropical island, he has plenty of opportunities to do it.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a hobby I’m going to get into.  Something about being underwater sounds too claustrophobic for me.

Me – of course, I’m also still in Japan, homeschooling Madison, making baby food and washing cloth diapers.  Not exactly the grown-up I thought I’d be, but I am so happy with my life right now – happily married, enjoying motherhood, although I am missing my family.  Last summer, Matt bought me a new camera, so I’ve been getting into photography and loving it.  *Hopefully* I’ll be using this blog to post some of my pictures and you’ll get to *hopefully* watch me improve.

Madison – 6 years old, in first grade now, so smart.  I am so proud of her.  She reminds me a lot of myself – which is both good and bad.  Now that she is reading fluently, she’ll take a book anywhere we have to go and sit and read it happily.  She’s also taking Japanese lessons (she speaks it better than me), piano, ballet, Girl Scouts, art class, you name it, she probably does it 🙂  Sometimes I feel like my life consists of driving Madison to her next appointment.

Mason – 10 months old today.  It’s hard to remember life without him.  He is crawling now and getting into everything, and has three teeth poking through.  He also has the wildest hair I have ever seen – he gets that from his dad – and I really love putting it up in a mohawk.  It’s pretty funny actually.

So there’s a little bit of an update on our lives here in Japan – everyone is happy and healthy and that’s all that matters, right?

Oh, and ps –  looks like I need to update my blog header – our family hasn’t looked like that for a while!  Here’s a shot from last month, sightseeing at Cape Hedo.  Thanks Courtney for taking this picture 🙂

So, funny story…

Watch the video before you read my post below. It’s from about two years ago when we lived in Florida – Madison is three. Sorry for the poor quality and that you’ll have to tip your head sideways to watch part of it…

So, when we moved to Okinawa, I really wanted to buy something with third row seating. I knew we were going to be having another baby, and anything smaller would be a tight squeeze, especially when our family comes to visit (hint, hint). But we didn’t find exactly what we were looking for, so we settled on the Dingo because we wanted a car right away. Having no transportation is not fun.

I really like the Dingo and wasn’t really planning on getting something else, but after going up to Okuma for the week, we realized just how little we can fit in that car and how helpful a bigger vehicle would be. So spur of the moment, a few weeks ago, we drove by the Lemon Lot on base here to see if there was anything we liked and we found – you guessed it – a minivan!! Okay, it’s not really a minivan, it’s more like a full size van, but close enough. Exactly the sort of car we were NEVER planning to buy.

And the biggest surprise? I am really excited about it! We are going to pick it up tomorrow and I will post a picture later. It’s huge.

Now I need to start focusing on selling our old car 😦

The Kids’ Room! (Our home, part 3)

We are down to less than two months till the baby is born, so that is definitely going to change things up around here. We’ve been a one child family for quite a while. Everything is ready for the baby though – my hospital bag is packed, the room is ready… There are a few things I’d still like to buy, but they are necessarily necessary. I would like a glider rocker and I am having a really hard time finding one over here. At least finding a semi attractive one.

Madison and the baby are going to be sharing a room – we just don’t have that much space in this house! I think it will work out though. Madison is really looking forward to being a big sister. Anyway, here are some pictures of Madison’s room/the nursery. The ducks things are the same as we used in Madison’s nursery, although my mom did make a new matching quilt for the baby – we intentionally bought extra fabric when when Madison was born so that I could reuse the nursery stuff but each child would have their own quilt.

The baby crib. The walls are actually orange. They look kind of yellow in this picture.

Madison’s bed. I’m planning to put their names over their beds, but I’m waiting till we pick a boy name so that the letters will match. We still haven’t decided 100% on a name – suggestions are welcome…

This is Madison’s shelf and her area for her personal stuff…

and this is the baby’s dresser and space for his personal stuff.

Instead of buying a new dresser, we bought these shelves for the closet for Madison’s clothes and the baby will use Madison’s old dresser. There are actually three shelves; there is a blue one is behind the closet door. They were about $12 each (1180 Yen) and the bins were $10, so it’s a nice storage solution for about $60. She does a pretty good job keeping her clothes on the shelf so far.

We have all of Madison’s toys in a closet under the stairs – part of my peace offering for making her share a room with a boy. It’s a tight squeeze, but at least this way she will still have her own space, even after the baby is born. Here are a few pictures of her toy room:

So now we are about halfway through the home tour… look for more later!

A bit of everything

So I’m not really sure where to start here, since it’s been a month since I updated, and a lot has happened since then.  Madison was sick for 5 days with a fever of 104, and although I’m not trying to make excuses, I’d say that’s the main reason I quit updating for a while.  Then there were the holidays, and we were out of town for a week…  but we’re back now and while I’m not really doing New Year’s Resolutions this year, I am going to try to post on this blog 2-3 times a week.  That’s my goal.

We had a nice Christmas, although it was hard being away from family.  We were able to talk to Matt’s family on the webcam on Christmas Eve (Christmas Day for us) and it was nice to be a part of that even though we were so far away.  I’m going to share some pictures, but this is taking longer than I expected, so I’ll have to do it later this week.

On New Years Eve, Matt and I were invited to an afro party, which I thought was a really fun idea.  Everyone at the party had to wear an afro.  I might steal that idea and have one when we get back to the states.  I think this is one of the first times we have gone out on New Year’s Eve since Madison was born.  It was nice.  And the afro’s were hilarious…

Last week, we spent the week camping at Okuma, a military resort on the beach here on Okinawa.  It’s about an hour and a half away from where we live.  I’m not much of a camper, but we all had a really great week.  We stayed in a cabin there and did most of our cooking over the campfire.  Matt and Madison bought wetsuits so they could swim even though it was a little chilly, and we went up to Cape Hedo, the northern point of the Island.  I definitely think we’ll go back before we move, although next time we probably won’t stay in the cabins since we’ll have a new baby.  They also have regular rooms.  We took lots of pictures, so this is a pretty long slideshow:

We also stopped at The Butterfly Park on the way home from our vacation.  We’ve been studying butterflies the last couple of weeks in school, so this was our culminating event.  I was a little disappointed because there were only two types of butterflies, but it was still neat (although it would have been cooler if we could read the signs!).  We had a lot of butterflies land on us and saw some coming out of their chrysalises and letting their wings dry.  Madison really wanted to have butterflies land on her, but once they did, it kind of creeped her out.  She said they tickled and she was ready to leave after that.  You can see in some of the pictures she looks scared.

Finally, I got my haircut yesterday.  I hadn’t been brave enough to try a new hair stylist since we got here, but I finally had to just go get something done with it.  And I am happy with it.  It’s cut pretty much the same as it was before we moved.  Here’s a picture of the new hair, and although it’s not too flattering, a belly shot too.  Since I know you all want to see how chunky I’m getting.

And now we are back to our regular routine…  at least for the time being.  And as always, there are lots more pictures on Flickr if you want to check them out.