Hinamatsuri Ice Cream

Right after Valentine's Day comes Hinamatsuri or Doll Festival and Girl's Day. An exciting time for little girls. To celebrate EJ's recent yochien musical performance we took her out for some special ice cream.

The kids waited patiently as their dolls were assembled out of ice cream and sugar. 

The box was opened

And the kiddos enjoyed some  cute and delicious treats. 

Japanese New Year

Happy New Year from Japan! This year we fully embraced the Japanese culture for this special holiday. Our wonderful friends opened their home to us and gave us the opportunity to celebrate the holiday like the majority of Japanese families.

We started the evening with an early dinner.

We gathered round the table and enjoyed a delicious dinner of nabe and sushi.

A hot pot full of veggies, tofu and beef is the perfect meal for a winter's night. 

 Then we all played a game of bingo that Nana had set up to hand out the presents. We got a lot of Japanese and English practice calling out the numbers.

Then it was a traditional Japanese card game that even the youngest could enjoy. 

 Baby B was DaddyO's card flipper.

 After the games everyone piled into the vans for a trip to the local onsen. The boys and girls went their separate ways and we enjoyed an hour soaking in the hot water preparing for the New Year.

The kiddos were nice and sleepy after that and cuddled up right away on their futons. Then it was time for the adults to have fun.

We uncorked a bottle of  champagne and enjoyed some bubbly as we watched the "Year End Song Festival" or as our Japanese friends explained it the "Red and White Song Competition". In its sixty-sixth year, the most popular Japanese musicians of the year compete against each other vocally. It was quite entertaining and enjoyable!

The competition ended near midnight when everyone prepared to watch temples begin to ring their bells. K San prepared soba, symbolizes long life, for us to eat before heading to the shrine.


Mr. I watched the sleeping kids while we made the short walk to the neighborhood shrine. We could hear the bell ringing as we approached. It was crowded with people ringing in the new year.

K San walked us through the Shinto rituals. 

Ringing the bell was the best part. 

 Sweet rice sake is a traditional way to  welcome the year. It would have been the perfect drink if the night had been a little colder. We were still able to finish the whole glass.


 The kids were still sound asleep when we returned at 1 a.m. and our sleeping arrangement was pretty similar to that at home, all together in one bed, yet this time we could spread out on the tatami mats.

Despite the hurricane shutters the kids woke up bright and early ready to go.

K San and her family had spent the previous three days cleaning out their whole house so New Year's day is one where the mother is supposed to relax so we enjoyed osechi for breakfast.

The fathers handed out otoshidama to the children and then the kids enjoyed a relaxing morning. The dads were big sports helping the girls wit their jewelry making.

We finished our New Year's celebrations by taking the kids to the shrine.  It was one big festival. The girls searched for the best way to spend their otshidama.

CJ knew exactly what he wanted:)

 2015 was a wonderful year. We are thankful for all the blessings we have received and the people who have been a part of our life.

Miyagase Illumination

We visited the Miyagase Illumination for the second year.

It was just as magical as the first.  

The kids enjoyed the entertainment.

The lights led us along the path through the quaint lakeside town.

We warmed up with hot soup and the kids got to spin their own cotton candy

We danced in front of the Christmas trees and then walked back to our cars through the breathtaking suspension bridge.

Bali Day Three

Our mornings are following a pattern. Bennett and I usually are up first, with DaddyO and the other two right behind. We all meet up in the tree house to watch the day begin. One of my favorite times at the villa.

Today the boys headed to the beach for a sunrise run with the dogs.

I enjoyed watching a local farmer bring his chickens to the river for a bath.They flap around as he splashes them with water.


Some time with the dogs.

The boys headed to the beach again for some crab hunting. This is all CJ wants to do.

With some help from some local girls he caught three in his bucket.

When they'd had enough sun on the beach it was back to the pool.

DaddyO got a quick cooking class on how to make the sauce and stuffing for Chicken Betutu and Pepes Ikan. The secret is lots of fresh garlic, ginger, and turmeric.

We enjoyed the fruits of his cooking for dinner.

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