Thursday, February 26, 2015

Our First Time At Fukushu En Park

Gene and I decided we would get away for Valentine's weekend this year, which is a little hard to do when you're on an island the size of Okinawa (something like 60 miles from north to south and 17 miles from east to west). We thought this would be the perfect time to head down to the capital city of Naha and stay a few nights since Gene had a 4-day weekend! We drove down Sunday and our first stop of the weekend was at Fukushu En Park- a Chinese Garden in the middle of the city. It is one of the things on our "101 Things in 1,001 Okinawa Days" bucket list and I'm glad we checked it off early, as I know we'll return... in fact: we're going back this weekend to cross another thing off our list: a photo shoot on the island!

I took something like 130 pictures during about two hours in the park. It's not a big park- I'd say smaller than the typical botanical garden back in the states, but it has beautiful architecture and a gorgeous design! The only downside is: we only got one good picture of both of us thanks to a random woman asking us if we'd like her to take our picture!
Aside from this one, we have three other camera shots of the two of us. I will present them to you now, you know, because not all bloggers have gorgeous pictures all the time.

This first one I actually really love. We were in a prime spot to get a picture of us and a waterfall that is in the park. There was an older Japanese couple taking pictures of each other and I tried to communicate with them an offer to take a picture of them both. I did, and the man offered to take one for us. I said no, it was ok, but he asked again and I obliged. It is really rude to refuse gifts in Japan and I figured this might be along the same lines? So I handed him my camera and tried to show him where to look and where to click to take the shot... completely forgetting I was fully zoomed in.
I knew he was confused, but he took the shot as best he could and I kind of love everything about it- both our faces are great (Gene is a squinter and it's so hard to get a natural smile out of him!), and obviously the story behind it is fabulous! I just wish it wasn't so close, haha.

Next up we have a shot where I set the camera on the ledge in a gazebo to take a self-timed picture of us. Fail. The camera focused on the handle of my purse and completely blurred out everything else in the picture.
While in this same Gazebo, not realizing how blurry this picture turned out, we took a selfie. The selfie came out great, but it also came out with just our faces and pretty much nothing else!
Sure, we took shots of each other, but as you can tell: we desperately need pictures taken of BOTH of us! I'm so excited for this weekend- we have our outfits FINALLY picked out, I got my nails done, and am having my hair done to make it look not flat and styled not in a ponytail, ha!

I'm sure our photographer will give me a few shots to share with you all here on the blog and eventually I suppose I'll get around to sharing Fukushu En Park- the flowers, the architecture, and all the fun little details from our trip!

How often do you get family pictures done? 
Where was one of your favorite shoots?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Christmastime Get Together at White Beach // 2014

Nothing like waiting two months to share about the awesome get together you went to for Christmas, amirite? Back in December, Gene's shop got together at White Beach for a cookout pot luck! It was sunny, it was beautiful, and it was FUN! So fun, in fact, that I barely took any pictures of the event- except for a few I had a friend take of us and our awesome car selfie showing that sometimes yes, Gene does in fact drive!
It was an early afternoon start time, so we got there in plenty of time to enjoy the scenery of the beach before we headed over to the campground area to enjoy a fun cookout:
You know it's a good gathering when you go thinking "Ok, we'll stay for an hour or two, but then we're coming home and calling it a night!" but end up staying several hours talking and laughing with the folks there! It was a small gathering- Gene is in a small shop now, so it really has a family vibe- the guys are all pretty close and the wives are all super ladies to be around, and all the kids seem to be instant friends when they get together! It's maybe one of the best commands I've experienced in that way- the close knit bonds that I know I'll form with these people.

Also: I couldn't believe it was December 23rd and we were just casually on the beach hanging out. It was a little chilly- hence my boots and Gene's sweater. I think we'll find ourselves out at White Beach more often- it's just a few minutes down the road, 20-25 or so I guess. There is a fun picnic area and a campground where you can rent campers to stay in. We've added that to our list of things to do before we leave the island. In the first picture of us on the beach- we've heard you can walk out to that little island when the tide is out! That would be a fun weekend adventure, for sure!

Here's to many more gatherings with the shop folks while we're on the island! "Mandatory fun" doesn't always have to be a pain- sometimes it ends up being real, whole-hearted fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

KOSC Pub Trivia Night

Last month, Gene and I went on a really fun date night courtesy of the Kadena Officers' Spouses' Club monthly meet up! Normally the spouses just get together during the month for a fun event, but for January, it was Pub Trivia Night, and our husbands were welcome to come to the event! Gene is a whiz when it comes to trivia, so it was fun to be able to invite him along for the evening! We weren't too sure what to expect, but it seemed like a super easy event: teams of six, answer something like 5 or 6 questions a round, and prizes would be handed out to the winner of each round and the overall winning table would walk away with cash money!
I don't know how our trivia names came to be- we were filling in on a team for two members who couldn't make it!
It was harder than anyone thought! The MC read questions from Trivial Pursuit. Turns out the hard ones were so hard nobody got them and the easy ones were so easy everyone got them. Two tables tied for the first round, ours and another. We played an entire round to break the tie, but tied again, so it was called as a half point for each. We were awarded the Trivial Pursuit card game(pictured above). Our table won a round and we were awarded iTunes gift cards! The table we tied won a round too, and that made us tie for the overall winners. We split the money between the two teams and got to walk away with $20!

The Board for the club did an awesome job decorating for the night! I wasn't even expecting the tables to be fancy, but there were baskets in the center for our phones (no cheating!) and old Trivial Pursuit cards in a ring around it so we could brush up on some trivia during cocktails and dinner, which was the classic pub food: fish & chips!
This was such a fun night out- back in Virginia we used to go to an Irish Pub for Trivia Night all the time! It was like being home for a few brief hours, even though we haven't participated in pub trivia in years! I certainly hope they do this again next year- such a good time, and Gene really enjoyed himself too!

Are you good at trivia? We learned some really fun stuff, but of course I've already forgotten almost all of the fun facts except:
Q: The term "alligator pear" refers to what?
Um, we just moved from Fallbrook, Avocado capital of the world, and we didn't know that avocados are called "alligator pears!" Well, now I know.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Our Night At The World Circus Festival

Last Friday night Gene and I went on one of the coolest date nights and ITT tours we've done since moving to Okinawa. Heck, maybe one of the coolest date nights since we met! The World Circus Festival presented by Pop Circus is down in Naha (the "big city" on Okinawa) and we decided to make that our fun Valentine's Day date since the first ITT tour for the performance was the 13th.
This was from the ITT advertisement
We had a real fancy afternoon planned- Gene would get off work early, we'd head down to base to hit up Chili's for a late lunch (AMERICAN FOOD and so I could stay mostly on track with my eating plan), and then we'd head to the tour. This week didn't so go well for Gene getting off work early, and we thought he might not even be able to make it to the circus, but his boss is awesome, and got him home in time to go see the show! (We moved our Chili's date up in the week and it was delicious.)
Our cul-de-sac parking lot "going out on date night" picture!
I couldn't tell you the last time I went to a circus! I don't really like clowns, and they're a staple in American circuses, and rather horrifying, annoying people! I had a little anxiety attack on the bus thinking "WHAT WERE WE THINKING BOOKING THIS TOUR?!?!" but we had heard it was more a Cirque Du Soleil show, so I calmed down pretty quickly hoping there wouldn't be any Bozos there! We were never expecting an actual tent circus, and it was awesome to pull up and see the tent all ready for the show!
Just like in America, we were able to get food after entering. Japanese festival, fair, and circus food is absolutely amazing. I deviated a little from my restrictions, but was fortunate not to get sick! They had chocolate dipped bananas, yakisoba (like a lo mein), yakitori (chicken on a stick), fried chicken, fried rice, some kind of cabbage & bacon pancake things (which despite the sound of it looks crazy delicious), cotton candy, fried potatoes (french fries), and some kind of sweet potato waffle or pancake griddle sandwich thing (which we tried along with my yakisoba and Gene's fried rice).
Food Vendors
Some kind of pancakey, waffley, sweet bread type batter with mashed purple sweet potato inside!
So, we weren't allowed to take pictures of the show, or even inside the tent (so, shhh- we took a picture of our griddle things before we knew that!), but believe me it was amazing! There were jugglers, dancers, acrobats, aerobatics (is that a thing? You know where they swing around on the rope in mid air?!), trapeze artists, those giant pendulum swings with guys jumping from one to the next, there were girls who balanced drums on their feet (after laying on their backs) and twirled them, there was a duo who balanced on each other in various gymnastic poses (like standing on shoulders, the superman pose you do with your kids, and stuff like that)! There was magic, two clowns (who weren't creepy at all!), and even a little dog show! It was such an amazing night!

Before we left we were able to buy a program with pictures in it and get a selfie with one of the clowns! He was from Peru and the cutest little thing! He hardly spoke any English, but tried speaking to us in Japanese. I asked where he was from and started trying to speak to him in my very broken, not too remembered elementary level Spanish from high school and college (muchas gracias, senor!) but I think I only confused him more- an American, living in Japan, speaking terrible Spanish?!?!
Talk about a memorable night! I'm so glad we were able to go, and wouldn't trade the experience for anything! We didn't do gifts this year for Valentine's Day- I read an article earlier this year about how couples should spend their money on experiences or vacations instead of buying "stuff" and this was the perfect example of such a thing! I guarantee whatever we would have purchased for each other would get donated or broken within a few moves, but we'll always have the memories of this amazing night and the rest of our 2015 Valentine's Day Weekend Spectacular (which I can't wait to share)!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

2015 N.I.O.S.C. Mardi Gras Masquerade

I feel like a tool for the following sentence, but I don't know how else to say it: The annual all hands N.I.O.S.C. Mardi Gras party is the premier event in Okinawa... or so we've been told. This past weekend was the 11th annual event and Gene and I got dressed in our party clothes and hit the town, er, the base club, with many of our friends on the island. I don't even care that this picture is blurry, it's my favorite from that night!
The North Island Officers' Spouses' Club is maybe the best club I've ever been a part of since marrying into this wild lifestyle- the women are friendly and welcoming, the events are amazing, and I always have just a great time feeling more like I'm with best friends and family instead of just some random group of people in a club. Saturday night was no different!
Gene and I got to the event a little early and saved a table so some people we knew could join us for the dinner portion. Before long it was filled with his coworkers and their wives, and great conversation. I felt like a horrible blogger because I didn't get a single picture of the food, but it was amazing. I was worried since I'm on the whole "no grains, no starch, no dairy, no soy, no sugar, all you can eat is meat and a few veggies" meal plan to treat my candida overgrowth. I actually stuffed almond butter and almonds into my clutch! The buffet was amazing though! There was fruit, sandwiches, a veggie tray, shrimp cocktail (which I could eat), jambalaya, gumbo, chicken kebabs with some kind of sauce (which I could eat, I just didn't dip it in the sauce), roasted veggies (which I didn't eat since I was a little worried about the sauce they were in and if there were root veggies mixed in), ribs (which I could eat), and king cake. I think that was all. Needless to say, I was able to eat and I stuck with foods I knew wouldn't upset my stomach... and water! Everyone got a drink ticket when we got there though, so Gene had his and my hurricane!

There was an amazing DJ playing the best mix of music to get everyone out on the dance floor! There were boas, beads, and masks for sale to earn tickets to the FABULOUS raffle (although we went home empty handed, the winners had amazing things to take home!), there was a mask contest (which honestly, I just can't do it), and there was a fun free photo booth type thing where we got to have our picture taken (with silly accoutrements if you chose) and printed up! We took some straight forward, non silly ones:
We danced longer than we've ever danced at any kind of function and had an absolute blast! Gene let loose and before the end of the night was rocking our boa like nobody's business! I can officially say it was one of the best date nights we've ever had, and just what we needed with everything going on with my health lately. We're finally settled in and back on track, this fun night was the icing on the (king) cake!
I'm looking forward to this event for the next two years! We saved our beads so that by the time we celebrate our last Mardi Gras with N.I.O.S.C. we'll have quite the collection!

Are you doing anything fun for Fat Tuesday?

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