Sunday, 20 August 2017

Moving Update

We have moved! We are finally all together and up in NYC. Our apartment is a wreck. Unpacking is going to take a long while. We have been chipping away at it as fast as we can before Lyndon heads back to work Monday. We have made progress, and progress is progress no matter how big or small. 

Our new neighborhood is amazing. We absolutely love it. We live further south than we have lived in the past. It is a whole new neighborhood. There are lots of dogs that the kids love petting. It takes twice as long to get anywhere because we stop and pet every dog that we can. The kids are loving it. That is what Henry said first about our neighborhood, "there are lots of dogs!". We have gone to Central Park every day and whenever we get home the kids have to bathe, they play so hard. We've been to Trader Joe's twice in the last few days we have been here. We can walk there, and it's amazing. And we got some Zabar's chocolate babka we have heard so much about. Our neighborhood is awesome!

The kids are really happy to be back. At the end of our first day Cosette said, "this is the best day". 

Trader Joe's for the win. 

My favorite picture of my boys. They finally are showing affection for each other. It has taken over two years for them to hug each other on their own. All I have to say is that it is about time. 

Tree climbing in out "back yard". 

Rocking out on our drive up to the city. 

It is great to be back, and weird. Lots of our friends have moved away, and the ones who are still here are on vacation. All three kids are using their scooters. I haven't had to use a stroller that much. I have never lived here with out a baby. I'm in a totally different phase of life here than I have before. 

New York, you have not shaken us yet and won't for at least a year. No, we are putting down roots for now. It's good to be back in the city where we have learned to be parents, gone to school, and done a lot of growing up. We have come a long way since our student days. The thing that remains the same is we love NYC.   

Monday, 14 August 2017

Last Day in Asia

Our last full plus day in Asia we spent back in Sapporo. It was surreal thinking we would be leaving the next day, and not just leaving, but leaving for who knows how long. We never know how long we will be some where, but we have left Asia for now.

First stop was the Sapporo Pokemon Center. Pokemon is very popular at our house. Cosette has been talking about it since I came back from Tokyo in January with Pokemon stuff. When we arrived she was shocked at how many stuffed animals there were. She was planning on getting a Ninetails, but when she saw how many there were she had a really hard time making a decision. She said "I didn't know how many there would be!". 

Next we visited the Maruyama Zoo. Lyndon was still feeling ill, so he had to miss out. We saw some new animals we had not seen. Our favorites were the animals native to Hokkaido: the Ezo Deer, Hokkaido Brown Bear, and the wolves. After the Singapore Zoo it was nothing spectacular, but we still closed the Zoo down. Henry was dying to go to the reptile house, and we stayed till they kicked us out. It was worth it. All three kids were so excited to see all the reptiles.

Kangaroos! We have loved seeing them at all the zoos we have visited in Asia. We are going to miss seeing them. Glad we had one last chance to get to see them. 

Rapha's face, hehe. 

Henry and Baikinman, his new favorite cartoon character. 

Favorite picture from the day with the kids. I love taking them to the zoo. They get so excited about all the different animals, and it is always a good time. I love going with them. 

Ezo Deer. We got to see them getting fed, and Cosette was making the noise that they made the rest of the day. She was so cute saying that she could speak deer.

And shout out to my forever travel buddy. He has taken our little family to places that we have only dreamed about. He keep his cool, when I am melting down, and I am grateful for how helpful he is on our long travel days. I am lucky to have him. 
The nice thing about rushing around Sapporo fitting in the last things we wanted to do, see, eat, was that  there was not time to think about leaving. That was a good thing. It would have been a lot harder for me to handle the trip back thinking about it.

Japan gave us a good send off with our plane flying past Mount Fuji. It was incredible. The best way to head back to the West.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Solo trip with kids

This trip was a doozy. The last half of the trip Lyndon got really sick and was out of commission. That meant me and the kids were on our own. We were staying in a family hostel type place. Paper thin walls, no tv, or place for us to hang out around the hotel. Out into the Japanese country side we had to go. It sounds a bit scary to go exploring in a foreign country with three kids and no husband to help, but it was okay. The bus system was not very good, so we just took taxis. Our hotel would book us one, which was helpful. It's not like NYC where you can just hail a cab. There were designated taxi stand you would have to go to get a cab, unless your hotel called for one. Public transport check. The second thing that made it easy getting around with my limited Japanese (I'm so embarrassed at how bad it is right now) is that we were going to tourist places, so people knew what/where we were trying to go pretty easily. And once we got to the place we were going it was pretty easy. The kids would get out and walk around exploring, and of course we ended the day with ice cream. The motto for the trip was when in Hokkaido, eat ice cream. You do not appreciate good dairy until you have been without it for a year plus.

Day one with the kids: New Prince Hotel and Furano Cheese Factory. The New Prince Hotel was a ten minute cab drive from our hotel. It has a ski lift, and stunning gardens, plus some other things. We only made it to the ski lift and gardens. We went up the ski lift first to see the view of the beautiful Hokkaido country side. I did not planning on staying very long. The ski lift went up and down every 20 minutes. We ended up staying for an hour. The kids had fun running around in the grass behind the ski lift. There were also some giant beetles the kids had a good time looking at.

The next top was walking around the gardens at the New Prince Hotel. This was my favorite. Raphael napped the whole time while Cosette and Henry explored the three gardens. We found a tree that was swarming with butterflies. It was from a fairy tale. Cosette took over as photographer. I have so many pictures of flowers on my phone now. This was my favorite because we went slow. We took our time, got to do a lot of talking, and making fun memories.

The Furano Cheese Factory had all sorts of dairy products made on the premises. We tried squid ink cheese, got some delicious pizza, and of course ice cream. This one had funky flavors. We chose the more conservative flavors: grape, vanilla, cheese. They also had asparagus, and corn. We've had corn ice cream before, but not asparagus. Asparagus ice cream? And we thought durian ice cream was weird. Maybe if Lyndon had been there we would have tried it. When it comes to desserts I prefer to put my calories toward something familiar, or chocolate.

At just about every place we went there was a coloring "centre" for kids. It was the best. We left with so many pictures. 

My favorite picture Cosette took that day.

Cosette and Henry being sweet hearts. Henry found a dandelion and was so excited about it. Cosette helped him get posed for a picture with her finger.

Posing for the photo. 

Another Cosette pic. 

Dig, dig, digging. This was his favorite day. 

Butterfly catcher. She was thrilled and has been trying to catch one ever since. 

Day two solo tripping the kids, we did a bus tour that took us to the highlights of the Furano, Biei area. We visited the famous Tomita Farm where there are fields and fields of lavender, poppies, etc. It was absolutely lovely. We visited the Blue Pond, where the water was an electric blue. It was other worldly. We visited an art gallery, where the kids ran up and down and all around. The other patrons loved us, haha. And lastly we visited the beautiful Shirahige Falls which looked like something from back home in East Tennessee.

I really enjoyed spending time with Cosette at Tomita Farm. There was a period where both boys were asleep, and we had some "girl time". My favorite part with Henry, was holding hands and walking with him to the Blue Pond. Then it melted my heart a little bit when Raphael fell asleep in arms on the bus. Something that does not happen often anymore, and reminded me that he is still a little boy, one of the sweetest little boys.

Looking way to grown up in his polo and jeans. 

Enjoying the tastes of Hokkaido: lavender and melon. Lavender was the favorite. 

I have no idea what makes the Blue Pond blue, but it was so cool. It is amazing to see the colors that nature produces. 

Shirahige Falls reminds me so much of something from the Great Smokey Mountains. 

Those two days in Furano solo tripping it with kids was really nice. It was overwhelming at first to think about going out in a foregin country without my Lyndon, but then I reminded myself, "Christine, you have done this in how many countries?". Thanks to my brain/rationality, I was able to gain composure and get out there. These outings were really special. We took it slow and literally enjoyed the (bus) ride. 
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