Monday, February 18, 2008

Escape to Massanutten

Last year in late December, we drove to Charlottesville VA with the Robles Family to visit the Bleakleys. We had such a good time that we wanted to repeat the experience this year. However, Jenny, who always has great ideas, thought of upping the ante. She suggested that we get a condo somewhere nearby and hang out there and ask the Bleakleys to come there spend some time with us: a get-away for everyone. That's how we ended up spending this week at Massanutten. We didn't waste any time, either. The day after we arrived (Feb. 12), we hit the waterpark. Here's Koji in the kiddie pool.
Jenny and Calli
The bummer thing at the waterpark is that I was such a wuss. They had some really fun tube slides, which I should have tried first to get myself pumped up. Instead, I skulked around, shivering, dipping my toes in the kiddie pool and catching Izumi at the bottom of the kiddie slide, while trying to fend off Koji and his pleas for me to go and play with him at the play structure in the middle. When I finally dragged myself over there with him, I couldn't enjoy it because I was too preoccupied with being cold. Note to self: next time, climb the stairs to the tube slides a few times, get nice and warm, and then get out there and play with your son!
This isn't a wonderful picture of the kids, but I can't not show how they ate every meal while we were at the condo. It was super convenient to be able to line them up in a row and then stand on the other side of the counter in the kitchen and dole out food. A feature to look for in a future house, perhaps?
On Tuesday, we went tubing because it was half price day. Rich and I took Calli and Koji out there while Jenny stayed back with Mari and Izumi, who were napping. Unfortunately, this was the happiest moment Calli had through the whole experience. Once we got to the top of the hill, she wanted to go down by herself without tying up her tube to Rich's. Well, that wasn't allowed, and even if it would have been I think we would have told her it wasn't! Rich had to give up trying to persuade her to tie up and walk her back down the hill. I'm still a little sad about it because Koji and I had SO much fun, and he kept asking why Calli wasn't with us. Better luck next year?
Koji on the conveyor up; we don't have any pics of us going down since we didn't have anyone to take them for us.
The day was pretty cold and the ice was fast. On our final trip down, we even hit the wall at the bottom of the hill! But the best thing about the place was this conveyor belt; at the Autobahn in Oregon, which is the only other place I've been snow tubing, you can hook up to a sketchy tow rope, or you can just hike up the hill. I guess the Autobahn is better exercise...
The next day we took it easy, just made a couple of trips to the rec center nearby. The kids were getting a little stir crazy in the house, so Jenny had the idea (I told you she has all the good ideas~) of going to the rec center, borrowing some balls and throwing them, us and all the kids into a racquetball court. It was really fun! Except when Koji got super-competitive. I need to read a book about how to foster a healthy spirit of competition because the extreme pouting and tantrums in cases where he doesn't win are starting to wear on me! Here's Megan with Joshua and Izumi in the court.
A HUGE highlight of the trip was spending Valentine's Day morning out on the slopes with Megan. It's been six years since I last got on a snowboard, so I didn't know if I would be able to ride or not. I think Megan had her doubts too, at first. But finally I got the hang of it, and we had a GREAT time. Thanks Meg! I did get an enormous bruise on my rear end that made sitting an uncomfortable prospect for a couple of days. No problem, it was totally worth it.
Jenny (if it's starting to sound like my life would be a great expanse of boredom without Jenny, well, that's what I'm beginning to think too) had the foresight to buy some Valentine cupcakes for the kids. Izumi, daughter of mine, attacked hers promptly and made quick work of it.
On the other hand, Mari picked her sprinkles off and ate them one by one and then walked away!
On Friday the 15th, we went back to the rec center to get some kids some more time in the kiddie pool.
Izumi playing with "Ditch". That's what she calls Rich. It's SO cute and funny!
Rich and Jim after a tough day of playing with the kids.
Calli loved the set of Dora tracing plates that Jenny bought her. They reminded me of when I was a kid, I used to love those too!
Izumi and Mari, having one last sit at the counter for a quick breakfast on Sunday morning.
We drove off to Charlotteville to catch the Sunday morning service at Jim and Meg's church before getting to Richmond to catch our plane home. I am so thankful we got to experience their newly-launched Sunday morning service; it was encouraging to see them and the team that God's given them in action.

Seventeen pictures and a few quick captions don't do the trip justice. The only thing I would change for next year (God willing, we'll do it again, same approximate time and same location) is to have Aogu with us instead of out on a business trip. Thanks very much to Rich, Jenny, Jim, Megan and kids for spending time with us; it was a wonderful blessing!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What Happens in the Basement...

I read in the newspaper that for this week we had eleven minutes of sunshine. What do you think about that? My initial reaction is not for publication on a family-friendly site such as this. My other reaction is to thank God for our basement. We're pretty stir-crazy with it, so I honestly don't know what state we'd be in without it (California? Hawaii?).

Today we had some friends over for a basement playdate. To Kim's extreme surprise, all Chloe and Koji wanted to do was box. We did have to set out a few rules, like no punching head/face and no putting your hands out in front of you and then running full speed to barrel your opponent over. Otherwise, it was full out boxing, match after match, for most of the time they were here. Please remember that Koji weighs probably 10 pounds more than Chloe! But she held her own. Kim was proud of her, for good reason. I have a feeling more boxing matches are on the top of the agenda for future playdates; just look at the picture below and try to tell me I'm wrong!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Just Say What You Mean

We got a coupon from Block buster for one free movie rental. But just to make sure it isn't too valuable, it's for a "non-new release". Huh? NON-NEW? Why can't they come right out and say, "one movie on us, but you gotta get it from the old movie section"?!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Two Miracle Movies

A "miracle movie" for me is a movie that Aogu and I like so well that we both stay awake for the duration. I call it a miracle because that's how rare it is. It does make sense: I tend to gravitate towards sci-fi/fantasy and comedy or drama, while Aogu likes action (violence, why is it called "action"?!) and documentaries.

I don't know why it took me so long to realize that he likes documentaries. Recently, it really came to light since I signed up for Block.buster Rewards. We can rent one new movie and get one "old" movie for free on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. When it's his turn to pick, we get one action movie and one documentary. The two documentaries that stand out to me (no, the action movies didn't stand out) are: Provoked and The Magdalene Sisters. After watching this last film, I had to ask him what the trend was; after all, most documentary-type movies don't have happy endings (which is what I like). He said they're educational, you wouldn't have known about those things if I hadn't rented documentaries! True. Whether I wanted to know about those "issues" or not is something I'm still debating with myself.

Anyway. The point is, I am exceedingly proud that I recently made two movie choices that worked for both us, thereby qualifying for the "miracle" status explained above. One was The Last Legion. I can only recommend it with these reservations: I noted as I was watching it that it wasn't the smoothest ever, nor the best acted, nor did it have the best screenplay. Nevertheless, it had a bit of a fantasy tie-in, which I liked, and it had plenty of action for Aogu. Bonus: Aishwarya Rai was one of the stars, and did a pretty good job, which redeemed her from the first documentary I mentioned above!

Just tonight, we watched Once. It was rated R, I guess for the utterly lavish use of F this that and the other, but other than that, it was completely charming, and the music was great too. If you watch it, let me know what you think!