Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Skiing the day after Christmas

Guma for skiiing the day after Christmas was Perfect! The weather was beautiful and the slopes and the snow were not overly crowed. It was beautiful!!!
Jacob warming up the slopes!!
Wendy the snow bunny.... ha ha ha!!! I spent most of the time on my hiney!!
Aaron was the pro of the bunch!! Cloe was so brave and amazing as she went down the "beginner" slope. It was really steep and quite a challenge for a first time skiier!!
Preston, Tara Grace and Jacob having fun in the snow

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day in Tokyo

Merry Christmas !!!!
The kids anxiously waiting for the OK to come downstairs ...
Look what Santa brought!!!
We even had our Traditional Christmas day SOUTHERN breakfast...even in Tokyo

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Traditional Christmas Story Party

The Frazier family brought a great Japanese Christmas story to share with us. It was about a boy growing up in Japan. His mother had grown up in the US and so she was introducing her son to Christmas with a bonsai tree and paper cranes. it is called A TREE OF CRANES.
Aaron reading from Luke 2
Not so traditionally at this event, but we ended with a game of SEQUENCE. After a few brief intstructions, here is another family of Sequence lovers!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Break!! Odawara

Odawara Castle~our second castle find. We were on our way to Hakone and saw a sign for a "jo" which we have quickly learned is castle. We got off our trek and made a stop here. It was a really cool stop.
There is the hut outside the castle for us all to pick a samari and samari-et?? outfit and take pictures. It was fun. Aaron makes a great samari warrior, don't you think?? The funniest thing was each of the boys, including Aaron had REAL swords with their get'ups?? That would never happen in the US!!!

Once we made it to Hakone, we went to an Open Air Museum. It was amazing. It was so fun for all of us to play on the "art work" and sculptures. This is called a net castle. You can actually climb up in the net and climb around. The hanging bits are balls inside the netting that you can climb on too. See dont you want to come and visit!! There are some cool things to see.
In the Open Air Museum there is a hot foot bath. This is all from natural springs. It was sooo cold outside, but we stripped our shoes and socks off and enjoyed the 95 degree hot springs. It was great fun in Hakone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Minami is in our ward here in Tokyo. He is from Tonga. We went to see him practice Sumo at the sumo "stable". We went with the Pappenfuss family. They have 5 childern. All 9 of the kids were absolutely SILENT throughout the entire hour of the practice. We wondered why they aren't that quiet at chruch on Sundays?? You can completely tell the hierarchy with the sumo wrestlers and they all are strickly obedient/subservient to the master trainer. We were just few feet away from the wresters. They yell and slap their legs as they are training. Initially it is really quite intimidating. I will post more pictures from sumo soon...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Aaron's Crazy Office Party

This is at Aaron's office Christmas party. The entire family was invited to come. It was exciting for us bring the whole gang along. Every single minute of the party was planned and organized. It started at exactly 6:30 and ended promptly at 9:30 when the lights were turned up and everyone filed out to collect their coats...just like that.... There were many performances all done by E&Y employees. Some other performances were more "normal" for an office party, but this you see in the pictures was nuts and so of coarse more interesting to share with you!! As you can see a couple from photo there are a couple of the men that stripped down to their undies and one was wearing a crazy afro wig. They had this chorographed dance and all of the "performers" were in was very interesting. Right before 9:30, a group went up on the stage and tossed the boss in the air a few times and everyone called it a night.....It looks like this is a typical Japanese Christmas Office Party??? In general on the streets and in public the Japanese are very reserved, polite and quiet. The tend to dress in very neutral colors, similar to eachother...and typically seem to try to blend in and not to make noise or wear anything that would make them stand out. Perhaps these situations give them the opportunity to be in the spotlight and then they break loose.........or bust a move or loose their pants or heads or who know????

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Bday Preston/Carolling in Shibuya

It was Preston's 11th birthday and a year for a family party. Typically this at the party, fun, maybe a bit better gifts since not as much fun and effort is going into the party. Preston's new friend Timothy is moving away at the end of the school year. So Preston very logically presented his case for Timothy to come over and Leim too of coarse. We had a low key celebration. But I think it was exactly what Preston wanted...
As a church Stake...four wards/congregations of youth were invited to get together and go carolling in one of the busiest train stations in Tokyo. It was really neat event. Remember that Japan is not a Christian society. There are trees and decorations for Christmas, but typically not in celebration of Christ, but simply to be festive and the retailers hope for increased sales as the Asians begin to "celebrate" by buying more and maybe giving a girlfriend or boyfriend a gift. It was explained to me as being a bit like Valentines for the US...a nice holiday for couples to go out and buy gifts...So here are 60 or so mostly non-Asian looking people in a very busy area of Tokyo on a Friday evening singing Christmas carols. It was amazing to watch the reactions of passerbys. Some would take their earphones out of their ears as they passed by just to hear what it was we were doing, some would stop and listen at length, flowers were bought and given to us, some people would just look at us from the corner of their eyes, some would openly smile, but most were really curious to say the least. We were able to share some of the true spirit of Christmas. The missionaries and other Japanese speakers were there. Many of the kids were handing out pamphlets about the church and Christ. It was really fun to see Cloe and some of her friends slowly get over their hesitation about approaching people to hand them a pamphlet to the point that when we decided to wrap it up, they did not want to stop. It was great!!

Monday, December 3, 2007

DISNEY Tokyo Take 2

Aaron just HAD to check Disney off of his list of things to do so here we go to try Disney for a second time. We were told about this web site that we could check the attendance from the prior year. It worked for us!! This was a great time!!! Right from the entrance..........Jacob gets the proper attention from Smee. It was all in all a great Disney experience....a stark contrast from our first visit ....thank goodness!! The boys and I got to ride Space Mountain (several times), Thunder Mountain, and all of us enjoyed the Halloween Haunted House, Pirates of the Carribean (twice!), It's a Small world, was a great time!
Aaron and his most compatible character....
Spinning Tea cups Cloe, Preston and Jacob

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Back to Tokyo

We had a driver and a extra big van pick us up from the airport in Tokyo. As you can see we did a little bit of shopping while in Georgia. We hardly had room to sit in the van with all of the luggage. He was so patient as we loaded our CHRISTMAS tree into the van.....YES...we bought an aritifical, pre lit tree. The real ones are more that $400 in Tokyo and the artificial ones are expensive and not as nice as what we were seeing in the US. We checked into sending it by was $600 to ship. SOOOO we just brought it with us on the plane. It only cost us $100. The airport people did not even blink. It was unbelievably easy....our trip home really could not have gone better. We were prepared for all kinds of problems, but it was perfectly smooth. Even with a Christmas tree in tow.....

Being with Family for Thankgiving was such a treat. We were all feeling a bit homesick. Missing a week and four days of school was a bit of a challenge for the kids upon returning, but it all turned out well. We love Georgia and our friends and family there. It was nice to come back to Tokyo......being away and then comeing back made it feel more like was a good thing for us all...
One of the first events after getting back was Winterfest....a huge school sponsored event. One thing we did was the kimono dressing. This is Tara Grace all made up and ready in her kimono.
The kids are all dressed in age appropriate attire. The kids wear different kimonos and things are tied differently based on their cool.....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Visiting with Family and Friends in Georgia

AnnaLea choreographed a wonderful show with many of the cousins. It was so fun!
ANT NEESIE was gracious enough to allow Cloe to have two of her sisterhood friends over to spend the night during our visit. This is Abbie, Sarah and Cloe.
Kelli cutting into her fabulous cheese cake!! One of her many delicious concoctions.
Tara and Tawni....who do you think is more excited about the princesses???
The traditional sequence tourney....if only I had gotten a pic of when they had two games going on this table. If you got a picture of it, I would love to have one!! Here is Rob and Aaron....the absolute LEAST competitive of the bunch...

Thanksgiving in Georgia

It may look like Christmas, but Santa came to see us in GA on Thanksgiving!! In fact Grandpa Gagnon is one of Santa's helpers this year!! He is also knowns as Santa Bob!! Here he is with the grandkids!
The sister in laws could not resist a photo op with Santa too!!
Tara and River...hanging out at Denise's--our annual day after Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. It was so fun!
One of our family gatherings was at the Higginbothams....Janessa (my cousin) got her mission call to Madrid, Spain. It was so cool that we were all able to be there when she opened her letter to see where in the world she would go...she will report to the Misson Training Center in early 2008.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


In November Grandad died. We found out on Thursday and hopped on a plane headed for Atlanta on Friday. I miss him. Eric did such a fantastic job with the eulogy. I laughed, cried and just generally loved the whole thing. It was so great!! Grandad has left us each with such a legacy of missionary work, family first, the undeniable value of relationships, service to others...and so much more. If you have a favorite memory to share or want to post one of Grandad's personal cliche's, just leave a comment here. DON'T FORGET!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Disney BUST

In October the kids had a few days off. We had been told that these days were not a Japanese holidays so they would be good days to go to Disney World. OH MY!! Was that ever the wrong info...It was a total BUST!! We waited a bit to buy tickets...not too uncommon right??!!When we got inside....ugh! There were lines to get into the lines....The Characters were there with lines to say hello to them. Jacob really likes Smee from Peter Pan. We followed him around (not too popular of a character so he should not be too difficult, right??). He was totally ignoring us. Everytime we got close he would pose with someone else and turn his back to us. We gave up and told Jacob just to pose in the area of Smee and this is the best we could come up with.... The people you see in the photo above beside Smee are not actually park employees. It was Halloween and so I think everyone felt obligated to dress up too....
Look at the numbers of people. There was a wait for about 2 hours and 20 minutes for Pirates of the Carribean. We did not ride one ride...BUST!!!!!!!!!!At least we left early enough that we were able to go out to lunch and enjoy the rest of the day at home relaxing.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Feeding the Tokyo Homeless

I am the room mom for Preston's 5th grade class. Every year they do what they call the ASIJ Rice Project. Each grade takes a turn making rice balls with pickled plums in the center of them, sounds tastey, huh?!! They are called onigiri. On this Friday, Preston's class mates took turns coming into the faculty lounge and making the onigiri. They made hundreds of them. On the following Saturday we had the opportunity to go and help distribute the onigiri beside another organization that feeds the homeless each Saturday. I am told that the government claims there is no homeless problem in Tokyo so the churches and other charity minded organizations offer help and relief as they can.

On Saturday, we were not prepare for what we saw. There were hundreds and hundreds of homeless men. I don't know why there were no women, but there weren't... Aaron took Cloe and Tara Grace to Cloe's soccer game. So Preston, Jacob and I took about 125 onigiri on the train to get to Ueno Park. I had two big brown bags each of the boys had one. After a while the bags got really heavy, as you can imagine. We had to change trains a couple of times and then walk quite a ways to get to the park. I had to "ask" this older Japanese woman "Ueno Park?" The Japanese people are really so nice and willing to help...we could not really communicate in words, but we both got the idea and she walked us almost the entire way...When we got there all of our arms were tired and aching. The boys were able to pass out the rice balls with some of the other ASIJ students. It was very organized..the men were all in very straight lines and very polite. Many of the men were clean and well groomed, many were not so. The picture above is outside the park (we were asked in respect for the homeless not to take photos of them). The rolling carts with tarps are their belongings. They just push them around. After distributing all the onigiri and being relieved of the heavy bags, Jacob, Preston and I had our own parable come to life...serving others literally lightened our burdens!! On our way home we felt lighter in more than one way.......

Tokyo - out and about a little bit

This is what we call a SQUATER...for reason that you can...well see...this is the typical public stuff!!I guess we see these 30-40 percent of the time. I think the Japanese like the "western" toilets better too. There are also the very high tech toilets too. Japanese are really facinated with toilets. It is crazy to walk in a large public bathroom. You quite likely will find stalls with toilets like these here, as well as "western toilet stalls, they will have urinals tucked away in a corner for the mothers that may bring their young sons in the bathroom with them...I guess this is to make them feel more comfortable in the ladies' bathroom...I haven't figured it all out yet...but bathrooms too are a whole new culture in Japan....
Many...I may even venture to say MOST of the young hip Japanese men carry what we refer to as a MAN BAG...I keep trying to get Aaron to get one whenever he hands me his "stuff" to put into my woman bag.....he has not jumped on board yet....I will keep you posted on that...
DRIVING....OH MY!! What an adventure...As I drive on the left/wrong side of the road...something happens to my brain...It is just weird...I don't know the difference between the blinker and the windshield wipers ( I am constantly turning one on for the other...they are on opposite sides). There is tons of traffic, but not only other cars...we deal with hundreds of pedestrians on the route to the pre- school or church. There are moped, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and of coarse taxis ---they are a breed of drivers all by themselves....The signs are in "English"-- sort of and Japanese. Thank goodness Aaron sprung for a navigation...I don't think I would go ANYWHERE here without it!!! The highway is about 10 stories high through the city. So as you travel along the highway you are looking at buildings several stories high and it has a very limited access. It is like a bit like being on a very long bridge with few opportunities to get off the bridge. There are then the surface streets. Of coarse there are also the underground roads. These road go over or under the surface streets to avoid the traffic lights and intersections. SOOO as you go down the road there are exits on your left and right, going up and down. ...The navigation will sometimes say "take the 2ND right". It does not mean take the second road on your means as you are in the intersection and there are more than one way to turn is just nuts!!

There poles in the tarmac...not on the sidewalk or off the road but right there in what seems to be the driving path..go figure!! On any given street the left lane seems to be for "parking". When the blue collar workers, taxi drives, delivery people, etc need a nap sometime during their work day, they pull their car, van, taxi, delivery truck over in the left driving lane and PARK there ....It really feels a bit like the game FROGGER.?? ANYWAY.......THEN.....You get lights like the one you see here above...OH MY...what in the world am I supposed to do here!!??? Driving is crazy...The first couple of times out by myself, I came home and had to lie down on the couch and rest my eyes for a few minutes.....Driving is a new culture of its own....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


This is our house at Halloween. I have never seen such a celebration!! We passed out more that 1500 peices of candy. Our entire street was packed with Halloweeners. We had the Ison's (moved to Tokyo from Atlanta, but "from" Seattle") and the Cohen's (from Baltimore, Maryland) come over to our house and enjoy the fun. We all had chili and sat on our balcony watching the crowds, with our Monster Mash Mix blarring, and the kids handing out the candy...what could be better??

This is not downtown Tokyo's night life. This is from our front balcony looking onto the street! Quite an neighborhood event....
I have never seen a Halloween Celebration like this one before!!