The Simpson Journey

Four Simpsons on a journey through life and locations

Month: September 2016

Another Weekend, Another Festival

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This weekend we walked around 15 minutes from our apartment and attended the Belgium Beer Festival. With 113 different beers, live music, and food it was was a fun night for the whole family. This was held in the very trendy and popular Roppongi Hills shopping area and despite all the people there we randomly met up with two different expat families that we knew through our kids school! It was a lot of fun to hang out with some other expats and enjoy the event. Zeke was especially a free spirit, dancing like crazy. At one point he danced with a Japanese young person who thought he was a blast and then he lead the conga line that went around the whole venue during one of songs.

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So everyone had a great time and the kids loved the chocolate waffles that were made from something like brownie batter.  Yum!  I guess we should have at least taken a selfie.

It has been raining so much lately that we were very happy to get out of the house and enjoy the night. We have finally experienced a few cooler days but in general it still feels super hot to me.

-caleb

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The Daily Grind

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Things are feeling a bit more normal here.  We are fitting into daily routines and schedules.  I figured you may be curious what our days look like here.

4-6 days a week Caleb and I have been getting up at 5:45 am  to go to 6:15 am crossfit class at Chikara  Crossfit.   Our bikes help us get there much more quickly!  We are enjoying this time together and building some skill and strength.  Recently I set a new PR (Personal Record)  for unbroken double-unders.  I got 26 unbroken!  Yeah!  The programming is different here than what we were used to at our old gym and they use the metric system so that has taken some time to get used to.  We have been focusing a lot on tempo training and endurance training but this week we got to try for some one rep max oly lifts so that was fun.  This week Caleb hit TWO new PRs for Hang Clean @109 kilo and Power Snatch @ 76 kilo!  Way to go Caleb! I almost got a video but someone walked right in front of me before i could get it! 🙁  Here is a picture of us during one of our first Crossfit classes in Tokyo!

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I also joined a group of girls at the gym for a challenge event.  We had 2 hours to complete a set of 10 challenges through the city.  We followed clues and ran from location to location.  We may not have won the event but we had lots of fun dressing up, (even though we were the only ones in costume) working out, and laughing together.

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I cannot believe I am willingly getting up early to go workout but it is going surprisingly well.   To make our morning work outs possible the kids wake up to alarms on their phones at 7 am and get up, get dressed for school and eat breakfast that I have prepared ahead of time for them.  We are back home by 7:30 and I pack lunches, while Caleb showers and gets ready for work.  The kids are out of the house by 7:45 to walk to their bus.  They have about a 5 minute walk to the bus stop.  We run a tight ship to get everything done in the mornings but it seems to be going fine for all of us!

Here is a sneak peak into some of my make ahead “overnight oats” and of course a pic of the cute kids!

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Caleb heads out the door around 8:15 and I spend some time doing chores before I shower and get ready for my day.  I am adjusting to being a housewife  (“sufu” in Japanese).  I enjoy having my own space during the day.  I try to keep up with housework, laundry, scheduling, grocery shopping and meal planning.  I also have a Japanese lesson every other week and will be taking a photography class starting next week.  I have attended multiple social events at the kids school and the Tokyo American club.  These 2 networks will be very important to keep me connected.

I recently made (another) trip to Ikea to get some household goods and artwork to liven up our walls.  You will be happy to know that I successfully make it home via subway with my purchases.  After making my purchases I spent 30-45 minutes trying to figure out the best, most efficient way for me to cart my purchases home.  The biggest item (and biggest problem) was a large chalkboard map that I couldn’t resist!   We do not have access to a car yet.  I took this challenge on with my little cart, bungee straps, rope and elastic cargo nets.  I got lots of strange looks as I carried them up and down stairs getting to the train on the way home. .  It wasn’t until I was walking home from the station and it began to RAIN that I almost lost it.  I stood there, both hands full and tried to figure out how I was going to hold an umbrella while rolling a cart and carrying a large map.  My efforts proved unsuccessful after I attempted rearranging my load to potentially hold the umbrella.   As I was trying to rearrange things I was getting frustrated. I was  finally getting tired of people staring.  I lost my patience at one point in which I stared back and gave an exaggerated smirk to a man staring at me.    I ended up walking home in the rain occasionally standing under an awning for shelter.

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I guess my hard work paid off, as I like my (almost) finished product! IMG_1247

The kids are involved a couple after school clubs:  Zeke is taking a Medieval Combat Fighting class in which they build weapons out of foam and other materials and learn how battles were fought in Medieval times.  Both kids are taking a rock climbing class.  These are great opportunities for them to meet more friends.  Annabelle was quick to make friends with a girl named Lauren from day one. They already enjoy texting and facetiming after school!  Zeke is keeping an open mind but has not quite found his niche yet.  We know these things take time.   Over the summer Zeke has developed a big interest in art.  He spends lots of time sketching, tracing, and trying out new art techniques.  He even got some alcohol based  markers.  These Copic markers are unique because you can blend colors with them!

Caleb often arrives home around 6 pm and we often have dinner and do a family activity.  We have recently enjoyed watching old episodes of the Simpsons, playing pictionary, Peanuts, or video games.  We have all been spending more time reading.  Here is our book list:   Zeke is rereading the Percy Jackson Series, Anna is on Book 2 of Harry Potter, Jenny is on book  6 of Harry Potter and Caleb is reading Game of Thrones.

Anna has also been reading to our new friend.

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As you may have guessed after our last post we recently adopted a sweet little turtle.  I visited multiple aquatic  pet shops, and did some research online to find out what  would be needed to care for a turtle.  We ended up getting a “Stinkpot Musk” turtle.  Her shell is only about 1 inch big now, and full grown she will be about 4-5 inches.  We named her Suki , it means beloved in Japanese.  She  has already brought excitement and joy to our family as we all enjoy watching her swim, climb, eat and sleep.

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To read more about this breed of turtles go here.

In October our sweet kitty Sawyer will be able to join us!

Our weekends are pretty open and we will sometimes find a festival or event around Tokyo to do.  We are still hopping between churches and are not sure where we will land.  We may try to get involved in small groups soon to see what community life is like outside of the church walls.

That’s all for now, but look for more updates coming soon. Thanks for reading!

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Hong Kong (part 2)

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Apologies! After the last Hong Kong post I realized I left out some other pictures we took while we were at Ngong Ping village and  Tian Tan Buddha! The architecture and details really were amazing.  Some areas prohibited pictures to be taken and would not let us enter but here are a couple more pictures!

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Day 2 in Hong Kong started out really slow since it was raining and most of the things we had planned to do were outdoors. We wandered around the courtyard and the mall below the hotel a bit. We found some delicious donuts at the grocery store bakery and enjoyed some coffee. Eventually, and after a wardrobe change, we decided to venture out and head to Victoria Harbor and Victoria peak even though it was still drizzling.

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In order to get to Victoria peak we needed to take a taxi to the Harbor, then a ferry across to Hong Kong island.  The ferry was very fun.  We had to purchase small plastic tokens from a vending machine to use for the ferry.  We boarded and got on the lower deck.  It was a fun 10 minute ride to Hong Kong Island and was very cheap something like $2 for kids and 3 for adults. We caught a sunset while on the ferry on the way home.  The last picture in this group is the Star Ferry boat.

 

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Victoria peak was highly recommended by the tourist blogs and research I did. One other cool thing is that there is a tram that goes straight up the mountain. When we arrived at the tram station the line was so long. We were afraid we would be standing in line for 2 hours before we even got on the darn thing. This is where my research paid off. From what I read you can take a taxi up the mountain and ride the tram down to get the tram experience. We aren’t huge on waiting in unnecessary lines so we found a place to hail a taxi (read more about Hong Kong taxi’s later) and headed up the mountain. In general taxis in Hong Kong had proved to be very inexpensive,  but the the trip up the mountain was a little more pricey than the local trips we had taken.  The cost was the equivalent of about $30 USD but totally worth it. The road was very winding and the driver dove pretty fast. Maybe it was just me who was being tossed around a bit because my seat belt buckle was stuck and I could not fasten my seat belt. We eventually made it up to the peak and walked around the tourist area a bit. My research also told me that there was no need to pay the extra fee to go to the special viewing deck. Just down a path there was a lookout! By now the weather was cleared up a bit and we had some great views of the Hong Kong Skyline on Kowloon and the bay. Very cool. After walking around a little bit we were ready to head back down via tram. We waited in a much shorter line and bought tickets for our ride down.

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Ok, I admit I did not understand the hype of riding a tram down the mountain but it was quite crazy. Everyone jammed into these 2 train like cars. There was enough space for about 30 people to sit on wooden benches, and another 20 people stood in the aisles. Once were loaded we headed down the mountain. It was much more of a thrill than I anticipated becasue a times you felt it was quite possible for the tram to race down the hill out of control. The Maximum Steepness: 48 % Track Gradient: 4–27 degrees https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_Tram  We even caught a bit of the ride on video for you.  I enjoy roller coasters more but this was a unique ride. 🙂

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Near the tram station is Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Garden and Hong Kong park. It was nice to be out in nature a bit but it was very hot and humid. We were quite uncomfortable climbing stairs and being bitten by mosquitoes. We were disappointed to find out that the Conservatory and aviary were closed for the day. We followed the paths found a waterfall, lake and lots of cute TURTLES.

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If you didn’t know I have become quite fascinated with turtles lately. Actually, I have always thought turtles were quite cute. My fascination only increased when we went to Mexico in 2012 and we actually got to swim with sea turtles when we were scuba diving. Consider yourself warned: I may end up getting a new pet in the near future. I am researching breeds of turtles that stay small. The pet store near us has a “Stinkpot musk” turtle that I am currently considering!

On the way back to the hotel be decided we should eat some traditional Chinese/ Hong Kong  food.  We looked through the menus at the restaurants in the mall at the base of our hotel.  We ended up going to Tim’s (yeah I know it is a really authentic name)  for some traditional Hong Kong food: Peking Duck! None of us had ever had this dish before but when we told the hostess we were interested in eating Peking dusk we were immediately treated like honored guests.   We were all happy to rest our weary feet and quickly dove in to the celery and scallions dipping them in a  sauce provided.  Soon after our duck arrived on a platter, with it’s head still attached.   It was all eyes on the chef as he carved the duck right at our table.   We were very surprised that the restaurant manager, several servers, and other tables were staring!  The chef presented us with the platter of sliced duck and we were given some thin crepes.  It was at this point that we realized WE HAD NO IDEA how to eat this meal.  Thankful for google (Again) we quickly learned how to properly eat the Peking duck, wrapping the thin slices of duck in the crepe, adding the celery and scallions and hoisin sauce.  So I guess we weren’t supposed to have eaten all those vegetables they had put on our table.  oops!  Soon the server realized our error and brought some more out.   The Peking duck tasted really good, the fatty skin was crispy, meat was tender and flavors were good.  Upon further speculation we feel that there should have been more meat on the duck but then again we had never eaten a whole duck before.   Maybe they are much leaner than a chicken!  Hmmmm, thoughts to ponder.   The remainder of the meat was stir fried with rice and brought over at a later time.  Over all it was a great meal and we left the restaurant full and happy!

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For your reading pleasure:  This is a tutorial on how to eat Peking duck:

http://www.worldhum.com/features/how-to/how_to_eat_peking_duck_in_beijing_20071128/

 

Thanks for reading!  Look for more Hong Kong posts and other posts too…. we have so much more to share!

 

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