P is for Pumpkins

27 09 2012

For the last 6 weeks or so, we have had the absolute privilege to have weekly preschool playdates with our good friends Ashley and Hazel. Each week we plan activities around a specific letter. This week we had an awesome time exploring the letter P. We have been working in alphabetical order, and P has hit at the perfect time. Fall has arrived here in Misawa, with the temperature dropping about 20 degrees in the last week. P is for pumpkin, and we themed almost all our activities around them.

Ashley started off our day by showing the girls how to draw P on the chalkboard. They did a lot of drawing, not so much that looked like a P.


Ashley had the brilliant idea of putting the items for each activities in numbered bags, then sending the girls on a number treasure hunt. First stop, shape Jack-o-lanterns!

The bags had circles, diamonds, triangles, squares, and rectangles. B chose her favorites to make this cute Jack-o-lantern.

We painted pumpkin ornaments and glittered up some pinecones (no pictures, as I was on glitter duty), and then it was time for snack. And boy, what a snack. We made mini pumpkin yogurt  pies! The girls did all the work themselves, and snack was delicious!

B stirred together vanilla yogurt, canned pumpkin, and cinnamon. She did it very neatly. Next it was time to spoon the yogurt into some graham cracker pie crusts. Spooning was slightly less tidy, but again, all independent. Finally, she dusted the top with fresh cinnamon. Delicious!


Shimokita Adventures, Part 2

11 09 2012

After our visit to the horses last weekend, we headed across the top of the peninsula to check out what else there was to see. We were staying the night in a cabin at Sai Village. Finding the cabin was a bit of a challenge, as our directions were pretty basic (follow this road for a dozens of kilometers; cabins are on the left). No pictures of cabin, alas, but it was decent. A great choice for a larger group, the cabins sleep 10 on futons and bunk beds, have bathrooms with western toilets, and small kitchen.This was the view about 5 minutes away from the cabin. We stopped at this beach for about an hour. Simply gorgeous. Have a look at some more of the beauty:

In the crystal clear water, it was easy to see a bit of marine life. B was fascinated by crabs, tiny fish, and even jellyfish floating on by. She was so excited that she was by the shore for at least 20 minutes, which is an age in toddler time.

Next up, Hotokegaura and snow monkeys!

Shimokita adventures: Part 1, Cape Shiriya

7 09 2012

Sorry for the absence! Between a brief but bizarre medical drama involving a bug bite and a horrible family tragedy, I haven’t had a lot of time or inclination for blogging in the past couple of weeks. Nevertheless, we did have a mini adventure over Labor Day, and I thought I should share.

Because Saturday night was the huge fireworks display on base (possibly more on that later), we did a very short overnight trip all around the Shimokita Peninsula Sunday into Monday. Shimokita forms the northeastern border of Honshu Island, and we hadn’t done much exploring up there yet.

Our first stop was Cape Shiriya. This fairly remote point is home to a herd of wild horses, similar to those on Assategue and Chincoteague Islands. Except, well, these horses are enormous. They were initially bred out on the cape as samurai war horses. Weather is really harsh out on this exposed strip of land, so the horses were left there to toughen them up. Over the centuries, a huge, strong breed of horse has developed.

These horses are wild, roaming freely over a few miles of grass and rocky beach.  When we arrived, they were right in the middle of the road, stopping traffic and delighting visitors.

As you can see, we were able to get fairly close to these enormous beasts. A few brave people actually went up and touched them, but we were happy to keep a bit of distance between them and us, with good reason, as it turned out.

A pony had taken a great liking to this particular car. It was sniffing and linking away, much to the delight of the cars owners, who had gotten out to watch from afar. However, delight turned to dismay when another, much larger, horse decided to get involved. Attempting to push the car out of the way, the horse kicked and stepped on it. When the horse walked away, there was a large dent right where you can see the leg meeting the car. The owners weren’t sure what to do, but there was no recourse for them. Note to future visitors: if a horse is aggressively interested in your car, move it!

At the time of the cape, we spent a bit of time exploring the coastline and lighthouse.

It was hard to tell whether this is currently in use; it looks somewhat abandoned. There was a constant strong breeze blowing, which was comfortable on a fairly hot day. It is easy to imagine how intense the weather can be during cooler seasons.

The beach was absolutely beautiful — all rocky with crystal clear water.

Ignoring some signs we couldn’t quite understand, but which were probably telling us not to go down there, B and R went out to touch the water. They coaxed me down a few moments later.

Shiriya was a great trip! A little bit of wilderness only 2 hours away from home. I think we will definitely be back, though only during the warmer months.

Stay tuned for more highlights — mountains, jellyfish, and monkeys, oh my!