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The Mitten

Along with teaching all the varied tenets of Kindergarten curriculum like adding and subtracting and READING (!), Jake’s teachers also teach him the days of the week, months of the year, Presidential facts, Chinese, and in their spare time, throw together whole ENTIRE plays for the parents to rejoice and ooooh and ahhhh over.  This week we were honored to attend Jake’s play, The Mitten, where he was convincing and terrifying as… The Bear.

Program Back

Unfortunately there is no money in the school budget for professional costume designs, and so The Bear costume fell to me.  This is not my gift.  Designing, decorating, sewing… really anything related to being a good Kindergarten mom!  But, it had to be done.

So I found brown pants, a tan shirt and gloves on sale at Target and then headed off to Michael’s and was happy to find cardboard “bear mask” forms.  Bought a bunch of colored felt and went home to cut and piece together.  Luckily, my seamstress friend, Karen, said I could come over to finish the details.  She helped sew things on (fast, like lightening) and stitch the felt more permanently onto the mask.  It turned out pretty well and I was not embarrassed to compare his costume with his classmates (which was really all I was going for)!

It was a little hard to get pictures because, as luck would have it, we chose the wrong side to sit on.  So in the pictures of the whole class, you’ll find Jake on the front row, next to the last on the far left.  Brown pants/shirt/mask.

And the snowflakes begin to fall… making it hard to see the lost white mitten…

Jake’s best friend, C, is the raccoon pointing into the audience…

And then a star is born!  Jake comes to the stage with the Hedgehog (another best friend) and the eagle…

They ask for a space in the mitten because they are sooooooo cold…

The animals let one last mouse inside, but then they sneeze and the mitten breaks open scattering them every which way…

See videos below for some of the fabulous singing!  Here’s me and my wonderful boy!

The bff’s…

We had a great night and I continue to be so happy with the wonderful teachers and experience Jake is having at school this year!

And for the grandparents…  some videos of the songs & exceptional acting!

The Mitten, pt 1 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt 2 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt 3 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt. 4 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

The Mitten, pt 5 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

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Nearly a year…

So I really have no good excuse.  It’s been a year since I last wrote.

I could blame it on moving thousands of miles across the ocean.

I could blame it on having three preschoolers.

I could blame it on the sunshine.

But I think I’m going to blame it on FaceBook for all the potential writing time it sucks from me each day.

It’s time to make a change and get some of my life recorded here again.

Will begin with our family trip starting in a few days.  Brent has completed his year of Navy school and is on leave until he reports to his new ship and deploys.  So we’re off on an adventure!  Lots of family and friends, with a little Aquarium, National Parks, and Disneyland-action thrown in…

And off we go…


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One of the nicest things about our first year in San Diego has been that we moved here within weeks of some great friends from Hawai’i.

Eight years ago on Oahu, Karen and I spent a lot of time together while our husbands were deployed.  We didn’t have kids and were both vegetarian and so would venture out to fun restaurants and spend time on the phone just chatting.

Fast forward to today and she has two beautiful kiddos, neither of us are vegetarian anymore and we have to steal time to chat anymore (though working out at the YMCA together helps!).  Jake talks constantly about when he’ll next get to play with her son.  And her daughter is just about 5 months older than Kira.  They all have so much fun together.  What a blessing their family has been to us already!

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When I went in to check on Quinn the other night he was not surprisingly snuggled up with his white bear (purchased for him before his birth at Nitori in Japan) and, quite oddly… his cow.  The cow that is a Wheely Bug and is hard and not at all comfy or cuddly.  But maybe he was successfully contrasting that with the fuzzy warmth of a “quilt” (in quotations because nothing about it is quilted — “pieced” would be more accurate) that he discovered recently.  I made the quilt about 18 years ago during a summer trip with Merrilee to Lake Powell.  Our trip was cancelled because the houseboat broke down — but we managed to cut all our fabric squares and, if I remember correctly, laid them out on the driveway to order them and then get them sewn together.  Funny to me that he’s fallen in love with it.

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Swimming Lessons

One of the realities of having a bigger family is that activity classes become prohibitively expensive.  Because of that, I keep my eye out for good deals!

The YMCA announced half price swimming lessons for the month of March and so I jumped at the chance.  Of course, the reason for the discount is that no one WANTS to take swimming lessons in March because it’s still so DANG COOOOOLLLLDDDDD!!!  My poor kids are blue lipped and shivering every day after class — but the boys are troopers and just kick harder and harder!  Kira, on the other hand, starts crying before we get in the water.  So her lessons have been rather abbreviated.  Hoping I’m not scarring her for life…

I do know that the post-lesson burger helped them all.

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I changed it.

The name of the blog.

I figure getting confirmed tickets that will fly us to San Diego next Saturday probably means it’s time to give up on the Navy changing its mind and sending us to Whidbey after all.  So, on to:

Paradise Next:  San Diego

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All the time…

The stress around here is running a little high.

Understatement of the year.

Easter weekend sort of put me over the edge.  I had committed to too many events and was trying to organize and plan in between.  I cried a couple a few many times over the weekend and realized I was in over my head a bit.  Mostly the stress was because we STILL didn’t have tickets or dates to fly or dates to pack-out our stuff or or or or…

On Tuesday, we finally got our ticket information and found that we are flying two days later than requested and into LA instead of San Franciso, as requested.  I was mad at first.  How can the Navy mess up something as simple as a date and a city. However, the more we talked about it, the more it seemed to be the perfect mistake.

I’m not the most happy go-lucky, ready for a vacation and spending time with family kind of person at the moment.  I’m nearly a homeless mother bear who just wants to get settled.  So, we’ll go get settled.  THEN, we’ll happily go see our families.

The other major stress this week has been the issue of our car.  Everyone on Okinawa drives an old car.  I know very few people who have cars younger than about 10 years old.  We had a ’95 Civic and have a ’96 Odyssey.  We bought both for just under $5k total when we got here 3 years ago.  Both have run great for three years and we were happy to be able to sell them on.

Back in the day, when I thought we were moving to Whidbey at the beginning of April, I began to plan.  As I do.  I planned so well, that I got Brent’s Civic sold back in February.  We figured we’d hobble through til we left 30 days later.  And then we didn’t leave.

So for 6 weeks now, we’ve been juggling one car.  But now that it’s time to sell the van, there is no way for us to leave it in the Lemon Lot (where people leave cars to sell).  We have too much still to do.  So I put it on our local “Craig’s List-Like Site” and Japan Update and put a sticker in the window.

And there’s not been a single inquiry in 10 days of listing.


Yesterday I was driving and stressing and worrying about the car.  I began to pray about it and suddenly realized that I wasn’t trusting that the Lord could handle it.  I was trying to do it myself.  Ahhhhh…  are we there again???  This feels OH so familiar. So I began to pray faithfulness into my heart.  Prayed thankfulness to God for having a plan for our crazy van.  And I came back to that prayer several times yesterday.

Today, after a wonderful goodbye lunch with my Bible Study gals, I came home and packed the boys’ suitcases and was suddenly struck with a pretty good migraine. Migraines I get once every 4 years or so.  I went straight to bed and Brent brought me Advil and I just laid there quietly for two hours.  I wasn’t tired, so didn’t get to sleep at all.  But spent the whole time sort of smiling to myself, “Yes, God, I get it. CHILL OUT.  You’ve got it all covered.”

When I got up around 5pm, I checked my email and found one from a friend saying that her friend (a woman I know) might be interested in our car, hers having just died.  But that they only had $XXXX to offer ($400 less than we were asking).  Brent and I talked it over and felt that if they could wait for pick up until Monday, that we’d be happy to take what they offered.  I called her and they said they’d come look at the car and test drive it this weekend and then take it from us on Tuesday morning.

WOOHOO!!!!  We were so excited.  I just sat at the table grinning and occasionally yelling out, “THANK YOU JESUS!” at which the boys just giggled.

Ten minutes later, when Brent had the boys upstairs for bath (oh and Kira, too, cuz when I went looking for her, I found her 3 steps from the top!), the phone rings.

It’s a guy calling about the car.

Ten days and no calls.  Then 2 calls in ten minutes.

I told him it was probably sold to some people coming to look this weekend.  He said he’d come tomorrow.  So I called the first woman back and she committed to it over the phone!  Bought it without driving it!  Just trusted my description.  So I called the guy back and told him sorry.

And it’s done.

God is good…

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Milk Date

So one of the weirdest things about PCSing is getting to the point in the countdown where you are buying grocery items that expire after your leave date.  I bought sour cream two weeks ago that would be good til we left.  Last week, bought some yoghurt that would make it.  And this week, it was the milk.  There is milk in my refrigerator that will still be good when we will be MOVED. BACK. TO. THE. USA.


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I keep getting sort of slapped upside the head with thoughts of Whidbey.

Yesterday it was blackberries.

I’ve told the boys all about the vines we would get to grow in Washington.  Blackberries, raspberries, loganberries, etc.  I knew it was the perfect weather for them and that right about the time we’d be arriving, the season would be getting under way.  I’d pictured us at local “pick your own” farm, boys covered in purple juice.  And I’d even considered learning to do some canning and putting up some jam — going so far as to begin following some blogs about canning.

I know, I know.  I think too much.  I jump ahead.  But that’s me.  It’s how I process.  How I prepare.  (And evidently something my sweet husband appreciates about me.)

Unfortunately, that planning also kicks me in the butt when our world turns upside down.


Andrea says that Underwood’s up near Dad’s house in Camarillo has blackberries.  Will have to give that a shot.  And maybe transfer my dreams to something more like our own avocado tree.  YUM.

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Though I am a huge fan of Oceanic flight 815 and breathlessly await the season premiere which we’ll get here in Oki on Monday night, this is not the “Lost” of which I write.

We lost our island.

Our dear, sweet Whidbey Island.

We lost her yesterday morning.  And don’t EVEN get me started on the absurd argument that says we (with 3 children under the age of 5) are too expensive to move to Whidbey.  When everything Kira owns could be packed into her crib (including her) it’s just unbelievable to dis-allow us to go to Washington because we will have too much stuff and be too expensive…  But I did all THAT ranting yesterday — too bad you weren’t here.

We got the email in the AM, but then had to wait allllllllllll daaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy loooooooooong for the detailer (the guy who issues our orders) to get to work the next morning in Tennessee.  We spoke to him at 11pm last night and I won’t bore you with the details, but we basically were given NO choices.

We’re going to San Diego.  For at least one year of sonar school, and based on the afore mentioned EXORBITANT cost of moving our GIANORMOUS family to San Diego, we were told we will probably not be able to choose our next orders for anywhere but right there.  A ship out of San Diego.

Which means:  4 years in Sandy Eggo.

Now, many of you are saying as Tara did, “And what’s wrong with SD?”

But then if you heard Merrilee’s response today, you’d get it:  “Were you crying because you didn’t get WA or because you are getting SD?”

Clearly the former.

The loss of the dream of Whidbey is killing me.  I knew where the boys were going to take karate and when their swimming lessons would start.  I knew all the names of the farmer’s markets on island and the inn I wanted to take Brent to for our anniversary.  If you know me, you get this.  I am MS. PLANNER.

And so it’s not that San Diego isn’t a fabulous place.  It’s just that it’s not where we were SUPPOSED to go.

So, I’m in mourning.  I lost my Whidbey Island.  And I’m not sure I’ll ever find her.

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