Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tim tams and a new bike...what more could you want?

Meri Kurisumasu! We had a great Christmas morning, Jack was overwhelmed with new and exciting toys. We ate nothing but chocolate for breakfast and then played all day. Here is some of the excitement...

This is actually one year ago. When I uploaded the card from Keith's camera...there it was!

At the Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park

Evidence of Tim tams all over the face...and a new bike!

My little Santa baby...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mixed media, shmixed shmedia

I am learning a lot in this class, primarily that my strengths are in digital mediums and not in the get your hands dirty type. Week 1 and 2 focused on pastels and I just finished week 3, watercolors. Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed watercolors. This was my first time and the way they have a mind of their own created some very interesting details. I am certainly not super psyched about this work but...I figure I can only improve from this point. Next week, acrylics...yippee!

Pastel project expressing copy from a poem or song (this excerpt is from Metallica's 'One')

Watercolor project expressing an image to sell a bath or beach related item

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh Shoot...

Jack is full of new words these days. He says mama repeatedly, which I love, but sometimes our conversations get a little redundant: "mama, yes Jack, mama, yes baby, mama, what sweetheart, mama, yes Jack, mama, etc..." Keith came home last Tuesday and was able to spend Thanksgiving at home this year. We had a lovely dinner complete with all the trimmings and 17 guests. We are still in awe that we fit that many around the table in our little house, but I was determined to have a sit down dinner. I was so happy to have so much "family" in the house that I was a little teary when I gave the toast.

While we were getting ready for dinner Jack said, clear as a bell, "oh s*!t". It's really "oh shhhh" but Keith claims that I must be teaching him to swear. I never say that and Jack isn't around anyone who does so I'm convinced he's just making more sounds. Except...while we were cleaning up, Jack knocked over a baby gate and it slammed down on the floor...what was my reaction??? "Oh s*!t!". Ever so quickly my hand went over my mouth, Keith came tearing around the corner and called me on it right there. I can't imagine Jack picked it up from the every once in a blue moon that it might come out...but he is proving to be quite the smartie pants.

My favorite is "mmm, good" and "cookie?" since it has such a high inflection. It's so stinkin' cute how can you say no? Tonight we went to Keith's ship to have dinner with him since he's at work and they leave first thing in the morning. When we got out of the car and Jack saw the ship he said "daddy". I wish Keith was there every moment for things like that but we are making this sacrifice now so Keith can be around every day when Jack is older.

Keith is gone for another 10 days but when he comes home he'll be on leave for two weeks. I don't remember what it's like to see my husband for more than five days. I'm so excited! So while I work on "Oh shoot" more, I am sure that Jack will continue to surprise me every day with his ingenuity and genius.

On Keith's last deployment, the whole seventh fleet got together for a photo op:

Keith's ship is the third row from the left third ship back.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger

I finally have time to recount my first triathlon experience last September. It all started with motivation from getting an early Christmas present from my parents and grandparents, a fancy shmancy Bob running stroller. Three wheels, full suspension and an attitude that screams, "yeah, I'm bad ass".

It is the Cadillac of all running strollers, gliding under my fingertips as a cruise with minimum resistance. Once I had the equipment, I needed a destination. The week prior I had been talking to my friends in Japan about Stroller Strides, a mom and child workout franchise located in almost every major city. We have such a great stroller class in Japan we are all worried what we will do when we return to the states. I looked them up online and found that there was a class at Lake Chabot just minutes from my parents. I met up with the group and did a two mile course along one side of the lake and back. It was a good workout but Lisa's class is no comparison to Mariah's boot camp. After the class, the girls were all talking about Jennifer Lopez's triathlon time. 2:23:28 for an 800m swim, 14K bike and 4 mile run...not too shabby. I asked why they were all so interested and they told me they had been training since March for the See Jane Tri on September 27th..that was in four days. The instructor Lisa mentioned that she was unable to go and her registration was non-refundable so if I wanted her spot, it was mine. Without thinking (literally) I said sure! Not knowing distance, location or any other details I just locked myself into what would become a life changing experience.

Wake up call, Saturday morning, 5:30am. Jack was sound asleep after being up almost all night and I had about thirty minutes to get something in my stomach and get out the door. My mom was up too, her and my grandmother have always been my best cheerleaders. My dad lent me his road bike that he completed at least two Ironman triathlons in, my mom lent me a hat for the run that was signed by Paula Newby-Fraser (24 time Ironman Championship) and the rest of my bag was filled with mismatched gear to get the job done.

The race was held at Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton. It was once a quarry now transformed into an 80 acre lake, 266-acres of park and 4 flume water slides. Once we got there, the butterflies set in. It was definitely a moment of "what am I doing!" I knew that my boot camp workouts were keeping me in shape but I had not been in the water since the adventure race in July. The premise of the swim was freaking me out. My mom was super excited and was rooting me on every step of the way, thank God for her. I checked in, got my time chip and then headed to the staging area to set up my bike.

Right around 7 they started calling all competitors to the beach for a pre-race warmup. I headed down in my pink swimsuit(mom's) and my green swim cap(dad's). I was a little bummed that my heart rate monitor was on the fritz. It was registering my heart rate between 40 and 280...not good if real. I like the reward of knowing how many calories I burned and how well my cardio recovery is doing. After the pre-race warmup the race began with the over 50 and under 18. Age groups piled on to the beach and it looked like I had 15-20 minutes before they were getting to my 30-34 age group. I tried to find my mom and Jack and I tracked them down tout de suite. I was mortified walking around in a hot pink bathing suit and green swimcap. I may have lost 70 pounds by then but I still feel like a whale. Especially compared to all of the pro-jane triathletes running around in their power tri-suits. Once I found them Jack took one look at me and got boob on the brain. He has this way of telling me he's hungry these days. He sticks his hand inside my shirt and says "this?" It's the cutest voice and hard to refuse. I threw a blanket over my shoulder and let Jack top off his tank.

Finally it was my time to get in the water, the start was imminent. I waded in a few feet to learn that the man-made lake was coated with black goo on the bottom. With each step I sunk in deeper and deeper. It smelled horrible and my irrational fear of murky water wasn't coming in handy. Before I could really start to worry, the starting horn blared. We were off. For the first 100 meters I felt great. Long, strong strokes, breathing under control, not getting kicked and not kicking anyone else. I thought "only three more times, I can do this!" Then, wham! One swift kick to the face and my momentum was gone. I sucked in a bunch of nasty lake water gasping for breath, once the behemoth cleared out from in front of me, I tried to get my rhythm back, but no luck. This is where I wished I had spent some more time in the pool. For the next 300 meters I coasted along getting passed on the left, and the right, and the left, and the got old really quick until I was probably one of five in the tail end of my age category. One woman felt the need to zig-zag in front of me kicking me as she passed each time. Dumb ass must have added 100 meters onto her swim with the way she was all over the course. I had a total Grey's Anatomy moment after the third or fourth time. I sat up in the water and said "seriously!" (For non-Grey's Anatomy watchers, they say it all the time). Once I got close enough to the shore to sink back into the black, murky goo I started to get my second wind. It took me 11:54.7 to swim the 40 meters...tragic but I had a pretty good transition to bike in only 3 minutes.

The start of the bike is a straight shot uphill and I was on a road bike for the first time since 1986. I am so used to my cushy mountain bike with wide tires and straight handle bar. This was not a mountain bike, no sir-ee...I walk my bike to the start, mount and go. Women were crashing all around me trying to change gears while straining uphill. Silly women. I knew I would be better off just trudging through it than trying to get into a comfortable gear. It wasn't easy but when I got to the top is was clear sailing from there. The 10K bike was promoted as a loop route that was mostly flat, mostly being the keyword. The first 6K was great, I was coasting along at an average speed of 20 miles per hour passing as many women that had passed me in the swim. Then out of no where a wicked little hill peaked around the corner. I was deep in the aero bars and could not find the coordination to shift into a higher gear so again, there I was, trudging uphill. Thank the genetic gods for my enormous quads and hamstrings, they came through for me both times. A pro-jane in the 45-49 age group (our ages were in black marker in the backs of our calves) passed me on the hill and said "great job! that wasn't easy!", exactly the pat on the back I needed for the last 4K. The bike route curved around the park and back to the entrance where the starting uphill was now a finishing downhill. I was feeling great and smiled for the professional photographer snapping away at the transition. This leg took me 34:39.5, not too shabby for my first race. The transition to the run went a little quicker, this one was only two minutes.

Jack cheering mommy on...

As I departed the transition area I saw my mom and Jack cheering me on. I got a little choked up with all of the excitement. I knew there was still 3 miles in front of me but I have been running at least three miles three times a week all summer. I may not be fast but I am consistent. I coasted at my lightening 12 minute mile pace, enjoying the feeling of accomplishment after the swim and bike and taking in the nice scenery around the lake. Every so often there were quotes by famous women posted on trees. My favorite one is now on my signature line in my email, "You must do the thing you think you cannot do."-Eleanor Roosevelt. Childbirth came to mind. There were many moments during labor and delivery where I thought "no way, I cannot do this". God bless Keith and the midwife for constantly reminding me how strong and able I actually was. 3 miles?!? Cake compared to 36 hours of labor. I just kept coasting. The tail end of the run course is a dirt downhill leading to the lakeside where the finish line was. Another runner came p beside me and she was saying, "I can do this, this is nothing, f*&k the dirt, f*&k the dirt", I yelled "tawanda!" and kicked up my heels for a strong finish. As I was rounding the corner, finish line in sight, there's mom. She leaps onto the course in front of me gives me a high five and I couldn't help but get all choked up.

I crossed the finish line in 1:29:04.5, much better than the two hours I expected it to take me. Overall I finished 562 out of 777, 70th percentile but who cares? I finished a triathlon with no training and four days notice. In my book I rock, big time. I did a 5K Run for the cure in October in 32 minutes pushing Jack around the imperial palace and tomorrow we are doing a 5K to show our support for smoking cessation. On the 14th is the toys for tots 5K and my goal is to be under 30 minutes. One of these days I'll get another chance to race without pushing Jack, but for now he's a great training aid and he likes to go fast.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I love Halloween

There is something about Halloween that gets my creative juices flowing. I have always had so much fun making my costumes every year. Now that I have Jack, I get to express twice the creativity. I had a great time sewing Jack's Oompa Loompa costume this year and for not being a great seamstress, I think it turned out pretty good. I threw together a Mrs. Wonka costume for myself. Unfortunately Mr. Wonka is deployed for the festivities this year. We have two more Halloween events to dress up for to so I'll post more pictures soon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back in the saddle again

Jack and I are finally getting back into our normal routine at home in Japan. Keith was home when we got back but he's gone again. He left today for a 10 day cruise. I had a great time at home helping out with my mom's party, visiting family and running the triathlon. As you can imagine I have a ton of photos to share so here are the best ones but the rest are in the gallery. Just click on the link to the right that says

Everyone should be able to download the photos from there, if not let me know and I will adjust the settings.

Last weekend five friends and I ran a 5k for Run for the Cure. It's a NPO here in Japan that raises money for Breast Cancer research. Nina ran with Ben, Lindi ran with Anna and I ran with Jack. I love my new stroller, it rocks! Mariah, Tammy and Laura kicked butt and we are all looking forward to doing it again next year.

This is how Jack slept for seven hours of the flight to the US

Jack at Roaring Camp Railroad in the Santa Cruz Mountains

Jack with Great-Grandpa Frank

Jack practicing self-feeding

Bright and early and full of butterflies before the triathlon

My finisher's certificate from the race - the photo is from the tail end of the 11 mile bike right before the transition to the run

Mom, fifty and fabulous...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I am so glad it's over...

I learned quite a bit about Photoshop in my digital image manipulation class but I am glad it has finished. In the last week of class the instructor tore apart my final draft so I ended up totally recreating my concept. Not something I really had time for while visiting home, but after a few late nights, I came up with this:

I have a week off before the fall quarter starts so now it's time for super party planning mode, my Mom's party is this Friday. The fabulous fifty festivities are under way! the way...I ran a sprint triathlon on Saturday. 400 meter swim, 11 mile bike and 3.1 mile run, all in under 90 minutes. Not bad for no training. Being around my Dad really inspires me to push harder in everything I do. I had a blast and can't wait to get home so I can get ready for the next one! Pictures will be available soon!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

First draft of final composition

Jack and I are really enjoying or time at home with my parents. We are staying busy organizing the details for Mom's party and getting our fill of the beautiful bay area weather. I joined a stroller strides class in the area and I have umped on board to do a small triathlon on Saturday. I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time.

I am almost done with my digital image manipulation class and last night I submitted the first draft of my final course composite project. I still think it needs a little more refining, we'll see how much work Jack lets me get done today.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Our Photo Gallery

I have added a link to my Mobile Me photo gallery ------->
(It should appear under our wedding picture)
Just click on the link and you will be able to see all 127 photos from Jack's first birthday. I am logged in so I am not sure if the link is accessible without a password, so give me some feedback if you have any trouble accessing it. There are just too many great photos to only post a few. Here's a preview of the big day...

I am slowly adding all of our other photos so check the link periodically to see new albums. Love, Jenn

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

This week in school...

I am currently in a Digital Image Manipulation class where we are focusing on the tools in Photoshop. Starting in week one we had to begin developing ideas for an ice cream company named Jolly Humor. The client wants to relaunch their product using non-traditional imagery and a focus on the renamed flavors. My three thumbnail concepts are above and my rough draft for the print ad is below.

I would propose to the client to put a photo upload option on the website where customers can upload their photo in hopes of becoming part of the campaign. The packaging, print ads and web design can be constantly updated with new photos that have been submitted by the customers. I think it would be great to pick up your favorite tub of ice cream and see your face on the package.

We spent the day with Keith on his ship the day before he deployed. Here's Jack showing Daddy how to do his job...(sorry for the quality, I took it with my cell phone)

Today I am grateful that Jack is happy an healthy. I am so proud of him for being such a good boy all of the time. He goes all over with me to stroller boot camp, English classes and shopping. While Keith is away, I am sure that he misses his Bean and Dad time relaxing at I'll make sure to spend some time just lounging around with him. Lately he has been going a million miles a minute and then all of a sudden he'll lay down on his tummy and rest. Then it's back to full throttle destruction of everything in sight. Mom, Dad, Gram and Grandpa...hide your valuables destructo boy is on his way!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We love playdates!

At least once a week we meet up with friends and today we visited with Nina and Benjamin. Benjamin is one month younger than Jack but his parents aren't as vertically challenged as Jack's. He's a little more advanced in the walking department but I think Jack may gain more confidence seeing someone his own size toddle around.

Here are a few pics that Nina took today of the boys playing:

The big day is tomorrow and we have a lot to do for the big party on Saturday, so it's off to bed for me. Mate ne!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

51 weeks...

Can you believe Jack is 51 weeks already? more days and he'll be one! This year has flown by. I never had the baby "oohs and ahhs" before I had Jack. Even afterwards I wasn't terribly excited about anyone else's baby...but now...that my baby is becoming such a big boy...I totally have the baby oohs and ahhs. My friend Jen has a two month old and she makes my heart just melt. Oh how quickly we forget how helpless and fragile they are at that age. Now my rough-and-tumbler is jumping out of his car seat all on his own, bouncing all over the house and soon he'll be walking followed tout de suite by running.

We have a decent sized party planned for Jack's big day. On his actual birthday I am planning to take him to the zoo in Yokohama. It will be his first trip to see the animal kingdom. We are planning to go to the SF Zoo in October and the San Diego Zoo in April. Jack has such great reactions to everything around him these days, I think he's ready to enjoy the zoo as much as I do.

So since the last update we have celebrated Keith's 29th, (that's right honey, only one more year in your 20's), completed a class in Typography, had a crazy Japanese bug hitchhike in with the groceries, swam in the front yard and watched Jack love Winnie and get a lot of walking practice:

Keith's Birthday Cake - It was so hot the cream cheese frosting kept melting. I tried almost freezing the frosting before I began but the humidity and heat made the cake slide all over the place. Good thing still tasted great no matter how ugly it was.

My final in Typography - We had to create a clear, 3D sculpture that displayed copy regarding something in Typographic history. I chose Eric Gill, a sculptor and type designer as my subject. Plus, I thought it would be fun to make a 3D G.

Don't know...Don't care - As I carried the groceries in one night I felt something on my hand...yes...on MY HAND! I looked down and was not particularly happy with what I saw. I ended up flinging it across the kitchen before I tracked down a glass to capture it. After preserving an image for the blog I released the beast back outside. Yes, Japan has super creepy bugs...

Jack and Keith in the Pool - We picked up a great pool for Jack at Costco that came with an inflatable roof. Unfortunately it was too windy and it kept blowing away. Instead, Keith set up the parasol so we could stay out of the sun.

Awwwww - In case you couldn't tell, Jack LOVES Winnie. She may not totally appreciate his method of love yet, but I am sure they will be great friends before too long. At least she's not scared of him anymore...although...maybe she should be!

Running Man - Jack is constantly doing laps around the living room. He'll start at the cabinet under the TV and then make his way to the dining room chairs (which he proceeds to rearrange and distribute all over the living room) then over to the sliding glass door, the chair, the couch and back to the beginning. I'll have to get some good pics of him with his walker, he's so proud!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What goes in...must come out

On Saturday, Jack and I went to Yuigahama Beach near Kamakura with our playgroup. Jack wasn't too sure about the waves so we hung out in a little lagoon further up the beach. Plus there are a lot of jelly fish in the ocean and almost everyone comes out with a sting or two. Even in the shallow warm water, Jack was holding on to me like never before. It was the first time I felt that Jack thought of me as a safety net. After ten minutes or so, he got his feet wet. Then, he sat in the water. Soon he was crawling all over, splashing his face and eating sand...yes eating hand fulls of sand. So as the title states..."What goes in...must come out". The next morning, Jack had more than just peas and carrots in his poop.

The other day I made pineapple upside down cupcakes, they turned out super yummy. When I was cracking my eggs, this is what I saw:

It's either a precursor to a chicken destined to have a big butt or twins. Either way I figure it must be lucky. that night we went to a Bon Odori festival which is a local summer party. There were dancers and drummers and lots of great food. Jack and I had takoyaki (octopus dough balls) for dinner and shared the cupcakes with friends.

We have a lot of great festivals to look forward to this weekend and Keith is headed back in this direction so we should see him soon. There is a lot to celebrate in the summer; festivals, birthday's, homecomings and beautiful days. We hope everyone is having as great of a summer as we are!