Friday, 29 December 2006

I'm in heaven!

I bought a brown suede coat for $25 the other day in the sales here. I have just realised it's REAL leather too!! Whoo. I love shopping in America!!

Off to Prime Outlets this morning too :)

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas!!

Just took this shot a second ago - it's Christmas morning here and the kids have just headed off to the other branch of the Lawson family tree to open presents! We decided to stay at Robin (Ryan's sister) and Jack's house last night so we could see the presents being opened and despite the 7.30am wakeup, it was well worth it!

We've had a great couple of days here in Virginia. On Saturday, we went to visit Ryan's grandparents who are doing well and were very pleased to see us. We'll see them again today hopefully. Then Saturday night, we had arranged a meetup point for all of our Denbigh teaching friends. Because we were so crazy at the end of the school year, we didn't really make a list of who could come and all, so we were only sure we were going to catch up with one person! Well, we ended up meeting up with about a dozen people, had a great meal and then adjoined to the new hotspot in Newport News. It was a great night and all the stories from NNPS surely convinced us that we're pretty blessed with our teaching jobs in Adelaide!!

On Sunday, Nancy (who is Ryan's sort of stepsister) and her husband Bryan, came around to Randy and Lucy's with her kids. Robin and Jack also brought Jared and Cate (our neice and nephew) and we opened presents with all five grandkids! It was so fun - I've forgotten the Christmas vibe with children in the mix. The kids all loved their Australian chocolate and Jared is very pleased with the model airplanes that I bought him and Ryan - they'll hopefully get a chance to build and fly them this week. Last night, we went to Ryan's mom's sister's house - Caroline. There were a lot of family members there who we hadn't caught up with and so that was lovely. We once again were extremely spoiled with gifts and also got to see the kids from that side of the family - they're all so big!!

Today, we've been up early and opening presents with the kids. Robin and Jack have taken the kids to see their grandparents so I have a moment of peace to update this. The kids are certainly high energy and perenially hyped on sugar at this time of year so we're reconsidering the idea of EVER having our own. Maybe the furbaby that can be put in the backyard when she's annoying is enough....

Ho ho ho to you all. We've got a few more days left here in Virginia and then we're off to New York for New Years. We've got a few plans that mostly involve the various malls in the area and the post-Christmas sales...Ryan is SO excited. I've already managed to buy 6 tops and a new pair of jeans so I have a groove going that can't be stopped! Hope the holidays were kind to everyone.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

Pictures from Japan!

I've just worked out that I can upload photos from our digital camera so here are some choice ones! They don't do the trip justice at all as I can't use any of the one taken on the side which are all the cool ones :)

Here we are in Osaka - unfortunately I'll have to play around with the light as I had the camera on the night setting.
This is in Kyoto. These guys are touting for rickshaw passengers. Most of the trees had lost their leaves by the time we visited Japan but there were still some beautiful ones!
Here I am in a Japanese garden in Kyoto. It surrounds some beautiful old temples and was a glorious place for a walk.

Andrea, Miyao and Ryan eating all kinds of tofu and other yummy stuff at a restaurant in Kyoto.
Okay, it's taken me forever to work this out so I'll sign off now. Merry Christmas again!!

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Safe in Virginia

Oh my goodness, my feet are cold! I've forgotten to put on ug boots and now and paying for it. I'm currently sitting in the basement of Ryan's dad's house and the concrete floor is not particularly pleasant in the midwinter!!


Well, we made it! We had a great final day in Japan with Miyao and Andrea. They were such wonderful hosts and we had an amazing insight to what life is really like in Japan through staying with them. On Tuesday, we got up to another wonderful Japanese breakfast made my Miyao's mother. It was Japanese rice, salmon and chives, with miso yummy! Ryan has a new obsession with nori (seaweed) and so added that liberally. Miyao told his mother about my wasabi obsession so she got out the hottest wasabi I've ever tasted! Bit of a new experience at breakfast but that didn't stop me!!

We caught the train (after dropping in on Andrea and my forum!) to Osaka city, dropping off our bags at the station and then hitting the shopping district. Ryan and I definitely didn't have much space left to pack things so we were mostly window shopping but it was amazing! I know now why my international students at USC say Adelaide's shopping is so terrible. We only went to one district and it was HUGE! Lots of bright lights and neon too - very impressive.

Andrea and Miyao took us to a Japanese omellete house for lunch. There is a hotplate built into the table and the waitresses come and pile up all sorts of things to cook in front of you. We had an egg dish, fried noodles and also the traditional omelettes, stuffed with fresh cabbage and pork and topped with BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. Sounds scary but yummmmmmmm!!

After lunch, we sadly made our way to the train station to catch the Shinkansen to Tokyo. It was really sad to say goodbye to Andrea and Miyao - I got a bit teary - as they looked after us so well. The train journey itself was quite fun. We had bought donuts and coffee in a can from vending machines to keep us occupied and so whiled away the two and a half hour trip watching the country fly past. Unfortunately, it got dark about an hour or so out of Osaka so we missed Mt Fuji but there's always next time. Once in Tokyo, we went straight to the hotel which was just lovely and since we were still full from lunch, had a vending machine drink (I think mine was peach vodka but who knows since the writing was kanji only) and watched the news on CNN. (Do you know that there's snow in Denver?? I think this was the main news story repeated every ten minutes...cause nothing else is going on in the world, right??)

The flight to New York was fine and we arrived around 12 noon on Wednesday at our hotel in New York. I had a raging headache and Ryan wanted to nap so we stopped at the drugstore and then went to our room to rest. (I indulged my Diet Dr Pepper obsession too - priorities!) Well, that was a bit of a mistake as we slept til 9pm and missed the entire day but at least we're not jetlagged anymore! The next day, we pretty much had to head straight to the airport to catch our flight to Virginia so we didn't see much of New York at all this time. However, since we're heading back up in a week or so for New Years' I wasn't too gutted!

We arrived last night in Virginia after a ton of delays at JFK. The gate was absolutely packed with all the holiday travel and Delta was doing a pretty average job of managing the crowd. Still, once on the plane, the flight was fine and we were met at the gate in Richmond by Ryan's dad, his wife Lucy, Ryan's sister and our neice and nephew. Jared was especially excited to see us and we even got hugs without prompting this time! He's gorgeous and so big! Cate is a bit unsure of us for now as she was so little when we were last here. That will soon fade, I think. She's so beautiful and we can't believe how big she's gotten too!

So yes, now we're at the house and doing all the little errands that need to be done before Christmas. Don't know if I'll be able to get online much with all that has to be done, but if not, happy Christmas all!

Tuesday, 19 December 2006


Only have a minute of email time in one of those hotel lobby booths but wanted to let you all know, especially my mother :) (don't call the embassy) that we made it to Tokyo with minimum fuss, the hotel is lovely and all is well.

Our flight is at 12 tomorrow so looking forward to touching down in New York soon enough.
More to say about today but running out of time!

A quick pic from Kyoto!

Taken with Andrea's phone!


Having a great time here. We arrived late last night and were met at the airport by Miyao and Andrea. It was gusty and cold - quite a change from the warm day we left in Sydney! The flight itself was pretty uneventful. We did meet up with our Adelaide friends who are also heading to the US for Christmas in Sydney which was fun but otherwise, nothing much to report! Ryan will tell you there was lots of wind and turbulence but I didn't notice a thing so it can't have been that bad!!

After arriving in Japan and getting through customs/quarantine with our boatload of chocolate :) we went with Miyao and Andrea to what I guess is the Japanese equivalent of a tapas bar. Very yummy though we had no idea what we were looking at until Miyao would explain what it was. Lots of seaweed!! Which was just wonderful for us. We came back to their home late and found Miyao's parents had waited up to meet up so we shared tea and remarkably understood details about our trip. We have decided that Miyao's father is very much like my Dutch father and Ryan's American father - interested in everything and loving to get the atlas out!! They are spoiling us rotten. For example, we had an absolute smorgasbord of a Japanese breakfast this morning (complete with scary little bug~eyed fish!!)

Today, we have been sightseeing in Kyoto. We started off at the Bamboo Gardens in Kyoto and then found a Japanese garden and temple. Most of the autumn colours are gone but there were still a few trees with beautitful red foilage. We then walked down past a few shops to the riverside where we found a restaurant and had more delectable Japanese food. I will have to add pictures to this post when I can because once again, I couldn't tell you what we ate was called!

After our lunch, we drove to one of the large temples in Kyoto and walked around there. This temple is one of the choices for the New 7 Wonders project (which is worth googling if you haven't voted!) It was truly inspiring. As we walked around, the sun set and we soon were walking in half-darkness which made for an amazing atmosphere and we took some incredible photos. Which I will post later too ;)

The way to the temple was a small cobbled street with lots of shops selling traditional Japanese items and gifts. Everything is so beautiful - we could spend hundreds of dollars! On the walk up, we tried the green tea soft serve icecream. Very `interesting` but it grows on you!! Ryan also managed to find a Japanese donut stall...

After the sightseeing, we went into Kyoto city to the arcades. I know now why the international students I teach are so disappointed with Adelaide shopping! Wow, the choices!! Very bustling and also plenty of amusing Engrish examples. We did a little gift buying and then it was time to drive back towards Osaka.

We had dinner at a sushi restaurant in Osaka which is similar in concept to the Sushi train restaurants in Australia. The sushi options come around on little plates on a conveyer belt and you take the options you like and let the others pass you by. Because Andrea has tried most of the options and has similar taste to mine (ie she doesn't like `fishy fish` either), I tried a whole set of new favourites including raw tuna!

We're now back at the Miyao home and since Ryan is probably anxious to check his email, I will sign off now. I really wish I could add some pictures to show you how gorgeous everything is here but that will have to wait until next time! We're off to Tokyo tomorrow - on our own this time - and will probably next check in from New York.

Love to all who bother to read this,

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Made it to the flight - :)

Sydney airport is very exciting. My father is going to be very impressed at my stock of duty-free.

Finished packing at 2am, up at 4.30am. Yay. I think I will sleep pretty soundly on this flight.

Not much else to say - very excited about seeing Andrea tonight and meeting her husband!! 

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Should I get offline???

It's 10pm. We get on a plane tomorrow. At 7.20am. Which means we leave here around 5am.

Should I think about packing??

It's the enormous bag of chocolate that have to be squeezed into the suitcases is scaring me at the moment.

Otherwise, all is set for the trip. The fridge is emptied (almost), the dog is at my parents' place, a few Christmas presents have been exchanged, the house is clean...

So next time I post here, I'll probably be in Japan! Yay!

Sunday, 10 December 2006


Ryan and I are off to Japan on Sunday. We're going to visit an online friend of mine and also meet her Japanese husband. We're going to stay with his family too, which we are really looking forward to! We've been told it's going to be really really cold though, which will be a huge shock as it's been STINKING hot in Adelaide this week.

After Japan, we're off to Christmas with Ryan's family in the US. We're also going to trip around the east coast a little, NYC, Boston and Baltimore are currently on the agenda and I am hoping to also stop in at Richmond and DC if there's time.

Yay! Now we just need to pack. As usual, we haven't even thought about this yet. My first task is to find my passport as I have this awful feeling that this job will be a bit of a challenge. Then we need to manage to fit clothes as well as Christmas presents into our suitcases. Sigh.

Ah well, there's worse troubles we could have, right!