A year ago today, the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. It was so huge it moved the earth on its axis. We were out exploring Okinawa (and had no idea what had happened), and I took this picture, which is what pops into my head every time I remember that day:
Amidst all the sadness, we were blessed to be able to take in our very own refugee (an old friend of mine who is part of the JET program on the mainland), who put up admirably with our chaotic lives while she stayed with us. We hope to go up to Miyagi Prefecture and visit Awa some time this spring.
Well, I tried womanfully to get a fabulous picture of Eva leaping, which is one of her favorite activities right now, but between her being sick for a while and lots of rain, no such luck. So here is our "great leap". What's the symbology here?
The other day we went to Araha Beach (one of the more civilized/fake sand/fake rocky outcrops/netted in the summertime beaches). It also has a pirate ship playground and a zipline swing, so it's more or less heaven for the Good News Girl. We ended up on the beach, of course, and that's where the great leap happened. Eva waded in the water, loving every freezing moment of it. She invited me in. I tried, and could not do it. It was just too cold. And at that moment, I felt our roles reverse. Instead of me being the adventurous mom, encouraging my baby in new explorations of the world, I became the lag-behind mom, not able to keep up with her crazy kid. That sounds negative, but it's not. I'm excited for her to enjoy this new phase in life.
...forever hold your piece, dudes. Just kidding. Sort of. Today one of my pictures--ahem-hem-hem, images--is up at Click It Up a Notch for critique. It was my first-ever real attempt at capturing a special mom-and-baby moment, with my beautiful older sister and her second baby.
I'm hoping to use the constructive criticism in editing the other shots of them, and then I'll share them here. So please, go over and chime in!
One of my biggest regrets from Italy is never finding a gigantic field of sunflowers and cavorting/taking awesome pictures of myself in it. It just seemed like something people did. But alas, not I. So when I heard there was a sunflower festival here, I was all in. (This all happened over a month ago.)
Well, it was a little different than I expected. It was obvious that the day was dreary and windy, but I suppose I thought that the clouds would break, the wind would be stilled, and the mud would instantly dry when the Royal Me showed up to survey the sunflowers. As we dodged crazy Okinawan drivers with our 2-year-olds, my friends and I were greeted with the slickest sheet of mud I have ever seen anywhere. Eva hardly even set her foot down before she face-planted on the path.
As you can see, she really didn't mind. It was more or less impossible for her to walk on the path, so we didn't go very far into this section.
We cleaned off hands and had a snack. (She kind of reminds me of a Star Wars character in that hat.)
We strolled down the road, still narrowly avoiding manic drivers (apparently sunflowers are a more urgent business than, uh, ANYTHING else on this island since they drive slowly everywhere else) to another field. In this one, you could pick and buy your own sunflowers for an outrageous sum, so it was more picked-over, but the path was...carpeted. Yep. Trust Japan to put carpet in a field. The ultimate in civilization.
And my friend helped Eva smile for the camera:
(Photo: Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia 2009)
Well, I spilled the beans and posted my best aquarium picture yesterday, and on Facebook, where it received a record amount of adulation, even for Eva-pictures. But I've got more to say. The Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium is kind of a big deal. It focuses on the local marine flora and fauna, which I think is cool. And it has the second-largest tank in the world (only the Georgia Aquarium surpasses it--that one was built a couple of years after this.) (We went with some friends, but I didn't break it to them yet that I will be blogging about our every interaction so they aren't included in this post.) We've been to this aquarium three times previously--once when Eva was 7 or 8 months (when we first got here) and twice last spring/summer. She's always been moderately interested, but, ladies and gentlemen, we have turned a corner. She now engages in the full-scale eyes-peeled jaw-dropping awe that such an attraction merits. OK fine I can't resist, I'm posting the picture again (just a "yiddle" one):
An idea of what she's looking at:
It turns out that duly-awed Eva is a pretty fun kid to take around.
Here, she is watching dolphin chaos:
Eventually we actually went into the part of the aquarium that you have to pay for (yes, the dolphin show is free):
Mommy, of course, got to have some fun with the camera while Eva and Daddy lay on their backs and watched the whale sharks and manta rays saunter by overhead.
Finally, on to the giant squid. I say they dump one of these into the sea turtles' tub and see who eats who for dinner!
And, finally, a taste of that famous Okinawan driving on the way home:
Clear as mud; thanks a lot, guys. Also, I found myself in desperate need of the facilities but trying to hold out for home. We were almost there when we passed--no joke!--the P-time Pachinco Parlor. Again, thank you, Okinawa.
The good times have kept coming. Eva found some stickers they gave us at the entrance to the aquarium, and recognized the cartoon sharks and rays as the same thing she'd seen "inna night with daddy" (it was dark in there). And today, when I went upstairs to get her after her nap, I found her lying flat on her back on the landing, feet dangling off the top stair. Eeyore was lying beside her, carefully pointed up at the ceiling. "I yooking at whale sharks with Eeyore!"