We got a few more days in Auburn, after leaving Ann Arbor. I hate the last few days in America, it's all rushed and it always seems like I havent been there long enough. I suppose it never is long enough! I hadn't taken any photos of my beautiful engagement ring, so I knew I needed to have some! These were taken in the mirror, so they look like I'm wearing it on the wrong hand! But I certainly am not, as I have wanted my whole life to have a ring on my left ring finger. Josh got the perfect ring, exactly what I had mentioned that I would like, and lovely and sparkly. I never take it off, and sometimes I catch myself just staring at it in awe! I love my ring because its a nice modern cut, with a modern ring, but a very traditional raised setting. I wasn't ready to have any pictures of my hands until my nails looked nice! I was lucky enough that Mary booked us all in to get Shellac Manicures late one evening after shopping at Whole Foods. I get lots of compliments on my ring all the time, but I don't even care what people thing - I love it and Josh so, so much!
Thursday, 24 January 2013
Over the past few months, I have become a little addicted to Pintrest. It is full of nice little projects, nice food recipies, and lots of wedding inspiration boards. I love some of the photos that people have taken on there, and I enjoy trying to replicate them....so, the day after Christmas, I bought a double string of White Christmas lights on white wire. I was hoping it would make some pretty photos. For Christmas I got a lovely black watch plaid skirt from Abercrombie, and Mummy had found Josh a matching shirt, so he was such a sport and put it on for the photos. He was such a good sport for the photos. He really always is, and I reminded him that matching couples outfits are so in in Asia! We would be super adorable! But I got Mummy to man the camera, and it was very dark, but she still managed to get some really cute photos of the two of us together! I was super sad that soon he was going to have to head back to Florida, and I would be saying difficult goodbyes in Michigan, but very quickly we would be back in Japan together!
We came home, and chatted, and opened Christmas presents and just had a really nice time hanging out at their house. In the morning, we had gotten a little more snow overnight, and a lot more than we had had up north in Auburn. I love going out in the snow attheir house, and since Josh hasn't really played much in the snow, I made him go out with me! I always seem to miss the snow when it happens in Hagi, so I am always happy to see a significant amount of snow. Nara, on the other hand, doesn't seem to get much, so we had to go and take advantage of it! The snow wasn't sticky enough and it wasn't cold enough to build a snowman, but it was very nice and powdery, perfect for throwing around. I took this cool photo of Josh holding some powdery snow, and it looks like he is holding a menorah! Shelby came out and joined us for some time, which was fun, but we all got very cold, so we quickly came inside to have some breakfast before going out and going shopping!
After we stopped at Bart and Ruthys, we headed down to Ann Arbor to see Rachel and Ryan. We had already made plans to go and spend New Years with them, so I was glad that we were able to keep those plans, and Josh was able to come to Michigan and meet them. Plus, they are practically family, so it was super important that they meet him. We went to this nice restaurant in town called the Black Pearl. I thought it might be pirate themed, but it was just a nice cocktail bar. Ryan and Josh both had the most amazing ribs I have ever had in the world - I so wish I had ordered them! I was lucky to get just a little bite, because they were gone in no time!
Visting my Uncle Bart and Aunt Ruthy is always fun. Uncle Bart likes to teach me really random things. For example, last time I learnt how to use a nail gun and shoot a pistol. This time, I got to learn how to chop wood for the wood burner that they have. Its not using an axe, but instead a giant machine which splits the wood using pressure. It was super fun!
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
After a really late night, and then getting up to make gingerbread at 5 in the morning, we packed up our bags and headed to Ann Arbor. On our way, we stopped to visit our cousins and Aunt and Uncle. They were so happy for me, and it was nice to get to share our happy news with some family and friends. My cousin Kate had just gotten married last year! I was in Japan for the wedding so it was nice to hear about it. We spent time with Kyle and Conner, which was so nice as they are my cousins which I spend the most time with. And best of all they got to meet Josh. And everyone loves him. But honestly, who wouldn't?
That same afternoon, we packed our bags and headed to Tampa Airport. Luckily Josh had managed to secure a seat on the same flight as me,Mao he could come to Michigan and meet my parents. I was nervous, but I knew they would love him! We had a late flight, but everyone met us when we arrived, and Shelby had even made a cute sign for us, with a balloon. I love that we do that in our family! We had dinner, and then I came home and make gingerbread cookies. While I had been away, Shelby had bought me some decorating stuff. I certainly have no future in anything bakery related, but I loved making all the different people in our house out of gingerbread!
My last morning in Florida, we headed down to the beach to meet Josh's friend Ben and his girlfriend. They live in DC and I was really lucky that he was flying in to come home, the day that Josh needed him to film the engagement! We had a great breakfast with eggs, and pancakes and orange juice. And I only spilt one glass! Then Josh and I headed to the beach! We took his mummy's Hanukkah cookies that she had made for us! They were so yummy, and said my name! And we got a strawberry margarita! It was super yummy! We people watched for a while, mainly watching all the crazy Canadians and the little kids who were in the water, which was freezing!
After seeing Snooty, and driving around looking at all the big houses in the area, we ran a few errands, like heading to Publix, the a,axing grocery store, and then visited Josh's family friend. He suggested that we go out to a nearby park. Robinson preserve is some kind of salt flats area, with lots of tracks for cycling,running, and a nice river and lake for fishing and kayaking on. It wasn't terribly hot, but I really enjoyed our walk. The sun was out, and Florida is really really pretty. Josh and I should make an effort to take more walks, walks with no purpose, just for fun! I didn't get to see that much of Florida while I was visiting, to be honest, but it was just nice to be around Josh while he was doing the normal stuff that we do! In the evening we met up with some of his friends and went bowling which was super fun! I guess I had forgotten what being normal in an English speaking country was all about!
To be honest, getting engaged completely threw me for a loop, so the next morning we spent some time eating breakfast with Josh's family and going to the grocery store and getting my ring resized. While we waited we went to the local museum, to see Snooty. He's the oldest manatee in captivity, and actually that's because he was born in captivity. He is super cute and super fat. I love snooty and Josh gave me his little snooty plushie and Ben got us a giant one!
Wednesday, 16 January 2013
I flew down to Florida right after Christmas, to go visit Josh and his family.He picked me up at the airport, with my grandma's sister Judy. We had a lovely lunch - during which I completely forgot I had to collect my suitcase! So after that, we got into Josh's car. To be honest, I had never been in the car with Josh and was a little nervous! I kept hanging my head out the window, looking at stuff. It was so amazing!We played the music nice and loud - for the rest of my life I will associate Some Nights, by Fun with riding over the giant Sky Bridge there. It was simply beautiful! I got to meet his family, who were all so lovely, and there was a bit scheme in place which I was completely unaware of! His Mom and sister tricked me into thinking that his Dad had won tickets to a light show in Sarasota. They were chopping up vegetables in the kitchen, and said we could go to the illuminations and then come home to dinner. So off we went (I should have known something was up, as Josh was dressed up!) And off we went, to the beautifully illuminated gardens. I wasn't very good at taking photos, and then suddenly, Josh whirls me away under this veranda, and gives me my Christmas present, a pretty Pandora bracelet. It was beautiful and has charms which have special meanings to the two of us. I loved how he gave it to me, and I was so surprised with me. He says that he forgot another charm, and fished it out of his pockets, and gave it to me. On it was written "Marry Me?" I looked down, and there he was, down on bended knee, with an amazing ring in an amazing box which lit up as it opened. I said yes before he even asked! He even used my full name! To be honest, it was all a big blur, I was so happy! I started crying and I have never been so overwhelmed in my life! This tourist came over, who had overheard us and wanted to take our picture to commemorate the event...turns out it was Josh's friend, who he had asked to come and take photos of it. He even took a beautiful video of Josh proposing. It is like something out of a movie. It is simply magical, and shows my awe and shock and then me crying! His friend Ben took some photos of us, and then we went to a dinner, and surprise surprise, his whole family was there! It was amazing, and David had even sent us champagne from Japan! It was an amazing night and utterly magical, and everything I dreamed of!
Christmas Day came around really, really quickly. The problem with living in a foreign country with a non Christian population is that sometimes it doesn't feel really Christmassy. But I love coming back to America because it is instantly Christmassy - to the lights and the malls and all sorts of stuff! So after we went to the Christmas party on Christmas Eve, we got home super super late. It must have been about midnight before we even got home - and then we had to wrap all the presents for our family members!I always get up super early on Christmas. The excitement is so great! This year, Daddy and I went to his mom's grave to take a grave blanket, and then I came home and had a shower, even before we opened presents! Instead of stockings, we got cute British themed Cath Kidston washbags filled with cute little things. One of my favourite presents was a pink champagne flavoured lip gloss! Christmas is so exciting, especially the first time I get into the big white living room. The Christmas tree that grandma puts together is amazing every year! The wrapping paper which Mummy picked out this year was really pretty, and extra sparkly, so it got us covered in glitter! My favourite gift that I gave this year was an instant camera which Shelby wanted. Not just any instant Fujifilm, but the Hello Kitty special edition. I was so lucky to find it on Japanese Amazon right before heading home. They got it to my house in record time - less than 10 hours - which never would have happened in America. Needless to say, she was super excited that I had managed to find it - and I was so happy to see her open it! Another present which I found in Japan was a Sanrio Yusahana doll - Shelby had one as a kid and lost it, and was heartbroken. It wasn't expensive, and sometimes those gifts have the best meaning!
On Christmas Eve, we all go over to my Aunt and Uncles, and have a big party in the Pole Barn. It is great, because every brings an bunch of food and it's a great night. Our Aunt Kelly also made this amazing cake for Shelby, featuring a giant Jamie Oliver cookbook - who Shelby loves, entirely made out of fondant!
We always make Christmas cookies, and not having an oven means when I come to America, I try and make up for it all in one sitting. We made sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies, and peanut butter cookies. Then, I discovered a great idea on Pintrest, and we made white chocolate, Heath and chocolate chip and cranberry fudgey stuff! It was so yummy! I ended up eating the cookies all by myself, because Shelby is gluten and dairy free, which meant more for me! It was great to have an oven, and during the whole holidays, Shelby and I made so much food!
I arrived back on the 21st, and I was so excited to be back that I cried the second I saw my Mummy. She thought something was wrong, but it was simply that I was so happy to be home. The next day, we did some shopping, and then had a surprise birthday party for Grandma. It was a complete surprise for her, and it was so nice to see her face when she saw all of her friends. We also had this amazing cake made for her, with her dog on it! It was adorable!
My last weekend in Japan was spent at home, trying to pack and sort myself for my trip home to America for Christmas. To be honest, it didnt feel terribly Christmassy, so I was so happy that when I went out to Tokusa, to my school way out in the mountains, there was tons and tons of snow. I was so happy! I took this photo while waiting for the bus, and then I stopped at Calvins house in Mitsumi and we made a giant snowman! It was a great way to end my time in Japan for the winter!