Thursday, January 30, 2014

Beautiful Okinawa Sunflowers

I scoffed at the thought of going to Okinawa's Sunflower Festival again, after spending the summer among the acres and acres of Romanian sunflowers. I shouldn't have been so snobby, because as I arrived with my girlfriends, it was still just as beautiful and as happy, even if it's much smaller here. I just love sunflowers so much, I can't not post these pictures. 

^^sunflowers as big as our heads!^^
^^I should be a glamour shot photographer ha ha.^^
Feeling thankful today for beautiful weather and wonderful people near and far that are in my life. That includes all of you!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2014 Resolutions (a month late)

^^a pretty sunset from last night, just because^^

I'm late in making goals for this year, because I've still been thinking and articulating how I want to improve myself this year. But one thing that I keep thinking of is something I read the other day on this blog. How many times I turn on the tv, or start perusing my phone, when I could choose to read instead, and how much more I could read if I did that. So my goal is to always keep my kindle charged and nearby before I turn on the tv, or to read something on my gospel library app before I start mindlessly perusing social media. To read instead. 
I've also been thinking about the kind of environment I want to surround myself with. I want to be in a positive and uplifting environment. So yes, I need to make sure I myself am being more positive and uplifting, but that includes the things that I am exposed to. So I have been much more nit-picky about the things I see and follow on social media. I've stopped following comedians on twitter who tend to post more crude things than funny things. I've removed things from my facebook feed that may leave me more frustrated than edified (political posts, debbie downer posts, too many celebrity posts, and anti-religion posts {more rare}, I'm talking about you). So far it really has been making a difference. 

I re-read a wonderful talk today, called "No Other Gods." Man, what a good talk. I really really want to always be improving in putting God first in my life. To never let non-essential things distract me from this goal. To me, serving God more devotedly means serving His children more consciously and deliberately. So really, my goal is to be less selfish. To be much more intuitive and proactive about helping others. Too often I think about myself or feel scared to go out my comfort zone. I really want to be better about this. So that's the goal: Serve God by serving my fellow beings. 

My last goal has a deadline for my 27th birthday, in six months. I have six months to get my crap together. To get past my enormous anxiety about things that totally change my life. To try and become someone worthy and qualified to raise another human being. Because it's happening, whether I'm ready or not, so I'd much rather try to be ready. 
Baby Castro July 2014. Man, it's scary. But I feel oh so blessed. 

Happy 2014, everybody!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January Flower Season

It's been pretty chilly here these days. And by chilly, I mean 55 to 60 degrees. It's been so cold in the house I've come pretty close to turning on the heater! Yikes. But, the reason I haven't is because I don't know where the piece of paper is telling me which buttons are which on my Japanese ac/heater units. Ha. So, yeah, it's been chilly, and sometimes I want to complain, but then I remember that it's flower season here and it is so beautiful! 

Sunflowers are in bloom like last year and this year my girlfriends and I explored the beautiful field of cosmos in bloom near our houses. Oh so pretty. 

^^pretty Mickelle^^

And it's cherry blossom season again! So much better than last year, thanks to a very mild typhoon season. I'll probably be heading up to different festivals throughout the week as they come more into their peak bloom. 

Lovely, lovely. 

 Also my winter uniform in Okinawa is that green jacket, as you have seen in all of my recent posts. Helps keep me warm on these "chilly" Okinawa days. Ok, I'll stop, in order to be sensitive to friends and family in snowy Utah and the freezing east coast. Just more reasons to come and visit!

Happy January.
Love, Annie

Sunday, January 12, 2014

An Orange Picking Date

It's orange season in Okinawa! Up in the north part of the island there are roadside stands everywhere selling them. Many of them have no people running them, because you are expected to live the honor system and leave your money. Another reason I love this place. 

We pulled over to one of the main orange sellers and asked where we could pick our own oranges (with the help of google translate and pantomiming) and the lady had us follow an old guy in a truck up a long and windy road up the mountain to an orchard ran by the sweetest old lady. We paid a cheap fee and then paid by the kilo for how many oranges we picked. We also were allowed to eat to our heart's content as we picked, so we tried out all the different types of oranges and tangerines. 

 We went on this little date the day before Victor went back to work after a glorious two week leave for Christmas. It was a nice time spent with my sweetheart husband, enjoying this lovely island.

Hope you have a great week!
xoxo Annie

Friday, January 10, 2014

One Year in Okinawa

What a year...

 It's hard to believe we have already been here a year. On this day last year we were landing, having no idea what awaited us.

For Victor, it has been a year of A LOT of work, including a two month stint in South Korea. His goals for this upcoming year is to see more of this beautiful island (to catch up to me). He wants to go scuba diving more, and we want to put his Naval Academy education to good use and go sailing.

I want to participate in more cultural events, and have many more beach days :).

Our year in Oki has included a lot of traveling, which I really hope continues. We love it here, but I think the key to loving it so much is to leave ha ha. But really. Island fever can be real, and being able to leave helps me to see how special of a place Okinawa is.

We love it here. The people. The food. The incredible scenery. And so much more.

Happy one year! Here's to two more that we hope to make the most of.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Books Read the Second Half of 2013

I am ashamed to post this, but I must be held accountable. I did terrible in how many books I read these last five months. It's shameful!! That being said, I really plan on doing better this year. Consider it one of my New Year's Resolutions.
Murder on the Orient Express: it was ok.

I read Persuasion in exchange for a friend of mine to read Wuthering Heights, which I love. This book was good. Not my favorite Jane Austen of course, but the new BBC production of it was great.

MWF Seeking BFF was a book club book and I loved it. I loved and could totally relate to her points about the dynamics of making new friends as adults. I highly recommend it.

The Aviator's Wife was also a book club book, and it was ok, but if anything it got me interested to read the actual writings of Ann Lindberg. She's on the top of my list for 2014.
Man's Search for Meaning was wonderful. I said this on Goodreads about it: Viktor Frankl is an amazing man, and an incredible psychologist. This may be my new favorite book about the Holocaust because of Frankl's structure of exploring what the human spirit can endure even under the most horrific circumstances. It's not just a play by play of Frankl's experience in a concentration camp: it's discussing what he learned and what he observed in the behavior of others. I look forward to reading more of Frankl's works.

SO, I have a lot of reading goals. I plan on participating in this blogger's book club because her selection of books for this year already includes many books I want to read. I also still have my book club here in Okinawa to look forward to.

What were your favorite books you read this year?? Share, please!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Merry Christmas and Alooooha!

Warning: picture overload.

A year ago when we moved to Okinawa, we said to my family that we ought to try and meet "half-way" for Christmas. Half-way just happened to be Hawaii. Such a rough place to have to meet ;). We are so happy and blessed to say that it completely worked out. Victor and I were able to take a government flight there a few days before my family joined us, and we got on a flight the morning after my parents flew out. 

We had such a wonderful time doing all the typical Oahu activities: Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, North Shore, Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie Temple, and Waimea Falls. Before my fam got there, I had a grand old time doing "American" activities I hadn't done in a year such as Target (!), and eating at fine establishments like Wendy's, Arby's, Outback Steakhouse, etc. If only Hawaii would get a Chipotle and HomeGoods. 

I was also so happy to see my niece! She is at such a fun age and man, I can't tell you how much I miss her already. She also loved seeing her Tio Victor (last year she was still in the stranger danger phase and didn't warm up to Victor very fast) and it was the sweetest thing. I'm just so grateful for family. This trip was a little hard to come home from after being able to spend a glorious week with family. I didn't want to say goodbye. 

And now for the photo dump!
 ^^^these guys went skydiving! still the funnest thing I've ever done^^^

We missed my sister Camille, who is serving her mission in Guatemala, but we got to Skype with her on Christmas day, and it was great. Luckily she wasn't upset at us for living it up in Hawaii without her.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Love you all.