70 Photos you did not see on Instagram in 2015

IT’s the end of a year again. Really, the very last day  (Happy Birthday Holly!) & two days ago WordPress so helpfully sent me an Annual Report about my year in blogging where I discovered that I completed a whopping FOUR posts this year. I’ve never been that prolific anyway, but there is a definite causal relationship between the number of blog posts I do in relation to the number of children I have, moving to another country and plainly: My discovery and use of Instagram.

My three main reasons for keeping a blog:

  1. To create a personal history of myself and our family which we can look back on and enjoy- a modern journal (since I don’t keep one).
  2. To connect with family & friends far away.
  3. Creative outlet

After Instagram & planning elaborate birthday parties twice a year, #2 and #3 were pretty much satisfied.  Free time for me now is spent cleaning the house and jogging. However, I do miss writing more in depth about  my thoughts and the experiences I am having. I find myself typing out a ridiculously long IG description and think, “This should have just been a blog post.” Or I create these IG series that may or may not be annoying.

I realize though- that I’ve hardly used my nice camera at all in the last few months. The other day when Fiona and Leif got on the computer and were looking at old videos I realized that most all of them were 20 seconds or less because I had just used my phone. I wanted to see more of the scene that I was taping. What happened to the long family videos of my youth when the camera was just going for 30 minutes?

It’s just so different with a smart phone. If I didn’t post a photo instantly, I am most often posting to IG when I am nursing Reika. It’s a nice down-time where I can look through my photos and find something fun to share. By writing this I doubt I will really change my IG habit much- although both weaning Reika and not living in Japan will probably affect how often I post now.  However I do feel that I am sacrificing some quality of expression to convenience. Look over to your right! That’s my IG feed! I hope it’s a good one today.

So we’ll see what happens in 2016. I know that I am my own worst enemy here. For now though, I’m going to show you a selection of photos that for whatever reason DIDN’T make my IG feed in 2015.  In order to create a sense of organization I went with the obvious chronological method. After my intro of course.

Now, if you are still reading I congratulate you on making it through 6 paragraphs without any photos. Especially if you were born in the 90’s or later. I will now speak to you in your language:


Ah, LINE has the best emoticons. So let’s get started…….

After looking through all my photos from 2015, here are some of the categories which explain why a deserving photo did not make my IG feed.



Local Potter finishes carving Shisaa

Look at this photo! One of my favorite Okinawan icons! Unique- when do you ever get to see who actually carves those things!!?!  And doesn’t he look just like the kind of old Okinawan potter that you hope hand-carved your Shiisaa? (I’m talking to you Shannon & Fiona R.) Taken in square format of course- it would have looked great brightened up with a filter- I’m thinking maybe Clarendon or LoFi. To really bring out the color of that clay. So why didn’t I ever post it? Maybe because I was too busy because on this same day Denise and Alex flew in from Germany and that was the main reason for attending the Tsuboya Pottery Festival where this photo was taken. Maybe because driving home through the narrow streets of Naha was stressful with visitors in the car and I might have run over a curb and/or hit a post with the drivers side mirror. (Long live the FIT) Or maybe it was because I wanted to save it for a long blog post on the subject of Shiisaa where I share ALL the photos I had taken along with an explanation of the history and meaning behind them.  Who knows, maybe I will still get to that someday…..


OH !!!  These photos really chapped my hide. I checked out this history book from the library for Fiona and was horrified at how Martin Luther was portrayed.Now I know one could make a case that Martin Luther (supposedly) nailed those famous 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenburg church (which door I have seen by the way) in order to initiate change – one major result of the reformation was allowing the common man to have better access to religion (and of course translation of the Bible) – therefore he might have approved of this creative method to provide information to teens- so perhaps my objections are somewhat ironic…. but let’s move on…or back…in time:


Ok, maybe you laughed at this (DID YOU?) But seriously?? It gets worse:


I’m all about making learning fun- truly I am- but for my sensibilities this was beyond the pale. It’s just TOO irreverent for me. I just can’t help but feel indignant that these historical greats are reduced to (literally) caricatures of themselves and being forced to speak in stereotypical (and probably dated) slang to entice teenagers into learning about them. (Not the stone age guy though. I don’t really feel too bad about him.) Maybe this was fun to write. Maybe it does reach kids that wouldn’t be interested in reading about history unless it resembles a comic. For me- seeing a rendition of the famous portrait of Martin Luther by Cranach the Elder with a word bubble slapped on it– well, its just not worth it. I’m too much of a snob. But if you liked it, you can get it at Amazon where it has NO negative reviews. In fact, one reviewer comments, “I defiantly reccommend this book.” Case in point.

I did not find the time to IG those photos I took and they languished on the computer until I found them just now and they got me all hot under the collar again. But now– now I can finally lay that matter to rest. And delete poor Martin Luther and his word bubble.

Oh, there’s lots more photos in this category. Plus the continuation of my Okinawan manhole cover series that I know you are all waiting for. Luckily Reika doesn’t seem to want to be weaned anytime soon. In fact she’s on me now, trying to reach over with her other hand and bang on the keyboard as I’m typing.


Now sometimes I would IG fun Japanese products. But most often, instead of buying something, I would take a photo of it. In case somehow I came into a great deal of money and was able to spend $180 on a fish knife. Look how beautiful they are! And those pots! Well, at least I have this photo.


Occasionally I did go back and buy the thing though


And here’s the proof:


And I DID put that one on Instagram. Stacking OK!!



Sometimes for whatever reason (maybe because I am holding/nursing a baby) the photo is a bit blurry or not framed very well. This was too fuzzy to put on IG, but I so wanted to share this amazing display of– I don’t even know what you would call it. Amazing Accoutrements for the Best Dinner Party Ever?

On the left is a slide through which I think you put your noodles & they slide down in order to be served. Who knows, but anything that involves food acting like it’s at a water park sounds fun to me. The other one I’m not sure but I know there are lights and music involved. Talk about an amazing interactive dinner experience!  Sadly I did not buy either of these or take a very good photo. But please come over for dinner anyway. I will make you some Goya Chanpuru. 



I did not take enough of these photos, I did not share enough of these photos and I did not buy enough of these T-shirts. Next to not learning Japanese, these are my biggest regrets from my time in Japan.  The only thing I can offer as an explanation is my plan to (along with every other photo) make a blog post about it with many other photos of the same ilk. Please don’t forget that “All the girls are like the goblin.” I truly miss shopping in Japan. It’s just not as entertaining in the U.S.



There’s always lots of these. Fiona is the biggest culprit. Here she is showing off her lost tooth space.


I’m always deleting the ones she creates with kid apps. This one I kept because it was both creative and creepy. Plus I knew I would want to use it somewhere. YOUR’E WELCOME.


Obviously in this one I fell asleep in Leif’s bed (I can tell by the sheets) while reading a book and then he or Fiona took a photo of me.  Or maybe it was for sure Leif and then he figured out how to switch the camera and took this photo:


Its not always the kids who are to blame though.


I did NOT know this was being taken of me, but I am sure Rijen took it- not because he enjoyed the view but perhaps because he was making fun of how my phone is falling out of my pocket. Wow….look how big and fat the iphone 4 is! I don’t have that problem anymore with my much thinner iPhone5 and I can’t wait for someone to take a photo of my bum to prove it.

But in the meantime I will give you a much cuter bum:





Why did I take this? What is that on the ground? Is that Fiona’s foot or Leif’s? Maybe I was holding my phone and took it by accident? These are the kind of questions that keep me up at night.


I don’t remember this incident but we can Sherlock it out.  There’s the towel, & Reika is naked so she must have just come from a bath. But why did I not immediately put a diaper on her like I always do? Though cute, we all know how dangerous a naked baby is. And was she getting into the trash? Cleaning the floor? Both?   Is this vantage point from my height or one of my kids? Again, a mystery.


Ah, the selfie. I love it as much as the next narcissist. And from what I can tell, there are a LOT of us out there. However, I was born in the 70’s so I’m just not as good as you Carolyn and Maria!! You better believe I’m not going to put a selfie up unless it is with a child (that still counts right?) or if it looks really effortless like- what, this? Or it has to be totally self-aware. I KNOW I look good with this marathon medal!! (IG Series with Shannon after the HK Marathon). So, if it doesn’t turn out, and I don’t have the time or patience to take 50 photos, I don’t post it. And luckily for your viewing pleasure, these didn’t get deleted. So why didn’t they work out? Well, maybe the photo was



(This was a challenging one. We had just been at the beach- went to investigate this giant Shiisaa. I was trying to compose the photo with myself, the whole Shiisaa AND Fiona in the back behind me. It is funny to see her climbing up there. Plus if I remember correctly I was barefoot and it was burning hot. So I gave up. It would have been a cool shot had it worked out!)


Ah, the inevitable thumb photo. Shannon and I really didn’t take ENOUGH selfies during our seawall runs. Thankfully all the miles we spent training are etched into my memory. However, when we did happen to get the phone out, the photo only turned out slightly better than this one. I think it was at this point when Shannon helpfully pointed out that you can use the side button to take a selfie. Speaking of thumbs, there’s also


It’s a problem. Almost as bad as



Of COURSE I’m going to sneak a good one in here! While I had a lot of fun getting a smokey eye from my friend Kristen, I was too self-conscious to post a selfie. Until now!!! Can’t a girl pretend that she is part of Tyra Banks ANTM Cycle 30: Thirty Somethings  and in a commercial for CoverGirl Lash Blast Ultra Max Thickening Lengthening Extreme Effect Mascara? Pick me Tyra! And my niece Sara. She’d kill it. Plus, the drama of us competing for the top spot would be riveting.





I love this photo. I had forgotten about it. It reminds me of everything I love about Okinawa. I used to try and take the nice camera on most every outing, but now have gotten comfortable just using the decent iPhone camera. However it doesn’t quite capture moments like this one.

So for all of those reasons and probably a lot more, THESE are the photos you did NOT see on IG during 2015. Here are a few more for each month- just to see the year in review. Not necessarily representative of the most important events of 2015, but they show memories I am glad I captured.


Traditionally at this time of the year Okinawans make Moochi which is similar but not the same as Mochi. All the moms are invited to help with the actual ingredient inside and then the children wrap them in the leaves. The leaves imbue a subtle flavor to the moochi. Here Fiona is assisting a girl in the younger class. Of course they all were instructed to wear kerchiefs and aprons. So that they look ADORABLE!  KAWAII!!


I also traveled to Hong Kong with Shannon to run the HK marathon where they restricted traffic so that the course could go on highways, over bridges and inside tunnels providing many unique views like this one. Of course it would be better without the smog, but that’s HK!




February was the month of Elsa- both in the sense of her being part of the international consciousness- it seemed everywhere I turned I could hear “Let it Go” being sung in every language. Or maybe that was just Fiona behind me.  I dressed up as Elsa twice this month: once to run the Okinawa marathon and then to perform (myself singing Let it Go in Japanese- ask me for a repeat performance) at Fiona & Leif’s preschool. Here’s a photo of my 15 minutes as a celebrity & being mobbed by cute Japanese preschoolers and their parents wanting photo ops. I really had a lot of fun doing this but Fiona was mad that I stole her crown and gloves.


I also was invited to observe a Shinto ceremony at a nearby shrine. If I understood it correctly, these are O-mikuji (fortunes) for the new year wrapped and tied on the fence. I hope that everyone had a good fortune!



In March we traveled to Taiwan & on the first day we went to the incredible National Palace museum where they don’t allow photography inside the exhibit. Maybe that was why Reika got so much attention at the entrance. She was passed around between countless visitors and there are lots of photos of her floating around out there.


All that attention tired her out.


Denise and Alex (and the Osterhase) came to visit this month! There were lots of terrific photos taken, but I think these were the funniest.


Germans watch a goat jumping on woman while her boyfriend takes photo


Stilt walking is a universal skill. Or is it?


At the end of April the new mall opened and I fell in love and went there often. I even wrote an article about the mall here where Fiona is featured for eternity whenever someone moves to Okinawa and wants to figure out how to get to the mall.

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Pictured in this slideshow is a shot of the mall from the top floor, my friend working the register at Uniqlo, Leif who was scared of a robot and wouldn’t go say hi & the kids enjoying a delicious lunch at the food court.



June is lovely summertime in Okinawa. This was the most awesome park. I always thought I would take more photos but we always had too much fun.


We also had a lot of fun with our neighbors on base. This photo tells me two things:

  1. A photo can contain some amazing kinetic and potential energy when water balloons are involved.
  2. It’s best to open your eyes when attempting to catch a water balloon.



In July we tried to soak up as much of Okinawa as possible as it was our last month there. My Japanese friends and I did a lot of fun things together & we all regretted that I didn’t have at least one more year.

We also went to the beach one last time as pictured here. It was fun until this crazy Okinawan lady started to pretend to attack Leif and Rio.


Just kidding, that was Rio’s mom. She used to be a mermaid in Tokyo. More on that later, I promise. And you know that is true because it is well, Japan. Anything can happen in Japan.

That is why we were so sad to get on the plane in



..BUT enjoying an ice cream sundae out of fine china while watching a movie in comfort eased matters just a bit.


August was spent visiting family in Utah and in Arizona before returning to Virginia. We traded in one beautiful landscape for another. Here is Fiona (who wasn’t as acclimated to colder weather) looking over the railing with two friends. They are all much taller than the last time they were together!


This month was back to school and back to work for everyone.  The house needed some work done & if you DO follow my IG feed you already know all about that because I posted something about that daily ad nauseam until I got a bit burned out. So I won’t put any of that on here. Besides the kids, all of my time consisted of going through and organizing all of the things we had in storage for the past 6 years and then receiving and doing the same thing with all of our stuff that arrived from Okinawa in two shipments. I came across lots of memories and some of you may have received a text or two or more from me sharing some of those before I either threw the item away or stored it again.  The photo that inspired the following texts is a keeper though. It is an “outtake” from the last formal family picture we took in ’96.




We were happy to have houseguests right around Halloween. SteffananPolly have visited us at every location & we always have a lot of fun and eat really well. We took this impromptu photo with the jack o’lanterns right before they left. Leif still poses like he is in Japan and Fiona still loves kissing Reika.

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In November I finally got around to organizing all of the bathroom and laundry items. This photo represents a very important occasion in that I finally got rid of my mom’s bottle of clinique lotion that I have been taking around with me for the past 15 years. My friend Melinda helped me have the courage to throw it away and I took this photo more as proof than needing a memory of the bottle. I must admit though, I filled the sack up with other items to toss out and had several impulses to get that bottle back out of the trash but I didn’t. If you get the whole reasoning behind all of this it, you get it. If you don’t, well then I apologize for a gross photo of my trash.

Something I did NOT throw away that happens to be in this photo is this big box of bandaids that were always in my house growing up. Steffan and I weren’t very accident prone so the box is still going strong.  Plus bandaid technology hasn’t improved THAT much in 20+ years, right? Or has it??

For a more appetizing November photo, feast your eyes on this:


I took absolutely NO photos of Thanksgiving dinner, but I did happen to take a photo of this delicious burger that Rijen and I made one weekend. I believe it was something I read about brioche making  a really good burger bun, so I made the buns and I have to say, it was worth it.  Can’t have a roundup of 2015 without a homemade food photo.


Aleida came as a sort of pre-birthday surprise, so that month started out with a lot of love. She was a big help and as I am writing this, I am actually getting texts from her regarding her planning her next visit. That means we will be planning more selfies because she is my selfie muse.



Ah, Christmas. I didn’t get as much done to get ready for Christmas as I had planned on, but the necessary things got done. I think my mantra just happens to be, “There’s always next year.” So 2016 is REALLY going to be the best year ever.


Leif poses for a photo to send Rijen’s mom to show her how excited he is about the transformer she gave him. He does love that transformer. I found it next to his pillow when I made his bed this morning.

That’s it for our year! Sadly, I didn’t get this published in 2015 like I thought. I had to bail out halfway through to make dinner and get back to real life/New Years Eve plans. However, that means that I am one post ahead of the game already.


So, let’s just keep reaching for those dreams in 2016. Because sometimes all you have to do is just hold your hands up high and want it.


And sometimes you get hit in the face with a water balloon.

Happy New Year friends!

Here’s to 2016. 



2 responses to “70 Photos you did not see on Instagram in 2015

  1. This post is impressive (not that your last 4 posts weren’t). I just can’t believe the time and effort that must have gone into going through all the pictures and writing about all of them. My 2 favorite pictures are the princess in the Reika dress, and the selfie of you with your eyes closed. Can’t wait for your next 3 posts this year!


  2. I really enjoyed reading your blog again. It was nice to see you and your children and your sister about whom your Dad had talked. I hope we can get together or either talk on the phone sometime soon.


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