Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Uncle Tommy & Aunt Becca

The VanNieuwenhuyzens
Tommy's sister (Sandy), brother-in-law (Duane) and 2 nephews (Grant -6 and Will-4) have been living in Okinawa, Japan for 4 years now.  Duane is an endodontist for the Navy and Sandy has been busy raising the boys and learning and navigating Japanese culture.  In March, TC and I jumped on a plane and flew over the Pacific to Okinawa to visit our beautiful family.  I had never officially met these guys aside from Skype and Tommy hadn't seen them since they left the States.  I love children and have never been an Aunt before so I was full of excitement to meet these boys and to get to know my new brother and sister better.  Duane and Sandy have really embraced living in another country and instead of living on base, where it's fully America, they took the leap to immerse themselves in the culture.  The boys go to Japanese school and both have done well in learning the language.  They have fully explored the island and taken advantage of all it has to offer.

 This was a huge benefit to us because we had the best tour guides one could find!  Our 10 day trip was jammed pack with really seeing Okinawa and spending time with our awesome family.  The boys took about 15 minutes to warm up to us and immediately called us "Uncle Tommy" and "Aunt Becca", which might have been one of my favorite things.  :)  We spent lots of time watching Tommy and Grant chase each other around with their endless energy in an effort to wear each other out, eating DELICIOUS Japanese rice and other cuisine, laughing at Will referring to Tommy as my husband and all the other odd things just-turned-4 year olds typically don't say.  We got to go to a military resort on the Northern part of the island and climb on the limestone crags near the sea and watch the boys try climbing for their first time (they definitely got some Caldwell climbing genes), and also meet some local climbers.

Grant showing us his awesome climbing skills!
The boys unfazed by the huge snake at Okinawa World.
TC and Grant having a push-up contest.
BROTHERS!  Will's 4th birthday.
Running up the rocks.  Barefoot and with sneakers.  So hardcore.  :)

Sandy loving snorkeling for her birthday!
The sweet aquarium.

Colorful fish at the market.
I walked away from this trip grateful for family, wanting to raise future children in another country, loving the Japanese culture.....and so psyched on Japanese rice.  Thankfully Sandy sent us a huge bag to hold me over until our next trip.  

Arigato-Gozai-y-mas Duane, Sandy, Grant & Will!


  1. Hey I had a question for Tommy but didn't know how to send it to him via this site and didn't want to just post it on his facebook page, it was just about training both while climbing, and while injured (i have three a2 pulley injuries right now), if Tommy could get ahold of me at morganenickerson@gmail.com that would be awesome. Thanks a lot! Love your blog btw very cool look in to your guys world.

  2. I miss your posts! I loved the small glimpse into the lives of a climbing family... so often you only get to see the athlete and when they do "on the job". It also made me want to face my own dream of living in the mountains closer to rocks and skiing.