Tuesday, May 08, 2007

golden week part one

I will give you a rough view of the schedule we had planned for Golden Week and then fill in the details and add pictures after. Our plan was to leave Saturday night after Chikara came back from work and drive through the evening to Chiba so we wouldn't hit any traffic and the girls could sleep in the car so they wouldn't be asking "are we there yet?" a million times. We would stay with our friends, Kenji & Sachiko and their 1-year-old son Tsuguki, until Wednesday morning and then drive down to Nagoya to visit other friends for the afternoon/evening and then continue onto Yokkaichi that evening and stay overnight with another family (who just built a house), relax Thursday at their house and then go home Thursday evening. We were trying to hit as little holiday traffic as possible but still travel around and visit as many of our friends as we could. Then Friday we would relax at home, Saturday would be spent with Chikara's parents and a BBQ with friends on Sunday after church. I was a little nervous about putting the kids through such a busy week but we couldn't miss such a great chance to visit with friends.

I spent the few days before the Saturday we left trying to catch up on laundry. Fortunately the weather cooperated but on Saturday morning there was still one more load to do. I woke up early Saturday morning with a long list of things to do and a huge headache. I think it was a migraine and it just pounded me all day. The "do or die" pressure helped push me along so I washed the load and hung it out to dry, made breakfast, took a short nap on the couch while the girls watched a video, got the suitcases down from the loft and gave the girls a bath all before noon. While I was making lunch, the girls were on the couch watching another video and suddenly Emi yelled at Sakura. I turned around to find that Sakura had found a pen and proceeded to draw all over HERSELF! I took a picture, washed off as much as I could and gave her a time out. Monkey!

By two o'clock, all the girls were in bed for a nap and I packed as much as I could and then laid down for another nap since my head was still killing me. Around four, we all woke up and I called Chikara to see how he was doing. He was doing one more thing and then he would be able to come home. Besides the headache and Sakura drawing on herself, everything seemed to be going smoothly so I started tackling the last of the packing while trying to keep the girls reigned in. Around 6, I still hadn't heard from Chikara so I called him and he was still working on the same "last" thing.

He finally came home after 7 and had a few more things to do for our trip so I washed the dishes, finished putting everything together and around 9 we finally left the house. We got about 2 minutes away from the house and I realized that I had forgotten all of our blankets and pillows. We went back, got them, closed a window I had left open and then were really on our way. We stopped by a friend's house and I gave her all of my perishables, filled up with gas, got some snacks at the convenience store and hopped on the freeway. By this time it was almost 10 and I was exhausted and cranky but we were on our way so I resolved to calm down and enjoy the trip. We drove without stopping to Chiba and arrived around 3am. The girls had slept most of the way and we didn't hit any traffic at all.

When we arrived at our friend's house, the older three girls went back to sleep right away but Natsuki refused to go to sleep so I had to walk with her for about an hour before she gave in. The next morning, after breakfast, we all got ready and went to Hope Church. Many of our friends from college go to that church so it felt like a mini-reunion. The service was awesome. I burst into tears during the worship service which hasn't happened to me for awhile. Emi was sweet and got me some tissue. It was very refreshing for me somehow and really reminded me of the church we used to go to in Portland. The girls behaved really well during the service even though they were tired for which I was very grateful.

After the service, all the church members bought lunch at a convenience store and ate together at the church. The people at the church were so outgoing and at first I was a little taken back and it made me realize how much I've gotten to used to how reserved Japanese people are. After a lovely lunch, we went back to our friends house for a little break but soon we were back in the car and off again. Another couple from college, Katsumi & Angela, had arranged babysitting so we could all go out for dinner together and catch up. Honestly I can't remember the last time someone other than family has watched our kids here in Japan. I thought for sure I'd get a call as soon as we left but the girls were fine. So Chikara & I, Kenji & Sachiko, and Katsumi & Angela all went out to Asakuma for dinner. They had reserved a private dining room and it was so awesome to be able to have the freedom to talk away without worrying about disturbing other diners. I had an awesome steak dinner. We talked for hours until finally I did get the call that Natsuki had been crying for the last hour. We went back to Katsumi's house and my older three girls were all lined up on the couch watching a video. They didn't even blink when I said hi to them, they were that tired!

We went home and once all the kids were in bed, we started playing Phase 10. We were just getting into the game when I heard Emi & Natsuki crying. I went in to discover that Emi had thrown up and woken up Natsuki in the process. I went into mom mode and cleaned everything up and put Emi back to bed but Natsuki would not go back down so easily so we stopped the game and all went to bed. Natsuki did go to sleep by herself after about 20 minutes but she woke up around 6 so I nursed her and put her back in bed where she slept until around 8:30. Not too bad but my goal was to get her to sleep through the night in the room with her sisters.

On Monday the weather was fabulous so we made plans to go to the park but my head started to hurt again and Natsuki was worn out from the night so Sachiko and I talked the guys into taking Emi, Misaki and Sakura to the park so we could take a break. Natsuki and Tsuguki took a nap and eventually Sachiko and I did to. That nap totally took all the tiredness away so after a relaxing afternoon we got in the car and went to Odaiba to do some sightseeing and have some dinner.

Behind the Odaiba shopping center is the Rainbow Bridge. I have to confess that although I have heard about the Rainbow Bridge, I thought it was in another city. Imagine my surprise! It was very beautiful, as you can see. There is also a miniature Statue of Liberty and that was surprising too. We walked down to the beach and I tried my best to keep the girls out of the water since we were going to dinner after. It was all very beautiful.

Soon we all started to get pretty hungry so our friends took us to the Red Lobster for dinner. I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of seafood but the food they ordered was delicious. Chikara had Kenji order a pasta dish with a gorgonzola cheese sauce for me which was heavenly. The girls were surprisingly adventurous during that meal and I was also very happy that nobody spilled anything!

We went back outside to see the Rainbow Bridge at night with all the lights on. Apparently once every hour there are lights in the color of the rainbow that will shine on the bridge and although we could see the bridge even during dinner, we never saw the lights. Emi kept asking me why it was called the Rainbow Bridge if there wasn't a rainbow. She was pretty disappointed since she loves rainbows. It was still very beautiful. If you look to the right of the closest tall part of the bridge you can see Tokyo Tower all lit up in red.

We went back home and put the girls right down to sleep. Even Natsuki went down pretty easily and she slept until 7:30 the next morning which also meant that I slept until 7:30 and that felt great. Again, after all the kids were in bed, we played some games with our friends and this time no one woke up to disturb us. Sachiko won the game but we think it was because of her pregnancy luck!

To be continued...


Heidi said...

Like you, we drove through the night to go to our Golden Week vacation place - Yuzawa (Niigata). (I have been busy at work but will share my pics on my blog later.) It's tiring for the parents though. We are up driving and then can't sleep in the morning after as the kids are wide awake after having a long sleep in the car. When my husband is driving, I can't sleep as I have to look out and make sure he does not fall asleep at the wheel. When I am driving, I don't let him sleep as I am not familiar with the roads!

I think it is amazing you can pack with 4 kids! I have 2 and it is difficult to pack with them around. Apart from constantly having to attend to them whilst packing, they like to come over to the bags, pull everything out and throw them all over the house again!!!

Sakura is so cute, drawing over herself. Better drawing over herself than the wallpaper, I say!

Like your pic of Rainbow Bridge. So lovely! I am lucky to get to see that and Tokyo Tower almost everyday - from my office!

Hannah said...

That makes me want to go back to Japan! You sound me like me with the packing, packing, packing. And I only have two kids, so I can't imagine how much more you have to do. Sheesh.

coarse gold girl said...

Sarah--I am so glad you posted the picture of Sakura's self done body art! I heaved a huge sigh of relief and thought, "thank goodness, my DD#2 isn't the only one!" My oldest daughter didn't go in for marking all over herself with felt tips markers, high lighters, ball point pens. . . my youngest daughter has done extensive studies in body art with all of them! Her latest piece was done in "pink finger nail polish." That one received the critics very stern reprimand. I still cringe every morning fearing that her youchien teacher will discover it. . . (left thigh).

Beautiful pictures.

Mom said...

Do you remember that every time we traveled as a young family, one of the kids would throw up? Anne Straforelli said if one of the kids didn't throw up it wasn't a real visit from the Shinnesses. Then the first time she held Emi, Emi threw up on her!! She was thrilled - just like the good old days...