Week four of our summer vacation had the most going on and I wasn't really sure how everything was going to come together or if we'd even get to enjoy any of it. On Friday, August 10th (a lifetime ago!), the summer retreat for our church started. Our church built a new building two years ago and it's really nice so instead of everyone going away to a camp or retreat center, we just meet at our church. It works out great for people who have inflexible schedules. Also, everyone is excited because their summer vacation is about to begin. People who work in Japanese companies rarely get more than three days off in a row but obon yasumi is one of those times where many people will get at least that, if not more. Chikara read somewhere that during obon yasumi, more than 70% of the population will go somewhere, near or far, so there is usually a lot of traffic no matter where you go. In fact, a lot of our friends were late for the Friday meeting because of it.
The retreat lasted until Sunday and we went and came as we needed to. Chikara led worship for half of the services. He is an awesome singer and guitar player! The girls would stay with me for the worship part and then they were free to go downstairs and play with their friends. They had so much fun and fell asleep on the way home every night.
On Sunday night, Chikara's dad's church's summer retreat was starting and they had asked Chikara to lead worship for all of it. We had planned that only Chikara would go Sunday night and then come home to get some sleep and then we would all go together for the Monday morning service, swim in the pool in the afternoon and then come home. But on Sunday night while Chikara was gone I realized that Sakura and Natsuki were pretty worn out. Neither of them had pooped in previous three days since we'd been running around so much. I don't think they were constipated or anything but there weren't going to be any "downtime" days for another week so I talked with Chikara when he came home and we decided that I would stay home with Sakura and Natsuki and he would take Emi and Misaki so that they would be able to swim in the pool with him after the morning service. I was a little bit worried about what my MIL would think but I had to think of my kids first.
Monday turned out really good. Sakura and Natsuki had a nice relaxing day, they both pooped three times each (making up for lost time?!) and were back to their normal happy selves by the end of the day. Emi and Misaki got to have a nice day playing with their two friends from our old church, being spoiled by their obaa-chan (my MIL) and got to swim in the pool without any time constraints. Misaki, especially, was really excited to have a chance to show her dad all her new swimming moves that she's been working so hard on. The three of them came home exhausted but happy. We went out to the mall to have dinner and came home by 8 and put everyone to bed.
On Tuesday we had planned to meet with Chikara's parents around 11am, have some lunch, go to the aquarium for the afternoon and then come back to our house for dinner, cake and presents. Natsuki shares a birthday with my FIL on August 18th but we were going to be gone on that day and dad would be working anyways so Tuesday was the best alternative. Chikara's dad called us around 10am and said that mom was tired and could we think of something else to do besides the aquarium since that's a lot of walking. After Chikara talked with his mom, he realized that she was actually too tired to do anything so we postponed until dinner time. The girls were kind of upset but they needed a nap anyways so it worked out just fine in my book! To be completely honest we were having a difficult time planning Natsuki's birthday because usually we have a big party with everyone (my in-laws and our friends) and it's a lot of fun but my MIL has offended a few of our friends so we felt that a big party could be awkward. It is a tradition in my family to make two-layer chocolate cakes for every birthday and especially on first birthday we cut off a piece and lay it on the highchair and let the birthday girl go at it. We did it with Emi, Misaki and Sakura and of course now it's Natsuki's turn but I didn't want to make a chocolate cake twice so I was in a bit of a predicament. We couldn't not have a cake for Natsuki's birthday when we got together with Chikara's parents or they might guess that we were having her "real" party on another day. In the end we bought a strawberry shortcake at a bakery and I really think that his parents were none the wiser (knock on wood!).
We got together with my in-laws around 5:30pm and went to a family restaurant that's just around the corner from us. I was kind of surprised at the choice but when we met up with them I could see that my MIL was still tired and kind of dragging. We all sat down and when we ordered, she ordered an ice cream and nothing else. My girls looked at me like, "Is that OK?". At least they know that just ice cream is a no-no! The rest of us ate real food with gusto and at the end, my MIL still hadn't finished her ice cream so I let her divided it up into three bowls and let the girls finish it. Then we went back to our house and opened gifts. Natsuki got a lot of really nice toys. We gave my FIL a foot massager. He was pretty excited about it and he opened it up right away and started using it. Chikara was very happy to see that since we never know what to get for his dad. Then we did the cake and Natsuki just looked it and us like we were nuts. We sat her in her highchair and gave her some but she hardly even touched it and I don't think any of it actually went in her mouth. By this time she was worn-out so I cleaned her up and put her in her bed for a little sleep. Once she was gone, Emi, Misaki and Sakura played with all the new toys for awhile until it was time for them to go to bed.
Here are some pictures from that night.
week four to be continued...