Saturday, October 27, 2007

walking fool

I finally captured Natsuki walking. I'm so proud of my big girl!

PS Sorry for all the clutter in the picture. I'm going through our storage loft right now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

treadmill dancing?

This is very funny.


Friday, October 19, 2007

one year ago

Today is the one year anniversary of my blog!

Thank you to all of you who have taken an interest in me and my family through this blog. I have really appreciated all of the encouraging words, cheeky comments and timely advice.

I wonder what another year will bring...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


When my husband and I were trying to decide where to go for dinner on our 8th wedding anniversary, we decided that for our 10th anniversary we should go away, just the two of us, for a weekend to someplace romantice. A few weeks later, we got pregnant with Natsuki (Coincidence? I think not!) and even then, one of the first things I tried to figure out was how old would she be on our 10th anniversary. Could we still go away? She would be one year and three months. Yes! It would probably be fine.

Last year, we started defining the trip more. Where would we like to go? We narrowed it down to Guam or Okinawa. Both destinations were short plane trips (we didn't want to waste time flying), tropical and romantic, etc. Due to Gina's reports on her trips there, I decided that I wanted to go to Guam because it had the added benefit of feeling like being in the States (Taco Bell here we come). Perfect! Chikara was really up for anything so over the summer that became our plan.

Then last month I started to research how much the trip would cost and it looked pretty affordable so yesterday we started making calls to reserve airline tickets and this is where the dream turned into a nightmare.

Our anniversary is on November 15th, which is a relatively cheap time to fly since there are no national holidays. We decided to go from a Monday to a Wednesday to avoid the extra charges of going on a weekend. BUT, the cheap flights (JAL ANA) to Guam from Osaka-Kansai International Airport leave at 9:40pm and arrive in Guam at 2am (!). The returning flight leaves at 3:55am and arrives at 6:35am. Seriously, this is a WTF moment. If we left on Monday and returned on Wednesday, we would only be in Guam for 26 hours. The more reasonably timed flight (NWA) costs a lot more and is therefore too ridiculous. Sigh...

Our other option would be to go a day early but that would mean that our kids would spend three nights away from us. Now my friends have volunteered to watch our kids, which made me feel so good because either they really like our kids or they really like us, but three whole nights watching two extra kids can be a lot and I don't want to impose upon their good graces. I might want to do this again!

So I guess we're going to look at going to Okinawa. Hopefully there will be no surprises there.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

feeling a little fried

It's been a big week for owies in our house. Last week at Misaki's sports day I got sunburnt. Please see evidence below.

Fortunately it was just on my arms, right below my neck and my face (not my shoulders or back) but it's been such a long time since I've had a sunburn that I didn't realize it was happening and then after I couldn't remember how to take care of it. We had two sports days in a row and the weather was cloudy for Emi's sports day and we were all fine. The weather was supposed to be the same for the next day but it totally cleared up and there were no clouds in the sky at all. Plus where our assigned area was, our faces were pointing in the direction of the sun when we were watching Misaki's events. But seriously, through all of this, I wasn't even thinking about the possibility of a sunburn. It's October, for goodness' sake! I hadn't put on any sunblock or anything. About an hour before the lunch break, Chikara was suddenly wondering if I was OK and asking if I wanted to go to the shade. I had no idea what he was talking about and I kept saying I was fine. During the lunch break, we sat under a tent the school had provided. When I took Sakura to the bathroom, I saw myself in the mirror and I was red as a lobster. Crap! I stayed covered for the rest of the events and then we went home. Later that evening, I realized that it wasn't as bad as I had initially thought but it looks awful so I get a lot of stares wherever we go. As if being a foreigner with four cute kids wasn't enough. I'm in the peeling phase, now, much to Emi's delight so I'm sure it'll be all gone soon.

This last Thursday Emi's class had a field trip to the zoo in Kobe. When she got home, her face was all scratched up and she had a big goose egg on her forehead. It turns out that when her class were running together down a hill (why?), a kid behind her bumped her and she fell and smacked her face up.

She was not really thrilled that I took this picture. I got a call from her teacher about and he said that she had smacked her top tooth, too, so we should keep an eye on it. Fortunately it's still a baby tooth so we lucked out there.

Then yesterday I got a call from Misaki's teacher. At first I thought I had missed the bus but it turns out that when Misaki was playing outside after lunch she got smacked in the face by another boy's head (ouch!). The other kid wasn't looking where he was going and ran full force into her. By the time she got home, the area under her right eye was still swollen and this morning it's started turning purple.

It's kind of hard to see so I might take another picture tomorrow. I'm actually kind of glad that she got smacked up, too, because now she and Emi can be injured together. I just hope that no one thinks that we did it to them!

I do have some good news. Natsuki took her first steps yesterday. Yeah! Actually she did a lot of one-stepping followed by dramatic falling but once she figured out what we were trying to do (finally!) she took four steps in a row a couple of times. I think the best part is that she was really excited about her accomplishment and kept trying to walk. Eventually she got too excited and was falling down all over the place. But on the whole it was a "step in the right direction". Ha, ha! I crack myself up. I'll try to get her on video when Chikara's home to help me. In the meantime, here is a picture of her concentrating on putting a straw in a cup.

This kept her quiet for 20 minutes.

Fortunately tonight is the TV premiere of High School Musical 2 so Emi & Misaki have something to lift their spirits. We're going to go to my friend's house and watch it with them since they have cable and we do not. I know that if we had cable, I would sit around and watch television All. Day. Long. I have no self-control in this area, especially when I'm homesick. But tonight will be fun. I'm going to bring popcorn and pop and I'll probably spend the whole night explaining teenage angst and what it makes teenagers do to the girls the whole time. Fun!

I hope all of you have a great weekend.

Friday, October 05, 2007

rokko island

One of our favorite places to go is Rokko Island in Kobe. Everytime we go I'm reminded that it is, in fact, a utopia for expat families with small children. The center of the man-made island is surrounded by buildings and partitioned off from the streets so you don't need to worry about your children getting hit by idiot drivers. There is a Subway Sandwiches AND a Wendy's besides the requisite McDonald's, Starbucks and convenience stores within 5 minutes walking distance from each other (translation: heaven). But the greatest thing about it is the waterways that the kids can play in because the water is only a few inches deep and there are waterfalls and bridges and jets and the kids never get bored even after hours and hours have passed. It's awesome!

Because there was a national holiday, we decided to take our friends with us and introduce them to our secret utopia (seriously, there's hardly ever anyone there). They have two children ages 4 and 2 so I knew it would be perfect for them.

It was also going to be the first time for Natsuki to go into the water. On our summer vacation, she enjoyed the ocean for all of 5 minutes before she started crying so it was hard to say what she would think about this. Chikara sat with her and she just stood at first...
... and then she tried touching the water but if you look at her left hand, it's clutching Chikara's shirt very tightly...
... after about 20 minutes then she relaxed and played on her own while Daddy kept an eye on her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

not enough hours in a day

I've been meaning to update but with all that's been going on it just hasn't happened. This will be short because... well, just because.

Three Sundays ago we went and visited Chikara's grandparents (my first visit since Grandpa was hospitalized) because it was Respect for the Aged Day. We compromised and took them out of dinner and did not go in their house because then Grandma doesn't have to worry about "cleaning" the house. We were really watching them to see how they were doing and although they moved slower, they both finished off a whole steak dinner! Each! I guess they're fine.

The following Sunday (two Sundays ago) we went to visit Chikara's Great-Grandmother. She would be our children's great-great-grandmother. I've never met her before and Chikara hasn't seen her since junior high school (he thinks!). I wasn't sure what to expect so I gave the girls a serious talk about being quiet and listening and obeying right away before we went in. We were guessing that she was in her late 90's but actually she turned 100 years old this last May. She even got a Certificate from the Prime Minister of Japan and a plaque.

Amazingly, she came out to the entrace of the house to greet us and then showed us to their living room, talked up a storm, said funny stuff (and laughed at her own jokes), interacted with the girls, etc. Probably if you met her you would assume that she's in her late 70's because she moves so well and is so mentally alert. She lives with her son and daughter-in-law and they got married later in life so their children are the same age as us and they have one grandchild who is 3 years old. It was great because there were a lot of things for us to talk about. I was really glad that we had made the effort to visit her.

One thing that we noticed about her is that she was really positive. Hardly any negative comments came out of her mouth and we could only surmise that this is part of the reason why she's made it to 100!

The Thursday after that, the girls got lice. We received a call from Misaki's preschool in the morning that she had lice and they were going to send her home so we could de-louse her and the moment we got that call my mind went blank. I didn't know what to do and "shampoo" was the only word that kept bouncing around inside my head. Every sentence I said had the word "shampoo" in it. Then I realized I should check Sakura (Natsuki was sleeping) but I realized that I didn't know what I was looking for so I went straight upstairs and tore all the sheets off of Misaki's bed and threw all of her bed linens in the washing machine. Once she was home, I compared her head with Sakura's and she had it, too. This could only mean that all of my kids had it so I sent Chikara to buy the de-lousing shampoo and to get Emi from school. I spent the next two hours in the bathroom shampooing and combing their hair. Once I was done we discovered that Chikara was the only one who didn't get it. Yes, I had it, too. So I washed all of our bed linens in turn throughout the day and read a lot about lice online until I had more of a grip on what I needed to do to irradicate it from our house. Tonight was the last scheduled shampoo and all of us were lice-free but I will keep checking everytime we take a shower for the next month just to be sure. I guess this is lice-season. This was the first time I swore in front of my kids, too. Sigh...

This last Sunday was supposed to be Emi's sports day but it rained so we had it today and then Misaki's sports day will be tomorrow. I would like to insert here that last year Misaki got mumps the week before sports day and it cleared up just in time for her to participate and this year she got lice the week before sports day and it cleared up right before sports day, too. I wonder what she'll get next year.

There's a lot of other things we did throughout the last three weeks, like for example, I started a group for stay-at-home moms that go to my church. I did the whole thing in Japanese, even leading worship from the piano. I think it went well. I'm going to do it for three months and if everyone thinks that it's worthwhile then I'll continue doing it until I'm not a stay-at-home mom anymore! Also, Sakura is potty-trained and Natsuki learned how to crawl off the couch by herself and those two things have made my life a little bit easier.

Hopefully I'll be able to fill in some more details once this next weekend is over.