Hey, sorry for the silence. The reason is the same as always, there's been a lot going on. No surprises there!
We have decided to go to Guam. After a lot of thought, I decided to extend our trip by one day so we'll leave on Monday late in the evening and then return on Thursday very early morning. I was hesitant at first to do it this way because that means we'll be leaving our kids for THREE WHOLE NIGHTS! I'm most worried about Natsuki. What if she doesn't sleep? What if it's too much for our friends? In the end, I talked with both families and asked them to think about it and both of them said that of course that would be no problem. I was very relieved. Anyways, the tickets are bought and paid for so there's no turning back now.
I am determined that once we arrive in Guam I will not worry about the kids. They'll be fine. It's only three days. I can get them back on their normal schedule once the trip is over. Nothing bad is going to happen. See? I feel better already! Sigh...
I am starting to get into the holiday spirit. Yesterday we went to Costco and I bought this year's turkey and a pumpkin pie. After a few tries, I managed to get them both into our freezer to be preserved until our Thanksgiving Dinner. We are celebrating with Stephen and Abigail and their son, Matthew. They informed us recently that they are expecting their second child and I am so excited for them. Anyways, we all have a lot to be thankful for this year. And I'm also thankful that we were able to get a good-size turkey and a pumpkin pie! Last year, my husband had to go to Costco a few times before we were able to get a pumpkin pie. I was freaking out a little bit!
One funny thing happened while we were at Costco. After we had bought everything, we sat in their cafeteria to have some dinner. All of a sudden Emi turned to us and asked:
Emi: "Mom, what type of guy do you like?"
Me: "Ummmm, this type of guy?" (pointing to Chikara)
Emi: "No, I mean what style do you you like?"
Me: "What? I don't know what you mean."
Emi: "You know, style of guy, what style of guy do you like?"
Me: "Uh, clean? Doesn't smell crazy? Dresses nice? I don't know..."
Obviously it's been awhile since I've thought about this. She gave up since I wasn't giving her the answer she was looking for.
Me: "Who was talking about this with you?"
Emi: "Kenji-kun." (our neighbor who is in first grade with Emi)
Me: "He asked you what type of guy you liked?"
Emi: "Yeah." (with a tone like "Duh, Mom, of course")
Let's just say the conversation ended there because I could see that Chikara was holding onto his fork a little harder than before. White knuckles = worried father! Sometimes she really surprises us!
Natsuki is trying to walk around all over the place. She's in such an awesome stage right now. Everything she does is cute, even when she's having a temper tantrum. She's learned some words and some baby signs so she's able to communicate with us more. This means a lot less screaming in our direction when there's something she wants. Sometimes she won't actually do the signs but will nod vigorously when we say the words. Whatever. She's making herself understood. She can also say "Daddy", "I love you", "Ikou" (let's go), "Sugoi" (awesome), and "ato" (short for arigato or thank you) and she can sing Twinkle, Twinkle and I Love You, You Love Me from Barney and do the actions for Pattycake. She can do the signs for "more", "all done" and "no" and she can wave "bye-bye" and blow kisses. She also plays peek-a-boo but she never actually cover her eyes so someone who doesn't know her probably wouldn't know what she's trying to do! I've gotten most of this on video but it's on our old non-digital video camera so I can't share it here. Sorry. It's so very cute but maybe that would be too much showing off!
Sakura has turned up the volume over the last few months and everything she says comes out loud. I mean really loud. I mean I get a headache a lot. She's not loud because she's angry or hyper, she's just loud. If her life was drawn into a cartoon, all of her words would be CAPITAL LETTERS, as in "MOM, NATSUKI IS OVER THERE!", "MOM, I LIKE CHEESE!", etc. All day I am telling her to be quiet or go away. *Please* go away and yell at me from across the room instead of right beside me. Please. My head is killing me. Also there's been a lot of crying from her lately. And, of course, it's louder than before, too, and harder to stop. I know this is a phase and we're working through it but it's driving me crazy! On the plus side, she's using the potty really well. We did have an accident the other day but she had gone a whole month without any problems before that so I'm really pleased with her progress there. Now if I can just get her to go to the bathroom by herself. Baby steps, baby steps! One thing that I love about Sakura is her singing. She loves to sing and make up songs and one thing I want to do with her through the next year is make a video of all the songs that she likes and makes up. She remembers songs very quickly and although a lot of the words are of her own creation, she sings in tune and with a lot of emoting! In some ways Sakura really reminds me of my sister Hannah at this age (not the loudness, although...) with the dancing, dressing up and singing. Hopefully one day Sakura will be a great singer like my sister is.
Misaki is changing before our eyes. I have been worried for awhile about Misaki entering first grade. She seemed so lost sometimes like she wasn't really paying attention to what was going on around her or even capable of defining what she is interested in. In some ways her "go with the flow" mentality is really helpful but in other ways I wondered if she'd be able to discover her identity as she goes through elementary school. Lately we are starting to see her be more of an one-chan (big sister) and take a little more control of her own life. Mostly this would have to do with not doing *everything* that Emi thinks of but also I see her offering her own suggestions for activities, thinking ahead about events that we're going to, offering comments on what we're doing, talking about her friends at school, etc. It's all very encouraging and I think she's going to do well at elementary school (fingers crossed!). We still need to work on her completing projects or chores to the end but, as with everything else in our lives, we're taking it one step at a time.
Emi is really enjoying elementary school. Besides all the interesting conversations, she's really developing her sense of right and wrong. She's very black and white about all situations, which is great, but we're also teaching her about grace and seeing past the black and white to what the other person might be going through. Grace and compassion are two concepts that I think are the key to change in Japan. She's made some great friends and I get a lot of comments from other mothers about what a good friend Emi is which is very encouraging for me.
Emi also is enjoying the activity of being in school. She enjoyed the sports day so much so we're really trying to think of how we could get her involved more. The other day our church sponsored a soccer event. There's a church in the States that send soccer players to other countries to do outreach events and a guy at Chikara's work knew a guy that was coming over so they asked around to some of the other guys and everyone was really excited about having a chance to play soccer. On Sunday afternoon, after church, we went to a local park and the guy, TJ, worked with the kids first on passing and other soccer skills (don't ask me, I don't know much about soccer!) and then the adults played for a bit. Emi had such a blast. She came back all excited and told me about the goals that she scored and what she had learned. The guys came back sore and exhuasted! Hee, hee!
Anyways, there is a little update on our family. Chikara and I will go to Guam next week so expect pictures and an update from me!