Hot Off the Ultrasound

Here's Little Munday, growing up quickly and already with a 3 cm head. I saw Baby's fast heartbeat ticking away on the screen yesterday, and the doctor even pointed out a thigh bone. If you can't quite make out what's what, the head is on the left and the body on the right. This is what we all looked like at 14 weeks, I guess! Quite amazing.

We want to save our blog posts to show Baby someday, so click on "comments" below and leave a message for The Littlest Munday.

Oh, go on and play the insulted liver sausage!

This is a great article about the fun of words and phrases from all over the world. Go ahead and read it. I think your katahara will be itai.

12 Years Ago...

September 26th, 1993 was a day that changed my life. I thought I was just coming to Japan for a year out with YWAM. Now look at me: 12 years later and my third time here!

Bubbling over

One of my favorite authors/poets is Amy Carmichael. I quote here from her book Whispers of His Power:

"So the joy of heaven overflows upon us, like water from a brimming pool into which more water is continually falling."

I pray you are filled with heavenly joy today.

I'm So Proud Of My Wife!

Well, the networking and waiting have paid off: Abigail is now the excited (and, perhaps, slightly nervous) new copyeditor of a book that is slated to be published by Multnomah Publishers next year. Being someone who always gets a kick out of finding errors in books she reads anyway, I know she is enjoying it, and I think she is also excited to be one of the first people to read this book. It is great to see her enjoying a job after having two stressful teaching positions in Florida and Japan.

You go, Abigirl!

[By the way, Copyeditor Wife had to do a wee correction on this post!]

Names We Can't Name The Baby 5

Well, having exposed Emma as being an unacceptable name in Japanese, today we move on to another cousin name - Ben. (Sorry, guys, I'm sure it is just a coincidence!)

The problem with Ben is that it is an exact homonym for the Japanese word ben. Now, ben comes in two distinct forms, Big (daiben) and Small (shonben). I think you can figure out which is which if I just mention the phrase "bodily functions".

Now, in a curious twist of self-referential logic, the largest bell in the clocktower of the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, marks every hour with a mighty "DONG!" which, strangely enough is also the Korean word for....

Sparky the job interviewee

What a crazy story!

Maybe he was applying for a job as an electrician.

Not only were his clothes dangerously unfashionable, but they were just plain dangerous as well.

One Sheet to the Wind

No, it wasn't me. I promise.

It was actually a real sheet. I was doing laundry today and didn't realize how really blustery it was.

Our washing machine is pretty small (compared to American ones) so I have to wash the top sheet and fitted sheet separately. So I washed the fitted one and hung it out to dry.

Then I washed the top sheet, went on the balcony to hang it next to its partner, and lo and behold, the partner had skipped town.

Tried to see onto the neighbor's balcony below ours but no luck. Ran downstairs, looked in the parking lot and up and down the road, but no go.

Saw a 1st floor neighbor on her balcony and asked her if she'd seen our runaway. She said she had---in the parking lot---and had hung it on a sign next to the elevator. Ran back into the lobby, and there it was!

And it looked lonely. And dirty. And the clips were still sticking tenaciously to it.

The lost has been found. A little world-weary, but apparently glad to be home.

Clap your hands, stomp your feet, say amen

Just now, driving home from my Japanese class, I heard "If you're happy and you know it..." on the radio in Japanese! It was great. I tapped along with the song on the steering wheel.

Now I'm all pumped up to do some copyediting this afternoon.

If you're happy and you know it...check some grammar!


Monday was a national holiday here (as Friday will be too - yeah!), and so we headed off to Mt. Ibuki to see what we could see. Astounding views all the way to the Sea of Japan clear across the country were alleged, but we couldn't even see Lake Biwa, that was right next door.

Anyway, this lack of distance vision was more than made up for in my book by the chance to see tiny humming birds feeding from thistles right in front of us at one of the view points. They are really fast and flitty (especially when engaged in aerial combat with the local bees), so these photos don't do a great job of showing what they looked like, but you get the idea.

A long, wiggly story

What have your intestines been up to recently? Whatever it has been, it's nothin' compared with a 13 week-old baby's!

(This is not for the faint of stomach.)

Earthquake Simulator

Japan takes earthquakes very seriously, even to the extent that kids are drilled extensively on earthquake simulators like the one you can see here.

Splashing About in Boats

It is just one of those facts about Japan that if you want to go out and do something fun, it's going to cost you an arm and a leg. Want to see a movie? $15. Fancy a coffee and cake? $8. And so it goes on.

Anyway, today we were pleasantly surprised to find that to go out in a boat for half-an-hour did not cost the $20 we suspected it would, but a mere 300 yen ($3) for the two of us! So, we had a fun date splashing around on a lake and seeing how fast a swan-shaped paddle boat can go.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Today I went to visit several old friends from our Chiryu days, and when Miho's son Hayato (who's 7) got home from school, I told him that there's a baby inside me.

Now, in Japanese, you rarely use the personal pronoun for I, and usually it's OK, everyone's happy, and it's all clear and easily understandable. So I didn't say it was me, but I pointed to my own belly. Evidently Hayato didn't see me point to myself, so he got a bit confused, looked down at his abdomen, examined it, and said, "No there's not!"

Ancient Israelite Jokes

Q. How did Moses manage to stay cool for 40 years in the wilderness?

A. He always had his Aaron!

Q. Why did Moses have to tell the Israelites to lighten up before entering the promised land?

A. Because they had been in tents for 40 years!

Names We Can't Name The Baby 4

Bob. Our car, my boss, my cactus at work and our pastor all go by that name. Or, that is what we call them, anyway.

The Little Pickle is only a "BOB" in the sense of "Baby OnBoard"

Baking Politics

As many of you probably know, the Japanese Prime Minister, Koizumi, called an election, which took place yesterday (hooray, no more vans with loudspeakers!). He decided to ask several non-politician types to run for the lower house as "assassins" against the rebels who tried to block Koizumi's post office reforms.

As I was watching the news tonight, I happened to recognize one sophisticated-looking lady who had won a seat for our area. I couldn't place her for a minute, and then I remembered---jam-filled cookies and a bright apron on a cooking show I watch occasionally!

She said that the only topic she feels qualified to speak up on is cooking, so she'll be perfect for politics.

Nagoya Foreign "Mothers'" Group

Stephen and I ended up being the only foreigners today at this group; it was our first time and we got a lot out of it anyway. It's run by a Filipina named Lorna who's been in Japan over 20 years and had her children here, and Misako, who's a Japanese midwife and speaks wonderful English. They've been friends since Misako helped delivered Lorna's first child who's now in college.

Misako knows the head midwife at the hospital where we plan to have the baby, so she's going to get the scoop on some specific questions we had. It's handy having connections!

One further development from today: Up to this point, Stephen and I had been thinking we didn't want to find out the gender of Baby til the birth. Well, these two ladies are really persuasive, and talked us into finding out as soon as we can. They gave us some good reasons why we should, so I think we'll go for it. It actually didn't take too much arm-twisting. So that will make lots of you happy! We've had lots of requests for this info.

So watch this space...will it be Gertrude Wilhelmina Mandy Munday, or will it be Fitzwilliam Fitzgerald Elmer Munday?!

Send in your votes, loyal readers!

Ozone Layer

Have you been wondering where all the ozone from the ozone layer has gone? I bet you fell for that story so-called "scientists" have been putting about that it has been destroyed by human activity, specifically CFCs from refrigerators and spray cans.

Well, like the global warming myth, we have always known that this isn't true. But the unsolved mystery has always been, "Where on earth could all that funky ozone stuff have gone?" Well, this is a mystery no more. In a world exclusive to this website, we can exclusively reveal that it has been secretly stockpiled by Japan and is being held right here in Nagoya in huge underground storage vats. Yes, Japan is holding it hostage in a dastardly scheme to blackmail southern hemisphere countries. (I believe they are demanding half of Australia.) So, now you know. And you can impress your less educated / more gullible "scientist"-believing friends with your insider knowledge.

The even more shocking truth about the similar stockpiles of "Sakae" will have to wait for another time, if it can ever be revealed at all.

The Bump's Progress

So, you've seen how things are looking on the inside from the ultrasounds, but how about the outside? Well, the first thing you will probably notice about Abigail in this picture is that she is wearing a dress. No big deal right? Well, since a few weeks after we arrived here, she stopped wearing dresses because she had had enough of people trying to pat her tummy while saying, "Baby? Baby?" Now there's nothing to hide anymore, so to speak, so she is not worried about bringing those dresses back to the front of the closet again. Oh, and dresses are more comfortable when you are pregnant as well, for some reason.

Anyway, as you can see here, there is a little bump, although it's not really obvious unless Abigail is in direct profile. Stay tuned to see more bump progress over coming weeks and months.

Names We Can't Name the Baby 3

Aidan: In Japan, there's quite a large and famous chain of electronics stores called Eiden (pronounced Aidan).

Names We Can't Name The Baby 2

I was reminded of this one as I read a book in Japanese about Christianity and Buddhism yesterday. I'm glad I was, because I think this is a nice girl's name in English - and it is also my cousin's name....

Emma --> sounds like enma name of the King of Hades, the lowest level you can sink to in the Buddhist cycle of rebirth.

Parental Name Game

We've had several people ask if I'll be Mummy or Mommy.

Maybe I'll be Okaasan.

Amazing Baby Rescue

Incredible baby rescue story from New Orleans.

Baby Diets

According to every woman in Japan who's had a baby and who's been told that I'm pregnant, I'm going to have to watch my weight while preggie or I will be put on a diet by the doctor. They've all been warning me. I've even had two single friends who've never had babies tell me to be careful and not get big.

My neighbor on the left side, Itoh san, and I always chat across our balconies as we're dealing with laundry. Today, while we were admiring the sunset, and in between noisy trains going by, she told me that when pregnant, her doctor told her to eat tons of spinach, and pretty much only that, because she had gained "too much" weight. Japanese doctors say you can gain 8-10 kilos, or 18-22 pounds. Now, according to my sister in Wisconsin, her doctor said 25-35 was OK. I know Japanese are smaller than Westerners, but I'm going to be held strictly accountable to the Japanese height-weight chart.

Women here keep telling me that Japanese doctors are kowai (scary) and that I should beware. When I told my neighbor today that I'm not scared of them, she just laughed. Do these women all know something I don't? Are the doctors (oh, horror of horrors) all in league with the weight police? Will they throw me in jail and starve me if I decide to have a piece of cake?

Guess I'll have to play the gaijin card. "But doctor, you just don't know about Western bodies and Western babies. Western babies crave chocolate, you know."

Names We Can't Name The Baby 1

There are some names that do not transfer well to Japanese and, since we don't know how long we are going to be here, that is something we are having to consider when we think about what we are going to call the Little Pickle. (After all, it can't be called the Little Pickle its whole life!)

So here is the first of a multi-part series on Names We Can't Use:

David -> Dave -> de-bu (in Japanese pronunciation) -> Sounds like debu, which (sorry all Daves out there, but this is true) means "fatso" in Japanese.

Typhoon 14 / Nabi

Good timing with the typhoon: I came home last night in high-ish winds, and then just shortly after that the rain really started. It kept it up all night, making me feel tense since I could hear it still through my ear-plugs. Then this morning about half-an-hour before I needed to head out to my train, the downpour stopped, and it was bright again.

So that was Typhoon 14. Or was it Typhoon Nabi? Apparently, the rest of the world names the typhoons, whereas Japan uses numbers. And they wouldn't name it Nabi anyway, as this is a noun that means "car navigation system" in Japan. I have a really good one of these in our car - it's an Abi Nabi. It's a navigation system - not a typhoon.

License to Sit at Red Lights

I'm in the process of renewing my Japanese driving license and it's such a rigmarole! First of all, I should've followed the example of someone I saw later who parked at the nearby library instead of the police station where I waited...and waited...and waited and finally got a space. In the States, there's actually a licensing center, but here, you go to the big main police station to renew. And that big main police station has about 15 spaces for 150 people trying to park. You do the math.

So then I went into the building, gave them my paperwork I'd received in the mail, paid them the fat amount of money to renew, and generously, in return, they gave me more paperwork to fill out. Which I didn't understand all of, of course. So I filled out what I could, then stared at the rest for a while, then handed it in at the counter and figured they could do the rest. Which they did. And I got into trouble for actually writing the kanji (Chinese characters) for my home country instead of writing it in katakana (the script they use for writing foreign words). I had thought I was being a good girl! I did it wrong, according to their way of doing paperwork, but they did tell me I was "jouzu" (the word literally means "proficient" or "good" but I think Japanese people use it to tell you that they're glad you're at least trying to learn their language).

Then I waited, and took an eye test. In the States, you look at a poster full of letters of diminishing size, but here, you look into a machine, there are circles with holes on one side, and you tell them where the hole is, whether up, down, left, or right.

Then I waited again, and got my picture taken! I told the lady I was really pleased to get a new one, since my old one was so awful. She looked at my current license and silently smiled her agreement. At least she smiled along with me, though I wasn't allowed to smile for the picture itself.

I waited some more with a group of people, and we were then ushered into a room to watch a video of car crashes, which is supposed to miraculously turn everyone into perfect drivers.

But I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The proverbial wrong trousers (and, by the way, even the right trousers aren't fitting me properly anymore). After the video had started, and I was holding my piece of paper the camera lady had given me, the video man told me to leave and go back and wait where I was before. So I slunk out and waited...then another man gave me a piece of paper and said come back on October 5 and take a special class (I figure that's because I'm so special), and then, and only then, will I get my renewed license with the pretty new picture.

Real Politics

We're in the run up to the September 11th election here in Japan and the very vocal politicians are out in droves. They drive around in vans wearing white gloves, waving, and blaring their "policies" out the loudspeakers on top. I wonder if they ever even take breaths. Anyway, these policies, which are pretty much the same as policies of politicians around the world, consist of banal comments about there needing to be change. Well, yeah, we already knew that, and we would appreciate some peace and quiet while you're at it.

Weekly Wonder

I've been keeping up with our baby's growth progress using a pregnancy website my sister sent me (who happens to be 4 weeks ahead of me with Baby #2). It's absolutely amazing that a little human who is only a little more than an inch can grow fingernails and irises in week 11! (Although, my doctor and I have calculated things differently: She insists I'm in week 10, so I guess I have to follow her leading. I have a book from the U.S. called What to Expect When You're Expecting which does things differently. But I am in the Japanese health care system, and our baby is being born in Japan, so I guess it's a 10-weeker!)

I remember a phrase on a poster in my friend Asha's room when we were growing up: "God don't make no junk!" How true that is. A little baby is growing and moving and developing inside me, and our biggest hope is that he or she will grow up and decide to follow Christ, the Maker of all.

Flower Power

Mike and Andrea popped over tonight with another friend, Lucy, to have potluck dinner with us - and brought us these beautiful flowers to congratulate us on the little pickle's arrival in utero. Thanks guys!

"If there is a hurricane, those levees will break. The whole city will be underwater, and I don't want to be there for that."

The title probably reminded you of some sort of National Enquirer headline, but the quote is from Abigail's great-grandfather after he visited his cousin in the city of New Orleans 60 years ago. Abigail's grandmother on the Melton side of the family told her this on the phone this morning, adding that she never visited the city on the strength of this information. Smart lady.

In contrast, scientists and planners were a lot slower off the mark, but apparently had a good idea that something like this would happen by a few years ago:

"In early 2001, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued a report stating that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the US, including a terrorist attack on New York City." (BBC report here)

Oil Shock

I was wondering how Japanese viewers were reacting to the news report we saw last night on BS. (I kid you not: "BS" stands for "Broadcasting Satellite". What did you think it meant?)

Anyway, the report concerned gas-petrol price gouging in New York, which had pushed prices at the pump up by 50% in some places. "That's up to 83 yen per liter", as the subtitles noted, to put it into perspective for the average viewer.

Wow! I don't think I have ever seen the price per liter so low here. The lowest I saw driving home today was 118 for a liter of regular. I'm sure there was not a lot of sympathy from most households in a nation which relies almost entirely on imported raw materials and fuel to survive.

Korean Air

I had a bit of a shock the other day when I checked out Mum and Dad's arrival information on the Korean Air website: It seems that they have gotten rid of all of their stewardesses and replaced them with members of Japan's famous Takarazuka all-female acting troupe.

Secret Posts Revealed!

Perhaps you have been thinking that our posts have been a bit sparse recently.... Well, there is a reason for that: We have been writing secret hidden posts.

What??? Well, don't worry, all is revealed now: God has sent us a little baby to look after! If you want to read the whole story from the beginning, go back to July and August in the Archives (on the right of this post) and see what happened, when it happened - the secrets are now revealed!

And don't forget to check back for updates on the exciting journey of having a baby (and then raising it) in a whacky foreign country.

After Katrina

Watching the whole mess that is the aftermath of Katrina unfold on the BBC news website got me thinking about how prepared we are for disasters here.

I am not too worried about typhoons, since:

  1. The levees on the Yahagi River a mile or so away are gigantic - 10 meters high, or so - so we should be OK for major flooding.
  2. Similarly, our apartment is steel and concrete, so it should be able to withstand the winds.
My concern is an earthquake, especially one of the magnitude that is predicted by the Japanese earthquake-watching scientists to hit this area. They revised their predictions a year or so ago, and now we are seeing a flurry of building activity strengthening bridges in our area.

We have been good boys and girls and have our emergency backpacks with supplies and other useful goodies ready to rock and roll in the event that we abandon ship here. Something we realized from Katrina, though is that it would be a good idea to have water filters to make potable water from whatever we can get, as well as a better supply of water in a tank or whatever.

Fortunately, Japanese stores are only too ready to oblige. Our local hardware store, Kahma (good, Kahma, I assure you), has a permenant disaster "prevention" products area, so Abigail picked up a brochure. You can get anything from little water filter drinking straw thingies and smoke hoods to ladders, ropes and chainsaws.

(The chainsaws might be purchased with an alternative motive: Japanese earthquake insurance only kicks in if your house is completely destroyed. How better to ensure that this is the case than by a clumsy "rescue" effort using your trusty chainsaw?)

Of course, we hope nothing like this ever happens, but like the Boy Scouts, we should definitely be prepared.

Water Boys

Wow. Just when you think you're safe from daytime soaps, Water Boys attacks. I was ironing this afternoon and decided to see what was on the tube. These high school boys, in a swimming pool, performed something between Jackie Chan and Esther Williams. Pretty scary. Near the end of the synchronized swimming, the boys lifted one boy on their shoulders while he shouted to a girl in the audience to tell her how much he liked her. As she swooned, I decided I'd had just about enough. I'd rather look at clothes wrinkles.

Stephen: Although Abigail is quite happy to watch tosh like Serendipity and cause me to seek refuge in the computer room!


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