You have to have been to a Japanese church to fully appreciate this picture. Many of them, no matter the denomination, start the service with the pastor raising his or her hands in the air, saying "Hallelujah!" and the congregation following suit. Matthew's getting in the groove already!
We have a webcam and are ready to chat with you! It doesn't matter if you have one or not (although we would certainly like to see you), as you will be able to see us anyway.
Having tried out numerous free software options, we have settled on SightSpeed, and it really is very good. Not exactly TV quality, but smooth and without significant time-lag, which is still light-years from the grainy purple and green image Abigail and I used to have of each other when we used to do this over dial-up in 2000.
If you want to video chat with us, but need some help with the technical side, drop us a line, and we will be happy to help.
I have been playing with an absolutely amazing piece of freeware called Autostitch created by a University of British Colombia student.
Now, if you have a digital camera, it is quite probable that it came bundled with a bunch of different software utilities, one of which was likely to have been a panorama maker. That was certainly true of our camera, and I have to say that (up to now) I have been largely impressed with the results. That said, this Autostitch program is quite amazing: Not only does it automatically assemble (entirely without human intervention!) a mosaic of photos that you upload to it, but it then stitches them together and balances the colors and brightness, so that in many instances, it is pretty much impossible to find the join.
Incredibly, it seems that the more complex the picture, the more seemlessly it can blend the result: To see what I mean, check out the picture of the living room and try to see where it has made the join. In fact, it seems that the more pictures it has to stitch, the better the result. Not only that, but it can also output the image at full size, which means that using this software our 3 megapixel digital camera can create pictures of a level of detail that even the most expensive top-end digital cameras available now cannot reproduce in a single image.
If you have a digital camera, then this is really a must-have. Check out the photos below to see what I mean. Click them to see an enlarged image.
You may think Matthew James Munday is our baby's only name, but you'd be wrong. So, in order to soundly embarrass him in the future, I'd like to profer a list of a few of his many aliases.
- Sweet Little Pickle (I love pickles and always have, so I started out as Pickle. The fruit of my womb became the Little Pickle, and he's so sweet, it just fits.)
- Attack Monkey (When Matthew starts eating.)
- Turbo Monkey (When Matthew guzzles his meals like crazy.)
- Chunky Monkey (After he's had a big meal.)
- Little Bean (Don't know how this one started.)
- Little Kidney Bean (When he's red and angry.)
- Pumpkin (He's not orange---or in the case of Japanese pumpkins, green---so who knows?)
- Son (For obvious reasons.)
- Little Blossom (Picked this one up from our England Mum.)
- Little Froggy (Because of the way his legs bent after he was born breech, but he's almost grown out of this one.)
- Matthew Pudding (He's just so sweet!)
- Peepee Monster (When I've had to change 3 outfits in one night after he's wet through them.)
- Little Dumpling (Actually, doesn't really accurately describe what fills his diaper.)
- Milk Balloon (The credit for this one goes to our England Dad.)
- Hicpuppy (This child gets hiccups more than anybody I've ever met---even had them every day in the womb.)
Matthew freely confesses his thanks for everything mommy does for him, but how does his little confession end? "She's ....."?
Today Uncle Andy honored us with his presence as he made a stopover here after running an Alpha seminar in Osaka yesterday. I met Andy for the first time in 1993 when we were part of the same DTS team with YWAM in Osaka. Our paths have crossed on occasion since, and Andy has now been in charge of bringing the Alpha Course to Japan for the last ~~~ years. The main reason for his visit (apart from having a nice homemade curry and Abigella's fine chocolate brownies) was to visit his new godson, Matthew.
He is joined in his godfatherly duties by his counterpart, Holly Miller, who is Matthew's godmother - or "fairy godmother" if these pictures of her are to be believed. Abigail got to know Holly when they were both studying at Milligan College together in the 90s. Holly is now a premie baby nurse and is soon heading off to Alaska to fulfill her vision of working there. I'm sure it will be a big shock after living in sunny Florida for so long!
I'm sure both godparents are going to be great in their roles and will keep the parents in line when needed, as good godparents should.
Making the most of the opportunity of having them here, we dragged grandma and grandpa to the photo studio on Saturday for a big photo shoot. Matthew came through in the end after crying through a couple of attempts. And someone had his head swapped out with a version from another picture. Can you work out who it was and which head has been stuck on artificially?
Watch the little dude working out in his new gym (thanks, Paul and Alison) and grooving to the beat.
One thing I won't be getting done at a Japanese salon anytime soon.
As you can see in this video, Matthew is a big hit with the England grandparents.
(I have had problems getting this video to play right, but it is working OK now so give it a try if you have not seen it yet.)
Yes, they have arrived!
The first set of grandparents touched down this afternoon and were met at the front door by a little boy and his mommy, who were very pleased to see them.
I think Matthew is still trying to figure out who everyone is, but the doting GPs are definitely having fun in the interim and not letting this bother them.
When we were thinking about me having to look for another job, never in our wildest dreams did we think we would move to somewhere neither of us really knew. The only place other than Okazaki we thought we might end up would be Kanazawa, where I used to live in the mid / late 90s.
And the main reason? This guy and his church. But what is interesting is that Pastor Tsujimoto's wife comes from Nishinomiya and every month he comes down this way to do a home meeting for Christians in this area at her parents' house. Today was one of those days, so we invited him to come over to dinner.
He hasn't changed and is still as cheeky as ever, but I know he would try to make out that I am, in fact, the cheeky one. Anyway, he is a real pro with the kids (having four of his own) and so he and Matthew got along just fine. (Although Matthew's suddenly voracious appetite conspired to keep Abigail from hanging out with us much.)
We may not be in Kanazawa, but I am glad we can meet up and have fellowship and prayer together here.
You start to notice these things when you have a child and a stroller. It gives me great empathy for my aunt who helped my cousin with her wheelchair for years.
It was pouring rain today, so I decided to get my groceries from a store in this area that has basement parking. The first basement level was full, and I went farther down to the lower level, deeper into the dungeons. I heaved the stroller out of the trunk, and got Matthew in it.
Walking towards the sign that said "customer entrance," I realized it was stairs. Starting to feel a bit panicky, I asked a nice lady who was with her small son if there was an elevator. Apparently not.
She helped me carry the stroller up the two flights of stairs, and in the meantime, I wasn't even thinking about the return trip. The nice lady mentioned that I'd have to get help on the way down, too, since I'd have the stroller and groceries at that point.
A friendly grandma who works there pushing carts around saw us lugging the baby and stroller up, and recognized me from other times I've been (though I usually park on the roof and there is an elevator down to the store area, just not up from the basement). She told me to come look for her after I was done shopping, and she'd help me.
Well, I felt bad about that, seeing that she's a little grandma and all, so I went to the customer service counter later to complain about the lack of lifts and to ask for assistance. They were polite and helped me, but I don't think any elevators will be magically appearing any time soon.
"Buy your bento here for taking with you to view the cherry blossoms!"
It is wonderful to see educational institutions setting really high goals for their students. Here is the inspiring vision for the students of a local junior high school engraved on a stone monolith outside the gates.
In translation, this great motto states:
"Don't die, don't get injured and don't get sick."
You may remember an earlier post about the way the Japanese track the progress of the cherry blossoms as they march across the land in spring. Well, now they are here, and they seem to have (very conveniently) chosen to open fully at the weekend, just when the warmer spring weather has decided to come along in full force as well.
You can get an idea of the atmosphere by watching this video we took yesterday, and have a look at these pictures from today, when we had lunch under the trees while Matthew either bounced along or slept (fortunately!)
I might as well bite the bullet and post about another yucky subject: burping.
Have you ever noticed that when you've got an adorable, contented baby over your shoulder, attempting to extract a powerful gaseous emission from him, somehow you feel like joining in the fun and producing your own? Never fails to amaze me.
Sorry if Stephen and I have put you off from ever coming this way in cyberspace again, but our conversations of late have revolved around these kinds of serious, engrossing topics.
Blame it on the mommylag.
How low can our blog go?
Let's hope not, friends. At least, that's what Stephen's trying to combat with his garbage-bag apron, his latex gloves, and the fancy plastic covering he's pinned up on the wall behind where Matthew's diaper is changed 2,000,000 times a day. (Thanks are in order for Holly C. who warned us about newborn projectile poo.)
Actually, we don't want to pay tons of yen for a bunch of guys to put up new wallpaper after we leave. So I guess the plastic remains until Matthew is potty-trained.
(Don't worry, Holly M., your godmother picture is out of firing range.)
As I crawled back into bed in the wee hours this morning, after feeding Matthew at 4:15, Stephen "woke" up enough to ask a question.
Stephen: What time is it?
Abigail: It's 5.
He didn't stay awake long enough to hear my answer, though.
Had an adventure this afternoon going to the grocery store for the very first time with just Matthew and me. First of all, I had way more people than usual staring in my (excuse me, our--- OK, really it was just in Matthew's) direction, with lots of grandmas stopping to admire the baby's cuteness and high-bridged Western nose. I'm used to jetting through grocery stores, breezing past food-gawkers and fish-hawkers.
I can see that the pace of life is slowing way down from now on. That's OK. I can deal with that.
Things get even fushigier. "Chance" meeting: I was riding back up to the roof parking area with Matthew on the same elevator with a lady who had her adorable baby girl, Rei, at the same clinic where I had Matthew (the mommy even remembered seeing our name written up in the nurses' station). (By the way, Rei was born two weeks earlier.)
Now, this must be a fushigi God-thing. The clinic is just not that big, with about eight rooms. This in a metropolitan area that's the second largest in Japan after Tokyo.
We exchanged phone numbers and I'm looking forward to getting together with her sometime.
The mega-fushigiest thing of all today (OK, not really fushigier than meeting my new friend, but pretty darned difficult): figuring out how to fold up the baby stroller. Do they make these things into puzzles on purpose to stress out new mommies with haywire hormones?
Aichi friends and frequent blog commenters Auntie A-Ball (real name - Andrea) and Uncle M (real name Mike) have come for the weekend to hang out with us - and, of course, to meet the little Matthew Bundle.
Thanks for coming all this way just to see us!