Condi's Younger Brother

Here he is---Matthew Rice.

Apparently this is just the beginning, so our friends with three sons tell me. How Matthew got a grain of rice stuck in his hair I'll never know. But he did it.

I was at the abovementioned friends' home last night with Matthew, and on my way out the door someone noticed that the little guy was doing takeout the creative way.

Now that's using your head.

We Were Wrong

Actually, the bathroom scale is just not that accurate.

Matthew does not weigh 15 pounds as we had thought recently. To be precise, he weighs 14.97, or 6,790 grams.

Took him to the pediatrician's today because he kept pulling on his right ear and crying yesterday and today, and frankly, the boy's clever, but he just can't tell me with words yet how's he's really feeling. Turns out there's absolutely nothing wrong, thank goodness, but poor boy, he hated it there. Other crying kids, having his temp taken, getting weighed, the doc checking him out.

I think he's waiting for his daddy to come back. Only about another hour...

Monkeying Around

My mom sent a little box of things we needed from America, and included my old friend, Judith the Monkey. She used to have a pink ribbon around her neck, but maybe it's been removed for Matthew. Anybody have a blue one we could have?

(By the way, I noticed Judith's tag said she was made in Korea. She must be feeling good, having traveled back to a region close to her homeland.)

What's Happenin'

Auntie Noriko came to visit from Okazaki yesterday. She had a great time meeting the baby!

Matthew and I visited our friend and her son, Jidai, today. The boys chilled out, along with Teddy.

Rolling on to his side seems to be the new fad, and Matthew loves to wrestle with his rattle.

Way Weird

As some of you might remember, I met a Japanese lady and her baby girl on an elevator in a supermarket in March. She "happened" to have had her baby at the same clinic I did, three weeks before Matthew was born! We have become fast friends, and the babies love to hang out together, too.

So today, I went to visit another friend who had her baby boy five days after Matthew, at the same clinic. She had given me her address, which I plugged into a map program. The area looked strangely familiar.

As I pulled into her townhouse parking lot, I just had to laugh. It so "happens" that our new pastor and his family live in the townhouse directly next to my friend's. They don't really know each other, but we saw the pastor's wife while I was there, and my friend invited her in for chilled summer barley tea. What a wacky "coincidence!"

Five Years!

Last Friday Stephen and I celebrated our fifth England wedding anniversary. Two weeks before had been our (obviously) fifth Florida wedding anniversary. We went to a fun French restaurant, where we didn't know how to use most of the silverware!

The Prince and the Pea

Poor Matthew. His parents are pretty clueless sometimes.

We bought a secondhand car seat (looked really new though) for him before he was born, patting ourselves on the back for saving a bit of money. Well, the darn thing never worked properly, and never leaned back far enough to keep little Matthew's head in the proper position.
So we drove to another city to Babies R Us last Saturday, and got him a proper one.

It's a bit of a process to get rid of things here in Japan. Ordinarily I would've tried to find a home for the car seat, but because it never worked like it was supposed to, I didn't want anybody else to have to deal with it.

The dumping system: You go to the grocery store to the service counter. Buy a sticker for the appropriate amount. Then you come home, call the city hall, tell them what the item is, and they give you a special number to write on the sticker. They also tell you the date and time to put the item out on the street. Our date happens to be tomorrow.

As I was preparing this car seat and putting the dumping sticker on it, I decided to take out the extra pads to keep in case Matthew needs a substitute if the new ones ever need to be washed. I felt a strange object in the seat that went under his little tushy.

Yes, there was a piece of a model train set track in the cushion. And Matthew never ever complained about it.

What a lad.

Catering By Zeus

Story from the other evening at a local church here in Seoul: Great food. Catering by.... Zeus. I guess this is a case of Zeus serving Christians.

Seoul Day 2

Well, I won't say I am well-rested, but I slept a lot better last night, and appreciated the accuracy of the wake-up call as opposed to the in-room alarm clock.

Yesterday was focused on big business Christian publishing, video and online activities here in Korea which, to be honest, was very far from anything I could related to, particularly coming from Japan where 0.3% of the population does not constitute much of market.

Today, we have had a couple of very interesting presentations about e-learning. One was from a low-tech, developing country perspective, where a MAF division has been looking at how to teach and develop Christian leaders in context where they can immediately apply what they learn and in a way that will less likely result in them leaving for pastures new in the big city or even abroad.

The other major presentation has been from the other end of the spectrum: A very swish US-developed content delivery system that has even patented some of their processes. In fact, the system is so good that they are even able to sell it to other non-Christian education providers and use that money to fund the non-Revenue-producing Christian side.

So, two very different but interesting perspectives this morning. Now we are just about to start a presentation on applying elearning in a church here in Seoul.

Making Lemonade out of Lemons

Straight from the Hungry Horse's Mouth

Yep, I can report firsthand that Matthew and I are doing fine. But Matthew's been a bit grumpier today and less smiley than usual, and I think it's because he misses his daddy. He's still making his usual amount of drool and farty noises, though. That hasn't changed. He and I have been singing lots together, too.

We've got a pretty busy week planned, but right now I'm about to have my dinner, with nothing but the organic co-op catalog for company. Matthew's busy chatting with his toy kitty.

(Everybody get out your violins for the next part.)

I miss you, too, Stephen. Come home soon.

Seoul Day 1

Here I am blogging from Seoul. Abigail and Matthew are (apparently) doing fine back in Japan - I know this as I talked with them through Google Talk last night, avoiding extortionate calling charges from the hotel. I do miss them, though.

Why am I blogging right now? Well, I am in the middle of a long explanation of CBS (a Korean broadcaster), which is not hugely interesting to me, but I am having some good interactions with people here, as well as being able to see some great mobile technologies.

More news soon... Stay tuned.


After being in Japan almost five years, I'm still learning about the consequences of what you don't say!

My first experience of this was when I was just beginning to learn Japanese, back in 2001. I had just studied the adjective for heavy, and I thought I'd practice at the grocery store. (I feel like I'm starting to sound like a broken record! Have I blogged this before? Hmmm. I wonder.) Anyway, in Japanese grocery stores you have a basket in your cart, then at the checkout counter you give the basket to the cashier, she rings up each item and puts them in a new basket, which you then tote over to a separate table where you bag your own groceries. So I mentioned to one particular cashier that I thought my basket was a bit heavy. She bowed, gathered up my basket and carried it over to the table! Much to my chagrin, she did the same with my second basket as all the other customers in line looked on, probably thinking I was a selfish gaijin.

Another time I was going out to lunch during exam time at one of the middle schools where I was working. Because of the exams, there was no school lunch that day, and the school nurse, the office lady, and a couple of the teachers asked me to go with them to a restaurant that they all liked. On the way, I mentioned that I had been to a Chinese place across the street from the one they liked, and that I had enjoyed it. Immediately, there was a squeal of brakes and a turning of the steering wheel into the Chinese restaurant, as three of us lurched to one side in the back seat. I tried to explain to them that that wasn't what I actually meant, that I really did want to go to their chosen place, but they wouldn't take no for an answer. So I suffered during lunch, feeling guilty for inadvertently manipulating them away from the buffet restaurant they'd been salivating over.

You'd think I would've learned by now. But no.

Just yesterday, Matthew and I were getting out of the car in our parking garage below our building. Because the garage is surrounded on three sides by concrete and held in place by dirt, it's much cooler than outside. Not to mention the roof shade. So there was a cute family playing there: Mom, two big sisters, and little brother. I was thinking about the family in one of the apartments in our building that we've never met or seen yet, so I assumed they were the 301 crew. I didn't put it that way, though. All I asked was if they lived in our building, hoping in my heart to get to know them. They said no, they were from the neighborhood, and at the time I wondered why they scooted off so quickly.

I got upstairs to our apartment and realized that I had done it again. I had prompted a response by what I hadn't said. The nice family must've thought I wanted them gone, which is the exact opposite of what I felt.

When will I learn?

Korea, Here I Come!

I'm off to Seoul next week to participate in the Global Christian Internet Alliance conference from June 25th to 30th. Although I am not involved in any online ministry directly, this kind of stuff is definitely in my field of interest and I have been talking about it a lot with Andy Game, the Director of Alpha Japan and Matthew's godfather.

If you live in Seoul (you know who you are!), check out the conference schedule and see whether we could meet up during any of the breaks in the program. Hopefully I will also be able to take the camera so that I can blog some photos from there.... Although that will mean almost a whole week of no Matthew photos. Can you handle it?

Happy Boy

First Father's Day

Matthew and Friends

Matthew, Rei, and Noah had a great time together this past Friday. Our little boy didn't even mind when Noah tried to eat his feet! Definitely future embarrassing material.

Mata Ne

Mike and Andrea came from Aichi to visit this past weekend, and boy, we're sure going to miss them when they move back to Ohio. As you can see from the pics, Matthew had lots of fun hanging out with them, too.

We're not saying sayonara, which means goodbye; rather, we're saying mata ne, or see you later, guys!

Where the Streets Have No Name


We've gotten used to finding our way around using landmarks, but at first it was pretty difficult!

(Stephen and I just recently watched a U2 concert on DVD, which is what triggered this post.)

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

You know those shorts that girls used to wear 15 years or so ago that actually looked like men's boxer shorts? But you were allowed to wear them out in public. Remember those? Anyway, I had a pair from high school that I wore all the time to softball and volleyball practices. They were kind of a pale green with little orange paisley things on them. Another girl on the team had the same pair (but I had mine first). Well, they finally bit the dust and now are hanging out in the dust bin waiting for trash day. The elastic is finally totally gone. (No, that's not saying anything about my waistline being any bigger than it was in 1992.) They were just old. And now they're history. Bummer.


Do I stay up to watch England v. Trinidad and Tobago at 1 am?

  • If England win, it will just be like, "Of course they did. How could they lose to a tiny country like that?"
  • If its a draw, I will kick myself for having stayed up to watch a boring game - and wonder why England didn't win it.
  • If we lose.... Well, I don't really need to go into too much detail about how that scenario would make me feel.
All in all, I am not feeling very motivated to watch the game.

I don't know: Four years ago, the World Cup was in Japan, but I was working in the evenings and missed games as a result. Now I am free in the evenings, but the games are all late at night....

We're Back!

Betcha didn't even know we were gone.

Our laptop's screen decided to take a permanent holiday to the land of unreadable blue lines. Anyway, we're happy that it was just the screen and not the whole shebang. So now we're borrowing a big flatscreen monitor that's absolutely wonderful! We didn't know what we were missing.

My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my eyes thank you.

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

You're three months old today!


And then.

More Poodles

Yes, there are more poodles there now. Check out the Poodle-ometer on the right of our blog.

(Abigail's note: For those of you who aren't on friendly terms with kilograms, that's over 15 pounds.)

Visitors From Aichi - Part 4

It is amazing to me how, even though Matthew has only been out in the world for 3 months, we have had so many people visiting us from where we used to live in Aichi, central Japan.

Today, it was the turn of some of the people from Nishio Church, which we attended for two years. They came bearing gifts and left bearing lots of stuff from Costco - mainly toilet paper.

Of course, the Matthew boy was the star of the show, and played right along with it, soaking up all the attention.

Nifty Book

I know what I want for my birthday--any Don Miller book. Just finished Blue Like Jazz. Couldn't put it down until the last page was turned. A totally fresh look at Christian spirituality and what it means for real life. For people who are turned off by the whole televangelist, big-hair Christianity thing. Clever. Witty. Gritty.

Buy it. You'll like it.

Fushigi Likeness

The spittin' image of Bruce Willis?

My New Toy

Check out my new blog, For Goodness' Sake. Like I need more stuff to do, right?

Anyway, I'm all for hearing about good news. So dive in, and let me know if you hear of any encouraging stories elsewhere. Inquiring minds want to know.

Cool Site, Dude

Ever heard of Pandora? It was created by the Music Genome Project. You can enter a song or artist, and it will search its big brain and find similar music for you to listen to. Stephen found the site, told me about it, and the possibilities are endless...

If you need me, that's where I'll be.

Fushigi But Cute Eating Habits

Matthew cracks me up! He eats for ten minutes, then takes a long smile break which absolutely melts my heart. He thereafter resumes his grazing.


We still haven't settled in to a church fellowship here in Nishinomiya, so we were wondering what to do about Matthew's dedication ceremony. Of course, our greatest desire is for him to come to know Jesus, and so we've already been praying about that since we found out he was going to come into the world.

Sunday night at a welcome party for some friends from Canada (who are going to be living in Japan for a while), someone asked if we'd dedicated Matthew yet. We said that we hadn't, and they asked if we wanted to do it that night, since there was already a large gathering of friends. So we did.

I asked for prayer for wisdom for raising Matthew, and for wisdom for Matthew himself. Stephen wanted to pray that Matthew would "bear good fruit."

It would've been nice to be able to have this prayer and dedication time when the grandparents were here, but how would we have chosen which set to do it with? In order to avoid making it unfair for either, we hope we haven't disappointed both. Godparents, family, and friends around the world, please pray with us that Matthew would come to know Jesus and live in His love. We missed having you here for this special time!

I'm Not Crazy About Lace Curtains

But they're almost a must in Japan, with buildings so close together.

These puppies are especially useful when the ground-floor neighbor's tree-trimming* man is doing his job at eye level with our windows. (He was very polite and avoided eye contact as I hung out my laundry on our balcony this morning, though we almost could've swapped some elbow howdies.)

Lace curtains help us not see too much of our neighbors (and vice versa), but unfortunately, they don't block out sounds. And it's that time of year between when the heater is toasting our toesies and the air conditioner is blasting out coolness. Yes, the windows are open and the sounds are a-wafting.

At any given moment we have an eclectic montage of noises for our listening pleasure: kids playing video games in one of the houses next door, the downstairs neighbor's yippy dogs barking, the grandpa-at-the-house-next-door hocking loogies onto the pavement while he tinkers with cars, the co-op truck delivering groceries (we have our first load arriving tomorrow!). I'm sure the neighbors really appreciate Matthew's cries (and other special noises he makes that I won't mention here) as well.

I think the two Florida seasonal sounds I miss the most are tear-through-the-air thunder and the approaching sweet melody of the ice-cream truck. Those are definitely two summer-songs I wouldn't want any kind of curtains to obliterate.

*And when I mention tree-trimming, I'm not talking about the traditional meaning of trim. Hack, chop to pieces, and scalp would be more appropriate words to describe how they torture these poor trees. What if they really were Ents?

Halfway through chopping.

Gone are the last vestiges of privacy and shade.

The World's TIniest Bust...

.... is what you need if you are to comply with the English-language instructions for the renewal of your foreigner ID card in Nishinomiya.

(Click on the image to see larger version.)

Fortunately the Japanese makes more sense, so I think I'll follow that and hope that is OK with them.

Yet Another Reason I Know Matthew Is Definitely Stephen's Boy

The back of his head and neck sweat profusely at the slightest provocation, like 20 degree weather (that's 68 degrees F for all you Americans out there).

Two More Reasons Matthew Is Definitely Stephen's Child

  • He LOVES having his hair brushed (what there is of it).
  • A look of heavenly peace comes over his face when I give him a head rub.

(And he still sneezes whenever he sees the sun. I guess that's here to stay.)

Happy Birthday, Blokey

Stephen is the ripe old age of -- today. (Don't want to get into too much trouble.) Our friend Andy is visiting from Tokyo, and birthday brownies were scarfed down at an amazing rate.


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