This past Friday night when we were out doing a bit of shopping, Matthew picked up a five-year-old new friend named Mai in the grocery store. We weren't necessarily unhappy at that point, just a bit pooped out from the day and thinking about what we needed to buy, but Mai was a ray of sunshine who flooded our moment with contagious happiness!
She latched onto Matthew, following us around the store (I think her mom was a bit tired and just let her do it, and it's not as scary in Japan to let your child roam in stores--though I don't allow Matthew to do it!), giving him pats and hugs, and even a kiss at one point. Mai asked how old the "akachan" (baby) was, and was proud to be his big sister (anyone older than you in Japan is either your big brother or big sister). Matthew ate up the attention and I think he even got a little crush on her. His face lit up every time she talked to him, and she'd disappear for a few minutes, only to reappear in random aisles, wanting to hang out with the "yellow-haired" baby boy.
Even when we were bagging our groceries and getting ready to leave, Mai suddenly showed up again and brightened our walk to the elevator, waving and chattering to us.
What a little angel.
We smiled the rest of the evening!
I know, I know, our public is wondering where we are...
At the moment, Stephen has taken Matthew to the playground for a pre-DVD and -bathtime run-around-and-burn-off-loads-of-energy time so I can get some work done.
It's been a bumpy weekend. Long story, but a week's worth of my copyediting work (a week of afternoons, that is, but still quite a large chunk of time) is gone forever. I must've had a huge brainfart and somehow managed to save it in a temporary file, which neither of us realized, and then yesterday afternoon Stephen did a clean-up and defrag of the computer, so even though he's racked his brains to retrieve my work, most of it is gone or turned to gibberish from the defrag, so I'm playing catch-up to get my project in by the 26th.
So hold onto your hats, folks, and we'll have more Matthew/life updates for you after the 26th.
Now, better get back to work...
Rei chan came over today for her mommy to have some free time, and Matthew was so smiley when he saw her! Even before she came over, I told Matthew she would be coming in a little while, and he went and waited by the door. So sweet. And apparently Rei kept saying Matthew's name over and over yesterday at breakfast ("Matchoo").
Rei chan loved our empty bookshelves, and Matthew couldn't take his eyes off the empty (washed) milk carton. Rei chan wanted her own, so I had to fish another one out of the kitchen (while it was waiting to head out for recycling). I'm constantly amazed how toddlers really don't give a rip about expensive toys! Give them cardboard anytime.
Matthew's headed to Rei's tomorrow so I can get some more copyediting done, so I'm sure there will be more stories to follow...
Monday was a national holiday (Respect for the Aged Day), so in honor of all those aged out there, we went out and had fun! Jomar, a really nice guy from the Philippines that Stephen works with, recommended a park that he takes his two kids to, and so we headed to Takarazuka, a nearby city. There was plenty of grass for Matthew to run around on, and a water splash area that I think Matthew will enjoy even more as he gets older and bolder.
This boy of ours has a HIGH level of pain tolerance. Since Stephen and I both tend to whimper and curl into the fetal position when it comes to pain (OK, we're not that bad, but we're both pretty wimpy), we're wondering just where exactly Matthew came from.
The other day Matthew fell over, scraped his knee, and blood came pouring out, but not even a flicker of recognition on his face that something had even happened.
He falls over and hits his head, gets right back up again and continues to toddle in blissful ignorance of any sore spots on his noggin, even when his forehead is red.
Yesterday we were at a park where there was a water attraction for kids (the water spurts up intermittently from the ground and the kids run through screaming in delight), and we took Matthew's shoes and socks off (along with shirt and shorts) so that he could get close if he wanted to. The dry ground around the water area was made of red bricks, and I didn't think anything of it, but Matthew was just standing on it, barefooted and carefree, staring at the water, deciding whether he wanted to run in or not. I took my sandals off, barely touched one foot on the ground and yelped in pain from the intense heat in the bricks. And Matthew was just standing on it like there was no problem at all. Just standing on those hot bricks. No register of pain on his face, no jumping up and down or crying.
Matthew must feel something, because he cries when he gets injections at the pediatrician's office, but I think we're really going to have to watch him, and I am hoping to hear his take on this when he starts talking. Does he feel the pain but it doesn't bother him? Does he not feel it? What's going on?
I'm not a fretting mother here, in case you're worried that I'm worried; I'm just wondering...
We met Stephen's brother's wife's parents, David and Heather (who are in Japan for a tour), in downtown Osaka for a meal last night before Helen's flight. Fun evening! And we just managed to get Helen to the last airport bus from Nishinomiya three minutes before it took off! Phew...
With Stephen's mum's permission, I'm sharing her memories of her precious mum, Ethel (aka Grandma Wright and Little Grandma):
Memories of Ethel Mum
Mother’s life can be summed up by the word love. Everything she did was done with love, gentleness and consideration for others. As a wife she loved and supported Robert, moving house several times as his job took him to different parts of the country and looking after his mother for 13 years while bringing up a family of three.
Moving to new areas, going to new schools and making new friends was daunting for us as young children but Mum was always there to support us, help to smooth the way and make these new places into enjoyable experiences. Until I had to move house myself I had not really understood what my mother must have been through and the difficulties she must have faced as she always appeared calm and in control of the situation.
In each place that she lived she made new friends and once a friend that friendship lasted throughout her life either through letters at Christmas, meeting and sharing experiences or, latterly, by keeping in touch with telephone calls.
Mum was concerned about others and would do whatever she could to help others through difficult times on their journey through life. You may have a family crisis and Mum would be there with a casserole or an apple pie to help in a practical way or she may be making something for herself and make an extra one to give away. Cakes and sausage rolls have been baked with love in her kitchen throughout her life and have graced many cake stalls to raise money for various good causes that were close to her heart.
Mum loved her family. She enjoyed having her children around her but also understood that we needed to leave home and live independently. She supported and encouraged us in what ever we wanted to do and kept in touch with visits, phone calls and letters. As the family enlarged and the grandchildren came along her love and encouragement extended and encompassed them and she was truly a greatly loved grandmother. Her grandchildren all lived away from Birmingham but all of them kept in touch with her visiting when possible or, for those living on the other side of the world, phoning her regularly. In the last two years she has become a Great-Grandmother and was able to meet and hold the two youngest members of her family.
As Stephen wrote on his ‘Blog’ “She has been a trail-blazer of faith in our family and is now enjoying a well deserved rest with her God”
Mum has touched many lives and has been a beacon of love and faith to her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and a sincere friend to many. We will miss her but her love goes on in us and she will never be forgotten.
Today is my dad's parents' (Mommee Melt and Pa) 69th wedding anniversary! Pa is 91 and Mommee Melt is 90, they still live together in their home in Florida on a lake, and they're still enjoying life.
I wish they had a computer so they could read this message, but I am planning on calling them as soon as they wake up (about 6 am for Mommee Melt and about 10 or 11 am for Pa -- they've always had different schedules, but that hasn't deterred them from hanging on together for 69 years)!
What's new this week in the Munday household?
We've got Helen (a UK friend visiting from Bangladesh where she lives) here for a week and are enjoying hearing about her adventures in the village where she's a doctor. She's hoping to avoid having her picture on the blog, but with two days left, I think there are still plenty of chances, so no such escape-luck for her.
Stephen's grandmother's funeral was yesterday in England, and we had a couple of phone calls from Stephen's dad during the day, so we were kept in the know of what was going on. I know it must've been a really tough day for everyone there, and we were sad here, too, but know Grandma is in a partying place now. Hugs and love to all of you on the Wright side in our UK family.
I'm still doing bento stuff every day: filling orders, shopping, visiting the post office (they love Matthew there and probably really appreciate all my business), making bentos, writing posts, answering customer emails, etc.
Also, I'm starting on a new copyediting project due in the next couple of weeks, so I have a lot of work to do on that. It will be a good challenge for my brain (which feels a bit squishy from talking to a toddler and trying to get Matthew to understand me), but time-wise a bit of a balancing act.
Stephen's very busy at work these days -- enjoying it but trying to keep up with his to-do list before it gets out of hand.
Matthew's a happy bean, as ever, and into everything. I'm having fun and extra work because he's walking more and more, not wanting to be a baby and ride in his stroller. He's developing a very strong sense of self and independence, which is a very good milestone in his development, and also a challenge for his parents! I pray for wisdom in helping him on his growth path (in body, mind, spirit).
I hope all of you out there in Cyber Land are having a blessed week.
Matthew called me "Nonny" today!
What sticks out in my mind about Matthew from this past month:
- Two more teeth have come in to make a total of fourteen.
- Loves to clap along with live CDs when the audience is clapping.
- Walking up a storm.
- Makes a kind of roaring/croaking sound for every animal he sees (and for trains, too).
- Last drink of mommy's milk was Aug. 7, so I'd say Matthew is completely and officially weaned.
- Ate with a spoon by himself for the first time on August 23. I've been trying to teach him to do this for ages but he's always resisted this instruction until now.
- Has started waving hello and bye-bye to everyone, and even after Stephen left for work the other morning, Matthew kept waving bye-bye down the hall as he and I went back into the living room.
- Matthew's fake cry and his fake laugh sound so similar it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
- Loves the flashing light in the co-op basement parking lot. It flashes green when it's OK to drive up the ramp, yellow if someone is approaching, and red if someone is almost at the bottom so you know to stay put for a minute. Matthew laughs so hard, whatever color is flashing!
- On August 24 Matthew started saying "Hi!"
- Has a Little People set from Auntie Teresa (thanks, TT!) that he loves, but he refuses to actually let the little people on the fair rides. He keeps the rides all to himself.
- Likes to listen to Enya.
- If he wants a kiss, he comes close and puts his forehead right at your lip level and rubs his head back and forth on your lips.
- If he wants to kiss you, he comes at your face with his mouth wide open for a sloppy teeth-full kiss (we're working on the teeth part).
- If he wants food that you have, he comes up to you and cranes his neck to see what's on your plate and says, "Oh oh oh!"
- Matthew mostly eats his food with his spoon or fork in his right hand (guess he's a righty).
- Likes to toddle around with his left thumb in his mouth (he's so balanced now that this is hardly ever a problem anymore, though).
- "Kisses" his stuffed animals by biting their faces.
- Shows affection to us by patting our necks gently.
- Can pick up a 4 lb. plastic jar of peanut butter! (Future sumo wrestler?)
- Likes The Rock and the Rabbi CD (thanks, Nan and Irv).
- His two favorite things lately are fruit and milk, and guess what? That's what I had a TON of when I was pregnant with him. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I guess, or from the udders.
- Every time we take a shortcut and drive past Matthew's friend Rei chan's apartment, he starts crying if we pass it because he wants to go play there. He has so much fun with Rei and her mommy, Nobue.
- Matthew is completely fascinated with the washing machine and always wants to be lifted up when it's running so he can see the red flashing digital numbers and settings.
- Enjoys it when I lie on my side on the floor so that he can lean back against my tummy when he's reading (it's pretty nice for me, too).
- Loves carrying my water bottle around - it's clear plastic and I think he likes seeing the light reflect off the sloshing liquid inside.
- When I pull my backpack on, Matthew's whole face lights up, he starts "talking" up a storm, and rushes over to the door. He knows we're leaving soon, and he's a go-baby.
- Just started clicking his tongue on the roof of his mouth and thinks he's a total comedian.
- Says "guck" for duck and "doidle" for turtle.
- We saw an Aflac insurance store the other day that had a huge stuffed duck out front. Matthew immediately rushed over, saying "guck, guck," and climbed all over it, giving it hugs and kisses.
We decided that since last week was such a blast, we should stage a redo, and this time we invited our friends Nobue and her daughter Rei along as well (her poor hubby is on a business trip in Hokkaido).
The kids (all five of us) had so much water fun!
(Lunch at Subway again was a given, of course.)
Sarah over at mommyinjapan posted this hilarious video from NHK (Japanese TV channel) that she found on YouTube. We saw it with Sarah and her fam when we were on vacation with them at the log cabin, and I had completely forgotten about it, but thought you might like to have a bite of comedy and take a look for yourself.
We had a fun morning with our friends, the Osaka family (and they live just outside of Osaka). Cute kids! From the top, you know Little Bean, and the middle pic is Aine (she's three months older than Matthew), and Yuuto at the bottom is turning five months soon.
Yesterday was a park day for us with some other friends, but it was pretty hot and I was busy chasing Matthew in and out of the little town hall (with automatic doors that he loved) connected to the park, so I didn't get any pics. I really couldn't blame Matthew, though, because those doors were really fun and it was air conditioned inside!
Matthew woke up from his nap yesterday and immediately went to stare out the windows and whine. His favorite trees had been scalped during his sleep time! I had to make sure to keep the sheer curtains closed otherwise the tree guys would've been able to see in, and as you can see from the pics, we realize how very close our neighbors are now. No privacy for anybody, and it's much brighter and hotter in our living room and bedroom, post tree-cutting. I'm so glad they waited till the end of the summer when it's down to 32 degrees C instead of what it was before. We had some nice shade for a while and are grateful for that. Matthew used to love to stand at the windows and watch the breezes blow the leaves, too. Maybe we've got ourselves a bit of a poet and don't know it.
I haven't been wanting to blog this week at all, but I guess you have to jump back on at some point.
To continue with the Marmite meals I've been posting, you'll have to jump over to Bento Yum to see #4. It was yummy! Thanks again, Mum and Dad, for the Marmite cookbook!
It is with great sadness that I write that Grandma Wright (aka Little Grandma) passed away on Sunday night / Monday morning UK time. She has been a trail-blazer of faith in our family and is now enjoying well-deserved rest with her God. These verses from our friend, Jef, are a great picture of Grandma and her walk with Jesus:
Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84: 4-7
Without guns or violence, thank goodness, Matthew's godfather Andy came to visit from Tokyo for the weekend (though we completely forgot to take any pictures). Matthew had a blast getting reacquainted with Andy, and our little bean is in for another treat in the beginning of November when Andy returns for a weekend here with his parents, Avril and Phil, who who will be visiting from the UK. We're all looking forward to it!
We've got a full lineup of fall visitors so let the fun begin...
Thanks Chikara and Sarah, Eugene and Inna for the idea to take Matthew to the splishy splashy zone at Rokko Island! I don't know if this area was built for this kind of intense fun, but other kids were there enjoying the water as well. And the longer Matthew spent in the water, the droopier his water-diaper got! By the time Stephen lifted him out to hand to me, the water had collected so well that it all sloshed out onto my shoes...but the excitement was worth it, and seeing Matthew so happy made us extra happy this morning, too. (The fact that a Subway was right next to the fountain didn't hurt either. Yum. Subway Club with extra avocado on honey oat, way delicious. Somehow I always manage to scarf down an entire 30 cm sub there. How does that happen?)