Matthew's favorite Japanese kids' TV show (and actually the only one he watches) is called Okaasan to Issho (Together with Mommy). Stephen thinks it's a funny title for something that most kids probably watch by themselves while Mommy does something completely different around the house.

They have three show hosts, two guys and a girl, who dance and sing, and they also have little educational cartoons and some puppets thrown in for good measure.

Anyway, on today's episode one of the blokes wore an interesting T-shirt. In bold red and green letters, all caps and splashed across his chest, it said JESUS OR SATAN. I wonder if he really knew what it meant?

Morning Tea

You may remember our nice neighbors from a post I wrote last June. I can't believe it's been that long!

Anyway, they came over this morning for some tea and cookies and Matthew enjoyed reading to Hattori san and her daughter, Masako san (I think they had fun, too).

More Than We Give Him Credit For

Just now, as I was running back and forth between hanging laundry out and the bathroom where the washing machine resides, I stopped to give Maffaboo a kiss while he watched a Psalty DVD in between his lunch and nap time.

Matthew's been doing the baby sign for "light" for ages when he sees a light source (the sun, any light bulb, Christmas lights, and even the snowflakes the other day), but I've never seen him sign it when he's only heard the word.

But as Psalty was telling the kids on the DVD about God's Light (aka Jesus), Matthew looked at me and did his favorite (and only) sign.

He got another kiss for that.

Long Time No See

Since we last saw our friends the Manabes, Jidai's little brother, Yuuka, was born (5 months ago) and he sure is a smiley fellow. He came yesterday and brought his big brother and parents, too.

Big brother, Jidai, and Matthew have been friends since they met in the hospital when both boys were born.

Both boys seem to really love listening to and making music.

You can't really tell from this picture, but Matthew loved hanging out with little Yuuka and making him smile. I think Matthew's going to be the bestest big brother in the whole world when May rolls around; he's getting lots of practice and is already very good at it.

Week 25

Baby's over a foot long (about 13.5 inches), weighs 1.5 pounds, and has hair the color it will be at birth. This child is quite energetic and does some spectacular gymnastics. Baby's also filling Mommy's tummy out quite well...

Big ol' bump!

Matthew loves vending machines; here he is pressing the button on the baby dispenser.


Boppin' to Mozart

Extra tiredness hit me hard this morning, so after Stephen left for work but before the stores would be open, I broke from our usual routine, put on a DVD for Matthew, and laid down on the sofa for a thirty-minute doze. I say "doze" because of course it wasn't proper sleep! Matthew was watching Baby Mozart, and at all the good parts he wanted me to be aware of how much fun he was having dancing around to the music.

During lunch, after our errands, I put on a Mozart CD because little Maffaboo had seemed so happy with the composer this morning. He ate a bit of his mashed potatoes, salmon, and carrots (yes, he actually ate some proper food--woo-hoo!), and then when a particularly jiving fast piano piece came on, he handed me his plate and proceeded to play air piano on his high-chair tray.

Then he clapped and danced (all while still in his high chair) and flashed HUGE grins my way.

I think Amadeus would be mighty pleased.

Boyz in the House

It's been a fun week: On Monday Matthew's neighborhood friends (pictured right), Ryo and Jin, came to visit and play (let me tell you, it was really hard to get three energetic boys in one photo without one or more of them running off), on Tuesday Rei chan was here for a while so her mommy could have a bit of a break (and thanks, Nobue, for babysitting last Friday night so Stephen and I could have a fun date!), yesterday Matthew and I did some bento lunchbox shopping for Bento Yum (and we found a new floor at the shopping center that has tons of little LOUD arcade machines that attracted Matthew's attention, but not my wallet), and today our friend Inna cycled over with her daughter Anastasia for playtime and lunch. Tomorrow's going to be a bit of a catch-up day with trips to the post office, bank, and the co-op.

We had some snow today (didn't stick, though) and Matthew enjoyed watching it from the comfort of my arms and the balcony. A next-door neighbor was out bringing her laundry in, so we had a little chat about it being Matthew's first time experiencing snow. He stuck his arm out and watched as the snowflakes landed on his shirt sleeve and seemed to enjoy it, but I don't think he really knew what to make of it.


I went down to our parking garage tonight to drive down to the grocery store and noticed a very peculiar thing: Someone had driven into the front left side of our car, smashed it in, left huge rubber marks, and wasn't anywhere around to 'fess up.

In the grocery store, I wasn't consciously thinking of it the whole time, but it made me so angry that I started having some Braxton-Hicks contractions and had to cool it.

Deep breaths...

The Spittin' Image

As Matthew was standing at the sofa just now before his nap, playing his little keyboard, he noticed some wooden blocks just on the other side of the instrument. One of the blocks has a mirror on one side, and as Maffaboo grabbed it and admired his smiling countenance, he said, "Dah dee"! Fushigi.

Every Woman Out There Has To Read This

If you're wanting MORE...

(Come to think of it, every guy should have a look as well; it'll help you understand your other half a bit better.)

Parental Perceptions

I was giving Maffa his nocturnal scrub-down just now in the shower and, for wont of a really intellectual subject for discussion, asked him, "Matthew. Can you say 'Daddy'?"

"Dah-dee", he replied, without a moment's hesitation.

Now, since I have been trying to train him to say "Daddy" since pretty much the moment he was born, and my efforts seem to have paid off, I thought I should step up the instruction for that other important word, "Mommy".

"Matthew. Can you say 'Mommy'?"

Again, no hesitation, but this time no verbal response. Instead, little Maffa slapped his not-so-little tummy. I guess that is his perception of his pregnant mother: From his reduced elevation, she must look like a little smiling head perched on a large, protruding belly.

Happy Birthday, Mum and Elise!

The 16th was our England Mum's and Wisconsin niece's birthdays, and we've already passed on our birthday best to them, but I wanted to officially recognize their day (a few days later). Happy birthday, you two!

Below is a pic of Elise, who is now the big 4 (sorry, Mum, we don't have a b-day photo of you)!

A Nose for Detail

Matthew, did you do a stinky? Or is that Daddy's broccoli?
Abigail's new and improved pregnant-lady sense of smell brings new pleasures to mealtimes.

(Very) New Friend

We had some friends come round yesterday for lunch and playtime, and they brought the newest addition to their family (Ayumi, who's about a month old). Matthew absolutely adored Ayumi and stood next to her quite a bit, grinning from ear to ear and occasionally (pretty gently) poking her leg. Of course I watched him like a hawk when he was near her, but I was glad to know I didn't need to worry. Gives me an idea of what he'll be like in May, so that's good news.

Big sister Chiaki is a pro-camerawoman already and likes to admire her own handiwork

Ayumi, the littlest sweetpea (I got to hold her for quite a while as she slept, and she was just too lovely for words)

Chiaki and Mommy

Our Daily Bread

My mouth started watering yesterday as I stood in line at our local bakery. Matthew's really enamored lately with their cheese bread, and I was grabbing a loaf for him (he's graciously shared a bit with us, too). My tray tipped slightly as I reached for my wallet, and I had the fleeting thought that it would be terrible to drop that gorgeous bread on the floor. I righted it, and just at that moment, a baker from the back brought out about five freshly baked loaves and started putting them on a shelf near me.

As if in a very odd waking deja vu dream, one of the loaves tilted off the shelf as the baker bumped it, and it fell right on the floor. He seemed a bit sheepish as he picked it up and dumped the whole thing into the trash bucket behind him.

Somebody's daily bread, in the garbage. Sad, that.

Impressing the Ladies

Leave it to a bijin (pretty woman) to get Matthew to eat his supper. Our neighbors from upstairs came down for dinner on Saturday evening, and when Kaori san "helped" Matthew with his food, he scarfed almost all of it down! We told her she needs to come down for every meal from now on, but they're moving to Brazil this year. Bummer. We'll miss them and their ability to get Matthew to eat proper food.

It's started early...showing off for the girls...


Strange! How can Matthew eat so little and yet feel heavier every time we pick him up? What's the deal with that?

Week 23

Well, folks, time's ticking away, and Baby Munday #2 is getting bigger and more active by the second. Week 23 started yesterday; apparently the baby is now about 11 inches (28 cm) long and weighs about a pound (450 g).

I have another appointment (including ultrasound) this coming Saturday (the 19th), so we'll have more news for you then. Stay tuned...

22 Months

Absolutely unbelievable! Matthew's 22 months already...

Loves being wrapped up in his Mimi-blanket to watch a DVD

The boy with his toys

Climbing into the "trough" under the dining room table

  • Does a "Happy Feet" imitation very well: hops back and forth between his feet very quickly as it becomes a happy dance.
  • We know exactly how many steps there are up or down between the car and the apartment (30) because we count them together as Matthew verrrrry slowly climbs or descends them (no elevator, sadly).
  • We've got Matthew's crib mattress as low as possible so he can't climb out, and when we're putting him to bed at night, Stephen and I sit on opposite ends of the length of the bed. In his crib, Matthew walks back and forth between us (before we put the side up), giving us each hugs in turn, many times over. It's very sweet.
  • He's now 84.1 cm (2 feet 9 inches) tall.
  • Now that Matthew's had 3 or 4 colds in succession in the past month and a half or so, he's become the world's pickiest eater. He'll eat bananas, fruit/veggie-juice jello, bread and crackers, sometimes soup, sometimes tangerines, sometimes cheese, and always drinks loads of milk. I can't get him to eat any meat or main dishes that we have for dinner. I'm sure it's just a stage but it sure is a pain.
  • He never used to be like this, but now he won't sleep unless we leave the hall light on outside his bedroom.
  • In one day he figured out two new escape routes: he can turn over his playard (no-fun zone) if he throws all his weight on one side, and then crawls out on his hands and knees, and he can now push the heavy hall door (between the living room and hall, where the toilet, bathroom, front door, and his bedroom are) open if he turns the handle and pushes his weight against it. This is quite an "accomplishment" since the door has one of those tight hinges at the top built to keep it shut. Mommy is absolutely thrilled about both feats.
  • Finally! Today (Jan. 6) Matthew ate something that didn't involve bananas, tangerines, or cheese bread; he had some shaomai and some boiled red carrots (don't ask me what these funky things are called--they're just a dark red variation of the normal everyday carrot).
  • January 7th was another big branching-out food day: Matthew ate tuna casserole and some kiwi slices as well! Maybe his picky days are coming to an end.
  • Says a new word: "dee-dee" for CD. He loves music and choosing CDs for us to play.
  • Seemed a bit sad after Stephen went back to work (after a week off for New Year's). Matthew kept looking at our family picture, pointing, and saying, "Daddy!"
  • We've gotten back into doing Eskimo kisses, and Matthew loves them! He gets a huge smile and laughs when we rub noses.
  • Lately has been taking shorter naps but sleeps a bit later in the morning.
  • If I want a hug from Matthew, the surefire way to get one is to get on all fours, crawl towards him growling like an animal, say that I'm gonna get him, and then he smiles and runs towards (not away from!) me to grab me in a big Matthew-bear cuddle.
  • No go with the end of the picky stage; he's back into it.

Mommy Moment

You know how you kind of forget about your life-roles sometimes? I do, anyway. You're just so busy doing them that you don't realize who or what you are.

I had a moment today, however, where it really hit me that I'm a for-real mommy. I had Matthew on my (rapidly diminishing) lap, playing guess which hand the wadded-up foil cheese wrapper was in, and he was chuckling hilariously as only a toddler can do.

Well I guess Baby Beansprout thought something fun was happening and wanted to join in the action, so my tummy started going crazy, too.

It was one of those moments I'll treasure for a long time. (And I'll definitely remember it since it's been blogged now. Pregnancy hormones have no chance against the archives of Fushigi News. Ha HA.)

Leave the 99

Matthew still has a bit of trouble climbing onto big people chairs, but he can manage it with some grunting and flailing legs. Lately he's been enjoying sitting on a chair at the dining room table and playing with wooden blocks on the tabletop.

But if he happens to drop one on the floor, the little tyke wants it back so desperately that he'll slide off the chair, grab the stray block, and the grunting/climbing process starts all over again.

You can't say Matthew's not determined.

Funny Girl

Kids crack me up. Rei chan, Matthew's little verbal friend, was in rare form and had me in stitches today when she came over to play. Later, when her mommy came to pick her up, I obtained permission to share the following quotes from the little beanette:

  • As Rei and Matthew ate their goldfish crackers, Rei touched her bowl to Matthew's and said "Kanpai!" (cheers!).
  • Matthew usually wants the toy that somebody else is playing with, and when he grabbed a ball from Rei, in a very adult-like voice she said, "Isshoni asobouka!" (let's play together!).
  • One of Matthew's toys is a carousel that Little People ride, but the button on top to make it spin is pretty hard to push for a little kid. Rei said "katai katai" (it's hard, it's hard!), and when I pushed it for her, she exclaimed, "Abige- sugoi!" (Abigay, that's amazing [that you can do that]!). (She doesn't say the L on the end of my name.)
  • After an hour or so of playing, Mommy was ready for a rest, so I plugged an animal DVD in and plopped on the couch where both kids joined me for a snuggle with the soft blanket Mimi sent from Wisconsin. Every time a new animal appeared on the screen, Rei said "konnichiwa" (hello), bowed toward the TV, and asked the animal if it would play together with her.
  • At one point, Rei reached over and touched Matthew's ear, in Japanese said the equivalent of "Matthew's ear", and then quickly pulled her hand back, exclaiming that it was freezing! (I felt it and it seemed warm-ish to me, but anyway, everybody has their own opinion in the matter of ear temperatures.)

Winter Festival

We took down the (2.5 foot) tree and other decorations tonight, but left up a few twinkle lights and silver snowflakes for a Munday-declared Fuyu Matsuri (Winter Festival).

All for Matthew's sake, of course.

Welcome To The Exotic Orient

We decided to take a little jaunt on the train to Kobe today to sample some of the delights of the exotic orient, otherwise know as Chinatown. In the West, you can see how the concept of Chinatown would seem exotic, but I don't really get how that works in Japan. It seems it would be kind of like having a "Scotlandtown" in London, for example. I had been to this particular one once in the early 90s before the earthquake, and then visited again in the late 90s a few years after that whole area had been wiped out. What surprised me on the second visit was the way it seemed to look exactly the same as I remembered it. I guess someone decided that there was no point messing with success and that they should just rebuild it as it was.

Matthew did very well with all the train rides and trundling round Chinatown itself, even though there were too many people to be able to let him spend much time out of his stroller exploring for himself. As usual, he did his little celebrity thing, winning the hearts of the ladies at the Hong Kong restaurant. Of course, we then had to stop there for our lunch. But that turned out to be a good decision by Matthew, as the food was delicious, filling, and good value to boot. Oh, and Matthew also got more attention, free crackers and a chance to charm the ladies further.

He's now zonked out in nap land in his room, while Abigail is also conking out from carrying number 2 around in utero. It is left to me, dear reader, to update you with this enlightening post.

Nabe Night

Japanese winters are famous for nabe, a cook-at-the-table meal that's full of healthy veggies and beautiful colors. Our friends Nobue and Masayuki had us over Friday night, and we sat around the table with the big pot in the middle. It's a soupy kind of dinner, to which the cook continues to add more veggies, meat, tofu, and thick udon noodles as the meal progresses and the contents get sparser. Yum yum yum! Everybody grabs what they want with chopsticks, and I must admit, I did a lot of grazing.

Stephen made an awesome variation of a British-style trifle to take for dessert, with layers of cake soaked in cranberry-raspberry juice, blueberries, strawberries, whipped cream, and blueberry sauce. Double yum.

Filipino Friends + Food + Fun

Dinner. Last Saturday night. Good friends. Good food. Good fun.

Stephen worked his magic and got Jozel snoozing in a jiffy. [Stephen says he is the Baby Whisperer.]

Matthew and Janna used their water markers to create beautiful works of art on Matthew's new drawing mat.

Jozel, awake with Mommy Lissa.

Abigail, Jozel, Matthew, Janna, Lissa, and Jomar (who happens to be one of the greatest Filipino cooks in the entire universe). [Stephen says, "And Abigail, who happens to be the greatest cheesecake maker in the entire universe."]

The Boy with the Golden Hair

Blast From The Stephen Past

Matthew comes by his cuteness honestly.

Happy New Year...

...from the future! We're already into 2008 over here in Japan, and I must say, it's looking set to be a fine one.

On a sidenote, you know you're preggo and have a toddler (and have done quite a bit of copyediting through the day) when you go to bed at 9:30 p.m. on New Year's Eve! Sad, I know, but it felt great, actually! I don't usually go to bed that early, but everything had caught up with me, and my pillow was calling my name. I answered, gratefully.

For those of you still partying, have a blast, and sip a glass of bubbly for me (I had some sparkling apple lemonade in a wine glass, and it was almost as good).


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