It's a sad, sad day when you resort to watching golf on TV so that you can see real grass. Speaking hypothetically, of course.
(Update: Stephen reminded me that we do live in one of the nicest places in Japan, and it's true--there are plenty of plum and cherry trees, mountains just up the road, and the marina is not too far, either. I just miss having grass to run my bare feet through.)
After helping me struggle to get off the floor:
I'm glad we're not both pregnant at the same time!
The happiest of birthdays to our UK Dad! Hope it's a swell day and wish we could give you birthday hugs in person!
And Uncle Paul, sorry we didn't acknowledge your big day (Thursday) on the blog...hope it was fun.
It was also my dad's dad's (Pa's) birthday on the 25th, so a big happy 92nd to him! (He doesn't read the blog so I can tell you his age!)
All you have to do is look at the top of our blog to see how gorgeous the cherry blossoms are in full bloom here in Nishinomiya. We went back this year to the Shukugawa River area to hang out under the trees again, and this time we went with Harumi and her husband, Minoru. The sakura are just starting to strut their pink stuff, but it was beautiful nonetheless. And the friends and food were good, too!
Joel's going to see the world for the first time on Thursday, May 1, at about 2:00 pm! He'll be 38 weeks and 5 days old (Matthew was 37 weeks and 5 days old when he popped out).
(Thanks, J and S, for letting us steal this from your Smug Mug account!)
As many of you know, one of Matthew's favorite things is deedah (aka cereal), and genmai (brown rice) flakes in particular. We don't know how long we'll be in Japan, but if Matthew does a bit more growing up here, he's going to be learning more and more interesting ways to eat the stuff.
Take the box in the picture, for example. It suggests putting salady-type fixings on top of the flakes (raw egg, shrimp, seaweed, etc.) and then pouring your dressing on (click on the image for a larger view if you don't believe me). Not exactly a Westerner's ideal breakfast scenario, but there you go.
I do like the added crunch of cornflakes on sundaes and parfaits, which is really popular here. And Matthew's birthday "cake" had chocolate-covered cornflakes sprinkled round the top. Yum.
Matthew's getting to be such a big boy (must be preparation for Joel's arrival): He's really trying hard to put his own socks on! It's a work in progress, but he's coming along well.
Matthew's the big T-W-O now so no more monthly posts on his progress. I'll just throw out a tidbit here and there for you as things come up (and gosh, I'm not even talking about the way he's been eating lately--let's not even go there).
So the past couple of days or so I've been getting some big laughs from the Maffa Bean when we go through his list of words that he can say.
"Matthew, can you say 'Daddy'?"
"Matthew, can you say 'lion'?"
"Matthew, can you say 'owl'?"
"Matthew, can you say 'banana'?"
Etc. etc. etc.
"Matthew, can you say 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'?"
(And just tonight, during dinner, Matthew pulled out all his comedic stops when Stephen held up a glass of beer, asked Matthew if he could say beer, and the toddler bean immediately shouted, "Mama!" Hardy har har. I don't think he's ever even seen me drink anything alcoholic! I was breastfeeding him up until a week before I got pregnant, so it's been a no-no for me for a long time. Anyway, must be that toddler humor again.)
Littlest Bean has a name -- Joel! It means "Yahweh is God" and my dad was the one who originally suggested it, so he gets the big prize (we'll have to think of one!). No middle name for sure yet, though; still chewing on that one.
Joel is growing and kicking and trying to catch up with his big brother. Check out what he probably looks like now.
And here he is in real life!
Rei-chan and Matchu-kun took turns being ornery today when Rei was here visiting. They both want what they want, when they want. Guess that's part of being two. Not much sharing occurs (and when it does, it's a beautiful thing!).
So they each had a go at being in the No Fun Zone. When it was Matthew's turn, he bore it like a man and stoically had his two minutes. And when it came to Rei, she had a stiff upper lip, but Matthew stood in the doorway watching her and crying! What a guy.
I'm not naming any names (could be anyone!) but someone we know pretty well accidentally pushed the alarm bell in a public loo at a local park here in Nishinomiya. This person thought it was the flusher because the two buttons were next to each other, but alas, all the wildlife within a mile was alerted to a loud clang instead. None of the wild rangers showed up to help, though, so I guess if you're in real trouble, oh well. Fend for yourself.
Well, when the four of us went for a walk on Sunday (yes, the littlest bean always comes along for the ride, too), of course my bladder needed a break because of the aforementioned cute but heavy bowling ball. I ducked into a public loo, did what I needed to do, and as I reached for the toilet paper, the top half of my left arm brushed the alarm bell!
Right away Stephen thought I had gone into labor and needed help, so he started yelling to find out if I was OK.
I was perfectly fine, but my pride had a bit of a dent in it as I walked out into the sunshine amid the (adoring) concerned looks of all my fans walking by.
Poor real laboring women in public toilets at this park. (Sigh for them.) Nobody showed up to lend a delivery helping hand this time, either.
Ah, the wonders of modern technology. Matthew got a book voucher at the company shinnenkai (New Year's party, hideously delayed) and picked out a drum-book that both plays tunes for him to drum along too, as well as having a book with the words to the songs and little symbols to show when to hit which drum pad.
The only slight drawback is that somehow the makers of said book have figured out how to put a Spinal Tap-style volume-goes-up-to-11 amplifier inside this thing so that it is incredibly loud. But just look how much Matthew likes it...
Sorry for the long absence, folks. No excuses, really, just been a bit busy (what's new?) and both boys have been a bit unwell. Littlest boy is still very quiet (and now in week 32) but middle boy and big boy are both downing antibiotics from the jibika (ENT) like there's no tomorrow. Let me just say that green snot turned clear is a wonderful sight. (Sorry to gross out those with weak tummies, but there you go. I grew up with respiratory therapists for parents so I got used to phlegm--pronounced "fleg uhm"--stories real quick.)
We had some visitors last week from the UK via Seoul. John and Sheena used to work with Stephen at the language school in Chiryu, moved to Korea for four years, and now are going back to the UK for a bit before heading off to a jungle for Bible translation work (and going overland all the way back to Cambridge, bless 'em).
Sheena bought some interesting cookies/biscuits while hanging out at our local supermarket down the road.
I've started going to see a friend who's a licensed chiropractor-like massage/stretch therapist (but doesn't crack your bones like a chiropractor, thank goodness), and have already seen some improvement in my back and hips. Hooray! Will go twice a week and his lovely wife looks after Matthew as a bonus for me. All she has to do is give him some "deedah" (cereal) and he's a happy camper (his favorite is genmai--brown rice--flakes). They have a poodle (you know, the one we used to compare Matthew's weight to) and she had puppies a month ago, so I'm sure Matthew will be looking forward to going back on Friday with me.
Had a fushigi experience at the post office this morning. Have started wearing contacts again sometimes, went in to mail my LAST box of bento lunchbox gear, and the postal guy flipped his wig. He stuttered and gasped and couldn't even speak. Pointed to his face and said megane (glasses). After a bit of this, he could finally pull himself together to actually serve me, and I told him it was the last bento I'll be sending. I've been going three times a week since last May so they all know me well. And they love Matthew. Postal Dude asked us to keep coming back to visit anyway. We'll see. After that reaction I got this morning, I don't know what to think.
Stephen's off tomorrow for Shunbun No Hi (vernal equinox) so it's party time for the four of us at the children's hair cutting place. Maffa's looking a bit shaggy.
- Now says "mama" for me (hooray--finally!). For ages I wondered whether I'd be "mommy" or "mummy" and now I know I'm neither.
- Says "more" along with doing the baby sign when he wants more food or more play time.
- Sits on a grown-up chair now much more than he uses his high chair. He's got a little booster seat thingy that gives him the height he needs. I just have to watch him like a hawk when he's eating now so that he doesn't try to lean over and take the whole chair with him!
- Says "deedee" for baby.
- If I ask him where certain animals are in his books, he points to the right one (tiger, piggy, lion, etc.).
- After I picked him up from my friend Nobue's one day, she told me he had very helpfully brought her the "childproof" covers from her electrical outlets. Wonderful.
- Matthew's little body clock KNOWS: Around the time Stephen's going to be coming home on weekdays, the little bean starts looking at our family picture on the shelf in the dining room and saying, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" And when we sometimes pick Stephen up from work in the evenings, Matthew and I chant "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" as we chug along up the hill to the office.
- Says "lion"!
- Loves to identify babies in books and on advertisements (and he's really good with every baby he meets--very gentle and smiley).
- Notice from the above pictures his aversion to anything on his feet (just like his mama).
We just put Matthew down to bed as a one year old. He will wake up 2 (not at 2, I hope). I wonder how he will be different. What new things lie in wait this new Matthew year?
As Stephen and I are mulling over options for Matthew's schooling for the future (I know, I know, he doesn't even turn two till tomorrow!), it was inspiring for me to come across this Animal School video via Nature Moms today.
No, the copyeditor did not miss the spelling error in the title of this post, but I guess I didn't realize I'd have to copyedit a "bithday" cake. I wondered why the bakery lady showed me Matthew's cake really fast last night when I picked it up. And I had carefully written in English what I wanted on it. Anyway, it was delish, spelling error notwithstanding. (It actually wasn't really a "cake" as such; it was made up of French choux creme pastries filled with custard cream and topped with fresh fruit. Yum.)
We had Matthew's bithday party this morning (though he doesn't turn two till Tuesday) and I think it went really well. We had a few families cancel because of sickness (we missed you, guys, and hope you get better soon!) but the kids and parents who did come seemed to have a good time. I think the biggest hit (yes, bigger even than the bithday pastries) was the play yard with the Chucky Cheese-type colored balls and balloons. All the kids dove right in.
Matthew's ideal music scenario: Alison Krauss singing with U2 in Japanese while Mozart plays the piano.
Went to our friends' home Friday night for dinner and had lots of play time, too! Stephen stayed home and rested (poor blokey's had a cold all week). Matthew really loved seeing Rikuto again (and we had run into them at the grocery store Friday morning and had a bit of pre-play time as well on the roof of the co-op where they have a small playground) but they did some fighting over the extra-special "Black Cat" delivery truck that is Rikuto's treasure. Gave me an idea for a birthday present for Matthew, though!
Harumi is a new friend I made at my cooking class last week and it was fun having her round for lunch on Thursday. She's got her first baby due in six months from now so I think she wanted to see what it was like to be further along in a pregnancy and also have a toddler-bean running around.
Matthew had a blast showing her the proper way to brush teeth.
We had another ultrasound at the doc's today, but it wasn't that great. We could see a lot when the baby was moving on the screen, but the photography itself left a lot to be desired. Baby Beansprout was wiggling up a storm, getting bigger by the second, and basically being his very cute self. His face and teeth buds were pretty obvious, and the doc made a VERY big deal about the baby's HUGE gaijin nose. Heartbeat was strong, legs were kicking, and arms were playing with his adorable little face! He now weighs 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds) and his head is 8 cm (about 3 inches) in diameter.