The Most Effective Way To Exterminate Mosquitoes

Evidently they really have a thing for peanut-butter toast.

Fall Is Here

I wore socks today.

Cool Bean

Matthew really is fushigi sometimes!

Take today, for instance - the Bean loves mashed potatoes with cheese, so I made some for his lunchies. But no, he didn't want that - he ate almost every bit of my chicken/tofu burger instead!

And his language skills are pretty unusual, too. Yesterday evening we went for a romantic walk, just the four of us, and Stephen and I were commenting on the cool weather (for Japan, that is). Matthew started saying "cool", the first time we'd heard him use that word.

But today after lunch, when he was watching a Japanese kids' show with a guest inline skater on doing tricks, Maffa suddenly burst out with "cool"! How did he know that was also an acceptable use of the term? (Of course, that depends on your opinion of inline skating.)

Click to Give

My friend Julie down in Kyushu recently told me about The Breast Cancer Site's "Click to Give" program - you click once daily on the big pink button on their top page and sponsors give money to provide free mammograms.

After knowing several people (and of course their friends and families) impacted by breast cancer, this is a subject that is dear to my chest.

Only six days left to click, though! Hurry!

Papa's Wisdom

My friend Sarah (in Osaka) and I trade books sometimes (our husbands work together so they bring them to work and then do the swap), and yesterday's bag included The Hiding Place. I've read it before, but this particular edition has some pages with photos from the filming of the movie, with quotes from the book interspersed with those evocative pictures.

In one of the quotes, Corrie ten Boom is remembering a conversation she had with her dad when she was small:

"Papa, what is it like to die?"

"When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?"

"Just before we get on the train."

"So it is with death. When the time comes, our wise heavenly Father will give you all the strength you need."

I so long for that kind of wisdom for when Matthew and Joel start asking tough questions.

The ONE Campaign

I've just added my name to a petition being sent to Jim Lehrer, and here's an e-mail from the ONE Campaign for my friends, too (consider yourselves e-mailed):

Only two questions about global poverty have been asked in the history of modern presidential debates.

It's a shocking figure and in 2008, we need debate moderator Jim Lehrer to ask John McCain and Barack Obama "Just ONE question" on their plans to fight global poverty.

I just took action with the ONE Campaign and you can too, here.

Looking Up

Stephen was walking in front of me with the boys today at the "Country House" on Mt. Rokko, I was pushing the stroller with our bags and taking a little break behind them, and as I paused a moment to glance up at some pine trees, this is what I saw...

"Country House" on Mt. Rokko

Though it's still pretty hot in our area of Japan, Stephen was off work today for the Autumn Equinox (hooray for fall - my favorite season!). So with camera in tow and Joel in his Bean Bag, the four of us set off for a day at Mt. Rokko's "Country House" (a big park with no house in sight).

Water Wings

Oh my gosh, Daddy, it's freezing in here!

OK, OK, it's kinda nice after a few minutes of kicking and splashing...

Still not quite sure, though...

More, more! Climb up...

Jump backwards and you catch me...

Hugs for warming up...

Daddy-toddler time...

Wet Mines

Joel rolls to so many different parts of the living room now that wherever he lands, after all that exertion, he does a little spit-up. Just to mark his territory, I guess.

So I follow around with the wet wipes, cleaning as I go, and Matthew comes behind me to deliberately step into the newly de-spit-upped patches so he can tell me that each place is "wet".

The Wonders of Ikea and Tunnels

I'm officially head-over-heels for Ikea, a new Swedish store that opened up near Kobe recently. I've been resisting the idea of going because everybody's been raving about how wonderful it is and it's been really crowded, but I told Stephen today I was ready for the plunge.

And I wasn't disappointed. It's absolutely ginormous so we didn't get to see everything, but Matthew had a ton of fun in the kids' area, we were persuaded to get him this tunnel o' laughs, and the Swedish meatballs with gravy and cranberry sauce in the cafe were to drool for.

Excitement for little and big kids!

Daddy-Baby Time

Club Pup

We're not exactly on the Riviera over here, but Polar Puppy evidently found a sunny place to relax and chill before his next sweaty-Maffa-head nap sesh.


A high-school friend of mine, Jenny, recently posted this youtube video on her blog that you have to see!

Good thing Jesus is our friend, and good friends laugh with each other.

Cruel - and Usually Funny - Punishment

I was playing with Matthew and had his little wooden guy climbing up high, sitting down exhausted at the peak, happy at his accomplishment - at which point his uncoordinated toy body would be overcome by gravity, causing him to slide off to his doom. We would laugh. It was funny watching his misfortune.

That was when Matthew created his own variation of the game. In this version, the little wooden guy would climb up and sit down on reaching his goal as before. However, this time he would not fall off due to his own lack of balancing ability. No, he would fall off after getting a big shove from Matthew. The result was the same, and Matthew thought it was equally hilarious. But daddy did not think this was something that should be laughed at. "Poor little guy! You pushed him off to his doom!"

But wait a minute. Quantitatively there is no difference in the outcome: Little guy climbs up, feels brief satisfaction at his accomplishment, then falls to his doom. Now, obviously, he has a pretty hard wooden head, so no real pain was inflicted in this experiment. So I suppose it is not actually cruel to laugh at him.

But the question remains: Why is it OK for us to laugh at his fate when he falls off due to his own clutziness, and yet it feels wrong when he is pushed?

Night Vision

We are always amazed that Matthew is functional considering how little food he seems to want to eat relative to the amount of energy he expends in constant movement. My theory is that the extra weight he is putting on must be due to all that oxygen he is breathing. Where else could it be coming from?

Anyway, it seems to me that Matthew is very sensitive about how food looks. And I don't just mean that in the sense an adult would mean it - "Oh, that looks delicious! Can I have some?" No, what I am talking about is a unique quality control system which involves rules such as, "If suspicious food object has a little teeny-tiny-dangly-thingy, then reject out of hand even if it has already been established that other similar items actually taste quite good." You can imagine the number of mouthfuls that have said teeny-tiny-dangly-thingies - and then there are all the other rules as well.

Which is why I am proposing to get some night-vision goggles. Nothing fancy. I just need something that will help me to be able to see in the dark as I shovel food into the Maffa's mouth, while by-passing his visual food early-warning system. That should do the trick. "What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over," as my mother says.

Workout? I think not!

My evening walk the other night involved getting an ice cream bar from a little mom-and-pop store down the hill, and as I made my way home, I figured I probably hadn't even walked off enough calories to even burn off 1/8 of that stinkin' dessert. So much for working out. Those calories were working their way in to my post-baby bod. Great.

Quotable Quote

Stephen and Matthew were on the floor, Stephen was brushing the Bean's teeth, Matthew was lying on his back and holding his little blue car, and as I fed Joel on the sofa I overhead this from Stephen:

Matthew, do cars drive on the floor or on Daddy's face?

Matthew and His Play-Doh

Erina Chan

Yesterday one of our neighbors from upstairs came down to play for a little while and brought her mommy, too. Erina chan is almost nine months old and the boys love her! She and Matthew had some good laughs.

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Today was a pretty calm day - the two little dudes and I went to a train station/shopping area to walk around and to go to BorneLund (a toy import shop that has lots of wooden things) to get a small gift for a friend who just had a baby, and Matthew loved all the sample toys they have out. We could've spent a long time in there, but Joel got a bit fussy and tired and we needed to get home for lunch. Another day.

It was rainy this morning (though typhoon #13 went a different direction, thankfully) and once again I felt really blessed that our parking area is underground and the parking garage at the shopping center has a roof.

Stephen's home now, the boys will both be in bed in about an hour, and I've got some grocery shopping to do tonight.

I love my little family unit.

Boys Will Be Boys!

My childhood friend Jeanine wrote on her blog the other day about her boys' "snerts" and it reminded me of all the gross stuff that happens around here in the name of boyhood. I'm glad I'm not in the first trimester of a pregnancy!

Matthew thinks it's hilarious when he burps or farts. When I'm sitting at the table putting on my makeup and he's taking five years to eat his breakfast, he loves to look in my makeup mirror while he's chewing so he can open his mouth and see what's happening (bleck!). He's always itching to touch a public toilet wherever we go and I have to be on high-alert. Dirt is not a problem - the Bean is forever interested in examining (with his hands) floors in malls and drain covers outside, and he loves to bring his shoes from the genkan (entranceway) to show me and tell me they're dirty.

And this just seems to be the beginning - I'm way outnumbered.

Oh MY Word!

Joel is officially rolling all over the place, as of this very moment!

Matthew seemed a bit distressed by it, pointing to Joel's playmat (where the littlest Munday bean no longer repined) and to the carpet a few feet away where Joel had rolled, and telling me in his Matthew language that things were not as they should be.

Carpet, beware! (But when was our carpet ever safe anyway?)

Fun Day

I'm just starting to realize that when the little dudes and I go out and do something exciting, or when we have friends visit, I always post pictures and hardly do any writing about it, but when we have a "fun" (and I use this term very loosely) day at home, I end up writing and griping instead.

So I guess you've figured out by now that today was one of those days.

(If you have a queasy stomach that churns easily or if you are in the first trimester of your pregnancy, do not read on. I say, I say, do not read any more!)

If you're still here, I hope you can handle what's coming up.

Or rather, what came up.

I was just getting over changing about 4,000,000 (no exaggeration whatsoever) poopy diapers between the two, and was in the middle of changing Joel's clothes after a spit-up session (you know, one of those times when bibs mean absolutely nothing), when the phone rang.

I had Joel on one hip with his clothes half off and his little mouth grinning from ear to ear, Matthew was pulling a used band-aid out of the trash can, carrying the trash can and the band-aid to me and shouting "Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!" over and over at the top of his lungs, and I was trying to listen to this lady I'd never heard of before and what her plight was.

Turns out her name was Fukushima san and she lives next door to a paid parking area that we used on Monday morning after we dropped Miki san and Kikue san off at the train station. We had gone to the Shukugawa River to walk around, let Matthew run some energy off, and to have a picnic.

Just as I was wondering how she knew we had been there, she asked if we were missing a stroller (good thing I put our name, address, and phone number on it). Doh! I'd have slapped myself on the forehead only I was too busy grabbing a dirty band-aid and keeping Joel balanced in my other arm.

Yes, thank you, and I'm so sorry we bothered you, I was rude, etc. etc. etc. (as you do in Japanese).

Anyway, she had the stroller waiting at her house and I asked if it would be OK to pick it up later. Yes, fine.

OK, one hurdle hurdled.

Matthew had some play-doh and snack time (but didn't snack on the play-doh, fortunately), Joel went down for a nap, and order was restored.

Until Matthew was standing in front of the compootator watching an owl slideshow on Flickr. I was standing right next to him and it all seemed to happen in slow-mo as he apparently gagged on his own saliva and then a bit of drool went down his tummy (thank goodness he was still only wearing a diaper at this point, but that seems inconsequential in light of what happened next). He and I both looked at the drool, then looked at each other, and then the Bean did the BIGGEST barf I've ever seen in my life.

All over the padded fabric desk chair, half of the desk chair cushion, and the carpet. Oh, my word. Let's not talk about the carpet.

OK, yes, let's do talk about the carpet. I spent the next hour grabbing Matthew and carrying him to the shower, drying him off and dressing him, plopping him in front of a DVD with a cup of water (hoping upon hopes that he would sip slowly and not have any more incidents), and cleaning the chair, the cushion, and the carpet, all of which still reek of unmentionable things (even at 8:30 pm). Any ideas out there for de-stinkifying? Carpet cleaner hasn't seemed to do its job very well and I'm thinking of suing somebody. When you're breastfeeding and hormonal and your sense of smell is still in overdrive from being pregnant, you do NOT want any extra reekage floating around. Diapers are woofy enough.

I tell you what, that's a good way for me to lose those extra ten pounds I still need to kick. No mid-morning snack for me and I thought twice about lunch (but the leftover cheese garlic mashed potatoes won out in the end).

Anyway, the afternoon was calmer, everybody was happy and puke-less, we picked Stephen up from work, stopped at a bakery to get a little gift for the Fukushima family, picked up the stroller, gave them the gift (though they protested, they did take it), came home, and lived happily ever after.

Except for the stubborn stench.

Toothy Grin

I can just see the top of a tooth coming in on the bottom in Joel's cute little gums. There's one bump about to pop through--he's being a good sport about it, though.

The Little Scooter-Poot

Joel's been really trying to move lately, and as you can see, he gets pretty far off his rainforest playmat area just by scooching.

Time for a rest after all that work...

Kikue's Birthday

As I blogged yesterday, our friends Miki and Kikue came from the city of Kanazawa over on the west coast of Japan where they live to hang out with us this past weekend.

I just downloaded the camera this morning and realized we had forgotten a Kikue birthday picture! Happy birthday (again), Kikue san!


Well, Matthew's 2.5-year birthday came and went on Sept. 11 and I didn't even realize it until Stephen mentioned it yesterday. Our baby!

This morning our "baby" made me laugh when he clinked his bowl of dried cranberries (his dessert after breakfast) with his juice cup and said "oppai" (which means "breast") instead of the "kanpai" ("cheers") I taught him the other day with two cups. Woops. Wires crossed somewhere.

OK, who's been teaching my son the "o" word? 'Fess up, folks! (Maybe it was those rowdy hooligans at the playplace last week.)

Kanazawa Friends

Miki and Kikue, some good friends from Kanazawa where Stephen used to live, came for the three-day weekend and really entertained our little crew (and vice versa). We were happy they wanted to spend Kikue's birthday with us! Happy birthday, Kikue san!

At Mosaic on the ferris wheel (Matthew had been running around in the sun and got a sweaty head)!

In the living room with the Joel-bean...

At the Hankyu department store area in Kobe (click on the pics to see a more detailed view of the big machine with moving parts that Matthew was smitten with)...

They've returned to Kanazawa now and we're sure going to miss them! It was lovely seeing them again.

Happy 70th!!!

September 14 will live in infamy--the day these two tied the knot (seventy years ago)! Jim and Christine (aka Mommee Melt and Pa, my dad's parents) courted in LaGrange, Georgia, my grandma's hometown, and were married at the ripe young ages of 20 and 21, as soon as Pa graduated from Auburn University in Alabama. "Baby", as everybody on Mommee Melt's parents' dairy farm called her, was to be sorely missed when the two lovebirds trotted off to California to start their wedded bliss (and Pa's parents missed them so much they even moved out there, too!). After also living in Wichita, Kansas, and moving back to Georgia for a while, they made the big move to Orlando in 1953 and haven't budged since. They're still in the house that my great-grandpa designed and built for them, enjoying the lakeside view and the local wildlife (birds and alligators, that is).

Happy anniversary, and here's to seventy more!

Rei of Sunshine

Matthew gets so excited when his friend Rei chan comes over to play--he even does his happy-feet dance!


Poor Polar Puppy's got a booboo! Or does he?

Actually, Maffa's the one with the ouchy that he keeps picking, and this morning when he got up, his own personal bandaid had somehow found its way on to this helpless bedfellow.

More Words (Vol. 426187)

Matthew's chatting up a storm these days - still mostly one or two words together, but he does say his one special sentence whenever he sees a star shape: "Zis is stah!"

  • please = pease
  • potato = teeto
  • lid = lid
  • loud = loud (as in, "Please turn the volume up louder - I want it LOUD so I can dance to it!")
  • Patty Cake = Kacky Kacky
  • warm = warm
  • wait = wait
  • OK = OK
  • sorry = sorry
  • rice = rahs
  • kiwi = wiwi
  • sock = sock
  • wet = wet (he loves to touch puddles and tell me they're wet)
  • quickly = kickly
  • tiger = tahger
  • sleepy = seepy
  • light = laht
  • popper = popper (as in, a snap on his clothes)
  • pop = pop (the sound the popper makes)
  • seal = seal (as in the animal)
  • deer = deer (for the reindeer on his Baby Santa's Music Box DVD - no matter that it's September, he loves that one)
  • When I say "Give me five, up high, down low" he chimes in on the "up high" part.

Too Close for Comfort

You know you're in very close proximity to others when you learn new Japanese by overhearing your neighbors on the phone to their friends.

Playtime at Santatta Hiroba

Our friends Manabe san, Jidai kun, and Yuuka kun invited us to a fun hangout they go to sometimes called Santatta Hiroba. It's a gathering place run by a doctor's wife, Aoyama sensei, and she's great with kiddiewinks. When she walked us to our car afterwards, Joel actually cried when she gave him back to me to put into his car seat (not sure if that was because he was leaving her or because he was having to go into his dreaded car seat). Anyway, she also teaches music lessons for the kids there, so I'm sure we'll be back for playing and music-ing.

Matthew and Jidai ensconced themselves in the norimono (vehicles)...

And this pic is kinda blurry, but man, Matthew found his perfect toy!

Manabe san and Yuuka kun entertained Aoyama sensei and Joel...

Joel met a little girl who is ten days older than him...

And they even caught up on some zzzzzz's together...

Joel (thinks he's) on the move...


Oh, Brother!


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