Sakura and Natsuki

Our friend Sarah is in Canada because of this, so her two youngest girls spent the day with us today.

This is Sakura's interpretation of me and our apartment...

Voting Against Global Poverty

ONE is a nonpartisan organization seeking to eradicate global poverty. Before you go to the polls, check out McCain's and Obama's commitments on this matter. (I mailed my ballot in this past Monday! Yea for me! I sent it sign-on-delivery, so nobody can say my vote had anything hanging.)

Sofa Theme

Over...


Under...

Splash Splash!


Remember Matthew at this stage? They're both such cutie pies, I just can't get over it!

Sad But True

Longing for a nap;
sleep just won't cooperate.
Chocolate cravings again...

Da Boyz




Where there's smoke...

There are children. The kids' playground area on the roof of the co-op is in exactly the same place as the smoking section. Love it. Love it.

Mrs. Clean, Mrs. Clean

You know, I have this strange Groundhog-Day feeling that I wash my face twice in my morning shower sometimes.

I really miss caffeine.

Moi No Do Mwah!

OK, so if we ever decide to move to the UK I'm really going to have to learn how to do mwah-mwah-cheek-kissing properly.

We spent the morning having breakfast and chatting at Richard and Chisa's, and they had four guys visiting from Manchester. It was really cool hearing about their faith journeys and sharing stories, and when we all parted ways (one of them had to leave in the middle of breakfast to catch a plane, two others are leaving tomorrow, and one of them is going back to where he lives in Matsumoto, up in Nagano prefecture), two of them tried to do the traditional European cheek pecks with me.

Would a female UK friend please enlighten me on this one? What do you do with your hands? Do you touch the guys' arms? Which side do you lean towards first? Do you actually touch cheeks? Your lips just brush air, right?

After being and bowing in Japan so long, I'm not sure what body language to use anymore. Shaking hands doesn't feel right, nor does lip-air-smacking.

Maybe one day I'll figure out what nationality I am, but in the meantime, I need some kissing lessons.

Or maybe I'll just make up my own greeting/closure gestures and freak everybody else out. Now that would be the bee's knees.

Fastest Mama in the East

If there was ever a fried-egg-with-salsa-driven-fastest-poopy-diaper-changing-while-keeping-your-little-men-from-escaping contest, I'd be sure to win the all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii. Let me know if you ever come across one of those.

BBC Ribbons of Beauty

Lemme just say that I love the colorful evocative wispy smoky BBC ribbons that wind their way across our screen whenever we plug in one of their shows or series. And I heart the music that goes with it.

Is it highly illegal to fancy something so fleeting?

Knock Your Socks Off!

Our previous next-door neighbors have a son who is about eight now, and they have given us quite a few of his toys and clothes. We love recycling of any kind and hope we'll find someone who needs Matthew and Joel's stuff as they get too big for it.

Anyway, these Anpanman socks from the neighbors sure have been getting a workout lately! They work really well for any kind of activity...from watching penguin slideshows on Flickr...



...to reading heavy-vehicle books with sliding windows...

Matthew's First Prayer and Favorite Car

I'm still keeping a list of most of Matthew's new words, but it's getting too long to type out anymore, so from now on I'll just post some highlights.

He touched my heart today and made me laugh with the following:

  • Before lunch I asked the Bean if he would like to thank God for the food. He promptly said, "God, Amen!"
  • He asked to look at a slideshow of car photos today on Flickr, and whenever a slinky sportsy car would pop up, Matthew would point and shout, "Porsche!" (I wonder where he gets his love of car-gazing from? Nobody we know.)
  • On our walk this morning, as Matthew was picking up rocks along the way and whenever he found a large one, he would hold it up for me and say, "Big one!" before he plopped it in a puddle of water or a drain.
And last week, our neighbor Kaori from upstairs came down while Matthew was napping so I could take Joel for his first round of the polio vaccine. I came home before he woke up, but Kaori stayed for tea so she was here when he came back into the living room after his nap. Two days later, when he woke up from his nap, the first thing he did was look around his room and the rest of the apartment, saying "Kari?" (his name for her) and acting disappointed when he couldn't locate her. He loves that woman! Her husband (who is working in Brazil) better come home soon or the Bean might try to whisk her away...

Our Big Boy

Just now, walking around the neighborhood with the fuzzy-peach-headed Beansprout in a sling and the bigger Bean running around picking up rocks, we ran into our co-op delivery guy doing his rounds (he should be here about now, actually). Being fairly new-ish on the route, he has seen Matthew a few times before, but he suddenly asked if Maffa was an elementary-school student.

Yowzers. I knew Matthew was on the tallish side, but I didn't think he was that gimongous! And he does it all on a few specks of dust to eat every day--Matthew's not what you would call into food.

Evidently that lint is some powerful stuff.

Jewelry Stages

You can figure out your kids' developmental milestones by the jewelry you can actually safely wear. Who wants extra holes ripped in your ears by dangly earrings being pulled on or to be strangled by necklaces being tugged on? (Ack.) Gotta watch out for those adorable little chubby fists with pudgy inverted knuckle dimples (for the next year or two when fun jewelry is disallowed). They might look innocent, but you never know what they're going to get up to.

Now if you'll please excuse me while I go extricate my precious body parts and my not-quite-so-valuable jewels.

Black Is the New Stain-Stick

It sure does conceal a multitude of drool and food droppings.

Only in Japan...

...do you walk around with $1500 in cash in your wallet to go and pay bills.

And apparently the other day someone Stephen knows was at the bank, and the little old lady in line in front of him withdrew over $100,000 in cash, put it in her purse, and walked out.

All perfectly normal.

Ashiyagawa Park

video






Stirrin' Up Trouble

Remember me whining back on October 8 about having to mix up my all-natural peanut butter? Well, truth be told, that same jar has been sitting, unopened, on my counter since then. Yep. No lie. Staring at me. Convicting me. Hissing and being really obnoxious.

So tonight I finally rolled up my sleeves (OK, OK, I was actually wearing a tank top, but you get the picture) and got to it. It only takes about ten minutes of huffing and puffing and getting sore upper arms (not to mention oil sloshing about the place), but hey - I did it!

And now I don't have an excuse to have Nutella on my toast every morning anymore.

Beautiful Wife and Handsome Son

Preach It, Brother

Yesterday (unusually) Matthew sat down with me long enough to read a few books together. After we closed each one at the end, he would emphatically say, "Amen!"

What a Day

Just asked Matthew what he would like to do today.

His answer?

"Poo-poo."

Happy Feet

Maffa and Joel's tootsies love to hang out together!

Computer Brain

I don't have loads of free time these days, but when I do get a spare minute or two I like to hop on the computer and glance at new blog posts in my reader, and those blog posts contain links to other blogs, and news stories, and whatever else is out there.

Which leaves me out there.

In cyberspace.

And that's where my brain stays sometimes.

So when I decide to read a book

for fun

then I really

notice how my attention span is getting shorter and

shorter.

And I can read about this much at one sitting now.

Scary.

Especially for an English major.

Books?

Where we're going we don't need books.

Or do we.

(Teacher, my mouse ate my textbook and I couldn't do the assigned reading.)

Security

Watching the global-markets mess lately sure has me thinking that it's not really a laughing matter (though jokes do alleviate some stress, hey). But I was just reading a quote in He Loves Me! (by Wayne Jacobsen) that really touched my heart and gave me some deep peace:

Once God is known as Father all methods to attain to security, prosperity, and assurance in the world are exposed as useless enslavement. If one knows God as Father then there is security about everything. (David Boan and John Yates in an unpublished manuscript)

Credit-Crunch Jokes

More from the BBC and readers' comments:

If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00. With Enron, you would have $16.50 left of the original $1000. With WorldCom, you would have less than $5.00 left. If you had purchased $1000.00 of Delta Air Lines stock you would have $49.00 left. If you had purchased United Airlines, you would have nothing left. But, if you had purchased $1000.00 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, and then turned in the cans for recycling, you would have $214.00. Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle. This is called the 401-Keg Plan.
Daniel, Calgary, Canada

What have Icelandic banks and an Icelandic streaker got in common? They both have frozen assets.
Stuart Harley, West Malvern, UK

Masked man holding a bank cashier up with a gun. Says: 'I don't want any money - I just want you to start lending to each other...
David, Cambridge, UK

Matthew Memory Moment

In case you are feeling sorry for yourself, wondering what your gray matter is up to these days and whether your synapses are experiencing the occasional relapse, check out the Memory Moment little 2.5-year-old Matthew had this morning.

"Juice? Juice?" said little Maffa, flipping his head side to side in his exaggerated I'm-looking-for-something-and-I-have-no-idea-where-it-is manner. "Errr, Matthew. I think... err... actually it's right there in your hands." There he was, holding his very large (relative to his reduced stature) bright orange cup with both hands the whole time, but had completely forgotten about it after drinking from it just moments before.

So the next time you forget your keys and worry about getting old, just think of little Maffa. Clearly these things start very early in life and these Memory Moments affect us all.

Have you had any amusing Memory Moments? Share them in the comments.

Matthew

Today as we walked along the top of our local dam, a group of six college-aged guy joggers trotted by, and Matthew tried out one of his new words.

As they turned around and headed the opposite way, The Bean shouted from behind them, "Bye-bye, people!"

He's also really great at recognizing pieces of music: If I hum a tune from one of his toys-with-many-buttons, he runs over, grabs that particular toy, and (usually) pushes the correct button to match the song.

Song for Matthew - Eat It

Matthew's table manners aren't bad for a toddler, but other than that, Weird Al has a song for him (hum along to the tune of "Beat It"):

How come you're always such a fussy young man
Don't want no Captain Crunch, don't want no Raisin Bran
Well, don't you know that other kids are starving in Japan
So eat it, just eat it

Don't want to argue, I don't want to debate
Don't want to hear about what kind of food you hate
You won't get no dessert 'till you clean off your plate
So eat it

Don't you tell me you're full
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it
Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn't matter if it's boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it
Just eat it, eat it, just eat it, eat it, ooh

Your table manners are some cryin' shame
You're playin' with your food, this ain't some kind of game
Now, if you starve to death, you'll just have yourself to blame
So eat it, just eat it

You better listen, better do what you're told
You haven't even touched your tuna casserole
You better chow down or it's gonna get cold
So eat it

I don't care if you're full
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Open up your mouth and feed it
Have some more yogurt, have some more spam
It doesn't matter if it's fresh or canned
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Don't you make me repeat it
Have a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn't matter what you had for lunch
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

Eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
If it's gettin' cold, reheat it
Have a big dinner, have a light snack
If you don't like it, you can't send it back
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Get yourself an egg and beat it (oh lord)
Have some more chicken, have some more pie
It doesn't matter if it's boiled or fried
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it
Don't you make me repeat it (oh no)
Have a banana, have a whole bunch
It doesn't matter what you had for lunch
Just eat it, eat it, eat it, eat it

Wakasa

Harumi and Minoru's daughter, Wakasa, was born about a month ago, so today was the first time we got to meet her! Matthew and Joel really enjoyed giving her kisses, though Joel was the only one who would pause long enough for pictures.






Hubba Hubba

Wild Friday night in the Munday household--I must confess something to you.

I used some of Stephen's toothpaste tonight.

(And stay tuned for even more exciting news in an upcoming post about my Restless Leg Syndrome. Brace yourselves.)

The Great Anti-Depression

This BBC article on laughter and the financial crisis brought a bit of "humour" our way this evening. No joke!

Long Overdue Maffa-Bean and Joel-Beansprout Piccies

Taken today while Maffa was absorbed in Nanami de Domo and Joel was captivated by the camera...







Sweetfest

With all the nastiness going on in the world, I found some sweetness to brighten my day! Thought you might enjoy it, too. Feast your eyes out!

Busy Bees

The past couple of weeks have been kinda hectic, so if you're wondering why I haven't been posting loads of adorable kiddiewink photos, just hang tight. More coming soon.

Let's see, what've we been up to? Drivers license renewal for moi (am now a gold-card mama!), trip to American consulate in Osaka for Joel's passport, Joel's polio vaccine at the city clinic yesterday with bunches of other mommies and kiddies (pediatricians don't do the polio ones), visits to friends, visits from friends, and lots of drooling (Joel because he's teething and me because I sometimes have a glance or two at foodie blogs).

PB Blues

Is it possible to hire someone whose sole job description is stirring newly opened all-natural organic peanut butter?

Su-pa- Circus

Because I had to buy quite a few things at the supermarket the other day (su-pa- in Japanese), I drove down the hill to our local hot spot. It was raining and I saw a neighborhood grandma on the way down, slowly and laboriously pulling her little luggage cart and holding an umbrella. I stopped and asked her if she wanted a ride, but of course she smiled and declined (it would probably be embarrassing to her to admit she needed help).

Anyway, I got to Kansai Su-pa- and parked, grabbed my recycling (PET bottles, styrofoam trays, and cut-open and flattened milk cartons), put everything in the proper recycling bins by the front door, and headed into the melee.

Unlike a lot of Floridians, Japanese people don't usually chat with strangers in the grocery store. It was noisy that day, though, because it was a rainy Sunday and everybody was there in family groups (and I mean everybody).

The mayhem started for me as I was getting some cashola from an ATM in the corner. I heard a sweet little voice shout "Hello!" repeatedly, and I turned around to see a friend and his four-year-old daughter. We chatted for a second and both started our shopping in the produce section.

I looked at lettuce, celery, sprouts, parsley, onions, Japanese pumpkin, potatoes, and carrots, and in each little area, Hello chan's voice followed me. Lots of people were staring as they probably thought I didn't know her, though she wanted my response every time she sang her greeting.

She "surprised" me on quite a few aisles after that, too.

For some reason one other guy and I kept playing bumper carts, though he was very kind and always let me go first (this doesn't happen with very many Japanese blokes here), and then the strangest thing happened on the cereal row.

(Yes, another post about cereal, though this time it was still in the box and therefore still crunchy, which is the way all good breakfast foods should be.)

I grabbed a box of All Bran (yep, they've got the twigs-in-a-box here, too, and yep, we like it), and a lady who'd been staring at all the boxes piped up and asked me if I really eat that stuff. How can you like it, she wanted to know. Does it go down easily for you? (Comes out easily, too, but I discreetly didn't offer that little tidbit of info to her--unlike here in this post, where I'm blabbing it to you and all your uncles.)

Bumper-Cart Man was across the aisle looking at bread, Hello-Girl was in the meat section down at the end of the row with her daddy, and All-Bran-Loathing Lady was questioning my cereal preferences as it suddenly hit me that this was no ordinary day at the store.

Grandma was heading up the hill when I was, and though I felt conflicted about it, I didn't stop this time.

I Should Know Better By Now

Never add milk to your cereal if you've got two little beans with constant bodily-functions crises.

Milk = mush.

How Is Norma?

I got this from a friend in an e-mail the other day and wanted to share it with ya:

A sweet grandmother recently telephoned St. Joseph's Hospital. She timidly asked, 'Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?'

The operator said 'I'll be glad to help, dear. What's the name and room number?'

The grandmother in her weak tremulous voice said, 'Norma Findlay, Room 302.'

The operator replied, 'Let me place you on hold while I check with her nurse.'

After a few minutes the operator returned to the phone and said, 'Oh, I have good news, her nurse just told me that Norma is doing very well.

Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back as normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged on Tuesday.'

The grandmother said, 'Thank you. That's wonderful! I was so worried!

God bless you for the good news.'

The operator replied, 'You're more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?'

The grandmother said, 'No, I'm Norma Findlay in 302, no one tells me squat.'

To Infinity and Beyond

Milton Friedman was one of the leading proponents of the free market, but even he would have to acknowledge that sometimes freedom can go too far.

I was listening to a lecture he gave sometime in 2006 just before he died, and he brought up the following premise, which I believe underlies a lot of his thinking. Simply put, this is called "Four Ways to Spend Money":

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you're doing, and you try to get the most for your money.

Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I'm not so careful about the content of the present, but I'm very careful about the cost.

Then, I can spend somebody else's money on myself. And if I spend somebody else's money on myself, then I'm sure going to have a good lunch!

Finally, I can spend somebody else's money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else's money on somebody else, I'm not concerned about how much it is, and I'm not concerned about what I get. And that's government. And that's close to 40% of our national income.
The point being that you are most careful with the former and least careful with the latter, which justifies his ideal of markets and society in general free of government control.

But I have to say that the recent Wall Street shenanigans lead me to to surmise that there are, in fact five ways to spend money. So what did the great Nobel prize-winner miss? Well, here it is - the long-lost "Fifth Way to Spend Money":
If you work in a large financial institution with little or no regulatory oversight, you can be incentivized by excessive bonuses to spend large amounts of other people's money on risky investments that you have no personal stake in, bagging millions if you get lucky, and then cutting and running to leave your cash-strapped institution with nowhere else to go but cap-in-hand to the government if it all goes wrong.
Not exactly the ringing endorsement of the free market that the great man would have wanted, but very true nonetheless.

More (!) Words

They're flowing fast now (and I don't think this list is comprehensive):

  • snow = snow
  • Where are you? = Are you?
  • dead = deh (in the case of bugs on our apartment stairway - he sees one, points and says "deh", then as we continue walking up or down the stairs, he shouts, "bye, bye, deh!")
  • milk = oolk
  • cow = cow
  • mikan = mikan (Japanese for tangerine)
  • lady = leelee (he loves his "old lady who swallowed a fly" book and CD song)
  • Matthew = Affyew
  • Japanese senbei (rice cracker) = cookie
  • playdoh = daydoh
  • soup = soup
  • Thomas (the tank engine) = Tah-uhs
  • book = book
  • raisin = raisin
  • sheep = sheep (and sometimes "sheepy")
  • penguin = neengen (which is funny because it sounds like the word for "person" in Japanese)
  • fish = fish
  • elbow = ahbow
  • pizza = pizza
  • cheese = cheese
  • cat = cat
  • heavy = heavy (he uses this a lot when he picks up big things)
  • vacuum = acuum
  • all gone = ah gone
  • all done = ah done
  • bless you (after a sneeze) = bees you
  • leaf = yeaf
  • painting = tainting
  • water = wah
  • peepo (UK version of peekaboo) = peepo
  • run = run
  • crawl = cawl
  • pen = pen
  • hat = hat
  • see = see (as in, I want to see something - usually his poo after I take his dirty diaper off)
  • woof = woof (he got this from me because I say it every time he's done a poo)
  • pink = keek
  • door = door
  • feet = feet
  • toes = toes
  • head = head (loves doing "head, shoulders, knees, and toes" with Stephen)
  • monkey = ackey
  • genkan (Japanese word for entranceway) = genkan
  • tunnel = tunnel
  • ton ton ton (pronounced like "tone" in English - it's the Japanese sounds for drumming) = ton ton ton
  • rice = rahs (it's what he asks for every meal - though he doesn't get it all the time - we think he's more Japanese than anything else)

Five Months

  • Joel is rolling over like a pro from his back to his front, but then gets stuck and gets very upset, especially in the middle of the night, and Stephen graciously goes to flip him back (if I went in and he saw me he'd want to eat, and I don't want him to get into that wee-hours-of-the-night habit again). (And since I wrote this sentence at the beginning of the month he can roll over any way he wants to, but he still gets upset at night sometimes if he rolls onto his tummy. Now he can also do multiple rolls!)
  • If I have a glass with a drink and ice, and clink it anywhere near Joel, he perks up and tries to swat my glass. That sound really grabs his attention.
  • He's got two teeth about to come in on the bottom, just about to pop through his little gums. This afternoon I rubbed some Bonjela on there for the first time and when his face registered that it provided some pain relief, his whole face relaxed and lit up - BIG smile. I think he wasn't really sure about the taste at first, but then decided he really liked it.
  • His smile lights up any room!
  • I love the way his eyes crinkle and twinkle when he grins.
  • Joel is really trying to crawl - when he rolls over onto his tummy, he sticks his little bum in the air and pushes with his legs, trying to move forward.
  • Loves to laugh with his brother, and even if Matthew gets in Joel's face and makes a sudden noise, Joel's eyebrows just go higher (if that's possible) and then he smiles.
  • Really enjoys his shower/bath time and starts kicking his legs like crazy as soon as the water touches him.
  • Still gets hiccups but not as often as before - he still seems just as annoyed by them as ever.
  • Is starting to look really interested in whatever we are eating or drinking, but I really don't want to start him on solids yet! He still nurses every 2-3 hours during the day, and he's up to a little over 8 kg (17.6 pounds) now. Getting bigger by the second...


 

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