Lights Out

It was a warmish, dark, rainy day today, and I had some lamps and overhead lights on to ward off the grayness. We had some friends coming round for lunchies, and I looked at our lamp in the corner and had this odd feeling that the light bulb was going to go out, so I turned it off to "save" it for when our friends showed up.

Well, when I tried to turn it back on a bit later, it had burned out!

Fushigi.

I can relate.

A New Year's resolution I can get my head round.

Belly Laughs

If you want a good hardy-har-har, then read this.

And don't forget to have a look at this, which my sister enlightened me about. Apparently my niece has the same toy, minus the food/poop (my sister hid it so my nephew wouldn't swallow it by accident).

We're All Official

Joel got his UK passport in the mail two days ago, so yep, we're all good to go.

Oh, wait.

I can live in America, Stephen can live in the UK and other EU countries, and M and J can live in both the US and UK, plus all of the EU countries. Something seems unfair about this. Hmmmm.

Joel in the Sun

Engineer...

Rapper...

Stock-market analyst...

Groom on his wedding day...

Cute baby...

A Walk on the Wild Side

A walk this past weekend...

Airplane!

The huge amount of snow we got...


Papoose...



Friendies

Joanna and Jozel came over on Sunday evening and brought their parents along, too. It was a lot of fun and the laundry basket certainly got a workout!




Pee-pee on Toyloht

The only way Matthew will agree to go "pee-pee on toyloht" is fully diapered and clothed. We're hoping 2009 is The Year of the Potty.

It's someone's birthday...

...in March!

Matthew's still on his asking-for-presents kick, and when I tell him he'll get some presents next at his birthday, he asks, "Birthday soon?"

Let's Celebrate!

Happy (Chinese) New Year, everybody! Xin nian kuai le!

Mama's Little Helper

As I told Matthew this morning that I was going to feed Joel (as in breastfeed), he piped up and said, "Maffew feed Joel!"

Kindly meant, but...

One more thing...

You know that random list from yesterday? Well, I forgot to add one final item:

26. One of my college buddies, Heather, tagged me to make this list. I didn't just randomly come up with this just to bore you to tears. It's all Heather's fault.

25 random things about moi...

If you're on Facebook you might've already seen this, but if not, here you go:

1. Fresh apple sometimes gives me agonizing heartburn. But only since I've been pregnant. And now, eight months after Joel's birth, it still occasionally happens. And it's ouchy.
2. I used to be a major packrat before I moved overseas. Now I'm ready to give away stuff at the drop of a hat and though I'm more sentimental about stuff than Stephen is, I'm nothing like I was before in this department.
3. I've noticed that if you drink a glass of water after eating fresh pineapple, the water tastes really strange. So I drink milk.
4. I have a way better sense of smell when it comes to poopy diapers than Stephen does.
5. When I was a kid I changed my room around all the time.
6. I really like throwing a Frisbee and I think I'm pretty good at it. Catching is another matter altogether.
7. Nutella and cream cheese together float my boat.
8. I like watching Matthew and Joel play together - they're so sweet until they want the same toy and then it's police intervention time to prevent any escalation.
9. I sometimes wonder why the ambulances in Japan drive slower than the other cars on the road.
10. I also wonder what reintegration will be like for us when/if we move back to one of our home countries (US or UK).
11. I know almost zilch about what's happening on American TV these days (like, the last 7.5 years). Maybe this is a good thing.
12. I try to remember to wear my slippers into the kitchen because invariably there will be some water spots on the floor that catch my socks off guard.
13. I'm always composing blog posts in my head, and though hardly any of them actually get written down, the process is what does it for me.
14. I hate hate hate throwing away ziploc bags. It makes me cringe to think how much fuel it took to make them and get them into my kitchen.
15. Human trafficking is the cause nearest and dearest to my heart. After meeting a girl in another part of Japan who is trapped in this heinous system, it breaks my heart and I try to do all I can to stop it. Nobody should have to suffer like that.
16. I'm crunchy by necessity: I hang out our clothes to dry, I wash dishes by hand, I try to walk as much as I can and not use the car if I don't have to, I make baby food, applesauce, pickles, and almost everything from scratch. And you know what? I like most of that and think I'll continue it wherever we live in the future, no matter what the neighbors think. (OK, yes, I do miss a dishwasher, I admit.)
17. My bod is pretty wimpy when it comes to caffeine and alcohol consumption so I have to take both in major moderation. I drank too much caffeine for a while in college and started getting weird heart palpitations, so I went cold turkey. (Man, talk about headaches.) And you know what? I found out later the same thing happened to Stephen when he was at uni. We were meant to be.
18. It's been 2.5 years since we've been to the UK and 2 years since we've visited the US, so I'm missing friends and family there that we haven't seen since then. And I'm hankering after some UK bread, cheese, and chocolate, too.
19. I could happily be a vegetarian. I've never seen a chickpea or a lentil or a hunk of tofu that I didn't like.
20. I'm really into a new board game I asked for and got for my birthday: Gift Trap. Fun fun fun. I wonder if Gifts is my love language. Hmmmm.
21. I took sewing lessons one summer in my middle-school era and even made some of my own clothes, but haven't attempted it since.
22. I'm not much of a shopper. I'd rather sit outside with an ice cream cone anyday (preferably black sesame flavor).
23. I should've had patience when I was buying my post-pregnancy jeans because they're falling off me now.
24. When I'm stressed I always want to take a walk. I don't always get to, but if I had my druthers, that's what I'd do to combat whatever it is that's bugging me.
25. Amazingly both of my sons are taking a nap at the same time and that's where I'm headed right this very minute. Signing off. Over and out.

Presenting...

Our UK Mum asked yesterday if taking down the Christmas decorations (finally, hey!) has had an impact on the boys. Matthew misses the lights for sure (which is why we left everything up so long - well, OK, we big kids liked it all, too!).

The Bean also asks several times every day, still, for more presents.

Bessings

Remember Matthew used to say "dessings" instead of "blessings"? He's getting closer now!

The other day he sneezed, and after I said "bless you" he said "Bess you, Mama, Bess you, Daddy, Bess you, Joel, Bess you, Elmer Elephant [his special bowl from UK Grandma and Grandpa that he was eating out of at the time]".

He loves to bess everybody.

Our friend and neighbor, Kaori-san, has just returned from a month and a half in Brazil visiting her husband (who's there for work). She came for dinner Monday night, and to play yesterday afternoon as well, and both mornings after Matthew has woken up, looked around, and said mournfully, "Kaori gone!" He's sneezed both days as well, and poor Joel and Elmer Elephant have gotten the short shrift. Matthew's new phrase is "Bess you, Mama, Bess you, Daddy, Bess you, Kaori!"

Erina-chan Is Back

Remember our upstairs neighbors? Erina is now almost thirteen months and the boys had a lot of fun playing with her yesterday. She's a smiley cutie! Joel certainly liked her toe.



Tunneling Their Way to Fun




Before and After

January 17, 2009



January 18, 2009

I Heart My Dentists

Stephen and I visit our dentists (a husband-wife team) every three months for cleaning. We don't ask why they want us to come that often because GET THIS - we enjoy going. Yes, you read that right.

They were recommended to us when we first moved to this area and they've been our dentists ever since. (It only costs about US$20 for a visit, so it's a bargain for smooth white teeth and a bit of chill-out time.)

And because we love them so much, we recommend them to our friends and several of Stephen's coworkers now go there, too, and they recommend them to their friends. I think it's funny that the gaijin couple have started a dental trend amongst the Japanese.

Anyway, Imai Sensei (the wife) inspected and cleaned my teeth yesterday, and she's so gentle with the sharp metal tools that I actually got drowsy and almost fell asleep during the scraping. It's true.

After I paid and made our next appointments for April, I sleepily reached in my vest pocket for my car keys and immediately freaked out when they weren't there. I always put them there. I did a bit of a spaz (Shimatta! Shimatta! Dang it! I've done it, haven't I!), saying I'd locked my keys in the car, and the receptionist and both Husband and Wife Imai were starting to figure out ways to help me.

Then I had one (just one) rational thought - what about my handbag? Yappari. Wouldn't you know it. Those illusive keys were hiding in there.

I must've looked like a right plonker as I gratefully and sheepishly smiled, thanked them for their concern, apologized for the inconvenience and worry I caused them, put my shoes on at the door, and slunk out, tail between my legs, like a half-asleep frazzled mama-gaijin puppy.

Oh, the price you pay for a nice relaxing bit of teeth scraping.

The Eyes Have It

The other night Stephen said something I didn't appreciate. I don't even remember what it was, but afterward he commented to me, "You were yelling at me with your eyes." Guess I don't even have to open my mouth anymore--very convenient for keeping out flies.

Guest Blogger at Mamatouille

Someone near and dear to your hearts. Check it out.

Kobe Earthquake Remembered

If you have a few minutes, head on over to my friend Kim's blog, City on the River, and read her very detailed account of her experiences during the Kobe earthquake (January 17, 1995). I can't even tell you how moved I was -- I'll let her own words inspire you.

Happy Birthday, Mum!

Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, dear UK Mum, happy birthday to you!!!

June 2008, with the little Joel-lamb at a sheep farm on Rokko Mountain

Long Time No Post on Rei-chan

Matthew took these first two (with a wee bit of help holding the camera)...

I like the finger...






The Big Issue in Japan

I'd never seen The Big Issue ("a hand up, not a hand out") in Japan before the other day, but the man selling them said it's been here about five years. Does the US have this or just the UK?

Sock It to Me

I find that most of the laundry I do these days is Joel's socks--his new hobby is lifting his foot to his mouth (sometimes completely pulling the sock off), chewing on the sock, soaking it, and starting over with the fresh pair I put on him.

International Justice Mission Featured in The New Yorker

Read the article here.

I stand (happily) corrected!

We were just listening to the CD for the book The Snail and the Whale for the first time, and I was explaining the whale sounds.

"Matthew, that's the noise the whale makes with his voice."

His answer was much better: "Whale song!"

Transcript of Toddler-ese

OK, so I'm doing this in real-time--Matthew's supposed to be napping but he's yakking away and I'm sitting here listening to the monitor (was going to take a nap but how is this possible with all the chatter and screeching?):

"Firetruck, firetruck, vacuum, vacuum more, uh-huh, screeeeeeeeeech, screeeeeeeeeeech, Ohboy [Auntie Nobue who came to visit this morning], Rei-chan [Nobue's daughter, Matthew's age], white truck, white truck, white car, Maffew [himself], Joel's awake [Joel's actually napping], very hot [this is what I tell him when he reaches for my tea, soup, or other hot object], very hot, Mama, come out, come out, COME OUT!"

I'm thinking...

...that one should be duly prepared for upcoming events, so I'm eating some chocolate now in honor of Valentine's Day.

Care to join me? I'm an equal opportunity sharer of Meiji Black. I give half to Stephen all the time (must be true love).

Mucky Pup

Don't you love it when little kids sneeze when their mouths are full of food?

Early to bed...

Went to sleep at 8:45 last night.

I haven't done that since the third grade. (Name that film.)

M and J Picture Fix for the Grandparents


Wake-Up Call

If you ever decide to go down the salt-crystal deodorant route (instead of using the old aluminum-based stuff), make sure to use warm water in the winter when you moisten it before applying.

Who needs caffeine?

Liar Liar

Falsehoods galore. You know those pregnancy/post-pregnancy books that assure you a good haircut will "help" your hair loss?

What that good haircut means is that your carpet, your pillow, your kids, and your pet hamster will be covered with a shorter-hair-blanket.

I guess we should wait on getting a hamster, then.

Hit Me

I just realized why Matthew devours curry (it's one of the few ways I can get him to eat protein). His "nice curry" and "nice rice" attraction must come from his godfather, who grew up in Bangladesh. Why did we never think of this before?

I made kima tonight and the Bean actually allowed ground beef into his gob! Absolutely astounding.

Phew

Matthew usually says "truck" very well, but the other day surprised Stephen by saying it with an "f" instead of the "tr". He's back to the proper pronunciation now and we're all very relieved.

Just wondering...

Do you ever think about what your own particular accent sounds like in another language? I know what Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, and other accents sound like in English, but somehow I would just like to hear what my own American English accent sounds like to a Japanese person in Japan. Guess that'll never happen and I'll just have to keep wondering.

Never, ever...

...check your Google Reader if both boys actually nap at the same time and you have any hopes of getting one yourself.

Growing Like Asparagus

These boys, I'm telling you. Blink and they're each an inch taller, wearing bigger diapers, and into the next sized clothing. Matthew's got a strong and accurate throwing arm like you wouldn't believe--we play basketball with a smooshy soccer ball and the laundry basket, and he's got more athletic ability in his pinky finger than Stephen and I have put together. Joel's standing by himself for about five seconds or so if we let go, and clicking his tongue ("dolphin language" says Stephen) in reponse to our clicks (and sometimes initiating the dialogue himself). Matthew's hair is getting darker, and Joel's sometimes looks red, depending on the light. They're both such a joy and love to laugh together, which of course melts my mama-heart. It's not all rosy and they do have their moments (so do I), but I'm so grateful for these little man-cubs.

Techno Mama

As I was refilling our handsoap dispenser in the kitchen just now, Matthew asked if he could hold it. I didn't want it going everywhere, so my spontaneous answer was "No, it's downloading right now."

I wish I was that techie! I'm afraid I'm just a wannabe.

One Year in 40 Seconds

You think your life is going by quickly? See how things look from the point of view of a tree:



This video is even better in high def / full screen. Click on the video above which will take you straight to the YouTube page. Then click on the "watch in HD" link bottom right of the video window.

8 Months!

Not only was January 1 the start of 2009, but it was also the day Joel turned eight months old. Can you believe it?

  • Joel's eyes are starting to turn brown.
  • One of his new favorite games is smacking our open palms with his hands. He loves the movement and the sound (he didn't tell us this, but it sure seems like this might be the case).
  • If we prop him up standing against something, he can hold on for a while, and even balances without us or a prop for a second.
  • He loves to do standing bounces and jumps.
  • I've noticed he's started waving at people who wave at him.
  • Joel's still squealing a lot, but he's also trying out some new syllables, too, like "ba ba ba."
  • Got his two top front teeth in.
  • If we're holding him and sitting down, he doesn't stay in our arms very long because he wiggles and squirms and twists until he has gone down to the floor to stand and lean against our legs.
  • Likes to do E.T. finger with us--he holds out one index finger, we hold out one of our index fingers, and we touch fingers.
  • Started "drinking" from a sippy cup (chews on the cup more than he drinks, and lots of it goes down the front of his bib, so we're not sure how much is actually going down his throat).
  • Began eating baby senbei (rice crackers). Gets the rice goop everywhere.
  • Is really enjoying oatmeal, carrots, applesauce, and green peas. These are the only foods he's had so far (other than the senbei), but just in the last few days he's really gotten it (the whole putting the food in the mouth and swallowing it thing). We think he appears bigger than he was just yesterday. Is this possible?
  • His car seat now faces front and he really enjoys the new view (along with eating his shoes).
  • Claps.
  • Pulls himself to standing.
  • Walks if we hold on to his fingers and lead him.
  • Once he's pulled himself to standing at the sofa, if he sees a toy or a book he wants at the other end, will walk himself down there to get it, still holding on to the sofa.

Smiley boy...

Loves to pose for the camera...

"Helping" me wash the dishes in the kitchen...

Eating and smooshing his rice crackers...

New Year, New Fun

Matthew adores trains, so anytime we have an excuse to ride them we do. This morning we bundled up and headed off towards Kobe, stopping at the seventh station from our local one. Sannomiya is normally a bustling shopping district, but we didn't count on the new year holiday and the fact that there is a famous Shinto shrine there that everybody wants to visit at this time of year. Yep, it was pretty crowded, but yep, we had a good time anyway!

The boys waiting on the cold platform for the train...
We quickly wised up and went into the heated waiting room where Matthew continued his watch...
In Sannomiya, Matthew's favorite sign sent him into raptures...
We ducked into an atmospheric Indian restaurant for lunch...
And the waiter entertained Joel royally...
Matthew loves "nice curry", and our lunch definitely fit into that category. He ate quite a bit of it and the "nice rice", too, but left the garlic naan for mama...lucky me!
Millions of devotees hurrying up the hill to the shrine for their once-a-year obligatory visit...
With happy tummies the four of us started for home, with Matthew and Joel doing their usual delighting of other train passengers. Little blond gaijin kids draw attention, but these boys don't mind sharing smiles one bit.


 

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