Stephen's definitely been approved for his visa/green card for America and he's on his way home right now from Tokyo.

Watch this space for more details of when exactly we'll be moving to the States...we'll let you know when we know. The embassy has his passport and will mail it back to us here with his visa in about a week, and he'll get his green card sent to my parents' address in the US a bit later.


Well, since it's the big election day in Japan today I thought I'd give a nod to it: Here's a photo of a campaigning dude we saw from the window of Denny's the other day (so please pardon the etchings on the window interfering with the view of the politician). They stand on the back of their trucks with loudspeakers, driving around town shouting their views and waving with their white-gloved hands.

We're in the middle of watching a famous Japanese political documentary DVD called "Senkyo" ("Campaign"), and it's very telling.

But I'm not telling.

(Watch here if you'd like to see a trailer of it with English subtitles, though the DVD we've rented is only in Japanese. The crazy thing about the documentary is that it seems so normal to us now!)


If I was into tweeting I'd have just sent out a message about my man leaving for Tokyo (but lots of you folks would never have known then 'cause you're not into it either). We just left Stephen at the train station (and I gave him lots of kisses even though I'll see him again tomorrow night). He's headed for our friend Andy's place in Yokohama for the night and then will be arriving at the embassy tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. Good thing Andy's is only 45 minutes from Tokyo station (a wee bit closer than Nishinomiya, by about a few hundred km).

Oh, just got a call from the Biggest Bean himself saying he just missed the shinkansen he originally wanted, but will only be 20 minutes later than planned arriving in Yokohama.

I love Stephen's voice. Makes my heart go doki-doki (pitter-patter, thump-thump).

Voice (and with it, hubby), come back soon!



P.S. Andy, don't worry--he's bringing brownies. Matthew helped make them last night and they're pretty darn tasty (which is why after packing some up for you and Stephen, I took almost all of the rest of them over to the neighbors)! He beat the eggs, and after I melted the chocolate and butter he stirred in the flour, salt, sugar, eggs, walnuts, and vanilla. Good Bean!

P.P.S. Good thing I don't tweet--this is definitely more than 140 characters and think how much you, our faithful readers, would've missed out on.

P.P.P.S. I've got nothing against you amazing tweeters out there; I just think I'm a bit too verbose to go down that road.

P.P.P.P.S. Tell the copyeditor inside me to STOP IT! I just republished this post because I had accidentally typed the letter "o" in the "140 characters" instead of the number zero up there in the P.P.S.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Methinks 'tis time for a nap.

My Little Helpers

Here they are--the beans having a blast "helping" Mama pack boxes...


Our new nephew, Callum. I just want to reach out through cyberspace and give him lots of auntie kisses!

Kansai Su-pa- Playzone

I can't believe our kiddiewinks are only 3 and 1 and are already driving...

Here's proof--right in front of our local grocery store!

Out of the mouths of beans...

I just came out of the loo to hear Matthew saying (with gusto), "Good job peeing!"

And apparently I have "big elbows". Who knew? I'd never really given that one much thought. (Ever had your elbow bone pinged? Kinda kimoi - weird-feeling.)

Off to savor some Baskin Robbins with the little guys - yep, they have it in Japan, too! Hot summer day - 31 Flavors, here we come.

And I think I need some iced coffee to wash it down and wake up. It's 10 am - I've been up almost 4 hours and I'm still not quite there yet...

3 Cups of Tea and Food for Thought

I am enjoying reading Three Cups of Tea that Jon from work lent to me. It is a very interesting and inspiring factual account of climber Greg Mortenson, who gets involved in building schools in Northern Pakistan almost by accident after being cared for in a remote village after a climbing accident.

Anyway, I won't spoil the story for those who wished to read it. I just wanted to share an interesting quote I read today:

"In times of war, you often hear the leaders - Christian, Jewish, and Muslim - saying 'God is on our side.' But that isn't true,. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows and orphans."

Rokko Island Watering Hole

More from the obon holiday week (sorry for the smeared lens in the last 3 photos - must've been a little bean fingerprint)...

Cable Cars and Sanyo Trains

Hearkening back to the obon week for this post - we got to ride a new kind of train (Sanyo - on the other side of Kobe) when we visited Sumaura Koen (literally, The Park at the Back of Suma). Keep scrolling down the post, because we also were privileged to hop on some cable cars as well!

Going up the mountain...


From the top of the mountain, we could see the bridge crossing over to Awaji Island.

The restaurant at the top had a rotating floor, and not only was that a load of fun, but Matthew made a new friend as well!

Coming back down in the cable car...

Mama laid a...

...jokester (egg) named Matthew! This morning as we were having breakfast, he looked at the jar of orange marmalade on the table (and I could see the wheels turning as he got a glint in his eye).

He then turned to me and said excitedly, "MAMAlade!"

Hello and Help!

If you don't read Mamatouille, now's the time to start...

I need your suggestions on a wee little (good) problem we have!

Rockin' and Rollin'


Tomatoes (and Red Spider Mites and Mushrooms)

My tomatoes were edible at last...

They were pretty tasty (but had tough skins - everybody I've talked to who grows their own tomatoes tell me they have the same problem - they're nice sliced and baked on pizza)...

But alas, red spider mites gained the upper hand...first on one plant, and then on the other two as well.

In the meantime, probably because of all the extra rain we're having this year, some lovely shrooms popped up! (Don't worry, we didn't eat those - or the red spider mites, either, for that matter.)

Hanshin Train Video No. 3


Hanshin Train Video No. 2


Hanshin Train Video No. 1


For Cousin Ethan - Hanshin Trains in Nishinomiya

We've got three train lines running through our town of Nishinomiya - Hankyu, JR (Japan Rail), and Hanshin. I usually take the little beans for rides on the Hankyu trains because Koyoen station (the end of a Hankyu spur line) is our closest station, but now that Stephen's off this week for the Japanese obon holiday, we're spreading our wings and trying all three lines (just for kicks).

Saturday we took some Hanshin trains to nowhere in particular, just towards Kobe, and then got off at a random station and came back to have lunch in the station where we started (Hanshin Nishinomiya station).

Cousin Ethan, these pictures are for you! We wish you could visit and ride with us! (Click on any of the photos for a larger view.)



Matthew and Joel learned how to "Bing!" from Uncle Chuck and are carrying on the tradition even though he's gone back to Kyushu.

Chuck and Julie

We had a great week last week with Uncle Chuck and Auntie Julie, good friends of ours from when we first moved to Japan in 2001. They came to visit us from Kyushu and the little beans love them to bits (the parentals do, too!).


Fresh Out of the Oven

I'm sure you are thinking this must be some sort of cooking post that would normally be found on Mamatouille, but this little bun is of the human variety, and he popped out August 2nd over there in old Blighty. So we have a new little nephew! The first one on the Munday side. Congratulations to all!

15 Months

  • Joel is a salad kid: Give him cucumbers, black olives, and tomatoes, and he's happy as Larry!
  • New words: Daddy (Dadda), ba-ba (cup - though he's never had a bottle so I don't know where he got this term), "Hi, Mama!", Hello! (hewoh), airplane (ahpuh), Abba (he and Matthew pray together and say Abba), Uh-oh (uh-uh), bus (buh), air bed (ah beh), dirty (duht), flowers (fowz), poo (poo), bib (bib), shower (show), Nnnnn (yes in Japanese - he also adds a Japanese-style head nod), all gone (ah gah), tickle (cheekah), elephant (elfoo), juice (joo), a car (a cah), and so many more - I can't remember all!
  • Love to reach high and climb up to get things - it's amazing what this little guy can get to.
  • Sits on the toilet and gets upset if I take him off.
  • Gives really sweet kisses to everybody.

Joel doing a fake sneeze session!



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