Matthew's New Obsession

Yellow school buses! (This one was at Green Thumb Farms where we had some yummy food and fun!)

Sayonara, Colin

Goodbye, faithful friend. May your new owner get many miles of pleasure driving you.

Colin the Odyssey - June 2008 to October 30, 2009.

Lake Mendota Park


The fresh-from-Japan beans have been having a lot of fun getting to know their American cousins, Elise and Ethan...



At Madison Zoo the other day, before jet lag was over, and even the camera was feeling a little fuzzy...

Shopping Shock

Things I learned from my recent trip to the shop (aka "store"):

  • The price on the tag does not include tax. (Japan was like this a few years ago, but I had forgotten that this can be a possibility.)
  • If you are suddenly caught out in a check out line holding a bunch of flowers and looking surprised that the money in your hand will not cover them, the check out girl will start scrabbling around in the draws for left / lost change, and the person behind you may even offer to chip in some extra cash. It is very interesting to see what people will do in this situation, but at the same time you don't need to take their money and can always take said flowers back and get a different bunch.
  • When you finally get some flowers that are of a price that will actually result in you being able to generate some change, you need to remember that while the paper is hand-delivered, the shrapnel pops out of a separate little chute about 2 meters to your right. If you forget this, it is best not to look accusingly at the cashier and instead wait patiently for someone to give you an explanation as to how $1.43 suddenly turned out to be a single dollar bill.

Outside It's America

Recently Matthew has been stopping what he is doing, looking around and saying, "This is America". I guess it is finally sinking in.

He has still been using the words "Japan" and "home" in the same sentence sometimes, though....

(For extra bonus points, name the song that the title of this post quotes.)

Round the Bend

We've had no vomit in the last 36 hours.

Both boys slept through all night last night.

Seems we're turning a corner here, and though it's gray and rainy, the fall leaves seem just a little bit brighter today.


Things I'm lovin' in the USA:

  • family (don't know what we would've done without my parents, and my little sis has done a lot to help out, too, to make our transition easier)
  • big yards with spongy grass to roll around in
  • the laundry chute from my parents' second floor down to the basement
  • the basement (never had one of those in Florida!)
  • BIG kitchen!
  • clothes dryer (very helpful when you have sometimes-vomiting kids and numerous clothes and sheets changes)
  • dishwasher (hooray!)
  • big open windows with pretty views and no net curtains
  • borrowing from Mom's eyeshadow collection
  • this neighborhood that is like a nature reserve (Joel can already say "girrel" for "squirrel" - both boys are always on the prowl for the little creatures)
  • the park two blocks away that keeps the beans entertained with fall leaves and a twisty slide (I would post some piccies if I could actually take some - I dropped our camera (lens down) yesterday on a cement sidewalk and I regret to say it's not very happy anymore)
  • having an en suite bathroom in my parents' house and room to spread out all of our suitcases - luxury!
  • those amazing shopping carts at Target that can hold TWO kiddiewinks

Things I'm missin' from Japan:

  • friends
  • feeling like we had our own home (though it was a rented apartment!)
  • heated toilet seats
  • Hankyu trains
  • Meiji Black chocolate
  • Kagome "purple juice" (aka veggie/fruit juice)
  • our deep bathtub
  • the lack of jet lag
  • Kobeya bread restaurant
  • Tsumagari bakery
  • not having to choose between 5.7 million types of each product (I think when the jet lag monster has departed I will have more appreciation for this about my home culture)
  • knowing all our neighbors
  • everything being walkable and bumping into people we know all the time, wherever we go (this one contributed by Stephen and I concur)
  • detachable shower heads that make it easier for showering the kids and shower/bath combo rooms where lots of splashing is totally OK (another from Stephen)

Pics of my parents' house and surrounds to come soon (from before the camera was smashed to smithereens)...


Day 2 in Wisconsin - not sure whether we're coming, going, or what, but after only 3 hours of sleep last night and little M-Bean not feeling so well again in the night, both of the beans jet-lagged, confused, and screaming for hours, I think Stephen and I feel like doing a little screaming of our own.

Instead, we've hauled ourselves out of bed this morning, had a cuppa, checked ye olde e-mail, and are enjoying the frosty (freezing) view of the Midwestern fall from my parents' huge picture window.

All we managed to do yesterday outside was a bit of a walk around the neighborhood and a short romp in the American-sized backyard (hooray! I missed wide expanses of grass!). My sister Sharon and my niece and nephew came over yesterday evening for a visit and we (in our foggy state) had a good playtime. Looking forward to seeing them again today while my dad and the Kuiper menfolk go to a Packers game in Green Bay.

Feeling some culture shock even though I'm an American - maybe enhanced by the jet lag. I'm enjoying hanging out with my parents, staying in their lovely home, and looking forward to getting past the fog and being a "normal" person again.

An American girl, a British hubby, two baby beans with dual citizenship, the experience of living in Japan for over 8 years, staying with the parentals in Wisconsin after having grown up in Florida, and ready for another cuppa.

Grateful not to be too normal.


Well, we have finally arrived. Actually it was about 19 hours ago now, and it is 7pm in Wisconsin now. Let's just say it was a hard trip, particularly for Matthew, who had an unscheduled stop in the ER in San Fransico, which split our little group up as Abigail and M headed to the hospital, and Joel and I were left to follow. We almost were not able to get back together. but fortunately we reconnected and still got our connecting flight to Denver.

To give you the back story, poor old M-Bean had been pukey before we even left. We did get some medicine from the doc in Japan, but if did not really do the trick and let's just say that most of Matthew's clothes did not survive the trip. By the time we arrived at the SFO immigration, he was looking pretty dehydrated and so the medics were called.

He has had a hard time, but is looking a lot perkier now, playing with his little toy cars. The parents are pretty tired also, but little J-Bean seems really well and is getting onto the local time zones quicker than any of us.

I'm sure there will be more fushigi America updates to come, but for now it is over and out from Wisconsin.

Ali Sensei

Babar Ali is less than half my age, but check out what he's up to in West Bengal!

Oh, and have the tissues handy (especially if you watch Chumki Hajra's video).

Notes to Selves

On moving to America:

  • Note to Japanese self: Stop bowing to people.
  • Note to English self: Stop saying, "Sorry", when you didn't hear what the other person said. There is no need to apologize. Apparently.

Trains with My Boys

I know: I should have been working more on the move since today was a public holiday, but I couldn't resist taking the beans out for one last train ride. I know, they may well have another chance with Abigail this week, but for me it was the last opportunity. Joel and I went out this morning, and then Matthew and I were out just now while Abigail stayed home to get some things done.

The driver of the last train we rode on was really friendly and waved at Matthew a lot (when he wasn't driving). He even honked the horn for Matthew as we watched the train that had brought us back pull out of the station.

I'll miss those trips. Perhaps when the guys are older, we could ride on AmTrack across America?

Fushigi in America

I have had a bit of a battle with Blogger this afternoon, but I have finally managed to get the new header image up and displaying right.

If you have been following our blog from the beginning, you will know that we started it in 2004 as a blog about our life in Japan. Much has changed since that first message, over two thousand posts ago, and now our life in Japan is also coming to an end (for the moment?), so it seemed like a good time to get a new image for our blog.

So Fushigi News is continuing, but now it will be Fushigi in America, as you can see. As you would expect, we are still Fushigi - mysterious/weird - but now we get to try out our fushigi-ness in a strange new culture.

(And if you are reading this on Facebook, you should know that these posts are imported as notes, but you can also read them and see more on the blog itself, which is here.)

First Snow

Yes, it's true - Wisconsin had its first snow of the year TODAY. I think Matthew's dream will come to fruition sooner than we thought.

A Little Gardening

Missing a Mall

(Taken from Internet - view of the Sky Garden on the roof of our mall)

I'm going to miss Nishinomiya Gardens, the closest mall to us (built last year and very elegant). Just this morning we managed to mail some letters, get cash from an ATM, buy gifts, procure some gift bags for some other gifts, turn in my Soft Bank cell phone and cancel it (though we have to go back this evening to pay the balance because they said it would take a couple of hours to tabulate it - I never even use it!), get some cheddar cheese for future sandwiches, buy boxed juices for all of us, find a drugstore with medicated hand lotion for me, buy propolis throat drops at a health food store, and have a bakery lunch, all in one handy pit stop.

The only things we couldn't do were pay some bills and get some engine cleaner, which Joel and I did at a convenience store and Royal Home Center on the way home (after dropping Stephen and Matthew off at the dermatologist so Stephen can get the stitches out of his forehead - those two blokies will be riding the train home).

All in a morning's work. (Let's not even talk about the rest of the week! Ha!)

Joel's napping and I'm gonna take a chill-pill with Emma.

Pearly Whites

Joel's going to have to cut back on his purple juice consumption, unfortunately, as it gave him some stains on the front of his top two middle teeth.

No worries, though! Imai Sensei to the rescue! Tonight Joel and I saw the wife of the husband-wife dental team, Joel sat on my lap, she cleaned his teeth with somethin' special, Joel cried not one bit and even seemed to enjoy it (must take after his parents), she said he was very otonashii (well behaved), Joel now has white teeth to match his shirt, and that was it.

A nice bit of mother-son bonding time.

Snow and Typhoons

We're weathering the storms around here--Typhoon 18 came and went last night (with some mighty loud noises that the boys slept right through, thank goodness), and we woke up to a bit of rain, a few small branches and lots of leaves on the ground, and now it's sunny and breezy. Our friend Kaori won't be able to make it for a visit to us from the Tokyo area today because they are being hit right now, but we are glad everyone seems safe.

And a couple of weeks ago, while we wore shorts and had sunny skies, we were blasted with some snow (on the roof of our local mall).

Here's Matthew with our friend Kaname-kun (of the Itoh-family fame)...

When my mom (aka Mimi) asked Matthew the other day on Skype if he had ever seen snow, he said yes, and when she asked him if he knew where snow came from, he said it comes from the truck!

Matthew's pretty pumped about the potential (i.e. highly probable) snow in Wisconsin and wants to make a "Christmas snowman" like this one...

I think it's more likely to be a "Halloween snowman", if the current temperatures in Wisconsin are anything to go by.

The beans are gonna be in snow heaven.

Gone With the Wind? Hopefully Not!

Typhoon 18 wants to give us a wild send-off, but we would prefer to keep our memories of typhoons in Japan just that - memories. At least where we live now is not so high and exposed as when we lived in Okazaki, nor do with have such rattly windows as we did in Chiryu.

Here's hoping for a nice quiet sleep....

Giddyup, We're Homeward Bound


One of Matthew's new favorite songs - here are some of the lyrics:

Horsey, Horsey don't you stop
Just let your feet go clippity clop
Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddyup we're homeward bound.

Horsey horsey on your way
We've done the journey many a day
Your tail goes swish and the wheels go round
Giddyup we're homeward bound.

We ain't in a hustle, we ain't in a bustle
Don't go tearing up the road
We ain't in a hurry, we ain't in a flurry
And we ain't got a very heavy load

Happy Birthday, Abigail!


17 Months

(Before haircut)
  • New words (maybe only understood by us, but he uses them in context very well!): car, box, purple juice, cracker, ice cream, kiwi, bib off, bib on, got it, Oh man!, breakfast, Anpanman, moon, see, Thank you, Taggie, jaguar (as in the animal, not the car!), kitty, baby, tree, cookie, haircut, broken, lion, Gruffalo, apple, good, try again, Matthew ("Attoo"), toilet, flush, DVD ("DD"), knee, go out, Mama there (while pointing at me), do it, open it, no, CD, water, Mimi, Pop, hiding, top, fart (while laughing!), face, fall (he does that a lot), shirt, dinner, towel, Pahpah (Grandpa), feet, kitchen. And more!
  • Still enjoys sitting on the toilet (just practice so far - nothing coming out!), flushing, and washing his hands.
  • Loves to read books.
  • Had his first big haircut.
  • Got two new teeth on the bottom (big ones) and is working on some top ones.
  • Asks to ride on our backs.
  • He and Matthew are moon-gazers and always look for it, even during the day. If it's a cloudy evening they get upset that they can't see the moon. They both ask for it and if they see it in a book they get very excited. Future astronauts? Astronomers?
  • Wants to do it (everything) all by himself!


So they don't need me!

These shorts I am wearing today must be the last items I bought at Uniqlo - and that was back before the summer. And yet their profits are soaring. There must be some other Uniqlo fans out there....

I wonder where they are? One thing is for sure, I am going to have to branch out into a few more brands in the US. The only outlet they have over there is in New York. Hey, Seattle - this is right up your street! They had better open one there before we arrive. Common, Uniqlo: "Paris, Milan, New York" works, but "Tokyo, New York, Croydon" does not really have the same ring.

Perhaps I should start a petition. Perhaps you can join me? Just add your name in the comments:

"We the undersigned petition Fast Retailing (owners of the Uniqlo brand), to open their first West Coast Uniqlo store in the city of Seattle - and to open it asap"

1. Stephen Munday

Saying "Ja Ne!"

I wish I had time and energy to tell all the stories I want to, but a quick photo montage of some of our friends we've seen lately will have to do...with just a few words and a lot of love. (Maybe it's best that I don't blab too much anyway or I just might cry.)

Dinner with Chikara, Sarah, and their four lovely girls last night...

Playtime and big lunch feast with our neighbors the Fujitas and the Okumuras...

And the beautiful cosmos flowers they gave me...

Stephen's former pastor in Kanazawa, Tsujimoto sensei, and his smiley, upbeat mother-in-law whom he was visiting nearby (and under whom he studies the tea ceremony)...

Our former next-door neighbors from Okazaki, the Itoh family, came to the Kobe area recently and we had so much fun spending a day with them (you might remember their daughter, Kotone, and her beautiful summer yukata)...

Our friends the Yamadas (Minoru and Harumi) came over recently and brought their beautiful daughter, Wakasa, who is growing up so fast!

Matthew loves his friend Rei chan, and here they are with a yummy bento lunch that Rei chan's mommy, Nobue, made for us...

When I studied for my TESOL certificate in Brighton, UK, in 1998, the family I stayed with also had two other foreign students, including Masano (shown here with her husband and 2-month-old daugher, Yuiko). They live near Osaka and it's been fun to catch up with Masano again, and to hold that yummy baby girl!

Yummilicious Birfday

Stuffed to the gills and highly caffeinated after my Jolly Pasta birthday lunch, which consisted of (wait for it) carbonara pasta, pizza margherita, peach iced tea, green salad, tiramisu, and espresso.

My three blokies are treating me real good.

And before gorging ourselves on delish Italian grub, we made a pit stop at one of my favorite places in our city, the Nishinomiya Otani Memorial Art Museum, where we just happened to be exactly one week early for this flower exhibit. Too bad. (The museum was actually closed and we could see workers inside setting up for it.)

But we did enjoy walking in the beautiful Japanese-style garden behind it (Grandma and Grandpa, remember going there with us?). (Coming soon: pics of diligent men trimming pine trees one needle at a time.) The little guys talked to a really kind ojiisan (grandpa) gardener, ran around, and got bit by mosquitoes, Stephen chased after them, and I got to play with the camera a bit, listen to the bubbling water sounds, breathe in the fragrant greenness, and relax in the sun. Fun!

There's also the promise of a Tsumagari dessert for this evening.

Excited about more celebrating in America, and guys, 34 is lookin' darn good.


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