Florida - Days 1 and 2

Harking back to November 5 when Matthew and I flew the friendly skies to Florida...

Landed in the late afternoon and I knew we were in Florida when I saw a woman hop out of her luxury SUV to meet her husband in the arrivals lane, and she was totally barefooted. It was warm and balmy and everyone was dressed casually, Florida style. Matthew and I had to peel off some layers and were so excited to see my friend Teresa and her two daughters, Ruthie and Emma. We picked up Tony (T's hubby) from work en route to Alan's home (my friend Holly's then fiance) where we had a lovely evening BBQ.

Next morning, up bright and early to renew my Florida driver's license at 8 am, then on to a bridesmaid brunch at a comfy cozy tea room.

Matthew and Ruthie...

Teresa with Ruthie and Emma...

Aunt Holly spending some QT with her godson, Maffa-Bean...

Yummy food!

The whole gang...

We managed to catch a quick nap in the afternoon and then off to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.

Days 3, 4, 5, and 6 coming soon to a Fushigi News near you...

North Freedom Train Ride

Not exactly the shinkansen (today's train only went 10 mph), but fun for the whole fam nevertheless. (Located in North Freedom, Wisconsin, at the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, if you're interested.)

Riders on the Freedom Train

Lost in Translation

You know you have not acclimatised to America yet when you watch Lost in Translation (again) and feel homesick and sympathize more with the Japanese characters than with the gaijin.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day from Stateside, folks! It's lovely to actually be in my home country for this day, though I'm feeling a bit confused as so many have already put up Christmas decorations (and I wrapped some Christmas presies last night, which has added to my holiday-daze).

We're heading to my sister's in-laws' home for the afternoon to have an early supper--sounds like it's going to be a wonderful feast. I've made homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin cheesecake, we've gotten gourmet dinner rolls from the European bakery around the corner, and the turkey, side dishes, and more desserts will be awaiting us in Waunakee.

Hopefully we'll all be able to fit in the car for the ride home.

Blessings, everyone! I'm definitely giving thanks today--we are surrounded by loved ones and our biggest Love of all.

Play It Again, Pop

Our old Panasonic camera came to grief when it collided with the pavement on a walk a few days after we got here. The latest version of the camera has some good reviews and so we decided to get one. It also has high def video built it, but it has taken me a while to realize that we can upload this to YouTube without needing to encode it in another format. So here is Pop entertaining Matthew and Joel on his guitar. Watch in full screen if you like, and you will be able to see the improvement over previous videos.

America - One Month On

Can you believe it? Neither can I! In a wacky way, Japan still seems like home and yet many moons and miles away. Matthew's still asking us every day to speak Japanese to him, and when we do, he gets a contented smile on his face, like he's coming home. He also asks to go to "Mama and Daddy's house", and when we tell him we don't have one anymore, he says we will get one soon (prophetic?). This is not to say that he's not enjoying his time at Mimi and Pop's. On the contrary, when they're at work, he's constantly asking for them, and Joel feels the same way--if he wakes up in the night, he always calls for Mimi.

We made some Korean and Japanese friends at a recent storytime trip to the Middleton library and are looking forward to visiting a playgroup they attend every Wednesday. And when Julee, the Korean mommy, found out that I like Korean food, she insisted that we come over soon and she will cook for us. Yum!

We're also frequenting a local cafe for kids called Beansprouts (we went for storytime, playtime, and snacks there just this morning), which is close enough to walk to (along with the library, a grocery store, two other yummy local cafes that I will probably blog about soon on Mamatouille, a gourmet cheese store, Starbucks, a hair salon, a dry cleaners, a German bakery called Clasens, a nature walk, and a Culver's hamburger joint). But like Bill Bryson in I'm a Stranger Here Myself, it's a bit surreal walking on American sidewalks. We're the only ones ambulating! (I do miss the close community feeling we had in Japan--every time we walked to the grocery store, the post office, the bank, or anywhere else close by, we always ran into neighbors and friends and had some good chats.)

The boys at Beansprouts Cafe

Matthew and I just returned this past week from a 6-day trip to Florida (including travel time) where I was a bridesmaid in my friend Holly's wedding. I had never been away from either son for even one night, and I thought it might be a bit hard in that respect, but Joel was totally fine without me and I was too busy and too tired to think too much about it on a deep level. I missed Stephen and Joel but was glad of the hectic schedule--Matthew and I just dropped every night into bed and sometimes Matthew fell asleep before he even got to bed, which is very unusual for him. Holly and Alan had a beautiful wedding in Tampa and we got to see other family and friends in Lakeland and Orlando as well, but of course didn't have time to see everyone we wanted to. (Florida posts and pics to come!)

We have settled back into Wisconsin life and poor Stephen is now in the wild throes of a tummy bug (my mom had it as well but not as badly). Matthew, Joel, and I seem to be doing OK (I'm extra tired and had a sore throat but am a bit better) and I'm praying we stay healthy! Poor Joel is still getting numerous teeth in and is taking it like a trouper but has his moments (like all of us!). He seems to be handling the move better than any of us (maybe because of his age), but Stephen, Matthew, and I still feel a bit dazed by it all. Every day gets a little easier--you think that because you are from a certain place and spent the first 25 years of your life there, you would just immediately settle back in, but even though I'm an American citizen and this is my home country, it's been a bit of an adjustment. After 8 years in Japan, I figured it would take some time for re-entry here, and it is. But that's OK. And none of my three boys has ever lived here before, so I'm trying to bear that in mind.

Speaking of my three bean-boys, I've got them all settled in for the night (hopefully!!!) and I think I should go settle myself in now. Blessings to all you folks out there and thanks for praying for our transition period here. We're remembering you, too, even if we haven't been in great contact recently.


Latest Maffa-Bean Quotes

  • "I'd like a cup of milk with a cow in it."
  • Telling me about his squiggle drawings on a small toy erasable board on his lap on one of the flights back from Florida: "Looks like train tracks. Actually, it's monorail tracks."
  • Here in Wisconsin the apple season is in full swing and we've bought our fair share of homemade apple cider (non-alcoholic for you Brits who were worried!), which Matthew has dubbed "apple fire."

Artist Alert

One of our new favorite ministries, New Jerusalem Missions, is a group that comforts and cares for those dying of AIDS (New Jerusalem has bases in Kansas and in South Africa).

I just found a page on their site that captured my heart and my interest, and I know many of you are poets, painters, and are creative in so many ways. If you have that special artistic bent and have some extra time and resources, then visit here and see how you can help New Jerusalem.

Very cool.

US and Japan - More Commonalities

As you may know if you have been keeping up with our news, we were told that Matthew had to have a trip to the ER shortly after landing at San Francisco from Osaka. Fortunately, he was fine, but having just received the bill, I was wondering just how overpriced this trip was. For example, how would it compare with another form of transportation - such as the Space Shuttle?

Of course, a Space Shuttle mission is a very expensive proposition. Not one that the average mortal could afford to fund. But in this case we want to compare like with like, so let's look at this on a per-kilometer basis.

Well first of all, let's check out the Space Shuttle. Apparently, NASA says the typical mission costs $450 million. The next piece of data we need is the number of kilometers traveled on such a mission. This information is harder to come by, but it seems that an average mission lasts about 10 days and the speed the Space Shuttle attains for the majority of that period is 28,000 km / h. So, we can say a normal mission is approximately 6,720,000 km. All of which means that the Space Shuttle is operated at the very reasonable cost of $66.96 per km.

However exciting you might find flashing lights (Matthew!), ambulances are not quite as spectacular as the Shuttle. They are not as big, do not use such exotic fuel, and neither do they carry such a large crew or zoom off into orbit. Their individual missions also do not tend to come with a $450 million price tag. But how does this particular ambulance launch on October 16th compare on a kilometer-by-kilometer basis with the space ship?

Well, according to Google Maps, the distance from SFO to the hospital was 11.2 km. Then the cost was $1,500 (for the ride itself), which means that the per-kilometer charge for the ambulance comes in at $133.93.

So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The Space Shuttle beats the ambulance by a long margin. Obviously, flashing lights are more expensive than I had thought.

(Fortunately, our health provider will be sorting all this out for us, so our welcome to America will not end up being a financial nightmare.)

1.5 Years!

I can't believe Joel Bean is getting so big so quickly. The Beansprout has so many new words that I just can't document them all--and yesterday he sang his first song ("Happy Birthday to you!" to Pop).

Happy 1.5 to Joel!

Pop's Birthday

Yes, a Halloween birthday! Fortunately Pop is not scary at all, and actually, had a really fun birthday today (I'll leave it to him to tell you his new numbers).

Chinese restaurant for early dinner - my favorite dish was the pork loin in black-bean sauce. Yum. And Pop got to practice his Cantonese at the Asian market next door (and I found some green tea ice cream and frozen edamame, two of my faves from Japan!).


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