Monday, June 28, 2010

My Little Book Worm

So, Miyako has my passion for books. She loves to read. She will sit in my lap for a good hour and let me read. We often read the same books over and over. She enjoys Sandra Boynton board books. In spite of memorizing some of the books, I LOVE it. I love the snuggle time with her curled in my lap and reading. The other day I heard from her room this sweet little voice going "Ruff Ruff." I looked in and she was sitting on the floor with her "Doggies" Sandra Boynton book, turning the pages, and saying "ruff ruff." I hope she keeps this love of books.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Our Bedroom

For some reason, the picture of our bedroom did not get on that post. I thought I uploaded it. Oops. Here it is.

Be Our Guest

Be Our Guest, be our guest...are you singing the song from Beauty and the Beast Yet? I guess I still have Disney on my mind. Well, this post of our current home is long overdue, but we are finally in livable, comfortable conditions and have our first overnight guests arriving as I type. Kan is on the train to Narita right now to pick them up. Miyako is napping, so I thought I would take this bit of peace and quiet to post recent pictures of our home, now that we have people coming to stay. There are still a few more purchases that need to be made - a couple of rugs, a table for the entryway so I can display pictures rather than keeping them on the bookshelf, some soft bathmats and a small kitchen rug; however, for the most part it is officially "Home Sweet Home." You can take notice of the large screen TV that was purchased in my absence, the sheets drying in the tatami room as I have yet to figure out how to hang my sheets outside without them touching the dirty floor of the balcony, and our fridge with all of the Christmas cards we received this past year. Every Japanese person who has lived in America and sees our fridge says "That looks so American" in response to all of our pictures. I remember as we packed them up last January Kan joked, "We will know who our true friends are next Christmas by those who are willing to send us a card and picture clear to Tokyo." :) I promise if you send one, we will find a place for you on our fridge. Come visit any time - just make sure to make reservations. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tokyo Disney Sea

Yesterday Miyako and I headed to the other Disney park here in Tokyo - Disney Sea! It is not like Sea World, which is what I thought when I first heard the title. It is so much better than that. I think I am turning into a Disney mom. Do I want Disney themed bedrooms? Not so much. However, do I want my kids to experience Disney World, Land or whatever is closest to us? Yes. It is a place where you truly do forget about the troubles on your heart and focus on your family, friends, and having fun. That is what we did yesterday.

I took so many pictures and am having the hardest time picking ones out to post. To see more, you can check out my facebook page, if we are friends that is. We went with a friend from church who is serving at a nearby military base with her husband who is a PCA chaplain. She has become a dear friend in a short amount of time that I have known her and I am sad they are being assigned back to the US in August. We had rich conversation yesterday, lots of laughs, ate good food, and enjoyed Miss Priss Pooh. Miyako had a blast! She sat through shows and at the end of the Broadway musical did the sign for "more." I think I have a musician on my hands. She LOVED the Mermaid Lagoon. It is an indoor area (aka - AC in hot June) for little tots her age and a bit older. They had these water fountains that shot up water at different spots. You can see from the pictures, we let her run hog wild and she got SOAKED, loving every minute of it. They also had this hill where she walked up and down, up and down...over and over. Here we are at Disney Sea, and she is most amused by running up and down a tiny little hill. She would go to the water area, but always go back to the hill. Isn't that how we are with life...we always go back to what is comfortable? Maybe because the unknown is a bit scary so we tend to stick with what we know. Who knew God could give me some lessons at Tokyo Disney Sea?

We road the merry-go-round in Aladdin's area and had the option of riding camels, horses, or the genie. We had lunch in New York City, dinner in Cape Cod, and gelato ice cream in Italy for dessert. We saw a "Mystery Island" which reminded me of the TV show "Survivor." We literally traveled the world in about 8 hours. They always have an evening show when it gets dark and it was a fire and water show - pretty spectacular.

I really do think the best part of the day, for me, was the company. Our conversation was so natural and easy...such an encouragement to me. There were two things my friend said to me throughout the day that I hope I will never forget. In discussing parenting issues and frustrations of approaching the terrible twos, and just those days when you are tired of parenting, she passed on some advice I hope to implement into my parenting life. One, when talking to your child, remind yourself "Oh, child (insert name) you are acting just like a (insert age) year old." This will remind you that your child is only, in my case, 19 months old and she is probably acting like a typical 19 month old. I cannot expect more out of her nor do I need to get frustrated when she acts age appropriate. She also said she always told her daughter "Child (insert name) it is so fun being your mom." Her daughter is in her mid-twenties and she still remembers this. More lessons learned at Tokyo Disney Sea. Today, after we sang our songs before naptime, I told Miyako it was fun to be her mom. With her head on my shoulder, her body relaxed, she gave me a little sweet sigh in response. Lessons learned. God is gracious to me to teach me these valuable things - all at Tokyo Disney Sea. With that said, I think I should go back more often. :)

Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Apron

Some of you have commented on my apron in my last post. If you are interested in one, let me know and I can point you in the right direction. My friend and former colleague started Scarlet Threads. The apron is made by women in China and the costs of the apron helps them to make fair wages and also goes to help local poverty-fighting efforts in China. They also make purses as well. Check out

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Monja World Cup

Yesterday my friend from class and I went to a free Monjayaki Cooking Class through our ward office. The area of town we live in, Tsukishima, is known for this food called Monjayaki. It is said that Monjayaki originated as a snack for children. However, Kan was told it also became popular during WWII when food and money was scarce and they needed cheaper meals to eat. It it like a pancake type food and you can put whatever you like in it. It is cooked on a special skillet, like a griddle, and eaten with these tiny little spoons/scrapers. You literally eat it off the skillet and everyone at the same table shares the meal together. Some typical ingredients included in the pancake are cabbage, shrimp or squid, dried fish flakes, seaweed...really whatever you like. From our apartment we can walk to what is called "Monja Street" where you will find tons of restaurants serving this special Tsukishima dish. People come from all over to eat this food in our neighborhood. Pretty fun.

So, I went to a class to learn how to make Monjayaki. It was sponsored by "Bulldog", a company that makes a special sauce served here in Japan. They also make packets where you can prepare Monjayaki right from your home. When the class first started, I thought it was going to be a long day as we had to watch a 15 minute video from our sponsors showing us how Bulldog is made. But once we started cooking, it turned into a lot of fun.

We were divided into groups and each group had a country assigned to it. The first Monjayaki we made was a typical Japanese kind. After cooking, we sampled! Then the "Monja World Cup" began. You were supposed to make Monjayaki specific to your country. I was assigned to the Ghana group. We added chickpeas, couscous, tomatoes and a chili type powder to our Monja to make it Ghana-like. The other countries represented were Italy, China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. After you made your country Monjayaki, you were supposed to go to the different tables and try the different kinds of dishes. At the end, everyone voted on their top two. Obviously I voted for can you not vote for your own group? I also voted for Korea - I liked the spicy Monjayaki. Third place went to Italy, second place went to Japan, and first place went to Mexico. I was a bit surprised. I was not too crazy about the Mexican Monjayaki as I typically do not eat hot avocado, but they took home the grand prize. As we walked out, we received a packet of Bulldog Monjayaki to take home and fix on our own. I think I will try it with our friends who come visit next week as it appears to be much easier to cook it at home than eat it at a small restaurant in front of a very hot table (they cook it at your table in the restaurants) with two toddlers!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Our First Visitor

Today we had our first visitor from the US for a grand total of 2 hours! Our friend from our home church was flying through Tokyo on his way back to the US. He had a 5 hour lay over and took the train in from Narita to hang out with us a bit. We met him at Tokyo station and walked to the Imperial Palace. We thought we would walk around but unfortunately it is closed on Mondays and Fridays. Oh well. We then took a cab to Shibuya. Shibuya is known for the big intersection you see on travel channel shows about Japan with what feels like millions of people crossing in all directions at one time. We enjoyed a Baskin Robbins ice cream cone, walked around a bit, and before you knew it, it was time for our friend to catch the Narita Express back to the airport so he would not miss his flight. I do not think his wife at home with three children would be very happy with us if he had missed his flight! It was fun to see a familiar face, even if only for two hours.

We had a pretty scary adventure in our cab ride from the Imperial Palace to Shibuya. Miyako was getting a bit hot in the car so Kan asked the driver to turn the air up a bit for us. The driver realized we were in a bit of a hurry so he decided to take it upon himself to FLY through the lanes of traffic, cutting a very angry man off in the process. At the stop light, the man our cabbie cut off got out of his car, came to the driver side of the cab, and started yelling at our cab driver. He even reached in the cab and turned the car off. In the six months I have been here, I have never once felt a bit scared or nervous, even in the largest city in the world. Today I was a bit nervous. I thought the man was going to take the cab drivers' keys and we were going to be sitting there in the middle of the road. They yelled at each other (I have never seen Japanese people yell) and then went on their way. Our cab driver was driving way too fast. Kan retrieved his name and plans to make a complaint with the company. Never a dull moment huh? We just wanted to give our friend a different experience. Thankfully Miyako handled it just fine as I held on to her for dear life. I was glad to be in the car with both Kan and our friend, thankful that I was not by myself. It just is so uncharacteristic of Japan so it really caught me by surprise.

We did take some pictures today with our first visitor, but they are on Kan's phone. I forgot my camera. :(

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pasta with Fresh Clams and Pesto

This past Sunday my dear friend from class went "clamming." She asked to borrow a bucket for her adventures. Little did I know she would return the bucket with some fresh clams. I have never cooked clams before but she told me how (via google) and the result was a wonderful dinner. I steamed the clams in a little bit of water and olive oil with garlic for about 10 minutes as the pasta cooked. Once the clams were finished I took them out and added them to the cooked pasta and put some zucchini in the leftover clam broth to cook. I added the cooked zucchini to the pasta with some pesto and there is our dinner! I forgot to take a picture but it was mighty tasty. Miyako even ate one little clam! I sometimes feel like I cook the same things so it was nice to do something a little different...add some spice to our lives.

I thought I would take this time to give a little Miyako update. She is getting so big and starting to talk a bit more...not much, but a little bit. She will open and close her bedroom door and say "hi" and "bye" to you. She knows all animal sounds and loves pointing to the "ruff ruff" (dogs) and "bu" (bus) as we take walks. There are plenty of ruff ruffs and bu to point at here in Tokyo. The other day she went up to her alphabet magnets on the fridge, pointed to the letter "Y" and said "Y." We made a huge step tonight and she actually sat and played in the bath tub. In Japan we have a separate shower area from the deep deep bath tub. Because Miyako has never really sat and played with her toys in the bath, I have been washing her in the shower area and just letting her stand. Tonight I tried putting her in the tub and after about 20 minutes of standing in it while I bathed her, she finally sat down and splashed a bit and played. It was very cute.

The rainy season is upon us here in Tokyo. It seems to rain one day for a long time and then the next day be stifling hot and humid. Can we say "frizz hair" is the new style I am trying to support? I think my hair will be pulled back every day from here until October. So not worth the effort to dry it only for it to frizz by 9AM. Well, a bit of a boring blog, but I was excited about my dinner so I thought I would share. Here is to my friend and her clamming adventures. It was nice to partake in the clams without having to get up at 6AM to actually retrieve them from the ocean!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Imperial Palace/Hibiya Park

Yesterday Kan met a buddy to go running around the Imperial Palace. Miyako and I decided to tag along and walk around the area. I was excited to learn this running path is not too far from us, only four stops by train. Our buddy said it is 3.2 miles around and I thought it would be a great place for an early morning run for myself one day. Unfortunately they were meeting to run as the Imperial Palace was closing, so Miyako and I did not get to go in. I did get some fun shots outside of it. It is beautiful and I look forward to exploring inside at another time and checking out their gardens. I heard it is beautiful. Miyako and I explored the area and heard live reggae music. We followed it and found ourselves in Hibiya park. It felt a little bit like the Japanese version of a Reggae Woodstock, but we did enjoy a snow cone, found some swings, and heard the live music from afar. It was a really cool park with lots of shade which is nice on these hot summer days in Tokyo. I did not realize so many Japanese people were into reggae. The bands sounded like native English speakers, so it was fun to listen from the distance.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grapes and Rain Boots

So, the following pictures detail two is a picture of grapes. Grapes you ask? Why on earth would you take a picture of grapes? Well, the grapes here are delicious. Better than any other grapes I have tasted. I do not know what it is because they are very small and very expensive. I paid a little over four dollars for these grapes and this was at a discounted price so that is why I bought them. Normally I see them for a little over five dollars. But they taste like candy. Not kidding. So, I love the grapes here in Japan. I wonder if I would feel the same way about a $10 watermelon. Right now, I am not willing to try it.

We are getting ready to enter the rainy season here in Tokyo and I needed some rain boots. Unfortunately my feet are "larger" than the average Japanese woman's...for that matter they are probably larger than the average Japanese man's foot. My feet are not huge people. I wear a size 8.5 US, which is a bit big, but not mammoth size. Anyways, I could not find rain boots here in my size or if I did they just were not cute. I wanted some cute fun rain boots. My mom found these from Target and sent them to me. Very cute! And Miyako thinks so too. She had trouble at first getting into them but when I helped her she was loving the rain boots! So cute. So fun. Enjoy Pebbles in her polka dot rain boots.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My Favorite Things

So, when your hubby is putting in those long Japanese work hours, you need to remind yourself of your "Favorite Things." I decided occasionally to do a "My Favorite Things" post to remind myself of all the blessings in my life. Here are a couple of pictures of "My Favorite Things"...the roses in bloom at Yoyogi Park on Friday afternoon, a sweet little girl in pigtails with her new "ruff ruff" from Ikea, and a walk along the water this morning with a good friend and a great view of our building. Sigh, life is good and our family is truly blessed. I feel better now, but still wish my hubby would get home soon. I know he does too.