Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween

And Happy Anniversary Nana and Opah. Today we helped celebrate Nana and Opah's anniversary by going to our local mall at Toyosu and letting Miyako participate in the Halloween parade. She put her little bee hat on for about 90 seconds. We thought the parade would be outside but instead it was indoors. Kan and I walked Miyako halfway through the parade and then jumped line and took her on a train ride. They had kid size musical instruments in the train ride which she loved. After our adventure at Toyosu we quickly went home, grabbed a sandwich and headed to church. On our way home from church Miyako started singing what sounded like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." This is not unusual as she loves to sing. However, the words sounded a bit different. She said, "Kira kira hikaru." Well, we have a book that plays night time songs to her and they are written in Japanese. The one song I can read/sing pretty well is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" which is translated as "Kira kira hikaru." Kan and I were both pretty impressed. Another song she started singing this week is "Holy, Holy, Holy." We sing it at bedtime and she will say "More holy holy." I guess she likes it and started singing it this week. I love her sweet little voice.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rose Festival

Nana and Opah arrived on Wednesday. It is so nice having more family here to visit. Yesterday it was raining and cold so we simply stayed inside and hung out. Today though the weather was dry, still a bit chilly, but nice enough to be outside. Kan and I had seen an advertisement for a Rose Festival at Kyu-Furukawa Gardens and thought this would be something Nana and Opah would enjoy. So we packed some sandwiches and ventured out to this area of the city we had never been to before. The gardens were beautiful. There was an old historical western home on the property, but in order to go in you had to submit a request in writing beforehand. Needless to say we did not do this so we did not get to go in the house. We expected a Rose Festival meant TONS of roses, but they basically had a rose garden. But it was still fun and pretty. Miyako enjoyed walking across the bridges and looking at the large goldfish, carp and turtles. She really hated when we required her to hold our hand but the bridge was open on the sides. I really did not want to go swimming with the fish to get her. She was also a hit with the other guests playing with her Anpanman ball. Everyone would walk by and say, "kawaii" which means cute in Japanese. We did not argue with them. :)

From there we ventured to Tokyo Tower. Back in 1959 Opah came to Japan for a summer on a mission trip. While in Tokyo briefly, he stayed at a little Episcopal church near Tokyo tower and wanted to see if it was still there. Sure enough it was. We were able to go inside and he met the secretary and priest of the church. He enjoyed re-living memories from 1959. It was an English speaking church and the priest was from America.

We did not go up in Tokyo Tower. We just walked around it looking for the church. However, I did stumble across a HUGE Christmas tree being put up in front of Tokyo Tower. We joked that they are decorating before Americans.

For dinner, we took them to have monja-yaki. If you read this blog consistently, you have seen plenty of posts about this type of food. We take all of our visitors there to try it.

We are all pretty tired from being outside most of the day. Plus Nana and Opah have jet lag and Kan and I have "sympathy" jet lag. The rain is coming tomorrow so we are not sure what we will do. Right now, all I can think about is going to bed and enjoying some of those p-nut m and m's Opah put in a bowl on the kitchen table.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


So, I enjoy Starbuck's. I admit - I think McD's and Dunkin' Donuts has great black regular coffee, but when I want that flavor, I go to Starbuck's. In the US, I did not drive thru every day. It was considered a treat, but when the fall seasonal flavors came around I often found myself getting treats more frequently as I LOVE the pumpkin spiced latte. And then after pumpkin spice you had Christmas flavors - gingerbread latte, eggnog latte, and peppermint mocha. Yum.

When we moved to Japan I quickly noticed the seasonal flavors are not quite the same as the US. They serve lots of green tea flavors at Starbuck's and right now they have a creme brulee latte. Back in April, they had a sakura (cherry blossom) flavor. I thought I would try it and was deeply disappointed. Definitely not my favorite but I drank it anyways because I paid an obscene amount of money for a flavored treat.

Well tonight I had community group with church and we met at Starbuck's. I saw the Christmas flavor advertisements that start next week and I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. I was so excited!! They are going to have gingerbread latte, nutty white mocha, and caramel eclair latte. I am very very excited. There is still no pumpkin spice latte, but that is okay. I think these three tasty treats will make up for it. Oh, and to top if off, I can make my own peppermint mocha coffee at home as my MIL brought me some Coffeemate Creamer that is peppermint mocha flavor. Yum. And it will not cost me as much my Starbuck's run.

It is the little things God gives me that brightens my day. And today it was cold and rainy so this news made me look forward to some yummy warm treats on these nasty days.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Party

Miyako and I had a big day today! First we went to her doctor's appointment for a 2 year check up. She is doing remarkably well. She is 82.5 cm. tall (32.4 inches) and 12.8 kilos (28 pounds). She is growing up so much. It is hard to believe she will be 2 next week!

The highlight of our day though was the Halloween Party we went to this afternoon! We are in a play group on Thursday afternoons with moms that live near us. A lady from this group organized a Halloween party today. Miyako dressed up as a bumble bee. She did not want to keep her hat on, but she still looked like a sweet little bee! We ate yummy snacks and made four different crafts. You should have seen me at the origami craft table...I did not do so good with that. The comforting thing was the Japanese mom next to me said she did not know how to do it either. :) The origami craft was actually pretty cool as it became a magnet for our fridge. We also made a balloon ghost, a cat mask, and a bat puppet. Our friend from church and her daughter also joined us. We will be out of town on the actual Halloween day so I am glad we got to dress Miyako up and do a fun little party today.

Kan's American parents arrive on Wednesday. We will have lots of blog posts of activities with them. We are looking forward to having more family here to visit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Update on Prego Lady in the Far East

Well, thank you friends and family for so many well wishes regarding the newest addition to our family. I have had lots of questions from all of you so I thought I would give you an update as to how I am doing. I am feeling great. Like Miyako, I have not had any morning sickness. My only complaint is being tired, but I was tired a lot before I got pregnant, so not much has changed. I just take more naps now since I have an excuse to let the projects sit on the sidelines. We are very excited about this newest addition.

I think the coolest part for Kan and I has been watching Miyako's reaction. She will point at my tummy and go "baby." The other day I was changing her diaper and she started kicking my belly and saying "baby." I tried to explain we do not kick the baby! She loves her baby dolls right now. She wants to put diapers on them, use wipes, feed them, put socks on them, let them swing with her or she push them in the swing - anything she does she wants to do to the baby. I hope once her new little brother or sister makes his or her entrance to the world, she will understand she cannot just let the "baby" fall off the swing and say "baby fall down" like she does with her baby doll.

I have a huge heart for Pregnancy Centers. I spent lots of time volunteering at the local one in Lexington as a student. If I were still involved in a pregnancy center, I would have a great commercial for them! In Japan, you get ultrasounds at every doctor appointment and they put them on a DVD. After our first appointment we brought it home to show Miyako. When she saw the 8 week old baby she said, "baby." An almost two year old knew the 8 week old fetus is a baby. If that does not touch your heart, I do not know what will. It was amazing. She will often see the DVD on our desk and ask to see the baby. She will take the DVD to the DVD player, open the DVD player and put in the disc. The other day she did this and I pushed play. She said, "baby." After about 30 seconds she said, "baby bye bye" and left the room. Oh least she wanted to see him or her briefly. It will be fun to show her the ultrasounds and let her see the baby get bigger while mama gets bigger too.

Again, thank you for all of the notes and encouragement. We really do appreciate it and love that people are so excited for us. Thanks again. We will keep you updated via the blog on how everything is going.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Family Email

We like to send out emails to our friends and family to let them know what is going on in our lives. I thought I would post it on the blog for those who we may not have sent the email to and just read the blog. You will get a glimpse into my husband's fabulous sense of humor as he is the one who comes up with the emails for Christmas letters. I simply proof read them for his grammar mistakes, leaving a few in there for his friends and family to use to make fun of him with. Enjoy.

Konichiwa friends and family,
I hope all is well with you all and sorry we are sending this impersonal mass e-mail rather than write a note specifically to you. We just thought it’s been 7 months since we left the states and it would be a good time to send you a mile marker report. Well, we are making it somehow; but last month was very tough for us. We simply missed our family, friends, and the way of things in the U.S. Here are the top 10 things we can say we missed beside you guys:

10) Large size drinks : Okay, so everything is small and efficient here but for crying out loud, when I am thirsty, I am thirsty… a 5 ounce cup just doesn’t do the justice.
9) Grass : not to smoke, but Tokyo is just one big concrete / asphalt jungle; we miss the green space in the south.
8) Car : It would be crazy to own a car in Tokyo. Constant traffic jams, no parking spaces, and they drive on the left side of the road and the driver side is on the right.
7) Backyard Grill : Well, nobody really has a back yard here and they don’t allow grills on the small patio we have on our apartment. Since there is no Wal-mart or Sears, we wouldn’t know where to buy our grill set anyway.
6) Enchilada : Plain and simple, we miss American version of Mexican food.
5) Kroger : Some would say, oh Americans are so wasteful and sinful for having so much selections and amount of food at our grocery store.. well, you don’t hear that from us.
4) Diet Coke : I guess Japanese don’t have much reason to drink diet coke.. besides Kan.
3) Gym : $1000USD for annual membership and $200 for initial joining fee… hmmmm… and all they have are 5 treadmills and a few weights? You got to be kidding me… you get more exercise getting to the gym since it’s a 30 min walking distance.
2) Saturday / Sunday afternoon Football : what can we way.. we came to the country where football means soccer… don’t get me wrong, I love soccer but I was taught Saturday and Sunday afternoons are for American football.
1) Summer Vacation : so we had a fancy summer vacation in small exotic Asian island this year for the first time, but there is nothing like family vacation where you eat junk food until 2:00am or later, play games, and go through the drama of getting mad at each other for silly things until the next family event… hey… we miss it.

But there are many things we have gained and we like… give us a few more months and we can share our top 10 through our Christmas letter, but one thing we are looking forward to is our made in Japan child!
Yes sir and ma’am, we are expecting! It will be an adventure going through pregnancy in Tokyo, but we’ve found a doctor who speaks English, and came with high regards so we are in good hands.
Miyako already got to see her sibling through the ultrasound and knew it was a “baby.” The next Kawashima should be here sometime in late April or early May of 2011.

Well, this is our latest news, but how are things with you? We would love to know, so please share with us when you have a few seconds.

In Him,
Kan, Shari and Miyako

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I dedicate this post to my friend Deb for the recipe I used, and tweeked a bit to meet my lack of spices here in Japan. I also dedicate it to my friend who lives Down Under, Leanne, who encouraged me to use real pumpkin and not get scared because I did not have canned pumpkin. And finally, this is dedicated to two friends, one in Ashville and one in Tokyo, who told me how to roast a pumpkin.

I love to bake, and especially during the holiday season. It starts with pumpkin chocolate chip muffins for the month of October and November. In the US, I would enjoy my pumpkin muffin with a pumpkin spiced latte from Starbuck's, but the Starbuck's here does not market the pumpkin spice flavor. Such a tragedy. Anyways, the problem I had was the recipe I was using called for canned pumpkin, which I could not find at my local Japanese supermarket. So with a little bit of research and asking around, I decided to venture out and roast my own pumpkin. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the pumpkin before I "worked" on it, but I think we all know what a pumpkin looks like. The Japanese pumpkin I used to cook with was small and green and is actually quite sweet.

I began my process on a Friday morning by roasting my pumpkin in the oven. I did it slowly at a low temperature and let it cool throughout the day. I came home, gutted the pumpkin, took out the seeds and pureed the soft parts in the blender. The next morning, I took my pureed pumpkin and with the help of my All-purpose flour from the US, made fabulous pumpkin chocolate chip muffins. As you can see from Miyako's expression she really enjoyed them. Pumpkins are fairly inexpensive compared to other vegetables, and I really enjoyed the process of using the whole pumpkin rather than just the can. Now, do not get me wrong - when I get my gift of canned pumpkin to help make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, I will use them. But I am not afraid to cook without the canned pumpkin. I will have to compare the muffins and see which ones taste better - the ones with canned pumpkin or my homemade pumpkin.

My next step on the pumpkin cooking ladder - I would like to make a pumpkin based warm soup. If anyone knows of a good recipe please let me know or send me a link.

Kan left for Seoul today. He has a busy couple of weeks - Seoul this week and Taiwan next week. Then his American parents come to visit! So we will have more parents around which we are looking forward to. We are blessed that both sets of American parents are getting to visit our new home this year.

Miyako is doing well, although asserting her independence more and more. I told Kan when she is 15 I will wish she is doing what she is doing at age 2, but right now it can be a bit trying. At the same time, she can be the sweetest little girl. Tonight we were singing, "The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me..." and after I sang it one time, she said, "More Bible" and did the little sign for "more." So sweet. My prayer is that at age 30 she will still want "more Bible" and cling to His Word for strength and wisdom. I think we sang the song about 30 times tonight.

More to come...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Highs and Lows from Football to Terrible Two's

Some of you may think I am super blog happy these days with all of the posts about my folks visit, and you must think I have tons of time on my hands to blog. I use the blog as a journal of sorts since I do not do that anymore, and I find it an easy way for me to record and remember things. Plus, even though Miyako has not been sleeping during nap time the past few days, she still has to stay in her bed for two hours, so I can take a few minutes and update the blog. Something happened yesterday that I definitely wanted to remember.

After dropping my parents off we came home and put Miyako down for a "nap" and turned on the UT/LSU game. I do not think I am ruining the game for anyone based on all of the posts on facebook from my UT friends after the game! Words cannot describe how quickly you can reach an emotional high and just as quickly be at the pit of despair when you see that little yellow flag come out on the field. For crying out loud, all UT had to do was keep their players on the field, not substitute, and they would have won the game. But as Kan says, "Well, let's move on. Next week!" But it was a heart-breaker.

We got to experience those same highs and lows with Miyako last night, and Kan and I both saw how quickly the Terrible Twos are approaching us and how inadequate we are on our own to parent this precious gift from God. After dinner, Miyako found Kan's I-phone and unlocked it. Kan put on his I-tunes and we had this big dance party in our small living room. Miyako enjoyed spinning in circles, getting dizzy and then falling on her rump. Then she played this game where I opened my arms and she would run into them, I would hug her and go into tickle time. Kan, in spite of being sick on the couch, was enjoying the show and giggles. Miyako enjoyed The Jackson 5, Indigo Girls, and Black Eyed Peas. Call us heathens but I love me some Black Eyes Peas...I gotta you get the point that we were having a lot of fun, an emotional family high. I was having so much fun I did not want to get up to film the fun or take pictures because I was afraid she would stop and be more interested in the cameras.

Play time was over and it was time to pick up toys. I asked her to help me pick up and she said "Mama" meaning Mama needs to do it. I usually pick up a lot of the toys and give her just a few to do simply because I want to get it done quickly. All she had to do was pick up her blankets that the babies used to go night night with during the day. Well, she refused and by refused she stood by the blankets with Kan telling her to pick them up for a hour. I left the room so he could deal with her and she simply wailed "mama" and refused to pick them up. After a hour she finally picked it up and brought it to me in her room, very reluctantly. She is one strong-willed child and she had a pretty long contest with her dada last night.

Just like the football game, we went from an emotional high to a big pit as we realized just how hard this job of parenting is. As I sat in her room and listened to Kan patiently work with her for a hour, I was reminded that God disciplines his children because he loves us. As Kan disciplined her during this hour of her drama and "torture", I knew it was hard on him, but he handled it well. As she finally walked in with the blankets, you could see she was so sad. She knew she had done something wrong, had not obeyed or listened, and her little lips were quivering. After we put all the blankets away Kan picked her up and reminded her he loved her very much and wants what is best for her. We skipped bath time and put her straight to bed as it was already past 8. But God used this experience to remind me of so many truths - the love He has for us as His children, His good purposes in disciplining us, and our desperate need for Him as we try to impart these same truths to Miyako.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saying Goodbye

Today we said goodbye to Grandma and Papaw. We took Miyako to a park this morning by their hotel and the time passed too quickly. Before we knew it, it was 11:30, time for them to catch the bus that takes them to Narita airport and from there the 13 hour flight back to Detroit. It was hard saying goodbye, especially when you do not know when you will see each other again. But as we walked away, I was so grateful for a fabulous 9 days with them. I felt so blessed that both my mom and dad were willing to come visit. I knew my mom would come, but I really never expected my dad to travel all that way to see us. I do not think he will ever know how much that meant to me because I know it was really really hard on him.

I loved showing them our home and helping them to see we are doing well here and happy here. I think it helped them as well to see where we are. Now they can picture us at the park or fish market or the mall next door. I will be interested to find out how they processed Japan once they get home. It can be quite overwhelming as it is such a radically different culture and place from the US. I look forward to hearing their thoughts once they have been back home for a few weeks and adjusted back.

Goodbyes are never easy, but it is part of life. My immediate family is in Tokyo now. This is where we live. As my parents got on that bus, I was sad they had to leave, but had a peace from above knowing Kan and I are exactly where we need to be right now. I am thankful for that peace that comes even in difficult situations. We came home, ate lunch, put Miyako down for a nap and started watching the UT/LSU game. Back to normal...

Meiji Shrine, Harajuku and Omotesando

Today it was another beautiful day here in Tokyo. I am glad the weather cleared towards the end of the week and my parents got to see the pretty side of Tokyo. I remember last year when we were here in October (cannot believe a year ago I was getting on a plane for four weeks to Tokyo and now I am living here) I was wearing flip flops still at the end of the month, loving the warmer fall temperatures.

I think I gave my dad a dose of people overload today. We went to Meiji Shrine. As you can see from the pictures, Miyako mostly enjoyed pushing her stroller around in the shrine. Oh well. We did see a wedding party which was pretty cool. From Meiji Shrine, we walked down Harajuku street where my parents got to see some people dressed up in funky costumes and experience the crowds. Once through Harajuku, my dad found a coffee shop in Omotesando where he ordered by himself a p-nut roasted sandwich. He thought something was wrong when it took like 25 minutes to bring his sandwich, considering he basically ordered a pb&j, but he got it nonetheless. While he enjoyed his snack and people watching, my mom and I did some shopping for people back home. I am saving on shipping for my side of the family by sending home Christmas gifts with my parents. I am ahead of the holiday game this year huh?

While Miyako pretended to nap (she basically talked to herself in her crib for two hours) my dad and Kan watched some taped football, I read a book, and my mom enjoyed the autumn festival at the mall next door to our house. One thing I love about Japan is all of the festivals and there seems to be one next door to us for each season. There was a band, lots of people out, and lots of good yummy food. I had lots of grand ideas for dinner - either Roppongi Hills or a nighttime adventure out to Shibuya to see all of the people - but since Miyako did not nap we decided to stay close to our place. We went back to the mall next door and my parents experienced a Japanese cuisine called tonkatsu. It is a fried pork dish (they also had shrimp and oysters) served with rice and is fabulous. It is one of my favorite Japanese dishes so I am glad they got to try it. And they both really liked it. For those of you wondering, my dad made it the entire 9 days without having to use chopsticks. :) The restaurant we went to tonight even had a regular size fork to give him, and not just a dessert type fork.

We really have been blessed to have family here to visit. Miyako enjoyed all the play time and attention and we enjoyed getting to show them our new home. I think they were both simply amazed at the number of people in such a small packed area in Tokyo. My dad said he has walked more this week than he has the entire year. :) They leave tomorrow morning. Please pray for their safety as they travel back to Kentucky. Dad and Mom, Papaw and Grandma - we love you and are so thankful that you came such a long distance to see us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

More Fun with Grandma and Papaw

So, the week is drawing to a close and we are having a lot of fun with Grandma and Papaw. Thursday it rained ALL day so we relaxed at home and played inside, which was good for Miyako so she could recover from a full day at Disney from Wednesday. Thursday night we ate dinner at their hotel in a fabulous French restaurant. They put us in our own private room, which I think was due to us having a toddler. She had a French cheese plate that cost way more than any almost two year old needs to spend on cheese, but oh well. :) I got a picture of my meal and dessert, the three scoops of ice cream that were chocolate, vanilla, and cheese. It actually was pretty decent, the cheese flavor that is. Miyako even liked it.

The rain finally went away today. YAY! So, we went back to the fish market so my dad could actually look at all the goodies. The first time we went it was pouring down rain so he did not get to really check out all the goods they offer you at the fish market. From there, we walked to a large park called Hamarikyu Gardens. Miyako loved running around in the wide open spaces. I love the large open spaces right in the middle of the city. Miyako also enjoyed playing with the Play-doh Grandma brought her from the US. Not only did she enjoy the play-doh but she also enjoyed stacking the containers up and knocking them down. :)

Tonight we took Grandma and Papaw to have monja-yaki, only they got full before we could order it. We had stir-fried veggies for an appetizer, okonomiyaki, and yaki-soba or fried noodles. Kan was our master chef. He jokes that it is the closest he gets to grilling out here in Japan. Tomorrow is our last day before they head back to the US on Sunday. We are heading to Shibuya to see the large crazy intersection with thousands of people crossing at one time and then dinner in Roppongi Hills. I did not get to show them near as much as what I wanted due to some bad weather, but we did get to spend a lot of quality time together which is what the purpose of their trip was. Tomorrow I will post pics of our time in Shibuya and Roppongi.