Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Been a Year

A year ago today we had finished putting the last bit of our stuff in storage and were eating Chipotle burritos with our dear friends on the living room floor on our last night in Lexington. Ironically, this week, I had lunch with a friend in Azabu Juban and she took me to the Japanese version of Chipotle. Y'all - it was amazing! The entire menu board was in English, free refills, and it tasted JUST LIKE HOME! Only, the name of this restaurant is Frijoles. I was thrilled to have found it and plan to go there with Kan soon on a Saturday for lunch.

It has been a year...a year since we boarded that plane and embarked on this adventure God has given us. In some ways, I feel as if we have been gone about 5 years. In other ways, I feel like it has been 3 months! At times, I do not think about living in "Tokyo." I am with my husband and kiddos and that is perfect for me. But then I hear Miyako say words like "Mt. Fuji," "Tokyo Tower," "48th floor," "yon-ju hachi kai desu (48th floor)," "mikan (orange)," or "Midtown Park at Roppongi" and I am quickly reminded that we live in Tokyo, Japan.

I had fun re-reading those first few posts about leaving. I re-lived walking through security in the Bluegrass Airport and the sigh of relief that came as I knew we were exactly where God intended us to be. However, there are days when I long for my life back "home" in the US - where I had a car and we could just decide on a whim to drive to Nashville, Charlotte or Knoxville to hang out with family and friends; where I had my gym girlfriends to work out with and to share life with; where we had a yard and I could look out my window and see green. Then I think about all of the people I have met in the past year and all of the places I have gotten to see and I think to myself "wow, God has richly blessed us." Even when it is hard, it has been a fabulous year. Our marriage is stronger than it ever has been simply because we are all each other has. We have met incredible people, who come and go through Tokyo, and now have friends all over the world to go visit one day. Miyako is learning some Japanese. We have found a wonderful church to both serve in and receive spiritual nourishment from. Life is good.

Then I have to remind myself, it all is from God. There is nothing we did to achieve this or deserve this. God simply is so faithful to His children. Even in the storms and on those really cloudy days here when I "long" for something familiar, the God of the Bible is true to His word. He is faithful. He is Sovereign. He loves us and meets us on the bad days in Tokyo and the bad days in the US. Because yes, I had bad days there too.

My thoughts are a bit jumbled today, but as I reflect on what I have learned in the last year, I am reminded that even though you can move, change homes, meet new friends, and have your life feel as if it was turned upside down at times, God is the same. We are not sure when God will take us back to the US, or where He will take us next, but when He does move us again, I am sure it will have it's ups and downs. However, HE will remain the same - the same faithful and loving God who has been with us this far - HE will continue to be with us on the next adventure.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Charlie Brown Christmas Song

Here is Miyako's rendition of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" or in our household known as "Charlie Brown Christmas Song." Enjoy our next American idol!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Baby Bump

I am not big on Baby Bump photo shoots but since I live across the Pacific from many of my dear friends and family, several people have asked for a photo. So, at the indoor play area today, my friend took this. Enjoy. Tomorrow I am 26 weeks. Oh, and after I had my picture taken Miyako wanted her picture taken on the slide...and then she had to look at it. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So, I really admire people who scrapbook and do not get behind. The very thought of it overwhelms me. I finished my wedding book, well the showers and wedding but ran out of time to do the honeymoon, about 3 weeks before we had Miyako. My goal is to finish Miyako's first year book before baby #2 arrives. I cannot keep up with every little thing. I have enjoyed doing digital books on my MAC - I have done holiday seasons and vacations on that. I plan to do a 2009 and 2010 book, also digitally, before baby #2 arrives. I knew I needed a new plan of action as I really want to keep things recorded for our family but I know I cannot do it all. Real scrapbookers say, "Don't worry. I am always behind." But to me always being behind is added stress. I need to keep it manageable.

My cyberspace friend M told me about an idea of scrapbooking one day of each month - like for the year 2010 you would do the 10th of each month. This seems very manageable so I decided to try it for 2011. I figure I will update the blog on the 11th of each month with a few current pictures. Then, when I go to make my digital book for 2011, all I have to do is look back at the blog, find my pictures, and there you have it. For special holidays I can add to that month but other than that I can see a bit of our daily life over the course of 2011.

So today is January 11, 2011! Hence the title of the blog post. And we had a fabulous day. Miyako started her Japanese music class. I had considered putting her in Music Together this semester after we had four trial passes given to us by a friend back in November and December. Miyako LOVED it, but I wanted to find something similar in Japanese. A friend of mine told me about these classes nearby our house and we started today. At first Miyako was pretty clingy and wanted to be held, but then she got really involved and thoroughly enjoyed herself. We go three times a month and I think it will be a lot of fun for her. I was impressed with what they were teaching the children in the process of having fun with music. They gave them these cards to wear with different animals on them like an elephant or a mouse. Then they gave them this instrument to play. While they were wearing the elephant card, they were supposed to walk around the room slowly like an elephant and play their instrument for a total of four counts, or a whole note. Each animal represented a different note and taught you the speed of the notes. Now grant it, these are 2 year olds, so they did not always follow the actual count of the music, but it did impress me that they were teaching them this at such a young age.

Miyako loves music. She gets to watch a TV show once a day, twice if I am desperate. Lately her favorite choice is Charlie Brown Christmas. She gets out her piano and plays along with Schroeder. It is rather cute. And she insists I be in the room at the end so I can sing along to the "Charlie Brown Christmas song" otherwise known as "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." She knows all of the words to the first verse of this song and LOVES to sing it. Tonight we sang it all the way home on our walk from a friend's house...

Which moves me on to our next adventure of the day. After Miyako's nap (or lack there of as she is not taking much of a nap lately - she simply lays in her bed, sings to herself and pulls books off her shelves to read to herself) we went to our friends house for tea and fellowship. I love having our Dutch friends so nearby. We visit with them after nap time about once a week or every other week at least. It is always such a breath of fresh air. Miyako enjoys playing with their kids and all of their toys and I simply enjoy the fellowship.

Miyako is talking more and more every day. Kan and I are quite impressed as she puts together sentences. It really is amazing. I am sure other kids her age do this as well, but we just get tickled to hear her talk or sing songs. Anytime we pray, whether at bedtime or at meals, she includes thanking Jesus for, "Nana, Opah, Mommy, Daddy, baby, Grandma, Papaw, Oji-chan, Mommy-chan, Nena, Darlene, baby Jesus, Antonnia, roar, baby Jesus and Antonnia." I am sure the more names she learns the more people we will pray for, but it is rather funny as she does the exact same order every time, and if you do it differently she will start all over again. She will read books to herself and knows the words and order to quite a few. I cannot skip a page with her on a familiar book because she will catch it. I often find her reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "Goodnight Moon," or "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to herself or her babies. She knows Mama is having a baby but I do not think she understands the actual implications of that.

She is also two and thinks the world revolves around her. We live very structured day to day lives with routine which provides her with stability. However, if we try to do something the least bit different, like sing a different song at bedtime, she notices and gets all bent out of shape. She can have a bit of a temper, but what two year old doesn't. And Kan and I are still trying to figure out how best to navigate these "terrible twos." We are reminded daily that she is not our child - she belongs to God - and He can cover over our mistakes. She is not really interested in going potty on the big potty, and that is okay. I got rid of the paci so that is one thing checked off my list. I am in no rush with the potty. In spite of the difficult days we sometimes have with her, she really is a sweet little girl full of personality and a lot of fun to parent.

So, here are my thoughts for 1/11/2011. We have good days and bad days - today was a good day and I love the life God has given me.

Karuizawa January 2011

We took our first ski venture in Japan this past weekend to a small town about a hour outside of Tokyo via shinkansen called Karuizawa. Up until this point, Miyako still talked about the "bubble water" from our beach adventure in Malaysia. While reading books, she would see people walking away and say, "bye bye." When I asked her where they were going she would respond with, "Bubble Water!" I think Kan was getting a bit nervous that she would turn out too much like her mother and hate the snow. So, we decided to introduce her to it this past weekend.

On Saturday, Kan spent the morning skiing and I attempted to play with Miyako at the kids park. She enjoyed hanging out at the small amusement park type rides but we only went down on the sled twice. She did not like the snow getting in her face and I do not say I could blame her. I love the beauty of snow - from inside a nice lodge by a fireplace with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. I have tried skiing and I can enjoy it, especially out in Colorado where the trails are long and wide and I do not have to worry about running into anyone. But even in Colorado, if you gave me the option to ski all day or hit the spa for a massage and then grab a cup of coffee, I would probably choose the latter of the options, provided I had child care. The basis of this is I really hate to be cold. I can appreciate God's creation both at the beach and in the middle of snow-capped mountains, but I would much rather sweat than be cold. For my Tokyo friends, remind me of this next August when I am complaining of the heat.

Saturday night we met up with our friends and enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a natural food buffet - lots of fresh veggies and a kid friendly atmosphere - it had to be considering we had five toddlers! Thankfully Miyako was wiped and slept well Saturday night as Friday night she was up quite frequently. I on the other hand had insomnia from 2-5. It turns out two other moms did as well. If we had known, we could have had a party in the hallway. Sunday I took Miyako to the outlet malls while Kan went skiing in the morning. She was a trooper staying in her stroller. Karuizawa is known for their jam so I bought some of that, a Starbuck's mug to add to my collection, and I enjoyed browsing the outlets of Gucci, Burberry and Kate Spade. Thankfully for Kan there was not a Louis Vuitton outlet so I did not buy anything. Ever since I came to Japan, I want a Louis Vuitton purse - we will see...

We met up with Kan after lunch and he took Miyako sledding. She instantly became his snow bunny. They played in this bouncy house type thing for awhile and on some slides that were in the snow. Then he got her on the sleds. He is strong enough to hold her upright so she is not facing forward looking at the snow, so she thoroughly enjoyed herself. She did ride face forward one time but went back to being held so she was not facing the snow. She kept asking for more, and he was in heaven with his little snow bunny. I am glad she had a good experience with the snow and sledding. I imagine next year she will have skis on her feet. At dinner tonight she said, "mama take pictures and you go on sled with daddy real fast." (She refers to herself as "you" right now as she often repeats me - "Miyako you need to pick up your toys" becomes "You pick up toys.") If we get to go to Hokkaido in February I think she will have a fabulous time in the snow with daddy, and Mama may not take as many pictures every day as she may find herself in front of a fire place with a nice cup of hot cocoa and a good book.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Starbuck's Mugs

So, this post is dedicated to my Cyberspace friend M, as she is the one who told me about the New Year's Starbuck's mugs and has passed along her love (or obsession:) with Starbuck's mugs to me. Starbuck's in Japan is a little taste of home. It may not have the same seasonal flavors I am used to in the US, but it looks the same and taste the same as home. The main difference is you do not have the option of decaf fraps like in the US, but some of you would say what is the purpose of going to Starbuck's if you want to get decaf. For me, at 8PM, I need decaf. But I digressed...back to the mugs.

Cyberspace friend M (I know a lot of you have those cyberspace friends - you have met through blogging or through email via a mutual friend but have yet to meet face to face - this is M and she has become a truly dear friend over email) told me about the New Year's mugs in Japan. Japan Starbuck's is the only country in the world to do the New Year's mugs and when she lived here she made a point to get one each year. I decided to adopt her tradition and get not only New Year's mugs but also mugs of where we travel while we are here. I bought three on New Year's Eve - the black and red mugs for the New Year, and one for Nagoya since I have been there but did not buy the mug at the time.

Cyberspace friend M, these pics are for you. Enjoy.

The Stomach Bug

The stomach bug that seems to be going around to my friends in the US has made it to Tokyo and made it to our home for a New Year's greeting. It is a shame we ended our great stay-cation on this note, but it was one more thing that forced us to relax which is good for the body and soul, I guess. Miyako had it Saturday night and yes friends, no more paci! She does not even ask for it and I need to get them off the top of the fridge and put them in her keepsake box. She has been waking up some in the middle of the night and not really taking the best of naps - not sure if that is paci related or age related, but either way, we are staying clear of the paci. We never made it to Ikea for her big girl bed as we got really sick, but hopefully it will be a February purchase.

Sunday we were all fine. Monday however I noticed Miyako had dirtier diapers than what is normal for her. I figured she still had a touch of something but she was not running a fever and she was in good spirits. Monday evening we went to do some ski shopping as we are headed for a weekend away on Friday with some friends to a local ski resort. We are hoping this will prepare Miyako for playing in the snow for our February trip to Hokkaido. While we were in the store, my stomach started to turn in knots. As soon as we got home I went to the couch and Kan took over parental duties with Miyako. I did not want to move as anytime I moved, my stomach would rumble more. Sure enough by 11:30 that night I was in the bathroom. Not pretty. The next day I woke up a little bit better but had no energy and was pretty sore and achy. Unfortunately I passed it onto Kan and he was in the bed most of the day. We invested greatly in clear liquids and slowly recovered.

Today I woke up with a lot more energy and disinfected everything. In 90 sq. meters it does not take too long to do that. :) Kan felt good enough to go into the office but is still drinking liquids. I have managed to have toast and chicken noodle soup today so I am definitely on the upswing. I was so disappointed when I got sick. My goal for the New Year was to start back exercising five times a week. When I was pregnant with Miyako I exercises at least 5 sometimes 6 days a week, but this time I have been so tired. It had been three weeks of doing nothing until Monday, my New Year, when I went for a 40 minute run/power walk and felt great. But then I got sick! So, this week it may only be three days but it is better than nothing.

I hope all of you have had a better start to the New Year than we did! We did have a great vacation, staying at home and simply relaxing. Now it is back to normal.

Enjoy the picture of Miyako in her new Christmas outfit from Mommy-chan in Kyoto. I was a bit nervous that it would not fit her as it was 18-24 months, or 90cm, in size, but it fit perfectly and she looked so cute in it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bye Bye "Wa"

The "wa" is Miyako's pacifier. She is only allowed to use it at night or for nap time and she has three - a pink one she keeps in her mouth, a blue UK one she holds in one hand and an orange UT one she holds in the other hand. The crazy thing is when she drops one in the middle of the night, even in the pitch dark, she knows if she is missing the blue or orange one. Getting rid of the paci is one transition I have been wanting to tackle but quite honestly a bit afraid of the whole process. I was afraid she would not sleep and she is a very very good sleeper, for the most part. I have some friends who are firm believers at age 2, the paci goes. I have other friends who say as long as it is only for bedtime, give her some time. The pediatrician said by age three you should get rid of it. I was so torn as to what to do. Cutting a hole in it seemed so final and I just did not know what to do. Well, God let it happen for me.

Last night Miyako woke up at 1AM and had thrown up in her bed. This was her first big throw up experience and I am so so thankful for a husband who went immediately to clean it up while I cleaned her up. We immediately got the pacifiers and put them in hot boiling water to cleanse. I cleaned Miyako up and Kan cleaned the bed up. Did I mention I am thankful for him? Just the smell of it was enough to make me sick. I was glad I just had to deal with Miyako. She did not have a temperature and kept saying "bed wet." Poor little thing.

Around 1:30 we were ready to put her back to bed and I was just rocking her and cuddling her. We offered her the clean pacifiers and she sucked on the pink one for a little bit but then put all three of them down. She finally went to bed around 3 and did not use the pacifiers. For whatever reason she did not want them. I am guessing she maybe tried to put it in her mouth after getting sick and it tasted yucky. I put them on top of the fridge and left them there all day today.

We skipped our nap today due to church so come bed time I was a bit anxious to see if she would ask for them or not. She was looking around saying "wa, wa." I told her we were not going to sleep with the wa tonight because I was afraid they made her sick last night and I did not want her getting sick. She was okay with that answer (or lie according to Kan) and went to bed without a peep like normal. I must admit, I hated seeing her get sick in her bed, but I was thankful that it helped me get rid of the pacifier. I would not wish that on anyone, but it was much easier than what I was anticipating. We will see if I am saying the same thing at 3AM tonight but so far so good!

Now it is onto the next transition - we are buying a big girl bed this week! Our little girl is growing up.