Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mt. Takao and Ukai Toriyama

Saturday we ventured out of the city with another family for a day trip to Mt. Takao and to enjoy the restaurant Ukai Toriyama. Doing a trip like this is so much more fun with another family and we had a great time. It took about a hour by train to get to the station. From the station we took a shuttle bus to the restaurant. As we got off the bus, they told us to stand by the side of the road as a parade was coming...turns out it was a wedding parade! The restaurant was AMAZING in so many ways - presentation of the food, ambiance, taste of the food, beauty of the outdoors. We had made reservations and had our own private little tatami room, complete with little mats for the babies to sleep on, and the sound of a creek running outside. The scenery was so beautiful. Being in the city, you forget what trees look like sometimes, and here in the restaurant we were surrounded by trees, running water, and not a skyscraper in sight! The lunch was a lengthy process - about 2 hours - and we were served by women in traditional kimonos. The food was both beautiful and delicious. After lunch, we took the shuttle back to the bottom of the mountain. From there, we got in a cable car and rode to the top of Mt. Takao...along with everyone else! It was pretty crowded being a Saturday and all. We walked around a bit, enjoyed the view, fed babies, and took the cable car back down the mountain to head back to Tokyo. It was a long day, but a very good day, and I really enjoyed getting away from Tokyo with family and friends and forgetting about city life for a day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Betty Crocker, BSF, and Typhoon Roke

It has been a whirlwind of 24 hours. It started with me becoming Betty Crocker for the day late yesterday afternoon. I made dinner for Tuesday, prepared the crock pot chili meat for today (Wednesday), and I made these spinach cheese and ham muffins to eat on for lunch (thanks Jean for your cooking blog and the delicious muffin recipe). To top it off, I made my own flavored coffee creamer. Homemade coffee creamer. A friend sent me a great website of fabulous organic recipes and thought I would be interested in the coffee creamer considering how much I miss my pumpkin spice come this time of year. I was a bit nervous about it, but y'all it was so yummy! I made cinnamon strudel yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it in my coffee. (Here is the link -

The busyness continued today as we headed to BSF. I am LOVING the study of Acts this year. I really enjoyed Isaiah last year but it was such a downer in the beginning - lots of doom and judgment. Obviously it ends in a good way with the prophecy of the Messiah and redemption for Israel, but it was still hard to study in the beginning. Acts is a bit more uplifting in the beginning as we study the Holy Spirit. I am really excited about BSF this year and am so thankful we have it here in Tokyo. Miyako is also LOVING the child care this year. Today she said, "I had so much fun mama." The teachers are her new best friends when they sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes." Miyako told me they will sing it every week. Not sure if the teachers know this yet or not, but oh well.

Today the numbers were very low at BSF due to Typhoon Roke. To be honest, I thought the typhoon had passed about 6 this morning. I was working out and the rain was horrible. I was even debating on whether or not to go to BSF. But once the kids woke up, it had stopped in our area so we ventured out. When I got to BSF, they were surprised to see me. The head lady of the children's program said, "You are here?! You do know a typhoon is coming don't you?!" Oops - I thought the typhoon had passed. No, that was just a little shower compared to what came in the name of Roke! Our leader ended the lecture a bit early so we could all get home before the storm. We had to walk home from the station in some heavy rain but it was nothing compared to what was to come. Around 2PM, Roke hit. Our building was swaying in the wind. And the wind was LOUD. And the rain - downpour is an understatement. Thankfully Kan made it home before trains were closed. I told Miyako it was a bit nasty outside and we were safe inside. Her response was, "The weather is being disobedient." I guess she hears that word quite a bit huh? :) Now, all is quiet, and there is no rain...just a little wind. Supposedly the day after a typhoon means clear skies and nice weather. Let's just hope the slides are not still wet from the rain. Oh, and what do we do during a typhoon - we video tape - hence the picture of Kan with the camera.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Miss Spinning

Today I went for a run while jet lagged hubby napped and the kiddos were supposed to be napping. I had to get out of the house by myself and hit the pavement. While on my run listening to my I pod, I realized how much I miss spinning. Every song that came on reminded me of what I would do if this song was on my playlist for a spinning class - long flat road, sprints, jumps, steep climb, short fast climb. As I hit the pavement, I could envision myself in the dark room with 29 other spinning nazis dripping in sweat and rocking out to the music. Spinning was therapeutic for me in a way - I just completely zoned out in spin classes (not the ones I taught mind you - I was always carefully aware of my class; however the ones I attended, I was in another planet). In a way, I guess it is kind of like a drug. And running sometimes does that for me, but you have to be more careful with running and be more aware. Just today I almost got hit by a man on his bike with daughter on the back simply because my music was up so loud I did not hear them coming from behind. You never really have that problem in a spinning room on a stationary bike. I just miss it, and I look forward to one day being a member at a gym with a world class spinning room and teachers.

On a parenting note, I did a pretty hard thing tonight. I took away pink blanket. Miyako has this pink blanket she sleeps with every night. However, every night it becomes a way of control for my sweet almost three year old. I will tuck her in with the pink blanket on, and inevitably she will kick it off after I have left the room and need to have "pink blanket put back on" again. She will do this up to a million times if I would let her. It is not about the blanket. It is about her controlling the situation. Tonight I gently told her if she kicked off pink blanket one time I would take it away for the night. Sure enough, she kicked it off. And sure enough, Mama took it away. It was brutal, taking it away from her. She screamed and cried, "Mama, I want pink blanket." After about ten minutes of crying and her sitting at the edge of her bed closest to the door, I went into her room to calm her down. I held her tight and she said, "I want pink blanket. I want to look at the pretty flowers on pink blanket."

My response was something like this, "Miyako, I know honey that you want pink blanket, but I told you I would take it away and that is what I did. You may have it tomorrow night and try again. Maybe after this, you will have learned your lesson and not kick pink blanket off."

Her response - "I want to learn the lesson tomorrow." Well, at least she is honest. Pink blanket is waiting for her on the kitchen table and she is sleeping soundly. I did not take pink blanket away in anger. I was gentle and compassionate, yet firm. I do not always discipline in this way - with compassion yet being firm. Usually I am frustrated and angry. But God really gave me his grace tonight. And it was HARD. I wanted so much to give her back that pink blanket when I went back in her room. Her big teary eyes looking up at me...melt a mama's heart. But I knew the long term goals I have for her could only be fulfilled if I kept my word and kept pink blanket. Time will tell if this worked or not - tomorrow night I may have pink blanket again. Or maybe we will not have to deal with this anymore. I do not know. But tonight I got a small taste of what God must feel when He disciplines us. It is hard for him too. He does not want to see us hurt or struggle with Him, but He has a bigger picture in mind for us. Lord, may I embrace your discipline and melt in your arms like my little girl melted in mine tonight.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Maritime Museum and Hello Kitty Heaven

Today we normally have music class, but for some reason we were on a break, so our friends from class joined us for an adventure to the Maritime Museum. It is due to shut down at the end of this month, so we thought we better go check it out before it closes. It is basically a really large ship, with lots of cool ship stuff inside, mostly written about in Japanese, so I was never quite sure what I was looking at. But to a three year old and almost three year old, it was not about the ships. It was about running around the three large levels of the museum. And that is ok. They had fun. We had fun. It was a great morning. They did have these remote control boats you could drive which Miyako thought was fun. She kept making her boat run into the wall, with mama's help naturally.

After the museum we headed to Venus Fort, a large shopping mall, for lunch. Low and behold they had a huge Hello Kitty area. On the weekends, Hello Kitty does a show so we will definitely be heading back there on a Saturday to enjoy the pink and purple fun. As you can see from the pictures, Miyako had a great day. When I asked her what her favorite part of the day was she said, "the boats, hello kitty, ice cream, the boats." Basically, she liked everything we did today!

And I am happy to report daddy is home. He has been in the US for work and we survived our first big trip without daddy around. I thought by the end of the eleven days I would be DYING! Well, I wasn't. Now, I did have moments that I wanted to pull my hair out, but let's face it - I have those moments even when hubby is home! All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with how well the week went. I do not feel like I was in "survival" mode counting down the hours for him to walk in the door, which is a good feeling. I felt like we went about our normal week and I really enjoyed my kids. Now the true test comes - keeping that same attitude when he is home and jet lagged and I am frustrated he can't keep his eyes open at 2 in the afternoon. :) Miyako was absolutely beside herself when he walked in tonight. She had been talking about daddy coming home all day today. I asked her if she wanted mama to leave and daddy to stay with her. She looked at me kind of funny. I responded with, "Do you want mama and daddy to both stay here?" Her eyes got real big and she said, "Mama and daddy both stay here!!" Love our sweet little girl. She thinks we are all that and a bag of chips - one day the time will come when she may think we are still pretty cool, but she will not want us always around. :) And in the words of The Cranberries, "These are the days to remember..."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10 Years Ago Today...

we had our very first date! I always remember the anniversary because it was the Friday night after Tuesday 9/11. The hubby said he wanted to ask me out on Monday night, but got scared and did not call. Then Tuesday some terrorists thought it would be a good idea to destroy the US and so hubby knew he could not call on Tuesday night. He finally called on Wednesday and asked me out for Friday night. Not sure if this is true or not, as he likes to embellish stories a bit, but it is fun to tell nonetheless. We went to a local Mexican restaurant on UK's campus - I loved that he did not choose a chain restaurant like Red Lobster...not that there is anything wrong with chain restaurants, but I like the local places best. Then we ventured on to a wine tasting party at his friends' place. My first impression was how much his friends loved him, and that made a lasting impression on me. He was so well liked by EVERYONE and I knew this was a guy I wanted to get to know. Did I think we would be married with two children ten years later on that night? No. But he did make a very good impression from opening the car door, to great conversation, fabulous choice of music in the car (we always liked the same kind of music from the beginning), to having the respect of his friends...I am so glad God saw it fit for him to be my perfect match. Sigh...this post was really just for me, to remember, and to record, so one day my kids can read it and envision how Mama and Daddy started dating. We have had our fair share of ups and downs over the last ten years, but it is definitely a fun ride being his partner in crime. I would not want to do this life with anyone else.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Scrapbook Day - September 11, 2011

So, I really kind of wish I had not chosen the 11th of the month to do my scrapbook day. I found it fitting since we are in the year 2011, but after March 11th being such a tragic day here in Japan, and September 11th being such a tragic day in the US, I feel like the 11th of each month is destruction day and I wait for something else terrible to happen. I will be honest, I am glad I was in Tokyo for the 10 year anniversary of 9/11. Part of me wishes I would have been back in the US to feel the sense of unity that was described, but the other part of me is glad I am here so I did not have to watch news coverage 24 hours of that horrible horrible day. We all remember where we were when that happened. I am not going to recreate my story of that day here in the blog post. Instead, I will be honest in that I did not want to think about it on the anniversary. It is not that I want to forget. How can we ever forget? But I have seen enough devastation this year and been through enough with surviving the worst earthquake in the history of Japan, that I bypassed thinking about more horrible past experiences. Not sure if this makes sense, but it is where I am. I did think and pray for those who lost loved ones, those serving our country, and the people in my life specifically who were lost in the World Trade Center attack and my dear friends' husband who faithfully serves our country and has spent countless days in the Middle East for my freedom. But that is about all I did - I did not watch any news on the sling box. I did not buy any books about people's stories from that day. I really wanted some happy thoughts.

It was another typical Sunday for us. We hung out at home in the morning and then went to church in the afternoon. I had nursery duty so I was with the kiddos. We walked home from church, grabbed a Happy Meal for dinner to share, ate dinner, and went to bed. Nothing real fancy on 9/11/2011 this year for us. Kei is rolling around more and more. He gets from his tummy to his back but cannot get himself back to his tummy. I usually have to help him once in the middle of the night to keep him asleep. I realized I need to start making some friends with babies. All he does is hang out with Miyako's friends and tags along. But I think I need to find a play group with babies so he has some friends too. The picture on the post is from yesterday when his little girlfriend came over - they were trying to hold hands. It was cute. Here is another recent picture of Miyako - she was lined up with all of her animals for a music concert. Who is the performer? Me! She wants me to play her piano. And finally, I tried to get a good picture of the sunset on the 11th. Now that it is closer to fall, even though still very hot, the sky is a bit clearer and I am getting some nice views of Fuji-san. I do not know the appropriate settings for my camera, but the sunset the other night was gorgeous with Fuji-san in the background.

Another scrapbook day is finished - I wonder what October 11th will hold for us this year. Hard to believe 2011 is almost over!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mori Tower and a Book Review

Today we met a friend and her kids and ventured out to Robot Park and Mori Tower. They had a small aquarium exhibit and Miyako was super excited to see "Nemo." Thankfully they had fish that looked like Nemo, although Miyako was not super impressed with how dark it was inside. Miyako loves Robot park. It amazes me how much she is growing. The last time we were there she needed to help walking up this large hill after going down the really long slide. Today she did it all by herself! And we just had to have a morning snack/coffee break for the mamas at a delicious bakery. One thing about Tokyo that I love is the food. The bakeries are simply to die for. I do not really crave Panera because the bakeries here are so delicious. It was a fun adventure out on this very hot Saturday.

So, I remember posting about a new book I was planning to read called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. A friend commented on how she wanted to know what I thought of the book, so I thought I would include little book reviews on the blog. I love to read and pass along books for people to consider, so here is my opinion of this latest read. I really loved the premise of the book - the author is on a search to write 1,000 things she is thankful for and in the process she learns to fully "live" by God's grace. What I love is that she does not list things like "my family, my friends, food, good health" which are all very good things to be thankful for. But she goes for the specifics...things like, "clean sheets smelling like wind, hot oatmeal tasting like home, bare toes in early light." The book is thought provoking and profound. I will be honest, the first 50 pages or so was hard for me. Her style is completely different from any other author I have written. If you have an amplified Bible, her writing reminds me of that. It took me awhile to figure out her style and appreciate it, but once I got past those first 50 pages or so, I was loving the book. It is not a quick read or easy read as it makes you think and consider your own heart on so many levels. It is a book I want to read again in a month or two as I do not think I really processed it all. I love how real and vulnerable she is. She does not come across super spiritual. She is honest, having good days where she is really in tune and in touch with the Lord, and really bad days when she stresses over what is for dinner, meeting a deadline and wondering if she is living God's best for this life on earth. I underlined quite a bit. I wish I could share it all on the blog. Instead, go read it for yourself and let me know what you underlined. Maybe we can meet for coffee and discuss it together if you live here in Tokyo, or we can have a virtual book club meeting over Skype.

Next on my list - "The Mission of Motherhood" by Sally Clarkson and "Loving the Little Years" by Rachel Jankovic. I am also diving into a Spanish author for the first time - "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eight Days In...really?

So, I have to wonder if I am really eight days in on the facebook fast when each day I have "checked" it once a day at night after the kids are in bed. As you can see, it is not going so well, but I am learning a lot. I have not posted anything about my status updates, and I see now that my email box can be fairly empty. As I noticed this, I have asked myself the question, "Do I get significance out of people commenting on my status updates?" I am not sure if this makes any sense to any of you readers out there, but it is a question I pose. Being so far away from a lot of friends and family, you like for your email to be fairly full and facebook provides that. Sure, I delete them all, but it is fun reading stuff throughout the day or having people tell you how cute your kids are. Do I try to puff myself up by reading those nice comments? Do they make me feel good? Sadly they do, just like the not so nice comments make me feel like poo-poo (as we like to call it in our house). So, even though I have not been so faithful in my fast of checking facebook, these thoughts are coming to my mind.

Now, the goal for the next 8 days is no status updates and to not read other people's updates. I know this may sound so silly to many of you reading this, but it is a real struggle for me. Why do I have to know everything that is going on in everyone's life? What did I do before facebook? I would email a personal email (sadly not a hand written letter) or I would call the person and set up a phone date or coffee date. Instead, I stalk facebook pages. For emergency situations, like "did they survive Hurricane Irene", I find no issue with stalking the facebook page. You want to know your loved one is ok. But do I really need to spend my time looking through all of these profiles to see what is going on with this person or that person? Not really. Are there more important things in life? Well, certainly - like rubbing Miyako's back while we watch her morning video during a feed. Yes, we still watch videos in spite of my facebook fast. But we do it together and talk about Charlie Brown for 20 minutes.

Please do not get me wrong - I am not becoming an anti-facebook person. Probably I will be back on there before the end of September. HA! I love how it helps me feel connected to friends or family all over the world. But after awhile, I do have to ask myself what is it doing to me on the inside - is it benefiting me? is it making me compare myself or my kids to other people? am I trying too hard on facebook to look good? am I investing too much time looking into other people's lives rather than focusing on where I am right now? Maybe the next 22 days will tell me...

Friday, September 2, 2011

The K Man - Four Months Old Today

Really, four months old already? Where does the time go? We took the K Man to his check up today, and he is a little man! He weighed in at 17 pounds! Really? I could not believe it. Such a chunk. He is in the 90th percentile for weight...height...only 25th percentile. He is 26 inches long. So, you guessed it - he is short and fat...and we love him to pieces. He is close to rolling over. Just tonight he was crying after having been asleep for 2 hours, which is unusual for him, and I found him on his side, so I think it is only a matter of time before he rolls over completely. He smiles and laughs all the time. We will be on the bus or train and a lady will try to smile or coo at him and he will start cackling out loud. So cute. He is very personable and seems to enjoy all kinds of people, not just mama or dada. I think he gets this from his daddy. He sleeps 7 to 6:30/7 with a dream feed at 10PM. I am hoping to get him on an 8 to 8 schedule eventually so that he and Miyako can share their room and go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. But for now, I will enjoy the 7AM wake up call...I love nursing the K Man with that first morning feed, when the house is quiet, and it is just the two of us enjoying the peace before wild and crazy sister wakes up. The K Man is holding his head up fairly well. We got him a Bumbo seat and he likes sitting in it, but I am not sure how long his legs will fit in it. It takes two of us to get him out of it once he gets stuck in there. K Man, you are such a sweet baby boy. Mama loves you so much and is so grateful you are such a laid back and easy going baby. We love having you in our family. Happy Four Month Birthday little man.