Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Scrapbook Day 11/12/2012

Scrapbook day fell on a Monday this month. Normally on Mondays we either go to a play group in Ikebukuro or do something that involves getting on the train and adventure. But on this particular day I was tired, the K Man had a cough, and we just stayed local. I love that staying local means I can walk to 4 different amazing parks or a climbing gym! We played with a lot of Minnie's on this day and went to the park behind our building. It was just an average day. I wrote down on my calendar about the K Man talking more. He will hold his hands up and say "upu" when he wants to be picked up. He has learned this Japanese word from his big sis. He can also say doggie, Mickey, Ruff Ruff, Moo, and Amen. He does a mean Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog dance. Seriously folks, it is hilarious to watch the two of them do the hot dog dance. He is still big...oh so big...and heavy. Miss M continues to amaze me, especially with her Japanese. She can read hiragana and was reading a book today in Japanese. I guess I should work on those English letters some, huh? Her Japanese teacher said she is amazed...she said M could enter primary school based on her knowledge of the language. Her teacher gave us a book for daddy and Miss M to work on while we are in the US. Speaking of, we are coming in one week!! To say I am excited is a bit of an understatement. We will be in Lexington from 11/28-12/17. We will be in Knoxville from 12/17-12/21. We will be in Nashville on the night of 12/21. Then we head to Little Rock, Arkansas from 12/22-1/2. We are back in Knoxville on 1/2 and fly back to Tokyo on 1/8. If you are in these areas and want to see me, please send me your contact info friends, especially if you are not on facebook, so I can get a hold of you. I am not taking my computer with me so my main source of emailing will be through facebook. My calendar in Lexington is filling up fast with amazing people to visit with and lots of visits to the gym and Bikram yoga studio. The studio in Lexington lets you do unlimited classes for 2 weeks for only $30. Did y'all read that?! $30 is what I can pay for a one trial class here in Tokyo. So, Bikram, here I come - I may go every day since I have babysitters to watch the kids. Let's get some sweat on. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America. I am cooking here on Friday because it is a national holiday and the hubs is off. My friend Sally is stopping in on Sunday for a visit for a few days. She flies back to Oregon the same day we fly out so I will have some help getting to Narita. She is famous for sending Miss M lots of Charlie Brown stuff when she was in her Charlie Brown phase. Miss M thinks my friend Sally is Charlie Brown's sister. It should be interesting when Miss M meets her and finds out she is Korean with black hair, and not blond with a pink or blue dress on. So, we will have a busy week before we leave. I have been trying to clean out closets so I can fill them up with goodies when we come back, especially new clothes. The girl needs to shop more than once every 2 years y'all. I am excited, but I admit, I am a bit nervous. It has been awhile since I have been back. I may get a bit overwhelmed in the grocery store. And I know I will miss routine and my own home because I thrive on structure and routine. You just do not get that traveling with two kids and living in 3 different homes over the course of 6 weeks. But, when I get overwhelmed, I am going to step back and relish our family, our friends, the endless variety of ice cream, and say "Thank you Lord for this gift of a lengthy vacation. Help me to be flexible and embrace the craziness of it all and lack of structure." Not much fun for this scrapbook day...but just some thoughts. I have been a bit silent lately...probably because I am reading a great mystery book by a Swedish author. I have to give it back to a friend before I leave as I know I will have plenty of new books to get lost in once I am back in the States and check out the book shelves of my friends and family. 7 days...tick tock...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Miss M Turns 4!!

So, we celebrated Miss M on November 3rd in style. She woke up to her over-sized dollhouse that took lots of square meters out of Daddy's office, but it has been so worth it! She loves the dollhouse, even though the K Man broke the sink within 30 minutes of seeing the dollhouse. She has lots of dolls and Minnie's to play with inside of it, but she said she needs a pink sofa to go with it to match the purple sofa it came with. Since we have two small couches her dollhouse needs two small couches. If only our apartment was as big as her dollhouse... After birthday family fun, the K Man took a nap and Mama went to the party room to decorate and prepare for her Minnie-chan party. It was the first birthday party for her where I actually planned games and such and we had a lot of fun. Initially I was only going to invite four kids because she was turning four years old. It seemed reasonable at the time, but then she kept asking if so and so could come and well, I just could not resist it. So, we had 8 kids total that were Miss M's age along with parents and a few older siblings. Everyone seemed to have a great time. We started with a Cake Walk with Disney character sheets to walk on. When the "Hot Dog" song stopped, the kids froze and I picked a character. Whoever was standing on the character got a sticker. We also played Pin the Ring on Minnie Mouse. Then, we went on a scavenger hunt for Pluto's dog bones in the park behind our building. Please do not give me much credit - all I did was google Mickey Mouse Club birthday party games, found one fabulous blog of a mother who really out-shined me in her birthday preparedness, and I basically copied a few of her game ideas. I would have loved if she had come and just organized the entire party for me, but I do not know her and she lives some 7000 miles away. After the park fun, we came back in for cake and snacks. I planned the party from 3-5 so I would not have to do lunch or dinner. I basically loaded up the kids with sugar and then they went home with their parents. Now, for the cake, I had these high hopes of doing a Minnie cake, with a hairbow and all, but once Miss M saw the Minnie pan, she wanted to help decorate the cake. She wanted Minnie to be pink - full pink - with lots of candied Minnie's on top of her face. So, it was her party and this is what we did. Again, my cake did not look like what I saw on the internet, but Miss M LOVED it and that is all that matters. We cleaned up, loaded up the stroller with the goodies, and came home. As soon as we got inside the apartment, this mama crashed. I had woken up with a bad headache and sore throat and it only got worse throughout the day. It felt like someone was banging my head against the sidewalk. I fell asleep on the couch around 6:30 and did not wake up until 10 the next morning. Thankfully it was only a 24 hour bug and I was able to bathe the kids the next night. Lord knows for as much as the hubs works in this city, he cannot take off work because his wife is a bit sick. He does not even take off when he is sick, but that is a whole other post. Miss M is amazing...full of life, smiles and energy. She can be oh so dramatic and oh so sweet. Since her birthday she has continued to thank us for her dollhouse and tell us how much she loves us and her house. She loves the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (praise God for utube) and her imagination and commentary throughout the day often come from adventures that she has been on with Mickey. We are still happy with our decision to keep her out of yochien. Do not get me wrong, we have some bad days. Who doesn't? But our house is running a bit more smoothly and I am really enjoying my time with both of my kids and watching Miss M blossom. She is fairly bi-lingual now. It amazes me really. She will translate for me sometimes. English is obviously her first language, but when asked a question in Japanese she will answer in Japanese. She will even converse with me in Japanese. Her Japanese teacher is helping her write hiragana and she can read some words - she reads more Japanese words right now than English words. We are having some issues with being scared of the dark and wanting to come sleep with mama in the middle of the night. Some nights we work with her and she goes back to bed. Other nights I am too tired and she sleeps with us. Miss M, you are such a delight to be with each and every day. You amaze me. Just tonight you were so kind and loving to a friend who came to have dinner with us, hugging her and telling her she is welcome back anytime. We love you so much. Our lives have been so enriched having you in them. Happy Birthday sweet girl.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

18 Month/4 year old Stats

I took the kids to the doctor yesterday for their check-ups and immunizations. The K Man turned 18 months old today. He weighs in at a whopping 28 pounds (gained nearly 8 pounds in 6 months) and is 31.8 inches tall. The doctor tried to encourage me that he is growing by telling me he moved from the 10th percentile in height to the 30th, but he is still in the 75th percentile for weight. Now Miss M, on the other hand, gained one pound in a year. She weighs 34 pounds and is 39 inches tall. I think she said she was 55th percentile for weight and 40th for height. I cannot remember. Do those percentiles really mean anything? Any medical experts out there reading this? If so, let me know. Since I have a lot of birthday blogging to do in the next couple of days I will focus this check up post on the K Man. He can walk!! YAY! Walking makes the park much more fun. Today at the park we were playing hide and seek and when I would close my eyes to count he would start mimicking me. I would tell him to go find Miss M and he would go right to her because her hiding places are kind of out in the open. He does not talk much yet. He can say mama, doggie, dada, and ashi. We do not know what he means but he says it a lot. The other day it sounded like he said "nani" a few times which is "what" in Japanese. Hard to tell. Miss M does speak Japanese to him. Today she was being pretty sweet to him - holding his hand while he sat in the stroller and giving him a hug in the elevator. He loved it and when she stopped he would hold his hands out for more hugs. I love it when they are sweet to each other. They love to play together in the baths. They like to stand up and hold onto the edge and play the "splash splash game;" this is where they just run in place as fast as they can and try to splash as much as they can. One of these days are tub might fall through to the apartment below us. As you can tell there is not much the K Man won't eat, but he does not like watermelon or pear. He is learning or trying to use the fork and thinks he is hot stuff when he puts the food in his mouth with the utensils. I was too lazy to sign with him so when he wants more he lets you know by banging the table. I know, not good manners, but I just was lazy. I have said this before and I will be saying it again - he loves people, any kind, but especially the ladies. It is quite comical to watch him flirt on the trains. The apple does not fall far from the tree. K Man, we love you! You bring so much fun to our home. Happy 18 Month Birthday!

Happy Halloween

On actual Halloween night we went to hang out with some Aussie friends (the same ones we went to the beach with back in September). We took the kids trick-or-treating in their apartment building and then enjoyed a fabulous roast prepared by my friend. I say "we" meaning just the moms because all of the dads were still working. We opened some wine (because the dads were all working), had a dance party with the kids, ate some chocolate (because the dads were all working) and enjoyed good company. The apartment complex is pretty large but thankfully our children were too young to know that we did not hit the other two complexes for more candy. They got enough just going to the seven or so apartment we went to. One thing I learned that night is that Australians call a flashlight a "torch." That was new to me. I also learned that I have two really solid friends here in Tokyo. We have lots of friends here, but these two families feel like friends from home when we hang out. Like I said, one day, I will definitely be visiting Australia and will have people to visit!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

M-Fest Year 4!

So I guess Miss M is like her mama - she likes to celebrate her birthday for a week. Some friends of Kan from his old work wanted to throw her a small Minnie-chan party. They brought all of the food to our house and gifts - all we had to do was provide the apartment, drinks, and a green salad. To say Miss M was spoiled is a bit of an understatement. Just check out the cake they had made for her with her picture on it. We were really encouraged by their love for our kids. They got on the floor and played with them and showered Miss M with goodies and love for her birthday. It is hard to believe she will be four years old this Saturday. It is a week of milestones - the K Man turns 18 months on Friday, Miss M celebrates age 4 on Saturday, and hubby and I celebrate 7 years of bliss on Monday. We are truly blessed. On a different note, I met a friend for tea on Sunday before she moves back to Australia. One thing about being in a city like this, people come and go. It is very transient, at least among my foreign friends. In some ways, you could get depressed about it because you think just when you get to know someone they leave. But, if you want to see the glass half full rather than half empty, you can consider yourself extremely blessed to have been able to meet so many different people from all over the world. When I go visit Australia one day, because I will one day, I will have lots of friends to stay with and visit! We decided to go out in style and check out a famous French tea shop/restaurant called Mariage Freres. It was so fun! Especially when we took pictures and were told not to, but my friend continued to sneak a few more in there before we left. The dessert was fabulous, the tea divine, and the company terrific. It was definitely a treat and I look forward to trying it again some time.

Trick-or-Treat Fun

Our church put together a small trick-or-treat for the kids this past Friday night. I missed my Bikram yoga, but wouldn't you if you got to hang out with Minnie-chan and Pooh Bear? Are they not the cutest? We started off with a pizza party in the party room of our building. Then we went trick-or-treating. The best part of trick-or-treat here is that we only went to about 7 apartments in three different buildings, which means we do not have 300 pieces of candy for mama to "hide" from the kids and then eat herself after they go to bed. It was a fun night of fellowship with our Grace Kids!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Our Seasonal Visit to Tokyo Disneyland - Halloween 2012

This year for Halloween Miss M wants to be "Minnie Mouse" and wear a pink dress with white polka dots, white bloomers, and pink high heels just like Minnie. Thanks to Grandma, we got the costume, and wore it all day on Monday to our seasonal trip to Disneyland to enjoy the fall festivities. The highlight of Miss M's day was meeting Minnie in person and giving her a present, a coloring sheet of Minnie that Miss M colored herself. To see the joy on her face as she RAN to Minnie and hugged her was priceless. The second highlight was staying up late to see the electrical parade. We normally leave before the electrical parade, but ever since watching a video of it on my Iphone from when I went with cousin Shelbs without kids, Miss M has been asking to go. So, this day, I stayed. We went with some friends we met when Miss M was in yochien. It was fun to go with another mom and the kids really enjoyed themselves. We watched the parades, ate junk food and rode rides. I was surprised that the K Man enjoyed the rides too. He kept trying to spin us on the tea cups and Miss M kept reminding him that the tea cups makes mama sick. Kind of wish daddy had been with us to take them on that ride, especially since we rode it 3 times. Miss M went in the Cinderella castle this time, although she thinks it is Mickey and Minnie's castle. She is not really into princesses yet. She loved the castle and was asking if Minnie hung the drawing Miss M gave her on her bedroom wall. We spent 11 hours at the park. Miss M was so tired coming home that she fell asleep. I was afraid she was going to fall face forward out of the stroller. She went strong all day and had a blast. Today at BSF she was telling her teachers about it and her Japanese teacher as well. And the Minnie dress - we wear it every day at some point throughout the day. Once again, Disney did not disappoint us. We had a beautiful day to enjoy the sunshine, being outside, and most importantly one another. Love my sweet kids.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Scrapbook Day October 12, 2012

Scrapbook day for October fell on a Friday. Mondays and Fridays are our days where we have nothing planned in the mornings so I try to do a big outing - a big outing constitutes taking the train and not staying local (within walking or a bike ride distance) and usually involves taking a picnic lunch. Fall is finally here in Tokyo. The weather is fabulous - sunny, unless a typhoon is expected, and in highs around 70 degrees. Perfect. So, on October 12th we ventured out to the Ueno zoo. As I traveled to the zoo I was thinking back to my first time ever going to Ueno zoo. We were living in Tokyo for a short four weeks to "test the waters" and it was the one big thing I tried to do by myself. I did not have to change lines so I figured I could do it. Miss M was young, only 11 months old at the time, and I was determined to get back to our apartment for her nap. By the time I found the lift to take me from the station to the ground level, and then walked my way through the gigantic Ueno park to find the zoo, I spent like 40 minutes rushing through the zoo to see everything so I could get back to the apartment for her nap. My main goal in this first trip to the Ueno zoo was to see a panda, but the panda was not there at the time. So I bought a stuff panda and left the zoo. It was funny remembering that story on this adventure to the zoo. We currently live at the same station we lived at for our four week "visit." On that first visit, the train ride felt like an eternity because I did not know where I was going. However, this past Friday, it was old hat for me - only a 15 minute train ride - very doable with two little ones. I knew exactly where to go for the lift because we frequent this park a lot (not only do they have a zoo and great shaded walking areas, but it holds the National Science and History museum which is a hit with our kids), and I was at the zoo within 30 minutes of leaving my apartment. We took our time, saw the panda (because he or she is there now), ate a picnic lunch, played at a park outside the zoo, and made it home just in time for the K Man's nap (he fell asleep as soon as we walked inside our building). It was a fun day. We only went through half of the zoo because the K Man was getting restless in his stroller and there were loads of children around on a field trip so I did not want to take him out of the stroller for fear he would be trampled. But since the zoo is so close, so easy, and relatively inexpensive, I told Miss M we would head back on another Friday and see the animals we missed. While the K Man napped, Miss M and I did some "school time." We worked puzzles and did some coloring. Then she had her Japanese lesson and I was able to catch up on BSF. The late afternoon was filled with a walk outside by the river, throwing leaves in the river, making sure the K Man did not try to climb in the river, and preparing dinner. Our sitter came that night so that I could go to hot yoga and daddy worked late. Thankfully the kids love her so leaving was not an issue. And hot yoga - let me just say - you have to try it. Just once. If I could do it 4 times a week, I would. I love it that much. It is funny how in time our lives just drastically change. When I was here for those short four weeks, each outing seemed so daunting. Just riding the train one stop to the mall was a big deal for me. Now, I ride my bike to Ginza for hot yoga. Who would have thought? Two of my best friends from here and I got together this past weekend for Indian food and a girls night in while a husband was away. All of us came to Tokyo thinking we would only be here 2 years. We have all now been here more than 2 years and are not sure when we are leaving. We were talking about how we have to stop saying "I will wait until I get back" to our home country because we just do not know when that will be. We really need to be present here, in this fabulous city, and enjoy it to the fullest. It is hard to do in the day to day grind, but having people along the way who understand can help encourage you
as we try to do it together.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

I love all things fall - carving pumpkins, apple cider, pumpkin spiced lattes, jumping in piles of leaves, Saturday night football games, Keeneland (must live in Lexington to understand this), tailgating, smores...well, you get the point. I really love pumpkin patches. I used to have visions of our family going to the pumpkin patch every year, doing the hayride, picking out our family pumpkins, and carving them together that night. I say used to because, well, in Tokyo, although they celebrate Halloween and have decorations, you cannot find the pumpkin patch that I know and love. So, you make do with what you have and just be thankful there is a place called a Pumpkin Patch in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world. We decided to start October with a bang and go have a picnic at the pumpkin patch. For those of you in Tokyo, it is a ten minute walk from Shinkiba station. A friend told me about it last year and Miss M at the time was into Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin. She LOVED the pumpkin patch last year. In her mind, it is the only pumpkin patch, so it is pretty great. I have to remember to not tell her what pumpkin patches are like in my hometown. This is all she knows, and I love that this is what she knows, so we consider this our new pumpkin patch tradition. You do not take a pumpkin home, but you get to try on costumes and they had a kids singing show on the day we went. Now, we were in shorts and T-shirts because it was HOT (Tokyo has yet to learn that fall starts in September/early October), but we had a blast. Miss M liked having the K Man try on different hats and headbands. And she naturally LOVED getting to wear the Minnie Mouse costume. You know, I am so thankful that God has given us a pumpkin patch here in Tokyo. It is the little things like this He uses to encourage me. It may sounds strange, but it is as if He drops little tokens of love down for me through things like a Pumpkin Patch to make living in a foreign country a bit more like home. We are blessed, blessed indeed. Oh, and the K Man - He's walking!! Can you believe that? Not everywhere, but enough. We were afraid his legs were so big he could not hold himself up, but he finally did it this week. He will walk from Miss M to me and back to Miss M and give us both big hugs. Miss M tries to "help" by pushing him a bit, and he sometimes topples over, but he gets right back up and keeps going. Love my kids. More on that, but for now, enjoy the pics.