Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sanrio Puroland - aka, Hello Kitty EVERYWHERE!

So, Japan is home to Hello Kitty which means naturally there is a Hello Kitty LAND! It has been on my list of places to take the kids since we moved here, but it is not easy to get to. You have to go to Shinjuku (aka, massive amounts of people, trains with little elevator access) and get on a JR train and go west of Tokyo. I just avoid Shinjuku at all costs unless I can ensure the hubs is with me to help me navigate. So, yesterday when my friend offered to drive us to Hello Kitty land on the downpour rain day we were having, I easily agreed. The thought of being in the small apartment all day watching the rain did not appeal to me, so off to Sanrio Puroland we went with our friends from BSF. Folks, it was a lot of Hello Kitty. And that is ok. When you go to Disneyland, you expect lots of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. I expected lots of Hello Kitty at Hello Kitty land. What I did not expect were the amount of couples there on a date, sitting in each others' laps during the main parade. I also did not expect grown adults there, by themselves, getting annoyed by children standing up in front of them so that they could not see the parade and video it. Let's just say many Japanese people love their characters and they take them VERY seriously. Hello Kittyland is mostly shows. They have one boat ride that is quite good, and we rode it 4 times! But that is about it. They have areas you can walk through where the characters are making juice or ice cream, and if you turn around you will find a juice or ice cream vending machine to buy some for yourself. The shows are not fact the Kitty in Wonderland show reminded me of Hello Kitty meets Las Vegas, but not in a good way. My friend heard that the dancers do some risky moves to keep the fathers a bit entertained for the day. I could see that in the performance. But my kids loved it and we had fun. We got to check it off our list and not change trains in Shinjuku or get wet in the process so that was an added blessing.

June Fun

Summer has been off to a fun start. We have done an indoor play cafe with lunch with our friends from BSF. We have been doing our weekly Tuesday play dates with the neighbors. We had a slumber party with our friends from Australia while both husbands were out of town and watched Alice in Wonderland. Mama got to sit in on ballet class and take pictures. We get to do this four times a year so it was a treat. We have also been having dinner with a Japanese friend from church and her family quite a bit. She recently had a baby girl so it started with me taking her a meal, cooking it at her house, and watching the baby while she picked up her boys. Miss M had such a fun time that she now asks me when we are going back to their house. I am thinking we will do this more (we have done it now 3 times so I am kind of running out of things to cook for all of us). I am so glad she will be on maternity leave for a year and we can deepen our friendship even more. And I love seeing the kids develop such sweet and fun friendships. Enjoy the fun June pics.

June 13, 2013, Scrapbook Day

Our Scrapbook day for June fell on a Thursday. Usually on Thursday mornings we hang out with our Australian friends because the little boy is off school. This Thursday was no exception. We met the boys and their mom at the climbing gym near our house. Another mom and her two little ones came along too - she has a 2 year old boy and a 4 year old girl and is from America. What is nice about this particular day is we met a new friend who is NOT MOVING anytime soon. The girls got along great and Miss M was so happy to meet a new friend. She will be doing drama camp with these two friends later in August so that will be fun for her. I have been pretty sad lately as I am finding more of my friends are leaving Tokyo. Remember our little Japanese party we had in our flat with the friends we play with every Tuesday? Well, our host for Tuesdays is moving back to Hokkaido in August. This really came as a shock to me because I do not expect my Japanese friends to move. So, on scrapbook day, when I met a new friend, I was very thankful - it gave me a little bit of hope in a dark place with so many dear people moving in the course of the next six months. We came home from the climbing gym and lunch and the K Man napped while Miss M had piano. We started her in piano and she really seems to be enjoying it. I hope my kids get their music ears from their dad and his side of the family. After piano we worked on our kiwi craft (thanks Mel for the tip and thanks Mom for sending them to us each month). Each month we get a craft sent to us to do. What I love about this is the instructions and supplies are all in the box. You literally do not have to do anything. For this month we grew beans and squash. Unfortunately the K Man tipped over the squash and it did not really grow. However, the bean sprout did. The craft said to transplant it to your backyard. Well, we have no backyard. Miss M said, "maybe we should plant it in the nikai park (the park on the second floor behind our building which I refer to as our "backyard")." I thought about trying it but in Tokyo, you never know if you would be breaking a rule doing that and I did not want to get into trouble. A friend of mine passed on a pot with soil to me over the weekend and we finally transferred it on our balcony. However, I think we may have been a bit too late on the transfer as it does not seem to be growing as well. Oh well. We tried. And we can use the pot to try to plant something else. After the K Man took his nap, we were out the door again to sports class. I think it was raining on this day which is never fun. We are in the rainy season and it is just a pain - trying to push a stroller with two kids, carry bags and hold an umbrella is not easy. I recently bought a rain overcoat fairly cheaply to get me through the rainy season as it is pointless trying to hold the umbrella while I push the stroller. I guess I should not complain because before I know it the rain will be gone and the heat on the concrete will be horrendous and I will be wishing for rain to cool me off a bit. That was our Thursday on this month - and it is fairly consistent with a typical Thursday. I thought on the scrapbook days I would add a few thoughts on what is going on in my little world. I have been trying recently to eat more "real" foods. I made some black bean brownies with maple syrup - no flour, no sugar - and they were delicious. My kids eat them and do not know the difference. Tomorrow I am going to try using chick peas as a base for flourless chocolate chip cookies and trick the kids. We will see if it works. I just want to be healthier - for me, my husband, and our kids. I would love the benefits of losing a few pounds too, but I just had been feeling blah lately and I thought if I take out some of the bad white stuff I might feel better all around. It has helped. I notice my moods are elevated and go back down when I cave and eat white sugar or white junk. We switched to brown rice, in JAPAN, which is almost unheard of. My husband is growing to like it. The kids do not like it, but one day they will. We switched to brown pasta - and nobody can tell a difference. I am making spaghetti sauce rather than buying the Japanese version of prego. It is not as sweet but I feel better knowing there are carrots and celery in it, even if the kids do not eat the celery. I am making smoothies every morning - with some green lettuce in it. Miss M will not drink them but the K Man loves it, which I am glad. I wish I could say I have switched and am 100 percent real food...not there yet...but I am trying. I just want to set a better example for my kids. They still have their treats - Miss M loves suckers. (If anyone knows how to make those "real," HA, let me know!) But I am just trying in the areas I know I can. For fun reading I am in the middle of The Lost Boy by Camilla Lackberg. She is a Swedish author and this is the fourth book of hers that I have read. This one has been a bit slower for me than the others, but I recommend her books. They are mystery type books and pretty easy reads for before bed. I also just finished the book Seven by Jen Hatmaker. My American MIL sent it to me for my birthday. I was talking to her last night about the book and was telling her there was so much in it that I do not know where to start in my own life. The book is about excess and how we live in excess. The author did an experiment in her own life to see how she can cut the excess out of her life. For example, for four weeks she ate only 7 foods. One month, she had to limit her shopping to 7 stores. One month was about media- no facebook, blogging, twitter, internet - she could only check email. As I told my husband about this one, he said we would last about 10 minutes. So, the book was a lot to digest because I was finished with it thinking to myself "there is so much I could change that would be beneficial to my life and happiness but I am not sure what to do or where to start." As I discussed this last night with my MIL she mentioned just doing baby steps. For her, it is taking the time to recycle more. I decided for me I was not going to have phones or Ipads near the dinner table. If the kids cannot have toys at the dinner table, my husband and I should not be reading the recent news at the dinner table. I would like to take it a step further and not be on the internet while my kids are awake. I just get sucked in and it takes away valuable time from them. Another baby step is buying things - every time we go to Disneyland or Hello Kitty land (we went there yesterday for the first time - a post will come soon) I let Miss M pick out one thing. Well, actually going to these places is a treat and luxury. We do not need to set the expectation that we buy something each time. So, on July 17th when we go to Disney Sea with friends, we will not be buying anything "extra." Or if we do, it will be to give away to someone who needs it or does not have much. I have more, but I am tired so it is time to get off the computer. Happy June!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Disneyland, 30th Anniversary Celebration

Tokyo Disneyland celebrated its 30th birthday this year and we decided we needed to take part in the celebration. I know reading this blog you must think I go to Disneyland like every week. It may seem like it to you, and I know we have been way more than the average American since we live 30 minutes away door to door depending on the length of strollers waiting on the elevators. But we had not been since October, and for us, this is a long time. I like to take the kids for the different seasons because Tokyo Disney does such a fabulous job of celebrating and decorating different seasons. My favorite season is the Christmas season because instead of hearing Mary Poppins over the loud speaker you hear Christmas music ALL DAY LONG! Back to this post, we went to Disney this past Friday - just me and the kids - and we had a fabulous time. Lots of my friends could not believe I went by myself with both the kids, but to be honest, it was like a one day vacation. We left before they could destroy anything in the house and we got home in time for bed so I came home to a clean house and clean dishes from breakfast. Someone else cooked for me and entertained my kids all day, so it turned out well for me. The hardest part was using the bathroom, all three of us, together. That made for some interesting conversations. The kids love Disney. Even the K Man is getting into it. We have our own little system. We do not arrive as soon as the park opens. We take our time in the morning and get there around 10:30. My kids are not yet interested in the rides with fast passes so there is no reason to rush the day, especially when we live nearby and can go whenever we choose. We ride a few rides, have lunch, ride a few more rides, find a bench to watch the afternoon parade and eat a snack, ride a few more rides, have dinner, buy our token gift for the day, and go back to the same bench to watch the electrical parade. As soon as those final lights pass by, we are near the front of the park and we exit immediately to head home, usually home by 8:45. This past Friday was no exception. Miss M wanted to get a photo with Minnie, but the line was a bit long so I convinced her to wait another time when daddy can come with us and stand in line while we go and ride things until our turn. The kids LOVE the tea not so much...but I ride them because that is what a mom does when daddy cannot come along. Thankfully they have yet to figure out how to spin it too fast. We ride the same rides - tea cups, small world, merry-go-round, and Dumbo. Then we venture to Cartoon land and walk through all of the houses - Minnie's house, Chip and Dale's tree house, and Daisy and Donald's boat. We have not waiting in the 80 minute line to do Mickey's house and get our picture with him. I tried to get Miss M to do Goofy's new house this past time, but she wanted to go back to Small World. It looked fun, but not so fun as to pick a fight over her with. There is a reason they call Disneyland a magical just is. You can see it from the looks in their eyes.