Friday, February 28, 2014

More January Fun

I know those of you in the Southeast will not like me when I say this, but we have had some fabulous weather lately. It is not warm but it is definitely not freezing cold with snow like the folks are having back home. Tomorrow it is supposed to be 58 and sunny! We have been having lots of fun this month, besides from the face that the K Man got the flu. I think we caught it pretty early and he only had 24 hours of a bad fever. However, it kepts us in our house or nearby for five days. Thankfully we have a park right behind our building so we spent  a lot of time racing on our scooters and getting some fresh air and vitamin D. Last Friday, we ventured out to a museum since Miss M did not have swimming in the afternoon. We explored the Sony Explora Science Museum in Odaiba. I walked in and thought the kids would not last long because it was a pretty dark room. But once they got involved, they seemed to enjoy themselves. It had some cool things like recording your voice and playing it back in funny voices. They also had devices to show you how cell phone signals work through a tower image and a piano you could play. It was small enough that we could get through it fairly quickly. Afterwards we found a new ice cream shop, well new to us. It was a frozen yogurt shop where you make your own ice cream and add toppings to it. I know these are pretty popular back in the US but it was the first time for us to see one of these shops here in Tokyo. So, this is what we have been up to...what have you been up to?

More February Fun

Before we head for our family fun weekend in the snow tomorrow, I thought I should update with some more pictures of February fun. Daddy went to play in the snow up in Hokkaido last week (where he went to a bar/restaurant made of ice - pic below) so the kids slumbered with Mama. However, the K Man lost his opportunity one night by not letting the rest of us sleep, so instead he slept in Miss M's big girl bed! I think he is due for a big boy bed. He has been complaining of being scared of his crib and waking up consistently through the night for about 3 weeks now. Bunk beds are in our near future! I am still trying to obtain to the notion of staying home more. I find on the days we are home, playing in a local neighborhood park or play area, or simply staying put in home, mama is a much better mama. We do lots of extracurricular activities right now so it helps when that is our only activity for the day. Sometimes it cannot be helped, like when we wanted to go ice skating one last day before the outdoor rink closed which meant a morning and afternoon activity. However, I do find that when I do that, I am tired and worn out and fatigue is never good for this mama. This week we made forts with pillows, did some painting, wrote lots of stories (Miss M is into writing "books" and she draws with them, telling me she wants to be an author one day), made our first "selfie" on the train to Bible study, had an indoor picnic, and used the cushionless couches as  our "houses" where the kids stored plenty of toys and pretended to go back and forth to each others' homes and ring the doorbell. We have enjoyed the park behind our building for scooter time and bike riding time after lunch on warmer days, and just the other day ran into some old yochien friends so while the kids rode bikes and scooters, the mamas chatted a bit. They all want me to teach them English and I want to take Japanese a little bit more seriously, so I am trying to figure out how that can be worked out so we all benefit! I just finished a great book called The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. This was my first book of hers that I had read and I really enjoyed it. I hope to read more of her books, but in the meantime I am going to start Bread and Wine : A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes. I love to host even though I am an introvert and get re-energized by time to myself (maybe that is why at the end of the party I am at the sink washing dishes by myself while everyone else is sipping I can decompress a bit) so I think this book will be a fun read for me. My sister-in-law recommended it to me and we both share a love of reading so I am diving into it, finally! This about covers it for us...just wanted to post before we head away as I know I will have loads of fun snow pics to showcase when we get back. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 14, 2014, Scrapbook Day and Valentine's Day all in one

So, Scrapbook day this month fell on Valentine's fun! The husband was actually supposed to go out on the town this night with some friends in from Oz, but a snow storm kept him home. Since it was Friday, we started our morning with the K Man's music class and Miss M's Japanese class. Then we joined some friends for lunch at one of our favorite bakeries. We came home for some hot cocoa and to warm up before our next adventure to Miss M's swim lesson. Thankfully daddy worked from home so the K Man could nap while Miss M and I went to swimming. We walked about halfway and then she asked for a taxi. I cannot say I blamed her. The snow was coming down pretty hard and it was a wet rain/snow. We came home from swimming, had nice long warm baths, and enjoyed some leftovers. Nothing fancy. I was not expecting daddy to be home so I had not prepared much. The night before we had a pizza Valentine party with some friends from church. The mamas chatted while the kids watched Charlie Brown's Valentine special and played. The K Man and daddy brought flowers home for Miss M and I. Overall, it was a pretty nice Friday and a pleasant surprise to have daddy home due to the snow. 

Miss M recently has been interested in helping wash dishes and I have let her. She does a pretty good job and since I do not have a dish washer, it helps mama out. She only does plastic plates and cups, but it is fun for her. The K Man wants to do it as well so we let him think he is washing dishes without turning on the water. That would be a disaster. 

Last night the husband and I had the pleasure to see Eric Clapton in concert. I had gotten tickets for us for Christmas and the show was last night. It was a great show; it is hard to believe he is nearly 70 years old. What I loved about his performance is that he made it look so smooth and effortless. It was as if he was alone with his music rather than thousands of people listening to him. He was lost in his music and he truly is an amazing guitarist. We have gotten to see some pretty great shows here - James Taylor, Nora Jones, Aerosmith, and now Eric Clapton. With the exception of Aerosmith, the people attending have always stayed in their seats. These concerts are the most civilized concerts you will ever attend. They always start exactly at 7PM and end exactly at 9PM. Last night, everyone stayed in their seats until the last song...they stood up and danced and sang to "Cocaine." We got a good kick out of that. 

We have had more snow than usual. I know it is nothing compared to what people are getting back where we are from in the US, but for us, it has been more than usual. However, I know spring is just around the corner and we will be able to enjoy picnics and sakura. The kids have loved playing in the snow which is fun for daddy since he loves snow too. Mama enjoys the hot cocoa when we come back inside! Enjoy some recent pictures of the kids and Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

First Snow

We had our first major snow fall for the winter this past weekend. I know my friends in Kentucky are screaming at me right now. They are all so tired of the cold and snow. But for us, in Tokyo, we rarely get this kind of snow. It was the most snow Tokyo had seen in I think 10 years and we got close to four inches. I am not a huge fan of snow, but thankfully my husband is. We woke up to find the snow falling on Saturday and it simply kept coming all day long. We let the kids play in it on the balcony in the morning while we sipped coffee and I made a new coffee cake recipe. After lunch, we loaded them in their gear and took them outside. We have a small park behind our building with a nice open field. The snow made great snowballs and snowmen. Funny though...we were the only ones throwing snowballs. Everyone else was working on snowmen and making sure not to use too much of the snow and share with everyone else. They are just so polite here. After four years, it still surprises me sometimes. Miss M enjoyed going down the slide on the playground as the snow had piled up at the bottom to make her slide a bit further. The K Man liked eating the snow. The kids really enjoyed it and stayed in it for about a hour. When they came in, Mama was already inside and I made them some hot cocoa with oversized marshmellows. Then they took a nice warm bath and we fixed warm nabe for dinner. It was a great Saturday at home and we all slept very well that night. 

I mentioned we have been here now four years. We came with the mindset of being here 2, maybe 3 years, and now we just celebrated our fourth anniversary in Tokyo. It is hard to believe. This city and country has been pretty good for us. Everything that I love about it is also what drives me nuts too. It reminds me of that saying "Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness." I often have a love/hate relationship with Tokyo. I am either really loving it, the food, the culture, the lights, the pace, the people, the cleanliness, the effeciency...or I am really despising it with thoughts like "if only I had a car, if only I had a house, if only I had a backyard, if only I could READ (because yes I feel illeterate and have a much deeper appreciation for being taught how to read in English after living somewhere where I cannot read)" and on and on. If we are all honest with ourselves, we probably all have these type of conversations. As my husband gently reminds me, once we move back to the US (and no, we do not know when God will lead us back that way but we both still desire it at this point) there will be something there that I will complain about. We, humans, we just are never truly satisfied, are we? We always want more or think "if I just get this, then I will be happy." Until we learn contentment and satisfaction in Christ, only then will we experience true joy, true happiness, true rest and true satisfaction deep in our hearts. This, my friends, is a very very hard lesson for me to learn. 

Mama's Weekend Away

February started off right with Mama getting a bit of respite on a women's retreat/weekend away. A friend invited me to a women's conference and graciously offered to pay my way. The conference was centered around Psalm 23, Going Through the Valley, and I was really looking forward to hearing a speaker in native English and singing praise and worship songs in English. The conference was okay. I think coming from fabulous women's conferences from my home church in Kentucky I had a really high expectation, so I came away to be honest a bit disappointed in the "meat" of the conference. However, the weekend away was a much needed respite. On the drive there we got a bit lost, but saw some beautiful views of Mt. Fuji and mikan (clementine) fields. I also had to get a picture of the bathroom guide at the rest highlighted what bathrooms were in use and also what type of bathroom was available. Only in Japan. I love the highway rest areas can get anything from hot ramen to Starbucks and high quality/clean bathrooms with even a dressing room. 

My roommates were all about 10-15 years older than me and fabulous women, seasoned in life, with wide varieties of life experiences. I learned so much from them just by staying in the room talking at night. I had some free time on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed a walk to a beautiful waterfall and saw some wasabi plant growing. I had no idea wasabi started off as a green plant in water. I also laid on my futon a lot and simply read a book. It was fabulous. I have been away before for the weekend...remember Seoul in May of 2013? But that was so so busy. We had 48 hours in a fabulous city and wanted to see as much as we could and eat as much as we could in 48 hours. I came back from that trip physically worn out. This weekend away was much more restful. There was not much to see in the countryside except the said waterfall and wasabi plants, and that took about 30 minutes to get to and back. I rested well, did not wash one dish in 48 hours, and came back excited to see my kiddos and hubby. What did I learn most...that this mama needs a weekend like that once a year, simply to refresh.