October 31, 2007

Happy Haroween

Yeah, I thought I'd be able to get out of it, too. Until I found out about the stake party and got invited by the Youchien moms to go trick or treating tonight.

So, what can I get at the hyaku-en store? Cat ears, eyeliner...Perfect. Two black cats. One was supposed to be a witch, but the hyaku-en shop sold out. Can you believe it?

The streets were packed with kids lining up for FREE CANDY!! Who cares if you can't really say "Trick or Treat"! It's all about the free candy.
Growling Kitties at home. I like these kind. No allergies.

Some of the kids from school.

Oh. And remember how our neighborhood is so posh and always getting filmed? One of the houses we trick or treated at was a famous comedian/tv star's. Jesse mentioned to some of the moms how we thought it was funny and we were probably passing celebrities all the time and having no clue. They laughed and said "yeah. one of the moms at school is a famous actress. s's mom. She just did a coffee commercial." Right. OK, I'm not even sure who S is. I'm assuming his mom is one of the ones who always looks good. I could be wrong, though. Maybe Yuki can come with me to pick up M some day and let me know.

On a completely other note...I have a case of coffee flavored soy milk that I need to pawn off on someone. Any suggestions? Illiteracy can cost you. Thought it was just soy milk. I also have a package of miso I don't think I ordered with my last grocery delivery, but was in my groceries. Jesse noted that they could be seriously fleecing me. Yup.

October 30, 2007

Undo Kai

I didn't post any pictures from Undo Kai (sports day festival) which was about two weeks ago. So now that we've finally set up my computer, thanks to our bishop's cast off keyboard and mouse, I'm getting back into my blog. M had fun on her big day. It's the youchien's biggest activity. The kids have been practicing their dances since school started back up this fall.

I woke up early that Saturday and started my rice cooker and got my oil frying for homemade chicken katsu. I made a huge bento for our family, only to see that most of the parents bought bentos or had pretty simple ones. Liana Otsuji said that at her Youchien, the bentos are a big deal and the women start on them a week ahead of undo kai. Kind of crazy.

The program consisted of lots of dancing and group games for the kids. I hear the undo kais in grade school get pretty competitive, but our stayed tame. Except for one dad who knocked his kid over with a mat accidentally while trying to win one of the games. It was pretty hilarious.

Another of the games had the parents playing jun ken po (paper rock scissors). If you lost, you had to go behind the person who won. We were a growing caterpillar. But get this. I kept winning. I was trying to lose, because I had no idea when to start and I had to introduce myself. I finally lost...to the overall winner.

I'll try and get a video together of the festivities. If you're ever in Japan on the second Saturday of October, I'd strongly suggest finding an undo kai. Very entertaining.The Caterpillar family. I love G's hand on my shoulder.

G's Penguin Club danced to the "Penguin Samba." I wasn't sure if she would wear the costume at the actual festival, so I snapped this. She surprised me and did come dance with me.

M and Uta, one of her English speaking friends. Her other cohorts are Shakira and Takuma. Uta's dad is American. Shakira's mom works in an English immersion school, and Takuma is only 1/4 Japanese, but has lived in Japan his whole life.

October 29, 2007

Bento II

Just to let you all know, the bento creations are getting a little better. I've figured a system. Rice with a package of Cinnamaroll furikake or bear/fish/elephant shaped onigiri (rice ball). Then I mix and match sausages, egg logs, hard boiled eggs (which can be pressed into the shape of a bear or rabbit), gyoza, mando, or something fried. Then for vegetables I put in soybeans, carrots (flowers or stars), or cucumbers. I throw some of the miffy fishcake in now. G thinks it tastes gross, but she wants it in her bento for the look.

We went to another dollar store and I got some cute animal shaped toothpicks and mini soy sauce bottles. I'm finding that I could spend a lot of money on these bentos. But it's so much fun!

October 23, 2007

hiking with Jesse

Our great friends the Cannells were so kind and watched the girls this weekend while Jesse and I had another fun adventure. We went hiking up in the mountains. I'll post the pictures and cross post Jesse's post where he tells you what we did.

I had so much fun. It was pretty heinous and I'm in horrible shape, but I managed not to die. I'd like to blame the altitude for my old lady pace (we were passed by several 60-70 year old ladies). I'm inspired to get some more cardiovascular exercise. I'm not used to mountain climbing. Jesse's a treasure. It was a blast and I can't wait until the kids are old enough to do this stuff with us.

I hope the pictures inspire some of you to come visit. This place is gorgeous.

We started by this lake

It snowed the night before. How cool for us!

The peak we didn't climb (see J's description for the whole story)

Us. See those pants, I put a huge rip in them. Good thing I lost weight so I could wear J's surf shorts out.

The valley we hiked out of. Gorgeous

Field Trip Day

Today was M's first field trip. The kids went to a farm in Chofu, about 1 hour away and picked sweet potatoes and daikon. She had a great time and looked so cute with her vegetables, I just had to show everyone. Don't you wish you had a kid in kindergarten in Japan?

Pa-Ma Miriam. Yeah, that's my horrible katakana. I had to make the bag at school and had a brain freeze on how to make the Ma so it's a little off.

Two of her approximately 6 kilograms of sweet potatoes. Yum. Guess what's baking in the oven as we speak. Any ideas what else we can do with them?

And lest we forget the tasty daikon that graces our floor right now. It's a beauty. It's huge. Wish we knew who to give it to because I don't really like daikon all that much. Nor do I know how to cook it.

October 16, 2007


When we were walking home from undokai on Saturday, Miriam said "do I have to go to school tomorrow? I really need a break." She then had a mini breakdown. She was tired, she'd been over excited. She'd been embarrassed. It had been a pretty full morning.

And then today, she asked if it was Saturday tomorrow. It's Wednesday and she had Monday off.

Today she got a bloody lip and some kid hit her in the back.

Can you guess that I'm having some major misgivings about sending her to school. The novelty has worn off.

I'm torn since I think she'll miss playing with her peer group if she stays home with me and G. But, of course, there's so much to learn from doing something that's incredibly difficult. The mother in me wants to protect her from these painful experiences. I can tell that a lot of her difficulties come from an inability to communicate. It's pretty bad when my Japanese is way better than hers.

I'm sure I'll take a wait and see approach, but any input on your kids' experiences with acclimating to school would be appreciated. (unless it's how uneventful and easy it was!)


We went to Fumika's place 2 weeks ago. We had so much fun at the park, at the zoo, and at her house. She made onolicious okonimiyake. YUM! Moving to Japan doesn't feel like much of an adventure when you have friends all over the place. But I don't mind one bit!

One more thing I love about Japan is the crazy dangerous parks. I'm sure they'd be banned in the states, too much of a liability, but I love it!

Thanks to Fumika for the pics. ps , pics later. not working right now.

October 10, 2007

I'm it

I like this voluntary tagging.
Ten years ago: I was in Wautaga, Texas with Jamie Lynn Huntsman my first companion. Jamie had gone into remission from leukemia and decided to go on a mission. She is one of my heroes. She died shortly after I returned from my mission.

Five years ago: We had just started our journey as graduate students. We lived in San Juan Capistrano (that's a whole other post) and Jesse commuted while I cleaned the ginormous house we were house sitting. M was just 8 months old, crawling and the hugest cutest baby ever! (until G, of course)

One year ago: In good old Irvine. Started taking the kids to Disneyland (now they wonder why we don't go here. Hello, it's sooooooo expensive. And that's just the train ride to get there!). M had Joyschool twice a week with the twins, and girls from the other stake. G was 1 almost 2. Jesse was getting ready to take his exams. That sucked!

Yesterday: Went to Costco with new friend Kara who is childhood friend of sister in law Amy. Small world? Better believe it. Been eating Kirkland chocolate covered raisins like they might disappear tomorrow. At this rate, they have 2 weeks. Major disappointment was no mini wheats. Breakfast has been a battle with G who is a bit finicky in the am.

5 snacks I enjoy: m&m's, chocolate covered raisins, half frozen lychee (absolutely delicious), frosted senbei, korean style seaweed (sesame oil and salt. yum)

5 things I would do with a million dollars: repaint our apartment, pay off Pam's house, buy an electric bike, go to Portugal again, put the rest in the bank.

5 places I would run away to: Alaska, UK, Papua New Guinea, Greenland, Antarctica

5 tv shows I like: The Office (too bad I haven't seen any of this season since NBC won't let you watch if you're out of the states. I'm not bitter. I'm just plain angry!), Anything free on itunes, Arrested Development, Let's Learn English

5 Things I hate doing: washing dishes, leaving friends, putting kids to bed, watching M look lost at school, feeling guilty.

Biggest Joys of the Moment: M is learning to read! We're on lesson 24 of Teach your child to read and there are fewer tears and way more successes! I have an oven. I have a washing machine in my apartment. I'm making friends. Life feels like it's almost normal again.

You're tagged! If you want.

Everything Miffy?

Ok, I found this site while I was googling "Miffy fishcake." Right. So first, the site is of a lady in Hawaii who makes an intricate bento every day. She's pretty amazing. M would be in heaven if I could make a bento half as fun as these are.

And second, the Miffy fishcake. This Christmas, Amy found some Miffy-ware at Marukai and said that "she loves everything Miffy." Now, I want to know if that means everything. Including the Miffy fishcake that I will be purchasing this next week. Yes, it's fishcake that when sliced is adorable Miffy smiling from your bento. M put in a special request for said fishcake, and at only 168 yen, (about $1.50) how could I deny her. I can't find an image online for you, but just use your imagination. Usual round fishcake is white, with a little pink. Just imagine a slice of fishcake with Miffy's kawaii image on it. Ta-da. There you have it. And in just two weeks (that's how long it will take to order it from the co-op deli grocery delivery service) it will be in M's bento.
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