January 31, 2008

They Say It's M's Birthday

A good number of you were there 6 years ago when not so little M came into the world. Her birth was quite the spectacle with friends and relatives dropping by. And even a stranger or two. She did manage to come out and my how she has grown these last few years. The ultrasound taken the day before she was born made me gasp "I'm going to give birth to my husband!" Not only does she look like him, she acts like him, too. Both wake up with a grump and a grumble, want everything to be fair, are awful patients, and are incredibly shy. Miriam is also incredibly sweet and guileless. She also has a near photographic memory, an amazing recall of people and events. We love this little girl and we're glad she's a part of our family. Her sister, by the way, absolutely worships her.

First birthday! Were you there?

2 1/2 years old here. Is that Robbie's knee? M is wearing the outfit I was blessed in.Back from Taiwan with cousins. Her new baby sister. She was and still is an amazing older sister. I often envy the girls and their relationship (all brothers for me).
M's tanjoukai (birthday party at school). She was so shy, and had this face on practically the whole time, but actually enjoyed herself immensely.

January 30, 2008


The weather turned today. It's warmed up a bit and the sun shone warmly for a few hours. I sat on the carpet basking in the sliver of sunlight this afternoon. I actually felt warm in my home for the first time in weeks.

This is my first winter in 14 years! I guess I did have one on my mission, though I was in southern Portugal. I'm not sure if that counts. It has been a LONG time since I've donned gloves and hats and even a coat. Lately, I felt like they're a permanent fixture. The first week was fun and novel. The novelty is over. We're ready for spring, ready for those hot summer days (which will come in full force in no time at all!).

Jesse and I have agreed that we never want to experience winter like this again. If we do, I'd insist on central heating, insulation, some electric blankets, and maybe even heated floors. I'm warming up just thinking of the list. What about a wood stove? Marshmallow anyone?

January 23, 2008

Watch Jesse Dive

I used to be super embarrassed how Jesse dumpster dives. It's in his blood. His Dad broke (or bruised, I'm not sure which) a rib dumpster diving. J's really proud of that fact. He's even taught M to look at the side of dumpsters for treasures. She'll tell you that's where she found her suitcase. He's found futons and blankets, pots and pans, dishes, even a Spider Man figurine (saving us at least $250). To say nothing of the stuff he found in California. I wouldn't even know where to start. Maybe with the wood he built our desk with, or the boxes we packed our things in, or the cool brown shirt that Brooke's brother is now wearing.

I decided that I would be much more embarrassed if we were dodging bill collectors, chronically borrowing money from relatives, or thousands of dollars in credit card debt. I will however, leave him to dive on his own. Especially in Japan. But I will eagerly await a look at his treasures when he comes home!

Statuary of Takao-San

Foo Dog

And Tengu

Cook's Illustrated video podcast

Everyone who loves Cook's Illustrated has got to check out their video podcast on itunes. Of course their website is fun as well. They're looking for people to test their recipes. Maybe when we get back, but in the meantime...Rena? Da? How about cooking for a good cause?

January 22, 2008


A mountain close to us, part of the quasi-national forest we hiked on Saturday. I love quasi-hiking with the family.

There were several temples on the mountain. G had to ring each bell on each of the 10+ shrines by wildly swinging the rope.

There was just a dusting of snow at the higher elevations. But it doesn't take much for the snow starved J and kids to make a snowman. It was mostly M's project, hence the proud look on her face.

So this hike was one of those death march/character building experiences for all. The kids whined, we didn't pack enough snacks, forgot to get hiking treats, crowded trails. But a few days distance with just pictures to remember it by and I'm almost ready to go again. It's great getting out of the city.

January 21, 2008

Setagaya Antique Fair

The RS went last week on a little excursion to the antiques fair. I didn't find any antiques, but I did find these:

A new apron for me. I think it's an apron dress, but not for me. I'm thinking of how I can alter the back . Now it's a full panel, but I think I'll make ties. It will have to wait some months for my sewing machine, though.
This is to tie around a kimono, but I just liked the fabric. I'll make a runner for a bookcase or small table.
And this is a kimono. I bought it for the fabric. I'm thinking of collecting a couple of kimonos to make a quilt with.

Fabric fun

Amy introduced me to fun Japanese fabrics. I paced myself and only bought 3 prints. I'm planning on making a few more trips to the fabric stores. I plan on getting some oilcloth that is simply delicious.
I'm thinking of making sundresses for the girls with the sleeping beauty fabric.
And what to do with these two? I can imagine making library bags, church bags, aprons... See. I have to go back for more now!

January 17, 2008

Laundry Day

Was yesterday. And the day before, and the day before... I'm amazed by the number of socks we go through. We wear shoes here. It's a new sensation for all of us. I love having a washing machine in the house. We even have a dryer in the building if I need one. I've lived in student housing way too long if I think this is luxury!

Red Shoes

J got these beauties for Gigi on her birthday. She fell in and out of love with them in the matter of a week or so. I have a feeling they are a bit tight on her toes

January 16, 2008

Sorry J, no vegetarians here.

Jesse to the kids. "Hey guys, do you want to be vegetarians?"
M- "What does that mean?"
J-"It means we don't eat any meat."
G- "Ha-Ha! That's so funny!"

January 15, 2008

No hot summer days here.

photo by adam
Our M is learning to read and write. The other day she surprised me by asking me to help her write "hot summer days." After helping her sound out the words and write them in her little book she said, "You know why I wanted to write hot summer days? When it's really cold, I can look at my book and remember Hot Summer Days." Then she gave me the "isn't that the best idea ever?" look.

You have to realize that her bedroom has taken on meat locker frigidity. Jesse wears his down jacket when he reads to M at night. I tried to put G back in her bed last night. She woke up screaming "don't make me sleep here! I don't want to sleep in my bed! I want to sleep in your bed!" Who wouldn't feel that way after cuddling under a down filled blanket with the heater on. The kids' room only has an air conditioner and is naturally the coldest room in the house. There's the space heater option (expensive and dangerous), the electric blanket option (also expensive and dangerous since one of them has a wetting problem (could it be because it's freezing in their room?)), but we're going for the tough it out option and/or the just sleep in our room on a futon option. Only problem is that the kids snore.

Oh for those hot summer days!

Temper, temper

Ok, I can't believe I'm publishing the fact that I check out Dr. Phil online to my family and friends. Jesse says that now you'll know I'm white trash. Um. I'm from Roseburg. If you didn't know, you do now.

But I had to post a link to this article about stopping temper tantrums. Because it works! Quick overview: Toddler=caveman. Use short phrases. Use tons of repetition. Use a lot of emotion/enthusiasm. Exaggerate your expressions.

I find this method hardest in the morning. "You want frosted flakes! You WANT frosted flakes! YOU WANT FROSTED FLAKES!" It takes A LOT of energy to pull it off in the morning. But the rest of the day, it's kind of fun. I feel less stressed out by their tantrums because 1. I'm letting them know I hear them and 2. I feel that as I verbalize for them, I'm giving them ownership of their feelings and I'm not responsible for that. I've noticed the tantrums have gone down in frequency and duration in the past few weeks.

I'm still not sure about what to do when G says "Yeah. You hear me. So give me what I want!" But she can't have it. Suggestions?


Christmas this year was full of gifts and giving. We bombarded the kids with dolls, ponies, doll house furniture, blocks, and art supplies. M decorated a dollar store box for Jesse. She pasted pictures of onsen and flowers and a picture of Jesse with her. We enjoyed the gift of time with family. The gift of cousins. Giving the kids so many gifts was especially fun because they didn't ask for any of them except the ponies. Until we opened presents Christmas morning, the whole focus had been on celebrating the birth of Christ and giving.

The gifts Jesse chose for me have been amazing. We thought my ipod died, so he got me a nano (the old one resurrected at the mac store. Go figure.) M listens to stories when we have long train rides. Sometimes G listens along, and sometimes she just enjoys our undivided attention. I listen to Wait..wait or Fresh Air while I'm laying down with G at night. I look forward to cuddling with her and no longer resent that she doesn't fall asleep by herself. And sometimes I do my chores while listening to music.

Which brings me to my second gift. A diving watch. After numerous sports watches, the last one pink with velcro ( i loved it, but the velcro had worn off and it looked less than chic at church.) Jesse and I found a watch on Amazon, silver link, feminine, and mom friendly. Which means I can clean the tub, give kids a bath, wash clothes and dishes and not worry about my watch band getting wet or the innards giving up. My happiest moment after Christmas was when we were watching our friends' kids. Their three boys and our two girls were wrecking havoc, and I stood over the sink listening to Johnny Cash REAL loud washing a HUGE sink full of dishes. And I couldn't help thinking how perfect Christmas was this year.

January 13, 2008

My lips love...

Megan's goal to wear makeup reminded me that I wanted to post about this lipstick Amy gave me last Christmas. I actually like it enough to get another color, even though it costs $20 ( I have the color pictured).

The selling point...it stays on forever. REALLY. I mean forever. As in I'm wiping off residue on my towel the next day. I don't reapply the lip gloss portion, just slap some carmex on when the lips get a little dry. I want to get another color that's not quite so bold, better for everyday. It's called MAC Pro Longwear, by the way.

January 12, 2008


This one reminds me of photos from the Kula Manu. (BYUH's literary journal)

One of my goals this year is to take more pictures. I'd love to hear which ones you like and why. I'm curious what people find pleasing to the eye. And now I'll prepare my lesson for Relief Society, which is what I should have been doing the last hour.

Disney Sea

Way cooler than Disneyland! There's a castle you can explore, Ariel's undersea caves to get lost in, and tons of benches and trash cans (unlike anywhere else in Tokyo). We had a ton of fun, got really tired, and are glad we can say we went.

I loved the Arabian Coast portion of the park. M is riding a genie on the double decker carousel.

Near the entrance, good ol' Walt can get tulips to bloom in January. You have to love landscaping like this. My next favorite landscaping was in Ariel's grotto where they grew salad lettuce. No kidding. Ben and I were both tempted to make a little side dish right there by the kiddie roller coaster.

And right before we left, notice the smiles/grimaces on Jesse's and the kids' faces. This is what family memories are made of. WE HAD FUN *&^%! RIGHT?

Sumo Practice

My brother Ben and I went to sumo practice earlier this week. It was definitely worth getting up at 6:30. If you're planning a trip to Japan, check out the Quirky Japan Homepage. This is where we found out about sumo practice and the Minkaen. We stayed until 10 am. I'm so looking forward to the next tournament that starts tomorrow!

January 6, 2008


Today I made sukiyaki for dinner and it turned out great! Perfect winter food. I wish I had taken a picture of it. The kids even liked it! I put cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, salmon, pork, little clams, gyoza, and noodles.

But I can put some pictures up of the matsuri food we saw yesterday.

The gyoza challenge plate with 100 gyoza or you could choose the GIANT gyoza. It makes me nauseous just looking at it. I had to put M in the picture for perspective. If you eat the whole thing, it's free.

January 3, 2008

Red Bags

Spendy bag #1 Spendy bag #2

We live on such a ritzy street, that sometimes I just can't help myself and covet the wares in the stores. We have two luxury handbag stores and I was taken aback by a red bag in the window. I realized how much I didn't need a red handbag priced at 345000 yen ($3000 US), but how much I wanted one. Yikes. You must look at these though. Wouldn't it be FUN to have such a cool bag?

So I looked at Target.com and was impressed with their red bag offerings. For my stateside friends, do take a look. What a fun way to put some pop in your day. The el cheapos are below and cost from $13-$40 US. Not too bad.

January 2, 2008

Little G is Three

I've taken the year off for birthdays. Last year M had a birthday party with 30+ people. This year I didn't even wrap G's presents. On the day of her birthday she was sick and spent most of the day sleeping on my lap. I think that was a present for me.

But now that she's better she wants to know why daddy got a cake and she didn't. I guess I'll bake her a little cake. It's not every day you turn 3. She woke up in the middle of the night and said "is it still my birthday? I'm still three, right?" And then promptly fell back asleep.

Little G is sunshine in the morning. She adores her older sister. She's not Cute, she's not Pretty, she's not Smart... She's Ginuf (of course she's the other three, but if you ask her, that's what she'll say). I luff you little G.


Happy New Year! As we were leaving the house on Jan 1, Jesse told me that we were supposed to send New Year's cards to everyone. The Post office holds them until Jan 1st and then delivers them on New Year's Day. So who got cards? Miss M got 3 from her schoolmates and 1 from the school itself. The rest of us... ZERO!

We spent the day with Yuki's family. Including her super cool grandma and grandma's super cool Rodeo Boy. I bet your grandma doesn't have one! She bought it because she thought it looked fun. Yuki and Ben got a cake for Jesse, which I appreciated since I got him Nothing (except a coupon for an apple pie).

The food was amazing. Beautiful. And I got full on crab claws and sashimi. Can you say you've ever done that? We spent this morning cleaning our house, a New Year's tradition in many parts of the world. What that meant was that I mopped the floor for the first time in months. It was surprisingly clean. How did you you spend the first day of the 2008?
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