March 28, 2008

March 26, 2008

Not Quite Spring

Green Flower

Recording Abuse, Part 2

This time the record is mine. Just FYI, when your child complains that the top of their foot hurts after taking a fall, do not assume they are a) over reacting, b) over dramatizing the situation (yet again), or c) just being a wimp. And when you ask them if they twisted their ankle and they say "no", don't believe them. And definitely don't make them walk the kilometer home, refusing to take the bus since your house is the next stop (it's not like Hawaii where they're every 30 feet). Oh, and don't take them shopping to two stores after the incident (though I bought lots of treats and gave her ice cream when she got home). And don't take a picture of the kid looking all mopey, because when you realize she really did sprain her ankle, you'll feel like a major putz.

By the way, she's loving being an invalid. Movies, treats, Barbies brought to her throne/couch; It's a child's paradise.

March 25, 2008

Rides at the Zoo

The girls opted for the carriages over the horses on the carousel.

You have to love scary old rides at the zoo. Maybe Rena can get Dave one of these cars. It costs $1 for 3 minutes. A lot cheaper than the real thing, eh?

Animals at the Inokashira Zoo

From the pictures, you can tell this zoo isn't big on exotic animals. The kids still had a lot of fun, as the layout is made for them. A playground, rides (see next post), and lots of room to run around. The cherry blossoms are starting to bloom all around the zoo grounds.

The kids and their guinea pigs. G loved hers. I am almost convinced I could own one of these rodents.

Posing squirrel.
They had raccoons at this zoo. I've always seen them as roadkill or scurrying away. They're pretty nasty.


It's starting. In a couple of days they'll be open everywhere. Stay tuned for more pictures.

March 24, 2008

Art Therapy or Recording Abuse

If you couldn't tell from the pictures, M overheard that I have Popo Chan hiding in the suitcase, awaiting our return to the states. In the first picture, I'm happily going about my life while M is crying as she thinks of the doll. The second and third are reiterations of the same sentiment, just in different mediums. She strategically taped them on my bedroom door to remind me of the injustice against her. And lastly, we have "MOM I HAPPY" as her apology for some 8 hours of whining, crying, and having fit after fit about Popo Chan. I'd like to point out that I did NOT give her Popo Chan. She managed to lose computer games, videos, computer access, and stories for the night. I'm tired.

March 21, 2008

Speed Reading for Fun

Much to Jesse's chagrin, I've finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It's over 1000 pages. I think I started it on Monday. Maybe that's why I haven't been blogging lately.

And am I the only one who gets testy when I finish a book? I have withdrawals from reading. I get cranky at the kids for not cleaning up after themselves (like I've been doing anything this week). The sweetest thing Jesse gave me for Valentine's Day was books. He gave them even though he knew that I'd be useless until I finished them. Now that's love.

March 20, 2008

Plum Blossom

Despite the rain the last two days, Spring has come to Tokyo. The cherry blossoms open a little later, but we're looking forward to it.

Class of 2008

No, it's not Jesse. It's M's youchien class. I tried to get choked up about this important milestone, but I couldn't. I'm so excited that I don't have to wake up at 6:30 to put rice on for her obento. Shogakko (elementary school) has hot lunches for the kids every day! And they're super healthy. No fish sticks, french fries, hamburger surprise here. M's eaten at two different schools and she LOVED lunch! She's still talking about the noodles she had in Takao.

J thought M was a little overdressed for the occasion, but she felt special. A friend from church gave us the jacket (bless her). It goes with a dress that she'll wear to the first day of elementary school. Another huge day in a mom's life here. Can't wait.

March 14, 2008

Vegetarian Week Update part II

I think we're going on three weeks now, and Jesse is going strong. He's probably not getting enough protein, but he's a big boy. He can figure that one out for himself.

The kids, missionaries, and I are slowly chipping at the meat in the freezer. We got a new elder with a hollow leg, so we'll have him over again before he transfers.

My favorite meal thus far is Poofy Pancakes, Savory Style. They're great with syrup for breakfast, but savory is almost better. Here's the recipe.

Poofy Pancakes (puff pancakes, german pancakes, etc) Savory Style

3 T butter
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
pinch or more of salt
couple of grinds of pepper
1-2 fistfulls of shredded cheese lightly coated in flour
veggies of your choice
mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, onion, etc. saute first if they are high water content.
chopped ham for the kid's half of the pan

Preheat oven to 425F (I think. I know it's supposed to be hot. I've become amazingly slapdash with my crappy oven here. I think I put it at 200 Celsius.)
Place 9x13 pan in oven with butter in it.
beat eggs. Add milk. Add flour and seasoning.
Pour mixture into hot pan. Add veggies, cheese, and ham. Return to oven. Bake for 20 minutes or so. Serve with green salad. Just don't add anything from pepper on down if you want it for breakfast. Great with jam, yogurt, lemon juice, powdered sugar, syrup, you name it.

I usually make 1 1/3 recipe to make the mixture thicker.

We thought it tasted like quiche, but better. The kids liked it a lot. And that makes it a winner.

Surprise! It's White Day!

What's that you say? You forgot White Day? How could you? The shame of it. No, it's not a neo-nazi holiday. Think refined sugar.

When M asked me about the day, I said "you know, like sugar. It's white."
M-"Sugar's not white."
Me-"Sometimes it is. When it's not brown."

I guess the confection industry decided they needed a holiday to get the non sugar addicted Japanese to buy more of their products. Voila. White Day. M was stoked at school.
As she told Jesse, "People kept on giving me treats. More and more treats, and I couldn't even hold them all. It was the best day ever. I don't know why they were giving me treats."

And those, my friends, are the best holidays ever. The unbirthday, Dia das Castanhas (Chestnut Day when grumpy Portuguese become kind and generous and are just dying to give you roasted chestnuts), Kuhio Day (no school in Hawaii), White Day. When you don't know why people are giving you treats, they just do.

March 13, 2008

Girls Rock

It's fun to be a little girl.
They can fly helicopters.
Drive fire engines. And dress up in kimonos.
All on a Saturday afternoon.

March 9, 2008

itunes movie of the week

Have you noticed this on itunes? It's their movie of the week for only 99 cents. A couple of weeks ago it was Breakfast at Tiffany's. This week it's Changing Lanes (too scary for me). Check back every weekend to see what it is and tell me if it's good. You can keep them for 30 days on your itunes account, so you have plenty of time to watch (though you have to finish it within 24 hours of starting it). Ex-pats heart itunes!


I saw this on Amelia's blog awhile ago, and was surprised at how many I'd read.
To join in the fun, copy the list and then:

Bold the ones you’ve read,

italicize the ones you want to read,
cross out the ones you won’t touch with a 10 foot pole,
put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf,
and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind(Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (J.R.R. Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (J.R.R. Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (J.R.R. Tolkien)
8. +Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (J.R.R. Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. +Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. *The Notebook (Nicolas Sparks)
33. *Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (George Orwell)
35. *The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. *I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. *The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. *The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. +Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. *She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)
53. Ender's Game(Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Charles Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller's Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolsoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davies)
66. +One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. +Bridget Jones' Diary (Helen Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. +The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (John Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard's First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In the Skin of a Lion (Michael Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. +The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
97. *White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Join the fun. Leave a comment so I know to check your blog.

March 5, 2008

Podcasts for the wee ones

I've been meaning to post some new (to me) finds on itunes.

They Might Be Giants has a weekly video podcast. They're releasing the songs for their new album/dvd "Here Come the 1, 2, 3's." For fans of their ABC album, log on!

Sesame Street has a weekly video podcast as well. They're about 5 minutes long. It's "The Word on the Street."

And don't forget Storynory for your slightly older little ones. The stories are great, sometimes classics, and Natasha has a cult following of ESL students and 5 year olds.


March 3, 2008

Bird Boy

Takao Weekend

Here's some shots from this weekend. Recognize these kids? When we first came to Japan we stayed with them for a week. Do you know how nice it is to move your family over the big blue and end up at one of your best friend's houses? I wish I could move an old friend with me everywhere I went. By the way, the kids get along as if they had never been separated. M has a bit of a crush on the big boy. Cutest thing ever, it's reciprocated.

Hina Matsuri

Happy Girls' Day to every Princess I know! Jesse came up with another great idea and had the girls wear their kimonos tonight. We made tempura and invited the other princess family we know over (2 girls one more on the way!). We had cookies and mochi ice cream for dessert. We also had special hirare, Girls' Day senbei/arare. We're trying to get the kids re-energized about living in Japan. The fire has gone out and M is ready to go back to California NOW! Scary, since she has to start 1st grade in a month. M made her Girls' Day dolls in youchien. The Prince's sword can be removed from the scabbard. My girl ROCKS!

I grow more in love with M's kimono each time she wears it. It was a major purchase for me since I had only been in Japan a week and didn't know if it was a good price. (It was.)
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