Archive for April, 2008

Random Photos

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Apr.04, 2008

Here are some cute photos of the girls attending the double birthday party of Zoe and Andrew who both turned 3 this week.  

There are also some photos from Todd's trip to Tokyo.  He met up with Marilyn and Gaby from Roosevelt and Jennifer, Lawrence, and their baby Hanule.  



Single Parenting

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Posted by on Apr.04, 2008

So a major rule at our house has always been – No one gets left alone with the kids. Two kids so close in age can out match one person in their sleep. However, they are just about old enough that they are now NOT an enormous hassle to take care of. I think we can safely say that Riley is now potty trained. We are working on 10 days with no accidents. Tess has to be watched closely, but she will play contentedly for at least a half an hour.

So when Todd told me that he was going to a tech conference in Tokyo, and he would have to stay overnight, I didn't freak out. I am extremely jealous that he was able to see Tokyo before me, and he was even able to see Jennifer Park (Mock) twice in his time in Tokyo. He is also meeting up with Marilyn Holladay (our MS principal from Roosevelt who is here chaperoning some student who are participating in a robotics competition) this evening. Julie Lemley, my BFF, bought me some clothes at the Hanna Andersson outlet in Peru, and Marilyn brought them to Japan for me! 

Today with the girls was really good. We went to FBC to stock up on raisins. Then we went to Toys R US to buy two birthday presents for a double birthday party tomorrow. After Riley demanded the potty, and we went on a frantic search for the nearest bathroom, we ate lunch a nice lunch of mango smoothies and pasta with tomato and eggplant sauce. After regaining some energy, we went shopping at Uniqlo, the Japanese version of Old Navy. With all of that there were no major melt downs. There was a massive water spill in Uniqlo when Tess spilled her cup of water that had a spill proof top on it, which I am assuming she removed. We also lost a plastic bag full of cheese and hotdogs somewhere along the way.

After we returned home, the girls were great. They played and ate well. The best part was that I was able to sneak in an episode of my new favorite show, Gossip Girl, while the girls were playing together.

Todd should head back home on a late shinkansen tonight. So we will start Sunday together as a two parent – two kid family. The way I prefer it.

Another IKEA Update

In : El Japan, Posted by on Apr.04, 2008

Well, we did it.

As soon as parent conferences were over at noon, I flew out of school, grabbed some cash from the atm, and headed to the Sheraton to meet up with Celia and catch the bus to Sannomiya, the main train station.  I almost missed the bus, but I walked up just as it was about to pull away.  So Celia and I settled in for a 30 minute ride into town.

Once we arrived at Sannomiya, we had to find the bus stop for the free shuttle to IKEA.  We ended up at a bus stop, and we were talking about IKEA.  A nice gentleman who understood English told us that the bus stop we wanted was across the street, and the Japanese don't call it ikeya, but ekaya.  So we crossed the street again and finally caught the right bus.

Twenty minutes later we pulled up to the IKEA.  We followed the crowd of people coming off to the bus.  As we were following the people, we passed the entrance and saw a huge sea of people.  We ended up in this line.  This was the line to get in the IKEA because it was at capacity.  The guy in front of us spoke English, and he guessed that we would be in line for 1 hour.  Fortunately, the line only took us 30 minutes.  Once inside we checked out the checkout lines.  There weren't bad at all. 

Then Celia and I headed upstairs and proceeded to purchase as much stuff as we could stuff in our bags. 

Todd and I will definitely be heading back soon as we need bookshelves for the girls' rooms, curtains for the girls' rooms, lamps, and new toy storage.  Luckily we are in zone 1 for delivery so that should not cost an arm and a leg. 

On the home front, Todd is recovering slowly from a vicious something that has had him under the weather.  He has been out of school for a couple days, and us girls are ready for him to be back in action.

Until then, we will play with all of the new stuff that just arrived in my mom's care package that arrived today.

IKEA Update

In : El Japan, Posted by on Apr.04, 2008

The IKEA near us opened up on Monday, April 14th. Celia and I have been eager to go and check out the store, but we have been put off by the stories of people sleeping in their cars in order to be the first in the store and of checkout lines 1/2 kilometer long. Apparently a manager even cut his hand as he was working to get everything ready and had to go to the hospital.

However, we have decided to brave the crowds and the craziness and head there Friday after school. It is an early release day, so we are hoping to get there before everyone else gets off of work.

We will see how it goes. We will take the train there. IKEA actually used the train system to do some advertising. Here are some photos.



















This is not normally what the insides of our trains look like.


Blogging in the Spring Time

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Apr.04, 2008

I really love blogs.  I read several of them every night.  So why am I so bad at updating our blog?  I have no good answer to that.

We have been quite busy, but still that is no excuse.

As the long, cold winter comes to an end, we have spent a lot of the spring time outdoors.  The first thing we did when the weather started to turn nice is buy bikes.  We bought two dark green bikes.  We were very proud of ourselves as we remember to register them with the police, and we even figured out how to register them with our apartment complex. 

We eventually bought two kids seats that attach to our bikes.  However, when we got them home, we realized that we didn't have the required rack to attach them to our bikes.  I went back the store where we originally bought our bikes and explained that we needed to buy just the rack to put the baby seats on.  The man kept repeating "dangerous" over and over again.  Finally, I realized that we need to have a double kickstand instead of the single ones we have, so our bikes would sit straight up.  We discussed whether we should sell our bikes, forget the baby seats, or just buy two new bikes with double kickstands that day. 

We told our story to Jon Schatzky over lunch, and he recommended that we just go to the big bike store and buy two new double kickstands, two racks and put those on, and then we could put the baby seats on.  Todd and I had no idea you could change the kickstands on a bike.  So we got the kickstands, the rack, and came home to assemble the bikes.  I watched the kids while Jon and Todd went to work.  An hour later, Todd and I were on the bikes with the girls.  Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures of the Welbes family on our bikes, so you will just have to use your imagination. Be nice!

Besides biking around Rokko Island, we have been getting out and seeing more of the surrounding areas.  We went on a picnic with the Schatzkys up on Rokko Mountain.  Riley did not like the winding road up the mountain and puked on the way up.  Jon drove and was nice enough to stop every chance he had so that Riley could get out, stretch her legs, and try not to puke anymore.  When we finally made it up, we had a great time.  The kids loved playing on the sloping mountainside, and we enjoyed the sunny weather and great food.  We finished off the trip with petting some baby lambs and eating freshly made vanilla ice cream.  Luckily, the trip back down the mountain was much less eventful.

Our next big outing was to see the famous cherry blossoms in bloom.  During one of our trips to Osaka, I noticed that a train station was called Sakura Shugugawa.  Sakura means cherry blossoms.  Now the Japanese would not name something "cherry blossom" if there weren't a great place for cherry blossoms. Unlike Americans (or maybe it's just the Houstonian suburb where I grew up) who would put the word "Oak", "Bay", or "Glen" where none have ever existed.  So I asked around, and Sakura Shugugawa is a great place to see Sakura.  We went with Celia to see them, and they were breath-taking.  It almost looked like it was snowing when the wind blew and caused the petals to fall.  Most people were picnicing on tarps and enjoying the weather.  We just walked along the loop and just paused to let the Riley play on the swings.  She also demanded to go down to the river and play.  Todd was nice enough to volunteer to be her chaperone.  Unfortunately, Tess slept through the entire walk, but I am sure we return to the spot next year.  We ended the day eating at the Japanese version of Denny's.  It wasn't bad food, and it is the biggest restaurant we had seen, so there was plenty of room for the stroller as Tess slept through our entire meal as well.  

Riley woke up one weekend not so long ago demanding to go to the zoo.  Todd and I wanted a break from the zoo, so we ended up visiting the Osaka Aquarium.  It took us two hours to get there. It required us to take the train to Osaka, then transfer to the Osaka Loop Line, and then transfer to the subway.  Standing on the platform for the Osaka Loop Line almost made us turn around and head home.  There were so many people and the signs were so confusing with just a little English but a lot of Japanese and colors.  We ended up on the right train.  The nice thing was all of the elevators.  During our entire trip we did not have to carry our stroller up or down any stairs.  We almost had to in the Osaka train station coming back, but Todd figured it out.  Fortunately, the Osaka Aquarium was well worth the trip and the price of admission (don't ask).  Unfortunately, they did not allow strollers in, which is fine, but Tess really likes to run around and go wherever she wants without caring about the desires of others (toddlers!), so she was several dozen handfuls.  I needed the stroller to strap her down!

This past weekend Canadian Academy hosted the Food and Fun Fair.  The day started with a parade of all of the nations represented by faculty and students at Canadian Academy.  Tess and I walked with the Peruvian delegation made up of the Constantini Family as Tess is a Peruanita.  Todd had to be there to help the yearbook kids sell old yearbooks and order the new ones.  So we took turns gorging ourselves on yummy food from all over the world and watching  Riley and Tess playing at the playground.  The best part was the Scholastic Book Fair was also selling books, so we added another 7 books to our ever expanding library.

We've also been able to do some traveling and adventuring without kids.  We saw Sumo Wrestling, which was really enjoyable, and we traveled to Kyoto with Jon and Celia and visited the Golden Pavilion, which was gorgeous.

We have told the nannies that we will not need them next year as the school is going to provide before school and after school care, and hopefully Riley and Tess will be going to school here during the school day.  We have asked if they are both available to work on the evenings and weekends when we need a break, but we will see how that works out.  I imagine that we will be doing less things without the kids.  That isn't such a bad thing.  They are both getting to be pretty independent.  However, right now Tess shows her independence by running away from me at full speed!

All in all, it has been a great start to our spring.  IKEA opened yesterday, and so I am biding my time until I can go and finish our house without having to wait for hours in the checkout line. 

(click on the links to see the photos)