Archive for January, 2009

State of the Family Update

In : General, Posted by on Jan.01, 2009

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This weekend:

It snowed, which was awesome.  The only part that wasn’t neat was the fact that I jog/walked a 5k later that day.

We played at Bourneland this weekend.  I consider this place to be second to Disney World as the greatest place on earth.

We visited Chinatown for lunch.  We are planning to go back tomorrow night to see some of the New Year Festivities.

We played a lot of Rockband.  Riley loves the drums, and Tess loves the “pitar.” I love to sing, but I totally suck.  Todd is good at everything!  Shocking, I know!

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The girls:

Riley asked me to paint her toenails red like mine.  So I did.  Then Tess demanded that her toes be painted red as well.  So both of them have red toenails.  Todd is unimpressed.  He was hoping that they would be 12 before they painted their nails.  I told him he was being unrealistic.

Riley is completely pacifier free.  She was just using them at night, but she still was very dependent on them, and she was very compliant when she put them all in a bag the day after her birthday.  She has asked for them a few times after, but not in the last 2 weeks.

I attempted to put Tess in panties today.  She screamed NO, and she said that they were Riley’s panties and ran away.  I would say that was a very unsuccessful first attempt.

We went into the city with the kids, and we didn’t take a stroller! This is a first milestone as we leave the baby days behind and move full on into kids.

Here are some photos from these last couple of weeks.



Holiday Madness

In : General, Posted by on Jan.01, 2009

UPDATE:  I forgot to link to the pictures that we took after Christmas Day.  Sorry

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So here is the story of our Christmas Break:  4 Christmases, a Funeral, a Wedding, and a Birthday.  It was fun, sad, emotional, and it almost felt like we were living at least two movies.

It all started just over a month ago.  Todd and I were finishing up school and trying to pack.  We sent our luggage ahead to the airport on Wednesday the 17th of December by using Takkyubin.  This allowed us to travel relatively easily on the bus with the girls without having to worry about the luggage.

We ended up on a very early bus from Rokko Island to the airport because all of the later, better buses were fully booked.   Getting the earlier bus worked out because we arrived at the Northwest counter early and tried to change our horrible seat assignments.  They had given us the interior seats of two rows back to back.  That’s right.  Two children under 4 and no access to an aisle.  The site manager for Northwest said that they were overbooked, and he would arrange it so that we would fly on United with better seats.  That flight would connect through San Francisco instead of Detroit, which worked out in our favor for two reasons:  it was a shorter trans-Pacific flight, and San Francisco was not snowed in.

In addition, he gave us a ton of travel vouchers.  This conversation all took place at about 10am.   Our original flight left at 1:30pm, and our new flight left at 7pm.  Luckily Takkyubin was storing our big luggage, so we threw our carryons into a coin locker, and took the train into Osaka.  We ended up at the Tennoji Zoo.  Not because we planned it, but because we were sick of being on the train, and got off at a stop we knew, and luck have it that there was something neat to do.  Northwest even paid for our travel to Osaka and back! It was a beautiful day, and the zoo was great.  We arrived back at the airport in plenty of time for dinner and our flight, and we were off.

The trans-Pacific flight was great, but our flight was late taking off from San Francisco.  We eventually landed in Houston and met Dan and Vicky at the rent-a-car place at about 11pm.  We had been up at that point for about 24 hours, but the kids weren’t melting down – yet!  Our new car seats were fantastic to install (Sunshine Radian 65 – we love them!), and we loaded our car up with our luggage, and we were driving in Houston for the first time in 18 months.  It was a little intimidating, but Dan and Vicky were nice enough to bring a roll of quarters with them, which made the tolls possible because we had no American money.

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The day after we arrived we headed down to League City to see my dad and to go to a reunion of my girlfriends from high school.  It was great to see each other, and to see each others’ kids.  Here are some photos.

Once we arrived we prepared for Grammy’s funeral.  Todd’s grandmother had passed away right before we left to come, and so her funeral was just after we arrived.  It was so sad to say good bye to her.  She was an amazing woman who I felt very close to even though I am only related by marriage.  She had not been sick for very long, but we knew that she had been getting worse in the few months leading up to it.  It was definitely not the same holiday season without her, and she will be missed.

Here are the photos of family and the kids before Christmas Day.

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Then it was time to prepare for Christmas!  We had bought most everything online, but after the funeral, we had to stop at Target to get some last minute stuff.  We (Lindsay, Todd and I) spent all night on the 23rd until 2am wrapping presents.  Christmas Eve was a big party at Todd’s mom’s house, and then Christmas Day was great with the kids.  Riley knew exactly what was going on, and Tess loved the presents.  Here are 100 pictures that prove it.  The pictures are not in order, and I don’t have the patience to manually sort them, but on page 3 of the Christmas Day photos you can see Riley rounding the corner and seeing the Christmas tree for the first time.  It is priceless.

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Then we were off to Victoria to visit my Dad and Lynda for the 26th and 27th.  It was the first time that I saw their land, and it was really great.  The kids loved running around, especially Tess.

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Then it was back to Houston.  My mom and Maurizio arrived the morning of the 28th, and my college roommate got married that afternoon.  The wedding was in League City as well.  The ceremony was outside in a little garden.  It ended up being chilly that day, but not too cold and it didn’t rain.  The kids weren’t very quiet, and Tess would have nothing to do with sitting and watching the ceremony, but luckily it was easy for us to walk around while the ceremony was going on.  Then we had great food and a chocolate fountain, which provided (almost) endless fun and sweets for the girls.  Here are the pictures from the wedding. After about three hours of good fun and good company, we headed back home to have Christmas with Maurizio and Mom.

The 29th was spent getting ready for Riley’s birthday on the 31st.  Then on the 30th I spent the day at the spa thanks to Todd’s dad generous Christmas present.  Lindsay and I actually went out to shop for a bit afterward, and I think I burned all of my Todd points by being gone for 6 hours.

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Then it was Riley’s 4th Birthday on the 31st.  We had rented a bouncy castle for the day.  It arrived at about 9am, and Riley and Tess spent the rest of the day alternating between bouncing and eating a ridiculous amount of sweets.  We invited a couple of families and their kids along with our family members to a brunch party.  The kids bounced their day away, and the adults sat around relaxing and talking.  It was a great party with way too much food!  Here are the pictures.

We stayed in on New Year’s Eve night, and played an epic game of Civilization with Todd, Lindsay, Maurizio, Mom and me.  We tried to find an Wii for sale in Houston, so that we could play Rockband, but we had no luck.

Lindsay left for China soon afterward, and we spent the last part of our “vacation” spending a little quality play time with our friends Tony and Carol and Rob and Rachel and their families and shopping.

We had a good flight back to Japan.  A Japanese women sitting behind us even told me upon our arrival in Osaka how well behaved the girls were.  She was sitting behind us.  I don’t think the men sitting in front of us felt the same way.  We need to work on the girls kicking the seats and pulling down on the tray tables.

The Schatzkys were nice enough to pick us up some beer and food, and then pick us up from the hotel where the bus drops us off.  I am glad they did because our luggage filled the school van.  Then they came up to our apartment and played the Wii, had some snacks and beer, and caught up with them.   The girls went to bed about 10pm and then slept through the night, and they have been sleeping pretty well since then – except for Tess who likes to wake up in the middle of the night and join us in our bed.

So we are home and back at work, and Houston, Christmas Break, and the “relaxing” all seem like a far away dream.  We are definitely glad to be back in our home, but we are already plotting our Spring Break.



One more

In : General, Travel, Posted by on Jan.01, 2009

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There is one more photo album that I found.  We went to the Luminarie with some friends and the girls in December before returning to the States.   The luminarie is a light spectacular with music to remember the great Hanshin earthquake.  This is our second luminarie, and it was fun this year with the kids, although much more exhausting.   I did a lot of running after Tess.

Here are the photos.



Catching Up

In : General, Posted by on Jan.01, 2009

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So I am working on a post.  It is just taking a me a long time to sort through all of the photos.  Work has been absolutely insane lately.  Also, our whole family has been sick with a nasty stomach bug, which I actually got twice.

I have been inhaling the Twilight series, and I am about to check out Book 3.  We have also been playing a lot of Wii games with Rockband (1 and 2) and Cooking Mama absorbing most of our time.

The weather hasn’t been too cold since we got back, and, surprisingly, the kids did not suffer much from jetlag.

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As I was going through our photo albums, I realized there were a couple shots of fall that I had not shared with everyone.  We have album of shots from our trip to Kyoto during fall break, and then there are some photos of the kids around the island and some of Riley’s winter concert.  Tess also had a Christmas party where I took photos, but I cannot find them anywhere.  Oh well.

Massive Christmas Post coming with TONS of photos.



Holy Crap! We are Home!

In : General, Posted by on Jan.01, 2009

More to come.  I promise!