Archive for March, 2010

Crazy Cold, Crazy Week!

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010

It’s almost April, but it supposed to be in the 30s tonight.  Yikes!

Riley and Tess in the tulips

We had a crazy time last week.  I spent Monday with the girls at a play date.  On the way home we stopped at a playground, for bread and pastries, to buy flowers for our window boxes, to eat ice cream with friends, and finally we visited the tulips that Riley class planted back in January.   It was a long, but really fun day.

Spectacular cherry blossoms

As soon as we got home, I had an hour to relax before the sitter came, giving Todd and I our one date night during Spring Break.  We headed out a lantern festival in Kyoto, and then we were off to Okariba, a bizarre little restaurant that serves freshly killed meat – any kind of meat.  We had bear, boar, goose, bees and locusts.  I passed on the horse carpaccio.  The evening was perfect – the weather was great, the sights were amazing, and the food was delicious.  We actually made it home at a decent hour as well.

Easter Egg dying

Then on Tuesday, we dyed some Easter eggs.  The girls have been begging for some Easter decorations, so I deyolked 10 large white eggs and 10 quail eggs.  Luckily, Suzy, their friend came by, and all of the girls were able to dye eggs.  Because they are empty, they’ll last a lot longer.

Chili Crab!

Then it was time for me to head to Singapore.  I had a great three day conference.  I was able to do some serious shopping – clothes for me, video games for Todd, Ken dolls for the girls, and books for all of us.  I was also able to get in some sight seeing before my flight left on Sunday night.  I went to Long Beach restaurant to have the famous Chili Crab, which took me two hours to eat – and two beers!  Then I headed to Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel to have their famous drink, the Singapore Sling.  It was really sweet, but went nicely with the salty peanuts.  After being stuff full of food and I drink,  I decided that I needed a nice walk, so I headed to Botanical gardens where I walked around and photographed for 2.5 hours.  Then I ventured to the Night Safari.  You jump on a trolley, and it takes through the animal habitats in the dark.  The exhibits are dimly lit, and we saw some great animals.  Then I headed back for a shower, change of clothes, and a quick snack. Then I was off to the airport.  The flight was awesome because of its unremarkableness.  Singapore Airlines rocks!

Riley talks with a penguin

While I was out and about in Singapore, Todd was busy in Kobe.  On Wednesday, he ventured out to Osaka and visited Sumo and El Panchos with Schatzkys.  On Thursday, Todd and the girls along with Jon, Denis, Peter, and Allie, headed to the Osaka Aquarium.  Afterward the grabbed Indian, which I am sure made everyone happy.  With better weather on Friday, Todd and the girls headed up to Sumiyoshi for another play date.  Todd was happy because he got to talk cameras with another dad, and the kids had a great time, too.  Saturday was a quiet day around Kobe with a visit to a local playground.  Finally, Sunday was filled with BBQ brisket and the Lemleys and the Schatzky (Jon wussed out).

Then this morning we were all reunited as a family.  I went by Tess’s classroom where she was putting toys in her pants.  She didn’t seem too happy to see me.  I think she was worried about being caught in the act.  But then I gave her a big hug and then I said, “Tessy we don’t put toys in our panties.”  My next stop was Riley’s classroom where Riley informed me that she had made me a present.  It was a necklace beaded with three letters – M-O-M.  Awwwwww!  Then I saw Todd for 2 minutes, taught my class, ate lunch, and then stumbled across the street to sleep for 4 straight hours!

I am feeling almost normal after no sleep last night, and it feels so good to be home.  Here are a TON of new photos from my trip to Singapore and Kobe.

March – Spring Break!

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010


We’ve been trying to venture out more now that it is starting to warm up.   We’ve been down to the water with the girls, and we’ve been into town with the girls.  The girls have been great while eating at restaurants lately.  They’ve been entertaining themselves with dolls and each other, and then inhaling the food.

Now we are in the midst of Spring Break, and the girls have explored some new playgrounds, colored Easter eggs, and had some play dates.  I am off to Singapore for work, so Todd will be keeping down the fort while I am gone.  I am sure things will go well.

Here are the photos from March.


In : Kiddo, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010

PeterPan is the company that our school contracts with to offer the 2 year old program and before and after school care.  They have another campus on the island as well.  This past week Mayumi Imai, the owner, gave me a print out of a website, and she asked permission to use the pictures on it.  There were pictures of Riley and Tess.  I think the website is still under construction because they actually have another website, but here is the link so you can see the girls.

Kid Update

In : Kiddo, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010

Riley came home with a couple more pieces of scannable work.  They are all hilarious, but of specific note, check out Riley’s writing.   This has just started in full force lately.  She is also now reading aloud to anyone who’ll listen, mainly her sister.  So reading and writing – Holy Crap!!

I don’t have any of Tess’ work right now, so that makes me a bad mother.   Tess is acting in her first production.  She is playing the “Pig in the Straw House” in the Three Little Pigs.  She’s already performed for Riley’s class, and Friday is the production for the parents.  We are all very excited.

Spring Break is next week.  Todd and the girls are staying home, and I leave mid-week for Singapore for work, but our minds are beyond Spring Break.  We are looking towards summer because of Lindsay’s wedding and Todd’s new grad program.   I am looking forward to playdates, swimming lessons and summer day camp.

Here are some pictures that the girls took over the last couple of weeks.

Ken – Denied!

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010

This past Saturday Todd and I were informed that that Riley and Tess needed some boy dolls to go along with their two ballerina Barbies.  They wanted to have their girl dolls get married, and for that they decided they needed some boy dolls.  How very conservative of them.

So Todd went out to a pub with some friends, and the girls and I headed down to the Rokko Liner to take the train to Sumiyoshi where the nearest ToysRUs lives.  On the train ride there, the girls and I had a serious conversation about what we would be buying in ToysRUs and what we would not be buying: two Ken dolls and nothing else.  Riley’s response, “What about two more girl Barbies?”  My response, “Definitely not!”   Tess just repeated each of our responses in agreement.  So I was clarifing that I was only purchasing 2 Ken dolls as we were entered the doll section of ToysRUs.  You can imagine my horror when I notice that the Barbie section is minute, and there are NO Ken dolls to be seen.  I search down a sales rep, and say to her “Barbie.”  She responds with “Hai!” which means yes.  Then I say “Boy – Barbie.”  She looks at me a little disgusted, and says “Ea!” which means no, and then she crosses her arms in front of her body, which just clarifies the NO we do not have boy Barbies, and that is a revolting thing to ask about.

So the girls were sad, but we found a magnetic crane for our train set for Riley and a Mr. PotatoHead Tranformer for Tess.

Since we are going home this summer, I have a huge list of things I need from the States, and today I added 2 Ken dolls to the list.

Sayonara, Sam

In : El Japan, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010

We haven’t kept up with Sam as much as we’d meant to, but tonight we caught up with him long enough to wish him farewell, as he returns to the States (with a substantial layover in Europe).

Sam is the displaced architect who fled the Great Econopocalypse to take pictures of old buildings on a cushy Japanese academic grant. Yes, it was all wine and roses and 3-square-meter apartments for Sam. The one thing Kobe University’s largess did not afford him was a cell phone, which—after introductions by mutual friend, Damien Holloway—we lent him out of our stack of last year’s models.

So, by way of saying thank you for the phone, Sam took Kirsten and I out to a robatayaki in Osaka. Never having been to one before, I naturally assumed that it was a yakitori staffed by robots. My disappointment was short-lived, however, when I discovered it was something even better: a sweaty guy behind a grill who plucks whatever you ask for out of iced baskets, sears it mercilessly over hot coals, and then slings it out to you on the end of a boat oar!



After some debate we decided that robatayaki must have started with a successful fishermen who, on his way back into port, discovered that his boat had caught fire. With a heat source and supplies of brine-drippingly fresh seafood, all that remained was a way to huck the food at customers. The oar must have seemed so obvious…

Anyway, it was a great time. Good luck, Sam. Prepare to have us crash your place if we’re ever in the Seattle area.

January and February 2010

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Mar.03, 2010

Once we returned from Hawaii, we had a good 10 days to relax and enjoy Kobe.  I attempted to work on the great apartment turn around.  With the girls now sleeping in one room in bunk beds, then Riley’s room became the toy room, the toy room became our dining room and the dining room became a bigger living room.  It took me all of January and February to make it happen, but it looks good.  Our dining room still could use some decoration, but we will get there.

Riley's treat after the ear doctor - donut holes.

January and February have also been a couple months of sickness for us.  Riley and Tess have both had colds and runny noses.  Riley, Todd, and I have all had the stomach flu.  Finally, Riley was out last week with an ear infection.  Right now we are all healthy, and we are hoping to stay that way.

The morning of Valentine’s Day Todd headed into Osaka to accompany several of our students who are doing the voice over for an Earthquake preparedness video.  While he was busy with that, I went with Tess and Riley along with my friend Jenny and her two boys up the mountain to a sledding area with snow.  I packed a picnic lunch, made hot chocolate, and brought all of our snow gear.  The girls were fantastic and had a great time sledding and making a small snowman.  Both girls went down the hill by themselves, and Riley learned quickly to put her legs out of the sled to brake.

Supper Special Valentine's Dinner!

For Valentine’s Day Todd and I along with 3 other couples enjoyed a specially prepared meal by two fabulous cooks.  The woman who owns the restaurant does not open it to the public.  She only serves people who have a reservation.  The restaurant is only one table, which took up half of the restaurant, while the kitchen took up the other half of the restaurant and was open to our table.  The woman who owns the restaurant is the cook, and she and her daughter work together and serve the food as well.  We think we ate a total of 8 courses, which was some of the best food I’ve eaten in my life.  We also consumed 11 bottles of wine, which was made possible by Wolfgang and Cyd.  It was a spectacular Valentine’s Day.  We were even functional the next day, which is lucky because it was a Monday!

Then shortly after that I headed off to the annual ski trips in the middle school.  Unfortunately, I got my stomach bug the second day of the trip, but Marilyn took great care of me, and I was at least functional by the time we headed home, but it took almost a whole week for me to feel normal again.  Then as soon as I got back, Todd was in full swing with APAC drama, which we were hosting here at CA, so his evenings were full of rehearsals and entertaining the visiting directors.  Saturday he was out as well watching a Noh performance in Nagata.

Plum blossoms and Tessy

We were able to take some time to walk around the greenbelt here and admire the beautiful plum blossoms that are just now making their appearance.  It makes the whole family excited for spring, which means warmer weather and cherry blossoms!

I can definitely say that we love where the girls are right now at 3 and 5.  They totally entertain themselves, they love each other, and they are now fairly good at restaurants.  We’ve eaten at our favorite Indian restaurant several times with them.  Tess loves green rice (rice with Palak Paneer), Riley loves Mango Lassis, and they both love red chicken (chicken tikka).

Paint time in the shower/bath room
They love the climbing wall

Right now Tess often says, “I don’t really love that.”  She also likes to cry hysterically when she doesn’t get her way.  Riley is such a big girl now, and she reads everything, but she is shy to read it out loud.  When she read a synopsis for a episode of Backyardigans, she said that they were trying to trick her because they said the wrong character rode the tornado.  So she was able to read, and then remember what she saw that didn’t match what she read.  They both love playing dress up, painting, telling stories, and playing games with each other.

Here are the photos from January and February.

Here are some photos taken with a new iphone app, Hipstamatic.  It is meant to mimic the pictures taken with the 1970s camera, the Hipstamatic, which was an all plastic camera with all plastic lenses.  Enjoy the funky shots of everyday life in Japan.

Riley (with a little ketchup)