Monday, May 30, 2011


I'm not into texting.  Before moving to Japan, Mike and I didn't even have a data plan on our phone.  We never communicated by text, with each other or anyone else.  But when we moved here, people recommended having a data plan.  Mike works so many hours, and is often in meetings or other situations in which he can't answer his phone, so texting is a good way to get in touch if I need to tell him something. So, we are slowly adjusting to the world of text.  The other day I was driving to the store when Mike sent me a message.  "Where r u?"  I happened to be a stoplight (and stoplights here can be really long), so I quickly sent a reply.  I'm not so good at texting anyway, and I was hurrying because I was at a stoplight, and with my sorry vision texting without my glasses is always a bit of a guessing game.  I meant to say "in the car."  What I said was, "on the cat."  I told him I was "on the cat", and then the light changed and I went on my way and didn't even realize my mistake until 5 minutes later when I arrived at my destination.  Mike thought that my phone had been stolen.  I haven't been able to stop laughing about it for days.

In other technology news:  we got Bear a cell phone.  I know!  Spoiled!  He takes it to school with him in case of emergencies, but we threatened him with the complete loss of his phone if he ever takes it out of his backpack.  It's no idle threat, either.  The school has a strict phone policy and they will take it away if he uses it without justification.  He thinks it is great and has fun texting his dad.  He's not so good at texting yet, either.  Today Mike sent me a message and Bear saw it and responded, "You forgot a period." (at the end of the sentence)  He is the grammar police.  He came home from school a week or so ago and told me about a song he heard some girls playing on their ipods on the bus.  He liked the song and wanted to download it onto his phone.  What?!!  How can I have a kid old enough to want to download a pop song onto his phone?  I thought it was adorable and wanted to cry at the same time.  He didn't know the whole song, but he sang the chorus for me: "I told you once, I told you twice, gonna light it up, like it's dynamite!"  We got on itunes and searched for "Dynamite."  I found the song, and then got on Youtube and found an a cappella version by Mike Tompkins.  Look it up.  It's great.  We all like it and it is stuck in our heads 85% of the time.  Even Beaver loves it and dances and sings along and I can hardly stand it because it's so cute.  The other night I was putting him to bed and started to sing "I am a Child of God" and he said, "No!  Sing Dynamite!"

Want to hear a sad story?  Bear really wants a pet.  I wish we could have brought Johnny with us.  A dog would be his ideal, but knowing that isn't an option right now, Bear has asked for various other creatures: fish, snakes, lizards, birds, etc.  I told him that I hope he can have a pet someday, but there won't be any pets in Japan.  Today we went grocery shopping.  (School was cancelled because of a typhoon that had already passed.)  Bear took an interest in a smooth, greenish melon, so I bought one.  Melons here come cradled in soft, spongy nets, to keep them from getting bumped and bruised, I presume.  Bear has claimed the melon as his pet and named it Pika.  When we got home from the store he made a habitat for it in the lid of the monopoly box and attached a sticky note that said, "Do not eat.  This is Bear's pet."  Just now he got out of bed, came to the top of the stairs in a state of considerable concern, and said, "Mom!  Can you put Pika in its net?"  Sad.  

One month in Japan is behind us.  We just got a call that our sea shipment, containing all of our furniture and most of our belongings, has arrived.  Half of me is looking forward to getting all of our stuff, and half of me wants to panic.  I mean, if we unpack it means we have to stay!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Our New Ride

I'm super excited to have a mini van!

Except for the fact that Japanese streets are so narrow that I felt like the corolla we have been driving was too big.

Mike asked me which insurance package we should get.  I suggested the most comprehensive one, since the chances of me scraping up against something are pretty high.

Or backing into something.  In Japan, you are expected to back into parking spaces.  The Japanese people manage to gracefully back into tiny parking spaces even in their mini-vans.  I consider myself to be a decent driver, but I always end up parked rather crookedly.  Even after going back and forth a dozen or so times trying to get myself straight.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Some things we did over the weekend

(Note: I'm attempting to change my kid's names for this blog - to go along with my Mrs. Mike theme.  If you don't know what I am talking about, read the "About me" section on the sidebar.  I feel really funny calling them by these pretend names, though.  I may change my mind and just call them by their real names if I can't get used to it.)

Tried tako yaki.
It was good as long as I didn't think about the suction cups on the tentacles.
We got to try tako yaki because Mike and Beaver made friends with some Japanese dads at a nearby park a couple of weeks ago.  Last Sunday we took a walk to the park and were greeted by a couple of little girls running toward us calling, "Beaver!  Beaver!" They were followed by a dad hurrying over with his two sons and their french bulldog, and then another guy and his wife (parents to one of the little girls), and pretty soon they were all chatting away like old friends.  Introductions were made all around, and we tried to get Bear to play with their kids, but he can be shy - especially when he can't speak the kid's language.  I can understand his hesitation, but his shyness often ends up looking like unfriendliness.  Anyway, before we left to go back home, one of the families invited us to a tea party at their house the following week.  Can you believe that?  We just met them at a park, and the next thing we know they are inviting us to tea!  We were happy to accept, although we had to explain that we don't drink tea.  So yesterday we spent the afternoon at our new friend's house and I helped make tako yaki.  It was fun, even though I don't speak Japanese and they don't really speak English.  Afterwards we all walked to our house, because our friends said they would like to walk through our neighborhood, but they are nervous because of all the "Private Property!  No Trespassing!" signs.  They commented on how big our house was, although I don't think it is all that much bigger than their houses.  Their neighborhood is brand new and the houses are very nice.

That is our tako yaki story.

   On Saturday we wanted to go up this mountain.   

So we got in this tram.

And went to this cool revolving observatory where we met these cute little girls who were very excited to talk to us.  Some kids pay no attention to us.  Some really want to talk to us.  A few have been scared of us, and one ran screaming to his parents.

Then we got on this cute ski lift thing that played Hawaiian-sounding music and took us to another part of the mountain.

There were lots of fun trails...

And fun parks to explore.

Before we left the clouds cleared away enough that we could see the Akashi Ohashi - the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr. Mike!

Have I mentioned that everything is smaller in Japan?

We celebrated Mike's birthday tonight with tiny cups of Haagen-das ice cream.  I haven't gotten to the point of being able to bake a cake in Japan yet (it's a lot harder than the US!  Really!).  I went to Baskin Robbins thinking I could buy an ice cream cake, but was dissuaded by the $40 price tag for a cake about six inches in diameter.  So, I was happy to find this ice cream so that we could have some kind of celebration.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Almost Heaven

Look what we saw on the way to church this morning!

No sign of Saint Peter, though.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I'm feeling pretty great about life right now. For the first time in two weeks, I know where my next meal is coming from. From Costco, that's where. We made the trek to Costco in Osaka yesterday, and my cupboards are no longer bare. I want to learn to cook Japanese, I really do. But until I learn enough to recognize what it is I am buying at the Japanese grocery store, I'm happy to have a freezer full of tortillas and blocks of cheese.

You know what's the best part about Costco? The ramp escalator that is magnetic, so you can relax as you ride because your giant grocery cart is firmly stuck in place.
You know what's the worst part about Costco?  We spent an entire month's US grocery budget in one day.

Monday, May 2, 2011


March 5, 2011:

The first time I set foot in Japan was also the first time Mike and I had ever left our kids and taken a trip with just the two of us. We were arriving at Kansai Airport for our home-finding trip, prior to our final move to Japan at the end of the month. Not exactly a second honeymoon, but exciting, nevertheless. I wasn't anxious to leave my kids. If anything, leaving them was what made me anxious, but they were in good hands, and once we were on our way, I began to enjoy myself. We called my parents back home to check in on things every day, and the kids rarely had any interest in talking to us, so, although my ego suffered a bit, I was glad they were doing well.

It was a busy and overwhelming week. We visited many lovely houses, and a few not-so-lovely ones. We ate some delicious Japanese food, and some not-so-delicious Japanese food. We met many excellent people, and no not-so-excellent people. We had fun being able to work out together in the hotel exercise room - something that any couple with young kids knows doesn't happen often. I even found a horse to ride - of sorts. A mechanical horse in the hotel gym. All in all, it was a fine week, and I was looking forward to our move.

March 11th. My birthday. We spent the morning revisiting the houses we were most interested in, made our decision, and finalized the details the needed to be finalized. We would be leaving the next day. At about 2:46 in the afternoon we were driving to Mike's work site to take a tour and meet up with some of his co-workers for dinner. When we arrived, we heard there had been a fairly significant tremor. This was Japan, though, and the people are used to tremors. I heard the tsunami warning sirens, and wondered if we should be concerned about our plans to go to the harbor for dinner that night. No one seemed worried, though, and our dinner plans went forward uninterrupted. We had no problems and enjoyed our meal and the company. No one realized the extent of the disaster until later. Devastating, destructive, catastrophic, tragic. These words are hardly powerful enough to describe the horror of what struck Japan on March 11th.

I have a dear friend from college who was born on September 11th. Every year on that day I think of her, and think of how we used to celebrate her birthday in college, happy and carefree, with no way to imagine how in a few short years the innocence of that day would be stripped away forever. I feel that my birthday has now suffered a similar fate. I will still celebrate in the years to come, but that celebration will always be tinged with sadness, as we all remember Japan.