Friday, July 29, 2005

Day Two in the Wonderful Land of Oz

Koji the conductor ready to drive away in the train that was on display in front of the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich, about a 30 minute drive from Boonah, which is where Rebecca and Michael live (sorry I failed to post the link yesterday, because I know you were burning to learn more about Boonah!).
posted by jcm

This is one part of the play area for "Little Nippers" at the museum. I freely admit that I would willingly have become an annual member of the museum just so Koji could play there, had we stayed in Boonah a bit longer. That's what Rebecca did!
posted by jcm

You think Zacky and Koji are playing the train museum shop, but they know they are on the Island of Sodor.
posted by jcm

Though he didn't actually say so, I suspect that Koji liked this train as much or more than the real trains we saw there at the museum.
posted by jcm

The kids enjoyed wearing the glasses too...
posted by jcm

At the train museum, we were able to go on a blacksmithing tour. I admit it wasn't riveting (yes, I'm trying to be funny...), though it was interesting to know that the smithy there is actually used for making real-world railway engine parts, tracks, etc. even today. The best part of the tour was obviously the cool glasses we got to wear.
posted by jcm

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day One in the Wonderful Land of Oz

The fact that we went to Australia from July 12-20 for no apparent reason is likely a source of confusion; at least to those who knew we went and have nothing better to think about (that leaves no one!). In fact, we did have a reason, and he is pictured at left. His name is Isaac James Emery, and he is 22 month old eldest son of my dear friend Rebecca. We first knew hints of him when Rebecca and Michael came to visit us in Chicago nearly three years ago. Koji was still six months from being born, and they said, "we're thinking of trying to have a baby soon". That baby was Zacky, and what a sweet baby, rather,
little boy; baby priveleges in the family have been ceded to three month old Joel Lachlan, at right (his mum...not mom, "mum," this is Australia we're talking about here!...assures me this is his natural hair-do! very stylish!). As you all know, in the subsequent years since their visit to us in the States, we had a combined total of three family members we had yet to introduce to one another! I was on a mission to remedy this sad situation almost from the moment I knew we were coming for this extended stay in Tokyo. It made sense to me to trek to Oz from here (eight hour flight) rather than Chicago (18 hours? more? I don't even know, I've always been afraid to research it, as the 13 hour flight from O'Hare to Narita is Aogu's absolute maximum limit), for reasons of flight length and said flight cost.
Wonderful, shocking husband Aogu actually agreed to my proposal; I admit there was a process involved, but the point here is, he agreed. Furthermore, he wanted to join us for the weekend.
That, my friends, is how Koji and I found ourselves on the 9:35 p.m. Japan Airlines flight 761 to Brisbane on Tuesday night, July 12.
At this rate, giving you the highlights of our trip will take quite some time. Lo, I am not content with mere highlights but am mysteriously compelled to provide a myriad of details--tangents--that impede rather than speed my quest to arrive at the point! I'll get there someday; come along if you dare!

A rear view of Michael & Rebecca's house in Boonah, Queensland. Don't be alarmed; I promise to explain later!
posted by jcm

On the afternoon Koji and I arrived in Boonah, after the kids woke up from their naps (make that Zacky, I don't think Koji ever went to sleep), we decided to go out for a walk. We had barely made it a block down their street when suddenly we were caught in a huge rain shower. I was reminded of how out of shape I am as I tried to sprint back to the house while pushing the stroller! Here's Rebecca and the kids all wet and gasping for air under the house.
posted by jcm

This is the requisite bath picture a parent feel compelled, even obligated to take when their child is taking a bath with a friend. And no, I couldn't get them both to look at the camera at the same time, or that's the picture I would be posting!
posted by jcm

Michael took over book-reading duties before bed that first night, and I didn't mind at all...from the looks of it, he didn't either!
posted by jcm

Monday, July 25, 2005


If you are afraid of long words (hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobic) then don't read this post! Ricardo suggests that I need a name for my affliction. I agree, because I certainly do struggle with the following fear, as evidenced by my experience at Kumi & Brian's wedding (see July 23rd post). I consulted an authoritative source and the following was the best I could come up with:

Athazagoraphobia- Fear of being forgotton or ignored or forgetting
Selaphobia- Fear of light flashes (I couldn't find a phobia for the fear of cameras, so this seemed the closest equivalent)


Athaselazagoraphobia- Fear of losing one's camera

Heeere's Jess!

Before we went to Australia, we got to see Jess! She was our third visitor from Evanston since we arrived four months ago (the first two were Mark & Julie, thanks again for coming!). That's three more visitors than we expected! Keep on coming, have approximately three and a half more months to take advantage of your free tour of Tokyo.
Jess, her friend Megumi, and Megumi's friend Rei came for dinner on Monday, July 11th. Megumi later--via Jess--complimented me, saying something like, "when she speaks English, she's American, but when she speaks Japanese, she becomes Japanese." Thanks, Megumi! This may be true, but it also left me feeling a little awkward when Jess & co. initially arrived. We were all happy to speak English so Jess would know what we were saying, except I always--this time was no exception--feel so weird speaking English to Japanese people. No one was thinking twice about it except me, likely. And the awkwardness I felt soon dissipated
as Koji got us involved in a game of "umbrella golf". See the picture above...By the way, if you think Jess' lips look strangely purple in the above picture, it's not that our room is that cold (though we do have a nice air conditioning system that I'm more and more thankful for). No, we started this game of golf just after eating a berry dessert; perhaps Jess' next tube of lipstick should be this shade? (just kidding, Jess!) The following day was the day Koji and I left for Australia, but our flight was scheduled for 9:30 p.m. While Koji was off at nursery school for the morning, Jess and Megumi and I met for some girl time at Arisugawanomiya Memorial Park. There were a few too many mosquitoes there loving the taste of my ankles, but otherwise it was refreshing to be in the middle of downtown Tokyo surrounded by trees. After a trip to a 100 yen shop (what with I do without you, beloved 100 yen shop?!!), we finished off with some coffee at Segafredo. The only dissatisfactory aspect of Jess' visit was that we didn't get to spend more time together. Thanks for coming, Jess!!

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Belated Congratulations

Brian and Kumi were married on the 2nd of this month at Tokyo Union Church in Omotesando. Omedeto to them! Brian was a classmate of Aogu's at CAJ, and would have been mine too, had I not returned to Oregon after my freshman year there and before he came in. Kumi was in high school at CAJ when I returned to Japan as an English teacher on the JET Programme. I was pleased to know her initially as a faithful participant in Hi-BA, which was a kind of Young Life program for high schoolers that I helped with on my spare time. We managed to keep in touch as she graduated first high school, then Bryn Mawr College and started her current career at Standard & Poor's. She is a beautiful young lady and a blessing to all who know her, most of all Brian, who has the great fortune of being her husband now. I wish them a wonderful life together, and pray that we can remain good friends, though they are most likely moving off to New York next month (the second set of friends in as many months to do so...can my very first visit to the city be close at hand? perhaps yes?).

Here's a little story about my personal experience at their wedding. Caveat: their wedding in general was a very happy one, and particularly so for them, I hope. However, this story is mostly a sad one. First, Aogu and I had been looking forward to attending their wedding together for more than a month, even carefully arranging for friends to watch Koji. Alas, the night before the wedding, Koji didn't sleep well and generally gave us reason to believe he was sick (I need a good English translation for the Japanese word "kazegimi," which means something like "cold-ish," not exactly down with a cold, but having symptoms of starting down that slippery slope. Sometimes Japanese is so convenient.). So, between not wanting him to fully fall ill and the fear his possibly malady would be transmitted to our friends' little girl, we reluctantly decided he should stay home.
So I was elected to go to the wedding alone with the camera and instructions to take lots and lots of pictures. But, when Kumi and her parents started walking down the aisle and I opened my bag to take out the camera and start doing my job, the camera wasn't there.
I'd like to think I didn't disturb things too terribly much, sitting in the otherwise empty third row and very frantically emptying the contents of my little bag onto the pew in a desperate attempt to prove to myself that I was mistaken and in fact the camera had just fallen to the bottom of my bag. I must not have, because no one sitting behind or in front of me asked me what I was doing. Sure enough, the camera, which I need to point out here is pretty much Aogu's prize possession, second in value only to Koji, was nowhere.
Apologies to Brian and Kumi, because it really isn't their fault at all, but the rest of their wedding ceremony was lost on me, in fact, it felt more like a cruel stumbling block to my true mission: find the camera before Aogu knows that I've lost it. I didn't hear or see anything of the sweet Bible readings, special hyms and tender vows that were swirling around me. All I could think was, I'm nearly positive I didn't drop it in the subway, and my bag is so small that if I had, I should have noticed, so where could it be? How many more times will I have to teach that Tuesday night English class before I'll be able to afford to buy another one?
I was miserable.
I seriously debated getting up and leaving the sanctuary so I could call Aogu, confess my sin and start my punishment earlier. Not that Aogu would actually punish me; however angry or frustrated he might be, it would still be better than the exquisite torture I was putting myself through, sitting there thinking how stupid and irresponsible I must surely be.
So, finally the torture, I mean the ceremony, came to an end. I stood up. The three women in front of me stood up. I can't remember exactly what we said to one another, but moments into the conversation, one of them dug into her bag and pulled out MY CAMERA!! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...
She said that she found it under the pew before the ceremony started, but she didn't know whose it was and she didn't want to interrupt things by asking those around, so she put it in her bag, thinking she would give it to the MC of the reception and he could locate the owner.
I started to cry.
Too much relief at being released from all sorts of prisons and pain I had imagined for myself (did I mention I have a healthy imagination. well.) washed over me and out my eyes and down my face. I was utterly happy to have the prize back in my possession, so it didn't quite occur to me then as it did just a few minutes later to be somewhat annoyed at the woman. Why couldn't she have just turned her head and asked if I had dropped the camera? If the gutting of my bag onto the pew didn't bother anyone, I hardly think a little whisper around would have. And I would have been spared the agony, then also the ecstasy, that I suffered during Brian and Kumi's wedding.
Moral: the next time I find something someone else has apparently lost, I must make effort to reconcile said object with said owner sooner rather than later!!
Anyway, the reception was fun and well done by the couple's friends and family. And someone should give Erika a medal for all she did to make it a great day for them, including but not limited to baking five delectable cheesecakes! Otsukaresama deshita~

Test Results

Follow-up for those who have been tuned in to this blog: Koji successfully passed the "Worm Test," and is now eligible to go swimming, or at least engage in water play with his mates at nursery school now.
Phew. All that trouble (see June 27th entry, sorry I'm not cool enough to know how to link you back to it) was nearly worth it!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Costco-fans-to-be, come forth

As many of you know, I'm a die-hard Costco fan, though I report that fact with a feeling of sadness and regret, as I haven't actually been to said warehouse of delights in quite some time. I'm almost desperate enough to go there by train! In case I had been on the fence about Costco before (not that I had been, but let's just pretend), I was sold when I read this. Although I pray God gives me at least two more children, if and when I can ever go back to work, maybe I should work at Costco?

My Size Watermelon

Koji loved this watermelon I ordered from the grocery delivery co-op a few weeks ago, and it's easy to see why: it was just his size! We ate it in a jiffy, and I wanted another, but alas, at the market today they were quite a bit more expensive than the co-op. Not to mention even a little melon would have felt American-sized, had I carried it home in my backpack. There wasn't room in my backpack anyway, what with the five kilos (eleven pounds) of rice, two liters of ginger ale, and a liter each of milk and juice already in residence!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Comments on Comments

Friends and family, thank you for reading this blog and making comments! Your feedback fans my flame. And I want to comment to your comments, so I've finally decided that I will do so, in the comments section. I've added some comments to the last week of posts, and I will maintain this system going forward, so please check back on what you said to me! Are we having fun yet?!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Here's Where It Started: Circa 1976

As you'll note in the comments, my mom still has this bedspread that my sister and I laid on when I was three and she was less than one so we could have a book read to us. My mom's triceps must have been something in those days (er, I'm sure they're great now too, right mom?!) because I have a suspicious we were in this position quite a lot. So now you know where the love of reading I was referring to--obsessing about?!--yesterday came from! Posted by Picasa

Great to be an Engine

Oh yes it's great to be an engine
As you're steaming along
Huff puff puffing along
Peep peep peeping along

What song is playing in your head right now? You mean, it's not a selection from "Thomas and Friends: Songs and Stories 3"?! Well, I may be just as special as I thought I was after all!
And, I do have the advantage over you. After all, you probably haven't watched the previously mentioned DVD at least twenty-nine times in the last nine days or so. But I have! And that's how I know all the words to "It's Great to be an Engine" and several other Thomas hits.

Lately, I'm ready to read a book or two or ten. This inclination may be connected to the record seven straight days I've just spent here in the room?! And thank you for praying for me, I am feeling much better now (though I am still slightly deaf in my right ear, I'm not suffering because that's not my phone ear)! I plan to break out of this place tomorrow for a wild and crazy trip to the market.

So I was saying that I'm ready to read a book. During these last days, lacking a book and having mostly the computer (and a cute little boy!) for company, I've read more than my fair share of blogs and other websites. Some sound very intellectual and analytical and logical; great for them, but they leave me feeling either bored or inferior, or a little of both. Here's where I remind myself that comparing myself to those bloggers is useless, because God has made them to write/think/BE that way for a reason. Likewise, He has NOT made me in the same vein, again for a reason that He knows better than I (maybe if I was like "that"--does anyone know what I mean when I say "that"--I actually would be boring. Which I like to think I'm not.).

Thankfully, we're off to Boonah, Queensland, Australia on Tuesday night. English is spoken there! Maybe I can get some BOOKS! Though books are heavy, so I'll have to be very particular about what I choose. And I'll have to *mostly* resist the strong pull I'll feel from the magazine racks, because they're almost as heavy as books, and temporarily more entertaining. The key word is temporarily! Before you know it, you've read the whole darn magazine, you've got six thousand thoughts about a hundred different things swirling around in your head, and you're out the hour it took you to get that way.

HA! Let me look back at this post when I get back to the good old USA, land of cheap magazines and see if I'm so scornful then!!

Oh yes it's great to be an engine
As you're steaming along
Huff puff puffing along
Peep peep peeping along

PS. Dear Grandma, if you are reading this, thank you for reading this. I am a shameful granddaughter who doesn't take the time to email you all of the emails I have emailed you inside my head. So let me take it public-- I love you and I'm so thankful you're my grandma!

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Last Friday, Aogu had the day off. I know, isn't that crazy?! It wasn't a Japanese holiday or anything; just the day his company's Tokyo office was founded or something. We were able to have a three-day weekend in spite of July Fourth not being a holiday here.
Better yet, we were able to take advantage of Aogu's day off by very belatedly going on our fourth anniversary date. Woohoo! We chose to go on a two hour dinner cruise in Tokyo Bay with
Symphony Cruise. Aogu's parents came to the Room here to stay with Koji, and we were off for our "Sunset Cruise," from 4:30-6:30 with a buffet dinner. Here we are, ready for dinner.

After dinner, we went the upper two decks for a walk. With the breeze blowing off the water, it was almost cold, which was a welcome change from the muggy, hot air that's been usual for the last month or so. We could see Haneda Airport just in front of us. I was amazed at the number of planes taking off; one every two minutes or so, it seemed. I was reminded that I love being outside and on the water, and better yet with "Cool Hair" Aogu!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

None of the Above

So yesterday I was sure I had either tonsillitis or strep throat, or maybe both?! I really wasn't feeling well, and as I just couldn't make it to the Tokyo British Clinic (which I wasn't terribly upset about), I decided to try the Ark Hills Clinic, ever so conveniently located in the building next door.
The clinic doesn't take appointments; thankfully I didn't have to wait long (but while I was waiting I saw one of my former students! The weird part was, she acted like she didn't know me...and I didn't feel like I could say anything to her without remembering which school I taught her at, which I didn't until she left. Oh well). The doctor listened to my story, looked at my throat and checked my glands and then said that he didn't see any bacteria. Huh? If bacteria was visible to the naked eye, wouldn't someone have seen it and figured it out long before Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1673?!
Though he didn't confirm or deny my self-diagnoses, he did give me a five-day prescription for antibiotics, and he didn't charge nearly as much as the British Clinic doctor, so believe it or not, the next time I get sick, I'll probably go back to him...


最近仰司がゲップした後、”Excuse me"と自分から言えるようにと訓練させてます。自分のかってな考えなのかわからないけど、日本人はゲップしても”すみません”と言わないような気がします。だから、”Excuse me"のほうがいいかなと思って仰司に言わせようとすると、どうやらその返って来る言葉は必ず"踏み切り”ですよ!

Next WBA Champ?

More TV than usual was on view around the room here on this, our third but likely not final day of staying in. This morning, I found a show featuring a little boy doing something sporty and unusual for his age.
"BO-CHICKEN!" Koji shouted. "BO-CHICKEN!"
To you and I, that's "boxing".

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Winner: Strep Throat or Tonsillitis?!

Stay tuned to this blog to find out whether the Doozy of a sickness I referred to yesterday is Strep Throat or Tonsillitis!! Exciting stuff...
Yes, I'm being sarcastic, and yes, I'm still sick. It's really a drag. When I woke up this morning, my throat was even more swollen than the day before, though thankfully my fever seems to be gone.
Problem (and this is universal to all sick moms): I don't have any sick days. There is no one to come and do my "job" of taking care of Koji and this Room while I'm sick. For that matter, there's no one to take care of Koji so I can go to the doctor, which I'm ever so reluctantly having to admit, may be the next step.
All the websites I searched for info to help me make this self-diagnosis said the same thing: get antibiotics. Fine. But if only that didn't have to involve a trek on the train with Koji and then a walk up the hill with Koji and time in the waiting room with Koji to talk to that ancient white man with a psuedo British accent with Koji, then I would already be there. Can you sense that I am reluctant to take Koji?
Don't get me wrong, he is a wonderful son and I love him dearly. But he is TWO . If you need more explanation than that to understand why I don't want to take him along to the doctor with me while I am sick...well, you might have to wait until you are blessed with your own two year old.
So it's aforementioned son's naptime, and yes, I did take a nap too, but mine ended sooner. While I was looking around online just before, I found a personality test. In case I wasn't sure of my Meiers-Briggs personality type, now I am and here it is! One new thing though: I have never before been told that I would make a good politician.
And thanks for listening to all of this talk about me. Next time I'll try to focus on someone/something else for a change!

Your #1 Match: ENFP

The Inspirer

You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.
You are also unconventional, irreverant, and unimpressed by authority and rules.
Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.
You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're qutie the storyteller!

You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

Your #2 Match: ENFJ

The Giver

You strive to maintain harmony in relationships, and usually succeed.
Articulate and enthusiastic, you are good at making personal connections.
Sometimes you idealize relationships too much - and end up being let down.
You find the most energy and comfort in social situations ... where you shine.

You would make a good writer, human resources director, or psychologist.

Monday, July 04, 2005


Happy Fourth of July everyone!
There's the beginning and end of my celebration this need to feel sorry for me, that's just the way it goes when one is living outside the U.S. and the Fourth falls on a Monday when one's (Japanese!) husband has to work and furthermore, one is sick as a dog (that's what my dad always says, I don't really know how sick a dog is but it sounds pretty bad).

Yes, I'm sick.
I wouldn't bring it up but I don't get sick often so I when I do, it's a doozy! And I'll just have to keep calling this sickness "Doozy" since I don't know what it is. Suffice to say that my throat is quite swollen and painful and I'm in and out of Feverland with body aches as a bonus. I'm feeling a little better today, and I'm also feeling the pressure of untold stories from the weekend, so I'm sitting up at the computer though perhaps I should be laying down (but that's so boring and it's what I did all day yesterday and 12 hours of last night and another hour and a half just before, so I excuse myself from that posture for this moment)?

Here's the main story I want to get down before I forget; it's not really a story, more of an anecdote (or did I just want to say "anecdote," hmm?). Yesterday as we were riding the train home from church--setting aside debates of whether it was wise for me to go to church--we saw a poster advertising Star Wars: Episode 3-Revenge of the Sith, which is due to open here in Japan next Saturday, July 9th. The picture on the poster was of two figures dueling with lightsabers. Koji spotted the poster before Aogu or I did, and right away he pointed to it and shouted,
"Mama! Look, tennis!"

He and Aogu have been watching a lot of Wimbledon lately.