Friday, November 25, 2005

Better than Leftovers

Aogu and Koji had a craving for ramen today, surprise surprise.
So we headed out to our favorite Japanese restaurant, Renga-tei. Nothing went wrong...oh, except they don't have ramen! Good to know; from now, we have to go with instant ramen or drive to Kitakata. I like ramen too, but I'm too newly home from Tokyo to feel that 40 minutes' drive is worth it...shouldn't there be some kind of ramen stand right down the street...where am I anyway?!
As I was saying, they didn't serve ramen, so Koji had udon, Aogu had a sushi plate and I had curry rice with a fried pork cutlet *just as low-cal as it sounds*. This will continue to be our favorite Japanese restaurant because it's five minutes from us, it's rather inexpensive as Japanese food goes, and the waitstaff actually speak Japanese. But for fresh-off-the-plane me, it was a let down.

It was MUCH MUCH better than shopping on Black Friday though! I don't dare do that, unless I'm with my mom and sister and we're on our way to Meier & Frank.

P.S. If I'm not mistaken (which I might be, I'm too lazy to check right now) Meier & Frank is going to suffer the same name change as Marshall Field's soon. I don't think it'll be the same, as Macy's. The end of a shopping era. Sad for me...happy for my wallet, er, for Aogu.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Big Three

Happy Birthday to Ollie, the best three-year-old nephew ever!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone else...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Transition in Pictures, Part One

Undated file photo in which Koji is "smiling" on cue -- amazing!
posted by jcm

Airport rule: the more bags you have, the longer it takes to check in
posted by jcm

The entertainment options on this flight are too numerous for me to even think of sleeping
posted by jcm

Finally!! If only this state had lasted longer than three hours...
posted by jcm

Aya started in earning her keep with the vaccuum cleaner immediately. The ideal guest...
posted by jcm

Back at Koji's house, but just to change and get ready to go to Costco
posted by jcm

Koji looks happy but I'm not; after I bought a box of these wipes and started in on them I found that Costco has downgraded to a much smaller sized, cheaper feeling wipe. I am very disappointed in my favorite store!
posted by jcm

Just as we suspected, American stuff is enormous!
posted by jcm

Transformation process
posted by jcm

Thanks to Ken's steady hand and a Mary Kay eyeliner in Sable, Koji was transformed into a "professor" in no time! And a very serious one at that.
posted by jcm

If only I could say "trick or treat" in Japanese and be understood, I would feel much more comfortable...
posted by jcm

Professors like chocolate too
posted by jcm

Family resemblance
posted by jcm

Monday, November 21, 2005

When I Get Some Money...

Since I can't remember if I've memorialized a certain quirk of Koji's here, I've decided to assume that you can't remember either.

Lately Koji has become aware of
money. It probably--make that definitely--started last month when we were at Lake Kawaguchi with the Dream Church gang. We went out for a one-hour ride around the lake; on a clearer day we should have been able to see Mt. Fuji just there where Ken's hands are. It was a nice ride, nevertheless.

After the boat ride, we were milling around the small harbor, trying to figure out what to do next (group decisions = fun times). Koji spotted a gaggle of swan boats and became intensely interested in going for a ride. Aogu took him over for a look, but apparently the fee was quite high. Therefore, the explanation for not riding was "no money". Also, "short legs"--but that one apparently didn't hit home in the same way as we've since heard Koji declaring that his legs are long... huh?

In the month plus since that time, Koji has not forgotten his beloved "tori boat" (bird boat). In fact, if anything, his love and longing have intensified, to the point that he was in tears last week begging Aogu to find a picture of tori boat to look at on the computer. Thankfully, this fabulous site provided us with the stunning and soothing shot at left. Phew.

Furthermore, whenever we happen to handle coins in Koji's presence, a light goes on over his head and he says, "お金くさだい”(money, please). When we ask what for, without fail he solemnly replies that he will use to ride the tori boat. This son of ours is a man of purpose and vision, indeed.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bad Timing = Fast Food

See the above equation?
It's the unfortunate answer to the question of "what happens when Jamie takes Koji out in the morning and then overestimates her ability to get them home in time for his nap and then needs to feed him lunch in the car?"
We've been back in the good old U.S.A. for a mere three weeks, and already, the child has re-learned love for pizza and hot dogs. Furthermore, like some kind of mini food blogger, and thanks to the wonder of the Drive Thru, he's sampled kids' meals from McDonald's, KFC and Burger King. *sigh*
When we drive past McDonald's, he shouts, "chicken mac!".
But actually, the "chicken fry" pieces from Burger King are a little easier to eat on the road than McNuggets. However, Burger King gave him fries even though I asked for a side of applesauce. KFC lets you choose a side dish for your laptop meal, and their choices are broader than "fries or applesauce," which is nice. I didn't anticipate that the macaroni and cheese I chose for Koji would become his entire meal, although I guess it clues me in on how to order next time. No need to pay for that fancy box, granola bar, chips or even chicken if he's going to stop after the mushy noodles anyway, right?
As long as I'm coming clean, I'll further admit that I too ordered from all of the above. I wonder why I don't learn that a "Value Meal" is NOT a value when I can't possibly eat it all and I end up pouring two-thirds of some hideously sweet beverage on the ground? Other random observations: KFC's potato wedges are admirable in their intentions: be different from the competition. However, I found them to be so utterly fried that they hurt my mouth and I could only eat a couple of them. And I don't think I have an overly sensitive mouth. The fries from McDonald's in Japan are much better than McDonald's USA...or at least McDonald's Skokie. Burger King fries are tastier than either though none of the places mentioned can hold a candle to In-N-Out Burger. I wonder when my next visit there will be? It's ironic: In-N-Out is one burger joint I wouldn't feel bad driving Koji through to. But, I don't think he would go for it because they don't sell hunks of fried something-like-chicken.
Guess I'll just have to just start packing us a lunch, or at least more snacks. Ha!! Or maybe I should just knock out the first part of my equation...
P.S. Yes, I feel proud that it's now Saturday and the last time we drove though was on Tuesday. And yes, it's sad that it doesn't take much to make me proud.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Opthalmologically Speaking

Could there be any connection between my recent visits to the opthalmologist and the fact that I have perused, read, lost myself in five books since our return?! Nah...

In order read, they were:
Ravenheart by David Gemmell, which I bought at a shop next to our departure gate in Narita Airport. We did have a night flight, so I perhaps should have been preparing myself to sleep. But I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep much and I had a little yen burning a hole in my pocket, so I bought it. Good thing: I went through half of it on the plane and the rest at home when I should have been unpacking the next day. This is spite of the fact that the book itself, as Book Three in a series, was breaking my rule of "read a series in chronological order".

Didn't get much reading done for the rest of the week, but the following Monday I packed Koji off to the library to hunt for the rest of the series. I found, and subsequently stayed up much too late reading Sword in the Storm (which has one of those nasty scary stereotypical fantasy book covers that I don't like). I also picked up a book from that Time list, but I didn't read it because it wasn't about the Rigante. Instead, I wandered over to my own bookshelf and picked up Tales from Earthsea & The Other Wind, which I read with great interest though in order to do so I had to make another exception to the aforementioned rule about series. I haven't read the Earthsea Cycle, though I've seen the SciFi Channel miniseries version...

Maddeningly, my next visit to the library did not yield the second book in David Gemmell's series, so I had no choice but to skip ahead to Stormrider, which was a mostly satisfying conclusion to the series, I think, though I don't actually have all the information yet, do I? Better luck on my next trip to the library?

Finally, I polished off a book from the NEW section of the library, The Crown Rose. It was billed as historical fiction set in medieval France, so I read it with great interest as I don't know much about that time and place. *spoiler alert!* My interest flagged towards the end when the author managed to tie the people and events together around some central figures who were revealed to be the son and daughters of Mary Magdalene by Jesus Christ.

I kept reading anyway, but my enjoyment was spoiled. Why do authors want to ride on the coattails of The DaVinci Code? Rhetorical question, I know it's because that's what's selling big these days. But as for me, I just don't like it when people tell lies about Jesus, even in the guise of fiction.

Off to put some drops in my eyes...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Dandelion Club

About 20 minutes from here, down on the north side of Chicago, is a building that houses the JASC (Japanese American Service Committee). Though I'm not familiar with most of their activities, I'm thrilled with the one that Koji and I discovered Monday: the Dandelion Club.
This name is my approximate translation for "Tampopokai," the play group that meets at the JASC building Monday mornings. My first impression was very positive; the teacher was super energetic, the songs were all in Japanese, the snacks were well organized (and there was coffee for moms!), and the craft was well thought out to be interesting for kids and parents.
I was a little surprised at how much the teacher spoke in English; it was hard to tell which other families were or weren't fluent in Japanese (and therefore needed English instruction). But, I still think it's a great class. Hopefully Koji thought so too as I'm planning to put "Dandelion Club" on the calendar for many Mondays to come!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

My Least Favorite Word

Why yes, I am reading the Chicago Tribune online right now. How did you know?

Do you think something like this will ever happen to my blog? Uh, no, I guess I don't either, but I am still enjoying putting my thoughts and our pictures out there for your perusal.

One great reason I don't think this blog will ever become part of a big media conglomerate: I HATE the word "blogosphere" it even a word? May it never make the dictionary!

Good Job, Chicago

Not that we actually live downtown, but I still found this report interesting. A friend and I were talking about the subject of living downtown and thereby driving less, just a couple of weeks ago in Tokyo. I mentioned some of the same reasons for living downtown noted in this article, but I was kind of talking off the top of my head. It's good to know that I wasn't completely fabricating a story!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Two Months and Ten Days Later

Look at Eli! Isn't he cute! I don't care if I'm his auntie, I know you think so too...not only is he smiling now, he even rolled over the other day. In addition to being a tough heart surgery survivor, he's a child prodigy, right? Just because one, two, or even fourteen (Koji's favorite number) times isn't enough, let me thank you again for praying for him. See what your prayers did!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hot Stuff

In the spirit of that Bible passage which says something like, "to whom much has been given, much will be required," now that we're back in our huge house (by American standards it's really not that big but it feels cavernous to us right now, compared to The Room), I want to share it.

So, call me a martyr, but today I had 10 moms and 16 kids--only one over the age of two--over for lunch. Yes, it was utter chaos, but it was mostly fun chaos until the incident.

A kind friend had brought over some cornbread in a Pyrex dish and baked it in my oven. When it came out of the oven, I put in on top of an electric burner next to the rest of the food that I was serving buffet-style. After awhile, I started to smell something. I realized the burner under the cornbread was on high!

Though I quickly removed the pan from the burner and started to try and salvage the cornbread, I was too late. The glass dish exploded in my hands! Thank God that all 16 kids and most of the 10 moms were nowhere nearby when this happened. And furthermore, I didn't even get hurt...except that part of me that wants things to be perfect and feels terrible when I offend someone! Not that my friend--owner of the pan and contributor of the cornbread--was offended, she forgave me very graciously.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day wasn't quite as fun for me. But everyone seemed to like the soup, and no one complained of glass shards in their bowl. Let me not be stymied! Moms and kids, please come visit again. I promise to re-learn how to manage four electric burners all at once *but have mercy, remembering that in Tokyo I had but one burner and it was gas*!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Happy Birthday, Dad!
You've done a great job as dad for 33 years now; and you've done a lot of other things well and to God's glory before and since~
May He give you another special year with some bonus "HOG" time too!
We love you,
Jamie, Aogu & Koji

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Evolving Dictionary

So a list of mis-pronounced words probably doesn't qualify as a dictionary, but I can't think of what else to call it and I'm too lazy to go poking around a thesaurus for a better word. Has anyone else ever thought that "thesaurus" sounds like a cousin of "tyrannosaurus"? No? OK, moving on.

I've wanted to make a little list of things Koji says that we understand perfectly though their delivery is a bit mangled. Unfortunately, these words are all Japanese words, so it doesn't make sense for me to introduce the list in English. Why should I make sense though? I'm the same one who confuses reference books with dinosaurs.

だいぶじゅ = 大丈夫
くさだい = 下さい
たまげに = 玉ねぎ
かっぴ = ヘリコプタ
こーき = 飛行機
エイ先生 = 先生
ヒモリ = ひろみ


     イエス様、 ケン アヤ もらったこと  アメン


High and Low

When I got Koji to bed tonight at the comparatively early hour of 8:15, I was high. I patted myself on the back and went into my bedroom for a blog-reading fest, which I can do now that we have a wireless network inside our house (but how about if we really upgrade to having an actual chair to sit on while peering at the laptop? looking at the computer upstairs can't be that fabulous if it starts to evoke memories of standing up for those high school summer job graveyard shifts at the green bean cannery...).

My high went low faster than you can say, "when are you going to change the title of your blog?" when I came out of the room 45 minutes later to hear a supposedly somnulent boy shouting, "MAMA! 乳乳くさだい!座って飲むから!" (that's "milk please! [I'm going to] sit up and drink!).


I really don't want my feelings about my life as a parent to revolve around the current waking status of my child. But it happens.

Now that it is one hour and thirty minutes after he went to bed, he might be asleep. Or not. But that, my friends, is the beauty and joy of not being in The Room anymore! We have more than one room! So I can come to this cave of a basement and ignore the fact that I hear mutterings from the monitor. Heh heh. And if I should be so foolish as to allow those monitored sounds to affect my emotional state, then I can turn it off. My high is coming back.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Excuses, Excuses

You thought I dropped off the blog, and I almost did!

It's been almost a week since we arrived back in the US, and since then I have been utterly occupied with the following, though not necessarily in the order listed:




Pita Inn

Baja Fresh


Fogo de Chao

Joy Yee's

That's right, folks. All we've done for this past week is eat and shop. Wait, I guess we did also clean and rearrange the house from top to bottom (a work in progress). And we might have prepared, served and eaten a Thanksgiving dinner for nine adults and two kids in honor of Ken and Aya's GREAT visit.

No wonder I didn't post for a week! In addition to all of the above, we even went for a walk in the park.

More soon, but for now, a good evening from one still jet-lagged traveler...