Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Look What I Made!

You already know that Aogu and Koji like ramen. So, as something of a New Year's Resolution, I decided to make ramen for them. I don't mean make ramen noodles, I mean the broth and other accoutrements that make ramen the wonderful, fabulous, irresistable dish that it is (for some).

What dedication I had! Though my new cookbook (given to me by my sister, Laurie, for Christmas) The Japanese Kitchen instructed me to start by boiling pork and chicken bones for seven hours, I was not deterred.

Though I had to prepare the chashu (barbequed pork) separately and with different seasonings, I did not give up.

But when I finally presented what you see above and breathlessly asked, "how is it?!!" and Aogu replied, "it's pretty good," I was unreasonably devastated. As he helpfully pointed out once I re-inflated, I shouldn't expect to make something so mysterious and tricky as ramen perfectly the first time.

And in fact, we did improve it the next couple of times we ate it (with seven hours of boiling, etc. you better believe I made a LOT of ramen soup and chashu!), though we have yet to unlock the secret of tonkotsu--that is, pig bone marrow--ramen as made in Aogu's hometown of Kumamoto, Kyushu.

Maybe we'll have to study some ramen sites and see what we can learn. Or, if you know something about making ramen, please share!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Bedbugs Be Gone

Clarification: as far as I know, we never had bedbugs. There were in that unexpectedly nasty hotel bed at the fancy Keio Plaza Hotel a few years ago, but I made sure to leave them there.

Now that we have these new beds, they won't come anywhere near! That is, Koji has a new bed, which is really the underbed or trundle part of the Robin bed. Our initial plan was to get the whole bed, but when we went to look at it, we realized it was pretty high for him. So we decided to buy this portion for now and leave the wheels off. It's been a great solution to the bed dilemma. He has fallen once but he was already so close to the ground, he didn't even wake up!
When we first brought the bed home for him, I had to scrabble to find a twin size sheet. All I could come up with was a flower print sheet with a ruffle on the top. I thought it would do, and I put it on without comment. About a week later, Koji was sitting on his bed and suddenly shouted, "why does this bed have flowers on it?!". The same day, I ran to Target and found the more appropriately boyish bedding you see here.
On the right is our bed, remixed. The bed itself isn't new, but the duvet and cover are. Since we've been married, we've always had a hodge podge of ill-fitting blankets covered with a beautiful quilt. No one knew about the inadequacies lurking under the quilt, but I certainly did--especially those nights I had to get up just to adjust the @#$%*&%# blankets. While we were in Tokyo, our bed had a duvet with a cover that was changed twice a week (um, no, the one you see pictured will probably never be quite that fresh) and it was so comfortable! No midnight adjustments were necessary. So as a Christmas present to ourselves, we decided to switch. And we will never look back! Furthermore, this duvet cover was so reasonably priced at Ikea that I'm considering purchasing another for rotation purposes.

Side note: "ETM" was made by my wonderful and creative Grandma, who knows that our motto is "Enjoy The Moment". Thanks Grandma!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fabulous Floridian Friends

Here we are, a couple Sundays ago, after lunch at Flat Top Grill. The occasion was the presence of Kathleen and Brad, who relocated to Florida about a year ago? and who are pictured in the middle of the group here. Catching up with them was great! The food at Flat Top, not so much. I don't know, it just seems a little weird to pay to go out and make your own food. Spoilsport attitude I know, but I can cook at home for free...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


In spite of an inability to move the left side of my body, I dragged Koji to the market this morning. While at Aldi, I found a puzzle storage kit on sale for $3.99. The same kit had caught my eye a month ago, but I wasn't willing to pay $9.99 for it. A third of the price sounded right, so I bought it.

Now, in case you're thinking, "I've never heard of her doing a puzzle!" you are correct. Puzzles aren't usually my favorite thing to do. But that's partially because I can't figure out to do with them if I start but don't finish. This kit will solve that problem, right? Not to mention that I can sit and work on it with my "good side" and not focus on the fact that I'm trying to keep myself immobile at home until my ribs heal.

The kit actually included a puzzle, some kind of painting of a train engineer standing in front of a train depot with a black steam engine and beautiful sunset in the background. Great! So I got to work, and then I even got a friend to work when she called to see if she could come by for a visit. We made some progress; of course we finished the frame and most of the depot...

Maybe someday I'll unroll the puzzle and see if I can fill in the tricky black train and blue/pink sky. Or maybe not.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Rib Bone's Connected to the...Toe Bone?!

I fought the law and the law won.

The law of gravity, that is.

An evil combination of slick slippers, tray of sodas, carpeted stairs and the aforementioned law of gravity came into play on me yesterday. I found myself flying in the air and landing on my ribs and hip and then slithering ungracefully to the bottom of said stairs. At the same time, I heard some weird screaming, and after some time, I realized it was me. Though I was in some pain, I didn't even cry, I just screamed for awhile. I'm nothing if not dignified...ha!

Have I mentioned here that I'm pregnant?

So that made the whole incident a thousand times worse; well, maybe more like a hundred. A thousand times would have been if I had fallen down head-first, which I didn't, praise God! But I was very, very shaken up.

And now I am very, very bruised. I have one in particular developing on my hip, and it's almost too bad that no one but Aogu will ever see it--that's how spectacular it's looking to become. My ribs feel the worst though. I never knew how one's ribs are connected to the entire body. They are involved, whether I am sleeping, eating, or even just sitting and breathing. I have to admit I've always kind of taken my ribs for granted--of course they are there holding my lungs and heart and all that together. No more. How can I take my ribs for granted, now that they shout at me when I move my toes?

Side note: though the more graceful would likely disagree on this line of thinking, I have to say that I'm actually impressed that I've lived in this house for almost four years, and this is the first time I've fallen down the stairs. Good job!?! A better job if I can be certain to make it the ONLY time I fall...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Palak Paneer and Other Culinary Failures

Perhaps because I didn't have much affordable access to herbs and spices in Japan, now that I do, I'm in the mood to cook experimentally. As you might expect, the results are mixed, at best.

Take yesterday and today. Yesterday, I got out Indian Home Cooking and decided to "whip up" (is it possible to whip up something that one has never tried before? I just got tired of saying "make"...) some palak paneer. You can click on that link, or I'll just tell you that it's a spinach dish with cubes of cheese. It may not sound appetizing, but it works out well for those who like spinach and cheese. That would be me.

But not Aogu, apparently, and that's the reason the dish was a failure. As far as I could tell, it turned out pretty well. The recipe I had wasn't for the creamy palak paneer that restaurants serve, but it was still very flavorful, and I suppose lower calorie as a bonus? In any case, he didn't like the spices, or he thought it was a little weird to combine spinach and cheese...? He couldn't even eat it all, which is a strong statement of how much it didn't agree with him. Mid-meal, I had to whip out some Japanese leftovers to bring him back to his senses.

As I was saying, I like spinach and cheese, and I like them together. Furthermore, this palak paneer tastes good to me. Hope I'll still be saying that in a few days after I've been eating it every day for lunch (or breakfast?).

Today, I failed in the baking department and there are no qualifiers like, "the cookies were delicious for him though I didn't care for them". No, they were just molasses and ginger flavored hockey pucks that were best for everyone when left in the garbage bin. Can't win 'em all, I guess.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Another Camera

Hopefully this won't sound like bragging because it's not meant to be: we have a lot of cameras. We have a video camera, two digital cameras, at least one "regular" camera," three cell phones with camera function...

Yes, we like to take pictures. We're not as good with managing them after that, but our organizational troubles deserve another post. Fortunately, the latest camera that's been added to our collection won't require any organization, which is perhaps one of its best features.

It's a webcam.

So now we can converse with Aogu's family in Japan and look at one another while we're chatting. Calling without video isn't a bad thing, but especially for Koji, this camera option is great. Wait, let me be completely honest...it's great in theory, but really funny to see that somehow, getting in front of the camera gives Koji some kind of stage fright!

He's usually very chatty and animated but when we put him next to the computer to catch up with his uncle and aunt in Japan, he froze up and wouldn't say much of anything. After awhile, he started to feel more comfortable. Many of his favorite toys were hastily hauled in for "show and tell". But things still didn't work out ideally; he kept putting the toys at their eye level as it appeared to him and therefore not in front of the camera...

He'll figure it out someday. Meanwhile, if you have a webcam and Skype 2.0, let's talk!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


This article is very interesting, and mind-boggling. I don't expect many will have time to read it all, but even if you don't have time to read it all, perhaps you have time to pray for Japan? Glib-sounding but true: Jesus is the only hope for problems like this.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Table Looks Like a Crabwalk?

Yesterday's inaugural gymnastics class was a rousing success, according to Aogu, Koji and the great pictures Aogu kindly took (I'll have to insert them later). With some trepidation, Koji walked on a balance beam. More enthusiastically, he "made pizza" (practiced doing the splits) and "made a table" (practiced a crab position). The only hitch was, they had to leave the gym area without playing basketball, which was heart-breaking, both for Koji and his little friend Ashleigh. Maybe I should go ahead and invest in one of those toddler basketball hoops? Or maybe that would only cause him to lose interest, knowing he can "play ball" anytime?

In any case, I'm glad I signed him up for the class!

One other piece of Koji news: after more than a week of head-scratching, Aogu and I finally solved a linguistical Koji mystery today. He's been exclaiming something that sounds like "pellet!" for more than a week, particularly when he jumps. I might add that he usually jumps on beds or sofas (as a clue for those who want to solve the mystery for themselves).

After a whole day of listening to him shout "pellet!," I couldn't stand not knowing what he meant, so when Aogu got home from work, we tag teamed him. We just asked him over and over, "what does "pellet" mean?" (we learned the persistent tactic from him). Finally, when I was just about to give up, he ran to a chair, held up an object triumphantly and shouted, "Pellet!".

It was a pillow.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Tactic Change

So I was feeling all ambitious about putting up a bunch of back-dated posts. I should have kept my big mouth shut. I can't even put up my "current" posts, let alone old ones.

However, I have put ALL of the pictures that I was going to use in those non-existant posts into my Flickr account. So if you click on the Flickr badge just down on the left, you can look at the pictures. If you still need to know more about what was going on there, let me know.

Maybe then I'll be inspired?!

Class is in Session

As I've likely mentioned here before, Koji is quite the jumper. Today, he jumped off the back of a chair in the basement--several inches higher than anything else I've seen him jump off--and laughed about it. He's also been doing somersaults successfully for months.

So I signed him up for "Tot Gymnastics".

That's how it is that he is off, with Aogu, at his first "class". The plan was for me to accompany him as the "Dad or Mom" part of the team that is required to show up. But, I'm sick AGAIN. ARGH. Now, I'm not happy about being sick but I'm not at all upset about Aogu taking Koji to the class. I'll still have nine more chances after this week.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Fashion Advisor

Today I took Koji to the mall because I had scheduled a much needed and long awaited eyebrow wax. Yahoo! I love to have hot wax applied to my facial hair so it can then be brutally yanked off by a smiling blonde lady named Hilda.

Maybe not. But I do quite like the results, and I'm willing to endure the pain to avoid the dreaded "mono-brow" and/or any other bushiness that results when I allow my brows to grow untended...for a whole year?! It's nearly been that long since I last had the pleasure of an eyebrow wax. Japanese women don't have bushy eyebrows--far from it--it's just that they don't seem to mind plucking or even shaving?!

This is why I was overly anticipatory as I wheeled Koji into Mario Tricoci. And accordingly, DEVASTATED when they said that kids aren't allowed in the "spa area". So, I could leave him in their lobby and some random receptionist would watch him while I was being waxed. Um, no. I almost cried as I choked out, "Never mind, I'll just cancel my appointment".

I should have known; I've never taken him there before. I let my excitement about being waxed overcome all logical thought. Now I'm still bushy and quite sad about it--also wondering if I should hold a grudge against Mario, or just chalk it up to my own stupidity?

In any case, what happened next was almost amusing enough to help me put the whole trauma behind. I went into a clothing store--once I could find one that I was familiar with--in the almost year since I last walked around this mall, thirteen, I counted them, thirteen stores had changed! Of course I was "just looking" but then, oops, I found a pair of pants on sale that I had to try on. So I went into the dressing room and parked Koji right outside.

Japanese sensibilities dictate that I have to take my shoes off in a dressing room (I should get over it, I'm probably just coming out with grimy socks since most other people don't possess the same sensibility?!), which I did after parking Koji right outside the door and going in. As I was putting on the pants, he called me, so it seemed to make sense that I should open the door once I had them on.

Then it also seemed to make sense to ask him, "how are they?" not that I realistically expect any kind of fashion advice from a two-year-old. I should have given him more credit.

He looked me up and down, thought about it very seriously and then replied, "It would be better if you had your shoes on."

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Shameless Back-Dater

Five more hours until we ring in the New Year at Nacional 27. It's been so long since I dressed up to go out that I'm not sure I know how to do it any more, and I should probably go get to work!

This is also a time when many people are likely thinking ahead to 2006 and feeling ambitious about tasks, accomplishments and changes which were left undone in 2005. My mind is firmly in the past though. I want to get caught up on the posts I didn't post while I was busy stuffing myself with chocolate cake in Oregon.

So my solution is this: I'll post all the posts I want to post but I'm going to back date them to the date that I should have posted them in the first place. No, I'm not obligated to admit this to you. But I am, mostly because some of them may go as far back as November. November, and soon December, will be archive fodder. Opening the archives is a bit of a pain, but I'm announcing my back-dating ways here, hoping that you'll be enticed to endure the pain for the sake of catching up on our photos and stories of the last month.

Hey, it's already 2006 in Japan. Weird. In any case,
HAPPY NEW YEAR!  新年あけましておめでとうございます!