Monday, December 31, 2007

2007: The Last Day

In an effort to persuade myself, if not you, that I've been keeping up with things on this blog, here I am to reflect on 2007. Furthermore, it actually is December 31st. Believe it or not, this is actually not some kind of back post meant to make you think that I've got my act together (though if you're willing to think that, thank you).

So, 2007. This was the year that Aogu started work at his new company, which was, and continues to be, a big deal. When he started, I don't know that either of us had any idea what to expect. We certainly didn't expect that his one colleague in the fledgling Chicago office would move away and leave Aogu on his own (though we hold no grudges and expect that said colleague will move back when the time is right). I don't know about Aogu, but I certainly didn't expect that he would embark on 35+ business trips (including day trips, but still!) and rack up nearly 100,000 frequent flyer miles. However, I did expect that he would enjoy his work more and feel that he is in a position to make a difference in the company, and thank God, that expectation has been fulfilled.

This year we reaped some benefit from Aogu's travel; we went to LA as a family twice, which was sweet for me since it felt like a bit of a homecoming. I thoroughly enjoyed the time with my grandma, aunt & uncle and several old friends, and I really hope (somehow!) to return in 2008. We also went to Oregon to celebrate Dad's 60th birthday, which means that he's getting a little older, but not any slower! We went to Galena with the Robles (it was way better than the Dells! :-) where do you want to go this year, guys?!) and to Detroit to visit the aforementioned colleague. I suppose 2007 is also noteworthy in that I didn't go to Japan at all (though Aogu went two or three times); that was a little strange, even upsetting, for me at moments, but I'm OK now because we are headed over in about two weeks for our first family visit in fifteen months!

Over the last twelve months our little baby girl Izumi started crawling and then walking and talking and overall flashing through so many different milestones that she's got my head spinning. She's 19 months now and not as chatty as some of her little friends, but still able to hold her own. Some of her words, not in any particular order: mama/papa/niinii (Japanese for "big brother") juice/nyunyu (Japanese for "milk") hai (Japanese for "yes") no/yes/baby/moo (said loudly in response to the sight of any animal with four legs, such as the giraffe statue at the Elephant Bar Restaurant, spotted yesterday. Credit to Rich for teaching her that first animal sound!) more/nai (Japanese for something that's gone or run out) ku (short for "kudasai" which is please in Japanese) mimi/meh/ashi ("ear" "eye" "leg") mine (where did she learn this?!) ikouka ("lets go") help/Bible (but only in the context of singing "Jesus Loves Me") Though we were too lazy to collect many girl toys for her until recently, her girlish instincts have blossomed nevertheless, and she can usually be found clutching one of her dolls. She's much more laid back, which brings some great balance to the family...

Koji over the last year: well, that's probably fodder for a separate post, or even a book. I can't grasp, let alone succintly summarize all the ways that he's grown and changed. He's in his second year of preschool and the "big brother" of the 3 & 4 year old class. He's become an amazing creator of all kinds of drawings and homemade weapons to defeat "kaiju (Japanese for a monster-like enemy)," constructed carefully out of used water bottles, tissue boxes, paper towel and toilet paper rolls, always finished with yards and yards of cellophane tape. He's much better at expressing his opinion, and almost always has one, which of course can be a good or bad thing. He still sucks his thumb, but not as much now that he's allowed to chew gum, and I don't think he's ever swallowed his gum though he likes to hide it on the roof of his mouth and try to fool me. He becomes angry and frustrated quickly, but he also recovers quickly and moves on to the next thing. He loves Izumi and plays with her a thousand times better than I ever would have asked or imagined; their current favorite game is to gather all the pillows and blankets in the basement and stuff them into a little tent and pretend they are "camping". He can say the alphabet, count to 20 and sing more songs than I can name, and all of the above is usually accompanied by top-of-the-lungs vocalization in Japanese, English or both.

I'm not good as many of my friends at expressing the gratitude and blessing that I feel because of the family that I've been given, so let me cap 2007 by speaking those words here: praise God Almighty for being so kind and generous to me in the gift of Aogu, Koji and Izumi. In 2008, I hope that I will take more time to reflect on this wonder and let Jesus, and you, know of just how much of it is in my every day life.

There should be even more of it at the end of May when our third baby is born! We don't know yet whether it's a he or she, but the fact that he or she is still with us and kicking (at 18 weeks) is enough to bring tears of joy to my eyes...

Finally, 2007 was the year that you kept reading what I wrote here (or waiting patiently for me to hurry up and post, please!); thank you for taking interest in my life. Love and blessings to you and yours for 2008!

P.S. Full disclosure: I've had various reasons through the year for not keeping up with this blog as I've wanted, but the lastest is this: I've succumbed to the lure of Facebook, and I can't believe I'm saying it, but I think that you should too!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Party for Izumi & Daycare Kids

This fall I've had Izumi in daycare once a week while Koji's at school. Initially, it was so that I could meet with a student I was tutoring. Unfortunately, he's moved away, but Izumi's really seemed to have fun with Mary and the other kids at Mary's place. And with Aogu traveling so much, I definitely need to take a break at least once a week! So last week, Mary, who is much braver than I would be, had a Christmas party for Izumi and the other kids at the daycare. Keep in mind that three of them are her age (1 1/2), one is three, and the other is five months. Mary, I appreciate you!

To the right: in their five hours a week together, Mary's gotten to know Izumi pretty well. She gave her a box of two twin baby dolls, and I don't think Izumi has been parted from them since.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Aristocratically Quirky

My brother-in-law and his wife taught me to play squash years ago when I had the time and energy for such pursuits (though I'd like to think I still do, but then again, that second fancy squash racquet that I invested in this past summer remains untouched...). Now it appears that they've brought me to the head of the curve when it comes to the latest sport that will help me get into the Ivy League. At least, that's what The New York Times said today. Wait, I guess I'm a little old for the Ivy League. Perhaps a kid-sized squash racquet for Koji's Christmas present?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Pump It Up, for the Fourth Time

I don't know if I've recorded it here each time it's happened, but today was the fourth birthday party we've been to at Pump It Up in the last year. Furthermore, each time, all of the celebratees (is that a word?) were Koji's school friends, so the guests were also the same crowd. I guess this is starting to sound like a complaint, but it's not, it's actually a voice of amazement that a place could be this fun! It would have to be for the same group of kids and moms to think that though we've already been there once...twice...three times, we still want to go again. And, I actually concur, I like it alot. It goes without saying, since this picture says it all, but Koji likes it too.

Here's the requisite group shot of the kids. I would love to tell you whose birthday it was, but in an thoroughly efficient manner, this party was actually in honor of seven kids, so I won't get started with trying to point them out. You will notice that Koji is terribly easy to spot in that orange shirt. I know you all think that I just like like orange...I might even venture to say that perhaps I almost like it as much as Jess, but I actually have an ulterior motive in foisting the color on my children. That is, they are easy to spot in a crowd! If you don't believe me, try it on your kids!

Koji celebrates with his friend, one of the honorees, Hibiki. I have a funny story, something Koji said about Hibiki, but it's only funny in Japanese, so I'll have to put that up in another post.

Anyone have a birthday coming up?

Monday, December 03, 2007

A New Niece is Here!

CONGRATULATIONS to my sister, who gave birth to her third baby today. It's a girl, and her two older brothers are delighted, as Izumi will be once she's old enough to understand family dynamics (having a girl cousin to play with on family visits will be a lifesaver!).

Her name is Aliyah Ruth Case, and she weighs five pounds and is 19 inches long.

Thanks to everyone who prayed while Laurie was on forced bed rest in the hospital for the last week, and for your prayers for the delivery too. I won't presume to tell that story, but if you really want to know then check the link above (later--she hasn't time for things like posting on her blog yet!).

Here's Dad & Mom--now FIVE-time grandparents, impressive--with Aliyah. Another impressive thing is the way they took care of Ollie & Eli for the last week while Laurs was indisposed. I know they didn't mind doing it, but I still think they'll have a reward waiting in Heaven!

Aliyah Ruth, can't wait to meet you in person...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Must Be Old 'Cause My Dad is 60

Dad's 60th birthday party went really well tonight. It must have, because we took so few pictures...and the ones we did take are on a camera that's not in my possession. If I get ahold of them, I'll post them here.

Anyway, it was an open house, and when it was all said and done, we decided that something like 56 people had been through, which really was only a small sample of those that know and love Dad. Our chili bar with rice and/or baked potato option seemed to be a hit, as was the chocolate cake (note to self, don't make ganache and try to put it on a cake immediately after, that just doesn't work).

Most important thing, I think Dad had fun. He didn't think he would, but I know that he did. Which he well deserved! Dad, you are a great guy--you probably don't want to live for 60 more years, but I wish you could, because you are doing well at getting a lot out of life. Keep it up...we love you!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Spiderman Invades Oregon!

Though Aogu's recently logged enough air miles to regain his American Airlines Platinum status, the kids and I haven't flown for almost five months. In June, when we went out to LA, Izumi was hardly walking and hardly talking. These days, she'd rather run--or at least attempt to--and though she still doesn't say many words, she's learned the communicative power of a shriek. Between these developments and the nasty cold that I caught from the kids two days ago (after holding it at bay for weeks!), I boarded our flight to Oregon today with much trepidation.

An hour into it, when we had already eaten our $11 worth of plane snacks, quaffed our free (but not for long? it's only a matter of time before we're charged for these too, I think?!) beverages and pretty much run through all the toys in the trusty Superman suitcase, I was ready to lean on the DVD crutch. Except that somehow, Aogu's laptop DVD adaptor didn't make it on board with us...this was quite a tragedy for me since I was super sleepy and I couldn't breathe through my nose, either, meaning I certainly wasn't feeling up for keeping the kids busy.

So thank God for the kindness of strangers! Koji decided to put on a little toy show, in which he displayed and explained every item from The Suitcase, for the ladies seated behind us. Miraculously, they were interested, or good at pretending to be so, for some little while. Once the show was over for them, Koji got the attention of Anika, a high-schooler from New York that was sitting across the aisle from him. She talked and played with him for more than an hour, until we were safely on the ground (with my eardrums intact! it's a miracle!) and into the Portland airport. Phew!

We went down to baggage claim, gathered our luggage, including our new suitcases and started out to the curb to wait for Dad. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was one of the ladies from the row behind us. In her outstretched hand was a "muscle Spiderman" costume that looked just Koji's size. Saying something like, "it was my grandson's and I was going to give it to my neighbor kid, but I think your son would enjoy it more", she gave it to us!

As soon as we got outside, Koji put it on. Now I wonder why I bothered bringing any changes of clothes for him; I have a feeling he's not going to need them!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Last Call for the Beach

On Sunday, October 7th, our housegroup started our new schedule, that is, we now meet on Sunday nights instead of Thursdays. For the entire week prior to our first meeting, I was frazzled just thinking about the day. No more going to church and then heading home for an entire day of lounging and reading the newspaper. After all, the kids would have to go to bed at 6:45 pm and actually go to sleep immediately for housegroup to go smoothly, but how would they do that if we didn't wear them out?

On the first day of the new schedule, Matt & Nadia came to our rescue by inviting us to Gillson Park Beach. They had just found a "secret" spot high up the beach that had a little hill for the kids to run up and down, which sounded like just the energy-expending activity I was looking for. We had a great time with them, so I can't explain why I only took this one picture of Izumi!

Next summer I hope to get out to the beach earlier and more often (this was probably our fourth visit for the entire year?!).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stand Out or Blend In: That Is The Question

Lately I've been sewing more (see pink dress in my profile picture). Now, I am NOT saving money by creating my own clothing, particularly in light of the fact that I buy 95% of my wardrobe straight off of clearance racks. However, I am motivated by wanting to be different. If I make my own dress/shirt/skirt, I can be very nearly certain I am the only owner of that exact item.

On the other hand, if I wanted to blend in, I'm not sure that I would be willing to make, or even pay to have made, one of these. It would be a GREAT Halloween costume, though a bit difficult to move around in since there seems to be no provision for the need to look around...

Not only did I want you to see these pictures, but I really couldn't pass up the opportunity to tie in chindogu, which are hilarious! Stand out or blend in?: something to think about, but the real question is, why don't I already own this book?!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wicked Famous Person

There's no logical reason why I would wait six weeks to tell you that on September 1st, Aogu, Darren, Cat & I went to see Wicked. Putting my delinquency aside, it was an excellent evening! I have to admit, it's been so long since I had an evening out of dressing up, going out for dinner and going to a show with my husband and good friends, well, there's really no way it could have been anything other than perfect. Except it kind of was even better than that because Glinda was our friend! Alright, I'm stretching the connection, but not that much: Erin M*ackey's father is a friend of Cat & Darren's, so Erin helped us get good tickets, and then she put on a super performance, just for us. I guess that's her job, actually, but she did it really well, and it was more exciting to watch knowing that we know her. Sort of.
And thanks very much to Cat & Darren not only for knowing Erin and arranging getting the tickets, but also for revving up the "going-out-for-an-evening" machine in the first place and buying us a delicious dinner at Morton's (Is that where we went? I remember that it was a steakhouse and that they showed us a live lobster as one of the specials of the day! I hope I'm not getting the name wrong!). The more I think about it, the more retroactively happy and satisfied I feel. When are you coming back?!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Ever since Noah's birthday party, which featured a Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) theme, Koji's been living for those moments he could get his hands on a set (pair?) of nunchucks. I honestly don't want him to think that weapons and fighting are the only cool things going, but when we spotted a TMNT kit on clearance at TJMaxx and it just happened to feature the coveted nunchucks, well, what could I do?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When There's a Will, There's a Way

Rich, Jenny and the girls came over for dinner and after dinner, incredibly, all of the kids went to bed (sort of...Calli got up a couple of times, but it still counted). They had just happened to bring their latest Settlers upgrade--Cities and Knights of Catan and I was itching to play. Aogu had to be on a conference call though, which meant that we couldn't be in the basement. The kids were asleep, or nearly, so we didn't want to be in the dining room either. As if I was going to let that stop me! I just picked up the table and moved it into the kitchen. Who knew that we have an eat-in kitchen?!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Possible Vocation?

This mischievous look might cause you to wonder what on earth Koji is doing to poor little Izumi's face?!
Let the aerial view set you at ease. He's brushing her teeth. Fine with me! It needs to be done but it's not usually a pleasant job, so I don't mind passing it off when the opportunity arises.
He's very thorough, he even makes her rinse at the end. Pherhaps he was inspired by our recent trip to the dentist?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ready for School?

During the yearly meeting for mothers at Koji's school today, for some reason, Izumi was totally captivated by Koji's teacher.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Danielle's Pirate Party

There's the guest of honor in the blue dress, watching Izumi take the first swing at the pinata, er, treasure chest. Happy 4th Birthday, Danielle!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Outing to the Zoo

Today we went to the Brookfield Zoo with the R*obles and the S*tucks. Here's all the kids in a row.
After the zoo, we had a picnic in the living room at Jason & Kristen's new house. It was a great day!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Actually, I'm Not the Oldest Around Here

We celebrated Aogu's 36th birthday with a family dinner at Merle's in Evanston.

One thing I'll never forget about that dinner: the entire time we were eating, Izumi kept pointing off to her right. She had a puzzled/frightened look on her face, and she made a kind of squeaky protest sound to match the expression. Every time she did it, I looked behind me to see what she was upset about, but the people sitting there weren't remarkable. Once she continued to protest after they left, I realized that the source of the trauma was a stag head hanging on the far wall! If you look closely at this picture, you should be able to see it just to my left. Poor baby, she is so afraid of animals!

One day later, I was finally able to serve up Aogu's favorite dessert: cheesecake. This one is from a Cake Bible recipe. I don't normally care for cheesecake, and even I liked this one, so I guess it was a winner.

Happy Birthday, dear Aogu; I hope this year is significant and full of blessings!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Love and Dentist in the Same Sentence

After a five year hiatus, I went to the dentist today. Seeing as Koji is well past four and hasn't ever been, I took him along for his first appointment. I really didn't know what it would be like as there are always horror stories about little kids at the dentist's office. Not to worry, Koji had a grand time and even asked me tonight before he went to bed if he can go back again tomorrow...
I don't normally publish photos of myself in unflattering positions, but I think this one (and the myriad of others that look nearly like it) are pretty funny. The story is, Koji had to wait while I was getting my teeth checked, and fool that I am, I didn't bring anything along to entertain him. So I let him root through my bag and play with whatever. Well, it didn't take long for him to unearth the camera, and then of course he wanted to take a picture or two or ten...the one above and this one are the "best" two...speaking of two, I have two cavities, but I actually think that's pretty good considering I haven't been to the dentist in five years!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Eeww, 35?!

So I've been on a major hiatus from posting here, perhaps because I'm paralyzed by an event that took place over a month ago. Note to self, and anyone (Mom?) who still opens this blog looking for the increasingly unlikely new post: I'm putting this up on Sept. 17th though the post date says otherwise.

Said event was my Thirty-Fifth Birthday. God's blessed me with a lot of friends who seem convinced that getting older is better, but I guess I missed that boat. I'm just not excited about it.

However, I am excited about the fun that I had at my birthday parties. It must sound oxymoronic of me to say I'm not thrilled about something, oh, but I had two parties to commemorate it anyway. I'm paradoxical like that. Or maybe I just wanted to say "paradoxical".

The first party was a bocce/food/bowling party at Pin stripes in Northbrook. I'm too lazy to link to it here, but I have to say, if you live in the area and are intrigued by the idea of "chic bowling (speaking of oxymoronic...)" then you should google it and go there. It was really fun! Thanks very much to the friends who joined me for the evening--especially Jenny, who organized, and Aogu, who financed all the delicious food--I hope we can do that again soon. Not the getting older part, the part where we went out together and made some fun memories.

So since I'm a little down about turning 35, I'll just admit it here and open myself to criticism or encouragement. Deal it to me as you see fit, I think I can take it. If you are reading this, then I also thank you for not giving up on my blog!!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

One Busy Day Last Month

As you all know well, I love chronology. But I also drive you crazy with it, because you know that I may post something down there somewhere in the nether regions of the blog in an attempt to stay chronological. Worse yet, you never see what I've painstakingly put up. So for today at least, in a concession to this issue, I am putting up some pictures from last month, with a note to myself and all of you that these things actually happened on July 11th.

Koji turned our slide upside down and both kids climbed up and had as much fun as they would have with it right side up.

Megan and Joshua (and a day or so later, Jim) came to visit. It was great to have them back here after more than a year since they moved to Charlottesville.

Audrey came by with Shanel, and one main source of entertainment was a session of bed-jumping with Koji and Izumi. Come again, Audrey!

This may be one of my best ever photos of smiling Izumi? A gratifying point for me is that she's wearing a little shirt that I made for her...

That evening, Will was in town and invited us out for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe downtown. It was fun to be out as a family and to see Will again so soon after just being with him last month. Thanks for dinner, Will!

Giving You Another Chance

The other day when I tried to start a discussion about work-life balance and gender, three out of four commentors refused to stay on topic (thanks for your input, Emily, what you said was very thought-provoking).

My response is to be stubborn--or kind?--and give you another opportunity to respond. There was another article in the NY Times today about this topic, but this time, it's the Japanese version of the problem, which I have to say, make things here in the U.S. look positively progressive (this article is only one page long, not so intimidating as the last).

What do you think?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Recommendations for the Jaded

So summer TV, or lack thereof, is exceedingly boring and I thought I should pick up some new shows (when actually what I should probably do is stop watching TV altogether...I used to hate to watch TV, what has happened to me?). The Tribune TV critic recommended Damages and Saving Grace. I programmed them into my DVR and then waited.

The other night I finally got around to watching "Damages". I assumed I would like it because the Tribune TV critic seems to like some of the same SciFi channel shows that I do. But when it was over, I went back into my DVR and clicked on "cancel series". The high-powered lawyer (played by Glenn Close) was much too manipulative and calculating and willing to spare no expense--including human life--to get the results she was after. Some may argue that's just how one has to be to make it in the world of litigation and more so if you're a woman, blah blah. I disagree, and so I won't be watching "Damages" any more.

"Saving Grace": well, I was feeling a little wary after the experience described above, and more so as I took in the first scene of the pilot which depicted Grace enthusiastically have sex with a married man. The premise seems to be that Grace, who is a flawed woman but better than competent police officer/detective type, will be saved from herself by an old guy who has wings on his back that can only be seen reflected in the windows of any cars he may happen to be standing next to. OK. Well, I'm all for redemption, I am. In fact, maybe I'm the judgmental one because I don't want to like Grace for her cussin', hard-drinkin', sleepin' around ways. In this case, it just feels like too much information. Sure, I want Grace to have a happy ending, but maybe I just don't really need to know how she's going to get there. CANCEL SERIES.

I'm back to re-runs of What Not to Wear, and I think I like it that way.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Note to Self: When Parking Downtown

Dear Self,

You know how you are not very detail-oriented and not so organized, so please stop telling me that you can keep track of little pieces of paper, such as, just for a hypothetical--actually not so--example, let's say, one of those parking ticket card thingys you get when you drive into a parking garage. Self, you cannot do it, and in fact, tonight, you didn't do it and now you are FORTY-SIX DOLLARS poorer. That's right, two times the maximum fee for parking in that Millennium Park parking garage that Mayor Daley is and will be trying to pay for with my money (he's a lot closer as of tonight) for years to come.

So self, please take to heart the advice of the attendant who charged my card and let me out of the garage: leave that stub in the car! Never mind the ubiquitous signs directing you to "Take your ticket so you can pay when you exit". B%^$&#*@!! It's a siren call, they are trying to convince me that I will still have that little scrap of paper when I get back to my car, but as I know now, I actually probably won't, so from now on, hands off the ticket! What does "from now on" really mean though, self, because I'm thinking that the next two and a half trips downtown, kids or no kids, I am not allowed to drive. Only then will I begin to come up sort of even, right?

Love, Me

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Note to Self: When Going to the Beach

Dear Self,

When I go to the beach with small children, which I guess I am likely to be doing for the next several years, I must remember to always gather the things I need to take with me, put them in a pile at home, and then remove half of them. After that culling, I will be free to put the remaining, much lighter load in a backpack, and only a backpack. With any other type of bag, how in the world do I think I can get the goods down to the water from the car if I have to schlep at least one child at the same time, self? Am I cuckoo?!

Furthermore, self, tuck a couple of beach balls and/or other water apropos inflatables into a corner of that backpack, would you?

Finally, please take along an extra pair of shoes, even if they're just some random flip-flops. Because, self, I never know just when I might be walking along in those cutesy plastic Birkenstock sandals and the next step I take, suddenly my foot meets sand because the entire top portion of that trusty foot gear that has served me faithfully for over 10 years has suddenly decided to separate itself from its sole. Take it from me, self, if that should happen and I don't have an extra pair of something for my feet, things could get ugly. Like say, I might even have to go into the restroom barefoot. Nasty!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Family Values: What Do You Think?

Just after I was chatting with a female friend on-line about being "traditionally minded" vs. "career minded," I read this NY Times article. It's on the long side, so you may not have the time or patience to read it all, but whether you read it or not, tell me: what do you think about work/life balance and gender roles in the USA? Is everything fine? What's wrong or right with this part of our system (or lack of system)?

I don't often try to start discussions here, so I don't know if anyone is up for it, but I'm very interested in your opinion, so if you have a minute, please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

In other blog news, I don't know what happened to my picture.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


昨夜シカゴのダウンタウンに行ってきました。夏の間シカゴ文化センターで国際映画があり、毎週の水曜日いろんな国の映画を無料でみれます。昨日の映画は日本のタイヨウのうたという映画でした。仰は出張で一緒に行けなかったので沢山の友達を誘いました。一度見てから誘えたらもっと説得力はあったんだろうけど詳しいことわからなくて「日本の映画一緒に見ないか」としか言えなくて断られてばっかりでした。結局友達と二人で見ることになったけど行かなかった人は失敗したと思います。最高に最高なとっても良い映画でした。 私は一回映画を見てしまえば、もう一回見たがらない人なんだけど、この映画なら是非もう一回、二三回でもまた見たいと思っています。   

Walker with a Side of Rice

There's no easy answer to the question of when Izumi started walking. It could have been yesterday or last week or two weeks ago. All I know is that suddenly--how can something be sudden when it's been happening in front of my eyes for months?--when she falls, she gets back up on her feet and tries to walk again. And I shouldn't call it trying, because her legs-wide-apart-knees-up-high gait gets her places! While she's at it, somehow her stumping makes a sound on the floor that would lead one to think she's heavier than Koji though she actually weighs just half as much. At the rate she's been eating rice lately, maybe she'll catch up soon (or not; I guess she doesn't actually get that much of it in her mouth!).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter has Left the Building

For the last few weeks, I couldn't decide if I should order my copy of Book 7, pictured here, from Amazon for delivery to my home on Saturday, July 21st. Or maybe I should go to one of these book-release parties at midnight? But who would go with me, who would watch my kids, was I really that into it? I didn't know and therefore I just couldn't decide how to put my hands on the book, or even if I really needed to have it right out of the gate at all. (Note for anyone who is familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test: yes, I am a strong "P").

How fortunate and timely that Jenny and I just happened to be at Super WalMart in Galena at 11:10 pm Friday night when someone announced, "Those here for the Harry Potter book, please come and put your name on this list". Well. For the price of a mere 50 minute wait, there was no way I was going home without that book!

So I got the book at midnight (but we didn't get any hard iced tea, as we tried to pay for our purchases at 12:02 am and that was two minutes past the deadline for buying alcohol in Jo Daviess County. huh?) and felt just a little bit cutting-edge. I'm not sure what was so cool about buying the same book that lots of other people around the world were buying at the same moment...

In any case, though I was tempted to immediately crack it open, I actually held off until Sunday morning. Jenny and I had a moment of calm when the kids and dads were at the pool and babies were napping, so I dug in. Good start! Then, Aogu was willing to "chauff" (pronounced "showf") us home from Galena, so I had a three hour window to make progress.

This morning at 1:30 am, I finished. And it was sad, not the book's ending so much as the ending of the book. Are you following? This is the same feeling I have when I finish any book series (and that's been a fair number of times as I'm a sucker for a good series, why would I want one book when I can have three or five or seven even?), like I'm saying good-bye to a pack of great friends.

I can certainly go back and re-visit him at any time, so Harry's not dead, but he's definitely left the building. And as for me, I need a nap.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Improving Sushi

Do you like sushi? I'd like to think that I do but after reading this article from the NY Times, I'm not so sure that I've actually had a chance to experience it properly. Trying what the author suggests sounds like a lot of fun, so if anyone wants to join me, let's go! Give me a week or two of lead time so I can get a babysitter, though...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Groupie AND Mama?

If I thought it were possible to be a groupie and continue to mother my children with any level of competency, I would consider following U2 Zoo around. Of course, the actual U2 would be better, but I don't have the time or money to jet around the world (for that matter, I don't have the patience to wait for them to get out on tour!) after them. Meanwhile, U2 Zoo is "the Midwest experience," and I ought to know because I saw them live at the Brookfield Zoo Tunes series today.

You may scoff, "a tribute band? That's dumb!" but I tell you, they were really good! The lead singer not only resembled Bono in looks but in vocals, too. I felt like I was at a U2 concert for free, and not only that, I got to hear a lot of songs from The Joshua Tree instead of all that new stuff (you know, whatever new stuff they would be trying to promote, that is, if they were on tour. Which they're not). Cheryl Lynn was the more ardent-looking fan, so she got a free shirt, but I don't begrudge her. Honest, kelly green isn't my color, or something.

I took pictures, but you know how it takes awhile for those to travel from the camera to the computer to the blog? Yeah. Someday I'm going to do something about that. Meanwhile, I don't know, Milwaukee Irish Fest, anyone?!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My New Favorite Show...

is The Singing Bee. It's 100% corny, but I have to like it because it's karaoke at its finest, where as the host says, "You don't have to sing it well, you only have to sing it right". Should I try out?!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

WILL You LEEve Us Alone?

Just kidding, Will! It was our great privelege and pleasure to see Will for the second time in less than a month. He was in town this week on business, so we met him for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Of course I can't put up the pictures we took there since they're still in the camera, but I can show you the interesting mailbox we spotted on Michigan Ave as we were driving to RFC (picture lifted from Kathleen's blog, and I feel OK about it since we just got to see her and Brad the other weekend...if you want to see a picture, of course you'll have to go to Jenny's blog, July 8th post to be exact).

This post doesn't make much sense, but it's 1 am. Remind me, why did I drink coffee at 9 pm?

Thursday, July 05, 2007


We don't get to see Rich & Jenny every day, but if you check the last few posts on Jenny's blog, you'll know what we've been up to recently and see pictures of us much sooner than if you just wait for me to put it up here (remember that I'm still back on Day 1 of our trip to LA...).

Thanks for doing my work, Jen! I owe you!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

LA LA LA Day 3, 4, 5

On Wednesday we stopped by at Jim & Cindi's new house to say hello and wash our clothes (thanks very much, Cindi, that was a lifesaver). There are many, many wonderful things about their new house, but this may be the one I like the best: it's a tatami room with a built-in kotatsu over a recessed floor. Maybe someday, if we don't ever move to Japan, and we have a lot of money that we don't know what to do with, we can build a room like this too?!

Izumi and I next to the fish tank built into the wall between the living room and Jim's office. It's a very cool tank with interesting, exotic fish in it, but you can't really see it here so you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm mostly inserting this picture so you'll know that I really was on this trip!

After our laundry was done, we went to spend a little time with Alex, Kristen Joy and Olivia. We had some take-out from El Pollo Loco (yum!) at their house, and then went for a walk to a park. Here's Izumi in mid-crawl in the foreground, with the rest of the gang behind.

There was no question "if" the kids would all end up climbing on Alex, it was a matter of "when"...

Next stop, Alex & KJ's favorite frozen yogurt shop; a necessity on a hot summer day!

Next up was dinner with Cat & Darren but they weren't quite ready to meet us so I took the kids on a quick trip to M & L Fabrics in Anaheim. I was transported back to the day Clehrence (Clarice) and I went there and ended up with some green fur that she made into a stunning jacket. On the other hand, I bought some quilted silver fabric and turned it into a hideous jacket; you can't win 'em all. Anyway, it was just as stuffed with fabric as I remembered, though it was a bit limiting to try and navigate the place with two little kids in tow (I say, as if there are many other places that aren't that way). In fact, I didn't even approach the flat fold stacks, which were much taller than me. I was afraid that I would find some fabric to love at knee-level and never get it out, or worse yet, start a fabric avalanche and crush my children. Fortunately, I discovered the bargain basement back room. Watch this space to see what that fabric will become! Getting to the subject of this photo, we met Cat & Darren at Niko Niko Sushi, which certainly wasn't super authentic but did give us an enormous bowl of edamame for three bucks, and had a really delicious carrot-miso dressing for the salad (note to self: try to make that dressing).

Then Cat & Darren took Koji swimming, and even invited Darren's nephew Dyson along for the fun. Izumi and I played poolside; it was a little chilly for her since she had a runny nose.

Here's Koji and Dyson, and the end of Day Three!

Day Four, we met Cat & Darren again; we went to a park in Brea to play with Dyson and then back to their place for lunch but I didn't take any pictures. Cat did, so maybe someday I'll backpost something, maybe. Then they had to get to a beach party, so we went back to Jim & Cindi's for a swim and dinner.

Jim, Cindi and Chibi, our great friends and wonderful hosts, too!

This was Koji's gang while we were at Jim & Cindi's: Jamee, who's five, Koji, who's four, and Joy, who's three. It worked out very nicely.

Day Five, we just couldn't get enough of Jim & Cindi so we went back to their house again! For hours, Koji and his posse, as introduced above, jumped in the pool and then climbed back out to jump in again.

Back in the day when I used to work for Cindi, Ali was still in high school but now she's a tennis coach AND good with babies, too. Thanks for giving me a break, Ali!