Sunday, April 22, 2007

Second Celebration

Koji's second birthday party was also a joint celebration, this time with Ashleigh (Real Birthday: April 14th) and Calli (RBday: April 20th, same as Koji but a year later). Our location was Lovelace Park in Evanston. You'll see below that we had some footraces in honor of Koji, a pin-the-accesory-on-Ariel game for Ashleigh, and some dance lessons to show Calli's grooviness, followed by some serious pinatas and cake galore (for pictures of Kristen's cake and Jenny's cupcakes, please click here and scroll down to May 10th. Though it felt a little overwhelming in the planning stage, the actual party was lots of fun and a great success. Thanks to those who came and celebrated with us!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Koji is FOUR

A very happy day to our birthday boy, Koji! Our first celebration was a joint cozmic bowling party with Takeru and Naoki, two friends from school. Bumpers were in place, so things went pretty well. Come to think of it, we never had to call a bowling boy to rescue a stopped ball from mid-lane so Koji must be bigger and stronger than the last time we went bowling.

A couple of incidents from the party: sadly, one little friend fell and cut his chin open on the hole of his bowling ball. He was bleeding pretty profusely. Thankfully, Aogu was there with us and able to go off to the hospital to facilitate communication between his mom and the hospital staff. Maybe we should start praying now for no bleeding at next year's party so Aogu can stick around!

Also, I've been trying to teach Koji to do his own wiping up when he finishes with a poo session. Not wanting to deal with the aftermath lest he does a poor job, I've also instituted "checks," where he shows me his handiwork and I declare it good or not so. Alas, I've apparently failed to explain that "checks" should only be performed at home...while at the bowling alley, he decided he had to go. The men's room was right there and the ladies' was far away, plus, his slightly older friend had to go too. So I sent him into the restroom with his friend and then stood next to the door, feeling a bit of pride for my little son, so grown up that he can go and poo without my help.

My special moment was thoroughly quashed when he came waddling out of the restroom with his pants + underwear around his ankles shouting, "Mama! Check me! Check!"

Happy Birthday, dear son.

Friday, April 20, 2007

California Adventures

An Open Letter of Apology to Friends Who Live in the Los Angeles Area and are Not Pictured Below:

I'm very sorry that we weren't able to see you when we were recently in LA. Worse yet, you didn't even know we were there. We had no malicious intent; rather, we had very little time and two small children to work with. So we did our best, and we are still regretful that we were not able to see you. We hope you will forgive us, and even think fondly of us and give us another chance if we tell you that we will be back soon, at which time we certainly hope to make up for lost time. Thank you.

Without further ado, here's a pictorial synopsis of the rest of our visit to Southern California:

On Sunday the 15th (a VERY belated but HAPPY 10th anniversary to Laurie and John!), we drove up just north of Ventura to visit Uncle Ken (mom's younger brother) and Aunt Cher. What great hosts! What a wonderful day! Cher, you were so thoughtful to borrow and prepare toys for the kids to play with, and Ken, Koji is still asking to go back to your house to play with you. Being with you at your house was so restful and lovely, and I loved catching up with you after not seeing you for so long. Your copies of this and some other pictures we took that day will be in the mail to you.

Monday the 16th: Koji and Mikayla got along pretty well, maybe even a little better than I thought they would. I was a little embarrassed that Koji couldn't finish having a picnic with Mikayla in the backyard for fear of the gnat that landed on his knee. And I also felt bad to discover that the fever he started at Disneyland had returned... in spite of these little glitches, we had a great day and hope to spend time with you all again soon!

Here's Will with Riva and Tyler: he came home from work early to visit with us, which made our already fun day with the Lees complete. If you check Riva's blog, you'll see that she was prompt to post a picture of our visit weeks, I'm not beating myself up about not being caught up on my blog, no way...

Koji and Izumi with Maryn, Kirra, Anna and Maya...yes, I know this isn't the best picture of my children, but it might be one of the funniest! I'm so glad that Kara and Mark were able to squeeze us in, it was great to spend a couple of hours with them and meet Kirra for the first time. She was SO smiley and sweet, I hope to see her again soon so I can sqeeze her!

Tuesday the 17th: I have two motives for putting this photo up: one, I want you all to know what a FABULOUS day we had visiting with Grandma (my mom's mom, aka "GG" = Great Grandma). Two, I want Grant to know that Izumi does still do "the eyes" once in awhile. Back to GG: thanks for having us. Our day went by much too quickly. One of the highlights was definitely watching you play hide and go seek with Koji. And I think we should make cookies again; those oatmeal raisin weren't bad for your first attempt in 20(?) years, but I bet we could do better. Also, next time I'm going to take my double stroller so that you and I can walk as long we want without having to cater to Koji! I love you!

Wednesday the 18th: It's been three years since we last saw Alex and KJ, and in that time, God has added Olivia to their family. She's eight months old now, and very cute. Cat thinks so too!

These little chocolates, which we used to hold some 'two days before your birthday' candles for Koji, are the only evidence I have that I actually spent most of the day with Cindi. Seriously, I had such a good time getting caught up that I didn't even think to take a single picture! Let's make up for that next time. Anyway, as I was leaving Cindi's house I realized that I had failed to prepare a cake, so she grabbed these chocolates and candles and set me all up. Phew! Cindi, not only are you fun to hang out with, you're a lifesaver too.

You can tell Aunt Cat has learned well at the "School of Dyson (nephew)". These presents are a hit. In fact, we've been carrying this plane around with us for several days now!

Though I'm posting this chronologically, I guess my comments don't have to be; I now know that Koji loves this game, and well he should. Thanks, Alex & KJ!

Look closely and you'll see that Izumi is modeling a barrette that KJ hand made for her. KJ, you should sell those on Etsy.

Thursday the 18th, er, "today": Flying home, Izumi was tired enough to take a little snooze on Aogu's lap, which is saying something. Oh yes, that is Aogu behind the mask. He's so hygenic.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Murphy Went to Disneyland With Us

It's been two years and nine months since Cat and Darren got married, which means it's been that long since we were last in LA. Now that Aogu has a client out there, I decided to invite the rest of the family along for his current trip. And I thought that since Koji is not yet four, we would take this last chance to get him into Disneyland for free. You idiot, you're saying, Disneyland is not free once you're THREE, not four. Well, I know that now, but by the time I figured it out I had convinced myself that we HAD to go anyway.

Keep in mind that we had arrived in LA late on the previous afternoon, checked into our hotel and then heard that we wouldn't be able to meet the friend we had planned to see. To compensate, I took the kids out and stayed that way for a little too long. Finally, I got them back to our room and in bed and asleep, which was a miracle since we were all in the same room. Then I couldn't sleep because it was still not late by Chicago standards. At last, we all were asleep and then the fire alarm went off! No joke!!

When we heard it and noted that it was 2 a.m., we were so dazed that we thought the goofy kids who were in town for the tennis tournament were playing joke with their alarm clocks or something. Aogu eventually figured out that it was for real, so we woke the kids up and carried them down five flights of stairs to stand around in the parking lot in our pajamas. Thankfully we had the key to our rental car, so I got in with the kids and blasted some heat.

As for the fire, it wasn't that at all. Rather, a sprinkler had gone haywire in the fitness room and flooded it, which somehow set off a fire alarm. Water was dripping heavily from the ceiling of the lobby, and some of the tiles were even falling out. At long last, we were allowed to go back to our room and back to bed, but we did not get much sleep!

Nevertheless, we trooped off to Dland, arriving at a little past 10. We had a Mickey cookie--pictured above--for a mid-morning snack, then we walked through the castle and rode the carousel. Next up was the Dumbo ride, which Aogu and Koji waited for at least an hour to get on.

Next on the agenda was cotton candy, note that all so-called dietary caution was thrown to the wind for the sake of a fun day at Disney! Koji was acting pretty sluggish and I thought it was weird, but I chalked it up to the sleep deprivation of the night before.
So we motored off to Toontown, where Koji experienced his first roller coaster. It was while the two of us were waiting in line next a giant comb that he said it. "Mama? I want to go home." EXCUSE ME?! This is the same child that never ever wants to go home from anywhere and lets me know it loudly and clearly when I say that we are leaving (exception: food markets).

This declaration was so out of character for him that I knew there was something seriously wrong, so I started poking around at him and sure enough! He had a fever!

Can you stand the irony of it? Of course, though I wanted to just have him take a nap in the stroller and then press on, Aogu (wisely) insisted that we should leave. So we did, five hours after we arrived. Try to resist calculating our per-hour rate for all that fun...

Thankfully, two good things came out of this craziness: first, though I was sure the whole thing was a fiasco, Koji later declared that we had a lot of fun at Disneyland and that he wants to go there again. Phew. I didn't want him to be scarred by the incident; "Disneyland makes me sick" or something of the sort. Second, we were hungry, so we just had to stop at In-N-Out Burger.

Murphy, I don't actually believe in you, but just in case: next time, stay back at the hotel and clean up the fitness room. No Mickey cookies or double-doubles animal-style for you.
P.S. A very happy FOURTH birthday to Ashleigh Michelle!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

"Cultured" Has a New Meaning

A couple months ago, I got my second annual 'we're coming to Chicago!' call from long time and dear uni (that's what Australians call university, "uni," and I think it's a good idea) friend Cat. We made plans to get together and she said that they wanted to see Wicked, as a friend's daughter is one of the stars. I suppose this story would be a tad more interesting if I knew the friend's name or at least which character she plays, but I don't and that's not the point.

The point is, we planned to go today. I left the tickets up to Cat because I haven't exactly been a hugely cultured theatre-goer in the years I've been here (as if I was before...?!). We arranged for a babysitter, which for some reason is a HUGE deal for me. But then last night, Cat calls and says that because her father-in-law nearly died over the weekend, she wasn't able to get the tickets after all.

Whoa! Of course I didn't mind, I mean, it would have been great to go to Wicked but we live here, so theoretically we can go anytime. The thing that's funny is what we did instead; I was darn well going to go out since my babysitter was all arranged. Half of our evening was somewhat refined: we went for dessert at The Stained Glass. Very nice. I've never had dinner there and I'm not such a wine drinker, but their desserts are great. I like to try more than one thing, so if you check out the menu, you'll understand why I was so pleased.

Any bit of "culture" that was with for dessert was lost after that. We went to the movies and watched Blades of Glory.

Let's Memorize!

A little while ago when we were studying Exodus at CBS, someone gave me the following version of the Ten Commandments. It seems a little easier to remember than just memorizing the commandments straight up. I would love to give credit to the writer, but I don't have that information. Here goes:

Above all else love God alone;
Bow down to neither wood nor stone.
God's name refuse to take in vain;
The Sabbath rest with care maintain.
Respect your parents all your days;
Hold sacred human life always.
Be loyal to your chosen mate;
Steal nothing neither small nor great.
Report, with truth, your neighbor's deed;
And rid your mind of selfish greed.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Baby's First Easter

As a reward to myself for NOT buying Izumi a bib that says, "Baby's First Easter," I'm allowing that to be the title of this post. It was, after all. Accordingly, a couple days before, I went to the Burlington Coat Factory to get the kids some Easter outfits. The fact that I accidentally bought a spring coat for myself is not the point. The point is, the little Easter dresses were so cute, it took way too long to choose one. I probably could have chosen more easily if I wouldn't have had a bridesmaid dress philosophy about it. You know, "she has to be able to wear it again". Let me stop yakking and get to the photos.

After all the deliberating, I finally went with purple and polka dots, two of my favorite things (Izumi as a favorite thing being in a separate, higher category and a foregone conclusion). Ultimately, I was almost more enamored with Koji's tie. You'll never get what I mean, but it's a zip tie! The knot is pre-formed and adjustable with a zipper. I could go on but what I'm saying won't be any clearer. It was convenient and clever.

We were blessed to be invited to spend Easter afternoon with Grant and Cheryl Lynn and fam at Grant's parents house. Thanks, Tom and Andrea! It would have been fun just to be at their house, but Andrea was above and beyond. She planned fun games.

And the fanciest, most poetic, most rewarding Easter egg hunt I've ever witnessed. Izumi even got some new toys though she didn't find any eggs (she may have if only three boys weren't desperately racing for them; she's spunky but in this case she didn't have a chance)!

Dinner was delicious!

As were Cheryl Lynn's egg cakes.

My carrot cake was another story, which I should probably be telling on my long neglected so-called food blog. I'm almost embarrassed to post there because I've left it untouched for so long. Anyway, I was all excited that I ordered some vanilla beans online for the frosting. But then, in a moment of reckless foolishness, I went too far with my recent flaxseed meal obsession and I threw some into the cake. Fool, I repeat. Maybe it's just as well that it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. The next day when I had half of it sitting around the kitchen, I normally would have been tempted, but in this case it was a cinch for me to toss the whole thing into the rubbish bin!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

First Hair Clip

That was weird, somewhere between Aogu being gone, then coming back from Tokyo with a horrific cold, then us sort of catching that cold but not wanting to admit it, and Koji having spring break and me frantic about how to keep him busy and wear him out enough to go to bed at the proper time, somewhere in there I totally dropped the ball on posting here for the last three weeks or so! Yikes!

But I did learn that swimming is the way to go as far as wearing the kids out.

And I also had time to observe and envy my fashionable friend's three-month-old Lily with a little clip in her hair (it's proper to give the fashion credit to my friend and not to Lily, right? it's not like she's dressing herself just yet). This was such an impactful sight, Aogu even noticed and requested that Izumi have a similar hairdo. Believe me, this makes it a huge deal! This is the guy who seemingly never notices appearances, good or bad. I mean, I guess he notices sometimes, but he rarely has an opinion that he feels like sharing.

Which is super long-winded intro to the picture above: 10 months and 20ish days old Izumi with her first hair clip!