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...