Friday, August 15, 2008

Guess How Old I Am?

Happy birthday to me! It's a bit silly to ask you to guess how old I am when you can see the candles Koji is holding on top of my pancake...

Many thanks to my mom, who sent a very nice birthday package that included this fancy apron custom-made by my sister!

First order of the day, after birthday breakfast, was peach picking at the usual place.

Here's Koji and Izumi in the front with Miwa, her daughters Kona and Utane, and our other friend Miwa, her son Rin and daughter Myu. We all agreed--at least, the two Miwas and I--that the white peaches were the best!

Next stop was a visit to the home of a friend who lives near the u-pick orchard. She was gracious enough to let me have the kids decorate their own cupcakes, in honor of my birthday.

I might be 36, but I'm still a bit of a baby about my birthday. I really like to celebrate on THE DAY and with some kind of party and cakes (though I've reluctantly had to give up on getting lots of presents!). Here's the "team" of friends that were with me for 18 holes of mini golf.

These are all the friends that gathered to golf with us. Thanks for coming out, everyone, I had a great time!

Last but not least, it was back to our place for the "official" cake of the day, which I made for myself. Another thing I'm fussy about: I want to have a home made cake, and since Aogu's not quite up to that challenge, I have to accomodate myself. It was delicious if I do say so! Remembering all the fun I had turning 36 makes me think that maybe turning 37 won't be so bad...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


With some friends from Koji's school, we went to Kiddieland The only bummer thing about it was, the coupons we were excited to use had expired. Otherwise, it was a great day!

First stop, merry go round.

A large section of the place was devoted to rides for tiny kids; even Izumi, at just over two, could ride alone, which was exciting for me.

I wish I had taken a picture of this whole Ferris wheel, but even if I had, I guess it would be difficult to appreciate how small and cute it was. Again, the kids loved it. The other moms and I just stood watching and cracking up because the guy running the ride seemed to have no rhyme or reason to the way he let the kids on and off the ride. Koji and Izumi got quite an extended ride, while other kids went for a couple of revolutions and were ejected. I'm still laughing thinking about it now.

All of the tiny kid rides I mentioned seemed to be some sort of mini transport that kids could sit in while said vehicle spun around a central hub. Plane, train, name it and the kids got to "drive" in a circle on it!

After lunch, which consisted of food that we had to buy from Kiddieland concessions (note to self, next time get your hand stamped and go eat lunch in the car or even at Denny's across the street...their food is NOT good...), we moved to another section of the park which consisted of a giant play structure and a couple of self propelled rides. This was one; Koji and Izumi sat on the raft and Koji pulled them back and forth across the "pond" with the rope.

After a water ride and a sit on a "proper" Ferris wheel, I was done, so I projected that the kids were too and we called it a day. I'm glad we went and I would like to go again next summer!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

August Weddings

It feels like forever since we've been to a wedding, but suddenly, in the space of nine days, we went to two. They were both really fun--but it would have been hard for me not to think so, as we were out sans kids, which goes a long way in making any outing untouchable.
Dawn and Marcelo got married on August 2nd.

See how much fun we're having?!

Sitting with friends we haven't spent time with lately like Jen & Julie was great.

And we were thankful for one last moment with Ian & Ashley before they took off for Germany.

Vince & Kezi got married on August 11th.

We didn't know at the time that this was one of our last outings with Rich & Jen.

Now we're extra glad that Vince & Kezi gave us one more chance to make a memory with them; then again, anytime I get on a dance floor, it's memorable for its forgetableness.

Here we are with the happy couple. Blessings on all of our newly married friends!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Last Day of Summer School

Koji in his classroom on his last day of summer school, with Izumi as his special guest.

For lunch that day, parents were invited to barbeque and picnic with the kids (the kids only did the latter). Izumi-san, Shiho-san and Miwa-san made some great grilled onigiri.

Izumi made herself right at home in the shade for the picnic, sprawling out in the shade. This is the one and only dress I've made her so I must shamelessly solicit your admiration, if "you" are in fact still out there. I feel relatively sure that after these months of silence here, there's no one left to read what I'm writing. It's my own fault but I still feel a bit sad. Maybe I can catch up now. Maybe.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another Day at the Beach

This time we were at the beach in Evanston (guess I didn't say that the previous post was about the beach in Wilmette, better say that or I definitely won't remember later) with our great friends, Jenny, Calli and Mari. This summer I ended up feeling like our beach token investment was well worth it. Please don't ask how I feel about our pool passes though.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Rest of July

This is what happens when I wait for three months to try and post on what we did: I can't remember much at all. I think we actually had lots of fun in July after Fumi left--though we missed her. But apparently I didn't take pictures of it, which means that I don't have any recollection of what occurred. I don't know why I can only remember some things, like random phone numbers and birthdays. Not helpful in this situation.

I can tell you for sure that we got some sushi to wrap up summer housegroup meetings.

Poor Koji was sent off to bed before we dished up the sushi. I won't do that next time! Many people didn't show up that night, so it would have been better if he had been awake to help us eat it all.

Rich, Jeff and Aogu did their best though. Jeff's efforts were particularly admirable, since I'm thinking this was one of his first exposures to sushi. Be assured he wasn't as stupified by the experience as he may appear here...

We went to the beach with Koji's school friend Myu and her family. Myu's dad helped the kids dig out some elaborate tunnels; all the kids but Izumi, that is. She literally sat right where you see her pictured and dug in the sand and water in front of her the entire time we were there. I'm not complaining about this! I have plenty of friends who had to chase their little ones around the beach all summer and didn't find the experience restful. So if she wants to dig, that's just fine with me!

Koji at this point in the summer had been in swimming lessons for about six weeks and was feeling much more confident in the water, especially with his life jacket on. He had a great time paddling around the lake.

Last but not least, my pictorial records tell me that a little later in July, I decided (or was asked, can't even remember that!) to take some pictures of Izumi so she could possibly model this outfit as for sale on Aliyah's Hope Chest. She was suprisingly cooperative, though whether the photos resulted in more sales for my sister is a different question.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fumi was here!

Fumi got here just in time! July Fourth had gone by, and summer was feeling half over, yet like we hadn't begun to take advantage of it. So it was supreme to have her here; just the catalyst we needed to do some of the things we couldn't be bothered to get to with just us.

By the way, if you don't know Fumi, she was my roommate in Tokorozawa, near Kotesashi station if you want to be specific, for the last year and a half of my single life. Ah, those were the days! The point here though is, now that she lives in Omiya and we're here, we don't have nearly the time with her that we'd like. So finally having the opportunity to show her our "American life" was exciting. Here are some of the things we did together during the five days she was here.
Fumi used to love coffee and even dream of opening her own cafe but lately she's become more devoted to tea. So we went to Argo Tea for lunch and a fancy tea drink. Mine was a little too fancy and it didn't taste much like tea.
After Koji finished summer school for the day, the weather looked ominous so we decided to take in Kung Fu Panda. Do I need to tell you that Koji loved it?
We were suprised to emerge from the movie theatre into a fine summer afternoon. So we tried to make up for the time we'd "wasted" inside by playing at a nearby park for a while.
Koji didn't have school the next day, so we embarked on a downtown Chicago outing via the Metra.
First stop, Sears Tower. Good news, it was a clear day. Good news, we actually happened to walk in just as the movie was starting! Not waiting in that lobby for 20 minutes to watch the movie and then get on the elevator was a great boon. But bad news, lots of people were out that day, so it wasn't easy to study the views at will. And final blow, the kids weren't very into it. I spent most of the time chasing them down and threatening them in an attempt to buy Fumi and myself more time to take in the view. Oh well. We did get this photo.
We walked over to Millennium Park and enjoyed a picnic lunch inside the kids tent, where Koji also made the hat you see pictured here. It later functioned as a fine garbage receptacle inside our van, but please don't tell him.
No need to tell you that this is the Bean.
If you look closely, you should see Koji; he's in an orange shirt and swim shorts, getting ready to plunge into the spittle, I mean, fountain.
While Koji was at school the next day, we made a run to Trader Joe's so Fumi could stock up on unique souvenirs. Our best purchase, in my opinion, was the chocolate covered edamame. Try it if you have a chance!
On Fumi's last night with us, Aogu took charge of the home front and Fumi and I took off on another train ride in the opposite direction, to land at Ravinia. In retrospect--yes, I'm writing this two months later and flagrantly back dating--I'm so glad we went, because that ended up being my only trip to Ravinia all summer. It was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's opening night, and we quite enjoyed it, but not as much as the woman on the next blanket over who shushed us...
Thanks for coming to visit, Fumi! It was a highlight of our summer to have you here, and I loved catching up with you in person. The kids and I both missed you a lot after you left, and we can't wait to see you again!