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!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Second of Two Parades

After a ridiculously short "rest" period at home (which would have been a bit longer if I had remembered the parade start time correctly), we were off to see the Evanston parade (come to find out Evanston's parade is so big time, it has a whole association behind it?!), but most particularly, this float, which was made by our church. If we were more dedicated members, we would have/could have marched along in the parade behind the float, but as you recall, we already did that once today, and once was enough!

The parade was OK, but I have to confess that the fancy ride, aka "pedicab" you see here was probably more of a highlight for the kids, and certainly the reason we were able to sit placidly in one location for as long as we did. Many thanks to Jan, and if you want to buy one, then please leave me a comment and I will connect you with her!

After the parade, we headed home to host a barbeque for housegroup people. It was SUPER fun to be together in our backyard. We played croquet (Becca's mom is a champ!), bocce, basketball, trampoline jumping and another game with three balls and three people that only Ian, Ashley and Ross know how to play. I'm actually extremely disappointed that I don't have a single photograph of the afternoon because just talking about it doesn't do it justice (Ashley, do you have any of the pictures you took with your new camera?).

Hope your Fourth was as free as ours!

First of Two Parades

Koji's school, St. Matthew's Lutheran Preschool, has been a great blessing to us, so this year we decided to "pay them back" by marching with his teachers and some of the church members with their float in the Niles Fourth of July parade.
The theme this year was "pirates," but maybe I didn't need to tell you's Koji with Pastor Cordes.
The parade route was pretty long, probably a couple of miles but Koji actually walked most of the way. I was impressed with him at first. Then I realized that a few of the floats in front of us were throwing candy out to spectators and some of the candy was lying on the sides of the street. Koji kept walking because he kept finding more and more candy to stuff in his pockets. Now I know what I have to do if I want him to keep walking when we visit Tokyo in October...
Finally, even the candy lost its allure and he sat down in the truck. He was a trooper though! I'm interested to see if any new students will come to his school in the fall by way of the flyers, T-shirts and other information we handed out?

Friday, July 04, 2008


If it weren't for Jason, who so kindly took Koji and Izumi in for a couple of hours, though it was his day off!, I wouldn't have been able to meet Sophia Esther Cain today. Thank you very much, Jason! I am grateful I was able to meet her, and see for myself that though her delivery didn't go at all as Cheryl Lynn had planned, God protected them and they are fine (or will be with some rest!).
Here's Sophia with her brothers and dad. I know she'll like them better when she gets to know them!

Welcome to the world, little girl!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Another Crop

We went to the Garden Patch Orchard again today. This time I wasn't such a good driver and Izumi fell out of the wagon twice. Oops!
My new friend S and her daughters O and K had another friend, also "S", visiting from Tokyo with her son K. It was fun to introduce them to the farm.
The strawberries were mostly gone, and the other major crops weren't quite out yet but we did get a lot of rhubarb and also a few blackcurrants. When I got home, I realized I should have picked a lot more rhubarb; $1.99/pound is a good deal!

After we left the farm, we went for an extremely late lunch at
Potbelly's. Don't know if it's every store or just that one, but they had a nice shelf of books that kept the kids busy. I was grateful. Thanks to S and S and their kids for spending a lovely day with us!