Sunday, November 29, 2009

IMAX=Max Fear

We went out with friends to the Navy Pier Imax Theatre. We watched A Christmas Carol, the newest version which is in 3D. You already knew that the moment you saw this picture of us in the glasses.
OK, so the movie was kind of a misery sandwich for me. I was surrounded behind by people who were determined to squelch me with shushing and chastising, and before by a blaring, scaring multi dimensional Jim Carrey-fest.

Details are as follows: So I was excited to be out without kids and maybe I was chatting with my friend animatedly as I have occasionally been known to do. So? This is IMAX, people. The sound of one person chatting to a friend is not going to make you miss the point. Especially when said chatting is going on during the previews...!!

Further into the movie when I was shaking in my boots and therefore extremely curious about the movie's rating, can you blame me for wanting to use my phone to immediately answer the question of PG vs. PG-13? Not unreasonable to me, but the lady behind me who promptly hissed/whined "it's (that phone) so bright, it's shining in my eyes!!" apparently thought that was a bunch of crazyness.

Anyway, I had a really fabulous night, and I mean it, because I thoroughly enjoyed being out with a group of friends, some of whom I haven't spent time with in awhile. My fun didn't have anything to do with the movie incidents described above, this is kind of an "in spite of" situation.

Friday, November 27, 2009

God Answers Prayer

This year for Thanksgiving, we didn't have particular plans, yet I wanted to celebrate it with friends. I had invited my parents to come here, but that didn't work out (which also turned out to be an answer to prayer, they needed to be home to help my sister and her family as my latest nephew, Samuel Hector, was born a week ago. There he is with his big sister Aliyah and big brothers Eli and Oliver).

I decided that it would be great to spend Thanksgiving with Grant and Cheryl Lynn, yet I didn't want to call them and invite myself. So, imagine this, I decided to pray and ask God if He would arrange things for me. Remind me to make my prayers nice and specific like this from now on, because approximately two hours after I prayed this prayer, I got a phone call from Cheryl Lynn. She said, "What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?" and I replied, "Nothing," to which she responded, "Want to come be with us at Tom & Andrea's place?". Whoa. I almost fell over! God cares about my details!

Skipping forward to the day, we had a lovely time with Grant & Cheryl Lynn and company. Thanks to them and Tom and Andrea for including us (and to Tom, for sending me these pictures so promptly), but most of all, thanks to God for answering my prayer!

Andrea not only prepared the quiz I referred to here, she also got these Mentos/Coke rockets for the kids!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Long Lost

We got to see our long lost friends today. Here are the kids, lined up in age order. Keep in mind that Ashleigh, on the left, is six days older than Koji, and Blake, on the right, is one day younger than Misaki.
We could hardly have lined our kids up better if we had been able to plan their birthdays. Thank God for such great friends, though we're a little jealous that Blake is a much more of a "model" baby (as in, when we got the camera out, he started posing!) than Misaki.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Farewell, Karaoke Machine

Dear Karaoke Machine, Thank you for the good times. I confess, they weren't as good as I had hoped they'd be. You see, when I asked Aogu to *pretty please* get you for me several years ago, I envisioned us in a karaoke box in Tokyo. I imagined we could recreate the same sort of atmosphere and experience in our basement. Alas, I didn't understand that CD+G CDs would be more expensive than what I was willing to invest, or that it would be impossible for me to sing Japanese songs. I also didn't--still don't--know why my friends weren't as into you as I was. Since they weren't, my fun was diminished, too. Boo hoo. Karaoke machine, we did make some memories together and I will never forget you. I promise. Even though I sold you to Mr. H today, a random guy that found you on Craig's List. And even though I will likely be making lots of new karaoke memories with utamo, in my heart I know that all home karaoke started with you. Thanks, and I hope Mr. H appreciates you even more than I did. Love and vibrato, Jamie

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Likely I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Koji and I are taking tennis right now (separate classes). He's pictured above, putting his moves in action. Koji's is Sunday afternoons and mine is Monday nights. I am THOROUGHLY enjoying my class, much more than I expected. It's great to get out on a Monday night, take a break from being home, move around a little bit, challenge my brain (the part where the coach tells me what to do and then I try to get my brain to control my body and DO what he says). Tonight we played a tournament with foam balls. Excellent tool for reminding me that the way to be good at tennis (and I suppose this is a life lesson too...)is to be prepared. It would be impressive if I could insert here the exact count of number of times I was reminded to "get your racket back," but the fact is that I lost track.
After the tournament, we all agreed that we might not be particularly good at tennis yet, but we are decent at "foamball".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hiromi's Birthday

Today is my long-distance friend Hiromi's birthday (pictured here on the right, her friend Megumi-san is on the left). I say long-distance friend because, as we reminded one another when we were together for a few hours last month, we've never actually lived in the same city. We became friends more than 10 years ago through Hiromi's husband, then boyfriend Josh, who was a JET when I was. Actually, we weren't just JETs: there are thousands throughout Japan and just being JETs wouldn't have allowed a guy working in Toyama and a girl working in Saitama to meet. We were both part of a JET group originally titled CSG (Christian Support Group). However uninteresting the title of our group may have been, the friendships we formed were anything but. To this day, though none of them live nearby, I remain connected to 10 or more friends that I met through CSG. Hiromi and I may never live near one another in this life (or miracles may happen?) but thankfully, we and the rest of this seemingly random group of friends that met in CSG in 1995~1998 can look forward to being together in Heaven!
Hiromi, otanjobi omedeto!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Family Day

A blog I read recently mentioned a "Family Day" where each member of the family, including the kids, got to say what they wanted to do, and then the whole family did those things together. Great idea! And a perfect way for us to make a plan for our wide open Saturday.

First, we went out and played tennis with our friends Jennifer P. and the Jeff H. family. That's what I wanted to do. Next time I hope my serves go in.

Then, in a act of semi-retroactive planning, we sat down and talked about our family day and each person's desire. Aogu wanted to take a nap, Koji wanted to play Settlers, and Izumi wanted to go to the park.

So that's what we did for the rest of the day, and it was a great day! Have to note here that while we were at the park we played the "challenge" game. Koji and I made it up because just playing at the park can sometimes be too boring. We take turns making up a "challenge" and then race through and try to complete it first. It's things like "run backwards to touch five trees and then come back to this spot" or "run to those bleachers, run to the top and back down, climb up the side of the play structure and slide down" etc.

Went to Target, grabbed a Redbox movie along the way. It was Appaloosa and I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy it much more than than I expected. It's a western and features Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. The dialogue and the plot don't go right along well-worn Western plot lines though, so I recommend it. Yes, there are a few F words, and of course people get shot down, but it's a well-told story. Give it a chance! Apparently it was a book first. Think I'll be off to the library tomorrow because I can't resist vocabulary words in unlikely places (watch the movie and you'll know what I mean).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thought I Was Just Lazy, Turns Out I'm A


I already knew that, but lately I've been really frustrated with myself. Seems like I cannot get my rear end off the couch to save my life...or to clean up the house...or to go to the gym...or to do my Bible get the idea. I was starting to think of myself as doomed to a life of sloth, and then I read this today.

Now I feel a little bit better. This is by no means the "lose 10 pounds by tomorrow morning" quick fix I always want. It's more like a kick in the pants by a large, steel-toed boot, but in a good way. You know?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Welcome to the Family

My sister's fourth baby was born tonight in Portland. Here's a sneak preview: Tell you more about him soon. Welcome to the world, sweet boy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Learning Engrish

I may have said this here before, but if I can't remember, you can't either so I'll tell you again: Izumi is busy learning English. She's three and a half so she's already been talking for quite some time. But a large majority of her talk was in Japanese until right after Misaki was born in April. My parents came to visit, and I'm convinced that threw some kind of switch in her brain. Within the span of a few days, it seemed like she was all English, all the time.

English is a difficult language. If you need confirmation, or just amusement, please look here. I don't need to go further than my living room to be reminded that English is a challenge. For example, just today, I distinctly heard Izumi say to Misaki,

"Misaki, you are a good job, don't you?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Happy Birthday to Sam!!

For most things that go on around here, even when Aogu has to be out of town for a few days, I can hold it together. Or so I like to think. But lately, Aogu's honed his talent for getting the kids to bed. He's really a master. First he lays down with Izumi and Koji and has Izumi sleeping in 10 minutes or less. Next, I hand over (a well-fed) Misaki and he has her in "sawing logs" and in her crib within another 10 minutes or so. It's amazing! Even though I know the process as he does it should be over in 20 minutes or so, I'm much too impatient to pull it off.Exhibit A: Misaki playing on the floor of our bedroom past 9 pm tonight after my numerous and varied attempts to have her go to bed all failed...

Note that I finally got her down past 10 by laying down with her, falling asleep myself and then dragging myself back out to put her in her crib and put this post up for you! See how helpless I am without Aogu around, at least when it comes to getting the little ones to bed!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


To my two readers, who also happen to be in Book Club:

you are right, and I am sorry. Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 1st, and therefore you still have at least two weeks to read The Help, not the eight days I erroneously mentioned the other day. Thank you for tuning in to this blog, though it might occasionally contain mistaken information.

Speaking of books, I'm at a bit of a loss now that I finished the above. So I thought I might try What Should I Read Next? for some suggestions. I put in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and it gave me the following ideas:

The All True Travels And Adventures Of Liddie Newton - Smiley
Twilight Saga Book Set -- Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn - Stephanie Meyer
Technogenesis - Syne Mitchell
Life on the Border - Terri Windling
The Tangled Lands - Will Shetterly
The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survival, and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming - Shreve Stockton
Nora Jane: A Life in Stories - Ellen Gilchrist
Nightwalker - Jocelynn Drake
The Tiny One: A Novel - Eliza Minot
Sword and Sorceress XX - Marion Zimmer Bradley

Hmm. The only books here I've heard of are the Twilight Saga; don't know if that's a good or bad sign. My two readers, or anyone else who might happen to stop by, have you heard of or read any of these books? Any suggestions?

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Warning

Lovers of Settlers of Catan, Beware.

For lo, Koji has learned how to play.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, I went to Barnes & Noble looking for my next book club book.

"Where can I find The Help?" I asked an older lady employee. Her guidance was enthusiastic; she informed me that she personally loved the book, it's a great book club book, etc. All this effusive praise left me a little skeptical.

This post is an apology to that lady. She will probably never see this but I want her to know: I'm sorry I doubted you. "The Help" was a splendid book. I couldn't put it down today. And now I'm really looking forward to Book Club in eight days; with this kind of material, we should be able to have an extra lively discussion!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

All He Wants for Christmas...

...Koji's "two front teeth" aren't gone yet, but there are still 40 days till Christmas. Anything can happen, right?

Friday, November 13, 2009

By Association...

Today is my 12th day in a row of this post to blog every day blitzkreig (just watched Defiance, can you tell?). Big deal, lots of people post every day, all the time, even when it's not MoBloPoCrow Month or whatever this is called. But I haven't been one of them in recent memory so I lack stamina.

Therefore, for today, I would like to use the fact that my sister's water has broken as my reason for not posting something more entertaining/helpful/beautiful/funny/touching. In spite of this failure, please forgive me and give me another chance tomorrow. It's what Jesus wants you to do.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Why yes, I would characterize my third child as flexible, adaptable, good-natured, even-tempered (as in "my mama has smothered me in a random cow print hooded cape and stuffed me into an outside swing without permitting access to my beloved right thumb but I think I'm OK with it"), thank you. Oh, and don't let me forget...cute!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sounds Like Cussing, But It's Not

In an effort to raise the kids to be bilingual, we have a (sometimes theoretical) rule that we speak Japanese at home. This rule was taken for granted by all, and much easier to enforce right up until a few months ago when some kind of switch flipped for Izumi. English started gushing forth from her lips and hasn't really stopped ever since. When we ask her to change over to Japanese, she sometimes looks blank. Or says that she can't--in Japanese.

Another thing that happens is, she'll put out an English sentence but not know all the words she needs. In that case, she'll plug a Japanese word into the appropriate hole. Imagine my surprise when I recently fielded the following request:

"Mama, can you fook the table?"


Ah...there's a Japanese verb "fuku," that means "to wipe": she spilled something. Phew. I know I ever so occasionally fail to restrain my mouth way I should but I don't care to drop F-bombs ever, so I was relieved to find she hadn't brought one home from somewhere else either!

On the subject of the Japanese language, I'm sure at some point our family will be affected for better or worse by the evolutions mentioned in this article. We already have in a way: Aogu's dad wrote this (called "Eden no sono ni ikiru" or "Living in the Garden of Eden") on his cell phone and uploaded it chunk by chunk to a computer; now it's a book for sale on Amazon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween has become a three part event for us. Part One is the costume party at the kids' school, which was on October 28th. Moms have to dress up too. Here is a brief history of my costumes:
Circa 2006-- I'm an American Indian, and bonus, there's Izumi as a pumpkin. I felt great about being an Indian, since I really am one, a little bit, on my mom's side of the family. Wouldn't the story be more convincing if I could remember more details? Anyway...
Circa 2007--I'm a hippie, and I give ALL the credit to my lovely friend Renee who not only gave me the idea, but also gave me her jeans and permission to cut them up and sew in that panel to make them sufficiently bell-bottomed. Not sure the Japanese moms knew what I was; for that matter, I'm not sure that this is a great "hippie" representation, but I was feelin' groovy...
Circa 2008--so here I am, a Japanese "obaachan," which means "grandmother" put nicely but can also venture into "pushy old hag" type territory. Don't know how pushy I actually look, but this was definitely my magnum opus of costumes; I even won first prize in the contest...

Fast forward to this year:
Koji was a Transformer, Bumblebeeto be exact.

Izumi was Snow White, I was too cheap to buy a costume for Misaki so I put her in a traditional Japanese baby kimono thing that Aogu's mom gave us. And as for me, what am I? That's right! I'm a tree! OK, so you probably can't tell. And even if I had taken a full length picture, you still might not be able to tell because I was entirely too lazy to pin leaves to my shirt or otherwise make my intentions clear. However, I was green on top and brown on the bottom. Close enough? Promise I'll try harder next year, but whatever I do will definitely involve false eyelashes because these were SO FUN...thanks Carl & Penny!!

Part Two, Trick or Treating on October 31st:
No surprise, it was stinking cold so the kids wore the "winter" version of their costumes. They probably should have just worn their coats, but I was too stubborn and determined to get my $12.99 worth out of their costumes, so I just tried to have them wear layers and run between the houses.

By the way, it was much too breezy for Misaki's previous "traditional Japanese baby" look, so I pulled out her snowsuit and decided that she was a "skier". Convinced?

I think this was our third year of going trick or treating with Matt and Nadia, and I guess we'll go with them next year too, if I can forgive of the first houses we went to had a dog, so of course, Izumi was petrified and wouldn't let go of Aogu's neck for the duration. I felt like I had to trick or treat for her after that, so I was a prime target for Matt's mocking: "Sure, Jamie, that candy is for Izumi, uh huh, I saw you take the one that YOU like...". If I have a whole year and receive a lot of prayer between now and then, I can probably forgive him. ;-)

Our neighbor Tom has a reputation for handing out "full size" candy, but this year he went above and beyond and came out dressed as a vampire!

Since Halloween fell on Saturday this year, we cut our trick or treating a little short so we could go to Part Three: the church Halloween carnival.
Misaki the skier...
Personality difference illustration: at the carnival, Koji raced from game to game and burned right through our tickets. On the other hand, Izumi spent much of her time hunkering over this fishing game.

Overall, Halloween 2009 was a great success. I can safely say so, now that I've eaten all of the chocolate the kids got and I'm in position to turn over a new leaf on not eating sweets. Starting tomorrow....

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Little Boy Hormones

Do you think it might be possible that little boys have hormones raging through their systems? It would be nice to have some biophysical explanation for the craziness that can sometimes be Koji. For the most part, he is really more charming than he is crazy.

But sometimes he can get on a roll, and today was one of those days. The thing that pushes me to The Highest Level of Near Head Explosion is when he completely overreacts to something I didn't say.

Example: we went to the market tonight. He was trying to set an appointment for playing with a new toy I picked up at a garage sale. Have I lost you already? That's right, this boy wants to know exactly when we are going to do just about everything. Which is the stuff of nightmares for me because I can't keep those promises.

So he says, "Mama, when am I going to play with that toy?"
Me: "Tomorrow?"
K: "But when tomorrow?"
Me: (trying not to lose it) "Please don't pressure me to plan an exact time, let's not talk about that right now."
Me: ......(bewildered silence)....

If anyone is reading this and has words of comfort/advice/sympathy/correction, please lay them on! Thank you!

Saturday, November 07, 2009


If you're philosophically or otherwise opposed to personality profiling, read no further. What I want to report won't surprise those familiar with this system, but apparently I'm a "sanguine". This description made sense to me: "likes spontaneous activities" balanced with "hates to be alone". But you probably know what I mean, so I'll stop here lest I start to "exaggerate and elaborate".

Friday, November 06, 2009

Seven Months Old Already

Misaki Anaiah is seven months old today. She smiles wide when she sees us, especially Aogu when he gets home from work. She sucks her right thumb. She says "LA LA LA" in a loud, but sweet, voice when the mood strikes her. As of two or three days ago, she's good at sitting up unsupported. She also gets up on all fours and rocks back and forth, but her best progress in any direction for now is all to the back. Yes, we frequently find her under the couch, under the coffee table, under the bed...She laughs belly laughs when her brother or sister dance in front of her. She eats rice cereal, oatmeal, butternut squash, green beans, peas, applesauce, rice and bananas, in addition to her old staple, breast milk. She likes the latter quite a bit though she's getting faster and faster at taking it in (five minutes?!). Her crib is in the room with Koji and Izumi. Maybe someday they will be able to sleep all together in there all night, but for now, the older kids go to bed first while Aogu rocks her to sleep in the other room (has to be Aogu, I'm too impatient). Once the older two are asleep, he puts her in her bed. She wakes up at least twice a night and sometimes more frequently, which is maddening. However, we all love her dearly and can't imagine our family without her. Thank you, God!

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Day Four of Daylight Savings Time, but the fact that it is pitch black at a bit past five feels like some kind of loss.

When you go somewhere and you're not adjusted to local time, that's "jet lag".

When you can't keep up with the pace of your own life, what kind of "lag" is that?

A friend of mine wanted me to ask.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Last night was the first night of my beginner tennis class. It was GREAT. There are six other ladies (I would have said moms but I don't want to offend Jennifer, and there's one other woman whose mom-status is unknown) and we all seem at mostly the same level. Close to clueless. Our coach had us practice "volleying" and one of the ladies whispered to me "what is a volley?" and I was like "um, you know, when you have to hit it back from really close to the net, you know?". If you have to say "you know" that often means you don't....

So it was a pleasant surprise when we found ourselves actually hitting the ball back and forth several times in a row (is that called a rally? better work on my tennis terminology...). Chances aren't good that we'll have any weather that will tempt me to try and play outside for some between class practice. Nevertheless, I can't help hoping for that; the only access I'll have to any indoor courts will be Monday nights when I'm actually in class. Or who am I kidding?! Practice?!! Anyway, I'm glad I signed up!

Izumi doesn't go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have a Bible study with some Japanese ladies every other Tuesday and CBS on Thursdays. Needless to say, hitting a rhythm on Tuesdays has been difficult. In fact, today Bible study was ON but I decided to keep us here at home. Misaki wasn't terribly cooperative last night and I was feeling like a sore throat could be coming on. So in the spirit of germ paranoia that is so pervasive right now...I didn't know how being here without any kind of plan would go, but the girls must have needed the time. Misaki took two naps in her crib, and Izumi played with her Dora playdough set for more than an hour. I actually sat and worked on my CBS lesson with both girls quietly playing in the room.

It was kind of a miracle and such a pleasant moment that I hated ruining it, getting all stressed trying to get us out of the house so we could pick Koji up at 1:45. Ridiculously immature of me, but since I think that's much too early to be picking up a six and a half year old boy, I often sabotage my own efforts to get there on time. The trouble with that is, his teachers have started a new system: moms have to go to the classroom and sign the kids out before they can be excused. Now that being late means I incur the wrath of Koji, including shouted accusations like "You're making me lose time for playing!" (note: I am responsible for causing him to "lose time" for things he wants to do pretty much every day. now Izumi's started copying him and saying it too. it's really awesome.) I actually feel motivated to try to be on time. Yeah.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Wanna Be

This past weekend Aogu discovered that there is now a Settlers of Catan app for iPhone. He ponied up $4.99 and had us playing a rousing game with Candamir and Mary Ann in no time. Big deal for us; that's about four bucks more than we've ever invested in any iPhone app!

So yesterday he taught Koji how to play and told him that the iPhone game was a real game (sad but true, Koji didn't know it was a real game as he hasn't seen us playing in forever). Naturally, Koji immediately wanted to try the "real" game.

And that is why/how I found myself being woken this morning to the tune of "Mama! Can I play that new iPhone but not on iPhone, the one with the real cards? Right now!" Of course when I said not now, Koji, you need to get ready for school, then it was "When?! when?!!". Needless to say, I hesitate to commit. Settlers can be so fun played with friends, and so tedious when played with those who aren't as familiar (not saying I'll never do that, just that things don't move along so speedily). This is a to be continued story...

Today I went to Lifetime Fitness for the first time in about a month. I wasn't feeling particularly motivated, so I walked/ran on a treadmill and did some situps and stretches.

Don't want to give up on trying to get back in shape or running though; especially because I've already run two 5K races this fall. Ha! "Run" is used loosely in both cases...I did finish both, though, and I did run much more than I walked. This is the only evidence I have that I ran the 5K at the Chicago Half Marathon in the middle of September. I was meant to run with a friend, but when I got to the area of the race, my phone wouldn't work at all. AT&T overloaded much?!

Not sure this post makes sense at all but I am deliriously tired. So GN!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Try to Pronounce This

If you know how to pronounce NaBloPoMo, please call and give me tutelage. Though I don't know how it's said, I do know that it means "National Blog Posting Month".

It hardly matters how it's said or even what it means as long as it turns out to just maybe perhaps possibly be the kick in the pants I need to break out of my longer-than-a-year-without-blogging-consistently funk. I hope. Thanks to Jen H. for the heads up!

So, because meta blogging is really boring, I better talk about something else. And rather than knock myself out by trying to recap the entire year plus that I've missed, how about if I just pick up with today? If I really am able to post every day this month, there will be plenty of time for hashing over what's gone before.

Today being Sunday, we went to church. Koji has been in the first grade "KIDS Church" class for about two months, and thank God, he is still loving it. Honestly, the main thing he seems to love is "Vineyard Bucks," but that's fine with me; week after week, he is excited about going to church. Until this September, that was not the case. PHEW~

We returned Revolutionary Road (which I really liked and Aogu thought was just OK) to Redbox, which is my new favorite way to rent a DVD. I then realized I had forgotten my bag at church, so went back to get it. Next I realized (lots of revelatory moments in the mid day today) that we didn't have time for lunch, so I grabbed some bagels. If you need a church home, I recommend ours! Not only is it a great community and powerful place to encounter God, on Sunday mornings, bagels and cream cheese are free!

Our next stop was Koji's first tennis class. He'll be taking the class at the local high school for the next several weeks on Sundays at noon. I'm excited for him to learn to play tennis! Aogu has tried to teach him a bit; this way, he can learn from his teacher so he and Aogu can have fun when they play together.

Misaki was SO wiggly today. She can't officially crawl yet, but she can scoot/roll and get around quite a bit. She also does a funny thing where she rolls onto her side and strikes a pose. I have to take a picture, the other two didn't do that.

OK, here's hoping that I can put up a more interesting post tomorrow. Obviously, I am very out of practice~! If there is anyone at all who is still reading this, please don't give up on me now!

PS. Izumi calls her pajamas "chajammies".