Thursday, December 29, 2011

Heat Tech + Favorite Hat

WIWW 12.28.2011 The main event for today was a WHOLE BUNCH of frantic cleaning and organizing, because we had a showing (our house is up for sale, I'm going to post about it soon). Just yesterday I confidently told a friend, "there's no activity in the housing market till the Super Bowl anyway, so I've kind of let the house go for now". Famous last words! With all that running through the house--I mean it, when I am straightening and cleaning for a showing, I literally sprint around, guess that's how much I don't enjoy the process?--I actually didn't need the Uniqlo heat tech shirt you can barely see layered under that hot pink whatchamacallit hoody thing. (Apparently Uniqlo is coming to Chicago...sometime.  I hope it's soon!  As much as I loved my trip to NYC in October, I can't afford to do that every time I need heat tech goods.)    

Also, please say hello to my favorite hat. Years and years ago, when I was single English teacher in Japan with nothing better to do on weekends but go snowboarding, I picked this hat up and it has been my faithful winter companion since. Here in the Chicago area, we've actually been having a super mild winter so far. But even after all these years, I'm kind of a wimp so if there's a chilly wind blowing, I need this guy (girl? one? wouldn't English be even more interesting and yet complicated if objects had gender like they do in Spanish?) sealing heat into my noggin.

pleated poppy

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Official Greetings

Merry Christmas everyone! The stars are brightly shining, it is (was, two days ago, but who knows exactly?) the night of our dear Saviour's birth!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mission: Spend Christmas at Home, Day PM and Boxing Day Too

Christmas afternoon, we were privileged and blessed to witness three of our friends baptisms. After they were all properly and solemnly dunked, it was party time! We enjoyed a potluck dinner and then a "family concert," which really meant that anyone who wanted to could get up and perform. Izumi missed her school Christmas concert the week before last and therefore, her opportunity to perform "Joy to the World". She and her two little friends made up for it here! I expected her to be shy but instead, she was all about the mic! We don't attend Sunday services at this particular church, but I've been part of one of their Bible studies (in Japanese) for eight or nine years now. This community blesses us and takes us in though we aren't officially "members," and the special time we spent with them this Christmas was yet another reminder of their grace.
Izumi @ the mic
Boxing Day--a term I'm using only 'cause it sounds better than "the day after Christmas," not 'cause I actually know what it's about--was a triumph in my mind. We actually pulled off a family outing! Not our strength for now, though I'm sure we'll get better since Misaki is closer to turning three. We went to see ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo. We left home around 3:30 pm, which seemed kind of random but turned out to be perfect! We found *free* street parking on Cannon Drive! We had to walk a bit but it was worth it! I brought along a whole lot of food so other than the gas for driving, we didn't spend a penny on our outing! We were right out of there a little past six because it was well dark and getting chilly. Which meant that the kids went to bed more or less on time! Yes! I am disproportionately excited about our outing! Because we "made a memory"! Thanks for indulging my excessive use of exclamation points. Lincoln Park ZooLights

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mission: Spend Christmas At Home, Day AM

Our Christmas Day happened like this...not all moments are pictured 'cause I'm presenting my first ever photo collage, which I made on Picnik.
The kids woke up at seven. Maybe I had downplayed their presents enough (too much?), but I was fine with not doing the crack of dawn thing! We did stockings first, which was strictly a kid deal this year. They were delighted with their Bubble Yum (none for Misaki), resistance bands (2012 will be the year of working out, even for the kids. Oh yes.), and cards from Aunt Laurie with five bucks inside. Thanks, Aunt Laurie! 
OK, I need to be less detailed or I will never post this! Moving to bullet points: I hadn't made breakfast ahead of time, and as I had predicted to myself, I regretted it. In order to buy time to bake up some cinnamon bun muffins, I pulled out an ornament making kit that I had grabbed at Target. Yesterday. ahem. Had everyone work on that and it kept them occupied and happy till breakfast was ready. This is not a bullet point after all. Then Koji read us The Advent Book from beginning to end. Best $47 investment, seriously. The kids opened their presents. We all spent a considerable amount of time playing with the wrapping paper. Playing catch with the garbage bag full of the paper was a highlight, I'm not kidding. Knowing we were off to church at two, we headed to the basement for some Just Dance Kids (that's NOT an affiliate link, though I'm interested in the idea. gotta get more than two people reading this blog first...). The kids did a "show" for my parents over Skype. Sometimes I can't believe we can do that! So space age! Anyway, somehow Aogu and I started watching a documentary about the tsunami in Japan, which was super informative and compelling but not helpful as far as Christmas cheer goes.
Christmas 2011 collage

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mission: Spend Christmas At Home, Christmas Eve

Friends, we did it!  We spent Christmas at home, just the five of us, and we had a good time!

Though this is my eighth year with the title of Mama, I've been slow and reluctant to come to family Christmas.  I can't help it.  I'm an extrovert, and three, four or even five people just doesn't sound like enough for a Merry Christmas.

Exploring what on earth a Merry Christmas is, well, please watch this video.  We saw it at our church's Christmas Eve service.  It was a huge hit with everyone, and also apparently the inspiration for the glowsticks the kids are sporting:

Aogu and I were nostalgic as we watched friends with a new baby climb on stage to play Mary and Joseph. We did that too, back in the day!

After the service, we had planned to drive through Sauganash to see the Christmas lights.  I hadn't planned for everyone to be hungry for dinner.  They didn't want to eat clementines and dried cranberries for dinner?!

So we drove through Wendy's.  Which was not at all in line with my new food leanings, but was fast, and did get dinner taken care of.  OK.  

Driving through the neighborhood was a little bewildering, but we saw the tree that starts on the first floor, continues through the second, and sticks out through the roof (how do they do that?).  We saw the gigantic Rudolph, and we saw Santa's Workshop, Treehouse Version.  I call that a successful outing.

Home again for "Movie Night".  We tried to watch an animated version of The Christmas Carol, but even that was too scary.  So we abandoned it for an animated Christmas Story, in which an old donkey is something of a hero.  

When I was growing up, we had a tradition of opening one present on Christmas Eve.  I had tried to continue that the last couple of years.  But this year, I gave it up.  It would have required the presents actually being under the tree!  The kids didn't remember that we had done that last year, and I was free to wrap all the presents after they went to bed.  Perfect!  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I Wore Wednesday...and Tuesday

This fuzzy iPhone record of my outfit from yesterday is rather an accomplishment--first, that I shed my "house clothes," and second, in that it occurred to me to snap a photo--considering I've spent the better part of the last two and weeks in the house, hunkered down with Izumi. She had pneumonia, and it was so scary to watch. I am beyond relieved and thankful that she's finally doing better now. So I celebrated by tying this Italian silk scarf (for real, I bought it while we were in Rome in May) around my neck and going to the post office for some 98 cent stamps. My internationally-bound Christmas cards will be late, but you agree, don't you, that I have good reason?

Getting out yesterday really took effort.  Today I was a little more on my game.  Or trying to look that way.  Here I present my current go-to: polka dots.  White on black is my favorite.  In some past life (university), my friends thought my possession of enough orange clothing to present myself in that color head to toe was a little strange.  Now, I'm close to being able to do the same in polka dots.  It sounds like I'm bragging, but is it bragging when you're talking about doing something that no one else particularly wants to do anyway?!  Plus, I don't have polka dot shoes yet...

I'm linking to What I Wore Wednesday for the first time.  Here's hoping it won't be the last!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Just Cut My Hair

For the first time in two years, two months, and two weeks. Looks like I was carrying a small poodle around on my head and didn't know it. I still really like long hair but for now, I feel relieved!

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Aogu and I stopped through Heathrow on our way back from Rome in May, and we had some euros left over so we went into a gift shop and bought the girls some Dora coloring books with plastic watches attached.  Why we didn't buy anything more durable, stylish or European? is a valid question I can't answer.  In any case, Misaki LOVES this watch.  Every day, she puts it on, looks at it and then announces,

"It's time o'clock."

Friday, December 02, 2011

Welcome to the Age of Overparenting - Boston Magazine

Welcome to the Age of Overparenting - Boston Magazine

Great, great article. Reminds me of the days my friends and I would be out playing the ditches in the field out back--I think I was nine or 10. We wouldn't come home 'til the sun was setting and Dad whistled for us. Really.

So, how can I get my kids to jump on the trampoline without me?!!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dear Koji, this is what you ate today

Koji is keeping a food journal right now and I am writing this mostly so that tomorrow morning when he says, "Mama, what did I eat yesterday?," I'll have this record.  At karate, he recently stepped up to blue belt.  His next level is purple, and one requirement for advancement is to keep a food journal for a week and avoid junk food during that period.  We haven't spent much time talking about junk food since I've always told myself that I am feeding the kids home cooked, healthy meals anyway.  The former was true.  The  So he's been constantly querying: "Mama, is this junk food?" "How about this?  Junk or no?" He's funny because he likes fruit, and since I'm always saying sweets are bad but fruit is sweet, he's been a little confused.  Anyway, for Thanksgiving last week, Koji was really looking forward to the privilege of eating dessert.  As seems to ever be true, since then it's been a bit difficult to get back on track.  %^&*$ nefarious habit forming sugar! 
Excuse the outburst, this is what he ate today:
Breakfast: (soaked) oatmeal, (raw) cream, dried cranberries, small piece of Japanese sweet potato, milk
Lunch: more Japanese sweet potato, one pickle sized cucumber, two slices of deli turkey, water
Snack: banana
Dinner: three pieces of pepperoni pizza, one snack sized bag of popcorn, applesauce and water.