Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving Thanks for the Past Week

Aogu is in Tokyo, and though we miss him, we are thankful that he has work to do!

Our new, kind, God-sent friends the B Family invited us to a bowling and pizza party. The opportunity for the kids to bowl up a storm and eat exceeding amounts of pizza (OK, I did too...) was the perfect Sunday afternoon diversion. Thank you so much, B Family!

This a Japanese style toilet seat cover. The purpose is not sanitation, but rather a warm bottom. Which some may consider as--or even more?!--important than sanitation during a Chicago winter. Even with the blessing of a nicely heated home, that stone cold toilet seat can be a shock to the behind! We are asking Aogu to please purchase a couple of these and bring them back to increase our toilet-sitting comfort.

Here the girls are spending a little time Thanksgiving Day with their aforementioned new "BF," (see the bowing party point above) Mr. C (of the previously mentioned B Family, got that?) at another friends' house. We stopped in for a couple of hours of playing and appetizers.

Koji and Z challenged one another to a few rounds of UNO dice and then headed outside for a quick game of soccer. We had to leave for the next party we were invited to, so we may never know what the White Castle Slider Stuffing tasted like!

Boys Table at the Feast. For better or worse, Koji taught them to spread cranberry sauce on white rolls. I'm pretty sure that much nutritional intake was hindered as a direct result. And I'm pretty sure there was no way around this thought process for Koji when he saw that veritable vat of cranberry sauce: "LOOK AT THAT GIGANTIC DISH OF JAM! MUST SPREAD ON BREAD NOW!"....

Our lovely friend J and her boys, so so kind to include us in their family festivities!

Girl Power!

Our sweet and gracious hostess, Mrs. R, who rarely sat down (until this photo was taken late late in the evening). Misaki, ready to combat you in dress up boots (see below). Mrs. R's daughter, C; it was so fun to get to know her a bit, and a family friend, B.

Don't mess with the wearer of the BOOTS!

Alas, I failed to get photographic evidence of our Friday morning trip to Chuck E. Cheese, but I did mention it in the previous entry, so I think you have the idea. After that, not a great photo, but I do enjoy the view of the Chicago skyline when driving toward it (and then mistakenly into it....someday I'll figure out how to maneuver around here?!) on 94.

Spent some time with our friends the C Family, first at their house, then at Jump Zone and Chipotle. When I explained to Misaki that this sign meant she was the only member of our family allowed in this bouncy house, she was enamoured and we could hardly drag her out. Thankfully, toward the end of our stay there, we did drag her out for several family trips down the Batman slide, which made us laugh hysterically. Now, are you noting that we went to Chuck E.'s AND Jump Zone all in the same day?! My main Energizer Bunny, Koji, actually fell asleep in the car on the way home! And I somehow carried his 65 pound dead weight in the house and into his bed without injuring either of us, only to have him wake up three minutes later saying he needed to use the restroom....

Yesterday morning we spent some time at home. I was NOT feeling energetic but the kids were, so it was very difficult to get them to let me read a magazine (insert less than stellar parenting moment....) but they did eventually. Thanks, kids! In the early afternoon, we were off to make origami ornaments with the L Family for their daughters' memorial tree.

It was amusing, though not genetically surprising, that Koji and Izumi were considered the resident experts of all paper folding. I'm not sure they deserved the amount of adulation they got, but they certainly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the opportunity to disprove a long, firmly held belief: that I am not good at origami. Turns out, I'm not as expert as the kids, but I can hold my own when I'm not trying to do 17 other things at the same time (hm, could this concept perhaps have a more universal application?).

After that, we were off to spend time with another C Family, who had invited us for pizza at their house. They had just set up their Christmas tree, and it smelled so...Christmasy!.... Here the kids are, showing their friend A their new iPad game, Angry Birds Star Wars.

As for today, I can't post it but I got a fine picture of Misaki, dead asleep in her birthday suit after her bath. We went to church, were visited by the B Family (who ate instant ramen with us and didn't complain, they are turning out to be true friends), then the M Family (who treated Koji to a viewing of the Life of Pi in the theatre) and then all the kids took turns in the shower. I told her to put her pajamas on, went off to do something else and then started to wonder why she wasn't coming out of her room. Well, the lure of her Kiki (that's her blankie's name) and her room--note I didn't say bed, she fell asleep right on the floor--was too much and she ended up going to bed for the night, without eating dinner or brushing her teeth, at 5:30 pm.

And so, that was our blessed, full, busy, wonderful four days of Thanksgiving for 2012. To all the friends mentioned, and those who prayed, we are deeply grateful for your care for us. Thank you, God!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday 2012, minus shopping

Every once in awhile on a no-school morning, for years now, my friend J and I have been taking our combined six kids on outings to Chuck Ee Cheese (spelling that wrong on purpose). We've got the routine down pretty well now. Using e-mail coupons and math on a napkin, we can wring two hours of fun, a couple slices of pizza per kid and a couple rounds of basketball shooting out of twenty bucks each.
The adventure we had today was pretty standard, with these twists:

N wasn't interested in prizes and therefore didn't collect tickets at all

M was terrified of ChuckE

The by-the-book, slim, bespectacled Asian girl working at SBux inside of Barnes and N Books had to know exactly how many ounces of coffee J's travel mug might hold. 16, which is a grande

and finally--
after J and crew (not to be confused with JCrew) left for home, we stayed and played for a few minutes. I was pleasantly surprised that the kids were interested in token-less play. And less surprised when, just as we were about to leave, M expressed an (intense--do I need to say this? all of her feelings are this way, she's three and a half....) desire to be photographed while riding in ChuckE's car. I didn't have, well didn't THINK I had, any more tokens. Later I found three in my pockets. At that moment, though, I was sure I didn't have any. A women happened to see M's longing and kindly gave us three tickets. When we were done photographing and traveling to nowhere in a plastic vehicle, we gave our kind patron all the tickets we have. She was thrilled and said something like, "This is a great trade! We should really blog about this!"

Ha ha! I said back, doing that thing I sometimes do where I pretend I know what you mean but really I'm pretending.

But I couldn't stop thinking about the moment all day, so here I am, blogging and telling you about it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

That Big Day at the End of October

This year, Halloween--make that HOWLEEN if you are Misaki--fell on a Wednesday. Therefore, all the events that might have been spread over a few days were jammed into one.
  1. We spent the morning at St. Matthew's. I don't want to incriminate any of my friends, so I'll refrain from posting photos. If you think my turkey costume (I borrowed it from a friend) is funny, well, take a look at this.  Yes, one of my friends wore it.  After much mutual admiration all around, and requisite photo shoot, we embarked on the annual scavenger hunt.  See below for a photo of the winning team.  Finally, we went trick or treating round to some stations the teachers had set up on school property with the kids.  
  2. Next stop was Koji's school.  Things were eventful there; while the English teachers were carefully administering the Halloween quiz they had prepared (did you know that candy corn is the best selling Halloween candy? eewww....), suddenly the fire alarm went off!  Apparently one of the smoke machines went haywire...?  Even after waiting for the fire department to come and declare everything safe, the kids still had enough time for making rounds inside the school.  
  3. One of Koji's friends invited us to his birthday party.  Which was kind of a brilliant move on that mom's part; she didn't have to plan any activities 'cause the kids were all out trick or treating most of the time.  She did choose to provide a shrimp tray and some other savories to help us balance our blood sugar, for which I was deeply grateful.  
  4. As our final activity for the day, we went to the Pumpkin Patch at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church.  You'll see below that the professional face painter was just that!
  5. The next evening we had our annual housegroup costume party and it was GREAT--thanks to everyone for being good sports, and giving us a lot of laughs!
  6. One task remains undone.  We must sell our candy--at the low, but much better than nothing rate of $1/pound--to the kids' dentist.  And we must do this soon because having chocolate in the house isn't working out well for me....I may outgrow the "one size fits most" turkey costume....

Seventh annual Halloween Party at St. Matthew's

As ever, the school principal prepared a scavenger hunt to challenge us costumed mothers.
This year, my team won!

At Koji's school in the afternoon for our second Halloween bash.  

Stealth ninja dude with his friends

That evening, we went to Cornerstone Church for their annual Pumpkin Patch.
They hired a professional face painter.  

After spending the day as a crocodile and penguin, my girls apparently didn't think to ask for flowers.
Way to buck the trend, ladies!

The next evening, we had a costume party with our church small group.
 I still don't think I should have been allowed to win my own contest (conflict of interest and all that) but somehow I did...