Sunday, October 21, 2012


The Autumn field trip for all classes at Seika, except the oldest, is to go Sweet Potato digging.  Pony class got the super classy bus, aka: the Disco Bus

Just some of the decor...  It was a Sheraton-meets-New-Orleans-Lounge.  Awesome!!

Since the other classes do not have school on that day, Dougie got to join in the event.  And lead the Pony procession (the Youngest class).  When Ian did not take him seriously enough, Dougie chased after him to literally, get him back in line...

Choke-hold style...

Pony Class with Kamei Sensei (their teacher), Encho Sensei (the Principal), parents and sibs
As, um, odd as digging up sweet potatoes sound - it is a lot of fun.  The boys love to dig.  They get something for their efforts.  We come home with a TON of purple sweet potatoes.  AND they get a freshly roasted sweet potato for the road.

After digging, we go to this HUGE park, have a picnic and play for a bit.

Ian has a little girl that he is sweet on - and the feeling is mutual!  Isa lives down the way from us and her mother and I compare notes frequently!  After playing "chase me"

Ian walked right up to Isa and...

began to... (look closely at his finger's location...)


They really don't change much, do they?!?

Ian had a moment, sitting Japanese-style, with one of the teachers while checking out the Kame Ike (Turtle Pond).

She nearly cried when I showed her the picture.  I will have to print this and give it to her!!!

After all that, the kids do a little "folk dancing".  They start out with Old MacDonald - Japanese Style.

Seriously, they do this super kawaii dance to a Disney themed song.

While this was going on, Ferdinand was smelling the daisies...

Down the Toilet...

Friday was to be a field-trip-filled day.  Eric is on his extended field-trip to Bremerton.  Ian had a trip with Seika digging up Sweet Potatoes.  Needing a parent and having no school for the rest meant that Dougie and I were going as well. Stefan had a trip lined up for the Natural History museum in Odawara with his school.

Stefan, instead, started the day with face and lips the color of Ivory (the soap that floats...) and feeling shaky.  And then...  he threw up.


This is not a common occurrence in our household.  Don't get me wrong - I am really grateful!  We have our share of URIs, but rarely an upchuck.  In spite of the discouraging feeling that completely overwhelmed me, I felt - dare I say it - hopeful.

I have to admit, that I was hoping he would feel better and move on, thus getting to go on his field trip.  I know, completely callous and you can feel the pressure drop from every school teacher out there sucking in the air.  Admit it - you have all felt this way before.  You know when the offending icky has removed itself and nary a problem again.

I did, however, start looking for alternatives.  I couldn't just ask Eric to stay home/go on the Seika trip.  What. To. Do...

I thought I would just have to throw in the towel and flush (ha ha) the money spent on the Seika trip (which was a LOT, I might add...)

Ultimately, my incredible neighbor Eileen offered up her rocking chair and bathroom.  I swiveted.  I knew she was well equipped for this - but was I such a dog to ditch my sick kid?


He lost it one more time before we left - and ultimately made us late.  It was a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things!

Stefan protested about the slim pickin's for meals (ramekin of DRY Rice Krispies and flat Ginger Ale - he should have been grateful!), but complied.  His prize was mashed potatoes and chicken cutlets if he could keep the Krispies down all day.

He did.

And the other two and I had a really nice time digging for sweet potatoes - more on that next... ;)

Viva La Japon!

I had four fantastic boys Saturday morning.  Stefan had an orthodontist appointment early (which reminds me, I have forgotten to tighten his retainer...).  The other three and myself parked the car and came and got him.  We then ventured into downtown with brekkies on the mind (and stomach!).  I had coffee at the top of my list, so was thrilled when they wanted pastries, not a sit-down breakfast.

The boys' pick?  Vie de France!

Viva La France! (French pastries, that is!)

They had some basic picks (sugared donuts), variations on American donuts (fried Old-Fashioned, anyone?), chocolate muffins, chocolate and peanut-butter filled pastries, and a flower-like sweet potato and black sesame pastry (shown above).

My pick? Coffee!

We divided the spoils and shared.  I had quatre tres extraordiaire - et tres bizarre - beaux amis!

On our way home, the opposite lane of traffic was diverted.  We had to find our way around the "back way" since the turn was the transition point of

Some sort of running relay...  On the line in front of the cross walk are the next wave of runners.  I suddenly understood why I passed many, many, track teams running with sashes all week.  Instead of passing batons, they would pass a colored sash.  It was great fun to see all the spectators lining the road and cheering like lunatics.  The Japanese are a traditionally reserved culture.  That is, until it comes to sports!  Love it! 

Vive La Japon!

What's In Your Wallet?!?


What's in your 8-year-old's backpack?!?

This is just a sampling of mine...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mack Truck Headache

Last night was a very short night...  Very.  I spent most of it correcting the translation of an engineering paper.  All while falling asleep over the computer.  It was ugly.

This morning, I feel a bit like the hood ornament of a Mack Truck...

I wish it had been Mack, instead...  It have been more entertaining than the paper I was correcting...
I could stand to be run over by the Big Mac truck:

The Advil/coffee cocktail will have to suffice.

Turns out, the real cure to the Not-Enough-Sleep-Hangover is...

     to call your niece/nephew back home and have the best conversation.  Ever.

Kylie, you were missed!  I hope you had a great time with you friend :)  Jake, it is so much fun to hear you so delighted in the goodies Uncle Eric brought from the boys!  It was great talking to you.  It made my day!  Dougie and Ian were silly excited to call and talk.  Auntie M, we love talking to you - and I love hearing your well-grounded voice.  Thank you for that!

We all miss you all terribly.  I am envious that Uncle Eric gets to pop in on you periodically.  I like to live vicariously through him in those moments.  Stefan will be so sad to have missed this - we will have to make up for it tomorrow (as he has a day off!).

Thank you for the best phone call ever.  Better cure for the under-slept-headache than the Big Mack Truck!

Love you!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Safety Parade

Today, Dougie made his parade debut in the Yokosuka City Safety Parade.  And my camera battery died as I attempted the first pic :(  Super happy for the camera-on-phone option!

The Older Class made up the marching band and flag corp.  The Younger Class marched in time with their "bling" (gold pom-pons).  Four marching bands participated in this parade.  Three of those bands were not yet in grade school!

Dougie played the tolio (tri-tom) again.

His friend (and, often, partner in crime), Lindsey, played the #2 bass drum.  It was probably 1/3 of her body weight!

By the end of the parade, their burdens were showing - but they kept marching on!

If you are prone to motion sickness, don't watch the video too closely; it was done on the move - with everyone else.  You will see the marching band, Encho Sensei (the principal), the senseis as they herd the young goats (kids), fixing hats (Dougie's visor strap fell and sat atop his glasses - and he waited for a break to fix it!), all the parents videoing their kids (me included), etc.  My apologies for the lousy video-graphing.  This was the beginning of the parade.  They kept doing this for another 20 minutes.  Three minutes was more than enough film...

The two other Yochien's that were perfuming were considerably larger than Seika and had some instrument variation.  It was really amazing to see what these kindergarteners can do!

I can not imagine  any kindergarten class in the States being able to march together (in feathered hats!), play instruments, etc. while being passed by traffic the entire time, much less three!!!  I had a soft spot for one of the schools - they played the PLU fight song, "When The Saint's Go Marching In"


Our kids were picked up by about 10:00 AM this morning and got home past 16:00.  Suffice to say, it was a long day.  But completely entertaining!  And safe... :D

Pocket Change

This morning started raining and chilly - Autumn is finally setting in!  Stefan went off to watch Power Rangers with Matthew.  Their ride to the Yokosuka Fish Festival was delayed by rain.  Dougie got picked up by the Seika bus to get ready for the Yokosuka Safety Parade.  Ian played with our new, incredible Haba Japanese block set  (HUGE thank you :D)

With just Ian in tow, we gathered up cameras, rain coats and a backpack, having our hearts (stomachs) set on eating some ramen before the parade.

We had such a fun stroll to the train with just one imp along.  Once we got to More's City (Yokosuka Chuo station), I realized, "DOH!  I forgot to put Yen in my wallet!!!"  I did have one bill (~ $10).  Eric dug in his pocket and came up with another ¥800.  We could easily feed three!  That is one of the best parts about living in Japan - pocket change can actually buy you a meal (or three)!

We enjoyed a very pleasant meal with no bickering, cross-talk or time-outs.

It was still cold and drizzly out, so I figured I would take the foreign exchange hit and charge a Starbucks & a cocoa to my credit card.  I got to the till and found out that not only do the take all major credit cards, they also take your train commuter pass!  Deduct one venti coffee and one tall cocoa please!  I thought I hit the jackpot!

We got to the parade gathering point, saw the choo-choo bus pull up (always a highlight!) and Dougie had a front row seat!

Got out the camera and...


battery was  D. E. A. D.

No amount of pocket change was fixing that!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Typhoon Jelawat Emergency Preparedness

What does one do before a typhoon?

Well, you eat a great meal for starters.  We ate some tasty rice noodles that Dougie brought back from his camping trip with Seika.  I was told they were delicious with pumpkin...  So we (Eric) stir-fried up some kabocha and ginger pork.  He paired it with a great brew (thank you Dwayne!) from Wisconsin - clearly purchased for its label!

Then we got a good night's sleep.  And awoke to some fresh coffee.  Thanks to some fabulous friends, I now have a dedicated coffee pot (thank you Gina for the bigger one that Eric has tagged) and some divine decaf coffee!  My life-long friend, Leah, takes pity on me and my decaf-coffee habit (she shares this addiction) and sends me amazing decaf coffees from great local roasters around the Puget Sound area.  I love the coffee and I love it even more that I think of Leah with every brew!

Then we went to base.  Passed some road maintenance and discovered how they run the services, etc. through the streets here:

They put the road right over a H-beams and just pull them out as necessary!  I have gone by a ton of road digging, but just assumed (wrongly) that the metal plates over the H-beams were temporary.  I had always wondered how they got the road paved so fast having just had all these huge plates installed (and removed?)...  They pave over them, of course!  Yes, I am slow to discover...

We went to the NEX to add to our Typhoon Jelawat Emergency Preparedness Kit supplies: wine, beer, chocolate chips (for brownies), cheese and batteries - for the monster.  A long, lost friend was re-awoken.  Much squealing occurred...

We went to the library to rent movies and check out some books.  Can you see the amazing sunshine (note the shadows and squinting) and the dark clouds in the background?

Base was deserted.  Except for the commissary.  People actually went to buy flashlights/batteries, water and canned goods ;)

Then, we invited our neighbors over!

Grape Expectations...

We got a Kuroneko delivery the other day.  Kuroneko (Black Cat) is brown gone black.  It is the UPS of Japan - only better...

We rarely get any delivery through the Japanese delivery system.  And then comes along the Seika Yochien Mothers' Association... it has its perks!  Not tuition remission, but...


The box it came in was amazing!  Super thick, nice cardboard (OK, this may sound hoakie to some of you - but it really was quality!).  It had this picture of grapes on the outside - all I could think was "huh - I wonder what is inside?!?".  Eric had grape expectations and suggested refrigeration.

He was right.

It was an enormous box of beautiful grapes!  So, we shared with our neighbors, along with some brownies, cheese, lox and wine that we stocked up on for our Emergency Typhoon Jelawat Preparedness Kits.  The kids watched Toy Story on VHS (yes, the Anthony's live in the Dark Ages...) and the adults ate like royalty!  Thank you for making the most of a typhoon, Paluszeks!  We should not wait for natural disasters to do such things!

Dougie Moon

Dougie has always had a special relationship with Grammie & Pop - and the moon.  When he could barely talk, he would ask about the moon on a nightly basis.  Pop always had the patience to take Dougie outside to check out the night sky.  Full moons brought out the werewolves... Dougie would howl with glee!

The full moon came to be known as a

Dougie Moon

Tonight was one of those nights.  The moon was HUGE and ORANGE.  Last night was the actual, full, Harvest Moon.  We, however, could not see it thanks to Typhoon Jelawat...  Thankfully, the typhoon did not blow our Harvest Moon out of the sky!  And, it made for an amazingly beautiful day - and evening/night.

Dougie was ecstatic!  He insisted I take a picture (was going to anyway) to send to Pop.

As we "looked" for the moon, we lost it.  It was rising behind Monkey Island (Sarushima) and was momentarily "missing"...

And then we found it behind the boats.

Pop, Dougie is counting: only 2 full moons and 24 days until you can take him out to see a

Dougie Moon