Friday, November 30, 2012

To Everything There Is A Season: Rikugien Garden, Tokyo

A friend of mine extended an invite to the Rikugien Garden in Tokyo to see the changing of the leaves.  The timing was perfect!  Gina came with Ian and me.  Ian was not seeing it as a priveledge as he woke up whining, started to cry that he wanted to go to school with Dougie and pretty much acted like a three-year-old all day.  Yes, I know - he IS three.  It was so obvious this day...

We saw a kingfisher - the most colorful bird I have yet to see in Japan.  It's turquoise back and tail feathers were a stark contrast to the autumn foliage.

He even caught and ate a fish while we were spying on him

Then flew off and perched over the pond for seconds...

The colors were magnificent

What Gina and I thought were Winter Illumination decorations, turned out to be tree supports!  The supports for the trees were nearly as intricate as the garden themselves.

The boat and boat shed were very serene

 Ian, on the other hand, was not...

We ate dango and drank matcha at the tea house for lunch.

Ian rather enjoyed licking the sticky sweet sauce on the grilled mochi (much like teriyaki).

He then pouted when the sauce covered that luscious lower lip

His impatience for getting it wiped off was showing in his chin...

Rikugien Garden is an exceptional garden.  One that holds treasures in every season.  Autumn in Japan is beautiful.  Life oftentimes passes by without so much as a thought as to what is going on around us.  We become blind to our surroundings, even blind to our circumstances.  This was a day of awakening. Awakening of my senses, my body, my breath...  It was a day to behold the changing of seasons, to rejoice in God's creations  - the circle of life.  Each of these leaves are turning colors and will soon be pushed off their spring and summer's perch on the branch.  The next spring's leaves are forming, swelling with new life and casting off the old.  A cycle of rebirth.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

VI - Six! Lost & Found

They were so excited to pose - Roman Style (numeral, that is)!

"They" did not include Ian...

He woke up whining and crabby...

Things did not change much - this was the best 'I' we got...

Yesterday, Stefan went to the Zushi Police station to retrieve his lost phone.  Something that never would have happened in the States - because nobody would have turned it in!  We "joke" that misplaced things in Japan are viewed as "LOST" whereas in the States (base included), those items are viewed as "FOUND".  It has been an interesting study in paradigms...

Less than 16 hours later, Stefan extended the study to see if the first time was just a fortunate fluke.  Can the experiment be repeated?!?  Phone is missing again...

>   <

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eight... Seven...



If you look carefully in VII, you will see the Seika bus coming to pick up the boys - we were caught!  So, their bus driver hopped out and joined in!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Nine hours...

Nine tiers on our awesome (meh) fake tree (that won't die before December)...

Nine strands of lights...

Nine Nutcrackers...

Nine green army men (hiding in the branches)...

Nine ornaments that will not face forward - no matter how you turn them...

Nine Christmas movies and even more books...

Nine thousand little Lego Advent Calendar Christmas Legos to rebuild...

Nine days until Grammie & Pop arrive!!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Perfect 10.0

Black Friday.  Kick off to the "Holiday Season".  This year, it was also the kick-off to Apple Cup 2012!  A State rivalry that has gone on since...  I assume the first game!

It took me until half-time to "find" the game on-line.  Thank you AM 710 for live streaming!!!  This year's game proved to be quite exciting!  Instead of Couging-It, WSU pulled out for a tie at the buzzer.  To Coug-It (according to the Urban Dictionary) is to:
1. snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
2. lose when there is no possible way to do so, and to do it in a particularly spectacular manner

Yup.  That pretty much summarized most/all Apple Cups of yon...

NOT THIS YEAR!!!  Huskies had possession of the ball first during OT.  They lost their possession and the Cougs pulled it off!  The boys and I have been sporting our WSU paraphernalia all day.  Fun way to Kick-Off the Holiday Season!!!

This year's game was a perfect 10.0! (and 10 days to G&P!)

How 'bout them apples?!?

Black Friday

Black Friday: the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Stefan being what/who he is, "misplaced" the phone he carries to/from school.  The misplacement was his pocket. 

"Stefan - Do. Not. Put. The. Phone. In. Your. Pocket.  It will fall out."

"It never falls out!" was the reasoning behind the (mis)placement.

It, of course, did not fall out before I nearly plopped it in the washing machine, still (mis)placed in the pocket of the almost-washed-pants.

"Stefan - Do. Not. Put. The. Phone. In. Your. Pocket.  It will fall out."

"But I always find it!" was the NEXT line of reasoning for the continued in-the-pocket (mis)placement.   

He, of course, did not notice it the day it went missing.

Thus my insistence that the pocket is not good placement for a phone.  You do always find it.  Until you don't.  And then it is lost...

And it belies the aforementioned reasoning...

So, on Black Friday, the first business-day after the USS George Washington and its city of sailors pulled into Yokosuka, Stefan and I waited in line at Softbank so he could report the phone missing, discontinue service on it and replace the phone.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And were told we needed a Police Report for the lost phone.  Sigh.  And she gave us the number to call Softbank - just in case someone called it in missing.  I already had one of my English students call the bus station and train station - no phone.  No dice.


So, I called Softbank - because "why not?"

Turns out, the phone was found, turned into the police station in Zushi AND they had called Softbank and reported it.  So thankful.  Stefan was so relieved!  He even offered to have me sew up his pockets!

This is one of the many reasons I love Japan.  Misplaced items are LOST.  Not found.  It is a paradigm shift that the United States should really consider.

We really did get a Black Friday deal.  And it did not cost us anything (beyond time).  I would say that was a bargain!

Whether or not you kicked off your Christmas Season with Black Friday waiting.  I mean, SHOPPING.  This will really get you into the Spirit of Christmas (ahem)...

I grew up listening to Tom Lehrer, an incredibly talented, witty and wildly entertaining mathematician cum pianist/entertainer.  He graduated in Mathematics when he was 19.  Magna Cum Laude.  From Harvard.  He taught at MIT, Harvard & Wellesley.  This video is a little peak at my upbringing.  It may shed a little light into my complex (read: whacky) personality...

I hope it gives you the infectious giggles, the way it does me.  And, I hope it starts your Christmas Season with a little more "perspective"...

1 and 1

Still digesting...

Since Eric had to go into work this morning, the boys and I had brekkies together - (Stefan was still asleep - unitl 9:20!  It. Was. AWESOME!)


Friday, November 23, 2012

May The Lord Make Us Truly Thankful

What my mom heard my dad say before they had their first married meal together (that she had prepared):
For what we are about to receive,
May the Lord make us truly thankful
In spite of what's in front of us...


#12: Kickball!!!  Thank you, Dwayne, for organizing a kickball game every Thanksgiving Day morning!  A great game for all - and then the adults hang around watching this great swarm of kids play together until our Turkey starts gobbling.  I showed up late with Ian - after waking him at 09:20!  Quite thankful for his sleeping in!  Thankful that Melissa brings her camera - and takes pictures!  Check out the bed-head!  Super fun chatting it up with the Fraser Fam this morning!

#11: Ian's skin was noticeably better by dinner tonight!  He was "officially" diagnosed with a reaction to the Amoxicillin - his last dose was before the appointment was even made yesterday. Dare I be thankful, in advance, for a good night's sleep?!?

#10:  Stefan's outgoing personality.  He invited a (Japanese) classmate to play kickball with us.

#9:  Stefan's generous and outgoing personality.  He invited Kosho to stay for dinner!  It was Kosho's first turkey - EVER!

#8:  Stefan's generous, outgoing and clueless-to-social-norms personality.  He invited Kosho, Miryu (Kosho's little brother) and their parents to come for dinner!  They, kindly, declined (Kosho stayed).  It would have been fun to have had a Japanese family stay for a completely and uniquely American celebration.  I know "we" are somewhat of a mystery to them...  It is fun to see their expressions when experiencing something totally different for the first time - bringing me to...

#7:  First experiences!  I made a Japanese Sweet Potato dish: Kuri Kinton. Kosho said it was good!  Of course, maybe he was just being polite...  However, watching Kosho's face and hearing his reaction to turkey and CRANBERRY SAUCE was priceless!  He was giddy with delight.  It warmed my heart to no end!  I sent him home with a heavy serving of leftovers.

#6:  Dougie's boundless joy!  He was/is the best food critic one could ask for.  I got 5-star reviews from him.  He gets no monetary kick-backs from anyone to give good reports, but I think he knows the benefits of buttering up the chef...

#5:  Trust!  I am thankful for our friendship with the Cohns.  Gina and Chris Cohn trusted us enough to ask if we could keep their kids, Lindsey and Gavin, while they went to an appointment in Tokyo.  Not being a Japanese holiday and schedules being what they are - you take what you can get!  Even if it is 3:00 PM on Thanksgiving!

#4:  a BUNCH of great kids!  The kids outnumbered the adults by a ratio of 3 to 1 (that included the 14 year-old in the "adult" category!).  By nights-end, there had been no blood spilled (nor food or drink either!), no one was screaming, the house was in good repair and basically picked up.  However, a whole lot of silliness and giggling happened...

#3: Disposable chopsticks and an endless supply of rubber-bands (thank you, Gina!).  The kids all made rubber band shooters.  They built targets and shot rubber-bands all over the place.  I loved their ingenuity - even if it required a special-ops team to find, and retrieve, all 7218 stray rubber-bands.

#2: Great new friends/neighbors:  We were able to share Thanksgiving with the Paluszek's (minus Eileen & Mikaela who are college hunting - you were missed!).  Dave summarized it all so well,
"Those that don't have kids just don't understand."
They get it.  Having kids makes everything take longer.  It looks less polished.  You have to do things two or three times to get it done once.  Sitting down takes multiple attempts and, even then, you don't really get to settle in.  It also makes you enjoy your wine a little more, smile a whole lot more, laugh over the unthinkable, look back on days-gone-by with joy, fondness, a little sadness and a feeling of true accomplishment.

And #1: Only 12 days until Grammie & Pop come to visit!!!

Having this crowd for Thanksgiving made all the preparation efforts worth it.  There were no expectations nor status-quo to keep up with.  The meal brought true joy - whether or not it had reached perfection (I can guarantee it did not!).  We were able to enjoy dessert with Gina and Chris after they got back.  The kids had dispersed and we managed to have a five-way adult conversation!  Laughs and stories were shared.

I am truly thankful to be blessed by such bounty.  This is clearly a short list of Thanksgiving.  It is just a minor list from the day's observations.  Things I am deeply thankful for.  But the list is incomplete.  I could go on for "pages" about family and friends.  I could pull the great parent-offense and list "all the wonderful things about my kids (many that no one else will ever see, much less believe me...).  I didn't even include "I am thankful nobody left my home with Ptomaine Poisoning..."

My dad's prayer, what he actually said, truly summarizes it:
For what we are about to receive,
May the Lord make us truly thankful
And supply the wants of others. 
Amen.  Precisely.  Thankful.  And, generous.
Giving all the credit where credit is due.

2 Corinthians 9:15  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!