Tall Tree Arboretum and Gardens

Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2011 | 0 comments

   We visited Tall Tree Arboretum and Gardens today....unfortunately I don't have time to discuss it in details, but here's their webite if you're interested: http://www.taltree.org/
  A beautiful place, but I'm sure even better in warm weather!

Empty Shelves

Posted on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | 0 comments

    This was the scene at several stores we went to on March 16th. Our prefecture wasn't hit by the tsunami or really even damaged by the earthquake, as I stated before. Apparently, however, people have been freaking out and hoarding things such as bread, rice, Kleenex, diapers, toilet paper, bottled water, Cup Ramen (??) and Soy Joy bars. It was rather obvious that it was just general panic in our city, though---note how in the last photo, all of the Soy Joy bars are sold out, but the other brand beneath them is still fully stocked! Honestly people, Soy Joy really isn't all that great!
  I'm not too sure how the situation is now, seeing as Keila and I are back  in the US, but I've been told that smaller stores are still selling/sold out of basic items. The larger chains, however, seem to be getting stock in, though.

                             Empty bread shelves....nobody wanted the sweet rolls at the bottom!

                               Rice is sold out...not the whole grains, however

                                   Kleenex is gone, besides a few 300 yen boxes

                            Soy Joy bars are all gone! The not-so-famous brand below? Yep, fully stocked.

Keila pictures

Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2011 | 0 comments

  If you're interested in pictures of Keila, feel free to check out her new blog: http://keilaeveryday.blogspot.com/
It will be just pictures of her, no writing since I haven't even had time to catch up with this blog lately. May or may not continue after we're back in Japan (it's mainly for Yuki's viewing pleasure). But for now...enjoy!

We're Back!

Posted on Saturday, March 26, 2011 | 1 comments

 Back in the United States for at least a month, and back online, that is. Long story that I'm sure a lot of you already know, but I'll post details on our return trip later when I have more than a few minutes. Right now, just a few pictures of Keila for her daddy to see, since he had to fly back to Japan this morning. We miss him terribly already, and are consoling ourselves by eating way too much popcorn!

                                          Hi, Daddy!

                                    Eh?? Mom already ate half the bag???

                                            Completely unrelated pic of bath time

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011 | 0 comments

Thought we'd try to keep up the cheer this week with a bit of Irish celebration...
                                         Who's taking my picture yet again??


                                           Mmm, tasty!

                                         Look! Is that a leprechaun??

                                                 Baby version of the drink 'Irish car bomb'

A Bit of Cheer

Posted on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 | 0 comments

  People in some areas are really starting to panic here, especially because of the ongoing nuclear crisis over in Fukushima. Stores are selling out of bottled water, dry goods, etc, and I'm hearing stories of hour-long waits for gas in Tokyo. Since Shizuoka still seems to be mostly the same, however, I just keep praying for the best and am trying not to let myself get too freaked out. On that note, I thought I'd post a little bit of cheer, since we could all use it right now!
Keila Usagi Pyon Pyon

A Very Sad White Day

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 | 0 comments

 To be honest, I don't really feel like posting. It seems callous to write about mundane occurrences when others are suffering, hungry, or hoping and praying for the safety of their loved ones. Maybe getting back into a routine will help combat the sadness that everyone in this country is facing right now, however.
  It was rather hard to try and continue on as normal this weekend too, knowing that so many people were suffering in other areas of the country. But sitting at home and staring at the news just kept inducing anxiety and feelings of helplessness. I didn't really sleep on Friday night and could hear our neighbor's tv on at 4 am, so I obviously wasn't the only one with insomnia.
 To get away from the awful scenes on the news (if we were at home, it was impossible not to turn on the tv), we decided to get out and do a little shopping on Saturday. Or rather, Keila and I window-shopped while Yuki got a haircut. It felt so surreal to be out and see everyone carrying on as usual downtown; I kept thinking that we all should be mourning. But maybe everyone else was feeling the same way and didn't know what to do with themselves, either.
 Whatever the case, I was once again reminded of just how peaceful and safe Japan is when I came across this scene at Cold Stone Creamery in the bottom floor of a department store:

               If you were focusing more on the guy slouching all over his seat in the background, look again and note the purse sitting on the table. Leaving one's purse out to save a table is an entirely common occurrence here. Crazy, huh? But it's exemplary of how Japan is reacting to this awful disaster: as so many people have pointed out, you aren't hearing anything on the news about rioting, stores being robbed, women being attacked, etc. Why not? Because it's simply not happening here. Maybe there are some cases that I don't know about, but so far all of the stories are of people cooperating peacefully, forming lines for food and water, and trying to help each other. Amazing, but entirely how people SHOULD be behaving after such a catastrophe.
   Moving on to another area of the basement, we came across the chocolate counters. Which were frequented mostly by men this weekend, seeing as yesterday was White Day, and I guess people were still celebrating it.  If you have no idea what White Day is, you're probably not alone. Basically, it's a day in response to Valentine's Day. Here, women give men chocolates on Valentine's Day, and on White Day, one month later, men are supposed to respond with gifts more expensive than the ones they were given. A chocolate company's dream.

On Sunday, again to get away from the tv, we used the White Day excuse to go to a nearby cake shop, Nave Noel. It's located close to the Nihondaira Zoo if you're interested. Wonderfully tasty heart-clogging chocolate cake. I'd say that I've lost my appetite due to the stress of the past few days, but to be honest, I'm a stress eater and have been running for snacks every time I hear the words 'nuclear reactor'. That cake went down like water! And then I felt guilty for being able to eat chocolate cake while so many don't have food or water right now.

            If you want a temporary mood enhancer, then this is the cake to buy!

  One last note...if you want to help but aren't sure what to do besides pray, then I'd suggest donating to the Japanese Red Cross. I'm getting my credit card out as soon as I finish posting this. Here's the Google link to it: http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html
Even $20 will help, and to be honest, are you really going to miss $20? Yeah, I didn't think so. 


Earthquake and Tsunami

Posted on Saturday, March 12, 2011 | 0 comments

   Well, obviously yesterday's big news here was not, in fact, Keila's roll-over in the morning, but the massive earthquake that struck off the coast up north in the afternoon. It was the largest in Japan's recorded history. We felt the rather long initial quake (it was a 4 here in Shizuoka) and also a large aftershock shortly thereafter, but there was no damage to be seen at our place. Actually, I have yet to note any signs of damage in our area at all, thank God. I did feel rather nauseous for an hour or two after the swaying stopped, but that's really a small price to pay in exchange for safety.
  As you likely already well know, the resulting devastating tsunami have caused most of the damage and loss of lives. Shizuoka and most of the rest of the coastal areas have had warnings for large tsunami since just after the quake, but it would appear that we are now out of the danger zone for the time being.
  It's rather surreal to turn on the tv and see images of such complete destruction and loss of life so close to home. My heart and prayers go out to all of those whose lives have been affected so much more than ours.

Big News!

Posted on Friday, March 11, 2011 | 0 comments

   Well, big news in our household, at least: Pooper rolled over this morning! Of course I wasn't home and didn't think to bring the camera, but I did record it on my cell phone (hence the poor quality photo below). The scene: I was about to change her diaper on the floor---we were attending a meeting at a small church, so no changing table---and little Billy decided that today was the day to roll from back to front. She got completely over and then couldn't really figure out how to get past the arm she was lying on, so she just rolled back after a few secoonds. But she did it! If I know Keila, she probably won't bother to do it again for a few weeks, but it won't be for lack of ability! Go Shatner go!

Return of the Tiger!

Posted on Wednesday, March 09, 2011 | 0 comments

     No, not the Bruce Lee movie.
Last year was the year of the tiger on the Chinese calendar, and we just happened to spot a tiger costume on clearance at the baby store a few weeks ago. Fuzzy, long-sleeved fleece, completely impractical for spring. Of course I snatched it up. I'm more than willing to pay 700 yen for a few good pictures!

                                                                  Cutest tiger award goes to...
                                       Inspecting her paws

                                                        Gao Gao Gao!!! (Roar roar roar)

Bullet Train Kit Kats

Posted on Tuesday, March 08, 2011 | 0 comments

                I found these at the station a while back: special bullet train Kit Kats! They're actually just the regular chocolate flavor riding in this cute little bullet train box,  accompanied by a sheet of stickers (pictured on the back of the box; see the last photo). A nice souvenir to take home for a child or train enthusiast...but at 840 yen a box, I just snapped a few pics at the station kiosk. 

                                    It's advertising the 'nozomi'; which as far as I know is currently the fastest train in Japan

                       Look!!! For about 500 yen extra, you can get a sheet of stickers!

4 Months!

Posted on Monday, March 07, 2011 | 0 comments

   Keila turned a third of a year old yesterday (the 6th). I still can't believe that it's been 4 months since she arrived! We didn't do anything big to celebrate the day, although Keila was apparently still so happy about it that she peed herself with excitement......and her daddy! Haha.

                                                          Wheeee! Pee!

Yet another cute baby pic

Hina Matsuri Dinner

Posted on Friday, March 04, 2011 | 0 comments

  Just a few photos of Keila's reaction to the chirashizushi we had at dinner last night...

                                          What IS that??

                             Still considering it...

                                                Thumbs up!

Hina Matsuri

Posted on Thursday, March 03, 2011 | 0 comments

   Today, March 3rd, is Hina Matsuri (literally: Doll Festival), or Girls' Day, here in Japan. There's a lot of tradition behind the day that I unfortunately don't have time to detail, but here's the Wikipedia Link. The history is pretty interesting, so I'd recommend looking at it if you have the time and don't know anything about Hina Matsuri.
  Basically though, for girls in the family, a set of special dolls (hina ningyo) are displayed from some time in February until this day. It is said that leaving the dolls out past March 4th will cause the daughter to end up marrying late.
  Keila doesn't have a full set of dolls, but she does have several of the Emperor and Empress ones that have been passed down (thanks, Otousan!). Maybe we'll work on getting her the complete collection over time.
  Besides displaying the dolls, people traditionally eat special crackers (hina-arare), rice cakes (hishimochi), and/or chirashizushi. Chirashizushi is sushi in which the ingredients have been placed or 'scattered' (literal translation) across the top of a bed of rice, instead of being rolled up in it. There's no specific recipe for chirashizushi, and it tends to vary by region.
  Although Keila obviously doesn't care about chirashizushi yet, I did buy some for our dinner anyway. And maybe we'll leave those dolls out a few extra days: we're not superstitious, but I'm also not ready to even think about her getting married yet, either!

                                            Emperor and empress dolls

Our own little doll



Posted on Tuesday, March 01, 2011 | 0 comments

 Warning--this is a Keila-only photo post. Nothing about Japan, sorry. Well, other than the fact that she's half Japanese, of course.
    Today was rather rainy, so no long walks around the neighborhood as usual. Instead, we had some extended play time in the Bumbo. Spoons are amazing things!