Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Some clarification

Congratulations to most of you for figuring out the Japanese--or at least putting two and two together to see that we are expecting another little Ito next summer.  The little accessory for my purse was given to me by the city where we live.  It says, "there is a baby in my tummy".  We get the little accessory when we get our booklet for pregnancy and child development.  In Japanese healthcare, Akihiro feels like this is a very good thing.  Each child has a book that is taken to the doctor from prenatal to school age health information--immunizations, height, weight, etc.  Anyway, back to the accessory--they are all pink, so to those of you who thought it meant we were having a'll have to wait a bit longer for that bit of news.  I'm not sure exactly what the purposes of the accessory are, but if you flash it to someone on the train, they will usually give you their seat--kinda handy!
     I am going to the same local OB clinic where Tomoki was born--Shibata Clinic.  The doc speaks English well, the staff is nice, it is close (7 minutes by bike?), and I know basically what to expect there.  That clinic doesn't do VBAC, so we will be scheduling a c-section.  I'll find out more about that on my Monday appointment, I guess.
     As far as how I am be honest, pretty crummy.  I have that first trimester fatigue, nagging nausea, excessive saliva, strange dreams, and not the greatest sleep.  Big burps are reasons for rejoicing!  I haven't been a very patient mama for my teething two year old, but I am hanging in there thanks to my good hubby's help and support.
   Next week we are off to Beijing for one night to see Li-san and his wife and daughter and then to Hong Kong for Akihiro's cousin's wedding reception.  I'm hoping and praying that our travels go well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A new accessory for my purse

We are very thankful to, Lord-willing, be able to wear this little accessory until early July 2012!  Thanks for your prayers and may you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A visit to Hiroshima, etc.

 Here is a view from the top of the ropeway station at Miyajima--we had a beautiful day--and good company, as you can see below.  Akito and Marie, Ed and Jenni Schwartz, and Mark and Bev Bahr and we went by bullet train to Hiroshima for one night.  It was a blessed time--I got a good share of American humor--miss that sometimes!

On other happenings, we attended a wedding of a friend of Akihiro's from middle school.  It was a chapel style wedding which is getting to be more popular here in Japan recently.  I was slightly shocked to see that the person marrying them was American.  He did some of the very short service in English and read some stilted Japanese for their vows.  Well, they got married, anyway.  The harp music was gorgeous, but it seemed quite interesting to be singing the "Christian Home" at a non Christian's wedding.  After the wedding there was quite a reception with lots of speakers.  The bride changed her clothes--a different ballroom style gown.  I guess this is normal--sometimes they might even change clothes twice!  Nevertheless, it didn't make me dissatisfied with my own simple wedding.

Tomoki continues to speak an interesting combination of Japanese and English.  This week he overheard Akihiro ask me (in Japanese) when I was going to cut his hair.  Tomoki said "hair cut" to me in English.  It is amazing to see his little brain process these languages.  (Speaking of hair cuts, I gave Tomoki one and somehow he looks a lot like my dear departed Dad!)  Of course, we think he is terrible smart! :)  He loves doing puzzles recently--his favorite being the power shovel one, which he has done so many times that now he can do it on his own.

I finally got my fall/winter garden planted...daikon, turnips, spinach, Chinese cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, and red radishes.  I hope it does ok as I am kinda late getting it planted.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cosmos, Tomoki's birthday

We had a holiday last Monday and so we went with Manuela and Akito and Marie to a local park--Showa Kinen Koen. The cosmos were gorgeous!

I hope to get birthday pictures from Uncle Tsuyoshi as I didn't have much time to take photos. The birthday party was a great success. All of the Ito family except Aunt Yaeko and Uncle Shiochi were here. I had had a cold for two days prior--meaning I was cleaning house with a kleenx stuffed in my nose (which Tomoki didn't like at all!). The Lord answered my prayer, though, and it was much better by Saturday. I was also worried about Tomoki getting it, and he didn't--not until Monday! Also in answer to prayer, he slept in really late that morning, so was ok to go down very late for his nap as the gathering was at noon and people didn't leave til 3. We had homemade mochi (compressed rice) made in Akihiro's birthday present from me--a mochi maker. It was our third try at it and thanks to Akihiro's research, we were able to keep it really soft and yummy for quite a while! Tomoki loves it dipped in soy sauce. (He's a real "dipper"--will eat almost anything if it has "dip" or "sauce".) We also made pizza and since Akihiro's dad had just caught a big fish (buri) at Hakodate, we had teriyaki fish steaks too--quite the combination--but it was good. Grandpa Ito was so impressed with how Tomoki could blow out his candles on his birthday cake, that he wanted to do it again! He loves the new dump truck and puzzles he got and went to sleep saying, "dump truck" that night.

He is speaking more and more. His little Japanese is so cute. Probably only people whose second language is Japanese can appreciate its cuteness. Japanese people have heard "baby Japanese" a lot before, but I haven't, so it is just priceless when he says, "kore nani?" to ask, "what is this". It is equally cute, though, when he says, "this guy?" I've got to get some more videos of him. We have quite the "conversations" now.

Otherwise, we are enjoying nice fall days. My Japanese mom next door has a tree with Chinese dates on them, and I tried to dry some in my oven, but I pretty much burnt them the first time. My second and third batch turned out good though. They are really tasty fresh--Tomoki gobbles them down. They taste a bit like apples.

We have been enjoying going to the library as they have a decent English section. "Read book please, mama" is a frequently heard saying at our house. I think he has discovered that if he uses "please," it is so cute and polite, that mama has a hard time turning down his request!

Tomoki talking about his birthday party ("Ni sai" means "2 years old" in Japanese)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's fall!

Tomoki has some nice new bright pjs--thanks to Costco!

Reaching for the moon!

Here's some of my garden produce...Green shiso leaves (in back), Japanese eggplant, yellow and green bell pepper, shishito green and red peppers, mini tomatoes, myoga (Japanese ginger --pink and green).  Things are starting to slow down in my garden.  Tomoki especially will miss the mini tomatoes.

Feeding ducks at the river--not very exciting, but I think he's pretty cute in his little hat and jacket--kinda biased, I know!

Tomoki sees the moon and says "go, go!" He loves the moon!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Fellowship meeting, a little trip to the mountains, etc.

We were planning to take a two night trip to the mountains with Koshin, a boy from Shioda Sunday school, but we got to take two other munchkins along--Elizabeth and Charity! We left after church and drove about 1.5 hours to stay at a family camp-like place. The cabin reminded me of many a cabin we stayed at when I was vacationing as a child with my family. It was very clean, though, and only a few bugs--no mice! Here's the back seat on the way home--sorry these are out of order!We picked the best day for weather in the mountains for our hiking day, but it was still cloudy. We took a 30 minute bus ride up a very curvy mountain road (only traveled by these special buses or taxis) and then we took a ropeway up to this area where the below picture was taken.
This picture doesn't do it justice, but the alpine wildflowers were beautiful--again, reminded me of Colorado. I went crazy with my camera, but will only post a few.

The children all said that our short little hike was their favorite part of the vacation. Here's Tomoki hamming it up in his backpack.

Our cabin had a loft where the children slept and we were in the living room. It went better than I thought it might all being in basically one room.
The first day we were there, the children caught three kabutomushi--not sure what they are in English, but they are quite the bug! We now have them in a box by the side of our house and are feeding them bug jelly. Akihiro is hoping to do the whole process where they lay eggs and have babies. I'm glad to leave this hobby to him (and Tomoki)!
We fixed two meals outside on our little bucket charcoal grill--Japanese style. Note to self: bring a table when serving children like this! We did fireworks after supper one night.
I don't know why, but Tomoki likes to lay down like this in interesting places. In the background you can see the barn where they had goats--not a frequently spotted thing in Japan! They were cute!

Feeding the fish!
This is the same grill, but it was actually a few weeks before our trip. We gave it a trial run. Here is mochi--compressed rice cakes which are dipped in soy sauce and wrapped in toasted seaweed--and enjoyed (yes, I have grown to like them too). Akihiro was so happy to be able to do "real" Japanese barbecue in our backyard for the first time.
Tomoki helped, using his little fan to get the fire going.
We enjoyed our fall fellowship meeting--I like this picture of a few people eating their obento (lunch box) before it started. From the left: Suzuki-san (a new man), Akito, Marie, Onoda, Hiroko.
Tomoki grabbed my bandana that I wear when I ride my bike (keeps my hair from going crazy) and put it on. Here he is trying to do "peace" for the camera. What a cutie! As you'll see in the below 3 new videos, he is really "talking" a lot these days--mainly just the first syllable of most things, but is usually able to get his point across--at least to me!
Akihiro took me out to Ukai Chikutei, a very nice kaiseki ryori restaurant for my birthday. It was very very good--even though we had to share our food with the littlest Ito (we are learning to appreciate the kids menus!) He was good though, and we enjoyed it very much. Hard to believe I'm already (gulp) 35! Oh well, one year closer to heaven. On my birthday I found myself thinking back on past birthdays and missed my dear mom and pops. Indeed heaven is closer with them there.

Here's a picture of my garden. The cucumbers along the back fence are pretty much done, but the mini tomatoes, okra, Japanese eggplant, shishito peppers, shiso (a Japanese herb), and green peppers are flourishing. I planted some zucchini from seed, and have tons of leaves and flowers, but no zucchini--such a bummer! I guess I don't have enough bees or something. I guess it is a good thing I ate so much zucchini growing up! I can buy it here, but it is puny and expensive. I have enjoyed my garden very much this year, despite weeding and watering. Just planted some broccoli, cabbage, and beans for fall--we'll see how that does.

Loving his slinky toy

He knows his name--well, sorta...

Tomoki in his glory driving the front loader

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tomoki driving the zoo bus

Tomoki loved the elephant at the zoo

A trip to Tama Zoo

Akihiro went hiking for two days, so my friend and I took our children to the Tama Zoo--about 25 minutes by train from our house. We had a great time. It was Tomoki's first visit to the zoo, and since he already loves "zo" (elephant in Japanese), I knew he would think it was pretty great. He loved the monkeys ("mo"). When we came home he kept "talking" about how the monkey went bammm on the window. We went by taxi and then by train, so that in itself was fun for him. It is a big zoo, and we didn't stay too long because of naps, so I look forward to going back again to see other parts.

Tomoki found Grandpa Kimura's airplane pictures in the attic and has been enthralled with them. When he wakes up from his naps he wants to go see the "boom boom" (airplanes). One of them has a picture of Mt. Fuji on it. He says "fu--zi".

Sunday we came home after church so Akihiro could prepare for his mountain trip and since it was our anniversary we went out to eat. We rode our bikes to a new Indian curry place. The food was good and reasonable, but the music video was annoying. Tomoki had only had a 30 minute car nap, so he was kinda hyper anyway, but then he started "rapping" with the video and not touching his food. Since we were the only ones in the place I asked them if they would turn it off--thankfully they did and we finished our meal in relative peace. Not the most romantic anniversary meal, but oh well. I guess we had our share of those in previous years.

Tomoki has started calling himself "Tom" with a long "o"--like "Tome". He is quite proud of himself--it is rather cute, I must say.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A great trip to America!

Thanks for all who made our trip to America an enjoyable experience--those who prayed for us, cooked for us, talked with us, spent time with us, played with us, loaned us cars, toys, etc., and much, much more! The flight over went very well with Tomoki sleeping about 5 hours into the flight as was his normal bedtime--hallelujah! The flight time on the way back was all daytime, so that was a bit of a challenge, but we survived! We definitely learned some things about jet lag and children--it is unpredictable! The first three nights we had midnight parties for about 3 hours, but after that things went a bit better--thankfully! We spent the first two nights at my aunt's home in Elgin--they picked us up at the airport and treated us royally! Thanks again, Gassers! At first Tomoki was very friendly with his cousins and those he met, but as we met new people each day, he became more and more reserved and clung to mama. Next time, we need to not try to see so many people, I guess. As always, it was good to go, but it was good to come home too. I guess I am too much of a routine person, but also, there is that peace of being where you know God wants you to be. We are thankful to come back refreshed in soul and spirit.

I should have taken more pictures, but here's a few of those I did take....not in order...
Tomoki was overwhelmed by all the fun things at the Schick's--baby kittens, a "ta-to" (tractor), a skidsteer, lots of implement toys, etc.
Had a picnic with the Fritz family in Martha's backyard.
On Father's Day, my dear family had organized a Chuck and Miriam Sauder Kayak Reunion out at John and Misty's place. They arranged for canoes/kayaks for the whole clan and we floated down their creek. Though I am nervous on the water, it was fun and I am glad we did it. Here is the whole gang in the shirts they had made for us! We had a boat themed supper, decorations, a rubber ducky release with prizes that reminded us of our folks. Thanks for making it special!
Tomoki cautiously enjoyed his experience!

Tomoki loved all the tractors--even push lawnmowers were fun for him. Logan came and mowed our yard and Tomoki thought it was great. He was scared, though, of the garage door. I didn't realize how different our life in Japan is until I came to America--rarely a garage or a lawnmower--let alone a tractor!

We visited Mom and Dad's grave on a beautiful Friday evening. It was so peaceful and Tomoki loved the horses in the field next to the cemetery. It passed one year since Dad's death and I just finished listening to his funeral again today. So thankful that he ate "broccoli and carrots" and we could enjoy as many days with him as we could. I didn't know what it would be like to go home this time without both Mom and Dad, but somehow as we walked into our little house on Harris Street (we rent it out to two bachelors while we are in Japan and kick them out when we come home :) ) it felt like coming home--seeing all the repairs that Mom and Dad had done with us on that home. It was an unexpected blessing! Everywhere there are little hints of their presence and their love--and that warms my heart.

We spent a few afternoons out at Jim and Rachel's pool. Here he is with Luke--cute!

We enjoyed the Tremont Turkey Festival which happened to be the first weekend we were home. Papa took Tomoki on the merry go round, but that was kinda torturous--every time around he would cry, "Mama!" He survived, though, and thoroughly enjoyed the train and the big slide.

We enjoyed running through the sprinkler at the Gassers!
There were many highlights for me, but I think the best was being able to sit in church on Wednesday night and hear God's Word and sing hymns of praise in English. About a month before we came, I just had this longing to go to Tremont's Wednesday night church and soak in the peaceful feeling of worshiping with so many fellow believers and loved ones. Bless Akihiro for keeping Tomoki so I could experience this. I know that God can be worshiped anywhere--and perhaps most importantly in our hearts and our quiet time with Him each day--but there is something that words can't quite describe about a quiet evening worship service.