"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." -----Martin Luther King, Jr.
"An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet,regardless of time, place, or circumstance.The thread may stretch or tangle,but it will never break."
- ancient Chinese belief

Friday, May 31, 2013

A good day- ninja style!

After we got back to Tsu, we went to Mitsumi's restaurant, Gorodaiyu.  It ate there at least once a week while I lived here, getting soba and tekka maki almost every single time.  

The restaurant is closed on Thursdays so we had it all o ourselves.  And even though I'd spent a lot of time there, I'd never been in the kitchen!  

We had free reign and michael made himself right at home, playing with cash register and teaching Ruji some magic tricks. I helped a little while Mitsumi made a huge meal: Brazilian pizza from Ruji's friends restaurant, sushi, soba, and tons of spare ribs in a yummy marinade!  We were stuffed. 

One thing Michael finds different, interesting and most enjoyable is that Japanese meals usually do not center around a big main course. There are typically LOTS of things to eat, lots of little plates and dishes.  Also, they may serve raw veggies or a salad or sweets that we think of as a dessert, with breakfast. 

At dinner, both of Mitsumi's daughters, Mika and Yuka, joined us. They were young girls, maybe 6 and 8 when I lived here.  They are young women now! They joined David and I for dinner 4 years ago and did again this time. I am honored that they would take the time to see me again!  They are both so sweet and funny!

After dinner, even though we were dead tired, we. Went to a huge mall to get in some shopping. Ruji and Michael wen to a huge arcade while mitsumi and I shopped. Then the boys hit the guitar store where michael picked out several guitar picks.  We got back to Setsuko's house around 11 where we dropped into our futons and fell asleep immediately!  (Until 5 am at least!)

This is michael blogging now so hopefully it will be better. 

I woke up to my mom yelling,"MICHAEL GET UP ITS SO LATE OMG," (and of course it was 8:30 in the morning) "We are going to walk the kids to school. I took a shower in record time for me and we went to Mai's school and we went and looked around the very interesting school. We noticed we were attracting a constantly growing crowd of little Japanese kids. We were almost leaving when a little kid came up to me with a pen and paper and said,"sign please!" In a short time there were something around 35 kids surrounding me and my mom going "SIGN PLEASE!" This was a very interesting experience and when it was over I said why doesn't this happen to me in America? Oh well.

Later we were picked up at 11 by Sachiko and her husband. First we visited Iga Ueno Castle. That was very cool. We went to lunch at a very small restaurant with only two tables. I ordered soba that came with a delicious rice bowl but it had seaweed on top and if your in my family you know how much I hate seaweed. Later we went to a float museum where I was the guinea pig to the parents. They dressed me up like a ninja. 

This was a different experience. We visited the ninja house which was the highlight of my day. Lets just say it was so awesome that I have decided to pursue the occupation of a ninja. We then drove to both locations of Hirata juku, where Ashley rejoiced with many of her friends and her old boss, Hirata. We had a great dinner at Setsuko's house and after I played for an extensive time with Akemi's three daughters. I've never got a better work out in my life. I was sweating and ready for bed after. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Michael and Ruji coming
Out of pachinko parlor. 
A plethora of bikes. 

Busy city street
Michael loving his Nikumon. 
Mitsumi and ash enjoying candied sweet potato fries. 

The hugest "mega fry" size EVER!
The hugest box of Pocky EVER!  Good times!


After Kyoto yesterday, we drove to Osaka where we spent the night in the Swisshotel.  Am still laughing at Michael's  first comment/question, "this hotel is awesome, is it American?"!  Funny boy!

We freshened up before hitting the streets of the Namba area of Osaka (think manhattan).  There is so much to take in: Lights, sights, great people watching, a gazillion restaurants and shops.  Ruji helped michael at Packinko! In my year in Japan, I maverick set foot in a pachinko parlor. And now I know why!  Oh my goodness... The noise is deafening. Literally, could not yell at someone and have them hear you!  The smoke is so thick, my eyes were burning after about 30 seconds.  And, of course, he did not win!  :) But, Pachinko is HUGE in Japan and now he can say he played it, and that is totally worth it!  ;)

It has been a tad challenging finding restaurants that are totally safe for michael to eat with his severe shellfish allergy.  Mitsumi chose a BBQ restaurant where we grilled meat and veggies on a small grill in the middle of our table. It was yummy and fun.  

Michael crashed as soon as we got back to hotel around 11. I was happy the Swisshotel had a "pillow menu" and I ordered up a few "fluffy" pillows and a "Marshmallow" one for michael (memory foam). I have found sleeping in the buckwheat pillows a bit heinous!  :)

It was a good nights sleep and I slept till 7!  Which really beats the 4 and 5 am waking times if the two previous days!

McDonald's for breakfast, street food for lunch, LOTS of shopping and heading back to Tsu now...

She is fine!

I was SO worried about Junie. Today had a chance to talk with Ty for a while. It was close to bedtime (for them) so was hesitant to talk with Junie in case she got weepy but couldn't hang up without talking to her. 

When she got on the phone she didn't even say "hi". In a big, loud, happy voice she just said, "can you bring me chocolate AND gum, mommy??!!"   So, I guess I need not worry!  :)

Kyoto, baby!

A GREAT day with my dear friend, Mitsumi (she was in my wedding!) and her cutie-patootie boyfriend, Ruji.  

Went to the amazing Kiyomizu  Temple and then walked all around the old streets of Kyoto.  And I mean old. I bought a LOT of mochi from a candy shop that has been in business since 1689!!!!  

Michael is a trooper. Is loving the sights, the people and the plethora of street food and vending machines.  I am loving seeing my friends again and hanging with my eldest!  Good times!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Do they?

DO 14 year old boys who think they are invincible get jet lag??

Yes, they do!

Good nights sleep

On a futon.  In a temple.  Just like
always.  Ha! Ha!

Japan, baby!

After a loooong trip, we are here. 

My friend was stuck in horrible traffic jam when we landed.  We had to take a "high speed boat" to Tsu city. And then a 40 minute car ride to her house. After 18 hour flight and 1 1/2 hours waiting at airport for her and boat.  Long day!

This morning we walked my friend's daughter,Kaho, to kindergarten. The school is so nice and the classroom SO well-equipped with wonderful things including a piano (and each child has their own mini keyboard), huge wooden blocks, lots of different centers, etc. 

The best part though was when the teacher asked if michael and I are brother/sister!!  :). LOVE IT!  Apparently, I look younger in Japan!  

Then got picked up by friends Hidemi and Sachiko who took us to Nara. We saw Nara Park, fed the deer and visited Todaiji temple and Horyuji temple.Todaiji    temple is my favorite and also the largest wooden structure in the world and home to the "Big Buddha".   Tonight we sleep at my friend's house-the temple- and are on out way there now.   Michael asleep next to me in car. He Is tired but so excited about the gigantic sword he bought today!  Lol!  Hope he can check it at airport because I am sure he can't carry-on a sword!  

Can only get the photos from my phone onto blog now so here goes...

At airport, Mt Fuji from the airplane (we almost missed it as they didn't announce it!), michael diggin' the cool stuff on the airplane, and getting coffee this morning (6:30), just a short walk from Setsuko's house.  

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ASIA Bound!

And so excited!


Unfortunately, not to China for a sister for Junie!

Fortunately, to Japan for a vacation with ONLY my oldest son, Michael! 

After Spring Break with our visitors (my friend and her 12 year old daughter) from Japan, we decided Michael should get a little international travel in for a Middle School graduation celebration!

We have LOTS of plans with LOTS of my friends there. 

On the itinerary so far:

Mt. Fuji
Ninja Museum

And shopping.

And lots of Japanese food!

We will be staying in my friend's very traditional Japanese-style house.  Sleeping on futons (the type on the floor, not an American couch-like thing).  One night, we will stay with another friend.  Her husband is a Buddhist priest.  In her email she said, "You can stay at my house for one night.  My house is small temple".  Not something most people get to do on the typical trip to Japan! 

Still have tons to do and pack and in less than 24 hours, we will be heading to the airport. 

Praying my sweet children staying home will be OK without Mommy for 10 1/2 days.  gulp!

Praying for sweet husband, too as he juggles kids, practices, tournaments, swim meets, and all the fun stuff summer brings!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Here we go again!

(This post was started the day of her surgery, May 7th, but so crazy these days, just now got around to finishing it up!)

To CHOA, that is.

Her CT scan revealed that the cholesteatoma on her ear was not deep, not in the bone. So on Tuesday, Junie and I headed down in the darkness of 5:30 am! (I had to put on my big girl panties and go sans hubby this time as his new business partner was in town and they scheduled this surgery last minute). Lucky for me (if you chose to see the silver lining), Junie is a non-sleeper, so when I went into her room at 5:05, she popped right up (she was awake!) and cheerily said, "I'm ready for my appointment!!! Let's go to the hostible!!" Even the man at reception remarked at how "wide awake" she was! :)

When they took us back, she was by far the most anxious of any surgery so far. And then she got the versed and all was ok. And then the 2nd surgeon was an hour late (really? If I can be there by 6 am with a four year old, can't he get there by 7:30???). And then I needed some versed! And then the doc breezed in, mumbled an apology, and they took her back.

Within 15 minutes, doctor #1 came in to tell me he felt confident they had gotten all of the cholesteatoma. However, it's insidious and if even a few cells remain, it can grow back so we will still be making regular stops at the ENT.

They didn't bring Junie back to her room for about another 45 minutes- way to long because unlike other times post-op, she was very coherent and very very upset. :(. So was her mommy! It took quite a while for her to settle down and this time she didn't want to stay, she said over and over, "I want to go home!"

But, they don't drag their feet releasing the kids there. When the kids are cleared, they send us on our way. So, with Junie snuggled up in the wagon, we headed down to the newly discovered (and most appreciated!) valet to retrieve the car. After getting in the car, Junie was back to her regular self and asking for ice cream. "Dairy Town's" (Junie speak for Dairy Queen) ice cream machine was broken, so we settled for McDon@ld's.

We got home by 10:30 and snuggled for a while on the couch. Then, Junie was up and playing with toys while I took a short nap. She was wide awake, totally fine by then and even tried to get out of napping that afternoon!

So, cholesteatoma removed by suction in one ear, tube in the other, Home and fine by 10:30 am. Resilient, indeed!

Anxiously waiting.

Post-versed.  Not so anxious anymore!

If looks could kill...Junie's "get me outta here" look!

Junie's "the drugs have not completely worn off" look.

Ice cream in hand and all is well again!