Thursday, June 30, 2011

June in Pictures

After the excitement (and tremendous helpfulness) of my mom's visit during May, June had fewer outings and more stress, especially related to Philip's work and our future plans.  The month flew by, but the main things I will remember are watching my little guy get bigger, more adorable, and more mobile.  I can't believe he is eight months old.  I love him so much my heart could burst!

He tried lots of new foods this month, including sauteed spinach, shredded apple, and mashed potatoes to name a few:

He played with his best buddies, S and E at our small group BBQ (sorry the photo is out of focus - I still think it's cute!)

Three adorable babies and one handsome man!

He lets us chew a bit more when we go to restaurants now that he is eating some solids:

Yes, he is strapped in with his Ergo carrier.  We have to be creative because highchairs here rarely have straps.  

He even let Mommy slip away to the salon to get a long overdue haircut.  That was an adventure including pictures, lots of hand gestures, and drawings.  In the end, I think my stylist, Kumiko, did a great job giving me a new look.  

No more ponytail for this mommy!  I even blowdry it most days!

 He went from reaching, to lunging, to almost crawling...

This week's favorite pastime is "helping" Mommy with laundry:

Now, if he could just learn how to put the insert in the diaper... :c)

He usually looks like this:

But every now and then, he looks like this:

Fuss Face!

That's June, folks!  Less than a month until we return home for a visit.  We are so excited!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Morning Scene: Raspberries with Daddy

Linking up with Katie for Saturday Morning Scene!

We had a crazy, exhausting week with Philip working extra late and Matthias teething (I can see 8 teeth just below the surface and Matthias decided that my collarbone is his favorite teether), and we needed a relaxing day at home. Time to drink coffee and eat oatmeal pancakes, time to talk and listen to music, time to blow raspberries and watch our little guy laugh.  The simple, wonderful things of our life right now.

I love these guys!

Friday, June 24, 2011

May Highlights

I realize that I didn't post for the entire month of May and I'm not doing so well with June so far... let's try and resuscitate this blog!  Philip had four days off for the Golden Week holidays in Japan, and decided to take two vacation days, giving him 10 days off in a row from April 29th to May 8th.  Bliss!  We rested as much as possible the first few days and did little outings.  Then my Mom came halfway through the first week of May and we started being a bit more adventurous.  Mom was in town for the majority of the month, and I decided to focus on spending time with her rather than hanging out on the interwebs in my free time.  We got out of the apartment and around Tokyo as much as possible, which was infinitely easier with her help.  I considered doing several posts to chronicle the month, but I decided that I'd just get more behind on blogging the here and now.  So here is a photo recap of May:

Just an old VW Bus?  Nope.
An adorable coffee shop on wheels.  Awesome cafe lattes!

My favorite boys at our favorite Mexican place in Tokyo.  Killer fish tacos!

Mom, Matthias, and I at Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine in a beautiful park-like setting.

Yoyogi Park, one of Tokyo's largest parks.
Extreme hacky sack in the park.  Check out the muscle definition!

One of the many arts/hobbies being practiced at the park.

My loves!

Park bench diaper change.  No changing tables that we could find!

Strolling in Shibuya.

Waterfront at Odaiba, a manmade island on Tokyo Bay.

Waterfront shot with the ferris wheel.

Matthias started with solids on Mother's Day.

Avocado slices were a big hit!

Matthias loved learning to drink water from his straw cup.
He got more confident with sitting up each day!

Baby at work!

Engakuji temple in Kamakura, a quaint seaside town.

My pretty Mom and I.

Incredible carvings on the temple doors.

"Ringing" the temple bell.

M's first ocean experience.

My guys in their natural habitat.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning Scene: Glitzy Ginza

I'm linking up with Katie at Loves of Life for this week's Saturday Morning Scene. 

Technically, this post will feature our Saturday afternoon, but since afternoon Tokyo time is actually early morning in the US, I think I can cheat just this once!

We were invited to an art exhibit featuring landscapes by Yoshio, our new friend Yuko's uncle.

Some members of our small group decided to meet for lunch and then go to the gallery to show our support.  Philip and I have been sick this week, but we felt we had recovered enough this morning to venture out.  We took the subway to Ginza, one of the most luxurious shopping and entertainment areas in Tokyo.  Many upscale western brands, such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel, as well as more accessible ones, like H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Gap, are concentrated there.   Ginza is also known for its emphasis on the arts.

Our group got a private room at a Japanese restaurant known for their oyakodon, or chicken, egg, and rice bowl.  I ate my oyakodon VERY quickly and did not get photos at the restaurant, because Matthias loudly refused to sit on our laps, so Philip and I took turns eating, while the other walked circles around the restaurant.  As my parents always say, the boy needs to move it, move it.  Philip's quote of the day was "you know, I used to chew before I was a parent."  Sad, but true.  (And we wouldn't trade it for the world!)

After lunch, we walked to the gallery, and admired Yoshio's gorgeous European and Japanese landscapes rendered in watercolors, charcoal, oils, and mixed media.  We also met Yoshio and his wife, who doted on Matthias. The exhibit was small, perfect for the attention span of a six-month-old.  We didn't take pictures of the art, because we were concerned it would be impolite, but we did get a shot of Matthias and his buddy S, the same sweetie that accompanied us on last week's infamous mommy date.

Non-chewing aside, it was a great afternoon!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Earthquake Experience: Part 3

To read the first two parts of the story click here: Part 1 Part 2

We slept restlessly the night after the earthquake, waking up with several aftershocks.  Some shook us awake, and some made us feel as if we were rocking gently on a boat.  The next day, we watched the news coverage on TV and were astounded at the the extent of the damage in the Northeast and the mounting death toll.  We prayed that many would be rescued from the rubble.  We heard about the first explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and wondered what impact it would have on the people and facilities there, as well as our life in Tokyo.  We watched correspondents in Tokyo give their reports right through the same aftershocks we were feeling, which was a very surreal experience.  The Japanese news had more extensive footage and a more intimate view of the events, but we could not understand the commentary, so we switched back and forth between English and Japanese stations.  Despite the number of English speaking expatriates in Tokyo, there was very little local news or information available in English, which made us feel isolated and unsure of whether we were missing out on vital instructions. We have lived in proximity to several major hurricanes in the the US, and we recognize now how much we relied on the news in those situations.

We decided to tear ourselves away from the TV and computer and get something done, so we worked on organizing and decorating our apartment.  Because of Matthias's difficult sleeping patterns and Philip's long work days, we had made slow progress with putting away all our belongings that arrived from the states a few weeks before.  When I had the chance to reflect on it, I realized how ironic our weekend projects seemed.  We had just gone through a very stressful experience, and watched others going through an infinitely more stressful and devastating one, yet instead of talking about wanting to leave Japan, we were hanging our pictures and putting our baby's blankets and toys away.  Somehow God has given us peace about what we experienced and we began to feel a sense of purpose that had been lacking until that weekend. We (especially I) struggled with a good deal of anxiety the day (and many days) after the earthquake, but we kept feeling reassured that God had a plan for us in Tokyo.

We wondered how long it would take to get the trains back online, whether Philip would return to work on Monday, and whether food and other important resources would become scarce.  We heard news reports about empty shelves in grocery stores.  Later in the evening, Philip went to the store to check things out. He reported that although there were many empty shelves and some basic foods, such as milk, rice, and bread were gone, he was not concerned about a food shortage at the time.

After sleeping somewhat better Saturday night, we woke up Sunday to more bad news from Fukushima, questions of how far radiation might spread in a worse-case scenario, and concerns regarding the power supply to our region.  Again, we tried to stay busy and pray for those still missing and injured, and those working in the nuclear facility and living close to the danger zone.  Because I hadn't left the house on Saturday, I had the impression that the streets would be empty. In the afternoon, we took a walk before church, and I found it reassuring to see that people were out and about, and that grocery shelves were filling back up.  We took a few photos of the normal looking streets and the always amusing advertising:

People were shopping, eating out, and just strolling.

Pancakes shaped like...people.  But "made of happy."

Many stores in Tokyo have love and peace themes.

We went to church, and found the service to be so full of hope and true joy even in the wake of such a disaster that we were greatly encouraged to be a part of Tokyo Baptist Church.  At the end of the service, our Pastor announced that Tepco, our electricity provider, had reported that rolling blackouts would be necessary to conserve power because of the damage to the nuclear reactors.  The schedule and extent of the blackouts was to be determined, and so again we felt unsure of what to expect.  Philip did receive word that he was to return to work on Monday and that the trains were running at a reduced schedule, but that the blackouts may affect the office and/or the trains.  We went to bed with limited information, unsure of how much our comforting routines would be impacted.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Matthias's First Easter

We had a really nice Easter Sunday.  After a very late night, Matthias surprised us and took a great morning nap, allowing us to enjoy a quiet breakfast on the balcony.  (In case you were wondering, this breakfast included donuts - chocolate ones!)  After he woke up, we started getting ready for church.  I realized that the cute Ralph Lauren polo onesie I snagged at the outlets for his first Easter was already too small.  The little munchkin is so chubby!  Since it was a warm day, I opted to dress him in his navy blue romper and the adorable newsboy cap I bought him the day we found out he was a boy.  We headed to church, where a wonderful Easter cantata had been prepared.  The choir sparkled in sequined robes, the teens danced in brightly-colored costumes, and actors in first century garb portrayed Jesus' disciples.  Our pastor Dennis Folds, delivered the sermon as Thomas, known as the doubtful disciple.  The service was joyful, energetic, and uplifting.  It was a bit over the top, just as celebrating the resurrection of Jesus should be!  I really wish I had gotten a few photos, but we left the camera in the stroller, which had to be stowed away because the auditorium was packed.  I did get a shot of the front of the church:

After the service, we stopped at a park near the church to take pictures.  We were excited to see that a few cherry blossom trees still had their beautiful blooms!  The wind blew my hair and dress all over the place and we forgot our tripod, but we still got some great shots:

And some outtakes:

Matthias decided to put a death grip on Mommy's necklace!

Forget these pictures, I just want to eat my blanket!

See! It's yummy!
Mom, who is that guy?

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!