Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home Life--Japan style

This blog post is alternately titled, "Life without Central Heating", since that seems to determine how life at home is lived in Japan. Life in Japan is a life of opposites--the toilets have remote controls and more buttons than a microwave, but most homes do not have central heating or insulation. In other words, your bottom is going to be warm and toasty but beware when you leave the bathroom! I used to teach in the home of a doctor who had 3 brand-new BMWs but would lug his kerosene heater from room to room, depending on where his girls were doing their homework.
      We have adjusted to life without central heating pretty well. I credit this all to my Dad, who doesn't believe in central heating anyways. Growing up, I can only remember a few times when the heat was turned on--was it on Christmas? So, I learned to enjoy flannel, layering, and sleeping bags. Here's how we do it in Japan:


Cash and Coco after bathtime under the kotatsu. Yes, Coco has fake tattoos and is throwing her signs.

Or as I like to call them "dry hot tubs". Basically the best invention ever--a table with a heater underneath that you cover with a blanket to keep the heat in. Most people have either a kotatsu or a hot-carpet, a rug with a heater underneath that you can sit on.  The Ellises are on the kotatsu team all the way!

Family Bath Time: I think this relates to central heating, because we all want to limit the exposure of wet skin to a non-heated, paper-walled home in the winter. We've adopted the Japanese way of bathing: scrubbing up in the shower and then soaking your scrubbed-clean body in the deep, deep tub full of super-hot water, which is shared by the family. Yep, we all pile in the shower together as a family (our shower is in the school, and it's kind of creepy down there at night!) but Fox and I don't usually bathe with the kids, since we're too big.  We would if we all fit, though.  Sorry, no pictures!

Family Bedroom: Someone once told us that being in Japan is good for your family, since you have to learn to stay in one room at a time, winter or summer.  Very true!  The first time we lived here, Fox and I were crazy sleep-training-obsessed parents and let baby Cash have the bedroom with the heater in it while we slept on unpadded futons in the next room, in front of a bright halogen lamp. For 3 months. Wow.  This time, we all get much better sleep and stay way warmer in the same room.  The kids are on the floor on futons with extra blankets.  We're in our bed. Everyone gets much more sleep and stays warm.  Sounds crazy even to me, but it totally works.

Layering: Japan is the land of layering!  They are all about wool socks on top of leggings on top of "warm-heat underclothes".  All the kids put on their fleece-lined "inside shoes" in the colder months. Japanese layering clothes are big business, and everyone layers!

So that's a slice of home life in Japan--a lot of closeness!

P.S. If you've read this far, here is my 7 month pregnancy pic.  7 more weeks!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Some stuff

I wrote a little (okay, a lot) about being LDS in Japan here for my friend Heather's awesome blog Women in the Scriptures.

Fox is taking his Japanese driver's test tomorrow (our Wednesday).  The test is notoriously hard, and he failed the first time he took it a few weeks ago.  Please pray for him!  I take mine in a few weeks--yikes!

Our branch had a Thanksgiving potluck on Sunday. There was turkey and cranberry sauce! I made Larissa's chocolate truffle pie (amaaazing) and pumpkin cheesecake bars from a very rare find of canned pumpkin in the import store! The lunch was awesome.

And I did take Halloween pictures but not many. Here is one from our school's Halloween party (Fox and I were working the cameras). The man on the right is our boss and our friend Janelle on the left is the other teacher.  The other ladies are the sweet school nurses.  Hiroko, the one in the back, also teaches Cash's hiragana class and can often be found jump roping across the playground, even though she is almost 60. She is awesome.

So there is some recent stuff. My mind is all over the place lately, but I'll try to put up more recent pictures soon!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Cosette!

Today is Cosette's 3rd Birthday!!! Happy Birthday, Coco!

On her "birth" birthday:

Age 1:

Age 2:

And now 3 years old!
Cosette, we love you! You are so much fun and bring so much joy to our family!
At 3 years old, you:
--asked for a live elephant for your birthday and also a toy dinosaur.
--love the songs "This is Halloween" and "Superbass"(the clean version!) and sing random pieces from them constantly
--love being around people, playing jokes on them, and messing with them in some way, especially touching hair and faces. Hmmm...
--love to run super fast and yell super loud
--love the movie "Tangled" and anything scary. You constantly reassure us by saying, "I'm not afraid of scary fings"
--can still hold your bladder for like 13 hours overnight, longer than anyone in this family! --constantly compliment people --sleep surrounded by your stuffed animal.
--have favorites that change everyday. Some days you love rice, other than days you hate it. Some days you love your toys, other days you only love Cash's toys. You always have a favorite "cuddly" of the day. This keeps us on our toes!
--love boys, specifically Riku, Sento, Dime, and Holden. I actually don't think I've ever seen you play nicely with any girls.
--love to tell stories. "Remember that one time I saw a snake and then it ate my foot and then I brushed my teeth? The end."

We love you, Coco girl! I think this is the year that you might actually grow hair on the top of your head!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Day in Kobe

We have lived here for almost a year, and I still hadn't gotten off the island (Shikoku). I was definitely having island fever, so on our last day off, we woke up early, drove 5 minutes to the port, and hopped on the 4-hour Jumbo Ferry to Kobe, city famous for its beef. Apparently, massages every day and a diet including beer makes for really tasty cows :) I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of the huge 4-story ferry that includes an arcade, ice cream shop, huge tatami room for sleeping, ladies' room (to keep creepy men away), and a TV room with massage chairs (that was playing the Panthers football game, to Fox's extreme joy!).

Here are the kids on the ferry:

Once we got to Kobe, the Kobe Oji Zoo is just 2 train stops away--and kids are free!  Cosette had never been to a big zoo--and it was about time!

These pics are a bit out of order--sorry! Here is Cosette eating curry (Fox was sneaking a picture of her--if she knows her picture is being taken, she does a crazy face).  Both of our kids can eat their weight in Japanese curry, so it is always a safe bet for lunch!

Cash in the petting area, loving on a huge rabbit:

The main attraction at this zoo is the giant panda. China has been loaning some pandas to Japan in an effort to build friendship between the two countries.

In the koala house:

Cosette loving on a guinea pig:

Fox and the kiddos in Amusement Land:

After the zoo, we walked around in the huge outdoor mall, where I found a water bottle that I had been searching for forever. looks like it is $6.50 in the U.S., and I paid almost $18 here, which was a screaming deal.  Whaaa...oh well, it is helping me get my required 80 ounces of water a day!

We hopped back on the ferry at 8 pm and got back at midnight.  The funny part is that the lights stay on in the ferry's "sleeping room" the entire time, but everyone still managed to sleep (except me--pregnant women on flat tatami floors just doesn't work).
But--it was so good to get off our tiny island for a day, and the kids had so much fun!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We finally went to the movies in Japan!

Last night, we finally saw a movie in Japan! We watched this:

while drinking these:

How was this magnificent feat possible?!
1.) We live 7 minutes away from a movie theater now, instead of 1 1/2 hours!
2.) We live 7 minutes away from a babysitter now, instead of 1 1/2 hours--thanks, Heather!
3.) Yesterday was November 1st, which means 1st-day-of-the-month movie prices: 1000 yen instead of 1800 yen per ticket! Wednesdays here are Ladies' Days, which means all ladies pay only 1000 yen!
4.) There were some movies playing in English with Japanese subtitles! Movies here are on a different release date, so our options were Cowboys vs. Aliens or Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  I love James Franco (he is awesome--check this article out), so the choice was easy :)

We liked the movie and had such a great time, partly due to the younger guy sitting next to us.  He was smiling and on the edge of his seat the whole time, whispering "Sugoi!" (cool!) excitedly. It was funny.  A random thing is that every single person stayed in the theater until the end of the credits, which were all in English.  I wonder if this is another sign-of-respect part of the culture here?

Tomorrow is a national holiday and we just *might* get off this tiny island and take the ferry to Kobe. If we do, this will be a super exciting week for us!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Third in Third

I am now in the third trimester with our third baby, so I figured it was time for a belly shot! Such a difference from my 1st baby, when belly shots were much more frequent, but I usually don't start showing until 5 months or so.

Pregnancy always goes by much quicker as soon as I know if it's a boy or a girl, so I am really enjoying this part and thinking a lot about what our new little boy will look like! So far, pregnancy with this boy is very similar to Cash's--a non-stop wiggler who apparently really loves chocolate, mashed potatoes, and anything spicy! I should have known there was a boy in there :)

Cosette also wanted a solo pic:
She is now insisting that we call her "Cosette" and refuses to answer to "Coco". This might have to do with the fact that at our school, there are 2 other Cocos and a Cocomi. Cosette also lets us know when she wakes up if "today is my happy day" or "today is my grumpy day", and she is always true to her word.

Cash wanted a picture, too:
Cash is at a really fun age right now. He has started picking out his clothes for the next day and laying them on his bed every night. In the morning, he gets dressed, makes his bed, and opens the curtains...then plays quietly until Cosette wakes up. He has also started getting interested in sight words and trying to read on his own. Very fun!

We are adjusting to life at our new school/apartment.  It's been a big change for us.  Fox is now working 8 to 6 M-Thurs, with a break for naptime (this is a combo daycare/kindergarten that is conducted only in English), whereas before he was working until 10 or 11 most nights.  We see him all day long, as Cash is in his morning class and Cosette and I are downstairs helping out and playing with the younger kids. Fox went from driving over 2 hours a day most days to literally walking downstairs to go to work and then coming back upstairs when the day is done. Most of his students are ages 5 and under, which is also a huge change.  There are over 30 kids at this school, and about 20 of them stay until 6 pm every day, so it is always loud.  It's exhausting but fun!

We have been having to spend our days off applying for our new city's paperwork--health insurance, library cards, child allowance, etc. so hopefully we will have some time soon to go exploring some fun parts of our city.  There is a dolphin recovery center about 20 minutes away that looks fun!

And--the most important part--there are non-Japanese food restaurants in our city!  This is very important, as we eat a lot of Japanese food at home.  We have Subway (wheat bread!!), Indian, Thai, and Jamaican food restaurants here in Takamatsu...and they are all amazing!

 I will try and get some pics up of our new place soon!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cash's Undokai

Cash had his first Undokai last Sunday! Undokais are sports' days that are very big deals here--they practice for weeks in advance and get the whole family to participate. Here is Cash doing the warm-up exercises: I love his enthusiasm...and stiff shoulders :) We had moved the day before and drove an hour and a half early in the morning to participate in his last activity at his Yochien. So, things had been a little crazy, but it was still fun. At Undokais in kindergarten, the whole family gets involved! Cosette did a relay for toddlers. Cash and Fox did a fun race while sharing a big hoop:

Here is Cash in another relay:
My favorite part was grandma and grandpa basketball. I didn't get a picture, but they pitted a bunch of grandparents against each other to throw 40 balls into a hoop. The grandparents were very competitive! It was bittersweet saying goodbye to Cash's classmates and teacher. Everyone shook his hand, and he was given his class birthday present early. Cash was the only American there, so everyone knew him. The entire staff of teachers and the principal was so good to us--they translated every piece of paperwork into English for us and really were sad to see Cash go. Here is Cash and his teacher, Shinohara-sensei:
After a final sayonara, we were off to our new city for good--this time a complete 180 degrees, as we are living inside a school where every student is only allowed to speak English. For my kids who were encouraged to only use Japanese in public in our tiny town, this week has been a big adjustment--more on that later :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Typhoon Day!

This week was interesting. In between a National Holiday on Monday (Respect for the Aged Day) and a National Holiday on Friday (Autumn Equinox Day), there were 2 days where school was cancelled due to a typhoon headed our way. We did get a little of it, but nothing bad at all. In fact, it was not much more than a bad rainstorm here. Hooray!
By Monday, it had already been raining for four days straight, so when we saw a break in the clouds, we headed out as fast as we could!
We went to Sanuki Mannou Park,one of our favorite parks here. There was a lot of bouncing and boinging and sliding, so I sat my pregnant self out on everything.

Here are some pics:

One of the reasons why we love this park is because there are green, rolling hills throughout the park, which is a very rare site here in Japan.

Fun times! I love National Holidays, and Japan has A LOT!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

August's been a while :) August was spent pretty much trying to avoid the heat! We went to the beach a lot, and no one got sunburned. Hooray! August here is summer vacation (yep, only August), so there were several activities going on throughout the month.
First, the Gokai Rangers came to the mall! The Gokai are like Power Rangers, and they put on a fighting show for the kids. My kids are still talking about it. No pictures--the line for taking pictures with them wrapped around an entire department store. So, I thought I would get a snack while Fox stayed in the line with the kids. When I got back 7 minutes later, everyone was done taking pictures! What? They made everyone go in groups of five and take only one shot. Wow.

Next, we went to Ibuki Island, a settlement famous for its fish used in dashi. I thought I took pictures, but I guess I didn't. And that's fine, because nothing is happening on Ibuki Island. We just wanted the ferry experience, so we took the 25 minute ferry over, walked around, and came home. Ibuki Island is crazy in that all of the homes there are uphill with no car access, so everyone uses scooters. Then, they take the ferry to Kanonji to do their grocery shopping. It was kind of fun to see everyone on the ferry with the gifts for their ancestors, since it was Obon.

Our stake had a primary activity that was so fun. Again, not many pictures...I need to use my camera more! All of the kids did different physical exercises, which I'm sure tied in to a spiritual topic, but it was all in Japanese. Afterwards, they had a scavenger hunt for the golden plates, and then bound a huge replica of the golden plates together. Then, we all helped sew and package Otedama, or bean bags, which are really popular here and used in occupational therapy. These bean bags would be sent up north to the elderly and children affected by the earthquake.

Here are our friends Chinatsu (we taught her when she was 4! And now she's 8!), Konomi, and Spencer writing letters to send with the bean bags:


The "gaijin" table :) Holden, the Shumways, and Cash and Coco working on their letters and packaging:

Afterwards, we went to Subway, which is a huge deal, since they have wheat bread. Subway is 1 1/2 hours from us, so we have only gone one other time. It is expensive but very, very worth it!

And here is Coco, being her crazy self:

Nothing else too new. The kids are very excited about mommy's growing belly. Coco is convinced that she also has a baby growing under her belly button, and she wants to marry that baby. Hmmm. Cash really wants a boy baby. Today, he told me that if it's a boy, we should name him Antonio. If it's a girl, we should name her StinkyBottom. So, I think you can see where his preferences lie. We'll know for sure September 14th!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Enjoying the Cool of the Evening

Cash's preschool had its "Enjoying the Cool of the Evening Festival" (literal translation from the Japanese title!  Very awesome!) on Wednesday.  It was a fitting title.  Earlier this week, a typhoon passed nearby our little city, which pushed all of the humidity away and actually gave us a few cool evenings.  It was so fun!  We brought along our new friends, the Shumways, and had hot dogs and yummy banana ice cream.  The kids played games to win prizes, and the night finished off with all of the kids relaxing in the dark auditorium to an Anpan-man video.
My camera died after recording this video, but you can see Cash at about 50 seconds.  We didn't realize he should have been wearing a summer jinbei, but now we know!
Here is the Kanonji Yochien's Bon Festival Dance:

Hagi No-oka Park (And Picture Upload!)

Cash and Fox go down the slide at the park instead of taking the stairs.  They have this in a lot of kids' places here, like preschools.  Instead of bumping into each other on the stairs to get to the playground, all the kids just take the slide.  I think this is so neat!
So here are a few pics of Hagi No-oka Park, a free kids' pool and park up in the mountains near our home.  The water is the perfect depth for 4 year olds, which is awesome.  Cash has been swimming every day in school, so it's been fun to see him strap on his goggle and swim cap and go underwater without fear. Go Cashy!

Cutie Coco!

Friday, July 15, 2011

On the Way...

Hip Hip Hooray--Look Who's on the Way!!!


Who: Baby #3 (Girl, I tell ya, but I'll let ya know for sure next month!)
When: late January 2012
Where: Most likely Japan--not too keen on flying back 36 weeks prego.

So this should explain the lack of blog posts. When I'm not laying on the couch or playing with the kiddos, all of my internet time has been spent browsing gorgeous food blogs. And then eating sandwiches for dinner.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fruit in Japan

Last Saturday, we took the missionaries and went with our friend Takuya to pick strawberries. A local strawberry farmer was trying to get rid of all of his leftover strawberries--it is no longer strawberry season. Strawberry season is generally in winter, around the time everyone is making their Christmas strawberry shortcakes. The winter strawberry season means that all of the strawberries are grown in greenhouses. We still had a lot of fun picking the strawberries and learned quite a few lessons about fruit in Japan, such as:

1.) Strawberries must be refrigerated immediately. We picked 2 huge boxes and 2 hours later, they were rotting. They are so delicate!

2.) Pieces of fruit should not touch each other, excepting grapes. When you buy strawberries in the store here, they are in a plastic package laid out in little rows and are not touching the other strawberries in the package. Cherries are in the store now, and the cherries come from America. But first, the cherries are weeded out--only the darkest and firmest cherries make it to the shelves. And of course, the cherries do not touch each other. All of this hand selecting makes fruit expensive here. 12 cherries is about $2.

3.) If someone has an excessive of fruit, you will become the receiver of that excess of fruit, such as strawberries. We learned this lesson last time, when bags of mikans would be left on our door. Right now, it is biwa (loquats). We have been given biwa almost every day this week. If only my kids would eat them! I think they are really yummy.

4.) If you are transporting fruit to church--let's say a tray of strawberries you had hand selected and arranged for an hour late Saturday night to give to the members the next day--probably not a good idea to put the tray of fruit on top of the car while you are buckling your kids in. I learned this the hard way when we heard a big clunk as my beautiful pan flew from our roof while driving off. It rained the rest of the day, so the only evidence of my strawberry disaster was our flattened metal pan, found in the parking lot of the library.

5.) Randomness in the fruit world here. Pineapples, lemons, and honeydews--all imported from the U.S.--are cheaper than when we'd buy them in Logan. Medium size watermelons are still $20. Apples are pretty much around a dollar a piece. Interesting.

Good times though! We were able to keep enough strawberries to stock up in our freezer to make smoothies with my birthday blender. Hooray!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Goings on...

Nothing too new here--We got a new couch that is American-sized! And a dehumidifier that sucks the moisture from the air. It gets so humid here that the dehumidifier will get full of water in a few hours. We got these lovely items from a thrift store that had a 50% off sale, so we are excited.
Here's what's up with:

Fox: I'm not sure many of you know this, but Fox teaches 11 preschool classes a week. He was sick last week, so I got to teach for him for a few days. Lucky! He has a fun job with the cutest students! I would have never ever ever imagined Fox as a preschool teacher, but he loves it and does a great job with it. A lot of his free time is spent making flashcards and drawing educational posters for his preschoolers. Right now, he is working on a wall mural in our school, and everyone is thrilled with his artistic abilities.

Cash: is busy being a fun 4 year old. School is wiping him out, and he often lays his head down on his desk near the end of the day around 2. This makes his teachers think he is sick, so he has learned to tell them that he is well, just sleepy in Japanese. He is very big on imaginative play, which I love. The other day, I asked him why he was going to the bathroom for the third time in an hour, and he said, "There is an alien inside my body controlling my pee-pee buttons." Heehee.

Coco: I am still figuring this girl out! She is so much fun and a sweetheart, but still insists on everything scary. She has all of her Scooby Doo books memorized. We watched Tangled and kept pointing out the princess in it to encourage some girliness. The next day, she wanted to play Tangled and would only pretend she was the war horse, Maximus. Oy. She picks up on a lot of random Japanese words and will yell them out while she goes to sleep. This girl is either talking, singing, or screaming from the time she wakes up until she falls asleep. Still taking great naps, though! She can't wait to go to school and often puts on Cash's stuff and waits by the door:


Amy: I am doing great! I have picked up a few more classes, so I am teaching 7 a week. In strange contrast to Fox, I love my adult classes the most. My students are so interesting and eager to learn. I just started working on an afghan with my birthday present: yarn! I have had a few hard and isolated days (we are really in a small area, so I haven't been able to socialize a ton) and some homesickness lately (oh, cheddar cheese and tortillas--why aren't you in Japan?) but nothing too bad. I am learning a ton everyday but unfortunately not too much helpful Japanese--more like local slang!

Still having issues with pictures--some day soon I will figure this out!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Trying again...


Okay--here is one of the pictures I tried to post last time. This is Fox and the kids on the way down from Kompira-san. I am still having issues with photo uploading--I need my little brother!!

I am going to plow ahead without photos (sad). This week is health week at Cash's school. Every day, they are checked for something different--dental, internal, etc. Fox and I had the lovely job of doing a home check for pinworms. Good times. Cash is learning more Japanese, but unfortunately, it seems to be more along the lines of the bad stuff. Japanese children and parents here have a very specific way of vocalizing their annoyance--it is almost musical whining. We live in the country where the local dialect does have quite a tone to it. Cash has gotten this part down quickly, and we are trying to re-train him from doing it.

Yesterday, we went to our friend Nauko's groundbreaking ceremony for her new house. I had seen a ceremony online before, so it was really fun to take part in it. Basically, the designer/artichect of the house takes the new family around to each of the neighbors to introduce themselves and invite them to the ceremony. Then, new neighbors and old friends gather outside the house (at this point, just the frame) and the family enters the house, where a temporary shrine is set up. The family prays there, and then the builders pour sake from the top floor for luck.
Nauko and her little family then threw traditional mochi from the top floor and then, for the friends below, about 100 bags of chips, including Coco's favorite shrimp chips. The kids were ecstatic. Japan is definitely the land of snacks! Someone here told me that only smaller areas in Japan do these ceremonies, so that is another little note in our long list of why we love our little countryside.

In other news, there is so much wheat growing here right now. We see fields and fields of it, whereas a few years ago, we saw zero. Fox and I were so thrilled--could whole wheat be coming to Japan to stay? Alas, no--all of this wheat will be made in to white bread flour to keep the 700 udon shops in our prefecture in business. Darn.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kompira-San Revisited (and Re-Posted, C'mon Blogger!)

**I can see these pics on my computer, but I'm not sure if you, let's see if this works!**

Remember when we traveled here? No? Okay...well, anyways, we did it again!
Last Saturday, we took the train to Kotohira and plowed up the 785 steps to Kompira-san, a very famous shrine in our area. Cash did 765 steps! Wow! Coco did about 600 or so. I couldn't believe it!

Here is us at the top! Disregard my disheveled self. I wore the wrong outfit to climb all those stairs. The local college girls were walking up in their high heels and summer dresses!


Daddy and the kiddos on the way down--and again, Cash walked the almost the whole way down!

Treating ourselves afterwards! Fox and I got mikan ice cream cones, while Cash and Coco had Wasanbon cones with sugared rice puffs on top. Very sweet!

There are a ton of udon shops before you start the stairs. Here is Cash watching a man roll out the udon dough:

Chili fries! Well, I guess as chili-fried as you can get here--mashed potatoes pushed through a ricer into hot oil and then covered with tomato sauce and meat. Fox was in heaven!

We had a great day! We live close to the train station, and the kids still had enough energy to run all the way home!

This week, the rainy season has begun, which means that the air is super humid while it rains all day. It is strange to be in rain that doesn't cool you off at all!

Cash has been at preschool this week, and each day comes home with a new set of bandages and bruises from running and falling! The preschool uniform is shorts year round. Before this, Cash was a strictly-sweatpants boy year-round, and now I understand why he wanted his little legs covered. Poor guy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Things


Blogger is still giving me server errors whenever I upload pictures! So, sorry--I am posting what I can!

This week in Japan is Golden Week, a day off on Friday and then the following week has a string of national holidays on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (Yes, that is not actually a week. We are all confused about this.) We have managed to get the whole week off, though, and we have been enjoying it and experiencing new things!

--a Gospel Choir concert in Takamatsu on Friday. Our friend Miwa sings in a gospel choir, so we went to support her. They sang "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" and other songs in English. I always get a kick out of the fact that all the music I hear here is in English! We went to dinner the other night, and they played Justin Bieber the whole time!

--A barbecue with a local friend who was displaced by the earthquake and moved to the countryside (yep, we live in the countryside). She is from Aomori prefecture and served us their local specialties, sea urchin rice and senbei soup--both very yummy!

--The Ehime Science Museum--This has the world's largest planetarium!. It also has the robotic dinosaurs shown in the picture with Cash above. It is a huge museum full of really cool hands-on displays. We had a blast!

--Our branch's day camp, which was fun. There were about 8 American missionaries there, and lots of booths of activities. I spent the whole time snacking, of course. They had kakigori--yummy!

--Another barbecue! Our student had a barbecue at her house yesterday. I finally tried fugu (blowfish). I had been hesitant, because I had read this beforehand:
"Poisonous parts vary among different kinds of fugu, and only licensed cooks are allowed to prepare them. One must have special skills and knowledge to be licensed. Because of the strict regulations, the number of deaths is decreasing but is still reported."
Peer pressure! Our student's husband has a license to prepare fugu and had caught a bunch fresh that morning. Not bad, just chewy!

We have a few more days off, but the recent earthquakes have made us kind of hesitant to travel north. Maybe I will take the other days off to figure out how to get Blogger to upload my pictures!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Blogger Trouble

We got a new camera a few weeks ago and have taken so many great pictures with it. Unfortunately, Blogger will not upload any of my pictures--and I've been trying daily for a week! here are a few recent pictures. For some reason, these are the only ones that would upload properly with Picasa, which is also giving me trouble. Any web photo publishing help would be much appreciated!

Cash at Risturin Park:


The Arcade in Takamatsu. I thought it was so fitting for a mall in Japan to have a giant floating squid on the ceiling next to a mural of an oni (demon):
and traditional Japanese archer:

This picture is messed up but shows my crazy, dramatic not to interrupt her precious Lego time:

Other recent items of business with our fam:
Fox--just got called to 2nd counselor in the Branch Presidency. A testament to the fact that in Japan, you get highly praised for speaking 2 words in Japanese. Fox can speak in full sentences, so he has people tricked into thinking that he is completely fluent. He is completely worried. Please pray for him!

Amy--is diligently following her exercise program (blah) and making veggie burgers--yay for protein! I am loving the wonderful ladies I get to teach every week and am very grateful for my American friends here! In desperate need of a good book, though. I have never been able to re-read books, but it looks like I might have to try.

Cash--is warming up to preschool. As parents, we were asked to make sure we put something in his bento everyday that he doesn't like, so that he can learn to like it. So, this week, we are working on onigiri! We are never allowed to send him to school with anything sugary. Preschool this year is not about academics--it is about independence. So, the kids feed the schools' bunnies, water the plants, brush their teeth after eating, clean their plates, pick up the school, etc. It is really neat.

Cosette-- now gets to go to Mommy and Me Mondays for a few hours at the preschool where Fox teaches. We went today, and it was awesome. All the toys are wood, and they have a half-hour Japanese storytime. The teachers will only speak to Coco in Japanese, which she likes, since she likes to repeat words she hears. She also gets points for trying new food--today's snacktime was kinako mochi (sweet glutinous rice cakes topped with toasted soybean powder) and she went for it! Then, of course, all of the children stand on stools and wash their own bowls and wipe the tables down. 2 year olds! She is also finally handling nursery without her parents! Hooray!

We were very blessed to be able to have Easter dinner with our friends the Jacksons, who had a ham and jelly beans and everything! We hope everyone had a Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Day of School!

How cute is he?? Today was Cash's first day of preschool (here, they call it kindergarten). Here he is all decked out in his school unifrom!

With Daddy right before the opening ceremony. Preschool here is from ages 3-6, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 2 pm. Wow. We are only putting him in a few days a week for a while to see how he does. He is the only foreigner, but everyone at the school is so sweet to him and tries to use English with him when they can. This is pretty much total immersion in Japanese for this boy, and he is excited to learn! Go Cashy!