Monday, March 31, 2008

What else? The baby!

Ken is really coming along this month. We actually haven't had any measurements for a while, but I would guess that he is over 8 kgs now. Of course that is why Ritsy thought he may be delicious to eat. Don't worry though folks! I talked her down!
He is now turning over like a little pro. It's tough to stop him from lying on his stomach and sleeping now. While I was worried in the beginning, we keep a close eye on him and he seems quite comfortable.
I have been searching his mouth for signs of teeth, but nothing popping out yet.He is drooling a lot and he keeps sucking on his hand or whatever he can get his hands on, which the baby book suggests is a sign that he is starting to feel pressure in his mouth from the teeth.

He really enjoys sitting and standing practice. Here you can see my beautiful room wear once again (come on Chris I know you want a set!) as he leans up against his dad.
And the sitting unassisted isn't working yet, but he really wants to make it work! Hang in there Ken! Don't rush getting all grown up!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A day at the Park

It was nice to have Saturday off, so we threw on our silly hats and headed on down to Misono Chou Kouen.
The Cherry Blossoms are starting to bloom and there were a few Hanami party-goers out for the early festivities.
Ken was enjoying his first go of Flower watching as we milled about the park.
We sat down to enjoy the little bit of sun that was peaking out of the clouds at us. But not too much sun for the little guy, he needed his silly hat again.
Ahh... Happiness is a good time with the family and a good hat to block the sun.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Turning and observing

I always fail to capture when Ken turns over on his own on video, but this time I tried, I found it interesting how he has begun to observe, here he watches Lanma as she walks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

That's Japan! (Volume 8)

Fighting ninjas? That's Japan!
Delving deeper into the inner-workings of the busy machine known as Japan, the winner of absolutely no awards or accolades-- we expose the truth and make you say- "That's Japan?"; to which I must answer- "That's Japan!".
Manga! - Everyone reads it! Well pretty much everyone reads it. If you are on the train you will see old businessmen, young ladies or boys with either a small manga book in their hands or one of the popular magazines like Jump that features different manga comics. Some of the material can be quite racy too, I was surprised to see a man sitting and reading a rather explicit looking comic next to a 20-something office lady on the train in my first year. I now see it happen from time to time, the bottom line is that people react differently to stuff like that here. In Canada I figure the dude would get a slap or be taken to the cops on a harassment charge.
ShojiNo, not this Lanma
Shoji/Lanma- Most people know the site of the Japanese style sliding door, but few knew the actual name for them- they are known as Shoji. Lanma, yes- it is the same name as my cat- but it actually the name for the style of wall you can sometimes see above the Shoji that looks like it may be decorative, or it may be simply made of porous wood. Sadly I have no picture at present, I'll take one next time I visit Ritsy's mom.
Matryoshka doll candy thing -- boy they do love wrapping the crap out of their candies here. It draws to mind those useless Russian dolls everyone had in their household when they were growing up. You will tear open the bag and find a wrapped up treat. When you unwrap the treat you find more to unwrap. Seriously, in a country that seems to pride themselves on their growing sense of Eco-awareness, they are quite wasteful!
The Hair Net/Sink catcher bit of genius - A number of years back the hairnet industry was floundering seriously in Japan. They offered up a bit of "thank you money" to the main players in the sink manufacturing industry to design sinks so that we are forced to buy refills for the liner in the sink. I have a better idea, don't dump food in the sink- just scrape it into the garbage just like everyone else! (all stories and cynical comments in this bit were completely false in nature)
Goya -- While there are some strokes of genius in the world of Japanese cooking, think about it, look at what they can do with a simple soy bean (miso, soy sauce, tofu, natto and edamame all come from variants of the soy bean)! But this one baffles me! Goya is indigenous to Okinawa and looks like a cucumber with attitude on first look. It doesn't get too much better when you pop it into your mouth, unpleasantly bitter, it makes you regret that you decided to brave it in the first place. But here is the true "that's Japan" kicker-- you find yourself thinking that so many people can't be wrong and you find yourself going back to try it again and again- until you get desensitized to the extremely bitter little vegetable!

A little sarcastic today- you say? Am I growing bitter? Nah- it's just that "that's Japan".

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Looking back- Tokyo Disneyland

I have, in the past, talked about some of my past trips including my first trip with the wife out to the California Disneyland. It was a great bonding time and developed a good link through enjoying a laugh at just silly things general relaxed enjoyment. So our year in Tokyo also featured a couple of trips out to Tokyo Disneyland (while it is called Tokyo Disneyland, it actually resides in neighboring Chiba prefecture).
A beautiful addition to the Disney resort in Japan is Tokyo Disney Sea. I found the design and the feel to just be great-- but it was lacking in great rides much like California's Great Adventure. I am sure over time it will improve!
We were so busy having fun, but we did have time to stop and take a picture while waiting hours in line! And what trip to Disneyland is complete without trying on some goofy hats?Not to mention trying to beat out the amusement parks and just take our own pictures as we fall down Splash mountain.

The trips to the happiest place on Earth are always good fun- I really can't wait until Ken is big enough to take him out there!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Monday Raspberry

Courtesy of one Mr. Baby showing off some of his new oral skills...


Sunday, March 23, 2008

A bit of a day, wasn't it?

Today we finally made it out to pay our respects to my former colleague that passed away in January. I feel bad that it took us so long to go out to say our goodbyes. I guess partly I never really have had to deal with death and felt a bit uncomfortable. Karen's husband Yoshinori was very cool and walked about and calmly talked to us about the situation. She was 48 years old on passing. I felt the nerves before going by, but was happy we made it out in the the end.

Afterwards we stopped by the electronics store. As we had a very complicated situation to sort out with a certain rebate that we can get for our house loan each year, earlier in the year it seemed that Ritsy was the only one to receive a rebate-- so she gave me half. Well at the end of the year, we sorted it out so that I also received the rebate and I forgot that we shared the money, so I earmarked it for personal use. When we sorted out this years tax- it's my turn to make up for my wacky spending- so I was on the hook to purchase us a new HDD/ BluRay recorder. Don't worry- it only takes up half of my tax return, and leaves me some buffer in case there is any tight months! We half to wait a week or more (if more, we have to wait until after our trip) to pick it up, but it should be a great tool-- I can't wait to watch my first movie on BluRay!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gettin' Ready

Ken has been exercising rigorously for the upcoming trip out to Vancouver. He can fully appreciate what hard work the whole trip is going to be for him. From the Shinkansen ride, then the airplane, then meeting all the people in a foreign environment.
As you can see from his new found love of Yoga, he is fully in get ready mode.
Yay! Vancouver at last! It's been about a year a half since going back for a visit now, and after my multiple visit years preceding that lag- it's pretty tough being away that long! Well it was for a good cause that I held out, and Ken is well worth the small sacrifice! Details are now starting to solidify and the time is approaching quickly- it will be so nice to breathe the Canadian air and eat the food, and have a few sips of the beer!
As exhausted as I think Ken will be, I really am looking forward to him having a chance to meet his grandmother and Aunt and all his parent's friends back home- it will be a great time!

Vancouver here we come! (Just a Week and a half to go!)

Monday, March 17, 2008


Last Sunday, ESL college had their happyoukai- or presentation day. It's actually kind of fun, some of the children will perform speeches that they had been practicing or just sing songs, or perform something special. While I think Chris was a bit disappointed, I thought that the majority of the kids did a great job, and the parents that I talked to seemed happy! I know the returnee class that I teach (performing a brilliant script written by Chris and I) did a really good job- I was so happy- this was an early practice- they came a long way after this...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Magical world of Ritsy's art

At times when Ritsy is bored I'll catch her plowing through her nest of pictures on her cell phone. Before Ken came along she was snapping shots of Santa and Lanma daily. You can imagine there is a tonne of pictures on there. I guess in the middle of the boredom, she started playing around with the picture editor on her phone and came up with these cheesy little numbers.
This is one of my favorites, as Santa is exposing himself, makes him look a little bit like a pervert by adding the matrix effect. Here is one of the earliest family montages.I'm not sure why, but I couldn't stop giggling at the above picture when she sent it to me after I finished a class last week. So silly to just add the beer, cigarettes and guns- but there is a touch of comedic genius in there.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ken goes to Manami's

Tet-chan and Ken
While Manami had met Ken when her and Ritsy had a high school reunion a few weeks past, the rest of her family had yet to meet the little guy. So we made our way over to their place for a visit. Eiho got hold of my camera and was running around snapping shots.
I thought this picture looked like an album cover from the '90's- like a Pearl Jam album or something. Shogo really liked Ken and was carrying him around and sitting him on his lap. I'm hoping that in the future he and Eiho will teach Ken how to play soccer.
Ken grew tired from all of the excitement and passed out on mommy's shoulder.
Did I mention that Shogo and Eiho were soccer masters? This all of their impressive looking medals and trophies. Eiho was the first to hit the hay (after Ken, of course) and wrapped himself up like a he was a desert dweller.

All in all a great night and good experience for Ken to meet some more people!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Yes folks it's time to crack open the camera and see what the little guy is up to recently...
Already developing a bit of a mischievous personality, you can just see the wheels turning as he sees Santa trustingly sleeping away in front of him.
Here he is chilling with his mom- I believe they were having an in-depth conversation about how to serve the highest quality milk. He sure knows what he likes already!While I thought that they were sworn enemies, I caught Ken and Santa conspiring the other day. Actually this day was quite cute, he was lying on his back on the blanket and kicked his way up into the position facing Santa.
Same day- this could be an album cover or movie poster for them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've been meaning to throw this video up for some time now. Ken started rolling onto his stomach soon after the visit from Warwick- here is an early failed attempt.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Just a little bit of a video from the farm on Sunday. It's a little dry on entertainment value, but there is a cameo by Ken and Ritsy. The lady goats are so gentle and nice, but the guys are so aggressive and unpleasant. Completely different from humans! Erm... well.... depends whom you talk to?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nice Laugh Farm

It's been a little short of a year since I stopped working at NL Farm out in lovely Araimachi. Saturday at ESLC, I heard from one of the students that the manager from the farm is moving on and there was a goodbye event for him today- so we decided to round up Ken and go and say goodbye to Daichi.

The main issue with working out there was the travel time to the school every week, and for that same reason- Ritsy had never made it out to the farm. But considering what a kick she got out of the animals- it's too bad I never got her to go down there before!
She was quite taken by the baby goat named Yuki (meaning Snow) because it is as white as snow. Here they tried to get Ken to kiss the goat, unsuccessfully.
New to the farm is the Llama, which I was quite impressed with. He was very docile, friendly and inquisitive. Documented here is one of the many times that he was trying to steal a kiss from me.
I loved the 'doo on this goat, Pampi (son of bambi). He is quite the ornery fellow, just like his dad though.
After a great tour by Yuki (no not the goat- one of the friendly ladies that work there) we said our goodbye's and took Ken to Shitoro. Poor guy has an itchy neck, so we put this glove on his left hand to stop him from scratching.

It was quite a nice day!