Sunday, February 14, 2010

A LOVE-ly Day

Ice on the trees on Mt. Rokko

Today we went up Mount Rokko to celebrate Evan, Kiyona and Allie's birthdays. They are all teachers' kids that also go to Yume Club with Maximo. We went to a "park" that has a man-made ski slope and sledding area for kids. It was fun and really the first time Maximo saw snow - except for a flurry on a back of the bike last weekend. Max had a good time, but was a bit out of sorts because it was his first day out of the house in about four, since he's been battling a respiratory infection.

Unfortunately, I didn't get many pictures. But here are a few that I got. Happy Valentine's Day!
His bibs - so cute!
I'm hoping we'll get a couple more wears out of them!

Max and Daddy sliding down the slope!

I packed a L-O-V-E- inspired lunch.
I LOVE my "hard boiled egg shapers". Only in Japan!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sending Cyber Love

Please excuse my singing.
And my collection of gray sweatshirts.
Focus on Maximo.

We just wanted to send you some L-O-V-E!

Yesterday, we received our Old Navy order of summer clothes for Maximo.
It was our first time playing "dress up". It was quite fun. Without any prompting, he started peeling off his clothes and tried on some of his new wares as I started taking all the clothes out of the bags (all individually wrapped - ugh). Unfortunately, he had no idea what to do with the underwear - except to wear it as a bracelet. I showed him where they belonged, but he insisted on putting them on over his diaper. This is something we'll tackle this summer.

Two is better than one

Water wing and undie bracelets

He insists on wearing this hat sideways - granted it's one size too big!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Signs of Spring

Although it snowed this morning - a mad flurry for about 15 minutes, Spring is sneaking in as, I hope, Winter bids us farewell. All in all it's been a mild winter - the coldest it's been is about 30 degrees and that's only been a few mornings. Needless to say, anything under 40 is cold on a bike and the wind can whip around the island and make it feel a lot colder than it really is.

On the way back from brunch this morning, I noticed a man taking photos on the Greenbelt (the 5 km walking path around the island). I looked beyond him and noticed small purple flowers dotting the trees around him. I've never seen trees blooming this early. Come to find out, they are plum blossoms. The white ones look like popcorn hanging on the tree and they are really fragrant.

So this afternoon, we went out and climbed around a bit and took some pictures.Climbing the hill behind our apartment.

Denis & Max cracking up when the cars went by!

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Bean Throwing Ceremony

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of each season in Japan. February 3rd there is

a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒き, bean throwing).

Roasted soybeans (fuku mame) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the throwers chant "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (鬼は外! 福は内!)., meaning "Demons out! Luck in!"

The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one's life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.

I knew about this because our Japanese department notified us, since our students would be participating in this - and some ground rules had to be laid, primarily no touching the Oni, as if chasing around poor high school boys dressed as the Oni and pelting them with beans wasn't bad enough. I went out to watch my kids run around like banshees tormenting the onis.

It didn't even cross my mind that they would do this at Maximo's daycare.

But they did.

Whereas fifth graders loved the cat and mouse chase, the little ones were terrified. From what I could gather from the senseis EVERYONE cried. Talking to my friends who have had their kids there for a few years, EVERYONE CRIES EVERY YEAR. It must be an important tradition and crucial for a lucky upcoming year, because, really, why would you want to traumatize a bunch of little kids by chasing them in a scary ogre mask/costume. Don't think tubby, green Shriek ogre - think of horned, red, and petrifying. This is more like it:

I wonder if any of the little ones were even able to throw beans, or if they just clung to their senseis for dear life.

Here's the Oni Maximo made at daycare the day before ~I like how the oni's horns look like they were turned into fangs and he's wearing a party hat~

and here's the nice little English description his senseis put into his bag for us. They wanted to have an explanation for his "oni nightmares".

I've added some pictures and completed the January 2010 photo gallery which is now in the sidebar to the right!

Note: I added some kanji, because I think it just looks cool. Too bad I can only recognize about 2 characters.