Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cookie Decorating

Max chooses the Gingerbread man

Kate decorates while Max eats

Some of the creations.

Max's detritus.  A bite out of each cookie.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Max Meets Santa

Afterwards, he wanted to go back on the stage.

At the close of the event, Santa came parading down through the audience and each kid got to go on stage to receive a colossal present(s) from Santa.  Here is Max approaching Mr. C.

And here's me and Max with his presents.

Cookie Monster

Max has distinguished himself as a true Puglisi descendant. We made cookies this week and he, in the Puglisi tradition, could not stop eating the cookie dough.  This is cheering news, given his penchant for picky eating.

Thanks for the recipe, Mom.  It was for Dee's Spice Cookies, a favorite since the 70's.  

Subsequently, and since it's Christmas time, I made gingerbread and cut-out sugar cookies.  Max seemed to prefer the gingerbread ones.  We had two of his little friends over today to decorate the cookies and Max spent most of his time eating the sprinkles.  

Friday, December 5, 2008

Blast you, Facebook

The whole Facebook thing has really been detrimental to my blog.  And I apologize to anyone who has visited lately to find no updates.  So much has happened in the past month.  We took a trip to Kyoto; My sister came to visit for a week; Max had his end-of-school-year Christmas Pageant; we celebrated Thanksgiving with a potluck party with some of Rich's colleagues.  It's now December 5th.  It was Max's last day of school today so he is on "vacation" now for a whole month.  

We've begun Christmas shopping and sent a few gifts back with Carrie for the family.  I bought a large (artificial) Christmas tree and once we get the thing together, I'll post some pictures.  

We've been watching Max really blossom with his speech. He's speaking in sentences most of the time now - not always grammatically perfect, but he loves to talk and loves to find out what things are called.  He recognizes almost all his letters and points to letters on signs, the TV and the computer screen and keyboard. 

Next up, I'm planning to try to make Christmas cookies and invite some of Max's little friends over to decorate.  That should be interesting.  

We leave for Saipan on December 23rd so will have a quiet Christmas at the beach.  While I'm excited about the vacation, I'd much rather be huddling with family in the cold of the Northeast US.  

Friday, November 7, 2008


Shortly after dinner Friday evening we heard fire trucks passing in front of our building. This is a normal occurance as the fire station is a bit around the corner and our street is one of their main routes to get out of the area.  I (Rich) picked up Max so that we could look out the window and see them pass.  This time they took a side street and went down past the back of our building.   Max went back to playing with his toys and we heard more sirens.  These trucks came from a different direction and made a u-turn going back down the same sidestreet.  Odd….We continued watching other cars pass and looked at the trees lit up in blue and white lights for the holidays. I pointed out to Heather a new store is opening up across the street on the 28th, and it has something to do with being a “mozzarella bar”.  Yum.

Hold on. More sirens….More fire trucks.  Max and I quickly put on our coats and shoes and went down to investigate. 


We walked up the street and it looked like the fire trucks disappeared.  Upon reaching the corner though we saw one stopped.  Interesting…We walked further and saw another.  Then an ambulance.  Then another truck. Then hoses out on the sidewalk, all aside the low building next to ours.  We kept walking and Max was calling out and pointing at the fire truck, and was excited at the ambulance and flashing lights!  Then he pointed out the “ladder truck”…which was closer to our building.  A few more steps provided a clear view of the street between our building and Robot Park.  “Holy Cow!!!” I thought (and as Max has recently learned to say).  Nine fire trucks and the firefighters were going into our builing, Residence B!  But it seemed like nothing serious as the firefighters, though many, were not running around in a panic (then again, this is Japan).


We walked up through Robot Park and across the bridge over the street.  There seemed to be a fair number of people milling about.  Max started chasing some kids and we went inside by our lobby.


Once inside we now heard fire alarms and red lights I had never noticed before were flashing. Holy Cow! (or substitute other appropriate word here).  An automated voice was blaring over the loudspeaker.  It sounded kind of like at the end of one of the original James Bond movies when the evil hideout is in self destruct mode:  “RESIDENTS OF BUILDING C.  PLEASE EVACUATE. THERE IS A FIRE ON THE 42ND FLOOR”.  


HOLY S***!!!! 


So I of course went upstairs to tell Heather.  There were no alarms going off in our building and I assumed everything was safe.


We prepared a bath for Max and an announcement came over the loudspeaker in our apartment.  It was in Japanese. It was very loud. Heather and I looked at each other quizzically as it did not sound like any Japanese I had mastered so far (“two beers, please”, and “turn left at the light”).  Finally, the announcement came in English.  “PLEASE DO NOT BE ALARMED.  THE SITUATION IS UNDER CONTROL”.  Then they repeated the annoucement again in Japanese. Again in English.  I thought that was a good idea in case someone didn’t hear it the first time.  Then they repeated it a third time.  Four. Five. Six.  I started to feel alarmed.


Max’s bath went without further incident. I suppose it was good he was in a big pool of water.  While drying him off we heard more crackling coming over the loud speaker.  It took me a while to find the camera to record this (listen to the attached)  but fortunately they made the annoucement SEVEN times.


I can’t wait to see what happens in a big earthquake.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Halloween II: School Parade

On October 31st, Max's school held a Halloween parade in which the kids walked about a block to a neighboring Japanese (vs. International) preschool to show off costumes and sing songs. Mickey Max refused to wear his ears and gloves, still he was recognized by the students.  He also refused to participate in the sing-along and was more interested in the toys he spied.

A few kids had meltdowns during the parade, but Max held his own. 

Batman has a meltdown.  Female Buzz Lightyear waits patiently.

This is Max's class. One of the princesses has a meltdown.

Waiting to cross the street. Always a production.

The kids from the other school do their song.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween I

It's been a full week of Halloween fun here in Tokyo.  We started things off with a parade on Saturday the 25th.  I was amazed at the turn-out at the arena in Roppongi Hills.  Mobs of people were there.  And from what I understand, Halloween is a relatively newly adopted holiday in Japan.  

I had been working for a while on putting together a Mickey costume for Max as he loves Mickey and Donald and the gang.  His favorite TV show is the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse which we get on the Disney Channel.  He wakes up every morning and says "watch mickey!"

So I put together a costume and Max actually wore it at the parade.  Our good friend Fumie joined us with her daughter Tamano who I decided was a pumpkin princess. 

Here are some pics of the day.  More to come, hopefully from Max's school parade on Halloween Day.

Johnny D. waves hello

Very tall Japanese man

The band

Very odd onlooker

Post-parade meltdown: No, it's MY TRAIN!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lining up the cars

It's already October 20th and Tokyo is in pre-Halloween gear.  This Saturday we'll go to a parade near our house and Max will also have a parade at school. Life has settled into a predictable rhythm with school, swimming and play dates for Max and me transporting Max to and fro, taking Japanese lessons, going to the gym (very occasionally), thinking about how I really need to expand my cooking repertoire, doing the daily and weekly shopping, wasting time on the internet, reading,  and sitting around waiting for Rich to get home at night.  Yes, I feel I've adjusted to the insane work schedule Rich has had for the past (going on 4) weeks. It's a massively detailed project with a short timeline so working till 11:00 PM and on weekends has become a norm.
So Max and I continue to do our thing.  We play blocks, cars and trains; we chase each other around the house; we practice sitting on the potty; we read a lot; we watch a lot of Curious George on DVD.  Here's a couple of shots of Max lining up his cars.  He took great care and precision with this.  And just a mention for those of you concerned with this behavior, he zooms his cars around quite normally as well.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recycling rocks

New rules for recycling were posted earlier this month.  The best thing is that a ton of stuff can now be recycled.  The only downside is that it will require a hell of a lot more rinsing moving forward. (Bring on the peanut butter jars!) But maybe that will provide more of an incentive for me to scout out products with less packaging.  

Irony of ironies.  While Japan is pretty good about recycling, they are package and wrapping crazy.  So when you buy a pack of rice crackers - each one is individually wrapped.  Doesn't this kind of defeat the purpose?

So far I am trying to reduce packaging in Max's lunch by not buying juice and milk boxes and using reusable containers instead of baggies.  My next step is to really work at carrying around my own coffee cup to avoid generating Starbucks waste.  

I also need to practice saying "issho de ii desu" (literallly "all together is ok") to the cashiers at the grocery store to tell them not to put dairy items and fruits and veggies in their own little baggies.  And to refuse other extraneous bags --- "fukuro wa kekko desu" (literally "bag no thank you").

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two Sundays in Kichijoji

One of our favorite new places to hang out is Kichijoji. Special thanks to Tazuko and Keiichi for inviting us out to lunch with them in this happening neighborhood. Here we all our outside the Village Vanguard Diner.  Tazuko and Keiichi were craving burgers so they chose the place.  You would think from the signage visible in the photo that we were in the States.  

Elsewhere in Kichijoji this is not the case.  While we saw a couple of expats here and there, it is primarily Japanese and has a youngish, mellow, everyday sort of vibe.  There is a nice big park with a small lake and swan boats and row boats to rent.  There are also random entertainers along the path doing magic tricks, playing instruments or doing any sort of amateur acts.  There is also a zoo attached that we explored during our second visit to the area.  As far as zoos go, it was pretty basic and on the old side but we had a good time just the same. Although the elephant didn't look too healthy.

For our second visit, we explored the zoo and stumbled upon a great place for brunch.  Here is a photo of Rich and Max enjoying their pancakes and french toast (respectively) with blueberry sauce.  And of Max drinking milk and water at the same time.  Notice the yellow mini car below his arm.  This is a new favorite.  

Unfortunately a lot of blueberry sauce ended up on Max's shirt and then on my shoulder in a blueberry embrace.  But I can attest to the power of the Spray 'n Wash stain stick.  It works.

After brunch, Rich took Max home and I got to wander and shop. There are lots of interesting side streets with funky shops as well as larger established department stores. I also found a maze of dark, narrow alleys with tiny shops and miniscule restaurants - just a couple of seats - with mysterious odors emanating from them.

I bought a few random items.  Cute socks, a funky shirt for Max, some houseware stuff.  But by 3:00 I was experiencing sensory overload from the masses of people and shop after shop after shop.  So I headed back to the station to begin the long trek home. That's the main downside. It's about an hour door to door from our house to Kichijoji. And the worst part of that hour is the time spent transferring and navigating through Shinjuku Station and the triathalon of stairs, escalators and tunnels you need to conquer just to get to the right subway.

Still, I'm sure we'll be back.

Friday, October 3, 2008


What can one really say about a mass of sand and silt poured into Tokyo Bay to form a new community of high rises and shopping malls.  That's Odaiba. We went a couple weekends ago. The train ride takes you over the Rainbow Bridge and it was a spectacular warm day.  

Max and I explored the beach (man-made).  (We found a dead crab.) We passed by the rent-a-dog place that had a line out the door and the adjacent Doggy Restaurant. Does this kind of service exist anywhere else?  Someone please say that Tokyoites are not the only people who will line up to rent a dog for the afternoon to take it for a walk and buy it lunch.

Then we headed into one of the handful of large malls on the island to check out Toys R Us. I planned on getting Max a tricycle but he displayed no interest. This was so frustrating as he loves to play with/on the tricycles in our basement bike storage area.  

I bought a couple Thomas trains to keep on hand for future surprise gifts and we headed out to lunch in the food court. Then Rich checked out Eddie Bauer which somehow was kind of stylish as only the Japanese can make outfits look good. More on the style gene later...

Max fell asleep after lunch so as he snoozed in the stroller Rich and I got coffee and enjoyed the view.

For the love of cows and other phrases

Friday, October 3, 2008
"Milk come hole over there."  Does this qualify as a sentence?  Or is it just a sign of Max's intense love affair with cow milk.  This series of words was uttered with excitement on Friday. He leaped up from his 8th cup of milk of the day and ran to his table of farm animals, grabbed the cow, darted back to me and pointed to the udder and uttered his pronouncement.  I am so proud.  

Saturday, October 4, 2008
"Taiga come over play bedroom".  Taiga is his little friend who came over to play.  Max said this before he went to bed, as we sat together and reviewed the day.  

Another thing that is really cute is that when we read the "hedgehog book" (incidentally given to me by my Nannu in 1977) and the book ends where 10 hedgehogs are tucked into their little beds, he jumps up from my lap or the potty seat (where he likes to sit while we read books), runs to his bed and grabs his bed in an excited embrace and says "Mac wooden bed".  Yes, I assure him, you have a wooden bed.  This kind of thing is happening a lot.  It's like that scene from the Miracle Worker when Helen Keller finally understands sign language.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

New beginnings

If you didn't notice, I changed my profile picture to reveal my new haircut. Monisha chopped off quite a bit and while I am still getting used to it, it is a great feeling to be liberated from long hair.  I don't think I've had hair this short since elementary school.  This is the back of my head - over there to the right.  

We also tried to darken my color a bit but it didn't go as dark as we had hoped.  It was quite ridiculous trying to explain the hair color we were after to the lovely salesperson in the drugstore.  So now I get to experiment with things like spray on hair wax.  

So this is just a general announcement and an excuse to post something. All is well, otherwise.  Tomorrow is a public holiday (to honor the dead) so Rich has a day off. We'll be heading out to do some old-fashioned sight-seeing and shopping.  

One of these days I should keep you all updated on Max's speech.  He is making sentences now which is a lot of fun and coming up with the most amazing vocabulary.  I think this is due to all the reading we have done with him and his experience at school.  

Some recent expressions "I did it!",  "Mommy press it!" (as in the button on the elevator). "Mac fell down" (he calls himself Mac now).  "I found it!"  He knows the words for almost every animal and lots of insects and is very interested in bulldozers, diggers, cement trucks, and dumptrucks.  There is a fair amount of construction going on in our area so we are frequently passing building sites and heavy machinery.  He knows a lot of verbs and prepositions now and within another month, I think will be really speaking fluidly.

He likes reviewing the alphabet in his many ABC books and is connecting letters to words now. E is for elephant, a is for armor (yes, armor).  

We watch a lot of Curious George and the other day he pointed to his arm and said "bone".  So we discussed some of the bones in our bodies.  Yes, he has learned that we have bones from Curious George.  He's pretty darn curious, himself.