Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hakuhinkan Toy Park

Toy stores.  Max and I went to one of the bigger ones here in Tokyo on Tuesday.  I was shopping for a train set for him and lucked out because lo and behold, the 4th floor of Hakuhinkan had a huge Brio display and set-up.  Brio is one of theolder companies (Swedish) that makes the wooden train tracks that you piece together like a puzzle.  The small trains attach together like magnets.  

I opted to spend more money on the Brio set after reading about lead paint findings in certain Thomas trains.  

Max was in heaven and played for a good 45 minutes (it seemed like more) while I picked out a set for him and checked out some other toys in the vicinity.  

We also had a good time with the stuffed animals and at the "arcade" area.  Does anyone remember those weird Monchici monkeys from the 80s?  Well, they had a ton of them.  


Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Office

When:     Saturday, May 24, 11:45 AM
Where:   PwC Tokyo office
Why:       Family Day

Work.  It is one of the words that Max says and uses.  As Rich walks out the door in the morning, Max will sometimes say "work".   So it is fitting that we finally got to visit the mysterious destination that draws Daddy away the cozy confines of home.  

So we did the commute together on Saturday morning, taking the Hibiya line two stops, switching to the Maranouchi line and going two stops to Tokyo Station.  Rich proudly pointed out the Starbucks where he gets his coffee every morning and explained that he can make it from Roppongi Hills to his office entirely underground.  

There was a nice spread of food and we set out feeding ourselves and trying to keep Max from launching himself off of a very groovy red sofa in the "lounge" area.  Sadly, the Japanese staff all but ignored us. I introduced myself a couple of times and offered a family near us some potato chips but that was the extent of the mingling with Japanese.  I met some of Rich's other ex-pat colleagues but really spent most of the time either attempting to eat or chasing Max around. 

Rich finally took us to his office and Max settled down at the desk and made himself at home.   We attach a couple of pictures and a short video documenting Max's first day at The Office. 

Friday, May 23, 2008

The home stretch

Max has been sick since last weekend and was diagnosed with strep throat on Tuesday.  It's Friday afternoon as I write and I am hoping that the both of us have turned a corner and are on our way to feeling good again.   It's been seven straight nights of painfully interrupted sleep for all of us.  Rich has been on the sofa bed since Sunday as Max has ended up in bed with me.  Thus I have been tortured by coughing spells, perpendicular sleeping, and inconsolable cries in the night for Elmo.  Poor Max has not eaten much since Saturday (except milk) and I am going nuts worrying about his weight and nutrition.

Max has an English speaking pediatrician who went to school in the US. (I believe he is Korean.) When we went to see Dr. Che, he took a look at my throat too but said it didn't look like strep. 

I suppose like many kids Max hates taking any medicine.  Giving him any sort of medication requires a vice grip and then I have to essentially lock his head in my armpit.  (I am doing this solo as Rich has been out for the past three nights.)  ((This is not a criticism, just a fact.))

Last night he only woke up once.  The fever has abated and he has started eating again, or should I say nibbling.  Six more days of antibiotics left.  I'm hoping he will be able to go to school next week and that he'll be better by next Friday - - - his BIRTHDAY  - - - knock on wood.  Being healthy again will definitely be something to celebrate.  So will being able to see our friends and have a social life once more.  


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


This German/Dutch sounding toy store is actually Japanese.  Founded in 1981, its president is a Japanese woman now in her early 60s.  This is the kind of store where lots of stuff is made of wood and much of it is imported from Europe and Scandinavia.  You can buy adorable wooden food replicas, wooden puzzles, cars, trains and bikes, lots of beading and weaving, and you can spend hundreds of dollars on intricate contraptions where marbles go plinkety-plunk through a series of obstacles in a maze.  

A new Bornelund store just opened in Roppongi Hills so I can always walk over with Max when we are bored.  A couple of the stores also have fantastic indoor play areas and Max and I went to the one in Yokohama with new friends Fumie and Tamano.  It was a young kid's dream land. Geared for infants to age 5 or 6, there were tons of things to bounce and climb on, an area to ride bikes and trikes, ball pits, play kitchens, puzzles, trains sets, and jungle gyms.

Max really got into a super long bouncy runway and you can see him in the clip below.  We also spent time in a giant yellow bouncy station (kind of like at the county fair), where we flung ourselves at the walls and floor.  Then we tried rolling in a giant inflated tube.  Finally, Max cooked some grapes and chilled out a bit at the train table.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oops, he found the birthday present

So I was making dinner and Max was playing in his room (or so I thought).  Anyhow, suddenly I realized it was way too quiet so I went down the hall to check out what the boy was up to.  Not to be found in his own room, I poked my head in my bedroom and there he was on my bed with bits of wrapping paper surrounding him engrossed in his lovely birthday gifts from Aunt Allison, Uncle Don and Colin.  The look in his eyes when he saw me in the doorway was priceless.   A combination of guilt and glee.  

By the way, thanks for the book about poop.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The chopping block

For those of you who have marveled at Max's ever-metamorphasizing head of hair, I have news for you.  We had it chopped.  While utterly adorable, I was starting to get embarrassed by the shagginess (please see photos in previous posts). 

Dear friend Monisha (who has earned herself the title Auntie Mons) came over to wield her scissors.  Max was a champ and with Elmo in hand and a Little People DVD on the TV, he sat still almost to the very end. By the time we finished there was hair on Elmo and hair in his diaper but a new little boy had emerged.  I really like the cut and think he is just as cute if not cuter now.

And here he is!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The boy loves trains

The arrival of a subway train gives Max so much joy that Rich was determined to photograph him experiencing this glorious moment.  Whether underground or above, old-fashioned or bullet train, they all excite him.  Max will spend 10 minutes lying on the floor with his cheek to the carpet moving his "choo-choos" back and forth along the 20 inches of track that we have.  (We'll be purchasing more track for his birthday.)  

Oh, I am in these pictures, too.

Maplewoodians Unite!

So on Monday of Golden Week, we finally got to meet the other Maplewood family (that we know of) living in Japan - the Kasdans - quite famous for their own blog.  Mike, Ilena and their kids Jacob and Lauren are living in Kobe for a year and packing a ton of adventure into their 12 months here.   

They good-naturedly schlepped to Roppongi Hills and we had a fantastic morning together. We immediately hit it off and the kids fell all over each other.  Since they had to catch their flight back to Kobe that afternoon, we hung out for a bit and then made haste to ascend the 54 story Mori Tower which is part of the Roppongi Hills complex.  The 360 degree view of Tokyo was astounding.  And climbing further up onto the sky deck/helicopter pad was even crazier (and windy).

Here are Lauren, Jacob and Max with a view of Tokyo behind them. 


Here's are some shots of the kids coloring fish scales.  (The carp is a symbol for Boy's Day which was May 5th.  Like salmon, carp apparently swim upstream and therefore symbolize strength.)

Then we got in line to go out on the sky deck.  Rich was holding my purse (since I was carrying Max) and was made to put it in a plastic bag. We are unsure why but as he only person we saw carrying a plastic bag, it must have been some sort of punishment. 

We got a few pictures up at the top.  Max desperately wanted to run around but I had to keep a hold of him as we weren't allowed off the wooden deck and into the heliopad area.

Maplewoodians Unite!

Friday, May 2, 2008

I just had to post this picture of Max and Rich at the Shinagawa Aquarium.  Can you see the resemblance?  We went two weekends ago and Max, as expected, really loved the fish.  There is a giant glass tunnel that you can walk through and see the fish swimming around and above you which was a lot of fun.  Rich and I agreed that the dolphin show was a bit lacking in drama and degree of difficulty.  Max spent a lot of time on Rich's shoulders and here they are.  I also share another picture of Max crawling outside.  I can finally cross this developmental milestone off the list.

Max has also taken to pushing his own stroller. 
(Had to add another picture as the sweater is so cute.)

Max and Taiga

Here are a few pictures of Max and his friend Taiga from two recent outings.  With Rich away in New York for a week, we made ourselves very busy and went out with Taiga and Mom Sayuri on three occasions.  First, Skip Kids Cafe which has the big ball pit and play kitchens.  It's a place where kids can play with the staff and parents can sit back and actually finish a cup of coffee.  And then the National Children's Castle which is a huge multi-story indoor playspace with jungle gyms, playrooms, art space and music space, theaters and more.  

I could not resist filming Maestro Max at the keyboard.  
Nanu, please take note!