Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Half a Year Already

Man, they're not lying when they tell you that time flies once you have a baby. I can't believe that Annelise turns six months old today.

Annelise Marie, when we tell you that you're a genius baby, when I sing 'Who's the smartest little girl in the whole wide world?', I'm not exaggerating by much. You have had a VERY busy month, growing and changing and learning every day. You are just as curious (nosy) as the day you were born, always looking around and taking in everything that you hear and see. You are very verbal and make sure that you are heard and that we are listening to what you have to say. You're getting closer to saying that magic word, Mama, I'm going to cry when it actually happens. We practice every day and I know that once you start, I'm never going to hear the end of it.

I am amazed when I look at pictures of you in the hospital just after you were born. You're just not the same baby anymore. You were so tiny then, now you have adorable rolls of fat on your arms and legs and you've gotten so tall that we had to move your jumperoo to the next height. Your bald spot is finally filling in, that's a huge relief to me. You still have a mullet, it's going to take the rest of your hair a long time to grow as long and as thick as that little patch on the back of your head. Your blue eyes and huge smile charm everyone we meet and my favorite part of you is your adorable baby belly. That's Daddy's favorite part, too, he loves smooching on you and tickling you and making you laugh. Your laugh is the sweetest sound in the world and your cry is so sad and pathetic that it breaks my heart.

You've become so adept at rolling around that we had to buy a play yard for the living room. Our house isn't set up for baby gates so you spend a big part of your day in the 'cage'. You love it there and sometimes one of us will crawl in with you to play. Between rolling and spinning and a little bit of scooting, you can get just about anywhere.

Over the last couple of weeks, you have gotten your first two teeth. They came through quickly, with only a couple of days' span between seeing one and it popping through and then another couple of days' span before the other one was through, too. They're not all the way in yet, but they sure are sharp. Your little 'puppy teeth' can leave quite a mark if you get ahold of my hand and I have to keep a close watch on you when you're eating.

You had your first bottle last week, I pumped and pumped to make a measly few ounces so I could leave you with Daddy during my OSC meeting. We had to do some experimenting to find a bottle that you liked, but we figured it out. You're not a huge fan of it, but you did take about half an ounce the night that I was out. Then something happened and the milk went sour, it may have been too long since I pumped it, but at least we know what to do now. I'm so grateful that I got that couple of hours out of the house on my own, I'm a much better mommy when I can get a little time to myself every once in a while.

Last week, we went to a play group at the Misawa International Center. We'll be going back twice a month, I like most of the people there and it gives you a chance to interact with other children. A little Japanese girl grabbed a toy from you this time, you grabbed it back later. And then, when I least expected it, you sat on your own! I didn't get very good pictures because I didn't want to move away from you out of fear that you would fall over, but I got some within the next few days. You're doing better and better, especially when you have a toy to play with. I still stay very close by, you tip over after 10-15 seconds, but I'm sure that it won't be long before you're off doing things like this on your own.

We've spent lots of time with friends this month, including two trips to the kimono shop and several cookouts. We went to lunch with some friends a week ago and one of the ladies working at the restaurant held you while Daddy and I ate. Aunt Lusa was worried when I told her about it, but you loved every second of it. Then later that day we met our neighbor across the street and she hugged you and loved on you and talked to you in Japanese about all sorts of things. I have no idea what she was talking about, but you seemed to enjoy yourself.

Yesterday was Memorial Day and since Daddy had the day off of work, we drove out to the beach. We slathered on the sunscreen and headed out, it didn't take very long to get there and was well worth the effort. The water was very cold, which you didn't like very much, but the sand is so dark that it's almost black and you liked squishing your fingers and toes in it. Some of our friends came along and brought their dog, you liked looking at Kona and watching her play fetch. She even licked your hand once, she left plenty of slobber and sand on your fingers. We plan on checking out the other beaches in the area, no swimming is allowed at the beach we went to this time because of the riptide. I've got some adorable swimsuits for you, I can't wait until it's warm enough to put you in them!

The next month is going to be lots of fun, baby girl, I can't wait to see what you learn next! We're also going to start letting you munch on some big-kid food, we'll see how that works out...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mother's Day

We've been up to quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, but I'll leave that till the monthly update on the 26th. This past Sunday was Mother's Day, we had lots of fun celebrating all weekend. On Saturday, we spent the day in Towada and went to the used kimono shop and a really nice recycle shop. We also spent some time just walking around and taking pictures. Two of the people we were with are photography enthusiasts, so we all served as models for the day. Annelise was an especially popular model, but we won't get copies of any of the pics until we see everyone again over the holiday weekend.

I had so much fun at the used kimono shop, and everything was made even better by the fact that John watched Annelise so that I could go in and shop on my own. It was so nice to dig through the piles and not worry about her grabbing things or getting fussy or whatever. Plus, the store is not very clean and one of the men who works there smokes. I will be taking her with me when I go back next month, but won't be staying inside for very long. The way the store is set up, there's a room upstairs with kids kimonos and summer kimonos for Y100 each. The adult kimonos up there are cheaply made and some of them have stains/holes/whatever. Then all of the kimonos/happy coats/obis that are downstairs are Y500 each. There was a room with summer kimonos and lots of happy coats (the shorter jackets), as well as under-kimonos that are basically Japanese underwear. Then there was a whole section full of boxes and boxes full of obis and then there was another section with some kimonos on hangers and a GIGANTIC pile of kimonos. I'm talking 8'x4'x3' high. I got two summer kimonos and one winter kimono for myself, as well as 5 or 6 obis, a kimono for Annelise to wear in a few years, and two summer kimonos for me to experiment with on sewing projects. My total was Y6500, which is roughly $65. When I go back, I want to pick up a couple more obis and a few winter kimonos for sewing projects. I bought patterns to make teddy bears and purses, and today while I was on base I saw some pretty obis or kimonos that had been framed. You can also take obi-tying classes to make really pretty wall-hangings and such. I would love to find an obi or kimono with butterflies on it and frame part of it for Annelise. I think that will be a great way to display kimonos and obis in my house that is also within my decorating style. The wall-hangings that you can make are really cool, but definitely do not fit well in my house.

On Sunday, John and Annelise each gave me a card. John tried to trace an outline of Annelise's hand in the card from her but it didn't work out well. Check the Shutterfly site for a picture of it, it's so cute! I also got a new book to read to her (last year I was about 12 weeks pregnant for Mother's Day and John gave me a book to read to Annelise while I was pregnant), a framed wall-hanging that says 'God Bless This Home' in Japanese, and I bought myself a kokeshi doll of a mother and child. We went to Mass, where Annelise was sweet and adorable and complimented by other moms and then we went to brunch at the Club. We met Shannon for brunch and got to eat with some other people we know from the squadron and their adorable kids. I'm in love with Jack, he's just over a year old and is in a very adorable stage; he blew kisses to us as they left.

After brunch, we made a quick trip to the commissary and then stopped by the house to pick up the brownies that I made the night before. We then drove over to Kim's house for a cookout and had lots of fun spending time with the same people we were with all day Saturday. I'm so glad that we have actual friends here that we actually hang out with that aren't from John's office or our neighborhood, people that both John and I like. We had lots of friends in Clovis, but for the most part they weren't OUR friends, they were my friends or John's friends. And we very rarely did anything with any of them as a couple, other than squadron or neighborhood stuff.

So anyways, my Mother's Day was wonderful. And it was topped off with a prize from John's mom, she sent a Paula Deen cookbook and a Japanese phrase book! I'm not sure why we didn't buy one of those before we moved here, but they're always out at the bookstore and sometimes pantomiming just doesn't work.

I hope all of my Mommy friends had a wonderful Mother's Day, I miss you guys.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Today we went on base to check the mail and run by the B/X. While we were there, we ran into Nomi. I met Nomi last week at Kim's house and she is the first Japanese person that I actually know that I've run into while out and about. Our real estate agent doesn't really count, he was running a booth at the bazaar in March. And it wasn't just 'hi, how are you', Nomi stopped to tell me that the International Center playgroup is cancelled this week. While I'm sad that we'll miss out on the playgroup, it made me very happy that I'm making friends and seeing them all over!


Annelise and I went to Hirosaki today for the Cherry Blossom Festival. We went on a bus trip organized by the base, it was nice being able to just ride along instead of figuring out directions and dealing with paying tolls.

This is the tail end of the blooming season so most of the trees were already green. We found a few patches of still-blooming trees, they were so gorgeous. The day started when we got off the bus. We walked through a small market and of course there were people handing out samples of whatever food they were selling. I snatched a piece of apple and then ended up eating some sort of tentacle. I was distracted and the sample was in my hand before I could say no, so I had to eat it. The flavor was ok, but the texture was not fun. I made it a full three months in Japan before eating anything with tentacles, I'm pretty impressed.

When we got to the park, we walked around a little, taking pictures of the different kinds of trees. I had someone take a picture of the two of us in front of a blooming tree and then another pic of us through a hollow tree. It's a really cute picture, check our Shutterfly site to see it.

I fed Annelise and then we wandered around the park for a while. She ended up falling asleep in the stroller and I used the handy-dandy blanket clips to hold her blanket up so she'd stay warm. I also used the plastic stroller-protector to keep out the raindrops (it only sprinkled). Japanese people have a gadget for everything, I love it!

We didn't actually go into Hirosaki Castle, there were stairs and I didn't want to wake up Annelise to take her out of the stroller. I found out later that the stairs inside the castle were pretty steep, so I'm glad we skipped it. We wandered the castle grounds and looked at Mt. Iwate, which is the tallest mountain in Aomori Prefecture.

By this point I was very hungry, so I grabbed a very yummy donut before searching for more food. I eventually found the area set aside for food and souvenir vendors, but encountered my usual problem here in Japan: I don't read Japanese and therefore have no idea what the different foods are. There were various foods on sticks (apparently this is a universal festival food, along with cotton candy), as well as yakisoba and some other yumminess. I skipped the yakisoba, I can get that anywhere, and went for the potato on a stick. The spiral-cut a potato and then stuck the stick through it, spreading out the spirals so that when they fried it, everything was browned. There were 6 topping options, all in powder form. I bypassed the BBQ and mayonnaise options and chose the seaweed/butter/salt sprinkle. Potato on a stick is yummy, I highly recommend it. Then I bought a Coke and a roasted ear of corn to round out my lunch. Yeah, that's really well-rounded.

On our way back to the bus, I stopped and bought a Kokeshi doll with cherry blossoms pained on it as well as some flip-flop socks. You know, the socks with space between the big toe and the other 4 toes so you can wear them with flip-flops. Not all that fashionable, but oh, so Japanese.

I had lots of fun today and am very proud of getting out and doing something without John. If I spend all my time at home while he's out of town, I will go very crazy very quickly. Annelise was well-behaved, let's hope she does as well when we go on the ferry tour next month!

Again, check ajminear.shutterfly.com for pictures from today as well as some cute pictures of Annelise from the last month.