Friday, December 30, 2011

On love and loss

Today, I lost a friend. 

Precious children lost their mother.

A mourning mother lost her child. 

Old friends lost someone who was like a sister. 

A husband lost his wife.

I have known this friend since we were in elementary school. When we were in the fifth grade a group of us would all wear wind breaker suits to school on Fridays, so we would match. In middle school she would defend me when people would tease me about my mom. In high school we would have sleep overs and stay up, literally, all night talking about the existence of God. I named my first dog that I had on my own Oakley after her family dog. 

After graduation we grew apart, as so often happens. But then came FaceBook.

As cliche as it sounds, we reconnected and became close once again. At this point we were both mothers. We went through pregnancies together. Her youngest two children are the same age as my children. We would lament about parenting over emails. We would joke about the tantrums, the mess, the sleepless nights. She was and IS one of my biggest 'mommy role models'. 

There were times with Noah that I just did not know what to do. I knew that I could email my friend and she would have a suggestion. She was supportive, understanding and encouraging. 

But she was struggling and I didn't see it. 

My heart is broken for her family and her children. Those children... it makes me sick to think of the sadness this will leave in their lives. 

But something amazing has happened, through all this sadness. Friends are rallying around one another, saying prayers and offering genuine support and words of love. I am blown away at the outpour that has taken place for my friend. 

And this makes me want to be certain that all my friends, the old and the new, know that I am here. Did my friend know that all she had to do was ask and I, without hesitation, would have been there? For any of my friends, I would be. 

I love you, friend. You are dearly missed. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It is the mold that binds us

Living in a foreign country is tough. Even though we have been here for 3+ years it is all still so foreign. 

I see my neighbors, Japanese women with children just a few years older than mine. They are trimming the bushes and thoughtfully sweeping up every leaf and branch off the street, placing them in plastic bags to be disposed of on their designated garbage day.

Do you know how intense trash and recycling is here in Japan? Intense. Burnables, PET bottles, other plastics, tin, other metal, glass... not to mention any household items or yard waste that you might want to dispose of. Plastic labels removed from containers, cereal and milk boxes broken down. And all put neatly into a clear plastic bag and taken to your designated trash area on the designated day.

The realtor gave us a calendar letting us know when to take which items out for the sanitation workers (glass is only collected twice a month?! this makes us look like incredible winos). So once we translated said calendar and made an attempt to remember what days to dispose of which items, off I walk up the hill through our neighborhood to make our deposit. Lugging our huge Hefty size clear bag. I drop it off with our neighbors trash, tiny things the size of grocery bags. I smile at a neighbor who is wearing an apron, thoughtfully nodding as she turns away, shuffling back to her house where she then starts hanging the laundry outside to dry.

We recently had a run in with some mold issues at the house. With the temperature dropping outside we get condensation on the metal window frames. Because of this we get mold. Upon further investigation I found the mold inside the AC wall units as well. After exchanging emails with the realtor, who at first seemed to indicate they would not do anything to help remedy this issue, we had an inspector from on Base come take a look at the problem.

The inspector came with an agent from the realtor company. He spoke (from what I could tell) perfect Japanese and was able to translate for us. They finally agreed to have the AC units professionally cleaned and then offered tips on how to cut down on the humidity in the house.

The whole exchange got me thinking: at what point will living here become easy? Every single day is somewhat of a struggle. Just everyday things. Like the trash. Or the laundry (don't get me started on the damn laundry). How do these Japanese housewives do it?

The realtor explained that when the Japanese clean they open the windows, no matter the season, to let in fresh air. They only heat the rooms that they are currently in, when they are in them. This helps lessen the amount of time there is a temperature difference between inside and out. They also wipe the condensation whenever it is there.

How do these women find the time to do it all? My laundry is always piled, the trash and recycling is always piled up, the condensation is ALWAYS there... I suppose if I had grown up in this Country doing certain things it would be second nature. But being an American living in Japan is just plain hard for me. I try to assimilate as best as possible. And it's not like it is torture. But it is hard.

Did I mention the shower rooms and toilets? Have you ever cleaned a bidet?

That's a whole other post all together.

So I see my efficient neighbors tackling their condensation before it turns to mold, clipping the hedges while using a level to ensure a straight line... meanwhile I am googling natural ways to rid your house of mold and trying to figure out how the hell to turn on the dehumidifier on the Japanese AC wall unit.

Monday, December 19, 2011

One in a MILLION

Noah is three years old! 

We had a day full of Noah`s favorite things. Bacon and blueberries for breakfast, swimming at the indoor pool on Base, ramen for lunch and then running around at the park.

I found the perfect recipe for a perfect chocolate cake with the perfect buttercream frosting. Once we were home from all the above activities Noah zonked out for a nap and I began to prep for the cake. Only to find I was low on sugar. Must have been all the muffins and pies and hot fudge sauce I had made the following week. Best laid plans, right?

So I made Noah an ice cream sundae with the aforementioned hot fudge... complete with sprinkles. I toped it with a candle and we sang. His face lit up. He blew out the candle and was so pleased with himself, he asked for the `hot again?`. So I re-lit the candle. He blew it out again. This repeated until there was no more candle left to burn. 

What kid looks over an ice cream sundae WITH SPRINKLES?! 

We have one unique three year old. 

Every day I am reminded of just how unique and special my Noah is. I know every parent thinks that and it is so cliche to say, but I just adore his little idiosyncrasies. 

He has an attention to detail that could rival some adults. He can memorize lines from a movie after watching it a single time (even though you might not understand it when he recites it). He is sensitive to the emotions of others. He understands and uses pronouns (!) but can not say his own name. He is creative and funny and sweet. He is different from any other three year old boy I know or have known. He is just a perfect version of his three year old self. As frustrating as it can be to have a child with a speech delay, I would not trade him for anything. It has helped him to fine tune so many other gifts and these gifts make for one unique kid. And, really, can you imagine me having a `normal` kid?! 

Happy birthday, sweet little bird! 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Check me out

Aren`t I all pretty? My wonderful sister gave my blog a face lift for me. I know how to write a post, but that is about as far as my techy skills go when it comes to blogger. And my love of chevron knows no end. Thanks, sis!

The test I had to see if  my superior vena cava was closing back up came back negative! Woo hoo! So that means the worse case scenario is not so. Just have to figure out what is going on in there that makes me feel crummy. The next step is to check my pacemaker. More to come on that... 

Pretty blog WITH CHEVRON, wide open veins, no open heart surgery in my near future... life is looking up, folks. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Turtle and a Moo

We have several nicknames for our wee ones. They have evolved as the kids get older, until the next thing you know we are calling Noah Turtle and Amelia Moo. 

The evolution of Noah's nicknames:



Noaster-poster-postumous (there is a song that goes with this one)






Bir Bir


Burschel the Turtle 


We most often call him Bird or Turtle. 

The evolution of Amelia's nicknames:







Her list is shorter because she is younger, obviously. And none of hers have a song to accompany them. Poor second child. I need to get to work on a song, what sort of mother does not have a crazy nickname with accompanying song for their 4 month old?! But you can't force these things, people. Nicknames (and songs with the nicknames) need to happen organically. You just can't start calling someone Moo out of the blue. That's weird. 

A Turtle, a Moo and their Mom.