Monday, September 9, 2013

Summertime roundup

Hello, humble blog! I decided to take the summer months off from blogging; with the lack of routine for the kids and no real set 'alone time' to think and write, I just could not eek out a post. 

To be honest, nothing spectacular happened this summer. We were gleefully without schedule for most of the time. Noah participated in swim lessons a for a few weeks but other than that we had no commitments.

We spent almost every day up at the pool. I remember, when I was younger, we would head to the pool before it opened for swim team practice and stay until the last whistle blew in the evening. Noses tinted with zinc, bellies full of PB&J, pretzel sticks and Capri Sun (summertime staples around the pool). It's nice to experience a version of that with my own kids even though we are living in Japan. Side note: there are barely any outdoor pools in Japan! Who knew?

We also spent a lot of days at the beach. Zushi beach is a short train ride away from where we live. A few shovels and buckets and the kids would be set for a few hours, needing me only to revel in their latest sand castle creation, then off to splash and play on their own. Perfectly sandy, salty and sleepy at the end of our visit, who doesn't love the beach at summertime! 

The pictures above were taken at the beginning of the season so there were not a ton of other beach goers. The season gets in full swing with the construction of infamous beach huts; basically beach bars right on the sand that they build (and tear down) at the start (and end) of each season. I ventured to the beach solo one weekend to catch some rays and experience the scene; it is straight out of MTV Spring Break. The reserved Japanese Nationals that you pass on the street or see on the train seem to strip themselves of all cultural constrains and really let it all hang out. Literally. Many a banana hammock sporting fella going for a jog along the water line. Japan is such a beautiful contradiction within itself; stoic, strong and reverent to boisterous, colorful and a little bit crazy. It's unlike any place I have ever been in the States. 

Along with the beach, Zushi also hosts several quaint shops and fun restaurants. One of our favorite adventures is to hop on the train and stroll around Zushi. The kids each get a few 100¥ to pick out a prize from the Diaso (the Japanese version of the dollar store, only more amazing!) and we always stop for ice cream at Moo Moo's. Moo Moo's would have a line out the door in the States. Understated in such a fantastic way, they serve three flavors a week. Vanilla, the 'flavor of the week' and swirl. The featured flavors range from salted caramel to chocolate, banana to mango, black sesame to green tea. The kids look forward to this every time I suggest taking the train to Zushi. My favorite part is all the fresh produce vendors, who house the freshest and best priced goodies that are in season. Although the peaches will leave you penny-less (or yenny-less, as it were). Mo mo's (Japanese for peach, who knew?!) grown in Japan are juicy, sweet and worth the price. From Moo Moo's to mo mo's, trips into Zushi were certainly a highlight of our summer. 

Most of my summer days were simply spent with these two little cherubs. They are the best of buds. I honestly do not know what I did right to foster such a sweet relationship, but they get along so well. I would be lying if I said I wasn't waiting for the proverbial 'other shoe to drop' in that department, but for now, they are thick as thieves. And Amelia idolizes her big brother. She keeps right up with him in his superhero play and outdoor exploring. She has no concept of how little or young she is in comparison. And Noah is the quintessential protective big brother. Don't let me fool you; they certainly have their moments of classic bro vs. sis screaming matches. But at the end of the day they would rather snuggle one another than strangle, and I consider that a major win. 

Summertime means having the extra time to earn my badge of 'Mother of the Year'. A few evenings we would stroll up to the campgrounds and one special night we made a fire and s'mores. Noah still talks about this night, acting it out when he and Amelia are playing. When I have treats like this for the kids, the sky's the limit. He roasted till his heart was content and subsequently ran the entire one and a half mile back to our doorstep and into a warm bubble bath. Another summer evening we joined a few other moms and kiddos for a firefly hunt, again up at the ever popular campgrounds. It's evenings like these that define summer for me. No rules, out past bedtime, making memories. 

Also, a carrot pooping hippo. No schedule means having the time to create whatever off-the-wall combo Noah comes up with. I am fairly certain that he assumed I would not be able to deliver with this request.... 'I want a pooping hippo mom, can you do it?'. Why, yes, yes I can. 


And so the season ends. Summer is over and we are back to school, Pre-K to be exact, and are embracing our newly (re)found schedule. Noah is still in the PSCD (preschool child development) program here at Ikego where he receives speech therapy; I adore every single teacher and professional that works with my little dude. I will be writing more about his progress and the sort of things we have been working on but suffice to say, Noah is a sponge these days and surprises me daily with how he displays his gifts and talents.

Amelia is a true and tried TWO YEAR OLD. Struggles and joys daily. She is so different than Noah was at this age and forces me to flex new parenting muscles that I didn't know I had. Prepare yourself for these posts, if you dare. 

Bring on the pumpkin and cinnamon and roasts; we Rodenhizers are ready for Fall!