Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Work? What work?

I can take a hint. Some of you have been asking me about how my work is going. So to prove to you how hard I have been working, I have not blogged in four nights!

You imply that there is supposed to be something substantive to our year here--something other than sampling every 100 yen shop and conveyor belt sushi restaurant in Kyoto.

Or taking pictures of cute stuff that is posed outside of stores, like this thing:

Or this:

But so far nothing has been quite as cute as this baby, S-chan:

Her hair stands straight up off of her head...and see those leg warmers? Good thing they don't cover up her cute chunky thighs.

We bought three bikes from S-chan's parents--one for Darrin and one each for Alek and Hugo. The parents were incredibly nice....and the mom? Well let's just say that if I could do a homestay with her, my Japanese would be 10 times better by now. She is a great teacher. Among other things, she cared enough to tell me that I was asking if Alek could "try to read this bike" rather than "try to ride this bike. "

Another bike buying story--we got Max's bike (and a new basket for my Mama Chari--granny bike) from the bike store that is about 30 feet away from our house. But since we didn't find good kids' bikes there, we had taken the bus out to a place we had passed on our trip to Arashiyama. And as we're filling out the paperwork for the new bikes (and playing with S-chan), her dad says, "that's your street? I grew up on that street!!" Not only that, we had bought Max's bike from S-chan's granddad! So cool.

We made sure to invite S-chan's parents to visit our house the next time they come and see the grandparents. At least, I hope I invited them to visit our house. I might have invited them to visit our horse.....

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Let's spend a happy.

It was Alek and Hugo's birthday today!

At lineup, the whole school sings to birthday kids. Here they are singing to our boys on Friday morning.

The night before, Hugo and I worked on the cupcakes. This mix cost 788 yen at the International Grocery.

It was hard to calibrate our toaster oven, which is guaged in watts, not degrees.

But we figured it out.

We Skyped with all the grandparents while we opened presents. Almost everything was Lego....

The amazing secretary at work helped me order some Legos here. They arrived right to the 7-11 near our house! I also pre-paid to have them wrapped. (Darrin decided I was a genius at 10:30 Friday night, for having done this). Here was what was on Alek's wrapping paper:

Something extra special came in the box from Mum Mum:
Birthday lunch! Aahhhhh....

Around 2:30, we left to see Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavillion, in NorthWest Kyoto, and then out to a new conveyor-belt sushi restaurant for birthday dinner. This was Alek and Hugos' idea, the day before. (When it came time to leave, they didn't want to go see it anymore, but we made them leave anyway. We let them bring some Lego characters to sweeten the deal.)
Here's the entry gate.
A bell tower. Since it was their birthday, we paid Y200 to have each boy ring the bell.

have a video of this. The man is coaching us the whole time, kind of grumpy but also not. "No, like this." "get off the fence." "Pray first. Pray after. Like this."

And then, the pavillion:

They made the pavillion to look just like this Nanoblock model that Hugo got for his birthday. (Max put it together).

Bonus: We got there right at carp feeding time.
These next shots are just for Kurt.

The lego guys kept flying around the garden. They stopped to have a couple of battles.

Perfect little teahouse, with a cool roof.

Then, we walked 10 minutes to a conveyor belt sushi place for dinner (Alek and Hugo's request).

Every table had kids. See all the minivans in the parking lot?

And here's why. If kids eat five plates, they feed them into this slot. Then you play a little game (sumo, fishing, arrows) with Kura-Sushi-san, and then if he wins, you get a prize from the prize dispenser up top.

I think this is another reason the place is popular with families:

Predictably, Hugo left his Lego man at our table. We went back to look for it, but no luck. But as we were walking to the bus stop, one of the employees came running after us: "Okyakusama!!!" And she had his ninja warrior. Hugo was quite happy...
Alek got the tall seat on the bus home.

We played some more. We each decorated our own cupcake. We sang. We bathed. We cleaned up the tatami room. We blogged. We slept.

And that was Alek & Hugos 7th birthday!

Is it just me, or are my blogs getting longer and longer? Register your complaints below.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A day of Kyoto-ness

We had another holiday on Thursday. No school; some kind of moon holiday. The moon was full and bright...Shunbun no hi, I think they called it. You'll have to take my word on the moon--the photos didn't turn out.

Here are a few highlights.
First, I am normally a bargain hunter, but I had to spend the extra 100 yen to get this. Scented like? You guessed it!

I think this is what Hello Kitty uses in her own litter box!

Thursday was rainy. We went downtown to sanjo/shijo. The five of us in an MK taxi (Y740) is cheaper than the five of us on the bus (Y770). (That makes me smile.) We found some kind of promotional jail scene at a department store:

As well as a manga exhibit.

The department store (Loft) had a small display of Halloween stuff.
Later in Teramachi (a shopping street), we saw some very ugly geisha.

These pictures are for Mira-chan. Don't drool on the keyboard, Mira!

This is sanjo street bridge. The same river where the boys played on Monday; just further South.
Walking East on Sanjo. This is classic Kyoto...beautiful temple...

.... right smack next door to some commercial building. Zoning is not really a concept here. But you get used to it.

This is a canal walk in the Higashiyama area (Hugo and Dad were passing the time, while Max, Alek, and mom were meeting a possible piano teacher).

I'd venture that back in the US, lawyers would have put some railings on this footbridge.
Some restaurant seating.
More on the canal path.

This sign is saying "don't..." Don't what?

I will send a free sheet of Hello Kitty toilet paper to the first person who can identify this structure:
You get what you pay for with that 200 yen umbrella.
This sign says, "don't park your bike here...."Here's the Kamogawa river at about 6pm.
We ended up at an Indian place for dinner on Thursday. I caught this candid shot of Hugo slurping up the rest of the aloo mutter and aloo gobi. Count those spoons.

Yep, that's our boy! He also ordered the onion soup. Ate it all.

As I type, we're getting ready for a special day tomorrow....tune in Saturday for a full report!