Friday, October 7, 2011


So the big thing I'm working on right now is the Mexican Booth at our school's annual food fair. All proceeds go to the school. Last year the money went to put fancy projectors/screens in the classrooms.

The Mexican Booth has not been done before. We are selling chicken tamales, margaritas, and chips and salsa. We've been working our tails off. Four of us are heading up the booth. Each lady has brought some strength into the group--leadership, organization, energy, and my recipe.

Things are running smoothly. And it's been so fun.

Tomorrow is our final day of prep. We will be making an additional 200 tamales on top of the 500 we've already made. I'll also be making cilantro dressing, we'll be putting chips and salsa together, and making final preparations.

On Sunday, we will be steaming and selling away.

I was just on campus this evening. It is busy with equipment people. Booths are being set up. It's going to be crowded, noisy, hectic, and fun.

I've been busy with that and packing the car with camping stuff today. Chris and the boys headed out towards Mt. Fuji to go camping with friends. I'm so bummed out it was the same weekend of the food fair but at the same time it's nice to be able to focus on the food fair without having to worry about them here.

I've been driving around here and there but usually close by. Today I ventured out a little further, mostly out of desperation, which has been the only reason for me driving here in Tokyo. I ventured out to a store called Aeon to pick up some camping stuff--stove, lantern, charcoal, etc. I had my new iphone and pulled up google maps to get me there and back.

I love, love, love my Iphone, my tamales, my new friends, our home, and our new life here. It's been tough, challenging, and busy and for some reason fun, exciting, progressive, and in the end rewarding.

ps.   I found this awesome tamale place in Mexico while I was looking for pictures of tamales.  Looks like they have an awesome product.  If I ever get a chance to go to Mexico again, I'm heading to this place for some unique tamales.

Since we're talking about food, here are some pictures I've taken of some yummy stuff we've had.

 Everyday, I have to make obentos for the boy's school lunch.  Up until recently school lunch wasn't offered.  Now they have a Monday/Friday option but it cost 600 yen per kid.  I opted out of that, but sometimes I kick myself for not signing up as you can imagine what my mornings are like.  An interesting side note...the boy's school does not have a cafeteria; they eat it their classrooms.
 I bought this donut hoping it was filled with yummy whipped cream;  However, it was filled with sweet beans instead. 
 Japan has mastered crepes.  It is dotted with  crepe stands.  My favorite so far....a crepe filled with a piece of chocolate cake, bananas, strawberries, and of course whipped cream.  Delish!!
 Some pastries.
 Udon with tempura.  Oh so good!
 Curry Rice

Have a Wonderful Weekend and Have something Crazy to eat!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


We moved into our new place on September 1st which was exactly the time I came down with Hand Foot Mouth Disease. No one else in the family got it. I've been busy unpacking and trying to get settled in all the while dealing with the boys and school. Someone told me once that expat families are busy. I get it now.

The boy's school is nearby; closer than our assigned school in Utah is to our home. It takes us about 10-15 minutes to walk there. We leave around 7:45 to drop Lolo off first. The other two boys continue on to their campus which is a short distance away. It seems that I barely have enough time and energy to do everything I need to do. Meetings, orientations, volunteer committees, after school programs, homework, dinner, park days, hanging out with friends, shopping (my biggest hassle), walking everywhere, figuring out the bus/trains, getting lost, paperwork, church/responsibilities....I need to breathe.

I found a new running partner. Actually I might have found my "Jen" replacement if that is at all possible. She has been such a great friend. Pretty much it's super easy to hang out, we're last minute runners,all we need is an email and off we are. It's perfect. Signing up for our first Japanese marathon...let's see how that goes. I'm in a quilting group and we're making a kimono quilt. We each make 12 squares and we trade. I'm also running the Mexican booth for a fund raiser for the school. We're making tamales, serving chips and salsa, and margaritas. It's a huge event. Unfortunately it's the same weekend that a bunch of people go camping (no church, general conference). Chris and the boys will be going without me. Jealous.

Chris has been called into the Young Men's presidency. Me...den leader for Vy. They start scouts early here. He's so excited he's a scout now. They're thinking about calling Chris to be the assistant scout master........I think it would be fun but seriously....the poor guy barely has enough time in the day to shower and brush his teeth.

Lolo is a popular kid at school..even among the parents..."oh he's so cute" or "he is such a good boy." He seems to be adjusting really, really well. He loves his tennis and golf class.

Vy loves school. "I wish school would never end." I'm so glad. Just downstairs, two girls who are in Vy and Toki's class, make life easier. Walking to school together is so much fun. Vy is taking fencing but he was so disappointed that the swords are foam!

Toki is excelling in Japanese. He has already caught up to his classmate who has been in Japan for 6 years. He is being integrated to the rest of the Japanese class next week. He's making friends, soaring in drama (who would have known), and being the same old, same old...."school is torture. It's the biggest waste of time." And yet he's doing well. I hear less and less that he hates Japan. Bless his heart.

We bought a car a couple of weeks ago. A 1999 Toyota Ipsum. It seats 7 without cargo space and 5 with cargo space. It looks like a wagon but they consider it a mini van. It has 60,000 km (about 38,000 miles). It cost Y200,000 ($2600). It's green. I actually took the boys home today from church and drove back for a meeting. It wasn't bad at all. But then again, I know the route really well. It will be a different story trying to get to Cosco. The steering wheel is on the right side. Everything is flipped...mirrors, signal handle, the side of the road to drive on. It's tricky but it felt good. I haven't driven in a few months. It was freedom and my feet didn't hurt when I came home from church. If you're wondering why cars are so month it needs an may cost an arm and a leg...but it will be good for 2 years. News cars don't have to go through it.

Our home has been rented out for a month now. They have 2 golden retrievers and they smoke: our worst nightmare. It was between them and a registered sex offender. Our neighbor kid (in his 20s) has been tattling on them and basically complaining about the barking and the second hand smoke. He said he would have preferred the sex offender. He bugs me. Inhale away and I hope the dogs keep you awake all night mortgage is being paid.

Cool roller slides

Leaving the onsen(baths)

kids playing with cousins

Boys seeing the apartment after getting home from school on September 1st.

Monday, August 22, 2011


The older two boys started school up last Thursday. Japanese class and homework has been thrown into the mix. This adds a different element into our daily routine. I was very nervous for them and so were they. Starting up a new school, in a new country is tricky. They came home happy though. It seems that the newness of it all is fun and they're excited as for now. They've had drama, music, computers, and Japanese all I could get out of them. Toki has 12 kids in his class. Vy has 14...7 boys and 7 girls.
We walk to school.  It takes about 15 minutes.  We recently picked up rain boots.  They are a necessity here just as snow boots were in Utah.
Chris has been able to join us for the first days of school since he was on a 2 week break.  But now he's back to the daily grind.
Umbrellas...another necessity.

Lolo started Kinder today. He has half days all week and then it turns into full days next week. "My stomach hurts because I'm starting school today," he said this morning. I'm glad he can connect the two. He and Toki react exactly like I do and did as a kid. Toki was complaining of the same thing last week.
Here's Lolo by his cubby.  He has to have a lunch and snack, extra shoes and clothes, a smock, backpack, and homework folder.  
And off to class he is.  It's a super cute school. 
One last picture before heading off.

How the first day went in his own words....

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Watermelon Popsicle have turned out to be a favorite.  Chocolate, crunchy pieces are in place of the seeds.  This was taken at Yoyogi park.  The boys and I hopped on a bus off of Roppongi dori.  We got off at the Shibuya Eki and walked up to the park.  This place has thousands and thousands of crows.
Visiting the Meiji Shrine next to Yoyogi park.
The bread to the right is very fluffy, yummy, extra-thick white bread.
Makes for great French toast.  I like them for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The boys playing sumo wrestlers.

Something Toki built with his nano blocks.  These are itty bitty lego like pieces.  They've become a favorite with this kiddo.
Origami is another fad the boys are in to.  We're in origami time out right now.  Too much wailing and gnashing of teeth in frustration.  The boys spent hours/day making stuff.  It was sweet and sour.
Vy is having grapefruit flavor popsicle.  The other two are having blue candy popcicle.
Hanging out at our local park.  This is the park that my MIL played at on Sundays growing up.
The boys on the bridge. 
Hanging out at the pool.  This one is located at a US embassy compound.  Some friends live there.

Toki's swimming skills not lost from last summer

Lolo eating Somen

 The price I pay for a nap

Taking a stroll through Arusugawa Koen

Monday, June 27, 2011

Impatiently Waiting

I'm waiting and waiting for so many things right now and I'm feeling impatient.

We found a couple of places walking distance from the boy's school, one of which we've submitted an application for.  I don't know if we'll get it but here's a link as to what it'll look like.

While searching for "furniture in Tokyo" online, I came across our apartment.  This was one on the second floor of the apartment building.  Ours will be on the 4th floor.  It has 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths and it will be remodeled and won't be available for a couple of months...I believe it's about 2000 sq. ft. 

I'm also waiting for our air freight to arrive, a few important emails and phone calls, a package, etc. etc.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


1.  We got an offer on our house in Sandy.  But it was a little low for what we want.  If someone doesn't step up by July 1st, it will be a rental for a couple years before we try to sell again.  By then our realtor fees will be paid for by the company.  So there's not a huge incentive to sell especially if it's not our asking price.
2.  We've been out house/apt. hunting  a couple of times.  I'm going out again this afternoon with our agent.  I found the perfect house.  I love it.  It's so awesome and trendy and in a beautiful residential area.  It's about 1 mile away from the boys school.  But because of the traffic it might be a hassle every morning.  It's a huge dilemma because it is such a wonderful house.  Back in Sandy, our kids attended a school 1 1/2 miles from our home.  It took me 3 minutes to take them to school and 5 minutes on a snowy day.  It's so crazy how many more people/cars we have to drive by here in Tokyo.
3.  On Tuesday the two younger boys were tested at the private school, something Toki was able to do back in the states.  Because he was accepted into the school earlier this year, 2 spots were reserved for brothers.  Lucky boys since there is a waiting line for Lolo's class and first grade.  I read that enrollment for international schools is down 20% but at this school, it is not the case.  They have almost the same amount of students returning who have already paid their tuition.  I was so worried that the boys wouldn't get in after their assessment.  It would have complicated things a bit...trying to find a new school/applying and looking for housing in a different area.  They both got in....having 3 kids get rare.  I'm ecstatic.
4.  The place we're staying at has the nicest workers.  The boys have been getting bites.  Their legs are covered.  It occurred to us, it might be bed bugs.  I checked the beds.....clean.  I checked the couch....gross.  This would explain why they were complaining of bites during the day.  They take the couch pillows off and jump on the nasty couch and get eaten alive.  Yesterday was a no couch day and therefore no new bites.  I however am a little paranoid about transferring bedbugs into our new place.  They were so kind to remove the couches and replace them.  They also ran out to get creams for the boys and apologized profusely.   Before we move........there will be a major day at the laundromat. 

5.  We've been here for a week and a day.  It's kind of a tough transition.  We walk everyone which is fine when the kids are not tired and whinny.  We don't have a car to go to Cosco.  We spend more on groceries than we would like and we have to go more often.  I miss Walmart.  I swear the taxi cabs are taking advantage of us... supposedly not knowing where a location is and taking the long way.  I miss grass.  No one smiles or says hi when you walk by....think how many times you'd have to say hi when you walk everywhere and when there are thousands of people doing the same thing.  We need to get settled quickly....set up swim lessons, find kid activities, before the summer is gone.  I suppose moving across the world and learning a new language and culture is adventure enough but I'm thinking about their soccer camps, pool time, etc. that they're missing.  And I've been too freaked out to go out for a run.  I guess it's only been a week. 

6.  We're over jet lag.  Waking up between 3 and 5 am was getting old.  The kids are now at 7 and 7:30.  I don't even mind 6:30am.

Our first trip to church on Father's Day

Train ride to church

Walking the rest of the way

about 30 minutes

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last day in Sandy, First day in Tokyo

Uncle Quin helped us clean the house on Tuesday.  Thanks so much!
Last minute goodbyes
Waiting at the airport
Getting on the airplane
Feeling spoiled in first class

Chris' family coming to pick us up at the airport and here they are trying to fit everything in.  We were allowed 3 pieces of luggage each.  We didn't use all of it.  But still a lot of stuff.
Temporary housing.  Has 3 bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a kitchen and nice size living room.  4th floor in Residence Akasaka.

master bath.  can't get the picture to rotate.  any suggestions?

We have finally made it to Japan.  It's rainy season here.  The weather is overcast and it's sprinkling all the time.   Lolo was the only kiddo who really slept on the 12 hour plane ride.  Vy did take a nap during the last hour of the ride.  On the way to the apartment, the boys crashed.  They woke up around 5am. We went on a walk at about 8:30am and then for lunch we hunted down a ramen shop.  We visited the little parks, cemeteries, and temples that we came across.  We also went grocery shopping.  Every where we go, we get stared at.  We've watched cartoons in Japanese and now the boys and Chris are out for another walk to look for some shops.  That is pretty much how we have spent our first day in Tokyo.