Sunday, August 30

summer vacation part 5 of 6

thursday was yet another day of play for the children. shara-chan's mother took the boys and jason to this really great play area just outside of nara. a completely family oriented space and absolutely free; it made jason really miss living in a city.

i know vacations like this show how much children can alter a young couple's life: most of our peers who haven't started families spend their vacations comparing beaches in southeast asia, seeing how many countries they can visit on their eurorail passes. we like being able to give our children a fantastic experience and build memories that will stay with them, even when life isn't so kind. it feels like such an accomplishment to be able to present my children with the gift of travel that i don't need to be truly globe-trotting myself (right now). after all, they open up worlds unseen by my eyes for too long and for that i am grateful.

Saturday, August 29

summer vacation part 4 of 6

the kids seemed to have met wednesday full on, though i use the word 'seemed' because i was not present to witness their merry adventures. but i believe jason did a fair job in capturing the images of that day. a trip to see the great daibutsu of todaiji and a thorough exploration of nara koen, complete with cicada hunting. another wonderful day had by all.

Thursday, August 27

summer vacation part 3 of 6

maybe you didn't know this about sebastian but he has known a kindred spirit for a long time. he met the lovely shara-chan soon after moving to japan the first time and they remained in contact during the intervening years. having the two of them together again was a huge motivating factor to this trip. after the initial five minutes of shyness, they were back where they left off. it is amazing to watch them, both tall and gangly, speeding along like young antelopes. and yes, they held each others' hand the entire time.

for their first day together, her parents' invited us to go see the dinosaur exhibit in the neighboring city of osaka. there were fossils, and many robotic dinosaurs (that were very frightening according to one boy i know), and a long train ride home, back to nara and more green tea kakigori.

and then, after we were refreshed and the two littles of the group (shara-chan has a little sister about a year older than nico) woke up from their naps, we headed to nara koen, for space and lush green carpets of grass bordered by pines. and, of course, the deer (shika-san in japanese). the deer of nara are wild but tolerant of tourists, especially tourists bearing gifts of deer crackers.

at the end of our first day together, after a nice israeli dinner, we said good-night, knowing that tomorrow we would be reunited.

Wednesday, August 26

summer vacation part 2 of 6

We woke up the next morning (a little stiff and groggy) in Osaka. Umeda, to be precise. On a Monday morning. Right next to the major JR station. We had a few pieces of luggage and we told the boys to hold on tight. The waves of commuters overwhelmed us. Standing still in the sea of rushing workers, we made a decision. Let's just go to Nara now. We had planned to use the first morning to do some much needed shopping in Osaka but the thought of green, luscious Nara called to us. So forty-five minutes later, we arrived in the city that hosted us so well for two years.

We stowed our belongings in a locker and walked around in a haze of nostalgia. We walked past our old neighborhood, and through the arcade, and ventured just a bit into the great Nara Koen (koen means park).

Suddenly the world seemed alive with possibilities and we felt another whim come over us: Let's go to Kyoto. Kyoto had been scratched from our plans due to time constraints but having a little bit of time seemed better than none so we hopped on another train and away we went.
After spending too much precious time in the central shopping district (we were hunting a light baby stroller for Nico) we realized we only had a small ounce of it left. So we decided to go to the gardens at Heian Jingu Shrine.

They were a bit humble but richly layered, giving us a much need reprieve from the craziness of travel. We sat on the red carpeted tables of the tea house and enjoyed milky green tea kakigori (shaved ice) complete with azuki beans and white globes of mochi. Soon it was time to go, too soon. We made our way back to Nara and found our youth hostel where we were to stay for the next five nights.

Tuesday, August 25

summer vacation part 1 of 6

we had been planning this excursion for a long time. before we left the states in fact. it always seemed beyond our means or that we wouldn't have enough time. but this summer we were determined that we would go back to nara and the area of japan that made us fall in love with this country in the first place. being budget travelers with two small children, this took a lot of planning and even more hoping. we decided to travel by overnight bus from nagasaki to osaka and back to save on transportation costs with the added benefit of saving on hotel fees. the total for our round-trip bus tickets for four seats was the same as the price for one person to fly one-way from the gotou to osaka. the bus ride was long but not terribly uncomfortable, even at seven months pregnant. the boys slept well for the most part and it was pretty exciting to go to sleep in one place and wake up in an entirely different place.
of course, to get to the bus on time first we had to take a ferry from the island.

we ended up landing in nagasaki the night before departure because the obon holiday had overcrowded the ferries so there was no space left on the sunday we wanted to leave.

we showed up on saturday evening in the midst of one of nagasaki's biggest festivals, the shoro nagashi, something we hadn't even considered. it was loud and crowded and the street car wasn't running as we needed it to but it was equally fascinating and really exciting to be unexpectedly in the middle of such festivities. some nice lady gave nico some earplugs in passing (which were absolutely necessary) and we watched the slow procession of the living, escorting their deceased ancestors back to the spirit world. a good start to our trip.

the next day was sunday and we were to take a mid-afternoon bus to fukuoka to meet the overnight bus that would take us to osaka. i managed to get my hair cut and we ate a little bento picnic in the chinatown park before leaving nagasaki.

fukuoka was fukuoka, bustling and hustling. not much to be remembered from our short stop over, a quick play in a park, sebastian having a meltdown about something no one can remember now, another happy setto, and a long wait for the night bus to arrive. eventually we boarded and set off, with sebastian falling asleep almost immediately.

Monday, August 24

i didn't really mean for the ink to come out so pink. i was going for a blend of blue and pink, a purple, but my only blue was already light blue (水) so it came out a bit on the pink side. turns out though, it is appropriate.

So much, so good

We are so, so lucky. We had an a.m.a.z.i.n.g. journey to so many places in a short amount of days. So amazing. Now we are back and exhausted and up to our ears in laundry. Lots of dirty socks from days full of play. I am also busy uploading our photos to flickr so please head over there to see a little bit of our trip. It will be a while before I have titles and such but for now images will have to suffice. Look for a day by day post of our trip soon. Also, there is more news on the horizon but I want to share it in the best way possible so wait for it, please. Hope you are well. Take care.

Tuesday, August 11

Come Sail Away

We are leaving on a little adventure for a week. This Sunday we head off for the Japan that we know and love. There will be deer and old friends and trains and good food and, did i mention, deer. At the end of it, we will also have a bit of clarity about our future so wish us luck (me in particular). We'll be back here at the end of August. Enjoy yourselves.

Monday, August 10

Days of Summer:
Miyazaki films
art projects
grasshoppers, beetles, and cocoons hatching
sparrows in their nest on our front porch
kakigori (shaved ice)
a solar eclipse
the boys playing together as comrades, though still a bit like enemies too
watermelon and onigiri
sweating at midnight
stingrays breaking the river's surface

Sunday, August 9


I went to my birth practitioner yesterday. Still no firm idea if we are growing a Lucy or a Julius so I will just go on calling him/her Lucy Julius or Julius Lucy for now. I think the doctor is leaning towards a girl but since I was pregnant with Ingrid last time and ended up bringing home a Nicolai, I think she wants to be positive before sharing her educated guess. I did see the baby's face and feet and hands and learned that Lucy Julius is at a whopping 2 pounds now. I, on the other hand, only gained 0.4 lbs last months. I was heavily praised for this because last month I had gained a staggering six pounds. Personally, weight gain during pregnancy doesn't matter too much as long and I and the baby continue to be healthy. I was big with Sebastian and even bigger with Nico. With Sebastian it made sense as my major craving with him was fried chicken. With Nico though, I just wanted to eat ice. All. the. time. I haven't reached the craving stage with this one yet though I do like fresh tomatoes. Which, if you know me, is a little strange to witness after years of casting them off my plate like the devil.
After this I am entering into the third trimester so I get to go every two weeks. Hopefully one of those visits will give us a better glimpse at the baby's sexual identity. I've been considering why it matters so much to us. We like our babies either way (though Jason is definitely rooting for a girl this time) and we aren't making a nursery or worried about buying pink or blue. I think it is because of our language. If we don't know the sex, we are forced into using the pronoun "it" which is reserved for objects and animals. I think we like to refer to our children with either the "he" or "she" pronouns because it establishes a more human connection. And no matter how short the pregnancy is (in the grand scheme of things) it is important that we bond with our children from the start. Especially when we sometimes forget about the new baby since the ones that are already running around demand so much attention.
Anyway, we are going to be prepared with names for both genders this time. Right now, I like Lucia (Lucy) Colette or Julius Lucien. Lucia and Lucien mean 'light' which seems like a good name to buoy up this child through their life.

Friday, August 7


The August heat is assaulting us, beating us senseless.
We huddle inside in front of fans with sweating glasses of water at our sides. The sky is a perfect blue though and if I had the courage I would venture out to the sea where I could dive into the clear ionian blue waters and find some peace.
Instead, I keep my two pale ones indoors away from the threatening sun.
Nico is now lost in a sweaty sleep, surrounded by boxes yet to be sent to all the good people who have by this time forgotten about our promised gifts.

I asked Sebastian which season he preferred, summer or winter. He answered, summer. Why? I pestered.
Because it has the hottest days. Besides, he continued, it isn't winter right now.
If it was winter, would it be your favorite season?
Oh, yes. It snows then. I love it when it is really cold.
I see.

Sebastian occasionally leaves my side to play with the neighborhood kids. This is a big step in our lives, especially for Jason and me, to let Sebastian play unsupervised outdoors. But I think it is good for him. He gets to see how other kids live and uses his Japanese the entire time. And he is always within shouting distance so it is okay. Nico's heart is broken every time he realizes where Sebastian is going, though. He's become very possessive over his big brother during this summer holiday.

I am absolutely melting here. I am going to go take yet another shower and contemplate what I can make for dinner that doesn't involve heat or wheat.