Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Eeeeeek!" and Other Happenings

Monica is just so two-and-a-half right good ways and challenging ways. We're having a lot of fun doing projects together, like coloring, making birthday cards and baking bread. Like most toddlers, she's really curious and loves to touch and taste everything, as evidenced by the picture of her below, after she got into the whole wheat flour and decided to eat handfulls of it...weird. This time is also challenging because she is becoming a lot more verbally creative and also a lot more creative in her defiance. Yet, I'm frequently reminded that she still needs to mature in communication skills. We still experience some really cro magnon-like moments. Lately, in our house, when the going gets tough, the tough get screaming. Monica's been a shrieker since she was four months old, and we're going through one of those phases again. Whether she needs to transition out of playing with a toy, to eat, to sleep or just can't get her slippers on, there is often ear-piercing, blood-curdling screaming. We're working on directing her toward other frustration-outlets, but it is a process, and it seems pretty slow sometimes. Monica has also taken a lot more interest in James lately, probably because he has taken a lot more interest in her toys! He is still not crawling or scooting, so he can't do a whole lot to defend himself when she comes at him to take whatever he has, besides screaming and waving his arms. And he does a lot of that while Monica is putting him in one of her vice-grip hugs around his head or neck. (Another skill to work on: appropriate and gentle affection.) But just the other day, we were at the local hands-on museum and I realized how quickly she is growing and changing. The way she can run and jump and play now, compared to even just after James was born is amazingly more complex. I am so grateful and humbled to be a part of my children's lives, even in the tensest of shriek-laden moments.

A Few Extras

I found a few extra shots from Kevin's trip to Japan that I had to share...

"Welcome to Nara" says funny antler-wearing Buddha

Don't mess with this guy.

Locust ala soy sauce...mmmmm...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Here's a little something to make you smile. I love the sock puppet narrator.

I also love that this is a "flannelgraph." Totally reminds me of Sunday School and learning Bible stories with huge flannel boards and little flannel people stuck to them.

h/t to Kresta in the Afternoon

"Delicacy" of the Week

Kevin's Japanese colleagues have made a side show of sorts out of getting Kevin to eat strange, and often disgusting, food when he is in Japan on business. This trip's delicacy: dried locust drenched in soy sauce. For the record, they weren't able to find a restaurant that served the little insects. They had to order them online and bring them to the restaurant. Apparently, locust is not typical Japanese fare.


Kevin pretty much knew what was coming, but I think the blindfold gave everyone more of a thrill. Just thinking about crunching a bug between my teeth makes me queasy.

To donate to the earthquake and tsunami effort:

Catholic Relief Services

The Red Cross

Salvation Army

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kevin's Status, Life on the Homefront, and Greedy Deer

I've had a few calls and emails from people concerned for Kevin's safety and our peace of mind over the past few days, so I just want to let you all know that he's still safe and sound. Maybe a little tired from putting in a lot of hours at work, though.

Life at home has been really busy. I didn't realize how much Kevin helps out until he's not here helping out! It's a lot of work to take care of these two little turkeys and keep the house relatively picked up and in order by the time I go to bed. On the go from dawn til dusk, except for a nice little snooze in the afternoon, courtesy of coinciding naps (Cue the rejoicing angel choir music.)

It has been difficult watching the nuclear reactor accident unfolding, since it is perilous and it also has an affect on Kevin's work. The incidents in Japan are having and will continue to affect nuclear policy and attitudes toward nuclear power in the US, for better or for worse, and I can't help but be concerned about job security and the future. I must admit I've been obsessing over the grim headlines blaring all over the world wide web. (Darn that whole infinite-information-at-your-finger-tips-24-hours-a-day feature of the internet!) But for now, I'm just praying they are able to solve the problem at the plant and keep everyone safe. There is more than enough sorrow and tragedy in Japan right now.

On the lighter side, Kevin sent me some pictures from his trip to Nara over the weekend. Here is some basic info about its history:

Japan's first permanent capital was established in the year 710 at Heijo, the city now known as Nara. As the influence and political ambitions of the city's powerful Buddhist monasteries grew to become a serious threat to the government, the capital was moved to Nagaoka in 784.
Nara is located less than one hour from Kyoto and Osaka. Due to its past as the first permanent capital, it remains full of historic treasures, including some of Japan's oldest and largest temples.

Bronze Buddha statue from 700 AD. It used to be plated in gold!

This is the temple housing the Buddha, built in 800 AD. It was rebuilt 2 times and is the largest wooden structure in world.

This is the entrance gate to the above temple. Note random deer in the foreground. Kevin said that there are many of these deer at the temple site. They are tame and eat little pellets right from your hand...or they may just try to find a snack in your back pocket or bag as well!

Speaking of eating...Kevin will be eating some more strange food in the coming days and I'm sure he'll send me pictures. Warning: you may not want to eat before reading the next post!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Other Side of the World

As family and many friends know, Kevin was scheduled to go to Japan on business. And, just to clear up any questions, he did go and he is safe. While much of Japan has experienced after shocks and waves from the larger, 8.9-on-the-richter-scale earthquake, Kevin flew into much further south into Kansai with a final destiation of Kobe, which is just west of Osaka. Kobe is also on sheltered shoreline, so it is not a location at risk for tsunamis. So, in short, Kevin and his colleagues are safe, which gives me piece of mind. It is always hard to see him go on these long trips, but it was especially difficult this time, with questions about the disaster(s) unfolding as he flew away.

The kids and I talked to Kevin over video chat this morning and he's doing well, though he was pretty tired after a long journey. Here is a picture of Mt. Fuji that he snapped while on the plane. The passengers on the other side of the plane were able to see some of the earthquake aftermath, which is obviously quite severe in some areas.

Please be sure to keep those who lost loved ones, homes and businesses in your prayers. Here are some organizations involved in the relief effort as well, if you care to donate or keep tabs on how that is going.

Catholic Relief Services

The Red Cross

Salvation Army

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Fat Tuesday

I won't be eating those famed paczki, but this dairy free indulgence is no less than fab.u.lous. Mmmmmm...