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December 31, 2014

Wrapping up 2014

Family, Life, Reflections, Updates

This year has been quite the roller coaster year. I definitely didn’t see the year coming to an end on the down side though. Here’s a quick recap of how our year went…

January started off with a lot of festivities with friends from E’s school. We enjoyed a Japanese New Years dinner followed by a Epiphany celebration a few days later.

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Then we had snow. Lots and lots of it.

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Oh, and K starts walking!

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In February, we celebrated Chinese New Years with friends. We also celebrated K’s 1st birthday and squeezed in a trip to Tokyo Disney before E turned 5 in early March.

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There was a sports day event followed by a school birthday party where E got a pretty cool My Little Pony cake. We also took part in the science fair at E’s school and then spring break happened.

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My in-laws visited us in April and we got to see cherry blossoms with them. Then K started going to daycare part time so that I could get things done at home. Putting her in daycare was a good idea since we found a new apartment in a different school district and I had to clean and get rid of things before the move.

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I also organized a very big get together with other moms from a facebook group I am a part of. It was pretty epic and something I don’t know if I can pull off again on my own.

June was a big month since it was E’s Kindergarten graduation. Lots of proud moments there. Jason and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary and we tried to make the most of the apartment we lived in before moving to our new place in July.

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July was busy since it was the month of unpacking. E was also home for the summer and we found ourselves getting an annual pass to Legoland and playing at the splash pools nearby.

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I sent E to summer school in August for a little just so I can have some peace and quiet. The summer ended with us being able to invite friends over to our new place for a play date for the first time ever. I love playing hostess :)

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September meant the start of E’s last year of kindy before she starts Japanese elementary in April. We also had to say goodbye to out dear friends who moved to Hong Kong.

Then everything came crashing down at the end of September when I found out that my grandmother was hospitalized and later sent to a nursing home where she went through elderly abuse. A week after she moved to a better nursing home, she went into a comatose state where my family discovered she has had a growing brain tumor on her skull that she hid from the family for the past 3 years. It was because of the swelling caused by the tumor that led to her comatose state.

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I flew back immediately with K to be with my family for most of October. It was heartbreaking to see my grandmother but I got to spend time with her even though she never regained full consciousness again. At least I know she knew I was home because she moaned and cried when she heard me.

The live-in housekeeper that has been with Jason’s family for over a decade also had a sudden decline in health and passed away in October. I was able to attend her funeral while I was home.

Jason and E also made it back to LA to see my grandmother for a week and we flew back to Tokyo together.

We were able to come home and go to E’s school’s Halloween parade and even had a big play date at our home with a bunch of her friends and their parents.

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November was a bit calmer and we were able to host a nice Thanksgiving dinner for our group of friends from E’s school. We also had another farewell party for another family we knew who left for Germany at the end of December.

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December started off with our last Winter Carnival at E’s school (I’ll post up videos later). Then suddenly on the 9th, my grandmother passed away and we found ourselves coming back to LA a few days earlier than planned.

December has been filled with funeral related things since my grandmother’s funeral happened 3 days before Christmas. We’ve been spending time with both sides of our families for the past 2 weeks since then.

And all throughout this year, I’ve had wonderful mama’s night outs with a group of wonderful ladies I’ve had the privilege of knowing and Jason has gone out with several dads a few times too. There were also plenty of play dates at our friends home before they moved too.

So there you have it. My year in a nutshell. I never would have imagined that this December would be so depressing…. I’m truly hoping for a good 2015 for my family after all that we’ve been through the past few months….

I hope everyone has a safe new year!

December 8, 2014

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Family, Life

It’s been several years since Jason and I really celebrated Thanksgiving, even longer since the last time we celebrated with more than just 4 people. It always felt a little sad celebrating it in Tokyo without our entire family since I’ve always celebrated Thanksgiving with a big and loud family get-together and more food than we could eat.

This year, since we’ve moved to a bigger place where we can actually invite guests over, we decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner party at our home and invite a few of the families we’ve come to know really well from E’s school.

And I have to say, it was insane and pretty epic in my book.

When our friends, Sarah-Jane and Frank, still lived in Tokyo, they use to host really nice parties and invited a lot of friends over. It was really great especially for the parents since we all got to talk and get to know one another better than the usual greetings and small talks when we pick up our kids after school. I always enjoyed and appreciated those get-togethers. When we moved to our current home, I wanted to be able to do something similar, especially since our friends moved to another country and most Japanese homes do not have the space to host large gatherings like the one we’re accustomed to at Sarah-Jane’s place.

We held one playdate on a weekend so that dads and our working mom friends could also join. It was madness with the kids running amuck but they had fun and so did all the parents.

That was when Jason and I decided that maybe we should host Thanksgiving dinner and invite everyone over again. Thanksgiving is pretty much just an American holiday and many of our friends have never experienced it before or ever eaten turkey. Once we found a restaurant that sold cooked turkey, we sent out our invitation and pretty much everyone accepted.

That’s when we realized that maybe we were in over our head.

Our home technically isn’t very large. It just looks and feels large because of the layout of the apartment. There are no hallways and the kids room open up into the living room via sliding doors. We have one of those Ikea dining tables that extends but even then, we did not have the number of chairs and tables for everyone to sit down and have a nice dinner.

There was also the thing about cooking Thanksgiving dinner. We had never cooked a real traditional Thanksgiving dinner before since my family always did an international potluck and Jason’s dad cooks everything in their house. So it would be our very first time cooking Thanksgiving for a group of people who were trying Thanksgiving for the first time.

So you can imagine how much planning and stressing I was doing to make sure that this dinner came out well.

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We were lucky since our dinner was held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and we had a test run for the dishes on the actual day of Thanksgiving with my boss from my old job. So based on our experience on Thursday, we were able to fine tune things so that everything went smoothly on Saturday.

And I have to say that the results were much better than I had imagined.

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It was definitely a full house that night. We had 15 adults, 10 kids, and 3 toddlers over for dinner.

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It was loud and so much talking and the kids were running amuck everywhere.

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But it was also a lot of fun.

It was the first time in a long time that we’ve had so many people over to celebrate Thanksgiving and it really felt like what Thanksgiving should be, a time to be with people you are thankful to have in your life.

I am truly thankful for the friends I’ve made in Japan. Even though it gets lonely without my family here, I am glad that I have friends who I can talk to and hang out with because it makes living in a foreign country a little easier.

I do have to admit, though, that as much as I enjoyed our “friends”-giving this year, a part of me really misses the Thanksgiving dinners my family use to have. With my grandmother in her current condition, I don’t think I’ll get to celebrate Thanksgiving the same way again.

October 31, 2014

October Wrapup

Family, Updates

October has been a weird month. Going home and taking care of family stuff was hard. I’ve been able to talk to people about my trip home but on a more superficial level. I try not to think too much about it because it’s hard on me especially since I’m so far away from my family when I’m in Tokyo. Plus, the most common question I get asked by everyone who knew that I left Tokyo abruptly is “Is everything okay?” and I don’t know how to answer that question because I don’t know if everything is or will be okay.

It’s also been a busy 2 weeks back in Tokyo, mostly because I keep myself busy. There’s less time for thinking and being sad when you are busy. I know that sounds sad and depressing but it’s the way I cope with things so don’t worry.

Oh, I also turned 34 this month. It was not quite the birthday I had envisioned back in September though.

There’s a lot on my mind these days and I will share it one day, just not yet since I find that typing out the words is more emotional than saying the words.

I am tired though. A lot of it from all the emotions and some of it from all the activities I do to keep myself busy. Plus, I don’t sleep well at nights anymore unless I take medication that helps me sleep.

September and October have both been really rough months for my family and for me. I’m really hoping that November will be a better month.

June 15, 2014

Happy Father’s Day!

Family, Parenthood

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Yesterday night before falling asleep, I had the perfect post composed in my head that I was going to type up as soon as I got K to sleep. But then I fell asleep with her and when I woke up, I cannot for the life of me remember what I wanted to write.

But it was going to be about what a great dad Jason is because he really is an awesome dad.

You can see it from the way the kids light up when he comes home from work or when they fight over who gets to sit closer to daddy. He makes time for them, plays swordfights and teaches them how to play games. He’s also quite strict with them but in a gentle way and is fiercely protective of them when we go out.

He’s such an amazing dad and it makes me feel so blessed that we get to be parents together.

Happy Father’s Day, Jason!

And a big Happy Father’s Day to my dad, father-in-law, Will (my brother-in-law) and all you dads and father figures out there!

April 28, 2014

An April Update

Family, Updates

Wow, it’s the end of April already!

I never intended on taking such a long break from the blog but I guess it couldn’t be helped. This month has been a busy one (well they all are in one way or another). I have been a bit more out of commission this month though, hence the lack of updates the entire month.

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First, Jason’s parents visited us for the first week and a half of April. They came at the perfect time since cherry blossoms are in full bloom and they got to see it finally. Of course, we also had a bit of rainy days too so that wasn’t as fun.

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Best part about their visit was that it perfectly coincided with E’s spring break so she got to spend the WHOLE break with her grandparents. She was so spoiled by all the toys and ice cream they gave her that she was sad when they had to leave. Even K had a great time playing with them. She laughed and enjoyed interacting with them so much.

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In fact, both kids were so comfortable with my in-laws that Jason and I felt comfortable enough to have them babysit the kids for a few hours so that we could attend a friends birthday party. It was the very first time Jason and I had left Kaylie alone with anyone for a long period of time and it was great! It felt good to have time alone with the husband and I’m truly grateful for the help my in-laws gave us :) We even came home to happy kids (and tired grandparents).

All-in-all, I thought that it was a really good 2 weeks we had with my in-laws.

Jason, K, and I also spent most of April being sick with an endless cold. Even now, K and I are coughing and sniffling a lot.

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Another big change that happened this month was that K started daycare. She’s only going in twice a week since I’m currently not working and don’t really need her to be in daycare full time. Having 2 days to myself to get things done around the house is really nice for me though since I can never get anything done around the house when K is home with me.

Plus, in the long run, I want her to be able to socialize with other babies and trust other adults. The daycare she’s attending is the same one that one of Ellie’s friend’s little brother attends. He and K know each other already so at least she has a familiar face to be with. So far, drop offs and pickups involve a lot of crying but her teachers tell me that once she’s settled down, she has fun and is enjoying herself. It’s probably going to take her a bit longer to get use to daycare since she’s only going part time but I think it will be better for he…at least I hope so.

One major reason I decided to put her in daycare is also because Jason and I are currently in the process of finding a new place to move to. We’re hoping that the daycare can be a familiar and stable place for K while we go through all the other changes that comes along with moving to a new home.

Moving has been in our plans for a few months but now we are actively searching and checking out new places. The school we really want to send E to has a very small school zone. It’s a very popular school because it’s a Japanese public school with an English immersion program. A lot of people who live outside of the school zone are also trying to get in but because there’s a limit to the number of kids accepted each year, anyone living outside of the school zone is put into a lottery and kids are accepted based on the lottery.

Last year, only half of the kids who were in the lottery got in. We don’t want to take that risk so we are trying to move into the school zone. The only problem is that it’s an expensive zone. The houses are also old, small, and expensive. We can technically afford some of the places but it’s just the idea of paying more for an apartment that’s just a few feet bigger than our current place that bothers us. It’s tough and I hope this school is worth it in the end.

So there you have it! Throw in a really big mother’s night out gathering that I planned, a friend’s crazy birthday party, and a fun belated Easter party, and you have a rather crazy month :) That’s my April.

March 4, 2014

Happy 5th birthday, E!

Family

E turned 5 today.

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5! She turned 5! Today!

Wow. It’s really amazing when I think about how quickly 5 years have gone by.

And it’s even more amazing when you see how much she’s grown in this one year.

She talks more and is very good at expressing herself with words. She’s also very lively and her imagination is all over the place.

She loves to sing and dance, mostly at home. She’s into power rangers and super heroes but also love Disney princesses and my little pony.

She’s got way too much energy us and loves to talk all the time. She drives us crazy but we love her all the same.

E is a great big sister to K, though there are days she struggles with having a little sister she has to share everything with.

These past 5 years have been an interesting one and I’m happy to have had experienced them. E is witty and funny and never ceases to amaze and amuse us with the things she says and does.

Happy 5th birthday, my dear E! We love you!