Thanksgiving Party_editI got to kick-off my Thanksgiving celebration a little early this year. I was one of the parent volunteers for Ellie’s kindergarten Thanksgiving party. I always enjoy the chance to get a glimpse inside the classroom where Ellie spends seven hours of her day. I had to bring plates, veggies, and a pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie happens to be my specialty so I was happy to sign up for that one.

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IMG_20151109_0001copyIt was just a typical Halloween at our house. The sound of the October breeze was gently blowing through the trees in the backyard while my mom stood tending to two pots on the stove. One of our traditional family Halloween chili dinner, the other of boiling blood. While the smells of chili and blood wafted past the half-eaten box donut holes and a jar of brains, Ellie and Chloe started to assemble their Halloween costumes and prep their trick-or-treating buckets. My brother, Dad, and I were doing our final checks. Mics, speakers, cameras, blood, smoke, it was all ready. The Shining Theme song could be heard outside. Like a wolf howl’s to the moon, this was a call to the neighborhood that Halloween was about to begin. At the first sight of trick-or-treaters on the streets, my dad put the headphones on, stepped up to the mic and flipped a switch marked “Melvin.” The wizard was in place behind the curtain  ready to give it life. The blue glow of the light indicated the mic was live, Halloween had started. “Hey kid, come on up and talk to Melvin.”

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IMG_4661_editI’ve always wanted to be a reader. Like a real reader. Not just short Mitch Albom books, but real grown up books. Books that are longer than 150 pages and don’t have pictures. I always imagine myself nurturing my brain and expanding my vocabulary. It’d be nice to start a sentence with “I read this book,” once in a while instead of “I saw this show the other day,” too. But no matter how much reading I manage to sneak in, I still feel like I’m a wannabe reader. So in hopes to change that, my friend and I started a book club. We alternate book picks to help us broaden our horizons in what we read. She is always on the search for the perfect love story (which she is failing miserably), and I usually pick depressing non-fiction (which I am winning at). It’s nice to be pushed out of our comfort zones.

The only rule we have is that we remain two members. She’s been in a book club before and didn’t like waiting so long for her pick. Because of this, she claims we are “book buddies.” I let her call us that, but I haven’t adopted that term myself. I think we are more like “literary losers.” If you continue reading you’ll see why.

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IMG_3855_edit“Daddy! Daddy! I have a loose tooth!”

There it is, the first of twenty. Our relationship, hopefully partnership, with the Tooth Fairy begins.

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IMG_4149_editDear Chloe,

Today you are three! You still think you are two, and you insist that five is after three, but only in regards to your age. You also insist that “Chloe” starts with an “E.” We’ll work on it. This is going to be your year. I can feel it.

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IMG_4000Woah, what!? Kindergarten!? What happened!? How did we get here!? My head is spinning!

I’m now a proud parent of a kindergartener. A KINDERGARTNER! While I’m very excited for Ellie and this major milestone, I’m completely caught off guard of with how unprepared I feel about this. Yes, I have all of her school supplies and I pack her lunch and all that, but emotionally, I’m a wreck.

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*photo by Ksenija Savic Photography

This week I celebrate five years as a stay-at-home dad. FIVE! While five years might not be that big of a deal to some people, I found it worthy of a celebration. If I was at a professional job for five years, I’d want to acknowledge it. Just a simple lunch with a few coworkers is all I’d want.

I went into this job energetic, excited, and a bit naive. At the time, my paying job wasn’t very fulfilling. The economy had tanked and so did our industry. My company was handing out pay decreases instead of raises, and instead of doing my job I was archiving in the basement. I knew the inevitable was most likely going to happen and I nervously welcomed it. I wanted control of my every day, and of my life. I knew staying home to take care of Ellie and manage the house wasn’t going to be easy, but I was excited for the challenge and was ready to go all-in.

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fishes_editThe moon nightlight shined brightly as the gentle piano sounds of George Winston calmed the room. Ellie was fast asleep excited for a sleepover at Grandma’s house the next day. Chloe was still awake but softly singing to her doll waiting for sleep to take her. I feigned a smile at Chloe, hoping it’d be soon that she drifted off for I had something else on my mind. The room was peaceful, and calm. The time was fairly early too. If this was happening on any other day I’d be preparing for a bedtime victory party with my open evening. But all I could picture was that motionless body quietly circling the tank with that blank stare looking out into nothing.

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Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu! (HAPPY NEW YEAR!)

IMG_3534_editWe started our New Year’s Celebration on New Year’s Eve with a soba noodle dinner. I’ve been told that it’s a tradition to have soba noodles on New Year’s Eve and udon noodles for New Year’s dinner. The long noodles represent longevity and a long prosperous year to come. Also, soba noodles easily break.  This can represent any misfortune you’ve experienced throughout the year, that it can now break and you can let it go.

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christmas card 2014_editMERRY CHRISTMAS FROM JAPAN!

This was our Christmas card this year. I think Godzilla ended being a metaphor for the plane ride and the first half of our trip. It’s a been a holiday to remember!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

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KFC CHRISTMAS! and sushi…

IMG_2776_editNothing says Merry Christmas like Kentucky Fried Chicken and tons of sushi.

When I was reading up on Japan before my first visit 12 years ago to meet Aya’s parents, I learned that having KFC for Christmas dinner was a thing. Really? KFC is a thing in Japan!? Yes, it is. Something about a wonderful marketing campaign from 1974, but I won’t bore you with the details here.

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Untitled_Panorama2_editWe started off the day with a nice breakfast out, juiced up on some coffee and were ready to go out on the town.

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IMG_2611_editThe clouds had parted and the sun was shining. Chloe’s flu quarantine had been lifted and we got the thumbs up to hit the streets. With it being a sunny and crisp 49 degrees, we figured the best place to start our day was to go out for breakfast.

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IMG_2545_editWith the plague of disease running through our family during our visit to Japan, it has been very disappointing to say the least. I mean, come on. We had to cancel our trip to Tokyo Disneyland and the trip to the hot springs in Izu. Essentially we flew half-way across the world so we could sit and cough on someone else’s couch. Well, actually, they only have a loveseat that sits two, so Aya and I have been coughing at the dining table instead. We came this far for this!? Other than getting a donut from Mister Donut (during our last trip I conquered Mister Donut), and many trips to the grocery store directly across the street, we haven’t done anything or been anywhere since we’ve arrived. Womp womp.

But when I stopped pouting and dropped the whoa-is-me attitude, I realized it really hasn’t been that bad.

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IMG_2492_editWe’ve been in Japan a week now, and because of illness and the weather, we’ve really only been to the grocery store directly across the street from Aya’s parent’s apartment. But there is one thing we can enjoy without leaving the apartment, and that is PIZZA NIGHT!

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GodzillaI’m not sure if it’s because we’ve been in Japan for a few days, or the fact that she is jetlagged and didn’t take a nap, but something deep inside Chloe was awakened last night.

It started at 5:30pm just before dinner when I felt the Earth shake. I thought it might have been an earthquake, but then I looked at Chloe’s face and saw that her tired puffy eyes started glowing red.

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IMG_2406_editAfter our trip to the doctor, I was hopeful that things would improve. But I kind of figured it was going to get worse before it got better. It seems that things always happen that way.

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IMG_2313_editWell, it turns out all of Ellie’s whining during the plane ride was for a very good reason. When we put Ellie to bed that first night, she had a mild fever. And by morning it had blossomed into a full-fledged cold complete with runny nose, sore throat, and a cough. I guess all that excitement finally caught up with her.

To complicate matters, Chloe also had a fever and a cold started by morning. Oh boy, our 2014 Japan Christmas Extravaganza was off to a rough start!

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Shyabu Shyabu

2014_12_15aI love shyabu shyabu! It’s like Japanese fondue. This was one of my first meals that Aya’s mom cooked when I visited and met her parents for the first time 12 years ago. Other than sushi two or three times and some miso soup, I had never really had much Japanese food before I visited them, and I loved everything!

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IMG_8426We are very grateful and excited to be spending the holidays with Aya’s family in Japan this year. However, a long (did I say long? Because I mean long) international flight can bring about a certain level of anxiety. And based on our experience during our last visit just over three years ago, complete with strangers asking to pray for us, we had every reason to be nervous making this journey again, especially since we would be traveling with not one child, but two this time.

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IMG_2089Our Thanksgiving last year did not go as planned at all. Our family Thanksgiving dinner is always on Saturday, leaving the actual day of Thanksgiving open for us.  It was supposed to be my first time to host some friends, but because of the plague running through our house we had to pull the plug. But this year, plans for us to host Thanksgiving was back on the table. We were going to have Thanksgiving dinner with some of Aya’s Japanese co-workers, some of which had never experienced Thanksgiving before. And this time it would be completely legit with a roasted turkey, not a chicken, and a kids table. I always saw cooking Thanksgiving dinner to be a crowning achievement in the culinary world. With eight adults and five kids, I had my work cut out for me.

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IMG_9970_editWell, it’s that time again for a house project. It seems I always have a project of some sort going, but our last major one was our bedroom renovation three years ago. And since it was three years ago, it’s just enough time to forget how disruptive a house project can be to your daily routine. That project was major though. We had gutted it down to the studs and did an overhaul on it complete with custom shoe shelves for Aya. This project was going to be a simple repainting of the living room and dining room. Well, at least that’s how it started out.

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IMG_2033_editThere is nothing like an afternoon nap. And by afternoon nap, I mean lying face down on the carpet while two wound up crazies jump around me. If I can manage to shut my eyes for a ten whole minutes, I consider that a win.

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IMG_2024_editAh, Halloween, that time of year when I try to reconstruct my own magical childhood memories and force them on my kids. I’m aware there is a big difference between carrying on traditions and trying to recreate and relive a memory. And I think I’ve been blurring the line between these two ideas. I know, this sounds oddly familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, that’s right; I did this last year, and the year before, and the year before that. Oh, and at Christmas, and birthday parties, and just about any other special event. You think I would learn.

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Posted in Fall, Family, Halloween, Holidays | 6 Comments