April 19, 2008

Weekend Update

We'll start by giving a quick update on the kids. Jacob and Lauren are both growing like weeds, and are really blossoming.

Jacob is now up to 100 reading words, and is getting really into science. He has learned a lot, but still has a ways to go. (Yesterday, he reasoned that Ilena and Lauren were mammals, because they could give birth to live young, but that he and Mike were not mammals for the same reason. It was pretty hilarious.) He also is distinguishing between "fiction" and "non-fiction" ("Jacob is eating oatmeal. That's non-fiction!"). He is still loving his soccer club and has been invited to start coming twice a week, like all the big kids.

Lauren is incredible around the house, helping us to cook, clean, and do pretty much anything asked. She plays independently, but also loves being everyone's favorite companion. She is really artistic, often sitting for hours working on coloring or drawing. Today, she drew a great freehand picture of a snowman, wrote her name Lauren across the top, and also wrote the name "Jessie" (another girl in her class) for good measure.

As for our weekend, we decided to have a relaxing non-traveling weekend. Next weekend is the beginning of the Golden Week vacation, and we will be traveling to Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Tokyo. So for now, we were content to have a couple of low key days at home.

And we are getting a very home-like feeling here. Rokko Island is so small and there are so many similarly situated gaijin families, that the community is very tightly knit and very welcoming. For example, on Saturday morning we checked out a silent auction of (mostly) neat Japanese objects at CHIC, browsed through the nearby Foreign Buyers Club (where the comforts of home can be had, for a price), and hit the grocery store. It was comical, because we couldn't get more than fifty feet without stopping to talk to people that we knew. Three hours later, we headed back to our apartment with plans to meet up with friends for an impromptu BBQ.

Here are some of our weekend highlights:

  • It was a beautiful weather weekend, with the temperatures up into the 70s. We had two picnics this weekend. The first was with our friends, the LaRoccas, who brought the guacomole, the meat, and the gas powered mini-grill. They also gave Jacob a neat Greg LaRocca cell phone strap and pin and a Yakult Swallow stuffed animal for Lauren. Although we haven't found a kids baseball league for Jacob here, Mike and Jacob have been throwing the ball around, and Jacob continues to impress with his cannon of an arm! After the picnic, Jacob joined a heated dodgeball game with older some Japanese children, who graciously let him join. (After the game, when it was time to go, one of the Japanese kids walked over to Mike, and said "Thank you." Unbelievable.)
  • On Sunday, we celebrated Passover with another Jewish family from the States. As they remarked, "When you guys moved here, the Jewish population of Rokko Island doubled!" So we decided to join our families for a Seder Picnic at a nearby playground. We brought Jacob's homemade Haggadah, our 10 plagues finger-puppets (that's right!), some hard-boiled eggs, salt-water, charoset, and what little matzo we have. Our friends contributed a wonderful warm ashkenazi charoset (made with dates and raisins) and an array of other Passover foods. We read the Haggadah, the kids searched for the Afikoman, we all sang songs, and before and afterwards there was time for baseball, soccer, jump rope, and playing in the sandbox. (By the way, for a humorous super-abridged Haggadah, see here). Our picnic/Seder was a really wonderful time. Passover is the first real big family holiday that we have been away for; it is a holiday that we are used to spending with our families. That part was tough. But it was really special to celebrate it with friends in our own special way over here.
  • We topped off our weekend with a nice Sunday evening dinner of matzo-bri. Happy Pesach to all our Jewish readers!!
  • On other news, Mike finally found a regular pick-up basketball game - at the kids' school - Saturday mornings with a nice group of Filipinos who work at P&G. Woo hoo!
  • Finally, last but not least, Mike's weekend highlight was going to the grocery store...and finally being able to read the food labels written in Katakana- Green Leaf Lettuce, Paprika, Celery, Strawberries, etc. It is hard to describe how exciting it is, after months of illiteracy, to be able to read signage!

1 comment:

David said...

That is so cool that you guys hang out with famous athletes....