Archive for March, 2007

Night Power

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

We were making Norimaki with Yoshie, since she was showing us how to make it. The norimaki were so yummy, I hope Nicole can make them in the future again.

Anyways, I was nibbling on the lotus root (renkon) when Yoshie quite unsubtly (and in front of my mother-in-law) said that eating the renkon was good because it gives me “night power”. I don’t really need it, and I don’t think it made much of a difference anyways, but Yoshie can still surprise me! :)

Evan’s 5th birthday

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I can’t believe Evan is almost 5 already! Today we had a birthday party for him, so that I could be there with all the kids. His birthday is actually tomorrow.

We had a great time with around 12 kids showing up for the party. Evan loved the attention and all the “fighting” the kids could do (we made balloon swords for everybody) and there was a lot of going upstairs, then downstairs, then upstairs etc. It’s quite interesting to see the dynamics amongst the kids, like who’s the leader, the follower, the nutter, the strong silent type etc. I sometimes hardly recognise my son’s behaviour, since it’s often so different to what I’m used to!

We played bunch of games – the first being “find the blue stones around the house”. The kids gathered the stones from around the house and got a chocolate coin for each blue stone. There were 2 winners; the kids who gathered the most stones.

Then we played “musical power-rangers” which is a spin on musical chairs. We made card-board cut-outs of power-ranger heads and placed them on the floor. Then played music and the kids had to walk around the squares until the music stopped and then find a square to sit on. Every round we’d take one square away, so there was one less place to sit and the kid who couldn’t find a spot to sit, they were eliminated.

Then we had some food, of which Yoshie made some very yummy Norimaki. The kids liked the chicken balls the best probably, and maybe the sausages.

After lunch we played some more games, pass the parcel and “pin the sword on the power-ranger” (pin the tail on the donkey). The kids seemed to enjoy it pretty well.

Nicole made a power-ranger cake and we had 5 candles and a number 5 candle (so in theory there were 6 candles as Evan pointed out!). Lots of ice-cream with that and the kids were pretty full.

Evan got lots of presents and Eric really wanted Evan to open his present, so he started opening his presents. Annie and Hideo got Evan a bunch of dinosaur-model things which was very generous of them. They always spend too much money on us. Other notables were legos and some cool stuff from Yoshie and Fumio; a studio Ghibli bag and a good luck charm (for being the smartest boy in school).

We watched a bit of Superman (I) afterwards, but it was too slow for Evan, although Lauren seemed to really enjoy it.

All it all, it was a busy but fun day today.

Tomorrow Evan gets his other presents…

Gala ski trip

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

We went skiing yesterday to a place outside Nagano called Gala (sounds a bit like Gara in Japanese). We took the shikansen at 8am and around 2 hours later we arrived. The ski lifts are just outside the shinkansen stop, so it’s very convenient. I booked my skis/boots in advance over the internet, so all I had to do was drop by, pick up the things and away I went. 5 of us from the office went, Koga-san, Ichikawa-san, Okamoto-san, Staffan and myself. Everything went like clockwork and by around 10:30 in the morning we were on the slopes.

When we arrived we were a bit worried because outside the station there was absolutely no snow! A few patches of white were to be seen, but in general, no snow!

Anyways, by the time we got to the top, there was enough snow to ski on. There wasn’t a whole lot, but the skiing was pretty good. It was also much colder up top. On the monday, apparently it had been raining!

Anyways, we had some good runs and all the guys were really good skiers! Koga-san did really well on the moguls too. Okamoto-san was the only one of us who snowboarded. He was really good – much better than I could have done.

Around noon it started to snow and we had some food in the restaurant. I ordered a _huge_ katsudon in this massively wide, but quite shallow bowl. It looked cool at least. A nice beer to rinse it all down! Yum!

After lunch we did some more skiing and my trousers started to get wet because the snow was melting on me, and the wet trousers meant that even more snow would melt. I had a second pair of trousers underneath the ones on top, but I was still getting cold.

The snow got heavier during the day and near the end of the day there was at least 10cm of fresh, dry, fluffy snow! It was really good condition! The skiing at that time was great! During the last few runs, the snow stopped and it was lovely weather.

We never had to wait in queues (being a Wednesday) and even the gondola trip down didn’t have a queue. In all, there were more snowboarders than skiers actually, and when we stopped at the top of the hill waiting for Okamoto-san to put his boots into his board, it was so often than one could hear lots of laughing. Very cool!

After the skiing, we went into the onsen and relaxed. The water in the onsen was _really_ warm – almost too hot. After getting really cold legs from the wet trousers, my legs were quite itchy and all from the heat! There was a jacuzzi outside, which was very nice and a fairly big pool to relax in, along with water jets to relax those muscles. It was great being in the hot jacuzzi with snow-covered trees all around.

We finished off the day with some food (pizza) and more beer on the shinkansen ride home. In the end, I think I got home around 10pm, right around the time I’d normally come home from work! That was much better than work!

Here is a photo of the crew!

Skiing in Gala


Monday, March 5th, 2007

Yesterday we went to a place called Round-1 which is a sports/play centre. For $15 per person (kids were free) we could play an assortment of things from volleyball, baseball, gold, archery, mini-golf, fishing (!), video games, ball games, roller-blading, balloon punch and a whole bunch of others that I can’t even begin to describe.

Evan wanted to go fishing first, but his interest quickly waned when nobody was catching anything (apparently there were fish in the pond) and the appeal of the ball-gun overtook the fishing appeal. After that there was lots of play in the ball rooms, bowling and we even got to go roller-skating/blading. Evan wasn’t so interested in the video-games which was good, and I played a game or two with Lauren but she didn’t seem too interested.

The roller-skating/blading was really fun. We strapped all the usual safety equipment on the kids and ourselves, as well as roller-skates (blades for me) and we went out on the floor. Neither of the kids could really stand up by themselves, but we would take them around the rink, holding them under their underarms and pushed them along. Evan figured out how to keep the skates straight, but Lauren didn’t quite get the hang of it. I saw Nicole go around once by herself around the rink and I reckon she was getting nostalgic from times in her past. I’d prefer to forget those awkward roller-skating days…

Here’s a shot of the family:

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