Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pancake Day

I read Bean's blog religiously and learned that today is National Pancake Day. IHOP is giving short stacks free from 7am to 2pm and unfortunately we are not able to enjoy free pancakes today. In honor of the occasion, here is Joshua enjoying pancakes from Denny's taken a few months ago. He is very particular about his pancakes and will painstakingly pinch the top of the pancake, dip into the syrup, inspect it then eat. It is a very slow process but he does seem to relish every moment.

Joshua is a food dipper...French fries, chips, chicken strips etc. He loves to lick or suck the sauce off the food which is kinda gross yet fascinating at the same time. One can't help but watch his methodical process. It is hard to get pictures of him doing this since he is distracted by the camera but trust me, it's something to see.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's been 3 months since our trip to Japan but the effects still linger. We brought our digital camera with a 1 GB memory card which can hold up to 1400 pictures and as much as we tried we only managed to take 750 pictures. No more film canisters or double prints of lousy pictures. By the way, we bought a new digital camera, a Nikon coolpix S1 which is a small compact camera to replace our older model olympus that sucked up AA batteries like no tomorrow. I took lots of multiple pictures of places & persons to make sure that a decent picture would appear. Overall, I am very pleased with this camera. It is small enough to fit in my pocket so I am prepared to snap away whenever I like.

The above picture is of the Golden Pavillion in Kyoto which used gold leaf to give it that beautiful glow. There are gardens too but the Pavillion is the main attraction for obvious reasons. The adults in our group were amazed by all the wonderful things and history while the kids loved taking taxis everywhere we went in Kyoto. Go figure.

The previous post I mentioned the lighting of the shrine and here is a blurry picture of it. There are mobs of people climbing up the stairs and walking on the paths on the hillside with awesome views. Did I tell you that we did a LOT of walking in Japan? There are virtually no overweight Japanese people except maybe sumo wrestlers and the occasional gland disorder.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Boob Pudding, Anyone?

Ok, Japan has some unusual products and this is proof. I believe we were in the building of Tokyo Tower and there was a gift shop with food and souvenirs. Tyler and Hector were in the bathroom so I was browsing the items and behold, boob pudding! This is what is written on the box, "A first class cook seasoned these dishes with advanced techniques and highest class materials. Please enjoy this 'tastiness'. This sweetness which cheers adult!" Hmmm...interesting translation but this is hilarious! I was almost tempted to buy it but I don't know about eating it.

Another unusual sight is the Japanese toilets which are in the ground and one must squat to use it. This is a public restroom which had both Japanese and Western style toilets and no one used these. Even the Japanese women waited for the Western toilets. I did use one of these Japanese toilets but it had a big U shaped pole bolted into the ground in front so one can hang on and not fall into the toilet. Also I noticed that many Japanese women wore skirts maybe because it is easier to pee if you have to use these toilets.

Here are some Japanese girls that we met while in line waiting for the lighting of the shrine in Kyoto. Of course, Tyler was in full charmer mode with them even though they spoke little English. I was surprised that Joshua let one of them hold him. We were joking that they were Puffy AmiYumi and they were surprised that we knew of them. Another lady behind them translated for us since she spent 3 years living in Georgia with her husband. There were mobs of people waiting to view the shrine and then tour the grounds. We also met a guy backpacking through Japan who was from San Diego. It was amazing to meet other Americans while in Japan; we met another couple from San Diego and another couple from Tustin. Small world. Hector even had an experience while searching for milk in a convenience store...it turns out that the clerk spent a few years in El Monte where Hector went to high school. We have so many great memories from our trip.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Not much to say today except that Joshua is hopefully over his vomiting/diarrhea episodes. Now I find out that Hector won't be back until Saturday which kinda sucks since we thought he would be home Friday. The other guys already planned it that way so I guess there is nothing we can do. The other guys don't have kids so that explains it. Meanwhile, we just have to deal without Daddy for a bit longer.

Tyler and Joshua are having fun with a tent they constructed which looks quite cozy. They have been behaving and no major injuries or fights. Nothing stops Joshua from climbing into our bed at night since Hector has been gone so Josh has been very happy. That should all change Saturday night.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Olympic Moments

I am posting another entry in honor of Hector's Olympic moment from 2002. I don't have all the details but he entered a contest from Coca-Cola to have a chance to run with the torch and he won a spot! He was notified of the time and location where the runners were shuttled. Of course the area he carried the torch was a questionable are of Los Angeles but it was great. I arrived with about 10 family members and friends to cheer him on. Beforehand, there was great fanfare from the media and sponsers (Coca-Cola and Chevrolet) and suddenly he was running by us. We were desperately trying to take his picture and running after him. Hector later said that the torch was behind schedule so the officials wouldn't let him stop. I was really proud of him and he looked great.

Hector was given the chance to purchase his torch and other merchandise. We couldn't pass up the opportunity to have the torch so we bought it and it came with an engraved holder. We also have pins, a plaque and T-shirts. He was supplied with the uniform (warm-up suit) which he got to keep; it's a nice design with some gloves and hat.

I'm sure this is one of the highlights that will stand out in Hector's life.

Good morning, all! I'm up early today since Joshua woke me up in our bed retching. I managed to grab him & run to the bathroom but the damage was already done. So I am washing the bedding again while he seems to be fine singing along with his DVD. I had thought this bug was gone but nope, not yet. At least I have nothing planned for the day since I need to conserve my energy for the rest of the week.

Hector called from Lake Tahoe and the cabin is very rustic. They had to thaw out the water pipes but so far no hot water. Beforehand I had checked the weather up there and it was colder than usual so I tried to convince Hector to bring a warm coat for night. Being a native Californian and extremely hard-headed, he didn't listen to me because at his work, they keep the ORs at around 50 degrees. Hello?!? It is 5-8 degrees at Lake Tahoe at night which is a little different than 50 degrees. Sure enough, when he called last night he said it was COLD and that I was right. I'm thinking it's better to be warm than cold and you always can take off more layers. Well, it should be warming up this week and he will have lots of fresh powder for snowboarding.

Here is Joshua in the blanket. He loves to roll himself around in blankets and lay on the floor. You have to be careful where you step! This is a closeup of Tyler in Kyoto where he loved seeing the leaves. These are the tiniest ones he found.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I am bummed today...my husband left us to go snowboarding at Lake Tahoe and won't be back until Friday night. I miss him already and have to ready myself to take care of my 2 active boys for the week. Yesterday, Joshua woke up vomiting which continued throughout the day but this morning he seemed to back to his normal self. Thank goodness, it was just a 24 hour bug. Hector was worried about Joshua and was ready to cancel his trip in case this was something serious. It was sweet of him to offer but hey, kids get sick. This is Hector's one time to take some time off for himself and go have fun with the guys. They snowboard, gamble and relax. Don't worry, I get my equal time to myself too. This year, I will take a couple mini-breaks to Las Vegas with the girls which is coming up in April. There will be gambling, outlet shopping, dining and maybe a show.

Monday is President's Day so no school for Tyler. Hmmm, what to do? Maybe visit Grandma who can watch the kids for a few hours while I can get something done. Like take a nap or catch up on Tivo. Sounds nice.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Help! My washing machine broke on Monday and of course I have like 6 loads of wash to do. We decided to buy a new washer today, so yippee! And no, this is NOT my Valentine's Day present. Last night, we went to our favorite Korean BBQ buffet which was great like usual. After that we went to Sharpshooters to check out shooting lessons and guns. Yep, my husband got me shooting lessons for Valentine's Day. Instead of getting pissed off and shooting him, I am pretty thrilled at the prospect of shooting a gun. The guys at Sharpshooters were very helpful and had me hold about 5 different guns. Then they go into testosterone mode to discuss the pros and cons of revolvers and automatics (I think at that point my eyes started glazing over). It was cool though, seeing the different makes and models...they had me try pulling back to slides to see if I could do it. The next step is to get my lessons and I can test the guns then. More later...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Yesterday, we took the kids to Disneyland for a little bit around 6pm. I figured that Monday was a school holiday for Tyler so we could stay out late. I also had to get Joshua his annual pass since he really can't pass for being under 3 years old now. The park was not as crowded as I thought it would be which was a pleasant surprise. We managed It's a Small World, Casey Train, Winnie-the-Pooh, Tarzan's Treehouse and Jungle Cruise in about 2-3 hours. As we were almost to the tram, Hector saw a very heavy-set man walking with a cane wearing loose fitting shorts. Hector grunted, "Ugh, did you see that guy?" So I turn to look and this man has huge fleshy mass (canteloupe size) hanging past his knees. Wow! What was that? Hector explains that the man has a hernia that settled in his scrotum that kept stretching! Whaaaaaaat? I was in shock that he could walk around like that at Disneyland with his sac in full view. Hector wasn't shocked at all since he's seen that at the hospital but for me, I was stunned. That was an educational moment for me!

The above picture shows how the intestine falls through the abdominal cavity and settles in the scrotum. I didn't realize that this could happen but what do I know? So just imagine this descending past the man's knees. Ouch. So note to self...get that taken care of before you start displaying your balls to the kids at Disneyland! Or maybe not...you can be obscene yet claim this is a medical condition. Brilliant idea!

Friday, February 10, 2006

We just finished a week of unusually hot weather. We had temperatures soaring above 85 degrees , dry and windy. That kind of weather spurred some wildfires that really sucks. Our winter months typically have more rain in January but I think it only rained 1 or 2 days. That means our local mountains are having a lousy season while the Sierra Nevada mountains are experiencing big storms which brought plenty of snow. To get into the winter spirit, I'm posting a pic of Tyler from last year March 2005 at Mammoth Mountain. I have a feeling that he won't be seeing snow this season.

February 10th is the day the movie Curious George opened in theaters. Tyler has been eagerly anticipating this movie since he has the book collection. I took Tyler after school let out and it was a really cute movie. He definitely wants to see it again so we will see. I was surprised that I also liked the soundtrack by Jack Johnson. It is mellow and folksy but should appeal to adults and children. I am debating whether to buy the CD. Not my usual KROQ alternative music.

I watched some of the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics which always great entertainment. That reminds me of when my husband was selected to run with the Olympic torch through Los Angeles ...the flame was working its way to Salt Lake City 2002. That was a memorable day...we got a group to stand on the street while he ran by. It was an emotional moment and very cool. I'll have to post some pics of his plaque and torch next time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Here is Tyler posing with a badger which seems to be quite popular in Kyoto. I think they are to bring good luck or fortune but take note of the big package the badger is sporting. Too funny.

Then here are some other pics of the gardens in Kyoto. I really liked how the rocks looked among the greenery and the such wonderful colors of the trees. There are roped paths that keep all the visitors contained while strolling through the gardens. I felt very peaceful here but that was only when my kids weren't not running around and screaming. So maybe 5 minutes...

Friday, February 03, 2006


Here are some more pics from Japan. On our first full day in Tokyo, we had a half day tour. One of our stops is the Meiji Jingu Shrine. November 15th is Shichi-go-san (Seven-five-three) or Children's Shrine Visiting Day where children of these ages dress in their best kimonos. They are taken to the shrine by their parents or elders to express thanks and prayers for their futures.

This is one of Japan's most famous icon. Hello Kitty is very popular and it seems that the Japanese really love "cutesy" type animals. There are all sorts of cute animals adorning cell phones even the men have them! It appears to be a common thing to do to personalize their cel phone. Another curious note is that during our entire stay, we did not hear a single cell phone ring. We saw most everyone has one but they keep it on silent and text message everyone. Big difference from Los Angeles where everyone shouts into their phones and has their own personalized ringtones.

This is an example of the buildings in Tokyo where they are stacked on top of one another. It is common to see people on street level handing out flyers or showing menus to draw business to a restaurant located on the 4th floor. It is like this almost everywhere we went and we would lose our bearing sometimes. One thing we heard is that it is expensive in Japan. Yes, it can be but there are plenty of places that are reasonable. Hector and I ate at a conveyor belt sushi place that you sit at a counter where a conveyor belt moves plates of sushi around the room. You just pick what you want and charged per plate according to the plate color/design. We ate until we were stuffed and our total bill was $28. In Los Angeles, one person can easily cost that amount. It was great so we ate there a few times...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Better Late Than Never

It is definitely harder to travel with children but with some planning, it can be very enjoyable. Last year, my hubby got the itch to fullfil his dream of going to Japan. I was hesitant at first but I got excited. We spent months planning our itinerary and trying to learn Japanese. The key to our success was to relax and soak in whatever we could. We realized we wouldn't be able to see everything we wanted but that is our excuse to return to Japan. Our entire trip was 9 days with 5 days in Tokyo and 4 days in Kyoto. We got a great deal since we went in November and the weather was crisp and cool. My main concern was the airline flight to and from Japan and the time difference for the kids. It turns out the boys did great on the flight; Singapore Airlines was the best. The crew totally catered to my children, bringing snacks, juice and candy while the kids enjoyed watching their own movies on the screen in each seat. Tyler loved it; he watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory over and over (he mastered the remote control). Another plus was that the flight was only 60% full so the kids were able to roam around and we could stretch out. Tokyo is a huge concrete jungle with skyscrapers and high rises although there are surprising gardens, parks and shrines hidden within the city. It can be intimidating to navigate but I was never scared or felt we were in a dangerous area. The Shinjuku area, where our hotel was, is a popular area where you can find everything you want. Food, bars, department stores and shops and it seems that everyone congregates there. Actually, every area in Tokyo seemed crowded and busy.

Kyoto is considered to be the "real" Japan. Although Kyoto is a large city, it is filled with shrines and beautiful gardens. We were fortunate to see the changing leaves with spectacular colors that draw big crowds. We felt we could spend weeks here and not have a boring moment. I wish I could be more specific but we went to so many places that I couldn't keep track! I still need to refer to my guidebooks so I hope to give more detailed account in the future.
So for now, just enjoy the pics!