Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Never Too Early for Communication Gaps

After school today, Mina was babbling randomly as she was supposed to be doing her homework and I was playing around online while I was supposed to be giving my daughter my undivided attention. Something sinks in, she needs to take something to school tomorrow. Oh lord, please don't tell me I have to go back out again after I have just changed into my comfys! She needs lots of colors. I think she has to take balloons? Huh? What? When? Why? They have to be all in a row in the book and it is going to look so pretty. I ask her, you need to take balloons to school?!?!? No! She replies, FUSEN! Isn't that balloon?!?!?! She is stumped. I am stumped. I see the wheels turning, she walks over to the bookshelves and is scanning, scanning, what she is looking for is not there. She walks back to me and says, "Like the thing that is sticking out of the blue book that has all the maps!" Oh! Post-its! You need Post-its! Good thinking, Mina! She didn't know the word for Post-it (is there a generic name?) and she couldn't remember atlas, but she got her point across and, yes, I just happened to have some she could take to school.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Omiyage - Souvenirs

Every time I go to California, of course, I think a lot about all the things I want to do, people I want to see and foods I want to eat; you might be surprised however by how much energy I put into buying souvenirs. Not just for friends and family, but for Toshi's coworkers, the neighbors, Mina's piano teacher and on and on. It is very tricky. First of all, ideally the gift should be something actually produced or from the locale you visited. Do you know how difficult it is to find things made in the USA, let alone California? Secondly, you have to consider the value of the gift. You can't give something thought be too extravagant or you will make your neighbors feel obligated. If you give something too chintzy, it reflects badly on you. Chocolate melts. Oranges don't clear customs. Throw your budget into the mix and it all adds up to nightmares and headaches. Then there is this peculiar quirk of mine where I don't like to buy things just for the sake of buying them. I like to pick something out that I actually think the person I am giving it to might enjoy. This year it was Knott's Berry Farm Shortbread Cookies for the neighbors. Bath and Body Works hand soap for friends. And Lil' Kinz for the kids' friends (I know, I know, not made in the USA, but a very popular US trend that has not yet hit big in Japan). Throw some American snacks and candy into the goody bag and there you have it! Now, I think I have written about all of this before, so this time around I am going to share with you the items we received as omiyage. Sweet potato cookies. Special Hello Kitty furikake (rice seasoning sprinkles) only available from the northern region of Honshu. Kona coffee. A painting of Isamu's name. A flower pin for Mina's hair. Apple flavored Hi-Chew candy available only in a certain part of Japan. Mickey Mouse cookies. An Ariel key chain. It is fun to receive those little bags, handed to you in stealth, with a disparaging word of how uninteresting the contents are, but I wonder, does everyone else stress out about it as much as I do?

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