Archive for March, 2015

Japan Trip Days 5-7

Day 5 was a down day. I woke up with a headache so we hung at home, took naps and relaxed.

Day 6 was another trip to the Sunshine City mall and the Aquarium.


We had lunch at Agio and this is how we wait for our table: a line of chairs outside the restaurant.
Most restaurants have a display of their menu selections like this…

Looking up “best places for ice cream around the world,” someone’s list included a place at this very mall. We all got these fancy crepe cones with character shaped ice cream.

There were several ice cream and food shops inside the section of the mall called NamJaTown. Inside, kids were racing around doing a magic quest game, much like we’ve played at Great Wolf Lodge. Too bad we don’t know Japanese, or we could have played! Instead we just got ice cream.


Day 7, we woke up bright and early for a bike tour.

The original plan was for Isaac and Xander to ride their own bikes, Simon ride a trailer bike behind Jason and Lotus would ride in a trailer behind me. As we got started, there were immediate issues. Both Xander and Simon were unhappy with their bike situations. The bike tour company was fabulously patient with us while we worked out two trials before settling on both Simon and Lotus together in the trailer (heavy!) and Xander behind Jason on the trailer bike (also heavy!).

We were not the only people on the tour and the two tour guides split up to accommodate us through a few less hilly detours. At one point I had the kids get out of the trailer and walk so we could get up the initial slope of a bridge crossing. It was an excellent workout and turned out to be an amazing part of our trip, despite the initial struggle.
A break at the top of a bridge to enjoy the view and some ice cream puffs.
A shinto shrine gate…
Simon tries out the hand washing technique, to pay respect at the shrine.
The giant Tokyo fish market…

Picnic lunch by the river. They had fresh, raw tuna from the market for us to sample. so good!
A wedding couple was posed for photos…
Next, we rolled our bikes onto the ferry for a boat ride back across the river…
We drank homemade ginger ale. Ginger ale and green melon soda is popular in Japan.

We saw a few Shinto shrines and one Buddhist temple. The guide gave us a little history and explanation on the difference and how the two religions are incorporated into Japanese life today.

These baby statues each represent a loss due to miscarriage or stillbirth. The little handmade hats were particularly sweet.
The “stairs of promotion.” There is a story that gave it that name. Now people climb the stairs of promotion when they want to get into that university or get that great job.
The kids enjoyed feeding the koi…

A Buddhist Temple gate (much larger)…
The Imperial Palace…

Japan Trip Day 3 and 4

We went to the giant mall In Ikebukuru: Sunshine City.


They had a concert for the J-pop girl group Country Girls. Crowds on every level were watching and by this point fans were lined up for a meet and greet.

The boys were super excited for the Pokemon Center. They each brought their DS’s and were constantly getting new “street pass” friends, as we walked through crowds of others also carrying DS’s. It kinda became an obsession. Ha! They could only get 10 new friends at a time before having to approve them and make room for 10 more. So they were constantly checking and approving.

They bought DS carrying cases at the Pokemon Center and it was perfect for also carrying their Pasmo cards for the subway. They were able to swipe their case instead of having to dig their cards out each time.

Also, little trinkets/jewelry to hang off DS’s and phones are popular here. They are sold everywhere and we each got a few.

Arcades are alive and well in Japan. This seven floor Sega Arcade was quite impressive. The lower floors are all, what I call “kiddie gambling,” with the claw machines and dozers. The upper floors are more serious gamers and fewer kids.

We had pastries for dinner from Vie De France at the subway station. The kids wanted to try everything, and I think they did by the time we moved to our next place.


Day 4, we figured out the laundry machine and made a trek into Shinjuku, Tokyo for the show at Robot Restaurant. We did not have use of our phones and the online reservation wasn’t working out. I emailed one of the hosts for our Airbnb apartment and he called and made reservations for us. What an awesome guy! Not only did we get the last minute tickets for the showtime we wanted, but we also got front row seats.

No dryers in Japan…

What is that peeking over the building top? Godzilla??

Why yes, it is! The kids loved it.

Robot Restaurant is hard to miss…

The waiting room for drinks…

Jason and I had two Moscow Mules and were feeling fine…

Soothing music…

Ready for the show!


Simon was chosen to be part of the show and fight a robot. It pretty much made his day! Lotus said later, she was worried Simon would lose but then he won and she was so happy. heh!

This is the loot he won. I love the buxom anime…

Family Trip to Japan Days 1 and 2

We are home from our trip to Japan and have many photos to sort through. It was a fantastic trip and everything went well.

At the airport, excited for our journey…
Lotus had a tiny pack of toys to keep herself entertained…
Singapore Airlines from Lax to Tokyo was a 12 hour flight, jam packed with food, snacks, drinks and movies. The kids were loving it! Lotus and I having tea…
We made it to our apartment by 10pm the next day and went to bed right away.

Our first breakfast in Tokyo. We managed to find a restaurant and point to the photo of our food choices.
We felt a bit disoriented and wanted to move past that feeling right away, so we figured out the subway and took ourselves to the Ueno Zoo. Purchasing a “Pasmo” card for the subway made life a lot easier: add a sum of money to the card and then it’s just swipe and go. The subway is clean, on time and amazingly low wait time. Another train comes every few minutes.

Shibuya crossing: a famously large intersection, with hordes of people crossing all at once.
Ueno Zoo…

I absolutely love all of the mom bikes everywhere! Child seats on the back and the front, many with electric assist. The accessories for rain and wind were attractive and fascinated me. Bike parking lots were HUGE! more on that later…

There was a long line to see this panda. Sad panda. I have sad, guilty feelings about visiting a zoo.
After the zoo, we walked down through a street market by the water. I saw this guy making some type of veggie/seafood pancake and had to try it!
Surprise mayo on top! I was not expecting that. The pancake was delicious. It’s called Okonomiyaki “make as you like” and can be made with whatever you have, mixed in with a bit of batter. Of course, I bookmarked a recipe to try at home, sans mayo.
Tucked in next to the pancake guy’s booth for eating. Isaac saw a dumplings vendor and declared it his choice. I love that he felt comfortable looking around and making a choice. The littles had hod dogs on a stick. We learned that Western junk food is everywhere. Though, when the kids got regular pancakes for breakfast they said it was not good and tasted too much like cake??

On the way home we stopped at our nearest grocery store, which was very small.
Not able to read what things are, we had to stick with what we know and guess on a few. Eggs, vegetables, fruit and milk. Jason guessed on a cold coffee.
All bread is white bread. I tried to find peanut butter and while trying to look over some mystery foods I thought might be peanut butter, it turned out I was in the baby food isle. Oops. Skippy is all I could find.
Our little apartment…

Beds one and two.
Bed three.
The kitchen, making breakfast…

I made eggs, veg and sausages every morning.

The bidet toilets are amazing! Heated seats and a warm spray to clean the tushy off. The kids were reluctant to try it at first but then they loved it. Isaac started a family joke, “Did you bidoo?” Lotus squealed with laughter and we thought it was funny to hear her starting it herself, on her own. We want one at our house now!

Simon’s Day!

Today is Simon’s 8th birthday and instead of a party we are having a family Simon’s day. Keeping it simple, yo. With several work days this week and international travel coming up, simple is what I needed and Simon was happy to oblige.

Breakfast out with Grandma, a movie at the theater and later dinner at home with a homemade cake. He’s having a great day!

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Simon wanted a chocolate cake with oreos on it. Homemade cake, homemade frosting with some oreos thrown on and it was a success. Woot! 

Gummies, take three

That escalated quickly! I made some beef pho gummies from the broth I’ve been neglecting in the freezer. I accidently over salted that batch but thought maybe it’d be okay for a gummy. Still too salty! But it might be okay for a snack on my hike tomorrow. 

I’ll pack a baggie of all three for a super strange trailmix. 

By the way, spending all day babysitting Vietnamese beef pho, only to end up ruining it with too much salt is indeed a tragedy. So many ingedients, so many steps, so many hours. Tragedy!

Homemade Gummies, Take Two

The kids were eager to try another recipe and happy to swipe all of the mandarin oranges (and one blood orange) from the fruit rack. These gummies were made with orange juice, honey and the beef gelatin. Much better!

The floor is an exceptable food prep surface, right?

Homemade Gummies

The kids made homemade gummy candies. It was our first try and the process was fun, the little robots turned out super cute but the ingredients will need tweaking for next time.

These were made with only three ingredients: lemon juice, blueberries and grass-fed beef gelatin. Too healthy! The sugar was definitely missed and we’ll be adding it in next time.

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