A Trip To Izu

In addition to Haru’s birthday trip to Bornelund, we decided to spend a couple of days in Izu, a volcanic hot spring resort on a penninsula in Shizuoka prefecture.  I haven’t taken any time off from work this year, so Haru’s birthday was a good excuse spend some time away.  So we packed up the dog’s and took the 3 and half hour drive through the mountains and down the coast to spend a couple of days just relaxing.

Although my wife, the dogs, and I have made this trip several times before, it was Haruka’s first road trip to the onsen resort.  Luckily, Haruka likes drives, because this was probably the longest drive since the trip to Motegi last July.  Furthermore, two hours of twisting turns through the Hakone turnpike can make even the strongest turn green from car sickenss, but Haru did very well.  She did get a bit fussy about half way through, so we made a brief stop at a parking area to get some air.

We arrived in Izu about 3:30PM, and checked into our pension, (usually a small family operated inn).  Since it was Friday (a weekday), we had the entire place to ourselves.  Apparently the pension gets the majority of their business on weekends and holidays and rarely gets guest during the week.  The owners were nice enough to treat us to some extra service since it was Haruka’s birthday.

The view from our room was really nice. We could see the mountains,the ocean, and the small surrounds islands near the penninsula.  The weather was a bit cloudy on Friday so we weren’t able see as clearly as we wanted, but it was still quite nice.

Dinner was excellent. We had LIVE Ise Ebi (Japanese Spiny Lobster) sashimi. In Actuality, Japanese Spiny Lobsters are more closely related to the shrimp family, and are really giant shrimp since they lack claws.  I only had a couple of bites because 1).  I’m not too crazy about shrimp sashimi and 2).  I have a hard time eating something I’ve seen alive, let alone something still alive and moving in front of me.  But everything else was really good.  It was probably the best pension food I’ve had in a while.  There was also plenty for Haruka to eat, although she seemed to be more concerned about the moving lobster in front of us.

Later, I spread out the futon, on the floor. The cusion was really fluffy, so I plopped Haru down in the middle of it and she went crazy.  I remember how much I loved rolling around on a fluffy futon when I was a kid, and Haru seemed to enjoy as much as I did.  She spent most of the night just rolling around in it util it was her bath time.  We then had cake that the pension owner had prepared especially for Haru for her birthday.

The next morning, the weather was much more nicer and clearer.  We were able to see more further out into the distance from our window.  We all went downstairs and had breakfast in the dining room.  Haru got some specially prepared fruit for her breakfast, but she preferred to have some the fish and rice were eating.

After breakfast, we returned to our room where Haru rolled around on the futon some more before it was time to pack up and check out.  Before taking the long drive back, we stopped off at Mountain Dog Run, which is a popular park for dogs that’s on a steep side of mountain, where they grow madrin oranges during the winter. We usually stop through there for an hour so and let Princess and Jenna run around with the other dogs.  They absolutely love it there.  Princess especially love chasing after madrin oranges that I toss down the hill.

After about an hour and half at Mountain Dog Run, it was time to make the the 3 and half hour drive back to Yokohama.  Haru slept for almost the entire drive back.  Unfortunately, this made her a bit fussy when we got home.  I suspect that she slect a bit too much, she we put her bed a bit earlier than usually.

Overall, I think Haru’s first birthday was a memorable one, although she probably won’t remember most of it.  But hopefully she can refer to the pictures and videos we took of her.

All strapped and ready to go.

Sitting by the window in our room

Watching Jenna get a drink of water.

Our elegant Ise ebi sashimi dinner

Yes, its still alive.

Haruka chewing on one of the lobster’s spines

Big smile

Haru’s second birthday cake compliment of the owners

The view from our room on the next day

breakfast time

Princess playing with a mandrin orange

Jenna having fun at the dog run

Finally a video of the trip:

Haruka’s First Birthday

Today’s Haruka’s birthday.  She has been with us for 365 days now, and I can honestly say it’s been a lot of fun.  In the next few posts, I will focus on the last past year and post some pictures from the last 12 months.

Today, we wanted to do something special for Haruka.  We were planning to have some kind of party or possibly take a trip, but after thinking it over carefully, we thought it should really be a day doing what Haruka want’s to do.  I don’t think she would care too much about going on a trip, and besides, she just came back from Yamaguchi less than a week ago, so conversely it may be cause more stress to put her on a plane again.  Instead, we decided to keep it simple.  We decided to take Haru to a children’s play area at a mall in Minato Mirai, a relatively new part of Yokohama.

At first we were a bit worried that Haruka would be too small to play in the play area, but luckily most of the children there were about Haruka’s age.  They had all kinds of activities there for little kids.  There was a play area filled with little colorful balls that Haruka really seemed to enjoy a lot.  As a matter of fact, she enjoyed it so muchthat she didn’t want to leave.  We literally had to pry her away, so that we could show her that there were more things to there.

They had other things like a gigantic air filled cusion that the children and the adult could jump up and down on and run across.  At first I was a bit concerned because there were a lot of big kids on it which made it very difficult for the smaller kids to stand up on, but that didn’t seem to bother Haru at all.  As a matter of fact, she seemed to enjoy falling on the soft air cusion.

There was also another air cusion but instead of being a giant matress, it was an air inflated room.  Haru seemed to enjoy that a lot as well. She also got to playon a trampoline, and whole host of different toys that were there as well.  All in all it was quite a successful birthday. Haru really enjoyed the day, so I was happy to see her happy.

On the way home, we stopped of at a  Baskin Robins store, and picked up an ice cream cake, and some birthday candles to have a small little celebration at home with the dogs.  Haru seemed to enjoy the ice cream cake, although she made a complete mess out of it.   But none of us really cared.  It was Haru’s day, so whatever made her smile was alright with me.

Tomorrow, we will continue the celebration and take Haru and the dogs down to Izu (a hot spring resort).  Its a good opportunity to just get away from it all, and spend time with Haru, the wife, and the dogs.

Pictures from today:

Haruka playing with the color balls

Haruka playing with the color balls

Haruka playing with the color balls

Haruka playing with the color balls

Haruka playing with the color balls

Trying to stand up in the air inflated room

Finally got her balance

Finally got her balance

crawling on the giant inflateable matress

Haruka ice cream cheese cake

Haruka getting ready to dig into her birthday cake

First taste of her cake

and making a mess

Here is a 9 minute video of the event:


Haruka and her mom came home today from their trip to Yamaguchi.  Although it was a peaceful two weeks without them, I’m glad they’re home.  I was able to get a lot done.  Aside from putting up pictures around the house, I managed to some reorganinze of the garage, and also do a lot of house cleaning.  I waxed all of the floors, and completely cleaned up the spare room, which had been unusable since we moved in.  Now, its a very formidable study and project room that can easily be a guest room as well.

In the last 2 weeks she’s been away, Haruka seems to have learned a lot of new things.  She’s a lot more talkative, and can run very quickly around the room.  It seems like she’s no longer a toddler, but more of a walker and runner.  A lot  of people have been mistaking her for being a very small 2 year old because of her brisk walking speed.  Another thing she has learned is to raise her hand, when her name is called, which is something we had been working on for long time.  She was able to learn it in the short time she was away.

Her grandmother, on my wife’s side, believes its important to give a child Haruka’s age plenty of stimulation and to expose to all kinds of new things.  So she took Haruka outside a lot, experimented having her taste stuff like umeboshi and lemons, which both carry a very stong taste, especially for little kids.  But all of that, lead to Haru being able to pick up new things at even a quicker pace, so she may be onto something.

Haru’s birthday is on Thursday, so I will be taking a couple days off from work to celebrate it with her. We decided that we’d buy her a cake (probably from Baskin Robins -since she likes ice cream so much), and celebrate quietly at home.  Then the next day, we will spend some time at an Onsen, I doubt she’ll be able to actually bathe in the tubs, because the hot springs are usually very hot, even for adults.  But quality time away would be good for all of us.

Haruka having a good time in Yamaguchi

more of the same

Brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed at her grandparents’ house

Meeting her new second cousin, Takuma for the first time

Walking the dogs inside the house

Miles Away

Haruka has been in Yamaguchi for the last week with her mother.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t go due to my busy schedule at work.  But being alone at home allowed me to do longly neglected tasks that I couldn’t do while eveyone is here.  For example, since the yen is strong against the dollar right now, I have been buying some stuff on ebay to decorate the house.  One particular item is an objet for the living room.  One side of our living has stone faced wall that has been screaming to be decorated with some type of objet, but I didn’t know what.  Then I saw this metal sculpture thing with picture frames on ebay that look exactly like what I was looking for.   I bought it a week or so ago and it arrived yesterday, and so I spent most of the evening puting it together and mounting to the wall.  A task that seems a lot easier than it was.  Now all it needs are some more pictures to populate the little picture frames attached to it.  Tomorrow during my lunch break, I will go to Office Depot to buy some more photo paper for our printer to print some pictures.

Today I spoke to Haruka using skype, which my wife was able to set up at her house in Yamaguchi.  Haruka seemed to enjoy talking to the PC.  I’ve also learned that Haruka managed to teach herself to walk (or crawl) up the stairs.  I guess this means that we need to but a  baby gate for our stairs at home.

A poor picture of Haru climbing up the stairs

A screen capture of Haru through Skype

A picture taken a week ago at the department store

More Ice cream

We received Haruka’s passport in the mail yesterday. I was surprised at how quickly they processed everything. On the U.S. embassy’s website, it said that it would take up to 4 to 6 weeks, but we got it back within two weeks.

Its funny how much things change in just two weeks. When we went to the embassy to apply for Haruka’s passport, I wasn’t too sure what the future had in store for Haruka as an American citizen, since its not too fashionable to be an American these days. But with the election now over, and we have a new president-elect, who in just one day brought the world together, I feel a lot better now about Haru being an American.

Tomorrow, my wife and Haru will head off to Yamaguchi for a couple of weeks to visit Haru’s grandparents. With me being quite busy lately at work, it’ll give me a chance get some rest.

Haru loves ice cream.  Everytime we ice cream, she will throw a tantrum until she gets some, so lately we’ve been stocking up on Haru’s own supply of ice cream.  Here are some picture of her sharing her ice cream with the dogs.

Letting Princess lick the cup

Trying to finish her cone, and getting it all over her face in the process

Haruka’s hip-hop rapper pose

hanging out in the kitchen again

US passport

Finally, where is a video of Haru eating icecream with the dogs:

November Again

Techical note:  This site might run a bit slow for a couple of days or so, until I replace some hardware on the server it’s running on.  So if it loads slowly, please be patient.

Its November again.  I can’t believe that its been almost year since Haruka was born.  This time last year, I remember thinking it’ll be any day now. Haruka’s official due date was November 17th, but wound up being 10 days late.  Never the less, Haruka entered the world a very healthy baby, and we couldn’t be any more proud.  Here we are nearly a year later, and Haruka has already learned to walk;  she’s even learned to say a couple words.

For her first birthday, I’ve decided to take a couple of days off from work so that we might take a trip out of town and celebrate properly.  Not too sure what the plans are just yet, but I will at least buy a nice birthday cake for her.

The pictures:

playing in the living room before bed.

another picture

Finally here is a video of Haru playing with the curtains in the living room.  At one point, she grabs the TV remote, holds it up to her ear and seems to say hello…mama? I was teaching her how to say hello using my old cell phone, so I’m not sure if was a fluke or if she really learned how to say it.  You be the judge.