Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cumulus Clouds

It is a nice day to live in in Kentucky. The cumulus clouds are huge, deep, chunky and motionless in the deep blue sky. The hay rolls are sometimes scattered and sometimes lined up in the fields everywhere and the grass and trees are a rich summer green.

To celebrate the first day of summer, the 21st my best friend Todd and his wife Alice had a beautiful baby. Maude Elizabeth. We are going up to New York to meet her in a couple weeks.

I haven't been home in something like three years. It was Thanksgiving three years ago that I went last. I was chatting with Todd this morning and he sent me this picture of the building he works in to illustrate the degree to which the rains have flooded the area. The news last night showed images of Elmira NY that were more flooded than I've ever seen in New York. But that's not saying much. We haven't experienced any real natural disaster since we moved here. There are sometimes the wind picks up and there are tornado warnings but nothing substantial yet.

Last Saturday we went out for a walk at the big park nearby and went around the long trail twice, once to get Ren to sleep and once while he slept. We're trying to get him used to riding in the stroller more. He doesn't like it compared to riding in the carrier but now that he's over 20 pounds the length of time I can comfortably carry him in it is getting shorter and shorter. Eventually I need one of those carriers that is like a back pack so that we can go hiking together. He is, little by little getting use to his Maclaren Volo stroller that Ryota and Emi got for us. The whole time we were walking it was thickly overcast and humid and looked like it might rain soon. But it didn't really rain all day. We ended up going strait from the park to Danville to do some shopping and eat lunch. We ate at the new cafe/bookstore in town by the hospital where ren was born. We both got some kind of Italian sandwich and split a piece of cheese cake. The cake was not to our expectations but the sandwich was okay. We walked around to the Danville historical park to the gift shop to look around and headed back to the car after a few illusory drops of rain fell.

Sunday we went to Lexington and tried out another Indian restaurant near Harrodsburg road Beaumont center called Masala. I liked Tandor, the one in the Andover center better as it was bigger and had more to offer but what they did have was good. The tall young Indian looking waiter held Ren for a little while and Ren was happy. He like to eat the nan. We got Ren some clothes as all of what he already has is too big or too small. Now he has a couple new fancy shirts and pants.

Ren didn't sleep very well Monday night or last night. Last night I got up and slept in the guest room because I could tell it was going to be one of those nights that he would be awake and loud every hour and half.

Aya has been talking with her little brother Keita about him visiting Kentucky over the Obon (Japanese) vacation. He was here once before. It was before Aya came to visit the first time and he had a good time but I don't think he was terribly excited by the location. Aya was telling me about how he said he would probably never be back but I think he would be coming more out of duty to keep us company than to entertain himself.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stuffed Shells

Yesterday we planned on going to the Beaumont Inn for lunch but it is closed on Mondays (and one other weekday which I have forgotten) so we went to Wah Mei, the Chinese Buffet instead. Aya suggested 5D's but I had a feeling Jason would have nothing to choose from that did not have meat so it was Chinese. Greasy as usual but not too unsanitary the place is okay.

I was planning on making manicotti for dinner so we went to Kroger to get some groceries but they had no manicotti. So after I went back to work Aya took everyone to Danville to get them at the Danville Kroger which is bigger and is where I got them from before. Well they didn't have any either. A bad day as far as plans go. But it was okay because I had lots of jumbo shells and I stuffed and baked them instead. Jason made something that tasted like scalloped potatoes and Junko made a salad. Afterwards we had Aya chocolate cake. It was a little more moist than usual. All the while Rachel and Ren were taking turns eating and terrorizing the kitchen.

There was a good thunderstorm and it cleared up afterwards so that the sunset colors were more dramatic than usual with big sections of the sky dark gray, others clear blue and others red. It cooled off and the wind came up.

I showed Junko where the new killdeer nest is in the lawn and watched the mockingbird do their wing opening thing as they eat. It seems that most of the birds around the house are Robins, mockingbird and Killdeer. The same pair of killdeer has tried and failed to keep a nest on the lawn twice already this spring. This is their third attempt and there are only three eggs instead of the usual 4. Every time it seems the eggs end up scattered a couple feet around the nest which is always on the ground. Aya and I have never been able to figure out who or what causes this but it is always disappointing. I remember last year the killdeer didn't have any trouble hatching their eggs but I guess the location was better. This year they keep making the nest in the same unlikely place that the lawn mower will go over. The guy that mows the lawn goes around it but still it seems like a terrible idea. Birds.

Monday, June 19, 2006


So we ended up going to the Newport Aquarium on Saturday which is just this (KY) side of the Ohio river which separates Cincinnati from Kentucky. It was a long-ish drive but the babies were well mannered and slept most of the way there and back. It is a tight fit but we can all fit in the Highlander with me driving Jason in shotgun, Babies in second row and Aya and Junko riding in the fold out third row. Third row is the tight one and we had to take one of the baby car seat out evertime they needed to get in and out. Rachel's car seat is compact though so that wasn't so bad.

It was a pretty hot day and it was a good thing we spent most of it inside the aquarium. We had lunch at a fish restaurant on the levee. Jason and I got crab cakes which to my displeasure ended up really only being one small crab cake. Another deceptive menu!

Ren was in something of an irritable/hyper mood but that changed pretty quickly after we got in the Aquarium. Rachel slept most of the time in the car and then slept most of the time we were walking around the aquarium. I felt sorry for Jason and Junko because there are no stroller aloud in the aquarium till after 4:30 so they had to carry Rachel through the aquarium the whole time she was sleeping. I should have researched the aquarium better ahead of time. Ren spent his time in the carrier as usual. Since he rarely lasts long in the stroller we don't even expect to much use out of it so it was no big blow to not be able to use it. Despite the relatively dark, crowded, narrow hallways and waits to get situated in direct view of the tanks, Ren really enjoyed looking at all the fish. It was a lot more stimulating for him than was the Cincinnati zoo that we went to about a month ago. i liked the otter display the most. I think Aya liked the penguins and the large shark tank. Ren seemed to fully appreciate the passageways through the tanks that have the fish swimming 180 degrees all around you as you walk through them.

We ate at the Japanese restaurant called Tomo near the downtown Lexington which was as usual pretty good but pretty expensive.

On Sunday, my first father's day, Aya got up early in hopes of watching the Japanese team play Croatia in the World cup. However she was very unhappy to find that the US open was scheduled to broadcast instead. She called home to make sure it was the right time and (with my reminding her) to with her dad a happy Father's day. I made Ricotta cheese pancakes and everybody liked them.

We went back to Lexington to do some baby shopping and get things at the Japanese grocery. If things worked out we were thinking of going from there to Frankfort to the Salato wildlife center. After baby shopping we went to the Indian restaurant on Maple leaf drive called Tandor for lunch. The place was clean and the food was really good. We will definitely being going back soon. After the Japanese grocery Ren had had enough of being in the car seat and cried most of the way home. That and the storm clouds made everyone more in the mood to go home than go to Frankfort. We got back and put Ren to bed for his nap and I was just about to fall asleep myself when the land lord knocked on the door with the new replacement oven. The floor was a wreck after he left so I mopped the floor and vacuumed the carpet while everyone was upstairs out of the way and resting. For dinner Jason made fried veggies and Aya baked a Chocolate Cake with the new oven. It works.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Something to do for the weekend

This is the problem for the day. What to do this weekend? With the babies it doesn't seem very practical to plan a trip that would have us all in the car for more than two hours but there are so few things to do without traveling about that far. Places that would be nice to go to like Mammoth cave, Natural bridge, Cumberland falls, Newport aquarium, Cincinnati zoo are all close to or over the two hour range. Shaker village is nice enough but it's so close that it's a place they can spend enough time at on a weekday. There is the dilemma. Places like the Kentucky horse park, bourbon distilleries and historical monuments like the capital building are not really of that great appeal. I think it will end up being shaker village or the salato wild life center where you can walk around and look at buffalo, fish, snakes, a big snapping turtle, and best of all, wild cats.

Jason is vegetarian so the bison Burger restaurant which is a usual attraction for visitors would not have the same level of novelty. But the Thai Restaurant is looking pretty good.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ren and Rachel

I picked up our friends last night at the Bluegrass airport. It seemed like they were tired of being in airports and were happy to get outside. Rachel is adorable. In some ways she is a lot like Ren. Ren had already bathed and eaten and would usually be getting ready to go to bed when we got back from the airport. Rachel seemed pretty excited to have a new place to crawl around and explore and didn't seem overly concerned with Ren. But Ren was at a loss of expression and didn't know what to make of our visitors, especially Rachel. He would crawl up to her and watch her and then break out with ear piercing screams. But soon calm down and then start it again.

After about and hour or so he seemed to be okay with everybody, was back to his normal self and didn't mind being held by anyone. Once he stopped acting so crazy they seemed fairly interested in each other and would sit down facing each other and talk baby talk with arms up and full body expression. It seems she is not used to having full range of an entire room or floor but in out apartment we've tried to make it baby proof enough so it is okay to climb around and get into whatever is in arms reach so she cruised from living room to Kitchen and looked like she was getting way with something or like at any moments she expected someone to grab hold of her to keep her from going farther.

We put her in Ren's walker and she seemed to like well enough. She reacts a lot more enthusiastic to toys that make sounds and music than Ren does and dances when toys sound. She has the cutest expressions. Ren is really sensitive to sounds but doesn't get too excited about them.

After eating we put Ren and Rachel to sleep. For some reason Ren did not sleep well at all. It seems after 1 am he woke up every 30 minutes or so and wouldn't go back to sleep with a little breast milk. I can't remember the last time I got less sleep because of him not sleeping. Aya is probably exhausted today too. But after 7am this morning he was all smiles and giggles like he has slept well enough. I imagine he is still a little tired and will be a little grumpy today. Maybe Rachel will help keep him from his usual boredom with being at home.

The stove seems to have broken and I'm trying to get the landlord to look at and fix it. it seems like perfectly bad timing for too break with Jason here. I wanted to make manicotti...I'll make sure I get a hold of the land lord today. Aya made Mochi-pan in the bread machine but it didn't raise properly and may not be edible. It seems It seems that using the flour labeled "best for bread machines " is not best for making Mochi-pan. Or maybe it's only best for American bread machines but not Japanese ones?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ren's Fall / Playing Outside

After coming home I took Ren upstairs with me and put him on the bed. He likes to be with me when I first get home and will cry if I go out of view right away. While I was changing into jeans Ren crawled his way to the edge of the bed and went right over head first. He fell off the bed about a foot and landed on his forehead. I think it hurt me more than him but he did cry quite a bit. I had images of spinal damage shoot thru me and was momentarily terrified but fingers and legs were all in good working order and there was not even a lump to show for it.

despite all the sticking and poking he got for having a high fever four days after he was born, I think he has generally experienced very little trauma in general. Since he sleeps together with us and not in a crib he never has never been left to cry himself to sleep and doesn't ever have to cry for any extended time before he is attended to. It seems the quickest way to calm him down is taking him outside. I wonder if all babies are as fond of the outside as he is.

Last week we took him out in the lawn to play in grass for the first time. He was pretty preoccupied with eating everything growing up taller than the grass. Aya seemed a little worried about it but she soon realized that he generally just puts stuff in his mouth then spits it out. He seems to like crawling on all fours thru the grass and doesn't mind you walking away form him like he does in the house. On the second day of trying this we encountered the neighborhood Beagle who Ren is always very happy to see. He was very,very happy at the idea of being free to crawl over to and touch the beagle though it is hard to tell what the beagle thought of Ren. Of course it was not long before getting a hold of the beagle's tail was main objective.

It seems the grass here (in "The Bluegrass") is a lot more coarse than it is where I grew up in Upstate New York's "Central Leather-stocking" region. I had all kinds of little cuts on my arms after rolling around a couple of times on the ground. Despite the socks and jeans we put him in the second day of outside exploration in the grass left Ren a little worse for wear. He had some scratches on his face. I am pretty worried about the biting bugs in the grass here too. In New York you could see anything that might cause you lots of pain like bees, wasps or caterpillars but my experience in Tennessee has left me with bites and bumps that lead me to be more wary of the ground bugs.

A friend who I have known since college and spent lots of time together with in Japan is visiting us today for about a week. His wife is also Japanese and they also have a baby that is a month older than Ren, Rachel now 10 months old. I'm excited to see my friend and his wife who I know well too but most of all I am curious to see how Ren and Rachel interact. Since he stays with Aya and has never been to Day Care, Ren has never really been around other babies his size and never been within touching distance. I hope he doesn't hurt her too much.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Ren's First Pool

While visiting TN for memorial day weekend Ren got to try out his new pool. He seems to be happy for a while then wants to climb out to crawl around.

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Friday, June 09, 2006