Monday, July 28, 2008

Now We are Four: The World Meets Mia Faith Elliot

Our Most Recent Family Photo

I will not even attempt to catch up on all the blog posts I have meant to write but haven't over the past couple of months . . . or at least I won't for now. And I will not simply leave everyone with a link to my online album of "The Birth of Faith" because Yuko still hasn't had a chance to censor it. So for now I will make a little effort (but not so much effort as to drown my motivation) to offer up for the benefit of our long suffering friends and relatives a compilation of select photos of our family's event of the year--with captions and commentary.

The handwritten portions of this sign attached to Faith's hospital bassinet declare, among other things, that the occupant of the bassinet is Mia-chan, that the protagonist of the event commemorated by the sign is Yuko Elliot, that the said event took place in the 20th year of Heisei, July 19, at 9:28 a.m., and that Mia-chan weighed 3,876 grams and measured 51 centimetres at that moment in history. It fails to mention anything about "Saturday," but I will throw that information in for free. Saturday babies are marginally more expensive than weekday babies. Oh, and the pink bunny-eared balloon in the top right corner says "girl-child." I have already explained Faith's name in a previous post, so I will take the short cut of providing a link to it rather than explaining it all over again.

美信 Faith, Approximately 32 Minutes after Being Born
(Click here to View for Comparison a similar Photo of 恵真 Grace taken exactly one year and one week before this photo.)

The very subject matter of photos taken in delivery rooms frequently renders them ill-suited for publication in blogs (although if you followed the link in the previous sentence, you probably realize that I was a lot more "daring" two years ago than I am now). Hence I begin the record of Faith's postnatal life 32 minutes after it actually started, even though I carefully videotaped the first half hour of it, not to mention the half hour leading up to the first half-hour (Yuko pointed out that it would be unfair for Faith not to have a "birthday video" since Grace has one).

After Getting Over Her Initial Shock, Grace Took a Great Interest in "Mee-chan"
I can only assume that up until this moment she thought that "Mee-chan" (diminutive of Mia) meant "big belly" or "bellybutton."

After temporarily getting over her fascination with Faith, Grace developed an equally keen interest in her mother's breakfast. One of Yuko's main complaints about giving birth to Grace was how HUNGRY it made her. For some reason, on that occasion the staff brought her breakfast into the pre-labour room just as she was going into labour and took it away just as Grace was born. Anticipating a similar tragedy, we came armed with power snacks so Yuko wasn't hungry at all. Ironically, this time the kitchen staff brought her breakfast right into the delivery room and left it there all morning.

Sisters

Don't ask me why everyone is resting on Yuko's hospital bed except for Yuko . . . after all, no one else in the family went through the hard work of giving birth (although I suppose Faith went through the hard work of being born). In Japan it is standard practise for even problem-free births to be followed up with a minimum of 5 days convalescence in the hospital or clinic (fully covered by insurance). No one believes us when we tell them that it is common for mothers in North America to go home the same day they give birth.

At the clinic of our choice (St. Cecilia Ladies' Clinic) a four course meal catered by a local hotel is a part of the deal. The doctor/owner himself comes around to congratulate each couple and pour them a glass of grapefruit juice. I'm pretty sure that that doesn't happen at Mutsu Public Hospital (which is where most people in our village travel to to give birth).

Oops, I guess this is our most recent family photo--taken the day we brought Faith home.

Grace Introduces Faith to Our Living Room
(During the two weeks leading up to Faith's birth, when I was waiting at home alone for a phone call from Yuko telling me her contractions had begun, I had brought Grace's little table into the living room so that I could eat curry and rice night after night while watching movie after movie. Not that I was being totally degenerate. I did try baking bread once--in a home bakery, that is--and I did get a descent day's work in every day. I just couldn't sleep at night, being a two-and-a-half hour drive away from my family).

Grace immediately set about rearranging the living room, including Faith's child seat.

Grace knows that both these chairs are hers, so she likes to use both of them, even though she can only actually sit in them one at a time.

Nap Time

Ditto

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Growing: Three Months In the Life of Grace

Dirty Face Smooching the Camera

Clean(er) Face Smooching the Sliding Glass Door

More of the Same

Why can I not help devoting fully 20% of this blog post to these blowfish photos?

Napping Freestyle

Oops, could somebody get that for me before the fish do?

The Traveller
(On the Oma-Hakodate ferry en route to Hokkaido)

Watching Maternal Jee-ji Burn Stuff in Hokkaido

Finishing a Healthy Fruit Slushy after a Visit to Mrs. Murphy

First Time Seeing the Natcchan Rera (Or is this the Natchhan World?) for the First Time

Rain in the Front Yard

Sunshine at the North Pole of Honshu
(a.k.a. Oma-zaki)

First Time Driving
(She Wanted to Drive the Red Car, But It Wasn't Working)

Free Rental Tricycle at the Sports Park in Mutsu
(Be advised that the kitty-cars cost ¥200 per 2 laps)

. . . which brings us to horseback riding in July

There's ever so much that I've skipped, and I don't know if I'll ever get around to posting about it.

Grace Masters the Tea Ceremony

We usually get together with the Muraguchis about once a week. Sometimes Mrs. Muraguchi is away for the first half of our visit, either for dancing or tea ceremony lessons, and when she arrives home she is still overflowing with the artistic spirit. That's how Grace landed this tea ceremony lesson back in April (she was a year and nine months old at the time).

Mrs. Muraguchi has all the equipment at home . . . stuff the average tea drinker would have no idea what to do with.

So How Did I Do?

Once She Had Mastered the Art . . .

. . . She Was Ready To Formally Serve

Dated Garden Update

This is what my unauthorized garden looked like in April. This year I dug up a much bigger swath of ground in the shape of an L to a depth of about 20cm. It was labour intensive to say the least since the ratio of rocks to soil by volume was about one to one. I piled most of the rocks behind the log bordering the bottom of the L but used the biggest ones to beef up the fire pit I made in my new clearing (featured in the previous two posts).

Someone Else's Garden in April
(This is the view from our dining room, but taken from a different angle)

Last year I retired Stinky, the store-bought composter, in favour of an elaborate apple box construction of my own. That apple box jumbo composter is what you saw burning in the previous post. This year, I have replaced it with a single upturned apple box embedded in my newly tilled garden plot--a stealth composter.

Closeup of the Stealth Composter

I have since removed the middle board all together and now use a heavy duty plastic apple box weighted with rocks as the lid. A lid is necessary to keep out the local crows, cats, tanuki, foxes and bears (okay, it wouldn't stop the bears, but . . . ).

Quarterly Update On My Clearing

Yuko's Father Contributes to the Cause During a Visit to Kazamaura

Well, okay, this update will actually only bring us up to the end of April. The more recent photos of the fruit of my labour are all in the memory card of our other camera which is currently residing in Aomori City with Yuko (where she is awaiting the debut of our second daughter).

Grace Helped Out With the Clearing . . .

. . . While Daddy Tested It for "Enjoyability"

Before Burning the Brush Pile

The View at Sunrise

After Burning the Brush Pile
Liberating the Fence from Overgrowth Has Been Particularly Problematic

There Are Still (Now, In Mid-July) Chunks of Tree Embeded In the Wire Mesh