Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Exciting and The Terrifying

Public toilets are always a mildly scary thing for me. Germs, smells, potential lack of necessary equipment, etc. Japan has taken my feelings about public toilets to a whole new level. From the bizarre, to the "wow, this is awesome", to the "I pray I never have to use that ever in my life".

Somehow, I have managed to avoid using the infamous "squatty potty"... it terrifies me.
The thing I find strange is that a lot of Japanese seem to prefer this, I'm sure it is what they are used to, but I've had to have Rylan and Beckam use these, and they are way dirtier and smellier. Any guess why? I'm not even sure how I would manage this without stripping everything off.

Here is fairly typical "Western-style" toilet. (heaven bless the person who introduced Western-style to Japan!) None of the buttons on the handle are for flushing. Good luck figuring out what they are for :)

Directions on how to use a Western style toilet...no standing on it, or sitting backward

Directions on how to use all the buttons on the handle

Here is a close up of some of the options you might have while using one of the high-tech toilets. Two different sprays for different areas, increase or decrease the water pressure, you can have the toilet make a flushing sound, you can also increase or decrease the volume on the flushing sound, "powerful deodorizer", clean the nozzle's of the sprayers, and my personal favorite the heated seat option. We stayed in a cabin last weekend, it was freezing, and I said a little prayer of gratitude every time I sat down on the toilet. Ingenious. I will be bringing one home.
There are even more high-tech toilets out there that I have yet to encounter. I think some greet you, some automatically lift and lower the lid. My friend's toilet has a sink above the tank so the clean water you use to wash your hands get's recycled to flush the toilet! How very green of them :)
Even though we don't really feel like tourists anymore, the simplest of activities are still mini-adventures :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surprise...We're Alive!!!

I think it is rather appropriate that after a 6 month or so hiatus, my first blog back is about food. My life revolves around it. With so much that has happened to us and for us since we've moved to Japan the thought of blogging has been overwhelming, so I figured I would start small.

Is ice cream universally delicious??? Most treats in Japan have been...well, different. Does red bean curd sound tempting? It's not bad, (unless you expect it to be chocolate, since they are the same color, and bite into a treat expecting chocolately goodness, only to have the bland taste of red bean curd, then it's disgusting) but that's it for me, sweets have typically been "not bad". (that does exclude chocolate, their chocolate is yummy) Then we tried their ice cream. Delish. And not just delicious, but their ice cream is in line with many things Japanese, innovative.

What's the best part about an ice cream cone? The end of the cone, the part, the last bite where the cone is soft and full of creamy ice cream. Now imagine a product that is entirely the end of the cone...yes, not only is it possible, but it's here and readily available:

Not only is is delicious, but it avoids the typically huge mess we have when our boys eat ice cream. Who could ask for anything more?

Also, for anyone who is crazy enough to hate cones, they have an awesome way of delivering that option as well:

It's like a single serving of soft-serve ice cream. Just pop the top off and squeeze it right into your mouth...

Both options are in grocery stores or vending machines all over Japan! (are they not ingenious???) There are many things I often wonder why we haven't adopted them in the US and vice versa. We have been enjoying our adventure in this exotic country, hopefully I'll be better about sharing those adventures from now on...we'll see :)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Twins

The boys just turned four! Time has flown, and we've loved every minute. The other night I said "Goodnight Boys" when I was putting Canon to sleep and teared up a little that my twins were no longer babies. It's been so fun to watch them grow up. They are a lot alike but definitely individuals with their own personalities.

Rylan: Baby "B". Mr. Rambunctious. He is a mover and shaker, always has been, even in the womb Rylan was constantly moving. He is fun-loving, hates being the center of attention, but loves to be around people. He never walks normally, he's either skipping, shuffling, jumping, zig-zagging, running or walking on his tip-toes (I'm serious). Loves Lightening McQueen, the color red, apples and bananas (he thanks Heavenly Father every night for apples and bananas :).

Beckam: Baby "A". He is Mr. Outgoing. He doesn't seem to care what others think. He's not a follower, he will do his own thing if he isn't into what his friends are doing. He enjoys his alone time. When he sings it sounds more like Mike Myers poetry from "So I Married an axe Murderer" (listening to him is one of my all-time favorite things). He loves Batman, the color blue, and cold cereal. Today he came up and hugged me, then told me quietly that he wants to live with me forever. I almost died. :)

They are both awesome big brothers, and Canon lights up when they are around. Life is so much fun with these two. Happy Birthday to my twins, I love you!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

6 Months

All right, so he'll be 7 months next week, at least we took his 6 month pictures when he was still technically 6 months! Is there anything as wonderful as a naked baby?

I love my little man!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lost in Translation - Food

There is way too much to post on Japan. Why have I taken so long? Now it's overwhelming, so I will just do little bits at a time. It has been awesome, we have seriously loved our time here! I'm still trying to adjust to living in a foreign country versus visiting a foreign country. There is so much we want to see and do, and it's hard to stay at home and try to live a normal, stable life!

One of the best things we've experienced has been the food. Sushi. Tempura. Sashimi. Super fresh and high quality (even when it's relatively inexpensive). Not to mention the tons of delicious food we eat, but don't really know what it is. Plus the other Asian food here is awesome! But good food has only been part of our culinary experience here. There have been many surprises both good and bad!

Robert eating from a Bento box

Dinner at a work party. Sashimi, white beet, tons of tempura, whole fish (Robert ate the eyes! ) It was all amazing, except the shellfish, we don't really know what it was and it was a combination of slimy, overly chewy and sandy...

Some restaurants have you take your shoes off and put them in a cubby and wear their slippers (they were WAY too small for us!)

The snack food has been fun to try. Many have "english" names, and some just make me realize how immature I actually am!
The name says it all with this one, it tastes like sweaty grapefruit juice!!! YUCK! Of course it didn't help that we tried it at room temperature.
We tried this because we thought the name was funny. So far it has been our favorite, it tastes like orange creamsicles
They have about every flavor of KitKat you can imagine, here is mango, it was all right
Again with the funny names, this is just like a Crunch bar
Of course the seafood markets are awesome here. I was especially impressed with Costco's seafood section, you can get whole octopus, eel, sea urchin, and countless other things
This is the sea urchin.
The vending machines here will be the topic of another post, but I have to add that at some restaurants you order from a vending machine, it spits out a ticket and you hand it to your waiter, pretty cool! It's very nice for us because there are usually pictures so we have a better idea what we are ordering :)
It has been an awesome adventure, we are trying to enjoy every minute of it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Modern Medicine

It seems as flu season nears the media won't stop talking about Swine Flu. Wash your hands people, and STAY HOME if you have symptoms! Anyway, Robert read this book called "A Short History of Nearly Everything", and in it there is some info of the "Great Swine Flu", also known as the "Great Spanish Flu". He read an exerpt for me that really puts everything into perspective. I will share some of it. The Great Swine Flu killed about 21 million people in its first 4 months!!! About 80% of American casualties in WWI, came from the flu. Yes, very shocking, but here is the exerpt that made me feel so blessed to live in these times:

"In an attempt to devise a vaccine, medical authorities conducted tests on volunteers at a military prison...The prisoners were promised pardons if they survived a battery of tests. These tests were rigorous to say the least. First the subjects were injected with the infected lung tissue taken from the dead and then sprayed in the eyes, nose, and mouth with infectious aerosols. If they still failed to succumb, they had their throats swabbed with discharges taken from the sick and dying. If all else failed, they were required to sit open-mouthed while a gravely ill victim was helped to cough into their faces."

ewwww. Those poor prisoners! How disgusting! What is ridiculous is that NONE of them got the flu! The only one who got sick was the ward doctor, who then died! The author, Bill Bryson, goes on to say that the explanation is that the epidemic had passed through the prison just a few weeks earlier, and all the volunteers had survived that, and probably had a natural immunity.

Aren't all of us happy to be alive today? And, of course, happy to not be prisoners willing to go through anything to get pardoned :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rylan's Latest Talent

I think we may have a future Olympic figure skater on our hands...

Can you believe how fast he is spinning?

Rylan stealing Beckam"s Pacifier (7 months old)