In protest to overpriced baby items

I really wanted a changing table, but all seemed overpriced, and then I saw one of those curved mats and decided that would be sufficient. So I went online and I couldn’t find anything under $50. Later today we were at the DIY store and I found this!


I am proud to use a $9 no-slip molded car floor mat for my baby’s butt and she loves the neck rest bump!

The big “C”

My mother has cancer. My mother has cancer. I still don’t quite get it. …and when it does feel like it’s sunk in, I still imagine a TV show – she’ll fight the good fight and lose her hair and people will rally and she’ll walk a marathon and then we live 20 more years together, or it’s a mistake and we laugh about the doc that mistook speedy metabolism and a thyroid condition. -No. My mother has pancreatic cancer. The one where I can’t find survival stats online because most people don’t survive it. The “good” news is that she may not be sick in bed and lose her hair. They might not do anything. She may be diagnosed as terminal and inoperable. We don’t know yet. We don’t even really know what to pray for yet.

So I’ve been living in limbo for 5 days since the diagnosis. Some moments I immerse myself in something: Internet shopping, cooking, TV, work for my company, work for my husband. These things distract me from the fact that there is nothing I can do, really, I can pray and hope and send good vibes and positive energy, but I can’t DO anything. Her oncologist will tell us our options later this week, and if we’re lucky, she’ll get to see a surgeon as well – happy thanksgiving! I hope that’s a sign that we will get good news, but maybe it is just a sign that we should be very thankful: afterall, I have spent more time with my mother in the last two months than in the last 8 years since I moved to Japan, and we got to enjoy that time without this cloud over our heads and occupying our thoughts, actions, and emotions. I am very grateful for that.

My newborn has been crying more than usual, but when I am crying she just looks at me – Does she know? She looks at me wantingly and then flashes a little smirk that says, “I love you” or “I love being yours”. It’s the most uplifting thing she could do, but then I think about all the years she could miss out on a grandma. Not just any grandma, but my mother: the most maternal person I could imagine.  She is pure hospitality, she bubbles with love and caring.  She’s so sweet and compassionate that bitter people can be annoyed (until the really understand that she is sincere and they melt). My mother takes her time for everything, almost to a fault. She is the personification of “stop and smell the roses …and tulips, and daffodils” (I think that is actually written on her bathroom wall!). She has “Glad” book journals and encouraged me to do the same when I was being negative.

The stages of grief don’t seem to happen in stages. I am feeling a mixture of all of them at once: denial (forgetting?), anger (frustration?), bargaining, depression (especially for others like unborn grandchildren), and acceptance (include gratefulness). I don’t know if I’m ready for what comes next, but I know that my mother has cancer.

If my computer had eyes…

This is what it would see SEVERAL hours in a day. This is post midnight feeding and cranky session…Image


Something’s different here…

Jake is in high gear trying to get everything ready for the ski season.

This is the upstairs room that needs the least work : Jacuzzi and toilet install ONLY 😉

Here’s the toilet room before and after…


Sometimes Fio and I pitch in!

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Below is one of the downstairs rooms where the wall had to be knocked out to expand the room and all the floorboards had to be re-set straight. This was a BIG project, but the flooring is done and Jake gave the walls a new look with paneling, too!

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No such luck

No real nap today, no real nap yesterday. I got some painting done and managed a couple business calls with my office. Are kids supposed to have regular naps – like 3 a day at this age?? Of course my kid would be the exception. 

…at least she is mostly happy and smiley when awake! 🙂 

What I got done while my daughter had a growth spurt

This is the second or third time that Fio has consistently taken daytime naps for more than 20 minutes at a time. Since she is not even 3 months old, I am still hoping that one of these times it will become a regular thing, but like her mother, she doesn’t want to miss anything and usually tries to be awake for most of the day: except when she has a growth spurt! This time she woke up for feedings and mostly slept or cried besides. 

So, I shoveled the path from the house, around the car, pushed snow off the car, built a bath to the oil tank (for heat) and around the back of the house. Next day I cleaned up our rooms, taking car of my things, my husband’s things and our daughter’s. I also did several loads of laundry. Next day, I painted the inside and outside of a new bathroom my husband built. The next day (today), I set up our wireless network for ourselves and guests using a Time Capsule base station and I helped my husband move wood into the shed for the boiler. IF she sleeps for 3-4 hours again tomorrow afternoon, I’m going to repaint the railings on the outside of the house. YAY! 

First Snow in Madarao, part 2


Well it didn’t stop at lunch, or dinner, or overnight. It is still snowing in fact, but only sprinkles now. We guess it is around 15 inches and after posting this, I will search for the best snow report online for Madarao (so far I like Tokyo Snow Club, but looks like forecast only and I need someone to tell me how much we have now).

Before and After

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I am told that this is early for heavy snowfall and usually the first signs of snow are in mid to late November. That’s why our natural ski hill doesn’t open until the 2nd or 3rd week of December and I am hoping that Crawfish Madarao Lodge will be ready to open then, too!

My husband is running around with his head spinning about all the preparations he did not do, emotionally and physically. The most notable being snow tires and moving the woodpile to the shed (oops!), but there is so much more than that. He keeps repeating, “This is it. Snow until April – just snow!” The words are the same over and over but the tone shifts from despair to enthusiasm.

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As a Minnesotan who longs for the winters of my childhood, this early blast gives me energy and calm at the same time. As we explore our new winter wonderland, I explode with all the things I have been telling me husband about snowy climates that make them better than his native Tokyo – “See, it is warmer than freezing rain in Tokyo! Snow is simply warmer!”

Don’t misunderstand though, I am not the reason that we are taking on this mountain endeavor. I thought our getaway should be near the ocean: somewhere near Izu perhaps. He felt the same, but much like how my husband picked the location for his music livehouse in Tokyo, he was spending time with my international friends: foreigners who have made Japan their home, when he switched from summer to winter. It was a cool breeze on a sunny day with warm reflections off the snow. Our dog pranced and leaped through snow powder and the wood stove warmed the kitchen already filling with the smells of a slow roast. He’d been to this beat up home that we all called Serenity several times in summer and winter. I can’t be sure his exact thought process, but I can guess that he realized that mountains have appeal year-round and the rugged winter life was a challenge more appealing to him as well well. From then on, his fantasy property shopping shifted from Izu to Nagano and a year and a baby later, we are here!

So, it’s snowing and he is seeing a whole foot in one day for the first time in his life. As he shoveled around the car, I had to laugh, “First time?”

“no, no, I’ve shoveled snow before in Tokyo.”

“really? like this?”


I LOVE IT! Thank you, snow!

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