Sushi The Cow Goes On A Diet

Posted on Monday, May 31, 2010 | 0 comments

   That's right, our little 3.5-month-old kitten is already dieting...not of her own accord, obviously. It's a last resort, seeing as so far nothing else has stopped her nasty case of the runs! We've tried everything from antibiotics to leaving less cat food out in general, but so far it's all been a big (fat) FAIL. If we leave less cat food out, then Wasabi doesn't get enough since Sushi eats most of it, leaving us with two cats howling for food--one of whom keeps running to the litter box.
 So, we finally caved, started putting Wasabi's bowl on top of the fridge (Sushi is either too stupid or too small to get up there), and bought a $20 bag of high-fiber specialty cat food from the vet's for Sushi. Along with the high price tag, it came with strict instructions to only give her 44 grams of food per day. Fine by me, considering that I don't want to go and buy another bag any time soon! NOT fine by Sushi though, who is used to gorging herself and filling her round little tummy until she pukes...or poops, I should say. Now, while we're apparently solved the indigestion problem, we've also created another....our little stink-butt has resorted to attempting to eat anything and everything. If that doesn't work, she then HOWLS until fed, usually starting at around 5 am every morning. Here's hoping that we can slowly reintroduce regular (and higher volume) food later this week...or else we'll need to invest in some really good pairs of earplugs!

                        The scene in the kitchen early Saturday morning...a plate of cookie scraps that I didn't bother to put in the fridge. Note the big chunk on the counter that wasn't there the night before!

                           Rips and Teeth Marks in the Saran Wrap!
                   Our fat little cookie monster. She curled up this way all by herself

          Cuddling with Wasa-Momma after a long night of stealing peanut butter cookies

Sigourney Weaver Has A Heart!!!

Posted on Friday, May 28, 2010 | 0 comments

    I wrote this post on March 11th...the results of yet another of many, many trips to the doctor that followed during my first trimester. I don't know that I'll bore you with all of them, but since this was the first time I saw our baby's heartbeat, I thought I'd share.

  Went back to the doctor this morning for a follow-up on my 'threatened miscarriage'...thank God, everything looked good! No more bleeding, cervix wasn't dilated (I'm not sure if it was the first time or not, since I was too upset to even think to ask)...and, and, AND...I saw the heartbeat for the first time! I wasn't expecting to see it so early (we have an appointment in 2 days to specifically check for the heartbeat), but it was definitely reassuring to see that little blip on the screen. I cannot begin to describe the feelings of joy and relief at seeing that tiny little pulse. But, I'm also disappointed that Yuki wasn't able to see it with me for the first time. It's just one of those things you hope to be able to share with your partner. Or at least it is for me. Still, I'm sure that the novelty won't have worn off when we go back in a couple of days!

                  Our little one measured in at 3.1 mm today, right on target for 6 weeks!


I Broke The Scale!

Posted on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | 1 comments

  It sounds like a really bad joke...17 weeks pregnant today, and I go and break our scale this morning! In my defense, I really haven't gained that much weight yet...and I didn't even step on the scale before it broke. I swear! Here's what happened:
  I pulled it out from its storage space under the bathroom cabinet and noticed that it wasn't zeroed. It was reading 85 kg, in fact. So I pushed on it a bit, it made a weird popping noise, and then froze. I admittedly shook it a little to try and 'un-freeze' it (very technical, I know), and then a tiny piece of metal fell out of the bottom. Oops. Definitely broken.
At which point I started to somewhat guiltily rejoice: I HATE that scale! (It's so well known in our household that I H-A-T-E that scale that Yuki half-jokingly accused me of breaking it on purpose). Here's the deal with this scale: Yuki got it as some sort of promo when he signed up for a bank account years ago, before I moved here. We've just never bothered to get another one, seeing as we rarely use it anyway. But, the times that I have used it, I have to admit that it's driven me crazy. First off, I'm not a Disney fan. Not for adults, at least.  I especially don't appreciate Stitch snarling at me when I've having a 'fat' day. And secondly, the stupid thing was never all that accurate anyway, making any sort of reading it gave a rough estimate at best.
 My hatred of this particular scale would make for perfectly guilt-free rejoicing over its demise, except for the fact that we had just decided to try and cut spending in order to save for when the baby arrives and I can't work. But it looks like this weekend we might be going scale-shopping. Keep your fingers crossed that I can manage to stay away from one of the deluxe models that reports on your body fat and muscle mass, cooks dinner, does the dishes, and of course, tells you your weight.
                             The Hated Scale. Die Stitch Die!

                      Wasabi wondering if she should cut back on the late-night snacking

                                  The Baby Bump: 17 weeks!

I'll Take 'Threatened Miscarriage for 500', Bob

Posted on Monday, May 24, 2010 | 1 comments

   I wrote the following post on March 9th, the day I began having complications with this pregnancy. (We're at 16 weeks and 5 days now, with everything looking good finally). I've been debating sharing, seeing as it's been a rather personal experience for me, but I also want to make sure that one day our baby can read about all that's been happening while he/she is being formed. So here it is. Oh, and the baby will, until further notice, be called Sigourney Weaver. My brother decided on this name after about a week of calling it 'The Alien'. He still calls it THE ALIEN on occasion, but Sigourney is what I'm going to stick with. 

   I have to say, right now I don't know if any of these baby posts will ever actually be made public. I may just end up saving them as drafts if they end up being too painful to publish.. But for the moment, I'm going to stay positive and keep praying that God lets me have this baby.
 Woke up this morning, felt ok as usual, no heartburn even. I told Yuki that I was actually a bit worried and was thinking about taking another pregnancy test before our doctor's appointment on Saturday. Leave it to me to think that feeling all right is a bad thing! But, unfortunately, in this case maybe it was a premonition, who knows.
 ...Right after Yuki left for work, I began having cramps and some bleeding (sorry if this is TMI). Of course I panicked and called him, begging him to call the doctor and then come home asap. Waiting for him to get back was terrible, and I was absolutely convinced that I was losing this baby. There wasn't a ton of blood, but definitely enough to make my mind scream 'miscarriage!!!!!!'. My mom managed to talk me down on the phone until Yuki got back, and then we left for the doctor's office.
  I can't remember the last time I was so scared, waiting for the doctor to try and find the embryo on the ultrasound screen. My legs must've looked like little chicken legs, all goose-bumpy and rattling around in the stirrups. I was trying as hard as possible to get them to stop shaking, but they weren't having any of it.
  Any, there is was, our baby, really obvious and much bigger than last week!!! I wanted to scream for joy, but the doctor immediately started cautioning us that we weren't out of the woods yet. She showed me the uterine bleeding that could also be seen on the ultrasound, ugh.
 To make a very, very, very long morning short, I was basically given a shot and 3 new sets of pills, plus the admonition that I'd better stick to bed rest for at least the rest of the week, if not longer. BED REST. This is akin to having my fingernails pulled out. Slowly. Plus, I looked up the US recommendations for threatened miscarriage, and they don't advise bed rest any more as a means of treatment. Still, I guess that doctor's orders are doctor's orders, and considering the amount that I keep getting up and moving around the apartment, it won't be strict bed rest anyway.
  For now, I'm going to assume that this baby has a 100% chance of continuing and becoming a live birth. I refuse to let go of her, so my body had better listen--and it's going to listen better than my legs did this morning, too!
                            Sigourney Weaver (the round black circle in the middle) is getting bigger! That smallish dark patch above Sigourney that looks somewhat like a stick is blood....let's pray it's gone by the next ultrasound...oh, and the large dark patch on the left is nothing, apparently, so ignore that.

Sushi Loves Fish!

Posted on Sunday, May 23, 2010 | 0 comments

  Actually, I think that Sushi loves just about anything even potentially edible. We took her back into the vet this morning for her continued tummy troubles, and she'd gone up 300 grams in a week! Little porker! (I have no idea how much 300 grams is in lbs, but it's definitely too much for a kitten to be packing on in only 7 days). 
 The vet is guessing that part of the reason she's still having belly issues is the fact that she's obviously eating too much...only, as I may have said before, we're not sure how to stop her, since Wasabi is a free feeder, and they share the same bowls. Every time I refill the food bowl, this little pig comes running up and starts purring loudly, right before she dives in. Try to take her away from it, and she squawks like her tail is being pulled off. Maybe it's time to just start buying diet cat food? 
 Anyway, last night Sushi also showed us that she has no problem with eating people food, either. We usually allow her to sit on a lap while we're eating, since she's the perfect lap kitty and tends to sleep right through dinner. Unless the main course happens to be fish, that is. We didn't realize until looking at the photos later that she'd actually bitten into the fish tail! Not that I was going to eat the tail anyway, but ew! Lesson learned: no more Sushi at the table on fish nights! 

                          Popping her head up....Famous last words: 'Aw, isn't she cute??'

                         Bad kitty! But the cross-eyed look is admittedly hilarious

Kinzaburo Green Tea Shop and Chaffles

Posted on Saturday, May 22, 2010 | 0 comments

  We tried out a new green tea shop in downtown Shizuoka this morning: Kinzaburo. This place opened at the beginning of the month and is already famous for their 'chaffles', which are mini soft waffles filled with green tea cream (ocha is Japanese for green tea, hence the CHAffles name).
 Now, I'm game for trying just about anything new, but I can't say that I had absolutely huge expectations for green tea cream-filled waffles. Boy, was I wrong. These things are AMAZING! And cheap, too--only 100 yen each. I found out that the reason they contain so much green tea for the price is that the store owner is a green tea exporter, and this is his side project. I can't remember the man's name, but he won top prize as green tea master in a national tv show here called TV Champion, a type of show that pits the best of the best against each other in various categories.
...There are several varieties of chaffles to choose from--your basic green tea and cream mixture; a green tea, cream, and custard mix (a milder flavor for those who don't appreciate the bitterness of strong green tea); and also a roasted green tea and cream mix. For a little bit more (120 yen), you can also buy chaffles with sweet red beans mixed into the green tea cream. We decided to try both the standard green tea/cream type and the roasted green tea/cream chaffle. I'm a bit traditional, as is Yuki, so we preferred the standard flavor, although the roasted green tea one was quite good, too.
If you live in the Shizuoka area or are ever visiting, I would highly recommend stopping by. Not only do you get a chaffle for a great price, you can also sit upstairs in their beautiful tea room and eat your chaffle along with a variety of free teas they have set out. Today's selection included a grape-infused green tea that I fell in love with. It actually tasted more like it had honey in it than grapes, but it was wonderful nonetheless. Unfortunately, I had to go and pick the most expensive tea of the bunch--about 1000 yen/$10 per small package---so we didn't end up taking any of that home! Maybe next time.
  One final note--the chaffles are made fresh daily and contain no preservatives, so it's recommended that they be eaten on the same day that they're purchased. Which means that Kinzaburo doesn't ship these little treats out anywhere, making them truly a local specialty.
  Directions to Kinzaburo (these are rather vague, since I'm not great with street names....)
 On Gofuku-cho (a street in downtown Shizouka), heading away from the JR Station and Parco, pass Isetan Department store and keep going straight. You'll go another block or two and continue straight through a big intersection--there will be some banks around this area. Keep going straight, Gofuku-cho will become Kinza-cho (tea street). After maybe 5-10 minutes, maybe less--it was hot and I was tired so I'm not sure how long---you'll see Kinzaburo up on your right. Enjoy your chaffles!

 We only had our cell phone cameras this morning, so apologies that the pics aren't the best quality


                           They're a bit bigger than bite-size...maybe 3-bite-size or so

My Baby Is A Year Old Already!

Posted on Friday, May 21, 2010 | 0 comments

Yes, that's right. Wasabi turned one yesterday. Luckily, she's still quite small for her age, and we're hoping that she'll stay that way. Sushi, on the other hand, appears to be growing exponentially, quite possibly due to the massive amounts of cat food she's going through. And don't even talk to me about just feeding her less---a great idea, until you experience the sound of her squawking at 4 in the morning! Plus, she and Wasabi share the same food bowl, so it's rather difficult to limit their intake, seeing as Wasa is a free-feeder. I guess that Sushi is too, only just a bit more freely than we'd like.
In order to start her birthday celebration off properly, Wasabi was given more hot rice than usual in the morning. The spoiled little monkey normally gets one or two grains, hand-fed to her from pieces picked out of Yuki's bowl. Any more than that and she either gags on it or just pukes it up later. Still, we took a chance and gave her a decent 6 grains. She was quite pleased and also managed to neither gag nor puke. Success!
That was basically all Wasabi got out of the birthday festivities, although we did let her pick on Sushi a bit more than usual, and she got some extra petting in the afternoon.
For the rest of us (Sushi excluded), I decided to bake some chocolate cupcakes with a wasabi peanut butter frosting. Cupcakes tasted great, frosting was good too...only unfortunately they weren't really appealing when combined. I think next time I'll leave these particular cupcakes unfrosted and maybe use sugar cookies or something mild as the base for when I make the wasabi-peanut butter frosting. The chocolate was just too strong to blend well with the spicy peanut butter. Live and learn.
Happy 1st Birthday, Wasabi! May you have many, many more years of biting to come!

                         Chocolate cupcakes with Wasabi's namesake frosting

                              Bath time!

                         This usually lasts for about 5 minutes...

                          ...and then a WWF wrestling match starts up!

The Alien's Gestation Begins

Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | 2 comments

I think that most people already know by now, but...I'm pregnant! Baby Kuwabara is due November 3rd. I'm going to start publishing some drafts that I've been writing about our baby over the past few months. It's been an interesting time already, being pregnant in a foreign country with complications on top of it all! (Luckily said complications seem to have resolved, thank God).
Without further ado...

   Obviously I'm posting these events about 3 months after they happened, but I thought that I'd at least write everything out now, while it's all still fresh in my mind.
  So, I got up last Wednesday morning, back when we were still in the US. Went into the bathroom with Yuki (he insisted on being there for the 'moment), made him face the corner, and peed on the pregnancy test stick the doctor here had provided me with. Managed to only pee on my hand a little bit, yeah whoops. Honestly though, I'm 99% certain that it was a man who designed those tests. 'Urinate onto test strip for 5-7 seconds'. Right. Like I can aim in the first place, let alone pee only on the test strip for that long.
 Anyway, after capping the test and washing my hands profusely, Yuki and I retreated to the bedroom to wait for the results. This one was supposed to take up to 3 minutes. So we waited. And waited...and waited. Wouldn't you know it, the one time I'm fairly certain of the results, and we get a dud! The control bar didn't even appear!
 Luckily, the doc had given me 2 tests, so I went and found a plastic cup, peed into that, and repeated the process. (I wasn't about to take any chances, seeing as I didn't think I had another 5-7 seconds worth in me at the time)!
 Lo and behold....this time, there were 2 bars! One for the control, and one indicating pregnancy!! Yuki had to convince me that it was real, I was so shocked. Even though I'd had a good feeling about it all along, it was still so hard to believe. I started laughing and then immediately moved on to crying, since my next thought was 'I wish my dad would be here to meet his new grandchild'. Eh.
  After then jumping around a bit (but not too much, didn't want to disturb the embryo), I ran downstairs and waved the test in my brother's face. His sleepy response was 'Quit waving your toothbrush in my face', followed by 'Congratulations, you've got an alien in your stomach'. Thanks for the support, Andrew. (In his defense, he really was happy for us once he woke up later on that afternoon).
  I still didn't quite believe the test, so I ran to the drugstore and bought a 2-pack of early indicator tests. Took another one when I got home, and it too gave me a big old + sign! We waved that one in Andrew's face the next day, along with another one that I took the morning after that, just to be safe. Yes, paranoia about my child is already setting in!

                                    The positive test!

         Shitass (i didn't name her!) is thrilled...or else she just likes the smell of urine

                                   Us with the second test

                                   Definitely a positive

Happy Birthday, Dad

Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 | 1 comments

   Yesterday would've been my dad's 61st birthday. I'm still having trouble believing that he's gone at times, so it obviously wasn't the easiest day. I wanted to honor him in some way, so I baked one of his favorites--salmon loaf. He'd make it the last time we were home and it was so good that I'd asked him for the recipe. After he died, I was given a package he'd intended to mail to me but never got around to--containing not only the salmon loaf recipe but also a can of pricey red salmon to use in it.
  While in a baking mood, I also threw together a banana layer cake with cream cheese. While my dad was never one to turn down baked goods, lemon bars would've probably been his preference. However, finding cans of lemon frosting here is next to impossible, so banana cake it was.
  I'm not going to continue with this post since I'm already getting teary again and can't afford to look like a raccoon upon arrival at work, but I will say that I'm just so thankful to have had such a wonderful man as my father for as long as I did. Happy Birthday, Dad.

                               Sushi making an attempt on the salmon loaf

                            Yeah, I realize that it kind of looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa....

Cat Wars!

Posted on Sunday, May 16, 2010 | 0 comments

Here are a few examples of what the girls tend to do most of the day...well, actually, they sleep most of the day and then start up with these antics around bedtime. It peaks between 4 and 6 a.m, usually culminating in a fighting pile of fluff and fur on our bed. Needless to say, I've been a little cranky in the mornings due to lack of sleep!
I'm really glad that they're getting along so well overall but am also wishing that Sushi would grow out of her kitten phase and calm down just a little bit. But who knows, perhaps the sleep deprivation training might come in handy at some point??




                                  Relaxing together after finally getting worn out

                          Yawn. Time for bed now that everyone else is awake!

Downdown Matsumoto And A Bunch of Lazy Cows

Posted on Saturday, May 15, 2010 | 0 comments

  This is the last post from our Nagano trip; there'd be one more detailing our long drive up a mountain to a famous cow farm, had we not discovered upon arrival that it was too cold for the cows to be out and about! (Too cold?? I've seen cows out in the snow before in the Midwest! Lazy pampered mountain cows).
  ...Downtown Matsumoto is famous for its old-style buildings and store fronts, although it would appear that most of them have been re-made in recent years, albeit keeping with the traditional style. Here are a few samples from the main shopping area.

                          The only cow we managed to get a picture with

Matsumoto Castle

Posted on Friday, May 14, 2010 | 0 comments

  On our last day in Nagano, we visited Matsumoto castle early in the morning. I was really glad that we'd purchased tickets from the front desk of our hotel the night before, since the line to buy them on site was outrageous! By the time we'd toured the interior of the castle and headed back, the line was over an hour and a half long. I have the feeling that we wouldn't have waited in such a long line just to tour the castle, but I'm glad that we were able to, since the inside was pretty impressive, too.

                            Views of Matsumoto Castle

                            The line from hell


Kurobe Gorge Mini Train Ride

Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2010 | 0 comments

  Not to be confused with Kurobe Dam, Kurobe Gorge's mini train ('Kurotetsu' in Japanese) is actually in Toyama Prefecture, to the west of Nagano Prefecture. It is on the same river that serves the dam, obviously, and the railroad itself was built to enable construction of the dam. However, while there may be a much faster route from the dam to the gorge via railway, it took us just over 4 hours of driving due to traffic and having to travel through the mountains.
  May 1st was opening day for the mini railroad, and we had luckily reserved our seats well in advance, because the place was packed. Definitely worth the trip if you ever find yourself up that way, however!

                              Couldn't resist

                                     The mini train right after it leaves the station

                            Views from on board

                             Lunch at the end of the line: masuzushi--salmon or trout laid on a bed of rice, then wrapped in bamboo leaves and pressed into round cedar containers

                        A lot of the area at the top was closed off due to a landslide, but what we could see was beautiful