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J. Otto
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Saturday, 24 December 2005
Happy Holidays!!

Dear Family and Friends,

The year 2005 is almost over. This is the very first time for us to spend a whole year in Tokyo. Looking back at our 2005, we had lots of events this year. Mana started going to preschool, Stuart had nasal passage surgery, Kayo's parents' first visit to Tokyo, Stuart's Mom's retirement, Mana's 3rd birthday, visiting Tokyo Disney Land and Sea, and our upcoming vacation in California and Hawai'i. We also had lots of friends' visit. (Once again, Thank you very much for your visit!) Lots of things happened and most of them were happy and fun events. How was your 2005?

We are very excited to visit California and Hawai'i and will see some of you there soon! If you are travelling just like us, have a nice and safe trip!

We wish you a happy and healthy 2006.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Love and Peace,
Stuart, Kayo and Mana

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005 9:49 PM JST
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Sunday, 11 December 2005
Mr. Lipman ... plus Kayo's BD

We went to the Apple store in Shibuya. You can try computers and iPods there and if you are a Macintosh user, you can ask for help there.
This is what we did at the store. I know it is a silly thing, but we can't do this with our PC. It was fun. Please take a look at more silly pictures we took.

Mana had a good time playing with Greg even though he said some mean things sometimes (as a joke, of course). We think he is quite good with kids.

We had tasty leftovers for dinner and also had a birthday cake for Kayo. Mana sang "Happy Birthday To You" and I thought that was a great present. Thank you everybody! And thank you for coming, Greg! Hope we can see Kumi-san next time. Have a nice and safe trip and we look forward to hearing your Omiyage story.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005 9:53 PM JST
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Saturday, 10 December 2005
Christmas Party

We threw a small Christmas party. We invited only Miwako and Keiko to join us and had fun decorating the room, baking cookies and making dinner all together. It was a small party, but we really spent quality time together.

Thank you very much for coming, girls! Let's have another party in February, shall we? (Miwako's BD party) Hope your lottery ticket is a winner.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005 9:55 PM JST
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Tuesday, 6 December 2005

We received a surprise visit from Ryo-chan again! She is such a sweet person who is always trying to make some time for us and visit us. She doesn't live in Tokyo, but whenever she is here for a business trip, she comes to our place even though she must be tired of working the whole day. She comes to see us even for just a few hours.
Thank you very much for coming, Ryo-chan! We are always happy to see you and hope you can stay longer next time!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005 9:57 PM JST
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Saturday, 26 November 2005
Thanksgiving Party!! + GRACE!!
Mood:  special

We didn't think we would have such a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. Thanks to this family whom we happened to meet at the park last month, they invited us to their Thanksgiving party.

<-Tomoko made turkey hats for everyone. Very cute!
This is Mana turkey.....

and this is Daddy turkey.

There was a roasted chicken (not easy to get a turkey in Japan, you know), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, a pumpkin pie and more! If you are American or Canadian, you might wonder what is special about it. Yeah, it was a very traditional Thanksgiving meal. BUT, believe or not, Tomoko who prepared this whole meal had never had such traditional Thanksgiving meal before. She just researched and made them. We were so impressed!! And they were all so delicious!!

We really enjoyed not only the food but also the conversation with them. Kids also played together very nicely and we all had a lovely time! It was a really cozy, relaxing and wondeful party. Thank you very very much, John, Tomoko, William and Mr. Iga!

After the party we rushed back home to welcome Grace who was visiting from Jamaica. It's been a few years since we last met her, but we didn't feel that time distance between us at all. We were really happy to see each other again and that night we were busy catching up (with Umeshu). Thank you very much for coming to our place, Grace! Hope to see you again.

This photo was taken on April 5 2003.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005 10:02 PM JST
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Sunday, 20 November 2005
Meiji Jingu Gaien
This year trees are taking more time to change their colors because of the warm temperature.

This is the street outside Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine) and one of the spots where you can see colored trees in fall. The street is about 300 meters long and there are 146 gingko trees.

The trees are not quite yellow yet, but they are still beautiful. Next month will be the best time to see them.

Please click here to see more pictures.

When we were walking around Omotesando shopping district, we found a little wooden Christmas tree that you can assemble. Since Mana started practicing a few Christmas songs at school, she is really interested in Christmasy things. As soon as we got this little tree, Mana started saying "Let's go home" because she wanted to put it together. So we stopped by a cafe and let her do it there. Wow! This is a good toy to keep Mana busy.

Mana's Chrismasy feeling kept going even in the subway train on the way home. She was singing;

Happy Birthday to Santa Claus
Happy Birthday to Santa Claus
Happy Birthday dear Snata Claus
Happy Birthday to Santa Claus

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005 10:33 PM JST
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Tuesday, 15 November 2005
What A Mess!!

Mana was playing very nicely and quietly by herself in her room shutting the door, but this is the mess she was making very nicely and quietly. WHAT A MESS!! I couldn't stop laughing at this.

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005 10:58 PM JST
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Sunday, 13 November 2005
Cold Stone Creamery debuted in Japan!!
Roppongi Hills is one of the hottest spots in Tokyo, but we don't really care for it. But this time is different. Stuart found out that "Cold Stone Creamery" opened up the very first store in Japan at Roppongi Hills recently. When we were in Fremont, California, there was a Cold Stone store near by and we sometimes enjoyed Cold Stone ice cream. Stuart was very excited about it and wanted to try "the Japanese Cold Stone Creamery".

We encountered a looong line and found the beginning of this line. It led to COLD STONE CREAMERY! Wow! It looks like the continuance from Disney Sea yesterday.

Finally we were 15 minutes away from the ice cream. Then one staff member gave us a menu (which is differnt from the US system) and explained how big each size is. We remembered that when staff (most of them looked like teens) got a tip from a customer, they sang a song. Do Japanese staff (who didn't look like teens, but early 20s.) sing, too? Yes, they do. They were singing Japanese songs - for free.

The ice cream were very good!! We all enjoyed it. This is Mana's first Cold Stone ice cream and she loved it!

We met Keiko-chan, too.


Please click here to see more pictures!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 12:43 PM JST
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Saturday, 12 November 2005
Tokyo Disney Sea Again!! ~ with Miwako-chan
Tokyo Disney Sea!! Again!!

We were supposed to go to Disney Land and that was our first plan, but when we got there around 1pm, Disney Land temporarily stopped letting people in because it was too crowded. So we went to Disney Sea instead.

This is the first visit for Miwako-chan and the second visit for us. First we went to "Mermaid Lagoon" to see the show about Ariel and her friends under the sea. Last time Mana was sleeping the whole time during the show and we hoped she could enjoy it this time. (We were crossing our fingers.) However, despite our wish and as we expected, Mana started crying when scary fish appeared and Stuart had to take her outside.

Next we went to "Arabian coast" and lined up for "Sindbad's Seven Voyages". We were really hoping Mana could ride this boat with us, but she sensed something and started screaming this time. Once again Daddy sacrified himself to drop out from the line.

After Miwako-chan and I enjoyed the ride (Sorry, Stuart-kun), we headed to "Lost River Delta" again. We went there before, but the show we wanted to see was already full. This time we lined up one hour before the show called "Mystic Rhythms". This show is our "Must-see" attraction and we hoped Miwako-chan would like it. (She did! How about Mana? She was hiding behind Mommy the whole time and ended up sleeping there. She wasn't crying at least...)

We couldn't enjoy as many attractions as we expected, but we had a good time. We asked Mana if she enjoyed it or not and she said she did. What did she enjoy? She said, "I liked popcorn and the Ariel video." (Mana was watching "Little Mermaid" at the store.) Well, Mana, we will go to Disney Land next time!!

Please click here to see us enjoying!!

Posted by skmstarosta at 12:01 AM JST
Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005 10:51 PM JST
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Thursday, 10 November 2005
I just opened our blog site and realized that I haven't written anything since October 12th. What a shame. Well, if I have to think of a reason, I simply say, I was busy. And I kind of assumed that I would go through this phase someday. However, at the same time I have been wondering how many people are actually taking a look at this site. It is good for me to have at least a few readers, but it doesn't matter, I guess. This is my practice to write in English!! So from now on, I will try to write more regulary. (Still it is nice to get some feedback from you sometimes....)

Looking forward to your feedback!

Now I have to look back over a whole month.

November 6th, Sunday
We went to the Kasai Aquarium with another family. The dad is Chinese-Canadian and mom is Japanese. Their daughter is 4 years old. It's nice to finally find another family to go out with.

November 5th, Saturday

We went to "Pony Land" again. There were not many kids waiting for the pony ride in the morning and Mana was able to ride twice (the afternoon is much busier).

November 4th, Friday
Mana and I got flu shots. She cried a little bit, but a Mr.Donuts treat soon made her happy. Poor Mana, she needs another one in 3 weeks... (FYI, a flu shot here cost 2,500yen (about $22) for adult and 3,400yen (about $29) for kids.)

November 3th, Thurseday -National Holiday

Miwako-chan who just came back from a business trip to London a week ago joined us and we went to the near-by park. We enjoyed paddling a pink "Coffee Cup" boat - Mana's choice.

Please click here to see more pictures.

November 2nd, Wednesday
What a nice surprise!! Totori-san who was transfered to London two months ago gave us a call. We (even Mana) were so happy to here from him. Look forward to talking to you!

October 31st, Monday -Happy Haloween!!

We didn't do anything special, but Mana and I decorated Mana's room a little bit. Since we knew that nobody would come for "Trick or treat", I decided to give some treats to Mana's playmates who live in the same apartment building.

October 29th, Saturday
We visited an international school festival -hopefully Mana's future school. The entire school was filled with lots of people and Mana was overwhelmed. We enjoyed Phillipino barbeque (So yummy!) and Pakistan curry, as well as some scrumptious desserts. It reminded us of the festival at MIIS.

In the evening we visited a local "Diwali Festival" in this area. We saw a fashion show for kids and their traditional dance.

<- He is a little "Gandhi".

October 23rd, Sunday

We went to the park called "Pony Land" where kids can ride a pony for free. Mana loves it. Then we met another international family by accident and shared our experiences in Japan. We know there are lots of international families in Tokyo; it's just a matter of finding them.

Posted by skmstarosta at 1:11 PM JST
Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005 8:56 PM JST
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