Thursday, April 25, 2013

That's My Girl!

When I went to Mama and Me yoga last Wednesday, I assumed my biggest challenge would be to keep our little girl occupied. I did not anticipate continually fending off the advances of a 6-month old Lothario. They start so young nowadays….

No sooner had I laid Lindsay down on a makeshift bed and tucked her under a blanket than Lothario crawled over while my back was turned. In the time it took me to get a yoga mat 10 feet away, he had already “sauntered” up to her and was attempting to pull back the blanket. Seriously, he had the blanket in his cute, chubby hand and was pulling it back. Actually, since he’s nearly 3x her size, he looked less like Lothario and more like King Kong preparing to pluck his heart’s desire from the building.

We all had a laugh, his mother collected him and we began the class. Much to our amusement, he was bent on wooing her, approaching a second, third, fourth and finally, a fifth time. The last time, it seemed he came on all fours bearing gifts. He had rattle in his hand that banged on the floor every time his hand came down. I was watching closely to make sure he didn’t get too close with the toy and accidentally bang it on her head, but just as I was about to intercede, he dropped the toy and continued his approach. Perhaps he was mesmerized by her beauty and forgot all other earthly pleasures?

During this time, an older woman took a shine to Lothario. A 9-month old Mrs. Robinson kept trying to get his attention, even giving him her lovey at one point. Her mom stopped dead in her Warrior 2 tracks to exclaim, “She’s never given anyone her lovey before!” But poor Mrs. Robinson just didn’t seem to understand that Lothario likes the young ones. Unfortunately for Lothario, Lindsay barely seemed aware of his existence. That’s my girl!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Giri Giri Hanami

Giri giri, meaning just in time or just barely, is one of my favorite Japanese words. Unfortunately, I do most things giri giri, assuming giri giri stretches to 5 or 15 minutes delayed rather than just being called late. Fortunately, I now have a good excuse in the form of a cute little baby to cover my giri giri ways. Giri giri style, we just barely enjoyed a family outing to enjoy the blossoms before they faded.

You can never truly miss cherry blossoms in Japan since the trees are planted everywhere the concrete truck missed, but we nearly missed the experience of "hanami" or cherry blossom viewing. I've always found hanami to be one of the most festive times in Japan. It seems as if everyone collectively relaxes for the few days that sakura bloom in their town.

Everyone, I mean everyone, takes a break from normal life to enjoy hanami, which usually involves some sort of outing, usually including food and probably alcohol. It's not uncommon for offices to send a junior staffperson out in the morning to secure a good spot for the evening's party by sitting in it all day long. It's one of the few times you feel like people take an unplanned break since you can never know very far in advance exactly when the sakura will be in full bloom. This year's peak sakura in Tokyo were about 10 days earlier than average.

There are many famous hanami spots in Tokyo and we made it out to a few of them this week. Jason had a hanami walk with his NIDS colleagues one evening, while Lindsay and I made it out for a stroll along the Meguro river on Thursday and a picnic at Shinjuku Gyoen on Friday. We wanted to have a  family activity over the weekend, but the weather turned cold and rainy, canceling a nice picnic or stroll in the park. As giro giri luck would have it, I saw that a restaurant near us was running cherry blossom river cruises, called at 10:30 am about availability and learned there was a cancellation for the 11 am cruise. Somehow we managed to make it out the door and walk to the dock only minutes before the boat departed.

Enjoying a stroll along the Meguro River.

Tokyo Urban Baby hosted an outing at Shinjuku-Gyoen

Sakura appreciation from the back of a jet-ski
Hanami on the Meguro River.