November 30, 2015

Rearviewmirror: Autumn recap

To paraphrase Papa Hemingway, I always expect to be slightly sad in the fall. Leaves drop from the trees and the brisk late afternoon air bites harder. Having swallowed my witches’ elixir of denial, though, the Rising Family rages against this cooler weather. That means I force them to prolong the warmth as long as possible. With that in mind, indulge me in visual recap of the fall’s activities.

We were determined to get just…one…more…camping trip in. Frequented a camping spot in Chiba prefecture for the second year, and again it was nearly deserted. Rained the first day which dampened our enthusiasm, but we caught some rays on the bookend Sunday as revenge. Here’s the Norman Rockwell family pose before the showers started.

Late October was Marina’s school sports day. I still enjoy watching the first-year kids wander around in amazement as generations of family members snap photos of it all. Marina and her second-year brethren are tranquil veterans of the sports day spectacles. Still fun to watch kindergarden kidz go through their paces.
Lady E. hung out with her old classmate. Too cool for me already, she does her best Sean Penn versus the paparazzi.
Capped off the month with the girls doing their own ad hoc “Hallowe’en dance,” which was followed by an in-house trick or treat.

Busy dads “MP” and I got a weekend away for some long-anticipated scuba diving in Kushimoto, Wakayama prefecture. Topside, the sea surface was cold and angry; at 50 feet under, warm and languid. It was essentially a 48-hour beer commercial.

This is just us goofing around at a Cocos restaurant stop. Fine dining! 

Next stop…Christmas
I caved in this year and consented to setting up the Christmas tree earlier than I ever have before. Here’s a teaser shot.

November 23, 2015

More on M: wacky, wily, and wiser

Now that she’s got five more years under her belt, we decided to revisit Marina for a catch-up conversation on life and love, the war between the sexes, and the color pink. These days she prefers to go by “M.”, like James Bond’s boss. Watch her careen into a room wearing a pale pink long-sleeve pullover with Flower Girls! emblazoned in aqua and yellow on the front, and you can see why she commands attention. To start the interview, she bounded to her seat and chirped: “fire away.” Needless to say, she seems far more mature than our previous rendezvous and explains how the past few years forced her to grow up.
What's been your most fearless move so far?
I dropped from monkey bars at a jungle gym with my eyes closed. Elena was preening because she had navigated the jungle gym monkey bars two at a time. Time for me to step up my game, I thought. So I just went for it, but I got stuck midway through; my upper body strength isn’t as much as an eight-year-old. I am just hanging there, but I refused to ask for my dad’s help. I just let go of the bars and it was a hard-ass landing. Didn’t cry, though. Wouldn’t give them the pleasure of that.
Embarrassing habits?
I have a squirrel-like tendency to hide my prized possessions and forget where they are. Occasionally I pick my nose and eat it.

What are three things that make you unlike any other kid at your school?
I know how to use a knife and fork. I sort of know the meaning of recent Disney movie songs. And I have eaten Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli—imported food, my’ caviar.

Who are you wearing these days?
Princess Purikyua apparel. I’m also into denim skirts of late, and partial to short-sleeves since summer even up to now although we’re on the cusp of winter. My beliefs and consumer choices show I am actually a child of summer.

What's your favorite ice cream/comfort food?
Love those Cocos restaurant desserts with strawberries. Mikan oranges. Bananas. And man oh man those cranberry bagels for breakfast. Mixed veggies? Blech. Carrots and broccoli? Double blech.

Who is more fun to play with, boys or girls?
Boys are gross. I learned that the first couple of weeks at school. Girls are simpler to deal with. Boys always organize too much and it takes the fun out of having fun. Plus, they only have to wear pants (not skirts). They have it easier, so I don’t like them. And I think it's important for girls to hang with other girls and learn from each other. It’s still a boys’ world.
Are you more of a guys' girl or a girls' girl?
Look, I don’t apologize for my love of hairbands and clips, Hello Kitty and Doraemon, or that I like pink, blue and orange—in that order. Colors aren’t political unless we make ‘em that way. This whole boy-versus-girl thing is so 20th Century power struggle-y. Get over it.

What's your average day like?
Get on the school bus. We have to do a morning run as soon as we get off the bus, unless it’s raining. It’s like the military.
Then we all throat-gargle with water and visit the toilet to wash our hands. Then make stuff out of paper, paint, or sing songs. Sometimes we make origami; I don’t like that, but tow the line. School lunches (only once a week) are OK but there are too many healthy foods like vegetables. I use my cute bit to negotiate lots of sweets out of dad on weekends.

What are you reading lately?
Barbie: What Shall I be?, Nickelodeon Story Time Collection, anything involving SpongeBob Squarepants. Truth be told, my dad reads ‘em all to me, but he is my favorite audioplayer.

Favorite quip about modern life?
Stop and smell the orange juice.
Tell use a joke (true story)
Setup is that Elena asks Marina the following quiz:
Q: (Elena) What goes up your leg but goes down your bum?
A: (Marina) Jellyfish!  Ouch.
The real answer was “playground slide.”
We didn’t get the joke either but that is the essence of M.: she’s adorable but is taking her own path, and in that way it means the joke is on us.