Saturday, March 31, 2012

Third and Last Farewell Party

I was running around in the afternoon, buying a thank you card for the S family, a birthday card and flowers for MT, pumping up the van to return to DS, etc. I realized that I’d been so selfish that I hadn’t thought of farewell gifts for the S family, ugh! I also realized how hard to come up with gift ideas for people who have included me as a part of their family. With my dead brain, I bought a gift card of their favorite restaurant and placed it in the thank you card. I also ordered a package of Japanese KitKat for the kids on Rakuten. MB and EB love KitKat, and I hope a variety of Japanese KitKat surprises them.  It will be delivered to my parents’ house in Japan, and my mom will eventually forward it to the S family. A gift card and KitKat are nothing, compared with what they have done for me in my years in this hippie town. Nothing can express my gratitude for them enough …

I confirmed that I’ve been loved by people here. MT organized a potluck polka party tonight. It was partially a farewell party for me and partially a birthday party for MT herself and another. This was my third farewell party this week. It was a big crowd with people from the Rotary Club and the local community. People wished me good luck (of course, they teased me a lot by making up scary stories about Ohio), and DS gave me a sweet speech about me.  It was overwhelming to me. At the same time, I’m glad that I got to know all those lovely people in the last five (actually less than four) years. It takes time to establish good relationships, and it is really sad to give up on those good relationships. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mission Completed

Oh my Buddha! Why the weather was really bad when I had to drive two hours on freeways! It was pouring, and wind was terribly strong. Kids (MB and EB) were happy, watching a movie in the back, while I was very nervous in the driver's seat, thinking, "I have to send MB safely to the airport!" EB, MB's sister, was not flying but came with me to see him off.

After a little delay (because of the rain, I couldn't--didn't want to--drive fast), we safely arrived in the airport. Alaska Airlines that MB was flying with was easy to check him in. With extra $25, the airlines allows EB and me to escort MB to the gate. TSA was also easy on us, like, "You three are together? Come through here." We went through the old metal detector, not the latest privacy-violating scanner. And I thought, "Hm, traveling with kids is not that bad." Well, I may be wrong because everyone who has a kid (or kids) says traveling with a kid (or kids) is a heck lot of work.

Because we were kind of late, though we were on time, MB had been paged. We didn't know that. I went to a ground staff to tell about MB. The staff said, "Oh, here he is. Wait there. I'm going to get him someone to escort." While were were waiting, I asked MB to call his mom that he was waiting to get on board. I knew his mom was pretty anxious because this is the first flight alone for MB. Actually, she called me when we were going through the security, and I missed her call. MB pretended to be cool to his mom on the phone.

Soon, the ground staff came back to collect MB. EB and me came along with MB to the gate where I had to sign on the document. While I was signing, MB was very nervous because he knew he was going to be alone from there. He acts cool, but he is still a kid. I said, "MB, you will be fine and have fun in L.A. OK? Your stepdad is waiting for you in the airport. No worries." MB still looked nervous, but he disappeared into the tunnel to the plane with the ground staff. I was like, "Phew, my mission has been just completed."

Research in Ikea

After we saw MB off, we went to Ikea to do a little research on prices of furniture. I need to buy furniture in Ohio, but I had no idea how much furniture costs. EB was not happy about going to Ikea in the beginning. When we were planning to see MB off, I told her that I wanted to go to Ikea that is next to the airport. EB seemed to do something else, which turned out to be shopping. But she talked with her mom and got some ideas of Ikea that changed her mind. She was brainwashed that Ikea is a fun place to hang out. Thank her mom!

It turned out that EB was really helpful to do research. She was very much organized, asking me what furniture I was specifically looking for. And she took notes (price ranges of furniture) on her smartphone. Based on her calculation, it will not be as expensive to purchase furniture as I've been afraid of. Yes, I can buy a bed set!


Kids are tech-savvy. I knew it from my experience in class.

I used my brand-new GPS, a gift from DS, today without actually knowing how to use it. Damn, I feel really old now. Anyhoo, while I was driving (without using the GPS), EB was doing something with my GPS and said, "Duck, what language do you want to give you directions? There are a bunch of language options." I said I was OK with English. And she gave me two choices, either American English or British English. I thought it would be fun to have British accent in my GPS. EB continued to give me more options, either female or male voice. I said male voice would be better. EB said, "OK, from now on, Daniel will navigate you." Who's Daniel?! It turned out male British voice is named Daniel and female one is Amy or Emily, I don't remember. Since then, my GPS has been Daniel. We were like, "Shut up, Daniel!" "Ugh, radio is on, Daniel is talking, and I'm going crazy!" Ha ha, it was actually fun.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What a Thoughtful Gift!

I've got an important mission to see MB off at the airport, not the local one but the major one, 2 hours away from here. MB is going to see his stepdad in L.A. I have gone to that airport several times, but I haven't driven there myself. I need GPS. DS has one. I asked her tonight for her GPS while DS was helping MB to pack. She  said like, "Right. Thanks for reminding me." Well, I didn't mean to remind her of anything ... I thought. Then, she disappeared for a while and came back with a little box in her hand. I simply thought that she bought a new one and said, "Wow, a brand-new one?!" She was like, "You're going to use it tomorrow to get to the airport and keep it. You will need it in Ohio." Oh, my wow! This is what I was just about to buy! I was totally impressed by her thoughtfulness and generousness. I can't think of a gift that would impress a receiver this much. She is amazing. What is more, her attitude is very natural, not like "Here's an expensive gift that you should appreciate" at all. I really, really appreciate her kindness.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My First Apple Pie

Six apples sitting on the kitchen counter for, say, more than two week were annoying me. No one of the family here seemed to not eat them. I was thinking of how to wisely use them, mm ... An apple pie!

When I went to grocery shopping yesterday, I looked for ready-made crust, but I couldn't find it. I made crust dough by hand last night and kept it in the fridge. DS has every kind of cooking tools, which makes cooking very easy. Therefore, making dough was also not a big deal.

This morning, I was rolling dough out to place it in a pie plate. EB seemed to be impressed and said, "Wow, I can't believe you are making a pie from scratch!" Oh, well, I couldn't find ready-made crust. There's no other way than to make it by myself.

After about an hour in the oven, the pie was made. It looked good and smelled good. MB was literally waiting in front of the oven until the time was up. Holding a cake knife, he was excited to cut the pie, saying, "I think it's ready." I had to calm him down for five minutes until the pie cooled down a little bit. Finally, he cut it, and I saw that the filling was really juicy. I was wondering if it was too juicy. But MB explained that it was just like it's supposed to be.

Eventually, EB came back to the kitchen, excited. She also loves pies. In fact, she had two pieces of pies! Wow, I was glad they both liked it. My first apple pie was a success!

For my own information, here's the recipe.

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  1. Combine the flour and salt, and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Stir in the ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until the crust mixture forms a ball.
  3. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Roll dough out, then divide in half.
  5. Place crust in pie plate, pressing evenly into the bottom and sides.
  • Pastry for 2 crusts
  • 8 cups sliced, peeled assorted baking apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  1. Toss the sliced apples with lemon juice.
  2. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to apples and toss well to coat.
  3. Fill pastry lined 9 inch pie pan with apple mixture. Dot with butter.
  4. Place second crust on top of pie filling, cut slits in top of crust to vent. Seal the edges of the crust with a fork or by hand.
  5. Beat the egg yolk and milk. Brush mixture over top crust.
  6. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to 350F and bake 40-45 minutes more or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.
The funny thing is, the kids happened to have a dentist appointment in the afternoon. After this apple pie party around lunchtime, they had to brush their teeth carefully to see the dentist, ha ha ha.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Buckingham Palace vs. White House

MB is a smart kid.

He loves Kitkat. I bought a box of Kitkat as a souvenir from London. Today, MB asked me where I bought that Kitkat while he was eating one of those. I told him that I bought it in Heathrow Airport.

Looking at images of the Guard on the box, MB said, "I wonder what kind of Kitkat is sold in the Buckingham Palace."
I replied, "Hey, MB, I don't think the Buckingham Palace sells Kitkat because Queen is living there."
MB: "Well, the White House sells stuff, though President is living there."

I couldn't stop laughing at his observation! MB is absolutely right! The White House is open to tourists and sells souvenirs!

MB is a character.