Two weekends ago (wow, has it really been that long already?) shortly after THE INCIDENT and my subsequent closer-than-I've-ever-come-to-murder near breakdown, the beautiful, kind, sweet Lily hosted my brood and I at her home in Niigata. Lily and I had never met, and before THE INCIDENT we'd never even spoken before. We'd just been following each other's blogs, and both followed some of the same blogs. But because of the awesomeness that is Lily, she reached out to me, a stranger in need, and opened her home and her heart to me and mine.
Meg, Ethan and I set out early Saturday morning (Gabi had her driving class starting Monday, and I wasn't about to cut my trip short to bring her home, so she stayed behind) anticipating a 5 - 6 hour drive. All the kids travel well, and I'd never driven through that part of Japan, so we were kind of excited about the drive. A mere 3.5 hrs later we rolled into Niigata! I couldn't believe how quickly we'd travelled to the other side of the country!
It was pouring rain when we arrived, but Lily, with all three Chibis in tow, met us in front of Niigata station to guide us to her apartment. On a side note, I drove the entire 300 + km with absolutely no problem, but promptly got lost when we exited the expressway and it took a full 30 min to finally make my way to where Lily was waiting!
Because of the mega-awesome-super-all-terrain stroller she was driving, we couldn't fit everyone in my van, so Lily walked the 3 blocks to her building, while Tomo hopped in with us and "navigated" for me. What a friendly, outgoing guy! As soon as the door closed, he launched into huge description of his favorite Pokemon, engaging the normally shy E in an animated conversation about their favorite battles.
Me: Tomo, should I turn here?
Tomo: ....and then he explodes.....Um, I don't remember.......
Me: Tomo, is this your street?
Tomo: ......then they fly........My street sort of looks like this, but I don't remember.....and there's thunder
Me: Tomo, is that your building?
Tomo:......but do you like Tigamorphamon?......I don't think my building is that color......I love Milaminamon..
We arrived and unloaded the van, then Lily and I ran to McD's to grab a quick lunch for everyone while Meg minded the boys.
After lunch, we set off for Lily's favorite hang out, Tully's. There's a huge open area right in front of the shop, with benches, so we parked ourselves and broke out the bubbles and soccer ball.
Lily took Meg to the furoshiki shop to pick out her very own furoshiki (thanks so much Lil, she loved it and wore it on the plane last week!), then we relaxed with our coffees while the kiddos had a blast playing together. It was so nice, the kids got on like they'd known each other forever! You never would have guessed they'd only met for the first time an hour early. And I felt exactly the same way about Lily. She was so warm and welcoming, I immediately felt comfortable and at ease with her.
We headed back to Lily's and relaxed for a little while, then started working on dinner. We'd planned a Mexican fiesta, complete with tacos, fajitas and all the fixings. Around this time Masa arrived home from work. What a nice guy! Equally as warm and welcoming as Lily. I can only wondered what he must have been thinking when his wife tells him "Honey, I met this woman online, her life is a complete disaster, and I've invited her and her children to spend the weekend in our home!" But there was absolutely no hesitation in his welcome. Maybe he was dazzled by the promise of margaritas?
After a quick, yummy dinner, Lily and I slipped out for little GNO. While Masa stayed home with all 5 kids! What a guy! First we went to a little Canadian pub owned by a friend of Lily's called Northern Lights. Lily was a good girl and only had one small glass of wine, but I quickly scoffed back two yummy Screwdrivers. Then we strolled around beautiful downtown Niigata for a while, finally stopping at Dragon Typhoon (I think) which had a lovely little outdoor deck. Another small glass of vino for Lily, another Screwdriver for me. Then we decided we'd probably better head back and rescue Masa from the mayhem. Back at the mansion I fixed Masa and I some margaritas and the three of us stayed up talking until 3:00am!!!! I haven't been up that late since.....crap, I can't even remember the last time I was up the late. But it was so great. (My pix from that night are MIA, but I think they're on the disc I sent to Lily, so maybe she can post them).
The next morning everyone but me and E were up bright and early, making onigiri for our picnic and homemade banana chocolate chip muffins for our planned b'fast onboard a steam train!
I was really proud of Meg all weekend. She really stepped up, helping out so much with the all the boys, playing with them, entertaining them, wrangling them all without even being asked. There wasn't a single sigh, huff, eye roll or sarcastic remark the entire 3 days! She absolutely fell in love with Lily's boys and was a big help all weekend.
Thank you so much Lily for inviting us. I know it was a lot of extra work for you, and you'll never know how much it meant to me. I really hope you guys make it down here this month so I can repay just a little of your kindness and generosity!