Saturday, July 3, 2010

Niiiiiiiiiiiiiigata!

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! 





Baby Sora devouring a yummy muffin on the steam train.

E explaining the finer points of Lego Star Wars droid troopers to Tomo

We got back from the train ride just in time to meet Heather and her beautiful girls coming off the shinkansen from Nagano.  This phenomenal woman loaded up her girls and spent 7 hours travelling, just to spend 4 hours with Lily and I in Niigata!  I was beyond excited to meet yet another bloggy friend for the first time!!! We headed off to a park near the train station, let the kids run wild and chatted the afternoon away.  It was such a nice day.  The weather was perfect, and the company couldn't have been better.

Masahiko, E peeking from behind, Lily, Reo, Heather and Amy

 Homemade Shinshu apple juice, compliments of Heather!

All too soon, it was time for Heather and the girls to head back home, so we all walked them to the station.  There was a last minute, mad dash for souveneirs, quick hugs and they were off.  I really wish they could have stayed longer!

We headed back to the apartment, and again Masa wrangled the kiddos while Lily and I walked to the grocery store to pick up dinner.

We called it a night earlier this time, knowing the kids and I had a big drive the next day.

Monday morning we made pancakes for brekky, then headed for the Niigata Aquarium.  Due to some sort of fishy massacre, admission to the aquarium was free!  Score!  After hearing that over 7000 fish had died, we didn't think there'd be a whole lot going on, but really, it was just a few small tanks of fish that were affected.  The big tank, with the walk through tunnel, was just fine, the penguins were perky and the dolphin show went off without a hitch.  It was a great day, made even better by the fact that it was free!


Lily's pancake masterpiece.


(E still doesn't get the whole "peace" fingers, he thinks you're supposed to hold up your age)
Meg and Sora watching the dolphin show




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!

5 comments:

Gaijin Wife said...

sounds like such a great weekend! E and Tomo are so cute together, holding hands and playing together - anybody would think they'd been best friends since birth. Love that E holds up five fingers :)

thefukases said...

Wow. Now I wish I had have been there for longer! I had such a great time talking with you both and it was great watching the kids really kicking back too. We're just going to have to do it again, yeah? Yours, mine or Lily's? ;P

Cecilia said...

:) So good to see.

Lily said...

I love these pictures! Since last night I have relooked at them a few times. What a great weekend! Thanks for coming out here and will see you guys soon :)

Robin Vistnes said...

I loved all the pics- and Lily's fam sound great- so do Heathers!
I have to thank both of you women, since I can't be there (I'm the BFF) I really appreciate you taking my little dumpling and holding her hand through a rough time when I wish it were me there to comfort her. Sorry I can't be there Slime, but thank goodness for Lily and Heather (and you too Meg!)