Saturday, November 29, 2008

There's a few more.

Sukoshi fueta.

Since Deeje asked, here's a picture of the Pumpkin Daddy's handiwork.

lights 2008

And here's a picture of how the same tree looked last year.


You can see how he's added a few more lights to go with the tree's growth.

No inflatable snow globes for us, thank you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Red Nosed Reindeer

Makka na ohana no tonakai san

I think we may have started a trend at the Pumpkin Palace. This evening, I spotted another house on this block sporting Christmas tree lights. It was just a star shape and a snowman shape hung in windows, but that's two more than there were on this block last year.

When the Pumpkin Daddy was stringing up the lights on our tree yesterday, our neighbor across the street, who is about a decade older than the Pumpkin Daddy, came home. A few minutes later, the Pumpkin Daddy swears he heard him humming "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" in the shower. I guess the lights must have inspired him...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Three day weekend

San renkyuu

We had a 3 day weekend.

The Pumpkin Daddy came home drunk Friday night. I knew he had a party for work that night because I had to drive him to the train station that morning, so I was not surprised he came home drunk. What surprised me was that he didn't get out of bed until nearly three in the afternoon on Saturday. I pretty much gave up on trying to get anything done other than laundry and getting food on the table.

Sunday, we went to a Shinto shrine for the Pumpkin Princess's Shichigosan. You're supposed to go to the shrine to be blessed for health at ages 3 and 7 for girls and 5 for boys. Some girls go in kimonos for age 3, but the Pumpkin Princess went in a dress (I didn't care to deal with the logistics aspects of renting a kimono, getting it on her, changing a diaper, getting the kimono off her, and taking the kimono back to the rental place). About 5 kids lined up while the priest chanted about health and prosperity and waved paper streamers over their heads (the word for god and paper are both kami).

Monday, the Pumpkin Daddy put lights up on the tree in our yard. I would have pictures to post, but it started raining this afternoon, and I'm not about to go out in the cold rain just for a blog picture.

And the Pumpkin Daddy thinks he is coming down with a cold. We need to get our flu vaccines, but we can't seem to figure out a good time when we're both in decent health.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"A waste of money"


So I'm sorting out how much the Disneyland trip cost me...I know, a scary task, but I have to come to grips with reality.

I have a receipt from the gas station the Monday after the trip for 2913 yen, or 23.3 liters or so of gas. I think about 20 liters of that was burnt on the trip there and back, so 2500 yen for gasoline. (Thank goodness for the Pumpkin Prius!)

I don't remember exactly how much was spent on tolls. I'm thinking something like 4000 yen. This probably shocks my American friends, but tolls are expensive in Japan.

The hotel room we picked at the Ambassador Hotel (Standard Floor, Deluxe Room) was 53,000 yen. Yikes! But we really wanted to stay at the Ambassador so we could take the Pumpkin Princess to breakfast at Chef Mickey (6,600 yen for two adults, the 2 year-old Pumpkin Princess ate for free) and since we started planning late, it was the only room available. Other than the suites. Which, um, no. The Pumpkin Daddy also drank stuff in the mini-bar, which came to 1,450 yen.

2-day park passes for two adults were 20,000 yen.

Other expenditures for Day 1 (Tokyo Disneyland Park) follow.

Breakfast: two sandwiches, a large cookie in the shape of Mickey's gloved hand, a lemon muffin in the shape of his head, and a juice pack of apple juice at the Sweetheart Cafe. 1650 yen.

The Pumpkin Princess, after leaving "Tiki Room", started going on about "the thing that shines and goes around my neck".

It took nearly an hour before we figured out it was a crystal Mickey Mouse head embedded with an LED light that she'd seen another girl wearing. 900 yen.

Lunch for three at Grandma Sara's Kitchen (children's platter, seafood and rice in cheese, which is like mac and cheese except with rice in place of the mac, omlette with fried rice, cream of corn soup, Swiss Roll, 2 sodas), 3,486 yen.

Snacks (Caesar's salad and fresh fruit) and beverages (soda and coffee) at Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall, 1,626 yen.

Pictures taken at Image Works, 1,575 yen.

Diamond Horseshoe Revue (Goofy's Frontier Revue) for 2 adults, 7,400 yen. Cute, fun show but really bad food that I don't care to recall, except for the cheesecake, which was pretty good. And the free refills for soft drinks.

Expenditures for Day 2 (Tokyo Disney Sea Park) were:

Drinks (beer and two soft drinks) and an order of fries at New York Deli, 1,247 yen.

Lunch at the New York Deli (3 deli sandwiches, an order of fries, 3 soft drinks), 2,950 yen.

Stuffed Minnie Mouse that the Pumpkin Daddy HAD to buy for his Princess, 3,500 yen.

I put it next to my Pyrex measuring cup so there is a size comparison.

Helium balloon in the shape of Aristocat, 700 yen.

Yes, it's sorry looking right now, like a kitty taken in an animal shelter after wandering the streets for a week, but for a helium balloon purchased 8 days ago, I think it looks pretty good.

Various cute tins and packages of candies and cookies to take to our co-workers and families, 6664 yen.

This comes to a total of 119,248 yen. At the current exchange rate of 97.08 yen to the dollar, $1228.35.

Um, yikes????

I think this is where I go bury my head in the sand. Or something.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Which flavor would you like?

Nani aji ga ii?

Sheri, here they have plain salt, pepper, curry, caramel, chocolate, cappuccino, honey, and strawberry flavored popcorn. Certain flavors are sold in only certain parts of the park, and the guide map they give you has a special section that tells you where each kind is sold. They also have a flavor called sea salt that they sell only at the Mermaid Lagoon (where else?) You can buy special Disney character buckets as well, but I understand Anaheim has those, too. I was wary of the stray unpopped kernel, so I didn't get the Pumpkin Princess any.

Here are some pictures of the candies and cookies we bought, or rather, their containers. Mine (the small Mickey and Minnie tin and the Mickey and Minnie as snowmen package) are unopened because I haven't taken them in to work yet, and the Pumpkin Daddy's are empty (his co-workers told him to take the packaging home to the Pumpkin Princess) so I don't have any pictures of the actual sweets to show, but other than the Pooh chocolate cookies being shaped like Pooh's head, they're plain round or square candies and cookies. The decoration on the top of the snowmen package is a plastic clip that can be saved for clipping papers together.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The story was interesting.

"Hanashi ga omoshirokatta."

The Pumpkin Princess slept until 7:30 the next morning, which is surely a new record for her. I guess all of the previous day's excitement had caught up with her. No matter, we'd planned a late start. We'd made reservations at Chef Mickey, but could only booked for a 9:10 breakfast, which turned out to be more like 9:30. The Pumpkin Princess waited patiently, all things considered. Once we were seated, there seemed to be groups leaving their tables, but no additional groups being seated. This meant the characters made longer, more frequent stops at the remaining tables. By the time Donald stopped at our table for the third time, the Pumpkin Mommy and Daddy were like whatever. The Pumpkin Princess was a bit more impressed.

We went to Tokyo Disney Sea Park, which is Disneyland with a martime theme. It's marketed as a more mature Disneyland (is that an oxymoron or what?) and it showed. There were fewer strollers and more younger couples than the day before. The plan was the same. The Pumpkin Daddy would try to snag Fast Pass tickets, while the Pumpkin Princess and Mommy would follow slowly to meet him later.

As it turned out the attraction we'd wanted Fast Pass tickets to, Magic Lamp Theater, wasn't issuing them that day because no long lines were expected. So the Pumpkin Daddy got Fast Pass tickets to a different attraction, and we walked through the park to the Magic Lamp Theater. I thought that perhaps the darkness would scare the Pumpkin Princess, but she sat through the entire show and when asked how she liked it, she replied, "the story was interesting." Um, o.k. She seemed a bit more obviously excited about the Caravan Carousel.

We thought she would like the Mermaid Lagoon, but she was not all that impressed. I thought this sign was very Disney, but it was unfortunate that the Japanese just says "staff only."
I was a bit apprehensive when the Pumpkin Daddy announced that the "alternative" Fast Pass tickets were to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. As expected, the Pumpkin Princess started crying about 15 seconds into the ride. Fortunately, we had the "submarine" all to ourselves, so the crying wasn't keeping other people from enjoying the ride.
We had a late lunch of sandwiches at the New York Deli. The Pumpkin Princess likes turkey sandwiches. Who knew? (Turkey as a luncheon meat is kind of hard to find in Japan).

Everything was Christmas. I think the first week of November is much too early for Christmas trees.

We bought some more Disney printed cans of cookies, a helium balloon of the Aristocats and a stuffed Minnie Mouse for the Pumpkin Princess, loaded up the Pumpkin Prius and headed home.

Btw, sheri, I'm sorry I wasn't clear, I would expect you'd bring stuff home as presents, but what I meant to ask was if the tins of cookies are a big thing. I can understand if the cookies and candies are shaped like Mickey's head, but sometimes you get candy that's just plain round in a cute can printed with pictures of Mickey decorating a Christmas tree or something, and I've always thought that was strange. Oh, and while you're helping me out, is flavored popcorn a big Disneyland thing? Here, they've got maps showing you where to find which flavor of popcorn.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

"What are you doing here?"

"Doushite konna tokoro ni iru no?".

This past Thursday and Friday, the Pumpkin Princess made her Disneyland debut. We left a little after six in the morning in the Pumpkin Prius, and got to the Disneyland Ambassador Hotel shortly before nine. We dropped our bags off at the front desk and the Pumpkin Daddy headed to the parking tower. They had a good-sized TV with little cushioned footstools parked around it in the lobby, so the Pumpkin Princess sat happily watching "Snow White" until he came back, and we boarded the complimentary shuttle bus.
That's some serious Disney-fication. Did you notice that even the exhaust pipe has a cover in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head?

The Pumpkin Princess was very pleased. She loves busses and trains.

When we got to the park, the Pumpkin Daddy made a mad dash to get Fast Pass tickets to "Pooh's Hunny Hunt", which is the Tokyo version of "Pooh's Hunny Pot". It's one of the newest attractions in Tokyo Disneyland, so it's the most popular. While the Pumpkin Daddy was running, the Pumpkin Princess and I slowly made our way through the entrance area. The Pumpkin Princess saw one of the Three Little Pigs and squealed, "Little Pig! What are you doing here?" She loves watching the free downloads of old Disney Cartoons at her grandpa's house, and she likes the Three Little Pigs quite a bit. I guess she didn't realize it was a Disney Cartoon.

The two of us headed for the Sweetheart Cafe and bought some breads, sandwiches, coffee and juice to eat as breakfast. We sat eating and waiting for the Pumpkin Daddy. Everything was expensive but tasted quite good.

The Pumpkin Princess did not think much of the Enchanted Tiki Room (she found it too scary) but she liked the Country Bear Theater.

It was time for our Fast Pass tickets for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, so we headed in that direction. I thought it was a nicely designed cute ride and enjoyed it, but the Pumpkin Princess, the love of the Pumpkin Daddy's life whom he wanted to impress with his dedication and dashing skills, was not particularly impressed. She liked the carousel better.

The unimpressed Pumpkin Princess, the broken-hearted Pumpkin Daddy, and the Pumpkin Mommy headed for It's a Small World. The last time I was there (when I was pregnant with the Pumpkin Princess), the filling was coming out of tears in the seats, and the paint was visibly chipped from some of the dolls. The company sponsoring the attraction was a department store that filed for bankruptcy shortly after. I guess the park took the signature ride in their own hands, and things looked reasonably nice. The Pumpkin Princess, however, nodded off to sleep somewhere between the can-can dancers and the Japanese girls with umbrellas.

The Pumpkin Daddy, eager to please his Princess, had meticulously researched the time and route the parade would take. We strolled leisurely to a spot in Tomorrowland he'd figured out, where a "cast member" was just closing off the street for the parade. We essentially had front row seats.

But the Pumpkin Princess slept through the entire thing.

She kept sleeping while we shopped for presents to take home to our co-workers (they'll think you rude if you take time off work to go to Disneyland and not bring them a can or two of cookies or candies. I don't know if this is a thing in the original Disneyland in Aneheim, and I would appreciate if my American friends could help me out, but here, cookies and candies in tins printed with Mickey and Donald and Pooh probably consist of at least half the revenue generated by the shops in the park).

She barely woke up in time for Goofy's Fronteir Revue. The show was fun, and the Pumpkin Princess was pleased. The food left much to be desired, but that was kind of expected. We left the venue just in time for the Electrical Parade.

Then we went back to the hotel. We had a full bathroom with bathtub, but everyone was too tired to run a bath. The Pumpkin Princess slept in until around 7:30, which is incredibly late for her.

Let's see if I can get the second day posted sometime soon.