Monday, August 29, 2011


Not me, of course, but did I get you?  Ha!

This is a post for the ladies, but fellas, listen closely.

So, one of my bestest friends in the whole world is pregnant, and I wrote her a message.  But then I thought, I know lots of people who are pregnant, and there are more all the time, so why don't I write all of them a message?

This is for all of you out there now and in the future who will nurture little sea monkeys in your tummy. 

If you are pregnant, I'm so happy for you.  Maybe it was easy for you like it was for me.  I got knocked up the first month of trying.  Yay!  But for some it's not so easy.  If you have had many months of trying, or a miscarriage, or the terrible pain of several miscarriages, then getting pregnant may have begun to feel like a chore, or worse.  It probably felt like it took forever!!  But, disappointments and waiting for anything makes success that much more wonderful and precious. 

If you've read many of my other posts, you've probably heard me say that I don't know anything.  I want you to know that I hold firm to that tenet.  I've got some advice comin' at cha, but I never wish to sound like I know what I'm talking about.  ;-)

My first bit of advice is to CHOOSE to enjoy pregnancy, no matter what it throws at you!  I lost 10 pounds in my first 6 weeks of pregnancy, got on anti-vomit medicine, and was still ralphing every day for 20ish weeks.  I was afraid to go anywhere, and I couldn't go anywhere without clutching a doubled up plastic bag.  I had stocks of them in the car doors.  Vomiting became part of my morning routine, even after 20 weeks.  I was anemic, too, on top of the other discomforts, like... "Oh, God, when will I be able to lay on my back again?," "How is it that I have gas in my shoulder blades?," "My poor cat can't fit in my lap anymore," "I can't reach around my belly to get my underwear on," and "You want me to stretch WHAT in preparation for childbirth?"  But you know what?  I loved being pregnant!

One thing that is awesome about pregnancy is that you no longer have to think about maintaining your normal physical aesthetic ideals, especially once you start "to show."  Whatever happens to your body is attributed to the baby.  BUT, that doesn't mean you can stop exercising or gain too much weight.  Letting go of the mirror is wonderful; that doesn't mean you can let go of your health, and therefore the health of your baby.  That being said, I loved strutting around in a bikini at 8 months, and having people tell me I was "all baby."  I think they really believed that, but they were wrong, cause I couldn't fit into my normal pants for four or five months after I gave birth.  Lucky for me I got into a dance show when Knox was 4ish months.  The rehearsals helped me get skinnier than I was pre-pregnancy (not that I maintained that).  Anyway... enjoy that.  If you can, I would recommend spending some money on cute maternity clothes, which you can justify by remembering that you can always save them for next time.  Go to nursing sites and stock up on breast feeding dresses and tops, cause they have some really cute ones out there, and the clothes made for feeding are much more convenient than wrangling with regular clothes.  Because YOU ARE going to breastfeed, right??

Next I would say, start forming a relationship with your little one as soon as you know you are pregnant.  When I was pregnant, I did this; I sang, and read him books, and pet him, and poked at his feet.  If he was sleeping and I couldn't feel him, I would drink some orange juice to wake him up to make sure he was ok.  In the middle of the night I would talk to him and we would enjoy each other before going back to sleep.  But, once he was born, the enormity of that pre-birth relationship hit me a lot harder.  It was kind of theoretical to me, before I saw him- before I got to know him.  Once he was on the outside, I realized that he was my child the moment he was conceived, not just once I saw him on a screen, not once I could feel him- always.  Another friend of mine just had a sonogram at 12 weeks and she could see the little bean wiping at his/her face and rolling around.  It's real my friends, earlier than many people imagine.

I would also recommend that you look up some studies about the little one's life in the womb.  One researcher set out to debunk another physician's findings about how important that time is to the entire life of the person you are growing.  She found the opposite of what she was looking for, which is rare, and became an advocate.  What you eat, what you experience, including stress and joy... it all makes a difference. 

Essential reading:
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

Recommended Reading:
All the other stuff you pick up and are given.  Either way, please read.

Now, about the fear.  It is not what you see on TV.  It is not what you see in the movies.  It is not something to fear.  If you prepare yourself well, which you should, you can go into labor and childbirth with excitement and joy instead of uncertainty and fear.  If my Labor of Love homies are reading this, then I know I am preaching to the choir.  Those primigravidas out there, please, please educate yourself.  Take every class you have time for and can afford, and if money is an issue, talk to the instructor; concessions can always be made for so important an experience.  Birth class instructors know that.  Good one's won't turn you down over money.  If you feel a little in the dark about the birth experience itself, read that book up there, and look around.  Find out what your options are and go check places out.  Ask lots of questions.  I encourage you not to make choices based on fear, at any time during your life, but especially now, when you should be focusing on the most amazing and joyous experience you will ever have.  I took a wonderful class with the unfortunate name of "Hypnobirthing."  By the time I finished the class, my entire perspective changed, and I forgot that the idea of childbirth had made me nervous.  Educate yourself!!

I'm about to say something very contentious:  C-section rates in the US vary from place to place, but they are generally out of control, and that is confirmed by governing organizations in the US.  The United States is not ranked well in comparison to other developed countries when it comes to the safety of childbirth, and I think that follows the birth culture in the US.  I feel strongly that, if you are in a position to have an out of hospital birth, you should give it a serious bit of consideration.  I have one friend that started out at a birth center and her birth still resulted in a C-section.  It happens.  It's a miracle solution for some people.  But it also happens unnecessarily.  Again, educate yourself, and use the perfect duration of time you have from finding out you are pregnant to build a support system around yourself of people that you trust, based out of a birth location that you have researched and that you trust.  Know what procedures might be performed, what medications might be given, and what monitoring systems might be used.  Your confidence is the most important thing.  Knowledge breeds confidence.

This is info on what happens in your body and the baby's body when you get an epidural.

Here is the conclusion from the article linked just above.  I think the part in bold is the most important:

Epidurals have possible benefits but also significant risks for the laboring mother and her baby. These risks are well documented in the medical literature but may not be disclosed to the laboring woman. Women who wish to avoid the use of epidurals are advised to choose caregivers and models of care that promote, support, and understand the principles and practice of natural and undisturbed birth.

If you live in the Pinellas or Hillsborough counties, FL, area, I would recommend, with all the recommending fibers in my body, Labor of Love, The Birth Center for Tampa.  It was absolutely perfect and amazing.  If I can share desktops with my mom in Florida, who is the care-taker for my mac, I will post my birth story one of these days.

If you are one of my many pregnant friends, good luck and congratulations!!  Words can't justify the beauty of a pregnant woman and the relationship she is having with her growing child.  It's so temporary, so bask in it.  I love you!

From Japan,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Personal Statement #32

To the poor bastard reading all of these application letters:

I have a great time writing creative non-fiction, and I really enjoy fiction and flash fiction, but the thought of writing a personal statement flips the switch on my tracks: Next station - liquor cabinet. I've written quite a few in my time. Williamstown Theatre festival; success. Julliard; fail. Stetson Law; fail. JET Program to teach English in Japan; success. (University's Name); time will tell. But, it's time for me to pull the panties out of my butt, put down the buttery nipple, and quit whining about how I can't demonstrate all that I am in 2-pages;  Because, of course, that's not actually what anyone is asking me to do.

I'm being asked to demonstrate my critical thinking abilities. Well... oh, boy: I'm about to give up a well-paid job in an exotic first world country so I can be closer to my mommy and try my hand at another art (I've been in a couple of movies and worked as a professional tap dancer) that will possibly cost me more than I will ever make. Possibly. Or maybe I'll JK Rowling this piece and meet the queen.  Either way, the fantastic experience of living and teaching in Japan keeps me from my country and many of my loved ones.  I want to be where I was born, in the south east, and I want to focus on writing, which I have an aptitude for.  I am constantly questioning myself and the world, and trying to improve based upon my observations - I think that's what life is about:  Observing, experiencing, reflecting, and growing.  Writing gives me a constructive way to do that. 

I'm being asked to delineate my reasons for choosing this college: Part of the reason I want to look at you through the bottom of my glass is because of this request. So many people, including me, are choosing Universities based on location. I'm applying to your school because it's close to the beach. I feel silly stating that formally.  I also appreciate that this program operates in non-traditional ways.  It seems like there's a good chance that this school won't take advantage of me with a cash register, but I've got my back-up school pepper spray in my purse just in case I get suspicious. What else... you mentioned my desired specialty on your website, you've got awarded writers on the staff, and the people in your promotional pictures look attractive and happy.  My son Knox also plays a part; I had him 2 years ago when I was 29, and he is teaching me more about being a human being than anything or anyone that came before.  He's beautiful, and as much as I love Japan, my family deserves to love and experience him, too.

What are my writing goals for the future? Well, jeez, what are everyone's goals? To do something they like and get rich; am I right? It's true, I have some deeper goals than that: I want to be honest in my writing, and continue to overcome my insecurities about how people will react to what they read from me. I want to learn about myself and share myself. I want to further my edu-ma-cation and I want to be able to craft exactly the prose that will evoke what I desire from the reader. I want to be able to tell a story well. I've never been able to do that in speech, but I can "on paper" and I want to grow in my skill and confidence in that realm. I have things to say, and I want to learn how to say them well. I also hope that someday I will create something timeless; maybe a Tom Robbins/Jane Austen-inspired hybrid thing; I've always had ambitious and lofty goals. Besides that, I prefer to act as my own authority and I'm an idealist. I think it best that I work on my own and save social interaction for coffee shops and parties.  If I worked in an office, I would want to pull a Milton and set the building on fire.

What will I contribute to the program? Well, I will show up for class with my work done. I'll teach undergrads with patience and ingenuity. Do you, reader, teach one of my forth coming workshops? Wanna go to the beach together? I'm pretty intuitive and insightful, and as I go through my classes I'm confident that I will have strong, constructive feedback for my peers. I have a fairly unique ability to convey difficult truths with humor and prudence: If somebody's work sucks, I can tell them in a way that will uplift them and help them thrive. If my work sucks, I'll take it like a man and think hard to improve. I promise if I blow up like Jay Z I'll contribute a boat load of money to the program. I'm changed by my travels around Asia and by my residence in Japan.  My experiences will weave through the works I hope to complete while in study, including a children's fantasy novel.  I also hope to find a medium for my plethora of personal reflective works.

So, let me in, please, because America is struggling and I don't want to have to choose between staying in Japan and going on welfare so I can take my toddler to his check-ups. I'll buy you an ice cream sundae with cherries AND sprinkles. Admit me now so we don't have to go through this again next year. I will never let you rest. I know where you sleep (no I don't).

From Japan, your eager and humble applicant,

PS: I am not an alcoholic.  Seriously.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I headed to Osaka, Japan, on Saturday, July 23rd, on the Sunflower ferry out of Beppu city.  I love the ferry.  It's fun, convenient, relaxing, and the least expensive way to travel between Oita and Osaka.  Granted, you have to be ok with sleeping on a pretty hard surface and not be bothered by motion sickness.  I'm a professional-level sleeper and I don't get motion sickness, so it's great for me.  There are private and semi-private rooms available, but I just chose the group room where maybe 40 people each have a futon and a place for their things.  I think the ferry system might not work in America due to crime.  In America, I would be very wary of going to sleep in a room with unknown men and women, leaving myself vulnerable and my belongings unattended.  In Japan, I was the only person one night to use a locker (for my wallet and camera).  The ferry has a Japanese style bath, like an onsen, but with tap water as opposed to spring water.  A woman next to me befriended me right away, as well as a girl that was traveling alone and a granny on my other side.  We went to the bath together.  They were so sweet, giving me a hyaku yen for the locker and putting my shoes up for me.

After the bath (a Japanese bath is always incredibly relaxing), I talked with the lady about her grandchildren and her family in the US.  We showed each other pictures of our cats.  Everything I talked about with the woman had to be communicated in Japanese.  That was interesting.  I also met a woman whose daughter was clearly only half Japanese, and she told me that she had been married to an Australian man, but that he had passed away.  We had a nice time speaking in English and playing with the kids that had congregated around us.  There were many very funny things on the boat, like the granny airing out her nether regions in front of the fan after she got out of the bath, and a little boy who strode into the bathroom and peed with the door open.  Before bed, I just had to get a beer out of the vending machine because I just think beer vending machines are really funny, and because it was my mission to become as relaxed as possible.  I took a stroll around the ship and went outside.  The stars were incredible out on the ocean with a new invisible moon.  I haven't seen so many stars in a long time.  I also saw a shooting star and made a wish.  After that I had a nice sit-down with the now clothed granny, and then we went to bed.  We all had a good laugh when I realized I would be sleeping on a vinyl pillow and slid my dress around it as a pillow case. 

Lights on the boat in the common room came on at around 5:50am.  It was very unlike me to feel ready to get up at that time, but I was excited, so I just jumped right up and got ready for the day.  I sat with the same woman from the day before at breakfast.  I disembarked and headed for the train, where I ran into the lady again, and she helped me figure out which train to get.  We were taking the same two transfers, so we hung out all the way to my last train, which took me to Uehonmachi, the neighborhood where my hotel was.  I stayed at the Weekly Uehonmachi Hotel which was only a 5 minute walk from the YMCA Japanese school where I would study from 9am to 3pm every day for two weeks.

I had such a wonderful time in Osaka.  Brie is another JET in Oita prefecture, and the JET who gave me the contact info for the school.  We had a great time walking most days to popular areas and trying restaurants that specialized in food we don't usually get to eat.  We ate at a Mexican place one day, and several times at Subway (sandwiches).  Sandwiches are really different in Japan, so it was awesome to have Subway for two weeks.  I have a good picture on Facebook of the Sunway shrimp sandwich.  I don't think that one is available in the US.  We took in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Osaka summer festival on the first two days.  They had hundreds of food and game booths set up along the river with lots of interesting foods.  Barges and boats carrying men in traditional Japanese dress and playing drums sailed up and down the river.  Paper lanterns hung everywhere, and torches lined the river.  At night, many hundreds of people came out in yukata (summer kimono in cotton as opposed to silk for winter) and there were fireworks.

Tea Ceremony


Flower Arranging

We visited a bunraku theater (puppets) but didn't have time to attend, and saw a mini-museum with traditional costumes and ancient texts.  In the museum, I had this strange but really cool feeling, and a new concept occurred to me.  I was looking at the ink on the paper, and you know, it's not just any paper and ink; in Japan, an incredible degree of care is devoted to the arts.  It doesn't matter if it's tea ceremony or calligraphy, theatre or flower arranging, there are always very special materials used and etiquette followed.  So, I was looking at this paper, and it felt like I was soaking it in, like it was becoming a part of me.  It occurred to me that the things I see and experience must affect me in a more profound way than I have previously accepted.  I think this partly has to do with how I have changed as I have gained time and experience in this life.  I'm about to talk about my maturity, which demands a disclaimer... OK, I know I am silly and a little wild.  I am rebellious.  I have an unruly sense of humor, and, especially of late (due to big changes in my life) I have become a lot more impulsive, which is something I recognize and have decided to allow, as I see it as a healthy kind of release... aside from all of that, I have gained some wisdom on this planet and learned a great deal about myself and life.  In addition to many varied life experiences, having a child has accelerated my attainment of self assuredness- the comfort I feel in my own shoes- the sense of internal calm that comes with age.  I look back and can't regret anything because everything has made me the person I am.  (In fact, on a philosophical level, I am starting question whether "mistakes" exist.  But that is for another day.)  So, I was looking at this paper, soaking it in, and I had kind of a shift of consciousness.  I felt all of my experiences in me, and it was like I was suddenly able to observe the minute change each one of them had made in me, and after we left the museum, as I walked down the street, it was like stuff was jumping into my consciousness; the smell of the antique bookstore we passed, colors from the rack of kimono, the feel of the obi on my fingers; and to a greater degree, the experience of kabuki theatre, and the tour of an ancient shogun's castle.  It's like I can feel the degree of care that has gone into each artifact and performance.  The rocks in the castle wall emit an archaic wisdom that is tactile to me.  I know it sounds a little loony, but touching the old rocks and wood of a castle changes me internally.  It makes me calm.  It's like the feeling that nature gives, except in addition, something beautiful, artistic, and purposeful has been done with it in a human way, which adds yet another dimension.  Japan excels at shaping nature in ways that are healthy and beautiful.  I love it here.

At Nijo Castle in osaka

This makes me think of something else that occurred to me within the past few years...  I think it started with a question I posed to myself about raising kids, and the question of why certain artists are so successful:  How does one develop a loving, smart, compassionate human being?  Why is Michael Jackson so freaking awesome?  These things may not seem related, but they are.  I think the difference is love.  When a child is loved, he is done the best for, he is hugged and his boo-boos are kissed, he is properly disciplined and educated, and even when "mistakes" are made, the intention shines through.  (That goes for bad intentions too, when love is a guise and dysfunction wins out.)  Michael Jackson had this intense love in him that everyone could see and hear and feel.  It was in his music, even his hater music was about love.  Even his bad ass super cool music was about love.  Why are U2's With Or Without You and The Sweetest Thing so timeless?  In my opinion, it's because they are oozing with love.

Samurai Sighting
Anyway, like I adverted to, we saw Kabuki one night in this huge theater in Osaka.  It was cool.  The final scene after the guy has killed a bunch of people was aesthetically exquisite:  The pissed guy with the katana (Japanese sword) busts through a paper door to the outside where a Japanese style bridge stands in front of sculpted trees and bushes, in the dim still of a summer night.  He is chasing down the last two body guards of the house.  In the previous scene, we saw him kill a bunch of men and women, and now his white and blue yukata looking dress is all blood-stained.  He has already injured the two guys, and they are crawling away across the bridge.   He stands there between them with the sword raised, the light low...  The contrast between the perfect looking summer night and the bloody fight made an awesome impact.  And now I can cross Kabuki off my list of Japan must-sees.  In Osaka, we also saw the big shopping district, lots of temples, some parks, etc.

A Stolen Photo of Kabuki 
On the first Saturday, July 30th, we went to Kyoto, only 30 minutes by train, to see Phantom of the Opera.  The show wasn't until the evening, but we went early in the day to see some sights of Kyoto.  We went to Nijo Castle, which is in the neighborhood of 400 years old.  I have lots of great pictures on facebook of the castle and the whole trip.  After the castle, we took the bus to another area of town where we had lunch and walked down a really cute little shopping street.  Then we walked to Gion, the old geisha district.  They still have geisha come around in the evening, but I'm pretty sure it's only a tourist/cultural attraction now and not true geisha-ry (yeah, I made that up).  You can also pay to dress up as a geisha yourself.  We didn't have time (or the inclination because it's really expensive and unbearably hot) to do that, but we saw someone else doing it and got a picture.  We headed to the theater after that, changed, and took in a musical.

Seeing Phantom... in Japanese was a very interesting cultural experience.  I was juiced up to see a show that is familiar to me in a language that I am learning.  I thought it was a really unique opportunity.  It was also unique to see a show written by an American, based on a French novel, set in Paris, done by all Asian people, in Japan.  I was enjoying the show, but my brain was having trouble figuring out why Asian people were wearing 1880s European clothing.  Not something you see every day.  The weirdest thing about it, and maybe the most weirded out I have been by a cultural difference, was the lack of applause.  Several times a song would finish and I would be THE ONLY PERSON in the theater clapping.  I looked around and whispered to Brie, "Why isn't anyone clapping?"  She didn't know or care.  People pretty much only clapped at the end of each act.  So weird!!  Also, at the end of the play, the cast bowed about 25 times.  I mean, I know bowing in Japan is like, an all day every day thing, but seriously, I was laughing, it seemed so absurd.  It was worse than the NYC ballet!  They all bowed like usual, then they closed the curtain and opened it again and they bowed some more, then they closed the curtain and opened it in a new configuration with only the leads and they bowed, then only the Phantom bowed, then only Christine, then only Raul, then the whole cast again, then... it went on and on.  What I found most ridiculous was that Raul bowed last, by himself.  The third most important character got the last bow.  Anyways...

A mural on the way to Tennoji (A neighborhood of Osaka)
I missed my little boy terribly, but I took advantage of the time to recharge and relax with no toddler to chase after.  It took me a few days to come off of mommy-style-high-alert and a full week before I felt wholly rested.  I enjoyed a level of independence that I have not been allowed in quite some time.  I am stubbornly independent, but that was basically defenestrated when I became pregnant.  Everything from that point becomes about the well-being of someone else, and eventually about the will of a toddler.  Anyway, it was nice to be only responsible for myself for a couple of weeks.  I could sleep when I wanted, eat when I wanted, do what I wanted at all hours of the day and night.  It was great.  But nothing is better than the sound of my baby's voice on the phone, and when I heard him say, "Where, Mommy, where?" my heart was broken.  I almost got on the shinkansen right then, but I made it through, having tons of fun but feeling the magnetic pull of Knox on me all the time.

This is a summer to remember.  I've been at work for about 6 hours and my butt is asleep for the first time in a month.  But, it's all worth it for the good times and the experiences I am afforded by my choice to sit here.

From Japan,

Busy Bee

It's been a while, friends.  This is the longest blog hiatus I have taken since last September, I think.  I've just been super busy!  4 weeks ago I started wondering about the "study leave" provision in our JET contracts.  Generally, when it's time to do something or make some kind of decision, my supervisor comes to me and tells me what is happening and when the deadline is.  With this particular topic, I never heard anything, except a JET or two mentioning their plans regarding study leave.  Finally, I brought it up to my supervisor, and she didn't really know about it.  I went into turbo mode:  On Monday, I got my school connected with my board of education supervisor, who clarified and affirmed the availability of study leave.  On Tuesday, my friend and JET peer gave me the info for the school she chose in Osaka, and I contacted the Osaka school through 2 e-mails and a phone number.  On Wednesday the school accepted me and secured me a hotel room, even though I was over a month past the sign up deadlines.  On Thursday, after writing a report describing all aspects of the Japanese program at the YMCA school in Osaka and a "please, please, let me go" letter to the vice principal, I got formal permission to go from my school.  After submitting my paperwork, sending a payment, collecting copies of my passport, and getting travel reservations (thanks Nichole), I was ready to go to Osaka.  But before I could go, I had to get completely ready for a trip to Yufuin that I was leaving for two days after I returned from Osaka by shopping for a costume and choreographing an entire dance (with Alisha), and I had to pack.  Finally, I left for Osaka on Saturday evening.  My Osaka experience deserves a post of its own.

After two weeks of travel and school, I got back from Osaka on Saturday morning.  I left on Monday morning to head to Yufuin for three nights.  Every summer the prefecture holds the Yufuin English Summer Seminar where almost two hundred students come to have fun and speak only English for 3 days.  The seminar is jam-packed with activities, ceremonies, skits, and a dance party (which might be the only dance party they ever attend, as they don't have prom or anything like that).  JETs perform many duties and we are booked almost every minute of the day from 7am until our last meeting at 11pm, followed by a drinking party.  Every night.  Many of you may be aware that I am not a morning person, and no matter how early I get up, I'm ready to party into the wee hours.  A slippery condition.  These days, I generally make the responsible choice to go to bed despite my natural inclinations, but occasionally one must let loose.  Also, I led morning exercises, which occurred right at 7am each morning.  Luckily they happen outside, so I could wear sunglasses with no questions asked.  On Thursday morning, I heard people calling my name, telling me to get up for the morning assembly.  I had slept through the loud morning announcements and music used to get people out of bed.  Ha!  They'll have to do better than that to pierce Tiffany Hope's armor of sleep!  I literally stood up, put on my sunglasses, and walked outside to the stage, where I led a pretty sweet set of wake up stretches, and even got the students excited with a rousing call of "Yufuin!!!!!"  I'm not sure exactly why I am not a rock star.  Some JETs are instructors of activities.  Alisha and I were the dance instructors.  We wore them out for sure, and ourselves.  We danced almost six hours one day.  We did a dance to Outkast's Hey Ya!  Very high energy and super fun.  We were exhausted.

What I will remember from this year's Yufuin seminar...  Being an an adorable evil twin with Alisha in the skits, How crazy the onsen can get with 20 naked women (nothing too untoward, mind you), Wally wally wally world, the incredibly efficient system they have of cleaning up after lunch, Triple H's "suck it," Emma's vuvuzela and instruction on visiting South Africa,  meeting the awesome new JETs for this year, What's up hamburger?, being a passport making machine, and of course, the kids - it's amazing the strides that can be made in a few days.

And, Yufuin is just gorgeous.  Japan is gorgeous.  The nature center we stay in, with its rock-hard bunk beds and smelly bathrooms, is set in a breath-takingly beautiful valley.  The panoramic view of tree covered mountains is like something out of a dream vacation.  I feel very fortunate to live here.  This place is rich in so many ways.   

I had been gone for almost three weeks, with only 2 days at home in the middle, and when I walked into the apartment, Knox was screaming and crying about something.  I dropped all of my things and hurried into the bedroom.  When Knox saw me, he stopped crying, smiled, and buried his happy face in the sheets.  Then he gave me the best hugs and kisses ever, and quite an enthusiastic "I'm so glad Mommy is home" beating.  You know how when a little boy likes a girl he pulls her hair and stuff?  Yeah, like that.  Knox loves to beat me up in the most affectionate way.  I couldn't believe how much I missed his sweet face and laughter.  I kissed him and tickled him a ton.  I love my little boy.  Knox had just gotten out of a bath when I got home, but he wanted to get back in to play with his water gun, so we took a play bath.  Exhausted, we struggled through dinner and then just watched a movie until bed time.

I went to sleep around 6:30 or 7pm, got up a couple times to put Knox to bed and comfort him from what seemed like a bad dream, but for the most part, slept until 7am.  And now, I'm back.

From Japan,