Happy Moo Year!

Well, THAT year didn't last long, did it? I mean it was the regulation size and all, but it didn't exactly pull up a chair, kick off the shoes and chat awhile over a cup of coffee and jam toast now, did it?.

Instead, it seemed to always want to be somewhere other than where it was, and be making enough racket getting there for six years. If you happened to be nearby when it passed through, you could end up with jam on the carpet and coffee in your lap, wondering why the government doesn't do something about it.

If 1996 seemed more like a roomful of preschoolers than most years, there was a good reason. It was. Full of preschoolers, I mean. And when one preschooler can make home life seem like classical music played at 78 rpm, and two like the inside of a washing machine set to Spin Dry, what can three be like? We are about to find out.

So, it is with joy and fear, gratitude and trepidation, that we announce the arrival of `Typhoon' Michelle, born July 14, 1996. Full name,
Michelle Lynn Kariya. May the gods have mercy upon our carpet.

So far, Michelle is following in the footsteps of her older siblings. Literally. Put her down in one spot, leave the room for five minutes and she will be half way down the hall when you come back. Yoko claims she's rolling. I think she's standing up, running across the room, and quickly laying down again, hoping to fool everyone into thinking that she's only rolling. That's why she's always grinning. I'm sure she's just waiting for us to be gone from the room long enough that she can make it out the door and down to the playground where all the other kids hang out and have fun.

She certainly seems to thrive on companionship. And the noisier the companions, the happier she is. If Calvin and Brian are away, she easily gets bored and fussy. But let C &B go into their `classical-music-at-78-rpm-inside-a-washing-machine-set-to-Spin-Dry' routine, and she'll bust out in a big grin, arms windmilling in all directions, fascinated by the whirr and blur of her big brothers' play.

Michelle looks quite a bit like Brian did at the same age, and she takes the same approach to solid foods -- naked lust. Ever see a fish hit a baited hook? That's `Jaws' Michelle going after her food. Once she's spotted the dangling tidbit, Flash! SNAP! It's gone. Finger get caught? Sorry, Dad. Part of the food chain, you know. Natural selection and all that. (It's the Kariya genes...Yoko makes the same lunge when Steve brings out the morning coffee.)

Michelle's favorite foods? Everything in all the major food groups (she hasn't rejected anything yet) but she especially likes cheese, mikan  (mandarin oranges), rice, apples, pasta, donuts, and her first love, cappuccino. That is, the coffee-flavored milk foam from daddy's cup.Calvin/Brian

Brian (3) is still fascinated by trains and has added considerably to his collection of Thomas the Tank Engine toys. For the Peter Pan Halloween party, he insisted on going as Thomas, which taxed Daddy's costume-making skills to the limit.

But the biggest surprise of the year occurred when Grandma Kariya came up for a visit and she and Brian chatted away the night in Japanese! Yoko and I sat there with our jaws on the carpet listening to them in utter disbelief. Brian had never used Japanese in our presence before, but obviously was listening to everything being said around him. Interestingly, He and Calvin still talk to each other in English.

At the end of the year, Brian finally caught a cold worthy of the name and was down and out for a few days. Earlier in the year, he was sick with the flu along with Calvin and Steve, throwing up, crying and feeling quite miserable -- for exactly 3 hours! After which he was hopping (literally!) around the room at top B speed with that goofy B grin plastered on his face. C & S remained flat on their backs for a week. BT lives!

Calvin's interests in bugs and dinosaurs continue unabated, but now he also collects mini yon ku, super-fast 4WD cars that are the rage of the 6-8 year old set. Calvin (6) will be going to elementary school in April, but already knows how to read the hiragana and katakana syllabaries, so he can read his Japanese books by himself. School should be a cinch for this kid.

Both Calvin and Brian take swimming lessons twice a week and love every minute in the water. Calvin is the original web-footed water boy, but Brian has always looked upon bodies of water larger than a cupful as objects that are usually accompanied by soap and, therefore, something to avoid at all cost. A week into the lessons, however, the tears turned to grins, and now his swimming teacher more than earns her paycheck trying to get him out of the pool at the end of the hour. The duck in him finally quacked.

Yoko had a tough time at the beginning of the year, fighting both morning sickness and a terrible drug addiction. Luckily, the morning sickness lasted only a short while, but the drug addiction was a daily horror until the morning after Michelle was born, when Yoko was allowed for the first time in 9 months to have a cup of non-decaf coffee. If Starbucks was a religion, Yoko would be the Pope. (Steve gave up beer for the duration, but refused to give up his espresso roast, and it was a constant battle to keep Yoko -- and Michelle -- away from Steve's cup.)

Yoko took a short maternity leave from P&G to have Michelle. Michelle was born at our house, delivered by the same midwife who delivered Brian. It was a quick and easy birth, but one that often seemed like a three-stooges comedy sketch. Get Yoko to tell you sometime the story of the Hagen Daaz ice cream, or the one about the midwife and the camera angles. But first, give Steve time to pack a bag and flee the country.

SteveWhen not defending his morning cup of coffee from certain predatory female members of the household, Steve was exploring new job territories -- graphics, page design, journalism, and the internet -- in search of work that could be performed one handed with a baby on his lap. Many of his 1996 projects can be found on his kyomedia web site.

He also spent considerable time ferrying kids between day care, Peter Pan play school, swimming classes, and various parks, and filling in the odd moments picking up toys and clothes -- the same ones, over and over again. A full-time job? HA! He has one, thank you. Three, in fact.



Have a Happy Year of the Ox!

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