Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girls weekend!

The fun has begun...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy #4

Today is our four year. Todd's in Minneapolis and I'm flying solo with the girls. Kim and Nicole are flying in tomorrow so doubtful that we will celebrate our big day this week. I was looking for our wedding CD the other day. We made this for the goody bags for everyone who made the trip to Mexico. Strange that I didn't think to include the music from the ceremony. Sting - Fields of Gold and one other that I can't think of and it's driving me nuts??? Anybody???

1. Chasing Cars -- Snow Patrol
2. All I want is You -- U2
3. You're Beautiful --James Blunt
4. I've Fallen in Love with You -- Joss Stone
5. Can't Take My Eyes Off of You -- Lauryn Hill
6. Yellow --Coldplay
7. Nothing Left to Lose -- Mat Kearney
8. Save Room -- John Legend
9. Better Together -- Jack Johnson
10. Everything -- Ben Harper
11. Collide -- Howie Day
12. Baby I Love You -- J. Lopez
13. Gimme Some Lovin' -- G. Love & the Special Sauce
14. Fade into You -- Mazzy Star
15. The Luckiest -- Ben Folds

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Palm Springs

We stopped over on our way to AZ in Palm Springs. The hotel had a water slide!!! Veda loved it and I freaked out when Todd decided to send her down herself - turns out she was just fine;) Adele still is not a fan of the pool which is a mystery to me because she loves the bath. She was having more fun eating rocks.

Easter Egg Hunt #1

Before we headed to AZ last Wed Veda got to participate in her school Easter Egg hunt. Consider it practice for all the egg hunting she would do this Easter.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunny days

Yummmmm popsicles.

Horse Tradition

Following on the post of Veda and her horse Trigger, my parents sent through some pictures of them as little kids with their favorite horse.  It also includes a picture of Princess with my sister Kelly and her friend Danielle.
Kelly, Todd and Danielle on "Princess"
Gary Laabs on "Jet"
Diane Laabs on the famous "Trigger"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

My Horse Trigger

We had a funny Veda story from last week after my mom and I picked up the girls from Grandma & Grandpa Sayre's house.  Veda's really been into stories lately, so as she was in the back seat, my mom (Grandma Didi) started telling her about her horse Trigger from when she was little...she proceeds to tell her that she used to ride her all the time and it was her favorite friend...

Veda:  "I wanna ride Trigger"

Didi:  "You can't, Trigger is dead"

Veda: "Trigger is DEAD?"

Todd:  "You can't say that to her...."

Didi:  "Trigger didn't die, he fell asleep and didn't wake up"

Veda:  "OH!, can I see a picture of him."

Didi:  "Sure, when we get home..."

We proceed to go on about our drive...talking about randomness for the next 15 minutes with Veda.  During the first bit of silence, Veda bursts out a story....

Veda:  "When I was a little gawrl, I had a pony, his name was Trigger...I loved to ride Trigger and I took pictures with him...then he fell asleep and died."

Wow, I love how she completely ripped off Grandma Didi's story and took it as her own....I think she's warming up to be a politician...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Drew and Angelina came over to play after school yesterday. Adele and Ang are finally acknowledging each other and I caught them passing a sippy cup back and forth. They are much better at sharing than their older siblings.

Having a "good" day

Veda's teacher sent me this a couple weeks ago. Our travels have disrupted her schedule and she just isn't quite herself right now. She cried when I dropped her off this morning - so sad. Hopefully a visit to Uncle Chris, Aunt Kel and Ownen will perk her up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On the road again...

I just flew in from Hartford and I'm sitting at the Mall of America waiting for Todd and the girls to get here. Veda is going to go nuts. Spongebob and Dora and Ni Hao Ki Lan!!!! Tip - If you want free internet at the Mall of America they have it at CRAVE;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ryan in Japan

Here's an update from Ry last week (written for one of his academic groups) and a picture he took when he visited the hardest hit areas. He's decided to stay for awhile longer and continue his research.

“If it doesn’t have to do with spinach we don’t want to hear about it. We’re very busy here.” The farmer’s outburst was understandable. You could see it coming. Ms. Watanabe had been going on and on for a good twenty minutes about our group’s relief project to deliver goods to Kesennuma, a fishing town in Miyagi prefecture hit particularly hard by the quake. “We said we’d contribute spinach. That’s it.” He repeated. It was clear from the start that the farmers weren’t interested to hear that she’d secured 1o,ooo pair of shoes through youth soccer clubs in the prefecture. They let her discuss the 2,000 servings of coffee donated by a local coffee shop with which ms. watanabe's group was planning to open a free cafĂ© called ‘Cafe Yokohama.’ They were patient enough at first and only began to boil over when she got into the specifics of the toilet; a lengthy story describing how cedar chips would be thrown into plastic bags, a potato or a few seeds tossed in the mix. The whole thing would then be planted in a plot. It was a clever little idea, but the farmer’s patience had already worn thin, too thin even to show amusement when she followed up by reporting on the 5,000 boxes of cigarettes she had secured from Japan Tobacco. These chain-smoking fishermen had not only lost their boats and livelihoods, but also their chief means of stress-management. The farmers could relate. they’d had enough, and were no longer hiding their anxiousness about pulling up anchor.

I shouldn’t need to point out that there's a certain cruel irony at work in bringing up spinach, the very offender that imperiled the farmers who had managed to escape both the earthquake and the tsunami and landed them in a perverse middle-ground between water that is everywhere, nor any drop to drink; and coals that ought not be brought to New Castle. A farmer hung himself yesterday, not able to take the pressure of it all. The banned produce reaches out to the borders of the prefecture, a message to the farmers that nuclear fallout, in all its nastiness respects political borders. On the news yesterday a large farm family in Fukushima declared with forced smiles that their produce was delicious as ever. The eldest son, sat at a table overflowing with vegetables and, without expression, shoveled spinach and cabbage into his mouth. But if there is irony in sending spinach north it’s not felt by the farmers here in Kanagawa. It is what they had on offer at this farm. As far as they were concerned, the people of Kesennuma were not able to get fresh vegetables in the evacuation centers so they would send some along. When reasons were given for the lack of spinach up north, the nuclear problem was not among them. It was a strange elision that spoke loudly even if what it said was unclear. Ms. Watanabe, standing at the middle of a circle of reporters from all the major news outlets, simply said that spinach was the most reasonable vegetable to send because, unlike so many other vegetables it needn’t be cooked; A little salad dressing, and voila. I can’t help but wonder to myself if the symbolism comes, more forcefully if albeit ambiguously, since it comes woven so tightly with rigid happenstance and steely pragmatism.
I’m used to approaching my work without urgency and with distance and am disturbed and uncomfortable to be writing a dispatch on something I don’t understand even the broadest outlines of. I’m too caught up in it all. Its only in the hundreds of images I’ve captured of scurrying journalists who themselves are capturing stories that I can find even a semblance of distance from these events. Otherwise, I’m too deeply wrapped up in the moment. I’m tempted to tell about my dearest informant, a middle-aged disaster preparedness coordinator, who flew into a rage a few nights ago and punched a hole in the bathroom wall after I suggested, for the nth time, that the Japanese media was being very soft in their reportage of the events unfolding at Fukushima. I’m tempted to tell about the impassioned speech made by a neighbor also present, declaring his unwavering faith in the government.

After the farmer’s outburst, Ms. Watanabe begged the farmer’s pardon and came quickly to the matter at hand,“Ok, then. On Wednesday morning thirty members of a local high school soccer team will arrive at 9:00 in order to harvest the spinach. Rather than using a truck, they would like to make it into an exercise and run the vegetables to the drop off point rather than having them transported by truck.” The ninety-year old farmer flew to his feet and another farmer joined him, roaring “First of all, we will not have thirty kids in the farm. It won’t take that many to do the work and they would fill the field. Bring no more than ten. Secondly, there will be no running of spinach anywhere. That’s wholly impractical. We will load the spinach into the truck.” There was little Ms. Watanabe could say.
Getting in the Way

The farmers’ exasperation points to a broader concern in Japan right now as concerns volunteerism. These farmers were asked to give by the head of the largest construction firm in the prefecture. They were happy to do their part. What they were not signing themselves up for was a broader volunteer ethos. Nearly all of the thirty farmers renting land here were former salary men now working the fields three or four days a week. The produce they bring in goes not to the market, but to relatives and friends. The farm was already a gift center, but it was not a center of volunteer work. As one of my informants long ago said to me, “isn’t volunteer just another word for being neighborly?” These farmers were happy to care, they were compelled to act as neighbors to their fellow countrymen up north. What they were not much interested in was dwelling on their action.
There’s a wonderful word in Japanese which I’m sure many of you know. It combines the words “appreciate” and “nuisance” and points to a kind of intrusive enthusiasm, help which while well-intentioned is more of a hindrance than a help. A good instance of this so-called “arigata-meiwaku” comes to us when Prime Minister Kan, wanting to show his immediate concern after the earthquake visited the nuclear plant, in doing so, slowing down the fight against the nuclear reactors on the first day. Some towns up north, recognizing the interruption his presence would cause, quickly refused his offer of a visit. Yesterday, moving around with Ms. Watanabe, instances of hindrance more than help were abundant. Not having the heart to tell a young farmer who arrived with a truck-load of daikon radishes, turnips, and onions, that his donations were useless in a place without a means to cook them. We thanked him profusely and then divided the goods up to be taken home by the volunteers. She was put in a very tricky situation when a construction firm sent up piles of wood and a team of carpenters. The intention was all fine and well, but the locals who were going to have to take down these constructions at some point, were going to have quite the job for themselves. The problem with volunteerism is that there are too many good hearts, and not enough training to back it up. It is the perennial problem.
Final Words

Last week, a series of six volunteer informational meetings was organized by the Yokohama Disaster Volunteer Network. The true motive of the meetings, which were attended by over seven-hundred people, was to bring would-be volunteers into the system such that they could be put on standby for later while also being kept out of the way as more experienced volunteers conduct their work in the present. Talking at length with a reporter over lunch afterwards, she referred to her experiences as a child in the Kobe earthquake, the failed efforts of volunteers, and the sad truth that sometimes people cannot be of any help; that some situations are simply helpless situations. It is here that I’d like to find space to later revisit questions I don’t have the tools to chip away at today that offer some kind of point of connection in understanding the earthquake/tsunami disaster and the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, two disasters that are treated as differently as one could imagine. I want to look for that connection in helplessness, in the capacity and incapacity to help, to offer aid. I want to look for the connections between these disasters in the delivery of spinach in a spinach producing district, as well as in individuals who wish to become care-givers, which is to say time-givers, or volunteers. Not helpless selves, but bodies that help.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Iowa City

The girls are hanging with Bull and Nanny while Mom does some work on the east coast... we'll all meet up with Dad in Minneapolis at the end of the week.

Clear Lake

The girls were only in Clear Lake for about 4 waking hours but they managed to pack in plenty of fun. Fishing, wienies over the fire and Adele's first meal at the big kid table.


Taco Time

We took Didi and Papi along with us to one of the famous Soffin/Soria family cookouts this past weekend. The taco truck guy was there grilling up the good stuff. Love the taco truck.

Yummmmmm.... Bobs!

When we got to Iowa Monday night Papi went to get "Bobs" (aka minnows) so he and V could get some fishing in. Turns out Dell likes Bobs too;)

Didi and Papi!!!!

Didi and Papi came to town last week to visit and then fly back with the kids and me to Iowa. We hit up Paradise Cove for breakfast.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Field Trip

Veda was the only toddler (under 3) at preschool the other day so she got to go on a one-on-one with her teacher Michelle. Pretty sure she enjoyed it.

Dell's new favorite toy

She pushes it around all day long!

Some kids have "lovies" or "nigh nighs"... Veda has Dad's toes...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Another Day on the Farm

 We tried to get a group picture... we tried... we lured everyone in by announcing Veda had a Buzz Lightyear bandage.

 Baby Dell could not contain her excitement!

Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

 We hit up Underwood Farms with Christina, the twins, 8 week-old baby Grace and their nanny Barbara. Veda took to Barbara right away and was dominating her attention to the point that I had to ask Veda to give her some space;) Veda was particularly chatty this day as she worked the crowd telling all the other moms and kids that her name is Veda X and that she lives in CA. She was also nice enough to introduce the rest of us to every stranger she could find. Oh boy.