Seriously. Have you been to Ikea? It's an endurance trial - like a marathon, but with Swedish meatballs halfway through instead of Gatorate and tepid water.
And yet, who can resist the particle board (but classy!) furniture, the exciting and inexpensive kitchen gadgets, the names like Haarfyurlunch and Beetleguese and Appelfahrt? I can't, and neither can my friends. Even though the tolls cost $30. My love for Ikea is previously documented - and no, I don't know why there's a question mark (Anchorman-style) at the end of the first paragraph.
So on Friday, I picked Nadine and Justine up at their house and we headed over to Dorothy's to meet her and her two adorable girls for the trip. I need to take this opportunity to right a wrong on this blog: I've only mentioned Dorothy twice, and by different names. She had Nadine and me over for lunch back in September, and she and her husband (their real names are Beth and Alex - I was calling her Dorothy because she wants to go home) were our sponsors when we first arrived. They lent us their bikes, took us out, had us to their house for dinner, received and held on to the packages we shipped ahead, and were generally really great. And we have been so remiss in returning their kindness! More on that later.
DoroBeth made us yummy sandwiches for lunch, and the six ladies ate before piling into the Ivy Van for the trip. Check out these adorable little girls.
What a crew! The girls were really great in the car for the 45 minute ride north to Yokohama, and Beth drove. So nice.
When we got to Ikea, the mamas strapped their littlest babies to their fronts and I carried Hannah, the three year old, into the store. (Mothers of two are like ninjas. Notice how the non-mama ended up carrying the heaviest child? :) All the girls were great throughout the store, even though we took hours to wind our way through. Hannah, who I love to bits, got a little chilly in the warehouse portion and snuggled up with her antie Em's coat.
On the ride home we squeezed three adults, three children, and two big heavy boxes full of furniture parts into that van, and Beth drove once again. I picked up a couple new throw pillows, some new bowls and spoons for our kitchen, and other little things for the house, while Nadine and Beth each got new toy-corralling furniture. What a day! Poor Justine cried all the way home (also poor us) but for good reason - FIRST TOOTH! FIRST TOOTH! Ah, so exciting.
Back to our rudeness to Beth and Alex: we finally, finally had them over for dinner the next night. I'd been really worried about kid-proofing our house, which it turns out we didn't really do anyway despite our efforts - toddlers can crawl into tiny hidden places and find, say, the icky lost flyswatter under the couch. Ech. But we ate Nadine's smoked salmon cheese ball for an appetizer, and then sat down to dinner. Aren't they a beautiful family?
The girls had gotten word that they had to eat dinner if they wanted dessert, and this led to a little problem. See, Hannah is a very polite little girl, and she wanted dessert and wanted to eat dinner, but she just. didn't. like. it. I made a black bean chili with unsweetened chocolate - one of our favorites, and not spicy, but kind of an adult flavor. Faith, who is 18 months, loved it, but Hannah simply did not. She kept trying to eat it and I kept trying not to laugh or cry as she'd put a big bite into her mouth and then make a terribly pitiful face, as though she'd just seen someone throw up. The poor thing! Eventually we relented and gave her PB&J, and she still got her dessert.
For the rest of the night the ladies played Nintendo while the fellas talked about work, politics, and religion - what a lighthearted pair! We can't wait to have them over again.