What the What

I know.

My World’s Worst Blogger Award is prominently displayed on the mantel and I’m wearing the cone of shame.

But I’ve been up to my ears in all sorts of things and decided blogging had to go on the back burner so I could be extra present in my Real Life until I could get my head above water.

Since we last chatted The Cuties finished off the school year.  It was the usual frenzy of unit tests, final projects, parties, and requests for unending baked goods {an extra challenge when you know you are leaving the country for two and a half months and trying to simultaneously empty your pantry, refrigerator and freezer and presenting weird dinners of couscous, defrosted rolls and three kinds of beef; not pretty, I know}.

I procrastinated packing us for summer more than I have for any other trip.  To the point Little Cutie first told me it concerned her, and then told me it was really stressing her out, and I finally got off my tush and took action.  I’m pleased to report I did manage to pack one fewer suitcase than last year!

In the middle of all of this, I have been knee-deep in all sorts of projects and plans for Big Cutie’s Bat Mitzvah this October.  They will all be revealed after the big day, but I wanted to finish as much as possible since the event is a mere 8 weeks after our return to Japan from the summer holidays.  I *think* I have things semi under control, but the day before I left Tokyo our party coordinator called to tell me she was leaving the country until two weeks before our event.  Seriously.  I am pleased to report I did not suffer a heart attack, and of course there is an interim person acting as our liaison, but well, it’s hard enough planning an event almost no one knows what it is in a country where I don’t speak the language without involving another person at the last minute!  And I’m pretty sure we are setting a new record at our synagogue with the amazing news that we will have more than forty guests coming from America.  How blessed are we?!

And what was really the elephant in the room in our lives was the news that we will be packing up and moving back to America some time later this fall after the Bat Mitzvah.  There’s a lot of limbo to this news such as where we’ll live, where The Cuties will go to school, cars to buy, air and sea shipments to schedule with packers, and so much more.  The Cuties have taken the news with more grace and positivity than we could possibly have hoped for, and I am so proud of them.  Thankfully, we have watched as many of our friends have experienced the unpredictability of Expat life and so we know it happens and we, too, will be just fine.

There is much to look forward to about returning to America, most especially the proximity to our family and friends.  But it will be very hard to say goodbye to our Expat experience.  It has changed us in many ways and has truly been something I’m thrilled to have taken the risk to have done.

I recently came across this quotation which perfectly sums up how I feel about our experiences and time in Tokyo ~

I never asked for it to end, but then again, I never asked for it to begin.  For that is the way it is with life, as some of the most beautiful days come completely by chance.  But even the most beautiful days eventually have their sunsets.  ~Richard Chernov

We are now here at the beloved Happy Place, Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  We’ve just spent a lovely week with the husband and the Cute Grandparents.  We’ve eaten Low Country food to our hearts’ content, swam until we’re pruned, played family golf and ridden our bicycles to breakfast almost every single morning.  And of course, we’ve had gator sightings and worn our Lilly Pulitzer!

The Cuties and I will continue to play here for a few more weeks and then they will head to the North Woods to summer camp where they will be silly, get filthy, water ski, eat s’mores and scream their lungs out at color war.  And I will be happy for them.

So that’s the last month for The Felt So Cutes.

It’ll all work itself out and I’m working hard at not being too Type-A about it all.

Really and truly.

And now the pool and an Arnold Palmer are calling my name.

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I’m All Choked Up

I’ve been a bit weepy the last couple of days.

All happy tears, I promise.

And I’m not overly hormonal {no more so than usual at least}.

Big Cutie had her end of the year Choir Concert and sang so beautifully with her sixth grade class.  Their last song was Sara Bareilles’ Brave and I found myself completely choked up listening to a group of Middle Schoolers singing these lyrics~

“You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up

Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave
With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave”


{yes, I know cell phone photos from the middle of the auditorium stink, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit}

This weekend, we also celebrated the One-Year Anniversary of Shaving Day for Little Cutie.  Shaving her hair off last year with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation was an incredibly moving experience for our whole family, and something that is still a regular part of our family conversations.  To date, Little Cutie raised more than ¥1.2 Million or $12,142 for pediatric cancer research {if you’d like to contribute to this amazing cause, you can still do so here!}.  

So we “celebrated” with her first haircut in a year!


She’s gonna change the world, this one.  Her conversations with me about politics, injustice in the world, and how to fix things are wise beyond her years.  Now if I can just get her to remember to get the towel into the hamper and off the floor and that chocolate does not belong at the top of the food pyramid, we’ll be in business.

Finally, I was weepy on Mother’s Day.

I have had over a decade of what we’ll just have to call cursed Mother’s Days.

Not because my Cuties and husband aren’t amazing, but just some ridiculously, borderline comical bad luck.  Seriously, folks.

My first Mother’s Day with Big Cutie, The Cute In-Laws came to visit.  On the way home from brunch, someone ran a red light, T-boned us, flipped our car and totaled it.  We spent the rest of Mother’s Day at the emergency room being checked out and Big Cutie made her television debut as every network ran the visuals of the crash with the ominous tagline A Mother’s Day Outing Gone Bad, ending with Big Cutie in her smocked dress {but of course!} playing in the paramedics arms, clearly unharmed, with a voice over talking about car seats saving lives {FYI – we all walked away fine!}.

Subsequent Mother’s Days included waiting on a biopsy of a tumor in my breast {needed to be removed, but benign}, my Crohn’s Disease diagnosis, a febrile seizure for Little Cutie and more.

So really, all I want for Mother’s Day at this point is to survive unscathed!

And boy did I!

I woke to beautiful cards from my husband and My Cuties, including long letters from my girls, I will cherish forever.  Big Cutie woke up early and ran to our local Starbucks and brought home my favorite drink {yay for life in the big city!}.  Little Cutie had picked out my favorite flowers from the little florist shop around the corner and they gave me the most adorable hashi rests I’ve been stopping to admire in the shop window for weeks.


There’s a reason behind why they picked each of the little animals, which makes them all the more special!

After Sunday School we went for a lovely brunch with two of our favorite families.  I looked over at one point where the kids were all sitting and playing a silly game to one side of me and the adults were chatting on the other side of me and thought to myself, “This.  This is Mama goodness.  Surrounded by my family – the one I have and the ones I picked.  Lots and lots of happy.”

And then I remembered it was Mother’s Day and added an extra prayer no one was hit by a taxi crossing the street.

And we weren’t.

Everyone made it home safe and sound.  My own sweet peeps made dinner, that included cupcakes Big Cutie baked herself and hubby and The Cuties cleaned up and we raced to call the Cute Grandmothers to wish them a Happy Mother’s Day as they woke up on the other side of the world before we all headed to bed.

Happy tears are a good thing.

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Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month

May has begun here in Tokyo, and with it starts Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month.

It’s important to talk about Pediatric Strokes, because I suspect most people are like us and don’t know kids have strokes until it affects you personally.

For those of you who are new to Felt So Cute, you can read all about why Pediatric Stroke Awareness is especially near and dear to our hearts and the full story of Big Cutie and her Stroke Story here.

But on days like today I like to focus on the things Big Cutie can do and not on any limitations she may have.

So since last year’s Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month, here are some amazing highlights in our lives ~

Big Cutie is now a master on the computer.  Her middle school has a 1:1 laptop program.  All her school work is essentially done on the computer and she has figured out her own methodology for keyboarding that keeps her just as fast as all the other sixth graders and she writes all her own papers on the computer.  And because I’m a proud Mama, I want to add that she now completely smokes me in her knowledge of “newer” things like Google Docs and has to teach me through how to do some of my volunteer work more efficiently!

She’s baking!  Last week was my birthday and Big Cutie made me Birthday Breakfast Cupcakes {what the Felt So Cutes call blueberry muffins with cream cheese ‘frosting’} 100% on her own.  That requires a lot of hand dexterity and balancing of messy things.

She was on the Middle School swim team this year!  I’ve talked before about how what it would be like for you to move with a stroke with a swimming analogy, but that’s just how challenging swimming is and yet Big Cutie LOVES to swim.  And with the transition from Elementary School to Middle School, her heats were twice as long!  She’s incredible.

But the most amazing thing Big Cutie did all year?


Yeah, that. 🙂

For more information about Pediatric Strokes, please go to the Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association Website CHASA 

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Seasonal Shoe Switch Syndrome

I’m suffering people, and I know you are too.

Twice a year this unfortunate condition strikes and my poor little tootsies are covered in blisters in the most unusual spots.

You know what I’m talking about.

Seasonal Shoe Switch Syndrome {commonly known as SSSS}.

It’s when you go from closed-toed shoes to sandals, or sandals to closed-toed shoes and your feet end up with blisters and sore spots where shoes rub in places that haven’t felt shoes in many months.

It’s really quite tragic.

I’m thinking we could have PSAs and instead of Sarah McLachlan cuddling animals, our spokesperson could be Sarah Jessica Parker cuddling Manolo Blahniks, speaking in dulcet tones about how you can prevent SSSS.

I keep telling y’all I have issues.  😉

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I Have a Sickness

And I don’t want to be cured.

I am packing for a girls weekend {can I get a Woo Hoo!} and realized just how many Cheeky Leopard bags I now own.

They are seriously awesome, and I always like to support a great Etsy shop.

I use these clutches on date nights.  They easily hold cash, keys, lipstick, a cellphone and because I’m older than dirt ~ reading glasses so I can see the menu.


This clutch I carry with one of my 72 black cocktail and formal gowns.  It’s made from a vintage obi and I especially love that it has both gold and silver on it.


And because I can’t resist the clutches, I have this pink one I totally justified because it’s a slightly different shape than the other ones.  I’m weak for pink, what can I say?


I keep one of these cosmetic pouches in my purse all the time, filled with Tylenol, spare contacts, lipstick, a mirror, a mini nail file, pony tail holders, band aids and more.  When I travel, they are large enough to hold my laptop charger, iPad charger and phone charger in one spot for easy access.


The coin purses are a staple in the Felt So Cute household.  I carry one in my purse every day with my headphones coiled inside to avoid having them entangled with everything else.  The Cuties each carry two in their backpacks ~ one for their headphones, and one for their lunch money.


But you know what’s the best part about the Cheeky Leopard bags {aside from the price ~ they range from $17 – $85, an amazing deal for handmade items!}?  The insides!!!


They’re so bright and happy.  It’s like the underside of a can can skirt!

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Going Ape!

Last week over The Cuties’ Spring Break, we traveled to Kota Kinabalu, Borneo.

The majority of our time was spent prone on a chaise lounge, napping under palm trees, reading and doing needlepoint.  It was glorious.  It was also just the adult vacation modus operandi.

The Cuties spent their time in and out of the water, wiggling while I re-applied sunscreen, and generally consuming books on their Kindles.

{We also managed to eat an inordinate amount of food from thrice daily resort buffets, but that’s another issue altogether.}

Two mornings, we handled putting on actual clothing to spend time at the Nature Reserve on the resort property.  The first day, we watched an amazing movie about orangutans, which are now only living in Borneo and Sumatra and are seriously endangered due to logging for palm oil.  As a result, the adults are often killed leaving their babies orphaned.

Very little in the animal world will tug on your heartstrings like the sight of baby orangutans and watching them interact with humans.

After the movie, we climbed up to a viewing platform and waited patiently and silently for feeding time.  I was very proud of The Cuties, as it’s really hard to be both patient and quiet when you’re standing in the Rainforest and it’s about 90 degrees with 80% humidity, and the guide is pointing out snakes in trees along the way.

Twenty minutes into our sweaty silence, we heard rustling in the trees above us; as we looked up, we saw tall branches swaying to and fro, but the sun prevented us from actually seeing anything.  But then….


We met Kolapis.


Who was seriously the most fun to watch ever.


What a face.  What a doll.  What a goofball.

A few days later The Cuties participated in the Nature Reserve’s Ranger Experience.  They were first required to have a check up by a nurse to make sure they were healthy and free from infection since humans and orangutans can easily transmit the same diseases.  Thankfully, they passed and were sent off to work!

They again attended a feeding session, but also were able to learn more about the health care and food preparation for the Reserve’s babies.  They then spent a lot of time cutting fruits and veggies for the orangutans’ lunch; always good to have them earn their keep!

photo (73)

Cute Grammy & Poppy were with us in Borneo and generously adopted Kolapis for the next year in The Cuties’ names.  As a result of being his foster parents, they will receive updates on his health, life and efforts towards rehabilitating him back into the wild.  I wonder if we will also get his report cards!

Helping our adorable primate friends was a great way to spend our break and add to our Asian adventures.

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Beach Bag Vacation Essentials

The Cuties are on Spring Break next week and so I’m starting to get us organized for another adventure.  I thought I’d share my favorite essentials for packing a bag for a warm vacation spot.

Let’s start with a tote bag ~ You can’t beat the bags from Scout.  I’ve had mine for years and years and they are still in great shape.  I have two different ones and I use each with a different purpose in mind.  For trips to the beach in Kiawah, when I need to schlep four towels plus all the other essentials, I use an Original Deano bag.  After a day at the beach, I just shake it out and occasionally wipe it down and it’s as good as new.



For trips to the pool or at a resort, I prefer the Pocket Rocket bag.  I carry sunscreen and water bottles in each of the outer pockets, as well as my cell phone and keys for easy access.  The interior is plenty big enough for iPads, magazines, snacks, and anything else we want to bring with us for the day.



Because iPads and Kindles are sensitive to excessive heat and sand, I keep them in wet bags from Itzy Ritzy.  A medium-sized bag will easily hold two iPads, and I use a Snack Happens Snack & Everything Bag in my beach bag for cell phones, keys and wallets to keep them together and accessible {you always want to be prepared for either the ice cream truck on the beach or a sudden rainstorm departure!}.  The best part about packing the medium wet bags on a flying vacation is that it gives you somewhere to put your wet bathing suits in your suitcase from a last minute dip!



I love to be outside at the beach, pool or on a boat, but I take sun protection really seriously.  We religiously apply sunscreen to The Cuties and ourselves several times a day.   I prefer a high SPF water-resistant sunscreen for our bodies and use a broad spectrum sunscreen with zinc oxide on our faces.  The Cuties adore EOS lip balms and the lemon drop flavor has SPF in it.

Most importantly, we wear hats in the sun.  The Cuties have worn these hats from Garnet Hill for years, which completely shade their faces.



I am especially partial to Helen Kaminski hats, which while pricey, last for years.  I bought this hat almost 18 years ago while shopping for our honeymoon and it is still a powerhouse.  It rolls up and packs in my suitcase, and springs back into shape.  The strings adjust the size, and there is a soft liner inside at your forehead for comfort.



In effort to avoid the never-ending onslaught of wrinkles marching across my face, I wear big sunglasses pretty much whenever I’m outside.  I wear them in the water while playing at the pool and beach as well because I wear disposable contact lenses as I am seriously vision-impaired.  I figure it’s easier {and cheaper!} to pop in a new pair of the lenses than to get prescription goggles just to go down a water slide with The Cuties.  I do, however, wear a sunglass strap, and have somehow never lost a pair of glasses.  And of course, my strap is Lilly Pulitzer.



For beach/pool shoes, you can’t beat Havaianas.  They come in every color of the rainbow and you can even customize your own.

When staying at a resort, I think it’s important to consider what kind of cover up you pack.  A simple sarong usually won’t do if you want to go into the lobby or cafe for lunch {of course, the husband has it easy and just has to throw on a shirt!}.  I prefer long tunic-style cover ups that completely cover our bottoms for me and The Cuties.  For them, Boden, is my go-to source.  They are just transitioning from Mini Boden to Johnnie B in sizes and taste, and this year I bought this one.  I also think it would also look adorable with skinny white jeans.



Because we live at the beach all summer, I have quite a few cover ups.  My rule of thumb is that they have to be both long enough that I get appropriate thigh coverage riding my bicycle {being short helps!} and long-sleeved.  I like our cover ups to be long sleeved so we can throw them on for sun protection when it’s an especially long day in the sun and we want more coverage.  Of course I have several Lilly Pulitzer ones, but this Mud Pies one is a favorite.



So those are my must-haves.  I am a reformed over packer.  I pretty much pack the above plus a few sundresses and sandals and I’m good to go for a week at the beach.  I think dresses are the absolute easiest way to go when it’s hot ~ they’re comfy, nothing to match, and in a pinch, you can pretend it’s a nightgown and go to sleep in it that night.

Not that I’ve ever done that or anything. 😉


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