Well, that's what we planned until we found out there was a family reunion going on in Saitama. A family reunion that if we gatecrashed could perhaps score me a 'get out of trekking up to Fukushima to see the grandparents' free card.
So, out the window with the restful day plan and we dragged our sorry selves out of bed at 5:00am, were out the door at 5:30 and on the 6:20 train. Without breakfast- K set the rice cooker as usual. As usual means set to be ready at 5:30am.... oh well. We took bananas in the car and promised the girls a riceball at the station.
Great idea but the station kiosk opens at 6:30 and our train left at 6:20. Oh well, we'll grab something when we change to the shinkansen at Nagano city.
Oops, the regular train and the shinkansen entrances are separate at Nagano station, no time to stop by the kiosk.
By the time we got on the shinkansen and the overpriced and preservative packed sandwich cart came around Meg was quite sure I was starving her. Very worried the cart wouldn't arrive and wolfed down the '5 variations on mayonnaise' sandwich special like she hadn't eaten in weeks. Poor kid.
On the morning train
Made it to Omiya station and played our superglue game to get through the station to the other train line for the last section of our journey. This involves pretending to stick globs of superglue on our palms and smooshing them together. A cute way of saying 'you must not, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, let go of mummy's hand in the big scary city.' It's weird. I am perfectly fine with the girls climbing trees up above my head height, running through the fields, playing in creeks, being out of my eyesight anywhere around here but having them stand on a train platform- even wayyyy back with their bums to the wall and my heart starts pounding as I imagine having to drag them off the tracks out of the way of a speeding train- gahhhh!
Anyway, surprisingly enough we arrived safely and without incident, had a huge day playing, made a grandma very happy, had the first all-in meeting of the cousins- a 6 year old, a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 7 month old and the girls soaked up a huge dose of grandma love. Amy is a live in the moment kind of kid and doesn't get too worked up about the lack of grandparents in our immediate proximity but Meg misses everyone and goes through 'why can't we go to Australia for the weekend?/ 7 hours North to Fukushima for the day?' periods which require lots of empathy and patient explaining. So a whole day hanging out with Grandma was like Christmas in March.
I was blown out by my 2 year old niece. She lives a 1 minute walk from a huge shopping mall on the 9th floor of a very fancy apartment complex complete with reception desk guy. She can swipe the magic key to get in, knows how to run the elevator (not just her floor number but how to hold the door for someone or close the door when we're all in etc etc) she does lunch at restaurants (and not just family oriented ones) and sits in her seat- and stays in her seat- for the entire meal. Wow. Just wow. But I heard that she doesn't like running around outside and at the park likes to be held and have her mum by her side as she plays. I guess we are all products of our environment, huh?
After a big day playing we started the mammoth return journey- the morning's adventure in reverse and finally walked in the door at 8:30pm. 15 hours after we walked out that morning. It was a huge day. A fun-filled marathon of an adventure but boy was it nice to get home!
Last leg of the journey- the slow train home from Nagano city. They were wired and spent the hour trip trying to balance in the aisle without touching anything. It's a pretty rock and rolly kind of ride and they kept bumping into each other. Hilarious. I was sure they would sleep on the train. But nope. Far too excited to sleep on a day out in the big smoke.