About three weeks ago my family told me that they wanted to try a traditional American breakfast. Would I cook it for them? Of course, I said, and after debating what to make, ultimately decided on French toast, eggs, bacon, and home fries. The night before the breakfast, my okaasan went to buy all of the ingredients I had written out for her, and even came back with maple syrup and cinnamon. Well, when it was time to eat, I suddenly got worried. What would happen if they didn't like it?   Fortunately that was not the case, as I watched okaasan put pieces of French toast on her plate, then pile eggs, bacon, potatoes and syrup on top, eating it like an open-faced sandwich.

I found this breakfast, and the experience of making norimaki sushi with okaasan a few days later to be two rather important milestones, because since this time I have been able to go into the kitchen and cook things on my own. My family now sees this as normal, and I don't feel weird about it. In addition, I am now very frequently included in the daily decision-making processes of the family, whether it is what we should have for dinner or where to go on the Hato bus tour of Tokyo. And, I am actually given a choice of whether I want to attend a function or not, quite a change from being dragged around likes a puppy dog on a leash!   

The other night otoosan and I were alone for dinner again, and again I set the table, and served the food. He always eats his rice after everything else, and does the same thing with noodles. When it's just the two of us it's not very formal at all. He usually reads the paper while I watch TV, and when one of us has something to say to the other, we say it. Okaasan never knows if he'll be coming home for dinner, and usually tells me to eat whenever I feel like it, so sometimes I start before he comes home.

I had already finished eating, put my dishes away, and was watching TV when otoosan finished eating what I had served him and then said "Mori-san, udon o tabemasu " (I want some noodles) and stuck out his bowl. At first I was really surprised—it was the first time he had ever asked me to make something for him that the okaasan hadn't left out for me to cook or serve.

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(Toward the end of the homestay) okaasan and I have been getting really close lately. One day when my university didn't have any classes, I went with her to her ceramics workshop, where she showed me a lot of the pieces that she and her friends will be selling in an upcoming festival. Afterwards we went to a little coffee shop nestled in the wooded mountains by a small waterfall, where she and her friends usually go after class. We had coffee and apple pie and talked a lot about the view, her secret recipe for pilaf rice, why the kids who were having pottery lessons wouldn't talk to me, even though I was talking to them, and how lonely she'll be when I leave.

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