Thursday, December 19, 2013

Family Portraits

Hiroki and Amane
Amane the Reindeer!
Fingerhuts at Christmas 2013

Monday, December 2, 2013

Michiyo turns 40!

Successful Surprise Party!
Great time with Hiroe and many friends
Mommy is 40!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

November 2013

Our November kicked off with a Magic Show (in Japanese!) at Hiroki's school.

Hiroki starred as the Entrance guard in a Zodiac skit on stage.

Tap Class Recital at Richmond Heights Tree Lighting.  

Amane had fun with Cora Eby, our friend in from Oregon.

Thanksgiving Feast celebration at Hiroki's Kindergarten.

Sleepover with cousin Henry 

Cousin time on Thanksgiving

Thursday, October 31, 2013

October 2013

Epic Yoda Stilt costume!
Hiroki meets storm troopers
Meeting some classmates at a Trunk or Treat

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 2013

Michiyo's college friend Kaoru came down from Oregon once again.

Loving siblings!
Restless Sleepers

Fun gig walking on stilts with a MJ impersonator lighting up the night
Older brother Hiro protecting little sister Amane.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fire at the Fingerhuts!

Last week, at the end of July, our family moved back into our house nine weeks after an attic fire forced us to begin a long hotel stay.  During the last two months, we have not shared so many details publicly.  For those family and friends that knew about it, we have received tremendous support in so many ways, and we will never be able to fully show our gratitude.  Now that we are on the home stretch of this crazy summer adventure, I want to share the story.  Given the situation, we got extremely lucky, and with all the recent fires, tornadoes, and other disasters, there are many people that are much worse off than us.  This story is our experience, and if you have a family or a house, perhaps parts of this retelling can benefit you.  

On the morning of Friday, May 24th, our five-year old son Hiroki woke us up and said he smelled something cooking.  Michiyo got up, smelled smoke, and woke me up.  For ten or fifteen minutes, we checked every room, outlet, nook and cranny of our split-level home, and found nothing.  I checked and re-checked the batteries and test buttons on the smoke detectors, but they did not sound any alarm.

As I stood in our bedroom contemplating whether to call 911, I looked out the window and saw a neighbor running.  At 7am, this woman was not dressed for exercise, and she was not sticking to the sidewalk.  Her path was diagonal, across the street and through yards.  As she got closer to our house, I silently pleaded for her to stop at our next door neighbor’s house.  She kept coming toward our house.  I put my head to the screen and yelled, “What?”

She said one of the scariest things a father and homeowner can hear.  “Your roof is smoking!”

I hustled outside to our backyard deck, looked up, and saw smoke rising from every tiny opening in our roof.  Immediately I dialed 911, and they said someone all ready called and people were on the way.  I rushed inside and told Michiyo we have to get the kids out right now.  Swiftly and calmly, we all changed from pajamas to regular clothes, grabbed a few things and got out the door.  Still clinging to the possibility this was a minor deal, I only grabbed my laptop bag, figuring I would need that to do work later in the day. 

Once we were all out and safe, I grabbed a ladder and went back inside to the attic opening.  Putting my head up there to see if a fire extinguisher or hose would make a difference, all I saw was smoke—no flames whatsoever, and nothing to do.  So I went outside and joined Michiyo on the sidewalk.

Ten minutes later, we watched the firemen pull down our entire living room ceiling.  The insulation my Dad and I spent hours blowing in last fall came down like rain.  The prevailing thought in my head was not how messy everything would be, but how upset my wonderful Japanese wife would be at all the dust, dirt, and possibly water on everything in our house. 

Our street quickly filled with emergency vehicles and neighbors.  Barb from next door brought out some jackets.  Marty and Julie from across the street took five year-old Hiroki and two year-old Amane inside their house to keep them away from the chaos.  My Mom and Dad came to just be there for us, and soon took the kids to their house, where my brother Mark and cousin Dave then took them the rest of the day.

I knew I had a few hours to handle some important details.  We needed to get facts and figure out what our living situation would be.  Then I had to address the fact that I had five different entertainment gigs in the next 60 hours, all of which were booked based on the expectation that I would be the performer. 

The fire marshal and insurance people told us that an electrical fire had started in the attic, where old aluminum wires connected to more recent copper wiring connected to the ceiling fan. As it turns out, this connection was made with electrical tape as opposed to a junction box.  So our gas and electric were now turned off, and we couldn’t stay in our house until repairs were done.
With directions from our insurance company, we checked into a hotel by 5pm, after I got some help covering my afternoon gig.  I made sure Michiyo was set, then sped off to the evening party, and my cousin brought our kids home that night.  Because it was Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, we spent the three-day weekend absolutely in the dark as to what would happen.  We settled into a tiny hotel room and made it through the holiday weekend coming up with questions to ask when business hours resumed on Tuesday. 

The following two months, described in detail, could seriously run a few pages, and I don’t feel like running through that right now.  Here are just a few of the noteworthy details.

The cleaning company estimated we’d be out for two months, so our insurance company had a housing company in Arizona search for a temporary place to stay.  We were seriously losing our minds after two weeks in a one-room hotel room with two little kids, and then they said we would stay another two weeks there.  I calmy but forcefully told them we would need someplace else, and within a day, we were put in a two-room suite, with a kitchenette and dining area.  With a daily continental breakfast, trash and bed-service, some elbow room, the two months we spent in this room were all together not bad.  Plus, having access to a pool helped a lot.

A week after our fire, several tornadoes hit the St. Louis area, which drew the focus of contractors and insurance people away from our situation, and rightfully so.  Because of the tornadoes presumably, our cleaning/repair company could not get a work order to begin repairs until late June.  So there were three to four weeks where nothing was being done to our house besides a cleaning company coming to get everything out of it.

Speaking of, what an experience the cleaning company was!  First they came and got every piece of cloth out of our house.  Then they came and took all the hard items, like chairs, tables, toys, and dressers.  Our house was empty.  Good for the fact that everything would be clean, but PAINFUL for the fact that when it all came back, we would have to unpack, sort, and put it all back.  In the end, incredibly, our stuff was returned in almost 250 boxes, each with packing materials enclosed.  In perfect little-kid fashion, Hiroki and Amane made the most of the mountain of paper and boxes.
Right around 4th of July, repair work started, and after a month, we were able to settle in.  This huge summer adventure coincided with my busiest season, as the annual tidal wave of summer gigs hit: magic shows, juggling shows, wedding receptions, and for a new development, several speaking gigs which took
me to several other states.  While that is good news on the career front, I hated to leave town with Michiyo putting in an absolutely herculean effort in unpacking countless boxes and getting our house in order.  No words can describe how incredible my wife is!

Our year has proceeded in sections: We got through winter, then spent spring in Japan.  Came home for  a month, then spent summer in a hotel after our house caught on fire.  We are finally back in our house, and Hiroki’s first day of Kindergarten is this week.  What will be next?  Life sure is eventful.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Yes, we went to Japan in March and April.  I shared a bunch on Facebook, but haven't put them up here yet.

For now, please enjoy a video I made for a friend of mine's class back in America.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November 2012

We put a fish tank on Amane's head.  No, she seriously enjoys putting this plastic container over her head--hilarious!

Shaving or eating pudding?  Either way, nice goatee.

Hiro's Turkey hat
Thanksgiving Day Parade, Japanese School Float

No tears from Hiro; he's totally cool with a live snowman.

Amane will fall asleep anywhere.
Four cousins at Thanksgiving: Seamus Heaney, Hiroki Fingerhut, Henry Hawkins (Fingerhut), & Amane Fingerhut
Grandma Julie and Grandpa Joe love their grandkids!
Hiroki was a crab at his preschool class's performance at Japanese School.  He did an impression of McKayla--not impressed.
Christmas Tree up in November!  Hiroki loved it, and loved this sweet ornament.
Michiyo with some chef dude named Tyler.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 2012

Hiroki in a good mood for a haircut
Loungin in pajamas with Grandma Julie
Hiroki's breakfast overseen by a Japanese robot named Shinken-O
Halloween fun at Grant's Farm
Hiroki the Blue Power Ranger, Amane the Bumblebee,  Daddy Joe the Cow
Darling pig tails on Amane
Our little flower
Amane the flower
Halloween playdate with Hiroki, Kaito, Kaisei, Elena, & Amane
With a special cow guest
Halloween party at Webster University's Japanese School
Does it get any better than Sugar donut in, on and around your mouth?
Changing oil at the magic house on a field trip.
Our old friend Big Joe Debeic was in St. Louis for a minute to attend a conference  as well as examine Mark's mustache in  person.
Pumpkin farm fun
Leaves with a shovel--Hiro likes it, Amane is confused.
Pumpkin faces in the style of Power Rangers--Hiro was loving it!
At Hiroki's preschool's Halloween party: "You want me trust this girl wrapping me in toilet paper?"  
The big night: Trick-or-Treating with cousin Seamus dressed as Robin with a Six-pack (abs, that is).
Our neighbor Carly was handing out candy.