Yokomatsu Family Blog

Hi Everyone! This is our family blog, welcome, sit down, have cuppa and catch up with what we're doing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beach Fail, Beach Joy

I don't think I've ever had such a failure of a beach trip as I had today!

1. I forgot my rashie, AND waterproof sunblock. This meant I had to severely curtail my swim time to avoid my lily white skin being burned to a crisp.

2. The tide was out, WAY out, further than I'd seen it before at that beach, meaning we had to choose between swimming in kelp, or through sea grass.

3. My body board's cover was partly torn off in the pool at the weekend, and I had to tear the rest of it all, revealing the polystyrene board. Never mind, the one I had as a kid was just polystyrene! I did lose a few bits of it though, when I tried to sit on it and it popped out behind me!

4. The tent bag's zipper was rusted, and I could not open it. I had to tear the bag open with my teeth, actually I did quite a good job of it, a clean tear, and even managed to fold the tent back into it when we finished.

5. Amy and Lena finally found a way around the kelp/sea grass problem, by walking down the breakwater and entering the 'deep end' down the concrete steps. The only problem is that the lower steps, exposed by the low tide, were covered in sea weed and shellfish. It was icky getting in, and almost impossible to get out - I skidded off it on my way out and got a cut on my leg.

It tells you something about my love for the beach that I had a wonderful day anyway! I normally swim the whole time, and snorkel, so today was different, with more time spent in the tent on the beach, just watching and enjoying the sky, the sea and the sand. I didn't even WANT to check my phone, except to play some songs. Everclear's Santa Monica then some Bob. Tapping my toes, I leaned out of the tent to feel the sun full on my face. A little slice of paradise.

Highlight of the day had to be watching Erica flop through the shallow water in enormous flippers, laboriously squelching each foot out of the sand and water and smacking it back down again. Out by the net trying to sit on our boards and falling off them. The sunflowers and the gorgeous mountains. Checking out the rocky beach outside the breakwater. The perfect sunset, beautiful full moon, and shooting star we saw on the way home. Brilliant day. So glad I didn't sweat the small stuff, and persisted, despite wanting to quit at one point. A lesson in patience, persistence and focussing on the joy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unfinished sentences

I found this list of 'Unfinished Sentences' that I had filled out way back when I just arrived in Japan. I decided to fill them in again, without reading what I'd written the first time. So here they are, with the past answer followed by the present answer:

The funniest thing I ever saw was...

... minitruck cam at the Austins, Xmas '94

... Funniness depends less on the thing and more on the company. Thus, three: 1. with Mum watching Bloopers or Funniest Home Videos, especially with people falling over. 2. Watching dumb cat videos with my kids (or people falling over). 3. That comedy show on NZ TV in about 1992, watching with my flatmates, everybody stoned (except me. Serious, I never liked getting stoned!).

If I had 24 hours to live...

... write heaps, see if I could get home. Smell the roses.

... Id gather my kids around and give them instructions about my diaries and photos, and computer passwords. Then after they slept, open Skype and throw open my home to all and sundry. When they wake again, hug them again. See out the day with a glass of wine and the setting sun.

On Saturdays I usually ...

... work! On Sundays I read, relax, do housework & organise my week

... Go into full-on soccer-mom mode!

I feel best when people...

... around me are relaxed & happy & friendly & busy

... are honest & open, relaxed and gracious

I'd like to spend a long holiday in...

... Italy, touring ancient sites & visiting Art Galleries

... in the Mediterranean

I wish politicians would...

... quit

... not become cynical and lose their passion

I have never...

... killed anything. Or even wanted to (except maybe Colin sometimes)

... decided what to do when I grow up

Parents should always...

... love, smile, set free, hug

... love

My children will...

... do whatever they want, probably

... be what they want to be

This world would be a better place if...

... compassion swallowed greed

... we trained all boys to be gentle

The thing that worries me most is...

... succeeding in attaining my desires

... getting cancer

I never worry about...

... nothing! Everything is worth at least a niggling doubt

... my hair

Some day I am going to...

... get married & have a baby & fall in love (in no particular order)

... see the world

I like people who...

... are gentle & funny & thoughtful & romantic & creative

... can equally talk ideas and philosophy, and have a laugh

I get very angry if...

... Colin questions me. Especially if he finds something 'inconsistent'

... I feel I'm losing control of my lifestyle

I find it difficult to...

... make friends

... stop reading interesting articles and start cleaning

I'd like to be more... and less...

... spontaneous and talkative... introverted & self-absorbed

... organised and energetic.... lazy and procrastinating

I am not interested in...

... money & fame (much) sport (much)

... TV

Studying is...

... interesting & rewarding

... a refreshing and welcome change

If I could be somewhere else right now...

... I'd be at home in the lounge laughing

... I'd be on a yacht

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2012 Round-up

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

9. What was your biggest failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?

ii. thinner or fatter?

iii. richer or poorer?

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?

23. How many one-night stands?

24. What was your favorite TV program?

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
28. What did you want and get?
29. What did you want and not get?
30. What were your favorite films of this year?
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

34. What kept you sane?
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
36. What political issue stirred you the most?

37. Who did you miss?

38. Who was the best new person you met?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Another Friday Night

It's 10:16 so I'm perfectly justified in sending the kids to bed, even though it's a Friday night. The only reason I haven't done so yet is 1) can't be bothered and 2) they are actually being really cute making videos on my old iphone of cats being cute with themselves singing background. OH and Amy is endeavouring to sew together a torn-up ¥100 shop Mrs Claus outfit for Lena, because the 'Christmas cosplay' outfit I ordered from Amazon for her event on Sunday is arriving - on Sunday morning. There's a chance we'll miss it, so we're slapping together a possible alternative. I'm personally angling for Lena being allowed to wear her normal outift, plus a cape and hat, but Lena doesn't like that idea of course, she doesn't want to be the only one not in a Christmas costume.

It's a normal Friday night. The kids are watching a movie, I'm doing laundry and having a wine. I don't get to do either on weeknights, due to work commitments or driving the kids to this or that class. Normal except K isn't here, he's out at yet another bonenkai. If he's here we often all sit down together with beer and sashimi and yummy things and watch something. I like it if it's Music Station or recordings of the morning NHK drama, or Unbelievable, but not if it's one of the crappy variety shows. Erica loves AmeToku!

.... and a bit later on, K's home, watching variety shows and drinking a beer, and I'm drinking beer and watching YouTube videos and writing this and stuff on facebook, and we're both thoroughly enjoying having Sugar and Spice back for some all-out manic kitten fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Furisode

I was digging around in the old photos (for a pic for the memorabilia blog) when I came across these. Here I am, wearing the furisode, properly and appropriately, after I bought it.

In my first year in Japan, I taught a private lesson to three older ladies, a doctor's wife, the wife of a stationery store owner, and a tea ceremony teacher whose husband was a Zen priest (I also took calligraphy lessons with this couple, in the tea house in the garden of their temple). She would often turn up to the lesson wearing a kimono, as she had just come from a lesson or ceremony. She wore them several times a week, and obviously felt very comfortable in them. I of course frequently admired them, as I do love kimonos. So when she saw a sale of former hire kimonos in her local department store, she thought of me, and took me there to buy one. This was ¥10,000 I think.

Here I am her her temple garden. I twice took part in tea ceremonies with her (once getting on TV), wearing the kimono. She dressed me, which is why it looks so crisp and lovely here! She was such a pro - she could tie it on tight enough that you never felt it was coming loose, but never so tight that you felt like you couldn't breathe. She also gave me a number of accessories for it, including all the ties you need (there are a lot of ties under this holding everything together!) clips, undergarments and socks. That is  not the obi I wore last month, but I think I know where it is. I'm not sure what happened to the obiage, but I still have the obijime. I seem to have misplaced the undergarments too! Actually I think I just borrowed the white under kimono here.

And here I am at Again with Yori and Katchan. This time, Maichan and I struggled to get the thing on, so it's a bit wonkier. We're just wearing them for the chance to wear them really. 

One more occasion I wore it was for Hina Matsuri one year before I got married. While this is not part of the official parade, it was nice of them to arrange a ride in one of the rickshaws for me. That's Ranto's dad (Mayumi's husband) Jiro there, pulling it! This was long before they got together. Mayumi was with me that day, and took a ride too, but isn't in the photo for some reason. The sign says 'Hina Matsuri (dolls' festival)' so I was a kind of advertisement for the festival! I had a red obi on this time, it's clear in another picture, but I can't remember who dressed me and did my hair (I have little gold accessories in my hair). 

Only young single women wear furisodes (the type with very long sleeves) so after I got married, I never had the chance to wear it again until last month. While Baachan helped me buy a yukata specially made for me (pictured below)

I never bought another kimono either - the more I learned about kimonos (largely from reading Liza Dalby) the more I felt they didn't suit me. I'm too tall and my arms are too long and shoulders too wide. I don't mind those parts of me, but they don't go well with kimono. And getting them made doesn't help, because they come in set widths, with one width used for sleeves, so the sleeves are always going to be too short. Oh well, I had my fun with them, massively punctuated with a huge exclamation mark last month!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A blah kind of day

Totally zonked and ran out of energy today. I had things to do and didn't do them and so felt guilty, and so I made myself a short list of things to do just so I could get to the end of the day and feel like I had done something! Crappy little things, like finishing off the kitten room (Cinnamon's pregnant), finally sorting through that bag of half broken crockery from the spare room, finally listing the items I had out to sell for several days, catching up on several blogs and creating a new one (to set my thinking mind free from this's blog's seemingly never ending urge to catch up, get those photos up, or whine incessantly about my hectic schedule).

Don't know why I zonked so much. Could be that time of the month. I had a bit of a pressure headache, more than usual, probably the cold going around our family. I tasted a funny taste on a coffee can this morning and wondered if I'd ingested something toxic. And I ate too much for lunch. I ended up clicking. Quite a funny blog actually, I Just Can't Today. Two and half browser pages of Internet History today, oops....

Eyelids are failing to function, I think it's time I quit today. Tomorrow is another day.



That's all I have to say about those ambitious plans to combine a normal Thursday with a roast chicken dinner. And it's about how long it took for K to convince me.

Me (running horrendously late with pre-cooking as Amy has been in the kitchen all afternoon making and decorating my cake, something I can hardly complain about): "Can you take Erica to English?"

K, incredulously: "She's going to English?"

Me: "Oh, okay then, not."

K: "She should skip karate then too"

Me (dancing inner happy dance): "And Lena already said she didn't want to go to her dance lesson, so yay!

Immediately pour wine.

Even with no lessons to ferry kids to, the late start meant that we didn't eat until after 9 anyway, but we all enjoyed it. I was spoiled with lovely presents, and K brought home the (cheap, Australian) wine and a beautiful bunch of flowers with unopened lily buds so I got a full ten days of sweet scents out of the bouquet.

A story best told in pictures, I think.

Breakfast, not in bed, as I got up way before them to go to rajio taiso with Erica! But they made it for me, and it was super!

Present from my sister Rebecca! Nice surprise, a necklace with a picture of the Cape Egmont lighthouse. 

After working in the morning, it was off to Aile for the kebab. This photo is fuzzy, but they are all genuinely laughing at me waving the camera around for the perfect shot.

With that kebab!

Then it was home for meringues with whipped cream and kiwi fruit

Erica playing and singing a Japanese birthday song

Then Daddy came home! With wine and beautiful flowers for me. 

The cake. It matches the coaster you see later on.

Appetizer: fried camembert (some with, some without walnut centres, I didn't have time to make the apricot sauce)

Sweet shy Erica giving me a present. It's so nice to see them getting such joy out of giving. 

They taped the whole exchange!

Two pairs of earrings.

The wine with the lovely sunshiny coaster, which I am now using every day at my computer!

Perfume. It's gorgous, the nicest one I've got for a long time!

Dinner finally! Roast chicken with stuffing, sweet potato, potato and pumpkin, mashed potato, cabbage and gravy. 

Dessert! We made our own brandy snaps! They were a little chewy but tasted just right. 

We were so full we could not eat the cake! So we did the candles and Happy Birthday song the next day. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Musing about Birthdays

My birthday's coming up in a week and I've found myself lacking the energy to be bothered planning much this year.

With getting older every year the novelty wears off a little, that's part of it. And Japan kind of sucks the fun out of it by thinking the whole thing is much too selfish and childish, so that I even find it hard to write this and not feel like I am coming across as that! Neither friends nor family are under any obligation to even remember the day and say something, let alone indulge you in a whole week of 'Celebrating Me'. But it's less that I think than busyness inertia - the fear of planning because everything gets changed, cancelled or trumped, so that even blank spaces on my calendar look suspicious.

For years now, I've ensured my own birthday fun (and ensured my kids would learn how I expect a birthday to be celebrated) by making my own plans for outings, planning my own menus and ordering the things I want to be delivered (nothing better than getting boxes in the post!). No choice really, you can't just sit around waiting for everyone to realise then get all pissed off when they don't. Might as well ensure there are some things there that YOU like!

In summers gone by (I've had more birthdays in summer and/or tropical weather now that it feels normal!) I had more time off work and the kids' summer wasn't so stuffed full of things. I hate how while school is out, extra curricular classes continue. I do skip some of them, but feel obliged to keep up with others. I liked it better when we blew everything off and just forgot what day it was. Anyway, that was a bit of an aside, though summer busyness and plans certainly impact my celebrations.

So I didn't have any clear ideas about what I wanted to do, except go to the beer garden. That was my plan last year, only it got typhooned out. The problem is that my birthday falls on a Thursday, in the middle of a work week, sandwiched between two busy weekends. There simply isn't a space to put that!

Planning was complicated by there being so many things I like to do! Go out on a date with Kanji to a fancy restaurant. Or with the whole family. Have a family dinner at home with old country favourites and a bottle of expensive bubbly on NZ sav blanc. Go out with the girls. Have a home party, preferably wine and cheese. Go out for lunch with the kids. Eat pie at home for lunch (yes, meat pies, the height of exotica here!). Go out for parfaits or sundaes with the kids. Drink champagne or wine while watching a favourite DVD. Now, how on earth can I fit all that in? I can't, right? So I have to choose, and kind of let it fall by the wayside as I dithered about what I wanted and where I could fit it in.

At the same time, I was being equally dithery about our summer holiday plans. I'd had vague ideas of going to Shimonoseki, Miyajima, waterfalls, beach trips, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, maybe even Melody in Miyazaki again. And once more, I couldn't decide so kind of let it fall. Part of the reason was never knowing what was planned for Obon, and suspecting we were going to be busy with hatsubons, since there were two deaths in the family this year. It turns out that a visit from the 'head of the family' is enough and we did nothing different from normal, so we could have booked many things that weekend, except of course that that's the week every other person in Japan is booking things, and we'd probably have to had booked a year ago, plus the roads would be packed so even staying with people would be risky! I'm glad we left the week before free, and could do Gishwhes.

So for our annual summer holiday, we ended up in Beppu, because the chance came up to use the Yaskawa affiliated ryoukan at company prices (eg, cheap), and the only weekend I get a booking was the 30-31. That's the weekend directly after my birthday, and with PP stuff the weekend before, so no 'birthday weekend' with a panoply of events for moi. I've also squeezed in a girls night in Fukuoka on the night of the 24th, with a night in a hotel. That was an AFWJ event organized ages ago, that I wasn't sure I could go to, until I decided that with work and stuff crowding my birthday on both sides, I was damn well going to go, come hell or high water (probably the latter this record-breaking rainy August).

With work every day next week, that means my actual birthday will be a bit of a non-event, and it won't be a whole-weekend, or 'lunch today', 'party tomorrow', 'date night the night after' kind of long weekend I like to arrange. Just a day, and a busy one at that, with work in the morning, and three kid lessons in the evening.

So here's the plan, finally: in direct defiance of my usual practice, my goal this year is to not order a single thing. Okay so I've already broken that promise by deciding to buy the second season of The Conchords, but at least I am getting by on no ordered-in food. Breakfast will be after rajio taiso (nice way to start your birthday, lol!), and will be ham and eggs with the most expensive Buzen ham miyako-ham.co.jp/item/t010/, which tastes like real ham off the bone, igirisu pan ('English' bread) and Hokkaido butter.

Then work! At least it's an off-text lesson, and the two classes that day are okay, I should have some fun with them. Maybe I should butter them up with chocolate or something to ensure a smooth day!

Lunch is going to be beef kebabs at Aile facebook.com/AileCafe. I'm in heaven since Miyuki brought the beef back!!! Then we'll go home and eat meringues with whipped cream and berries. Okay, they are not from Nakatsu, or even from Japan, Mum brought them for Christmas. I hope they are still okay!

I have to take Erica to English at 5, but I might give that a miss - at least, her American English teachers are the most likely to totally and instantly 'get' that it being my birthday is a legitimate reason to skip class. It would just bamboozle the Japanese staff. We'll have a cheese board, greek salad and deep fried camembert for our snack at about 5pm. Then I'll put the chicken on to roast!

I have to order in the chicken too, but at least I can order it locally from a shop down the road. I'll stuff it in the afternoon and have it ready to roast while I do the karate and dance class run, with Amy lovingly basting it and watering it to ensure a perfect gravy. Erica really can't miss any more karate classes since she missed so many over summer, and same for Lena with dance. It's okay! Just challenges my stubborn ability to have fun no matter what life throws at me.

So we'll have a super late dinner, probably not eating until 9, by the time we mash the spuds and make the gravy. I'll probably do roast veges and other veges in the afternoon to save time. Dessert is going to be brandy snaps! Amy's been asking for them lately, so we're going to MAKE them the day before. I've done it once before, with K helping, and have made the easier brandy baskets a few times so I know I can do it. I may have some wine, just a little, with dinner, but I think I'll be too busy eating to drink much!

Monday, August 11, 2014


Well that was fun! 

I just spent a most interesting week participating in Gishwhes, the greatest international scavenger hunt the world has ever known. I joined Team Takoyaki at the invitation of a friend, on a facebook group, Kim, but I knew about the game from last summer, when Jessica posted her immortal photo of her battling Casey dressed only in kitchen-ware. 

It seemed like a fun idea, and while I had a few moments of doubt, I'm glad I went through with it. We had such fun! Or, I did anyway. E was a bit shy, A a bit teenage angsty, L was a good model though. 

It must say something deep and meaningful that the first items I opted for were dress-ups, Lego and food. I quickly put my name down for 'geisha', 'bathroom' and 'candy bathing suit', 'lego dinner' and 'ice cream hat'.

17. [IMAGE] You are off to a most elegant formal evening gala. Disaster strikes! Your outfit is ruined! Dress yourself in an outfit fit for such an evening, using only items found in your bathroom. -Hutchinson 49 points


This was my first effort. I started thinking about how I could use the items I already had in the bathroom, like my bath mats. I thought I'd just have a quick look at the 100 yen shop on Monday and ended up walking away with these black towels, blue sponges, red heart sponges ( in my ears) and the non-slip bath mat around my waist. I figured that you can always use more towels and sponges! Samantha came over to help me pin it up and she took the photos of the finished result. 

36. [IMAGE] You at the beach, pool or on a boat, wearing a homemade, 99% edible, candy bathing suit. (The remaining 1% can be inedible thread or wire, but we don't want to see it.) 53 points

Amy and I had started making this from the morning, but Lena didn't arrive home until 5. Amy wove the bikini top and I threaded in the lolipops. Amy made the marshmallow bottoms and I added the jellies. When Lena finally got home, we whipped her into that pool, Samantha standing modesty guard with a towel while I draped the swimsuit over her.  I added the 'straps' and the lollipop eyes and hair ties. We were just in time to catch the lovely light of the setting sun. 

Samantha stayed on for drinks and a curry dinner, and we spent the evening constructing stuff out of Lego like a pair of 8 year olds. 

106. [IMAGE] Let's see a fully dressed, face-painted geisha mowing the lawn. - Anni Kauniskangas 62 points 


This is the one I worked hardest at, spent the most on, and am the most proud of. I asked Satoko at Grand Jete first of all if she had a wig I could borrow, then she offered to do my hair. My girls had modeled for a few weeks before, so it was favor. It's my own kimono, and Samantha's obi, and I have all the ties and things necessary, and know roughly how to put it on, but I got a bit worried as it's heavy silk, and long, it's not like putting on a yukata, so I ended up getting it put on at the salon, at a cost of ¥11,000! I could not find geisha make up, so I decided to use acrylic paint, as Sam suggested that it would be okay as long as I took it off in half an hour. But then when I arrived at Jo's (I had originally planned to use my decrepit lawn, but as I had to meet Jo to get her to sign our passport photos anyway, I changed locations - as an added bonus she also had an actual lawnmower!), she told me she had some clown paint, so I used that! It was hot, it was sweaty, it was FUN!

When I arrived home finally, after taking some kimono photos at the shrine, and going out for dinner at Aile Turkish restaurant with my hair in place (it was so beautifully done I didn't want to say goodbye to it), I used the advantage of having my hair in a terrible mess to do the mugshot - the whole team needed to do a mugshot for the team collage. That's elopus, the Gishwhes mascot, on my cheek, and a backwards YOLO on my forehead. 

37. [IMAGE] “When I grow up, I want to be...” Have a child dress up as what they want to be when they grow up (lawyer, doctor, ballerina, dragon-slayer, etc.). Then stage the photo in the environment they would be working in. 61 points

I was really on a roll by now! Though another member (the one who invited me) had claimed it, another person had commented that she had someone sending her a fireman photo - but it hadn't arrived. I checked the facebook group first thing in the morning and read that, and thought, I can fill that gap! Here is the result!

74. [IMAGE] Be the messiah you were always meant to be. Walk on water (must be a lake or pool). We must not see anything under your feet except for water. Not that we need to say this, but: no photoshopping!56 points

The main goal that day though was getting the Lego done, and I also added this walking on water task. Filling the swimming pool took all day! I intended to be the walker, but in the end, Lena was just so much more elegant at it than me!

16. [IMAGE] A family of at least four enjoying a formal dinner. All of the place settings, serving utensils, dishes - basically every non-food item above the tablecloth - must be made from Legos. 63 points

Another thing that took all day! We actually started the Lego dinner on Wednesday night, while Samantha was here - those are her forks, knives, and sashimi dipping bowls! I did the glasses and spoons and gathered salad and seafood items. Amy did the large white serving bowls. It took all day because the first time, I just photographed the items. Then I read that it was a family of four, eating a meal, just everything but the food and tablecloth should be lego. Then I took a photo on the iphone's internal camera, but that camera sucks, so as soon as K got home, I sat him down and got my shot!

It was while doing the lego that I noticed, really noticed, that that is an octopus. Then remembered that we have an elephant finger puppet somewhere. Voila, the Gishwhes mascot Elopus! 

122. [IMAGE] Create a piece of furniture that hasn't been created yet but would be very useful. Demonstrate its use. - Alex white 34 points


Really on a roll now, I'm getting the hang of this! Get an idea and go with it! Confidence! Trust! If they have a better idea, let them take precedence, but in the meantime, submit your own idea! This was something I thought of Friday afternoon and put together with two shoe stands and a broken part of the cat tower. Hope it gets us at least a few points!

12. [IMAGE] GISHWHES has taken its toll this year. You deserve a break. Hit the hot tub with a couple of friends... wearing hats made of ice cream.37 points

Lauren helped us out with this one. She's also on a Gishwhes team, Sinning Minions, and this was also her team's 'help another team' challenge. (our team's was already done). The kids were SO reluctant, but we had such fun in the end!

172. [IMAGE] One of my big pet peeves is that parades only seem to happen on certain designated holidays or for special events. Obviously, it is our god-given right to have a parade anytime we want. Build a Mardi Gras-style parade float and drive it down main street. We must see something related to GISHWHES on the float (a mascot, an item, etc.). 108 points

When I first read this challenge, it seemed obvious that this was totally out of my league, but as the week went on, somehow anything seemed doable. Or rather, realising that no actual full-size festival float was going to happen, I was free to do a mash-up. I made this with stuff in our crafts drawer and a hot glue gun in about an hour, and filmed it at Nakatsu station (while waiting for Lauren to emerge, honey-covered, for her own Gishwhes challenge!).

119. [VIDEO] “Jump the shark”. You will be penalized if you are bitten or eaten by a shark, so plan accordingly. (Liberal interpretations of this item are encouraged.) 21 points

Another last-minute one. I was up early Saturday searching noisily through the Lego to find the bits I needed for that boat! I made the mistake of thinking this was an image at first, and took a photo! I re-read the challenge and saw it was a video, but I had to go and do the hot tub picture then, so when we returned after lunch we re-did it! That's Lena driving. 

The last things I did seemed so impossible to me at first. Not something *I* could do. Impossible, given the parameters I read into the initial challenge. As the week went on though, and the 'impossible' items remained unchallenged, I was able to free my mind from the limits imposed by the original challenge (or my reading of it) and come up with more creative ideas. 

Naturally I want to try this again, and next year I will be on the ball from day one!