Yokomatsu Family Blog

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

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Universe Provides

I'm feeling very accomplished after a successful day of ticking boxes, just ordinary stuff, but enough to make me feel like supermum and that it would therefore be a good time to re-start the blog.

Good paid work vibe, a bit of decluttering done (while listening to a TED talk so self-education ticked off the list too!), nice healthy delicious dinner finished early, children ferried to various locations in a timely manner, nice mum touches with the special water bottle delivery and tooth fairy letter, and enough laundry done to make me feel like the mountain is being shifted.

And now you're wondering why such a mundane post about housework has such a lofty title.

It was just a thought that came to me last week after two consecutive and nearly identical flashes of serendipity. Two classes which usually had 15 or even over 20 students had six each. This is what teachers are always asking, begging and praying for, of course, but it was just so unexpected - I had no reason to ever believe that either class would be smaller. I couldn't help but think it was the universe throwing me a favour just when I needed my life to be simpler.

Which brought me to my suspicion that part of the reason behind my recent, now-three-month long mystery illness is stress. I also have my suspicions that it's higher blood pressure from my weight gain, and/or allergies, but I think I can throw stress in there too. I asked for that too, in a way.

Now, I'm not professing to believe in 'the secret', but I do think that if you open yourself to opportunities, you notice them more and pick up on them with more confidence and enthusiasm. So it was last April, when I decided I wasn't traveling enough, and therefore needed more money, and therefore needed more jobs. And the jobs came! I know why - the job opportunities were always there, I was just shutting myself off from them because I was busy and needed time and space. So I'd hem and haw when the place I work at asked if could do classes, or shut myself off to privates. I know that previous 'me' would have shied away from the class bequeathed to me by a friend leaving town, whereas after 'opening up' I jumped on it. I started saying 'yes' every single time to extra hours at work, figuring out the childcare details later. And I met potential privates with information and timetables so it would happen.

It reached an apex over the last six months, and especially over the last three, when special lessons on top of relief teaching on top of my usual schedule on top of the at-home schedule (back to 'normal' after Mum left) had me running from here to there with barely space to breathe.

So I found myself fantasising about being sick. In the past, I had, every now and then, when I was *really* tired, idly imagined crashing the car , just lightly, so that I would break a leg and HAVE to stay in hospital for two or four weeks and take an enforced rest from everything. Then I broke my foot, and needless to say, it was much more inconvenient than having a non-broken foot, with paid work and volunteer work and housework and childcare all continuing with the same level of demand as before, just with me incapable of keeping up. So maybe I had switched in my semi-sub-conscious brain to imagining being sick instead, again with that enforced rest. I have to say that even though I was afraid and frustrated by my illness, I *did* appreciate feeling that I was "allowed" to come home and immediately to go bed, or rest for several hours on the sofa, doing nothing. Perhaps I just needed that. Like how I'll have a few more drinks than I know I should because I know that'll make me hungover enough the next day to blithely do nothing all day, giving me the ability to ignore everything that needs to be done in favor of indulging my whims.

And now, finally, I asked for SPACE to think and I have it.

Now I just have to figure out what I am going to ask the universe for next.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

How'd that take so damn long?

Okay, so I finished work at 1pm, and had nothing else on for the rest of the day. Images of relaxing at home as the sun went down, nice glass of wine when the sun was still shining.

Reality: run around like a headless chicken and finally crack open the now-not-quite-so refreshing and relaxing champers at 8pm.

Got home, tired, and sat on the sofa reading and 'thinking about' tidying up until Amy reminded me about art class. Drove to art class. Drove to Gooday to get kitty litter. Gaclunked out of Gooday on a flat tyre to K's stand for him to change it (luckily only two blocks away). Picked up L & E, drove to Jiichan and Baachan's stand to get  new tyre. Drove L to salon, picked up A at art, back to salon, to be told that A's hair treatment will take two hours. Back to Baachan's with L to eat ice cream and discuss event timetable, swapping with B one "backstage at the fashion show" for one "karate tournament". Back home for a quick clean up and to change that kitty litter finally. Back to Baachan's to get L then back to salon to fix L's wonky fringe and pick up A, and talk about her new role as spokesmodel for the salon (she gets free cuts and treatment in exchange for generally looking fabulous. Win-win in other words!). Back to salon after driving one block away as I remembered to order Baachan's friends' fashion show tickets. Back to Baachan's to get E. Tyre still not done. Out for dinner with B, A, L & E. Back to Stand, tyre finally done! Drive by cosmos on the way home, get sucked into buying sweets for the children and a shiny new notebook with all new clean pages for A (I share her love of new pages, my Mum will remember how all she needed to do to make me happy was give me blank pages, and A shares this obsession!). Back home yay!!!! Search for The Devil Wears Prada, fail to find it, kids put Gru on (Despicable Me), finally open that damn champagne!!!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


I won't be here long. Very soon, the screen will go black. I will be able to keep typing (I think) and the notification tings will continue but I


will not type and I'll go away and wait until it cools down or gets its groove back or whatever the heck is wrong with it!

Kids are all back at school, I've been a work nearly all my hours since half way through August and all through my birthday week, so that was a bit of a bummer and a bit of a less fun summer than usual - what with Amy's school sports club having 13 practices through summer (very tame compared to some other schools/sports, which practice nearly every day) and all the extra-curricular activities continuing. PLEASE someone remind me next year to cancel EVERYTHING if we're to have a chance to relax, and fit in some day trips and overnights, and maybe even get the bloody homework done!

Well, not much else to add. I really need to use the time I have before the next blank to back up the computer!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beach Heat, Fridge Heat and Cat Heat

We had an absolutely fabulous day at the beach on Saturday. It went off without a hitch, I don't think I got annoyed once, I think everyone was just so happy to finally be going! Even the car ride out was fun, with everyone joking and laughing. Nothing makes us happier than the beach! I'm glad I've passed that on to my girls, but sad that they have to miss out on the MONTH-long beach trips I enjoyed as a kid, the 2-3 swims a day, and the spectacular surf. Moments like that I kick myself for not living closer to a beach, but there's not that much I can do about that, except pile them all into the car for the trip at every available opportunity.

One thing we do that I didn't do as a kid is snorkel. I really love snorkelling! I can't wait to visit a prettier ocean; the sea grass and occasional small fish at Nakasakibana is not very exciting, though I still find it so lovely and peaceful, just moving through the water, the snorkel the only sound in the universe, the sand moving along under you, sun sparkling through the water.

And I finally got the definitive Lena beach shot. I've only been trying to get this photo for four years now, since I took a perfect beach photo of Erica when she was 1. I already had one of Amy, so all I needed to round it out was Lena. Now all I need is to print and frame them.

I was half thinking of visiting Katy, but we only left the beach at 5:30pm, right on dinner time, and I thought it would a bit jama for them and tiring for us. Until next time! Chicken and Sav, right?


We got a new fridge. That's the second new 'white goods' in a month, after the washing machine broke last month. I *think* there's nothing else now that will break in a while, though the microwave is second hand, so I guess it could go anytime. 

About Thursday we noticed the bottled water wasn't as cool as usual.... that could be just people drinking it too fast or opening the door too often, but then Friday it started to make noises like a lawnmower. Amazing how quickly things got stinky after that. I moved some things over to the freezer Saturday morning, then K and I went fridge shopping later in the morning. We got a mid-size Toshiba, with a vegetable drawer in the middle and a separate ice tray and cooling box (so you don't have to leave leftovers out on the bench, OR put them hot into the fridge or freezer). Dull gray, and I don't like it as much as my last one, which was red. 

It was delivered today (Monday) so the rest of the fridge inhabitants moved to the beer fridge in the meantime, itself a sub-par, seal-challenged, dusty outdoor behemoth, useful really only for parties. And mid-summer, 36 degree heat, fridge breakdown emergencies! Only problem is that the outside of it is so HOT! I hope that's only because the freezer was firing up...

Bloody cat. Or rather, bloody ME! 

Vanilla is in heat. She is NUTS! She is far worse than Genki, who is too skittish, and Cinnamon, who is too lazy to move very far. Cats in heat don't bleed, and keep themselves clean, so it's not gross. They are very affectionate, kissing and rubbing up against you, or the other cats. They miaow a lot more than normal (Genki the most, since she is the most vocal to start with), sleep way less, and spend those waking hours wandering around the house, miaowing and trying to get out. 

Since it's full-on summer and topping 35 every day, a lot of doors and windows are open. We have screens on every single window and door, but the cats can open either the screen or the window. Most egregious is the front door - it has a screen, but one installed by a moron, with a 10cm gap at the top, enough for a cat to fit through. I jerry-rigged it up with an umbrella in the gap yesterday morning, and held it shut with a guitar case, just so we could get some air through the house.

I woke up to Kanji telling me he was off to work when he saw Cinnamon on the roof. He found all the cats and got them inside, but let me know there was a security breach somewhere. I think they got through the bathroom window that time. I opened the front door. She got through the top of the screen, I caught her that time, so that's when I set up the umbrella and guitar case, then I then saw her get out again, after knocking the umbrella down! So I chased her, barefoot in my nightie, then retreated home to change before squatting down to check under the cars, their favorite place to hide. Once dressed, I found her under our neighbor's car - my neighbor was up, peering at me from her living room window, so I had to go say Good Morning, excuse me, my cat is under your car. Oh, you have a cat? she said. She came out, while I snuck behind the wheel and grabbed Vanilla by the scruff of her neck. I thought I had better introduce her to Mrs. Noda, but that freaked her out and she lay a very deep scratch half way up my left arm in her panic. 

Then last night while we were watching a movie, we heard a ferocious screech coming from outside. We quickly counted cats, and found Vanilla missing. Everyone went in all directions to find her, inside and out, and after we finally managed to find a torch that worked, I found her on the kitchen step outside, rubbing and rolling. She let me pick her up this time. The black and white Tom was sighted too, so I was very worried that she had just lost her kitty virginity, hence the screech. 

Then it happened again today! This time, I taped had a yoga mat taped to the top of the screen door in addition to the umbrella and guitar case, but she still managed to open the door - or maybe Erica had left it open for a bit when she went outside to skateboard. Again, the first we knew about it was the unholy screech. It seems that however much she seems to crave it, when it happens, it's a bit of a shock! I just hope it wasn't enough to impregnate her. I'm kind of hoping they have to do what their mother does with the black and white Tom and the ugly white Tom - spend hours together, doing it again and again, all night long, very loudly, for it to stick. 

If not, she's one dead cat. With her blood disorder, she will not survive giving birth, or an abortion. When I look at her sweet, soft furry face, I can't believe she has so much of a death wish. Well, scratch or no scratch, I'm giving her lots of love. I think she is not long for this world. 

Oh, and I just stood on Cinnamon, and she got her revenge instantly, with a very deep claw to my left heel. 

So I am a very bloody cat owner today. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Some little odds and ends

I used to be organized, I promise. I knew where every little tool and piece of paper was in this house, and things like desks and bags would be regularly tidied and everything put in its place. Then I had kids, and started volunteering, and worked more, and slowly lost control. Now I'm wresting back that control, piece by piece, and that means pulling down the odd box full of assorted papers that once upon a time I would have make short work of, but more recently just got thrown together on top of a bunch of recipes.

Mostly receipts and notebooks, phone numbers and addresses, but I found this:

KIMBALMANA (goannas)
Wesley NGANJMIRRA (Lightning Man)

Which are the names of the Australian Aboriginal artists who created the art works that have graced my hall walls for years. I helpfully wrote them down before I got them framed and covered forever the backs, where the names are written. I was just thinking the other day how sad it was that I had forgotten even the names/themes of the pictures!

Second was a hilarious reminder of getting your way around Japan pre-smartphone. Three note pages of directions to get to somewhere! I have no idea now where this was heading, and I don't blame you for not reading through the whole thing, but I'm writing it down anyway, just because:

- R at しらかわ shingo
- 254 michi go straight.
- pass road cosmo and nakano
- straight at rd narrow past lake. rd thin and narrow
- L at end of road
- R at next shingo/JA
- up hill, right down to 210
- ? miss landmark, ? top of hill
- no corner just curves down past ?
- back to R10. blue house 本 cosmo and Maruwa intersection L
- R at shimono?? sign (Shell self, Best denki)
- L at ビースパ pett onsen

- After coffee gasoline Left at pink "Kandamachi"
- right at P + perm (before Station) ? up rd past bikes by tracks
- cross brigde left over tracks. to right.
- down hill now on tracks left
- left at white prefab

Where ever the heck that was, I have no idea how I found it.

Then I found a list numbered from 10 to 25:

10. Just converted her 66yr old mother to the joys of the Japanese houchou (knife)
11. Loves sleeping with her babies
12. hate flying
13. dated a millionaire in Sydney
14. Covered all four walls of her bedroom with Duran Duran pictures when she was 14
15. has a Southern Cross star constellation of freckles on her left cheek
16. did self-hypnosis for childbirth
17. had a cat called Church, dogs called Pixie & Doris
18. likes food starting with 'ch' - chicken, cheese, chocolate & champagne
19. accidentally went possum hunting once - never again!
20. loves swimming in rivers and waterfalls in Australia
21. strung pearl necklaces for her father's shop as a kid
22. is teaching her baby signs
23. likes making delicious desserts
24. owns a kimono & a yukata

Looks like one of those memes for blogs that got passed around so much 3-4 years ago.
Obviously I never made it 25. I wonder what 1-9 were!!!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ugh, I am SO sick of today!

I really need today to be over. I really should be in bed, only I'm sure it isn't cool enough yet, so I'm trying drinking. I usually don't bother when I'm annoyed, I just go to bed and read so that tomorrow hurries up and comes quicker, but the teency bottle of German bubbly was beckoning me from the fridge. Souvenir from a student. It's only so-so, but why would be any good, since today is a shitty day.

No reason in particular, just stupid hot weather, and not really achieving anything except driving round in circles and making the heat worse by going from cold to hot over and over again.

I went to work and realized I didn't have a class just after I arrived. Neutral. I'm usually happy when that happens because it means an unscheduled break, but I was just kind of blah today. The highlight of my day was a new kindy class. And the shark cat roomba (see YouTube). At the kindy, the kids had fun, and the staff (I had six of them in there at one time!) were impressed. Little K-chan was so nervous before the class she was sweating (I wondered how the teacher could tell the difference, since the place had no air con) but was sticking her hand up for every turn by the end. Little T-chan usually stutters - but did not stutter once during my class! Okay, that made me feel good, who doesn't like a little ego boost?

The day went downhill after that, for no particular reason except heat and not getting anything done, except a job at the PO and the shopping. Failed to pick up the kids at Baachan's - Amy hadn't finished her essay. It was due at 4pm (and that was overtime) but she didn't finish it until 7. I managed to get Erica to her swimming lesson, but that was just more in and out, hot and cold. Back to get Amy and Lena, failed again, back to swimming, back to Stand, to school, then finally home and called to quit juku, dammit, I am NOT going out again, I'm going to drink. Well, eat first. And shower.

So I finally got that wine open, and sitting in one spot finally with the fan on me, I am now only sweating where body bits touch other body bits, which is gross to read no doubt but so much better than just sweating all over the place.

Oh, and Vanilla is in heat again. MIAOUW!!!

Monday, August 05, 2013


I only managed to be 90% lazy today, despite my best efforts.

Slept till 10, and then managed to stay there playing with my devices until nearly 12! Reluctantly got out of my pyjamas to go do some shopping, I got people food, cat food and laundry powder to help me with that 10% of having to do some work.

Work: one load of laundry, tidying the living room and kitchen, and filled two rubbish bags out of the spare room, one burnable and one non-burnable, just to feel I wasn't completely useless and was making inroads on the grand decluttering and re-decorating effort. Actually, I was supposed to work on that all morning while Amy was at her junior high sports club, take the kids to the beach then go to work in the evening... but Amy skipped club, they both decided they needed to stay home to get some homework done, and I realized my class is next week. Oh well.

Next up, pasta for dinner and we're going to watch The Hobbit. I may get home sick...

Saturday was so-so busy, with a meeting, and ferrying the kids to classes (Amy's art and Lena's T-pet idol lessons). Sunday we went to Alex's farewell party, FAREWELL Alex! Make sure you come back and party again! I wrote up about last week, so I'll post those too in a moment!