Sunday, December 25, 2005

Expat Christmas Dinner

Christmas Day in Japan is always a little lonely for us. I am used to a house FULL of people, literally overflowing, with meals eaten on the lawn! Sun shining, good cheer, that special holiday feeling you get, the feeling that this day is special, different.

Christmas Day in Japan is just another day. Japanese have taken on Christmas and celebrate it, but in their own special way. It's all focussed on Christmas Eve, and it's become date night - Japanese find Christmas wonderfully romantic, and couples get together to celebrate it. Restaurants have special Christmas menus, with nothing you would recognize from a traditional Christmas feast. Love hotels' business booms. People don't go anywhere near their family. Christmas Cake is eaten - sponge with strawberries and cream. The shops are full of decorations from early December, and play Christmas songs, but all of it is gone by Christmas Day. The last stock is removed from the shelves sometime on Dec 23 or 24.

So Christmas Day is a relative non-event - some younger kids in my class were not even aware that it's supposed to be on the 25th! And the end of the year is an extremely busy time at the gasoline stands, because people want their car washed as part of the big year-end clean-up, and need lots of gasoline to take them on their holidays home to the grandies for New Year. So Kanji ALWAYS has to work on Christmas Day (which is, of course, also his birthday). Which makes our day that little bit lonlier. In 2003 I made a dinner and then we brought it to him at work, along with two tiny cakes, one for Christmas, one for his birthday.

This year I decided to do an ex-pat Christmas, and invite some of the people I work with, who, like me, would be missing home and family at this time, and who intinctively understand what the day is supposed to feel like. I made it an open invitation, knowing that young people still thinking in college party mode often consider themselves 'informed' rather than 'invited' to a party, and turn up or not on the day according to how they feel at the time. Not conducive to menu planning, and around 12:30 I was frantically peeling a mountain of potatoes while wondering if anyone would turn up to eat them - but at least I was prepared - if no-one turned up, it would just be a normal Christmas, but with more roast potatoes! (Actually I was thinking up some rather delicious ways to use the leftovers)

Adam turned up at just after 1pm, carrying a coffee maker! He also had Kahlua, coffee, cream and milk and a gift for us, of rice that he had won in a cycling contest! Rich turned up late, at about 3pm, but since I had to cook the roast potatoes separately from the chicken because they would not all fit together in my oven, the dinner was delayed anyway. By about 3pm the three of us, and the two kids sat down together to a lovely roast chicken dinner. Kanji had been able to get home between 1-2, but then had to go back to work. There were two chickens, I had to get two because they were so damn small! They looked like they had starved to death. Rich called them 'game birds'.

The gravy was a collaborative effort. Rich said his gravy for the roast turkey he had at his Christmas party the week before (which I couldn't go to because I had another party) had failed, so we set him the job of stirring (with the super pan-gravy whisk Mum got me). Me and Adam added stuff, and we ended up with a very delicious wine and black pepper gravy. We only cheated a little bit and added some gravy mix.

We had roast potatoes (Rich, from the US, thought I said 'rice potatoes) and 'kumara' (actually Japanese sweet potato, a slightly different variey which doesn't roast as well), pumpkin, mashed potato, peas, cauliflower with cheese sauce and boiled cabbage. Adam had seconds, Rich had thirds. There was nothing fancy, nothing modern, and we all loved it.

Dessert was pavlova and trifle. Adam, from Australia, was suitably impressed - 'you made it from scratch?' Rich thought it was called Pavlov (after the the researcher who discovered the conditioned response with a bell and a salivating dog. ie, you see the pav and your mouth starts to water. Interesting...). He liked it, and it wasn't half bad! The crust was a little browned, which is something I don't know if I am going to be able to prevent with my gas fan oven. The marshmallow centre was large, I prefer it dryer like Mum's, but Adam thought it was just right. We didn't argue over its provenance - he said he thought they stole it off us. I said it was made first in Australia by a NZ chef for the dancer Pavlova, who Rich hadn't even heard of. I suppose we only know about her because of the dessert. The pav was piled high with kiwifruit, while the trifle had a mound of strawberries. It looked very summery, but snowy as well with all the white.

After dinner Eoin showed up, and later Rich's wife Kuniko, who had been helping out at her parents' cake shop that day delivering 1000 Christmas cakes! She brought one for us. Adam made Kahlua coffees for us, and hot chocolate for the kids, who opened their final presents - Lego sets from Mum and Dad. Rich sat on the sofa watching the Wizard of Oz while the kids climbed all over him, begging to be tickled. Kanji came home and had his dinner. Adam built Harry Potter's Knight bus out of Lego. Kuniko checked out my wedding album. Rich played with Lena's sky dancer. Everyone had a go at Kanji's metal twist puzzle. Eoin talked until 2am, then I had the last of the 'game hen' in a sandwich before calling Chris in London.

The guys fitted in like uncles, and the different configuration for the eveing felt authentic too. The food was great, we stuffed ourselves, and there was hardly any leftovers, just enough roast potatoes and cabbage to have a very delicious fry-up the next day.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas at the Yokomatsus

Always start on Christmas Eve, when we celebrate Kanji's birthday. This works out really well, actually, because Christmas in Japan is a romantic, couple's date night, so it feels special for us. Kanji came home early, and I made his favorite meal - curry rice and sashimi. I bought a bottle of champagne, and we toasted him, and drank champagne while eating a huge platter of mixed sashimi (another advantage of a holiday birthday is the special menus availalbe at the supermarket).

I gave him a bottle of Armani scent. He's never had any before, but I love the way he smells after a bath when he has shaved, and I can smell the shaving lotion, so I thought it would be nice to try it. He seemed really happy with it, and has worn it several times. The first time I knew, even though he had already left, as I could smell it lingering in the air. I do miss perfume, and people smelling lovely. Japanese people don't smell at all - and they prefer to use very lightly scented products, so you can't smell someone come into the room like you can sometimes in NZ.

The kids got him a book. Boy, did I have a hard time choosing that book! It's really hard to know what to get in another language. I have a general idea of what he likes, but I don't know exactly what he's read or not read. My only hint was when we went to a bookstore together in November, and he stood in front of one section for a long time, and when I came back to him, he said he wanted everything! So I went back there and chose one with interviews with several of his favorite TV comedians. I think he likes it - it ended up in pride of place on top of the toilet paper dispenser in the throne room.

We settled the kids down to watch Polar Express while we finished our dinner - but it was so good we ended up abandoning our curry and watching it with them! That one is definitely on the list, and I can see us watching it every Christmas Eve.

After it finished, we got Santa's cookies and milk and left them outside on the upper balcony, where I am sure Santa comes in..

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Christmas begins

We decorated the tree and took out all the Christmas accessories today! Not until I had spent about four hours clearing out the upstairs bedroom so I could clear into it all the junk from the hall and living room! We now have the carpet down, the artificial tree is up, and we are awaiting the real tree, which should come in a week or so. Amy helped me clean off and on, as she was so excited about the whole tree thing.

They were just in heaven when I finally dragged out the box - pulling out toys, and decorations, and books. After the tree was done, and I tidied up the box, I was well ready to call it quits, and do the rest another day, but there was no stopping them, so I talked to Kanji in the kitchen and set them free with the bag of tinsel. They decorated the guitar, as their doll Popo-chan's tree, and the book corner, and trimmed the carpet with it.

Cute things kids do: One of Lena's favorite songs is Kelly Clarkson's 'Torn into Pieces'. She often sings the chorus. Today, as she sang it she was playing with a toy dog from a kinder surprise (the kind you have to piece together) and started to 'tear it into pieces'. I lauged so much!

Cute things kids say: Amy, who thinks far too much for a five-year old, was worried about getting the money to go to NZ, and was telling me I have to work more. Then she changed her mind, because she had a brilliant idea - I should just go to the bank (ATM) everyday and get some money, then I would have lots.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Anniversary Dinner

It was our 6th Wedding Anniversary on the 28th, and since I had a lesson that day, we decided to have our Wedding Anniversay dinner on the 29th.

Kanji brought home the wine - Moet and Chandon champagne, and a red Chianti. AND six pink roses, for six years marriage. I cooked, and after we put the children to bed, we had our dinner, in the kitchen, but with a nice white tablecloth and the roses, it looked very pretty.

First course was minestrone soup with baguettes and cheddar. Yes, Italian soup with French bread and English cheese. The main course was steak, with lotus root chips and a camembert, baby leaf and pine nut salad. Dessert was apple crumble, which we forgot to eat, so that's on the menu for tonight!

During dinner, we tried to remember what we had done for our other five anniversaries. (After the annual debate about the date, which ends when one of us looks at our wedding rings). We could not remember even one! So after dinner we decided to look at the video cassettes, to figure it out. They go back to October 2000, so all five anniversaries should be there, we thought. But not ONE anniversary made it on to tape! One tape was broken, one missing, one year I was in NZ, on the others, the dates cuts from the 27th to early December. Nothing. Looks like this year was the first real celebration!

In 2000 I was in NZ for Becky's wedding
In 2001 the tape is not there
In 2002 the tape is broken
In 2003 the tape ends on Nov 27 and starts in early December
In 2004 the tape jumps from November to December.

sigh, oh well. And this year we didn't tape it either - maybe it will become a tradition. We did take a photo though - but not until after we ate! We decided it will become a mystery for the future to figure out what we ate that night.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Amy's First Art Exhibition

A few weeks ago instead of a normal art lesson, all the kid went to a local festival and drew pictures of things they saw there. Amy's pictures were very quickly drawn and got a bit damp, then when she got home, she drew this rabbit.










































Also starting this weekend, was a more extensive exhibition of the work of all the art school's students. The picture below left is the work of Amy's group, the youngest group, with a few pre-schoolers, but mostly primary school kids. Amy's first picture is a finger/hand painting exercise, and the above picture her portrait of the teacher.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Shichi Go San




Shichi Go San means Seven Five Three in Japanese, and it's the name of a ceremony held for children in a Shinto shrine when they are seven, five and three years old. It's a thanksgiving and blessing, thanking the gods for their life and health so far, and asking for more. On this day, children of the appropriate ages get dressed in their kimonos to visit the shrine.

To the right, Amy and Lena are sitting in the hall of the shrine, while the priest does some rituals. They were very good, especially Amy, who was all over the place when she was three. Lena was a bit more restless - she kept turning around to tell me about the 'magic'. She thought it was a magic show, and she even clapped when it was over!

At the bottom, they are ringing the bells outside the hall, to call the attention of the gods. Actually they were just having fun, but that's what the bells are supposed to be used for!



Directly after the ceremony, the girls now have their presents - a special '1000 years' candy, a twirly thingy (what ARE they called?),a cut-paper shrine object and a few more bits and pieces. November is also chrysanthemum season, the Japanese national flower, so the shrines are full of beautiful, huge blooms as well.

With us, and above in the shrine wearing the black hat, is my Again bar English student Mr Ikenaga, who is a priest at this shrine. I think Amy was a bit dumbfounded to hear him intone all the complicated ancient Japanese prayers, then turn around and speak to her in English!

Kanji couldn't make it due to work - so we hurried back to the gasoline stand so he and Jiichan could see them. By this time Amy was very tired - the sandals hurt her feet, and she found the obi (belt) very tight and uncomfortable.

Traditionally, girls first start to wear a belt at age seven, before that they just tie the kimono with cords, and wear a jacket over it like Lena has on. Shichi-go-san three year old girls and boys, who from this age stop having their hair shaved and start to grow it long; five year old boys, who at this age start to wear hakama (the trousers the priest has on) and seven year old girls start to wear the obi.

Getting ready - I think this was more fun than going to the shrine! They loved getting make-up on! Amy thought the curlers were the funniest thing she'd ever seen. Lena took some convincing to get her to sit in the chair to get her hair done, but once we showed her the pretty decorations she would get in her hair, she was happy. Gettting the kimono on also took time - you have to be careful to get everything in the right place and all nicely balanced, and the right length.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

It turned out so different...


Here I am in the garden with the kids, Lena trying out a new pose, Amy with her usual grin. Drinking a beer in the sunshine on the grass, which was an idea I could not resist, since the weather is unusually perfect today, the ugly summer humidity has gone, and the chill of winter has yet to settle in. Kanji went out for lunch and came home and went outside and played with the kids, so I went to. Then we decided to invite some friends over for a barbecue, only they have to bring the barbecue, cos we don't have one...Kanji is off to buy beer and beef, the essentials, and I am going to cook rice and clean the toilet. We know how to party!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A busy day ahead

Now is the calm before the storm! At 10 I have a one-hour lesson - the kids are here, and I will put them upstairs with the computer and Reader Rabbit, which they have fallen in love with lately. Then as soon as that finishes, I have to take Amy to the doctor to get the gauze pulled out. Then home for lunch with Daddy and we will decide then whether to go to art class. I start work at 3:30 (looks like I will have to skip my swim today, the hour is 1-2 today, which looks impossible). After my lesson, I have to go to Mie's house, where the kids will be. They are having a festival in that area today, but with Amy's ear and my evening lesson from 8:30, I don't think we will stay long. Long enough to get some dinner!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Earrache

Lena bumped Amy's ear yesterday afternoon, and she reacted with great pain, which developed overnight, so I took her to the ENT today. She has a middle ear infection.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

What to do on a Sunday afternoon


We had a project today - figuring out how to turn Amy into a pineapple for Halloween. We even have a pineapple - she made Baachan buy one when they went to the supermarket yesterday, just so we could refer to it. We went to a few kids' clothing stores to look for brown or yellow or green tights and tops to wear underneath, as well as a brown or green or yellow big top that we might be able to use to make the pineapple. We settled on a pair of Winnie the Pooh pyjamas, in 'Winnie the Pooh' yellowy-brown, the perfect shade for a pineapple. And in another store I found some maternity smocks for 10 yen. (Yes, no zeros missing, TEN yen, nobody wanted them. I bought three). I imagine I will either paint it or stick paper to it, sew (get the shop to do it) the hem with elastic and stuff it with newspaper.

We also went to the 100yen shop today, which is always a lifesaver for a boring afternoon. I spent 1000yen. We got: a jester's hat in three colours with bells, a peacock mask, a fairy wand (Lena spent the rest of the day as Cinderella's fairy Godmother), a rubber snake (Amy wanted to find a spider to scare Aunty Jo!), a slinky, a math puzzle, a set of coloured pen, glitter paints, water paints, and a sketch book.

Amy in the picture above is making use of her new water colour palette. She's naked so she won't get paint on her. She first used an easel a few weeks ago in her art class, and it looks like she likes the idea. She made it herself. Last week she took off with a couple of polystyrene trays and a mirror and asked me for selotape. It was right on bedtime so I said no, and that I wanted to throw the trays out. She got quite upset and her Dad felt sorry for her and let her hide the trays by his chair. Next day, she asked for the selotape again, and taped the mirror to one tray and that tray upright to the second tray as a base, to make a standing mirror, which she then put in 'her' room (which she doesn't sleep in yet because we need to re-do the walls first, they are earth walls and they crumble and are not good for her asthma).

So when she started asking me for something to use as an easel, I remembered about this creation of hers. She got 'that' look on her face (WOW) took off without a word upstairs and soon had herself installed in the kitchen painting.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

dum de do

Well, not much going on around here. Autumn is here, so finally I can kiss goodbye to that awful sweating, god I hate it!!! But the seasons change so quickly, I know I only have a few more weeks left to wear my autumn clothes before it gets too cold. Every year I get to the end of September and wonder why it was that I wore winter clothing to the first OIT university lesson, which falls on the first Thursday after the 10th of October - but the way the chill is settling in at night now, I won't be surprised if I'm in long sleeves this time next week.

The girls are playing with the puzzles today. Or rather were - Amy is already back to drawing. She draws mountains of pictures, dozens every day. Usually with a pen, though I am trying to convince her to try a pencil. She declares she hates kindy, and I think at the moment it's the endless practices for the school sports day this Saturday. Lena continues on in her much calmer manner. The puzzle she chose today was a Japanese writing one, and she said she was practicing Japanese for 'my boys' - the six Japanese boys in her kindy class. She is the only girl.

Higashi university classes started today. sigh. They weren't too bad actually, but I attribute that to post-holiday freshness, no doubt I will be despairing about them in a month or two's time.

I am feeling exhausted but virtuous. I swam 1200m in 35 minutes today. I would like to do more, but the time is limited, and I had to get out of the pool.

Kanji is coming home early tonight, so I think I will get the girls bathed and ready for bed, so we don't end up going to sleep too late again. Maybe I'll post some photos later

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Day in Oguni

We drove to the edge of Oita prefecture today to visit a person I know only through email from my Foreign Wives Club. She has two children, age 5 and 2, so we were bound to have a good time. The drive was nearly two hours door to door, or would have been if I could have found the place a little sooner - it's always a bit tricky finding people's houses in Japan as there are no street names and the houses are not numbered in order, nor are the numbers written anywhere that a person could see from the road.

So we arrived at lunchtime, a little later than anticipated because I had to go back when we were just out of Nakatsu to get Amy's medicine! They had been at a school sports day all morning, so they made pizza toast, I added the marmite and cheese, and ham and tomato sauce sandwiches I had prepared.

After lunch, and a chat, and a cup of tea, we went to a nearby sports ground and went for a little walk. Then we visited an old traditional house, then went down to the river, which was the kids's favorite part. We chucked stones into the river. Then we floated bits of wood as boats. Amy really took to that, searching around for families to put on the boat, then I launched it into the river. We lost the family of course. They waded in the muck in their bare feet (the river had recently flooded so it was very silted up and there was a lot of driftwood around)

Then we came back to the house for a blueberry and pear pie. It was lovely, I love fruit pie, and it was bright purple, which worried our hostess but I thought it looked cool. After that, we went to an onsen, of course, which is how you always end your day in Kyushu!

Friday, September 23, 2005

We're going to the zoo, zoo zoo...

Lena went on her first field trip today, which was fun for her, and a major trauma for me. Let some people take my little baby away from me on a bus with no seat-belts to a zoo, with crowds and wild animals? At least I wasn't the only one going silly, some mothers couldn't help themselves and asked the teachers to please be careful and watch out for junior. Much as I wanted to say, 'Bring my baby back in one piece or I'll murder you' all I said was 'So, how many kids do you have each?' The answer was a reassuring two - 'one for each hand'. And I was impressed with the tight organization, right down to the last detail, each kid labelled, even the order they got on the bus was organized!

Amy had the day off kindy as it's a public holiday today. God knows which one, once upon a time I used to find out, but I can't be bothered now. Nothing changes, except I turned up at the PO today to find it shut. So Amy stayed home with me, drew pictures, then turned a cardboard box into a house, then painted it, and made a table out of a box. I gave her 500 yen to make up for not going to the zoo, and she spent it at the 100yen shop - she got a plastic tiara, pink sparkly rabbit ears, some pencils and a sketch pad, and a tree for her fairy house (a collection of Japanese lacquer boxes on the window-sill filled with tiny wooden furniture and shells).

Then while she played at Baachan's while I went to pick up Lena, she developed a fever again, and has now gone to sleep with a sore throat. Relapse. Hope she's okay tomorrow, and HOPE it doesn't bring on another asthma attack

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Ballet Concert

I took Amy and Lena to their first full ballet today. By coincidence, it was Coppelia, my first ballet! (That I can remember, I may have seen the Nutcracker too, but I can't remember much).

It was only a local school's performance, not a professional company, but it was good enough for us. Machiko Takita was in it, but we couldn't tell which one! You never can, they make them up with so much stage make-up it's almost impossible to spot them. I only knew Amy in her ballet performance because of her crooked eyebrows!

I told them the story before we left, but I found out that a local school's ballet performance is just about the perfect thing to take kids to. There's no dialogue that you are interrupting when you explain things to them, they music is so loud you can't be heard anyway, and the audience is full not of serious and committed followers of ballet, but relatives here to watch little Yukiko dancing, so they're not bothered anyway. In fact, the lady next to me took a nap half way through.

Once home the fun continued, with Amy and Lena setting the room up as the ballet. Amy wanted to be the China doll. The two rubber horses and a fluffly dog were the three Spanish dancers, and the two dolls Maria got them for my birthday were the Bolero dolls. Lena got to be Coppelia, sitting in the book corner behind a curtain constructed out of a guitar and a towel. They both sat perfectly still, and I had to be Dr. Coppelius, and wind up China doll/Amy and pull back the curtain to check on Coppelia/Lena. We had to do it over when Daddy got home, then again on Tuesday when her friends came to visit!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Harvest Festival

I was feeling it a bit from the night before, but even though the kids had stayed the night at Baachan's I had to get up! I had promised to pick up Lena before 10 so Baachan could take Amy to kindy. They had an event for grandparents. I took Lena to Jusco to the monthly flea market where I got HUGE brand new kitties for 100yen! Super! And I picked up some clothes for Amy, including black vinyl pants, wicked! And a fork, spoon and chopsticks set for Lena's lunchbox

Then I had to rush back to Baachan's, take Amy to her art lesson, then my own lesson. And straight after that, out to Yabakei in the mountains to Baachan's old house for the annual rice harvest festival. It's held in a shrine on the hill behind the house. The whole neighborhood comes, there are toy and food stalls, and beer. Most people seem to come for the raffles - I won a bag of sugar, Baachan won some noodles, a blanket and a standing lamp, which she gave to us, and we have more use for all three!

For me the main attraction is the wonderful kagura dances. These ancient, traditional dances honour the gods and celebrate the harvest. They wear elaborate costumes, wigs and masks. The first dance is the rice dance, where the dancer carries the rice in flat trays, and he spins around so fast that he can hold the trays vertically and none of the rice falls off.

Then there is the Princess dance, done by a very lithe middle aged lady who can bend backwards so her head almost touches the ground. And the sword dance, which is downright scary, as the dancer twirls the swords around his head and up and down and all around. Lena asked what would happen if he dropped them, something no-one could answer, I could only hope that they were blunted, despite being genuine swords that once belonged to Amy and Lena great-grandfather.

Then there is the oni, or ogre dance. This one is real scary for the kids, because, by tradition, for some long-lost reason, probably luck, the oni takes kids off their parents and whirls them around a few times, usually screaming full volume. Lena had a go last year, and was so scared this year that she did not even want to go up the stairs up to the shrine. We managed to get her up, and she relaxed as the night went on and there were no oni. We left before they came on, I bet they were thinking 'damn' cos there were not that many kids there because of the rain, and Amy and Lena were sitting right on the edge of the shrine.

We ate dinner at Baachan's nephew and niece's house - always the same thing - a huge platter of bought sashimi, and one of nigiri-zushi, home-made chirashi-zushi and/or -zushi, Junko's yogurt and fruit salad, spicy ___, gently boiled mountain fern, and fried chicken.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bye Bye Hannah!

Tonight I went to the Nakatsu Katarukai once more, this time to hear Rich speak. I spoke there a few months ago, I don't know if I even finished that entry...

Anyway Rich spoke about rubbish and footpaths and one other thing I forgot. Then we went to a Keio Academy staff party at a Yaki-niku place I've never been to before. We took Uto with us.

It was for Hannah's farewell party. She stayed just one year. She is from New Zealand, and is going back there for now. The yaki-niku was so-so, I had already eaten so I guess that ruined my apetite! And it was open-air, which is unusual for Nakatsu. I think I would have enjoyed that several years ago, but I am so sick to death of sweat and mosquitos that it just pissed me off.

I drank beer instead, and talked to the kiwis, including new teacher Mike, who is from New Plymouth and his girlfriend Erin. I don't think there'll ever be a whole FOUR kiwis at Keio ever again. Then we went to One or Eight, the bar opposite my favorite bar Tropicoco. I got bored and wanted to go to karaoke but no-one else wanted to, so I went home. But before then I had a great time chatting with Hannah and Jess, who is also leaving soon on one side, then new teacher Kristin and Emma, who is Eoin's ex and a teacher at our rival Nova. Confused? There was also Ruth, another new teacher, and we have one more coming. Phew! Keio is expanding into Kokura, hence the influx of teachers. Long time since there were just the two of us, me and Alex, then me and Jim

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

What did I say?

Wake up in the morning to a wet, but otherwise normal day.

And that's just what we did, except that we were sleeping on the living room floor, and it was dark because of the storm doors. And Amy went out and helped the neighbour's gardenere to sweep the road clean of leaves.

Now I have to clean up again, clear the mound of coats and bags from the hall, get the bedding back upstairs.

The wind died down late evening, picking up again around 10pm. At about 11:30 I was woken by a big noise of something falling, and I still haven't discovered what it was. Kanji didn't wake at all! There was a lot of damage in the south of the island, and the NZ newspapers are full of it, so here it is from me, not a hint of a flood over here, and no wind damage at all. So far - I haven't been out of the house yet!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Typhoon Nabi

We are waiting for it.

I read that it was a category 4, just like Katrina, which is a little nerve-wracking! But hopefully it'll lose power over the cooler water. Meanwhile, we wait, sleeping downstairs behind the storm doors, trying to amuse ourselves during what is becoming one very LOOONG day. We still have power, at least.

We have water, and spare food, and torches and a radio and lots of medicine for Amy. We've got some stuff in the entrance hall waiting in case we have to evacuate, but that's unlikely since we don't live on a hill (landslide risk). But if the water comes up too high, we might have to leave, we figure we'll go to the Youme town carpark! So I've got my emergency kit waiting there, a bag of clothes, a bag of important stuff like passport, money etc.

However, we have every intention of staying right here, freaking out at the wind a bit but otherwise, there's every reason to expect we'll wake up tomorrow to an ordinary, if wet, day. Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

iro iro

Which is Japanese for this and that.

We have a typhoon coming over today, seems small so far, but I stocked up on bottled water yesterday anyway! I am shocked and saddened with what has been going on in New Orleans, as are many non-Japanese people I know, and no-one as scathing about the slack response than the Americans themselves. I think they're a bit shocked. That's not supposed to happen in the US. The whole event seems to have slipped by the Japanese - their news has been full of election coverage. A student I had yesterday was aware damage had been done as her company has a branch in Mississippi, but she had no idea that whole towns there were wiped off the map and New Orleans was flooded up to the rooftops.

I have spent this rainy day indoors working on another proofreading job, this one requiring me to check it against the Japanese, which I am not very good at, to say the least! But I am whipping it into shape and all it needs now is a brief going-over to check for spelling, typos, punctuation and formatting.

Lilipod is now carrying about a GB of songs, about 300, nearly twenty hours of music. When am I going to get time to listen to it all?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Birthday dinner

Today we finally got around to having the postponed birthday dinner.

I cooked it all, which is fine, because cooking is more fun that sitting around by yourself waiting. We started with the Dom Perignon, of course, which was lovely, as usual.

Entree was a stuffed mushroom. I can't get brown field mushrooms here, so I used a large shiitake mushroom. Topped with a fat slice of tomato, some slices of avocado, topped with grated cheese, black pepper and parsely, and served on a round piece of garlic toast. This was SO yummy, you really must try it, and so easy too.

Main was stuffed chicken breast, with potatoes and salad.

The chicken was stuffed with camembert and apricot. I didn't do very well here, the chicken would have been best lightly cooked on the inside first, as it was raw and we had to microwave it. It was also lacking somewhat in flavor, if anyone has any good ideas as to how to flavor this dish, I'm all ear. All I did was butterfly the chicken breasts, put half a canned apricot inside half a round of camembert, then put that in the chicken breast. At the very least it needed salt and pepper.

The salad was mixed leaf with carrot dressing, and just perfect. The potatoes were golden paprika baked. Here's a good tip - boil the potatoes first, then scour them all over with a fork. Then brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for twenty minutes, then brush with butter again. They were just superb!

Dessert was brandy snaps brought from NZ in January, which were a disappointingly soft, despite having a best before date of December 2005. I won't complain about over-zealous Japanese expiry dates again.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I have an iPod! I have an iPod! I have an iPod!

Kanji got me an iPod. A mini iPod, it's pink and I've named it Lilipod. I have managed to figure it out, and it now has one album on it, I christened it with White Stripe. I wondered in Kanji would be able to match last year's gold watch, which I loved, but he did! I must be made of glass or something, cos he seems to have no trouble figuring out just what I want.

Amy insisted on Kanji taking her out to buy me something, and he very kindly took her to the jewellery shop! He said she was like 'this, and this, and this' pointing at things with rather long price tags, but he limited her a very sweet little pair of pink heart earrings with a tiny diamond hanging off them. Amy was just as taken with the pink jewellery box.

Maria sent me a top that, like last year's jacket, has to sit around looking new for a few weeks before it's cool enough to wear! I think it'll make it's debut at Again, as it's a little sparkly, kind of suggesting evening. Oh, and a moro, which will wait until the kids have completely forgotten about it. She was also kind enough to throw in a few BIG extras for Amy and Lena, two matching rag dolls, that they loved. Lena immediately noted that she would be able to cuddle it at night, which is pretty much huggy-Lena's ultimate seal of approval. The girls then put the dolls on the backs and piggy-backed them down the stairs. They (the dolls, that is) are now riding the inflatable horses.

And right now we are listening to 'Schnappi' for the millionth time. I'll be fluent in German before the day is out. It's on a CD Jo got for us, and I have been trying all day to listen to her recommended Bodyrockers track from the beginning to the end without it being interrupted by 'Schnappi' but I might have to wait until they go to bed! I don't think Schnappi is going to make it onto Lilipod.

And from Mum I got some beautiful knickers, which will make a welcome contrast from my warehouse pack-of-ten cottons. And she got the kids some Ladybird fairytale books, with the beautiful illustrations just like the ones we had when we were kids. I still have two, The Princess and the Pea, and The Magic Porridge Pot. Now we can add Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Later - Finally got the Bodyrockers on, and Amy promptly made up a dance for it. Will tape that in a few days after she's refined it.

All in all they day wasn't too bad, despite a real low mid-afternoon when Lena came down with fever again, 39.3. I was just finishing off the fish and chips I fried up for a picnic lunch when she started complaining about sore eyes. I thought she must have something in her eye, but by the time I got to her she had curled up on the sofa and was insisting on sleeping, and we could feel how hot she was. So I packed up the fish and chips, in newspaper of course, and sent Kanji and Amy off to play, while I lay down with Lena for a nap. I think I've still got a touch of this cold too. Still headachey.

After Kanji and Amy came home, we decided to put off the birthday dinner until Tuesday, and just order pizza and eat cake. Kanji, Amy and I had cake while Lena declared herself too sick to eat it. Around six, Kanji went out to pick up some fresh fish from a friend who went fishing today, and he gutted it while I went and got some DVDs. By the time I got back, Lena was up and raring to go, and the two of them put on some dance routines for us before going to bed, where Lena promptly relapsed and shot up to 39.2 again. She has just got to sleep, and it's already 9:30 - where did the day go?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

sick and prep

Me and Lena's turn today. Lena has a fever, and I am a bit tired and headachey. It's a pretty mil cold though, nothing to worry about I think, only Amy's cough at bedtime was a bit rough, and had be worrying about a relapse with asthma. We are only having the flixotide when needed this month, so I think I will give her some over the next few days to stop her coming down.

We finally went to see the Takitas today, after about two months. Turns out they were remodelling their kitchen, which is why they couldn't see us. What a lively house, with the four kids, six months old baby scuttling about in his walker, mother gently admonishing "I know that looks interesting, but you can't have it". Lena realizing he needs his mouth wiped, rushed to get a tissue to wipe it, but GAVE the tissue to him, which he promptly ate. Three-year old Rikako played with Amy and Lena in the bedroom, while the older two Machiko and Yuto enjoyed learning how to play Guess Who. We also played bingo, read some books, and practiced some words from charts.

Finally I had a mammoth shopping session to do, to prepare for tomorrow's menu...

Friday, August 26, 2005

No kindy again

Amy refused to go again. I think it hinges around the nap - one to two hours of doing absolutely nothing can't be much fun. But now she is telling me she is not enjoying the morning sessions either, she says all she does is walk around the room looking for something to do. Hmm, what to do...I might change to the three-sessions-a-week system, which costs less than half of what I am paying now, but since she misses so much, and I so often bring her home early. It means I will have to take her to the park more often, but that can't hurt me. And I will have to do more English study with her to give her something to do, again, a good thing.

It's really hard to balance the fact that I don't think she should be forced into anything, even school, with the suspicion that she is giving up too soon, and needs to learn persistence and patience and that you sometimes have to do things you don't like.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Oh god! back to work

The summer break is finally over and I had to get up out of bed this morning and - ugh - go to work. Barbecue and party class the night before certainly doesn't help!

I got into my class and honestly, my mind drew a blank. I had a vague idea somewhere that we were supposed to be doing a test today, so I looked for it, starting to break into a sweat, but could not find it. I went to see the other teacher, who said we had not been given the test by our rather inept English classes manager, Tummy-chan (long story), so I went back and gave the confused students some written work to do while I gathered my thoughts and got myself back into the groove. I was a bit more together for the second class.

I watched The Sweetest Thing today, which has to be one of the dumbest movies I've even seen, in fact I wondered why I was persisting in watching it to the end, stubborness I suppose, although it did improve slightly towards the end, in contrast to most comedies, which go down the hill towards the end. Only it had a dreadfully lame ending, but with the most interesting credits.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Barbecue

Amy got over her little cold overnight and was her usual self by lunchtime so we were okay for the annual baseball barbecue. Kanji plays in a social team, always on Wednesday, organized by a friend of his whose restaurant is only closed on Wednesday. The barbecue was on the little island in the river, in a kind of barbecue restaurant, with a permanent barbecue area outside.

No gas barbecues here - Japanese still barbecue over open flames on a grill. We sat around on planks set on bricks, and ate excellent beef followed by superb seafood - fugu (puffer fish) huge prawns, clams, squid, whole fish, and vegetables like pumpkin, capsicums and cabbage. And bucketloads of beer, of course!

We rode our bikes over, one kid each. Both of them got wet playing in the ice bucket, which made me worried on the way home - the summer heat has gone out of the night air, and the poor buggers were like human air conditioners on the way home - wet + air = very cold. I threw all three of them in the shower and took of to my usual Wednesday night party class.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Check this out!

http://www.zippyvideos.com/162356247488965.html

Promise you'll giggle until you cry!

These are Lena's favorite toys. They are from a Japanese cartoon, the centre one is called Hamtaro, 'Ham' (pronounced 'hum') is short for hamster, 'taro' is a common (in the past) Japanese name, so it's like Hamster John. I don't know the names of the other two. They were a McDonalds toy, which goes to show you can never predict what a kid is going to take a liking to! They were part of a set with fairground equipment, two of them came with a carousel, and the other with something I don't remember, only they are all now in McDonald's toy heaven, ie, the trash.

She first took a liking to them about a year ago, and started carrying them around, calling them her girls. She took them in the car, took them to bed, put them on the table to eat. We misplaced them for ages, until I found them again, predictably in a 'safe' place! Now they are again top dogs of the toy box, I have to hunt high and low if they go missing, and Lena sleeps with the green one in one hand, and other two in the other hand, and she prepares meals for them from the kitchen set, especially 'juice' (a plastic piece of fruit in a cup).

Meanwhile, Amy went to the hospital again yesterday for an asthma check-up, and the doctor gave us a prescription for another flixotide/furutaido inhaler, which we are to use as needed. Which will be today, since Amy caught something at the hospital, probably from the doctor himself, who had on a mask. So she is resting on the couch watching Shrek.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Miss Really and Miss Actually

Or should I say, Miss Weally and Miss Akshilly. These are, respectively, Lena and Amy's favorite words. They pop up in their sentences all over place, appropriate or not, particularly not in Lena's case, eg: "I want some weally milk".

Is it my fault? Do I use these words a lot? Or can I blame kindy...

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Birthday dinner?

Kanji confessed tonight that he was going to have to give up on the nice idea he had to cook me a birthday dinner - he just could not think of what to cook! He tried to get some lamb, but there was none at the butcher. He didn't realize you have to order it especially here. So he brought me home two bottles of wine. He knows what really makes me happy, ha ha. One, a bottle of Dom Perignon, which has become a birthday tradition, and one I am not complaining about. The other, NZ sauvignon blanc. Plus I still have the one Maria sent me left over from her big birthday bash. So I am well set-up for drinkies, now all I have to do is think up a menu.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pineapple costume

I'm getting a bit of a headache surfing the net trying to find a pineapple costume for Amy. It's for Halloween but I had a feeling I'd better start sooner rather than later, and I think I'm right. If ANYONE knows where I can get, or how I can make a pinepapple costume, or has any cool ideas, let me know!

It's Obon today, the festival of the dead, when the spirits of the ancestors come back home for a visit. I guess that means the cemetery next door will be mighty busy tonight, either with family members, or, if the family have forgotten, the ghosts themselves!

We will go tonight to Toyoko's house, where the butsudan is (the Buddhist family altar) and do 'omairi', kind of like a prayer/greeting, and then eat pizza and go home, probably to continue the great pineapple search.

Friday, August 12, 2005

No computer!

Kanji borrowed the computer today and had it all morning, and I had a ton of things to do! Never mind, I made a good start on the kitchen, pulled out half a dozen or so things to sell on trademe sometime. Amy went to kindy again, and Lena is bored out of her tree, she still doesn't know how to play by herself. She just lolls on the sofa. She was only happy wehn she was messing around on the Barbie site. Like mother like daughter?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back

We are back from a great trip to the beach in Miyazaki prefecture, a few hours drive down the coast. I am sunburnt, and very tired and sore from pretending to be a dolphin for Lena and Amy.

I made an effort to create another blog here at blogspot, but found I had the same input problem. I will see what else there in out there, but for now, I need to catch up!

Today I will be preparing the kids' English lesson, clown theme again, and visiting the post office to send off some things. All I want to do is sleep, but there is Obon dancing tonight, so we have to go out again!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Sumie Beach Miyazaki Day One




What a wonderful two days in Miyazaki! We all always enjoy the beach so much! Home again, tired, headachey with dehydration and lack of sleep, with shoulders aching with sunburn, I wonder how I ever managed to survive for a whole two weeks or more when I was a kid! I guess you take it slower when you have more time. But I wonder if I would ever be able to get Amy out of the water, even if we were there for a month, she loves it so much!

The beach is calle Sumie (same as Kanji's mother), and is about a three-hour drive away. We took a van/mini-bus eleven-seater. Us four, Kanji's friend Takuya, his wife Maki and two daughters Karin and Momoka, who are the same age as Amy and Lena, and his brother and sister Osamu and Yukko. Plus Kana, their father's friend's daughter. We listened to anime songs the whole way, which was a bit of a heachache. Karin and Momoka don't use either child seats or seatbelts, which was a bit hard for Amy and Lena towards the end of the drive, when they started to complain and wanted to get out and play on the floor of the van. But mostly they coped.

We arrived far too early for check-in, and went first to a beachside park where we ate lunch, which we had bought previously, in the foyer of an air-conditioned building in the park. There was a big playground and a cable-car up to the top of a high hill that had a superb view of the bay and beach. We came down again via a huge slide and bobsled. I was a bit concerned about going too fast, especially with Amy between my knees, but the brakes were very efficient!

We decided we needed to swim, even if the cabin was not yet ready, so we parked and went to a smaller beach to one side of the main beach. The day was stinking hot and the water temperature just perfect. We stayed in for an hour without even being aware of it, before forcing ourselves out to go put on more sunscreeen. The kids only stopped long enough to have it rubbed in before they went off to build sandcastles, then we all jumped back in the ocean again. Me and Amy had goggles, which was great fun because the water was quite clear, as long as no-one kicked up the sand.

We finally had to pull ourselves out of the water, checked in, and showered and changed for dinner. We had a barbecue, of course, all prepared earlier by Maki and Yukko so we didn't have to do anything except drink beer and wine and wait for someone to figure out an efficient way to get the barbecue going, since none of us could do it! Very smoky, certainly no embers. We were peering at our neighbors' barbecues, but got no surefire tips from spying alone. At one satge they were taking the coals to the gas cooker inside to heat them up! At least we resisted the tempation to pour petrol on it. We finally got it cooking and at steak and kebabs, and scallops with butter and shrimps and veges.

It took ages to get the hyper-stimulated kids to sleep, and after that we sat down for another drink but I was so exhausted I could not believe it was only 10pm! We went to bed not long after, leaving Amy and Lena who were sound asleep in Karin and Momoka's beds!






Sunday, July 31, 2005

Okay, this is it, last one, I am so sick of this input problme! I can't type a thing! Good bye

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Time gets away on me again

And the kids hogged the computer all morning watching Harry Potter and Barbie and the Nutcracker. Not to mention this stupid blogsite is still giving me input problems, I have to go find another one I think, or maybe delete some of the earlier posts. And Harry keeping me busy, I have finally got up to the Half-Blood Prince, although I am trying to take my time to extend the pleasure!

Anyway, I made a start on the BIG clean-up - totally reorganizing my living room, including bookshelves, toys and computer area. It's not easy with Amy and Lena making their usual chaos around me, but Amy is quite excited because she knows she will finally be getting a 'new' box of toys (ie, one of the stored boxes of un-used toys from upstairs.) I told her I want to get them all down here and start chucking out the ones we don't use.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Another one of those days...

...when you seem to move on from one thing to the next with very little time to think in between. I like the busy-ness, but sometimes it can feel a bit panicky when you have a deadline - today at 5pm I was supposed to have my final assessment of the final proofreading of the final version of the AFWJ Board Meeting minutes (yes, that is still going on!). I had to fit that in between lunch, picking up Amy, laundry, picking up Lena, taking Amy to the hospital, cleaning up for the lesson this afternoon, and preparing for that. In the end, I did it very quickly and needn't have worried. In the morning I dropped the kids off at their respective kindies, did the shopping and went for a swim. Tonight I have to prepare the recycling for tomorrow, and hopefully get some kitties boxed up to send to Maria.

At the hospital, we decided to keep Amy on the flixotide for another month, since she was first admitted after a beach holiday last year at the height of summer. But down to one puff a day.

PS I am getting that stupid delay thing again on this blog server, so I might be looking for a new one again soon.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Weird Dream

I had a REALLY strange dream. One of those ones where you can't wake up. I can't remember what I was actually dreaming about at first, but I had heard Kanji come in just before I dropped off to sleep, and for some reason I decided to go down to him. The first time, "I" got to the door before I realised I was actually still asleep. Then I managed to get my head off the pillow for just a brief second, it was really heavy, before I sunk back into the pilow. Then I got up and got half way down the stairs, before the stairs started to sink beneath me and my foot couldn't find a place to land. I thought I was dreaming, but on the stairs, and called out to Kanji, as I could hear the TV and knew he was in there watching it, but my voice wouldn't come out. I realized I was dreaming again!

I woke again in my bed and this time I only went half way across the room before realizing I was STILL asleep (and getting desperate to see Kanji now!). It was rather frustrating, and I AGAIN found myself on my pillow, head too heavy to lift. I was vaguely aware that the blanket was in the same place - twisted up around my leg, as it had been when I fell asleep - I was thinking that I should shift it but I must have fallen asleep before I had done so. Then someone pulled the blanket up over my head and I felt a boney creepy hand pulling on mine. I din't panic about the blanket, but I started to try to pull my hand away from the creepy hand and then I realized that I was dreaming again, and what if in real life I was actually yanking and jerking poor little Lena's hand around! At last, something imperative enough to wake me!

I woke for real, finally, with the blanket still twisted round my leg, lying on my side, with the lower arm across my body and tucked under my upper arm - hence the feeling of it being clutched by something - the something was me! Lena was miles away and upside down, so there was no chance I had been shaking her. Of course, the first thing I did was go downstairs to see Kanji, and I waited there with him until he went to bed!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Karaoke

I took Amy and Lena to karaoke for the first time today.

Kanji spoke one sentence to Lena in English, and she protested and said he has to speak in Japanese, that if he spoke in English he would forget Japanese! (Guess what I had told them earlier when they started dot speak Japanese together?)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter Day

For those who are as yet unaware, today is the day the new Harry Potter novel is released. Number six, Harry Potter and the Hlaf-Blood Prince turned up on my doorstep today at about 1:30pm, which is pretty fabulous timing considering how far I am from Tokyo! I read one chapter, and decided I couldn't remember much about the world of magic, even though I read the chapter synopses of the fifth book on this website: www.hp-lexicon.org/index-2.html

So, I decided to start re-reading The Order of the Phoenix, but when I started reading that, I still felt like I had no idea waht was going on, so I have started to read The Goblet of Fire. Now I have about 2000 pages to get through! Never mind, I decided I would be disappointed at the end of Half-Blood Prince that there was no more to read, like I was two years ago when I read Order of the Phoenix. This way, I'll be satisfied that there's more, twice!

Also today, the guys came to do our garden. Some people Jiichan hired after he saw my garden one day. About four of them came, and they cleaned it up so fast!!! Oddly, the did not shift the trampoline to clear the grass under it, nor did they empty the two containers of grass that Kanji had cleared, which had then been filled with rain. So I have decided to get up tomorrow and do that, and then, apart form the vicious mosquitos, the heat, the sandy bits under the swing and other places where the kids have decided to build impromptu sandpits, and the bit outside the kitchen, where the grass was killed by the weeds, the garden will be perfect!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Amy's first song

I bought the \500 guitar at a flea market last year, and she's finally taken the bait, and picked it up long enough to write a tune, put some words to it, and remember it! It consists of seven notes, of which the first four are the same. And the words are, "When I love, I am cold" Of course, I will videotape her!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A picturesque view of the rice paddies...

I remembered an Amyism, fairtly recent:

We were driving back from somewhere, past some summer rice paddies flowing with waving bright green rice plants, and Amy, looking out the window, sawa a beautiful white crane, Japan's elegant national bird, standing in one field.

"What's that bird, Mum, the power-shovel one?"

Power-shovel being Japanese for a digger, and a common construction vehicle, along with the CRANE

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

New Bedtime Routine

Well, only slightly different. I still go up and lay down with them, and read them their choice of books. And we still somtimes tell stories, although we have been doing that less since I started the night classes and have to get them to sleep on time. But on the other hand, I've been more and more likely to say goodnight before they go to sleep, and the little darlings have been very cooperative with me!

Lena had no trouble, she just shifted herself onto my pillow and went straight to sleep. Amy had a harder time, she takes everything so hard! But a BIG cuddle, lots of kisses and butterfly kisses, and promises that I would be back and she agreed to stay, after I promised to be back in five minutes. Five minutes later, another cuddle, more promises. The first time, it took frou cuddles, then three, then two, and now I solemnly promise to be back in five - and I come back and find them asleep!

There was no crying involved, and now I am even more convinced that the comon idea that you should get your baby to sleep by itself because it's easier now than it is later is completely wrong, and it's MUCH easier when they are older and have enough language and sense to understand what is going on and how to express how they feel about it too.

I'm also sad, because I really liked that time of theday - sometimes it annoyed me when they tossed and turned and chatted and sang, but I really liked the quiet time, and time to just be with them, and then peacefully read my book while I was still not too tired - when I read before I go to bed, the page soon starts swirling and my eyelids droop. And I loved that moment when they are suddenly so still and quiet, and you know they are asleep, and you look at their sweet angelic faces for WAY longer than you need to...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005



Today I let the kids take the camera. These are shots from my phone camera, which they can operate now. I remember how totally off-limits the camera was when I was a kid - developing cost a lot in those days, especially the film for the fancy FX-70 Polariod camera we had. I was not allowed to take photos until I had my own camera, which I got for my 13th birthday, a simple 35mm no-flash fold-out instamatic camera.

But now the story is different, and we do not have to pay for kids` stupid mistakes, so we are free to let them experiment. And you get gorgeous, natural shots like these - well, I mean Amy's shot of Lena, Amy herself if a bit posey, and as you can see, has learned how to do the peace sign thing that all Japanese people, especially young girls, do in photos.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Elfin

I went out to lunch today to a lovely little restaurant in Yukuhashi called Elfin. I went with the mums who come on Tuesday, and Jess from work. It was a long way, an hour in total getting there, but it was worth it, it was delicious and very reasonably priced! Set lunch menus often are in Japan. For 1500 (about $20) we got a Japanese appetizer tray:

Appetizers Posted by Picasa
This is five tiny servings of very delicious food. Thinly sliced rolled pork with a sesame sauce and a savory jelly, topped with finely sliced pickled carrot and onion (on the white dish). Two slices of shrimp with roe on top and sour plum sauce (top dish). Crab with cheesy white sauce on a slice of taro and topped with two miniscule shreds of cucumber and a slice of olive (dish on the left). A fish dish (second from left). And I can't remember what was in the round blue dish!

Next came the soup, I chose cream of vegetable, the other choice was 'Chinese bouillon' whatever that is. Then came the pasta course, we all chose the tomato seafood pasta. It was just a small serve of pasta, with a piece of squid, one shrimp and two clams. Next came the salad, mixed leaf with bacon bits and dressing. Then the main - I had snapper with a citrus sauce. Finally the dessert came, which was just lovely - sponge and cheese cake, TINY servings, along with rum and raisin ice cream and coffee to finish off.

Dessert Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A movie day

Well, I tried to pick Amy up from her kindy camp on time. I woke up in time, got dressed and was only a few minutes late out the door - when I meet Kanji coming up the drive with Amy in the car. Turns out my clock was wrong!

So I took her and we went and got Lena, and then the two of them decided they didn't want to come home with me, and they stayed there. I came home, and watched the movies I rented last weekend but never got a chance to watch. First I watched The Day After Tomorrow, and while I decided to buy into the crazy science just for the sake of smoothly watching the movie without arguing at the screen too much, I still found myself laughing out loud at the quick-freeze speading ice that chased people and the ill-conceived CG wolves (whoever did them did not watch enough wildlife documentaries).

Next up was Girl, Interrupted. Nice loony movie.

Then I went and got the kids, and the dinner, and a whole heap more DVDs. And watched yet another movie that night with Kanji - The Time Machine. Makes me wish I had held off selling the book on trademe, cos right now I would really like to read it again!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Night Out

Adam and Hannah, teachers at Keio Academy, had never been to a hostess snack before, so on Thursday I offered to take them out to one tonight. Amy is staying the night at her kindy for a 'camp', and Lena is staying with Baachan. She didn't really want to, without Amy there, but I bribed her with ice cream and her chuppa, which she gave up a week or so ago, but I let her have it back just for tonight!

A snack is a varitey of Japanese bar, they usually serve whisky or shotchu (an alcoholic Japanese drink, about 25%) along with snack foods, but nicer than your proverbial nuts and chips. Things like dried squid, soy beans, tofu, chocolates, salty snacks and crackers, anything to make you drink more! Along with the food and drink you get conversation, if you could call it that, from hostesses, who are slightly more glorified waitress/barmaids, part of whose job description is to talk to you, flatter you, pour your drinks, ensure your glass is never empty, ply you with snacks, get you to buy them drinks, and clap along as you sing badly at karaoke.

Adam had heard about them but never been, so I took him along to one Kanji goes to sometimes with his friends, the one where his best friend met his wife. Adam was pleasantly surprised, finding it a bit more classy than he thought. His mental image was that were a little more seedy. He was surprised to find that normal, respectable people go to these places. We had chuuhais, shotchu with soda and lime, which is a really nice drink I am starting to drink instead of beer, which I am getting heartily sick of (except for that first cold one on a hot day, you can't beat that).

After the snack we went to Tropicoco, because Mamoru, Chiharu's boyfriend was DJing for the last time as he is being transferred (Self-defense force). I danced before I even sat down, I walked straight in to several of my favorite songs. Well, my 'favorite' for that five minutes at least. Adam went to play darts with Rich at One or Eight, the next-door bar, but the other Rachel was there, and Chiharu of course. I talked to the other Mexican guy about Spanish and Flamenco lessons. And gave the newly-wed Mark from England our phone number, he only lives two blocks away and they're having a baby.

Kanji convinced me to go home at 3am - I was quite ready to go off to a karaoke box with everyone! But my head the next morning was exceedingly grateful that I went home when I did!

Friday, July 08, 2005

London bombs

We got an email from Chris this morning, and the chilling news that he was on a train at the time! He says he's going to blog it soon so here's the link: http://www.cdgreenwood.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/Myblog.htm

Meanwhile, we played cricket again at OIT, which went well, again with the students getting the idea at the end and us not needing to tell them what to do. Again, that baseball instinct to step back when the ball comes too close, which got quite a few bowled out today. Two of my students provided most of the laughs. One could not seem to stay off the ground, everytime he caught a ball, or threw one, he somehow ended up sprawled on the ground. Another one expressed a kind of passive resistance by constantly playing for the opposing team. He even nearly caught himself out!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Unisys job

I heard about London first from Peter, who appeared on Messenger while I was bathing the girls. I felt my stomach churn, but felt reassured at first by the mild reports, and Peter's assessment that Chris and Deb would have already been at work. I didn't really think they would be anything other than okay, but you can't help worry. Especially as I watched CNN and the numbers kept rising, up to five trains and three buses just before Maria let me know Chris had texted Mum.

I completed the proofreading on Unisys's annual report today. I quite enjoy this job, it's like doing a crossword puzzle and getting paid for it. I even roped Maria in to helping me out (I stuck with 'prove' in the end, but the way, Maria) while we passed messages about London and trademe. ("Did you see the kitty auctions?" "The phone lines are down in London, that's why Chris hasn't called" "How can I say 'Now is the time'?")

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Rich and Jess come to Again

Rich has agreed to do a speech in Japanese in September for the same group that I did my speech for. So, just so he would know who he was working with, and what to say, he came to Again tonight, and so did Jess.

We had a great time, chattered away, mostly to Jess as Rich talked about his speech with Wada. We talked about everything, including work, and Rich would tell us off when we talked about work, but you can't help it!

It was also Uto's last night, as he has been transferred again, to Fukushima, so I talked a lot to him as well. We heard Nagano speak more English in one night than he has for a year. Jess got a lot of attention, and I don't know if she just found it as funny as she seemed to or if they made her feel uncomfortable, so we gave her the hammer, the plastic squeaky hammer Wakachan keeps to bonk rude people on the head!

Jess and Rich got roped into pulling the Gion kuruma this year. Unfortunately I am going to Fukuoka that day, so I won't be there to see it.

I got quite pickled, for some reason I drank faster that usual, or ate less, but mostly it was because we stayed later. Stumbled home sometime around 1am.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

bits and bobs

Another mother's gem: "Lena, I can't come and untangle you from the chair because I'm pulling skin off Amy's toe"

Later, at lunch, this time Amy: "Mum, is it real? It doesn't feel real." She had just been blowing on a piece of bread to unfrezze it, and was obviously feeling a bit dizzy.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Art Class for Amy?

Mrs Fukuda suggested an art class for Amy today. She had seen her pictures in the shop and was quite impressed. Her other hobby is art. The art class she suggested in on a Saturday afternoon, 1-4 she said, which seems long, but then Amy loves drawing! I drilled her a bit about it, because I remember hearing once about a school art club in Japan which turned out to be just copying cartoons. I don't like the way all the kids I teach draw exactly the same, it's almost like learning another kanji, no creativity at all.

She said it was working with different media, which another arty friend had told me was important. And that they didn't just copy! Mrs F. will drop off a brochure sometime this week so I can check it out. Maybe we can do this instead of ballet.

Speaking of things Amy loves, here she is at swimming. Lena took this photo, Amy is on the other side of a glass window in front of the viewing area. Next one is one I took of Lena on my side of the glass

Amy Posted by Picasa

Lena Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

phew, finished!

I mean the AFWJ board meeting notes. It feels very good to have all my deadlines cleared. I was given a special extension, and allowed to hand them in on the 3rd instead of the 1st. That was a relief, because the deadline for the proofreading turned out to be Friday, and then on Saturday morning I had to quickly re-label the kitty auction because I had not provided Maria with any prices, and she put them up on Saturday morning, so I had to fix them up a bit. That was in addition to three lessons!

Anyway, I got it done, while the kids were played at Baachan's. I listened to the tape recording of the meeting, but it was very unclear and I had no idea who was talking. I cannot believe that some previous secretaries used the tapes as their notes. I suppose someone thought it was a grand idea, to tape the meeting so they didn't have to struggle to keep notes at the meeting, but I found it much easier having all the notes there, that I had kept on my computer.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Lena sick!

Mayumi came again today, and right at the end of the lesson, Lena, who had been complaining of a tummy ache all morning, was sick all over the floor! Poor thing, and poor me, who had to clean it up. The oddest thing was that the student didn't leave. The lesson had just ended, I had just gone into the kitchen to make tea, when it happened. I am pretty sure I would have left and declined the tea, after waiting to be sure the kid was okay. And left the mother to settle her child and clean up the awful mess without having to rush the job to get the tea ready. Maybe she stayed because it might have looked like she was abandoning a sinking ship? Who knows.

Friday, July 01, 2005

New job

The year is half over, and I have a new job. I am doing proofreading. Reading through business documents either written by Japanese or translated by Japanese into English, which need to be edited a little as well as having errors corrected. Sometimes they use strange turns of phrase, or a word that, although correct, does not suit the context. I've been interested in this kind of job for some time, so I jumped at the chance when the opportunity presented itself (on an email group).

Today's document is from a butter manufacurer. Changes include things like changing 'milk cows' to 'dairy cows'. It took me several hours, for only 3000yen, but I should get quicker as I get more experience, and hopefully I can get 2-3 documents a week and make it a night job. Might as well use that time after dinner profitably.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Cricket

Today at OIT, we taught the kids how to play cricket. Japanese know baseball, but most of them have never heard of cricket. When you demonstrate how the bat is held, they think you are talking about croquet, which is called gateball in Japan, and is played on dirt patches by old people. Japan's bowls.

So we thought a little bit of education was called for. We were lucky to have a cricket bat - left here by a previous teacher, I don't know who. We used tennis balls, of course, I would not have played if we were using real balls! For the wicket, we taped empty canned coffee cans together. We played indoors, in the gym (which was a bit rough on the poor bat, which they had to leave at the one wicket, although most of the students placed it on the floor rather gently before running!).

There are three classes held at one time, by three different teachers. Australian Adam, chief cricket expert, coach, and umpire. Californian Jess, who was, of course, completely ignorant and quite bemused to learn about crotch-rubbing bowlers, silly mid-ons and matches that last five days. And me, who hates playing cricket, would never sit down to actually watch a game, but who has managed to absorb enough of the game by osmosis to at least act like I knew what I was doing.

We have 6-8 students each, so put together, we had enough for two teams. We started out with a cricket lecture at the whiteboard, rough diagrams all over the place, the essential vocab - 'runs', 'wicket', 'crease'...and twenty-odd dumbfounded faces. It was easiest to do a demo, and then just start playing.

We managed to convince them to say 'bowler' and 'wicket keeper' instead of 'pitcher' and 'catcher'. It was harder to convince them to protect the wicket, they kept jumping back to let the ball pass, like in baseball! The amount of times I had to go and tell them to put the bat down!

The good thing was thouhg, that they really got it, and by the end of the 90 minute lesson they were starting to play with a little bit of strategy, realizing they could choose to run, figuring out how to get people out, even yelling something that almost sounded like 'howzat!' when they got someone out.

Highlights inlcuded one boy doing a pastiche of baseball sliding and actually sitting on the floor and delicately touching his toes to the crease. And another boy slam-dunking the wicket - and missing! Another boy apologizing for hitting Adam with the tennis ball. Adam hiting Jess on the head with a soccer ball was pretty funny too. A bowler rolling the ball along the ground - and bowling the batter out!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It's getting HOT!!!!

Air-con time is here. In previous years I have tried to at least wait out June, but I can't be bothered this year. It's not the heat so much as the sweating that drives me nuts. Always dabbing my face, glasses slipping off, I can't stand wearing jeans, although I do when I go out of the house, as I don't think my sarong or cotton skirts are very flattering. But I strip off when we are at home!

Meanwhile I have been wondering what to do about Amy's medicine on her kindy camp next month. Remember how angry I got when the teacher refused to take the ventolin and spacer? She said I had to have doctor's permission. Even though I said it was from a doctor in NZ, and my usual pediatrican here had okayed it too, she still wormed her way out of it by saying the doc we were seeing at the hospital hadn't said anything. I tried to explain it wasn't a daily dose med, but seomthing to have on hand if she starts getting uncomfortable. And she countered that if it was that bad, I would know in the morning and not take her to kindy. Well, it's not that simple...

Anyway, now that the hospital doc has okayed the flixotide, I can technically force them to use it, no matter how uncomfortable they may feel using some strange foreign muck. (that was her main problem before, I think - she had never seen or used it before). I don't have to - Amy can easily have the flixotide after she comes home. But part of me would really like to go 'Here, see? I was right!'

Monday, June 27, 2005

Pushkar

I went to Dipti's today and she gave me the shalwar kameez she got for me from Calcutta. It's a salmon pink and white, with one design on the top and another on the pants and scarf. It's made of cotton, and is very comfortable and cool. It will cost me 12,000! A little more than I thought, but it's good cotton, and well-made.

Then I went to the Kakize Stand to show Kanji, and the kids decided they were going to stay the night, and Baachan said yes, so all of a sudden Kanji and I had a date! So we decided to go Pushkar, the Indian restaurant, just to round out the Indian theme. No, I did not wear the shalwar kameez! We finished the night, where else, Tropicoco, the mexican bar.

By the way, I have not been writing so much because I am having input problems. I am going to go find another Blog, because this one is really annoying me!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Cancellations!

Once more I had a busy day that became not so busy, thanks to a couple of cancellations. First Shoko called in the morning to say that Yuto is sick, so we won't be going to Takitas again today. Maybe mext week. Then Naoyo called to say that she is also feelig unwell, and would be cancelling too. So I ended up with a rather free day, but I didn't fill it with anything useful. Unless you count looking at the house at 11pm and deciding that something really needed to be done - maybe tomorrow...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Mummy's little Helper

Amy came with me again to my lesson at Keio. It's a kids' class, age about eight or nine. Last time she stayed downstairs, but I let her come up with me today, because it's the last lesson I am doing - and that is for certain, unless they pay me triple I will not do that lesson. I like the class, and the kids, and it's a nice lesson, but I left the house at 4pm and did not get home til 6.30. The class is from 5-5:50. The rest is picking up Amy, dropping them off at Baachan's or Daddy's shop, getting there, preparing for the lesson, setting up the room; then after, picking the kids up and getting home. We end up getting into bed late, and the whole evening is put out of whack. It really isn't worth it.

Anyway, the target for the lesson was 'Can you eat it?' 'Can you drink it?' I made Amy the shopkeeper, gave the kids plastic bead money, and they had to go shopping using 'I want a ...' and say 'Here you are' and 'thank you' and 'you're welcome'. After all the kids had their pile of plastic food, we practiced washing, cutting and eating thef ood. Finally they practiced in groups 'Can you eat it?' with piles of cards of food interspersed with fun stuff like spiders, bags, erasers.

Amy was quite a confident teacher, even though the kids were older than her. She invented a game, where she washed something in her hand and they had to guess what it was. I had to stop her when she went on to do it with cards, as it would take too long! And she was rather bossy about telling them all to open their books when we did some book work. She's a natural. We had a good time.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Ballet

Well all I have to report is that I extracted a promise from Amy that she would give ballet another try after the concert, when they are not doing concert practice all the time. I think it's a good idea - have a rest, then see if she gets re-inspired by the concert.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Today I...

7am Wake up. Dab a small plastic circle on Amy's bum for a worm check prior to swimming at kindy. At least I know all the other kids will be worn-free...Select kids' clothes.

7-8 Make breakfast - corn flakes with stewed apple made with cloves, and yogurt in a separate bowl. Mum has raw organic meusli with apples and hot water. Put rice on to cook. Make Lena's lunch: yesterday's crumbed chicken, a wedge of processed cheese, three cherry tomatoes, a few sprigs of broccoli, a tiny plastic contaiter of tomato sauce and mayonnaise. Make much needed pot of fresh brewed Darjeeling leaf tea. Tell kids to get dressed. Put on a load of laundry.

8-8:40 Tell kids to brush teeth. Put their hair in pigtails. Get dressed in jeans and a t-shirt. Drink tea. Check e-mail.

8:40 Put rice into Amy's rice container for kindy. Tell kids to put shoes on. Search in car for kindy attendance book.

8:50 Take Amy to kindy; deliver washed mattress and cover, plus new summer blanket and pyjamas to teachers.

9-9:30 Edit AFWJ(Association of Foreign Wives of Japanese Club)minutes as per President's Suggestions. Drink second cup of tea.

9:30 Put rice into second layer of Lena's lunchbox, add a packet of furikake (rice spinkles, made of dried seaweed, sesame seed, fish).

9:40 Tell Lena to put her shoes on, put sunblock on her and me, put on her helmet, put her on the bike and cycle to kindy.

10-10:30 Cycle home from kindy. Stop as Fadies and buy canned apricots for breakfast yougurt. Stop at Tsutaya video store to hand back DVD.

10:30-11:00 continue AFWJ minutes

11:-00 Shower, blow dry hair.

11:10-12:00 tidy bedrooom whilst listening to Franz Ferdinand, select work clothes, iron them, hang laundry. Put on work clothes - linen pants, sheer shirt from warehouse in Hawera, and a slip underneath.

12:00-12:30 Eat lunch - leftover chicken, cheese omelet, soy beans, peach. Read teacher's manual to prepare for lesson

12:30 drink more tea and answer e-mails

12:50 go to work

1:10-2:40 Teach Higashi college English lesson.

3:00-3:30 swimming - 800m

3:40 pick up Lena from Kakize Stand, where she has been playing with her Daddy. Go to supermarket, buy beef, komatsu-na greens, milk, lemon soda, yogurt

4pm arrive home, write advertisement for AFWJ convention

5pm pick up Amy, learn about kindy 'camp' (at the kindergarten)

5:30 cook beef and komatsu-na dish; prepare corn, tofu and salad (lettuce, broccoli and bean sprouts). Eat dinner

6:00-6:40 Talk to mother on phone

6:40 shower; tidy living room while kids play in shower

7:10 Go to bed, read books to kids. Lena chose The Little Mermaid pop-up book, Amy chose the Children's encyclopedia, we loooked at the universe and planets pages. Read Leonardo biography while they go to sleep. (nothing about the Priory of Sion, by the way)

8:00 to ??? Finish minutes and advert; write easy English cricket instructions for OIT college lessons; photograph bags for trademe, write this blog!!!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Flixotide

We went to the hospital today for Amy's monthly asthma check-up. Last Monday Yoriko had told me that at the health conference she went to, she listened to a speech about asthma, and the doctor there had said that he would never use Theodur. I wsa getting worried anyway that she was on it for so long, and that was the last straw. So I decided to ask the doctor to change to a steroid medicine. Yoriko assured me that there were less side-effects because there is a smaller dose because it goes straight into the lungs where it is needed.

So I asked the doctor today, and he agreed! I started by saying I was worried about the side-effects. I think he was expecting that, because he seemed almost reluctant to tell me he wanted to continue the meds this month, and was explaining that this season is a bad one for asthma. So I asked about steroids and showed him the flixotide. We talked about it a bit, I explained the dosage I had been given, and found the drug name for him, which is similar to name it goes by in Japan, so he knew what it was. He even commented that he knew Theodur was not used overseas anymore. I said, 'Yes, I know. My doctor in NZ said he would never use it'

We decided that I would use the inhaler from NZ this month, go back next month for another check and if she is doing fine on it, he will give me some more. So, with luck, or rather, with the right medicine, we should make it through summer this year. Beach, here we come!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Castle and curry

Today I took the kids to go clean up the castle. It was a volunteer effot organized by Caravan Nakatsu, a social/charity/Nakatsu promotion group. First up was a lecture about the the history of the large stone walls. We missed this bit, because even though I wanted to know, I didn't think the kids could take too long, so I decided to come late. We arrived just in time to help with the weeding. The walls were getting overrun by plants. We cut and pulled and bagged, and were finished by 11am, when we sat down for curry that had been provided for the volunteers. There was so much curry that we were able to take a bag of it home along with rice.

In the afteroon we went to see Dipti. Eisha is in NZ at the moment, a week's school trip to Rotorua, which is teh sister city of Beppu, where Eisha goes to high school. Koga recently broke his leg playing soccer, so he was there, rather than out at one of his eternal soccer practices. They really overwork them here!

Amy played with the dog Jini, she has finally got over her fear. Lena is still terrified, but was more than happy to play with Peter the turtle.

Nothin much

Except I should really try to call mum and tell you about this mail I have for you.

Amy had a sound and movement play session at kindy today (she doesn't usually go on Saturday, but I let her go today just for this session). It ran late so we were unable to go to Takitas. We should go next month.

I had three other lessons today, so Saturday is not much of a holiday for me. I managed it quite nicely thought today, no stress. Hamburgers for tea. Kids straight to bed, Amy slept soon, Lena didn't and came donw several times until I elicited a promise from her to stay in bed, which she then did, complaining of being tired (well, duh!) and soon went to sleep.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Parent-Teacher Meeting and a Restaurant Fiasco

I had my first Parent-Teacher meeting today. It was only ten minutes long, and we talked mostly about sleep. Amy has not napped since she was two, so she just can't do it, and the nap period is about an hour and a half so she gets very bored, and hates it so much she often doesn't even want to go to kindy at all. She always asks me if I am going to pick her up after lunch. The teachers seem to think the ideal solution is for her to learn to nap, but I am very much opposed to that as I think that she would then be unable to get to sleep at night! There is nothing to be done - the nap period is decided, many of the other kids are still in the habit of sleeping (having gone to day care for may years) and she is not allowed to play inside or out during that time. I have the promise that they will let her quietly read, but the teacher wonders if she can do that for an hour and a half. I said, you expect her to do NOTHING for an hour and a half? She started to tell me she 'needed' the sleep, as she played all morning. I reminded her that Amy is five, and has not napped since she was tow. I don't think she needs it. I just didn't like the whole tone of 'everyone' naps, 'everyone' needs it, the 'rule' is decided, no exceptions.

We also talked about food - Amy complained to ME that she had too much, as I think there is an undercurrent of congratulations for finishing, even if the teachers don't think they actually 'force' them. Amy already has a tendency to over-eat, I don't want to encourage it. She has had seconds lately, so I warned the teacher that Amy has been known to eat until she feels sick, and last week she actually vomited. Five years old and already a bulimic, I really have to be vigilant about her eating.

The last thing was sunscreen, which they will put on her after lunch for me. Amy is so BROWN it's unbelievable. She certainly 'tans' well, shame tanning is such a health risk!

In the evening we went out for dinner to a family restaurant. I thought Kanji wanted to go, since he had suggested it earlier, but he only meant if Amy ad Lena stayed at Baahan's we should go out together. When I said they probably wouldn't, also thinking I am too busy Saturday to 'go out' Friday night, he no longer wanted to,but I hadn't realized that and assumed it meant we would all go out together. This is important, because it means I did not arrange any dinner, so when we go home at 6:30 there was no food cooked nor anything quick. Amy and Lena had had rice only at Baachan's.

Now Kanji said he didn't want to go out, he wanted to relax at home. But I was hungry, and I was worried about the kids. I was considering getting deliveries, take-out, and suggesting I go with the kids only, but Amy protested, so Kanji gave in - mistake number one, he should have said No if he really meant it!

We didn't get out until 7:30, and went to Gusto, where we ordered a hamburger kid's set for Lena and a Curry rice kid's set for Amy. As soon as it arrived, the trouble started. Amy suddenly stopped eating, as it was too hot. Lena has a mini-tantrum because Kanji wouldn't let her eat her jelly first, and refused to eat at all. Now, you must know that Amy and Lena are normally very good in a restaurant, and usually eat their meals as well! We couldn't even salvage the situation by eating their dinner for them, as we had already ordered!

Well, Lena finally ate when I fed her, and Amy was happy to eat when her curry cooled a little, so all was well. Our meals came, and we ate as well. If you are wondering where the fiasco is, here it comes. Towards the end of her meal, Amy started to complain of feeling sick. With bug-eyes and a hand over her mouth, she looked ready to vomit, so I took her to the bathroom. Lena of course, had to follow, no matter how many times I told her to go back to Kanji. She went back twice, but kept coming back. Meanwhile Amy was hanging over the bowl, not vomiting but feeling very much like it.

Lena finally decided to go to the toilet, so I told her to go to the next one (there were only two toilets). Suddenly she starts to wail - she missed the toilet, and accidentally let go on the floor, in her knickers and all over her legs. So I leave Amy clutching the toilet bowl, and rush in to help Lena, who is horrified, and clean her up, just as a middle-aged lady, and woman with a young boy come into the toilet. The toilet doors are both open , so they can see what going one. I apologize to them, and call Amy into the second toilet as I have finished cleaning up Lena, and sent her out to wash her hands. Amy nearly steps into the wee-wee I am still mopping up with toilet paper, but I manage to get it cleaned up and Amy comfortably ensconced around another toilet bowl.

The middle-aged lady kindly lets the child go first, and while waiting she loans Lena her towel to wipe her hands (they only had a blow machine, and Lena can't reach it). Amy is still over the bowl when the boy finished, and the lady has her turn, and she must have eaten beans, corn, AND kiwifruit the day before, because there are some weird noises coming from in there! Before she's finished, another lady with a boy comes in, maybe that same one as before. We vacate the toilet, because it seems like Amy has done with feeling nauseous, and is ready to go home.

I realize I have left Lena's knickers in the toilet, her new Barbie knickers so I wanted to get them, plus it's gross to leave them there! So I went back to the toilet, but the little boy was sick with vomiting and diarrhea! So I had to wait about five minutes until he was finished until I could get the knickers. I didn't think the mother would appreciate handing me Lena's smelly knickers, even thought they were wrapped in toilet paper, especially while she was trying to care for her sick son.

Kanji was moody all along, because he hadn't wanted to go in the first place. the rest of us managed to stay happy, but I agreed with him that this night was truly a waste of time.