Thursday, June 30, 2005


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


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


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


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


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.

Friday, June 17, 2005

No Ballet Today

In fact, I didn't even try. I did let her know she wasn't going, and she was happy about that.

I was supposed to be finishing the minutes of the Board Meeting today, but I slacked off. It felt good.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

No Again

My college lesson went okay...the loudmouth was not so loud, most of the students did their work.

We made a tofu dish again at Wakachan's. Wonder if she thinks that's all I like? Third week runing...

Again was cancelled due to the fact that most of the students can't make it tonight. So I had a nice glass of red wine at home and tried to clean my inbox. Hint as to the size of my inbox - after two glasses, I was still not done.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Quote of the Day

Things I said in the car today:

"Amy, stop licking the seat"

"Lena, stop hitting your sister on the head with a shoe"

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Drowning Lesson

Amy's swimming lesson today. Today they did somethign different - something I can only describe as a drowning lesson! After a big long talk with all the classes together, they threw each kid one by one into the pool - the strongest swimmers got to wear a tracksuit, the next a jacket, the next two polo shirts. I couldn't hear anything, but obviously they had been instructed to lie on their backs and kick in an L shape down the side of the lane, then across to the edge of the pool. Meanwhile, the teachers stood in the water, splashing their faces, and making waves. I can only guess, but I think it was pretty obvious that they were trying to create the less-than-ideal conditions that a kid who fell out of a boat would have to face.

Amy, as a beginnner, was put in rather gently, and quickly caught by her teacher, who guided her head and upper body in the same way that Amy has been practicing for the last few weeks. Nevertheless it was an improvement on her performance in Maria's neighbour's pool!

Monday, June 13, 2005


And did I forget to go to the castle??? No, that is definitely next weekend.

Today we went to a dance performance. It was modern dance, and just a local school, but typically for Japan, it was a much biger deal than the much simpler show put on by Rachel and Gabi's school in Hawera. But at the same time it was simpler than Amy's ballet concert, which, or course, incorporated an entire ballet as well as individual pieces danced by individuals or groups.

The first section of Norimix was class group dances. The second part was a guest group from Fukuoka. The third part was themed - Noriko the dance teacher became norinori the alien who loves to dance and her zanily dressed character tied together the dances with spoken pieces between the dances, in which norinori goes to planet earth and generally spreads happiness around with her dancing magic. Amy and Lena enjoyed it. Lena danced in the aisle (where we were sitting because we came late) and Amy asked about a million questions (another good reason to sit in the aisle!).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Genji no Mori Day Two

We woke up nice and early, as usual, no such thing as a holiday when you have toddlers. It was pouring! I put on the rest of Lilo and Stitch, which they had not finished watching the night before. Then got some of the coloring and dolls and other toys I had in teh car, and they payed indoors while we got breatfast ready. We had curry rice and reheated chops and the leftover hamburger patteis.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Genji no Mori Day One

The good news is that Kanji was able to come camping with us.

We got ready after lunch, picked up Lena at kindy and went straight there. We arrived about the same time as Maia and her Mum and Mayumi and Maika.

We unpacked, and settled in and started to cook while the kids ran off and played on the new playground equipment. We had decided on hamburgers and lamb chops. The others had not tried lamb and wanted to try ti. I brought the hamburgers and hamburger buns, and some beetroot, which was a novelty as well. Maia's mum bought the chops, and they were still joined together in a rack, so our first task was to chop them. We only had a weak knife, and we took turns until we managed to get them chopped. Then we marinated them in olive oil, garlic, and rosemary, and made a mint sauce out of freesh mint and malt vinegar. At first it just tasted like vinegar, but the mint seeped in over time.

Kanji and I set up and started cooking while Maia's mum watched the kids and Maika's mum cooked the hamburgers inside the bungalow on an electric frying pan, to save time. All this time, it was threatening to rain. Kanji and I had a beer, but the other two don't drink much, so tehy saved it for the wine. I brought red wine so I wouldn't have to worry about chilling it. We had a hamburger, some chops and some barbecured vegetables, followed by muffins and strawberry jam and toasted marshmallows.

All this time, the rain started to spit and threatened to pour. It was raining by the time we finished and packed up, ready to go look at the fireflies. But we headed out regardless, with our umbrellas. We were lucky and it stopped just in time for us to stand on the bridge in the dark and admire the fireflies. By this time the children were tied, so we headed back to the bungalow, just as the rain started to pur down. We settled in, played a few games and then watched 'Lilo and Stitch' on the DVD player of my computer, which I brought just in case it rained!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Poor Ballet Teacher

She had three crying at once today. I think anyone who tries to teach three, four and five year olds to dance deserves a medal.

Amy was one of them. She didn't want to go today. She has decided she doesn't like ballet. This started when she started up again in April after her month off in March when she was sick. I think the dynamics of the class have changed a bit. I tried to get to the bottom of it, and she said she doesn't like the things she is made to do now. Sounds like she doesn't like being told what to do! And it's not as much fun without her friends. They were down to three students, now up to five or six again, as the class has been reconstituted a bit - it now has all the young ones who are not going in the concert this year. We are just watching this year.

I want Amy to hang on until the concert at least, partly to see if that revives her enthusiasm, and partly because the class dynamic might change afterwards. Ahh, it's a hard decision. I don't want to force her, and make her end up hating it, but I don't want her to give up at the first sign of difficulty either. Especially since some of it just seems to be her not liking being told what to do!

Well my eyelids are nearly falling off, or as Amy says, I have air in my eyes. I finally have a chance to catch up on some zzzz's, so I'm having an early night (8pm!). We had take-aways for dinner, and we are going to have a little bit of pudding before bed, if I stay awake that long.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Sad Day

Today we had to say Goodbye to the Gastauers. Amy got to play all day with Peter and Rosa, then they had a farewell party in the afternoon. Birgit also went, but I was unable to go as I had to go to Wakachan's for the cooking lesson (bamboo shoot today).

But I saw her in the morning, and said goodbye, and please come back to Japan to visit. And I gave her a hug, and cried a little, because it really was very sad, we've been friends for five years now, been through many of the same frustrations raising our children in a country we often don't understand, plus all the little joys and triumphs of parenting. I do hope they can come back to visit.

We made them a little Sayonara book. I just folded a sheet of A3 size paper into a booklet. On the front were the names Peter, Rosa, Amy, Lena, Emily and Masaki, and drawings of decorations by Amy. The first page was 2000, with Welcome to Nakatsu, a drawing of Nakatsu by Amy, photos of the castle and Yukichi Fukuzawa, a baby photo of Amy and drawings of Peter and Rosa as babies by Amy.

Second page was 2001, with a rare photo of all three one-year olds looking at the camera at the same time, and photos from Amy's First Birthday Party in Osada Park. Amy added drawings of them all playing at our house.

Third page was 2002, with a baby photo of Lena, and photos from Peter and Rosa's 2nd birthday party at their house, and a drawing of Amy playing with the Lego at Gastauer's house.

The middle page was a colorful drawing by Amy of me, her and Lena on one side and Birgit, Peter and Rosa on the other.

The next page was 2003, with a drawing of the kids playing in the sandpit in Hoyo Park, a photo of them playing in Nabeshima Park, and a photo of Kanji and the girls at the 7-5-3 festival, dressed in their kimonos.

The next page was 2004, with a drawing of everyone playing together at Tomookas in Yamaga, and photos of Emily's 4th birthday party there.

The next page was 2005, with a drawing of Grace Hoikuen, a note 'This year we started going to kindy together', a photo from the picnic, and photos of Peter, Rosa, Birgit and one of all the kids together from our Farewell party last week

And on the back page was a photo of Amy and Lena in their PrettyCure outfits, and a final one of me and them on a broomstick, with a note that we would fly over to see them soon.

I had the idea to do it this way on the weekend, but never got around to it until Tuesday, so I ended up staying up until 1am yesterday doing the lettering and printing or copying the photos to paste in. Yes, it was done by hand, not computer, and came out looking very unpolished but, I think, a little more charming as a result.