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


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!


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


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!