Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sick Day Four

We took Lena to the pediatric clinic in the morning as her fever and cough had not stopped. But the doc said her lungs were sounding better so we got another two days of meds and instructions to come back on Friday. She also had a blood test, poor thing. She knew it was going to happen as soon as we sat on the bed in the treatment room and she saw the nurse with her tray. She just said, "Why?"

We will get the results of the test tomorrow morning.

At least she doesn't find the doctor scary. She made me laugh on Monday because after the doctor had checked her chest front and back and looked in her mouth she said, "Why didn't it hurt?". The younger, more inexperienced doctors at the city hospital were a bit more rough with her mouth and the tongue depressor.

Amy spent the day with Baachan, coming back at about 5pm. I started to come down with a fever when I put the kids to bed - that unmistakable cold shivery feeling. But I popped some pills and went to Again. I only stayed a little while though, I was utterly exhausted and came back to bed before 12.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Today we had scheduled visist to both Amy's new kindy and Lena's, to dicuss the things we need to get and make and buy for them.

First we went to Grace, where Amy immediately ran off into the playground with Peter and Rosa, Lena following, fever be damned. So I went to the introduction by myself. It wasn't long though, and we soon got up to go to her new classroom with all the other kids. Since Grace is a Daycare centre, the class have, many of them, been going for years already, so there were only two new students. Amy sat on the mat, sandwiched between Peter and Rosa, and sang songs and had a story read while I had my interview with the teacher. Since Grace is a Christian establishment, they also said a prayer - and several kids were stood up in a line in front to say individual prayers - they were so cute: "God in Heaven, please don't let there be any train crashes" .

The teacher took me through my pile of paper and my lists. I need to buy - shorts, a t-shirt, a cap, an attendance book and a communication note-book: 3,200 yen.

I need to provide the kindy with 2-3 tops, 2-3 pairs of pants, 1-2 sets of underwear, 3 plastic bags for wet clothes, pyjamas in a 40x40cm square pyjama bag, and a futon and quilt to sleep on. Every day she must take a lunchbox with just rice - not rice balls, no rice sprinklies, not bread but just white rice (I am going to question them about that one! As if only rice was appropriate for a meal!!!). They also need two hand towels, and a floor towel, which should be hand-sewn using a tea-towel folded over twice. There is still a sentiment in Japan that doing things by hand, whether lunch-boxes, or hand-sewing is a sign of love. Kanji has offered to do it for her, since they still learn to hand-sew in school here. I told him we learned sewing, but only on a machine, and I flunked anyway. I should get grandma to do it, and Amy will be the only one with a towel sewn with clowns and roses and what-not. There is also a questionnaire on her daily habits and one on her vital statistics and health information to be filled out.

Lena's Keio Academy is much simpler - she needs a full lunch from the second week, her own crayons, scissors, glue stick, inside shoes, and a change of clothes. Of course, for both kids, everything must be named.

Amy had so much fun at kindy that she did not want to leave. It was like trying to move a statue, getting her out of the yard (there is no grass, just dirt). Once we went out of the gate, she bawled her eyes out, and was only consoled by an ice cream. I think she's going to do just fine at kindy!

cutisms from Lena: says Dally for Daddy, Leppe for Lemme (let me) and pos-to for supposed to.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Work and doctors, and work and doctor

We went to the city hospital yesterday for Lena to be seen, and she was tested for influenza and adenovirus - this involved taking a mucus sample - which sound simple, but means holding her down while the doctor put a tube up her nose and sucked the snot out. Naturally she did not like this terribly much and screamed. Poor thing, already feeling so awful, then having to go through that. She got worse as we had to wait for the test results. By this time she was inconsolable - she wanted to go home and could not understand why we could not. She cried through the consultation, so I missed some of it. Anyway, she received a day's worth of antibiotics, and we were told to go to our doctor the next day, as they can only give out a day's worth in the emergency department.

So, we cancelled our parties, and spent the day at home, trying to make her comfortable.

Next morning I had a lesson, which I decided to go ahead and do, since it was at Baachan's house, and it was Mrs Fukuda who is always so kind to the children. They joined us for the last half of the lesson, down the other end of the table, quietly drawing pictures. Mrs. Fukuda was quite impressed with a picture Amy did of a woman with three eyes, two mouths and four noses. She said it looked like a Picasso, and wanted to take it to show her art teacher, but Amy wouldn't let her!

We took Lena to the pediatric clinic that afternoon, and got a diagnosis of bronchitis, more antibiotics and cough medicine and told to watch out for it in case it developed into pneumonia. Typcial medical scaremongering!

I had another lesson in the evening - Dr Yoriko has switched from Friday to Monday evening. I didn't get the kids to sleep in time, and although Amy was a good girl and mostly stayed upstairs reading, Lena insisted on joining the lesson. Unfortunately, I had given her fever meds at bedtime, so her temperature was down and she was feeling on top of the world, and not a bit tired since she'd had a late nap (4-5:30). At any rate, her presence elicited a conversation about fevers - my Home Medical Guide states 38 as a fever, Dr.Y said Japanese count 37 as a fever. Here, they take them underarm even though they know underarm measurement is more variable and therefore less accurate, because they do not trust the cleanliness of oral readings. Rectal readings are only for dead people.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Oh No! Sick again - Day One?

Okay, so I was not totally unwarned. Lena had a slightly red eye on Friday, and it was a little redder yesterday, and she had a temperature of 37.5. Of course with Lena, who acts normal when she has a fever, unless it's very high, it was hard to tell she was becoming sick. The only sign really, is that she was too tired to walk in the supermarket and wanted to be carried, at which time I could feel how warm her skin was.

She skipped dinner, then got up during my lesson last night - asking me for her breakfast! She had some nuts, half a chocolate-filled bread roll and a glass of milk. Then came and joined our lesson!

She went back to sleep very quickly after the lesson finished, but woke at about 2:30 moaning and then she started to shiver, so I knew she had a fever coming on. Oh No, I thought. Then she started calling for water, and I felt her sking and she was burning up! She kept trying to cough, but found it too hard. Then she wanted to be sick, so we came downstairs to get some supplies. Her eyes were full of green gunk. She had a temperature of 39, and I put in an 'Anhiba' suppository, 200mg of acetominophen. She felt sleepy again before being sick, so we went back to bed. She was nearly asleep when she suddenly felt like being sick again, but luckily we were prepared so we avoided any mess.

After that she spent about another painful, unhappy hour trying to get back to sleep with a painful cough, and a very sore tummy - she was squirming and twisting, and only went to sleep in the end with her bum in the air and me rubbing her back.

SO.....the party is off. I have wrapped the cake in tin foil and a plastic bag, and have decided that we will use up the snacks on Tuesday when the playgroup meets, and have the cake on the 10th of April, when Baachan, and Amy's two aunties, Mie and Toyoko come for lunch.

Kanji will come after lunch and we will spend the afternoon at the hospital again instead of at home celebrating a party. We will also have to miss Max Leon's party this afternoon.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Party Prep

Just a big day of tidying and nagging the kids not to drag out yet another toy and shopping in preparation for Lena's party tomorrow.

I baked a chocolate cake, with Amy's help. I bought sweets and snacks at the 100yen shop, (and could not resist the temptation of picking up a few Japanese items for trademe), and then some chocolate and lollies at the supermarket to decorate the cake. I can never get exactly what they say in the book, but there is such an amazing range of sweets that I often get something better. Lena has chosen Humpty Dumpty, which is perfect as tomorrow is also Easter, so the egg theme seems fitting.

I blew an egg, much to Amy's delight. She roared with laughter, giggling at how now it looked like it was doing a wee-wee, and now it was doing a poo. I said, it's giving birth, my face certainly felt like it (have you blown an egg? Hard work!). Kanji came home and Amy excitedly showed him the egg, explaining how we had put the holes in both ends, and Mummy had blown and blown. Then Lena grabbed the egg, ran up to the sink and knocked it against the bench - she thought it was a hard-boiled egg, and she was cracking the shell to peel it. She got quite a surprise to find no egg inside, and more of a surprise at me going, "Oh No, Lena! What have you done!!?"

So I grabbed another egg and all three watched me give birth to another albumen and yolk sac. This egg was promptly safetly stored out of hungry Lena's reach.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Amy's Kindy Graduation

Yes, they hold a Graduation ceremony for Kindergarten!

It was held in the classroom (there are three classrooms with removable walls to make one big one), with the parents seated in rows at one end, and the children in a semi-circle with the teachers in front. After a speech from the principal, each child came up to receieve her certificate, a class photo, and their own hand-made prize - a plate with their handprint and the ABC written, by them, around the edges, and their own set of ABC cards.

Amy was the only girl in jeans - the others were wearing dresses or skirts or pinafores with tights. Somehow I had realized when the teacher told me not to bother getting dressed up, that all the mothers would anyway, so I wore nice pants and a sweater, but I didn't think about Amy. So there she was, buttons on her cardigan done up wrong, and someone had pulled her puppy tails (at least I put her hair up today!) and it was a bit fluffy.

Then all the teachers said a few words while the kids fidgeted and Amy yawned the longest yawn in the history of bored children listening to speeches, then children sang a few songs, and we all lined up outside for a group photo. Amy was excited about showing me her cards and plate, and sad that it was her last day, but she will see the kids next week at the English Playgroup.

We also went back to the hospital today for a check-up for Amy. The doctor said she was in good condition, but wants her to keep taking oral medicine for another month, with another check at the end of that, because asthma attacks are high at this time of year, with the change of seasons, and Amy's asthma appears to be seasonal.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Gotcha! The elusive Bratz

Today Maika's mum Mayumi took us to Youme Town in Yukuhashi, where the shop assistant in Nakatsu had said the Bratz went, that day when I went in to finally buy them, only to find them gone.

We had MacDonalds first, twice in one week for us! Oh no, Supersize me!

Then we went upstairs to their Pelican store, and there they were - thankfully at the same super-cheap price as they were here. 1000 yen for two. I got three formal funks, a spring and a winter sasha, and three double sets of a slumber party + a Bratz boy. Now I just have to hope they sell on trademe for a good price.

We went to Maika's house afterwards to play. As we watched Back to the Future (which elicited a lot of very difficult questions that night at bedtime) a storm came - and it started to snow! This is most unprecedented - it should not be snowing here in March. I got a bit worried, as Maika's house is a 40minute drive from home. But it blew over in time for us to go home. It snowed that night, but mostly turned to ice, and iced up our car. When we drove out to go to kindy, ice kept flying off from other people's cars and crashing onto the road. When we got home, it was started to melt from the neighbor's roof, and fell crashing and splintering onto our driveway. I had to rush Lena into the house for fear of her getting whacked in the head by flying ice. Crazy weather.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Amy's Class 'Picnic'

Yesterday was the day chosen for Amy's kindy's spring picnic. But it was raining today, so it was put off til today. But it was raining again today, so the picnic was held indoors.

It didn't really matter, we had a wonderful time anyway. From 10am to 12pm the teachers led the kids in several games. First, the teachers raced to get ABC bean bags and they could only put them in the box when the kids said a word that started with that letter. Which meant that most of the time the teacher had to act something out. Then they played a ball-throwing game, then an obstacle course, then 'caterpillar', crawling across the floor inside a cardboard box, which was a lot of fun.

We had lunch together, marmite, cheese and lettuce sandwiches, strawberries, and whole eggs. There is only one photo because my card is used up and I can't get my software to work, I think I have to re-load it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Happy Birthday Lena!

Lena is three today!

We woke up early and she opened her presents - a new Princess Licca-chan doll, a puzzle book and a Bratz Chloe fashion fridge magnet set. We had cocoa pops for breakfast, then Amy went to kindy for the first time in a week.

Lena went to Baachan's while I was at the dentist, and lay in her favourite spot under the kotatsu (heated table) watching T.V. Then I took her home and she watched Monsters Inc. while I tidied up.

We picked Amy up from kindy at 12:00, and we all went to Jusco Shopping Mall to go to MacDonalds for lunch. Then we went shopping with the money Lena got from Baachan, Aunty Mie and Aunty Toyoko. She bought a boy doll, a Prince for her Licca-chan and a Hikari/Purikyua (pretty cure) Pink costume. Purikyua is a popular girls' T.V. show, similar to Sailor Moon and all the rage with the primary school crowd.

Then we went to Peter and Rosa's house, and saw them and Emily and Masaki. Lena got more presents - an Elmo lunch box from Tomookas and a playmobile car and a frisbee/sticky-ball game from Gastauers. We were not long there when we had to rush home for the English Playgroup - Maika, Takumi and Chihiro came. Lena wore her new Purikyua costume and went around saying "My name is Hikari. I kill monsters." They played dress-ups, snatch-the-card, and say-the-card-fast games, and ended up practicing writing words and drawing pictures to match.

Now we are waiting for Daddy to get home, and we will all go to Joyfull for dinner, and especially for a big ice-cream sundae

Monday, March 21, 2005


We finally got home today, and guess who cried on the way out of the hospital? Amy has fallen so in love with little Yuu-kun in the opposite bed that she wanted to stay and play with him. She was worried that we would never see him again so we swapped phone numbers and I promised to invite him to Lena's birthday party on Sunday.

It took us three trips to get all the stuff back to the car that I had lugged up bit by bit over the days. Did I tell you you have to provide everything, down to cutlery and towels (we couldn't have a bath though because of the drip)? They don't change the bedsheets the whole time you are there, and we ended up with a bottom sheet covered in pen marks from Amy's incessant drawing. I haven't counted but I am sure she does about 100 pictures a day, and her drawing skills are developing. I have collected some things from the internet and a book about drawing, but I have not started her on them because I am enjoying watching her make little discoveries by herself. For example, when she draws a mummy holding a baby, she draws the baby properly behind the arms, with the lines stopping at the arm and starting again where the arm ends. She draws a person holding something by drawing four little oblongs to represent grasping fingers on the far side of the object. Then yesterday she drew a figure looking down, by drawing one eye in the centre, a half-eye at the edge, and a half-mouth at the edge of the face, and all the hair flowing down the opposite side only. No-one is teaching her this stuff, and I am fascinated watching it develop!

Health-wise she is fine. She will continue on the oral meds for a few weeks, and then we will see after that. She should be alright until summer, when I think I will try the flixotide as a preventive to get her through the hot and humid summer. Her first hospitalization was at the height of last summer, when the air was thick and heavy, and even I was feeling short of breath outside of the air conditioning.

The earthquake after-shocks are bit more bone-shaking in our little old wooden house than in the big strong hospital. This place literally rattles. I heard a rumour that there may be a another big one coming, big enough to topple buildings, but they always say that just after an earthquake. No earthquake is ever big enough!

Kanji is home! See you later

Hospital Day Five

Today's long dull day in hospital was relieved by two major events - a big earthquake and the removal of Amy's drip.

Just before 11am we were hit by a big earthquake. It was funny because earlier in the morning I thought I felt a sway, but decided it was just me. There was no mistaking the big one! About half way through there was a big lurch and I tucked the kids under the bed table. We are on the 4th floor - I think it's the first time I have been up that high in an earthquake. I was not scared though, more relieved that we were in a nice strong reinforced earthquake-proof public structure. As soon as it was over Amy jumped up and looked toward the coast - saying "The sea will come up!". She was affected by the Indian ocean tsunami and asked a lot of questions at that time, so she knew that a tsunami could follow an earthquake. "It's okay", I said, "we're on the 4th floor, the sea can't get us from here." Again, feeling more relieved than scared that we were up there and not in our sea-level house.

And then of course everyone turned on their t.v.s and within five minutes they were warning where, when and how high the expected tsunami would be. Nowhere near us, and, at 50cm, too low to come anywhere near breaching our coastal walls. The nurse came in soon after to check us, following some prescribed earthquake drill. The doctor who examined Amy took a phone call half way through and got an update. Then came the announcement that we were not to use the elevators (not so happy about being on the 4th floor anymore!) All in all, the officials all seemed very much on top of things.

On the t.v. we watched the reports of damage coming it - the bullet train stopped, highways closed, houses collapsed on an island near Fukuoka, roads cracked, windows and tiles fallen from buildings in the city. The only damage I have seen here though are a few piles of dirt fallen from the earth walls of a nearby temple.

There were two aftershocks, but the kids didn't even notice them. The other big event this morning was the removal of Amy's drip, which signifies to her that we will be going home soon. It started to hurt her hand, and instead of putting a new one in the other hand, they checked her and decided to take it out.

I may stay at the hospital tonight. Kanji's back is killing him and the hard narrow hospital bed doesn't help. I will probably settle Lena at Baachan's first then go back. My turn for a hard sleepless night - but I will be consoling myself that I am not on a plane, which is a heck of a lot worse. At least in half a hospital bed you can stretch out and it's not so cold.

Good luck to Chris and Deb getting some snooze on their long flights!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Hospital Day Four

After being told we might be able to go home today, we were disappointed by being told it would not be until Tuesday - because reception is closed until then. (Monday is a public holiday). The doctor could see I was diappointed and arranged for us to go on Monday, for which I am grateful, but I hope it hold out.

Amy is looking better, her cheeks are red, which she also commented on, remarking that it must have been the carrots she ate for lunch. In Japan, they say eating carrots makes your cheeks red.

Lena spent the day with us. She LOVES the hospital. Especially Yuu-kun, the little boy in the bed opposite Amy. They bonded today, and Lena spent half her time on HIS bed, reading train books with him, doing an Anpanman puzzle, playing with his cars and her Poohs. They even went to the toilet together, which was a laugh because when he saw her sitting on the loo he said "Where does she pee from?" Amy spent almost the whole day drawing and playing with cards, her favorite activities.

My friend's baby is Maguno Leon, the younger son of Raoul, the Mexican guy who runs the Mexican restaurant and my favourite bar Tropicoco. They are having a special renovation/4th anniversary party tonight, but me and Maguno's mum won't be going. Little Maguno is only three months, and he has asthma too.

My student Naoyo came fro her lesson, with a pile of paper for Amy. They have a printing shop, and she brought off-cuts. A wonderful pile of paper that will make Amy beam with pleasure. The way she gets excited about large amounts of blank paper, like the page off a calendar, reminds me of me when I was kid and drew all over everything too.

Hospital Day Three

Was much the same as Day Two, right down to the tentative promise that she can go home tomorrow. Amy looks healthier, and is definitely coughing less. Looks like she's coming right. Kanji got a recommendation off an older asthma sufferer for a hospital in Fukuoka that specialized in asthma, where we can go and get a complete physical examination including blood and skin tests to try to find the trigger.

Me and Kanji have it worked out in two simple shifts. I am on the Day Shift - 10am to 6pm, two meals, one lot of medicine, several nebulizer treatments and dozens of toilet trips and walks, and endlessly trying to amuse her - on today's agenda, countless drawings, colouring, making up books, Lego, a Magnet balance game, puzzles, and a sticker book.

Kanji is on Night Shift, 6pm to 10am, which is longer, but he gets more rest than I do! Meanwhile, before and after my shift, I drive around doing errands, and try to stay on top of the housework at home. A hospitalization certainly does turn your life upside-down.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hosptial Day Two

Amy is doing much better today. She is more relaxed and not coughing nearly as much, although her face is pale and she has dark shadows under her eyes. She has been on the drip all day and she's a little trouper with it, careening down the hospital corridors dragging her stand behing her.

Of course she's bored out her brain. Being in the hospital is much like being on a plane - hours and hours of endless time to fill, then an hour or so of rushing around like a headless chicken (when I leave the hospital to get things and do shopping and laundry).

I got up there at 8:30 then promptly left again to do some more errands. I had to rush to get back so Kanji could get to work by 10:00. Then I got there, sat on the bed with Amy, and did we nothing for seven and a quarter hours. Amy drew pictures and coloured, played with her doll, played cards, and played lego. I read a book. After lunch I went down to the car to get the lego - and missed the doctor's round. I got back and the other ladies in the room (overflow from the general ward) told me what a good girl she had been.

We got shifted from that room down to one with kids in it at about 3:00. There is a nice girl about seven or eight in the next bed, a boy about six across the way and a toddler. A friend and her tiny three-month old baby are in the room opposite - he also has asthma.

Kanji came to relieve me at 5:15, and I went on another errand round. I had a quick dinner at Baachan's, took dinner back to the hospital with videos for Amy, her toothbrush and a few more things I had forgotten (I will have remembered to bring everything just before they tell us to go home...)The good news is that she may be home tomorrow!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hospital Day One

Amy was admitted to hospital for a severe asthma attack today. She had been coughing all night and I wondered if I should send her to kindy, but she seemed to come right after some ventolin so I took her. But at about 10:30 the kindy rang and said she was coughing too much, so I picked her up and took her straight to the pediatric clinic. There she had a nebulizer treatment and reveived the usual meds (Theodur and Mucosal/Berchin mix).

In the afternoon we went to Wakachan's for my cooking lessons and her daughter Kanchan's English lesson. Amy and Lena love going there - they get snacks and juice and play for a few hours, often watching a video as well. We took Bug's Life. But Amy just did not stop coughing, even after I gave her the medicine and more ventolin. She was getting sore and weak from the coughing, so I decided to take her to the hospital. The clinic was closed (Wednesday again) so we went to the public hospital again.

We had the same doctor Inoue again. Amy was coughing constantly by now, her chest was heaving and her belly rolling like a yogi with each breath. They gave her another nebulizer treatment and she stopped, which actually surprized both the doctor and I because her attack had been so severe. Much as I didn't want to stay at the hospital, I also didn't particulary want to go home with her in that state. I was muttering to the doctor about will we be able to just come back in the middle of the night if it gets bad again? He decided to give her some IV fluids since she was exhausted, and then decided to add some steroids. We were both just holding off admitting her I think.

This time I refused to leave when they put in the line. They had made me last time, or rather, I had not know why they were asking me to leave. This time, the nurse asked in such a way, that I could just answer 'dame' (no way) and I explained that I had promised her I would not leave her, and guess what? It was ten times better, she did not scream and fight, but was much calmer with me speaking calmly to her, telling her to look away, telling her how many times they stuck me with a needle when she was in my tummy, telling her it would be over soon, then making her smile by telling her she looked like a chritmas present all tied up in the restraint.

At about this time we pretty much decided to admit her, so I phoned Kanji (I had left Lena with Baachan) and he came up too. We talked about summer - what are we going to do? Go to NZ? But now for now's problems. He went home first, to eat, then I went to fetch Amy's things. Kanji stayed, which I found very hard, and still do. I don't like not being there. I wish Lena would hurry up and wake up, but she slept late last night, so she is catching up now.

Amy was pretty happy and comfortable when I left. She has the nebulizer there for when it gets too hard. I guess they will give her more IV steroids to strengthen her lungs, and start her on Theodur. I guess she will be there for a few days.

I hope to get to the hospital around 9, so I can drop by Keio and talk to the mums about the playgroup, which will have to be postponed, perhaps to next Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Offline Again!

It's amazing how much I miss it - and how much I don't.

I spent the time writing my old diaries up onto disc for safe-keeping. See, even offline, I can't stay away from the computer.

We have been offline since Sunday night, and today the NTT man came, as we thought it was a hardware problem - the phone was cutting out too. I suspect it wasn't - I suspect it was me who did it, being over-zealous in my deleting. This computer came with bucketloads of software extras, and I think I deleted our connection info when I was getting rid of an extra Outlook Express version that we don't use. The NTT man did something funny and now I had to press connect to dial-up, which is odd, and wrong, and I hope doesn't end up costing us money somehow. Oh well, we'll see. I'll get someone else to look at it.

And then it came back on, and I had 133 messages waiting for me and - nothing much. Junk, email group posts, blah blah blah. What was I missing so much? The chance to look up those Macy Gracy lyrics me and Amy have been puzzling over for so long "Though I try to hide it, it's clear, I wear goggles when you are not here". To look up Cleopatra and Antony's history now I have finished the book.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Blah Day

Regardless of how I feel, today life must begin again.

I had a lesson this morning, and it had to be taught. One of the staff was ill, so Baachan was working on the forecourt, leaving me to mind Lena myself while I taught. We got through our chapter nicely, had a good chat and all, and I made the tea - making extra too as I saw that Kanji's cousin had come with her baby (one of the ones who came to NZ to go to my wedding).

Now, that doesn't sound like much, doesn't sound like a terribly taxing morning but it exhausted me! I couldn't wait to get home. Baachan was busy but obviously felt like she was still obliged to provide everyone with lunch, so she handed me some cash and sent us all to a restaurant. Okay, if that's what you want, I'll entertain them, means I won't have to cook lunch anyway. But I was SO RELIVED when the baby went to sleep in the car and they decided to go home. I took the kids to joyfull for lunch and spend the afternoon watching a movie - School of Rock, so-so.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

What I'm reading this month

I just finished Margaret George's "Memoirs of Cleopatra" and my next bedtime book is "Cold Mountain". I watched the movie first, which is backward for me, but I thought I'd try it this time because I heard it was a good movie, and I just KNOW they will have changed every damn thing, Hollywood always do, so I wanted to enjoy the movie unencumbered by those frustrating "That isn't right!" feelings you get when you have read the book first.

This month's book circle books are "The Myth of the First Three Years" which busts the myth that the first three years are a special critical period in learning and development; and "The Emotional Life of a Toddler". The History of Fruit and Vegetables is up on the kitchen windowsill, and on the table is an Indian women's magazine, Femina, and "On Food and Cook, the science and lore of the Kitchen".

From the library this week I have an Edo period history, and a book on good luck charms. I tried to be more moderate this time and I did not read many of the books last time.

Influenza Day Six

Sigh, it still goes on.

Poor Amy has taken a turn for the worse. She came downstairs, flopped straight onto the couch and stayed there all day. Lena has a fever nearly as high, but acts normal. She has been going stir crazy - literally - she marched around and around the coffee table. She must have circuited it a hundred times. I think we dragged out every toy for her to play with, only to have her play with it for five minutes then get up and resume her mad marching.

I got to the dentist and he did something. Grinding and digging and screwing and god knows what, but it didn't hurt. I had to cancel my Keio lesson as we couldn't shift Amy and Kanji couldn't get hold of anyone to watch the Stand. In the evening Yoriko came with her receptionist, who was keen, but a little nervous. Yoriko's mother will start in April, and I will start the text then, so they can start together. Until then Naoyo will come to 'practice the alphabet'. I am not quite sure what that means, but I suppose it's my job to find out!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Influenza Day Five

In some ways the worst day yet. Because the kids are getting better, so ALL day long we were stuck inside and they wanted to play and went through all their toys, and fought over them, and my flu was presenting today as a thick head, so every sound reverberated and bounced around inside my brain. Not pleasant.

They watched Cinderella in the morning, then we watched Peter Pan, the live-action Australian/British production which is EXCELLENT! We laughed and we cried and we cowered and Lena acutally whooped for joy with her arms in the air when Captain Hook went down the croc's gullet. I will never hire the Disney movie, and I believe all copies of that ridiculous 'Hook' should be destroyed.

I spent the rest of the day clearing out some of the unbelievable crap that came bundled with my computer, and I am now back to over 50% of C drive free, which I hope will speed things up again.

I fortified myself with panadeine and did my evening lesson, which was good because Yoriko is going to introduce me to a new student, maybe two (her receptionist and her mother). I hope to make a group of at least four. This will be for Saturday night.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Influenza Day Four

We got a little bit more rest today - in the morning at least. I also managed to squeeze in a trip to the video store yesterday, so in the morning the kids watched Cinderella II. Kanji had to go to work. That was good - we needed a break from each other, we were starting to get very annoyed with each other, not least because we have such different ways of treating illness that when the kids are sick we are always questioning each other.

And then it was back to the doctors again in the afternoon, as Amy had run out of Tamiflu. I hate the medical system. I HATE that it took us TWO HOURS and we saw the doctor for a total of about three minutes. Since when did the patient become the least important part? Line us up, sort us out, make us wait, and make it seem like WE are selfish (inconsiderate to the next waiting person) if we want to talk for more than the allotted three minutes or dare to ask any questions. Herd us out the door, mid-sentence, and the waiting starts again.

We wait: 1) After checking in, and taking the kid's temperature, we wait 30-40 minutes until a nurse calls us to take a record of our symptoms, and weigh the kid. You must always take their temperature, no matter what you brought them in for. And they always ask you the same questions, about coughing, and vomiting and diarrhea. Then 2) Waiting another 30-40 minutes until we are called into the the inner room then 3) waiting in the inner room to see the doctor, including waiting on a specially designated stool so they know exactly where you are when you are next. Then you finally get your three minutes with the doctor. Then 4) Wait in the main waiting room again to be called to recieve your prescription and pay for the doctor visit, then 5) Go to the next door chemist and wait for the drugs. We arrived at about 2:30 and were out at perhaps 4:30.

And yet I persist with this doctor, because he at least speaks real, conversational English, and can understand me if I need to explain something, or can translate symptoms, and treatment, not just the odd English word remembered from University.

We finally got home, and watched Babe, while Kanji went to doctor again! He has had some kind of ulcer or wart thingy on his tongue for several months. The first doctor he went to said to just not worry about it, but he did, and thinks it was getting larger, so he tried another doctor today, who sliced it off then and there! He came home looking a bit shocked. He said it was a bit scary, poor thing, at least it's gone now.

Amy's fever is finally abated, Lena's is up to 39. Kanij seems to be getting better, I am much the same, head feeling all thick, body aching.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Influenza Day Three

You know you are supposed to just stay home and rest when you have the flu but that was just impossible today and we are all exhausted as a result.

I started showing symptoms yesterday evening, and rushed around cleaning up and doing laundry in preparation for not feeling very much like doing that the next day! As we put the kids to bed we heard sirens, and they went for a very long time. Then we heard the fire engines get closer and closer, and I looked out the window to see them pass by on the main street near our house. The sound did not recede so I looked out the other side of the house from the balcony, and then I saw the flames shooting up higher than the two-storey houses surrounding the burning house about a block away. I called out to Kanji and we stood in the cold and watched. We could hear shouting, and wooden beams cracking and glass shattering, a very chilling sound. We tried to trace which house it was, mentally walking through the streets, but of course we could not know until the next day. A long, two-storey, very old, old-fashioned town-house (shop in the front room) was completely gutted. It was the fish shop across from the vegetable shop where I bought milk the next day and asked what happened. There was a family of four, all but one son were out, no-one was hurt. It was one of those little neighborhood shops that have been slowly losing business to the malls and chain stores and no doubt this will ruin them completely. It was sad to see the piled of blackened debris and know that they had lost everything.

But back to the influenza trials of the Yokomatsus. I had to go to the dentist - I had had medicine and a plug put in on Monday, so it needed to be changed. We called, and they promised they could do it quickly - before I needed to sneeze! So in the morning I rushed off to the dentist. After lunch we decided to go to the doctor - Amy's fever had not abated in 48 hours, and Lena now had a fever too. We went to Inoue clinic - only to find it shut! I had completely forgotten that Inoue has Wednesday afternoon off. So we tried Kanji's hospital, where he was diagnosed with Influenza, but they don't have a children's department. So we drove to another pediatric clinic, only to reject it as too crowded. We decided no to go to Dr Kako out of emabrrassement more than anything else - we didn't want to go there just to say that we are only there because Inoue is shut. So we went to the public hospital.

Lena spewed all over the floor in reception. Kanji tried to catch it, but I was relying on the proverbial kind nurse, and sure enough she turned up. We were isolated - in the night-watchman's room of all places - and the nurse and then the doctor came to us there. It was the other Dr Inoue, the young one, who cared for Amy last year when she was admitted for asthma. He decided not to do anything with Amy since we would be taking her back to the first Inoue the next day. He started Lena on Tamiflu.

We got the kids home and it was my turn. Back to Kanij's hospital, where the first doctor had a bit of a panic attack upon seeing me. He seemed completely lost for words (and actions) and just kind of fiddled with my test paper, and asked me to write my name in English on the back of the form (?). He finally got it together enough to do the test - a nasal mucus test, ie, a cotton bud up the nose. It tickled and made me cry. Worst luck, my nose was actually clear at the time so it took even longer. That doc must have chickened out because it was another one I saw to discuss the test results twenty minutes later. He was much more confident and translated odd words into English. Except for the ones I most needed to know. But it was pretty straight-forward, as expected, I had the flu, B type, and would get some Tamiflu and some gargle. (and continue to take the anibiotics the dentist gave me for my tooth)

Amy had been begging all day for her favorite chicken pie, so I stopped at the supermarket on the way home and bought the things for it. I got home, and using my last resources of energy I cooked that damned pie! She was sound asleep by the time I finished, and I just collapsed on the floor. At least we'll have some pie for tomorrow

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Influenza Day Two

A very loooooooong slooooooooow day at home. I'm getting that headahce you get from being inside too long.

Amy has slept most of the day, and her fever remains high. When she wakes, I give her food and something to drink. She rejects most things except for ice cream, jelly, custard pudding and yogurt. So that's what she gets, along with sports drink and fruit juice.

Tamiflu seems to be making no difference. Maybe it's true what I heard someone say, "Five days flu with Tamiflu, five days flu without Tamiflu". What's the point? Only just-in-case, I suppose.

I am hoping her fever breaks because we will have to go back to the ped. clinic tomorrow if it does not, and she may have to have a drip - which she is going to hate of course. I must remember to packs lots of books and activites just in case we get stuck there all afternoon. I am supposed to go to the dentist tomorrow...

Meanwhile I have mostly been reading - a Where's Wally book! I got it for Amy at the library on Sunday, but of course she is in no mood to look for him. Also "The Myth of the First Three Years" a neuroscience/childcare/development book, and a new book arrived today, on the science and lore of the kitchen, which will sit on my kitchen shelf to be perused while pots boil.

Kanji is still here too, moping around, sleeping with Amy, eating, looking at websites. We all miss Lena like crazy - she went to Baachan's singing lesson with her, and they are not back yet! When she gets home, I should be able to amuse her with food and a bath to keep her away from Amy until bedtime.

Well I'm off to tend to my poor sick baby again

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Influenza Day One

When I picked up Amy from kindy today she was crying and complaining of a heachache and sore neck. Since Kanji was off at the doctor's getting a drip and Tamiflu for Influenza, I pretty much knew what it was, so she rested over lunchtime and we took her to the pedicatric clinic as soon as it opened at 2pm.

By this time her fever was quite high, and she was so listless she could barely walk. I got her home and settled on the sofa - right next to Kanji who was also sleeping off a high fever. She had vomited in the car, so I left her to rest for a while before giving her her Tamiflu, plus a cough medicine and a fever medicine. I SO WISH I had remembered to get the children's panadol while in NZ - I have run out, and it is far more effective that the low-dose rubbish they give us here.

But all in all, with that sore neck I am glad I am not in NZ - I would be beside myself worried about meningitis. What a relief to know that the deadly, virulent strains of meningitis aren't in Japan, in fact, you don't even hear about it at all. Flu seems a lot rougher though - and this year's strain has defied the vaccine-makers, and people who were innoculated are getting it too.

Lena is staying the night with Baachan. She is stronger than Amy, but she got Flu last time, so I need to at least try to keep her away.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hina Matsuri

Today we finally got to the Hina Matsuri, the Dolls' Festival.

Shoichi had invited us to come and see a flute perfomance in the factory. So we turned up around lunchtime, looked in at the amazing old doll collection, and stayed to listen to a few songs, performed by a man with South American pan pipes, and a woman with a guitar. They were Japanese, wearing Maya ponchos playing latin american folk songs in an ancient soy sauce factory. The kids managed to sit through several songs, with the help of a toffee apple each, before getting bored and having to get away.

I bought a card for Queen, we said hello to Yori, the kids were given a balloon each and we went across the street to where Mayumi was serving curry. Mayumi and me went drinking several times BB (before babies). She now has a five-month old son. We ate curry and salad and played with her baby.

Then a parade came along! I hadn't realized there would be a small parade today, it was a bonus after having to miss the last one due to Amy's asthma flaring up. There were three kindergarten groups, including one set wearing little prince and princess costumes, some rickshaws, including the rickshaw of the future pictured below, and finally the Hina Matsuri princess, dressed in all twelve layers of kimonos! She was beautiful and the girls were quite excited about seeing the princess!

The Princess in her carriage Posted by Hello

The 21st century Rickshaw Posted by Hello

Amy and Lena being the Prince and Princess Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Queen Nhkoma

We received a lovely letter from Queen.

Queen Nhkoma is a 14 year old girl living in Zambia who we are sponsoring. She has lost both her parents, her mother just recently, and is living with her aunt. Thanks to our support, she is attending school instead of having to quit to find work to live. It's nice to know that the little we give can make such a difference to someone's life.

I will write back and update her on our doings, get Amy to draw a picutre of her Hina Matsuri party, and send her a birthday card. Her birthday is March 31.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Peter and Rosa and Grace Hoikuen

Peter and Rosa came to play today. They have been in Germany since we got back from New Zealand, so we have not had a chance to see them for a couple of months, but they acted like it was only yesterday.

The good news is, we got Amy into Grace Hoikuen! Peter and Rosa go to Grace, and Amy will be in their class for as long as they remain in Nakatsu (they are moving back to Germany soon). Also, Grace is a Christian establishment, the only one of two in Nakatsu (the other being an orphanage), so Amy will learn some prayers and Bible stories and Christian festivals. Unfortunately though, she will miss Easter both this year, because it falls in March and she starts kindy in April AND next year, because next year Easter is in April - and she will already be attending public kindergarten by then. It's a shame, because, unlike Christmas, which is widely celebrated in Japan (although only the surace decoration), Easter is simply unknown, and not recognized at all.

Friday, March 04, 2005


is kindly helping me help her write a web page. She is full of great advice and has shown me how to do several things, including showing me that I do actually already have a web-page builder. She is a very youthful mother of four, who works nights in a snack bar and works on her computer during the day. So we have time off at the same time. I hope I can continue to learn from her

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hina Matsuri Party

Dolls' Festival is officially tomorrow, but today was the only day we were able to get together to have a party.

Traditionally Dolls' Festival is a family event in Japan, not a public one, and is celebrated at home with a small party. I got together with two of the mums from Amy's kindy, and we invited one of the teachers too.

We were going to have the party at another house, but at the last minute we changed to my house, as the first place was too far for the teacher to have time to come and then get back again for her afternoon's lesson. So what you see was the result of some very quick organization, shopping and cleaning!

The other mums had arranged the food already - we had fried chicken and sushi, and a sponge cake. I was bought drinks and sweets - we had a non-alcoholic version of the traditional white sake, and little sweet ball-shaped snacks.

Amy and Lena in their new party dresses Posted by Hello

L-R: Amy's kindy teacher Jessica, Amy, Lena, kindy friend Takumi, Maika and her mum, Takumi's mum and baby Eri Posted by Hello