Sunday, July 31, 2005

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

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Time gets away on me again

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

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Another one of those days...

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

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

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

Monday, July 18, 2005

Weird Dream

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

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

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

Sunday, July 17, 2005


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

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

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Harry Potter Day

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

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

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

Friday, July 15, 2005

Amy's first song

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

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A picturesque view of the rice paddies...

I remembered an Amyism, fairtly recent:

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

New Bedtime Routine

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

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

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

Monday, July 11, 2005


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

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

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

Dessert Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A movie day

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

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

Next up was Girl, Interrupted. Nice loony movie.

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

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Night Out

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 08, 2005

London bombs

We got an email from Chris this morning, and the chilling news that he was on a train at the time! He says he's going to blog it soon so here's the link:

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

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Unisys job

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

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

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Rich and Jess come to Again

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

bits and bobs

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

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

Monday, July 04, 2005

Art Class for Amy?

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

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

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

Amy Posted by Picasa

Lena Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

phew, finished!

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

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

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Lena sick!

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

Friday, July 01, 2005

New job

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

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