Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rakuichi Rakuza


If anyone has hung in long enough to still be around for it, here it is! Finally I am making an attempt to catch up. Don't stop here - check back on posts for the last few weeks, as I will be retrospectively catching up bit by bit.

Okay, catch-up:

KANJI is finally, after many a long year, almost regularly coming home at 5pm. Wow, what a different life. Ironically I am seeing less of him, as he seems to be catching up on five years of lost sleep by going to bed at 8pm every night! Every day he buys fish off the guy who comes around on his scooter selling fish, and he comes home and we cook together. We are starting to get into a kind of routine, although things have been messed up lately by his coming home early, which tends to make the kids go crazy, and the new bunk beds. I have two evening lessons a week, so, so far it looks like I will be doing baths after dinner while he lingers over dinner, then I go up to read a book (We are reading Anne of Green Gables at the moment) and then leave them to it. So I end up with less reading time, because I had got into the nice habit of having an uninterrupted half hour or so reading by book-light while the kids settled. Now Kanji has a pile of books upstairs by the bed... The kids bounce in and out of their bunks, which is nice, because I miss them. Sometimes I put them back in the bunks, sometimes I don't. I am pretty sure that once they are happy in their bunks and have no interest in snuggling up with Mummy and Daddy, I will be very nostalgic for the good old wall-to-wall family bed days!

ME - Around nine regular lessons a week - I could do more, but right now I am concentrating on getting the house organized. I have had a headache for two months. First I thought it was a cold, then 'natsu-bake' or summer-exhaustion, which you don't get in NZ cos it never gets hot enough! Then a brain tumour, of course, but now I am convinced they are tension headaches, and what I need is a new pillow, a massage, a computer chair, less time on the sofa, more exercise (ironically I stopped swimming because of the headaches) and a better posture. We'll see how this works out this week. I have back pain too, so I might go to the osteopath or try acupuncture, anything ahead of going to the hospital and paying buckets of cash for loads of tests!

AMY - All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth! Yep, they are both gone, plus one on the bottom. She seems to have no problem eating though! She just had her school sports day, which is a BIG DEAL here in Japan, held on a Sunday, with everyone brining a picnic, school grounds crowded, everyone jostling for the best video-camera position. Check out pics on Oct 15. She is still swiming, and loves it. Wants to learn piano, but we need to buy one first. We will get an electric one, not an organ, but a new 'piano touch' keyboard. Still loves to draw - her pictures are so good now that sometimes people assume I drew them.

LENA is practicing for her ballet concert. She is excited about it, but doesn't seem to make the connection between practice and the concert. For some reason she is in only one dance, but that means I save $100. Kindy is going okay - she is getting a little tired of it, I think. It's not the most fun kindy in the world - they do concentrate on academics a bit much, but they feel they have to to produce the results the parents expect for the money they are paying. She can hang in until April I am sure.

What are they doing now? They dressed themselves exactly the same this morning, right down to shoes, which Amy especially washed so they would be the same. Now they are playing volcano - using the skipping rope Amy got as a present from her kindergarten for the school sports day. They tie the toys to it, then run up and down the stairs with one holding each end, 'saving' them from the volcano. I am still in my pyjamas, as I vowed to do this before anything else! I will get dressed now, have a cuppa and continue to sort my magazines. 10am we will go to the nearby festival, and come back around 11:30 for a lunch of minestrone soup with crusty bread and cheddar cheese. Then I have to go to work, and Amy will go back to the festival with Aunty Mie to join her art class and draw pictures of the festival. I finish at 6pm, and I am hoping the kids beg to stay at Baachans, so I can go to the onsen and get a massage!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lena holding the parasol for Papa

Amy dancing at left, and below, as the 'anchor' for the festival float-pulling team. Her job was to run up to the float with the paper-trimmed staff, and whack it on the ground in front of the float - the prompt for the team to start to run.

Above, Amy being pushed in a cart as part of a team relay with 5th years.

Left, taking part in the final group dance to the 'Nakatsu' song, and below, running in a race. She came 2nd, or maybe 3rd.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I got them! Kanji and I went in the van and picked up the nice bunks I found in the second-hand store, quite by fluke. When we started to load it into the car, we realized it had quite a strong moldy smell, but it was a very light surface of dust rather than actual mold. I had planned to get it set up in time for the kids to get home from kindy, but we had no time, I had to leave it in the van. Kanji took Lena to kindy this morning, and I thought she would have no idea what it was, and would easily believe him when he said it was something for the Stand, but he said she saw it an immediately said ‘Is that a bunk?’. So she spent an exciting day at kindy waiting to get home to the new bunk!

I picked up Amy and told her I had a surprise for her – and we went to the Stand and peered into the van and she also twigged right away. We took the pieces out of the van at the Stand to wash them, then we worked out how it fit together. Then I loaded up the kids in the van and off home we went, where I got it upstairs and put together in about half an hour! We were getting pretty excited by then, but our work was not yet done – next stop was the stores to get mattresses, new quilts and bottom sheets, so as to make a nice, crisp new bed top and bottom.
That night the kids were itching to get into bed! It was very exciting for them, although Lena was still a bit anxious. At one stage last week she had decided that she didn’t actually want a bunk after all, when she learned that she had to sleep in it alone. But I had to work tonight, so Papa did the honors, and snuggled up beside her.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Emily's Birthday

Today we went to Yamaga for Emily’s 6th Birthday Party. There were seven little guests, and four mothers. The kids, as they do these days, took off by themselves, upstairs, outside, occasionally inside with us, but all around devising their own elaborate little games. There were no official party games, but they didn’t notice! There was a lovely Barbie cake with chocolate and banana layers, a sushi cake, apricot slice, ginger muffins, potato chips, mini jellies, and cheese – Lena ate about twelve cheese balls and six mini jellies!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Takumi's last day

Takumi did come today, which was nice. Only for an hour, since they were so busy. We just played Lego, ate donuts and nothing much else, then it was time for them to go. Maia is no well, so they only dropped by for a minute, but missed them. Mom Emiko got a bit teary as she left, poor thing, it must be such a stress having to just pack up and go just like that. But they are not going far, and we promised to come visit them soon.

After that, we went for a look at a karate class. Kanji's cousin teaches the class, and his two young children (about 8 and 6) are in the class. We kept asking Amy and Lena if they wanted to give it a try, but they had no idea what we were talking about so we took them tonight to see. Lena thinks she would like to try, she certainly enjoyed trying to kick when we got home! Amy was not so sure, as she felt quite shy when all the class turned and looked at US instead of us looking at them.

Karate is good physically, of course, but also teaches them good manners, and respect and humility. They spend the last half hour of the class cleaning. Japanese are still very keen on the virtues of children up after themselves. I find I quite agree - and at this age, they think it's such fun, how can you not get them cleaning? Now is the time, before junior high school starts and they have no time to breathe, let alone do chores.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Lena's First Swimming Lesson

More Used Shopping

I got Kanji to look up some places in the phone book, and set off to further my quest to find cheap furniture. The first place I went to was a big, quality place, selling lots of character toys, used clothes (with price tags as high as new clothes in a budget store!) and some furniture. I scoped out a superb wee box - hard to explain, it's a a three-drawer set of drawers about 40cm high, with an attached, fold-out desk, made to fit in a Japanese tatami room. I am thinking about would make a nice writing table for me...could keep my nice pens and paper, envelopes and stamps in it...hmm...

I also saw two chests of drawers for 15,800yen each - same price as the new ones in the Nissen catalog, but much better quality, more solid wood. But no beds. I also bought some Kitties, gulp, some McDonald's collector's item kitties. I'll send them home in time to sell for Christmas.

Finally I went to another store, as far removed from the first bright and clean shop as you can imagine! A cluttered yard on a country road, with a dog tied up. A house and several sheds packed to the rafters with dusty junk. I squeezed through one shed, and just said in passing as I walked out, 'You don't have any bunks, do you'. 'Yes, I have' he answered, and took me to another shed, where there was a bunk set, in pieces, but with all the screws and quite clearly better quality wood than the ones in the furniture store. 7000yen.

So, all I need now is to get the truck and pick the stuff up! From 120,000 yen to 51,000. I will send photos as soon as the room is done! Now, back to getting that spare room cleared out - again!