Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas


My three girls wearing their new clothes from Santa. Papa was getting into the
Christmas spirit more than ever this year - he was the one who woke us all up with the video camera not long after six, wanting to catch the present-opening before heading off to work. I would have been happy to stay right where I was. Erica also had other ideas, and being a baby, got away with it and slept right through the proceedings.


Christmas sweets including Russian fudge balls, After-dinner mints and the Gingerbread house in the back, chocolates in the front, and on the small plates left to right, chocolate fudge, coconut ice, florentines and chocolate-covered coconut ice.

We got up and had our traditional ham and eggs breakfast, which always reminds me of childhood Christmases in New Zealand. I buy the nicest ham I can find, which is close, but not quite, a ham on the bone. We also had cocoa pops, a holiday/birthday treat in our household.

After breakfast, we tried getting hold of the NZ cousins to open their presents, but they were just about to eat lunch, so we opened them up anyway! Then I set to work, cooking, cooking cooking. It's good to keep busy, literally creating Christmas. Kanji came home and we had another round of present-opening, with our gifts to each other.



Amy with her new Littlest Pet and Lena with her new Mini Little Ponies, both presents from Grandma

Right, how to keep the baby from throwing Christmas dinner all over the room







I miscalculated the turkey, so our midday Christmas dinner, which I planned for 2pm, ended up at 4pm! We were quite hungry by then and sick of sweet treats, so we really enjoyed it.



It was so late it became the evening meal, and the kids all had a bath while I prepared the desserts.


Clockwise from left, trifle, steamed pudding and custard, Bailey's cheesecake, carrot cake Birthday cake, pavlova and Japanese Christmas cake. In the centre, the sweets from above plus a traditional Christmas fruit cake.
After dessert, I was checking the email, Kanji was watching TV, Amy and Lena were playing with their toys....the coast was clear for Erica to help herself to pav. She was stunned with the delights of strawberries and cream!

Christmas Eve party

Okay, so basically the same event as Kanji's birthday party, but there were a few extra Christmassy things that warranted a different post!

Santa came! He actually came to the door, singing 'Jingle Bells' (or rather his assistant played it on a tape) and handed over a gift bag with six little pressies in it - one each for the girls - hairclips and ties; a DVD for the family - Polar Express; and stone chocolates for Amy and Lena. What a nice surprise!















And not our only delivery that day - my boss also turned up, carrying a present for me - a scarf, and a Chrismtas cake - isn't this a darling little cake, with the gingerbread house on top?


After this, we prepared a snack for Santa, then watched the movie and headed off to bed to wait for the most exciting event - the REAL FATHER CHRISTMAS to arrive!

Dad's Birthday

His birthday is on December 25 but we always celebrate it on Xmas eve, with a party with curry and sashimi and beer! Please don't look at the doors behind, which Erica recently discovered. We will re-cover them for New Year.


What to buy for Dad! The girls got him small manga, or possibly game software figurines, I don't know I just know the name, Gundum. I got him guitar picks! Well, that's what he wanted.

His cake was a microphone, to celebrate his radio shows this year. It was a carrot cake and my first attempt at cream cheese icing, which is why is all looks a bit droopy and sad.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas



Here's our Christmas tree, with the table pushed against it to keep the baby away from it, and all the presents piled on the table. For reasons that will remain a mystery for eternity, the baby wasn't that interested in the presents, she preferred grabbing the holiday-packaged towels from the Post Office and absconding with them. I pretended to be cross but I was really more than happy that her Christmas obsession had taken that direction.

Here are the kids decorating the fake tree, which was shifted to the piano table after the real tree arrived, and Lena being a tree.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas

There's a turkey bone soup stock bubbling on the stove, enough turkey for at least ten more turkey sandwiches in the fridge, and even leftover pav and trifle. Christmas is not quite over, the kids didn't get their Mummy a present, but we're going out shopping now so they can buy me one! Amy apparently knows what I want.

Loot list! I have lots of photos to upload of course, but before I forget, I will list the pressies.

Kanji - For his birthday the kids got him a gundum figurine each, I got him guitar picks. For Christmas he got a calendar from me and gloves from the kids, and a beautiful Parker pen from Mum (my Mother)

Me - a portable DVD player from Kanji, though I think it's as much for him as well, so he can watch TV and put the Wiggles on for Erica. A scarf from my boss, luggage tags (nicer than that sounds) from Mum and a new beaded Christmas angel for my tree. Earrings and a Kiwi phone accessory and chocolate from my Bec and Jo, more chocolate from Chris and Deb, and finally, just now, a phone accessory from Amy and Lena and Erica.

We had a Santa visit on Christmas Eve and delivery a Polar Express DVD, and hair accessories for all three girls, and stone chocolate for Amy and Lena. Kanji gave them all clothes - a jacket each and a top.

On Christmas morning Amy and Lena got the same thing in their sacks - a calendar, a book, a dress, an apron, and doll's house furniture. In their stocking were diaries, a pencil set, huge eraser, blow-up snowman ball, bubble-bath body-paint, a snow globe, sticky tape gum, a snowman pencil, new chopsticks, chopsticks case and pencil, tissues and tissue cover for school, and 5 candy canes.

Erica got an elephant bath toy, stacking blocks, screwdriver set, toy car, gasoline stand, 2 books, a skirt and top. In her stocking were picture blocks, baby chopsticks, a white animal castanet, a snow globe and 2 candy canes.

From their siblings Amy got a beads art set, Lena got a robot dog, Erica got a mini magna-doodle and a toy shopping scanner. From Grandma Amy got some Littlest Pets and Lena got mini My Little Ponies. From the Gastauers Amy got Clickits, Lena got a unicorn in a bag, and Erica got a wooden teddy bear. From the Tomooka's they got a maze book.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Poetry Recital

Amy and Lena both recited a poem, written by themselves, today at the Keio Academy Christmas Presentation. Lena's was about Snowmen and Snow Queens.

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Amy's was about cookies.

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She Speaks!

Here's a list of Erica's growing vocabulary!

BA - bye bye

BA - bath

BA - ball

BA - boobies

and one Japanese word

BA = 'boo'

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In the Eyes of a Child

I Love my family and I like my frens and I Love my Doll's. it's samthing il nevr figet. and im Happy and sumtamem's saD. this is wot Lafi is sipos to Be. But pepil sumtumis rooin Lafi for evreoun. this is too saD. i can't bilev wot pepil Do. i wont to seave Lafi for evreoun. but i can't. becose i can't go oli arend the erfiy. But i can heop them bi giving many to them. that idere is ool arend the erfiy good. Amy(8)

Translation:

I love my family and I like friends and I love my dolls. It's something I'll never forget, and I'm happy and sometimes sad. This is what life is supposed to be. But people sometimes ruin life for everyone. This is too sad. I can't believe what people do. I want to save life for everyone, but I can't because I can't go all around the earth. But I can help them by giving money to them. That idea is all around the earth good. Amy (8)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

9th Wedding Anniversary




We went out last night for dinnner to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. This year, no kids, but we got the dreaded phoone call beofre the main course arrived! Lena had a fever, and Erica didn't have any nappies. Sigh. We convinced Baachan to hold the fort while we finished dinner - which took ages, because I think the chef went out and shot the bird for the coq au vin - in France.

However our plans to go to Tropicoco for a drink after, chat to Rachel about her wedding, and Raoul about the New Year concert that Kanji's band is perfoming in there, but we had to skip that.

It was delicious food, but too slow and not enough! I don't usually complain about small servings, as it allows you to have several courses, but the gap between the courses was so long that there was no chance to fill up. I think EITHER you have to have small servings, served fairly promptly in the Japanese way, so that the meal is completely over within the hour, OR you can take your time between much larger courses. But waiting AND small sizes just resulted in me arriving home hungry.

The wine was excellent though. A French Bordeaux, not as fine as NZ's chardies and savvy blancs these days, but damn good anyway!


I think the appetizers was my favorite! On the left, Kanji's choice, the duck liver pate, which was very good, and on the right, my choice, blue cheese with honey! Mum would have loved it!



Ceasar Salad. And yes, it was better than Joyfull's, although I think they both use the same dressing from Costco! But the croutons were better and the ham was gorgeous premium ham.

Above, Kanji's main choice, the fish, which was so tender and soft, served in a sauce with sea urchin. On the right, the Coq au Vin, also very delicious. I love those French sauces!




Above, I really wanted the creme brulee, but it was unavailable, so I went for this chocolate cake and 'purin' set. Those are berry puree drops around the edge, they were nice, but the purin was a bit bitter, and just didn't feel very special, since a similar thing is available for 100yen from any convenience store! Kanji's choice was more inspired, so I ate half of it. A poached banana, ice cream, and a divine caramel sauce.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ABC of you

A - Age: 37
B - Bra/booot size: 12 D, 10
C - Cats or dogs? (Or no pets?)no pets but I want a cat
D - Drivers License Weight - truth or lie? thank god we don't have to put our weight on our licence in Japan or NZ! But I would definitely LIE!
E - Emergency Room visits: one, age five, broken arm
F - Fruits or Veggies? fruit!
G - Google your exes? done.
H - Habla Espanol? only a few words
I - Ice Cream flavor? chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Plus chocolate sauce
J - Jobs you've had in your life: teacher, nurse aid, barmaid (six hours), door-to-door encylopedia sales (two days), jewellery store sales, asparagus picker (one day), research assistant for a former POW imprisoned by the Japanese in Changi, envelope stuffer, babysitter, proofreader.
K - Kindergarten teacher...do you remember his/her name? Mrs Spragg, but I prefered the other one whose name I've forgotten.
L - Loves you've had (yes..I know you love your kids and your pets...I'm talking IN LOVE): C,J,M, and no, C does not stand for Colin. A and G, sadly unrequited.
M - Manicures, pedicures, or neither: once in a blue moon, done myself
N - Nap? If I can!
O - Oceans you've swam in: Pacific, Pacific, Pacific.
P - Person you would LOVE to meet: Obama
Q - Question you'd like to ask your baby/pet/someone in heaven - Will you admit it's bad for you NOW?
R - Republican, Democrat, or whatever: Green baby, green
S - Smoke (now, then, never)? then, lots, now, sadly on occasion
T - Type with fingers on the "right" keys? all the correct keys!
U - University, College, or none? university
V - Vacations planned: NZ in spring, Mediterranean cruise very soon I hope!
W - Weight you'd like to be a year from now: 58
X - Xcited? no, pretty subdued actually
Y - Younger men/women or older men/women: older men, 40 sounds good!
Z - Zoos you LOVE: Singapore Zoo

Another meme - these things are addictive!

Outside my window...lies my garden, lawn freshly murdered by the gardener. Okay, if I made more effort to care for my 'lawn' this wouldn't happen, but still...
I am thinking...that I should get another cup of tea before I have to go to work.
I am thankful for...everything and nothing.
From the kitchen...chocolate fudge, I messed up the first batch, perfected the second, and now I can't repeat the miracle.
I am wearing...pink t-shirt and brown pants, exaclty the same as my baby, oops!
I am creating...a Christmas card to send to my family.
I am going...out to dinner this weekend with my husband, as soon as I find a nice place to go!
I am reading...Sazae-san, Annabel Langbein, Star Trek manual, a novel called 'Spirit Writing' by an NZer with Asian theme, "Sophie's World" - philosophy lite, three NZ magazines - Little Treasures, Memories, Cuisine; a parenting book; Christmas magazines and books; and an art book in the toilet!
I am hoping...to get more work soon
I am hearing...that the fuel surcharges might go down again - too late for me, but fingers crossed anyway
Around the house...are piles of stuff that I must must must be rid of by Dec 31
One of my favorite things...NZ sauvignon blanc, sitting BESIDE my fridge because I don't know if could resist drinking it if it was chilled.
A few plans for the rest of the week...make coconut ice, send Christmas cards, vacuum my bedroom,
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...

In a Word...


1. Where is your cell phone? floor

2. Where is your significant other? work

3. Your hair color? brown

4. Your mother? work

5. Your father? heaven

6. Your favorite thing? chocolate

7. Your dream last night? sleep

8. Your dream/goal? SOMEthing

9. The room you're in? study

10. Your hobby? books

11. Your fear? flying

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Mediterranean

13. Where were you last night? sofa

14. What you're not? empty

15. One of your wish-list items? neatness

16. Where you grew up? hara

17. The last thing you did? breastfeed

18. What are you wearing? jeans

19. Your TV? CNN

20. Your pet? spider

21. Your computer? crap

22. Your mood? medium

23. Missing someone? plenty

24. Your car? tiny

25. Something you're not wearing? shoes

26. Favorite store? sussan

27. Your summer? o-matsuri!

28. Love someone? naturally

29. Your favorite color? green

30. When is the last time you laughed? now

31. Last time you cried? October

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ice Skating



First Ice Skating of the season! Amy and Lena are starting to really love it, and both are getting quite good too, at least they no longer need to hold on to the rails the whole time. In fact, I spent too much time off the ice taking care of Erica (more on that later) that she far exceeded me and WON when we had a race later in the day. And no, I wasn't being easy on her! In fact I went at it hell for leather and fell on my bum. But even when I wasn't falling over, I still couldn't catch up to her!



Of course Erica couldn't go on the ice, so she stayed at the sidelines, having great fun dancing, playing peek-a-boo, getting carried around by her Daddy, and playing with a little dog. Taht is, until she chased said dog down a flight of steps - and Daddy was too slow to catch her. She took it in the face, and her nose bled too, the only injury of the day! I was surprised that the office had nothing resembling a First Aid kit, and had trouble even finding us tissues. I mopped up the nose with a nappy I just happened to have in my pocket. More providentially, who should turn up in the locker where I took her to feed her and calm her down, than the pediatrician! Not out main one, but the spare one who goes to the same clinic on busy days to help clear the back-log. He said she'd be fine, just needed some antibacterial cream on her cuts.

Scarecrow soccer

There is a scarecrow festival in Yamakuni. There's not much going on in this tiny mountain village, whose claim to fame is a skating rink and a famous chicken dish at a road-side restaurant. So they invented this annual scarecrow extravaganza. For several years there's been the odd few scarecrows in a field near a restored country cottage, but they really outdid themselves this year, with scarecrows all over the place, fishing from the river, sitting outside shops, and here, a whole game of soccer complete with cameramen and supporters.





Erica was very confused and frightened by these beings that resembled people, but had no faces. How scary for a little baby!

We also stopped here for a photo op while on the tour for the AFWJ mini convention.






Monday, November 24, 2008

Hadaka Matsuri - Naked Festival


That's Kanji above in the dead centre, half naked in the freezing river. The mikoshi, or portable shrine, is in the river behind him, and at this point in the proceedings, all the participants are offering a prayer to towards the shrine before moving on again. I do have a closer photo, but it's a little too revealing! Suffice it to say, he looks quite good in a fundoshi (Japanese loin cloth). And they are, as you can see, nowhere near naked, they get to wear a shirt as well, though that probably makes them even colder, as they get that shirt wet but are only up to their waist in the water most of the time.

The festival is 1200 years old, but this river crossing is 'only' 900 years old. Story goes that for some reason they were unable to get the mikoshi across the bridge, so they had to take it through the river. On Friday they take it to the shrine across the river, on Sunday they take it back home.


Left, the massive taiko drum, and on the right, the biggest straw torch in the world - it's set up in the actual river, and is lit with a flaming arrow.



Above left, the group entering the river with the mikoshi. On the right, a better view of the mikoshi itself. Kanjj's wearing a white headband, after that, you're on your own, your guess as good as mine. I was lucky to find him at all for the picture at top, while I was snapping that, I was trying to point him out to Lena and a friend, neither of whom could pick him out!


Amy decided not to come. She was comfortably ensconced under the kotatsu (heated table) at Baachan's coloring a picture. I think she regretted that decision later on. Here are Lena and Erica mesmerized by one of the bonfires.



Kanji finished and exhilarated! We were lucky to meet up with a friend who took a photo of us, crowded at the river's edge waiting for them to come up out of the water.

Erica dancing to the taiko drum:

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Entering the water:

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The taiko drum and massive torch - sorry for the sideways angle, I'm not sure how to realign movies off my camera - if anyone knows, please teach me!

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