Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Break Picnic in the Park

We went for a picnic in the park. Just ham and tomato sauce sandwiches, yogurt, bananas, boiled eggs and a box of chocolates. Erica had a little play then I fed her and let her sleep in the car while I read a book and Amy and Lena played their hearts out. Everyone happy!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last Day

Of the school year, that is. Amy went off to school this morning with a sore throat, but she is finishing before lunch today so I think she'll be fine. Lena finished last Friday, I'll post more about that with photos. Erica is eating, but not terribly much, and trying hard to crawl, but she only gets as far as balancing on her hands and knees, with her feet tucked under her since she moves from a sitting position. I have one lesson today, and a whole HEAP of cleaning up to do, the house is an obstacle course again. Hopefully by tomorrow, the first day of the Spring Break, we will be all tidied up and ready to celebrate Erica's six months' birthday!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lena's Sixth Birthday Party

We had a party a week early because of Easter - we are going to an Easter party out of town on the day of her birthday. There were six party guests, plus three babies. Amy, Lena, Karin, Momoka, Maia and Shou. The cake (see below) is a Pinata Cake. Food included snacks and crudites with a cream cheese dip, a fruit platter, rice bubble cakes, Lena's favorite snack 'curls', jelly boats, choux cremes and jubes.

A Pinata cake, as the name suggests, is designed to be cracked open with a hammer, like a pinata! A cake with treasure on top (top) is concealed under a decorated chocolate shell (above). The Birthday Girl gets to smash open the cake! (below) . My chocolate shell cracked, so she really only had to knock the pieces over, but she was still happy.

Then we could finally put some candles on it! I had too much chocolate for the size of the shell, so it settled on the bottom of the bowl, making the chocolate very thick there, as you can see on the slabs of chocolate to the right of the candles. The proper cake is in the new Australian Women's Weekly cook-book (Maria has it, she did the pirate from it for Michael's birthday once when I was in NZ) .

Inside were eggs, Hershey's kisses and Marbles (Japan's Pebbles/Smarties/M&Ms), and Japanese money chocolate.

Party guest Momoka shows off her nasal party whistle-blowing skills! Later she did it with both nostrils.

Karin's birthday fell the day after the party, so I whipped her up a quick cake using the piece I'd cut out of Lena's cake. She got up and went and slapped both her parents. Odd way to react! I guess she was embarrassed, maybe she asked them not to tell, but we knew anyway, we've known her birthday since she was born...

Maia playing "Pin the Crown on the Princess". I drew the Princess, Amy and Lena coloured and decorated her. They soon got too good at it - feeling their way from the edge, feeling for where the crayon ended. But the first few go's were fun, with the crown ending up all over the place.

Pass the Parcel. Amy won, but the prize was a packet of mixed chocolates, so she shared. I also put a packet of jubes into each layer. We also played Musical Cushions - the first round got a prize, but then they played it over and over and over - no prize needed, that's just one fun game!

The babies. Yuuki, the baby born the same day as Erica is on the left, Erica is sitting on his Daddy's knee. And Marina, a month younger than the other two.

Marina's big brother Shou, a little shy of all the big girls!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spring Cleaning

And it's actually Spring. I wonder if I have an identical post from last year, didn't I begin then, to get the house ready for the baby?

Well this weekend it was the upstairs toy closet, having done the downstairs one last weekend. Amy is quite keen to help, as she likes the end result - a more comfortable home that's nice to live in. Probably because I walk around the house bitching about how awful it is when you can't walk from one place to another without feeling like you're going through an obstacle course. Or maybe because she likes to re-discover her toys, know where they are and have them easily extactable!

I threw out two bags of rubbish this morning, and have another waiting for the unburnable trash day. So, what did we achieve? We sorted the dolls, the Bratz and the Ponies into their own boxes, even sorted their clothes and accessories into boxes and containers within the boxes - Amy is really good at that part. Lena is not so good, she tends to swan around the room with some toy she has discovered, dangling off things and singing a little song, getting very little cleaning done.

We went through the stuffed toys box, and the girls surprised me with their willingness to part with toys they never play with. Amy even suggested putting them in a "New Zealand" pile, meaning for trademe. Expect some more Kitties Maria! It'll be my job sometime to go through the toy kitchen and clean it up for Erica. Amy and Lena got such joy out of it, I'll be happy to bring it down for her too, when she can walk. Then there's the dolls' house, which has been lost under a pile of junk for so long I don't think Grandma got to see it when she was here! After that there was a bunch of miscellaneous toys that could go in a box, but then they would never be played with, so I have them on shelves in the closet. Things like Mr Potato Head, the marbles, a radio-controlled car, wooden train set, ambulance and doctor set.

In the downstairs toy closet we now have a shelf for toys for Erica, and in the upper cupboard, shelves (actually shoe stands, but they were the cheapest shelving option I could find!) filled with the board games and card sets, and two boxes, one with puzzles, one full of Lego. There's also a box of playmobil and a box of 'outside' toys - skipping ropes, frisbees, etc. Phew! This house is gonna be SO clean when those kids grow up!

Next on my list after getting rid of the final piles of miscellaneous junk from that clean-up is ... the spare room. Again. I did a good job of it last year, the main problem is that the clear space in the centre gets full of rubbish that only goes out once a month, like cardboard boxes and piles of newspapers.

But! for now I have a plump baby to cuddle and play with. She's so happy first thing in the morning, she's sitting on her mat, grinning at me. Mum said Jo said I was in love with my baby. There's a good word in Japanese, oyabaka - 'oya' meaning parent, 'baka' meaning silly. To describe everything from excessive worry about illness to how adorable we think our own kids are (lines of videoing parents at school concerts) to the absurd things we'll do just to get a baby to smile! I'm gonna go and be an oyabaka now.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Easy Bit

Well I'm gonna rave again at how grown up my baby is, and how round and cuddly and cute she is. She's a little ball of sweet love. She's fat all the way to her fingers, which are triangular sausages. Her thighs are wider than they are long. She has two rubber-bands on her wrist. I still can't count exactly how many chins she has. Her hair is thinning a bit - it looks like she still has the same amount of hair as she did when she was born, only now her head is twice the size! But she still has a long lock on the top that I can tie up in a band or clip, which looks really cute!

Why are babies so endlessly fascinating? Well, your own baby anyway! I love watching her discovery the world. I let her grab bits of paper I know I shouldn't let her have, just to watch her face as she screws it up and discovers what it's all about. She happy for me to take things off her still, though I know that will stop, so it's only now that I can let her explore these more dodgy items, like my phone, and books!

She is sitting up very confindently now, and she loves it. I am aware that now is the time when I have it damn easy - she can't crawl yet, so she's stuck there in one spot, but she's ten times happier sitting up than lying down, and she's content to sit there on her mat, surrounded by her toys for ages and ages, bascially until she's ready to eat or sleep. In the afternoons when Amy and Lena aren't here, she gets a bit bored and wants to be picked up and wants to watch everything I'm doing, but as soon as they get home, she's quite happy to sit there, gnawing on one toy or another, in the same room as them, just watching them. I warned them they're in trouble once she starts crawling - she is not going to leave them alone for a moment! She ADORES them, she is so excited when they come home. She flaps her arms and goes 'oooh oooh' when she sees something exciting, including them. They play with her, let her pull their hair and grab their faces, and jump up and down for her, which makes her giggle. Having big sisters rocks!

She can get herself from sitting to lying on her tummy, but doesn't roll over yet. I think I'll have to confiscate the activity gym! Start putting toys temptingly beside her. She sits in a baby chair next to the table while we eat, and systematically grabs things off the table to examine, chew and discard. We're getting good at getting up a collection of things for her to take, but she nearly got the knife the other day until Lena whipped it away! Boy, I've gotta start being more watchful again!

I think her idea of heaven is breastfeeding to sleep. She just looks like the most contented angel when she lies in my arms, eyes closed, hands up on 'her' booby like it was a sandwich, sucking deep and strong and filling her belly. My baby heaven is when she smiles. She has one grin where she sucks in her bottom lip, one wide grin with open eyes, and a big happy open-mouth smile with screwed up eyes, her face showing just pure joy - and all I did was say Hello, come back from being out of the room for a few minues, or play a game with her. So our dual heaven then must be the 'suck suck smile' game, when she sucks, looks up at me, waits for me to notice her looking (I have to be looking away for it to work), then she smiles. A few weeks ago, this would cause her to lose her grip, and then after she smiled, she's burrow back in to re-latch, curling her body around me, diving down into my body - in fact, I surmised that that was what she liked about it, that moment of cuddling in and re-attaching, like that first moment of pure relaxation and relief when you finally lie down in bed at night and completely relax. But now she has learned how to keep holding on to the nipple while she smiles, which is a whole different kettle of fish!