Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Standing II

No, no pictures yet, just to report 10 seconds today! She's getting annoyed at me standing her up, she wants to hold onto my hands and practice walking instead.

I'll post a vid of her raspberrying. Oh my, the excitement of life with a baby, you say! She can do a raspberry! But she's already stopped. Now she goes 'blublublublublublub" and flaps her arms. It means "I wanna play". How DO I know that????

Friday, May 16, 2008


She stood on her own for three seconds yesterday. Of course it's impossible to get this captured on film. But I swear, she did it, several times in fact. I will try to catch the impossible some time today!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Erica 7 months check

Erica had her 7 month health check yesterday. She's 67cm long and 8.9kg, on the heavy side, but below average height. So she's still a round ball. But a round ball that can move! She still loves her bath, as the video shows - she's racing to get to it. As she gets more proficient at moving, ironically, she gets more upset at me leaving the room.

She finally learned to roll over, after spending all these months lying on her back like a turtle and crying. She can crawl quite quickly, but still hasn't decided whether she'll use her left foot or knee, she kind of switches. She's pulling herself up to stand against my back as we speak. Anything will do, including a cardboard box the other day, which toppled over with her, much to her surprise and consternation. And she has the bruises to match this new mobility - several small knocks on her forehead that at first we thought were smears of pumpkin, her second favorite food after yogurt.

She's looking over my shoulder now. She's so proud of herself! It looks like it's quite exciting to get a view of the world a little higher up than before. I was reading somewhere the other day, ij someone's opinion babies live in a state of higher conscoiusness due to their constantly having that feeling we grown-ups only get now from climbing mountains and driving our cars too fast. Her face certainly reflects that when she grins with joy at seeing me after I've been gone (or even after I just look at her after she's been trying to get my attention) and when she completes some difficult action like taking a step, or pulling herself up to stand.

She's still a little shy of strangers, but better than before. Now, she leans her head on my shoulder to show her shyness. She does this to love-hug me too, which is so cute! I was just lying on the floor, and she crawled over to me, so thrilled to have me down on her level ready to play, and when she got to me, her head went to one side, only she missed me and it ended up on her shoulder. Now she's just messed up the laundry, so I guess I should get that put away before she totally wrecks my piles.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Weekend in Miyazaki

Golden Week just passed, and as usual we headed to Victoria's temple in the middle of the mountains in Miyazaki.

The highlight this time was a Buddhist baptism for the babies, and me wet nursing. Not at the same time you'll be glad to hear.

We all left at a comfortable late-morning hour on Saturday; me, Amy, Lena and Erica in Baachan's car and Kanji in mine. We can't all fit in one car!!! Besides, Kanji could only stay one night. We stopped at Toys'r'us in Oita and handed the kids some of their otoshidama (New Year's money) and set them free. Amy got a birthday party tea set for Mell, Lena got a Pretty Cure (Japanese girl-hero TV cartoon) electronic thingy and a HUGE stuffed dog. I got Erica some bath toys and I got some salt and vinegar potato chips for me.

We had lunch at Joyfull, bleuch, me and Kanji aren't very fond of Joyfull, but we decided we'd just stop at the next Family Restaurant, they are the best bet because of the varied menu. And actually the new Spring menu wasn't all that bad. Then we hit the road for the two-hour trip over narrow mountain roads to rural Miyazaki. There are probably more sane roads to take, but not on a holiday weekend, when the main routes are jammed. Amy only got a little nauseous towards the end, and was okay when we got her to switch cars and sit in the front of Papa's car. I wonder why I didn't think to get them to travel with him the whole way, now that I think of it! Just habit I suppose, I loaded them all into my car.

We arrived late afternoon, and after we got upacked we enjoyed the salt and vinegar chips with beer in Victoria's English garden with its croquet lawn and genteel seating. The kids disappeared pretty much instantly, they found Sahara and rocketed off to the fairy garden, only coming back to get some spelling advice for the sign for the fairy garden (No dogs because they run and break). They miraculously re-appeared when dinner did, and disappeared again not long after. I managed to snap a shot of them before they took off:

Dinner, in the larger back garden with its mature trees (and fairy garden) was pot-roast chicken made in a dutch oven, with potatoes and salad. Simple and simply delicious. I managed to eat, even though Erica was being fussy, with help from Kanji. We had New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to accompany the chicken. After we cleaned up, we all went up to the temple dining room for dessert - a cheesecake for Junsho's 50's birthday, lamingtons and champagne.

That night there was only us and one other family staying, so we slept in the tatami room attached to a out-building in the temple grounds. Normally another family with younger babies gets it, but they were not due to arrive until Sunday. Again, the children appeared just in time to be cared for, complaining of being tired, and they went straight to sleep. They were up before me in the morning and gone before I knew it.

We did yoga in the morning, then had morning tea up in Victoria's kitchen, with lamingtons I had made. I made lamingtons for the first time when Mum was here, after Erica was born, and I've made them several times since then. They are soooo delicious, and I am getting quite good at them. After morning tea, Victoria, Erica and I went shopping, the children scattered to the four winds, Kanji wandering around, not sure what he did...

We got back at nearly 1pm, in time for the Baby Naming Ceremony someone had booked at the temple at 1pm. While we were gone, Kristen and family had arrived, they have a six-month old baby. So we lined up all the babies in the temple, and after some chanting and a short speech, the babies were presented with a little sash and some prayer beads. It was quite spontaneous, and it was a lovely thing to do.

Kanji left after that, I got some lunch and took the baby for a nap. Meanwhile two more families arrived, and I woke up to all of the heading down to the river for a swim.

I quickly got Erica changed and headed down to the river as well. It was COLD! You can tell by the expressions on their faces! Erica only put her feet in, and I only went up to my knees this year.

Then we all piled back up to the out-building (Victoria has some name for it that I forget; I call it the school-room because it looks like an old one-room school or school hall; the kids call it the wheelchair room, because it has a wheelchair in it which is the focus for lots of their games!). There the girls all piled into the goemomburo, and old-fashioned Japanse tub, heated from below - if you stay in too long, you literally cook!

My theory is that all those explorers' rumours of cannibalism have their origin in lost sailors washing ashore in Nippon and being politely ushered to a nice refreshing bath before their dinner. I can just see the silly natives gesturing 'wash wash' and 'eat eat' and your average 18th century Englishman, who of course, would never have seen a bath before, forming quite the wrong conclusion.

Dinner was a barbecue, this time out the front of the temple between the main hall and the front gate with its bell. Meat, chicken, tuna sashimi (cut by me), potato salad, and more, I can't remember! Victoria made Sangria, which I had a few glasses of. However, I spent a little more time than I liked getting the baby to sleep. I tried to endure her fussiness through-out the meal, but I had to give in eventually, and take her up to sleep, this time in the main hall. Unfortunately, the balconies of the hall were being used as a race track by the other children and their radio-controlled cars! So it took quite some time to get her to settle (much as I wanted to yell and scream at every other kid there, I didn't think it was fair to stop everyone from playing and having fun just for one little baby), then she woke several times.

Finally she got to sleep quite soundly, once all the children had gone to bed, and I was able to come down to have a peaceful chat and a glass of champagne, which Victoria had cleverly left until the very last. By that time though, I was so damn tired I soon went to bed be woken by Amy vomiting in the middle of the night. At the time I thought it was tiredness, or something she ate, but now I think it was asthma, as she is coughing every night again. Unluckily she managed to spew on not just her futon, but Lena's too, so I had three blankets, two pillows, two pillow-cases and two mattresses to deal with. I cleared away all the soiled bedding. A friend woke to help me, and gave me a spare duvet, and fetched water, and my towel bag from the out-building (about 30m walk away in the dark!) so I could clean up, and make up a new bed. Then I had to lug all the soiled bedding down to the goemomburo bathroom to rinse it - if there's one thing I've learned it's to ALWAYS rinse the spew out at the time! (It feels great when you wake the next day and remember that all traces of spew were gone) Erica woke and started to cry while I was gone - thanks again to that lovely friend, Claire, who tried to soothe her while they waited for Mummy to come back!

Next morning we had a big bacon and egg breakfast together. Yoga again in the main temple hall, while I helped finish the breakfast dishes and started a load of washing. Erica took a nap in the corner of the main hall where the yoga was - and the same friend again tended to her when she woke while I was off finding the washing machine! I had to take the blankets to the laundromat, so I was keen to find friends to go to the hot spring with me. I figured I'd go there while the things washed, and I could put them in the dryer when we had finished washing ourselves.

Sahara came with us in our car, which was great as she helped with directions to the onsen, although she didn't know how to get to the laundromat. We met one other family there. Before we left, the next crisis happened - one of the kids fell down the stairs. She got a bloody nose, and while she seemed okay at first, her parents decided to take her to the hospital to make sure. I had passed them on my way home from the onsen - I thought I recognized the woman, and saw them turn into the hospital next to the onsen. I thought they had mistaken it for the onsen at first, then when they didn't come out, I thought I had been mistaken and went back.

They were at the hospital for several hours, and this is where the wet-nursing comes in. We didn't have any way to contact them and didn't know when they would be back. They had left their six-month old baby sleeping, but of course he eventually woke up. We fed him, we gave him juice, but after a while it was apparent that that was not what he wanted. Eventually I decided to have a go at feeding him. We were all talking about it, Victoria said she had always wanted to see what it was like to feed another baby, I was curious too, though I would like to think I did it more because we thought he was hungry and didn't know when his mother would be back. Anyway, he latched on with only a moment's hesitation getting used to the slightly different anatomy, and drank quite strongly, stronger than Erica, made me wish she would feed a little more efficiently like that. Or maybe he was just mega-hungry. He quickly went to sleep, and I got him off and put him to bed. Done. Now Erica has a breast-mate and I have a nursling.

Only one more crisis to go! We lost ALL the children. Well, not all of them, but six of them. They spent most of their time god-knows-where, and that was fine, but this time was not, because one girl had taken her four-year old brother, and also, I had told Amy only half an hour before that we were ready to go home. Then they disappeared. Not at the river, nor, thankfully, in it. Not in the fairy garden, not in the wheel-chair room, or in Sahara's bedroom. Nowhere! The came home eventually, after fruitless searching by me and Claire, taking turns going round and round the garden. They had been tramping through the rice paddies, led by Sahara (6), who at least knows where she is going, even if she doesn't realize how much Mummies worry!

Friday, May 02, 2008


She did it! Yesterday, May 1st, she started crawling. She's still not very fast or efficient, but that's okay, cos I need time to get used to this! Getting every little crappy piece of junk off the floor is not easy when you have two chaotic kids running around as well. I have to watch her like a hawk when they are home, and I'll have to start nagging them with even more force than usual to be careful where they drop their stuff. We have yet to see whether she'll use both knees or one knee and one foot like her sisters. She's also pulling up onto furniture, although she still prefers me!

I missed out how much she 'talks' and the words she understands. She knows all our names, and mostly looks at the right sister when their name is called! She also know 'bath' (no surprises there!) and 'splish splash', upon which she splashes the water. And 'kiss kiss' - she takes your face in her hands and sucks your chin or goobs all over your lip. Yuck, but charming all the same.