Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Erica says goodbye.

Can I complain about the heat again? No? Sorry, I'll try not to mention it.

Up with the birds this morning, or rather with the cicadas, who make a racket early on a summer morning. We had to get to 'rajio taiso' the radio exercises that we have to do with the kids from school every morning in the summer holiday so that we keep our early-to-bed, early-to-rise school-life rhythm (we are the only ones who go to bed early, 10 or 11 is more common in Japan).

Erica and me made it too this morning, Erica stood there like a stunned mullet leaning against my knees. I actually like the feeling of stretching my body. The back to the house to do a load of laundry and vacuum before it gets too hot. I have to do these jobs early in the morning before we turn on the air conditioning, because using one more big ticket electricity-guzzler along with the air conditioner causes the fuses to blow. And switching OFF the air conditioning to do a heavey job like vacuuming is sheer hell!

We have a busy day ahead with a 10am appointment for Erica to get a vaccine, Lena's teacher coming at 1:30 for a parent-teacher interview here at the house. Poor teacher, she has to visit everyone in this heat! Then work at 4pm. In between there's baby care of course, egging the girls on to do their summer homework and sorting out stuff to bring to NZ.

I have packed the clothes, the good thing about the change of seasons is that I can completely pack without disturbing our current wardrobes - I usually have to watch out for the girls wearing clothes I had meant to take, and carefullytiming the final laundry load to make sure the pyjamas and jeans get in!

Erica is walking very fast now, and just walks up and down, up and down endlessly all day, picking things up on the way and eating them - beads, old pieces of toast, tissues, erasers, blocks and pieces of the Wiggles puzzle, she seems to like the Big Red Car the best.

She can point, and does so exclusively with her left hand. She claps, and she says Goodbye! She learned to clench and unclench her fist several days ago, and wandered around the room doing it and saying 'bra bra bra bra bra bra bra'. I thought for a moment we could designate it as 'breastfeeding' as it kind of resembles expressing! But Erica herself used it to say goodbye on Sunday to some guests who were leaving. She toddled out to the genkan after then clenching and unclenching those fat little fists and saying the words. She is so proud of herself.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Oh My God!

It is SOOOOOOO hot. You would not believe it, not Rebecca and Jo who were here in June or Mum who was here in September. It's shockingly, depressingly, hot. We are all exhausted, sweaty and irritable. Everyone has splotchy red faces and purple rings under the eyes. We are all covered head to toe in sticky prickly sweat and mosquito bites. My girls thought I was certifiably mad washing woollens yesterday, but there were a few sweaters and things I wanted for the blessed, sweetly anticipated WINTER! Right now the only thing putting me off looking forward, madly, to a NZ August, is the fact that the thought of warm things like socks, blankets and sweaters touching my body makes my skin crawl.

I forgot to pack socks. Well, I have a few items on the bed waiting to be bagged for packing, things I got up at 5:30 in the morning to sort, as touching woollens during the heat of the day is so off-putting! I figured I'd throw the underwear in next week when I actually pack (as opposed to just piling things on the bed) but I had totally forgotten about socks. I don't think I've worn one for three months. Kanji still wears them everyday.

Amy and Lena have prepared carry-on bags with some activities, but I don't think there's enough for them yet. They'll also have a pullable suitcase to carry on. Amy is counting down the days. 8 days to go guys!

Erica is adorable at the moment. I know I did this with Lena too, I always think NOW is the perfectly cute age. She babbles, and waddles and smears Marmite toast all over herself. She managed to get some mulched toast in her armpit the other day. She's had diarrhea for a week, but seems to have come right now, and we will take her in for a vaccination on Wednesday.

Right now it's Saturday, the first day of the Summer Holidays. I have promised them McDonalds and the movie Enchanted if we sit down and do as much summer holiday homework as possible. I want to do this to them everyday until we leave so they have as little as possible to do while we are in NZ. Now we just have to heave through two more hours of heat, then I'll fill a cool bath to get us all clean, we'll pop out to the restaurant (does a McD deserve that name?) and come home to a cool evening to watch the movie.

Not Dancing

A fascinating study of a baby decidedly NOT dancing.

That's better! You could call it dancing I suppose.

Friday, July 04, 2008


While I turn the house upside-down searching for winter clothes and wooly hats to pack for NZ, in Japan the weather keeps heating up. We've already had our first visit to the beach! It's a beach in Shiida called Hamonomiya, which means 'Beach Shrine', and there's a shrine next to it. Like almost all beaches in Japan, it has a sea wall about two storeys high to prevent tsunamis, that's it in the background, it's higher on the landward side as the sand seems to have piled up against it, making a fairly nice beach.

Only one problem at this beach - there was a kind of stream running down to the water, and it made the sand really muddy - like quicksand. It was impossible to cross it, only it was nearly impossible to tell if the patch of sand in front of you was quicksand or solid enough. I lost my jandal, and, holding Erica, I couldn't get it out again! Amy managed to get it out for me, but it broke. After that we had to get to the sea over the rocks, which were sharp with broken oyster shells. I limped along on one jandal. We only persisted because we wanted to wash off all that mud! Finally we got there.
Above: mud-streaked feet; Erica's first paddle in the ocean. Below, the girls contemplate the horizon; Erica examines a muddy finger while negotiating the rocky beach

We ended the day, as usual, in an onsen (hot spring bath). This one had real roses in the bath!

Sticker Baby

Because all little ones love stickers. Erica discovered the joys today!

Amy off sick

Amy's Playmobil set-up - including safety features to stop Erica destroying it all! Erica keeps pulling the leather bobux shoes from the drawer and chewing on them.

Ball Baby

Erica fell in love with the big beach ball Lena found in the spare room! She also likes that little plastic fish. All are incentives to take a walk, not that she needs incentives, she practices her walking all the time. Even when she's crying and trying to get to me, she still stands up and walks rather than crawls, even though her crawling in still faster! I think she feels closer because she's higher up so she keeps standing. That drive to walk really amazes me though, how she just gives it more and more and more. It seems to be having the opposite effect on her sleeping though - she is not sleeping very well lately!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Toddler Time

And then suddenly overnight, you have a toddler. At least she's a stupendously CUTE toddler. She's so short and fat and she waddles around the place, and she tries to run, or at least rush and gets a few steps before she falls flat on her face. I watched her today as she got up, balanced, put her arms up, elbows to her ears, took a few rushed steps, and plonked down, looking directly to me as if to check whether she's supposed to be upset now. And I smile and say "Hello darling!" and she grins from ear to ear and goes all silly then gets up and tries again.

She's the baby just looking for trouble! Literally, crawls in, turning her head from side to side looking for 'fun', which is baby-ese for 'trouble'. Eating tissues, keys, pens, and erasers. Pulling all the newly folded laundry off the table. Chewing on the mouse pad and mouse of the laptop and turning off the desktop computer. Pulling a pair of jeans hung on a hanger onto her head. Examining the toilet, climbing into the bath and climbing the stairs if someone leaves the living room door open. She's got up as far as four steps so far. Oh, and every now and then, she plays with her toys.

She's discovered the delights of pushing a toy stroller, with the stuffed tiger in it, which she found just hilarious. Giggling when she gets an airplane rides from her Mummy, which serves to distract her from whatever other trouble she's found. Giggling at me when she's breastfeeding, looking up at me and waiting for me to raise my eyebrows at her, which for some reason she thinks is the funniest thing ever. Giggling when she's tickled.

Lena meanwhile is sick with vomiting and diarrhea, although the diarrhea part is just hypothetical at the moment. So she's off school and it's not easy trying to discourage Erica from touching her. Amy is waiting excitedly for her piano lesson, because she LOVES piano now that she is good enough to play pretty tunes. It took some headaches and persistence to get this far, I am so relieved we stuck it out. Lena's just coming through a rough patch.

Right now they are writing a song for Ralphie. I'll try to get them to record it for posterity and upload it for you.