Sunday, February 22, 2009

Valentine's Day

I know, it's a whole week late, but we did have a very nice Valentine's Day! The weather was superb, so the kids played outside most of the day, coming in just long enough to get Daddy's chocolate ready. We chose a very simple method of using lollies and things to decorate a plain block of chocolate.

I made the blue one.
Amy had other ideas though. She melted a block of chocolate, then dripped it onto a cooking sheet to make a chocolate cookie, decorated with silver balls and other sweets.

Amy's and Lena's efforts. Lena made the white one, slightly adapted from the book we were using, and Amy did hers freestyle. They are decorated with marshmallows.

Here Amy and Lena are copying an old photo of me sitting at our kitchen table, bathed, pajama'ed and ready for bed, hands together in a little prayer. So here are MY little angels. Right, the table ready for our feast - we had crumbed chicken nuggets, potatoes and gravy for dinner, followed by chocolate fondue. We were utterly unable to make a start on the other chocolate, which all went back in the fridge to pick at over the next week.

Dad with the girls, and me with the girls.

OH MY GOD YUM!!!The chocolate fondue went extremely well with Bailey's. The fondue was delicious, and I did NOT use the Ghana chocolate or the recipe that comes with this set, I used another double chocolate fondue recipe I found in a magazine. We ate it with bananas, strawberries and green tea castella (madeira cake). Yes, green tea! I had recieved the castella a while ago and froze it, and defrosted it on the day. I had no idea until I opened it just before we ate that it was green tea flavored! Never mind, it was delicious.

Making me Smile

Life with a baby is so fun! Sorry to gush, but accentuating the positive is my way of coping. I don't care what anyone says about the stress and frustration and tears and time and money spent, one thing is for sure - you smile and laugh more with a toddler in the house! Erica's at a stage where her unselfconscious silliness has all of us rolling on the floor laughing. We decided she's way better than TV, as we ate our dinner and watched her singing and dancing and doing silly stuff in her highchair. All you have to do is look at her and gets this cheeky grin like she's anticipaing more fun. All along, we have all responded to her pressing our belly buttons like it was a laughter switch, and there I was, convinced I'd fooled her into thinking that's what belly buttons are for...then the other day, while getting dressed, she found her belly button. She pressed it, making a 'pshht' sound like the fake 'button press' sound I make, then let out a totally fake 'ha ha ha ha' laugh. So she knew we were fooling her all along.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Try this: Type "(yourname)likes to" into google and report back on the first ten hits. Oh, and take your name off the blog, if you don't want to keep hitting your blog again next time!

Me, well I...

...likes to keep her two lines of work separate. But I never forget that she’s a teacher when we’re hanging out after hours.

...likes to "boo" the "bad rhinos"!

...likes to just try underwear on in the middle of the store

...likes to play around with her look

...likes to sing and make up funny songs using the tunes of old familiar songs and adding goofy lyrics

...likes to ride her bike, play tennis, and hang out with her puppy Brewster

...likes to write about silly things that she has no idea is people will read or not

...likes to cook. and sew,

...likes to keep her private life private but she was starting to let her guard down with Deputy Head Eddie Lawson.

And my darling husband!

...likes to stir the pot

...likes to have fun all day, he just loves to play and play!

...likes to laze in the sun, but he still loves having fun!

...likes to sew and do various crafts but takes up acting tough in order to seem more manly.

...likes to cook, clean, and sew. ...

...likes to make up fake riddles and when someone gives and answer that could be correct he says that they are correct

...likes to laze about with him widdo tongue stickin out a teeeensy bit.

...likes to play soccer, it is basically the only thing he does besides talking

...likes to train, eat dumplings, play soccer and winning

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Health Report

Amy - fine and symptom free, on the inhaler Furutaido/Flixotide twice a day, and the Japanese medicine Onon, which is an anti-allergy medicine they hand out here for asthma. We got her blood test results back and she is not allergic to anything, including dust and bed-bugs, the biggie I was afraid of as having an allergy to that would mean doing a lot more vacuuming! Not to mention big guilt-trip for not doing very much vacuuming to date. For some reason the doctor turned around from explaining that Amy didn't have any allergies, and prescribed another month of anti-allergy meds. Maybe there's something else about that drug that I don't know. It seems to keep some of the symptoms at bay, but is that just addressing the symptoms, but not the underlying issue? Anyway, she's on the furutaido, which is a preventer.

Lena is also on a month's supply of onon, and it does work to keep her coughing down, and her very, very runny nose in the morning. I wonder if she has a dust allergy, probably we all have a mild one, and I really, really should vacuum the bedroom, and the beds, more often.

Sadly, little Erica has joined the procession at drug-time after dinner. She too has mild asthma, which is what really makes me think it must be my lousy housekeeping, or the cars, or the pollution. Onon for Erica too! And some cough medicine and another one to take away the phelgm. Again, all this addressing of symptoms that makes me mildly concerned. I think her doctor (she's going to the pediatrician, Amy and Lena are still at the hospital) expects it to go away naturally, as so many children's asthma does. I hope so too.

And me, I had a filling removed because it was causing the gum underneath to become inflamed. No cavities, just swelling, and I'm taking antibiotics for two days (two days???) until I go back to have a new filling put on. At least it's not a root canal.

Kanji is fit as a fiddle. At least someone is! Okay, off to dose everybody up!

Erica's Lunch

Holiday Report

Thank God for big sisters! It's a warm day, a little overcast and windy, but not enough to stop kids. I'm trying not to think too hard about what Erica's getting up to out there with her sisters. Apparently it involves the creation of a water-fall under the pine trees.

Lena bringing water for the waterfall's pool. She may be doing mucky kid-work, but you can't take the princess out of her! She actually didn't get dirty at all.

They watch her, and are both especially diligent about not letting her put anything in her mouth, but unlike her scaredey-cat helicopter Mum, apart from that they pretty much let her be to explore, so she has a wonderful time out there with them.

This is only the start, it got much worse than this!

I'm trying not to think about the creatures out there either, or rather thinking about the grasshoppers and ladybugs, but not the centipedes and snakes. It's bad enough inside - I stood on a slug yesterday. I felt something wet on my sock and noticed the slime trails on the carpet moments before seeing it sqished among my toes. I just about scared Erica out of her skin screaming and jumping around and whipping that sock off inside-out so it wouldn't get away.

I threw out the socks.

Amy doing dishes. She's been dressed for summer all day, she's quite sure she isn't at all cold!

Big sisters are also good for getting a sleep-in. Erica climbed onto Lena's bed this morning, then they took her downstairs while I slept on! I needed it, as I went out last night, just for a few hours, for a birthday dinner. $10 for all-you-can-drink, and starting at a reasonable 9pm, after the kids got to sleep. I was home before midnight but stayed up watching American Idol and eating cheese on toast.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hospital Photos

The first night in the hospital, when we were alone in a two-bed room. Erica was with us that evening. Amy was still quite happy at this stage, especially with Erica there to amuse her. And being the only ones in the room, we could let Erica run around. The next day, in the four-bed room, the door was often left open so we had to keep chasing her or trying to hold her - not easy at her age! But after a few days, we felt more comfortable in the room, more like it was 'our' room and less like we were intruding on others' space. Especially after all the kids there when we came left, and new kids came. Then I felt like I could go up and shut the door, open and shut curtains, turn lights on and off.

Lena was left with the difficult task of taking care of three of the dolls at home. Mell-chan went to the hospital with Amy.

The kid in the other bed. He was five, and the child of a woman who owns a bar I used to frequent before we were married! I didn't recognize her at first out of her night-time make-up. Amy and Takuma made friends and played with dinosaurs, but he preferred his hand-held game and she preferred her coloring. I hope you can get some sense of how small the room is from this photo - a wall on the far side of Takuma's TV, and Amy is standing right in front of the second bed.

Amy on her bed. Her space goes from that curtain to the window on the far side of the TV table. Her lunch tray is on the table. She liked the meals, but got a bit sick of them. I made her a mince pie on Thursday, and bought her McDonald's on Saturday, and also brought her fruit, yogurt, and chocolate cake (the one she's making in the video below where Erica is dancing to the mixer). You can also see her Pokemon pillow. I brought the pillow from home as the only one they provide is a little hard sack of grain. I also brought a bottom sheet, as they only change the sheets once a week, and her favorite blanket, the yellow one. You can see these in teh photo below. I also had to bring chopsticks and other cutlery and even a glass for her water. Also, all our own tolietries. The only thing they provide is water, hot and cold, but you have to go get it yourself in the kitchenette. We also had to bring our own towels.

Extra Hours

You know how some days you complain that the day is just too short, and you wish you had an extra 3, 6 or however many hours?

Well today it feels like I got that extra six hours.

After over a week of rushing, and fitting things in between trips to the hospital, I can't quite get over the fact that it's only 1:24 and I still have several hours of today left to go.

I have some work to do on the computer so that's what I'll probably do. I've already tidied the upstairs bedrooms, done 3 loads of laundry and the shopping. I'm kind of waiting for Erica to wake early from her nap so I have to go and put her to sleep again - because I usually lie down and take a nap with her when that happens, and I'm feeling kind of sleepy.

The girls are home early today, they'll be here soon in fact. Then when Erica wakes, I'll take them to Youme Town to buy some books with the book tokens Amy got from Aunty Toyoko while she was in hospital. A present from Grandma also arrived yesterday, which involved sewing, and she was very intrigued by that too. She cleaned her whole desk out yesterday afternoon! No prompting from me at all, nor any nagging either to finish the job once started (she's good at starting, good at suddenly declaring the whole mess somehow my fault and giving up). Picture perfect.

Lena lost another tooth. Now she has three out, looking like a toothless old hag, which makes me laugh when she cries. I'm so mean! Constant reminder too that I need to go to the dentist.

Then I have to go to work. At the bloody hospital! I found myself thinking as we left yesteday, "Thank God I don't have to come back here again", but then remembered, "Oh, yes I do." Well, we certainly won't be talking about medical issues today. Something light, maybe food or vacations.

Lena will go to English today, and Amy will go shopping with her Daddy to get some new inside shoes for school. She doesn't stop growing! Then I'm taking them to Joyfull. The best diet choice because their food is so mediocre that you're not tempted much! I might give in and get some ice cream though...


Just after that, the girls came home in a whirlwind of sounds and energy, and Erica woke up. So I went up and lay back down with her and had a wee nap. Now they're doing their homework and I'm trying to get started on my work while refereeing their fights. No time to get those books, we'll go after I get back from work.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Amy in hospital

It's been a week, but I feel I have a little time now to sit down and write up about it without either having to rush off to the hospital again, burst into tears or rant and rave about doctors and hospitals. Which I'll probably do anyway, actually.

She started coughing quite a lot more last weekend, but I thought it was a cold. We stayed in on Saturday due to the snow, then went to visit friends on Sunday. On the way home from that visit she didn't stop coughing, and I realized I was going to have to take her to the hospital. She got quickly diagnosed, but then the doctor kept questioning me about why wasn't she being seen already for her asthma? She'd finished her visits and stopped her medication quite some time ago. I said she didn't have it so of course I didn't come, but he asked if she'd had no coughing at all, and I said yes some, so we'd got ventolin off the doctor in NZ, and used that, but that didn't seem to be enough for him. More talking, he made me feel so bad, like it was all my fault and I was stupid. I can't be bothered going into it right now, it was too confusing.

We went home that day, but she didn't sleep much, nor I, listening to her wheeze. We came back in the morning, and she was admitted (with another doctor). She was in a pretty bad shape that day, with a low fever, and very confused, kept asking me where she was and why, over and over. She was put on the usual cough suppressant and anti-allergy drugs, and IV steroids, and 3-hourly nebulizer treatment. Not a puffer anywhere.

She's slowly gotten happier and healthier every day. She was kind of excited about all the fuss on Monday, and had a new lease of life after getting a big dose of reliever on the nebulizer, so she was okay that night. The next day though, we shifted into a room already full with three others, 2 babies and a 3-year old, everyone with curtains pulled making the room feel so small and crowded. She was exhausted, and didn't do her usual favorite activities of drawing and coloring. Just alternated between flopping on the bed and complaining.

By Wednesday the room had cleared out a little, and Amy was ready to come home! No chance of that yet. The last baby went home, and a 5-year old boy moved in. They've made friends now and play all day with dinosaurs. They took her drip out on Sunday, and we truly thought we'd be home today, but were disappointed this morning when the usual doctor came back and said they'd reduce the nebulizer drugs first and see how she coped before she went home. I suggested coming up to the hospital to do the nebulizer, but the doctor thought that would be too hard on her. So we're stuck there again for another night at least, and possible two more.

This time, as a primary school student, we are not supposed to stay overnight, though we are free to come and go at pretty much any time, so we can be there when she sleeps and arrive again in time for her to wake up. That's usually Kanji, as I am busy with Erica. He stayed with her the first night, when she was in a 2-bed room alone, and he could take the second bed. I really hated leaving her that second night! I left early, and Kanji stayed until she slept, then I stayed until she slept on Wednesday. As time's gone on, she's gotten used to it, takes herself to the toilet alright, knows where the nurse call button is, and I left my phone with her the first night so she could call home anytime.

The hardest part is balancing out her care with Erica's. Two children needing 24-hr care in two different locations. Hmm. Every bit as hard as it sounds. After a few days we settled into a routine, with Kanji going to Amy at about 6:30, when she wakes up, then to work at 7:00. Meanwhile, I get Lena and Erica up, and take them to Baachan's for breakfast. I leave for the hospital, getting there around 7:30, while Baachan takes Lena to school and Jiichan watches Erica. She then stays there until nearly 1pm - an unprecedentedly long time for my Mummy's-Girl Erica! But she's coping very well, and has even gotten used to going to sleep without Mummy or the carseat, which might come in handy when we get to NZ!

1pm Kanji finishes work and I take Erica home to clean, do dishes, laundry, cook dinner and wait for Lena to get home from school. We have an early bath, then I take them back to Baachan's around 6-7pm, so I can spend the last few hours with Amy. It means Lena and Erica don't get to bed until after 9pm but you can't have everything can you. Consequently, they are both tired and moody this week. Lena also misses Amy terribly, and can't wait for her to get home. Erica is clingy when she finally gets hold of me and more whiney than usual, and is not sleeping as well at night. But after a few hours together at home she relaxes and calms down.

Amy plays with the boy, draws, colors, watches DVDs and Japanese TV, and goes to school. Yes, they have a school-room, and a teacher coming up from a nearby primary school to give her lessons - four a day, 45-minutes each, which is quite a lot for a kid who's not well, especially when you consider how much of the school day consists of organizing and arranging and passing out papers and handing them in, etc, so that the kids probably don't do more than 2 hours of actual work, and even less time talking to the teacher. Compared to that 4 x 45 minutes of one person hanging over your shoulder must be quite exhausting! She's better off with it though, not only so she doesn't get behind (Japanese school being so very competitive) but it also breaks up her day and prevents cabin fever and her getting tired of her coloring and drawing.

At the hospital I eat my breakfast, instant oatmeal, far too many snacks, and sandwiches or salad for lunch, and endless cups of tea from the kitchenette, which, in typical Japanese fashion, doesn't have a rubbish bin. I've taken to wearing a mask and carrying an anti-bacterial wipe with me every time I go, to try to avoid the influenza that's also on the ward. I wouldn't want to add that to Amy's woes (or my guilt-list). I managed to get the nurse to change the sheets today too, which was a favor, as they are not usually done until Wednesdays, but I convinced her that since we'd been in the same sheets since last Monday, we really needed to change them! I anticipated this happening this time, and brought a cover sheet for the bed that I can take home and wash.

I end up alternating between rushing round like a headless chicken doing shopping, chores and picking up and dropping off children, and hours of downtime at the hospital reading or quietly playing chess with Amy, or at home watching telly while Erica tries to catch up on her breastfeeding.

So of course, we are all aching to get back to normal life. Although I will keep up Erica's newfound love of her grandies, and take her there at least once a week for a long extended play day. She went to sleep on Jiichan's back this morning - reminded me I had meant to ask Baachan how to do the Japanese 'ombo-hime', a way of tying babies to your back. When she did it with Lena, she somehow got her stuck on there with just a long piece of material wrapped and tied this way and that. But this morning she came out with something with a seat and leg-holes in addition to all the straps and ties, in faded red and gold spotted velvet. It's as kitch as it sounds, she must have dug for hours upstairs to find it!