Friday, August 28, 2009

Birthday part III

Kanji was out of town tonight, so I took the kids to Joyfull. I don't like their food all that much, but I love their chocolate parfaits, which makes a nice birthday treat! It didn't rain. That sounds good, but really we would prefer it to rain. For some reason, often when Kanji is out of town and I take the kids to Joyfull, it rains.

Erica is still working out which finger to use.

Both big girls got a mini-hamburger set, and Erica got a kid's curry. I got chicken doria (chicken over rice with a white sauce) which was awful. I know I should stick to the side menus and salads!

Birthday Lunch

A very sweet card from Kanji and my Marie Antoinette champagne flute.

The birthday girl and her man.

One reason I like this restaurant - this soup. When the old man who trained in France about a hundred years ago was still alive, this was a warm, rich mushroom soup. Now it's a potage, with what I am pretty sure is frozen mixed veg. Nevertheless, it was rather nice. I must learn how to make it.

I forgot to photograph the salad before I devoured it. Well, here are the remains of a simple shredded cabbage and sunny lettuce salad, with vinaigrette, a dab of mayonnaise and what I think was an ume (pickled plum) dressing (the pink on the far side of the plate). Plus one mini tomato and a halved grape. Bread - standard Japanese restaurant 'butter rolls', always a little bit of a disappointment for me, as I am such a bread connoisseur, but I'm getting used to it! At least I was able to switch the otherwise standard plate of rice to the bread.

The steak arrives. You can see a bit of flame there in the photo to the right. All served on a platter that leaves you in no doubt what animal this came from. The steak was very good.


My family made a birthday dinner for me last night. Kanji cooked what he can - rice and miso soup and simmered fish. I baked the cake and whipped up the icing, then left them to cut and decorate, and this is what they made me - Marge Simpson!

They actually did really well with both the cutting (done freehand as they didn't know about the templates!) and the decoration. H B stands for Happy Birthday. Here are the proud chefs:

Me and my birthday gifts, beautiful roses from my husband, a new tea cup from Amy, so I don't have to drink out of a beer mug anymore, and a little parrot for my phone. They got me a card each, and even helped Erica draw a card for me. GHere they are singing Happy Birthday to me. Erica can sing it too a little, but of course never when the camera is on.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

a la Helen...

...who does diary-style blogs to sum up the day...

All in all it was a good day, with the first cool breaths of autumn making the weather very comfortable, and almost chilly early in the morning.

I woke up at 6:30 when the alarm clock went off, and pressed snooze of course. Again at 6:35. Finally at 6:40 I whisper-yelled (so as not to wake Erica) at the kids to go to Rajio Taiso and went back to sleep.

Got up at 7:45 with Erica nattering on about Amy and Lena. I got dressed upstairs, went downstairs and put on some laundry, fed and changed the baby. First job of the day was a big clean up of the yard. I did that before breakfast, even before my cup of tea. I've found I have a lot of energy first thing in the morning and can get quite a bit done if I use it wisely.

At about 8:30 I came back inside, gave Erica some more breakfast and myself a cup of tea. From then until 9:45 I tidied up, cleaned the kitchen, did some more laundry, checked the email and nagged Amy and Lena to get ready for summer school.

Breakfast was a muesli bar and a cup of tea in the car on the way to Keio. I dropped off the big girls, then swung by Shinsenichiba on the way home to pick up some fish for dinner. I also got milk, yogurt, tomatoes, some cheap chicken thighs on special, and some salad and prepared fish for lunch. Then I stopped in at the post office to send some mooched books to America.

Usually the old lady who fills in there doesn't antagonize me, but she did today! "U-nai-tedd States, that's America, isn't it?" "Yes, that's America. Bookrate seapost please". Okay, she managed to get that done, then reached for the second package. I said this one is the same, "to America" "yes, it's the same" "seapost?" "Yes, the same as the last one" "bookrate" "Yes, the same as the last one!". "It's a book, is it?" "YES IT'S THE SAME AS THE LAST ONE!" Does 'onaji' have a different meaning in Japanese that I'm missing?

Back home where I corrected two essays, which took a whole hour due to interruptions - 1) Erica breastfeeding (I can play scrabble and read the news, but can't type while she's on me) 2) moving my car for the carpenter (more on that later) and 3) giving my details and phone numbers to the friendly neighborhood copper doing his friendly neighborhood nosy-parker update on who lives in all the houses.

Lunch was the fish, an egg on wholemeal toast and 10 grapes. Erica had a tomato, rice with furikake, fish and 10 grapes. She did a wee-wee on the potty, then I took her to bed.

While she napped I tidied up and finally hung the laundry and folded some of yesterday's. When the time came to pick up Amy and Lena, I carefully brought her downstairs and into the car like I had yesterday, but she woke up today. She was happy though, as I told her we were going to get Amy and Lena.

We got home and Amy and Lena decided they wanted to watch Grease. I made them some popcorn, then crumbed the fish for dinner, and continued to tidy up the kitchen. I also had a cup of tea and zoned out in front of facebook for a bit.

Kanji came home at 3, and I conferred with him about dinner, then tidied up the living room and changed out of my garden shorts to go to work at 4pm. My usual student Takato came, and a student who might be interning at Nakatsu hospital from next April, who seemed very bright and keen so I hope he does come here! We played a game and chatted, and I came home at 5pm.

I started to get dinner ready. I had mashed potato to fry up, and added mixed veges, and a dip left over from the party that I had frozen, made out of chick peas, roasted red pepper and garlic. It made a very yummy bubble and squeak. While it slowly crisped up, I started to wash the things I had collected up from my yard tidying. Kanji went out to do some shopping. He had started miso soup while I was at work, so he finished that, and fried up my fish plus some he'd bought previously. That's what I mean by conferred about dinner. We often end up with his ideas AND mine, plus rice and soup!

After dinner I zoned out a bit playing scrabble, then cleaned up the bathroom after having grubbied the room up cleaning up the yard things, then cleaned me and Erica too. Amy and Lena stayed with their Papa, doing riddles in Japanese from a book, and making some up too I think.

We got up to bed at about 9pm, so no reading tonight. I started feeding Erica, and Amy and Lena read quietly by themselves for a bit. After they all got to sleep, I sorted out the clothes too big for Erica to put up in the cupboard. That was the last thing on my list to do today, and means that tomorrow I can clean out the two wardrobes, and the upstairs rooms will be finished.

Now, it's FAR too late to watch an episode of The Tudors, but I will anyway, and wash it down with some chocolate. I'm allowing myself after-dinner chocs this week, as it's my birthday on Friday.

(PS about the carpenter. That's the extension roof going up outside our living room door to the garden. I actually decided I didn't want it and went round yesterday to tell Jiichan so, but he said it was too late, it was already begun. I decided I don't want my washing machine out there after all, too often I finish laundry late at night at hang it on hangers to be put out the next morning, or do delicate individual stuff late at night. I don't want to be heading out there under a lean-to to do that sort of thing. He just said, I don't need to put the washing machine out there. I said mottainai (what a waste!) He said now we can have a yakiniku party. I was also worried about my winter sun and the kids' garden, but the real reason is that I really want a new house so I think we should keep improvement to this one to a minimum. They won't increase the value of the house as they do back home, it's just money down the drain. But it was too late to cancel, and they laid concrete for the posts today. It's not so bad, doesn't go out as far as I had imagined, so maybe it will make a nice nook for barbecueing.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009


666 seems like the kind of post number that demands some kind of acknowledgment. Thus:

9 things about
3 little girls I happen to know.

1. Is absorbed in a little book about puberty that I bought her for reasons that shall remain nameless as said reasons include being EMBARRASED a lot of the time!
2. Embarrassing things in this poor child's life include her clueless mother, who always manages to say the WRONG thing in very bad Japanese, necessitating her telling said mother sometimes to SHUT UP and please don't say anything Mummy.
3. Likes to trace the conversation back to its root - now we're talking about chimpanzee lips, but we started talking about ear lobes. Wow!
4. Loves playing the piano, doesn't need to be reminded to practice, in fact needs to be begged to stop!
5. Has long long fingers like her grandmother in New Zealand.
6. Can cook Japanese rolled omelets and make umeboshi onigiri (rice balls with pickled plums) from scratch.
7. Has the most spectacularly beautiful smile.
8. Is an early bird and often beats the whole family out of bed
9. Likes to sew, and design clothes for dolls and for Erica, but won't take instruction...

1. Still wants to 'sleep down' - meaning next to Mummy on the futon, instead of in her bed with her oversized toy dogs, dog pillow, dog duvet and dog slippers. Mum's happy to be loved more than dogs.
2. Dances with delicate grace, and sings well too.
3. Is not interested in eating much.
4. Is very neat and tidy and likes to surround herself with her little treasures on her desk.
5. Fits a Pumpkin Patch size FOUR (she's seven and a half)
6. Is a perfectionist and often cries when she can't do something as perfectly as her mental image.
7. Loves to watch Doraemon. Would LOVE to get a Doraemon door for Christmas so she could visit Grandma any time she likes.
8. Is a slug-a-bed like her mother and would sleep until midday if she could
9. Asks LOTS of questions about very strange things, but that's another post!

1. Is still breastfeeding! So much to say about that, that it merits its own post too.
2. Has little conversations with us. Understands nearly all we say, and answers appropriately, if still 60% babble! I had her trotting around the house this morning helping me find the camera. She looked in the toy closet, where everything significant obviously is, didn't see it, turned around to me and shrugged, saying 'Where gone?'
3. Her favorite game is wandering around the house with a torch, examining things and pretending to get a fright and be scared by the beam sometimes. This game combined fabulously this morning with her favorite game at Baachan's - wandering around the house examining things with Jiichan's magnifying glass.
4. Has discovered the unique power and joy of the word 'No' and is not afraid to wield it.
5. Injured both her sisters on Sunday - kicked Amy in the head, and head-butted Lena in the nose. (Mum knows better than to get that close to flinging toddler limbs)
6. Counts the stairs as she goes down: 3,8, 'go'(5), 2
7. Her favorite food is ice cream, and she knows where it lives, and often hunts it down.
8. Collects stuff to take places - books and chuppa and water and toys for bed. Also things for the car. This morning's haul included a packet of Minnie Mouse sugar cubes and a shoe horn. (?)
9. Can sing the ABC song - A B B B A B B H I J J J J B

1. Is getting a haircut and braving the dye this week.
2. Is thinking about getting contacts again finally.
3. Swears she's going to really, truly declutter this year, and this time FINISH the job!
4. Can't get a job.
5. Wants another baby (realizes 4. and 5. are incompatible, but that's life)
6. Wants a fancy new camera with all the bells and whistles and to learn how to use photoshop.
7. Will spend less time on the internet PROMISE
8. Is going to Hokkaido next year.
9. Wants to lose another 5-10kg

1. Is now covering a Japanese punk band.
2. Is going online at work finally
3. Dyes his own hair - he's better at it than me!
4. Has agreed in principle to clear out his books and magazines from the shed, but I understand that it might take another decade to actually get the job done.
5. Is going to Vietnam next year.
6. Has a GINORMOUS collection of DVDs, TV shows he's taped
7. Knows 10 years is a special anniversary involving jewellry. Lucky man.
8. His favorite food is STILL curry rice, sashimi and beer
9. Is still as sweet and sexy and when I first met him

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Not like to blog this late, usually my head has hit pillow by this time. I mean that literally - I read until I notice that my eyes are shut. Bad habit, but the most peaceful way to read, and quickest way to get to sleep!

But it took me until now to 'do my stuff'. You know, that long list of things you think you should get done today. Usually I am very good at revising the list as the day goes by, adjusting it as things crop up, and the inevitable delays happen, and ending up at the end of the day with far less done than I thought at the beginning that I might be capable of, but still somehow satisfied and feeling like I deserve my reward of being able to go and fall asleep over my book.

But the last few days, I've made an extra effort to try to finish the list, which on the one hand, makes me much more tired and up later, but on the other hand results in more things getting done.

So, which is the better way to organize my day? I've ended up with my eyes propped open by the matchsticks that is a computer screen at 11:20, still haven't had my peach. Obviously that is a priority right now, good night!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

In the still and quiet morning

Obviously the children aren't awake yet.

I'm waiting for them to wake up because our job for the day is to re-arrange the upstairs toy closet, and hopefully toss several bags. I bought 12 closet boxes yesterday to do the job, in hideous day-glo blue and yellow like 1980's zinc, but they'll be hidden in the closet, so I closed my eyes to that small detail. They were cheap, 17,000 for all 12, and the large size too.

I HOPE to be finished by lunch time - or Erica won't have anywhere to take a nap. So the kids had better wake up soon or we won't be finished. Then I intend to goad them into finishing some of their summer homework or the craft activity, while I finish editing some essays.

A trip to Oita was on the books for today, sadly cancelled due to Erica's asthma. She went down again over the weekend - same circumstances as last time - a minor cold combined with an evening outing. I nearly thought I was going to be admitted to hospital and have to cancel the party again, as she was heaving, and doing the hee-hee-huu-huu breathing like last time, but the doctor on duty on Saturday sent me home with oral steriods.

So Sunday the party was on! I made loads of food, and guests arrived in shifts as it was an all-day event. I didn't drink, as I had to watch Erica and maybe drive her to the hospital for more nebulizer treatment if she got worse. She held up - she fell asleep on my lap in the late afternoon, very unusual as she usually insists on going upstairs to 'Dorothy' (her bed with the Dorothy the Dinosaur pillow). When she woke I forced some more medicine into her and she perked up after that.

I met some lovely people and had some nice chats with them and other friends. The party was to farewell Emily, who has decided to leave Japan. I will post photos as they are posted on facebook.

The party was all over by 9:30, early for me, but I was glad of it, as I wanted to sleep next to Erica. In the end she slept like an angel, which doubly pleased me since not being able to sleep is the cue for hospitalization. I was so chuffed I made sure I wrote 'slept well' on the symptoms note we have to write before seeing the doctor! I wanted to underline it and write 'therefore don't admit her' but I don't know the Jpaanese word for 'therefore'.

An elephant just thumped down the stairs. I don't know how 11.6kg of toddler can make SO much noise on the stairs, but she can! Time for morning cuddles...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Harry Potter part II

Okay so there isn't a Harry Potter part I post, that's because I was too tired to bother, so here they are together!

We finally got to the movie theater after much hand-wringing on Tuesday, and a completely failed attempt on Wednesday.

We have a picture theatre in Nakatsu, but it only has two screens, not enough to warrant showing the English/Japanese subtitled version of Harry Potter, so we had to go out of town to see it. So on Wednesday we drove all the way to Riverwalk in Kokura, which took nearly two hours, plus about 20 minutes waiting for a parking space to clear, only to find out that the session had sold out!

Have you ever found yourself utterly MAD angry pissed off and there is no-one you can blame it on, or even try to blame it on? Frustrating! I toyed briefly with the notion of blaming Kanji for being reluctant to watch Erica for too long, but I had to concede that I also didn't really want to go to the next session from 6-9, getting home at 11pm.

I should add that Kanji was standing right next to us. For some reason I don't think I will ever be able to fathom, he decided that it was much better for him and Erica to come to Kokura too. This is what we were discussing on Tuesday. I told him she'd go straight to sleep in the car, so he might as well put her in his car, drive round the block then go home. He seemed to think it was easier to drive for two hours to Kokura through some of the nastiest traffic in Kyushu, paying road tolls and parking fees, on the off-chance that IF she got upset I would be within reach. Of course, I'd be in the picture theatre most of the time...I started having horror visions of being called out of the movie to go tend to her, when the whole idea of leaving her with him was that I wouldn't have to leave the theatre to see to the baby.

His idea seemed to be that he'd walk around with her in the mall then go back in his car with her when she started to get grizzly. I still couldn't see why he needed to do that in Kokura and not back in Nakatsu, seeing as I'd be in the theatre. He said something random about him wanting to go to the big city too sometimes, so maybe he had some ideas of going to cool boy shops with her while we watched the movie. Okay then, family day out, but don't think I'm going to answer my phone in the theatre!

So when we were turned away at the cinema doors, it did turn into a family day at the mall. He bought us tickets for the next day's session at the same time, sheepishly suggesting that he stay home this time. Well I could have told you that 24 hours ago! I think he just starts to panic a bit. He hates it when she does have a crying fit, and calls out for Mum, but she basically doesn't do it all that much, I think he was worrying too much.

In the end she was perfectly happy with him all day on Thursday. We got back from the pictures, and after six hours away from me, she walked straight past me, saying 'Amy, where-a-you!', and gave her a hug!

To wrap up the night, we went to Aunty's house for an Obon feast. We arrived after 8 and were home by 10. The Yokomastus don't hold family parties like the Greenwoods do! We ate sushi and pizza and fried chicken and Japanese pickles and tofu and wakame soup. Aunty gave up and served non-alcohol beer after years of no-one drinking, since everyone had to drive/go back to work/etc. We lit incense at the grave, came home and set the sticks in the altar. Baachan did some impressive chanting, kind of like a Hail Mary, only in rapid formal Japanese.

Erica wriggled, then went back after everyone had left to ring the bell on the altar. I told her to stop, and thereafter, she went back several times, each time ringing the bell, then telling herself to stop. She spent the rest of the night toting around a stuffed cat as her baby, changing its nappy and putting it to sleep, and playing piggy-backs with Lena (Erica offered to be the back!) while Amy played the piano.

Tonight we're going obon dancing again!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Photos from the day we went to Riverwalk in Kokura to see Harry Potter...and the next day when we went again as it was sold out the first day.

The girls enjoying a wonderful fountain in the centre of Riverwalk, with arcs of water diving from the outer ring of a circle into the centre, in constantly changing heights, making walking under them a challenge with the constant threat of getting wet! This display alternated with random squirts of water that soaked several unsuspecting kids. (As we were two hours from home, ours were under strict order NOT to get wet!)

The second day we happened upon a festival drama in another of Riverwalk's courtyards, where we just happened to bump into Kuri and the Pinglet (see if you can spot them). Below, a fire-juggling ninja. The juggling was impressive, but he's really on here for the arms:

Finally, skipping down the luxe corridor to the theater:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Goodnight Mum

Erica just seems to have started to talk in the last few days. I know I posted a list a few days ago of random words, and I'm updating it for at least a week with every little thing she says, but she's adding words so much, and Amy and Lena are responsible for many of them, including 'pony' yesterday in the car!

She can say Lena's name finally, after months of calling her Amy! I think she knew the difference, but just couldn't get her tongue around 'Lena' so settled for the nearest thing. Now she says 'nn-nya' with her tongue poking out, which is so cute!

Amy took out a wooden hammer and block toy today, and swears Erica asked very nicely to play with it, not with the right words, but with babble in just the right tone, with her hand held out, and 'please' (peezh) on the end.

Bedtime tonight:
Erica: 'water' (oo-da) while showing me her water bottle (thanks illahee for the rubber seals or our bed would be soaked on a nighly basis!).
Me:'oh, is that your water'
Me:'Is your water really oishii (yummy)' (bit of language mixing going on there, naughty naughty, but experience has shown that that matters not one little bit).

Erica:'Mum! Amy, Lena' and another word similar, that I guessed was 'goodnight'.
No answer
Erica:Amy Amy Amy!
Me: hey, she's saying goodnight to you
Amy and Lena: Goodnight Erica
Erica: I love you (I uuu)
No answer
Erica: I UUUU!
Me: Hey, Erica's saying she loves you
Amy and Lena: I love you too Erica!

Erica happily settles on the pillow

Then she sat up all of a sudden and said 'Daddy! Where Daddy?' 'Where Papa' (just in case I didn't get the message I suppose). I said Daddy had gone to work, time to go to sleep now.

And one more thing! She picked up her book to read. It's called Stomp, about a dinosaur who escapes his Mum and goes thumping creatures in the jungle. About the only word in it is 'stomp', which Erica was saying (dom! dom!) as she turned the pages. Then she 'read' the last two pages: 'Oh no!' (Oh My in the book, when Mum dinosaur catches up to the little one) and 'bye bye' (little dinosaur walking off with his Mum).

Where will it end?

With all children fed, washed and in bed I hope, but today's one of those odd days when things just don't happen the way you thought they were going to.

This doesn't normally fluster me much. With three kids, a husband, mother-in-law, and other assorted relatives to juggle, I often end up doing things differently to how I expected. I plan, but don't stick too rigidly to plans. Too many things can change, and however efficient you are, you almost never get everything on your list checked, so my lists get altered throughout the day.

Right now I keep walking through the unnaturally clean living room (because they haven't been home all day) and genkan (that the older girls cleaned actually) to check on Erica asleep in the car. Still asleep at 4pm, bit of a worry, means a late night, but never mind, with no-one home right now and me no idea where anyone is, it'll probably be a late night anyway.

I wonder if I'm supposed to have picked the girls up at Baachan's? Probably. After all I left them there. But then I saw them out eating ice cream with sister-in-law, brother-in-law and cousin, and told Lena then that she had swimming, so I guess I just assumed they'd drop them off...

I was intending to buy some drawers for the closet, but Kanji has his van at band pracitce, so there goes that idea. It's getting so late now I might have to put that off until tomorrow. Well, they would have just clogged up the genkan anyway. At least I got to the bank and the Post Office today. And dinner's already cooked. Nobody to eat it but me, but at least it's cooked!

Now, to check on that baby again, and maybe think about doing some work. And maybe go find my other daughters, wherever they might have disappeared to.

Children found, fed and put to bed. No drawers as DH still AWOL

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Red Hot Mamma

That's what I am today. As in red sunburn and sweating in the heat. If you were thinking sexy you're in for a big letdown (unless its the breastfeeding letdown, got plenty of that still left).

It felt weird to be back in the classroom today after the holidays 'started' yesterday. Only four students in three hours, so not a terribly taxing day. I went to pick up the kids to find them refusing to go home, well no surprises there, that always happens.

I took Erica home to sleep and now I have HEAPS of things to do, but nothing pressing, so I'm ignoring it all and amusing myself HERE, making this one corner of the room cool enough to drink my cup of tea in with the air conditioner and a very noisy fan that I shall turn off in a mo.

I went to work in a cotton skirt so as not to aggravate my sunburn, and spent the rest of the day trying to hide my piebald legs. Somehow my KNEES missed getting burnt, meaning I now have red thighs, pink calves and WHITE knees. Hmm. Not a good look.

Actually I don't mind tanning, the color anyway. But I hate getting sunburnt. No brainer I suppose - after all, it HURTS. But as well as that, these days I like to stay out of the sun, and I wonder which reason is really the strongest - vanity, fear or aesthetics.

I think probably vanity ushers out the other two. I can handle ageing gracefully, but I really would like to avoid looking like a shrivelled prune. I will never forget caring for elderly women, and noticing that the age-spotted, finely wrinkled, discoloured, tissue-thin skin is concentrated on the lower legs, arms, face and neck - all the areas that saw the sun on a daily basis throughout their lives, while their backs, thighs, and tummies were often much softer and smoother. I know we all think Japanese women are mad wearing those arm sock things they wear, but there is reason behind the madness. If vanity is a good enough reason, that is.

Fear comes next. I do have moles and freckles and they do seem to grow larger, and become more raised over time. My uncle died of skin cancer. While like most people, I think of 'cancer' as some distant illness that couldn't possibly happen to me, at some level there is concern that that might be the ultimate effect.

Aesthetics comes last, perhaps because I still haven't managed to entirely convince myself that a pure white skinned body is necessarily very pretty. It's much easier to see it as potentially so in Japan, where the women in the make-up ads are all white, white, white. And I know a few Japanese women with this ultra-pale skin that they take good care of.

It's not the color so much as the care taken - the smoothness of it, the lack of discoloured areas. Much like a smooth even tan! And the evenness is key - I can appreciate the lily-white-me look much better in the half-light, when my skin tone seems more even, than in the harsh light of day, when I can see the brown arms, blotchy shoulders, veins and red patches!

I guess in the end, it's much like the perfect all-over tan - pretty much unattainable by the average flawed human. Which brings me back to skin cancer and wrinkles, and should I let myself tan now that I've got the initial summer burn out of the way, or try to stay white?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Hot Pool

We had a fantastic day at the pool in Usa.

We're speckled red and white, have hair like string, are flat out exhausted and my left ear is still full of water. But now I feel like the summer holidays have really started and the fun has just begun!

We started out in the Nagare pool - I have no idea if there is a word for this in English! It's the narrow, long, river-like pool in the picture above, and the water is propelled round and round the pool, so that if you hop in with some kind of flotation device, you can just relax and get gently pushed around the pool.

I got in with Erica in her baby-ring (a smaller ring inside a large outer ring, and a harness underneath so she doesn't slip through) and we went round and round and round until we got bored then I sent her back to the baby pool with Daddy, while me, Amy and Lena went for the waterslides.

There are two, which Amy and Lena dubbed the long one and the short one, though I don't think there was really much difference. I was able to catch up with Amy, with a bit of pushing off the sides, but we couldn't catch Lena, who shot ahead of us both. It was great fun, but the stairs nearly killed me. I took a break with Erica in the baby pool while Kanji had a go on the slides.

Every hour for ten minutes everyone has to get out of the pool while they clean it. I'm not sure what they do, check the chemical level I suppose, but I've seen them doing that while people are swimming. Check for drowned persons? I don't know. But it was a good sign that it was lunch time, so we ate up curry, okonomiyaki, takoyaki and soggy french fries.

After lunch I left Kanji with the bub again and we went to the deep pool, where I taught my kids more swimming in 40 minutes than their damn swimming school has taught them in four years. I taught them to dive and do back flips and handstands. Hence the water on the ear!

We left for home just a little too late, and Erica was past the point of endurance, so we were treated to a screaming match on the way home. Luckily Amy and Lena were too tired to argue on the way home!

Oh, and why the HOT pool? After lunch the water in the waterslide was, no kidding, hot! It was like having a shower all the way down then falling into a bath at the end. After that, we didn't need to stop at the onsen on the way home.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Baby Words

Bedtime - Dorothy (do-shi) or dinosaur (di-sho), for her Dorothy the Dinosaur pillow. Anpanman and Fish stuffed toys (mamman and bish).
"Up!" when she wants me to get up. Then she finds my glasses for me and tries to put them on my face. "down!". She's finally realized there are two directions.

Food: spoon (boon). water (ooo-da). milk (mook). cookie. cheese. fish (bish). For rice she just points to the rice cooker, but Lena reckons she says 'rice'(waith). For food in general she gets a plate out of the cupboard and brings it to me. Oishii (Japanese for yum) also English Yum, while patting her tummy (baby sign). apple (apo). peach (beach). Ice cream (aishing).

Amy! (for both girls, she can't get her tongue around Lena, sometimes she comes out with nana, but usually Amy means both of them). Papa/baba/Dada. Guess who? Mama - she's finally saying this in addition to MUM!

dance. Stop! (dop!) happy (apiiii). ohayo (Japanese for good morning) bye bye. Hi/hai. Hot/atsui (ots). I Sad (with baby sign tears on face). My/Mine. Jump. No. Look (ook). Up. Down. Huggle. oukai! (mix of English Okay and Japanese Oshimai meaning finished) said with hands clasped together when she finishes eating. I jis. whatdis. mo ii kai/mo ii yo (oo-iika - oo a you). Where are you (wea-a-you). gone. Where did it go (Wea-go?). What is it? Pretty. Look! (ook). Cheers! inai inai Bah! (Japanese Peek-a-Boo). I love you (I uuu). stuck (duck)

shoes. Book. Hat (at). Rain (wain). Car. Baby (for real ones, herself in photos, or the dolls). nenne (sleep in japanese). bubble. bath. Tree (chwee). Flower (fawa). pyjamas (ba-ja). duck. kitty (kikki). oni (Japanese demon troll). Stitch (tiddi). Mickey. walk (oook). jump (dum). ombo (Japanese piggy-back). ear. pony. nose (only she calls it 'fawa' or flower, I think more because of our baby sign for flower, than the fact that the two words are the same in Japanese (hana))

wee wee. poo poo. atchoo. ouch. ow.

nth Day of Summer Holidays

Okay, so I'm not actually counting. And actually they're not here, they've gone to school this morning for the peace ceremony. And I'm supposed to be using the time to start cleaning up the upstairs room, and finally vacuum-bagging the winter quilts and getting them up into the closet. Actually, I already did it once...but the bags were faulty and they exploded out of the closet, bugger, so I have to start again. It's not the sort of job you want to be doing on a hot summer day.

Erica is still in her pyjamas, with no nappy on, and a hairclip in her hair (miracle of miracles that she left it there and didn't tear it out) eating muesli with loads of milk with two 'boon' (spoons). We are going to the supermarket in a moment, the temptation of putting on her shoes will inspire her to get out of her pyjamas. And they're only her third favorite pyjamas, after the two anpanman pyjamas!

I have to cook dinner early today because I am taking my poor older girls to the dentist today, for serious cavity care, ie, DRUGS! So I have to make sure they fill their tummies before we go. I'll feed them some ice cream when we come home, and some panadol, and hopefully get them to sleep before the drugs wear off and the pain begins. They are both good about brushing their teeth, so it doesn't seem fair that they have such nasty cavities.

Tomorrow however, we are taking off to the pool! The big one in Usa with fun stuff. Right now, it seems like such a bother going, but I know we'll have tremendous fun when we get there, as Kanji is coming, so he can watch Erica in the baby pool while I take off with the big girls to have FUN!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another

The other thing being one of two possibilities:

a) a laundry room
b) having to go outside in the cold winter rain to wash the clothes

Or something in between...

And how did we get to this impasse? Well that's because of Erica's asthma and Lena's teacher's home visit. Clear as mud? I thought so.

While at home on one of my whirlwind visits from the hospital on Monday, I bumped into my sister-in-law Mie, who was taking Amy and Lena out for the day to give my mother-in-law a break. She had brought the girls home to pick up some things, coincidentally just at the same time I was home.

She asked me about their schedules, so I told her the days and times of their piano, swimming and English lessons, and it was while I was searching through the school notices for information about the school pool (the kids are allowed to swim in the school pool during the holidays) that I found the information about Lena's teacher's home visit. I had forgotten all about this summer holidays tradition, just assumed we didn't have it when someone else mentioned it.

Right about that time, Kanji called, with a bawling Erica who desperately needed her Mummy, so I proceeded to run around like a headless chook trying to get some things together and get back to the hospital. I suppose it's because she saw the mess at home, saw how hopelessly unable I was to do anything about it, and knew about the teacher's visit on Thursday that she came around that morning and cleaned my house for me.

(Kanji nearly got the brownie points for that, when I came home and saw the beautifully cleaned house. Should have know he's not capable of that level of cleanliness!)

Anyway, it appears that as a part of the general in-laws cleaning up my house business, that my father-in-law somehow cottoned on the fact that we haven't replaced the basin in the bathroom yet. Last year when I went to NZ, Mie and Baachan both cleaned the house for Kanji before I came back, and then they noticed that our basin was leaking and rotting the wood underneath, and they told us it needed to be replaced.

But we didn't. We don't use that basin much, mainly because of the ginormous mountain of laundry that always ends up in front of it. For hand-washing, we use the tiny basin in the toilet. For laundry purposes, I use bowls with water from the shower, and for tooth-brushing, we started to use the kitchen! So, we figured we'd save a few pennies and just quietly retire the basin.

Now Jiichan has a new basin in the back of his van, and I have instruction to clean out the bathroom in preparation for the new basin. Cool, not arguing, cleaning all done!

To his credit, he didn't just lambast me for poor housekeeping, but twigged that there was simply no-where else to put the piles of laundry. Thus the brainwave to shift the washing machine outside.

Now here's where the hard part starts. I have always sworn that I would never, ever tolerate an outdoor washing machine. Lots of Japanese houses have a washing machine outdoors, just sitting outside the back door. And like any NZer who grew up in a house with a completely separate 'wash-house' or laundry room, I found it totally, mind-blowingly unacceptable.

On the other hand...having a separate laundry has always been No.1 on my list of things I would change about my house if I had a chance. And when Jiichan first mentioned it, he was talking about extending the roof from the back kitchen door, and putting in a few small walls there. This would create a lean-to shed basically, leading directly to the clothesline.

Then the builders came, and declared that solution would be too close to the fence and block off our access. So the plan now seems to be to add a three-metre roof outside the living-room door, with the washing machine in the corner where the house wall meets the kitchen wall that juts out. This of course, is sounding less like a laundry room, and more like a washing-machine outside. OH WELL. I like change. I might like it. I might hate it, but I can always sneak the washing machine back inside I suppose...

The Hospital Again

Erica just spent a week in hospital for asthma.

I took her in on Saturday, wheezing and heaving quite badly. She was given intravenous meds and a nebulizer but she didn't significantly improve, so she was admitted.

She was there from Saturday night until Thursday morning, five nights and four long days on that tiny bed! She spend Sunday feeling tired and sleepy, but was back to her usual happy self by Tuesday, so for the last few days it was hard to contain her! I had to try to keep her on her bed, as we were there to rest, not run around, so we ended up watching A LOT of DVDs and playing with things like blocks and magnets on the bed.

I took some pictures on my phone, so here she is, forlorn little thing on a huge cot! You can see the big bandage on her arm, there to try to hold the drip in (it kept coming out anyway). and the machine on the right next to the bed is the drip monitor, which beeped each time something went wrong - ie, A LOT. She's holding 'baby' and Anpanman is next to her. She also had her Dorothy the Dinosaur pillow, which she loves. And there's the blessed portable DVD player, and a file full of movie and TV choices, on top of my diary and next to the art book I was reading.