Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Flu Days

Swine flu has struck! Or possibly swine flu, they don't tests for that specifically, just whether it's actually flu and which type, A or B. It's A type, the type associated with vomiting and diarrhea. Swine flu is one of the A type flus, so it could be.

Lena is just coming out of it, Amy and Erica seem to be just starting. Looks like I might get some respite today, a kind of bridge between illnesses, then it'll be back in the deep end tomorrow and Friday. You know how toddlers are when they're sick - cuddle cuddle cuddle!

We first heard on Friday that some kids were out of Lena's class with the flu. Because of that, her folk dancing event on Sunday was canceled. By Sunday night, we had heard from the school that a few more were down, so her class was canceled until Thursday. So we took her temperature then and there just to see and it was 37.7. It's important to keep a record of their temperature, as they don't test for flu until they've had a high temperature for at least 12 hours, preferably 24.

In the morning she was up over 38, so we took her in and got her tested, it's wasn't quite the 12 hours or more they want, but when I told her some of Lena's class was out with the flu they decided to do it.

The test is HORRIBLE! A super-extra-long FAT cotton bud shoved up the nose and I mean RIGHT up in there, I couldn't believe the thing was still going in! We waited for the results, and saw Jiichan at the hospital, getting his liver scanned (he has hepatitis).

The test was positive, so we got a prescription for Tamiflu and came home. She ate some lunch and jelly for dinner, but she started to really sink by evening, and her fever rose to over 40. She got disoriented and said she didn't know what was happening, and that everything was getting bigger and smaller. Several more times she got a bit of fever psychosis. In the middle of the night she woke up and babbled and shook and just stared, with no expression in her eyes, not even seeing me, not really responding to me as I tried to get her to settle again. Then once more on Tuesday afternoon, she became really disoriented and tried to get out of the room (I wasn't in the room at the time). She opened one of the doors and started climbing out over her desk! I can't help but remember the stories of people throwing themselves off balconies while on Tamiflu, though I am more inclined to believe it's the fever itself causing the disorientation.

She ate a little vege soup and jelly on Monday, but nothing at all on Tuesday except a few bites of plain bread and a slice of pear. She asked specifically for the pear, said she wanted something cool on her throat and for some reason a pear was what came to mind!

She mostly slept, thank goodness, as she was in pain when she was awake, with a massive headache, and a very sore tummy on Tuesday. She would wake up even now and then to moan and I'd go to her, try to feed her a little water, take her temperature, give her medicine if it was due. She lost a few lots of medicine, not straight away, so I imagine a little bit got in somehow.

Her asthma held up fine, she managed to continue having a few puffs of her preventer inhaler and continued her other oral meds. I just put them all together in a cup with some chocolate powder and a little water to make a paste.

I knew she was really sick when she refused to watch TV! She's happily watching TV today though, as well as eating and drinking plenty, so she's on the mend!

Now, I just have to nurse the other two, and hope I don't get much worse myself. I just have a big head cold and fatigue, I am due to go to work tomorrow, but my poor students might find themselves doing loads of quiet written work while I snooze at my desk!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Late One Night

Late one night Erica would not sleep, and I had a touch of PMS so I got fed up with that and decided to just let her stay up, until she was so exhausted that she would go to sleep in a nanosecond. Of course, being over-tired, she was full of beans! She made us laugh so much!


She's telling Daddy about the cat, and then he starts talking about 'love love' the cat - that's the baby sign she's doing when she turns around, 'love'...then she sees the camera and poses with the classic Japanese peace-sign pose...

Padme Amidala's Gun:

We got the gun with some Halloween costumes. Of course Erica has no idea what it is, but Lena pretended to die for her amusement earlier in the day, so she had a go at it too. Note how very carefully she executes the final fall to the ground!


she was actually terrified of the Lego octopus earlier in the day, but now she just had evil designs! She is saying 'octopus'!

Wake Up Jeff:

From the Wiggles TV show, she's learned to count to three and shout Wake Up Jeff! It's a game she often likes to play with her Papa. I have no idea why she hit him, it's not a normal part of the game, I'm blaming it on the late night! Please excuse the underwear, I hope my husband forgives me for uploading this...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Mum's Day

I had to write this one, because Tuesday is the one day of the week when I don't 'work'. Yeah, right.

6:30am I woke up. One good thing about a breastfeeding co-sleeping baby - I was forced to sleep in! Yes, forced against my will, and I have to say, it's wasn't so bad. The usual complaint is that toddlers make you get up too early, so I can't really complain, can I? Nice cuddle.

7-8am cleaning. I have a lot of energy first thing in the morning, which is wasted if I sit down and eat or have a cup of tea, and disappears entirely if I go anywhere near the computer. So I usually clean up, clean the kitchen, and do laundry at least until the girls go to school at 7:50

7:50am put the Wiggles on for Erica so she's not too upset at the girls leaving, and make a cup of tea.

8am to around 8:30, drink tea and check email. All through the morning I was doing loads of laundry, with finished large items into one basket and small items into another.

8:30 - 9:30 Checked an essay, corrected it and returned it (in between making a few moves on scrabble) while Erica played near me.

9:30 - breakfast. I had run out of cereal so I had a weetbix with rhubarb. Erica had a little bit of weetbix then some rice at the same time.

9:30 - 10:30 Cleared out the shed (it's well-organized at the moment so that only took five minutes) and some of the genkan, took the banqueting table out to the shed and brought the kotatsu (heated table) in.

10:30 got Erica dressed finally and got her into the car, took her to Kanji's work so he could watch her while I was at the dentist

11-12 Dentist

12 Picked up Erica, went to the Post Office to transfer some money, then went to the supermarket to pick up the inter-dental brushes the dentist recommended, and a few things for dinner. Found some oxtail, so oxtail soup is on the menu some time next week! Plus milk and yogurt, and many things on special - bacon, pork, chicken, ham, pumpkin soup, pizzas and pizza toast for snacks.

1pm came home for lunch, a roll and a salad from Youme town. Ate lunch with Erica, who was full from snacking at her Daddy's shop. Took her up to bed.

1:30pm - 4pm multitasking! I had several things I wanted to do, all of them 'priorities' so I began by giving each task 15 minutes, so I would at least feel I had made a start, then deciding from there what to finish first. I had to 1. cook the soup for dinner 2. rearrange the living room 3. study how to use In Design 4. Hang the small laundry (the big laundry was going to the laundromat later in the day. I ended up at 4 o'clock having achieved everything, though I was still hanging socks when Amy came home.

4:30 pm Once Amy was home we all went out in the car. I dropped the laundry off and put it in the dryer, then we went to Keio Academy, where I had to pick up some resources and folders. We were there for about half an hour, then stopped by home to drop off Amy to tidy up the study for her piano teacher, then the laudromat. I folded everything there, as I know if I just take it home in a heap it'll stay like that for days and everything will end up badly creased!

6:10pm Home to Amy and the piano teacher, lesson in full swing. I caught up on some emails during the lesson, and wrote two monthly reports for my September classes. Okay, and a few scrabble moves too!

7pm, piano lesson all finished, Lena's decision to quit communicated to the teacher, teacher's pay for September handed to her, promises made to go together to karaoke sometime.

We had dinner - the soup, plus bread and cheese. Everyone filled up their tummies, then had their medicine. I gave Erica hers - she has to sit in front of the nebulizer for about 15 minutes, which is hard on her, but she does really well. I have to keep opening her mouth and holding it open, sometimes it can get very frustrating. It's actually easier if she cries, because then she's taking deep breaths and getting the medicine in, but she is, ironically, too good!

Amy had a shower first, followed by Lena and Erica, with me coming in last. I left my necklace on, and it dripped black down my chest so I got out again pretty quick!

8:30pm we were all dressed, toileted, fed, dosed and watered and went up to bed. We read a small amount of a book about the ocean, then I read my novel with a book light while everyone went to sleep.

My Day, by Erica

Had a nice long milky cuddle with Mummy

Played with my sisters! Yay!

Breakfast No.1. I got two choices, cornflakes and weetbix, but I didn't eat much of either. Playing with my sisters is too much fun!

Watched the Wiggles.

Played with my new jungle gym and a great set of blocks I found. They're wood, and there's a hammer, and I can bang rods into holes - and I'm so good at it that I have to get Mummy to get the poles back out again.

I tried to convince Mummy that I should be outside too. I even found a shoe to remind her. She said something about 'small' and tried to put those new sneakers on me, but she didn't realize I WANTED the pink one. I had to let her know with a REALLY big scream. But then she only put it half on my foot! I still tried to do some exploring in it, but then she went back inside already.

Breakfast No.2. I'm very very happy because I can say 'waith' and 'anpanman' and Mummy knows I want a bowl of rice with furikake sprinkles on it! I had my rice with Baikinman today, then Dokinchan.

I went to play with Daddy for an hour. His shop is fun, and he has the Wiggles too!

I sat in the car and cried. When I wiggled and protested that I didn't want to get out of my seat, I thought Mum would realize I wanted to keep driving. But she's so dumb, she just said 'Well stay there then' and went to the Post Office without me. Boo hoo!

Went for a ride in the shopping trolley. I didn't like sitting in the trolley at first, but then I found a really fun game of pushing Mummy away from the trolley and she kept nearly falling over. I helped Mummy hold the bananas, then the Anpanman toothpaste and then the yogurt. A lady gave me a sausage. I thought it would be a good idea to poke the toothpick through the yogurt lid, but Mummy disagreed with me and threw it away.

I had a pot of peach yogurt for lunch, it was so yummy I ate all of it and wanted another one but Mummy wouldn't let me. She gave me some bread but I didn't want that. My tummy is FULL of rice and dried fish Daddy gave me.

I had another nice cuddle with Mummy then had nap. I love sleeping.

I woke up a bit early and didn't feel right. Mummy was being all busy and not cuddling me, so I was sad. I tried to let her know I wasn't happy when she moved the TV by kicking my legs, but she ignored me. I was so desperate to let her know how frustrated that made me feel that I threw myself back on the couch but Daddy's guitar was on it and I bumped my head. Mummy laughed and kept vacuuming! Horrible Mummy but she's my only one so I asked for a huggle. I didn't know why I was crying anymore I just felt awful and I needed a cuddle! Mummy gave me a nice cuddle.

I played with my sisters again! I was so happy when Lena came home that I jumped up and down.

We all went in the car together. I love going on adventures in the car with Mummy and my sisters.

We all played on the slide at Keio Academy. Amy bought me some juice. It was so much fun! But Mummy didn't realize it wasn't time to leave yet, and I tried to tell her. I tried Japanese (matte) AND English (up! up!) but she didn't get it and we had to go.

Lena and I had great fun running around the laundromat. I can just reach the tap from the bench!

We had a yummy dinner, my favorite - soup. I sat in the big chair! Lena didn't seem to mind sitting in my highchair. There was another big chair spare but she sat there anyway. I like to sit on the big chairs anyway. Sometimes I climb into the highchair just to let Mummy know I'm REALLY hungry - if telling her 'eat eat food' and pointing at my mouth, and bringing her a bowl and saying 'soup!' or 'waith!' doesn't work.

I sat down for my medicine. I'm good at sitting down, but my mouth gets tired from holding my mouth open so long.

Lena tried to get my nappy off but I'm too fast for her, ha ha!

Lena got my nappy off. But that's okay because then we got in the shower. Lena didn't make a bath so I made one. I put the shower in there, so then she remembered and we got in the bath and it was fun playing in it while it was filling up. I called out to Mummy and she came, but she only got in the bath for a little bit then we all got out.

I managed to lounge naked on the sofa for a few minutes before they caught me. It was okay though cos I really was tired and wanted to get my Anpanman pyjamas on and go 'nenne' and 'sheep sheep' with Dorothy the Dinosaur.

I had another lovely cuddle with Mummy and some goodnight milk. But I'm a big girl now, so I took my water bottle and my chuppa and rolled over and went to sleep on my own.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Hospital Day

FOUR hospitals today, I think that's a record.

First, the dentist, to check Lena's tooth. She had it removed last week, rather than put a filling in a baby tooth. We were supposed to get it checked on Friday, but I got too busy (with those high-heel brogues). There was no time to check Amy, much to her relif.

Then I stopped by City Hospital, where the girls are being seen by a pediatrician for their asthma. I just wanted to know what time/day my next appointment was. But the receptionist didn't listen to me. I'm pretty sure I used all the right words, but she started drowning me out with 'hai hai' before I'd even finished, convinced she knew what I wanted. Why oh why do Japanese think anticipating your needs is such a great virtue!

I got worried when she told me to sit down. I've gone in to ask for the dates before, and just simply got told them and left. But I concluded she was just a bit slow...incompetent...I was wondering if she was getting each child's file out in person individually, looking up the information manually, then putting it back and coming back to the desk to get the next card and start the search all over again. How hard can it be to find out the date and time of your appointment?

So I wasn't too surprised when she finally finished, 15 minutes later, and called me to the desk to get my appointment numbers. A nurse said 'Where are the children?' 'Not here' I said. 'I only wanted the date and time'. Nurse looks at receptionist, who looks a bit shocked, then realizes what she's done. I just hope she realizes that it's because she assumed she knew what I wanted and didn't listen, and doesn't conclude that it was my fault.

However, in the meantime I'd seen the girls' doctor in the office, so before they could even begin to apologize and start making amends, I said 'But they're waiting in the car, so I'll go get them'. Might as well, since we were there! (Just as well, as a typhoon hit later in the week!)

We took a break for lunch and a nap, then headed off to the dermatologist to get their warts seen to. The freezing isn't supposed to hurt, but they seem to be in a lot of pain. Perhaps only one more visit and the warts should be all gone. I hope for their sakes they don't ever come back! I think they'll put up with them for longer next time...

Rounding out our hospitally day was a visit to the OB clinic to see Aunty Mie, who had a hysterectomy. She was fine, very bored. We brought her flowers. There are so many rules for bringing people flowers in Japan. Can't be in soil, or it suggest a long stay (taking root) can't be chrysanthemums as they are too funereal. At least the florist knows what's appropriate!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Just testing

A Week in Shoes

A facebook friend commented recently how thrilled he was to NOT HAVE TO WEAR A SUIT! Looking at it from a strictly career point of view, that's entirely logical - there's a definite progression in jobs, from jumpsuits to uniforms to suits and at the apex - wear whatever you please.

However, this simplified list leaves out one little interruption in many women's lives - being a Mum. This is a jeans and t-shirt job, and while it's the most important role I play, and I wouldn't change my part-time status for a full-time career, I still like to feel like a bona fide professional sometimes!

So it was that last week, I approached a week of business English lessons with blouses, skirts, tailored pants and high heel shoes. I could quite easily have got away with jeans and t-shirts, as it was just me and one student in a windowless classroom in the centre of an office block.

Especially the shoes. It's not easy being a shoe fan in a country where there are no ladies' shoes to fit my gaijin feet in a 100 mile radius, and working in elementary schools or at home, wearing inside shoes (ballet flats) or just bare feet. But I do my best!

Day one. 9cm heel. I call them 'the purple ones', even though they are black patent leather peep-toes. The inner sole and lining are purple though, so they are great to wear to an event where you know you are going to have to remove your shoes at the door, because that purple tint looks quite striking in the genkan. It's always a shame to have to leave your pretty shoes at the door, and an absolute tragedy when you have to totally destroy your carefully collated 'look' with a pair of green plastic slippers. So it's nice to have a pair of shoes that you can feel happy leaving there. I wore them because when they are on, they are very plain, and I was aiming for 'conservative/polished' as I was meeting my student for the first time. I teamed them with a black skirt and a short-sleeved purple striped blouse.

Day Two. 9cm heel. Having met my student I felt confident about being a bit more striking. These gorgeous snake skin strappy high-heel sandals have just a little hint of bling. They've held together remarkably well for being 'No. 1 Shoe Warehouse' shoes. They always remind of my sister Rebecca, because I bought her a pair of the same shoes when I bought them. They were on sale for $9. I wore them with black pants and short-sleeved red blouse.

Day Three. 11cm. Getting bolder! By now I had realized that the whole week was actually not about work, or English, or pay checks or professional development - it was about shoes! I wore these with the same black pants from the day before, teamed with a blue wrap-around shirt (that I bought for aforementioned sister's wedding way back in 2000!) and the pretty blue stone necklace and matching earrings Emily gave me before she returned to the US.

Day Four. 7cm. Having spotted these shoes in the closet, I constructed an outfit to match, with a tan suede skirt, olive green shirt and the green stone necklace and earring set given to me by Emily. I don't wear these shoes much. They are too plain, perhaps, while I like to make a statement with my shoes. They are beautiful in a subtle way.

Day Five. 8cm. I just LOVE these shoes. They are SO comfortable (once you get them on). I fell in love with whole idea of high-heel brogues as soon as I saw them in magazines, and HAD to have some. Luckily Hannah's in NZ had a suitable pair when I went back home last. These are the kind of shoes that make you realize that yes, there are still untapped ideas in fashion waiting to be discovered. Why the heck didn't anyone think of this before?? I wore them with a tweed skirt and a black and white blouse with a floral pattern (nicer than it sounds).

Just for posterity's sake, I own six more pairs of heels - 7cm black leather slingbacks, probably my most useful heels for work; 7cm white mules, same; 6cm brown strappy high-heel sandals*; 9cm white strappy wedge heels; 11cm white peep-toe sling-backs and my killer heels - 11cm black strappy sandals. The last two I only ever wear if I know I am going to be sitting down !

*special place in my heart for these, bought for me as a present for my birthday by my sisters, at a time when I was just starting to re-emerge from four years of life in the baby world, and, combined with the denim jacket they also sent, served to remind that babies or no, I'm still a chick who loves her shoes.

Fuma Killers Concert

We ended the day of Erica's birthday at a live concert - both Kanji's band, and the band of Erica's birthday twin Yuki's father and Aunt were playing that night.

Kanji on the left. Okay the pyjamas take a bit of explaining, as do the nurses. As you may be aware if you read this blog, the band used to be called Nakatsu Sex Pistols. Then they got sick of being the Sex Pistols, and decided to cover a Japanese punk band instead. Each time they played as the Sex Pistols, they had a gimmick. It was/is as much a comedy routine as it is a rock band. One night, they dressed up in pyjamas, playing the role of escapees from an insane asylum, and stormed the stage during another gig, taking over the instruments and playing a few songs. On that day, they called themselves the FumaKillers, which means Bug Spray in Japanese. And the nurses? Well presumably they are from the insane asylum too. These two girls have an act where they just get up on stage dressed in 60's outfits and boots and dance rather badly to classic Japanese 60's pop tunes. For some reason their bold amateurishness is really appealing and they became quite popular. So it's really the combination of two slightly odd acts into one very odd act! The lead singer's mask says 'Swine Flu' and I'm guessing those great big needles have something to do with that, or something...

A bad photo or really clever photo-shopping to suggest the atmosphere of the club? You decide. That's Amy and Lena stage right, learning how to be rock fans and hang off the stage.

Aww...she slept through several songs like this! But after she woke up, there was no stopping her - I couldn't get her out of that room for a break outside. Every time she fussed and pointed to the door calling out 'dance! dance!'

Birthday twin Yuuki, also fell asleep! On the right, his aunty Yukiko on vocals and his Dad on the right playing the guitar.

More atmospheric shots outside the club just before we walked home.

(Okay, okay so I don't know how to focus or where the night-shot switch is yet.)

Erica's Birthday Party

The birthday girl.Anpanman and Baikinman. Anpanman is a cartoon character immensely popular with the toddler set in Japan. They don't even need to watch the show, they just recognize his face and get excited. Baikinman was an after-thought, after I had too much cake batter!
Some of her gifts. Note Anpanman again!

The kids all just moved too fast for me to get photos of them! The party was quite short, and I have lost my usual camera (these photos are taken on my video camera). Amy directing the spoon rescue effort. A spoon was dropped on the new canopy roof, under the bedroom window and over the lounge door to the garden. Their attempts involved the bucket, and a hose hoisted up to the second floor with the aid of that gauzy veil and a string of pearls. Girls! Ya gotta respect their ingenuity.

After the party we all walked to the concert venue. The wee birthday girl was had it by then!

Terrific Two

Trying to hold up two fingers!

Playing on her new jungle gym