Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ballet Concert

The Kumamoto Ballet

We went to Kumamoto on the weekend to go a ballet concert. Karen, who helped me with the AFWJ Journal, has a four-year old daughter who was dancing. That's her on the left, outside the concert hall before she went in to get changed and made up several hours before the performance. The rest of us went on a little adventure.

She looks like she winking because we did the '1,2,3 - open your eyes!' trick, which works for kids whose eyes are sensitive to the light. My Lena is an old hand at this, but it was her little friend's first attempt, and she opened her mouth too! Amy and Lena didn't seem to have a problem with the light, maybe it's true what they say about lighter eyes being more sensitive to the light.

Totally superfluous shots of my three, above waiting in the theatre lobby - with a 2-year old, of course we waited until the absolute last moment to sit down! Below, outside Karen's house.

Fun in Kumamoto

Kumamoto castle
Cherry Blossom

The cherry blossoms at Kumamoto castle are justifiably famous. We aimed for the concert, we had no idea the flowers were at their peak that weekend, and that the best trees were at the castle, and that the castle was right next to the concert hall! What a lovely bonus for us. Above, we had a mini 'hanami', and cherry-blossom viewing party. No beer or sake, just pizza, bentos from the castle and souvenir Kumamoto castle mochi. Along with us was Karen's mother-in-law, and her neighbor's little boy!

They live right next door to a zoo! Not a terribly good one, and we went too late in the day, when the animals were being moved from their concrete cages to their concrete bunkers for the night! These were by far the cutest creatures there. On the right, the Lenas eating breakfast. They skipped the zoo, they were far too busy played ponies!

A gaggle of Japanese princesses

Right outside the theatre, next to the castle, as part of the spring cherry blossom festival, some people were letting people try on a 'juu-ni hitoe' or 12-layered kimono, such as that worn by aristocratic women in the Heian period 1000 years ago, and still worn by the dolls put on display during the Dolls'\girls's festival in early March.

Actually, there were only six layers, but it was still phenomenally heavy! I got a sore neck just getting it put on! The lady 'selling' the (free) experience was advertising it as 'making anyone look 15'. Except me, I just looked like an overweight middle-aged hippy with a fancy dressing-gown. I think my two lovely daughters managed to look 15 though.

Erica of course couldn't fit into them, but she happily amused herself collecting stones from a garden and graciously 'sharing' them with the kimono staff.

A boat ride along the Shira river

We found another nice way to pass the time waiting for the concert to begin, thanks again to the spring festival. Again for free, we were taken for a ride along the Shira river that runs alongside the castle.

Amy fishing for carp with her finger. The boatman warned her they just might bite - but none did, unfortunately (or fortunately - do carp have teeth?).

Lena finding it amusing, me with the boat lanterns - this would be a wonderful ride at night, with a bit of sake...

Karen and her sister Cindy, who arrived from the US the night before.

Erica was fascinated, after she got over her fear when I wobbled the boat getting in.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Best Fright of the Year Award...

...goes to Kanji, for managed to get all four of his girls to scream, at least three genuinely, with one very simple 'walk-in', no planning.

We were upstairs tidying the bedroom. Lena was by her chest of drawers, Amy on the floor sorting some things facing side-on to the door, and I had my back to the door, folding things on the bed.

Lena squealed first, and I kind of ignored it, thinking she was being silly. Then when Amy screamed too, I turned to see what it was that had startled them, only to see a black looming hulk out of the corner of my eye (my dear husband) at which point I too, screeched. Then Erica screamed too, just for effect. I think she knew he was there all along though.

He stood there, saying 'yep' and holding his arms out in a 'here I am' gesture, a bit bemused (confused) if not by the random squealing then by the roll-on-the-floor laughter and pats on the back and "congratulations that was a super fright, you got all of us!" comments.

Happy Birthday Lena - 8!

Here's my adorable eight-year old on her birthday!

And at her party, with her triple-layer heart-shaped marble cake.

And her nutty sisters, one doing strange things with gum, one doing strange things with a shark-bit-me hat.

More cake (above) and more party food (below) including NEW ZEALAND jelly!

Leapfrog Twister. It got a little more complicated after this!

American pizza. Lena wanted a BIG American-sized pizza for her birthday party

And all her presents: From Mum and Dad, a book, pencil set, a Licca-chan (doll) wardrobe, and a big block of chocolate. From Amy, new shoes, and from Erica, pencils and stickers. She also got a HUGE Hello Kitty head cushion, and a couple of keyrings (to hang off her school bag), from her friends.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Taking the Bull by the Horns

And just writing something!

I`ve been tongue-tied/writer's blocked simply because the entry I want to get done before I catch and up and do all the other ones is one about what Erica's saying and doing recently, only she keeps on adding new things every day, so I can never get a complete list!

That and the time it take to upload photos, and the fact that I'm spending most days fiddling about with the AFWJ Journal. I'm really enjoying that, but it sure takes up time! There's not much cooking or cleaning going on here lately, but I have some great ideas for our club magazine and I hope to spend a full year making the most of it!

And then I guess I'll be in the market for a brand new iMac because I'm in love!

Amy is doing her homework at the kotatsu since her desk is in a pickle.

Lena has forgiven Erica for stealing her chocolate earlier today, and even gave her one of the Tim Tams I gave Lena to make up for the lost chocolate.

Erica is riding Lucky the stuffed dog like it was a horse.

Kanji will be home soon, with food I hope.

I am offf to work in a moment, residents at the hospital. Depending on who turns up for the lesson we will either be talking about arranged marriage, your childhood experiences or Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalities and its connection to ovarian tumors.

March Sankanbi

Amy's classroom. The standing up and walking around is normal, apparently. Last month of this chaos! Amy's class had a case of classroom breakdown this year.
At her desk
Amy's work. Above is her calligraphy work, she's pretty good at it, not No.1 but good. It says 'niji', which means 'rainbow'. Below, he 'eco' or ecology poster.

Erica practicing being at school. She's quite disruptive during the open days, but she's relatively quiet when we let her sit at an empty desk! We have to swap her between us, or take her out into the corridor. Kanji won't do it without me! He'll take her to Baachan's rather than try to rein her in while watching the class! On the right, Amy's amazing hair, which she refuses to cut. I have trouble even getting her to trim it!

Lena - their class are like a squad of regimented soldiers compared to Amy's - so they have leeway to have some fun. The teacher set up a parent-child activity - playing the traditional Japanese game 'karuta'. 'Karuta' means 'cards' and the cards have a poem printed on them. The teacher calls the first line of the poem and the players have to slap their hand down on the second half of the poem written on their cards. I think the game was simplified for them, (and more so for the parents, who would be quite unlikely to know the poems!) and you only had to match what the teacher was saying, and just beat your Mum or Dad to spotting the card. Of course, Lena won.

With these lightning-fast reflexes (below) how could she lose?
Lena's work: some writing - Personal and study goals for the third semeseter:
A calendar with ducks:

On the way home. It's spring, cherry blossom time! There are a number of different varieties that bloom at different time. The one on the left, with long stamens, was in full bloom. The pink one was just starting; I love how they look against the brown of the bark.

Erica got very tired. So tired that half way home she decided to take a rest on this house's front step (that is right next to the road) She lay her head on the step and looked like she wanted to take a nap right there!