Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Starts all over the place

To mirror our return to old ways, I am moving back to my old blog address:


Hope to see you there..

Back we go!

In continuation from my last post, we are now officially quitting the hoikuen. Dun, dun, duuuuuuuuun! No time for regrets. Most important thing is the children. And I KNOW Hannah will be thrilled.

Y told them that my working hours are not stacking up as they should be, and so affording the childcare is a problem, and I will return Hannah to the youchien. If the youchien start the one year old morning class, then it will definitely be good to enrol L there as well. The GREAT thing is that we can quit the hoikuen this month, and start back at the youchien after golden week. It seems quite sudden, but then it's not really long enough for Luka to mind (although he still hates going, so it should be no problem there) and it's good that H and her friends won't have forgotten each other. She has made a few friends at the new place, but still pines for her old mates.

So LAST moving! Fingers crossed!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bum Bum Bum

Today I arrived at the hoikuen to find yet another shuffle. Last Friday, L had been in another classroom because one little girl had thrown up in his usual one, and they were cleaning up and disinfecting the toys, etc. Today, yet again, another different room. Although I got stopped before crossing the nursery threshold,

Teacher: "How is L's poo?!?"

Me: "Erm, it's ok.",

that seemed to be the password and they let us in. Apparently two more children had had sickness and diarrhoea, so they were disinfecting the classroom again.

Me: "Sounds like Noro virus."

Teacher: lots of sucking teeth and avoidance noises, i.e. Yes, it does, but I am not to say that in case there is a parental uproar "Erm, can you pick L up at noon today? It's ok if your work is busy, but a lot of mothers are picking their children up after lunch today."

Me: "Hmm, what day is it today? Monday, erm, yes, that will probably be ok" (liar, liar my pants are on fire)

So we went into the new room, where they had brought the stuff, hat boxes, towel hangers, etc. and put all of L's things ready. Then we went to H's room, where she looked as deflated as ever when we get there and once again asked me if I could pick her up after lunch time (before naptime), and I once again said no. Technically I could have done, but I didn't think it wise to start a routine of her coming home early for no reason.

So I left the place, feeling like a crappy mother once more. I thought of H at naptime, just lying staring at the ceiling for over two hours...when she was used to singing songs, playing outside twice a day, doing athletics, getting her wellies on and pulling potatoes from the farm at the youchien. That thought just keeps coming back to me. It may sound like a stupid comparison, but to me it would be like watching paint dry...ugh, what a dreadful waste of time. I came home, did the housework, then off to pick L up. When I got there, he looked happy enough, but apparently he cried ALL morning. The teacher said,

"it's weird, because he's usually happy enough in the other classroom."

I offered, "maybe it's because he's in a different classroom?"

"Oh, maybe," she replied, as if the thought had not once crossed her mind. "He had settled in ok, but now he's crying again. He must be that sort of type that is happy for a while, and then upset again suddenly."

"Maybe he now feels the change in his lifestyle (i.e. him going to nursery) is permanent, instead of just a temporary stage. So he is now sad for the old routine." (This snippet of info. was brought to me by my elder sister, thanks Joanne ;))

"Do you think so?" she questioned, disbelievingly..."well he is eating his food though, so he must be happy enough."
I swear, these women know nothing about child psychology. All of their information comes from hard evidence. Food and poo. If that's regular, and of the desired consistency, nothing to worry about. When we left, there was a little baby sitting on the floor, tears streaming down her face, SCREAMING, and nobody doing anything about it. I talked to her a little bit, and she calmed down (much to my surprise..I usually MAKE children here cry), and I thought, why couldn't the teachers have done that? And that おだまり woman...there is something really odd about her...she just stares at me blankly..like a psycho O_O

So I was asked if it was possible to pick L up every day this week at noon. I said I would have to ask work...but to be honest, it was kind of nice to have L home at that time today. We had some time together for the first time in three weeks, and I really enjoyed it.

After all this, I just started thinking how this situation is a positive one. And I couldn't really find any more benefit than the previous situation at the youchien.

The P.T.A., sure, I don't have to do so much at the hoikuen, but there is a lot of writing notes every morning, and laundry is greatly increased due to bedding, changes after every speck of dirt lands on an item of clothing. Plus, I heard about one foreign mother offering monthly English lessons to the youchien in exchange for her P.T.A. duties, so that would be a possibility. They have lessons now, but not from a native, and free would be better than paying...

I get 9a.m. - 4p.m. to do housework, have some alone time, and plan lessons. This is true, but then I have only one lesson a week as of now, the housework takes two hours tops, and I had plenty of alone time when L was napping, or after the children were in bed. Plus, although I enjoy my single time, I can't really relax if I know the children are unhappy.

L can go to hoikuen, whereas he is too young for youchien. But you know, in the beginning, I wasn't really ready to let L go to hoikuen. Y kind of persuaded me by saying that I might be by the time April comes along, and that it would allow me to work more if I got the opportunity. I said maximum I would want him to go three times a week. But with the whole lying about working business, this isn't really possible. I HATE lying. I'm sure I look shifty as anything when they ask me about work, or drop the children off wearing jeans...

So I got Y to call the youchien in his lunch break to ask about the possibility of H coming back there, and if there was any chance of L starting when he turned two. I was already thinking that if there was no chance for L, that he could stay at home with me. The teacher said, OF COURSE H would be welcomed back. Apparently she was "a leader" there, so very popular..hmm...hope this doesn't mean bossy. As for L though, the youngest class would be too old for him. BUT, they have been thinking of opening a class for one and two year olds, and if they do so, it will be from this June! The only thing is, the day would be from 9a.m. - 12p.m. But how perfect is that?!? If you don't think about work...that is.

So after talking with Y on the phone after work (well at 5:30, so just the official, after his work..), we decided that it would be best for everyone if we went back to the youchien. I hate to make all of these changes for the children, but it's just been a little while, and when I asked H what she would think about being back at her youchien, her little face lit up, and she gave me a huge hug. Of course that brought me to tears. Ok, that did it. Back to the youchien it is.

Checking my e-mail this evening after the children had gone to bed, and found one from my employer, saying he has two possible students for me...typical. One is a mother of a one year old, who wants lessons in her home. That one COULD be worked out if she didn't mind me bringing L, or if I taught her while he was at youchien (if they start the lessons). The other one is free from 1p.m....oh bum bum bum. So I feel a bit crappy about that, but then my employer did say that he would have work for me from the beginning of April. We have quite a good relationship, so I explained the situation to him, and hopefully we'll be able to find some part-time work for me regardless. I could still work the hoikuens if they had some care for L while I was teaching, like I used to do when I took H.

So it's a kind of whirlwind as far as decisions go, and I keep doubting just a little about making the change, but already I feel a lot less adrenaliney (yes, that IS a word now...) than before. I think the hoikuen is good for if I DO work, if having L at home with me would drive me nutty, and for getting jobs done. But the truth is, I miss him. I miss H too. Coming home at 3:30 is a world of difference from 2:30 Having time alone to get things done is great, but I had children for a reason too. I'm pretty sure that this is the right decision.

Friday, April 23, 2010

All the time in the world

So the children have been at the new hoikuen for two weeks now. L still cries when I turn into the car park, and says, "nooooo" in a really deflated hauntingly sickening tone that makes me feel like crap. This morning was no exception, but on the way from the car to the gate, I noticed he was singing away to himself. Ahhh, he is very good at tugging at my heart strings to get what he wants...and then the next minute he is fine. He even waved bye bye to me this morning, which was a big improvement! H is still getting used to it too. The hard part for her is that there is a nap time after lunch of about two hours O_O H hasn't napped since she was two, when she told me in no uncertain terms that she was much too old for a nap and we agreed that she could go without one. Besides, she was sleeping 12 hours at night, and I didn't really want that to change. So at nap time, she lays on her futon and does nothing. For TWO hours. I think that would drive me insane too :( One day this week, however, probably due to her hayfever meds., she slept for the whole two hours. She keeps asking me to pick her up after lunch, and it breaks my heart. I kind of wish that the teachers would just sit her down with a book, or a pencil and some paper. Lying around doing nothing is just ridiculously boring. She was used to going outside twice at youchien, and now they only go out once, in the morning. She loves running around and climbing. Most of the time is spent eating and sleeping :( So they arrive, play outside for an hour, go in for morning snack, then I assume play and sing, then have lunch, then sleep, then wake up and have another snack, and then I come and pick them up. Bit stressed about that for H. L is still young enough to benefit from a nap in the daytime, so he sleeps, although not on his futon..Usually on some teacher's shoulder, or in the pushchair.

It has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster to say the least. I leave two children who I know feel uncomfortable and think they would rather stay with me. I overheard one of the teachers saying, "おだまり" (shut up) to one of the crying babes in L's class and was horrified. She is definitely one to watch. I am not working during the week yet. Not at all. Just one lesson at the weekend, and still waiting for my "employer" to get some contracts for me. Plus the budget is getting stretched to pay for this childcare. Y is working until 11p.m. on average, some days coming home after 3a.m., but leaving earlier than before, at around 7a.m., just before I get up. So on lots of days, I never see him. I worry about his health more than anything, and just hope that this is just because he has only just started in the new department. But in the interests of positivity, here are the pros:

  • Y is encouraged to claim lots of overtime (unlike the last place, where it was frowned upon), as his colleagues all agree that their working hours are too long, so they need more staff. So although our expenditure is increasing, luckily so is our income.
  • The children are getting to play with other children and getting their Japanese language skills up to standard, which is good when Y is so busy at work!
  • I have found that I can get a lot done around the house when the children are at daycare, so that when they come home, we can have a quality few hours together instead of a whole day when I am running around trying to acheive the impossible and getting ratty with them.
  • After spending a whole day going out with the children for a fun day, I have realised that nursery IS a good thing for everyone. I am much more relaxed and nicer to the children. In a perfect world, we would be happy and spend every day together and play and have fun, but in reality it just doesn't work out. Whoever said having two children is not much different to having one was lying..or needs to contact me immediately and tell me their secret. Spending a bit of quality time together is so much better than spending lots of time with a grumpy mum.
  • I have researched our summer holiday in Guam, the first proper family summer holiday (if you discount our weekend at the beach in Niigata), found a good deal if I book hotel and flights seperately and found we can afford it if we skip our annual trip back to the U.K., so that will be good for hubby too, instead of us all just swanning off for a month and leaving him here. Ooh, and my friend used to work for Marriott, so she may be able to get us a further discount on the hotel (bonus!). Can't wait to just get to a nice white beach :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Letting go...again.

The bags I made
Start of the ceremony

Congratulations board outside the nursery

My little girl :)

typical timer shot..

After a pretty stressful couple of weeks trying to entertain two children in a house filled with colds and hayfever, yesterday was the day. The hoikuen (nursery) entrance ceremony! I finally finished making all of the cloth bags that the children needed, got all of the things together: bibs, nappies, wipes, plastic bags, face towels, hand towels, changes, lunch box (just for the rice, as the nursery will provide the rest of the meal), futons, etc. etc. ETC. and was woken at 6a.m. by a thoughtful little boy who made sure we didn't oversleep. Y was already downstairs working as he was taking the morning off for the ceremony. We dressed ourselves up. I didn't go over the top with the children because I really didn't see the need to buy a little suit for L that he would probably never wear again, and H had a pretty little dress, although on the day it was really cold and rainy, so in the end she wore a thicker dress, but still looked pretty. I realised that I am a lot calmer about dress and all those unimportant little things these days, so I was happy about that.

When we arrived, we took a quick look in each of the classrooms, H is in Moon class and L is in Star class. This is pretty funny, because L is obsessed with the moon..he walks around saying, "mOOn..stARRR" for a lot of the day. Along with "choo choo", and "uh-oh, spilt it" so cute. Anyway, H decided she had to check out the toilets, and went in on her own while I waited at the door. Wherever we go, the first thing she wants to do, is use the toilet. And if there is a little girls one, all the better. That over with, I noticed that there were triplets in the class..and twins...what are the odds?!? There are quite a few multiples around these days. I am thinking a lot of it's due to the IVF? So they seemed fairly friendly, I sent H off to play with them, and she ran around with them for a bit. Then we found her peg, drawer, and towel hook, oh, and shoe box. She was a bit annoyed that I had forgotten her pumps, but in my new found calm, I told her that we would bring them tomorrow, and she said, "my feet are cold" and then I felt wretched.

Then we went off to L's classroom, where there seemed to be a whole load of people, we picked up his little notice book and hat, and then went into the hall. After this, it's all a bit of a blur. There was singing, dancing, and a weird skit by the teachers. But the children all seemed to like the weirdness, so it was all good. H was sat next to another little mixed race or foreign girl. I think she is phillipine, but I could be wrong. Anyway, they just sat and STARED each other out. It was quite weird. H told me later that the little girl doesn't talk and just blinks every so often, so H was copying her...I told H maybe the little girl was just shy and to smile at her next time. Then the teachers lined them all up and they went off to the classrooms while we and the little ones were treated to a p.t.a. introduction. This was great though. It turns out that we only have to get involved in 4 p.t.a. activities this year. At the kindergarten it was more like once a month.

Next, we went to L's classroom and they explained all of the things that we needed. This made me angry, because we had had a list for the past couple of months...then they decided to change things...an example, I had bought bibs, and then they pulled out this hand towel that had had elastic stitched through the top to slip over the neck and act as a bib. I told them I had bought them. The teacher told me to bring them in and they would see if they were ok. To this I replied, ok, I bought them. Please use them. What do they think we are?!?! It's a small miracle I made the damn bags, don't refuse my shop bought bibs. Then we were asked to bring around 100 plastic bags..labelled..and to write the names on a certain part of the nappy so that they can see the name when they are folded up after changing...ugh, I had forgotten about all this. Anyway, there were lots of questions from me translated through Y because none of the EIGHT teachers really knew what was going on. Then I realised, we had to go to H's classroom! As we walked down the corridor, H was standing at the door with the teachers, and when she saw us, she ran to me with a quivering lip and held on for dear life. "I thought you would never come" she said, ugh, there's that wretched feeling back. But she held back the tears. She's a good girl, always trying to be brave and make everyone happy..I felt even more wretched.

We chatted to that teacher too. Yes, H likes singing and dancing, and drawing. No, she doesn't have any allergies. Yes, she can go to the toilet by herself. And then that was it. We went home, had a quick lunch, and then Y went back to work. I bit my tongue for the rest of the day while H and L went crazy around the house, because I knew that H was stressed and worried about the new place, although she would never admit it.

This morning, as I want to ease the children into nursery, we agreed they should start by going from 9-11 H and I took L first, and of course he cried when I left, which tugged at my heartstrings and I had flashbacks of H's first nursery days. Then I took H to her class, and again felt emotional. I left the nursery, went to the car and then just let myself cry. After having stomach problems due to stress, I decided that if I need to cry, then I should. After that, I felt much better and went off to do some grocery shopping. The two hours flew by, as I thought they would, and when I got to the nursery, L was playing outside in the sandpit. He was relatively calm, and didn't cry when he saw me (as H did at that age, as if to say, "HOW could you LEAVE me?!?!?"), but pointed at his shoes and said, "uh-oh, spilt it"..I guessed as he was already wearing his change trousers that he had spilt his drink all over himself. Turns out that they had taken his socks off and he was outside with shoes and no socks, so it probably felt a bit weird for him..he is never without his socks, unlike H who would never wear them if it were up to her. The hoikuens here often have a no sock policy inside at least. I suppose it's slippy, and they have underfloor heating, so no socks is better. Kind of bugs me though..but that is one of those small things I mentioned earlier.

Then I went to pick up H, who seemed a bit out of it, but I think she was just taking it all in. The teachers encouraged us to stay and play outside for a while, so just as I had gone to pick my children up, they both ran away from me and started playing on their own..typical. Then I got surrounded by a bunch of 4 year old girls with a plethora of questions: "what is your nationality?", "British? Is that the same as English?" (nah, translation didn't work "イギリス人は英語人の同じ?”), "what nationality is she?", "whose mother are you?", "what about him?", "what language does she speak?", "what colour is this hair?" (accompanied by a very gentle tugging of H's hair)...very funny. I tried to answer all of the questions clearly, and they seemed satisfied. I love how children ask the questions that adults daren't. So then I had to drag L and H away in the end..typical.

They seemed tired, but H especially a little calmer. I know they will be fine in the end, but I am still finding it hard with L. I don't want him to go there every day, even though he is registered to do so. I think he is too young, and I want to spend time with him like I did with H at that age. I think it's important for his English too. But because the hoikuen is for working mothers, children are supposed to be there full-time. So it seems as if I will have to lie and say that he is ill 2 or 3 times a week. Big pain :( To be honest, I didn't want him in the hoikuen at all, but Y persuaded me to at least enroll him while we have an employer who will at least say that I am working for 15 hours a week, and to be honest, I need to be available for work, even though he still hasn't got new teaching contracts for me. So I am technically employed, paying for hoikuen, but with no job..fun huh?

On the bright side, I am more available for work, and I have a private model lesson this weekend, not going through my employer, so fingers crossed that she wants to start lessons with me. And fingers crossed that tomorrow goes well...

Friday, April 2, 2010


I have never been a fan of birthdays or New Year. I can get very very excited about Christmas, other peoples' birthdays, etc., but my own birthday..nope. I have memories (mostly teenage and early twenties) of really crap birthdays. When I was studying in Paris and turned 21, (you know, a birthday supposed to be a really big deal, even in the U.K., where 18 is the new 21, 21 is still a big birthday), my bf, who was supposed to be coming to visit, told me that he wasn't, and that was the end of that, the day before my birthday. The amble around art galleries, and the city was the highlight, although a friend thought it very sad of me to spend the day alone. Then me and my friends went out and got insanely drunk, leading to me throwing up on the Champs Elysee (classy), and looking after my drunk friend (seriously...the blind leading the blind) Since that day, and probably following a few birthdays before, I try not to expect too much from birthdays. Then whatever comes is great.

So today is my wedding anniversary. I would say "our", but it doesn't really feel much like that today. Y has been working like stink for the past month. I have hardly seen him this past week. Typically, we have all been sick with awful colds, and I have what can only be described as the insanely heavy and painful period that should be called the "age" of my teenage years. I considered going to see the gynae at one stage, because this erm, is not really normal. But after some internet research, it apparently IS normal and now I am convinced that being a woman sucks. I am also convinced that I am being paid back for a year and a half of no periods... So I have been trying to keep it together while looking after two poorly children, and it has gone, erm, kind of ok considering the circumstances. The housework definitely is on the back burner, although I got a load of it done at the start of the week, and hoping to get some more done tomorrow if Y is here to look after the children. L is so clingy, and after thinking that he was kind of better, his eye looks a bit gooey and he cries everytime I put him down. H is complaining of a sore throat and still has a lovely cough. Oh yes, and it turns out that her teething is still not finished, because there are two more just under the gum, so she is feeling miserable due to that too I expect. When H is sick, she gets wriggly. Anyone who knows her, or L, knows that they are crazy wriggly anyway. They can't keep still. For longer than a few seconds. Unless they are watching a dvd...and even then they are wriggling their bums. So she has been crazy hyper, and talking non-stop. I heard a crow cawing today and thought it was her saying, "Mummy, mummy" - weird, I know. I have been busy making the bags for hoikuen, which starts on Monday, and doing all the odd hoikuen stuff, labelling things, buying weird things that you have to go to five different shops to find, etc. One day this week, Y just didn't come home. He worked through the night. So although I slept, I kind of kept waking up worrying a little. This week has been really hard on everyone. So my point is, that I really should look at my anniversary as I do my birthdays. And I should especially ignore my husband when he says that we shouldn't have got married in April because work is busy...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sick and Tired

Today was supposed to be Y's day off in exchange for working all day on Sunday. However, because he is moving department and has to tie up all the loose ends of his current position, he has been really really busy at work. So he decided that today he would just take the morning off and go in to work after lunch. He said he could get paid extra for it, as I was a bit worried he would just be doing it in his spare time (tends to do that a lot, especially with overtime). I would usually be fine with this, but today I was a bit disappointed, because I woke up this morning with awful catarrh and a cough. Because of Y's overtime, I have been working out later, getting home later, and going to bed later. Last night it was about 1:30a.m., which is late for me. I usually go to bed at about 11p.m. when I'm not at the gym, and at latest, midnight when I am. But I cannot complain about this, because from the beginning, I told Y that he shouldn't worry if he has to work late, or feel that he has to hurry home, because if I can't go to the gym, then I just can't go. His work comes first. Although these days, going out to the gym is a lot more than just going for a work out. If I've had a long hard day, then going out in the car, driving the 20 minutes there, listening to my music loud in the car, and just having time doing nothing important, is a big big stress release for me. It's my firegazing time. Of course, the health benefits are great too! Love the endorphins, but I look forward to getting some physical space between me and home to just get away for a while.

So this morning, the plumber came round to give us a quote for installing the dishwasher. They arrived at 9:30, erm, well, it was an electrician and a rep. from our housing company. They bumbled about a bit and then the electrician left. The plumber arrived one HOUR late..shocking. And they bumbled about a bit more. Then a builder arrived, climbed into a hole under the kitchen floor, crawled commando (not sure he actually moved like this, as I didn't watch him, but I'd like to think he did..) from the kitchen to the tatami room. At this point, the housing company man (think a Japanese Benny Hill), starts rocking backwards and forwards on the floor to try to find the squeaky floorboard that the builder had come to fix. All the time with a glazed expression..and the builder was talking to him through the floor. Oh My God...this was a severely bizarre situation. I really really wish I had videotaped it. Especially when the children started copying the housing man's "dance", and L was searching for the builder's voice...

So the squeaks were eventually fixed, but there was no "quote"...apparently this is something that needs to be drawn up and gone over and over before they will give us a price... But the good thing is, that it is DOABLE, so we will get our 60cm dishwasher with fancy eco modes and salt washes, and the like. All in due time though, but I can wait..a little..;)

So after all that palaver, and cooking and eating lunch, Y went off to work and left me with two huge balls of energy, and a cough tablet that made me drowsy...much coffee later, I bundled the children into the car and set off for Aeon...as did the rest of Takasaki and probably Maebashi too. Eventually found a parking space and walked in with the children. This did not last long. A three year old, a one year old, and a crowded shopping centre does not mix well when you add a worried mother. Of course they both wanted to ride in the car, but after establishing that they were both a bit too big to fit in there together, L rode in there and H walked..or should I say, ran...ANYWAY, let's just say that it was a little stressful and I wish I had taken the double buggy in. Have to say that it's getting really small for H now though, and I'm kind of wondering whether a twin stroller would be too small for H?

So I had planned to just "look" around in the shopping centre, but of course we came back with two tops, four pairs of socks, sunglasses, burriti body butter, and some make-up (all of which for the children apart from the last one..although that included nail varnish for H while she is on school hols...). Bad, bad, bad! But we ended up having dinner at the bakery, and it turned out that the children were really ready for their dinner at 4p.m., so we only had to come home and take a bath. They are now sleeping and have been since 7:30, so all is quiet :) I decided not to gym it tonight because of my cough/impending cold, and Y is taking advantage and working until 10p.m. So here I am with my alone time..wondering whether it's too early to go to bed...:)