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 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...:)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Last Saturday, I got up early to go to the dentist. These are two things that should never happen on a Saturday aren't they? MIL and SIL were working, so we took the children with us. They have a great play area in there, so they were fairly content to just play. And so began Operation Root Canal stage 3 When will this end?!? Anyone? It didn't hurt so much this time, and after we have established that I am a manic sleep grinder, he put the temporary filling on nice and low again. Next time we will start with some of the other teeth apparently, because root canals take so long. Erm, ok, as long as he doesn't forget to come back to this one. He says it will be ok to put a filling in when it doesn't hurt when he hits my teeth with a huge iron bar. "Does that ever not hurt?" I asked. Apparently not.

On the Sunday, Y had to it means he gets a day off in lieu this Thursday, when the plumber will come and give us a quote for the dishwasher installation. So Monday, the Spring Equinox, was the only day when we could really do something fun all together. We decided on swimming. So after a hunt for swimming nappies (why do they assume nobody wants to swim when it's cold out?), eventually having to buy a size too big, and then finding the right size at the actual pool (of course), we went inside. Y took L and I took H. In theory, I could have taken them both, but getting one child ready is infinitely easier than two, and when I saw the changing rooms, I was more than glad. Lots of lockers, one two seater bench, and 3 private stalls. We had our suits on under our clothes, so it was fairly easy just to strip off and put our stuff in the locker. Then came the demon hot showers that we had to walk through to make sure our dirty bodies were rinsed off. H, hating water on her face, was not best pleased about this and I ended up picking her up and resting her face on my shoulder. We got to the pool area, and it was a scheduled, everybody out for 10 minutes to check nobody has drowned period. We sat on the edge of the baby pool and waited for Y and L to come out of the changing rooms. Of course, L came out holding Y's hand soaked all over his head and screaming his head off. Y totally oblivious to child fear, was just casually walking with him, letting him carry on, while I was madly gesturing for Y to pick him up.

Anyway, it is a great pool! Baby pool is really warm though, almost too warm for me. Then another pool that goes around the whole area (we had to walk over a bridge to get to the baby pool), two flumes, a rubber ring slide, and a lane pool for ACTUAL swimming. The weird thing is that everyone was just walking around the second one...looked a bit odd. So we stayed in there for just over an hour. It was hot enough and the children looked tired enough for that to be it. It only cost 300 yen for adults and 100 yen for the children, so in keeping with my trying to have fun economically, that was a pretty good deal. After we were all dressed and wrung out, I got some snacks out of my bag for the children. Some raisins and some dried apple. Oh they went at the food. I swear people must have thought I never fed the poor things. H was still shoving apple in her mouth while I was trying to put her jumper over her head. Note..must take more substantial snacks next time...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Swapping Roles

It is very rare that I spend a whole day away from my family (well, my children). On Sunday, I had booked a hair appointment in Tokyo. This seems slightly ridiculous, until I think of past experiences. I have had pink/orange hair, barely-there highlights that ended up, er, washing out (!), and a very badly burned scalp. I had a great hairdresser when I lived in Tokyo, Mami chan. But she was bossy. I think I liked her because we got on well, lots to chat about. But in retrospect, she never really did what I wanted, even though she made my hair look great, and although she did a mean mahogany, she was also really crap at lightening.

So after some good reports, specifically re. blonde toners, I decided to give Sinden a try. I thought, and still think, that their prices are extortion, but I am willing to be a conscious victim at least once a year...

My MIL works at weekends, and my SIL is doing some temp. work at the museum at weekends too. So I knew that this time, instead of going to MILs, handing the children over, raiding the fridge and sleeping on their sofa, that Y was going to have to go it alone. Probably for the first time ever with the two children.

I woke up at 7a.m., dumped a code brown baby on Y while he was still half asleep, and then set off for the station. We are a half an hour drive from the train station, so I parked, and then went for the train. It's amazing what kind of things you can do when you are alone..things that I never really thought about when I was free and single, ha ha. Running up stairs, nipping into the shop for literally 10 seconds, using public toilets without claustrophobia, oh, and did I mention using the stairs?!?

So I took the rapid train to Shibuya, and of course got a seat the whole way. I had chance to read magazines, listen to music, and yeah, I fell asleep on some random man's shoulder. I kind of wish that he had jostled his shoulder to save my dire embarrassment, but ho-hum. So I arrived at just after 10a.m., my appointment at 11a.m. and I found a lovely roadside cafe with tables outside, so stopped for what I suppose was my lunch, as I envisaged being stuck in the salon for at least 3 hours. They didn't really have much, so I opted for a couple of little bread rolls with raspberry cream and chocolate cream (not so keen on the choccie one, but the raspberry one was to die for), and a cappuccino. O.M.G. Cappucino - 500 yen...ah yes, we are in Tokyo, not far from Aoyama-dori, what did I expect? Anyhow, managed to be a couple of minutes late by the time I arrived at the salon. Was very small, but really friendly staff, and a stylist who seemed to know what she was doing. So there I sat...for FOUR hours...Stupid me, thinking that once they cut my hair off, it wouldn't take as long to colour. Er, yeah, not if you are having highlights, right?! So my masses of hair took forever to do. Although she was not the fastest worker I have ever seen. But I took my time, read fashion mags., drank copious amounts of coffee, leading to gowned toilet going and a bit of buzzing.

And finally, at 3p.m., I was allowed to go home without a burned orange head I might add. I called Y and he seemed kind of distant. He had taken the children to the park, and was now having something to eat. Hmmmm, he has had it, I thought. So despite thinking I might have time to shop (or at least browse), I got back on the train. I mailed Y to ask if he wanted me to take the bullet if he was having a hard time back home, but there was no reply, so when Omiya came and went, I decided just to stay on the train I was on. I did have a seat, but I had given it up to some old grannies who took it in turns pushing each other on to the seat that all of them claimed to "not need" until the weakest one just got shoved in. Y mailed back and said sorry but they were at the park because the children were being "norty" and he hadn't seen my mails. At the park at 5p.m..weird, it's the childrens' dinner time. Ah yes, the hungry naughty hour. Why should he know about that?

When I got home, they were all in the bath. Y buzzed me and asked me to take L out and get him ready for bed. Urghhh, I was exhausted, but ok, will do. After they were all out of the bath, I heard Y mutter, "thank God"...

It turns out that they went to the park in the morning. Park had a yaki-soba stall, so Y had bought some for him and the children -yum, grease...then they had come home and they (probably only Y) were too full for lunch, so Y had decided that 3p.m. might be a good time to feed them the fish that I had left. This was the time that I had told him to give them a snack...lunch is usually around 11:30

Then, they were grizzly at around 4p.m. (dinner usually at 4:30-5), and L had a dirty nappy, but instead of changing nappy, Y forgot and they headed out to the park...again...They came home at 5:30 and Y changed L's nappy only to find the meanest nappy rash ever (erm, two hours sitting in poo?).

At one time, I would have been stressed out at this. Angry even. But I realised something a while ago, and that was that I only know what to do with the children because I have been through this trial and error. I have learned that they get grizzly when they are hungry. I have learned not to give them stuff from park stalls. I have learned to check nappies and change any dirty ones straight away. I have learned that the later dinner is, the later bath, bedtime is, and the grizzlier the children AND me. I have learned these things, but STILL I break some of them. I sometimes start chatting to my family on messenger at 6p.m., when I should be getting in the bath with the children. I know what will happen, but I do it anyway. So while I wrote everything down for Y re. the childrens' routine, I know that you don't think about the consequences until you have to deal with them. So I told Y to take it easy and I went about getting the children ready for bed.

I think this kind of day is really great for Y, but I also had the chance to put myself in his place. I travelled a lot further than he usually does, and I walked quite a bit, but I sat on my butt and didn't work or think about much for four hours, then came home. And I have to say, when I walked through the door, the last thing I felt like doing was helping with the children.

So was a tiring, but pretty nice day, and the weather is really picking up - Yay! Spring!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sagittarian and Hair

It makes more sense if you read the book photos from the bottom...sorry for the cricked necks :(

While sorting out the storage room shelves today, I came across a little horoscope book that my sister sent me many moons ago. It is mostly a humourous book, but a lot of it rings true (or some of it at least DID). Here are some pics. I will leave it up to your imagination to guess which are true.

And a slight, but fun dilemma is what to do with my hair on Sunday. I had planned to go with a just less than shoulder length bob, but as time goes by, it seems to be getting shorter and shorter in my mind..Hmm, this is often the case with me. I get bored/fed up with my long hair. There are some days when it looks ok. Some days I might even go as far as to say it looks nice, but I have to say that I am definitely fed up with the length. When I go for a crop, I often regret it and it's a circle of cut short, grow long, cut short, grow long again, etc. etc. It sounds strange, but in some ways, I feel as if my hair is in the way, dragging me down, that kind of thing. And although my hair is fine-ish, I have a lot of it, and the brushing is getting to be a bit of a pain. So in my search for different hairstyle images on the net, I have come to some conclusions. Firstly, there are a lot of celebrity hairstyle websites. Secondly, a lot of these celebrities have long hair. Thirdly, the celebrities that DO have short hair, fit into a definite category, personality-wise. Mostly they carry themselves well. They have CONFIDENCE. Which is interesting to me (stop reading if it's not interesting to you), as that suggests a bold step and then it comes back to the whole hair and femininity point.

I recently heard a story (thanks Joanne) about a woman who cut her long hair into a bob and her boyfriend went mad at her. She "had to" grow it back. Men are weird about hair...I read in one of those Men are from Mars follow-ups, that men are conditioned to like long and blonde hair above all. Found that very odd. I have to say, I see a lot of women with long hair around (and of course lots of lighter colours), BUT, I think short hair is a lot more common here than back in the U.K. I'm not sure whether this is down to hair type, because I think Asian hair looks fantastic short. And I kind of doubt that it's a confidence thing? Anyway, I am rambling.

So the bob, which in itself contains loads of different styles, is the way I am going, having had "boy short" hair a few times, and looking like, er, a boy. I LOVE the feel of short hair, especially on the back of my neck though, so it's probably going to be a chin length one. I imagine it will be pretty wavy, as usual, but that's what straighteners are for :) Time for a change!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday again?!?!

I can't believe I wrote that last post on Monday! Time really does fly. Well my new cleaning plan worked until Saturday, and that was just to wipe down the stairs, so I got that done today instead and finished today's jobs by about 11:30 Then L and I had lunch and now he is napping upstairs. He can usually get by without a nap, but I kind of want to prepare him for the hoikuen, when he will be put down for a nap after lunch. It usually takes him about 5 minutes of chattering and playing with his activity centre, and then he sleeps until I have to get him up at 2:30 to go and pick H up, so he is better off for a little snooze anyway. Not sure how H will take the napping, as we have had a deal since she was two that she was "too big for a nap" Her words, not mine, but I didn't mind because she sleeps so well at night anyway.

Last week was a bit of a blur. I think it was mainly down to my tooth situation, which I can't even really say was toothache. More of a very uncomfortable pressure and due to the temp. filling, I couldn't close my mouth properly and woke up more than a few times grinding my teeth which probably didn't help matters. So the weekend started off with a horrible congestion headache. I tend to worry and stress quite a bit, but have tried not to let little things get to me lately, after seeing what stress can do to your body, but I think the tooth is what set it all off. I couldn't even do yoga to try to settle down, because whenever I bent my head, even a little, I felt as if my head would explode. On the up side, I have now made very good friends with "Pablon" meds. for decongestion/runny noses/hayfever, etc. I am always really happy to find Japanese medicine that works, so hooray for Pablon!

Today I'm feeling much better and hoping that I can hold out for the dentist until 20th. They are so booked up, but I would really rather go there because the dentist is so great (and that's big for me to say, because I HATE going to the dentist!). I have my hairdresser appointment on Sunday, and am still a bit hesitant over what to have done. I want my highlights topped up so am travelling to Tokyo in the hope of not getting a burnt scalp and orange hair, but still not sure about the cut...I had originally wanted it chopped off into a short bob, but am kind of liking my locks this week. This is fairly typical for me, but I am also bored, and want something that doesn't take an hour to straighten! So, we'll see how the mood takes me on the day :) Then hubby is working on holiday weekend, so it's just me and the little ones. H finishes kindie on 15th, so there will be 3 weeks until start of term at daycare. Lots of activities to plan!

Then the last weekend of the month, the plumber is coming round to give us a quote on a dishwasher. Y took the one from MIL's house. There is only MIL and SIL, and they both work full-time, so there are not really all that many dishes to wash. They apparently never used it. I was reluctant at first, but said we could give it a try. It's a counter-top one, so it's pretty dominating on our little counter, and it doesn't really hold a lot. Or rather, it doesn't hold anything big. If we ate a more Japanese diet, with lots of little dishes and bowls, then I think it would work just fine. Unfortunately, it also doesn't have space for any pots and pans, so I am still washing up at least 3 times a day. On the up side (you will notice I am saying that a lot ;) ), I have found out from having the counter top one, what it is that we need. The drawer type built-in dishwashers that are popular here have lots of problems, according to the neighbours, and they also don't really hold a lot, so we are looking at front open big ones. Miele is my brand of choice, as the running costs are really low (around 8-11 yen per wash) and they hold a lot more than the drawer type. So the plumber will come round, climb under the floor storage compartment and have a look around. Y has informed me that he too will be "going underground" to take photos...he was very excited about this possibility. I will be sitting in the living room with my claustrophobia to keep me company.

And alas, MIL is stopping her "financial assistance" as of the new tax year...arghhhh! So I am going to have to tweak the budget even more, and hope that my employer gets new contracts for me to teach. I have also been thinking that it's time to try to get some pre-schooler students to teach at home, so am researching how much people charge in the area, making up a curriculum and then advertising for students. Any advice on this will be greatly appreciated!

Well, time for my 2 o'clock coffee and Gray's Anatomy before out again for H!

Monday, March 1, 2010

New day, new month, new doc.

I'm not sure where exactly I heard it, but someone on t.v. the other day said that it's never too late for a new start. So I figured in the spirit of a new month, season, week, etc., that I would forget everything bad that may have happened recently and start this week as I hope to go on. Monday is as good as any day to do so.

I was woken at 4a.m. by a crying H, who upon closer investigation was sitting on her potty in her room crying because her trousers were wet. She had been sleeping curled at the bottom of her bed, so well away from the waterproof pad placed carefully under a blanket (it's a bit cold otherwise) and her sheet. I stripped the bed, threw the sheets down the stairs, cleaned her up a bit and put some dry trousers on her, then took her into our bed. She wriggled for at least an hour, and I found that she was the best hot water bottle I had ever had, and she returned the favour by resting her cold feet on my stomach. At 8a.m., I awoke with a start, left a very asleep H and went to get L up from his cot where he was singing and playing with his activity centre. After deliberating about what to do with H re. kindergarten, I decided to wake her up and we had a very speedy washing, dressing and breakfasting and got out of the door at 9a.m. I apologised to the teacher for a. being late, b. forgetting her pumps and as I got in the car, I realised that I had also forgotten to pack her hat..

L and I drove to Yamaya, an off license that has lots of very reasonably priced imported goods, to pick up cereal, tinned toms., and some little wholewheat crackers that I get for the children (and they LOVE), Dar Vida. But horror of Dar Vida :( Now this same thing happened with the Weetabix, which I now get from FBC, so I am hoping they are just out of stock, although I fear that that's it on the Dar Vida front..I finished up getting some Cracottes instead, although the Dar Vida are excellent for on the go snacks because they are all packaged up in 8 cracker packs that I can just slip in my handbag.

Anyway...I came home, and put my NEW housework plan into practice, even though I really did NOT feel like it. I hung out the laundry and blitzed the playroom, living room and kitchen. I found that giving L the hoover while I dust, keeps him quiet and he managed to actually do some cleaning with it! When it was my turn, he wasn't so impressed, but he didn't really throw as big a tantrum as usual, so I am thankful for small mercies.

Then I put him in the cot for a nap after lunch. While I was tidying upstairs, he woke up SCREAMING about 45 minutes after I had put him down. Fortunately, or unfortunately it was time to pick H up anyway. I put him in the car, literally kicking and screaming at this point, so I was a bit worried that he might actually be poorly. My plan had been to take both of the children to my usual pediatrician in Maebashi (bit of a drive, but she knows us well and speaks English). After waiting in line to pick H up with a SCREAMING L, I decided that maybe a long drive was not such a good idea. So I drove to the nearest doctor. I had been there once before, so I knew there would be no form filling in and confusing medical kanji to be flummoxed by. As soon as we got into the waiting room, and the children saw the little play corner, L totally stopped crying...typical. This always happens, so you'd think I would have learned, but no. He cries so hard and for so long, that I convince myself he is on the brink of death, suffering from meningitis or some equally life-threatening illness. Then quick as a flash, he is fine.

Anyway, the doctor was lovely. I told her that they had both had colds, and that since yesterday L's eyes were really gunky, and that H had complained of itchy eyes too. She examined them both really kindly and efficiently and didn't speak to me like I was an idiot, which is always good, but also didn't jabber off a whole load of difficult language. So I was pleasantly surprised when I managed to understand that they had hayfever, and that L's had developed into an infection from him rubbing his eyes constantly and had worsened due to his cold. She gave us some eye drops, and some meds. I have to admit, this is the hardest to understand..what to give, who and when, etc. but it is all clear now. I think I will go there all the time from now on. To be honest, I think the Maebashi doc. is a bit crap. She constantly gives antibiotics and steroid creams, and would never really consider hayfever even when I mentioned it once. I suppose I was all flustered about not being able to understand the language, but at the end of the day, I can describe the symptoms and pretty much understand the diagnosis, and shouldn't worry as long as the doctor examines the children, right? So this was the best new thing for today :)