Thursday, July 26, 2007

summer vacation is receiving mixed reviews

I am happy to report that, in general, the summer schedule is working. There have been a few moments of destruction on the part of Sakura and Misaki followed by moments of exasperation on my part. Emi has swimming lessons at her school every morning this week while Misaki only had a half day of regular school on Monday with nothing else scheduled for her until Friday afternoon. Since both Emi and Misaki were not home on Monday morning, it was fairly quiet.

Tuesday morning, however, brought the mayhem. As Emi went out the door at 9:15, I went downstairs with Misaki and Sakura to show them the play area. I gave them my usual speech about the rules to which they agreed most solemnly and as I went back up the stairs I gave myself a pat on the back for having the foresight to make such a schedule. I *am* so clever!

Just five minutes later my peace was broken with a request for bubbles. Sure. I had bought a whole litre of bubbles last month at Toys R Us for just this occasion. I went downstairs and poured the bubble solution into little reusable bubble containers and handed them to the girls along with the blowing wands. I cautioned them to be careful and not spill it right away (one of my pet peeves) and then put the cap back on the big bottle and put it away in the closet. I returned to the living room and continued drinking my coffee while catching up on the news and watching Natsuki. After a bit, I realized that it was quiet. Too quiet. Chikara took a peek out the window and said, with some alarm, that the girls were playing with the water and had a big bottle of bubbles beside them. Crap. I put Natsuki down for her morning nap and went down to see what they were up to. Unbelievably, they had found the big bottle of bubbles and had poured the ENTIRE BOTTLE into the little box where our outside water faucet is kept. Seriously, a whole litre of bubbles down the drain. I'm not sure what they were thinking and actually, this is the problem with the two of them. They don't try to do wrong things, they're not mischievous like that, but they don't think ahead about the consequences of their actions.

I stood for a whole 10 seconds trying to decide what to do. On the one hand, I don't want a repeat of this every day for the whole summer so some decisive action needs to be taken but also the two of them are not used to being unsupervised so how much responsibility needs to put on them for their actions. I sent the two of them inside of the house to wait for me while I cleaned the bubbles off of the asphalt with water from the hose. They were soaking wet so we took off all their clothes in the laundry room and I sent Sakura upstairs so I could talk to Misaki. She knew that she had disobeyed me so I told her what she had done and why it was wrong and then gave her a spanking. I held her while she cried and then we talked together about not doing the same thing again, I gave her a hug and told her I loved her and then we went upstairs to put some clean clothes on. Once we were upstairs I had a talk with Sakura, too, but it was more of a stern warning since she's never been in this type of situation before.

Yes, we spank our kids. It's the third step in our discipline process and we don't use it more than once a month on any of the kids. First we give a warning and if the offense is repeated, a time-out or loss of privilege is applied but if the behavior is repeated then we do, with as much love as we possess, give a spanking. We find that because they know that we will not hesitate to spank them that their behavior is usually changed before we get that far. Both my husband and I were spanked as children and have never felt oppressed or abused but actually appreciate that our parents taught us the pain that comes with disobedience in a safe and loving environment before we were adults and thrown into the harsh realities of life.

So why, if spanking is the third step, did I do it right away? Because I have had this conversation with Emi and Misaki many times before she has already had her warnings and time-outs many times throughout the last two years and since she's 5, she needs to remember the rules previously learned. Anyways, after the two of them calmed down, I sent them outside again with a few more rules and they played without incident until Emi came home around 11:30. I went to the store during this time and bought groceries and all the things that make a household run smoothly. I bought some peanut butter sandwiches for the girls for lunch since I was going to have to get ready for my English class and Chikara was still busy working at the kitchen table. The girls started to wander in while I was putting the groceries away and soon I was able to set out their lunch for them. I was taking care of Natsuki while the girls were eating their lunch so I wasn't necessarily watching them when suddenly Emi yelled out, "Misaki!". I turned to look at Misaki and she quickly hid her hands behind her back. I told her to show me her hands and when she did, I couldn't believe it. She had scraped all the peanut butter off of her sandwich with her fingers and each finger had a big ball of peanut butter stuck to the end of it. I was so mad, I actually had to stop and count to ten. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. It helped a little bit. Again, playing with her food is something that we've been working on with Misaki. So, we had another conversation and another spanking because that kind of behavior is totally unacceptable. Wow, two spankings in one day has got to be some kind of record for our family. At this point, I decided it would be a good idea for Misaki to take a nap during the afternoon while I was gone to teach English.

By the time I returned from teaching English, the girls had had quite a long day and were pretty worn out. Usually Chikara gives them a bath but his parents had asked if they could stop by to talk about my MIL's parents. Grandpa had an ulcer flare up over the weekend and he had to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. They live almost two hours away from where we and my in-laws live and they have been talking of moving closer so that we would be able to help them for emergencies just like this. Unfortunately Grandma is a very picky woman who has an OCD-like affinity for cleanliness.

For example, if you go to use the toilet in her house there are slippers outside the bathroom door to use that have tissue stuffed in them. Once you step into the bathroom there are two parts, a sink room and then the toilet room beside it. The floor of the sink room is covered with newspaper and then when you step into the toilet room, there is a different pair of slippers also stuffed with tissue and then newspaper all over the floor of that room. They had a Japanese-style toilet that is set up about a foot and a half off the floor and you're supposed so take off your slippers and step-up and then squat over the toilet. There, and this is the clincher, she has placed a neat pile of about 10 pieces of tissue right at the place where you're supposed to put your feet while using the toilet. This type of stuff is repeated all over the house so you can imagine how much energy it takes to do all of this. Grandma has been suffering from a problem with her back and so Grandpa has been in charge of taking care of these types of things since he retired 5 years ago. I'm sure not a day goes by that he doesn't wish that he hadn't retired. The stress of taking care of Grandma and being with her in the house all day has really taken a toll on his health and recently he has aged visibly so we weren't very surprised that something like this happened.

The evening that Grandpa's ulcer started giving him problems, there was something spicy mixed in with his food and while he was eating, there was a sudden pain and he clutched his stomach and fell to the floor. Grandma ran to get the phone and call the hospital but no one answered so she called her only child, and only possible help, my MIL, and there was no answer, so Grandpa told her to call for an ambulance and she asked him how to do that. Mind you, he's an 80-something-year old man with a severe pain in his stomach laying on the floor and he had to guide her through all of this. 1-1-9, dial 1-1-9 (our 9-1-1). So she calls and first apologizes for calling and then explains what has happened to them.

You would think that this story couldn't get any better but it does. When the ambulance arrives, they check Grandpa and decide that he should indeed be taken to the hospital. As they're loading him in, the EMT turns to Grandma and says that she should get in, too, because she doesn't look well, either. She says that she has to take care of some stuff in the house before she goes so while Grandpa waits in pain in the ambulance, the EMT helps her turn off the gas, unplug all electrical appliances, throw away their dinner and put the dishes in the sink, get some clothes for her to change into and lock up the house. That EMT is a very patient man. Once they get to the hospital and Grandpa is checked and admitted, Grandma asks the nursing staff to call her a taxi so she can go home and they inform her that, unfortunately, that night is the night of the summer festival for their town so no taxis have been running since 6pm. She tries to call Chikara's parents, but they don't answer, so she sits on a stool beside Grandpa's bed until morning when the taxis are running again. She tried every hour to get ahold of my MIL but they didn't hear since their phone is on the 1st floor and they sleep (separately!) on the 2nd floor.

Honestly, *this* why we have been trying to encourage them to move closer and finally they understand the kind of predicament they can easily find themselves in and are willing to move quickly. They have opened up more about their financial state (good) and have given us more leeway in picking a place for them to live (very good). And so this is why Chikara's parents stopped by on a Tuesday night and consequently why the girls didn't get a bath. Sorry for the detour but I had to write that story.

Wednesday went a little bit better although I still had to go out and tell Sakura that she was *not* allowed to play with the water to which she answered with a surprised "Oh". And actually all day I would peek out the window and see them doing things I had just asked them not to do and everytime the ensuing conversations would go something like this:

Me: Hey, I thought I told you not to play with the umbrellas.

Misaki: But Sakura wanted to.

Me: Who is the big sister? You or Sakura?

Misaki: me...

Me: Then don't let her do stuff she's not supposed to do, okay?

Misaki: okay...

By Wednesday afternoon all the little girls in the neighborhood had figured that our house was the place to be and when I went to call my daughters for dinner, there were 9 girls playing in the entrance to our house. 9 girls. They didn't even really fit but it didn't seem to bother anyone. Emi was enjoying hosting everyone and calling out orders from the stairs (I'm assuming so that she could be taller than everyone) and everyone seemed genuinely sad when it was time to go home.

Today one of the neighbor girls brought corn when she came to play. I'm guessing her mother made it this morning to say thank you for letting her play all day the day before. It was still warm and I was so excited because I hadn't been able to decide what I was going to make for lunch and here the answer was provided. I added some rice and some teriyaki meatballs and we were all set. I was also excited because that meant I was done with cooking for the rest of the day since Chikara's parents usually come and get the kids every Thursday night. Even though they were going to see Chikara's grandparents during the day, they said that they still wanted to come and get the girls. By 5pm, I hadn't heard from them and I had a sinking feeling that they weren't coming so I started to think of something to make for dinner. By 6pm, I hadn't received any answer to my text messages so I went ahead and made spaghetti. The girls were so worn out from the day that they didn't put together that eating dinner at home meant they weren't going out with their grandparents.

They appeared around 7:45pm without an apology and then went on to exasperate Chikara with their lack of a plan of any kind regarding the next couple of weeks until Grandpa goes home from the hospital. Chikara is an only child so throughout my in-law's whole married life they could just do what they want when they wanted to so they totally do not understand that with four kids we need a little bit of advanced warning if they want something from us.

So that has been the first part of our week. I also went and saw Die Hard 4 by myself last night. Chikara went and saw it last week with his work buddies and for some reason I really wanted to see it. Wednesday is Ladies Day so it only cost me 1000 yen ($10) but as I sat down I realized that I have never been to a theatre by myself. I was a very odd feeling but once the movie started, I forgot that I was alone and really enjoyed myself.

Also, recently a friend and I did a book exchange of sorts and, among other things, lent me a few Jane Austen books which then made me want to see the movies but I was unable to rent Emma (with Gwyneth Paltrow) which was a little bit sad. I found it on Amazon and then while I was searching, I also found that they are selling the complete seasons of Little House On The Prairie. I'm tempted to save my pennies and buy them over the next few years and watch them with my girls. Even Chikara remembers watching Little House on TV when he was younger.

Now I'm just sharing random stuff, although it feels good to get it off my chest. One thing about summer vacation is that I'm stuck in the house, but the schedule is working and the rules are starting to have their desired effect. I think we will survive.

Friday, July 20, 2007

summer vacation is here

I am not at all apprehensive about summer vacation. Did that comment surprise you? It surprised the heck out of me! Thanks to the post of a blogger friend, I was reminded fairly early that I should plan ahead for the summer vacation this year. Spring vacation totally caught me off guard this year. I didn't think it would be a big deal. Misaki, Sakura and Natsuki were home with me all day anyways, I didn't think that adding Emi to the mix would make much of a difference, but it did. Emi is truly the big sister and where Misaki and Sakura had figured out how to play together, Emi came and ruined it all. Not that she was mean or difficult, but Misaki naturally preferred to play with Emi and the games that they play, Sakura could not for she is too young and this was frustrating for everyone. Especially me.

Although it took me a couple of weeks, I have devised a strategy (read: schedule), which should help all of us through the next six weeks.

8:00am - wake up
- There are radio exercises each morning at 6:45am that school kids are encouraged to participate in. I cannot think of one good reason to wake up that early and send Emi out the door. She will only be unreasonable for the rest of the day because of the lack of sleep. This is the total opposite of what I'm hoping our summer vacation will be so I will need to have a conversation with our neighbor, Nozaki-san, and let him know that Emi will not be attending. This is one of those times that I'm going to pull the foreigner card and not participate in something that everyone is doing.

9:00am - outside playtime for Emi, Misaki & Sakura
- I have bought some new toys and stocked up on their favorite things (eg. bubbles). I am also creating an inside play area in the entrance of our house. Our entrace is quite wide so I bought another small fold-up table and a small shelving system to store some toys and activities in so that if it's raining or too hot, they can invite their friends in and play together in that area. I've already spoken to Emi about all of this and she's excited (wonders never cease). I don't really know if Sakura will stay outside for the whole morning or if she'll be able to find her place in the activities. I've been sending her out once a week with her sisters for about an hour each time and she's done really well. She does come inside every 15 minutes to give a report of what is going on. I'm worried about her being unsupervised since she's going through a destructive/curious stage but I'm sure big sister Emi will inform me if anything too crazy is going on. Natsuki will be taking a nap during most of this so I will have some time on my hands to take care of stuff around the house.

12:00pm - lunch
- I'm thinking that this will be a good cooling down time for them. Even if lunch doesn't appear until 12:30, I want them to relax for a bit under the air conditioning.

1:00pm - Sakura takes a nap, Emi & Misaki study!
- This is usually the hot part of the day so I want the girls inside although if their friends call to play, I will probably let them go. If no one comes, we'll work on some English study, Emi's summer vacation homework, craft projects, and some piano practice (we bought a keyboard last week - it has weighted keys so it's like a real piano and headphones so it's quiet which is not like a real piano!). All of this makes me sound very virtuous but after spring break, I know that I need to be prepared, also Emi has requested that we study phonics so she can learn how to read English books so at least I know her heart is in it. Misaki may spend most of the time drawing pictures but I'm fine with that, too. Natsuki takes a nap from 2pm so I'll be able to focus on Emi and Misaki during this time.

4:00pm - snack time
- At four, everyone wakes up from naps and I'm off the hook for teaching the girls. At this point I'm kind of at a loss for what to do next so the hopefully the girls will be able to decide for themselves. There may be days when it is too hot to go outside and they are sick of being inside so on those days we will go to the nearest shopping center and run around for a bit.

6:00pm - dinner time
- My goal for the summer vacation is to eat dinner at the table every evening (if we're not out). I have gotten into the bad habit of letting the girls eat their meals on a folding table in front of the TV when Chikara's not home to eat with us. It's just easier and now that Natsuki's crawling, the table is where everything ends up and I can't be bothered to clean it off just for the four of us. Somehow when Chikara is home, dinner seems more like a family affair and we do really enjoy our family dinners. The girls say the most interesting things, especially Misaki, and after the girls have gone to bed, we'll recall the moments that we enjoyed the most and laugh over them again.

7:00pm - video time/bath time
- I've decided that after dinner will be when I let the girls watch TV without feeling guilty about them *wasting* their summer vacation. I'm assuming that by this time they'll be worn out from their day and will lay all over the furniture in the living room and veg out for a bit. Either that or we'll take a bath. I'm not big on taking baths every day. I think it's hard on the skin and it's quite an effort to bathe four girls who don't get that dirty during the day so we economize and take a bath every other day.

8:30pm - tidy up and get ready for bed
- One of the things that Emi has to do as part of her summer vacation homework is "help" so I'm going to give her the job of tidying up the toys each night. Misaki and Sakura can help if they want although it's actually not a big job and it would help me out a lot. By this time Natsuki will already be in bed.

9:00pm - girls go to bed/mommy and daddy time
- Emi, Misaki & Sakura share a room with one set of bunkbeds and a single bed. They do pretty good with going right to sleep and not fooling around. We do not share a room with them and I can't imagine that I would get much sleep if I did so I'm glad that everything has worked out this way. After all the girls are in bed, Chikara and I are slaves to no one and usually spend the time any way we feel like it. Mostly for me it means watching TV, folding laundry, catching up on e-mail, etc. but sometimes we play games (our current favorite being Settlers of Cataan) or talk together.

I should mention that when I say that the girls are going outside to play, I mean only as far as the street we live on. For some reason, all the kids in the neighborhood congregate on our street so the girls are not required to go any farther than their front door to find someone to play with. We live in the middle of the street so the kids have enough time to get out of the way if cars come through but it's not a main street by any stretch of the imagination so it's fairly safe.

I have made three rules for the girls regarding playing outside. The first one is that they are not allowed to leave our street under any circumstances. The second is that they are to play nicely. You wouldn't think that this would not need to be a rule but sometimes the boys outside get too worked up and Emi feels that she needs to "fix" them all. I once caught her chasing a boy two years older than her down the street with a broom. Also, they get into little girl-type fights very easily but if they break this rule, they have to come inside straight away so for the most part they do their best to keep it. The third rule is that if it starts to rain they need to come inside right away. We get a lot of lightning storms around here and I also don't want them catching colds. I had to make this rule because Emi thought it was cool to get soaking wet in the rain. I'm going to implement a new rule about cleaning up after themselves starting from next week.

So there you have it. My plan for a "sane" summer vacation. In the middle of this, both Emi and Misaki have swimming classes at their respective schools but it doesn't last throughout the whole summer so I'll have to watch the calendar carefully to get the right days. Also, we are going to stay at a cabin with some friends and attend our church summer retreat, Chikara's dad's church's summer retreat, a sunday school summer camp and other various summer events. It seems like are lots of fun activities for everybody to enjoy. I have some back-up plans just in case things don't go as smoothly as I hope. These mostly include Chikara taking two of the girls to his work for a day or retail therapy.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

get ready for pictures...

Wow. I can't believe that it's been July for a week already. I have no idea what happened to the month of June. Like it got eaten up whole so I missed it. Wow. Anyways, it is July and July is holding the promise of keeping me busier than usual with a little fun on the side. Last week was spent preparing for Tanabata Matsuri (festival) at Misaki's preschool. I think if you have boys this last statement would seem weird because why would you need to spend a *whole week* preparing but if you have girls, especially four of them, the answer is obvious. For the festival at the preschool, the girls are required (and are excited) to wear Japanese summer kimonos called yukata. Please click the link to find out what a yukata is. It's a really fun event so other siblings will also dress up. Last year the girls were so adorable so I was really looking forward to getting ready for this year, too. It's one of the only times throughout the year that Emi will let me fuss over her clothes and hair.

Emi needed a new yukata because she had outgrown last year's and also Misaki was going to wear it. I had a hard time picking one out for her because they are all so colorful and beautiful. Also, I spent some time picking out hair accessories because that really adds to the outfit, too. I wasn't sure what to do for Sakura because I didn't really have anything that would fit her but fortunately a neighbor of mine gave me a yukata that her daughter had outgrown so everything was set.

The festival was on Saturday evening. I realized that I needed to carefully think out my plan for the day since Chikara wouldn't be home to help during the getting ready part and I didn't want to be worn out by the time we were ready to leave and then not get to enjoy the festival. In the morning after breakfast, I did nothing until about eleven and then I gave Emi, Misaki, Sakura and myself a bath. We had lunch and then one by one they all went to bed to have a little nap. Emi was pretty upset about having to take a nap but I knew we would be out later than normal and I wanted them to be rested enough to really participate. Around 3, I started getting the girls up one at a time to do their hair. Emi was first and I was really surprised when I went in to get her that she was asleep. I mean she was totally out and once I got her downstairs she wasn't sure if she really wanted me to do her hair but I gave her a popsicle so she relented. I think that sometimes bribery is a helpful tool!

Next I woke up Misaki and did her hair. She needed a popsicle, too. Right when I was finished with her, Natsuki woke up so I made her a bottle and she laid on the floor beside me while I checked Emi & Misaki's hair one more time. Last year Emi's hair started coming out halfway through the festival and I wanted to make sure that that wouldn't happen again. By this time it was after four so I woke up Sakura and did her hair. Cute pigtails!

I took a break from festival preparations to call my friend to check what time she was coming to pick us up. I was worried about Chikara getting stuck in traffic so I arranged to go with a neighbor. She has two daughters, the older one is one year older than Emi and the younger one is one year younger than Misaki. She wasn't going to come until six so I cautioned the girls about messing up their hair and started to make a snack which also needed to be a dinner. I just kept throwing food at them until they stopped asking for it!

Around five, I started putting their yukatas on them. A yukata is way less complicated to put on than a kimono but as I got started, I couldn't remember which way to wrap them up. Does the right side go over the top? The left side? Grrr! None of my neighbors were outside so I had no one to ask for help. I just went with my instinct and put the right side over the top. I found out later that I did it wrong and it turns out that you only put the right side over when you're going to a funeral. Sigh...

By 5:30, we were all dressed and ready so we went outside so I could take some pictures of them in front of my neighbor's house since she has such lovely flowers. My house is one of only a couple of houses on our street that doesn't have some kind of colorful vegetation sprawled out in front.

It was hard to get a picture of Natsuki with her older sisters since she's really not standing. I had thought of just sitting her on the ground in front of them but by the time we got to that point, there was quite a crowd watching us and I knew someone would flip out about putting a baby down in the middle of the street where cars drive, just to take a picture of her. It would be too "dirty". Whatever. So now you get a picture of me, too! Almost all Japanese people can do a fancy sitting thing where they scrunch down on their haunches but their butt isn't touching the ground nor their knees. They're just balanced with the whole bottom of their feet flat against the ground. Any child in the world could do it but would eventually stop as they grew older and then lose the ability. In Japan, they continue doing it so as adults, anyone can do this fancy crouching thing which I imagine helps when using Asian-style toilet (another post). I cannot do this, thus this pictures looks odd to me since no one else would crouch like I am.

After taking some pictures, we went back into the house just for a minute so I could gather our things, and then our friends came and we were off. I took some pictures of the girls in the car. They were so excited and full of smiles.

Our preschool is pretty large (there are over 500 students) and because the preschool's playground is not big enough to accomodate everyone, usually they split the school into 3 groups and do the festival over three nights. This year they decided to borrow the grounds of the junior high school that is beside them and have the whole school all together. Basically the main event is dancing in a circle. The kids have practiced the dances so they do them first and then everyone does them together. Because there were so many kids, the teachers had outlined 3 rings on the ground (each one larger than the one before it) and in the center was a mini-stage with 4 large bamboo trees, one at each corner, which had pieces of paper in all different colors tied all over them. The kids had spent the week before writing out wishes and then attaching them to the trees.

Misaki had written that she wishes to become closer to Jesus. We're Christians. Probably Charismatic Christians would be the closest to describe us. Our church doesn't belong to a denomination that one might recognize per se. My family are Christians back many generations and my husband's parents were the first in their family to get saved. Our faith is really important to us so we have thought long and hard about how to teach our children Japanese traditions and culture when almost every one is tied to a religion that we don't agree with. So we teach our children that Jesus is the Son of God and he came to die for our sins so that we can live for eternity with Him. We attend these type of events with them and one day, when they ask, we plan to have more conversations with them. Emi & Misaki have been asking questions about Christianity and Jesus for the past two years and during the Golden Week vacation, they both prayed and asked Jesus into their hearts. I had tears in my eyes.

There you have it. A confession of our faith. I've been wanting to write that for awhile. Anyways, it seems like I entered into a weird paradigm when Misaki wrote a wish to another god about becoming closer to Jesus. Obviously, there will be more conversations to come! Please don't send me nasty comments about any of this. Please!

This year there was a group of preschool teacher from our sister city in China (I don't know which city it is!) so they added a whole bunch of extra talking and demonstrations into the evening's program. The talking was boring and the kids fidgeted and the adults gossiped through most of it. The demonstration part was more interesting. They hired a group of taiko performers. They played a few traditional festival songs (some of their members played a recorder-looking type of instruments) and then they accompanied the last half of the dancing. At the very end, they had a very small and short fireworks display, although the kids loved every minute of it.

Chikara had arrived about 20 minutes into the program with Natsuki's stroller. I had decided to take her and just carry her around but once I arrived, I realized that I was totally insane when I had come up with that plan. By the time the whole event was over, it was 8:30 and I hadn't brought a bottle for Natsuki which she usually drinks at 8:00. She was pretty cranky so Chikara volunteered to walk her back home while I took pictures of the girls with their friends and then drove home with my friend. We probably only live 10 minutes walking distance from the preschool and Natsuki probably would have survived waiting for her sisters but I cannot tell you how much I appreciated that he offered to do that. He's turned into a really good Daddy.

We got home only a minute after he did!

The girls had been so good and it was the weekend so I handed Natsuki back to Chikara to get her ready for bed and I took Emi, Misaki & Sakura to the convenience store and bought ice cream for them. By the time we returned, Natsuki was already sleeping and the five of us watched TV and ate our ice cream. The girls were in bed without a fuss by 9:30. They were pretty worn out but a it was a happy type of worn out.

Here are the rest of the pictures! Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

notes on a scandal

I have no where else to share this story so I'm just going to write about it here and get it out of my head.

This year, the preschool we send Misaki to got a new principal. The new principal has been a music teacher at the school since it started so I didn't really think much about it. She's made a lot of new rules. Some are good, like they are going to start studying Japanese characters with the kindergarteners, and some are really annoying, like the fact that you can't just call the school if you need to have your child stay home from school and you can only bring cameras or video cameras to three previously selected school events throughout the year. Also, this principal likes to talk even more than the last principal, which I would have thought to be impossible, but sadly no.

The last principal was probably in her 40's, but it's obvious that she has put a lot of effort into taking care of her appearance. She genuinely cared about the school and the students so I was surprised that she had left. I heard a few months later that she had stolen money from the school so her father had asked for her resignation. I thought that was the end of the scandal but last week they had a meeting for parents with the new principal but because there were so many unanswered questions about the resignation, they decided to share more about it and it turns out that the former principal stole money from the school to buy a car for a young man that she was involved with!

I'll let you digest that for a moment.

The details break down from here because of my Japanese, but she's either being sued by the preschool organization or by some parents, I'm not sure, but the whole thing has totally blown my mind. I'm not really sure why, but it has.

OK, hopefully by writing this down I don't have to think about it anymore.

Monday, July 02, 2007

well, what do you know...

I read today about square watermelons. I always thought that it was made up, kind of like an urban legend among foreigners as to how picky Japanese people could be. But I found this article today and, what do you know, it's true. They're pretty expensive and don't taste as good as regular watermelons so I'm at a loss as to why they are even made in the first place but there you go. Square watermelons. Another oddity of Japanese culture.