Wednesday, March 26, 2008

maybe it just seems like it...

Maybe it's not true but it seems like everyone I know (in my real world and in the blog world, nevermind Hollywood) is pregnant. Or thinking about getting pregnant. Or wishing they were pregnant. And it's weird for me to think that I'll never do that again. Being pregnant and having babies has been so much a part of my life for the last 9 years that it's hard to know what to think about without it. 9 years ago this month we started trying to get pregnant with Emi. It took us a whole year. In fact if we hadn't gotten pregnant in March 2000 we were going to go to a doctor and get tested. Fortunately we did get pregnant so we didn't have to get on that emotional rollercoaster. Instead we got on another one! For the last 8 years I've been pregnant for over 3 and a half of them and then taken care of an infant for the other 4 years. Basically this is what my whole being has been wrapped up in and as others around me continue to contemplate and experience this stage of life, it's odd to me that I don't have to do it anymore. I can think about the next stage, whatever that is. I guess "it" will just happen and I'll morph into that person just like I've turned into a mother without even realizing it.

It seems like Natsuki is going to be a strong-willed child. There, I said it, I feel better. Maybe she won't but man, she knows how to voice her opinion. Maybe she thinks she has to be loud and ornery just to keep up with her sisters. For such a little one, she has a very commanding presence. We're teaching her about "no" and that we really did mean "no" when we said it. Really. You've already seen the face she put on when I said she couldn't play in the garbage but she's realized that trying to garner our sympathy doesn't get her what she wants so now she's onto rolling her eyes or furrowing her eyebrows or falling to the ground in tears, etc. And she's only 1-1/2. She's not even 2 yet. Does this mean she'll be more difficult at 2 or are we going through it now and she'll be easier at 2 and then more difficult at 3. Sigh...

It seems like Misaki may have a weird illness. My little Misaki has had more odd injuries than the rest of the girls. She bent her collarbone when she was 1-1/2 falling off the couch even though I was sitting right in front of the couch waiting to catch her. She missed. She had her first X-ray that day. None of my other girls have had to have X-rays. Also, Misaki got chickenpox first. She also got mumps, warts and lice first. But she doesn't get colds very much. I'd say she's a healthy child with odd ailments. And her latest ailment is very odd indeed. In December, she fell at school (a common occurence) and bonked her ankle. Her teacher called to tell us about it and by the time she got home she was fine and walking around with no problem. A few weeks later, I noticed that the area was swollen but when I touched it, the area was kind of hard and more like a bump than just swollen. Weird. A few weeks later I realized that the bump was still there so in the beginning of February I took her to the doctor. There she had her second X-ray. Woo-hoo! The X-ray didn't show anything and the doctor thought that maybe if I padded the area so it wasn't getting rubbed by her shoes, etc., that it might go away on it's own. But please come back if it hasn't. Well, not only has it not gone away but now she's got a bump on her elbow and another bump forming on her knee. They don't hurt or itch and it doesn't seem to be effecting her movement. In fact, she learned how to jump rope in the last three months so obviously her joints are still working. Anyways, we're going to take her to the doctor during Spring Break when both Chikara and I can go together. I hope it's nothing serious. I'm not ready for one of the girls to be seriously, life-threateningly sick. Has anybody seen anything like that before?

It seems like the house will never be clean. I have been organizing closets and clothes and piles for weeks now and there still seems to be more of them. The girls brought back massive amounts of paper when school was finished and I can't decide what I should keep and what should be thrown away. I can't imagine what I'll do when all four of the girls are in school! I've been doing laundry faithfully but there's still a pile of dirty clothes. I've been washing dishes faithfully but there's still a pile of dirty dishes. I know, I know, that's a part of running a household but I was hoping that once Natsuki was a bit older and less dependant on me that I would be able to get back into a rythmn with all of this stuff.

On the good side, I am enjoying more great friendships now than I have since before I moved to Japan. This last Sunday at church as we were sitting around the table having lunch with our friends and all of our kids, I realized that I was relaxed, happy, enjoying the conversation (in Japanese!) and I felt normal, a part of this world (cue Little Mermaid music) and I liked it. And it only took seven years!

It seems like Emi's first year of school was a complete success. We got her report card and in every area she received a "dekiru" comment instead of the "gambarou" comment. Dekiru means she can do it and gambarou means she needs to try harder. The teacher wrote a nice note to us about how well she did. After all the nervousness of last April, I am very relieved. Now, how will Misaki do this year? Probably just as well as her sister.

Well, there you go, a look into the corners of my mind. I think this is typical of most moms. The worries and the triumphs all mixed up together.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

You Cheer Me Up!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Hey! I won an award! Or at least someone nominated me for one. Nay, a new reader to my blog, wrote a lot of really nice things about me, too. Wow! I feel so special. Especially since I (nervously) gave her some advice that might've been hard to take after she posted about a relationship problem she was having with her fiance. Obviously she's not mad at me but I was nervous all the same. I'm sure with her great attitude that she'll have good success in her marriage.

Anyways, I've been thinking about some blogs that keep me in good cheer recently so I'll post about that soon.

Thanks again, Nay! Good luck with the wedding planning!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter!

I almost had a heart-attack on Tuesday when I realized that Emi had BOTH Wednesday and Thursday off of school. It was kind of like a trial-run for Spring Break and I wasn't at all prepared for it. Plus it was raining and that didn't help at all. Dumb weather!

I had been trying to decide if I wanted to try dyeing Easter Eggs this year and the fact that I had to be creative two days in a row pretty much decided that for me. Yeah, Easter Eggs! I know people think I'm a great mom but I try to avoid this type of stuff as much as possible. It just wears on my nerves, much like thinking about cooking with my kids does. *shiver* But there is another part of me that wants my children to experience as many American/Canadian cultural things as possible which is why I stuff turkeys into my little convection oven at Thanksgiving and take hours to make cookies because I can only bake 7 at a time, etc.
My mom has faithfully sent me Easter Egg dyeing kits every year so I brought them out from their hidden corners in the cabinets and re-read the instructions. Amazingly, finding white eggs was the most difficult part of the project. I actually had to go to three different grocery stores to find them since brown eggs are more common here.
Around 10am on Wednesday morning, I started assembling all of the supplies while the girls excitedly looked on and once Chikara went off to work, we settled ourselves around the table and got to work. I had boiled four eggs for each of them and I had 8 different colors of dyes, 3 pages of stickers, two white crayons, 3 special color markers just for eggs (!), two different kinds of sparkly glue and then other assorted shiny decorations. I set Natsuki in her high chair with a cookie and off we went.
Here are the girls dyeing their eggs.
Natsuki didn't get to dye eggs, so she "drew" a picture instead!
Once they had finished dyeing their fourth egg, the first egg was dry so we moved on to "decorating" which was their most favorite part. I had little egg cups for holding soft-boiled eggs when you eat them so I brought those out to hold the eggs while they were working on them. They all did so well.
An hour and a half later, we had a finished product. They were so excited.
Taking a snack break after a job well done!
I decorated some eggs, too. I didn't boil mine but once they were decorated, I blew out the inside (more difficult than I had remembered) and hung them up in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. Sorry for the mess but I wanted to get a picture before Natsuki and Sakura woke up from their naps!
I was really pleased with how the day went although by the time Chikara came home and the kids went to bed I was exhausted. I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30pm, woke up at 11:30pm and moved to my bed and slept until 8am the next morning! It's such hard work to be a good mom!
Happy Easter!

Monday, March 17, 2008

funny, funny

Biff from Back to the Future!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

she's got the basic idea...

I know, I know, you're all waiting for the next installment of "Grammy Comes To Visit" but you'll just have to wait a bit more. I'm getting ready for the dreaded Spring Break. This is just to let you know that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Why is it that Spring Break is so much more difficult than any of the other school holidays?

I was talking with Misaki today before she was going outside BY HERSELF.

Misaki: I'm ready to go outside.

Me: okay, remember to stay in front of our house, be nice to other kids and don't talk to people you don't know.

Misaki: (absently) okay...

Me: Do you know why you're not supposed to talk to people you don't know?

Misaki: (suddenly very serious) Yes.

Me: Why?

Misaki: Because they'll try to take me.

Me: Yes. That's right. And what would you do if somebody tried to take you?

Misaki: Uh...... freak out.

I almost fell off my chair laughing! I've never heard Misaki use the words "freak out" before but I think that aptly describes what I would want her to do. I don't have this conversation with the girls a lot because I don't want them to become paranoid when they're outside but every so often I feel it's good for them to have a little reminder. Still I was not prepared for her answer!

Hopefully I'll have more soon...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Grammy Comes To Visit - Part 1

Drum roll, please! Yes, I'm finally writing about my mom's visit. I hope it meets expectations!

Before I write about the time we actually spent together, I feel that I should mention about all the work I did before my mom came. There is no explanation for this but I always put a lot of thought into getting our house ready for my mom (or both of my parents) when she visits. One of the great things about my parents is that they love my siblings and I just the way we are, flaws and all. It is not necessary to impress them or try to earn their love each time we meet but I still always want to put my best foot forward so that I can show them that all their hard work was not in vain. They turned out a responsible adult and they should be able to enjoy the fruits of that. Right?!

One of my biggest goals was to finish the walls in Natsuki's room before my mom got here. Chikara had to go to a conference for 3 days the week before my mom came and at first I thought the timing was lousy but then I realized that with Chikara gone I could get a lot more work done (silver lining!). I managed to finish puttying every square inch of the walls and the day before my mom came, I sanded the walls and painted them white. A friend of mine who is a contractor was able to find some FREE leftover white paint from a job he had finished. I had pretty much decided on the paint color for the walls but I wanted to get my mom's opinion so I was relieved to at least have the white paint so the walls would have more of a finished look to them than just the putty. These are some pictures of the room before we moved the bed in there for her.

You can kind of see that there's still an unfinished part on the wall where the hole used to be. I followed my contractor friend's advice and cut a larger hole so that the patched area could be stronger. I went to a home center that's farther away from our house to buy sheetrock because I heard that they sold smaller pieces which is what I wanted. When I got there I discovered that they did sell smaller squares but you had to buy four at a time and the price was $12. One regular-sized piece of sheetrock was only $3 but so big and heavy that it was awkward for me to carry around. I decided to just get the big piece but when I took a look at them, they had two difference thicknesses of sheetrock, 9.5mm and 12.5mm. The 9.5mm thickness didn't look right so I took a sheet from the 12.5mm pile. When I got to the register, Sakura and Misaki were fighting about something so I didn't check with the lady about the thickness. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. I wrangled the sheetrock into the car BY MYSELF (seriously, it was weird that no one came to help me), wrangled it out of the car, measured twice, cut once, got it all the way upstairs only to discover it was not thick enough. The piles must've been mixed up. Grrr. At that point I didn't have anymore time to fiddle with it before my mom came so I just left the not-thick-enough piece in there so it didn't look quite so scary.

Another funny thing that happened was when I opened the cannister of white paint. There was something floating in it and when I glanced in, it was furry and covered in white paint and for a brief second I thought it might be a mouse. I slammed the lid shut and stood there for a few seconds unwilling to look again. I realized that nothing was moving so I opened it again and when I got a good look I realized that there were five rollers floating in the paint! Obviously they didn't anticipate that anyone else was going to use it so they had just left it that way. My heart was beating so fast. I had a good chuckle but then I still had to figure out how to take the rollers out without getting paint everywhere!

I also organized closets and washed sheets and cleared corners until I finally ran out of time and momentum. Chikara wasn't sure why I was so bent on getting everything done but I wanted it all out of the way before my mom came so we could just enjoy our time together.

Finally the day came for mom to arrive and the girls and I were so excited that we could hardly concentrate on anything else. We got to the airport a little early but once we checked the arrival boards, we realized that we were going to have a lot of time on our hands because almost all incoming flights were delayed by an hour or more. Fortunately Kansai Airport is a place we all enjoy so we ate some dinner and then found a wide area for the girls to run around without annoying *too* many other people. Then we got some coffee and dessert at Starbucks and went down to wait for my mom to get through immigration and get her bags.

When she did come through the doors, there were hugs all around except for Natsuki who wasn't too sure about Grammy. After a few minutes, she did talk to Grammy but definitely didn't want to be held. We figured we had two whole weeks for Natsuki to get to know Grammy so we didn't push it. I should've taken a picture at this point but we were just so glad that mom had finally arrived that we whisked her away to the car and started for home.

Once we got home, Grammy opened her suitcases and gave each of the girls a present. Misaki immediately asked about her birthday present but Grammy said she had to wait. Once the girls were in bed, mom got out all the other stuff she had brought for us. My dad had been gathering tools and supplies from the home center to help me complete my project and soon there was a huge pile in the middle of the living room. I almost wanted to start puttying and painting right then and there. Tools are way too much fun. Thanks Dad for all your hard work. I'm now well-equipped to tackle any project in the house!

Next out of her suitcase were magazines and books and snacks, basically a lot of stuff I had requested, and once all that was out, mom had emptied one whole suitcase. I kind of felt bad that she had had to carry all of that around for us but I was glad to see it all, too. Again, I should've taken a picture since it was a magnificent sight. I thought for sure that mom would be exhausted by this point in the day but we ended up talking for a few more hours before we all reluctantly went to bed.

The next few days were spent mostly at home. Emi and Misaki had school and I had to teach English on the Tuesday. Mom was waking up early each morning due to her jetlag but we would still stay up late at night talking anyways. We made some plans for the next few days. One of the main events that mom came for was Misaki's preschool recital which was on the Thursday and then Friday we would be at home again but on Saturday Chikara would be home so we could use the car and go do some shopping. I wanted to buy material for curtains and duvet covers for Emi & Misaki's new room but I didn't want to drag everyone through the fabric store. Chikara said we could go by ourselves but I'll tell that story in a minute...