Friday, February 26, 2010

Please help me understand!

I am far too behind to catch up on all that has been happening here, so I'll just skip the last week or two and speed through to Sunday. We went to Space World with Megan and Nathan (their Christmas present to the kids) and had a great day on the roller coasters, teacups, haunted house (not such a great idea!) etc. as well as spending most of the day shaking our heads in wonder at the hundreds of people there in "Costume Play". It seems to be a huge craze here to dress up as your favorite character from a comic and parade around en masse. I watched them all day and I just don't get it! Wigs seem to be one of the key points and wearing the same kind of costumes as your friends also seems to be the thing to do. It doesn't seem to be something that they do in the main streets (well not around here anyway!) and they all arrived with their costumes in suitcases then packed them away before leaving the park. Fortunately my kids thought they looked ridiculous... hopefully they will still think the same way when they are 20 years old!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Angel Buttons

I can't believe I am writing two blog entries in one day! I hope it doesn't mean I won't write any more for the next few weeks....
There have been times when I've watched my mother teaching my children how to make cookies, weave flax baskets etc. and my mouth has dropped in awe. The patience it takes to do that is incredible and something that I don't usually have. Mind you, when I asked my mother if she was as patient with my brother and I when we were children she did admit that the patience is something that seems to miraculously appear when you are promoted to grandmother status. I do try to do as much cooking etc. as possible with my children, but often I am too tired to deal with explaining then redoing whatever it is they are doing. Today however I turned over a new leaf and managed to do some sewing with the children without getting grumpy (well not much anyway) and ended up with some pretty neat "Angel Buttons". What are "Angel Buttons"?I hear you ask.... well recently we have been having a few grumpy days and the children are often reminded to find their "magic buttons" which they pretend to find in their pockets and stuff into their heads in order to make turn them back into angels again. It works about 50% of the time. So today we decided to make some real "magic buttons" which the children can carry with them to give them the power to be wonderful in any situation. They cut out felt shapes, sewed sequins on them then put a magic flat marble in the middle of them before sewing around the edge - all by themselves. They then renamed them "Angel buttons" and if the amount of time they spent concentrating on them is any indication of how powerful they are going to be then we may be having the most wonderful angels in the whole wide world living under our roof!

New Car

I have been meaning to write about this since Sunday, but rain and darkness prevented me taking a photo.... For Christmas I was given a photo of a car stuck onto a piece of polystyrene and on Sunday the real thing finally arrived Considering the whole world seems to be in a recession we had to wait quite a few months after we ordered it for it to arrive. Perhaps the subsidies the government are offering at moment to get some of the older cars off the road are working! Anyway, on Sunday we said goodbye to my 15 year old car and collected our new Honda Freed. Having never owned a car which is less than 10 years old it is quite exciting to have a new toy which only had 2km on the odometer when we picked it up. Of course within a few days it has already driven over 300km, but I have been impressed with the fuel efficiency and the quietness of it is great! I can now listen to music, check out where we are going on the navigation system and see how "Eco friendly" my driving is. Having air conditioning which actually works without making the car overheat in the summer is also going to be a huge bonus!
Unlike the majority of people in Japan I chose not to have a white or a blue car... mainly because I can never find them in the car park! Chris kindly called it "wine" colour - my husband refers to it as "red bean" colour... only in Japan!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sausage Making

Because the children were on holiday today they got to join me in making sausages. A group of us got together and experimented with about 5kg of meat and made zillions of sausages. I have to admit that I don't like the high content of fat in most of the meat here, but putting that aside we made some pretty good ones. I shocked them all by adding spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg then added dried figs, apricots etc. and also added some pieces of cheese to my 1kg. Pretty good for a first attempt! I got a sausage maker thingy too so hopefully from now I will be able to do some experimenting and make some lower-fat, more adventurous sausages in the near future.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Busy weekend

The weekend is over, but the children have the next 2 days off so it feels like the weekend is just about to begin. As predicted it was a very tiring weekend. Following the afternoon making cookies on Friday I was at school by 9am on Saturday to make popcorn, steamed cakes, donuts etc. Home by 3:30pm to make a roast lamb dinner for Megan and Nathan (and us of course!) and a nice evening of icing cupcakes and gossiping.
Back to school by 7:30am this morning to make french fries, chicken rice chicken nuggets etc. and then watch the kids (and some very big kids!) bash, bash and bash rice till it became the sticky glug that they make into rice cakes. Next came the sticky rice cake throwing - not exactly the safest event of the year, but the kids don't seem to mind the odd bang on the head from a bag of rice cakes! After that was the children's presentations - songs from the junior school, instrumental pieces from the senior school then an "operetta" that the whole school did together. My daughter had told me that she was doing a solo which put me on edge a bit as I thought she had inherited my not so wonderful singing genes, but fortunately someone had a bit more faith in her and she did an amazing job. It wasn't exactly a long solo, but pretty impressive from a tone-deaf mother's point of view! Unfortunately I didn't have the video....
The finale for the day was the "bazaar" where we sold all our baked goodies etc. as well as lots of gifts that people had been given, but didn't actually want. Surprise, surprise there were a lot of towel sets! Finally home by 3pm and off to the car dealers..... more on that tomorrow! For now I think an early bed is beckoning me.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A not so perfect start

I started writing this blog entry in my head at 8:15 this morning. The title was "Wonder mother does it again". The content was about how by 8am I had managed to not only get the kids out the door to school, had a shower, organised my kindergarten classes for the morning, done the dishes and the washing, but I had also managed to make a double batch of Anzac biscuits for the school fair on Sunday. And then I opened the oven to take the first tray of biscuits out....... Unfortunately the lovely balls I had made had all merged into one huge one and filled the entire tray! Not a great start to the day and not exactly the "wonder mother" blog entry I was aiming for, but I managed to rescue them and cut them into squares and they tasted far better than they looked!
Next my kindergarten classes were supposed to be wonderful, only the first class decided that they were more interested in playing with their private parts than listening to me (I'm kind of glad they have moved onto their own private parts rather than mine) and the second class thought they knew it all before I said anything so I gave up trying to impress them and did a fairly average lesson rather than the superdooper one I had imagined.
Raced home and finished off the day with the main cookie baking - fortunately the pinwheel cookie dough I had prepared was more successful than the anzac ones and in the end I think between 4 of us we made and bagged close to 700 cookies - all in about 2 and a half hours. Of course after we had finished they didn't feel like going home straight away and they eventually left about 2 hours later.... sorry Meg -I completely ignored you... I'll try harder tomorrow night! I think I have to make the cottage a little less comfortable.....

Thursday, February 04, 2010

When things go right

As I mentioned in my last post I wasn't exactly looking forward to running today's program for a group of 37 mothers and their very small children. But... some last minute brainstorming, some late night playdough making and it ended up being a really fun hour or so. I started out with some tag games, gesturing games, playing pictionary with playdough etc. and everything seemed to go down really well. The part they seemed to enjoy the most was when I gave each group a bag filled with 3 toilet rolls, 2 paper towel rolls (minus the toilet paper and paper towels...), one balloon, one piece of string, 2 pudding pottles, one meat tray, one page out of a mail order catalogue and a roll of tape. These were all just things that I randomly found this morning and threw into bags. I then asked them to make any "character" within 10 minutes and see if the other groups could work out what it was. I had very low expectations that they would even try to make anything, but they all got really enthusiastic and made some wonderful things. Pretty impressive considering they had no pens and only 10 minutes!
I'm now hoping my run of good luck continues tomorrow with my kindergarten classes in the morning followed by making over 500 cookies in the afternoon. Fortunately I will have a few helpers.... although I have to make all the dough before they come. Better get on with it!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Procrastinating - again!

Right now I should be trying to think of something to do with 35 mothers and at least 35 toddlers tomorrow morning. I am supposed to be doing a program focusing on the mothers and getting them to make friends etc. with each other and ignoring the children. Problem..... there are at least 35 toddlers (and I mean toddlers, not small children) in the room (not a huge room at that) at the same time who really don't care if their mothers are having fun or not. How I manage to get myself into these situations time and time again I have no idea!
Anyway, as a way to avoid thinking about that for a while I thought I would share a bit of wonderful English on a small container I bought today - I think perhaps the translator had a small child on her knee who she had just been reading a fun kid's book to when she was translating it! Quite appropriate considering it is "Setsubun" here today where the ogres are all out and about.
"When you remove the cover, remove it quietly. What is inside may jump out of it."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Weekend Away

My father often reads the comments on my blog and asks me "Who are thefukases?" "Who is Illahee?" etc. In this respect the blogging world is a strange one as I usually have to answer "I really don't know". On the other hand I read about their daily lives and feel like I know them better than my own family sometimes, despite having never met them in person. I feel like I have some kind of connection with them through the blogging world and enjoy keeping up to date with their lives. - even if I don't comment often enough. At times I think I have too much information about their lives... and find it difficult to meet their husband's eyes when I meet them! In the weekend I was lucky enough to actually meet up with one of the bloggers that I read daily - "Illahee" as well as "Kuri", who I had met once before and Rachel and Katy. It was strange meeting someone for the first time that you know so much about. It really didn't seem like a first meeting. It turned out to be a great "girls" weekend away - where we could cut out a lot of the small talk and talk about more interesting things because we already knew so much about each other.
Katy and I enjoyed an early happy hour then I had some fun times with baby Ryu while Katy soaked in the bath. We all went out for karaoke then shopping the next day. We didn't do anything particularly "special", but it was a great break away for a group of mothers who all deserved a day to themselves. I look forward to meeting up with them again as well as meeting some other "blogger" friends in the near future. Until then I will continue to keep up with their daily lives from a distance!