Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The littlest monkey

T turned 1 back at the end of March, and will be 15 months old tomorrow. He's such a little sweetie. He's like K in many ways, but he is a lot more physical than K was at that age. T is never happier than when he's being carried; he loves to be kissed, and will press his face against my mouth so hard that I can't breathe; if he wants me to look a certain way, he will use his hands to turn my head in the right direction. He likes piggy-back rides, and will try to climb on when I'm sitting on the floor, putting his arms around my neck and walking his legs up my back. Even before he could walk, he would crawl over to me and rest his head on my lap.

K only just started to walk at about this age but T, the typical second child, was walking before 11 months and now enjoys running off and climbing furniture. Lately, we see a lot of this sort of thing...

...and this...

...and even this. Look carefully - he's pulling himself up in a chin-up!

T is a keen eater and, despite photographic evidence to the contrary, is actually quite a tidy eater. He rarely deliberately throws food on the floor and in fact gets rather upset if something gets dropped. He uses his cloth (for wiping hands and face) to wipe up any bits on the table around him. Most foods go down well, but he's a particular fan of rice and bread. Oh, and meat. And bananas, mini-tomatoes, carrots...

Recently T figured out how to open the living room door, so we've had to put up the gate again. He can also open the living room cupboards, so I had to quickly move all K's 'don't let T touch this' stuff. On the other hand, we can now store all T's toys there, and keep the living room tidier :-)

I used to lament that K stopped napping just after his second birthday. T hardly ever naps even now, except maybe in the car. He generally sleeps well at night though, from around 8.30 till 7.

You're probably not surprised to hear that T loves to get his hands on the computer...

...or, indeed, his bum...

T is still not terribly enthusiastic about being left with H's mum while I work, but it's definitely getting better and it's only a couple of hours a weeks so I think she he should be able to cope with that. I've been teaching at the university one day a week since April, and T has been going to nursery then. Of course he cried when I dropped him off at first but the teachers assured me that he always recovered quickly. Nowadays, he reaches out his arms to the teacher, smiles to me and waves goodbye!

I could carry on with this oya-baka (doting mother) stuff for hours, but I'm sure that's quite enough for you for now. A final picture, of T spotting something of interest out the window...

Monday, 25 June 2012

Neighbourhood walk around the world

Want to see what it looks like where we live? Want to see what it looks like in neighbourhoods all over the world?

Fellow Brit-blogger-in-Japan, Jo of A Bit of This and A Bit of That has organised a virtual tour of the world, starting at her blog today. Every day until July 12th a different blogger will be introducing their neighbourhood, including me on July 8th.

The full tour dates are listed below, so why not visit a few new blogs, ask a few questions and find out about where we all live...

June 25th - jojoebi-designs - Saitama, Japan

June 26th - akatsuki ra-ra-ra - California, USA

June 27th - little red farm - Sweden

June 28th - "Je veux une 'tite soeur-fille" - Canary islands

June 29th - Knitty Lorn - East Devon, UK

June 30th - We Don't Need No Education - Michigan, U.S.A

July 1st - Jeollanam-do Salad - South Korea

July 2nd - Merita's Playground - Slovenia

July 3rd - kids, craft and chaos - Scotland, UK

July 4th - Zonnah's Addictions - Washington State, USA

July 5th - Adventures of a rainbow mama
July 6th - Se7en - South Africa

July 7th - Talia's Travel Web Log - New York, USA

July 8th - Monkey Magic - Japan

July 9th - The Pukeko Patch - Wellington, New Zealand

July 10th - Cami Daily - Berlin, Germany

July 11th - Crazy Cambridge mum - Cambridge, UK

July 12th - Schaeresteipapier - Switzerland

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Back in April, K started full-time Japanese kindergarten (yochien in Japanese). Typically children attend for 3 years, starting the April following their 3rd birthday, although classes for 2 year-olds are increasing now too. K started going to an international pre-school 2 days a week when he was about 2 and a half, and after turning 4 in March, joined the 2nd year of kindergarten.

By British standards, there was a lot to prepare. Compared to a lot of other Japanese kindergartens, I got off pretty lightly. Here's what he needed in the clothing line...

The checked shorts, navy jacket, yellow beret and white polo shirt with coloured buttons comprise the uniform, which he wears to go to and from school each day (with navy knee-high socks on special occasions). However, once he gets there, he changes into his PE kit; the turquoise shorts and white T-shirt at the top of the picture. Then there's the spotty blue smock for art, a collection of little hand towels (bottom right) and a draw-string bag for the PE kit. I made the bag and bought the towels at a shop, but the other things were all ordered via the kindergarten.

Next, K's 'daily goods'...

Each day K carries the little brown backpack (kindergarten issue) containing a hand towel, a little folder and notebook for parent/teacher communication and the green drawstring bag pictured above, containing his chopsticks (in a case), a cup and a toothbrush. There is school lunch every day except Thursday, when he also has to take his packed lunch (the pink and blue box), water flask and plastic sheet to sit on (underneath everything else in the photo). On Fridays he brings home his indoor shoes (the white plimsolls, customised with planets by me and a couple of felt-tip pens) in the yellow planet bag at the bottom right. The larger yellow bag also comes home on Fridays, with his PE kit, a book borrowed from the school library, maybe some artwork and anything else that needs bringing home. On Mondays we mustn't forget to send all those things back again! Mums are supposed to make all the bags, although some buy them or persuade a friend to make them instead. I was pleased to have a definite need that I could fill with something I'd made myself, and K was pleased to have planet and vehicle themed bags!

Finally, the things that stay at school all the time...

The yellow box at the back has K's name on it and contains (going clockwise) a pair of scissors, a pot of glue, a box of marker pens, a box of crayons, a board for play-dough, a sketch book and play-dough in its case. We only had these things at home so that we could label them all with K's name (and when I say 'we', I mean 'H'). Everything, each individual crayon, is named, as is everything in the other photos, as well as all K's underpants, socks and anything else he may ever take to kindergarten. Since term started, K has also acquired a bright orange 'French Legionnaire' hat for playing outside, a straw boater for summer instead of the beret and a couple of name badges to attach to his uniform.

Finally today, I'll just show you a couple of pictures from the entrance ceremony that was held for new students at the beginning of April. Here's K just inside the main entrance of the kindergarten, under an arch that says 'Congratulations on starting kindergarten'. This kindergarten first opened about 40 years ago (H and his brothers all went there!) but it was renovated a few years ago and is really lovely now.

After meeting with K's teacher and getting lots of bits of paper, we joined all the other parents and students in the hall for various speeches and songs. Here, all the staff are being introduced (K's teacher is the woman in the cream suit...):

OK, she's the woman in the cream suit standing next to the woman in the dark suit, pretty much in the middle. Is that better?

After all the ceremonies, photography and information-sharing, there was just enough time for a little play in the playground before heading home again for lunch. By local standards, this kindergarten has quite a large outdoor area, with a grassed area as well as a sandy area with swings, slides, climbing frames and so on. The most popular things though are the 2 water pumps. Around here you only have to dig down a couple of metres to hit water and the kids love pumping out water, digging channels for the water, and generally coming home as muddy as possible.

In the last 2 months K has already had a great range of adventures and experiences at kindergarten and he's settled in really well. There's lots more to tell you but I think that that is quite enough for today...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Everything must go!

As you may have guessed, things are pretty busy around here nowadays. This poor blog (and its loyal few readers) has been neglected a lot of late, and my little fabric shop has been completely ignored. The shop was fun, and reasonably successful, for a while but it needs a certain amount of attention to warrant keeping it going. I've thought about it for a while now, and have decided to close it down, at least for the time being.

There's not a lot of stock left in the Etsy shop at the moment, but I will not be renewing any of it, or adding anything new. When the current stock has all expired, I'll consider the shop closed. It'll still be there though, so maybe I'll come back to it again one day...

Anyway, to help me tidy things up, and as a thank you to those of you who still pop in here, there's 20% off everything until it's all gone or the listings have expired, whichever comes first.

Just find something you fancy here, and enter CLOSING2012 in the coupon code box at checkout for 20% off!