Saturday, 30 March 2013

Elegant Dinner Party

Earlier in March, my friend and local legend Cian organised an 'Elegant Dinner Party'. Basically consisting of dinner and drinks at a restaurant, the key point was that everyone had to dress up. Now I spend most of my time in jeans and am quite happy that way, but I do love to dress up now and then and I happened to have just the dress...

Lots of people complimented me on the floor-length, sleeveless dress I wore, and I had great fun telling them that not only did it belong to my mum in the early 1970s, but that she made it herself!

So thanks to Mum for the dress, to Cian for giving me a chance to wear it, to my lovely friends Lisa, Adeel and Hiromi for letting me nag them into going to the party with me and to H for staying home with the boys. I do have one other dress I'd like to wear sometime though...

Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Birthday T!

Yesterday was T's 2nd birthday. Being a Thursday, I also had swimming with T in the morning, and a class in the afternoon. Unfortunately it also coincided with H having a high temperature (suspected, but later disproved, flu) and being in bed all day, so there wasn't really much time left for birthday fun.

The night before, T had figured out how to get out of his cot, and the two little monkeys had had great fun Not Going To Sleep. I was up and down the stairs telling them to go to sleep, in between wrapping presents, finishing off the birthday crown, putting up the birthday banner and occasionally checking on my poorly husband. K (yes K, not T) was up at 6.30, full of birthday excitement, but I was ahead of him, already decorating the cake (including a quick trip to the 24 hour supermarket for emergency cream cheese at 6.50).

By mid-morning, there was time for present opening...

...before heading off to the pool. Then it was time for a quick lunch before I headed out again, leaving the boys with H's mum, in a living room still scattered with wrapping paper!

Finally, cake time!

The cake was met with smiles, and T had those whiskers out and eaten in no time. He can already blow out candles better than his brother...

See that little badge there, with T's face on it? H made that. It's got Maisy on it too...
Plan A (pre-suspected-flu) was to go out for dinner, meaning that there was very little food in the house, especially special party food. On the way home from my class I picked up a couple of pizzas at the supermarket and added extra toppings. Hardly a luxury feast, but the boys were happy and ate it all up with enthusiasm. Quick to prepare too, which is an important factor now that T's favourite game while I am in the kitchen is Throw All My Toys Over The Counter Into The Sink (Bonus Points If You Hit Mummy)...

Today we went to the play centre and then spent the rest of the day at home, playing with new birthday toys and clearing up some of the post-birthday-rush mess (can you guess who did what?). There were still a couple of birthday-related treats too, including rabbit cakes from H's mum...

...and an Anpanman towel/costume from Adeel and Hiromi:

So, although things may not have gone exactly to plan, I think it turned out to be quite a fun time for a freshly-minted 2 year old (and his big brother). Oh, and H is much better today, thanks.

Friday, 22 March 2013

End of the school year

The school year in Japan runs from April to March, and today was K's last day. He has now completed one year at kindergarten, and has one more to go before starting elementary school. When he started kindergarten last year he couldn't really speak Japanese at all and sometimes had difficulty expressing himself. It never seemed to bother him though, and now he is as much of a chatterbox in Japanese as he is in English.

I think it's been a great year for him there. He settled in very well, and was happy to go from the very beginning. He's made some good friends and has lovely teachers too. They don't overtly teach academic subjects, but focus on craft, music, physical activity and social interaction. K has had a lot of great experiences, such as sports days, the school play, day trips and picnics, and 'exhibition day'. He has learnt to do origami and to skip, he can swing around the horizontal bar on the climbing frame and he has become an enthusiastic artist and inventor.

Each month the kindergarten holds a little birthday ceremony for all the children born in that month. Being a March baby, K has had all year to look forward to his turn. I went along last week, and saw him join the other crowned children proudly on the stage.

In turn, the birthday children were asked to give their name and class, and to say what they wanted to be when they grew up. I couldn't catch a lot of the replies, even though they were using a microphone. Several girls said they wanted to be 'a mum', and there were also the usual 'nurse', 'cake shop owner', 'soccer player' and 'superhero'. What do you think K said?

'I want to research space' (宇宙を調べたいです).

This prompted several 'ooh's from the watching parents, and knowing nods from people who knew him well.

So today K said goodbye to his teacher and his classmates from Sakura (cherry blossom) class. The 3 classes in his year will be shuffled to make 3 new groups from April. He found out today that he'll be in Fuji (wisteria) class, but he won't know who the teacher is until school starts again. K is excited to be moving up, and hopes to get Teacher K, because he does magic tricks...

Thursday, 14 March 2013


I've been gradually decluttering the house, sorting out clothes, books and a wide variety of stuff that I no longer need. Actually, much of it is stuff that I never really needed in the first place but we do have a tendency to accept other people's cast-offs and freebies. Like someone being offered an unwanted dog in danger of being put down, H and I are both suckers for things which 'will be thrown away if you don't take it'.

So last Sunday K and I loaded up the car and went off to a flea market. I'd had a booth once before at this particular flea market, and sold quite a lot. This time I had even more stuff, and it was quite a challenge to get it all set up before the waiting hordes of bargain-hunters were allowed in.

And then the doors were opened.

And 3 people wandered in.

Sadly, that set the pace for the day. There were very few customers, and most of what I did sell was to other stall-holders. I made enough to pay for the pitch, plus about enough for the pizza we ordered for dinner that night. My main aim though was not to make money but to get rid of the stuff! It was quite disappointing to have to load it all back up into the car again, and then to find space for it at home. I think I'll try again at one more flea market, and then I'll just give up and give it away to anyone who'll take it.

Looking on the bright side, I had a lovely day with K. I wasn't sure about taking him with me, but he was really well-behaved. It helped that the stall opposite ours was being run by the mum of one of K's classmates! She had all 3 of her daughters with her (plus her husband, who helped me pack up my stuff at the end), and K had great fun playing with them. Several stalls (including mine) had 'please help yourself' boxes, and the children were very pleased with the treasures they managed to acquire for free. K also had 100 yen to spend as he liked, and was very proud of the toy dinosaur he bought All By Himself. Overall, a fun day out.

Monday, 11 March 2013

K is 5

As usual nowadays I am very behind in posting here, but last Tuesday K turned 5. He was so excited at the prospect of his birthday, and the little party we'd planned for a few of his classmates. I was surprised at how much he remembered from his birthday last year when we started talking about what he'd like to do this year.

The day started with crown-wearing and present-opening...

... and then moved on to birthday pancakes and a phone call from Gran and Grandad.

Then after kindergarten came the best part, the party! 5 of his classmates came, plus all their mothers and a couple of baby siblings. Here's the birthday boy eagerly awaiting his guests by the front door:

We kept things very simple at the party: a few party games, birthday cake and a bit of running around in the garden since the weather was lovely. Simple as it was, it was probably more than most of them expected and I think everyone had fun.

I may need to rethink the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey blindfold for future use, since 4 of the 6 tails were stuck in exactly the right place...They also played pass-the-parcel and musical statues, all new to everyone except K.

Months ago, K told me that he wanted the same train birthday cake as last year. It's a bit of a fuss to decorate, but I'm glad that he liked it so much. And of course, it does tend to impress the audience ;-)

After K's guests had left we all headed out for a nabe dinner with H's parents, and before bed there was even a bit of time for star-gazing. Lots of K's favourite things all squeezed into one busy day! Once again, his friends and family proved how well they know him in their kind gift selection - Lego, toy cars, Roald Dahl books, space-themed things, puzzles, maps and more.

Finally, a little collection of photos from March 5th, from 2008 to 2013. Hasn't he grown?