Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Valentine's Day

Did you do anything special for Valentine's Day? We didn't really, but the boys did make some hearts to decorate the living room. I cut out lots of paper hearts, then the boys painted one half and folded them to make symmetrical prints. T got really into it, choosing colours and splodging the paint on. K approached it differently, painting careful lines and patterns onto his paper.

Once they were dry we taped them onto some string and hung them up at the living room window.

We also wrote a list of things that each boy loves. K and I decided T's list between us, and then K told me what he loves. I thought it would be fun to do this every year and build up a collection of hearts showing the boys' interests over time.

K takes a packed lunch on Thursdays, so I thought I'd make it a little bit special on Valentine's Day, putting heart-shaped carrots, cheese and mini-tomatoes on top of the rice. I very rarely put any kind of dessert into K's lunch, but this time I added one (1) individually wrapped chocolate. After school K told me that his teacher said I must never do that again. Sigh...

Thursday, 21 February 2013


Last week I didn't get around to posting for Listmania, and this week I'm rather behind too. We were invited to take photos throughout the day and present 'A Day in the Life'. I'm not sure that my daily life is terribly visually interesting. Actually, it's probably not very interesting in words either, but anyway, here we are.

6:45 Breakfast and blog-browsing in peace, while everyone else sleeps.

7:45 Breakfast for boys, while I get things ready for the day.

8:45 T, supposedly getting ready to leave the house...

10:00 After taking K to school, T and I stop at the supermarket for a few things.

10:45 H's mum comes over to take care of T while I teach a class at our local community centre.

12:30 Home again, and a quick lunch.

1:30 T's passion for Maisy continues, as does his lack of napping.

2:30 Time to go and pick up K. T now insists on walking there and back...

3:00 Home again, record speed for T!

4:00 After snack-time, out come the crayons and old calendar paper.

4:45 Along with Maisy, The Gruffalo is pretty popular here nowadays. After reading it together, I printed off a few colouring sheets, mazes and so on.

5:30 Time to make dinner. Here's what was in our Yoshikei box today.

6:15 I should definitely have put that piece of fish on a smaller plate... It was a much better meal than it looks here!
After that, but not photographed, I went to yoga, leaving H to put the boys to bed. Once I got home again there was just enough time for a bath, a cup of tea and some Internet browsing before going to bed just before 11.

Hmm, it seems that I have presented a day in T's life as much as a day in mine. Oh well, that is at least accurate I suppose, if not very exciting. I'm sure you'll find some much more interesting stories over at Listmania central, Home Life Simplified. Now to get my thinking cap on for next week's list!

Treading the boards

Last weekend K's kindergarten held their happyoukai, or school concert/play. It was split into 2 parts, held on Satuday and Sunday mornings, since the school hall isn't big enough to comfortably hold all the parents at once. Half the classes performed on Saturday and half on Sunday, with all students also performing a musical number with their whole school year on both days.

You know the story of The Wolf and The 7 Kids? The one where the wolf disguises his voice and hands, tricking the little goats into opening the door thinking that it's their mother? The kids are all eaten up except for the littlest one who hides in the grandfather clock, alerts his mother and helps her to rescue his brothers and sisters. This is the story which K's class put on except that, in true Japanese kindergarten fashion, it was turned into 'The Wolf and the Family of 20 Goats' so that all the children could play a goat (the teacher played the wolf). The children sang and danced, and performed their lines in chorus, as groups of 3.

The opening song
Running away from the wolf
Taking a bow

I often hear horror stories about kindergarten mothers being expected to sew elaborate costumes for school events, so I was quite relieved when I heard that costume prep consisted of bringing a pair of white tights. That was entirely within my capabilities. The children wore goat ears attached to polysterene bowl hats, and their usual kindergarten clothes plus little coloured waistcoats.

The musical finale for K's year group consisted of a song and a Pianica performance. Do you know what that is? It's a little piano keyboard attached to a tube that you blow through while playing the keys. I suppose it's name comes from it being a cross between a piano and a harmonica. They have only been learning to play it since October so the performance was pretty simple, but well done. In fact, during the whole show, the only mistakes I spotted were those by nervous teachers...

Pianica playing

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Book Depository

I'm sure you've heard me mention The Book Depository before. Anyone who knows me in real life has definitely heard me going on about it. They sell a huge range of books, all with free international shipping. Yup, free postage on any book anywhere in the world. In the last year or so I've bought a couple of big, hard-book books for K which would normally cost as much to ship as to buy, but yet again, free shipping.

Every so often they have a special day with a featured book on offer at a really low price for just one hour. They're doing it again on Thursday, but with a new book on offer every 15 minutes! It's quite exciting, popping back in to see what the next book is, and then quickly deciding if I want it before it sells out. Last time I got The Complete Works of Beatrix Potter, a beautiful big hard-back book, at half-price and with free shipping from the UK to Japan. I've been reading it to K every night for the last couple of weeks and we are both enjoying it so much.

I should let you know that I've become an affiliate for The Book Depository. That means that if you follow one of the links on my blog and then go on to buy something anytime in the following 30 days, I will get a small commission. I'm only recommending them because I use them myself though. I tend to research books on Amazon, where there are more reviews, and then buy them at The Book Depository. Since all their books have free worldwide shipping, it's also a cheap way to send books as presents to anyone you might know who lives far away (subtle hint....). Anyway, check out the big sale day, it's going to be fun!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Toddler T

In just over a month, T will be 2. Although he sometimes refers to himself as 'baby', lately he's been making it clear that he's A Big Boy Now. The biggest change is the end of nap-time. Up until the beginning of last week he would settle down for a nap without complaint. Last Monday, however, he stood up and cried when I put him in his cot. I left the room anyway, thinking he'd probably soon give up and settle down but, instead, he took off all his clothes and did a wee in his bed... For the next 3 days, exactly the same thing happened. On the 5th day, I admitted defeat and didn't even bother trying to put him to bed; you can put a toddler to bed, but you can't make him sleep. He's also tried the deliberate wee-ing weapon as a way to watch more TV, but I managed to hold out on that one.
T has also decided that he's too big for the push-chair now, and that he should walk everywhere. He is particularly adamant that he should walk to K's kindergarten every morning and afternoon. It's not far, maybe 400m or so, but that's a total of nearly 2km a day which does sound like quite a bit when you're not even 2 years old! I'd hoped that the extra walking might prompt a few naps, but no such luck. He does at least actually complete the walks himself, without wanting to be carried, but it can take a Very. Long. Time. There are an awful lot of interesting stones between here and the kindergarten.
Other Big Boy activities are mainly along the 'Anything K Can Do, I Can Do Better' line. He will copy K quicker than I can say 'Don't do that K, T will copy you'... As well as naughtiness though, he does copy more positive behaviours too. He likes to 'read' books aloud, is working hard on dressing himself, has gained his Jigsaw Proficiency Badge and looks to soon overtake K in chopstick handling...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Remember the umeshu (plum liqueur) I made in June?

I pretended to forget about it for a few months, and then actually forgot about it for a few more, so that in the end it had nearly 7 months until I opened it. It's changed into a lovely golden colour, and it's pretty strong...

I first opened it on a Games Night (aka a meeting of the Bread and Butter Pudding Club), and Lisa joined me in the first tasting. Since then H and I have had the odd glass now and then. It's a good thing that it improves with age, because it's going to take us a while to get through all this...

Monday, 4 February 2013

Listmania 3

This week's prompt was 'Crushes: Then and Now'. Hmm. To be honest, most of my crushes have been on people I actually know, rather than actors or singers, but I will certainly not be listing any of those here. Celebrity ones are embarrassing enough. So, for your amusement...

An early one - Morten Harket of A-ha. Actually, he's still looking good now...

Later, we move on to X-Files era David Duchovny...

...and Goran Visnjic, aka Luka from ER.

Nowadays? I don't know really. Not very original, but maybe Johnny Depp, who didn't interest me in the past, but who I've come to like (and admire as an actor) more and more in recent years.

And now H is commenting and teasing me by suggesting Nicholas Cage. Oh, I can't stand him. He just really gives me the creeps...

So, pop over to Debra's blog to see who else is listing their crushes, past and present, and maybe add yours too!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Little monkeys

I know that most of you only come here for photos of cute little boys, so here's a little visual summary of what went on in January...
Just enough snow for a snowman, but not enough carrots

K loves all his Christmas Lego


Little boys getting up to mischief

K getting some free oranges at Tondo-san

T's 'pretending to sleep' face