Thursday, September 29, 2011

I found these word cards at a 100 Yen store today.

I was looking for something with which I could make flash cards to help me practice my Japanese vocabulary, but I wasn't actually expecting to find exactly what I needed.  I thought I would have to buy some notecards and cut them into makeshift flash cards.  I cannot explain why I find the description on the cards so delightful, but I do!  Such convenient goods!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Conversations with Beaver

Beaver:  Mommy, what you doing?
Me: I'm getting the crockpot out.
Beaver:  Please I can watch one TV while you getting the crackpot out?
Me (laughing):  You're kind of a crackpot when it comes to watching TV!
Beaver:  No I not.  See?  I a boy!
I smiled at him and continued with what I was doing, ignoring his request.
Beaver: Mommy!  Please I can watch one TV while you cooking something in that pork chop?



Perhaps it was a knee-jerk reaction to the trauma of the oyakodon meal, but last night I went to the opposite extreme and made meatballs, mashed potatoes, and broccoli for dinner.  Bear inhaled it.  Beaver ate it all as long as it was covered in ketchup.  (He even wanted to dip his broccoli, but I managed to stop him.)

Fine.  Maybe I have steeped them in American cuisine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My children are so appreciative of my efforts to cook a traditional Japanese meal for them.

I found a food blog recently that I really like.  The author lived in Japan for awhile and many of her recipes are Japanese inspired.  She has two young daughters, and often writes about how her girls "inhale" the new, healthy, and delicious dishes she serves to them.  Tonight I decided to try Oyakodon.  It's a very traditional Japanese dish.  Rice, chicken, egg - simple ingredients to make a simple Japanese meal.  Here is the result: 

I suppose this is funny.  I'm sure I will laugh about it eventually - maybe even tomorrow.  But for now, here's my full disclosure.  I was MAD.  Beaver is such a freaker about food.  If something isn't served just as he expects it, he cries, he sobs, he screams, he won't even touch it.  If the end of his banana breaks off, it's like the world is coming to an end.  I told him we were having chicken and rice, but when I served it all in one bowl, boy, you would think I just served him a bowl of mud and told him to eat it.  It is so frustrating to me.  Honestly, look at his reaction (and the video doesn't really do it justice).  All because I am trying to FEED HIM!  I tried ignoring him for awhile.  But when he gets mad, he often starts to throw things.  He threw his chopsticks across the table, and I exploded.  I try not to yell at my kids, but I sure yelled tonight.  I grabbed him out of his chair, marched him upstairs and tossed him onto his bed.  Then I stormed back downstairs, snatched his food off the table, threw it in the garbage, and shoved his dishes into the sink - all while Bear shrunk into his chair and peered over the top of the book he was reading.  It was not my finest parenting moment.

I went outside to cool down and to text Mike that I was ready to quit my job.  Then I took a deep breath and went back inside.  The thing is, this is a fight that Beaver will always win.  He will get his way, or I will pay for it the rest of the night.  If I left him in his room, he would fall asleep, wake up a couple of hours later, and be up half the night.  I could tell him fine, he could go without dinner, but then he would be hungry and spend the evening crying and we would all be miserable.  You could say, let him cry, if he gets hungry enough he will eat, but it isn't true.  I remember my mom telling me once that kids will starve before they eat something they don't like, and I didn't believe her.  Now I do.  Maybe by Bear's age you can use that on them - by then they have enough self control to force themselves to eat something (and Bear did just that, so he escaped my wrath).  But at age three, they really won't.  He would have gone hungry first.  So, I settled myself down, brought Beaver back downstairs, and gave him a bowl of plain rice with soy sauce and a couple of carrot sticks, which he ate up.  He won.

You might suggest that it is my own fault.  That kids eat what they are exposed to, and if mine won't try new things, it's because I steeped them in a traditional American diet, but it isn't true!  I swear I did everything by the book!  I introduced vegetables first, and I have always made a conscious effort to serve them a healthy, varied diet.  It didn't work!  Now, here we are in Japan and they turn up their noses at half the food that I make.  I feel a little better when I remind myself that Beaver has been suspicious of food from the first bite of rice cereal that entered his mouth.  Bear is another story.  He was a great, adventurous eater until age five.  I don't know what happened to him.    

Someone say something to make me feel better.  Tell me that Fujimama's spinach-eating kids are freaks, and mine are the normal ones.  Tell me that I am a good cook and they are missing out.  Or just tell me how you would handle such a situation.  I need some daily affirmation.     

Here's a secret:  The oyakodon was alright, but even I didn't love it.  Sigh.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time Flies

And I am not doing much to keep a record of what is going on during that flying time.  So here's the scoop:

Bear is settled in school and doing fine.  Yesterday he came home all excited about a website called "Mathletics" that he had learned about.  He got on the computer, but quickly announced that the math way way too hard for him.  I came to take a look and it's just multiplication.  He hasn't learned much in the way of multiplication yet, so I tried to explain that it isn't really that hard, he just needs to memorize his times tables.  He knew the answer to the first one, 7 x 2, but the next one was 7 x 9.  My mind went blank.  "Ummmm, I think it's 56..." I said, so he typed 56 and hit enter.  WRONG!
"See!" Bear shouted, "This is way too hard!  I'm going to tell my teacher that even my mom can't do it!"
"No! Don't do that!" I protested, "I should have known that answer!  It's too embarrassing!"
"Well, okay, I'll just tell her that one of my parents didn't know the answer.  I won't tell which one."
Nice.  I guess I better get practicing my times tables as well.

Beaver is definitely three.  He is stubborn, sweet, opinionated, funny, exasperating, and adorable.  He recently decided to call Mike and I "mommy" and "daddy" instead of "mama" and "dada."  We are getting used to it, but I prefer "mama" and try to still get him to use that instead.  I think he learned "mommy" from his brother, because Bear calls us "mommy" and "daddy" when he is whining.  Hence, the title evokes rather negative feelings in me.  I bought a new swimsuit last week, and the next day I put it on so that he and I could go to the pool.  Rather absentmindedly, I stopped to look in the mirror.  "Mommy, what you doing?" Beaver asked.  "You looking in the mirror to see if you look beautiful in your new swimming suit?"  I laughed.  "Yes, do I look beautiful?"  "No."  Beaver said decidedly.  Yesterday he came hobbling slowly into the kitchen and announced, "Mommy, I am an old man.  I need my walking stick." (the walking stick he was referring to turned out to be his umbrella.)  He likes to say that he has a big, fat tummy.  If something tastes good, he says, "It's yummy yummy in my big, fat tummy!" while sticking his tummy out as far as he can.  He is quite interested in how babies come to be.  He knows that babies grow in their mommy's tummy, but he thinks that they get there because the mommy eats them, and when they are born they "pop out of the mommy's mouth."  He is often concerned about having to get small again and go back in my tummy, because it will be dark in there and he can't see.  I try to reassure him that won't happen, but he doesn't seem convinced.  Perhaps this is because I often tell him that he is so cute that I am going to eat him up, all gone in my tummy.

Beaver has started attending the local preschool twice a week.  He likes it, I like it.  Speaking of flying time, the hours he is in preschool sure fly by faster than any hours at home seem to.

Mr. Mike
Mike continues to work like he lives in Japan.  We don't see much of him during the week, so we look forward to weekends.  This week he has Monday off for "Respect for the Elderly" holiday.  Hooray!

Mrs. Mike
I clean the house (sometimes), feed the family (always), walk Bear to the bus stop in the morning, play games with Beaver, go to the pool (even though the kids are kind of tired of it), study Japanese (when I'm not too tired to concentrate), read books to Beaver, take Beaver to preschool, pick him up from preschool, go to lunch with friends (had okonomiyaki for the first time - yum!), go grocery shopping, walk to the bus stop to pick Bear up after school, supervise homework, and all of those usual things that moms do.

A Few Pictures
Eating shabu-shabu

Asagiri Beach