Saturday, 12 June 2010

June 1 is officially summer time. school uniform becomes so much easier. Just a polo shirt and gray shorts. Kei took this photo. He has finally finished turfing the front garden. Hmmm a bit brown you might be thinking... but K apparently got the turf half price because it was dying off so a bargain in his eyes....time will tell.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


We saw Tao last night. The tickets were my Mother's Day present. It was fantastic. Apparently they are touring Europe from June so if you are get chance, go ! Lili and Toma were spellbound. I found a clip on YouTube but you need to fast forward over the documentary bits.


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

new haircuts

New haircuts in preparation for the hot summer to come! They go to a hair salon just down the road all by themselves-how grown up they have become. The lady is a former student's mum.She is really good with them and Lili always comes back flicking her hair around like some super model. Toma is under the impression that the shorter his hair is the less he will have to wash it. Although this is long compared to the haircut he got when grandad took him to his barber last summer !

Saturday, 15 May 2010

gardening update

The little veg garden has asparagus (doing really badly though I shouldn't have harvested any last year..)onions(overflow from the main veg garden) strawberries (new plants so not much on them this year.) rocket , shiso and baby lettuce seedlings and 2 spicy red pepper plants. The pots have tomatoes in and a courgette plant. The plan is too move them out of the rain during the rainy season and see if that brings any more success.

The main veg plot has snap peas(thought they were finished but they have loads of flowers on again so maybe not) 5 okra seedlings, a courgette plant, an eggplant , 1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow sweet pepper plant, onions ready to be harvested too oh and the remnants of the beetroot I harvested last week to make apple, beetroot and ginger chutney. Once the onions and snap peas are up we are going to sow black sesame seeds,basil and maybe carrots.

Look how bad the soil is and this so much better than a few years ago. The rhubarb on the left was grown by seed last year it disappeared during the summer but popped up again in March so I have moved it next to the compost bin with the one I bought at the garden centre last month.

The other side of the compost bin is an artichoke plant. I pulled up the one that was in my little veg garden because it was huge, ugly, had thorns and was loved by really gross caterpillars so this one is probably on borrowed time but if it does flower it would be great to eat artichoke hearts again. (I haven't had them since I lived in France...)

Kei is putting more turf down. The alternative was patio or decking but we face the street so we rarely sit out on this side of the house anyway and grass has a more cooling effect in our never ending summer.

The wind thing is our anti mole device. K swears by it but I am not so sure. If anyone knows a fail safe way to get rid of moles please let me know. The more time and effort I put into the garden the harder it is to 'live and let live'.

Nothing much happening here. I am still learning alot about flowers, soil, shade , sun etc and things have been planted all over the place just to see what happens! A classic example are the cornflowers below. I love them but when I sowed the seeds I just didn't think. They are way to tall to be at the front of the bed.

The yellow chrysanthemums are gorgeous this year. You can't tell that I moved them twice and nearly killed them off once!

I was really worried about the blackberries but it looks like we will have a bumper crop again. I cut them right back to make room for some raspberry canes though so we won't have quite as many as last year.

The back of the house is still a mess but the Christmas tree lives on. Despite being hacked at 2 years in a row, dragged inside and placed on underfloor heating for a month before being chucked back into the cold on Dec 31st there are new shoots!

The soil back here is totally waterlogged. North facing nothing much grows well (except the Christmas tree!) Weeds have never ending roots and seeds blow over from the embankment all year round. But little by little it is improving.

The best thing around the back is that container under the bay tree. It contains bluebell seeds planted 2 years ago and they are starting to grow! Amazing. Well,amazing that I managed to leave them alone for 2 years!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010


hmmm....I seem to have lost a whole load of comments. I have no idea what happened. Sorry to everyone who took the time to post! If anyone has any idea what happened let me know.

Monday, 10 May 2010

I finally worked out how to convert the DVD into an uploadable file so.... here is Lili doing her Bluebird variation for the Japan Ballet Association's regional heat. Under all that ridiculous make up is Lili. She wobbles a bit at the end and doesn't quite get her legs up high enough but anyone who remembers just how shy Lili was will be impressed, I think. Solo in front of a panel of judges- way to go Lili!!!

2009 Piano Recital

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Golden Week in pictures

very yummy noodles discovered by accident
playing in the river at the campsite

the view

breakfast cooling in the river

the men doing their thing

cooking the rice

beer and barbecue

pot noodles for breakfast at 7am - ugh

an amazing talking bird at one of the potteries we visited

at the potteries

Thursday, 6 May 2010

On the phone to Grandma and Grandad.

This is what the kids are doing while they are on the phone. They can set up skype themselves now so hopefully they can start phoning while I am at work.(Although Toma phoned America by mistake the other day!)

Toma's first football match

We were busy with ballet so the boys went to see a Kumamoto play.

Monday, 3 May 2010

April Update

April was all about school. Toma had a brand new school to get used to and Lili had a new class of friends and a teacher to get acquainted with.

Toma first. Teacher- female, went to school with Kei and has a daughter in Lili's class. Thank god she seems a really good teacher. Very calm, experienced and organised. During the first couple of days Toma was getting a little frustrated with the 'are you a foreigner? speak English!' comments. Nothing nasty just a lot of curiosity but we decided to ask the teacher to keep an eye out for it and she did. Immediately. As soon as she read the letter. She led a class discussion on it and there hasn't been a murmur since!

Lili's year group was mixed up again (it happens every 2 years) but she stayed with some of her best friends and was quite pleased with her new classmates. Her teacher is new to the school. He was a junior high school sports teacher for the last seven years but obviously the Board of Education decided it was time for a change! 35 rather good looking and apparently he can move his eyebrows up and down. Lili may well be on the way to her first crush!

Toma loves school. He is up before everyone else. Raring to go. He walks to school with Lili and Ciara who invariably end up carrying something for him. When he gets to school he has to change into his indoor shoes and go to his classroom. 1st graders aren't allowed to play outside yet.(6 year olds can walk to school on their own though??) The 6th graders go to the 1st graders rooms in the morning and play with them, help them learn the school song and generally police them until the teachers arrive. So far they haven't really studied much and he has already covered most of the basics at Kindy so it shouldn't be too difficult. He walks back halfway with 2 kids from his class and the rest on his own. He absolutely refuses to let me meet him! He has grown up sooo much in this last month. long may this enthusiasm continue!

Both the kids had class observation and home visits this month. Kei and I had to split up and observe half a class each for observation day. I know lots of the mums in Lili's class so it was quite hard to tear myself away to watch toma's class (I am one of those Mum's chatting away during the lesson....)but the 1st graders were very cute giving little self introductions one at a time at the front of the class.

Home visit. Both teachers stayed for about an hour.(should have been 15mins tops!) Toma's was killing time before the next students time slot and we chatted about various things like what Kei was like in elementary school! With Lili's teacher we had the last visit of the day and he just stayed and stayed..Saying that I am not sure many parents sat down with a checklist of things they wanted to discuss! (Kei came back to meet Lili's maybe first crush but not his old classmate )

So all in all school is good. Lili's math is almost beyond me. Multiplying decimals and fractions..math...I hate it. Japanese Language is almost beyond me! I knew this would happen but not this early..

Saturday, 10 April 2010


Oi oi!! Carry your own satchel, Toma!

Hmmm... K hates his hair and I am not taller than him really... but apart from that a nice photo, maybe...

So cute and I am not biased at all!
Congratulations Toma on entering Elementary School!

Shimonoseki trip

The only photo from a really good aquarium with underwater tunnels so you had fish and penguins swimming all around you. With loads of hands on stuff as well as faaar too many blowfish..
Toma's lunch 'mother and baby bowl'

Moji port with quite a big English influence on the architecture.


A huge concrete octopus shaped slide. Again, why?

The train museum with a simulator so Toma got to drive a train and make it arrive at the station on time etc.

The bridge.

I had two days in the spring holidays that were totally free, no work, no ballet and no school. I figured that if we stayed home I would either spend the whole time cleaning or cooking so we took a little road trip. K was busy (year end, month end and new customers) but me,Lilli and Toma headed north for the bridge that connects Kyushu and Honshu. I booked a hotel and straight after swimming on Thursday we set off. The weather forecast was awful but it turned out to be ok just a little cloudy. The hotel was within walking distance of all the sights and after we had a look around we went to kurukurusushi. The fish market was right next door and the fish was REALLY fresh, yum. The restaurant was heaving so we ended up ordering nearly all the dishes as nothing stayed on the conveyor belt long enough. Afterwards we made our way back to the hotel for Uno and bath and bed.

Next day we were up early to go to the fish market but the smell didn't agree with Toma who has a ridiculously sensitive nose! The kids opted to buy bread at the convenience store and eat it on the harbour. Toma chose a bread with a custard cream filling and carefully ate all the surrounding bread leaving the yummy cream centre which he was examining carefully when a hawk swooped down and took it out of his hand. The bird's wing was right next to my face!!! Toma was hysterical! We looked up to see the bird swallowing the custard cream. Since when do birds of prey eat custard cream? We grabbed our stuff and ran back to our room to finish breakfast. Toma is probably traumatised for life.

The rest of the day was spent at a train museum, on a tram, playing on a giant octopus slide(only in Japan!), on ferry boats and at an amazing aquarium.

It was really nice to get away even if it was just for a couple of days.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

A long month...

soccer tournament for the top class.One of the many events in the last term of kindergarden. I am not sure you could really call it a match but Toma fell in love with the game all over again and has been bugging K about joining a soccer club..
My 39th birthday! The kids made me a cake which K baked at 300c (because the oven didn't go up to 350c??) the cookbook was American and K didn't know about the whole Fahrenheit /Celsius thing... apparently the cake was black within 5mins! They had to do the whole thing again and i wasn't allowed to get up until it was done! Tasted delicious though!

Lili had her 'half way towards being an adult ' ceremony at school. We had to write a letter to her way back in November telling her how proud we were of her and talk about her good points and our hopes for her future. I was more than skeptical at first because I think we do a pretty good job of telling her how much we love her on a daily basis but actually when we sat down and wrote it it was quite an emotional roller coaster.Kei wrote half and i wrote half .K's was lovely and brought a lump to my throat.Anyway... the ceremony was a BIG deal. The kids had corsages, we had a concert violinist serenade us as we waited for it to start. The headmaster gave a lovely speech about the importance of having a dream. The kids sang and a group speech thanking Mums and Dad for everything they do. Then we went to the classroom and each child gave a speech about their dreams , sang and gave us a picture.

Lili's said 'thank you for buying me my pointe shoes and for bringing me up!?'

And Toma graduated! No more kindergarden for me!! He was a star! He had a special little role to play and he managed to keep it a secret from us. I cried buckets, the teachers cried, the bus drivers cried...

Farewell to some friends, others will be at the same elementary school.

Lili had her second ballet competition on the 25th .I am going to try to put the video up.

the speech at the 'half way to adulthood' ceremony.

Monday, 22 February 2010

The cutest monkey ever!

The very last kindergarden show ever !