Friday, May 28, 2004
Messing with my mind
...or at least with my sleep patterns. We've been happily pottering along: last feed 11ish, night feed 4ish, morning feed 7ish, back to sleep until breakfast, 9ish. Then she did that 6 hour stint. Then last night she slept through the 'last feed', not waking from 8.30 until 2 am. At which point I'd been awake for an hour trying to swat a mosquito that was buzzing around the room and landing on Maggie to wave at me teasingly, but that's by the by. Then back to sleep until 5. I don't like waking up during designated sleepy time - once I can deal with but twice is not to be seen as progress. Yawn. Then today she had a lovely walk in the park then screamed her little head off all the way home (poor taxi driver, I must learn how to apologise for my noisy baby!), turning to smiles as soon as we got through the door. Surely she's too young for such games?

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Two months today!
Maggie, that is. She celebrated by sleeping for 6 hours straight last night (hooray). I, of course, woke up at 4 o'clock wondering why she wasn't awake (boo). And today I feel more tired than usual; think I've noticed what I've been missing before.
Thursdays are becoming our baby-centred day* - baby massage this morning (she peed on the towel. I think that's OK at her age but probably not OK if I do the same when I go for a massage next week) followed by 'playgroup', a group of mums and babies ex- of the tokyo pregnancy group. They don't play as such, just eat and sleep and gaze about, but we have a good time with a pot-luck lunch and much chatting. Nice to have mums of babies the same age and a bit older to compare notes with.
*all days are baby-centred of course. Thursdays just have more structure.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Speaking to strange men
There I was, meandering back from the supermarket with Maggie in her pram, when a man came dashing after me. I thought for a minute he was going to ask directions (stupid me, has anybody ever asked me directions here?) but no. Excuse me, he said, how old is your baby?. Somewhat nonplussed, I told him, and then we had a bit of a chat. An awkward chat, because I was wondering whether he was either an escaped lunatic or wanting to steal my purse (what can I say? I haven't been in Tokyo so long I have stopped wondering) and he seemed happy to stand and smile in silence, though he did start speaking again every time I pushed the pram forward a little to try to escape. He has three daughters (10, 3 and 5 months; he was 29). He then squatted down and gazed at Maggie for a good two minutes before asking if she was a girl or a boy (I am all for not stereotyping but am not at all convinced I'd have dressed a boy in the pink T-shirt with frilly sleeves and a heart motif that Maggie was sporting today. But then, with all those daughters he probably doesn't know and assumes all babies wear such items!) then abruptly saying bye and marching off. How odd. I assume he wanted to practise his English, but it is customary in that case to ask (can I speak English with you?).

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
More photos
Maggie had a little party on Sunday. She wore a pretty dress and was very good - smiling at everybody and having a little snooze whenever she got fed up!
Maggie meeting Yuko Smiling at Hiro playing with Takahashi-san ...hanging out with the girls and a celebratory fish and partying with her dad

Catherine and Alan do Tokyo
Mostly Alan's photos - explains why he's not in them! Hover for text.
Catherine and half of Alan at Roppongi Hills They went to Kamakura in the rain... ...and the parasite museum: yuk! ...and to the sumo ...and Catherine dressed up in a kimono

Friday, May 21, 2004
I have to say I like the new version of Blogger. I know it's been around for ages so I am behind the times, but it is lovely and easy to use and the new photo upload thing is a breeze!
Maggie is having a snooze in her bouncy chair so I've grabbed the opportunity to get online and deal with some of the 270-odd emails now waiting in my inbox. All those books that tell you not to try to do chores when the baby is asleep but to use the time to rest or do something nice for yourself? Clearly written by men who have a team of staff to launder, cook and tidy. I haven't had a daytime snooze since Cameron's parents left, and I only managed it once while they were here. Still, I am getting a reasonable amount of sleep at night, usually around 11.30-4ish then again to 7ish then maybe another hour or so, so I am functioning after a fashion. Utterly incapable of completing a sentence but that's not so different from before, just more pronounced.
Maggie went to the Hyotan (Cameron's after-work pub, see several previous posts) last night. No, not on her own...we took Cameron's sister Catherine and her friend Alan, who are staying with us. The waitresses in particular were pleased to see her but obviously thought I was completely insane, taking my baby to the pub to eat, drink and be merry with a load of salarymen. Perhaps they are right, but probably better that than surreptitiously going insane at home on my own. I didn't stay too late anyway as I was conscious that everybody was very kindly not smoking so I thought I should leave and let them relax - Maggie and I came home for a bath and an episode of Buffy (is that suitable for her or yet more evidence that I'm a Bad Mum?).
We also went to baby massage yesterday, which was fantastic! Maggie was just blissed out all afternoon after it. She is now wearing big-girl nappies, which has had the knock-on effect of making all her newborn clothes too small. Already.
A large parcel arrived for me this week, stuff I'd ordered from the UK. The postman explained that I had to pay 3000 yen duty (not unusual, though it does appear to be charged completely at random - I've only had to pay duty on one other parcel since we've been here) and 200 yen for something else. Fine, I said, only I have next to no cash in the house. Do you take visa? Of course he didn't, so I scraped around the bottom of my purse and found him 2000 yen plus the 200, which very definitely had to be paid separately. I then found another 500, which he took too. He then left after telling me something incomprehensible in very polite Japanese. I have no idea whether he's going to come back for the extra 500, whether I should go somewhere (the post office?) and pay it, or whether I've been let off. if the latter, was I just let off or did he pay it himself? What a country!

Just testing the new and highly fancy method of posting photos to my blog. This is Maggie with her Grandma. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
A nice quick easy post, borrowed from Lisa. 100 (completely random? What's with all the Pratchett?) books, put the ones you've read in bold. The books that are still sitting on my bookshelves waiting to be read are in italics.

1984, George Orwell
The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy (I read half then gave up)
Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
The BFG, Roald Dahl
Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Bleak House, Charles Dickens
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

Catch 22, Joseph Heller
The Catcher In The Rye, JD Salinger
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
Dune, Frank Herbert
Emma, Jane Austen
Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
The Godfather, Mario Puzo
Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, Douglas Adams
The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

Holes, Louis Sachar
I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
Katherine, Anya Seton
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, CS Lewis
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
The Lord Of The Rings, JRR Tolkien
Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
Magician, Raymond E Feist

The Magus, John Fowles
Matilda, Roald Dahl
Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden

Middlemarch, George Eliot
Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie
Mort, Terry Pratchett
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett

Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
On The Road, Jack Kerouac
One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Perfume, Patrick Suskind
Persuasion, Jane Austen

The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
Pride And Prejudice, Jane Austen

The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret History, Donna Tartt

The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
The Stand, Stephen King
The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
Tess Of The D'urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
The Twits, Roald Dahl
Ulysses, James Joyce
Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
War And Peace, Leo Tolstoy
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Winnie-the-Pooh, AA Milne
The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

Saturday, May 15, 2004
A promotion and lots of screaming
Cameron has been made captain of his football team, which is nice I think. Apparently this means he gets to have his friends play each week (ie he picks the team) but he was suspiciously shifty about what else it will entail, airily assuring me that it wouldn't be any work whatsoever.
Maggie has been in a bad mood for a couple of days, though this is supposedly normal when they reach around 6 weeks. She's sad and cross because she is growing, or something. Still, in the grand scheme of things she remains easy (when I say she screams, I mean on and off for an hour or so. It feels like forever at the time but I have friends whose babies just cry and cry and cry, so I can't complain too much). Wednesday night she cried during the night for the first time since we left the clinic! For about 2 minutes. We've been to lots of mother and baby thingys this week too - they are fun but I am starting to feel like I want to talk about something other than sleep and, well, sleep is the main topic. Odd discussions of weight loss, feeding, husbands and family, but mostly sleep. I'm off to my book group this afternoon for a bit of sanity-restoring grown-up chat (about a book I hated: Dreams of my Russian Summers by Andrei Makine. Steer clear unless you have insomnia.)
And I have no news about myself whatsoever. As my midwife said: a princess while pregnant, I am now the slave. (Except I don't recall the pregnant bit being especially princessy.) I leave the house laden like a sherpa with Maggie strapped to my front and a bag full of 'essential items' behind (and still does anybody give me a seat on the train? What do you think?) - though to be fair I am only leaving the house for my own sanity, she wouldn't care if we stayed indoors in our jimjams all week long.

Sunday, May 09, 2004
Goldfish poo
Apologies for the scatological nature of recent posts: this will be the last for a while I promise. One of the ladies at Friday's playgroup was permanently attached to her 1-year-old; clinging firmly to her leg, she was not going to let mummy out of her sight for a second. This provided a great learning opportunity for us: it seems that the Japanese refer to such a clingy child as goldfish poo. It may not be an elegant image but it makes the point rather nicely.
Maggie, not goldfish-pooey at all, was delighted to be reunited with the midwives at our checkup yesterday and showed off her new skill, giving them all some lovely smiles (before pooing everywhere but I'm sure that was an expression of delight also). I had my pelvis readjusted, which rather oddly involved pinching my eyebrows (but what do I know about these alternative therapies). Actually what I find most strange about it is the fact that she doesn't treat me symmetrically; if I were readjusting a pelvis I think I would do the same to both sides. Maggie is now a very porky 4.5 kg and 55 cm tall (long?) - she'll soon be big enough for real nappies. And I am officially healthy: So-san says I can do everything except ride a bicycle or eat fruit. My allergies have returned though, which is rather a shame. I enjoyed my 9 allergy-free months. Oh, and my weight loss is sugoi, which is a typically Japanese word, meaning either 'fantastic' or 'terrible' depending on context. No idea this time.
Alongside my allergies have returned mosquitoes and cockroaches as we head back towards the rainy season. I can't decide which I hate more, the mossies because they give me 6 months of red itchy weals or the scuttling cockroaches with their disgustingly wiggly feelers and their tendency to drop out of cupboards and hide in the dishwasher. Shudder. Oh to be in England now the bugs are here.

Friday, May 07, 2004
Phew! It's hard work being a baby. And I haven't even got around to sorting out baby yoga and baby massage yet...yesterday we went and met up with a group of girls ex-of the pregnancy group, now with babes in arms. It was nice but exhausting...and Maggie loved having a go on another baby's swing (she doesn't have a swing, poor deprived mite). Today we all went to playgroup, daddy too. Sorry (I'm not going to start that), I mean "Cameron too". Maggie was mesmerised by all the other, bigger babies (she was the littlest - officially still a newborn until tomorrow). It was interesting that all the Japanese babies had hair and none of the western ones - apart from Maggie. She must be Japanese. Cameron made great friends with a toddler, who shared her (half-chewed) fruit with him.
Oh, and halfway down the road this morning I realised I had poo on my jeans, so I must apologise to my sister.
Otherwise we're still being very quiet. Cameron's parents left yesterday and we have a week before his sister arrives. I must try and do something non-baby so I have something interesting to blog! But I leave you with this, which made me laugh (link via cottontimer).

Saturday, May 01, 2004
How things have changed. Chatting online to my sister yesterday, she suddenly noticed she had poo* on her trousers. Not only had she not noticed immediately, she didn't feel any need to rush off and change; indeed, she thought it went well with the patches of sick**. I, in a similar vein, have to wear a hat to leave the house given my Extremely Bad hair. Maggie isn't a very sicky baby so I don't have white patches on all my clothes, but she makes up for that in other ways - mainly, deciding to do her starving baby routine just as I sit down with a plate of food, or screaming her little head off once our bus gets stuck in a traffic jam. I could just see everybody tutting at the noisy gaijin child from where I was hiding under the brim of my old-bat hat.
Little other news. It's Golden Week here - a run of 4 bank hols (including 'between day', inserted to make the holidays run together) - so Cameron has been off since Thursday and as far as I am currently aware will be off all next week (he won't absolutely commit to not going in one day, likes to keep me guessing). Not that we are doing anything very exciting with our time: pottering about, changing nappies, drinking tea and arguing over who has to go to the supermarket and forage for dinner, that sort of thing. We did have an expedition yesterday to a shrine with 100 wisteria plants to see its wisteria festival. The wisteria was mostly over but there were (literal) stacks of turtles and some nice bridges - and some plastic wisteria, which quite made up for the lack of flowers. Maggie didn't care anyway.
*My niece's poo, not her own.
**My niece's sick, not her own.