Monday, August 16, 2004
Hello, yes sorry that was a bit vague wasn't it. For those of you who didn't twig (and emailed to complain!), the maiko holding the baby is me. I went with my chum Amanda to the Katsura dress-up place, where we decided to be rather elderly maiko rather than more seemly geiko (what can I say, the frocks are better - but it was such fun I might go back and be a geiko another time!)
We had to pick a kimono then sit still while our faces were painted with 3-inch brushes; the wig was very heavy and excrutiatingly uncomfortable; photographs were very carefully posed (tilt your head...eyes down...turn your foot in...). I look rather disturbingly like a man in drag: I never realised I had such a square manly jaw.
The weekend consisted of organising, lists and packing, with diversions to see the Tokyo Bay fireworks on saturday night and a quick whizz round some shops yesterday. Cameron played football and was rather proud of his spectacular own goal. And I'm all set to leave once my hand-luggage is packed and Maggie's nappies have been washed.

Saturday, August 14, 2004
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Thursday, August 12, 2004
Santa Claus is not coming to town (yet)
But I am!
Sorry to keep you all on tenterhooks; I'm sure you all imagined something far more exciting. But I didn't want to jinx it...
Maggie and I will be in Surrey for 2 weeks from Tuesday, apart from the 23rd-26th, when we'll be in Fife. I'd love to see anyone who wants to see us and is in an appropriate part of the country, just give us a shout. Unfortunately Cameron will not be coming - meaning I have very mixed feelings about the trip, from so-excited-I-can't-sleep (it's been a whole year!) to sad; we haven't been apart for a whole fortnight since we've been married and I feel bad taking Maggie away from her daddy. Though he swears he won't miss us one little bit, I am choosing not to believe him.
A stressy day today with the travel agent being really really weird, until I worked out that we were at cross-purposes and he thought Maggie was 4 years not 4 months. It was him ringing to tell me that I couldn't travel in upper while my daughter was in economy that made me double-check...what sort of mother would I be? (Answer: a well-rested one.)

Mmph mmmph!
Heh heh heh.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Bah. Why did my wipes box wait until I had hit the perfect combo of african non-fast-dye hippy bag (rather than my usual sensible nylon backpack) plus nice white trousers before springing a leak? Anyone know how to get dye out of linen? Or will I just have to bung them all in the wash together and have swirly red and purple trousers instead?
My other news is mmmph mmph mmmph! Not telling until it is definite but let's just say I am very excited indeed and I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Hello Kitty
In a bid to raise a Proper Girl and counteract the effects of all the football and silly old men with guitars that she is sure to be persuaded to appreciate later in life, I took Maggie to a Hello Kitty exhibition at Roppongi Hills today. She is 30 this year (Kitty, not Maggie; the linked site contains her history) so I had expected an exhibition of Kitty tat and paraphernalia, not the Kitty-inspired art that was actually on display. A bit hit-or-miss; I liked Kitty Rotten and Kitty Lydon (and was quite upset they weren't available on postcards) and I liked the Kitty stones - a corner full of white paperweight-sized stones painted as Kitties but some of the rest was a bit secondary-school arty.

Monday, August 09, 2004
I made the nicest chocolate cake I've had in ages yesterday: anyone who has the domestic goddess book, make the dense chocolate loaf now! It was so delicious there is none left today. (But we did have people over yesterday, it wasn't just us being piggy.) The best choccy cakes seem to include hot water in the recipe, I wonder why that is? I would guess something to do with dissolving and dissipating the chocolate, except that it was already nicely melted by the time it was added, so I don't know. Any food scientists out there?
Much excitement here as we discovered (after 2 years of griping) that the Observer crossword has been made accessible online - a mere £25 and well worth it. We were extremely glad when it appeared yesterday as we'd been struggling mightily with the really hard Guardian ones all week (as warm-up): relieved to find we haven't completely lost the knack and can still do the Observer one - all but 2 clues, anyway. And actually the Guardian ones are improving with practice: one clue a week ago, three by Friday and today I have got five. They are good for a bit of mental stimulation while feeding Maggie.
Speaking of feeding, I found myself angrily reading excerpts of what to expect the first year to Cameron last night (poor Cameron). I hated their pregnancy book, should never have bought the next one (but next door had a garage sale, what could I do). It states that after the first year, breast milk ceases to be adequate and that infants require the nutrients in cow's milk. Excuse me? I like cow's milk as a drink but surely the authors should think logically about what they are saying, especially before setting themselves up as an authority. Humans must have evolved before domesticating cows (unless they were forced into domesticating cows by the need for said nutrients, perhaps?) - and what about societies that don't use cow's milk; they are presumably not all malnourished. Sigh. Oh I'm getting quite cross again just thinking about it. (And no, I am not intending to feed Maggie until she is 15, that's irrelevent.) (Not as cross as I got last week watching series 8 of friends, the one where Rachel has her baby. Poor Cameron - I realised I was being a ranty madwoman so contented myself with muttering look at that! no it's ok I'm not going to say anything. Thoroughly enjoyed it.)

Saturday, August 07, 2004
We want Doom 3. It doesn't look anything like the other two (no stampy pink pixellated spider?) but still cool and scarey (I played Doom 1 on a PC hooked up to speakers and ended up ducking and screaming when the bad men breathed behind me). Only we can't get it because it will result in a neglected child - bad parents. Or I suggested we could only be allowed to play after she goes to bed...but that would mean squabbles over who gets to play and temper tantrums (me) and us never seeing each other. So sigh, no Doomy fun for us.
I was woken at 5 am today by a baby gnawing my elbow. It seems rolling towards me hadn't attracted my attention so she decided to kill two birds with one stone and ease that aching gum at the same time. Oh, and she's learnt to giggle: possibly the loveliest sound I have ever heard!
Cameron is away playing football and probably getting severely dehydrated: I just walked home from Shimokitazawa and was drenched after the 15 or so minutes it took. Really humid and disgusting. Walking to ShimoK seems to be becoming What We Do On Saturdays - I never get there during the week but at the weekends we expat wives and mothers tend not to meet up so if you have a footballing spouse you get some time to yourself. It's a nice place to mooch about, full of cool cafes and shops selling things you definitely don't need but quite want all the same. I was good and just bought a pair of cheap loungy trousers (for all my complaining about the miniscule sizing here, it is a great country for buying trousers if you are of a short-legged persuasion like me. I can buy off the rack and they don't drag on the floor!) Came home a different way from normal and discovered an organic-food shop that I will have to start frequenting though possibly not for their fruit and veg given that they just had some dodgy-looking daikon and an old lettuce.

Friday, August 06, 2004
This morning we went to storytime at the children's hall. We had the enormous turnip, the very hungry caterpillar and something about an elephant taking a walk - oddly, with a hippo and a crocodile and something else balanced on his back until they all fell in the waterhole - all in Japanese at just my level of language (apart from the last one; the rationale for the balancing act escaped me). Then we had where the wild things are which was a bit too long and something boring about trains that a little boy wanted so Maggie cried. And we made another nice new friend there.
Biggish ("fairly strong") earthquake at 3ish last night - is that Maggie's first? I can't remember. She was awake and feeding anyway and didn't bat an eyelid.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
I've had a lovely lovely day. I made a lovely lovely new friend and we had a lovely lovely lunch. For 3 hours. And Maggie is back to my normal happy baby, no more all-day screaming. And I have squeezed back into my last pair of thin trousers (just don't look at me from behind) so am officially back to normal.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Cute though she may be, she has just puked over her bib and onto my trousers and the chair, and pooed out the back of her nappy all over her clothes (for the first time in months - next size required?) in the space of 2 minutes. Still, at least she slept for more than 90 minutes in a row last night (she did. I shouldn't have had my daily coffee at 5 o'clock; I lay awake most of the night and when I did sleep, had horrible dreams.) - we've had two nights of wakey baby with screamy-baby days in between. I blame her teeth because she will chomp on anything that comes close - even the finger of a nice lady in the HMV lift - and she's drooling like crazy, soaking through bibs in a matter of minutes. I told her before we went to bed last night that we'd try to have a better day today and, so far, we have.
Today's constitutional was around Yoyogi Park to look at trees and funny people. Great hordes of Australian teens milling about for some reason. A gang of 20-odd elderly men in reflective coats sweeping dry leaves into binbags. One of them had an enormous beetle crawling over his arm. He asked if I knew what it was but rather than saying, as tempted, it's a bloody enormous beetle, why are you letting it crawl on you (I wouldn't be able to say that in Japanese anyway, all I could have managed was a feeble it's an insect. Very interesting.) I made a smiley 'yuk' face and passed swiftly on before he made me hold it. What is it with Japanese men and large beetles? There are shops selling them at this time of year and they are always full of men and boys oohing and ahhing at big black spiny things that make my flesh crawl. The obligatory drummers - I think they must have a rota as there is always, always at least one (today, five) drummer in the same spot next to the fountains. A group of 12 girls in jeans and funky tops doing synchronised chicken impressions and the charlston. Maggie was most unimpressed with the fountains but she rather liked the crows. And we listened to the cicadas which are now dying in droves.

Monday, August 02, 2004
Gratuitous Maggie photo. Is she cute or what?! Posted by Hello