Sunday, October 31, 2004
Sorry chaps. I've been trying to put together a nice page of our Beijing trip all week - so far it is one sentence and a photograph. Sigh. My parents arrive today and it remains to be seen whether that increases my blogging (because they are looking after Maggie) or decreases it (lots of nice trips and outings). The week has been fairly mundane on the whole: a photography exhibition, a trip to the organic shop (where the nice man bowed to Maggie and said he respects her then, when he found out I was English, told me he likes the Beatles (fair enough) and Bob Marley (erm...)), baby playmates, lunches out and the like. Maggie had her first lunch out: sweet potato and pasta got spread all over Pizza Express.
We've been receiving increasingly frantic notes from our relocation agent: she wants us to decide when we're leaving so we can book flights, hotels, packers, shippers, and sort out all the other million things that have to be done when you move across the world. We're kind of trying not to think about it: not a constructive attitude, I realise. Shell have given notice to our landlord, however, so we really do have to be away from here by December 20th. Less than 2 months!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Here we are at the Great Wall (it was great). More to follow once I've excavated the kitchen.

Thursday, October 21, 2004
I am so tempted by this. But it would be wildly extravagent, right? I even failed to sound convincing to myself when I was explaining to Cameron how it was really financially sensible (compared with buying each season individually, that is). He says it's up to my conscience whether I buy it or not (foolish man, he knows I don't have one).

Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Eek! And double eek! (I am sure they don't mean millimetres - although can we really have had half a metre of rain this month?)
Lightning has just started up; the rain has got steadily stronger through the evening and now sounds like it is battering through the roof. Cameron, once again, is out in it.

Random paragraphs
Yawn, yawn, another typhoon. Quite tired of them now. I am considering investing in some snazzy wellies to cheer up necessary outings. Not going out in it to playgroup this afternoon, but that's OK because the vet wants to come and have a look at Jura. We think she is getting a bit better - it is quite hard to tell - but he wants to give her another massive dose of hormones.
I had also intended going to the supermarket (I am supposed to be providing dessert for tomorrow's baby group) and buying something nice and Japanesey to take to our friends in Beijing (on Friday, woohoo!) but I'm doing none of it, will just have to run about manically tomorrow morning instead.
Maggie has graduated slightly prematurely onto lumpy mashed food instead of puree; the liquidiser jug leapt out of the cupboard at me and became smithereens. She doesn't seem to mind. Favourite thing to eat to date: pureed carrot with mashed banana. I tried a bit and it is better than it sounds, quite nicely sweet in fact. I don't think I'll be serving it up for dinner though.
I read the no-cry sleep solution last week; got to love a book that makes you realise that you don't really have a problem (and is rude about 'other people' who make you think you do). Apart from daytime naps so we are trying very hard to get in two a day this week, see what happens. According to the book she should get 3-4 hours of nap each day and she rarely approaches that...of course, it is possible she just needs less sleep than average. She is, after all, brilliant. Speaking of which, she sat herself up from her tummy yesterday for the first time; you should have seen her little face, she was utterly delighted.
Feeling sad now. We just got an email from our relocation agency with a (long) list of stuff we have to do before leaving. She wants to know our flights and leaving date and everything! How can we possibly plan that now: I am strictly not thinking about it. Although one thing I must do is shift all my photos and update *all* my links before leaving this ISP (does any clever IT-type person out there know an easy automated way of doing that or must I do it by hand?)
I picked up our very cool Chinese visas yesterday. The embassy sensibly decided that M was not a threat to their national security and could be allowed to submit a non-official photograph. Very excited, but very much hoping the typhoon has moved out of the way of the plane by Friday.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Today's injunctions
We don't empty everything out of the bin and chew it (x 3)
We don't pull things off the coffee table to chew (x 2)
We don't grab people's hair on the train (even if she did push rudely past) (x 1)
We don't bang the cat (ad nauseum)

I imagine most of you in the UK have seen this already but just in case you haven't: the krankies sing Bowie has to be seen to be believed.

Maggie was clearly very taken with her uncle Chris when we wer home this summer and has decided to model herself on him. Why else would it take over 30 seconds to chew, consider and swallow a spoonful of yogurt?

Monday, October 18, 2004
Because I'm the mummy
Maggie with her Sakura sleeping pillow, beautifully embroidered by Cameron's lovely colleague Hara-san; Maggie in her nappy; Maggie and Daddy out and about.

Friday, October 15, 2004
A Better Day
Thanks goodness. In fact, I think she might have a second little tooth, though I wouldn't absoluely swear to it: she won't let me look. Playgroup was good this morning - we were late by virtue of being in a daze and getting on the wrong train - one of the little boys had his first bithday so we all had cake. Iona, playgroup leader and fellow hippy-but-not-too-hippy, has a secret blog here: secret no longer since she told me. I did warn her I'd blab.
After playgroup Maggie and I zipped across town to Mr Kudo the travel agent. Maggie's photo was inappropriate and I didn't need to fill in the forms (apparently) but I didn't find the fax telling me that until I fished it out of Maggie's mouth this evening so never mind. Hopefully the Chinese embassy won't actually demand an official-style photo of a 6-month-old baby (but if they do, I can take it to them on Monday).
The weather was so fantastic - Autumn has finally arrived properly without any of that nasty rain - we had an impromptu picnic in Kitanomaru park. Maggie thought the crows were very funny indeed and an elderly Japanese couple stopped their walk to admire her. They then stopped on their way back to take some pictures of her (oddly sinister in any other country but normal and par for the course here) and looked scandalised when I failed to show any concern after they pointed out she was chewing a dead leaf. (I did remove it, but honestly there are worse things she could be chewing. It was probably rather tasty.) Maggie giggled and rolled about and got muddy feet; I read my book, ate an aero and enjoyed not being too hot or soaked to the skin.
Autumn really is on its way with the progression of the Koyo front on display in the trains. Tokyo still has a green-leaf logo but not for long, I'm sure.

Thursday, October 14, 2004
What a morning. Had to cancel my lovely coffee with my lovely friend Sue because I thought I should get myself along to the Chinese embassy and see about visas. All set to go, just wiping avocado off Maggie (btw, what is the done thing with mucky babies? I bought her some nice sensible long-sleeved tops now the weather is getting cooler but of course they always get covered in breakfast. Is it acceptable to leave her all stained, especially if we aren't going to see anyone special - today she is sporting a nice pucci-style swirly avocado and calpol design - or is one supposed to change one's baby so one's baby remains pristine?) Then our relocation agent rang to tell me the dvd player is coming back this afternoon so I mentioned the visa thing to her and she told me she knew a man who could sort it out for us. Which saved me a trip I suppose, especially since, according to said man, it is not permitted for individuals to apply for their own visas. I am dubious about this but don't care enormously: I am always pleased to support the local economy by having somebody else do things for me. And I had been building it up into an enormous source of stress (what if the embassy staff and forms only have Japanese and Chinese and no English?)
OK. So I rang Kudo-san only to find that he isn't there: nobody was there apart from a chap whose English was as good as my Japanese, ie pretty rubbish. I think I managed to communicate that I would come tomorrow and hopefully he is going to fax me a form. Why couldn't Emma and Dave have moved somewhere easy to visit?
Anyway. Sorry, feeling somewhat unfocused. A good job we didn't go out because Maggie howled for 90 minutes. Most uncharacteristic; I assume it is teething pain (hence the calpol swirls on her clothes. There are bonjela ones too but they are invisible, just sticky. She smells like a pharmacy.) None of the usual tricks worked; eventually I came over all Dr Sears and popped her in her sling until she was calm. She seems to have dropped off now; no wonder, poor litle mite must be exhausted.
Looking forward to the return of the dvd player. Timely indeed, since our Father Ted box-set arrived yesterday. Although its absence has caused us to revisit some videos which has been rather nice: we've been watching the Beiderbecke Affair all week.
Update Seems I wasn't as communicative as I thought. He's just sent a lovely fax map to find his office. In Japanese (but hoorah! Japanese I can read). And much as I would love to fax him back, my printer has decided it can't see the paper tray any more. Time to hit the gin, I think. And it's a really good thing that M is asleep as there is going to be Language. Is it Friday yet?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Cameron has been giggling to himself ever since the quiz on Saturday night. One of the other teams, when asked what did Solomon Grundy do on Wednesday?, answered won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Teething troubles
At least, I hope it is teething: M has been whinging and wailing all day today so there is definitely something wrong. Unless she is fed up of the rain too. She cut her first little toothypeg overnight on Saturday without too much trauma (just excessive waking) so I'm thinking number 2 is on its way now.
Or it's possible she is just upset by my having to pay 20,000 yen for her to fly to Beijing. Yes, we are going too but we can travel on airmiles (thank you Mr Branson) while she has to pay 10% of the full no-discount adult fare (even 10% seems a bit cheeky to me: she doesn't have a seat, doesn't eat their food and weighs less than a piece of handluggage). When will Easyjet et al make it to Asia I wonder? (And eek! Do we have to get a visa?)
It was a(nother) bank hol here yesterday; we'll miss all these holidays when we go home. Tried to take Maggie swimming, at the local pool that has a lovely kiddies' pool, only to be told that she isn't allowed until she's 3. Sigh. I wonder if there is anywhere we can take her that isn't the american club?

Sunday, October 10, 2004
I said it was bad out there. It seems it was the worst typhoon to hit Japan in a decade, with 7 cm of rain in an hour and over 100 landslides. There was an item on BBC World and everything.
Cameron went out, as predicted. But well waterproofed (actually it had stopped by the time he got there) and it must have been worth it because his team won the quiz! Hoorah.

Saturday, October 09, 2004
We are having another typhoon. How many has that been so far this year? And why always at the weekends? Maggie and Cameron have stayed in all day; I braved it to get a haircut and some food but came back wishing for the first time ever that we had a car. Utterly revolting out. Cameron says he is going to go to his football club's quiz night regardless; it feels a bit like being on board ship here with waves lashing against the portholes and lightning flashing all around so I rather wish he wouldn't. Though I have nothing to give him for dinner so perhaps he has to.

Thursday, October 07, 2004
A big day
For Maggie, who woke up this morning determined to move forwards (as a change from rolling or shuffling backwards). First thing, she managed to flop along in an odd inelegant but effective manner: knees up, let go with both arms , bang! onto her belly and start again. Works rather well: I spent the morning removing things I didn't want her to eat - electrical flexes, a well-chewed cat toy, empty coffee cups (Mummy has to learn to not put her cups on the floor any more). Then at baby massage she decided she wanted the demonstration doll and off she went! Proper crawling! Very exciting - Juliet (who runs the playgroup and the class) was excited because she says she's seen loads of babies take their first steps but none start to crawl; I was excited but also sad and aware that my life is about to change drastically (and just when I've got used to it again). Of course, this morning I put her in a pretty dress because I thought we should make the most of it as she would start to crawl soon - now her poor little knees are all red.
Then we went to the supermarket and she sat up in the trolley like a big girl (picture below).
One side-effect of chronic sleep-deprivation seems to be the inability to make the simplest decision (you should have seen me dithering about what sort of washing-up liquid to buy). In particular, I am unable to decide to throw away leftover food with the result that my fridge is packed to bursting. Were the five thousand to turn up unexpectedly on my doorstep there would be no need for any funny business with loaves and fishes: each could have his (or her) own individual clingfilmed bowl or tupperware pot of stew, braised stuff, beans or an unpleasantly lurky pie that wasn't even nice when fresh. Feeling a little better today so perhaps I could tackle it - she slept from 11.45 to 4.30 without waking at all. I think she wouldn't have woken at 11.45 had I not flung myself on top of her in response to the quake; my subconscious had me over ready to protect her from fallen masonry even before I was awake.
Does anyone know if a big bottom is a good thing in the Philippines? Hope so, else our maid is playing a game with me - she keeps telling Maggie that she has a big bum "just like Mummy". Today we were discussing who she looked like - she has Cameron's eyes but otherwise is like me and I was telling Yolly about a photo of me at around her age that actually could be Maggie; she said that she has my legs and bum too. What does that mean? I don't have a baby's bottom.

Shopping trolley Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Maggie had a nap (hoorah!), I updated my blogroll. Removed some I don't read any more (nothing personal chaps) and added some I do - some because they are interesting and funny; some because they are real-life friends; some both. You'll just have to go and see for yourself.
Some I removed because they are dead even though I am still going to keep popping bck in hope of signs of life (you know who you are).
Next nap: Lisa Does The Laundry.
Next one after that: Lisa Fills In A Timesheet and Prepares an Invoice.
Ho hum.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004
The vet came to look at poor Jura today. She's been losing fur from her belly, tail and back legs: I first noticed when I got home from the UK and it has been getting gradually worse. One of Cameron's colleagues told him this is something that happens to cats here but C's Japanese was not up to understanding what it was or what to do about it, and we have a very nice vet who makes house-calls, so we got him out. He didn't mention it being something that happens to cats here but thinks she is doing it herself: not biting or pulling it out but just licking and licking (I can't say I've noticed her doing this but perhaps she goes off and does it in secret). And he thinks it is either a hormone imbalance or stress that is making her do so. Result: a hormone injection and a very large dose of vitamins and we have to keep an eye on her. Fair enough but the whole time I was just thinking about my mum's old cat Oscar. Oscar developed odd alopecic patches on his neck and was given, initially, hormone injections, which then progressed to steriods and all sorts. He was even forbidden his favourite cheese snacks in case the dairy was causing it. Until one day my mum spotted him squee-ee-eezing his way under a fence in the garden in order to access the catnip plant (fenced off to recover from his ardour) and rubbing the fur off his neck in the process. I can't help but wonder whether Jura's hair-loss is somehow related to her creeping about the undergrowth after lizards.
We braved the rain today to visit the Victor and Rolf Colors exhibition - lots of rooms of colour-coded fashion through the ages with explanatory signs in English (hoorah!) and funky music. It was very interesting and I say bring back the bustle! But am rather glad that paper dresses never really took off, given the amount of rain we've had this week. Incidentally: do you think fashion has all been done? The past couple of decades haven't seen anything new or radical (combats do not count) and it is hard to imagine what is left that hasn't been seen before at some time. Of course, maybe the noughties (is that this decade?) has a strong fashion that you just can't really see while you are in the middle of it (did people in the sixties know there was a definite 'look' or not notice until afterwards?) - but all I can think of is the smallness of trousers: low of waist and cropped of hem. And I can't imagine that is definitive. Also: did past eras have people who didn't really follow fashion too? We imagine Victorians all to have been swanning about in long gowns and corsets but was that just the fashionable set while 'normal' people wore the Victorian equivalent of M&S jeans and a T-shirt? Or was it true, as it seems, that fashion was much more important (or that there was less choice available) in those days?
Oh, and we visited Sarah and baby Tom in hospital. I had completely forgotten how teeny-tiny and helpless they are now that Maggie is quite capable of getting all her toys out of the box unaided (and even moves things out of the way if they are on top of the toy she wants). Putting them back is going to take a bit longer to learn.

Monday, October 04, 2004
I actually do quite like Mondays. Mainly because I am rarely organised enough to have filled the social schedule, meaning that we can do exactly what we like, nothing if we feel like it. And although they often, like today, consist of load after load of laundry, that's OK. Raining too hard today to do anything much even if we had been feeling full o' beans, so we just pottered. Around the house and down the road and got some of that 'to-do' list ticked off because Maggie was so bored she had a really good morning nap. The vet is coming tomorrow and a man to look at the DVD player on Thursday. No functioning DVD player is a *big* problem: no Baby Mozart! Maggie had her first evening meal (much more keen on that than she is on breakfast - mummy's girl) and I booked us all on a lovely daytrip to Fuji when mum and dad come out. Hoorah!
Now, who knows anything about naming ceremonies?

Sunday, October 03, 2004
So tired
Hello, sorry I've been ignoring the blog but M has decided that sleep is a sign of weakness; consequently I am stumbling about in a haze, barely able to construct a coherent sentence (yes, even less able than usual). I have no idea what is going on with her but fervently hope it stops before I lose it completely. I have actually been doing what the books suggest for a newborn - which I seldom did when she was one - and sleeping when she has a daytime nap.
Anyway. What has been going on here? My 'to-do' list is as long as my arm but I've been ignoring it, mostly. I'd intended getting a haircut yesterday but five (FIVE!) people told me my hair was looking nice on Thursday and Friday, so I didn't. I am not used to hair compliments, don't recall receiving one since I was about 17 with a perfect geometric bob. I thought it was looking a bit scruffy myself, but perhaps that is fashionable just now, I have really no idea. Of course, the next window of opportunity for a cut is about 3 weeks away, so it will definitely be long-overdue when it finally happens.
Not looking forward to this week, with Cameron out every night but Wednesday, up to and including next Saturday. I might just climb those walls after all. Plus, I can feel the stress of a move starting to build already: decisions decisions. What to take? What to sell? What to throw out? What to do with the cats? Where to spend Christmas? What sort of state is our house in and do we have to go and live in a hotel for a bit? (Breathe slowly into a paper bag.)
Nice news: my friend Sarah had her baby, a boy, yesterday (just in time as the big induction threat was scheduled for today!) No name yet. And our chums Fraser and Anita back home are expecting.
Oh and Mia-the-midwife has a blog of her very own now: I present the tour manager. Do go and visit.