Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As requested

Gokibou ni kotaemashite

Since Deeje asked for more on "this", here's what we know. I am currently 14 weeks pregnant. I've been issued my mother-baby health book by Pumpkin City (hopefully I'll be able to post more about this interesting object later, but my camera died last week) which is generally considered the time when the chance of miscarriage decreases dramatically. The due date is March 31st if I count on my fingers and March 29th if you are the OB taking ultrasound measurements of the fetus (which is how Japanese OBs figure out due date. It's my understanding that American OBs count on their fingers. OK, so actually they have a little wheel on a card that you can turn around and you align the marks for the date of the last period and it will tell you the due date. I understand the drug reps give out these cards when they've run out of pens marked "Depo-Provera").

I'm not nearly excited as the first time around, but I think it's mostly because I'm wary of getting my hopes up too high after what happened last time. Cautious optimism, don't you know...

In the meantime, I had a horrific toothache last week that kept me from sleeping. I saw three dentists and none of them were sure what was causing it. The third and final dentist suggested cleaning (which the first two did not do), and I thought it was perhaps something dentists said instead of "I don't know what's going on so I'll hedge and bide my time until it goes away, but after his assistant cleaned, the pain subsided some (it didn't go away, but at that point I was going to take what I could get). I still couldn't eat, and felt generally crappy until Saturday morning (I'm not sure if it was from not being able to eat or something else entirely). It still hurts to chew.

Of course I had to Google all this and came across the phrase "tooth neuralgia of pregnancy" which seemed to sound like what I had, but there was only one page that had anything about this, so it's probably not a legitimate concept.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not a problem!

Mondai nai!

Today was the Pumpkin Daycare's annual field day. The Pumpkin Princess took part in a running race, a dance to the song "Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea", and a relay race in which the baton was a helmet and cape (she was supposed to be Ultraman. Never mind that Ultraman doesn't have a cape. Or a helmet.) The Pumpkin Daddy drew lines for the events (circles for the dances, straight lines for the races, and circles, lines, squares and arcs for marching band. Yes, there was a marching band performance by 5 year-olds. The Pumpkin Daycare is full of Advanced kids). The Pumpkin Granny chased the Pumpkin Princess around when she wasn't running races and dancing to Ponyo. The Pumpkin Mommy sat around feeling crappy (I have a bad toothache and I can't take anything stronger than acetoaminophen for it because I am pregnant, more on this later, and I feel generally crappy which I don't know how much is due to pregnancy, more on this later).

So, as usual, the Pumpkin Daycare Field Day was the usual study in child development. The Pumpkin Princess danced happily when she was supposed to and ran when she was supposed to, but there were some kids in her class and even the class a year ahead of her who just kind of stood there during their respective events. The Pumpkin Granny commented that my younger brother, Y, was just like that, and I said "oh, so those kids are just going to grow up into Y, that's not a problem!"

And my mom agreed with me. "Y's a good daddy to his sons, and he has held the same good job for years. He's doing just fine."

As a parent, I wonder about the Pumpkin Princess's future. I hope she will grow up to be a healthy and happy person. Her inherent personality I can only do so much about, but I ponder how my parenting will affect her ability to deal with the suckage life will throw at her (life throws suckage at you. This is a law of nature, somewhere between the law of gravity and Boyle's law). I don't parent the way I fancy myself to parent. I get impatient and irrational sometimes. Then I regret it, and wonder how badly she's been scarred.

I have this lovely, smart, fun co-worker who said that when she was little, her mother told her she wasn't her kid and that she had no daughter. The words were said in a moment of anger and sadness over some issue or other, and they were untrue. This co-worker said that while she loves and adores her mother, she remembers having been told that to this day.

So the Tomato Mommy and I were discussing this, and the Tomato Mommy said that she would try to remember how much that hurt co-worker, and never say anything along those lines to the Tomato Prince no matter what. I said that while I thought that wasn't a bad idea at all, even if a kid goes through something like that, you still grow up to be someone like lovely, smart, fun co-worker. And if you grow up to be as lovely and smart and fun as she is, you pretty much have it made in life. The Tomato Mommy agreed with me that for the Tomato Prince to grow up into someone like co-worker would be wonderful.

There are moments I remember from my childhood when things my parents did and said hurt me. I remember them, and I wish they were otherwise, but there are so many more fun things and nice things that happened growing up. I've grown up to be a functional member of society with a family and a good job.

What do you think? Can even minor parenting glitches scar you for life and turn you into the Unabomber?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"autumn harvest"

minori no aki

Things that went well in my garden

1. Tomatos. I planted Italian cooking tomatos and I've made ratatouille, pizza, and tomato sauce for pasta. Yay!

2. Edamame. I planted edamame seeds straight into the garden and pretty much forgot about them all summer until they produced small but tender edamame. The only thing wrong with planting edamame in your garden is, if you and your family like them, there is just no way you are going to be able to grow enough. I had five plants and the Pumpkin Princess was always asking me for more.

3. Jalapenos. I bought seeds from an online company and planted them in pots. Not very many of them germinated, and the ones that did were eaten by aphids. I moved the surviving seedlings to the garden, and they didn't fruit until recently, but I have lots of chilies now! I'm freezing them for future use the way my internet friend Jilly taught me.

Things that did not go well in my garden

1. Zucchini. I thought zucchini were supposed to be the prime example of vegetables that out-produce the grower's needs. The plants have grown and bloomed, but so far I have had zero proper zucchini. My friends, the Tomato family, report similar results. Perhaps they're just not meant to be grown in Japan.

2. Cilantro. I bought something like a total of six cilantro seedlings. Two reached maturity and gave me an abundance of cilantro for about four weeks, and then went to seed. So now, I have jalapenos and tomatos but no cilantro. How is someone supposed to make salsa?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's bad for you!

Karada ni warui!

When I got back from Hokkaido, I got, as expected, a rather lukewarm welcome from the Pumpkin Princess. At least she had a pleasant stay with her granny.

Today's phrase is in honor of the poor Chinese babies who drank milk tainted with melamine and developed kidney stones, but whose government hadn't done much to prevent it.

It is also in honor of the current tainted rice scandal in Japan. The sale of rice is regulated by the government. Most of the rice sold as food is domestic, but we've succumbed to foreign pressure and started importing a while back. Which, is in itself, not a bad thing. The down side is that when rice is imported, you don't know the quality of the rice (rice production is heavily regulated in Japan, which makes for high prices but at least if you buy domestic, you have a pretty good idea of what you are getting). Sometimes it comes with a higher than acceptable level of pesticide. This rice gets labeled unfit for human consumption, and is used for things like adhesive. Sounds good, right?

Well, it is. If it worked the way it was supposed to. As it turned out, one company was buying rice for industrial use (i.e. cheaper than the market price for rice intended for human consumption) and selling it to food manufacturers to make things like rice snacks. They were buying rice with a high concentration of methamidophos (pesticide not used in Japan but still sometimes used in China), letting it sit in their warehouses until it got moldy and, more importantly, the concentration of methamidophos went down to acceptable levels, and then sold it to snack manufacturers. They've released a list of companies that have bought tainted rice, and I would not be the least bit surprised if the Pumpkin Family had eaten toxic rice snacks once or twice. It's also made its way into school lunches and convenience store onigiri.

One more good reason to base your diet mostly on whole foods...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Go home quickly!

Hayaku kaette!

When post WWII Japan was occupied by Allied (read: mostly American) forces, the occupying government was known as the GHQ (General Headquarters). After a couple of years of being occupied, the then Prime Minister of Japan quipped "GHQ stands for Go Home Quickly!"

I'm posting this from Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. I'm here for a work conference. I left the Pumpkin Princess with her granny. I'd kind of figured that she would be just fine with her beloved Granny, but I didn't realize just how.

My flight dictated that I would have to leave very early the next day, so the night before, I took the Pumpkin Princess to her Granny's. Shortly after arrival, she announced, "(Pumpkin Princess) is going to go to bed at Granny's house, so go home now!" and she put the strap of my purse around my neck.

So I did.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Are you going to have another baby?

Tsugi no okosan ha?

I get asked this once every so often, and when I do, I tell the truth, which is that I would like for the Pumpkin Princess to have a brother or a sister soon. Like many only children under the age of four, she seems to believe the world revolves around her, and I think she needs a reality check :) Plus, I'll be 37 this year, and everyone knows fertility goes downhill with age. Not to mention the older you are, the more likely you are to have a difficult pregnancy. This is objective medical data, not some kind of conspiracy by old men trying to keep young women barefoot and pregnant. Not that barefoot and pregnant are bad things to be, of course, as long as you also have the chance, should you want it, to wear pretty shoes and have a professional track career.

Still, I find it amusing and annoying that people ask me this question, particularly if they are not close friends or immediate family. First of all, my plans for my family are none of their business. Unless, of course, you happen to be my mother, and know for a fact you will be seriously involved in caring for any children of mine :) But mostly, it squicks me out because, well, you know how babies are made? So when you ask me if I'm planning another child, you are asking me, albeit indirectly, what I, um, do with my husband when we are together. Which, um, seriously? None of your f-ing business.


Friday, September 5, 2008

You've become so pretty!

Zuibun kirei ni natta ne!

I got a Facebook account for the sole purpose of keeping in touch with my oldest friend, the Peapod (soon to be the Pea Mommy. Why have I chosen to dub her the Peapod? Well, she has been my friend since 6th grade, and is my first real friend, so she is my oldest friend. Peas are the world's oldest vegetable, so my oldest friend who is currently pregnant with her first child, is the Peapod, OK?). That place is dangerous. I entered the high school I attended when I lived in the US, because I figured people from the high school where I graduated (Pumpkin Girls' High School in Pumpkin City, Japan) would probably not have Facebook accounts. I got a bunch of tiny little pictures linked to profiles I could not access, but I did recognize quite a few familiar faces. I ended up spending a couple hours I didn't have on that site.

One picture was of a beautiful sari clad Indian woman. I recognized her as a girl I'd gone to elementary, junior high and high school with. Her mother spoke limited English and was not familiar with the mannerisms and customs of the US (not unlike my own mother). She dressed plainly and wasn't really part of the "in crowd" (and, as you will probably guess, neither was I), so it made me happy that she looked so happy and beautiful in her Facebook picture.

(btw, I'm on as "Ayako Maidenname-Currentlastname" but I haven't put up any pictures or interesting information yet, so it's not worth checking me out. If you have a lot of time on your hands and you don't know my family names, ask me.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I am so lame.

Watashi tte dame jan.

But in all honesty, when I saw "we interrupt this program to give you this special report" on TV, my first thought was "They'd better not cancel tonight's SMAPxSMAP because the Olympic Gold Medal Softball Team are supposed to be the guests for Bistro SMAP!"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Why now?

Naze ima?

Prime Minister Fukuda just resigned.

When a doctor thinks you are developing senile dementia, he will ask you a series of questions which include simple addition problems, naming random vegetables, and the current President of the USA. This won't work in Japan, because PMs come and go faster than fashion trends and the doctor himself might quite possibly not be sure of the correct answer.

The Americans lament that they have had continuous one party rule, but Bill Clinton was in office only eight years ago. Japan is where they have regular elections but continuous one party rule for decades on end.

One thing about continuous one party rule is that you know exactly which political party is responsible for what is going on in your country. The crumbling medical system and social security system, the ruinous public school system, the disastrous level of debt, the increasing gap between the haves and have nots, you know that what the Liberal Democratic Party (which, as we all know, is neither very liberal nor very democratic) did or did not do caused it or at least did not stop it from happening.

Quite honestly, I don't think anyone has a straightforward answer on how to make this country a better place to live. But isn't it kind of irresponsible to cop out before your term runs out and create yet another former PM who gets a former PM pension.