Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Please look out for us this year as well.

Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegai shimasu

The Pumpkin Daddy is big on holidays and traditions. One of his traditions that I don't like is that we must houseclean at the end of the year. It's a tradition like spring/ fall housecleaning, only it's done at the busiest and coldest time of year, and it just doesn't make sense to me, but it doesn't seem quite right for me to be checking blogs working on the computer while he scrubs dust and mold, so I usually help him or clean somewhere else. Today, I scrubbed the kitchen fan grates and the counters. Since I don't do much frying at home, the grease and dust coating the grates weren't too bad. I managed to get the worst of the mess off, and decided that it didn't have to be absolutely perfect. The kitchen counters look whiter than they've looked in ages. I'm glad I went through with it. The Pumpkin Daddy did a few windows with the Pumpkin Princess, and cleaned the ventilation fans in the 1st floor toilet and the bathroom (note to my American friends: it's a Japanese house, so the toilet and the bathtub are in different rooms).

Another one of his traditions that I don't like is his insistence that New Year's Day must be spent well saturated in alcohol. He's bought a special bottle of sake (rice wine) for the occasion (he hardly ever drinks sake the rest of the year) in addition to his usual beer, and expects certain munchies hors d'ouvres to be prepared by yours truly. I guess if you spent $50+ on a bottle of alcohol, you'd want good food to go with it. If it were just the alcohol, I would grit my teeth and pretend I were a single parent for just one day, but I have to fix food. He doesn't ask much of me the rest of the year, so I guess I will humor him one day out of 356.

Well, the date has changed here. Since I don't think any of you are traditional Japanese, Happy New Year (I am not supposed to say that to you if you are Japanese, because we're in mourning since my grandmother died a while back).

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's almost over.

Mousugu owari.

The year is almost over. I finished my last day of work a few hours ago. There was a party afterward, but I knew that someone I didn't really like (and it's mutual) was going to be there, plus I'm not all that into workplace holiday parties, so I bailed. I gave the kids running the show advance notice that I was going to bail, but not the reason why, so I shouldn't be too badly off. I'm kind of surprised today was the last day of work. I'd thought that perhaps we'd have to go in on Monday at least. Not that I'm complaining, of course.

The other day, the local radio station was doing a segment about top 10 news stories for Pumpkin Prefecture residents in 2008. No. 1 was gasoline prices going haywire, which is understandable considering the lack of local public transportation and our dependence on our cars. The Lehman Brothers bankruptcy was no. 4.

So what would be the top 10 news stories for Pumpkin Palace residents in 2008? I can't think of 10, so I'll be a cop-out and do something like 5.

1. Anticipated arrival of the Pumpkin Prince. Not due until late March of 2009, he's already giving his older sister insecurity issues.

2. Non-arrival of new Pumpkin in October. I miscarried in late March. It's fair to say that I'm "over" it, and the other day I caught myself making jokes about what I overheard while being prepped for my D&C. Another doctor was telling another patient that her husband's sperm count was pathologically low. Yes, it's crude of me to joke about it, but I'm doing it well out of earshot of the patient in question.

3. Semi-successful first year of gardening. I got a lot of cooking tomatos and jalapeno, and the Pumpkin Daddy got a lot of pretty tulips and sunflowers. I got some but not nearly enough cilantro. I feel like such a loser because I didn't get much zucchini. I mean, it's zucchini (unless, of course, you're from the other side of the Atlantic, in which case it's courgettes). You're supposed to have it coming out of your ears by the end of summer. I think it's the lack of natural pollinators in my garden. I probably should have been getting up every morning to pollinate. Emphasis on the word "should".

4. Death of my paternal grandmother. I no longer have any living grandparents. Second consecutive year of "mourning" in which we don't send or receive New Year's cards or wish anyone Happy New Year. Unless, of course, you're not Japanese, and I will wish you Happy New Year.

5. Lehman Brothers bankruptcy induced economic downturn means decreased production at Pumpkin Daddy workplace, which means he comes home earlier than he used to. It's kind of cool coming home to a clean house with the dishes washed and the laundry all put away. Yes, it's a loss of income, but we were never that badly off to begin with, and it just means that we might not be going on a tropical holiday next year. There will still be enough food on the table and the Pumpkin Daddy will still have his premium beer. I compared notes with my co-workers with husbands who work in manufacturing, and they all said that their husbands were coming home early for the same reason.

What are the "top 10 (or 5 or 3) headlines for 2008" for your family?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa brought me a bicycle.

Santa-san ha jitensha wo motte kita.

We went with the "Santa is busy so he gives some presents early" plan, and the Pumpkin Princess found a Winnie the Pooh bicycle in front of the Christmas tree this morning. She and the Pumpkin Daddy took it for a spin after breakfast. We found out it was a little on the big side, but she will grow into it eventually, and she enjoyed sitting on it an being pushed.

I am pleased with myself because I got all my holiday cards out a week before Christmas this year. If the post offices on both sides of the ocean behave the way they should, the cards should arrive by the 25th. If you thought you should get a card but don't, drop me a line.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't call mommy a dummy.

Okaasan wo obaka to itte ha ikemasen.

We're having delayed onset terrible twos, or some kind of insecurity issue thing triggered by new baby brother anticipation. The Pumpkin Princess has become terribly impatient when things don't go her way. The other day, she was halfway through dinner and she demanded to have leftover cake while her plate still held a good amount of carrots, fish and other nourishing things slightly less attractive than the Pumpkin Granny's chiffon cake decorated with pink and green gumdrops on homemade icing. I told her no, she could have cake if she ate all her carrots and a little more fish. She responded with "No! I want cake! Hurry! Dummy!"

The Pumpkin Daddy said, "you must not call Mommy 'dummy.'"

So I'm thinking, yay, cool, united parental disciplinary front, but the Pumpkin Daddy continued, "Mommy is the highest educated person in this family. If you want to call Mommy dummy, get your PhD, and then maybe you can call her dummy."

Um, I don't think that's the point here...

Friday, December 12, 2008

"What should I do?"

"Dou shiyou?"

The Pumpkin Princess was a good girl this year. Except for the occasional episodes of crankiness when she is tired. And that one time she put stickers all over the closet floor in the master bedroom. And when she was "helping" me make pancakes and got more flour on the counter than in the bowl. And the time she pulled out the contents of an entire box of Kleenex, one by one. And...well, never mind. I have it on good authority that Santa is bringing her a Winnie the Pooh bicycle.

The problem is when Santa will be here. If I play by the general rules, she finds it in front of the Christmas tree on the morning of the 25th. However, the 25th is a Thursday and is not a holiday in Japan. The Pumpkin Mommy and Daddy will go to work, and the Pumpkin Princess will go to day care. Thing is, will a 3 year-old girl who has just found a new bicycle in her living room leave for day care without taking it for a spin?

Or, I could decide not to play by the rules and make arrangements for Santa to come on the 23rd. It's the Emperor's Birthday, and a national holiday in Japan. She'll wake up, come downstairs, find the bicycle, and have the whole day to ride it as much as she likes.

So I took an informal survey among the mommies and daddies at work. Two out of three said that Santa came on the 25th, and one said that Santa came on the nearest appropriate weekend or holiday. The two who voted for the 25th had older kids who knew what day Christmas was and where Santa hid presents to lighten the load for the reindeer on Christmas Eve.

What would you do if you were in my shoes? The 23rd or the 25th?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

But it's actually a rabbit.

Demo hontou ha usagi.

We went to Toys R Us to pick out the Pumpkin Princess's birthday present. Unfortunately, we made the beginners' mistake of bringing her along. The Pumpkin Daddy asked her what she wanted, and she picked this battery powered plastic monstrosity of commercialism.

It's a magic wand-esque object that figures in a weekend morning cartoon called Yes! PreCure 5 Go-Go. The storyline follows the traditions of Sailor Moon and Rayearth, in which multiple female characters team up to fight evil. When you press the top and spin the wheel, you get an electronic tinkly sound and a voice that says "I have the Power". OK, I'm paraphrasing, but not much.

Now, you would think that something the Pumpkin Princess picks out so enthusiastically would be something carried by the main character, but this wand is owned by a somewhat haughty purple haired girl who uses it to create a blizzard of metallic rose petals. The Purple Haired Girl is actually a rabbit-like creature that has somehow acquired the power to not only assume a human form, but also transform into a superhero. I think I have a headache...

The Pumpkin Princess doesn't actually watch this show, and I don't think she understands about the rabbit. She probably picked it because it was pretty and sparkly. She spent the good part of an hour using it for fighting evil this evening. Evil was in the form of the Pumpkin Daddy, who was under explicit instructions by the Pumpkin Princess to "kidnap" her favorite stuffed baby lion, and to fall down with a grunt and release the lion when the wand was waved.

Oh, the things we do for love...

I turned into a princess.

Ohimesama ni natta!

Today we went to a kids' photography studio. The Pumpkin Princess was dressed first in a red kimono and then in a white dress, and the photographer took pictures of her with various props (old fashioned bouncing ball and plastic maple leaves for the kimono, and a sparkly magic wand for the dress). She had hair and makeup done and everything. I was really impressed with the photographer, who used various stuffed toys and props to get the Pumpkin Princess in the mood, and we got quite a few nice pictures. I was hoping to be able to use them as Christmas photos, but they won't be done until the 20th, so I guess that's not happening.

If I know you are not a convicted child molester, I promise to let you see the pictures when I get them. If you can't prove to me that you're not a convicted child molester, you're out of luck :P

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"I touched the pan."

Onabe sawatta.

The Pumpkin Princess burned her hand on Saturday. She touched the frying pan while I was making pancakes. I quickly dragged her to the bathroom sink (after turning off the heat under the frying pan, of course) and ran cold water over the hand for as long as she would let me, which was about three minutes (I was working for ten, but I knew that was wishful thinking). The damage was done on the back side of her index, middle, and ring fingers. She's pleased with herself because she's got Winnie the Pooh band aids on them.