Wednesday, December 16, 2009

There's only one thing you can do.

Dekiru koto ha hitotsu shika nai.

Picture a group of 30 or so boys, five or six years old, on the stage of the local civic hall. The hall is packed, with parents elbowing each other for prime video recording positions. The boys are wearing white shirts, black pants, and black neckties. They are also wearing sequined gloves on only one hand, and black fedoras on which fake jheri curls have been attached. They dance enthusiastically and skillfully to a medley of Michael Jackson music.

There is a time for everything. There is a time for pondering and discussing the irony in 30 adorable 5 and 6 year olds dancing to "Billie Jean" and "Human Nature" and "PYT." There is a time for pondering and discussing what Michael Jackson would have felt if he saw the adorable boys shaking their arms to "Thriller". There is a time to remember when you pinned the photo cards of beautiful children your internet friends had sent you on your bulletin board, and called it your Michael Jackson collection.

However, this would not be the time.

The only thing you can do when faced with a stageful of day care pumpkins trying to Moonwalk is cheer and applaud wildly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One after another

Tsugi kara tsugi he

This time, when my 20something co-worker came into work with her pink and blue patterned hose, I recognized them as such, and felt all up-to-date and informed.

My job for the morning was to teach a group of four university undergrads. One of them stumbled on an answer when I was quizzing him. The correct answer was "ADC" but he stammered ", C..."

I couldn't resist. "No, not AC/ DC. In this particular instance, Heavy Metal would be a bad idea."

I got four blank looks.

"Have any of you heard of AC/ DC? The band?"

Again, four blank looks.

"Do any of you know what Heavy Metal music is?"

Yet another quartet of blank looks.

That's it, I'm going to wear granny shoes to work every day from now on.

That or feathered bangs, 80's style.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't jump off!

Tobioricha dame!

The Pumpkin Princess went back to day care Friday. The rule is that a child with H1N1 must stay at home for at least five days and have a "proof of recovery" signed by his or her pediatrician. Since the Pumpkin Princess was fever free by day 2, we went to the doctor on the morning of the fifth day and asked for (and got) the necessary paperwork signed.

No one else caught it from the Pumpkin Princess. The hand washing paid off or the virus was a watered down version or a combination of both.

I understand that Japan is unusual in that we get Tamiflu so easily. And yes, I wonder if it is really necessary for basically healthy kids like the Pumpkin Princess. Giving the Pumpkin Princess Tamiflu was an interesting experience. It was the first time anyone in our immediate family had taken it. The pharmacist told us it was bitter when mixed with vanilla ice cream or yogurt, and suggested mixing it in chocolate ice cream or cocoa. The first day, while her fever was still quite high, she cried that it was bitter and didn't want to take it (even in chocolate ice cream). After some convincing (and threatening), we did manage to get her to take it, and went to bed. The next day, she was much better physically. However, she was even more prone to temper tantrums than usual, and when she was not throwing temper tantrums, she was constantly giggling and climbing on and jumping off the furniture. If she were a little older and if this strange hyperactivity were a little more severe, I can easily see her jumping off the balcony, like the teenage boy who took Tamiflu for his flu and died when he jumped off the balcony of his high rise apartment.

My friend's daughter who did the whole H1N1-Tamiflu thing 2 weeks ago was also jumping off the furniture once her fever went down and she was feeling better. My other friend's son couldn't take or keep down the Tamiflu because it was too bitter. His fever lasted for a couple of days, but he never had a "can we peel him off the ceiling" thing going, and now he's just fine. So I don't really know if the Tamiflu helps or hinders. I expect the authorities on the subject will put out a report of some kind at the end of the season. It'll be interesting to see what they say.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For this, three wins, one loss (for now)

Kocchi ha (ima no tokoro) san shou ippai

H1N1 (aka swine flu) has struck the Pumpkin Clan, but so far, only the Pumpkin Princess has it, and even she is jumping around and asking for ice cream without the benefit of acetoaminophen (Tylenol to my American friends).

Sunday was pretty wild, though, since we headed to the Sunday duty clinic (in Pumpkin City, the city Physicians' Association designates a "duty clinic" where you go on Sundays. Clinics which belong to the association (OK, pretty much every single clinic in town) will see patients that Sunday. There are a couple internal medicine duty clinics, a GYN clinic, an ophthalmology clinic, an ENT clinic, and a pediatrics clinic designated as duty clinics each Sunday and National Holiday. For really serious stuff, you go to the Emergency Department (Ambulance Clinic to my Brit friends...I think) of a good-sized hospital, but some of the bigger hospitals (like the Red Cross Hospital and University Hospital) will fine you if you go in after hours for something mild like a splinter or a cold and tell you to go to the duty clinic next time if you don't like the fine, which is something like 7000 yen, or $80 depending on the exchange rate).

So Sunday morning, a whiny Pumpkin Princes crawled into the Pumpkin Mommy and Daddy's bed, and Daddy said to Mommy, "she's hot!" Mommy went downstairs to get the thermometer and confirmed that she did indeed have a fever. She took the Princess to the Duty Clinic (which was, fortunately, only a 5 minute drive from the Pumpkin Palace) and was told there was an hour wait, so as soon as the receptionist took copies of the health insurance card and the Pumpkin City medical care card, they went home and had a snack of Pretz and milk.

The tired looking pediatrician, who was a woman slightly younger than the Pumpkin Granny, took a nasal secretion sample (and gave the Pumpkin Princess a mild nosebleed in the process) and declared her positive for type A influenza, which, this early in the season, translates into "I'm pretty sure it's swine flu". She wrote a prescription for Tamiflu and Tylenol. We were told to wait in the car, and the pharmacist from the pharmacy conveniently (heh) located right next to the clinic brought the medications to us, we paid our 50 yen (for the container, the meds are paid for by health insurance and Pumpkin City because she's a child). We drove home, took the first of the Tamiflu and Tylenol, and the Pumpkin Princess went to bed.

Later that day, an unhappy Pumpkin Prince was discovered to have a temp of 38 degrees (100 or thereabouts). Pumpkin Mommy called the clinic and asked what the wait time was and was told it was an hour and a half. So she went alone, got checked in, went back home, waited around for about an hour, and went back with the Pumpkin Prince. The only problem was, the Pumpkin Prince was energetic and happy and smiling at all the harried looking parents in the waiting area who had brought their feverish kids too weak to move. We waited for about an hour (in addition to the time spent at home) to be told by the same pediatrician, who looked even more tired than she did that morning (I think she must have seen no fewer than 200 kids that day) that he looked way to happy to have influenza, took a nasal secretion sample at my asking, and declared him negative for type A flu.

I think we should have told the receptionist we were going home when he started smiling and making happy gurgling sounds at the sick looking 7 year-old girl who was carried in to the exam room by her dad.

Anyway...Monday, I took the day off work and took the Pumpkin Princess to her usual pediatrician. By then, she was fever free and chowing down custard pudding and strawberry ice cream like no one's business. However, the city day care system requires that once you are diagnosed with influenza A, you can't come to day care until you are fever free and have finished the required 5 day regimen of Tamiflu.

Tuesday morning, the Pumpkin Daddy announced he felt feverish and a bit achey, but so far hasn't been able to break the 37.5 degree mark (99 or thereabouts). The Pumpkin Prince measured in at 37.5, so we kept him home, and I stayed home as well (and cancelled a Wednesday work meeting just in case) but has been smiling and gurgling and crawling after the Pumpkin Princess (who is jumping off the sofa as she watches Cinderella II on DVD). I feel fine except for a runny nose I've had since early last week.

So swine flu vs. Pumpkin Palace is 1 to 3 so far. Here's to hoping it stays that way.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1 win, 3 losses

Issho sanpai

Annie Cat (The Pea Mommy) sent me a card in which she had written the following:

I hope you have a wonderful birthday, with well-behaved children, an attentive husband, stressfree workday, and good food!

Let me see...

The Pumpkin Princess whined that she wanted to wear a short skirt to day care without leggings in late autumn temps, and threw a temper tantrum when told no. (The Prince was difficult too, but at not quite eight months, I don't hold him responsible for his behavior yet).

The Pumpkin Daddy presented me with a single red rose, even though he'd already bought me a very pretty handbag 2 weeks ago as my birthday present.

I was assigned to represent the department in a meeting where an outside organization comes to dress down the entire workplace, one department at a time.

Dinner was frozen chicken cutlets, leftover steamed nappa cabbage, miso soup with tofu and scallions, and rice.

So it was one win and three losses. (OK, dinner wasn't exactly a loss, the chicken was pretty good and I'll probably buy it again, and the miso soup and rice turned out just fine just like they usually do).

Where I would be without the Pumpkin Daddy, I do not know.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I can't keep up.

Tsuite ikemasen.

So the other day, I was working with my brilliant, cute, sweet, 20 something co-worker and noticed she had a red mark on her lovely youthful leg.

Then, I noticed a blue mark on her other lovely youthful leg.

Then, I realized there were a lot of red and blue marks, too many to count, on both her legs.

I took a breath as to ask her which of the two Karate black belts in our department I should send after the person who did this to her, but I noticed that the marks had awfully clear margins to be bruises.

Then, I noticed they were little hearts.

She was wearing patterned hose.

I really feel old sometimes.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

As previously mentioned, I have a love-hate relationship with shoes. I'll decide I want to be comfortable and practical and buy Sensible Shoes. I will be happy for a couple of weeks, then I will say to myself in my line of work, I should make an effort to look professional and fashionable and buy heels. (Actually, this fashion flip-flopping is not limited to shoes, but since i don't think my body has decided what it wants to do after giving birth for the second time, i am limiting my clothes shopping to Uniqlo OnLine and nursing attire.)

Last month, I bought a pair of dark gold heels with black fur elastic straps.


They are surprisingly comfortable,but they tend to slip on tile, even though I have stuck adhesive rubber treads on the soles. 

So after buying fashionable shoes, the pendelum swings in the direction of comfort and practicality. Except this time, the purchase is comfortable but not exactly practical. 


 They are Crocs Nadias, which are Crocs pretending to be Uggs. The fuzzy synthetic shearling is difficult to keep clean, and they are only suited for the coldest days Pumpkin City has to offer. Plus, their plump cuteness makes my already short and fat legs look even more so (o.k. So that is more a fashion issue than a practicality issue).

One of these days, I'll find a happy balance. In the meantime, I am waiting for it to get cold enough to wear my Nadias.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Protein degeneration

Tanpaku hensei

Tender, juicy hamburger calls for meat juices. Said juices must 1) exist 2) remain in the hamburger.

When you mix hamburger, you are breaking apart the muscle fibers in the meat and bringing out the juices. It is easier to break apart the fibers and bring out juices (myosin to us ubergeeks) if you are not trying to break apart onion or bread crumbs simultaneously.

Add bread crumbs or oatmeal, but only a small amount of milk, because you want the bread crumbs to absorb the juices and help keep them in the patty.

When cooking, do not turn more than once or twice. Turning over and over will cause the juices to work their way out of the patty. Brown each side on high heat, and then cook over low heat. The browned meat will act as a shell to seal in the juices.

I understand that in the USA and Europe, hamburger meat is entirely beef, and the fat content is influenced by the cut of beef used. In Japan, most ground meat is a 50/50 mix of beef and pork. (You can also get ground pork and ground chicken, and yes, ground beef, but most of the time what you will find in grocery stores doesn't contain enough fat to make a very good hamburger.)

I took yesterday and today off to get stuff done around the house and go shopping. To focus on my accomplishments:

1) I figured out what size coat I want to get this year from Uniqlo. I'm thinking a very youthful pale pink or a practical but trendy glossy beige would be nice this year, both which are only available online, but I wanted to be sure of the size.

2) I bought supplies to sew the Pumpkin Princess a makeshift tutu. She's into princesses and twirly skirts, but it's a bit cold to let her wear stuff like that to day care these days. I thought if I could make some kind of lightweight skirt, she would wear it over her pants or leggings. I made a short, fat, tube of fabric, hemmed one side, rolled down the other to make an elastic waist, and stiched on a layer of tulle. I expect the Pumpkin Granny will stitch on the second layer of tulle and thread elastic through the waist sometime within the next week, which would be nice. I promise pictures if this happens.

3) I made buri daikon, a lovely dish of root crops and fish last night.

4) I made cream of carrot soup and hamburger steaks tonight.

So that's some stuff done, but not as much as I would have liked. Which I kind of expected to happen. Oh well.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Today's cooking

Kyou no ryouri


Pizza! The tomatoes are from our garden. The crust is made from a mix, and the pesto is from our grocery delivery service.


An entirely unrelated photo, which shows you that the Pumpkin Prince can now sit. He can also crawl. This evening, I cleared off the bottom shelf in the dining area, because he managed to grab the Pumpkin Princess's box of crayons.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Skimming off


or, how to make good curry, caramelized onions, and an ice cube tray's worth of chicken stock in a single session.

Caramelize 3 thinly sliced onions.

Spoon about half into ziplock bag and freeze.

Add carrots and chicken, and sautee until chicken is slightly browned on the surface. Add chopped potatos. Add water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until potatos are cooked throughly.

Skim off about 1 cup worth of the resulting soup and pour into an ice cube tray to freeze. Add House Vermont Mild Curry.

Enjoy curry. Break off frozen pieces of caramelized onion when needed for soups and such. Use soup cube when a recipe calls for a very small amount of broth, or pop a soup cube in rice cereal or oatmeal for baby food with added flavor fit for a Pumpkin Prince (or your own favorite baby).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Almost completely idiot-resistant fried rice

Katazuke ga taihen.

(Hard to clean up)

For each serving, you will need one egg and a packet of fried rice mix and/ or finely chopped vegetables, meat, seafood, etc. Meat, seafood and veggies should be cooked. Leftover rice should be warm but not so hot that it will coagulate the egg. The milk carton in the picture is empty and washed clean.

Beat egg in a bowl, and pour into empty milk carton. Add rice, fried rice mix, and whatever else you are adding. If you are not using fried rice mix, you should also add about a teaspoon or so of soy sauce.

Hold the top of the milk carton closed and shake vigorously.

Heat wok, add a tablespoon of oil. Dump contents of milk carton into wok and sautee using a ladle.

Enjoy your perfect, non-clumpy fried rice. Throw away milk carton. Mop up any bits of egg and rice and ham on the kitchen floor, walls and ceiling.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I've fallen in love all over again!


Imagine that, on a Sunday afternoon, you sent your husband shopping with a long grocery list.

Then imagine that, after about half an hour or so, when he's probably on his way home, you remember only then that you don't have enough diapers to last you through the workweek but forgot to put them on the list, and he probably won't answer a cell phone call to ask him to get any because he's probably driving, and you begin to ponder which point in the coming workweek you can most painlessly squeeze in a diaper run.

Then, while you are pondering all this, your husband comes home, with all the groceries you asked for, plus the laundry detergent, drops everything in the kitchen, and says "I have to go back to the car to get the diapers. I remembered noticing we were running low."

Wouldn't you fall in love all over again?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Same as every morning

Itsumo no asa

A typical Pumpkin Mommy weekday morning

6:30 Curse alarm for going off. Glare at Pumpkin Prince who is sleeping like a baby (heh) and wonder why he couldn't do that at 3 a.m.

6:33 Curse alarm for going off again. Wonder how on earth the Pumpkin Princess can end up sleeping with her foot on the pillow and the rest of her tangled up in the bedroom curtains.

6:36 Curse alarm again and figure she ought to get up if she want to stand a chance of getting to work on time.

6:37 Get dressed, wash face, apply moisturizer. Fill Pumpkin Princess's lunchbox with plain white rice (freshly cooked by the rice cooker, which was set the night before to finish cooking at this time). Make coffee. Make toast. Spread strawberry jam on untoasted white bread for Pumpkin Princess, who calls toast "hard bread" and will not eat it. Peel and cut peaches and place in dish.

7:00 Sit down to breakfast with the Pumpkin Princess and Pumpkin Daddy.

7:03 Hear Pumpkin Prince crying in his crib upstairs. Pick him up, bring him downstairs. Change diaper, try to nurse, find out he doesn't really want to, put him down, have him cry long and loud in protest, pick him up, have him stop crying, put him back down, have him start crying again, strap him on back with baby sling, resume eating breakfast.

7:30 Kiss Pumpkin Daddy goodbye as he leaves for work.

7:31 Forge Pumpkin Prince and Princess's temperature on their "health check cards," a new system devised by the Pumpkin Daycare to prove they are doing everything they can to prevent a swine flu epidemic, I mean, 1) as if it is possible to prevent an epidemic of an infectious disease in a place in which a large number of babies and toddlers are kept in close quarters, and many of them have older brothers and sisters in local elementary schools 2) as if taking temps and checking symptoms actually means anything when the latent period for influenza lasts a couple of days. Mark that they both have runny noses and coughs, and wonder if, since, statistically, most children average 5 or 6 colds a year, and since, as daycare pumpkins, they probably catch more colds than the average children, how many days a year they don't have runny noses or coughs.

7:40 Brush teeth. Discover that trying to apply makeup with a baby strapped to your back is 1) difficult 2) painful 3) rather inefficient because you work up a sweat and everything you've applied will run.

7:50 Write in Pumpkin Prince's notebook about when he nursed and slept and whether he had a bath and any other interesting things there are to add.

8:00 Decide there is nothing interesting to add and realize 10 minutes were spent trying to pretend I am clever. Tell the Pumpkin Princess to change out of her pajamas.

8:01 The Pumpkin Princess announces she would like Frosted Flakes without milk. Ponder the estimated time and energy consumption of 1) refusing the cornflakes and persuading her to change clothes and use the toilet and get in the car to go to day care 2) let her have cornflakes in exchange for a speedy change of clothes and toilet and departure, and opt for the latter.

8:02 Let the Pumpkin Prince nurse.

8:10 The Pumpkin Princess finishes cornflakes. Tell Pumpkin Princess to go to the toilet. Princess refuses to go alone. Compare estimated time and energy consumption of compliance and refusal, and opt for the former.

(TMI alert: Stop here if you are eating. Unless, of course, you are the parent of a pre-potty trained child, or can vividly remember being one.)

8:15 The Pumpkin Princess flushes toilet, washes hands (getting water on the floor in the process), gets dressed, and announces she needs to poop, takes off her pants and big girl underwear, finds a pair of pull-ons and pulls them on.

8:16 The Pumpkin Princess begins playing with her favorite toy of the moment.

8:17 The Pumpkin Princess begins playing with her second favorite toy of the moment.

8:19 The Pumpkin Princess begins playing with her third favorite toy of the moment. Ask Pumpkin Princess if she's done pooping yet. Told no.

8:21 Hear the unmistakable sound the adorable bottom on my lap.

8:22 Change diaper on Pumpkin Prince.

8:22:30 Pumpkin Princess announces she is done pooping.

8:23 Finish changing Pumpkin Prince, wash hands, begin changing Pumpkin Princess.

8:25 Finish changing Pumpkin Princess. Wash hands. Notice Pumpkin Princess's rice box is still sitting on kitchen counter. Close, pack in drawstring bag, and place in backpack. Notice that the folder containing the "health check card" in the Princess's backpack has the Prince's name on it and contains the notebook telling when he nursed. Switch folders.

8:28 Grab Pumpkin Prince's bag containing proper folder with health check card and notebook, six disposable diapers, one trash bag, and 2 bibs, along with own work bag. Tell Pumpkin Princess to take her own backpack and put her shoes on. Put on Crocs. Take bags to car, buckle Pumpkin Princess in booster seat.

8:30 Carry Pumpkin Prince to car and buckle in infant seat.

8:31 Activate home security system and lock front door. Get in car. Realize am still wearing Crocs.

8:32 Go back inside, deactivate security system, put on intended shoes, activate security system, lock front door. Get in car. Open garage gate. Leave for day care. Silently praise self for not losing temper once this morning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wednesday's dinner

Suiyoubi no gohan

Spaghetti with a Bolognaise sauce I'd made 2 weeks ago from tomatoes from our garden, and frozen in an enamel container (about 80% of my containers are either Pyrex or enamel. The food can be as greasy and saucy as it likes :). Corn chowder, made from canned corn, bacon I'd cut up and frozen a month ago, onions chopped and cooked until translucent and frozen 3 weeks ago, milk, and a roux cube (again, roux cooked in bulk and frozen in an ice cube tray. I know one ice cube is about 1 tablespoon, so one cube is enough to thicken 2 cups into chowder). Toss everything into pot at once, and whisk with wire whisk (while poking at the pot the spaghetti is boiling in with the other hand :P)

Salad and frittered sweet potatoes compliments of Pumpkin Granny :) but I think it would still be a decent dinner even if the salad weren't as nice (bean sprouts, cucumbers, marinated onions, and celery) and the sweet potatoes weren't there.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's for dinner?

Gohan nani?

Once a week, I am the one to pick up the Pumpkin Prince and Princess from day care. I try to get there by 5:15, which gets me home at 5:45. The Pumpkin Princess will usually want to watch TV, which I let her. The Pumpkin Prince will want to nurse, which I let him. However, he will not let me put him down even when he finishes, so I usually strap him to my back and get to work.

The laundry is usually finishing the final spin cycle when we walk through the door, because I load the washer and set its timer before leaving in the morning. I'll hang it in the spare room to dry. I may or may not fold Monday's laundry. If I don't, the Pumpkin Daddy will take care of it later.

Tonight's dinner is rice, miso soup, a stir fry of mushrooms and komatsuna greens, and mapo harusame.

This morning, I managed to wash out the rice cooker after packing the rice for the Pumpkin Princess's lunch (the Pumpkin Daycare has all the older kids bring their own rice), and the timer on the rice cooker is already set, so I don't have that to worry about. Last week, I was not so organized, and I ended up filling my saucepot with rice and water before walking out the door, and cooking rice on the stove.

Miso soup is pretty painless, since I already have my bonito flakes stuffed in tea bags.

The Pumpkin Daddy gets home, and gets to work folding and putting away yesterday's laundry.

I wash and cut up the komatsuna greens, and measure out the seasonings (soy sauce and mirin).

The Pumpkin Daddy starts giving the Pumpkin Prince and Princess their baths.

I fix the mapo harusame (takes about 5 minutes) and the veggie stir fry.

Dinner is served at 7 pm.

The problem is what to do come October, when we're down 3 people at work (2 on maternity leave, 1 on a fellowship in Boston). I probably won't be able to leave work at five. I'm thinking bath and laundry will happen after dinner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

So close!


(The following post is not to be read while eating, unless you are someone who has purchased or washed diapers within 12 months, or can vividly recall the time when you did.)

The Pumpkin Princess is, at 3 years and 8 months old, this close to being fully potty trained. This past Saturday, we went to Shinjuku, Tokyo, which was a 2 hour trip each way (not counting the walk to our final destination). We put her in pull ups, just in case, but she told us every time she needed to go and had a 100% success rate at getting to the toilet in time. Much to the dismay of the man in line behind us, she even insisted upon using the toilet in the train car which rocked at every single curve. She came home in the same pull ups she left the house in.

I say almost because she can only pee in the toilet. She won't poop. No matter what the threat or bribe, she won't sit on the toilet when she gets such an urge. She'll take off her floral print jersey trousers and her Hello Kitty big girl pants, open the closet door, grab a pair of Mickey Mouse pull ups, put them on, grab hold of a table or chair for support, bear down, and holler "Okaasan! Deta!" ("Mommy! It's out!")

At least she's figured out she needs to be wearing pull ups. When we first started big girl, yeah. Exactly.

The purpose of the Shinjuku trip was to pick out (or rather, finalize our choice of) a new dining table, the one that will seat us when the Pumpkin Prince and Princess bring their kids with them for the holidays. It's a white glass top table with stainless steel legs. It's apparently a special order, so it won't be here until Christmas, if then, but I'm in no hurry. I'd rather wait four months for a table I like well enough to use the rest of my life than make do with something I'll hate in a couple years.

Gotta find chairs I like, though. I'd originally thought of having the white table with brightly colored chairs in different colors like blue and orange and purple, but with the economic recession, the furniture company discontinued all but a few colors, so I'm back where I started. Suggestions welcome, but they have to ship to Japan.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Gotta be fashionable!

Oshare shinakucha!

I have a love/ hate relationship with fashion, especially shoes. I go through phases in which I decide I need to look like the professional I am, go out and buy cute shoes with heels higher than an inch, wear them, decide they are uncomfortable, go buy "sensible" shoes, wear them, decide they don't make me look like the professional I am, go out and buy cute shoes (or, if the cycle is short enough for the previous cute shoes to still be acceptable, dust off and shine old ones), decide they are uncomfortable...

So I decided I needed to look like the professional I am, and bought a pair of beige sandals to wear with my light colored skirts and pants. They were on sale, so I didn't really scrutinize them for comfort. I wore them to work today. I only walked from the parking lot and back, but I got blisters. I think I will go back to being sensible tomorrow.

My current "sensible" shoes aren't too bad as far as sensible shoes go, I think.

They're a lot like these, but with coin-like objects stitched on the strap for decoration, and have velcro closures. I bought them while pregnant with the Pumpkin Prince. They're more comfortable than sneakers (trainers to my Brit friends!) and marginally professional looking. Maybe I'll just go out and buy another pair of these in a different color...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

So it's been one week with two parents working full time. So far, no tempers have been lost in the Pumpkin Palace and everyone is (reasonably) happy and healthy. This has more to do with luck than any meticulous planning or enormous sacrifice on anyone's part (except for the grandparents, that is. They picked up the Pumpkin Prince and Princess from day care every day, and fed and bathed them almost every day).

Monday, I had an outside gig away from the usual workplace. I finished way earlier than usual, so I took the time to make a quick trip home and do laundry, dust, swiff and grab some lunch. I was going to go back to the workplace and finish early, but I found out that one of the bosses had lost his dad and would be gone for the week for funeral arrangements and whatnot, so I had to stick around to help cover for him. The Pumpkin Granny picked the Pumpkin Princess and Prince from day care and took care of them until I finished.

Tuesday, the Pumpkin Daddy made it home by 6:30, and the Prince and Princess had their baths with him. I defrosted a lasagna (made a while back from tomatoes from the garden) and cut up some cucumbers and tomatos and called it a salad.

Wednesday, I was lucky enough to get home by six. I got laundry and dinner (spaghetti with packaged tomato sauce, corn chowder, and salad) started. The Pumpkin Daddy called and said he was on his way home, so I asked him to pick up the Prince and Princess at Granny's so they could have their bath and dinner at home. The Princess had other plans. She refused to come home with Daddy and had dinner with Granny and Grandpa.

Thursday, I was told that Grandpa had been very upset and lost his temper that I hadn't come to pick up the Prince and Princess sooner. The Pumpkin Daddy did the laundry.

Friday, the Pumpkin Daddy had a summer festival at work and didn't come home until very late. The Prince and Princess had already been bathed and fed when I got to the Granny's. I brought them home, did laundry, and put them to bed, and fell asleep in the process. It was 11 p.m. when the Pumpkin Daddy got home and woke me, but I managed to hang the laundry to dry and shower before going to bed proper.

Saturday, the Pumpkin Daddy was hung over and didn't do much other than keep the Pumpkin Princess entertained (which did, I admit, help). I did the laundry, cleaned a bit, made lunch, put the bedding for day care together, cleaned some more, threw together dinner from stuff in the fridge and garden (frozen fish filets, pre-seasoned and breaded, tofu and scallion miso soup, frozen spinach sauteed in butter, and tomatoes), bathed, and put the Pumpkin Princess to bed. Not much, but acceptable level of activity for a family with a 3 year-old and 4 month-old.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

How have you been these days?

Saikin dou?

I just realized that since I posted about fried rice last week, I haven't had a Pumpkin Clan update post in over two weeks. Let's see. Last week, the Pumpkin Daycare had a "natsumatsuri" or "summer carnival" in which the kids danced, P7250704
toted around a portable shrine,P7250706
whacked open and ate watermelon, and played games.

The Pumpkin Princess, (pleased to be wearing a Hello Kitty yukata (cotton summer kimono), got two goldfish, so the Pumpkin Daddy bought a small aquarium, complete with filter and air pump, and spent the afternoon setting it up. He made the mistake of feeding the fish after he finished, and when the Pumpkin Princess woke from her nap and was told the fish had already been fed, she threw a temper tantrum. She was pacified with sparklers.


The next morning (Sunday), the Pumpkin Princess got up before her mommy and daddy. She climbed on a chair in the kitchen to get the box of Cocoa Crispies, poured some of it into a bowl (and some of it on a floor), and had a makeshift breakfast (I should be grateful no milk was involved). Then she dragged the same chair to the aquarium and proceeded to give the goldfish breakfast.

I came downstairs to find a 1/4 inch thick layer of fish food floating on the top of the aquarium water, and screamed (it was a reflex of sorts, I couldn't help it). I managed to scoop most of it out before it sank to the bottom. We spent the workweek wincing at the fact that this was the Pumpkin Daddy's last week of paternity leave. He's done a great job, and I am going to miss coming home to a clean house and happy children.

Friday night, the Pumpkin Princess demanded to sleep at the Pumpkin Granny's. Granny was OK with it, so the Pumpkin Mommy and Daddy got to sleep in. The Pumpkin Granny did not fare as well, since the Pumpkin Princess got up no less than three times during the night, and woke up and got out of bed at 5:30 a.m.

The Pumpkin Parents woke to find a goldfish floating belly up.

After the Princess was brought home (not without much protest), fish funeral services were held and lunch was eaten, we headed out to a "matsuri" in the next city. It was raining. What do you do with the "dashi" (float) when it rains? Apparently, exactly the same you do to a Pumpkin Princess,


which is dress it in a raincoat...

The rain toned itself down just enough to allow the fireworks to happen.

Sunday was spent wincing at the arrival of the workweek and cleaning and playing with Legos and gardening. Someone needs to explain to me how on earth I can acquire nine mosquito bites in 15 minutes.


Another mystery of the Pumpkin Palace grounds: why we get beautiful tomatos every year, but can't seem to harvest a single zucchini (courgettes to my Brit friends). These are cooking tomatoes with thick skin, and made a lovely lasagna. Actually, they made two. One was eaten soon after it came out of the oven. The other will be eaten tomorrow as a workweek dinner.

And that's it for now. We'll see what and when I can post next...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's crumbly.

Para para shiteru.

Idiot-resistant fried rice

I think most of us are used to fried rice recipes that tell us to cook scrambled eggs and then add as many servings of leftover rice as there are people you need to feed. I used to cook fried rice that way too, and it usually turned out mushy. In this case, "usually" means "about 95% of the time.

I've been using a new method for the past six months or so, and my fried rice success rate is now in the mid 70s. Apparently, what I was doing wrong was

1. Cooking the eggs throughly first

2. Starting with cold rice

3. Trying to cook more than one serving at once

4. Using a nonstick frying pan instead of an iron wok.

Now, those of us with Chinese mothers will probably protest, but, remember, I said "idiot resistant". I did not say "authentic."


Garlic soy sauce (peeled cloves of garlic tossed in a glass bottle, fill with enough soy sauce to cover, let sit in fridge for a week. Regular soy is just fine, too), bacon bits (like I said, "idiot resistant", not "authentic"), bowl, eggs (one egg for each cup of rice), and, of course, leftover rice. Not shown: chopped green onions, oil, iron wok, and stainless steel ladle.

Microwave one cup of leftover rice (remember, "idiot resistant", not "authentic"). It should be just as hot as if it were freshly cooked. When that's done, heat whatever else you are going to add to your fried rice, such as diced ham, green onion, canned crab, leftover turkey (I've tried the first three, but I see no reason why the last wouldn't taste good).

In a bowl, beat one egg.



Line up bowl of beaten egg, hot rice, and other ingredients where you can reach them. Tie any children under school age to their chairs. Heat wok until smoking hot. Add oil. Vegetable oil or sesame oil is good. I used bacon grease. Hey, I said "idiot resistant". Never did I say "coronary artery disease resistant."


Add egg. Wait 8 seconds, or just count very slowly to eight.


Most of the egg should still be runny when you add the rice.


Now, use your steel ladle to vigorously mix the egg, oil and rice together. What you want to do is create an emulsion of rice, egg and oil, with each grain of rice coated with a very thin layer of egg. A wok and a ladle will work better than a spatula and a frying pan, because the curved shape of the ladle against the curved shape of the wok lets you smash apart any clumps that might form. You don't want a non-stick pan you're going to be afraid of scratching. Another thing: trying to cook more than one cup of rice at a time will make it harder to smash clumps.


If you're not making a racket, you're probably not doing it right.

After you have an even mixture of rice, egg and oil, add the rest of your ingredients. Cook only long enough to mix evenly. Season with soy sauce, salt and pepper. Dump into a dish. Repeat process as many times as needed.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

I can't get it out of my head.

Atama kara hanarenai.

So the radio stations are still giving Michael Jackson overtime airplay.

I wasn't all that into Michael Jackson when he was at the peak of his popularity. Back then, I was into Billy Joel and Lionel Richie (yes, Nicole's dad).

Billy Joel's song "Just the Way You Are" is about his first wife, whom he later divorced. Apparently his band's drummer invented alternative lyrics to the part that goes "I love you just the way you aaaaare!" which were "she took the house, the dog, the caaaaar!"

So now, I can't get that tune, and those alternative lyrics out of my head, and I've been singing "she took the house, the dog, the car" to myself at work and at home. I'm wondering how many people think I'm singing "Just the Way You Are" and how many people at work even know who Billy Joel is. Remember, one of the youngsters didn't understand why everyone was making a fuss about Michael Jackson's death.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Write your wish on this strip.

Negaigoto wo tanzaku ni kaite.

July 7th is Tanabata. Legend has it that two lovers enjoyed each others' company so much that they never worked. The angry gods separated them with a wide river. Once a year, a flock of birds form a bridge so they may cross the river to see each other, but being a bridge of birds, it can only be crossed when skies are clear. The river is the Milky Way, and the lovers are Vega and Altair. If you write your wish on a strip of paper and hang it on bamboo, and the skies are clear, your wish will come true.

So this is what the Pumpkin Princess wrote on her strip of paper.


For the non-Japanese literate, she wants to be Cure Peach, the previously mentioned girl superhero.

I should probably mention that half the girls in her class wanted to be Pretty Cure. And that the Pumpkin Princess apparently got into an argument with a girl in her class over who would be Cure Peach.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Slightly better

Sukoshi ha mashi.

We celebrated Fathers' Day a week late with sushi.


The Pumpkin Daddy is really getting into the paternity leave thing. Last week, he took the Pumpkin Princess to the neighborhood park and did some spontaneous community service, picking up trash.


The boy in the yellow shirt lives a couple houses down the street from us. He was practicing soccer lifts but decided he wanted to be a good citizen too.

Yesterday, I got my rear outside and weeded the garden for 10 minutes. For my trouble, I got six mosquito bites and the garden looks like a garden that hasn't been weeded in a while. This is a slight improvement from before, when it looked like a greener version of the set for Little House on the Prairie.

I found a tomato starting to turn red.


Lovely sunflower that no one remembers planting. Probably sprouted from a seed that fell from one of last years'.


Rather dissociated in content, but at least I no longer have Michael Jackson on top of my page.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"There is a distance between us."

Watashitachi no aida ni ha kyori ga arimasu.

Were you shocked? I sure was. Most of the fuss about him in the past decade or so was unfortunately not about his music, but you have to admit, sexual tastes aside, his music and dancing were pretty amazing.

So this conversation went on in the workplace today.

O: I still can't believe he's dead.

Me: Me neither. I remember when there was always someone in the hall trying to moonwalk.

S: Me too. I had a Thriller folder.

O: I had Thriller stuff, too. I loved that song, and the video. Even if he was kind of messed up these past few years.

S: Do you mean about the monkey he had?

O: Actually, I meant the whole pedeophilia mess, but yes, he had a monkey. What was his name?

Me: Bubbles the chimpanzee.

S: Yes, Bubbles. I remember when he came to the zoo in Pumpkin Prefecture with Bubbles, and one of my friends cut class to get a glimpse of him.

M: (youngest person in the room, at age 26 or so) You know, It's been all over the news since early morning, and I don't really understand what the fuss is about.

(O, S and Pumpkin Mommy suddenly feel very very old)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's cold!

Tsumetai ne!

(this is for cold water, cold temps would be "samui ne!")

I mentioned my cousin passed away a while ago (around when I just started to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans). In Japan, after cremation, you keep the ashes in the family home for a while before sealing them in the family grave. Last weekend, my cousin's ashes were sealed.

The cemetery was a 2 1/2 hour drive away, which isn't in itself that big a deal, except the sky saw fit to pour buckets that morning. My mom had bought the Pumpkin Princess and her cousin new plastic raincoats and rain boots "just in case."

I should probably mention again how much the Pumpkin Granny rocks.


The Pumpkin Princess stood for a half hour in the pouring rain while the Buddhist priest chanted and my cousin's ashes were sealed. We were all impressed at how well behaved she and her cousin were (for a three-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy, anyway), and I let her know this.

"It was fun! We were drinking water."


"There was water on our raincoats, and we licked it. It was cold and it tasted good!"

Apparently, while the priest was going on about how life sucks and we need to accept life sucks (basic Buddhist doctrine), the Pumpkin Princess and her cousin had been licking each others' plastic hoods.

At least they hadn't been tasting puddles, which was what their second cousin appeared to be doing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

May I do the puzzle?

Pazuru shite mo ii?

This is the Pumpkin Princess's favorite pastime of the moment. It's a 65 piece jigsaw puzzle. I'm impressed that she's learned to put this together by herself. The picture of her favorite anime of the moment is good motivation. She's developing her hand-eye coordination and concentration.

I just wish she wouldn't start taking it apart at 8:15 on a weekday morning.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Return of the Pumpkin Mommy

Kaette kita kabocha kaasan

So it's been two weeks of wearing makeup and stockings every weekday. Work has gone all right, and there were even some dull stretches. I'm at the point in my career where my work mostly involves checking if other people have done their work properly, so when there's nothing to check, I can lock myself in a spare room to make the Pumpkin Prince's lunch.

The typical day consists of my leaving in the morning with the Pumpkin Princess and dropping her off at day care, leaving the Pumpkin Prince at home with his daddy. At around three in the afternoon, the Pumpkin Daddy drops the Pumpkin Prince off at the Pumpkin Granny's, and goes to pick up the Pumpkin Princess. He brings her home, keeps her entertained, and gives her her bath. Then they walk to the Pumpkin Granny's. I meet them there when I finish work, and we all have dinner there. Then we come home, I put the Pumpkin Princess to bed (usually falling asleep in the process), I take a bath, and we go to bed. The Pumpkin Prince still wakes up a couple times a night. The Pumpkin Daddy has many fine qualities which I admire, but the ability to get up at appropriate times is not one of them, plus, I'm trying to breast feed as much as possible anyway. This means I'm constantly sleep deprived, but that's just the way it is.

In between, the Pumpkin Day Care went to a dude ranch. This being a weekend, it involved my having to fix a box lunch (bento).

Thank goodness for the frozen food section...

The Pumpkin Princess got her first pony ride. She was pleased she got to ride "the Philipe colored horse" (Belle's father's horse in Disney's Beauty and the Beast).

The mask on the ranch staff is an anti-swine flu measure. At least, it's supposed to be an anti-swine flu measure. It was a gauze mask, and I'm not sure how effective those are for flu prevention.

The Pumpkin Prince is growing and growing. I'm trying to remember if the Pumpkin Princess grew this fast, and I don't really think so.

That's it for now. Time for bed, until the Pumpkin Prince wakes up, anyway.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"Why do I have to be the one to do this?"

Nande watashi ga yaranakya ikenai no?

We're trying to teach the Pumpkin Princess to pick up after herself. Today, I told her she couldn't blow soap bubbles in the bathroom until she put her Legos away. She did, but not without saying the above.

Thank you to the mommies that wrote comments about their bottles and laundry. I think there is surely a special place in Heaven for mommies who sterilize 14 bottles a day for several months. I'm not sure how much danger a breast fed baby drinking things out of a bottle washed in soap and hot tap water would be in. My (semi-) educated guess would be some where between miniscule to nonexistent when said taps are located in the United States. I can understand the need for special baby detergent, but yes, it's funny that a special baby detergent, supposedly devoid of unnecessary substances, would be scented.

One more week, and I'm back to part time motherhood. I hesitate to write "working full time" just yet, because I got a call yesterday telling me that they were expecting me back but not exactly counting on me 100%. That is, I'll be on a kind of probation type situation for a week. This suits me just fine because the last time I was away from work for 14 weeks, my brain stopped processing the information placed in front of my eyes the way it used to before the break. It took at least a couple weeks to get back into the swing of things.

On the agenda for next week: making sure I have enough decent looking shirts and pants that fit (I think right now the ones that look all right don't fit, and the ones that fit look quite worn), and getting my hair colored and cut.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How do you do it in your household?

Otaku de ha dou shite imasu?

During Golden Week, my brother's family of four visited my parents at their house and stayed pretty much the entire duration of the holiday. They have a 4 year-old boy and an 8 month-old boy, the most beautiful, robust, happy baby boy you've ever seen (second only to the Pumpkin Prince, of course :P).

While they were there, they did laundry a few times. My brother and his wife wanted to use baby detergent. I don't know if they have this in the Americas and in Europe. It's a special detergent just for babies, made from milder ingredients and devoid of bleaches and brighteners. Parenting magazines in Japan tell you to use this exclusively for babies, at least until they are a few months old. They also tell you to do the baby's laundry as a different load from the rest of the family. I did this for the Pumpkin Princess until she was about six months old. For the Pumpkin Prince, I toss everything except the poopy stuff in the laundry with everything else. Have any of my fellow mommies heard of "separate laundry and separate detergent" for babies?

Another thing the Japanese parenting magazines (and health care providers) tell you to do is to sterilize the baby bottles and nipples by steaming them or boiling them in hot water. Again, I did this for the Pumpkin Princess's bottles and breast pump parts until she was six months old (and continued with the breast pump parts for the duration of their use). For the Pumpkin Prince, they just get tossed in the top rack of the dishwasher with the rice bowls and coffee cups. How many of my fellow mommies sterilized the baby bottles and nipples? How did (do) you do things in your household?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"You're right!"

Sono toori!

During the drive home from day care, the Pumpkin Princess said, "Kenny says that boys are strong and girls are weak, but that's not true, is it? Both boys and girls are strong!"

I've taught her well, haven't I?

(Name changed to protect the ignorant innocent)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Things that should be noted

Kizuku beki ten

1. Considering it's the home of a 3 year old and (at the time) a 3 week-old, the living room, I think, looks pretty good.

2. We're still working on getting the Pumpkin Princess to put away her Legos after she's done playing with them. We think she'll get the hang of it sometime after she leaves for college.

Of course, if the Pumpkin Daddy has his way, she'll be leaving for college shortly before her 35th birthday.

3. The classic airplane pattern blanket on the Pumpkin Prince was made by my rocket scientist net friend. It's just the right weight for this time of year, and the Pumpkin Prince has been using this blanket pretty much exclusively. I love telling people who comment on it that it was made by a rocket scientist.

I admire people who can do physics. Me, university physics is where I discovered I was stupid.

4. You can see I've found a better place for the Pumpkin Princess's tsurushibina. And that it's still out, in spite of the fact that Doll's Festival has been over for over a month. The old superstition says that having Doll's Festival items out long past Doll's Festival dooms the girl to a late marriage.

I say the tsurushibina are too nice to put away and should be out for people to see, and that getting married late, like in your mid 30s, is a good thing. Plus, where they are now, they're like a mobile that the Pumpkin Prince can look at.

5. The Pumpkin Daddy falls asleep in this chair in this position on a fairly regular basis. Do you think that this may have caused, at least in part, the problems he's been having with his back the past couple of weeks?

On a more depressing note, I ended up not going to my cousin's funeral. The logistics issues of what to do with a month-old Pumpkin Prince were a bit much. Since she was a 30 something previously healthy woman who died quite suddenly, the police got involved to make sure the death was indeed of natural causes. The brain hemorrhage statement came from the police. She'd died in her bed, with her head slightly lower than her heart. They brought her home and had her funeral in her hometown. Her brother hacked into her cell phone for contact info of people to contact about what had happened, and over 100 people showed up for her funeral. Her parents are being strong, but I can't even begin to imagine what they must be going through.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Unexpected good luck"

Tana kara botamochi

(literally, it means "a sweet cake from the shelf (fell into my mouth)".)

Thank you everyone who sent helpful anti-jealousy suggestions. We found one solution (yes, we realize we need many) quite by accident. I was so exhausted from all the newborn childcare and toddler childcare and toddler jealousy that I sent my mom to pick up the Pumpkin Princess from day care and asked her and my dad to bathe her and feed her dinner while they were at it. I caught up on a bit of sleep and brought her home. When she came home, and also the next day, she was happy and not the least bit clingy, and when I told her she must put her wood blocks away before she brought out her Legos, she promptly began tossing the blocks into the bucket. She also cheerfully opened the closet and pulled out a newborn size diaper when asked (she refused and cried and asked to be held the last few times she was asked). Seems the exclusive grandparent attention took the edge off.

It's a work-in-progress, never-ending battle, I know, but at least we have one tool to deal with it.

And I was going to post some upbeat stuff about how much weight the Pumpkin Prince has gained and how much pregnancy weight I have lost and how the Pumpkin Daddy does the dishes when I fall asleep while putting the Pumpkin Princess to sleep, but I found out that my cousin was found dead in her apartment. She was 35. I have been told she died of a brain hemorrhage, but since she was apparently dead when they found her, I am not sure how they know this. She was beautiful and had so many friends. Puts stuff into perspective. A healthy Pumpkin Prince and a helpful Pumpkin Daddy are wonderful blessings. How nicely (or not) I fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans is trivial.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How long will it last?

Itsumade tsuduku?

So it's been 2 1/2 weeks since the arrival of the new Pumpkin Prince. He's a pretty good sleeper for his age group averaging only 2 feedings/ diaper changes a night and not very fussy. Yet. I remember the Pumpkin Princess was like that just up until I went back to work, so...

The problem is not with the Pumpkin Prince but the Princess. She is very jealous, kind of like the wife whose husband has brought home a younger mistress. She will ask to sit on my lap while I am trying to nurse, demand food when I am changing a newborn size diaper, start screaming and yelling because I will not put a crying newborn down to play Legos with her... I could go on, but I am sure you get the idea.

An informal survey conducted by the Pumpkin Daddy at the workplace shows that par for the length of such sibling rivalry behavior is six months. An informal survey conducted by the Pumpkin Mommy and Daddy shows that neither were very jealous of their younger siblings (the Pumpkin Mommy was Mommy's little helper, bringing diapers and towels for diaper changes and such, and the Pumpkin Daddy was not very interested in his younger brother at all, in a positive or negative way).

I'm not quite sure how I am going to handle six months of this. Any suggestions as to cut down the length and/ or intensity would be immensely appreciated (other than, of course, space out kids to like five years apart, because it's kind of late for that, don't you think?)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hospital food again

Mata byouinsyoku

The maternity hospital offers a "celebration dinner" (I suspect sheri's "couples dinner" is something like this) for the new parents. We decided to schedule ours for the day the Pumpkin Prince and I were discharged, since I wouldn't have to worry about what to cook for dinner that night.

New big brothers and sisters are also welcome, and we took the Pumpkin Princess along.

She was pleased at first to get sausages and hamburger steak, but it didn't last for long, and she got bored pretty quickly.

The grownups got a multi-course meal on nice china while trying to keep the Pumpkin Princess in her seat, which kept us from savoring the meal fully.

Scallop pate, garnished with ikura.

Bonus points if you can guess who ate all of the ikura on both the Pumpkin Mommy's and Daddy's pate.

Onion and mushroom soup.

The soup is under the pastry crust.

A fish mueniere with herb butter.

I think one of the drawbacks was that this being hospital food, we couldn't get any wine.

Filet mignion.

The Pumpkin Princess did settle down to enjoy her dessert.

Which is a good thing, because if the Pumpkin Mommy and Daddy had been kept from their dessert, she would have heard about it at her engagement party.

I miss not having to wonder what's for dinner.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Hospital food


Lunch, PPD (post partum day) 0

Pasta salad, fried pork cutlet sandwiches, seafood au gratin, swiss roll with fruit.

Dinner PPD 0

Pork cutlets, soup, sushi, chawan-mushi (a kind of savory custard), udo (edible root crop) with a miso sauce

Breakfast, PPD 1

Ham, cheese, tomato and lettuce sandwiches, soup, fresh fruit, salad

Lunch, PPD 1

Curry with cheese, chilled cream of corn soup, panna cotta with fruit, salad with miso dressing

Dinner, PPD 1

Sashimi, soup, spinach with a tofu dressing, rice with mushrooms and bamboo shoots, tempura, fresh strawberries

Lunch, PPD 2

Fresh fruit, futomaki sushi, soba, daikon salad

Dinner, PPD2

Blancmange with strawberry sauce, cream croquettes with tuna, rice, proscuitto and ruccola pizza, chicken salad

(I keep forgetting to bring my camera to breakfast!)

Lunch PPD3

Sashimi with yamaimo, egg drop soup, rice, pork cutlets, pumpkin with bamboo shoots

(And I forgot to bring it to dinner this day as well)

Breakfast PPD 4

Salad, miso soup, pickles, rice, grilled fish (I think it was sea bream), taro with octopus

What is it they usually say about hospital food? But it gets better...