Sunday, December 23, 2012
Why didn't anyone tell me this sooner? This rates almost as high as "it is not entirely your fault that you will be in a bad mood before your period" as things I should have been told sooner (like sometime during the 20th century).
I thought it was really bad genes and poor eating/ exercise habits that kept me from finding pants that fit. Well, maybe that's part of what's going on, but I love not being held responsible way too much to acknowledge this :) It's not my genes' fault, it's my jeans' fault!
So for starters, I'd bought a jacket that looked good on a fashion blogger I liked for about 8000 yen (never mind that said blogger is about 1 cm taller but 6 dress sizes smaller than I am). I knew the sleeves were way too long, so I spent a couple hours shortening them. Then, I decided the shoulders looked wrong, so I took my trusty 100 yen-shop seam ripper and took out a few stitches in the lining and removed the shoulder pads. Then I hand-stitched the hole in the lining closed. The jacket fits much more nicely around the shoulders now, to say nothing of the sleeves looking right post alteration.
In a delusion of grandeur, I bought a sewing machine. So far I have only used it to hem the Pumpkin Princess's new curtains, but when I get the hang of things, I would like to use it for DIY alterations. Because it's not my fault my clothes don't fit! And I need to justify spending the money on a new sewing machine (when I could have just winged it with my mom's machine)!
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Monday, December 3, 2012
Snail's Pace English School has finished all 26 letters of the alphabet! Now for vowel combinations (like "seal" and "coat").
I didn't say anything about this until now, but the Pumpkin Daddy is currently unemployed. His work announced they would cut jobs and people who raised their hands would get retirement benefits and full career counseling. We discussed what might happen if he stayed (potential transfer to Fukushima or, perhaps, China, and increased workload) and decided that for the Pumpkin Clan, taking what he could get and leaving was the best option. He's thrown himself into running (right now, he's at 10 km about four times a week) and doing stuff around the house (like re-organizing the closets and cleaning the kitchen sink) but not cooking (boo hoo). Seriously, the Pumpkin Clan could live like this forever (if the Pumpkin Daddy were o.k. with it). The Pumpkin Princess loves coming home to Daddy (as opposed to making the 15-minute walk to after-school child care), the house is clean, and I make enough money us to live comfortably (sans overnight trips to Disneyland or Guam, but um, I think we'll live). The career consultation companies have scored him several job interviews, and most have ended on a positive note, so we're still waiting, but I think things will be quite all right whatever happens as long as the Pumpkin Daddy is happy and healthy.
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
(updated in response to a request for pictures)
Some English conversation schools for kids have full-on Halloween parties, large affairs with the participants in elaborate costumes. Me, I run a fake English school in which half the student population of two shares a good deal of DNA sequence with me. So it seemed fitting to have a half-assed Halloween party (but not until we went through the 18 alphabet flashcards and 30 vocabulary flashcards first). I bought some individually wrapped candy and cookies at the local supermarket, and witches' hats and Halloween decorations at the 100 yen store.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Ask and you shall receive...
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Snail's Pace English School is still open for class. I think we're about halfway through the alphabet. It's too soon to tell if we're going anywhere at this, well, snail's pace.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Does anyone remember last year's green curtain? And how were were up to our necks in goya (bitter gourds) that the kids didn't like?
I have learned from experience, and this year I went with something that the kids would eat.
In other news...Snail's Pace English School now has a new student. Our neighbor's 9 year-old, whom the Pumpkin Princess idolizes, has joined in classes. I was having (somewhat expected) problems with getting the Pumpkin Princess to say stuff and carry conversations with me, so I recruited the 9 year-old. I've done one lesson without and two lessons with the new girl, and the difference was...well, me trying to force the Pumpkin Princess to do something she doesn't want to do, and a functional children's English class.
So there are now 4 students (the Pumpkin Princess, the new girl, the Pumpkin Prince, and the Pumpkin Daddy), which is pretty good for doing group stuff like games and practicing talking to each other. We'll see how it goes. Right now, my concern is that there might be two weeks in a row without classes because of my work and family stuff. I'm trying to think of a way to make up at least the second missed lesson without driving everyone crazy...
Monday, July 2, 2012
A Japanese first grader can write a letter by the end of May. Considering this is 2 months into her first school year, this is an interesting situation. I don't think this holds true for American first graders.
The Japanese phonetic alphabet (hiragana or katakana) is a "what you see is what you get" alphabet. You read the name of the letter, and that's how that letter is pronounced (I understand Korean and Nepali are also like this). Not so in English. The name of the letter and its pronunciation are two different entities.
When I was in first grade, I remember my teacher, Mrs. Carter, doing phonics flashcards with us. The first graders would happily shout "ah! aaaaaay!" "ih! aaaaai!" "yuh! ih! aaaaaai!" as she flashed cards labeled "A," "I," or "Y."
Then we moved, and we went to a different school in a different state. This school did not do much by way of phonics. The kids were taught to read by recognizing short words.
I have started to try to teach the Pumpkin Princess English. I found a text I thought I liked, and I got the textbook and workbook and teacher's book, but it didn't make sense to me until last night, when I figured out that the Pumpkin Princess
WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO LEARN THE NAMES OF THE LETTERS UNTIL SHE HAS MASTERED THEIR PRONUNCIATION!
Apparently this is how they currently teach reading to children in the UK and Australia these days. It's called synthetic phonics, and when you stop and think about it, it makes perfect sense, and it's probably easier (if time consuming) to both children and teachers.
So I have the textbook, workbook, and the teacher's book.
But I am too cheap to pay 7000 yen for the set of flashcards.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Every day, the Pumpkin Princess takes these things to school.
textbooks (subjects for the day must be checked and appropriate schoolbooks taken)
notebooks (see above)
pencil case (with pencils, red colored pencil, eraser, ruler, and black marker)
homework (something every day)
reading card (must read passages from Japanese textbook, signed off by parent)
napkin/ place mat
lunch bag (drawstring bag containing above chopsticks and napkin)
Every Friday, the Pumpkin Princess brings home stuff that needs laundering/ tweaking/ checking. Off the top of my head:
P.E. uniform (T-shirt, shorts and cap)
P.E. uniform bag (drawstring bag)
school shoes (white canvas slip-ons that she wears inside the school building)
school shoe bag (drawstring bag)
drinking cup (for brushing teeth)
lunch duty uniform (white coat and white hair cover cap. The kids have lunch duty every other week for the whole week. They fetch the buckets of school lunch, serve each other, and clean up)
The thing is, the Pumpkin Princess walks to and from school. And she is six. So on Fridays, she's carrying all this stuff home by herself. And all this probably weighs as much as she does. Doesn't this affect their skeletal growth or something?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Gakudo is after-school child care. The kids spend the time between the end of school and the time their parents come to pick them up in a supervised environment where they do homework and read books and play outside. On non-public school holidays (like spring vacation), they can spend the whole day there, but unless the gakudo has a special permit to prepare food, they have to bring their own lunch. Some gakudo have a contract with an outside catering service for box lunches, but I was too late to sign the Pumpkin Princes up for it.
So this is what happened.
Characters from the "Tamagocci" anime. The character on the left has ears of rolled salami skewered in place by pieces of fried spaghetti (safer than toothpicks).
Pokemon bento. The cutout of Pikachu was sold in packs in the local supermarket. I put it on a slice of cheese on top of a microwaveable frozen hamburger steak. The Pokemon ball is cutouts of salami, cheese and nori laid on a ball of plain white rice (and held in place with small drops of mayonnaise).
That was just two days in a single week. Come summer vacation, if I don't remember to sign her up for the catering box lunches, I am going to have to do this every day. Which, um, no. This is fun, but quite time consuming. Once every so often (to give me something to blog) is enough.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
So I made New Year's resolutions. Resolutions are made to be broken, right?
1. My desk is still messy.
2. I have not written anything on it. I did three new presentations this year so far, but that doesn't really count as writing as far as work is concerned. I did a lot of proofreading on a different "public space" desk, though.
3. I have not reassessed my career plan. I do know that I probably can't stay where I am for more than a few years, so this is definitely something I need to do.
4. I am still getting up at 5:30 every morning. The time between when I finish brushing my teeth and the Pumpkin Princess comes downstairs (something like half an hour) is the only time I have to myself at home. It has been put to good use. Things like sewing, decluttering, making the occasional boxed lunch, and prepping presentations (see #2) have been done during this time frame. I should probably post pictures of the lunches I made for the Pumpkin Princess earlier this month.
5. I think I am doing less late night junk food than last year, but not so much because I have made an effort to do so as much as it just kind of working out that way.
So I think I will clean my desk a little tomorrow. If I feel like it. If.
Sunday, February 5, 2012
I have the job I wanted when I was 14. But I kind of have other jobs that I wanted as a kid too. Except for one.
When I was 12, I wanted to be a writer. I blog, so that's writing. I also write and edit stuff for work. I am the person they come to when they need to write a letter in English that says "you are being an @$$" without actually saying "you are being an @$$."
When I was 13, I wanted to be an actress. I present sometimes, for research and also at training seminars. The training seminars in particular involve pretending to be more confident and knowledgable than I actually am. If that's not acting, I don't know what is...The drawback to this one is that I usually have to write my own material.
When I was 15, I wanted to be a diplomat. I am currently the designated international relations person for my department. When a group of Indonesian students wants to do a tour of the department, I am the one who makes sure everyone is ready for them. When a Nepalese woman wants to come work with us as a research fellowship type deal, I figure out which paperwork she needs to send where.
The job I don't have that I used to want? When I was six, I wanted to be a flight attendant. I am so glad I am nowhere near having that job. Those people earn every cent they get.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
It only took a minute or so for the blaze to reach full force. To be honest, until this moment, I thought the Fire Department was kind of overkill. Now, I am glad they were there.
Monday, January 9, 2012
I think I caught a watered down version of the flu. I was achy, I had a fever, I felt like I'd been run over by a car. But it only lasted a day and a half. I think it was the flu, but I'm not sure. I didn't get that test where they stick a piece of paper up a nostril and see if it changes color. I didn't even go to a clinic or hospital. I got vaccinated last fall, so it was probably watered down by that, if it was the flu. Which I think it was. But I am not an internist, nor do I play one on TV.
But that's not the point. The point is that I felt awful for a day and a half, and I was completely useless. And during that day and a half, the Pumpkin Daddy bought me ice cream and udon, and kept the kids fed and played with them and did the laundry and vacuuming. And when I felt better and told him thank you for everything, he totally blew me off. And he's tall. And looks good in random articles from Eddie Bauer.
And he always does the laundry. And the vacuuming.
And I am so lucky to have him. All the time. But more than usual this weekend.
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
We had a Christmas tree (since we don't have a fireplace, we needed to make a place for Santa to put the presents) but we put it away. The only holiday decorations in the house right now are these.
Japanese superstitions are based on puns. We're punny like that.
Sorry, couldn't resist.
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
1. Clean desk at work
My 8th grade English teacher used to have this sign that said "a clean desk is a sign of a sick mind." Which may be true, but a cluttered desk devoid of flat surfaces is not very productive. Which leads us to...
2. Write something on it.
Obviously, I don't mean write something like "I heart Alex O'Loughlin." I would like to write something technical that would help others with their work, and I can put on my CV, because...
3. Reassess career plan.
I am on the career track I wanted for myself right after graduation, before I understood the Dark Side of this job. Right now, staying with the Dark Side is the lesser evil available to me. I'd like to see if there is something less sinister I can realistically attain. If not, I'll stick to the Dark Side as long as they will have me. It's not like we're sucking the blood out of babies (though we hang with people that do...kidding, but not 100%...)
4. Continue to get up early every morning.
About a year ago, my BFF mentioned she got up at 5:30 every morning to run. So I tried it. While I am not a runner, getting up early gives me time to do a short Pilates workout, or do little things around the house, or, (gasp!) research work stuff. It takes effort, though. I have to fight and conquer the desire to stay in bed (otherwise I just play alarm clock tag for an hour), remember to have all my clothes laid out the night before (otherwise I just stand in the closet in a kind of daze for an hour), and stay away from the computer (I get sucked in by e-mail and Facebook checking) to get anything out of it. But worth the effort.
5. Limit late night lapses into junk food to once a week.
This is a carry over from last year. It has become a habit, probably like the way others smoke.
I can think of so many other things, but these five are probably what is realistic for the time being.