End of the Year

I’ve just written an enormous post for my Japanese blog looking back over the year, so this version is likely to be a bit smaller. The Japanese blog does tend to get prioritised over this one, I’m afraid.

So, from a personal perspective, it was a good year. It was our first full year as parents, and we have largely adapted to having a small child in the family. Of course, Mayuki herself is delightful, and her growth this year has, naturally, been amazing. At the beginning of the year she couldn’t even sit up, but now she’s running around the flat, parks, and shopping malls, and imitating us constantly. She can say “bye-bye” and “hai” (Japanese for “yes”), as well as a few other words that are a bit more approximate, including “Daddy”. For some reason, she doesn’t seem to want to say “Mummy”, but when she woke up last night she was very clear that Daddy was not good enough, and that Mummy had to come, so it must just be something about the words.

She enjoys helping Yuriko to clean, getting the extra vacuum cleaner nozzle from the cupboard and so on, although apparently when she tried to help sweep up leaves on the balcony it was not completely effective as a means of tidying them up. She got a new doll for Christmas, with a bottle and nappies, and she plays at looking after her. In other words, she’s being a typical child, which is good.

She also seems happy; she does shout and scream from time to time, but it’s almost always from excitement, and her crying is fairly limited. We are in the halcyon days, with the terrible twos to look forward to.

Work has also gone fairly well. Ice Yearning has not yet been a great success, but that could be said of a lot of novels, so I’m going to be trying again next year. Actually, this year, in the UK and US, jut barely, so watch out for that. Teaching has been going well, with my students almost all continuing their lessons. I still want to recruit a few more, but only a few. Over all, then, work could have been better, but it was good enough.

Of course, looking at the wider world, things have gone less well, with wars from Africa through the Middle East to Georgia and east to Afghanistan, plus continued terrorism across much of the world. People are still not taking environmental problems as seriously as they deserve, and probably won’t until the crises start to hit the developed world as well. But we can still hope.

I can’t do anything on a global scale, so I will have to concentrate on making Mayuki’s local environment as good as possible, to raise her to be able to cope with the larger problems that are bound to surround her. And, of course, ensure that she enjoys the process of growing up.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone. I’m going to spend time with my family today, rather than sitting in front of the computer, but they aren’t awake yet, so I have time to write a quick blog entry. I suspect this is likely to be the last Christmas for some time when Mayuki isn’t awake yet at half past eight in the morning, so I suppose I should be making the most of it.

Anyway, Merry Christmas, everyone.

Getting Better

Mayuki seems to be getting better. Yesterday, she wasn’t at all lively when she woke up, but she quickly perked up, and by the end of the day she was more or less her old self. She refused to eat any of Yuriko’s udon at lunch time, but happily ate my spaghetti, while at dinner she didn’t want to eat anything solid. Maybe she just wasn’t impressed with what was on offer.

She also answered to her name, when called in Japanese. She put her hand up, and said “hai” (“yes”), and then smiled and applauded when we did. She really is right on the verge of starting to talk now.

Mayuki Update

Mayuki still wasn’t lively when she woke up yesterday, so Yuriko took her to the doctor. While there, she (Mayuki) threw up twice more, and the doctor diagnosed her with “vomiting and diarrhoea syndrome”. Well, yes…

Anyway, he also provided treatment guidelines, which do seem to have worked. She hasn’t thrown up again, and she slept through most of the night, and is still asleep now. On the other hand, the guidelines involved strictly limiting the amount that Mayuki drank at any one time, so we had a very complainy Mayuki on several occasions. I tried to explain to her that she couldn’t have more, or she’d be sick, and she didn’t like that, but I don’t think she fully understood.

I’m still not fully recovered, either, being on low appetite and apparently also starting a cold. Fortunately, Yuriko does seem to be basically recovered, so at least there’s one healthy person in the household.


I suppose I could use our illness as an excuse for not updating the blog in ages. Actually, the more I think about it, the better an idea that seems, so let’s do it.

I haven’t been able to update the blog because we’ve been ill. Please ignore the daily updates to the Japanese blog.

Anyway, we have been ill. It started on Thursday. Yuriko went out to meet one of her friends during the day, but after she got back she started feeling really bad, and threw up several times. She was feeling rather better, although still not 100%, on Friday, so we put it down to mild food poisoning.

After I threw up three times on Saturday night, we revised that hypothesis. I wasn’t as bad as Yuriko, but I still spent most of Sunday in bed. Mayuki also threw up during the day on Sunday, all over the new Pingu pyjamas that she’d inherited from Yuriko’s friend’s son, but apart from that she was lively, so we assumed that we’d all be OK soon.

Indeed, yesterday Yuriko went to her kimono class as normal, and during the day Mayuki seemed to be fine. Her appetite was a bit lower than normal, and we didn’t go out any further than the convenience store, but she was playing in her normal way. After Yuriko got home and I was practising the piece I agreed to play with one of my students at her school Christmas party (she’s an English teacher, and I’m a meta-English teacher), Mayuki wanted to join in, which wasn’t great for concentration. On the other hand, there will be small children at the party, so it’s probably good training.

However, at dinner, even though she enthusiastically ate rice and seaweed (she really likes seaweed), she soon threw it back up. Her bib neatly caught all of it, and it was very fast, so we thought she’d probably just eaten too fast. Nevertheless, we didn’t give her any more solid food, but did feed her more milk, to try to keep water and nutrition levels up.

Again, she was fine afterwards. She went to bed with Yuriko before nine, and I joined them at about ten after washing up.

At eleven, Mayuki threw up lots. Fortunately, we were both there to make sure nothing serious happened, and we’d put towels under her before putting her to bed, but Mayuki was very upset. Yuriko had to cuddle her for a long time, and when we tried to swap Mayuki cried and reached for Yuriko, so I couldn’t help with that. Instead, I changed the bed. Thanks to the towels, only the sheets and one pillow were dirty, so it was just a case of stripping everything off and remaking. Within an hour, we were all back in bed, and asleep, and Mayuki then slept through (basically), and is still asleep now, at 8am. So is Yuriko; I’ve put the sheets through the wash, so they should be ready for hanging out soon.

We were planning to do our Christmas shopping today. The original plan was Sunday, which was cancelled due to Mayuki and me being ill. Then, by chance, I don’t have any lessons today, so we moved it forward. But now we can’t do it today, either. There isn’t another chance before Christmas, so we’ll probably have to do it after Christmas now. Maybe I can do a bit on Amazon.

Yuriko and Mayuki will probably go to the doctor today, but since this bug seems to be going around we don’t expect much beyond “it’s that bug that’s going around”, so I probably won’t go; I’ll stay here and work. I hope Mayuki is lively and happy again when she wakes up, though.

Boil the Scrapings from Under His Fingernails and Drink Them

This is, apparently, a standard Japanese phrase: 爪のあかを煎じて飲む. It means “learn from him by imitation”. Yuriko suddenly used it last night, with reference to me, and it was the first time I’d heard it, so there followed a short clarificatory discussion. (“Why do they want to boil my fingernails? What have I ever done to them?”) Yuriko guessed that it might have something to do with the practices of traditional Chinese medicine, but it’s still a rather strange phrase.

The context was that she met some other Japanese mothers yesterday, and they were talking about their husbands. Apparently, most Japanese husbands still think that socks unball themselves and walk to the linen basket in the middle of the night, and are happy to watch the baby occasionally, as long as it doesn’t cry, or complain, or want to do anything. The idea that he might bathe the baby, or look after her for a whole day, seems to be regarded as plainly ridiculous.

This makes it very easy to be a comparatively good husband over here. It also probably explains why, in marriages between a Westerner and a Japanese, the Westerner is overwhelmingly male and the Japanese female. There are a handful of exceptions, but they seem to be very rare. The same bias does not apply to international marriages in general; there are a lot of Filipinas or Chinese women married to Japanese men, so it balances out, at least. But still, I suspect that there are very few Western women who would put up with a typical Japanese husband, so marriages that way probably only happen with exceptional examples. They do exist, and the culture is shifting in favour of the husband helping at home, but Westerners have at least a thirty year head start.

Imitating Her Parents

Sorry about another long delay. I’m quite busy at the moment, and writing the blog gets squeezed out.

Mayuki continues to come on in leaps and bounds, although actual leaps and bounds are still a bit beyond her. She can jump up and down a bit on the spot, but only a little bit.

She is imitating our speech better now, her recent clear word being “up”. That, “Daddy”, and occasionally “Mama”, are the only ones pronounced clearly, and apart from “Daddy” we aren’t sure whether she is using them with meaning yet. Yes, she does seem to be learning English earlier than Japanese. So far. On an evidence base of three words.

No, not convincing proof.

On the other hand, she does seem to be understanding what we say. She likes playing with the shampoo tube while she has her shower, but when I ask her to put it back on the shelf, she does. She also objects to “I have to work”.

She does a very cute imitation of me blowing my nose, holding the tissue up to her nose and making noises, although she can’t actually blow her nose yet, and she always copies Yuriko when Yuriko is cleaning the floor. She’s even got a small floor mop that she uses for that. Yesterday, we went down to the convenience store, and she took a little shopping basket and put sweets into it, so she knows about going shopping as well.

It looks like it won’t be long at all before she’s properly talking, so I’m really looking forward to that.

A long break and then a short article. Oh well.