Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Always Something To Learn

Thanks for your encouragement in taking the Japanese class. I do have my reasons for wanting to learn Japanese. I guess I assumed that everyone knows that my husband is Japanese. I do already know some Japanese. But I'm not sure that the Japanese I know will help me in this class. I know things like Japanese cartoon characters, and phrases like, "I need to go potty" and "Where are the diapers?" These aren't in the textbook. I checked.

I don't really need to know that much Japanese. Yes, I do travel to Japan. But when I go to Japan, I bring my own personal translator with me, my husband. Granted being able to survive in Japan and being to communicate are different. I would also like my children to continue speaking Japanese because we spent a lot of money sending them to Japanese preschool and the older one already forgets most of it it's an important part of their heritage and I don't like wasting money .

I do know how to say a few other things in Japanese. And I can understand more than I can say. But it doesn't always work as planned. This past spring my family and I went to Okinawa. We stayed at a beautiful hotel with a private beach. We decided to try the jet skis. We had to go two at a time. My 5 year old and I went first with the jet ski instructor. Then my husband and my 7 year old with the same jet ski instructor. My 5 year old and I waited on the beach while they took their 20 minute ride. Not more than 2 minutes had passed when my 5 year old turned to me and said, "I need to go potty." We were on the beach. There was no bathroom. The nearest building was where we paid for the jet skis and there was no bathroom there, but we could ask where the bathroom is. At this point I considered sending him into the ocean to go potty. But I quickly changed my mind. My 5 year has been going to Japanese school for 2 years. This is a resort where most employees speak English. Surely we could find a bathroom without the help of my usual translator.

My 5 year old and I walked up to the jet ski rental counter and I told my son to ask where the bathroom was. He wouldn't do it! He made me do it. So I asked. And the guy understood me! It would have been perfect if only I could have understood his answer. He pointed up a hill and toward a building. I went to the building. And then found a map with the bathroom located on the second floor. I later found out that the man at the jet ski counter said, "follow that path up the hill to the building and take the elevator to the second floor."

That reminds of another woman I met once who considered herself fluent in Japanese and was proven wrong by a little girl. This woman was a businesswoman. She worked in Japan and handled many contracts and meetings without any trouble. One day she was with some friends at the store. She was asked to watch one of her friend's little girl who was only about 3 years old. The little girl said something to the businesswoman. But the businesswoman did not understand the little girl. The businesswoman tried a few times to get the girl to speak more slowly and tried asking questions to figure out what the girl needed but in the end she ran out of time. The little girl had wet her pants. The little girl was saying that she needed to go "potty." She was using the child's word for "potty" as opposed to a more adult word like bathroom. So the woman did not understand. "Potty" is not in most textbooks and not used in most business meetings or contracts.

Just when you think you know it all a little girl can teach you something.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The New Girl At School

I enrolled in a class at the local community college. I'm taking Japanese now. Today was the first day.

When I enrolled in this class I had to send over transcripts to make sure I met the prerequisites for the class. I felt really old digging up those artifacts. But somehow I managed to get accepted into the college and I found my way through the new computer system and enrolled in the class.

This morning I started to get a little nervous. I don't know my way around campus. Where do I park? Will I be able to find the classroom? What if the other kids don't like me? What if the school nurse from my kids' school tries call me during class (As if that would ever happen!)? Typical first day concerns. Nothing really to worry about. Then as I'm walking out the door to leave for my class I realize that maybe I have a real concern. I realize that I don't have a notebook or a pen. Ok, maybe I do have something to worry about.

I don't think I'm ready for this.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

One is Never Enough

My 7 year old son has started a new collection. Some of you may wonder what a 7 year old would be interested in collecting these days. He already has a collection of Pokemon cards. And a rock collection, hot wheels, quarters and other things. But I was surprised by his latest collection.

Yup, he has collected three erasers from the tops of pencils. That may be strange enough for a normal 7 year old. But if you've been reading my blog, you might remember that it was only 2 weeks ago when my son stuck this same kind of pencil eraser in his eraser (You can read the post here). The school nurse couldn't get it out. The ER doctor couldn't' get out. The ENT almost couldn't get out.

So why not have a collection of them, right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Teenage Son

The weather has started changing here. The leaves are beginning to show some fall colors. The nights are getting chilly. The daytime highs are dropping. Fall is in the air.

My kids are skeptical. They want to wear shorts every day. I let it go for a while. But now it's officially fall. And the high yesterday was in the 60's. I explained these things to my kids and they both agreed to wear long pants to school. They got up and got themselves dressed. I commented at breakfast on what a good job they did following directions and getting themselves dressed appropriately for the fall weather.

I sent them off to school as normal.

I picked them up at the bus stop in the afternoon. My 5 year old was wearing shorts. Huh?

I asked him why he was wearing shorts. He laughed and said, "Ha, ha. Tricked you. I put shorts on under my pants and took off my pants when I go to school."

When did my 5 year old turn 15?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


This morning my 5 year old ran ahead to the bus stop. My 7 year old stayed behind and walked with me. My 7 year old turned to me and said, "Mom, I don't know why he is running. He is using up all of his energy running and won't have any energy to talk when he gets to the bus stop."

My 7 year old does have his priorities.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Adventures

Last night I put the kids to bed. Then my husband and I sat on the couch to watch some TV before going to bed ourselves. (I don't know why The Biggest Loser is so addictive, but it is.) Around 9pm, we heard our 5 year get up, go to the bathroom and go back to bed. I said to my husband, "Isn't it nice that our son is old enough to wake up and go to the bathroom all by himself?"

I was wrong.

Around 10pm I went upstairs and went into the bathroom. I found my 5 year's pajama shirt in the toilet. The bottoms were in the trashcan. The bath mats were soaked. What happened in there??? I'm starting to think that my kids like to come up with new ways to surprise me. I really thought he was just going to the bathroom. I guess had gone to the bathroom, but this is not what I had expected.

I went into my son's room. He was sound asleep and soaking wet. My husband I changed his clothes and changed his bedding and took his temperature. He didn't have a fever. That was a relief.

This morning I asked my son what happened last night. He looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't know. I woke up this morning and my clothes were changed!" He was very surprised.

Perhaps he was sleepwalking?

These kids really do like to find new ways to keep me busy every day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another One Down

We're dropping like flies here. Today it's my husband's turn. Well actually I'm a day behind in blogging. Yesterday was his turn. Yesterday he stayed home from work with a fever and a sore throat. I drove him to the doctor (just like any one of my other children). He has strep. Now is on antibiotics and is home again today.

Any guesses as to who will be next?

I am beginning to feel like a sitting duck.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tis the Season

My 5 year old has seasonal allergies. For whatever reason his allergies are worse this year than usual. His regular allergy medicine doesn't seem to be working as well. He goes to the school nurse almost every day. His teacher sends me notes home letting me know. I hear him coughing. I give him medicine. I know. But what else can I do? I already worry that I'm overdosing him.

After a week of his coughing getting worse, not better, yesterday I made a call and took him to the pediatrician. The pediatrician checked his ears. All clear. He checked his nose. All clear. He checked his throat. Not all clear. He decided to a strept test (which came back negative).

The pediatrician moved on to my son's chest. He listened for a while and finally decided that he heard some wheezing and prescribed an inhaler. And since the strept test came back negative, my son had no fever, and no one else in my house was sick, my son was given a clean bill of health.

My 5 year old used the inhaler at 1pm. At 8pm he suddenly had a fever of 101.4. I called the office hoping to speak with the doctor on call. A nurse called me back. She reviewed his age, weight etc. Then reviewed his symptoms, the allergies, coughing, the medication, new inhaler, the doctor's specific request not to give him any additional medications. After all of that do you know what she said? She said, "Give him some honey and a warm shower."

I wanted to reach the phone and strangle her.

Honey and a warm shower???

I'm calling to find out #1 if it is possible if my son is having a reaction to this new inhaler and #2 if I should even continue using this new inhaler and #3 what else I can give to help his fever and you suggest "Honey and warm shower?"

I wanted to tell her what she can with that honey and her warm shower.

But I didn't. I re-asked questions 1-3.

Luckily my son is much better today. No thanks to the worthless nurse. Oh, and I didn't try her honey or warm shower suggestion. Go figure.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Family Portrait

Recently my family had our family portrait done my a local artist. He's a new, young, up and coming artist. I'm sure one day his artwork will fill all of the galleries. Right now his work is featured mostly on the Famous Fridge or at Grandma's house.

I like his perception of how skinny my thighs are. And those Rockettes have nothing on me. I'm all legs.

And apparently my family has some kind of skin condition that is turning us all blue. Could it be swine flu?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

That Rocks

This week my kids got a new bus taking them home from school. My kindergartner was very excited to tell me all about it.

"Mom, now we're the first stop. And the new bus driver goes so fast. She does 50 miles per hour down the hill. She rocks!"

Just what a mom wants to hear about the new bus driver.

Monday, September 14, 2009

More House Painting

It's four days later and I still haven't made a final decision for a paint color. I thought I had a few days ago, but I was wrong.

The painter wrote down my selection, went to the store, bought the paint and came to the house to put up a sample on the house. Before he even made it back to the house, I called to tell him that I changed my mind about the door color. But I thought I was certain about the house color. Then my husband saw it and he wasn't so certain. This morning my husband looked at again. He said it's too light. But I don't want something too dark. So he says, "Whatever you want." Which in marriage translates too, "You decide, so I can blame you for the next 10 years for choosing the wrong color."

Now I know what color is too light. That would be the color that the painter put on our house as a sample. And I know what color is too dark. That would be the color of the house across the street. And I have three inches of colors to choose from. (See my earlier post if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) So I have a plan. I'm going to my three inches of colors and compare them to the other houses. Do you think the neighbors will mind if I go up to their houses with samples of paint? Probably not when I kindly explain that I don't want to make the same mistake by selecting the wrong house color, right?

I''m beginning to run out of time...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I feel fortunate. Fortunate that my husband hadn't left for work that day. Fortunate that he didn't even work downtown. Fortunate that my father wasn't at the pentagon that day. Fortunate that no one I knew was hurt.

On 9/11/2001 I was pregnant. I lived in north Jersey and my husband worked in NYC. He was getting ready to take the bus into the city. We had the TV on and were watching the news when we saw a plane crash into the tower. We didn't think much of it. Surely it was an accident. My husband left for work and started to walk to the bus stop. A neighbor told him that all the tunnels were closed and he came back.

We continued watching the news and saw the other plane hit the tower and knew it was no accident. When the tower collapsed, we lost our TV signal. That was our local antenna on top. It took a few hours for us to find out what was going on.

My parents live in Virginia, a few miles from the pentagon. My father often has government contracts and has visited the pentagon in the past.

My parents were afraid of my husband being in the city in that morning and we worried about my parents too. I do feel fortunate that my family is safe.

That night my house filled with smoke. The smoke stayed for a week.

There were military personnel with guns at tunnels and bridges. It felt like a war zone.

My town was a NYC commuter town. Lots of people never came back that day. So many funerals. There were cars that never left the commuter parking lots. They marked the tires with chalk. One line for each day they didn't return. No one wanted to tow them. No one wanted to give up hope.

It didn't take long for Missing Posters to go up. So many people went missing on 9/11. Lots of people were searing for someone who never came home that day. No one wanted to give up hope.

It also didn't take long for the cars that had chalk lines on the tires to also have flowers placed on the windshields. And flowers were placed on the fences along the sidewalks by route 3, the main road into NYC.

Everyone knew someone who was gone. Everyone knew someone who didn't come back that day.

New Yorkers (and East Coast people) get a bad reputation around Seattle for being rude and uncaring, but they do look out for each other. There is an inexplicable bond. Almost a kinship. Lots of New Yorkers came to help during that time.

Those armed military personnel became comforting. They stayed there for a very long time. By Christmas we were waving to them as we passed by. We were glad they were there. They had become a part of our town.

I no longer live near NYC. I'm near Seattle now. Things are different here. No one talks about which neighbor didn't come back on 9/11. No one talks about the client who worked in the tower and never made it to the meeting. Or their favorite restaurant that used to be a block away from the towers. Or how they moved to the suburbs because they were forced to move out their apartment after 9/11 when the section of the city they lived in was closed for months. There are no newspaper clippings hanging up at the local pizza place with pictures of the towers burnings because of the quote underneath from the fireman was the owner's nephew.

Things are not the same here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Choosing a Color

Thanks for all the well wishes for my son. The ENT was able to get the eraser out of my son's ear. He almost gave up. After about 5 minutes of trying the ENT looked at me and started talking about scheduling surgery for tomorrow. I started to blank out and strongly suggest that he try again. This time I held my son and encouraged him to stay still. It worked. The eraser came out! The doctor asked if we wanted to take the eraser home. Is he crazy?! No thanks. Now my son can no longer say, "sorry mom, I can't hear you, I have an eraser in my ear." He did try this several times. He did not, however, get away with it.

My 7 year old liked going to the ENT. The ENT's office was right down the hall from the doctor he went to when he broke his arm back in February.

This week we're getting the exterior of our house painted. Today the painters finished the pressure washing, scraping and caulking. I need to decide on a color. Here are my choices.

That's 2.5 inches of colors! The kids think black would be nice.

I was looking at some of the names. Check out these pinks.

Can you read the names? The lightest pink is "Romantic." The next is"Second Honeymoon." The third is "Tingle." Do you see a theme here? The next is "Want it." I was a little afraid to read the next one, "Whistler." Then comes, "Bohemian" and "Attitude." Who comes up with these names?! The next set of pinks has "Excite" and "Betrothed."

I was thinking of getting a more neutral earth tone tan color. I can choose, "Crumbled wall." Is that a prediction? Not a very good thing to put on your house, I would think. Or how about "Pot hole?" I can imagine the conversation now.
Neighbor: "Is that the newest color pot hole on your house? "
Me: "Yes, it is."
Neighbor: "Wow! It looks great! Just like a real pot hole!"

They also have a brownish-tan called, "Dotcom." I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

I'm leaning toward one called, "Deck chair." It's a nice brown. Neutral. Earth-toned. Peaceful. Non-kinky. Respectable name that I can tell my neighbors. Deck chair it is.

Neighbor: "Wow! Did you just get your house painted? It looks great."
Me: "Thanks. It's Deck chair."
Neighbor : (Not going to say anything because it's obvious that they are both looking at a house and not a deck a chair. Cookie has completely lost it.)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Four Days

Four Days.

That's how many long my kids have been in school. Today I got a call from the school asking me to come pick up my son. My 7 year old had put a pencil eraser in his ear and it would not come out.

It only took my son four days of being in school before I got a call asking me to pick him up and take him to the E.R.

Do you know those signs that factories use to keep track of how many days they've been "accident free"? I think I need one of those for my house. It would look nice on the fridge. This morning it would say, "4 Days." Tonight it would be "0 Days."

The E.R. could not remove the eraser. Tomorrow I will be taking my 7 year old to an ENT. The E.R. doctor wrote a prescription for one sedative. I think my son and I should split it. Only seems fair.

Can't wait to see what my kids come up with in four more days....

Learning To Swing

This weekend my 7 year old wanted to learn how to swing. Some of his friends can swing on the playground at school without any help and he wanted to be able to join them. We went to the park and practiced. After about 15 minutes he got the hang of it. Once he got about 5 feet high he jumped off. "That was fun" he announced.

And he did it again. Only the next time he went higher.

He got back on the swing. He went just a little bit higher still and jumped off yet again.


I have a feeling I'm going to get a call from the nurse's office this week.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mom Vs The Kindergarten Tag

In case you missed my last post about my son's first day of kindergarten, I'll summarize. I forgot to send him to school with his important bus tag. The tag that kindergartners are supposed to wear around their necks for the first 2 weeks of school. The tag that has the classroom information, their bus information and their home information. When I realized this I stopped what I was doing, I went to the school and I dropped it off in his classroom.

So when I picked my kindergartner up at the bus stop that afternoon, I was expecting him to come off the bus wearing that oh-so-important tag. He wasn't. I asked him where the tag was.

It was in his backpack.

The next morning I had him put it on as we left the house. It was back in his backpack when he got to the bus stop. And it has remained in his backpack all week.

I think the tag may have won this round.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Day of Kindergarten

Today is the First day of school and that means the first day of kindergarten for my 5 year old. I walked both kids down to the bus stop. I took a few pictures. I came home and had some coffee, checked some emails and stared my cleaning. First on my list of chores was to go through the pile of school papers that had been sitting in the drawer all summer. Yes, that would be the pile of papers from last school year. And while I'm not admitting to anything here, it may or may not have included a few papers from my second graders preschool days. Ahem... Anyway, first let me just offer an explanation or excuse for why I put this off for so long. (Those of you with school age probably use this same excuse.) You can't go through these papers with kids in the house. They want to keep everything. You can't throw away any of the 10 pages where they practiced writing the number one. Each paper is very important to them. Or the 26 pages or leaf rubbings. So you keep them in a drawer until the kids are gone and then you pick a select few to keep and toss the remaining 2.5 billion into the recycling bin.

While I'm sorting through the papers from last year (like I said, I'm not admitting to having papers from 3 years ago) the phone rings. It's my friend who also has a child starting kindergarten today. She calls to tell me that she forgot to send her child to school with the tag that has her bus information on it. You know, the tag that the school printed up, laminated, sent home a week ago and requested that kindergartners where it to school every day for the first two weeks. How cold she forget?!

I look down on the counter. There is my child's tag too. Oops. I guess I'll be stopping by the school to drop it off. After I finish sorting through the rest of the school papers.


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