Friday, March 30

Maker:1 Machine:1

bunny prototype
simple quilt for luca
reversible cap
l is for luca

I have finally started to benefit from the magical combination of energy and will necessary for me to make all the things I want to. A lot of my trouble has been based around the will to work with my little temperamental sewing machine. I try to think of it as my apprenticeship as I am learning a lot about the mechanics of the machine as I try to solve the problems that crop up every time I sit down to sew. When I actually can buy a good machine, I will be a more competent owner. In the meantime, I must gather my courage and patience and try not to curse the da#n thing too much.

After all, my little shadow has big ears.
what happens when i ask her to smile

Thursday, March 29

Mr. Luca and Mr. Nico/ルカくんとニコライくん


Since the arrival of Spring, we are rarely indoors enough to drop in here. Yet I know that when a pregnant lady nears the finish line, people get more curious about how the race is going. To reassure you, I just thought I would pop in here to say: all is well. After all, look at that face. How could we not be well with such a plump little one on the way? He is already measuring about 7.5 pounds. And I still have a few weeks to tilt the scales a little more.

Just from the cheeks and lips alone you can tell that little Luca is one of my kids.

And his massive forehead makes me think that he'll favor Nico, which is appropriate since Nico was the one who made me think I was pregnant in the first place. I was probably only one or two weeks along when Nico started a strange habit of sneaking into my bed in the morning and placing his hands on my belly. I'd ask him what he was doing and he would say he was feeling the baby. This habit carried on for so long that I decided to take a home test, you know, just to check. Imagine my surprise... Instances like that really make you wonder how much control you have over your destiny and how much better children understand the workings of the universe than adults.

One thing I do know is that I am happy that soon these brothers will unite. Nico has been waiting for Luca for a long time (and has now adopted the borderline annoying habit of continuously asking when Luca will arrive...). And looking at my big guy Nico makes me extremely patient in these final weeks because I know it will be just a matter of seconds before Luca is not only in my arms but running around with the rest of the gang.

march 27: meijo koen: nagoya

It really does go too fast, doesn't it?


Thursday, March 22

Spring has sprung.

march 21
march 21
march 21

And while we are still sporting long sleeves and knit caps, there is hope in the air and on the branches that winter is exiting.
The boys have their last day of school tomorrow before spring break. When they go back Sebastian will be a third-grader and Nico will be in the upper class at kindergarten.
The start of April also brings our two year anniversary of moving to Nagoya.
Lots of things at this time of year to raise our glasses to. Kampai!


Wednesday, March 21

The Swing of Things

early morning creating

It is March 21st.
Spring has sprung and it is only three weeks until this little one is set to hatch (though with my late children, I am not expecting anything until the end of April). Last week I was hit with a cold that made me inclined for the horizontal rather than vertical activities. Being sick also makes me feel lazy, especially with all the t's I need to cross before next month.

This week I am better and have managed to complete my taxes and other misc. paperwork that had a timestamp blazing. Not fun stuff but necessary stuff.
I have reclaimed my sewing table and have managed a few steps towards completing that massive list I posted before. A reversible jersey knit cap has been made, along with a quilt and a couple of blankets. Today I will finish the little kimono tops and baby towels (they wrap babies up in towels instead of blankets here). I will try to take some pictures later today to share with you.

The closer I get to the due date the closer I find the unnecessary aspects of life falling away. There are a lot of things that will not get made or written and instead of it bothering me, I find relief in that realization. There are a lot of pressing concerns around here, specifically financial worries, but at this particular moment, I am just grateful to be home and have what I do have. When the belts are tightened, it becomes necessary to use what is on hand more than we do if we have a broader income. Lots of bean dishes are being served more often now. Luca's things are being made primarily from samples I had for the shop. And a lot of the things I am making for the shop will also come from what I have in my scrap pile (it's a nice pile).

I am from a generation that started out despising the term "frugal" and has now embraced it as a lifestyle choice. I would rather have less money and more time and now I get to discover the cost of that wish. It takes a lot of grey matter to manage it but the benefits are definitely worth it. I am sincerely grateful for what I have before me right now. Which happens to be a very kissy two year-old who wants my hands to "hurry up" and play with her instead of the keyboard.

Hope you are all doing well. Take care.

Thursday, March 15

Earthquake Report

ume with fly that looks like bee

Just to assure those worried about us, we were not in the area where the earthquakes hit last night. The first one was up near Hokkaido and the second one (and its series of aftershocks) was in Chiba, near Tokyo. The second one is probably of more consequence than the first as it was new and in a place that has been anticipating a major earthquake. I am sure the people in that region are justly concerned about the nature of the earthquake. Since I am an armchair seismologist, I will report anything of importance to you as it develops. The local news was less concerned about it than the international news seemed to be, making it seem more sensational than it was in reality. So far no damage has been reported and the most that has come from it has been to shaken people's nerves.
Thanks for your concern.

Saturday, March 10

March 10th

Rising Sun

In Tohoku, the people who were swept away were still alive a year ago on this day. They were still laughing and playing and working and worrying and though there had been a strong earthquake, they lived. They were oblivious that March 10th was to be their last day alive so they went about their normal routine, a series of busy nothings and somethings.

As do we all. It is an inescapable aspect of our human nature. Though we know on some level that eventually we all have a March 10th, such knowledge is too heavy to carry around at the front of our minds day by day. All we can collectively do is to remember the loss and the survivors, and to include ourselves in the latter group.

I will never forget the afternoon of March 11th. The morning is gone, March 10th has evaporated as well. All I have of that day is the memory of that long earthquake, that felt more like being rocked aboard a ship than being shaken. Then calling Jason and checking that everybody was okay. Laughing that the boys were too involved with their Legos to notice the biggest earthquake of their lives. Then going back into the office and watching the news as the tsunami rolled in, wave after wave, and changed Japan forever.

On March 10th, the nuclear reactors at Fukushima were chugging along just like everyone else. The global debate about nuclear energy hadn't been ignited by what will probably turn out to be the worst nuclear accident in history. The push for green energy had not become a regular aspect of the international conversation. The silver lining, so to speak.

A year ago there were hundreds of people who were miserable and didn't realize it until the tsunami. March 11th served as a much needed wake up call for them. People took action: instead of waiting for their lives to get better, they made their lives better. And most of them did so by answering the call for help, either in the disaster zone or elsewhere. When faced with our mortality, our vision clears and we can see what really matters in this existence: kindness, togetherness, compassion.

There is a balance to everything, even tragedies. What was taken away was also given, though perhaps on a deeper, more subtle level.

In celebration of what was given, and in tribute to what we lost last year, tomorrow will be spent offline, together and grateful.

And if you haven't seen this yet, please watch this to get a better sense of the balance as seen through the eyes of these down-to-earth elementary school students:

Thursday, March 8

This Hausfrau Life

I thought I would have more time to visit this space with my days being my own. Of course, that is where the first mistake was made: my days are not my own. Jason and I have spent the week adjusting to each other and cleaning the apartment. We moved furniture and cleaned windows and did all sorts of things that make us feel more prepared for what is ahead of us. Besides for the big B word coming into our lives, we are also working on our own projects that will hopefully become more fruitful as the year moves along.

There is also the fact (yes, a verifiable fact) that I am simply a better housewife than my other half. I like to cook meals that both please the shorties around here AND contain exotic things like vegetables. I have certain standards of cleanliness that I work hard to meet everyday, trying to get all the major chores done before 9:30 (or 10:00 at the latest). I am also the stricter parent, much to the surprise of the kids. I enforce curfews and homework/study time. I demand that they keep their space tidy and their school things ready. And frankly, all of that stuff means I hardly ever go near the computer. This is different from Jason's housewifeness in the consistency of my methods. Overall, it should be noted, Jason is the tidier half and is much better in terms of the quality of his work. I aim for quantity instead.

Luckily, I do get a chance to be near my sewing machine and that luckily is both for my own creative sanity and for Luca's tiny body. Yesterday I finished a baby quilt using natural linen and brushed cotton from the Autumn Nani Iro collection. Today I am working on some kimono tops using double gauze and mittens using knits, all fabrics Nani Iro. I have a whole giant box full of small samples from the shop and now I have a person small enough to fit into the little wears I make.

Of course, that is not stopping me from a trip to the fabric store tomorrow to stock up on enough fabric to get this baby clothed and covered for the first few months. On my list for things to make before April:

-scratch mittens x 2 pairs
-slippers x 2 pairs
-kimono tops x 8
-pants x 3
-footed pants x 2
-knit caps x3
-burp cloths x 10
-baby towels x 3 (the hospital requires them)
-simple blankets x 4
-simple cloth bags for sorting baby stuff
-maternity/diaper bag
-cover for the medical book I have to carry with me everywhere
-gobbi mobile

I am taking on this challenge for two reasons: I like to make baby things and it is far more economical this way.
I am glad to have both the time and resources to make so much for this final baby, more than I ever managed for the first three. It also makes me feel connected to generations of women who did not have an Aeon mall to get their baby goods from.

Okay, with all this talk about being pressed for time, I find I have been here too long. It is time to go make dinner. Tonight, onigiri, pumpkin, potato salad, and miso soup. And chocolate tofu pudding for dessert.

Hope you are all well, wherever you may be. Take care.

Saturday, March 3

Hina Matsuri


Today is Hina Matsuri, Doll Festival. We forgot to pull out our hina for the day but we did manage to procure some hina matsuri treats. Anything pink, green, and white is linked to this day but certain things like sakura mochi (a bean filled rice cake wrapped with a salty cherry tree leaf) are a must. Colorful dango mochi, like you see the little hina up there noshing on, was another must for our crew.

It was also my first day of maternity leave. And such a day to start off a year of not working. Gorgeous Spring day. After the five (!) loads of laundry were hung to dry in the warm breeze, we headed off to the park for the first time in a long time. We needed to soak up the sun today because the forecast has us under rain clouds for the next five days. Of course in March, this rain has the special purpose of helping the cherry blossoms bloom. And this year when the sakura are in bloom, then I know it won't be long until Mr. Luca comes a knockin'.

where's nico?