Wednesday, April 25

I hate to disappoint...

But I have no choice.
I  think I did say something about him coming closer to Golden Week than April Fool's.  I just didn't think he would literally be born during Golden Week.
It is rather warm here today and I have had to realize that I have no warm-weather maternity clothes. But I do have ice.  Thank goodness for the small things, right?

Tuesday, April 24

In this picture....

a rare moment of peace

They aren't fighting. The room is clean and so are they. Vegetables were eaten with gusto. They are having fun together and sharing the crayons and coloring books. Sharing.

Moments like last night, those are the moments that balance out all the moments of disorder and chaos. The ray of sunshine through the clouds.
I know that sounds a bit dismal but those readers of you who are parents of small children right now will understand. Caught in the daily grind of child-rearing makes you lose sight of what is actually happening. Rare moments of calmness, of happy laughter, that is what brings us back to the truth of our role. That we get the privilege of helping them along their own paths. That all the sacrifices, all the sleeplessness and grey hairs, they are pennies in exchange for what we get.

Everyday that grows closer to Luca's birth and my hospital stay, I have valued the opportunity to serve my kids more than usual. Since I never know what the next hour will bring, I endeavor to do as much as I can for them before I am in the hospital for five days. When I was working, those tasks tended to feel like an added burden. Now that I must take a break from them, I find that I am already missing these chances to honor my children through my actions and deeds.

And, just for the record:

hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

Monday, April 23

Rainy Days and Mondays....

rainy days and mondays...
rainy days and mondays...

Today is a day designed for hot tea and extended pajama wear. April showers and all that jazz.

Jason is napping as I type this. His intention was to influence Colette to follow suit, but she outsmarted him.

I have been writing a lot about naps lately, I realize. The American in me wants to apologize for being so nap-centric. The me in me defends myself with the fact that naps are recognized as a crucial part of daily life in most civilized cultures and have been proven by Scientists (notice the capital S) to benefit mental functioning. So there. I refuse to be ashamed of my love for napping.

I really am running out of things to chat about here. From now on I will simply post a picture of a flower and that will be code for 'No Baby Yet'. Deal?

And thanks for the supportive comments and emails. They really do cheer me on.
Take care.


Sunday, April 22

One Last Thing


At this point, with this extension granted to my pregnancy, I have completed most things on the "Getting Ready for Luca" list. Blankets made, bills paid, closets cleaned, those sorts of things. Now we get to do the supplementary things like making a giant welcome sign to greet the newest family member.  Or stocking up on snacks and comic books for the kids.
You know, the fun stuff.


And, just so you don't lose your faith in me, I have started to have random but solid contractions, which I totally savor.  I have had enough to seek out a watch. So that is a positive sign that something is going to happen. Sometime.


I am no prophet.

hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

The 21st came and went and yet Luca did not deem it worthy of his birthday. He has five days left, according to the doctor. For our convenience, today or tomorrow would be swell as Jason is off. Of course, babies are all sorts of adjectives but rarely labeled with 'convenient'. The doctor didn't have much to tell me yesterday that I couldn't figure out. He's still active, he's in position, and all the other physical signs of approaching labor are rather faint.
I will tell you something that I know from experience and research: all those tell-tell signs don't manifest typically in advance with a mother who has had previous births. With Nico and Colette, everything happened in one package deal within hours of the next step. And as I remember with Colette's birth, when there is no medical interference-including stripping the membranes- when the baby comes when he/she is meant to come, then labor is much, much easier. All the natural elements are activated to help the baby on his/her journey. Her birth was so gentle that I refuse to use the term labor 'pains' anymore. As much as I want Luca to get a move on, I also know that it is best we give him the time to get to that perfected point when he will press the exit button and set the process in motion.
Nobody has ever been pregnant forever. Soon, very soon, you will see baby pictures here instead of flowers from my archives. We are on the path to his birthday, just walking slowly enough to smell the roses on the way.

Saturday, April 21

Madadaiyo まだだいよ。

the bakery

Sorry I neglected posting yesterday. Hope I didn't excite the wrong idea. Baby is still baking away.

Thursday, April 19

Thoughts of Transition

hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

Now, it is the pleasure of my everyday chores, the warm sunshine of Spring, the songbirds, the children laughing during their recess in the schoolyard next-door.
My heart is ripe with gratitude. How lucky I am to be here, right now.

I want to chronicle the stars and air and sounds for Luca, the setting of his first chapter. Most important, I want to remember this sweet period right before he joins us so that later (perhaps when he is sixteen and pimply, sneaking cigarettes and breaking curfew) I will have something luxurious and soft to pull from my battered mothering box, a cloak to wrap around my sweet boy and protect him from my easy judgments and exasperations.

Every mother has a pile of these memories, perched on the edge of our minds, at the ready.

These quiet, mundane weeks before Luca is born are now ready to be folded and put away. I can feel a shift occurring in my body and mind. Every minute lived is another minute closer to Luca. Soon I will have memories of woven with details that only a parent can savor, like those tiny, tiny fingernails and the way his eyelids will flutter while he is lost in newborn dreams.

The whole family seems to sense the transition. Every morning I wake up surrounded by my children, all of them quietly vying for my attention, even if it is just passive physical contact. They perhaps sense that my attention will stray for a little while, to be focused on a little one instead of homework assignments and skinned knees. The boys are more understanding but I wonder how Colette will respond to this coup. In these days before she loses the Baby crown, I am kissing those sweet cheeks just a little more often, giving her more time to gather her rocks and dig in the sand at the playground. I think she will like the Big Sister crown just as well, though it might fit a little awkwardly at first.

Wednesday, April 18

Two of a Kind(red)

snack time

These two middle children have become quite the pals. Of course, they each have a strong relationship with their Oniisan (big brother) but it is different from their playful connection. Nico knows better how to treat Colette since he is also a younger sibling; he also has the advantage of a smaller age gap (3 years versus 5.5 years).
Colette brings a whole barrel-full of silliness to the relationship which appeals to Nico's sense of humor (Sebastian also likes silliness but only if he is the producer).
Of course, I have to think that since they almost share a birthday they were bound to be more similar. Each of them have a sense of order and tidiness that skipped my eldest son. They are better at listening but also more willful than Sebastian ever has been. They are also more independent, a trait that comes with being younger siblings perhaps.

Right now it is dinner time and the two of them are trying to out-silly each other with their older brother both scolding and laughing at their antics. I try to imagine what mealtime will be like with four silly siblings sitting around the table without allowing such foresight to turn my hair white. As their mother, I try to find a balance of indulging in their right to enjoy each other's company and the necessity of having them get food into their stomachs. And with this pair, it really comes down to getting Tweedle Dee to focus on his dinner so that Tweedle Dum will, like with everything else, follow suit.

And just a pregnancy aside, no baby yet but as I am hoping that Luca will choose Saturday evening for his arrival (after Jason comes home from work, no less) then I am not impatient yet. I still have quite a bit of housework (aka nesting) to do before then, progress of which is hindered by the erratic back-to-school schedule which is peppered with lots of half-days (including the unexpected ones like today when I had to haul my big ol' belly up to the kindergarten after Nico's sensei gave me a nice phone call letting me know that my blondie was waiting patiently in the office for me). In the end, I know it won't matter to Luca if the kids' closet is put to rights before he comes home but I also know that once he gets here, all productivity will be suspended for a bit. I am in a funny limbo state right now that involves chores, naps, walking, more walking, and reading Elizabeth Gaskell novels.  I can't really explain the last one but there are a lot of inexplicable elements involved with the end of pregnancy so 18th century stories about the conflicts between the working class and their 'masters' appeals to me right now. Perhaps it is related to the amount of housework I have suffered endured accomplished in the last few weeks.

Tuesday, April 17

Out of Doors


On the way to the post office this morning, we stopped by a small park to let Colette get some of the genkiness out of her limbs. There a lovely cherry tree was shedding its blossoms, creating a satin pink carpet underneath the long black limbs. It was such a scene that proved irresistible for immersing in and I laid flat under the tree and allowed the petals to float down upon me. At that moment, I wished that we weren't so primitive as to need to be indoors for the birth of a child. What better place to come into this world than under a shower of cherry blossoms, with a warm breeze as an embrace, welcoming the new life with glorious Spring sunshine rather than sterile fluorescent lights.

Of course, I will submit to the rules of propriety and Luca will have the regular, unromantic entrance into this world. I will keep this morning's scene as a visualization tool, reminding myself of the beautiful transitory nature of life. During the intensity of childbirth, when contractions feel never-ending, it will be good to be reminded of this.

Monday, April 16

Wax and Wane


My energy as of late has been rather unsteady. It puts the more ambitious, industrious part of myself to shame. I know that it is part of preparing for delivering Luca but still I hate not being able to check off my to-do list. As an act of kindness to myself, perhaps suggested by my doula-self, I have ceased to write my daily lists so there can only be triumph from the acts I managed instead of guilt from all the things I have left undone.

When my energy ebbs and the kids allow it, I indulge in siesta. These naps, if they result in actual slumber, produce some of the most vivid dreams of water. I wake up almost aching to go back to sleep so I can dive and swim, light and free from this walrus body of mine. It makes me homesick for the sea which produces a little bit of resentment for the comfortable confines of this city.
I am weary of the Pacific due to inaccurate superstitions about the damage from Fukushima. I know that the current that is carrying the bad stuff doesn't pass this way but still, I don't feel comfortable carrying my little ones there. I feel landlocked by this refusal to visit the nearest seashore. I miss Kyushu and the clear blue-grey waters of Nagasaki.

Is it obvious that I am writing this in a post-dream state, feeling heavy and restless for salty air and the sound of waves lapping against the sand?

Once Luca is big enough, I want to travel to Fukui and the lovely Sea of Japan. It is something I have unconsciously wanted for a while but have not had the time to recognize until now. Oh, the luxury of a nap.

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise;
your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell;
you know the deep essence of water and the earth,
conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest--
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

Neruda- Sonnet XXXIV

Sunday, April 15

Sun Day 日曜日

sumire and tanpopo

Sundays are the one day of the week when nobody has to go to school or work. I realize that we just had two weeks of straight Sundays during the Spring vacation yet you can't fully value the day until it is sandwiched between six non-Sundays.

The sun rises here just after 4:45 now (Japan does not have daylight savings time) and as I have mentioned before, there is nothing to keep Nico from rising with it. He is a patient fellow and usually takes care of himself quietly until around 5:15 when he makes his older brother join him. With their powers combined, they then decide on which request they can make that will squeeze past our usually strict regulations, made slack by the desire to sleep until a more decent hour. On Sundays though for some reason, they seem to accept the relaxed nature of the day and will instead join me on my futon until that decent hour arrives. It makes the day much better when there isn't a power struggle to be fought at first light.

Today was a typical Sunday of banana pancakes, housekeeping, park visiting, and grocery shopping. Right now the boys are with the neighborhood kids at the nearby park and Colette's eyelids have succumbed to their growing heaviness and she is peacefully napping in the other room. The open windows bring in a warm breeze and the songs of all the flitting little birds, dancing on power lines. The quiet embraces me, enchants me until I too must succumb to an afternoon nap.  Oh, the joy of a good Sunday.

Saturday, April 14

Me, Myself, and I

hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

I had my weekly doctor's visit today and it was predicted by his swift judgment that I still have another week to go. I am actually hoping Luca will want to be born on the 21st since it will make my kids a complete cusp set (Sebastian-20th, Nico-22nd, Colette-23rd).

I always feel a little fatigued after seeing the regular doctor and always have to transform into self-doula mode to raise my spirits. It isn't easy giving birth in a place where we are essentially on our own. After two years in Nagoya, we do have quite a few friends, yet it is not normal in Japan to rely on such relationships during times like this. Typically pregnant women return to their parents' house the month before the birth and remain there until the one month baby check-up following the birth. It is a nice tradition for those who can take advantage of it but for a mama like myself, it means that I am more isolated than most.

Of course, I went through this before with Colette and lived on a tiny island for that one so I am experienced. It does increase my sense of self-sufficiency but I can't help but envy those women who do have parents in the country to help them during such a vulnerable time. My own parents have helped me tremendously in their own way but I wish they had decided to retire in Okinawa instead of St. Augustine, Florida. Similar climates and much easier for us to travel to.

Yet there is no sense in feeling sorry for myself. I just must remember that this is the one disadvantage that balances all those advantages we have living in Japan. And also I must recall that amazing sense of victory I felt at the end of Colette's active but gentle birth. It made me feel akin to women who go off by themselves to give birth in the bush. Such a peaceful and natural event, so unlike the experience promoted by those who wish to profit from childbirth.

At the end, I feel all I can say is ganbatte to myself and just try and stay sunny. A pursuit made easier by the return of actual sunshine pouring through my window.

Friday, April 13

Due Date

bubble blowing

Well, here we are on my estimated due date, and a Friday the 13th no less. This is the day when the patience from most of those around me dwindles.  They (and by they, it is possible that I am including you in the equation) suddenly realize how long a full-term pregnancy actually is (basically 10 months) and the fact that I stubbornly continue to remain in this encumbered state is simply unacceptable.
Luckily for them (and perhaps you as well) I am patient enough for everyone. In two weeks, if Luca hasn't made his entrance into this world, then perhaps my tune will change.
For now though, I am okay. Luca is okay. Between now and two weeks, he will decide on a birthday and manage to escape his warm womb to be embraced by a family that is somewhat ready to meet him. Since this is my fourth child (for those of you who lost count) I know that a due date is not an expiration date. I also know that when he does decide to come, he will come. I even look forward to the occasion (as nuts as that might sound).
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
Until Luca's birthday, I will waddle through my days, filling out school forms in crummy Japanese, blowing bubbles at the park, and eating way too much ice. My hospital bags are packed, the pantry is stocked with cornflakes, ramen noodles, and rice and there is nothing left to do but enjoy these last moments before the Luca revolution begins. Based on my previous experience, I know that the change will be so radical it will soon be hard to remember a time when he wasn't in our lives. Until that occurs, I plan to savor all the moments I can with his fellow revolutionaries, those loving siblings who have so successfully scrambled my memory that I am rather sure they were with me during my youth, blowing out the candles on my own birthday cakes.

little digger
dual bubbles

Also, a big shout-out to my mother-in-law who celebrates another year survived on this blue and green ball today. I know she is hopeful that Luca will be the most considerate of her grandkids and decide he wants to share her birthday. All I can say is that the day is young and though there is no indication he might want to be one of the rare ones who are born on their due dates, there are plenty of hours left for him to change his mind.
(And, just so grandma knows, we signed her birthday cards last week but made the mistake of trusting them in the care of her eldest son. So please look for your birthday cards a few days late but know that we  didn't forget your birthday...)
Omedetou gozaimasu! Happy Birthday!

Thursday, April 12

Nature Girl

hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

There goes the little nature obsessed Colette, stick in one hand, pebbles in the other. Our speed as pedestrians is hampered by her desire to stuff her pockets full of rocks found on the side of the street. Every evening, I empty her pockets of the day's treasures, knowing I will have to repeat the procedure again on the morrow.

Before when she was restricted to the stroller (for convenience's sake) she would pluck every leaf or flower that came within her reach. Like a true naturalist, she would then dissect (read: shred) the procured specimen and examine it with all of her senses. Now that we have released her from the bonds of the stroller (to prepare her for walking slowly at my side when Luca is strapped to me) she is free to collect as many samples as she could ever want. It is amazing how even in this concrete-coated landscape, she manages to find such a wealth of blossoms, stones, and insects.

As the temperature continues to rise, I can begin to imagine our summers with three budding naturalists eager every morning to get outside into the lush, buzzing day to hunt for beetles and preying mantises, cicadas and geckos, and perhaps just a few more rocks to add to an already abundant collection.

Wednesday, April 11

Minus and Plus

Last night we lost a little member of our family. Angel, Sebastian's dwarf hamster, was found curled up in a deep sleep that she was not to wake from. She was a very sweet little hamster and tolerant of Sebastian's Lego mazes and rough handling from his friends.

We decided not to tell Sebastian until he returned from school today. Jason scooted out to the pet shop and found a replacement, a blue sapphire dwarf hamster. When Sebastian came home, he took the news better than we anticipated, the blow softened by the novelty of a new little fur ball to 'train' as he put it.

When pressed for a name, he gave it a few moments consideration then declared that she will be called Sakura-chan. (I swear I had nothing to do with his choice.) This way, he said, we will always remember when she came into our home and when Angel left.


Tuesday, April 10

Hanami: 花見: Blossom Viewing

hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
Today Jason came home early from doing errands with the decision that we just had to go do some hanami this afternoon. The reality of my bulging belly and tomorrow's impending rain made him think that today might be our last chance to see the cherry blossoms at their peak. The boys opted to stay home so with just Colette for company, we headed to Nagoya Castle, one of the prime hanami spots in Nagoya. We didn't actually go in (and should I admit we actually have never entered the castle proper?) but there were plenty of cherry trees around the perimeter to captivate even the hungriest of eyes.
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
(You can see most of the 200 photos over on the flickr page.)

I actually fell in love with Japan during my first hanami (and I know that every year I tell you the same story but every year I do come back to this moment, so please bear with me). I had just suffered through my first true winter and was feeling out of sorts with the place for being so damn cold and brown all the time. Then suddenly Spring waltzed into my life and made me understand the delicate balance of nature. It also made me appreciate Japanese society and the determination to take time out of their busy lives to spread out blue tarps and bask in the fleeting glory of a tree.
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

And my annual post on hanami just wouldn't be the same without some lines from Issa:

sasuga hana chiru ni miren wa nakari keri
when cherry blossoms
no regrets
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
ne-korobu ya o-honmaru go-yô no hana no kage
curled to sleep--
the important official
in cherry blossom shade
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
tori to tomo ni ningen kuguru sakura kana
birds and people
creeping through...
cherry blossoms
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
saku kara ni ame ni ai keri hana no yama
soon after blooming
pelted by rain...
mountain cherry trees
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
(for more haiku by Issa, please visit the haiku guy.)
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle
Today's hanami made me decide on Luca's middle name. We have been leaning towards Haru (春ーSpring) for a while but I was hesitant about how it would sound with the two names together in Japanese (Ruka Haru- ルカはるーa double 'ru'). Yet the season means so much to us and our love for this place that Luca has decided to be born in that it is the only name I can really think of. It really is a glorious time of year. 
hanami 2012: meijo nagoya castle

Monday, April 9

Mr. San-Nen-Sei

march 27: meijo koen: nagoya This guy has started his third year at the neighborhood elementary school. He has a new teacher who is younger and speaks English (which is a boon for us, not for him). He'll be playing the recorder this year, learning Japanese calligraphy, and exploring the region along with a heaping dose of world geography. He was really apprehensive about the start of the new year which made him irritable these past few days. Since he goes to a small school, there is only one class per grade so all of his classmates are the same. His main source of stress comes from the concern he will have to study more, which is a valid concern but something he'll have to adjust to. He's not exactly a poor student: he is simply not studious. The only thing he is serious about is goofing off and not losing face in front of his friends. For bilingual/bicultural kids, becoming the class clown is almost a natural role to adopt in order to bridge the potential prejudice that arises in a monolingual monoculture. Humor can overcome a lot. Sebastian and Nico both employ goofiness as a means to social acceptance and though we don't encourage it, we don't really discourage it either. We did throw them into a rather stressful social situation so I believe it is only fair that they are the ones who manage their behavior within that sphere. Yet it does mean that Sebastian spends way too much time thinking of his next wisecrack so that he has little attention for the more serious side of school. I also tend to think that since he has to deal with the double edge blade of academic learning in a second language AND with course content that is not presented in a very enticing manner, he simply gets bored and switches to Mr. Funny Man to pass the time. My hope is that this year will be more interesting for him and having a younger teacher (with more recent pedagogical training) will help him discover that there is more to school than jokes and P.E.. Not that I expect Sebastian will ever outgrow being a goofball; I wouldn't recognize him if he did. I just want him to have more pleasure in going to school. Anyway, now I have to go fulfill his shopping list for the new year. (Plus buy some bulk foods in preparation for my extended hospital stay which is fast approaching. I hope the boys don't mind eating spaghetti, curry rice, and ramen for a few days.) Hope you are all well. xoxo

Sunday, April 8

A Low-Key Easter

Easter is one of those holidays that hasn't been embraced and altered in Japan. We were in a specialty store the other day where they had a rare display of foil wrapped rabbits with a sign next to them explaining in a brief paragraph what Easter was. Having been called on more than once to explain to students what Easter is about, one paragraph is impressive.
happy easter (thanks grandma!)

We used to do more for Easter but since moving to the city, it has been a holiday that goes rather unnoticed in this apartment. We could do an egg hunt with a local foreign family group, but that would take effort. We could do it in our local park, I suppose, but the kids are doing their upmost to blend in so such an activity would go against their efforts (no matter how fruitless those efforts may actually be). So our Easter has evolved to opening the box from grandma and eating American candy until everyone is grouchy.

A far cry from the Easter I knew as a kid, running around my grandmother's yard in pinchy paten-leather shoes, racing my cousins for eggs either real or plastic. In warm sunny Florida, egg hunts were an early morning competition, as candy in the plastic eggs would melt and the dyed boiled eggs would spoil. There were always those eggs that went unfound until a month or so later when the stench would give away their hiding spot. The afternoon had its own delights, pies and cake and deviled eggs and ham and potato salad and scrupulous pillaging of the sacred Easter basket. It was an event eagerly awaited every year until I reached that cusp of childhood when being bored was more important than finding all the eggs.
happy easter (thanks grandma!)
As with many things that come from raising kids in a culture unlike the one I was shaped in, I do feel a little sad that the kids won't have the same memories of Easter that I enjoy. I also know that they have different holidays to one day reminisce about like pounding mochi for New Year's or throwing beans at ogres. In the end, it is not really the specific holiday that matters but the memory, glowing and significant, that they will be able to reach for as they reflect on their childhood and how it spiraled into who they have become.
happy easter (thanks grandma!)

Saturday, April 7

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

april 6 2012: nico returns to kindergarten

I am sure you would be happy to visit here and not read my gushing sentiments about it being April. But I honestly can't help it. April is really a fantastic month and I am proud of my little Luca for choosing such a month to be born in. It shows good taste. June (Sebastian) and November (Nico + Colette) are also top-notch months but April definitely rivals them. Sure, it isn't warm yet and the winds here in Nagoya threaten to blow us and the cherry blossoms away but it is still spectacular.

And I say this not only in awe of nature, but because of a more selfish element. April means that the two oldest kids return to school and Jason returns to a regular teaching schedule. And even though this means that Luca's birthday will be more inconvenient for our busy schedule, it is a relief to have a few days before the baby comes in which I can think and enjoy relative peace and quiet. Colette is a busy two-year old but like Nico, she is rather self-sufficient. She doesn't eat much so lunch time can be a simple affair. And when it is time for me to sit down to the sewing machine, she is content to sit near-by with her clay or kitchen set and just occasionally climb into my lap to help.

I am working steadily but slowly on my inventory for the Etsy shop. One of the things that will be different about this version of the shop is that it will include other things beyond children's garments. These things will be kid-related (toys and accessories) or useful for moms or non-moms (accessories). One of the things I have made that has been stewing in my head for a while is this hydrangea mobile. In this picture you can see the prototype which will hang over Luca's area. I have always had a little soft spot for mobiles and the idea for this one came long before the idea of Luca. It still isn't exactly right but it is getting close to what I envisioned. And for Luca, I think he will enjoy it even if it isn't the perfect version.

ajisai mobile

Friday, April 6

First Day of Kindergarten

april 6 2012: nico returns to kindergarten

Nico has moved up to the top level of kindergarten. He has a new teacher (Mami-sensei), a new class (Kaki-gumi, Persimmon class), and new classmates (31 total). He is happy because Mami-sensei was always sweet to him last year though she is very small so I don't know how she will manage Nico in case his temper gets the best of him.

It is a great day to start a new school year. The public schools had their entrance ceremonies today as well and I really think there is no better season to start anew than Spring. You can't help but be hopeful under crisp blue skies and billowing cherry blossoms.

april 6 2012: nico returns to kindergarten
april 6 2012: nico returns to kindergarten

Thursday, April 5

Breaking Spring

luca's still secure

Spring break is almost at an end. Most of my maternity leave up until this point has meant a house full of energetic kids which, for this gigantically pregnant mama, is a bit exhausting. Not many pictures to document our days as they are more of a swirling vortex of drawing pads, meals, dishes to be washed, fights to be broken up, jump ropes and soccer balls, toilet training, and the constant reminder to "BE QUIET". They start early here as the sunrises around 4:45 am now and no amount of curtain can stop Nico from rising with the sun. Of course, I assume our neighbors are not so in tune with nature's cycles so this involves a bit of stress from parents who also prefer to wait until a more decent hour for rising. The good thing is that the boys go to bed around 8:00 pm and fall into a deep, uninterrupted sleep until their early wake-up time.

Tuesday saw a tremendously strong storm hit Japan (though it was not a typhoon, just to be clear). In some places, the winds were up to 100 miles per hour. About five people were killed in the storm and hundreds injured. It hit Nagoya in the afternoon and stayed for a few hours. Talk about cabin fever at the end of that day.

Now it is gorgeous. Birds are singing, the kids are painting and reading, and I am about to go to the doctor's office for my weekly check to see how Luca is cooking up. It is hard for me to fathom the fact that he can decide to come at any time now. So hard in fact that I have put off buying the items necessary for bringing to the hospital. I have decided that today is the day to get all that shopping over with. A good step forward in facing the reality which in turn means getting my head in a good place, the best birth preparation I can embark on.

Also, I just wanted to give a shout-out to all the friends, neighbors, former students, and of course family members who have generously given presents to little Luca. We really appreciate your thoughtfulness and kindness. Thank you so much!

I'll try to be a daily poster for a bit so that you will won't have to worry about Mr. Luca's arrival.

Take care. xoxo