Saturday, July 21

Hello Summer?

Today is the coolest July 21st I have ever known. Right now it is about 68 degrees and drizzly. I am extremely grateful for such an odd day in the middle of summer but it is a little strange.

Jason had today off, another odd thing since Saturdays are his busiest teaching days. So we headed down to Sakae for the weekly farmer's market. (We were a little late since we had to drop Nico off at school for his overnight camping trip with his classmates. His first overnight away since moving to Japan.)
 Even though the cool and damp morning made me think of October, the tables at the market were covered with the bounty of summer. Tomatoes, garlic, herbs, peppers, bitter melon, eggplant, and squash. The rainbow colors were vibrant against the grey day but I had a hard time thinking of summertime recipes to use them in. (My rule is I cannot buy vegetables unless I know exactly what I will make with them. This avoids the tragedy of wilted/rotten organic veggies.) I meant to buy more but ended up with just a dinner's worth.
july 21st: farmer's market bounty

The real prize were these guys and gals. Two pairs of kabuto mushi for only 200 yen (2 bucks). We felt like thieves but gladly accepted the chance to buy some really nice beetles, raised by elementary school kids in the mountains. Made me miss country living, like I always do on market day.
july 21st: farmer's market bounty
july 21st: farmer's market bounty
When we returned home, Sebastian's pal Hikari-chan was waiting for us. They spent the rest of the dreary day playing with the beetles and hamster (notice the non-plural) on the porch, letting the guy beetles fight on the goya (bitter melon) vine.
july 21st: farmer's market bounty
july 21st: farmer's market bounty

Tonight we were going to go to the giant festival out at the port (3 kids instead of 4 makes such feats seem feasible) but the drizzle continues, making home the better choice. The main attraction of the festival is the fireworks. I am betting they will be a tad dull this year.
Besides, next weekend is the matsuri (festival) at Sebastian's school so we can get our festivaling in then. And we have our own (family-sized) sack of fireworks, just waiting for the best night.
Tonight though I think we'll enjoy a little less fighting (brother v. brother), a glass of beer, and the cool breeze flowing through the open windows. So cool in fact, I think I need my light sweater.  Is it really summer vacation already?

Wednesday, July 18

In the tiny pockets of time

I am working on a short story and following the advice of Anne Lamont, I am sharing it with my friends and family for feedback. It will be available here  until Saturday. You can leave a comment on the site or email me. Thanks.

Monday, July 16

Whoop, whoop

luca and colette

Just in case life wasn't already interesting with the normal aspects of raising four sub-10 year-old kids in a two bedroom apartment, we received some bonus challenges. You heard about the chicken pox but I haven't told you the other illness that took hold of my littles during these last months. They have been coughing their way through the whooping cough (though their doctors disagree ((yes, doctors)) and say it is just a cough). It is frustrating because it is one of the vaccines we were firm on and yet here we are, two months into the 100 day cough, still patting backs and steaming up the shower room in the middle of the night. Sebastian is back to normal now and the others are getting closer themselves. I thought we had a set back with Colette and Luca this week but it turns out that they are both teething. Colette has some mean molars coming in and Luca's bottom front teeth are starting to push through his gums. So I guess being sick won't put him off-track developmentally (such thoughts do surface in a sleep-deprived mother's head).
Besides for being a chunky, drooling monkey, this kid can flip himself onto his belly in two seconds flat.
luca and colette
luca and colette
luca and colette

I almost didn't share the fact of their whooping cough here because I felt a certain sense of shame for having sick kids. Then I realized that shame was something pushed onto me by a society that believes in the power of modern medicine to a fault. It is frustrating because here we are, with vaccinated kids (well, mostly vaccinated- see chickenpox 2012) and when we take our kids to the Western trained doctors, it turns out there is nothing they can do. Even antibiotics don't really work for this cough. All around the world, there are now large-scale outbreaks of whooping cough, affecting both the vaccinated and unvaccinated since it is a new strain that is vaccine-resistant. This is hardly news but what bothers me is that it is blamed on unvaccinated families and left at that. Why not try to work on treatment for the illness since the vaccine is becoming ineffective? The problem here is essentially phlegm. There has to be some way of dissolving or thinning the mucous so that the coughing fits aren't so violent.
My kids have been relatively lucky. They only get the coughing fits and for the most part are healthy as usual. If you Google whooping cough, you will be scared out of your wits and probably with due justification. We are also lucky since the kids have full medical care coverage and all pediatricians here operate on a walk-in basis. We never hesitate to take our kids in to the doctor.
So my wish for other families, having survived this illness, is that medical researchers find something more effective than just a stop-gap vaccine. The less people have to suffer the 100 day cough, the better. I also hope for American families that all of the states (such as my home state of Florida) stop trying to block the Affordable Care Act. With so many supposedly irradiated illnesses on the rebound, parents should never have to hesitate because of cash when it comes to seeking medical help.

P.S. For anyone suffering the 100 day cough, we found that lotus root tea helped to disperse the phlegm. Ginger tea works well too.  Lots of love, patience, and steamy air will help those days go by easier, if not cut 100 days in half. Best of luck to you.