Monday, December 30, 2013

Oosouji big cleaning

In Japan there is a tradition of doing big clean before the new year.  I usually get my cleaning finished before Christmas.  But this is not a usual year and it has taken a lot more energy to get things done than normal.  Yesterday I rallied the troops and gave orders.  It's the only way to get anything done.  David managed to change the filters on hood above the stove.  That was always hubby's job and i had no idea how to do it.  Took a few hours but he got it done.  Managed to get the stove top cleaned down.  Also moved the furniture around in the living room.  Looks a lot better!
I was shocked at how much I had let things go this past year. I just stopped caring, most days couldn't be bothered.  I think grief is very exhausting.  So from tomorrow 2014 I have to try better, not only taking care of my home but taking care of the kids better and better care of myself.  I'm not making resolutions, I only break them but I want to improve my life.  I never wanted this life but it's what I have and I need to make it good.
So Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Looking Back on 2013

This has been one long hard year.  I hope never to repeat it again!  The first few months I was in a fog, in total shock.  I kept thinking that I would wake up and find that it was all some awful nightmare!  But of course it isn't!  I think that the brain protects itself by putting you a daze to get through the worst times. The problems start when the fog lifts and the realisation hits that things aren't going to get better and only time (lots of time) can help!  I remember one day in the summer thinking that I felt so much better, then breaking down crying and sobbing for over an hour.  That is grief, it is raw and unrelenting.  I miss my husband every second of everyday, I think about him all the time, the kids talk about him a lot.  Not a day goes by when at least one conversation starts with "Do you remember when Dad..........". 
But we keep on going, some days I had to take things one hour at a time.  I would tell myself you get through this hour, just get to lunch time.  Some days only the very basics would get done, laundry, food cooked, and lessons taught! And I was okay with that! 
In March Christopher finished junior high school and got into high school.  In Japan there are ceremonies to celebrate these times. I felt so strange not having Hisao there with me. I fixed a smile to my face and went through the motions.
May was Hannah's birthday, that was hard because of the circumstance of her birth (she was premature, just 900 grams at birth) her birthday was really celebrated as a miracle!  The fact that she not only survived when the doctors gave her only a 30% chance but she doesn't have any problems is a real miracle.  Hisao made a fuss of all the birthdays but Hannah's was special.  I missed Hisao a lot on that day as well.
Summer was it's usual hell, the heat and humidity here are really hard for me.  Mikey went to driving school for two weeks and got his licence.  We got a car in October and despite few near missed his driving is getting very good!

Bad day, me doing computer games and watching TV

Sports Day at Hannah's school


Going to school camp for three days
I know at lot happened this year, but it really was a year of just getting through.  I hope that 2014 will be better!

Friday, December 27, 2013


It is very cold today!  I even put a coat on to run to the shop this morning, so it must of been cold!
It snowed for about an hour, quite a few flurry's but it didn't stick.  I am glad to have a kotasu table to sit under and stay warm! For those who don't know what a kotasu is here is an article from Wikipedia
But one problem with a kotasu is that you are warm until moving!!!  And I don't want to move at all.

I managed to get a couple of jobs done.  Sorted out a load of books for recycle.  Called Book Off but they don't do pick up service at this time of year.  Mikey and David took some books and got 300yen and a 50 yen discount ticket!  I found another online service, they took a box today so I'll see how much they give and then decide what to do with the thousands of books we have!

I also took down the Christmas decorations!  I feel sad seeing the tree after Christmas.  I had the decorations up for a month, so taking them down refreshes the area.  The living room looks a lot bigger now!
And I get some family photos taken.  Only took the best part of an hour, not the usual 3 hours!

 One with the kids being daft, the other kind of okay!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Got through Christmas.  This is the 2nd one without hubby but last year he was around during the planning and organising, the pressie buying.  But this year I had to do it by myself.  Not easy! I spent hours checking out Amazon etc.  With Mikey having his car really helped but of course he doesn't enjoy shopping! One week before Christmas I had all the pressies and the food bought.  Helped a lot, no last minute buying.. 
Kids had a good day.  Hannah was very happy with her "Cats Musical"  DVD (she is watching it now!), she also got the T.S. Elliot book that the musical is taken from.  The big boys got gifts as well.  But I didn't over spend.  I want this time to be about making memories, of having time together.

Christmas Eve I made lasagna and some salads.

I bought cakes this year, just too tired to bake!

Christmas dinner I did beef in the slow cooker.  Good choice as it came out very tender.  I also bought a small chicken.  We ate a lot but didn't over eat so nobody got sick!


 Opening pressies with Dad watching!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Of Course

Of course I over did it!  I spent almost all day Sunday and Monday baking cookies. I think I made over 200 cookies.  Tuesday was running around going to Hannah's school, shopping then David's school.  Wednesday did another load of cookies, and teaching.  Thursday no cookies but spent the day cleaning.  Today I was wiped out!  I managed to do a few more cookies and got the living room cleaned again.  But Hannah came home from school with a fever.  Typical, she manages to get sick every year at this time. Anyway she finished school for the year, so get some rest and hope that we feel better for Christmas.

Some of the cookies

Mikey doing parties

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Year

Today is exactly one year since my husband passed away.
It's hard to believe that a year has gone past.  I didn't think I could get through one day let alone one year.  I miss him everyday.  I go to bed wishing that time could be reversed and that awful day had never happened.  I wake up wishing he was here, to tell me his silly jokes, just to give me one last hug.  To tell me that he loves me and that I am beautiful, even when I feel like crap.  He was part of my life for 25 years, for half of my life he walked with me.  Now I am alone but not too lonely.  The kids keep me going.
This past year has seen a lot of changes.  Christopher finished junior high and entered high school, Mikey took charge of our English school and got his drivers license, David has stepped up and helped a lot in the house, Hannah has grown up a lot as well.  We have had adventures. Got on the train to Fukuoka, to the big shopping mall and to the big city near here.  I learnt a lot about Japanese banks, post offices and the kindness of strangers at the city hall.  I also realised how much my husband protected me from the not so nice side of Japan.  I lived 21 years in a bubble, my husband took all responsibility for our money, for the kids school, for dealing with all the red tape that goes with living here.  I was shocked to find that even the smallest of task took so long and was often frustrated by the silly things I had to go through just to change bank accounts or get my name on the rent agreement!
One good thing that has come out of all this heart break is that my kids have really grown up this past year.  The older boys no longer have the luxury of messing around, they have become very serious to help out and have made decisions about the running of our English school.  Sometimes I have stepped back and let them make the decisions.  Part of that was me not being able to cope, part of it was me wanting them to take responsibility!


The Great Cookie Bake Off

It's that time of year, time to get baking.  I started on Sunday, made about 2 dozen of three different kinds, did another 2 dozen yesterday and today but most have already gone!  Yesterday was two big classes.  They seemed to enjoy their cookies and Mikey did magic for them,from the sound of the laughter I think the kids had a good time.

On another note I am rather worried about the state of English education in the local elementary schools.  Hannah has been saying that her English class is boring for the past few weeks.  I thought it was because her English is good and learning the alphabet and basic greeting can get to be rather boring.  Today Mikey and I went to see her English class and it was awful.  If we taught like that the kids would quit.  The ALT teacher had no enthusiasm for the subject, all the dialogue was monotone, the subject matter was not dealt with in an interesting or engaging way.  For adults this might be okay but not for kids.  After 10 minutes the kids looked as if they were about to fall asleep!
I am wondering if a letter to the local education board would help!  But can I complain after just watching one class?

One of the small classes has just arrived, this class is just two brothers, but they invited friends, so there are now 7 kids shouting in the teaching room....Oh fun!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013


I make plans, great plans. I then ignore them and wonder why nothing gets done in time and why I am always two steps behind!
Today's plan was to give the kitchen a real good clean out.  Change the filters for the fan, steam clean the sink and ovens, get things in order for the great cookie bake next week.  That was the plan! Instead I went shopping.  Got something fro David's Christmas.  Just have a couple more things to buy then I think all the presents are done!
Tomorrow I will clean the kitchen.  But you know the old saying "Tomorrow never comes"

My entrance all dressed up for Christmas, the painting is one hubby did in high school

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I am so glad that Mikey can drive.  His driving is improving, still takes corners a bit to fast for my liking and he still parks as far away from other cars as possible.  But we can get out and about.
Yesterday we went to Saga City to get a few things for Christmas.  Got most of the pressies, need to get something for Mikey.  He wants clothes so I guess I'll give him some money and he can buy what he wants!
One thing I realised yesterday is that I have to loose weight.  I got so tired just going to a few stores.  I don't have the stamina to keep on going for hours like I use to.  Part is age but the biggest part is my weight. So I need to cut calories, easy to say but difficult to do!

Monday, December 2, 2013


So it is now December.  Last month of the year.  Kids are excited about Christmas, especially Hannah.  Which is just as well as I have no desire to do anything about it!  I just want time to stop so I don't have to face the day my hubby died. But I have no choice do I?
On to more interesting things.  Hannah made miso soup for us the other day.

Hannah's miso soup
It was good considering it was only the second time she had made it.
I tried out curry pan.  Got the recipe from a web page (which I can't find now).  It was a bit fiddly but tasted good.  I always make too much curry so now I have a way of using left overs!

I will try and update more often this month!!!