Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Expat Exhaustion

Ok, yes being an expat is officially cool. When I take my kids to their Japanese kindergarten, I have had many people come up and offer to help. Who did that for my sister-in-law when she moved from California to Ohio? The kids on the playground watch my kids like they are local celebrities.

And I love walking around and finding new things like the fact that my neighbors are selling branches of a heavenly scented flowering tree for 150 yen, less than $2 a bunch.

And the little shrine with the worn-out statues and coffee cups. It's all fascinating. It is also exhausting. Every day I worry about feeding my kids or rather getting them to eat. Tonight I tried Gyoza - mom fail. While I wolfed down a whole packet of Gyoza, they mostly ate rice and carrots and popcorn for "dessert." By then, I had had it.

And now, at 6:56 pm? Kids are watching "Cat in the Hat' on DVD in the other room and I am sipping plum wine hoping my hubby makes it home with a little energy to spare. He not only has a full day of work work but also a standing room only subway ride.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

First Day at School and Other Firsts

Almost everything we do these days is a first but today was special. It was my son Kelby's first day at his Japanese kindergarten. We had originally planned to have the kids attend an English language school but I miscalculated the distance. Happily we found a wonderful school just up the hill from our house in Miyamae, Kawasaki.

Today was the first day of the winter term. My daughter Fiona also started but only two days a week in the morning. Considering how different everything is and that only some of the teachers speak some English, my kids did pretty well. I had a hard time sleeping last night worrying about it all. After all, I am not used to being with my kids full time, let alone used to being with them in a place so different that just getting through an average day, feels like work. We've been here exactly 16 days but who is counting?

The gardener in me got some satisfaction Yesterday as we found what passes for Home Depot or OSH in these parts and I was able to buy three packs of seeds, some potting soil and a single pot of Johnny jump ups. I have also started a very small compost pile as of today, mostly made up of the greens from Daikon I picked up for 100 yen from a farm stand up the street. The fact that we have neighbor's with little garden plots is one of the real advantages of our little neighborhood. This time of year our options are limited to daikon, kale, leeks (or maybe these are just green onions on steroids) and mystery greens. But they are fresh and cheap and about as local as you can get.n

I found out that the top of daikon is sweeter than the bottom and that daikon is sweeter in winter because of the cold. I guess that is one good thing about the cold.

living in Japan