Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Getting a Flu Jab

I don't want to open up a big discussion here about whether one should get a flu jab when pregnant or not. No horror "hear say" stories either, thanks.

Well flu season is fast approaching us here in Japan, if it isn't here already. I have never caught the flu (as far as I know, could have just thought it was a cold). Last year we had a scare when DH came down with it but my quick thinking saved the day and I whisked him off to a dr where he got treated straight away and we were both given tamiflu, so his case was not so bad and I was fine.

This year is a bit of a different story with my current situation. I come into rather close contact with many different people due to my teaching job and also small children who don't cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. Mostly it annoys me that so many adults will inflict their sick selves of others by going to an English lesson when they are not well.
Also, having never had a flu shot I was a bit worried about getting one for the first time ever. Not because of the pain, just because I am now responsible for 2 lives instead of just my one. After consulting with a friend who is a specialist in infectious diseases (Isn't that what you do A?) and has cared for pregnant women in critical condition due to catching the flu, I decided that I needed to get my jab.

Then I had to figure out where one would go to do that?

First stop, demand that DH call my Obstetrician's clinic and ask if they do it. No they don't. Look up on internet. Find city hall website listing all clinics that give flu jabs. Each clinic also specifies who they give jabs to. Only some internal doctors give pregnant women the jabs, some gynecologists/obstetricians do, though not the one I am currently going to.

So tomorrow I am off to see Dr Mumbler again to get my shot as his clinic is on the list for pregnant women. I haven't seen him since before my 2 week wait, so I'm looking forward to reporting that all those trips to his clinic finally paid off. I'm sure he has missed seeing my smiling face once a week. Though I can't say I have missed trying to figure out what he was saying.....oh and his clinic is right across the road from Mossburger....yay!

Monday, 29 November 2010

First trip to the vet and first bath

Today Sebastian and I went off to the vet, to get his second shot. We were told one month after the last one by the breeder and various books so off we went.
When we got there I was relieved to see that the shortage of doctors in our city does not extend to animals and that there was only 2 other people in the surgery. The nurse was very friendly and so was the vet when we got to meet him. He had a very gentle way with Sebastian and Sebastian was very well behaved for him. He gave him the once over and apart from his ears declared him healthy. Then he gave me some special liquid to pour into his ears every day to help get rid of the gunk and so the ears will almost clean themselves. Then he explained that he would like us to wait another week to get the shot as Sebastian's mother's immunity would still be in his system. So we go back next week. In the mean time he has to take some medicine just in case he has been bitten by an insect that can end up with him having a kind of tape worm grow in he heart! Cripes. The vet took a lot of time to explain about each thing to me and in the end I almost passed out from standing up at the exam table. So I had to explain to him that I needed to sit down and that I was with child. He was a bit mortified that he hadn't offered me a chair sooner. But of course he would never have known as I'm still not really showing.

Then when we got home my friend Y and her daughter came over and gave Sebastian his first bath whilst I helped. Talk about a drowned rat. I had no idea how skinny he really is without all that fluffy fur (vet says he is good size though), so it was a bit of a shock. I took some photos which I will upload as soon as my computer co-operates. Then he got dried and brushed and trimmed in a few places. So now he is a big ball of fluff and I can see his eyes properly which is a big improvement. Through all of this Sebastian was doing his poor me shaking and whining. But seemed to get over it quickly and didn't hold a grudge against Y for doing that to him.
A drowned rat!

Yes? Can I help you?

Back to his normal self

So he has had a HUGE day in puppy terms. I'm exhausted too!

Y also bought me a supply of winter maternity clothes which will come in very handy in a few more weeks time. After explaining my sheer joy of going to Mossburger yesterday and cravings for stew and Japanese curry and rice she reckons that it is a boy. Just thought I would record that so we can see if she is right in a few months.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Sebastian's worst day ever

Yesterday started out as a normal day for Sebastian, breakfast was a little late being served due to the fact that mum overslept a bit. It was a productive morning. Pooping 3 different times in 3 different places in the living room. Then Sebastian was well behaved whilst I baked in the kitchen, dutifully searching for tidbits that occasionally magically fell to the floor.

In the afternoon Sebastian spent some time in the entrance with me whilst I arranged the flowers from yesterday's Ikebana. There is a big step up in the entrance and Sebastian's inquisitiveness eventually got the better of him and he ended up with his front paws at the bottom of the step and his back paws still on the top of the step. Doing a kind of "downward facing dog" yoga pose if you will. Luckily mum was there to save the day, though Sebastian got quite a fright and was a little scared for a few minutes after that.

Then in the evening, my friend Y popped over with her daughter to meet Sebastian and to help me with his grooming regime. Y has trained as a dog groomer so I feel very very lucky to know her at them moment as she showed me yesterday how to do various things. First we clipped the hair that grows out from between the pads on his feet. Not so much sliding around on the floor now. We also clipped his nails which were getting very long since he still can't go outside and wear them down. Then she had a look in his ears. I had noticed he had been scratching his ears lately and though I looked into them, I didn't really know what I was looking at. Turns out that schnauzers need their ear hair plucked. Just the short fluffy bits that almost block their ears and can be a breeding ground for bacteria and collect gunk. Poor Sebastian. He didn't seem to enjoy having his ear hair plucked, nor his feet shaved or toe nails clipped. But that's life when you are a schnauzer. Next week he will be getting his first bath (thank god) and not sure what else Y has planned for him. I had hoped to not have to take him to a dog grooming salon as I wanted to do it myself but it does seem complicated and since he is not used to any of these things yet it is a two person job!

Then he had dinner and played for a while, then I put him in his pen and went upstairs to start work. After about half an hour I thought I heard DH come home. Then I heard this really loud barking that Sebastian does when he is waiting for his dinner and is almost beside himself with desperation and excitement. I just about went down to see what DH was doing that was making Sebastian get so worked up but I didn't have much time between lessons so I couldn't.
Then a little later I heard DH really come home and exclaim about something. Uh oh.
When I went down during a short break I had between lessons I found out that Sebastian had worked out how to escape from his pen and had pooped in the living room in a couple of different places and then managed to smear it all over the floor. Poor DH had to clean it up and then try to eat his dinner.
So DH was NOT happy about that little welcome home present and I was upset that I was upstairs the whole time and should have come down and checked...epic fail as a puppy mum. We have fixed his escape route for now. His crate/house with bed in it was pushed up against the open door of his pen. On top of the crate was a box with all the junk one needs for a puppy but with Sebastian getting bigger and heavier he was able to push the crate away from the side of his pen and slip out the gap. Now there is a big heavy bag of toilet sheets on top and non slip rubber underneath to stop further breakouts.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

This Week's Ikebana

Today was my last Ikebana for a few weeks. Next month, I only have one lesson and we will be making a christmas wreath for my front door then.

Today we practiced for the test for next month. We used roses, red sticks and something else which I don't know what it is called but was very fluffy and cute.

Anyway, here is what I made

And here is what my teacher had on display in her entrance and I just took a picture of it.

Sebastian stayed home by himself and was very pleased when I came home and demanded to be let out. We spent the afternoon clearing up and I even baked an apple loaf whilst he hung around in the kitchen and played with random cardboard boxes and hunted for treats that I occasionally threw to him. I thought he had been really good at not weeing on the floor....he somehow managed to pee twice without me noticing. *sigh* I can't wait to be able to take him outside for the toilet when he gets bigger.
What a bad mother I am, giving him an empty yogurt pottle to lick clean and it got stuck on his face because of all the fur, which then got covered in yogurt. No more empty yogurt pottles for Sebastian. Which is a pity because his cousin Sam (a black Labrador my family in NZ has) often gets to lick the empty yogurt container and he loves it.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Big News in Gaijin Housewife Land

So now I can officially come out and say that I am nearly 12 weeks pregnant. Hooray!

Obviously a decrease in the regularity of posts can not only be blamed on Sebastian but also my tiredness and feeling sick and not wanting to spill the beans to ya'all before the recommended time.

I know a lot of you have read my ravings posts about how frustrated I was with not being able to get pregnant straight away, the hormone induced bouts of craziness from taking fertility drugs, the many many visits to Dr Mumbler etc. I am so very grateful to be able to move on from that. Though I certainly haven't forgotten how hard it was.
I was considering not sharing the news at all, not sure why I suddenly felt like being all private - being private is not something I am particularly good at - but then I remembered how many of my faithful readers had been supportive and shared their experiences with me. So I decided to broadcast it to the entire internet ; ).

Details? Well I spent my birthday crying my eyes out because I was sure that this month was another failure and that the cramping I was having was because AF was on the way. The next day, still no AF and so I did a test - usually I don't bother as it's pretty obvious that I'm not - and how surprised was I to see that line? How still surprised was I when my temperature continued to stay high for another week and went to the dr and saw a little blob on the ultrasound and it's little heart beating away? So it was real, I hadn't made it all up in my head! Of course my Mum and DH's parents were very very excited to hear about their first grand child - no pressure or anything kid!

So, so far so good and fingers and toes crossed that it continues to be that way. Sometimes I really do wonder how on earth it all worked out like this. I spent my 2 week wait moving house, carrying heavy things, working physically much much harder than I ever usually do, cleaning like crazy, going down to Tokyo etc and somehow even with doing all that it still worked out.
I am feeling pretty normal these days aside from the cravings for certain comfort foods and feeling tired and bloated. I didn't get too much morning sickness which I am very grateful for and I only had "Eating morning sickness" - according to my dr -which is when you feel sick and then eat something and feel better for a while, feel sick, eat, feel better, repeat. So I did a lot of eating. In Japan the recommended weight gain for a person with a normal BMI is 7-8 kilos. The nurses at the clinic I go to now have been generous and let me have that as my guide line....*sigh* lets see how we go with that! I don't want to let it stress me out but sometimes it does. Let's hope now I am spending less time lying on the couch and more time feeling good I will be able to be a lot more active than I have these last few months. Last week I had an ultrasound and saw the baby waving its arms and legs! I still can't feel anything so it is amazing to me that there is something moving around in my tummy at all. DH is having a hard time feeling involved and is constantly asking my tummy if there really is anyone in there!

Sebastian is also doing well, he was very well behaved with our friend's children and didn't try to bite them or anything. He has learnt how to do "down", go to his "house" and is working on "stay" and is getting used to his harness and lead for when we go out for walks in a couple weeks.
Of course his success rate is not 100% but still about 70% so that is good. Unfortunately he has also discovered that wet laundry in the basket is an excellent source of amusement. He likes to remove as many items as he can and then drag them around the room....I guess the floor is kind of getting a clean. He seems to be teething or something as his chewing has gotten quite frantic these last few days. I put his kong in the freezer for a while so he will have something that might numb his gums for him a bit.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

What was with the weird blog post today?

Well someone hacked my email account or something and sent random messages to everyone in my contacts including the email address that lets me post to blogger. So I immediately changed my password and I hope that is the end of it. Sorry to those people who got emails from me trying to sell them viagra (DH got one of those) or other such nonsense. I am not turning my hand at becoming a professional spammer, I promise.

Today was Ikebana day and I made a nice arrangement to put in the middle of a dining table, that can be viewed from all sides. I kind of went a bit wild with it and made quite a voluminous one.

My teacher's arrangement
Today I also went to my local supermarket/shopping centre which has a brand new garden centre/pet store that just opened. I was looking forward to it, but in the end it was just crowded, no good bargains really and I had to walk for miles with my heavy shopping bags just to get back to the car. Not happy. Give me back my supermarket!

Today Sebastian was having a bit of a rebellious day, testing the limits I guess you could say. He ended up in "time out" quite a few times for biting and screamed blue murder when I put him in his pen whilst I went up stairs to talk to my sister on Skype. Tonight, he got terribly excited when he discovered a piece of honeydew melon skin on the coffee table....he's not tall enough to see what's up there but he could smell it. He found some drops of melon juice on the kitchen floor the other day and must have developed a taste for it, so we let him lick the leftover bit of fruit. That would have kept him busy until next week. Will have to make sure he brushes his teeth now!
DH's friends are coming over Sat night with their two children 3 and 4 years old, I am worried that Sebastian might nip them and make them scared of dogs since he is still just a baby (though he seemed more like a teenager today) and still learning what and how hard he can bite. I guess a piece of melon skin might come in handy as a distraction!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Winter is here, rock on night store heater!

This morning we woke to our first frost of the winter. Last winter I don't remember any frosts. It wasn't that cold, but we did get way more snow than usual as it was a damp winter. This morning was more like the kind of winter this area is famous for. Brilliant freezing cold morning and beautifully sunny all day with freezing cold wind. DH went to work about 7:30am I think and it was 1degree. There was a 9 car fender bender near his work as lots of cars slid on icy roads. I on the other hand was toasty and warm in our house which has a super sonic night store heater. I think if we didn't have it we would be feeling very sorry for ourselves as we have high ceilings and open spaces making it hard for a heat pump or a kerosene heater to keep the place warm. I also don't have to worry that Sebastian will turn into a puppy shaped Popsicle overnight.

Today Sebastian and I worked on playing fetch. At first he was kind of uncoordinated about it. I would throw this little chew bone for him and he would chase it but not slow down in time to actually pick it up and run right by, then come careering back to me to get a pat. After a few more goes he figured out how to scoop it up as went by and come back carrying the bone! We are still working on giving it up when he gets back to me but he is learning fast. I showed DH the new trick when he got home from work and he was suitably impressed. Later after I had come up stairs to work, DH tried to do fetch with Sebastian but apparently he wasn't interested in playing along. Could be have been too late for fetch? or just Sebastian prefers to play fetch with Mum? ;) He (Basti) is very enthusiastic about it which is great as it tires him out really well - the best kind of puppy is tired puppy.

Sick of hearing about Sebastian? I apologise, but that is the main thing that is keeping me busy these days. Tomorrow, my Japanese teacher (who you will remember is a lovely women/kind of host mother who took me to see the amazing cherry blossoms last Spring) is coming over to see my house for the first time. I haven't seen her since Summer and so it will be exciting to show her round and introduce her to Sebastian - she loves dogs, so I'm sure he will be a hit. And SHE is bringing ME lunch! All I have to do is tidy up! Easier said than done but good motivation to get things done as some friends of DH's are coming this weekend for a small housewarming party with their children. Should be crazy!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Morning Market Expedition

Today is Sunday. I set my alarm to wake up at 6am. Why on earth would one want to wake up at 6am on a Sunday voluntarily? Well today is the "morning market" day in our neighbourhood. My Ikebana teacher often tells me about how she has been to it and now we have moved to the neighbourhood I am able to get there early enough.

So this morning DH and I got up and trudged off down the road to the market. It was a good 15 minute walk but the weather wasn't too cold so it was refreshing and lovely to walk around at that time of the morning when it is so peaceful. DH even consented to hold my hand whilst we walked which he usually never does in public unless we are out of town and won't be seen by anyone we know. Holding hands = too embarrassing!

I knew the market would be small but when we got there it was a lot smaller than I had thought -perhaps because it's getting on to winter now. There were a few people selling vegetables which looked nice, unfortunately I have more than enough vegetables in my house that the only thing I bought was some pumpkin. There is a cake shop that sells things but they didn't have anything I wanted. So we came home with a quarter of a pumpkin. We took a different route home which was really pretty and passed a bread shop that was surprisingly open at 7am, although they hadn't finished baking all their different types of bread yet we were able to find some niceish things for our breakfast. That was a really nice feeling going to a bread shop first thing in the morning again like we used to in Germany and then coming home to eat it straight away. The quality of the bread was not the best and no Bretzels to be found, but it was the act that was nice/nostalgic.

When we got home, Basti had shown his protest at being a) left alone and b) practically starving for his breakfast - even though he would be lucky to get it by 7:30 most days anyway - by pulling his bed out of his house. I was hoping to take him with us in the sling but first thing in the morning is prime toilet time so not a good time to be taking him out. It was a bit further than I imagined, so I'm glad we left him at home. After breakfast Basti had a great run around and played for ages and is now snoring peacefully. I think DH and I will be going that was soon too after all the excitement of this morning.

And finally: Sebastian brushing his teeth!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

A small benefit of a getting a puppy

Is that the people in my neighbourhood are much more friendly to me when we are out walking together.

Usually, when I go out for a walk by myself I try to say hello to people in my area and especially to the people that live near me as that is the thing to do. I get a 50% response rate from people who don't live near me. Some people say hello back, others seem to think I am about to rob them and hurry by without saying anything. That makes me a bit depressed.

This afternoon Basti and I were out for a stroll - well I was strolling, Basti was riding along in a sling I have made from a shawl (that is supposedly OK, even though he hasn't had all his shots yet). First we went past a neighbour at the end of street who was out mowing his lawn and he stopped, turned the mower off and came over to chat about Basti. He also told me how nice our lawn is looking now we actually have one. Obviously a lawn fanatic like my own father.
Then we headed off down the street, round the corner and an old man came along on a bike with his two grandchildren following along behind on theirs. They called out a cheerful hello and stopped to chat about Basti. I let the kids pat him and the old man was talking in baby talk to him. Very funny. So we headed off again and I realised that Basti probably needed to pee as he was making noises when usually he doesn't during our walks and trying to climb out of his sling. So we turned around and came home and a little boy riding past on his bike gave us a big cheerful hello and looked like he would loved to have stopped too. Turns out I was right about the pee, what a trooper holding it in till we got home.

I wish I had gotten a puppy a long time ago. A great way to break the ice with people so they realise I am a friendly, Japanese speaking foreigner who is a member of their community not a recently escaped prisoner or something.

So from now on I won't leave the house without him! ; )

Make your Japanese more Positive and This week's Ikebana, Basti Photos

As you may remember I get a lot of "wisdom" from lunch time television.

Today I learnt what to say when a friend is bad mouthing someone you know/like in front of you without causing a scene.
Since no-one wants to cause a scene, apparently it is best to just say はひふへほ as in Haa. Heee. Hooo. These are all listening sounds in Japanese much like Uh huh and mmmm in English.

Anyway something that I learnt today that I thought might be of interest to other people grappling with speaking Japanese was
How to sound more positive.

Instead of staying これでいい。 Say これいい。
 This will do ->This is good.

Instead of saying どれでもいいよ ー> どれでもいい
Any of them is fine. -> They are all good, aren't they.

I'll try it but it looks difficult -> It looks difficult, but I'll give it a try.

あの人に悪口に言われた。 ->あの人悪口言っていた
I was complained to by that person -> That person complained to me. (sorry, not the best translation).

Often, I am not completely aware of the effect of the words I am saying, they just kind of tumble out and I know I have occasionally said something a bit inappropriate, but I hope my Japanese speaking friends will forgive me my mistakes!

Anyway on to Ikebana.

Today we practiced for the test that is next Sunday morning. This week we used Eucalyptus, Kangaroo Paw and Carnations. I enjoyed making this "In Line Style" as it is one of my favourite styles.

This is what my teacher made. She has used a different kind of vase so the dimensions of the arrangement are a little different.

And unrelated to Ikebana, here is a picture of Basti, I took yesterday after the latest box of melons from the PILs arrived.

Basti, budding food inspector!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

And so it starts.

Uh oh. DH and I have discovered how nice it is having a room and whole bed to yourself....

DH caught a cold last week on Friday, so he has been galantly sleeping in our spare room since then so as not to pass it on to me. Our spare bed is actually our old bed from our apartment, we bought a new one when we moved to our house. The old bed is very comfy and a queensize.

So tonight, I inquired if DH would be returning to our room tonight.

DH:"Do you think I should come back...?".

Me: "I don't know....Are you feeling better?"

DH: " Hmmm..."

Me: "You just like sleeping in the big bed all by yourself, don't you"

DH: *grins sheepishly*

Me: "Well I have to admit I have been sleeping well without your musical snoring performance every night. Especially since you still have a head cold....maybe best not to come back tonight".

DH: "Yeah, maybe we should give it another night...".

So it starts. Separate sleeping arrangements. At least we are both enjoying the space, peace and comfort for now. I like not being woken up by his alarm in the morning and he likes not being kept awake by me working in my office area late at night when he wants to sleep. I also like having a whole bed cover to myself, no waking up frozen because someone has stolen it.
At least now we can both have our own rooms and beds if we want, before when one of us got really sick the healthy one had to sleep on a blow up bed crammed into the living room. That wasn't much fun.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sebastain: Update

So some of you might be wondering how we are getting along here with Sebastian (Basti). Well he has been a pretty good wee dog so far, which is wonderful (touch wood).
He sleeps all night without making a peep and can stay home alone and snooze happily when I have to go out.

He has not had a chance to destroy anything of value, though curtains look particularly inviting to him and one of my plush manicure toe separator thingees is now a dearly loved chew toy. Come to think of it, he is getting quite a collection of things that smell like feet, especially DH's old worn out socks.

He is becoming increasingly stealth at pooping where we can't easily grab him to put him in his toilet area. Eg. under the coffee table, dining chairs etc.

He likes brushing his teeth. Well I hold the toothbrush and he chews on the bristles. This is a good start I think.

He is getting really good at manoeuvring on our hardwood floor, can skid to a stop and corner well. He likes to take a flying leap at whoever is calling him to come, which is terribly cute and endearing whilst he is so tiny and weighs less than a kilo, but may become a problem when he is bigger!

He is more excited to see me than DH....for now. I am his source of food, cuddles and games. DH, not so much.

DH told me that their afternoon went something like this:

DH takes Basti out to play for a few minutes, then puts him back in his pen as he looks like he might pee.
After a few minutes of no peeing, takes Basti out again, plays for a few minutes then puts him back to as he looks like he might pee.
DH goes to take him out again, but Basti has had enough now and just looks at him from his bed as if to say: Think I'll pass mate.

Oh well. I am becoming a champion at spotting fresh pee in the toilet area although it's not often he manages to do it without me seeing as I watch him like a hawk to reward him for a job well done as soon as possible with a treat and a game.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Things Sebastian and I have learnt

It has been a tough couple of days. My old schedule which was pretty much do what I want when I want except for when I have to go to work, is of course now gone. Now I get up at 6am and supervise a puppy's toileting and breakfast.

Over the last few days I have learnt that toys made from junk you have in your own house are much better than any you will ever pay for in a store.
We have spent over 1,000 yen on various toys but none are as loved and consistently played with as an old sock of DH's, some torn up paper tied with a piece of string and the most favourite of all toys, the empty plastic bottle. How thankful I am for empty plastic bottles.

Another thing I have learnt is that he still likes to needle and mouth things when he is tired. This makes him go off to sleep like a light. Luckily his bed is kind squishy and fluffy perfect for needling and mouthing and therefore also a big favourite, as is my polar fleece which is now covered in puppy slobbers

I have also learnt that when he runs off somewhere far away from where we are playing and then bounds twice like a rabbit, he is going to let rip with some pee. We have had a lot of accidents. But I am learning slowly.

Sebastian has learnt that his food is kept in the pantry and the yummy things always come from the kitchen so he likes to try his luck and go into the kitchen and then stare at me as if to say: Well I'm here. Where's my food?

And DH? Well for him, Sebastian is an excellent photographic challenge. Digital cameras are useful in that you can delete the 20 or so blurry photos and leave the one or two that turned out well enough. He has also started playing with a kind of photo editing software and produced this masterpiece: A close up of Sebastian's nose in oil painting style