Will & Tracy

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Part II - The Lords of the Underworld Awaken

See Part I in the previous blog....

Since I didn't have the greatest night sleep last night (where did the sleeping 7 hours a night babyFinn go to?) - and since Will has morning duty with the kiddo, I was trying sleeping in a bit, I had cracked open my eye and saw it was 6:45am and thought - oh good, I can get at least another 30 minutes of snooze time in (yes 715am is sleeping in - shut up) .... then a few minutes later my bed starts shaking slightly and I think "I wish Will would be more careful about trying to 'sneak in' to get something from the room." I crack open my eye again...you know... enough to give him a dirty look (ok a sweet dirty look)... and realize he is not there and the bed is still shaking a bit. Arrhhh?? I'm awake now and wonder if what I'm thinking is what I'm feeling.

I get up and find Will and Finn in the kitchen. I asked - "did you feel that?" - and he said - "oh well, I thought you just hit the wall getting out of bed and that was why the spoons/pot on the wall swayed." What, have I become some kind of super hero that I can make the walls shake now? So I'm thinking maybe "bring it on" in the last blog was not the best choice of words if I was not really wanting to challenge the lords of the underworld, but I still didn't want to believe it.

As Will is playing with Finn and pretty much ignoring my anxiety, I'm desparately searching on the internet for confirmation that we did in fact have an earthquake around here. No sirens went off and the gas didn't turn off (which I was told would happen if there was a major earthquake - defined as 5.0 or above for the Japanese), so that was a little bit of a relief but have I become *this* crazy? That's a rhetorical, don't answer that.

I finally found the US geological website about earthquakes (which is now of course bookmarked) and it lists all the earthquakes around the world in the last 7 days at magnitude 2.5 or above - okay - the list is pretty impressive - I had no idea how many earthquakes happen every day. But I did find one in Japan at the exact time on the clock that I felt ours. It was about 80 miles away, but it was pretty shallow (only about 6 miles deep) which is probably why we felt it. So, after many weeks of dreaming about it - the anticipated, dreaded event happened and it wasn't that bad. But to the lords of the underworld - I get it - I got it - I'm satisfied with my earthquake experience so you all can go back to sleep (unlike me) for a long while - like until after January 2011.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Part I -Disaster training- The "Oh Sh*t training for foreigners"

I realize that in every part of the world there natural disasters. In the US I've lived where there are tornados and hurricanes and yes, I still go on with every day life. Moving to China - there were more man-made potential disasters to watch out for than natural, but I went on with daily life there as well - and lived to tell the tales... Therefore, I'm not sure why I was so overly panicky about moving to Japan because as I told my husband ..."but honey, they have earthquakes thar', and then the guilt trip... 'do you really want our son to live in 'the ring of fire'." In the first couple of weeks I swore I woke up a half dozen times thinking that every little jolt was a major earthquake - instead it was probably just my husband's gas or my snoring that woke me up. This fear is compounded by the fact that the language barrier is once again high and now that I have a kid, it was even more worrisome on how to figure out how to call the police or ambulance if we needed help.

To try to alleviate this fear and to possibly meet some foreigners, I agreed to attend a disaster training class for foreigners this past weekend that my "darling husband" found online. They supposedly had a simulator there so you could actually feel what a 7.0 earthquake felt like. Great, scare the shit out of the foreigners even more.

I arrived to find about 6 in my group - great - an Italian couple who have lived in Japan for 3 years and speak Japanese (why are they even here), a single older Brit gentleman and a 25 year old woman from the US (prospective friend?? yes yes) - that is a full time teacher about an hour outside of Osaka (no no). All in the group had been in Japan at least a year or two and spoke some level of Japanese. Grrr. Oh well, at least the Japanese instructor that lived in Southern California for a while was entertaining. The class was in fact in Japanese with videos and simulators and the Japanese dude just stood behind us and translated. It was actually very high tech with full scaled models of towns, etc...so at least I wasn't sitting in a classroom all afternoon. We moved over to the simulator and first experienced the 7.0 earthquake that they had in Kobe 12 years ago - yeah it rattled my teeth, but wasn't too bad - I can handle this I thought. Then they had to start with the fear tactics - which of course worked - "The next one you will feel it an 8.4 magnitude quake .... and then added .... researchers feel that an earthquake of at least 8 will hit this area in the next 30 years! SAY WHAT! Oh yeah and that there is a fault line that runs through the center of Osaka. Are you KIDDING me? Yeah yeah - I call bullshit on all of those people that told me : " Well if you had to live anywhere in an earthquake zone wouldn't you want to be in Japan?" I mean really - what kind of reasoning is this....

So as we go from simulation to simulation, the fear is growing rather than being alleviated - they want me to make a practice phone call to the emergency number. I'm thinking "Oh, great, if they have this type of simulation for foreigners, surely they have an English speaking line that I wasn't aware of." Yeah, that would be a no. They said (and the others confirmed) that there *may* be someone who can speak a little bit of English, but don't count on it. I am making mental notes at this point to learn the words/phrases for "ambulance, fire, help and get me the hell out of this country." Please note that I do realize that I am living in foreign country - that would be Japan - and no the entire world does not revolve around English only speaking Americans. We need to get over that people. Except me in my crisis drama mode of course.

After the class, do I feel prepared to handle an Earthquake? Well... I know how to use a fire extinguisher and about 10 different ways to use a plastic grocery bag as a first aid tool. Do I think hiding under the IKEA plywood dining table is really going to save Finn and I from falling debris? No, but at least I have a two-tone plastic blanket and a book full of Japanese phone numbers as my free parting gifts - oh yeah and a completion certificate telling me that I can now handle a disaster (well at least that is what I think it says in Japanese). Actually, I really do feel a little more prepared - being in Japan is probably one of the more safer countries to be in for any natural disaster - and gosh they are so darn nice and helpful that I trust they will help in anyway they can. Bring it on...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Morphing into motherhood....

My first thought on this blog's title was "molting into motherhood," but that gave me visions of gore with my arm falling off and being replaced by an extra nipple to feed my 90th%tile child with...however, more realistically/subconsciously I probably just meant I was/am in dire need of a pedicure... can feet molt? Mine should.

Anyway...Morphing sounded like an "easier, gentler" transition and not quite so melodramatic - hello, so not me... but in thinking about the last, gasp, almost 5 months, I had some thoughts and actions of my new adventures in mommyhood that caught my fancy that I wanted to remember and laugh at some day.

Things I’ve learned about about me and parenthood…thus far

10. Stating the obvious first – whoa, it’s tough! 1. You all weren’t kidding on the sleep deprivation. 4 hours+ in a row is now considered fabulous! 2. Why I thought I could do this whole motherhood thing half way around the world is beyond me. If we survive and have #2 (don't hold your breath grandparents), I know the Grandmas will be closer than a 14 hour plane ride fo sho.

9. Dude, can I produce M-I-L-K or what…

8. A good babysitter (that also can clean) is priceless.

7. I never ever thought I would be one of those women that made their own baby food (then again, what else do I have to do and the Japanese offering of Cod and rice cereal doesn’t sound appetizing even for me at this point). And, uh, ditto on using cloth diapers on occasion. Granted the closest I’ve come to gagging was when changing it for the first time and it was only a #1 diaper. Not sure what will happen when #2 decides to appear in one of these things. Now it seems I’m not really sure how to define “those women” anymore because I’m still certainly not one of “them.”

6. Along the same lines…we are now one of “those” parents who have recently submitted Finn’s application to preschool in Austin for either the Fall 2010 or Spring 2011 semester...yes, we paid a freakin' application fee. Talk to baby daddy.

5. What can you accomplish in 45 minutes? We are amazed at how efficient we have become with our 45 minutes, (cooking, cleaning, laundry - no the housekeeper doesn't do it all) when that is all babyFinn will nap at any one time.

4. The importance of the semi-automated “bottle warmer.” The bottle warmer which I had previously thought was …yeah, put in on the baby shower list and not worry if I got it or not...to wow, what a versatile appliance. We seriously have used it for the obvious of warming up a bottle and baby food, but our “off-label” uses include: warming maple syrup and melting butter for Sunday morning pancakes; however, I think our most ingenious idea came when I realized the sake carafe fits nicely in there to heat up adult drinks as well! …Replacement for a microwave?.. dare I say yes (I say that only because we really don’t have one)! So I apologize for my lack of mommy memory, but whoever gave me this priceless piece of equipment, I should bring you back some jewels from the orient. **If anyone has any other possible uses for this magical machine, please pass it on.

3. That I can survive being sick (with an actual fever!) and taking care of the kiddo who didn’t seem to think spending the day in bed with mommy was all that entertaining and thus we didn’t.

2. Will’s “Trifecta of Ps “ – you mustn’t walk around with more than one of the following on your being at any one time: Poo, Pee, any type of Projectile fluid coming out of your baby. Dare I say I have been successful in following said rule; however, I have gone to bed with dried pee on my shirt (not intentially) and just the other morning Will asked if I had already fed Finn his pumpkin for breakfast .. I said, "Duh, honey, no..... he usually eats apples/oatmeal cereal for breakfast and pumpkin/sweet potato/rice cereal for dinner, why do you ask? (and no he was not kidding). Fear not, I do have a feeling one day soon I will break this rule.

1. Don’t believe the adult (especially a male adult) who has no children when they tell you a restaurant is “stroller friendly.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Babysitting in the 21st century

All this may be cliche to those old hat experienced parental units out there, but once again this is my blog and my new adventures in mommy hood and this last week posed a new challenge for me...Finn's first non-relative/close friend babysitting experience. Finn and I both survived the experience, but I do admit he probably did better than my knotty stomach did for the 3.25 hours we were gone and gasp... 39 minutes away.

In looking back at my own personal babysitting history, I think I was 12, yes, 12 when I had my first babysitting gig. Yes, it was for a friend of my parents and I was a mere 1/4 mile from my parents home should things get a little sticky - or wet in the case of my first attempt at using cloth diapers with pins on this kid (another story). But TWELVE YEARS OLD? I don't care how responsible they think I was at the time (and I was pretty responsible) - I was TWELVE! I could barely handle leaving Finn with a 45 year old woman who had grown kids of her own, much less a 12 year old kid. My friend's daughter assured me that now a days you can take babysitting classes and become a "certified" babysitter - somewhat reassuring, but you are still leaving your child in the hands of a 12 year old.

The second observation is, well, inflation. Lets see - I was 12 years old 24 years ago and at that time I started out at $1/hr! By the time I was in high school, 5-6 years later, I had a *phat* gig at $5/hr (unheard of). My last babysitting job was while in nursing school in 2002 for a nurse friend of mine and she told me she was paying me a minimum of $7/hr and I was cheap. I felt compelled to argue, but not too much - I was a poor college student again. Upon entering parenthood I was in the land of cheap labor - China - where my ayi cost me a whopping $3.50/hr. This of course was la la land and reality came back to bite me in the ass when we landed in Japan a month ago. Like any couple that still likes each other and wanted to stay liking each other, we decided we probably needed to invest in a date night every now and then. In looking at Japanese nanny services, we found that with membership (add in $350/year), the starting rate per hour is $24! If you did not want a membership, the rate was $34/hr. At that point I was like - maybe I should start babysitting Japanese kids!

In the end we were saved by our (uh, only) friends out in Kobe - their Filipino helper needed extra work and was willing to come in to Osaka to help us out one afternoon/evening a week. At $13.50/hr, her ability to speak English and most importantly her knowing the tune "Old McDonald Had a Farm," we figure we got pretty lucky. Now Mummy just needs to chill out and enjoy dinner with Daddy. Last week we had dinner at our Japanese Grandparents home (fabby meal by the way - Kimiko is an amazing cook), so this week is definitely dinner for two ...and how appropriate it is around Valentine's Day. I'm trying not to think about the fact that it will be Friday the 13th.