Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Finding My Feet Feb. 15th 2011

Finally it feels like I/we may  possibly be getting into the groove of things here in Tokyo - woo hoo!  G is enrolled in an international nursery and absolutely loves it.  He is playing soccer once a week at the Tokyo American Club (TAC) and does gymnastics on the weekends.  The soccer is hysterical to witness and the term "herding cats" does come to mind.  I made the rookie mistake of wearing inappropriate footwear -knee high equestrian boots anyone?  to the first class not understanding the amount of parental involvement required.  Now I know and Converse it is!   Knowing that it's genetically impossible for my child to be an Olympic gymnast as he's not exactly a petite flower, I take him to gymnastics to improve his coordination, balance and more importantly his confidence.  Generally a bit reticent in a new situation, he shocked the hell out of me and volunteered to be the first one to hang from the "high bar" - 4 feet off the ground and let the instructor help flip him over backwards.  Baby steps...literally.

My twice weekly Japanese lessons are still going strong.  Thus far we've covered - introducing yourself, how to order in a restaurant, how to shop (like I need help with this -ha!) - how to ask for a larger size, a more expensive item(ha again!), a different color etc. and finally the all important taxi cab vocabulary.  My sensei, Ichikawa-san is a huge advocate of visual learning so all of these lessons are accompanied by cut out pictures of items.  Ie:  a large pizza vs a small pizza, different colored sneakers, an expensive watch, car, handbag vs a cheap watch, car, handbag.  In our last lesson we utilized a large fold out map, a matchbox car and I was asked to request, while making the car move around the map natch, that the cab driver stop at the next corner, the 2nd intersection, at the hospital, the bank, make a left...you get the idea.   On a positive note, she informed that she believes I could be semi-fluent in 2-3 years...if my head doesn't explode before then of course.

The whole family has started taking advantage of our membership at TAC.  I've been attending a Core Conditioning class every Monday morning that I really like and The Husband and I have been making a concerted effort to go to the gym every weekend.  I guess he wants a Cameron Diaz bikini body by summer too.  TAC offers a childcare option so we can drop G off for an hour or so to play in a supervised environment while we work out and then afterwards we can all grab lunch at one of the onsite restaurants.  I was ecstatic to discover the well stocked library with English books (difficult to procure here and if found, ridiculously expensive) for both adults and children.  Just finished The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb and loooovved it.   There is a small group of women, myself included, that has decided to start up a new book club/book exchange that I'm really looking forward to and will be lobbying for One Day as our first book.  If you haven't read it, pick it up!

Last week we attending a wine tasting benefit for The Tyler Foundation which works to make life easier for children and families battling childhood cancer here in Japan.  http://www.tylershineon.org/
Expats Kimberly Forsythe and Mark Ferris founded the charity after their son Tyler was diagnosed with leukemia at less than 1 month old.  He lived for 23 months , spending most of the time in hospital undergoing treatment.  The Tyler Foundation provides counselling and support for parents, a therapy dog - Bailey, a Beads of Courage program for children undergoing the treatment and a Shine On! house (similar to the Ronald McDonald house in the US) where families can stay, rather than a hotel, while their child undergoes treatment.  It is a fantastic charity providing a much needed support system here in Japan and one which with I hope to become more involved.

Must run as today is sick day number 2 for G.  Upper respiratory infection with fever and cough.  Viral so "just let it run it's course".  I learned two lessons yesterday (sick day number 1):  pouring Listerine mouthwash on the 15 year old cat "to wash Riley's bum bum" does not make anyone happy.  And secondly, a spoonful of sugar may make the medicine go down, but a spoonful of honey makes my child projectile vomit.  Fun times in the big city, until next time...


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