30 September, 2011

Celebrating with food

On Wednesday I had a lunch date with my husband. It was his birthday and a belated celebration of our wedding anniversary from the previous week.

As I pulled up on my bike outside the restaurant I found this. Lots of bikes, more to the point, Mamachari or "mum's chariots" everywhere. My guess was that there was a kindergarten mums class group gathered for lunch inside. It's something I've done myself. We didn't see them, because they were gathered in a private room inside, but you could see their shoes outside their room with lots of little ones to match the bikes outside.

Inside we enjoyed a lovely traditional meal and a peaceful hour together. Great way to celebrate 14 years of marriage and 40 years of living.

Tomorrow we'll have a different kind-of celebration. We've invited just a few friends to a Dessert Party at our house after dinner for David's birthday. I'm looking forward to it. I think it might be the first party I've ever thrown for my husband! After I sleep-in tomorrow morning (feeling very tired right now), I'll get down to making a few of our favourite desserts! Yum. Come back ?Sunday for some photos.

29 September, 2011

Neighbourhood photos

Here are a couple of photos from my neighbourhood, in fact less than a minute's walk from our house.

The first one is at the local Japanese primary school's swimming pool. Most everyone knows that in Japan you take your shoes off to go inside, isn't that right? But that strict boundary between "shoe on" and "shoe off" territory extends to many other areas. 
In this case, the kids all wore their shoes to this pathway, removed their shoes and walked along this temporary walkway to the pool (they probably changed into their swimmers in their classrooms). Neither would their shoes touch this walkway nor would their feet touch the ground. It is quite an art!

The second one is our local garbage station. These are dotted around the neighbourhood and are where you deposit your rubbish for collection. The Green bin is for burnable. Pink is for cans (like soft drink cans). Blue bin is for PET bottles. And the Blue baskets are for glass and other dangerous things like batteries. 

No wheelie bins here. We have no room on our property, let alone the road. If everyone put out bins as large as a wheelie bin on our road we'd have road congestion!

This fortnight it is our responsibility to look after the rubbish station. We have a community broom, tin bucket and disinfectant. After the "burnable" collection on Tuesday and Friday I've gone down and swilled some water in the green bins. There hasn't seemed to be much else to do, so I hope that that is all I'm required to do!

Sometimes it is the small things that make it different to Australia. Students still do swimming, residents still put out rubbish; but the difference is in the way it is done.

28 September, 2011

Passing on the Blog-love

Thank you to Janet from http://footprintsaustralia.com/blog/ for the Versatile Blogger Award. I've never heard of this award before, but apparently these are the rules for accepting the Versatile Blogger award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it.

Here are the seven things:

1. I've never had jet lag. People generally seem to think that missionaries are well travelled and most Japanese presume that foreigners (no matter where they come from) will have been to the US. I've never been further west than Singapore/Jakarta/Perth and never further east than the east coast of Australia. The furthermost north I've been is a an hour or so north of Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan and the furthermost south would be Port Arthur in Tasmania.

2. I've worn glasses for my distance vision since I was 17 years old. Not full-time, though, until I was about 22. And I hate wearing them before breakfast. Thankfully my vision isn't so bad that I cannot get around without them in a familiar environment. It was pretty scary, however, when I decided not to wear them to the shower on our camping trip last month. Stumbling through the dimness and lots of little buildings I had a terrible time locating the right place (not having gone there before). The next night I wore my glasses for the journey.

3. In Grade 12 I was part of a team that represented my school at a Team Mathematics Competition. We won, against all expectations. I went to a fairly low-class state school and we beat the posh private boys school (Toowoomba Grammar) whose team were buttoning up their blazers to accept the award. I must say that I was certainly the least competent on the team. I think all the other guys (yes, I was the only girl) went on to get TE scores of 990 (the top possible tertiary entrance score), but not me. 

4. I'm proudly left-handed. Unfortunately I have passed this notable trait onto none of my children. I'm always amused by people who've known me for a while being surprised when they see me write. Usually I get a shocked, "Oh, you're left-handed!!!"

5. I have two scars-of-stupidity. The first one is under my chin. When I was about 10 or 11 I was out swimming with a friend and her mother. I foolishly showed my friend's mother how you shouldn't stand on the edge of a swimming pool (on your toes with your heels hanging over the edge) and I promptly lost my balance. I didn't get stitches. Partly because my friend's mum put a butterfly Bandaid on it and partly because my sister sustained a pretty nasty bee sting on the same day that distracted my mother somewhat from my minor injury.
My second scar is on my knee and happened when I ran down a long wheelchair ramp, in the rain, to catch a train in Perth in 2004. I tripped on the flat bit that they put there so that someone in a manual wheelchair can make it up the ramp. I took out the knee of my jeans and a nice sized portion of skin too. It developed into a painful keloid scar, before settling down with some chemicals recommended by a plastic surgeon.

6. Only once have I managed an all-nighter. That is, stayed up all night. And it wasn't for studying. It was our end-of-year-12 party. When I lived at a women's only residential college at university, in my fourth year I was one of the senior students entrusted with locking-up at midnight (and supposedly chasing the boys out). I don't think I ever made it to lock-up time without going to sleep for a little while (with my trusty alarm on).

7. I've rolled a car . . . and a ride-on mower. The mower happened when I was 15 and we were house-sitting for friends who lived on acreage. I mowed a slightly too steep slope and the mower gently tipped over, leaving the blades flashing around in the sunlight. My father was horrified. Thankfully I managed to jump free.

The car, well, that was harder to jump out of. On Mother's Day in my first year of working after university I was driving "home" to Kingaroy (country town of about 10,000 people) after visiting my folks for the weekend. I'd slept a little in the afternoon and was a little late in leaving (it was only a 1.5 hr drive), but I was a tad drowsy and it was dusk. A little kangaroo or wallaby happened to be sitting on the rural road (no houses in sight) and I swerved in my new-second -hand Mazda 121. After a couple of corrections with my power steering the car slid sideways down the road and rolled. It halted finally on the driver's side and still on the road. The next car that came along (a couple of minutes) were acquaintances from Kingaroy and helped me out of the car (not easy to climb out of a car in that position). They not only called the police, but gave me a lift into town. The car, however, was a write-off. I've not ever been able to live this down with my family, they ribbed me badly for quite a long time.

The recently discovered blogs is a little harder to manage. Looking down my list I realise that a lot of blogs I've looked at in the past aren't being updated regularly, if at all, unfortunately. Plus I've not been looking for new blogs recently. Might be something about trying to catch up after 11 weeks of kids at home on summer holidays! But here are some (not 15) that I love anyway:

  • Cath at http://davecath.blogspot.com/ Busy mum of four young ones, and wife to the one-time Dave. Dave's studying for the ministry at Moore in Sydney. Cath has a love of motherhood and homemaking. Her blog is beautiful.
  • Karen at http://karen-lifeactually.blogspot.com/ Karen will soon be a busy mum of four. She's an OT who loves to play the piano and ponder life on her blog from an introvert's perspective. Though I've never met her, we've come close and I look forward to doing so one day.
  • Jamie Jo at http://inreallifewithjamiejo.blogspot.com/ This really is a blog by and for missionaries, but you might enjoy the insight into different concerns. Jamie's recently talked about missionary dress sense!
  • Lego Quest by Sam at http://legoquestkids.blogspot.com/ Now this one is a recent discovery. A blog that puts up a monthly challenge to kids to build something original, send a photo and description in and they publish them. No competition, just the reward of being published on the web.
  • Melissa at http://melby2002.blogspot.com/ Melissa is another busy mum of four children (all girls). Her youngest has a rare form of diabetes. Melissa and her family looked after us so well when were we in Australia 09-10. I'm glad to be able to keep up with her in this way.
  • J at http://naughtbutgood.blogspot.com/ I've only met this lady once (over a fortnight's workshop). She's a former missionary to Japan, now married and living in farming country in the US. It is fascinating to see her view the US through eyes that have lived for a significant time overseas.
  • Mrs Q at http://sinksmummy.blogspot.com/ Another good friend with four kids. What is this with the number four? Love her and her family's quirky sense of humour.
  • KarenK at http://teachingincambodia-kk.blogspot.com/ Karen is a teacher/missionary in Cambodia. She's got strong connections in my hometown. It is great to hear of her adventures in a land quite different to Japan.

Now I am supposed to tell all these people that I've linked their blogs here? Might take a while.

27 September, 2011

Interesting conversations

Today started rather abruptly, with a breakfast guest. Well, he was an overnight guest, really, but didn't arrive until all of us except my husband were in bed. But we all got to meet him at breakfast. He was headed to school with my husband today as a guest. He's a mathematician and will speak to various middle and high school classes about using maths as a profession (I presume . . . ). He is ethnically Japanese, but grew up in Canada and he and his wife are now working in Japan. As we washed down our cereal with coffee, a couple of interesting things came up in our conversation.

The first is that he was delighted to find an OMF family who weren't church planters. Not that he doesn't think that church planting is a good thing, just that he recognises that other ministries and giftings are important too. His concept of OMF was that they only did Church Planting. So, now we've opened his eyes! It is OMF's main focus, especially here in Japan, but there others who do other things.

The second was that as foreign-looking people we (that is us, not him) will always be outsiders here. Both Australia and Canada are much more multicultural than Japan. But in Japan, no matter how long we stay here people will always suspect that we've only just arrived, will suspect that "Konnichiwa" is the extent of our Japanese. I think this was one thing that niggled at me when we had our Australian visitors in June/July. We all looked equally foreign. However inside us it is different: our understanding of Japan was quite different. After ten years of living here, doing language study and engaging as best we can in the culture, we are no longer 100% foreign to this land.

English Club days.
This was confirmed when later I had morning tea with friends from our middle son's Japanese kindergarten days. These are the ladies who formed the core of the English Club that I ran for nearly three years. It is always great to get together. We speak in a mixture of English and Japanese, it would be quite a bewildering thing to be a fly on the wall. But at one point one of my friends burst out laughing, to the point of not being able to speak for a little while. She finally said, "You are so Japanese!!" Apparently the way I agreed in conversation had struck her. Not so much my words as my body language – lots of Japanese nodding in agreement with some appropriate agree-ing Japanese words! I assured them that I was no longer 100% foreigner on the inside. I'm thankful that, though to most Japanese I'm just another strange foreigner, I have Japanese friends who no longer see me as totally foreign.

The other thing that came up with our visitor this morning was I heard him murmuring to my husband as they left for school, "What a delightful family!" Then I climbed up the stairs to the bathroom where I found my youngest and eldest in some kind of feud. I discovered them at the opportunistic swipe-hit and throw-water-at-your-brother stage. Yes, a delightful family! Delightfully normal or delightfully deceptive?

26 September, 2011

Looking ahead to the week before me

After a crazy week last week (I had a total of 1.5 days with kids at school in the midst of what is not supposed to be holidays), I'm looking forward to something more normal this week. Whatever "normal" is! This is what is on the cards (that I know about, anyway):

Tomorrow I'm having morning tea with some Japanese friends from the days when our middle son was in Japanese kindergarten. Postponed from last Tuesday when I'd had about five hours sleep and then a boy who didn't get to school until lunch-time.

Wednesday is David's birthday, his 40th. We're going out to lunch, a joint birthday-anniversary treat. I'm looking forward to that! And watching the boys give their Dad the presents they selected on Saturday (great deliberation!).

Thursday I'm going to with friends to a missionary ladies mini retreat. Just for the day, we're going out to an area close to where we went camping in July/August. It'll be fun.

Friday is probably a pretty normal day. Starting with a CAJ prayer meeting, then a Bible study with a friend. I might get to my 12 y.o.'s cross country, or I might not. I believe it is in the afternoon before school finishes. Not sure how that will pan out.

Saturday we don't have to get up early! But I do have to bake. In the evening we're having an unknown number of guests to a Dessert Party. "Unknown" because not everyone has replied yet. I shuddered to think about feeding a large group a main meal in our small-ish house, so opted for the naughty part of a party – the sweets! This is what I'm mostly thinking about at the moment. What to bake and how much! And how do you decide between Pavlova, Chocolate Cheesecake, Orange Tart, Rich Cheesecake Brownies and Apple Pies? I could make any or all of these, but how do you choose?

So, what are the chances that it will all turn out like this?

25 September, 2011

Funny haircuts

We had haircuts for two boys this evening. The tradition has become to watch Youtube videos while Dad cuts hair (with a razor). Having recently introduced them to Mr Bean, we showed them these videos tonight and they nearly wet themselves (again). 

*It is one story, broken up into four videos.


24 September, 2011

Japanese Sports Drinks

The last week has seen a change of season. Last Saturday night we had guests and turned on the air conditioner for the evening together. Today I have socks and long pants on. Yep, the season has changed. 

The seasons are definitely more distinct here than where I grew up in southern Queensland. And they are shorter, especially summer. For me, it seems that summer feels hotter, because the winter is colder. Does that make sense? It is harder for the body to adjust when you are dealing with 30+ with high humidity in September then down to single figures and low humidity by December. And the reverse from February to July. 

I find the summers harder here than in Brisbane, even though they aren't a lot different, apart from being shorter. The one difference Brisbane has is that it tends to experience heat waves and then periods of cooler weather (high 20s, for example). Whereas Tokyo turns the heat on in mid-July and remains (for the most part) that hot – day and night – until mid September. Although this year the hottest period did end about the 18th of August with a short cooler spell, and though it did get very hot again, the nights, thankfully, remained below 30.

Anyhow, I didn't really mean to go on so much about the weather. I wanted, instead, to mention Sports Drinks. I've not been one who's really gone for Sports Drinks. I remember after the birth of our middle child, someone brought me one when I was in hospital. It was either Pokkari Sweat (yes, it really is called that) or Aquarius – these are two of the most popular brands here. It tasted awful, like some medicine that I was given as a teenager. So I really haven't drunk any since. 

However during the hottest days I was struggling with headaches and other symptoms that made me think that more than just water was required. I went on a quest, therefore, to find a Sports Drink that tasted a bit better. I found a couple of brands. This Postonic Water I found in a vending machine just down the road from our house. It had quite a nice flavour, especially just after a sweaty workout at the gym. Don't you just love the name of it?

23 September, 2011

Australian books on now our shelves

Back here I wrote about the lack of Australian books in the CAJ library. As a result of that post we had friends in Australia sent us some Aussie books. Because the books arrived with our friends in June along with a whole bunch of other gifts, they were overlooked for quite a while. But after we finished our latest Famous Five book I decided that these short biographies of famous Aussies would be great reading fodder. Our after-tea-reading time (wrote about it here) has been a good forum for introducing books that the boys aren't (initially) interested in reading on their own.

And it's been an enjoyable journey. David and I knew many of the sports and music stars, but the writers, medical workers and scientists etc. were less known to us. Did you know, for example, that an Australian (Florey) had a large part to play in the development of penicillin?

I also discovered they'd given us this book that my 12 y.o. devoured. I enjoyed most of it too. Learnt some new things Andre used a lot of old history I'm sure I learnt at school.

For example, I learnt (or re-learnt?) that America's war of independence had a part to play in Australia's first white settlement in 1788.

But back to how this all started, the overly American library fodder at CAJ. I'm glad to say that now we're able to give the boys a little more balance. And eventually these books might even make their way into the CAJ library, you never know. I do know that when we next visit Australia we'll be looking for some more of these high quality type of books to add to our own library. Thanks Melissa and Rob for your contribution to our boys' education!

22 September, 2011

New fingernail colour

If I wore fingernail polish I think I might be changing my colour to something dark this week. My husband pointed out I could even save on polish and no one would know. I'd only have to paint nine nails!

I wrote last week about smashing my finger between concrete blocks in our driveway. Most of last week I typed nine-fingered, struggled to get change out of my purse, and even played the piano for Sunday School with nine fingers. 

Most of the pain has gone now. It is a little numb and a tiny bit swollen, but mostly just a deep blue nail! Not the prettiest, but it will look much worse if I actually lose the nail. What do you think my chances are?

21 September, 2011

A strange week

It started out as a strange week. It's only gotten stranger. We started on Sunday with a birthday. That, at least, was expected.

Then Monday the boys had a half-day at school and David and I had whole days at school. It was "Back to School" day. So for all of us, it wasn't a usual Monday at all.

Monday night it started to rain and at the same time cool down. The temperature difference between Monday and Tuesday was 10 degrees. 32 degrees C on Monday, 22 yesterday.

Monday night we also had a bit of a medical crisis with one of our boys. David ended up taking him to the Japanese version of the ER (which required more than half an hour of ringing around to find on a public holiday). Thankfully it was quickly solved, but it was stressful at the time. And we only got about five hours sleep that night.

Yesterday David and I floated through our wedding anniversary, neither of us are fantastic with sleep-loss. Our son slept in till 10.30a.m., and got to school by lunch time. So my day wasn't as I expected it to be either.

Then this morning we received an email from school before 6.30am saying that school was cancelled for the day. We have a typhoon headed right for us. Not that it is dangerous outside at this point (set to intensify later in the afternoon), but the train system usually shuts down at these times and the school didn't want to risk getting kids to school and not being able to get them home again. We've already done that once this year (on March 11, earthquake day) and it wasn't fun. But the teachers were still expected to be at school at 8 a.m. Therefore, I have another at-home-with-the-boys day. I still haven't fully recovered from 11 weeks of that over the summer! And I have another one coming on Friday as it is a planned Professional Development day for the teachers.

This has turned out to be an even stranger week than we thought it would be. I wonder if tomorrow might be something like a normal day. If it is, then it will be the only one in the week.

To tally it up, this week we've had a sudden temperature and season change, multiple changes in school and work routine and a change in sleep patterns. Thankfully we're not dealing with a hospitalisation too. If there is something I'm acutely aware of, it is that our family doesn't cope all that well with the unexpected nor change. This kind of week throws up "Caution" signs for me. Therefore I am not going to hold myself to high expectations this week. That would be asking for just too much stress.

How do you/your family manage in times of unexpected change?

20 September, 2011

Wedding photos

Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. We don't have anything special planned, thankfully, because we were up half the night with a small medical emergency for one of our kids (all fixed now, except for tiredness). Interestingly I look back at my blog note for this time last year and it was also a day preceded by lack of sleep, though for a different reason.

So, in leiu of any other plans, I thought that simply scanning some wedding photos and proudly displaying them to the world was as good as any other thing I could think of to do on an anniversary while my husband is at school and one tired boy is asleep upstairs. So, here we go. Just a few favourite photos from our wedding album.
David rang me before we left for the church. The photographer caught me talking to my groom on this old phone.
Outside the church

On the edge of the Great Dividing Range looking west from Toowoomba towards Ipswich (for those of you who know the area).
Not many of the photos have me looking like a radiant bride. I think the lead-up to the event was too stressful for me. It took several days after the wedding for me to regain my usual appetite.
The gorgeous wedding party.
The groom and his new father-in-law. I love this photo because it shows Dad interrupting David's speech to explain a joke he'd made in his own speech that no one had really understood. It was something about a turtle. . .
Looking happier. We had some great speeches.
14 years ago on this day.

19 September, 2011

A hectic day

The second half of September is always a little bit hectic in our house. It never looks like it will, but then when you factor in two birthdays and a wedding anniversary to the usual daily life activities, we soon end up struggling to stay ahead.

Additionally CAJ has a "Back to School" day. Now I'm told that Americans will know what this means, but I'm not so sure about Aussies. It is basically a Parents' Day or an Open Day without the students. When parents are welcomed onto campus and sit in their kid/s' classes and find out who is teaching their kids, timetables, expectations etc. For me it has been a 10-3.30 day. Elementary was 10-12, middle and high school 1-3.30 and high school has after school meetings too. 

A great day to see lots of people, get informed and hopefully one that helps you get informed, so that you know what's going to be expected from your kids. This is especially helpful for parents of boys, who, typically know less of what is going on at school than the parents of girls, I've observed.

So, today I've had all sorts of encounters. Parents who've thanked me for inviting their kids to our son's birthday party back in May, a new/old student who was at the school about four years ago, a number of new families–including a family who hosted our son at a sleepover a few weeks ago (who I'd not even met!). I met mission colleagues, teachers of my kids and parents of students that my husband teaches. And I even got in some impromptu public speaking. This year I'm co-coordinating the prayer group that meets for seventh grade (each year level has their own monthly prayer group). So I got up in front of all the seventh grade parents and invited them to come. Phew. 

On top of that I've done two bike trips for groceries. Now I'm pretty done in, but the day isn't over yet.
I did want to show you the cake that eventuated for yesterday. I mean eventuated, because I baked it earlier in the week and iced it yesterday afternoon, but our son and his younger (6 y.o.) brother decorated it themselves before dinner last night. This is how it turned out. The boys loved it. I think it turned out well, and it didn't even take much time!

I'm pretty proud of my middle school son. He wasn't allowed on campus all afternoon, while us parents were getting up to speed (the elementary students had free child care). He'd been planning to go to McDonalds for lunch with friends, but that fell through, so he came home by himself and made himself lunch. I see (internet History) that he also took the opportunity to work on his typing skills without me suggesting it. He is maturing, and I'm so happy!

Now I need to dash over the road to observe my two younger sons at swimming until 5pm. It's been a while since I have seen them and they are claiming much better swimming abilities than I think they have, so I want to see with my own eyes.

See you tomorrow!

18 September, 2011

A child's birthday: time to reflect and look ahead . . . and eat cake.

Today my middle son turns nine. We're back to a nice set of numbers for ages for the next six months: 6, 9 and 12! Nice and easy to remember.

It is probably only mothers that think about what a birthday started out as – a birth! This particular birth took place in a Japanese hospital. My stay in the hospital lasted about 20 days and qualified as a full-on immersion experience. I got to experience traditional Japanese pillows (filled with beans), Japanese food (including tentacles), compulsory IV drips, post-birth Japanese underwear (don't ask), and a Caesarean section without adequate pain medication following it. I discovered that kimonos don't fit all that well over a pregnant tummy. The compulsory pyjamas were wrap-around style. Even the L size didn't fit me all that well during my just-in-case 10 inpatient days before he was born (I had a mild blood condition they were watching). It just made it round my girth, but was too long and gaped at the cross-over.

And there are many more things I could tell you, even nine years later, but I won't bore you.

There were many challenging things about those days, so many that I prayed fervently that God would allow us to have our third child in Australia, a prayer he graciously answered during our home assignment 2 1/2 years later.

But on a day like today it is better to focus on the young man who is growing up under my care. His early years were fraught with much frustration and clashing of heads. As we understand him more and as he grows and learns self-control, we're getting along better much of the time. This is very satisfying. I'm looking forward to seeing this determined, intelligent young man as he discovers himself more and more and finds out what God is preparing him for.

But for today, we're enjoying him exploring his presents and look forward to a family party this evening, with lots of goodies, and a nice cake.

16 September, 2011

Hooks and poles, very handy

Faced with a lack of space, the smartest thing to do is go up. Japanese do this very well, from lofts in small apartments to clever hanging shelves in kitchens. There are a myriad of easy solutions to your storage needs in Japanese shops. I decided to take a camera tour of my house to show you some of the hanging solutions that we've used to help declutter our house.

First we have the entry. You can see a white pole. It is not connected to the walls, it is spring loaded, we use quite a lot of these around the house. There isn't anything much hanging on it at present, but it is a good place to hang wet rain coats or visitors winter coats.

On the left is our vertical wire net. Hanging from it is our key rack, name tags, bike helmets, and other bits and pieces including bags at times. It is braced between the floor and wall. It tends to be more crowded in the winter, with extra outside clothes hanging on it.

Then we have the kitchen. Suction hooks and rails provide excellent hanging space for a variety of objects, including cutting boards, a funnel and tea towel.

And a plastic basket holds essentials like plastic wrap, baking paper and foil. It is attached to the side of the microwave with magnets.

The lounge room is not immune. In here we've used the "picture rail" to hang "pictures", using purpose designed hooks. No holes in the sandpaper walls here.

The laundry and bathroom are great places to hang things. These don't usually come with towel rails in Japan, you have to make do.

These plastic hangers are what I hang my washing on before taking it outside to the washing poles (they're folded up for storage in the photo). Japanese houses don't come with washing lines either, you usually provide your own poles.

Shower cap hanging on a suction hook. Bucket hanging from a pole.
Here a curtain, hanging on a spring loaded pole, discretely hides a shelf, that is also not attached to the wall. Toilet supplies live here.

This calendar kept falling down, so we used a suction hook instead.
And finally our bedroom. Hooks on the same sort of "picture rail" as the lounge room provide extra clothes hanging spots.

An over-the-door hook holds my gown in winter.

And another pole holds washing, especially on rainy days, or gym clothes, as it is holding here.
So there you go. I know that Australians use some of these solutions, but the 'pole' one not so much. It is very common here, though. And those 's' hooks are everywhere too. Very handy indeed when space is a bit tight.

15 September, 2011

Sleeping in the heat

We've almost made it through our first Tokyo summer without air conditioning at night time. Let me tell you how we've done it!

Firstly, the nights are usually around 28-32 degrees Celcius. After reading in a magazine yesterday that for the best sleep you should aim for 18 degrees, I guess my sleep hasn't been the best for several months now! I'm hanging out for some autumn days and nights, I can tell you.

We've slept with the floor fan on and the windows open. When we used air conditioning, we closed the metal shutters and had a perfectly dark room. But the windows open poses a problem. Because, even with the power saving that Tokyo has undergone in the last few months, it is a remarkably bright night that we experience here. Too bright for me to sleep.  Add to that that our neighbour's have a window only a metre or two from ours that seems to be lit for most of the night (no idea why). So, in order to sleep we've resorted to eye masks. I was given this cute one when we were in Australia last year.

The other big thing that helps me go to sleep is an ice pillow, pictured here. We have five of them, three big ones (as big as the laptop I'm typing on) and two little ones. The boys also use them. They are very soothing to lie on in this heat and stay cool most of the night.

This sleeping without air conditioning is a bit controversial within the missionary community. There are those who do and those who don't. We thought we were doing a good thing and voluntarily leaving our bedroom air con off, then later discovered that the ancient machine isn't working properly any more (and having replaced our living room air con, we cannot afford to do the bedroom), so it isn't really a choice we can be proud of. We can be happy that our electricity bill is down this year, though!