Getting ready for Japan, pt. 1...
Last week, while at an apartment-warming for my mom (aka Grammie), friends & family asked me what I'm doing to get ready for our trip to Japan, now approximately 5 week away... I answered, "Well, I'm doing a lot of tie-dyeing..." There was a moment of silence, then the room exploded with laughter. Well... what would you do to get ready for such a voyage?
The main reason for tie-dyeing is to make "American" gifts to bring with us, for Tomoko's family whom we'll be spending a week with in the middle of the trip. These folks are taking us to an onsen (hot springs resort) & a ryokan (traditional japanese inn) & we've already realised that it's going to be hard to be allowed to pay for anything... so we're coming armed with gifts :) Lots of them. Tomoko really liked the idea of tie-dyed shirts because they seem so typically american & because they're hand-made. I've also been beading cell phone straps (a very popular thing in Japan these days) & we're bringing lots of legos & stuff like that for her nephews, plus some nicer things for the grown-ups.
Another way in which we're getting ready is that I'm making sure we all have properly-fitting clothes & shoes. Hmmm... Brendan will need new sandals (add 'em to the list), but I've already gotten him new shorts & some of the tie-dyed shirts are for him, to add to his collection of InuYasha shirts :) Come to think of it, we'll probably buy him shirts there, so I don't have to bring very many... I have been looking at my summer wardrobe & shoring that up, too, & on the list is a new duffel bag for Brendan, since his clothes are too big for the small one he used to use. Charlie realised that he needs to get some new shorts, too, since he hasn't bought new ones in a while & even the nicer ones are looking disreputable.
Running over, under, & through all of our preparations is language study, study, study... We've moved into high-gear, verbs-wise. Tomoko quizzed Brendan last weekend & was pleasantly surprised by his facility with conjugating some of our usuals, like come, go, eat, & drink. She's been working with me on the conditional form, & I actually figured out how to say "I can't eat meat" all on my own (we agreed that this will be a very useful phrase... :). Brendan & I are working on our adjectives together & watch as much anime & other tv in japanese as we can these days. Brendan's starting to show signs of the jitters- he wanted to know, half-jokingly, if we'd be able to have a translator while we're there. We have friends who visited Tokyo last summer & who don't speak a word of japanese, so we invoke them at these moments, as evidence that we'll manage just fine no matter what.
The true test of our linguistic abilites arrives this week, though :) Tomoko's mother is coming for 3 weeks & we're going to spend as much time as we can with her. I'm really glad to have the chance to have her to our house, since we'll be staying at her house for the middle week of our trip to Japan. It will be really neat to know her already when we get there. She speaks no english, so I've been going over phrases in my mind, of things I want to be able to say to her, looking up terms, & quizzing Tomoko for more verbs. Tomoko will be with us for the first couple of our visits with her mom (Nobuko-san), but I will also be spending time with her when Tomoko's busy with graduation stuff, so I really want to do my best. We'll be doing some indigo dyeing (aizome) together a week from Wednesday (Tomoko will be there, too) & I'm really psyched to share this with them. I will, of course, be running the indigo vat to make more gifts to take to Japan :) (But also to make end-of-year teacher gifts.)
In other news, Brendan had his 11-year-old check-up this morning. He's half an inch shy of 5 feet tall!! He was in very good form, considering that he'd been up since 3:00 am coughing... He'd started over the weekend & we thought it was seasonal allergies, but things really ramped-up overnight. We gave him cough medicine & riccolas to suck (they actually seem to work better, especially since he's finally able to suck them rather than immediately crunch them), but he never fell back to sleep. His pediatrician told him she thought it was very efficient of him to save getting sick for his already-scheduled appointment. He was his usual charming self, if a bit self-conscious to be sitting around in his boxers for the exam (they were nice, tie-dyed ones, though :). His pediatrician is great, just the right mix of matter-of-factness & humour. He did need 2 injections, though (pertussis & tetanus) which we weren't expecting. They really hurt & he was briefly upset, but calmed down really fast. I felt rotten about it, but he told me he understood- the doctor had done a great job of explaining to him why he needed them (for his health & that of other kids) & we spent some time on the way home discussing vectors & such. Instead of taking him to school, as originally planned, we came home to give him a rest & a chance to get rid of his bug. His class at school is going on an overnight Thurday to Friday & we really want him well enough to go. We sat around & watched japanese tv shows on the internet, & while Tomoko came over to give me an extra japanese lesson, he watched old Disney channel shows that Grammie taped for him. He was in bed & asleep by 7:30 (after a nice, warm shower), which was nearly 2 hours earlier than usual. We'll decide on school tomorrow based on how much sleep his cough gives him...