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Monday, September 22

A Little Work, a Little Baby, and a Little Culture

Life has been all about checking things of the baby-do list, work and Ikebana International lately.

Let’s start with work. Substituting started for me Friday a week and a half ago, and I have since worked every damn day. Good for the bank account that will soon not see my extra pennies. Bad for the swollen ankles that I have developed which refuse to deflate. This is actually why I am home today and not running around, as KH insisted on putting on me on forced bed rest. He keeps saying something about snausage feet and high blood pressure, while he keeps shoving the cuff back onto my arm. I assure you that I am taking care of myself, but I just hate all this ‘rest’! There are things to do and surely the only person who could possibly do them right is myself. As the past years have gone, I have been keeping my work hours at the high school level. This being my third school year there, I know the kids pretty darn well and I must say that I am enjoying them more than ever this year. I have a theory on that, though. I think it is because I see an end in sight to working at all that I am so thoroughly enjoying my time with them. Or it could be that I just haven’t been with too many smack-worthy freshmen this year; they seem to be a much improved crop. Whatever it is, it’s been great. There has also been some amusement with the older kids about the whole pregnancy thing. Only a few knew at the end of last school year, so many are quite surprised when this much larger version of me walked in the door. When they throw out the “you’re pregnant!” comments, I have been known to respond with the “no, I just got really fat over the summer!” Please don’t think I am cruel now! I tell the truth only moments later, but that first reaction is a riot. I even had a freshmen interrupt my lecture the other day just to determine for sure that my wide girth is pregnancy and not just that I am some monster junk food consumer. Once they know, they always have questions. Surprisingly, the boys tend to be the most curious.

Then the baby-do list. It has been quite a success lately… just shy of complete! Aside from missing only one dresser at this point (it being somewhere between here and California) and not being able to buy a rocker for the life of me in Japan, the nursery is pretty much done. Even our bassinet, which a dear friend back home bought for us as a gift, but had multiple aggravations getting it shipped here, has arrived and will be put together tomorrow. I packed for the hospital, all except for a little slip of paper that has six last minute items to add to the bag. We’re going to try to figure out the car seat this weekend and get that installed properly in the car. Beyond that, it’s pretty much wait for the arrival of the main attraction! As of today, that would be only seven weeks away. Yes, I know I am early on some of this stuff, but you just never know what the critter inside is going to decide on the early, late or just on time factor. Since I am a bit anal, I just would rather be safe than sorry. For all of those that have enjoyed the laughter you get from pictorial updates, there will be one taken tonight once KH returns home just for your continued amusement. Patience please. Update: Photographic evidence of the 'big' happening has now been added.

And there has indeed been culture-taking-in lately! The new season of Ikebana International is now fully underway, keeping me busy, busy, busy! I’m back on the Board for the second year in the same position, Publicity, which has kept me attached to my computer in free hours instead of on the couch with my feet above my head. Our first program was on Thursday and it was a great start! Held at the Daibutsu den’s private residence in Kamakura, we had the Ambassador’s Wife from Mozambique, Madam Maria Cuna Antonio, come and speak to the group about life and culture in her country. While Mozambique had never before been on my list of places that I wanted to visit, it has since been added. Madam regaled us with stories about daily life in her country, complete with funny stories about chickens, a fashion show of the typical dress that women wear (with the models including her daughter), a native fruit to try, and then homemade snacks and sweets which she and her staff had gotten up at 4:00 that morning to personally prepare for us. After the program, the Japanese ladies shuffled out, but I took this time to go talk with Madam one on one. She is an unbelievably warm, open, intelligent, well-traveled and articulate woman, who shared many stories about her travels, her family and her work… all in English which is obviously not her preferred Portuguese or African language. At the end of our conversation, she even provided me with her business card, along with the wish that I come to her Embassy home in Tokyo and have lunch some day. This made me not only feel a bit like a rock star, but also quite proud that I didn't do any major damage with my incessantly flapping gums, which could have potentially started some international incident. The only sad part of the day is that I had forgotten my camera, so the friend that was with me was the only one who got pictures of us. She will be sending them to me at some point and I will add them here, but for now, I unfortunately have nothing to show you. What can I say? I’m a slacker these days. And I totally chalk it all up to pregnancy brain.

Once my feet recover to a somewhat normal state (note: the picture is what I see of my feet IF I bend over far enough to check them out) and my husband allows me to get off the couch, I’m going to try to get out a bit more often and enjoy these last few weeks as non-parents. The heat is slowly dying down which helps, but in place of that has been some rain and even a quick little typhoon the other day. Speaking of weather anomalies, did anyone else in this area feel that earthquake on Saturday? It was the closest one I’ve known about to date, happening in Chiba, not even an hour’s drive north and registering a moderate 5.7 on the Richter scale. No major structural damage in the area, but it did indeed shake the baby awake.

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