Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The three corners

Even though the family has expanded over the last few days, it doesn't really feel that way right now. The three of us right now are in three separate corners of town- each of us going through our own issues.

For Ken the ordeal is pretty straightforward. He has spent 9 months in a nice, warm, safe womb and now he has been dumped out into this bright, cold and mind bogglingly complex world. He can barely see and doesn't even know why he feels compelled to suck down as much milk as his little stomach can handle. Even just burping looks like a lot of work- he's got a lot to learn.

I am most concerned about Ritsy. I mentioned that she had to go to the hospital after the birthing and was pumped full of fluids at the hospital. When I visited her yesterday, she seemed healthy and I thought that for sure she would be released from the hospital and be able to return to the Midwife clinic to reunite with Ken. Last night though she had a fever and today, her blood tests showed her to be quite anemic, she is really low on iron. When I saw her she was again looking healthy and had no fever, just frustrated that she can't see her son.

Luckily the doctor offered a great suggestion- Myself, her sister and the woman from the clinic went to the hospital carting along little Ken to finally see his mom. Unfortunately Ritsy once again had a fever and only could hang with him for a few minutes. I feel real bad for Ritsuko- she just wants to connect with the little guy- and feed him her milk and be happy. But she is stuck recovering and now I worry that because he is getting used to the bottle, it'll be tough for him to switch to breast milk later. Well, I'll try not to get wound up in a little knot over something I can't fix.
As for me, my ordeal is about my leg. I had my cast taken off on Monday but I am meant to only walk with about 30% weight bearing pressure. God, I'm a horrible judge of how much weight that means, especially if you consider you can potentially take thousands of step in a day. It's much easier just to think that I should try to walk 'lightly' and I think I will be okay. I'm actually back to using my crutches more than I did in the last 3 weeks before it came off. I am confident that my leg will improve a lot and quickly, I just need to keep patient with it.

Separate the 3 of us will have to fight our battles and get to the next level- I really look forward to when we can all sit down together quietly (well as quietly as it gets with a baby) and enjoy the true feeling that we are a big family.

Here is a little video of the guy doing nothing, but as a parent, I feel it is cute anyway. Please pardon me for using the I'm talking to a baby voice- I am trying to avoid doing that too much...

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's a boy!

I actually have known for some time the baby was going to be a boy, but I thought I would hold out before alerting blogger-space.

It was a tough couple of days. I guess it started on Thursday night. I was happily sleeping away, and woke up and noticed Ritsy was no longer in the bed. I went downstairs and saw that she was lying in discomfort and couldn't sleep. But there was still no contractions. At that time I was really worried about the baby- but I decided to wait a bit and see how things progress.

I went back to bed and the next morning Ritsy was still in discomfort and was going to call the midwife to see what she thought. I went off to work expecting to maybe not finish my work day. I had a day of work where I left home at about 7 in the morning and wouldn't return until 9:30 at night because of the locations of the classes. She started to have contractions but they were too far between. She went to the clinic a few times and sent back home. I made it through my day of work without "the call".

I arrived at home at about 9:30 and she was sitting in discomfort. Her contractions were still about 8 minutes apart. When they came down to 5 minutes apart (around 11:30 pm) we called her friend Kurami that was going to help with the delivery (she is a nurse with her midwife licence). She came over and helped out with the contraction pain. They told me maybe in an hour they would go to the clinic and I could sleep for a bit. I woke up 3 hours later and thought maybe they had forgotten about me. They hadn't - still waiting.

I stayed up with them through the morning, when the contractions got close together and more painful, we called the clinic and were told to come in at 7. The contractions continued for some time but were still pretty far apart. Man, those contractions look painful, I remember thinking and Ritsy turned to me and said it's going to get more painful. I gained a lot of respect for every woman that has given birth naturally-- it's like watching someone get tortured.

Finally around 1pm they went into the delivery room and asked me to wait outside the room. About an hour later, they called me and I could see the little bugger was crowning. I don't know if I was shocked or in awe at the sight of the baby coming out. It was something I really thought I couldn't watch, but a part of me told me that I had to. I don't regret it, I was able to see them cut the umbilical cord and clear out his mouth, and he took his first breath and started crying.
His name will eventually be Ken Trevor Lowrey-Takasugi. For now it's Ken Takasugi-I'll get into the whole name fiasco in another post. He weighed 4.1 kgs and was healthy. Official Time of birth was November 24th at 2:02 pm. Welcome little guy.

Naturally, when Ritsy first saw him she was crying tears of joy and probably partly tears of relief. I was still in a dazed shock/awe but was pretty surprisingly emotional. I guess it all clicks when you see the little guy, eh?

Well, we were told to go home after that (Ritsy's sisters and Nephew showed up and
hung around for it), looked like everything was good. I was even thinking about hooking up with Chris and Peter for a beer after a nap.

But an hour later while sleeping, both my cell phone and home phone rang at the same time. I picked up the home phone and Ritsuko's sister was on the line and told me that we were going to the hospital (Ritsy was staying in a midwife clinic, so they have no medical facility) because Ritsy's condition was not good. That conversation was stressful, because I didn't understand at first and then when I did figure out, I was worried. I had to wait through the drive there and about 30 minutes before I saw Kurami again (who works at this hospital usually) and she gave me the okay sign- everything was okay. Thank god for Kurami- she was just amazing- she stayed up all night, worked the birth and hopped to the hospital as soon as Ritsy went. We definitely want to do something to show our appreciation to her!

Yep Ritsy is okay now, she suffered a pretty big laceration while passing that big boy- so needed to get sutured up at the hospital. She needs to stay at the hospital a few days while recovering and then she can rejoin Ken at the midwife clinic.

What an emotional roller coaster of a day! In the end everyone is okay but separate, that will all change soon enough!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The waiting game

This picture was an accident, but I actually kind of liked it
Wow, thanks to everyone for the enquiries about the baby. It is definitely a bit of an anxious time awaiting the little one's arrival! Sadly, we're still waiting! Yesterday Ritsy was feeling like it might be time yesterday or today, but still nothing! I look forward to posting the first pictures!
While Christmas is not a Shinto holiday, the Japanese have taken to the commerciality of the holiday and some of the charming aspects of X-mas. One of those things is the Christmas lights and a lot of big companies make elaborate displays and they are called illuminations (or i-ru-mi-ne-shi-o-n). Here is the main display in Hamamatsu city called Winter firefly (but in Japanese), enjoy!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another video- an evening resting the foot, cats and pregnant Ritsy

Just a little clip from last weekend, sitting on the couch. It's starting to get colder here so the cats are starting to be more 'social' to share warmth with us. It's going to be tough on them when the baby arrives- they won't be sleeping in the same room as the baby, though I may crash in the separate bed sometimes when I need my sleep- so maybe they can crash with me there. Also you will catch a glimpse of how pregnant Ritsy is now. I heard that the baby is up to about 3200 grams now, should be a little big bugger...

Oh ya- Chris has been updating his blog daily lately with some funny cartoons- including this comical one of me during Halowe'en week- based on true events, though I never think like that, honestly! LINK

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The House (some old videos)

I thought I would post a couple of videos about my home's building process- the first one I made to put up in Facebook- but I don't think too many people found it, so I thought I might slap it up here, just a bunch of pictures I took showing the progress of the home as it was built ...

The next video I found sitting forgotten on my poor forgotten video camera. Now that the baby is close to arriving- I took out the camera, blew out the dust and found this old nugget. In Japan, more so in the more rural areas now I would guess, people have an interesting tradition when building a new house called tatemae. On the day that the roof gets erected, the owner first has the pleasure of treating the workers to a nice box lunch and dinner (which wasn't cheap- but if we don't do it, maybe they forget a nail or two...). Later in the day when the work finishes, we go into the house and pray for good luck at the home then pelt rice cakes at our future neighbours. It's quite funny, the older people when driving by on the day recognize the roof will finish and make plans to return at 4 o'clock. They turn up en masse and scrape and claw to get all the cakes. Indeed I saw a couple of cute old ladies grabbing rice cakes from children's grasps! It was pretty fun and interesting to see what it looked like from the other angle...

Monday, November 5, 2007

That's Japan! Volume 5

What's that you ask? A country that has a population about 3.8 times that of Canada's, squeezed into roughly 1/26th the space? The country that invented Pocky and Godzilla and Ultraman? Yes folks- That is Japan!
Yeni and I at the ESL college summer Hanabi party
1. Jinbei - Most people when they think of Japan's unique clothing styles, readily come up with an image of a kimono, or maybe a pair of wooden sandals (geta). One of the lesser known players is the jinbei a light weight easy to slip on clothing that is great for the summer time. While the tradition is to go through the time consuming process of putting on a kimono, or slightly quicker yukata - it is quite popular for men to opt for a jinbei when attending summer festivals. And gosh, don't I look sharp in one?
Some guy eating basashi in Kumamoto(stolen from this blog- sorry!)
2. Food tourism - What did you do last holiday? Did you travel to Kentucky to eat baby back ribs at a popular restaurant? Did you travel to a number of different cities sampling Roll Cake from the many local restaurants? Chance are if you are in North America you said no. But it is actually quite a popular travel activity for some people in Japan. I think this speaks of one of the charms of the Japanese culture, to be perfectly honest- each region has a unique culture point or a food specialty that has grown and improved as time passes. While I get annoyed with the TV for always showing people eating- it is a great way to keep people informed of some of the unique tastes and spots around Japan. So if it is the food motivating to travel around, at least they are happy with doing it. After all, I'm sure they do end up doing some sight seeing between all the eating.... right...?
Again gleaned from a google search HERE
3. Pub - Are you new in Japan and want to settle in for a pint at a local pub? Be careful what you choose. Most likely what you would expect in a pub, here is called an Izakaya. That's a place to sit down for a laugh with your friends, eat some (surprisingly) good food and of course have some drinks. If you end up heading into a Pub- you will find a very different kind of establishment. A Pub here is usually a hostess bar, where you pay an incredibly high price for drinks and you (maybe) get flirted with by the hostesses at the bar. Similarly, Snacks have a very similar scheme and the best I can figure out the big difference is that an older clientèle frequent Snacks.
Yep, you can order this here.
4. Loli-Goth - One of the great fashion statements you will run across when walking around (more so in a bigger city than Hamamatsu though) is the Loligoth trend. Yes they have taken all the best elements of Lolitas (yes that is the sick love of younger girls?!) and the remarkably beautiful voice of the Goth underground and made just a... well... creepy image. Actually the image is cuter and cleaner than some of the other trends- but there is just some sort of odd undertones to the whole thing- I can't really put my finger on it, but it gives me the shivers.
5. Traffic Signals- I haven't been able to figure it out in almost 4 years living in this country. They call the green light on the traffic signal- the Ao Shingo- meaning the Blue signal. The light looks green to me and most of my students agree with me it is an odd thing, why blue? Well I formed a theory. Maybe the first guy that brought the traffic light over to Japan was colour blind and called it the Blue light. Maybe he was so revered and respected that all those around him just kind of went along with him and agreed that it was indeed blue. They probably took pity on him that he did not see his error and continued the tradition in his honour after he passed on... Well, it's a working theory, anyway.

Well that's my blog for today, and that's Japan for a lifetime!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

What's going on?

What's going on indeed!

I guess part of the more quiet pace I have been on with my injury, some my energy for blogging has sapped. Must stay on track! This whole blogging thing was meant to be an exercise for me to practice day to day focus, so it has been largely successful, but there's been a big tailing off the last couple of months. But, when we fall off that horse, we get back up again!
Mac: According to pictures stolen from Facebook, my sister's, son- Mac (because he looked like a big Hamburger when he came out, I think... :-)) was recently spotted dressed up as a big chicken. Pretty Funny costume! If you are wondering what my brother-in-law is dressed up as- I believe that is just one of his regular hats! Just kidding Sean! Well, also, using my detective skills, not having heard the story, it looks like he may have won a prize for his costume. Good Job, little guy!
Music: Most people know I love Radiohead- so I was pretty excited when they gave us 10 days notice last month and they offered up their new album only as a download. Plus we could pick the price. Pretty interesting move, though an established artist has a better chance of pulling it off than a struggling band. The initial offering of 10 songs is pretty good and filled with the usual ear candy that makes for great ear-phone or in-car listening, so was a solid release indeed! They had another option of purchasing a CD packaged with 2 LP's and a bonus disk- but the price of 40 pounds was pretty crazy. I will probably hold out until they strike a record deal to get the other new music. Oh, how much did I choose to pay? I thought 6 pounds (about 13 bucks Canadian) was fair, considering I probably will buy it on CD to get the songs at a better quality later on.

My Leg: Went back to the doctor last week and he said that my leg was healing slowly. Indeed, looking at the previous X-rays and the new ones, I couldn't see any difference whatsoever! Hmmph. He made a new cast with a good rubber heal and said that I could walk a little bit, concentrating the pressure on the heel of my foot. I am definitely more mobile- but I have probably been walking too much, so I hope it doesn't further slow my healing. The new cast is also removable so we can pull it off and wash the foot. I don't much like looking at my swollen and bruised foot, to be honest though!

The Train: Taking the train a lot the last couple of weeks, I have seen a lot of my old favorite employees of the local train- Aka Den, I remember I had created some 'names' for them- there was Creepy Smiley Guy, The Guy With Big Lips for example, but sadly- Unusually Tall Girl has not been spotted yet. It's good to see them all again, it reminds me of a year and a half ago before I had my car! Nazukashi!

Baby: Not yet!

Yep, I'm a little dry for topics right now- tough to grab the camera and go to check out a temple or whatnot, but I will get my groove back in no time!