Friday, January 31, 2014

Back on the Asphalt

As hard as it may be maintaining enthusiasm while waiting for the Daddy Person to press the camera button (in the end I made rabbit ears behind his head) this was the easy (and cute) bit of the 2014 school run.

The rest was more a case of trying to land on your feet and hitting the Asphalt running.

Last year She-Who-Worships-Pink was attending school in Kindyland which was daunting enough considering the five classes of 25 kids each. But in fairness it was separated from the main school with its own playground and facilities.

Not so this year, now we've joined the scrum.

Oh My Dog - school drop off in the big, BIG's a three ring circus (but with several more rings).

We arrive in the midst of hundreds of gingham clad clowns barreling around, cartwheeling, ricocheting off each other, off walls, out of buildings through doors and hallways.  We are dodging balls and skipping ropes that whip through the air like a series of detonations spewing sports-equipment shrapnel.

Parents everywhere with stunned - 'if I could just remember your name' - expressions, are waving nervously to each other while ducking, weaving and trying to work out where to deposit their shouty, flailing excited offspring.
Others are staggering around Quasimodo style- hunchbacked under the weight of school bags awkwardly looped over a shoulder and their teary offspring firmly attached to one leg.

After the first school run, I found this little pearl on Face Book:

Well I cant exactly do what ever I want, but what I can do is plan my day and logistics.  All without halving the time-frame because of my little co-pilot's need to incorporate a multitude of pit-stops and "I neeed to look at it mummy!" detours..

Just give me another week and I might even get my Mojo back :0)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Things that go BUMP in the night

To say our girl is a restless sleeper would be the understatement of the century.

Forget tossing and turning; She-Who-Worships-Pink flips like a pancake and shouts while she's at it.
She's been this way since she was a baby.
Having spent two weeks on the road sharing a bedroom and sometimes bed with her, I know she's hasn't grown out of it.
Both myself and the Daddy Person know only too well the extent of her nocturnal gymnastics (not to mention nocturnal nudity) because we have the sleep debt to prove it and it's for this reason I've been making custom cot and bed bumpers for her since infancy.

Both her Stokke bassinet and cot were like a padded cells; I banked on the fact she didn't stay still long enough to smother herself and she was at a far greater risk of a concussion the way she rolled over smacking her little head against the wood sides.

When we graduated to the Junior Bed (IKEA's Gulliver) it came with one of those protective guard rails included. She she wouldn't roll out, but then we had the head banging to consider.

So after a trip to the local hardware and half an hour on the sewing machine I invented 'the safety sausage'!

The fabric is IKEA of course - I love the pure cottons and with Miss Pink's circus theme Light Blocking Bed Tent the bright colours and patterns fit well. Unfortunately Vitaminer Vimpel (the bunting pattern) fabric and curtains along with the rest of these fabrics seem to have been discontinued which is a crying shame.  I'm lucky I bought up when I could - I still have a stash :0)

So this is just an extra thick draft stopper (designed for a door). While we had the safety rail it rested against that to protect flailing arms legs and head.

A bit blurred but you get the general idea..

Now the rail has gone and the safety sausage is on the other side - that is when she's not dragging it around the house playing with it.

I'm on the look out for another extra thick one for the fur-person's bed: I noticed recently that when he's lying on his mat, his spine is pressed against our enormous heritage skirting boards.  This may explain why he's been sneaking onto the sofa at night.

Or he's just a cheeky, sneaky sofa sleeping dog that needs a good telling off and some closed doors to contemplate...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sayonara Kyoto

It would be disingenuous of me to portray Kyoto as a picture perfect movie set for Memoirs of A Geisha. Although at least parts of the movie were filmed here. 

In fact much of Kyoto is a grey Cinderblock jungle with grimy air-conditioning units peppered like teenage acne all over the faces of the boxy buildings.

  A tangle of criss-crossed electrical wiring creates a spiderweb ceiling over the streets wherever you go.

Kyoto rail station looks like a sci-fi space-port but the modernity lasts only a block before function takes over from form.

Still Kyoto is full of contrasts and there's no getting away from the austere beauty you inevitably stumble upon just by taking a turn up the right alley. 

Our exit from the city is far more civilised than our entrance, no catastrophic fires to shut down the system- the Bullet Trains are running like clockwork again. 

I pull my window shade down as I find the landscape, between Kyoto and Tokyo, depressing. Between the dense pre-fab housing and the sparse small scrubby trees, the views are pretty bleak.  Besides I'm getting plenty more aesthetic appeal from a charming little Bento box we bought at the station. 

Nothing fake about this.

A Bugs Life

Well here we are at the end of another week. Mr Frenchie is back at work and since it's still school holidays, I'm running the all-day-rodeo solo, amongst piles of washing, half un-packed suitcases, and toys, toys and more toys.

The Orange Dog seems to shed when he's fretting, so in our absence (even with a loving puppy sitter) he's shed enough fur that we could build another dog. (I need to clean this house when I get a moment.)

But the toys!! Christmas toys, Birthday toys and souvenir toys, not to mention recent prize toys. I'm also tripping on the Orange dog's new chew toys (Santa was kind) strewn all over the living room floor.

There were parcels waiting for us when we got home and guess what?  Yep, more toys!

This little chatterbox below came all the way from France care of Pinkster's grandparents.  He's been a huge hit with her now that she's so enamored with everything robotic. He's actually sleeping beside me on my desk and I'm  not moving him or making any noise, because if he wakes up he'll drive me nuts!

I don't know if you're familiar with Furbys - but they have no off switch! A bit like kids- you have to leave them alone, let them chat amongst themselves, and hope they settle down eventually.

Any way since it's craft day and I've had all this 'stuff' going on, the only crafty thing we were capable of this week was home made play-doh insects.


Pinkster's pride and joy - her caterpillar. :0)

We threw in some bottle tops that we'd drawn eyeballs onto, googly eyes and drinking straws, then we cheated a little and used some left over Mr Potato head lips and teeth.

Thanks to The Coterie Blog for this genuinely fool proof  'velvety' play-doh recipe. You'd think with all the new toys, she'd be kept busy but I think I've turned her into a bit of 'make-stuff' junkie.  She needs a daily fix.

That reminds me I need to go through all the bits and bobs " make a [something] out of it.." she collected on our trip.

There are rocks, seed pods, drink coasters, chopsticks, interesting napkins, not so interesting napkins, wrapping paper, box lids, those little paper lids hotel room service puts over their milk jugs....

You name it, she kept it. :0)

Snow-Place like Kyoto

And just what do you do with yourselves in Kyoto, when you've had your fill of Museums,Temples, Kimonos and sculptured gardens littered with Bonsai?

Hit the slopes of course.

Don't ask me where we ended up here, (well you can and I'll look it up for you) but it's about a forty minute train ride out of Kyoto followed by ten minutes on a bus and another five minutes on a whopping great Gondola to ride up the mountain.

Don't ask me about the skiing either, we didn't get further than the kids park which was a fabulous idea for parents; two toboggan runs and a sort of carousel crossed with a toboggan for really little kids.

They will rent you everything, except hats and gloves, and it's fun with a capital F (and a great finish to our holiday in Japan). She-Who-Worships-Pink had been literally busting to build a snowman - tick, and ride on a toboggan -  big tick.

She was not just the pinkest girl on the run - she was by far the most vocal:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Postcards from Japan

Terror turns into fascination which develops into a bit of a crush actually.

We have travelled all the way from Philip Island, on the bottom right hand corner (sort of) of Australia to Tokyo with an overnight stop at home in Sydney. 

Just long enough to discover our hot water service has packed it in and to obtain a truly horrible quote from the only plumber who would come out on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year..oh well what can you do? We'll be wanting hot showers when we get home again..

Now we find ourselves at the Niwa - a gorgeous boutique hotel dead centre of Tokyo that has the funkiest high tech loos I've ever sat on. 

It scared the pants off me just looking at it but after sitting and pressing a button on the remote control I literally shrieked which of course brought the family running in. 

It has some quite startling functions and  the heated seat feels quite hot first thing.
But She-Who-Worships-Pink having discovered it, cannot get enough of the 'bottie-wash'. The the noises she makes behind that door are hilarious ...

But she's right, there's nothing quite like finishing your business with a nice warm 'bottie-wash'.


The Fushimi Tori gates was our first stop today. For Mr Frenchie, a pretty grueling  hill climb with 22kilos of Pinkster traveling on his shoulders. The path is about 4 kilometers in total - I would guess we did about half that. For me it was just pretty and magical walking through the winding maze of ancient orange arches. I remember the scene from Memoirs Of A Geisha, with a 9-y-o Japanese girl running down this same path on the movie posters - minus the thousand odd tourists.

Miss Pink and the Daddy Person

The foxes of Fushimi

Tenryuji Temple had to be another setting for MOAG. The mystical sculpted gardens a little less mystical for the hoards of camera snapping tourists (like us). 

She-Who-Worships-Pink, however was completely focused on getting to and through the magical bamboo forest.

Kinkaku Temple of gold was another setting chock-full of Kodak moments and the second last item on Mr Frenchie's sight seeing list. However between the cab rides, long garden walks, lunch break and fake-food-spotting stops we were all a bit Templed-out, so we hit gold and then hit the cab stand.

This was the most we've packed into one day and we still managed to stop for lunch and toffee apples.
However, after getting back to our hotel and kicking off our boots, putting up our swollen feet, we discovered there was a rare showing of traditional Japanese theater including a Geisha dance just 10 minutes from the hotel. 
Boots back on and off we went..

Fake Food Fetish

She-Who-Worships-Pink has developed a weird fascination with the plastic display meals that fill so many Tokyo restaurant windows.
Last night we were passing a restaurant that happened to have some stools out side and the Pinkster grabbed one to sit on, pulling it up to the window.
"Mummy, Daddy, can I just watch the fake food?"

She's become a fake-food tourist. Our days sightseeing have been heavily  punctuated with frantic pointing and gleeful shouts of ;" FAKE FOOD! FAKE FOOD!" After which she spends at least five minutes per window, appreciating the displays, identifying and critiquing the authenticity of each piece.  

And making me take films and photographs of course. :0)

Here we have some fine examples of fake beans, fake burgers, fake muscles, fake ships and even fake beer.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Postcard from Kyoto

Kyoto; not exactly love at first sight. Coming out of the polish and landscaped gardens of the Hyatt the streets seem like a grimier, disorganised version of Tokyo.  Minus the startlingly  innovative architecture of the skyscrapers and elevated walkways.

Then we turn up a side-street and step back several centuries  into the Higashiyama area.

Every photo, even taken with my crappy iPhone 4, looks like a postcard and there are kimonos wafting all over the place. 

She-Who-Worships-Pink shouts every couple of minutes; "mummy, daddy look! Another Japanese lady- isnt she beyewful!"

We wander through the renovation of a 1300-year-old temple and on some level it reminds me of our recent incomplete bathroom refurb. I think 'You wouldn't get me to project manage this job for any money'.

We spend all day in Kyoto's 'old town' mouths open, surrounded by traditional gardens and ancient pagodas. Every building looks like a place of worship, even the tea-houses.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Kindness of Strangers

The Shinkansen Bullet Trains are no longer the worlds fastest but "their efficiency as proved by long-distance journeys timed to the minute is legendary."

UNLESS.. a major fire next to Yurakucho Station  burns through Japan Rail's transmission cables suspending  more than 100 Bullet Trains carrying 317,000 passengers,  that is.

We apparently used up some of our luck the day before, winning all those toys at Joypolis. Our reserved seating on the 1pm Bullet Train to Kyoto, deteriorated into a scrum in a long queue for a stopping most stations alternative. But in reality we were lucky to have got onto any train and only delayed by about an hour.

Photo care of Japan Times
Once again the kindness and generosity of Japanese people struck me as an elderly woman squashed herself against a window so that Pinkster and I could share the last available seat next to her. 

After being camped out on a cold windy platform, Miss Pink soon succumbed to the land of nod.  The lovely lady next to us lifted Pinkster's legs and placed them on her lap and we traveled like that for the next hour and a half. 

She lowered the window shade for us then briefly raised it to point out Mt Fuji. She moved her luggage, squashing herself more, pointing to my legs saying "long!" and gesturing that I should stretch out more.

After two and a half hours and a few frantic seat shuffles we lost sight of our new friend in the crazy rush to exit the train at Kyoto.

But there she was on the platform craning her neck, then waving madly to us. She'd waited to say goodbye and to give Miss Pink a quick hug.

I've never uttered so many heartfelt 'arigato's in all my life. 

Postcards from Tokyo - meet Robo-Pup

We finally got into the awesome National Museum of Emerging Science & Innovation; a veritable orgy of science and technology. 


I saw floor tiles that generate and store electricity destined one day for the entrances to the worlds subway stations among other places. 
Seeing how many people march through Tokyo's efficient and numerous tube stops I figure that should do the trick; cheerio Chernobyl not to mention Fukushima.

Moving about in  a space capsule, I cringed in horror, while Miss Pink got the giggles, over the astronauts' toilet facilities;  A contraption resembling an airplane's emergency face mask lined in black rubber was, I guess, for number ones...
Although we missed the big robot demo, Pinkster got to play with a cute robot puppy and a robo-baby seal. 

The latest model Robot puppies come complete with wagging tails, moving ears and mouth and digital facial expressions. Of course this technology still doesn't come close to our Orange Dog's toothy lopsided  grin or his 'I've been sucking lemons' Mona Lisa smile.

Since we were in the area- masochists that we are ( and so susceptible to begging), we took Miss Pink back to the video- game mecca: Joypolis.

She played six straight games on her favourite pogo-stick hopping race and beat both her parents. 

One the sideshow games, team mummy won a biscuit (peanut!) and a crayon (yes just one).
Team daddy won a toy pony and a large Sonic plush character.  It's official, this Mummy is rubbish at throwing, whacking and shooting.