Summer Break 2013

Haru started her summer break last week.  From what I could gather from her schedule that my wife put together for her, she is going to be pretty busy.  We took her to see Monsters University last week (which was pretty good, but I think most of the humor is aimed at adults and not small children, so she probably didn’t understand a lot of it.)  A few days later, she had a pool party with her friends.  Then she will be going to camp for a couple of days this week. Next month, there will be another cheer leading event , and we will be also be going to Hotel Mikazuki (the onsen/pool that we went to last year) and she’ll be doing all of this while juggling gymnastics, cheer practice, and all of the other stuff she normally does. So, this will be far from a boring summer break.

Haru’s gymnastics skills are progressing very nicely.  Shortly after the last cheer event, she surprised me by showing that she could do a one handed cartwheel, and not once, but several times.  She was able to do this once last year, but wasn’t able to repeat it, so it was kind of a fluke.  Now she can do it pretty consistently.   This came pretty much right after her cheer even on July 7th, so I think she was able to figure out how to do it by watching the older cheer leaders do their routine, which included a quite a few aerial stunts.  I am now trying to teacher how to do a stunt called a side aerial, which is basically a no handed cartwheel.   This is very difficult even for older kids, but I think some practice, she can do it.

Fast Tube by Casper

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Chiba House

Its been a while since we took a trip to the summer house in Chiba.  This is mainly due to the fact that every time we go there, the house is in such poor shape, that we wind up having to clean the place, which defeats our purpose for going their in the first place, which is to get away from work and to relax.  Despite it being a 3-day weekend, I told Haru and my wife that we were only going to spend one night, because I can never get a good nights sleep there.  As a matter of fact, the last time we were there, I slept in the bed where my older cousin usually sleeps when he’s there.  For some reason, the bed was damp and moist,  and it smelled really badly.  Initially, I thought it was the air conditioner leaking water on to the bed and the water caused mold and mildew to form on the mattress.  But after only one night of sleeping on that bed, I develop rashes all over my body and part of my face.  The rash and the itching lasted several days which compounded my distaste in going out to that house.  I never figured out what caused my rash and itching.  My theory about the air conditioner could have been true, but it a BRAND NEW air conditioner which barely had any use on it, so it’s hard to believe that it would leak already.  I also have another theory that my cousin (being somewhat of overweight slob) sweated all over that mattress and the sweat never really evaporated completely because of the high humidity and the bed spread and sheets that covered it.  Its a pretty disgusting thought, but I can’t think of any other reason for that bed being wet.

This time around, the house was reasonably clean.  There weren’t green things growing in the refrigerator, no small bugs crawling on the furniture, or any dead roaches in the bathroom like the previous times.  I didn’t check to see if the bed was still wet;  I was so thoroughly disgusted the last time that I really didn’t want to know.  I thought it’d be best to just sleep in another room this time to be safe.  Most of the air conditioners worked which was really important because it was really hot, so cleanliness-wise, the weekend got off to a good start.

We had dinner at our usual restaurant in town and bought some hickory chips and fire crackers on the way back.  My cousin had bought a smoker -nothing too fancy, just metal box with a door – so that we could make smoked cheese, hence the hickory chips.  When we got home Haru and my wife did the fire crackers; I just took pictures (see below).

We then fired up the smoker and loaded it some cheese that we bought at the local supermarket.  After about an hour and half of smoking the cheese, it was ready for sampling and I must say, it was pretty nice.  Haru didn’t seem to care much for it.  She seem to prefer eating ice cream instead.  But she had so much fun on the first day, that she wanted to stay another night.  We didn’t have any plans for the following Monday, but I did want to get enough rest  for work on Tuesday.  So I told her that if I can sleep well (which I usually can’t in that house), that I will consider staying until Monday, and she was very happy about that.

The next was suppose to rain.  Haru wanted play in the portable pool that my cousin left at the house.   She even woke up earlier than usual (about 7am) and by 8AM she was ready for the pool.  I managed to sleep really well.  I had the whole bed to myself and didn’t have Haru waking me up too early as she usually does on weekends.  She was already preparing the pool by the time I got out of bed at 8:30.

The weather was perfect for the pool.  It was almost 30 degrees Celsius at 8AM and there were no signs of rain. Haru and my wife filled up the big plastic pool with water, and Haru pulled out her mermaid dolls and squirt gun from her back pack and through them into the pound of water.  She immediately dove in and practiced holding her breath under water.  Soon afterwards, she discovered how fun it was to jump from the top step of the porch into the pool.  Overall, she spent the entire morning and part of the afternoon with the pool.  Again she asked me if we really had to go home on that day.  I was pretty well-rested and she really looked to be enjoying the trip, so we decided to stay another day.  The afternoon was spent just relaxing and enjoying the house.

Later that evening, we went to a nearby restaurant that specialized in seafood, we managed to get a seat by the window that had a great view of Tokyo bay.  Haru had her usual sushi and ate all of it.  She even had room for ice cream afterwards.  We spent a quiet evening at the house and turned in for the evening.

The next day, I was up earlier than everyone else.  I started preparing for our trip back home.  A few minutes later Haru and my wife came down.  Haru asked if we could stay yet another day, but I explained to her that I had work and she had kindergarten the next day, to which she responded, “okay then we’ll come back next week.”  For the first time in a  long time, the trip to the Chiba house was a good one.  We got the rest we needed and Haru had a lot of fun.  The whole trip home (or until she fell asleep in the car) she kept saying “goodbye Chiba, see you next week!”  So, I guess we have our vacation plans set for next week MONTH.


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7/7 Tanabata

July 7th was Tanabata (七夕) or the Evening of the Seventh, and every year Haru has a cheer leading event on this day.  This year was no different.  Haru and her cheer leading team gave a presentation in front a local department store in front of literally hundreds of people, and did very well.

It was a hot day, a very hot day.  Temperatures were in the high 30’s (Celsius).  We arrived at the department store where the event was being held about an hour and half before Haru’s event started to secure a good seat close to the stage.  I managed to secure a couple of seats in the middle of seating section so I was pretty pleased.

Cheer leading wasn’t the only event of the day.  There were several events, including gospel singing, square dancing, a blind boy playing a piano, etc.  None of the really attracted a big crowd and most of the seats were empty when these events were going on.  Naturally, I thought that Haru’s cheer leading event wouldn’t be all that popular either.  Besides, who really cares about watching a bunch of kindergarten and elementary school aged kids cheer lead, aside from the parents, right?  Well, I was wrong…VERY wrong.

As the blind boy did his performance (which seemed like it went on for hours at one point) most of the seats cleared out.  Not because boy played poorly (as a matter of fact her as pretty well) but more because it was so hot outside, most people headed inside the store or  stayed in the shade.  I took this opportunity to seek a better seat closer to the stage, and I managed secure a couple of seats in the front row.  Excellent, now I can get some really good  shots…. so I thought.

After the blind boy finished his performance, the MC announced that the cheer leaders were next.  At that moment, literally hundreds of people flocked to the spectators area like band of rats to a rotting peace of cheese .  Then the MC announced that people were allowed to sit right in front of the stage, and then about 150 people basically rushed the stage and made it almost impossible for us to see anything from where we sitting.  Needless to say, I was LIVID, and I wasn’t the only one.  There were boos by the sitting crowd, some of who came really early like we did to secure good seats.   I wasn’t having it.  I didn’t sit in scorching heat for nearly two hours, just to look at the back of someones head.  I grabbed my camera and literally shoved my way through the crowd who very rudely CUT IN FRONT OF US to reclaim by rightful spot up front, so that I can get a better shot.  People weren’t too happy, but I really didn’t care.

We wound up having to sit on the scorching hot concrete which was burning my skin.  It really hurt, but I tried to endure it as best I could until the show was over.  The only thing that got me through it was the hope of getting really good pictures, and knowing that Haru was having to endure hotter temperatures sitting on a flat black mat on the stage.  At least I was wearing jeans, she was wearing only a thin polyester skirt.

The entire presentation lasted about 15 minutes.  I personally didn’t see any noticeable mistakes, by Haru and she did very well.  All in all, I am glad I went despite the heat and the rude insensitive people and the stupid MC who allowed people cut in front of us.


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