08 January, 2014

What we did in the second half of December

Everything's back up and running again now after the Christmas holidays. The boys went back to school on Monday and I'm back at my desk in good health.

Christmas Morning Tea

Here's what we've been up to over the last few weeks, just in case you've been wondering.

School finishing
The boys finished school on the 18th of December with a bit of a bang (parties), but things slowed down for us pretty quickly from there. The day after school finished was wet and miserable, so we happily stayed home.

Guests before Christmas
The next day, Friday, we had two lots of guests for morning and afternoon tea. One lot were an Australian family with our mission who are currently studying Japanese. 

One Saturday morning I woke up late with the realisation that I hadn't beaten the cold that had been knocking at my door for a few days and it all went downhill from there until about Tuesday. I basically hardly left the house for a whole week (barring one doctor's visit, one trip to the grocery store in the car, and one Christmas Eve service). Indeed I barely left the downstairs heated lounge/dining area for several days.
One of the views from our apartment in the mountains.

Christmas Day and following
Christmas was a quiet affair in which none of us (barring one rubbish bearer) left the house, though we talked to family in Australia via Skype. We had a yummy morning tea (Christmas Fruit Cake, chocolate balls, Fruit Mince Pies etc.) and a Roast Chicken Dinner. Presents were joyfully unwrapped after breakfast, as is our tradition, and well enjoyed through the rest of the day. Of particular, and unexpected joy, were the 100 yen stick-on moustaches and the reindeer antler headband!
A ski slope.

We also enjoyed some Morning Tea guests after Christmas too, delayed from before Christmas due to my health.

On the 27th our youngest went off to a friend's house for a sleepover and we took the older two out to dinner at a local shopping centre. Advantage of this: we ate at a Food Court and David and I could eat Indian food, while the boys ate Japanese. I don't think we could get the boys to eat Indian, their mouths are too sensitive to spice, so this was a treat for us all.

Soaking up the sun while the guys skied.
On the 28th, we packed up and drove north-west to our favourite winter holiday spot: Karuizawa. We ensconced ourselves in the old OMF house and settled down to some good old-fashioned board games, cross-stitch, sleep-ins, and reading. So relaxing! 

The guys also went skiing (I didn't, I was still recovering from my cold and asthma bout). We celebrated New Year's Eve with friends and colleagues (eight boys ranging in age from 18 months to 19, four of them were teenagers). And we went to our favourite-in-Japan all you can eat restaurant on New Year's Day. On the 2nd of January we went Ten Pin Bowling and almost all did abysmally! That pain was quickly soothed for the boys by going to the Lego Shop. We gave them each some money (not a lot) to spend, two of the boys also added some of their own pocket money.

Returning Home
We came home on Saturday, two days before school started again. It was nice to be back and our lazy habits of holidays stuck with us. It's been a hard start at school because we've all wanted to stay up late and sleep in. Additionally our bedrooms are very cold in the morning (less than 10 degrees Celsius), which means it's hard to get going.

Getting going on homework and instrument practise after school has also been a big issue. The guys are preferring to drift around like they are on holidays thinking about this or that rather than being focused. I can't imagine what it is like at school for the teachers! Difficult thing is that this break doesn't happen at a logical spot in the school year: the end of semester is still a couple of weeks off. So they've had to jump straight back into things, including full-on homework! I guess we'll get into the routine again sometime soon, at least I hope so—it's been a bit painful!

So there it is, folks, a summary of our short 2 ½ week Christmas break. I hope you enjoyed (or are continuing to enjoy) yours. It was certainly timely for us. Generally we have a happier crew now, after getting some much needed down-time. Hopefully that effect will last at least till the end of January.

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