A few of the many things I’ve been blessed with

D&D with Hotaru and the guys
My beautiful, beautiful wife ❤
My faithful cat, Chokoretto (gotta love nap time)
My adorable, wonderful daughter ❤ (at my dad’s radio show)
My amazingly creative dad, doing what he loves most
Best. Moms. Ever.
Tons of support

And more…

So, let the arthritis be only a small pebble on the way.

I live to laugh and love a lot, that’s all I need.

Hotaru the Minotaur

Last Sundays’s D&D session got moved to Monday because it was a holiday but Michiru’s boss made her work anyway, so she and Hotaru couldn’t go out as usual. Knowing Hotaru loves roleplaying, I told the guys she’d be with me that day and suggested to give her a pregen and let her tag along rather than cancel. After all, two of them had already roleplayed with her the week before last when I narrated that story about dinosaurs she and Michiru wanted and had been impressed by her ability to stay focused and contribute to the situation. So naturally they all agreed she could tag along and play the tank our party had been desperately needing. I thought she’d be bummed to play a minotaur but it turns out she loved playing something outside her comfort-zone and loved it even if she had to play a character that wasn’t cute or even a girl.

This time Hotaru intervened a lot more and in crucial moments too. She was the one who discovered the entrance to the secret lab we’d been sent to investigate after all of us had seasoned players just forgot to explore the entire room we had been resting in. Then my hippie centaur ruined it by losing the evidence we collected after being being too legal but that’s a whole different story I don’t wish to dwell in. The point is Hotaru had fun and acted and spoke of her own free will, healing and dealing damage and helping unlock doors barred by heavy objects. It was nice playing with her and I’m looking forward to doing it again. I suspect there’s a lot someone her age can learn from roleplaying, from good group dynamics and cooperation to negotiation and situation analysis.

Michiru’s mom is being less toxic with her lately, but there’s still something going on with her. Last Saturday she spent all night criticizing everything Michiru did in an old homemade video Miki had played for us durign her birthday party. I, on the other hand, got to see Michiru play as a young kid and fell in love with her all over again. I noticed she maintains some of the tics and habits she had at seven years old, which was sweet and the way she went about protesting when people misbehaved was uber cute. I don’t know what came through my mind before, fearing how our children would turn out. If we have more children, I definitely want them to look just like her. Bossy righteous temper and all!

Talking about my wife, she was sad that her mom told her Miki’s friend who got married the weekend before us (thus getting a sunny wedding day rather than a flood) is already three months pregnant. I honestly don’t know what’s going on inside that woman’s head but telling your daughter who’s sad about her failed attempts at tryging to conceive via IUI that someone else got it to happen for them quickly, easily and the old natural way IS JUST TOO CRUEL. And I don’t like to trashtalk Michiru’s mom because it’s her mother and all, but I can’t overlook someone being disrespectful and outright sadistic towards the woman I love, the love of my life, my wife, my life partner… I’m trying to wait and see, hoping the tendency to be less mean she has had of late keeps on gaining momentum. That’d be wonderful, because when she isn’t criticizing or trying to micromanage other adults’ lives she can be super fun to be around and she’s a great cook too.

Also, she took Hotaru to the theater last Sunday. They had a blast. The play was a classic and Hotaru loved it. I’m glad she’s decided to be grandma and form her own one on one relationship with Hotaru because although I’m always a little worried at how having someone like her around will affect her in the long run, she’l definitely be a part of our next child’s life and it wouldn’t be fair if Hotaru didn’t get to call her grandma while the other kid did. This way at least the two of them will be able to talk about her like equals and forge their own opinions on her behavior as they grow up.
The sofa Michiru and I ordered two weeks ago is being delivered later today. I’m so excited we’ll finally have the kind of sofa I’ve been in love with for over fifteen years. Michiru and I have been talking a lot about redecorating lately and there’s several projects we’ve embarked in but it’s mainly the art studio upstairs, our bedroom and the living-room. The cupboards at the barbecue room will be painted white too and I’d like to do something about our ghastly kitchen but that’d take a lot more money. The new heater we bought for the living room fireplace (and its installation) were expensive enough as is so all the improvements we’ve been discussing involve little budget a tad of paing and a lot of furniture rearanging.
My rheumatoid arthritis is improving greatly with Dr. Susan Blum’s diet and the probiotics. I’m also using homeopathy and cannabidiol to keep inflammation in check without invasive traditional meds like Methotrexate and such which I refuse to take as they’re very toxic for the body.

I’m still mad at Setsuna despite us allegedly having made out. I just can’t overlook the fact that she’s doing to someone else what my parents did to me which resulted in severe trauma, phobias and chronic depression for years. I’d be enabling and although I don’t feel inclined to cut her out of my life, I do intend to let it cool until we barely speak anymore. I was waiting to see if I’d eventually stop feeling mad at her, as it often happens when we keep our distance for a couple of months but even the idea of talking to her is cringe-inducing. I don’t want toxic people in my life, people who’d rather consume than create, whose most meaningful experiences happen as interatcions inside a computer videogame and who have the discipline and self-control of a mite. It’s sad, though, because I wanted to get over it (or have her fix her priorities) but it is what it is.

Hotaru got a certificate and a daruma and a pencil for participating in that oratory contest and was happy about it. Other chlidren got cute kokeshi dolls but she loved the daruma most because it’d grant her a wish. I love the fact she can put hardship and pain behind her and move on, stronger and empowered. Losing was horribly crushing for her but I blame the teachers. They never informed her the date of the contest and she thought there were still two more weeks to finish learning and practicing the second half of the text, or that the time she read aloud in front of the entire school had been it. So she kept practicing for weeks after the gig was over and she had been poorly judged for reading the first half amazingly and the rest ok. Had she known the dates she’d have organized her time better and studied the whole text harder rather than just half of it as her sensei said… so I’m also blaming her for that.

This year’s sensei is no good and I don’t meant to be disrespectful to people with a hearing impairment, but this teacher has speaks so poorly the children don’t understand what she says half the time. And I’m not exaggerating, I don’t understand her either and I’ve talked to her a few times this year already. Not all people with a hearing impairment speaks like she does. Michiru’s right ear is 100% deaf but she still has her left ear intact and speaks just fine. Hotaru’s teacher? I can’t tell whether she’s speaking Spanish, Japanese or English most of the time. She shouldn’t be teaching a foreign language. Math, perhaps or Geography. The school should assign her to higher grades where they have finer tuned ears and such. Perhaps they thought third graders would have less to lose by not understanding what’s being explained to them.

At any rate, Hotaru will study harder next year. I didn’t mention it before because seeing her cry and sob for 45 minutes straight was heartbreaking for me. Especially when I offered to treat her to ice-cream and she declined… four times! But we talked A LOT about that and she understood the situation and learned the valuable lesson that sometimes talent and hard work aren’t enough to grant us our dreams and that the right course of action isn’t to resent who got our desired spot but to root for them and try again next year. I’m glad she’s not the jealous type and understood it well.

Ok, scratch the part about me feeling better, my neck is SO STIFF today. It doesn’t hurt or anything (unless I try to push my limits and move it more than it can) which is good. I still wish I had a full motion range like I did two weeks ago.
Hotaru, Michiru and I can’t wait for summer. We’ve been fantasizing about our next holidays a lot and even I can’t wait to go back to the sea and the mountains.

Arts and crafts

Her first electric project!

Hotaru’s second report card came back and we couldn’t be prouder.
She got straight As in Japanese, Bs in English (which makes no sense since she’s bilingual but whatever) and a mix of both in Spanish. All the other subjects like music and P.E. are all A+ as well, as expected. She’s very proud of herself and happy her hard work paid off. I love that attitude of hers. Other children don’t care much about their grades, especially if the’re good.

She’s super excited about a new school project where they’ll teach her to weave her own rugs. They were supposed to start today but some boys didn’t have all the materials and they postponed it ’till tomorrow. Her crafts are getting more and more complex. Today she made a birthday card for her friend Lulu and it was beautiful. It took some help from Michiru and I because the plastic we had available wasn’t sturdy enough and it needed to be reinforced before it behaved like needed, but she did most of it herself and the result is amazing. You pull out a blank drawing of Litten from a purple frame and it comes out colored but goes back to being white once you put it back in the frame. Interesting little project. I hope her friend likes it for she put a lot of effort into it. I also hope I remember to bring the actual present along with me when I pick her up. It’s a night lamp that Hotaru made herself from scratch (yes, electrical connections and all though she didn’t interact with actual electricity working only in the circuitry and waiting for me to plug it in to test the result).

Hotaru works hard in her music every day.

Oh, by the way, Hotaru’s card and present for Kouchou Sensei did turn up the following day. It appears her Sensei took it to the headmaster’s office after class so it wouldn’t get stained by the food the children were eating and she forgot to notify Hotaru, for which she sent Michiru an apology note. All’s well that ends well.

The crabs in my life ❤

July the 20th was my dad’s birthday (and Friend’s day). We had a nice family dinner and things between him and I were so good I suggested we had dinner at his place the day Michiru stopped by to trim Ula’s claws. We had a blast! My dad might not have been the best of parents but he’s a decent granddad and Hotaru knows how to handle him anyway 😉 But the point is I’m happy we’re getting along this well lately. I hope for many more good times to come.

Our Kokoa is too beautiful for this world…

Michiru’s mom stopped by for lunch last Saturday and brought her hat collection over for it was taking up too much space in Miki’s room or something. Hotaru inherited a couple of said hats and looks as cute as fluff in them.

It was quite a busy day, actually. Aunt Grace came over for tea and my mom for supper. Fun times =D

Sorry for the eclectic post. I’m in a lot of physical pain tonight because of the arthritis and I’ve also come down with the flu, so thinking straight is quite hard but I won’t let that ruin my mood.

On morals and hypocrisy

First of all, let me say that Hotaru is a lot tougher than I gave her credit for and certainly a lot more than I was at her age. Then again, I didn’t have the kind of emotional support from my family she gets from Michiru and I but I digress. I was applying my Testosterone gel tonight and got thinking about the values we’re teaching Hotaru. As a grown up, I think they’re the right ones and I feel absolutely bursting with pride whenever she reflects the patience, perseverance, discipline and responsibility we’ve been trying to instill her for years… and still, I can’t help but feel a bit like a hypocrite because, although I do hold those values high and can honestly say I do live by them now, they’re not what I valued at her age.

When I was in third grade, I absolutely despised neat, responsible little know-it-alls who always did their homework, never answered an insult with another insult and ran to the teacher for help whenever trouble arose rather than physically fighting the person who had injuriated or otherwise hurt them, which is exactly what Hotaru is growing into. I mean, that is what I do today, I live by the rules and try to be efficient, responsible and neat but, back then? I would have wanted to hit her senseles for being so perfect and oblivious to the inequities of this world where fair people gets trampled and thieves almost always win. I do make a point of talking to her about just how lucky she is for not being bullied, for having parents who love her and stand by her and understand her emotional needs and give her tools to work through the unfairness of this world and the frustration it evokes but sometimes I’m not sure talking is enough to convey to her just how hard it was for me growing up and exactly how extremely fortunate she is for not crying herself to sleep every night like some of her friends do… and like I did. That being said, let’s move on to what actually happened:

Mugen Gakuen’s Elementary Headmaster was hospitalized last week due to a scheduled surgery. Hotaru has a good relationship with the man whom we all admire for his professionalism and heartwarming dedication so she decided to make him a get well soon card that she spend hours working on. She took it to school today along with a gift of green tea for other teachers to give it to him as an omimai if/when they visited him at hospital. The idea was for her to leave the bag with both card and present at the Headmaster’s office after the rest of her classmates signed their names during breakfast. They did but then, when she came back from lunch break the bag, which she had left inside her closed backpack, was gone.

The teacher had her classmates search their own backpacks and they all looked around the school but no one could find it. Hotaru was sad, shocked and very hurt by having something stolen from inside her bag though this is hardly news. One of her manga books (which she had lent to her friend Lulu) got stolen from her best friend’s bag two weeks ago right before Lulu could return it to her during recess. A few months back various drawings and other things were stolen from other girls and last year someone stole Matsu’s LOL stickers and broke Diana’s back pack. I’m sad to inform we’re inclined to think of ourselves as “lucky” because all of this was the work of a single boy rather than common behaviour as it is the case in most public schools and some private ones as well. Still, I had hoped things like this didn’t happen in Mugen Gakuen, it being a Japanese school and all. Guess it’s not their fault it’s full of us gaijins and our nasty habits.

I wasn’t feeling well, so Michiru went to pick up Hotaru from her Taiko training alone. She informed me of what happened through text message and I was seeing red. Still, not being there helped me keep my cool so I crawled out of bed and bought Hotaru more art supplies so she could make Kouchou Sensei a new card (she had used her last bits of color card stock for it). I also stopped by the hardware store and picked up a (rather cute) padlock for her backpack and then made a last stop at the tea store but the place was closed. I called Michiru to inform her of this setback and she confessed to have bought Hotaru more card stock as well. We laughed in delight at the isshin denshin moment and she handed the phone over to Hotaru so I could give her my own version of a pep talk on the way home.

Hotaru was a lot more cheerful by the time I got back and we got to work on the new card at once while Michiru calmed Ami down over the phone (she’s seriously ill and was having a nervous breakdown of some sort) oversaw the dinner I had left simmering to make sure it didn’t burn. The card turned out even better looking than the first one and her kanji were neater too. Also, I found an extra bag of imported matcha in the pantry for Kouchou Sensei, so all was well. Michiru wrote the teacher a note asking her to please allow Hotaru to deliver the bag with the card and present to the Headmaster’s office right after everyone is done signing it to avoid further mishaps but what she really wanted to do was slap everyone in the school silly… and so did I.

She had previously texted the other parents about the incident but, as usual, everyone claimed kids are clumsy and lose things on an everyday basis and then lie to cover up for it. Well, not our Hotaru, that’s for sure. She’s all about justice and virtue. Well, not everyone was like that, really. Hikari, Felipe’s mother, seemed as outraged as we felt and made it clear she wasn’t happy with things continually getting stolen from everyone’s backpacks. Her son gets bullied a lot by this punk who steals and breaks things so she knows how we feel. She also sent Michiru a private message offering support and good wishes. ❤ Megumi’s mom, Elsa, with whom we’re sort of close, had a totally different approach and we’re very disappointed in her though not the least surprised by the lack of backbone she showed by informing the entire group that her daughter usually loses things too and claims someone stole them. I find it very hard to respect cowards who never take a side and try to keep peace when there’s an injustice demanding people took a stand and did something about it. Reminds me of the worst parts of my childhood and rubs me wrong in a very personal place.

But the thing is we fixed it for Hotaru. She made a new card, got a new present and a brand new padlock to prevent this from happening again. The poor thing had such a bad day. Her Taiko practice was so intense her hands were full of blisters and she could hardly open them. Luckily for her, I was sadly asigned female at birth and knew just the thing to cure blisters thanks to the ones wearing high heels had given me through the years. I had her dip her hands in warm salty water for half an hour, after which they were fully functional again 😀

Also, the bully boy made a cruel remark to her after she discovered the bag with the present was missing and she stood up to him and told him “that isn’t the least funny, you know?” in that tone angry mothers and wives use when you’re in serious trouble, so he’ll know not to mess with her again. The nerve of that little bastard, though. ¬¬

That’s her new haircut and brand new Pikachu pajamas I made for her.

Setsuna called me today, but I was in pain and rather depressed so I wasn’t good company and we didn’t talk long. It seems her pregnancy is going well so far. She’s on her 24th week so the diabetes specialist said she’s ready to start using insulin until delivery. I’ll try to call her back tomorrow and apologize for being so aloof. I really was in a crappy place today, though I don’t know whether I’ll have the time. I’ve promised my mom I’d configure her brand new all-in-one for her since she doesn’t understand modern operative systems (which is kind of ironic her being a programmer and all). And then we’ve an appointment at a government agency to update some of our personal information and after that Hotaru and I are supposed to meet Michiru at my dad’s for tea/dinner or some other form of eating, though the main reason we’re going is Michiru promised to trim my dad’s cat’s claws since neither him nor his wife know how… and Ula is fairly aggressive to be honest. She’s a carey they found at their back yard a few years back but acts like an indoor kitty most of the time these days.

That’s the Espeon pajamas I’ve made for her (Umbreon and Eevee are too small already). She was helping me work by writing the receipts for the girls since one day she’ll inherit everything the light touches, Simba. LOL (live action movie sucks)

Tomorrow is Michiru’s sister’s birthday. I hope I don’t forget to send Miki a text of some sort. Perhaps some Hufflepuff themed virtual card or something. The party is the saturday after next so we still have some time to get her a proper present. I like her new boyfriend. He’s much nicer than the last and very funny to talk to. Seems like a good guy. Hope she doesn’t break his heart.

Winter Break

Winter break has been nice so far. Hotaru built a night lamp from scratch for Lulu’s birthday which is on August the 13th. By the way, her insufferable mother finally allowed her to visit us when my good friend Agus organized a Gravity Falls themed tabletop RPG session for Hotaru and five of her closest friends.

Aunt Grace came over for lunch and an afternoon of goofy board games (she’s the hostess of a radio show these days!). And my dad took Hotaru out for lunch and then treated her to an hour at the arcade center. Michiru’s sister organized two sleepovers where they watched too many movies and ate candy. Not precisely my cup of tea but since it’s not an everyday occurrence…

The fertility treatment didn’t work out but we’ll go in for another round in a couple of months. Every girl and woman in the family was bummed, but I believe that if it’s meant to be it’ll eventually happen.

We installed a new heater in the living room so the place is much cozier now. It has fake ceramic logs and makes the mantlepiece look complete at last. I’ve fulfilled my lifelong dream of sitting in front of a “fire” with my legs stretched and toasty warm as I read under a thick blanket with a tea cup in one hand and a cat curled on my lap.

Hotaru and I played KoiKoi and Magic The Gathering often, and I’ve been teaching her a few new songs for the bass guitar. She’s such a fast learner! Her piano skills are amazing already and although her lyrical singing could use some improvement, it’s getting better fast. She’s planning on singing Nightwish’s Nemo at the school’s internal talent show this year.

Oh, and she’s been reading like crazy, rereading the Harry Potter saga and Roal Dahl’s Mathilda. She read HP5 to me for two hours tonight after we were done studying Japanese Kanji. Such a grown up intonation and clear voice. It was a real treat. ❤

I’ve been a bit blue as of late. The worsening of my Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms haunts me through the day and I can’t remember the last time I felt inspired enough to work on my novel. I’m blaming SAD for it. At least partially, and hope spring brings new hope for me, though I’ve been fighting depression woth all my strenght, for I refuse to let it overcome or paralyze me without a fight. I feel I’ve been winning some terrain in the past two or so days. The strict diet Dr. Susan Blum recommends in her book Healing Arthritis helps me tons to reduce inflammation (and pain) and stay functional, but there’s still a long way to go before remission. The fact that pain and swelling have been keeping me from playing the bass guitat and hitting the gym (plus the limitation of eating the same 15 ingredients every day) weights heavily on ny heart. My friend Francisco has been very supportive and a great listener and so has Nacho.

Michiru and I have been daydreaming about a date night since Winter Break began and we’re looking forward to next weekend. We’re also picking new furniture for our home office and art attelier and working on the blueprints for the new floor we’ll be adding to the house next year.

In the meanwhile, I’ve started daydreaming about summer and next year’s vacation since we had so muv fun last year. Hotaru and Michiru are already discussing plans and activities. We’re likely to distribute our time at the sea and the mountains more evenly this year, hoping to go for more horseback rides on the former and hiking trails on the latter. I’m only moderately disappointed that I won’t achieve my goal of swimming topless this time either, as the RA has prevented me from working out at home as well but the HRT has shrunk my chest enough for me to feel comfortable in a T-shirt anyway. I know I will sorely miss swimming, but waiting and eventyally exercising beats going through top surgery. I’d rather go the natural way anyway.

Michiru is super excited about the building project that will allow her to finally be a stay at home mom and artist while I’m quietly optimistic. We’re still waiting for the government’s approval, so it might take a while, but my mom is confident they will approve it eventually. At any rate, the project is in good hands.

To the theater

Michiru’s mom decided to play grandma last Saturday and took Hotaru to a theater play’s avant premiere before the Kareeraisu Paati held at Mugen Gakuen. Apparently, some of her famous friends were in it. I learned afterwards that the themes weren’t precisely children-friendly as the play involved actors wearing red shoes to symbolize the blood chains we keep our animals in or something of the sort. I wanted to protest but Hotaru said she had a nice time and didn’t seem particularly shaken or disinclined to eat meat afterward so I kept quiet.

Later on, we all went for coffee and then Michiru’s mom told us about her friend who’s supposed to come up with the right questions for the upcoming national census. The conversation somehow evolved into a gender right debate when she insisted transgender people should agree to answer the tricky questions designed to spot us, even if we identify as “MEN” or “WOMEN” rather than “TRANS” because it’d be beneficial for us in the long run if the government knew, even if the questions were poised in a disrespectful, dysphoria induced way. I had to keep rolling willpower to giving her a piece of my mind, especially when she started explaining to me how I felt on the matter was wrong and what I should be feeling instead… as if I didn’t know my own mind. I must have missed a few rolls, though, for at one point I said: “You can’t tell me what I feel or don’t feel because you’re not me and I’m perfectly aware of what my thoughts and feelings are while you can’t possibly be.” Michiru kicked me under the table. LOL. I TRY to be good, I swear, but she just pushes my buttons. I hate Virgoes with a passion. Can’t help it.

Anyway… it’s good that she’s been trying to bond with Hotaru since Michiru and I won’t have anyone treat her any different from the child we might be expecting and the only way for that to happen is if they spend time bonding one on one. Speaking of which… last test came negative at 9dpo but it was still too early to test anyway. We’re waiting until tomorrow morning to test again and then, maybe on Sunday, which is when we were supposed to actually test. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and, by the way, I’ve apologized at Setsuna (though I didn’t mean it) and are still pissed at her. But it’s no biggie. She’s also mad at me and hasn’t replied to my message… not that it matters. I’m not willing to be friends with someone who is willing to put their vices and whims before their children’s health.

Speaking of Setsuna, the situation is made even more awkward by the fact that Hotaru spent last Sunday at her place modeling and crafting while Michiru and I had a little walk around Chinatown so they could get some alone-time. I hate these awkward situations.

The big 9

When did she get this old!? You can even catch a glimpse of a sassy teenager in her voice and facial expression every now and then!

Hotaru turned 9 this month. She’s growing up so well ❤ I’m proud of the person she’s become.

We had a small family reunion that Monday night and then dinner with Michiru’s family on Wednesday and with her grandparents on Saturday. All three parties went well and Hotaru was excited and happy to share that special day with everyone she loves.

Well, almost everyone. Rami, her best friend of the past six years (along with Lulu) was in Europe with his family for two weeks and couldn’t attend any of her parties, so Michiru and I talked to his mother asking if she’d allow him to borrow her phone and send her a message. It was a big if, for the woman despises us, but she likes Hotaru and agreed. They even bought her a birthday card. She was thrilled to get it when he resumed school last week.

Her official party, though, the one with all her classmates, was a complete disaster (yet again!), though this year it was sort of Emma’s fault. Hotaru wanted a D&D themed birthday with several tables of RPGing games available for her and her friends. Emma (one of the other two children she celebrates it with, the other being Marco), said RPGing was boring and wanted something more exciting, thus suggesting a Laser Shooting themed party at a special venue. A very pricey one, I might say. I had no problem with that, since Hotaru agreed and we were only going to pay 1/3 of it anyway.

However, when I pay for something to be handled by professionals, I expect them to be exactly that. Halfway through the party, one of the organizers comes out of the Laser Shooting range calling for mothers to help him. I got up and he said “No, not fathers, mothers.” And that rubbed me all sorts of wrong. If there’s something wrong at my child’s birthday party I’ll BE THERE to see what’s going on.

Turns out 25 out of 27 children were crying. Yes. The boys too. Something to do with one of the teams cheating. Hotaru says her team was winning and then she was supposed to find a hidden pistol in the maze and when she did, this girl Malena came from out of nowhere and took it from her, hitting her in the process so she dropped the gun and, thus ensuring her team a victory by cheating. Both girls started yelling and then crying and, up to that point it was all right. But then the men in charge tried to calm them down and their friends jumped in to defend each side and then they yelled at all the children and everyone started crying. It was a disaster. The only people not crying were Feli and Mori (which is kinda funny considering they’re both big criers!).

Michiru calmed Hotaru down and I went to talk to the owner, explaining that I’m perfectly capable of making children cry unassisted and that if I hire them to handle the entertainment it’s because I expect someone with actual experience in handling children to make them laugh and know exactly how to defuse these bound to happen situations when they occur. I mean, it’s not like their price was cheap either. She mocked me and the kids played in the labyrinth for a little longer but there was more drama and the other two birthday boy and girl continued to cry in their parents’ laps so they ushered them to the food table.

After that, they were supposed to go back in for a different laser mission but instead of that the group was placed in front of a giant screen to play Just Dance, something I could have done in my own living room for free. Okay, the entertainer gave them a few orders to perform while dancing but then he forgot what they were and messed up the entire game yet again. I made such a fuss about it all that the owner ended up charging us less for the party which would have been fine had I given a rat’s butt about money. The fact that my daughter’s party was ruined can’t be changed and that’s what counts to me. By the time we sang happy birthday, Hotaru was the only birthday girl who wasn’t still weeping. This can happen in a 2year old birthday party but they were turning 8 and 9. Kids that age aren’t supposed to cry as everyone cheers for them.

Still, I’m happy we’re raising Hotaru right. I mean, Michiru told her “stop crying for a second and think: your class mate is a cheater, is this really something for you to cry about?” and that sobered her up at once as she realized it wasn’t worth her time and let it go. The other kids continued to cry for two hours. Clearly, their parents aren’t giving them the right tools to handle life. And they will find lots of frustrating people in life.

So, Hotaru got pre-selected to represent her class at the Oratory Contest next month. She’s thrilled about it and has been practicing nonstop since. She was also asked to read the story in front of half the school along with the other contestants, three from 3 年 A-gumi, two from 2 年 A gumi, one from 2 年 B gumi and herself, as the first graders are too young to participate.

At Hotaru’s request, I’ve been helping her practice before dinner but although she wanted guidance about the right intonation for each phrase, she got a bit frustrated when it didn’t magically happen on the first few tries and had a brief meltdown last monday. We had a talk about hard work and how long it usually takes to learn to do something right and how long it took Michiru and I get our own scripts right when we competed back in the day. That motivated her and she even laughed at my jokes while we practiced last Friday night. She’s already memorized the whole story so now it’s only a matter of practicing the pace and accents of proper reading.

This is not an internal event so there’ll be other schools at the competition, which means being selected to represent her class is kind of a big deal and the whole family is proud of her for getting this far already. Even Michiru’s mom was excited that she did so well despite her usual disapproval towards anything Japanese.

The school’s Baseball team hosted their yearly Karee Raisu Paati which includes a night of karaoke and the aforementioned food at the school’s dinning room. It was fun. Hotaru sang with her friends and Michiru and I got to talk to Luz and Lola’s mom for a while. The former is always fun to be around and interacting with the latter will hopefully make us better liked/understood by that particular family, if only because we never had the chance to talk to one for a long period of time before. There were other parents and it was nice enough. Hotaru’s BFF’s mom was there and said hi to everyone else from their class except for us and sat in the opposite end of the table, which was very rude of her but at least she brought her kid along, so the two of them had a nice time. Today, the former headmistress congratulated Hotaru on her singing.

Hotaru, Michiru and I celebrated Tanabata making decorations and writing our wishes in tanzaku that we hung from our bamboo tree. My mother, Elsa and other people asked us to hang their wishes as well, so we did. It was nice and fulfilling. I love family activities.

Also, Michiru and I went to the fertility clinic last week. We’re in the dreaded two week wait now. Fingers crossed.

Oh, and Setsuna and I had a huge fight today over the fact that she continues to smoke although she’s almost five months pregnant and already lost one of the embryos at 8 weeks. I’m greatly disappointed in her, as usual and also as usual, she’s mad at me for asking her to grow a pair and take the hard, righteous path. No one is the least surprised about it.