Our daughter’s school resumed yesterday for the second semester for the Japanese school year (April – March). After a month and a half of summer break, she was so excited she got out of her bed in the morning and jumped up and down in delight.
Since May, I got very busy with my freelance job and didn’t feel like posting anything. But I decided to resume my posting, especially because my bento making obligation will only last for another half a year. Our daughter will start her elementary school in next April, which comes with delicious & healthy school lunches.
Salmon rice requested by my daughter, Tofu & shirasu (baby sardine) omelet, Leftover Shepherd’s pie, Boiled broccoli
Nashi pear for dessert
I’ve been told a few times what colourful bento I make. Looking at other people’s arty and beautiful bento images via Instagram or Pinterest, they may be right, the bento I make are quite lively and bright compared to theirs.
But it’s almost automatic for me. For me the colour palette in my daughter’s bento is totally normal. It’s how my mum used to make bento for me. And it always consists of three main colours: red, green and yellow. Maybe it’s time for me to explore a bit more, incorporating ingredients with more complex or subtle colours, so that I can potentially teach my daughter about the world of Wabi Sabi (and I have to learn it first).
My daughter sometimes gets fussy with spinach or komatsuna greens. When that happens I usually mix it (boiled, chopped & drained) in to the rice. With a bit of salt to taste, it transforms to be one of her favorite rice dishes.
Lately, I’ve been getting a lot more translation assignments. It’s a client driven business, so it’s highly due date sensitive. Because of that, I couldn’t post any of the bento pics last week, working my head off to meet the deadline.
I work freelance from home, primarily because I want to be flexible enough to have ample time with my daughter. She’s the only child, and I don’t want to miss a thing and don’t want to regret at a later stage of my life that I should’ve spent more time with her when it’s too late.
Having said that, I also think having a career is very important for one’s life. It is a great part of who you are, and gives you confidence as well as an independent mindset. Doing freelance was the choice I made, so that I can manage to have both.
The downside is I don’t get paid so well. The rate of freelance translation projects is not something you can brag about. But I take pride in doing this job. I hope one day my little girl will look back at this period of her life and remember her happy time she spent with her mummy, who always gazes at her computer, typing and mumbling something weird.
Tuesday 7/Nov – Bi-color bento with grilled salmon flake & scrambled egg
Wednesday 8/Nov – Onigiri for 2 (the school closed before lunch and it was raining outside, so we had a indoor picnic on the living room floor at our apartment)
Thursday 9/Nov – “Omuraisu” Omelet rice bento
Friday 10/Nov – Grilled Spanish mackerel bento
Menu: Grilled salmon & wakana sprinkle mixed in rice with nori seaweed on top, Steamed broccoli, Steamed carrot & daikon mixed with olive oil, Boiled egg
Apple bunnies & Kyoho grapes for dessert
Last night (Sunday night), my husband and I went out for a dinner organised by his business partner. We asked my parents to come over to our place to babysit our daughter, with an option for them to possibly stay over in case it gets late.
With such an arrangement, of course we take an advantage and stay for a nightcap, but this means going to bed super late on a school night and waking up early for bento as well as breakfast for five people instead of three.
So I did. Woke up early and made bento for our daughter and breakfast for all of us. As I was making bento at our open kitchen my parents looked over my shoulder and admired their granddaughter’s bento. Not because it’s fancy (not at all), but because they haven’t had a hand-made bento for a long time and reminisced its existence. Sensing their wish I packed two extra bento boxes for my parents (forgot to take a photo unfortunately) and left it before I went out for my weekly chore. When I came home my parents had already left, and I was expecting to see those two extra bento boxes taken along with them. But instead, I found one empty bento box in our kitchen sink with a pair of chopsticks clearly used for eating what was in the box.
It must’ve been really good.
Menu: Stirfried potato & spinach (with some bacon), Grilled salmon mixed in rice, Boiled edamame, Corn Omelet
Kyoho grapes & pear for dessert
As a sign of changing season, I see many Japanese “Nashi” pears, in addition to Kyoho grapes, displayed in grocery stores in my neighborhood. Compared to what you find in the West, Japanese pears are rounder (sphere) and juicier (maybe comparable to that of watermelon). Again we generally pear the skin off, as it kind of disturbs the taste of the flesh in my opinion. I know, I may be taking its precious vitamins off, but what can I say, that’s how I’ve always eaten my Nashi… (FYI, in Japan we incline to peal off skins off most of the fruits. Must be something to do with… fertilizer?)
Menu: Grilled salmon, Edamame mixed in rice (with sesame sprinkle), Mashed pumpkin & egg salad, Steamed broccoli, Cherry tomato
Japanese “Nashi” pear for dessert
Menu: Grilled salmon mixed in rice, Boiled egg, Boiled asparagus, Corns & cucumber salad
Grapes & banana for dessert
Today, 7th July is the day to celebrate Tanabata festival, where traditionally we put up our wish on a piece of rectangle paper and hang it on bamboo branches along with other colourful decorations made with Origami papers. It is the festival to celebrate a once-a-year rendezvous of this married couple, Princess Orihime & Prince Hikoboshi, who were derived from the stars (Vega and Altair) and separated by the Milky Way.
At our daughter’s school, they celebrated it by singing a Tanabata song and eating watermelon, one of the seasonal fruits in summer and very typical for summer festival, after their bento lunch. I totally forgot about it and packed grapes & banana for dessert… Oh well, lucky her to have extra dessert today!
Click here for more details about Tanabata, from Wikipedia.
Here is my daughter’s wish. It reads: I WISH TO BE A PRINCESS AND TRAVEL TO SPACE
After two weeks of early summer holiday in Holland visiting my husband’s family, we came back to Tokyo a couple of days ago and have been suffering with inevitable jet lag. This morning our daughter went back to school, but still not totally recovered from the fatigue caused by our long journey and time difference. Since she woke up at 5:30am this morning, she continued to be grumpy at every little thing she could possibly find. Also exhausted with sleep deprivation, I had a hard time dealing with her tantrums. Great start of a school morning.
When I was preparing her bento this morning, she peaked over the kitchen counter and said,
“I don’t want salmon rice, I want omame (edamame beans) rice! I don’t like the mashed pumpkin like that, I want it with egg! I don’t like my bento today!”
This complaint never happened before. She was always very happy with whatever I cooked for her. Her comment stung my little heart. I want to blame it for her jet lag, and sincerely hope this behavior will not last going forward. I hadn’t expected it from our 4-year-old, I’m just not prepared for it…. Well, at least until she becomes a teenager.
For this school term, bento making will continue until her school closes for the summer in mid July. Can’t wait🤣