Monday, February 28, 2011

306 days to go...

Day 52: A sweet card given to me by a student. I was helping her practice for the English interview for a High School she wanted to go to. She passed!

Day 53: A cute figurine I bought from an artist at a handmade goods market.

Day 54: Ethan turned 12.

Day 55: Sakura blossoms at Sagara sensei's.

Day 56: Ethan playing at his school's variety show with his guitar teacher. So proud...

Day 57: Nathan on our tiny, crappy couch. However, I'm excited to say that we're buying a new couch this weekend!!!

Day 59: Only in Japan would construction barriers look like cute monkeys!


This week is the last week I'll teach my third graders before they graduate and move on to high school. Which stinks, because third grade was definitely my favorite grade - they were more comfortable talking with me, and they always asked me to eat lunch with them. But second grade's finally warming up to me (they're the more "challenging" group of the school), and I've gained a few fans who don't mind talking their limited English with me. It's sad to think that March will be my last month at Hokuyo - it seems that just when I get comfortable with a school, and the teachers and students get comfortable with me, then I have to move on. C'est la vie, I suppose.

Ethan's variety show was great, and I was so proud of him performing in front of everyone. Among the myriad of piano solos and duets, he was the only one that played guitar, and he's pretty good for a kid who just started playing about four months ago. Who knows, maybe I'll pick up Ethan's acoustic and teach myself to play again!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This boy...

...Yep, this one, with the lazer gun.

...the one who once thought the Empire State Building was called the Vampire State Building, and then drew a picture of it on the train...

...the one who loves to read...

...who always made sure his action figures were in just the right place...

...who's always been a talented artist, even a tad political (above is a picture of Pres. Bush he drew when he was in first grade)....

...who loves his dog with all his heart...

...who plays the viola (and now the guitar!)...

...the Karate Kid incarnate...

...who's always loved wearing costumes - with the occasional beard and mustache......

....this boy turned 12 on Wednesday.....

.....where in the world does the time go?

It's no secret that Nathan and I were young when Ethan was born. I was in college, and was determined to stay in school and be a mom. It's been hard work, but I never, ever regretted having Ethan in my life. When he was small, he was always entertaining us and singing songs and dancing. And now he's so smart and thoughtful. Looking at Ethan makes me feel like I've done something good in my 30 years. I just didn't expect the time to go by so fast.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

313 days to go...

Day 45: Ethan practicing guitar. Did I mention he's playing the guitar in his school's talent show this Friday? I'm taking the day off work just to be there, and you'll know I'll be front and center with my video camera!!

Day 46: Ok, I missed this day. But my excuse is that I was really tired and a little off. To make up for it, here's an adorable picture of Nate and Ethan.

Day 47: Two of my favorite flowers - ranunculus and chamomile.

Day 48: This was part of my school lunch Thursday. Yes, those are whole fish. Yes, you eat them whole, head, tail, bones and all. I've eaten these several times now, they're actually not that bad.

Day 49: Just a part of the rilakuma merchandise at Bic Camera. The Japanese love their adorable characters.

Day 50: On Saturday, it was snowing these big, beautiful flakes. I was trying to catch them with my camera looking out our balcony.

Day 51: My first successful subway photo! I just had to take a picture of these guys. They all came on the subway together, and they were all wearing almost the exact same business attire, and all (except one) with their briefcases on their laps.

I stayed at work until five o'clock talking (!) with some second and third graders. They're convinced I speak more Japanese than I admit to, simply because I usually understand Japanese conversations. I can't explain to them that I really just understand two or three words, and then I just guess about what is being talked about. They were especially impressed when I got onto this one boy for saying something inappropriate about me in Japanese. Honestly, I have no idea what he said, but I do know this boy (he's the one who asked me how "big" my husband was), and from teaching junior high for three years, I have a pretty good grasp on the male adolescent mind. I hit him on the head with my papers and said, "Stop!" in a joking manner. Shocked, he said, "she understood!" in Japanese and now every time he sees me, he rattles off in Japanese as if I'm a native speaker. *sigh* Boys are boys, no matter what part of the world you're in.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ski jumps, kimonos, and tea

Call this the recovery week.

Nathan's family (his mom, step-dad, and sister) came to visit us on Feb. 5 and stayed for about a week and a half, so last week was filled with lots of sight-seeing, walking (what else is new?), and eating. It was really great, because we got to see lots of stuff we'd always meant to see, but just never made the time, and had lots of opportunities to do things we normally wouldn't. Here's the things we did:

  • First on the agenda was Jacksonville Burgers. Because they came all the way to Japan to eat....hamburgers........Anyway, it was delicious and they loved it.
  • Shopped - ALOT! I took them to the usual places: Loft, Pole Town, Sapporo Factory. We dropped some serious yen at the 100 yen store. I felt so sorry for the boys!!
  • We ate out almost every night they were there, which stretched my Japanese skills to the max! The photo below is of us at a yaki tori restaurant, with me trying to translate the menu. Some things I figured out, some was just pointing and hoping for something yummy.
  • We went to the snow festival two times. I don't think the photos really do these huge sculptures justice. You really have to see them with your own eyes to really appreciate the work that must go into these.

  • One night, we just happened upon a snow boarding show going on at the festival. It was awesome, and my mom-in-laws camera got some great shots.

  • We went to the Okariyama Ski Jump, where they had the olympics. We went up the ski lift and got a beautiful view of Sapporo.

  • My Japanese teacher also teaches tea ceremony, and was gracious enough to show the family. It's incredibly calming and zen-like, and I love Japanese sweets. Ethan wasn't too keen on the tea, but it's an acquired taste!

  • During the tea ceremony, Mandy had mentioned about wanting to see kimono, and Sensei said for us to come to her apartment the next day and she would show us how to put on kimono. We were so excited, and she put kimono onboth me and Mandy. Kimono is lots of layers, really hot, and keeps your back really straight, just so's you know.

  • We went to the Sapporo Factory, which is half the old Sapporo Beer Factory, and half shopping mall. We ate at the beer hall, and did lots more shopping.

That's the abridged version of the week. We saw them off at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday, and Nathan's boss was nice enough to help us call a taxi to take them to the airport. Things have certainly slowed down here, and we've been recuperating the rest of this week, as I'm sure they are as well, after a cumulative 22 hour flight back to Texas. I'll admit, I didn't know how we were going to fit all six of us in this tiny apartment, and how we were going to work out sleeping arrangements, but things worked out great, and we were just so happy to see family! Although I am happy to be sleeping in my bed again ;)

We miss you guys already!

So who's the next family group to come visit us? We're ready for ya!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

320 days to go...

Day 38: At one of my favorite places to take pictures, the 100 yen store.

Day 39: Little snowmen all lined up in a row at the Snow Festival

Day 40: My origami collection is growing on my desk at work. Specimens made for me by teachers and students. My favorites are the rhino and elephant.

Day 41: Display of dolls for Hina Matsuri (Girls' Day) at Sagara Sensei's place.

Day 42: Going down the ski lift at Okarayama ski jump.

Day 43: My little snowmen.

Day 44: Acapella singing group at the Sapporo Factory. They sounded good, but what I really loved was their jumpsuits!