Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012













Once again, the year flew by too quickly.  It was a year filled with family and friends, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  2012 was also a year full of new experiences and challenges.  We're all growing a little older and a little wiser, here in the Robinson house.  And we're looking forward to what challenges await us for 2013.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

So this was Christmas

It's interesting, celebrating Christmas with a teenager.  Make no mistake, he still gets super excited about Christmas day, and was asking everyday when packages would get here, and what did we buy for him, etc. etc.  But he's no longer at the age for toys.  They've been replaced which what I like to call Ethan's holy trinity of gifts: books, t-shirts, and video/computer games.  Well, he also wanted some music and guitar stuff too.  It's just strange not buying him little viking Playmobil figures like we did in the old days.  The closest we got was this game he got called "King's Table" which was supposedly played by vikings.

But even though gifts are changing, some traditions are not.  We still make German apple pancakes on Christmas morning, and it's becoming a tradition to have other people over who can't make it back home for Christmas.  Everybody brought over some food and we ate, drank, and were merry into the early morning.  And we hopefully didn't bother out neighbors.

It's gotten really cold in the last few days, and I've barely ventured out of the apartment, apart from going to see Les Miserables last night (which was awesome, by the way).  For me, these nights are for drinking hot drinks, cuddling with my boys, and watching Homeland (I've become hooked).

Oh yeah, and getting over this sore throat I've had for 3 days.  I dare you to get me out from under these blankets!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

These days

It's quiet around here these days.  We took Rachel to the airport on Wednesday and now the house feels empty without her around.  Two months went by so quickly, and we had such a good time with her. All my friends that met her wanted her to stay, and my students loved her.  I think it was hard for her to say goodbye.  I know it was for me.

But honestly, I'm welcoming the slower pace that we've had around here the last few days, even though I know it won't last long.  Year-end parties, Christmas parties, and New Year parties are in the future, which means our schedules will be busy again.  But I don't mind it.  I think it's important to be around people during the holidays.  Even if it's not our families, it's our extended Japanese family, who have become an important part of our lives.

But with all the parties and friends, I can't help but feel a little melancholy.  Having Rachel here made me realize how much I need her around.  We kind of complete each other, if that makes any sense.  But I'm happy she was able to stay for so long, and I'm looking forward to another beautiful Christmas season in Sapporo.  The city's really showing off this year, with lots and lots of snow almost every day.  Ethan's got the Christmas movies ready to go, and we'll kick off the Christmas week with Home Alone, hot chocolate, and some last-minute Christmas shopping.  I guess I won't be resting too much after all.  Oh well!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Snowiest City in the World

The snow has come to Sapporo, leaving it a wintry wonderland.

However, sometimes it's an icy deathtrap.  That's ice, y'all, and it's slippery.  I haven't slipped yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Winter is also the time for White Illumination in Odori Park.  We braved the cold on Friday night to eat German food in the German Market and take pictures of the lights.  But when we couldn't feel our toes, we decided to head indoors.  

Some snowflakes have even found their way into our apartment!
Stay warm, everyone!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm still here!

Yes, we are still here.  We've been having a great time, taking Rachel around to see the sights.  We went (and worked) the Hokkaido International School Fall Festival, went to a dessert buffet, saw an art exhibition, ate Chinese food with my work colleagues, played an intense game of jenga, and learned some Japanese culture along the way.  It's been awesome to share all these things with my sister.  I don't think I've laughed this much in a long time!

And did I mention we had our first snow?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A post about boobs

I know that the title of this post alone will probably get me lots of views, but I had my first mammogram today and I thought it might be worthy of a blog post.

When I found out my mom had stage 5 breast cancer this past June, it threw us all for a loop.  My mom has hardly ever been sick, and cancer doesn't even run in her family.  It was such a shock that it was happening.  Her doctors recommended that Rachel and I should start getting mammograms yearly, since my mother and aunt have both had breast cancer.  In America and the Japan, it's suggested that women over 40 should have mammograms, but I figured it's better to be safe than sorry, especially since it's not unheard of for women younger than 40 to get breast cancer.

Every year as an employee of the city of Sapporo, we are required to have a health checkup.  Just your regular stuff - weight, blood pressure, eye test, etc.  But I decided to add a mammogram to the list this year. Today, I was a little nervous going into the examination room.  I had heard that mammograms are painful, and I have to admit, they are.  I'll just leave it at that.  But what a relief it was afterward, when the doctor looked at my breast x-rays and told me that there are no tumors.  That I'm perfectly healthy.

I'm aware that this could all change in just a matter of months, but now I fully understand the importance of being proactive about cancer prevention.  When my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer (yes, my dad has also had cancer), he wasn't even at the doctor's office for a prostate check.  He was there because he'd hurt his back, and the doctor suggested he get a check.  You know, just in case. And thank goodness he did, because they caught the cancer so early that all he needed was an operation. That's why I think it's so important for women to keep up with their checkups - including monthly self-checks and doctor's visits.  Pay attention to any changes in your body, and let your doctor know.  My mom's cancer didn't show up as the usual lump, but as a rash.  She had no idea it was any kind of cancer, must less one that spreads more quickly than other types.

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and although I didn't post anything about it during that time, it feels to me now that every month is breast cancer awareness month.  Yet, even though breast cancer is now a part of our lives, it doesn't mean that it controls our outlook on life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fun times and sick times

Last week, I was hit with a pretty nasty cold, which seems to be spreading around Sapporo.  But I had a lot of things planned with Rachel, so I loaded up on water and mikan (little oranges), and hoped I would feel better by the weekend.  On Halloween night, we carved a pumpkin and listened to Halloween-themed music.  Rachel even put on her frog hood she bought at the 100 yen store.  This must have put her in the holiday mood, as she proceeded to dance around our kitchen to Ghostbusters.

Other highlights of the week (when I wasn't coughing my lungs out): Taking Rachel to see my friend Nikki's live paint along with a DJ show, seeing the Hiragishi Tenjin yosakoi team perform, and finally have Rachel meet Nini and see Wakaba play.  Listening to Nini and Rachel bond over punk bands was a truly heart-warming experience!  It's no surprise that she's fitting right in to our little community here!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The good times keep coming

Having Rachel here for the last week has been lots of fun.  Luckily, Ethan was off this past week, so he was able to show Rachel around a bit, and have some aunt/ nephew time.  However, Ethan was not too enthused whenever I wanted to take Rachel shopping!

On Friday, Rachel had her first okonomiyaki.  I knew she would like it - I mean, what's not to love?  It's a savory pancake full of yummy goodness!  On Saturday, we walked around Hokkaido University, hoping to see some of the leaves changing, which I had heard were beautiful there.  We were a bit disappointed when there was like ONE tree that was a beautiful yellow.  Ah well, it was still nice.

Today, we went to Otaru with some friends.  I was a little wary at first, because the weather was absolutely horrible - windy and rainy and the kind of day where you just don't want to leave the house. But I was so glad we ended up going, because Rachel was able to eat kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi, and then we took a glass-bead making class.  Otaru is known for it's glass objects, and it was fun for everyone, I think.  Unfortunately, we were able to walk around since it was nasty outside, so I didn't get to show her the ocean, or the canals.  Oh well, maybe next time.

Having Rachel here with us has felt so natural - like she's been here all along.  I've taken her to some of my favorite shops, and restaurants.  We laugh and tell stories back at the apartment.  When she's here, I feel more like my complete self, if that makes any sense.  I have lots more fun stuff planned for us this week, like WAKABA on Sunday!  I have a feeling she's going to love it!