Friday, September 28, 2012

Bits and Pieces (of two weeks)

  • Sashimi platter at a Welcome Party for my new coworker, Grady.
  • My friend, Giovanni, playing drums for the band Triple S.
  • Ethan, with fire.
  • Nathan preparing himself for his big race.
  • Mt. Yotei, looking all beautiful.
  • Right before Nathan's race.  I hate how I look in this picture, but my boys look good.
  • The night before Nathan's race, we camped at the base of Mt. Yotei.  Someone had this awesome teepee.  I want to be their friend.
  • Miniture town at Hokuyo Junior High's school festival.
  • Flowers for the Moon Viewing this Sunday.
Last Saturday, Nathan had his first 50K trail run in Rusutsu.  Our friend Kazunari was kind enough to drive us, and we and some other friends camped out the night before.  He ran the race in about 8 hours and 45 minutes, and ranked 27 out of 67.  Pretty awesome for his first time, I'd say!  While Nate was running, we went to an adventure park in Niseko.  We did tree trekking, which is walking ropes and bridges from one tree to another, and jumped on those giant puffy things, and played park golf.  The first two activities were a challenge for me, since I'm a huge scaredy cat.  But I tried it the best I could, and I was super proud of Ethan, jumping off stuff and zip-lining with no fear.  

Today, we're stuck in the house because there are some workers fixing some leaky pipes or something. They've been here since 10 this morning.  One even tries to speak English with us, which the other workers think is "really cool" (they said in Japanese).  But it's nice to have a lazy day.  Now, I should try to get Ethan off the computer!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Torn between two countries

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Toyohira River, Sapporo

It's that time of year again.  The time where me and Nathan have to decide if we're going to stay another year in Japan, or leave next August.  I can't believe how quickly two years have gone by.  It's mind-boggling.  I guess after three years, you'd think the decision would be easy, but it's not.  I never dreamed I'd become as attached to this country as I have - the people of Japan, and to Sapporo, especially.  It's just been so easy to live here.  I have a job that I love, and Ethan is in a great (albeit expensive) school.  I've made memories and friends here that I know will last a lifetime.

But someday, we'll have to go back home.
The question is, when.

My parents and sister are in Texas, and well as other people I miss the heck out of.  I'm so relieved that my mother's chemo treatment is having a positive effect, but I should be closer to her.  Ethan's dog is in Texas. And I wanna have another baby someday.  There, I said it.

But what in the world am I gonna do when I get back to the States?  Job wise, that is.  I don't know if I have the patience anymore to teach theater.  Where will Ethan go to high school?  Will Nathan go back to acting?  All difficult questions that we can prolong answering just a little bit longer if we stay one more year.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bits and Pieces

  • Playing my pianica at the Live on Wednesday.
  • Feeling the music.
  • A sketch of me and Takuya done by my friend (and tattoo artist) Nini.
  • The world's tiniest beer can.
  • BBQ-ing with friends.

This week was really dominated by the Live Takuya and I had on Wednesday.  It's supposed our last live of this year, but I think we'll sing together a few more times before the year is out.  Takuya needs to study hard for his medical school entrance exams coming up.  It's gonna be weird not seeing him as much, since he's really become a part of our family.  I'm sure we'll still hang out anyway.  

Tomorrow's a holiday, and I fully intend on sleeping in and being a bit lazy.  Although I do need to do laundry, clean house, go to the supermarket.....haha, a mom's work is never done!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On failure

So, I didn't pass the JLPT level 4.

Not that that's really a surprise to me.  I was pretty sure I failed after I took the vocabulary section of the test (which, remarkably, I passed that section).  What got me was reading.  And if you fail one section, you can't pass the test.  Which stinks, as far as I'm concerned.

Am I disappointed?  A little.  I really did study, and studied hard - especially grammar, as evidenced by my A score!  I'm not a perfectionist, but I am hard on myself, and I'm always thinking that my Japanese should be better than it is, especially for living here 2 years now.  What it all comes down to is confidence - I'm always afraid I'll sound stupid when I speak, and I get really shy about it.  But I should take a lesson from my students at Keihoku.  The best English speakers are the ones that aren't afraid to try and take risks.  And that's what I need to do.  I'm not gonna sound like a native Japanese speaker, and that's ok.  I don't think anyone expects that.

Will I try the test again?  Not sure.  Probably.  Having a test to work towards keeps me motivated.  And Takuya's volunteered to help by writing me text messages only in Japanese.  Let the studying commence!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bits and Pieces

  • BBQ near the Toyohira River
  • My boys, all working hard
  • Takuya and Gloomy Bear, jamming on the drums
  • The perfect snack
  • Volleyball at the Keihoku Sports Day
  • Swiss chard picked from my garden
  • Reading summer journals
I'm constantly amazed at how quickly the weeks go by.  This past week was the first week where we taught all of our classes at Keihoku, so I was tired by Friday.  My throat was a little hoarse because it wasn't quite used to being used to much.  But despite the exhaustion I felt, I was really happy with how the week went.  I feel like the kids at work are really understanding, and are really into what we're teaching, especially my Cross Cultural Communication Class.  Every few weeks, we read a story book, to help them with pronunciation and intonation, and we chose "Where the Wild Things Are".  They loved it, and it was fun to read it with them.  

I was also able to meet a lot of the new ALT's during a welcome party we had on Wednesday.  It's strange, seeing so many new faces, and I'm still trying to get used to the fact that the old faces are no longer around.  But that's how it goes, and I'm really enjoying getting to know all the newbies.  

Me and Takuya have one of our last performances this Wednesday, so he can focus on studying for his college entrance exams.  I should say we're just going on a little hiatus.  Maybe I'll actually get some song writing done then.  *sigh* So many changes...

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bits and Pieces

  • I had a lot of ripe bananas this Saturday morning, so I decided to make banana chocolate chip muffins and bread.  It was really delicious, and didn't last too long.
  • Ethan on his computer.  I'm thinking we're gonna have to set some limits on this thing...
  • Takuya, giving his blood, sweat, and tears for our live.
  • We performed at a Live with some other people at Mellow Saturday night.  This family band was so cute!!!
  • A bagpiper from Tokyo playing for the special Pub Live at Brian Brew
  • The Johnny Boys from Asahikawa.  Great punk music!
  • Nini and Wakaba with a special washboard player from Osaka.
  • Wakaba!
The weeks are busy with work now, and it was nice to get out and have a fun weekend with friends.  On Friday night, I met up with Maggie and Risa for some girl karaoke.  Then on Saturday, it was Takuya and I singing at Mellow for a last-minute invite.  Afterwards, we made our way to Brian Brew. Wakaba was playing, along with some other punk bands from around Japan.  I hadn't seen so many punk kids around since the Green House days (Rachel, you know what I'm talking about).  I love live music so much.  For me, there's just something about being with a crowd of sweaty, excited people, all swaying or dancing to the music.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm getting to old to do this kind of thing - I mean, I do have a 13 year old.  But then I think, "Who cares, I love it!"  And that's what really matters, right?