Sunday, May 20, 2012

So I married a long distance runner

This past Sunday, Nathan participated in the Lake Toya Marathon.  We made a weekend of it - camping with our friends Kazunari and Wataru in a cozy bungalow near the lake.  We stopped at Costco on the way to stock up on meat and drinks for a cookout on Saturday evening.  On Sunday, we were all up at 6 am (!) to eat breakfast and get to the starting line.  It couldn't have been a more perfect day for a marathon, and Lake Toya couldn't be a more perfect place for one.  Lake Toya is the caldera of an old volcano that filled up with water and has an island right in the middle.  I believe the marathon route was all the way around the lake, and Nathan said some of the views were amazing.  Some 4,000 runners participate in the 5K, 10K, and full marathon (maybe there was more, but I've forgotten).  Nathan finished just under 4 hours, which was his goal.

Our sweet ride

On our way, we stopped at the site of where a volcano erupted in 2000.  There were still places where you could see steam rising!

Nathan and the guys picking up their numbers

Our bungalow.  Cozy, and it had new tatami (better than in my apartment!)
Ethan helping cook the multitude of meats we brought for our bbq.

Yes, we grilled some doritos.  And it was the best idea ever!

Filled with meat, we went out to the lake to try and catch some shrimp.  We were unsuccessful.

Getting ready to run

While the guys were running, Ethan and I took this boat out to Ojima Island, in the middle of Lake Toya

A shrine on Ojima Island

Ethan and I chilling out, wondering how Nate was doing
There he is, finished!  But Ethan didn't get to see it because he got sick after our boat ride :(

After some onsen, this was our view from lunch

To say I'm proud of Nathan would be an understatement.  Just 7 months ago, Nathan quit smoking and decided to start running.  And now, he's finished his first marathon with a great time!  His drive has inspired me and now, I've even started running (yelp)!  I'm only doing about 30 minutes three times a week, but it's a start.  And who knows, maybe I'll join Nathan next year - but running the 10K!!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Forever 21

My birthday was on Friday, and I'm not ashamed to say it..................

......I turned 32.

However, the running joke has been that I'm turning 21 with my friends.  It doesn't make any sense, as I have a 13 year old son, but anyways.

Some of my friends were kind enough to take my out to eat at a great place in Sumikawa.  We drank, ate, and talked the night away.  Takuya and I were planning to practice after that (we were playing a friend's wedding party the next day), but our friends convinced us to come to karaoke after dinner.  So we did!  I can't pass up karaoke, you know.

The performance was still great.  I guess karaoke is good practice!

This is one of my old students from Hokuyo.  He now goes to my friend's school, so she sent me this picture, haha, too cute!

On Saturday, we had a wedding to go to, and didn't get home 'til about 8:00 in the evening.  When we did, Ethan had set this up for me:

A few packages from my parents had come in, and he had set this all up just for me!  Notice the sign he wrote, "Happy 21st Birthday!"  Haha, I've trained my son well.

All in all, it's been a great - and tiring - weekend.  I feel so completely blessed to have such great friends who have really become like our second family.  They make living in Japan such a blast.  As my good buddy Mark says, "I'm not getting older, I'm leveling up!"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

We Got Spirit

On Wednesday, Keihoku had their annual pep rally (forgot what it was called in Japanese) for the sports teams and other clubs.  Each group came and stood in front of the students body, talked a little about their team, when they're competing, and the names of the players.  It's funny, contrasting Keihoku's pep rally with one back home.  Although there was some yelling, and the brass band did play, it was extremely organized and calm.  Quite different from the energy, cheering, and dancing experienced in an American high school.

I wonder, what my current students would think if they saw the cheerleaders back home...

My English club girls, talking about their speech competitions

The baseball team, high-steppin it out in style

The soft tennis team.  Definitely the largest club from what I could see.

The soccer team
At the end of the pep rally, a group of the boys did what I can only call a cheer?  A martial arts move?  A little of both?  Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The skin I'm in

I hope it's ok if I get a little personal tonight.  

I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist, but I've always struggled with feeling not quite good enough.  I have no idea where these thoughts come from, since my parents were always so loving and supportive of me.  I guess it's something all human beings struggle with.  Throughout the years, I've been able to fight off these feelings fairly well, with the wonderful support of my family.  But lately (just the past few weeks actually), I've been overwhelmed with these feelings of depression - that I'm not a good enough mom/wife, that I'm not pretty enough, Thoughts like, "Hey, you're almost 32, and what have you done with your life?"  I'd look at myself in the mirror and hate what I saw.  Work helps a lot, because I have to be super genki and energetic, but then I come home and just feel so sad.  

The other day, one of co-workers told me that I'm always such a positive person, and that meant so much to me.  I hope that I'm a positive influence in other people's lives.  I like making the people around me happy, and I always try to look at the bright side of things.  But I am only human after all, and what goes up, inevitably goes down, I guess.  I just don't want my downs to be so far down!

I suppose, what it all comes down to is that I am enough just as I am.  I am a good ALT.  I am a good mom.  I am a good wife.  I am pretty.  I'll never reach that ideal I've set in my mind, but that doesn't mean that I can't accept myself for who I am now.  I'm growing.  I'm changing.  You haven't seen the complete me yet!

In other words:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hanami in Maruyama Koen

Oh Spring, you're being so good to me this year.  We've had so many sunny and warm days that I've almost completely forgotten that there was snow everywhere just a month or so ago.

Today, we had to go to the American Consulate to renew Ethan's passport, and decided to stop by Maruyama koen (park) on the way.  I'm so glad we did, because all the trees are beginning to explode in pink cherry blossoms, or sakura as they're called here.  We had a little lunch picnic under the trees, and we weren't the only ones.  There were people everywhere, cooking out and enjoying hanami, which means cherry blossom viewing.  It couldn't have been a more perfect day!