Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday Hermits

Folks, we've been lazy this past week.  I mean L-A-Z-Y.  I've only been outside once in the past two days, and that was to go to the super market to get food in order to be more lazy.

But all this laziness was much needed.  We've watched movies, taken naps, read books, and played card and board games.  We've also eaten candy.  Oh my god, so much candy...

...But that's ok, because it's the holidays and we deserve this rest time.  Now excuse me while I slip back into my pajamas and watch "Homeland".

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We're Ready

Yes, after surviving the craziness that was last week, the Robinsons are ready for Christmas.  Today, Ethan and I made some cookies and we've been taking it easy.  Packages from family haven't come yet, so it looks like they won't be here in time for Christmas.  But hey, it'll be kinda fun to have stuff come in throughout the week.  And regardless, I'm just looking forward to spending some quality time with friends and family this coming week.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Plan B Tree (or Siouxsie vs. Christmas)

It was bound to happen, folks.

Last Wednesday, after many attempts to communicate to Siouxsie that the tree was off-limits, she finally brought down our small Christmas tree.  I walked into our home to find the tree was its side, and the ornaments strewn all over the place.  I decided then and there that kittens and Christmas trees don't mix, so Ethan and I put the tree away.

But I was determined to have some kind of tree in our home, even if it was not very traditional.  Something that Siouxsie couldn't destroy.

We have a rather large wall in our dining room, so I decided to get a little creative and make a tree out of a string of Christmas lights we had.  I think it turned out quite nice.

Siouxsie has pawed at the lights a bit, but she's not really interested.  And the glow of the lights are really nice at night.  Christmas isn't ruined after all!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Little DIY

About a year and a half ago, I bought a small table at a flea market.  It wasn't in the best shape, and it was red (which didn't go with anything in our place), but I got it anyway because it was cheap and I really liked the legs.  I had always told myself that I could paint it later.

In the winter, I always get the crafty bug, and I was wanting a project.  So last week, I finally decided to spruce that table up.  A couple coats of white spray paint and some gold touches and voila --

It was a quick and satisfying project, and it looks so much better now, despite the water damage on it.  Now if only I could nurse my elephant plant back to health...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

'Tis the Season

Now that Thanksgiving's come and gone, it's time to get ready for Christmas!  Ethan and I brought out our small stash of Christmas stuff, drank hot chocolate, and decorated the tree.  We put Suzy in the other room, because we knew she'd go crazy with all the tinsel, strings of lights, and ornaments.  And sure enough, the minute we opened the door, she went straight to the tree, gave it a few sniffs, and then started eating it!  We're trying to stay diligent, and are spraying her with a water bottle when she starts messing with it, but I'm afraid the war of Suzy vs. the Christmas Tree has just begun.  We'll see who comes out victorious in this one.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Listmaker

Lately, I've felt as if my mind's been a bit all over the place.  So many things have been happening the past few months, and it's been hard to keep up.  I love all these things, of course, but I've been feeling quite overwhelmed.

I've always been a list maker, as long as I can remember, but the past few months I haven't been making them.  And just when I was feeling particularly stressed about all the things I needed to do this weekend, I decided to list them out.

  • Pay bills - US and Japan
  • Make Ethan's caterpillar costume
  • Go to the grocery store
  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Buy Christmas presents
  • Practice "True Love" on the ukulele
I wrote them all, one by one, and it made such a difference for me to just see all the things on paper.  It felt even better to mark each one off - to actually see that I was getting things accomplished.  

Now I have about 3 lists floating around me - one for work, one for Christmas, and one for home stuff. What a difference a list makes!! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Circling the World in a Day

Every year there is an all-day event for Sapporo high school students called Circle the World.  It's a time where students can learn about various cultures through activities and presentations, while communicating in English.  This year, my school was in charge of the event, so my colleague Grady and I organized the ALT presentations and helped with getting the day prepared.  We'd been working and preparing for this since late summer, so it was a relief to see the day go so well, and for all the students and ALTs enjoying themselves.

We had workshops on Maori Haka, pinata making, Philippine food, and lots more.  After lunch, Japanese culture classes were taught by various English clubs.

Oh, and did I mention that at the end of the day I taught everyone some Texas line dancing?  Seeing 100 people dancing the dance you just taught them is quite a sight, let me tell you.

Afterwards, we had a much needed Mega-Beer at TK6.

I'm super grateful to all the ALTs and teachers who came out and helped make Circle the World another success.  I really do work with some of the best people in Japan!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Study Hall

A quiet night at home, after dinner.  Ethan's got Suzy curled up in his lap while he plays some classical music and studies his kanji.  It doesn't get much better than this :-)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just Keep Singing

Last week, Kousei and I played a Live at Mellow with three other performing groups.  It was strange, playing at Mellow without Takuya, and Kousei and I were both a bit nervous.

My friends Maya and John played first, and after two more groups, we played at around 10:30.  I was afraid everyone would be sleepy and ready to go by the time it was our turn, since it was a Wednesday (am I fated to never have a Live performance on a weekend??).  But everybody stuck around and was so supportive.

Our set list:

"Stay" - Rihanna
"すき" - Dreams Come True
"そばにいて" - Misia
"True Love" - *forgot the singer's name

  Despite a few snags, I think we did pretty good job.  I'm becoming more confident in singing Japanese songs (I wish I could say the same thing about my Japanese speaking!)

And after performing three times in November, that was our last Live of the month.  We'll play again at Mellow in December for a special Christmas Live.  If you're in Sapporo, please come by!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ode to Autumn

 I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, 
the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things 
come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, 
not one lasts.

--Carl Sandburg, "Autumn Movement"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Our Newest Addition

Meet Siouxsie (pronounced Suzy), the newest addition to our little family.  She's a little orange tiger-striped stray that an ALT in South Hokkaido found with her two brothers.  They were abandoned in a parking lot, so she took them in and asked other ALTs if anyone would be interested in them.    We'd been wanting a pet for a while, and when we saw the pics of the little kittens, we just couldn't resist.  Because our friend lives down South, we had to wait two weeks to get Suzy, and we finally received her last Saturday.  She's the tiniest thing, and she's adapted to our place quite well.  She loves to curl up in our laps (in fact, she's in mine as I'm writing this), and she can be a bit of a troublemaker in the late evenings.  But we love her, especially Ethan.

I mean, how could you not when she does cute things like this.  We let Ethan name her, thus the 80's punk group name that is Ethan's current music favorite.

I've always had pets since I was a girl - dogs, cats, parrots.  So having a cat around feels natural.  It's funny, the need to have a pet.  We really keep them for selfish purposes, don't we?  For company, to feel loved, or needed.  To have something depend on us.  For their short lives, we are their world.  For what it's worth, I'm so glad that Suzy has come into ours.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy

Back in September, I had no idea things were gonna be so hectic for me in October.  Parties and friends and singing - I love it all, but can't help but feel a little frazzled.  And the month's not over yet!  Here's some highlights so far:

  • Going to see MC Mango perform for the first time.  Nathan and I have been wanting to go his performances ever since our friend Nikki told us about him.  I've never heard anything like him, and that's a good thing!  I definitely want to see him again, but I am really not cool enough for the crowds that come to his shows.  

  • I got together with some girl friends on Saturday for a pizza party/movie night.  The movie never happened, because we just ended up talking the entire evening!  But I guess that's to be expected, when we all get together.  Making new friends and talking with the girls was just what I needed, since I've been feeling little stressed out lately.  But instead of taking pictures of my lovely friends, we all took pictures of the pizza, which we don't often eat here because it's so expensive.  
  • On Sunday, I was really wanting to go to the flea market in Nakajima Park.  Nathan had some work he had to do, so I was surprised when Ethan said he'd go with me.  We had a great time, and he helped me find a few good things.  Afterwards, we walked around the park and then ate lunch together.  Later, he said, "Mom, I'm really glad I came with you today.  This was fun."  My heart just about melted.  Love that kid.

  • Wednesday, I was able to sing a song with my friend, Tadashi at his Live.  He's a really good jazz singer, so I was nervous, since jazz is not what I'm used to singing.  It was lots of fun, and the band was so nice.  
This Saturday, I'm singing with Kousei at Studio May's monthly party, and then we have a Live at Mellow together on October 30. Lots of good things to come!! 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Our Place, 3 Years Later

Here's our little place, after three years of settling in and slowly collecting stuff.  It's hard to not accumulate some things, when you live in the Land of Cute.

Lots of washi tape, original art (from friends, students, Ethan, etc.), and plants.  I take a lot of inspiration from Scandinavian homes and Japanese apartment blogs.  But Ethan's room is his own.  Gotta give a teenager free reign to decorate his own space.  I do sneak in there every once in a while!

 I like to surround myself and my family with items and pictures that make us happy and carry memories.  It's the best way to decorate, I think.