Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Big 1-4

On Saturday, we celebrated Ethan's birthday.

His 14th birthday.  Just let that set in a moment.

I'm sure people are tired of me moaning about how fast he's grown, or that I can't believe I have a 14 year old son.  But I can't help it!!  Where did my baby go?!?!

We started off his birthday with a french toast breakfast (his favorite) and a skype call with my parents.  We had received a package from them a few days earlier, but Ethan waited to open his presents until they could watch.

Received some books, a model airplane set, a hoodie, and a nice winter cap.  There was a gift in there from aunt Rachel too - a card game.  We got him a computer game he had really been wanting.  Boys are so easy to shop for, really.  For Ethan, it's either guitar stuff or video game stuff.  You can't go wrong with either of those things!  Another "present" we got him was.....a shaving lesson with Nathan!  The boy's been sporting a pretty creepy mustache for a while, and it was finally time to tell it goodbye.  He now has his own razor and everything.  I took a picture, but Ethan requested I not put it up for all to see.  I wonder why?  Haha!  Another present he requested is a skateboard, which will come later in the year.  Sapporo's still covered in snow anyway.

Later in the evening, we went to Jacksonville Burgers with some friends, as Ethan requested.  Of course, I'll take any excuse to go to Jacksonville.  After the burgers, Seichii brought out the cake we'd bought him.

Not 14 candles, mind you, but I think the sparkler made up for that.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - I'm so proud of Ethan.  He's an amazing kid young man, and being his mom has been one of my proudest moments.  He's smart, funny, and has a great taste in music (I think Nathan and I will take credit for that one).  He has an amazing imagination, and wants to be a writer some day.  He's quiet, but he speaks his own mind when he needs to and isn't easily swayed by the crowd.

In short, we love you Ethan!  May your 14th year be an awesome one!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The lazy crafter

I come from a long line of crafter and makers.  Both my grandmothers knitted and crocheted, one even dabbling in a bit of ceramics.  One of my grandfathers was a carpenter, and the other owned a hardware store.  Some of my earliest memories involve when my grandma would watch me in the afternoons, and I would go with her to her crafting groups.  So I guess you could say that I've always like making stuff, and I like buying handmade items.

My problem is, I become really excited about a crafting endeavor, and then lose interest somewhere along the way.  A few years ago, I taught myself to knit, and was doing pretty well with knitting scarves and straight things.  Then I couldn't quite figure out how to add on stitches, and that was the end of that.  Same thing with embroidery and crochet.

But despite this, I still continue in my crafting adventures every once in a while.  My sister and I used to have "Crafternoons", where we'd spend an afternoon just making stuff.  One time it was necklaces, another time it was Christmas wreaths.  I haven't crafted too much since I moved to Japan, but last week, the crafting bug bit.

This is a himmeli.  A himmeli is a traditional Finnish craft that was made with straw.  The more intricate the design of the mobile, the more successful the harvest, they believed.

I'd seen a few of these out in internet-world, and really liked the more modern ones made with just simple drinking straws.  I used a tutorial about how to make the cubes (are they cubes - whatever), and then made my own designs from there.  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  It now hangs in our window.

What was perhaps the best thing about this craft is that it took me only a few hours to make it, once I got the hang of creating the geometric shapes.  And that's perfect for an ADD crafter like myself.  I'd definitely like to make more of these.

I wonder what I'll be making next?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Valentine's Day

I'm a little late posting about V-Day, but Thursday is my Japanese class, and then the weekend just flies by.  Valentine's Day is celebrated a bit different here in Japan.  The holiday isn't really about roses, jewelry, and a nice dinner like it is in the States.  It's mainly a chocolate fest, with girls and women giving the sweets to the boyfriends/husbans/friends/coworkers.  Men are supposed to reciprocate on White Day, in March.

We Robinsons take a little of both traditions for our Valentine's Day.  I made a nice dinner for the boys and gave them some Godiva chocolates.  I had the "I Like You" poster made and gave it to Nathan.  In case anyone is interested, I made the large God's Eye in the picture, and Ethan made the small one at school in 6th grade.  Nathan bought me a Korilakuma kokeshi that now stands proudly with the rest of my collection.  (Note to self; stop collecting kokeshi.  You can't bring them all home.)

I also made a cake for the boys this week, which I was pretty proud about, since baking is not something I do very often.  Besides banana bread.  Man, I love that stuff.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snow Business

Snow and ice festivals in Sapporo, Susukino, and Otaru.

Friday, February 8, 2013

This fellow...

I've missed seeing this guy's face around.  And I've missed singing with him too.
Takuya's working hard, studying and taking entrance exams to go to medical school.  But he'll be free soon and hopefully we can perform a few Lives again!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pity Party

Well, I failed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test.  Again.

I really thought I had it this time.  I studied a lot - especially kanji, which I really didn't know that well when I took the Level 4 test the first time in July.  Reading was what failed me last time, and it's what did me in again.

It's frustrating and embarrassing to have failed again. I've been here for two years now, I should be able to pass the second-to-lowest level test.  I enjoy studying, but maybe I'm just not studying enough?  Should I up my classes during the week?  Academics always came so easy to me in my high school and college years.  I mean, I was pregnant during my first year of college and still only made one C grade (Texas government - bleh).  Studying and retaining information has never been a problem, yet it's taking a really long time for me with Japanese.

Will I try again?  Who knows right now.  I'm disappointed, and not sure if I wanna invest the money in a test I've already failed twice.  I think what it all comes down to is this: I need to speak more Japanese. I need to stop being afraid of messing up and just take a chance.  My friends aren't gonna judge me if I use the wrong particle or if I mess up a verb conjugation, so I need to stop judging myself.

On Friday night, I took a taxi home after spending some time with friends.  Usually the taxi drivers are quiet, but this one was particularly chatty.  I kept up a conversation with him for 20 minutes while he drove me home.  Of course, my Japanese wasn't perfect, and several times I didn't understand what he was saying, but we made it work. I realized then that I do know more Japanese than I give myself credit for, and that I can keep a conversation going, even if it is just a simple one.