Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sarah and Takuya: Last Live of the Year

I can't believe I'm just getting around the writing about this.  Like every other month, September just flew by.

On September 4, Takuya and I had our last Live performance of the year at Mellow.  It was a bittersweet performance, because not only was it our last performance, but it was the first Live we've had that Mark, our #1 fan, wasn't there.  His contract with the Sapporo BoE was up, and he had returned back to the States just a few days before.

I received the nicest compliment from a guy who'd seen Takuya and I sing at the May Studio Party a few months ago.  He said our voice complimented each other so well and it was like we'd been singing together for years!  I kid that Takuya is my Japanese brother, but I truly think we have that kind of connection, and that's really what I enjoy most about singing with him.

There's no doubt that I'm gonna miss our monthly practices and performances - It was because of Takuya that I started singing again and he challenged me to be more confident.  But I'm also excited about some other singing opportunities that have opened up to me.  Most of all, I'm just happy that people enjoy what we do for fun.  A HUGE thanks to all our friends who have supported us and have come to all our shows.  This may be our last Live this year, but hopefully it's not forever!!

If you'd like to hear our show, and a few other things we've recorded, check out Takuya's SoundCloud here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ethan's artistic side

During summer vacation, I enrolled Ethan in calligraphy classes with our Japanese teacher.  I figured he needed something to do during his two-month hiatus from school besides play games on his computer.  So every Sunday, from 1:00-3:00, he'd go to class, carrying the calligraphy case our teacher bought for him.

When I would meet with our teacher for Japanese class, she'd tell me that Ethan had a real talent for calligraphy and that he had a good eye for seeing how to make a beautiful character (kanji character).

I figured once school started up again, Ethan would want to quit, but he told me that he really enjoys the classes and he wants to continue.

When Ethan was in elementary school in New Jersey, he used to take art classes on Sundays at a local studio.  At that time, he loved drawing, and I saw a real talent in him.  Over the years, that interest has waned, and he became uninterested in drawing, but I knew he still had that talent.  It's so nice to see him using that artistic side again.

Two months since he started, he's now writing ancient Chinese poems on long scrolls.  Something I certainly can't do!

Thank you, Sagara Sensei, for being such a great teacher for Ethan!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On having a son in high school

Ethan started school about three weeks ago.
Let me rephrase:  Ethan started HIGH SCHOOL about three weeks ago.  I'm just gonna let that one sink in for a minute.

When we came to Japan three years ago, Ethan was in 6th grade.  At that time, we weren't really sure if we were going to put him in Japanese school, homeschool, or Hokkaido International School.  After taking a tour of the International School, we decided to bite the bullet (and a big chunk of our salaries) and enroll him there.  And we've never regretted it.  Not only does Ethan get a top-notch education there, but he'll be able to easily transition to an American school when we decide to return.

Now, he's in 9th grade, and studying geometry, taking Theater as an elective, and reading "Things Fall Apart" in Literature class.  These are all things I vividly remember doing as a high schooler, which makes it all the more amazing to me.  I guess it wasn't THAT long ago, haha.

He plays guitar, reads voraciously, and can carry Japanese men on his shoulders.  Oh, and he doesn't mind hanging out with his mom every once in a while.  Sure, he's likes more alone time now, and occasionally he can have quite an attitude, but that's to be expected at this age.  Time is going by a little faster than I'd expected, but I'm proud of the young man Ethan is turning out to be.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

On starting my 4th year in Japan.

Once again, August flew by as it normally does.  It's the month of summer vacation in Japan, and I took some nenkyu (paid vacation) days to relax and spend time with my boys and my friends, some of who left to return to their home countries.

August also marked the third year we've lived in Japan.  I can't even believe it.  Who would have ever thought we'd stay here this long?  I certainly didn't.  But here we are, starting our fourth year in Sapporo.

My first school, three years ago.

Since moving here:
Nathan ran 110K and became a teacher at HIS.
I took the JLPT (3 times) and started singing for an audience again.
Ethan started Japanese calligraphy classes and became a high schooler..

Among other things.

 I would never trade my experience I've had living and teaching here.  It's stretched me in ways that have made me a better person and a better teacher.  As an American from a small town, I think it's easy to become insular and to not want to explore beyond the world in which you're familiar.  But once you move to another country, it completely changes your view of the world that I think so many of us create for ourselves by what we see on the internet or on TV.

I cannot wait to see what in store for us this fourth year!!