Monday, October 27, 2008

EWWWWW!

No, we didn't find a giant bug in our apartment, no more yucky smells, but I have what Adrienne thinks is a bug bite...on MY EYE! It was a little speck this morning that was sort of itchy and hurt and through out the day it was bothering me more and more to the point of a headache along with the irritation. Adrienne thinks I'm being my usual dramatic self - Lori suggested eye drops and some allergy medicine - need to get drops, but I took the medicine and iced my eye for an hour tonight. It feels better, but still a slight pain and some itching, so we'll see how it looks tomorrow...I'm VERY nervous if it's something I have to go to the Dr. for...not sure how I feel about going to the Japanese hospital for an exam...we'll just pray it gets better overnight :) Adrienne promised to post a picture of me being dramatic on the couch (she made me lay down, so it's partly her fault!) but I figured I needed to show off my eye...most of you had to look at my throat when it was enlarged, what's the difference right? :) Maybe I need to go lie down in Miss Dolly's office for awhile! I personally don't think the picture does it justice, but it will have to do.

Love,
The Drama Queen

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tour book day (again!)

Ahh another tour book day - that book gives me so many giggles (and Adrienne so many headaches!) I've been scouring the book for places to go and planned a whole day up in Nago for us on Saturday - lots of short stops, but plenty still to do when we go next time :) So we begin the day by going to this awesome bakery called ZaZou to get the best chicken sandwiches and a snack for the road (we didn't have breakfast) We got there just as it opened and got fresh sandwiches and our CC Lemon and set off down the 58. We laugh about needing a route 58 sticker because it seriously takes us everywhere just like route 66 at home :) So I'm flipping through the book marking our progress and looking up things we see to decide if we want to go there some other day (yes we do!) And we're watching the road go by and when we get further north all of the sudden the building aren't so close together and the ocean breaks into view and we both suck in some air with a big WOW to follow - it's is incredibly beautiful here!

The water is such a gorgeous shade of blue and turquoise - not a bad view while stopped at a light!





The Statue of Liberty and the Okinawa Hollywood sign made us laugh! We're not sure what it was for but funny for sure!

Our first stop was to a waterfall to eat our lunch (the book said it would be nice) The directions say to turn at Sukuta Village and follow the small sign that says waterfall. We missed the turn and had to turn around then we went all through the village and saw no sign, but there was only one road to turn on so we went back and turned there and took that road until it came to a dead end. Huh, no more directions in the book...and this is all we see!


Thankfully a Japanese couple comes out to their car and I march over with my tour book and point to the waterfall part and he makes a showering motion with his hand and I nod, he then makes his hand into a fish or something and waves me toward that VERY SMALL sign down this very small path - here we go....we start walking down the path and Adrienne looks at me and informs me this is the kind of place I might take her if I were going to kill her and leave her to die - no worries, I wouldn't bring lunch for that - ha ha! Besides, I'd be stuck trying to get back by myself - NO GOOD can come from that!


We come to the waterfall (yea!) and I insist on climbing up the rocks to sit by it because there's this AWFUL noise and we're not sure if it's power lines or bugs (not sure which is worse!) and I'm hoping the water drowns it out. So we sit and eat our lunch - YUMMY! and I stick my feet in the water which feels marvelous on my bug bites (I think they're from outside, not our apartment, thank goodness!) After we're done eating we trek back to the car and Adrienne asks where next so we head back to the 58 to find the Banyan tree that is over 300 years old and the stone tablet that was a protest to Nago becoming the capital instead of Shuri.


My directions say head south from the Nago intersection...UMMMM we have no idea what that means but I finally find some more instructions in a different part of the book that says it's near the grocery store and post office which we happen upon and finally find the tree. Adrienne sees no where to park so I make her pull over so I can go take a picture. We can't waste all that hard work and not go look at it! So there's my Banyan tree - exciting huh?

Next on the list was a short walking tour of a traditional Okinawan style house (currently a residence so we can't go in) and a prayer temple. There is a misprint in the instructions so we get turned around and back on the right road 449 not 448...oops! Adrienne was getting a little irritated with me, but was a trooper despite the directions and thankfully they were better after that :) We did say that if the only place we argue is the car then we're doing pretty well! Anyway, we park near a different post office and walk the 3 blocks to see the house...I snuck around the rock wall for a full picture (shhh don't tell) apparently the rock wall and the clay roof and the wooden sliding doors are the "old Okinawan home" style

We then went to the opposite corner and walked 2 blocks and turned and walked another block past the preschool (yes, this is what is put in the book) and come to the prayer temple which was under construction in one part and being prayed in at another. We look around and head back to the car - Adrienne just has her camera and I have my tour book and we're walking down the middle of the road - no other white people in sight and here we are trekking along - it was probably a really funny sight to the few people that drove past us!
On our way back we saw the world's biggest butterflies, think small bird size which I'm convinced came from this caterpillar - now I know I don't have big feet, but that caterpillar is almost half of my foot!! Crazy...
Next stop was the glass factory - I have a crush on the Ryuki glass, but this wasn't a very good shop so I was disappointed. Last on our list was the Pineapple Park (the real reason for the trip, but it seemed like a waste to just have one stop!) This was by far the highlight and on the list if anyone comes to visit! We bought our tickets and then got on our very own pineapple tram (programmed in English just for us!) We then learned that pineapple is a combination of pine cones, because it looks like one and apples for it's sweet flavor, hmmm, ok! The tour was fun - we giggled through most of it
Little pineapples

Us on our super speedy tram (it was slower than our car if that's possible!)

Afterwards we wound our way through the shell museum and then to the pineapple store - you could taste all things pineapple - cookies, cookies, and more cookies, cake, pie, wine, juice, candy, chocolate, yogurt chips, and who knows what else. They also had perfume which I would actually buy it smelled SO good (but they wouldn't let me spray it to see if it was still nice on me) and for the price I didn't want to risk smelling funny! We got a couple of boxes of cookies for our treat and headed home - good times - Sunday has been quiet with church and I'm off to grade so I can do report cards this week!

Friday Night Fun

We didn't have anything going on for Friday night and we had our yummy mac and cheese...didn't want to spend money, but didn't want to sit in the wood box either. Adrienne started looking through the tour book and I'm convinced the island that after 7pm all there is to do is eat and drink...so we decided to go find the US Forces WW2 Landing Monument. Now the directions say to go to Sunabe beach and walk to the northern end until a park appears, the monument and the beach are located on the other side of the park. UMMMM - ok...so we find what we hope is the park, and on the other side is a beach - good, so the park has a playground and what not and some gazebo type buildings, we check these out - they seem to be for looking out at the ocean, we cross over to the beach and find the following sting ray...if this is the monument that's just the strangest monument EVER...but we better take a picture in case it is. So we're walking back towards the park laughing about how we'll have to google the monument when we get home to see what it looks like.
We then find this at the edge of the park, we have no clue what it says, maybe THIS is the monument - WAY better than the sting ray at least :)
Oh wait, then there's this - it's hard to tell but there's people carved into the stone with guns creeping up onto the rocks...we decided this MUST be the monument (we googled it and we're right)



The whole evening was full of giggles and yet another funny tour book story :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chapel...

I think my class and I took a turn this week...I may have successfully bonded with them and I'm liking them more and more...we're developing a chemistry and they can even be funny at times - who would have thunk it??? :) We were in charge of chapel this week so we've been practicing our reader's theater over the last couple of weeks but got serious about it this week (good motivation for reading!) I used the Parable of the Pumpkin we wrote at San Gabriel a few years ago :) So today we performed and 4 of the parents came and I was SO proud of my little munchkins - they said everything perfectly - I could hear and understand them despite the lack of microphones :) The other kids seemed to enjoy it as well...we also did a song at the end, Be Bold...from Spring Concert - modified the motions a tinge so they could get the hang of it easily and we taught the rest of the group - there were some giggles but I think everyone had a good time with it!! Anyway, I'm proud of my little one's.
I should have been helping them with the motions...but I wanted a picture :)

Keep your script at your waist...nice and loud, nice and slow, nice and clear...most of them got it!





video


I'm also noticing that they're starting to use the sight words up on the wall to help them spell during writing or journal...YEA! We're also starting to do a little better knowing them...our reading doesn't make me want to cry anymore and most of us can count by 3's :) Overall we're making progress...one painful step at a time, but PROGRESS!! I'm thankful for signs of life hee hee!

Adrienne and I have become Tuesday regulars at Starbucks - peaceful for reading or chatting...I like to read and eavesdrop on the English conversations :) I laugh each time we go because we keep seeing this gecko (I hope it's just one and not an infestation) We often joke about the F rating they would get in the states...but here the geckos are good for bugs so apparently it's one gross thing over another...but it strikes me funny all the same! We've also been going to the sea wall more often - it's SO peaceful to just sit and watch the water. It's one of the few places you can actually see the stars and we discovered an ice cream vending machine - we're still not for sure what it was we chose but my pineapple/apple popsicle thing was VERY yummy. I think the sea wall is my second favorite place on the island...it's a reminder of the importance of enjoying all your moments - not just rushing past them. My little tidbits I'm thankful for this week: Talked to the Andrews on Skype, 101 class at church...and the ensuing conversation with Pastor Wes, popsicles at the sea wall, my kids at chapel (and the fact that they actually got excited about something!), sight word cars, mac and cheese for dinner again, talked to Cheryl, Jen, and Mom on Skype, it was a pretty decent week I have to say! I have to do report cards next week so I have all my grading to finish and I'm hoping that the improvements I'm seeing mean I have fewer cranky parents after report cards!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Weekends...

Ahhh the weekend come and goes again...this one wasn't quite as eventful as last weeks but always an adventure :) I woke up Friday to pouring rain, yes I know I say that it rains a lot but I groaned know that chapel was going to be in my room because we don't make the trek down the street in the rain and my room and the library are the biggest and apparently it's harder to move tables than my whole classroom. I arrived at school and with a little help from the kids I got all the desks shoved to one side of the room and the floor swept. My poor kidlets were rather disconcerted with the change of routine, but we got through it and all 65 kids jammed into my room for worship and a lesson about Nehemiah then there was the shoe game...you know, high school youth group game usually played out on a field? Yes, the put all 130 pairs of shoes in a pile in the middle of my room and what ensued could be compared to the tug of war or a dog pile - I was a little terrified and the tears that ensued were quite sad - my kids got a little squished and there were some shoes that were harder to find...but we all survived (I think). The whole day was kind of a loss after that - but we did take our science test and I have a perfect bell curve...going to let them correct it for more points...I think the first test was a little strange for them but I was pleased that I had so many do well - I'm not the world's worst test writer :) Oh, I have a new job...janitor...our cleaning crew has been cut so I get to mop myself - ummmmm, yea, trauma, but I bought some gloves and will be on my way this week...

Rainbow on my rainy day


The shoe pile chaos

My kids getting their shoes on :)

Saturday was Fall Festival - it went smoothly. I had chosen to do Pass the Present (kind of like musical chairs) so I was in the cool upstairs, but a little bored with very few other people and in between games no one to talk to (shhh, I did get some reading group planning done!) We thought our air conditioning in the car wasn't working because of a low gas tank because it started working after we got gas, but sadness, no air for some reason - my brilliant plan is to have one of the high schoolers who apparently is good with cars look at it this week - pray for our little Thomas car! After that we went to a pottery fair with Lori and she showed us where to get these cookers that we had talked about before for EXCELLENT prices :) We spent the evening with the whole family and Izzie and I got her ready for bed while the others got a birthday present for a party they had the next day. I've missed "my" babies so much and it was nice to do the whole bedtime routine - no fast pokes vs slow pokes though :( and she and I crawled into bed and were reading our 6th book by the time everyone came home - more books for Carolyn and the coffee and more chatting for the adults before Adrienne and I headed home. Sunday was church, Rose Garden, and a church 101 class (kinda like a membership/informational class that you take before being able to join or volonteer) Good times...a trip to the 100 Yen store to look for a couple things and then home to clean and relax before a new week starts. Have a good one!

Carolyn and Izzie were my best customers...picking out thier condolance prizes!
Ayaka, her sister, Kounoske, Kai, and some of the older kids playing

Lauren and Kyle my twins - Lauren had on a darling shirt from when they were stationed in Germany
Izzie being silly for the camera :)

Oh, things I'm thankful for: Mac and cheese with Velveeta (Mom sent a box with lots of fun things), and email from Dad, bedtime routines with the kids, a borrowed toaster oven, chats with Adrienne, and beginning to bond with my students

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The small things

Wrote my first Science test this week - hoping my kids do ok - does it reflect on the test or the kids if they fail? I know I've presented all the information, I know that their study guide covers everything on the test, I know we've talked about animals every day for the last two months....but I'm a little nervous about the test. I've never written a test before...we'll see tomorrow I guess! Anyway, I've been bonding with my children this week...they've been trying to teach me bits and pieces of Japanese and they LOVE hearing about California! We have our Fall Festival this weekend and I've been busy wrapping prizes in my spare time and some of the kids liked helping to cut the paper if they finished their work early - the giggles over wrapping paper was pretty funny - they wanted to know what everything was, who brought it, where it came from, on and on - it amazes me every time how excited they get over the little things. Did I mention before about what happened when we made antonym wheels? I gave them the two parts and then the brad - OH MY - they'd never seen them before, it was God's gift to them - we had to play with the wheel for almost 5 minutes before we could actually do the activity - hopefully next time the excitement is a little more under control. Two of my kids were doing some strange thing with their hands yesterday so I asked what they were playing - hands was the reply. Hands? Like shadow puppets or flying or something? No, they were just moving their hands and "jumping" their hands off of things and making noises...happy little clams or hands as the case may be! It really is all about the small things here - so I guess that's what I'm thankful for today :) that I'm not the only one that is thankful for the small things!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thankful for....

A good weekend - feeling happy and relaxed right now... :) Friday was a mini adventure to Sauce (yummy BBQ) an attempt at Western World for line dancing - total bust, gonna have to wait till I get home for some line dancing! Saturday included some browsing, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2!!!! I was just a tad excited to see that one finally. Adrienne and I missed it by just a couple of days but we got our fix and it even included movie popcorn and rootbeer - not much more a girl could ask for! Then the day continued with bowling with Izzie, Carolyn, and Lori - I borrowed some styling socks (see Adrienne's page for me rockin my bee socks!) and we had a ball - I of course lost...3rd place out of 5...beat by a 4 year old - she had bumpers but still...I admit to not being a fantastic bowler, but that might be on the embarassing side! hee hee! Sunday we played hookie from church for the tug of war and today was Skype morning, beach afternoon, grocery shopping, tacos, grading papers, and a movie...good weekend...praying for a good week!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Push a war...

Actually we went to Naha's Tug of War today - it was in the Guiness Book of World Records a few years back and one of the few things I could find in the tour book in Japan back in the States. So I had been asking about it and dragged Rachel and Adrienne along of course :) Anyway the experience is a bit beyond words so I took lots of pictures and will try to recreate it the best I can, but really there aren't enough words and there is NOTHING comparable at home! Crazy, funny, entertaining day - smile is still on my face and I still have LOVELY Columbus day off tomorrow :) So our adventure begins driving down the 58 towards Naha - we've only been there for the airport so this is our first time on our own. I looked it up and all the directions we have is the intersection - but with a giant rope, a parade and thousands of people I'm pretty sure we'll be able to find it...Adrienne keeps asking, where is it? Are you sure we can find it and all of the sudden this is what we see at a stop light...I looked at Adrienne and was like, see it's hard to miss! This rope is HUGE...bigger than our car at the end (course I'm bigger than our car, but STILL, this is a rope!)

We found a place to park - have no idea how much it costs - we think 1,000 yen for the day which is about $10, but who really knows we're here and we'll figure it out later :) We park, wander down the street unsure where to go for the parade so we of course follow the other white people wandering about and find the parade...about got run over by a giant pole which we soon found out was going to be part of the parade. Background on this festival - there are 14 parts to Naha, 7 on the east, 7 on the west. They come together to prepare for a good harvest and the winner of the Tug of War has good luck for the year. This tradition goes back 100's of years so it's pretty intense on the pride part! It started as just a special occasion thing but is now to promote Okinawan culture, tourism, and "mutual understanding between citizens" Anyway, the parade involves each part of the council in the city and they each have a flag or two, I took pictures of them all :) The kids even get involved and their are mini versions for them to train with!

This was the end of the parade route - not so crowded...JUST WAIT!


1st flag
This is how they held them - the flags were SO tall, they would all take very short turns so we assume they were also VERY heavy!
2nd flag
All involved had these outfits...they train them young for this!
Conch blowing
3rd and one of my favorites :)
This is how they got them to stand up to start walking or take them down to move areas...sometimes they would need to be rescued also!
This one almost fell down - the guys holding it did fall though...dog pile!
These hats reminded me of my kids PE uniforms
4th flag
Gotta have a dragon right? There was a dance too
5th flag
The mini version!
6th flag

7th flag
8th flag
9th flag and my other favorite
Water break! I was thankful it hasn't been as hot the last 2 days...AND not as muggy!!!!
10th flag
11th flag
12th flag
13th flag
14th flag
and THE END....
Off to the Tug of War...first the 14 flags have what looks like a face off - it was hard to see because it was so crowded

The rope before being attached to the other side
This giant gold ball was hoisted in the air in the middle
We were SO packed in - it gives new meaning to being in a can of sardines...this lady was walking in front of me (yes she was Japanese, yes she has purple hair) This is all I could capture of the situation because she was seriously right under my nose) Whenever ANYBODY moved, we all moved, it was like bobbing in a sea of people...good luck staying put!
Lots of speeaches...we couldn't understand
At the end the gold ball split open and balloons and confetti fell down on us!

The "leaders" from both sides were carried in to begin the "war"

The ropes are now attached...at the beginning we grapped the ropes to help pull the two ends together...ok, so we're hanging onto our little bit of our mini rope no big deal...one group goes by the other direction (video below) no big deal...this man starts yelling at us in Japanese - he's drunk and VERY unfriendly about something, the Japanese people around us are also a little unerved by this man as well. Thankfully a rather large military guy got him to leave us alone :) So, now it's our tunr to pull - they''re giving directions in Japanese and all of a sudden there's a surge of people and the people behind me are falling - I'm hanging onto the rope for dear life praying I don't get smushed in all of these...everyone manages to get upright and out of the small dog pile - one lady had to be carried out from the shock...we made our way AWAY from the rope...we watched the rest of the time at a safe distance :)

Strange masked men...pirate man, pinapple man, pig man, super hero man...No Japan man though :( ha ha

Me in front of the rope - not that you can see it with all the people!

Announcer man

People on top of the rope...

They all wiped out KNIVES to cut the rope apart - if you have a piece it gives you good luck for the year...UM, SHOCKING! Knives everywhere - no one got hurt, everyone was friendly and it was completely normal to be sawing away at this rope...we got our pieces and found something to eat before heading home - OH MY...good day - nothing compares...a little scared at times, but overall a tale to tell
Afterwards the leftover rope was picked up by 2 cranes (did I mention it weighs over 18 tons????)
Crazy videos of the parade and the tugging...Sorry this blog was a bit on the excessive side, but I had a hard time choosing pictures and videos...and trust me, this is less than half of what I took today!!!

video video video video video video

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