Saturday, February 28, 2009

Because Adrienne asked me to...

I didn't have much reason to blog...but Adrienne wanted something to read...and I always can ramble on about something :)
It's been a mellow weekend...following a regularly crazy week :) Monday we went back to the hot stone place - YEA! and Yukari our school secretary helped me make back and shoulder massage appointments - which was REALLY nice...much better than our other massage experiences here! Kevin comes in a little more than a week - SUPER excited to have my first Okinawa visitor :) It will be a perfect way to break up the very long month of March! School has been a struggle to get my kids into the swing of things with seems to have thrown us all off, but each day it's a bit better, so I'm hoping to turn a corner next week. I've been busy with conferences...that's what I get for sending progress reports - 11 reports, 11 conferences :( yuck! We have real conferences next month for the end of 3rd quarter - can't believe how close we are to the end of the year! Those conferences are the ones I'm dreading most though - I have to decide by then if my 2nd graders become 3rd graders. I know how far they've come but there are many of them that I don't know if they've come far enough...and retention isn't always the answer...all that to say, there is much work still to be done! We had our first D.E.A.R. Friday this week - drop everything and read...the kids all checked out library books and brought snacks and pillows and we all camped out to read the last 45 minutes of class - the peace and time to grade...I know, I should have been reading too...but it was all so nice! We went to Heather and Dustin's house for games and dinner with their friend Tom. I got to make my turkey pesto wraps - YUM, I've missed those things! Heather made these molten chocolate cakes for dessert - really yummy with ice cream (the ice cream caused a bit of a problem when Heather kept flipping it onto the floor, Dustin got extra ice cream!) We had a good time talking, laughing, and playing - stayed up WAY to late though! The next day Adrienne slept late...I even slept till almost 9 - WAY late for me! We kind of puttered about the house before finally doing our grocery shopping and some other errands. That night we were back at Kitakisen for a good-bye dinner for Adrienne's aide, Azusa. Friday was her last day - Adrienne is already dreading what this means for her and the 16 four year olds - I predict more naps when she gets home :( Be praying for both of us with our kids for the next few months - it's been a challenging year. Today in church Pastor said something though that really struck a chord. When we have faith that God is planning for our eternal life we can have amazing peace even when we don't know the outcome. I may have botched the exact quote...not much of a note-taker - but you get the idea. I think that is one lesson well learned here - that amidst everything else, peace comes from God...our only job is to keep that in mind each moment.

PS for your viewing pleasure Adrienne wanted to "skip over" to the 100 yen store and I didn't really want to go...I said I'd go if she really skipped over and I got to video it...and put it on my blog! Anyway, it was dark, sorry - but you can still tell Adrienne is skipping and flapping her arms for some reason...yes, we're's really rather freeing knowing that no one can tell you that you look ridiculous (or at least we can't understand it!)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hot stones, Ostriches, Pineapples, and Spaghetti...hmmm

Trying to catch up from the last week or so :) oops...Adrienne even said, you FINALLY posted a dramatic :) We went to this Japanese hot stone sauna place AKA ganbanyoku - it was fantastic...I could so get into this! First you get your towels and you go shower before putting on these oh so attractive pj type things. After that you go in this room and lay on these super hot slabs of stone and my whole body just kind of sighed - it was super relaxing (and not a bad way to lose 600 calories every 20 minutes! I googled it of course and supposedly it detoxifies the body and helps with circulation - my skin was super soft for several days and I felt great afterwards - when (not if!) we go again we might get a 20 minute massage to top the whole thing off. Itsuko (a Japanese lady from church) says they also do a stomach massage...apparently it helps with heart burn so I might need to try that sometime...we'll see! It was really fun - we might go again this week :)

The diagram to healthy living in Japanese :)
Gina was already to go!
Last Saturday we had visitors for tour book day! We had invited Gina and Rocky, who are looking after Sage while her parents are on vacation to go to the ostrich farm. The all-knowing tour book said you could ride ostriches - random, but fun right?!? Anyway, we had them over for lunch and Alisia, Pauline, and Benny came too so our little wood box ended up being a full house for tacos - good times! We headed up north with the girls in the back and the "grown-ups" in the other car. The rain started to come down, but we decided to keep going and hope for it to clear up. Once we got there we discovered you can't ride the ostriches, but you can feed them - after seeing them we were all glad that riding them wasn't allowed, they seemed a bit scary! It was hilarious watching everyone's reactions to the lunging towards the food!

I made Sage put the sunflower from the chocolate covered sunflower package on her head - she only agreed if I did it too
Gina was laughing so hard at Rocky and Benny - they got surprised by the ostrich!

That's my ostrich - he was very lunging!

We come as a pair - last Sunday night we were even the "couple" to be interviewed for service...don't ask.
From left to, Alisia, Pauline (Sage in front), Benny, Gina, Rocky, and my favorite person in Japan :) Adrienne
The tourist picture from Pineapple Park...yes, we are addicted, yes we will go at least twice more (once when Kevin visits and once when Adrienne's mom comes) We might go once more just for fun! We were shocked because Pauline, Benny, and Alisia have been here for nearly 3 years and had never been - apparently we've been more places on this island than the average person - what can I say, our tour book has served us well! (I had a question about the pineapple park - if you missed the original post you can look back here)
We all squished into one cart - Adrienne and I rode backwards and almost fell out going up the little hill!

All caught up now :) This weekend we helped with LON spaghetti dinner - sorry no pictures, we were to busy making pasta and bread and salad! It was a lot of fun to decorate and cook and of course eat and fellowship! The Okinawa marathon traps us at church (heaven forbid!) so the ladies use the opportunity to do a fellowship fundraiser - good times! Off for another week in Japan - regular scheduling this week I think!

100th blog!

How 100th blog! I apparently ramble on more than Adrienne :) or I
m just an excessive blogger - but it's been such a good way to share all my goings on in Japan and there always seems to be something new and different! Part me can't believe I've only been here 7 months and part of me thinks the time has flown - it's been a roller coaster for sure, but a learning experience and one I wouldn't change for the world (ok I might have chosen a different country in retrospect ha ha) but overall such a good experience for me! Thanks to all of you that have shared every word and picture of it with me so far. I appreciate your comments, emails, packages, skype and miss you all! Anyway - here's my top 10 likes and dislikes in particular order!

10 things I love about Japan

1. My Japanmate
2. Tour Book Days
3. Reading at Starbucks
4. Neighborhood Church
5. The sea wall
6. Italian dressing (can’t read anything else on the label though!)
7. Pineapple Park
8. The ocean
9. Ryukyu glass
10. The Japan diet

10 things I hate about Japan
1. Milk
2. Sour's just wrong that it looks like cream cheese
3. Thomas the car...overheating at a stop light and changing out of gears when it's an automatic is just wrong
4. the wood box AKA our apartment
5. clothing sizes and styles
6. humidity
7. Labels I can’t read
8. 17 hour time difference
9. rain
10. eating lunch with my students

Back to regular programing...still haven't finished my blog from the week - but I'll get caught up soon!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentines, Family Fun, and Birthdays....

We've had a busy week at school this week, new student,Kounosuke had a birthday, Valentine's Day, and Family Fun Day at the park. Sorry the pictures are in reverse order :)

Family Fun Day was on Friday - we were supposed to be at the park by 9, so we left at 8:30 which should have been plenty of time...we got officially lost for the first time though! We finally pulled over and used a pay phone to call Pastor - he told us we were on the right track so we were praying for a car we recognized or a sign we could read - thankfully we saw a car we recognized and did a u-turn to follow it into the OTHER side of the park - this place was huge, we never would have found it on our own! Each teacher was paired up to do field games - Rachel and I did Beetle Bug (a SGCS favorite of mine!), the T-shirt game (you put a shirt on the first person and they hold hands with the 2nd person and the rest of the team pulls the shirt off the first person and onto the 2nd person...all the way down the line), and Spoon Zoom with cotton balls and eggs - all in all fun times :) I even got to watch Adrienne do the chicken dance with her class - made me laugh!

The day ended with a tug of war teachers vs students...we didn't stand a chance!

My class watching the other events
Caterpillar race - HILARIOUS!
Beetle Bug - it took them awhile to get the hang of it but they finally got it!
Kristopher, Kounosuke, and Dennis hanging out
Kyle doing the Spoon Zoom...cotton balls are willy little things!

The T-shirt game was hard work!
Kiana, Ayaka, and Serina waiting for the games to begin.

Valentine's Day was fun all decked out in our pink and read - we delivered our Valentines out in the hall, decorated cookies, and ate our yummy snacks - good day!

My goofy class - Samuel's our newest addition on the bottom left,
Delivering Valentines

My kids took decorating cookies VERY seriously - they had never done it before so we had to have frosting lessons...we might have to do it again they were so cute about it.

Mana might be my favorite (I know, breaking teacher code) - watching her giggle about who knows what we were talking about made me happy
Banri took it VERY seriously - he must have held up the sprinkles choosing what went together best for at least 2 minutes!

Kounosuke had a birthday on Wednesday - pretty good cake, every time I turned around his mom had added another piece to my plate to take home - she was cracking me up!
That covers the kids this week - I'll post the rest of the week later :) Love and miss you all!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

WWII Peace Park Memorial

On Saturday Adrienne and I headed south on a beautiful day :) to go to the Peace Park the commemorates the Battle of Okinawa during WWII. It's been perfect weather lately, but everyone says that if it stays warm it could get HOT sooner...not good, but I'll enjoy the pleasant weather for now! We walked around a bit outside before going into the museum. When we got inside we got the little headsets that explained things in English which was extremely helpful! As we were walking through my heart just felt heavy thinking about how awful the war was for everyone and as I've been researching Japan/Okinawa to correlate with our History lessons it amazes me how shameful the general population finds their involvement in the war. Most people didn't want to be in the war and don't like the Japanese flag due to the fact that it began as a military symbol. Bird walk...anyway, the pictures of the war were much more graphic than anything you would see in the states and there was a replica cave of where people hid from the US soldiers - I had chills standing there in the cold and damp looking at the "people" huddled together and the mother covering the baby's mouth. Every so often a "military vehicle" would rumble overhead and I think I jumped at each explosion. As shocking as the museum was, it painted an interesting picture of the island's history - as well as it's future. The US took this place over for so long and has since made their economy dependent upon the's strange thinking that the US and Japan were enemies, but I've been welcomed so wonderfully into this place. I know there are pockets of people that are resentful that the US is still here, but that isn't a general consensus. The peace park makes so much sense for this place - I've never been to a place that really seems as content as the people here are.

The view from where the Peace Bell is (there was a museum too that has the largest lacquered Buddha in the world...but we passed on that)
The peace bell - Adrienne asked if we were allowed to ring it, we figured it would be bad to get kicked out of the peace park though...

I thought this world map was really cool with all the kids pictures representing each country.

We saw this and realized that we're about 15,000 miles from home and got in this whole discussion if we could be any farther from CA...I looked it up - if we lived in northern New Zealand, we could be farther from home, I'll pass on more distance
You all are out that window - I will get there eventually :)
The back side of the museum
The Pacific Ocean :)
There were 4 groups of 7 rows of plaques that looked like this for the Japanese and 1 group of 4 of Americans - it was commemorating people that had either died in Okinawa during the battle and/or the Okinawans who died during the Pacific War - some were more recent though so I'm not sure about those people.

Seriously?? Always a beautiful view here!
Rows and rows of memorials

Afterwards we went to the Ryukyu glass factory - I LOVE that place! If you want to see the glass they make here you can see it at:

Good weekend - busy week, Valentine's Day party, Family Fun Day at school this Friday...a new student...hmmmm :)

Kids 100 days later!

OH MY OH's been a busy week of kids :) Wednesday was Alyssa's last day of school here so I had helped the class make a book for her and baked a cake in the toaster oven and we had a little Sayonara of our own - I hope she enjoys being back in the States!

Alyssa eating her Funfetti cake - my class was fascinated by the little dots of color...took multiple explanations for them to understand how I had done that!
This was the silly little hooligans!
Friday was the 100th day of school and I had built it up for the last couple of weeks so we were REALLY excited that day...but I think it was one of our better days so that made it nice all around. Our morning was pretty normal until after our spelling test and then we started making our 100's snack - I put everything out that they had brought in...the Japanese don't quite get trail mix, so we had some interesting choices, but the kids liked it and we had a good time! I tried some new yummy snacks too! They all worked on their 100's day books while the others made the snack.

Kai and Mana
Nathan and Kyle
Kiana and Kristopher...serious business!
Mai and Shuan (Shuan had to examine the Snickers VERY kids didn't know what they were!)
Dennis and Ayaka
Ryuki and Lauren

Banri and Serina - this was their 2nd picture, I had to make silly noises and faces to get Serina to smile and that's the best I got out of Banri :)

Kounosuke and Milena
At recess we took 100 small steps, 100 giant steps, and jumped 100 times...we ended the afternoon with the goal of reading 100 books (didn't quite make it, but we had fun anyway!
Seriously, how cute is she?
Kounosuke sits like this often, it seems to help him think!

Milena's reading has improved so much this year!

That night we went over to Kim's house to kid sit...OH MY, the apartment is lovely and has the BEST view ever...thing 300 degree ocean - not quite 360 but close! We ate pizza (yum) tried the new root beer float in a bottle (interesting) watched (I use this term loosely) Prince Caspian. Then the move ended and the escapades began! There was MUCH picture taking, dancing, running, hokey pokeying, and who knows what else - but we had a really good time!

Matthew has a floating head

We were getting worn out - had to rest before the craziness continued!

I'm not sure what's happening here really
Matthew and Emma with Adrienne
Samuel cut Emma's head off...might have been on purpose, but he said we all looked beautiful, so who's to argue?!?
It's a hat I guess :)