Friday, November 30, 2012

Pre-JLPT place to stay

My dear friend Laura decided I should come stay with her and her husband before the JLPT (JLPT = Japanese test of doom). Above the bed I'm sleeping in the next two nights, I found this awesome poster of encouragement.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Signs of stress in my life:

1. The only food I can think about is chocolate. I’m hungry . . . where’s the chocolate?

2. When 10 pm hits and all my “stuff” is done, I think what fun thing can I do for a few minutes before bed? Then suddenly it’s midnight and I haven’t gone to bed (waaaay too late for my 6:00 am alarm). Which usually leads to . . .

3. Getting out of bed with the bare minimum amount of time to get ready and get to work, causing morning stress.

4. Letting the fun and creative things I love to do fall to the side while I'm busy.

This week some of the craziness at work finished and the JLPT will be over on Sunday. Just a few more days . . .

* * * 

In other news, I decided to quit for the evening tonight and read for fun. I've now passed my goal of 80 books for the year, with one more month, what should I change my goal to?

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Becky has completed her goal of reading 80 books in 2012!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Japanese fail

In fifth grade English classes recently, we have been working on "What's this?" and answering "It's a ~." I use this question all the time, so they understand it, but they always forget the "It's a" part and just answer "pen." 

Anyways, today we played a Mystery Box game where the class would ask and one student would reach in the box through the hole and have to tell what it is. Then we played a game where they had to figure out what a picture was when they could only see part of it. 

The kids had a whole lot of fun and one student asked me what the name of the game was when she was trying to write her reflection (this class does this at the end of every English class). I wanted to tell her (in Japanese), "you can call it whatever you like," but my answer came out in a big jumble of words. She nodded that she understood and we both giggled a little. 

It took me a minute to sort out the correct way to say what I was trying to say (or at least a sensible one): 「何の名前使ってもいい。」 (Nan no namae tsukatte mo ii). 

After I thought of it, I went back and confirmed it and she gave me an ok. 

When I make silly mistakes, my students see that trying is more important than getting it right all the time. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mom & Em visit Kamakura 1

We flew into Narita and then road Em’s first-ever train.

2012-07-04 2012-07-04 Tokyo Train 003

We stayed the night in Tokyo and then headed to Kamakura the next afternoon.

I wasn’t certain if it was culturally taboo, so we went and found a bench on the grounds of a shrine to eat our lunch at.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 006

The hydrangeas were in bloom.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 009

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 011

We were passed by an adorable group of school children.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 017

The Kamakura Guesthouse. This is where we stayed and I want to visit Kamakura again so I can stay there again.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 018

Mom and Em enjoyed washing their hands at all the temples, especially since it was so warm in the area.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 021

The great Buddha of Kamakura. Apparently you can go inside for 20 yen, but we realized it at 4:32 and he closed at 4:30.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 022

We held the great Buddha.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 023
2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 025

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 026

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 030

You can see the windows in his back.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 032

His sign.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 033

These guys were running all over the Tokyo area. I don’t envy their job, but it seemed like a cool way to see parts of the city.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 034

We happened to be there for the Guesthouse’s 2 year anniversary, so they made a big dinner for everyone who was interested.

This is Nikku-Jugga. It’s a beef and potato dish.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 035

After dinner instruments were broken out and a mini-concert started.

2012-07-05 2012-07-05 Kamakura 036

The common area the next morning.

2012-07-06 2012-07-06 Kamakura 001

The super-cool lockers.
2012-07-06 2012-07-06 Kamakura 002

Monday, November 26, 2012

Snow and a friend

Tonight I stopped to turn this scene into an Instagram master piece (meaning a photo that I feel no pressure to make absolutely perfect).

As I finished posting it, two random shadows walked up and I discovered that one of them is one of the ladies from choir. When we got to the place where our paths should have split ways, she invited me into her house to meet her husband and grandkids (who are my students). It was so much fun chatting with them and getting to learn a bit more about this lovely lady who I chat with in choir.

I'm thankful for things like snow that slow me down and put me in the path of friends.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


This weekend my church hosted a band for a concert on Friday night. I decided to go and I’m glad I did.

The band was ナイトdeライト (nighto de raito = light in the night). They were a lot of fun to watch and it was a lot of fun to listen to them along with a bunch of the people from church.

Here is their YouTube video:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Meeting a Creeper

Tonight I was walking around to find something for dinner. As is always the case, when I am by myself and have too many choices, I just can't make a choice, and then I get hungrier and, in the winter, colder until I just pick something.

As I was walking around looking at my map and trying to see what was recommended via Foursquare all while cursing Apple Maps, I heard "大丈夫?" (Are you ok?).

I said yes, and expected the guy to keep moving when he didn't my sense of hmmm went up.

He said somethings and said his age then asked are you the same age? No.

How old are you? 27.

Did you go swimming tonight? No.

I'm sitting here thinking this is an odd question and can't figure out what's up with this strange guy as he continues to talk to me, asking the same thing a couple more times and then I realize that my hair is wet and it's freezing out - 0C/32F.

Are you wearing a swimsuit? (he looks me up and down) No.

Why is your hair wet? Onsen (Japanese bath).

Do you have long hair? Kind-of.

How long? I gesture that's about shoulder length.

At this point he reaches out to touch my hair and I lean away.

He finally seems to get the fact that I don't really want to talk, gives me a high five and walks away.

Even though I pay attention to what's around me, I rarely meet creepers. Usually when people walk up and want to have long-ish conversations with me at random times, it's to practice their English or talk to a random foreigner. This guy didn't even seem to notice I was a foreigner - the conversation was entirely in Japanese and I don't think he asked me once where I was from.

After that I was on high alert for creepers, when a guy followed me down a row of tiny shops, I was wondering what I was going to do if he continued to follow me and turned when I got to the next road. He of course, didn't - I was just a bit paranoid because of my strange encounter a few minutes before.

Eventually I realized how cold my hair actually was and how cold the temperature was and that I needed to make a decision, I landed in a shop I had been in before for the local specialty.

Thanksgiving dinner

Here is my Thanksgiving dinner!

In my opinion, tacos beat turkey any day - including turkey day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Five years ago

It was at about this time five years ago that I woke up to the phone ringing again and again and again. My foggy Sunday morning brain realized that no one calls so many times at 6 am unless there is a problem. My mind immediately flashed to my mom a mind sisters - it was my dad calling.

When I finally made my slow morning brain work to answer the phone, I got my mom. She didn't want to be in charge of telling me the news, so she passed me off to dad.

That's when I got the news - Cara and the other girls were in a car accident. I expected my dad's next words to be that they were fine, that I would see Cara and the brand new glasses she was so excited about on Friday night very soon.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the news dad had for me. The girls had been in an accident on the split section of 99W when someone driving the wrong way hit them. Cara died on impact. Arianne, Kim and Faven are alive, but hurting.

Five years ago. I still can't believe that my friend whom I had been friends with since kindergarten, with whom I had giggled about boys and gone to summer camp with is gone.

We were practically sisters growing up - complete with the arguments. Out families did practically everything together - from Girl Scouts, to sports, to lazy summer days off.

I struggle with what to say. I don't want to forget Cara or the times that we had together. I was thinking today about how easy it is to forget the names of people that we did something with after the fact, merely because we don't see them everyday. I don't want to forget.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mom and Em visit Hokkaido–highlights

Our first few days were spent in Sapporo, being tourists.

2012-06-28 2012-06-28 Sapporo Mom & Em 008

2012-06-28 2012-06-28 Sapporo Mom & Em 009

2012-06-28 2012-06-28 Sapporo Mom & Em 012

We went for a Hokkaido specialty, Soup Curry. They had fun butchering the shop’s name and calling it Sewage, the real name was Suage (Sue-ah-gay).

2012-06-28 2012-06-28 Sapporo Mom & Em 019

Then we took the lift to the top of Mt. Moiwa to see Sapporo’s famous night view.

2012-06-28 2012-06-28 Sapporo Mom & Em 020

2012-06-28 2012-06-28 Sapporo Mom & Em 023

Our next adventure was to Sapporo’s Olympic Ski Jump and accompanying museum. Sapporo held the Olympics in 1972.

2012-06-29 2012-06-29 Sapporo Ski Jump 003

We got to try the electronic version of the ski jump.

2012-06-29 2012-06-29 Sapporo Ski Jump 021

And how they train speed skaters.

2012-06-29 2012-06-29 Sapporo Ski Jump 027
And even the figure skating trial!

2012-06-29 2012-06-29 Sapporo Ski Jump 039

Em made an excellent ski jumper.

2012-06-29 2012-06-29 Sapporo Ski Jump 014

We also parked my car in the giant car elevator thing.

2012-06-29 2012-06-29 Sapporo Ski Jump 045

We visited my lake.

2012-06-30 2012-06-30 Furano 002

We ate Furano melon with ice cream – yum!

2012-06-30 2012-06-30 Furano 005

Got to try Japanese fireworks.

2012-07-01 2012-07-01 Hokkaido 004

And visit the bread shop.

2012-07-03 2012-07-03 Hokkaido 001

We went and saw the lavender fields.

2012-07-03 2012-07-03 Hokkaido 010

2012-07-03 2012-07-03 Hokkaido 021

2012-07-03 2012-07-03 Hokkaido 026

In a failed attempt to find an onsen, squatty potties were tried as well as bathroom slippers.

2012-07-03 2012-07-03 Hokkaido 031

Those were just a few of the fun things we did for the week they visited Hokkaido. Tokyo coming soon! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


In an effort to help a friend do her NaNoWriMo, I agreed to be interviewed about my travels. To prepare, I did a quick preview of my blog over the last year to try to remember any random stories I had that I could share which would be helpful in the interview. Because of this, I realized I need to blog more, I really enjoyed all the memories it brought up.

Here is the book I'm trying to read in Japanese. My students recommended it from the school library.

So, over the next couple of weeks I'll be doing some catch up of blogging I had intended to do a few months ago. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

It's Election Day today! As our junior textbook says … "I wonder which will win? I wonder which will die?" Hmmm, maybe that's not so helpful for the election.

My Election Day is almost over, but in America, it's just beginning. Maybe when I get up they'll know who might win.

In other news, I read my first article about this year's election (besides candidate info for voting) today, in Japanese on a kids News site!

To end this slightly random election blog, here is my ballot, sent in a few weeks ago.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A fun weekend with friends!

The weekend started with an enkai with the PTA. The Japanese was a bit hard, but it was a lot of fun to get to hang out with the teachers and parents.

Then I headed to a friends’ house to hang out for the weekend. The weekend started with Karaoke. I had to snap this one quick because Lina usually hides from the camera.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 001

The boys’ side of the table looked clear on my camera’s screen, so here’s a tiny version.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 002

Ros and I.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 003

This karaoke included dessert.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 004

Singing in the karaoke booth, just singing in the karaoke booth. Jay!, Roland, Lina, Ros and I.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 005

After a few hours of singing, we headed out for dinner. When I heard okonomiyake, I voted strongly for it.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 009

The other side of the table. Roland, Jay!, and Ros.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 010

Lina and I.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 012

The sauces. Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ), Sweet sauce, Spicy, Mayo and another sauce.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 013

I got the mochi bacon okonomiyake. Here’s what came. Now it’s time to stir!

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 016

Lina’s heart style okonomiyake.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 017

Then we headed to the arcade for some purikura. We got a bit side tracked before we could get there though.

2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 020
2012-11-03 2012-11-03 Sunagawa 021

That night we stayed up till 4am playing hand and foot. It was a fun time of games and friends.

The next morning for lunch breakfast at about 2pm, we had enchiladas.

2012-11-04 untitled 027

After lunch we played more hand and foot, but I had to leave before we could finish a whole game. I did take second or third in the round we played though.