Wednesday, December 29

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Happy Holidays, ya'll.

The boys are off fulfilling a Christmas wish to see their friends in Nara and I am here with poor Colette who appears to have eaten something that disagreed with her. Enough said, right?


I am okay with the situation though because I am anxious to engage in お掃除.

This institutionalized yet private tradition of cleaning the house before New Year's is something we always strive for and I think this year, we might just make it. Our apartment is small so we have that on our side but we have large closets. With boxes left unpacked. And lots of random papers to be sorted. Needless to say, I should probably work on that instead of typing here. The peace and uncontested computer made me think this was a good opportunity to pop in here and say:***

よいお年をお迎えください (I wish you the best in the New Year).


In case I don't have the opportunity in the next few days, may you all have a fantastic transition away from the fierce strength of the tiger and towards the calm and peaceful nature of the rabbit.
Best wishes to you and yours.

P.S.
We might have a few unexpected announcements soon, though rest assured it is not another addition to the family. Unless you count hamsters. If so, then I'll introduce you to Angel and Pippi next time.


xoxo

***No such luck! It's the stomach flu. Triple yuck plus a barrier to our grand cleaning plans. But no worries, it will pass and the house will eventually be clean.
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 12

"I've been nominated for membership in the National Geographic Society"

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The boys are watching It's a Wonderful Life. We'll see how this goes. It always makes me both excited and nervous, sharing my favorite movies with them. It's ten minutes in and they are still sitting, mouths slightly agape. Maybe it's working. Just maybe.

"Buffalo girls won't you come out tonight..."

Friday, December 10

Market Day

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We went to Osu Kannon Flea Market a few weeks back. This is, sad to say, only our third visit to a Japanese flea market. Our first was to the famous one at Kyoto's Toji. Then we stumbled upon one next to the streetcar stop near our favorite hostel in Nagasaki. Though much more humble than the first one, it had charms that made us say, upon leaving, "we must make sure we stop back by before we go". And of course we didn't. The market at Osu Kannon was not full of glories. It was mainly full of junk, and had about all the charm of a neighborhood yard sale. The temple itself is really nice and I am glad the boys insisted on climbing the steps so they could toss their coins and pull the bell ringer.

I did come away with what I had sought. I found some cheap, ugly kimonos that I am going to cut up and make into creatures. And hopefully they will be interesting enough that others will want some because kimonos are made with a lot of fabric. Dozens of creatures can be born from the yards of silky material I elbowed for. It is part of a project that will be revealed here in the new year. You readers get the exclusive preview of (one of) my Grand Ideas. Notice the capitalization and be awed.

Now the beeping of the oven is telling me my scones are finished so I can pull them out and hit the hay. Good night dears.

xoxo

Thursday, December 9

Rocking and Rolling

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I am writing to you in the brief ten minutes I have before my next lesson (with a really polite gentleman in his mid-thirties who likes Cadillacs and playing the slots on his weekends.)

I am writing to you because I feel guilty that I bring my troubles here. Then I think: hey, my troubles are truthful parts of my life. Then I think: I should really balance those posts with some more realistic parts of my life. Like how I get to bicycle to work and back past the most gorgeous trees you have ever seen. How the gingko leaves glow yellow even in the inky darkness that descends at sunset. How the children run to meet me when I return home and then we snuggle in bed reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. How Sebastian is reading pages of it now. How pretty Colette is, how kind Nico is to her. How good cookies smell when they bake in my tiny microwave oven. So I feel I have done you, my dear readers, a disservice by being such a fair weather blogger. In payment for your patience, I promise to be here everyday for at least this next month. (We'll see how it goes from there.)

Okay, time to go help Mr. Cadillac with his grammar. Take care and stay warm (or cool depending on the hemisphere).

Much Love,
xoxo

Wednesday, December 8

Dilemma

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I have come to another graduate school crossroads. I have to take two additional classes that I did not anticipate. This means more money and more time that I just don't have. I will be finished in another semester but now am not sure if I can or want to. I worry that my family and I have invested in a money pit.

I am thinking of putting a little collection can on the sidebar, something like Pennies for a Poor, Pitiful Grad Student. Not because I think that it is a legitimate way to solve my money woes (being a highly educated poor person gives me this insight, at least). Being a grad student is also a sign of being an optimist. My hope is that some benevolent saint will be looking for a blog with scantily written random thoughts coupled with equally random photos mainly of the backs of people's heads, see my little collection jar and have some sort of epileptic fit and accidentally hit the "donate lots of money" button. Stranger things have happened.

We are also posting some recommended reading books in the Amazon list on the side. If you click on it and buy a book, then a bit of the proceeds go to us.

It seems that we are turning into a little charity operation here. I hope you know that I am writing this with a bit of tongue in cheek. Just a bit.

Sunday, December 5

Settling In

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The cooler days have come and now I am feeling the opposite of homesick for our old place. Winter reminds me that last winter, I was busy visualizing a snug, sunny apartment that would be warmer inside than out.
And here we are.

Hello Winter.

Tuesday, November 30

Tuesday, Tuesday

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For me, Tuesday is the new Monday. With my shifted weekend, Tuesday has become the day I don't like to dawn. It is a rough day for me, with the morning spent in the nest of my family, all warm and downy, only to have to fly on my bicycle to work. I'm not trying to disregard the value of the school or my students but it is definitely a jarring jump from what I consider to be my true self over to my teacher self. It's like trying to jump from a river raft to a moving freight train.

The better the weekend the harder it is to start the workweek.
And we had a very good weekend.

First, I skint my knee badly preventing Nico from interrupting a very traditional Shinto wedding at Atsuta Shine on Sunday. He wanted to sit with the wedding party and dove under the red rope protecting them. I almost didn't catch him. The relief in doing so made up for the new hole in my jeans.

Then on Monday evening, I took Sebastian to the mall for a date. We drank green tea lattes, played video games, and read comic books at the bookstore. He's still having issues with me working late so I'm trying to carve a pocket of special one-on-one time for him in our still-too-tight schedule. He actually skipped instead of walking the whole date, he was so overjoyed.

I suppose the good thing about starting another work week is that it gives me another weekend to look forward to.

And who wouldn't want to, considering the company I keep?
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Saturday, November 27

AkiJikan 秋時間 Autumn Time

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So, first, happy belated Thanksgiving.
We celebrated it last Sunday so in fact we were ahead but then we got swept up in the week and now we are on the other side, waiting for a pizza to be delivered so we can watch funny tv and draw pictures of the kitchen flowers, while flipping through the tao te ching and a new macrobiotic cookbook.

Second, we've been asked about holiday gifts. I'll let you know what Santa is planning here:
ukeleles
harmonicas
a family-sized keyboard
art supplies for all
a mama-bike

I think the boys would love:
dress-up clothes
Captain Underpants type books
science related books
lego kits
puzzles (100 pieces or so)
iTunes gift cards

Our gift to ourselves in the New Year is to go macrobiotic. This means after the first we would appreciate all care packages to be food free. We appreciate your understanding and support as we change our diet.


How about you? What would you like this holiday? Leave me a comment and I'll make sure to send you something, to thank you for your loyal readership.

This year, I am grateful for all of it. This, that, these, and those. Here, there, everywhere.

xoxo

Thursday, September 30

Sitting Through It

rest.


"Oh my wandering days are over, kick my boots off and retire from the disco floor..."
-Belle and Sebastian

Thanks for all the support and kind birthday wishes. We spent the last week exploring the area and were able to find Mei-chan's house (from the classic Tonari no Totoro), a decent art supply store, a used English book store (where I scored a collection of Roald Dahl's short stories), a place that sells Jason's drawing pens, and the correct train to take us to Kyoto.

The trip to Kyoto was my early birthday present, a week early, in fact. We spent a gorgeous day outside by the river, picnicing and playing. And remembering how much we love Kyoto.
(Though we did ride through Shiga on the way and it was very nice indeed.)

But for the time being we are here, living and breathing Nagoya air. And we do like it here, don't get us wrong. (We like America too, Mom...)

But Kyoto.... oh, Kyoto.


Okay, time to return to my studies. I hope all of you are zipping along fantastically during these cooler Autumn days.

P.S.
Happy Birthday Dad + Mom!

Wednesday, September 22

Getting All Maudlin on Ya

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We are going to make a better effort. Thanks for the comments on the last post. We do appreciate them. Our good and wise friend Rhett told us once that there is a two year rule in moving. And of course, we never reach that time instead uproot ourselves at the very moment connections are starting to be made, a home starting to grow.

I will stand by my guns on the Nagoya front. Yet until I find that country kindergarten position in the hills of Kyoto or Shiga, we will do our best where we are because as long as we are together, we are home.

Thursday, September 16

The Woes of this Roaming Life


We suffer from the wretched "grass is always greener" syndrome. It's intensive and progressive and the only cure is learning to accept your place as it is, actively seeking out the good to balance the disappointments, learning lessons from those disappointments.

We've learned that we are not city people.

It's good to know.

And now that the season is shifting into autumn, the lows of homesickness have spread between us. In many ways we miss Gotou. Our reasons for moving to Nagoya have grown faint. Unanticipated problems have cropped up. I work too many hours for too long into the night. I always miss dinner and bedtime. The only time I see Sebastian during the week is in the morning before pushing him out the door for school.
Not exactly the most peaceful time.

We miss the sea. We miss vegetables and people who just accepted us for who we are. We can tolerate the stares more in the countryside but in the city, it is disheartening. On Gotou, people welcomed us warmly. Here we have only made a few acquaintances.

I miss working in a kindergarten. I miss knowing the kids really well and working with people who really understood children and respected their development.

I know we have only been here since April, but it is really hard to adjust to this new life. And we are not sure just how much we want to adjust to it. We are now beginning to realize all that we left behind.

Monday, September 13

And here's September

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How is it that we are already at mid-September?

I won't bother with my usual excuses because it will bore you and the horror of typing all of our busyness makes me light-headed.

I will hopefully be here more often now that I got myself a small, flat computer to be used for grad studies, work, and writing.

The rain is coming down in torrents and bringing with it the end of the two and a half month heat wave. Thank goodness. Though we may still enjoy our balcony pool for about another month.

Hope you are wonderful.
Take care.

Saturday, August 21

August Waning

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Isn't this just summer? Bare feet dangling, drips of ice cream running down hands and jumping off elbows.

We have been absolutely absent from this space and now that summer is rounding the bend, it is time to get things in order again. School (which is x5 for us) starts again in a week and a half. We have survived the summer though and are now at the end of a terrible heat wave that still has us pressing our forefingers into our skin as if it were soft wax, checking our melting points.
The answer to the "should we buy an a/c?" is yes. Lesson learned the hot and sweaty way.

The kids are good, Sebastian is almost finished with his summer holiday homework. Nico is obsessed with Super Mario and both boys are really into Calvin and Hobbes.
Colette is standing and taking micro-steps. And growing more teeth. And clapping. A successful baby she is.

Hope you are all having a good summer.
xoxo

Friday, August 13

33

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today is this guy's birthday. i first celebrated his birthday 10 years ago by dancing all night.
today will include sparkly decorations, a trip to this place, and a yuzu cheesecake. a little more subdued perhaps but fitting considering his age.
happy birthday, jason.

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Friday, July 9

Hello Summer.

We started summer off with a whirlwind week of hosting my mother and sister, our first family members to visit Japan. We did what we could to impress them with the beauty of Japan and you can see more of our efforts on flickr (that little picture frame to the right). It was good for us to be able to consider Japan through "outsiders'" eyes and gave us the opportunity to explore Nagoya more. It also gave us a good excuse to visit Nara and Kyoto.



The rainy season has been rather mild but the ajisai were as gorgeous as ever.



Nico fully embraced the mascot of the 1300th anniversary of Nara. The rest of us weren't so keen on the Buddha/Shika-san.



Here are our visitors adapting to the Japanese heat under their parasols as they strolled through the zoo on their last day in Nagoya.



And look at her, will you, getting a good view of Nagoya. She's been up for a while now, I just forgot to report it.



So how's it going with you? Happy summer to all of you out there.

Sunday, June 27

Another Anniversary



Today marks the conclusion of our second year back in Japan. So much has changed since we landed two years ago. We would have never imagined life would be as it is now.




That just shows how feeble the imagination can be. Here's to another grand year in our adopted homeland. May the days that follow exceed our wildest expectations.



I realize I have not been the most faithful blogger since the move. I know, just when things are getting more interesting around here, all you get is the same old posts for weeks and weeks. What can I say? The elements that have cranked up the level of interest have also blasted the amount of busy in our lives. Some things get shoved off the plate. I'm looking for a bigger plate and until then, please bear with us.

Thursday, June 10

such care


to all of you who take such good care of us, thank you. we are eternally grateful.

Sunday, May 30

A Peace Offering

So, I got this email the other day plastered with tickets for a grand guilt trip from Mama Mia. It said something like "I bet she'll be crawling and sitting the next time we see Colette". Um, yeah. Actually, you're right so I guess it's time to climb aboard the express to Guiltville because not only is she crawling and reclining (an early form of sitting) she's also pulling herself up. Why are my babies so quick? Let me rephrase that to Why do I always scoff at baby-proofing the house? Anyway, here are some videos made just for you long suffering readers out there. Enjoy the babyness that is The Colette.


Monday, April 19

oh so quiet




it's not that i have nothing to say. it's just that i have too much to say and i don't want to be an icelandic volcano and spew ashy thoughts everywhere.
so instead, i'll remain silent for a while. but in exchange, i'll try and post pictures more regularly here. deal?

Sunday, April 11

Catching up


(The PTA poster from Sebastian's school. It reads: "Everyone, protect Cedar Village's children".)

Two weeks into our life in Nagoya and everything is starting to get smoothed out. There are five of us so let me do a quick person by person update (going in order from tallest to shortest):

-Jason: He's wearing a tie twice a week now, riding the wobbly bike to and from the high school. On the other days he's juggling monkeys at home.

-Tiffany(aka me): I'm working full time again and really enjoying my work. I have a lot to do between work, school, and home so I am looking forward to May when my classes finish.

-Sebastian: He entered school and is loving it so far. We'll post pictures soon.

-Nico: He's slowly trading diapers for the toilet. And we will be on the lookout for a kindergarten for him since he really wants to go to school like Sebastian.

-Colette: She's getting in crawl position now and has two (2!) bottom teeth. On the downside, she's still not keen on the bottle but she's getting more used to it.

All in all, we're still excited and a little exhausted but starting to feel more comfortable here. I do think an urban life suits us better though we are still a little sad to have left Gotou. Here we see glimpses of friends or students from Gotou in strangers and have that flash of realization that we won't see the original versions for a very long time (if, sad to say, ever).
On the other hand, we aren't too terrible about keeping friends. Jason's heading to Nara next Sunday to visit some of his old friends that he's kept in touch with. So there is hope.

Anyway, I'm still working on folding the clothes that busted out of the suitcase a week ago. Not made easier by the whole almost crawling, teething Colette who likes to chomp her gooey gums on clean laundry.

Hope you are all well. Take care.

xoxo

Saturday, April 3

Dusk

I walked a bit of the way home in the growing twilight. I have not adequately digested the transition yet so I will give you images instead of words for a while.

I will say this: I like Nagoya.




Wednesday, March 31

hi there

has it really only been a week since we left? we've been crazy busy with all the typical details of moving house. overwhelming as it is, we are gradually becoming aware of a sparkling glimmer. at first it flits around then you remember its name: excitement. we live here. here. in a pretty little apartment in a huge city. i have a lot to share once it is distilled but my brain sneaked out after i overloaded it with the daunting task of handling immigration procedures with three loud kids following it up with a heaping spoonful of hectic that is commuters at the main train station. so in lieu of sensible writings, let me share something that will always make my eyes dewy, our send-off from the island:

take care. xoxo

Tuesday, March 23

Saying Goodbye to All This




the time to say good bye to gotou is upon us.

this will be our last post from the island.

we are a little melancholy but we cannot think about it now. i only wish we were fluent enough to tell those we are leaving how much we appreciated their kindness, their generosity. we didn't know what to expect when we came but we leave knowing what a gorgeous place gotou is not only because of the beautiful and bountiful nature that meets you in every direction. the island's beauty comes from the warm hearts of the residents, which can make you feel sun-kissed on even the darkest days.

there is not much we can say but どうもありがとうございました。
and instead of さようなら let's just say またね。
we promise, we'll come back to visit. until then, おげんきで!