Saturday, March 23

Early Hanami

Encouraged by the sunshine and clear skies, we set out on the first official day of Spring break to have a little early hanami (flower gazing) picnic. Under the partially pink sakura trees, we spread our plastic sheets and feasted on inari sushi and norimaki sushi. It was still a little chilly and the cherry blossoms were only about 30% open, but it was a good start to the vacation. And afterward why, we played of course.

First hanami picnic 2013

Happy Spring, ya'll.

First hanami picnic 2013

Thursday, March 21

Kakuozan Nittaiji Kobasan (Temple Market)

visit to kakuozan nittaiji temple market

Today we ventured out in the surprisingly brisk March cold to the monthly temple market at Kakuozan here in Nagoya.

visit to kakuozan nittaiji temple market
visit to kakuozan nittaiji temple market

We were hoping it was more like a junky flea market but instead we found lots of fresh food and flowers and gardening plants and tools. Lovely to look at but not the weird cheap stuff Jason was after.
The story behind the temple is really interesting (read about it here) and the neighborhood is rather hip and full of enviable shops (wholegrain bread shop next to a Buddhist alter shop next to a chocolatier! next to a grave stone cutter next to a breakfast diner). One of the shops we visited was this fantastic European and natural toy shop called Yuubo. Such a sweet place where the kids (minus Sebastian who was still at school) played happily for about 30 minutes.

And despite the freezing temperatures and gale winds, Spring is coming. The cherry trees guarantee it...

visit to kakuozan nittaiji temple market

Tuesday, March 19

The Graduate

Nicolai's Graduation from Youchien

With much ado and fanfare, this boy graduated from kindergarten last week. Two years vanished in a poof and now here we are with a genki, semi-literate, functionally bilingual Nicolai. Japanese kindergarten is not for the faint of heart. In which I mean lazy. It is a full-time job keeping up with all the events and activities that go on in a regular school year and before you know it, your kid is bowing to his sensei and singing sayonara to kindergarten. Literally...

We were lucky to be able to send both of the boys to private kindergartens, both valuing that critical stage of childhood by creating an environment that encouraged creativity, cooperation, and social awareness. Academic prowess is not central in the Japanese kindergarten; it is more about cultivating experiences that the child can carry with them through life. Sebastian's kindergarten followed a Piaget approach, granting the children lots of freedom and space for discovery. Nico's kindergarten was a Buddhist school so regular lessons in manners, sensitivity, and compassion were taught in the week.

Nicolai's Graduation from Youchien
Nicolai's Graduation from Youchien

All in all, it has been a very wonderful experience for our family and I know Nicolai is ready to start school in April. We'll have a year off from kindergarten until Colette starts (we like them to have 4 years at home in English) which will be a good chance to catch up on other aspects of our life.
Then we'll be ready to start round three.

It will be hard at first to get used to this guy being a first grader.

Nicolai's Graduation from Youchien

Wednesday, March 13

Year of the Snake

year of the snake

I am experiencing a drought of words.

Or, perhaps, it is not for lack of words to string together.
Perhaps it is just that I have yet to successfully saddle and mount time. There is a bridle in place but my hands are caught and twisted in the reins. I'm being dragged around by a beastly stallion and I don't even have the sense to complain.
Is it a poor excuse? Perhaps.

It has almost been one year since I left teaching full-time. I never knew before how very short a year could be.

It has been two years since the disaster in Northern Japan. Two years since a tsunami washed away thousands of lives and my misconceptions of what I wanted in life.

I haven't been writing here because I have been busy elsewhere but without any tangible results to share. I know that this space is more of a process bulletin board but for my own idea of this online record of events, I would like to try and reach my own bizarre standards. Unfortunately, this means that I try to write here when the computer is free (unusual) and when my mind is clear (unlikely). Essentially impossible conditions in a small apartment crowded with littles.

The first post after an extended break is always the hardest. What do I tell and how much of it should I share?

Maybe if I break it into bite-sized bullet points then it will be simpler:

-Nico is graduating from kindergarten on Friday.
-Nico is starting elementary school in April.
-Sebastian will be a fourth grader.
-From April, I will teach part-time, Jason will teach part-time.
-I started a resin jewelry Etsy shop.
-We don't know how everything will work out.
-We don't know where we will end up. Everywhere is lovely and awful. We can no longer search outside of ourselves for utopia.
- I've been obsessed with this idea of Huxley's: "Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.”
-I cried watching this movie.
-Luca is a full-fledged walker who loves rice and vegetables. He also weighs almost 29 pounds.
-I am not reaching my writing quota. Getting the shop running has taken over all spare minutes. And there were not so many to begin with so I had to make some up. Like the minutes that fall after midnight.
-Jason bought a suit today and was highly disgruntled about it.
-The cherry blossoms will bloom soon. Again.

So, maybe that is good for now. I'll do my best to post at least twice a week from here on. For my own crazy standards, not for you, patient reader. I know that if you are reading this now, you're ready to wait me out.