Friday, April 04, 2014

One Year a Tokyoite

We have seen God's goodness and it is this: He has sustained us through the turmoil, tears, lows and also amazing beauty of our first year in Tokyo. 
May we know Him, love Him and serve Him even more in our second year. 

Four on Four Four

April (Four) Fourth

Baby's last day to be four

Sleeping in big brother's bed as his pre-birthday gift to her

She is a wonderful, amazing gift to us!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Last Day of First Grade

There's a time stamp on this post somewhere, but for posterity:

It's Monday, March 24, 2014, 8:02 am and Izumi is off to her last day of first grade. I'm feeling all those motherly emotions-- "where did the time go?" "what happened to my baby?" etc. 

A year ago today, we were frantically packing our house in Skokie, IL for our impending move here.  Seems like yesterday and a hundred years ago.  

Koji isn't attending his last day of fourth grade. He's at a soccer camp in Okutama. I had no trouble allowing him to miss school today.  Is it really school when the kids get ready, march over there, have a ceremony that indicates school is over for this year, and then come right back home?  I'm trying to get over being offended by this schedule, but looks like I'm not over it yet.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Where I've Been with Bonus Trampoline GIF

Lent--that period of 40 days during which believers in Christ prepare their hearts for His death and resurrection--began two weeks ago. I didn't grow up observing Lent but over the last several years, I was drawn in to the practice by services at the Evanston Vineyard. This year, I'm far from Evanston.  And I recognize my increasing need to engage my heart with Jesus and His sacrifice. The Sacrafice.

So of course I gave up Facebook.

And as I expected, that has given me an amazing, embarrassing quantity of time to do something else.  However, since I didn't resolve to detach my phone from my hand, I've instead been reading blogs.  Yes, I always read blogs, but in the past two weeks I've been devouring them. They've all been swallowed and my Feedly is almost empty (it was last night.  just went to look at it and there are 54 posts there.  oops. now I have to resist doing that instead of this).

This is what I've learned: other people are writing great things. If I ever want to be one of them, I need to actually write! So here's a story about doings around here yesterday.

Koji loves his Nintendo 3DS. The day before yesterday, he started talking about earning money to buy a new game.  In the past, we've tried allowing him boost to his allowance (which is 1000 yen--around $10--per month) by doing extra chores.  But results have been mixed.  Mostly he chooses things I think he should do for free as part of the family, and then does them hastily and poorly.  And then, because I agreed in advance to do so, I have to pay him.  Not a recipe for happiness and satisfaction.

So this time, I proposed that he work for an hourly wage of 400 yen per hour. He was initially horrified at the thought of working for a whole hour. I helpfully pointed out that he's 10 years old, and adults twice his age and beyond make only a little more than twice that at part time jobs in the area (for example, the nearby grocery store, Yamazaki has posted Help Wanted signs offering 850/hour). A night of sleeping on that logic, and perhaps a miracle from God later, and he was sold.

Yesterday morning he cleaned the floor and took out the trash--20 minutes.  After school, he rushed home, did his homework, and started working.

My son did housework for two hours and 10 minutes. 

He washed dishes.  He folded laundry.  He cleaned the shower/bath (that took awhile.....).  He cleaned the windows and the mirrors.  He chopped carrots.  And so on.  He could have done more, but I was so flabbergasted, I couldn't think of the next job quickly enough!

Did I mention that he did all of the above with an excellent attitude for the duration?!  Truly, all things are possible.

And now, on to the things I've enjoyed online lately:

This quote:
“If only we’d stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time.” ~ Edith Wharton

Brief Moments When I Did Not Hate the Bible is a brilliant post that I wish I had written, especially this part: 
"This is what “supposed to” looks like:
  • Get up before dawn.
  • Cue cheerfulness.
  • Flip open a Bible, a notebook, various commentaries, an alternate translation or two and some kind of reading plan.
  • Read, absorbed, for 15-30 minutes. Heck, make it an hour.
  • The children do not wake up.
  • Be touched, in some way, by what you read. “Begats” are no excuse. Be convicted, but not alienated. Be uplifted without being comfortable, meditative yet studious, etc.
  • No grumbling stomach: you’re happy to put off breakfast.
  • At the end, sit still for a moment. Listen to God. Hear him clearly.
  • Only then should your feet touch the floor, the children wake, and your stomach remind you of your need for food and caffeine.
Please tell me what you think about How to Order A Croissant.
Finally, this post on time expresses a fear I have: people don't engage with me because they think I'm too busy.  I may be too busy?  I admit that I struggle with time management.... but I think I Have All the Time I Need.  

Monday, March 03, 2014

Japanese Groundhog Day

Setsubun (this should be a Wikipedia link or something but to my knowledge, Blogger doesn't let one do that via iPhone) is not really much like Groundhog Day, except as it falls at the more-theoretical-than-actual change of seasons.  
For example, I don't remember people wearing devil masks, throwing beans and shouting, "Out with devils and in with good luck!" on Groundhog Day.
And I believe in this Japanese ritual just as much as I believe in the groundhog's ability to forecast the coming of spring.  That is, not at all!
But the kids really enjoyed throwing beans at one another.  Gently, of course.  

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Home Healthy

Tokyo is apparently in the middle of an influenza outbreak.  So my "big kids"--I just used that phrase to describe my older two for the first time today, and was shocked at how apropos it is, except, when exactly did they get so big?!!--are perfectly healthy but out of school for most of this week.  Enough children were absent Monday from their respective classes that the teachers ruled three days of rest as a better option.  Exactly whom will be "RESTING" is an entirely different discussion.....

Once littlest got home from school, she and her sister were right to the tedious and exacting work of creating these puppets.  That's right, they carefully cut these little paper figures off a calendar from two or three years ago--supplied by their grandmother, of course.  Next step, find all the disposable chopsticks in the house and cut them in half.  Finally, laboriously tape each teeny piece of paper to aforementioned stick.  I'm sorry, I sound like I don't appreciate this project.  I DO!  Because they didn't ask me to help.... 

However, I was privileged to attend the show.  I was called to task for looking at my phone while it was going on--for shame!--so I tried to cover my sin by grabbing these photos.  

My sweet little ladies, so earnest and yet silly in everything they do.  I am not completely sorry that I looked my phone during the show.  After all, I was trying to stay awake.....

ONLY because the puppeteers are irresistible, well, I might be up for an encore.  Of the show.  Not the three days off school thing....two more to go....I am SO in favor of homeschool....for other people.  Good night!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Remembering Now

Sunday evening is TV time.  
At 6 pm, Chibi Maruko Chan (CMC) is on.  She's pictured above, on our ultra-modern-TV-with-VCR-attached. If I have dinner ready in time, then I sit and watch with the kids. Watching TV isn't usually a top priority for me.  
But tonight as we were sitting, I was allowed to see the moment from a bird's eye view.  I saw that this simple, almost silly routine we have of laying everything aside so we can laugh together at CMC's antics is special.  We won't have it forever.  Someday we'll say, "remember when we used to do that?"
So I took this photo, for someday.  I'm showing it and telling you in case I need help to remember some day.  

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Hustling Away From Cake

Yesterday I was invited to a friend's house for lunch.  She wrapped it up with coffee and cake, a combination I find particularly irresistible.  
However, for the sake of my expanding waistline and the stress that brings--ironic, the reverse is also true--I've committed to give up grains (though I may occasionally allow white rice) and sugar for the month of February.  
This is by no means the first "lifestyle change" I've attempted.  If I want to be honest with myself, it likely won't be my last.  
I'm at the end of my first day.  Today went well as far as my parameters and not well as far as my mood.  But, thank God, I made it through one day.  Only 27 to go!