Friday, October 17, 2014

New International Relations

This afternoon there was a special program for the 5th graders at Koji's school, which includes Koji. 
The group that put on the event didn't have enough people from other countries, so they asked me to join. 
It was a flashback to those good old JET Programme days, where I became a complete expert at flashing pictures of myself, my parents, Oregon and my hobbies. 
Fortunately, there was much more on the docket than my blathering. The lady wearing a yellow dress in the above photo is second generation Japanese-Paraguayan. The dress she has on is crocheted by hand and took more than a year to make. In my ignorance of Paraguay, I assumed Spanish is the main language. I wasn't completely mistaken. According to Wikipedia, 
"The Republic of Paraguay is a mostly bilingual country, where both Spanish, an Indo-European language, and GuaranĂ­, an indigenous language of the Tupian family, have official status.[1]"
This lady counted to 10 in Guarani, and the sound of it was compelling. Compared to English and Japanese, it sounded so..... Foreign. 
Here's a list of the numbers 1-10 in Guarani:

I have more to say but I'll have to add it later, Friday night is overcoming me~~

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New (to me) Day for Memory of Loss

We still miss them. 
The one we hoped to welcome in April 2005. 
July 2005. 
May 2008. 
October 2011. 

Koji was our first baby and we had no incidents with him (other than unplanned C-section, which is its own source of grief).
Then, our first (lost) baby was 10 weeks old. Though we hadn't as much time to imagine life with her (I don't know, just choosing to think of this one as a girl), in some ways this was our most terrible loss. It opened up a dark box full of the knowledge-not just a suspicion but a definite knowing-that babies die, not every pregnancy comes to fruition. Utterly unwillingly, we joined the Miscarriage Club. Please don't think me crass. It's just, after this experience, I was astounded to find so many others who had also lost their baby, and I didn't feel quite so alone. 
Second baby was 16-17 weeks old. He was given to us so soon after his sister was taken, I hardly knew how to feel. I confess though I believe God, I sustained myself with logic: "we just lost one so this one will be fine, he has to be". Or not. 
Thank God, then we had Izumi. Fountain (of Life), how could we name her otherwise when we were so relieved she was Alive?
Our third baby was 20 weeks old. I've mentioned her here before. Her name is Ai, which means Love in Japanese. 
Then we were given Misaki, which means a Heart in Bloom. Her life seemed to signal a spring, the end of the winter we had been in since Ai. 
But then,  our fourth baby was 15 weeks old. He was "born" in Rome, so we'll always feel a connection deeper and stronger and sadder than might have been forged on a different 10th anniversary trip. Perhaps because the memory of him is stronger, perhaps because I so wanted a brother for Koji (though again, I don't actually know for sure he was), when I think of them all I now, I long for them but my heart longs for him particularly. 
Life is full of loss, and God brings life from all kinds of death over and over and over again, praise Him. But these, I cannot explain or leave, I just carry them with me and pray their memory will encourage me to treasure my living children more? 
I tend to be about fun (see ENFP and Enneagram Type 7) so I don't approach this place often, but I think it's important so I'm talking about it here. 
Have you lost a pregnancy or a baby? If you are willing, please tell me about your experience.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

WIWW (What I Wore Wednesday), Getting Chilly Edition

Right in the door from work, focus on those beautiful backpack straps!
This shirt is from Uniqlo and dress is from GU. I should probably branch out
from these two stores but my budget won't let me?!

Cheetah skirt and Japanese print shirt go together. Promise. 
Seing as it's mid-October, thought I'd bust out a sweater. Then I stepped outside
and realized the day would likely heat up, so tried to balance with sandals.
Go ahead and copy!

Today I was extra narcissistic (spelled that right on the first time, whoa)
and took three photos. Here's what I was actually wearing, but since this sleeveless
shirt and cardigan are both very thin knits, I had to.....

Add this jacket to try and keep warm. It helped somewhat but giving up
the peep-top socks probably would have done more?

Finally, because I'm in this for amusement more than elegance etc.
here I reveal my stunning rainy day look.
Wide load looking, but effective when one cannot (will not)
bicycle and hold an umbrella at the same time.

How is your week going? Any stories to tell, fashion-related or otherwise?
pleated poppy

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Potterheads

Since the beginning of September, Koji and I have read (and listened to audio tapes and by that, I mean cassette tapes, remember those?) through

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone 
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

After finishing each book, his (our) reward is renting and watching the corresponding movie. We watched HP and the Goblet of Fire yesterday. 

So naturally, today we read two chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This one will likely be a little tougher (on my throat) and take a little longer, since we don't have a good source for the audio version. Really wish we did! I might be just a little obsessed ...... Addicted..... ?!!

By the way, this is not my first time through HP..... Have you ever read this series?

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Shoes Soup

Every weekend the kids bring home their school shoes to be washed. 
For awhile, it was a Friday night activity, because otherwise the shoes wouldn't get dry in time for Monday morning. 
But 11 months ago at a city street festival, Izumi won this shoe dryer: 

Shoes dry in an hour or so, instead of over a whole day and half the night. 
However, time saving devices can be enabling for procrastinators. 
That's why you find me frantically scrubbing shoes at 10:53 pm.... 
On the end of a three day weekend, no less! 
As they say in Mexico, buenos noches, amigos!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New Restaurant

There's a TV show we like called  Cambrian Palace

It's an interview show and the interviewees are successful business people (mostly men, unfortunately). Recently they featured the founder and president of an inexpensive ramen and gyoza restaurant chain, Hidakaya.  I had been there before and wasn't that impressed. It seemed like typical, cheap, but at-least-by-the-station greasy fare. 

There we are, with a bunch of huge gyoza growing out of the side of my head. 

Anyway, I might be a sucker for marketing? The old guy president of Hidakaya was very compelling in his appearance on Cambrian Palace. Though he owns this multi-million yen restaurant chain, he rides the train everywhere rather than hiring a car. He also talked about his employees being his greatest asset. 

So when the girls suggested we go there today, I was OK with it! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Pencils

Just for kicks, perhaps also for a check, I proctored the SAT today. 

Photo of pencils, taken with iPhone 5C in my kitchen after I wasted 20 minutes googling
"free stock photo of pencils" and couldn't figure out how to load one for free
Stunning, isn't it?

Maybe it's just in my blood, proctoring. 
After all, Proctor, Oklahoma is named after my maternal grandma's family. For real. 
My first proctoring experience was last year shortly after we had arrived here. I was asked to proctor some AP tests. I tried it and found I quite enjoyed it, for several reasons: 
Initially, I confess I liked it for the free wifi access in the test room (when we didn't have any internet access at home, the horror!). 
Then, I liked it for the feeling of accomplishment the students emanated when tests were over. 

Also, I liked the structure built into the tests, 35 minutes for this section and 40 minutes for that, now you can take a 10 minute break but come back on time! etc. If you are a person who excels at creating structure for your life on your own, then you may be baffled right now. Try to understand all the shiny things luring me and my attention, all day every day, pulling me from my good intentions and utterly destroying any ability I may have to make a schedule and stick to it. Not for every minute every day, of course, but some amount of externally imposed structure is a wonderful gift for me. Following?

So, this time I was asked to proctor the SAT. I agreed very casually and so was in for a shock this morning when I walked in and felt a different sort of atmosphere. So serious. So monitored. Well, I don't actually want to say much about it, because it was so monitored I am probably not supposed to talk about it.....

The pencils were the thing! The instructions went on and on about please use a 2B pencil and if you don't then your mother might slip on a banana peel and crack her head open, I mean, you might get a big fat zero on this here test. 
Except. This is Japan, and some of the students seemed to have flown in from other Asian countries (!) for the test, in other words, we are not in the United States and 2B pencils are not a thing. So the poor students were so anxious, what if I have a pencil that says HB?! on it, OH NOOOOOOOO

Fortunately, what the SAT higher-ups are really trying to say, I think, is that they don't want students using mechanical pencils (conveniently called "sharp pencils" here, just to make things crystal clear). Also, the lovely lady who is a pro at giving these tests and drafted me for proctoring....without even KNOWING how it's in my blood, what?!.... is prepared for just these moments of alarm. She had assembled a mass quantity of impeccably sharpened 2B pencils, just for a moment like this. 

Palpable relief, people, I mean, PHEW. 
We passed around big handfuls of proper pencils and the crisis was averted. And forty some relieved students are resting peacefully tonight. I hope.