Friday, November 29, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Blue Sky Day

This morning was choir practice.  I liked it because we sang together.  I didn't like it because our leader wasn't there and it was awkward.  I have the loudest voice, and I don't mind calling people to attention.  But what to say when I have attention if I don't actually know what we're doing? 
Went erranding after, right back to the wholesale market.  Bought the gigantic tin of tomatoes for only 550 yen and never mind about the BPA.  
Stopped in to a bakery for lunch.  Al fresco was in order but all the tables were full so I sat with two older ladies.  One of them told us she's 74, she's busy trying to clean up the second floor of her house so he daughter won't have to do it when she dies.  American me is becoming more used to--and even somewhat approving of--Japanese matter-of-fact ness about death.  In theory.  
Open school yard today at the kindergarten, spent the hour catching up with a couple of mom friends.  
Watched a movie with Aogu; seems like the older I get, the less suspense I can tolerate, even in an utterly predictable movie.  
Much to be thankful for today, just like every day.  God, forgive me for the many moments today when I forgot to receive Your gifts with open hands!  

Old Makes Me New

Went to Urawa to have dinner with old friends.  The relief of being with people already know is so relieving.  Like I didn't know I was holding my breath all day but turns out I was.  Feeling much more alive after breathing with them for a few hours.  God is so gracious!  He knows what we need, what an amazing and wonderful mystery.  

Guest Performance

Today I went to a Mommy & Me Toddler yoga class to be a guest English teacher. I was impressed that the facility prepared this huge, fancy schedule to show all the events planned for today on this floor!

It was funny to me that this large community space, mostly full of offices and formal meeting rooms, also contained this "Japanese Room".  We held our class here.  But for the lack of a restroom, people could actually live in there!  It's hard to see the lock well here, but it opens with a key that needs to be unscrewed for admittance to the room.  Interesting!  

This is the program I put together for the class.  Thank God, it was off the cuff but still somehow lasted exactly 30 minutes.  Phew!

Just when I thought today would be a great day to go back to low carb, my collaborator K-san invited me to lunch.  We had this sandwich set.  No, we didn't share one!  It was teeny enough, we each needed our own. 

The only sad thing about this coffee is they didn't offer free refills.  Otherwise, it was perfectly delicious! 
You may think I'm telling you all this to introduce you to a new way to eat lunch.  
Normally, that would've the case, but at the end of this meal, I failed to notice a huge hole cut out of the terrace to allow a big bush to grow.  
And so I miscalculated and fell right in.  

Power of Attorney

Oops, I just edited this photo to smithereens in an attempt to protect my brother-in-law's privacy.  
It was supposed to show the handwritten  document I created to give him power of attorney.  Don't worry, he's not going to start managing all of my affairs, though I do sometimes wish I had someone to do that.  
Apparently a couple of weeks ago I dropped my prepaid reloadable train card.  I didn't miss it till I received a call from the police station.  I was going to go over there and pick it up myself, really I was.  But it's not super close or convenient to get to *whine*.....
It is close to my brother-in-law's church, a fact which became useless when the police announced their hours.  M-F 9-5
Anyway, my brother in law kindly agreed to pick it up for me tomorrow.  
Thanks to this document and its all important power of attorney transfer to my BIL in this crucial retrieving of my train card.  This time tomorrow night it'll surely be safely with me!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Yesterday afternoon, it was my turn to be on patrol for my kids and others from their school who live in our area.  
The most worrisome part of their trek home is apparently the railroad crossing. "Apparently," because really, from the tiniest preschooler and on up, they are all taught strict obedience to the clanging and yellow bars that signal a train approaching.  I'm infinitely more likely to streak through the crossing after the clanging has started than any elementary school child I've seen.  My own kids take me to task when I pull the stunt mentioned above.  
Anyway, I was assigned to stand by the RR crossing for 15-20 minutes after school was out and ensure that no child would be delinquent.  Also, that no "suspicious persons" would try anything on the kids.  Not sure that the busy crossing immediately adjacent to the train station would be a likely place for their antics....
So I went out there and dutifully strapped on my "patrol" armbands.  Then I stood and waited.  Wait some more.  A couple kids went by and I said hello.  A couple moms went by and greeted me with a standard phrase (otsukare Sama deshita), which means something like, "thanks for working yourself to exhaustion".  Found that hugely ironic.  Said hi to a couple more kids, had a short chat with an American guy who drove up.  But mostly I was just bored.  
What else to do when one is bored than try to make that moment look exciting to your FB connections? (Note to said connections: I am not constantly lying to you with each post I put up but I confess to some exaggeration some of the time).
Grabbed my phone, snapped this photo, threw it out there.  
And now this is our most liked post ever--OK, second most, but it'd in the running for first.  Huh?!  Hardly worthy of the word VIRAL at that level, it's not as if my feed is open for public viewing.  Or maybe it is somehow; those privacy policies are skin & bones these days.  
So my point, if you can follow super extrapolated logic, is this: 
We never know what's coming!  We can guess and plan, and perhaps things go as we hope and predict some of the time.  Much more often they don't.  I've spent great portions of my life so far in a constant buffeted state because I wanted to think I knew what was coming.  Then, huge (figurative) slaps upside the head as I realized--again--that I'm not in control.  
So anyway, I really can't see what's ahead and I am so grateful that being in this moment and learning to thank God for whatever it contains is enough.  Amen. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fall is What the Leaves Do.....

and it wasn't until somewhat recently that it dawned on me, this is where our alternative name for Autumn comes from.  

Here's another sign of Autumn, courtesy of Sister in Law's mother.  A delicious sign!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Same Here and There

Lately my sister and I have noticed that often in the morning and the evening, our weather is similar.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day Off

Koji and I went to a different church today.  I enjoyed it so much!  If only it didn't meet at the exact same time as our other church....

I was reminded that the living water Jesus offers to the Samaritan woman in John 16 (?) stays living as we let it flow through us to others.  If we try to keep it, bottle it up, it'll be dead water and won't bless anyone.  

This is not the first time I've heard this--I learned it last year in Jill's Deuteronomy study.  But it was significant, somehow, that I was reminded of it today.  Amen. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013


He was all day and might even be right now, he's talking so much in his sleep.  I spent too much time making him chicken soup and not enough playing Duel Masters.  Never mind that I don't know how to play!

Orange Ball Hunt

Koji has joined a basketball team.  
Next step, he needed a basketball and shoes.  So we had a family outing this late afternoon.  The hunt for the goods wasn't much of one as we knew where to go.  
That left us with extra time for dinner.  In nutritional theory, I don't ever want us to go to Mickey D's.  But I'm weak, so when I saw a sign that said Playland it was all decided within a millisecond.  We had it all to ourselves and we thoroughly appreciated the heat in the place.  I'm not kidding, but with no central heat in our place, I haven't been that toasty in weeks.
On the way out, we saw this Christmas tree.  My sense of smell isn't great but I'm pretty sure it's real!  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Choki Choki

Japanese onomatopoeia is better than English onomatopoeia.  Choki Choki sounds much more like big haircuts for my girls than Snip Snip.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Two in a Row

Dear Misaki, 
You are four and a half and the second oldest girl in your nensho (1st year of preschool) class.  You love school and your friends--not as much as your sister and brother, but almost.  
Lately you and your friends make plans together for what to do after school.  You decide, let's go to the park, or, let's go play at so and so's house.  I don't know if you are that stubborn, that persuasive or that cute (all of the above) but we usually end up going with your plan, even if it's not quite what I had in mind.  
You're so smart!  You seem to figure out all kinds of things I don't remember Koji and Izumi knowing at your age (or maybe I just have a bad memory?!). You love to write in notebooks and your latest project is copying one of our children's' Bibles.  Writing is still pretty hard for you but you don't give up easily.  
You have a great sense of humor and you're super silly so you make us laugh every day.  
This is what I want you to know: Papa and I consider you, along with Koji and Izumi as our greatest treasure.  We feel the privilege of loving you and taking care of you even more when we think of your four brothers and sisters that are already with Jesus.  I make so many mistakes as your mama, and I am sorry for all of them, but I hope you understand--if not fully now, than at some point to come--that you are the Beloved of The Lord of the Universe.  
Love you, 

The Day that Came Before This One

Yesterday was Parents' Observation Day at Misaki's school.  This is the scene on her class.  There are only 11 kids so they really enjoy each other and their teacher.  

Yesterday I also had three classes to teach; I just added a new one last week and I guess I haven't built up stamina for my new schedule yet.  I know it because I had to go bed at 9:30 last night.  

Yesterday I went to bed at 9:30 and I couldn't find the strength to post so I let myself down on posting every day this month.  But I'm not going to give up!  

'Cause all that was yesterday.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sing, Sing a Sing

Sunday afternoon we were out to lunch with a friend.  We had our own little room in the restaurant, which is common here and one great thing about Japan.  Misaki crawled up in the window to watch the activity out in front of the station and I captured the moment.  

Tuesdays are usually for tennis but I had to skip today for chorus practice.  I am not particularly talented but I really love to sing.  I was surprised to hear that last year, the Chorus Club for moms barely existed. God is good to me, reviving it this year so I can be part of it.  Our performance is in less than four weeks....

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Can Do It Myself

Felt a little like a splurge, but really, buying Misaki a new backpack last night in advance of her first ever without Mama field trip was necessary.  'Cause whether I like it or not, she's big now and she can (has to?!) carry her own stuff.  
Sometimes I wish they didn't need me so much and other times I feel desperately sad that they seem to already not need me any more.  
God can handle these contradictions (He Himself seems to be one) infinitely better than me, though I see Him continually offering me new opportunities to be OK with things that aren't rational to me. 
So to that and to Him and for my growing up one blink of an eye kids I say
Thank You

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Was out tonight for a long overdue (for me) girls' night.  

Some people like solitude, massages, movies, exercise, music to relax and recharge.  

All I need is this.  Deeply grateful, ladies!

Saturday, November 09, 2013


The street from the train station to Ito's was closed this afternoon for the yearly city festival.  

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Flying By the Seat of My Pants

I've started teaching some English classes.  At the moment, I have four per week.  Three are kids and one is adult women.  With apologies to the mothers of my students, I prefer the latter class.  
Perhaps I'm just that desperate for anything resembling adult conversation?  Mostly, it's an opportunity for me to talk on the fly, and I do!  This isn't bragging, just a fact: I can link anything with anything.  
In my 50 minute class this morning, we talked about the following:  the phases of the moon. The color of a rabbit that's neither brown nor orange but something in between.  The advantages and disadvantages of owning and using a car in Tokyo.  The current popularity of pancakes.  The reasons it might not be great to make a habit of exclaiming of my god or even oh my gosh.  
I'm kind of loving this job.  Let me add my familiar refrain, though: I quite miss my private students in the U.S.! Running these same kind of lessons but in a one on one format was really great.  
Maybe I should be praying for connection with private students.  For now, thankful for this class! 

Wednesday, November 06, 2013


An altercation occurred between myself and the subject of this photo.  
Apparently forgiveness was granted to me, as I was subsequently invited to play Pokemon cards.  
Good news, I think he forgave me.  Other news, I hope he learns canasta...or just about any other card can hope!

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Wherever Door

This summer, we went to the Tokyo Tower to meet up with some of our friends from St. Matthew's Lutheran Preschool.  We didn't make it to the top of the tower; the highest we got on this day was the deck on the fourth floor, where the work of Fujiko Fujio was on exhibit.  

Koji wasn't thrilled with the day; now that he's 10 and in fourth grade, it's just not cool for him to be out with his sisters and their friends.  Doraemon offered some redemption though; Koji quite likes him and all his gadgets.  He's a cat robot from the future, sent back to make things better for the grandfather of his owner? purchaser.  He has a pocket that looks like a kangaroo's, and at will and whim he pulls out any sort of tool that may help the situation.  

According to Wikipedia, there are over 4,500 different kinds of tools that have been featured in Doraemon comics. The most memorable to me, probably because it seems most useful, is the "Wherever Door".  It's the same principle as the doors in Monsters, Inc. but instead of leading to a kid's room, the door you set up takes you wherever you want to go.  

I'm more thankful by the day to be here.  But I still wish I had one of those doors.  

Monday, November 04, 2013

Ebony and Ivory

God gave us this today.  In case my photo is too artistic, let me clarify that it's an electric piano.  
The girls are starting lessons with their Aunt A tomorrow.  They've already been instructed that during lessons they have to call her Sensei and be very serious.  
If things go well for them, perhaps Koji and I will join the lesson-taking crew.  
Little known fact: Aogu took piano lessons for five years.  So he's all good now; this time he's taking the generous benefactor position.  
We are all thrilled with this new addition to our family.  Or is it an addition to our furniture?  I guess the former option is more alive, so let's go with that.
PS Does the title of this post cause a certain song to play incessantly in your head?  I hope so.  I don't want to be alone. 

Persimmon Season

Human as I am, I love to imagine my future.  Then I love to get upset when my actual future fails to precisely match what I imagined.  
Ha!  Let me remember that the next time my kids are ruffled by changes in our plans.
Anyway, in my imaginary future life in Tokyo, one of my first acquisitions was an American sized oven.  Guess my imaginings utterly failed to adjust their scale down to Japanese standards: in other words, teeny.  
Another way to say the same thing: 65 square meter apartments (Japanese term  is mansion, how ironic) and American sized ovens aren't compatible.  
BUT God is so kind.  I was terribly sad and pathetic without an oven, so He gave me one--through a friend who had an extra.  Slow learner I am, though I received it I was still sad and pathetic and didn't/couldn't/wouldn't get around to learning how to use the oven.  
Until now!  It's two months later and it turns out, though I was telling myself otherwise, in fact the oven works. 
So in my fourth baking experiment in three days, I made persimmon bread.  
Dangerous stuff!  

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Seven, I'm Still Counting

It's clear from the titles and content of the posts I just found in Drafts that writing in this space is an important longing for me.  Eight years and more have passed since I started this blog, and I've neglected it more than not.  I can say without exaggerating that there would be a book or even books of material here if I had a found a way to capture all the posts I've composed in my head.  
Anyway, sorry to be so meta.  
Marking today the seven month anniversary of our move to Tokyo.  Life is starting to pick up speed.  A sign that what we're doing feels more like life is coming from death.  Death sounds dramatic, but that's how I feel about the loss of our former life.  Though we wanted to come here, still, leaving all God gave us in the (to my thinking) unlikely location of Skokie, Illinois was a death.  I've joked to new friends that I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the experience of jolting from there to here in the space of four weeks.  Perhaps I do or not but what's real is the mourning.  It's in the back of my heart and I've tried ignoring it and shoving it down and putting other things in front of it but the truth is I'm sad.  
I don't usually accept sadness as a permissible state for me.  It's one of those OK for you because you should feel your feelings, but not for me because being sad feels like hard work.  Even after losing my babies, every time was a fresh turning of sad soil but I was quick to tamp it down and try to move on.  
So sitting in sadness seems like, in my usual estimation of myself, "not really my thing," but this time I am trying.  What's changed?  Other than everything....

 "Our suffering, in my definition, is whenever we are not in control. It is our opposition to the moment, our inner resistance that says, “I don’t want it to be this way.” Since the ego is always trying to control reality, it is invariably suffering, irritated, or unhappy, because reality is never exactly what we want. Isn’t that true?" --Richard Rohr

The truth about life is this: it's a miracle that God has bestowed it on me and allows it to continue now and now and now and now.  I'm still here!  He's still giving me breath!  And His grace and generosity are so breath-taking, He has also given me parents, sister, husband, children, sustenance, shelter, friendship, salvation.  So.  I expect and accept some low-grade sadness in my inner being for some time to come, but, I also hope and anticipate that sadness will bring joy, just as that Death of my Former Life is bringing Life to Here and Now.  

Kids doing dishes.  This could be a source of joy, for sure!  Must UP my organization so I can actually have them do it (they can't wash when all the clean dishes from the time before are in their way....).  


It's that time of year again, the time when writers sit themselves down and try to crank out some material.  There's a fancy name for it and everything.  
I feel so far removed from the world where people write things--the only reason I know that world exists is from smashing my face up against the other side of the glass and looking in longingly--that I don't presume to label this effort as part of what they're all doing this month.  
Still, for my own sake, I need to name my effort something so I know it exists and so I'm motivated to keep it alive.  
And since I'm terribly clever with acronyms, I've decided to christen this here thingy PED, which of course means "Post Every Day".  See. I knew my wit would stun you.  
I almost embarked on this effort last month but I backed out because most everyone seemed to have their theme tied up in pretty packages with matching ribbon.  And if I'd had a package to bring, in addition to lacking a theme, it would have been wrapped in the Sunday comics (does such a thing even exist any more), tied with twine and too much tape yet somehow slipping out the side anyway.  
Which, now that I verbally process it here, would have and should have been fine.  If there's anything God has been showing me, and then teaching me again another way five minutes later when I forget, it's that the sort of appearance I think is most important is often the one least important for Him.  
So what do I plan to talk about for PED? Well, it would be more self promotional if I could give you an outline and a schedule, but I can't.  Self promotion is not my primary goal for now (but I reserve the right to change that stance).  

It's likely I'll be sifting through this whirlwind that has been life for the last seven months, since we moved to Tokyo from Skokie.  Yes, that sounds jarring.  Because it is.  Come back tomorrow and I'll start telling you why,