Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WIWW--Leg Coverings

Oh, hello!
Here I am to confirm my continued existence. This is turning into No Post November instead of the National Blog Frequently Month I had hoped for. 
Anyway, isn't it the pinnacle of boring for a post to elaborate on exactly how much blogging hasn't happened? 
On to the clothes, and to hoping (planning would be better than hoping, but me & Planning, we're not BFFs) for a different sort of week to come. 

On this day, I put on a thrifted dress and walked around in it for an hour or two as I was performing morning kid-herding (love my kids, but the AM rush truly holds similarities to trying to make a bunch of wooly mammals go to school). I decided it was a go. I sprinted to the front door, looked down to put my shoes on, and found the front of my dress covered with ???? It was probably water but I couldn't be sure. I was sure the large conspicuous  spots were on a level with kindergarten faces. There was nothing for it but changing to this randomness. Which actually was OK, considering the speed with which I assembled it. 
Saturday, for a mochi pounding event with Izumi's after school program. See below if you don't know what mochi pounding is. 
Sunday, for church and meeting up with friends visiting from Hawaii. I was foolish enough to go out like this, no additional coverings. And so I froze. Note to self, the days of bare legs are over for 2014, OK? 
A wiser me wears tights for school on Monday. But dumb me is still hangs around, preventing me from digging out my hats, so that my ears freeze when I'm on my bike. 
Lemons match orange, I know because it's citrus season. 
This outfit felt pretty pleasing, except I forgot to wear a neck covering to go with my lovely stripey "function of long johns but please pretend with me they are leggings". So, cold neck. Oh, and then there was the way the only other tulle skirt I saw all day was on one of my kindy students. Am I influencing their fashion, or is it the other way around? 
Discuss. Feeling some déjà vous like I've written this exact thing here before....
Bonn Nuit

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

WIWW--Japanese Fashion Questions

If you cut your padded trousers (pants) "skinny" and then wear
heels with them, does that make them fashionable?

"Warm Pants Style of Winter"

If your midsection tends to get cold in winter, is wearing the
bottom quarter of a button down shirt as an underlayer the best solution?

Not a skirt, yet not a belt. Clothing in identity crisis. 

If it was your "firsth" anniversary, would you celebrate like this?

Would you wear Converse with a skirt?

Would you let the tops of your feet peek out even though it's cold?

Is wearing a shirt with hundreds of shiny plastic discs
swinging from it a good move for a kindergarten teacher? 

Is this skirt too summery looking? Do I care (really, I'm asking myself)?

Does my neck look cold, because I forgot the scarf I was planning to wear?

Because I've never yet caught her in the act, I want
to know: when does she do this?

pleated poppy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Same Jellybeans as Harry Potter: a Photo Essay

My English conversation student did not know that we are very into Harry Potter right now. In fact, we are two-thirds of the way through the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
So God must care about details--thankfully, since I don't--because my student brought a bag of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans to class for me today anyway. She received them from her cousin, who recently visited Universal Studios Japan, where The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened this past summer. 
If you're not steeped in all things Potter at the moment, as we are, you may not know what these "beans" are. Let me introduce you, here's a quote from the source above: 
They are the same as Muggle jelly beans, except the range encompasses every flavour imaginable....There are ordinary flavours like chocolate, peppermint, and marmalade, but also less fanciable ones like spinach, liver, and tripe. There are also flavours that are not actual foods, like grass, farm dirt, vomit, earwax, paper and bogeys. 
Most of the Beans were not exactly delicious, but eating them was definitely an interesting experience! Surely making these is not the most useful application of modern science. Still, isn't it really amazing that someone out there knows how to combine chemicals to make a red jellybean called "Worm," and it somehow truly tastes like dirt and grass?
Have you ever tried these? What do you think? 
See below for our reactions!

from top left corner and going across: Snot, Banana, Worm,
Earwax, Green Apple, Marshmallow, Black Pepper, Barf, Rotten Egg, Soap

Blueberry, Sausage, Lemon Candy, Cinnamon, Cotton Candy,
Grass, Watermelon, Dirt, Sugar-Flavored Black Stuff (?), Cherry

Monday, November 10, 2014

What's Your Second Language?

My second language is Japanese. I would like to learn a third. I keep joking to the moms of the Korean kids in my class that I'll start studying Korean soon. 
Maybe I should stop joking and start studying..... look at this map of second languages around the world. 

Image courtesy of poringpang at

Which language would you like to learn? If you are even a little bit serious about learning another language, I recommend the blog Fluent in 3 Months

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Resolved: Don't Be So Serious

The other night we were at a friends' house, and as the adult-kid ratio was not in our favor, my friend had the clever idea to have the kids do a "show". And here you see some sample photos of the "shows". 

Did you see what that was about? The perfectly memorized lines, the choreography, the chemistry between the actors? Me, either. What I did see was, the kids had a great time! They didn't care (much) that their show was unrehearsed and imperfect. They enjoyed (mostly, full disclosure is, I think there were a couple of fights, but no one suffered actual bodily injury in the making of these shows) the process they had and the results they came up with. Now we will remember for quite awhile, "that time you guys did that show". 

So I want to learn to take it easy. Really, I'm already relatively good at that, but because I like to drive myself crazy*, hear me out, please. At some point on most days, I take my process too seriously. Of course I want and need to work hard and focus, of course I want to do my best. But often when I am trying to proceed to a result, I don't allow myself awareness, let alone enjoyment of the process. Because, I am trying to proceed to a result. Which I have decided to believe is more important than having fun getting there. 

And this is kind of killing me with my kids. Because I'm also a pro at "compound thinking," (bedtime is at 8 so we better eat at 6 and then I guess the kids can have screen time but it absolutely has to be done at 7, after all they need to take a shower and get ready for bed and get their bags ready for school.....etc) and my compounding is based on perfect math, that is, there is no room for error which means, no comedy either. 

I don't want to become all loosey-goosey, because really, I already struggle with that too. Speaking of struggling, I read about "struggles only ENFPs" will understand the other day and I can't stop thinking about it:
Though ENFPs loves being around people, they crave alone time much more than the average extrovert. ENFPs search for a deeper meaning in just about everything, and use their much-coveted alone time to decide how their experiences fit in with their system of core values. *To be frank, it’s an exhausting personality to have (asterisk inserted by me). 

Intentionally or not, today was better. If you were with the poster child for cotton candy, wouldn't your day be better, too? Seriously. 
PS. these words are unedited! I hope they make some sense, but if not, I'm sorry. Click on the link above and read about ENFP, at least. ENFP or no, do you struggle with any of these things? I'd like to know!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

WIWW, Black Bottomed Edition

Give me two things that are seemingly unrelated, and I will almost surely find a way to connect them. However, it won't take that much effort to see that this past week, I (subconsciously) decided to go with a Black Bottom. With the exception of the photo below, and the photo at the end of the post, every day I wore black or some close variation on the lower half of myself. 
I tell you this as if you mightn't notice (you mightn't) or as if I did it deliberately (I didn't). I tell you this because I do sometimes need to have a Theme, even if it is a decided after the fact theme. 
Please note that my internal voice currently has a British accent, thanks to recent hours spent with Koji binge-listening to Harry Potter on audio book. We're up to The Order of the Phoenix, if anyone wants to know. 
Further, I realize that it is Thursday. I am doing my best. 

Lovely slippers. 199 yen at Ikea, what could I do. No, I don't wear them outside. This was from yesterday, 

and jeans are not the norm for Wednesday, but we were granted a special casual day at work, so. The best bits of my outfits tend to be those that don't show clearly in these photos because they are around my neck and therefore hidden by my iPhone clutching hand. However, here I think you can see my scarf. I'm proud, I got it new with tags at our recent school bazaar. For a fraction of the original price, of course. 

Feeling regretful I didn't crop out the detritus visible to the right here. Oh, didn't notice till I mentioned it? Why do I open my big mouth?! Anyway, as mentioned above, the best bit of this outfit is again around my neck. This time it's a Nozomi Project necklace. Really happy to have this, I've prayed for and rooted for this project for some time now. If you've never heard of it: 
"Nozomi, which means 'hope' in Japanese, is a social enterprise bringing sustainable income, community, dignity and hope to the women in Ishinomaki, Japan and the surrounding region by training women to craft unique jewelry products." 
Finally, at the recent school bazaar, Nozomi Project representatives opened a booth and I was able to purchase this. I love it! Nozomi ships internationally, all the pieces are amazing, beautiful, and meaningful and would make great Christmas gifts! (Nozomi Project is not paying me to say this)


With school bazaar shirt and Premier Designs necklace. Full disclosure: my mom is a Premier Designs jeweler! But again, she is not paying me to say that PD is a great company with beautiful jewelry (thought it is). However, you can only get PD jewelry in the US, so if you are here in Japan then please buy Nozomi Project. Weird. I had no intention of talking about jewelry so much. 

Blurry photo for a day when I felt blurry. I woke up congested and sneezing but put my clothes on and went to Observation Day at the kids' school. However, I confess I ended up wishing I hadn't dressed this way. I had several people inform me "Halloween was yesterday" and even though I'm supposed to be an adult, after awhile I felt sort of annoyed. PS. Not that you can see it much but I made this shirt. With a sewing machine. 

Don't you appreciate this clear photo of my hand and my green arm? I know I do. 

And I know I will never be able to completely escape from sarcasm. Forgive me, please. 

This outfit also got me a lot of comments, I guess in a country where most of the population wear black and grey and sometimes brown or khaki most of the time, I was a little bit easy to see. Just trying to spiff up for parent-student-teacher conferences, you know? Do you think we should name our conferences PeST for short? I'm not saying that because I didn't enjoy them, it was wonderful to meet my students' parents. It's just that I do love a good acronym. 

Bonus photo! She did this when I wasn't looking!

pleated poppy

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Nostalgia for Chocolate

Lacking the vital ingredient, ENERGY (where have you gone, we used to be BFFs and now you are nowhere, energy, you traitor!), I decided to look in my drafts for something interesting to cough up at  pass on to you. Found this "historical" note, almost exactly four years old. Gives a brief description of my equally brief running life.... Also makes me wish most fervently that I brought the gray sweater with the rainbow on it that Erika and I bought together that day. Bad move*


Now here comes the "throwback" paragraph:
[composed 11/7/10: Here I am with Erika, Laura and Elizabeth at the Hot Chocolate 5K/15K.  Alas, we never saw L and E again after this because they are real runners and did the 15K.  Still, Erika and I had a fantastic time; we surprised ourselves by running most of the way.  We weren't as surprised that we thoroughly enjoyed the fondue and the chocolate.  Last but not least, a bit of shopping on State Street... Though it was so cold that I never once regretted wearing bike shorts and long johns under my track pants, I mean, trousers, I would do it again in a second!  But maybe with a smaller bag, I did NOT need that giant backpack!]

*Bedtime around here is almost always hideous and utterly lacking in peace and grace. Which causes me to leak the remaining grace I may have right out of my body and become a ogress. I don't actually enjoy the feeling but 98.5 of 100 nights, but I feel incapable of humanity (any moms tracking with me?!). Point is, the other night, desperate to retain a shred of composure when I wanted to lose it, I made up a song/rap that goes like this:

Bad move!
That was a mistake

You would appreciate this more if I performed it live BUT life performance is not on my agenda right now....


Sunday, November 02, 2014

What I Learned in October 2014, A List

*I can blog every day! I might not be able to be profound every day and my posts never go viral. But I CAN DO IT. And, though 31 Days October 2014 is over, I want to keep going. Next up, as November is conveniently designated NaPoBloMo (disgusting collapsed wanna be word that means "National Post to your Blog Month), the external pressure to do so is ON. Phew. Need that external pressure.  ps. not linking to NPBM stuff deliberately, I need to look at it more and see if I actually want to connect with it or just let it motivate me from afar.

*LOVE to read and my best love within loving to read is sci-fi/fantasy so I was thrilled and delighted and even further behind in my housework this month, thanks to the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness. Wow. The premise is a human settlement somewhere out in the galaxy-and the catch is that men's thoughts cannot be hidden and are broadcast to those around. This has all kinds of implications, and the "what if?" nature of it was what made it my very favorite kind of story. I couldn't read it fast enough, though the speed with which I went through it then gave me a backlash of grieving. If you think that grieving after you finish a book or a series is not a thing, google "grief felt after finishing a book" and click on a few of those links. The other problem with finishing an engrossing series is, where to go next?!

*I already knew this, but was reminded afresh that PAL System (Japanese link), my grocery delivery service, is a lifesaver. The items can be a little more expensive but in my new, nearly working full-time life, the ability to have our groceries dropped at our door (very carefully swaddled in many many styrofoam boxes and also DRY ICE) feels close to priceless.

this is the catalog full of the edible goods keeping us alive these days
*Speaking of groceries, sadly but truly and honestly, I confess in October I was reminded of this equation: too many groceries + almost no exercise (except rushing to work on my bike...but the distance is too short) + not enough sleep = well-rounded-in-a-bad-way me. Ugh. So discouraging.  I know what to do but making myself do it?!!  ARGH. In my defense, though there's mostly no defense for "ate all the chocolate in the house," Japan is just so carb-centric!! SO, SO, SO (get it?! do you speak Japanese?!  Haha~) Everything comes with rice. Which is delicious and seems to have no effect on the slim population, but can't say the same for this Caucasian digestive system. If it doesn't come with rice then it's noodles or bread or potatoes or sweet potatoes or cake or cookies and did I mention rice?! This dietary business is one of my primary big cultural shocks. Before we moved here, my life in the suburbs of Chicago meant hours in the car every day. But it also meant comparatively inexpensive food. Whether American food should even be that inexpensive is something to explore separately, the fact remains, maintaining the same kind of diet here as I did there has been mostly too difficult.

*Halloween is fun. When the kids were younger I sometimes wondered if it was appropriate to join in, as a Christian.  I came to agree with this, Halloween is for Christians, too. Don't misunderstand, wondering never caused us to miss a chance to dress up and get candy... 
Now, there's no point debating Halloween: we're here.  Halloween has become a big thing for adults, but the part I like is the opportunity to visit neighbors and show off kids in cute costumes, which hasn't caught on. So I'm actually a little in mourning, although I have to be thankful that we did get to do a wee bit of trick or treating and we didn't even have costumes, to speak of .... (if I must speak of them, Izumi and Misaki are "artists" and Koji is, um, a member of the Seattle Sounders?!) We were also invited to a really great Halloween party, see below~
Reminder to self; though Halloween here is not the same as Halloween in Skokie, it is a different kind of great. Thank God!

on our short trick or treating circuit, these kind friends not only welcomed us and
gave us candy but invited us in to play "carnival games"

almost all the friends we were privileged to spend time with at the Halloween party,
we are so blessed!

Now, I will abruptly end this post by saying, Good night! I hope to see you here in November~