Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monday morning

Wow - that whole weekend got away from me! We are developing quite a social life and it's tons of fun!
On Friday afternoon I took Taran into Date for physio and wound up taking Hiro too as she was pretty sick and the school nurse wanted her to get checked out. They were both fine so we headed home in the pouring rain. After dinner Ian and Joisan and I headed for the volleyball tournament where I had to play a few extra games - just to confirm that we were indeed the worst team out there! Ian didn't end up having to play so he and Joisan headed over to Ato-san's mother's restaurant which was having it's grand opening that night. So that was Ian's second night of drinking with Ato-san (they went out after volleyball on Thursday too). There was a ton of food and good company so by the time Hiro and I got there they were both enjoying themselves. Ato-san's daughter Misuzu was there. She is in Joisan's class and he really wants them to become best buddies so he and Ian had cooked up some plans for a Saturday night dinner party and sleepover.
On Saturday we got up and headed toward Chitose (where the airport is) to go to the movies. We took the same road we came in on the night we arrived but this time we could see the incredible scenery. It is absolutely gorgeous here. There is a huge lake that we passed and it is surrounded by majestic mountains. I think it is mostly national park land but it still seems odd that there is no sign of human life at all. I just know at home that there would be countless houses and access for people to get at the lake. It was snowing a bit on our way to the movies but we had no difficulties getting there. We met Joisan's friend, Akari and her family and then went in and bought the tickets. We had a bit of time to kill so we popped into the 'mall' next door and played some arcade/prize games with Akari's family before they went off to shop and we went into the theatre. We had been a bit concerned about being able to get in without buying advance tickets (it being opening day here) but as it turned out it was not an issue. The five of us represented more than one third of the total number of people in the theatre! Joisan loved New Moon and I'm sure she'll get into all of that in her blog entry this week. Afterwards we did a quick shop before braving the snow that had accumulated to head home. We were expecting a number of people at our house for dinner and felt a bit of a push to get home and get ready.
Ian didn't feel like he had a clear picture of the dinner expectations from Ato-san the night before so he made a mountain of curry rice and a bunch of Gyoza's for the unknown number of people that were coming. When they all eventually showed up Ato-san brought with him at least $150 worth of sushi and a bunch of other stuff besides! Then Akari's family showed up with a bunch of food and drinks too! There was mountains to eat and we'll be having curry rice for at least a week!
The girls played card games and DSi games and ate junk food and generally had a good time. It was supposed to be just the Jr. High School girls but Akari's two little sisters were there too and really wanted to stay so I said they could. It's kind of neat here that the kids (at least at the Jr. High) are still really young. There's no pressure to grow up and be into things like makeup and boys so it's still okay to hang out with the little sisters too. I'm sure Joisan will give more details about her part of the gathering but ours finally ended when the adults left at 12:30am. The men were pretty drunk and Akari's dad was totally embarassing her trying to high five with Joisan all the time. It was a good wake-up for Joisan that other kids get embarassed by their parents too!
Yesterday was all about cleaning up. We did a good clean of the party stuff and the girls left about noon. Then Ian and I spent the majority of the afternoon trying to cleanup and organize the resources in the hall next door. I am really surprised by how disorganized it is. I hope to get it all cleared out and a good filing system in place before I leave here. We had (you guessed it!) curry rice for dinner and then cleaned up and headed to bed. The big deal this week is that I have the ALT conference in Sapporo on Thursday and Friday. Rianna (the Date ALT) is coming up on Wednesday night and Ian is going to take us to Sapporo on Thursday morning. We will come back to Date on the train on Friday. It should be fun!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Joisan's update

Friday night we went to a "soup party" and it went quite late. Taran and I were pretty bored the whole time (except when we were eating ‘Bali chocolate’ (which was Fererro Rocher). Saturday my mom and dad woke up early to go to the kindergarten performance thing, while I slept in! My mom was planning to go to Costco with Hiro, but the weather didn’t permit that. So we went just as far as Date to get our Christmas dinner. We (my mom, and dad) (I helped a little) spent Saturday preparing for the Christmas dinner. Originally it was going to be our family, Hiro, Naoko, my teacher (Kayo), and Yuki. Naoko was not able to make it because she had a friend in town, and Hiro was not feeling well, so it ended up being us, Yuki and Kayo. It went well, and the dinner was amazing (although I am still looking forward to our Christmas dinner on the 24!!). Monday was a completely do-nothing day. At least that’s what I remember. Tuesday we had school again, and in the evening we did a bit of research on New Moon, because we are planning to go see it Saturday YAY!!! FINALLY!! I decided that I was going to invite Akari to come see it with me, so Tuesday night I wrote a letter (that my very kind dad translated for me) in Japanese. On Wednesday I found out that she was actually going to come, so now we are still working out some details. That is mostly my week, nothing too exciting. I CANT WAIT FOR SATURDAY!! YAY YAY YAY YAY!! IM HAPPY!! :P (not that I’m counting or anything but 25 days till we fly home)!!! Oh and also, we received a package in the mail, (from my nana) and it contained an advent calendar!! Yay!! Thank you nana soooo much!! THIS ALSO MAKES ME HAPPY!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday news

Ooops! I had intended to update yesterday but the evening got away from me :) Ian took Taran and Joisan to the hospital yesterday and Taran came back without a cast or a brace! He started physio right away and now has to go 3 times per week - he says it's feeling a bit painful and not very strong yet but he's enjoying the opportunity to shower! I will be taking Taran to Date tomorrow for his second physio appointment.
This evening there was a volleyball tournament at the Otaki Shogakko. Ian and I both joined a team from the Chugakko - Ian in the A league and I in the B league. It wasn't exactly the same as volleyball at home - it's called soft volleyball and they use a different ball - quite a bit bigger and - you guessed it! - soft. It's almost like those big red playground balls we have back in Canada - the ones that bounce really well - but it's white and not quite as bouncy. I had a lot of fun and despite a slow start my team managed to play well enough that we have to play again tomorrow. Ian doesn't know yet if he plays tomorrow or not.
It looks like we'll all be going to Sapporo on Saturday to go to the movies. Joisan is desperate to see New Moon which opens here on Saturday. She has invited her friend Akari to go with us so we're still trying to work that out. I think the tentative plan involves a 12:15 show and some shopping afterwards. I think it will be fun!
The tournament went a bit late tonight so it's already well past my bedtime. More tomorrow. (or the next day!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Monday - four weeks and counting!

We were all a bit stunned to realize that four weeks from tomorrow we are going to be getting on a plane to Vancouver! This time has gone so quickly! We are excited about seeing everyone and going to DisneyWorld but we are a bit disappointed to be missing all the great stuff that will be happening here around New Years as it is one of the biggest celebration times here in Japan.

We've had a busy few days - lots of partying and playing. It's getting to be a Wednesday night trend at conversation class that I am given gifts of food. This week we were again given some yummy cheese made by a local farmer and I was given a bag with a large piece of meat in a paper bag. Natstumi asked if I'd ever eaten deer before and told me that this was a very fresh piece of deer meat. Ian was pretty stoked to cook it all up and it seemed a good opportunity to have someone over for dinner so I invited Hiro and Miss Miamaru (the Music and Art teacher). We had an awesome dinner of deer stew and home made biscuts. Ian even made an apple cake for dessert. We drank and visited and played games and had a great time!

On Friday night we were invited to Imai-san's house for a Nabe party. There was a big pot of soup that just kept getting added to. The big deal of it was the duck - which I'm guessing was put on especially for us. There was ground duck and duck slices. They were good - but the soup was wonderful and I'm sure whatever meat was in it would have been good. There was also a plate full of beautiful red strawberries which were reported to cost in the neighbourhood of $3 each! One of the Imai-san's (there are two brothers - one works in the Otaki office and one is the postmaster) had just returned from a trip to Bali and he opened a box of "Bali-chocolates" to share with us all and we made a good joke of it because they were Ferrero Rocher! We had a lovely visit and watched some movies of the other Imai-san's last trip to the Cowichan Valley in July of 2005. It was fun to see familiar sights mixed with the faces of some of the people we know here. The kids had quite an in-depth talk with iro-Hay and aoko-Nay (oh - did I mention that we taught Hiro pig latin on Thursday?!) and they told Hiro and Naoko all about their schools in Canada. They also learned a bit more about how things work here - for instance, if a teacher is sick and can't come to work then the other teachers just cover it as best they can. It's only in the case of an extended illness that there is any formal coverage done.

On Saturday Ian and I trudged through the snow to watch the kindergarten performance. We sat on the floor with all of the proud parents and thoroughly enjoyed it all. They sure do put on slick shows here - I can't imagine seeing anything of the same caliber from a daycare or preschool in Canada. The five year olds did a version of the Bremen Town Musicians and the four year olds did the Billy Goats Gruff. The show being over means that I now get to add the kindergarten back into my weekly routine.

I had hoped that we would be heading to Sapporo on Saturday afternoon to go to Costco with Hiro but the snowfall effectively nixed that plan, which meant that we had to head to Date for the supplies for our Sunday evening plans. About two weeks ago Yuki, the dietican at the Chugakko, had asked me about traditional Canadian Christmas dinners and I told her all about what we usually have. When I was trying to explain about it I came up with the bright idea to just have her over to cook a dinner with me. We had settled on this Sunday so by Saturday I was needing to gather the ingredients for our favourite holiday staples. It proved to be a bit more challenging than I would have thought but we made it work. We did manage to purchase a whole chicken (scrawny thing that it was) and we paid through the nose for it too! ($15 for a 1 kilo bird!) We never did find yams but I decided that sweet potatoes are close enough and the hunt for Campbells Creme of Mushroom soup never did prove fruitful so I had to make my own.
So Saturday evening was spent making pastry for the pies and making up a recipe for the mushroom soup.

On Sunday, Yuki came by about 1:20pm and we started cooking. I walked her through all the steps of pretty much everything and we managed to get everything cooked and baked - which was a feat considering the size of the oven here - it's like my microwave at home and is probably not supposed to have things stacked on top of eachother! Still, we managed to cook two pies, the stuffing, the chicken, the sweet potatoes, the mashed potatoes, the broccoli, the cheese sauce and the gravy all with one tiny oven and two burners! It was a feast! Joisan's teacher, Ms. Madokoro came to eat with us. Hiro was supposed to come too but she had a headache so she begged off. We had a wonderful Christmas dinner and we all ate too much! We played a few games and then called it a night.

Today has been a wonderful gift - another Japanese national holiday! We slept in and hung out and got to visit with my family on Skype while they were at Sunday dinner. I was totally excited to hear that my sister got her Bar Exam results - yay Aurora! We have yet to make the Skype thing work with Ian's mum and he's really hoping to do that soon. After all the hard work of laying around today I think it's off to get myself prepped and ready for the week now so more next time!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From Joisan

Hey everybody. Again, nothing much has happened, so I will pretty much be telling what my mom said, but in my words. I don’t remember if we did anything Saturday, but Sunday was eventful. We were invited to Chinami (the nurse)’s house for lunch. On the way, Hiro had told us that one of Chinami’s sons, had invited a few of his friends, to play with Taran, and to make it less awkward. When we got there, there were a fair amount of boys, (Taran’s age) and they kept coming. They said I was “cute”,“beautiful”, and “gorgeous”. It was so so so soooo embarrassing. On Tuesday we got letters from Chinami’s sons, (12, and 15), saying thank you for coming to my house etc. Taran and I wrote back (in Japanese) and Chinami said we have very good Japanese (it was really our dad’s Japanese, our writing). Tuesday, we went to the hospital, and I got a brace. My ankle has been hurting really bad since, and I have four or five blisters on my foot because of the brace. I have been told to start walking on it, and I have tried, but it is really painful. That brings you mostly caught up in my life, and my brother wants on the computer, so I guess I’m done! PS. I really like the comments... they make me feel warm and fuzzy inside... SO PLEASE COMMENT!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Snow Snow Snow Snow Snow

It won't be long before we're burried. I had hoped that this was just another come-and-go kind of snow but it's beginning to look more permanent. I'll work on getting some photos up on the photoshare soon - this world is very pretty all dressed in white! Ian had to go out and shovel this afternoon and the roads are pretty icy.
Other than the snow our biggest news is that Joisan is out of her splint and into a brace. She and Taran (still in a cast from ankle to thigh) are both supposed to begin putting weight on their foot so I guess things are improving! They both go back next Wednesday for a check up and Taran will likely get to switch his cast for a smaller one. I'm looking forward to the time when he has no cast on and can shower regularly again! Right now it's quite a production to get the cast covered properly.
Taran and Joisan each got a letter from Chinami's boys who we visited on Sunday. The boys wrote a good letter each and sent it to school with their mom. Taran was invited to come back and play video games again and soccer when his leg is healed and Joisan was told how cute she is (again!) and also invited back. They both wrote back to the boys in Japanese - with Ian's help. We have been working on learning the most basic Japanese letters - Hiragana and we're beginning to recognize some words as people are speaking around us. It's only been a month and a half and I think we're making some progress with the language (finally!) I have begun to use a book that my friend gave me (thank you Kim!) and I think it is really going to help me a lot.
I was up really late last night prepping for today so I'm going to cut this short and head for the bedtime routine (hot bath, lay out the bed and crawl in!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's c-c-c-cold...

So it looks like winter is soon to hit for good - at least the temperature seems to have taken a permanant dive. We're still having plenty of rain and thankfully no major snow yet.
Thursday evening I went out with the teachers from the Chu gakko to say goodbye to the student teacher. We went to a restaurant and had an amazing dinner. The presentation was stunning and the food was out of this world! There were even some little butterflies made from carrot slices! I'm working on getting a copy of the photos that were taken of the food.
The system for teacher training is very different here. They go to school for four years but they only do one three or four week practicum just before their last 6 months. Then, when they graduate they have to take a big test and if they pass they get a job right away. During their first year of teaching they have a supervisor who visits them about 3 days a week. After that they are on their own. From what I hear - there is never an issue with getting a job - their first contract is for four years in the same school and after that the contracts are for 6 years. In some school districts the teachers are provided with some seriously subsidized housing too.
On Friday I went to the pro-d with the teachers here. They do some interesting things with the pro-d. All the schools except three (one elementary, one Jr. High and one Sr. High) have the day off. The other three schools have students for two hours and present lessons for all the teachers to go watch. I saw a Social Studies lesson and an English lesson. Of course being that it was all in Japanese (including the English lesson) I didn't understand very much of it! The English class made me realize that I am really lucky here in Otaki. Ms. Koizumi is working so hard to teach the class only using English and she really appreciates everything that I bring to the class. All of the instructions and explanations in the pro-d English class were in Japanese and I was totally surprised by the lack of English.
After the pro-d there was a welcome party for Ian and I in Date with the Mice Club. Ian had gone to Sapporo for the day and met me in Date afterward. The Mice Club were really welcoming. They had it partially catered (sushi and pizza) and brought some homemade stuff to supplement. It was fantastic! There were about 11 people there altogether and we played "2 Truths and a Lie". The Mice Club meets regularly to socialize and speak English. We are looking forward to the opportunity to get together with them again.
Yesterday I helped coach one of the grade nines for an oral exam she had to do today. After that Naoko stuck around for lunch and a visit. It was fun to have company. The rest of the day was a bit of a write-off - some computer time, some reading and some napping.
Today we were invited to the home of Chinami-san. She's the nurse at the Chu gakko and she has two sons the same age as Taran and Joisan. We picked up Hiro and headed for Date around 10:20 this morning. Chinami was busy prepping for the amazing lunch we had - sashimi and miso and make your own sushi and tempura. She had burgers for the kids (prawn burgers for Joisan) Wow! It was unending and spectacular! Her oldest son had a bunch of his soccer friends over and they were totally fun and friendly with Taran and Joisan. They played video games and Jenga and listened to music. A couple of the boys were very taken with Joisan and she felt a little embarassed with all the attention they paid to her. When we were ready to go Chinami packed up a bunch of leftovers for us to bring home so we ate really well all day! Things are good - we're happy and healthy and Joisan and Taran are going back to the hospital on Tuesday for another checkup.

Friday, November 13, 2009

From Joisan

Nothing happened Saturday, but Sunday was very interesting. We got to the hotel, and had to change into the ‘spa wear’. It was quite a hassle for me to change because I wore tight jeans. Eventually I was able to get them off with little pain caused. As my mom said, we had to wait during the first scene/shoot, because it was everyone entering the restraint. About halfway through the shooting, we were taken and sat at a table, to drink juice while waiting for the shoot to be over. Our ‘scene’ was pretty lame; we stood there while pretending to be super excited. We later did another scene shouting something... My mom and Hiro then went to the onsen, while Taran, my dad and I waited in the lobby. BOORRRINNNGGG!! I sat there, my brother reading his book (surprise surprise), and my dad attempting to read the paper. I didn’t bring a book or anything so I got to sit and complain for 2 hours. The buffet was AMAZING!! SOOO yummy!! There was lots of crab, and so many desserts. By the time I was done dessert, I literally felt like I was going to explode. But, my brother was able to convince me to have a jello eating contest (with chopsticks). We invited Akari and her two sisters to join us, (by the time we were ready to start, it was Taran, Akari, Asaka, and I). It was so much fun!
After school Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I went with my mom to her after school programs, to avoid taking the bus (my bus stop is at the bottom of a big hill that is a challenge to climb with crutches).
This is going to be a challenge to explain, but I will do my best.
Tuesday at lunch (free time) I was sitting at my desk in my classroom with Akari, and Mari, I guess I was looking a little bored because Akari decided to try to entertain me. She walked out of the classroom, and walked back in as one of the teachers. She imitated all the teachers and it was hilarious!! Each time, she got me to guess who she was imitating, and it was pretty obvious each time.
(This is sort of a side story, but it comes into the other story). Most days after eating lunch (still in the lunch room) the vice principal comes up behind me, leans over my shoulder, so his face is beside mine (a little too close if you ask me) and says something along the lines of was it good, in Japanese.
Anyway, so my homeroom teacher came into the room and is doubled over laughing at Akari’s imitations. My teacher then decided that she was going to take a turn, so she comes up behind me, leans over my shoulder, (too close to my face) and in her best man voice says what the vice principal says. It was sooo funny!! :P Wednesday, the vice principal does the thing, and just after he left the room, Akari, my teacher, and I burst out laughing!!
Anyway, that was my highlight of the week, and I just thought I would share it with ‘yall.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wow it's Wednesday!

We woke up to a white world this morning - not deep but a definate blanket of snow. It was quite cold and the hills have managed to hold onto their snow all day today, although everything down here in the town melted.
Clearly there's nothing too exciting happening here or the blog would be updated more often. I'm actually really enjoying the routine we've gotten into - although it would be a bit of a nicer routine if the kids weren't on crutches and could get themselves to the bus in the mornings. Then I'd have a bit more time for getting myself ready without bumping into them as they're getting ready. I've worked out twice this week - there's a stationary bicycle in the hall next door and I can stream a tv show while I ride. It almost makes it tolerable!
I have arranged for some boxes and bins for clearing out the mountains of resources that are stored next door. There is some stuff that dates waaayyy back to the first AET and I want to get it all weeded and boxed and organized so that anyone who comes will find things in a better state than I did. It's a big job - but it will also make a big difference to whoever comes next.
Ian took the kids to the hospital again today and had them checked. Taran was not really due to go until next Friday but he's been having some pain so it seemed wise to check it out. He's fine and still likely to be in his cast for several weeks. Joisan is supposed to go back next week to get fitted for a brace for her ankle. She still has to wear the splint and keep her weight off of it for another two weeks but after that she should be able to start to use it. They are saying that she tore the ligaments. I'm really doubting if she'll be dancing before the new year. Bummer.
Ian was also able to get me some medication which is good since I have only five days worth left. Our share of my medication costs was only ten dollars - man the healthcare plan is good here!
I am going out for a farewell celebration for the student teacher tomorrow and then I'm doing pro-d with the Chugakko teachers on Friday. I think Ian might be going to Sapporo for the day on Friday to explore some of his old haunts. We are finding ourselves getting invited out more regularly now and I'm excited to get to see people's homes and how others live. I feel like we're in a bit of a "Canadian zone" here at the guest house with little of the reality of Japanese life.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Busy Sunday

So I didn't write yesterday because nothing much happened. Joisan, Ian and I went to Date in the middle of the day but not for anything exciting. We did a bit of shopping and took a bit of a drive - looking at the ocean and checking out some of the residential areas.
Today was our filming day at the hotel in Kitayuzawa. We spent a bunch of time before we left worrying about what we were going to wear (Ian favoured a shirt and tie - the rest of us were a bit more casual) and it turned out when we got there that they were putting us in their 'spa-wear' anyway. Not exactly attractive stuff - kind of tan pajamas with green and orange sploches on them - so fabulous! (Not!)
Once we got changed they took us into the buffet restaurant and set up for the first shot. With the kids on crutches we missed the first shot because it was a movement one. They stood us up in the buffet line for the second shot and we pretended we were terribly excited by all the food. Then for the next shot we all crowded together and did a closing shot complete with us shouting something that translated to something along the lines of "the best of the best".
After we finished the filming they gave us some free time before dinner so Hiro and I went into the Onsen. It was great. I still find it a bit uncomfortable to bare my body but I'm getting better at it. Joisan didn't come with us but she said later that she thought about coming in which is progress. Taran said he would have gone in if it wasn't for his cast so we may actually get a family trip to the onsen sometime. Anyway, Hiro and I had a lovely bath and came out just in time to meet Ian and the kids and head up to the buffet.
The buffet was great - lots of variety and yummy stuff. Joisan was totally thrilled with the desserts and Taran was in heaven with the steak. My favourite was a toss-up between the steak and a yummy seafood, cheese and tomato salad. We sat with the family of one of Joisan's friends from school and when everyone was finished Taran and Joisan challenged Akari and her sister Asaka to a contest to see who could eat their jello with chopsticks the fastest. They had to keep one hand behind their back the whole time. Of course Akari won but Joisan came in second and it was a ton of fun to watch!
So, all in all it was a long day with some seriously boring patches in it but there was definately some fun there too.
We're all a bit tired and there is school tomorrow so it's off to bed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

notes from Ian and Joisan...

From Ian:
I had an interesting day today....I got a call this morning to make a commercial for a fancy hotel. Unfortunately, it was a non-speaking role. I didn't have to do very much but sit around naked for most of the morning. The hotel has a hotspring attached to it and the whole "shoot" was done in the Onsen (bath/hotspring). In Japan, you are not allowed to wear bathing suits in the communal bath houses. I had to sit in 40 degree hot water for up to 25 minutes at a time. We did that about three times before the shoot finished. I turned bright red and when I got out I was dizzy and my heart was pounding quite fast. It will be played on one of the Japanese TV networks all across the country. The whole family goes back on Sunday for another "shoot", but we'll be keeping our clothes on as it will be done in the restaurant.

From Joisan:
Nothing much happened this week... being on crutches equals a boring life! Saturday was the Warashibe festival. It was really boring because all the games were for the warashibe people (not that I would have been able to participate). My mom had made arrangements with the principal, so we got to leave early. We went back to the house to get ready for the Halloween party. The whole time I was at the party, I was thinking of what I could be doing (TRICK-OR-TREATING!), which was disappointing. Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were completely do-nothing days... I did nothing. Wednesday, my father and I were scheduled to go see the ‘mice’ club, before going for my appointment. The ‘mice’ club is a group of housewives in Date who get together once a month and talk English. After that, we picked up some lunch, and went shopping. Then we were on our way to the hospital. I got X-rayed, and the doctor said it wasn’t the growth plate; it was probably just a ligament. YAY NO CAST!!! He said that I would wear the splint for another 2 weeks, and we would come back in one week. So no school again next Wednesday! I was sent to bed early Thursday night, so that’s why the post is late (I wasn’t being bad, I was just tired)! TTYL!!! XO.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

And the week is flying by!!

Wow! It's Thursday already! Tuesday was a holiday and I loved having the day off. I was supposed to go to Costco with Hiro but it snowed quite a bit that day so we didn't go. The way the snow was falling I had feared that I would not see the ground again until spring but things have warmed up and we've had a couple of nights of rain and the snow is completely gone. The only lasting effects of the blowy - snowy day is that the trees are all bare - all the leaves have completely disappeared. We're getting rain off and on but it's not a constant.
Last night were the adult conversation classes. We seem to have a consistent number for the beginner class - we're settling out around five, but the intermediate class numbers are fluctuating - we had ten last week and only two this week! I'm still trying to figure out what to do with each of the classes to best meet their needs. I was totally exhausted by the time we headed to bed.
Today Ms. Koizumi was away at a new teachers conference so her supervisor and I did the class. He planned it and I did a few extra things on top of what I usually do. I am finding that none of the students have a handle on the time thing so I did a quick mini-lesson on yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am going to make a calendar and do some regular practice with it. This afternoon I went to the elementary school where I rocked! I used a new song that I found online that the grade ones and twos loved! The older kids seemed to have lots of fun working with the alphabet and I'm getting lots of good laughs for the way I show them how to hold their mouth for certain letters! (I'm blowing lots of raspberries!)
I had the Kitayuzawa after school program this afternoon. I felt really badly because ballet was happening and I had to kick a whole bunch of parents out of the room I was supposed to use. They wound up sitting and sewing on the floor of the lobby. They were all working on costumes for the upcoming recital. There is another room but apparently the ceiling is falling in so it can't be used. Ugh. I hope I don't have to kick them out every week!
Ian got all domestic today and made a whole swack of pumpkin pies. He made one large pie for us and five small ones to give away. The pumpkin came from the ones we carved for Halloween. It froze right after they were carved so we pulled a couple in and cut them up and Ian cooked up the pumpkin. He made his own pastry - which turned out very well (but he says he'll never do pastry again). He even made his own evaporated milk since he couldn't find any here. We tested the big pie after dinner tonight and it definately passed muster so I'm not sure I want to give the little ones away!
Tomorrow is Friday already and I'm looking forward to the weekend. I need a couple of days to vegitate and get myself organized for next week. It's only forty-seven days until we fly home for Christmas!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Quiet Day - Quick and Easy

Not much to tell today - other than the snow that was falling when I left for Tatsunan. There wasn't a ton of it but it was enough to make me a bit nervous setting out for work. As it turned out there was more here in Ootaki than there was anywhere else and by the time I was halfway to Tatsunan there was no sign of snow at all.
I was able to come right home after the morning at Tatsunan so that I could watch my Mum open her gifts at her birthday dinner. I was so glad I could be a part of that. Once I'd had a good long visit with my family and done some prep for the after school program I headed over to the community centre. There were only four kids today because the elementary school has had to close the grade one and grade three classes due to influenza. We did some simple games and that was it! Half an hour goes pretty fast!
It was pretty much a lounging day for Ian and the kids today and tomorrow probably will be too - which is good for both of the kids right now. I may (or may not) be headed to Sapporo tomorrow to go to Costco with Hiro. I hope it works but then again I could also use the day to plan the rest of my week.'s all folks!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just a few days behind...

Sorry folks, things got a bit hectic and the first thing to go was my sanity - and then came the blog. So... we'll back up to Friday and I'll make it as short and sweet as possible.
Friday was the day that Taran was due for his one week check up for his knee. Ian took him from school and left Joisan and I to get ourselves home. Joisan took the bus and I used one of the bikes that Ian and Joisan left at the school last week. I did well - I made it in only 20 minutes and it's all up hill! I made sure that Joisan was home safely and then biked to the office. While I was there a mushroom farmer came in and brought me a bag full of shitake mushrooms! Yum! I managed to fill an hour with investigating more of the contents of the desk. It's a bit of a schmozle so it will likely take several more Friday mornings to get it sorted out. I rode the bike home (love the basket on the front to carry the mushrooms!) and started dinner 'cause Ian and Taran weren't back yet.
When they did get home it was with a full cast on Taran's leg. They took another 45cc's of blood from under his kneecap and imobilized him from his upper thigh to his ankle. They didn't quite know what to do about the fact that he's still bleeding under the knee so they cut a hole in the cast, right over the knee to allow room for it to swell. They put the part they cut out back in and wrapped it with a bandage to keep it in place.
After we ate and got cleaned up Ian and I started work on the stuff we needed to do for the Halloween party. I decorated the hall while Ian made cookies. It was a pretty late night as there was lots to do. I think we rolled into bed sometime after midnight.
Saturday was crazy hectic. I got up at 6am to ice the cookies Ian had made (can you say 'tired'?) We headed off to school - only 8 minutes late - and I used the time there to print off and prepare a game for the adult Halloween party. At the appropriate time everyone from the school went next door to the Warashibe for their festival. There was a mochi making demonstration. Mochi is the product of pounding rice in a mortar with wooden mallets. It is a two person job with one person doing the pounding and one person wetting the rice and turning it (and risking their hand!) I tried the pounding and managed to get a good rhythm going. There were a few games that the Jr. High students ran for the festival and I played (and lost) each one. There was an awesome lunch and the students from the Jr. High sang and played the Taiko drums. We had to leave a bit early to come home and get ready for the Halloween party.
Taran dressed up as a pirate and Joisan wore a piglet costume she bought in Date. I wore my best black clothes and a hat and cape and was a witch. Ian wore a pumpkin hat that we found here. The kids started arriving about 10 minutes to 3 - around the same time it started snowing! In all there were only 10 children but it was good because I was able to give everyone a costume prize. We carved pumpkins and played games and had fun! There was a bit of a lull toward the end because they went through the activities I had planned much faster than I thought they would. Everyone seemed to have a good time though.
When the kids left we had only a half hour to clean up and get ready for the adult party but thankfully we had help. In the end there were only 7 people who showed up for the supper but we had a good time anyway. We played a couple of games and talked and visited. It was fun.
Today we slept in and lazed around, watched a movie and basically did nothing. I got to have a couple of skype calls and we all just relaxed. The kids don't have school tomorrow because it's a day in lieu for going to school on Saturday, and Tuesday is a holiday so they're enjoying this gift of a three day 'weekend'! Unfortunately I have to work tomorrow so now that we're caught up I'm off to bed! Photos to be posted soon!