Friday, December 25, 2009

Off to the Happiest Place on Earth!

Hello faithful readers... I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! We made it to BC on the 22nd (Joisan loved that she got to live that day twice thanks to crossing the international date line!) and now we are all heading for Disney World. We are fairly tired but also very excited! Travelling with Ian has been great as there are special helpers and resources for people on crutches. We've borrowed a great wheelchair for Disney World and we are looking forward to some line priveleges there too!
I thought I might be coming back to BC earlier than Ian and the kids but it's looking like I might stay until the 4th with them so I'm hoping for the chance to catch up with all of you when I get back. My email is not functioning as well as I would like so I am sorry not to be emailing you all individually.
Love to all,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ian wanted to join the "in" crowd

So aparently having two children on crutches wasn't enough for Ian - he wanted a turn too! I think we must really look like a crazy Canuck family - three out of the four of us have been damaged! I am watching my step very carefully now! Last night Ian was playing badminton and he ruptured his achillies tendon. The damage is about 3 inches above where the tendon attaches to the heel. I took him to Date (in the snow - winter has finally arrived in full force) to the hospital at 10pm last night and we were really lucky that their orthopedic guy had just come on shift. We hemmed and hawed for quite a while debating surgery vs. the conservative route. He said that they both have the same recovery speed and success rate after the first 6 months. Ian went for the conservative route and will now be in a cast for at least 3 months. Oh what fun! Anyway - we've cancelled the party tonight and I'm off to Date for some last minute shopping with the kids. I will be treading very carefully - I for one am not willing to miss any part of DisneyWorld!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The closer we get - the faster it goes!!

I feel a bit lame to have taken until today to update this but what can you do?? We had a busy weekend and the last few days have not slowed down at all! The bummer of it is that when I write so many days at once I end up writing a novel! Sorry in advance!

On Saturday we ventured to Sapporo for the day to do some shopping. It was snowing when we started off but it turned to rain before we got to Sapporo. We (read Ian and Phaedra) sang Christmas songs the whole way there. It got to be a challenge to come up with new ones that we hadn't sung yet! We found oatmeal and a few other treats and managed to get Joisan a pair of boots. We broke down and had McDonalds for lunch as it was convenient and both kids were happy with it. The McDonalds here has an ebi-burger which Joisan very much enjoyed. It was totally crazy though - we don't do McDonalds at home and here we are going to "Mickey-D's" in Japan! Brutal! Ian and I have just gotten really tired of the kids fighting about stuff ("I'm not going to eat here!" "They don't have anything I'll eat!") that it seemed like heaven to find somewhere we could sit down and eat together. Before leaving Sapporo we hit an amazing 100 yen shop where the kids racked up some serious debt.

We headed home where we unpacked and got organized before being picked up for dinner. We went to the home of one of the women in my adult conversation class. She (Mitsuko) and her daughter and son-in-law (Michiko and Satoshi) come regularly to the Wednesday beginner class and they are very nice. Michiko and Satoshi came up from Date City for the evening and made takoyaki for us. We also had cabbage rolls and yummy bread and there was a vegetable soup for Joisan. We played some card games after dinner and Mitsuko showed us the temple that is attached to her house. She works as a kind of spiritual helper to followers of her particular flavour of religion (still not sure what it is) and she has quite a beautiful temple. I took a few photos so I'll try and get them up on a photoshare this evening. We had a lovely evening - they are very nice people and we will play with them again.

Sunday we had Chinami (the school nurse) and her boys up from Date City for lunch. When they showed up the boys were in costume... the older boy (Yuhei) with reindeer antlers and the younger boy (Naoki) in a full Santa costume! They brought Taran and Joisan each a bag of candy and Chinami had brought some vegetarian sauces and things for Joisan! They also brought their Wii and all their games so the kids would have something to do. Ian made chicken nuggets and fries and we had a few ebi for Joisan as well. We made honey-mustard and a veggie tray with a garlic dip. It was a great lunch - we just kept eating and eating - and we thoroughly enjoyed the company. At one point we pulled the kids off the video games to play Pit and they really enjoyed that too! I am going to pick up a bunch of games when we're home to bring back - everyone really seems to enjoy playing games. Chinami told us that she is teaching the puberty classes this week so Joisan had hers yesterday and Taran will have his on Monday. I haven't heard yet whether they talk about the same type of stuff yet but Chinami was making her displays and asked me for the English words for a couple of things so I'm guessing they do much the same.

Monday I went to Tatsunan as usual. I have opted out of the lunches at Tatsunan because they are not very good. I definately feel spoiled with the food at Otaki Chu. It is amazing! Tatsunan not so much though so since Ian and I need some alone time anyway I've convinced him to come with me and go shopping while I teach and then the two of us will go out for lunch. So, last week we went to this little greasy spoon ramen (noodle) place and the food was AWFUL! We were both really disappointed in it. So, this we we picked up a bunch of sushi and nigiri and headed down to a lookout where we could see the ocean. It was sugoi (great) and we paid less than we had for the raman the week before!

As of Tuesday I began counting down my "last" classes before our holiday. I can hardly believe that we are already there! Disney World is coming fast!! Ian has been baking cookies for me to give out to the after school program kids and I've been doing a stained glass colouring craft with them. I decided that the Warashibe this week would be easier if I showed a movie so I showed them How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Some of them enjoyed it - but others just fell asleep.

Last night was the Christmas potluck dinner for the adult conversation class. There was an amazing array of food there, everything from KFC (yep - I couldn't believe it myself and Taran was THRILLED!) to Ian's Japanese Curry Rice. We over-ate and then played a few games. We did this really fun game where they all had to follow my (English) instructions to draw a picture - the catch being that the paper they were drawing on was on top of a book on their heads! It was totally fun!

Today was the Christmas lunch at school. Yuki (the dietitian) came to our house several weeks ago to cook a Christmas dinner with us and get some ideas for a Canadian Christmas dinner. She did an admirable job - today we had roast chicken, broccoli with cheese sauce and a sweet potato salad. There was also a corn chowder and special desserts which the students got to pick. It was Christmas dinner with a Japanese flair!

I have now finished all the stuff I have to plan and organize so all I have left is a couple of afterschool programs (game playing mostly) and Tatsunan on Monday. I feel almost free! We are having a bit of a shindig on Saturday - a potluck supper with any of the teachers / office workers and their families who are available. It's end of term here now so people are getting really busy and I'm not sure how many will actually show up.

I'll try to update a bit more often so that I don't have to write such a novel!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From Joisan

It’s Friday, and my brain is a little dead. One more week to go!!!?? I am very very excited and I just can’t wait to go on a 10 hour plane ride.... NOT. I don’t quite remember what has happened this week... yet I am still forced to write this. It snowed one day, I can’t remember which. I think it was Saturday. We went to Mushroom Kingdom (a tourist place) on Saturday to pick up a few items I can’t name at the moment, but I promise to tell you next week... maybe. Monday was Monday, and Tuesday was Tuesday. But Wednesday was definantly not a normal Wednesday. Wednesday, we were due at the hospital, and it was also only a five period day. On five period days, if there are no meetings, or no clubs, then the students sometimes play something in the gym. Well there were no meetings, so they were going to play volleyball, when my teacher invited me to play, and I (regretfully) replied in Japanese. I had asked my dad a few weeks ago, what you would say for “I will go to the hospital”, and yes, it slipped. She made the biggest of deals, and the news that I had spoken Japanese was around the school in 3 minutes (no joke). Anyway, both Thursday and Friday, I spoke a teensy bit of Japanese, and each time, whoever I was with made a big deal of it. Hopefully, if they want me to continue to speak Japanese then they will tone it down a few notches. Anyway, of what I can remember, that is my week.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'

I'm not kidding... these days are zooming by! I'm really just hoping I can put them on slow motion when we're back there visiting and playing at Disney World!

There's actually not much to tell. We're kind of coasting along. My classes are going well - I'm still struggling a bit with how to fill a whole hour at the Warashibe. I really wish they would take it back to the forty minutes it apparently used to be. I could do forty minutes easily but that last 20 minutes is a killer!

I've just come back from the elementary school where I taught them a new song and a bunch of Christmas vocabulary. It's my second favourite place to be - right behind the Chugakko where I spend most of my time. Today I was short one class at the Shogakko because H1N1 is making its rounds again. One of the classes at the Chugakko was out with the flu this week as well. We're doing our best to stay healthy so we don't miss a bunch our holiday with being sick.

We've got a busy weekend coming up so I'll be sure to update this when there's something more to tell...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sapporo is good for the soul...

Small town girl that I am, I would not have thought that the big city would make such an impact. Rianna (the AET from Date) stayed over on Wednesday night and Ian drove the two of us to Sapporo on Thursday morning. Ian had to go anyway and get the re-entry visas so that we could come back after we go home for Christmas.
Rianna and I got ourselves oriented and settled into the first session at the conference. I assumed that lunch would be provided but it wasn't so we had to go out and find food. Thankfully Rianna has two years of college level Japanese behind her so it made things easier. She's also been to Sapporo a few times before so she had some confidence in using the subways and getting around. After lunch we checked into the hotel and deposited our stuff in our rooms. I wish I'd remembered to take the camera because I'd have loved to have taken a photo of the room. It was small - very small - but it had everything necessary for one person. When I checked in there was an envelope for me from Ian with my paperwork for the re-entry permit. For some reason he had not been permitted to process mine so I needed to find some time to try and get to the government building to do it. When the afternoon session ended Rianna and I tried to go and deal with the permit paperwork. The person at the front desk of the hotel thought we wanted directions to the historical government museum building so we wound up far away from where we should be and as it turned out the office was already closed. We had a quick tour through the museum and then headed for the station to get some dinner.
The JR (Japan Rail) station in Sapporo is an amazing place. There are two or three large malls attached to the station and a ton of shops. We went up in the JR tower to the 11th floor and found a place to eat. I don't know what I ate but it was amazing! Afterwards we shopped our way down the tower before taking the subway back to the hotel and heading to bed.
Friday morning there were two workshops. One of mine was kind of lame but the other one was quite good. I connected with some other AET's and compared notes of work loads and accomodations. I realized that I'm quite lucky in the situation here with the house and the car and my work situation. Rianna and I went for lunch with a group of JET's from one of the northern areas. They were very nice - but young! It was actually a bit painful to look around the conference and know that I was the oldest one there! (If not actually the oldest then at least close to it!) I cut out of the afternoon session to go deal with the re-entry permit. I took the subway (by myself) and changed lines (by myself) and found the right building in the middle of Sapporo (by myself) and accomplished the task all by myself!!! (Are you hearing the pride?!?!) I found myself in the middle of the park in the centre of downtown Sapporo just marvelling that I am here. It still seems very unreal to me sometimes!
I made my way to the train station where I met Rianna and we caught the train to Date. Ian and the kids had been in Date for Taran's rehab anyway so they met us at the station and we grabbed some food and headed home.
We've had a pretty lazy weekend - Naoko came for dinner last night and we played a few games. It was a wildly windy night last night - we actually thought at times that the house was going to lift off the ground. It rained and stormed all night but around noon today it turned to snow so now we're getting a bit of a White Christmas thing going. The whole world is grey and white.
I forgot to mention that Ian's team came in second in the table tennis tournament on Thursday night - he really enjoyed the whole evening - I was sorry I missed it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

From Joisan

This week has been jammed packed with events. Last week, my parents were playing in a volleyball tournament. On the second night of the tournament, Ato-son invited my family to his mothers grand opening of her restarant. Ato-son's daughter is in my class, and he really wants us to get along and be good friends. After my dad was done his volleyball, we headed there to hang. Misuzu (his daughter) was there with her friend Chisato, who is in grade 8. They are both really nice, and I had fun. Somehow, my dad and Ato-son decided that Misuzu, Chisato, and Akari (the one I invited to NEW MOON) were going to come over the next night to have a sleepover. We left the party, my mom having arrived awhile back. We went home to bed, as we had to get up early the next morning to go to Chitose to see NEW MOON. I was sooo excited. I had been very jealous because all my friends saw it before me. We met Akari and her family in the parking lot of the movie theater. We killed a bit of time in the arcade next door, before going into the theater. It was surprising how few people were in the theater, but we didn't mind. :P After the movie we went shopping, then headed home. At around the time we were expecting our guests, the doorbell rang, but it wasn't any of the people we were expecting. It was the mail man! At 5:45, at our door! My mom went to go see what was up, and it turned out to be a package to me from Australia! It was from my (long lost JK) friend, Brody. It was full of candy!! :) So I have been loading up all week. The first people to arrive, were Akari, and her sisters. We didn't know they were going to come, but we were ok with it. All we pretty much did was play DS. Everyone had one. We also played a bit of cards. We had a really late night, but it was fun. I don't really feel like writing much. So, you can read what my mom has written of the past week. Gomen Nasai(sorry) >_< NOT THAT IM COUNTING BUT 19 DAYS TILL I GO ON A PLANE! ALSO... I <3 NEW MOON!!! :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I'm off to Sapporo!

Nothing too exciting to report but I'm counting on some stories from my trip to Sapporo. I'm a bit bagged tonight because I got up early this morning (6am) and did 40 minutes on the stationary bike before school and then I wound up riding the bike home (uphill all the way) because Ian took the car to take the kids to the hospital in Date. Joisan has been instructed to try running on her foot and Taran is improving too. Rianna (the AET from Date) came up tonight to go with us to Sapporo. She joined my conversation classes and we had a good time talking and playing Catch Phrase. We were given more cheese (yum!) and some fruit too! I had two new people join the class but we were missing several people so the numbers were still down. I'm off to bed in hopes that I can make myself get up and work out tomorrow too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's December!!

It's hard to believe that it's December already! We are in the midst of a cold snap and freezing our little BC tails off! There's nothing too exciting happening - Taran is doing rehab 3 times per week. Joisan will see the Dr. about her ankle this afternoon and Ian is doing a lot of reading. I head to the ALT conference tomorrow and I'm excited to connect with everyone. Ian is going to drive me and then go arrange for permission for us to come back after Christmas. (We have to get a re-entry permit.)
The school is in a bit of a tizzy at the moment because Hiro is off with the flu right now and everyone is having to pick up some slack. She does a lot at the school and now we'll be doing without her until at least Monday.
So - that about wraps it up - no big excitement just happy life :)