Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Are you ready for some Sumo?!?!

This past Sunday we went to Sumo for the first time. It will probably be the last time. It is one of those things that you want to see while in Japan, but do you want to go a few times a year? To sit and watch really large men wear over-sized diapers and wrestle? Not so much, at least for us. However, we did want to see it at some point, so when friends had two extra tickets in box seats, we decided to take them up on the offer and join them. I wish I had gotten a picture of our box seats. They were not box seats at the Kentucky Derby where you each had your own personal chair. We each had our own personal pillow to sit on and the setting was rather intimate...or shall I say "tight." Let's just say there was not a lot of room in these box seats and we are glad we went with people we like and feel comfortable with. My friend and I would encourage the men to go get snacks or drinks so we could stretch out our legs. The Sumo wrestlers/participants (I am not sure what you are supposed to call them) travel around different cities in Japan to perform matches, and the matches usually last a couple of weeks. In September, they were in Tokyo. When you purchase a ticket, you can literally get there at 9/10 in the morning and watch people compete all day until 6PM. However, the bigger boys come out in the late afternoon/early evening. We got there around 2:30 and stayed until it ended at 6. We knew nothing about the rules or history of the game, so we were reading up on those at the match thanks to Apple and Steve Jobs, RIP. The hubs and his friend got into some friendly wagering, more for pride than for yen, over who would win each match. The difficulty would come when the wrestlers were both wearing the same color of diaper and the stakes had to be claimed based on physical appearance rather than color of uniform. You could not just say, "I'll take the big guy" because they were all big. All except the dude from Czech Republic. I kid you not...he looked like he should be playing American football, wide receiver. He was not that big at all, and he was competing in the elite group. We assumed he had to be good to make it into this group. However, the local Japanese sumo player he was up against took one look at him and sent him back to Eastern Europe on the first plane. There were also competitors from Hawaii, Syria, Bulgaria, and Russia, but on the program they all used Japanese names. It was a really fun experience. I am glad we went. I enjoyed getting involved in the atmosphere of the sport and cheering with people. Was it Neyland Stadium on a Saturday night in the fall against Florida or Rupp Arena on New Year's Even against Louisville? No. But it was fun, and I am glad we can check it off the Japan Bucket list.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 12, 2012 - Scrapbook Day

Yesterday was 9/11. You know, not a year goes by now that I do not shed some tears on this day. Everyone was posting things on facebook about how you will never forget - and it is true - just like my parents will always remember where they were when President Kennedy was shot, I will always remember where I was on that dreadful morning 11 years ago. Even living in Tokyo, my heart hurts on this day. We recently watched the movie Act of Valor. Fabulous movie. Whether you believe in war or not, you will feel a since of pride when watching it for our American military and be forever grateful for the men and women who sacrifice for the freedom of our nation. So, that is my two cents on 9/11 this year. Even when you live abroad, you still remember. Today is Wednesday and we started BSF again. We are so grateful for this ministry and the opportunity to be a part of it. We are studying Genesis this year and I am super excited to discuss it with Miss M. She is at an age where we can talk about the Bible stories she is learning about, and Genesis is full of story after story. Today she told me she learned about "Genesis" and how God's Word is "a gift for us." Her Bible teacher (my running partner) was so proud of her for remembering her story and what she learned. At the end of last year, they asked me if I would join the leadership team and lead a small group. I debated back and forth for awhile, but decided it would be good for me to do and to serve, to get my eyes focused on others besides my two little ones. I am super excited about the women in my group from all over the world. It is going to be stretching for me, but I think it will be so worth it. Now we are home and while The K Man pretends to nap, Miss M and I are relaxing in pjs, watching some Thomas the Train videos, and getting ready to do some preschool work and color together. One activity a day is enough for me these days, especially in this heat we are still experiencing. I hope each of you is having a great Wednesday.

Shimoda September 2012

This past weekend we headed down to the beach in Shimoda for our "summer" vacation. It is sad that our vacation was just for a weekend, but with the hubby starting a new job in June, this is all we could muster. We went with two other families from Australia and had a blast. It was so relaxing. I never knew what time it was, rarely checked my phone, and did not have to cook or clean dishes for 3 full days. The hotel had pretty good food and we were in the middle of nowhere so our days were pretty simple: get up, eat breakfast, go to the beach, come back and clean up, babies nap, head back to the beach, clean up, eat dinner, put kids to bed, and enjoy the company of fantastic friends and nice wine. Miss M got knocked down pretty hard by a big wave, but she still went in for more with the help of mama and daddy. It was good for our family to be away from the city, look at stars, and forget about the day to day routine of life for a bit. My only regret is I did not get a family photo or a group photo of our friends. I guess we were having too much fun.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yochien Decision

So, in my last post I alluded to decisions our family was making regarding this new re-found commitment God has given me in motherhood. Some of you thought we were having a third baby. Although I am not opposed to a third baby, now is not the time and I am also not so confident we are meant to have a third baby, so NO, that is not the suspense I have been keeping you faithful blog readers in. We decided to not send Miss M back to yochien this year. If I am honest, I will admit this has been a battle for me in so many areas. The thoughts roaming through my tiny head and heart go like this - If we keep her home, who are we going to play with? Everyone is in pre-school. If we keep her home, how will I have a break? :) If we keep her home, am I keeping her from socializing and making friends? If we send her, is our life going to be stressful every morning with me trying to get her dressed, pack her lunch, yelling at everyone to get going? If we do not send her, will she never learn Japanese? If we send her, will I ever understand what is going on at the yochien? Am I crazy for wanting to be with her when I know I have days I want to pull my hair out? What will people think of us if we take her out? Will they think we are not embracing the culture? Or that we are not making our child tough it out and persevere. You can see the list and thoughts go on and on. We started thinking about this a few weeks ago as we noticed her behavior during summer break was so much better. We still have our tantrums, but we noticed Miss M was significantly more calm and relaxed - more playful, more child-like. We also noticed I was having more fun parenting her - we were running around the city, swimming, playing, picnics, free to make our own schedule, free to sleep in, free from packing lunches. I was more relaxed, she was more relaxed, and our home in general was more peaceful. As it got closer to school, I would ask Miss M leading questions about if she was excited to go back to school. She would always answer no and when I asked why her response would be, "because I would rather play with you and my brother. At school, I just play by myself." As the hubs and I discussed this at length, we asked ourselves what our goals were for yochien and for raising her...what do we pray will come of her and our parenting her. You can imagine these were not light discussions. We were digging deep and God was probing our hearts on so many levels. We decided that two of our main goals for yochien were her language ability and social interaction. We realized we can give that to her in other ways that do not keep her away from mama every day from 9-2. I am not opposed to preschool, but we just felt like every day for such a lengthy time is a bit much for a 3 almost four year old. We wanted her to be a kid, to play, run, be outside, and just be free. She has the rest of her life to be in a school setting, and if I am blessed to stay home, why would I send her to school for someone else to do what I can do here? Basically, with yochien, sports class, music class, BSF, and every day life we were doing too much. We did not have time for down time and we believe she needs that at this age. I need it too. If she does not want to go, and does not have to go, why would we keep doing it, especially when our home is much more smoother when we are not going? This is very counter-cultural as most everyone I know is sending their children her age to some sort of pre-school. But you know what, this is best for us and it is where we believe God is leading. We called her in on vacation this week to sit on our decision. Two things solidified our decision for me. One has been Miss M - on Monday I was taking the kids to the park and she said, "Mama, I am so happy and I have the biggest smile." I asked her why and she responded, "Because I get to stay with you." Then, I was having a conversation with a friend last night. Her children are grown now and as I was talking to her about this decision and wondering if I am doing the right thing. She said, "Shari, I had my children in preschool from ages 3-5 every day for 3 hours. It is still one of my biggest regrets in parenting because you can never get the time back. It goes too fast and soon enough she will have to go to school every day, all day." I started crying on the phone. I realize some people need preschool, some kids love it, some people have to work and send their kids to school. Everyone is different and each family is different. I hope you hear in my blog that if you do things differently in your family, I do not think it is wrong. But for us, this is best. In spite of my fears and wondering what people will think of us, God used these confirmations and the joy of my child to show me we are doing what is best for us. Now, my job is to move forward and enjoy these days.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

From Dress Up to Sports Class

This past Thursday parents were allowed to sit in on sports class. It was so fun to watch. I laughed the entire time. Miss M loved having Mama sit and watch. The K Man liked it for awhile but as you can see from the pics got a bit tired and decided to lay down on the ground. Before the class, we had a friend over for a play date and got out the dress up clothes. Miss M loves her dress up clothes. She asked for high heels that she can wear outside for her birthday. I do not think I will be getting her those. High heels at age four - this mama is not made for pageants. But we will keep playing dress up at home. Her favorite dress is the green one. The summer went by way too fast. We had so much fun - splash pools, museums, spending time at a friends apartment for 7 hours and not having one fight among the kids, indoor play areas, parks, bike rides. I could go on and on. I feel like God has rekindled my love for mothering and for my children - not seeing them as a chore but more of a gift, and seeing my job as the best job of a lifetime. I will have more on this in the next week or two as we are making some decisions regarding these thoughts God has put on my heart, but for now I will leave you with lots of pictures and suspense...