Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Play Area - Odaiba/Venus Fort

On Wednesday some friends picked us up in a car (aw, a car:) and took us to a mall nearby with a new play area that opened this summer. The kids had a ball and since it is new, all of the toys were clean and very nice. Miss M said her favorite part was the magic mirros, you know those carnival mirros that make you look really short and fat! She loved those and the kids probably spent 15 minutes laughing at themselves in front of them. Another highlight was driving some fun little cars but the K Man got frustrated as he was too short and had a hard time pedaling. He enjoyed the train table, when he could have it to himself, and the large tunnel slide. If you are in the area, I highly suggest checking it out. There is a small hamburger joint nearby where we grabbed a quick lunch and our friends brought us home. 

On Monday this week, we started our homeschool program for kindergarden. The planning and decisions for curriculum have been hard for me, as I have not wanted to be too easy on Miss M, and at the same time I have not wanted to push her too hard. I want to find the balance of giving her a love for learning and creating an environment where she thrives, and at the same time I want to give her as much time to play as she can as I know each year with school gets more demanding. I have had lots of phone dates with friends both in Tokyo and the US who homeschool and am thankful for their input. I finally feel like I have my bearings and we started this week on Monday. No, I did not take a first day of school picture and then post it on facebook. Maybe I should have, but I did not. We are slowly easing into the entire curriculum, so this week we have been doing our read alouds (books we read out loud together every day) and our math lesson. We also read together each night before bed, and I have saved our Bible reading for that time along with a few other books the kids choose. The hardest part is simply teaching her to sit and focus, so often we do the reading stories while eating breakfast. Then while I clean up breakfast she gets a break to play and after that we do math. Some days we have activities to get to for the K Man or Japanese lessons, so Miss M will have to get it all done in one sitting, but on the days we don't, then I am happy to let her play in between different subjects. Next week we will add our handwriting curriculum. On week 3, we will add our reading/phonics program where she is learning how to read. We will do that for two full weeks with all of the basics, and if I see we have time for more or she would like more, I have a science program I can do with her. I am thinking of doing 2-3 lessons of this a week because she is really interested in science matters on her own and I think she would enjoy it. She does like knowing that once she finishes her school work, she is free for the rest of the day. I was impressed today when I asked her to do a practice math sheet for writing the number 1, she quickly did it without complaining even though it was later in the day. Four days down, and we have made it! Each day will bring new trials and lessons, but I do actually look forward to it more than I thought I would. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August 14, 2014 - August Scrapbook Day

This month the scrapbook day fell on a Thursday. We are back home in Tokyo and the kids were supposed to have Japanese. However, the teacher fell ill so we were left with no plans. We decided to head to the indoor play area for a play. The big accomplishment was that Miss M rode her bike there without training wheels! While we were in Arkansas, she just got on a friends' bike and started riding without training wheels. We had no idea she could do this and were quite amazed. The first day back in Tokyo we took her training wheels off. She was a bit wobbily at first because her bike here is much heavier than the one she rode in the US, but within a few days of practicing she got it. We had a nice play at the play area and she rode her bike back home. She is so excited about riding her bike now. She wants to take it everywhere. I will be happy when she can ride along next to me so the K Man can be in the back seat. He is really quite too big for the front seat of my mama chariot. Also on scrapbook day the kids got their hair cuts. The K Man fell asleep beforehand so he has to go with daddy this weekend. Secretly I am glad because he does not like getting his hair cut. I will happily let daddy take him. :) We have slowly adjusted to life back in Tokyo and the kids are loving being home as am I. There is really no place like home. However, the humidity and heat is truly unbearable. We are spending lots of time at the splash pool these days and eating ice cream for treats.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Miscellaneous Pictures and Thoughts...

While I was in Lexington, I did not have the large camera with me, so once the husband joined us we got lots of good pictures in Lexington of the kids swimming, playing pretend golf, and family photos with cousins. We enjoyed our time in Lexington as well catching up with friends and family and getting to attend our old church where we were married.

We really could not have asked for a better trip. The kids were so adaptable and did great traveling and staying in 6 different homes over the course of four weeks! They made new friends and fit right in, which is what we wanted. They made fabulous memories with family and grandparents and had a lot of fun. They were also ready to get home. It was very humbling as my husband and I were talking about the beautiful homes we saw in Nashville...Miss M said, "They are all pretty but my favorite house is our home in Tokyo." From the mouth of we were talking about how big the houses were and the beautiful yards, and she loves our 900 sq. foot apartment in Tokyo without a yard. Tokyo is their home. And Tokyo is our home, because home is where our people are, and for me, these are my people...and when I am with them, I am home.

In the beginning I really struggled on this trip culturally...not so much with the large stores and meals, although that did bother me to see how much people eat and waste, but more so with our kids as I saw just how different our kids are compared to my friends' kids who live in the US. It is not a bad different, but just different and in the beginning I was not quite sure how to piece it all together. I had a lot of questions internally as to whether or not living in the city in Tokyo is the best thing for our kids - what is better - grass and wide open spaces or culture and big city life? Once my husband arrived, we had a lot of time in the car to process it together, which was great. We realized together that we want to raise global kids - not necessarily that the global part has to be Japan focused, but we want our kids to have God's heart for the world and for His plan of redemption. If and when we do move back to the US, we do not want to go back to just the normal southern life of BBQ and football games. Those things are great and we will enjoy them, but we want to make sure we are intentional no matter where we live of exposing our children to the Lord and his view of the world and his plan for it. We want to be mission minded wherever we are, hosting missionary families so our kids are exposed to other parts of the world where God is working, and getting plugged in a church community that is intentional about reaching out. Whether Japan, or America, we want our children to know Christ and have his vision for the world. For now, we will do this in Tokyo until God leads us elsewhere. As we met with our friends in Ashville, they told us of their daughter in her early twenties, living in NYC, attending Redeemer Presbyterian Church and working with an international organization to help with health care for those who do not have it. As we drove home from that dinner, we commented on how if Miss M were doing this in 20 years, we would be so proud of her - pursuing her dreams of helping people and having a global Christ-like perspective. Like this family, we want to be intentional in raising our kids with this perspective. It may look different from what some of our friends and family do, and that is okay. It may mean we spend family vacations exposing our children to different countries or taking them on mission trips. It may look counter-cultural to mainstream depending on where we are, but we are okay with that. With these discussions, we left the US on a positive note and with a bit more clarity on the vision we have for our family. We do not know the details of it all, as that is up to God to direct and guide us in, but we do have a better vision of principle we have for our family which we can implement anywhere. Enjoy these final pictures from Lexington, Kentucky.

Tea Party and more fun in Knoxville

A trip to Nana's house is not complete without a tea party so on our last day we had a farewell tea party, complete with hats, sugar, and British accents. The kids enjoyed relaxing here and especially loved helping Opah collect veggies from his garden and clean the bird baths and feed the birds. The K Man continued to scare the birds by banging on the windows trying to say hi to them. Daddy and Mama even got to sneak away to Ashville to meet friends for dinner who have had a huge impact on our lives and marriage. Our last week in America was relaxing and refreshing.