Tuesday, January 27, 2009

wish you were here

i went for a walk with you today
you were with me the whole time

we saw the crow with the rope
caught on its leg and tried to tell
him we could help if he would just
come down

then off the path you almost fell and
i grabbed your arm, just in time
then we walked on and found the pile of
rusted tractors and bedsprings, an
old safe unopened

i saw an abandoned barn but then you
saw the dogs waiting in front of it

a mother of my students stopped to ask
if we needed a ride, but we declined
preferring to walk together under
the rare blue sky, a warm winter's day

you told me i was lucky to live someplace
where daffodils grew wild and i agreed

later when i finished and you were there
waiting for me, the sky was not dark yet
and you said spring was on its way

more pictures here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

the now and later

now: it's super cold this weekend, well, for us anyway. we are snuggling in, watching the pokemon movie and eating coconut doughnuts with cups of green tea to wash them down.
school is moving along. this is sebastian's last semester as a preschooler. in april, he will be sempei, the oldest level at the school and a true kindergarten-er. the shi-shi mai visited their school so they've been doing a lot of paintings and crafts based on that. next month is setsubun, a day where you are to throw beans at the demons in order to protect your house for the upcoming season. sebastian's been going around singing songs about oni and kami, demons and spirits.
as for my time at work, i have been using some new songs with good results and accomplishing a lot of little victories. i am drafting a curriculum for the upcoming school year and am surprisingly excited about it. i feel more comfortable at my school and ready to make the most out of it.
my graduate classes start again on monday so that will take away some of my japanese studies. jason and i have been having after-kids'-bedtime study sessions since the beginning of the new year. we occasionally cancel them to watch the office or 30 rock instead but those shows are absolutely worth it. we've also been slowly going through the seasons of northern exposure, my annual winter viewing pleasure. we are now the same age as joel and maggie which has caused quite a bit of reflection this year.
we also have been the happy recipients of many packages lately. our montessori supplies came in and we've been incorporating them into our daily routine. i also got some much needed clothes which are making my life easier during these snowy days. mail-order is a big way of life on this island and in a way, i really like it. you have to be certain of your purchases and good at planning ahead. and of course, there is that pleasure of getting something in the mail that never vanishes. we finally got our first issue of the kyoto journal yesterday which is all about tea, a good thing to read about while sipping some.
later: we'll be going to nagasaki at the end of the month for a language teacher's meeting. i am really into professional development now. i think it has something to do with my increasing commitment to the education field along with my advancing age. it also looks like we'll be sticking around for another year. the benefits of this job outweigh the disadvantages. a big rent-free house, nice students, a decent salary and health coverage, and a good amount of time off. i have another vacation looming at the end of march. two plus weeks paid vacation then of course golden week will be on its heels. after that summer vacation, when we hope to go to nara. in november, i'm heading to the big teacher's conference and then in december and january, perhaps florida. nice, warm sunny florida where my toes won't be frozen.
and after that? i'll be finished with my degree and ready to find a better job in a city that is connected to other places by a more convenient means than ferry. jason wants to try for a higher level of japanese proficiency test so he'll need a teacher and he's not going to find one here.
but after a few years, i am thinking of heading to india for 9 months to get my ami montessori certification. i still want to open a montessori school in kyoto/nara but i haven't been able to figure out how we can afford for me not to work constantly in order to undertake the intensive training that is necessary. but we could save enough to live in india for the amount of time needed to get the certificate. montessori has been wide-spread in india since the beginning. i am considering volunteering as an english teacher some vacation to get a sense as to if this is possible for us as a family.
that's about it from us for now. i hope you are all well. take care.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Better Angels

I am enjoying this year so far, aren't you?

We have somewhat of a plan for our future now, a future that is made much brighter by the dynamic President Obama. How amazing that feels to write. During times like these of great national importance in America, I have to consider what it is I am doing here. Am I unpatriotic because I choose to live abroad? No, in fact, I believe I am part of the new age that President Obama referred to in his speech. I am not thinking about borders or boundaries. I am a global citizen though culturally I am an American and proud to be so.
Living in Japan with my family, we are working against negative stereotypes and hopefully helping to open up a few minds and hearts in the process. We are the only Americans in our little island chain. We make up half of the foreign population on this island. If we go outside of our little circle, there are stares and echos of "gaijin-san" (foreigners, though I think it is nice that they add the honorific san to the end of it). We might be the only Americans some of these people ever meet so we must represent our home country to the best of our abilities. We strive to be kind and generous, understanding and patient, open and welcoming. These qualities were cultivated in us as Americans and though we may falter occasionally, we do not forsake these core traits. It might be a small part but it is our part and it is how we know best to serve our country at this time.
I know that the road ahead is not smooth but seeing all those people gathered in the Washington Mall to watch President Obama's address made me feel part of a force united to work towards a better world, thousands of voices crying "Yes".

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

one of the traditions here is "first writing" where you write significant words that can carry you in the new year. we selected words that we need to work towards during 2009 (as well as what we believe the boys need) and here they are:

勤勉な: kinben na: diligent: tiffany
楽観: rakkan: optimism: jason
静かな:shizu kana: calm: sebastian
注意かい:chuuibukai: careful: nicolai

we've been enjoying the last week of my vacation by being very domestic and occasionally venturing out to see the sights. you can see our sights by heading over to our flickr account. here is a clip of the clearest water that surrounds one of goto island's famous christian churches. hope you enjoy.

take care.