Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yuck and Fun...

With 4 typhoons circling everywhere but over us we are receiving the raw end of the deal with just irritating rain! I found out the most exciting news ever...I get to do devotions 2 times in October, the 1st and the 31st. How did I get so lucky? We're also planning for our Fall Festival, school fundraiser. Each class has to put on their own game booth. Any ideas? I'm kind of pressed for time, I found out about this thing 2 days ago and should know my booth by tomorrow! It's almost stressing me out thinking about it as we will all have to be outside running this thing from 9-2! Can you say sweat rag? On the home front, Alison and I have been having some issues with our towels smelling like rotten something. She did some research and we've tried putting in vinegar, bleach, double washing them....all kinds of fun things. Want to know how it worked out? We went to Jusco and each bought a new towel tonight! :) lol Oh, we picked up our tickets for Tokyo from the travel agency yesterday...we're very excited to get to experience "real" Japan. Okinawa is definitely more laid back and Hawaii-like, on their own time schedule. This week is missions week at church so Alison and I may be spending a few nights this week over at Neighborhood. Tomorrow the preschool, prekindergarten, and kindergarten are going sweet potato digging somewhere out in a field. Definintely not your typical "American" field trip. lol I am very interested to see how this goes and you know there will be pictures! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another week...

The week started out a bit rough with many thoughts of home. It was finally my turn to ask Alison if we could go home and, like I say to her, "Sure, we'll go back to our wood box." The week continued on and with only one little breakdown I made it to another weekend! :) Thank goodness there is lots of laughter in Japan! We seem to find everything hilarious!

I posted some pictures below of a few things that struck me this week...
If you look closely you can see the ocean...This is the drive on our way home from work! Amazing!
Yes, that man is standing up on the bed of the truck! I thought they were strict about seat belt laws! I was trying to get Alison to move in closer so I could get a better picture, but it's kind of hard on a single land road. Then again, lots of people drive on the shoulder lane!I won this fabulous piece of glass last weekend! lol It can be yours if the price is right! hehe Notice how Alison censored my Japan Man.

The highlight of my week was Thursday night. Alison and I parked by American village and walked down to the beach. We found ourselves a seat on the edge of a wall overlooking the water, though there wasn't too much to see in the dark. It was incredibly relaxing! We talked about being in Japan (of course) and also about what it will be like to come back after traveling a bit. Will it be like coming home to a place more familiar than the places we visit? I'll let you know! ...We also did some people watching in American village. As we sat, eating our ice cream, we saw two different couples come take pictures with this Japanese statue in the middle of the central area of the village. After we finished laughing, Alison and I decided to replicate their poses. Check back again, I will post those pictures right here soon!!! You won't want to miss them!
My kids helped make Apple Crisp at school on Friday for our final "A" activity. It went well, not too crazy, and most of them really enjoyed it! We just might have to do some more baking this year! Oh and my class of 13 is becoming 14 on Monday (a preschooler is being brought up) and it is possible I might be at 15 soon. Yikes! What's happening to my small class?!?!

I don't know that this picture even needs a caption...Lori, can you figure out what's going on here? I think they might belong to you! lol

I know, I know, I have big feet!...and a lot of shoes!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shout out...

Alright, so when I ask Alison to give me something to read she writes a blog. We made rice krispie treats tonight and since I was raving about her pan she asked me to give her pan a shout out in my blog. So...here it is...Alison's pan is AMAZING! You know when you make rice krispie treats and you melt the marshmallows then add in the rice krispies and everything sticks to the pan? You have to scrape it all out of the pan before letting it set? Well, let me tell you that this pan is so great the treats simply fall out of the pan leaving almost nothing behind. Way to go Caphalon! What what!!! lol

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So much to see...

Today began with my first massage in Japan. We went to this place called "Come Across." Alison still doesn't remember the name calling it "Come Again" or "Come Over." She's old, it's okay! ;) We parked in a little garage under the building and walked upstairs where there was a large room separated by curtains. I got a 20 minute back massage that was much different from any that I have had before, enough oil for 5 massages. In my opinion, it was too fluffy, not deep tissue enough. Oh well it was relaxing and felt really good!

Then....it happened...the doorbell rang...Alison went to the door and I heard her say "Yes, that's us." Woohoo! We got our boxes sent to us by the wonderful people of San Gabriel Christian!! We were terribly excited. There were so many fun things in the box, one being the Spring Concert DVD from last year. Alison and I watched it and of course, she had a moment! :)

This afternoon Rocky, a fellow New Life teacher, took the crew to do some sightseeing. We made our way to the Pacific Ocean side of Okinawa to a beach where we went out on a glass bottom boat. I had never even heard of this before, super cool! The center of the boat had a glass bottom and we all gathered around to look down at the fish. It was a very beautiful experience. The water is simply amazing, so unbelievably clear! There were some awesome fish though they were hard to capture on camera. I found the rainbow fish below quite fascinating. I've decided I am really liking the "video" feature on my camera. :) If you can't tell already!

You win a virtual hug from me if you can find Nemo in this blog!! :)

After the trip out we spent some time with our feet in the Pacific Ocean. I found a boat and decided to sit in it for awhile. Rocky told me I could sit in it as long as I didn't take it anywhere! No problem there!

Here is our glass bottom boat!

This is Rocky trying to get the camera off of him. Oh well, he obviously lost.
From the beach we went to Okinawa World which included Gyokusendo cave (do not ask me how to say that!). The cave was...wet! Sorry, the pictures didn't turn out so well.

"OOOO can we touch it??"

When we finally made our way through the cave (the above picture is the escalator out of the cave) we walked through the rest of the village and saw lots of things typical of Okinawan culture. We walked through the glass blowing section, sugar making mill (we were able to taste all kinds of sugar things), and other fun shopping centers.

Here we are pretending to be Buddhist gods (more like Buddhist dogs lol)

On the way home Rocky treated us to, in his opinion, the best ice cream on the island. It was quite good! We followed up that stop with dinner at a Soba (Japanese noodles/soup) restaurant. It was pretty yummy, but challenging with chopsticks!

We made it back home just in time to watch a little Gilmore Girls to complete an already fun filled day! :)

Brilliant plan...

Alison and I thought of an amazing plan to fix our bug infested couch problem! We decided we would share the granny chair and let the couch sit by itself. :) See that hand on the couch? I bet a bite will appear shortly! It is a serious problem that will probably involve BUG BOMBS to fix it!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rainy Days...

You would think in a place where rain is a common occurrence at any time throughout the year, the kids would be used to it and go on with the day as normal....NO, this is NOT the case. They are just like my classes at home on rainy day schedules! The day was chaotic and one of those that makes me ask what in the world I'm doing in Japan! The video above is what the rain looked like from my classroom as school was starting today. I don't know that I captured the intensity of the situation but we have been experiencing some crazy weather! Alison and I had our first opportunity to wear our matching raincoats today! I was real bummed when I got all dressed up for work then looked out the window and saw that it was raining cats and dogs (Speaking of cats they finally removed the little sucker at about 9:30 this morning, though the smells lasted much of the day). I decided to suck up my desire to be fashionable and sport the coat (and hood!).
This evening, Lori, Rachel, Alison, and I went over to Camp Foster to go to a furniture store to look at floor rugs, Lori needed new ones for her classroom after the rain took over! Alison insisted on stopping by for a nap while in the store, apparently she does this often. This time she sucked us all into her little trap! See the picture below...

This is what we looked like in our matchbox car with the rugs! It was such a roomie ride home! ;)

When we got home the crew watched One Tree Hill (DRAMA!! anyone watching this understands how crazy the show is getting!) and since I can't seem to just sit and do one thing I worked on making some alphabet wheels for my class. Our sink/trash had begun to smell and this smell was starting to overtake our apartment. Since the smell remained after the dishes were washed Alison bathed the trashcan in the shower. She's special that way! hehe

Life in Japan continues on as normal, if you can call it that. We've recruited people on base to keep their eye out for us on when the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 movie makes its way to Japan since we missed it in the States by one day! You all should be worried about me over here in Japan as it appears I am being eaten alive by some invisible bugs in our apartment. Alison is sure they are living in our couch since I'm the one that usually sits there. I'm so nice, I give Alison the granny slider/rocking chair since she's so much older than I am! :) Even as I sit here on our living room floor I feel as if there are little bugs crawling all over me! Before I sign off for tonight, if you're interested in hearing how Alison practically killed me last night go to her blog and feel my pain!
Looking forward to hearing from you all since I've begun to notice how much everyone enjoys leaving comments! :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Great day...

Today was a gift from God! Before I get into the REALLY good stuff here is a video that I took today of my class singing a song most of them learned last year and the rest of us are learning now. They are some of the cutest things. The motions were on a DVD that we were watching while I was taping. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did...and do every day! :)

After school today Lori was working on putting together a Classroom Direct order upstairs in the office when Alison came to pick me up. We got to chatting/ordering/browsing (I felt ADD and was looking through the teacher resource books) and long story short she asked if we wanted to go to the BX (base exchange) tonight. We were terribly excited! That place is so cool! It's like a target/best buy/bed bath and beyond all put together including a Coach section, department store clothing and shoe department area, cosmetic section ranging from real expensive to way inexpensive. I know I made this sound very hodge podge,but let me tell you it was!!!! It was quite the experience with Lori and her husband and two girls. Izzie decided halfway through our trip that she NEEDED to checkout and leave because she thought the store was going to close with us in it (she had a bad experience...lol) I made it all better with a piggy back ride, though I made sure she knew this would not happen at school and it was our little secret! Fun times! She is just adorable. After our shopping trip they took us to the main place eating center. Oh my goodness, we ate TACO BELL!! It was by far the most exciting thing in the last 6 weeks. We struck gold! Don't tell, but I snagged some extra taco sauce just in case! :) There was also a brief lesson in "Recognizing and Deciphering Military Uniforms 101." We arrived home only after turning down the oh so desperate cries for a sleepover! This, my friends, is the Japan life!

WARNING: do not read if you have a sensitive stomach!!! :P
I nearly forgot to tell you all about the most disgusting part of the last 6 weeks...Today we walked onto campus and smelled this very strong bleachy scent. It smelled like everything was extremely clean. However, after a few hours went by the smell became a more deathly smell and come to find out there was a dead cat, with little friends feeding off of it, under the stairs right next to my room leading to the offices upstairs. The day went on and the smell grew worse. By the time I left school I could not even walk by without covering my nose, in fear that I would throw up. Turns out, today is a Japanese holiday and they could not get anyone to come out and dispose of it, so there it sits. I pray that it is gone by the time school starts tomorrow. I can't begin to imagine the stench that will be by morning!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Safe place...

Japan is AWESOME...when I am at church. :) I have never in my life experienced such a sense of freedom from worries, stress, and things of life, like I did today in church. Today I felt, for maybe the first time, what it is like to leave the worries of life COMPLETELY at the door and let God speak and comfort. From the moment I walked into church today I felt an overwhelming peace about everything involving Japan and life in general. There is a sincere desire for God's presence and genuine teaching of the word. It is SO refreshing! Sitting in church, everything about Japan feels so right and it's hard to even think about the trying things that go on daily. Thank you all for the prayers that are said on my behalf. I feel surrounded!

Last night Alison and I had tacos for dinner, a successful meal. The idea came about because we had 3 packages of ground beef from a few weeks ago. Why 3 you ask? Well, I saw what looked like a "sale" when the packages had a symbol that appeared to mean 3 for 980 yen (about $9.80). I said, "Alison! Look! They're on sale!!" lol She believed me so we bought 3. Turns out they weren't on sale and now we have extra meat that we paid full price for! I love inventing my own deals!! Anyways, we had soft tacos that ended up being not so cheap (5 tortillas for 3 dollars). Ridiculous huh? Then we made our first batch of rice krispie treats (chocolate, cuz we couldn't find any regular rice krispies). We did every part of the process in Alison's pan. She wasn't kidding when she said it could do it all!
We have had some crazy weather here this weekend. Random bouts of pouring rain and lots of wind in 85 degree weather! One second it's dry and the next there are sheets of water falling from the sky, then as quickly as it began, it's over! How does one dress for such weather?
The talk in Japan is how big all the bugs are. Almost everyone has some story about how they found a creepy crawler in their house. It has been over a month and we have not yet experienced this trauma :) I am literally waiting for it to happen. Every time I walk into the bathroom I am waiting for something huge and black to jump out at me! AH! You can bet you'll hear about it when it happens!

Lots of random thoughts! Love you all!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Life is a funny thing...

There were many hopes over the last few days that we would get the exciting opportunity to experience our first typhoon. We learned how to track it online and everything, just to see that it has changed course a bit and we won't actually be experiencing this one though we will have a ridiculous amount of wind and rain over the next few days. Alison and I, and everyone else at the school, were getting REALLY excited about the thought of possibly having a "typhoon day" on Friday. We even went to the 100 yen store to buy a flashlight and some candles. Speaking of candles, we found some real nice smelling ones for $1 but needed to find a cute dish to put them in. Since smoking is so huge here we managed to find some adorable ash trays to put them on. Priceless! lol This is a really cool shot of the sky on the way to school this morning.

I think I mentioned before how I had this really cool gate over my classroom door that I needed to open every morning. I lucked out and got the one that gets stuck. Here is Alison trying to open it. :)Today I took my first class picture. I worked so hard to get them all settled, arranged, and timer set. Here we are 10 days in! They really are quite cute!

Last night Alison and I went to church for their midweek service. The pastor had us all pull chairs to the front and sit in groups for a group activity during his lesson. I was so lucky to get to be in the same group as a man named Rocky (get it? Yo Adrienne!). While having one of our debriefing sessions last night before bed and Alison and I were talking about how we wanted to join a women's group of some sort. We're thinking of talking with the pastor, who is really great, about whether there is something in place or maybe trying to start a get together at Starbucks or something. We would have to be having a bold moment for that to happen. We don't always play well with others! hehe Oh and this is exciting...We are going to be in the church directory! I had to have my picture taken by myself and I was suddenly reminded of our old church directory from when I was younger and I remember seeing the pictures of the single people and feeling so sad for them! lol Welcome to Japan! :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

God is good...

Time seems to be flying by over here in Okinawa, even if it has been one of the most difficult months ever! I can't believe it has been 5 weeks! It has been SO good hearing from many of you at home. Alison and I sit and talk almost every night about being in Japan and trying to figure out exactly what's going on over here. There have been many moments of uncertainty and frustration, but I've also had moments when it makes sense and I realize the impact this is having on my life and the amazing comfort I get from being in God's presence. The crew has been attending Neighborhood Assembly of God for the last 3 weeks. Alison and I have also gone to the midweek service for the past few weeks. We decided it is the safest (emotionally), most comforting place on this island right now. We've had a chance to rest in his presence in the midst of the craziness of life in Japan. For those of you old school Covina people :) you'll find this entertaining...We took communion at church on Sunday and before the men served they all walked down the center isle, lined up at the front, received the trays, then walked to their designated spot. hehe All of a sudden I was 13 and saw my dad standing there at the front in his suit! Good times!
I've also learned how much I love getting mail. I like it so much, I even get excited when the mail is for Alison! lol I'm so pathetic! I think the biggest thing is seeing something in our mailbox that is in English! :) I got 2 boxes today from Amy and that about made my day! You see, I walked into my classroom this morning to a huge trail of ants from the wall (that apparently isn't sealed) across the back of my room to my little kitchen area where they surrounded a dead cockroach! Yes, a lovely way to begin your Monday! But...then...I got my mail! Oh how exciting!
Alison is quite the drama queen, though she would say the opposite! :) (she's going to shoot me when she reads this...yes we read each other's blogs and laugh lol) We laugh at each other often...For example, we were just brushing our teeth and she commented on how well I hold my spit when brushing and in turn I started to drool and that just made things worse! Alison continued by laughing (really more like a squeal) and pointing at the toothpaste dripping everywhere! Other exciting things that happen involve me pretending to drop our laundry off the balcony, Alison and I smelling things in the grocery store since we can't read the labels ("Sure Alison this smells like barbecue sauce"), our down comforters smelling like wet dogs lol, the blood like substance that seems to be dripping out of my air conditioner onto the walkway outside, a trip to the travel agency that involves lots of hand motions with nothing conclusive, me tripping on everything we walk by including LINES, and our shock when seeing the splendid things people do here like intently stare at the American girls! :) There are so many more that I can't think of, but I do realize these things may be more funny to us...in Japan!
I'm off to bed...Good morning to you!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

American Weekend...

I made it through week 2 of school with drastic improvements each day! yay! I was invited to a birthday party Friday night for one of my students (Izzie is the Kindergarten teacher's daughter) on Kadena Air Base. The crew went to celebrate with this cutie at her Strawberry Shortcake themed party, including pizza and funfetti cupcakes! It was really nice to get out, though a bit overwhelming, as there were TONS of adults and kids there...standing room only! :) The Chapman's have this incredibly realistic looking/acting/feeling/sounding horse. They turned it on for us to see and experience the weirdness about it. It's so big the kids like to sit on it, though I saw two children cry because of it! This horse moves and makes noises by sensor. It was creepy! So creepy in fact that Alison insisted on turning it off. She had some troubles finding the switch, but I caught her in the act lol

Then on Saturday we were invited to join Laura and her husband, Eric, at his squadron's bat passing party (yes, it is just as crazy as it sounds). We were on Kadena again at his commander's house. It's really quite amazing how cute they can make the insides look when the outside looks like a prison! Anyways, it was a Mexican/Okinawa beach party. There was yummy food and nice English speaking company. It was funny though, as Laura introduced us to her friends she would tell them that we worked with her. They all thought is was so great until she told them that we were in no way affiliated with the military and were here all on our own. My how the expressions changed...from "oh cool!" to "oh dear!" lol There was an official ceremony to say goodbye to one of the two female pilots in the group who is going to Alaska. A few of the men spoke of how great she was and how well she put up with the professional junior high boys locker room scene! lol The ceremony continued with the "passing of the bat." This was a REAL bat sitting in a jar of who-knows-what, but it was DISGUSTING! The passing of the bat meant the person receiving it was to throw the next themed party within 44 days. It was all so strange, a completely different world once you cross the gate. Oh, they also took a vote to determine whether they would continue with this "bat in a jar" or switch to a less disgusting bat in a frame (one hopefully the wives would let them hang...lol) Being the men that they are, they voted to keep the awful one! Interesting group of people those military!

With another weekend down, and preparations being made for a Thanksgiving trip to mainland Japan, I am ready to being week 3!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Holidays already...

We were blessed to have our first holiday on Monday! yay after only two days of school! Alison and I ran around doing our errands...let me just say how nice it feels to actually be able to handle "running around" on our own! I went to the Home Depot of Japan (Makeman) to buy some sand for my kids to use for letter and number practice then the crew went back to the Transit Cafe overlooking the water...The picture below is a product of my timer skills :) We sat outside where we were able to look out at the beautiful ocean, though it was a bit gloomy.
On Tuesday I had to give my first devotion of the year (it's going to come around once a month), oh to be at San Gabriel and do it once a year!! Anyways, this one goes out to you SG peeps...Apparently things will be no different in Japan than at San Gabriel when staff devotions occur...there WILL be tears! :) I only shed a few and quickly gathered myself together. I told Alison I would bring a box for hers next week!
Today I had a new student join my class. It was a bit stressful, but worked out in the end and I'm still here to tell you about it, so I guess that's a good thing! Ya know, it's really hard to read these four year old children. Many times it appears they are not understanding what's going on, but oh to have those moments when you realize they do get it! One of my parents was telling me after school how her son goes home and sings all the songs we're learning (songs for colors and numbers) and then shows them how to spell my name and just can't stop talking about school! Yay it just feels so good then! I'm realizing how much I'm needing affirmation being in such a different environment without my regular friendly faces. I also had the special privilege (sarcasm) of having before and after school duty. This basically means that I need to help unload the children from their cars in the morning then try to get the right kid in the right car after school! whew! hehe it's quite the sight!
I'm so excited! Right now I'm going to place an order for some supplies that will be shipped on base to one of our teachers address. Hallelujah! :)