31 March, 2009

Home schooling for us

Today I'm home schooling. If you'd told me 10 years ago just before my first child was born, I'd never have believed you. Me, home school? Not that I am fundamentally against home schooling. I have lots of good friends who home school. It just was never something that I've been interested in doing. I guess I myself had a good school experience. I also enjoy time apart from my kids! I know there are many different reasons why people home school, but I primarily see it as a calling and something that needs to fit both the kids and the parents. In our case, it fits neither. So how did I end up home schooling? Well, it is more of a stop-gap measure than a long term lifestyle. Our middle son, as you might have read, just finished Japanese kindergarten. We ourselves are going to Australia in under 13 weeks (!!panic!!). Our six-year-old son will start school in July, the middle of an Australian school year. So our alternatives for the intervening weeks were: 1) Send him to Japanese primary school for 10 weeks. (Big culture shock) 2) Send him to CAJ (Christian Academy in Japan) for 10 weeks where our eldest son goes and my husband teaches. (His age would put him into kindergarten there too, hours of 8.30-12.30 every day. I would spend most of my day commuting - 20/30 mins each way). 3) Do nothing. (But this doesn't prepare him to start school in July very well.) 4) Home school (As well as sort and pack our house for moving.) If you add into the equation that his personality is one that takes a while to get used to new situations and people, and the decision to home school was not too hard to make. But hard to explain day after day as well meaning mums at kindergarten and in the neighbourhood enquired! Actually I have been home schooling part-time for the last 3 1/2 years. Ever since we last left Australia in the middle of my son's grade one year. We desired to give our children a head start with the language and culture by attending Japanese schools when they were young. So that is what we did. So he didn't lose what English he already had, I home schooled him in reading and writing before and or after school. It met all my expectations - difficult, impossible, frustrating and undesirable. He is no longer in Japanese school and the day we finished home schooling with him was a day of celebration. Thankfully our second son is a little more cooperative and compliant. On my second day of 'full time' home schooling, I can say that I am glad that I am no longer working around the time table of kindergarten. I can use the best hours of his day to teach him! All that being said, I am being fairly relaxed and we are not doing a full curriculum by any means. Reading, writing and arithmetic would about sum it up. All I'm doing is (hopefully) smoothing his entry into school in Australia in July. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

30 March, 2009

Ueno Zoo

Well, previously I wrote about getting to and from the zoo, but nothing about the zoo. To be honest we were pleasantly surprised by the zoo. The only other Japanese zoo we've been to is the Sapporo Zoo and even though the kids loved it, we felt like calling the RSPCA (animal welfare association in Australia) because the animals looked very unhappy. BUT Ueno Zoo was greener and by and large the animals looked happier. We even found some Australian animals beyond the kangaroos. A couple of emus with evil eyes. Kangaroo rat, fruit bats and a couple of others I've already forgotten. The gorilla was a great one. We were looking at them through glass, when this guy hopped up and came right over to us and sat down, looking cheekily at our boys. I cannot believe I actually got this photo. The whole zoo experience, though, was a reminder of how energetic our three boys are. Our Japanese friends have two children, a girl just a little younger than our eldest and a boy just a little older than our youngest. Our boys outran them all the way. They were looking a tad ragged at the end of the day (so were we). This kind of comparison helps us feel that our tiredness at looking after our mob day after day is legitimate :-)

28 March, 2009

Why we don't often travel by train as a family

Are trains and Japan synonymous in many people's minds? I've been in Japan too long to remember! I've gathered some thoughts about trains and how they compare to our 'home' country, Australia. Japan is much more suited to trains than Australia due simply to large numbers of people living close to one another. Trains come every couple of minutes, missing one is not the big deal it is in Brisbane, where trains come every half hour outside of peak times. Even though they come so often, getting a seat is still a significant triumph. And certainly not considered a right. We laugh when we read about Brisbanites complaining about having to stand the whole way to work. Etiquette is stricter here, probably necessarily so, otherwise we'd not be able to have so many people using the train without violence. Don't talk on your mobile (cell) phone. Don't cross your legs (they stick out). Don't put your bag on a seat. Don't stretch your legs out. Don't eat or drink. Sit close to other people. Don't talk unless you are with friends. Try not to look at people. For the above reasons, our family doesn't use trains as a family unless absolutely necessary. On Thursday we met friends at Ueno Zoo with friends. Close to the city, this was one time that trains were more convenient. Not necessarily nice, though. On the very first train we hopped on, it was standing room only, not super crowded, just no seats. Our two youngest decided that they both wanted to look out of the same skinny window in the door, the only available window. For several stops they fought, screamed, cried etc. Can you imagine how loud that sounded in the context of a quiet, orderly totally silent carriage? All of our boys are persistent, and there was no dissuading them that this was an unimportant fight. It was not until someone got off and another window 'became' available that the fight ended. But not before mum and dad were embarrassed and emotionally spent - all before the day began. The other significant travel event occured on the way home. First train was pretty good, all three boys got seats - next to each other and not having to sit next to anyone 'strange' (i.e. unknown, another stress point for at least one of our boys). We thought a bit of music would help our tired kids, so pulled out our iPod and let the two younger ones listen with earphones. All good, until we had to change trains. Chances we were going to let these two attached by wired umbilical cords wander through one of the biggest stations in the world? None! So, off went the music. Tantrum anyone? Our youngest threw a wobbly for all to see and hear. He made a motion to get off the train, then stopped at the door, just as the whole carriage had gathered up momentum. We carried him unceremoniously onto the platform, resulting in more screams. On the second train, we had no seats, but space on the floor near the door was available. Exhausted kids flopped (probably a no no, but exhausted parents didn't care). We reapplied iPod and had peace for the rest of the journey! Yay!! The next day we piled into the car for a shortish trip and pondered how much easier we find car travel than train travel. The boys read books in the back seat and we had no tantrums. Not to say we never have fights in the car, but at least they're not for public consumption.

25 March, 2009

Kindy graduation

I just realised that it is a week since our middle son graduated from Japanese kindergarten. Here are some photos to prove that it is no ordinary event. Very formal. The preponderance of black. Many of the women and most of the men wore black jackets. My emerald-green blouse felt a little casual and very bright! But I was comfortable and happy. Below you see our son about to accept his graduation certificate from the head of the kindy (a priest, it was a Catholic kindy). The kids had been drilled repeatedly and did exactly the right thing the whole time. It looked better than my final speech day at high school did! During the ceremony the children made a long recitation (of which I understood little). But the impressive thing for me was that it was long and word perfect - they've been practising for months! Plenty of sniffing, but none more than when they sang the "Sayonara song". Full of phrases like, "we've played together, been sick together", "but when the cherry blossoms come out we'll be wearing randoseru" (Japanese elementary school leather backpacks). After the ceremony (which lasted more than an hour). We lined up for final class photos and then went back to the classrooms for our final final farewell with their teachers! The teachers were dressed beautifully in kimono, but their faces were sad. Again things dragged on and on, and the strain was clearly showing on the kids. One of the boys had a fight and burst into tears. His mother then burst into tears as she tried to resolve it and finish well. In the meantime her husband came over to help and she pushed him away. It was a distressing scene that all regretted. We ourselves had another important appointment in the afternoon to keep, so we got out of there as fast as we possibly could. Probably the best thing in the end. Prolonging the agony didn't seem to be helping anyone! Below you can see the classroom with all the parents gathered around. The importance of the event is only underlined by the fact that almost every child had both parents present - a rare event. Fathers took time off work to come! Now it is a new beginning. This week is spring vacation (yes, the American coming in) and on Monday we start school in our lounge room.

24 March, 2009


It has been a long time, but in another life I spent a lot of time being an Occupational Therapist. When I became pregnant with our first child, I gave up my registration as we had plans to go to Japan and no opportunities for me to practise. In fact I wasn't sure I would ever get to do it again. It was the end of an era, I thought. Little did I know that 10 years down the track my skills would come in handy again. We've been confronted with the lack of resources available to English-speaking residents in Japan who have children with therapy needs. Particularly Speech Therapy, but also Occupational Therapy. Last year I was called upon to assess and write a report on a fellow missionary's child. Now I am giving advice about the handwriting problem of another missionary kid. The future? Last week I mailed off my application to rejoin our professional association: OT Australia. 12 months in Australia will give me the chance to upgrade my skills. I will not pursue re-registration at this time, so I won't be able to work in Oz (just to be clear on that). However, hopefully as a volunteer at CAJ I'll be able to help that handful of kids who struggle to get their words clearly onto paper and who knows what else God might have in store for me? I'm beginning to learn that in God's economy nothing is wasted.

23 March, 2009

Furniture lists

That we are considering furniture lists is a hint that the move we're making in 3 months time is not an ordinary one. We have a household of furniture here in Japan and half a household of furniture in Australia. Not many people in our economic bracket can say that. We don't have a house in Australia, just some stuff! So, we find ourselves with a foot in both worlds at present. We're taking stock of what we have here: deciding what we want to store for the year we'll be in Oz and what we want to ditch and replace when we come back. At the same time we're considering what we left in Australia four years ago and what we need to borrow to supplement that to ensure we have enough beds for everyone and so on. It is a challenging assignment, one akin to juggling balls. Hoping, as we consider one aspect of this move, that we don't forget another and drop the ball!

20 March, 2009

Accomodation beyond the ordinary

I've just had a way past the-edge-of-ordinary moment. If you had a family of three young boys and were planning to move to a city for a year. Would you consider: a). Moving in with a 40 yo house mate in a 3 bedroom house? OR b). Moving into an inner city 2 bedroom flat? Well meaning people have tried to offer us these possibilities. We wonder if they are really serious! Why is it that people think that missionaries will put up with anything to save a buck? I've heard terrible stories (beyond the used tea bag type) of misisonaries being given dreadful furniture because a family was upgrading or being sent used, unwashed clothes! Why do people think that missionaries are on a different level to themselves, somehow elevated beyond ordinary needs and desires? No, we're not expecting a large mansion, but on the other hand, we can afford rent on an ordinary sized house in the suburbs. Our year in Oz will be stressful enough as it is without a stressful home living environment as well. At the moment, as spring finally sets in, I am longing for a back yard to send the kids into. For one extra room to spread out into. (Our house in Tokyo is a massive 82 sq m with no backyard.) Just the same as any ordinary Australian mother? Why do people think of putting on an entertainment room or another garage and yet are happy to suggest that missionaries live in a situation they'd never consider?

17 March, 2009

Gross gloves

Can you guess that we have colds in our house? Our 3 yo has used the most amazing amount of tissues this morning. At least he is not wearing gloves. I bought him some new gloves on Saturday (yes, it is still cold here). He was wearing them all the time, even inside; but I didn't realise he'd concocted a new use for gloves. I heard him heading for the tissue box yesterday morning saying, "I need a tissue, I sneezed without my gloves on." Ewwwwww! I washed the gloves today.

16 March, 2009

Questions and odd English

I have the best question-asker in his Grade 4 class. Have you ever pondered what it is like to parent an inquisitive child like that? And his younger brothers are almost as good. The last two days I've answered (or tried to): "Why, when you have a cold, do you get masses of goobers?" "Why does my nose feel more blocked after I blow than before?" "Why, if I'm sniffing, do I need to put a jumper on?" (You have to know that he is not satisfied with a simple answer, he wants proof!) Just before he left for school he asked me: "Why is the sea blue?" How he ended up there, I don't know! His younger brother asked, "Are germs aliens?" That one was easy, but he then pondered "Maybe they are...". Earlier the same brother required a detailed explanation for bowel pain! Sometimes I'm glad I did all that anatomy and physiology back in uni. Now that I'm onto bowels... I have to tell you of some weird English I saw today. It is pretty universally known that you find weird English in non-English speaking countries. Today's WAS pretty memorable though. At the front of my local grocery store I stopped in my tracks at the large pile of toilet paper (packs of 16) for sale. Blue toilet paper. The brand name..."Fruit basket" accompanied by the large picture of a bunch of grapes. I ask you - what were they thinking? Except that I personally detest coloured toilet paper, I would have bought a packet, just to gape at! And taken a photo so you could gape too. I have at least 11 hours before I have to face more question askers.

14 March, 2009

Encouragement to keep running (or walking or crawling)

We are facing some very big, scary deadlines. In less than 15 weeks we will move out of this house in Tokyo, store most of our household and fly to Australia. Not for a holiday, but to work, for 12 months, and then return to work in Japan. This deadline has me overwhelmed at times. Particularly when I try to swallow it all in one lump. I've taken time to refocus my eyes on Jesus, this week, however and it's been a more-than-beneficial way to spend my time. One of the things I've done is reread parts of a book by a speaker I heard last year at a women's retreat. Below I've typed out one of the sections that made a significant impact on me when I read it this week. I pray it will impact you too and encourage you to keep running. "Come Closer" by Jane Rubietta, p 214-5 Come and Consider (what Jesus might say to you) "How I love you, Child. How I love you. I am by your side constantly, Your faithful guide. Keep running the race before you - Keep making a difference, Day in, day out. If you listen to your heart, If you listen with the ears of your soul, You will hear my heart berating Strongly, Cheering you forward, Strengthening you for The final kick across The finish. Meanwhile, the way is long And the road winding. But don't quit. Don't forget to invite Me to help yourun, To strengthen you, To cheer you on. Keep meeting my eyes, And you'll have all you Need for the race. And listen: Do you hear Them? The cloud of witnesses? They, too, surround You with support and Cheer you on, Though you can't always See them. Hold fast, Run well, And grab my hand. I'm not telling When the trumpet will sound, But until then, We have lots to do. Let's get loving." Thanks, Jane, for your insight and encouragement.

13 March, 2009

More on emotional Japanese mums

I put the question, "Why Japanese mothers cry at the end of year class meetings?" to a bilingual Japanese friend of mine. Here is a summary of her answer: "Because they have to face the fact that their good relationship will finish soon. In the same way, many fathers of the bride cry at the wedding ceremony, because the relationship that they've had will change from then on. All of our teachers were really good teachers. We knew that they tried their best in the class, they loved our children. This doesn't always happen. Some end-of-year meetings no one cries. Also, at the end-of-year class meeting mothers are nervous as they speak about sensitive things. This makes it easier for them to cry." I understand her answer, but I think it confirms my suspicion that Japanese attach more deeply to their teachers than Westerners do. Teachers too, seem to attach to their kids very deeply. It doesn't answer my questions as to WHY do they speak of such sensitive things at that meeting! So, I continue the "month of farewells". On Wednesday the mothers of the children put on a concert/show At the end they played it out as a major tear jerker. After they'd officially thanked the teachers and given them gifts, the teachers made speeches then they thanked all the class representatives and given them flowers; I was ready to go home. Then they pulled out the big gun. They lined the kids up in an honour avenue and the teachers went down and did a 'sayonara high five' to each student! If they weren't crying before then, this one really did them in. Mothers, teachers, children alike! My eyes were wet - but mostly at the apparent agony of others. My son didn't really know what to make of it, particularly as this wasn't the last day of kindy. One more - the graduation ceremony next Wednesday. Then we're home and free :)

12 March, 2009

Final post on the peculiarities of Japanese kindergartens.

12. Then of course you have the events. Sports Day, Summer Festival, Mochi Festival (Japanese pounded rice), Art Show. All of these have varying parental involvement. The sports day being universally the biggest. Our kindy’s summer festival was big, however. All families took turns at looking after their class’ stall. We've just had an end-of-year party/concert organised by the mums of the classes (there are three graduating classes). The mums planned and practised for months - no kidding. I got away with only one hour of decorating the hall on the day. Phew!

13. Sports Day, which is more like a combined outdoor concert and family picnic event. It is huge and a real community event. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, past students and teachers all rock up. The kids have prepared dances and other presentations, like gymnastics displays and practised them for about three months. They also have races! Mostly fairly non competitive stuff, though. Each mum (and grandma sometimes) puts a massive effort into preparing their family's picnic lunch. Many mums get up earlier than 6am to prepare.

 14. Apologies. I don't understand this fully, however, if your child hurts someone significantly, then you are required to apologise to their mother. This often happens by phone and I did have to do it a couple of times. I have a Japanese friend who is a Christian. Her son was so badly behaved that she ended up having an apology party at the end of the year for the whole class! Amazingly several women became Christians as a result! They all wanted to know how she managed to cope when her child was such a challenge.

 15. Socialising. This really underlies all my previous 14 points. Everything I've written about involves language, written or spoken. I've had people ask me, "Aside from the language, what is the hardest thing about living in Japan?" It really is very left brained to try and separate language from all other aspects of Japanese life. It is integral to life. If you don't have it, it is like living your life in black and white. All the interactions at kindergarten, from the greeting as you walk in in the morning, to the little chats with the teacher at the end of the day, to the complicated social interactions that you are dragged into by the nature of the youchien beast...It is all harder as a foreigner who speaks way less than perfect Japanese. It is all tiring and challenging.

Another day I'll tell you some stories about when I got it wrong and the chaos that can result! I am thankful that God gave me some very good friends who were bilingual and the kindergarten was kind enough to put us in the same class as them for three years. Well now, I am exhausted. Good night!

missing my husband

Does anyone else miss their husband, even when he is only away for a night? David has gone to Kyoto for about 40 hrs with a school trip. This is the fourth time he's done it. I just hate it when he's gone. However I feel a little guilty about that feeling, because I know that many others have to deal with this often. One home-schooling military mum of 5 particularly comes to mind. The kids hate it when he's gone too, especially our 3 yo who is acting out today and I'm sure that is one of the reasons! The other reason I feel guilty is that he knows I feel this way. He has been asked if he wants to go on to a conference in Hong Kong in April, but he'll be away 4 nights. I've told him it is his decision; because it is unfair of my feelings to get in the way of his professional development, isn't it?

09 March, 2009

Quote of the day

From the mouth of my 3 y.o.: "I want to be an adult so I don't have to wash my hands."

More peculiarities of Japanese kindergartens Part 2

If you were already exhausted, you haven't stayed the course. There's more to being a mum in a Japanese kindergarten.

7. Class meetings. These are meetings between all the mums of one class and the teacher. They happen about two or three times a year. No children are present and everyone sits around on kindy-sized chairs. Announcements are made. At the first meeting of the year everyone introduces themselves. At the last meeting of the year everyone offers some kind of thanks and memory of the year.

 8. “Volunteering” takes on a new meaning in Japan. At our kindergarten it was compulsory to volunteer for one task in the year. It was a big deal to figure it all out too. At the first class meeting of the year each class had a list of jobs required by that class to do during the year (matched to the number of mums in the class). They ranged from set-up at the sports day to childcare during graduation or announcer at the sports day.

9. Class representatives. Each class had two representatives to the PTA (or Mothers Association, as it is called). These class reps met regularly together and were responsible for organising various class events for the mums during the year. This included a variety of ‘friendship’ meals and pub outings. They also coordinated things like end-of-year gifts for the teacher from the families, end-of-year parties and class contributions to the PTA fete. A big job. This class representative system also continues through into primary school.

 10. Lunches. Japanese school lunches have become an art form. Some mums get very anxious about them. No basic sandwiches. This has become an artistic event, in some cases. You can see some examples at this website. I personally didn’t enter into this and just gave our son basic lunches. Sandwiches and salad during the summer. In our son’s second winter, he suddenly decided he wanted Japanese-style lunches. Especially because they got them warmed up during winter. I had to learn a little bit about Japanese-style lunches at this point, but didn’t get carried away. Some kindergartens provide lunch and this is a big deal in deciding what kindergarten to send your child to.

 11. Times. Our kindergarten (and most, it seems) runs on a 4 ½ day system. All days except Wednesday are 9 till 2.20. Wednesday finishes at 11.50. This is another thing which varied. For the first month all days are half days (April is a long month). Also for a couple of days before any holiday break, the days are half days (no one has been able to tell my why). During two weeks in February they had parent-teacher interviews in the afternoons. This whole fortnight was half-days.

 I have four more points still to come! However I don't like reading long posts myself so I'll keep them back until tomorrow. You might be wondering why we bothered to do all this. We could have found a less 'involved' kindy. There IS a reason behind sticking with it, though. I'll tell ya later alligator.

06 March, 2009

Some peculiarities of Japanese kindergartens. Part 1

I am speaking from my experience of two kindergartens here, but I know from talking to friends that each in kindergarten is different. We probably used ‘high mother involvement’ kindies.

1. Before your child even starts kindergarten mums are busy sewing: bags, place mats, seat cushion cover, towels and bibs. At our second kindergarten, there was a book/general carry bag, a change of clothes bag, a lunch box-type bag and a cup bag. Some of these things can be bought, but some just need to be made. You can see here the efforts of one mother before her child started kindergarten (yochien is the Japanese word for kindergarten).

2. Buying school supplies.

  • Another bag, a uniform ‘school’ bag – was bought. This was only the size of a lunch box and did just that, carry lunch as well as the daily attendance booklet (they put stickers into it each day and the teachers record height and weight every month).
  • Buying indoor shoes. In our first kindy, this was any shoe, as long as it had never been outside. In our second kindy it was a special white slip-on shoe that was easy to find, every shoe store has them.
  • Other small purchases were required, but most of the standard things were supplied (at a cost). The key is that almost everything is standard. Everyone has the same crayons, sketch book, paints.
  • Naming everything, absolutely everything, in the prescribed spot (there were detailed diagrams). This means that even the lids of the paints needed to be named.
  • Naming their play uniforms takes on a new meaning. On the front of each t-shirt a piece of material is sewn with the child’s first name in 20 cm high lettering.
  • Our first kindy had no uniform at all, only a coloured hat (the classes are colour coded). The second kindy had two uniforms. Like a private school, the kids wore a dress uniform to kindy and changed into a play uniform as soon as they got there (reverse on the way home). Except for half days, where they just wore the play uniform.

3. That leads me to the everyday chaos that you have to try to keep a lid on. You have to be aware of what day of the week you are up to, to make sure you send the right stuff and put the kid into the right uniform. This sounds easier than it actually is, especially when you have more than one child in your house. You get into a rhythm as time goes on, but at the start it is like a small nightmare. Lunch on full days, none on half days. Fridays they bring home all sorts of things for washing, like their indoor shoes, towels and even seat cushion cover. So, on Mondays, you have to remember to send them all back again. To add to the chaos, it occasionally changes. Once a month they had a birthday party, which required only dress clothes, not the play clothes.

4. It seems like every second day they bring home vast notices, in Japanese. Often they included must unimportant information, but in the middle you find important notices like: “you need to send a copy of your child’s medical insurance card by this day for the upcoming excursion”. Thankfully I had a friend who, for three years, translated important notices for me. My husband reads Japanese better than me and he also helped out a lot.

5. Medication. I still remember the day that our son’s asthma was bad enough to need medication, but not bad enough to stay home. However I didn’t realise it until my husband had already gone to work. I laboured over a short explanation note to the teacher, which I then asked my friend to fix before I gave it in. This is not that peculiar, I guess, except that it is an added stress for a foreigner who doesn’t write well. Might make you feel sympathetic towards those in your country who don’t speak or write good English.

6. Applying for parking. Our kindergarten has a pretty big car park, but only enough room for about 1/5 of the families (there are about 200 kids at the kindergarten). You have to apply for parking permits. One for general drop/off and pick up for the year. But throughout the year there were other special events which required parking permits. Like the sports day, PTA meetings, art show, graduation, etc. If you don’t apply in time you have to ride or walk.

I have several more paragraphs I could write, but dinner preparation calls. Tune in next time. Maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday...

04 March, 2009

emotional Japanese mums

Today I attended my last official Japanese kindergarten mother's meeting. Over the last seven years I have been to quite a number of such meetings. I have never encountered an exact equivalent to this concept in Australia. Especially the final meeting in the school year. It is a time of announcements and finishing off of details. But the most striking feature of this meeting is that the mums take turns around the circle (very Japanese) and express their thanks to the teacher as well as some remembrance from the year. What amazes me is that almost everyone cries. Today some could hardly speak for the sobs that shook them. Japanese are usually so unemotional in public. Even a funeral I went to some years back, I saw no crying. However in this context of farewell and remembering the year, they get emotional. Of course this time these mums are about to send their children off into the big wide world of school. However, where Aussie mums cry on the first day of school, Japanese mums seem to spend the month before saying goodbye to kindergarten...and crying. The tears aren't over yet. Next week the mums put on a big farewell party/concert for the kids. The week after the kindergarten puts on a graduation that befits a high school or university graduate. From an casual Aussie perspective, it is a little overdone, but then Japan loves ceremony. And they take goodbyes very hard. You might be asking - "Did you cry Wendy?" Well I have to admit my eyes were a little wet. Becuase it was all in Japanese, that negated some of the effect for me. I cannot express my deep emotions in this language and I didn't understand much of what people were saying, so the domino effect of tears didn't work so well for me. I did get a bit teary publicly expressing my thanks to my friend Mrs Uchida, who has translated many things for me during the last 3 years and become a good friend. We've spent a lot of time together, often seeing each other every day and sometimes spending long times chatting before and after kindy. Yes, I'll miss her. I am not sure if I'll miss the whole kindergarten thing, though. I am a bit tired of all the effort it is to be a kindergarten mum in Japan (at least in this kindergarten).

03 March, 2009

Forgotten password

Yes, I'm an expert blogger already. One day in and I've already had to reset my password because I forgot it! At least I remembered my url :-) All that aside, I wanted to write about last Saturday. I wasn't looking forward to it. Usually we have quiet Saturdays as a family, as quiet as a day with three boys under 10 can be. Anyhow, my husband had to work, so it was me on my own with the mob. Having had an extremely busy Saturday the previous week, we weren't having much luck in the restful-weekend stakes. We prayed that God would give me strength and the boys sense, and then got on with it. I couldn't have anticipated how God would answer that prayer. Our eldest son is clever, active, impulsive and usually very self centred. I'd earlier planted the idea that he could help me prepare food for the guests we'd invited to dinner that evening. I didn't dream that he'd end up cooking a dessert, main meal (minus the salad) and mashed potatoes too. He even washed up the breakfast dishes. I think the biggest shock was not just that he did all that work, but it was his attitude. He was so happy to help out. He said "I'm in happiness heaven." At the end of the day he prayed along the lines of "Thank you Lord for helping me see that it is even better to help other people, that it makes you even more happy." For months his mantra has been "If it is not fun, I don't want to do it" to excuse his bad attitude to everything, including Sunday School, so this truly was a change in attitude. Ever since then he has been more open to communication and more positive in submitting to authority. Not perfect, but better. I can't help but think we may have turned a corner.

02 March, 2009

photo album creation

Lately I have been putting together a photo album for our upcoming home assignment. It combines two of my loves: communicating and desk top publishing. This is one of the 13 layouts that I have done so far. Unfortunately it has become close to an obsessive occupation. It has come to a point where I just want to get it all done so that I can get on with all the other things that I need to do to prepare to move out of our house and shift our whole family to Australia for a year. How I've ended up starting a blog in the midst of this, I'm not sure, but I'm sure I could come up with some names.

Compelled to start

After weeks of debating with myself and others about starting a blog, I finally fell over the edge and decided to give it a go. After all, I will never know if I never try. Why "on the edge of ordinary"? As an Aussie in Japan, I never feel part of the main stream - neither here nor in Australia. However, our lives are full of the most ordinary things. For example, I am due to pick up my middle son from kindergarten right now. So...I'd better go and continue my new role as a blogger some other time.