Thursday, December 9, 2010

Returning to Fall in December

It was only 9:30 PM when we stumbled in the door, but it felt like 5:30 AM, which it was back in Utah. After staying awake during the entire trip from Utah, Marin had fallen asleep on the bus. It is a 2 1/2 hour bus ride from the Narita Airport to Camp Zama, and she slept the whole way. She didn't even wake up when we carried her in to bed. She woke at 5:30 the next morning, having had 10 hours of solid sleep! Great! I could send her to school! I hadn't planned on sending her back to school until Monday (and this was Friday morning), but she was awake and ready to be active, so heck, why not!? I, however hadn't gotten that much sleep so I was glad to get her on her way.
When we got to her school her teacher told us that they would be decorating wreaths at 2:00 that day, and parents were invited. Perfect! I was so glad to find out about that! We would have missed a great time had we stayed at home.
After a couple more hours of sleep, I joined Marin at school. She had her wreath ready. Every 1st grade student had a wreath, which they had made a couple months ago from the vines of their Morning Glories that they grew, starting back in May or June, and tended at home during the summer. Now the vines were wrapped into a wreath and dried. Ribbons, colorful ornaments, and painted nuts and pine cones covered the desks of Marin's first grade classroom. Marin was very excited for me to join her in this project, and I was so glad to be there! We had a great time decorating Marin's wreath. Everyone had a great time. Their was an energy of excitement in the room that filled my heart. I don't know what it would be like to do something like this with Marin in an American school. I am sure that would be fun too, but there is something so cool about being a part of an authentic foreign school environment. This is a dream come true for me! ...and I'm living it!!

This is Marin and her Japanese American friend, Tiffany, who is bilingual.

After decorating the wreaths, it was time to pack up and go home. All the kids got their backpacks ready to go, and their yellow hats on. It's a 1st grade thing in Japan---for safety as they walk to and from school. Next year Marin wont be wearing the yellow hat and bright yellow cover on her backpack.
Once all the children were ready, the teacher quietly stood at the front of the room, without a word, waiting for every last child to settle down and stand quietly. Once they all did, they were released to go home.

Marin is 1/3 of the way over from the left.

It was a bright and rather warm day for December as we returned home. The leaves on the trees were bright and colorful Fall colors. We just missed the peak of it though when we were in Utah. The leaves change in late November and early December here. I don't know why.

This picture may not do this tree justice. It is such a bright yellow, and we see it from all the way down the street as we drive home. I love it! But soon the leaves will be gone. Then I'll look forward to Spring, when the Cherry Blossoms come out.

We even have a rose bush that blooms even in December.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thanksgiving in Utah!

Marin is a veteran flier. I've lost track of how many trips she's taken since she was 3 months old---several each year. As always, she traveled well. She never asks when we'll get there (unlike when we're in the car). She loves to watch the TV on the plane and stays awake for hours. She made it most of the way to Utah (about a 24 hour trip) wide awake, or seeming so. When our second flight, from LAX, was delayed, we stopped for food at a nice Mexican restaurant near our gate. Having just seemed wide awake, Marin said, "Mom, I'm tired". She laid her head on her arm and was deeply asleep and twitching in less than 30 seconds! I have never seen her fall asleep like that before! When I woke her up 15 minutes later to eat before boarding again, she looked up, groggy, and said the same thing again, "Mom, I'm tired". This time she looked like she'd been up the whole 24 hours she had been. She's a trooper! Thankfully, since our flight had been delayed an hour, most of the passengers had found other flights, leaving our flight mostly empty. Marin and I each laid down in our own rows and slept!

She's out cold!We landed in SLC an hour before we left Tokyo... LOL! Yes, we gained a whole day. Fortunately, we only had few more hours till bed time when we got to Grandma's house. I slept 11 hours and got used to Utah time pretty easily.

It was our first trip back home since moving to Japan. The biggest shocker was getting used to being on the right side of the road, and driving so fast! And oh, what HUGE roads the US has!!! And the lanes are big too! We are so used to the tiny streets of Japan, which we also share with bikes, scooters, and pedestrians. Needless to say, we have to drive very slow. The two-way roads (alleys, really) in the residential areas are just wide enough for one car. (Yeah it's a little tricky at times! Definitely humorous.) I'll have to do a post on driving in Japan some time.
It took me a few days of being a passenger to feel ready to drive on the right side of the road again. I was startled a few times by wipers loudly juddering across the windshield when I meant to sign a turn. Marin and I had a few laughs until I got used to the turn signal on the left side of the steering wheel again.
Jeff came a week after I did, just in time for Thanksgiving. He didn't give himself as long to get used to Stateside driving as I did, and made a few turns onto the left side of the road! Ach!

Utah got hit with a lot of snow while we were there, and the first dump of it was PERFECT packing snow! It was exactly what Marin had been longing for, and me too! We had a great time building a snowman in my brother's front yard. Then we went to a nearby park and had a fantastic snowball fight! We left Utah 4 years ago and have hardly seen snow since. I have really missed the snow. I felt like a kid again as I played with Marin.

We stayed at Jeff's parent's house, where they were finishing the basement. Marin and I both got to help paint the walls! We both love doing and creating with our hands. (We hadn't brought house painting clothes though, so we borrowed from Grandpa.)

The Anderson girls love to get pedicures, so we made a date of it. Marin loves it too.

My favorite part is the really good foot rub! I don't get into painting my nails though, so I didn't do a typical shade of red or pink. I had them do a shimmery BYU blue. ...It reminds me of EV-1, BYU's electric vehicle that I worked on several years ago with the race car team. I still miss my school, and study. ={

We spent our time well with family, bouncing between my dad's house and my in-laws. Family, on both sides of the family, traveled from Northern Utah and Colorado to gather for Thanksgiving get-togethers. It was so good to see everyone. It really hit us how much we miss being near family. I long to connect with family far more than we can, being so far away. Marin is growing up, and wants so much to be near family. Her best friend in the world is her cousin, McCord, who is 10 months older than her. They love and miss each other so much!!

After 4 years away I'm feeling ready to come back to Utah, next move, if the slim possibility presents itself. Utah is home base. I have moved in and out of Utah countless times through my entire life. I actually like it that way. Utah is great, but I can only take in doses!! LOL . It's not up to us though. The Army sends us where they want us. I had a vivid dream while in Utah that the Army told us that we were going to China next, no choice. sigh Anything is possible.

My highlight of the trip, next to building the snowman with Marin, was getting a night away with Jeff at the Castle Creek Inn nearby. It was wonderful to simply sit and talk, as time together is rare and brief.
We stayed in the King's Lodge room, a huge room that had a pool table.

Jeff and I love bed and breakfasts. We've stayed in 4 now, each one with it's unique appeal. The Johnson Mill in Midway Utah is our favorite so far.

In our last few daylight hours in Utah, I had to stop by The Wood Connection, a little store that sells wooden letters and wall hangings. I think it's well known in SLC, but it's new to me. I was looking to do Marin's name to put in her room. I felt like a kid in a candy store! After selecting the letters I wanted (They have different fonts and sizes) I chose pink and brown scrapbook papers and matching paints, to go on the letters. I am so excited to make them. I'll post them when I do. These are examples they had in the store.

A year and a half was too long, being away from Utah. We plan to return in the Spring for another visit. I would love to get two visits in next year, but that may be wishful thinking.
I sure hope we at least move closer to home next, but again, we could be sent anywhere in the world, which has it's appeal, but home is nice too. Cross your fingers for us!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Parent Observation Day

Today (6/25/10) was a parent observation day at Marin's school, during the last class period. Of course Marin loves it when I come to her school. Can you find Marin in the picture waving wildly?
About once a quarter, parents are invited to come observe the class going about their typical classroom activities. It is so fun, and such a rich experience to be in this foreign class environment. Childrens paintings line the back wall, each signed by the artist, in hiragana, the simplest set of Japanese characters. On large peaces of paper, hung near the front of the room, next to the piano, words to school songs are written for singing practice. The teacher is a very good pianist, as many Japanese teachers are. Every classroom has a piano for the almost daily singing time. On the board is written the study schedule of the day, in Hiragana. The date and month are posted in English so the children can learn a few English words.
This is a Hiragana chart.
Today's visit happened to be during math time. It was interesting to watch the teacher teach math to all these cute little 6-year-olds using big yellow magnetic blocks on the chalk board, suckers in her hands that she would "add" and "subtract", and writing basic arithmetic equations on the board. I couldn't understand much of what she was saying except for the numbers, which are some of the few Japanese words I know. I was surprised how well the kids focused on listening and doing their math assignment while parents quietly lined the back of the room.
It was really fun to watch Marin follow along well enough, even though she doesn't understand a whole lot of Japanese yet. It's a really good thing that they are teaching with the regular numbers that we know, and not their character numbers, or worse, numbers in kanji!! Yes, they have kanji for numbers. (Click image to see better.) After class Marin showed me her "wish" on the bamboo tree. There is a bamboo tree in the hall way where the children each hung a colorful piece of paper on which they wrote a wish of what they want to be. Marin wants to be a Pegasus.She wrote it in katakana on the yellow strip of paper. (left yellow paper) This activity is a traditional thing that the Japanese do at this time every year.

Marin loves her Japanese school. She does very well. I am so glad that she takes such interest in learning! She picks things up so quickly, and she has the perfect personality to send to a foreign school and to thrive.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

School Lunch: Japanese Style

I recently had the pleasure of eating lunch at Marin's school, to get an idea of what Marin experiences every day. Many mothers came to enjoy the same, each wearing an apron, a face mask, a scarf on their head, and indoor shoes. I took this picture off the internet to show you how Marin and her class do lunch every day. The white attire is their lunch uniform. The children serve each other lunch from two short, slender tables that are brought into the classroom just for lunch. One table pulls out from under the other. The Japanese really have their own unique way of doing pretty much everything.

Lunch was served in a classroom in the same way it is every day for the kids, and it was very much like what is pictured above. I really enjoyed it! I was surrounded by Japanese mothers, and I couldn't understand anything that they said. It is such a different experience being in the minority.
I sat next to another mother I met recently who is Brazilian. She has lived here in Japan for 10 years and has picked up some of the language. Other than that, she speaks only Portuguese. We sat together and had as much of a conversation as we could. It was quite amusing since there wasn't much overlap in the words, in any language, that both of us know. Between my few words of Japanese, and a few more words in Spanish, which is close enough to Portuguese, and her limited Japanese, we could communicate a few basic things. She's cool lady and I enjoyed her company.

At the end of lunch a survey was collected. I couldn't write much about the food, except, in romanji, "oishii kata" --- "It was delicious". I had to laugh to myself when I had to look at my name tag to remember how to write my name. It looks like this:
エミリー アンダーソン
How often as an adult do you have to think really hard about how to write your own name? It's funny, but very humbling.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Missionary Marin

I know it's been forever since I last posted anything. So many wonderful and amazing things have happened that I wanted to post, but never got around to it. Life is busy. I keep thinking it will slow down, but then it gets busier. I hope to catch up on some big things soon (cross your fingers), but for now I have to write about one of the most awesome thing that has happened. This one I definitely can't miss.

This afternoon I was sitting in the dining room and overheard Marin in the front room talking to her friend who is not a member of our church and doesn't go to any church right now. I wish I could have recorded what she said. It was so precious. She said to her friend in her sweet little voice, looking at a picture of Jesus that she had cut out of the Friend Magazine and mounted on colored paper, "Do you know who this is? This is Jesus! He died for us. He died on the cross for our sins. Do you know what sins are? It's when we make wrong choices. He died for you, and for your family!"
I couldn't believe my ears! I couldn't have said it better myself. What an awesome little missionary!!!

A couple months ago, we were having dinner at a restaurant and Marin leaned over to tell me a secret. She whispered in my ear, "Do you know what I want to do when I grow up? I want to teach people about Heavenly Father and Jesus." I had no idea she would say that. It was really hard to hold back the tears. I was so touched, and proud! Tonight I told her that she doesn't have to be grown up to teach people about the Gospel because she is already a missionary, a 6 year old missionary. She got a big grin on her face, realizing what she had done. It obviously came easy to her. I am soooo proud!
There is nothing more uplifting and fulfilling to me than sharing the "good news" and watching it change lives like nothing else can.

3 John 1:4

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Halloween in Japan

Halloween this year was pretty cool. Marin dressed up in the same beautiful Afghani dress that Jeff sent home last year. Is it bad that I like to reuse our super cute costumes if they still fit?

Marin loved the whole evening. We went around our little military housing neighborhood and found some pretty cute Halloween displays and lots of candy. Even the fire station down the street handed out candy. Marin had fun with all that, and then when her Halloween bag was full, she was excited to go home and hand out candy to Trick-or-Treaters. She enjoyed that even more!
We were surprised to find that most of the Trick-or-Treaters that came by were Japanese! They were brought on post by their American friends. Below is Marin with a large group of kids that came to the door. One mom wanted some pictures of her kids with Marin, so they all jumped in the picture. It was a lot of fun.
One of Marin's classmates, from her Japanese Kindergarten, came by too, and was excited to see her. When she saw her, she excitedly ran up to Marin saying her Japanese name that basically sounds like Maylin-chan! It was fun to meet Shiun and her family, but the language barrier kept us from communicating much.
Costume contest photo, taken at the commissary.

Sponge Bob!

Marin, handing out candy on our porch.

Spur of the moment photo of a mob of Trick-or-Treaters. What a treat for everyone! The Japanese kids love Halloween. Since Japan doesn't celebrate Halloween, I wonder where they got such great costumes.

Marin was in heaven!

The girl in the white dress is Shiun, from Marin's class. I'm guessing the other girl is her younger sister.

The best part about Halloween was that Jeff was with us. He travels a lot. Halloween happened to fall right between two back to back trips Jeff had to make to Virginia and Hawaii. The military wanted to send him straight from one to the other, but he pushed to come home in the middle of them for one day--Halloween. And then he was able to get home a day earlier, so we got him for nearly 48 hours. He's almost home from the second trip now, and then we get him for 3 weeks before he's off the Northern Japan for two weeks. Our time together is very precious. Halloween would not have been the same without him!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Crazy Busy

Yes, I know it's been forever since I posted anything on my blog. I haven't forgotten about it. We're just busy. We've had a lot going on since then end of August. All at the same time we moved into the house, I started school at the Education center on post, and Marin started school at the Japanese school (which took a lot to prepare for and get used to). Also, Marin has taken swimming lessons, violin lessons, plays on a soccer team, and is in Girl Scouts. Jeff, has played softball and flag football, and I have been busy with school and several church callings and Relief Society activities. We really jumped in with both feet, and then found ourselves busier than we realized we would be! Jeff doesn't mind being busy, busy, busy, going from one activity to another with no down time, but that doesn't work for me. I need flex time and breathing room.
Here are some pictures from recently, in no particular order.
toputonatthechurch! Yeah, pretty much just like that, all in a couple hours time. Phew!
Marin playing soccer. She's in blue, with her hair braided. Can you find her?

Marin in her summer uniform, going to catch the little yellow school bus. The car is our Honda CRV.

This is the picture I took at Marin's school of the things I had to go find at a Japanese supermarket. A picture says a thousand words--in any language!!

Marin with Girl Scout friends.

There is Marin hanging on to the fence, watching Dad, #77.

These are all Marin's school supplies that I had to label with her name on every individual piece.

Marin loves swimming! Here she is floating with the help of her teacher, Mei.