Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In a galaxy not so far away.....

Tonight I decided I was going to walk the path around the soccer fields while Abby had her practice. I was looking forward to listening to some good music, and getting some long overdue walking done. However, Mateo decided to join me, and talked nonstop the first 3 miles about Star Wars.  After a while, I had all I could take, and tried getting him onto a new subject. I asked him if he could visit any country, which one would he choose? He looked up at me, and said, "Any of them, as long as you're there with me!" My heart melted. He is going to be quite the Casanova in a few years!

After that question was answered he talked the next two miles non stop about what he would buy me if he's ever rich. As we were heading to the car, he told me that he had fun talking with me, because normally he doesn't think I care about Star Wars, or like to talk about it with him.  It caught me off guard.  The truth is, when he gets on one of his tangents about Legos, Star Wars, or whatever show he's into that week, I normally tune him out. I often compare him to a Golden Retriever. Once you throw that ball for the first time, that dog thinks you're in it for the long hall. He doesn't care if the slobber is grossing you out, your arms are tired, or if you have some place to be.  He's feeling joy, and wants it to continue for as long as possible.  Mateo is like that in the fact that if you at all show any interest in what he is talking about, he's going to talk non-stop about it to you for the next 45 minutes, whether you want to listen to him or not.   Usually when he's talking my ear off, I pretend to listen. I'll throw in an "uh-huh", or some other type of non-verbal grunt to let him think I'm paying attention.  When he told me how much he enjoyed our hour and a half conversation, it really made me think about how important it is to listen...even to the stuff that's not important to us. Every one of us wants to be heard. I know how it makes me feel if I'm trying to have a conversation with Aaron while he is watching boring golf, or football on t.v., and I get one of those grunts.

 Now my desire to walk alone with just my music to keep me company doesn't seem as appealing anymore. I need to treasure this time I have with him, where our dialogue is this simple.  In a few years we may be having discussions about his heart being broken, tests being failed, cars smashed, and how poor we're going to be after paying for his college tuition. Those don't seem nearly as fun as talking about his favorite part in Return of the Jedi, or if I think Yoda ever had a girlfriend.

 I'm looking forward to my next walk with Mateo.  I think I might even do some research, so I can add more to the conversation than a grunt.  Oh, and by the way.....I can totally see Yoda with a Wookie as a girlfriend.
Obviously I'm not living abroad anymore, but I'm still "A broad", so I shall continue to use his blog name. It's been a long time since I've had an entry, but it's nice that it's still active, so that I can go back and read my earlier entries. Looking back at the pictures, and seeing how young the kids are, it seems like it would've been year ago that I did these prior blog entries. However, it seems like yesterday that I moved back to Washington from Japan.

Here's yet another attempt and trying to keep up a blog. I have the best intentions, but something always seems to distract me (it's kind of like dieting and seeing a big piece of cake, or fried pickles).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bunko! (pictures coming soon)

So much for my short lived ambition to blog at least once a week. I totally left everyone hanging during the holiday season, and well into the new year. Now I have to play catch up so I can share some fun events that happened.

Let me take you back in time to December 26th.............

While I was in the states during the Summer, I was lucky enough to find a wonderful women named Sondra to take my English classes for me. I couldn't have left my students in more capable hands, and she developed a friendship with the moms who come to my conversation class. She had been promising to invite them over for some authentic Tex-mex food from her native country (yes, I consider Texas it's own country). We were also invited to partake in a fun game of Bunko.

I have not played Bunko for many years, and had long forgot to rules. This was the first time any of the Japanese mothers had played. It was hilarious. Normally you get excited over a good roll of the dice, but they were clapping and cheering for even the slightest amount of points. And the moment a Bunko was achieved (resulting in 4 dice of the same designated number), you would've thought they won the lottery.

I am currently planning a Bunko party for March, I hope it'll be as much fun as the last one.

*also, I will be adding pictures as soon as Aaron returns home with the SD card.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Neighborly Fun

Unfortunately fate has dealt us the ugly housing/horrible location/insect infested, card. We live back in the corner of housing, way off a dead end street. Where as other units surround small parks, ours is nestled against a "jungle". If it weren't for my wonderful neighbor Dacia, I would've probably found a desperate way a long time ago to get moved to another unit.

Abby's friend Karissa lives in an area that has a park. This is just a little bit down the block, and seems to be a "Mecca" for kids. There is constantly kids playing, and neighbors chatting. I am constantly jealous about the little community they've formed back there. Luckily they have made us honorary members, and were nice enough to include us in the gift exchange they planned for the neighborhood kids. The kids drew names a week ago, and we congregated at the park on Friday to have a little party. Some of the moms brought cookies and other snacks, while others brought the fixings to make hot chocolate (my favorite fixings were the ones that included peppermint schnapps and cool whip).

Both of the kids loved their gifts. Mateo got an action figure that came with a car, and Abby got a Hannah Montana purse that she could decorate herself.

As it grew darker, and colder one of the moms brought out a fire pit, and we huddled around roasting marshmallows. Mateo was having an overly independent moment and wouldn't let me help him with his Marshmallow. I was paranoid that he was going to swing his flaming confection at one of his friends sardined next to him, but luckily we avoided that nightmare.
It's easy to feel a little sad and complacent when away from your family and friends back home during the holiday season. But I've come to realize that everyone here is in the same situation, and we can fill that void by doing little things like this. I've been having a hard time with Christmas cheer this year, but I'm starting to feel the tingling of it.

Fa ra ra ra ra....Tis the season

On Monday Aaron was able to play Santa at the school I teach at. Of course it didn't come without the major stress of not knowing if his ship would actually let him off, even though he'd had it approved a month beforehand. All I could picture was 350 Japanese children waiting for a Santa who never shows up. Luckily he was able to get the morning off, but then we still had to stress out about him getting back in time to do a drill at 1:00. Luckily things went very smoothly, and passing out 350 bags of goodies went by much quicker than we anticipated.

This of course leads to Friday. Once again Aaron was supposed to play Santa, but this time at a "Nursery" school which is owned by the same man who owns the school I teach at. Rather than stress out about Aaron being able to actually rely on his prior approval to get off, I enlisted the help of a man named Neil who is in my Japanese class.

Neil proved to be a great Santa, and was encouraged....if not begged to come back next year. Neil is pretty skinny, so he looked more pregnant than fat in the Santa suit. The little ones could have cared less, and were quite convinced that he was indeed the real Santa.

My favorite part of the day was seeing the little kids dressed up in their homemade costumes. Last year I was very confused as to what the costumes were supposed to be. This year I was able to plainly see that the youngest class were elves:

And the next class were obviously.....uh, urrr........Scarecrows???

I had to ask Yoko Sensei that I teach with about that one. Apparently their scarecrows wear those Chinese, rice paddy hats. Whatever they were, it was adorable.

At the end, they gave Santa (and myself) a treat, by singing Silent Night. Go figure they can sing it at schools in Japan, but not at most of the public schools in the states. Here is a short video I took of the students and teachers singing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Game of DUMP

Last year when my mother was visiting, we hit up the 100 yen stores to see what "novelty" items she could bring back. Of course this means looking for innocent, but offensive "Engrish" items, and other useless items. Kudos to mom for finding a "Dump Set". I looked for my own after she left but couldn't find one. I came across this one the other day while at the 100 yen store in Zushi.

The name of this card game is obviously funny, but I think it's the directions in English that provide the most entertainment.

How to play dumps (over 5 years old)

1. There should be more than 2 people.

2. Each person put one pasteboard dump on the ground (floor)

3. Decide the order by rock, paper, scissors. (This seems to be how everything is decided here)

4. Strongly put down the pasteboard dump you've put on the ground. If the wind you've made by that action turn someone else's pasteboard dump over, you can get it.

5. If you get other's dump, you can continue to attack. (my personal favorite line)

6. If you fail getting other's dump, you just leave your pasteboard dump on the ground, and other person get to attack.


*Play dumps where it's safe outdoor.

*When you're indoor, play dumps in some broad places looking out for people or obstacles near you.

*When children play dumps, make sure let them play near adults. (no thanks, please dump elsewhere)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hakone Trip part III: Lake Ashi and Hakone Shrine

After we left Owakudani, the bus took us to Lake Ashi where we boarded a boat that would take us to the other side of the lake. The boat was very pretty, but it had limited seats, and by that time all we really wanted to do was sit down and rest.

After we got off the boat, the bus took us a block to our large, expensive, gift shop. We looked around for a few minutes, and then headed out back to get some pictures of the lake. I spotted some big, stuffed pandas that looked like they were for climbing on, so I told the kids to go ahead and play for a few minutes. When we got closer we realized that they had a sign that said 200 yen on it. We had no idea what they did, but slipped a coin into it anyways.

The panda then started to play music and walk. Aaron was able to catch a really quick video clip of it before it stopped. It's really short, but it's still cute to hear Mateo laughing at the end.

After we left the giftshop, we drove to the Hakone Shrine. It was very pretty, but unfortunatly I had a hard time getting pictures of the Tori gate that is in the water due to the sun's position.

We walked a billion stairs up to the Shrine at the top, and I spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out where to get my Shrine book stamped.

Finally, after asking the Souvenir sales lady 3 times in my broken Japanese where to get my stamp, she finally said "parking"......if she had said this the first time, I would've realized that I had to walk all the way down to the bottom of the stairs which I had just come up to get it. I came so close to going into the monk's office to try to get my stamp. Glad I hesitated on that one, and turned back for better directions.

After the Shrine we made our way back onto the bus and headed home.