Jan 30, 2012

Dear Grandma,

Dear Grandma,

Sorry i waited so long to get my letters sent out. I actually ran to the post office this morning before work and got it in the mail, before I found out..
I'm sorry you'll never get to read it...
Hope you are well, wherever you are. Love you.

Jan 29, 2012

Snowboarding! And a Haircut Finally.

A week overdue.  Was rather tired this past week and never really felt productive when i got home from work so i put off updating about the trip until now.  This weekend has refreshed me a bit (and every muscle in my body is no longer sore anymore!) so hopefully this week will be more productive. :)

So first, Friday the 20th.  We surprisingly finished work like, an hour early.  R-kun who usually ends up staying the latest of all the kids got picked up a quarter til 6, so after he was gone there were no more babies or kids, and no English students that evening either, so we were able to quickly clean and get closed up.  M-sensei and i went and got some food to eat at the convenience store across the street from the daycare, then ate our dinner back in the building while Mr. Big Bear drove up to the arena, the first rendezvous point for all the people on the trip.  One of Mr. Big Bear's friends is a bus driver so we had our own little private tour bus for the trip. (I'm beginning to feel like Mr. Big Bear has a friend in every profession!)
A little after 9pm M-sensei and i headed down to wait in front of the building where the bus would pick us and a couple others up around 9:30.
There were about 20 people in total, including Tecchan and The Otaku, Tecchan's mom, and Mi-chan, all of whom are my students.  And a lot of other people i didn't know!  Everyone was pretty friendly, and while a couple tried out their English on me for a bit on the bus, the rest of the time everyone kept to Japanese.  That was quite refreshing as sometimes it's kind of frustrating when everyone just wants to talk to you because they want to practice their English.  Mi-chan actually spoke to me the whole trip in Japanese, even though she speaks English well enough with me when she comes in for English lessons.  :)  
Anywho, it was about a 3-hour bus ride.  I sat in the back at first, where there were side-facing seats around a table which was piled with snacks and of course alcohol.  A couple hours in though i wasn't feeling so good from sitting sideways so i sat in one of the forward-facing seats next to M-sensei.  
When it turned midnight, everyone sang Happy Birthday to Tecchan, as it was his 19th birthday!  Haha, so young still.  xD  Then around a quarter after midnight, one of the guys in the back asked when we'd be arriving, because he really really had to to pee.  He decided he couldn't wait the 20 minutes so asked the driver to pull over as soon as possible, which he did, and then said guy plus Tecchan and one other guy got out to go pee in the snow.  Guy who initially requested the stop said he was going to try to write "Happy Birthday" in the snow for Tecchan.  Everyone was cracking up and some people started singing some Japanese song about peeing in the snow... i don't know, it was crazy!  Then Mr. Big Bear poked his head out the door of the bus and started laughing at the sight of the 3 of them lined up along the side of the road.  When they came back in the guy was talking about how he couldn't get all the way through "birthday", and how the 'B' looked like a 'P' or something of the sort.  Hilarious bunch!

We got to the pension house around 12:30am and then everyone divided into their rooms.  I was with M-sensei, Mi-chan and Mi-chan's friend.  There were bunk beds 3 stories high!  I wish i had thought to take a picture, because the top bunk was scarily high.  But i decided i wanted to sleep up their anyway.  We got to bed finally around 1:30am after a little chatting and snacking on chocolates.  ;)
Me, Mi-chan, and her friend in front of the rental shop!
 Woke up the next morning at 7am to eat a really good, Japanese-style breakfast and get ready for a full day at the slopes!  One of Mr. Big Bear's friends spent the whole day with me coaching me.  For the first couple hours i thought i'd never get the hang of it, but slowly and surely i started to get a little better at it.  It was exhausting and i was sweating even though it was cloudy and snowing and cold.  I had to take off one of my layers and my hat and scarf even.  It would take like 5 to 10 minutes to walk partway up a fairly flat incline and then wedge my boots into the board, and then only 15 seconds to slide back down (and inevitably crash at the end)!  I think we were there from 9am until about 4:30pm.  By the end i was feeling pretty comfortable on the board, and everyone who passed was telling me to "Ganbatte! (Do your best!)".  They all also kept saying, "明日一緒に滑るといいな! (I hope we can ski/board together tomorrow!)", as in take the lift up and slide down... i wasn't to sure about that though!
We had a really good dinner waiting for us after we got back and bathed (some people went to the nearby hot spring for a bath.. i wanted too as well though i had to opt out...).  The food there was all really really good!  Then after dinner we all headed down to this little lounge area for drinks and chatting and games.  It was really nice and a lot of fun. :)
Headed to bed exhausted around midnight, then got up again around 7am again for breakfast.  Only half of the people went to the slopes on Sunday, the others were too exhausted and opted to soak some more in the hot springs.  I was really sore too but wanted more practice on the board so i went back with Mi-chan and her friend and Mr. Big Bear.  He got me a lift-pass so i could try the slope for the first time!  I was really nervous but once i got going it really wasn't so bad.  I did start to get a little too comfortable the first time down and ended up starting to go faster than i wanted, and when i went to try and brake my board stuck and i belly-flopped into the snow, giving my neck a bit of a whipping.  YAY!  But i got right back up and ended up taking the lift up about 4 times!  The last time i slid down with Tecchan's mom.  It was weird to me to see all the adults on snowboards like that, but cool at the same time. :)  

Mi-chan making a Mi-chan print in the snow, in front of the pension house :)

Finally on the lift!
Pretty view from the lift!  And that's Tecchan's mom on the one in front of me.

Around noon we headed back to the pension house for lunch and to pack up.  We loaded the bus and were back on the road home around 2pm.  We got to watch Home Alone on the way back but most everyone fell asleep, lol.

Everyone all tuckered out!

Mr. Big Bear is talking about organizing a smaller, 1-day trip sometime next month.  That'll be good if i can get some more practice in this winter. :D 

Also, in more recent news, yesterday i finally got my haircut!  I don't even remember the last time i had my hair professionally cut.  Not even once last year.  I trimmed it a couple times myself but that's it.  And i finally dyed it to get rid of that awful orange it had turned to after the reddish had faded, like, months ago.

Before and after!  If i smile i look weird, and if i don't smile i look frightened/annoyed.  What to do...
And while i wanted to keep the end a bit longer in the back, oh well, it'll grow out.  I'm just happy it's no longer orange and shaggy.  It was decently priced too (no tips!), PLUS the scalp and shoulder massage i'd always heard about.  *melts*

Jan 19, 2012


While the snow is wreaking havoc back home in Seattle (as it seems to do every year), i'm leaving tonight to head to Gunma to go play in it!  My first snowboarding experience ever.  :)
I'll leave you with some entertainment while i'm gone:

Just woke up to this: Tokyo's first snow of the season, yes!

Remembering Snowmageddon 2010

I like how the city kinda falls apart when it snows


Jan 11, 2012

Of Pee and Spit Bubbles

Surprisingly i don't have any poo stories yet *knocks on wood* which would be expected from working with babies.  I have changed my fair share of diapers but still, nothing noteworthy.  
But today was filled with pee!  
M-sensei asked me to change A-chan's diaper while she went to go get their after-nap snack from upstairs.  As i was taking off the old diaper i noticed it was completely dry.  I just thought, "Oh well.. she must not've peed yet but i'll just change it anyway."  No sooner had i taken it off than i was greeted by a pee fountain.  I tried using the now crumpled-up diaper as a stopper but the changing towel, the floor, and my hand had already been hit.  Yay.

Before that had happened though, Baby R-kun had woken up before naptime was over.  M-sensei was holding him on her lap trying to get him settled down for another 20 minutes or so.  That was not to happen, as the sudden flood of pee that came was apparently too much for his diaper to hold!  M-sensei lifted him from her lap in surprise like, Ack!  It had soaked through his diaper and clothes and got her pants too.  She promptly changed him then went upstairs to change into some clean pants herself. 
While she was gone, i was trying to entertain Baby R-kun and keep him from walking over still-sleeping A-chan.  I don't know exactly how it started... i think he was just babbling and when he went "maaaaah" it formed a spit-bubble.  I laughed and made a spit-bubble myself.  He found it so amusing, so he sat there and kept going "maaaaah, maaaaaah, maaaaah" and making spit bubbles.  It made me start laughing, which in turn made him laugh, which kept me laughing which kept him laughing.  I'd them make a few spit bubbles and then he'd laugh which would make me laugh, and so on.  I don't know why it was so funny to us, but this whole back-and-forth went on for a good 5 minutes! 

Oh, and i swear Baby R-kun and Ri-chan's bums were having a conversation.  First a "poot-poot-poot" from Ri-chan, followed by a "poooooooot" from R-kun.

Good thing i've always found potty-humor funny.  I'm sure i get it from my mum.  ;)

Jan 9, 2012


I've been very hungry today for some reason.  I guess i really haven't been eating too much but i have been going to snack on something every couple of hours or so, lol.  Maybe to make up for the few days last week when my stomach was wonky and didn't want to eat anything.

Thought i'd share one of my snacks that i made today, as it was really quite tasty!

Prepping these took all of 5 minutes, it was super quick.  Take a sweet potato and wash it well, then slice lengthwise.  Drizzle lightly with vegetable oil of choice and toss to coat, then sprinkle with sugar and/or brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Spread out on a baking sheet and pop in the (toaster) oven until cooked through and slightly crispy.  (For my toaster oven, i put them in at 550 watts for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through).  If you like things extra sweet like me, drizzle with a bit of honey when they come out of the oven.  I inhaled these all.  Sooooo good!

One of my go-to "dinners" when i don't want to cook is temaki-zushi, because i always have a bunch of leftover rice in the fridge.  And i usually have a package of nori-sheets in my cupboard too.  This time it was Korean seaweed, my souvenir from the Sunbeam.  :)  

For me it's always just rice, cucumber and a little squeeze of mayo, but you could definitely get more creative and try putting in some canned tuna or other seafoods or veggies too.
For your health!

Jan 4, 2012


Jumping into the New Year

So, i really don't remember ever doing New Year's resolutions- probably because i would make them and promptly forget a week later- but i was inspired by other bloggers to make a short little list of things i'd like to improve or work on this year.  It'll be fun to go back at the end of this year to see how much i have failed!

1.  Limit my "playtime" on the internet, and try to do more productive things.
2.  Study more each night, and start studying for the JLPT Level 2
3.  Take the JLPT Level 2.
4.  Drastically cut back on my sugar intake.
5.  Get more active.
6.  Drink more tea!
7.  Improve my sleep schedule by going to bed between midnight and 1am, and getting up around 8:30am.
8.  Get my haircut at least 2-3 times this year.  (Last year i didn't get it cut even once!  I usually cut it myself every few months but it's hard to see the back of my head, and it's just gotten way too frumpy.)
9.  Sophisticate my wardrobe.  Jeans and t-shirts are fine for a high schooler, and maybe even a freshman/sophomore in college, but i'm really starting to feel too old for a lot of my clothes now..)
10.  Travel to at least one new place.
11.  Pay off my credit card.
I think that's it for now.  I know there are a lot of really vague goals, but i think vague works better for me.  Let's see if i can remember to try and stick to these!

Jan 3, 2012

Celebrating the New Year, in Pictures- Pt. 2

Finally in 2012!  With a group of high school guys who accosted us for a picture, haha  :p

The line to get to Meiji Shrine

The high schoolers/our entertainers during the 2-hour wait

Finally in view of the shrine!  Waiting to get close enough to throw in our 5-yen coin and pray

First meal of the year- udon at 4-something in the morning

First sunrise, blocked by clouds

S's pup, Ryu!

At the shrine near my place.  Got some yummy, spicy tteokbokki

Got our omikuji.  Mine was... kinda bad?  Curse with future blessing??

Tied my fortune up with the others so my bad luck won't follow me

Lots of tied up omikuji

Heading up to the shrine for more prayers

J and S and S's pup have all gone back home.  The place is quite, and it's back to work for me tomorrow.  Luckily there's only 3 days of work this week, and then since Monday is a holiday i get a 3-day weekend to help ease me back into full-time work.  Thinking about actually doing resolutions for this year, so will probably make that a post for tomorrow.

Jan 2, 2012

Celebrating the New Year, in Pictures- Pt. 1

Exchanging Christmas gifts at S's place

J's gift- a semi hard porch!

Vietnamese sandwich at Denny's

They'll eat their food, and then your soul

Snacks!  Including some very expensive refried beans.  But ohhh, you have no idea how happy i was when i finally found some

Our Christmas cake

Taking a walk in Mito

Cooking at S's student's house- caramelized sweet potatoes

Rolling the datemaki

Made osechi ryori- gave the chicken to J, but i did eat those onions.  That glaze was delicious

J stirring the mochi

Drinking with some new friends~

Heading to Meiji Shrine to ring in the New Year..  we made it to 2012 together!  <3  (And i look like a ghost)

Jan 1, 2012

Year in Review

This year has been crazy in many ways.  Looking back at the beginning of 2011 is like looking back at a different life- so much has changed!

*2011: Moved in with S and J and rang in the New Year together with some other friends in Seattle, at the Space Needle.
*Applied to the JET Program and was rejected.
*Applied to Amity.
*Finished my last ever quarter of University and graduated in March.
*Sadly ended a nearly 4-year relationship.
*Spent a month in Phoenix with my family and met my nephew (older sister's boy) for the first time.
*Came to Japan in the end of April with S, on a tourist visa with no job waiting for me.
*Spent an amazing month traveling around the country and seeing old friends.
*Spent a month in Osaka trying to find a job, before finally coming back to Tokyo to take a temporary job.
*Went to South Korea to get my tourist visa "extended".
*Finally found a job at a daycare, moved from the guesthouse/school into my own apartment.
*Rang in the New Year this year, again with S and J, this time in Tokyo at Meiji Shrine.

Glad to have had my best friends with me to ring in yet another year together.  Hopefully we can do the same again next year. :)  Will post pictures of the past few days soon.

Happy New Year's, everyone!  Hope 2012 is all you hope and make it to be.
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