Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015

I can't believe that it is already 2015, where does time go?
Last year was a lot harder than I thought it would be!  All the books on grief I had read and peoples experience said that the second year after the death of a loved one was the hardest!  I thought the first year was hard but everybody was right, the second year really sucks!  Most of the first year I was in fog of shock, nothing was real!  I would wake up and hope that it was all a bad dream and Hisao would be downstairs waiting for me!  As the second year wore on I realised that this is my life, that things weren't going to change unless I made the change.  AND I DIDN'T WANT TO!!!!
I wanted to go back to what I thought of as my "real" life, the normal daily round of chores and work with Hisao!  The first half of 2014 I thought I was okay but as the heat and humidity of summer started I realised that I was actually very depressed.  Being physically unwell during the summer really pushed me down. I didn't want to do anything, even the daily chores seemed liked a burden that I couldn't face.  I thought about going to the doctors but decided that being drugged up wouldn't help at all!  I looked around for some inspiration to help me move forward out of my depression, and I found it in my children.  I made myself slow down and watch the kids and what I found was they have inherited different aspects of Hisao!   David shows me the patience that Hisao had when dealing with the electronics in the house.  David set up another computer (the one I usually use is really old and makes a lot of noise).  David found out how to connect all the computers we have to the internet, he also took out the old DVD player and video machine and set the TV up again!  In Hannah I see Hisao's artistic side, he loved to paint and draw.  Hannah spends ages drawing.  She has decided to join the art club next year in junior high school!  With Christopher I see Hisao's love of math.  Christopher has no help with is high school math but he is able to deal with it and always gets good points on his tests!  And in Mikey I see Hisao's ability to put his best side forward. Even when Hisao was sick he would always be cheerful infront of the students, he would never bring people down by being miserable around them!  Mikey is the same.  I have seen Mikey looking really tired and rather down but when he goes to teach it is like he flips a switch and is cheerful and full of energy!  This realisation dawned on me slowly and I found that I am really grateful for my kids.  They give me a reason to go on and a reason to change, to be a better person so I can be a better Mom!

So 2014 was a learning time for me, a lot of internal learning!  2014 was also a time when I realised that without Japanese I can't be independent.  So I guess one thing I have to do is get down to some serious study this year!  Oh Help!

2015 will bring a few changes.  Hannah will graduate elementary school and start junior high school. Christopher has to decide on which university he wants to go to.  David is hoping to get a part time job and Mikey wants to study for some qualifications for teaching English!

So Happy New Year to everybody.  Let's hope that it's good!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

We had three days of celebration this year!  Although my husband passed away on the 18th we hold a celebration of his life on the 23rd!  I cook up his favorite food, we sit around talkng about him, remembering all the things he did and watch a movie together.  Nice, simple way to remember Hisao.
I cooked up pork miso soup, tempura, chicken, sashime and a salad.  All things he loved, there again he loved whatever I cooked. Even when I messed up the dinner he never complained!

Hisao's dinner
Christmas Eve was busy for me!
Every year I think about wrapping the presents before Christmas and every year I leave it until the last minute.  I did better this year, I had most of the presents wrapped but still had to spend about an hour to finish.  Would of been less but the tape was keep getting stuck to everything except what I was wrapping.
I spent most of the day in the kitchen.  I made a trifle, chocolate pie and a cheese cake.  Did party food for dinner.  David made nan bread and wrapped sausages in it, very nice.  With pizza, salad, eggs, cheese and pears we had a lovely dinner.  Watched Patch Adams, kids enjoyed it!  Also det up the kindle fire that was a Christams present for all of us!
Christmas Eve dinner

David's sausages wrapped in nan bread

Christmas morning Hannah tried to drag me out of bed at 6am.  I made her wait another hour!
Both Christopher and Hannah got up just before 7. Both excited to see what they had gotten!  Of course Hannah got a load of stuff, 3 DVD's!   Christopher got a lot of books and some game that he wanted!  The other boys wandered down a bit later!  We spent a very lazy day, watching TV and messing around!  I cooked up chicken this year.  I thought about getting a turkey but they were very expensive and to be honest the kids aren't that impressed by it!

Christmas Day


Today I have to teach and try and find my kitchen again!
I think everybody had a great Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Last Week of Teaching

So all the Christmas Parties are finished.  We have a few extra lessons to do but we are finished for this year and I am so happy!  I love teaching and Mikey gets better at it all the time but it can be very draining, especially teaching kids.
The last week we did parties for the kids, played some games and Mikey did a little magic show for them, we had a lot of laughs and I think everybody had a good end of year time!  For me it was exhausting, I did the usual cookie bake, made over 200 this year, not as many as last year but still a lot.  My oven is small so it takes forever to bake the cookies, the mixing is easy and quick, it really is the baking that takes the time!
Saturday was the hardest day for me.  Mikey was invited to do 3 magic shows, in 3 different cities!  So I was left to teach 8 lessons, I haven't done that many lessons in one day for years!  I got through it okay but was totally wiped out at the end!  Mikey came back exhausted as well.  He had a good time.  I am still getting details but the one place he went to had over 300 people!  He also went to an old peoples home, he likes that and always has fun with the elderly.  He can be very charming and warm, the young kids and old people really love him!   I remember when Mikey was a baby I had dreams of him becoming a doctor or lawyer, somebody with a fancy title.  Doing magic was not on the radar but he is so happy when he performs and he makes others happy!  I think this is better than any fancy title.  He doesn't get paid for his shows, just transportation fee and some gift, but he gives his whole heart to the show!

In some classes the kids won pretend money for using English or doing well on their prints, they used the money to get a small present.

Mikey doing magic.

Some kids really got into the party!!

David helped to cook when I was busy, this is fried rice, made from scratch.
So now I have to finish shopping, tidy up the living room and get ready for our Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Two Years

It is hard to believe that two years have passed by since Hisao died! Where did the time go?
This year is somehow harder!  I feel my memories of him are further away than before, if that makes any sense! 
I try to face my grief head on but this past summer it felt as if grief was too much for me to handle. I wanted to run away and hide from my feeling but I know that doesn't help in the long run.  So I put my brave face on and worked through the pain to a bit better place.  I also realised how easy it is to fall into self pity which is not grief.  There are questions to which there are no answers, why me? why now?  why does my family have to suffer like this?  But then why not me? why not now?  why not my family?  We are all equal under God and other families are suffering more than mine.  Falling into these questions doesn't help at all, they just produce negative thinking and an unhealthy self pitying attitiude.  Grief is not linear, it is a tangled web of emotions, I can feel sad and happy at the same time.  I can have hope and feel despair at the same time.  I am both fine and not fine! 
I have learnt a lot this past year, I can cope with more things than I thought, I can put a brave face on things and smile through my pain, even if it means curling up and crying after.  I can make decisions by myself and help my kids with the decisions they need to make.  I am slowly finding confidence in myself!  The year has been hard and I guess every year will be hard but I will survive!

Ten years ago!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh Bother

I had great plans for last week.  I was going to start the Christmas cookies and get most them done before the parties this week.  But then we got sick!  Christopher and David missed the worst of it but Mikey, Hannah and I got hit by some kind of virus that is making the rounds.  Poor Mikey couldn't keep anything down for about 24 hours and had a fever of 38C.  Hannah had a fever and felt really sick for 2 days and I was holding onto a cold that had lasted for about 3 weeks.  Mikey and I went to the doctor and got loads of medicine!  The medicine I got had very interesting side effects, I was sleepy but really high!  At least the kids got a few laughs out of that!
I managed to get the cookies done on Sunday, spent 5 hours baking and still need to do some more today for the last few days!  Our students are being treated to home made cookies and a magic show for their Christmas Party this year, from the amount of laughter I hear from the teaching room I think they are having fun!
Talking about fun, I think my kids are just about cracked up.  Some evenings when I am teaching I can here laughs and giggles from the living room.
Here a few photos to show what nut cases my kids are!

The tree grew arms

No comment

Mikey "I am the boss"

I will post some photos from our parties later!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Busy Nice Week

The past week has been busy but with nice things, not just work busy!
Last week I  went to Hannah's school for a couple of hours. Three times a week Hannah attends a special education class.  The class is for kids who are having a hard time. Most of the kids are special needs kids or kids with learning difficulties.  Hannah attends to get one to one help with Japanese, something I can't do!  
The teachers in this city organised a Christmas Party for the kids and parents,  maybe from 3 different schools.  Hannah was the MC for the event.  I was very proud of her, she stood up and said her piece in front of about 30 people.  She welcomed everybody and between each activity would explain the next activity!  The first activity was for the kids to get to know each other. Each child had made a name card and had to exchange the card with other kids.  Hannah took care of some of the younger girls who were rather shy, she got down on her knees so she was eye level with them!  There was a quiz on the latest popular kids cartoon.  I was amazed that most of the parents knew the answers as well as the kids!  Then another game and then we went to the Home Economics room to make hot cakes together. 
All in all a nice afternoon.  I think these events help the parents to connect to their kids.  Some of the kids seem to on the austic spectrum and can be difficult to understand and deal with!  I was reminded yet again not to judge people by what they look like.  There was one mother who if I had seen her at a store i would think that her life is perfect, expensive clothes, jewelery, not a hair out of place but her son was a real handful, he was a special needs kid.  When i looked more closely at her she looked exhausted!
A few photos from that afternoon.

Hannah's name cards

Hannah talking to one of the younger girls

On the weekend we went into the city.  I wanted to check out one store, to see if they had anything for Christmas, plus I wanted to see the Christmas lights.  When Hannah and I saw this area on TV news the lights looked really nice.  I know that many times TV and reality can be very different but this time the area was decorated very well.  There was a Christmas Market with snacks, mulled wine and Christmas decorations on sale.  A bit expensive but I got the kids a pizza and I had mulled wine, first time!  Rather nice but a bit strong.  There was a stage set up and when the lights came on a 5pm a group gave a short concert.  I was impressed by them, the harmony was tight and the girl who sang "Let It Go" actually manged to hit the right notes!
A nice day but exhausting. 

Rather cold at the train station

the lights

After our day out we all got hit by something that is going around!  Christopher and Hannah both had a day off school.  Mikey spent most of last night throwing up!  And I have a sore throat and headache. David seems tired but not really sick.
Never mind!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's Begining to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I am always amazed when I got to the shops at this time of year, everywhere there are signs of Christmas, trees are decorated, Santa's on every counter, and big sale signs.  Shops are getting very clever at getting money out of people.  I saw a big sign for Christmas cleaning goods, usually the cleaning stuff is on sale for the big cleaning before the new year!  The one thing that is missing is the real reason for Christmas, the birth of Christ is basically unknown.  There are a few christians about but this is not a christian country.  I always feel something is lacking in the way that Christmas is only about getting presents and having nice food!  Even the focus on family is not there!  So as always I am looking for ways to share about Christmas with my students!  One thing is reading the nativity story in Japanese!  We have a card game based on the popular Uno game, each card has a different question on, it really helps the kids to speak English.  One question shows a typical nativity scene.  The question asks to identify the different people!  This leads into telling the real Christmas story!

Our house is being decorated for Christmas!  As I said we got our trees up and decorated.  I still have to sort out the lights.  I make the same mistake every year.  When I take down the lights I just dump them in the box, not folding them up properly.  Then when I take them out they are all tangled up and it takes ages to sort them out!  I will learn one day!

Hannah fighting with the tree

The entrance

Teaching room tree

Almost finished

David after I threw flour on him!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Shopping

Last week I had 3 days holiday, so I decided to get my Christmas shopping done!
For 2 days Mikey, David and I tramped around these massive shopping malls and I came up empty!
I got a few things but not what I wanted!  One problem was the price of stuff, I know that prices are going up but some of the things I saw were just crazy expensive. Another problem was not knowing what to get for the kids!  I did manage to get a few things for Hannah and Christopher but only a book for David and nothing for Mikey!  I still have time but I was hoping to have things done so I can focus more on things here!
We did get the Christmas tree up and most of the decorations out.  David and Christmas trees are not a good mix!  He managed to somehow pull the big tree over on top of him!  Then he made me loose count of the flour I was measuring out!  I got mad so I threw a handful of flour on him.  All good fun .
I'll get some photos tomorrow, no battery in the camera at the moment!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Baking, Cooking and a Broken Water Heater

As the weather cools down I spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking.  This year however I haven't felt up to it until the past week or so!  My seasonal allergies have been extreme and sneezing while baking is not nice!  I didn't do so many halloween cookies for the students so I'll have to make up for it with the Christmas cookies!  The past week I have been baking for the kids.  I made banana chocolate cake, banana coffee muffins (too many black bananas!), snickerdoodles, chocolate pie, apple pie and chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I hope to have chance to bake today and am trying to decided what to make!
One reason I can bake so much is that David has taken over cooking dinner.  He is getting very good, he not only cooks but thinks up the menu and does the shopping. If he cleaned up after that would be perfect!  Last week he made pizza from scratch, nan bread base and homemade topping with a nice light soup and salad.  He cooked up a chicken dish and some fish also.  Most days he has ideas about what to cook, takes a load of pressure off me!
The big problem the past couple of weeks has been the water heater!  Some mornings there was no hot water at all.  Then in the mid morning it would start working only to stop again later!  The worst part was trying to take a shower.  Sometimes the water would be nice and hot then suddenly run cold!  Not nice at all!!!  We called the gas company and they sent somebody who had a look and decided that he had no idea what was wrong.  Another call two days later resulted in a new control which has so far worked.  Somebody is coming on Tuesday to replace the heater and I hope that is the end of the saga!
A few pictures to end with!

When it rained for days on end we let the dog in for a while

David with his fish, he cooked this up very nicely

Chocolate Pie

David's Pizza
Poor Mikey with a bad allergy attack, he spent ages steaming his nose to try and cleat it a bit!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Helping Hand

One the way home from the supermarket last night, Mikey and I , saw an old woman struggling with her bags.  She would take two steps, put her bags down, take two more steps and stop again.  It was dark ( this is after 9o'clock) and very cold.  We both felt sorry for her, so I got out of the car and offered to help her carry her bags for a bit.  I wasn't in a rush and felt that the least I could do was help her get off the dark, narrow road!  I took her bags and asked her which way.  She said she was okay and not to bother but it was obvious that she wasn't okay.  I walked with her a few minutes, chatting, in my bad Japanese, about the weather and how difficult it is to have to walk in the dark.  It felt good to help out.  Until I got back to the car!  Mikey said that according to his friends it is not a good idea to help out.  If something happens to the person while helping out, the person could blame you!  When I thought about this I felt that maybe the old lady thought I was trying to steal her food or that it was too much for her me helping her.  I went to bed feeling really guilty for helping out this old lady.  But then I wondered what kind of society do we live in where wondering if a good dead will come back and bite us stops us from helping out!  What do you think? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Oh dear

I've become a bad blogger!
The past few weeks I've either been busy or sick or busy and sick!  Finding the time and energy to write has been impossible.
So here is a quick update.
October 18th David, Christopher, Hannah and I went to Fukuoka for a University Fair.  Universities from all over Japan came and set up booths.  It was a chance to see what is out there!  This one problem I have, without language it is difficult to find out things like this.  If Hisao was still here he would be doing all this for me but I have to try and figure things out for myself!  So off to Fukuoka we went.  One of the worst days to use the train.  Besides the University Fair, Softbank Hawks were playing at home and the local soccer team were also at home.  Talk about crowded!  I was amazed at how many kids were at the University Fair, it was crowded. Some people came as families but most kids came with their High School, there must of been at least 40 buses in the parking lot.  We talked to a few places and found a course for Christopher.  We are still cheeking a few places but so far this looks the best!

The front of the train station

Near where the University Fair was held. it was a lovely day.

After that things went down hill for me.  I got hit by really bad allergies!  This happens every year when the seasons change.  But this year was really awful.  One morning I sneezed for over five hours, non stop.  By the end I felt as if my face was going to explode!

The Halloween week was great fun for the kids! Mikey really went all out to make it fun for the kids.  I could hear them laughing and giggling!

Halloween Fun
Another thing that has happened is that both Christopher and Hannah got rewards from school.
Christopher took an English test, part of a competition for all the Commercial High Schools in Saga. He got the first prize! 
Hannah got a reward for her summer homework!

Christopher's medal, it's very heavy!

Hannah's award

And of course the kids love to tease the dog!!

I am sure I've missed out a few things but that is all for now!