Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The one where Debbie was too hot to be creative so she just 'randomed' it

Good evening!! I'm going to make this as quick as I possibly can (yeah, right, you say!!). I have procrastinated enough this evening and as it is coming very quivickly upon 11:30 p.m., I see that I am once again going to put that "but I do my best work when I push the time frame" theory to the test. (Hey....it has worked for me for almost 25 years....can't see it failing now..."knock on wood"!!)

**And yes....I know I wrote "quivickly"...I meant to do that...!! {{smile}}

Tomorrow, my very fun class...aptly named the "Sunshine" class...is having a cooking lesson. The things we are going to make are not so difficult, but...we are working on cooking terms and following directions and I still need to finish up some of the prints and then double check the groceries....Koji and I went shopping today and I have this little-teeny-itsy-bitsy feeling in the back of my mind that I have forgotten something....something really important. So...I better get in there and get that done!!!
I'll post pictures and a report in a day or two....This class is one of my favorite classes....anything we do, I can guarantee that it will be fun!!!

Here are some photos that I wanted to post and thought that a slide-show would be the best way to do that!!! Go ahead...watch...I'll meet you after you're done...go on....

(Sorry...I just watched "the show" and it moves pretty quivickly (!) and you might want to pause if you want to read the captions....or not...you might just want to speed through...whatevah!!)

Before I go and attempt to get things done and it gets too late....thought I'd let you know that today, July 29....is the day, 17 years ago, that I first came to Japan. Hard to imagine that I have been here for so long....even more so when I think that originally, I came for 10 months...maybe a year. Really. When I left South Texas, I took a 'leave of absence' and put my stuff in storage down there...fully expecting to go back in a year.

Funny how things work out, huh?!

And just for the record...if you are wondering 'why' I came in the first place....I'll tell you later. I'm in a pretty good mood right now (at 11:33!) and thinking nasty, ugly thoughts tends to make me cranky. Let's just say....there was a man (and I use that term "man" very lightly!)....and then, there wasn't. 'Nuf said.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

So....what do YOU think??

1 Dave Matthews song + 1 Total Kick Ass Female Singer = A Great Combination

Go ahead....watch...and then discuss amongst yourselves...I'm going to watch it a few more times!!! I've always had a bit of a 'girl crush' on Stevie Nicks...and man oh man, but she just gets better!!!
(I remember, in high school, waaaaaay back....driving around in my VW with Susan, CindyLey, Danette....with Fleetwood Mac in the 8-track...yeah, uh-huh, I said 8-track...and just singing our collective hearts out...any song from the Rumors~~Go Your Own Way, The Chain, Dreams.....~~album brings back a rush of wonderful memories spent with some really great friends!!!)

Now...as I wait until I can go and pick up my little camper, I'm going to do some much-needed blog reading. Seriously...a couple blogs have really piled up (you possibly know who you are as I haven't commented in the last 15 or 17 posts....so sorry and am bowing downing in your directions!!!)

There are a couple of blogs I read where the comments are almost as good as the post itself. It has been so freakin' hot back here in my little part of the house, I really haven't had the energy to just sit and read.
Well....my goal for today is to get through the 135 posts sitting in my BlogReader...I have my jumbo-sized plastic cup filled with ice water and I am ready to roll!!!
You all have a great day!!

I'll try to report on the camping trip tomorrow!!! I'm sure he'll have tons to talk about...as will the other 23 kids who went!!! Those 4 teachers deserve a few days off, don't you think?!?! (I hope they get some kind of bonus for doing this!!!)

It's amazing the difference a 6-year-old makes....

...or really....the lack of one.

No...nothing happened to Koji, but...he has been gone for a bit and...well...let me explain.

Koji is in his last year of daycare here. Really, he is a kindergartner, but...as kindergarten is not a part of the public school system (it's all pretty much private), he is an unofficial kindergartner. Many of the things they do at daycare, run parallel to the private kindergartens....when they get into 1st grade, you can't really tell who came from what kind of 'school'.

Every age group at the daycare has a name....the baby group is the Tampopo gumi ("dandelion group"), then the something-gumi (sorry...forgot!!)...on up to the last group, the top group, the highest group, aptly named, Fuji-gumi (as in Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 meters....which is exactly how many grams Koji weighed when he was born!! uh-huh!! Kid you not!!)
Anyway...because this is their last year, the Fuji-gumi kids do a lot of fun stuff. In the fall, they take ice skating lessons for about 8 weeks....which Issei still talks about!!! They go on special mountain hikes, swimming days...but the best and most fun thing they do is....go camping....with only teachers....for 2 nights!!!!!

About 3 weeks ago, we had to get his backpack ready and take in in for the teachers to check to make sure that we had packed absolutely everything that was on the very long and extensive list. Inside the very large backpack was: 5 different plastic shopping bags, each with Koji's name and a number (each bag had a specific set of items...#1: 1 pair of shorts, 1 short-sleeved t-shirt, 1 pair unders; #2: 1 pair of shorts, 2 long sleeved-button down shirt, 1 pair unders, 1 short-sleeved t-shirt....and so on!!). There was also a bag for "extras" such as toothbrush, swimsuit, bug repellent, 2 cups of rice, a cleaning rag, and shoes to wear in the river.

After the teachers checked the bag...it came back home...and sat....in the entrance way of our house. It was like a scab that gets picked just because it's there....."Can I look inside?" "Is the camp today?" "Is the camp tomorrow?" "Can I see what's in there...I think I forgot." I finally after 3 days put the bag in a closet where he couldn't see it and be tempted by it.

Finally....the day arrived to go to camp. On Thursday...early in the morning, we double-checked to make sure that nothing had mysteriously disappeared from the bag....and off we went....
The ride to the daycare was filled with singing of camp songs and lots of nervous conversation (on his part...I was just listening and trying to concentrate on the road!!!)

His backpack was so big....I hope they didn't have to hike very far to the cabins!!!

Koji and his teacher doing a last check and putting a special name tag on his bag.

The energy level in that room was almost unbearable!!! One of the other mothers and I were talking and we thought that, as adults, we couldn't think of anything short of winning the lottery that would have us that excited!!!!

Right before I left him, I told him to "not cry for mommy"....to which, and I kid you not on this, the little turd rolled his eyes at me!!! And then he said to me "Mommy, too."

And no...I didn't roll my eyes back to him....I just said that I would try to be strong and not cry. He smiled at that....and not one of those "ah, my Mommy loves me" smiles....no, it was one of those "Yeah, you're gonna miss me" kind of smiles!!!

Funny thing about that....last night and tonight....strangely quiet here at the Kuroiwa House. No fighting...no bickering...no messes in the living room...it's been really, very....nice. Though Issei said that he didn't sleep too well last night, even he mentioned how quiet it was without Koji.

Tomorrow (Saturday) at around 2:00 they come back...after hiking, campfires, playing in the river, looking for bugs, doing fireworks and all the other stuff that goes with camping, I'm sure he'll have lots to tell us.

And...sadly....our short-lived quiet time....will be over.

~~sigh~~It has been great while it lasted!!!


Flamingo Friday

I have just started watching Boston Legal on FOX. As I am a fan of David E. Kelly's shows (or most of them), I really do like this one....so far. I'm not so sure though that the character that William Shatner plays is really too far from his true personality....but...the other people are funny and I do love the relationship that "Denny Crane" has with "Allan Shore". The last few minutes of each show are quite fun and sometimes actually moving to watch. But...I've always been a great fan of James Spader and even with the 50 few extra pounds, he is still quite sexy...IMHO!!!
And really....a flamingo suit and a martini...looks kind of fun to me!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Aah...it's official...it's summer!!

Yes....I know...most of you have been out for summer vacation since March May or June, but for the kids here, the vacation started on Friday.

Summer vacation here....and summer vacation in the U.S......very different.
First of all....the kids all have homework. Yes....homework. And not just a few pages either....Issei has about 45 pages of kanji practice (the Chinese characters that are 1/3 of the Japanese writing system) and math. Then....he has a book called the Ajisai Noto....which would be translated to "Hydrangea Notebook". (FYI...the hydrangea is the official "flower of Nagasaki"). This book is grade appropriate....and every elementary school student in the city gets one. Inside is a variety of things to practice...math, science, kanji, Nagasaki history and information, other bits of this and that, and since Issei is a 5th grader, he also has some cooking and some sewing. You can imagine the excitement around here for that last one!!!

Each student is also encouraged to do some sort of project....to be turned in and displayed for all to see. Over the years, Issei has done two reports on his trips to Colorado (one year a poster with pictures and another year he made a really great photo album with explanations!!), a calendar made of rocks (yeah...we were pushing the deadline on that one!!) and my favorite was two years ago when he participated in a workshop at the art museum making things with old sports equipment. His piece was actually chosen to be shown at the city-wide exhibition!!!
This year, he is threatening to do something with bugs......we'll see what happens.

Another very important part of the summer holiday is the rajio taisou, or "radio exercises". In our area, there are three places the kids, parents and grandparents can go (Me? Oh no...I'm barely able to get my coffee made at that time of morning!!)....Issei goes to the school as it is the closest place. This year, since Koji is a kindergartner, he also goes....and he is so damn excited about it. Everyone has a special card that is signed when the exercises are finished and for those who go every single day, there is a prize. I'm not sure what that prize is since no one in our family has ever gone every day...I'm thinking it's probably juice...or a notebook...or pencils.

So....this morning, I woke them both up at 6:15, they got dressed and went to the school. The exercises start at 6:30....everyday, mind you....and last about 6 minutes....and then they come home....and drive me crazy for the next 2 hours until we leave for work/daycare/big-kid daycare. Issei does work on his homework...Koji also has his own "homework" book...a "getting ready for 1st grade" kind of book. Again...he's so excited about this, too!!!

Anyway, the exercises are a very long tradition here in Japan....you can sometimes catch (if you are lucky!) people in offices, bus drivers before they start their shift, pretty much anyone doing these exercises before their day starts!!
At the schools, before ANY sporting event, EVERYONE will do them. The music is the same. The exercises are the same. Someone said that the routine hasn't changed in over 50 years!!!

So...I went to YouTube and found you a video to give you an idea as to what most of the kids here in Japan are doing everyday, at the "butt crack of dawn".

**Oh....and listen...over the music and you will hear another very important part of summer in Japan....the semi (/se-mee/) or cicada. You know it's summer when this is pretty much all you can hear.

(The video is about 6 minutes long...I'm not expecting you, unless you want to, of course, to watch the whole thing...but, it is kind of interesting!!)

To me, it's just a long warm-up....for some jumping.
I'm usually laughing while I'm doing this!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Today was a good day...Oh! And we went to hell!!

Today....it took a little bit longer and a lot more java to get this butt out of the futon and ready to "seize the day". Last night, a good friend of mine had a "45 and still alive" party to celebrate the passing of another year. There were about 10 women (no men!!), most of us deeply entrenched in our 40's....good food...vrrrry zexy owner/cook of the place we were (and yes, he did get some major negative points because he smoked...but...we still looked! It's really a good thing he didn't speak English...he might have felt terribly used and abused!!)...and of course, quite a bit of beverages were consumed. After the restaurant, 5 of us....from 5 different countries, mind you...headed over to the karaoke place and proceeded to sing our ever-lovin' hearts out for the next 2 hours!! (Oh...and drink Coronas!!). Let's just say that the singing started out with The Love Shack (Baby!)....after a bit..... Day-O...Sweet Home Alabama (as the only American, I felt it was my duty to sing that!!)...and then the evening ended with a wonderful rendition of I Am Woman, sung by everyone! Oh...and did I mention that most of the time we were standing/dancing on the sofas?!?! But...the highlight was when we (thanks to the idea of the Birthday Girl) ad-libbed a song....she picked a Korean song and we each had to sing, using the background video as a guide. Let me tell you that...damn...we were good!! And fuuuunnnnnyyy!! It was a great evening full of "friskiness and whimsy"....but....I'm not as young as I used to be so.....I needed quite a bit of Advil along with my coffee this morning to get going!!!

Today was the annual Nagasaki Hula Festival where 96 groups all performed one song on stage....not at the same time, silly...and really...not the same song either!!
This year, the group I belong to decided NOT to join....it really is time consuming, expensive and, well...pretty much a pain. So, we will perform every two years. I went anyway to support my sensei (teacher) and the students of hers that I know.
So...while I was watching some of this.......

(**and yes, this is a picture that was taken a couple of years ago....Why would I put a picture of someone you don't know?!?! Like someone in another blog that I read said...."this is all about me me me!!")

Anyway....while I was watching a whole bunch of hula-bula-mommas.....

my boys were at the river...frolicking...and two of them got naked!!

They picked me up and since the day was freakin' hot...we headed for the mountains to where it was much much much cooler!!!

While we were there, we went to one of our favorite places for some cold noodles. In the summer somen noodles are a special treat...they are eaten cold and are just yummy. Sure, I could just cook some up, throw them in a big bowl of ice water and we could eat them that way...but....no...not today. We took a drive.....for somen nagashi, which translates to "floating noodles"....the boys say "swimming pool noodles"!!!

Here is where we went... Each table has fresh spring water that fills the "pool" and flows around and around....

We ordered the noodles that are eaten with a broth that you add chopped green onions and grated ginger. We also ordered karage...which is a spicy fried chicken that tastes like nothing you have ever eaten before. Sooo delicious. (No...that does NOT go in the water!!)
So...you turn on the water...dump in some noodles....oh, did I mention that the water is almost ice cold? Using your chopsticks, you catch noodles as they go floating by. Very nice, fun treat on a hot and humid day!!

After eating, we drove over to Unzen, the town that is at the base of Mt. Unzen (the volcano that erupted about 17 years ago!)....there is a National Park (Japan's first!!) that is called Jigoku....or "hell". The natural hot springs are amazing there....when we first got there, we put our feet in the foot bath.......and then took a walk through "hell". Even though the temperature was not so hot here, the heat and steam rising up made it seem as if we were walking through a steam-bath. Oh...and the smell!!! Gotta love the lovely aroma of sulphur!!
As you walk along the area, you can see lots of bubbling places...and lots of these....
...Each one of those pipes leads to a different hotel or onsen (hot spring). All the establishments get their hot onsen water from this area.
"Up from the ground came some bubbling.... hot freakin' water!!!

This was Koji's first time here....it was great!! After we walked around for an hour or so....we decided to go to an onsen....we found a really old place..very quaint up the mountain a bit. After having gone to so many fancy-schmancy types of hot springs....this one was a wonderful, simple break. The place looked, to me, like two wooden grain silos standing next to each other...one side for men, the other for women. Each side had only two baths, one that was "oh my God" hot...the other not so much, but with streams of water coming from way up high to sit under....a natural massage! I was talking to one of the ladies and she told me that most of the people in the bath were neighbors. They all got special passbooks where they could take a bath pretty cheap...she said that she would go there 4 or 5 times a week.

I was thinking that sounded like a good idea...but, now....as I sit here at my computer with a still very strong sulphur smell on my skin....no. As a special treat, okay...4 or 5 times a week of smelling like I just got a perm all over my body?? No, thank you. But....if it meant that I could spend another day with all my boys like the one today....then I might reconsider!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Pulling teeth just might have been easier"...another adventure in parenting

Today....was the last day of school for the first term....officially, we are now on 'summer holiday'!! Now...by "we"...I mean...Issei. Not me. Not Koji. Not the K-man. And by "summer holiday" I mean "you don't have to go to school for 7 hours a day"....and "yes, you still have homework pretty much everyday...and then some!!"

Yes...Issei's school is out for vacation until the first of September. The students will go back on 2 days....one being the teachers' payday (but the students don't actually get any money...I'm thinking it's just a good way to check up on the students!!) and the other being August 9, for the Atomic Bomb Memorial Ceremony.
Plus...Issei and most of the kids will go to school for the daily "rajio taiso"...or 'radio exercises'...at 6:30 in the freakin' morning...may I say "the butt crack of dawn"??? But...more on that particular aspect of summer in Japan on Monday (ya'll come on back now, y'hear!!)

Issei's report card was something that I wasn't really looking forward to getting. I love my son, but...the child really doesn't like to study. No amount of yelling on my part, or "dangling of the proverbial carrot" would work. At the end of the 4th grade, he got his best marks in "Plays well with friends." But, we were happy for those marks and celebrated them!!

So...today we were all quite pleasantly surprised that he actually did a really good job!!! Not a lot of checks in the "woot woot...you done good!!" column, but...he did get more in the "you did a good job" column than in the "oh man...you better get your butt in gear, son" column!!! (The energy I have spent trying to help him find his homework, do his homework, actually get the homework turned in and NOT stuffed in the bottom of his backpack, has been phenomenal!! It would drive a weaker woman to drink, I tell you!!!

I think what I was most excited about was the look on his face when he was looking at the card and actually seeing for himself how much better he did. I wish I could have captured the look on his face when the *wham* realization hit him that, why...my goodness....Mom is right...it DOES feel good to do a good job!!! Now THAT was a great moment in Momdom!!

One of the last projects Issei had this term was a sewing project. And if anyone out there reading this is from my high school and can remember how long it took me to actually get anything sewn, (I think there is still an unfinished dress or down-filled jacket somewhere in my stuff!!) then the following will come as no surprise!!!

Here is Issei with his new sewing kit....complete with the 'practice material' that he has to do and turn in.

Getting started took a little bit....this was taken right before a melt-down erupted. It really wasn't very pretty!!! Mom trying to help was just NOT what he needed right then. Our main problem was that Issei doesn't have the English vocabulary for this particular activity and I was pretty much sucking in trying to explain in Japanese. ~~sigh~~
(and yes, I was looking particularly fetching that evening..I know!! Move on!!!!)
So...Daddy stepped in and showed the boy how it was done. Gotta love a man who knows his way around a needle and thread!!!
And then...after about 2 hours of stitching...ripping out...stitching again...he was finished.

And here are the things that he had to do.....sew buttons...tie knots...and then do some sewing of Chinese characters and his name. Not bad. And you can't even see the blood that I'm sure was shed in the finishing of this project!!!
Personally...I'm looking forward to the cooking part of his class.....THAT we can do!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just all a part of the preparation....

Nagasaki is getting ready for a very important day.

This is the Peace Statue that stands (sits!) at the top of the Peace Park, very near to the hypocentre, the place directly under the explosion of the atomic bomb on August 9, 1945. In the Peace Park is the "Peace Symbol Zone", there are 15 statues from various countries and cities around the world that have been donated to the park in the name of PEACE.
When you enter the park, from the south side, you must pass by the "Fountain of Peace"...a beautiful fountain that resembles the wings of a dove in flight. Walking through the park, it is hard to imagine what it was like here, 63 years ago. This part of town is probably the most beautiful, I think...walking through the trees and flowers and all the beautiful statues...it's so very nice.
At the north end of the park...stands the Peace Statue.
He is 10 meters tall and was created by a local sculptor.
The statue is full of special meaning: His right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons while his left hand, reaching out, symbolizes eternal peace; his closed eyes offer a prayer for the repose of the bomb victims' souls. The folded right leg and extended left leg signify both meditation and the initiative to stand up and rescue the people of the world.
Installed in front of the statue is a black marble vault containing the names of the atomic bomb victims and survivors who died in subsequent years.
On August 9, as in every year, the people of Nagasaki will gather here, for a memorial. The Mayor will give his Peace Declaration to the World. Thousands of people will gather here as they pray for those who have died.
And we pray...for peace.
Even though it is the summer vacation, all elementary, junior high and high school students will attend school on this day. Each school will have some sort of memorial ceremony...and then at 11:02, a city-wide moment of silence.
I am very proud that Issei volunteered to be a member of the Peace Ceremony for his school. He and the other 5th grade members have been meeting with the sponsors and making plans for what they are going to do on that day.
I have a few friends and students who are survivors of the atomic bomb or Hibakusha (被爆者, ),which literally translates to "explosion-affected people". The K-man's father, though not here at the time of the bomb, came soon after to help in the aftermath and was included as hibakusha in the records.
Yes, this is a day for sadness...for prayer...but most of all...it is a day with the underlying idea of hope. And for that...we must get ready.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some wonderful stuff from "the jungle"....

Motivation. Hmmm...I wonder where mine went.
I have been sitting here at my computer for the past couple of hours and other than check out twenty or thirty a few videos on YouTube and "play with" some pictures, I haven't really gotten anything accomplished. My Google Reader is up to 118 posts that are patiently waiting for me to read.....and though I really do want to go and read them all.....I'm having a hard time doing just that. Am hoping that "this too shall pass" and I'll be ready to kick some blog-reading-butt tomorrow night!

Today....when I was outside hanging out some laundry (SEE!!! I did get something accomplished today!!), I realized that, smooshed in the middle of the K-Man's raspberry bushes and the cactus that has gotten out of control....there is this growing....

Seriously....I didn't even know we had a gladiola planted!!! What an incredibly, wonderful surprise!!! The best thing is.... it is in a place where it can't be stepped on and will be safe...until someone decides to cut it and put it in one of my really nice vases in the entrance way of our house!!!

I also noticed that our kinkan (金柑) tree ("kumquat" tree) is blooming!!! Kumquats sound so exotic, don't they?? I have to admit that, until I came to Japan, I had never actually seen one...let alone eaten one!!! The blossoms are very tiny, white flowers that smell......very sweet. They have a honeysuckle-ish aroma...except about 10 times stronger!!! Kind of like a honeysuckle on speed. You don't really have to get very close to the tree at all...from a few feet away you can smell the sweetness. And....you can hear the bees!!! Lordy, lordy....we got ourselves a bunch of buzzin' going on right now!!!

The fruit of the kinkan is small and orange, sometimes round but usually oval in shape. They are very small....the boys usually just grab some off the tree and pop them into their mouths...eating the whole thing in one bite!! The neighbor ladies will come and pick most of what they can reach (and ones that haven't been eaten by the boys!!), when it's time, and they make a marmalade/jam that is great in hot tea.... especially, if you have a sore or scratchy throat....the kinkan jam with some honey in a cup of tea is really good.

Aaaahhhh.....and now a little something for me ..and you, too, if you're into this sort of thing {teehee}.....if not...just keep going...there's nothing more for you here. See you again soon!!! :-D

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Some "randomness" and a whole lotta linkin'

Its Sunday, about 5:36...and I am knackered.
We spent about 2 hours in the back yard, pulling weeds and getting rid of the jungle-ish look about the area. Now....by "WE"...I mean "I".....and by "back yard", I mean "the area behind our house" because we don't really have a "yard" in the terms of what most people would think. What we do have is some dirt, a lot of really nice trees and plants and whole lotta pretty weeds!! Oh....my kingdom for some green stuff that you would actually need to purchase a lawn mower for. We have a weed wacker that we use sometimes, but with the boys around that thing just becomes an accident waiting to happen...so I like to call the manual labor, 'gardening therapy'.

Today...the weather was absolutely beautiful. The temperature was about and this means I'm just taking a wild-ass guess 90 degrees. The K-man and I were talking last night about how it is hot,yes, but...the humidity is relatively low, not so high...yet. It is still nice. But.....if there were a contest of "how much sweat can pool in your eyebrows"....I'm thinking there would be a good chance that I would win. Yes, I was a raging beauty today....but the yard looks good, so that's all that matters.
Oh...and by the way...if there were a contest of "how much can you whine and complain and not really do anything but work really hard to get your gloves on and then complain that you're thirsty while your mom does all the work"......there would be a tie between Issei and Koji!!!
So...in my general cleaning today...I had to say "good-bye" to my absolute favorite travel cup. A very dear friend was at Starbucks and saw this for sale and because of the flamingo design, thought of none other than yours truly. I love it!!! But...sadly...as it has been dropped a couple of times over the past few years, the bottom developed a leak and water had gotten into the inside of the cup. I'm pretty sad. This is one thing that will be hard to replace. **sniff sniff**

Did you know that Crocs made these cutie-patootie rain boots?? They belong to my friend, Tomoko's little girl, Aiko-chan. Both Koji and I thought that those boots looked "just like something Aiko-chan would wear" and that we both really wanted a pair!!!

Oh....how I would love to eat some of this right now. Somebody....go.....eat some for me, okay?

In my cleaning on the inside of the house today...I found this card I had bought a few months ago. It's an Eric Carle print. Isn't it great?!?!

And now...for some good ole' bloggy-type lovin' bling to pass on. The other day, I found this had been given to me by my new very good friend,
M.E. at "nextdoor2myex" and I was just thrilled to get this award!!! See how pretty she is!!! She is the "ArteYPico" award...and I think I'll keep her!!

Here are the rules for this little beauty:
For those that were nominated:
1. Pick five (5) blogs that you consider deserve this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and also for contributing to the blogging community, no matter what language.2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.3. Each award winner has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.4. Award-winner and the one who has given the prize have to show the link of “Arte y Pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award (http://arteypico.blogspot.com/)

There are many, many people that I would like to pass this on to....A couple of the blogs I had first thought of have already received it (if you got it from someone else and I read you, I was just late, I guess!!).....So...here are my nominees for this award (in no particular order!!):

1. Lauren who gently pushed me into this whole blogging thing to begin with. She was one of the first blogs I ever read and with the Presidential election coming up, she keeps me 'up' on the Democratic-side-of-life. Though I don't agree with absolutely everything, she makes me think.

2. Marie Millard is one blog that truly makes me smile. Her sense of humor and way of looking at life in general, is nice. She does have a wicked way about her, so I'm glad I'm on her 'good side'!!

3. Though Lauren helped get me started in this blogging adventure, Gina helped me make it a part of my daily schedule. It was her idea back in February to post every single damn day!! It was great!! I didn't win the challenge, but I did get a few really good prizes for my efforts!!! Her daughter is also a blogger and she, too, is going to be a force to be reckoned with someday!!!

And now for the "whatever language" part of this award...there are two people I want to give this to:
4. My very good friend, Noriko was a student of mine for a couple of years, until her husband was transferred to a place, though still in Japan, very very far away from Nagasaki. Her blog is in both English and Japanese. She was one of my favorite students...but the breads and cakes she would make for class made her a favorite with everyone...that and the fact that she's really cute and fun!!! She has never lived in an English-speaking country, but thanks to her very strong determination to study this language, she is now studying 'translation'....she is amazing!! The pictures she posts are also so beautiful.
and finally....
5. One of my newer friends, Mr. Farty...though technically an English blog...he is from Scotland so I sometimes find that reading a Japanese blog might be easier!!! I love his sense of humor...his weekly music quizzes that never fail to stump, yet tickle the crap out of me, his Merkan-English Dictionary that has shed light on quite a few misunderstandings.... and as I read his posts, I have Sean Connery's voice in my head making it sound very cool. Mr. Farty wrote about a comment I had posted on his blog , "Lola - (that's me...Lola Divine) FSM forbid that we should mess with your head, it wouldn't be fair to pick on a poor farm girl who's been plucked from the Merkan midwest and then dumped unceremoniously in the middle of a foreign land. As it were."
The man is a nutter and is definitely deserving of this award!!!

And with that....MY job is done!! Have a good Sunday, everyone!!
(Now really...will someone go and eat some of that ice cream and then tell me how it was?!?! Thank YOU very much!!!)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A note to my friends.....

Because I've been, more or less, like this for the past few months weeks.... ....combined with a bit of this.....

.....and since our backyard is starting to resemble this....(I honestly expect to have Tarzan come sweeping down through the trees when I go back there to hang out the laundry!!)....
THIS is going to be me....at least for today and tomorrow!!

**Did you giggle and wonder about the apron? But of course, I have six or seven one....uh-huh...oh yes, I do....except mine is blue, not pink....I wouldn't be a "good Japanese housewife" without my apron.
If I say that things have gotten out of hand here at the Kuroiwa House, then you can believe it's really bad because I can pretty much tolerate a messy house....to a point. And...we are at that point!!!
So......I'll be back tomorrow....got some good stuff to post (IMHO) and some vrrrry cool bloggy bling-type stuff to pass on to some great friends.
Wish me luck...send me "good cleaning" vibes...
Have a great day!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tired Tuesday.....

So....did I mention that the rainy season is over. Did I also mention that when the rainy season is over, it pretty much gets hot....and humid here. Well, my friends, it is going to be a long summer because there is not enough baby powder in the world that is going to keep me and certain body parts...mainly "the girls" dry...if today is any example of what is to come.
My favorite part of the day is when I'm trying to fix my hair (because I am NOT one of those lucky ones who can just "wash and go"...nonononononono...there must be gels and blow drying and sprays involved.) Oh...I can get it all done in about 15 minutes ('cause I'm good, don't ya know!!) but....the fun actually starts when, as I'm trying to get my hair just right little beads of sweat are rolling down my face. Yeah...that's pretty. Okay....happy place....positive thinking...let's see...okay okay okay...got one....
The pores of my face are going to be sooooo clean....I'm going to look so young...hell, people will probably think that I'm 15 years younger, I'm going to have such a glow.
yeah...okay...whatevah!! {smile}
So....some stuff to smile about then I'm off to read the 80-some new posts that are waiting for me in my Google Reader!!!

Can you see what this sign from an eating establishment says?
"The Groval Buffet by ROYAL"

So...I'm thinking...."just what kind of restaurant IS this? What if I just want to go in and order something off the menu.....do I have to actually beg?"

Okay.....so knowing the Japanese way of thinking and writing....this really should have been

"The Global Buffet"......but, I'm thinking that I kind of like it better the way it is on the sign. It's kind of....wild, don't you think...a challenge in buffet eating? I told most of my students about this and they all got a huge kick out of it...."Oh pleeeeeassssseeeeee.....can't I have sssssssooooommmmething to eeaat? Can't I have just a tiny bite?"

And this one....no...huh-uh...no explanation necessary. *snort*

You all have yourselves a great Tuesday....I'm thinking dry and cool thoughts!! I'm definitely NOT thinking about my man Matthew and how he is now a new father of a baby boy...no...no...don't think I'm even going to go there. Yeah yeah yeah...happy for them..blah blah blah...I may need to find a new "crush"!!!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Gosh...it feels like ages since I last posted....

Here it is Monday night...I last posted on Thursday night...so, is it my imagination or have I lost a few days?!?! I think that next year, around the 4th of July, I will make an effort to NOT read blogs....don't get me wrong...I enjoyed everyone's post of the fireworks, the BBQs, the fun and frivolity...even reading about the hangovers felt by many on the 5th....but...by Saturday night, I found myself in a bit of a funk....I haven't been in the States for the 4th since the year I left to come here....1991. Oh, yeah, we have fireworks here...and we can have BBQs and I can even have a hangover the next day...but...it's. just. not. the. same.

I tried to explain to my students how special a day this is.....it is a day for Americans. All Americans. It's just a great day to be in the United States. And...I had a bit of a pity-party, not a big one, mind you, but...I'm okay now. "Shake it off, Debbie." And I did!!

Let's see....Sunday (I guess it is official as all of my students told me this today) was the last day of "the rainy season". Usually, it doesn't end until about the 18th or 20th of July....I wondered that, since the rainy season was over early, would that also mean that fall would come sooner than usual?!?! hahahahahaha.....there I go again...working on the Positive Thinking!! (a sweaty girl with hair that does NOT like the summer humidity can dream!!)

Today...July 7, is the annual tanabata festival...or "star festival". If you want to read more on this festival that originates from China, go here....Wikipedia has a really good explanation...or, you can read on and I'll do my best. This festival celebrates the annual meeting of the two stars, Altair and Vega who were separated by the Milky Way...they can meet once a year...and so it is a festival of hopes and dreams. Here in Japan, people write their dreams on pieces of paper and hang them in bamboo branches along with other decorations. You can find branches, beautifully decorated all over the city...in stores, small shops...along the sides of the road...in people's houses.

At Koji's daycare...each group decorated their own bamboo branch....Koji's wish was to "be strong like the Masked Rider" (a super-hero here in Japan!!)....obviously, little boys can dream, too!!

Oh!! Speaking of Koji.....on Friday...his birthday...we did indeed go out for yakitori!!! He was a happy camper!!!

Today is also my mom's birthday. I'm not going to tell you how old she is, I know that she reads this blog and, honestly, I'd like a place to stay next year when we do come home!!! (smile)
Let's just say, that she was always the youngest mom of all my classmates' moms. Now...when people say we look like sisters....I always laugh and say "that probably makes her much happier than it does me"...but....not really...I think she's beautiful, so I take that as a compliment of the highest regard!!!
These next two pictures are probably two of my favorites of Mom and I....the first one, you've seen before (possibly) from the hair post......

.... and this one was taken a month after Koji was born when she came over for his blessing at the shrine. It was a hot and sweaty August (and I had just had a baby!!!) ,
but...damn, don't we look good!!!
There is a touristy place here called HuisTenBosch that we take people to when they come to visit, it's like a theme park, but, it really isn't..you really have to actually see it to believe it....personally, I go for the cheese and sausages we can buy!!!
This part of Japan was the only place where foreigners could come into port for a very long time and there is a lot of Dutch influence around here. This park was built to celebrate the long relationship with Holland and has become quite a popular place to visit. One of the shops was one that my Mom...yes, her name is Linda...really liked!!!

So...Mother Dear...here's a little something for you....enjoy!!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

This....made me laugh out loud!!

I was just sitting here....ignoring the dirty dishes waiting patiently for me in the kitchen sink...when I came upon this on YouTube.
I love this!!!
This beats the hell out of TV shows and videos that embarrass or humiliate people for the entertainment of the masses!!!

**I'll do a regular post later....

If you can't see the video...go to...http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nbkbss7i5s and

watch it there!!!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Tomorrow is a good day...for a few reasons...

Friday. kinyoubi. viernes. TGIF. Welcome to the weekend. aaaahhhhh....Friday...!!!

Though this hasn't really been too hectic of a week, I still see tomorrow as something really nice. It's the end of the week....and though I have classes on Saturday...it's still.... Friday!!! But....also.....It is the 4th of July!!! Independence Day!!! A day for family and friends....beer.....picnics....incredible fireworks...baseball...hot dogs...apple pie....A day to be...American.

But here....in Japan...it's just another day.

Wait....no...I'm sorry...that's wrong...it isn't just any other day.

July 4th......is Koji's birthday!!! Yes..I know...what a good American I was, huh?!

Koji will turn 6....and to celebrate we will go out for dinner at the restaurant of his choice...still not sure which one as his deadline for a decision is tomorrow morning before we leave for daycare....he and Issei were having quite the discussion tonight in the car as we were coming home (Issei is pushing for yakitori....where they cook meat and veggies on sticks over open flames...actually...I'm kind of hoping he chooses that one, too!!! Yummy!!)

Koji Harrison Kuroiwa....the "wild child". I love him to death....but....and when I say this, I'm only halfway joking....If he had been born first, he probably would have been an only child.

Ham bone...little stinker....cutie patootie....so nice....helpful....independent....goombah (yeah, I know, he's not Italian or a member of the Mafia, but I use it!!!)....funny....rascal..."all boy"....monkey...kakuii ("cool"...don't even think about calling him 'cute' to his face...he will correct you!!)...so many things that could be used to describe him...at any given point of a day.

He has a laugh that just makes you smile to hear it. His eyes are so bright and full of energy. He is also full of crap on most days....his stories are so funny....so 'not true' most of the time, but his imagination is one thing that we do not have to worry about.

So...to help celebrate the day....here are some of my favorite pictures of my littlest man....

Happy Birthday, Little Man....

you are such a little weirdo sometimes,

but...we love you!!!

**Oh...and Happy 4th of July....be safe...have fun...drink a beer and light a firecracker for me...but....put the beer down first, okay?!! ((hugs))

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"It was a dark and stormy night...."

Holy Moly Myrtle there's a hell of a storm going on tonight!!!

Was going to do some blogging but with that last flash of lightening....Mississippi one....Mississippi two...and YIKES!! the thunder....me thinks it would be better to turn off the computer!!!

I will go and check the weather channel to see what's going on....none of my students mentioned a typhoon or anything so maybe it's just one of those "summer storms".

Earlier today, I was messing around with the Mosaic Maker again....and it is getting easier...but then again, I also found that Picasa also has a pretty good one that makes some cool collages.....SOMEBODY STOP ME!!!

So...I will leave you with a mosaic I'm going to title......

"Things to look forward to in the month of August"

See....this gives me seven or eight topics to use in the very near future...all having to do with some of the aspects of summer in Japan. Can you just hardly stand the excitement?!?!?
Okay...okay...there goes some more thunder and a public announcement just came on (yes, it's 11:00 at night and they are telling us that "it is going to be raining hard".....DU-UH!!! :-D Dear Someone in the City office.....Thank you!!...without that hard-to-hear-very-muffled-only-in-Japanese message I would never have known!!!!!
Oh...but first, let me attach the other mosaic, the Picasa one....It was a little "interesting" to figure out, but...thanks to my new friend at In the Merry Old Land of Oz who took the time to write out really good instructions...I think I can do this!!!! What do you think??
This one is.......
Just us messing with the new computer camera!!!