Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Wow, it has been forever since I last posted anything here, anything about the family anyway. I’ve been so busy with school and things I just haven’t had a chance, but here I am now. The two weeks before Thanksgiving I had a test pretty much every day in my Japanese classes. I also had to prepare a presentation for one of my “Oral Expressions” (can’t think of what to call it, that is a pretty direct translation) classes. Plus I am preparing for a debate in the other one. I also was studying furiously for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. Like crazy man I went right for the highest ranking. Anyway after Thanksgiving I gave my presentation and took the JLPT. The presentation went well. Not so sure about the JLPT. I can’t say I did poorly, but I can’t say that I passed either. I have to wait until February for the results. But still, I feel a little better now that I don’t have that test looming over me anymore. It’s over and done with whatever the result.

Rie and Sara are both doing well. Sara is still a stinker. She understands extremely well when you talk to her, and she garbles unintelligible answers and stuff back to you, especially when you tell her not to do something. She already knows how talk back. She loves to walk and play hide and seek (even though there aren’t that many places to hide in a Japanese house). We’ve been putting things we don’t want her to touch on the table or somewhere she can’t reach, but the other day she discovered that she can use this little chair that Rie’s mom has a decoration (but Sara likes to sit on it) as a stepping stool to reach higher. She dragged it over to a table and was trying to get the stuff on top of it. I took her down and put the chair on the other side of the room in a corner, but a few minutes later she comes back over carrying the chair, puts it down, and climbs up on it again. I was watching her do the whole thing, but she didn’t care. She just smiled at me and did it anyway. We love her.

I finally signed up for Flickr. So I'll be putting slideshows on here now if all goes well. The first is of pictures of Sara I uploaded. The second is of the evening light up that they have at many of the temples and shrines here in Kyoto. They have it during the momiji season, or when the leaves change color for fall. Enjoy!



Friday, November 20, 2009

What Now Foo?!

This doesn't really have anything to do with anything at all, but I was doing research for a debate in one of my classes and found this site. The debate is about whether or not they should make English education compulsory in elementary schools in Japan. I'm on the supporting side and thought I could use American schools' teaching of Spanish as an example of the affectiveness of teaching elementary students foreign languages. Anyway, this site is from The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and has tons of research that suppports the teaching of languages to children.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where Are You Going My Little One, Little One

Well, the time has come.

Yes, Sara is all about walking these days. She's spent the last couple of weeks really going at it. She finally decided to let go of things and walk around all on her own. It's funny, because she is so careful about it. She takes one step at a time and if she loses her balance a little it she'll stop until she get it back. It's like if she falls it would be the end of the world. When she walks of her own choice, she never falls, but if we try and make her walk she get upset and sometimes falls on her behind. There's been a few face plants and other incedents that come along with active babies, but everything is going well.

We got some pictures:

I think she looks older than one year in this picture

Not too happy about having to stand when she doesn't want too

Here's Sara and I going for a walk.
The next pictures from when we went to play in the park.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round...

Well I wasn’t able to take any pictures at the Noh stage. It was pretty cool though. I’ve seen a Noh stage through pictures and video in some of the classes I took at ASU, but it is different when you get to see a real one. I think the stage belongs to my professor’s family since it is the Kawamura Noh Stage and his name is Kawamura. He said it was built in the same year that he was born, back in the 1960’s. He explained all sorts of things to us, like the construction of the stage, the positions of the different performers, where they rehearse, how they make props, and all kinds of other stuff. Him and a younger guy who comes with him to class (I think he’s an apprentice or something) performed a part of a play about Yoshitsune, a important figure in Japanese history. It’s interesting, because they don’t use hardly any props at all and the one’s they do use are very simple. So, when Yoshitsune is supposed to be fighting, the fan that the performer is holding becomes a shield, sword, or anything else. The professor explained the movements and stuff to us before he actually performed it, which helped a lot as it can be hard to tell what’s going on if you know nothing about Noh.

Anyway, so that was cool, but Rie and I got some good pictures of Sachi.

Ignore the stupid expression on my face…. Sara rode a bike for the first time a couple of weeks ago. That time it was just with me, but as you can see, when we are riding she can’t see me. She was a little scared I think and held tightly to my hand. The next time we went, Rie came with us and rode in front so that Sara could see her. We kept laughing and smiling for her so she would feel like it was a fun thing and she soon decided she liked it. The picture was taken when I took Sara around for a ride just to get out of the house. Here’s another:

She really didn’t like the helmet at first either, but she got used to it too and doesn’t complain when we stick it on anymore.

I’m sure no one wants to see this, but this came out of Sara ear. That’s some nasty wax.

Here’s the desk and chair that Rie’s parents bought for me, a little cluttered. In the container on the right I keep my little electronic stuff. I bought that when I got here. I bought the lamp too, but everything else was Rie’s stuff that her parents hadn’t got rid of yet. As you can see, Sara has a bunch of toys that her Obaachan(grandma) bought for her under my desk and the printer.

He’s the poor baby’s first mosquito bites. She got two at the same time. They weren’t the last though; all three of us got a bunch when we first came. The mosquitoes like fresh blood, I guess.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Classes Are Underway

Well, I made it through the first week of classes. It was long, but interesting. I really am enjoying the two classes I have every morning. They are my actual Japanese language classes. After that I have different culture and literature classes.

Two of the classes that I am taking are actual elective courses that any student at the university can take. In other words, there are Japanese students in there as well. Needless to say, that means the Japanese spoken in that class is at full speed, without any brakes to make sure everyone understands what's being said. I do fine, but it takes some concentration to listen to a lecture for 90 minutes when you got new words flying around like crazy with all kinds of characters being written on the board and whatnot. It's interesting though.

I'll explain my classes in another post, I'm too tired right now. Plus, tomorrow I get to go see something cool for one of my classes. If I get to take pictures I'll be sure to post them.

On a family note, Sara finally decided she was going to give standing a taking a few steps (without holding on to anything, which she has been doing for a while) a try. She stands up without using anything to help her, balances for a minute, waiting for you to clap your hands and tell her she did a good job. She claps her hands too and then sits back down. Today she also took four or five steps from Daddy to Mommy all by herself. Mommy and Daddy are doing well too.

Also, Rie's Mom's friend referred me for a job at the supermarket where she works. I was introduced to the GM and filled out an aplication and stuff. If all goes well I might have a job by the end of the month. I'd work in the deli (a Japanese deli is a little different) cleaning and helping with some cooking on occasion. It's a start!

Remember: Joy to the world, all the boys and girls. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me!

P.S. Check out my new weblog. It'll get bigger as a get a chance to post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Who Cares About You, Let's See the Baby

So here are the promised pictures of Sara. I didn't have anything to do for several hours one day last week at school, so Rie and Sara met me at the park surrounding the Emperial Palace, which is right across the street from the school. Sara spent about an hour walking around, with some help of course.

And then she was tired...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Locked and Loaded

So I had my interview, which went really well, and ended up getting placed in the level VI class. There are eight levels, so that's not too bad. It's the pre-advanced level, which basically means we learn the advanced level stuff (level VII) but we also spend time reviewing the more difficult intermediate grammer. I'm excited to start class.

I registered for electives in Japanese No theater, Japanese Tradition and Entertainment, Japanese Culture, and Classical Literature. I'm also taking a lecture class on preparing for the level 1 JLPT (not JPT, I made a mistake before).
Anyway, I took some pictures of the school when I had some free time.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to School, Back to School

So I had my first day of school today. Well, my first day of orientation. Classes don't actually start until the 28th. This whole week is all orientation, placement, and registration related meetings and information.

Today I took the written placement test and did fairly well I think. They had a very short, simple portion on characters and I'm pretty sure I aced that part. The rest of the test was grammar related and was broken up into three parts. The first part was equal in difficulty to the 3rd and 4th (the two lowest levels) of the official Japanese Proficiency Test. That's the test you have to take if you want to do any translation work or even just work in Japan using Japanese. That part wasn't too hard, it was just long. Then the second part was equal to level 2 of the JPT and I was able to answer all of the questions there. We'll see how many I got right on Wednesday. The third part was equal to the highest level of the JPT, level 1, and it was pretty hard. I was able to answer a few of the questions, maybe correctly, but definitely not scoring high on that. That's okay though, because that's why I'm here. If I scored well in the level 2 section and my interview goes well tomorrow I think I should be placed in higher level class. We'll see. I'm not going to get my hopes up.

I was busy and tired, because I was at school fro 8:30 to 6:00 taking the test, listening to orientation (Rie and I already took care of all the legal stuff they told us about (Foreigner Registration, insurance, and whatnot)), and then sitting through the entrance ceremony. It was interesting because Doshisha is a Christian school, so they had a prayer at the beginning and end and had read the parable of the sower (the seeds by the wayside and stuff) from Matthew. They also had the dean of the religion college who is a reverend I guess bless us and the end. The chancellor of the school is an older gentleman, he spoke to us and seems really nice. He told us to take care of our atama (head) and kokoro (heart) health more then anything else. Mental health I guess you'd call it.

One of the hardest parts was after the test, which ended at 11:30, we had until 1:45 to do whatever until orientation began. We had two hours where none of us knew what to do. We went to the cafeteria and ate. I sat at table with a guy for New York, one from California, and one from Germany. It was a long time to wait.

At the end of everything they had "party" with food an drink for us. I ate real quick and ran. It's funny, the administrative people all know me because of the trouble Rie and I caused over my visa. But they are nice, so no worries.

Anyway, I was only able to take one picture because I was busy, but I will take more later. Of the school I mean.

Friday, September 4, 2009

It Never Ends

It seems like there's been one thing after another getting in our way, but we finally made it and we are now in Japan!

We had to go to L.A. before we took off to get Sara's Japanese passport and to get my student visa. The Japanese Consulate that serves Arizona is in Downtown L.A. I could have done my visa by mail, but just like American passports, Japanese ones have to be done in person.

So we drove to L.A. on Sunday morning and just stayed in our cheap hotel that was in the middle of Chinaland. Every building had Chinese on it and every person we saw was Asian.

The next day we drove in circles around Downtown trying first to find the Consulate and then parking. I finally pulled to the curb and called the Consulate to ask them where I should park. Surprisingly enough, everything went smoothly with the visa and passport.

After we finished at the Consulate we took off for Disneyland and spent the rest of the day there. Sachan had a great time pointing at everything, yelling at other kids, watching all the lights and movement, and listening to all the music and sounds. Rie and I had a good time too. It was nice just to relax for a little, though we were extremely tired by the end of the day. More than relaxing, I guess it was nice just not to think about everything and just watch Sachi enjoy herself. We rode a few rides for children, watched a few shows, and ate some food. It was nice.

We drove home on Tuesday and everything was going fine until we hit the I10/I17 junction. Well, the car had been making a strange noise since we left L.A. but at that point it was much louder and sounded like we had a flat tire. I checked it, but there didn't seem to be any problem with it. Just to be safe, I ended up (luckily) pulling into a gas station to change the tire. I say luckily because after I put the spare on and started lowering the jack I realized that the spare had almost no air in it. So I drove the car very slowly over to the air pump at the gas station and filled it up with air. While doing that I heard another strange noise and when I got and and looked, some cheapo plastic part had fallen out from the wheel well (is that what you call it?) apparently that was jammed in the axle or something and was making the noise I heard early and also causing the car to move like it had a flat tire. The tire turned out not to be flat. Anyway, when we finally reached Mom and Dad's house I had about all I could take.

On Wednesday morning we took off for the airport and realized when we got there that we had forgotten a suitcase. So Dad ran back home and got it for us. From that point on everything went smoothly. It's just a long flight from San Francisco to Kansai Airport, especially with a baby. Sachi was pretty good though and didn't really cry at all. I had to walk around with her a few times, but we can't complain. We were better off then some of the other parents on the flight.

Once I find out what I did with the SD card, I'll be posting some pictures from Disneyland, though I don't have too many. I will also take some picture of Rie's parent's house and the room we're staying in and whatnot once we get it all straightened up.


Monday, August 24, 2009

I Find Myself In Times of Trouble

There's a nice phrase in Japanese that describes life and the way things are going for us right now. It's umaku ikanai. umaku is from umai which means extremely good (I guess that works) and ikanai is the negative of iku which means "to go." So things don't go extremely well, or things don't or aren't going like they should.

Anyway, that's pretty much what's going on with everything right now. We have tickets to leave for Japan on the 29th so we have a couple of weeks to get settle and enjoy before my school starts, but the universe is working against us. We are having problems getting my visa for different reasons, but they all have to do with the school. We also had problems with the storage we rented.

Suffice it to say, both Rie and I are exausted and ready to go. Unfortunately we are forced to continue jumping through hoops like we're part some kind of circus. I guess we are, it's called government and university administration.

So, we're doing our best to keep going.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Start of Something Beautiful

As man and machine begin to melt into one, I join the epoch journey, the thrust into the new age...the blog.

I hate that word and hope I don't have to use it too often. I'm just glad you're here and hope you come back to visit in order to learn about the happenings of my family and to communicate with me.

I'll try and post pictures and things of that nature of Sara and us. I'll also try and write about what kind of things my family and I are doing for those of you who are crazy enough to care.

Anyway, soon we will be in Japan if all goes well, and that is hopefully when this b!@g will really take off.

For the time being...Keep Hope Alive. Peace!