Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Next?

Oh my goodness!  I just read this, and I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!  I've read a number of articles lately, but this one is the one that broke the camel's back.  I can't be silent any more.  UGH!

I'm a bit disheartened at how messed up society is when infringing on family rights.  There are cases like this, but then, there are cases like this.

I don't want to pass judgment, but I do know the feelings I get when I read each of these cases.  The last one just outrages me, the middle one has me perplexed, and the first one has me shaking my head.  I don't know the whole story, and I don't trust that the media didn't have these feelings in mind when they wrote these articles, but when a child dies and the system fails because "the allegations were determined to be 'unfounded' and the case closed the next month?"  UGH!!!  But then there are these people who sue their mother because she didn't send them a check with their birthday card?!  Oh people.  I hope there's a WHOLE lot more to that case than just not getting money with a card.  Heck!  At least you got a card.  My mom hasn't sent me one in about twelve years now, and darn it, I'm going to have a word with her when I see her again.  How about we learn to be grateful for what we've got?

What are we doing?

When should we step in and when should we butt out?

I'd really love to know your thoughts on this one?  I truly am perplexed.

Am I missing something here?

So, I guess I'm looking at the first case and seeing a pathetic effort at controlling everything--can you imagine if the kids had won this case?  I'm looking at the second case and seeing a woman who was crying out for help.  I think something different besides sending her to jail would have been appropriate.  And, in the third case, I see that someone (actually many someones) failed miserably.

So, I said I wasn't going to be judgmental, but there you go.

Wordless Wednesday - Or So I Thought

Thought this was on photo mode.  Oops.  And so I give you...A Japanese family.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Back to My Old Ways

I tried to get some videos to upload yesterday and had some technical difficulties, so the last day or two of the Japan saga lies ahead.

Today's been full of laundry and coupons.

Child #3's been gone for what feels like forever. We'll get her back on Saturday.  I'm missing her terribly.

Do you ever feel like you slack off when it comes to disciplining your kids? I go through phases of strictness and laxness. Usually it's impacted by my energy level. 

I'm not much of a lecturer. That's just not my style. I'm much more a discussor or a woman of action when it comes to interacting with my kids and dealing with their behavior.

This past lax phase has been pretty long lived. I think it started back with my last pregnancy. I was just far too tired to be up and enforcing correct behavior, but I don't think it's ever too late to change. So I worked hard to go back to being the kind of parent that's most comfortable for me yesterday.

I used to be very good at getting on top of the kids' poor behaviors the first time they happened. Lately, I've been the queen of second chances.

Sunday night, the Warden and I sat down with the oldest kids and discussed what they felt would improve our family.  It's been clear that things have not been quite right for quite awhile.

We decided that the thing we want to work on the most is respect--respect for others and respect for things.  Just all around respect.   We talked about communication and doing household jobs and helping each other out.  Most of all, we talked about how loud our home is.

It helped a lot of have these things pointed out.  Yesterday was smooth.  When one of these things appeared, I got on it--no second chances.  This was a new concept to #6.  He's been the kid who's suffered the most from my laxness.  He was the youngest when I was pregnant.  He wasn't taught, like the others were, what correct behavior is. 

I decided that if he's going to be loud or obnoxious in the house, he's being inappropriate.  That kind of behavior is outside behavior, and he needs to be outside to do it.  So, yesterday, he was asked to please go outside for at least five minutes.  If I had to ask him twice, it became ten minutes.  Each time I had to ask, it would be increased by five.  He had one trip outside for ten minutes and three others for five minutes.  I guess he decided after the first time that ten was too long.

Here's the funny thing.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day yesterday.  We have a large yard.  If it were me, I'd love being out there.  I'd find a ball to kick around or something else great to do, but he didn't.  For some reason he thought of this as the greatest punishment he could endure.  Does anyone else think this is strange?  He went out the back door, stood right by the door and wailed.  What?!  I don't get that at all.  I didn't even "place" him outside, he went there himself.

When the five minutes were up, he came back in.  Nothing was said.  I didn't rub anything in or lecture; we just got right back to life and everything was hunky dory. 

Of course, as with a few of my children, lessons have to be taught over and over and over again--you know...bang your head against the same wall until it finally sinks in, but I have no doubt he'll get it eventually.  I mean, he did get that ten minutes was longer than five and went out the first time asked after experiencing that only once, so there is hope. 

The greatest thing is that I'm not a liar.  I mean what I say, and I follow through--the first time (no second chances).  He's learning that he can trust me and my words.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Last Bit of the Festival

Just a few little forgotten details from our day at Tanabata....


While thinking about the trip this morning, one thing stuck in my mind.  While we were making lanterns in Natori, the man who taught us how came over to us and shared a Japanese saying.  He said, "Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart."

This really sums up the Japanese culture to me.  This is something to be emulated.

So, although I turned my heart to making those lanterns with all of my heart, I had a hard time breaking out of my American hurry-up-and-get-the-job-done ways.  So, I tried to strike a balance between heart and hand.  Not easy, but someday...someday....

That's what I'm striving for.

Friday, August 26, 2011


You know you do it.  You know you do.

It's the staying up too late.  It's the not drinking enough water.  It's the eating whatever you want whenever you want.

That's what I've been doing, and I'm done.  DONE, I tell you.

I feel like I take down this really nicely built wall one brick at a time, and for me, it all starts with bedtime.  I have absolutely NO REASON to stay up late.  I'm not performing open-heart surgery.  I'm not saving the world from crime or dastardly deeds.  I'm just up.  Doing what?  Well....hmm....ummm.  Well, sabotaging the next day.  That's what I'm doing.  I mean, let's call a spade a spade, shall we?

If I can just get myself to bed at a decent hour--for me, ideal is 9:30pm.  If I could fall in at that time every night (except for maybe date night), life'd be just peachy.  So, I'm going to start.  Even later than this.
Actually, I started a number of nights ago, and within three days, I was feeling great in the morning--energy, ready to get up and go, but night before last, I was out hating myself again (that's got to be what it is, isn't it?  I mean, if I really loved and valued myself, I'd get my hind end to bed, wouldn't I?).  Last night I did the same, but last night, I was waiting for child #2 to get home from playing basketball with his bubs.  He walked in at about 11:30, but would you care to know where Mickey's hands were pointing when I climbed my sorry self in between the sheets?  Umm, yah, 12:44.  No joke.  What in the world am I doing to myself (and the poor waifs that are starting to become ashamed to call this haggard old woman with the blood shot eyes Mom)?

So, here it is 3:09pm.  I had to take my contacts out already because my eyes are stinging.  I'm attempting to study while the boys are at the park and the little girl's asleep, but I'm having problems keeping my eyes open.  Say it with me, "PA-THE-TIC!"

Now you know why I'm writing about this.  So, check in on me from time to time, would you?  Ask me how it's going?  I AM going to do this.  I am going to start being nice to me again.

I'd like to say the sleep thing is the only brick I tear down on a regular basis, but sadly, it's not.  I won't burden you with the other bricks because for now, I'm going to get this one back up and mortared in really good before I move onto the next one.  Maybe just taking care of this biggie will give me the motivation I need and others will just fall into place.  We can only hope, right?

Alone-ish Time

Last weekend the Warden disappeared with all but one of the kids.  He left me with #3 while they ran to a soccer jamboree.  Numbers 1 and 2 were off at a cross country retreat.

#3 and I got to work.  We cleaned and polished and shined.  The house looked and smelled so clean when they returned, but alas, it didn't last long.  It never does.  I have a hard time not getting discouraged about this, but I think I've finally just surrendered to the fact that it's part of this life I live, and I lean on the hope that someday it will get clean and stay clean.

I've been thinking a lot about the effects of order and cleanliness and how they make us feel.  Not only how they make me, as an adult, feel, but more particularly, how our environment effects our children.  When the house is in order, the kids just seem more capable of accomplishing things.  Mind you, the kids are frequently (if not usually) the reason for the disorder, but when all is conquered, life is good, and there is the hope of a fresh start.  If we can get rid of much of our clutter, things'll be easier to maintain, right?

Tonight there is a goalie training camp.  Two of our boys will attend (one against his will--why is this the case so often lately and only with one particular child).  The Warden has agreed to take all the kids but one. 

Here's what I'm figuring is going to happen....We're going to start in my bedroom and I'm going to start with the closet and just start getting rid of stuff.  I have too much stuff to keep a home orderly.  I need to part with a good bunch.  #1 will stand there with a bag and stuff things into it.  Simple, huh?

The big question....How far into the house can we get done?  I figure the rest of the fam'll be gone for a couple hours.  We can at least get the upstairs and maybe part of the kitchen done. 

Funny the things a mom gets excited about, huh?

Did You Ever Wonder?

I'm working on getting back into the schedule of what life will be like once school starts again--early to bed, early to rise, the whole sh'bang.

I use this site for studying the scriptures first thing in the morning.  I love that I can jot down notes right there while I read.  At the bottom of the day's reading assignment is a quote.  The quote changes each time you do something on the page.

Today's was interesting.  It was ascribed to The New Era--the church magazine for teenagers.  It explains well why L.D.S. churches don't have crosses on them or in them.  Thought I might share this here for anyone who ever wondered....

"Because our Savior lives, we do not use the symbol of his death as the symbol of our faith. But what shall we use? He told us when he said, 'If ye love me, keep my commandments.' And so our lives must become a meaningful expression, the symbol of our declaration of our testimony of the living Christ, the Eternal Son of the Living God."
--The New Era, April 1990

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yusumi - Tanabata

We were blessed with the opportunity of going to the yearly Tanabata Festival in Sendai.  It's a BIG deal.  I think I would liken it to Portland's Rose Festival. 

First, the photos:

From what I understand, Tanabata is a festival to celebrate the meeting of some legendary prince and princess in the sky. 

Hundreds of these hang over the walkway of the mall.  Different businesses make them.  There were a bunch of them from Adidas that we saw.

So glad she got this experience.

Crossing to the other part of the mall--video to follow.

See the little girl in the kimono holding her dad's hand.  She was just darling.  Wish I would have caught a better picture of her.

At one point, there were two men coming toward us each holding their sleeping babies.  I was so touched by the fathers of Japan.  For the days we were there,  it was not unusual to find the dads holding their sleeping little ones.  My camera flashed too late to catch both of the dads, but I did catch this one.  So sweet!

Here are a number of videos of the experience.

This was an accidental video, but you get the idea of the crowds.  We were right in the walkway of a mall.

At one point, we were all in a kimono shop.  Jason said he was going across the way to a "shop with all the signs outside."  #1 was with us, but then she wasn't there any more.  I didn't see her go with Jason, but it seemed to me that she left a few moments later.  When we saw the shop with all the signs, at first, I couldn't see either of them.  I realized that if she was lost, this would be THE worst time and place, but I also understood that she was probably in the best place because the country is so safe and so many speak English--what an experience that would be to take home.

It ended up that both of them were in the very back of the store looking at shoes.

This is us crossing the street to the other part of the mall. 

When the light is just about to change, the police use the baton behind the last few people to kind of herd them over to the other side.  The first voices you hear over the crowd are of the police telling people to cross quickly because the cars are going to be coming.  The last voices--near the end of the video--are of some evangelical Christians telling everyone--via recording--all about salvation and eternal life.  These kinds of things are what turns a lot of the Japanese off to the missionaries.  They tend to think that all Christians are alike.

There was a white-faced person holding onto one of the signs that has the Christian recording and bullhorn near the park we went to.  We called out to him, he was just a kid, but it looked like he didn't understand the words we were saying to him.  That was kind of freaky.

At one point in the video, just as we cross the street, there is a monk.  You can see his hat but people stop right in front of him, so you don't get a good view before the video ends.  He was just so traditional Japanese that I couldn't resist.  I only wish I'd gotten a better view of him.

In this video, Joey asks the police for directions to a park:

There was a tent set up for the police to help people out during the festival.  The police are an interesting entity in Japan.  Each town has a little police stand in the middle of it.  I don't know if they arrest people, or if they do, where they put them because, really, the police stands are about the size of a large shed you might have in your yard.  Those that we saw were made of brick.  Pretty much, the police direct traffic (Ishinomaki doesn't seem to have power to it's traffic signals yet, so the police were there everyday directing traffic) and see to it that people don't get lost.  At least, that's my take on them.

Just wanted you to get a view of what a Sendai street looks like.  Sorry for the shakiness of the video.

I think I had this toy when I was a kid.  Here it is in real life.
You're not going to believe this....

So, at one point I speak Japanese and ask the woman how many months old her child is.  She tells me 11 months, and I tell her how cute the baby is.  I think if I'd remembered I was filming, I would have turned the camera off to ask.  Oops.  I was extremely surprised at how much the language came back after not using it for twenty years.  That was downright miraculous.

Here's a bit of the festival:

In the above video, I ask a man standing next to me what crawdads/crayfish are called in Japanese.  He tells me, but if you asked me today, I couldn't tell you.

My camera would fill up and I'd have to "pull over" to upload the photos and videos.  It was pretty comical, but I was thankful for modern technology over and over again during this trip.  It's nice to have the benefits of a few moments of inconvenience now for sure.

Here are some more photos:

Wishes are written on the pieces of paper and hung from trees.  We were invited to do this, but my wish had been fulfilled.  I didn't have any left to write.

#1 commented about this girl's outfit, so I just had to take a photo.

Loved this statue of a mother playing with her child.  Her focus is all on her baby.

The HUGE guy way off in the distance is one of the biggest Japanese guys I've ever seen.  He had dyed his hair orange.  He kept turning around and staring at #1.  I couldn't get my camera to work in time to get an up close photo, but there he is.

How can you turn down a photo op like this?...

Or this.

Photos of the earthquake and tsunami.  The very first photo at the top was one I hadn't seen before.  It was very startling of a mother all covered in dirt and ash holding her baby also covered.  Wow!  What a hard time for these people!

Jason playing the role of "Supa Gaijin"--a role he played so very well.  He was dubbed this during our first day of work when what was supposed to take two days ended up taking half a day.

Need I say more?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Videos from Natori

I mentioned more video from Natori yesterday, so here it is. Just took an interesting stroll through the middle school.

The situation with the bathrooms in this building, will lead us right into the next post....tomorrow.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Higashi Matsushima

During day #2 of Natori and lantern making, Brother Asano took us to his hometown.  I was able to explore a bit deeper into Natori and the school we were working at, and I have more video of that for tomorrow, but I wanted to get this done first.

On the way, we passed entire villages that were still covered with water.  I pulled my camera out too late for those places, but we got a huge eye-full here at Higashi Matsushima.

The first few photos are of the roads between Natori and Higashi Matsushima.

People are working SO HARD to get life back to some semblance of normalcy.

A gas station.

Can you imagine?

Can you see it?

Yup.  It's a train.  One of those always-on-time Japanese trains....Stranded out in the middle of nowhere.

Can you imagine water so forceful that it bends metal bars?

I'm wondering what he's feeling and thinking as he drives us out here.

Here we are....Higashi Matsushima.

These machines were the constant "background music" to our trip.  The Asano's house was over in this direction.

Can't go any further than over the bridge into town.

Standing water in the roadway--5 months after the fact.

Can you see the tanker ship?

Here's some video for you to help it come alive a bit more....

When you first venture over the bridge and into town as far as you can go, which is all of about fifteen yards or so, on the left side of the bridge and road is a house with flowers painted all over it. Looks like something from the '60s. I couldn't figure it out. It looked like something some rebellious American would do. We judged that it was someone's way of flipping the finger at nature. I'm sure that's probably not it, but it was as good a reason as any. It looked so cute in this devastated area that I couldn't bring myself to take a photo of it. You'll notice it's the last thing I videotape. It was just too cheerful; too much of a contrast to its surroundings.

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