Sunday, June 28, 2009

From Kyoto with love

Dear Reader -
Yesterday I spent the day in Kyoto with some friends. (1 Japanese, 2 Koreans, & 1 American - all of whom I met (one way or another) through language study in Tokyo. We visited some famous sights, enjoyed some delicious food, and pressed on to end the day, despite the heat, with smiles on our faces!

Visiting Kinkakuji - the Golden Pavillion.
Watanabe Sensei, Mihwa-san, Boeun-chan, and Andrea.After Lunch (Tempura & Udon at "Omen")

We visited Ginkakuji - the Silver Temple.
(The photo is black/white but the actual building is wooden and not a silver color as the name would lead you to expect.)

The rock gardens were impressive . . .
As was the view from the top of the hill.

Strolling the Philosopher's Path or Tetsugaku no michi.
Hydrangea or Ajisai were in bloom.
(Boeun-chan took a nap while getting a ride from her mom.)

Skipping stones in Kamo-gawa near Shijo-Ohashi,
before heading to Gion for some Geisha gawking.
By the time one of them smiled at Boeun-chan we had seen 4 Geisha and decided it couldn't get much better than that so we began the 1 hour trek back home.

With Love from Kyoto,
a TCK teacher, enjoying summer vacation

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Vacation

Schools out and that means it's summer vacation!

The thing I'm looking forward to most this summer is spending time with friends.

Last week my friend Grace came for a week to visit.
She was a huge help during the last crazy and exciting days at school. I put her to work lifting lots of moving boxes at school before we enjoyed some potlucks, visited a church and went to Osaka for an adventure with fish.
I have more photos than I have time to post but here are a couple.Checking out Cookie's vertical Eating Hawaiian Hamburgers in Osaka

Adventures with the underwater world
More food! Can't leave Kansai without eating Okonomiyaki!
Today, my friends Mihwa and Boeun-chan are arriving from Tokyo. And tomorrow my former Japanese teacher Watanabe sensei is coming. It'll be a weekend of fun, communicating all in Japanese. We're hoping to meet up with our friend Andrea in Kyoto tomorrow too.

Thanking God for time during summer vacation to enjoy the gift of friendship!
And a home big enough to host them!

Chocolate Revel Bars

I made these bars 3 times in 4 days for potlucks/parties I was attending and was asked for the recipe so many times I thought I'd just post it and save some time. I found it in the Better Homes and Garden's cookbook and discovered it for the first time when my friend Erica made it - although I think she may have had a different name for them. It looks a little long but is a fairly easy and quick recipe to make. Enjoy -

Chocolate Revel Bars

1 cup butter, softened ( I used 200g)
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cup cup all-purpose flour
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
1 14 ounce can (1 1/4 cups or 397g) sweetened condensed milk or low-fat sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts of pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the butter. In a large mixing bowl beat the remaining butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and 2 t. vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in the rolled oats.

2. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine the reserved 2 T. butter, chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Cook over low heat until chocolate melts, stirring occaionally. Remove from heat. Stir in the nuts and 2 t. vanilla.

3. Press two-thirds (about 3 /13 cups) of the roalled oats mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 15 x10x1 inch baking pan. Spread chocolate filling evenly over the oats mixture. Dot remaining rolled oats mixture on filling.

4. Bake in a 350 degree oven (170 Celsius) about 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned (Chocolate filling will still look moist). Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Peanut butter-chocolate Revel bars - Prepare as above except substitute 1/2 cup peanut butter for 2 T. butter when making the filling and substitute peanuts for the walnuts or pecans.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Surprise revealed . . .

I have a new housemate.

He will be 4 years old in July.
Likes to go for walks both morning and evening,

He is pretty mellow and relaxed for most of the day- spending it napping.
Listen's well and doesn't speak much.
親切砂な 犬です。聞くは上手とかあまり話せません。

I'm learning that his favorite spot in the house is right in front of the sliding glass doors in the living room. When the the door is open it provides a nice breeze to go along with the view of the back yard, rice paddy and walking path great for people watching.
Last night he found a way to look out even though the curtains were closed.


He came with two houses of his own - one inside and one outside.
His name is Cookie.

He actually belongs to my friends the Chapmans, who had the pleasure of training the dog and helping him become comfortable with children. The Chapmans are going on Home ministry assignment in USA Sunday, so I'm taking care of Cookie for the year while they're away.
Let the adventure of caring for a pet begin!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Surprise Update Coming Saturday, Meanwhile . . .

Come back Saturday for to learn about the surprise.

Meanwhile - please say a little prayer for the students, staff and parents of Kansai Christian School.

June 19 - tomorrow is the last day of the 2008-09 school year. We'll have spring program (I get to direct the 1-4 grade choir in 3 songs and help with the potluck afterward) and then graduation for 8th graders (there are 2) and 12 graders (there are 4).

At KCS, as at many schools, the last day of the school year is a time to celebrate relationships and academic accomplishments - but as Third Culture Kids there is a huge possibility that the students in your class this year could be studying in another country next month. When the school year ends you may be saying good-bye to the 4 seniors going off to college, your classmate transfering to ballet school, another classmate going to their passport country for a year, another classmate transfering to another school in their native tongue to prepare for college, another classmate whose father's job has been transfered to another city, I could go on and on. These are all true examples for KCS. Transition for teachers and students is challenging. Please pray that the good-byes can be done in a healthy way, that God's loving arms would be wrapped around these students as they learn trust the God who gives and takes away - and to release the relationships into God's loving care and His will for their life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The week that was . . and will be

Last week was busy - and this week is going to be even more so!

School ends June 19 with our Spring Program and Graduation, on top of that, our school is preparing to move to Heguri at the end of the month. So it's busy!

Last week - Wednesday through Friday were Finals for 5-12 grades. So we had early dismissal at 1:15pm. Which seems like a relaxing schedule for teachers BUT - I was still at school until 4 or later. Letting the students out early meant that teachers had more time in the afternoon to sort, pack and grade papers.

Friday evening we celebrated the Seniors (pictured above) with an evening out to Saint Marc's restaurant, where teachers, students, family and friends of the seniors ate a 7 course french dinner, with AMAZING bread! (We were expecting a lamb as the main course but found out it was beef instead.) It was fun to laugh and talk with my co-workers and students while enjoying great food, and live piano in the background.

I spent Saturday at school cleaning, sorting, and packing. And thanks to help from some dedicated staff memebers - we now have almost all of the resource closet in boxes (A major accomplishment!)

Today I was scheduled to visit a church near Osaka to introduce myself and become familiar with their ministry. However, when I woke up this morning I felt horrible - perhaps a combination of a reaction to the dust from cleaning and the lack of energy from a very busy week had my immune system weak. I stayed in bed most of today and this evening am feeling better.

Looking ahead . . .
Monday & Tuesday- the packing will continue - only then it will include 9 first and second graders "helping". Things could get interesting!

We also have many special events this week. A Spelling Bee, Bible Bee, Class picnic and outing to a swimming pool, class party and then on Friday - our spring program and graduation. We also have a staff dinner on the schedule.

I'm expecting my friend, Grace, to come visit too. Her family is in the same mission as I am and since their school got out on the 5th of June - she has some extra time to hang out with me! So excited to have a housemate for about a week!

Oh - yeah - and those of you who are hoping I'll reveal the surprise - you'll have to wait until Saturday the 20th. =0). But you're welcome to keep guessing.

Good Guess, but no it's not a cat

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Advice Worth Taking

Advice overheard after dismissing class Monday:

1st grader: (big sigh) I have so much homework but I really want to play Wii tonight.

2nd grader: (While patting 1st grader's back) You should do your homework before you play Wii because the Wii will always be there but your homework won't.

1st Grade Food Critic

That was quite tasty!
- Quote from a student eating raw cucumbers at snack time

I have a surprise for you . . .

Confessions of a 2nd Grader

I lost a tooth yesterday and didn't tell my parents. I wanted to see if there really was a tooth fairy or if it was my parents. I didn't get anything under my pillow, so now I know.
- 2nd grade student during our morning work

As the teacher, with a classroom full of students, (who may or may not believe in the tooth fairy) I was at a loss at how to respond to the student . . .
a) defend the tooth fairy - keep hope alive
b.) confirm his hypothesis correct - reward scientific experimentation
c.) point out the economic advantage of pretending he doesn't know
d.) send a note to all the parents for a heads up about potetential dinner table discussions
e.) say as little as possible and move on to teach the next subject.

What would you do?
I chose e.) and found myself wondering if the tooth fairy exists in cultures other than America.

Monday, June 8, 2009

You, YOU are Awesome!

It's Monday and who couldn't use a little validation!
Watch it and prepare to smile.

My teacher's assistant, Edith, introduced me to this video and watching it reminds me so much of her! She has the gift of encouragement and can see the bright side to ANY terrible, horrible no good, very bad day!

Warning: Smiling is contagious!