Sunday, May 31, 2015

10 Random Things About Me

My brain is filled with end of school year lists and I want something fun to do before tackling another stack of grading. So I thought I'd make a list of random stuff about me you can't learn just by reading the "about me" page.

10- Random Things About Me 

1.  Jelly Belly jelly beans are my "go to" snack while grading papers, but I'm picky about the flavors I will eat.

2. My bookshelves are filled with non-fiction books and children's books.

3. Mail in my post box makes me smile. (unless its a bill ;0]

4.  I own a TV but only rarely use it to watch DVD's. (It's not connected to cable or local TV).

5. Watching musical theater live is pure joy for me.

6. Chocolate covered strawberries and ichigo daifuku are my favorite desserts.

7. I find the nightly serenade of frogs during spring and summer relaxing.

8. I typically cook on weekends and don't mind eating the same leftover foods all week long.
(Crock pots are wonderful!)

9. If I could travel to a place I've been to before I'd go to South Africa.

10. I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer or teacher of deaf and hearing impaired kids when I grew up. (Now I just take photos of my students. Sorry, for privacy reasons I can't post student photos online.)

This is the view from my window today. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How to mow grass in Japan

Step 1. Start with out-of-control grass, a few wild daisies and lots of weeds.

Step 2. Gather your favorite cutting tool. 

Step 3. Hack away until you can see the stepping stones below the weeds.

Step 4. Bag up clippings and do research to figure out how to throw them away.
(They are rejected if put in burnable trash, any local Japanese friends wanna give advice?)

Step 5 Enjoy the hydrangeas and a conversation with the farmer who is flooding the rice paddy in preparation of planting rice. 

I learned he works as a Junior High English teacher in a neighboring town. Studied American Literature in University and had noticed I was talking in English to my computer on the balcony earlier that morning.  So he decided if he saw me outside he would say hi to me. 
He told me I spoke "English beautifully!" =0).  
Turns out he had seen/heard me as I was Skyping my family in Minnesota 
and I was showing them (via my laptop computer) the rice paddy. 
My 6 year old nephew had yelled out "Hi, Farmer Guy!" 
I guess you never know just how far 'Minnesota Nice' will travel! 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Camp Out

Leaving behind the assignments, tests, and lesson plans, students and teachers traveled off campus and enjoyed 2 days, one night at a camp grounds about 40 minutes away from school. 

We were blessed with clear skies on Friday. 
It has rained at almost every camp I've attended
 in the last 6 years so the sunny skies were enjoyed by all. 
The carp flags were waving at the camp site 
as decorations for Boys Day/Children's Day  in early May.
The huge field was well used by students playing team building games, catch, and Ultimate Frisbee.
Students also played tennis, explored the playground, conquered obstacle course, and went on a hike. 

I went with the group that went on the hike. 

I was with 4 middle school girls who enjoyed finding bugs, 
climbing trees, going off trail and having the freedom to use their outside voice.

Mainly the time spent on the hike was a relaxing time for conversations.

Our dinner, served in the lodge, surprised us with the fancy layout and delicious selection.
 Pork & beans, salad, potato, vegetables, soup and bread. 

Clear skies stayed allowing us to build a camp fire and worship under the stars.
It is wonderful to have 1st through 12 graders together to worship.
Our guest speaker energetically retold the story of David and Goliath. He even built a model the height of Goliath (WOW, he was tall!)
 and he encouraged us to follow David's example: trusting in God to help us face our challenges.   

One unique part of camp that many students have never experienced 
is roasting marshmallows and making s'mores. 
 I love this part of the evening, introducing an American summer tradition to the kiddos! 

The sugar high took a bit of time to wear off but we enjoyed playing some games back at the lodge until lights out. (Pit, Life, Scrabble, Rubik's Cube, Truth or Dare, Go Fish, And "who can most creatively paint your teacher's fingernails".) 

Breakfast the next morning was a bit more Asian in style. Delicious, but I must admit after we  cleaned the lodge and loaded the students on the bus for the train station, my roommate and I stopped at Starbucks for a cinnamon roll and bit more caffeine!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Local Parade

April 29, there was a local parade going down main street of Heguri, the small town here our school is located.  Heguri has an annual parade that is only one block away from our school. For one class period on a Wednesday morning we took the students to watch the parade. Besides a marching band of students dressed as penguins (not sure why) . . .

there was an elementary band (no costumes)  . . .

and a town mascot.

There was a procession of parade participants who were dressed in costumes from Japanese history.
I enjoyed the experience of watching this part of the parade as I'm teaching Japan Studies this year and we are starting our history of Japan Unit.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Dinner

Thank you to the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) for gathering teachers, and administration, parents and a one school board member (May 6).  I was thankful to have a chance to gather with people in the KCS community and not talk about work! Sometimes we get so caught up with the daily workings of the school and student related matters that we don't have a chance to have deeper conversation with those we see each day.

Thank you parents for your support of the KCS teachers! It's great to work with the parents who are so involved in this partnership of education.

For dinner we had appetizers, pasta, pizza and dessert (Mango or Strawberry Sundae's)

The appetizer plate: eggplant, omelet, vegetables, and chicken.

Here are three Japanese parents, our Executive Assistant, a school board member, and me.  
The Italian restaurant where we ate the delicious food!