30 June, 2012

Arrived in an awesome place

Now we've landed and are settling in, I feel a little bit like I've died and gone to heaven, the Australian version, that is! This is an awesome place. I can't believe I took it all for granted all those years of living here before we moved to Japan.

But backing up a bit, here is how the rest of our journey went.

Last night, night long after my blog posting, we went hunting for food. A bit late (7.30pm), but we weren't hungry before then, having been fed a main meal on the plane from Japan at around 3pm. It isn't easy finding food in a foreign airport with kids and a budget in mind. It took some time to find something that satisfied both criteria, and then we discovered that both restaurants were shut or almost out of food and shutting!

And we nearly missed the plane . . . but not really
So, we headed back in the general direction of our gate and then, by God's providence, David heard our flight called for boarding. Way earlier than we expected! But we were still a bit hungry and knew we wouldn't have an evening meal on the plane for over an hour or more. So, as the rest of us rushed to the plane, David stopped off at a fast food outlet and bought fries.

We just caught the end of the line going through the gate, only to stop just after that as they checked our bags once again before getting on the actual plane. So, at 8pm, we stood in line again and ate fries. A crazy food day!

Overnight flight
After that small fright the rest of the trip went smoothly, figuratively and literally it was a smooth trip. With individual screens which we stared at most of the eight hour flight, we hardly heard a peep from the boys. It was frustrating, though, that the general lights in the plane didn't go out until well after midnight. I think that the two older boys and I probably got less than three hours interrupted sleep. None of us are tall enough to be totally comfortable with our feet flat on the floor, and none of us were small enough to curl up in a single seat either. Grrrr.

And yes, throughout our travel, meals were all over the place, just like any long distance flying days. We had some more dinner at about 10pm and then breakfast at 4am.

Getting up that early had one benefit. We got to see an impressive sunrise through the plane window. Oh my, it was breathtaking.


Brisbane — awesome place
It took almost two hours from when we landed to actually greeting my parents to came to meet us. Everything, but especially retrieving our luggage, took a long time. But that has been today really. On less than three hours sleep you function, but not very efficiently. Especially in an environment where you are a bit rusty. The drive across Brisbane to our lodging (a house sit . . . with so many toilets and bathrooms and toys) was quite an adventure of mis-turns. They've built a few extra roads in our two-year absence!

But oh my, we've landed in a gorgeous place: Brisbane. I don't want to make you jealous, but the space, the grass, the wide lanes on roads, the gum trees, the abundance of green and trees in general, and the blue skies and even a horizon . . . it is magnificent and a balm to Tokyo-sore eyes. And we've only just begun. We have another 5 1/2 weeks of this gorgeousness to endure :-)

Oh and the temperatures. We've left a Tokyo rainy season to a Brisbane winter, and I've got to say the Brisbane winter wins. The temperatures are about the same during the day (Brisbane's cooler at night), but the sky was blue, so blue! I understand they've had a "rotten" week, but we sure landed on a good one, probably a more typical Brisbane winter day, to be honest.

The day didn't cease to be awesome. My parents had prepared a BBQ. It took a while to find a park with a functioning electric BBQ, but once we did. Yum! Under that blue sky and surrounded by grass and gum trees. Who wouldn't be impressed!

Then we cruised home for a rest. I think I was the only one who slept, so everyone will crash tonight. I'm glad I had an alarm on, or otherwise I wouldn't have woken until the sun went down, I was so gone!

Groceries
Then we roused ourselves for one more outing. Groceries. I always look forward to my first grocery trip back in the country with mixed feelings. On the one hand it is so exciting to be in the same store as all those things we have only dreamed about since we left the country. But on the other hand there are so many choices, it can be very overwhelming.

Today's grocery store had 19 aisles! The shop I usually use two or three times weekly has only three aisles, and they are all less than one third the length of those aisles I cruised today.

Probably my salvation was that we had kids with us, so we worked quickly. Not too much time for thinking deeply about choices helped a lot.

And now . . . 
So tonight, after an Australian morning tea (raisin bread, lamingtons, bacon and cheese bread) and an Australian lunch (BBQ with snags and beetroot), we follow-up with an Australian dinner — meat pies! Awesome.

Then, bed. Zzzzzzzzzz.

29 June, 2012

In transit

So, we're on the "road". We've been moving since 9 this morning and we've only gotten as far as Seoul so far (it's 6.30 Japan time, 7.30 Queensland time). In a couple of hours we'll board our overnight flight back to Brisbane.

But I'm already tired, it'll be pretty bad by tomorrow morning when we land. I've no idea how people fly halfway around the world, that sounds extremely exhausting. Thankfully we found some free lounges and are lounging.

There really isn't much to do for older boys.
Shopping? No.
Little kids playgrounds? No.
Sipping coffee in a cafe? No.
Walking in crowds with wheels luggage holders? Yes, but dangerous.
Other moving transports like moving walkways? Yes, but it gets boring and dangerous.

So, we're holed up "resting" with the boys trying to concentrate on whatever they brought in their backpacks. But they really are restless, tired but lacking in concentration.

There is nothing else much notable about today really. It has been a very smooth journey. I'm so glad to have slightly older kids. The last time we travelled overseas a family was two years ago. Two years makes a difference.

Hopefully our family and friends won't be too shocked by the changes. Oh and my hair. Everyone I know in Japan has gotten used to my short hair, but now I have to do the Australian rounds.

So, next stop: Australia!

28 June, 2012

Excitement building

Today we're finalising things. Tidying up the house more than usual due to having house-sitters coming on Sunday. It is actually a blessing because we've cleaned up many of those little piles that just sit around waiting for someone to make a decision about. We've dusted (or will dust) in places that usually get ignored, and done a general house clean.

My suitcase is partway packed. I believe the boys are pretty packed. (David supervised them, yah for a great packer for a husband!) Our turtle-sitter just came to pick up Tiny for his summer "vacation". After lunch vacuumed the dining-kitchen-entrance area and mopped. Next I'll clean both toilets. Just bits and pieces.

The excitement is building, no one, not even our teenager, slept in this morning (I did a little, but that was because I couldn't switch off mentally last night and it got late). We had to take the boys for a ride this morning, because they were getting too loud with pent-up energy.

Last night around the dinner table the energy was getting too much, so I pulled out a book to fill in some time while everyone finished their meal. I happened upon a book I pulled out of a free-box from the school library. Rhyming Dictionary. Now you wouldn't expect that to be a very interesting read, would you? But the guys took turns in asking me to look up words and we had some unexpected results. The most memorable is the list that reads:

beanie
genie
meany
teeny
wienie (which is a homonym to weeny, as in tiny)
bikini
Houdini (who couldn't get out of the teeny, wienie bikini!)

Oh boy, we had trouble regaining control after that lot.

But we were in for some surprises. Some lists reminded us that this was an American dictionary (though with all the different accents in America, I'm sure that all Americans wouldn't agree on all the lists either). For example, these words purportedly rhyme:

Aussie
bossy
glossy
mossy
posse
saucy

For all those out there who don't understand the problem. Aussie is pronounced correctly as Ozzie. Rhyming with mozzie (except you probably don't know our abbreviation for mosquito).

And these:

con
dawn
don
drawn
fawn
gone
John
on
pawn
baton
coupon
python
pecan
Yvonne
Genghis Khan

According to this dictionary, "reservoir" rhymes with salad bar as well as dinosaur. So I guess that is a sign that there are different pronounciations within the states. We have ourselves a son who's studied French for two years and tells us that the way (most) Australians say it is the French way, as in, rhymes with star.

Oh well, away from linguistics and back to packing and cleaning. I'm hoping to be done by 8.30 so that David and I can watch the next episode of Grey's Anatomy (we have the second series on DVD). We watched the first of a two part-er last night, finishing with the main character having her hand on a live bomb which was inside the body cavity of a patient! No, don't tell me what happens!

As for now, a coffee, then back to the cleaning.

27 June, 2012

Pre-holiday finalisation

I've just spent all day finalising things for Japan Harvest, the magazine I edit. It feels like I'm back in my "old" working days as an sole Occupational Therapist, where I had to "finish" things before I left for holidays and would find a mountain of stuff to do when I got back.

Difference here is that I have boys and a husband buzzing around in the background (because my office is our dining room), and that I have team members to whom I can off-load a certain amount of the work in my absence. The other difference is email and the Internet. Most of my work is done on the computer and I'll still be able to do a certain amount when I have Internet access in Australia.

But, the question is, "Will I want to?" Probably not. Especially if it pulls me away from other exciting people-events. Maybe if the people-events are boring . . .

And then there is the 15 days where I'll be driving in the Aussie Outback without much hint of  Internet access. I'm ready for a break. Bring it on!

Back to Japan Harvest, I'm excited about how it's going. I've been with the magazine now almost two years, but we've particularly made a lot of progress in the last six months. The new team that is forming is running well. We've got a Mission Statement and Job Descriptions are being written (the Job Description thing was big, so essential for working in a team and working to not step on other's toes or double up work). Processes that formerly were just in people's heads are getting written down and the editorial process is getting more refined. And so on.

It's been a big challenge, and continues to be a challenge, but one that I've been able to get my teeth into and enjoy. I'm looking forward to seeing our current issue in print. We've made some significant changes in how it looks. Our new production editor/designer has been working hard and it's looking great (at least I think so).

But for now I've spent too long at this here computer. Time to go and make my gluts do more than just sit on this seat. Off to the gym, then to make dinner with almost the last remains in the fridge. I think we'll be eating out tomorrow night, our last night before we fly.


26 June, 2012

How Churches can Support Their Missionaries

Early in May I asked you to edit me (here).I had such a big response from that endeavour, that I thought that I'd show you what I created after your edits and suggestions. Enjoy, and use the suggestions if you can.


How Churches can Support Their Missionaries
By Wendy Marshall
There are many ways you can support missionaries. Different people feel comfortable with different ways of doing it. Here's a grab bag of ideas you might like to consider.

Let them know they are remembered
Missionaries love to know that they’re remembered. And because they aren’t with you, it is hard for them to know unless they’re told or shown. Emails, letters, postcards, Facebook messages etc., are always welcome. Phone calls or Skype calls are sometimes difficult to fit into busy lives, but they can be especially encouraging. Paul models this in his first letter to the Thessalonians, telling the church, not only that he was praying for them, but what he was praying. Hearing someone pray for you or about their prayers for you is a wonderful blessing — pass it on to your missionaries.

If your missionary is working in a limited access country, it would be wise to check with them or their mission’s home office about what guidelines they have for safe communication. You don’t want to cause them difficulties and different countries have different limitations.

Keep them informed
It is helpful to keep missionaries informed of changes in the church, especially if you are their home or one of their main supporting churches. This includes leadership changes, a change in the church’s name, or mission contact change, as well as more basic contact detail changes. When sending out prayer letters each month, it can be a drag to find that many emails are returned. Including the missionaries in the church directory and ensuring that they get a copy is one way to help keep them informed.

Many missionaries like to know what is happening in their home church; so let them know about significant events like church camps, baptisms, births, deaths and marriages. These things can help a missionary feel included and also make it less of a shock to transition back into the church when they’re home.

Include them
Including your missionary when they are out of the country takes creativity but can range from being included in email conversations, to being asked for input in a Bible study via email. You could also ask your missionaries for photos to show at church during a missionary spot or prayer time.

Visit them
Have you considered whether your missionaries would enjoy a pastoral visit? Think about sending one or more members of your church or leadership team to visit a missionary your church supports, particularly if they are members of your church.

But do consult first with the missionaries. Different people have different coping thresholds when it comes to houseguests. It can be easy to become overwhelmed with visitors, and some missionaries seem to get more than others. Be aware that they have busy ministries to attend to, as well as potential limitations in providing you with accommodation. Ask them when a good time would be for you to visit, and be sensitive about the length of your visit. Be considerate about their finances too. You don’t want to cause the missionary distress by cleaning out their pantry without helping out with the expense. You also might consider taking a suitcase full of goodies from home; it could be a huge blessing for them.

Care for them with gifts
Different people feel loved in different ways (as in The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman). Love can come in care packages too, especially ones that have been thoughtfully put together. A surprise is good, but a care package is even better if it contains items that your missionary especially wants, so it is good to ask them what they’d like.

Show loving concern for their family
Caring for missionaries’ families at home can be a way that churches can show their love and support. We have a colleague whose father became a Christian after their home church showed care for him, drawing him to church, and eventually he commited his life to the Lord.

When they are in your country
Missionaries appreciate practical care when they’re transitioning in and out of the country. A full pantry speaks volumes when you’ve just landed back in your home country and cannot face grocery shopping yet. Finding accommodation and transport, setting up telecommunications, and finding local services are ways that you can help your missionary when they’re coming back from overseas.

Coming back to a church you’ve been absent from for a long time can be scary. It is nice if missionaries are welcomed back as if they are locals who’ve been away for a while.

Missionaries love it when they’re given a reasonable amount of time to talk about what they’ve been doing in front of the whole church. It is fine to give a firm limit on how long they can talk, but consider how difficult it is to summarise years of ministry in only a couple of minutes.

Most missionaries love to have one-on-one conversations with you. This can be difficult to achieve on a Sunday morning, so think of creative ways that you can get to know your missionaries better when they are home.

Missionaries especially enjoy it when you ask thoughtful questions and stick around for the answer, even if it is a bit lengthy. They love it when they find out people actually read and remember their prayer letters. There’s a joke in missionary circles about the people who enquire about the wrong country; for example China, when we’re actually serving in Japan. Missionaries joke about it, but it really isn’t funny. Missionaries love it when you remember to enquire about the smaller details they’ve mentioned in their recent prayer letters, for example, “How’s Mr. Suzuki going?” if Mr. Suzuki is someone they’ve been meeting for Bible Study.

It's up to you
How you manage all this as a church is up to you. You can have a missionary committee; you can have one person dedicated to missionary care. You can have a mission-minded pastor who promotes mission as a matter of course. You can have, as we do, a small group dedicated especially to help, advocate, and pray for each missionary family. You can have regular missionary “Spots”, a mission’s night, weekend, or month. You can have mission displays around the church. You can distribute literature or summaries of prayer letters, and hold regular missions prayer meetings.

There are many ways to go about it and different people are comfortable with supporting missionaries in different ways. However, we've found that it really needs to come from the top. Unless the leadership of a church is mission-minded, it is difficult for a church to be mission-minded. We ourselves have lots of individual supporters, but not so many mission-minded churches.

But you needn’t be discouraged if your church isn’t mission-focussed. There's nothing to stop you from taking a step and doing just one thing from this list. You may never know until heaven the difference it might make to someone having a tough time.

It is easy for missionaries to feel that we're out of sight, out of mind. But missionaries are still a part of the body of Christ — we're the hands that are overseas. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:25 "There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other" (NIV)

25 June, 2012

Rubber starts to hit the road for our departure

We've been planning details for ages for our trip to Australia this year. We'd planned to do this since we left two years ago, and the first set detail was booking a motorhome just before the end of 2011. And ever since then we've been planning various details, including

  • our schedule
  • where we would be staying
  • cars
  • what churches we'll be visiting and when
  • house sitter details and instructions 
  • communicating with family and close friends about meeting up 
  • organising open days etc.

But now the rubber is starting to hit the road. This morning I rang my Australian doctor to make an appointment for next week. That freaked me out a bit. I used Skype, but it was just weird ringing and talking to them as if I were in the next suburb. Then I rang our optometrist to make an appointment there too. There I discovered that our Medicare cards have expired. And I don't know where our new ones are, or if we have new ones.

This kind of thing makes me feel nervous. Shuttling in and out of countries has this hidden stress factor. We have two sets of "identity documents". Two sets of medical cards, two sets of licenses, two sets of bank cards etc. Plus other things that responsible citizens have to pay attention too, like taxes, membership cards to various organisations, etc. And then other cards that aren't so relevant to a short-term visit, like library cards, private health insurance cards (that we cannot activate, being so short a visit), etc.

When we arrive in Australia we'll have to at least call Centrelink (for non-Aussies: the social security institution) to inform them that we're in-country again. We also REALLY need to go to our bank and sort out our credit cards. I have been unable to use my for the last 20 months because of a mix up in details that I haven't been able sort out via phone (they are very suspicious), and they keep telling me to visit the local branch.

My grocery shopping habits have also temporarily changed. I'm not buying more than what we can eat in the next three days. My chest freezer is empty. Because we're only going away for 5 1/2 weeks, I don't need to empty the pantry, but we have been working on the things that have lurked there and are close to or past use-by dates.

I guess the next thing (aside from doing a "spring clean") will be pulling out our suitcases and packing them. For some reason that doesn't freak me out as much as the bureaucratic details above. We don't actually need too much, just clothes.

And in fact, the less we take, the more Weetbix (for non-Aussies: breakfast cereal the boys love), we can fit into our luggage on the way home. I also have a long shopping list for other things to buy while we're there, ranging from mixed fruit for our Christmas cake to new lunch boxes and camping cutlery. Various pharmacy and feminine hygiene items also feature highly on my list. As do some new tracksuit pants for the boys and some other clothing items (like underwear for me).

I'd better go and shake the fridge and see what I get squeeze out of it tonight so that it looks even more empty.

24 June, 2012

A time to say hello, a time to say goodbye

It is that season again. In our lives around the middle of every year we say goodbyes and hellos. A few of the goodbyes are usually "we don't know if we'll see you this side of heaven" type goodbyes. Even if we ourselves aren't going anywhere, there are always others who are, in this international community. I wrote a bit about it here last year. 


A friend who is relatively new to this type of international living said to me the other day, "You'll surely miss K...!" (A missionary going on home assignment for 12 months.) I think I surprised her by not producing the appropriate emotion. 


I've not grown cold to my friends who say goodbye for a time, but I do put those friendships aside for a while. Or as one person observed about the CAJ student body, we keep a special place for that person, ready for them if or when they return. 


Not holding onto my friendships too tightly allows me to make it through these goodbyes without being too emotionally traumatised each time, but it also leaves room for new friendships. For there will always be new people who come along needing a friend. The new friends don't replace the old, but rather each friendship weaves their own special pattern into my life's story. My life would be poorer without them. 


And yes, I know that the time will come to say goodbye to these new friends too, but I'd become a very lonely person if I let that stop me making new friends. It probably makes me (and many others who live a similar lifestyle) more intense and intentional in our friendships. I know that I can't waste much time. Waiting around with months of shallow conversation won't do the trick (I wrote a bit about this back here).


So back to today. 


At church this morning we sat behind a young friend from India who we've only known since late last year. We've had, as she puts it, "random conversations after church," including, of course, cricket! She told me today two specific things that meeting us has meant to her: that there ARE Australian missionaries (not just sports fans in Australia, as is the image in India) and that as she sat behind us on many Sundays she saw "a beautiful aspect of Christian life — the love of a family." Who could have thought that such things would be an encouragement?


Also at church this morning is a family I said goodbye to 12 months ago. The mum (who has three boys) is particularly dear to me as we studied the Bible together in a small group for several months over the months surrounding the tsunami disaster last year. So good to see them back in Japan after their home assignment in Canada. A spot has been reserved in my heart and my story for her.

23 June, 2012

Robot suits for Farmers?

Here's something interesting I read recently. I guess with my background in Occupational Therapy, I find it even more interesting and wonder about other applications than just for farming:


ROBOT SUITS FOR FARMERS

Manual labor is becoming more and more difficult for Japan's aging farmers. This prompted Prof. Shigeki Toyama from the Universityof Tokyo to devise a high-tech solution. He developed a robot suit which he named Power Assist.

In January, 2010, Prof. Shigeki Toyama had the suits field-tested by grape farmers in Kofu during their harvest time. The farmers praised the equipment, saying they felt less tired. They look forward to wearing the suits which will be sold commercially from 2012.

People aged 65 and older are a key pillar of the agricultural work force, accounting for about 60% of the agricultural population inJapan. The development of the robot suit should come as welcome news to such elderly farmers since it is difficult for them to work for hours on end in a kneeling position or to lift heavy bundles of crops. Many suffer chronic pain in their lower backs, knees and elbows.

The robot suit has straps which fasten to the body, making it easy to wear. Four ultrasonic wave motors, which generate electric power from ultrasonic vibrations, are situated at the knees and on both sides of the lower back. Users can set the arms of the suit to a number of positions. Work such as harvesting grapes, which requires farmers to keep their arms raised, becomes less difficult.

When Power Assist users work in a kneeling or crouching position, they feel as if they are sitting in a chair as the motors support their bodies. The professor says that pulling a Daikon (a Japanese radish with an average weight of 3 lbs/1.3 kg) out of the ground usually requires muscle power equivalent to that needed to lift a 30-kilogram (66 lb) object, but using the robot suit reduces the figure to less than half.

The robot suit's movements can be controlled by various methods including commands spoken into a microphone.

“Through the robot suits I want to promote what agriculture might be for the next generation,” Toyama said.
Source: Yomiuri News 2010-08-23

22 June, 2012

Our unexpected camping adventures

So we're back from camping. And we did have an adventure! It went a bit differently from how we'd planned, mostly because of the typhoon that ploughed through the area on our second night.

Behind our tent. Blissfully vacant.
On Monday morning as we were packing up to go we received a phone call from the campsite telling us that a typhoon was forecast and that it would probably be too dangerous to camp there on Tuesday evening. I felt like a balloon that had developed a hole. I hate it when I'm looking forward to something very much and then something happens that threatens the event. So, I prayed, and I asked other people to pray, that this typhoon would go elsewhere, that we'd be able to continue on with our plans. Desperately I clung to the hope that my much anticipated break would not be destroyed.

When we got to the campsite a bit after 2pm, we rolled up to the Service Centre full of hope (or at least I did). And they refused to allow us to register for more than one night. My dream of a three night camp was over. Blow!

Dinner the first night. Lots of campfire action!
But then we threw ourselves into enjoying our short stay as much as we could, for example we ate an enormous amount of food for dinner. And we didn't totally set up camp, we didn't set up our awning that usually covers our table and cooking area.

We still went to bed hopeful that that weather forecast would be different in the morning. However we knew that we probably didn't have any chance, because we had to decide by about 7.30 whether to pack up or not, before the Service Centre was open, and there was no internet access for us to check the weather independently. We had to decide that early because we had to go to town, 45 mins away, to pick up our middle son from camp, which finished at 10am.

So, though the sky was a little grey, there was no rain when we awoke (at 4.30am!) on Tuesday morning. Nor was there a message from the managers of the park to say we could stay longer. So, we packed up. We had no idea what the rest of the day would hold. That was a bit unsettling, and pretty unusual for us planning Marshalls!

We got back to our son's campsite (through 22 tunnels) in time and just as it started to drizzle. At that point I started to feel like we'd done the right thing in packing up. I tried to capitalise on some networking I'd done previously and asked one of the campsite caretakers I'd previously met if she knew of anywhere we could stay. She was keen to help, but didn't know too many options that were within our budget (it is a fairly expensive area). One she knew of was a youth hostel, where you could rent a room, but with no privacy and nowhere you could cook your own food and nowhere for three energetic boys to play. Another we eventually found and enquired at, but it would have cost us 42,000 yen (or more than $AU500) for one night. Another camping place with cabins was full and we were getting desperate.

The lounge that turned into a comfortable
bed for David and I, and the staircase to
the loft for the boys.
The boys were restless and we were frustrated, so we put it to them. Should we give up and go home? Our eldest son, the one most unsettled by uncertainty, implored that we continue our search. So we stopped and made sandwiches and continued on. The next place we tried was another Christian retreat centre. They had room for us, so we went.

It was like a palace. We had a room with a loft, plus a large meeting room with games and Lego. Plus our own bathroom and access to a kitchen where we could cook our own food. It was wonderful and the boys loved it. We just looked out at the rain soaking the ground and the wind slashing the trees around and knew that though God hadn't redirected the typhoon, he'd provided all we needed.

We were the only residents
at Fukuin no ie. And they
put our names up on the
board at the entrance.
The next morning the sun was shining and the blue sky we hadn't seen in weeks was out on show. We were able to stay till after lunch and then take our eldest son to his camp (at the same campsite we'd picked his brother up from the day before).

Earlier in the morning we went for a bit of a stroll down the river. It was raging. As we tried to take various "off road" trails, we soon were stopped by our not-waterproof shoes. The water was flowing everywhere. So glad that we weren't camped out the night before. Not to mention that we wouldn't have gotten much sleep because it would have been so noisy in a tent.

Japan, a land of origami mountains!
As we walked along I probed our middle son about whether he wanted to go camping that night. We'd decided in the quiet time after we put the boys to bed, but before we went to bed the night before that if it were nice the next day we'd go camping again . . . but only if our middle son wanted to. Sounds a bit odd, but he'd been at a camp himself (not under canvas) since Friday and was potentially very tired. He's also a pretty volatile chap and we didn't want to be in the position of forcing him to do something he really didn't want him to do. But neither did we want him to miss out on camping with the family.

So I did some delicate negotiation (up there with diplomatic negotiation). He was leaning towards going home (he is a bit of a home-bod), but when I mentioned that he'd miss out on cooking sausages over the fire, he changed his mind instantly. Sausages—I'd hit on the key!

From behind our tent to the covered outdoor kitchen.
So we went back and set up our tent again, at the same convenient tent-site as before. We had an onsite covered kitchen all to ourselves and the toilets were very close. There were only one other set of campers and they were way up the hill, we saw them twice. It was so peaceful.

It was fun, and not too stressful. The weather was gorgeous and temperature much nicer than humidity and heat that Tokyo was suffering. And we had sausages!

Now we're back, after three nights away. I'm so glad for that mental break. I've spent the day tied to the computer checking magazine proofs. The break earlier in the week was wonderful, even if not quite what I expected.




18 June, 2012

We're all going on a summer camping trip

Today we're heading off to the first camping place we went to last year. We're going more than a month earlier this time, so we're anticipating that it will be a little cooler, and wetter, because this is the "rainy" season in this part of the world.

If you want to check out some of the amazing views we'll see, click here to find my blog post from our last visit there. Unbelievably, we won't be leaving Tokyo. Did you know Tokyo has a "wild" side?


We're all very much looking forward to it. I'll see you after I get back on Thursday.

PS We've been informed by the campsite that a typhoon is headed our way on our second night. We might have to change our plans that night. Stay tuned for news on the twist in our camping adventure. (Prayers would be appreciated, it would be a real let-down to have to come home prematurely.)

17 June, 2012

Straddling the ocean on fathers

It's Father's Day here. Truth is, it is in my head but not in my heart.

David's early days of Fatherhood
That sounds harsh. Australians celebrate Father's Day in September, so it is hard to associate a day in June with the day. However, because we live here, not there, I'm trying to do Father's Day here for David today. And then remember to remember it in September for our own fathers in Australia.

So, it's been pretty low key here. A small present from us. And I relieved David of Sunday School teaching this morning, so he could go to church (and not have to oversea the making of his own Father's Day present). I hope he feels appreciated. We love him so much.

I saw on Facebook the other day a question about if you'd thought about what kind of father your future spouse would be before you married him. Actually David asked me to think about  whether I'd like him to be the father of my children . . . on our first date. Yes — it was a bit of a shocking first date. The sort of happy shocking that left me unable to sleep the whole night! You probably now want to know — we were engaged about 11 weeks after that first date. I've never regretted that decision. And yes, he is a wonderful father (even if he doesn't always think so himself).

16 June, 2012

It's happening!

"I feel absurdly happy." That's one phrase that's been floating around in my head today. But is isn't correct: it isn't absurd that I feel happy today.

The other phrase is related: "It's happening!" Today we've started packing for camping on Monday. It's been a while since we've been and I'm excited to be going again. It's been a crazy week. Hundreds of emails received and over a hundred written. I'll be happy to be a long way from a computer next week for a few days, a break definitely is needed.

I'm also happy because the cause of a great number of those emails is the Summer Issue of Japan Harvest, which is in the final stages of being put into magazine format by our production editor. This morning I saw a partial "proof" (which is like a draft, it looks like the magazine will look, but is on my computer). It is looking great. I'm excited . . . and happy.

But I did remember last week, with a shock, that we are going camping in the "rainy season," not that it seems to rain an awful lot more than most of the rest of the year (it rains 117 days a year in Tokyo). I checked the weather this morning on several websites. They generally conclude that we could see thunderstorms on our first day, and a moderate chance of rain on Tuesday, with less of a chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday. I did come across a bit of an error. I don't know if it was bad English or just a typo. But one site suggested we'd be in for "tons of rain" on Tuesday. David suggested it probably should read "times of rain"! I hope so.

David bought a new plastic box with a lid yesterday for storing stuff in while we're camping. Here's what it said on the label: "Create for smartly space with freedom." Hmmm.

The weather report also told me that the sun gets up at 4.28 on Tuesday. Good thing I bought some eye masks at the 100 yen store the other day. They also have some great English on them: "The surface is soft and used nappy material." Used material? And here's me thinking that they were new! They include earplugs and have some nice instructions for them:

  1. Though you make an ear plug revolve by a fingertip, please make it thin.
  2. Please insert an ear plug slowly while putting it in badly and playing attention.
  3. An ear plug is full and it will fit in about 20 seconds.
Hmmm. I must tell anyone who intends to use them that they need to make sure they make them thin, don't make them revolve, to be sure to put them in badly and count to 20 slowly!

The 100 yen shop is always good for finding funny bad-English. Here's some more I found on Wednesday:
Love the "A double zipper does not express water". As a bonus
it has "a scale to understand quantity of water"!
This is priceless.
It says: "when the box is used to keep coldness,always put refigerant (other selling) together in. (sic)
You've just got to laugh.

In the meantime, I'm happily anticipating camping, whether it rains or not, next week.



15 June, 2012

A notable Friday

This last 12 months seems to have been full of important (or at least busy) Fridays.

Just these few weeks include: Last Friday which was the last day of school and graduation of the seniors and in two weeks we fly to Australia, on a Friday. In five weeks we will begin our long journey to Uluru . . . on a Friday.

Today is no exception in exceptional Fridays.

Today we send our middle son off to his first camp. In fact he has hardly ever been to a sleep-over in his nearly 10 years. He is excited and slightly apprehensive. We know him to be a cautious chap who doesn't like to jump into the unknown. So his courage in facing this large four-night unknown is encouraging to me.

His class award at the end of the school year was for being the class's "Thorough Thinker". So of course, he has done some research. He checked around his friends at school and knows that several of them will also be at camp. He also knows several of the leaders (US=counsellors). He'll be fine. I look forward to hearing of all his adventures when he gets home.

In the meantime we'll have a strange situation at home. Only two boys, the eldest and the youngest. It will be weird, but we have manufactured our own adventure. We head off camping ourselves on Monday (about 20 or 30 min down the road from the boys' campsite). We'll pick him up from camp on Tuesday and drop off our eldest son on Wednesday, then come home ourselves on Thursday. But we are facing almost 10 days with only two boys around. It will indeed be weird, and another milestone in the journey of parenting: children old enough to go to camp without us!

14 June, 2012

SQUIRT time

Shhh, can you hear — the silence? Actually it isn't silent, just let me go and fix that . . .

(sounds of Mum laying down the law)

Ah, that's better.

You may have wondered what SQUIRT time is. It is the silence that keeps us sane on days that our boys are home all day. And that includes the 75 days of summer holidays.

S super/special
Q quiet
U uninterrupted
I individual
R reading
T time

So it really ought to be SQUIR time or just SQUIRT, but anyway, sometimes we say, "we're squirting now".

It is rest/reading time on beds, usually straight after lunch. Or, as someone else calls it "BOB: bottoms on beds".

I like this acronym because it sounds so fun, much better than rest or reading time. Particularly "rest". No boy (at least none of mine) likes that term unless they have been climbing a mountain for ages. My boys like reading, but still it is often hard for them to withdraw from the craziness that develops between them all, to just read. If everyone is doing it, then there is no one to distract them.

By the way, I can't claim to have invented the acronym, I discovered it in a homeschooling book a few years back. Now, my boys have even been heard to exclaim, "Yay, SQUIRT time!" Amazing!

We especially enforce it on Sunday afternoons and during long holidays like we have at present. It's getting better and better as they get older, especially now our seven year old can read for longer periods on his own. Truly, SQUIRT time is one of our survival techniques. Three boys are exhausting.

Usually I try to take some lie down-reading time myself, but this week it has been one of the few times I could get some uninterrupted working time. And not only has this been a busy week with the boys all home (and David at work), but I've had a lot of email action happening. Mostly related to the upcoming issue of the Japan Harvest magazine, which is in the design phase right now. I've read 100 emails related to the magazine since I got up on Monday morning and written about 75 (these weren't all magazine related), in addition to a few other things (like writing this blog, for example). Life has been busy this week.

I'm really looking forward to going camping on Monday for four days: no internet access and no computer. It will be very refreshing. I think we'll be enforcing SQUIRT time there too, it is a great excuse to go and chill out with a book.


13 June, 2012

I can't believe I managed to do that

Taking most boys clothes shopping is like trying to pry apart a brick wall. Pretty painful and nearly impossible to do successfully. But I did it today.

This morning I had my usual Magazine Editorial meeting by Skype. We shifted it earlier to accommodate the fact that I had the boys home on holidays and that they get restless after mid-morning.

I don't think the boys (even my 13 y.o.) have yet clicked to the fact that we try to get them outdoors and exercising in some way, every day. Or that when they start to get rowdy, it is often because their bodies need some bigger outlet than bashing around in our little house. Again, with no backyard I have to be far more intentional in getting them outside. For some reason they are usually very reluctant to go out (or usually one of the three of them, a different "one" each time), but love it once they are.

Anyway, today I saw the need to get out soon after my meeting and suggested a ride to our favourite 100 yen store (where almost everything is 100 yen plus 5% tax) to buy a couple of things for camping and out upcoming overnight plane trip (think, for example, eye-masks). Interestingly, today's most-reluctant-to-go-outside boy today piped up and said he needed new socks. Perfect, I thought: We'd slip in a visit to the clothing store that is conveniently located just off our return journey from the 100 yen shop! In the back of my mind was the possibility of getting the two older boys, who are in desperate need of new shorts, to agree to try a couple of pairs on and maybe purchase them. (I'd planned to take my eldest shorts-shopping on Monday but he'd point-blank refused.)


So we rode to the 100 yen shop, a decent length journey, about 2.5km, some of it uphill. Our tradition at a 100 yen shop with the boys is to allow them to choose one item for themselves. This used to involve cheap plastic toys, but their tastes are getting more sophisticated over the years. This time they had a lot of difficulty choosing their item. It was after 12 before we finished, so I engaged them in a discussion about one snack (for 100 yen) to split between them. It was challenging for them to agree on one thing, but I believe these sorts of discussions and negotiations are great life skills to learn.
Three boys in adjacent changing rooms. The third boy
decided he wanted a t-shirt, I didn't want to break the
momentum with the other two, so we found a cheap
one for him that didn't have skulls on it.

We ate our chocolate "coins" and headed off to the clothes shop for some "socks". When we finally all got there (the guys didn't listen too well to my directions, and of course rode ahead, so it took a bit of time for us all to arrive), I quickly found some socks and surreptitiously directed the boys to the shorts section. Working fast, I found some appropriate shorts and directed them to the change rooms.

Before the boys could really grasp what had just happened, we'd bought five pairs of shorts and were headed home on our bikes (the long way!).

I couldn't but help grinning to myself the whole way home! I'd not only gotten them to ride more than 5kms on their bikes, I'd bought necessary clothing that both fitted them and they liked. Awesome job!


12 June, 2012

Unlikely story

I cannot imagine training to compete in ten track events, to be performed over two days. But that is what decathletes do, and the book I've just read is by one of the best in the world. In fact in these coming Olympics he will be defending his gold medal from the Beijing Olympics.

I love biographies and really enjoy sporting biographies. And honest stories of people who've struggled with faith are the best. This has got all of that.

As a mum I also love to read stories of adults who struggled as kids, yet had praying mums and then the kids who became responsible, Jesus-following adults. There are no certainties in this life, not even with your kids. Even if I do a perfect job raising my boys, there is no certainty that they'll turn out okay. But it is always encouraging to read of a mum who did her best amidst challenging circumstances with a difficult child and see how that child turned out in the end. This is such a story.

The other exciting thing about this man is that he is genuine about his faith, and not afraid to say so about it. It isn't something we accidentally discover about him. He is up front in his book, and, it appears he is the same in his life. In fact his faith is central to everything he does, on the track and with his family too.

I'll be checking the results of the decathlon in the upcoming Olympics. If he medals in it, he will be the first ever person to win a medal in this event in three Olympics. God has indeed given him an incredible gift, and I'm so glad I got to read about his life to this point.


This is another review for http://booksneeze.com/ 

Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me for review by Thomas Nelson Bookshttp://BookSneeze.com. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


11 June, 2012

Let me count the ways to keep boys busy on holidays...

On Friday our boys began a 75 day summer holiday (US=vacation). That's a long time with three energetic boys in a small Japanese house with no backyard!

But we have plans. Lord willing...

40 of those days will be spent in (or getting to and from) Australia
10 of those days we'll have one or the other of our older two at camps
7 of those days we'll be camping ourselves (four of these days overlap with boys at summer camps)

Don't worry about the maths, but that leaves a lot of days still to keep boys busy.

Today we unwittingly scheduled an unusual piece of entertainment. We babysat for a friend. Her 10 month old boy came and spent a few hours with us. I don't know who was more entertained, our guest or my boys!

We collected him from his apartment late morning and walked down to the close-by river. Close to us is a flat place for playing. All four boys had fun and they didn't really want to go home for lunch.

Over lunch they were so entertained by our guest's eating habits (fistfuls of Cheerios and shoved in mouth, then tip the plate over and reach for my sandwich) that I had trouble getting my boys to concentrate long enough to spread their bread with peanut butter and eat it. After lunch they retreated to the lounge room and entertained our guest with various toys, as well as an impromptu puppet show. This turned into their own wrestling game and other big-boy games that were fun to watch, but a bit dangerous for our crawling guest.

Nonetheless a fun time was had all round and his mum tells me she got a lot done (she's the Production Editor of our magazine and is currently working on putting the Summer Issue into Magazine format, as well as moving house in under two weeks). From my part it was lovely to see the way my boys looked after a little boy and how much enjoyment they got from serving someone else.

And guess what? We've volunteered to do it all again tomorrow. I wonder if it will go just as well?

By the way, I'm not yet ready to rent my boys out as babysitters, they really needed an adult present to fill in the gaps in their attention to the baby!


10 June, 2012

Staying centred

We have a lot going on still. But in the midst of it all I'm reading a book (for a book review here later for Book Sneeze). It is by an Olympic Decathlete. He's reminded me today to keep my eyes on Jesus. One of the key verses in my life:


I think that's the best thing I can do today and the best thing I can encourage you to do too.

09 June, 2012

40 hours of intensity

So the last 40 hours have gone by in a bit of a blur. School finished yesterday to a bit of a bang!

Old photo, these are our Australian
friends who visited last year at a
Yakiniku restaurant.
On Thursday night we took the boys out to a Yakiniku restaurant to celebrate the end of another year of school. These Japanese restaurants let you cook your own meat at the table. Very attractive for kids! A lovely hot flame in the middle of the table! This restaurant also had a drink bar and a small salad and dessert bar. Not your cheap family restaurant, but a fun place to have a celebration. We certainly ate a lot of food!

First Grade Party
Yesterday was a half-day of school, typical for a final day before a break at CAJ. I went to the usual PTA Parents in Prayer meeting at 8.30, then filled in time at the library, selecting books for the long summer holidays ahead (kids are allowed to take out 25 books each, a great policy). At 9.45 the Grade One class started their end-of-year celebration, a relatively low-key affair and just down the hall the Grade Threes marked the end of the year with a slide show of photos from the year as well as presentations to the kids and teachers. I dashed between the two, probably spending more time with the Grade Ones because they had food (!!).

Then I had another half and hour for library browsing, and then that had the so-called Elementary Chapel. It turned out to actually be the Grade Five "graduation". Yes, officially finishing elementary and they all filed across the stage getting a certificate.

By 11.30 it was all over, the whole school year was finished. My kids looked like overblown balloons that had been popped. They didn't know what emotion to feel. After being so excited all week (to the point of having trouble eating breakfast in the mornings), they just looked like they had no idea what to do next.

Thankfully I had plans.

One Grade One mum and invited the class to a pot-luck party at her small church just the other side of the train tracks. So many of us trekked over there and had a great time, although the kids were obviously tired and there were quite a number of instances of tears. We stayed there until about 3 and then I decided to quit while I was ahead and we walked home. It was the hottest day we've had yet this year, getting close to 30 degrees, and considering we've still been wearing long-sleeves every now and then, it was a bit shocking.

At 3.40 I fielded a phone call from my boss's wife about the Japan Calendar that I produce every year and which happens to be due about now. We talked for a bit and I got some other bits and pieces of computer work done. Then, all of a sudden it was 5 o'clock and we needed to get showers done and some food on the table. I didn't feel hungry in the least, but the guys had obviously not eaten as much as I had. So we had a kind of serve-your-self dinner with various elements to make your own meatless wraps. I myself had an apple and a small pot of yoghurt!
"Class of 2012", as they say.

Then we headed off to school at 6.30, dropping the younger boys at a nearby apartment to watch Japan thrash Jordan in soccer (as it turns out)! My teenager and I headed into the gym for the graduation and David joined the seniors to guide them into the gym after everyone else was settled. Graduation is kind-of like a wedding: with the graduates and teachers walking in to a processional after the audience is seated. I wrote a bit about American-style graduations here.
The other OMF mums who have
kids at CAJ, all of them boys!

The ceremony was mercifully short and then the fun began with the "reception" — again echoes of a wedding. We didn't get home with our kids until 10pm, though.

This morning I was supposed to meet a group of friends at 10am to farewell a dear friend who's going to work with her family on the other side of the island. I woke up at 9.55! Whoops. Thankfully we were meeting at a restaurant with breakfast food and the restaurant is only an 8 minute walk away! I was a little late, but it worked out okay.

Now I'm stuffed! I still am working on Japan Calendar stuff, and the bigger one, Japan Harvest summer issue. All our content was due to our designer yesterday. We got 95% of it to her, but the last few bits still are dribbling in and it is my experience that it is that last 5% that give you the most grief and takes the most time! So, before my boys finish their after-lunch-time-on-beds (otherwise known as SQUIRT time), I need to get some more work done on this computer.





08 June, 2012

Crazy Day

Today is a crazy day, last day of school. Elementary parties and so on until lunch time dismissal. Then I'm heading off to someone's apartment for a bring and share lunch with the two younger boys. Eldest is going with mates to a friend's birthday party. Hopefully we'll all get back together for dinner at 5.30, then off to CAJ's senior graduation, which is a really big deal in the school calendar. Also two of our mission's kids (I should say young men: they are miles taller than I) are graduating. The two younger ones are going to someone's apartment to watch Japan play Yemen in soccer and I guess we'll all get back together again around bed time.

I might get back here today, I might not. Hopefully I can post some photos later on in the weekend.

BANG and school is over.Then it is a 77 day wait until I can send them all off again. Good thing we have a couple of things planned to pass the days . . .

07 June, 2012

Dreaming of escape in a tent

One of the things that helps me in the midst of a tough time or extra busy time is to have something to plan or dream of for the future. I noted this last year in the midst of the craziness after the earthquake/tsunami disasters in March — it helped us in the midst of stress if we could dream about something like camping (see here).

This is the first time we camped last year, we'll be
back at the same campsite in under two weeks.
Yesterday I had a lunch date with my husband. It was tough to pull away from work, or even to pull away from discussing work at that time (I find that easier at night). But one thing we could talk and dream about was camping. Especially our vague plans for camping around Hokkaido next year in June/July. That is going to be a bigger undertaking than the short two-night jaunts we did last year fairly close to home (under two hours away). But we're looking forward to the challenge (and seeing Hokkaido countryside again).

We're also going camping again in under two weeks, back to the same place we first camped at last July.

It's been nearly seven months since we froze while camping down near Mt Fuji. It's been a long time in coming, we've been waiting for the weather to warm up and our schedule to be freed up. For this Queenslander, the winters, even in Tokyo, are long. I'm excited.

This time we're upping the bar and going for three nights, though for two of the nights we'll have two boys, not three. Our two older sons are each going to summer camps (a bit like SU camps, for my Aussie readers) in the same district. Their camps are separated by one day only, so our first night we'll camp with our eldest and youngest boys, then second day pick up our middle son and on our third day drop off our eldest son and on our fourth day go home. Confused yet?
This is a gorgeous part of Tokyo!

But now I need to figure out a menu. With no electricity on site and no gas fridge, it is a bit limited. Here are my thoughts:

Monday
Arrive after lunch
Tea: BBQ chicken wraps with salad. Dessert: brownies.

Tuesday (can do some shopping this day, get some more ice etc )
B: Sausages and toast
L: Sandwiches and fruit
T: Yakisoba (Japanese fried pork and noodle stir fry) with damper on sticks for dessert


Wednesday 
B: Bacon and Eggs and toast
L: Two minute noodles and fruit.
T: Nanna's Sausage and tomato soup spaghetti. Dessert? Marshmallows over campfire or banana with melted chocolate.

Thursday
B: Pancakes then pack up and head home.
L: Packed sandwiches (on the way home).


What do you dream about when you are under stress? Or do you have a different way of coping?


06 June, 2012

"Roast" turkey/chicken in Slow Cooker

On Monday we ate delicious "roast" turkey legs, even though I was out of the house from 8.20 till 5pm! This is the simplest recipe and totally delicious. The turkey was so moist! And the whole thing (minus the end bits) took me all of 10 minutes to do.

1.5-2kg of turkey/chicken pieces (mine were turkey legs)

Baste the pieces with the following mixture:
1 tablespoon soy sauce (if soy sauce is a problem for you, I'm sure you could substitute something else here)
1 teaspoon of oil
1 teaspoon of garlic, onion or celery salt (I think I used powdered garlic and some onion pepper)

Toss the meat in the slow cooker, no liquid added.

I cooked it for nine hours on low, but my husband tells me it was cooked about three hours before we ate it. It varies for each slow cooker, mine is fairly small and cooks fairly fast.

Before serving I took out some of the juice and added Gravox to make gravy.

It smelt like roast turkey, looked like roast turkey, tasted like roast turkey. Terrific!

Not taking offence, rather grow

Yesterday I saw a great post about dealing with criticism of your writing. Actually, part of it is applicable to dealing with criticism about anything you do (as opposed to criticism about who you are).

Part of my job is criticising people's writing. That comes with considerable risk to me as the editor, particularly when I have little or no relationship with that person. It is very easy for them to take offence at my criticisms. So I'm usually fairly gentle in my approach, and never say things like, "This is rubbish."

This little post helps to debunk the mistaken belief that if something you do if criticised, then the critic is actually saying that you are no good as a person.

I might even save this article for future reference. Actually it would be a good thing to have a future Writer's Workshops that I'll do . . .

05 June, 2012

A bit of unwanted excitement

Today the Senior do the oral presentation of something that I don't fully understand, but it is a large project that they've worked on over several months. It is supra-subject, from what I understand. That is, it isn't just for one subject that they're studying. Today they do a something like 30 min presentation that is assessed by a panel of three teachers. That means that all the teachers of the school are pulled in to do this and all the students of the school are given a day off. Middle and High schoolers are required to go and listen to one or more of these (depending on their grade level).

So, with the end of school only days away, I have the kids home today. I feel almost like holidays have begun. Wednesday and Thursday, the last full days of school, are just bonuses!

But what I didn't want to do today, and what I never try to do when I have the boys on my own, is to shop. Especially clothes shopping. But it turns out that our 13 y.o. needed a white shirt for French tomorrow. In typical fashion he told us too late, and today was the only time we could do it. So, I marshalled the boys and we headed off on the "long" route to a very local, cheap clothing store. (The "long" route to help get rid of some energy.)

Turns out the shop was shut. So our most reluctant shopper (9 y.o.) immediately turned around and rode home, without waiting to hear what we were going to do about it. I sent my eldest off after him, and he had a terrible job trying to persuade his brother that he needed to stick with us a bit longer. (I figured it was just deserts, considering that the whole excursion might have been avoided if our eldest had communicated appropriately with us!)

So we rode a fair bit further to a shopping centre and found a white shirt. But by this time it was getting close to lunch time and the bad-boy-shopping syndrome was happening: pushing, shoving, tickling, wrestling, running, etc. Arggghh. So, we dropped into a bakery on the first floor and filled up. Yummy bread!

In the middle of all this I also managed to buy a (late) birthday present for my dad and a father's day present for my husband (trying to get with the Japanese date for Father's Day). But I tell you, the girly side of me just wanted to do a little browsing. My boys just don't understand that. They say things like, "Why are you looking at that?" "What are we doing now?" Or they trail around on my heels like lost dogs.

The other amazing thing we bought was an exercise book for my eldest to practise his Japanese in. This is a new development. We had him in Japanese school back in Grade 1 and that turned out to be such a bad experience, that it basically has turned him off learning Japanese ever since. However this week he has to decide what subjects to take next year and he's decided to do Japanese, instead of the French that he loves. His reasoning:
"I'm not going to have a chance to use French any time soon, but I live in Japan and it would be quite useful."
Well, couldn't have said it better myself. But it is amazing how motivating it is to come to the conviction yourself rather than have someone else's conviction imposed upon you.


School doesn't start until August, but he's decided to do some preliminary study to catch up a little bit on what, presumably, his classmates already know. Certainly things that he used to know.

His brothers have been learning Japanese at school (it is compulsory in Grades 1-5). It was touching to see his 9 y.o. brother gently teaching him some basic Japanese characters last night after dinner. Very rare that his younger brothers can teach him anything that he doesn't already know. Very rare that he's willing to be taught by them too!

And now, with the day's excitement over, I'm back at the computer, working on my "to do" list. To truly, I really could do without the "excitement" of taking three boys shopping.



04 June, 2012

Drowning, just a little bit

I'm drowning a little bit in the sea of things to do this week.

  1. This Friday is the deadline for all the content for this coming issue of the Japan Harvest magazine is due to our production editor/designer for placing into layout.
  2. The OMF Japan prayer calendar that I produce is also due at the publisher as soon as I can finalise the details (i.e. in the next week).
  3. I have lots of last-week-of-school emails turning up. You know, "We've decided to do a special book for the teachers, please have your child draw an amazing multi-coloured picture with some special words of thanks for the teacher and have it to us yesterday." (I exaggerate, but you get the idea.)
  4. There are some details we're sorting out about our Australian holidays still, like "Please prepare to speak to our church for 10 minutes on . . . ", and the more mundane, like, "How will we get from the airport to our accommodation and car?" and "What will we feel like doing that first day back (after an overnight flight), with family members who are planning to meet us?"
  5. I've ended up with the responsibility of getting appropriate music and word books for our Japan Headquarters prayer meetings (it is a bit outdated at present). It basically requires some internet searching, as we're pretty much decided what to buy. 
  6. Kid's Musings is our quarterly Kid's News/Prayer letter. It is due out in June. Topic: Japan's climate.
  7. I've got a number of other "managing editor" type things to do, but I suspect that they're going to get relegated to a "later" list. Things like:
    • job description for the News Editor that I'd like to recruit
    • work on content of a Writer's Workshop that I'm running in October
    • planning a planning meeting for the magazine in September
    • editing some article for the autumn/fall edition before we leave at the end of the month
    • finishing the four-year survey of past issues that I started months ago...
Oh, and did I mention that the boys don't have school tomorrow? And then they have just 2.5 days left after that . . .

But just now I have a dinner to organise for my hungry family. So thankful for a slow cooker (I've been out at a prayer meeting all day). The turkey legs have been cooked and I just need to reheat some rice and cook some veggies. Back to my "list" later.