31 January, 2016

Home tournament

Yesterday we hosted a six-school wrestling tournament at CAJ. In previous years our family has been merely observers or parent-supporters. This year that all changed. 

David in the coach's seat. Beside him is a
former CAJ wrestler from a few years back
who provided valuable coaching assistance
David was the main coach and coordinator of our team as the head coach was still absent, helping his wife settle back at home after both her and their new son were discharged finally on Friday. He had the valuable help of a former champion CAJ wrestler who happened to be in town just this week. 

Thankfully there were other experienced support people around, especially a former wrestling mum who is very experienced at running the complicated administrative side of such an event. We had the facilities coordinator on hand for issues like mike problems and circuit blow-outs. The school sports coordinator was on hand at clean up time to tidy up the gym. We also had a nurse on hand for any medical issues. 

Me and my friend Renee. This is the wider shot of the below photos,
the mums on the sideline.
And a couple of newbies. Our announcer had never done this before but did a fantastic job. He is a new wrestling parent, his son is having a great rookie year in 9th grade. 

I was the other newbie. I coordinated the hospitality room for the 19 coaches and refs. I had superb support from many of the team's parents and we put on a huge spread (wishing I took some photos of that too). It went better than I expected and I had hardly anything to do during the day yesterday because the four families I asked to help me keep an eye on the room did such a good job. 

Our son on top, manoeuvring his opponent into a position
for a pin.
Plenty of wrestling action to keep us busy and entertained. Our son won his three matches. Particularly satisfying was a win against a guy he's wrestled three previous times. This time quite a bit easier than the previous two. Now he's won three and the other guy just one of their encounters. Interestingly in the next three weeks they could meet again four more times!

Our youngest son also wrestled yesterday, also winning all his bouts and getting a gold medal. He can't wait till next season when he'll get to be a legitimate team member. 

Having lost about 3 kilos for this season, our son's muscles are even more
defined on the mat. That comes not from weight training per se,
but rather wrestling fairly consistently for more than four years now.
People keep asking about our middle son. Yes he can wrestle and he's actually pretty good for a beginner, but he's not passionate about being involved, especially in the rigorous training. But he does enjoy supporting his brothers. His chance for the spotlight is coming in the next sporting season where he's joining the track and field team to run.

Meanwhile I've only got one more wrestling meet to enjoy live this season: next week. The team has three more, the last being a three-day monster in Korea. I wish I could go, but as David has to go, I'll stay home with the other two. But next year, our eldest's senior year, my plan is to be there!

29 January, 2016


I'm thinking about citizenship. Tuesday was Australia Day, the day we celebrate being Australian, and tonight some of our local Aussie friends are joining us for an (indoor) barbie. 

But the night before Australia Day I sat in on a session with a multinational panel who also talked about citizenship. All four on the panel are known as Adult TCKs or Third Culture Kids (definition of TCK here). They all spent part or all of their years growing up in Japan, but had citizenship in other countries. Most of them have parents who weren't Japanese, or if they were Japanese had lived overseas for a significant time with their children. Most of the panel have moved between a variety of cultures and sub-cultures throughout their lives. That's lead to quite a complex identity for each of them, none of them could easily be put into a box.

For example, one young man was born in Singapore, but came to Japan as a baby and grew up here as the child of Singaporean missionaries. He spent a number of those years at CAJ, which is an international environment, one where he felt very much at home. After graduation he returned to Singapore to do his compulsory military service for two years. Following that he went to university in Britain. He's now back in Japan and a self-proclaimed international vagabond, and he's at peace with that. Where's home? That's not a good question.

But he has citizenship in heaven. It was a concept, a reality, that has given him and others on the panel great comfort.

So I was pondering citizenship. I have Australian citizenship. What does that mean? It means I have the right to live in that country without a visa and I don't have to carry identification with me.  I can go in and out without permission or people asking questions though Centrelink [government welfare agency] likes to ask lots of questions, they're the only ones who've ever questioned the validity of my citizenship; interestingly, though, the tax office is fine, as long as you continue to submit tax returns! 
It's kind-of like a life-time season pass.

It also means that I have the right to vote (which is also a responsibility). I have other responsibilities too, like paying taxes (but I also have that with residency in Japan) and taking care of my country.

I have a right to the privileges of citizenship, like education and health care. It means, too, that I can retire to Australia without special permission to do so.

So what does heavenly citizenship mean? It this term is only mentioned once, by Paul in his letter to the Philippians.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21, NIV
Here's another version:
But our homeland is in heaven, and we are waiting for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come from heaven. He will change our humble bodies and make them like his own glorious body. Christ can do this by his power. With that power he is able to rule all things. International Children's Bible.
We Christians often forget this. Yes, we have citizenship here on earth and it's something we often value. People like panelists I met earlier in the week value earthly citizenship a little less than those of us who have strong roots in one country. In many ways it's probably easier for them to remember this verse than others for whom "Where's home?" is easier.

Having citizenship in heaven is a comfort because it means my future is secure. The privileges of citizenship in heaven will completely outclass any citizenship I can gain here on earth (and we surely won't have Centrelink hounding us for our whereabouts and loyalty).

Citizenship in heaven has consequences here on earth. It means that when I meet people with whom I have nothing in common but my faith, I feel a kinship. I love worshipping in Japanese, not because I understand all the words that I'm singing (and I generally don't), but because I love being together with my "fellow citizens".

Heavenly citizenship also has responsibilities here on earth. Taking care of my fellow citizens, spreading the good news to others who haven't heard of this amazing good news, as well as being responsible caretakers of what I've been given (from material goods to skills and abilities).

I'm reading through Daniel at present. I was encouraged to read what King Darius proclaimed to his who dominion after God protected Daniel in the lions' den:
“Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: "May you prosper greatly! I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. 'For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end'" Daniel 6:25-26, NIV. 
Heavenly citizenship in a kingdom that will never be destroyed, that will never end. Wow!

Then the famous passage about heaven:
"'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Rev. 21:4, NIV.
Tonight I'm going to enjoy a barbie, eating snags and pav, and talkin' Aussie. But it is but a poor glimpse of the joy of taking up residency with my Heaven passport!

If you want to think a little more on this, I recommend this article about Australia Day and avoiding the extremes of the season.

28 January, 2016

Working from a home-corner

My home office-corner
I usually work from my desk at home, in the corner of our dining room. There are many things accomplished from the little computer desk in my dining room

But it's a question I'm often asked: do you have an office, do you often go down to the JEMA office downtown to work? Well no. The only time I go downtown is like today, when a magazine is ready to post out, and that is only four times a year. 

As I type this on my phone on the way into the office, I'm standing on a crowded train with sniffs and occasional coughs. I am glad that my commuting most days is minimal. Even though my house is chilly, this is a very convenient arrangement and gives me lots of flexibility in how I use my time and allows me to be available for my family when they need me most of the time. It also has a better view than either the JEMA office or the OMF office.

The city office of the organisation that publishes the
magazine. Of course my work from home doesn't
just encompass this editing work, I have a number
of roles, most of the others are related to OMF or CAJ
or are our own news/prayer letter or my own writing.
My boys understand that I work from home, but sometimes I don't think what that means fully registers. Because my computer is in the dining room it is hard for me to work once they're home (although not as hard as it used to be). So the arrangement isn't perfect. School holidays are tricky. So are days when I haven't finished what I wanted or needed to get done before they come home from school. 

Yesterday I wrote about 35 emails during the course of the day. I had not quite finished a couple of important ones when two boys came home. My youngest, who is only just getting used to his own email, watched over my shoulder as I typed. I mentioned to him it had been a high volume email day and he said, "Yeah, while I've been watching you've already written two!"

I never thought I'd work willingly from home  because I grew up in a house that also housed my parents' electrical contracting business. Them working nights and weekends in the office doing paperwork was common, even normal. I never wanted that. 

Yet then I became an aspiring missionary and was working nights and weekends to raise awareness of what we believed God had called us to do. After nearly two years of that we flew to Japan and both began full-time language study while taking full time care of our very active toddler. Guess what? We were working nights and weekends. Then another boy was born while still at language school and the pattern continued.

Life as a stay-at-home mum took up the next few years and I was working at home because that was where my kids needed me. It's how I got into the writing/editing business, because I could do that from my home computer corner.

So, now the boys are all at school and have been for a few years now, I'm still working from home, and liking it. I do, though, have my rules. I generally don't do housework (except for grocery shopping and sometimes putting the slow-cooker on) when they're all at school and I try to confine my computer work to school hours. I also try not to do work in the evenings, if at all possible.

I am an extrovert (or ambivert, explanation here), so I do need my times out of the house with adults. I get that mostly by meeting friends for coffee and going to school and mission prayer meetings. As I wrote earlier, I also get a lot of email interaction (and social media, to tell the truth), that helps tame the extrovert beast in me. I get antsy if I can't spend face-to-face time with one or more adults after a day or two, though.

How about you? Do you have experience at working from home base? How did you like it compared to going to a work-place/s?

27 January, 2016

How do you know so many people?

"So how do you know so many people?" My introvert son asked me this morning. 

"Well, for starters I've been around for 40+ years. I know people," and I started counting them off on my fingers:
These are dear friends we met at uni in the late 80s early 90s.
What a treasure are friendships that last so long.
"from primary school,
high school,
all the different churches I've been a part of since I was a child.
Then there's friends of my parents and friends I met when I got together with your dad.
Then friends I met in Kingaroy..." 

Here he started to get inpatient with me and said,
"Kingaroy, where's Kingaroy? Why Kingaroy?"
"That's where I moved to after I graduated from uni and got my first job."

"But then we became missionaries and it became our job to meet people, going to different churches, and so on. Ever since then it's been one of our jobs to stay in touch with a lot of people. Then we met people in Singapore and in Japan through OMF and other events we've been a part of."

But he was gone, that was way too much information for him.

The original question was sparked by the revelation that I had lunch guests today. Australian colleagues of ours who work in Hokkaido. Our boys have met them a few times, but don't remember them (though I think our eldest did a little).

We do know a lot of people, as I said, it is our job. But my extroverted nature probably contributes (though I know people who have many, many more friends). I love networking!

Of course our jobs/situation at an international school and in an expat community lends itself to a much higher turn over of friends than most monocultural people experience in a whole lifetime.

How many people we know would probably freak some people out, if they knew.

25 January, 2016

Lost a handbag?

No problem, you can go and get it back, it's hanging on a bush next to the river.

I rode past this unusual sight yesterday, a handbag hanging on a bush. 

It isn't unusual to find items that have been dropped by someone in Japan hanging or perched on fences, but usually they are much smaller, like gloves or a towel. 

Theft is less often a problem here. I don't know if this bag still had all its original contents, or any contents. But it isn't uncommon for people to get back wallets full of cash left on a train.

Though theft does occur. We've had a bike stolen, and this foreigner had her underwear stolen off her line. Can you imagine making a police report on stolen underwear!?!

On a more serious side about crime, I'm sad that though Japan seems to be light on in small crime like theft, bigger crimes, like a lack of compassion for refugees, seems to be quite acceptable.

24 January, 2016

Another Saturday, another tournament

Yesterday started with plenty of drama. I woke at 4.30, even though I didn't need to be up that early. That seems to be the pattern these tournament Saturdays.

David and Callum along with another wrestler who lives too far away to get to school by 5.15am and therefore slept over at our house, left on the bus at 5.30. With David as driver and only coach. 

This was the draw from our son's weight class
yesterday. The top diagram is the main draw, if
you lost there, you got another chance
on the draw below. It was a random draw,
so unfortunately the three of the best wrestlers
in this class met in the first two rounds.
It meant that the wrestler who came third is
one that probably wasn't the third best wrestler
at the meet. But that, I guess is the meaning
of the "luck of the draw".
The main coach has had a medical emergency in his family with his newborn firstborn baby being admitted into NICU at two days of age. So David's been holding the fort while the coach is away. He's thankful for having watched wrestling now for four years and sat by the coach's side throughout this season, learning all the time.

The rest of us had a complicated plan for getting us and two other families to two wrestling meets in two different locations. High school and middle/elementary school. Two vehicles and three families plus one coach/friend/former CAJ coach from another school. You don't want the details, but it nearly went wrong when we ended up with two different meeting places, CAJ and our house (only 300m apart). Thankfully this was sorted out and we went our separate ways.

Our eight-seater van was full with four adults, one teenager, and three kids. It was a fun trip, a great way to pass the time and pretend we weren't tired.

Our destination was the Zama US Army Base. Going on base requires going through security and prior notice, they need several days to many weeks notice to know you're coming. Sometimes it is as easy as showing ID. Driving a car on base also requires car ID and in this case, proof of two levels of car insurance. We failed this test (missing documentation at home), so had to park off base and walk, about 1.5km.

As we walked in it had already begun and CAJ had three wrestles happening simultaneously. Two of which were sons of those I'd travelled with. 

Nearly a pin. This was nearly in our laps. It probably would have been a
pin in the middle of the mat, but you can see they are outside the wide
white line, the edge of which designates the edge of the mat.
The start of this tournament, with three mats running, was fast and furious. Each match needed David plus a wrestling team member (for the more technical coaching expertise) or just another team member as we only had one coach. Plus two team managers, who recorded the result, looked after the med kit, and wrestler's water bottle and towel, and took video and anything else that needed doing. It meant constant alertness to make sure we weren't missing anyone. These tournaments have a start time, that's all. There's no knowing when an actual bout will occur, when one finishes (which might be anywhere from 20 seconds to 6 ½ minutes) the next one goes on. The wrestlers generally get called up by an announcement when there's one or two bouts ahead of them.
It's a pin, but not a super angle. Here we have a female ref,
who was dwarfed by most of the wrestlers that she refereed.

We had two video cameras, I kind-of took care of the extra one, though the duties were shared around. Not relaxing at all. Neither is being in a gym full of shouting supporters and coaches. 

We had some interesting vocal coaches yesterday. At one point I wouldn't have been surprised if punches might have been thrown, but thankfully they held themselves enough in check to prevent that. Things did get a bit out of hand at one point when one wrestler won on the "buzzer". It took 10 minutes of discussion between the American coaches and Japanese refs for them to be willing to move on to the next bout, which happened to be our son's. There are some interesting cross-cultural and multilingual undercurrents.

It was a knockout tournament. After losing two matches, that was it for the day. So as the day wore on things slowed down as those in our team still in the competition were gradually whittled down.
The team bus as we neared home. It was a long day, but
not as long as two weeks ago. But still we returned these
guys to school 14 hours after they'd left.

In the end we had a couple of placings, two seconds, I think. And some fourths. But I could be wrong. There was no award ceremony, the medals had been temporarily misplaced.

Our son was fourth. He wrestled well, though. Like in most sports, there are good losses and bad losses. Close wins and easy wins. He made the two guys who beat him fight hard to beat him. It's great to see him being challenged over the season by some great wrestlers and rising to the challenge.

The other thing that raised the level of craziness of the morning was periodic news via texts about our youngest son's wrestling. First one pin, then a second, then a third. He got a gold medal in his first meet (just elementary students). He's very happy.

22 January, 2016

What food do you take to a sporting (or other inter-school) event?

It depends on many factors, doesn't it. Like where this event is, how long you'll be there, what food is available, what your budget is, is there lunch break etc.

Here's what I'm packing for an all-day event tomorrow. Some of us won't eat much (or any) breakfast before we leave at 5.15/6.45. There may be some food for sale at the gym, but not a great variety. I'm not planning for dinner because we're on an American base and there is a food court we'll be patronising after the meet.

I'm looking for portable, not too messy, small portions. Protein is also high on the priority list.

Nuts. A coach told me some time ago that between bouts these guys need
protein to help their muscles recover.
Homemade banana apple muffins (low fat and sugar)
Fruit and yoghurt. Mandarins and bananas (mikan) are plentiful and cheap.
Snacks: chocolate filled mini biscuits, dried apricots.
Chocolate chip bread sticks (Japanese treat) and more protein: eggs (I will boil and peel them before we go).
From left: Pre-made ham and cheese wraps (these were a huge hit last weekend), wrapped cheese, rice balls (onigiri), and inarizushi (a form of rice ball inside a thin fried tofu skin, very tasty).
Leftovers from last night's dinner: homemade chili-filled empanadas (bread).
Chocolate chip melon-pan (sweet bread-like snack much loved by kids) and some cheesy bread sticks, both on special this morning..
Do you think it will be enough? I also have a couple of other snacks I could add to the pile, if we need to. It tends to be a grazing kind-of day. I usually get to the end of the day and realise I've not had a proper meal all day. People eat when they're hungry. Wrestlers eat when they can (usually straight after a bout). Coaches eat when they can also, but they have their own "hospitality room" with free food.

I'll also take a flask of coffee for me. But because it's inside and warm, I won't be taking things that people who are sitting in the cold take, like flasks of hot soup.

What do you take to a sporting or other inter school event? I'm sure it is influenced by where you live, it would be fun to hear from people in various countries. Australians, I know, would usually take sandwiches.

21 January, 2016

Wrestling bits and pieces

So, two wrestling-less blog posts in a row and it's time for more wrestling.

1. Female wrestlers

CAJ this year has five female wrestlers. It's only the second year that they've had girls wrestling with the team. It's a nice little team and they've done well, winning a few medals. I love watching them. Though it can really give them a bad hair day!

When I first started going along to wrestling meets it was a bit of a shock to see girls and guys wresting. This doesn't happen often, but some of the teams fill their team's lighter ranks with girls if they don't have a boy. It isn't truly fair because girls simply have a different muscle:fat ratio. One of the team-dads struck up a conversation with one of the girls in the guys league who is particularly good. She gives as much as she gets, she's incredibly determined. She said that she used to wrestle in a girl's league in the states and is finding wrestling against guys much harder.

A couple of our wrestlers have been up against girls this season. At least once they've declined, but usually they've gone out and done their thing. My son hasn't had to make such a choice and I think he'd find it uncomfortable. If he had sisters, it might be easier. CAJ doesn't force our guys to wrestle girls, it's their choice and their encouraged to think about it and talk about it with their parents.

Please note: Our girls train in the same room as the boys, but not with them. In fact they haven't wrestled guys at all.

2. Another wrestler in the family

I mentioned back here that our youngest has been training a bit with CAJ's only middle school wrestler this season, to give him someone his own size to train with. On Saturday we were approached with an offer to allow our 10 year old to have some matches next Saturday. Apparently there are some other elementary-aged kids around in the international schools who are keen and want to have a go. We'll see how he goes. 

It's a little hard to believe that my youngest (in orange here) is
getting into competitive wrestling already, yet he's been watching for
four years now and learning from his brother all sorts of things 

on the side. So I guess it's time!

But it is the start of what is going to be a dilemma for the next 13 months: two boys wrestling in two different places at the same time. This time we're sticking with the high school team, but next season, when our youngest will, as a middle schooler, be a full member of the team, we'll be split across the two teams for the four or so middle school wrestling tournaments. A little bit of a pity, because it will be our eldest's last season at CAJ, but there is always video.

3. Last night

Last night we had two duals at CAJ. That is, two teams came to CAJ and faced off against our team. They work through all the weight classes from the lightest to the heaviest. If one team has a wrestler in a weight class and the other doesn't, it is a forfeit, and costs as many points as a pin. At the end of the dual, teams win on how many points they've been awarded during the dual, depending on how matches were won. Each team can only put up one wrestler for each weight class. Though there are often "exhibition" matches where extra wrestlers, if they are a similar weight, get to have a go. We were up against two strong teams. 

Our son was up against a regional champion* from the last two years. We knew it would be a hard bout, but it finished even faster than we imagined, with our son being rolled across the mat five times by the legs (painful) in the second minute of the match. He was disappointed, but gracious in defeat. Ever the thinker, he's analysing it and figuring out what to do next time he meets this guy. I'm so encouraged that he's not a deflated balloon!

This is what we sat on on Saturday, all day. The different between
this and most "bleachers" is that each seat had a radiator underneath.
Which was nice for the first little while, but it soon got very hot.
My sheepskin was not just soft, it was a nice insulator too!

The second match was better. Our son won, but I felt a little disappointed because he actually pinned his opponent, however it was just after the time ended for the first round. He'd scored so many points on the other guy, that the match ended before he could get another pin in. I'm sure the other guy wasn't so disappointed. It is slightly more honourable to not lose by a pin!

The thing that happened last night is that the coach wasn't there. His first baby was born yesterday, so that's a pretty good excuse! David's officially the assistant coach, but I guess we've been thinking of him more as the coach's assistant. He has no formal training, though he has carefully watched and learned for the last four years of our son's wrestling. He's also a good teacher, which has overlap with good coaching. Last night he was the only coach, though the team rallied and took turns sitting with him in the coaches corner during bouts giving perhaps better advice?

4. Bleacher bottom

Now we don't call them "bleachers" in Australia, what are they? Stands?

I'm getting sore from sitting on hard benches for hours on end. For the longer matches I take a small sheepskin to sit on that gives some cushioning, but it doesn't help with no back to lean on. Though I'm not the one out on the mat, I have sore muscles just from sitting!

*Far East is the region. It is a US military term for this eastern Asia area where they have military bases, encompassing mostly Japan, Korea, and Guam. I guess it is mostly a military schools comp, but schools like CAJ are given special invitations to take part. The Far East competition for wrestling is coming up in three weeks and they're going to Korea.

20 January, 2016

Studless tyres

It snowed on Sunday night and early Monday morning. If it hadn't have been a student-free workday for the teachers it would have been a snow day at school because getting around in the usual fashion wasn't easy. Tokyo quickly gets choked up when it snows.

Front of our house after I shovelled with the help of a
neighbour across the road. Before we started the snow
covered the green and white lines. The puddle that was left
in the gutter was a couple of centimetres deep. No gutter
sweeping possible!
Monday turned out pretty miserable weather-wise because as the day warmed up the snow turned to rain and everything got mushy. Anyone outside was dressed for snow and rain. Three of my guys went to shovel at CAJ and came home soaked. Shovelling wet snow is no fun either, it is very heavy.

This morning I discovered a pillowcase that fell off the
line yesterday. The snow melted and froze onto it.
But the rain didn't melt everything before the sun went down so what was left froze overnight. So we're still dealing with ice on roads in shady spots (like out the front of our house). 

I walked to the station yesterday morning and it was natsukashi (nostalgic) walking on crunchy ice. We spent our first four winters in Japan in Hokkaido, the queen of snowy conditions. I think it holds the record for the snowiest city in the world.

Some small delivery vehicles and vans had chains on yesterday for negotiating the little roads that haven't had sun. I reminds me of this photo I took a while back of a tyre display at a highway stop. The left tyre has chains, I presume one of the middle tyres is "studless".
This word I first encountered as a language student learning the alphabet primarily used for foreign words (katakana). It is a very useful alphabet because many of the foreign words come from English. My teacher had me doing reading practise and I came across this word: スタッドレスタイヤ(sutaddoresu taiya).  My teacher indicated it was an English word, but in the end he had to explain that it is a snow tyre with a winter tread, without the old-style studs that ripped up roads. I explained that it wasn't an English word where I came from. 

Here I posted about some other English words that have been "Japanized".

19 January, 2016

Brown Boots

Left: Outside ugg-boots (I have inside ones too): yes, it is totally
acceptable to wear ugg boots outside here, in fact quite common and exceedingly warm.
Middle: Dress-up leather boots, my most expensive boots ever, but I hope will last a long time.
They provide better support than the uggs, so I also use them when I have to walk a distance.
Right: Classy-looking gum boots that are primarily for the not-mid winter or mid-summer
months. My in-between rainy day boots.
Coming to Japan brought unexpected changes. We arrived in winter in 2000 (and to Sapporo, no less). Temperatures up there barely make it above zero for about four or five months of the year. Forget about culture shock, we had climate shock.

I grew up in sunny (and occasionally stormy) Queensland. Coming to Japan I had to learn how to use a scarf and buy a jacket and gloves. When we visited a church in Canberra prior to coming to Japan, a lady bought me my first pair of long johns. And I had to buy boots. Boots are rarely necessary in Queensland and never before had been a part of my wardrobe.

Now we're in Tokyo. We're not dealing with such severe weather, but the temperatures still are low. Average maximums in January and February temperatures are single digits (Celsius). I'm still wearing long johns! At this time of year I find it's too cold to wear anything that exposes the ankle, so I spend about three months wearing boots.

Somehow, I now find myself in possession of three pairs of boots. Each with their specific purpose. But all my boots are brown. In choosing between brown and black accessories, I'm definitely a "brown" girl.

I don't have much black in my wardrobe, no black outer clothing that I would wear on my upper body. My everyday handbag is brown and my everyday shoes/sandals are also brown. I have various shaded brown skirts, and a couple of pairs of brown shoes. The black in my wardrobe: A couple of black skirts, one pair of black pants, and one pair of black leggings, one pair of black shoes (not boots), and one black handbag for occasional use. No black boots!

So here is my fashion challenge: I grew up with the fashion rule that you don't wear black and brown in an outfit. So my dilemma is what do I wear with my one pair of black pants, or black tights? Brown boots! I wore black pants with brown boots (and brown handbag) today to a missionary women's event and was relieved to see a few others with the same type of combo.

I was reluctant enough to spend money on a good pair of brown leather boots, my spending isn't going to go as far as to have a fourth pair of boots! This webpage suggests that this "rule" is a little old-hat now. What do you think?

18 January, 2016

Can you say "um" in more than one language?

This one caught me by surprise at language school. During a class my teacher told me if I could say "eeto" instead of "um" I'd sound much more Japanese. And, of course, she was right. You can also say "aaaah" or "air-". Now they've become so natural that I even sometimes say these things when speaking in Engliah.

Other words that creep into my native language are exclamations like "ahre?" and "e?" (Short sound). 

I just Googled "Japanese interjections" and got a great page: http://lang-8.com/168601/journals/947474/ I'm surprised at how many I use or know the gist of. 

So, how many languages can you say "um" in?

17 January, 2016

Quick wrestling update

Quick update on yesterday's wrestling feast. It was a smaller meet, seven schools instead of last Saturday's twelve. But still we watched our team in more than 45 bouts. 

Because it was a smaller meet, and because it was held much closer (only about 40 minutes to get there, longer on the way home), we're feeling less exhausted today. Making it home for dinner last night made a big difference. Way better than last week.

Our son only had four bouts this time and he won them all. Three fairly easily (one pin and two technical falls meaning our son got 10 points more than his opponent and means the bout is called off at that moment) but the other was close and difficult to watch. 

Me and Renee, a new member of staff, mother of another
wrestler and friend at wrestling yesterday.
Her son is a champion cross-country
runner, so they know about spending weekends at
sporting events.  We spent NYE with her and her
family. So wonderful to have other mums around to help
support each other while we watch our kids wrestle.
Oh, they live not far away (300m) and were our lift to
and from the meet yesterday.
Here's the drama: he quickly pinned this guy when he met him in December. Last week they wrestled for a full six minutes and our son was beaten on points. So yesterday was like a tie breaker. 

This kind of repeated meeting of wrestlers who are closely matched are interesting to see played out over the weeks. Last time this happened for our son was in eighth grade. He wrestled the same guy (I called him JK) four times in four meets. They won two each. It was, again, gut wrenching to watch and live through, but it was also very good for them both. It pushed them to become better wrestlers. I hope it will be the same this time as I'm sure they'll meet again.

The gold medal winner of last Saturday for this weight class didn't wrestle yesterday, we don't know why. He's going to be a significant challenge. His team is scheduled to wrestle ours on Wednesday, so we'll see if our son gets a chance to take him on then.
I loved this sight: our son talking with one of CAJ's former students, teachers, and
member of the wrestling team and coach. He lives close by but now works at another
 international school, but obviously has still has strong connections in the CAJ community.
He also has a real heart for young people and loves wrestling.
Our son receiving the gold medal for his weight class, which
only contained five people yesterday.