A good day

We had such a lovely day today. This week is our skip week from school (we have 1 week off a month, and no long summer vacation), so the girls played this morning while I planned out school for the next two months and sorted the girls’ work from this month. I have a general plan for the year- what topics/sections we should be on each week to get through all of our material in the year. Sometimes we get slightly behind, sometimes we get stunningly ahead (Tiny is so far past where I scheduled for math). At the beginning of each month I go through and check where we are against where we’ve planned. Then I plan out exactly what pages/activities we’ll do each day. I usually only plan one month ahead, but this time I was on a roll and planned through December. I will be happy with myself at the beginning of December.

When that was done, we headed out to Yoyogi Uhehara to my friend’s house. She was teaching a class for women from church about making sourdough bread. I was there to learn how to make bread, and Z was there on her very first babysitting assignment. (Tiny was her assistant.) One of my other friends has a 2 year old, and she asked Z to keep an eye on her while she (the mom) attended the class. Both girls were SO excited. Z has been wanting a way to earn some money, and she worked hard to earn her little wage.  The class was so fun, and we had a really good turn out. (I say we because I’m in charge of planning activities for the women at church, so this class fell under my purview.) I love hanging out with the women from church, they are such a diverse group, but all so loving and fascinating.

On our way back to the train station, we noticed an interesting roof in the skyline and thought it looked quite a bit like a mosque. So we took a detour and discovered that it was the Tokyo Camii; the mosque we’d already found in January. So we took another look, this time informed by the girls’ new knowledge of Islam and my new interest in calligraphy.

But before we get to the mosque- a picture of a butterfly.

Ok, here’s the mosque.




This calligraphy blows me away.



Z asked about the green lantern in the picture below, so I did some internet research this afternoon. According to the interwebs (which have been known to be unreliable), mosques traditionally have green lights or lanterns, but there is not a specific religious reason. Some sources noted that green is one of the colors people will wear in heaven (based in their scriptures), and that green is, in general, an significant color to the Nation of Islam.



The design of this calligraphy is so beautiful.




The sun was coming through the windows today in a way I hadn’t noticed in January- they were breathtaking.





I’m assuming this is the Koran. There wasn’t anyone we could ask.



Now we’re at home and the girls are watching Robin Hood. Z is feeling a bit “cold-ish”, sniffly and sore throaty. Hopefully it’s nothing. Soon it will be dinner time, and then bed time, and time for me to read more about yurei (evil ghost spirits). They are some seriously scary stories. As the book says, “knowing what frightens someone is a wonderful window into their personality- wihch makes knowing what frightens an entire nation of people  a powerful tool for understanding what makes them tick.”  And apparently, really angry women really scare the Japanese people.

At this moment

It is 2:30 pm.

I am drinking ginger ale that is so sharp it burns my throat.

The girls are upstairs playing something.

We just got  back from a walk that included the post office (mailing off a birthday package), the grocery store (got to restock the cereal), and a wandering route back home. We passed the Nigerian Ambassador’s residence, which is really rather pretty. As always, as we walk around I wonder who lives in some of the houses. There’s one house in particular that we often see people taking pictures of, or taking pictures of themselves in front of. We’re guessing either someone famous lives there, or maybe the house was in a movie or something. There isn’t really a way to find out, so we just keep wondering.

I should be sewing right now. I need to start working on the girls’ Halloween costumes, but I am quite nervous about getting the sizing, etc. right, because I’m not very experienced at sewing things to fit. I’ve been putting them off for that reason, but it’s that exact reason that I need to get moving on them; if I mess them up I need time to get them right.  But, seeing as I am typing at the moment, I’ll work on them tonight.

Kiki 1

Bruce gets back from the US tomorrow, and we are all quite excited. We just got off Skype. We seriously live in the future.

I finished Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh this morning. What an incredibly depressing book. 976 pages of sad.  Incredibly well researched and well written sad, but so. much. sad. It makes me wish that the Doctor Who episode Vincent and the Doctor were real, and Van Gogh actually got to hear Bill Nighy say all those wonderful things about him. If you don’t know what I’m talking about (or even if you do) watch this. Really, go watch it right now. And you really should watch the actual episode too. It’s heartbreaking and gorgeous. Unfortunately, based on this book, I don’t think Vincent’s portrayal in the episode is accurate to his actual self, but I’ll take it anyway. Isn’t it interesting how we do that? Van Gogh was not a pleasant person. There was a reason why he was so alone. But because we admire his art, we want him to be admirable as well, so we turn him into a sweet, tortured soul, driven by a desire to express  inner beauty, when really he was bitter, angry, guilt ridden, and cantankerous and painted in a continuous attempt to pay his brother back for supporting him. He painted because he’d dug himself in so deep that he had no other options. And he painted glorious, beautiful, transcendent works of art. And those can go together, even though we’d prefer the other narrative. Heck, he’d prefer the other narrative.  So in my imagination, I choose to believe that the Doctor and Amy did visit him, and did add to his pile of good things. Although, according to this book, he still would have died when he did, because the author doesn’t think he committed suicide, but rather was accidentally shot, and the evidence is pretty compelling.

van gogh 1

We started learning about Islam today, which has Z’s brain working overtime trying to figure out Muhammad. We’ve been reading the New Testament stories, so she’s quite familiar with the angel Gabriel, and we believe in prophets, so when Gabriel visited Muhammad and told him that there was one true God, Z piped up, “And he became a Christian!” She was quite perplexed when that was not what happened. This is why I LOVE homeschooling. I don’t necessarily have an answer for her, but we can talk about it far more than she’d be able to do in a classroom. One of B and my goals for the girls’ schooling is that they gain an understanding of the religions of the world, and I love that we can talk about how our beliefs intersect with others, and how we differ. And more than anything, I love the look that Z gets on her face when the context of something clicks in. She realized today that the mosque we went to in January was a Muslim mosque, and was so excited. So now we’ll need to go back, since now the girls will know what they’re looking at.


I need to start reading the book for my book club, but I have a whole stack (well, a metaphorical stack, since they’re on the haunted Kindle) of books about Japanese folklore that I really want to read instead. Nanowrimo starts in 2ish weeks, and I do not feel properly researched.

One of the kids who lives in the other half of our house is learning how to play the flute. They are practicing one note. It is amazing how wrong one note can go.

I’ve fallen down a Doctor Who clip rabbit hole. And they’re killing me. If you don’t watch Doctor Who (or if you do) you should watch these, just to get a feel for it. Because it is absolutely glorious.  An immense, glorious story about bravery and love and diplomacy over violence and friendship and becoming a better person and fear and faith and beauty and wonder. This is one of my favorite scenes ever. And this, oh this makes me cry.  And I can’t believe I just found this one, I’ve been looking for it for a long time. The Doctor’s smile at the end makes my life. That is the smile of forgiveness. And oh! I forget just how very much I love the beginning of this story, with 9 and Rose. Her trust in him, it kills me. And I just watched a video of Donna Noble’s top 20 scenes that has reaffirmed to me that a. She is my absolutely favorite companion, b. I want to rewatch all of her episodes, c. I don’t want to rewatch all of her episodes because her leaving is HORRIBLE. But ANYWAY, you should watch Doctor Who. Yes. You. Can you really say no to this face?



The girls are now watching My Little Pony in Japanese. I don’t know how much they get from it, well, it’s subtitled, so Z can just read those- I don’t know how much Tiny gets- but they enjoy it.

Hmm. I seem to be out of things to say. What’s going on with you at this moment?


Thoughts on Halloween


A few posts ago, when I mentioned Halloween, Brandy asked: “So, I have a youth pastor friend who is very anti Halloween since it is a pagan (if not outright devil worshipping…I haven’t ever pinned him down on that) holiday. I wondered both your philosophy in celebrating it with your kids and how you explain it to them.”

So I shall answer. 🙂

First, I love that you know that I have a philosophy about this. I have philosophies about EEEEEEEEEVERYTHING. Probably even things I don’t need them about. 🙂

We’ve been studying the Celts in history (perfect timing!) and how they were pagans before (and after) Christianity came to Britain. So in regards to Halloween, we talked about how Christianity conscripted some pagan holidays and combined them with Christian celebrations to make them more palatable to converts. We talked about Celtic traditions of harvest celebrations and fear of evil spirits coming back to earth with the advent of winter, and Catholic traditions of Hallowmas and All Soul’s Day, and how they could fit together. And since I hadn’t done a ton of research, as this whole discussion was the result of a spontaneous question from Zoe, we didn’t talk about how trick or treating possibly comes from the tradition of exchanging soul cakes or the Celtic tradition of dressing up to imitate spirits or fairies. (We will discuss that tomorrow.)

We did talk about how our family considers Halloween to be a time to have fun and to enjoy spooky things without them being scary. I think it’s useful to look at the things that scare us in a way that makes them less intimidating and more accessible. If we can laugh at the boogie man (and yell, “My bugs! My buuuuuuuugs!” at him, like Tiny does), he loses his power to scare us.  So we read books about witches and mummies, skeleton girls,  and things that go bump that are really little sisters sneaking cookies. We watch Mickey Mouse Halloween and Nightmare Before Christmas, and that’s about as spooky as we go. The girls are still little enough that they don’t like outright scary things, and I’ve never been one for using Halloween to revel in horror movies and gross masks and decorations- because I just don’t enjoy those things.  (And they’ve been known to terrify me for weeks and months afterward.) So even when they’re older, we’ll try to stick with spooky over terrifying and gross.

As they get a little older, I’d like to have some sort of family hybrid celebration for Dia de los Muertes, as a way to remember our ancestors, and family that has passed on, but it would be separate from Halloween (as Dia de los Muertes is) , because they’d really be serving different purposes. Maybe we’ll mix in some of the Japanese Obon Festival, which also honors the dead. We’ll see when we get there, I suppose.

They don’t really do trick-or-treating here in Japan, so we will go to the church Halloween party and trick or treat there. Zoe wants to be Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, and today Tiny wants to be a witch (that is not Kiki). She keeps changing her mind, so I’m not making her dress yet.  There are Halloween decorations in some stores, you can buy Halloween themed candy, and there are  Halloween themed toys, and attractions at Disneyland.

According to this article,  Halloween here is focused on cute over scary and dead (they leave that for Obon season, when they tell scary stories).   There’s even two words for ghost- obake, which are cute ghosts, and yurei, which are terrifying, vengeance seeking scary ghosts. Halloween gets obake and merchandising, Oban gets yurei and festivals honoring the dead.

Although, doing some other reading, obake don’t seem to always be cute; instead they’re creatures that have shifted from the natural world to the supernatural. So they can be cute, but they can also be really weird. And I have discovered that there is a book on Japanese folklore called Yokaidangi, or, Lectures on Monsters, by Kunio Yanagita, that I can only pray has been translated into English, because this stuff is FASCINATING. (Apparently, among the things that Yanagita, the father of Japanese native folkloristics, discovered is that ” the distribution of dialects for the word snail forms concentric circles on the Japanese archipelago.”  Hrrrrr? This is the sound of my brain breaking as we fall down this particular internet rabbit hole.)


(photo from http://sweetyumiko.com)

ANYWAY. Back to Halloween. I will probably be reading Heart-Shaped Box and Deathbird Stories, and The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All this month, because while I don’t like horror movies, I don’t mind some scary stories. The girls will do their Halloween missions, we will listen to spooky music and talk about why it’s spooky (another spontaneous question by Zoe today), and the girls will plan out ways to make our house look haunted that they will not follow through with. 🙂

And that’s Halloween at our house.


At this moment

It is 12:09 pm. The sun is shining, but it was pouring about half an hour ago. Now it’s still windy but the sun is out.  It is currently 84 degrees with 74% humidity.  We’re hoping it starts raining again.

We’re all in the living room. The girls are watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which I told the girls they could watch when it was raining (isn’t it wonderful to watch movies in the rain?). Now that it’s sunny, I couldn’t very well tell them we weren’t going to watch it. So they’re relaxing and I’m writing this. 🙂 As I type, Carratucus Potts is trying to convince Mr. Scrumptious to buy his Toot Sweet candy.  As I was turning it on, I saw Dr. Doolittle, and discovered that the girls don’t remember the book at all. So apparently we need to reread it. And apparently I need to go back and add it to the post of books we’ve read, because it’s not there.

Oh, and it’s started raining again. Yay!


The girls are very serious about their movies. 🙂 And we need something on the wall behind the couch.

This is the view out the sliding door:


This is my view- what my desk looks like today.


That’s an autographed picture of the divine Miss Julie Newmar (it even says, To Maryanne, Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar. Could you die? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should watch To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. “Who’s Wong Foo?” “I have no idea, but obviously they were close!”), a tatted heart that my momma made me, a drawing of Modesty Blaise by Joelle Jones, photos of my wonderful, crazy friends from CA, and a Dena McMurdie original watercolor.  Hiding behind the watercolor is a Jim Lee sketch that’s half me, half Roxie from Gen13 that he drew at a signing at Atlantis.

Today has been a good day, I got up at 5:30 to read scriptures, workout, and meditate, and I did all that and was showered by the time the girls got up at 7. I’ve somehow managed to do that for the last couple days, and we’ll see if I can keep it up. The day definitely goes better if I do.  I haven’t meditated on a regular basis before, and I am remarkably bad at it. But I’ve read a lot about it, and I trust that there are benefits to a regular practice. So I will sit. And sit. And sit.

Once the girls were up, we had breakfast and they played for an hour or so. Then we did school. We read the story of the angel visiting Zacharias from Luke, and the girls deciphered the Biblical language (we read it in the comic book earlier in the week, so they weren’t going in cold). In math,  Tiny has started adding while solving for an unknown (what plus 3 equals 6?) and is uncannily good at it, and Z is embracing multiplication whole heartedly. It’s even made her more kindly disposed to the review addition and subtraction problems she has to do.  Both girls did handwriting (Tiny practiced I’s, and Z worked on h in cursive. It was a challenge, but she did well.) Z usually fights writing, but I got her a new workbook from Lakeshore this year that has writing prompts, and she LOVES it. She wrote a good six sentences about going to the science museum. Tiny did her reading lesson and read a few extra books while Z did her spelling. Then we learned about Atilla the Hun, which was quite exciting.

Then we had lunch, and here we are.

Last night I read How To Be Interesting In 10 Easy Steps by Jessica Hardy, a quick little book that’s packed full of good ideas. I wish it was longer- I wish she had gone into things more. The things she writes about are things I absolutely hold to, but I could see how someone coming to the ideas fresh might need a little more guidance. She has such good things to say about how you have to reach out, get outside of yourself, be interested in things, and share the knowledge that you have. Some quotes:

What you have is worth a lot. Seek out the people who need it. Know what you can do and tell people that you’re willing to do it. They will treasure and remember you. Your time. Your talents. Your compliments. A seat at your table. A cup of sugar. A clean pair of socks. The world needs whatever it is that you have.

Bring others into your world. Let them play where you hang out. Don’t wait for invitations when you can host. You can get something started as long as there is at least one person you can invite.

Sign up to learn things. Philosophy, archery, accounting, painting, diving, fire eating- anything you can admit you do not understand. You never know when you’ll need a random skill.

Yes, yes, yes! I say! These are ideas I live by. It was nice to see them articulated clearly.

Now I’m trying to decide what to read next; I have a ton of options but nothing is jumping out at me at the moment. I may just have to pick something and go with it. I want to get the new Salinger biography. I really want to see the documentary based on it, though I doubt it will play here. 🙂 But the biography itself may tide me over. We’ll see what I end up with.

I just realized that if it’s Weds afternoon, then So You Think You Can Dance should have been on in CA by now. But I haven’t seen any posts about it on Facebook, and I usually do. I’m going to go investigate.  If you haven’t watched the opening number from two weeks ago, you really should, it was SO. VERY . GOOD. And the music is awesome. I’ve been complaining that the music this season has been eh- that they needed to go shopping at the “crazy dance music store”. And they did! Here’s the dance. You really should watch it.

What’s going on with you at this moment?

Books we’ve read

A friend asked for a list of books that I’ve read with the girls, and I thought it might be useful to someone else too. So I’m posting it here.

I tend to go for unabridged versions rather than abridged, though we did start out with an abridged version of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the girls were a little young for the full book at the time) and one of Heidi, because it’s the version we had.  I will admit that I totally edit books as we go along, if they use a word we don’t, like “stupid”, I change it. But I don’t edit a lot.

I tend toward books that are magical- they don’t have to actually have magic in them, but they need to inspire imagination and have heart. Charlotte Mason would call them “living books” rather than “twaddle”.  One of my rough rules of thumb is that at least one of the main characters has to be within at least a few years of the girls’ ages. We’ve definitely read books with older protagonists, but we don’t do books with crushes or such- though a widowed parent finding love and remarrying has shown up. We are firmly in the kids having adventures zone.

These are the books I remember. I know we’ve read more, and we’ve started some that we’ve stopped.  (If they’re just not showing any interest we put it aside and move to something else and try again another time, or if I start to sense it’s going to be a little more mature than I’d prefer.) These are only the books we’ve read aloud, not books that Z has read on her own, though she has gone back and read some of them herself.

I’ve made notes of books that scared the girls (they’re a bit sensitive) and that they utterly loved. They at least really liked all of these, but there were some that just caught hold of their hearts. You know how it goes.

We started reading long chapter books when Z was about 4 and Tiny was about 2. Tiny doesn’t remember all of these books, and there are some that we’ve read multiple times because Zoe didn’t remember the whole thing either. Rereading is good.


Pippi Longstocking series- Astrid Lindgrin

My Father’s Dragon series- Ruth Stiles Gannet

James and the Giant Peach -Roald Dahl (They LOVE this book. I loved this book when I was their age. My mom read it to us in one night because we wouldn’t let her stop. It is marvelous.)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-Roald Dahl (LOVE.)

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator -Roald Dahl (This book is better read to kids that are a little older, I think.)

The Witches-Roald Dahl (This book scared Zoe, but she loved it, and loved being scared by it.)

Matilda- Roald Dahl (Just assume that if it’s Roald Dahl, and we read it, they loved it. )

The BFG- Roald Dahl (The girls were a bit scared during this one, but ultimately they loved it.)

George’s Magical Medicine-Roald Dahl

Heidi- Johanna Spyri (This one made Z upset because people aren’t nice to Heidi, but she ended up loving it.)

Tumtum and Nutmeg books – Emily Bearn

Winnie the Pooh-A. A. Milne

Alice in Wonderland- Lewis Carroll

Stuart Little- E.B.White

No Flying in the House – Betty Brock (LOVE)

Charlotte in Paris/Giverny/London – Joan MacPhail Knight

Wayside school series by Louis Sachar

Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard Atwater


This next part of the list is books we read when the girls were from 5 and 3 to now. I’m not saying you couldn’t read them younger, but my girls wouldn’t have been ready for them.

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles- Julie Andrews Edwards

Mandy- Julie Andrews Edwards  (The girls LOVE this book.)

Remarkable- Elizabeth Foley (LOVE. There actually is a crush in this one, but it’s not the main character and there’s something to be learned from it, and it’s hilarious.)

Tuesdays at the Castle -Jessica Day George (LOVE.)

The Worst Witch series- Jill Murphy (LOVE, though they did get a bit concerned when the plot got  a little sticky.)

The Night Fairy- Laura Amy Schlitz

The Dragon of Lonely Island- Rebecca Rupp

Thomas and the Dragon Queen- Shutta Crum

Guardians of Childhood books- William Joyce (They love these books passionately, though again, they get a bit concerned when there’s tension in the plot.)

Where the Mountain meets the Moon- Grace Lin (LOVE.)

Starry River of the Sky- Grace Lin

Magic Treehouse series- Mary Pope Osborne (We’ve only read a couple of these, because they’re books that Z enjoys reading on her own.)

Geronimo Stilton/Thea Stilton series (Same with these, Z likes to read them, so I let her at it.)

The Heroes Guide to Saving your Kingdom- Christopher Healy

Emily’s Runaway Imagination- Beverly Cleary

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- Ian Fleming (LOVE.)

Magic By the Lake- Edward Eager

Half Magic – Edward Eager

Rootabaga Stories- Carl Sandburg (This book is odd and lyrical and really really odd, and the girls LOVE it.)

The Phantom Tollbooth- Norton Juster (The girls love this book almost beyond reason. We’ve read it 4 times.)

Oz series- L. Frank Baum (We’ve read The Road to Oz, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz, The Lost Princess of Oz, Dorothy and the Little Wizard of Oz- or something like that- I can’t remember the title exactly)

The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett (LOVE but the beginning is rough.)

Beyond the PawPaw Trees- Palmer Brown

Little House in the Big Woods- Laura Ingalls Wilder


And just for good measure, here are the books on our to-read shelf. I can’t vouch for how they’ll be received, but I have high hopes.

Just So Stories- Rudyard Kipling

The 21 Balloons- William Pene Du Bois

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Little Prince – Antoine de Saint Exupery

Howl’s Moving Castle- Diana Wynne Jones

Castle in the Air- Diana Wynne Jones

House of Many Ways- Diana Wynne Jones

The Unseen World of Poppy Malone- Suzanne Harper

The Mouse and the Motorcycle- Beverly Cleary

Five Children and It- E. Nesbit

The Borrowers- Mary Norton (We’ve tried this before and it didn’t stick. We’ll give it a while and try again.)

Cats of Tanglewood Forest- Charles De Lint

The rest of the Little House on the Prairie books


What are your favorite read alouds?


At this moment

It is 8:18 am. It’s 79 degrees out, and while Yahoo tells me that it feels like 81, I don’t agree at the moment. It’s very pleasant, and I can drink my Bengal Spice tea without wanting to die. (Bengal Spice tea is my new favorite thing. It is SO good. It’s based on chai, but without the black tea.)

I’m listening to Simon & Garfunkel as I type. We’ve also had some Debussy during breakfast prep, and some The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter during breakfast. The other day I found an audiobook app on my iPod that I’d forgotten about, and so we’ve started listening to some Beatrix Potter stories during breakfast, and the girls LOVE it.

It’s been a calm, relaxed morning. I set my alarm for 6 am and actually forced myself out of bed to exercise. I’ve exercised in the morning for the last few days, and it’s felt great to get my body moving in the morning. But I’ve been doing it when the girls are already up, and while they do pretty well at leaving me to it, it pushes the rest of the morning back a bit far. So getting up before them is where it’s at. I know it, I just have to do it. I am not a fan of getting up. The thing that got me up this morning was thinking of my friend Brandy getting up every day at 4am to work out. That’s dedication, and 6 am is nothing compared to that. (So thank you darling, for being inspiring. 🙂 ) SO, I got up and did some yoga. I did a DVD by Shiva Rea, who is a lovely, kooky, creative, incredibly flexible woman. Her yoga is not typical yoga, and I think it would drive some people crazy, but I enjoy it. I need my sun salutations too, don’t get me wrong. But 45 minutes with her this morning was just right.

I showered and got upstairs just in time to hear Tiny crying for her daddy because she had a bad dream. B is in San Jose for the week, so I had to do, and I convinced her it was still nighttime and that she should go back to sleep. Well, kind of convinced her- she was up 10 minutes later, as was Z, who had been woken up by the whole thing. But that was fine since it was 7. 🙂

They’re playing in their room now, until 9 am when we start school. We’re experimenting with splitting the school day- doing scripture study, math, reading, and handwriting in the morning. Then we take a break until 1, when we do history, spelling, and science. We have a few more subjects to get in there too, but we’re starting out here and we’ll fill more in as we go. The girls like having a break, and I’m figuring out how to fit the things I need to get done around those pockets of school time. Schedules are so important in our house, we all do so much better with them.

I got a new calling in church on Sunday, which I’m really excited about. I can’t say what it is since it hasn’t been announced, but those who know me well will laugh.

I’m in the middle of A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, though I haven’t picked it up for a couple days. I binged on about half of it in a day, and it infiltrated my dreams that night and was a bit disturbing. The next night I watched the first episode of Broadchurch because I’d heard great things about it, and David Tennant is in it. Oh my dear goodness. Talk about horrible dreams. I’d heard the show described as Twin Peaks without the weirdness, and I think that’s highly accurate. The show starts with the discovery of the body of an 11 year old boy from the town on the beach, and it becomes clear that he’d been murdered. The whole point of the show is to explore how his death and the investigation impacts the town, and they do not pull any punches. It was so intense and raw and wow. I can’t handle watching anymore, and it’s made me compulsive about checking on the girls in their beds this week.  It also made me realize that the weirdness in Twin Peaks served the purpose of breaking the tension and the sadness. (As well as functioning symbolically/metaphorically for the horror and disorienting feelings Laura’s death caused, but that’s a different argument.)  I found myself wishing for something weird to happen in Broadchurch to break the horribleness for a minute.

We’re waiting for a delivery from yoyomarket this morning, which is the company that brings us our Costco goodies. It’s wonderful having groceries delivered to my door. 🙂 I’m experimenting with making a Costco order once a month, doing a big shop once a week, and stopping in for bread and milk twice a week.  So far it’s working pretty well. I got out my bread maker yesterday and it worked just fine with the power and made me a nice loaf, so once I stock up on flour we can cut the bread shop out of the equation.

In case you were wondering, I’m now listening to Sinead O’ Connor. The Simon and Garfunkel album was being aggravating. Or rather, iTunes was being aggravating. Do yourself a favor and go listen to Sinead’s Jerusalem right now. (Here, I’ll make it easy. Click here now.) Her voice kills me.  It’s just so controlled. I remember back when I worked at Atlantis I went across the street to the cafe on a break and this song was playing, and it almost knocked me over. I asked who it was and when they said Sinead I didn’t believe them, since I really only knew her from Nothing Compares To You. I went right out (after work) and bought the CD (I feel old.) and listened to it for weeks straight.  And her version of Ode to Billy Joe is so incredibly haunting.

It’s 9, which means it’s time for school. What’s going on with you at this moment?


I stole this little meme from another blog.

Outside my window: It is blue skies and gorgeous fluffy clouds. The roof on the house across from us is such a gorgeous mix of blue and purple, and ripples like fish scales. Most of the cicadas are quiet at the moment, and the street is quiet.  Someone just rode by on a bike.

I am thinking: about where to put stuff when our shipment gets here. (We’re still not sure when that will be.) Since we have different storage options- especially in the girls’ room- we’ll have extra bookshelves to use in other places, and I’m trying to mentally sort out where things can go.

I am thankful: for a gorgeous day, for beautiful green trees outside my window, for iMessage so I can text with friends at home and get gossip, for the fan blowing lovely cold air on me, for being in Japan.

Remembering: that the laundry is probably done. Hmm. I just went and checked, and the dryer is going. But I don’t remember setting the dryer. I did one load of laundry this morning and hung it out to dry, and then put in another to wash with the intent of then drying it in the dryer- I’m really hoping that I actually set it to wash first. This is one of the tricks of having a combo washer/dryer. Oh well.  I’ll find out in 35 minutes.

From the learning rooms: This afternoon we’ll be learning about Caesar crossing the Rubicon and making flags.  And, you know, math and spelling.

From the kitchen: I am eating Pringles. They are delicious. They are also my breakfast, which I realize is bad form. But they are delicious and just what I want right now.

I am wearing: light brown linen pants and a Ravenclaw Quidditch Team Captain shirt. From my days at Hogwarts.

I am creating: order in the universe by figuring out our schedule for this week.

I am going: downstairs in a minute to get some water.

I am reading: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which is SO good. I’m more than half way through it, and it’s just incredibly good.  It does have swearing in it, which makes me hesitate to suggest it to everyone I know, but otherwise I would.
Online, I’m reading about Sean Parker’s wedding and the surrounding controversy, which is FASCINATING.

I am hoping: my hanging laundry stays put despite the wind. I think it will.

I am hearing: the soundtrack to Pitch Perfect, specifically the mix from the final competition, when the Bellas kill it. I seriously love that scene so much I can’t stand it. I’m literally grinning as I listen to it right now. The music just builds so perfectly, and the facial acting by Skylar Astin is devastating as he goes from “wait, what is she singing”, to  “what is she doing, does this mean what I think it means”, to “I can’t believe this is happening to me”, to “I’m all in- John Bender fist pump”. And your heart is all aflutter at that point, and you’re super happy, and then the music just keeps going instead of being over, and you just get to celebrate and be happy. And ultimately the scene (and the end of the movie) is about them killing it, not about the romance, which is kind of cool if you think about it.

Around the house: The girls are playing downstairs in the teahouse. We discovered another door in there yesterday (another one leading outside), which provides great airflow so it’s not hot in there. They’ve been playing “Granny Playhouse Society Club”  which, according to Zoe,  is “a club where there’s different games for each day and you have to use a granny kind of voice and sometimes the grannies teach the kids about stuff. It’s kind of a school teaching game. I have a turn, and I’m the teacher, and Tiny’s the kid, and then she’s the teacher and I’m the kid.”

One of my favorite things: is seeing butterflies fly past my window. Hello butterflies!

Pondering: if we should go to the park today.

A few plans for the rest of the week: We may go swimming with friends, which will entail figuring out how to take a bus. It can’t be that difficult, right? It’s just a bus. B starts Japanese lessons tonight, which is exciting.  We’re going grocery shopping tomorrow, and then, we’ll see!

Pictures for the day:



At this moment

It’s 3:51 pm on Sunday. My weather app tells me that it’s 86 degrees but that it feels like 91 degrees. Humidity is 62% and it is mostly cloudy. There’s a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms tomorrow.

The girls are downstairs watching Pat the Postman, a new series they’ve discovered. B is reading. I’m futzing around with nothing particular to do. I would read, but I know if I jump back into the book I’m reading (A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki) I won’t want to stop to make dinner. I had to force myself to stop reading last night and go to sleep. The basic premise is that a woman finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore (wrapped carefully in plastic so it won’t get ruined) near her home. Inside is the journal of a Tokyo teenager who is planning to commit suicide but wants to record the life story of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun, first. Nao (the teenage girl) is written amazingly- her voice is absolutely realistic and enthralling. It’s a book I just want to lock myself away for a day and read.

Earlier today we were all outside in the backyard, and while I was attempting to get a picture of a little lizard friend (I failed), I did manage to get pictures of a butterfly. B introduced me to the snappycam app, which takes a ton of pictures really fast. I need to work on focus, but I was just so excited that the butterfly was staying still for a minute that I didn’t wait. 🙂

I’m pretty sure this is a Blue Triangle. The blue on their wings is almost electric- they’re so pretty.




I am missing my sewing machine today, I feel the need to make something- anything. I’m tempted to get some yarn and a crochet hook, but it’s hot and crocheting and knitting are definitely cold weather activities to me. The boat that our stuff is on is supposed to get here tomorrow, so here’s hoping it gets through customs super fast. 🙂 Then I can be reunited with my lovely sewing machines of doom. Someone around here has got to need a stuffed animal, yeah? 🙂

I had a drink today called Spiral Grape; it’s carbonated, and is a mix of grape and black licorice. It’s a decidedly odd taste, but I think I like it. It took me a couple of sips to figure out the licorice- it’s not bitter like straight black licorice can be. (I don’t like straight black licorice. It’s of the devil.) Anyway, just thought I’d mention it. 🙂

This coming week we’ll probably make another trip out to Ueno Park; the National Museum of Science and Nature has a deep sea exhibit, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum has an exhibit of selections from the Louvre, and  the Tokyo National Museum has a calligraphy exhibit. We may have to take a couple trips. 🙂 For school we’ll be learning about the death of Ceasar and the rise of Christianity. (Those being two different topics.)  Zoe is learning about reading gauges and practicing multi-digit subtraction (she’d rather focus on the gauges), and Tiny is working on adding and writing her numbers properly. She loves adding. She’d do adding all day if I’d let her. She does not enjoy writing her numbers. But she’s getting better at getting them to face the proper directions.  She’s also making leaps and bounds forward in reading- recognizing whole words without having to sound them out.  She read 40 pages of an Elephant and Piggie book the other night before we had to stop so she could go to bed.

I don’t really have much else to say. Gonna go make some dinner. But I will leave you with what is now my background for my computer- my inspiration for the month. (Click on it if you want to see it bigger.)



I just noticed that Steve Zissou is pointing at the squid, and that makes me happy.  Just remember, beware of airship pirates.

School days

Brandy asked what we are doing for school, so I shall tell you.

I go into this post with the disclaimer that obviously, what is right for us isn’t necessarily right for everyone, and we’re not judging those who make different decisions, so don’t judge us. We have friends here who have kids in all of these different options, and I know that they’ve thought things through carefully and made the best decisions for their kids.

We basically had 3 options for school- international school, Japanese public school, or homeschool. Since we were already homeschooling, the decision wasn’t difficult, but we did think about it. The main international school here is excellent, and a fair number of the kids from church go there. It is extremely expensive, but we could have included that in our negotiations. We decided against it, because if we’re going to bring the girls all the way across the world to experience another country and culture, we would rather them have the chance to do that than spend the majority of their day in school.   The Japanese public school was less of an option, since the girls don’t speak Japanese. There are some accommodations made for non-Japanese speakers (including pull out classes with tutors to work on Japanese), but the friends I know whose English speaking kids have tried it have not had great success in learning enough Japanese to flourish. Things seem to go well in yochien (preschool/kindergarten) but not as well once they start first grade. So homeschool it is.

The laws/culture around homeschooling here are interesting and complex. This is a really good post about the various ins and outs of the situation. Basically, all “school aged children” (ages 7-15) are required to attend school. (High school is not compulsory, which is a whole other topic.)  Some people interpret that to mean that homeschooling is illegal, others don’t. But the loophole for us is that if the child isn’t a citizen, they just kind of don’t care. Whether it’s that they don’t care or they don’t want to be bothered, if you are gaijin (a foreigner) no one asks where or if your child is going to school. If anyone did cause a stink, there is a form that we could fill out saying that we were not enrolling the girls in the public school, but no one has requested or required that form, and that’s been the experience of everyone I can talk to or find online. So we go with it.

We have already started school, even though it’s technically summer break. The girls don’t do well with changes in the school routine- they forget things over the summer and it’s a huge  battle to get back into the swing of things when school starts again. So we are doing a simplified school day (math, spelling, reading, history), which takes about an hour in the afternoons. When we came out here the first time, we paused on the history we had been doing and did Japanese history for 2 1/2 months, which put us behind in our regular history book. So we are learning about Romans this summer, and should be all set to pick up with the Middle Ages in September.

We’re sticking with the CA rules of 180 days of school per year, but going to a year round schedule. (I just looked around to confirm that 180 number and apparently there’s all sorts of madness going on with how many days are required- we’ll stick with 180 to be safe. And because I’ve already figured it out based on that. )  In a month we’ll have 3 weeks of school and then 1 week of vacation, where we can fit in bigger field trips and exploring Japan. That should give us plenty of downtime while keeping the girls in the swing of things.

Once we get to September, we’ll be doing math, reading, writing/spelling/handwriting, history, grammar, art, and Japanese daily. We’ll do science 3 times a week, and life skills on the other 2 days. We’re starting on Earth sciences this year, which should be great fun. The Middle Ages should be fantastic as well- yay knights and the Renaissance! In addition, we’re planning on getting the girls into a Japanese class that would be twice a week.  Hopefully we will also be able to find a dance class for them. Zoe really wants to take gymnastics, but that may be more difficult to find.

So that’s what we’re doing.  Yay for school!

What’s been going around here

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Things have been busy! Earlier this week was the culmination of lots of work- I finished a first draft of a 50,000 word novel for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, wherein crazy people attempt to write 50,000 word novels in a month), and held a craft fair (with some of my friends) that I had been crafting like crazy for in the preceding weeks. Then there’s school and there was Halloween, so much goodness! Would you like to see?

Halloween goodness. Rapunzel and Belle (or, more accurately, Cinderella in a yellow dress)

Z pretending to fly a real Boeing 747 at the Hiller Aviation Museum.

A dirigible (squee!!!!) at the Hiller Aviation Museum. I LOVE dirigibles!

We “mummified” an apple with salt and baking soda. That was fun.

Things I made for the craft sale (or for friends, or for my kids or nephews. Pretty much just stuff I made):

For my darling Ana and her miracle baby boy.

Felt wreath. I love how this turned out!

Little foxes. I have about 6 more of these to make now- 3 for a friend’s kids, 2 for my own kids, and 1 for me!

Mini peeps! Love them! (That was both a command and an expression of my feeling toward them.)

Have I posted this before? I feel like I may have. It’s a quilt I made for Tiny, with my virtual quilting bee friends. I sent out the fabric, they sent back sewn squares, and I sewed it all together.

More dollies for the craft sale.

Throwing stars for the craft sale. Filled with rice, you throw them and the ribbons trail behind.

Harry Potter pillows for my nephews’ Harry Potter room. My sister redid their room for their birthday, and these were on their beds. (The room is insanely awesome.)

Also for their room- their own Gryffindor scarves.

What the trees look like around here. So pretty!

New bird ornaments for my Christmas tree.

The girls met Santa!

And last but not least,

Tiny is tough. In case you were wondering. 🙂

There are also a number of projects that I can’t post yet because they’re for Christmas presents, but I’ll post them after Christmas, because I’m happy with how they turned out. I’ve been keeping track of everything I’ve made this year, and I’m currently at 121 things made. That’s kind of crazy. 🙂

Anyway, I should maybe possibly be posting more, now that the craziness of last month is over. We’ll see. But I’ve missed you!