Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 3, 2012 - Japanese lessons

With the kids back in school, it's time for me to restart my Japanese lessons.  Ack!  I had such plans for studying this summer.  Not sure what happened......, but it didn't include any studying.  My last lesson was in early June before the kids got out of school.  Since then, it's been three long months of NO Japanese.  Pretty sure I don't remember anything. 

I did a little frantic reviewing before my 10:00 am lesson.  Yep, I was right - pretty much remember nothing.

Note for next summer: I may want to make the time without lessons shorter than three months, and it might be a good idea to do some studying. 

One of my friends told me, "GANBAT'TE KUDASAI!" which means "Hang in there!"

I told her, "GANBAR-I-MASU."

September 2, 2012 - More Mildew

It occurred to us that since we didn't end up making the Mt. Fuji trip, we didn't actually check out our car after it was returned to us on Friday.  So Drew and I headed down to the garage today.  The first thing we noticed when we opened the garage was the smell of mildew.  Then we saw that there was mildew all around the garage.  We had been so focused on the car last week that we had assumed it was just the car that was affected and we hadn't noticed all the other mildew.  So, we're pretty sure that means it's not Lucy's fault.  (It hadn't seemed a very likely cause in the first place, but it was all we could come up with when we had seen it only in the car.)

We guess the cause of the mildew was a hot humid Japanese summer and a garage with no ventilation that was closed up for a couple of months.  Time to contact the landlord......

We currently have our Christmas tree, which had been stored in the garage, set up on our back patio.  We wanted to air it out when we discovered the mildew, but now we're not sure what to do with it.  The storage bag is mildewed, and we're waiting to hear back from the landlord.  So the Christmas tree sits on the patio..... and sits......and sits.  Will it still be there when it's time to decorate it?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

August 31, 2012 - All About Me

This first week of school, Cooper had to make an "All About Me" cube that the teacher will hang in the classroom.  He had to write various things about himself and his family.  The very Cooper part of the cube?  His special skill is "annoying people."

We did get our car back from Mick today, but unfortunately, we had to put the Mt. Fuji hike on hold due to a family illness.  We'll have to try again next summer since the Mt. Fuji climbing season is very short (unless you're an experienced hiker, which we definitely are not).    However, Cooper's Cub Scout pack is climbing Mt. Takao in November, and we are planning on joining them.

August 30, 2012 - Tryouts

Here is one of the perks of ASIJ:  after-school sports (or other activities) and the late bus.  Today they had tryouts for the elementary school swim team for new (to the team) 4th and 5th graders, so Cooper was staying after school.  They also had tryouts for the middle school soccer team.  I know, I know, who would have thought Greer would be interested?  Ah, but there's Zoe.  Zoe's parents wanted her to tryout for the soccer team, Zoe wasn't very interested in doing it, Zoe talked to Greer about doing it with her, and voila!, Greer is trying out for the team.  So the kids stayed after school for their tryouts and the very convenient late bus brought them home.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

August 29, 2012 - Water and Mildew

We are planning on hiking Mt. Fuji this Saturday with the Boy Scouts and some Webelos.  Tonight at dinner we were talking about what we needed to carry.  Greer suggested that we carry more water than Drew and I were saying.  (We knew that it was possible to buy water on the mountain, although at inflated prices, if we should happen to want more.)  Drew asked Greer if she knew how much a gallon of water weighs.  Her response?  "Well, it depends what planet you're on."  Indeed it does.

Drew and I burst out laughing, and I felt the need to share her response (online).  She was not very pleased with me; she was a little embarrassed since "Mom, but I don't know what it weighs on ANY of them."  Well, Greer, we didn't really think you did.  It seemed a good stall tactic worthy of your father.

Speaking of her father, he then replied, "For the purposes of this discussion, let's assume the planet has Earth-like gravity."  He then proceeded to help her figure out how much a gallon of water weighs (on Earth).  Typical dinnertime discussion in our household.

We were planning on staying Friday night at a camp belonging to SAJ (Scout Association of Japan) that is near one of the trails, and the Scouts were going to start the hike at 6:00 am on Saturday.  We realized we should go check on our car.  Drew drove it once to pick up Lucy when he arrived back in Japan in July and he thinks one other time; otherwise, it hadn't been driven since we left for the States at the beginning of the summer.  We were concerned we might need to jump it, or worse, replace the battery.

Oh, if it were only that.  Instead, as we approached the car, we could see something was amiss inside.  We opened the car and saw that there was mold/mildew on all the fabric.  It seemed to be a little heavier in the middle of the back seat, making us think Lucy had been damp when Drew picked her up, and then the closed car allowed the mildew/mold to grow.  On the positive side, the car started right up.  Thank goodness for small favors.

We bought our car from Mick Lay for a reason: he helps us deal with stuff.  We went back inside and called Mick.  After we explained the situation to him, he told us he was going to have some of his guys pick our car up the next day.  If they couldn't get it back to us the following day (Friday), he would arrange a loaner car for us.  And that is why we bought our car from Mick.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

August 28, 2012 - First day of school

Greer and Cooper thought morning came awfully early today.  It definitely wasn't easy for them to get up at 6:00 am, though they did manage to drag themselves out of bed.  They don't really need to be woken up quite that early, but they like to have a little time to lounge in bed before they actually have to get moving.  They also definitely do not like to be rushed at the breakfast table.  This morning Cooper was taking a very long time at breakfast.  All he was having was a smoothie, and he didn't appear to have made much progress.  I said to Drew, "He's been at the table for over 20 minutes. What's he been doing?" Before Drew could answer, Cooper chimed in, "Frolicking."  I guess he was more awake than I thought.

Of course, I had to take my traditional first day of school picture.  They let me take pictures in front of our apartment and in front of the building, but they drew the line at getting on the bus. 

Now, to tell you about the first day, here are the kids.

Cooper's first day:
My first day of school was pretty good. I got a nice teacher, but none of my good friends were in my class. Since I didn't go to the student orientation, I didn't really know what to do in the first part of the day, but afterwards I was fine. We also got homework on the first day of school!!!! I know, crazy!! and I wouldn't say it was a little bit.
(Note from Jen: Cooper didn't go to the student orientation the Friday before school started because, as with the middle school orientation, we had not gotten any indication that it was for returning students as well as new students.  It wasn't until the night before, after some communications from a few friends, that I realized it was also for returning students.  It was not mandatory (like the middle school one was) and the kids already had a piano lesson scheduled for Friday morning, so he missed the orientation.  Poor communication from ASIJ.)

Greer's first day:
Well, we started out in HR with a rocking science teacher, (excuse the pun) and after 35 minutes (it usually is 15) we headed off to period one. Also, we had school orientation the day before so we only were in advisory for a little while. At period one, I met my LASS teacher, Mr. Loveman! He is hilarious, doesn't believe in giving tons of HW (he believes in studying but he only gives you work that you can possibly finish in class); in other words, HE is the BEST!!! It was SO awesome even though we spent the whole block period (periods one and two) talking and watching trains... long story. Mr. Loveman is a long story. (His wife is a swim coach for ASIJ swim team) Then we went to Math for two periods (periods 3 and 4) and we did an assignment about patterns and how to calculate what will happen in step 10 or 50 and stuff like that. Other questions we answered were like, "if we had fifty slashes, what step would we be on?" Really fun!  Mrs. Whick is my math teacher and for some odd reason she reminds me of my Aunt Jen in so many ways. (Science is tomorrow, with my advisor, Mr. Dohrenwend). Guess what, though? (completely off topic) I had to change my password on my email cuz someone tried to hack it in the States and in Germany! Anyways, it was time for lunch, and I had already bought my school supplies this morning so no need to do that now. I met with Zoe at our old LA/SS teacher's classroom, Mrs. Erwin (who still is the best female LASS teacher ever!!! because Mr. Loveman is cool too.....). I have no classes with Zoe :'(! Mrs. Erwin thinks it is cruel how we had all of our classes together last year and then we had no classes together this year in both semesters.....  So meanl!!!!!  After lunch I went to PE with Mrs. Vriend (Mr. Vriend teaches the 8th graders during period 5). We just went over the rules and were told that we would get our PE lockers the next day. We played basketball for the rest of the period. Oh, I forgot that during lunch I went to get a new lock cuz the office threw away all the records of our combinations that we told them because they didn't think that they might need them next year!!!! Urgh. Don't worry, mom and dad, I spent my own money because I forgot my combo and couldn't find the paper with the combination on it. Sorry. Next I had Spanish class taught  by a Latin American so that I can get every tidbit right, down to the accent. (oh, and I had HW in math and in Spanish) ?Me llamo Greer, Como te llamo? Mucho Gusto!!!! After Spanish I had Invent and Engineering with Mr. Knapp (awesome science teacher). We have to do a report on garbage, (my partner and I) with hannah. Then, I stopped by the kiosk to pick up a binder, some dividers, and one more notebook. By then, it was time to board bus 7 home.

How was your first day?

Monday, September 3, 2012

August 27, 2012 - Dentist

Our dentist in Houston was booked when I called to make appointments.  It might have had something to do with the fact I called only a week ahead of time.  As long as we were going to be seeing somebody new, it might as well be somebody new in Tokyo.  I made appointments for Greer and Cooper for the day before school started.  Unfortunately, I had to cancel Greer's appointment when we found out the middle school orientation the same day was for returning students as well as new students.  However, we kept Cooper's appointment, so this morning he and I headed off to see our first Japanese dentist.

A friend of mine had been to this office previously, so I knew there was some English spoken there.  When I called to make the appointments a couple of weeks earlier, they put me on hold while they went and got the (is there only one?) English speaker.  When we arrived (by train, of course), the receptionist had us wait while she went and got somebody.  The receptionist did appear to speak some English, but the person she went and got is the same person to whom I spoke when making the appointments, so maybe there IS only the one. 

Just past the receptionist's desk, before entering where the exam rooms were, was a spot to take off your shoes and put on borrowed slippers.  First Cooper went back, and the hygienist took x-rays and cleaned his teeth.  Then they brought me back to speak to the hygienist, with the same person as before acting as interpreter.  I don't think the hygienist spoke any English.  After another wait out front for me, they brought me back to speak to the dentist, with the interpreter.  The dentist did seem to speak some English, like the receptionist earlier.  However, I have noticed that Japanese people do not like to say they speak English unless they speak it very well.  Their English could be miles ahead of my Japanese (not that I'm anywhere near claiming that I speak Japanese - that's got to be YEARS away), but they'll still say they don't speak English.  Glad that they have somebody in the office who speaks English - certainly makes it easier on us!

We've finally found something in Tokyo that's cheaper than in the U.S.  For the x-rays, cleaning, and flouride treatment, it cost us a little over 10,000 yen, which is about $130.  I couldn't remember what it would cost us in the U.S. since I'm used to paying a small copay, but my parents said they thought x-rays and cleaning at their dentist would cost about $180.  Finally, something cheaper! :)