Wednesday, June 20, 2012

One Year Mark

Ohisashiburi!  It has been a year since we moved to Tokyo.  In the course of the year, some things have changed and some things haven't.

For one, I'm not a blogger anymore.  I haven't blogged a lot because at first I dropped and broke my lens on my camera and I didn't have pictures to put with my posts.  I did get a new lens for Christmas but then I just didn't feel like there was anything to blog about.  We go to school, do homework, clean, shower, and sleep....boring, right?  I then became an iphone junky and it has also changed the way I keep myself in the cyber world.  It is loads of fun, light weight, completely convenient, quick, and just plain awesome.  I rarely ever sit at the desktop anymore.  It's rather freeing.  Now, if I can just take all my fb posts and put them on my blog....

Another change that happened is that I became a morning person.  For a few months, I was waking up at 5 am, sometimes before, annoyingly.  Now, I'm doing great around 6:30am.  I'd wake up to make obentos for the boys--all nut free and junk food fruit snacks, cookies, chips, etc.  This is school policy.  And it's been really, really good for us.   

We also walked a lot.  The boys walked 90 miles during the course of the year, just to school and back.  This doesn't include all the walking they do to go everywhere else.  I walked and ran a lot more than that.  The baby fat that I couldn't get off before we moved to Japan and the other weight I was slowing gaining due to a sedentary lifestyle, is gone!  And all from just walking everywhere.  I look at pictures of Americans and am in shock now, when I wasn't before.  The stereotype that Americans are fat.....well, is looking really true from the East.

This past year, I managed to survive off one haircut.  The truth is, it is sooooo expensive to live in Tokyo.  I use to pay $50 for four piano lesson back in the states and now I pay about that for just one.  Toki takes piano lessons from a very talented musician, Lolo takes violin lessons, and Vy does Taiko drums.  In order to afford this, lots of other things have to be cut out.  I don't have a helper, which is common in expat lifestyle.  I also don't do lunch and I obviously don't get my hair done.  Our tight budget is keeping me in check!

I'm also involved more at school.  Next year, I'll be chairing the quilt group and the Mexican booth at the food fair.  This will be like a part time job for me.  I am nervous but excited.  The quilt this past year sold for $16,000 at our school Gala in May.  I have big shoes to fill.  Last year was the first year the school had a Mexican booth at the food fair in the Fall.  We used my tamale recipe.  It was a hit.   All proceeds from the food fair and the Gala go to the school.  The money is used for new equipment, projects, remodels, etc. 

I managed to learn to drive sitting in the right seat of the car, on the left side of the road.  It's very weird at first.  And something I am not proud of....I still don't have a drivers license or car insurance for that matter.  But, I'm still a good driver....I don't hit people, just things.  That hasn't changed.  I've hit two poles.  The first time I did it, I got a scratch on the car.  The second time, the car wasn't so lucky.  We no longer use the back, left door.  Such a bummer!

Some other things that haven't changed....

The kids are as active and creative as before.  Toki is down to 31 seconds to solve the Rubiks cube. They still create with legos, paper and tape, make forts with blankets, trash the house in minutes, leave their clothes on the floor, complain about homework and chores, and fight.  I am proud to say, my children still do not have armpit hair.  I refuse to have hormone laden cow's milk for us.  After years of trying rice, soy, and oat milk...I have found the one I love.  Almond milk!!

We do lots of the the same things we did at home just slightly, camping, shopping, errands, school, work, hang out with friends, and church. 

The boys are attending Japanese public schools for the summer, about 6 weeks total.  Some might feel sorry for the boys.  I have to admit, sometimes I do too.  But the truth is, they are getting a unique, Japanese experience they might not ever get to have again.  They do swim lessons, art, music, school lunch, regular class instruction, recess, help clean bathrooms, water plants....all the while in Japanese.  I think it's all pretty dang rad, if you ask me.  They are being rewarded for completing Japanese school....Toki gets a trip home to be with his friends, Vy wants heelys and some new Wii games, and Lolo hasn't asked for anything yet.

Living in Japan, I do miss some things including the convenience of Walmart.  I love the idea of a one stop shop.  They have department stores like that, it's just 3 times as far.  My Costco run is a whole day ordeal.  It's not necessarily that far but because of the congestion and tight roads, the crowds at the store, and having to lug everything up the the fourth floor, by becomes an ordeal.  I also miss sushi!!  I live in Japan and I don't eat the fish.  How sad.  However, I feel it is important to stay on the safe side.  Most of the produce and products I buy are imported or from the south or another island of Japan.  The radiation still worries me.  Not as much as before.  I feel the air is clean now.  I still have some of my year supply of water that I shipped last year, to use.  But, we inherited a radiation filter for water, so I'm moving to that.  I have never in my life been so conscientious of what we are eating.  It is not a bad thing.  We all should be. 

We have one more year left in Tokyo.  After that.....sunny California, Europe, South America, or maybe an extension.  After having a taste of living overseas, I must say I want to do it again!