One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

Friday, December 23, 2011


My life has been less than balanced lately. Name a major aspect of your life, anything that brings you peace and happiness. Chances are good that any aspect you can think of is in upheaval in my life. During this time of major transition I've been feeling stressed, afraid, nervous, anxious, even depressed. There has been a general overarching "stuck," feeling accompanied by confusion about what I should do. I've been managing all of that, as well as I could, and then Adam and I got sick. (Sinusitis and Bronchitis I now know.)

So yesterday I finally broke down and went to a lovely new community health clinic in Seatac to see an M.D. My appointment was brief and productive, my doctor was kind and helpful. While I was waiting I read all the information posted around the clinic and I learned that they have an acupuncturist on staff every Thursday. I discovered that he was in the office, and available!

After just 5 minutes of paperwork the receptionist lead me back to a large, dim room. There was cello music playing on a small CD player. That music immediately made me feel calmer. I was seated in a zero gravity chair, along with 3 other silent patients. The practitioner, Paul Griffin, quietly talked with me about me while he softly checked my pulse on my wrists and ankles. He inserted tiny, painless needles in my ears, wrists, ankles, knees and toes. When the second needle was placed in my ankle my right eye started twitching, it soon stopped. When he was done I laid back in the chair and thought.

My mid was so clear. Maybe clearer than it has ever been. I thought about myself, my family, my life, and my future. I was calm, peaceful, relaxed, focused, motivated, energized and completely clear about what I needed to do. The entire process took about 20 minutes. This clinic I went to is open to anyone. They charge people based on a sliding scale of income, the lowest bracket pays only $10 and the highest bracket pays just $35. I set another appointment for next Thursday...for me and Adam.

They say that acupuncture is about energy, freeing energy to flow more naturally within you. That is exactly how I would describe the way I feel. I know I'm not the first person to discover the awesome wonder of this experience, but I wish more people knew about it. I wish I had had the chance to participate in it sooner.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas in the Northwest

With Christmas only a week away I would like to say Merry Christmas! I hope this has been a season of peace, love, hope and new beginnings for your family; thankfully it has been for mine. Every time I'm tempted to be discouraged that we are in Seattle rather than spending this year in Japan I stop myself and think of my daughters simple prayers. Each night they kneel beside Adam and I and say things like, "Thank you that we could play with our cousins," and "Thank you that we can spend Christmas at Grandma's." Their gratitude reminds me to be grateful.

We decided not to send out many Christmas cards this year, 10 to be exact. (I think I sent out 100 last year.) I added a simple photo that I took myself in those ten cards. It shows Mia and Teryn merrily swinging on a tire swing. I included this photo because it typifies what our family is focused on right now, simplicity, family, fun and uncomplicated love.

Wherever you live, whatever you are up to this season I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

P.S. If you would like to send me a Christmas Card my address for the moment is 10831 SE 190th PL, Renton, WA 98055.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Building a Functional Family

I've spent the past 9 weeks with my family of four living in my parents home in Seattle. I'm actually sleeping in the room I grew up in. Yikes, right? This living arrangement just screams, "Deal with your unfinished business Linds!" I now reside within a one-mile radius of all three of my brothers and their respective families. I do not have any employment outside of the home for the first time since I was 15. So as you might imagine, FAMILY has been on my mind a lot lately.

There is no such thing as a perfect family, but functional is a worthy goal. I've stumbled upon a resource that I think might give me some guideposts about how to build a functional family. It's a free online course available through the Independent Study department at BYU. It's called Family Life 72: Building a Functional Family. Here is the URL where the course can be found:

I took the first lesson tonight, it shared an overview of the 12 Characteristics of a Functional Family. Some of my favorites were:

1. There is an inviting, comfortable, loving atmosphere in the home and family.
2. Parents offer their children all their love and support without worrying too much about the outcomes of their parenting.
5. Parents understand that the family is the best place to address basic human needs.
6. In functional families, relationships are of supreme importance.
8. Functional parents have clearly defined roles and responsibilities that they mutually agree upon.
9. Functional parents exhibit strong and confident leadership and are passionate about their responsibilities as parents.
11. Functional families like to play and have fun together!

Just the first lesson gave me lots of things to think about. I finished the first lesson thinking most about how much I love my family; Adam, Mia and Teryn. It reminded me what an important task parenting is. It reminded me that relationships need to be a priority every day, which requires intentional effort. It also reminded me that everyone is part of a family, and chances are any and all of those family relationships could be improved.

"The functional family is a place where people feel like they can grow and learn from their mistakes. There is love and unity among family members. There is not a lot of criticism in the atmosphere of the home. Family members take time for each other and offer support and guidance to each other. The parents care about the family and make its well-being their top priority in life. The parents teach the children and set a good example for them to follow." ---Family Life 72, Lesson 1

No person, or family is perfect. When it comes to family there is always room for improvement.

A Christian pastor , Jon Acuff, made a recent blog post about spending quality time with our families and I thought he hit the nail on the head, he said, "The challenge is to take the time at home and invest it, do something to provide value with that time. Turn off the phone, the tv, and spend time with your spouse, spend time with your kids. Be intentional about letting them know that when you are home, they are the most important thing at that moment. It’s not enough just to say they are the most important thing in your life, let them know by your actions and how you invest your time."

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I admit that I have been addicted to doing my entire life. Do the dishes, do the laundry, do the degree, do the career ladder, do the assignments, do the marriage, do the kids, do the extended family time...there were always a million things to do and only 24 hours in a day! Being here in Seattle instead of Japan has given me a lot of time to stop doing. Don't get me wrong I have every opportunity to be just as busy, but I am choosing not to. Letting your life get overrun with to-do lists is so easy. I've found that it is much more challenging not to do everything.

Lately a certain scripture keeps crossing my path, Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still and know that I am God."

I'm finally getting it. It's not all up to me. I need to slow down. I need to listen. I need to let go.

It's been two months and our visas have still not arrived. We don't know when they will. We do know they will and that when they do, we will go back to Japan. During our two months here we have had many invaluable lessons and feels good knowing it's not all up to me.

Friday, October 21, 2011


I cannot believe my daughters are growing up so fast. Ever had that feeling? Look at these pictures from earlier little mermaids. My oh my. My babies are growing up.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Unexpectedly Awesome Day

Today I had an unexpectedly awesome day. I was planning to get a bunch of work done; instead I got invited to go on a Harley ride with my Dad.

My Dad drives a pristine black Harley-Davidson Softtail Classic. It was his retirement present to himself. I always thought it was optimistic to buy a Harley in Seattle but today was the kind of day bikers in Seattle live for. The sky and roads were clear. The air was crisp enough to change the leaves from green to red, but not cold enough to penetrate our leathers. We had a great ride.

My Dad loves a burger joint in Issaquah called Triple X, so that's where we went. I laughed out loud as we walked up to the building and on the front door was a sign that said, "Nothing you eat or drink here will be good for you." Perfect. We had a couple of frosted mugs of Triple X brand rootbeer, fries and onion rings. It was a great snack. Great rootbeer. Great company. Great day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Life is What Happened...

...when you had something else planned.

This is my Dad's favorite quote of all times. He shares this sentiment with me almost daily. It has never felt more relevant than now. We certainly didn't plan to be back in Seattle right now. When we left for Japan nearly four months ago we planned to be gone for at least a year. Then our visa expired. What can you do? We had to come home. We've been told that our working visas will take another 1-2 months to approve. WOW. One to two months.

So here's our plan (we'll see how it works out): 1. Take Japanese lessons 2. Get Mia the care she needs for her broken arm to heal 3. Try and plan some weekend get-aways to visit friends 4. Adam is looking for a part-time job 5. Stay busy to keep the girls and my parents from going crazy.

I have had some awesome experiences while being here. I feel satisfied that for the time being we are doing what we need to do and learning what we need to learn. Sometimes the lessons we need to learn involve our children breaking their arms.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Broken arm update

Mia is doing great. The ER visit ended up costing $5300. She will have roughly $4000 in care before the cast is removed. I'll let you know what happens with the costs. We are not "residents" of Washington state, so our options are limited. I may end up having to pay the entire cost out of pocket. If I was a resident of Mexico in Washington state illegally the cost out of pocket would be zero.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mia's Broken Arm

I have never, ever been uninsured. I grew up on my Father's medical plan in Seattle, then was married and added to my husband's medical insurance in Utah. In Japan, when you are a citizen you are enrolled in the government healthcare program. It is a fairly socialist kind of operation as far as I can tell. So here we are in Seattle, no American job, no insurance, no idea when we will be heading back to Japan and my daughter breaks her arm. Hmm. I sense a life lesson coming on.

What is it like to be an injured American without health insurance?

Much to my surprise the ER took Mia without any hassle whatsoever. When you have insurance you spend about 20 minutes at the ER just giving them all your critical information; like social security number, employer, yearly income, insurance account numbers, etc. I got to walk right in, no hassle.

The financial advocate for the hospital came in once things had settled down and gave me a helpful piece of paper, one piece of paper, that would put me in touch with all the relevant people who could provide me with help in paying my bill without the aid of insurance. She was completely helpful.

Mia's arm is currently in a splint, she needed 4 hours of emergency room care and 4 x-rays. She will be treated by an orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday to put on her cast. When asked by the doctor's office about our insurance I explained that we didn't have insurance. She never mentioned money after that. Mia was given the next available appointment, without any insurance or hassle.

Throughout the process to this point it has struck me that these facilities and offices are used to having patients without insurance. I was always under the impression before that being uninsured was the exception, not the rule. It turns out many Americans are uninsured. According to the USAToday in September the number of uninsured Americans is more than 50 million, that's 1 person out of every 6.

In the past our medical bills have almost always been covered by insurance and we were therefore responsible for only 20% of the cost. We have had major medical issues such as; kidney failure, many pregnancy related problems, and recently a pulmonary embolism. We have done our utmost to pay these bills, which, for our family in the past 5 years I would estimate our out of pocket costs to be about $20,000. These bills have cut into our family finances significantly over the years, some we are still paying off. This amount does not include the amount of money taken out of our paychecks every month to pay for health insurance. That amount spent on insurance over that past 5 years was about $14,000!

This new broken arm will come with an estimated price tag of about $1700. I'm not sure what we will have to pay. All I can say is that I feel no concern over the bill, which generally I would be concerned about. I am scratching my head about the ease with which our care is being provided. I wonder what is the point of insurance? I wonder how the medical community is handling 20% of the population being uninsured and still needing care? I simply can't imagine why I have played the game for so long?

I don't claim to understand the healthcare system in Japan, but I know when we get back Mia's arm would be fixed for no out of pocket costs and our cost for the government healthcare system each month is about $100.

My final thought: Americans need a new healthcare system. I don't believe in robbing the rich to give to the poor. I think doctors and medical care providers should be paid what they are worth. I think care should be provided when needed. I think a better way is available. We have strong, smart, capable, creative, talented people in America...a better way needs to be implemented in this great country of ours.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quality Time with Kids

In one of my recent blogs I mentioned that I think it's very important to spend quality time with kids. I've been making this a priority during my stay in Seattle as much as possible. My 3 brothers live in Seattle with their families, so Mia and Teryn have been spending time with their cousins and I get to be auntie Lindsey. I've been loving it.

So far we've included the kids in a movie night, made blackberry pies, played princesses, gone shopping and had several dinners. I love to see the funny things they do, like Mia for example, starts dancing ballet moves from Swan Lake in stores. The kids also say adorable things, just the other day Mia's cousin said, "I dream about meatballs." LOL. I picked one of the cousins up for a special date the other night and when she got in my car she said, "Aunt Lindsey, this is going to be the best day ever!" We had a great time together and I felt like a million bucks just watching her smile. I love my kids, but my brothers' kids come in a close second.

So. Why do I think spending quality time with kids is so important?
1. It teaches them a million things just to watch you.
2. It teaches you a million things just to watch them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jet Lag

My entire family has a really bad case of jet lag. It's 4 AM and all 4 of us are wide awake. It's been brutal for us and everyone that wants to spend time with us. Just in case you have never experienced the effects of jet lag here is what you've been missing:

Impaired Coordination

Dealing with these effects has caused us to:

be impatient
be late for appointments
miss appointments and/or activities altogether
seem tired instead of fresh throughout the day

We have tried all the tips and tricks to mitigate our jet lag and so far we have received no benefits. We've been here less than a week but already these effects have given people the impression that we are: lazy, recluses, terrible parents, unreliable, self-involved and annoying in general.

In case you are feeling any of the above please let me assure you we are not purposely any of those things: We are tired. TIRED.




Sorry, I nodded off there for a second. Oh wait, no I didn't. I'm still wide awake and still TIRED.


Friday, September 16, 2011

The Help

I went and saw, The Help, with my Mom tonight. I have really missed my Mom and this movie was just what we needed. We laughed, we cried, we were reminded of the unbreakable bond between women. My Mom is the kind of Mom I wish everyone had. My Mom was always an individual, she was a wife, a mother of 5, but she was pretty good at just being Cathy. She liked to sew, bake bread, garden, read lots of books, take walks and visit friends and family. Somehow she seemed to have time to tend to all of our needs too; she would help my brothers deliver papers for their paper routes, assist in my girl scout troop, have dinner on the table by 5:30 every night and have brown bag lunches ready on the counter for all 5 kids by 7:00 AM. What a woman!

My Mom has always been great with kids. All 5 of her kids are married and she has 11 grandkids to play far. My Mom teaches kindergarten at Benson Hill Elementary School in Renton, WA. She was honored last year by a local TV station for being an outstanding teacher. She knows more silly songs and children's books than Mr. Rogers. When Mia asked her for some chips tonight she turned the conversation into a math problem involving adding and subtracting chips. My Mom is a cool grandma.

In the movie, The Help, one of the main characters is a 29 year-old writer, and her Mom kind of blew it as her mother from time to time. All Moms kind of blow being a good mom from time to time. Lord knows I blow it. There is power in the truth. My Mom is not perfect, never was, never will be...but I love her for giving her imperfect self to the task of being my Mom, then, now and always.

My Mom turns 60 in November and as I sat in the movie theater tonight noticing her grey hair out of the corner of my eye and holding her soft, thin hand I thought about what she means to me and how much I love her. Motherhood can feel like a pretty thankless job sometimes. I am fortunate and thankful to have a Mom like mine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Now that I'm back in Seattle I've been thinking a lot about Japan. I love Japan. In only 2 1/2 months I have learned many valuable lessons just from being there and observing life and people. Here are some of the lessons in bullet-point form. (I'm boiling it down for all you Americans with your short attention spans. :) haha

1. Kids are valuable. Your time with them is precious. Make it count and then let them go.
2. You do not need very much food and water to survive, just eat less.
3. Pay cash for everything, it just makes life more simple and pain-free.
4. If you're going to indulge in eating ice cream eat the good stuff.
5. Your community is very important, give and take. Make a contribution with your presence.
6. Take your shoes off at the door, cleaning the floor every day is such a pain.
7. Don't waste electricity, in fact use it as little as possible, it can be fun.
8. Respect your elders.
9. Try to visit your hometown a least once a year.
10. Focus on the positive aspects of your life and challenges.
11. If you have a problem that is making your life miserable change yourself or your life or both.
12. You don't need more than 6 outfits. Use them up. Wear them out. Then buy new things as needed.
13. Ridding yourself of excess is just as easy as saying, "No, thank you." Say, "No, thank you" more often.
14. Spend more time outside.
15. Make more friends, you can never have too many.

Adam and I will be returning to Japan as soon as our new visas have been processed. We will be staying with my parents in the meantime. Mia and Teryn were angels on the 15+ hours of travel time from Japan to Seattle. We may be here anywhere from 1-8 weeks. There is no way of knowing how long it will take. While we're here I have a small wishlist of American things to buy or do. I really want to eat pizza (A large pizza costs about $35 in Japan!!). We want to see movies in a theater (In Japan they cost $20 a ticket and the closest theater to us is an hour away!) We want to buy shoes that fit us (In Japan my feet are size XXXL!!! Otherwise known as size 10 here,) We're going to IKEA to pick up some organizational items. (Helpful in a 500 sq. ft. apartment!) We'll also be stopping by Costco to pick up some maple syrup, peanut butter and M&M's.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quick updates

Two quick items of business:

1. Adam and I have both deactivated our Facebook accounts. We may or may not reactivate them. I'm sorry that this blog has to be the only way I share thoughts and photos, but it will have to do. I hope my friends and family will continue to check in on our Japan adventures here. We hate that it has to be this way, but the internet gives access to anyone and everyone and we don't need everyone keeping tabs on our family.

2. We moved to apartment 303 this our address has changed. Same street address as below, it's just apartment 303 now.

That's it, thanks, love you!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Obon is happening in Japan right now. It lasts from August 13-16. It is a time each year when Japanese citizens, regardless of religious affiliation, honor their ancestors. It is a common misconception that Obon is about kimonos, dancing, music and food. Those things are important aspects of Japanese culture and are usually a part of summer festivals that happen to take place during and around Obon.

My students were willing to share their thoughts with me today about Obon. I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you.

My students said festivities have nothing to do with Obon, really. Obon is a private, sacred time. Many people honor their ancestors by cleaning their graves and putting flowers on their tombstones. That part reminds me of Memorial Day in America. They pray to their ancestors at shrines in their homes. They give thanks to their ancestors for everything. They spend hours doing this, for three straight days.

Being an American, I asked an Americanized questions: so what if during Obon your children are sick, you have money problems or things are not going well with your family? Then would you kneel at your shrine and berate your ancestors? For one second there was silence and then Yoshiaki said something I will never forget,"children sick, not dead."

Then there was a general consensus that you would NEVER complain to your ancestors, that would be ridiculous, you would only give much thanks always.

Do you ever get the feeling that you've missed the point of everything? Today I have that feeling.

Today, I honor the ancestors of my students for teaching them these things so that they would be able to share them with me so sincerely. I honor my ancestors who left homes of comfort to move to the United States, or Utah, or Seattle and provide me with the blessed life I now enjoy. I clean graves and light lanterns in their honor. I believe our ancestors watch over us. I believe we will be together again someday. With some practice, I hope not to waste one more moment complaining, but only giving thanks always.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Japanese Gyoza

This recipe is a new family favorite. Yum!

  • Japanese Gyoza
  • makes 30

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 (10 ounce) package wonton wrappers
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar


  1. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Mix in cabbage, onion, garlic and carrot. Cook and stir until cabbage is limp. Mix in ground pork and egg. Cook until pork is evenly brown and egg is no longer runny.
  2. Preheat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
  3. Place approximately 1 tablespoon of the cabbage and pork mixture in the center of each wrapper. Fold wrappers in half over filling, and seal edges with moistened fingers.
  4. In the preheated vegetable oil, cook gyoza approximately 1 minute per side, until lightly browned. Place water into skillet and reduce heat. Cover and allow gyoza to steam until the water is gone.
  5. In a small bowl, mix soy sauce and rice vinegar. Use the mixture as a dipping sauce for the finished wrappers.

The Temple in Kanonji

There is a Buddhist temple in Kanonji. It sits on the top of a beautiful hill in the midst of lush jungle foliage. You have to hike up roughly 200 steep steps to reach the temple. In 100 degree heat it takes a lot of determination to reach the top. My friend Amy and I had 4 toddlers with us on our hike to the Temple this week. Hiking to a temple makes you think. Making that trek makes you consider spiritual matters. As I hiked and roasted, I thought.

I thought about the service rendered to me by the people decades before who built those great stone steps. I thought about the service rendered to me by my ancestors. I thought about the service rendered to me by friends, family members and complete strangers throughout my life. Then, I thought about the service we can each give or withhold.

After reaching the top my daughters were tired and crying. Instead of yelling at them to hush up, or swatting their bums for being whinny, I held them. I wrapped my sweaty arms around them and they nestled their sweaty heads into my neck. I kissed them and told them how much I love them. I was prepared to give the service that was required.

Today I learned the value of visiting a sacred place.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cookies Even I Wouldn't Eat

Japan is filled with hilarious products. I found these in the cookie aisle today. Hmm. I think I'll stick with Oreos.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


While I was at the beach today I decided to take my hair out of the always present rubber band that I had in it. I had trouble finding a place to put it. It was too small for my wrist and too big for my thumb. So I decided to wrap it around twice on my pinky finger. I was distracted by ring around the rosey and Marco Polo and forgot that it was on my finger. About an hour later I look down and my pinky was purple. I took it off right away and my finger went back to normal in about 30 seconds. The symbolism hit me immediately. What other actions have I carelessly taken that have made me numb?

We do this without thinking all the time.

Watching too much TV making us numb to the needs of our families. (thank you TIVO) ;)
Drinking too much Diet Coke making us numb to how badly we need water.

Sometimes it becomes a way of life:

Working so much that we are numb to what life could be like if we slowed down a little bit.
Living in such a constant cycle of "deficient spending" that we are numb to the fact that all of our discretionary income is going to interest payments.
Reading books non-stop to numb the pain of the dirty house we should be cleaning.

The ironic thing is that we do this unwittingly to ourselves. No one else makes us go numb. Others can exacerbate the numbing process, but it is always our choice.

Just like my finger, the numbness can be temporary or permeant. Had I left that rubber band on I may have lost that finger. I know that's pretty dramatic, but it's true. We have to open our eyes and take the rubber band off. So think about your life. What is making you unhappy? sad? numb? Is it a dream that isn't coming true? Your family? Your work? Your house? Your finances?

You always have a choice. Look at the problems you face or the numbness that exists in your life then figure out a way to take the rubber band off.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fans all over the world

So what with all the Harry Potter movies coming to an end this week I've been thinking about fiction. Generally speaking I'm a non-fiction kinda girl, but I make a few exceptions, namely for authors I know.

There is a series I worked on when I was the Director of Marketing at Cedar Fort called The Jimmy Fincher Saga, written by "one of my authors," James Dashner. James always had talent, there was no question about that. But now, he has a book that is hitting all the big lists. His latest book is called, The Maze Runner. I haven't read it yet but about 39,000 people have positively reviewed it on Amazon. Not too shabby. So imagine my surprise when my new American friend in Japan had a copy on her desk! She had it shipped via Amazon for free, and Amazon lets you pay when they deliver here in Japan so you don't have to pay exchange fees. Sweet.

So this is just a quick shout out to my friend James to congratulate him on being such a big deal; and also a free tip for all you muggles out there that there is still excellent fiction to be had when you're not too busy having wizard's duels and playing quidditch.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Shumway Family Contact Information in Japan

We relish every opportunity we get to keep in touch with our friends and family. Here is how you can stay well connected with us while we are in Japan:

Adam and Lindsey Shumway
APT 501 KANONJI-SHI 7680060

Please keep lettering in uppercase block letters as it makes it easier for the Japanese postal workers.

Linds Cell 0804335318
Adam's Cell 08040350925

We're both on Facebook.

Lindsey's blog:
Adam's blog: COMING SOON!

We both have skype accounts, but Adam is on his often. My account is lindsey.shumway and Adam's is cpt_travian.

Thanks for staying in touch!

P.S. If you have the urge to send us a present American food is always appreciated and scrunchies are high fashion...yep those hair tie backs from the 80's. LOL! So if you have any scrunchies you want to unload, send them my way. They cost like $8/each here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Crane

This beautiful crane lives in a not so beautiful canal near my home in Japan. Everyday I see this bird in all it's majesty living out it's days in filthy muck.
I don't know why he stays here? There is a fabulous shore not 5 minutes from here. I get the feeling the loveliness of this creature is sometimes overlooked by others, but its rare quality is not lost on me. His surrounding make no difference to him or me...all I see is a flawless animal that brings beauty and happiness to me every day. Maybe this bird in all its splendor is somehow here just for me.

Peace and Happiness

Japanese tradition states that wishes of peace and happiness will come to anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes.

The story of Sadako Sasaki, a twelve year old girl who was a mile from Ground Zero when the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb was dropped, tells us she did her best to painstakingly fold as many paper cranes as she could before she died of cancer—brought on by the atomic radiation she encountered that fateful day, August 6, 1945.

Artists Chandler O’Leary and Jessica Spring recently made an incredible letterpress broadside honoring Sasaki’s end-of-life plea for peace, commemorating Memorial Day here in the United States, with an eye (and heart) toward Japan’s recent Earthquake and Tsunami disaster.

Today our eyes and hearts are trained on the far shores of the Pacific, where the people of Japan are still reeling from the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. So for our twelfth Dead Feminist broadside, we remember them by giving wings to the words of our youngest-ever feminist [in their femenist's broadside series], Sadako Sasaki:

"I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world."

An important promise

I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I intend to read the Book of Mormon every day. Sometimes I fail and that is regrettable. Right now I am reading steadfastly every day. Today I was reading Mormon chapter 9 and I came across a promise I did not remember being there. (I have read The Book of Mormon cover to cover at least a dozen times and every time I feel like it's the first time again.) In verse 21 it says, "Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth."

Don't forget. Exercise your faith. If you need help read the rest of Mormon chapter 9.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

After 5 classes I feel like a real English teacher

I've taught five whole classes! I feel like my three year-old when she says, "Look Mom! I did it all by myself." I actually feel like a real live English teacher! My adult classes are so entertaining; and I find I'm learning just as much as I'm teaching. For example; I learned from one of my older male students today, Yoshi, that Yoshi means "good man," in Japanese. I learned that one of my students considers her cat to be more of her best friend than her husband. Ha! I learned that retired folks here are actively concerned about losing their minds, so that is why they are studying English, so as to avoid dementia. Ok then. I learned that the divorce rate is on the rise in Japan and that widowers would prefer to have girlfriends rather than get remarried. Entertaining facts, right? I thought so too.

My class today had ten adults. They range in age from 30 to 70. There were both male and female students. Some were married , some were single. They want to learn English because so they can travel, communicate with American family members, and to stay sane. They each have a sense of humor, which was a great relief to me because I like to joke around. We were talking about adventures in class today. We discussed adventures in the sea, forest, outer space, and in the mountains. I told them all the story of my adventures coming to Japan and a story about my first driving in Japan adventure. When I got to the part where I almost drove into a rice paddy they died laughing, it was great! I asked each member of the class what adventure they would like to go on? One 60-ish year old female class member replied, "I would like to go swimming in Hawaii in a bikini!" We all smiled and laughed and the men in the class made sexy comebacks in Japanese. The class was 90 minutes long and we were laughing our heads off at least 10 times. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun with a group of strangers.

As I was bidding my new students farewell I got two comments I will never forget. One was from Yoshiachiagu, "I can't wait to hear more stories next week." The other was from Hisao, he said, "You are the best English teacher in the whole world," then he bowed very low. Wow. I want to cry about it just sitting here typing. I have no delusions that I am the best English teacher in the whole world, but apparently for Hisao I am, and that makes me feel like I'm exactly where I need to be for now. These students have endeared themselves to me in only 90 minutes, I can hardly wait to see what we talk about next week.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Yakisoba Chicken Recipe

Here is my recipe for the chicken that Mia called, "The Best Noodles Ever."

Serves 4

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons chile paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 onion, sliced lengthwise into eighths
1/2 medium head cabbage, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
8 ounces soba noodles, cooked and drained

In a large skillet combine sesame oil, canola oil and chili paste. Stir fry 30 seconds. Add garlic and stir fry an additional 30 seconds. Add chicken and 1/4 cup of the soy sauce and stir fry until chicken is no longer pink. Remove mixture from pan, set aside and keep warm.

In the emptied pan combine the onion, cabbage and carrots. Stir fry until cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in the remaining soy sauce, cooked noodles and the chicken mixture to pan and mix to blend. Serve and enjoy!