One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

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!


In Japan people give gifts to each other all the time. Gifts are given when meeting new business partners, gifts from students to teachers, gifts for customers, gifts for all manner of occasions. I have been contemplating this tradition most of the day.

When our new boss found out that the AC in our apartment wasn't working she got an electrician over as quickly as possible, 4 P.M. the next day. It's been 85 degrees with 100% humidity so we were all sweltering, but fine. During this heat wave without AC she sent over a delivery boy with McDonald's meals for Adam, and I and Happy Meals for the children; and then sent me a text, "Lindsey, I am so sorry about the AC. I sent you hamburgers just to make your day a little happier if possible." I was so touched by her gesture. As my sweaty kids wolfed down their hamburgers, fries and juice I actually cried. Who knew a few hamburgers could mean so much?

For no reason whatsoever, Fox and Amy, a couple here who also teaches English brought us a bag of groceries.

Adam worked a pretty late night on Friday, and when I woke up on Saturday I found that he had brought me a diet coke and cookies.

After church on Sunday Fox and Amy had us over for dinner. It was more like a feast than a dinner.

One of Adam's students gave me a handful of wildflowers. I almost cried then too. (Maybe I'm pregnant. ;))

Today Mia was sitting on the couch with Adam playing a game on her IPAD. Adam helped her beat a level and she said, "Dad, you're a genius!" What a simple gift from daughter to Daddy. Her simple endearing comment brought such a smile to all of our faces.

I made Yakisoba for dinner tonight and Mia said, "Mom, these are the best noodles EVER!" Again with the verbal gifts from my baby.

Two lovely Japanese ladies smiled at my daughters in a bakery today. (Where I'm from people mostly grimace and groan at children...who are naturally seen as the world's biggest bother.) These ladies bowed and said Konichiwa in such a sweet way. The way they treated my daughters was a gift.

The exchange rate is increasing in our favor. When we left Seattle it was 79 yen to every $1, now it's 81 1/2 yen to every $. Not huge, but still a gift.

Our house in Utah is rented and we haven't even been here for a week.

As you can see, this list could get very long very fast. It's delightful to me to give and receive gifts; even if all I get is kind treatment from strangers and all I'm giving are the "best noodles EVER." This year is a gift. Each of my friends and family are gifts in my life. And yes, Happy Meals in Japan are AWESOME gifts.

Friday, July 8, 2011

And so the adventure begins...

We arrived in Takamatsu at 9 PM (5 AM PST) and were picked up by the Owner of the GEM Schools, Myuki. Myuki has been living in this area and running this successful chain of English schools for more than 30 years. Her English is way better than most people, but not biggie. We were so tired and the kids were so tired that we could barely hold a conversation anyway. :)

Right off the bat I noticed two things when we finally arrived at our new apartment in Kanonji; first, we had a lot of things ready for us, and second, the place smelled like a 90 year old beach house. At 10 PM after traveling for most of an entire day all you care about is sleep. We were greeted with a twin mattress and a double futon complete with bedding. We went directly to bed. When we woke up we found food in the pantry: flours, sugar, spices, pasta, oil, cookies, peanut butter, etc. There was food in the fridge: bread, milk, cheese, frozen meat and veggies and ice cream! We have a couch, TV, bookcases, dressers, a large fridge and a washing machine. Can you imagine? I have friends who moved to England a few years ago to work for a car rental company. When they arrived they had to live in a hotel for several weeks and then moved into a home with nothing but their clothes. The husband told me, "we didn't even have a blanket for the kids to sleep with." So the reception here could not have been warmer.

On the other hand, the smell. Have you ever been to an old beach house? It's damp, and dank, none of the flooring matches, nor do the walls, and none of the ancient towels match. I need a Home Depot, Costco, and Target! The mildew. Yikes. I had a headache for the first 24 hours just from the smell. I'm now battling that smell somewhat with scented oil. I'm sure I'll get over it.

The GEM School head teacher, Mark and his wife, Stephanie took us for a small tour of the city on foot to show us helpful businesses like the grocery stores and the best place to get a hair cut. The kids were so done within about 5 minutes because it's just so hot. Oh well, the show must go on. At the grocery store we ran into our first large groups of Japanese people. Everyone bows so much around here...I'm really trying, but I always feel like I should smile and say thank you...wrong! I should bow. Crap, I can't be perfect on my first day.

So they have live eels at the grocery store. You have to get a net and fish them out of a salt water bins that also have flounder, snails and other fish. There is so much fish here you would think you were shopping at the Pike's Place fish market. Other than that the store was a lot like a Smith's only everything is smaller. Small shelves, small food, small customers. Everything is smaller except prices. Prices are surprisingly similar to US prices, but most are more expensive. Just to give you an idea. To buy a cold diet coke in a bottle costs about 110 yen. 80 yen = $1. A quart of milk is 208 yen. A bag of carrots is 80 yen. A small plate of sushi is 350 yen. Our hosts pointed out the "Japanese sandwiches," which are seaweed wrapped rice with fish for 150 yen...pass.

All and all we are doing great. We need our AC unit to get fixed, but other than that we don't really have any complaints. The battery in my camera died and I'm not sure where the charger is, so I'll post new pictures as soon as I can. Here are a few from today, when Adam taught his first class. 5 kids met us at the park and played duck, duck, goose with the Shumbabies. It was so fun. My favorite part was when "Daisy" brought me wild flowers she had picked. A present and I'm not even her teacher. It was precious.