Saturday, August 11, 2018

So, we live in Japan now

Hey again loyal readers. Sorry for the 4 year lapse--won't happen again, or at least not soon.

Here are some pics from our first week in Japan. We are almost over jet lag, and excited for our real beds to arrive after our shipment clears customs.

In no order:

1. One thing I notice is mascots. Maybe our ward (like a district of a city) used to have a lot of squirrels? I have seen zero, but that's the mascot anyhow. I took this pic while waiting for our residence registration to get done. Turns out we also get a stipend for the kids. A few hundred bucks per quarter, nice!


2. First dinner out was okonomiyaki. Grill it yourself savory pancakes. Pretty meh, we thought. But fun to go out with new colleagues. Boys are only teacher kids among new staff, so they have been troopers. Bored some but helping out with classroom setup too. Other kids will be around as of next weekend.



3. It's weird how much baseball we have been seeing. The big summer tournament for High School teams is on all the time. Even soda can be named for crappy American teams:


4. This looked cool:

5. Hard to read, but this old dude I saw on a gym tour is sporting an Oregon Project shirt.

6. This name is not a euphemism. Actual marshmallows, I think.


7. These had better be the bomb for $39!


 8. The store called Donki has great costumes, as poo head and squid head discovered.



9. At a random corner downtown, we saw a mini replica of Mannekin Pis. Denis--how about it!?





10. obvi

11. Learned the ropes on subway today. Pretty chill. People here let you get off before they board. Unlike in some countries (cough, cough, China).


12. On a walk near home, several ponds to be enjoyed.


13. Safety Bear.


14. Hill near home makes for a great hike. Gary has been up it 3 times already.
We went Thursday in honor of Ellie B, who loved her some mountains.


15. This morning we powered up at Mister Donut. So good. Sarah caught D with his mouth full in this shot.


16. Hey South America fans--you can get Inka Kola here. so come visit!


17. This pig hosted us well, in so many ways, for lunch today. Tonkotsu!


18. The view from the empty lot next door. Storms are coming, and should be here for a lot of August. Could be a wild drive to IKEA tomorrow.


Bed now. We are happy and healthy and have AC and like our new school so far. One more week of prep and then school for real on Aug 20.

Love, G

Saturday, December 20, 2014

DC part 1

In the second week of April, having waited out winter, we headed north of the Mason-Dixon line. Washington DC is a city that no trip around the USA would be complete without (I would include New York, New Orleans and Chicago on that list too). When I planned this leg of the trip, I had the famous cherry blossoms on my mind. (Funny coincidence, the Cardinals were also in town to play the Nationals). Sarah also had a lucky bit of timing: the MentorCoach conference was in DC the first weekend we were there.

Our hosts were Brad and Marlo, and they took excellent care of us. They live in Silver Spring, which (funny story!!!!!!) is also the ancestral home of our pal Kefira. (OK, not "funny ha-ha.")

DAY ONE: While Sarah conferred, I took the boys to the Tidal Basin. The cherry blossoms were, well, you can see for yourself:

Game faces on

We happened to be there on the blossoms' peak day. In our nation's capitol this is, as we say in the Twitterverse, #KindOfaBigDeal. As my family has heard me say many times, sometimes you get lucky.



We saw lots of people enjoying the beauty, including many who I assume were from Japan. (The cherry trees were a gift from Japan to the US about 100 years ago.) It was crowded, but once again I appreciated how well-prepared for crowds the boys are. Thanks, Shanghai!


While we were downtown, on a gorgeous Friday, I thought we would fit in some more sightseeing. You never know when the rain will hit (more on that in the next DC post). So we walked to the Jefferson Memorial, and read his words inscribed inside the dome.


The boys and I puzzled over a slaveowner writing "…all men are created equal." Desi put the question to the park ranger, who did his best for ten minutes to explain. He earned his pay that day!



From Jefferson we headed to the memorial of another Democrat. Maybe the most famous one of all: FDR. Love him or hate him, you have to admit: his memorial is really BIG.

It is laid out in sections, chronologically. We didn't know that, though, so we came upon the World War Two part and toured it backward. I felt proud that the boys were able to recognize references to the Great Depression. They have been absorbing more than I give them credit for. And they loved the statue of Fala the dog:



EPIC Pano-bomb. Notice my legs, also. Ahhh!!!!


He said "A nude eel." Heh heh

2 cool dudes. I want his hat.

Eleanor's words inspire me every time I jump in a really cold swimming pool: "Do something every day that terrifies you."

They swear FDR whispered "Pull my finger." 

Emmett took cuts

Not far away is the newest addition to the Mall: the MLK Memorial. Just over 50 years ago, he gave the "I Have a Dream" speech not far from this spot. The design is based on a line from the speech: "With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope."

Check out the whoosh-y lines and their "comin' atcha" effect
Lots of well-chosen MLK quotes. And the sculptor is from China. (Which I'm sure came as no surprise to the yay-hoos who thought MLK was a commie.)

Then it was time to head back up to home base in Silver Spring.
Coming soon: DC day 2. Should be posted within a few months haha!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Been super busy

              MEMO

To:        Anyone who has the fortitude to check this blog still
From:    Its wayward author
Re:        What has been going on

A lot.

Went to DC, NYC, Amherst, Boston, New Hampshire, Ontario CANADA, Michigan and several points west on our way back to Portland. Where we now live on as permanent a basis as this family ever does anything.

I have let down my DC friends and uber-hosts Brad and Marlo, among others. Know that I will be posting the whole last 5 weeks of our Road Trip. I would post DC now but Sarah has my laptop with the photos on it--in DC! Brad and Marlo are hosting her while she attends a conference.

Yes, I am married to a DC policy wonk. A power broker.

Anyway, we are loving being home and visiting with friends without feeling like we have to cram a year of fun into 6 weeks of summer.

Check back soon. Or call us! We're normal people again, living in one place, paying the water bill!


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What was next...Williamsburg!

In between visits with friends, we took a step back in time in Colonial Williamsburg, on our way to D.C. We'd been told by way too many people this was a no-misser, especially with our heavy focus on US History tour.  We camped across the water in Chippokes Plantation State Park, which wasn't far as the crow flies, but had this extra step (that added um...some time....) It made the outing feel all the more old timey.


Upon entering Williamsburg (mention you're a teacher! They didn't ask us for ID), Des asks about the kids program...little did we know we were about to become rebels trying to help Ben Franklin enlist French support for the revolution! Williamsburg has the coolest kids program anywhere. The purple scarves you'll see below were to help the fellow revolution supporters know we were on their side.  We had to figure out codes, meet at certain checkpoints and know the secret passwords, and look for hidden signs.  So fun!  But, you'll be glad to know, Mr. Franklin got on the right ship to France.

Emm on guard at the governor's house (home to Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson)

we tried to fit it in the car

learned how to decode a pigpen cipher

Not all things in Colonial Williamsburg were old timey, or maybe this guy forgot his costume and was hustling home for it??
 Williamsburg did a great job of transporting us.  We saw a "runaway slave" being brought to the "general," and learned about the amazing acts of James Armistead.


We also got to tour the jail, where Emm is exhibiting how the old timey toilets worked.  More comfortable than what I had in The Gambia or the Carrefour in Shanghai!
Gary on timeout

We also got to experience some full-on fife and drumming, by local kids.  What a way to walk into battle...
standing at atten-hut!



Then the re-enactors blasted away at nothing in particular. So we could "hear the freedom," Gary supposes.




 When you're walking into Colonial Williamsburg, the sidewalk has a timeline going backward in time. It marks things like "you now live in a place with segregated schools," and "women cannot vote." When you're coming back out toward the modern world, the plaques mark our progress.  Emm was happy to pose with this one:


And of course, we appreciated the little things:


what a day!

Video montage for FL and NC

Here's some videos from last month. Better late than never!

A cool anhinga bird, also known as a snake bird. Watch how it eats!



Okefenokee Swamp tour includes cool flowers. See how they float!




The Durham Bull lights up and breathes smoke after a home team home run. Feel how exciting!


Wool E Bull, the Durham Bulls mascot, drives like a maniac. See how crazy!


The boys cruised around the bases. That photo from the previous post does not do it justice. 
Watch 'em fly! (except near 2nd base. Bit of a logjam.)




And if you need proof that getting great footage isn't easy, check out these Star Wars bloopers!



Monday, May 5, 2014

Ford fun in Chapel Hill

As Gary and the boys load the car, I'll take advantage of the Brookline wifi to catch up on our adventures...we got to spend time with great old and new friends in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, when we visited Jen, Nick, Isabel and Charlie.  Our kids were like Chester and Wilson, Wilson and Chester.  The greatest part of watching the kids together is that they were so interchangeable (as long as siblings were apart).  Emmett and Charlie made this amazing fort in the backyard, for example; Emmett and Isabel also had a great time taking Jen and I shopping.  How Jen and I (and Gary and Nick, for that matter) created children who like shopping for its own sake is beyond me, but I know of extended family members (ahem...Janet?  Katie?) who may have passed on this trait.  
side view of the fort

or was this the side view?

Isabel and I had a great time talking books and in general being silly.  She shared her bow collection with me, and we can safely report Isabel has a bow for every occasion, including her awesome jumprope team, the Bouncing Bulldogs.  We were so happy to have been there for the end of camp performance!  What a cool group to belong to!

Jen is as great a cook as ever, and we lucked into the Ethiopian feast she makes once a month.  I'm sorry I don't have a better pic of this lovely friend!
Four peas in a pod

 We had a great time touring the Duke campus, with its surprisingly tiny basketball court.  That's where all the magic happens?

Duke also had some beautiful botanical gardens, which we somehow managed to avoid taking pictures of.  G made me take the requisite picture; I have avoided pulling over the road for so many things named Bear, that I felt I should give in over this one.

 While Isabel and Emmett shopped, Des and Charlie took their dads to a Durham Bulls game.  Just like his father, Des will take baseball any way he can get it.
boys with bull

they got to run the bases at the end!  Go farm teams!






























Thanks so much, Fords, for a great visit.  We hope it's not our last with you!  Now we must go explore Boston.  When asked if they wanted to learn about pilgrim days, revolutionary days, or abolition, the boys picked abolition.  Can't say no to the learnin...off we go to see where the Underground Railroad took people in Boston!  Love to all y'all...under one month left of this crazy journey!