Thursday, December 31, 2009

Look what I woke up to!!!!

It finally happened!!! I woke up to snow!!

Every morning when I get up, the first thing I do is peek out my curtains so see what the day looks like. Every time for the last few weeks, I've been dreaming of opening my curtains and finding snow falling... and this morning it finally happened!! I woke up, and it was snowing... a lot!!! First it started like this...

then it got better and better....

It hardly ever...(practically never) snows in Hirao but it snowed for at least an hour today!! (and perhaps more before I woke up!) It didn't stick to the ground or anything, but it was enough to make me giddy for the rest of the day! I absolutely loved it! At one point the snowflakes were so big and fluffy and it was what my Mom and I call "shakey-ball snow" :)

Anyway, just thought it was necessary to share my excitement this morning! Happy New Year!! :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas makes me smile :) *new addition at the end!

Obviously because this week was Christmas, I had lots to smile about! Although this Christmas was quite different from any other Christmas I've had, it was a really special one! I have to admit that it didn't quite feel like Christmas without snow :( I got a rainy Christmas, which is something I am not used to at all!

Christmas Eve was a really special night... the candle service was beautiful, and it was wonderful to see so many people come to church... especially the husband of one of the church ladies that said he was never going to come to church again (he stuck to his word for 5 years, but decided to come to the Christmas Eve service for some reason!) I also had a really nice late night walk on a crisp clear night, enjoying some Christmas music and soaking in the wonder of the reason why we celebrate Christmas.

Then Christmas day, I opened the two presents I had under my tree, had a wonderful quiet time, and then I got picked up to go to my teammates house to spend the day with them! We had a delicious brunch, opened some presents, and then played Blitz. Then we all sort of did our own thing mid afternoon (I got to have a nap!) and then we got ready for turkey dinner... which was delicious!! Then we cleaned up, and played another game that involved a lot of laughter (but I forget the name of it).

Today I helped with the two kids' Christmas parties we had and now I'm pretty tuckered out... actually I'll be honest and say I'm "peopled out"! I'm looking forward to a quiet evening at home tonight before another busy day tomorrow!

Anyway, here's my smile list for this week... enjoy!

-watching a 3 year old girl explain the nativity scene to her Dad

-a room filled with candles

-singing Christmas carols in another language

-pictures of Bobby's house in Maryland displaying the aftermath of a great big snow storm :)

-a picture of a message for me written in the snow :)

-snuggling down in my nest of blankets first thing in the morning

-the "Merry Christmas"stickers all over everything in the grocery store... and Christmas isn't even a holiday here!

-a thick layer of frost still on the ground at 8:45 in the morning... no wonder my nose was cold! (and I mean when I was in my house!)

-watching two old men getting ready to pounce on the reduced food as the grocery clerk was putting 1/2 price stickers out...but I will confess I was doing the same thing, just from a further distance! (reminded me of our Sunday Superstore trips, Mom and Dad!)

-my obsession with English muffins and the need I feel to stock up on them while I can!

-a celebratory dinner with Yumi after she finished all of her classes and parties :)

-keeping Yumi awake on the drive home from that dinner... she didn't like me very much! (I turned the music up and down, turned the temperature down as far as it could go, and kept her talking!!)

-singing silent night in Japanese by candle light

-discovering a calpis ice cream bar :)

-a late night Christmas Eve walk

-finding out that my radio station is extending their 24/7 christmas music until Sunday! (I was thinking it was going to be so sad to not have any more Christmas music after Christmas day!)

-playing dutch blitz with some tough competition!

-engagement stories :)

-being such good friends with someone that I can nap on their couch without feeling guilty!

-teddy bears and snuggly slippers :)

-watching a dad carry his sleeping baby to the car ever so carefully :)

-having another successful conversation with my "friend" at the bakery!

-this video I saw on someone's blog...

It made me laugh how she was laughing at herself... but she was pretty funny!

How was your Christmas?? Since you didn't tell me your plans for Christmas Eve, here's your chance to tell me what you did for Christmas!! ;)

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My second favorite day of the year :)

Tomorrow is my second favorite day of the year (after Valentine's Day)... Christmas Eve! Call me crazy, but I think I like Christmas Eve better than Christmas Day! I guess I just love the anticipation of Christmas being the next day. I hate the Christmas is over way faster than most people would like it to be... and when it's over, it's over- life goes back to normal shortly after! :( (My decorations will stay up at least until New Year's though because I like them so much... snowmen and snowflakes can also double as 'winter decorations right?'

I also have a lot of special memories of going to my aunt's house on Christmas Eve with my Mom's side of the family. I don't really remember what we did, but my aunt Chris always had something fun for Lissa and I to do... usually a craft project :) and, she always had amazing food for us! (although sometimes we were her gineau pigs and it wan't always a positive thing!)

We've also always gone to church on Christmas Eve, which I've always loved too! In the years since we left Nova Scotia where all my family is, we've always made Christmas Eve a relaxing day (or evening I guess since usually some or all of us usually have to work) and after coming home from church we eat a ton of appetizers (instead of dinner) and just relax, stay up late, watch Christmas specials on TV and/or play games together :)

Anyway, I just wanted to give a little tribute to Christmas Eve since it's tomorrow!! I'm looking forward to it, although it'll be different than usual for me since I'm in Japan! Tomorrow morning/early afternoon I am hoping to get a few random things done, and then I'm going to help set up for our candle light service in Hikari... We will have a candle light service in the evening, then a potluck after it... then I think I'll probably come home, watch a Christmas movie and go to bed :)

On a side note, my teammates have so graciously opened up their home to me so that I have somewhere to spend Christmas day... we'll have brunch, chill and play games, then have turkey dinner together :)

Also, I've got a few skype dates in there too... obviously Mom and Dad, Bobby and his family, hopefully Lissa, and I'm hoping to catch Mom's side of the family at either their Christmas Eve gathering or their Christmas Day dinner.

I'm doing pretty good as far as not feeling homesick, which is a real blessing! Although I miss my family and Bobby, I think I'll be just fine :) I did afterall, ask God to provide for me to stay here over Christmas and He did just that so I have no right to complain! And besides, I'm thankful that I have a family to miss! Thank you for your prayers :)

I finally got around to making my Christmas card display yesterday... here's what I came up with:

(from a distance)
(the middle)
(the right)
(and the left)
I have to say thanks to Dayna K for the inspiration :) What do you think? and what do you do on Christmas Eve?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Christmas favorite...

The other day I heard this Casting Crowns song on the radio and I remembered how much I love it! (It came out last year I think, but I hadn't heard it again until last week) Again, I feel the need to share it with you! Turn it up really loud... I love the orchestra music- it's powerful and beautiful!

Enjoy! (and let me know what you think after!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Still smiling :)

Although this week started off with more tears than smiles, I'm doing much better now and my smile list is once again pretty long! I'm so thankful for the gift of joy! God has given me so much of it :)
Here's a glimpse of what made me smile this week...

-playing the "newlywed game" with my co-workers... Bobby and I had a slight disadvantage!!

-singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" with everyone at our field Christmas party (each person sang one line)

-making special 'last minute memories' before saying goodbye

-opening a few early Christmas presents

-an old grey haired man with a mullet

-English class Christmas/farewell parties... and getting presents!

-new additions to my Christmas decor :)

-teammates who offer to pick up McDonald's for breakfast for you on the way to a 7:00 team meeting! :)

-teammates who patiently wait for me to get ready after having just woke up when the doorbell rang when they came to get me for this 7:00 prayer meeting! (my alarm was in between the on and the off setting so it didn't go off after I re-set it when it went off the first time!

-lively conversations around the table over an amazing potluck lunch with my students

-a very sweet homemade DVD a friend made for me :) and news that this friend has signed up for Bible study!!!

-divine Skype appointments!

-being in my pj's by 6:30 pm :)

-watching a 3 year old fight falling asleep in the car... and losing!

-seeing a few snowflakes falling :)

-making someones day by giving them cookies

-Dad spontaneously telling me I'm beautiful when he saw me on skype :) (when my hair was 'post-shower' and I had no make up on!)

-recalling Mom's 'self hair cutting story'... note to self Dad: Never leave Mom home alone with scissors!!

-"I didn't do it Paul!" (I know, that's only funny to me and my parents...definitely a family joke!)

-dropping one of my chopsticks on the floor and having the lady next to me tell me that it'll cost me 100yen for another pair! :P

-having the church ladies 'grill' me about how things got started between Bobby and I, asking all sorts of questions like what our first impressions of each other were and we call each other now! They said it was fun to ask me all these questions because their daughters don't talk to them about this kind of thing :)

-a sweet lady in the church paying for my lunch as my Christmas present :)

-finding a surprise present under my tree! (Guess I chose the right people to give my spare key to!)

-knowing that I'm being looked out for while Bobby's gone :) (thanks Aki!)

-unexpected skype dates with a handsome young man in Maryland :)

-faithful smile list bloggers :) (that didn't even need the friendly reminder I was planning to give!!)

-finding out that I made someone smile!

-being told I'm a fun e-mail writer :)

-helping Yumi with her Christmas parties... forcing 7 year olds to speak English is always so fun :P

-eating Pizza Hut pizza and raspberry chocolate chip ice cream for dinner

-helping a friend decorate her house for Christmas

-joking with teammates

and last but certainly not least...
-daily reminders that I'm loved and missed :)

As ususal, I'm sure I've forgotten things and there's also things that I've left out on purpose due to fear of embarrassing someone! Again, I'm thankful that God has given me so much to smile about! He is so good to me :)

What made you smile this week?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

27 years ago today...

God gave me my big sister :) (although I wasn't born yet!)
Happy Birthday Lissa!! I just wanted to let you (and the world!) know how much I love you and how thankful I am that you were born 27 years ago today!

Thanks for being such an amazing big sister! You are a wonderful example to me and I really appreciate how you're always there when I need advice! You are a good role model for me as you are an excellent Godly wife and you desire to please God in all areas of your life.

Even though we weren't the best of friends growing up, I have always had an admiration for you. One of my most vivid childhood memories is standing at the top of the hill that we lived on, watching you walk to school after lunch and waiting until I couldn't see you anymore... then I had to go in and have a nap! I was always sad to see you go because I loved having you around!

As we got older, and we got less and less "cool" for each other, I still admired you. I always wanted to hang out with your friends and I was so excited when you got your license... and your first boyfriend! I remember spying on you! (as I'm sure you do too since I think you caught me once or twice!)

I think that our relationship started changing when we were finally in High School together... you were in Grade 12 and I was in Grade 9. Usually, Grade 12's just looked down on Grade 9's and never associated with them, but you really made an effort to make me and my friends feel welcome in your school. I will always appreciate how you wrote me so many Care Cards just to wish me a good day, and how you let me sit with you and your friends in chapel... sometimes! :P I think we even went on a few "sister dates" didn't we? :)

After High School, I was both excited and really sad when I found out you were getting married and moving out. Even though you were just one block away, I really, really missed you when you moved out! I remember being so sad when I looked at our cup of 3 toothbrushes instead of the usual 4.

But, I think that again, this big change for you brought a change in our relationship... for the better! Not having you around every day made me appreciate you even more and it made us closer at heart. Over the last 7 years we've been through many ups and downs but thankfully, we're still on good terms, and we still love each other like crazy! We've been physically far apart for a good chunk of those 7 years, but you've always been so good at reminding me how much you love me and our visits together have been extra special.

I think we're at the most "fun" stage of our relationship... we have so much to relate to each other about, and it's been a real blessing to have you share the joys (and sorrows) of the last couple of years with me. I feel so blessed to have gotten something that so many people never get... a big sister! There's something special about the relationship between sisters and I wouldn't trade it for the world!

I love you so much Lissa and I'm so proud to be your little sister! I hope your day is extra special... just like you!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

cultural differences... and delightful Christmas presents!

let's face it. some cultural differences are just plain hard to deal with!

Today, I was told by one of my students that he thought I "ate like a horse". hmm what does one say to that?!

We were having a potluck lunch at our farewell/Christmas party today and when everyone was trying to offer me seconds, this kind man offered me a plate of something and was surprised when I turned it down and said I was full... that's when he said he thought I ate like a horse. I'll also mention that in a previous class, he's compared me to a sumo wrestler!

I think this man has a few things to learn about the sensitivity of women and their size!! I'm already really insecure about my size so I have to confess that although this was probably an innocent 'cultural mistake', it really hurt... and it's hard to brush off. I had to deal with this a lot when I was in Africa too, but for some reason it just hurt a little more today. Perhaps lack of sleep is once again effecting my emotions! :P

Anyway, on a happier note... I want to proudly display part of my Christmas present from Bobby because I love it so much! It makes me smile every time I see it!

Isn't it the cutest advent calendar ever?! I love it :) And guess where it's from... the dollar store!! (although it was a little more than a dollar!)

Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of my day! :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

a little lonely...

Today was a rough day... it's the day I've been wishing would never come since September (or maybe sooner).
Bobby left for his furlough this morning. Now we've got 2 months apart. (He's coming to visit me in Winnipeg in February!) We did have some 'down time' this morning before he left (thanks to our amazing teammates!), but it went so fast and before I knew it, we were waving goodbye at the train station.

I had to 'put on a happy face' almost right after we said goodbye because I had an English Christmas/Farewell party to get ready for. I have to say it wasn't easy to pretend to be all fine and dandy, but the party still went well I think. I've been super busy the last 2 weeks (and I'm in the middle of another busy week) and I'm running on very little sleep so that's not really helping the emotions!!

I feel silly for the little pity party I'm having right now because it is only 2 months... in fact I'd probably roll my eyes at someone else who wrote a post like this! But... this is my first serious relationship and now I know what it feels like to be so attached to someone it just hurts to be apart! (like family!) I've gotten so used to having Bobby just 5 minutes away, and now he'll be a whole ocean away. I'm really thankful that we've got skype and e-mail... but this is still hard... harder than I was expecting I think. I know this furlough is necessary, and since his family is going through some rough times right now, I'm really glad that he can be there with them.

I do need to be thankful... I need to be thankful that we're both still alive, and that even though we're reeeeally far apart physically, we'll be thinking about each other often and we'll still be able to let each other know how/what we're doing every day. I'm so blessed to be Bobby's girlfriend and he is so wonderful to me... it's going to take some getting used to things without him here.
After Bobby's visit to Winnipeg, I'll be going to Maryland to see him and meet his family probably at the beginning of April, just before he goes back to Japan... that's when it'll get really hard because we've got such an unknown future after that! I'll be going to Bible school somewhere from September to April...
But... we'll make it just fine! God has brought us together, and He'll continue to guide our paths!

Anyway, sorry for this little pity party... anyone with any long distance relationship experience, please comment and give me some advice! :)
Thankfully I've got special memories like this one to hold on to... Thanks for this fun little picnic, Bobby :) I miss you!

I'm off to make a cup of peppermint tea and snuggle up in my new super soft purple blanket (thanks for feeding my blanket addiction Bobby!)... and maybe study for my Japanese class tomorrow! :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

hello again! Sorry I'm a little late with my smile list this week... I went to Kobe yesterday and didn't get back until 3 am! But, here's what made me smile last week:

-people who talk to me in complete Japanese, thinking that I can understand them... I'm looking forward to the day when I can!

-bowling... and losing terribly!

-discovering another difference between my American teammates and I... they've never heard of 5 pin bowling!

-Masuyuki san's hilarious antics... never a dull moment around! (one example was when he played a bird noise on his iphone and hid it and then looked around the restaurant pretending to look for a bird... what a goof!)

-other peoples' smile lists... and knowing that I was part of what made them smile!

-Josh Groban's Christmas carols :)

-wondering why my flowers were starting to droop and then realizing that I forgot to put water in the vase! DUH! (yes, I actually laughed out loud at myself!)

-warm, cozy sweaters... and getting them for free!!

-new warm fleece pyjamas from Yumi :)

-inheriting a kotatsu from Bobby... I had no idea what I was missing out on!! It is the best invention for winter ever!!

-understanding more and more Japanese!

-grown men drinking out of dainty little tea cups!

-getting dressed up for the Christmas luncheon

-breakfast dates

-attempting to make a little boy smile only to make him cry and cling very tightly to his Mom for the next hour!

-a sweet little baby girl dancing along to Christmas carols :)

-getting an Il Divo Christmas CD from one of my students!

-realizing that I no longer have to lesson plan because I'm done teaching!! (except for my kids' class on Saturdays)

-getting a calendar from my gas company

-getting a letter and Christmas card from my Grammie in the mail :)

-getting a Christmas card from one of my students that was not written in (he wrote his message on a separate paper!)
...hmm I "got" a lot of things this week!

-hearing one of Amy Grant's Christmas songs playing in the grocery store :)

-finally finishing my triple batch of candy cane cookies for my students!! (Remind me never to do that again!!)

-"Friday Night" fun and games :)

-going to Kobe with 2 of my students on a bus tour

-the way that each passenger says "good morning" and "thank you" to everyone else on the bus as they get on and off (at the beginning and end of the trip)

-a lady saying "cake! cake! cake!" while chasing after the hotel staff who was bringing out a tray of cake to add to the buffet

-the way my mouth just automatically gapes open when I sleep!

There ya have it! I'm pretty sure there was lots more from my trip that made me smile, but I didn't write them down :( I have to say that my creativity is running low at the moment since I'm running on very little sleep! It's been a very busy week... with another one coming up too, but I'm still thankful for the many things I've got to smile about.

Just 6 weeks from today, I'll be going to church at Elim again! (if I can get out of bed that morning since I get home the night before!) It's exciting, but also pretty sad all at once. I'm of course looking forward to seeing friends and family again, but there's a lot of unknown's ahead and that's not so enjoyable for me! But, I'm thankful that I have someone to trust to lead my paths. I know He'll make things known to me as necessary so I've got nothing to fear!

I should get going since I've got quite a few little projects to work on tonight! Have a great week!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's my lucky day!

Today I went shopping at a store called Uniqlo with Yumi and I have to say I was pretty excited because it's so much like my favorite store... Old Navy! I found a few sweaters and cozy shirts (I didn't realize how few 'winter clothes' I had until it started getting cold again!) When we got to the check-out, I was given a 'lottery ticket' and guess what... I won!!

I was a little confused about the whole thing... Yumi was SO excited and all the clerks were all telling me congratulations. Yumi said something about winning 'ichi man en' (10,000 yen) but I guess I was a little North American in my thinking because I was expecting to get some kind of coupon for next time... but I actually ended up getting an envelope handed to me with 10,000 yen in it right there on the spot! (10,000 yen is close to $100)

As I was paying, I sort of justified my spending as a Christmas present to myself since I hardly ever go shopping, but in the end, it was Uniqlo's Christmas present to me!! I was pretty excited about getting a free shopping trip... and even some money left over! Now I don't have to feel guilty for spending money! :)

Anyway, here's a picture Yumi felt the need to take of me because she was so excited! I think she was a little jealous because she said she goes there a lot and she has never won or seen anyone else win (to the extent that she thought the contest wasn't "real"!) but she was really excited for me :)

I love shopping :) The end!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

a picture says a thousand words...

Today I got the CD of pictures from my trip to Miyajima with my friends Norkio, Tomoko and Megumi! I'm really excited to post all of them, but there are many, many other things I need to be doing right now so I'll just give you one as a teaser...

(Clicking on it to make it bigger makes it even better!)

I think this is my favorite picture ever!! We had set up the self timer and all of the sudden this dear decided it wanted to be in the picture too! Tomoko was terrified of the deer, Megumi was worried about her camera, I couldn't stop laughing about the timing of this deer walking in front of us, and Noriko just looks as fabulous as she always does!! Nothing like natural pictures! :)

The rest of the pictures are really good and I can't wait to post them... but it'll have to wait!

Have a good week! :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Always time to smile...

Well this week I've got a clever little intro... are you ready for it??

It's been a busy week, but there's always time to smile!! :) (hehehe pretty good, aren't I?)
Seriously though, in the midst of another busy week, I am really thankful that I've had plenty to make me smile! Here's my "Smile list" this week...

-getting the surprise privilege of lighting the first advent candle... and getting applause after!

-little babies with fuzzy hair :)

-Grandma Okamoto telling us she's wearing 5 layers... and then proceeding to show us each one... more than once!

-spraying snow on Yumi's windows and putting "snow" on her tree :) I got the title of "snow girl"... I laughed and said it was quite appropriate for me since I'm from Canada!

-Bob singing an opera version of a Christmas carol while at the top of a ladder!

-finding "bule" lights at the dollar store... and laughing about the spelling mistake with Yumi!

-borrowing a string of Christmas lights from a teammate to make my apartment even more "Christmas-y" :)

-a fancy new toothbrush

-an older couple in my English class telling me they want their 36 year old daughter and 33 year old son to "get out" of their house!

-getting peppermint extract from a teammate so that I can make my favorite Christmas drink... "candy cane hot chocolate" (minus the candy canes!)

-making Bobby's candy cane hot chocolate with so much hot chocolate that he had 'caffeine jitters' after! (hmm what can I say? I like my hot chocolate a little strong!)

-a 'spoken version' of "Joy to the World" (I guess it was funnier because of the tone of voice it was said in so maybe ya had to be there!)

-an 'elf-yourself' video of Bobby and I :)

-still getting excited reactions when people find out Bobby and I are dating!

-meeting a chatty Canadian guy on the train

-getting a cute e-card from my Momma :)

-the lady at the bakery timidly saying "thank you" in English as I left the bakery

-my Thursday night class... During the tea time, we were looking at a map and talking about how North American maps have North America on the left/centre and Asian maps have Asia on the left/centre. One of my students then told us that Australian maps had Australia in the middle and the other continents on the bottom. We all believed him and said "Really??" then he said... "Maybe." We got a good laugh out of that one!

-one of my students showing us all the features of his iphone... including a piano and a drum set that you can play with your fingers. Bobby was trying to tell him about our Christmas party in two weeks and this student proceeded to randomly beat the drums while he was listening to Bobby! I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes... but it's probably another 'you had to be there' moments, isn't it?

-someone in Nunavit incorporating my "smile list" idea on their blog... my list is just as contagious as real smiles! :)

-getting flowers and little presents "just because" :)

-skype dates with my parents... they always make me smile!

-looking at Christmas lights :)

-planning surprises... that actually work out!

-enjoying a cozy house full of Christmas decorations and getting a cute Christmas story read to me :)

-a 7 year old girl playing the 'guessing game' while I quizzed her on the alphabet! (she knows the alphabet... as long as it's in order!) one time she answered "6" when I asked her "What letter is this?"

-making my little students giggle when I put my little pictures of household items in the "wrong room"... I asked them questions like "where's the fridge?" and they would giggle as they answered "It's in the bathroom!"

-making a flower out of mandarin oranges on top of a cake :)

-not having to play the handbells because all the kids came today!

-biking home in the wind... I'm sure I was quite an entertaining sight!

Even though the day's only half over, that's it for this list! I'm going bowling and out for yakiniku with some good friends tonight so I'm sure I'll have lots of additions for next week's list!

Hope you've had a week full of smiles too! Remember how much I love comments and hearing about what makes you smile! Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A favorite Christmas song...

In case you didn't know... I love Downhere!
They have a song that I really like called "How Many Kings" that is on one of their regular albums, but I actually forgot how much I liked it until I started hearing it on the radio station that I listen to that's currently playing all Christmas music now.
I like it so much, I have to share it! Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year :)

I thought I wasn't going to bother decorating my apartment this year since I can't put holes in my wall, but after decorating the church and seeing my teammates' houses, I changed my mind and decided to see what I could do in my house! Here's what I came up with!... (majority of this coming from the dollar store!!)

You Winnipeggers might think I'm crazy, but I really miss snow... especially for Christmas! So here's what I did to make it feel a little more like winter...

One of my teammates had some extra lights and they lent them to me so I used the 'secret-tack-on-top-of-the-door-frame-hanger' trick where I'm technically not putting holes in the wall!
So cozy... I love it! Here's what I did to the sliding doors dividing my living room and my kitchen...

And here's my gem of a Christmas tree that Bobby and I found at the dollar store :)

I just bought the candle today, but this picture I took earlier gives you a better idea of what I did with the ribbon at the bottom...
And the grand finale... here's my mini tree! (This is the only thing I didn't buy at the dollar store) It came with the star, a strand of garland, 5 decorations, 5 ribbons and best of all... 10 lights! Do you know how hard it is to make a tree look nice with only that much?! I bought some extras at the dollar store and I'm glad I did! I even found some tiny battery operated lights to put on it too so it doesn't look too bad... (I got a good laugh last night when I couldn't find the battery pack for one of the strands... guess I 'hid them' in the tree pretty good!!)
And here's what it looks like at night... (but you can't really see the dollar store lights)

So... what do you think of my decorating skills? I think I did pretty good if I do say so myself, considering everything is from the dollar store and I can't hang things on the wall!
When do you decorate for Christmas??

Saturday, November 28, 2009

a happy heart :)

Once again, I'm struggling to come up with a good title and intro to my smile list this week, but I've got nothing! Even though this week has been pretty busy and I've had a lot of late nights and very little sleep, it's still been full of smiles and for that I'm really thankful!

Here's what made me smile this week...

-bundling up inside my house as much as I would bundle up if I was going outside in Winnipeg in the winter!

-skyping the CT gang at their retreat... and getting teased about my "teammate" ;) (Thanks, Devin!)

-going to the "42th Hikari Chorus Festival" (yes, the sign said 42th!)

-shopping for Christmas decorations at the dollar store with my 'dollar store buddy' :)

-vanilla candles from the dollar store that actually smell like vanilla!

-relaxing dinners

-giving flowers :) (I love how faces just seem to naturally light up when someone gets flowers!)

-the "Planet Earth" commentator

-discovering a creative way to display some pictures and cards without putting holes in my wall (wish I had of thought of it sooner!)

-receiving flowers first thing in the morning :)

-decorating for Christmas... with a certain someone who thinks there can never be too many lights on a tree! (but I do have to admit that I agree... and I think the tree looks perfect!)

-getting a hug (without asking for it) on a 'grumpy' day

-the words "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you"... why is it that these words are so difficult to say?! You'd think we would want to say them more because they bring such freedom and relief!

-another thing that's always on my list... Japanese kids!

-front tooth-less smiles :)

-hearing my favorite Amy Grant Christmas album over and over :)

-an American Thanksgiving celebration with my second family... there's just something so special about crowding 14 people around a table and sharing a meal together :) (eating turkey and pumpkin pie made me smile too!)

Our family Thanksgiving dinner (minus Colby who was taking the picture!)

-the simplistic beauty and innocence of an 11 year olds' prayer

-a personal note from my mail carrier letting me know I have a package!

-learning how to make paper cranes... and finally starting to get good at it!

-having a lady tell me my crane looked more like a pelican than a crane! (she didn't know I made it so she apologized after she found out!)

-construction workers who stop traffic for me just so I can cross the road through a construction zone on my bike :)

-an old man laughing and commenting on my grocery basket being "sukunai" (not very full)

-a little healthy competition while playing Spoons

-24/7 Christmas music on my internet radio station :)

-having a 7 year old laugh at how bad I am at handbells!

-a very thoughtful care pacakage from my church in Riverton :)

-Dad telling me what to put on my smile list :P

There you go! You know the drill... tell me what made you smile this week too :) (I like comments!)

Friday, November 27, 2009

what service!

Happy Thanksgiving :) (I think I like this business of celebrating two Thanksgivings!) Tonight we had an amazing turkey dinner and I really enjoyed the fellowship. Unfortunately, Bobby and I had to leave earlier than everyone else because we had a class to teach.

Anyway, I just had to post about this because it made me smile...

Tonight I checked my mail box (I had been gone all day) and I found a very neat hand written note that read as follows:

"Dear Ms. Timmons,
You have a parcel from Canada. However, due to its' size (doesn't go thro' the post) it is being securely held at Hirao post office. Like before, please leave a memo detailing the delivery date and approximate time. I shall try to deliver at your convenience. If not you can call me on ... This is my cell no. Thanks. 11/26 11:06 AM P/S I might drop by this evening)"

Is that service or what?! I did get a similar note a few months ago, but I'm still really impressed! Not only did they leave a note to tell me I have a package, but it's in English!!! This is opposed to they typical Japanese delivery service that leaves an "encrypted"(aka Japanese) generic note about numbers to call and how to arrange a re-delivery (I've gotten a few of these when I received my modem from the phone company)
And... this person gave me their own phone number!! :)

Anyway, I should be making my way to bed instead of blogging, but I hope this post made you smile! This defintely makes the smile list this week!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

life is better with smiles :)

I think I am becoming a blog slacker for some reason... I think it's the combination of being busy, but feeling like I've got nothing 'blog-worthy'! I also feel less guilty knowing that I have my weekly smile lists posts though :)
Speaking of smiles... I was certainly blessed to have another week full of smiles and laughter and these are just a few of the highlights...

-the smell of late Fall/early winter (I think it's the combination of cool air and wood burning)

-clean windows! (actually anything clean makes me smile... why don't I clean more often?!)

-my teammates and co-workers and the endless playful banter between us!

-the entertainment and discussions that come along when you squeeze 7 people into a minivan!

-the anticipation of 24/7 Christmas music starting next week on the internet radio station I listen to :)

-having someone tell you you're pretty on a day when you don't have a speck of make up on!

-a bag of Halloween treats from one of my students (which included two of my favorites... Butterfinger and Nerds...but no Gobstoppers)

-telling the story of "Purple, Green and Yellow" to my students... it's my favorite kids' book! I get so excited when I read it and apparently when tell it too!

-one of my male students singing his favorite song for us in the middle of class :)

-getting to play with a 2 year old boy during the Bible time after my English class... and making him laugh :) My heart couldn't be much happier knowing that I can make kids laugh even when I can only speak 2 or 3 words to them! ...maybe that's why he was laughing! :P

-a certain someone who stepped in and did the dishes when I had a bunch of other tasks on the go :)

-talking about my family's Christmas traditions in my English classes

-a cute little old man on the train that waved goodbye to me as he got off :)

-I think this is probably on my list every week... but I'll add it again this week: flowers :)

-getting a 'congratulations present' from the ladies in my class in Shunan!

-3 way conversations via the comment box on my blog :)

-fresh multigrain bread... it's pretty rare here!

-spending my whole day off with my boyfriend... and other good friends too!

-the Bobby vs Taka banter (teasing each other in a way that only they could get away with!)

-Taka and Aki's little girl, Mika :) she's SO cute! Watching her try to decide if she liked Bobby or not was really entertaining!

-Aki giving up some of her precious candy cane chocolate from the States for me :)

-reminiscing about Elementary/Jr High school days...including the hairstyles and popular music!

-playing handbells with the kids in my Saturday morning class, and having Dorothy say that the kids were better than I was! (I am terribly musically challenged!!)

-Dad falling asleep while talking to me on Skype! :P

Hope your week was full of smiles too... please comment and tell me what made you smile this week!

I'm off to do some language study so until next time... keep on smiling :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

loving life...

Here I go again! This is what made me smile this week :) Enjoy!

-a picnic in the park on a 23 degree day in November!

-watching young families enjoy the beautiful day in the park... and critiquing some crazy outfits and some interesting parents!

-having my door opened for me (I know I've mentioned this one before, but it really does make me smile every time it happens!)

-pictures... I love looking at pictures... of anyone or anything! (but I especially love pictures of people that are precious to me, and breath taking pictures of God's creation)

-correcting one of my students' diary... she was talking about finding a centipede one day and then the next day she wrote "When I woke up, something bit my left hand. I thought that was a revenge of the centipede." Now do you see why I love being an English teacher so much?! My students always have such funny stories to tell me :)

-a sparkling clean bathroom and kitchen sink! (and the fact that I cleaned them at 11pm... I always tease my Mom for doing that because I think it's so funny that she just can't stand to go to bed with a "dirty" bathroom!)

-adventures with Yumi... including a "treasure hunt" for her cell phone!

-playing in the leaves :)

-mountain dew!

-sentimental presents :)

-a co-worker AND my sister reading the title of my blog post as "a falling out with Yumi" instead of "a fall outing with Yumi"!

-chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! need I say more?!

-other people making smile lists :)-telling the student that tried to 'sell Bobby' to me a few weeks ago that we are actually dating... (I was waiting until we told the ladies in the church before I told any of our students) Even though I told her it happened before she was teasing me, I think she still felt pretty proud of herself for coming up with that idea!

-getting told that my hands are beautiful because of my 'cute nails' (French Manicure) and because my skin is as white as a rice cake!... thanks... I think!-cozy rainy days :)-one of my students asking if I was the one who wrote the sentences (in English) in my testimony and then responding with a "wow, they are good!" after I said yes, I wrote them. another one of those "thanks... I think!" moments! Good to know that my English is good! :P

-My Mom calling me Sweetie Pie :)

-Introducing the phrase "terrible two's" to one of my students with a 2 year old! (She loved it and thought that it couldn't be more accurate!)

-getting a Japanese kid to smile at me... usually they just stare!

-freshly washed sheets that smell like my french vanilla dryer sheets :)

-running into my homestay Mom at the train station!

-playing Monopoly Jr with my conversation class... and hearing Pastor Nakamura (whose office is downstairs from us) say that we were very "lively"!

-realizing that my English is slowly becoming more Japanese as I was playing Monopoly... I was saying "chan-su" (chance), "star-to" (start), "ra-ki" (lucky) (I guess that will only make sense if you understand Japanese pronounciation!

-little white and purple daisies on the side of the road :)

-having my Japanese teacher compliment me on the examples I came up with on the spot :) ...yay! I guess I'm learning something after all!

-a random girl literally running up behind me just to say Hello and ask me if I lived in Tabuse and if I was an English teacher... we chatted for a couple minutes, then she disappeared as quickly as she appeared!

-trying a new recipe... and finding a new use for avocado, even though I didn't really like it!

-rekindling my love for mittens :)

-getting a full 8 hours of sleep... and feeling the difference when I woke up!

-going on a road trip with some friends, listening to old school English pop music such as Backstreet Boys and Hanson... (yes, as in "mmm bop" Hanson!)

-a group of elementary school kids giving up their seats for me and my friends on the gondola ride up the mountain :)

-this baby... if this doesn't make you laugh (or at least smile!) there's something wrong with you!

-getting to say Happy Birthday to my Grammie over skype (thanks to my parents holding up the phone to the mic!) and continuing the tradition of calling my Grampie an old fart and him calling me a little fart! :) (yes, our relationship is unique!)

-the facial expressions of a 7 year old girl when the things that I was teaching got a little over her head!

-the fact that both of my students and I were all wearing pink and black today :) (I'm such a nerd that I notice those things!)

-a surprise desktop background picture change when I turned on "my" computer :)

-the fact that my messy house is driving me crazy! (yes, this is unusual!)

So there ya go... I hope this is evidence that I'm doing really well here and loving life! I've got so much to be thankful for! What made YOU smile this week?!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I guess I need to make it clear that no, Yumi and I did not have a falling out.... we had a Fall outing!! :P

I've had two people tell me their brains played tricks on them and they were concerned that something bad had happened between Yumi and I!

So, no worries... Yumi and I are fine! We just had a fun day together :)

Isn't it funny how our brains do that to us sometimes when we read?!

Monday, November 9, 2009

a Fall outing with Yumi :)

Today was a beautiful fall day and I got to enjoy it with my good friend Yumi! We were going to go for lunch at one of her favorite restaurants near the museum/park that I went to a few weeks ago with the student that did my nails, but we got there only to find out they are closed on Mondays (as are many other restaurants in Japan!) We decided to go and enjoy the park first and took some fun pictures and then headed to a different restaurant!

Japanese maple leaves...

This is from when I went to this same park on October 16th with my student...

November 9th in the same spot...

Playing in the leaves... :)

We're so goofy... (this was Yumi's idea by the way!)

Perfect 'self portrait' on the first try!

Poor Yumi... she had her heart set on eating here!!
These last 2 are a little posed... but they are based on a true story! We really did have to drive all the way back to the park and go hunting for Yumi's cell phone because it fell out of her pocket!

I love fall! :) Thanks for the fun adventure, Yumi! and thank you for your beautiful creation, God :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

All I have to say for today....

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God

All powerful, untamable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God

Indescribable, uncontainable,
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God

Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God

Saturday, November 7, 2009

more smiles :)

I think I need to work on my intro's to these lists... I've got nothing today! Here's what made me smile this week... Enjoy!

-a little girl skipping down the isles of the dollar store... she was feeling as much joy in that store as I do! :)

-packing my groceries (on the first try!) so that they fit perfectly in my bike basket

-watching a 3 year old boy and a 5 year old girl trying to console a crying 3 month old baby

-a spontaneous visit from Yumi (when I was in my pj's!)

-getting a gift from Yumi because it made her think of me and Bobby... and getting a bag of Halloween treats from her too :)

-talking to a friend on skype and hearing her story about an encounter with a very attractive 007 man... and the fact that she almost told me the story twice in the same conversation!

-Dayna and her roommate Michelle... and their crutch war video :)

-days off :) (and spending them with special people!)

-the sound of babies laughing

-hearing stories of how couples met and got married... and watching the sparkle in their eyes light up as they remember their early days of dating :)

-little old ladies with purple hair (not intentional I don't think...)

-Pastor Nakamura calling himself my 'backseat driver' after he told several people about Bobby and I!

-watching a hearty 'welcome home' greeting at the train station

-burning my grilled cheese sandwich... just trying to maintain my reputation!

-making people excited when they make it on my smile list :)

-presents from my students!

-the anticipation of opening a new e-mail :)

-cool evenings with cozy pj's, a blanket and a cup of peppermint tea

-a heated toilet seat on a chilly morning! (that borders on too much information doesn't it?!)

-Dad coming on skype and moving in front of the camera saying "Hello, this is your Dad here!"

-my Mom... she's just so cute!

-a video of Lincoln impersonating how puppies drink :) (yes, I'll confess I cheated on my Facebook rehab again!)

-a special visit from Darth Vader on skype :)

-This commercial... I heart Canada :)

-a little old man talking to himself while wandering the isles of the dollar store (uh oh, since this list is in chronological order I guess that means I'm busted that I went to the dollar store twice in one week!)

-the orange sample lady at the grocery store eating her own samples!

Thanks once again, God, for the many smiles you blessed me with this week! Thank you for the beautiful fall weather! You are so good to me! :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

long overdue... but at least I kept my promise!

so... I've finally got some time to post the pictures I have been talking about for about a month now!
These are two of the ladies from the English conversation class I teach at Pastor Nakamura's church... we decided to skip 'class' and we went to a near by island :) These ladies are so funny... they call themselves "Tom and Jerry"

We went out for lunch :)

Don't ask me what any of this is becuase I don't really know...I just eat it! I actually don't really care for traditional Japanese food like this that much...

This is one of my students... the one that did my nails for me... she took me to a cute little restaurant first

This is her salon...

After she did my nails, we went to a local "museum/park" dedicated to the first Prime Minister. These 'models' scared the life out of me when we first came up to the building because I thought they were real people and I wasn't expecting anyone or anything to be in there!

These are two girls in my Saturday English class... aren't they SO cute? The younger girl isn't actually in the class, but she plays the games with us and she's actually really smart!

This is another one of my students, showing me how a 'tea ceremony' is done. (She is a tea ceremony teacher)

These are some pictures of a sunset at "my spot" that I took a few weeks ago... the birds were so entertaining!

These pictures are from some of the sunrises (yes I did say RISE) that I took at our retreat... straight from my window :) My camera is pretty crummy though... Bobby took some pretty amazing ones that maybe he'll post one day...

And here's our group pictures :)
Pretty good looking bunch aren't we??
Anyway, that's all for now... that about catches you up on my latest adventures! Hopefully more to come soon!