Friday, August 31, 2007

First Week

I don't know which is the better story for my first week...

1. Wednesday, a baby mouse (which had been eating teachers' food) was caught, put in a gerbil cage, and effectively slipped through the bars to become the terror of the entire K-3 corridor,

2. Yesterday, one of my students went toilet in his pants (oops!),


3. Today, when the aforementioned student walked into the classroom before school and announced to the whole class, 'I'm going toilet now so that I don't go in my pants again!"

I commended him for his attitude and his good humor.

Now, I'm going home to sleep until Sunday...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 1

When it was time for the first day of school, I was ready...

My 14 students walked in. Little do they know that I was as frightened of them as they were of me.

Silly kids...

Here are a few things I learned about second graders today:
Even though they're 8, they still love to sing songs.
Even though they're 8, they love to give hugs.
They can read everything!
They are independent!
They are SO smart!

Photo: 2B - Ai, Alex, Bernardo, Brynne, Haruka, Hikaru, Jubei, June-Q, Keely, Mikaela, Nina, Shizuko, Sho, and Tereza.

I promised to memorize their names by the end of the day, which I did.

It was June-Q's birthday, so they learned the Beatles early.

All in all, it was a good day.

(And no, I haven't turned Japanese since coming - that's my teaching assistant Shuko in the photo...)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Watashi no apato

(My apartment...)

...came with furniture.
 4 rooms. WAY too much space for me.

...came with dishes and pots....
...came with food....
...has appliances whose buttons and instructions are all in Japanese....

is growing on me slowly...

(photos: my (still very plain) living room, (very plain) bedroom, and kitchen)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Easy, Peasy, Japanesey

Hello from Japan!!

After all the stress of thinking about coming to a (really) foreign country, getting here was easy...

The airport? It was a piece of cake!

In fact, before taking off in Detroit, I inferred that the Nagoya airport probably wouldn't be nearly as bad as I thought, considering 1/5 of the passengers were English-speaking Anglos.

I was right. The airport was easy. It was nearly empty, all but my flight. Signs were clearly marked in English, and I even had my temperature checked before I was able to proceed to immigration. Customs was a joke (should have packed more dangerous stuff...), and I was out the door in less than 20 minutes, landing to shuttle.

To be honest, it was the flight that sucked....

In comparison to my last three international flights (on both Air Tahiti and Quantas), this one ranked at the very bottom in regards to service, entertainment, and comfort.

You see, I was expecting, as you would on a 12-hour flight, for some in-flight entertainment in the form of tv screens usually (in my experience and that of others I know, on flights of this length) placed in the back of the seat in front of you. Usually, 20 or so movies are available for you to choose, as well as games, sports, radio, and a flight tracker, showing you where the plane is on a digital map as well as local, arrival, and departure times and temperatures.

Instead, on this flight, there was one tv screen at the front of the cabin, and it was broken. Therefore, through the whole trip, I had no idea how much time had elapsed, was remaining, or our flight path, which, on a 12-hour flight, is good information to keep you sane. The chairs were less than comfortable, and we were not given the usually complimentary packages of earplugs, eye patches, socks, headphones, and wet wipes to make the trip more comfortable.

We chased the sun the whole way, so it was never dark on our trip. For 6 hours of it, the cabin windows remained closed so that people could sleep. I think artificial darkness is creepy.

The flight attendants were far from friendly or apologetic when both my dinner and breakfast choices were unavailable when it was my turn to choose. Needless to say, I left the plane sick and hungry.

My favorite part, thought, turned out to be the self-entertaining game of 'How-long-will-it-take-before-the-flight-attendant-sees-that-my-call-light-is-on-so-I-can-get-a-damn-glass-of-orange-juice?' After about 10 minutes of annoyed waiting, I decided to be equally as annoying and press my call light on and off, over and over again, thus, making it the self-etnertaining game. She wasn't real happy when she came over, but neither was I.

The old man next to me and I were separated by one empty seat, which I had hoped for when I chose my seat earlier in the day. I used this extra space to lay down during the flight, finally falling asleep around hour 9 (I JUST can't sleep on planes). I am a fidgity rester, and I am sure that he was less than thrilled to be seated next to me. I am also sure that he had the bladder of a camel, as I kept trying to wait until he got up to go toilet so that I could as well, which didn't work as he didn't pee during the whole trip (no joke). When I finally DID get to the bathroom, I noticed that I had popped a small blood vessel in my eye. I guess my eyeballs couldn't take the strain of my bladder being that full either.

But, as I flew in over the mountains of Japan, watching the sun setting behind, I knew it would be all ok....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Muy Importante

In familiar fashion, before I go, it'd only be fair to write a few words about the people who made my summer truly great. Unfortunately, I took less than a dozen pictures all summer, so I don't have current photos to go with. If a photo is there, it'll be an old one. But, I'll get working on that...


Ma and Pa

My parents deserve to come first. They are great.

It was so nice to come home to a house with brand-new carpet and an HD, plasma, flat-screen, wall-mounted TV. I don't watch it by myself because I can't be bothered to learn how to use it, but it's still cool.

Al Gore WOULD NOT be glad to know that my parents only use each bathroom towel one time before washing, but since he doesn't read this blog, I think we're ok. Not environmentally-friendly, but ok.

Mi madre has been INCREDIBLE to let me borrow her car this summer. We are taking turns being very flexible and easy when it comes to getting places. It's going very well.

Between the three of us, we work 5 jobs. My dad's new job is top secret. Something about running drugs or something.

It's one great household...



She's my bestest friend.

I actually hate everything about her, but she's still my bestest friend.

(In the world.)

The end.



My auntie is a pretty cool lady. She's kinda like a second mom and a second grandma. She's one of my number one fans, and I hers. Each year, we do this great dinner get-together called Shishka-Sunday at her place, and it's one of the highlights of the summer. She takes care of all of us well, and makes sure we always have what we need. In times of need, she's there to support, whether it be a kind word or a trip to Target.

She's the bee's knees.



Leave it to my silly cuzzie to get knocked up, but, out of her came little baby Corbin, who is the sweetest little baby...

Kel and her husband Justin are great together. They have a cute little house and cute appliances and a cute little garden and a cat and a dog and a baby. This week they asked me to house-sit, which seemed like a good idea until I realized how irresponsible I tend to be sometimes. Note to self - put warning on future housesitting offers...


Grandpa and Grandma Dunaway

Grandpa - My golf partner. How cool is that?

Grandma D. -
Spoils me with the BEST jell-o salad EVER, AND still lets me beat her at Yahtzee!


The Foremans

Grandpa and Grandma on the farm - They're still making the best ice cream and BLTs on the planet!

Dad and Lisa in Indianapolis - They're always welcoming and fun to visit. It's great to see my little brother Sam and sister Sara grow so big and so smart!

Jen and Pete

My oldest Aunt and newest Uncle. Adventureland was a blast, and seeing both of them this summer was too. They were so kind to loan out their basement last year for some of my personal effects (What, me have more stuff than fits at my parent's house? No...). As we grow older, we get closer and closer, which is great. I look forward to spending more and more time with them in the future.



Yay for Tera who is finally getting married! It's about time! Woo hoo! I can say with 100% certainty that she and Zach will truly, truly be happy together...


The Team

(in ABC order): Aimee, Amy, Danielle, Karyn, Melissa, Tamara
This group of girls is too cool for school. I've been involved with them for more than 4 years now. They are the gals that got me started in teaching, and they are still there at the end. To return the favor, I spend days in their classrooms helping set up, or spend time with them and sometimes their kids. In 4 years, the same core 5 of us are still around, with one or two great additions each year. If you count some of the coolest kindergarten teachers on the planet (Brooke, Rutz, Wendy...), you've got a group of teachers that can't be beat. We have a heck of a time together, when we get together, and I count them as six of the greatest friends I have.


Lucas, Jane, Matthew, and Lauren

I love my kiddos! These four are former ones who all took time out of their summers to spend time with Miss F...
**Lauren got me started by offering me a spot in her yard during the Fourth of July parade. It was like having front-row tickets to the big show!
**I spent two nights hanging out with Lucas, once having dinner with his family, and once at a movie with him and his sister.
**Jane and her mom took some time out of their very busy schedule to paint pottery with me. Jane even painted me a popcorn dish to go with all of my others!
**Matthew and his mother were very gracious this summer, taking me out to lunch twice and arranging a 'private' tour of Matthew's school. It was pretty cool.

To all of my 1FO friends who I've seen or have gotten e-mails from (Tate, Macy, Mikey, Meg...) THANKS!

Two truths and a lie...

Oh! Let's have an interactive blog!

Here's the thinking behind my idea...

A couple of weeks ago, as I was daydreaming my arrival in Japan, I was thinking about my first days in Waukee, where, as a new teacher, I had to get up and talk a bit about myself. In professional settings, I've always tried to be a bit discreet, but thought that in Japan, I might let my freak flag fly, and instead, get up in front of everyone and play 'Two truths and a lie' out loud so that people could get to know me that way.

That same week, I tried this game out on my parents. We were at the local theme park having a good time, and I introduced the game to Mom and Garyls, who weren't sure of how to play it. Once they learned the rules, though, we played it all night at the park with my aunt Jen and uncle Pete. We'd just be walking through the park and yell out a statement, to which everyone else had to decide if it was a truth or a lie. We had a blast!

Playing the game with friends and family is a bit tougher, because they know more about you, but playing with strangers is a riot, and is best played with lots of liquor. I have about 40 great statements saved in my head for future use, and I can turn any of them into a lie by switching small details. That way, I don't really have to make up anything absurd about my life, which is a secret to playing the game well.

But now, here's where you all come in...

I'm going to post two truths and a lie about myself. You can all guess which is right and which isn't if you want, but for even more fun, I'd just prefer that you post a comment (and be sure to sign your name in the name box!) for everyone to read that has two truths and a lie about YOU!

Oh! It will be so fun!

Two truths and a lie for me:

1. I actually have three tattoos...
2. I'm secretly a closet High School Musical fan...
3. My favorite food is ravioli in a can...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Not in America...

Like Borat, I love the US and A, but coming back was a bit of a shock. Although the initial 'whoa' has worn off, here are some little things that I'm still noticing about how my life is different now than it was two months ago...

In America, I:

can't give cheek kisses or hugs to people upon greeting. Most of them look shocked and sometimes squirm away (Marc Mattis!). Even my own family, sometimes, but I think they're getting used to it...

can't use abusive and inappropriate language in the workplace.

can't say 'black' when referring to an African-American.

can't wear frocks and leggings and skinny jeans without feeling a bit silly.

can't say 'Whatever, guys, I'm easy' without getting sniggers from people. That's a funny one (that I've come to start saying just to get sniggers from people).

couldn't seem to ever get a free drink and meal with every shift worked at Betts.

can't find a gay person hardly anywhere. Ok, that's only Iowa, actually...