Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Worst Day :(

Recently, my friend Marc e-mailed me. The first line of his e-mail said, "What a nice surprise! How is Japan treating you? Feeling tall???"

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Little does Marc know how true his words were...

Tonight I bought a swimsuit. I had to buy an XL.

It was still a big snug.


Monday, September 24, 2007


I've just heard of a great contest for one and all. An offer that you just shouldn't refuse...

The contest name?


The winner of this contest will receive FREE* room and board within first-class accommodations** in a country of choice.*** The recipient will receive first class dining**** at local luxury restaurants and will also enjoy being shown fine sights***** and local customs and cultures.****** Chauffeured driver included, opportunities for adventure******* available as well. Translation (when possible) upon request.

To enter, simply go quickly to your nearest travel agent, and book a trip to Nagoya, Japan.

It's THAT easy...


* Free if you bring goodies like Twizzlers and Cheerios.
** Comfy futon in 2-bedroom apartment.
** If your choice is Japan.
**** Sushi or Indian, you pick.
***** Mmmmm, Starbucks.
****** Bowing until you have a headache.
******* Choose your own toilet (when available).

Friday, September 21, 2007

New favorite picture

This is my new favorite picture.

Take a walk back in time with me to the story behind it...

It's the first day of school. My little Brynne, an American, walks in the room. The following conversation is verbatum (to the best of my memory)

"You must be Brynne! Hello! I'm Miss F."


"And where in America are you from"



"Mmm hmm."

"Not Ohio, right? Iowa?"

"Mmm hmm."

"OMG. Me too! Seriously? Like proper Iowa?"


Now, walk back to today with me. It's 8:15 and Brynne's mom, the reading specialist at school, is chatting with me about a student. Brynne is coming in the door as well, preparing for the day to start. Brynne's mom says, "Oh, Brynne, come with me! We have a surprise for Miss F."

Brynne walks in two minutes later with the pictured shirt on. She said her friends back home sent it in honor of me.



Sunday, September 16, 2007



Did I hear you say you wanted to hear about me talk about toilets!??

Well, that's kinda gross, but since you requested...

First, this is my toilet.

What's that you ask? Oh, Yes! That IS a faucet on top!

And you noticed there's no knob to turn the faucet on?

Well, silly, that's because when you flush, the water automatically comes up from the tank and through the faucet.

Where's the soap? Well, there isn't a spot for it. Which makes the idea of washing your hands right then and there a bit challenging, doesn't it now?


This is a public toilet.

No, silly, I'm not in the men's room!

This is what the woman's public toilet looks like!

What's that? You want to know how I use it??

AS IF! Ha! If I go to a restroom where there isn't a Western toilet, you better believe that I high-tail it out of there ASAP...

Any more questions?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Nagoya somthing

How cool is this picture?

This weekend I went to the Nagoya something (can't remember the name, can't read the name) to watch some stage performers do a play of sorts.

We got there just as the show was starting, so only got a one sentence explanation of the story beforehand.

It was all in Japanese, and I actually fell asleep (I felt just like Nikki)... but it WAS really cool.

The main performer's husband works at our school, so we got backstage passes, thus the pictures with the pink ladies.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Severe weather...

... in Japan DOESN'T mean snow, ice, rain, etc.

No, no...

It means TYPHOONS!

(cool huh?)

I type this on Thursday afternoon at school. Lunch break. We just recieved word that if the current typhoon, just off the coast of Japan, doesn't change course, it will hit us straight on.

That means there will be no school tomorrow. That means three-day weekend.

Sayonara, kiddies!

(cool, huh?)

So, to fill you in a bit about typhoons, I have created a mini, do-it-yourself lesson on typhoons.


Tracking for Japan:
http://www.jma.go.jp/en/typh/0709.html (to see the track of the typhoon)
http://www.jma.go.jp/en/warn/ (to see the severity of the typhoon in our area (Nagoya is in the middle of the east coast)

Between typhoons and earthquakes (yes, we've already had an earthquake drill this week), this is going to be a fun, fun year!

(woo hoo!)


Nagoya International School is my new place of employment, and during the last few weeks, I've spent a lot of time here.

When I arrived in my classroom, it was FULL of stuff.

Wait... scratch that... It was full of crap. Old text books, old plans, old materials, student work, etc.

The teacher before me loved two things in this world: labels and hot glue. Neither come off of anything without leaving unsightly residue.

I spent the first 5 days just organizing and putting away what I couldn't use (which was just about everything). Then, I spent the next 5 days in meetings and setting up what I wanted.

My classroom library is extensive. There are A LOT of books. Unfortunately, though, the previous teacher loved to put large labels on all of them. Some books have up to two labels on the front and two on the inside cover. I was highly annoyed. First of all, the students don't need to see a label on the front of each book that says the name of the book, guided reading level, publisher, number of pages, and subject. That kind of label (if necessary at all) should go on the back cover, or inside the front. The killer? She DID put those labels on the backside AS WELL AS the front. Wasteful? I reckon! These labels, plus large labels telling the book's genre are placed so that they cover the title, Caldecott medals, author's name, and picture. They generally take away from the pleasing look of the book. My solution has been slow but sure - each day I take bits of wet sponge and place them on the labels of a few books. After the labels are nice and mushy, I easily scrape them off.


But, the room did come with lots of good stuff. Heaps of school supplies, materials, paper, toys, games, posters, etc. That stuff was fun to take ownership of and move around and around.

I also have a teacher's aide (for all my cutting, laminating, copying, busywork needs). She is Shuko.

My teaching partner, Nicholas, despite being Canadian, is lovely. He is very kind and is willing to try new things.

My kiddos are very smart and well-behaved. Very well-behaved, that is, for 14 kids.

I am glad to have a principal as great as my previous one, another gentleman who is happy to let me be a great teacher without a lot of interference. I am trying lots and lots of new reading ideas in my classroom, and have already been asked to be a model teacher for other teachers who want to watch teachers teaching.

I am a bench warmer on the school's teacher volleyball team, which is nothing new. I am also the youngest teacher to another by 6 months, and we, together, are the youngest to anyone else by at least 5 years.

All and all, I like it here.

A lot.


Monday, September 03, 2007


In my kitchen, I have four different trash cans.

The first can, with a red trash bag, is for food waste and small burnable trash.
The second can, with a blue bag, is for small plastic, like food wrappers.
The third can, also with a blue bag, is for large cardboard, like cereal or shoe boxes.
The fourth can, with a green bag, is for non-burnables, such as foam or batteries.

Aluminum cans go in a blue bag as well, but not in the same as the others. For this, I have a separate bag behind the blue trash.

Plastic water bottles also go in a blue bag, but not in the same as the others or the aluminum. For this, I have a separate bag behind the blue trash.

Glass does not go in a bag, and has it's own collection container outside.

Paper cartons (orange juice and milk) are supposed to go to a separate facility a few blocks away, but instead I break mine down and sneak them into the blue bag for large cardboard.


Red bags go out on Monday.
Blue, red, and green bags go out on Thursday.
Glass goes out on Wednesday into a container set aside for it near the trash dump.

When the trash goes out on Thursday, there are four different spots for the four different kinds of blue trash, as well as the red trash and the green trash.

If you don't do it right, the trash police (who can sometimes be found sitting near the trash dump sites) will give you a ticket, as well as a lecture in Japanese.

Since I live alone, the only trash I take out is on Mondays and Thursdays (red) because it stinks.

The fun begins when I go to the Family Mart down the street to buy some take-aways. When I'm done eating, I throw the foam container in the green 'extra' bag, the plastic lid in the blue 'plastics' bag, and the napkin and chopsticks in the red 'burnables' bag, thus making the effort of throwing the trash away enough of a calorie burning exercise to sweat off what I've just eaten...