...is an always changing, daily opportunity to learn and grow and adapt (hence my blog name). Life for us has definitely followed this definition lately! At the beginning of October we were informed by the military that my husband was needed in Japan before the end of February... I was 8 months pregnant... and we had 4 children ages 6 and under. While excited, the prospect of having to acquire passports for everyone and the mere idea of having to be ready to move in January was/is a bit daunting. The last time I moved overseas I had to follow my husband by myself later with an 8 week old baby because his passport hadn't come in yet... and I'll tell yah, once I go to our layover in Seattle I was very tempted to have my in-law's pick me up and to call my husband and tell him that I would come only when he came to get me! It was terrible! Not really because of the baby, more just the people and airline etc., it was nightmarish, I was never happier to see Korean soil then when that flight was over! Anyway, thanks to that experience I had this horrible feeling that because of our time frame that I'd be moving not only with an 8 week old but also a 23 month old and 3, 5, and 6 year olds.... SO GRATEFUL THAT WON'T BE THE CASE! (Although, my husband did mention that if it was that while it would be difficult he would be willing to take one for the team and fly to Japan alone :-D).
Anyway, as the calendar screams at an alarming pace towards January I have at least one "AAHHH we're moving!" moment a day. I've grown accustomed to having to expect the unexpected thanks to the military, but this one really caught me off guard. We were given every assurance of being here clear into 2013, so we were planning for the baby, I had a race calendar all planned out for next year, we both had plans to start on our masters, we were planning our garden.... HA! They just wanted me to get cozy :-). In any case, I really do have to care for a 1 month old (as of yesterday), the rest of the kids, and make sure that our house is separated into storage, unaccompanied baggage (the smaller shipment of necessities that gets there faster), our household goods (the everything else stuff that goes on the slow boat and we get whenever it shows up), and to ensure that all the stuff we need stays separate from all that because if not IT WILL GET PACKED. So, I need to pack everyone's bags for about 2 months worth of clothes etc. Good times! Yes, "freak out moments abound here."
The one thing that I thought I had figured out was lifestyle once we got there. I got in contact with another American couple in Japan who attends a Japanese church that we wanted to go to. She was excited to hear of our coming and was encouraging of our patronizing the church. So, case closed, we're good right?! NO! *laugh* She asked me if our children would be attending Japanese school. Well, my husband and I talked about it briefly... he brought it up and I didn't turn down the idea but I certainly wasn't entertaining it either! I figured we could find some extracurricular classes to get the kids into etc. that wouldn't require them to be gone so long everyday.
Anyway, she's in the same situation that I'm in.... a husband that speaks Japanese, kids with squishy brains, and a slow go at learning the language herself (my brain LITERALLY hurts after studying Japanese). When she mentioned that her oldest children are fluent and both read and write in Kanji something in my mind clicked. I knew that our children needed to go to school there... but I still don't like the idea! *laugh* I talked to my kids about it, they're enthusiastic to go, and then I tried to talk them out of it! They'll be in school all day being immersed in Japanese, then come home to Japanese homework and they'll still be home schooled in English reading and writing. They were all still up to the challenge. THAT ONLY LEAVES ME WITH 2, COUNT THEM 2, CHILDREN FOR THE MAJORITY OF EVERYDAY! So not happy about that! I can't stand in the way of a great opportunity for them though. They'll pick up the language and culture in a way that we can't provide for them otherwise. We know we'll be there for at least 3-4 years with the potential of more, so now when their brains are squishiest and able to pick up the language is the best. My husband had offered to have them start when we go back after this assignment when they were older, but that's just not fair of me. They'll have a much easier time now. My husband's been speaking and living in Japan on and off for the last 13 years, has a degree in Asian Studies with a minor in Japanese, and is still learning new things everyday. What a gift that my children won't have to struggle to learn as much. My father-in-law speaks Japanese as well... he told me that he expects the children to come back speaking better than him too :-D.
Because of the way the schools run, my older 3 will be there to start the new school year IN APRIL. Yes, school runs from April to March. BOO! Pretty sure Heavenly Father knew that I needed to know that now instead of when we hit the ground there so that I had time to take it all in. It helps that there's a huge running group on base, all kinds of running events and triathlons between them and the nearby Naval base, and that because of the move I had to push my Master's work until April/May. Boy will I need that distraction then! No wonder my brain couldn't put aside going back to school this last year... I needed everything in place for when my children go to school and I'm with my little guys that both nap during the day. It's weird to be faced with so much quiet when you're use to chaos!
In the meantime we're all on Japanese learning track.... we have a bunch of movies by studio Ghibli (recently they came out with Ponyo which was pretty popular in the US, also Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle) and some other selections that the children watch in Japanese.
We also scour the Hiraganamama website like crazy! I enjoyed her website before, now it's more of a lifeline. She has links to youtube videos that have been helpful, worksheets, and overall information. I love this one, definitely something to check out! She has a New Year's card up on her site.. it's a dragon and she provides how to write a message for the New Year, we'll be working on that today! Your kid would enjoy it too I'm sure!
I also have access to Rosetta Stone and try to login to that regularly. (If you're military you should look into getting access to this for free. The library also has Mango that you can use from home). It does make my brain hurt, but I am picking up on a lot more.
My husband also found several apps in the iTunes store that he uses on the iPod of iPad to help him learn additional Kanji (which I am SO NOT ready for... I'm still trying to master Hiragana and trying not think about learning 2 more alphabets thank you very much!)
We also have a few learning books that Nathan picked up on his last stint in Japan.
Anyway! Life's been exciting here and definitely NOTHING like I thought it would be. Learning to change and be adaptable it good though :-). I know my children are headed for an amazing opportunity and one that Heavenly Father had in store for all of us. I'm resistant to change and really don't care to have someone else dictating my schedule, but perhaps there's the lesson for me in all of this! Who knows. Either way we're off for an even bigger adventure than I had imagined! It's a good thing that the one sailing this ship knows where it's headed because we'd surely be lost otherwise!
I hope your holiday's have been wonderful and that you're able to see the working of God in your life at this time to in whatever it may be that you're doing!
4 hours ago