Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Humble Pie

This past Sunday, Mark and I went to the Misato Children's Home to volunteer time to some children that may not have much but had the spirits of lions.  The children's home had children living there that were only going to be there for a little while and those that unfortunately, unless adopted, would spend their lives there. 

We sent up Christmas trees and stacked presents and even made sure Santa could come say hello, or konnichiwa to the children and show them some Christmas cheer.  Christmas may not be a big deal in Japan but commercially it has caught on.  Their worn out basketball gym was turned in to a place of presents, cookies, and fun for a couple of hours.  There was a spot on the floor that reminded me of a home my aunt used to live.  I was glad that she got to move from that little shack before she went home to stay with her Lord.  I was taken back to when I was 8 and I didn't understand why someone had a hole in their kitchen floor and it wasn't fixed.  The worn spot in the children's gym, from water, or use, would soon become a hole in the floor, and again I could not understand how this could not be fixed.  Thank God I found out that the CE group may have plans for the gym and the children's rooms.  This was just the 1st of many humbling moments for me.  I am very emotionally when it comes to children and this was one of many times I fought back tears.

Mark and my good friend Naomi-San was one of a few translators when brought with us.  She had the kids line up, call their names, and receive pictures with Santa.  Not really sure if Santa spoke Japanese, but smiles translate in to any language I imagine.  After the children received their gifts, some assembly required, lucky for the children the volunteers were engineers, they played for a bit before taking their gifts to their rooms and eating the buffet of sweet treats all lined up and ready for them.  One little boy was so excited and didn't want to leave his toy and he had an accident on the floor.  I was touched at how everyone came together to help the boy and still put his toy together so that when he came back, it was ready for him.  The children played musical chairs, ate, and then the highlight of the day, basketball with the CE group.  The children LOVED playing basketball with all the guys and a couple were really good, scoring points in spite of having a brick wall of a smiling soldier standing at least 6'6" in their way. 

It was time for us to go at 2:30 PM.  Time had come and gone and we found out, no worries, we can schedule visits anytime.  As we all said our arigato gozaimasu's and had our bows and filed out of the gym, the children trickled out to say their good byes as well.  There were bye bye's and even an I love you, thrown in with the Christmas wishes they sent to us.  Now, I have 2 visions in my head I can't get out.  1.  The smiles and the laughter that bellowed out of the gym on that day.  My face had not used all those muscles to smile in so long it hurt.  2. The many Crocs that were worn and the one pair of yellow Crocs that had a hole in the front so that one child's big toe stuck out. 

There are some things that I will never understand and for those things, I simply pray, and thank God for giving me the ability to help, even in small ways.  It is hard for me to see and think about the children around the world that were not wanted, abused, or sent to find a better way of life.  With people wanting to adopt babies, how many children will have the chance to find homes?  What crushes my heart is that even with those like Mark and myself who want to adopt and do adopt, still all children can not be taken from where they are.  I just hope, pray, and have faith that there are more places like the Misato Children's Home where children still remember how to smile.  I hope there is someone that is telling them, if you work hard, no dream is too big.  I pray there is someone telling them, you are worth so much and I hope they believe it.

Merry Christmas from the Scott's.

On a lighter note, we shall see next week if I am off to the States for about 2 weeks, fingers crossed, though bitter-sweet for Mark, he gave me the trip...kind of...if it goes through, I will blog.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

My furisode day and be@rbricks night.

Here she is, my furisode and all it's glory. My kimono truly made me feel like the "Belle of the Ball". I am sure I got looks, but luckily, unless I make myself notice, I have never been one to notice if people are staring or sharing hateful vibes. As soon as I arrived I found another kimono enthusiast. She approached me and we discussed kimono for a while.  I was really happy to have found someone that shared my passion on the island until I received a, "I don't know if you know what you are wearing?"  I quickly told her my side of the furisode story and she replied, "yeah it's okay since you are a foreigner."  Exactly, and all the compliments I received from the locals, be they Okinawan or Japanese, I think I did pretty darn good.  Many of you know I have had a love for this culture as soon as I found out about Japan, I have a love for Korea more, but living in Japan is something Mark and I dreamed of doing together and we are happy God grants us the ability to share the experience with Him, each other, and all of you.  I give credit to a few people for this outfit. First off, Mark for totally going along with all of this and assisting in kimono research and Yoriko-San for saying I should go ahead and get the kimono.  My husband's coworker Naomi-San.  I can NOT say enough about this woman.  She originally was finding out info for me on wear I could borrow other pieces for my kimono with quickly turned in to, "wait, Talya, if you are going to wear this more than once, why don't we find somewhere to buy the rest of your pieces for cheap?"  This quickly turned in to her acting on my behalf with the people I bought my furisode from, World Friend Produce, Kimono Takikawa.  Here is their link with some facts about the different style of kimono. http://www.wfp.co.jp/e1.html .  Naomi-San gave them a budget of $200, she asked me what am I looking to spend and I told her.  In the end it cost me $236, and I am missing some pieces that I will collect.  For the party Naomi even let me borrow the additional pieces I would need.  She also called when we were worried that we hadn't heard from them and she even politely let them know she was upset that they were taking so long and that I need my kimono back and I think 1 day later they said it was ready to be mailed back.  Mark and I quickly wanted to do something for Naomi-San, she did so much for me, she has done so much for Mark as well.  She us no, she does it because when she was in the states, someone did things to help her and now she will do the same.  Part of us wanted to give her something anyways, but 1. we could always pay her back my helping someone else as she has helped us, and 2. No means no!  No does not mean maybe or ask me until I change my mind.  Also, if you get a Japanese person a gift then they will feel they need to get you one in return.  Mark works with amazing people. 

Now let's discuss how it felt to be in this kimono...I was told you have to walk like THIS, not THIS, you have to sit like THIS, you have to move like THIS.  I thought I would need to be careful or looking too American, which I am sure I did anyways.  The kimono wouldn't even allow me to move like an American with my long steps even if I TRIED!.  As I was being wrapped in and cinched together by Mama-San, I could feel my back becoming straight as it should be without me hunching over.  It corrects you posture without you doing a thing other than getting dressed!  Mama-San's daughter joked with us, saying, "It's like a hot dog wrapped in a bun, ne?"  We agreed, but more like if the hot dog was wrapped in a straight jacket.  Mama-San asked if I was okay.  I believe I was.  She dressed me, put my clothes in the box I had my kimono in, got my shoes ready for me to step in as well as put my other shoes away.  She also did my hair before and I was so excited to see my hair is now long enough to go up again!  I paid her, thanked her, and then it was time for Mark to escort me in to the car. BUM BUM BUM.  I read magazine, well looked at magazines and figured what the pictures were saying, so I knew how I would need to get in the car.  Our car is low, but I plopped myself in and had already given myself enough room before I attempted this.  What I was NOT prepared for is that the obi was so tight around my ribs that when I sat down and my body was settling, I couldn't take full breaths!  I started to yawn from lack of oxygen and could only take short yawns so my body made me yawn even more and I soon became light headed.  That also had help from the fact I han't eaten since breakfast.  I had a cheesestick to tie my over till dinner, we stopped by work to show off to Naomi-San and others, and then I had to accomplish my next feet....the bathroom.  I am sure some of you guess who that would go.  You pull it back in layers the best you can and tuck your sleeves or throw them over your shoulder and do you best not to make a mess.  That part was NOT glamourus as all.  You have to put your layers back together as well.  No fear though.  It loosened up as time went on.  They tie it that tight because they know that it will shift on you and in order for it to stay together, you wrapped it up like a corset!  Mark carried my plate so I didn't have to walk with it when it came dinner time, he served me as well as my movement was limited and I was beyond careful even if my kimono is washable.  I was unable to eat a lot and after a while I become tired and so was my body!

What have I learned?  Obviously furisode is not your everyday kimono, but I knew that, you don't even wear it to tea ceremonies.  It is strightly a party thing.  Christmas, New Years, balls, and weddings.  I am not even sure I can wear this one on my birthday.  Make sure I have an escape plan!  If I don't want the night to end, bring a change of clothes because after 6 hours of wearing the furisode, you are done.  Don't plan to eat or drink much.  You don't have room for food and going to the bathroom becomes a necessary evil.  Was it worth it?  You are darn right it was, I can't wait to learn to dress myself and buy more kimono, different ones that can be worn on different occassions.  I saw the cutest kimono and obi with a cat on it!!!  The obsession grows!

I am long winded today, sorry.

BE@RBRICKS!  I have NO clue what these even were or that they were going on sale until I got a message from a friend to look out for them.  I have looked for them, Marked helped me, and they were a topic of discussion in our house for a while now.  During certain seasons, drink companies will put little trinkets with their beverages and Suntory, who has the right to Pepsi products has decided to honor Gundam by having asked the creator of be@rbricks (bearbricks) to make some cellphone straps with bears made to look like Gundams.  Gundam is a popular anime in the states and in Japan that has created shows in the 70s until today.  Mark and I looked and I noticed that in some pictures when they have done these promotions before the Pepsi has not been in the refridgerated section.  So, last time we didn't see them, Mark simply showed the Family Mart clerk the picture, asked about the bears in Japanese and he walked right back to the back room and opened up a case and we had our pick.  We bought the case.  They were sold out on sites that had people preordering them so mark and I thought we hit a jackpot, but alas, I may not buy too many of the cases as it doesn't seem like they will be worth the same as the Devil Wears Prade be@rbrick, but we shall see.

Well, Mark and I are off to volunteer at the orphange and spend some time with some kiddos they may not get much attention.  Luckily Christmas doesn't mean much in Japan so they aren't reminded they have no family in what is our holiday season.  We are really excited to get the honor of volunteering our time to bring some smiles.  I also would like to take some time to honor Toys for Tots.  So many charities that we give money to out there we may or may not see where it goes, but Toys for Tots is not asking for money, simply a toy.  I think some people may shy away saying I can't afford another gift, but I would say, you would be surprised at what little can bring a smile to a child that has nothing.  Mark and I bought the cutest stuffed bear for a little boy or girl on Black Friday to drop in the box.  I heard on the radio and didn't realize, they give presents to teens as well.  13-17 were the group most needed.  I bought a pink purse that I would use myself!  I thank God we could do something like that this years as some know times have been hard and without children of our own it's easier but again, why worried about spending so much money when for some many that have not, it truly is the thought that counts.

Omedetou Christmas from the Scott's
(I now know a Christmas song in Japanese, I may post me singing it.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video Time!

Since I have an up coming Christmas party that I have been waiting for and what I believe is a vacation coming up, I will take this time to post videos that I never have before so you can view Mark's and mine adventures.

Typhoon Chaba on the loose.  I got my experience of being out in a typhoon and I am not quick to do it again!

Ah the aquarium.  I am glad we got year passes.  I hope I can go back soon!  I think Mark enjoyed it as well.

The sights and sounds of the Naha Tug of War that happens once a year with the world's biggest tug of war rope.

Last but NOT LEAST.  My singng debut.  I am NOT shy when it comes to karaoke with friends and I am not under the delusion I can actually sing.  I love having a good time and this was one!  Mark's coworkers and my friends Nate, Sara, Justin, Brandon, and Mari tagged along with us and we had a blast.  As you can tell.
I will be taking plenty of pictures and videos of my Japanese kimono experience.  Keep a look out for it as I will be getting something done that many Japanese do when they need to get extremely dressed up.  Many do not know how to put furisode on themselves.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The everyday times of the Scott Family.

On Thanksgiving weekend, Mark and a coworker/friend of Mark's Schuyler and I went to Churaumi Aquarium in Nago.  It's one of the world's largest because it hosts one of the world's largest fish, the whale shark.  They had 3 of the giant sharks there as well as other features that were nice.  Mark, Schuyler, and I figured we would buy year passes and so we will be going back.  It's a nice escape from Chatan but extremely busy.  Next time we go we may sneak away on a week day so we can be close to the only ones there.  We made a day of it, making sure to watch the whale shark's feeding.  They also have dolphin shows but they are currently out of season as it is cooler here now.  Also on Thanksgiving weekend, we went to see Harry Potter The Deathly Hollows part I and it was amazing!  I loved it to bits and can't believe I have to wait till next year to see part II. 

Speaking of it being cooler, we are now in the winter months, well duh, December is winter, but not for everyone.  This year there are times we can get away with wearing shorts still.  It still gets very warm, though it seems my coworkers are even shocked by this.  As soon as the sun goes down though it is very cool and requires me to wrap up.  If we go out with friends to karaoke it is warm inside and usually involves me spending time trying to figure out what to wear to be comfy both outside and in.  I left all my boots in Tennessee, Ohio, and Wyoming.  So I dropped the ball on that one thinking that 50s would not be cold enough, boy was I wrong.  Wyoming may have got me prepped for the cold, but Tennessee and Okinawa brought me back to humid temperatures and sun filled days.

Our days are not very busy anymore since we made the deadline on closing our house.  We are no longer home owners, which is FANTASTIC, since our house has been on the market since Thanksgiving of last year.  We are glad to see it go and were happy to have such a nice house.  Since we are in Japan though it wouldn't do much good to still have a house in Wyoming.  I start school in January.  I am ready to get back in to it after receiving my associates in May.  I am ready to push on and keep on going.  Not sure if I will work much longer as many know how stressful it has been and I would like to focus solely on my studies, but I also have to do what is best for my family.  I may stick it out as long as I can, but if things keep going the way they are who knows.  There is something to be said about not having good communication and it takes it's toll!

Speaking about school in January, I decided to take advantage of a military spouse program for those wanting a certificate or associates.  I already have an associates so I decided to do the certificate in hopes to add classes to my bachelor's major of Asian studies.  I am ready to be back in the classroom and ready to focus.  I have seen how much I can do when I try, but then again, only math is my WORST subject.  Mark and I are both in school and we really enjoy it.  It's so amazing to see where God has taken us both on our journey together.

My kimono will be paid for today!  I will receive it this week from Tokyo and I am all ready for the full Japanese experience of getting dressed up in one of the dressiest kimono you could wear.  Generally, the furisode, the type of kimono I bought, are for young ladies that just turned 20 and for young ladies to wear until they are married.  Married and almost 30 I got the go ahead from Japanese friends and now I am wearing it to a SPORTS themed Christmas party.  They didn't always have it themed and then decided to change it!  As adults we don't get to dress up much and to think they almost made a dress code for an event I had been planning for since October!!!  They said it was okay to be semi formal, well little do they know it will not be for Talya Scott.  I promise, it is not in my nature to go agaisnst the grain on purpose, but I have always like doing what I want to do.  I think they realized they made a mistake when many went back and said why change the Christmas party at all.  Oh well, we will see how it goes.  We hope to get some friends together for Christmas and make the best of being away from the big family gathering I have grown to love.

I am off to work now.

Sayonara from the Scott's