Archive for June, 2011

A Beautiful April

In : El Japan, General, Kiddo, Picture Pages, School, Posted by on Jun.06, 2011

In North America, the saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” This is not true in Japan. Our rainy season begins in mid-June, and it is hot and humid. April in Japan is usually still very cold, and this is the time for cherry blossoms. In addition, one of our favorite school events happens in early April, the International Food Day.

Tess and Mommy

International Food Day is when lots of the countries represented at CA come out with their best dishes. The event usually starts with a Parade of Nations. Tess and I walked for Peru with Maximo, and Riley walked the USA. Todd took photos. There are also games for the little kids and music and dance numbers by the CA community. The weather was cold and dreary this year, which made me miss last year when we hung out at the playground.

Here are the pictures from April and the International Food Day.


Last year, we did not get to go to Ohanami because we had a 1:1 workshop at our school. This year we were wary of celebrating because the nation was in mourning due to the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. We talked to several people before deciding to go. We usually head to Sakura Shukugawa which is a neighborhood that has a river running through it, and the cherry blossoms ring the river. The Lemleys got their the earliest and nabbed the perfect spot.  The Japanese participants did not want the black wrought iron fence to block their view, and we wanted it so that our children did not fall off of the cliff into the water below. There was tons of food and the kids had a blast. Luckily, the weather was lovely.

Here are the photos.

Finally, the Elementary School Leadership group ran a Walk-a-Thon to raise money for Tohoku Relief.  Here are the photos from that event.

The girls attend the royal wedding.

And what better way to end the month than with a royal wedding. I was 5 years old when I watched Princess Diana and Prince Charles walk down the aisle. I remember it vividly. The girls, being 4 and 6, were as excited about the royal wedding as I was 30 years ago. Their friend, Zoe, came over for a play date, and they dressed up like princess as well.

A Memorable March

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, School, Travel, Posted by on Jun.06, 2011

I’ve been doing some analysis of our blog since school’s been out, and I definitely see a pattern to our lives, which is undoubtedly run by our school calendar.

Every March we find ourselves counting the days until Spring Break.  This year was no different, well, a little different.

Day 1 @ the ER

March started out with a big bang – I mean fall. I was running down the stairs with Todd to get final approval for an advertisement that Todd and I had been working on together. I ended up falling down the stairs, hitting my eye, my computer went through the wall and fell 2 feet to the ground. Upon further analysis, we’ve come to the conclusion that my boot heel caught the strip of rubber on the stairs designed to keep people from falling, I smacked my eye on something still undetermined, and my computer survived unharmed, while its hard pink plastic case shattered and was not salvageable. I ended up spending the entire day in two different hospitals, with Amy as company. I was deemed healthy and relatively unscathed after an CT scan, two X-rays of my legs, and a tilt test – all done by gorgeous ER doctor.

Here are the photos of the change in the bruise above my eye over the course of a week.

Friday, March 11th, I’d come down with a stomach bug, completely unrelated to the aforementioned fall, and stayed home from school.  I was bummed because I was afraid that I would be sick the whole weekend.  It was just before school let out that I felt really nauseous.  When I stood up, I felt more nauseous. It was then that I heard the tell tale signs of an earthquake – our apartment was making a steady clicking noises as it rocked back and forth. This motion is why Japanese buildings are so resilient to the earthquakes. It is also why people feel seasick in the buildings during an earthquake. It was not super strong in our prefecture, but it was long.  I immediately called Todd who was watching a soccer game at school.  He did not realize that we were having an earthquake, but then the school siren went off. I was on Japan Meteorological Agency, which issued a tsunami warning immediately after the earthquake. All students and teachers also had a tsunami warning and went to the second story of our school, which is a several 100 meters from the coast.  When he went into the school to help, we hung up and that was the last cell coverage for a few days. We could still text, but talking was difficult.

As soon as I found out that the family was ok, I went on NHK live stream in English just as the tsunami was hitting the North. I had just deleted my facebook account the night before because someone had hacked into it, so I took to twitter to recount as much of the actual news coming out of NHK as possible. Tony and Lindsay stayed in Yokohama, and their school canceled classes for two weeks on Sunday night, and on Monday morning they headed south to stay with us. All Shinkansens were back up and running south by that time and were standing room only so they weren’t turning anyone away. Tony and Lindsay were worried about the constant aftershocks, rolling power outages, and lack of public transit. Once they arrived in Kobe, they realized how unaffected our area was. Many places here were reducing power, and instant noodles, bottled water, and ginger ale were no where to be found, but those are insignificant issues compared to what the North was facing.

Since then our school has been doing as much as they can by raising money, creating bags for people in the North filled with things that they would want/need, and some teachers have even ventured up north to lend a helping hand. The area is no where near “normal”, but there have been massive efforts to start the clean up. Here is an article of the recovery efforts by the Boston Globe.


After the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the ever present nuclear situation had everyone on edge. Some of our students left early for Spring Break because their parents’ companies requested it. The uncertainty of the situation was difficult. I had planned already to go to Washington, DC with another teacher and 17 students. There wasn’t any talk of canceling our trip. I really wanted to Todd out of the country as well – not because I thought he was in danger, but listening to the news in Japan for a week was not going to be a relaxing Spring Break. So Jon, Todd, and the kids headed for Bangkok and Cha-Am, which is just a short drive south of Bangkok. They had a great time relaxing by the beach. The kids loved the Kids Club, so the grown ups even got some time to themselves. Here are their photos from the trip.


My trip was fantastic – other than being stuck overnight in San Francisco because we missed our flight by 20 minutes. Our experiences during our DC were amazing, I got to meet Katy’s family and I saw Marilyn again. Patrick and Maggie rocked as our guides and coordinators during the trip. I blogged about each day at my professional blog. Here are my posts of Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, and Day 8.

February in Kobe – Cold and Crazy

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Jun.06, 2011


February in Kobe is usually just known for being very, very cold. This year was no different, except this year there was an extra element of craziness added as Todd put up the musical, Return to the Forbidden Planet. Canadian Academy only does a musical every 3 years. I think this is the policy because of all of the craziness that goes with a musical.  We didn’t see much of Todd that first week in February, but it was all worth it in the end. The girls and I went to the matinee performance, and we all loved it.  It was funny, and the music and singing were both fantastic.

Kirsten on the ski trip

Shortly after the musical wrapped up, I was off for three days with 60 8th graders on their annual ski trip.  This is the first time that I’d been on this trip.  The company was great, and the skiing was fantastic.

Then as soon as I got home, Todd was off to Korea with APAC drama kids.

Serious craziness. Of course there were fun and non-work stuff going on as well.  Here are some general pics from February.

Snowbunny - Tess.

We also were able to get out and about around Kobe during the month.  We took the girls up to the sledding hill on Rokko Mountain. We also went hiking with Jon and Denis, where Tess and Riley carried around big sticks.

Riley loses a tooth!

The most exciting news of the whole month occurred on the final day of February, which was the day that Todd returned from APAC. Riley lost her first tooth!

…and we’re back (in January 2011)

In : El Japan, Kiddo, Picture Pages, Posted by on Jun.06, 2011

That was definitely the longest break from the blog that I’ve ever taken. I have to say that it was mostly due to some very good books that I’ve been reading, but also, I it’s probably more about avoiding touching a computer once I am home.

So to rewind to January, we’d just returned from Yokohama with Tony, Lindsay and Bob. It was a great Christmas, and Riley turned 6! The exciting adventures of January continued on when we went to Nara to watch the burning of the hill.


We get a local magazine here called the Kansai Scene. In this magazine, there are always a ton of cool events that are happening all around our area. However, we rarely get out to them because of the time and distance involved. Now that the girls are getting older, 4 and 6, and we don’t need a stroller, an enormous bag of snacks, nor a diaper bag, we are trying to get out and see more and do more in Japan.

So when a big group of friends decided to head to Nara for the burning of the hill, we decided to join them.  We aren’t sure why they burn the hill, but they do. They also set off some amazing fireworks. The girls were fantastic, but it was COLD. Here are the photos.