seven years

Seven years ago today the kids and I arrived in Chiang Mai and began fumbling our way through the ins and outs of living here.  The only thing that is still the same as that day is that we are still pretty much fumbling our way through.

So what are we all up to now?  Chan is 20 and living in America, he’s taking a semester off from college and working.  We’ll see where that leads.  Aly has just started her last semester of high school, she’s applying to colleges and trying to decide just where it is she wants to go.  She’s trying to decide between Japan and the U.S. – that’s a big decision to make at 18.  Sam is now 15.  He’s currently studying for his G.E.D.  We’re still investigating how to make that happen.  He goes to school for Drama and is enjoying that very much.  Michael’s still working for Compassion, that’s who we moved here with 7 years ago.  He still travels a great deal, but maybe it’s slowing down a bit for the time being.  He’s also finishing up his Master’s Degree.  He’s worked hard to keep all those balls in the air and he’s done a great job.  I’m still rehabbing from my hip surgery.  Things are coming along, but it’s slow going.  I’m coaching CrossFit classes and have even been able to do some of the workouts.  That’s progress!  I’m currently working to lose my rehab weight.  Rehab eating was lots of fun, but the pounds I gained aren’t helping my hip.  I’m doing a Whole30. I’m almost half way through my 30 days and am seeing positive results.  If you’re interested I’ve started another blog keeping tabs on what I’m eating and what I’m doing during these 30 days.  I’m not sure if I’ll continue it past the 30 days, but we’ll see.

What does the future hold?  We’re not sure.  We know we’ll be back in the U.S. this summer for a few weeks, but we don’t have any plans to move back.  It’s kind of the same time line we’ve had since we moved here, we just don’t know.

Seven years has passed crazy fast.  We fumble through fewer things, but also find more things to fumble through.  I think that might be a never ending struggle.









yoyogi park

tokyo – day one.  (i’ve done the planning for this vacation with the help of the many people who have taken the time to rate must see attractions in tokyo.)  today we started with yoyogi park.  getting a late start (it was after 12:00 by the time everyone got up and dressed) wasn’t the best for being able to fully enjoy the goings on at yoyogi park, but we still had a great time.

we started our trip out hungry so first order of business was finding lunch.  which meant a walk out of our neighborhood for a little exploring.  right off the bat we came across a picture of tommy lee jones hawking canned coffee.  who knew?

then we found a mirror.


we walked down ninja alley – that’s not an official name, but since we know we are staying in the ninja district michael’s certain this is where they did their ninja stuff.  just like michael.

a restaurant.  where we had to point and pray that the pictures were a good representation for what we ordered.

not one complaint – everyone left happy and full.  right now we’re all in agreement that japanese food rocks.


dr. pepper in japan – what the what??


we tackled the train system next.  i didn’t get any pictures of our struggles doing this.  it wasn’t overly difficult, but the language barrier was noticeable and it took a lot of focus to make sure we got headed the right direction.  but once we got where we were headed we came out of the station to see takeshita street and lots of people – including these gals who seemed to be just hanging out.

and then we got lost.  so we did lots of walking.  and this drove by us – i had no idea what they were but the guys got very excited.  from what i could gather from what the boys were saying is that they’re like life size rock ’em sock ’em robots.  i can see that they could be pretty cool.


chan decided to see if he could help.  he took the map and had a seat – a wet seat.  he was a big help – laughter always lightens the mood.

eventually we found yoyogi park.  where we were greeted by some very friendly folks.  we grabbed a few free hugs and high fives, but they were so fast we didn’t get any pictures.


finally we headed into the park.

it was beautiful.  and cool.  but not too cold.  just right.  there were fish to look at and turtles to watch.

and some not so fancy potties with worrisome signs.

barrels of sake wrapped in straw.  you can read about it if you want.

casks of wine for consecration.

and incredibly we came across the travelocity gnome.

it’s a little known fact that gnomes take all the get-up-and-go out of you.

eventually we did get up and go again.  and – amazingly – we found another mirror.

we finished at the park and headed out for the two other things on my list that we had to do while we were in this part of tokyo.  one was find the hachikō statue.

go us!  and the other was see shibuya crossing.  conveniently, that’s where the hachikō statue is located.

we were all exhausted and hungry so we ate at mcdonald’s.  that was chan’s choice.  he says you’re supposed to try mcdonald’s everywhere you go.  it’s some kind of travel law – or something.  i don’t know what i ordered, but it was pretty good.  everyone else ordered what they would have at any other mcdonald’s and they said it was better than they’d had before.  the only thing i’m certain of is that this extablishment had the best  fancy japan potty i’ve ever experienced at a mcdonald’s.

the button that looks like it plays music doesn’t really.  it plays toilet flushing sounds.  my guess is for discretion.


graduation was last week.  it was an awesome evening and somewhat emotional.  i went to last year’s graduation and thought i was prepared for this year’s.  but i was wrong.  turns out watching other kids graduate doesn’t prepare you for when it’s your own.  that’s probably true for lots of things in life.

it started with the processional.  the board of directors, administration, and faculty came first (which was sort of cool, because i’ve just finished my term on the board so i got to proceed in, too) followed by the graduates.

and then came many things that aren’t unique to graduation.  the welcome, a hymn, scripture reading and invocation, speeches by the valedictorians (there were two), the salutatorian, and the class president.  next up was something that i think is pretty unique to their school – the presentation to parents.  at this point in the program the seniors are asked to stand and come pick up a jasmine lei to present in gratitude to their parents.  i saw this last year, it was emotional then, but also seemed like it might be a bit contrived.  and when i told michael to prepare for it – days before graduation – that was his response.  it would seem scripted and lack any true feeling.

he might have been wrong about that.

then everyone composed themselves and the ceremony continued.  the keynote speaker was next – the graduates chose a faculty member to give this speech.  finally we were to the presentation of the diplomas.

this is a pretty special picture because the board rep handing chan the diploma has since moved back to the states taking with her one of s13’s closest friends.

they call each senior up and announce their plans for the following year.  it’s one more reminder of how spread out this group of kids is going to be in the very near future.  then came the board’s message it was presented by the same wonderful lady who handed out the diplomas.  she had many wise words and much encouragement for the graduates.  including the reminder that their hearts “will always march to a global beat.”  and i really hope that’s true for chan.  and then it was time to wrap it up.  but before the kids could leave there was one last photo op.

this was also a perfect time for one last impromptu singing of the school song.  i don’t know about anyone else, but i sure enjoyed it.

then it was out to the basketball for a community reception.

and something else i was not prepared for.  the gifts – the lovely bouquets, graduate teddy bears, more bouquets, books, and flowers.  these were given by many very generous parents who chan has gotten to know pretty well over the years.

pretty quickly the night was over.  the graduates all headed out to celebrate and the families headed out for dinner.

i know we’re supposed to be moving forward now, but i’m still not ready to do that.  i’m sure i’ll get there – eventually.  it would probably be easier to do if i’d stop looking at that pic of chan and michael.  i cry. everytime.

born this way

tonight was the monologue and song competition for secondary students at the kids’ school.  both boys participated.  s13 performed a monologue and chan was part of a skit directed by one of his friends.  i am so proud of both boys.  the courage and confidence they show is worlds beyond what i had at their age – or even now for that matter.

s13’s monologue

chan’s skit.  or parts of it.  very small parts of it.


today was the cheerio show at school.  this event occurs at the end of every school year – it’s a time to recognise and say goodbye to students and faculty who are leaving.  the biggest group of leaving students are the seniors.  but there are more than a handful of others who are also going.

today, as part of the celebration, the dance classes performed.  a16 is in beginner dance and they busted a groove or two.

IMG_3015 IMG_3017

then the seniors were recognised


class of 2013

i’m sure i’ll have plenty of more formal pictures of this group come graduation night.


and then we got to see the seniors gift to the world – or at least the rest of the school.

the end is nigh

it’s getting to the end of the school year and that means it’s time for everything that needs to get done to get crammed in.

starting with the last band performance of the year.   except it’s not really, because the band plays at graduation and i’m pretty sure that’s the latest you can fit a performance in.

i might not be the best at adding arrows to photos.  that arrow is pointing somewhere in the vicinity of a16.

and senior prom.  i’ve totally stolen pics from chan’s facebook, because i wasn’t invited.


chan and his lovely prom date.


singing something and meaning it

we’ve also had farewell to the leavers at church (it wasn’t actually called that this year, but it has been in the past.  and in an effort to sound cool and worldly – and maybe obnoxious – i’m gonna continue to use it.)


these are the folks graduating from chan’s school srfarewellchurch

telling who he is and where he’s going


apparently there is a correct graduate prayer posture.  i think chan’s almost nailed it.

we’ve still got a busy few weeks ahead of us.  and no need to worry about the lack of s13’s appearance in the blog lately – his time is coming.

can’t ignore it any longer

look what c19 brought home today –Photo-17a pretty snazzy cap and gown.  it’s nothing like the cap and gown i wore when i graduated high school.  mine was made of some kind of flimsy poly/nylon blend  tissue paper, but this one is a heavy-duty-you-would-probably-wear-this-to-receive-your-phd kind of cap and gown.  my first thought when he brought it through the door was, “wow, this is really happening.”  my second thought after i felt it was, “wow, he’s gonna be miserably hot in that thing.”