Saturday, December 27, 2014

Japan Journal, Week One: Ansel Elgort, Classics, and Russling Jimmies

This is the first week that I wrote journals in Japan, but it's actually about a month after I got there. Bear with me. So, these are journals that I wrote while in Japan. I'm not editing them at all, so that you can read my raw feelings, exactly as I wrote them. If you're going abroad, perhaps they can help you understand what to expect! Or not. They're about 60% what I did in Japan, 40% complete and utter randomness. So, if that's enjoyable, have at them!
I hope you'll enjoy them. I mostly hope future me will enjoy them, but hey if you do, bonus. Also, if you ARE future me, hey bro. I hope you're doing well.
They say that the master artist can make art with any brush. I'm not sure what happened to me, but somehow, even when given a perfectly good brush, I still botch up any kanji I am asked to create in shodoubu. It's a little sad, honestly. The other students effortlessly crack out gorgeous creations, while I am left sitting at my table, painting calligraphy that looks as if it were written by a three year old. Occasionally, one might find in front of me a sheet with three half written kanji, scribbled over with various angry-looking brushstrokes. I'm trying, really. I just have no idea what I'm doing. A girl helped me the other day, and it was so nice! A move in the right direction, for sure.
It's possible that I might die of fatigue.
If I do, I'd like to be lowered into the group by the people with whom I worked on group projects, so that they can let me down one last time.
Also, kissing Ansel Elgort would be nice. Bonus points if he's wearing a baby. Extra bonus points if it's MY baby.
...Certain parts of this play may not be feasible.
I am going to die, because I walked 20.5 miles today. For the most part, I was pretty fine, but once I got about 2 kilos from the school, the "everything hurts" that had started about 20 kilos beforehand REALLY started to kick in, and I remember thinking, "This is how it ends. Right here. I'm going to die right here. Or murder something. Either way."
It was unpleasant, to say the least. But, I made it through! In the end, everything was gorgeous, and it was a really beneficial experience.
Some days, I find the "ZOMG FOREIGNER" mentality that follows me everywhere sweet, charming, and funny. Other times, I'm like, "Ugh, I look horrible and I'm so tired. Maybe we could not right now." But most of the time, it's pretty fabulous.
Favorite moment ever: today, a random senior yelled "hello" to me in the hallway. I responded "konnichi ha," because this is my way of letting people know that I speak Japanese, and that I would prefer for them to speak to me in Japanese. This dude, however, responded back in English, "I'm very handsome." Thanks for that information, bro. I'll keep that in mind.
I love Japan. Love, love, LOVE! But, when I am really tired, and I've been talking all day long, and fathoming things anymore just seems exhausting, it honestly feels exactly like this:
Or this True Jackson VP episode (start the video at 6:00 to enjoy the magic).
I'm recently super into the name Zelda. I also like the name Link a lot, though. One of you is going to have to go, man, I don't want everyone thinking I'm some crazy Legend of Zelda fangirl.
...I have a paper upon which I've written words about which I wanted to write journals. My next word is "Aussies." Just that, nothing else. I'm lost. I mean, I do love me some Aussies. But I have no clue about what I meant to write.
Probably just my undying love for Aussies. I love them forever. Their accents make me swoon. That is all.
  Songs that will remind me of my Japan trip forever:
Tokyo Victory
"One Direction? Why can't they make their hair all go in one direction?" --- An actual phrase once uttered by my mother.
I was adding a picture of One Direction to the PowerPoint I'm making for a school presentation (very professional PowerPoint, I haven't even heard about the YouTube section..I also included lots of information about school and my life, I'm not a monster), and I instantly thought of this. She's not wrong, their hair in in a constant tizzy.
Why don't I say the phrase "rustled my jimmies" more often, a la danisnotonfire? That's a good phrase. My new goal is too work it into conversation. I'm not conversing in English at all right now, though, so I'll probably dramatically fail at this goal. But it was a valiant effort.
Today, the kids who sit around me in Classics class attempted to teach me how to read the story about which we were learning, which was extremely nice and generous of them. Unfortunately, certain small details got in the way, namely:
1. Kanji. This was fixed by the teacher going through the book with me and physically writing in the furikana, because she is the nicest person ever.
2. I read Japanese in my head perfectly fine, and generally, I read it out loud quite well, but good gracious, it was the last period of the day, and for some unknown reason, I was reading as if I'd just been hit by a truck and someone shoved the book in my face and demanded storytime. Which is to say, VERY SLOWLY.
3. What the actual heck, Classics. Like, there are multiple rules about going backwards and reading certain things first, and reading characters out of order...what? I understand it now, because the poor dude who sits next to me deigned to walk me through it, but at first, he was like, "No, when you see that symbol, you skip this character, read the next five, and then go back and read that character." And I was just like, ".....Wait, what? One more time? I DON'T UNDERSTAND." It's because it's a direct translation from Chinese; it's very raw and the characters are still in Chinese order. C'mon.

Luckily, I understand it now. But it was a tiny bit brutal at first.
But, despite these difficulties, the other kids sat with me, helped me read the story, and then explained the story (the Chinese emperor has a horse that he always likes to ride, and a war is raging...the teacher said that this story is sad, so I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the horse probably bites the dust. Or maybe the love interest, who is sexist-ly referred to only as "The Beauty" -- no name. C'mon, Ancient Chinese literature). They are the bomb.  
I have a YouTube blurb written for myself that says "Angry Church Lady." That's when you know that stuff is gonna hit the fan.
It is so cool how easily Japan can lift me out of a funk. The smallest things brighten my day. Thrift shopping, eating something tasty, reading kanji correctly--multiple times a day, I stop and think to myself, "I am so, so lucky."
In America, I absolutely detested going to the mall. All of the stimuli, the fact that I had to buy things and made decisions...blegh. Although I do love me some mall pretzels. But, I digress. The point is, in Japan, I'm basically Robin Sparkles. I love going to the mall here--real life Japanese practice (reading signs, talking with whomever I am with), seeing/buying cute Japanese stuff--love it. Which I guess is pretty predictable, seeing as the only places at which I truly liked to shop in America were Japanese markets.

December 2014: Year Debreif, Tumbler Magic, and the Hating of Literally Everything

It's a journal. I journal now.

So, this is a new project that I'm starting! Basically, I'm planning on posting a journal post like this every month. I really enjoyed writing my journals for Japan and saving memories, and I'd like to save memories from normal every day life for the future, too. I know. All that hard-hitting stuff that you just love to read about. Should be absolutely fascinating. It's probably going to be confusing things that only I understand, and that are baffling/uninteresting to everyone else. C'est la vie!
It's pretty different from the material that I normally run here, so sorry about that. Like I said, it's mostly for me. But if other people are down with it, sweet!
It's generally going to follow this format:
Random quotes, memories, or things that I want to save on my journal
Posts that I found amusing on Tumblr.
That's it.
This month is a lot more retrospective than my journals will normally be, because I did a "Year Debrief" thing and basically wrote anything that popped into my head as something that I wanted to remember. they'll typically be much shorter.
So, without further ado, DECEMBER 2014 JOURNALS:
Dan: Alissa, what time is it?
Alissa: 9:55
Dan: Weird, it feels like 10!
Ben: Why are you even interviewing at that school? Aren't you telling people that you're going to XYZ college?
Me: Yeah, but no one can argue with that, like, there's no question as to whether I'm going to get into XYZ college, so no one can be like, "Stop being so optimistic" and break my mood.
Ben: "K was all up in your business saying that you shouldn't go to XYZ college."
Me: Yes, but I need you to understand that K hates literally everything.
...He was just like, "Yeah, she totally does."
Lyndsay: "Why's this kid taking bathroom selfies with his girlfriend?"
Daniel: "Don't make fun of him, that's his hobby."
I just overheard my mother saying, "Don't tell me we have to watch the Kardashians show now" in a completely incredulous tone.
...What's going on in there..?
Tumblr post to which I relate on a spiritual level:
ohana means family. family means having your life choices questioned and your flaws pointed out to you
Random Lady: How old are you?
Me: 18
Her: You don't look it.
They had a sign up at my parent's church that said "God Bless" on Sunday, and I couldn't stop laughing, because I don't think I've ever hear someone say God Bless earnestly and without a hint of irony. Everyone on Tumblr just ends sentences with "God Bless," it's just understood that that's how we roll, and I love it. Like, "Man, I love Sherlock, God Bless." 
I just cannot take anyone who says "God Bless" unironically seriously.
Ben: "We saw Tate at Wegman's."
Me: "WHAT? I wanna see Tate! Can we go back?"
 Dad: "No way. There is NO WAY that I am going back into that store. If I have to go back there, I'm going to end up pummeling someone's head with a can of Hawaiian Punch."
My Dad is 110% done with holiday shopping, apparently.
Ben: "I'm scared of older white women. I always think they're going to steal my stuff."

That would be a reference to this video.
What's hilarious to me is that Ben has such a sailor's mouth, but only around me and friends who he knows won't judge him. Around my parents he won't say a thing. I heard him talking to my Mom the other day about "That movie 'Kick-Butt'." This child.
Lyndsay about some people that we now:
"What's up with them? Do they all live in a tent or something?"
My family is totally going to be the kind of people who would all live in a tent together.
Wise words that I lifted from Tumblr:
i’m gonna name my firstborn “arial”
and people will be like “oh like the mermaid”
and i’ll say “no like the font”
This song is never going to get out of my head. And I'm all right with that.
Meghan Trainor is freaking adorable.
Thanks God for nerdy internet people. Just in general. What would I do without you all?
So, I went to a Christmas turn up function (just kidding, it was a party with a bunch of very religious people. I was the most scandalous person there), and L just messaged me saying that "After you left the party on Sunday, we were telling stories about Ben

"Like how [soandso] traumatized him when you guys came to play group...When you guys walked in, he went, 'We don't want any babies."
I was like, "What exactly is she trying to suggest here? Is this some kind of sex joke? It sounds like a sex joke. It sounds like an INSESTUAL sex joke."

It wasn't a sex joke. Ben was one when it (supposedly)* happened. I need to get it together/get my mind out of the gutter.

*Did it happen? Lord only knows. Girl tells some stories.
 Lifted from Tumblr:
RIP that text post you thought of in class and then forgot when you got home
There's an entire Wikipaedia page for "Bromantic Comedy."
Oh my gosh. I am dying.
Ben about his camp counselor:
"He was like Troye Sivan on crack."
I think I want to be his best friend.
I'm feeling this song today. Enjoy it in its full glory.
It's after Christmas, which is why I'm no longer listening to Christmas Wrapping 300 times a day.
Maybe I'll listen to it anyways because I'm not about these arbitrary boundaries :P
Just to keep you updated on my music choices (because WHY NOT), I was spontaneously reminded that about this time last year (at some point in the January of my Senior year), when I was completely stressed out and just kind of done with life in general, I became obsessed with this song. I would associate it with a study break/calming myself/convincing myself to keep on going. My brain is weird, and categorizing things is really helpful, so this song was legit, and my go-to for a while. I think I'll always feel relaxed when I hear it, because of that.
These sections are mostly for future me. Feel free to skip. Just a 2014 debrief.
I cannot believe it's almost the end of 2014. This was the year that changed my life (so melodramatic, but it did). I mean, it included what was one of the most stressful periods of my life (basically the entire second half of my Senior year), but during this year, I was able to travel to Japan for the first time, which was the most amazing experience of my entire life, and one of the best decisions I ever made. I honestly have never felt as happy and blissful as I did when I was living in Japan. I can't wait to go back. It was like life was finally the way that I had always wanted it to be. Everything about Japan was so perfect. It's hard to explain WHY it was so perfect--like yes, there was the fulfillment of a lifetime love of Japan/Japanese, but there was something more, a peacefulness/bliss that was in me at all times, the seeing of things that I had always wanted to's hard to explain, but it was absolutely amazing. It constantly took my breath away, and the smallest things astounded me. I was finally able to go to JAPAN this year--it feels surreal to even say that. I am so, so lucky. Speaking Japanese all day just makes me so inexplicably happy <3
I could talk about Japan for hours, but I have my Japan journals to do that for me. Basic points:
*I am so lucky to have gone to Japan this year
*I really, REALLY miss being able to speak Japanese all of the time, now that I am back in America.
*I can't exactly explain why everything was different there for me; I just felt more free, and I honestly felt like everything was perfect. Life was the way that it was meant to be, somehow. I can't wait until I can return, and can feel that feeling again.
Similarly, I graduated high school this year. High school was a bitter cocktail of fond memories and extremely high stress, and while I look back on it fondly for a lot of reasons, it was also very, very satisfying to be finished.
I've really been contemplating the community aspect of high school recently; it's something that I'm not sure if I valued when I had it, but that I now realize was pretty cool. Like, I've been doing college applications for the second time, and I'm missing the support net that I had the first time; the people with whom I could gather and complain about how hard college admissions is, about our dreams for the future, about how nothing was turning out how we had hoped that it would. I'm really missing that community. It's hard to do this on my own without my sounding boards. I especially miss my AP Calculus and AP English classes; the kids in these classes were aiming pretty high, college-wise, and like me, I think some of them ended up disappointed. It kind of sucked, a lot, but we were in it together, and it was really special to come together and be able to share that part of our loves with others who understood it completely. A lot of people like to complain about the crappy people in their high school, or whatever, but honestly, I am so grateful for the kids who were in my class. The whole college admissions/applications/existential crisis thing left me really raw and vulnerable, and it honestly saved me to have other people there who were going through the same thing. We didn't have to feel like we were imposing on people who didn't understand out problems, yet we got the support that we needed. It kind of sucks going through it alone this time, but it has helped me realize how cool that community was.
I also became involved in Nerdfighteria this year! I discovered nerdfighteria last year, however, this year I've become much more involved with the community, both through the videos, and on the Facebook group. The nerdfighters are so welcoming and loving, I feel so lucky to have found a group that is nerdy and cares about making the world a better place. And I've made so many cool friends through nerdfighteria, including one of my besties, Johanna! I am so grateful for her. She helped me a lot while I was traveling abroad; it was amazing to be able to talk to someone who loved Japan as much as I do, and who was dedicated to becoming better at Japanese and taking full advantage of her study abroad. So awesome. It's hard to explain nerdfighteria to someone who doesn't understand it, but somehow, John and Hank's videos have spawned a community of people who are welcoming, loving, and intelligent, and it's a community of which I am so happy to be a part. I also LOVED participating in Project for Awesome this year, both through donating, and through watching the livestream. It has an awesome community feel to it that I totally loved. And watching the Vlogbrothers videos always makes my day. When I felt stressed out this year, whether from school, or especially at the beginning of my trip to Japan, when language was a little overwhelming, it was amazing to have something that I knew would instantly make my day better. Thanks, Vlogbrothers. You guys are awesome. I always learn interesting things from your videos, and the community that you have formed makes my life so much better. DFTBA <3
Speaking of meeting people, those whom I have met through my student exchange are the absolute coolest. I hope I'll maintain connections with them forever <3 It's so cool to meet other foreigners who love Japan as I do. Especially when they can tell me cool things about their countries, as well. That was something that I wasn't expecting to gain in my study abroad but to me, these people are now indispensable.
Also, did I mention that I love internet people? This year, Pond, one of my internet friends from England, was basically the We did cool package exchanges; I did one with the girls, who loved picking things out for Pond and her son Rory, and who were absolutely delighted to get a package of English goodies back! And Pond send me the sweetest Christmas card! And my NatPar friends are the coolest, and have absolutely made my year; Lauren is amazing and is constantly helping me out and encouraging me to be a better nanny/caregiver/person in general (she's the real MVP). I'm so grateful for her, and I feel lucky that she deigns to interact with me XD She had a new squish this year, and he is just adorable (as is the rest of her family!)! I feel so lucky to "know" all of them.
My EDBW homes are also pretty amazing, and always teach me new things about babywearing! This has been a good babywearing year for me, I've learned a lot (a lot of which I have learned from Lauren's book! Check it out, yo. Lauren is all-knowing). I got my first wrap this year, and a galaxy Ergo (which I got from a Japanese thrift store for 16 dollars. I was really freaking excited about this)! Which has made babywearing a lot more accessible to me. I love me some babywearing! It makes nannying/babysitting so much easier, and the kids are happier--it's magic. Thanks to anyone who has helped me become a better babywearer this year--I appreciate you all!
Small moments that made my 2014:
When I was coming back from Japan, I went to stay at T's house for a few days. It was so wonderful--her family was friendly and welcoming, and I was so excited to see them all, as I don't get to be wit them that often. And it was a really nice transition, because: Japanese!
But, my plane arrived early in LA, anf they didn't know that that was going to happen (because I had no phone/phone serive because of the whole "coming back from abroad" thing), which left me randomly sitting on their lawn for a while and waiting until they got home. which was perfectly fine, and actually quite lovely. I had just come back from cold and frosty Nagaoka (snow for days), and sitting out in the 70-degree sunshine was just absolutely magical (maybe I'm making this sound better than it was). Also, keep in mind that I hadn't slept in over 30 hours.To my sleep deprived brain, sitting on someone's lawn seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea. Call someone? Why would I call someone? Pshh.
Basically, the point of all of this madness is that T's neighbors across the street saw me sitting on the lawn and took pity on my poor tired soul. They brought me food (tons of fruit, yogurt, bottled water...I hadn't eaten in a long time, except for the Soyjoy bars that I had eaten on the plane, so this was fabulous), the dude let me use his phone to call T, they invited me to come and sit on their porch ("We have a chair and stuff here," she said, "Please come and hang out."), they let me use their restroom. They asked me questions, they told me about their plans for the day, and were so friendly. They both said that they felt bad leaving me (which was insane, because I was perfectly content lying out on someone's lawn randomly), but they were going to their grandson's water polo match and had to leave. Everything that they did for me was so kind, and they didn't have to do any of it. They went out of their way to help me, and I am so appreciative. I was so tired and out of sorts, and their friendliness made my day so much better. I want to remember their kindness forever.

Adding to the list of amazingly kind things that people did for me that they absolutely did not have to do: recently, I found a wrap on the swap that was within my budget. This legitimately never happens, because I'm an impoverished student, and wraps are really expensive, so I was super excited. I wasn't sure if I should drop the money for it, and was kind of indecisively stalking the post about it all day, but I finally decided to go for it, because I knew how useful it would be for nannying. I was messaging the girl who was selling it and chatting, telling her how glad I was that she had decided to sell her wrap, and how much use I would get out of it. Eventually, she told me she wasn't going to send the link for Paypal. I had never used Paypal before, so I was really confused. I think I responded with, "Wait, do I have to send you a link?" XD She then explained that she, too, was a student (studying to be a NICU nurse! She is a really awesome person), and that she knows what it's like to be paying a lot for your education. She said that her family had been blessed that week, and that she wanted to do something nice for someone else. So, she sent me the wrap for free.
I don't even know what to say. I honestly do not deserve her kindness, or her generosity. It was so, so sweet of her to send this to me! And it's not like I had sent her some sob story about how I couldn't afford it--I had the money ready to send to her if she wanted it. She just....gave it to me.
I will remember her generosity and thoughtfulness forever. Honestly. I know that I will use this wrap thousands of times, with lots of different kiddos. And every time I use it, I will think of her and her kindness.
I'm calling it The Kindness Wrap, because I'm a sentimental nerd like that. To that Mama, if she's reading this, thank you so, so much. I will never forget what you have done for me.

I took the girls to a popular amusement park in this area this year, and it was so much fun. We rode on different rides, we ate good food, we ore matching T shirts that we had handmade ourselves ( Adora got off one ride brimming with excitement: "There was a Chinese girl on that ride, and she asked me where she could buy a shirt like mine!" Yeah, we're that good). It was a good time. But one thing that I remember very clearly is how kind people were to us, all day long. People went out of their ways to do nice things for us--things that they absolutely did not have to do. I wish I had asked for the one girl's name or something--she was awesome. She was running a shoppe which was selling glow in the dark objects, bubbles, hats, ect. She had out a bubble gun that she was shooting, and the girls were chasing the bubbles and having a great time. I was talking to her, complementing her earrings and stuff, because I'm a weirdo like that, but after a while, I told the girls that I needed us to move along; I was feeling thirsty and fatigued, and I was trying to chase down a cup of ice water before we got on any more rides. This girl has a cup of ice water next to her that she had gotten for herself, and when she heard me say "Okay girlfriends, I know you're having fun, but I'm feeling really, really thirsty and I need to find some water before we get on any more rides," she GAVE me her water. She was the I wish I could tell her how much it made my day! That was just one of a dozen times throughout the day that people went out of their way to be kind to us.

Kind people made my 2014. I hope I've been a kind person for others this year, as well.

Less specific things that I enjoyed this year:
Graduating from high school was pretty legit
Field day at A's (cousin's) elementary school was so much fun!
Talking to Bunny on FB! She's always very open, and never thinks that anything that I'm saying is weird/stupid. She's pretty epic.
Cali with my Mom  (absolutely amazing trip <3 )
Reading Mayim's blog
Reading Lauren's blog!
Being with the chikas over the summer.
Hpark, Chocolate World, Fort Hunter, ect, with the chikas! Our trips are always so much fun.
Watching the P4A livestream and participating in P4A!
Going to The Night before Our Stars with my homesizzles.
TFiOS madness, in general.
DC with Kristian!
Finishing AP tests and SATs and NOT having to worry about them anymore.
NOT having to go to ABC college and instead choosing to break the mold and go to Japan, even though it was a little daunting and people were sucky about it.
Ocean City and VA beach! Love me some beach.
Watching YouTube with Alissa when I got home from Japan.
Babywearing S and other cute kiddos! I am loving learning to wrap.
Getting my wrap from Miss Awesome from EDBW. I feel so lucky.
Finding the UUs was pretty cool.
Doing my senior project taught me a lot about myself, judgment, religious school, religion, and life--it was eye opening and possibly life changing. I sometimes griped about the class (the gripe are still accurate, I only learned from the project because I chose to do it as a learning experience, and not a change to crap all over people in a holier than thou manner), but I learned a lot through that project.
Study hall with Montana, Kristian, Ariel, Bacon, and Nick was great. It was generally wild and crazy, and I sometimes resented all of them and their loudness, but for the most part, I really enjoyed being in a small study hall and getting to know those kids better. Best moment was probably Ariel getting a bad tan the day before prom, getting really depressed, and spending all of study hall lying on the floor. And Bacon calling me Kristian (we look nothing alike...?).
Dictator America! She will rule the world, and I will be in charge of her propaganda, apparently, "Because you're good at convincing people that I'm right." And Kristian will ensure that everyone has a cat living at their house.
Okay, I'm remembering things now, and I think I need to have a Montana appreciation post now. Just all Montana quotes. Here goes:
"I want a galaxy cats-themed prom. You know, like, galaxy...and cats."
"Liverpool! That's hilarious. It's like a pool of livers."
"Mexico is exactly like Chinatown, except for everything is in Spanish."
There was also, you know, "I'm going to take over the world and force everyone to quarter cats in their homes," and other such gems.
I can't think of any others. Study hall with Montana was an experience, for sure.
After the AP Calc test, I rode home with K and his Mom, and she was really supportive of my Japan trip! Yay. Good memory.
Apple Pie English! Eating food and discussing literature. Good times.
Happy 2015! May it be filler with love, openness, and learning. And vlogbrothers. Lots of vlogbrothers.
And now, for the part of my journal where I saved things that amused me on Tumblr! We all know that's the best part. So, without further ado:
Thanks, autocorrect.

I <3 Kimchi.

I'm so bitter.

I'm using this GIF every day from now on.

This is lovely.

My new reaction image to everything.
This is just golden. I don't know who made it, but I love them.

Important information.
I loled.

This is lovely.

I have this saved as "Ben Christmas Present." I made him a Skate and Destroy T shirt. He adores it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Hilarious Things Adora and Juno Say

So, I've been trying to write down funny things that Adora and Juno say, so that I can remember them later. This is what I currently have. Enjoy the hilarity:
The best thing Adora has ever heard me say:
"Dude, I put WAAAY too much whipped cream on your smoothie."
Me (brandishing a book): Foodie time!
Juno: "...What are you talking about?"
Me: "Oh, I meant reading time. I'm really hungry."

We all must be super tired, because we collectively laughed at this for a good five minuets.
For some reason, Adora's new favourite joke is to answer "How I Met your Mother!" when I ask what TV show she would like to watch. She has never seen How I Met your Mother, and only knows of it because she has seen the title on Netflix, yet for some reason, she thinks this is hysterical. She says it and then laughs at herself for minuets afterwards. It's kind of deliriously funny.
Juno : "My earballs hurt"
Juno has this huge stuffed bear, and today, she came in the door with it stuffed inside her sweatshirt (belly touching belly) and said, "Look! It's a baby carrier!" So sweet.
Adora: "Being a teenager is awesome. You get to go to the mall all the time, because teenagers love to spend money."
....I didn't even know how to respond to this. I think I said, "I like to spend money on you guys!" Hehe.
Adora: "Don't you have a boyfriend yet?"
Me: "Nope, not yet......I want to wait until I meet the right person."
Adora: "When you fall in love, you can't wait, or they might move away. You have to act. That's how I got with Donny."
Adora is very concerned about my lack of boyfriend. She thinks I'm going to be single for life, so she feels the need to give me advice like this XD It's kind of hilarious. 

DIY Lei with Real Flowers

We made Hawaiian leis out of real flowers (we used Rose of Sharon, and it was perfect), and it was such a fun and easy project! Here's how:
You will need a needle, thread, and about 30 blossoms.
Then, take your flowers individually and poke the needle through the center of each one, threading them onto the string. The pictures explain it better.

Adora's stash

She also added a rose

The long flower chain

 flowers onto the string

The finished product! A gorgeous lei.
Easy peasy. 
This was such an easy and cool project, I definitely recommend it. Especially if you're learning about Hawaii (Or if you want to go there desperately on a vacation but have no money. Or if you just watched Lilo and Stitch. Not that I would allow such things to guide our creative whimsy :p ) I want to put the rest of my pictures up from Hawaii week (and from our weeks and weeks of learning about Japan, and from learning about Germany, and all of our recent sensory adventures), but my camera is loading my pictures onto here veery slowly. So, that will all be up eventually. Stay tuned (who even says that? I do. BRINGING IT BACK, Y'ALL).

In the meantime, subscribe to my YouTube channel (a collaboration with Kristian from Five Paws Studio) to keep up with my adventures in Japan!

Or, jam with Adora and Juno's favourite music here via our summer playlist (we somehow ignore the idea of a playlist by constantly listening to the same three Sara Barellis songs on a loop. You want to hear Fairly Tale? No need to buy the CD [like anyone does that anymore, you loser], I'll just sing it for you, WORD FOR WORD, while narrating exactly what happens in the music video. Now she is Jasmine. Now the director is angry. I can save you pain and money. You're welcome).

I love her, by the way. Sara is amazing. Which is good, because her songs are currently the soundtrack of our lives.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Japanese Immersion Learning: Progress!

Adora, Juno and I went for a fun day with my Grandfather today: a tour of a local historical house, kayaking and swimming in a river, and a freaking amazing trip to a yard sale that was basically straight out of 1985 (it was magical. So many 80's toys, still in their boxes. We scored hard. Rainbow Brite dolls, mini cassette players, this insane cow thing that I can't even begin to explain).

The cow in question. It's kind of magical. It drinks water, and then you can MILK IT. No joke. It was 50 cents. Winning.

But I digress. The best part of the day was when I noticed how much Japanese Adora and Juno have been learning, just through me speaking it to them. I often refer to my Grandfather as Ojiisan, the Japanese word for Grandpa, and they both referred to him in that way throughout the day. It was adorable. For example, I asked Adora whether she had enjoyed her lunch, and she responded, "Yes! Ojiisan knows how to make kids happy." And all day long, they called him Ojiisan. It just made my heart happy to see them speaking Japanese.
     They have also begun to respond to things I say to them in Japanese (phrases which I say frequently, and which they have begun to understand), which is cool. For example, I say "Ki o tsukete kudasai" (please be careful!) a lot (probably more than I should XD Sometimes I am overly nervous). I said it to Juno the other day, and she said back, "Of course I will be careful!!" Yay! Immersion success. I am so excited to see their language skills progressing in this way.
     I enjoyed a sweet day with these sweet kiddos today, and noticing their language skills was the icing on the cake.
Do you do language immersion with your children at all? Tell me some cute stories in the comments!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
I am an AP nanny, and part of the fun of my job is planning cool activities to do with my kiddos. We love learning about different countries through activities and books; celebrating their holidays, learning their languages, and so on. Although I would love to take the kiddos to each and every one of these places, I simply don't have the resources to do so; doing projects from home allows us to experience the cultures of many places, even though we cannot journey to them. Last week, per the girls' request, we learned about "Ancient Rome," with Roman-themed food, activities, and stories. This post is basically a giant photo dump with accompanying descriptions, explaining the activities that we did. We adored learning about Roman culture and society, and doing it in a hands-on manner made it more accessible for the kids. I hope that these ideas will help you--maybe they will inspire you to try a Roman week with your kids, as well! 
 For some reason, the girls are super entertained by these flattened marbles. I'm thinking about adding them to our sensory table next. They are super cheap and tons of fun.
 First project! We made wax tablets with old milk cartons and natural clay (which can be found in almost any creek or river). These were fun to make, and super simple. The girls enjoyed drawing with them and pretending they were Lupus from the Roman Mysteries. We also had styluses so that they could draw in the clay without getting it all over their fingers (we are sissies); I recommend chopsticks or knitting needles for this (you can get chopsticks for $1.00 at Daiso), but, because I am poor and there is no Daiso near my house, I didn't follow my own advice. Juno is using four or five plastic knives bound together by a rubber band. Adora is using a plastic stick that I found in my house. Do as I say, not as I do, hehe. 
 Because we're happy!
 Adora's toga (and her wax tablet and stylus). She chose that colour--I think it's great.
 That ethereal blue thing is Juno's toga (sorry that the photo isn't great). The togas are just scarfs, pinned on with a safety pin. If you have a baby wrap, that would work perfectly as a super cute toga. If not, simple scarves are great. We used really thin ones, because it was HOT!
We also made "frescos" (paint on wet clay--we discussed how real frescoes were done on wet plaster, so that when the plaster and paint dried together, the paint would become waterproof). This is Adora's. They dried really well and were quite cute.
 Juno's fresco. The natural clay, by the way, turned out to be insanely useful. I trekked down to a creek and brought home a huge bucket, and I think we used it on every single "Rome" day. It is so useful, and it's free! Awesomesauce stuff.
Next up, Roman crowns! This is Juno's Roman crown (a laurel wreath, of sorts. Wire and foam flower stickers). These are super easy to make, and are fairly durable; I formed the crown base by weaving the wire into a ring. Then, the girls stuck the stickers that they chose onto paper and cut them out (this way, the sticky back cannot become tangled in their hair). And lastly, I hot glued the flowers onto the crown. Instant, easy Roman crown!
 Adora's crown. She was very particular about the colours she chose. I think it turned out fabulously!
 We also made Roman coins out of the natural clay. We loove natural clay (have I expressed that clearly enough? We seriously love it)! Juno decided to form them, and Adora elected to decorate with flattened marbles, seashells, and rhinestones (team work makes the dream work). We left them out to dry in the sun, and they turned out beautifully.
 Adora decorating the coins. She came up with all of the decorations herself; it was really cool to see her brain working in this way. The different sized holes, in addition to the gemstones and seashells, signify different money values. The bigger the hole, the more the coin is worth. I'm not 100% sure of the significance behind the gemstones, but hey, sparkles rock.


 MESSY HANDS! To me, this represents a job well done.
 Sparkly coins, waiting to dry in the sun.
 We also made out own sandals (I wish I had more pictures of these, because they were pretty cool, but Juno was having a bit of a crisis with which I was attempting to compassionately deal, so the picture taking kind of got thrown to the wayside. Adora actually took this of her own feet, hehe. Thanks, Adora!). This was a really fun and easy project. I thought I would put simple instructions here, because this project is a TINY bit less user friendly than the others. 
You will need:
Bungee cord-type string
Old flip flops
Rip out the plastic thongs of the old flip flops, so that you have a foam base with which to work.
Cut the foam base so that it will fit your child's foot.
Bore holes in the base at any place where you child says that he or she would like the strap to be placed. This can be done by inserting the scissors strait down into the spot your child indicated, and then twisting the scissors until they are through to the other side. You may need to cut out additional foam to fit the cord through, depending on how big the scissors are.
Cut the cord to the correct size, put it through the holes, and tie it to secure. Be sure that you have your child try the shoes on, to ensure that they are not too tight.
And you're done! Easy recycling project, and cheap new shoes! And they are more comfortable for kids than flip flops are, according to the girls.
 We are always babywearing.
 And legoing. Crafting breaks for the win.
 Adora remembered that during Rome Week last year, we made homemade perfume with flower petals, and she requested that we make it again. Easy project. Collect flower petals, cut them off the flowers, and put them in a cool bottle along with water. Done. All natural, sweet-smelling perfume. Above are the flowers that Adora chose to place in her perfume. Cameo by Luna.
 Juno's perfume! She names it "Summer Days." Adorable.
 Adora's perfume, "Summertime Breeze."
 SOO cute! I thought that this was an especially fun project; really easy, all-natural, and the girls adored it.
Making Roman shields! Cereal box cardboard pieces, cut into the correct shape, then covered with tinfoil to make them shiny. The girls then pained on the designs themselves.

 Juno's snake. 
 Making a Roman market! This one deserves a little bit more explanation.
When I was in elementary school, I loooved Vacation Bible School. I got to eat (basically my favourite thing), to make cool crafts (AMAZEBALLS), and to sing songs (YESS), so I thought it was pretty much the coolest thing ever. And sometimes they gave me free toys. As you can imagine, I was thrilled.

     One of my favourite Vacation Bible Schools was called "Gone Fishing." It was arranged by a few huge churches that pooled their resources to turn a large plot of land into Ancient Rome for a week. The VBS groups stayed in Roman-style tents, everyone worse Roman was pretty legit. My favorite part was the marketplace, a large open area filled with tents bursting with different cool activities. Every day, each child was given a sack of gold-painted rocks (coins). Each activity cost one coin, and you could keep making things until you ran out. You could make bread, create a mosaic, make a bracelet, and do many other fun and unique activities. My favorite activity, for some odd reason, was the "fish marketplace," where you could buy either Swedish Fish or Goldfish with your golden coins. I found this magical, for some odd reason. Although I didn't have the resources to recreate this on a large scale, I wanted to give the girls an experience like it, so I created a tiny "Roman Marketplace," with various "stalls." We each took a turn being the shopkeeper and handing out coins. They absolutely ADORED it! I'm really glad that we did it. If you do nothing else on this page, I recommend this craft. The kids really enjoyed it, and I think it's something that they will remember in the future, much like my (albeit much more fabulous) childhood Roman Market.
 Bracelet making station (simple beads, wire, paper clips and safety pins to make charms. Standard bracelet stuff).
 Roman snake-bracelet making station (we never did this, but it looked like a really cool idea).
 Toga belt making station (the bungee cord reappears! This stuff is very versatile). We just cut the cord and tied it into belts. Super easy
 "Flatbread" (tortilla chips).
 Olives (a popular treat in ancient Rome).
 "Fish" (Swedish fish. So healthy).

 I wanted to buy Goldfish, but all they had at the market were these duck things? I bought them anyway and they tasted the same, so whatever. The girls thought they were the, so c'est la vie. This was their favourite part, as it was mine when I was small.

So, I hope you enjoyed learning about our Roman adventures! Leave me a comment if you have any questions, and if you attempt any of these projects, I would love to see pictures! I hope you enjoy all of your summer travels, whether they take place thousands of miles away, or from the comfort of your own home.

Stick around, too; we are learning more about Japan (before I leave on 20 August!) with festivals and activities. I'll probably make a post similar to this one in the next few weeks.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon July 8 with all the carnival links.)
  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia's Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don't take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don't just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you're a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki's post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our "Western Adventure" — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look "picture perfect" to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan's recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers "behind the scenes" so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family's new "beach house"!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip, in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier - and your kids happier - and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won't make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents' station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!