29 September 2009

Things To Be Happy About:

1. New Gold Flats. 
2. Orange Sorbet. 
3. Free Books @ the Library.
4. Soup Eating weather. 
5. Waist Cinching Belts. 
6. Talking on the Phone with Friends (and Mom)!
7. Dinner @ Chili's. 
8. Time with my students. 
9. Design Shows on TV. 
10. Entering in a Photo Contest. 

Here are the Photos I'm entering: 

28 September 2009

Air Force Ball.

Monday- Why do you always kick my ass?! 
[I think we have a mutual hatred for each other] 
You and I don't get along - but Tuesday, he is my savior! 
--Cannot wait for Monday to be over and for Tuesday to save the day!-- 
Okay, now that I got that out... 

Air Force Ball was this weekend. Last minute, Justin and I decided to go. So, some awesome people scrounged up some tickets for us! I was able to put together a cute outfit (if I do say so myself!), but failed to get a picture of the entire dress. Sorry to disappoint. Justin looked so handsome in his blues. But crowds, stuffy clothes, and small talk aren't his thing - so after about an hour, he was over it. What a trooper he is though! Especially when his wife loves to mingle and float around to everyone! He stuck it out to the end. Here are some pics from the ball & our delicious ramen noodles after. 

I would like to thank all the fantastic friends that I saw at the ball, it was a good night. I loved seeing everyone dressed up. Gorgeous and Handsome were the words of the night, and well deserved (seriously, ya'll were hot!).  I'm also going to give a shout out to someone I might have embarrassed. When I drink, nothing is off limits. Therefore, I'm sorry to bring up the endearing gesture of helping your wife dye her hair in the bathroom. It was supposed to remain a secret, but I could help but tell you how darn awesome I thought it was! Kuddos to you for being the sweetest guy of the night! 

So, all in all, we had a fantastic time. Will we go again next year? Probably not! But, I am happy we went. So Happy Birthday USAF! 

25 September 2009

His & Hers

The hubby and I agree, that the best part of our day is when we are laying bed together.
He is reading his selection. I am reading mine.
Here is what currently holds space on our night stands.

24 September 2009

Illegal activities? Me??? NEVER!

So I've been a little down today. I'm supposed to be starting classes again next week and just as I start getting excited, another set back rains on my parade. Ugh! But today lifted my spirits! 

Before I dive right into the meat of the story. I'm sure you could use a little background information. 
So, this fabulous friend and fellow military spouse (T) and I both teach English off-base to some equally fabulous people! Our classes are "sister classes", which makes our world, well fabulous! Long story short, we spend a lot of time together with our students. Well, T, is an aspiring writer. She is currently working on this children's story about a Japanese girl, Momo-chan, and her adventures in Japan. T, who has lived here for 3-years (wow!), has most of the cultural and historical knowledge she needs. But, just to be sure her vision is accurate and that she 'doesn't offend the whole Japanese culture' (her words, not mine), she wanted to pick the brains of our always-helpful-and-oh-so-smart Japanese students. 

Which leads us to today... 
This afternoon we met three of them out to lunch at the food court of the local mall. We settled down at a great table, outside in the shade (it was a gorgeous day!). Quiet enough for us to chat and for T to take notes. After we all enjoyed our delicious tempura with rice and refreshing noodles, we got to business. They came well equipped with historical books about Japan and ancient culture. As we filled the conversation with questions, they filled it with great knowledge. We talked about Japanese monsters, traditional meals, the Japanese school system, village living, and houses. 

[Side Note: The one thing you can guarantee with our students, is that they will clear their whole day just to be with you. This is with the notion that it is an all-day adventure! So, T and I have learned that we also have to clear our afternoon schedules. In the likely event, that lunch will turn into conversation, which might lead to coffee and more conversation, which might lead us to some park, garden, or home and we could end up two cities over if we aren't careful!]

Back to the point...
The last topic we were discussing was houses. T was unsure about what style house she wanted to include in her story. There are traditional houses, modern houses, straw roofed houses, tile houses, and our students seemed unsure if we knew what they were talking about. In their hurried Japanese, they were planning. Apparently, there was a traditional house about a 15 minute drive away that would give T a good idea of what type of house she could use in her book. 
So, it was decided, we were going, and not even two minutes later we were off! They were in their car, we were in ours. I'm trying to quickly write down directions as T is trying to keep up with our Japanese tour guides! They were taking side roads and narrow streets; ones that we have never driven down! My students pull to the side of a street and we pull up behind them. I look over at what looks like a very heavily gated old house. One that just screams - I am not supposed to be looked at right now (hence the locked gates!). Mind you we are still in our cars, blinkers on, pulled over - and T is nervous. There are cars flying by our parked cars! I'm thinking, Goodness, is this where we are parking!? On this tiny road? T and I stay in the car, today was a holiday and the house was closed to all visitors until next week. 
Now, I'm sure T and I were probably having the same thoughts, Okay, well we will come back when it is open, lets just get off of this street! So, our student pulled onto the sidewalk (Yes, right onto the sidewalk!!). But we thought she was getting ready to  to either:
 A. Find parking, or
 B. Call it quits.  

Oh No, no no... 
She pulls on to the sidewalk, pedestrians and all, turns the car off, gets out, and motions T to follow her lead. Well, the car we are driving wasn't made for tight squeezes, but somehow we adjust ourself on this small road and pull the car just behind the other (on the sidewalk). We all get out. Our students start talking in hurried Japanese again, only this time they weren't planning, they were plotting. All three pairs of eyes scanned the property, looking for a way in. They spot an opening! Just behind the side building next to the prickly hedge! In goes one little Japanese lady, in goes the next! T and I are like, are you kidding!? The second lady pops her had back around at us, and says, "Lets go! It's OK!" with a smile! T goes first, I follow (both of us in heels) and we cross over some dirt, through another bush, and Ta-da! We were past the first gate! The next one was impenetrable, so we stood on our toes to look through the it to see the front of the house. 

Dedicated students? Yes! Clever Trespassers? Who Knew!
Whoever they were, it was awesome! 
But, all that was going through my mind was, what if we get yelled at in Japanese. It all sounds so much worse in a different language! Especially when they are angry! 
T's concern was, I left my cell phone in the car, what if we need to call the husbands to have them come and bail us out of jail!? 
[From what I hear, jail in Japan is not pleasant, I know that they eat fish heads, Yum!]

Well, needless to say, we did not get caught. Even as we jumped the fence on the way out, no one saw us (wheew!). I don't think either of us thought that trespassing on historical property was on our to-do lists. But, now that we have, we can cross that off of our lists of things to-do before we die! 
On the way home, We were giggling about our illegal activities of the afternoon. And also, we started itching! My leg has a rash and her big toe was itchy! We probably stumbled on some Japanese poison ivy or something! GREAT! And in between our itching and giggling, we missed our turn! UGH! Being lost in Japan is the equivalent of being lost in a maze. Every corner you don't know if there will be an opening to the finish, or if you will be doing circles for an hour. So, we get back on the road, and follow the directions I wrote down in reverse order. Eventually, we found ourselves back in to familiar territory and not being chased by the police!

This whole adventure has shown me that despite what a day might start out as, you never,ever know what you will end up doing later. You could be so bold as to trespass on property in a country where you don't speak the language! 

So this in combination of tomorrow being Friday (finally!) & the Air Force Ball this weekend. I think it was a great turn around to an initially bad week. Have a good weekend everyone!!!!  

22 September 2009

Do you have the time? Nope.

 If you take the average of the 4 clocks in our house you will get (about) what time it is.

 I just wanted to share why I'm never on time for anything. Always, always late. Not only do I not know what time it is, but neither to any of my clocks. 
I took my camera with me as I make my routine visit to all my clocks. 
So at about 6:42ish.. This is what I found...

[not-so-timely clocks]

21 September 2009

Military Sacrifice.

I'm going to try my best to be as vague and detailed as possible (Your thinking, What?!). Though I am not discussing Justin's actual job, I want to talk about the situation surrounding a recent decision that we made for us. So bear with me if I don't describe what it is that he does - because, that isn't my main point and I wouldn't want to get into any trouble for talking about things that I shouldn't. But, I hope I don't confuse you in the process. The last thing I want is for some military guy ringing my door bell because my blog was an operations security threat. [The commercials of OpSec from the Armed Forces Network on TV are going through my mind right now]

Not to long ago, Justin took an opportunity to change squadrons. This move was a tough decision, but a much needed one. He was working incredibly long and irregular hours at the old job. And, he was always (ALWAYS) grumpy or stressed after work. He could never relax enough to enjoy his time home. Not to mention the last minute trips, weekend-duty, or early mornings that he was expected to be ready for. I usually don't complain and I knew what we were getting ourselves into. When he joined the military I didn't think or expect a 9 to 5 job. But, I did expect to maintain some sort of balance between our marriage and the military. It got to a point, where we were like "What did we do!?", "Why did I decide on the military?", "What am I doing this for?", "Is it even worth it?" But the most important question was, at what cost do we continue going on like this without taking action to try and help us?

So - through the grape-vine (I'm sure) people heard that Justin might want to change jobs. And so the swap was offered and we took it! We thought the easiest part was over. No, No, Nooo... ever since that decision, we have been asked repeatedly - you really like it over there? It was as if the position that Justin took was a step in the wrong direction or a step down. The job that he took has more stable and scheduled work. He is working inside a building, instead of out in the elements. He is responsible for one section instead of the whole thing. And he comes home to me less stressed. It has given Justin and I more time together. And in the precarious state of being newly married, in the military, living overseas - we are so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to capitalize on the time we do have.

The thing that I'm worried about is the standard at which we hold for deciding what is an important job and what isn't. Is a job more important when you take TDY's or leave your family to eat dinner alone? Is a job better when it makes you so nuts that you can't stop thinking about it or talking about it when you are away from it? Does a job have more glory when you are pulling a 12 hour shift in the pouring rain? Or does everything contribute to the big picture? I am a believer that every job is a factor in the grand scheme of missions, or anything. How can we put more importance on one job or the other? You can't. Without one you can't have the other.

I think that the service my husband provides for his country is incredible. Regardless of the actual squadron or work he is doing, it still an amazing dedication and sacrifice to be a part of the military. I'm proud to be married to an Airman, who puts his time in and works very hard in the things that he does. He strives to do the best he can in the job he has. It isn't a glamorous job being in the military and they don't get rewarded enough for the work they do. But, never the less, they all play a part. I know that a lot of military spouses read my blog, so please thank your spouses (or yourself, if you are in the military). The sacrifice is not unnoticed. This would be the perfect time to pat yourself on the back! Toot your own horn! You deserve it!

 To the Men & Women in the:
Air Force. Navy. Army. Marines. Coast Guard. Air National Guard. Reserves.

A huge, huge, huge  [Thank You].


17 September 2009

Laugh. (at yourself).

I was out walking/running last night [over on the east side of the North over-run, for those Yokota readers] when I had a very funny, but incredibly embarrassing moment. 

It was such a great night for a walk. I couldn't help but feel that it was perfect. I was listening to some new music and got into a great rhythm. It started to get dark, but I was only a couple miles away from meeting up with my husband who was playing Tennis with his buddies. Well I have this terrible habit of imagining that something is going to happen to me while I'm walking alone at night. Like some street cat is going to bite me and give me rabies. Or that a strange Japanese animal that no one has discovered (because they only come out at night, when I am walking) is going to chase after me. None of these are serious enough to make me not walk at night, it is just my imagination getting the best of me. But, these thoughts are enough to make me entirely creeped out and on edge for the rest of the walk. So, I get to the part of the trail that is lined with trees on one side and on the other this very long and tall fence. Well, I had noticed that the bats were flying from one side of the trail to the other. At first they were flying high enough not to bother me, but then as I kept walking they were swooping down at eye level! So now I'm telling myself, they are bats, they are blind, they are not after you, calm down, just keep going. 
I decided that I didn't want to stay any longer than I had to and I start running. At this point the bats were no longer shy about freaking me out. But, I'm thinking - I'm all alone, so no one has to witness this. Oh My God, one almost touched me, eeegauugh, I let out this awful yelp. But, with the headphones in, I don't have to listen to myself. Now - if a bat comes within a few feet of my head I'm flailing my arms in the air. It is a warning to them, that if they get close enough, they will be smacked. I probably let out a few good yells and I'm now in a dead sprint. Get me out of here! Yikes, ohhh,Cramp, ouch! Oh! Ow! I had to slow down, I'm so out out of shape, I can't even run away from these predators (I know, I know, bats won't do anything to me, but they are still weird, blind, and ugly creatures). So now I'm saying to my self, breath - inhale, 1-2-3-4-5, exhale, 6-7-8-9-10, inhale, 1-2-3... EEEEEEEEK! Bat! RUNNN! So now my imagination, my heart rate, and my adrenaline is all going crazy. I'm officially freaked out AND I think I'm all alone! I'm almost out of this awful bat nightmare... when I see them. The two witnesses of my complete Freak Out! I'm thinking, Oh My God, they saw everything, they heard everything, they are for sure going to ask me "are you alright?" [and not in the concerned tone, but in a are-you-crazy-woman (?) tone] So now, I'm completely embarrassed. I know I was loud enough for them to hear - amidst my psychological break-down, I didn't notice that there were other people on the trail. 

So, instead of just explaining myself. How do I start to? I decided that the best way was to pretend I was just SUPER excited about my hardcore running work-out. I'm not sure if you can picture this and I'm not sure I can describe this. But I'll try. I'm thinking, they just witnessed, for all they know, a crazy person,yelling and waving her hands in the air while sprinting down the trail. To save my dignity (?), my pride (?), I keep running and then just before we pass each other, I slow down - put my hands on my hips, breathing very hard, and pretend that I just ran that whole way at a sprint because I wanted to achieve running greatness. Then, they passed.. I said Hello!! (very exasperatedly and overly excited) and continued walking, like nothing happened. I couldn't help to think that I'm going to be a topic of conversation with their friends. Or maybe, when they get on the phone later that night with family in the States they will tell them all about the girl they encountered while walking Fritz, their dog (yes I named him). So, I look back - and when I thought I was a good distance away - I let out the best laugh I've had in a long time. I wasn't laughing at the situation. I was laughing at myself. It could be the fact that I tried to cover up my fear of bats (which everyone else and maybe you, think is ridiculous). Or I could have been laughing at how silly I must have looked. Whatever is was, it was hilarious. How could I not share this with everyone? 

Does everyone not have a moment in their life when something embarrassing happens and you just pretend like it didn't? Even if it is in public? Gosh, I only had two witnesses (that I know of) and I couldn't even let them think that I knew that they knew what just happened. 

It makes me laugh just to think about it. I guess if you can't laugh at yourself, what can you laugh at? I just pray that the Air Force doesn't monitor the fitness trail and there isn't some video evidence somewhere being watched (and laughed at). Now that I've shared this with everyone, please feel free to laugh at my awkwardness and embarrassment. Oh, and if you feel inclined to share this with other people, go ahead! It is only funny because you know you've been there and done that!!  :) 


16 September 2009

Out with the Old...

...in with the nothing new.

Sometimes, it is so easy to be bogged down with not only schedules, chores, work, and school - but also by the material goods that we buy to feed the need of satisfaction (or social expectation) in life. Not only do these goods take up space around the house or in storage - they also clutter the mind.

My main source of frustration was my closet - or rather the dresser, the closet, and three storage bins (full of clothes). They took up too much space and I admit that for some of those clothes, I haven't worn them in years. How many times did I stuff clothes into a storage container and say that I would eventually donate them? Countless.  Then, I would continue to rotate them in and out of storage convincing myself that I WOULD wear them (I never did, ever). My husband has told me hundreds (probably thousands) of times to get rid of stuff. Mainly because it would take forever for me to get ready to go to dinner with him. I would change, re-change, and then change again. Goodness, by the time I was done, I was so sweaty I needed to sit in front of the A/C just to cool down. As exhausted as I was, it must have been tiring to watch.

I decided that this was one of life's complications that I could fix. My mission was to get all the clothes that are tried and true in one pile. All the ones that don't fit, aren't in style, or just look terrible on me in another pile. In the third pile were all the clothes I was unsure about. Of course, that pile was the biggest, because I didn't want to single any one of them out - especially if I bought it and NEVER wore it. I sorted the good from the bad, new from the old, and the flattering from the ugly. I got opinions from my husband - who despite his hesitation - told me if something just didn't look good. I was able to slough off the excess clothes. My closet is much simpler. It is so much easier to get dressed because my closet (and 1/2 the dresser) is full of clothes that I know I love and look good in! BUT - my point of sharing this - is that it didn't take much to make my life a little simper. I just stayed focus and kept my eyes on the prize. I so wanted to alleviate a part of my stress (and my husband's) and nothing was going to stop me.

I held myself to some rigid rules:

1. Once I put something into the trash bag, I could not remove it. Resonable.

2. If something was ripped/damaged/stained to the point of no return (ie, never going to wear it, ever) then it HAD to go.

3. Also, once I started the project there was no going back - I could not wait until next month or until Spring Cleaning, it must be finished!

4. And NO clothes were to be put into storage to wait further judgment.

When everything was said and done, I made a new rule for my life:
[Shop conciously and smart.]

How many times, as women, do we try to keep up with the trends, only to find out that they don't look good on anyone that is over a size 2? How many times to we impulse buy something because it looks cute on the mannequin only to find out it should have been left on the mannequin? How many times do we order something online and when it comes, first it looks nothing like it did in the pictures AND they don't fit properly? I can't even count on the two hands and two feet I have. Usually, because of these habits, people are overwhelmed by the amount of things that are weighing down and wearing down their mind and life.

I've began to look at other parts of my life that create some unwanted stress. I realized that there are several things that I can organize, throw out, and pare down. The paperwork that has filled our filing cabinet to the point that it is now bursting at the seams, can be shredded. The endless number of flip-flops in our front hall closet that are broken or destroyed ( and for some reason I keep) can be trashed. And of course, the knick-knacks that I get from the 100 YEN store that are all miniature and make my house look like a grandmothers (at least, in their defense, they have been collecting stuff for 50 years). It all must go. I have an overgrown garden that has taken over my yard (in this case.. my life).

I am reclaiming the parts of my life that are within my control. With so much of my life being out of my control - it has been nice to feel like I have power. I have a piece of my mind back (a much simpler/organized piece). I have space in my mind to remember to tend to the plants on my balcony (they will appreciate that!) and I have space in my house to actually use the work out tapes I am borrowing from a friend (Thanks T!).

How did I become such a pack-rat? Why do I insist on keeping everything??? Is this an intrinsic quality that has been passed down from my family? Is this a learned quality that I got from people in my life? Or is this something that I created on my own? When I stand back to take an outsiders point of view - it doesn't really matter why or how it happened - all that matters that I'm working hard to keep my chachkies, or tchotchkes (yiddish for dust collectors) to a minimum and limit my clothes to one closet and 1/2 a dresser.

Life is full of crap as it is, why make it a literal thing by actually filling our lives and minds with stuff? I say start small. Start with one drawer, one basket, one storage bin. Even organizing that one piece will make your life a little lighter. You won't be worried that your closets will give you a black eye every time you open it. You won't have that twinge of shame when your house guest discovers your junk drawers, closets, AND bins. And you won't be so suffocated with stuff that you, yourself become to overwhelmed to even know where to start.

BUT - if you are one of those people that has a whole basement full of stuff (I won't mention any names) - just slowly start to dig your way out. Stay determined to make your life a little happier!

Challenge yourself: Take a good look at your stuff; do you really need it all? Are there parts of your life that could be simplified? Are there things that you could get rid of? Don't put it off - go and put on those Nike gym shorts and Just Do It! Nothing was more satifiying than dropping off the 6 bags of clothes to the Airmen's Attic. The weight was really lifted! I breath a little easier and dress a little easier - this makes life just...


4 of 6 Bags that I donated!

11 September 2009

You Better Go and Get Your Armor.

Love is a Battlefield.
Life is a Battle field.

It has been a busy, busy, busy week in the Cox household. What should have been a relaxing long Labor Day weekend, turned into a busy Softball infested one. The tournament that my husband participated in consumed all of the time and energy we had. He played for a team called the Average-Joe's and although they didn't win, it was nice to be out there cheering him on! I also got a great tan!
This week, I was back at work, back getting ready for school, and really missing summer. It's funny - it is always greener somewhere else. When I was bored this summer I longed for the routine of work and school. But now that I'm back into it - I'm longing for the relaxation of the summer. Hmmphh!

Also, this week, we have some choices to make. These choices are really the adult ones that I have always wanted to make, but now that I have to - it is TOUGH! Most of our discussions lately are:

-Stay in the Military, Get out of the Military?
-If he stays in: Does he cross train, Does he stay maintenance?
-If he seperates from the Military: Do we go back to NY? Do we start looking for houses? Schools? Jobs?
-If he does cross train: Do we leave Japan in a year, Do we stay for an extra year?
-If he doesn't cross train: Do we leave Japan in a year, Do we stay an extra year?

So on top of these conversations - we have had some minor set backs, but never the less, they are setbacks.
Mine are with school - because without fail, every time I apply for financial aid they always want me to verify that we seriously make that little money. Which is taking much longer than I thought it would.
On Justin's side - he tried to rank up 6 monts early and was in a very competitive group of canidates and did not get it. It was disappointing.

So last night, after a week of these serious talks and frustrations - I went to the store and got tequila, ice cream, and chips. That way if we decided to drown our sorrows in our "drug" of choice, whatever it may be, we would be prepared. So I made a couple margaritas and Justin binged on half a bag of his favorite Snyder's (fully loaded, not lightly seasoned)  pretzels. Then I went for a long walk and he played a shoot-'em-up video game. During that time we realized just how much we love each other. It must have been between the three bug bites I got on the walk and the three person kill-streak he had in his game. I guess whatever it takes. We realized just how much we love being part of an exclusive team, where the only two members are us! We fight against the odds together, celebrate the success together, and comiserate during the bumps in our road. It feels fantastic to have someone to fight beside you against live's enemies. Those enemies sometimes come in the form of not getting a promotion, having a ton of extra paperwork to do, staying late at work, and having a wind-knocked-out-of-you kind of day.

So Love isn't the only battlefield. Life as a whole usuallly is. It is busy, messy, and frustrating. Set backs get in the way of steady progress and sometimes the hard work doesn't seem worth all the effort. But I understand now, that if you can use those set backs as motivationl energy to push a little harder, in the end the results are satisfying. And it is always more satisfying to know that you conquered a mountain and were able to take someone with you. In this case, it is my husband. As I climb up from the wreckage of one of lives many battles, I take along my husband and that is how we grow stronger and trusting.

We know that neither of us will leave the other behind to clean up the mess - each of us contributes and succeeds. When I accomplish something, I know that it wasn't just my efforts that make it possible, I am part of a team that lends support (sometimes silently and creatively) to help.

So if you are part of a team, whether your team members are brothers, sisters, friends, parents, or your children take time to appreciate them and the ways they lend their support to your dreams and accomplishments. Because you cannot step into battle alone, everyone has someone to take on the "enemies" in your life. Just figure it out and let that person know!

My Parner-In-Arms

Nihongo Wakarimasen. (I DO NOT Understand Japanese)

For the past year and 8 months I have been living in Japan. This beautiful country with its kind people and deep, rich history has been an awesome place to live. Since we moved here I have been trying to speak the language. And I have, for the most part picked up ALOT of sayings and vocabulary.

Well last night at my husbands softball game, there was a little Japanese boy, the son of one of players. His name is Ryu. Let me tell you, by far one of the cutest kids I've seen... Well, he is not shy about talking to people and the little smartie pants knows some English. But my heart sank, when he was talking to me and I couldn't understand him. His mother, who speaks English too, had to translate everything. So I'm on a mission, first to find a teacher and then to work my butt off to be a good student. That way when I see Ryu, I can tell him in Japanese that he should not pick up that already chewed gum from the bleachers.

If anyone has ever travelled abroad, then you know how the language barrier can be frustrating (on both sides). There have been times (when I first arrived to Japan) that I could go shopping by myself the whole day and not say a word, to anyone. Can you imagine?? I would smile, nod my head, and bow - but no words were said, I was too afraid to use Japanese and they were too afraid to use English. [But for all they knew I spoke Spanish, or French, or German - because I didn't say ANYTHING.]

There was this one time, I think I was here maybe week,  and I needed a plunger (My husband had left me a "project" to deal with while he was at work). So, I went to the BX and commisary and apparently everyone had the same project as I did, because they were sold out of plungers. I walked myself back to find that the mess didn't magically disapear. I'm pacing at this point, thinking, what do I do? what do I do? Aha!  I knew that there were Japanese workers in the building, so I went up and down the halls until I found one. The whole time my fingers were crossed and I was prayyying that he spoke a little English. Great, he doesn't understand English. So, here I go.... I (point to self), need, a, plungerOh no! The look of confusion came over his face. This is a look that only a person who not only doesn't understand your language, but also thinks you look ridiculous demonstrating how to use a plunger has. So I tell him to wait (by holding my finger up to him). I run back to my room, grab my post-its and log into a free translation website. I translate the words toilet, full, stuck, tool, help, and please. I  run back to him, with my sticky notes, and stick them on the hallway wall. I point to each one, and continue demonstrating the plunger. He smiles (and I'm sure laughs to himself) and signals me to follow him. He says some words in Japanese, something to the extent of, is this what you are looking for? And I nearly cried. Oh Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. If the Japanese weren't such a non-hugging culture, I probably would have hugged (and kissed) him! I think it was that defining moment that I wanted to learn how to communicate. Not only for those "emergency" moments, but for the reason that I want to be able to talk to people and understand what they are saying to me. Oh and so that I can talk to that little cutie-patutie at the softball game.

Isn't it what all human's thrive on? Having a voice- in whatever language it might be. I teach English to some amazing women. They have incredible conversation skills. But, their biggest concern is not being able to fully explain themselves and what they are thinking. And these are women that have been studying for 5 to 6 years. I guess I've got some work ahead of me. So this blog is for anyone that speaks multiple languages and can have a voice, in not only their native language, but in other places in the world.

I don't only want to be understood in the U.S.A., Canada, England, and Australia.
I want to be heard.......in Japanese.


These are my students. My wonderful, fabulous, fill-in-mothers-fathers-brothers that I just LOVE!
So sweet and kind - and oh-so patient with my limited Japanese.

03 September 2009

My Version of Hell...

....would be stuck on a long flight, excited for vacation, and sleep deprived.

My goodness there has been ALOT of chatter about travelling lately. Friends, Family, Co-workers.... It seems like they are all going places but me. [That isn't entirely true, we just returned from our vacation, but I just love being on vacation - so much that I'm already looking forward to the next one.. whenever that may be].

But with all this talk about travelling - I've decided to let out all the latent aggression I have about our last trip across the world, literally. We live 10,000 miles from our home town. We took a giant plane across the Pacific, stopped in Detroit quick, and jumped on a smaller plane to NY. 24 hours total from our front door to my Mother's front door. [Ugh - just thinking about it is exhausting]. Every time I take the trip, I vow not to take it again until we leave this island. But, my hometown has its own gravity pulling me back every so often.

I think the worst part about taking the trip is the complete lack of sleep I endure. I've taken this trip across the ocean 7 times and without the help of a tranquilizer, I don't sleep. This past time my husband travelled with me! I was so excited to show off my travel savvy knowledge to him. And I was thinking of how nice it will be to have him right next to me, we could talk and watch movies together, gripe about the terrible food - you know things to pass the time together. We get to the airport - and (WHAT?!) our seats have been changed?!?! We now get to travel in the comfort of the middle seats in the middle row! Between Justin's knees touching the seat in front of him and me scrunching my legs over so he could have a little space - we were ready for it to be over before we even left Tokyo. I'm trying (so hard) to keep thinking about how nice it is to be travelling together, but by this point my excitement was waning. The seats that I booked have been switched. Bummer. [We were told that the seats were "malfunctioning" - which was a TOTAL lie, because we scoped out the seat stealers and it didn't look like they were having any discomfort or issues with their seats or with the leg room I thought I was paying for]. So we take-off and they serve dinner a little while later, we eat and laugh about how hard it was to choke down... ahhh... things are turning out okay. As soon as they take our trays and garbage I look over and he is dozing off! No, No, No, No....You are supposed to stay awake with me.. He opens one of his eyes, and looks at me and says, "I'm sorry babe, I'm so tired.." So now I'm thinking, great, what am I going to do now?! I open my book and start to read - for all I know he is already dreaming of the vacation, and me? - I'm wide awake on this flight - annoyed & jealous that my man, my love, is next to me is getting rest that I know I need too. And to top our flight off, it came with complimentary children in the row behind us. I think their kicking feet were only attracted to my seat. Needless to say - Justin came off of that flight looking fresh and dewy, and I had bloodshot eyes and huge pores. Once we got back to my Mom's house and were able to catch up on sleep all was right with the world again.

It was a tough flight, but in the end worth it. When we got back to Japan- I vowed, once again, under no circumstances am I to take that flight again until I have to leave. [We'll see how long that lasts, my brother graduates high school next summer]

My thoughts are going out to my Mother, who in a few short weeks will be making that journey across the Pacific to come to Japan for a visit. I hope her trip is comfortable and that she finds herself sleeping all the way through it. If there is one way to travel on a plane, it is to be asleep for the whole flight.

I'm feeling aaaa-mazing now that I got that off my chest.

So for everyone that is vacationing soon, Happy Travels! :)

02 September 2009

Gratitude. Perspective. Wine.

The feed back about my blog has been AWESOME! So a thousand Thank-Yous are in order!!! As long as people are reading, I'll keep posting. Everything thus far has been pretty mushy-mushy. My life isn't always like this (promise).

There are a few extraordinary women that have come into my life. Today I had the pleasure of catching up with one of them and I think that she deserves a moment to shine (even if it is only on my blog).

Working in the school system, I have the whole summer off. I'm away from work (yay!) - but also away from some of the amazing co-workers I have the honor of working beside. Well, a lot can happen in a summer. So when we all return to the daily grind, we catch up on each other's lives. Well- meet C.M., a 6th grade teacher. She is the most dedicated person I know. If I went back to Middle School, she is the kind of teacher I would pray for. She engages the students in fun learning activities that are just AWESOME! [I mean she has the students where togas every day through the units on Ancient Rome and Greece. How cool is that!?] Well this woman has quite a full plate. She not only has the full time teaching job (plus some afterschool clubs), she also is the mother to 3 children, taking classes to finish her Master's degree in Education, AND her husband is deploying in a few weeks. I thought my life was crazy! Everything was put into perspective today. I know she doesn't read my blog, but a HUGE thank-you is being sent (telepathically) your way - your story was a swift kick to my butt to push on through my own un-comparible craziness.

So many women maintain a schedule similar to C.M.'s. KUDDO's to you!! If you are one of them.. pat your self on the back, toot your own horn, and give yourself a hug (or a cocktail). You deserve it!!! Tomorrow morning when I'm grumpy about starting my "hectic" day - I'll be thinking of all the women in my life that carry the weight of the world on their shoulders and still push on.

On another note, I know that many many people from my hometown have started to read my blog. So, I just want to say a quick THANK YOU to everyone in Rome. I had a lovely vacation home and it was because I was able to spend time with you fabulous people! I might not have spent all the time I wanted to with everyone (a million-trillion apologies for that and for any future visits). There just isn't enough time to do everything, see everyone, and go everywhere. Of course the biggest Thank-You goes to those people that: gave up their room for us (my brother Michael), opened their house for us (my Mom), and let us borrow their car for the WHOLE time (Kelley). Without you 3 our vacation would have consisted of us in a cardboard box using newspaper for blankets near to a bus station to get around. I don't know if my friend Mickenzie has had the time to look at my blog yet, but a CONGRATULATIONS is in order. She just bought her 1st home and I couldn't be happier!

We couldn't be happier to be on vacation!

My last thought is about a lesson learned:

A glass of wine really does make everything a little better. So after the emotional vomiting that took place this past weekend, I sat on my balcony and enjoyed a much needed glass (or was it a goblet?) of wine. It was relaxing & delicious. 
If you find yourself in the middle of a bad day, make time in your evening schedule for a little vino. 
If your husband is deployed, on assignment, away for business, working late, or whatever it may be - serve up yourself a non-selfish glass of wine. 
If your kids are driving you craaaaazy, when they are asleep, cure your temper with your favorite bottle.

Cheers! Cheerio! Prost! Kampai! Saude! Oogy Wawa!
Whether your American, British, German, Japanese, Portugese, or Zulu....
Toast yourself! You deserve it!



01 September 2009

Holy Barbara, Mother of Kate...

I am so lucky to have such a wonderful Mom. I may be biased, but I think she is the best Mom in the world (I know, Lucky Me!). 
No, Seriously. This is going to sound silly, but my Mom was meant to be my Mom. I know for obvious reasons, she was meant to be. But, I know in my heart of hearts that any other Mom would have given up on me during my teen years or when I decided to get married so young. I do have a point, so just keep reading (please). 
This weekend was incredibly emotional. I was a wreck. A crying mess. But seriously in denial.
I had lashed out at my husband over not folding a t-shirt. Threw a fit over chores. Punched my pillow, I don't know, say a trillion times. And was still a crying mess. I had convinced myself that it had nothing to do with me, my feelings about my Dad, or the anxiety I had about the anniversary. So I went to bed last night still fighting with myself about the real reason I was such a mess. Then my saviour, also known as my Mother, stayed on the phone as I was describing the (horrific) events of last night.
Funny.. how when your Mother says the same thing as everybody else, you actually listen. [Kind of like when I'm sick - my husband will tell me over and over to go to the doctor and I'll shrug it off (what could he know, right?) But my Mom, in no time at all can convince me that I need medical attention.] Crazy. She is like my guru. She has all the answers. We talked about my ranting and raving and she spoke about what she believes is the core of why I'm so upset. And.... The "Ah-ha!" moment came to me! The light bulb went off! The sun broke through the clouds! I GET IT
Why is something so obvious so difficult to see? I, Katherine Cox, have not dealt with my father's death. I hide feelings, I mask feelings, and I fake feelings. But I do not deal with feelings. Therefore, in the 40 minutes I was talking to my Mom, she (once again) was the person walking through my desert with a stick - ready to pull me out of my quicksand. So every time I go to thank her, there isn't enough I can do to show or to say how much I appreciate her. My mother's love, just as my husband's love, or a friend's love - was the cure. Gosh, I'm so darn fortunate to be surrounded by such love! 
Since Love is in the air - I decided to show a little love by bringing it to the dinner table. 
I figured that if I completely wrap myself in the warmth of love where ever I go, I can take on just about anything! I encourage everyone to find ways to bring a little "love" in your life.