PHEW! Boy have we been busy between sick kids, traveling, and wonderful adventures! Dealing with sickness has been an additional stressor but through it all your kids have proven themselves to be amazing, resilient, generous and flexible troopers! We have not had internet access for the past couple of days while we have been staying at the outdoor school in Takeo and now the catlin website is not working so i am trying to send this thru gmail. I can hardly believe that we have already passed the halfway point in the trip and are actually down to the last couple of days! I told the kids on day 2 that it would seem like the trip was going slowly at the beginning and then suddenly it would be over! Sure enough we have all found that to be true! I will try to give you some quick updates of the activites you have missed!
The monkeys and the aquarium were a highlight for me in Beppu. And I am sure that the trained walrus knew more japanese than I do! On our last day in Beppu We were lucky enough to have clear weather on the day we took the tram up to the caldera of Mt Aso. It looked like a steaming caldron of blue/green/yellow broth and Andy had us all sit and write a tanka (a haiku but with more lines and syllables) while we were on the volcano. We also had a chance to visit with Kate Yonezawa (the previous Japanese instructor at catlin) and her husband who is a bamboo artist in the area. We visited the bamboo museum and made a small bamboo key chain.
Next came our reception in Takeo which even included a large american flag! The schools we visited were most welcoming hosts and the kids enjoyed having a chance to interact with the Japanese students. We were entertained by kendo and koto demonstrations and the kids wished they had had more time to perfect their song and dance performance. Staying at the outdoor school site was certainly not luxury accomodations and I am sure your kids will have lots of complaints about the food but this was never designed to be a 5 star trip and the accomodations were more than adequate. On our last day in Takeo, we visited their local science museum. I was amazed at how well designed the exhibits were. It definitely rivaled OMSI! We went in a bungee-type aparatus that was designed to give us the feel of what it is like to walk on the moon, and we also got to sit in the middle of a gyroscope-type contraption that whirled us in every direction while spinning 360 degrees! Some of us even got to stand inside a giant soap bubble! We also went to a site which was reputed to have the largest kiln in the world! We were taught how to make a clay bowl and true to form for catlin students, everyone's turned out different (not sure if that was what the instructor expected!). These will be glazed and then shipped to us in Oregon. They will make for a precious sourvenir of our time in Takeo which is known for its pottery. On the final evening at the camp, student volunteers from the local school put on an unusal candle ceremony which included silly dances, and songs with hand-motions. To reciprocate, we taught them a few of our own as well! It was a delightful evening and send off.
We have finally arrived in Hiroshima. The boys are in one youth hostel and the girls are in another a short distance apart since neither site was going to be able to take all 20 of us. Both are very new facilities and the kids are really happy with these sites. It has been an important goal of ours for the kids to learn that there are ways to make traveling less expensive. We were hopeful that the last of the illnesses were over, but it looks like a cold may have followed us here. We are crossing our fingers that it does not turn into the flu but we are thankful that tomorrow is really our last day of big adventures as we travel to the Peace Park and then take a short ferry ride to Miyajima where they will see deer walking the streets. The other night we in a circle and reflected on the differences the students have observed in Japan. It is surprising to me how insightful, perceptive and throughtful middle schoolers can be! Your kids are truly impressive! We are all learning alot - mostly about how to work together as a group and how to put the needs of the group ahead of our personal needs. As we all get tired and start to long for home we know that this will get tougher for all the kids. But we feel so fortunate to have this particular group of students with us. Luckily, there is not much that a warm bed and some pizza can't cure!
Wish I had the cables to download pictures onto this computer. Andy is working on setting up some photo albums on Picassa coz the kids have taken SO many pictures!!! Hopefully a link to that is coming soon! Well, we will be home before you know it!
See you soon!
Pongi, Andy and Ann
So Spencer flies in at 8:20am Tuesday/tomorrow!!! I can't wait to take him home, get him in the shower, with some CLEAN fresh clothes, stuff him with Pizza and ice cream, let him play video games and put him to bed in his own bed!!!! :) And hopefully between all of that stuff, hear about his trip! I'm sure knowing Spencer, his answer will be "It was fun." LOL I really think Kaelin has been missing him too. She and Simba have been sleeping in his bed. I know the bird misses Spencer and after cleaning the bird's cage yesterday myself, I miss Spencer! LOL But shhhhh.....don't tell him!!! He'll go all "teenager" on me! ;)
So Spring Break has officially started. Kaelin and I went to go see "Coraline" with Grannie and Grampa on Friday and then Kaelin stayed the night over at their house. I meant to get things done at home, but got caught up in talking/visiting with Paris at the bookstore and then catching up with a special childhood friend from when I was 10 via the phone! (Have I told you how much I LOVE Facebook lately? Thank you Facebook!) Suffice to say, there was a lot of catching up to do! Nice way to spend a Saturday, surrounded by friends near and far.
Kaelin was supposed to go to a Birthday party of one of her teammates, but I dropped the ball big time. I'm telling you, this stuff keeps happening to me. I used to be able to manage my family and their schedules so well. Like a CEO running a big huge corporation. I just can't seem to keep things together lately. We are late for everything. And half the time, I'm getting dates/weekends mixed up and we don't show up at all. Can I blame all of that on "Chemo Brain" I wonder? I feel terrible about missing this birthday party, especially since we RSVPed. And it was ice skating! I also dropped the ball and Kaelin missed going over to the head of the school's house to release Salmon into Salmon Creek. I feel HORRIBLE about those. Ugh.
So I'm going to go all "freakedoutcrazycancerlady" on you and share some fears. This is the curse of cancer BTW. Every little thing freaks you out. So I've had a pretty constant headache for the last 4-5 days. Not excruiating, but nagging. And I'm not a headachey kind of person. I also have been feeling this "whoosh" in a certain side of my head. Like pulsing. Like I can feel the blood flowing there. And I've been really tired. And stressed with my 13 year old away and all of this stuff that needs doing and I am so overwhelmed. Not to mention my forgetfulness. And lack of motivation. Lack of energy. Lack of get up and go. Blah Blah Blah. (normal chemo side effects by the way, worsening with time as the drugs build up in your system and accumulate). But what conclusion do I come to? I have a brain tumor! Now I can't stop thinking about that. What if it's spread to my brain, like what happens with so many women I see in my support group? Ugh! I hate the Cancer Curse! It just will NEVER leave you alone. I think I will bring this up with my doctor next visit and ask for an MRI. Just to be sure. BTW, I have my 6 week CT Scan on April 3rd. Good gracious, April is next week! My baby girl turns 10 on April 1st! I'm not ready!!!!!!
Dave has been running a shooting clinic/pick up games for youth kids on Sunday nights 6-8pm. Last night Kaelin went to her 2nd one, with some of her teammates, and you definately can see a difference in her shooting! She's improving in both shooting and in game play! Making cuts. Driving, etc! I love it! She's going to be a good player if she sticks with it. She can shoot and more importantly in girls hoops, she can JUMP!
This week she is attending one of Dave's Spring Break Hoop Camps M-TH 12-3pm with some of her teammates. This will really be good for her! I might sneak over and watch but it's so nice to be HOME ALL ALONE! What should I do first????? She's going to a playdate afterwards and Dave has Open Gym at Catlin and I have a fun dinner at Chevy's with ex-coworkers from HOTP. If I can remember to go that is!!
Better stop rambling and get to enjoying being home alone. That means laundry, cleaning, paperwork, etc! No fun! :(