Family Life

A part of my identity is being a mother of three boys. Yesterday was my youngest son Hiroto’s 5th birthday. It always amazes me how fast they are growing up. When he was born I got slightly teary that he actually made it – it was not that I had difficult pregnancy with him, but it was due to the fact that we lost the last pregnancy before him, at 16th week. It was one of the darkest moments of my life. I was so grateful that he was actually there, a mere 6 lbs but otherwise very healthy. This past 5 years, we managed to raise Hiroto to be a happy, very affectionate boy who loves superheros and creating stuff with lego. He wants to do everything his two older brothers do.

One of his two brothers, Isamu, is now 10 years old. He is into dancing, singing and performing. Now we have a video clip of a theater group he is a part of when they compete at the final of this contest back in January. I am so happy that he has this love for music and dance in his life.

Callback

I submitted my work and after a few hours, I heard back from them. I want to call it “Callback” (as in, I am invited to do the 2nd audition/interview) although it is more like “OK that’s a good start, see if you can tweak it some more to make it better”. I am still grateful that this is happening, rather than receiving a response of “Thanks, not this time”. One of my favorite podcast shows is Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” and recently she was talking about her sister’s sage wisdom (her sister is a TV writer in Hollywood); “Yes” comes right away. “No” never comes. I got a reply almost immediately, and it wasn’t a “no”. I will take that.

Heading towards the weekend now and I don’t expect to get much done next two days. But luckily I have more time to work on it, as they are not in a hurry – they’d like to see a work well crafted, rather than a work done quickly. So I will take my time to enjoy family time, work on other areas of my business and some diversion (in a form of watching a movie). Thank you for reading my (almost) daily post, and have a wonderful weekend!

Read a book

Today’s goal is to finish reading this book I need to return tomorrow. It’s a parenting book – as our boys grow older, I felt the need to update my parenting tool box. If having kids make us parents, then kids also raise us as parents, but it’s easy to just fall back in old pattern without taking the time to reflect what’s working and what’s not. U.S.Base Yokosuka offers a variety of courses such as parenting class or personal development class which is beneficial when we are in need of some new ideas or just need a place to talk it over our challenges. Every parent needs a “go-to” place or person when they have some extra encouragement, as it is one of the most challenging tasks in life.

Trumpet & Movie

Today my middle son has a trumpet lesson. He fell in love with the instrument sometime last year when he watched one of Miyazaki’s animation movies called “Castle in the Sky” (He only told me that was the inspiration much later). He joined a marching band for 5 months and spent almost all the weekends and about 22 days during summer break, which typically started at 9:00 and ended at 5:00. It was a bit insane by my standard, but he enjoyed the experience – he had a chance to perform at big tournaments with the band three times during that short period of time. Since it started to affect his health, we decided that it is time to pause, so now he takes a private lesson about once a month.

It’s interesting how certain things inspire kids to want to do something. “Castle in the Sky” is also a memorable movie for me. I secretly feel like I owe my success of getting into Tokyo University to that movie, as I wrote about what I took away from it in my entrance exam thesis. It might be why I often let my kids watch age-appropriate movies, as you never know what inspire them. In fact, we are planning on going to watch a movie on base this afternoon after his trumpet lesson.

Fired Up

My friend shared this wonderful clip “BUTTERFLY EFFECT 2017 intro Barak Obama Presentation Remixed By Dann Fipphen” which I happened to catch on a train taking me to Tokyo to attend a seminar. Once there, at some point I will be put in front of a crowd of 100+ people for a brief moment and I am supposed to talk about what I do. It was a perfect little clip to remind me that one person’s voice has a potential to make a change. So be brave.

Audition

I took StregthsFinder test, which said my strengths are input, positivity, intellection, connectedness and learner. It’s different from the last time I took the test but it was at least 10 years ago before I had kids. I am curious to know if life circumstances affect the way you respond to the questions, which would result in different strengths.

Today, I am feeling a bit anxious, as it looks like I will have a shot for a writing gig. I need to show them what I’ve got by submitting my work. I can’t share any details at this point yet, but I will write more about it when the time is right. Somehow I can’t help but think that I got this opportunity because I started writing my daily challenges in this blog about 10 days ago.

StrengthsFinder

I have taken StrengthsFinder test a long time ago, but now I have another opportunity to retake the test, this time in Japanese. I am curious if I get the same results as the last time. To be honest, I didn’t really know how to make the use of the results I got last time, but this time around I have someone to help me interpret the results so that I can utilize my strengths more consciously and intentionally.

Also today I plan to take my youngest to a doctor’s office. He might have contact dermatitis – when he eats, his skin around the mouth becomes red and itchy. Until recently it healed itself within a few hours, but it is taking longer these days. Hopefully it’s not food allergy.

Today’s challenge: Tax return

Today I will start the process of filing 2016 tax return. Japanese tax return filing deadline is March 15. Last year was the first time I filed after moving to Japan, and I spent so much time dreading the task that I actually put it off until March. Of course, once I finally got around to do it, the entire process was not as bad as I had feared. I felt like I wasted so much time worrying about it.

This year, I took Gretchen Rubin’s advice of “Schedule time to worry” and decided that I will not think about it until February, so that I don’t spend time dreading about it. Now that it’s well into February, today is the day. I am telling myself now that it is ok that I don’t finish it in one day – I just need to take the first step.

Today’s challenge: Vacation planning

My husband and I did some vacation planning before 6:00am this morning. We live outside of the U.S. for almost 2.5 years and we didn’t realize you can’t renew your driver’s license anymore after renewing twice by mail. California DMV would like to see us at least once every 15 years. If we had known about this “15 year rule”, we would have renewed it in person while we were still in San Diego, but then again, we didn’t know we’ll be living out here (Japan) for extended period of time until about a year before we left. Certain things in life you only find out by experiencing it. Anyway, now we know when we need to fly back to the U.S. (we knew we’d go back sometime during next 18 months), so we booked a place for our San Diego stay. Having that taken care of feels really good.

Today is also the day to go to doctor’s office (one of the two appointments I made last Wednesday). I am in home stretch in terms of this task, because I am actually not afraid of going to see a doctor. Making the plan was definitely the harder part of this one.

Do the next right thing

Yesterday’s task is complete. Now I have another task to “create a full backup of my iPhone” before visiting the store. This will be the challenge I’ll tackle this weekend.

As I mentioned in the post “Asking a favor”, I am a bit concerned about our older two kids’ English writing skills – For the record, I am also concerned about our youngest son’s English skills in all areas, but that’s for another post. Anyway, recently I was shocked to discover that our middle son doesn’t know how to spell certain 2nd grader level words. I was kicking myself about not keeping up with spelling practice for kids after we moved to Japan 2 years ago. When I was telling someone about it yesterday, she said to me “Well, you can beat yourself up about it, but it’s not really helpful, is it? Just think, “what is the next right thing”? When you come up with something, just do that”. She is right. In a way, I have already taken a step towards the next right thing, which is to find a tutor to address that challenge. I am happy to report that the mom I wrote to responded and I now have a lead for a writing tutor. Taking action towards the solution I can think of right now helps me to feel less anxious. When you are less anxious, you also come up with more creative ideas. Beating yourself up is not only unproductive, but it also affects your overall happiness negatively. I know all of this intellectually, but actually putting it into practice is a different challenge.

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