Yesterday was sunny and warm.

We were all outside enjoying the weather which seemed to have stayed autumn-like deep into December. They predicted snow and freezing temperatures for next day and although everyone was saying winter is coming we could hardly believe it.

Before bedtime the cold front started moving in slowly. It still seemed warmer then it should be so perhaps the weatherman was wrong. But come midnight everything started freezing. Ice covered the land. It looked pretty with its shiny surface but we all knew the dangers it brings. The ice formed thick and fast and it was relentless.

By early morning little snowflakes appeared. Each one more beautiful then the next, unique and pure, traveling down on it’s path quietly without ever interrupting others. As they landed on the ground they united. First few wouldn’t stick, they simply couldn’t. But they persevered, slowly layering bit by bit until everything was covered in white.

It took hours before they covered the ice enough for it to not be visible and even longer before snow was so significant that ice didn’t matter anymore. We knew it was there and we remained vigilant but we were protected by the snowflakes who laid down in numbers and made ice and all it’s dangers go away. Those tiny little snowflakes who once were alone now covered the ice despite it having the advantage of being there first and created stronger and tougher. Mighty snowflakes that could.

My wish to you all is to find your inner snowflake in the New year to come. To celebrate your uniqueness, to be yourself and to find a way to land in a group that will make you stronger and work together to make this world a better place for us all. And when sun comes out and melts us all may we take the ice with us so we can soak the soil which in turn will sustain and provide for us all, equally.

Leaving Japan

After nearly two years in Japan the time has come for us to return back to the States. I have not written anything on the blog because living abroad has stripped me of my northwestmomminess. So in order to not sound anti-American I have avoided sounding anything at all. Let me explain.

Living in Japan has reminded me of how it feels to be part of your society, how it feels to fit in, to be included. Most of us bloggers found our voice because we didn’t fit the norm. Moms speaking up on motherhood, people moving abroad, women defying standards, men choosing to stay home, photographers embracing the new era of picture taking, families traveling on a budget, homeschooling, adopting, marrying same sex partners… You name it. Most blogs are born out of the need to explain how we are negotiating change or challenging times. For me I started writing when we moved to USA. Although I relocated to Washington state as a US citizen and I lived abroad most of my adult life I was an outsider. Perhaps growing up watching sitcoms Americans seemed to us Europeans just like us except more free spirited, opinionated and with bigger cars but once I made America my home I realized the main difference is not how we act but how we think.

In Europe, much like Japan we celebrate togetherness and achievements as a society. We strive to work and contribute to society first and in the process find personal success and fortune. If we do not achieve these we don’t stand out tremendously because when it comes to basic human needs they are met and not having more then your neighbor is not viewed as a failure but more as a personal choice. I’m sure this could be disputed, it’s just how I was brought up and how I see my friends still living back home and it is how I perceive Japanese who quietly commute on the train, politely greet each other on hiking trails and go out of their way to not inconvenience others.

In America we are taught you can be anything you set your mind to because you are fortunate to live in the land of opportunity. In order to do that you must work hard on yourself and by yourself yet the measure of how successful you end up being is set by society. And that measure lets be honest is to end up being a rich, white guy…

So after we moved to Japan I became European again. I went around every day fitting in. No longer did I have funny stories of me trying to negotiate through daily life because everything fell in place. I might look different, don’t speak the language and perhaps struggle remembering with all the etiquette differences but when I look around I see my people. They act like me and think like me and that is why I am sad to leave for sure.

On the bright side I will no doubt find our new city challenging so stay tuned 🙂

Road trip movie list

Many have asked me how Julian and I kept our sanity driving West coast to East coast this summer and back.

I know everybody thinks being stuck in a car with kids for hours on end is terrible but I thought that was the easiest part. Finding decent food on highways is much harder then spending time with family on them. Of course I could tell you that I discussed answer to life, the Universe, and Everything ( which we all know is 42 ) with my kid for hours but I did enlist some electronic help occasionally. Not to say we didn’t have some fantastic conversations, punch countless bugs and other fun activities. But I also gave Julian my iPad and found some great things for him to watch while we drove through less exciting landscapes. Kansas for example is a 3 movie drive in itself!

Although I mostly let Julian wear my fancy wireless headsets while watching movies I admit to asking him to stream Despicable me through car stereo because it’s too much fun not to. You know the jokes are good when you are not seeing the story yet laugh listening to it.

Another huge winner was Planet Earth: The Complete Collection. I grew up watching Mr. Attenborough’s documentaries so I found listening to his narration really soothing. We pulled over at a rest stop once just so I could watch a beetle in Sahara desert struggle with his new acquired camel dung. Netflix also suggested to us Moonrise Kingdom ( I am convinced they follow me on Twitter and must know we are obsessed with Wes Anderson ) which although Julian saw last summer he loved seeing again. It’s not until you listen to Anderson’s movies without watching them that you realize he is not only a visual genius but his music choices and impeccable silence pauses are perfectly combined in movies too! Another fantastic film we found was ‘On the way to school’ – a must see for any school aged child! Also ‘Living on one dollar’. Honestly if you have your child’s attention for a couple of hours it is the best time to show them the real world. Both these were inspiring and humbling and truly a must see.

I had no problem however with Julian wearing headsets when watching LEGO movies. Who knew there were that many of them? And yes, I absolutely let him catch up on all the episodes of Clone Wars. Sometimes a girl just needs a little peace and quiet while driving to daydream and decorate my little cabin in the woods concentrate on the road.

All and all there was never a moment I hated being in the car with my family during this road trip. Some stretches were boring to drive but never was there boredom in the car. Bruce napped, Julian and I talked, Max looked out the window and trucks kept passing me ( because apparently I am one of the few people on Earth who actually drives only 10 miles over the speed limit ). Sure, I love to fly but sometimes it really is all about the journey. And having the right apps.