Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Cold Weather

Well November has ended and its finally December. I haven't posted in a while because there really hasn't been much to say. We're still in our daily routine- I go to work, Kris stays home, does some grocery shopping and works on his projects, then I come home, we have dinner, watch TV/work on stuff, then go to bed. Weekends have either been us just relaxing at home. Last weekend we went to Asakusa again, which was awesome as you probably saw on my Instagram. Asakusa is definitely one of those parts of Tokyo that you want to visit when you want to see some really Japanese-ish things. Theres lots of vendors selling everything from handbags to samurai swords and tons of omiyage. Then theres the beautiful shrine and the giant lanterns. It makes for a fun day and some great photos and souvenirs. It feels like the typical "Japenese" experience a tourist would have in mind, so in that way its extremely satisfying. Lately we've been trying to get our Christmas shopping done so we can send out our gifts soon because shipping takes so long. We also set up our Christmas Gift registry so people didn't need to try to ship us anything, you can find it to the right under "Merry Christmas".

But anyways, even though normal life has stayed the same the weather has definitely been changing. Its getting down to 12°C (53°F) in the house and at night its getting down to 5°C (41°F). While this isnt unheard of back in San Jose its definitely different to have the house be so cold constantly. We keep the doors to the livingroom closed and we use the one wall-mounted heater to heat it, but once we turn the heat off the temperature starts to drop again fairly quickly. Theres little insulation in Japanese homes, especially in this old building we're in, and the large double-door single-pane glass doors have no weather sealing around the edges. So to go along with the heater we also have our kotatsu. When we're eating or just hanging out we have our legs under the kotatsu blanket and its pretty darn cozy.

Lately at night we've hit a snag though. We don't want to leave the heater running all night, but then it gets so cold inside without the heater. For now I just keep the remote control for the heater near the bed and I turn it off/on when I wake up in the middle of the night. I think theres a way to make it turn off/on automatically but I'm not quite sure yet... We also have two comforters on our bed to help keep us warm, but I'm still cold if Kris isn't in bed.

The morning is another cold problem. When I wake up I turn the heater on full blast, but the I need to go out to the cold part of the house, where the bathroom is, to get ready. The shower room is always FREEZING because the little window in there is usually open to vent out the moisture. The little bathroom hallway isnt much warmer either. So I shower then run into the livingroom to get dressed and dry my hair. Then, when I'm dressed in all my layers, I go back to the bathroom hallway to finish getting ready. Soon I'll get a little heater for the bathroom area, but until then I'm stuck running around in the cold.

Then the next problem comes when I'm at school. The schools have central heating but they are very conservative with it and only turn it on when its way too cold and then its on very low. Currently I try to wear lots of layers to stay warm, but when I'm sitting down for an hour straight I still get super cold. My everyday outfit involves tights, pants, long socks, tank top, long sleeve shirt, sweater and a scarf. And I'm still cold.

Finally I had Kris buy me some warming pads. You stick these things on your clothes and they warm up and stay warm for 14 hours (or so it says). I stuck one on my shirt, on my back, and then I'd sit back in my chair and get warmed up. I mean its not working any miracles but it gave me just the edge I needed while I sit in the cold hallway or in big empty classrooms doing pronunciation testing today.
This month I plan on getting some thermal clothes from Uniqlo, just gotta make time to go shopping.

My sneaky little secret.
  So like I said this week I'm doing pronunciation tests this week. Basically the kids have 10 sentences they have to read, short ones like "It's Friday," and I need to judge if they say certain words correctly. Some sounds in English, like f, v, r and th, are difficult for Japenese speakers to say. Everyone has been doing really well except for the th sound in words like "birthday"- it comes out sounding like "birsday". Other than that I've also been having 1 minute conversations with the oldest kids. They ask me two or three questions they've prepared (like "What movie do you like the most?" or "Whats your favorite place in Japan?") and then I ask them a couple questions. For the most part they do great and most kids could have a normal, simple, conversation with anyone. Pretty impressive.

Well this all seems super boring to me, sorry about that. Boring everyday life! Maybe I need to be a bit more excited about small things? I dunno. But if you have questions or want me to talk about or show pictures of something please let me know! I'd love some ideas. Feeling a bit boring and uninspired.


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