Saturday, June 25, 2016



Over the winter, I had asthma issues*.  Doctor changed my inhaler, then in March added a second inhaler.   During Golden Week (April 29th + May 4th~6th) I had A-fib 3 times in the same number of days.  I did some research and found that both inhalers have the rare side effect of triggering A-fib.  I stopped both inhalers and started some supplements to see if that would help my asthma.  I skipped my May checkup to give the supplements time to work, besides I wasn't noticing any real change from not having the inhalers.  I was still having breathing issues when exercising, I still felt...well... not terrible, but just not good.

As spring had kicked in and then turned into summer, I started having more fluid retention on top of the breathing trouble.  I tried all the home remedies I could think of, but nothing helped.  After we climbed Hachikoku, 2 weeks ago, the swelling got really bad and I the breathing issues increased.  Decided that I really should see the doctor.  I told him about the A-fib & stopping the inhalers.  Yes, the inhalers can cause trouble.   He looked at my feet and ordered: blood work, chest x-ray, ECG, & a urine test.  Everything came normal, except the chest x-ray.  The x-ray showed an abnormality - my heart is enlarged.  The doctor implied that it is due to fluid retention, which could be the case, and prescribed diuretics along with my normal asthma meds, which included a different inhaler.

Twice, in a row, after taking the inhaler, I felt chest tightness.  Something, just isn't right, here.  I also continued to have the same breathing issues, over all fatigue, & general "heavy" feeling.  Decided that a trip to the bigger hospital, the one with a cardiologist, was in order.  

MORE tests!

All of the previous tests were repeated at the bigger hospital, plus several tests were added.  The previous blood work had not, to my knowledge, included a thyroid check.  I also had an interesting test that checked my blood pressure in both arms AND both legs at the same & varying times.  This coming week, I will have a heart echo & a 24 hour ECG.  I will then see the cardiologist.

All this could be asthma/allergy related, as the one doctor believes.  Or it could be heart related, which is the direction the other hospital tends to lean.  My thought is the two things are teaming up, but at this point I'm just ready to get the tests behind me, figure out what is really going on, & decided a course of treatment to get me feeling better. 

In the mean time, I am trying to take it easy.  The swelling has improved some and as long as I don't push too hard, the breathing issues aren't causing too much trouble.

Prayers Appreciated

Monday, June 20, 2016

What's Cookin'

Kashiwazaki city has a variety of activities available.  There are language classes, lectures, cooking classes and more.  This spring, I was ask to teach two cooking classes in English.  Today was the 1st one - Busy Mom's Dinner.  The 2nd class will be in 2 weeks - Summer Holiday Food.

As part of the English part of the class, we talked about make ahead meals, batch cooking, freezers, & casseroles.  I shared a handy dandy chart from my favorite Mennonite cookbook - Create Your Own Casserole - throwing the English phrase mix & match in for good measure.  It was fun and, hopefully, informative for the students.

Today's Menu:

The Prep:

The Finished Product:

This morning was work that didn't feel like work.

*The Chicken Broccoli Casserole recipe can be found here.  FYI - we used brown rice instead of white rice and it was fantastic!

Thursday, June 16, 2016


The kanji 八石山 (Mt. Hachikoku) translate to Eight Stone Mountain, but the meaning goes deeper.  The 1st kanji is Hachi which means eight.  The 2nd kanji is most commonly known as Ishi, or stone, but it can also mean Koku. According to Wikipedia...

" The koku was originally defined as a quantity of rice, historically defined as enough rice to feed one person for one year. A koku of rice weighs about 150 kilograms (23.6 stone or 330 pounds).

Putting it all together, Hachikoku is the rice supply for eight for a year.  From a distance the mountain does have the appearance of piles of rocks or huge bags of rice.  

Last year we climbed Hachikoku twice, one on our own and once with students, as an unofficial event.  This year we make the climb as our June outreach event.  Twelve of us, including a 2yo, braved this 518m mountain and lived to tell the tail.


Going up...




Lunch break at the top...


On the way down...


The Beauty of it all...


Psalm 121:1-3
"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;"

Saturday, June 4, 2016


The CS (church school) kids have been busy.  For Mother's Day they made tea crafts for all the mothers with extras so that ladies could take them home to share with other mothers. *The handprint vases were made in AWANA.

Last week, as well as today, the CS & AWANA kids have visited nursing homes taking these to the residents & staff.

Today they also made this craft for Father's Day.

We made 30 crafts each for Mother's & Father's Day, 100 of the flower crafts & an undetermined amount of the other flower shrinks dink. 

From April we started the idea of crafting once a month., but in reality it has been a weekly event with a LOT of teacher participation!   I think from next month we might get on track for monthly crafting with hopes that we will have a nice stash of completed items for next year...  I sincerely hope so because at present I am feeling crafted out.




Sports Of Course

Spring = Sports Days

I do believe the Japaneses have turned sports days into an art form. In our area the last 3 weekends have been filled with Undokai (sports day) Festivals.  These are usually all day events.  Special obento (box lunches) are packed.  It is fun, but crazy.

May 21st nearly every elementary school in the city had their undokai.  The school grounds were a beehive of activity.

Joshua's Sports day was May 28th. and was only a morning event due to the student's special needs.  Joshy's course only does 1 race while the more able bodied students do more.  Joshy's classmates were paired off to "run" a relay depending on their ability.  Those who have walkers were encouraged to walk while other students were put into their standing frames and pushed by their teacher.  The course was 50 yards of so.  They "raced" to the midway point, where they put on costumes of famous Japanese characters (Josh was Momotaro).  Then they continued on to the finish line.  


  It was a hard race!  Making your walker go on a dirt track vs racing up and down the school halls is a totally different experience.  The hallways look a bit like a drag race course on a normal school day!  The outdoor track was more of a snail race.  

Kei's school had their Sports Festival yesterday.  Her school does not have an an outdoor sports ground so it was all in the small school gym.  Because of this the elementary/junior high had their events in the morning and the high school event was in the afternoon.

Kei's school also had 2 activities going at once.  Half the gym was set up for curling and the other half was set up for badminton, followed by table tennis, & a rousing game of 1 bounce volley.  The students all took turns playing and/or keeping score.

Next there was a short break while the gym was turned into a hockey rink for a rousing game of wheelchair hockey where the puck was a ping pong ball.  The 1st round was students, next round parents, then back to the students, next was alumni.  It was WILD!


There will be another round of sports days come fall.  Any school that didn't have their undokai in spring, as well as many communities, will have it in the fall.

The community that plays together stays together???????