Sunday Afternoon 7/9/2017

That’s our girl!

We are back at “full strength” here again at Casa Aloha with YaYu back from her trip to China. She had a fantastic time and an amazing experience, took over 1,000 pictures, and got to speak LOTS of Chinese! She got over her jet lag in less than a week and is already back into her usual routine of volunteer activities and community service. She also learned this past week that she passed all of her AP exams (yeah!), with a top score on the Chinese exam, so the tutoring expense this past year was well worth it. It’s almost hard to believe that she’ll be back at school in less than a month, and that this will be her final year of high school. Of course this also means the college application process will be beginning soon, with all that entails. I am so glad this is the last time we have to go through this.

I could sit and look at this all day and never grow tired of it.

The crazy, hot, humid weather continues, but there’s really only been a couple of days where the humidity has been overly oppressive and unbearable, and thankfully it cools off every night so sleeping has been comfortable. We try to get to the beach when we can fit it in with the girls’ schedules, but that doesn’t happen all that often, and will happen less this month as we juggle the two girls’ schedules. Otherwise, things are pretty calm around here, and we’re enjoying the summer break.

This afternoon I am:

  • Reading: I have been a reading a lot these past couple of weeks as four books came off hold at the library at the same time! I read The Long Way Home and News of the World in less than three days, and just finished Michael Chabon’s Moonglow yesterday and started A Man Called Ove. The first three were all excellent, and great reads – I hated putting them down. I had A Man Called Ove checked out last March, while we were in Japan, but never had the time to read it then, and it’s taken this long for it to become available again!
  • Listening to: We’re enjoying a lovely, sunny, breezy morning so I can hear lots of birds chirping and the wind blowing through the trees outside. Of course the sound of the washer and dryer covers most of that – we got an early start on the laundry today as we’re heading to the beach for a while and wanted as much of that chore out of the way as possible.
  • Watching: Brett and I finished a show called The Break (on Netflix) this past week. What a wild ride that was! It was filmed in Belgium, and was subtitled so we had to watch closely, and just when we’d think we’d figured things out there’d be another twist, with the ending a complete surprise. We’ve started another mystery/procedural on Netflix, Bordertown, and so far, so good. It was filmed in Finland, which means subtitles again, but it’s manageable although we can’t pick even one word out of Finnish that we understand. We’re also watching quite a bit on PBS right now: The Great British Baking Show on Friday evenings, My Mother and Other Strangers and Granchester on Sunday evenings, and The Story of China on Tuesday evenings. I’m into Season 9 on Top Chef – the drama continues.
  • Cooking/baking: I’m pretty much staying out of the kitchen today, except for fixing my breakfast (yogurt with fruit). Brett is making Scotch eggs for dinner tonight, which the others will have with toast & jam, and we’ll all have watermelon. We make our own breakfast sausage with ground pork and Penzey’s breakfast sausage seasoning.
  • Happy I accomplished this week: Brett defrosted the freezer on Friday, always a somewhat dreaded, but necessary task. I got in almost all of my bike rides (missed a couple of the afternoon ones because of the heat), drank all of my daily water allotment and then some, and did my language study every day. I think I’m almost ready to move into the next level!
  • Looking forward to next week: We’re going out to breakfast on Thursday at the Tip Top Cafe, our favorite spot for that meal. I am also looking forward to Amazon’s Prime Day on Tuesday – I have my fingers crossed that the suitcase I’ve finally decided on will be on sale. If not, I have no plans to buy anything else. I guess I could look for Christmas gifts, but it seems to early for that (although I have funds set aside).
  • Thinking of good things that happened: We’re all still sharing in YaYu’s glow over her testing success, especially the Chinese. It’s very gratifying to see all of her hard work pay off. WenYu has been making some good money at her job, especially since she is only working as a busser, and not wait staff. They pay her out of their tips every day and have been very generous. The manager is now thinking about assigning her hostess duties as well, so she can pick up more hours.
  • Grateful for: I told YaYu before she left that I did not want her to bring me anything from China, but I am currently so thankful she didn’t listen and brought me a fantastic three-speed, rechargeable, adjustable bunny fan! It has been a lifesaver on more than one occasion this past week and has helped to keep me cool (and sane). I had no idea I needed a bunny fan, but now can’t imagine this summer without it!
  • Bonus question: Do you have a favorite historical period? I remember once a woman I knew saying that learning history was the biggest waste of time she could imagine. Au contraire! I’ve been most especially interested in the WWII era for as long as I can remember, both historically and socially. I grew up knowing and hearing the stories of many people who served in the war, from both my parents and other neighbors who served, a neighbor who spent time in a German prisoner-of-war camp, to a friend of my Dad’s who was on the USS Oklahoma when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and was trapped for days until rescued. I was also fortunate to be able to speak with several Japanese people about their war experience, both in Tokyo and Hiroshima, and developed an appreciation for how the war affected both sides, especially those that had no say in the matter, or who were otherwise uninvolved. I’m always interested to find books, articles, films, and TV shows about the war, both fiction and non-fiction, and think if I could turn back time and do it over again I might major in history, and then do a Master’s (and maybe a Ph.D.) with a focus on some aspect of the war. To that woman who said learning history was a waste of time, I give you Santayana: Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

And that’s what’s been going on at Casa Aloha. How was your week? What did you accomplish? What good things happened for you?

And we are off to the beach . . . .

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23 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon 7/9/2017

  1. Laurel says:

    First, big congrats to YaYu! She (and you) should be very proud!

    My mom is Finnish and my grandmother was born there, so I’ve heard Finnish spoken off and on my whole life. Trust me, there are no words that sound recognizable in English. Well, maybe yah, but could be colloquial to my home area up north. haha

    My FIL was shot down in WWII over France and lived to tell the tale. Before meeting my husband, I was only marginally aware of the details of WWII. But since we’ve been married, I have absorbed his love of the history of that era. We’ve watched Band of Brothers, Private Ryan, numerous documentaries, etc., and he has read more books than I can name. When we visited Normandy, we did a wandering trip into the countryside to find the Falaise Gap where my FIL was shot down. There is now a museum on the hilltop over that valley and it was so interesting to hear the tour guide and see the bucolic sheep farms below. You would never know what a bloody battle was waged there.

    I have no idea what Amazon Prime Day is, but now I’ll have to check it out! 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      We are so proud of YaYu – she didn’t begin to learn English until she was five, and had a lot of catching up to do, but she has worked very, very hard to get where she is now.

      My dad served in the Pacific (on a destroyer) and watched kamikaze attack a carrier one day. He also visited Hiroshima soon after the surrender and was deeply moved. He said the destruction was beyond anything we could imagine.

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  2. Hawaii Planner says:

    Love YaYu’s photo! And, a huge congrats to her on her test results. What an accomplishment.

    I lost my Sunday (due to traveling), but I am grateful that I am over my flu. I came down with a terrible flu on Friday, and had to fly out on Saturday morning. I upgraded to business for my Tokyo flight, and while I didn’t eat or drink anything (other than water) on the flight, the reclined seat helped so much. It was a huge waste to not eat the delicious business class food, but I’m so happy I’m feeling better. I have 8 candidates flying to Tokyo this week to interview with our executive team, so bailing really wasn’t an option. I’m up & eating my first real meal in three days. Woohoo!

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    • Laura says:

      I love that picture too – it expresses her personality perfectly. She was born to be a dancer!

      Have a great trip to Tokyo. It will be HOT and HUMID, but Japan is always a great place to visit. Glad you are feeling better too!

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  3. The One in Debt says:

    Congrats to Yayu scores! And that’s an awesome jump there. My daughter is entering her final year. The whole college thing will be new to me. Eeks. I am a little anxious about it. But if I take it one day at a time, everything will be okay.

    It’s might hot and a bit humid here too. And I am currently baking an upside peach cake. First time. So we shall see how this turns out. I just check on it and it looks might good. Let’s hope it tastes just as good!

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    • Laura says:

      I ended up making a triple chocolate bundt cake, when the afternoon heat was at its worse, but I survivied. The chocolate chips almost melted together before I could use them, but it turned out OK and everyone is happy to have chocolate cake.

      I will be so relieved when this whole college thing is done – so much anxiety and angst for the students. It was so much easier when I went to college, and when our son applied in 1996. It’s a whole different game now, with new rules.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rowena says:

    I don’t have a favorite historical period, but I do love books, movies and tv series that are based in a historical setting. With all the reality shows, sitcoms, and crime drama on tv, getting to go back a couple hundred years in history is a visual and mental change of pace. I love your fan!

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    • Laura says:

      Although I love crime dramas, I tool love TV series and movies in historical settings. There’s recently been a few crime dramas set in the past that have been the best of both worlds for me.

      The little fan is quite powerful for its size, and does a quick job of cooling me off after one of my bike rides. It was a very thoughtful gift!

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  5. tpol1 says:

    What a cute picture of YaYu! Just by looking at that picture, I can imagine she had a blast in China. You must be so proud of all your kids. What is YaYu’s preferred school for College?
    My favorite historical period is either 16th Century or WWII. I seem to be obsessed about the British in 16th Century starting with Henry VIII and what is called the Elizabethan Era. I also like to read and watch anything and everything about WWII.

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    • Laura says:

      She’s the only one of my kids that would think to do that on the Great Wall and get a picture.

      She started the application process this past week and is looking at several colleges back east, one in the Ivy League (Brown). It’s a very long shot, but has been her “dream college” for the past few years so she’s going to give it a try. Both Brett and I will be so glad when this is over, and we know where she’ll be going to school.

      Besides WWII, I also reading about Japanese social history, especially in the Heian period (794-1195), and Meiji Restoration (1868 – 1926). The dress and social codes in the former are fascinating, as were the rapid changes to society in the later.

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  6. anexactinglife says:

    Enjoy your beach days! It’s wonderful that YaYu did so well academically and while travelling, and that WenYu is having a profitable summer! Is the version of The Long Way Home that you read, the same book the movie Lion was based on?

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    • Laura says:

      YaYu actually took the tests back in May, and has been biting her nails ever since over how she did. Other than one AP test next year, and repeating the ACT in September (she was sick on the last test date) she is done with high-stakes testing (thank goodness). Her high school partners with the local community college, so instead of AP courses she will be taking the same courses through the college (Calculus, Art History, and English Lit) at no cost, and receiving credit.

      Yes, Lion is based on the book A Long Way Home. I would like to see it!

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  7. Vivian Gibson says:

    Congratulations YaYu. Would love to see more of your Chinese photos.

    Because of my family history I have been interested in most of the military history. Ken Burns Civil war series was excellent. My great grandfather and multiple cousins were in the confederacy. My great uncles were in WWI. My uncle was in WWII and my father was in Korea and Vietnam. I always look for him in the documentaries.( with no luck) He was in the gun salute to President Kennedy in Berlin but the photo in the newspaper was too blurred. I only knew it was him because of his height and position and mama pointed him out to me.
    I think most people are interested in WWII because so much of the country was involved in that war and it was probably the most heavily documented by both the Germans and the Allied forces. People keep trying to rewrite history. Like you stated ” if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

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    • Laura says:

      I’ll see if YaYu has some more photos she’d like to share! She really had a terrific time.

      I love the Ken Burns series, and am looking forward to watching his new series about Vietnam this fall. That one may hit much closer to home though – I knew people who served and were permanently affected, and some who didn’t come back. Brett served in the navy during Vietnam, but ended up on a carrier in the Mediterranean and away from that war. I agree with you about WWII – the entire country was affected, and almost every family had someone who served in the war. Plus, as you say, it was the first war that was documented. Have you seen 5 Came Back, the documentary about U.S. filmmakers who served and documented the war? It’s on Netflix and is excellent.

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  8. Kay says:

    With Brown she would be “close” to your other daughter.
    My grandfather was a pilot during WWII, he was shot down by the Germans and spent approximately 7 months in a prison camp. I believe he was still there for over a month after the war ended.
    He is still alive and mentally and physically active for his almost 98 years. I’ve always enjoyed history and have watched and read many things related to the Second World War.

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    • Laura says:

      All the colleges YaYu is considering are in New England – she wants to be close to WenYu if possible. She’s even going to apply at Wellesley!

      That’s wonderful about your grandfather. Our neighbor that spent time in a POW camp (he was shot down too) said it was brutal, and he felt very fortunate to be alive. He was very upset when the show “Hogan’s Heroes” came out, that there was absolutely nothing amusing about living in those camps.

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  9. Kay says:

    Though they’re in the western part of Mass where I live…..Smith, Mt. Holyoke and Williams are great institutions too…(as are so many across our country) best of luck to you all as you go through this again 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      She’s applying to Mt. Holyoke and Amherst; Bryn Mawr too, although it’s in Pennsylvania. I just want this ordeal over though! YaYu can bring the drama, so I think the whole application process is going to be especially tense this time around.

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