Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Loot! and...staying away from it

Here's what I occupied myself with while trying to keep my hands off those presents:

I ended up finishing the back of my Minimalist Cardigan-to-be on the 26th and starting the right front the same evening. The right front is going so much faster than that big piece of back fabric! I am a little concerned that I should've taken more length off the pattern, but we'll see how it goes. Hopefully it will be fine, just not the cropped-ish look that's on the model in the magazine. I will be shortening the arms though, I've read a few people's surprised reactions to the sleeve length.
It's hard not to be concerned with the way the back ended up so "slanty". I've also read that that will be fine once it's blocked, but it's still a little unnerving. The front... oh boy... it's fast, but my how that stockinette strip on the front is rolling! Hope that will block out a bit as well.
Anyway, now that I've opened all the presents, I'm still knitting away. I'd love to finish the right front tonight and get going on the left front. I wonder if I can finish both sleeves next week and then maybe I can meet my goal of finishing by my birthday! I'm not looking forward to the seaming though. And, I wanted to do some other crafty projects (and some reorganizing in my classroom) over winter break... which is already half over! Eeek!

Okay, so here's what was in all those boxes under the tree:

Lots of good stuff! Someone who did not know me but looked under our tree would be able to tell the following about me, based solely on my presents: I run and I cook. And that's pretty much it. I got lots of running clothes--including 7 pairs of socks!-- and cookbooks. I got some other goodies too, like some clothes from...the Gap(!!! I haven't been to a Gap in 6 months, but David found one on mainland Japan I guess!), a few other books, a day planner, a special Moose ornament, etc. Santa brought me an ice cream maker! How did you know, Santa? I've been wanting one for 2 and a half years. In fact, I did have one for about 5 minutes once. Five minutes is how long David and I argued in the Linens N Things' parking lot before he guilted me into taking it back and exchanging it for something more practical. But that Santa pulled through for me and brought me the ice cream maker I've been waiting for...and an ice cream cookbook, of course.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Counting Down

It is getting harder and harder to wait for Christmas! Look at all our presents!

I'm so glad we open gifts on Christmas Eve! Some of these presents have been sitting under the tree for almost a month and it's beginning to drive me crazy!!
I've been such a good girl this season and haven't been snooping around the presents. Well, not snooping around the presents as much as usual anyway.
I know exactly where David hid my presents before wrapping them and I never even opened the closet. Although I did have my hand on the doorknob once or twice. But I didn't turn it. You can't really expect me to not know what any of the presents under the tree are, as I can't go all cold turkey and not even touch them, so I know there are a couple spiral bound books and something that comes in one of those large plastic cases that are skinny up at the top and then the item is down toward the bottom. The present I am most confounded by is this large flexible-looking (David yelled for me to stop in my tracks when he saw me headed toward it) rectangle. It's very thin and I almost thought it was one of those desk-blotter-calendar things, but why on earth would I get one of those, since I can't even see the top of my desk anyway.
We've come a long way since our first Christmas here. Although it seems there are fewer presents under this year's tree (or maybe it's because we've graduated to a bigger tree?) if you look carefully at this (low quality, sorry) picture, you might see we had only 12 ornaments in 2005! (We started out with 3, and luckily my family sent out a few more to fill it out!)

We added to our collection and ended up with these ornaments at the beginning of 2006:

And this year before decorating, we had this many:

I love our growing collection of Christmas decorations. I love my new green sparkly tree & golden sleighs. I love my nutcrackers and red and green balls-in-a-bowl. I even love the candles and candle holders I keep getting as Christmas gifts from my students. But most of all, I LOVE my Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Santa (again)

Santa, I need you to clear up a little something for me, please. You see, my students seem to be under the impression that your naughty vs. nice list has been finalized and that the sleigh is packed and ready to go. You wouldn't do that to a first grade teacher when school is still in session, would you Santa?
"The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" doesn't actually start until Friday at 2:30. Until then, it's one of the most migraine-inducing times of the year.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Cruelty of Military Housing

Have I mentioned before that we only have one bathroom? One. Uno. Just one single, solitary bathroom. For 2 people. I don't think I've ever lived somewhere with just one bathroom, always 2 or 3. I'd even prefer summer camp, or campground style...if I had to walk outside to get to the bathroom, it would be better than having only one. On Saturdays we have to plan very carefully, because David is leaving the house for golfing right around the time that I need to leave the house for running group. He takes much longer than me in the bathroom, if you know what I mean, plus he has to shower I guess because you should be clean for golf, while it would be silly to shower right before running.
This morning, I got up early, fully intending to go for a run. But, David got up first, and claimed the bathroom. (I do NOT share bathroom time with anyone. I don't want to go in and pee while someone is brushing their teeth or even in the shower. I did my time in the dorms, that was enough bathroom-sharing for me!) So I had to wait...and wait...and wait. I got dressed in my running clothes, and waited some more. After all that waiting, I decided to check ScrapVillage. By the time David came out of the bathroom, I no longer had time to go for the 6 mile run I had planned. Besides, by that time I was involved in posting on ScrapVillage! So I decided to check my e-mail. And write this blog entry. And now I have no time to go for that run, even a less-than-six mile run, and I woke up at 5:08 for nothing. At least my running clothes are still clean...

**I know it may sound as though I'm irritated with David for taking so much time in the bathroom, but I'm not. I understand that he has to brush his teeth, shave, shower, and the paper...before work. I am irritated with the housing office for thinking it's okay to assign people (even people with a child--that's 3 people!) to live in a place with just one bathroom!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Blog Meme

Here's a little survey from my latest internet addiction, the Sew, Mama, Sew! Blog.


* Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give? Last year the gift I loved giving these beautiful Japanese Christmas ornaments. I went to the gift shop today and had to restrain myself from buying more...for the same people. I didn't buy one for myself last year, so I bought one for myself today. And I bought one for this month's bunco.
* If you’re making gifts this year, what are you making? (Post photos if you have some!) I've been very inspired by many of the things on the Sew Mama Sew tutorials, and have a few knitting projects in the works, but not sure I'll have time to make them AND get them shipped out. They might be "Christmas in July" gifts instead!
* Do you have any good stories about handcrafted gifts you’ve given or received? I don't know... last year I made this Joy wall-hanging as a party favor, and a 6th grade teacher thought it was so cool that she decided to have her whole class make something similar as their Christmas gift project.

* Do you have any great gift compilation ideas (a grouping of gifts just perfect for certain recipients?)Most of my great gift compilation ideas are for myself, or for bridal showers, but not really for Christmas. I went to a bridal shower once where the b/g were registered for a few movies. I got them a ceramic bowl, some microwave popcorn, a few DVDs, and a Blockbuster gift card. If I liked the couple more I might have included a blanket of some sort.
* Name one thing on your personal wish list. If I can wish for anything, it would be an embroidery machine. More realistically, one item on my wish list is Bend the Rules Sewing (just one?!?! that's hard...good thing my letter to Santa is below!)
* Do you make and sell things that would make fantastic gifts? (Link)No, but I should... maybe when I'm not a full-time first grade teacher.


* What is your favorite family holiday tradition? My favorite family holiday tradition is taking a nap at 9pm and waking up around midnight to hear the sleighbells. Then Santa comes in and opens presents with my whole wonderful family. I haven't gotten to spend Christmas with my family in a few years, and it's not the same anymore anyway because they don't usually meet on actual Christmas Eve. : (
* Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up? David and I hang the same first 3 ornaments every time. We do our decorating the day after Thanksgiving (I don't remember if we did that when I was a kid, because we used to get a real tree).
* What do you love most about the holiday season? Everything! But very most, the snow! Egg nog is a close second. The music and decorations... I could go on and on.
* What do you like least about the holiday season? The lines at the post office.
* Anyone close to your heart that you’ll be missing this year? Everybody! David and I are spending our second Christmas in a row alone together.
* What is your favorite holiday food? Does Egg Nog count as a food?
* Do you have a great recipe to share?Sure, this fudge is super-easy and gets lots of compliments wherever it goes.
2 packages (8 squares each) Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped nuts or toasted coconut (or not)
Microwave chocolate & milk in bowl 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring halfway through heating time. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in vanilla and nuts (I don't like nuts in my fudge!). Spread in foil lined 8x8 pan (I think I actually use a 9x13) Refrigerate 2 hours until firm. Cut into squares and try to share!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dear Santa

I have been a very good girl this year. Here is my Christmas list:

Some dri-fit athletic tops for running... some of my favorites come from Wal-mart where they are called "Dri-More" and I think they are the brand Athletic Works. I don't like the tight ones, just the normal t-shirt kind, but not good ol' t-shirt fabric. I graduated to dri-fit after I noticed that fresh out of the washer, my running t-shirts smelled like I had already run 5 miles. Size small.

I also like running shorts size small. But only if they have at least one pocket, preferably either inside the waist-band, on the back of the waist-band, or anywhere else with a zipper.

Bend the Rules Sewing

50 Baby Booties to Knit

Everyday Italian (or Everyday Pasta)

Scarf Style

My favorite running socks.


KnitPicks Options & Harmony Options in sizes 4, 5, 13, 15 and 17.

The cutest little measuring tape I've ever seen!

Some gorgeous stitch markers.


Love, Elsie sb supplies: Roxie and Toby

Stampin' Up goodies:

Simple Snowman

Jolliest Time of the Year

Big on Christmas

Block Party

Fun & Fast Notes


Fabulous Flowers

Wing It

Short & Sweet

Card stock- Whisper White, In Color colors, Certainly Celery
Designer Series Paper- Outlaw, Wintergreen, Dashing, Linen Prints, Groovy Guava Prints
Photo Corners Punch, Tag Punch, Round Tab Punch

I know that seems like a lot, Santa, but remember, I have been very good. Very good. And my birthday is just a few weeks after Christmas, so while you're in the neighborhood...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Red Yarn Strikes Again

Remember this? Or this?
I've written about this red yarn before... it's been a lot of different things, and none have made me happy. Today it took on another identity:

It's not a super picture of it because I had to catch David and make him take it right before he fell asleep for a nap. I'm so proud of myself because a-I started this hat last night and finished it today and b-I actually used a pattern from one of the magazines I recently bought. So now I think I deserve another one!
The hat is from KnitSimple magazine, it's not perfect, but it's mine and I'm happy with it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Knit 1, Putt 2. Or: Putt, Putt, Pout.

David thought it would be "fun" to go golfing together. As if that doesn't sound bad enough, he entered us in a tournament. Um, sure, I went to golf lessons before and I was the best in the class. Well, maybe I wasn't the best in the class, but I was the teacher's favorite... that could've been because I was the best, or it could have been because I knitted him a golf club cover. With a pom pom on top! I guess I don't have pictures on this computer, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it is absolutely FABULOUS! Anyway, I am better with pointy metal sticks than I am with big long ones. So a golf tournament did not have me very excited.
I hate the feeling of people behind me waiting for me to hit the ball into that dumb little cup. I really hate not being good at something, and having witnesses there to see it too. I can't stand the pressure, and then that just makes it worse. Same thing happens to me in bowling, that's why it is possible (and dare I say, probable) for me to bowl anywhere between a 22 and a 35. Sure, I had a few decent hits, but I have no muscle memory and can't replicate the good that I did. That's why my first hole I was excited to get it in with only 4 or 5 hits (on a par 3) and the second hole took me 7. I stopped counting on the third hole after 7 and ended up kicking my ball into the hole. I didn't touch a club for the rest of the evening after that. I just carried my dumb little glowing ball (it was an unlit night tournament and I have to admit the glowstick stuff did look a little bit cool...but not enough to make me uncrabby) for the next 4 holes. Almost every one of my first graders can tell you that 3 holes plus 4 holes does not equal 9 holes. That's because it equals 7 holes. By the time we reached the seventh hole (which was actually the first hole of the course, but we were assigned to start at the 3rd) I found a bench that was fairly well lit by the clubhouse lights and pulled out my knitting project. I let my team handle the last 2 themselves.
I know what you're thinking, "that's not being a good sport!" But if you had been there, against your will, doing something you're not good at, in the freezing (okay maybe 70 degrees, but it was dark and there were heavy winds...that calls for a parka or at least a cardigan!) cold, with David (who is not as enjoyable when he's golfing as he is during other normal interaction), his little buddy, the buddy's 18 year old girlfriend (who decided to take part in the costume contest portion of the evening as a scantily clad Alice in Wonderland), and her mother (who was making weird comments about the daughter's boyfriend's butt), AND missing Survivor, you'd have been a poor sport too.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Good news...Bad news

The good news is, I'm finally updating my blog.
The bad news is, I really don't have anything to talk about.

Good news: we decided to buy a massage chair!
Bad news: the only one they had at the furniture store was broken.

Good news: there's only 1611 people in front of me in the Ravelry line!
Bad news: the line hasn't moved an "inch" since Friday at 7:42 p.m.

Good news: I finished a knitting project (well, half a knitting project)
Bad news: I got new, better-for-this-project yarn and had to start over.
Good news: I'm almost halfway finished with the project again!

Good news: My new cleaning/internet time management project is still in place and is somewhat effective.
Bad news: I still possess an inherent ability to make messes faster than I can clean them, sometimes without even being conscious of the fact that I'm making one.

Good news: I timed my every-other-monthly empty light turn-on perfectly... it came on while David was driving my car yesterday!
Bad news: He didn't take the bait and now I'll have to pump gas myself.

Good news: There's Christmas presents for me, in this house, and I know exactly where they are!
Bad news: They're in a closet that seemed to be where the cockroaches would go hiding in last spring and I'm too scared to open it.

Okay...that's all for now. (Bad news: I need to leave for work. Double-bad news: It's MONDAY!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2 birds...1 stone

I have 2 problems. Well, I'm sure I have more than 2 problems, but I have 2 problems that I am willing to admit and willing to work on.
My first problem is that I do not like to clean. I know that most people do not particularly like to clean, but they do it anyway. I do not like to clean, and I guess my life philosophy has been "if you don't like it, don't do it". And you know what? Being a messy person doesn't even bother me. I don't mind turning around and looking at the tower of scrapbook supplies built on my scrap table. In fact, I kind of enjoy the challenge of trying to remove the item I want to use from the bottom third of the pile. (Remember, I am not much of a risk this kind of risk is perfect for me; I get my little "rush" and if I fail, the stuff falls on the floor, oh well!) It doesn't bother me too much to go through the pile of clothes on and in front of my dresser and smell something so I can decide if it was supposed to go in the laundry basket or in the closet.
But then there's David. I am Oscar to his Felix...only we are not quite as hilarious. And I think I'm a little bit prettier than Walter Matthau. So, even though I am content with my "problem" it presents a problem.

My other problem... (and if you're reading this blog, this may very well be your problem too!) is that I spend way too much time on the internet. But I recognize that, and I think that's the first step in dealing with the problem. There's just so much interesting stuff to look at! There's my e-mail (okay, not usually so interesting), ScrapVillage, knitting patterns, recipes, crossword puzzles, news articles, song lyrics, funny youtube videos, etc. And, once I get in Ravelry...oh boy. That will be a real time-sucker.

So, how do I propose to minimize these problems? I thought of this idea, and for 2 days, it has worked. In the afternoon when I come home from school, I must do one chore...fold laundry, put away laundry, file papers, clean off the living room tables, vacuum, put away dishes, etc. BEFORE I can allow myself to go on the internet. If I just left it at that, it would improve one of my problems. I'd be doing a chore every day! But no... I want to spend less time on the internet as well... so when I am on the computer after doing my chore, I'm only allowed to visit...hold onto your socks... ONE website! Then, if I want to go to another one, I have to go do another chore. So far, I've washed dishes, folded laundry, put away laundry, put away dishes, hung up a pile of clothes that was in front of my closet (and clothes that had fallen off their hangers into the closet), cleaned off the living room tables, cleaned off the living room chairs and couch (I told you I'm messy!) So, I'm doing more chores, so I can spend time on the computer, but I also reach a point where the lack of desire to clean something overcomes the desire to surf the 'net.
But don't worry...I've decided that my new lifestyle doesn't apply on weekends. Or mornings. Or holidays.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Moving on up!

I know my readers don't know what Ravelry is, but I've moved up almost 6,000 places in line (in 2 weeks) and only 14,101 to go! I might be "in" by Halloween!
I'm trying to hold off on buying any new knitting books or yarns until I'm "in" because Ravelry will really help me pair yarns with projects. I'm so excited to get in and learn more about what you can do with Ravelry... so far all I know is what I've heard from those who are already in and from what I've seen on the video tour (which I've watched at least 3 times!)
Since last week, I've knitted one wacky-looking baby bootie (I needed to borrow my friend's baby to model it just to make sure it looked more like a booty on an actual does) and a few rows on a doll poncho. I think a doll poncho may be one of the popular projects for knitting club. It's easy, it's basic, and I *think* some 8-13 year old girls still play with dolls! Even if it doesn't work out at knitting club, I want to knit a few up to contribute to my aunt's doll clothes "trunk show". As an added bonus, I can say I'm knitting a "sample" for knitting club and count my time knitting towards my required 20-39 hours for my club stipend!
Since I mentioned knitting club, I should explain that that's the after-school club I'm going to be sponsoring this year instead of scrapbooking club. I had my knitting projects with me a few times at SB club last year and the girls were fascinated and started pestering me about a knitting club. So I asked my administrator and, though he had a lot of doubts ("I don't know... do you think there's many kids that want to knit?") he let me write it up and give it a shot...with the stipulation that if I didn't get at least 10 kids to join, I'd have to change it to SB club. Well, my club was the first to fill up...23 kids and more have been wait-listed! I heard my admin tell our new assistant principal, "the kids really like her...she could have a sitting club and kids would join it!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kids & Lizards...can't decide which is grosser.

Yesterday there was a baby gecko cowering in the corner of the girls bathroom in my classroom. There was much crawling on the floor and speculation as to whether or not the thing was dead.
Finally a little girl's hand emerged from the bathroom, holding the gecko. She pronounced him dead, and I (stupidly) told her to put him in the garbage can and wash her hands.
About an hour later, I was reading with a small group when I hear a small of the boys in the class took the dead gecko from the garbage can and was playing with it. By the time I figured out who the culprit was, he had put the gecko in his pocket! A little bit wiser by this time, I told him to put the gecko outside (our classroom door opens up right to the outdoors, no enclosed hallways at our school) and watched him do it. When he came back in, I heard him explaining adamantly to the others that the gecko was, in fact, alive...he wasn't moving, but his eyes were open.
Shortly thereafter, we left for specials. When I walked back, I looked in the grass where I swear I saw him put the gecko...and it was gone! I find myself wondering if that little sneaky boy picked it back up and put it in his pocket when I wasn't looking (maybe he feigned tying his shoe or something?) or...if it really was alive! Do geckos play possum? I know they stand very still when they sense they're being watched, but I wonder if it could really be so...lifeless...while being handled by a bunch of 6 year olds!

A New Obsession

Hey, Knitters...
Have you heard of Ravelry yet? Of course you probably have, especially if you're one of the 18,000+ people ahead of me on the waiting list. I'm beginning to wonder if it will even be possible for me to visit Ravelry MORE often once I'm finally invited than I do now. I've watched the video tour quite a few times, and check my place in line at least 8 times since Sunday night! I even just spent an entire 42 minutes listening to the Ravelry honchos talk about it on a podcast. Perhaps instead of obsessing over when I will get in, I should start knitting. Since I have no new project photos since I'm entirely more concerned with the prospect of being invited to a knitting website than with actually knitting anything, I'll leave you with a few images of my old ones...
This is my latest, finished this past August.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Random Thoughts on...Handkerchiefs

It seems strange to be thinking of handkerchiefs, but if you've been sick for the past 4-5 days and blown your way through two whole boxes of Kleenex, you might start thinking of strange things too.
My grandma and my dad have always had handkerchiefs (or "hankies" as my grandma says). My dad's are plain white, and my grandma has lots of little cute ones. I'm sure she's even given some to me, although I recall that they ended up being used as Barbie quilts rather than their intended purpose.
But this morning, when I was spending time in my "best thinking spot" (the shower), I started to think about the merits of handkerchiefs. Are they better for the environment or not? (less use of trees, but more use of water to wash them) Are they softer on your nose? (I go through a lot of Kleenex during the day in my classroom and most of my class parents don't buy the extra soft, extra cost kind) And, it'd be so much better to run with a handkerchief when I'm sick like this--it wouldn't disintegrate like a kleenex, has less chance of undesirable results than a "snot rocket", and seems more refined than using the bottom of my t-shirt.
But what do you do with all that snot? If you put it in the washer, does the snot get on your other clothes? Or do you rinse it off first? And how pleasant can it be to unfold an often-used hankie at the end of the day to shake or rinse the snot out?
Ok...this blog entry has definitely taken a turn for the worst, so I think I better stop now before I get carried away. Besides, I need to blow my nose.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


I missed out on my first "TGIF" opportunity last night. (Why did I miss it? Oh, probably because I was asleep by 8:26 last night... a late night for me as I've been out by 8 every other night this week!) The first week of school is over! I can barely believe I made it.
It's funny how I forget each year what exactly the students will be like in August. When I sent away my 1st graders at the end of last year, they were "all grown up"... they could all tie their shoes, they could all sit for long periods of time, they could all READ, they all knew how to raise their hands and wait to be called on, how to put a paper into a folder, how to choose a new pencil if theirs was broken, how to tell time instead of asking me "what time is lunch? what time is it now?"... those were not the same students who had shown up last August, and the students who showed up on Monday can't do any of the above either. They are kindergarten babies! One girl even sucks her thumb!!
I asked a colleague of mine--she taught multi-age with me at the end of last year and took the second grade spot after I decided to go with first grade--how hard she thought our principal would laugh if I went in his office and told him I changed my mind... I want 2nd grade after all!
Oh well... it's just 'til January. By January, the students will finally be first graders instead of kindergarteners. They'll know that they need a spoon to eat applesauce at lunch time and how to turn on the bathroom light. And after that... it's just 'til June!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Never. Ever. Never.

As this is one of my favorite entries (this one was a close second!) I decided to link it up with Tip Junkie's Talk to Me Tuesdays! Read other blogger's favorite posts here!

On the bus on my way to Mount Fuji, I thought I would title this blog entry "Fuji-licious". But then, I started the climb, and the words that stuck with me the entire way up were, "Never, never, NEVER again will I ever do this, ever in my whole entire life"! Anyone who says "never say never" obviously hasn't climbed Mt. Fuji... and if you haven't, take my advice, NEVER do it!

It was not fun. It was not easy. It was an experience, and I'm glad I can always say that I did it. Although, next time I want to do something just so I can say I did it, I'll just say I did it. It was miserable, exhausting, and for the majority of the time, downright frightening. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

If you're ever considering doing something that requires you to meet up for a 2.5 hour bus ride at 2:30 a.m., reconsider. We took the bus from our hotel to Mount Fuji station 5 (this is where "everybody" begins the climb) and arrived there about 5 a.m. We bought our Mt. Fuji walking stick (just one... it ended up costing about 4000 Yen --a little under $40 bucks-- by the time the trip was over, plus most of the time I didn't want to carry it anyway) and started what I now refer to the worst 12 hours and 13 minutes of my life at 5:15.

(0500-at station 5)

It started out like a walk in the park, literally...there were trees, gravel paths; it was lovely, really lovely. I made the mistake of thinking "this isn't bad at all" and continuing on.

(0523-8 minutes into our trek)
Before we got our first "stamp" which was really a brand on our walking stick, the path started getting steeper. We made it to station 7 for the first brand by about 6:30 or maybe earlier. There were quite a few station 7s--I guess they were like station 7, station 7 and a quarter, station 7 and a half, station 7 and 3 quarters, station 7 and 7 eighths, etc. before actually reaching station 8. Station 8 was a big deal to reach... we were told to turn around if we hadn't reached Station 8 by 1:30. We got there by 8 a.m. or so and figured we were doing awesome. Little did we know that there were 4 more station 8s and the terrain leading to the one we needed to be focused on was super rocky.

(0630-our first "stamp")

(0730-already at 3,000 meters...only a little more than 7 hundred to go. Let me tell you, 700 meters up a mountain cannot be compared to "not even 2 laps around an outdoor track" no matter how hard you want to believe it. 3000 meters is almost 2 miles.)

(0750-our 2nd stamp)
I hated every moment of the climb, especially the rocky parts, which was the majority of it. I practically crawled up the whole thing because I was so afraid not to hold onto the rocks. Several times, I tried to envision what I would look like if I slipped and scraped my face on the huge rocks I was climbing up. I moved pretty quickly on the steep uphills, but lost a whole lot of time on those rocks... I try to be very deliberate about the placement of my feet, especially when I'm on the side of a 12,000 foot high mountain with rocky terrain. I was definitely more exhausted mentally than physically. I kept on saying I was a nervous wreck (I get that from my grandma, I guess). We don't have any pictures from that portion of the journey because I was basically too terrified to let go of the mountain long enough to get the camera out of David's bag! At one point, we had to travel across a ledge along the side of one of the stations and I nearly had a nervous breakdown... I do NOT like heights (so why on earth would I desire to climb this mountain????) I had tears in my eyes but realized that if I turned around I wouldn't be able to go down "the easy way"...more on that in a few minutes. So I just held onto anything I could and inched my way across the ledge.

(0913-by this time, we were above the clouds... I noted that I usually only like to be above clouds when I am in an airplane---with my safety belt on!)
As we got closer to the top, we took more and more little stop and rest breaks. The terrain kept getting worse and the hill kept getting steeper, and somehow even though I knew that with every single step I was getting closer to the top, it kept seeming further and further away! The air was getting thinner and David's backpack (he carried the gear for both of us!) I'm sure kept feeling heavier and heavier.

(1205-the view from the summit)

(1215-dirty hands, stamped stick, stressed-out climber!)
It ended up taking us 6 hours and 50 minutes to get to the summit. And I was okay with that (I had lost my competitive edge hours ago) Once we got up there, we sat and waited a while for friends we met on the tour, Cynthia and Pinky, to meet up with us. Then we all had a photo shoot/picnic/nap for about 2 hours before heading back down. That was, by far, the most enjoyable part of the day!
There's a huge crater up there that everyone was raving about. I stood near it long enough for a photo, but had visions of myself being knocked over by a gust of wind and tumbling down.

(1250-David and I at the crater...the photo does not do it justice!)
Coming down the mountain was absolutely horrifying. I really wonder why on earth I decided to climb Mount Fuji! I know that I'm afraid of heights (or moreso of the idea of falling from them).

(1425-the people behind us as we began our descent)
Anyway, I was terrified because there were no fences, lots of slippery rock, and steep declines. I was traveling, oh...about 2 feet per hour when David decided it would be in our best interest to hold my hand all the way down. We wonder if we're the only couple to hold hands the entire way down the mountain. We also had to switch sides on every switchback so he'd be on the outside. If we hadn't, I still might be slowly inching my way down! We had so many rocks in our shoes it was nearly unbearable.

(1430-still headed down the mountain with Cynthia and Pinky)
And, to prove that mountain climbing and high altitudes make you absolutely delirious, when we were heading back to station 5, we had to go back UPhill...and were glad about it!

(1713-so close to the finish!)

(1728-We did it...and we'll NEVER do it again!)
I have never been more dirty in my entire life. I had a dirt moustache, dirty spots on my cheeks, dark legs, grey hair, the lines in my palms were completely black, and when I took off my socks, there was dirt caked around my toenails. Since I think I've already surpassed the "12" for this "12 of 12", I'll go ahead and add 2 more of my dirty face after the climb, and one of my dirty washcloth after my shower (after midnight since we had to wait 2 hours after the bus was supposed to leave since some ladies were too slow but we all --well, almost all of us-- felt too bad to leave them)

(1745-covered in dirt!)

(0030- can you tell which washcloth I used?)

Gosh, this all sounds so incredibly negative, doesn't it? I just wanted to be brutally honest, because I know in a few days my calves will no longer be sore and I'll gaze lovingly at my Mt. Fuji walking stick and think "gee, that was really great". I want to be able to look back at this blog entry and think "we EARNED that walking stick!" Really, it was horrible, it was a long day and definitely one of the most difficult things (especially mentally!) that I've ever done. But it was beautiful and when I finished I really did feel like I accomplished something big. I'm sure I'll be looking back at this experience in the (distant?) future and feel proud and really glad that I didn't miss this opportunity!

(Fuji from the plane... yeah, we climbed that!)
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