My okaasan is a hard worker, and is always doing everything for my family. She wakes everyone up, makes breakfast, cleans up a little, goes to work (3 days a week), goes shopping, does the laundry, makes dinner, cleans the house, serves my otoosan drinks and snacks, and picks up my sister at the station at night. She is very sensitive to my needs, and helps me by speaking Japanese to me (my other host family members speak English to me sometimes).

My otoosan is basically the decision maker. He is retired, and spends time in his "room", which is a study room full of books. He reads Sidney Sheldon novels there and listens to Gershwin, and Beethoven. He likes western food, and has spent a lot of time in America. It is difficult for me to speak Japanese with him, because he keeps speaking English to me. He is the one who corrects me, and explains the differences between western and Japanese rules.

My sister Mari has spent time in Oregon, and speaks English fluently. She has a part time job at the telephone company. She teaches me a lot about little "slang" phrases, but she keeps speaking to me in English. She is the reason I am staying at the Mihara house because she enjoyed her American homestay, so she was interested in having a host sister.

Okaasan's Marathon Day
My host mom never ceases to amaze me. She wakes up early and goes to sleep late. There is one day in particular which gives an example of how much she does for us. I call it the "marathon day," because it began at about 5:00 a.m. and lasted until 1:00 a.m. the next day (20 hrs). We had a day off, so my family thought it would be a good idea to go to Nikko and visit my host mom's brother. She prepared obento (lunches) for our family that morning, with many snacks and drinks for the trip, so she had to wake up early. She went to sleep around 1:00 a.m., so she had very little sleep. Of course, I woke up late and my host sister and I had to get ready in about 10 minutes.

We drove for about 2 hours, and my okaasan provided refreshments and many snacks for us since we skipped breakfast. We reached okaasan's brother's home, and visited for a short time. We left for Toshogu Shrine and walked a lot there. We then drove for another hour and stopped and walked by a lake. We continued to drive up the mountain, stopping at a large lake for lunch. Okaasan provided a large lunch, and cleared an area for us. After lunch otoosan rented a swan-shaped boat and he, Mari, and I paddled on the lake, while my host mom cleaned up our area and did some shopping. We then did more driving and saw Kegan Falls. By this time I was really tired and getting a little sick. Okaasan gave me some aspirin, and did more shopping. My host sister and I were very tired, so we slept until my otoosan got to okaasan's brother's house. Of course, okaasan had to keep otoosan company.

We arrived at the house and okaasan helped with the preparation of the meal. We ate, drank, and sang songs with their laser disc karaoke machine, and okaasan helped clean up. Otoosan fell asleep, and when it was around 11:30 p.m. we said our good-bye's and thank you's and were on our way home. Because otoosan was tired, okaasan had to drive home. While we were still back at okaasan's brother's house, she called her old friends and said that it was too late to visit.

If I had known she wanted to visit her friends, I would gladly have skipped one of our scenic tours. At home, otoosan told me that she wanted to visit friends, and was disappointed that we didn't have time. Otoosan gave her his "ok" and she asked me if it was allright, and she went back to spend the next day with her friends. Before she left, she made sure that we had food and snacks, and that everything was convenient for us. I have never seen anyone so happy about a trip to see friends. I guess this was her "day off" from the family, and I don't think there are very many for her.

Of course, okaasan's day off means Mari (host sister) and Christina's turn to cook and clean, but we only have to do this once in awhile. Okaasan always has to do little things around the house like making sure otoosan isn't hungry, preparing the bath, and (my favorite) making sure otoosan always has the little gold spoon to stir his coffee with, even though there are many utensils out already, and the gold spoon is one arm's-length away. I feel as if I do a lot around my house in L.A. but okaasan does a lot more than me. I appreciate her so much, because at home, I would have to do many of these things for myself. I still do dishes and laundry, but I am getting really spoiled!

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