Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hubby's Birthday

In January we get to celebrate daddy's birthday (on the 19th). This year it fell on a Saturday. The Friday before the kids and I went to Ginza and did some birthday shopping for daddy. We bought him some cuff links along with a nice pen for work. Then we made him a Mickey Mouse shaped cake because you know that is what he asked for and decorated it with all of our favorite colors for icing - orange for daddy, blue for mama, pink and purple for Miss M, and yellow for the K Man, or K Buddy Man as his sister likes to call him. The kids ensured that daddy did not get to sleep in too much on his birthday. Miss M was ready to play Hide and Go Daddy by 8AM for his birthday party games. I seriously think we played that for about a hour. She LOVES it. We ate birthday cake and then mama took the kids to the park so daddy could get a little nap in before dinner out. We enjoyed dinner out with our friends from Australia. I have talked at random about these two families, but not really at length. They have become some of our dearest friends here in Tokyo. We are so blessed to have met them. It is so nice when the mamas like each other, the papas like each other and the kids enjoy each other. We have traveled with them and spent many evenings in their company both with and without children. So, for the hubby's birthday we met them for dinner at a fabulous tsukiyaki/shabu-shabu restaurant in the Maranouchi Buildings. We paid a pretty penny for the meal, but it was one of the best meals I have had in Tokyo, and that is saying a lot because the food here in general is pretty fabulous. The restaurant is originally from Kyoto and has one branch in Tokyo, so hubby chose it to get back to his "roots." In Kentucky, we always went to a Japanese restaurant with friends to celebrate his birthday. He figured since we were already in Japan, we would try a Kyoto based restaurant. I wish I had taken my camera and gotten pictures of the food. The presentation was beautiful and the waitresses dressed in traditional kimonos as they prepared our food at the table. It was so nice to catch up with our friends from Australia and enjoy a fine meal together. I am already looking forward to our next date night out in March with them and the several fun family activities we have planned for February. Y'all are the best! The pictures are of Miss M and hubby being silly together with the camera.

Scrapbook Day January 13, 2013

With a new year comes a new Scrapbook day. This year, January 13th fell on a Sunday. It was our first Sunday back to our church in Tokyo and we got to try the new building out as a family. I love our new building. It has a room for childcare and is much more open and spacious with plenty of room for us to grow. It was great to see people who I had missed over 6 weeks and get back into the swing of things with life in Tokyo. Miss M went to the childrens church for the first time rather than nursery. She sat with us for the beginning of worship, then had childrens church, and came back to find us at the end. She did this while in America and enjoyed it so I thought she would be ready for it here in Tokyo. She seemed to really like it. After this big activity we were ready to call it a day and head home as we were still fighting jet lag a bit and just physically tired from our trip. As I think about the New Year, I do not have any resolutions. Reason being is I never complete them so I figure why start them. I had a friend blog about picking a word for the year. I thought that was pretty interesting. As I was thinking through my word, the one that came to me was "intentional." I want the things I do to be intentional, have purpose and meaning...from the food I eat to the places I go to the people I hang out with. I want my words to have purpose, my actions to have purpose, and to really be intentional with each day and how I spend my time. One way I have been trying to do this is with my free time in the evenings. Normally I just vegetate in front of the tv once I put the kids to bed, but I have been trying to be more intentional - spend less time in front of the tv and more time with a book or my needlepoint and some nice music in the background. I find when I do this I relax a bit more and I am not falling asleep on the couch and having to move to the bed at midnight, so I get a better nights sleep by starting and ending in my own bed. Also, I go to bed earlier when I do not watch tv. Now, do not get me wrong, when the hubby is home, we catch up on some of our favorite shows. Over Christmas he bought an Ipad (it was my Christmas gift from Santa, but I am sure you can all guess who has used it more than me) and set up Apple TV. It is pretty amazing what it can do and the shows we have access to now. We are enjoying catching up on The Office and Modern Family. But when he is not home, which is often the case at night because of the late nights he works, I try not to turn it on unless it is for the endless supply of music. So, here is to the year 2013...I have no idea what the big picture holds for us this year, but I do hope that I can be more intentional with my day to day living. (The picture is of the kids playing hide and seek, a favorite game in our house, along with Hide and Go Miyako, a game Miyako made up with her second cousin where she hides and then has to run to a new hiding spot before she is caught.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fox/Maulden/Kawashima Christmas 2012

Here are some pictures of Christmas Day, 2012. When we celebrate Christmas in Little Rock, it is an all day affair. We start the morning with stockings and laugh at all of the gag gifts you may find in your stocking. This year it was the Fragile lamp stress release toy from The Christmas Story. From stockings we move into the living room and open gifts one at a time. Remember, there are a lot of us. We usually do not start this until noon. We are lucky if we eat by 8PM because somewhere between opening gifts we have to cook the big meal. Not sure how we even pulled that off this year, but we did. It is chaos - wrapping everywhere, people everywhere, laughing everywhere...and we love it. Enjoy the pics. Sadly I did not get one family picture on Christmas day. Oh well.

Little Rock, Arkansas

The final spot we stayed in was Little Rock, Arkansas. Husband's American sister and her family live here and we spend Christmas and New Years at their house every year, that is until we moved to Tokyo. We broke up the 8 hour car ride by having a pit stop at friends in Nashville. Again, I got to see an old roommate from Minsk, Belarus, an old friend from church, and we spent the night with Kan's friends from high school who invited his college pastor over for dinner. Lots of fellowship and connecting with old friends. We really could not be more blessed. We left Nashville in good spirits, thinking 5 hours will be much more doable than 8, in one day. Turns out our trip took 9 hours due to construction and traffic. I was ready for a glass of wine when we finally pulled up to the Foxxden. We rolled in around 9PM I think, and within 15 minutes, we lost our children, in a good way. They were being entertained and taken care of by their cousins. The K Man loved his cousin Kerry. He would follow him everywhere and wanted to be doing what he was doing. At times you would hear Kerry say, "I need a break." I laughed...welcome to my world kid! :) Our kids had so much fun here, in spite of us losing power for 5 days. They played their hearts out. When we left Miss M wanted to hug Kerry first, and then the rest of her cousins. We went to the park nearby their house. We drove and looked at Christmas lights once the power came back on. We played games, most of them by candlelight or flashlight. In spite of no power, we ate well and all came back with a few extra pounds around the hips. The kids loved their plasma cars and due to the noise they make, I am glad we brought them out on our last day there. Although we are debating on getting some here in Tokyo and letting them ride them around the hallway outside. They were a huge hit and so much fun. We made cookies, once the power came back on, with Nana and cousin Shelbs. Even in Little Rock, I got to visit with a college roommate who was about to pop with her third baby when I went to her house for some tea. Still sad my trip half way to Dallas to meet my cyberspace friend M did not happen due to inclement weather and me being just worn out from all of the traveling...but I know there will be a day when we do finally meet. More family from Memphis came to visit us for the day...they chose to leave their heated homes and hang out with us without heat just to see us. So sweet. And finally, Miss M got to play in the snow...thanks to the ice storm of 2012. She LOVED the snow and I am glad Kan LOVES the snow because it means he will play with her outside and I can stay inside warm (except this time I stayed inside, cold. :) On Christmas day we noticed the trees starting to get covered in ice. They all started remembering back to the ice storm of 2000, I think it was, when they lost power over Christmas. Well, at 3:37 Christmas day the power went out. We sure did pick the right year to come home. Thankfully we had already cooked the ham and turkey and were able to finish the side dishes at a friends house and on the Foxxden grill. By God's grace we salvaged Christmas dinner and food to eat on for a few more days. The power did not come back on until the night of the 30th, while we were eating dinner via candlelight. We all heard the timer on the oven going off and thought, "what is that." Then everyone looked at each other, Kim turned the light on, and we all shouted "POWER!" It was glorious. Looking back on it, it was not that bad. We had a fireplace, hot water, and lots of blankets. The worst part was getting out of bed in the morning. We went out to eat one night just to eat in heat and with light. Another night friends from church had us over for Mexican at their lovely home. Wouldn't you know the minute we pull into the driveway, they lost power. Thankfully it came back on a little bit later. In hindsight you can always see the situation a little better than what you can in reality. Without power we could not log in to the internet or watch tv and play video games. We had to sit around and talk and play games which we have no problem doing. We were limited in our games due to the lack of light but we still played and had fun. We never went hungry. And we were with people we love, which is the most important thing. However, do not get me wrong, when the power came back on I was not thinking to myself, "oh, I wish it would go off again." What a memorable Christmas it was in Little Rock this year. Hopefully it will not happen for another 10 years and the Foxxden will have a generator by then. :) Thank you Fox's for a fabulous Christmas! It was so fun to be with y'all! We love you.

Knoxville, TN

So, if you have been following this blog, you know I am in the midst of detailing our wonderful trip to the US. I left off with us leaving Lexington, Kentucky for Knoxville, TN! We traded the big blue for the big orange. The husband was in hog heaven. I think he wanted to get lost in downtown Knoxville one day just so he could drive me by Neyland Stadium a couple of hundred times. We spent 4 nights and five days there on our first leg, drove to Little Rock, Arkansas for Christmas and New Year, and spent another week in Knoxville before flying back to Tokyo. I will combine the Knoxville time into one blog piece. This was the first time Nana and Opah got to meet the K Man. They were thrilled to say the least. Nana and Opah also have a large yard like Grandma and Papaw so the kids were thrilled playing in the yard. In fact, the neighbors next door raise their own chickens so the kids thought that was fun. The K Man learned how to say "chickie." The kids had their first adventure to an American library. We do not go to the library much here in Tokyo, but if I lived in America I think I would be there weekly for the story times. We could walk to the local one from Nana and Opah's so that was fun. We also took the kids to the grocery store. You would have thought it was Disneyland. Miss M loved driving the big car grocery cart. Yes, I was that woman. I even took a picture and this lady was staring at me. My MIL told her this was our first time for the car grocery carts since we lived in Tokyo. Every time we passed that lady in Kroger she started smiling. Miss M would get out of the grocery cart car and pretend to fill it up with gas. When we left the grocery store she asked if we could go back the next day. She was very concerned about the gas in our car on this trip, asking if we were on E or F, and when we were going to get gas. Kan and I were able to get away to Ashville one night and meet our pre-marital mentors/dear friends for dinner. That was an amazing night - so refreshing and nice to catch up with them. Love love love them! Kan's American brother lives nearby in Knoxville so we spent lots of time with his family and the newest baby in our family. I am a great Aunt now. Miss M was in LOVE with baby Lily. She wanted her to visit us every day and she would always bring her Minnie near baby Lily and share it with her. It was really sweet, considering when the K Man was born, she did not want much to do with him. We enjoyed lunch with Kan's best friend from high school and his wife. I got to meet and hang out with some of his other friends from high school whom I have recently gotten to know through facebook. During our last weekend there, family came from NC to visit us. We had so much fun playing games, eating, and watching our kids play together. The kids got along really well and we even had a skype date with them since we have been back. Miss M did not want her cousin to have to go to bed. She wanted her to stay on skype. I was blessed to get to visit with two of my bridesmaids while in Knoxville. One lives nearby so she drove up about a hour with her three kids to see us. The other was passing through on her way home to New Jersey so we had breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. These are two of my dearest friends so it meant a lot to me that I got some small nugget of time with them and their kids. Nana and Opah loved us well during our visit. The kids picked acorns in their yard. Opah played endless games of Hungry Hippo with Miss M, and was such a gracious sport considering she made a stink every time his hippo won! Every night at dinner the K Man wanted to "cheers" his milk with Opah. It was so cute. We had lots of tea parties with lots of sugar getting spilled on the table cloth. They made us some of our favorite meals. The fondest memories were our late night chats after the kids went to bed. It would be 1AM and we would have to force ourselves to go to sleep. Thank you Nana and Opah for such a great time and letting us invade your home. We love you so very much.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Scrapbook Day 12/12/2012

On Wednesday December 12th of 2012 we were in Lexington, Kentucky. This was the day daddy arrived from Tokyo, so YAY! We were all super excited. However when we woke up in the morning the K Man had a horrible cough and was up half the night unable to breathe. Rather than going to BSF, I took him to the doctor. I was pretty bummed because I was really looking forward to BSF in the US. Oh well. Doctor gave him some medicine and within 24 hours he was better. My Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Danny drove down from Ohio to see us. It was great to visit with them. My Uncle Danny is a great baker so he baked my favorite mint chocolate chip cookies and helped Miss M decorate her sugar cookies, along with Grandma. Phyllis and I played with the K Man and chatted away. Miss M and I went to pick up Daddy from the airport. I wish I had taken a picture of the kids when Kan walked through the door. They were climbing on him like he was a monkey gym and just wanted to be held constantly by daddy. They were so happy to see him, and so was I! We let Daddy settle into bed and work since he still had to work while in the US for part of the trip, said goodbye to Phyllis and Danny, and did the evening routine - dinner, baths, bedtime stories. Just another day...no wait a minute...we were in America!

Hill Family Christmas 2012

I was not sure how to divide these posts for our trip. If I really wanted to take lots of time, I would do each event individually - like a post about decorating gingerbread houses, a post about girls night out, a post about being back at the gym. My super blog friend M, she would do that. She is good at it. She is patient. I, on the other hand, am tired. I kind of just want to update the blog on the trip in general. Then I want to go back and mentally process the trip, and I imagine I will be doing that for quite some time. So, for now, I am dividing the blog posts about the big trip into one post about most of the individual trips within the big trip, and then individual family Christmas posts. Because let's face it, Christmas is fun and there are always lots of pictures, and Christmas with little kids is really fun. We had our Hill Family Christmas on Saturday December 15th. My brother and sister along with their families came to Lexington for the day. My mom had the great idea of getting a photographer to come in and take a family portrait since all of us were there. Sadly my kids did not cooperate as much as I would have liked for them to, but we still got some good photos nonetheless. I think the last time we did this was at our wedding 7 years ago, so we were long overdue for a family photo. After the photos, we ate, watched UK basketball, naturally, and when the K Man woke up, opened presents. For Miss M, the highlight, was walking my sister's dog. She loved that dog and kept asking why it slept so much. Well, it "slept" so much because we were not too sure how she would do with little hands trying to pet her all the time or grab her tail (K Man), but when she did wake up from those long naps in the basement, Miss M and the K Man, were in dog heaven. They loved her. I was able to have some quality conversations with my siblings while the kids were entertained with cousins. They loved playing chase with their cousins and Miss M enjoyed it when her older cousins would fix the hair on the My Little Ponies (Miss M played with all of my old toys - Fisher price dolls, my little ponies and strawberry shortcakes...so fun for me to watch. I am so glad my mom kept all of that!). Miss M also
got to decorate her second gingerbread house with cousins which was fun, although we joked that 16 and 13 year olds are not as patient when putting together gingerbread houses as mamas. On Sunday the 16th, my dad fixed us his signature prime rib and the kids got to open presents from Grandma and Papaw. Miss M loved her Minnie Mouse guitar and wants to play just like daddy does on his guitar. She also got some fun dollhouse furniture - a washer and dishwasher along with a piano. When you look at the pictures, check out the pink and purple Christmas tree in the backyard...you can guess who asked for and decorated that. What a fun Hill family Christmas. Thank you mom and dad for being such generous hosts and letting us take over your house for nearly 3 weeks. We had a great time making such fabulous memories with you. We love you.