Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Vacay

We have been having a stay vacation over the Christmas break. Daddy has had to work off and on but is finally off work for the New Year holiday. If you remember in Japan, Christmas is just another day where people go to work. However, the week of New Year's is considered a major holiday where everyone is off. We love being here during New Year. Tokyo becomes a ghost town and the city relaxes a bit. There is no hustle and bustle, no men and women rushing in suits and high heels to catch a train to work, and even stores and restaurants close so people can spend time with family. It is a nice change of pace for us. 

These posts will be a little backwards as I have yet to upload pictures from Christmas Day. However, these pictures can give you an idea of what we have been doing. Our friend Darlene came to visit for a few days. She comes every year at this time and it was a lot of fun to have her. The kids were hoping she could stay a day longer! I cooked a belated Christmas dinner with her here on Monday with turkey and the usual side dishes so she could enjoy it too with us. On Christmas Eve we spent it with two other families from church who have become family to us while we have lived here for the past nearly five years. The highlight of the night, besides the delicious food and conversation, was a skype date witih our good friends who moved back to the Netherlands. It felt like old times, and we all look forward to the day when we can hang out again all in the same place! Our church had a Christmas service which we attended and enjoyed. And we even arranged for the Pastor to give out some candy canes the week before Christmas to the kids at our church, like our church back in the US would often do during the Christmas Eve service. 

We have spent our free time playing our new game, Uno attack, and playing with our toys. We have also been out riding bikes as a family and visiting the local parks. Tonight we will eat the traditional New Years Eve meal of soba noodles to "cleanse" ourselves. Tomorrow daddy will cook some delicious New Year's Day food that he enjoyed growing up. I will make sure to take some pics. 

We have a lot to look forward to in 2015 - a new baby is on the forefront of our minds as he will be here around Valentine's Day. When I think back on 2014, it was a great year. Lots of ups and downs, lots of growth in our marriage, a trip to the US, starting homeschool with Miss M, finding out baby 3 is coming much to our surprise, and many more highlights. But I think what I leave with most, is just how much God has grown our marriage over this year. We communicate, we enjoy each other, we have fun, and God is giving us vision as a family which is what we have prayed for over the past five years. It finally seems like pieces of the puzzle are being put together and it is exciting to see. God is our rock and I can truly say my husband is my best friend. He always has been, but there is a depth this year that has grown that I am eternally grateful for and excited to see how God continues to grow us. 

Here are some fun pics of our stay-cation. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Scrapbook Day 12/14/14

Scrapbook day for this month fell on a Sunday, today as I write this! And I must say after the kids Christmas party yesterday and fighting colds all week, we are all a bit tired today. We did make it to church but that is about it. We are persevering with one more week of home school before Christmas break. It has been a long fall semester. It is not that we do not enjoy home school because we actually do and it suits our family well at this stage in our lives. But we have had very few breaks this semester as I am trying to get as many days as I can in before the baby comes in February. So, we are all a bit excited for this to be our last week and then a two week holiday for Christmas and New Years. The hubby and I got to go out on a date last night. It was fun. We checked out the original Benihana in Nihonbashi. It was tradition to go to a Japanese steakhouse for his birthday back in the US with about 5 other couples. Since we moved to Tokyo he has always wanted to find the same kind of restaurant here. Turns out there are not many at all. The chef did not use fire or flip his knives like the shows you get at a US restaurant, but the food was superb. It was exactly what the hubby had been wanting. We found it hilarious that the menu options were named after different states. He ordered Tennessee, naturally, and I ordered California - mainly because it was the only one without lobster as I am not a lobster fan. We finished dinner at 8:45 and I told him it was too early to go home...I wanted the kids asleep when I get home...so we found a nice coffee shop for a dessert tea. He opted for the hot lemonade and I tried the ginger milk tea. We were home by 10 and watching Blue Bloods by 10:15 - it is our latest TV addition on Hulu. So on this Scrapbook Sunday, we are counting down the minutes to bedtime so we can eat supper and watch Blue Bloods...our busy weekend has worn us out. But we would not trade it for anything.

Grace Kids Christmas Party December 2014

Yesterday we had a Grace Kids Christmas party for our church. It went so well, much better than we could have ever expected. We had a great turn out and the kids had a lot of fun. Even Japanese Santa Clause made an appearance and gave gifts to the kids. It was neat to see all of the kids together and the parents. We also had a lot of helpers who played well with the kids and jumped in when something needed to be done. It was a very fun morning, well worth the work involved to make it a success. We started off with a film, and the kids watched Charlie Brown Christmas in Japanese. Then our pastor gave a short message for kids followed by a visit from Santa Clause. After a yummy pizza lunch, with homemade onigiri on the side, the kids played some games, watched a puppet show, and got to decorate Christmas cookies. Fun was had by all ages.

Thanksgiving Pictures

Here are some belated Thanksgiving pictures from our Community Group Thanksgiving party a few weeks ago. Enjoy.

Tokyo Disneyland, December 2014

It has become quite a seasonal tradition for us to attend Tokyo Disneyland for the holidays. I love to check out the Halloween decorations, experience the large Christmas tree at Christmas, and check out the Easter eggs in the spring. So a few weeks ago Daddy took off work and we headed to Tokyo Disney. It never disappoints us. We happened to attend on a day where the park was closing early for a private party so we had to leave at 6:30. Most people would say pick another day so you can stay longer. However, when it is colder, mama is pregnant, and you have small kids, you are quite ready to leave the park at 6:30 and be home by a decent time. At least we are. When you live so close to Disney, you do not feel this need to exhaust yourselves and get there when it opens and stay until it closes. We picked the perfect day! Because other people did not want to come to the park when it was closing early, it was not crowded at all. The sunshine was out and we saw three parades, well at least Miss M and I did. The K Man and daddy opted to just watch the Christmas parade. For the other two parades, the K Man rode the roller coaster over and over and drove the cars. He loves all the rides and Miss M likes the four rides she is used to and parades. We have reached the point where we have to go together with daddy because if I go by myself with both kids, makes it kind of hard to split up. And let's face it, when you go to the happiest place on earth you do not want to spend the day fighting with kids on what rides we are going to do. We went with our friends who are sadly getting ready to move back to England in just a little over a week. We are thankful we got to spend a magical day with them. It was a fabulous day. To top it off, Miss M lost her fist tooth when we got home that night biting into a banana. She hardly ate the entire day at Disney and the tooth had been loose for quite some time. Finally, it came out. Mama was ready for it to come out as with the loose tooth came lots of drama from our princess.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


There will be no pics on this post, just some thoughts...

God made us for community, to share lives with others and to help others. This week, this truth has been so apparent to me. On three different occassions this week someone has helped me regarding the kids. On Monday, a friend watched them (she even picked Miss M up from sports class after playing with the K Man at the park, took them home, played and fed them dinner) while I got a jump start on Christmas shopping and enjoyed a gingerbread latte with my advent book at Starbucks. This was much needed as Monday had been a rough day. I blame the pregnancy hormones. Whatever it was, a little respite and time away encouraged this mama deeply. And I needed it because the K Man was up most of the night Monday with a horrible cough which meant little sleep for Mama. I could not get him into the doctor until 4PM on Tuesday and did not want to take Miss M. Our friends who come play on Tuesdays offered to have Miss M come to their apartment instead. It was such a blessing. She had fun and I only had to travel with one child on the bike to the doctor. I have longed for this y'all...to have a neighborhood type feel in our 50 floor high building....for Miss M to have a friends' apartment she can go to and just play. Blessed. We stayed home from BSF Wednesday to ensure the K Man did not spread his germs to other children. We did well staying indoors and did some Christmas crafts, including our gingerbread houses. Today, Thursday, is the K Man's sports class day. Although he feels fine, he is still coughing so we thought it best to keep him from running around and continue to heal his congestion. But poor Miss M - she needed to get outside. So what happened? A friend offered to take her to a nearby climbing gym while her child is in school. She chose to play with Miss M when she could have had a free afternoon! I am blessed. Not only did Miss M get out of the apartment, run some energy and have a good time speaking Japanese the entire time, I got to cuddle with the K Man and read books, a rare occurance with two of them home most of the time. 

We are made to live in community. It takes a village. Sometimes you have to ask for help, which I did today. Sometimes people simply offer and you need to be willing to accept the offer. I have been on the receiving end so much this week and it makes me want to give back to others in return - whether that is offering an encouraging text message, making someone some brownies, or offering to have their kids over so they can get something done. When God has given us so much, don't you want to give back? It is beautiful, and I am thankful God showed me this today. Think about a way you can encourage someone today...you may never know what they are going through, but a small break from the kids may just really help that weary mother, or that simple text message of encouragement may just help them to persevere through the day. Give back, because we have been given so much. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

How did you spend your Thanksgiving? We celebrated twice...once on actual Thanksgiving day and then the following Saturday with our community group from church. You would think one meal would be enough but even after being here for four thanksgivings, I have to eat turkey on actual Thanksgiving day. We had two friends from church over to help us celebrate on Thursday. They are both American and considerably younger than us, young single professionals living life large in Tokyo. And we had a fabulous evening with them of fellowship. One has started a coffee business and convinced the husband to order his fabulous coffee once a month as it is much better than our typical starbucks. He brought some for us to sample and he was right...it was delicious and so smoothe. Our second thanksgiving dinner was on Saturday with our community group. It was a lot of work to organize and I am often asking myself in the process "why did I agree to this," but after it was over I was glad we did it. We had an amazing time of fellowship and the food was tasty as well. We are really thankful for this group of people in our lives to share with and encourage one another. They have become some of our dearest friends here in Tokyo. Below is a picture of some of the ladies on a recent girls night out in Azabu Juban, enjoying the Christmas lights in Roppongi Hills. The meal always taste the same here in Japan as it does in America, but this year I was a bit more homesick than usual. A friend from high school passed away the Saturday before Thanksgiving suddenly. We went to both high school and youth group together and I was missing being able to attend the funeral and reunite with our friends from long ago. We had such a special youth group so it was a bit hard to not be there. But this is life abroad - you cannot do everything or be back for everything. Another difference this year that we noticed is that we did not tape the Macy's Day parade or a NFL football game to watch. In years past we have always done this and I have shown the kids the parade and the husband and I have enjoyed a pro football game once we put the kids in bed. This year we did not do either of these. I remembered the parade and opted not to tape it simply because last year it seemed like I fast forwarded through 90 percent. My kids have no interest in current musical talents or broadway shows - they just want to see floats. And lately it seems like the parade is more music, entertainment and commentators than floats...much different than when I was growing up. But we both completely forgot about the football game which is quite a shock. I think it is a sign we have been in Tokyo for awhile when we forget about football games on Thanksgiving day. And I do not think it is necessarily a bad thing. I have yet to upload pictures from our community group dinner and I forgot to take pictures of our first meal, but I can leave you with pics of some pretty cute kids who I am so thankful for, one of whom has her first loose tooth and the other who got stuck in a bucket in the bath. CUTE!