Saturday, November 28, 2009


This time of year always makes me nostalgic. *sigh* Thanksgiving and Christmas. If they didn't fall so close together it would sure be easier. But my family in the states have all been together in these last few days and will get together again soon in just four more weeks. Usually NOTHING makes me wish I were back in America. Well, maybe every once in a while visions of a juicy steak at Cagle's Steak house have me hankering for a trip home. Or the idea of walking into Target, Walmart, Gap, Old Navy, or any of those kind of places and being able to find clothes that really fit me (i.e. pant legs are long enough and sleeves are long enough) at such amazing prices, have me forgetting what it would be like to travel on three planes for over 24 hours with two little ones. Or when I think about hugging my Momma's neck, or playing with my sweet nephews and letting my brother cook something good for me, or... well you get the picture, only every once in a while for a minute or two I think, "Oh that would be nice right about now." But the holidays sometimes get to me.

Especially this year. Much of our "family" here in Japan are gone. Two missionary couples who were serving in our church are no longer here as of this year or last. And of course missionary families from years past have been gone for a while. It seems our little group gets smaller and smaller all the time. Then this week both the kiddos had the H1N1 flu. We were scheduled to get together with a couple of international couples on Monday, which is a Japanese holiday, but for some reason they didn't want to come over to our house... imagine that!? ;) just kiddin', I don't blame 'em.

So I got no turkey this week. Didn't get anything remotely resembling dressing or mashed potatoes. There weren't no pie 'round these parts this week.(can you tell how nostalgic I'm getting, I'm even starting to sound like all the folks back home)

But don't think this is some sob story for this little missionary, who is sacrificing so much to serve God in Japan. NOPE! I'm not sacrificing anything. I have mountains of blessings right at my feet. (And the fact that I didn't get anything Thanksgiving-like this week is my own fault, I was too lazy to make it even for our own little clan).

It just makes me nostalgic. I rarely get this way. I don't usually get a hankerin' for home, so I just thought I would record my sentimental mood while it lasts.

I guess another thing that brought it on was a sweet conversation I had with my sweet little daughter this week. Every once in a while, in conversation, it comes up that "Bam" (her grandpa, my mom's husband, my second Dad - I don't know a better way to describe who he is since I hate the words step Dad and "new" Dad sounds so morbid, he is worthy of a name that evokes more "love" in it when you read the words so until someone comes up with a better term I guess second Dad it is, anyways I digress) was not the Daddy that I grew up with. A man that, this is so strange to me, she doesn't even know, was my Daddy when I was a "yiyle giwl" (as Hana would say). On the way home in the car the other day I said something my Dad always used to say and Rocky and I got to talking about how funny he was. That started Hana to asking questions.

"Mommy, Bam wasn't your Daddy when you was yiyle giwl?"
No sweety, Grandpa Marlow was, but he died.
"Mommy, why did he die?"
Well, he had a bad disease, one that we couldn't make better, so he died.
"How was he sick?"
Well, he had a disease that made him get sicker and sicker all the time.
"Did he have a wheel chair? Could he talk? etc."
"Did you cry a whole lot Mommy?"
Yes, sweety, I did cry, a whole bunch.
"Were you sad and cried in your bed at night?"
Yes, I did that many times when he was sick and after he died too, I miss him a lot.
"Did you cry with Gaga's?" (Gaga's is my Mom)
Yes, we both cried.

And her questions go on and on.

The other night as we had this conversation the last bit on the drive home, and as we pulled up in front of the house she unbuckled her seat belt and leaned into the front seat area and asked for a kiss as I was waiting for the garage door to go up. She kept her face close to mine and said, "I'm sorry you were so sad Mommy. I'm sorry your Daddy died."

What a sweet heart.

So all at the same time, that conversation made me homesick and nostalgic but yet, so thankful for the family that God has given me today. So thankful that He called me to this country where I would meet Rocky and marry him and these two precious babies would become my children. Sometimes a woman's heart is more complicated than words. Two totally opposite emotions running rampant in my heart these past few days. Joy and sadness, enthusiasm for where I am and nostalgia for the past, resentment for the distance between here and there and thankfulness and contentment in the family I have here. No wonder we women are so hard for our menfolk to figure out most of the time ;o)

So even though Thanksgiving day rolled by hardly unnoticed for me this year, tonight I am so thankful to be the daughter of three Daddies (my Heavenly Father, my father in heaven, and my earthy father), the daughter of one amazing Mommy, the Mommy to two amazing and precious children, and the wife to one awesome and loving man of God! Every part of my life is something I never dreamed it would be. In ever way it is better than I ever could have dreamed it would be. Minus turkey with all the fixin's...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Home school update, starting to read!!!

*once again, this is a repeat from Hana's blog*

This week in home school, the curriculum started teaching her to blend consonants and vowels together. I literally saw the moment she made the connection with the sounds these letters make and then putting it all together in a word. It is like she is off to the races and I can't stop her. The curriculum wanted her to only read two letter syllables the first day but she was making up words and begging me to spell them out for her. If we were learning the blend "sa" she would start saying, "sa, sa, sad! Mommy spell sad, let's read it!" Or if we were reading "la" she goes, "la, la, laugh! Mommy make laugh!" (of course she would pick a hard word like that one!) It was crazy to watch. For months I have been pointing to words as I read them, trying to get her to sound out short simple words, but she just didn't seem to really get it. This week, I think she got it!

Tonight as we were reading a story she kept stopping me and asking me to let her read. Or I would read a sentence until I got to a word I knew she could sound out and let her read THAT word, she was LOVING it! by the end of the book, she was reading the word kitchen, sat, cake, go, and more that I can't remember. After reading a page she would go back and search for the words she could recognize. Then a few pages over she would ask to go back to the previous page and find the word again! She's got great learning skills, she WANTS to do these things herself. It is so fun to watch her doing this. I don't think it is going to be long before she just takes off reading all by herself.

Teaching your child is soooooooooo addictive! I can't get enough of how fun it is to watch her learning and growing. This is Sunday and she BEGGED to do home school this afternoon, so we did home school on a Sunday! AWESOME!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Struggles and Triumphs...

I was looking through my blog tonight and realized it has been a while since I did a "me" update! Ha, imagine that...

It is not necessarily because of lack of time, although there seems to be very little of that these days. It is mostly because I've struggled with what to share. THIS has been a crazy year!

A surprise baby (phone call and two days later, hello newborn) is a HUGE blessing. I LOVE surprises, so it really is fun for me in a way that we got both our children in such a unique exciting way (we had only 4 days notice with Hana). Yet, it also comes with its draw backs.

Hana was just beginning to get pretty independent. I was really starting to enjoy some me time. I was thinking about picking back up a few old hobbies that had totally died in the wake of Mommy-hood. I was beginning to see some of the positives to having an only child and actually appreciate them and be thankful, rather than cry and moan about not having the "quiver full" that I had dreamed of. I was... settling in I guess you'd say. Rocky and I had JUST had a conversation about how it had been two years since we had asked for a second baby and we guessed it was time to let it go and move on, we probably weren't getting another one. We are surrounded by others who are on the waiting list too, most waiting for #1 so we figured surely we had little chance of a second child. I was really actually beginning to embrace it.

You can not imagine my joy and complete disbelief when we got the call about Kai! I was overjoyed and so thankful. So amazed that we get another baby, a newborn! A baby boy! Just couldn't believe it.

But practically overnight I went from having quite a bit more time for me for the first time in years to giving 150% of me 24/7. Not only is a newborn demanding, but I was adoptive breastfeeding which adds even more. Nursing takes time with a newborn (8-10 feedings a day, at LEAST 30 minutes per feeding but usually more), and then I had the added task of cleaning and sterilizing not only bottles for each feeding but bags and tubes from the nursing supplementer. This on top of our already busy ministry lifestyle and a house and family to take care of proved to be quite a lot on my plate. I became emotionally, physically, mentally, culturally and did I mention physically? exhausted!

I'll admit that I've wallered (that's a word folks, I promise) in self pity a time or too in the past months. You know if there is one thing motherhood teaches you, it is how selfish you really are. Seriously! Any selfish people around here? *raising my hand*!

I feel like I am finally getting my head above water in the past weeks. I finally feel like I've struck a balance again. and I am finally feeling like myself again. Brace yourself though, God likes to keep me on my toes! ;o) What will He send our way next!? As Steven Curtis Chapmen says in one of his songs... "Bring it on!"

The Lord has taught me YET AGAIN that He is sufficient for me. He is enough. You know I often read the Old Testament and wonder how God had so much patience with those finicky, impatient and ungrateful Israelites!!! oh... wait a minute... I am exactly like them. I think all human beings must be exactly the same. He doesn't have extra patience for the Israelites or for me, He just IS patient. Can I get an AMEN? When will I get it through my thick skull that I can't get what I need from anywhere else? Thank you for loving me Lord, I don't know why you do.

And so oddly enough, things on the inside start to fall into place again, and things on the outside do too. Interesting how that happens. I suddenly feel like and want to eat healthy again and work out again. I suddenly want to spend more time in worship and prayer, read the Bible. I suddenly have more patience for my children and spouse, more energy to do what needs to be done. Gee, wonder where that came from!? duh!

So I'm struggling through this Mommy thing, this wife thing, this ministry thing. I'm still learning along the way. It is suddenly hitting me, we never EVER stop learning! I'm struggling. And the Lord is blessing me with little triumphs here and there. He winks at me periodically throughout the day, when Hana breaks out into a verse of a praise song and we get to singing it together. Or when I watch her reciting her memory verses while she plays. Or when I watch her and Kai play chase or peek-a-boo. And when my honey comes back from a meeting or something and we get o share how we saw God working while we were apart. When he is playing with the kiddos while I cook dinner. When we spoon and fall asleep at night laughing about something silly we said or did and talking about the day.

God winks at me all the time and suddenly I have eyes to see it again. His gentle love and abounding grace for me will never cease to amaze me. Finicky little ol' me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Home school update, November 09

*If you follow both mine and Hana's blog then this is a repeat from what already appeared on her blog*

Home schooling is going so well. She really loves it and she is learning so much! She has THREE memory verses that she can easily recite now and we start a new one tomorrow. She has the days of the week and the months of the year totally memorized. This has REALLY helped her with understanding time like today, tomorrow, next week, next month. She is very excited about January coming because it is Kai's birthday AND she can start chewing gum again (she got gum in her hair once and then spit it directly at me once all within a couple days, and is now grounded from gum until January). So she often talks about how this is November and next month is December and then comes January!

Learning to write has been our biggest challenge. She is ready for it and wants to do it but sometimes gets very frustrated with it. I am trying to figure out if she is a perfectionist or just lazy. When she can't write one correctly, she quickly gets very upset. Sometimes she gets upset before even TRYING to write it. Before we left for Hokkaido she knew how to write 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9 and 10. She LOVED writing these numbers. As we fill in her calendar each day she would proudly write these without wanting any help from me. After we got back from Hokkaido, the first day back in home school she had to write a 3 and she just dug her heels in the ground and refused to even try. For at least 20 minutes she would NOT try it. She wanted me to write it first and let her trace it. So I would do that and then tell her she had to write on herself and she would get livid. It was a major stand off. I knew she could do it and was determined to make her. She insisted she could not. Then she began to cry and wail about how she had forgotten it. I am still trying to figure out if she was embarrassed because she HAD forgotten or if that was an excuse or what. But after an hour of letting her trace it after I wrote it. Guiding her hand while she wrote it. Making her draw one in the air for me (which she could do with no problem). Making her trace it with her finger. She still insisted she could not do it without help and WOULD not write a three all by herself. I think the entire stand off lasted almost 2 hours. For the last hour she would draw the top of the three and then just let her pencil drag down the paper in a line or make the lower part of the three the opposite way (making a backwards s). It was crazy because I knew she knew HOW to do it, she just WOULDN'T. We had to quit because it was dinner time by then, but I told her the very first thing she would have to do the next day is write a 3. The next day it was about a 30 minute stand off but she finally wrote one. Then after that for about 3 days every time writing a number came up, she would fall apart again. But I kept talking to her about how we don't just give up because something is hard and we don't quit. She was doing this happily and without any problems just a few weeks before. It was really throwing me for a loop, WHY was she doing this all of the sudden.

And now, just a week later, she is happily bringing me papers all day long proudly showing me how she can write the number 3. The first day that she did this so proudly all on her own during play time, she came to me so excited and showed me and then said, "Mommy, I'm sorry." I asked her why she was sorry and she said she was sorry that she cried about writing the number 3.

I don't know if I will ever understand what that was all about. And I am still wondering if I handled it the right way or not since I don't know exactly where those actions were coming from. I am sure every teacher out there reading this is shaking their head at me. I bet that most instruction on teaching would totally tear my actions to shreds and have all kinds of research to show me that it was wrong to MAKE her do something. But I feel like she was testing me, to see if I would let her off the hook and not make her do something she just didn't WANT to do. Up until this point in home schooling I have babied her a little. I learned early on that to push her too much resulted in a fit that would promptly end our day of school. SHE learned that too. The only thing is I knew she COULD do what I was asking her to do this time. And I also knew that if I set up a standard for backing down when she doesn't want to do something, she will use that to her advantage in the future. She'll use that little tactic when something is a little challenging, when she just doesn't FEEL like doing something, or when she just wants to see who is in control. I think she was already using that little tactic some of the time. I am still learning what she does and doesn't know and what she can and can not do, so I was letting her get away with it so far. But I decided it was time to draw the line on being lazy and not trying! So far, we are doing MUCH better in the writing department. I think that the fact she is doing well now means I did the right thing.

What is awesome though is that through all that, she still WANTED to do home school everyday and she still loves it. Writing all that out like that makes it seems like it was a big HUGE deal, but it was only one day that the huge stand off occurred. and all other areas of home school were greeted with lots of enthusiasm and fun. It really is amazing.

So here you can see Hana's writing! (Kai's name I wrote first and she traced it, and same with "Rocky" and "Marla" too) but the rest she wrote all by herself! And the drawing is of Kai!