Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Happy Anniversary

Ben and I are frugal. We've been using some very...loved..."silverware" since we got married. Ben got his set in 2003, and I don't even remember how I came to acquire mine. Needless to say, it had seen better days.
We were given some at one of my bridal showers, but only enough for for 4 settings. I really liked the pattern, so for the last several years I've been trying to find more of it, without luck. But when we've had company over, it's been enough to do the trick. But this year for Thanksgiving we were having 5 adults over, so we bought some nicer stuff to set our table.
And then a miracle happened.  I found someone selling the pattern of the really nice silverware I wanted, who was willing to mail it to us. So for Christmas/our Anniversary, Ben got me my silverware.
And I decided it was time to retire the other stuff. Here is Ben's reaction to that idea.

In the end, common sense won out.  We did not need four different sets of silverware taking up valuable space, especially when two of them were quite literally falling apart. 
Thanks Ben for being everything I need in a husband-smart, frugal, and funny!


Merry Christmas from the Lewis' in Japan

We had a wonderful Christmas Day that started out with waffles and opening gifts before church.
Ellie and Clara got new red dresses. Funny story-Ellie was super excited to open the presents, and we had her open the dress box first so we could put it on her and be all ready for church before opening gifts. She was super excited, and so we put Clara's dress on and tried to put Ellie's on.  She would have none of it. She started crying and didn't want to get dressed.  So we laughed, set it aside and let her open another gift. Then while she was busy admiring it, we slipped the dress on and voila! Happy girl.

Though you can't tell by the look on her face, Ellie loved her gifts (some toy food, an art set, a Mickey Mouse puzzle, and an ABC game)

A friend gave us some Ben and I hats, and Ellie thought they'd look good on her and Clara.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pink Cheeks

Ben has pink cheeks.  He doesn't really like them.  But they look so sweet on our girls!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Break!

We are only two days into Christmas Break, but it has been so fun so far.
On Saturday we went to Mikasa Park, a Japanese park right outside of base.  Ellie enjoyed running around and dancing to the music and watching the "dancing water." And so did Ben, as evidenced by this video:

There is a small shell amphitheater at the park that Ellie and Ben enjoyed making noise in.
It was quite cold, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Then we attended our church's Christmas Nativity display and Christmas "concert." Mostly because Ben sang in the choir, and sang a solo (he sang "Silent Night" in Japanese).

And on Sunday I got the girls all matchy-matchy green squared in some outfits my mom had made for my brother and I when we were quite small. But the dress for Ellie was a little short, so I don't think they'll get to wear them together again.

Don't you love Ellie's face!?

Friday, December 9, 2011

5 Months

It's funny how time seems to go in jumps and starts and slow motion with babies...and sometimes life in general.
Clara just keeps getting bigger and smarter and shows more of her sweet little personality every day.
She still grins at the drop of the hat which is just the sweetest thing ever (or at least tied with Eleanor saying, "Oh, music fell down," whenever I turn down the music in the car).
She occasionally rolls over by herself, but not in an reliable fashion.
I remember that Ellie was sitting up pretty well on her own by Christmastime (we have photographic evidence of it to remind me), but Clara doesn't show much interest in sitting.  Nearly every time I try to help her sit she stiffens up her legs and backs and tries to stand up, which she does surprisingly well (and obviously with someone holding her arms for balance).
She adores Eleanor and will grin and laugh whenever she looks at her.
Even though she isn't yet sleeping through the night (please, soon, please!), she's such a pleasant baby that it's hard to mind.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's December 2nd

It's December 2nd and we hung a cardinal on our advent calendar Christmas Tree. Because December 2nd is my sister Sierra's birthday.  She would be 27. For those who don't know, I have two sisters that both died of SIDS as infants (Cheyenne was the youngest in our family and would be turning 20).
In my family the cardinal represents Sierra and a bluebird is Cheyenne.  I really ought to have my mom explain to me sometime the specifics of this.

At any rate, the first memory I have is meeting my baby sister.  I was 2 and half. Daniel, my brother just younger than myself, and I had been with our Grandma Sunny and I remember her bringing us back to the apartment in Orem to meet our new sister.  I remember that my mom was holding her in a yellow quilt and just being a little curious and in love with this little red newborn.
She was only with us till the end of January. I don't remember anything else about my sister besides meeting her for the first time. Nor do I remember her funeral, but I do remember something my parents taught us as a result.  That death is not the end of our family.  Sierra is still my sister. She always will be. I cherish this testimony and I know from countless confirmations by the Holy Spirit that it's true.

I can't imagine what my parents felt burying their second and then their third daughter. I'd rather not. But I do know, because they have told me, that their grief is not bitter. They know that God sees the bigger plan and that He is aware of them, of each of us.  And loves us eternally.  That's why He gave His Son (John 3:15). To make a sacrifice for our sins so that we will never be eternally lost to Him. Hallelujah for Christmas, and double hallelujah for Easter!

I love this time of year, to celebrate the miraculous birth of the Savior, and to try and emulate Him and our Eternal Father by giving of ourselves to those around us.

But I especially love Easter, to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ and His equally miraculous and majestic resurrection that brought with it the promise that this life is not the end. It is not the end of our lives or our progress, nor does it need to be the end of the sacred relationships found in families.
Because, let's be honest, I could never get enough of this!
 Or this! (Oh man, can you imagine when the seven of us all get together someday? What a riot that will be!)
Or these wonder, wonderful folks!
Or the splendid family I married into (of which I cannot find a decent picture at the moment, but you are all quite dear to me).
That's all.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stars Were Gleaming

It's December 1st here in Japan. We put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but we had to wait until the 1st to put up our Advent calendar!

Not gonna lie, I'm pretty proud of this sucker.  I started on it last year and had it mostly finished before we left for China to spend Christmas with our favorite Kings (my cousin Crystal and her husband Aaron). So this is the first year we really get to use it.
I patterned it after the one my mom had made that we used growing up.  I have very fond memories of it, and taking turns with my brothers to put up the ornaments. The one major thing I did differently was embroidering a Christmas or Christ related scripture on the back most of the ornaments so we have something spiritual to read each morning when we put up an ornament.
I have also been teaching Ellie my most favorite children's Christmas song, Stars Were Gleaming.  My mom taught this to us as little kids, and made up hand motions to go with it. I love it.  Here we are singing it!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Accidental Trip to Yamashita Park

Over Thanksgiving break, we decided to take advantage of finally having a Saturday to ourselves and go to the zoo.  Sidenote-Ben and I run the Drama Club at the high school and we have been rehearsing of the the fall play which opens this weekend, so we haven't had a fully free Saturday for a while.
Anyway, Ben googled directions and we were set to go.  The zoo is up in Yokohama, just north of us, and we followed our directions without any problems, until we got there.  Because our directions took us not to the zoo, but to the Yokohama City Hall.  Oops.  Thank heavens Ben speaks Japanese.  He found someone who knew how to get to the zoo and got directions. Unfortunately it was an hour drive and several toll roads away. We simply didn't have the time or the yen to do it.  But we saw signs for Yamashita Park very close by, and one of Ben's co-workers had suggested it to us, so off we went. We were even able to score a free curbside parking spot just a block from the park (and if you've ever tried to park a car in Japan you know what a miracle this is).

Ellie had so much fun running around and looking at the water and the boats and all the people.  It is apparently a very popular park along the waterfront of bay in Yokohama. 

We even saw a mediocre juggler (really it's hard to be impressed after seeing the Shanghai Circus), and bunnies on leashes. So it was almost like a zoo.
Even Clara enjoyed going out and about and getting tons of attention from Japanese business men passing by.
She's sure the charmer with her winning smile.

 Plus Ben and Ellie bought an ice cream to share-even though it was pretty chilly. And we all know that ice cream makes any outing a success.

Good Mornin'

I love it when this is the first face I see in the morning, after Ben's.

Thanksgiving 2011

We had a wonderful thanksgiving.  We have had so much to be thankful for this year, and it was wonderful to spend this holiday sharing with others as well.  We had four missionaries from our church over (two Americans, a Korean and Japanese), and a sister in our branch who is here without family. 

We made a fantastic feast of turkey (which we brined and I can now say that I like turkey, it was so yummy), stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, a green salad, rolls, and a pumpkin and a pecan pie.  Oh, and olives.  I taught Ellie the proper way of eating olives.

Off of your fingers of course.  Olives are the most nostalgic part of Thanksgiving, and I'm not sure why.  I have very strong memories of putting olives on my fingers with cousins and eating them up.
Clara enjoyed her own thanksgiving feast of milk and more attention than she knew what to do with.
We were also given these crazy wafer cookies, and I couldn't help but post this picture. It is literally a cookie as big as her face.
Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Oh yeah, Halloween. That holiday were we all got sick.

As The Royal Family we participated in our branch's Trunk-or-Treat activity the Saturday before Halloween.  Really, we probably shouldn't have gone because Ellie was clearly coming down with something. But she had so been looking forward to it, and darn it if I wasn't going to show off the costumes I'd been working on. So here we are; Ellie as Rapunzel (post-hair cut and dye job-didn't you know she got it bleached afterwards?), Clara the chameleon, Ben as the King, and me as the Queen.
 On Sunday morning Ellie had a fever and a terrible cough. I stayed home from church with the girls, but by the evening Ellie seemed to be much better. So we let her paint the little pumpkin she had picked out. We asked her what kind of jack-o-lantern Ben should carve and she replied, "Uh..a monster one." So he carved Mike Wazowski from Monsters, Inc.
Pretty clever if I do say so.
And then Monday morning she was terribly sick again, and Ben wasn't feeling that super either. And then by Wednesday morning/afternoon Ellie felt better, but I didn't and Clara got a little fever and started coughing.  It was awesome...But we all pulled through. Let's just hope we don't get sick for Thanksgiving, because I really like the food.

4 Months

 Clara is now 1/3 of a year old. She's been quite the trooper, dealing with a funky schedule since we have been in play rehearsals for the past 2 months.  She still a super smiley baby, and quite content as long as she isn't left all alone. 
 She gets plenty of attention from her big sister.  Eleanor loves to give Clara hugs and kisses and tells her "I love you, Clara." If Clara is wearing purple socks then Ellie must wear purple socks, too.  If Ellie has her blanket then Clara must have her little blanket. It's cute.
 Clara returns the love by smiling and laughing at Ellie nearly every time Ellie looks at her.  She endures Eleanor trying to feed her pretend food and reading her books.
 At her four month check up Clara weighed 13 lbs and was deemed a great baby.  She started rolling over randomly from her tummy to her back.  I think it surprises her a little every time she does it.
And she pulls the silliest faces.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Halloween Preview

We went to a little Halloween party today, which Eleanor was terribly excited for.  When I told her last night that the next day was Friday and we were going to a party with our friends she got so excited she almost started crying. Especially when I reminded her that she would get to wear her princess dress.  And that Clara would be a chameleon.
Super excited
She initially wanted to bring her "princess pot", but luckily thought better of it.  Though perhaps we'll let her take it tomorrow to the trunk-or-treat to collect candy in.
Or course, once we got there she was extremely reticent and didn't want to play with anyone for a good 45 minutes, which is strange for her. Then I realized she was yawning constantly. Oh, well.  She got coloring and then playing outside on the playground and she was a happy camper.  She hit the pinata, but when it finally did bust open she wasn't at all interested in joining the scrum of kids scrounging up candy (though we did get some later).  Before we even got home she was out like a light.
Though this one wasn't. She was just happy to be in on the fun. Okay, I realize that she looks mostly like a frog, but if you could see the curly tail in the back it would be more apparent that she's a chameleon. Like Paschal.
Tomorrow Ben and I will wear our King and Queen costumes.  We'll definitely take a picture of our cute little royal family to share.

Funny Things Ellie Says

KI just wanted to document a few of these things, so I don't forget.  Sometimes at night Ben and I lay in bed and repeat the funny things she says because it makes us laugh so much.  So here a few favorites.

No, I can't like it.  (This is my favorite)

E: What's that mama?
Me: I don't know.
E: Yes you do.

Oh, it's getting darky.

Frequently she says what she wants you to ask her, ie:
Whatcha doin' Ellie?
Oh, what's wrong Ellie?
No, don't touch that.

You know as I write these out I realize that they are mostly funny because of the faces she pulls when she talks. Guess you'll just have to imagine that yourself.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Princess Dress

I would like to take a moment to toot my horn.
I think this is the first project I have completed without messing up.  I didn't have to unpick a single seam!
The entire thing is lined, I even put in the invisible zipper without screwing it up (like I usually do).
And it didn't cost me a cent. Everything came from my stash, which is awesome, but also a little scary. Why did I have shiny purple fabric? It's a long story, but they used to be curtains and I dyed them about 7 years ago. However, the long pink sleeves used to be some pink pants that were never going to fit Ellie (too wide).

I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  I still have to finish Clara's chameleon costume, an Ben and I as King and Queen.  But if my luck continues...I'll add some pink silk embroidery flowers to the princess dress to make it even prettier.

Ellie loves it! I hope she just doesn't want to wear it on Sunday...

Friday, October 7, 2011

At the Park

My Ellie girl and her Pooh bear

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Girls in Dresses

For my own vanity, I want to post pictures of the girls in their dresses I made for them.  

Here is Ellie jumping on our bed in her rainbow birthday dress.

 If I let her pick out what to wear to church she almost always picks the rainbow dress. 
And a close up of Clara in her blessing dress. I'm so happy with how the embroidery turned out.  But next time I'm not making the dress as wide as the pattern prescribes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Pooh Bear at the Park

Grandma Brown bought a little Pooh Bear when we were with her in Disneyland in April.  Ellie loves loves loves her Pooh Bear.  He recently came to the park with us and got a lot of action.