Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thoughts on Home

I've been thinking a bit about our time here in Japan. We've been here about four and half years now, longer than most people associated with the naval base here where Ben words. We came here pretty naive about what we were getting into. But it has turned out to be far more wonderful than we could have imagined. We've made many friends, seen many move in and move out. We've experienced a massive earthquake, and ensuing nuclear threats. We've added two kids to our family and a whole lot of chaos. We've become expert video chatters with grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. And we are seasoned airport security navigators.

 When we first moved here we thought it would be for just a few years to save up money and then we'd head back to the States and settle down somewhere. But it quickly became clear to us that we would stay in the DoDEA school system until Ben retires. There are many things that we love about it. The hardest is being away from family, but we have technology to thank for keeping us connected.
Sakura 2012-We missed 2011 because Ellie and I left after the Tohoku Earthquake on Mar. 11, 2011

When we go back to the States to visit someone invariably asks us when we are moving back "home." The truth is, we already live at home. Right now for us Yokosuka, Japan is home. We are together as a family, and we know that we are where the Lord wants us to be, so that is home.
Sakura 2013

Something my wonderful mother taught me at a young age was that it was my choice to be happy where I was in life. We love our choice to live here. We love the people we know that are here as expats like us. We love the Japanese people. We love driving on the left. We love taking trainsWe love sorting our trash in to 5 different bins. We love being associated with the military. We love working with the high school kids. We love our church family. We love the torii gates and shrines and the ocean and the green hills and the proliferation of hydrangeas and cherry trees. We tolerate the humidity ;).

Sakura 2014
There are times when we have ached to be with family, mostly on the happiest and the saddest days. But I've found that when we actively cultivate our own Christ centered home we find that our joy is amplified and our sorrows our soothed through the love we share for one another.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Eleanor's Biggest Owie to Date

Yesterday, Sunday morning was going along just fine (minus Clara waking everyone at 5:30 AM, but whatever). Ben had already left early for his meetings before church, and I had gotten the kids and myself dressed and fed and now we were just brushing our teeth before putting on shoes and getting into the car. Ellie turned to talk into her room and slipped in her little tights-clad feet and bonked her face (with toothbrush in the mouth) into her door frame. She started crying and it didn't seem like a big deal until we realized her mouth was bleeding. I figured she had bit her tongue and told her not to touch anything while I ran to get a wet rag (I didn't want blood on her favorite Sunday dress). I cleaned her up and then asked her to open her mouth so I could see where she had been bleeding from. She opened her mouth and I gasped. There was a big hole in the back of her mouth on her right side, right by where her jaw hinges together. I think I scared her with my reaction and she started crying again, holding the wet rag to her mouth. I said she's going to be okay, but we needed to go to the ER. She was devastated, and kept asking if she would still get to go to church; clearly she didn't want to miss Primary!
I tried calling Ben, but he was in ward council and didn't pick up. So I called the next person in my phone book that I knew would be there, and she did pick up. She passed the phone to Ben and I briefly explained what happened and asked him to meet me at the ER. Before stepping out the door I asked Ellie if she would like for us to say a prayer. She said yes, so I prayed asking for her to get better and be comforted and strengthened. Afterwards I took her sweet face in my hands and asked, "Do you believe that Jesus and Heavenly Father can help you?" And she replied, "Yes!" I told her that I did, too. And with that we got buckled into the car and drove down the ER on base.
It must be said that the bleeding had stopped pretty quickly, which was a huge blessing, and Ellie was so calm and brave the whole time!
So once at the ER, Ben took her in and I took Wesley and Clara to church, because heaven knows we didn't need the whole Lewis circus in the busy ER and I knew that Ben was more than capable.
Ben says everyone who looked at her mouth was surprised at how big the wound was, especially that a toothbrush could do it. It was pretty close to the jugular vein, so they did a CT scan to make sure there was no injury to it. Obviously, she need stitches but it was going to require knocking her out to do it. So they had to wait until 5 pm since she had eaten at 10:30.
After church, I came over with Wes and Clara, and when I walked in the room and asked her how she was i thought she was going to burst into to tears. So I came over and put my arm around her and told her how brave she had been and how proud I was of her. A brother from our ward (who also happens to be an anesthesiologist) came by and he and Ben gave her a blessing. We chatted a bit more, then I took the younger two home.

I think having unlimited access to the iPad helped ;)
She ended up needing 6 stitches, and stayed at the hospital overnight (mostly because she wouldn't take pain meds orally, so she was on an IV). I videochatted with Ben and Ellie after her "surgery." She did have to be knocked out and intubated, and her throat hurt really bad so it was hard for her to swallow and breathe.
Bless Ben, he spent the night in the hospital, brought her home just before 7 AM. He showered, dressed, ate and turned around and left for school. He's a champion!
So Ellie has never liked taking medicine, even the stuff now tastes way better than it did when I was a kid it seems like. And she still doesn't want to take any painkillers, which is fine. But I am making her take the antiobiotics because I refuse to deal with an infection. Bless her heart, she's asleep on my bed right now. She's been such a brave little trooper, I'm so proud of her and her sweet faith. And I'm sure she'll tell this story to her kids when they ask to hear "big owie" stories just like she asks me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Remember When I Blogged?

That was before this happened
And that was SEVEN months ago. WHAT!?

Wesley has been determined to outpace his sisters in all his endeavors. He started by being bigger (much, much bigger, so big...). He cut his two bottom teeth at 4 months, and then the top two front teeth broke through at 6 months. He first rolled over (at his first modeling job for Combi Mini) at 2 months, but thankfully was not consistent at that until 4 months. But then he started scooching and army crawling at 5 months and now is a full fledged crawler. And a champion smiler.
He loves to get into his sisters legos and chew on them, to find paper and chew on it, to find clothes and chew on them.
Not to be outdone, the girls are also getting bigger and cleverer and funnier and lovelier everyday. Here's proof:
 It has been so fun to watch Clara blossom as she has learned to play more imaginatively. The other day while both Ellie and Wesley were napping, I was working on her quilt and she was "making me lunch." She narrarated the whole process for me and prompted me with my lines, which were generally saying "Wonderful, wonderful!" everytime she did something. Then we sat down together and had a lovely plastic and felt lunch. She loves her brother, but sometimes terrifies and terrorizes him with the intensity of her love. Most recently she loves to pretend that she is Ana, and Ellie is Elsa, and Wesley is Olaf from "Frozen." And she'll knock on the door and sing "Do you want to build a snowman?" It would melt my heart everytime, except when she does it during Wesley's naps and sings so loud in the genkan (entry) that sometime she wakes him up.
Ellie's getting so big! Literally, the little skinny-minny's legs are too long for the pants that fit her waist. Thankfully my wonderful mother taught me to sew, so I can cinch in her leggings so they aren't saggy (because nothing says fashion backward like saggy leggings). She continues to love to draw and dance and sing. She's nearly memorized "Let it Go" from Frozen and within the next few days she wants to record a video of herself singing it to share with her family and friends, so be on the look out for that (it's a sweet, hysterical thing to watch). She loves to make pictures to give to her friends and always wants to take cookies to our neighbors (whom we can't even communicate with!). She's taught herself to write all the letters and numbers and loves to have me spell out words for her to write down to make stories. The other day while I showered she had me spell out an entire story about herself as the fairy princess of Candyland who defeated the dragon that smashed her castle and the people's houses by cutting off his head, and afterwards she put the roofs back on the houses since she could fly. She also illustrated the book. I should scan it in...
But long story short, she's a clever cookie!
And then there's Ben, wonderful, hardworking Ben. Thankfully he's only doing one master's class this semester, but we are doing Drama Club. He continues to be the executive secretary in our ward and is an invaluable resource for the new bishopric (and me). I'm still the Relief Society president and I feel like it's all I can do to keep my head above water right now.
But we did get a babysitter for our anniversary and went to dinner (delicious tonkatsu) and saw "Saving  Mr. Banks" which was awesome.
Sadly, I cannot find a recent picture of us here's one from our family photo shoot by our wonderful friend Rebekah Peterson:

6 years and three kids and 0 fights. I'd say we're doing pretty good.