Sunday, June 14, 2015

More goodbyes....

Teachers, classmates, and friends.

Beaver and his grade 1 teacher.  He has felt so loved at this school!

Grade 6 graduation.  Yeah, I was rolling my eyes a little at the idea of a grade 6 graduation, but it was a very nice ceremony.  Grade 7 is when they enter upper school.  I hear that at our school back the in U.S., they have a big production for 8th grade graduation, so Bear gets to go through this again in two years!  Our kids have really had a wonderful school experience here, and we will really miss MBIS.

Bear and his buddies

More buddies

Bear's best friend and his family.  We went out to dinner at a Brasilian BBQ restaurant in Osaka after graduation.  A lovely family that we have really enjoyed getting to know.  They are returning to Brazil this summer.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Time to say goodbye

It's that time of year.  The ex-pat summer exodus begins.  And this year it is our turn.  Our time in Japan is winding down and it's time to say goodbye to so many people that have become dear to us.  Here are just a few from church today.  There will be many more to come!

Tony and Hazel - stalwart members from the Kansai branch.  Tony was branch president when we arrived in Japan 4 years ago.  They now split their time between Japan and Utah, so we'll likely see them in the future.

Elder Dos Santos (standing next to Mike) - what a story from this inspiring young man.  He joined the church against his father's wishes in Brasil.  He wanted to serve a mission, but he received a scholarship to study medicine in Italy.  His father said he would not allow him to squander such an opportunity, so he went to Italy and became a doctor.  When he finished his residency, at 25 years old, he was allowed to go on his mission.  He already spoke Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, English, and I think maybe German, too.  But apparently 5 languages wasn't enough!  He was called to Japan!  And just to add some more to his feel-good story - his parents have both joined the church!  He has been so lovely helping translate for Luke in priesthood when Mike isn't around.  (I'm sure his companion is great, too, but he only just arrived in Kobe, so we don't know him well yet.)

Sister Lawson and Sister Jo - You might not guess it because of her brown hair, but Sis Lawson's mother is full-blooded Japanese!  Her mother joined the church in Japan as a teenager and eventually married her father and they mostly raised their kids in California - with a stint of a few years in Osaka.  As a result, Sister Lawson's Japanese is great and she is now the go-to translator in sacrament meeting.

Sister Jo (that's not how her name is spelled, but it's how it's pronounced) is from China.  She has been a church member for only about one year.  She attended BYU, not as a church member, and joined the church in Provo.  Then she went back to China and both of her parents also joined the church.  In China you are allowed to become Christian only if a family member has already become Christian outside of China, so Sis Jo was the gateway for her family.

The next few weeks will be quite an emotional roller coaster.  Let's hope that I can hang on....!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Happy Birthday, Bear!

Our favorite freckled boy turned 12 on Saturday!  We spent the day at SEGA Joypolis in Osaka with his two best friends, and, after striking out at both a Brazilian and a Mexican restaurant, settled on tonkatsu for his birthday dinner.  It was the first birthday in a long time that featured no Legos from us, although one of his friends gave him some, so it wasn't a completely Legoless birthday.

Sunday we celebrated with his favorite ice cream birthday cake.

Bear is a joy to have in our family.  He's growing up fast!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Beaver's Birthday Bash

We held Beaver's rescheduled birthday party yesterday.  The one good thing that came of his being sick on his birthday was that one friend that couldn't come last week was able to come yesterday.  We played with balloons, had a treasure hunt, decorated cupcakes, opened presents, and had birthday cake.  

This is me running after the gang, yelling "Watch for cars!  Watch for cars!"

They are a fun group of first graders.  Having seven of them at our house at once sure increased my admiration for their teacher at school!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Happy Seventh Birthday, My Sunshine!

He asked for a chocolate cake that was all chocolatey.

This is as much of a smile as Daddy and I could coax out of him.

I caught this real smile as he was laughing at his brother by pretending to be taking a picture of the cake!

Beaver had a bummer of a birthday this year.  He threw up Tuesday night, had a high fever and was very sick and listless on Wednesday, a little better Thursday, but still a low fever, a little better Friday, but still no appetite and not himself.  Saturday, his birthday came around, and he had developed a bad cough and still wasn't eating much.  We cancelled his birthday party and took him to the doctor, where he was diagnosed with the flu and an ear infection.  Poor kid!  He didn't even want his birthday cake on Saturday, so we had cake and sang happy birthday to him tonight.  He's doing a little better every day, but he still tires easily and his appetite hasn't fully returned.  We rescheduled his party for this Saturday, but it's still a bummer, especially since he had a Saturday birthday this year!  Not that it really matters, but it seemed fun to be able to have your party on your actual birthday.

Bear has been very jealous and grouchy that Beaver has been able to miss so much school, but when I told him how the flu test is administered, he agreed he'd rather go to school.  Let's hope he doesn't catch it, too!  At least Beaver didn't know what was coming when he got to the doctor's office.

Seven years old!  Can't believe it.  My baby boy.  :(  We sure do love this sweet, snuggly, sensitive, self-conscious, dreamy, imaginative, obstinate kid!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A beautiful day at Hachi Kogen

Saturday was my best skiing day ever in Japan.  It was sunny and the temperature was just above freezing, so for once I stayed warm.  Even hot!  My hands were sweating!  It was awesome!  The Hammerschmitts and Douglas's came with us, so we had friends along to make it even more fun.  Mike spent the morning helping teach the kids that had never skied before.  Beaver seemed impressed by this and commented to Kristin and I, "Dad is an engineer AND a ski teacher!  I need to tell Mrs. Ito (his teacher) that my dad is an engineer and a ski teacher."

Last night Beaver had been tucked in bed and Mike and I were downstairs.  The kitchen door opened and Beaver peeked his head through.  "Beaver, you need to go to sleep.  Go upstairs to your bed."  I firmly reprimanded him.  "I just need to tell you one thing." Beaver protested, coming up beside me.  "Okay.  Tell me one thing." I said.  He looked at me seriously and said, "There are so many choices about what I should be when I grow up.  How do I know if I should be a police officer, or a scientist, or a ski jumper?"  Oh, the dilemmas of an almost 7 year old.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

And some pictures...

On the ferry to Devonport - Beaver's been working out!

These pretty pohutakawa trees are all over the North Island.

Auckland city skyline

Entrance to a tunnel on North Head

A starfish on Cheltenham Beach

Mike and Beaver way out on the beach

Gazing up at the kauri trees

Tree ferns!

On the trail to Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

Agrodome - yes, the dog is standing on a sheep.

A kiwi grove

This gives you some idea of how big the camper was.

After performing the haka

Looking down at Wellington from Mount Victoria

On the Interislander ferry

Driftwood huts on the beach

Black sand, blue water

Fur seals

Whale watching.  

That's the back of a sperm whale.  Somehow we didn't get a single decent picture while whale watching.

If you are a cow, New Zealand is the place to be.

The Wild West Coast

Possibly my favorite picture ever.

Franz Josef glacier

Fiordland National Park

Bedding down in the spongy grass at our campsite

Pretty flowers everywhere!

Milford Sound

An example of the mossy forests of New Zealand

Looks like they are best friends, doesn't it?

Curio Bay, Southland

We climbed the steepest street in the world!

Moeraki boulders

Beautiful, blue Lake Pukaki

Lake Pukaki and mountains

I could not stop taking pictures of this lake

Beginning our hike on the Hooker Valley track

Mount Cook in the background