Friday, August 29, 2014

Long usual!

Well, in spite of having this new app that allows me to post pictures and write posts from the iPad, I haven't been too good at keeping this blog up to date! Let's be honest...I stink at blogging these days! I can happily say, though, that I'm enjoying my life as a mom...blogging just doesn't seem to be one of my favorite ways of spending free time like it used to be.

Where do I begin?! Well, let's just start by saying that we have ourselves one amazing baby!! He has been so good at sleeping and eating, and we are so, so blessed! We've had a few ups and downs along the way, but overall he's been a very "easy" baby. 

(Less than a week old!)

We are following the BabyWise method of sleeping and short it's an eat, stay awake, then sleep routine as opposed to an eat, sleep, wake routine. It is supposed to help set baby's metabolism and help with digestion, resulting in better sleep at night and although I can't really explain it well, I'm all for it because Joshua's been sleeping through the night since about 8 weeks or so. It started off with 5 hour stretches, then 6, and now we put him to sleep between 7 and 8, I feed him around 10:30 and he then sleeps until 7am (and sometimes we end up waking him then!)

(First family photo)

I must confess I feel nervous posting our routines and methods because they're a little different from the norm, but I don't think I should feel that way...every baby is different, every parent is different, and whatever works for you is best for you...and we've found a routine that works for us and we're sticking to it!!

He's on about a 3 hour schedule from one feeding to the next, but I'm in the midst of transitioning to a 3 1/2 hour schedule as he seems to be less hungry at feeding times and doesn't seem to mind when we do stretch it out to 3 1/2 hours.

The BabyWise method of sleeping is basically that you watch for sleep cues and put your baby in their crib awake, but sleepy, and allow them to settle themselves to sleep. We've kind of been doing that, but mostly just recently. I had been usually rocking him to sleep and then putting him down, but he has in the last couple days been doing really well putting himself to sleep so unless he's really struggling, he's been going to sleep on his own! What a blessing!! Like I said, he's a really "easy" baby!

(Warning...skip this part of you're not interested in breastfeeding!) 

Just as an update from the last post...we finally have nursing down!! I'm sooo thankful God helped us through our struggles and he is now exclusively breastfeeding! It sort of just "clicked" one day... We had prayer day in a city about 2 hours from home and I brought the pump with me in case my plan to try nursing all day went "bad", but it actually went really well! I don't have any pain anymore! I don't know if he "grew into" nursing, or if my nipples just got tougher, or if he changed the way he was drinking or something, but it basically just happened in one day! I was still doing bottles for the 10:30 feeding and first thing in the morning (have I mentioned how amazing my husband is, letting me sleep or get stuff done, by taking on the first morning shift?!) but eventually decided that since I was having to get up when Joshua was getting up anyway because I needed to pump due to getting so full overnight, that I would just nurse him and then 'hand him over' to Bobby for the next while. Then about 2 weeks ago I decided to try nursing him for the 10:30 feeding. I hadn't been because I figured he'd be too sleepy to actually eat, but he has actually been doing really well, eating while sleeping! ;) (BabyWise calls it a dream feed) So, he transitioned to exclusive nursing!

Now our new "struggle" is that he won't take a bottle! We've tried several times and methods, but he just won't do it! Of course it's not a terrible problem to have, but just limits the amount of time I can be gone from him now :( i know people say if he's hungry enough he'll take it, but yesterday when we tried that, I just couldn't stand him crying because he was hungry! It's one thing for me to let him cry it out when he's tired, but my heart couldn't take it, knowing he was crying because he was hungry so I 'gave in' and nursed him because he would not take the bottle! Oh well, it really is not the end of the world, and he is not the first baby who required full time nursing! ;) I'll get over it! 

Every day I'm growing in my motherly's still a work in progress, and I often struggle with doubts about whether I'm going to "mess up" my baby. One thing I'm finding through various blogs and forums is that I'm certainly not alone and my worries are normal and shared by many! First time moms have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and it's overwhelming! There's so much to learn, plus there's crazy hormones to deal with, and it all happens so suddenly! Thankful I have a wonderful support team through my husband, family, teammates and a few wonderful, great listener friends...I am blessed! Every day The Lord reminds me I can't do this on my own and I need His help. (Sometimes more than once a day!)

Parenting is an incredible journey. I'm already seeing how God uses this journey to shape and grow His own children and I'm experiencing a greater understanding of the depth of His love for me through my relationship with Joshua. Just as marriage has refined (and continues to refine!) me, parenting is doing the same. Who knew how much a 3 month old baby could teach me?! I have a hard time not looking ahead and worrying about the parenting challenges to come such as discipline, but God continues to remind me to live this life one day at a time, cherishing the here and now. He brings me so much joy and I feel blessed I get spend every day with such a sweet, happy baby! (Don't get me wrong, like I said before, we have our moments, and I've had a few meltdowns!)

The other day as I sat rocking Joshua to sleep I was suddenly filled with awe and wonder that I was living out my dream of being a mom. There is nothing like rocking a baby to sleep, and I was overwhelmed by the fact that God has chosen me along with Bobby to raise this precious little boy. My heart was so full that there in my arms I held this physical answer to prayer....for so long I longed to hold my own baby, I longed to know what it was like to feel the depth of a mother's love, I longed to experience the feeling of being "needed" by a little one...and now, here I am, a mother. At the same time, my heart continues to ache for those who are still experiencing those longings...praying for them earnestly, reminding myself that God's ways are higher than my ways and His ways are beyond my understanding. It feels bittersweet to enjoy this blessing that God has placed in my arms, and once again, I'm left wondering what to say... I don't have all the answers and I still don't understand why God has chosen me to be a mom while others continue to wait.......

On that note, I'm not quite sure how to close! I feel torn in wanting to share all the sweet pictures we have...I know many people find great joy in seeing them, but I also don't want to be "rubbing it in". I guess I will just post a couple of my favorites as I know there's many people on the other side of the globe that can't get enough of him! Enjoy! :)

We are blessed!!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Don't Worry, He's Here! :)

Well, hopefully those of you who follow my blog also follow me on Facebook or Instagram and I haven't kept you waiting for news! ;)

Joshua Michael Baden was born (via emergency C-section) on May 19, 2014, weighing 6 pounds and 11 ounces! He's now 6 weeks old and growing like a weed :) We took him to his "one month" check-up yesterday and found out he's over 10 pounds now!

Now that it's been 6 weeks, hopefully I can remember his "birth story". I've been meaning to sit down and do this for a long time now, but I'm still at the point where all I feel like doing when Joshua's asleep is sleep myself! Bobby wrote his account a few weeks ago so I might have to use his to help me remember the details and add them as a PS after I've read his again.

May 10th (Joshua's due date) came and went and I had no signs of labor... at all! Every doctor visit we heard "the baby's still up high...not yet!" But, something we were also hearing every doctor visit was that my  blood pressure was high and there was protein in my urine. Both of these are signs of pre-eclampsia which is very serious so they kept a close eye on me. My doctor decided that if by Friday, the 16th, there were no changes in my blood pressure and protein numbers, they would admit me and monitor my diet and try to get me more relaxed.

41 Weeks, hanging out at the hospital
Sure enough, we went in for my appointment that Friday and my numbers were still high so I got admitted. I have to say, I had it pretty good! The hospital we were at was so wonderful! The room we were in was a private room and more like a hotel room. I didn't feel like I was in a hospital at all! Bobby was even able to stay with me, and this was going to be the room we'd stay in until going home with our baby. Friday night we just relaxed, watched a movie on TV and were both able to sleep quite well. It felt like we were on vacation!! There was talk of being induced soon, and the doctors were going to meet on Saturday morning to decide what would be best for the baby and I.

Saturday morning we found out that the doctors decided they'd wait until Monday to induce so from there it was just a waiting game. In the mean time, my blood pressure was being monitored and they kept a close eye on the baby too, using the fetal monitor belt (or whatever that's called). Saturday night's sleep was a little less restful than the previous night as my blood pressure was checked several times, as well as fetal monitoring. (when you have the belt on you can't really move so I was "stuck" on my back and I wasn't really able to sleep) The last monitoring on Friday night caused the nurse a little bit of worry as after an hour she couldn't get the baby to really wake up and active for a clear reading. She told us she'd be back around 2 to come and check again so of course we didn't sleep well, first knowing she was coming back in just a few hours and second thinking about something being wrong with the baby.

She came back in at 2 on the dot and strapped the monitor on again. She came back after about an hour and told us that they wanted us to go down to the delivery room (instead of them having to keep coming up to our room to check) so they could keep a closer eye on the baby because they still couldn't get a very good reading. So, with our bleary eyes and foggy brains, we headed downstairs right then.

The next few hours are kind of a blur for me as it was very stressful and scary. My blood pressure kept rising (even though from the start even before I was admitted, I never felt any different than usual, and felt relaxed) and they were beginning to say the baby was showing signs of distress. At one point Bobby said my top number was over 200! (normal is usually 120-130 or so) The head doctor who we think was on call came in to look at me and said they'd keep a close eye on us and decide what to do in the morning when the other doctor came in. There was still no clear decision as to whether things were headed in the direction of induction or C-section which added to the stress. I really didn't like either choice, but I knew the doctors knew what they were doing and trusted their decision.

When the doctor came in Sunday morning he almost immediately decided that things were starting to look dangerous and that I needed to be transferred via ambulance to a nearby bigger hospital where they would be more equipped to handle an emergency C-section. And before we knew it, we heard a siren outside, the paramedics came in and were putting me on a stretcher and I was being loaded into an ambulance. Thankfully, Bobby was able to stay with me and ride along, but unfortunately he didn't really get a chance to pack our things and only had a minute to grab the essentials. (he got to go back later and packed us up and brought our stuff to our new hospital).

Just before I was transferred, they gave me some medication to lower my blood pressure and in the ambulance it really dropped (almost too much!) and by the time we arrived at the other hospital things had really settled down and after being assessed, it was decided that they would hold off on doing a C-section until Monday when there's more staff around. We had another relatively quiet afternoon/evening, but throughout the night I was again monitored and also had an IV in so I didn't get much sleep. In the wee hours of the morning I started getting sick (I think due to a medication they had given me to clear out my system before the surgery) and by 6am it was decided that they'd do a C-section right away instead of waiting until later that afternoon because it seemed that the baby was in distress.

Before we knew it, I was being prepped for surgery, and was getting an epidural. Unfortunately Bobby wasn't able to be in the room with me (not sure if that's because it was an emergency C-section or if that's how they do things in Japan) which was a big disappointment for both of us. I was pretty scared because I had no idea what to expect and it was happening so fast, but the whole time I felt God's presence and was at peace. I don't remember much of the details now, but I remember I was really surprised at how rough the Dr. was. Although I was numb and couldn't feel any pain, I felt pressure and pulling.

Again, before I knew it, I heard that sound that every expecting parent longs to hear... a healthy cry! I don't remember if they told me before or after I heard him cry, but one of the doctors told me it was a boy and several people in the operating room congratulated me. After a bit, they brought him by my head and I got to meet him and they let me touch him. They took two pictures which are now precious possessions! I don't have it scanned yet so I can't post it, but maybe someday I will. After that, they finished off the surgery and eventually I was taken back into my room to recover. The part of the surgery after he was born was really rough and felt like it was taking forever. I can't really explain how it felt, but I remember wishing it would just be over!

Unfortunately Joshua had some breathing trouble (I think maybe fluid in his lungs or something) so he was put in the NICU for a while. Bobby was able to meet him shortly after he was born and was on the way to the NICU. The next few hours were really tough. I was in quite a bit of pain, and the after contractions (where the uterus starts to shrink) were the most painful thing I've ever experienced! I thought that I hadn't had any Braxton Hicks, but now I think I did have some, without realizing they were contractions! There were a few times when I was pregnant that I felt pains, but they were different from what everyone describes them as so I didn't think they were. Anyway, that day I slept most of the day, and poor Bobby went back and forth between my room and the NICU (which unfortunately had limited visiting hours, even for parents). He was able to hold Joshua and give him a bottle which thrilled both of us. I was really sad that I didn't get to see any of that. It was SO hard to be away from him, having no idea what was going on. I didn't get to see him again until later the next day when they brought him in my room to see me.
Holding Joshua for the first time... my smile says it all!
I don't remember very clearly if it was on the second or third day after he was born, but I was able to try nursing which I was really thankful for. I didn't have a birth plan or anything like that, but one of my strongest desires was to be able to try nursing as soon as possible. It was pretty disappointing that didn't happen, but having him receive formula in the nursery was not the end of the world. Thankfully, he did (and still does) really well taking both a bottle and nursing.

By about the fourth day of our hospital stay, he was staying in the room with us all day and night which was so great. I was able to bring him to the nursery whenever I needed to rest. I didn't start walking until day 3 (I think) and was still in quite a bit of pain, but Bobby said he noticed a considerable difference in me after Joshua was brought to our room. Recovery was pretty tough and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy!! I have to say, even at this point, it feels like Joshua will be an only child! ;) (half kidding, half serious... not wanting to think about going through all of that again and also having to worry about Joshua's care during that time)

I don't feel disappointed or "ripped off" that I ended up with a C-section like a lot of women talk about. I think it's because I didn't have a birth plan, and I'm thankful for that. The only things I was disappointed about was not being able to give birth at the hospital I originally planned on (we had gotten used to the nurses and loved my doctor, and we really liked how they did things like being pro-nursing, and rooming in), Bobby not being able to be in the operating room with me, and not being able to see Joshua for the first 24 hours. Overall, I was well taken care of, and was so thankful for all the nurses and doctors who helped us through our first week as a family. God was (and still is!) so good to us and although it was one of the most stressful and scary times in our lives, we are thankful to have this story to tell Joshua (and others) of God's hand of protection over us.

I was in the hospital for a week which some people might think is crazy, but I was really thankful for that time and glad that I was able to rest when I needed to, and recover from my surgery. There were plenty of ups and downs, but we survived! God is good!!

These days we're kind of in a routine... Joshua's on about a 3 hour schedule. The first month was quite good, and Joshua was a very easy baby. These days though, he's been a lot more fussy and we're having more "off days" and plenty of times where we just don't know what to do to make him stop crying...but we're doing ok. We're both pretty exhausted, but making it. I'm SO blessed to have Bobby in my life. He's been so helpful and he's an incredible dad. I appreciate how hands on he is and know that I have it really good!

Nursing has been a bit of an issue for Joshua and I. I've had some extreme pain that we can't seem to get to the root of. Any time a nurse watches him feed they say he has a really good latch, but I'm in pain the whole time he's feeding which I know is not normal. Something's wrong, I don't know what. We've heard lots of people mention tongue tie as a possible cause of pain, but it's not obvious and we don't really know how to explain it to the doctor. We will be seeing an English speaking pediatrician for his first immunizations from then on so maybe he'll be able to help us. These days I'm pumping and feeding him breastmilk exclusively which I'm very thankful I'm able to do, but really wishing we could just get this nursing thing down! Last week I was nursing once a day... some days were better than others and I think I'm tolerating the pain a little better, and today was the first day of trying twice a day.

I hate knowing that something is wrong and not being able to fix it. I've done a ton of reading, seen several different nurses/midwives here and watched plenty of YouTube videos, but nothing seems to help. I'm praying through it, and trusting God will help us. It's definitely been a trial that I wish would just go away! Anyway, perhaps I'll write more about it another day, but that's all I'll say for now.

We're in love with our little boy and feel so blessed to be parents! We're on a journey that requires constant dependence on the Lord, but so thankful He's entrusted this precious gift to us!

My battery is running out so I guess I'll do a picture post another day! Thanks for sticking with me!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

No Baby Yet...

Finishing up day 5 of being overdue...
It's not so bad because I've been feeling so good, but people keep asking "any baby news yet?" Which makes us all the more anxious!

I guess this us only fair since I was 16 days late (my Mom is probably loving this...except tomorrow is her guess for the big birthday so she's hoping for some action soon!) Apparently full moons increase the number of labors and tonight happens to be one so I'm sure it'll be another "sleep-like-a-kid-on-Christmas-Eve" night! ;)

We have our regular appointment tomorrow...looking forward to seeing if there's any progress. As of Tuesday's visit, baby was still up high.

There's a chance I might get admitted tomorrow...I've been showing some signs of preeclampsia (high blood pressure, protein in my urine) and the Doctor said if my protein levels are higher tomorrow, they're going to admit me to monitor my diet and help me relax...and go from there, re-assessing (need for induction) early next week. Little do they know how relaxed I am at home and how little salt I eat! (And being in the hospital with no baby will probably make me restless) oh well...just more time to enjoy pre-baby stress free (aka sleep as much as I want) time, I suppose.

Anyway, that's all for now...will try to update if I don't get admitted! (There's no internet at the hospital so if you don't hear anything, I'm likely chilling at the hospital!)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

39 weeks picture

Just testing... I think I figured out how to post pics from the iPad...
This picture was last Sunday before church :) haven't taken my 40 week pic yet because I'm still in my pj's ;)

Due Date...

Today's the day... It's May 10, baby's estimated date of arrival. If only baby knew that! Due dates are torture, in my opinion! You can count down all you want, but more than likely, will not have a baby in your arms at the end of the day! ;)

Yesterday's doctor's appointment went well. Dr says baby is very "genki" (healthy/active) but the monitors show no contractions, and apparently baby is still sitting up high (so much for my back pain theory!) She said I'm maybe about 1cm dilated... so, we continue to wait!

Anyway, that's all the news for now... Meanwhile, we continue to wait, and I'll keep working on that to-do list! (It's nice to have the time to do things on a to-do list, but I'm just lacking energy/motivation to get those things done!) Any distraction ideas for this coming week are welcome! ;)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Waiting Game...

Well, impatience has finally kicked in! Last week, I couldn't help but smile at how Bobby was daily mentioning how excited he was for this little one to make his or her entrance into the world, but I personally was content to keep on waiting because I've been feeling so good. I couldn't really relate to all the women who just can't wait for their pregnancy to end!

But, this week, I think because it's the week of my due date (Saturday!!!!) I'm starting to feel a little impatient myself! I'm still feeling pretty good, considering I'm almost at 40 weeks. I'm feeling blessed to have had such a smooth pregnancy. Just yesterday though, my lower left back has started hurting, making me wonder if baby is shifting or has shifted into "getting ready to come out" position.

I've truly been sleeping like a kid on Christmas Eve these last few nights...I think because I've heard most labors start in the middle of the night, I'm expecting that to be what happens for me too! I've had weird dreams, frequent mid-night bathroom trips and wishful thoughts minor twinges I think I'm feeling in my belly might be the start of a contraction. I haven't had any Braxton Hicks contractions, so I literally have no idea what to expect which makes me more antsy (hence the excitement over every tiny twinge).

I have my 39 week appointment tomorrow which I'm excited about. Last week I was 0.5cm dilated which was encouraging to hear, but I know it doesn't mean much...especially when the Dr. Says "See you next Friday" quite confidently! ;)

Bobby started a poll on his Facebook page the other day for date and gender guesses... Earliest was May 8th... which is today! The big questions are if I will have a baby outside of my belly this Mother's Day, and if this baby will share a birthday with their cousin, May 12!

We're feeling pretty ready, as far as preparation goes...bags are all packed and by the door, last minute checklist is on the fridge, car seat is installed...but as for being ready to be parents, I don't think we'll ever feel ready for that! ;)

My parents are coming on May 21st for a month and we're all getting excited about that too! It will be really neat to be able to show them "our world"! Hopefully baby and I will feel up to some outings with them because I'll be sad if I don't get to see them experiencing things for the first time, but we'll have to wait and see!

Sorry for no pictures again... This is another iPad update so I can't get it to cooperate! I guess that's all the news for now...we'll just be waiting! The news of baby's arrival on here will likely be delayed as we don't have internet in our hospital (and I'll be there for a week!) so be patient!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thank you, God, for giving us mothers!

Came across this video today and it made me wonder, What am I getting myself into?! ;) just kidding! 
Thought it was really good... Might or might not have made this mama-to-be a little weepy at the end! 
I'm so thankful for all that my Mom has done for me over the last 28 years and I know the next few weeks, months and years to come will increase that appreciation even more! I can't say it enough... I love you, Mom!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My small faith...

Sometimes I think God must just shake His head and smile at my lack of trust in Him and His provisions...
We decided before we left the States that we were going to go ahead and buy a stroller and car seat in Japan even though we knew they were more expensive than in the States. We could have paid extra to send them as extra pieces of luggage when we flew but in the end decided that wouldn't be worth the headache of having to lug around extra boxes while traveling. I am glad we didn't have to deal with that, but since coming back to Japan and doing more car seat/stroller research, I started to regret that decision. We've run into a few different problems... I originally wanted a travel system (car seat that fits on top of a stroller) but have since changed my mind. Anyway, they're not very common here, and the ones you can find online are at least $600.

Then after eliminating that option, we started looking at just car seats (and maybe getting a stroller later on if we feel it's necessary) but then found out that Japanese car seats don't have carry handles or bases...apparently everyone just takes their baby in and out if the seat everywhere they go. I'm not too keen on having to wake up my sleeping baby when he or she falls asleep in the car so this was pretty disappointing for me. We did end up finding one for a whole lot cheaper than most car seats, but it doesn't have a base, and it doesn't have a 5 point harness (none of them here do). And, because it was so much cheaper than all the others, it makes me wonder how safe it really is/how well it's made.

Now I know I'm starting to sound like an over protective mama (and maybe I am) but safety is not really something I like to compromise on! Hope I'm not opening up a can of worms with this post, but in my opinion, Japan just doesn't have the same car safety standards for kids that we're used to and apparently they don't mind. Car seats are required, but we see kids up and moving around in vehicles all the time. Anyway, with our baby coming in only a month (give or take), I was really starting to worry/feel like we were out of options. I was also feeling bad because we had a friend offer us an American car seat but I turned it down because it was "expired" (which I'm not convinced is an actual concern) and she ended up giving it to someone else.

So...all this to say I've been praying God would give us wisdom and provide for us, but at the same time wasting time worrying about it. In the mean time, He was probably just grinning waiting to hand me my little gift... I just got a call from a very sweet American couple that works on the Base offering us their car American seat, as their youngest recently outgrew it! They are so generous and they've blessed us in many ways in the past.

So, now we have a car seat! And once again, I've been reminded of my need to cast my cares on the  Lord and wait for Him to work! We've seen him provide in so many ways for this little one (and for ourselves) I don't know why I'm so surprised!

In other news, I'm at 35 weeks now, and going to the doctor once a week now! We went yesterday and I had been expecting to learn more about what delivering at this hospital was going to look like, but apparently I have to wait until next week or the week after. (Apparently they're counting in me having this baby on time or late!) I'm pretty sure it was hormones that got in the way, but after the appointment, I had a little melt down as my fears were getting the best of me. On top of the appointment being different from what I was expecting, I'm learning that I don't like "unknowns" and this whole having a baby experience in general, let alone in a foreign country is full of unknowns! I know this might be opening another can of worms, but we also found out that even though getting an epidural is an option, it's a little different than how they do it in the States... and they only end up giving them to about 1 in 200 (over 3 months) births which makes us nervous due to the lack of experience. So... it's looking like I'm in for a natural birth...which is not the end of the world and what I was leaning toward anyway, but it's kind of scary that the only thing they "offer" is visualization! I was hoping for more of something in the middle between an epidural and nothing at all, but oh well... Again, thus is another area I need to trust God and His care for us!

So, that's enough rambling for now! Hope you enjoyed this post anyway! Until next time...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Closer and closer...

My how time is flying! We're already back in Japan and we're just 6 weeks (give or take) away from holding our little one in our arms!! I'm not feeling very ready... not sure I ever will be! These days the thought of this baby actually coming out is quite terrifying. I think because it's such a huge unknown, it makes it even scarier. We went to the doctor on Friday and found out we'll talk more about what delivery will look like at our next appointment which will hopefully help with some of those fears.

Our flight back to Japan went as well as could be expected. It was an unusually empty flight so we had a row of 3 seats to ourselves. The extra space was nice, but it didn't help either of us sleep any better...but that probably helped with sleeping better here. We're almost back to a normal schedule, but still going to bed on the early side and waking up early. Bobby's fear didn't come true and we were very thankful... I didn't have the baby in the air! ;)

We're slowly getting the nursery ready... moving around furniture, getting rid of clutter and eventually decorating. Right now the crib is full of baby stuff that's waiting for a home! I already like the way it's looking though and can't wait until it's all done. I have discovered I really like purging and organizing, but it can get overwhelming at times, feeling like you have so much stuff that you "need" but have nowhere to put!

We've gotten back just in time for the cherry blossoms! This is by far my favorite time of year with all of the spring flowers, and now the cherry blossoms everywhere you look! Today we went for a picnic under the trees and I loved it! Here's the link to an album I posted on Facebook... I'm sure more will get added as we enjoy more of the blossoms this week.

I once again forgot to take my 34 week picture on the right day and still haven't done that yet, but here's my 33 week picture... I don't have any other pictures to post at the moment because I need to figure out a way to access my iPad pictures on my blog, but hopefully I'll figure something out soon!

Well, I should get going... off to our co-worker's house for dinner! (we are so spoiled!)
Until next time...

Friday, February 28, 2014

Catching up...

Hello there!
Sorry for the lack of blogs these days... nothing too exciting happening, and not being able to post pictures from the iPad are my excuses :)

Pregnancy is still going really well! I haven't had any serious gallbladder attacks since we were in Canada in January so I'm very thankful for that... I know it's because people are praying! Hopefully it won't give me too much grief even after the baby is born.

All appointments have been going well and everything is looking normal. I'm in the third trimester now so we're going to the doctor every 2 weeks now (next week is the first time for that).

Here's the comparison picture I posted on instagram a couple weeks ago...

(top left is 24 weeks, top right is 25, bottom left is 26 and bottom right is 27 weeks. I don't see a whole lot of change, but sometimes it depends on what angle I stand at and I can't seem to get it the same every week.)

Bobby's home church planned a shower for us a couple weeks ago, but it got postponed due to snow, but it's coming up this Saturday! I'm looking forward to it and we already feel so blessed, but also nervous because I've never really liked opening presents in front of people ;)

In other news, I became a US citizen this month!! That means all our paperwork headaches and travel restrictions are behind us!!! God allowed things to happen so quickly and smoothly and I got my passport in the mail yesterday! That means we're heading back to Japan on March 25, and we'll be having this baby in Japan! We're of course sad that we won't get to introduce this little one to Bobby's family for a while, but I must confess that the idea of bringing our baby to our own home from the hospital is really exciting! I'm already nesting in my head and can't wait to get back and start rearranging and organizing!

That's pretty much all I can think of to write about for now. If you want to follow me on instagram to see more pictures, my user id is princesshill86. You can create an account and you don't need to post pictures or anything, but you do need an account to view my pictures.

Have a good weekend!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dancing belly!

So I have to say,that all the "firsts" of pregnancy have been so much fun for me! I'm really blessed that I have had a really smooth pregnancy (aside from having gallstones, but that's another post for another time!) and I am just soaking up every minute of this time with a baby in my belly!

One of those fun firsts happened last night as I was laying on my back in bed reading. I could feel the baby moving around quite a bit so I decided to pull the covers off and lift up my shirt and watch my belly for a bit. Sure enough, we got quite a little show! He or she was moving all over the place! I've seen a few twitches here and there, but this was really the first time I've seen any major stomach shifting because usually when the baby moves, it's not exactly at an appropriate time for me to whip up my shirt and stare at my belly! :P We were both laughing at the little squirmer inside of me and it made me one again realize how blessed we are to have a healthy little one coming our way. I really understand what it means when the Bible talks about Mary "treasuring these things in her heart" because that's exactly what I've been doing! (And the baby's not even born yet!)

Anyway, it was really fun and also super weird to watch my belly dancing around, watching it move, realizing I had no control over what it was doing! Sometimes it was a slow "rolling movement" across my belly and sometimes it would be a great big push out. I've been looking forward to this for a while now and definitely got a good show last night :)

Tomorrow I'll be 26 weeks! Time is flying, and I'm sure it goes even faster when baby is here, right?
Bobby's home church women's group is throwing me a shower next month and I'm so excited about that! It is kind of tricky knowing what to ask for when we don't even know where this little one will be born, but we did put together a registry at Babies R Us which was fun... But slightly overwhelming too!

Anyway, I think that's all the news for now. Sorry no pictures this time... For some reason I can't upload pictures to my blog from the iPad.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Overdue Update!

Well hello again!
Thought it was time for a long overdue update! Sorry for those of you who aren't on Instagram and can't see the pictures I post.

Pregnancy is still going well, and we are so thankful for that! I'm 23 weeks now and it's hard to believe we're past the half way mark already!! I'm still feeling pretty tired, but these days I'm feeling pretty good... still not quite at the "Superwoman" feeling many women say comes along with the second trimester though. I'm sleeping pretty good and haven't had the typical complaints of back pain or frequent bathroom trips, but something tells me that will be here before I know it!

I am feeling quite a bit of movement these days, pretty low and it's very cool to know that little one is doing well in there! Bobby was able to feel a good strong movement (no clue what part of the baby's body it came from) one night as we were falling asleep and that was super exciting! Sometimes when I lay still, I can see my belly "twitch". Haven't noticed any patterns to sleep and awake times yet, but it seems as though this baby is a fan of Tim Horton's :)

It's so fun to experience all the "firsts" of pregnancy that I always dreamed about... we got to hear the heartbeat at the doctor's the other day  (we didn't get to hear that in Japan because I think they just look at the heartbeat on the ultrasounds) and we had our 20 week anatomy ultrasound a couple weeks back. We had no idea just how much can go wrong in a pregnancy until the technician explained everything she was looking for! We are SO thankful for this healthy baby and a smooth pregnancy! (from what the technician saw anyway!)

Belly isn't too big yet, but I think it's getting a little more obvious I'm pregnant each week. I feel like I'm still at the point where people probably just wonder if I am or not. I'm loving being able to buy and wear maternity clothes! It's crazy how expensive brand new clothes are so I've been having fun finding post Christmas 50% off clearance deals and shopping at thrift stores. I'm so thankful we are here in North America because I have been able to get pants and bras that I'm sure I never would have been able to get in Japan!

We've registered at Babies R Us because our home church is having a shower for us! That was fun, but also slightly overwhelming! :) It's really hard not knowing whether this little one will make his or her appearance in Japan or Maryland! (oh, and by the way, we aren't finding out if it's a boy or girl)

Well, my battery is running out so I need to finish up! Thanks again for keeping up with us and praying for our little blessing :)

21 weeks...

23 weeks...

Eventually I'll remember to wear the same shirt each week so it will be a little more obvious how much growth has happened :)

Saturday, December 7, 2013


My first official bump picture! I'm starting to think it's more than what was there before baby came along, but still not sure it's a bump yet! ;) I'm 17 weeks and 5 days in that pic... But I'm 18 weeks today!

I just got a little distracted and started looking at maternity clothes online and can I just say I can't wait to go shopping!! I am really starting to feel the need for new pants... I feel like an old man in denial of his belly, wearing my jeans below my bulge! My tights and dresses just feel so much better, but they're not very warm! I just haven't been able to find pants that are big enough here so I'm really glad we're going back to the States soon. I know I could buy some online, but I hate online shopping... Especially for a type of clothes I've never shopped for. I have an American friend that lives about an hour away that is not the average Japanese size either, and she offered me clothes a while back, but I figured I wouldn't need them at the rate I was growing... But I guess I was wrong! And unfortunately our schedule is getting so busy, we likely won't have a chance to see her before we leave :( oh well... I'll just make do! I know some people use rubber bands on regular jeans, but mine just won't stay up like that!

I am getting super excited to be with Bobby's family for Christmas! I don't remember if I said it earlier or not, but it will be my first! We had our first two Christmases with my family after we got married, and then our last one was in Japan. This is a pretty rare blessing to be home for Christmas and I feel so spoiled! I know a lot of people won't get to be with family this year, and that's just plain hard! It's fun to think about what next Christmas will look like though! We'll be a family of three!!

The ladies' luncheon went well! Thanks for praying! Next up is the Hirao candlelight service next Sunday afternoon. (We do one at the other church on Christmas Eve)

Well, Japanese study (or maybe more like lunch!) is calling my name...  ;)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

17 1/2 weeks!

I told you I'd be bad at updating! ;)

I'm happily at 17 1/2 weeks now! Time is flying, but at the same time, I'm looking forward to being "obviously" pregnant! I think my belly is just now starting to stick out a little :) I haven't been wearing maternity clothes yet (only because I can't find any pants that fit!!) but the other day I wore a dress with tights that go up over my belly (therefore no waistline) and a couple people commented that I have a "bump" now! (I'm not convinced yet... still think it's just what was there before, only shifted around) Guess that means I need to start taking belly pics soon. :) I'm looking forward to going shopping for maternity clothes in the States, and will likely start when I have a favorite outfit I can wear for the belly measuring pics (I want to wear the same shirt every week so that it's easier to see the difference)

I haven't been feeling that "magical glow"/super woman feeling during the second trimester that all the websites and books talk about... still getting sick now and then (usually due to a headache or letting myself get too hungry) and I'm still pretty tired. But, as my Mom kindly reminded me, when she was pregnant with me, she felt sick every day the whole 9 months, so I have a lot to be thankful for! :) (sorry about that, Mom!)

I really am enjoying being pregnant. That sounds kind of funny, but I think because I had dreamed about it for a long time before it actually happened, I'm just soaking it all in! I haven't felt any movement yet... I suspect I might have, but am not convinced it was movement and at the same time, I'm not convinced it wasn't! I love getting the weekly e-mails from various websites, telling me what's developing and going on inside my belly that week. It's truly a miracle, and so fascinating! God's creation is SO amazing... and to think that's how we all got here too!

I had a 16 week check up last week and the doctor seemed really pleased with the way things are going. Baby is measuring right on target for 16 weeks :) We got to see it again (they do an ultrasound at every appointment here... which I will really miss while we're in the States!) and baby was very active! So weird to see it happen, but not feel a thing! The technician even managed to get us a shot of the bottom of a little foot which was super cool! (unfortunately we didn't get a printed picture of that) We're planning to not find out if we're having a boy or girl (I do love surprises!) but of course if we do find out "accidently" during an ultrasound, we won't be disappointed. It's kind of funny, but while Bobby is warming up to the idea of not finding out, I am warming up to the idea of finding out! :P
16 weeks! (not very clear, but if you can somehow tell if it's a boy or girl, don't tell me!)

I am realizing more and more every day that this journey of parenting is going to be a lot harder than I expect. I'm getting a little anxious about the idea of being responsible for a tiny life, completely dependent on Bobby and I... I know I've had plenty of experience with kids and babies, but I'm still feeling like I don't know anything! We've been having to/will have to make lots of big decisions about things like buying a crib (which we bought last week!!), stroller/car seat, how we'll set up the nursery (to name a few... and those are just the physical decisions, never mind all the emotional preparations!) and it can get pretty overwhelming! Some days I wonder what we've gotten ourselves into, but was encouraged recently by a quote from a blog that talked about how God knows exactly what He's given us to handle as parents, and thankfully offers plenty of grace!! (much better said on the blog, btw!)

In other news... we bought tickets to return to the States today!! We leave Japan on Dec 18th, fly to Korea and spend the night there, then leave for DC on the 19th! Can't wait!! We have to be back for my fingerprinting appointment (for US citizenship) sometime in the  next month or so (still waiting to hear when) but figured we should take advantage of this rare opportunity to have Christmas with family!! We'll have "actual Christmas" with Bobby's family, and then sometime in January have a belated Christmas with my family. I feel so blessed to be able to do this, but at the same time, these next two weeks are going to be a little stressful as we prepare to leave!! We still don't even know if the baby will be born there or here, so it's been really hard to make plans and prepare! But, thankfully it's all in God's hands ;)

That's about all I can think of for now... please keep our Christmas outreaches in your prayers! Thursday (Wednesday night in North America) is our biggest event... the Ladies' Luncheon and we really appreciate your prayer support!! We've got plenty to keep us busy in the next few weeks, but of course count it a privilege to be able to share the TRUE meaning of Christmas to a nation that only knows the Santa-side of Christmas!

Sorry that was so long winded... will try to get better at shorter, more frequent updates when we're in the States! :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baby News!

Well, for those of you not on Facebook or Instagram, I've got some big news to write about! We're expecting a baby in early May!!

Although this is of course thrilling to us, I want to acknowledge that it's bitter sweet news for many... as much as it breaks my heart to think about, some hearts will be aching as they hear this news thinking "another person having a baby... and I'm still not pregnant."

Our road to get pregnant was not easy, but compared to many who wait for years, it was a walk in the park. I feel blessed to say that we waited a little less than a year, and we received our hearts desire. Although we did need to seek medical help, it only had to go as far as two rounds of ovulation medication, and it happened. But let me tell you, that year of waiting was very painful! To be honest, that was the topic I was struggling with, but wasn't sure I wanted to blog about. I didn't want to be just another one of those "infertility bloggers" and I felt like it was really something that just God and I needed to work through together.

Waiting is not easy. (especially for me!) I don't deal with unknowns very well, which may sound ironic to those who know I love surprises! Every time a friend or acquaintance announced on Facebook they were having a baby, posted pregnancy "woes" or joys, or announced they had a baby, it really, really hurt! Although I was of course happy for these friends, I couldn't help but fall into the trap of thinking "when will it ever be MY turn??" and feeling sorry for myself for days.

I had started following a "style and hair" blog and felt so relieved to hear when she revealed that she too was waiting on God for a baby... but then was crushed (but of course happy for her!) to hear she unexpectedly became pregnant without even really trying. I stopped following her blog because it became too painful for me to hear about all the baby news and updates... but then one day decided to see "how she was doing"and came across pictures of her baby bump and it sent me into a downward spin. Even though I have never met this person, I felt a connection because of our shared struggle, but then felt so "hurt" that God gave her a baby... and left me waiting. Sounds so silly now when I'm writing it, but it was really hard at the time.

Even now, after having been through this year of waiting, I really don't understand God's timing, and feel like I don't have any answers for those who are waiting for a child... boy do I understand that verse about God's ways being higher than our ways! We have so many good friends who either have been or are going through this journey of waiting on the Lord for a baby. That's why I say that our news is not happy news for everyone. I know we have hurting friends, and I wish I knew why they are on the journey they are on and could give them all the answers... but I can't. I don't know why God has blessed us with a baby at this time after less than a year of praying and waiting, while friends who have been waiting and praying for years are STILL waiting. I did a lot of growing during those days when my heart was aching, but I still don't have any answers as to why God allowed me to become pregnant when He did...

So, this being said, I have decided to keep my Facebook page free of baby updates, and keep that strictly to this blog. I felt like every time I logged in to Facebook in my "waiting stage", the pregnancy updates/baby news was everywhere, and I couldn't avoid it (didn't want to block those friends or anything like that, and I still wanted to keep up with them). I don't want my friends to feel that way, so I'm only writing baby updates on here so that those who want to see them can, but those who don't can avoid them. It probably sounds kind of silly or extreme, but I just want to be as sensitive as I can.

Thanks for understanding :) Hope I'll be consistent with updates on here, but no guarantees!! More later... :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

what to say...

ah, poor little blog... so lonely and neglected!! I am sure I will regret not updating more, but it's gotten bumped very low on my priority list!

Life continues to be busy! I'm still in the midst of full time language study which of course fills up most of my time. Bobby's busy with Bible Studies and sermon prep as our teammates are on furlough right now. Just a little less than 2 months till they get back though! Can't believe how fast time flies! Anyway, hopefully things will slow down a bit for him after they get back. We have an annual conference coming up at the end of October which we are looking forward to. We have a couple from the home office (actually I think they may be "one the field" somewhere in Asia for most of the year, and I don't really know what their "title" is) coming to speak. They are both really great speakers and I'm particularly looking forward to Sue's talks for the women. She's written a couple really good books I've read (like this one and this one).

We are continuing to get to know our neighbours... it's finally starting to get cool enough to go out for walks again so we'll be seeing more of them now. Our downstairs neighbours with 2 girls recently moved... but still live in this town so we hope to keep up with them. The other day one of the boys (about 11 years old) came with 2 friends and knocked on our door and said they wanted to learn English! We were a little surprised, but welcomed them in and Bobby gave them a brief "lesson". I was thanking God for such a great opportunity He literally placed right in front of us! Hoping and praying they'll come back again so we can get to know them better!

We've had an encouraging summer of kids' ministry... we had 4 kids pray to accept Christ! Please pray for wisdom with follow up!!

I've recently started helping with a group that meets on the Base in Iwakuni called MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers). I'm helping with childcare every other Thursday. I've only done it once so far, but it was fun. I enjoyed being able to play in English :)

Other than that, I can't think of much else to say! Thanks for sticking with me even though I never write anymore!! Hope you have a great week!! :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Well, I did it! I chopped my hair all off! Felt like it was a summer necessity because it's just so humid here! I like it so far, but it's a pretty big change. I just did it a couple days ago so I haven't had much time to "play with it" yet so that will help me decide better! (not that I can do anything to change it!) :P

Other than that, not much new around here! We're on vacation this week so we're enjoying that. Kind of a mix of "doing things" and just chilling :)

I went on a one day bus tour with a friend on Monday... here's the pics from that...

And here's a link to my "summer album" which includes our third anniversary celebrations! :)

Happy summer!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Bobby and I were recently given the opportunity to meet friends in Kyoto to see a Kabuki (traditional Japanese theatre) show...
Here's the link to our pictures from that day...
What an experience!! So thankful for these generous friends who gave us such a great cultural experience that many people never get to have (even Japanese people)!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Changing things up...

Ah, spring is here! (and my blog needed the proof!)

Sorry it's been so long... blogging has gotten bumped really far down on my priority list, which makes me a little sad. I really do enjoy doing it, and also enjoy having the record of what we've been up to (which is fun to look back on!) but I just haven't been making time for it these days. Language study is pretty draining, so I am pretty selective about what I do with my free time... although blogging is probably a good form of debriefing, I just don't ever feel up to doing it after a full day/week of studying!

Anyway, I thought I could at least give my blog a spring/summer (sneeky of me to choose a theme I can use for 2 seasons!) and thought it might inspire me to write more.

There is something that's been on my heart in the last few months that I'm debating about blogging about... I'd love to take the time to share what's going on inside me these days, but it's pretty personal, and I'm not sure I'm ready to make it "public" yet. I have a feeling it has the potential to be very healing for me (and perhaps others too) to just open up about it, but I haven't decided if I'm going to or not. (vague, I know... sorry about that!) One thing that's stopping me from doing it is the fact that I think it might be better expressed in the form of journaling between God and I first... and maybe shared with "the world" later on. What I really need to do is just sit down and process... praying and writing, but I know it's going to be a pretty emotional time and not something that can be done quickly so I've been putting it off... but I need to do it soon!

So... for now I'm holding off on blogging about it... and obviously time will tell what my decision ends up being!

Well, I should be off to bed for now... another busy week takes off tomorrow so I ought to get a good night's rest! Thanks for your patience, faithful readers! :)

-Hillary :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2012 Reading List

I've seen a couple other people do this and since I read a whole lot more this year than I normally do, I thought it would be a fun thing to do!

Here's what I read last year... (* means I can't remember if I read this in 2011 or 2012)

Cross Cultural Servanthood (Duane Elmer) A required read; a little dry for me (although I'm sure many would disagree!) but I did learn a lot about the importance of defining servanthood according to my "host culture" instead of my own culture (the two can be very different!)

Cry of the Soul (Dan B Allender & Tremper Longman) Required; again a little dry (and again I'm sure many would disagree!) but it helped me to see how God has designed our emotions to draw us closer to Him

Growing Through Stress (Kath Donovan?) (I can't find this one on Amazon for some reason) Required; I somewhat enjoyed reading this book (the technical explanations were kind of boring for me) and I learned a lot about myself through this one. It caused me to think about what makes me feel stressed and how I deal with it, and helped me to think about what helps me to relax and avoid the "bad stress" from building up. (yes, there is apparently such a thing as "good stress" that I didn't know existed!)

Real Sex (Lauren Winner) Required; Although I probably never would have picked up this book by choice because I thought chastity only applied to singles, I really enjoyed it. It really opened my eyes to the fact that chastity (purity) is not just something for singles to practice, but it also applies to married people too.

Sabbath Keeping (Lynne Babb) Required; I really loved this book! I had never really thought much about what it means to "keep the Sabbath" but this book really convinced me of the importance of having a Sabbath. I had always thought that Sunday was the only option for a "true Sabbath", but the author made me realize that any day can be a Sabbath... all you are doing is setting aside a day (or half a day) for the Lord, resting in Him and dedicating that time to Him. And, that might look different for everyone! What is resting for some might feel more like work for others, so it's all about finding out what rest means for you. I wish I was more dedicated to having a regular Sabbath (especially since Sundays here are so busy!) but I'm hoping to do some half day Sabbaths once we start taking Mondays off. I highly recommend this book!!

Sacred Marriage (Gary Thomas) Required; This book was really good! I read it with Bobby which I really enjoyed doing. I recommend this book for both single and married people as it really changes your definition of marriage. I think it would have been great to have this perspective before we got married, but of course it's not too late. The main idea of the book is 'what if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?' It is a little long, but definitely worth reading! Someday I'd like to read Sacred Influence too.

Search for Significance (Robert McGee) Required; I also did the workbook with this one (as the Christar counselor recommended) and really liked it. As you can tell from some of the titles further on, I have some issues with people pleasing and finding my identity in Christ! I really like the resources this book had (charts and "activities" and I think it's a book that all Christians can benefit from reading.

Survival Kit for Overseas Living (L Robert Kohls) Required; To be honest, I didn't really enjoy this one too much... it was a required reading and I did learn things from it, but it is pretty geared toward business people if I remember correctly. Also, since I have previous cross-cultural living experiences and a lot of training in this area already, some of it felt repetitive. It is good for first-timers though!

Victory Over the Darkness (Neil Anderson) Required; Another book that I'd recommend for all Christians. It also has a lot of great resources and powerful Scripture references to remind you of who you are in Christ!

When People are Big and God is Small (Edward Welch) Required; This one taught me a lot about the dangers of fearing man more than fearing God... and I'd probably recommend this one to all Christians too. One thing I discovered in reading all these books about self-esteem and identity is that I'm not alone in my struggle to fight thinking more about what others think about me more than what God thinks of me!

Surrender to Love (David Benner) This one was recommended to me by a counselor and I really loved it. It is the kind of book you have to read slowly to let everything sink in. It's really easy to read, but it makes much more of an "impact" when you read it slowly in little chunks at a time. It basically just reminded me of the importance of just being with the Lord and resting in His mercy and grace rather than focusing on what I'm doing for the Lord and earning His approval. This is another one I recommend to all Christians.

The Power of a Praying Wife* (Stormie Omartian) This is a book I got on sale shortly after we got married but never got around to reading it until last year (I think... it may have been 2011 when I finished it, but I don't remember) I really loved this book! It's broken into 30 chapters with specific prayers at the end of each chapter and Scriptures to go with the theme of the chapter. Since it is 30 chapters, I have put sticky tabs on each prayer and usually pray one each day for Bobby. I have found it really beneficial to have guided and specific prayers for him, praying in ways that I might not have thought of praying for otherwise.

A Confident Heart (Renee Swope) This was one I got free for Kindle and I'm really glad I read it. It also has some great resources in it and I'll likely end up reading it again sometime. I really like Renee Swope's writing and I actually subscribe to a daily devotional she's part of (Proverbs 31 Ministries).

Becoming Fearless: My Ongoing Journey of Learning to Trust God (Michelle Aguilar) This was another free one :) Michelle was the winner of a season of The Biggest Loser and the subtitle really attracted me to it. I must confess that although I enjoyed the book, there wasn't as much spiritual substance to it as I was expecting there to be. It was neat to hear about all the behind the scenes stuff from the show though.

Choosing to SEE (Mary Beth Chapman) (I borrowed this e-book from the library!) This was by far one of the best books I've ever read! The Chapman's have a really powerful testimony and they've done a fantastic job of bringing much glory to God through their lives, especially in the midst of a horrible tragedy! I have a much greater appreciation for Steven's music now. I also have a greater understanding of the depth of grief that goes along with losing a child. I now understand that it never really goes away and those who have lost a child will never "get over it" as society seems to expect them to. Although it was really sad in some parts and difficult to read because of the reality of the situation, I HIGHLY recommend this book!

Christmas at Harringtons (Melody Carlson) This was just a "for fun" fiction book I read last month because it was Christmas :) (and this one was free too!)

The Christmas Dog (Melody Carlson) Reading the last book was so much fun I decided to read one more... this one was free too!

How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living* (Judith Turnbridge) I read this one with Bobby when we were in the process of moving/shipping things to Japan and it was pretty good. Although I don't honestly remember a lot about it, I think it was a helpful reminder to hold things loosely and keep life simple! :)

In the Presence of My Enemies (Gracia Burnham) This was another powerful book that I really enjoyed. It was a little long, but still good. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be in a situation like Gracia and her husband were in! It really opened my eyes to just how good we have it here in Japan and how blessed we are... the gift of having a Bible to read every day really stood out to me from this book.

Kiss Me Like You Mean It: Solomon's Crazy in Love How-To Manual* (David Clarke) It seems like since I can't remember much about this one or the de-cluttering one, it must mean I read them in 2011! I read this one with Bobby too and it was a good reminder of the importance of keeping the romance and passion alive in your marriage. It was a pretty good "light read" for us.

The Japanese Mind: The Goliath Explained (Robert Christopher) Required; this one was my last required read to finish and it was one of the hardest!! We basically read it in the car all summer while we were traveling. It's a good book, but it's a little out-dated now and it has a lot of topics I consider to be quite boring! I did learn some things though and I'm grateful I had Bobby to keep me motivated to read it :)

Skinny: A Novel (Laura L Smith) This was another free one... I think it was one of the first "for fun" books I got to read after finishing all my required reading this summer. I liked it... but maybe that's because I like "teeny-bopper" books and movies! Seriously though, I did learn a lot about eating disorders and it made me more aware of what a struggle that is for some girls.

The Atonement Child (Francine Rivers) I've read this one before (maybe in High School), but I remembered it being really good so I wanted to read it again. I borrowed this e-book from the library too! I don't think I enjoyed it as much as the first time because I remembered the basic story line, but it was still good. Another book that gives you a new perspective on things!

Reclaiming Lily (Patti Lacy) Another free one :) It's a fiction book about a couple that adopts a girl from China, and ends up "running into" her older sister. It was "so-so" in my opinion.

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption (Katie Davis) I've been wanting to read this book for a while because it's about Uganda but the libraries didn't have it... then I came to Japan and a co-worker had it so I borrowed it from her! I have to say that while I enjoyed it, it wasn't as good as I was expecting it to be. I guess because so many people had "talked it up", I had high expectations for it. But, I did like it, and I think Katie does a wonderful job of painting the picture of what life in Uganda is like.

I think that's all... but I could be forgetting some! I had no idea I had read this much until I started making my list (and didn't realize how long this would take until I was too far in!) 2012 was a year for reading for me for 3 main reasons... I had a lot of Christar required reading to do; we did a ton of traveling; and I got a Kindle (and we have this great site that we get free Christian books from all the time... check out

I really do love to read... especially when it's "for fun" (books I get to choose) and I hope I can read lots this year too... although it is hard while in full time language study! Maybe I should start going to bed earlier and reading before bed!

Right now I'm reading A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Elliot (Amy Carmichael's biography) and it's really good... it's pretty long and I wish I had more time to read so I could finish it! As a team, we're going to work through A Vision of the Possible in the next few months. There's a lot of other books I'd like to read... but we'll see how this year goes! :)

Happy Reading to all!! Feel free to let me know any good books you're reading or have read that I should read too! :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

First Post of 2013...

Hello faithful followers!

I've been wanting to do a "year in review" post for a few days now, but I've managed to bump it pretty low on my to-do list this week! (by they way, I'm on vacation this week and loving it!)

Just now I scrolled down to see a list of my blogs this year to help me make up my highlight list, but I was a little shocked to see I've only written 11 posts in 2012! 2009 was 84 posts, 2010 was 48 and 2011 was 39! Guess I've slowly been getting worse at this! It does make me sad though because I really do love to blog... and I love having a record of what's happened in our lives. I think the same thing has happened in my journaling life... I used to journal all the time... but I hardly ever do now! I guess you could say that is one of my hopes for 2013... get back into journaling! Bobby and I are going to be taking Mondays off starting in February and I'm hoping to use Monday morning as my "extended quiet time"... which will likely include journaling.

Anyway, Here's just a glimpse of what we've been up to this past year... I think if I had to choose one word to sum it up, 2012 would be the year of transitions!

January started off in a way I never would have expected... Bobby and I spent New Year's Eve (including the countdown!) in the ER in Regina where I ended up getting a blood transfusion! I have a feeling this is probably a but of a surprise for some of you to hear because I didn't say anything about it before, but I just didn't want to worry people... and it was kind of embarrassing to talk about! I won't go into details because I know that's too much info, but basically my body wasn't functioning as it is supposed to every month and I lost a lot of blood in a short period of time. I was so weak that I couldn't even stand up for longer than a few seconds and of course I was ghostly white (for the record, looking like a ghost can really get you moving in the ER!) I'm grateful for the wonderful care I received both in Winnipeg and Regina and I have a new appreciation for good health... and blood donors!!!

I also finished up working at Siloam (I was there over Christmas to help with the Christmas rush in Donation Processing) and that's about it for January. Oh, we did get the news that I got scheduled for a green card interview in Montreal in February!

February as mentioned, we went to Montreal for my green card interview! Although we hit some bumps that day, all went fine and we were surprised to hear that day that my application had been approved and we were cleared to move to the States! (we didn't know we would get that news so soon) While we were in Montreal, we were able to meet up with my old neighbours from Caronport who live in Montreal now. They were so kind and generous and showed us a lot of fun things! We got to go to the Snow Festival (I forget the name) which was really fun! It was really neat to catch up with them. My sister used to babysit their kids, who are now in University!
Looking out over Montreal
We love Barrier Bay!
We also got to go back to our honeymoon cabin for 2 days which was a blast!

March was pretty quiet... unless my memory is failing me! We celebrated our 2 year engagement anniversary on the 31st by going back to "our spot" at the Forks. This month was also the one year anniversary of the 3.11 earthquake in Japan.

Back in "our spot" 2 years later!
April was another quiet month according to my blog and picture files... We celebrated my 26th birthday on the 26th by going to Stella's for breakfast and going to the zoo (among other things I love to do!) I'm sure we were really busy this month getting ready to move out of our apartment for May 1st. I'm so blessed to have a husband who works so hard to make me happy! He had a lot on his plate when my birthday rolled around this year and yet he intentionally set aside the day to be with me and do the things I love to do :)

Breakfast at Stella's!
Enjoying the conservatory
the zoo!!
May was one of our busiest months of 2012! We lived in 2 countries and I can't even count the number of beds we slept in! At the beginning of May we headed west to Calgary/Edmonton. In Edmonton we represented the Winnipeg Japanese Alliance Church at a Canadian Japanese Ministry's conference. We were able to make a lot of connections there and had a great time. We also got to see one of my elementary school friends (actually I think I would have been 4 or 5 when we first met in NS!) and met her husband for the first time!
Rhoda! Fist time we've seen each other in 8 years!
After Edmonton, we headed to Calgary where we got to visit the Japanese church I did my practicum in before I went to Japan (while I was in CrossTraining) It was so great to see so many familiar faces and see some of the kids a lot more grown up than when I was there in 2007! After our church visits, we headed west to the Rockies and enjoyed one night in Canmore and did some sightseeing in Banff too. It was SO beautiful and we loved every minute of it! Here's just a few of our favorites...

Can't pass up an opportunity to have Cow's ice cream! 
So much beautiful scenery! 

Lake Louise (still frozen in May!)
Bobby got to say he's been to BC because we drove to the border , took a picture and turned around!
We also got to be around for "baby K's" first birthday which was really special for me. (We planned our move around this) I absolutely love being an auntie and can't get enough of this girl!

Shortly after K's birthday, we said our goodbye's and headed south! Everything went so smooth with my paperwork... and the guys at the airport were actually excited to process my papers because they don't get to do this kind of paperwork very often! I don't remember if it was May or June, but shortly after we moved, I got my green card!!! 

June had us in Texas for a week for our pre-departure orientation with Christar. It was a lot less stressful than I was expecting so that was great! 

We also got to attend my other nieces' dance recital which was really fun! She is so adorable and it was so fun to get to spend so much time with her this summer.

July was another busy month! At the end of June and the first week of July we went to Myrtle Beach with Bobby's family. Although it was a little crowded at times, we had a lot of fun and we made a lot of memories! We even got to have lunch with my aunt and uncle (Mom's brother). I don't remember the last time I saw them because they live in the States. We also celebrated our 2nd anniversary and Bobby's birthday this month

Uncle Dave, Aunt Roseanne, and my cousin, Dylan
Happy Anniversary!
August was full of summer fun... I'll let the pictures do the talking!

So special to witness Drew's baptism!
Helping at a supporting church's VBS- representing "team Japan"
We also got to zip up to Niagara Falls and see my best friend Angela and spent a few days with her and her husband one last time before they head to Spain and we headed to Japan!

September brought a big change for us! We said our goodbyes... (again!) and we landed in Japan!! Of course we are grateful for the last 2 years of "waiting", but it sure was good to be back! After a few weeks of waiting, we moved into our apartment which we now love! (after having dealt with the bats, that is!) We enjoyed being back in ministry again and reuniting with old friends.

October brought a little bit of routine to our lives... we got settled and our home started to feel like home. in mid October we had our annual Christar retreat and were joined by some Pioneer missionaries nearby (including a fellow Canadian!) I also started full time language study!

November was apparently an uneventful month because I don't have any pictures or blogs to draw from! I guess I was just busy with language study!

December was a very busy ministry month... we had the ladies' luncheon, kids' Christmas party, candle services and lots of other activities! 

Ladies' Luncheon
Mrs T (a former English student)
our tree :)
Nijigaoka Christmas Eve service
My language teacher came to the Christmas Eve service with her daughter!
Hirao candle service
I guess that's all I can think of for highlights of 2012... although I'm sure I'm missing some things! We are grateful for all the ways the Lord led us and provided for us through the year and are looking forward to what this year holds for us!! Happy New Year!! :)