Homeward Bound
Sunday, September 30, 2007

In a few hours, I start the first leg of my journey home from Japan! After a bus ride to the airport, I will get on the plane in Tokyo about 6:00pm. Since Japan is 14 hours ahead of Texas, I'll travel back in time (cue Huey Lewis music) and arrive in Texas the same time and same day I left Japan. Weird.

Japan is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Lisa and Keith are committed to building relationships with these wonderful people, and showing them through their lives what it means to know and worship Jesus. Lisa and Keith are people of prayer and well-suited for the particular assignment God has given them. It has been a joy to spend a week with their family. Their three kids are so much fun!

FYI: Our computer at home has been sent in for some repair, so email correspondence will be few and far between. If I emailed you a digital album of pictures, you'll have to call to tell me what a great photojournalist I am. Ha!

Can't wait to see my husband and babies! I'm America Bound in a few short hours!

Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Karaoke with Lisa's English students.

Rainbow Roll Sushi in Tokyo

Tocho Building, Tokyo

Golden Pavilion, Kyoto








Yunessun Bath Spa
Friday, September 28, 2007


Still in Japan...just had time for one quick post. We spent the afternoon at a beautiful Japanese Bath Spa (in the "swimsuits required" section!) in the mountains. The wonderful, quaint little mountain town was Hakone, and the spa was called Yunessun. The drive into the mountains on the 170mph bullet train was breathtakingly beautiful.

The bath spa was tucked into the mountain side and was gorgeous as well. I was unable to stop myself from repeating two phrases:

1. "This is so, so beautiful."
2. "I wish Jonathan were here to see this. "

My emotions are really weird right now...I am having the BEST time and really enjoying myself, but I simultaneously miss my husband and kids terribly! (Thanks for emailing the pics babe, keep em' coming.)








Ittekimasu
Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ittekimasu means "I'm leaving" in Japanese. (Well, it does if the web page I was looking at is giving accurate information. Hopefully I didn't just post a vile Japanese cuss word.)

And leaving for Japan is just what I'm doing 36 hours from now! In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, at 3:30am, I'm headed to the Lubbock Airport for the first leg of a long trip to visit my best friend in Japan. Woo-whoo! I will leave the states on Tuesday morning and arrive in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon.

Lisa and I have been friends since Jr. High. Lisa, her husband Keith, and their three children live, work, and do ministry in Japan. They have been there about four years now.

Lisa is turning 30 years old on Thursday, and for her 30th birthday present her husband is flying me to Japan. Pretty great, huh? This is the first, and probably only time I will be someone's birthday present. I feel completely honored. It was supposed to be a surprise, but Lisa found about the plan mere days after it was contrived. Oh well - it's probably better that way, given her planning nature. She created and mailed me an itinerary for the trip! Awesome.

I'll be gone for a total of seven days. I'm going to miss my husband and my kids like crazy! That I will miss them incredibly is all I will say on the subject, for fear the tears will start to flow. I will say that I took a video of myself singing Lauryn's "Nite-Nite Song" and reading some of the boys' story books. I suspect that Jonathan thinks I'm a little weird for doing so, but he promised he would play the videos for them!


Shameless praise of my incredible husband: While I'm off having a great time all over the country of Japan, Jonathan will be here in Lubbock with the three kids. He'll have six mornings of getting every body ready - clothes, backpacks, and lunches. He can do it. He's incredible. Awesome. Amazing. Generous. Phenomenal. Some husbands might not be up for it, but he won't have any problems. He already does at least half the work around here anyway. (I wish I could say I was just saying that last part about work to make him feel good, but it's actually the truth.)


I'm sure my next post will include pictures of me and Lisa in Japan. Waku waku suru! (I'm excited!)

I checked out a book from the library to read on the plane:
JAPAN: It's History and Culture.
(Yes, as a matter of face, I am kind of a nerd.)





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How Embarrassing
Saturday, September 22, 2007


TUESDAY:
This Tuesday, I called a friend and invited her go to lunch on Wednesday. Jonathan heard me making plans, and started gesturing for me to put the phone down and talk to him. I held up one finger like "Wait just a minute! I'm on the phone!" Finally he said "Starr, put the phone down." So I asked my friend to hold on for a sec....and Jonathan reminded me that I had to go to WORK on Wednesday. (Generally I only work on Mon and Fri, but I had to attend a training meeting Wednesday.) So, I had to explain to my new friend (who is not yet familiar with the fact that I really
am a fairly intelligent and competent person), that I have to cancel the plans I just called her to make. Nothing like inviting, and then immediately un-inviting someone to lunch.

SATURDAY:
Today, I get the boys ready and we head out to a 4 year-olds birthday party at a friends house, birthday gift in hand. We pull up, ring the door bell....and we are there a DAY EARLY. That's right...the party isn't until Sunday.


Oh, and did I mention this is the
SAME NEW FRIEND that I invited to lunch on the day I had to work??? Luckily, she is super sweet and tried to play down the fact that I obviously need some sort of time management intervention as well as training in the proper use of a calendar.

But I still love myself! Ha!

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Children Teach the Best Lessons
Thursday, September 20, 2007


I love hanging out with Dylan in the afternoons. Ryan is at school, and Lauryn is taking a nap. So me and Dylan get to have some special together time.

One of his favorite things to do right now is say, "Hey Mom, I wanna tell you a secret!" So he comes over and pulls my hair away from my ear and whispers, "I love you!" It's pretty much a daily routine, performed several times a day.

This afternoon he mixed it up a little, and instead of saying his usual "I love you," he whispered, "I love everyone...I even love MYSELF!"

Dylan telling me "I even love myself," struck a chord with me today. Ever since his sweet and sincere declaration, I've been thinking about how Jesus commands "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:30-31)

I am reminded today (by my wise little three year old sage) that it is impossible to show genuine love toward others if we don't love ourselves first. And yet, almost without exception every young mom I know is so prone to be hypercritical of herself - her appearance, her housekeeping, her devotion, her parenting. It's all up for critical self-abuse. I'm done with that! (For now anyway...until I start to feel woefully unequipped and need another reminder to love myself!)








Snow White spotted in Lubbock
Wednesday, September 19, 2007






Thanks to Papaw and Mo for the adorable birthday present; a Snow White doll with a matching outfit for Lauryn. So fun!








Tribute to the Smiley Face
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

:-)

I seriously overuse the "smiley face" when I am sending emails or instant messages. I just love the little thing! (And, I tend to use a lot of sarcasm, exaggeration, and teasing when writing my friends, so the :-) is the only way I know to communicate that I'm typing with a smile.)


Happy Birthday little friend! :-)

Twenty-five years ago, Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says, he was the first to use three keystrokes — a colon followed by a hyphen and a parenthesis — as a horizontal "smiley face" in a computer message.

Fahlman posted the emoticon in a message to an online electronic bulletin board at 11:44 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1982, during a discussion about the limits of online humor and how to denote comments meant to be taken lightly.

"I propose the following character sequence for joke markers: :-)," wrote Fahlman. "Read it sideways."

full story








Birthday Girl
Sunday, September 16, 2007



Happy Second Birthday to Lauryn!

The birthday gift her Granny sent (the above accesories, with tiara and jewelry, and yes even a scepter) was a big hit!


I can't believe it's been two years ago that she made her grand entrance. Lauryn came home from the hospital a healthy little 7 lb 3 oz bundle of joy. A few days later, we were back at the doctor's office because she was struggling with an unexplained fever and difficulty breathing. We had a terrible moment when CPR became necessary, and she spent a night in the ICU. We never got a diagnoses, just a crazy amount of invasive and awful tests. We believe that God answered our prayers for healing and miraculously started working on our behalf; just as mysteriously as the symptoms had appeared, they disappeared. The doctor's sent us home saying that we needed to thank whoever was praying for our little girl.

Looking at her now, I'm so grateful how those terrible memories, of seeing her in the ICU with oxygen tubes and IV's invading her little body, have started to fade. She is such a happy, normally developing little girl! When she was in the hospital the doctor's performed ultrasounds, CT scans, and MRI's to determine if her little brain had suffered any damage from lack of oxygen. We prayed and believed that she would be completely whole and healthy (she was - everything was normal), and the Lord continues to answer that prayer.

She is a perfectly normal two year old, controlling her environment in all her two year old glory!

Her daddy has a great post about his little girl here.












Business Trip


I'm really tired. Completely pooped actually.

But I'm HAPPY to be so tired, because all the fatigue is caused by the 14 hours of travel we made in 2 short days to finally get our house sold! Praise the Lord!

We have had a whirlwind week. We found out Wednesday the sale was definitely going to happen. We also found out we would need to be in Dallas two short days later to sign closing papers. So we packed up the kids early Friday morning, and pulled into the title company in Dallas seven long hours later. We signed the paperwork, while trying to keep three kids still and compliant. Not an easy task considering they had just spent seven hours trapped in car seats in a mini-van, but I was proud of their effort.

We spent one night in Dallas, and had to leave Saturday morning to get home and take care of responsibilities back in Lubbock. I'm bummed that we couldn't make time to see more of our friends back in Dallas. But, thankfully two of my girlfriends from Dallas will be here visiting Lubbock next month, so knowing I'll see them soon made it a little easier to be in such close proximity and not get to visit them!

By the way, if you're ever in Mesquite Texas, I know a great little Bed and Breakfast I can recommend. It has absolutely wonderful owners with a great sense of humor, who like to stay up late talking and laughing. There are comfortable beds, soft towels, and ample toys for the kids to play with. The rooms are beautiful and fashionably decorated. They also make a wonderful dinner and a marvelous breakfast, and there is always a great cup of coffee upon request. Their kids will even make a personalized "welcome" sign, so that you can feel extra special upon your arrival. (Okay...so we didn't really stay at a B&B; we really just stayed with some good friends willing to take the five of us in, but they were terrific hosts! HJ - Thanks for the great time, and we can't wait to see you guys again!)








Coolness
Saturday, September 15, 2007


My nephew Connor, lookin' oh-so-cool in his leisure suit.

Stay tuned...according to published reports (email updates from Papaw), I have a feeling that any day now Mr. Connor will be walking!








Such Manners!
Thursday, September 13, 2007


Lauryn tells me "I want a cookie."

I ask "What do you say?", expecting her to say please.

She replies sweetly and with a smile, "I want a cookie. Now."










Down for the Count
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yesterday about 2:00pm I was hit with a crazy nausea-inducing headache. I'm not prone to getting headaches, but this one was a whopper. All I could do was turn on cartoons for Dylan and Lauryn, and bury my head under my pillow in bed. The light rays that were seeping through my mini-blinds felt like knives plunging into my skull.

By 3:00pm my headache was all-consuming, and I was really feeling sick to my stomach; so I called Jonathan at work and asked him if he could please pick up Ryan from school and bring him home.

So....Jonathan, love of my life, picked up Ryan...came home and got the other two kids...and spent the entire evening going to two different parks, Wal-Mart, and McDonald's with the kids so that I could have four and a half hours of uninterrupted quiet. Then he came home and gave them baths and put them to bed. Is he incredibly awesome? Yes. A thousand times yes.

Also awesome is promethazine, the sleep-inducing nausea medicine I took that allowed me to sleep from 3:00pm yesterday afternoon until 7:30am this morning.

I feel much better today. A little tense perhaps from being in bed for 16 hours straight, but better.










Drumroll Please
Sunday, September 9, 2007


Today, September 9th, 2007:
Jonathan and I went to church. TOGETHER.

Being that he's a Children's Pastor, on Sunday morning he is in Children's Church with the children. Obviously.

But, our new church has three services, and he's secured reliable help for the first two services when the children have Sunday School classes. So, at at 9:45 this morning we were side by side in church. In a pew. Worshiping together. Listening to the sermon together. Hallelujah! I hope this is the beginning of a continuing trend.

Then at the 11:15 service, we work together in the Kids' service with about 150 kids in 1st thru 5th grade. Sunday's are good times! Tiresome, yet good times!








Good Intentions
Saturday, September 8, 2007

After grocery shopping:

me: "Babe, I got your regular Little Debbie snacks, but then I put them back and got you some peaches instead."

jonathan: "[blank look]"

me: "I did it because I love you."

jonathan: "[another blank, disbelieving look]"

He's not feelin' the love.








Up Up and Away



I read in the paper last week that a Hot Air Balloon Festival would be in a neighboring town this morning, and I planned to get up early and take the kids. Then I failed to write it down and forgot all about it.

When the kids got up today, I told them to throw on some clothes and we would go to the donut shop. My intention was just to get them out of the house so Jonathan could have a somewhat restful morning.

When we pulled out of our neighborhood, we spotted three hot air balloons in the sky, and I was reminded of what I had intended to do this morning! So we drove out to the festival, and called Jonathan and he decided to come join us. We parked on the side of the road, directly next to a field where two of the balloons were inflating and lifting off about 50 yards away. We were close enough to hear the "whoosh" of the flame. It was impressive! We saw about 15 balloons take off and land in the distance.

Ryan decided that he wouldn't want to ride in that "tiny" basket. I think Dylan may have jumped right in if given the chance!









Heroic Proportions
Thursday, September 6, 2007


Dylan's new favorite thing is drawing five "happy faces" to represent our family. Then he comes and tells me,"This is me, this is Ryan, this is Lauryn, this is you, and this is Daddy." I may not be able to distinguish the rest of the family without help from Dylan, but I never have any trouble pointing out Daddy. In every drawing, almost without fail, Jonathan is at least three times bigger than the rest of us.


So cute.








Sticky Hands, Full Bellies, and Happy Hearts
Wednesday, September 5, 2007

click image to enlarge

"There is nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with chocolate."



Lauryn and her two friends seriously enjoyed these fudgsicles - all the way down to their toes. Literally! A crazy messy treat, but this cute picture my friend took makes it worth the time we spent in clean up. And at least we've been around the block enough to know to just remove their clothes entirely before passing out dripping, melting, chocolate on a stick to one year olds. (By some miracle, Ryan and Dylan kept remarkably clean. Either they are learning to be somewhat neat, or they consumed the fudgsicle so fast there was no melting involved. Likely the latter.)

We're so grateful for the God-given friendships we're making in Lubbock. Meeting other stay at home moms with small children has been an answer to my prayers. Slowly but surely Lubbock is becoming "home." Every week something happens to confirm that we have made the right choice in coming here. God is good.



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Bedtime Blues
Monday, September 3, 2007



Me: "Okay guys, you can look at books for five more minutes, then it's lights out."


Ryan: "Mommy, it would be great if nighttime were only one minute long."


One minute of sleep per night: Every kid's dream. Every mom's worst nightmare.








Brown Baggin' It


Ryan's only been in school one week, and I already feel bored with what I'm packing in his lunch sack. Beyond sandwiches, or spaghettio's or ravioli in his little thermos bowl, I'm pretty much out of ideas.

Suggestions?

I got a few new ideas from Google, but it's more fun to hear your suggestions.








Wacky Dr. Seuss Day
Saturday, September 1, 2007

This morning we went to the library and checked out some Dr. Seuss books.

Then, we went to a local playa lake to feed the ducks, and were literally overtaken by the quacking creatures. They were flying in from every direction and landing on the water directly in front of us...taking the bread directly from our hands...surrounding us on every side...impressing the boys and completely freaking out Lauryn. We threw the last of our crumbs and ran to the van with the ducks on our heels. Feeding the ducks is a near weekly occurrence for our family, and I don't know that I've ever seen so many ducks at once. (For local readers, it was the playa lake off of Memphis and 82nd, near Honey Elementary.)

Then, we went to this newly discovered park that looks like it came from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.




Miraculously, he didn't land directly on his face.
His knees, however, did not escape mild punishment.










Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)

 







 



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