Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Year In Review

I sit here, New Years Eve 2015, thinking where has the year gone?

Some of the BIG happenings...
  • Between December ('14) & April, Joshy was hospitalized 3 times with pneumonia.  Each time his blood counts bottomed out & he required blood transfusions.  He had been transfusion free for more than a year, then BAM.  It honestly felt like we had lost years in the recovery process, thankfully, once the pneumonia cleared up his levels would bounce back.
  • In April, Kei started attending school full time at the special needs school connected to the hospital near our house.  She is blossoming in school. 
  • In April, Joshua was allowed to return to his school, the other special needs school in our area (a 15 min. drive) instead of having the teacher come to the house.  He doesn't attend full time, but he does go every day.
  • Juggling 2 different special needs schools & driving the kids back and forth has been challenging.  Two different sets of moms & teachers.  Two totally different schools, but each school fits the needs of Kei & Joshy.

  • In April Jerry did not go back to what, at one time, had been his main school.  The past few years they have slowly been whittling his schedule down.  They were going to cut his classes by half again which would mean  he would have been traveling more hours than he was teaching.  Heavy class loads, hours on end of paperwork with no compensation & travel, it just wasn't worth it.
  • During the winter, Joshy's hematologist gave tentative permission for a trip to the states.  We couldn't travel during cold & flu season.  We needed to be careful of extremely busy travel times.  We needed to take extra precautions, but if we could get blood counts to hold we should be able to travel.  With this in mind when we set the ECS school year calendar (April-March) we were able to plan our summer vacation for September.  We held our breath, prayed a lot, and made double plans - just in case he couldn't travel, but we bought tickets anyway.
  • Bekah turned 18 on June 8th. Cannot believe she is a senior and will likely be flying the coop before long.   Jerry also broke his foot in June.
  • We celebrated our 30th anniversary in July.  We had planned to climb Mt Fuji, but Jerry's foot would not allow it..  Maybe next year.
  • In August, I, Laura, went white water rafting.  I survived, had a blast actually, but the same weekend our refrigerator died!!

  • All 5 of us spent September 6th ~ 21st in the Indiana.   It was a crazy 2 weeks.  Not nearly enough time to see everyone.  It was still an amazing trip filled with many memories, especially spending time with our oldest daughter & her children.

  • Just after our return from the states, Kei went on her school trip.  They had an over night trip to Niigata city which was packed full of adventures.
  • In November Joshy turned 13.  We now have 3 teenagers in the house!!
  • We had record attendance at Halloween, Thanksgiving, & Christmas out reach events.
It has been a full year.   I am thankful for everything we encountered, the good, the bad, & the ugly.  I am thankful to have made it through another year.  I also wonder what 2016 will bring.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Old & New

Last night was our annual Carols & Candle Light Service.  

This year we had several firsts...
* Our brand new neighbors, they finished their house & moved in the beginning of Nov., came with their 16 month old.
* Two former students, who are all grown up now, came.  We just recently got back in touch.
* A mom & her 2 sons, who just started classes this month, came.  Low & behold they know Kei & another family who came because of swimming.  The mom also knows some of Jerry's students who came.
* Several students, from both of the universities Jerry teaches at, came.  We have occasionally had students from one or the other, but never from both and never so many.
*We had nearly 30 people.
*We actually ran out of candles & needed to reuse candles from last year (glad they were still around)




We sang several songs, read a simple version of the Christmas story, and sang "Silent Night" while lighting candles.  The evening ended with snacks, games, & chatting.  We are thrilled that that some many were open to come to this event.  Please pray with us that this might be a spring board to the International English Bible Study we have.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Family Time Between Parties

Pure & simple - December is party month!

4th was a PTA mama's party at Kei's school.
7th was a mama's pizza party at our house with some of the "B" course mamas from Joahy's school.
11th was a year end party with mom's & teachers from Joshy's school
13th was the CS / AWANA Christmas Party.
16th ~ 18th every ECS children's class had a party during class.

Still to come...
20th is the ECS Candle Light Service / Christmas Party
21th & 22nd will be the last children's class parties.
23rd is the all church Christmas party.

For children's classes we have; made candy cane cookies, done word searches or other appropriate worksheets while the cookies baked, read J is for Jesus, the Sweetest Story Ever Told, & played bingo.



Today, was a party free day... a day for some family time <3

For the 1st time in at least 5 years we went to the mall...on a Saturday... in December... when we knew it would be crowded... WITH Joshua!  (Joshy's cancer center check up on the 14th showed his counts holding.  His neutrophil, infection fighting, numbers were great.  AND we were able to make a small taper in his immune suppression drugs!)


After the mall, we went to Echigo Hillside Park to check out the illuminations.





One "tree" was unique in it was made of champagne glasses & had been made into a fountain.  It was set up on a rotating light system, too.  (The pictures don't show the fountain effect, but water cascaded down from the top.  It was quite amazing.)


There was also a tree made from empty 2 liter drink bottles.

There were also musical performances, but we didn't stay that long, because we had already pushed our limits - Joshy had reached his limit of being in his wheelchair and Kei had reached her people limit.  Instead of pushing limits any further we picked up sandwiches on the way home where we watched Miracle on 34th Street to finish off the evening. It was a wonderful, much needed time out.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Time Out

Some of the mamas from Joshy's school had a self imposed time out today!

With coffee or tea...



homemade PIZZA!

We dropped our school age kiddos off at school and then met at my house.  We chatted, made pizza, & chatted some more, before we needed to head back to school to pick up our charges at day's end.  (Today was an early day, 1:30, for the younger students.)


Me thinks we need to do this more often! 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Time Flies...

Time flies when you are having fun...
when you are busier than a one armed paper hanger.

The Thanksgiving dinner on November 23rd was a success.  We ended up with 38 guests + our secretary & family, so 44 total was a F.U.L.L. house!


But everyone seemed to have a good time.

The rest of Thanksgiving week didn't slow down.  Bekah had her 2nd wisdom tooth cut out - meaning surgery on Wednesday with a follow up check on Thursday.  Then she needed to see the ENT to have her sinuses checked on Friday.  The ENT gave her another 2 weeks worth of meds and an all clear - provided she takes ALL her meds.  Kei needed to see her psychologist for a routine checkup on Friday, as well.  I think someone was feeling left out, because Joshy decided it was the perfect week for low temps and heart rates.  Oh yeah, and it was a normal work week, too.

Wait... Did I really say...
Normal work week?

All the children's classes made ornaments for the ECS tree.  This was fun, but challenging as well.


This past week had its normal challenges as well.  Classes & checkups & Christmas prep... you know normal, for us at least, December activities.  Plus a couple extra activities for school.

Yesterday, Saturday, I had a new opportunity.  The public library had a special 1st time event - a Christmas English story time which I was ask to teach.  It was actually more than a story time,   We did 3 songs with some vocabulary practice & a little sign language as well.  The I read What Is Christmas by: Michelle Medlock Adams.  We then made ornaments similar to the ones our students made.  And finished off the hour with a rousing game of Christmas Bingo. 

Today was the Sunday that the CS (Church School) kids decorated cookies to be delivered to all the neighbors near the church.  They decorated cookies & dipped pretzels.



30 households received cookies & fliers with all the upcoming Christmas events :)

This the Season!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Roller Skates

Where did I put my roller skates?

It certainly feels as if I have been on them recently, or, at the very least, should have been on them.  Seems as though everyday, along with the normal happenings, there has been something extra: extra doctor/dentist appointments, extra school events, extra holiday planning for upcoming out reach events, extra... you name it.

Yesterday, while Joshy was at school ALL day (this only happens 2x/week) I made full use of the time.  After dropping him off, I went to one of the stores that opens early (9am) in hopes that they might just have candy canes. (My hope was in vain.)  Then I ran next door to the 100 yen shop which opens at 9:30, to pick up ribbon & tree ornaments for next week's ECS children's classes - they will be making ornament to decorate the ECS tree.  Then I scooted off the my 10:00 preschool class.  After class, I headed to the next city over to see if one of the stores at the mall would have candy canes, cranberry sauce, & sugar sprinkles for cookies... 1 out of 3 isn't the best odds, but at least I came home with candy canes!  Plus I was able to get enough hot chocolate packages to fill in the gap between the 60 packages I got at Costco and the 80 I need to make Snowman Soup for all the ECS students and Sunday School Christmas party treat bags.  (Sure wish I had thought things through a bit better and had gotten a 2nd box of hot chocolate at Costco - it would have been cheaper :/ )  A bit of other fun shopping and it was time to head back to school to pick up Joshy & then Kei.  However, I didn't calculate my time quite right... I realize I was going to be early, so I stopped by the "Swan Pond" for a nice walk.  (The swans should be arriving from Siberia any time now, but alas, only the ducks were around.)  It was so nice to have some time in God's wonderful creation!

Last night, at dinner, Bekah ask if we had any plans for this weekend.  I said, "Thanksgiving outreach is Monday!"  She said, "Yeah, but do we have any plans for the Weekend?"  UMMMM... shopping & cleaning on Saturday, start the baking on Sunday afternoon so that everything will be prepped so that we can finish the rest of the dinner for almost 40 guests on Monday.  Nah, guess it will be a nice quiet weekend, just like the rest of the month has been :P

Friday, November 13, 2015


November 3rd is Culture Day here in Japan.  Translation, there are LOTS of extra school events!

Last Saturday, 7th, was Kei's school's Culture Festival.  Their special projects were put on display and the different classes did a presentation or performance for all to see in the school gym.  Having a crowd of people made Kei very nervous, but she did a good job.



This week it was Joshy's turn to have a special visit day at school.  All the students had their craft & art work displayed in the main hallway, then each class had their own activities in their rooms.  Joshy's class fallowed their normal morning routine with the exception that the teachers did a big story production.  The teachers dressed up, as well as, involving the children in the dramatization of a classic Japanese tale (I'm not sure what the story title is).



Both events were different, but interesting in their own way.  For both, the students and teachers put in a lot of effort to make the events happen.  I am not sure I honestly appreciate them enough, because personally, I am missing having a "normal" Saturday.