Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

It is 2010!

And we actually stayed up past midnight this year. Last year we went over to our friends house and came home and went to bed around 11:30. Hey, we had a newborn that we knew we need to be changed and fed.

This year we had friends from our small group Bible study over. We played a couple of games and ate some delicious food! We were hoping to see fireworks from our balcony (the Japanese randomly light fireworks and we have seen them a couple of times from our house) but that didn't happen.

It looks like 2010 might hold more travelling for us than 2009. We leave for Australia and New Zealand in about 2 1/2 weeks. We will be gone 20 days!!! After we get back I am going to allow a couple of weeks to forget about the long plane ride before I hop on an even longer one and space-a back to Oklahoma for a couple of weeks. Our only plane rides in 2009 involved going back to the states in March for 3 weeks. I think this has been the longest period where I haven't flown anywhere since 2005 (before that I had only flown twice in my life!)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coupon Adventures

As I mentioned in the previous post, Dustin brought a huge box full of coupons home. There are places where you can go and just get a bag full or even a box full. Since I recently lost my coupon organizer (I think I must have left it at the store when I was shopping for Grace's birthday party) I was excited to get a good start on my new coupon organizer. Needless to say, with this many coupons we have had some good laughs!

- A ziploc bag dated 1/14/02 and contents marked as "1lb. cube steak." It contained several coupons with no expiration date. One was for 12 cents off of flour!

- An envelope of coupons with a note enclosed that had the lady's name along with "Faith church" on the envelope she had written "Hope church" under her return address. Hmmm...

- We found a coupon that expired in 1999. Yes, over 10 years ago!

- Several of the envelopes contained coupons sorted into small ziplocs ("food" and "non-food") and had a note with how many coupons in that bag, how much they are worth, and how long it took to cut/sort/add them.

We still have more to sort through!!!

Getting into things

This is one of Grace's FAVORITE things to do:

If it isn't one thing she is into it is another. After this incident with our DVD's (which were already crammed into our DVD cabinet) we decided that all of the DVD's other than Grace's would be put in a binder and the cases are boxed up.

It is almost useless to even put books on the bookshelf anymore. She will pull them all off and then find the one she is looking for and sit down to read it.

Today, Dustin brought home a huge box coupons (a mail carriers box full of big envelopes that are stuffed full) that people (or groups) have sent from the states. We can use coupons 6 months past the expiration date so units here receive quite a few boxes full of coupons. We were sorting through it and pulling out the ones that are past the 6 months expiration and then putting the ones we will use aside. The rest we will pass on for others to go through and use. Well, Grace wanted to help! She was pulling coupons out of the trash can faster than I could put them in. Then she started to put them on my face. I think she was trying to tickle me because she recently learned to "tickle." It is a fun game she likes to play and she never really tickles anyone but she sure does try hard.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Playing with her feet!

Today Grace got to be picked up by her Daddy from the gym on Foster since he gets off at noon. She had a good time in Daddy's new $700 clunker, which holds her old car seat for Father/Daughter adventures. After her lunch of mac and cheese and veggies, she took a short nap. Mommy got home and suggested we use our Macaroni Grill gift certificate that we got for Christmas from Grandma Phyllis to go out to eat dinner with. The ride to and from the restaurant was hilarious! Grace entertained herself by taking off her shoes and socks (her favorite pastime) and laughing at her feet. She kept grabbing her bare feet and then letting them go while giggling at them and playing her own little game. Even after dinner, when it was almost her bedtime, she couldn't stop laughing at those cute little feet. Once home, we decided it was time to practice using the pink potty. To get her to go, we try everything from turning the bathroom faucets on to shaking a bottle of water. Tonight, Heather had the BRILLIANT idea of getting a bowl of warm water to put her feet in. Putting her feet in turned into putting her hands in, and putting her hands in turned into splashing water all over herself and Mommy. Let's just say that we used about 4 towels to clean up the mess!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The very last week of the year

Today is the last Monday in 2009!

It is also the last few days of half-days for Dustin. We had planned on doing the JCI on my van this week. JCI is the Japanese insurance we have to have and an inspection. First you have to go pay for the insurance, then you go to another office and pay some sort of fee, then you go pay the inspection fee and then have the vehicle inspected. Well, we found out that the place that does the inspection is taking a 2 week break for Christmas/New Year's so we will have to wait until next week to do the JCI. Hopefully they won't find anything wrong with my van because all of the fees alone are a lot.

We are going to be hosting all of our friends from our small group Bible study for New Year's Eve. There will be finger foods and desserts and games!! It should be a fun night. Maybe some of us will actually stay up to ring in the new year with a glass of sparkling grape juice!

And just a tip for anyone sending musical/talking toys in the mail: if you don't turn them off you may just freak out the people at the post office!! My mom found a talking Elmo on her way to send us a package so she put it in with what she was sending. Well, when I picked it up today the guy at the post office brought me a box saying "Elmo loves you sooooo much!." As he handed to me he just stared at it and said "that is kind of freaky." I am sure heads were turning as I walked out of the post office this afternoon!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

More room to play!

We put away all of our Christmas decorations today. While unraveling the lights from the tree I realized that we may only have this tree for one more Christmas. Once we are back stateside we are going to buy a real tree every year.

Grace found it rather funny that we were messing with the Christmas lights. We had left our front door open (it goes out to our foyer which is totally enclosed with another door that leads to the stairway and an elevator) and Grace was wondering back and forth. She shut herself outside a couple of times. When she came back in and saw us taking the lights off the tree she put her hand over her mouth and started laughing!

After the inside decorations were packed up she got to help with the outside lights. Her job was to play peek-a-boo with us! We opened up both of our balcony doors and let her run in and out. She had quite a good time!

We put the furniture back where it belongs and made room for all of Grace's new toys. Now she has her playroom back. She ran back and forth across the room throwing a ball and laughing. She has so much more room to play now that the sofa is back where it belongs!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Fantasy at the Zoo

The rain finally stopped so we were able to go see the snow, lights, and fireworks at the zoo! It was a really fun experience and we all had a good time.

{ready to go!}

{bundled up and waiting in line to see SNOW!}

{We are in an Igloo!}

{and there was a snowman}

We saw that you could pay 500 Yen to ride down a slide and we decided it wasn't worth it. But when we saw it we thought it might be fun after all. They let Grace go free too!

{Weeeee!!}

After we saw the snow it was time to eat so we went up to the pavilion we used for Grace's birthday party. We had packed a meal for Grace since most of the food at this type of thing is either noodles or fried and we are not fans of either. We ended up getting some french fries for us and hot chocolate from the vending machine! While we were eating we spotted a big inflatable Elmo and thought Dustin could win it for Grace. I am confident he would have won if we had more clear of instructions. We thought you had to throw the ball and hit the numbers and get 3 in a row. Turns out you had to throw the ball hard enough to knock the number out of the frame they were in. We didn't find this out until after he had hit a number and didn't have enough balls left for a bingo. Oh, well. Grace ended up with an inflatable wand instead!

When it got dark they lit up the entire park in Christmas lights. It was so pretty!! The pictures are not very good but you can somewhat tell what we saw.


Then we started making our way back to the entrance so we could watch the laser light show from there and then make a quick exit. Grace thoroughly enjoyed the laser lights! She was clapping and dancing to the music!

{watching the light show}

{on Daddy's shoulders}

We have taken several videos the last few days and I finally moved them to the computer so I am going to share a few.

The first 4 are from the zoo!

video
{checking out the snow}

video
{the little sled ride}

video
{still the King of Pop in Japan}

video
{this is very bad quality but I think you can get a little idea of what it like here!}

Grace had a wonderful Christmas morning! She got a new kitchen from Santa Claus and food, pots & pans, and a baking set from Mommy and Daddy. She got a lot of other things too - way too many to name them all!
video
{Grace playing with her new kitchen from Santa on Christmas morning}

Christmas Eve was a gorgeous day! Dustin fixed the wagon (a screw had came out) and took Grace for a ride on our balcony.

video
{going for a ride}

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Wonderful Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas this year! I am going to share our day in pictures (starting with Wednesday!)

{Grace painted a Christmas card for her Daddy on Wednesday}

{These poinsettias have been blooming outside our house for a few weeks! Those are our Christmas lights in the picture too}

On Christmas Eve we decided to make some fudge. It was a lot more difficult than I imagined. It took close to 30 min before it got to the right temperature. But it turned out GREAT!

{Grace got to help by licking the spoon}

{Mmmm... Delicious!}

On Thursday night we went to the Botanical Gardens light display. We were disappointed to find out that they are not doing the light show and fireworks this year.

{Here is a small glimpse of what we saw}

{This is one of the main photo op places}

{They gave us 20 tickets worth 100 Yen each when we went in the gate. We walked all over trying to find something to buy with them. Finally, we decided on a game where for 300 Yen you pick a marble out of a bucket and find a prize with a matching color. Grace got this princess wand!}

Then it was time to head home so we could go to sleep so Santa could come. Grace got to wear her cute Christmas PJ's and she set out cookies and egg nog for Santa and then fell asleep.

{It looks like Santa has been here!!!}

This morning when she woke up she just kept pointing at the door which is her way of telling me she wants to go to the living room. I think she knew that Santa had come! Maybe she heard his reindeer last night?

After we fed Grace breakfast we set up the web cam so my parents and one of my brothers could watch Grace open her presents. She had so much fun playing with her new things that she never opened the last one! She was also much more into the web cam than she has ever been. She played peek-a-boo with my Mom for quite a while! We had the computer on the coffee table and Grace would duck down and then stand up and say "Boo." It was so cute to watch!!

{She LOVES her kitchen and pots and pans}

{she played with this almost all day}

{But she didn't forget about her old toys}

I decided I would make a big Christmas lunch. We had turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, and honey wheat rolls.
{There was so much Grace needed 2 plates!!}

We had planned on going to the zoo tonight to see the light show and snow but it was raining and they won't put snow out if it is raining. Hopefully it will be a nice day tomorrow! Instead we just decided to go for a drive. We thought we might be able to pick up some dinner somewhere on base but EVERYTHING was closed. Then we decided to go to Toy's R Us (we noticed that almost everything off-base was open) but Grace started getting tired of the car and we were passing by our house so we decided that home would be just as good. We did enjoy getting out of the house even if we never even got out of the car!

{All in all it was a great day!}

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What is Christmas?

What Is Christmas?

Just what is Christmas, anyway?
Why do we celebrate?
Why is December 25
A very special date?

Is it about the Christmas tree,
With all the twinkling lights?
Is it about the Christmas cards,
The ones my Mommy writes?

Is is about the mistletoe,
Where Mom and Daddy kiss?
Is it about the Christmas play,
The one we never miss?

Is Christmas about Christmas gifts?
I love them very much.
Is Christmas about Santa Claus?
His beard is fun to touch.

Is Christmas about candy canes?
I think they taste quite nice.
Is Christmas about Santa's list?
They say he checks it twice.

Or maybe it's about the food!
Mom's Christmas cookies rule!
Or maybe it's about the snow.
White Christmases are cool!

Is it about the Christmas songs,
The ones we sing each year?
Is it about the Christmas elves
And Santa's eight reindeer?

No, that is not what Christmas is about!

All of these things are really nice,
And superduper fun.
But Christmas is much more than that --
It's all about God's son.

God sent his son, Jesus the Christ,
From heaven up above.
He came to earth to save the world --
God's greatest gift of love.

So, Christmas is the Lord's birthday
The day he came to earth.
Forever we will celebrate
His very special birth!

Okay, now I get it.

Santa Claus and Christmas tree
And presents are okay.

But Jesus is the real reason
We have a Christmas Day!

{Taken from the book "What is Christmas" by Michelle Medlock Adams}

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Where's the Line to See Jesus?

Let's not get so wrapped up in presents, trees, Santa Claus, and the busyness of Christmas that we forget the REAL reason for the season!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where is Santa?

Have you ever wondered how Santa can make it around the world in just 1 night? Well, I will give you a little hint: We will have already seen what Santa brought on Christmas morning before most of you even go to bed on Christmas Eve.

This year we will be tracking Santa's journey LIVE! And the best part about this is since we are a day ahead we will be able to watch Santa while YOU are sleeping! Just one of the advantages of being overseas!
If you would like to track Santa too you can do that at

I guess if you watch a day early you can watch Santa while WE are sleeping. I guess it all evens out somehow.

Merry Christmas Adam!

Do you celebrate Christmas Adam? You know, the day before Christmas Eve (Adam came before Eve). I think the Christmas Adam that stands out the most I was shopping with my Grandma. I used to always go shopping with her! We had gone to Fort Sill to do a little last minute shopping and as we were leaving the gate we heard this loud voice telling us to turn around. This was back in the day when there was hardly ever anyone checking ID's at the gate. But this day there was someone there and they had a megaphone and told us to turn around. My Grandma even heard it and she was deaf! So we turn around and find out that she was speeding. I think she was going maybe 25 mph. They let us go with a warning but I will always remember getting pulled over going so slow on Christmas Adam!

I have been saving these pictures for Christmas and I thought today was a great day to share them. They are from our photo shoot at Amanda's that we did on Grace's birthday. I had to act like Mr. Noodle (you know, that crazy guy on Elmo's World) to get her to laugh!





Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas is almost here!!!!!

Christmas is only a few days away!!!

{the tree is decorated and presents are wrapped}

{the stockings are hung}

{the countdown has begun!}

And here is a glimpse at our decorations this year.

{Grace's first Christmas frame and the picture of her and Santa last year}

{Our Nativity set}

{coffee table which has been moved to the entry area}

{and these are a few of the things we had to put "out of reach." See the little teddy bear holding the Christmas tree? I made that one!!}

{my collection of Precious Moments}

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

We went to ITT today and got tickets for the 14th Christmas Fantasy at the zoo! We are planning on going Christmas evening. There will be a laser light show, fireworks, and SNOW!! And we get to go in a japanese-style igloo!

On Christmas Eve we want to make it a tradition to go see Christmas lights so we picked up tickets to go to the Southeast Botanical Gardens marché de Noël. We went last year and they had a wonderful display of lights and a laser light show and fireworks. I think Grace is going to have a very good time both nights!

So now we have some fun plans for Christmas!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Little Cookie Taster!

Today we made Christmas cookies!! I should have put Grace's apron on her - it says "Cookie Taster" and is red with white trim (perfect Christmas apron!!!). She enjoyed helping frost the cookies and I think she stole a bite!

{her red and green Christmas tree}

We made boxes of Christmas candy for all of our neighbors and delivered them this afternoon. I found some cute boxes and sacks at the 100 Yen store and filled sacks with popcorn and pretzels and put them in a box and then put some cookies on a Christmas plate. I was planning on adding fudge and butter crunch but neither of those turned out. I may try to make those again so we can have them for our small group Bible Study potluck on Tuesday.

{the finished product}

{Christmas Cookies}

Before we delivered them we got ready for church (our church starts at 6pm). I decided that since it was cold enough for a sweater I would wear one of my favorites that I have not worn in almost 2 years, which happens to be red. And I decided that Grace should wear her Christmas dress since it is the Sunday before Christmas. So that led to Dustin putting on a nice shirt, which led to taking a family picture in front of our tree.

{I think it turned out good considering we had to use a self timer and hop around until it flashed so Grace would smile}

And then I just had to put this picture on here. I thought her outfit was adorable!

{notice the little sticker on her jeans}

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Candy

Last night I decided to start making Christmas candy. I have learned that with the humidity here (I think that is what the problem is anyways) my butter crunch has never turned out the same as it used to when I made it in my Grandma's kitchen. Last night I actually didn't even finish because I could tell there was something wrong. I think tonight I will try again and cook it a little bit longer and hope we at least have a little to eat and share. If not, I guess we will have to stick with a few other recipes I plan to make: white chocolate covered popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels, Christmas cookies, and maybe even some fudge! I bought some cute little Christmas bags and boxes at the 100 Yen store the other day and we are going to fill them with goodies and take them to all of our neighbors.

I need to go pull out my cook books and find some recipes so I can make sure I have all of the ingredients.

We saw Santa!!!!!

We saw Santa today!!!

We decided that we should go and change our cell phone plan (I think we do this every 4-5 months!) since we won't be using them while we are on vacation and we aren't even using all of our minutes as it is now. So after Grace woke up from her nap we headed to the BX where the cell phone company is. On our way we passed Santa! I was so glad I had grabbed my camera before we left. We were driving down the road and almost to base when I spotted a Japanese guy dressed in red jeans and a Santa shirt! I almost forgot I had the camera but remember just in time to zoom in and snap a picture.

{only in Japan!}

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All over the place

This is what Grace did while playing outside today:

{climb into the wagon. ALL BY HERSELF}

{play in the wagon}

{find something interesting...}

{decide that is cooler than the wagon}

{find a way to get the toy}

{can I reach it?}

{let's try that again}

{uh, oh... Mommy caught me!}

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