Catching Up on Some Sweet Moments

It's really good to be home.  I absolutely cherished every minute we had with family while we in the US, but my soul feels more settled now that we're back and have no plans for major travel anytime soon.

I think I am becoming more of a homebody in my old age.  Home, though, isn't exactly a place of calm--with four kids, homeschooling, a puppy, ministry, a fairly constant stream of visitors and phone calls, I often feel like I am on a fast-paced hamster wheel.  Who needs travel when all of that whizzes by me in front of my face everyday!?  But I do LOVE this hamster wheel and I am so thankful for each energy-zapping ingredient in my life.

It just means I can't blog too often.  So here goes--mainly to keep the family happy and well-connected to us--I am listing many events and photos below.  Enjoy--I know the grandmas will!

We officially named our dog Piper.  Yes, after our favorite author and pastor, John Piper.  He's a dog lover, so we think he'd be honored.  She loves to hang out in our chiminea. 

What could be sweeter than smiling girls and a puppy at the beach? 

Having daughters means they want to put flowers in Piper's fair, dress her up, take her out to tea, and more. 

Hannah and Mark made a tower as tall as her!  By the way, to any moms out there--we gave the girls these blocks for Christmas.  They are very quality and very cool--you can construct just about any well known building in history by following guidelines in a book that comes with them.  The blocks are painted and make beautiful creations, as well as bringing history to life.  They keep Hannah busy for hours.  They're pricey, but there's 200 blocks and we found them on sale for $130.  

The cherry blossoms are out this time of year in Okinawa.  It's always gorgeous and we always drive north to the mountains (ahem, ant hills) to see a lot of foliage in one spot.  

Abby Grace lost her first tooth!  It came out on February 10th, my brother's birthday.  If she hadn't lost it (somewhere in the house--ew!), we'd send it to my bro as a gift. 
Zoe lost a tooth about 5 minutes before Abby Grace!  Both came out during dinner and the girls were so thrilled to lose them together. 

Mark is the tooth fairy and told them if they lost teeth on the same day they'd get "triple bucks" for them!  Each kid found Y300 under their pillow the next morning.  Not bad--I think I'll look into pulling some of mine. 

Hannah also wanted to be photographed at that moment, even though she didn't lose any teeth.  She's on her bottom bunk, which she shares with Abby Grace, who sleeps on the top. 

Last Saturday we went out for breakfast and a walk on the beach with Piper.  

On Monday, Valentine's Day, we hosted a massive party here at the Harbor for the homeschooling association that I belong to here in Okinawa.  Just picture about 80 kids, 30 moms, crafts galore, lots of candy, too much icing....yeah, it was messy.  Thankfully an entire committee steered the event--I just had to show up and clean up a bit after receiving tons of help!  The kids had a blast and Hannah has asked when the next Valentine's day is every day since then. 
Every Christmas for the last 7 years I have gotten together with my friend Shirley to make cookies.  She heads up the Okinawan branch of a ministry called Ai No Kesshin, which means Loving Decisions.  They come alongside Japanese women in crises pregnancies and offer support and encouragement to avoid an abortion.  They then foster the babies that are given up and place them with loving families who live here.  My good friend Michelle mothers an ANK baby and my dear friends Ron and Kristie are waiting for their baby to come home from Shirley's ministry.  As Shirley says, "Pray for babies!" There are about 300,000 babies killed by abortion in Japan every year, so Shirley's work is important.  She and her husband have adopted three of their own and continuously foster and place new arrivals.  Here she is with Tomoyuki. 

We got together to bake Valentine's cookies, since we missed Christmas! 

Bethany is a couple years older than Zoe and they have been friends since preschool.  They attended a Japanese preschool together (they're 3-years long in Japan) and have been good buddies ever since. 

Mark and Piper
Well, that's it for now!  I'll try to post more photos soon.