my dear friend mary and her family of 5 children are enjoying a winter in the south of france (can i mention how much i wish we were there too?) courtesy of her husband's sabbatical as a university professor. follow their adventures here - she is a delightful writer: mary mary commentary
just before mary left for france, she called me with a funny story....
as a background, mary and i met at church in japan 12 years ago and immediately felt that we already knew each other. we tried and tried to figure it out, and the closest we came was discovering that we had both taken japanese at BYU, but it didn't seem that we could have been in the same classes, because i started BYU two years before she did. we eventually gave up and joked that we must have taken japanese together in the pre-existence....
now back to mary's phone call.... as she sorted through her house in preparing to leave for france, she came across her old japanese texts and papers. she found my name and phone number written down - which she would not have recognized as my name if she was not my facebook friend and had seen my maiden name.... so we HAD met in japanese 101. she was 16 and still in high school, but able to take an evening class because her dad was a japanese professor at BYU. i was 17/18. so funny it took us 12 years to figure it out. but i think i'm a little sad that the mystery is gone. i liked the pre-existence theory :) interesting though that mary and i met at byu, then again in japan, and now live 3 hours apart in the mid-west.
a new music video of my talented friend kim smith's "willow" song
sugar and i have had a tempestuous relationship, a love/hate thing that is increasingly becoming just a hate thing. the reason for the hate? how much incredibly better i feel when i am sugar free. i can lose up to 7 pounds in one week, just by going off sugar. that's a lot of water retention. and when i'm off sugar, i don't have cravings, food tastes better, meals are more enjoyable, healthy food is much more appealing, i can think more clearly, i have more energy, and the list goes on.
when i am off sugar, i can't imagine why i (or anyone else) would ever eat it again. but then a birthday, or worse, a holiday, comes along, and before i know it i am craving, bloating, and rabby, again, and what's worse, i don't want to stop eating sugar once i'm sucked back into that crazy cycle.
i big thanks to my beloved friend mary for inspiring me to go off of sugar again. she has been sugar free since august! yay mary! that was until thanksgiving, when we got together and made her gain all of her weight loss back again with one fell swoop of sugar frenzy. but i'm sure that she is sugar free again and back to normal.
since it is the holidays, i am allowing myself one sugar day, with moderation, a week, in hopes of being realistic.
we have been treated to a 5 day visit by one of our most favorite of people in the world, shingo.
the first time i saw shingo, he was a missionary, singing a musical number in church with a large group of young missionaries. when i saw him, i knew that our plans to move back to the u.s. after receiving mia's visa from the u.s. government needed to change. the spirit told me strongly that i had a son like shingo coming, and i needed to stay in japan and find him. it was an overwhelming experience, unlike any i had ever had, and it changed everything. shingo was serving as a missionary in the ward that shared our building, and so we had the opportunity to get to know him. he loved mia, who was 17 months old, and we discovered that his family was best friends with dr. samejima's family (the doctor who gave us mia). shingo had left medical school to serve his mission and planned to work with dr. samejima after he graduated (medical school begins right after high school in japan).
after this experience, and a few others i won't take the space to list, we called dr. samejima, and although we felt tremendously selfish and brazen in asking for another baby when so many other families were waiting, we found the courage to say that if he ever had a baby that he couldn't place for any reason (racial mix, handicaps, etc) to please let us know. he laughed and said there was another baby for us, a boy, and he would find him.
if we were to adopt again, and pass the u.s. home studies required, we needed to move out of our one bedroom home in tokyo. we felt guided to move to maihama, just outside of tokyo, and walking distance from tokyo disneyland and disney sea. and we did so about a month and a half after meeting shingo. and to our surprise, in our new japanese ward (we had spent the last 7 1/2 years in an english ward), we met shingo's family who lived just blocks away from our new home. we loved them immediately.
there is so much i could write, but to keep it simpler, 18 months after meeting shingo, i received a phone call that woke me early on a sunday morning. brock was gone, already at early church meetings. dr. smaejima's voice said "omedeto" (congratulations), "i've found your baby". it was march 7, 2004, the day of shingo's mission homecoming. we celebrated that day for two joyful reasons. and at shingo's openhouse that evening, sister samejima met with us and told us all about noah's birth mother. in april shingo went back to medical school and noah was born. these two (noah & shingo) are intricately tied together, and although i don't completely understand it, i know that it is significant. the spirit tells me so. we've seen very little of shingo since, as his medical school was in tokushima, shikoku, far away from tokyo...and nauvoo. i was thrilled to answer the phone in early december and hear shingo's voice. he would be graduating from med school in march, and would like to come and visit us then. we've been eagerly anticipating his visit, and it was even more enjoyable than hoped. he is amazing, and brought a wonderful spirit to our home. we hope that noah will be as much like him (as the spirit whispered to me) as possible....they look remarkably alike.
noah following where shingo leads....
it was a painful farewell when we put shingo on the train back to chicago. but he promises to visit before too long with his "new family" (the family he plans to have). we'll be waiting.
saturday we realized that it was the 5 year aniversary of the day of shingo's homecoming, and we were all together again.
update....shingo's dad just sent me this link. (shingo flew to utah from chicago to visit his mission president, mission companions, and the university of utah med school)
a random list of strangely true recent happenings.
i can see the had of the Lord in at least the first two, if not all:
thursday night we were startled by a large sonic-type boom that seemed to come from down low, rather than up high. it resonated through the earth and our home. while the details are still sketchy, this is what we have since learned..... a man was building pipe bombs in his home, less than a mile from us, and quite near the temple. one accidentally went off, removing his hand..... how it could make a boom that big, and only take off his hand? we don't know...... why was he building pipe bombs? we don't know that either, but have heard that he is known for his anti-mormon "antics". people in sycamore haven, up the river to the north, said their windows rattled from the explosion. the police reportedly sent robots into the bomber's home to disarm at least 3 more pipe bombs.....we are grateful that it ended as it did.
two weeks ago or so, i was driving along the river road, giving a friend whose car was getting repaired a ride home. she noticed a young boy walking along the road and commented that he was awfully young to be walking alone. it was late afternoon, approaching dusk, and very cold. i didn't think much of it, and passed him by, but then felt that i should pull over and wait for him to approach. i knew that he shouldn't talk to strangers, (or get into a stranger's car!), but felt compelled to ask him a few questions.
me: hi! do you need a ride?
boy: well, yah.
me: where are you going? do you live nearby?
boy: i'm going to keokuk (15 miles away)
me: why are you going to keokuk?
boy: to find my mom
me: where do you live?
boy: nauvoo, but i'm not going back there, i'm mad at my dad.
me: how old are you?
he was an adorable and very sweet little boy. and i wanted to help him, but was unsure how to proceed. so i started offering silent prayers for guidance. and i was able to take him to my home, after taking my friend home, even though he refused to go back to nauvoo, and then track down his grandparents who were most grateful. he goes to school with my little ones, and i know his cousin who is in mia's class. in asking him more questions, it became clear that his father hadn't really done anything wrong, this little guy just felt a sense of injustice in the way his father had handled something, and set out looking for his mom who has been absent for years. i later learned that his mother is only allowed to see him under supervision. i felt how much the Lord loves him to guide us to bring him safely home. if my friend wouldn't have been in the car with me, i don't think i would have noticed him or stopped for him. if she had been driving alone, she wouldn't have known how to find his grandparents. as it was, we each had something to offer in his "rescue". the river road is narrow, winding and very dangerous. it would have soon been dark and very cold. and no one yet realized that he was missing. what if my friend hadn't noticed him or said anything? what if i hadn't stopped? i am so grateful that it ended as it did.
we experienced countless earthquakes during our years in japan, some big enough and long enough to cause quite a bit of anxiety. but now we are experiencing something new: thunder that feels like an earthquake. and it is quite unnerving. we have had thunder that rattles the dishese in the cupboards and makes the whole house shake. wednesday morning brock & i both sat up straight in bed at about 5:40. i thought it sounded like half of our home was being sheared away. brock thought it sounded like we were being hit by hurricane force winds. we were both wrong. it was thunder. and such a storm ensued. each thunder (not clap, not roll...) boom & shake felt like it would last forever. lightning would strike, and the thunder would be immediate and go on and on and on. i have truly never known anything like it. maybe i will get used to it as i did to earthquakes.....we'll see. but the old timers here seemed to be as shocked as we were by the storm. i am so grateful that we were all safe and dry and warm.
if you love or hate facebook, or if you are yet un-initiated into this incredibly fast growing sensation, (you, yes you! should have been included in one those three groups). you must read this witty blog post by our friend jeff. so well written. so true. yes, we are thrilled that jeff and evie have taken the plunge into facebook.
and here are my own thoughts when i first discovered facebook.
christmas is over and put away, a new year has begun...
time to get back to home improvement and break out the painting mess again:
after months of waiting & planning, we finally continued the blue paint from the living room into the formal dining room that serves as our T.V. room, and then painted the far wall of the T.V. room red. then we did a big furniture switcheroo, and this is the result: (still needs pictures hung on the wall, etc)
we're still working on the formal living room space....more photos to come.
thanksgiving weekend in quincy, we found the hutch we had been hoping for, and at a price we liked (i even got them to come down from the special sale price) for our dining area at the antiques mall. and yesterday, between (hundreds of) coats of red paint, i filled it up. some of the dishes are new, some are antique, most are from japan. the red & white nine-patch snowball baby quilt is from the late 1800s.
we plan on replacing the knobs (we plan on a lot of things).
the quincy antique mall also had the most adorable nile green hutch from the 1940s that would look just perfect in mia & gracie's room stacked with antique baby quilts and books....but i can't figure out where it could go, unless i got rid of their bookshelf. plus, we really don't need to spend any more money...but it's such a great price, and so adorable!
also in november, i finally had this april 1935 volume of "farmer's wife" framed at "hobby lobby". i found this treasure at "mrs. clemen's" antiques in hannibal, mo. the summer before last. i was antiquing with gloria (just like when i found the hutch). it hangs next to the hutch in our dining area.
and here is a back splash idea i had. the plates & cannisters are also from hannibal - the "hickory stick" quilt shop.
the blue paint is actually the same in all three of the above photos. the hutch photo is probably the most accurate.
when i bought these fun things in hannibal in summer "07, i had no idea i would be using them to decorate my home so nearby. life is funny & unexpected.
gloria & i did a family photo exchange....our solution to heather not coming to quincy. and i think it worked out really well (hopefully goria thinks so too).
i took these in quincy last saturday, edited two different ways by heather:
it was bitter cold, with a freezing wind blowing. hopefully that doesn't come through in the photos.
such a blessing to have talented friends. but gloria is a blessing even without her talents, as all good friends are.
our christmas card is posted here, merry christmas.
i love fabric. i collect it. i studied it and earned a degree in it. i like to think that my piles of fabric are provident living, but they may actually indicate an unhealthy obsession.
a few months ago a HUGE bag of fabric was dropped at my house. i'm always happy to receive fabric. but this was much more than i could use, and i was happy to know that i could share it with others. a few weeks ago gloria sat and ironed fabrics pieces that i really liked as i fished them out of the bag and added them to my piles of favorites. i found several large pieces of homespun plaids that i folded and set aside in their own pile, feeling that there was a special project they would be just right for.
a dear friend who has a strong desire to give her children homemade gifts this year as a way to simplify, focus on the savior, and stay within a budget wanted to make quilts. last week i offered a prayer that i would be able to help her fulfill this desire. a few hours later she showed up at my door to borrow a book and i asked her if she wanted to go through my HUGE bag of fabric. she wasn't finding quite what she was looking for.....and then i remembered the pile of homespuns. she wanted most of all to make a quilt for her son who is graduating from high school next month and going to college. the homespun plaids in blues, greens, and reds were perfect. we chose the largest piece as the backing, and started cutting strips of the others to make into 6 inch squares. we cut and cut and cut. she mentioned that she kept feeling impressed to make one for her 14 year old son too. but we were both sure there wouldn't be enough fabric. we decided to cut all we had, and then see how much more she needed to buy.
we counted all the strips, and to our amazement, we had EXACTLY the number of strips needed to make two quilts in the exact size she had chosen. next we measured the backing fabric....again it was exactly the amount needed, to the inch. and then we found a piece of plaid flannel that was just right for the backing of the second quilt. i couldn't believe it.
i felt god's love for this friend, and it was a sweet reminder that when we do as the lord has asked (this friend is one of the purest people that i know) that he provides for us. i know that this fabric was meant for her, perhaps even before she had decided to make these quilts. a small miracle that i was blessed to witness.
my 1930s to 1950s vintage feedsack collection.