Thursday, December 29, 2011

Starting to feel locked in. 'Tis that time of year for me. I feel as if things are restricting me and this girl needs freedom. Well, as much freedom as is available to me as a parent. I need to refocus my energies. So I may make some changes. We'll see; I've said that before. Anyway, two projects as of late. Daniel's month by month sidewalk chalk. And my every-other-week pregnancy thang. Both of which I am contemplating dropping. I am a perfectionist. So the slightest difference in lighting or color bugs me endlessly. But yes. Photos.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

pictures [for real]

So sorry that there were issues with the Japan pictures. Apparently it is nigh on impossible to upload pictures using the iPad. Who knew. Or maybe it is just me. Either way, I uploaded the photos to a web album which you can see HERE. The pictures are best viewed full screen in a slideshow (at a 4 or 5 second interval, not to be bossy), since I didn't scale them to web quality size; I am lazy. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Yesterday Jodi and I went to Hiroshima, an hour long trip by train. The train ride itself was quite the experience since NOTHING was in English. The language barrier was not our problem. Our problem was the Japanese man that took an interest in us. Before I go on, let me just express that Japanese people are very polite and courteous. But the men especially keep to themselves. so this experience that Jodi and I went through is NOT the norm. Two train stops before Hiroshima station, this man gets aboard and stands in front of us. When he noticed that we were American, he wanted to shake our hands. No big deal. Then he wanted high-fives. Okay. Then he wanted peace signs. Sure. Then he wanted pictures with Jodi's phone. Fine. Then he wanted kisses on the cheek. Nope. We just go along with it (minus kisses) since he is being amusing. But he doesn't quit. For the next two stops, he wants us to do all the little American hand gestures and pleasantries he can think of. Over and over and over. At first, we laugh about it. But soon, we are a little freaked. When our stop comes, we hold back a minute before getting off so there is some distance between us and this man. We get off the train and try to figure out where to go next. Before we figure out which direction will get us out of the station, the man spots us and waves. We kind of wave, but decide to start walking even though we don't know where we need to go. He starts walking the opposite direction, but turns around and follows us. We hurry to the nearest cluster of people walking through the station tunnels. Once we are at the ticket counter, he is somehow in front of us. Waving. We wave and hurry past him, trying to figure out what our next move is in a city we are not familiar with, in a country where they speak a completely foreign language. He stops in front of a station store, but peers after us waving. We rush down the nearest flight of stairs and hide behind a corner for a few minutes. We are in a wide open parking garage-type structure where there is no where to hide. There are few people passing by, so not many people to turn to for help. Luckily, the man does not pursue us further. We realized that we needed to go through the same shop that the man had stopped at, so we cautiously make our way back up. The coast is clear. We rush through the store, out the station, and into the first available taxi. It was one of the most terrifying moments in my life. The one thing to note is that he appeared to have special needs. Regardless, it was still one of those moments where you think "I am not going to make it through this". But clearly I did. We continued on to Hiroshima's Peace Park. What an intense experience. One that will stop you in your tracks no matter who you are or where you are from. I cried. I cried for all of the babies that perished. For the innocent people that died. For the lives that were destroyed. It is heartbreaking that such atrocities happen.

WARNING: There is graphic content below.
Thousands of paper cranes adorn a commemorative statue at the park.
Me in front of the A-bomb Dome. One of the only buildings that survived the bomb.
A commemorative statue that honors the fallen victims.
Photos of the mushroom cloud that the atomic bomb produced.
A watch that was stopped the moment th bomb went off.
A tricycle belonging to a 3 year old boy. The father buried the boy with his trike and helmet so he wasn't alone.
Photos of the burned victims and articles of clothing that were peeled off from the skin.
Artifacts that were warped because of the intensity of the bomb. We could touch these; they are safe, of course.
The memorial that honors all the victims that perished in the attack.
Photos and names of the thousands of people who died. We were given little paper cranes in their honor.
Hiroshima. Reminded me of a Japanese version of Chicago. Though I have never been to Chicago.
Trains are one of the primary means of transportation in Japan. So glad I got to ride one!
On the train. We lucked out and our ride was not as crazy as the videos on YouTube. Jodi says her last trip on the train was exactly like what you see online.
A cemetery in Iwakuni. The graves are elevated and stacked. So many deceased in such a small area of land.


Let's talk toilets. Awkward subject, right? Regardless whether the topic makes you uncomfortable or not, using the restroom is something we all need to do. And doing so in Japan has been quite the experience. When I arrived in Tokyo for my lay over, I decided to use the toilet [as they are called here] between flights. Now that you know that I am over 16 weeks pregnant, it would make sense that the restroom is a place I frequent. In Tokyo, I walked into a stall and was perplexed. In general, the toilets look the same. But on the side there was an attachment with half a dozen buttons. Music, warming, fake flush noise, bidet, and so forth. I was overwhelmed with my options, especially when it came time to flush. I could not, for the life of me, figure it out. Then I closed the lid and realized that flushing was exactly the same as in the States. You just push down on a lever. The next restroom I used automatically started a fake flushing noise to hide the sounds of tinkling and such. That restroom also required you to sanitize the toilet after use. While visiting the Shinto shrines near Iwakuni castle, Jodi pulled me into a bathroom to see the toilets that are more common in Japan. Glorified holes in the ground where you must squat and twist and you are lucky if there is toilet paper for you to use. At Miyajima, there are western style toilets with heated toilet seats. No paper towel for drying your hands, though. Every toilet has been a new experience. Some better than others. But when you gotta go, you gotta go.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iwakuni & Miyujima

Today has been a very busy day. And since I already described most of it, I will just share pictures.
Matt's ghetto van. Dead serious. You have to bang the dashboard to get the lights to work. And yank the back door to get it open.
A building at the Shinto shrines.
One of the several shrines.
Prayer slips tied to the trees.
The shrine Jodi and I went through.
Part of the cemetery for the lords of iwakuni.
Tombs of three of the early lords of Iwakuni.
Iwakuni castle. Which, of course, closed the day I came in and opens a few days after I leave.
Me at the Kintai bridge.
The bridge was built this way to prevent samurai armies from quickly advancing on the castle.
Impromptu market at the river bottom near the bridge. I bought chicken from the stand on the very right and it was soooooo delicious.
Me and one of the wild deer that roams Miyujima. Ignore the part where the deer is frisking Matt.
Me at the Otorii gate. The gate is 1400 years old and has been balancing unanchored in the same spot since it was built.
The five story pagoda on Miyujima. Crazy tall.
The marketplace at Miyujima. Tons of wonderful little shops full of various trinkets.
Alright. This is just a little test run for uploading photos. So far I have crossed the Kintai Bridge, gone into a Shinto shrine, walked through a royal cemetery, visited the Otorii gate, and have seen a 5 story pagoda. Needless to say, it has been a busy day. And it is not yet over. Below are some pictures from yesterday's doings (market, downtown, bakery, and base).
I will post pictures from today later tonight. Since I figured out how to upload my nice pictures to the blog. Which I am grateful for. iPad pictures are NOT awesome.

Friday, December 16, 2011

blogging in Japan

So. I wanted to post some pictures from today. Of the time I spent off base in the morning (Jodi's hubby - whom I've been friends with for over 8 years and whom I introduced Jodi to 6 years ago - is a captain in the Marines). But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to upload pictures from the iPad onto the blog. And I am too exhausted right now to figure it out. But I had a wonderful birthday that started out with me finding out that I am having a girl. And my day included snow flurries, shopping, F18s & Santa, historical bridges, and Japanese back roads. Since tomorrow is Saturday, we having many adventures that will include a camera glued to my face. And I promise to share photos as soon as I figure it out. Because this place is just SO incredible.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I am here. Little jet lag. Major culture shock. It is incredibly amazing here. Gorgeous and different and real. Wonderful birthday present. Want to know where I am? Watch the video. It is much shorter than the last. But just as awesome. Ps, ignore the part where the envelope is eating my face. And the fact that I look like a nerd.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Right now I am on a plane. Going some place very far. And because I am on a plane, this post was scheduled. Since I am currently on a plane. And cannot blog. And probably reading from my [iPad] Kindle. Or playing angry birds. But I thought I would do something special today since today was a special day. Nothing to do with being on a plane. Today was special for two reasons. First, Robert's grandfather turned 105 today. Yes. One hundred and five years old. And still kicking. It is crazy awesome. Second, Robert proposed to me five years ago today. About this late in the evening, too. It is crazy to think of all of the many things that have happened in five years. And since I clearly have NO time on my hands, I thought I would make a little video to share about our last five years (though looking back, I totally should have added photos. But it is awesome without them, too).
My next post will be when I tell you where I am. Watch for it on Thursday... :)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

my thoughts on moving

As if there were not enough chaos in my life right now (including my grandpa being in the hospital for non-intentional, self induced arterial bleed... don't ask), we just moved. And I am exhausted. Here are a few of my thoughts on moving:
*Don't hire a professional painter for the details. The house itself looks GREAT. The front door... ugh. I will be redoing sometime in January. Ugly dried drip marks. That the painter says we're prexisting. And that I say were NOT there originally. But whatever.
*Don't worry about a Christmas tree before other areas of the house. My Christmas tree looks amazing. My kitchen looks horrible. I wish I had invested my time on the latter...
*Don't do a test run for the kids' bathtub on the kids at 8pm at night. When they are suppose to be in bed. Though we had an inspector, we missed the part where no hot water comes from the tub faucet and the water drains in a matter of minutes (even with drain closed). My poor boys had to bathe in freezing cold water.
*Don't wait until you have moved your possessions from one home to the next to decide what stays and what goes. Point being, pack ahead. Which we did not do. And are now regretting as we go through every item in every box. Organized packing is ideal.
*Don't delay getting your bed set up. Even if it is just your mattress and box springs on the floor. That way you are not forced to sleep on the couch. Or the floor...
*Don't purchase a home that is large enough for your children to get lost in. Our home is not too big. But I am not accustomed to various rooms for my children to wander through. I am sure it will feel too small soon enough.
*Don't choose December as your moving month. It is too cold to be going in and of your home with the doors left wide open. Especially if you are a wimp when it comes to the cold. Which is why you may see me with 10 layers on in the morning, moving boxes in and out of my home.
*Don't expect Kelly green to NOT show in some areas when you paint it white. Even after two coats. Just as with the front door, a touch up is in order.

Even amongst all the negatives, I have learned one thing. Accept help when you are in need of it. I do not know how to let people help me. It makes me feel guilty for whatever reason. But I know my limits. There have been two people who have gone above and beyond in this process. My new next door neighbor, Anna Marie. She has been over every day since Tuesday, offering her various services. Watching the boys. Providing cleaning supplies. Helping me scrub the kitchen until 1 am. She is the most wonderful neighbor ever and I feel so blessed to live right next door. Also, my future sister in law, Staci. She has helped me get through the difficulties that come with moving. Providing an ear. Entertaining my children. Helping me scrub the kitchen as well. I am so glad we are in. And I will be so glad when my home is put together. Right now my main priority is the washer/dryer, which we need to hook up so I have clothes for next week...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

winner winner

I went to RANDOM.ORG and entered all 60 entries (in the order that I received them) to assign random numbers. Oh. Side note. I unintentionally lied when I said there were 61 entries (I accidentally counted a comment that had been deleted). So there are REALLY 60. On the dot. And this is the list thanks to RANDOM.ORG:

There were 60 items in your list. Here they are in random order:
1. Kylie
2. Carter
3. Amy S.
4. Rachel
5. Gina
6. Bridget
7. Sarina
8. Kim
9. Kylie
10. Gina
11. Amy H.
12. Ashley
13. Amy H.
14. Nikki
15. Gina
16. Stosh
17. Laura P.
18. Darci
19. Brittany
20. Marie
21. Liesel
22. Beth
23. Danielle
24. Kim
25. Beth
26. Sarina
27. Bridget
28. Darci
29. Danielle
30. Laura S.
31. Brittany
32. Mike
33. Darci
34. Nikki
35. Beth
36. Sarina
37. Amy S.
38. Rachel
39. Lisa
40. Autumn
41. Karisa
42. Danielle
43. Kim
44. Carter
45. Lisa
46. Carter
47. Jessica
48. Laura S.
49. Autumn
50. Brittany
51. Lisa
52. Laura S.
53. Bridget
54. Karisa
55. Amy H.
56. Erica
57. Jessica
58. Amy S.
59. Jessica
60. Marcy

And then, using RANDOM.ORG, I received a random number. 50. Which means Brittany is the lucky winner. Congrats! I will be in contact with you soon regarding your reward. I even copied the image of the Generator just so you could verify the lucky number yourselves. AND I had the hubs watching the process over my shoulder to make sure I didn't cheat. Not that I would. But for further verification.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your entries. It was fun having so many friends participate. Makes me wish I weren't too poor to do giveaways regularly... Once again, congratulations to Brittany!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Okay. I was going to digest for a few days, but I should probably just share my news before your imagination gets the best of you. If I had read my cryptic messages, my brain would have jumped to the most dramatic scenarios out there. So here it is:
I am adopted. I am sure most of you knew that. It was not your standard adoption, though. No adoption agency. No planned arrangement. No no. I was born in my birth father's home. No drugs. No medical assistance. Nothing. In fact, my birth parents (who planned on splitting immediately after my birth) went to the nearest public library days before my birth and checked out a midwife guide book. My birth father assisted in my birth. And then proceeded to bring me to the little hospital down the street [in a Smitty's paper bag] where my MOM was working as a nurse. My birth father took off as the nurses at the front desk looked in the bag. And there I was. My birth father eventually showed up with my birth mother, who was having a difficult time recovering from the birth. She looked at my MOM and asked if she knew of anyone that wanted to adopt a baby. It just so happened that my MOM and DAD [who also worked at the same little hospital] were wanting to adopt as they could not have kids of their own. Which is how I know this entire story and all its little details. My birth is one of the most incredible cases of Divine Intervention that I know.
Anyway. Fast forward like 16 years. I beg my parents to let me search for my birth mother. I just want to know who I look like. They agree. I make an account on and leave one post with the names of both of my birth parents. I get a hit two months later. Generally it takes two years [at the very least - and that is with hired professionals]. It is my birth mother's brother. He had no clue about me. He only found my single post on because he was looking for my birth mother who had taken off 5 years prior. Since she, too, is adopted, he wondered if she had interest in finding her birth family. Instead he found me. He reveals information in his message that only my PARENTS and birth parents would know. We know he is not faking. It is a legitimate hit. He sends pictures of my birth mother from ages 2 - 18. There is no doubt whatsoever at this point. I look almost exactly like her. I meet my uncle and grow close with him. He is able to locate my birth mother through a private investigator. My uncle establishes a relationship with her before revealing that he knows about me. She is shocked her secret is out, but wants to meet me. I met my birth mother for the first time the week before Thanksgiving while a senior in high school. One of the strangest experiences of my life. She and I do not have a relationship. Neither of us are really interested. And both of us are okay with it.
Fast forward 6 years. I am pregnant with Joel. I get a text message from my birth mother's brother that she is in the hospital. He treats it like it is no big deal. I tell my MOM, who gets worked up over the situation. Turns out my birth mother is at the hospital my MOM works at. My MOM goes to visit. And befriends my birth mother, so to speak. [BIG side note. My birth mother does not do relationships with people. She does not rely on others or feel the need to make attachments. So when I say that my MOM befriends her, I really mean that it is an exchange between two people with no emotional attachment on my birth mother's end]. I visit once in the hospital with Robert. It is slightly awkward, especially since my birth mother is in isolation and we are required to wear FULL hospital garb to visit. My uncle and I talk a lot during this time. And my MOM visits my birth mother in the hospital regularly [since she is already there at work]. A couple weeks pass and my birth mother is released. She goes and stays at her brother's house. I figure that is the last time I will see her for a while, but am wrong. They show up at my graduation ceremony at ASU several weeks later. THAT is the last time I have seen her.
So what does ANY of this have to do with ANYTHING? Well. Today, as I texted my birth mother's brother for his current address to send a Christmas card, he tells me he has some news for me. My brain jumps to, "Aww. He and his fiance have eloped". Then my brain goes to, "Oh... maybe he and his fiance are expecting". Finally, the briefest thought flits through my mind, "Oh no. Something happened to my birth mother...". What I was not prepared to hear was that I have a brother. It caught me so completely by surprise that I am still having difficulty grasping the concept. I have been an only child my entire life. My PARENTS never adopted another child. My birth mother never had any kids before me or after me. I was a mistake, and she made that clear when we first met (not to make me feel bad or anything, just that the pregnancy was very unplanned and unwanted, for which I am not offended). And because of her personality, I knew that a baby would never be part of her plans. Ever. So hearing that I have a sibling was the last thing that I could have even fathomed happening. His name is Kyle. He lives with his adoptive family in Texas. And on Thursday, December 8th, he turns two. TWO. Which means he is a couple months younger than my second oldest, Lucas. Which also means my birth mother and I were pregnant at the same time. I have always wanted a sibling, as far back as I can remember. Now it turns out that I have one. It is just so much to take in. I hope to meet him one day. If only to see what he looks like.
So there you have it. My information bomb. The reason I cannot concentrate or think clearly right now. My 26 years of not having a sibling have changed in an instant. And I am happy about it.


I am having a difficult time processing right now. A MAJOR information bomb landed in my lap this afternoon. Something completely unexpected. Something unimaginably life changing. I have never been so blind-sided in my life. And I have to tell you, it is a surreal feeling. Don't worry. Nothing bad. Nothing that will even have a major impact on my life immediately other than mentally. But just the knowledge alone is enough to alter a huge chunk of what makes me me. I am not quite ready to share yet. Give me a couple days to gather my thoughts and I will try to explain. Just know that if I appear completely out of it, I am...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

27 different friends.
1 winner.
5 days and you will know if it is YOU.

I have to say, I enjoyed seeing the places you had to guess. And to be honest with you, ONE of them was spot on. But obviously I cannot tell you which one. Twelve days and you will find out. What? Yes, twelve. Even though I leave in ten days, I will not arrive until the next day. And I might as well wait until my birthday the day after that to post, right? I do not feel ready for the trip. Still a number of things to get done. Like printing a billion maps and confirmation papers. And organizing everything. And cramming all of my clothes into a carry-on. I do NOT have time for a check-in because of Customs. I SHOULD sit down and make a list. But with photography and moving and Christmas and life, yeah... might not happen. Five days and I will let you know who won [to be determined by an online generator - not pulling any names out of a hat].

Friday, December 2, 2011


I have been so caught up in the many things going on right now that I completely forgot to mention our exciting news. No. Not THAT kind of exciting news. WE ARE MOVING! Don't panic; we aren't going far. Less than a quarter of a mile, in fact. We bought a home within our ward boundaries (yay) and will be moving next weekend. NEXT WEEKEND. It happened very quickly, though you may be surprised to know we have been looking for a new home since June. After months of nothing, this home popped up out of nowhere. My favorite things about the new home: 4 bedrooms, separate living and family rooms, big front and back yards, cul-de-sac lot, NO HOA. And the cherry on top: I already know [and love] nearly all my soon-to-be neighbors. Divine Intervention is a true thing, my friends. I was ready to give up the search. And we couldn't have landed in a better situation. The only flip-side: we close on the home 6 days before I leave on my trip. Which means we move 3 days before... Not to mention Christmas is 6 days after I return from my trip. December is a psychotic month for me (in the best of ways, or course).