Monday, December 29, 2014

She'll Be Home for Christmas!

As many of you know, Charae now calls Redding, California her home. In the month of September, she moved down to live with our grandparents and work as a teacher's aide at Liberty Christian School. This was a huge adjustment for our family, but we rested in the knowledge that it was what the Lord had for her.

It was especially hard for Leisel and me who had adopted Charae as our roommate over the last 9 months...we were like an inseparable three-some; you didn't see one without the other :)
Of course, soon after she left, Leisel and I scheduled a two week trip to California!

On a very blustery day, when the rain fell sleek against the paved roads, two girls headed for the train bound for California. Along with them, they brought two rather large bags that made it look more like a two month visit rather then two weeks :)

We had so much catching up to do within that time. We used each little moment filling each other in on recent news, shopping together, cooking together, and beating each other in competitive games of Aggravation.

Not long after we had arrived, Charae had to fill in for her teacher and teach the class all day...I got to tag along as her teacher's aide :)

It was such a blessing getting to see Charae interacting with these little ones and doing what she loved best!

The family finally arrived two weeks later and we were all reunited together again :)

As is tradition every Thanksgiving, when the turkey is cooking in the oven and the potatoes are sizzling on the stove, we all head out for a brisk walk on the Sacramento river walk trail.

It was wonderful getting to see our extended family again!

Our little second cousin soon got overwhelmed with much sisterly attention and many hugs and kisses :)

Friday morning, we four girls ventured out to the bustling mall for our first Black Friday shopping.

The day that we left for home started the countdown till Charae could come up to Washington for Christmas!

When we got home, it was time to get into the Christmas spirit! Late Friday evening, the boys headed out to pick out the prettiest Christmas tree yet! 

...and the long job of setting up the tree began: making sure that it was straight from all four angles and that it was safely in the stand. After setting and resetting the base of the tree, it was finally ready to be decorated.

Then the Christmas music began and all of the Christmas decorations came out...

Each person took to their posts and arrayed each room in all kinds of bows and ivy...

After the decorating was complete, Jonathon gathered around the table with the three littles for the erecting of the gingerbread house...

Of course they had to finish off the frosting somehow  :P

Each year, we make our rounds to each of the older people who can no longer make it to church and sing carols to them. It is always a time of much blessing for everybody there!

At one of the homes, Jonathon met a WWII veteran!

This year, we hosted a Christmas party at our home as well...

Thursday was spent preparing four different kinds of soups, a torte, lemon bars, marbled cheesecake squares, and blonde brownies. 
Annalise, Austin and Ania worked tirelessly on the Christmas program that they had been preparing for the last couple of weeks.

It turned out to be a wonderful time of fellowship with the Lord's people!

Then the long anticipated day arrived.
At 3:00 in the morning on Saturday, Charae headed to the Redding train station and started the long 14 hour ride to Washington.

Christmas morning arrived, and it felt like we had all became little kids again, anxiously waiting at the top of the stairs for mom and dad to call us all down...

Within an hour, the floor was littered with wrapping paper, intermixed with the many Christmas gifts.

We all waited in anticipation for the last gift to be a square box mom and dad uncovered the certificate that would send both of them to Victoria B.C. :)

You may not think that with as many of us as there are in our family that one person could make such a hole...but our family never feels complete again until everybody is back around the table together!

We are all together for the present and are enjoying every moment of it. It feels good to be able to set the table for 11 again! What a blessing to have our family once again complete!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ryusie's Visit to the States Part II

Here at last is the afore-promised blog post, summing up a wonderful visit :)
Where to to sum up so many special memories from one wonderful trip into a single blog post? What a blessing the month of October turned out to be for our family! 
We had the privilege of hosting Ryusei Kubota, from Nagasaki Japan, at our house.

The idea of being able to show someone around Washington who had never been outside of his country was an exciting idea.
Leisel and I planned out a packed schedule of all that we wanted to show him in his time here in the U.S.
There was so much to see: Portland, the Gorge, our favorite beach. etc...

Ryusei immediately fit right in with our family. From the beginning of his trip, he had a permanently claimed seat at the table between Ania and Austin.

Included in Ryusei's daily routine were games of soccer and baseball with Austin :)

...along with intensive workouts, complete with pull-ups, push-ups and more importantly, cartwheels and hand stands ;)

Harvesting the last of the tomatoes :)

...and last but definitely not least were the introductory classes to Japanese included in the daily homeschooling :)

His schedule held little time for rest :)

In his first week here, Jonathon and Daddy headed up to Hood River to pick up 900 pounds of apples...

...half of which would be turned into cider.

  Monday morning rolled around and we all donned on our work clothes for some intensive cider pressing ;)
Within 5 hours, we had 450 pounds of freshly pressed cider...


The apple cider pressing ended with a giant water fight, everybody against Chris. (Not sure who really ended up being the victor of that battle ;)

Ryusei was able to be a part of Ania's 8th birthday party celebration...

Evenings were our wind down time, taking late night rides in the back of the truck, sitting outside under the stars and talking...

...playing aggressive games of pig, spoons, aggravation and Pictionary :)
(Note: it is not good to play Pictionary with an inevitably will lose :)

Friday night, we packed up a picnic dinner and headed to the Columbia River where a lovely sunset was just beginning to set in.

Everybody at church was eager to meet Ryusei. His first Sunday there, we organized a cookie social to welcome him to trinity. 

The Thursday after he came, we had planned a 13 mile hike up to Indian Heaven and Lemei Rock. 


The view was beautiful (and well worth the couple minutes of panic we felt getting to the top :P )


Portland was the next adventure on our list...taking the tram into the busy streets, visiting "salt and straw", and taking a ride on the gondola overlooking Portland.
But one of my highlights of his visit here were the few outings that Leisel and I took him on...
Our first visit was to Mio Sushi (and it was my first time trying sushi too :) 
The food was amazing!!! (and I even worked up the courage to try Salmon eggs :P )
We finished up that day with some mall shopping.

Over the next couple weeks, we went on various outings to some of our favorite places: like Hudson's Grill for breakfast and more mall shopping, or a walk through Downtown Camas followed by a Burgerville milkshake :)
Friday night, we armed ourselves with mud boots and lots of courage as we headed for the haunted corn maze on Sauvie Island. Tremulously, three girls, followed by one man entered the maze...15 minutes later, three shrieking girls made their exit at the end of the corn maze :)
Of course we couldn't let Ryusei leave without introducing him to the wonderful American sport of shooting...which soon became one of the highlights of his trip :)
 The weekends were spent as a family, visiting some of our favorite spots in Washington :P

Our first weekend trip was to the Oregon Zoo...


But best of all was the visit to our family's traditional Beach. We wanted to show Ryusei all of our favorite family spots.

The town that we visit every year...(along with a milkshake from our favorite shop :)

The Beach that has become a family tradition for 12 years...

...and of course our traditional visit to Canon Beach for a picture in front of haystack rock ;)

Our last weekend, Charae was able to make it out to Washington for a visit.

That Saturday, we made our way to the Evergreen Aviation Museum for a tour of its space and air museums as well as a 3D showing of a D-Day Documentary...

Seeing that we only had a few days with Charae, we made use of every minute, staying up till 2 AM that night playing games of Mafia, Telephone and statues :)

Sooner then we wanted, October 30th rolled around and it was time to say our goodbyes.
Ania wouldn't let Ryusei out of her sight that night! None of us were ready to see him go.

That evening, we stayed up till 2 AM, again (we were to head for the airport at 4 AM that same morning) We all crowded into the bonus room and played games for hours, laughing and enjoying the last little while that we had left.
The next morning was one of tearful goodbyes as Ryusei made his way to the line of departing passengers. But we all knew that this would not be the last time we would see Ryusei; and we were very thankful for the wonderful time and memories that the Lord gave us over that special month!