Quiet Time.

If one thing, I’m learning. A lot. So much of my life is going unshared (at least on the web) because so much revolves around dates that are not to be shared. But here in the waiting, I am learning.

Learning to communicate, 15 minutes here, an hour there. Video chat after a month and a half, picture updates in port. How to fill a day for the girls with no husband in the afternoon or evening to fill those moments where I just need a break. How a mother can so quickly find an unwanted edge in her voice after one thousand too many repeated requests and knees to the face, as gymnastics take place all over a Mama just trying to send a quick email to a Daddy.

How important connection with a friend is – how long the days with no other adult conversation are – how to give myself grace for the days we watch three movies before lunchtime because we have been up for so many hours, and head out for a quick run to the park before anyone has a meltdown.

Learning about making new friends, and opening up to new friends, and being vulnerable and asking for help. How to take trains, how to be lucky enough to find a friend who can decipher the train schedules, how to say “excuse me” in another language every three minutes while trying to wind a stroller through tight crowds of busy, busy people. How to walk, and walk, and walk, finding beautiful bits of nature hidden behind buildings. Learning how to tell little old ladies on the elevators that the girls are “ichi” and “ni,” not twins, even though they look the part more and more each day.

Learning to be satisfied with our path right now. Learning to be patient as weeks and months drag on, rejoicing in a marriage strengthening even though an ocean is between us.

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Saturday and a little more

In our Orientation class we were told that in Japan there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing – so this morning when we stepped out of our building and saw dark clouds rolling in, we ignores them and kept walking. Luckily our plans consisted of the indoor “soft play” area at a mall nearby, nothing outside. We strolled off base with our friends and their three year old, chatting and enjoy a nice breeze instead of nasty humid heat. All three of the kids were so excited to run around and jump and play – totally worth 500¥ each.

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Ways to miss home:

Take a run and stumble upon a big hill through greenery, pretend the beetles and butterflies are actually butterflies and cows. I’m trying, every time I start to whine about missing home and our last station, to remind myself how much I whined about our last station (“All the time,” as my husband likes to specify). Now is the perfect time to bloom where I am planted, reach up and kiss God my thanks with a joyful, singing heart, even if our time together is short and our surroundings unfamiliar. To be grateful for the time we did have at the last station, so sweet and easy, perfect for building our little family. To be overjoyed with this opportunity to see a new world in all it’s new beauty, as a family. To be thankful that we live in an age that communication is possible when the ship is underway.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

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Enoshima Aquarium and the Park

Husband is on duty today – I’m trying to soak up all of our time together while I have it, trying not to worry about the future, trying to be present, ignoring my phone, leaving my computer off, kissing and hugging and watching him play with the girls and smiling when they ask their Daddy to do everything instead of me, snuggling on the couch while we watch movies (Captain America 2 was pretty great), sneaking out to bowl and eat burgers, and of course, taking a trip to the Enoshima Aquarium, something I’ve been waiting three months to do.

Taking a trip with a helpful husband instead of trying not to yell but be firm and keeping track of two toddlers on my own … It was just fantastic. The girls were fascinated by the sea creatures, overjoyed by the enormous turtles, and not so psyched about the sharks. Nemmi said, “Oh no, eating!” and quickly backed up as far as she could – it was pretty darn cute. We took the Enoshima Electric train line, winding through backstreets of Kamakura with house a mere four feet from our windows, and pretended we were on a real date while the girls snoozed in the stroller on the ride home. I love this man and the adventurous life he’s helped us have together.

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Angry Rant with Hopeful Ending.

There is a lot a stuff going on right now. Everyone is talking about something. We all have thoughts and opinions and our own heartaches and triumphs we want to share. We all want to be heard about something, if not on facebook or through an email, then maybe just by our coworkers, friends, or family. Words. Words are coming out of our mouths with ferocious speed. Words are offending someone everywhere we turn. Just this afternoon I replied to a status as kindly as I could, then turned to my husband and ranted about my frustrations with said status for a minute or two. 

The reality is, people are being killed. Tortured, raped, beheaded, mocked in the cruelest fashion. The reality is, mental illness is coming to our front pages – school shootings, killing sprees, suicide by a man who has made each of us laugh with quick wit and a downright twinkle in his eye. The reality is, everyone seems to be a political mastermind deadset on smearing every other opinion through the dirt, and then spitting on whoever dared to think a thought so different. The reality is, we are being bombard with issues and problems and terror that accompany a world with sin, and everywhere I turn someone is telling me I HAVE to care about every single issue and make each political statement my life mission and sign every petition and fly around the world taking out terrorists, otherwise what use am I?

Fuck, man. I feel like we are kinda missing out on a good opportunity here. I feel like everything is falling apart while I sit on my comfy couch next to my husband trying not to eat all the cookie dough in the freezer, ignoring the guilt I have for my luxurious lifestyle while I ignore the One who gave me what I have, trying to figure how to make a difference without losing all my stuff that I’m, like, glued to. Everything is falling apart while I am maybe not using gifts and resources to make a difference, but just hoarding for my own pleasure instead. Everything is falling apart while I try not to think about foreign jets flying over my husband’s ship until our jets chase them off, or nuclear bombs, or wars in general, or the months and months apart ahead of us, or all the damn political whatnot shoving ideas down everyone’s throat while we try to read them and the laws create some new Hell somewhere for someone, or trying to find a minute to catch my breath.

I just keep getting lost in this falling-apart world. I’m in my bubble here, with my husband on leave for a few more hours – but I’m on the verge of connecting these damn dots.

Jesus tells me again and again to love my neighbors, to put the wants and needs of others ahead of my own, to die to myself so I can gain life. Nothing is simple looking down on our mess, but up close, in our own worlds…maybe we can start changing. Maybe we can use our arms to connect dots. Or our wallets. Or the words we type. 

I can stare at my phone less, and be present with my children.

I can smile at other stressed-out women I see at the park.

I can sew things to sell and donate the money to organizations fighting sex-trafficking, or providing aid, or feeding the homeless in Los Angeles, or mentoring kids in Fullerton, and on and on.

I can stop judging other people for having different opinions than mine, and work on removing my own sin before making sure everyone is looking at someone else’s.

I can use headlines as a prayer list and take the political blinders off my eyes so I start to connect real live people to party names and terrorist group names and victim names.

I can take time to thank God for what I do have, like my beautiful family, and make sure He knows I’m grateful, directly from my mouth to His ears.

Here is a list of links to article about way we can make a solid, tiny, but still meaningful difference in the world:

4 Totally Realistic Ways To Make A Difference In The World – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/19/make-a-difference-jim-ziolkowski-walk-in-their-shoes_n_3922625.html

5 Things You Can Do in the Next Hour to Fight Human Trafficking – http://hopeengaged.blogspot.jp/2014/04/5-things-you-can-do-right-now-to-fight.html

Israell-Gaza conflict: How to help – http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/28/world/iyw-israel-gaza-conflict-how-to-help/

What You Need To Know About What’s Happening In Iraq: This article was written by the founder and director of Preemptive Love Coalition, an organization in Iraq that provides heart surgery and assistance to families in need. Jeremy Courtney provides important insight into more than just what we see in the headlines. http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/what-you-need-know-about-whats-happening-iraq-0

Lately

Finally our favorite person is home and we have been busy spending our time lounging and playing and reading books and watching movies and waiting for bedtime so he and I can have a conversation with no whining or hitting or whining or crying…because toddlers have a penchant for those things. We were so grateful to go exploring Japan while my friend played with the girls and her son on Monday – we walked the mall in Yokosuka, had some delicious curry, took the train to Kamakura for snacks, and stopped at a bar on the way home to try first Long Island Iced Tea (eh) and a Japanese Chu-Hi drink (whoa). Leave continues for another few days before Husband has to go back to work.

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Tomyodo Lighthouse – Our First Trip to the Beach

We walked for miles, played in the water, watched little fishies in the tide pools, and collected sea glass. The trains were fairly empty, thanks to an earlier start then usual. We snacked on who knows what from the mini mart on the way home, and spent the rest of the day happily relaxing in the AC. 

Kurihama Flower World

Yesterday, after I’d had my pep talk from my neighbor and a little push of encouragement from my husband, I decided to go on the day trip my friend and I had planned. A train ride to Kurihama Flower World, which we had picked because it was an outside attraction and free.

Although I made it all the way across base before I noticed that I hadn’t actually buckled Margaux into the stroller, that was the only hiccup – the girls sat nicely while we walked up Blue Street to the Yokosuka-Chuo station, stayed near me while we waited for the train, and Nemmi made friends with an older lady, who very kindly played with her and made sure she was safe while I held Margaux.

We did get lost trying to find our destination, but even that was fun – my babies fell asleep and Jenn and I chatted while we walked.

And then – we found it! Beautiful poppy fields with walkways in between, a shaded walk to the famous Godzilla slide and a park with three levels of slides – it was awesome! The girls were so excited that they were running in opposite directions, wanting to try everything while I tried not to yell at them to “GET OVER HERE NOW!” Mostly successful, and I’m good with that.

All in all, we were outside walking around and exploring for more than 6 hours. We came home with only one meltdown and were so happy to step into our air-conditioned apartment and watch Finding Nemo two times in a row. I’m so glad that I went.

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Is it bedtime yet?

Today a wonderful, wonderful woman came and saved me right when I was falling apart. I had high hopes for today. A friend and I had planned a trip to the mall down the street to find some craft supplies and strawberry cheesecake Kit-Kats. I took the girls out on their bikes to the park by our tower right before we left. We walked for about 25 minutes and stopped at the park right outside the mall. I gave them snacks. I was SO prepared. And they still whined the whole time. I bought them a cookie. They finished that and kept whining. I bought them lollipops. They chomped those up quick and said, “Out! Out! Out! Out! Out!” At least a million times they repeated that word while I tried to fit my double stroller through the aisles and keep them from grabbing jars with baby jellyfish and candy and glass bowls. I let Niahmaya out, and while she walked right next to me nicely, Margaux whined and cried. When I let both of them out, Margaux started pulling candy from the shelves and Niahmaya tried to wander away. (Keep in mind that my friend’s 3 year old was quietly sitting in his stroller, sucking on the same lollipop from 15 minutes ago.) By the time we got back to the base, both girls were crying for lunch, despite the snacks I had packed and even though it was literally 1 minute past their normal lunch time). 

So anyway, my morning with my lovely daughters passes and they nap and I get to workout and relax and we watch a movie, and then I think, “Hey, you know what the girls would like? I should let them walk to the NEX with me so I can get some face soap and then we will go to the park!” They love walking to the NEX. We always go and give hugs to the baby dolls and play with everything that can be played with while remaining on the shelf. They do great in the toy aisle, downright angels. And then we head over to look at sunglasses and suddenly everyone is trying to pull necklaces down from displays, play hide-and-seek, and just generally not listen to what I have to say. Same story in the face wash aisle. I think, “Ok, we just need to finish up here and leave and once we are outside they will listen and we can go to the park.” I’m trying to keep calm. I’m trying to use my Nice But Serious Mommy voice. I’m trying not to yank them when I’m walking one way and they decide to go in the opposite direction. I’m trying not to think people are judging me for not having my children under control. Outside goes no better and I’m repeating myself over and over again, “Come this way. No, not toward the street. Hold hands while we cross the street. Margaux, don’t touch that.” Niahmaya just has to be held and Margaux is DEAD-SET on standing in one spot. 

I have tears welling and I hear someone say, “Do you need help? Let me help you.” Normally I would say no. But I know her from church and she actually lives in my tower, so I didn’t argue when she picked up Margaux and asked if I was ok. I started bawling and telling her how frustrated I was, thinking about all the fun places to explore in Japan and feeling like I just can’t get through it because of the girls. And she said some wonderful things, about my job being my family and making sure I raise my kids, not just exploring Japan. She reminded me that Japan, while awesome, is just Japan, and I can’t do everything by myself that I would normally do with my husband. That I will have time for that when he is back, when it’s more than just me trying to fight the train station crowd and fit through tiny aisles, and that I need to try different ways of traveling with the girls to see what might work better, what will make it more possible to visit the places I want to visit.

I know I will still do some exploring just the three of us, but I might give myself more time to just really get used to being alone with the girls all the time. She said to just let her know anytime I needed help and told me which apartment she was in, and reminded me that she had been in the same situation as me, and that there was always someone to help. So I think I will make it until bedtime tonight, and then melt into an exhausted puddle on the couch. And probably go to bed dreaming of cinnamon rolls, because tomorrow is Sugar Day.

Chisana Shunkan::small moments

I felt like we would just be marking time, but, funnily enough, life doesn’t stop just because your best friend is gone. We are exploring, playing, and readjusting to this period. I am learning to not just distract myself with Instagram and Pinterest when I start to feel stressed, but also to take a break when I need one, before I lose my cool. The girls kiss our wedding picture when we go in our room, “Bye, Dada.” I’ve been able to email with Him during his lunch break and he is doing well and enjoying the experience.

Here are our small moments:

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