I was lucky enough to get to go to Japan for 2.5 weeks with Ezra to visit the mission presidents. Most of my family was already coming or in Japan for Christmas. Due to some last minute changes and the stress of flying on stand-by, my Aunt Stephanie- an angel sent from heaven, agreed to babysit Sienna and Maya last minute for nearly a week. :0. Can you believe there is a person out there who would be willing to watch two rambunctious girls last minute for several days! Someday I hope to be as giving as Aunt Steph (and her family!). Sherilyn happened to be down in Utah for a mission reunion so she gladly drove my girls to Idaho on Saturday. Sienna and Maya spent the night with Devin and Sherilyn, and then Punkin picked them up and took them to church with her, then she drove the girls to Shelley to drop them off at Steph's. Steph watched them that week and then they went up to be babysat by Jenna for a week until Spencer was able to get up to Idaho and take over daddy duty. It was quite the process getting everything straightened out with the kids...but how blessed am I to have wonderful family I can trust to love and tolerate two kids who aren't even their own kids.
Ezra and I woke up at the crack of dawn after...(no sleep...I was up finishing a last minute Christmas present for Spencer). We packed the car and drove up to Salt Lake to drop off the car for Spencer to pick up in the next two days when he flew back. He was in Florida for business and also for universal studios. We made it on the first two flights no problem and arrived in Japan sleepy but happy to be there.
|Really early Selfie @ SLC|
Mom and Dad picked us up from the airport with their AP's and we got some food at the airport. When we got home everyone welcomed us warmly. :) (Jacksons and Liz were already there).
|When Ezra and I woke up the first morning Tommy and Kasia were already up and ready to play. They really enjoyed getting to know Ezra a little more. We also played several rounds of sushi-go before the rest of the family woke up.|
|At the harbor looking out over the sea.|
|Sparkle Sparkly Shine|
|This buttered popcorn is gastronomic.Im not usually one to turn down popcorn...but gastronomic sounds less than tempting.|
|This guys was one content traveler. I think I'll take him every where.|
|Happy boy, big flash.|
Going to the ward was an interesting experience. The mission home is a few footsteps away from the church building. The ward is all in Japanese, but the missionaries pass out headsets and translate the whole time.
|Ezra with Kaicho just chilling during second hour.|
I actually never made it to the third hour of church, and only once stayed for the second hour. Since we had jet lag and were usually up around 5 am...after sacrament we were ready for naps so we would walk home to eat and nap.
|Konbini trips were taken just about every 2 or 3 days|
Liz and I had a good laugh about our sleep deprivation making us do funny things. I don't remember all of the things, but I do remember Liz trying to put Henry's binky in his ear after taking his temperature. And I was so tired and stinky one morning I hopped in the shower with my socks still on.
|On the way to Hiroshima. Car, train, plane...you name it, he is either happy or sleeping.|
|Hiroshima style okonomiyaki...noodles instead of cabbage.|
When we got the Hiroshima we were all ready for gyoza and ramen. I ordered 2 gyoza and a huge bowl of chahan. Love this stuff.
Then we walked around the peace park & museum. It wasn't necessarily enjoyable, it was sobering and sad. I am really grateful I went and could appreciate the hardships and the lives that were lived.
One funny thing did happen in the museum though. Between all the kids, strollers and baby carriers there was a lot being lugged between the Welches and I. Brittney had left the museum to feed and change Nora and I was carrying Ezra in his carrier, so Danny was pulling my stroller behind him as we went from station to station reading. After a few minutes reading at one station, Danny reaches down to pull the stroller and it wasn't moving , and so he starts pulling harder. I look down and see a small Japanese boy's arm in Danny's hand. I have a few seconds to register what is going on and then Danny looks back and realizes his mistake. He grabbed this boys arm, thinking it was the stroller and started pulling him away. Moment of panic in this little boys eyes, and we had a pretty good laugh as he ran off. Whoops.
|My shinkansen friends|
|This boy loved the train|
|Statue of Sadako- We had to read her story in middle school, and from where the thousand paper crane gifts stem from.|
|I missed Sienna and Maya a lot while we were here. Madi helped me feel like a part of them was here.|
|This quote is so true..Gyoza=happiness.|
|Nora had some well timed blow-outs, leaving her with just a vest to cover her.|
|Ezra is looking at something good.|
|Danny and I unaware of Ezra's reach|
|Ezra was quick to grab Danny's plate of food.|
|On the way home from Hiroshima Madi and I folded some paper cranes.|
|Love some Henry cuddles|
|I took this selfie to text Spencer when I was sick. Looking at in now kinda makes my tummy cramp up a bit. haha|
|Jetlag boy. He did awesome.|
We went to the famous Himeji Castle. It was really interesting. About 10 minutes into it we picked up an elderly Japanese man who volunteered to give us a tour. I could understand every couple of words here and there. He was really nice and knew a lot of information on the castle. You climb a crazy amount of stairs and when you get to the top you feel like you are on top of the whole city. It was an amazing day with a beautiful view.
|I realize I have a lot of solo pictures that feel a little awkward because its just me and Ezra by ourselves. But oh well|
|I loved this little seat, with the middle part being a tree. Ideas for my future backyard someday.|
One of the last things on my list was going to Nara to see the deer castle. It was much more frightening than I anticipated. These deer are fearless. They were biting and nipping. One karate kicked tommy, one head butted June down the stairs, and they also had no personal space when it came to getting into the strollers with the frightened kids. It was a VERY cool shrine though. And we hiked around the a beautiful area following the main walk. We lost Will for a while which was nerve racking. I shopped in several stores, and then we went out to a really good okonomiyaki restaurant.
Cool finds along the mini hike:
|My mom and dad are so sweet.|
At the Okonomiyaki place there vegetables were some of the best!
|Fresh butter corn|
|This asparagus was AMAZING. and check out those thick bacon slices!|
|the discount/ used store next to the restaurant was selling some pretty interesting items.|
|Had to wear his reinderr footies to go see the little deer.|
Ezra decided it was time to start crawling, and standing up. After this picture my mom promptly lowered his sleeper to the lowest level. How did you all the sudden grow up!
|And more standing up|
|I told him to show me his grumpy face. Even that is cute.|
|This picture was hilarious because both boys were fast asleep. Liz looked at them asleep and snapped a picture, both still asleep.... Then she looked at the picture and Ezra's eyes were open. what?!|
|Tommy was a great Ezra friend this trip.|
|Look at these snoopy donuts my dad bought. So Japanese and adorable. My dad got in trouble this night because he was caught letting Ezra suck on a donut.|
|Just a few hyakuen store goods. I had a whole suitcase full of just snacks like this.|
|chillin with Kaicho|
|President with the two new little guys|
Just outside of the mission home there was a really beautiful maple tree just turning colors. Every time went into the laundry room you could see the beautiful tree. I walked out and had to grab some pictures. I am glad I did, because the very next day( due to some miscommunication) some workers came and cut down all the trees in the yard. :( It made my mom really sad.
As they were loading the logs Danny ran out and grabbed some stumps to hopefully turn into chopsticks or something eventually. It was a really shocking and sad realization to have such a bare yard.
While we were in Japan-Spencer and I hit our 7 year anniversary. The plan was to have shabu-shabu to celebrate, but after miles of walking around the station- we learned most places are closed after lunch and before dinner. So we ended up at a little Indian joint, which was a huge relief for our hungry bellies.
One of the very last things we did before I left was the bamboo forest, which they lit up with christmas lights for Christmas. It was very pack-jammed but SO unique and pretty. We got there early and just walked around Kyoto- which is cool in and of itself.
Look at all of these statues. Someone remind me of the story behind them again? They each represent something. and there were a lot of them. It was cool walking around here because my dad served his mission in this area when he was 19. He remembered these statues from when he was here that long ago.
|I really liked this guy. He was so happy. And I am pretty sure I have a very similar picture of me doing this with a bird too! Haha.|
|Dad got some more incredible Japanese decorated donuts.|
|The bamboo forest hike.|
After the hike we were all so starving and opted for Mcky'ds on the way home. I ordered two hamburgers, a melon soda, and a chocolate croissant pie. They had some interesting fry dips not found in america- one was a jelly curry dip, and I don't remember the other flavor- but they both were not too bad.
All these experiences were incredible, but beyond all of this was the gift of seeing my parents serving the Lord with everything that they have. They were so happy and they love the missionaries. I think they were exhausted, but they just were always on the go, and never had the opportunity to think about being exhausted. My favorite days were going to the missionary Christmas parties/ talent shows and hearing my parents get up and testify of God's love for their missionaries. We even tried to do a talent which ended up being pretty funny. We also attended the ward talent show/ christmas party which we sang silent night.
It was bittersweet leaving. I loved being at home under my mom and dad's roof. But I sorely missed my family and couldn't imagine spending Christmas without my husband and kids. On my last night, my dad stayed up extra late and talked with us. Every time I look back at the pictures I get more and more excited for the day for my parents to come home and be my neighbors. I try not to think about it because I am bad at being patient, and I just want them to come home now. But they are doing good things and are where they need to be.