15 December 2015

Compassionate & Kind: Visiting Teaching December 2015

In this month's message, we are reminded to have compassion and to be kind as the Saviour was.
I thought I knew what compassion meant: to be kind and show mercy, but we learn that “compassion means literally ‘to suffer with.’ It also means to show sympathy, pity, and mercy for another.” 

The handout for this month is taken from one of the additional scriptures listed in 1 Peter 3:8. There is a part that says to "be pitiful." This caught me off guard being told to be pitiful as it implies being pathetic or inadequate. After looking at the word used in Japanese (awaremi), I learned that it means pity or compassion. So we are not being told to be pitiful but rather, to have pity and to suffer with those in need.

Another part of the message I enjoyed is by President Monson: “The Savior has always shown unlimited capacity for compassion. … Let us open the door of our hearts, that He—the living example of true compassion—may enter.”


18 November 2015

What Lack I Yet?: Visiting Teaching November 2015

This months Visiting Teaching message comes from the October General Conference talks.
There were so many that I connected with and so many awesome messages to choose from about womanhood and motherhood, but the one I ended up choosing is entitled "What Lack I yet?" by Elder Larry R. Lawrence. 

If we are wanting to be better, if we want to improve ourselves but don't know where to begin or how to start, all we need to do is ask the Holy Ghost a simple question. "What is keeping me from progressing?" If we ask this question sincerely, the Holy Ghost will answer with a personalized and a very honest answer. The answer may not be what you are expecting. It may be something simple like "clean you room" or "stop interrupting people." The spirit will tell you where to begin to start self-improvement. He will give instructions to us in baby steps to help us better ourselves.

Awesome talk and a powerful tool for us to become better and more like our Saviour.


YSA Girls Night!

Last weekend, I hosted a girls night at my house for the YSA girls only. I have been wanting to do more and show then YSA that I am there for them in some way other than just attending YSA classes on Sunday, so Jun and I decided on this. He took the boys and had a sleepover somewhere else and we did our sleepover at our place. I planned so much for this, especially in the days leading up to the night. I usually wouldn't take as much time to do something like this, but because everything is in Japanese, I have to take extra time to figure out what I am going to say.

The food and decorations and I pretty much left to my Mum as I knew she would make it look nice and I did the games, activities and the lesson. For games we played Pretzel Face using gummies instead. Note to self: Do not use candies that will stick to your skin and stop the lolly from sliding across your face. Needless to say, the gummies didn't work so we had to scrap that game. Although, it was funny seeing the girls balancing the gummies on their heads trying to move the gummy with their eyebrows. I also taught them how to play the Chocolate Game which was a party favourite when I was a kid. 

 After games, we had dinner which tasted awesome and looked great thanks to Mum! The girls could not stop raving about the cheeseball which I am sure they have not seen before. Other favourites were the Lemper and the brownies. I had a Banoffee Pie tucked away in the fridge, but because there was enough food, we left it for the next day to take to church. Unfortunately, it was mistaken for the Primary's refreshments and was happily eaten by them. The YSA ate up the leftovers.

After dinner, we had a Craft Corner and I for some reason, really wanted to make Lip Scrubs together. I think because it is easy and I had all the ingredients for it. To fill the small containers I got for them, we mixed 2tsp sugar, 1tsp coconut oil, 3 drops peppermint oil and a drizzle of honey. They loved it! The room smelt amazing and I caught a few girls taste testing their new products lol.


Once the girls had tried and tested out their lip scrubs and had settled down a bit, I finished the night with a lesson. I had thought long and hard about what I wanted to do for a lesson and had a few ideas, but with some inspiration from my sister, Ericca, and the activity she did for her YSA girls, I decided to do the same theme of Disney Princesses. I based my lesson on the talk given by Elder Uchtdorf entitled, Your Happily Ever After. I wrote out all the Princesses names and beside it, a quality that they each possess:

Pocahontas - adventurous
Rupunzel - passionate
Tiana - inspiring
Snow White - compassionate
Cinderella - kind
Aurora - graceful
Mulan - courageous
Ariel - spirited
Belle - loyal
Jasmine - generous
Merida - brave
Esmerelda - fearless
Elsa - powerful 

Most of the qualities I found with a quick Google search which made things easy for me!
Next, together with my other sister, Laura, we came up with items that could represent each Princess and that I could easy buy at the dollar store. In the end, the things I ended up getting were:

Pocahontas - coloured pencils
Rupunzel - purple hair brush
Tiana - cooking chopsticks with frogs on them
Snow White - big red bow magnet that you can hang things on
Cinderella - micro-fibre duster
Aurora - sewing kit
Mulan - fan
Ariel - serving fork
Belle - mirror
Jasmine - sand timer
Merida - solar powered dancing bear 
Esmerelda - tambourine
Elsa - snow globe

To start my lesson, I had the girls draw a random number out of a bag from 1-10 (10 girls). Then I split them into two groups, gave them a pen and piece of paper and laid out all the items on the table for them to see. I explained that they must figure out which item belongs to which princess (I had a list of all their names). The first team to get them all right, wins! They really enjoyed this part and I enjoyed watching them trying to figure them all out. Apparently, the only hard things to get on the list were Belle's and Snow White's items. I knew it would be a bit tricky as Snow White's story and the mirror go hand in hand, but Belle actually used the mirror so I put it for her. I didn't want to just buy an apple for Snow White because I wanted it to be something useful. I could only find small fake apples for craft which I was umm-ing and arr-ing over until I found this big red bow that was really handy. You stick it on the fridge and can bend the ribbons upwards to make hooks to hang things from. I was sold. The first team that finished got them two items mixed up the wrong way, so when I said that they made a mistake... the other team quickly pounced and got me to read their list. They got all of them right, so they won! Based on the order of the numbers that they picked earlier, they were allowed to choose their favourite item to keep. The losing team also got to chose an item. Once everyone had something, I proceeded to tell them the quality of each Princess and that this item represents that. Then in teams, they had to relate their item to it's corresponding quality and then when time was up, share it with everyone.

To wrap it up in the best Japanese I could muster, I shared the story of Rupunzel (thanks Ericca!) and told them how she was stolen as a child and lived her whole life not knowing that she was a Princess. We too are like Rupunzel, living in this world and not knowing that we are Princesses. Daughters of a King. And we shall one day inherit all that he has. A Princess knows her worth and possess all these qualities that these Disney Princess have. We too must possess them and live our lives knowing who and what we are. That was the essence of it!

We ended the program there and the girls were left to mingle, eat and watch Disney movies. It was a really fun night! 5 our of the 10 girls stayed the night and we went to church the next day. I taught the YSA Sunday School lesson and the lesson perfectly matched what I taught the night before. It was about being a chosen generation and how because we are chosen, we have certain responsibilities etc. I brought a Banoffee Pie and left over brownies to share with everyone, but like I said, our Banoffee got eaten lol but it was ok. Everyone had fun and overall, the girls night and also the boys night when really well!

04 November 2015

My Birthday!

It was MY birthday yesterday on the 3rd of November! I'll tell ya, the 3rd of November is an excellent day to have a birthday in Japan because it is a public holiday! This means my husband and daughter don't have to go to work or school and can stay home and celebrate with ME! I turned 29 which means this next year will be my last year in my 20's! Aaahhh! My last bit of youth until I am officially a "woman" in my books. 

The day started with Reia and Aila leading me to the living room which had been lovingly decorated by everyone. Reia was so excited about my birthday and was counting down the days. The day before, she went grocery shopping with her Oma to get birthday food and she bought me some chocolate almonds as my present. Oma told her it was a secret and not to tell me, but she was just so excited she eventually over time and after telling me "I got you a present, but it's a secreeeet," she finally said in a whisper "I got you some almonds. Some chocolate almonds! But it's a secret!" She giggled and ran off lol. She loves celebrating things like Halloween, Christmas and birthdays. She wrapped up her own present and wrote a small banner of "Mummy" for me. The table was set beautifully by Mum with platters of delicious looking food and pink balloons dangling from the lamp shade above. It was quite special and as soon as I saw it all, Reia and Aila squealed "Happy Birthday!"

We ate and ate until we couldn't eat anymore. Jun left to attend a funeral and the rest of us stayed at home recovering from colds. The weather was perfect and warmed up the house nicely. I couldn't help myself and start doing the laundry and cleaning the house! Don't want to waste that sunshine! When Jun came home, we took the girls around the block for a walk with Reia's bike and Aila having a tantrum about not being picked up and having to walk. We didn't get far until we hit the bridge. This is where Aila likes to play shop and pretend she is working at a restaurant and we are the hungry costumers wanting to grab a bite. She role plays in Japanese of course with "Irasshaimase" and a lot of "hai's" and "douzo's." We didn't really move from that spot except for a brief game of number tag in a small car park. It was a bit windy so we didn't stay out too long. 

We returned home, and when the girls were distracted by YouTube, we left them with Mum and we snuck out to dinner in Shinjuku. First we made a brief stop at Forever 21 to buy some clothes. There wasn't much of a selection so I just picked up some basic tees and a nice knitted jersey that will be good for Winter. After that, we went to the South side of the station and walked into a nice looking Japanese restaurant. We got settled and our course started to arrive. Everything surprisingly seemed to have a Korean twist to it, with Korean appetizers, salads and Korean spices etc. The main dishes of the night were definitely the meat dishes. Firstly, we had 'gyuubashi' which is this slices of raw beef! It was so fresh that you can eat it raw. It came out still a bit frozen, so we warmed it up a little over the grill. The flavour was really beefy, like cooked beef! But the texture was raw, it was different! For a small plate of about 6-7 slices, it was 2,500 yen! Pretty expensive meat!!! The other meat dish we had was the main of the night, the yakiniku or Japanese BBQ meat. Usually, yakiniku meat is cheap and thin, but these cuts were expensive and thick! There was a selection of different cuts of beef including amazing cuts like the inner thigh and sirloin, but there was also tongue, intestines and liver (bleh!). I ate everything though! The sirloin and the thigh were AMAZING. They just melted away in your mouth as you ate, it was so good! There were other amazing ones, but those two stood out the most. The next round was a really spicy bowl of rice in a Korean chili broth. I can not handle a lot of heat and this dish had about a tablespoon more of the chili I can handle. I thought that I had a higher tolerance of heat than Jun, but he ate that bowl like nothing! Mean while my throat and ears were on fire and were humming away. We both had about 2 or 3 glasses of water during that round. Next was the dessert and I thought it would be something standard like gelato or something but of course it had to be a bit extra special. The waitress walked in with a trio of desserts with a lit sparkler going off and a 'Happy Birthday Danielle' sign written in chocolate and raspberry sauce. There was a decadent, fudgey chocolate and walnut brownie, some vanilla bean ice cream and a red berry pana cotta. They were way better than the desserts I usually get at family restaurants. These were SO good and the sauces were all amazing and yum, I couldn't help but lick up the mango sauce drizzled around the plate with my finger! We were so stuffed by the end of it all, it was a really tasty meal and a wonderful night out together with Jun.

We went home after that and were able to see Reia who was apparently waiting up for us. Oma took good care of the girls like she does and they were bathed and ready for bed by 9. Because Reia was waiting up, we snuck into the kitchen for a little bit of birthday cake and ice cream which was also delicious. It was a small chocolate cake, but dense and moist and rich. Just what I wanted. I was still so stuffed though, I couldn't eat much. Then I fell asleep pretty much straight away out of exhaustion! 

It was a great day spent with my family. Having Mum there with her presentation skills and food selection in the morning made it even more special. 

Happy birthday to me!


02 November 2015

Halloween 2015

Since last Halloween, Reia has been wanting to be a bat. There were a few changes in the middle of the year from us all being bats, to only her being a bat and the rest of us going as skeletons. At the last minute she decided that her and her Daddy would be bats and Aila and I would be cats, and thats what we did!

We helped set up the chapel again this year which was fun. Mum was in there putting in her flair as she does, and in the end I think we all did great. Our costumes were makeshift and last minute but they did the trick. Reia was happy with her bat wings and Aila liked her cat tail.

There were some cool costumes this year! I saw a Uchiha Itachi from Naruto, a mummy, the Harry Potter cast, and four people went as Where's Wally. We had cookie decorating, fishing for lollies, what's in the box, a balloon treasure hunt room, and a mystery box game. Upstairs we had piñatas and refreshments. I could eat that 7 layer dip all day! I made a banoffee pie and Mum made a fruit platter in the shape of a jack o' lantern.

I was running around trying to please my two girls. With Reia wanting to get more candy downstairs, Aila just wanting to sleep and me wanting to eat that dip it was a bit stressful! Luckily Mum was there to help out as Jun was busy being MC. 

It was good fun and the girls both fell asleep after we got home which meant that the adults could watch the Rugby World Cup Final in peace!!! Woooo go the All Blacks!!!

An awesome finish to a happy Halloween :)

Daddy being MC
Introducing our costumes

Wanting to be held by Daddy all night

Pinata time!

My fake eyelash fully coming off lol

She finally dozed off

30 October 2015

Lunch Time Viewing at Reia's Kindy

Today, the parents of the 1st years were allowed to come into the classrooms and view the kids eating their lunch. At first, this kind of lunch-viewing day seemed kind of odd to me, but once we were there I realized there were a few things the kids had learned to do. 
Reia was sitting down, fully aware of my camera ready and poised for a smile, but Reia looked a bit nervous and didn't give me many opportunities ( ≧Д≦)

The teacher played a little jingle on the piano which meant it was time for lunch. Then 5 children were selected to be the lunch-helpers for the day and they each wiped down a table. Then the girls and boys went and got their bags separately and hung it on the back of their chairs. When it was time, they all took out their cutlery sets, place mats, aprons and cups and waited for the next instruction. The teacher played another jingle on the piano which meant it was time to close their eyes and go to sleep. I was not sure what this part was for but assumed it was to calm everyone down before eating time. The bento boxes were handed out and they sand a little song before tucking in. It was all done very methodically and the kids were all well behaved. The teachers have trained them so well! 

Reia ate all of her rice first before touching anything else. She loves plain white rice, but will not touch it if you mix it with anything else, like furikake. Her bento was the only one without any furikake on it. I think she was a bit excited but also shy that we were there along with other parents being stared at.

After finishing her meal, she brought her plate up to us to show us what she had and hadn't eaten. Her Oma asked if Aila could have her leftovers. Reia laughed, said no and then swung her plate out of reach (*´艸`*)

Aila did not like being stuck in one place for the whole time and had to leave at one point to avoid a tantrum. She was enticed back inside onto a chair with some chocolate bread lol.

It was nice so see a little bit inside Reia's world and what she is learning at youchien :)

Saying hi to us
Waiting for lunch
During the "sleep" time
Getting her things organized
Starting off with the rice
Taking a second to pose for me
Aila in the corner with her chocolate bread
A bit too much on the fork
Looking but not smiling
Almost done with her rice
Yum yum yum
Not wanting to share the leftovers!

25 October 2015

Showa Kinen Park October 2015

This past Saturday, we hung out with our friends, Simon and Akane, at the park with our kids for their son's 4th birthday. It was a beautiful day and the park is HUGE so there are heaps of places to play. We first went to the Misty Forest and then the Bouncy Dome. We had never been to these parts of the park before so it was nice to go and explore. 
We ate a shared picnic lunch together and then let the kids play! They loved jumping on the big white "clouds" and then visited the dragon area and climbed those too. Reia was really getting into the climbing part and was determined to reach her Daddy on the other end of the dragon. Aila fell asleep after the domes and slept until it was time to go home.

Everyone was so exhausted after that day and we are all still feeling it! It was an awesome day to be out and about and create new memories with friends.