05 February 2016

Marriage is Ordained of God: Visiting Teaching February 2016

After reading the message and the question we are to ponder this month, "How am I individually and steadily striving to 'come unto Christ'?", a few thoughts came to mind. 

Lately, I have been trying to wake up early and start my Latter-Day Morning routine. A friend of mine wrote a book about starting everyday by waking up early and setting aside time to draw nearer to Christ and our Heavenly Father. He talks about his 10 step, tried and true routine in the book which is definitely worth checking out.  I am almost finished and so far, it has been a great eye-opener about what I should be focusing on and how I should be spending my time. I wake up at 6:30 now, pray with intention, really thinking about every word I say instead of repeating the same stuff, and then I study the scriptures, my patriarchal blessing, General Conference talks, or the visiting teaching message etc. for about an hour. I record my thoughts or impressions in a journal as I go along.
After that, I get the girls ready for the day and take Reia to her school bus!

I have only been doing this for about a week, but already I feel refreshed, full of purpose and feel like I have had my ME time for the day. Living in Japan means I attend a Japanese ward and all the classes are in Japanese. While my Japanese has gotten better, I can still only understand about 80% of the lessons and talks and it isn't always a deep understanding either. I wish I could jump into the discussions more or give my opinion about certain things, but my Japanese is limited, especially when it comes to church language. Because of this, I have felt my testimony come to a stand still over the years and my spiritual levels deplete. I have slowly been refilling that reservoir, but not fast enough. Having a Latter-day morning routine so far has really helped me strengthen my own testimony. I have the time, without any distractions, to really focus and reflect on the things I should be focusing on. It more importantly helps me to "come unto Christ" every day instead of just on Sundays.

I like how the marriage triangle is included in the message. This is something I learned from Elder S. Gifford Nielson of the Seventy at a fireside held in Auckland, New Zealand. I had always felt that my husband was miles ahead of me in terms of gospel knowledge. He had served a mission and had so much more experience than me. I realised during that fireside that I needed to do my part and do my own study to meet him half way. I learnt that when I study and draw nearer to Christ, I also draw nearer to my husband. 

This morning during personal study, I was wondering what it must be like to have the spirit abide with me always and to receive personal revelation on a regular basis. It must be awesome to have that much clarity, guidance, peace and knowledge! In order to have that blessing, I know I need to make some changes in my life and simplify a few things. I definitely need to listen more.

Over the course of a week of personal study, I have already noticed a big difference between my  husband and I. It was never bad before, but now when we talk, gospel topics will naturally come up in conversation and we get excited about discussing these things together. It's kinda fun to get excited about the scriptures together and to help each other out with things we don't understand etc. 

I still have a long way to go, but I am excited about the blessings that come with coming unto Christ.

As a handout for this month, I made this simple tag and just clipped it on to a small packet of Doritos. It is also laminated to stick on the fridge or in your scripture bag afterwards.

Nothing fancy. Just simple, fun and tasty ^_^

04 February 2016

Setsubun 2016

 This year's Setsubun was a little less dramatic as Reia and Aila were not scared for their lives and crying in a corner! Reia has been learning about Setsubun and Oni at youchien so she was more excited than anything. Aila just went with the flow and as always, felt out the situation. They could not wait to start throwing some soy beans around the room! 

 The Oni (ogre) mask this year was provided by Reia. She made a green Oni hat at youchien complete with a yellow horn, green hair, gold teeth and bushy eyebrows. She said she wanted a happy Oni so she gave him a smiley face. Jun went out into the hallway to get ready and the girls counted down from 10. They armed themselves with their own little box of beans waiting for the ogre to come in. When Jun came in, there were squeals and frantic throwing of beans while chanting "Oni ha soto! fuku ha uchi!" It was a mess! Aila couldn't throw her beans far enough and Reia was right in there aiming for the face with gritted teeth!

Next, Reia wanted a turn and she was no ordinary Oni! She was a strong Oni that fought back! When we would all throw beans at her, she would be scooping them off the floor and throwing them right back at us! It took us a while to drive that ogre away. Naturally, Aila wanted a turn after that and she was a great little actress. When she stepped in, she stepped it up! She gave her best Oni impression, groaning and moaning with every bean, clomping around clumsily and then finally, dramatically falling to the ground to admit her defeat. The girls wanted me to have a turn so I reluctantly put the Oni hat on. I chased the girls around which they weren't expecting. They couldn't pick the beans up fast enough! I may be 7 months pregnant, but I can still move!

 For dinner, we made our own ehoumaki (恵方巻き) which means lucky direction roll. I am unfortunately not eating raw fish at the moment so I couldn't have the yummy looking raw salmon and tuna. I opted instead for the canned tuna & mayo combo and the crab meat which was still delicious. The girls ate about half of their full sized rolls and ALL the leftover soybeans. You are only supposed to eat the same amount as your age, but oh well. More blessings hopefully! Jun and I ate 3 large sushi rolls each!!! I am sure I don't need to tell you that we were wayyy past being full. It was so good though! We need to have sushi night more often, I think!

It was a nice low-key night and I am glad that the girls are past the scared stage and can really get into the Japanese tradition. Now it is time to put out our traditional doll set in preparation for Hinamatsuri or Girls Day on March 3rd! 

03 February 2016

Reia is 4 and a Half

Reia is now 6 months away from being 5!!! Turning 5 in NZ means starting Primary School (eeek!) but in Japan, she is still in kindergarten so it is not a huge deal. These past 6 months have been interesting as her little personality develops. She is very mindful of adults and rules. She always wants to win, hates to lose but does know how to play with others when her competitive hat isn't on. She can be grumpy and defiant but also a peacemaker. She is growing up!

Here is her latest update written in order:

She has grown up so much and matured in a way but at the same time, reverts back to being a baby sometimes when she is grumpy.

She is a very picky eater and won't touch capsicum and most things green apart from broccoli, cabbage and edamame. She is always weary of new food.

She wants to be treated exactly like Aila which is hard to do because Reia isn't a baby anymore.

I try to teach her to fight back if people are rough with her and she tells me "No Mummy, I don't want to hit." Well alrighty then. I don't want her to beat people up but to stick up for herself. She has a lot of boy friends and sometimes they can be a bit rough and she doesn't know how to get out of the situation.

She absolutely loves her Youchien and seems to be making friends. Her Japanese isn't good enough yet though to play with other kids. She still doesn't quite understand everything or how to say what she wants to say. She usually says things like "I won!" or "Look what I have" lol

She has moved on from the first stage of training-chopsticks to the last stage and is doing quite well! It will be interesting to see how she ends up gripping her chopsticks in the end.

Her and Aila both contracted Hand Foot and Mouth Disease starting on Reia's 4th birthday and it lasted for about 2 weeks. A few weeks after she had completely recovered, her nails started peeling off. It would become a yellowish-whitish colour which meant it was completely loose and could be taken off. It was never the whole nail, just part of it but eventually over time, the rest of the nail would become completely or partially removable as well.

She has become aware that she grows and that if she eats her vegetables that she will grow taller! She is always saying now that she will eat everything on her plate so that she can grow taller. She will always have me check to see how much she has grown in the last few days.

She has taken an interest in folding clothes with me. She loves to help me and show me how helpful and skillful she is. She likes to help me cook too.

She dresses herself now and can be quite choosey about what she wears. Her favourite top is her Purikyua shirt that she got from her cousin, Mika.

Her hair is so long now. It goes down to her bottom and gets so tangled and collects dust. It is getting harder to manage! All her friends have short hair and she wants to be like them, but I have been trying to tell her that Disney Princesses mostly all have long hair. She has slowly changed her mind about cutting it up to her shoulders, but still wants a fringe.

She has started learning how to read English. Oma has been giving her lessons since she has been here. Reia can read basic Japanese also but only very slowly.

She can be very defiant now and will scream and throw tantrums when she doesn't get her way. Even though she is throwing these tantrums, all she really wants is some attention and a big hug. She will usually calm down after some time-out and a little talk together.

She likes to help Aila take all her clothes off at home to let her run around free. She then joins Aila in the buff and they squeal and dance around. They think it is hilarious, which it is.

She get's emotionally overwhelmed now when things don't go her way. She will shout at me "Mama kirai!" or "Mama iranai!" which means "I hate Mama." This is usually followed by a "never ever ever EVER!" trailing off as she runs to her room. This is a new thing and is a bit shocking, but I know that she is just upset and doesn't know how else to vent her frustrations. During these times, I just let her talk it out until we come up with a solution or she usually gets over it on her own.

She eats so much white rice. She loves the stuff, especially with curry or chilli. But with no furikake.

She is so excited to have a baby brother too and can't wait to meet him! She thinks his name should be Jr. Rain Bow. She saw the Jr. on t.v. one time when Nick Jr. flashed across the screen. She pronounces it "jur." She likes to say hi to him through my belly and always mentions him in conversation. She is going to be a great help to me when he is finally here!

Lately I have been trying reverse psychology on her. I always used to say to other people in front of her that she is shy as an excuse for why she wouldn't talk around them etc. I think this has lead her to believe and act out to be shy even more. Lately I have been telling her that she is confident and strong instead to see if that changed her mindset. Sometimes it works and she goes up to people we have over and says hi!

She has been sleeping in more and more. She wakes up so late in the morning that we barely have time to get ready for youchien!

It is nearing the end of her first year of youchien and her Japanese has improved so much! She can relay her thoughts, tell me what she did that day, who she played with etc. She even has those little inflections that native Japanese speakers have, like adding 'no' to the ends of sentences. She always looks forward to going and is looking forward to being a second year student this April.

I asked her some questions about herself this time and this is what she said:

1. What is something you always say?
I like you and I play with you.

2. What makes you happy?
Playing and watching DVD's.

3. What makes you sad?
When somebody takes my toys.

4. When do you laugh?
When the movie is funny.

5. What were you like as a baby?

6. How old are you?

7. How tall are you?
Up to here! *stands on the dining table*

8. What is your favourite thing to do?
Playing with toys and Teletubbies.

9. What do you do when you're at school?
Eat and play and make stuff.

10. What are you really good at?
Making stuff and funny stuff.

11. What are you not very good at?
I'm good at everything.

12. What is Mummy's and Daddy's job?
Mummy: Making stuff.
Daddy: Watching stuff and eating stuff.

13. What is your favourite food?
Apples, bananas, ice cream, pancakes, fish and kanpyo sushi.

14. What do you enjoy doing with Aila?
Playing with toys.

15. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Purikyua and 100 years old.

That pretty much sums her up!
She is still figuring out things and learning as she goes. 
She is an awesome little girl and I love her to bits!