Monday, December 04, 2006

Mirror Image

Oh, the fascination a simple mirror provides!

Eight Months Old

I turned eight months old on October 28th. Since my 8-month birthday was so close to Halloween, my mommy decided to do my photo shoot in my Superman costume. Aren't I cute? I wore my costume to the Harvest Party at church, and then on Halloween, I got dressed up in it again and went trick-or-treating with my mommy and daddy. Only I didn't get to eat the candy I got this year. I didn't think that was very fair, but I enjoyed chewing on my cape.

This month, I finally learned to crawl! Now I can go places and explore and get into all sorts of trouble! I also started pulling up to a standing position. The view is great from up high. I am doing better at feeding myself, too. I like munching on rice crackers and picking up cereal with my fingers. This month, I also had my first shots, and I was so brave -- I hardly cried at all.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Alex Meets an "Old" Friend

Last week, Roxanna and Baby Sophie came to Portland to visit. It was fun getting Alex and Sophie together again after so many months. The picture below was taken at Holiday Fair at Cascade. They also went to the Harvest Party at Metro Church sporting their darling Halloween costumes. Click here to visit Roxanna's blog and see more pictures of the two of them together!

Alex Pulls Up!

So proud of himself!

Pumpkin Carving

We carved our pumpkins last Friday afternoon after school. Jessica, a classmate of Robbie and Johnny's, held Alex so I could take a few pictures.

Rusty thought his pumpkin had great acoustical qualities!

Ronda asked us to get her the weirdest looking pumpkin we could find. So we got one that was covered with warts!

The finished product. The big one is Rusty's, the medium-sized one is mine, and the little one is Alex's. Note the single tooth carved into the smile!

From the top: Robbie's, Ronda's, and Johnny's. Johnny actually carved his name into his pumpkin. Quite an intricate design.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Alex Visits the Pumpkin Patch

We went to the Pumpkin Patch hosted by the Vancouver Church of Christ to pick out our Halloween pumpkins. It was a perfect fall day, warm and sunny. Alex helped us choose a pumpkin for each member of the family, including a small one for himself! But I think Mama will have to help him carve it! He loved sitting on the hay bales and playing with the bright orange pumpkins.

Alex also tried hay for the first time! After much deliberation, he determined that he would leave the hay to the horses and stick to foods like sweet potatoes and applesauce. But it sure was fun to play in.

I love fall! And I love watching my baby explore and learn about the world around him!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Mary E. Campbell

Mary E. Campbell, born September 17th, 1942 of Aaron B. Stanes and Luella M. Falk, went to Heaven at 12:37 a.m. in her home, Oct. 3, 2006. With her son, daughter, three grandchildren, and daughter-in-law at her side, she went peacefully after suffering from a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor found June 28, 2006.

Mary's passion, besides her family and her faith, was teaching. She became part of the Portland public school system in 1981. She was a well-known substitute teacher in many school districts throughout Oregon. She touched the lives of many children, especially those with special needs or those that just needed a hug. She was always willing to help in any way she could, whether with food, money, clothing, shelter, or spiritual uplifting.

Mary was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Johnny R. Campbell. She is survived by her daughter, Ronda Stefan; her son, Rusty Campbell and daughter-in-law, Laura Campbell; and her three grandsons, Robbie Stefan, Johnny Stefan and Alexander Campbell, all of Portland. She is also survived by four brothers, Ronald Starnes of Lewiston, Idaho; Kenneth Starnes of Manson, Manitoba; Lyle Starnes of Dechard, Tenn.; and Willis Starnes of Irving, Texas.

Services were held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006 in the Eastside Church of Christ, 9030 N.E. Glisan Street, Portland.

Donations in Mary's honor should be made to Columbia Christian Academy or the Johnny and Mary Campbell Endowment Fund for Handicapped Students at Cascade College.

(The above obituary was written by Ronda and appeared in the Oregonian on Friday, October 6th.)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Seven Months Old

I am seven months old and just as cute as can be. I weigh 20.5 pounds (nearly triple my birth weight) and am 27 inches long. I am in the 95th percentile for weight and the 75th percentile for height. My mommy and daddy can't believe how big I am getting. Our shipment with my 6-9 month size clothes got here just in time. I was about to bust out the seams on all my 3-6 month clothes!

I love trying new foods, playing with my rubber duckies in the bath, watching "Sesame Street," and cheering for my cousins at their soccer games. They are the star players on their team. I want to be just like Robbie and Johnny when I get big. I can push up into a crawling position now, and I know I am supposed to be able to go places on my hands and knees, but I am having a hard time figuring out how to coordinate everything. Sometimes I get really frustrated, so I just start yelling. Then my mommy or daddy comes and rescues me.

Alex Meets Miss Earline

This dear lady, from the church Rusty used to work for in Mississippi, was in Oregon recently visiting her cousin who lives in the area. We met up for lunch one day at Beaches, a restaurant on the Columbia River. Earline enjoyed the distinctive honor of being the first person from "down South" to hold and play with our little munchkin. So good to see you, Earline!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Six Months Old

August 28th was my six-month birthday! Can you believe I am half a year old already? I am enjoying being outdoors in the summer weather, going on walks, and playing in the grass. This month, my major achievements were learning to sit up by myself and starting to eat big people's food! I have had rice cereal, bananas, peaches, applesauce, pears, mashed potatoes, and avocado. Sometimes, my mommy will give me a piece of apple or a carrot to gnaw on. She even let me try Grandma's homemade peach icecream one day! I have yet to meet a food that I don't like!

Alex Sits!

Look at me! Look at me! I can sit up all by myself!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Feelin' Peachy

Last Thursday, Mary, Ronda, Rusty, Alex and I went out to Sauvie Island and picked peaches. Over 400 pounds of sweet, juicy Veterans peaches. What did we do with that many peaches, you ask? Well, we ate some (delicious made into a pie, or just sliced with vanilla ice cream!), we gave some away, and we canned the rest. You see, every year, Mary cans this special variety of peach. And, since Mary's home-canned peaches are among Rusty's favorite foods, I asked her to teach me how to make them.

Even after eating some of the peaches and giving some away, there were still a lot of peaches left to can! So, Mary and I called in the troops. Pictured below are Alex and me with my friend Chalon, also a dedicated home canner, and in the background, Mary and her long-time friend Judy.

The peaches had to be peeled, then sliced or halved, then packed into jars. After that, we poured syrup over them, capped the jars, and put them into the canner for a 25-minute hot water bath. With two canners going at once, the kitchen heated up quick! The old adage that many hands make light work certainly held true in this case, though, and we enjoyed some sweet fellowship while we peached!

At final count, we had no less than 49 quart jars of peaches! That should keep Rusty happy for awhile, dontcha think? We also made several batches of peach jam and peach syrup (can't wait to try it on pancakes!). Home canning really is a lost art in these days of packaged and processed everything. I'm glad I learned how to do it, and I certainly feel like a domestic diva after this week! In all honesty, though, I don't care if I don't see another peach for a long, long time!

Wiggin' Out!

Mary, Rusty's mom, has been undergoing radiation therapy for the past several weeks as part of her treatment. As you may know, one of the many unpleasant side effects of radiation is hair loss. But thanks to the generosity of the American Cancer Society, Mary was able to get two wigs and several hats and turbans, all for free. She is pictured here trying on a wig that Ronda picked out just for fun. (Don't worry, the wigs she went home with were much more conservative!) I can't even begin to imagine what she must be going through right now, and yet through it all, she still manages to have fun and keep a positive outlook. And yes, good sport that she is, she did give me permission to post this picture of her on our blog!

Alex Plays His Piano

This wonderful toy was a gift to Alex from his Auntie Ronda (who dotes on him as only an aunt can do). He loves to sit in it and play with all the toys and make it light up and play music. He especially loves to play for an audience -- Mama, Daddy, Grandma, or whoever else happens to be in the room at the moment. I think we have a little performer on our hands!

Alex Visits "Mama Mzazi"

Alex loves to visit his "Mama Mzazi" (great- grandma Nadine, my grandma). She will be 80 years old this year, and her eyesight is failing, but she holds Alex and he talks to her and tells her all the things he has been doing. We try to go out and see her at least once a week. Last week, we walked around Huntington Terrace, her retirement home, and she showed him off to all her friends and the staff there. Alex loves to meet new people, and is proving to be quite the ham. Hmmmm, wonder who he gets that from?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Five Months Old

5 Months Old
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
I was five months old on July 28th, the day we arrived in Portland. I am getting very big and heavy and will soon outgrow my 3-6 month size clothes! I am rolling over and learning to sit up like a big boy. My recent discoveries include my feet (they sure are fun toys!) and my vocal cords (I can scream really loud when I want to!). My mommy says she thinks I will get my first tooth soon. This teething business is no fun at all! Until next month...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Alex Meets "The Fam"

Well, hello from Portland, Oregon! We arrived here safely last Friday. Alex did great on the 11 1/2 hour plane ride from Seoul to LA. I think he was just about the best behaved baby on the whole flight (and there were lots of babies)! While most of the other kids were screaming and crying, he snoozed peacefully in his carseat, and when he wasn't sleeping, he was trying to make friends with the other passengers. He travels so well -- I knew he would make a great TCK (must get that from his mommy)! Oh, and by the way, no one even asked us any questions about his chicken pox, which were still healing when we made our trip.

Since we arrived, Alex has enjoyed meeting relatives on both sides of the family, and of course they have all enjoyed showering him with attention. Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure:

With Daddy, Grandma, Auntie Ronda, and cousins Johnny and Robbie

With Great-Uncle Jim and Great-Aunt Mary Jane Campbell

With Great-Uncle Dennis and Great-Aunt Diana Campbell

Cousin Johnny introduces Alex to the PlayStation

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alex Goes to Korea

We spent yesterday sightseeing in Seoul. We went to Namsan Park, on a huge hill. We took a cable car up to the park, then walked around for a bit and had lunch. The Seoul Tower is on top of the hill, and we rode the elevator up to the top for a great view of the city.

We also walked down Insa Dong, a great little street with lots of souvenir and antique shops. Then we went to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Alex did great the whole day. He enjoyed riding in his stroller and all the attention he got from people we passed by.

We have been enjoying wonderful Korean food. We had bulgogi (Korean barbeque) on Monday night, and last night we tried stewed chicken with ginseng. Delicious! Korean food is much spicier than Japanese food.

It has been good to rest and relax for a bit before we continue our journey to Portland.

Our Spotted Leopard

This is for everyone out there who asked to see pictures of Alex with the chicken pox. Poor fella! These were taken last Thursday. He looks much better this week, I promise.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Our precious boy has a full-blown case of the chicken pox! I thought he was going to escape with just a light case, but that was not to be. Poor fella has them everywhere, and I do mean everywhere! Thankfully, he does not seem too bothered by them, and he is too young to really scratch himself. The doctor gave us some anti-viral medicine, which he has been taking without a fuss. The hardest part of all of this is getting him to lie still long enough for me to rub the cream on all his spots. Maybe I should be glad he is not rolling over yet! Hopefully, he will be mostly scabbed over by Monday.

We are still planning to leave Japan on Monday, July 24th. Stupid travel agency wanted to charge us 50% to change our tickets. Not an option. So, we are going. Alex will be wearing long pants, long sleeves, and a hat, and we are just going to pray no one says anything. If anyone does ask, though, we also have a doctor's note, thanks to Rusty's Uncle Willie, who is a pediatrician.

From Japan, we will fly to Seoul, Korea, where we will stay two nights. Then, on Wednesday, July 26th, we fly to LA. From LA, we are renting a car and driving to Portland. Believe it or not, it was cheaper to do that than to fly all the way to Portland! We are hoping to arrive in Portland by July 28th.

We are almost finished packing the shipment. After that, all that remains is to pack our bags for the plane, and clean the house. Jennifer, the young woman who is replacing Rusty will be moving in here after we leave, so we don't have to empty out the house. A lot of the furniture and other items will be staying for her to use. We are so thankful that things worked out this way -- it certainly has made everything easier on us.

Tomorrow, some friends are throwing us a goodbye party. Sunday, we will say our goodbyes to Taga church. And on Monday, we will begin our journey across the Pacific. It all still seems a little unreal to me. Things have happened so quickly that I have not really had much time to process everything. But, ready or not, we will be getting on a plane in less than 72 hours!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Special Treat

The Brass
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
In the midst of all the craziness that has been our life since the end of June, my sweet husband still found a way to fulfill a desire I've had since we came back to Japan a year ago. What a great guy!

When we lived in Mito, my favorite restaurant was called "The Brass." Since we have been back, I have wanted to eat there again, but what with one thing and another, we just never made it. When we realized we were going to be leaving Japan unexpectedly, I resigned myself to the fact that we would probably not have the time to make it back there. But Rusty found a way to make it happen, and we had lunch there last Friday.

The Brass 2
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
The Brass is a "yakiniku" restaurant, which means that the meat comes to your table raw and you cook it yourself on a grill that is set into the center of the table. Everything about this restaurant is simple, but classy, from the decor, to the food presentation, to the food itself. You choose what kind of meat you want (I had chicken and sausage; Rusty had beef and sausage), but your meal also comes with a green salad, onion soup, rice, a dipping sauce for the meat, and to finish, a glass of juice, tea, or coffee. We had a great time, the food was delicious, and it was a nice break from all the stresses of packing and getting ready to leave.

The Art of Packing

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
If there's one thing we global nomads are good at, it's packing. We may not be so good at settling down in one place, putting down roots, getting "real" jobs, or being the all-American family with a house in Suburbia, 2 cars, and 1.6 kids. But by golly, we are sure good at packing! As you can see, Alex is getting an early start in learning the fine art of packing. Don't worry, we took him out of the box before we taped it up!

After packing and moving several times since we got married, I am happy to report that Rusty and I have finally figured out a "packing system" that keeps us out of each other's hair and the arguments to a minimum! Basically, Rusty does the majority of the actual packing. Since he used to work for a moving company, he knows all the tricks of the trade -- how to maximize space, how to protect fragile and breakable items, and how to do it all relatively quickly. He also does most of the research and makes most of of the arrangements for things like tickets and our shipment. My jobs are to sort and pile, clean, do laundry, cook, and try to keep our household running as normally as possible right up until the end. This time around, of course, I have the added responsibility of taking care of Alex.

As I type this, we are at the tail end of packing the boxes for our shipment, which is scheduled for pick-up this coming Friday. And, just in case you are wondering, we are leaving Japan with much less than we brought -- final box count is still unknown, but it looks like it will be somewhere around 25.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Saying Goodbye

Alex with Sakas
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
The worst part about moving has got to be saying goodbye. Now, I heartily dislike the packing, the sorting, the innumerable errands, the endless decisions about what to keep, sell, give away, toss... But saying goodbye has to top the list as far as things I hate about moving. We have moved a lot and said a lot of goodbyes over the past several years. They don't seem to ever get any easier. And the hardest, of course, are the ones you say to family and dear friends.

And the Saka's have been both to Rusty and I. They were Rusty's host family when he came to Japan in 1997 on OC's Pacific Rim Program. When we came to Mito in 1999 as AET's, we were lucky enough to be placed in an apartment just down the street from their house. We shared a lot of good times together in our three years in Mito. Dinners in each other's homes... trips to the Tomihiro Hoshino Museum... seeing the plum blossoms in Kairakuen... watching the World Cup... visiting Asakusa Temple in Tokyo... picking grapes... learning ikebana (Japanese flower arranging).

The Saka's graciously hosted both of our families when they came to Japan to visit since our tiny apartment wasn't big enough for so many extra bodies. Our plum tree that they let us plant in their garden is still flourishing, and every year, they send us pictures of it in bloom. Rusty and I call them "Oka-san" and "Oto-san" (mother and father in Japanese). When Alex was born, they became his "honorary grandparents." In so many ways, they have been our family when we were strangers in a foreign land.

Two weeks ago, we had dinner with the Saka's one last time. Oka-san made a delicious Japanese meal as usual, and we spent a fun evening together. Alex especially enjoyed all the attention from his Oba-chan and Oji-chan. Oji-chan tickled his feet and played peek-a-boo with a fan (see photo above), and he just giggled and giggled. He thought it was the funniest thing! When I think that Alex will have no memory of the Saka's (or any part of our life here in Japan, for that matter), I am sad. Well, he will have the scrapbook, if I ever get around to making it!

Saying goodbye to the Saka's was one of the hardest things we've had to do so far. But we hope we'll see them again someday. Maybe they will come and visit us in Portland! Or maybe we will make a trip back to Japan at some point in the distant future.

So, we won't say "sayonara" -- just "jya ne" (see you later)!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Change in Plans

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." - Proverbs 16:9

I've been putting off writing this post because somehow, "putting it down on paper," or in this case, on the web, makes everything seem more real. As long as I don't put into words what we are about to do and why, I can pretend that life as I know it will go on: working, playing, eating, sleeping, going to church, raising a family here in this quiet little neighborhood in Hitachi, Japan.

When we came back to Japan last July, we intended to stay for... well, we weren't exactly sure how long we wanted to stay. But certainly longer than a year. I mean, we shipped 37 boxes full of "stuff" from America. You only go to all that trouble and expense when you intend to be somewhere for awhile. But here we are, almost exactly one year later, pulling out the boxes and filling them up again. Is there any sound more synonymous with moving than the sound of packing tape coming off the role?

We are leaving Japan. We are moving back to Portland. Under normal circumstances, I would be excited about returning to the one place in the United States that feels more like home to me than any other. But these are not normal circumstances. And the reasons for this unplanned return are anything but happy.

Rusty's mom, Mary Campbell, has been diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a very aggressive, malignant brain tumor. At the end of June, she underwent brain surgery, and the prognosis is not good. To read more about this particular kind of tumor, click here.

So, we are moving back to Portland to be close to Rusty's family during this very difficult time. This move will happen soon, probably by the end of the month. In fact, we had purchased tickets to leave today, July 11th, but then I came down with the chicken pox! Yes, it is a childhood illness. And yes, having it once usually provides lifetime immunity. Apparantly, it is still possible, although rare, to contract it a second time -- lucky me! Although I am feeling better this week, now Baby Alex is almost certain to contract the chicken pox as well, so our plans have been put on hold until he is well enough to travel.

We would like to ask for your prayers for our family during this time. Please pray for us as we sort, pack, sell, clean, say our goodbyes, and leave Japan. Pray that Alex will have a mild case of the chicken pox and feel better soon. Pray for Mary and Ronda and the rest of Rusty's family -- for God's peace and strength and comfort to be made very real in all their lives...

Blogging may be a bit sporadic for the next few weeks as we make this transition, so please be patient with us. And to all you Portlanders out there, although we wish it were under different circumstances, we're excited about seeing you very soon!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Four Months Old

Four Months Old 3
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
On June 28th, Alex turned four months old. Our tiny baby is not so tiny anymore. At his four-month check-up last week, he weighed in at 7600 grams (almost 17 pounds). That is more than double his birthweight! He also measured 65 cm., 15 cm. longer than he was at birth. The doctor pronounced him a healthy baby and said he was ready to start taking clear liquids (like diluted apple juice).

Alex is at such a fun age right now. He smiles a lot and giggles hilariously when tickled. This month, he was introduced to baths in the big bathtub with Daddy (see previous post) as well as the joys of reading books with Mommy (pictures coming soon). He is working hard at trying to roll over, but hasn't accomplished that feat just yet. He is, however, sleeping through the night now on a consistent basis! I put him to bed about 9 p.m. and he will sleep until about 7 a.m. I really did not expect him to be doing this quite so soon, but I am certainly enjoying it.

Happy Four Months, Alex! We love watching you grow and change.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Changing the Bathtime Routine

Bathtime with Daddy
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
At almost 4 months old, Alex is quickly outgrowing his baby bath-tub. So, he has made the switch from taking a bath in the kitchen sink to taking a bath in the big tub with daddy. The first couple of nights he wasn't sure if he liked it or not. But around the 3rd or 4th night he figured out that by swinging his arms he could make the water splash. Sometimes he connects with the H2O in such a way that the water splashes up into his face. Although he startles himself, he never cries, but rather makes a gulping sound. He just collects his composure and conitnues swinging. I thing we've got a swimming maniac on our hands. He must get that from his daddy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
What is the best way to describe what "Pa" meant to us? I know that he filled a special role in each of our lives. For me, having a disabled father who was unable to fullfill many of the natural things that fathers should in their children's lives, I had "Pa" to fill in the gaps.

He taught me how to shoot a gun and hunt deer. He even cleaned my first deer because I was afraid and didn't know how. He taught me how to drive and how to change the oil in my car. He taught me the value of being a handy-man and trying to repair things on my own.

He taught me where I came from and who I was related to. He implanted on me that there was no reason to ever be late for church. (I'm still trying to live up to that one.)

I learned that people, especially neighbors and friends, are valuable assets. And sometimes, you just need to lean on the pick-up truck and talk about the wheat and potatoes and just 'shoot the breeze' with each other.

During those early morning cups of coffee or those late night cups of tea, I learned the value of sitting together with family and catching up on each other's lives. He was so proud of all his family.

His willingness to stay by grandma's side and take care of her on a daily basis taught me the importance of being committed "for better and for worse, through sickness and in health."

We will all miss his apple-sauce, his fried chicken, his pancakes, and especially his fried potatoes-n-eggs. We will all miss the joy and pleasure of visiting him out on the farm. We will all miss getting teased by him about something. We will all miss hearing him tell the same stories that he told us a hundered times before.

No one will ever sing like he did.
No one will ever whistle like he did.
No one will ever tell me again that I need to grow whiskers in order to be a man.
No one will ever throw me in the pond again.

Life changes and goes on and even continues after death. Perhaps even now, he is driving his Model-T around, or working in his garden, or just sleeping in his chair.

The Bible tells us about the dangers of casting judgment upon one another. But I have to say, with out any doubt, that grandpa loved two things more than anything else in his life: his creator, God, and what God created through him, his family (5 children, 19 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren, and counting...).

When we think about all that we will miss about him, and about the role that he played in our lives, is there really any better way to express how we feel, than to say, "We love ya, Pa."

(Rusty's grandfather, Aaron Starnes, passed away on Wednesday, June 7th. He was almost 94 years old. We weren't able to make it back for the funeral, but Rusty wrote the above piece and emailed it to his mom so it could be read at the funeral in our absence.)

Happy Father's Day!

3 Generations
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

--- attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Happy Father's Day to two of the most successful men I know!

Any man can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a daddy!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

My Buddy, Freedom

Alex and Freedom
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
This is my friend, Freedom. He's a big boy -- almost six months older than me. He's sitting up by himself, crawling, and eating solid food. I can't do any of those things yet, but someday I'll be able to do everything Freedom does!

I like it when Freedom comes to my house to play. I'm not big enough to really play with him yet, but I watch him and we talk to each other. It's nice to have another little person around every once in awhile.

I hope Freedom and I will be friends for a long time!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Another Milestone

We've celebrated a lot of milestones in our family lately. The birth of our first child. My 29th birthday. Rusty's 33rd birthday. "Month Birthdays" for Alex. My first Mothers' Day.

And on May 29th, Rusty and I celebrated another milestone. We have now been married seven years! Wow! Do we qualify as old married folks yet?

I know there are people out there who have been married a lot longer than we have, but in today's world of one-night stands and disposable relationships, I'd say seven years is still an achievement. It hasn't always been easy. There have been challenges, struggles, and difficult times. Arguments, misunderstandings, hurt feelings. But there have also been good times, adventures, and special memories. Laughter, fun, and through it all, love. I feel so blessed to be sharing life and now raising a family with such a wonderful, caring, godly man!

In the last seven years, we have:

  • made three international moves (America to Japan, back to America, back to Japan)

  • driven across the United States twice (from Portland to Memphis and back again)

  • visited 23 different states

  • traveled to 9 foreign countries -- the Bahamas, Hong Kong (twice), Macau, Kenya, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and England (and Rusty went to France without me!)

  • lived four years (almost) in Japan

  • traveled extensively throughout Japan, managing to hit all four main islands in our first three years (highlights included two major road-trips and the Ice Festival in Sapporo)

  • been on one mission trip to Kampala, Uganda (a Let's Start Talking campaign in 2003)

  • owned eight different vehicles (not all at once!)

  • lived in five different homes

  • both started master's degrees (and let's hope in the next seven years, we can finish them!)

  • made many, many new friends!

  • and last, but certainly not least, become parents together (and we both agree this is just about the coolest thing that's happened to us so far)

I don't know what the next seven years will hold, but if they are anything like the first seven, I have a feeling that I am in for quite a ride!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Three Months Old

3 Months Old, originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.

Here is our little man at three months old. He grows and changes so much from month to month, and even day to day. He is getting longer and fatter, is wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes, and has graduated to the next size diaper cover.

By the way, just a little plug here for my Mother-Ease cloth diapers. They are wonderful! The benefits of cloth diapering are many, including being better for the envionment (a big plus for my "save-the earth" Oregonian husband) and better for babies' bottoms (no diaper rash yet, knock on wood). But the best thing about cloth diapers, in my opinion, is that they are going to end up saving us a TON of money over disposables.

3 Months Old
Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Alex' accomplishments of the third month included discovering his hands, starting to push up with his legs, improving his visual tracking, holding and shaking rattles, and beginning to sit (while well-supported by us or pillows). He even slept all the way through the night on several occasions, although that is not his usual pattern yet (it only happens when he is very, very tired, either because he didn't nap well or we kept him up too late)! He has started interacting with both his toys and us more, which is so much fun for Rusty and I. He is also smiling a lot more and has started giggling and chuckling, especially when tickled!

Month three also brought about my return to very part-time work for World English Center. Currently, I am teaching two kindergarten classes, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. On Tuesday, I leave Alex at World English Center with the secretary while I go to the kindergarten for my class. On Wednesday, he goes with me to the kindergarten and I leave him at the drop-in day care for an hour while I teach my class. Alex seems to be adjusting well to this so far. He is such a content and easy-going baby, and for that, I am very thankful.

Happy Three Month Birthday, Alex!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Stone Is One!

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Alex' friend Stone Littlejohn celebrated his first birthday on May 25th this year. His party was a lot of fun. Lj and Kari sure put out a great spread. From the barbeque chicken to the homemade lemonade, everything was delicious. Thanks, guys! Stone really enjoyed his birthday cake, especially the frosting part, as you can see from the photo!

Happy First Birthday, Stone! May there be many more to come!

stonebday1, originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.