Monday, December 04, 2006
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
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
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, 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
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.
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
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!
Friday, August 25, 2006
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!
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Friday, August 04, 2006
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
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.
Friday, July 21, 2006
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
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.)
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
Any man can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a daddy!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
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
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
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.
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
Happy First Birthday, Stone! May there be many more to come!