Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Missin' Memphis and Mississippi

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Who woulda thunk it? After being gone from Mississippi for almost one year now, Rusty and I have decided that there are quite a few things we miss about living in the South! These are some of the things that sort of grew on us in the three years we lived in the South (a year in Memphis and two years in North Mississippi):

1) Mississippi sweet potatoes (Did you know that the sweet potato capital of the world is in Mississippi? I didn't either, until I moved there! And boy, are they ever good!)

2) KIX 106 (Yes, in three years, I developed a taste for country music -- and this country radio station rocks -- especially the morning show. I miss you, Young and Elder!)

3) Barbeque (Before I lived in Memphis, I thought barbeque was overrated. But I acquired a taste for it in the three years we lived there. Corky's, anyone?)

4) Hunting (Actually, Rusty misses hunting. I don't hunt, but I sure miss the venison -- that's "deer meat" in Redneck -- he used to bring home. We used to take it to a processing plant and get great steaks, ground meat, and bulk sausage. So delicious, and healthy too!)

5) Mission Interest Nights (The Huffards hosted these in their home once a month. It was a great time of fellowship with others who shared our interest in -- you guessed it -- missions! And Ilene sure cooked up some great grub!)

6) Sweet tea (There is nothing that says "Southern hospitality" like a large glass of super-sweet iced tea. And nothing tastes better on those muggy summer days, either!)

7) Fried catfish, okra, and hushpuppies (There was a great restaurant in Lars Hill that we went to once with our friend Mary Cocke and her daughter Earline. I still find myself craving that delicious food to this day!)

8) Thyatira church family (We really hope to make it back someday to see all of you and introduce you to Alex!)

9) Thyatira church potlucks -- especially desserts! (Those southern women sure know how to cook!)

10) Monthly "enkais" with Jason and Nicole Whaley (friends from our AET days in Mito, soon to be on their way to Australia to do mission work).

11) Birthday bashes with the Marcums (My sister, Julie, and I share a birthday and our husbands' birthdays are only two days apart, so we celebrated together for three years -- Bahama Breeze, Steak 'n Ale, Texas de Brazil, The Melting Pot, Joe's Crab Shack, Memphis River Queen. Great times with special people!)

12) HUGSR community (especially events like Fall Fest and the Christmas Party)

13) The $2.50 movie theater in Bartlett (At almost $18 a pop here, let's just say that Rusty and I don't go to the movies very often!)

14) My job at the Highland Street church (The greatest job ever, except of course for the job of mommy! I especially miss the rest of the staff and our monthly birthday potlucks. And the great talks Brooke and I used to have in our shared office.)

15) The Bucksnort (I kid you not -- this was the name of a gas station/convenience store in Independence, MS. The cheapest place around to get gas. They also sold great burgers and philly cheese-steak sandwiches.)

We will probably not live anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line again, and if we ever decide to give up our nomadic lifestyle, we will most likely settle in Oregon. But we will always remember with fondness the "Southern" chapter of our lives.

Friday, May 19, 2006

A Visit From the Sakas

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Last Saturday, we enjoyed a visit from our Japanese family, the Sakas. Now that we live in Hitachi, we don't see them nearly as often as we would like. But when we lived in Mito 4 years ago, we used to have dinner together on a regular basis. Our apartment in Mito was just down the street from their house.

Anyway, last Saturday, the Sakas drove up to Hitachi to have dinner with us. It was just like old times. I made tacos (they love Mexican food), and we had brownie sundaes for dessert. Alex enjoyed seeing his Oba-chan (grandmother) and his Uncle Hiroki again, and meeting his Oji-chan (grandfather) for the first time. And he loved the beautiful Japanese mobile that Oba-chan brought him from Tokyo!

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Here, Oto-san is comparing Alex with a baby picture of Rusty, taken when Rusty was about the same age Alex is now. Yes, the baby in the photo is Rusty. (And the adorable little girl is his sister -- you're welcome, Ronda!) People are always trying to decide if Alex resembles me or Rusty more. This picture should settle that debate once and for all. At least as a baby, Alex is almost a mirror image of his papa!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mothers' Day

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Happy Mothers' Day to all you mothers out there, but most especially to those in our own families -- Mary, Diane, Ronda, Julie, Nadine, and Ruth. I am proud to join your ranks this year! We had a lovely day -- went to church at Mito and saw old friends there, stayed for the potluck, then had an Easter party for World English Center in the afternoon, then went out to the mall for dinner and to do a little shopping. Alex gave me a very sweet book about mothers, and Rusty helped him write a sweet message inside to me. Rusty also gave me a thoughtful card.

Someone sent me this forward about mothers, and I thought it was too good not to pass on. But I had to figure out another way of sharing it, because I generally hate forwards and sometimes delete them without even opening them. Enter the blog. And, so, without further ado, I give you:


Somebody said it takes about 6 weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby . . . Somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother, "normal" is history.

Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct . . Somebody never took a 3-year-old shopping.

Somebody said being a mother is boring . . . Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.

Somebody said good mothers never raise their voices . . . Somebody never came out the back door just in time to see her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor's kitchen window.

Somebody said you don't need an education to be a mother . . . Somebody never helped a 4th grader with his math.

Somebody said you can't love the 5th child as much as you love the first
. . . Somebody doesn't have 5 children.

Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her child-rearing
questions in the books . . Somebody never had a child stuff beans up his
nose or in his ears.

Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery. . . Somebody never watched her "baby" get on the bus for the 1st day of kindergarten. Or on a plane headed for military boot camp.

Somebody said a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back . . . Somebody never organized 7 giggling Brownies to sell cookies.

Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married. . . Somebody doesn't know that marriage adds a new son- or daughter-in-law to a mother's heartstrings.

Somebody said a mother's job is done when her last child leaves home. . . Somebody never had grandchildren.

Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don't need to tell
her . . . Somebody isn't a mother.

Do I hear an "Amen?"

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Bon Voyage!

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Last Thursday, we said goodbye to two very special people. Roxanna Johnson, and Baby Sophia left Japan to begin a new life back in America. Roxanna and I got to experience all the joys (and discomforts) of pregnancy together. In fact, we were even in labor for awhile together -- although I went into labor almost 24 hours before Roxanna and didn't give birth to Alex until the day after Sophia was born! But I don't begrudge Roxanna her short (6 hour) labor since she had to wait over two weeks past her due date for Sophia to make her appeance!

Alex will miss celebrating all the milestones of babyhood with his little girlfriend, Baby Sophie. He hopes she'll come back to visit again someday when they are both big enough to actually play together!

May God's blessings be on you, Roxanna and Sophie! We will never forget you and you will always have a special place in our hearts.

The Campbells

A Word From Rusty

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
I don't know what Laura meant when she wrote, "Rusty likes the Jeep" (previous post). I only had Alex's best interests in mind when I suggested we get the Jeep Liberty Limited Urban Terrain stroller. How else is he going to be able to keep up with me out on the disc golf course? He'll grow to appreciate the cup holders and sound system as he learns how necessary they are on those long road trips through the mall with mommy. Besides, the chicks dig it. None of these silly little pastel-colored umbrella strollers with plastic wheels the size of bottle caps for my boy. We're talking 3WD, 13" rims, convertible rag top, saddle bags, forest green with gold pinstrips, plug in surround sound, latte holder, and the ultimate one-handed fold. Now that's a MAN'S stroller. Gidder done! YEAH! That's my boy! (Lucky for me, they also sell them in pink if the next one's a girl.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Golden Week Activities

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
The first week in May, four Japanese national holidays occur almost consecutively and give us what is known as Golden Week. Rusty had the week off work, so we decided to get out and enjoy the gorgeous spring weather.

On Monday, we went to Hitachi Seaside Park. Rusty played a few rounds of disc golf while Alex and I sat on a blanket and chatted with friends. Then we strapped him into his stroller and enjoyed meandering around the tulip fields. They were in full bloom and beautiful (see above picture). By the way, Rusty loves the Jeep stroller, and everyone who sees it comments on how cool it is.

On Tuesday, we enjoyed a relaxing morning at home and went to the bath with friends in the afternoon. It was my first time since last fall to go to the public bath, and I sure enjoyed it. Alex is still to young to be taken into the bath, but I'm looking forward to introducing him to the joys of "onsen-ing" when he gets a little older.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent doing some projects around the house. On Friday, we packed a picnic lunch and drove north to Takahagi. We found a lovely park where we ate our lunch and then played on the grass with Alex. Saturday was another lazy day at home.

All in all, a very enjoyable Golden Week.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Two Months Old

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
I can't believe Alex is two months old already! Where has the time gone? We didn't have a well-baby check-up this month, so I don't know exactly how much he weighs now, but my arms are sure telling me he's getting heavier! I'm guessing he weighs close to 12 pounds, and he is starting to outgrow some of his newborn-size clothes. Month two also brought the first real smiles from Alex. I have to say that there is no greater joy this side of heaven than seeing your baby break into a huge grin just at the sight of you.

In his second month, Alex has also organized his sleep patterns to include a long morning nap (very nice!), a shorter afternoon nap, and four to five hour stretches of sleep at night. So, we are all getting more sleep around here and I only have to get up once in the night for a feeding! Pretty good for a two month old! He loves rocking in his baby swing, riding in his stroller, laying on his playmat, looking at his mobile, and being sung to and talked to.

On his two-month birthday (Friday, April 28th), my friend Kari did a photo shoot with Alex and got some amazing shots. The above picture is one that she took. For grandparents and other interested parties, you can view the entire gallery by clicking here. You can also order prints directly from her website if you desire.


Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Ah, the beautiful sakura. Gorgeous spring days like this one almost make up for the long, cold winters with no central heating. In fact, it's on days like this one that I really love living in Japan. I just have to walk out my front door or look out my living room window to see this beautiful cherry tree in the park across the street from our house. Even hanging the laundry out ceases to be drudgery when I have something this amazing to look at! (More pictures of the sakura on our Flickr homepage -- just click on the photo and you'll be redirected!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Happy Easter, 2006

Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
We decorated Easter eggs on Friday, April 14th with Roxanna and baby Sophia, Judith, Kudo-san, and Rie and baby Hikaru. A lovely time was had by all. On Easter Sunday, we went to church in the morning, had lunch at the 50's Diner, and then attended an Easter party at church in the afternoon. Alex was too young to participate in the Egg Hunt this year, but he cheered on the other kids from his car seat. Hope your Easter was eggs-tra special, too!

easter2, originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Originally uploaded by rustyandlaura.
Rusty claims that men can only focus on one thing at a time -- so I took this picture to prove otherwise. Here is Rusty holding Alex and playing a drum video game at the same time, while Kiara does her best to be distracting in the background. Whoever said that men can't multi-task?