Friday, May 16, 2014

Six months!

Dads... what are you gonna do?
Well I can't believe that Kaden is already 6 months old! I know this is a little late. I keep starting milestone posts and then just don't finish. So this is me, starting again and following through. Kaden is such a happy baby. He is always smiling and laughing. Kaden now has two teeth, right there on the bottom. At his six month check up he weighed in at 15.2 lbs and 26.3 inches long. We have tried a few solids with him already, namely oatmeal cereal and peas. Both have been epic fails... The oatmeal makes Kaden throw up for about 12 hours after eating it and he wants nothing to do with peas. We are going to continue and try other things. Kaden is not crawling yet, but when I put him on the floor he rolls all around. He's a sneaky one. He can now also sit up on his own, though he likes to be on soft surfaces rather than the floor. Kaden loves having you blow raspberries at him as he tries to mimic you. He also loves music and dancing. He will stop everything to watch The Big Bang Theory theme song. He also loves holding Mom's water bottle and chewing on the mouth piece.
He loves his Thrift Store ladies. 
We love this little man of ours. He makes us laugh everyday and it's a joy seeing him learn and grow. Our favorite right now is laying in our room listening to Kaden play and talk to himself as he's laying in bed before he falls asleep.

In other news, Garrett is going on his first deployment! He has training in Mississippi June 9-19 and will be taking leave in route to his deployment. We will be in Utah from the 20th for about ten days, and then Garrett will leave for six months for his deployment to Qatar. I will be flying to Texas for a few weeks and then returning to Utah for our family reunion. And returning home to Okinawa July 23rd. We are excited for this deployment. Garrett is glad to have this opportunity and we have decided now is a good time to take it. I have settled into motherhood, Kaden is old enough to be able to at least acknowledge us as his parents so when we Skype with Garrett he should be able to recognize him, and we have a wonderful network of friends and church members. It will be hard and a long six months, but I know we will get through it stronger and closer.
I can't wait to see many of you when we visit! Sure love ya!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One Whole Year!

As of October 7th, Garrett and I have been in Okinawa for an entire year! Wow has the time flown by, but it's been great! I absolutely love the life we have here, even without the perks of America. The anniversary was rung in with two typhoons in one weekend, the first ones we've had since living here. We believe we haven't had any others earlier in the summer because of the construction work for our new chapel building that was started in January. The first typhoon rolled in Friday, when we were already planning on having a 'Fort Friday' in our living room with our friends Alex and Kandice and watching Boy Meets World all night long. So, the typhoon just made it even more fun because they didn't have to leave anyway! We cleared out the furniture in our living room and took it into our kitchen and set up our tent inside. We blew up our air mattress, and the Johnston's had their sleeping mat. We had lots of junk food, their dog Penny, and our camping lantern and stove just in case we lost power. We weren't too concerned about a typhoon. We live in a cement house and it wasn't coming straight over us anyway. TCORR-1 (category where we can no longer leave our homes) was set about 8 pm Friday night and we hunkered in for a long night. You couldn't hear the storm, and there was just wind and rain outside. We took the dogs out as the wind
permitted, only for short chances to pee with leashes on securely. Koji didn't have a problem going outside and he seemed to quite enjoy the wind and rain, no surprise there. He's such a strange dog. Penny had a little more trouble, but she's a cute little weiner dog who would have easily blown away. Koji I think felt claustrophobic in the tent and had to be coaxed inside, often only staying for a few minutes before retreating back out to the carpet. We all stayed up far too late, woke up ridiculously early because we had forgotten to turn off alarms, and then slept more after being up for a little while. We all pretty much stayed in pajamas all day. When we took a break from Boy Meets World, the boys would play video games and Kandice helped me to cut out the fabric for the crib bumpers I had decided to make. TCORR-1 remained in effect all day Saturday, so Kandice and Alex stayed a second night. A little bit on how we became friends with them. We were introduced to them through our mutual friends Britta and Nathan, who happen to live up the street from Garrett and I and are also in our branch. We started doing FHE with them every Monday and Britta is also my visiting teaching companion. Alex and Garrett are seemingly twins separated at birth, except that Alex is black and about 5 years older than Garrett. They both are way into superheroes and often go into discussions that Kandice and I just roll our eyes at. They are also both super dorky and have fun and weird tendencies. Kandice is super fun to be around and is incredibly willing to help and offers whenever or wherever she is able.
We have now hosted many a game nights at our house with them and the Sinexes. We unfortunately didn't invite Britta in time for our typhoon party before TCORR hit and she didn't have time to get her kitty, and the things she would need for the weekend before it was too bad to make it to our house. I felt awful for leaving her alone during the storm while her hubby was deployed. Anyway, Saturday night came and Koji was exceptionally anxious and sick of being stuck inside and unable to romp around on his normal walks. I decided that since the storm had passed at this point and we were just waiting for the official change to Storm Watch, it wouldn't be an issue to let him out back to run back and forth a little like I often do in normal circumstances. Boy was that a bad idea!! He was definitely more than excited to be free outside off of a leash, he ran back and forth across our whole back yard at full speed half a dozen times, each time he left my sight I would simply call him and he'd come racing back the opposite direction. However, then he disappeared around the corner of our house and didn't come back when I called him. I walked around the corner to see if he just got distracted smelling something, but no, he was gone. Garrett came outside and I told him what had happened. He told me not to worry and he started walking around the house calling to Koji. I walked the opposite direction and still no Koji. Mind, this is 1130-12 at night and we were still technically not supposed to be leaving our house... But Koji had just poofed! Alex and Garrett then started walking around the block on our normal long walk route with Koji. Kandice and I stayed a little closer to our home, I was heading in the direction he had typically run back when he ran off SEVEN months before. No luck. I posted on a wives group page with a picture of Koji and asking help from anyone in our neighborhood who may be able to look outside and see if they could see a loose dog running about. About thirty or so minutes after Koji had first disappeared, TCORR was lifted and Kandice and I jumped into our cars to begin searching that way. Alex stayed inside in case Koji came back to the house, and Garrett continued looking around outside and calling. About ten minutes after leaving, Garrett calls me and tells me they have Koji.
When I made it back to the house, Kandice told how she found him around the corner and up the hill from our house just hanging around and smelling the 'roses'. She tried calling to him, but he still doesn't know her incredibly well, so she said he got a wide eyed, freaked expression (STRANGER DANGER!!) and bolted back towards our house. She kept with him and every time he would slow down and she would call to him, he'd burst again. She said we would be proud to note he stayed on the side walk the whole way home and when he went around the corner to the back of our house, she raced in the front to tell Garrett and Alex he went around back and to grab him! They told her that they already had him because he'd gone straight up to the back door. Garrett and I were so incredibly relieved to have Koji back. There was a second typhoon behind the first and I hadn't been sure at the time how soon it was supposed to be hitting. I did NOT want Koji out during a typhoon that was supposed to be worse than the first. We certainly made sure he knew he was in trouble for what he'd done, but also that he knew he was loved and home. However, he was 'grounded' for the two and a half weeks following where we did not allow him to walk off the leash at all.
The second typhoon hit Monday afternoon. We were lucky enough to make it to my 37 week appointment that morning and Garrett went to work for a few hours after, and came home around 1 o'clock. I spent this typhoon working on the crib bumpers and Garrett played video games the whole time. I had originally just been going to order a plain bumper online since I didn't think I had the time or resources to make one from scratch, having a very limited fabric supply and not wanting to deal with batting or padding or anything. But then the 'Store lord' as we call him listened to me at the Thrift store and supplied me with plain pillow-like crib bumpers made to just have a pillowcase type sham put over them. So I decided that if I could find fabric on island and didn't have to order any online, I would make the pillowcases myself for them. I was in luck!
The fabric store I went to off base had the PERFECT fabric to match the blanket that was given to us by my aunt that I love and had based most of the nursery around. I hadn't gotten extra fabric in the States for the gray and white opposite that I am using for another project in the nursery, but I was able to go to another small fabric store in a 'mall' that worked well enough for me to be happy. So I sat down and got to work during the typhoon. With four total cases, each one got better as I went along because I was able to realize how to adjust how I was laying them out to make it neater and more secure where the ribbons were attached to tie them to the crib. I am rather proud of myself with my less than mediocre skills. I have had very little experience before buying my own sewing machine once we moved here and using it for the hot pads and my straightner holder.  With the completion of the bumper I have now got most of the nursery complete and am just waiting on a letter that my mom is bringing to be able to put up the wall decor that I'm putting together. Here are a few almost complete pictures!

Bookshelf I found on the side of the road that I will redo when I'm no longer pregnant!

The week before the typhoons hit, Garrett and I also purchased a second car! I don't have pictures of it right now and since it's dark now, I can't exactly go get good pictures.  But it's a 2001 Subaru Legacy B4. It has a turbo engine that shuts off a few minutes after you pull the keys out of the ignition(freaked me out the first time!). It's a sporty four-door sedan. Garrett loves it and is excited to have his own car and no longer have to rely on me being there to pick up or take him places when I've got work. We are very blessed to be able to afford this and still have money to spare. We are so grateful for the blessings of tithing and know that it is supremely important. Some may scoff and argue that we would have more money if we didn't pay tithing, which in a sense IS true, but we are able to help the Church and others who truly need it while still prospering ourselves. I am so glad to have set that as a priority in our lives and to be reaping the benefits of the sacrifice.

I hit 39 weeks tomorrow and my mom comes in to spend the next 5-6 weeks with us to help whenever this little one of ours decides he's ready to come into our lives. We are so excited. We rearranged our room this weekend to fit the pack 'n play in it for the first little while after he's born until we move him to his crib. Took some maternity pictures yesterday with a friend from the branch which I will display as soon as she gets them to me. I will keep you updated on when this little guy decides to come into the world!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


So, way back in May a woman in our branch asked Garrett and I if we would be willing and able to watch their four kiddos the first week of September while they went on a trip to Bali. Garrett and I immediately said yes, sure! I informed her right away that I'd be 8 months pregnant and asked if it would be possible to bring Koji along because we would have just gotten back from leaving him for a month. She said that would be fine, and that the kids would love to have him around. Fast forward to about the second week of August. We found out that Garrett would be leaving near the end of August for a month in the Philippines. Okay, no big deal. The kids are ages 12, 11, 8, and 6. All going to school and able to do their own chores and whatnot. However I became a little apprehensive about watching four kids on my own. Sure, I have watched 5 or 6 kids over night in the past, but I had grown up babysitting them regularly. These kids were relative strangers to me. I had no idea how they behaved or how things would go. I set up back up help with my friend Britta for the evenings after she got off work if I needed her. The first Sunday of September rolls around and I pack up Koji's kennel, food, and my bag and head over after church. I needn't have been worried in the least. The kids didn't know that I was bringing a dog, because she had forgot to tell them. They immediately began petting him, calling him all over, and brushing him constantly!

Monday was a holiday so we headed over to the theater to watch Despicable Me 2. I must say that although I didn't think the first one was particularly amazing, I did enjoy the second one. To me, it was definitely better. That night we walked to a nearby park and enjoyed playing soccer in the rain. I haven't kicked a soccer ball around since last year when we were on the 18 CES team for intermurals. Let me just say, it had been far too long. I loved kicking the ball around with the boys. The two oldest were boys, and they were so great at doing the chores that needed done and helping me as I needed it. Every day I came home from work just a little after they got home from school and they had already walked Koji. Let me tell you, that was nice! I could definitely get used to it. I love walking Koji, and it's kept me more active during pregnancy than I would be otherwise. But having to walk him EVERY time while Garrett's been gone has been rough. That's pretty much 4 times a day because the silly dog won't go to the bathroom when I put him on the chain out back. In fact, most of the time unless Koji was being particularly deaf to listening, I just went along for the fresh air with the kids. They loved holding him and running with him. Early in the week we made a trip back to my house to pick up some board games, because they aren't allowed XBox time on school days and only had Clue at their house. When I told them I had all sorts of games, they were hooked. The boys instantly grabbed Star Wars Risk and Monoply as well as Uno for the younger girls to join in on. We spent most nights playing Uno or Monopoly, which was lots of fun. 

The first time we played Monopoly I skunked the boys because they didn't fully understand the concept of collecting as much property as you could and were only buying a certain color if they landed on it. But after learning the strategy they became worthy competitors. One day they pulled out Risk, but I declined playing with them. That is Garrett's area, not mine. They weren't sure exactly how to play, even with reading the rules and I was sorry to tell them that I would be of no use. We'll have to have them over or vice versa when Garrett gets home to play with them. Garrett will appreciate having someone play Risk with him, since I won't. 
Every day after school they'd all get home, eat a snack, clean up a few things for chores, and then play until it was time for dinner. They played outside with the kids around a little bit, but most of the time they told the kids asking to play that they couldn't or didn't want to and we all just hung out and played games inside. I barely even got asked if they could play outside because they didn't want to. Which made me feel good, I must say. After dinner they all had specific chores of cleaning up dinner and the kitchen, cleaning the living room, bathroom, and their bedrooms. Sometime in the week I was asked to change the top bunk because one of the girls had had an accident in the night. The bunk beds are not the easiest things to change in the first place, but I had to get up there and change it at 32 weeks pregnant. That was a little challenging. But I made it happen! I must say, I'm a little proud of myself for that. Then I had to do it a second time later that week as well. That time it had just gotten old. 
Tuesday or Wednesday night one of the boys had asked if we could go to the library because he'd been reading a book at school and wanted to see if the library had it so he could check it out and read it. They'd seen me reading The Power of Six which is the second book to I am Number Four. On the drive to the library they started asking me what my book was about so I told them the plot from the first one and so on. All four kids got hooked into it and I told them that we would look for the movie so that they could see it because it did a pretty decent job depicting the book. We got the book for the two older boys to read, and then the movie so that the girls could be included since the book is ahead of their reading level still. The weekend came and Friday night we popped the movie in and watched it while we all slept in the living room because the oldest girl had been begging to sleep with Koji all week, but I knew he wouldn't want to sleep in her room away from me. I said we'd sleep in the living room together because Koji would be content still being near me. 

So she spread out her blankets, called Koji over, and he immediately took over and even tried to steal her pillow, just as is his way. I think he slept the whole night on her little pallet. 
The parents were supposed to get home Sunday evening, but Voxed me about an hour before their expected arrival to tell me that they had had a flight delay and missed their connecting flight in Shanghai and the next flight wasn't until the following day. So they would be home Monday evening instead. No big deal, but the kids were pretty bummed. They had been excited to have their parents home, and I was looking forward to going home and being by myself for a while. 
The week was great, the kids were fantastic, and it wasn't really too difficult, but going from being 32 weeks pregnant with no one to care for but my dog to having four kids to take care of was a little rough. 

I'm growing bigger! The following week I had a doctor's appointment. They told me that my tests from the previous appointment all came back great. I'm not anemic or anything. They said that my belly measured just a little bit small for how far along I am, 32 when I should be at 33, but it was nothing to worry about. I made my two following appointments that very well could be my last pre-delivery appointments seeing as they are Oct. 7 and Oct. 28! I've signed up for a few classes, that hopefully will happen so that I can have a better idea of what to expect from delivery. I'm generally feeling good about childbirth, knowing that I was made for this, but the fears are starting to creep in. 
We have the necessities for our sweet baby boy, Garrett just has to put the crib and stroller together when he gets home. My 'brother' Daniel bought us a recliner for the baby's room, which is amazing! He has definitely spoiled me. It's got built in vibrating massager in the seat and lower back, as well as can be heated. Not that I'll need the heated seat while we're here in Okinawa, but maybe at the next base! I've already spent a few evenings sitting in the chair, feet up, heating pad on my back, with the massager on. It's very nice! 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

End of June

Well, last weekend, June 28th, started by Garrett and I enjoying an early day off and going to the pool. We like going about once a week together for just a little while to cool off and get a bit of sun without being out long enough to get burnt. So Friday we headed to the pool and Garrett dove into the deep end, came back up and began treading water before he came to the realization that his cell phone was in his trunks pocket... Yep, that's my husband. (: He got out quickly, started drying off his phone, and realized he's extremely lucky that he purchased a water resistant phone and had it in an Otter Box. It still worked perfectly fine, and more than a week later, still haven't had any problems with it! Yay for blessings! We started joking about how he could have used this phone while he was working at AquaChlor and lost all those phones to falling into pools.

Saturday we headed out to Okinawa World with Shalynna and Daniel. After having to turn around a couple times due to missing the exit the first time, and having to subsequently pay twice as much for the toll as we should have, I finally got us to the park and began to get out of my foul mood caused by getting 'lost'. For those of you who don't know, I have always had a pretty good sense of direction and rarely get lost. But I get into a very poor mood when I miss where I should have gone or do indeed get lost. It's something that drives me crazy. But after a few exchanged words about navigation and making it to the park Garrett managed to help me get out of my aggravation and enjoy our time. Okinawa World is a park that has a great cavern to walk through, a Habu Snake Museum, and a bunch of traditional Okinawan craft experiences to see and learn about. After going through the cave we got to wind our way back to the Habu Museum for the 'show' where they had a girl telling us all these facts about Habu and demonstrating how dangerous they are. However, it was all in Japanese so we just kind of inferred most of it during the show and learned some after as we walked through the museum. They are a severely venomous snake local to here that are more dangerous than Cobras. They have four hollow fangs that inject venom when bit. They are lightning fast. She demonstrated by putting a blown up balloon into the cage and aggravating a snake. It looked like it wasn't going to do anything and then all of a sudden the balloon was popped and you'd barely seen the snake lash out. It was crazy! She then brought out a Cobra and was showing how the Cobra is only dangerous in it's front, because it can't see because of the 'collar'. She kept getting it to come up and then reaching over behind it and slapping it's head down. I was getting so nervous that it would lash out at her! After the snake museum we walked around the 'village' seeing the different crafts. My favorite is the hand blown glass. They sell Ryuku glass all over around the island and it's beautiful! brightly colored with all sorts of patterns. We saw just a bit of an Eisa Dance performance which if you saw the video I posted on Facebook of the drummers on the beach, that's what Eisa dancers are. It's pretty cool to watch and at night walking Koji we can hear some of them practicing.

Sunday Shalynna went to church with us and Garrett and I also received callings. We were called to work in the Nursery with the 18 month old - three year olds. We've been going in there often to help out or sub, so it wasn't much of a shock. We have a few of them that we just love playing with.

Monday was an interesting day. My work was closed all week because of July 4th, but I still went in for a few hours to do some cleaning and try to get a few more hours in before I leave for a month. After spending a few hours there, I left to run a few errands around town. I wanted to get some paint for the baby's dresser, and since I was already out that way, I decided to go to a larger 100 yen store than I usually go to. Turns out, I don't think I'll be going there again... After I tell you the next few things, you may understand why I feel like I should steer clear of this particular store. Monday, while I'm shopping around the store, Garrett calls me up (it's around 2 pm) and asks me where I am. I tell him, and he's like, 'Well, I may need you to come pick me up. But not where you might think I need picked up...' He doesn't give me much more details than that just tells me bye, and hangs up. He wouldn't answer my questions of 'why' and 'what's wrong'. I noted a tone of pain in his voice though, so I automatically am assuming he's like broken his ankle or some such thing. When I call him back a few minutes later to ask if I need to head back to base, he tells me that I probably should. So I take my purchases up to the front. As I'm getting to my car, he calls me back again to tell me that he's going to be at Foster. Now Foster is the Marine base that houses the hospital. I immediately ask him if he's going to the ER and he finally tells me yes, and that he tweaked his back a good one. By the time I get to the ER he's already being seen and his supervisor is just in the waiting room. When Garrett finally comes out he tells us that he's been given medicine and been put on light duty for two weeks with an actual appointment at the Kadena clinic the following day. Quite an afternoon I must say.
 Now I'm going to back track two or so weeks and tell you the other reason that I'm not going to this 100 yen store again. One day I took my sister out exploring some local shopping. I wanted to take her to this larger store because really, you can get some great things for so cheap! We indeed made some great finds that day, hair accessories, cool drinking glasses for my kitchen, some Japanese snacks/candy, etc. Well, as we are leaving I get a call from my dear sweet husband. He sounds super upset and says the all dooming phrase, 'We need to talk later.' My mind instantly begins to freak out and imagine that it has something to do with us going back to the states or being sealed. Some complication that is going to break my heart. I ask him for some clue but he won't give me anything. I tell him that he's freaking me out, and he calms me down by telling me that I don't need to worry. He must've known exactly where my thoughts had gone. So of course, after we get off the phone, my thoughts immediately jump to 'He's getting deployed'. In my mind it was the only logical thing that he would be hesitant in telling me and would be cause for such a serious 'We need to talk' phone call. So Shalynna and I start our way back to base and he calls back saying he's ready to be picked up. When he gets in the car the first thing he hands me is a Hershey's chocolate bar... Never a good sign. He tells me not so ceremoniously to eat it before he can tell me anything more. I don't, it's kind of melty and that is not my favorite way to eat chocolate, let alone if there is bad news involved. But alas, he finally told me and Garrett is called to deployed to Qatar in January. You will be mighty proud, I didn't cry or get upset at the news, which is a pretty big deal especially when pregnant. We are very optimistic about it and know that we will be fine. We call it 'Diaper Money'. The location is considered a Combat Zone for pay, but it gets no combat. This is actually a pretty great deployment and is almost more of just a training base. He is supposed to leave at the end of January, but his highest ranking officers are still debating about him being on the task list. With having a newborn they are afraid that I will get severe postpartum depression and do something drastic while he's gone. Garrett is a little upset about this because he really wants the opportunity to go and doesn't want people thinking he's making excuses to get out of it. He has informed them that we have a great support system through the church that will be here to help me while he's away with whatever I need. And on top of that I have some good neighbors that would watch out for me also. I honestly view Garrett as the unlucky one and the one who will have more to cope with than I will. He will be the one leaving us, his wife and newborn, going to a new place with hardly anybody he knows, and having to adjust. I get to stay in my own house, in a place that is familiar, with people I know always around. We will keep you updated if this order changes and they decide to rescind the task. 
Now you may understand why I'm a little hesitant to return to that 100 yen store next. What will my husband call to inform me about next time? 
After we left the ER Monday, we went to get something to eat and Garrett was able to finally get in contact with his cousin Austin, who we've known was stationed here since December but had as yet been unable to get in regular contact and plan a time to get together. Luckily we found out it was his last week on island and he is getting out of the Marines and returning home. So we were able to arrange to go to dinner with him at a sushi bar and I got to meet him as well as a few of his buddies. It was a good time, and great to see family, even if Garrett hasn't been in close contact with him for a few years. I will just say, I could immediately see a Bowen resemblance on Austin as soon as I saw him. Maybe it was just his mustache, but he looked a LOT like Dad Bowen. (: 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Baby Bowen revealed!

Week 20!
Well it's official!! Baby Bowen is a BOY!! We are excited beyond measure to have a boy first. Originally I wanted a girl first, but as time as gone on, I've grown to want a boy first. Something about having a big brother to look out for all the younger ones. I can't seem to get the video to post, so at the bottom of the post is a link that should let you watch it even if you don't have Facebook.

Baby profile with hand by face

No mistaking it!

Anxiety and Joy

Week 19

So I am 20 weeks today and half way there! For about the last two weeks, but most especially the last week, I've begun to feel very anxious and, some obscure emotion that I couldn't pinpoint until last night, depressed about feeling the baby move. I have more than a few friends who are pregnant either a little ahead of me or about the same who had started feeling their baby move by this point and I was feeling a little anxious and jealous. I know that everyone's different and it didn't necessarily mean that anything was wrong with baby, I just wanted to feel it and have that affirmation of a growing baby inside of me. I've especially felt depressed this past week and have frequently just tried sitting in the evenings concentrating inward on anything that might be happening inside of me. The anxiety was causing me to be resigned and irritable these last few days. Garrett was great, reminding me often that I am merely a hospitable host and I've been busy enough to keep the baby content and happy. Though those assurances have done wonders to keep my head up, it was getting hard. Then last night while we were laying in bed getting ready to turn out the light, I felt a little kick just at the base of my belly. It was a feeling that surely could not be mistaken for anything but. A few seconds later, another one rolled in just in the same place. Excitedly I turned to Garrett and told him that I had just felt the baby kick! I immediately started crying tears of joy and relief. I couldn't get over the feeling. After Garrett had made sure they were good tears and I was okay, we settled down and I enjoyed a few more minutes of baby kicking periodically. I am so glad to have felt our precious baby move inside me and to know that they're big and strong enough. Just on the eve of the half way mark and our gender ultrasound!

On Saturday Garrett and I realized that he had Silver Flag training this week, which is basically is quick-build training for deployments and Red Horse Squadron, and wouldn't be able to make it to the appointment. Usually this training is a week long overnight ordeal that takes place on part of Kadena. But they are in the process of moving it to Guam, so it is no longer overnight and Garrett gets to come home each night. Which is great for us this week especially so we don't have to wait until the weekend to find out the gender. That being said, when I went to my ultrasound this morning, I had the technician turn the screen away when it came time to find out the gender. She was great and even handed me all the previously printed pictures so that they could be separate. I had a bag ready to put the reveal in and we will find out this evening when Garrett gets home! It was great to see all the little parts of Baby. Through the whole thing Baby kept moving and staying curled up, sometimes making it hard to get pictures of everything. I got to see brain, heart, kidneys, diaphragm, arms, legs, and belly. I was a little afraid that I wouldn't be able to look at the screen at all through the appointment today, but was glad to discover I could and wouldn't just have to look at the pictures. Seeing Baby move all over was amazing! I can't wait to meet this little one when they come into the world! We will post a video of us opening the gender tonight for everyone to enjoy.

Another story or two I'd like to share have truly added to the love I have for the Gospel and helped me realize even more so in the last two weeks how absolutely amazing Heavenly Father and the Church is. First, I'll take you back to Mississippi where shortly before we moved Garrett met another trainee who had happened to read the Book of Mormon before Basic, but regretted not taking advantage of the Church/missionaries available at Basic. He shared a beautiful, strong testimony of knowing that the Book of Mormon was true and that The Church was true and he knew and believed there was a living prophet on the Earth. He knew it was the prophet of our Church, but just hadn't known his name. He shared this testimony with us when we were giving him a ride to another base for a few errands and I couldn't help but be floored by his simple but sure testimony. It touched my heart. Garrett and I immediately opened up our home to him for missionary discussions and were able to have a few lessons Unfortunately with school and duties, he was never able to come to church with us, and we weren't sure if he was able to keep up with the discussions after we left. A little while back, he messaged me on Facebook checking in and seeing how we were doing. He is stationed in Germany. After a short internal debate, I decided to breach the subject and ask if he had continued discussions or not. He told me that unfortunately he had not and now wasn't sure how to get in touch with the Church or if it was available where he was at. I hurriedly assured him that it was there, and I would find the information/get his information to the proper places. Using the amazing church networking system that we having I quickly had more than a few people to give his information to, including a Branch President or Bishop for the area. He messaged me shortly afterwards saying he was meeting with the missionaries and thanking me for getting them in contact with him. At the beginning of this month he messaged me again telling me that he had set a baptismal date for the following Saturday(this past Saturday). It was such a great feeling to know that even though he's in Germany and we're in Japan, we could still help with missionary work and bring just one more person to the Gospel, even though we really didn't do much at all.
The second I shared on Facebook as well, but it was just a quick story of the benefit of following the promptings of the Spirit. On Friday I was grabbing a change of clothes for Garrett to change into after work so we could immediately go and run some errands at the BX. I originally grabbed a jersey from our intramural soccer team, but changed my mind and took Garrett's BYU-I t-shirt instead. Garrett doesn't usually wear this shirt unless he's working out, and I know this, but I took it anyway. After walking around the BX for a while we were on our way downstairs when an older guy in uniform stopped us and asked if we were Members. We said yes and he immediately asked where the church was around here. It turned out he was here on TDY for a few months. He was having a hard time getting a church because when you use the church search engine with a military base it kind of gets all weird, same as searching Google Maps. We were able to set up a meeting place so he could follow us to church on Sunday. As we were walking away I remembered that I had originally picked a different shirt for Garrett and I felt extremely touched to know that by listening to the Spirit I was able to help a man to be able to enjoy the blessings of Sacrament, even while on a  temporary assignment.

Well, I will sign off now, but check back soon for our gender reveal!!

And here are some pictures from celebrating our anniversary at a private beach cottage. I had a blast and got to ride a jet ski for the first time! (Not many pictures because I didn't want to ruin the camera while playing)

Grilling dinner. Honey Teriyaki pork chops. Yum!

Sunset from our porch

Beautiful blue water

Cozy little cabin (okay, cozy may be the wrong word because the AC was FREEZING in there!)

Our little beach

Decidedly Garrett's new car. (: 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Heaven's Weekend

Tonight I had the opportunity to attend the adult session of District Conference. Garrett was unable to go because he has the duty phone and can't stray too far from base, so I car pooled with a good friend of mine, Britta. We made it for dinner, excited not to have to cook tonight. They had great speakers tonight, the Spirit was overwhelming. Some of the reoccurring topics were prayer, missionary work, and families. I had a few series of thoughts throughout this wonderful evening.
One was of the fact that tomorrow I get to celebrate being married to my very best friend one year ago and that this has been the greatest year of my life. I have lived in Texas, Mississippi, and now Japan. Garrett and I have been blessed beyond measure, and we thank our Heavenly Father often for these wonderful wonders. We are not ignorant of the rich blessings that run through our life. I wouldn't say it started with, but that is where I will begin. Garrett and I had the originally planned on getting married in September of last year because we knew that he would be in Basic and Tech school between February and then. We thought about getting married before he left for Basic, but we waited based on preference from my parents and also because we didn't want to get married and be separated almost immediately. But when Garrett entered Tech school at the end of April of last year, we both felt prompted again that we needed to be married before he was out of Tech school. We prayed about our options and decided to get married the weekend I would be visited for his birthday, since it fell on Memorial Day weekend. We knew that it would help us make more money and I would be put on his orders as they were given to him. We knew that if he got called overseas it could take over 20 weeks for me to be able to make the trip to be with him. The Lord certainly blessed us with the inspiration because just two months after we were married Garrett got his orders to Okinawa Japan. How lucky I was to be able to travel with him initially. We have had countless other blessings since we made the decision to be married, and I will continuously thank the Lord for His loving inspiration and blessings.
Thinking of our anniversary leads me onto another thought I had tonight. Because we didn't wait to be married, we were not married and sealed together within the holy walls of a LDS temple. When we married, we knew in our hearts that the Lord was still pleased with our marriage to one another and that He knew we couldn't wait for the day that we could be sealed together for eternity a year after our marriage. We came to a conclusion with Garrett's family to create a kind of reunion a little later than our anniversary so that we could be together for many important occasions this summer. It has come to be called, Heaven's Weekend. This summer 4 of our nieces and nephews are turning 8 and making the decision to be baptized into the Church. If you read our last entry with the story Christina wrote, you will see that these cousins are all very close friends and wish to be baptized at the same time. We are blessed to have family in Utah who are able to give us permission to use their church building for the baptisms, even though none of the children are actually in a ward that uses the building. The next day, Garrett and I get to be sealed together and to each others' family in the Bountiful Temple. My heart swells every time I think of this wonderful experience. I'm so grateful that we have the means to afford to fly back to the States and want to send my thanks to who made it happen. We can never fully repay you. The third day is another joyous day when our sister Melanie, her husband, RJ, and their four kids get to be sealed together as a family for time and all eternity. As it gets closer to the time to come back to the States I just keep getting more and more excited. On the topic of this weekend, there have been a few kinks with Garrett's records and it's become a bit of a problem to get our temple recommends for Heaven's Weekend. I would like to ask for some prayers that Garrett's records can be worked out and that we may get our recommends in time to return to the States.
I cannot begin to express how blessed I am for the family I was born  into, and for the family that I married into. It is the greatest, and I get to be with them forever! How amazing is the Gospel of the Lord?
One point that Elder Ringwood (Area 70) spoke about was the Priesthood. At the beginning he asked for a few 'non-men' to stand up and define the Priesthood. A few comments made were: - It is the power to act on authority given by God - Used to do as He would if He were here - It provides blessings and strength - It is an opportunity and privilege, not a right. Elder Ringwood went on to say that men have the opportunity to use the priesthood but they are NOT  priesthood. He said that sometimes the church will classify that the priesthood goes here and the women go there, for this or that, but he wanted to amend and explain that they don't mean anything by it. He explained that the priesthood is shared equally between man and woman and if your home does not have a male priesthood holder, it did not mean your home was without the priesthood. He also explained that yes, there are ordinances such as Sacrament, baptisms, and temple ordinances that must be overseen by the keys of the priesthood, but within the home it functions without those keys.
There were so many great lessons taught tonight that I can't begin to expound upon them all here, but I just wanted to share my feelings from tonight and also my testimony.
I know that I am in the right place, and that though people say the military chooses where we go, that the Lord has the higher authority and has the military send us wherever, for his purposes. I have a great love for the Gospel and know that my life is only as good as it is because I have the knowledge and truth that allow me to look beyond the little trials I'm faced with. I have a sincere love for the priesthood and the authority my husband carries. He has blessed me with his knowledge of the Gospel when I am unsure and with his amazing ability to make missionary experiences wherever he goes. I have learned from his stories of experiences at work and have been able to apply it to experiences of my own. I am so grateful that we will be sealed before our child is born and that we will be able to raise our children in an eternal family with the Gospel forefront in our lives. Having faced this year without having that eternal seal has certainly given me a greater love for my husband and for the covenant we will make together this summer. The thought of not being sealed to him breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes because Garrett is the only man I can ever imagine being with and I want to face every challenge and triumph with him by my side. Pulling through this year and being sealed together will be such a great triumph over Satan's clutching grasp to control us. I know that the happiness I feel each day will be ten-fold with the covenants we will make and being able to say that we made it when we cross over to the next side. I love my Heavenly Father and thank him always for all he does for me. I hope we are able to bless and share our knowledge many times over, even if it's simply by the way we live and the Spirit that resides around us and in our home.