My friend Michelle in high school (where is she now?) used to listen to U2 all the time and I thought she was nuts (sorry, Michelle!) - that was before I married a U2 nut and learned to appreciate them for their musicianship as well as their thought-provoking lyrics.

Check out their new (worship) song, Magnificent, played on the roof of the BBC building in London just recently. (It wasn't just the dizzying height of their concert that thrilled me.)

I just keep getting God-hits all over the place today: I was in an import shop called Kaldi Coffee Farms at the mall this morning (searching for cornmeal that they no longer sell) while my three boys played in the kid fun zone. While browsing, I heard a kind of Calypso/island-style song in the background and was touched by the lyrics. They went something like this: "God is with you; you're never alone. Don't worry; you're never alone." (Does anybody know what song I'm talking about?)

Goose-bump city.

Here are the Magnificent lyrics:


I was born
I was born to be with you
In this space and time
After that and ever after I haven't had a clue
Only to break rhyme
This foolishness can leave a heart black and blue

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

I was born
I was born to sing for you
I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry, it was a joyful noise…

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love can heal such a scar

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent

Only love, only love can leave such a mark
But only love, only love unites our hearts

Justified till we die, you and I will magnify
The Magnificent

Here's Looking at You, Kid

Sitting at lunch with Matthew today, I noticed again how he has such dark eyes. I told him I liked his nice brown eyes, and asked him what color mine were.

He looked at mine carefully and then answered, "White eyes."

Can't argue with that!


Parenthood has to be one of the select few careers that involves having snot-covered clothes by the end of the day, and you don't even mind.


Here's the Maffilator doing his latest puzzles (all by himself - no help from Mama!)...

And the Beansprout doing what he does best - playing and smiling!

Thumbing a Smile

Assistant Coach

Matthew's 2-3 year trousers are just starting to fit because he's finally starting to eat more than he used to (which now means he's almost eating about 3/4 of the normal amount for a toddler - if there is a normal amount for a toddler).

So I found it pretty amusing this morning when M was cheering J on to eat more breakfast.

"Joel baby food. Looks goooood! Eat more! Eat more! Joel, another bite! Another one! Eat more! Last one!"

Quick Trip

It was bright, sunny, and warm-ish when we set off yesterday, and then when we got to the dam to run around for a bit, the skies turned gray and the wind got up. We didn't stay long and on the drive down the hill, it even snowed a little. And sure enough, as soon as we got back home, it was sunny and warm again.

Brotherly Love

Joel enjoys dropping his water cup on the floor just so he can watch Matthew jog after it, pick it up, and "help" Joel drink from it again! And Matthew enjoys doing anything that helps.

OK, whodunnit?

Since I posted on Tuesday about my lack of sleep (and Joel's), the Beansprout has slept through THREE nights in a row. It's been a long time since I've had that much rest, and I want to thank whoever's been praying. I know you have - don't deny it! (Don't worry 'bout publicly 'fessin' up - I know you're out there anyway!)

And on a more scientific note, I've conducted a clinical study and the facts are in: The more hours of sleep I get all in a row, the crazier my bed-hair is the next morning. It's true. I could post a photo but I don't want to scare ya. (I'm nice that way.)

Feeling Flowery

Scenes from the 'hood...

Yellow Submarine

It wasn't that long ago that Matthew went into car-making and helicopter-assembling, and now the Bean's done it again - this time with a sub!

I was told to take a picture of the new toy by itself, and I aim to please.

But I did manage to sneak a shot of the Maffalator with his treasure. (The periscope spins around!)

And the greatest of these...

My Valentine tulips are living below a calligraphy that a friend made many years ago - it says "Faith, Hope, Love."

I Corinthians 13 in Toddlerese

Please go right now to my friend Kim's blog and read her take on a classic Bible passage (written for her daughter, Jun).


Happy Birthdays

My nephew Ethan had his 3rd birthday last week, and here he is with my brother-in-law Doug and Doug's mom...and his snowman cake...

Elise, my niece, had her 5th birthday last month with a puppy theme...cute!


No matter how many times Joel's been up in the night or how pooped I am, I still have to get the little guys out of the house in the morning, at least for walkies, or they just get too stir-crazy. This part of Japan is lovely in the winter, with quite a few sunny days, so just right for getting out and about. This morning was Matthew's lucky break, as a crane and a digger were at work at the bottom of what we call our "back hill." We stood there about five minutes or so, observing every detail and soaking in all the excitement, and quite a few grandpas with cigarettes stopped on their walks and had a gander as well. Boys never really grow up, do they! I love that.

This mom-and-pop green grocers is the only place open at the time of day that we walk (pretty early - before Joel has his morning nap), and we stop there quite often to pick up some bananas or other tasty treats. We bought bananas and strawberries this morning, and while the boys (kind of) posed for my camera, the grandma who runs the joint ran into the street to avoid being in the shot. (By the way, those strawberries, though out of season, were some of the sweetest I've ever had! M and J gobbled them like candy, though I have to ration them because they cost an arm and a leg - 380 yen (over US$4) for 14 strawberries.)

Aren't we blessed with the sweetest sweetpeas you've ever laid eyes on? Gosh, they make me smile.

It was very cold and windy on our quick walk (about zero Celsius) and we even had some snow flurries a bit later on. M and J were troopers in the freezing temps! They're tougher than their mama.

Uncle Chuck

Our friend Chuck came to stay yesterday and today on his way to the US to visit family - his wife Julie is still teaching in Kumamoto (Kyushu) so didn't get to come, so we missed her! Hugs to Julie!

A Tale of Two Builders

Wooden-block tower by Matthew...
Modern-art tower by Stephen...


Matthew built a car today (sadly, that's more than we can say for a lot of auto manufacturers in Japan these days)...

This car is hot stuff - Matthew wouldn't let it out of his sight at any waking moment today...

The Shack on Good Morning America

If you've read The Shack (one of my favorite books), or even if you haven't (though there are some plot spoilers), you might want to check out the author (William Paul Young) being interviewed on Good Morning America (Feb. 10). Good stuff!


Recently we learned about Watoto through a contact of ours, and I wanted to share them with you. They're a group in Uganda who rescue AIDS orphans and child soldiers, and someone adopts them and raises them in a "village" they've created. What a unique model and they are certainly living up to their theme (from James 1:27): "Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphan and the widow in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Click here to find out who they are.

Click here to read how they got started.

Click here for their job opportunities.

Click here to give.

What's up? Muffin!

I love that dimple! Check it out!

These are two cute ones, too...I just can't escape from cuteness around here...

Happy Birthday, Ethan!

My nephew turned THREE yesterday (the 12th - well, it's still the 12th in Wisconsin) - can you believe it?

Happy happy birthday, Ethan-boy! We love you!

(Hopefully my sister will send me a birthday picture - Sharon, hint hint! And then I'll post it here...stay tuned.)

Mystic Pizza DOH!

Doh {slapping myself in the forehead}.

Just getting ready to sit down tonight for a few relaxing minutes to finish my hormonal chick-flick ("Mystic Pizza") that I started on Saturday (I watched 12 out of the 16 chapters), and realized...

I packaged it up and mailed it back this morning!

Doh {repeat the slap several times}.

At least I got to see my favorite part, where Julia Roberts dumps the big bins of fish into her boyfriend's convertible Porsche. I hadn't seen the film in like ten years but I did remember that part.

I just don't recall the ending, and now it's too late. DOH. DOH. DOH. My guess is they all lived happily ever after, but now I'll never know.

That's My Name!

Matthew surprised me the other day by looking at me and saying "Abigail" twice in a row (with perfect pronunciation, I might add). He's never said that before so it was a bit of a shock - especially as I thought my name had been legally changed to "Mama".

If At First You Don't Succeed

Joel had a bad experience lately when he found himself on his back with the back of a dining room chair slamming him into the floor, a bright red egg on his forehead.

So this morning when he got near the same chair, I turned it around sideways so he could grab on to the seat instead of the back. Matthew decided that this was a good time to have a mikan (tangerine) and climbed on to the chair.

As I turned my back for one second to grab his bib from the cupboard, I heard a loud thunk and whirled around to see Matthew in a heap on the floor behind the chair. I guess he forgot the back of it was on the side now and not there to support him when he leaned back.

He looked stunned but didn't cry, picked himself up, climbed back up on the chair, and said, "Try again!" I'd never heard him say that before!

I wonder where he learned it.

If Only

Bank Hours for Mommies

If I was dreaming: 24-7 or anytime after 3 pm (yes, banks in Japan close at 3:00), along with free babysitting and clowns and balloons while there (a play train or two would be handy as well)

I'd settle for:
Monday thru Friday 6am - 9am (before Joel's morning nap), 3:30 pm - 6 pm (after both boys wake up from afternoon naps), 10 pm - 2 am (when Joel's randomly awake anyway),Weekends 9 am - 3pm (the usual hours for weekdays)

[A girl's not asking for much, is she?]

Day Trippin'

The Maffa and I went for a Papa / Son trip out on Saturday, which incorporated some of Matthew's favorite things (trains), and a not-quite-accidental second breakfast stop at Mickey-Doo-Dohnoo-Doo (this is how Grandma Mimi tells me we say "McDonalds" in Japanese).

Although we had been planning on going to a little park that we all visited in the fall, a seeing a poster in the station resulted in a change of destination to a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Maffa takes a liquid refreshment break on one of the balconies before we go in. Note the very careful two-handed action. M did very well through the whole process of riding on trains, eating, drinking, getting on and off etc. He was a fun bean to be with.

I'm not sure we were supposed to check out the furniture to this extent, but I am sure that we were not supposed to take photos, as I read a sign that said just that right after I took this one.

We even went right up on the roof for a good view. I had to abandon my slippers, and Maffa and I went out in our socks. I think Maffa found the idea of walking around outside with no shoes on a bit disturbing.

Joel Plays Peepo


You Otter See This

The purple squiggly bits in the middle are "otters", according to Matthew-Bean. Cool, hey!

Good Communication

All my life I've been fed the lines that I need to try harder to hear God clearly, to buckle down and study the Bible more in order to know what his will is for my life, and other "encouraging" words to that effect. The onus has always been on me. I have to. I should. I need to. Otherwise I'm in big trouble, mister.

But I heard a really freeing statement on the God Journey podcast today (called The Adventure of Hearing Him). Brad, one of the podcast guys, said something like this:

My confidence in hearing God accurately doesn't come from my great ability to listen well, but from God's great ability to communicate well.
That doesn't mean I'm going to stop listening or stop reading God's Word, but it does mean I'm NOT going to stress about "finding God's perfect will" anymore.

I remember when I was trying to decide which college to attend - I was so anxious about the whole process. If I didn't pick the right one, I'd never get the right teaching/wisdom I needed for my future career and life, I might be taught wrong doctrine (gasp), I might never meet the right guy to marry, and on and on.

But then one day I was just taking a shower and felt God reach into my heart with his peace, telling me that all the options I was thinking of were good ones, and that I should choose the one I liked best - his hand of blessing would be on my decision, no matter what it was. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief that was!

For Real

We're borrowing a Japanese DVD set for the boys, part of which shows little kids going pee-pee (oshikko) and poo-poo (unchi) on the toilet.

And just now, watching it with the guys, as soon as I heard the plop on-screen, I swear I could smell it. No lie. (And nobody in our home had done anything at that point to merit any stench.)

Maf the Builder

Maffa got a vehicle set (helicopter, race car, and submarine) from Mimi and Pop, and this past Saturday he and Stephen sat down and worked on the helicopter together (and since then Matthew has figured out how to disassemble and rebuild bits of it all by himself)...


The concrete, steel, and glass monster-of-a-mall, Lalaport Koshien, reflects the nature of the region...
But it's a fun place to go anyway...

Say What?

The other day Matthew was holding up the "A" block and calling it a "B" (it's great that he's able to differentiate letters and numbers from other shapes now) and was trying to fit it into the wrong space in his toy.

I asked him a question that made me do a double-take, and I realized only a mother could get away with this:

"Where's the 'A' hole, Matthew?"

Big Beansprout

I won't be able to dry Joel off on his high chair for much longer if those legs keep getting longer by the second...

Mikan Man

Whenever we buy a bag of mikan (tangerines), Matthew's job is to stack them on a plate, and he does a darn good job!
He sometimes opens his mouth when he places another one on the plate (he really concentrates)...

Beautiful! Well done, Matthew!


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