We have returned from Hawaii and had one day back before Eric left to go up to Ishinomaki for two days. Our mission asked him to help out with a video that they are making of relief efforts. It is also a good chance for him to check in with the ministry there as well as see if there are any housing options so far (at this point there aren’t – but we know God is at work!). He is on his way home now, after battling several hours of snow on the freeway to get to the airport this morning.
Yesterday I got the second-worst call you never want to get from your child’s school (the first is lice)- Annie had just vomited on her desk and could I come and get her? Poor thing, and poor teacher, who had to clean it up (no janitors in Japanese schools to do it for them!). She was much better by last night, and despite not being too excited about it went back to school today.
Besides the wonderful weather in Hawaii, one of the things that we wanted to extend was the Grumpy Coupon game that we played (thanks to Family Fun magazine for the idea!). Before leaving, I made twelve Grumpy Coupons – two for each of our family members. During the trip, we were each given two opportunities to use them — times when we were “allowed” to be grumpy. The kids of course wanted to know what would happen if we needed more than two – I said let’s hope that didn’t happen!
What was great about these coupons wasn’t the coupons themselves but the idea of them… whenever one of us would get a little edgy, someone was sure to quickly say, “Hey Mommy, are you going to use your grumpy coupon now?” Check. Oops. “Owen – I guess you need to use your coupon!” Ooh – pull it together so you don’t need to use it! Overall, the kids did great in transit – even Ian, who loved pulling his own suitcase.
On our return, after a ten hour flight while we were tiredly trudging through the Seoul Airport to our connecting flight, we took an inventory: Mommy and Daddy had used theirs once (!?); Ian had used more than his share; but the other three had never needed to use theirs! They decided that there should be some reward for not using them. Hmm. We can arrange that.
This was a simple idea worth its weight in gold in traveling with four kids. Here is a picture from our time away when it was helpful- Olivia wasn’t into getting her picture taken and her face made that clear… Until she was asked if she wanted to use that coupon…
It is too bad that we didnt have those coupons a few weeks before… While Eric was gone up north in early December, I took the kids to a studio to have their photos taken in kimonos (I posted one of the group photos previously). In Japan, children often do this at ages 7, 5, and 3, and many go to visit shrines as well around the date of November 15th. We have never had our children photographed in kimonos, and given that they are Japanese I really wanted to do it at some point. So, as a surprise Christmas present for Eric, I made an appointment and had the four dressed (in Japan that includes doing their hair – yes, those are extensions on the girls! – a touch of make up, and full kimono dressing-up) and photographed.
I told Eric on Christmas when we gave him the photos that it was absolutely a gift of love – Ian hated the whole experience, and I am not sure if the studio staff were ever the same after our three hours in there! Our wonderful friends the Itos came to help; even still Ian had four different individual sessions until we finally got ONE photo with a semi-smile (below). In reality, no amount of grumpy coupons would have helped any of us on that day! But we love the photos and just a quick look keeps this mom from being grumpy better than any coupon can.