Best Christmas gift

I hope everyone had a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Adam and I had a really wonderful Christmas...we are making new traditions and holding on to our favorites.  Even being in Okinawa, we had some fun parties with friends, watched a lot of Christmas movies, and enjoyed the decorations.
We exchanged some really awesome gifts, but Adam's big gift to me was extraordinary..
Adam had to climb up in our tree to 'install' it!

For the past few weeks, in his spare time, he has been hiding a woodworking project from me in our extra room.  He has been drilling, cutting, sawing, and sanding wood...I had no idea what he was making.  I thought maybe a jewelry box, or a recipe box...something of that nature.  But I was so excited to find out.
Christmas morning, it was the last present...I opened a wrapped gift under the tree to find a CLUE!  He hid clues all around the house, leading me to the big gift.

He had it wrapped up in a TON of wrapping paper...when I tore it off, I started crying.  One:  Because it was such an amazing gift, so beyond my expectations.  Two:  because he made it with his own two hands and creative mind...totally unique.  Three:  because I am pregnant...  This was just too much!

He made a swing.  Not just any swing...a PERFECT swing.  It's so great, I can't say enough about it.

Love the light colored wood!

 I can't wait to sit outside on a sunny day, with Luke in my arms; listening to the birds chirping, seeing the blue sky through the green leaves, rocking him with the wind...Adam gave me the best gift ever.
Thank you Adam!!

Kurashiki Dam

Kurashiki Dam is a beautiful park, with great trails for dog walkin.  Some friends met us there and we walked around for a bit.  The weather here is so nice right now...high 70s,  sometimes dipping into the 50s at night.  Wonderful when the sun is out. 
 Here are some recent pics at Kurashiki.  Good times.


Twinkle lights

 We finally got lights!  Thanks to my parents for having pity on us and sending us ornaments and lights...our tree looks wonderful now! 



Oh my neglected blog...There have been so many things going.  It doesn't take up 30 minutes of my day anymore.  Not to mention my empty camera and new unattractive surroundings.  Now that we live on base, we are surrounded by cinder block homes with the buzzing of F-15's flying overhead.  These two things are probably the only downside.  Our new home is about double the size of our small Japanese apartment, we have a yard and a big beautiful tree providing shade on our hot sunny days in December, our friends live within 5 minutes and we have been taking full advantage of that, grocery shopping and errand running is such a smaller task than before when we fought the Okinawa traffic all of 8 miles taking an average of 30 minutes each way.  This house is easy.  Overall, we finally feel like this is our 'first home'.  It has taken a while to make it feel like home..rearranging furniture, preparing for Christmas, preparing for baby...

First there is Christmas!  We have garland with beautiful lights strung along our ceiling and I bought some miniature trees and decorated them with ornaments snagged at the thrift store.  We are pretty new to this...Christmas in our first real home together...in other words, we had nothing; no ornaments, no lights, no decoration.  We've had to be creative!  Here in Okinawa everyone has a fake tree...everyone.  I could never have a fake tree...a huge joy to me during Christmas time is picking out a tree, getting it home, and letting the beautiful smell of nature waft through the house...watering it, dressing it up.  What a weird tradition;  But it's vital to my Christmas cheer.  So, I asked around and found out that our BX would get 1 shipment of trees in from the states, and they wouldn't give a date.  People told me the trees were awful, overpriced and small...this didn't sway us!  A few weeks ago, Adam took Cinder out to hunt for stray tennis balls at the courts nearby...while they were searching, he saw a car go by with a tree tied to the roof.  A few minutes later, another tree on another roof.  He immediately called me, jumped back in the van, 'Pick you up in 5!  Trees are here!'  We bolted to the BX to find about 2/3 of the selection still on the market.  There was a frenzy of people, cars pulling in, a big sign anticipating the line that would ensue....Adam and I grabbed the tallest tree there was and proclaimed, " We'll take it!"  Then we jumped around like giddy school children having picked out our very first Christmas tree, getting there in time against all odds, and SO excited to bring our 7.5 foot Noble Fir into our new home...despite the fact that we had no lights, no ornaments, no tree skirt, no shears...(they have sold out of the already small selection of Christmas decor on this little island) but we did buy a tree stand.  So we brought our love tree home, couldn't fit it in the tree stand because of all the mega limbs at the base, went to the hardware store and rented shears, finally got it to fit in the tree stand, trimmed it up a little for shape, and then sat and admired our gorgeous Christmas tree, sitting in front of our gorgeous window, in our gorgeous new cement home, with our gorgeous curious dog that we still have to watch around the gorgeous limbs of our gorgeous tree.  We LOVE our tree.  It remained bare for a few days, but I went to the thrift store, found some simple red ornaments, had a few sent from home, and some totally random things that we could hang up.  I also found some bootleg, semi-working Christmas lights at the thrift store (they are sold out of lights everywhere!)  So we have 3 different strands of lights on the tree...all a different shade of 'white' and the top half flickers out every night when the sun goes down...but it's still a half glowing, gorgeous hot mess!!!

Then we have Baby Luke's room...we decided to paint his room green! We found some paint that was a really nice shade of lime green.  woops...looked great on the sample, but after we painted 2 coats on the wall, we could barely open our eyes when the sun came in through the windows...it was electric LIME green.  Probably not conducive to rocking a baby to sleep.  So after a few days of deciding, we went back for a darker shade of green...this time going with 'Garden Party Green' ..the first coat is up and it's much much better.  The ceilings are pretty high in this house, and when I was applying the paint, I realized I would need a ladder to get to the top.  So my 7 month pregnant body hobbled to the top of this ladder...my fear of heights loudly present, I painted with a roller above my head.  I think I did an awful job, because I wanted so badly for it to be over.  So this weekend, I volunteered Adam to finish the top half of the room, while I take the bottom half. Ready to get that done so we can fill the walls with animals and photos, put the crib together and make it look like a baby room.  You could say I'm in the 'nesting phase!'
Here's an unfinished photo...how do you like his first tent?

Don't forget about our first baby...our dog has been so happy here.  Cinder loooves the new house, the new yard, the proximity to fenced in areas where she can run, the window where she can growl at every passerby...don't be fooled!  She only wants to shower them with wet doggy kisses.   Every Sunday, we get our dog owner friends together for a little doggy social hour.  The ball fields are not in use at the moment, so we take the pooches, close the fences and let them go wild.
We aren't the only ones who bring their dogs to this particular field.  We pulled up to the gate, and an unrecognizable car pulled in behind us.  A guy I didn't know got out and asked if we were taking our dog to run...I told him we were expecting about 8 more dogs to show up, and to please join us!  I pulled Cinder out of the van, and had to do a double take, when he pulled their IDENTICAL female boxer out of their car.
A little back story--Cinder was born on Okinawa to 2 purebred Boxers a little over a year and a half ago.  When we saw their boxer, we immediately thought it MUST be her sister.  They were identical...Cinder has 4 white paws and her front right leg is all white, a fawn color.  Exactly the same with this other dog.  We let them through the fence and their little butts were jiggling like crazy as they sniffed each other and ran around.  I asked the owners about their dog...
Her name is Zazzle.  She is also from Okinawa, but she is 3 or 4 years old.  GET THIS!  She had a litter of puppies about a year and a half ago with a purebred Boxer named Brutus.
It was Cinder's MOM!
I doubt they recognized each other as related...dogs just don't think that way.  But they definitely got along and played.  It was incredible to see these two boxers who looked exactly alike...and to find out we were meeting her mother.  SO COOL!  We are planning to meet up again this Sunday...hopefully making it a weekly thing.  If they can be still for half a second, then I will try to get a mother daughter portrait of the two.

Adam's job is going great!  He also has a new addiction to spearfishing.  He and a group of guys go out a few times a week and free dive along the reef with these huge spears...it is almost like a slingshot.  When they see a big fish, they have to sneakily get within 5 feet of them and release a band on their pole that sends the spear very quickly into the fish.  They are great fishermen!  Adam has brought home a few big fish that we've sauteed or eaten at the weekly Friday fish fry at his shop.  It's also fun to join them at the beach, because I roll around on a blanket like a beached whale while he catches our dinner.  HA!  My belly is huge!  I've gained nearly 20 lbs...Luke kicks me constantly, which I love!  It just means he is a healthy growing boy.   The discomforts of pregnancy are slowly creeping up on me now that I'm beginning the 3rd trimester blues...In a few weeks, we are going to go to a Japanese place off base to get a 3d ultrasound.  They've been highly recommended and it's something that the base doesn't offer.

That's all folks!  Sorry for not providing more photos...I'll be sure to take some pictures of our house tonight when the lights are a-glowing.


Growing Baby

Woah Mama, I'm gonna be a Mama!!!
My belly has been growing, growing, growing...each time I look in the mirror, I swear it has grown...which makes sense.  I'm 27 weeks pregnant now and this is the time when he starts doubling in size every 2 weeks.  Right now he is about a foot long, around 2-2 1/2 lbs...and he is strong!  He kicks me constantly. 
I think I love being pregnant...Then again, I'm just starting to feel some discomfort.  Other than that it's fun!  Pregnant women and women with kids love to talk to me, and I love talking to them!  Everytime he starts kicking, Adam and I stare at my belly like it's the first time we've seen it...really, it's miraculous.  I eat, A LOT!  Naps don't make me feel lazy.  Baby newborn outfits make me so happy.  Many friends here on Okinawa are just as excited.  Seeing my Mom so excited is wonderful!  Watching my body transform into this baby making machine is so cool. 

I am woman, watch me grow!


Life is better as a picnic table

Meet Katie. Katie likes ice cream.  Katie likes photography.  Katie likes to make you laugh.  Katie likes costumes.
Katie is brilliant and creative and most of all hilarious.  Over the years, she has transformed herself into many different things...including chickens, toilets, flowers, cows, picnic tables and various other costumes.  I just had to put all of these pictures of her in costume into one place and share her with all of you!

 She has been a cow and a chicken and a cow chicken on various occasions to promote Chick-Fil-A and get free chicken!!!  There are many more of these photos somewhere out there!

 Merlot Wine Box...there was also a bladder of wine inside and she filled peoples glasses all night!

 Hot Dog
 White trash

 Front End Loader, Hamper and Detergent...fave!

 Picnic Table, with dirty plates and flies..she even had fake flies in her hair!


 Easter Bunny

Flower in a flower pot


Georgia Fall

 Finally made it to Georgia just in time for perfect fall weather.

 The leaves are changing into beautiful reds, oranges and yellows...the temperature is cool and fresh.  It's been a wonderful visit so far!  So great to see family and friends!
 Here are some photos taken while strolling through the woods, overlooking the Chattahoochee wetlands, playing with Cody and Bruno, smelling the last of the flowers before winter and enjoying the sunset.

 Love this yellow and green weeping willow


Awaiting a new life

First I want to send apologies for all of those readers who have been disappointed with my lack of posts lately.  A lot has been going on!  My camera hasn't been strapped to me as it usually is.  Sometimes it's important to just live in the moments...taking mental pictures and enjoying life without the digital.  Bear with me!

We've decided on a name:  Lucas.  and we will call him LUKE.  Baby Luke.  Luke Fillman.  Such a nice ring to it.  And Adam and I decided on this name amicably which makes it all the more wonderful.  As of right now we are leaning towards Lucas Rushton. 

So this whole baby thing is pretty epic.  So many things in our lives will change in a few months.  So many things have changed already.  (Including my pants size.)  What I really mean is my entire outlook on life.  Just when you think you have certain things figured out... New Life, Innocence, Growth, Love...Every kick inside my belly is the best feeling because it's all of those things at once.  Anatomy, Biology...how our bodies are designed to grow, nurture and support a human life inside of us...It's exhilarating, and truly weird at the same time.  Nothing can be more beautiful than this.  What a wake up call!  I was always the girl that said...noooo, I don't want kids, not ready for that, not yet, woah woah woah, no, no, no...slow down.  The big question...can I do this?  Would I be a good parent? But out of nowhere, life happens.  What is meant to be will be.  And now all I can think is yes, yes, yes...this is right.  This is beautiful, natural, a gift, a blessing, an experience to learn from, grow, give and become more aware, patient, loving, observant.
Here are a few excerpts from messages that I've received from a couple of wonderful friends I have who have become amazing mothers recently...I reread these all the time. 

"A baby is the most beautiful, complex, perfectly unimaginable/imaginable and expectable being on the face of the planet! Seriously...whether you are pregnant when you least expect for or plan it (like I was with my darlin') or whether you work for 15 years to finally have a baby...either way, it always comes when you NEED it to...whether for your well-being or theirs, life happens. And it is the most beautiful, unbelievable experience in the world. I've witnessed your travels and adventures through your beautiful blog, and I can honestly say that with all the amazing things that you've seen, nothing in the world compares to the amazing things that you feel when you bring a new life into this impossibly beautiful world."

and more words from another truly amazing mama:

"the best, best part is experiencing this world again through innocent eyes. The wind, grass, sand, ocean, smells, etc. becomes new and amazing. It's so much fun! I forgot what a piece of grass tickling your nose was like or when the wind blows taking that chance to stand there and let it suck you in or take away the stress from the day."
"Being a mom is the best experience of your life, but also the hardest."
"Don't worry. Once you have that baby, a motherly instinct goes into full effect. Your baby lives inside of you for 9 months and during that time I believe that your souls become connected."

I loved the one about experiencing all the small things again for the first time...walking on grass in bare feet...what a strange feeling that would be for the first time?  Looking at the clouds, listening to the birds...the things that we just become accustomed to and no longer pay any attention...the really beautiful small things.

It was definitely overwhelming when we read that pregnancy test...but that was nearly 5 1/2 months ago...and during that time we've seen him grow from a small bean into a baby...with a profile, hands, feet, eyelashes, fingerprints!  We've learned that it's a boy...a little boy.  We've felt him move around inside of me...inside of my body!  This body that I've always been so familiar with and is suddenly changing...doing things it's never done before.  Growing, growing, growing!  I've danced with him, put headphones to my belly and felt his reaction to the music...We sing to him, and talk to him because he hears us, and recognizes our voices.  Everyday it's something new.  When I laugh my belly jiggle like a bowlful of jelly!  I understand now!  haha!  I imagine he is in there jiggling too!

Anyway...this has been my thinking pattern.  A new connection to motherhood.  Women who have children love touching my belly.  Japanese women LOVE touching my belly...and freak out when they learn it's a boy...boys are like gold over here.  I'll keep the belly pictures coming.

I'm taking a trip home this week to see family.  The future Grandparents need to see me all preggo and feel baby Luke before he gets here.  So there will be lots of picture taking I assume.

Remember the women who brought us into this world.  :)


It's a BOY!!

IT'S A BOY!!!!!!!
Here is his profile!
 Yep!  Definitely a boy!

SURPRISE!  We are having a baby boy.  We just found out this morning at our 2nd ultrasound, and we are very excited!!!
He weighs 15 oz, just shy of a pound.  His heart rate was healthy at 156 bpm.  He has 2 long arms and 2 long legs, and he is so active!  I'm always feeling him kicking me, and even Adam has been able to feel it.
We are 21 weeks and they have moved our due date twice.  It started as March 4th, then moved to March 2nd, and now the due date is February 29, 2012.  (which is a leap year!)

This entire experience has really been incredible.  It was certainly a surprise pregnancy!  We found out at 5weeks along, when it was just a bean (see ultrasound.)  My first question was...there is only 1 right?
So far pregnancy has been a pretty amazing journey.  So many 'firsts.'
Now I am in the middle of the 2nd trimester and feel great.  Just in the past 2 weeks I have doubled in size!  My belly feels huge...and I have a long way to go.

Adam is hoping for a little Japanese samurai baby.  It sure does kick a lot.
We will keep you updated on the progress!

Yay!  The miracle of life!  It never ceases to amaze me.


Does that say FREE?


Apparently, Japanese tourism has declined significantly and they are trying different tactics to bring people back!
Japan is safe people!  Come visit me!!!!!


Cinder Bender

Our balcony has squares along the walls, which are perfect for Cinder.  She can just reach the squares to look out over Yomitan, watch the cats walking by and check on the weather.  Of course, every time we return home and our car pulls up to the apartment,  the first thing we see is her head poking out to look at us.

It always makes us laugh.



I love this little splash of water...and there is a blurry paddleboarder in the background.  Captured!
These photos were taken by my amazing and talented husband, Adam.  

 Cinder at full speed. 
A day at the beach with Cinder is both wonderful, and exhausting...not exactly relaxing.  We have to constantly be aware of who may come around the corner, any animals she might decide to run towards..(lately she feels as though she can fly, chasing birds no matter where they are headed), what she is chewing on...(in past instances, dead fish carcasses), why she is out of sight and how long it will take us to find her...we could always just tie her up, which we've done at more public beaches...but then she can't run with her tongue flapping in the wind and her big lips formed into a smile, kicking up sand with all fours in the air at once...It's the best day of her life, most days of the week.  We can all learn from her.  :)

 When we aren't worrying about Cinder's escape artistry, or any stimuli inducing such acts...we are usually staring out at the sunset...which seems to be especially incredible here on Okinawa.

I love his photography.  Inspirational! This picture in particular...that is a paddleboarder out in the ocean, just under the sun.  Perfectly framed clouds with the horizon. Beautiful and natural color.