Home, in a nutshell (part 2)

The day before our trip home, during the trip home and even a few days after arriving back in Japan, our three year old let us know several times just how happy and excited she was to be going back home.  When I asked why, she would always answer, “Because Japan”.

I suppose that’s a good enough answer.  I’m sure we’ll realize it more as the girls get older, but we can start to see different ideas forming in their heads.  For us, home is here, of course.  But home is in America.  That concept is fluid for us, at times.  But for the girls, home is here in Japan.  Here is where their friends are, their lives are.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy the time in our “home”, but here is where home is for them.

Even our [now] one year old woke up on her first morning back in her room.  Vicente tells me she was smiling and laughing the whole time, looking around and didn’t know what to play with first. She knew she was home.

I don’t know anything about this though.  After counting down the minutes from 11.5 hours, we got off the plane, and I had one of the worst headaches– migraines– ever.  But we made it. I took a drivers-license-worthy photo for the immigration desk, grabbed our lonely, waiting luggage off the side of the claims area and made it out the official doors to Japan.

Then, we had 10 minutes to make it from the upstairs bus ticket counter to the downstairs bus stop with 6 suitcases, 7 carry-ons, a stroller and two kids who weren’t exactly feeling the rush.  We came home, after a hectic hour in which we put screaming kids to bed and ravaged through suitcases to find the immediate necessaries (re-set up the monitors, wash the bottles, where are everyone’s pajamas?, quick, let’s make the beds!), I went to bed at 7:30pm on Friday night and got up at 8am on Sunday morning.  There were a few brief periods of consciousness, but they were few and far between, riddled with fever and chills and the voice of a bullfrog.

Welcome home!  Love, the flu XOXO

Sunday morning, we made precious cups of coffee and when the kids began to make noise, we went in to find a baby with a fever and snot everywhere and a 3 year old who have vomited in the middle of the night and now had diarrhea.

Fantastic.

Thus proceeded the next few days as the flu took over our apartment and we went into quarantine, as much as possible.

Except, that is, when I got a call from Rosalyn’s preschool letting me know I desperately needed to go in to pick up paperwork.  I knew about this, but explained that we all had the flu.  Apparently, that wasn’t as important as picking up the paperwork and opening an account at this certain bank so we can pay her tuition. With a sigh, I agreed to pick up the paperwork on Tuesday when Vicente got home from a meeting and could watch the kids.

With barely a voice and mask donned amid snow piles, I picked up a giant bag of school uniforms and lots of papers.  I sifted through them at home to figure out what was important and realized that surprise! today was the deadline to turn in all bank paperwork and forms on Rosalyn’s personality and health history, as well as other necessary forms for schooling. No wonder they were in such a hurry to have me pick this stuff up.

Great. So, Vicente called the pastor and literally an hour and a half later, was beginning the process of opening a bank account for the purpose of paying the school.  Two hours later, he rushed home and I finished up the paperwork while he printed a picture I’d just snapped on my phone of our daughter.  Quick!  Grab a gluestick and paste it to the form!

I grabbed my coat, ran outside, jumped on my flying carpet bike and peddled my hiney off to the school.  Six minutes before the deadline, I turned in all the paperwork, came home and collapsed.

Apparently, we’re back to Japan, where deadlines wait for no one– especially not moms with the flu.

I think we’re fully recovered now and can begin the process of figuring out life again.  Besides a surprising lot of official things that have to be taken care of over the next several weeks, we have to re-adjust to life again and all our old relationships and cram our unpacked suitcases back into the nooks and crannies of our apartment.

Because, we’re home again.

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Home, in a nutshell (part 1)

I’m currently standing back in the flight attendants’ kitchen area bouncing my baby to sleep while on our trek across the Pacific. It’s been a good and exhausting trip— 6 plane rides for a total of 30ish hours crossing the skies, many hugs, way too much food and an ever fluid schedule.

Everyone asks how our vacation is going. “Vacation” is a debatable choice of words— something which our missions pastor and we laughed about just a couple days ago in his office.

I don’t really know how to describe trips back home now that we have kids. There’s a whole new spectrum both we and our kids go through on these trips.

We are house guests (well cared for, by the way). So we mind our Ps and Qs and are thankful that our wonderful hosts use ear plugs for our middle of the night rendezvouses (sp??) with our kids.

It’s a new acclimation to the American way of life.  Finishing laundry in 2 hours is something that will never get old.  I secretly doubt people who tell me they love to line dry their clothes.  Clearly, they’ve never hung wet clothes in the winter and waited days for it to dry.  Besides, drier-dried clothes are so much softer.  And my jeans go back to their correct shape. 🙂

We’ve been gone for 3 years now, and while our hosts ask us if there’s anything we’d like from the grocery store– I find myself trying to recall what American grocery stores actually have in them! They’re huge though.  HUGE.

Both our kids went through bodily changes during their stay. A change of diet, new foods left little tummies unhappy. And— all American formulas are apparently enhanced with iron, which required us to figure out solutions for.

Pedialyte: life saver for both our kids. I think I will buy it first thing off the plane in the future. Maybe in bulk.

New schedules, new beds.

New people! Many of whom know them, but aren’t known by them.

Reuniting with grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins. Sometimes facilitating that relationship was hard and painful. Sometimes it was easy. We made quite a scene at the airport when my almost 4 year old clung to grandma, saying she didn’t want to leave, she wanted to stay or go together.  We held up the security line as we sniffled and got our tickets and documents together and tried to do the right thing for everyone involved.

This same four year old everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, asked for our schedule. “Where are we going mommy?” “Are there friends there?” I think her having a grasp on the schedule for the day was her way of feeling in control of her new environment.

New names. We joke because everyone she referred to as “hey guys”.

But overall it was an enjoyable experience. Not without many considerable difficulties— imagine a screaming, sick baby for hours on end on a flight. Or the many hours spent after the kids went to bed preparing diaper bags and activity bags and extra clothes and baby food and formula and carriers and whatever souvenir gifts or paperwork needed for the next day.

Supply lists, choosing when to run errands.

Coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

That’s one of those good things (coffee and creamer…. what a dreamy concoction!). We had lots of great fellowship with people, great events, and so much love and support from people. People were so kind and understanding toward our kids. Many times, trusted friends would entertain our kids (when they allowed it) during events or at church missions tables.

And we survived. We learned. We grew through it.

And we thank our home communities for their love and support, to make our “not so vacation “ a very enjoyable trip.