Franklin Five

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


There is just something special about camping.  Okay, maybe you are not a fan of bugs, bears, or sleeping on the ground.  For my family, we don't mind a few of the drawbacks because we really enjoy being together outdoors.  From waking up in the morning to a duck quacking outside of our tent, to eating all of our meals outside, to enjoying sitting around a campfire and watching the sun go down, we had a great time.  Our Canadian friends, Alison and Mark, invited us to join their family this past weekend in the area called 1000 Islands.  It's a beautiful area close to the St. Lawrence River about 4 hours east of Toronto.  We actually didn't "rough it" too much because we stayed at a KOA campground that had nice bathrooms and two heated pools.  Our friends have a camper so we ate most of our meals with them.  That's my kind of camping!  Part of what made it such a great weekend was how much we love these friends.  They have been such a blessing from the first day we moved to Canada, and all of our children get along so well.

I've heard a statistic about camping and families.  I don't remember all the details but it basically said that the one thing a group of healthy families had in common was that they all went camping.  I don't think there's anything magical about camping itself but it does get you away from a lot of distractions and is a fun thing to do together.

Sometimes, we just need to get away.  Away from routines and hurrying.  Away from TV and computers.   Away from responsibilities and stress.  Playing with the kids and roasting marshmallows were about the extent of Tim's duties this weekend.  The kids spent the weekend playing, swimming, and getting dirty.  I think that's the definition of a perfect weekend.  Hooray for camping and healthy families!  I think we just may be getting a pop-up camper and doing this more often.

Graham and Victoria on the boat

Lidiyanna with her "little mommies"

me and Wesley

Lidiyanna and my sweet friend, Alison

Wesley with his best buddy, Harrison

Lidiyanna can put on quite a show.

a castle and some houses we saw on our boat tour of the 1000 Island area

The St. Lawrence River borders the US and Canada.  This bridge is the shortest bridge between the US (the island pictured here) and Canada

We give camping 2 thumbs up!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wesley's school year

Wesley was in the junior kindergarten program this year at Captain R Wilson, the public school close to our house.  He went to school every Tuesday and Thursday and about one Friday a month.  A fun part was that his classroom was next door to his brother's class so they saw each other often throughout the day.  God really provided for Wesley and for me by giving him a wonderful and loving teacher.  She had a gentle and calm spirit and she seemed to be a perfect fit for Wesley.  She's having a baby soon, and I will really miss her next year.  I think Wesley will too, but we're trusting that God will provide another great teacher for him as he is in Senior Kindergarten.

He still has a few days left of school, but last week, the JK and SK classes put on a concert at the school for all of the parents.  His class sang, "The Ants Go Marching Two by Two" and they were so cutely decked out in ant antenna.  Afterward the concert, the parents followed the children back to the classsroom where we could see all of the work they had done during the year.

 Wesley with his classmates in his room after the concert

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Friends and Father's Day

Since we arrived home from Japan two weeks ago, we have been quite busy.  My friend, Saho, from Nashville was in town with her family, and we had a wonderful evening together.  We talked a lot about Japan since she and her husband grew up there.  It was neat to hear her perspective after seeing the country first-hand.  Her children and ours played a lot together in Nashville, so it was very fun to be together again.

 Our dear friends from grad school days also came to visit.  Ten years ago, we used to hang out together as couples.  Now, we have six children between both families.  What a fun adventure to be together again!!

Last but not least, we celebrate Tim today!  I am so thankful for the wonderful daddy he is to our three children.  They are blessed to have him in their lives, and I am a better mom because I have him by my side.

I also think of my dad today and am thankful for his love, support, and presence in my life.  I am looking forward to his visit in July.

What a month it has been and it's only half way through!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Final Post on Japan

Our last part of the trip was a visit to Kyoto, the country's old capital city.  Kyoto is full of temples and beautiful gardens, so we spent most of our time touring some of those.  Below are pictures of the Golden Pavilion, a bamboo grove, and Ginkaku-Ji (translated the Silver Pavilion).  The temples were architecturally appealing yet held little value to me as they, in my eyes, were just empty buildings.  I really enjoyed the tranquil gardens surrounding the temples.  Japan is full of beautiful flowers and vegetation .  Everywhere you looked, you would see flowers-from the temple gardens to the countryside to the pots outside of a residential doorstep.

One thing Tim and I found quite charming was the groups of junior high students in their school uniforms touring the city.  You would see groups of four or five students everywhere without adults or teachers.  Many students during their middle school years take class field trips to the city.   Despite the adult supervision, they all seemed to be doing what they came there to do: learn more about their country's culture and history.   We had several groups timidly approach us with their open books in front of them.  Part of their assignment was to "interview" English speakers since they start learning English in junior high.  They would slowly read the questions in English to us and look at us in anticipation as they awaited our answers.  They were just so adorable.  Then, they would always want to take a picture with us.

Our five days in Japan went by very quickly, and I had mixed feelings when the week came to an end.  I was so ready to come home and see my children, yet it had been a really neat week.  I was very thankful for the opportunity.  I find it very interesting learning about other cultures, and it is always a good experience to find yourself as the minority and learn how that position feels.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Japan (part two)

After Kamikochi, we traveled by bus and train to Takayama, a small but charming city in the mountains.  We stayed in a western-style hotel that had an onsen on the top floor.  An onsen is a hot-mineral spa bath.  This one had a bath for women and a separate bath for men.  We were trying to experience many Japanese customs so we decided to see what the onsen was like.  We were both a little hesitant because you enter the onsen without any swimming suits or clothes.  Fortunately, it was not crowded and I was the only one on the women's side.  The procedure for partaking of the onsen is to soap and rinse off using the a special bathing area before getting into the onsen.  Usually a Japanese robe or pajamas along with the slippers are provided in your room so you can wear those to and from the onsen.  Tim looked really cute in his.  Too bad I don't have any pictures of that!  It ended up being really relaxing and an experience we both enjoyed.  Our motto for the week was, " When in Japan, do as the Japanese."

After our authentic Japanese dining experience in Kamikochi, we were feeling a little less adventurous and hoping for a little comfort food.  Our travel book told us about a Mexican restaurant owned by a Japanese man who was very enthusiastic about Mexican food.  We found the restaurant and had a delicious dinner made and served by the owner.  You never know what you'll find in the most unusual places.

 some private, old homes in Takayama that are still residences with merchant areas on the lower levels

 where we stayed in Takayama

 Sometimes there was little English to be found, so navigating around could be a little tricky.

 One of the many temples in Takayama.

Bring on the Mexican food!

Monday, June 04, 2012

Japan-part 1

Yes, we went to Japan!  Tim has been traveling there for a few years now with his job, and we've talked about how neat it would be if I could join him.  The opportunity arose, and I jumped aboard.  He traveled there a week ahead of me to attend meetings and complete some tasks at Nissan.  I joined him at the end of his work week, and we spent a week of vacation traveling all over the country.  It was a very fun adventure, and I am so thankful I got to experience such a lovely country with my husband.

The first night was spent in Yokohama which is outside of Tokyo as well as the headquarters of Nissan.  Tim took me to a restaurant that served ramen and it was delicious.  When I thought of ramen, my mind went to the cheap bundle of noodles wrapped in plastic.  The ramen in Japan is so different and so tasty.

After Yokohama, we traveled by train and then bus to a mountainous region called Kamikochi.  It is in the "Japan Alps", and the scenery really was breathtaking.  We spent a night in a ryokan which is a tradition Japanese inn.  They served us an interesting dinner and breakfast in traditional Japanese style.  I can't say that everything was overly delicious, but the presentation and attention to detail was striking.  After I spent a week in Japan, I really appreciated how Japanese people take pride in how they present things, meticulously defining each detail in a way that is very attractive.  The country is very clean which is amazing in that it is such a populated place.  No one throws trash on the ground and everyone does their part to keep things clean.

While in Kamikochi, we enjoyed a morning of hiking which was highlighted by seeing several monkeys up close on one part of the hike. What a great way to start the week!

 practicing my use of chopsticks while waiting for a train

 a sitting area in our room in the ryokan
We slept on futon mattresses on the floor and could hear the rushing waters from a river outside our window.

 the beautiful but not as tasty dinner
We celebrated our anniversary on this evening.  Happy 13 years together!!

 outside the ryokan in Kamikochi

Friday, June 01, 2012


It has been an action packed week.  Jo will have to fill in the details later, but we are tired and about to go to bed for the last time in Japan on this trip.  From waking to a smallish earthquake while asleep on the 23rd floor to riding on a bullet train, we have had a trip full of new experiences.  Being away always reminds me how much I miss my kids, and I am ready to get home to see them.
Kamikochi - Wow a perspective of Japan I didn't know.
 New adventures in eating.
 The famous Shinkansen Bullet Train - speeds up to 186 mph make traveling by train quick!
 The Ginkaku Shrine in Kyoto has beautiful gardens around it.