Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Time

Lots has happened since I last posted. Like. . .

1. Zion's surgery is over and a month behind us now.

This is one day post-op. Giving Zion up to the group of surgeons the morning of November 19th was the most heart-breaking thing we have ever gone through. We are so thankful everything worked out just fine and that is behind us now. Here is a picture of him today with his perfectly rounded forehead (he turned seven months on the 16th of this month):

He is so happy and such a good baby. We were afraid the surgery would hamper his spirit but he is just fine! All his scabs are gone now too! His scar looks just great (you can't even see it in this picture!). We are so thrilled about our baby boy!

2. We moved into our new house! We closed at the beginning of November and feel really settled now.

Here is our kitchen. It is my favorite part of the house!

This is the rest of our first floor--dining room and living rooom all in one. Then you go up the stairs to the bedrooms.

Our bedroom. Our nook is fun. And here is the view out the window of our nook:

3. I got a new haircut:

I really like it and have not had short hair forever! Plus, it is nice because Zion was constantly pulling and chewing on my hair. Problem sovled!

4. Our last bit of news has to do with our family. . .and the expansion of it. That's right! We're adding another little one to our clan in August. You may think we are crazy but we are excited about it. Here we go again! :)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 23 November 2008

What a Whirlwind!

Well, it's been a while. Just thought I would update everyone on our life. We have been SO busy the past few weeks and here is why:

*We bought a house! We closed two Fridays ago. From the moment we closed a 5 o'clock, we started the whirlwind to get moved in and semi-settled before Zion's surgery. We LOVE our house! It is perfect and a true gift from the Lord. We are thankful for it.

*Both of us have successfully lost some weight. So we are also thankful for that. Heath is at his goal but I still have a ways to go. I'll get there, though!

*Zion's surgery was last Wednesday. We really felt all the prayers and although the time leading up to the event was SOOOOO sad, we were at peace while they were actually performing the surgery. Totally an answer to prayer! He was in the ICU for a day and night and then we moved to the regular infant/toddler unit. We got to come home yesterday (Saturday). He is looking so much better each day and today he really started acting like Zion again. Again, another thing to give thanks for next Thursday.

*My birthday was on the 21st. We did get to go out to dinner while Grandpa Frank and Grandma Nora stayed with Zion in the hospital. It was the first date we had had without Zion! He was in good hands, though! :)

*Rachel, my good friend, had a baby girl on the 15th! She highly recommends the epidural. :) Mackenzie Isabell is so perfect and has a full head of brown hair with Rach's cute chin.

*Tonight I actually got out a couple Thanksgiving decorations. I have not really felt like doing any extra decorating stuff in the midst of all the moving and Zion stuff. I am anxious to get back to normal--whatever that means!

Well, happy Thanksgiving and thanks to all of you who have been praying for us these past few weeks! I'll post pictures of a new Zion soon.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Scary Things. . .

. . .and I am not talking about it being Halloween.

First, though, let's have the good news:

*WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!! Isn't that music to the ol' ears! We close on it next Friday (Nov. 7th). Truly, I did not think there was one out there for us. I used to think house shopping looked easy--and then I actually tried it! We really feel like the Lord blessed us in finding this one. Perfect location (three miles from Heath's work, right next to a huge park, and on a great street lined with newly renovated old houses); perfect price (our realtor told us that we shot for the moon and got it); and perfect cosmetic touches that we wanted (it is a brand new house with a gem of a kitchen). All in all, we are so happy to have it! It will be so nice to land after these past two plus years of living out of our suitcases.

*Today we bought a new dining room fixture from School House Electric Co. It is SO cute! We got to design the whole thing so it has lots of character. The one currently in the house is lacking any sort of soul so it had to go. We looked all over the place for one that we liked and I finally remembered seeing this store on MLK years ago. I actually saw it when doing the Race for the Cure for my friend Karen Sisler and thought to myself that if I ever had a house I wanted a light from there. Guess what. . .I am getting both! What a fun time this is! I love nesting!

Now, the scary news:

*Also today, we had to go have Zion's CAT scan and blood drawn. His surgery is in about three weeks so we are preparing for it. The scan was pain free but it was SOOOO scary putting him on the bed and watching them wrap him so he was immobilized from head to toe. Heath stayed in there with him while he was being scanned but I had to wait outside. I was a mess and opted to not watch it. He did great and they only had to take one reading which is a blessing. They say the dosage of radiation is low, but still, it IS radiation. The doctors just needed a picture of his skull bones so they could see what they would be working with in the actual surgery. Then we had to all be blood typed so we could find out which one of us could give him our blood. He will have to have a transfusion in the surgery. Again, more crying on all our parts. The look that he gave me while his blood was being drawn was one of confusion and "why aren't you stopping this pain?". It was horrible! I guess we were just being toughened up for the actual surgery. But really, though, we will be a mess come November 19th.

*His surgery will be at 7:30 am that morning. We have to be to the hospital (Legacy Emanual) by 6:00 am and he is not to have eaten for four hours pre-op. He will not be a happy camper by the time we arrive. So sad!

*We would love visitors but please give us the first day to be with Zion and support him through the surgery.

That's all for now. I'll post pictures of the house after I get some!

Monday, 20 October 2008


We went to Sauvie Island a couple weeks ago with our friends from Japan. Here Zion is enjoying a new view.

Zion's five month picutres--one in jammies and one after getting dressed.
He is really starting to roll all over the place now. He also giggles like crazy and gets mad when he can't reach a toy. They grow so fast, don't they?!

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Surgery Date

In a previous post I mentioned that we were going for a second opinion about Zion's skull. Well, we have decided to switch doctors because of it. We will be having the surgery at Legacy Emanual Hospital with doctors Wehby (plastic surgeon) and Wheatley (neuro surgeon). Believe me, you never want to have to use the word, "surgeon" when talking about your child. However, we feel confident about the outcome of the surgery and in the ability of these doctors.

His surgery date is November 19th.

It will be hard but we know that the Lord gifted him to us and that the Lord will see Zion through this. So. . .if it ever crosses your mind, please be praying for drs. Wehby and Wheatley, Zion's quick recovery and pain management, and Heath and me while we wait for the whole situation to be over.

On a happier note:

*My friend, Rachel, is having her baby in a month! What a fun shower she had this weekend.
*My niece, Bailey is now 6!! She is growing into such a super girl.
*We are still house hunting (is this "happy"?).
*Still love my Jack Johnson CD!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


Do you ever have one of those moments where everything just aligns and you realize you are so content? I had one of those "Ahhhh" moments last night.

We had come home from church and Heath was putting Zion down upstairs. (Which leads me to another topic--Heath as a great father--but that is another post.) So I came downstairs, put on the new Jack Johnson CD I bought the other day on impulse, and just had a great time. I put away the dishes, made a cake (lemon lover's white chocolate--yum!) for Rachel's upcoming baby shower, and just putzed around for a few more minutes. I was so relaxed! Funny how just doing everyday things to good music could be such a salve.

What else. . .don't you love the fall? I love doing fallish things: the pumpkin patch, burning a fall candle, and watching the leaves turn.

We had the Namerikawa family visiting us from Japan this past weekend. Satomi is my friend from Kanazawa that helped out so much with my pregnancy. It was fun to see her and her kids on this side of the ocean. They were here Friday through Monday and we had a ball. Fun to be around Japanese people and the language again. What little of the language I did pick up is already getting rusty!

Zion's second opinion appointment is this morning. We will be heading off to Emmanual Legacy Hospital in a couple hours. Shouldn't be as rough as the last visit at OHSU just because we already know what the outcome is. We just thought it would be wise to have a second opinion. Not really expecting a different diagnosis.

My niece Bailey turns 6 this week! Where does the time go?

The offer on the house we liked in New Columbia was rejected. Okay with me, really. So now we are back to square one. We have looked at a ton of houses but nothing is fitting perfectly. We know the one is out there!

Better scoot for now!

Friday, 3 October 2008


Our family!
What a cutie!
Zion sleeping in his swing.
So big!
Zion and his Nanny Noo Noo (his great-grandma).

I need to update everyone on Zion's progress. He is just growing up so quickly!

Well, he is rolling all over the place now. Usually he just rolls once--from the front to the back or the back to the front--but today he was on his tummy, rolled to his back, then back to his tummy! What a mover and a shaker! He favors rolling to the left, but I have noticed the past couple days that he is starting to get the hang of rolling to the right too. So I have to be careful where I put him now. Our little patch of carpet on the hardwood seems to be shrinking everyday!

His little personality is starting to show through too. He giggles and talks to us all the time and is not afraid to let us know when he is unhappy in his carseat. But he remains a cuddler and it absolutely thrills us when his legs and arms go crazy when he sees us.
He has also found his fingers the past few weeks. He loves sucking on his index and middle fingers of his left hand. It is helping him self-soothe which is great because he has to put himself to sleep now. His little tongue likes to lick everything now too. It is such a joy watching him develop. We truly think he is a gift to us.

I do have some bad news, though. We found out a couple weeks ago that Zion has metopic cranio synistosis. I'll explain. . . . The skull is made up of many bones. The bones in a baby's head are not fused so they can go through the birth canal and the brain can grow. Well, the split between the two bones in the front of Zion's skull fused in the womb. This is just a fluke. They don't know why it occurs. Sometimes children (with other bones than the ones Zion has fused) also have cognitive or other deformities. But Zion is just fine. What all this means is that he has to have surgery in February. It is a serious surgery and we have cried many tears over thinking about him undergoing a procedure at 9 months that most never go through at all. He will have to have a blood transfusion so when the time gets closer, we will ask people to donate for him. The good news, though, is that this is a one-time fix. After the surgery, he will have yearly check-ups until he is six but that is it.

All in all, we are hesitant to tell people about this because we don't want them to treat him as if he is broken. He is just fine--not in pain, growing just perfectly, and cute, cute, cute! We would covet your prayers as we begin this difficult road.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Where Does Time Go?

This has been my question lately. Know the answer?? Not me!

It seems like even though Zion and I get to stay home together, the days just fly by and I don't have much to prove for them. Maybe part of it is that we are not yet in our own place yet so I don't have those crafty-home-improvement things to do. I really miss my sewing maching and all my crafting supplies!

And I REALLY miss all my kitchen supplies!!!! I get a fun idea for dinner only to remember that my food processor is in storage. I am hosting a baby shower for Rachel next month and I am having to borrow basic kitchen stuff to make her cakes. Oh, my!

Anyway, I LOVE being home with Zion! I feel guilty about it because I have done nothing but work for the last 10 years (I cannot believe it has been 10 years since I graduated from college!!). It is fun watching him grow and change. He turned four months last week! Like I said, where does the time go? He is really rolling all over the place now and scootching his rump in the air in an effort to crawl. Everything goes in his mouth--including the clothing of anyone holding him. This moring he was licking my shirt instead of falling asleep. He is also talking up a storm. His noises just make me smile!

We are still waiting to hear about th house we offered on. Who knows when that will be!

Heath is getting the vision for his new job and we are liking the people in the church.

I went to my first MOPs meeting last week and that was fun. I think I will like that. I need some new friends up here with babies of their own.

Well, time to feed the babe again. I'll post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

I'm Back!

Zion in his Bumbo seat
Us in Heath's office
Heath at work
Grandpa Frank and Zion in Heath's office

Sorry it has been SO long since I have blogged. In the weeks since we have left Japan, lots has happened. We are currently living in Frank and Nora's condo on the Columbia River. We have a front row view of the river and a beautiful place to live. Thanks, Frank and Nora!

It is lovely being around family again! I am glad Zion will grow up with all his family members close around him. The shower that my mom and Rachel threw for Zion was so fun. It was wonderful seeing all my family and friends there.

We have also bought a car (a VW Passat) and made an offer on a house. We are just waiting on that now. It will be SO GREAT to finally settle into something of our own. We have been living on the bare minimum the last couple years and I cannot wait to unpack our boxes that are in storage and have a fully equipped kitchen again!

Zion is also growing like crazy. He is grabbing things more and having fun with all his new toys from his cousins. He is over 13 pounds now and 3 1/2 months old! He is so fun.

Heath has also started his new job. He is liking it and really enjoying getting to know his coworkers. He has been organizing the office and it looks great now.

Today is the first day of school and look at me. . .I am at home! I just love being with Zion all the time and feel so lucky to be a stay at home mom. Thanks for working for us, Heath! I imagine I will do some part time work in the future, but for now, I am relishing my time at home.

All in all, we are so happy to be home again. Japan was such a neat experience, but truly, there is no place like home!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Electric Hum

The Namerikawa family: Toru, Satomi, Yuki, Ryo, and us at our goodbye dinner My best Japanese friend, Satomi. She was such a gift from the Lord to me!

The stagnatingly hot weather has finally thrown its blanket over the island country of Japan. Imagine living in a sauna and you get the general idea of what we are living in here--but we are required to be fully clothed! Anyway, along with the wet heat come the cicadas. They have such a distinct and interesting sound. The first summer we were here I hated the sound because it was high-pitched and never-ending. But now I find it strangely soothing. It is a reminder that I am in a foreign land and to be thankful for the experiences I get to have here. Maybe I am growing sentimental as our time here comes to a close.

Other news:

*Today (July 18th) was Heath's last day of work.

*Heath has become the local superstar by signing his autograph for his students and getting a daily smattering of gifts from both students and coworkers.

*We are moving out in two days and flying home in four!

*My brother will be 31 tomorrow! Happy birthday, Sam! (I am younger than him ;)!)

*My nephew is now 4! Happy birthday Brayden!

*We love Zion SOOOOO much and are so thankful that the Lord gave him to us!

*We will miss the Namerikawa family. They were such a blessing to us while we were here.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Two Months Old!

Guess who is two months old today?! I can't believe how time is flying by! Enjoy the pictures from months one and two!

Monday, 14 July 2008

One Week!

We are flying home exactly one week from today! We are pretty excited about that! Our flight will arrive in Portland at 8:30 am on July 22nd.

This is a pretty busy week concluding everything but by Sunday, we will be on the home-stretch. We'll move out of our apartment and stay the last couple days with Bryce, Colleen, and Elliot.

Get ready to meet Zion Sterling!

Friday, 11 July 2008


He loves bath time!

First piano lesson.

Recognize the outfit, Darc?

Jozu (pronounced jo-zoo) is a Japanese word that means "good job". I want to give out a couple Jozu Awards. . .

1. Heath gets this award for watching Zion last night while I went to my work goodbye dinner. It was the first time I had been away from Zion for more than 30 minutes. Well, Zion decided to unload his bowels in a big way and Heath had to clean it up, which I hear was no small feat. So, good job Heath!

2. Baby Zion gets this award for sleeping 8 hours last night! From 9:30pm-5:30am the little man slept like a champ! What a kid! He also gets this award for cooing and smiling which he has recently started doing more and more.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Five's the Number

Two weeks from today we fly home! We have to be moved out of our apartment two weeks from last Sunday so we are at the tail end of our time in our own place for a while.

Heath spent Sunday and yesterday packing up the things we wanted to send home. We sent five boxes yesterday. Heath took them to the post office just down the road from us in Zion's baby stroller. Zion hates it (it really is a piece of junk--hard to steer and not comfy for Z) so we thought we should get some use out of it. Can you just imagine seeing a guy walk down the road with a stroller full of boxes, or better yet, empty! Not like we don't already stick out here anyway!

And we can fly home with two checked bags each, plus one for Zion. Our bags cannot weigh more than 50 pounds and Zion's has to be under 22. So we get five suitcases and five boxes to do an international move with! You should see how much stuff we have gotten rid of!

Zion's eyelashes have just taken off in the last week. Now they look like his cousin's, Alex (and Madi, but not that dark). So cute! Plus, his birth hair is falling out and now he has a little smattering of really blond hair like his other cousins, Bailey and Brayden. So Zion is lucky to be so cute like all his cousins. Which, by the way, we are excited to see all our nieces and nephews! I cannot wait to meet Brody either (my brother's youngest son was born last August right after we left the US).

Heath has 8 days of work left at Nishikigaoka Junior High. He is excited to be finished and to move on to his new job, which he will start August 18th. Hopefully we will find a car and house quickly when we get home. We are going to buy a house! Yeah! Finally, we will get to have a house all our own!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

An Answered Prayer

The most perfect husband, father, and new Executive Director!

Heath got a job in Portland!! Yeah! He will soon be the Executive Director of the PUMP Summer Program for inner city youth. This means that he will be in charge of the summer program itself and raising funds for it. It sounds like the perfect job for Heath--a mix of creativity, comminication, and fun.

He first learned about this job in April and just this morning, July 2nd, the job was offered to him. We are so thankful to now have the "where" and "what" questions answered. We have been praying that the Lord would lead us to exactly the perfect location and job so we know that this is the answer to those many prayers we have had these two years. We really are so thankful that He has watched out for us.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Last Moments

Us next to the iconic lantern of Kenrokuen Garden
Zion enjoying his ride in the Baby Bjorn.

First smiles caught on the camera.

We are to the point now that everything is our "last". I just finished the last bottle of honey I will have to buy here for the last loaf of bread I will have to make in Japan. I bought TP for the last time the other day. We saw some friends that moved to Canada from here for a medical internship for the last time the other day. In the same vein, we went to Kenrokuen Garden for the last time Saturday.

When we first arrived in the blistering heat of Japan in August 2006, one of the first things we did was to visit this famed garden. It is one of the three largest and most famous gardens in Japan. As we walked through it this weekend, it was fun thinking about how we have adapted to life here in Japan and how much we have changed in these two years. We also never anticipated taking our first baby there either when we first visited.

Our friend, Colleen, also invited us to this ballet on Sunday. We went and took Zion who was an absolute gem! He did not make a peep for the whole performance! Anyway, one of the numbers was from Westside Story and it was the song "America". It was interesting watching them perform about something they have no clue about. Both of us got emotional thinking about getting to go home so soon! Heath is pretty sure he is "spoiling" for reverse culture shock just because he is so excited about going home. I am sure lots has changed since we left so I hope our transition back will be a smooth one.

Zion is also smiling more now. These are the first pictures we caught on the camera. He is still a little guy (Natasha, I put that Hanna Anderson outfit on him that you sent us and it is so huge! The pants would not even stay on) but full of cute personality.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Packing Up

Zion's one month check with our doctor (Tanaka sensei)
Zion sleeping. He always has his hands somewhere around his head.
After bath time.

Alexis, this is for you! What a little man outfit. (Please forgive my shower-fresh look here.) Us with Hitomi, Mai, Yukiko, Yoko, and the feast.

This past weekend we started packing up our apartment. We figure it is good to get most of the sorting finished before the weather gets so unbearable that we won't want to leave our one air conditioned room. Plus, we fly four weeks from today (July 22nd) and have to be completely moved out by the 20th so they can inspect the apartment.

We also went to a beach BBQ for a friend on Saturday. It was a little sad realizing that it was probably the last time we would ever see the Sea of Japan.

On Sunday we hung out with four of my favorite students. We met them at a video store (because finding a house here is impossible for the first time) and when they saw us about a block away, they started running! They were so excited to see us and Zion. That was so cute. Anyway, they had invited us over for Zion's birthday. One of their grandmas made this amazing feast! It was so delicious. These four girls are so cute. They made resolute promises to visit us in the US when they are in college. We'll see about that!

Zion is doing well. He just gets cuter by the day. We are getting used to each other and he has been sleeping like a champ at night lately too. What a kid! We cannot wait for everyone to meet him. Oh, by the way, his name pronunciation rhymes with "lion" or "Brian".

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Burying the Placenta

Heath digging the hole
Placenta in the hole
The marker where it is
Us under the bridge
The hospital labeled my placenta with my name. It was in the freezer the last month.

Okay, I hope this post does not gross anyone out too much. . .

When I was having my c-section, Heath asked to keep the placenta saying that it was an "American tradition". Well, if I had been conscious, we would not have had the thing in our freezer the past month, but he was in charge at that point. Since then we have been wondering what to do with the thing. Every time I would open the freezer for ice I was reminded of my organ hybernating in there. Gross! Heath wanted to get it back to the US, but besides curing it in salt or sending it in a liquid, he could not come up with a solution.

So we were forced to come up with a creative way to leave it in Japan. On Saturday we went to Heath's favorite spot in Japan--the Fushimi River right by his school--and left it in a hole there. I am sure all of our neighbors wondered what we foreigners were up to when we trotted off with a shovel in hand.

Now the piece of flesh that attached Zion to me will forever remain in Japan. Not many people can make the claim of having a "pound of flesh" removed from them and buried as a sentimental gesture!