And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas to ALL...

We had such a fabulous Christmas this year!!  Nothing special...just stayed home...but having Christmas with kids (singular in our case) takes the holiday to a whole new level!!  Dominik is so much fun to have around, and watching him experience and get into the magic of Christmas is indescribable.

To celebrate this joyous holiday we opened presents from each other, skyped with family, ate a TON of candy and junk food, watched Christmas movies, ate more junk food, had a delicious fondue dinner with some great friends, ate more junk food, and rounded off the night with a friendly game of unwrap the present (lots of duct tape involved).  Despite the fact that no one has family here, we all just make each other our family. 


We feel so blessed to be able to celebrate our Saviors birth and rejoice in his life and sacrifice on our behalf.  We hope that as we enter this new year we may do so with a desire to emulate Christ in our everyday actions and strive to be more like he was and is. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

This year for Christmas Eve we tried to instill the spirit of giving into our oh so selfish - age least how we justify - little 3 1/2 year old.  He is enthralled with the idea of getting gifts, and has yet to grasp the idea of giving them.  So, we woke up on Christmas Eve and headed down to a local psychiatric hospital to give gifts and goodies as well as sing carols to some of the residents. 

 When we got to the hospital we all gathered around the residents and sang some of our favorite Christmas songs and hymns.  The residents tried to "sing" along but I still have yet to figure out if they were singing them in Japanese, or just moaning along.  It was very sweet and they all seemed to really enjoy it.  After the singing we passed out a gift to each resident along with some homemade Christmas goodies.  TJ and I were optimistic that this would provide a change of heart for Dominik when he saw how happy it made the residents, but in fact it did quite the opposite.  Our first gift delivery was to a very old lady in a wheel chair and instead of handing the gift to her and saying "Merry Christmas," he started crying saying that it was his present and then tried to take it back.  The poor lady felt awful for taking a gift from a sweet little boy so she then tried to give the gift back to him.  We insisted that she keep it, and were thoroughly embarrassed at how our child was acting. 

The rest of the outing turned out much better when Dominik paired with a young man from our branch to pass out the cookies we made the night prior.  He enjoyed making sure each person had a cookie, and lucky for us, Jonathon Cheney (the boy from our branch) was a huge sport in making sure Dominik got to participate in the passing out of goodies. 

After we left the hospital we hurried home to get ready for our Christmas Eve dinner at the Fry house.  They are our great friends in the district, and TJ gets to work with Stuart Fry at the Hansen Dental Clinic.  We typically go out to eat for Christmas Eve, but when we heard that Stuart Fry was BBQing a turkey for dinner...the offer was too good to refuse.

Dinner turned out great, and the company was even better.  We played a fun 12 days to Christmas singing game, and then the kids (and some "big" kids) acted out the nativity.  It was so special to get to spend this beloved holiday with our Okinawan family!!

When we got home I had a grand plan to open up our "Christmas Eve Box" which is a tradition I was hoping to start this year.  I made the family matching jammies, bought a Christmas movie, and a ton of Christmas goodies.  Unfortunately Dominik fell asleep at 6:30pm and absolutely refused to be woken up!  So...this year we will do our Christmas Eve Box on Christmas night...and then continue the tradition each Christmas Eve from here on out (pending our children stay awake for the event). 

Now just to set up for Christmas and get ready for Dominik to wake up :)

Presents that Santa dropped off

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Southeast Botanical Gardens

Getting into the Christmas spirit has never been so difficult for me; it just doesn't feel like Christmas.  The temperatures rarely get below 60 degrees and the sun is usually shining, no one has Christmas lights up, the smell of Christmas trees doesn't permeate the air from all the local tree farms, and holiday baking is made very difficult by the fact that food is expensive and a lot of specialty food items are hard to come by.  Lucky for us, we have made such great friends that it feels like we have family close, and we have been able to follow through on most of our holiday traditions no matter how "creative" we have to get.  Looking at Christmas lights is definitely not the exception.

This year we heard about the Southeast Botanical Gardens putting on a pretty great light show.  Their lights were compared to that of a Zoo lights, and was supposed to be a great way to soak up a lot of lights while enjoying a lot of spectacular plants and flowers.  We joined together with the Laytons and the Martinos and got in a great evening of Christmas lights.

It turns out that the light show actually runs through March.  This explains the reason for all the pink lights and hearts :) there's always rom for more love right!!

After the light show we headed over to a local Japanese ladies house that she converts for the month of December into a restaurant.  The food is average at best, the atmosphere is pretty cool.  It's probably every Christmas decoration ever created stuffed into this very small Japanese house.  There is Christmas music playing in every room and we even got to eat on the floor (seemed cool at first, but at 34 weeks pregnant it didn't take long for me to start loosing feeling in my feet).  We all enjoyed it none-the-less and it is somewhere we will make a point of going every December that we are in Okinawa!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

2013 Finlayson Family Christmas Newsletter

This has been quite the year for our family.  We moved to the other side of the world, grew our family by one, and are learning to really embrace the islander life-style (this came a bit more naturally for TJ and Dominik).  

This year TJ completed his residency and started working as a real credentialed dentist at Camp Hansen which is in the northern part of Okinawa.  He enjoys working on his patients there, but really enjoys getting off by 4 o’clock to go snorkeling with Dominik just outside our front door.  He has also thoroughly explored the local golf courses on the island and started quite the shell collection.

Breanna is finally starting to explore the island a bit more now that she is through the woods and into her third trimester of pregnancy.  Living through the heat and humidity while being pregnant is one thing; living down-wind from the local pig farm takes morning sickness to a whole new level.   She is trying to soak up as much as she can now, in preparation for hermit life with a new born.  

Dominik has recently started preschool and in addition to learning how to hold a pencil properly, is making lots of new friends, and speaks a little bit of Japanese (sometimes it’s understandable…other times it is mere gibberish).  He is still very into superheros and can’t seem to figure out why his parents won’t let him change his name to Wolverine, although he has named his baby brother “Peter Parker-Spiderman” which is actually a viable option at this point.

Baby #2 is growing at a rapid pace and is on schedule to make his debut around February 4th.  At this point we are sticking with the name “Parker Willes” Dominik gets credit for the first name, and Willes is a family name from the Papenfuss line…keeping it in the family.  As much as we are looking forward to meeting this special baby, we are trying to take advantage of life right now with no diapers, sleeping through the night, and only one child to be mindful of (sometimes even that proves to be a struggle).

Despite being away from family through this holiday season, we feel incredibly blessed to be where we are.  We are mindful of Heavenly Father and his bounteous blessings on our family, and are so grateful for our Savior and His birth.  We love this time of year and the opportunity it provides to remember how we should emulate His life the whole year through.  We wish you all the merriest of Christmases and hope you know how much we love and appreciate all you do for our family.

Love the Finlaysons’

TJ, Breanna, Dominik, and “Peter-Parker-Spiderman”