End of the year

31 December 2007

Well it has honestly been what feels like a short year for me. I suppose that any time I am gone underway for almost half of it it should be short. I am looking forward to 2008 of course, as there are many more adventures to be had, and the biggest one my wonderful wife. I guess in a way I do look at our new life together as an adventure but also as we grow together I am curious to see how we will mature and change throughout the years, and I know it has already begun as I look back on a year spent with her. It's really fantastic to me, and humbling in a way. I suppose it's selfish to have thought I would never need another person in my life like I have now, but I can honestly say it has been the best thing for me and I have grown and changed for the better because of her. All in all, I look forward to another year with God in our lives, and striving to become more like Jesus. It has never been easy, but I'm glad to have someone with me again this year.

Christmas was a great time for Kristi and I, although we spent last Christmas together this year was our own as a family. We may have spoiled each other a bit, but alas that is how a first Christmas should be I think! =D

We have been busy the past few days preparing for a few new changes in our life, and that is always exciting but a bit stressful. It's been amazing to see how like minded Kristi and I are on things, despite being so different. I appreciate her help in the littlest things, and in the big ones!

Well time to eat some dinner, a few more hours and the new year will be upon us!

Thanks for all your comments and kind words friends, we appreciate them! Have a Happy New Year!

december in japan!

27 December 2007

hello! hope everyone had a nice christmas! sorry its been a while since we posted, seems like we have been going non-stop since ben got home - he has been busy working everyday, and i had my first week of full-time teaching last week! (crazy!)

i was like a little kid on christmas morning, waking up before ben and trying to get him to get up to go open presents with me. haha. 2 of my favorite things that ben got me: 1. a really amazing teacher bag that i can take all my school stuff around in! =) and 2. a "sun jar" - its a mason jar with a little solar panel in it, you put it in front of a window during the day to collect the sunlight, then when it gets dark at night, it glows with the sun that it collected! so you can have sun all day long! isn't that neat? he is amazing, and so sweet. =)
here is the bag:
crumpler bag

and here is the sun jar:
sun jar

ben got his license at the end of last week, and we have been both driving to get more comfortable. on christmas day we took a treck out to the other housing - called "hario" where some of our friends live, (20 minute drive each way) and spent a few hours cooking, talking and hanging out with some of the people from ben's ship. =)

also, its been unusually warm here this week... so much so that we were actually able to go to the zoo the other day! we walked there, the sun was shining, and it was in the 60s! sure didnt feel like decemeber! the ishdake zoo and botanical gardens is only 2km (a little over a mile) from our apartment, so it took about 20 minutes to walk there - and even less to walk back when ben found us a shortcut! =) so here are some pictures i took... (ben has more pictures on his flickr)
Us again





A rose is a rose

Enjoying a nice afternoon...

well, that ended up being kind of long! oops! all-in-all, we are doing well... constantly reminded of God's goodness and faithful provision, enjoying this time we get to actually be in Japan at the same time, and missing all of our wonderful friends and family back home. hope you all have a blessed start to the new year! =D

next week...

06 December 2007

ben will be home!!!!!!!!!! =D
i'm so excited. i'm trying to do last minute things that i've been putting off or just too busy to worry about since he left (haha) and i can't WAIT til he walks in the door and sees the apartment decorated for christmas.... and i can give him a hug!! =D
i got my hair colored yesterday, too.. and had her straighten it for fun:

new hair!

i start teaching full-time a week from monday - and i'm in there a lot this week to start transitioning in. kind of crazy! please keep us in your prayers as we'll both be pretty busy for the next couple of weeks. hope everyone has a great weekend! i'll post pictures of us together once he gets here, too. =)

ps: i started mailing a few christmas presents today! they say tuesday is the deadline for them to get to the states in time. only 18 days left! crazy! =)

a saturday in japan...

01 December 2007

as the first of december comes to a close here in japan, its just starting for all of you back in the states! that's still so weird to think about. =)
things i did today:

-drove on the left side of the road. =)

-participated in a craft show put on by some navy wives and sold some of my cards.
my table

-made a new friend - melanie - the girl i shared a table with.
rice filled pillows...

-bought and ate some "mikan" - little japanese oranges. =)

-practiced my chopsticks by eating leftover fried rice with them for dinner

-did some online christmas shopping (gotta love amazon.com!)

-learned how to say "how are you?" in japanese -- "ogenki desu ka?"

-missed ben.

but good news! he's coming back in less than 2 weeks now!!!!!! woo hoo! i cant wait. =) hope you all have a good saturday! 24 days til christmas....

vroom vroom...

19 November 2007

well, life's been a crazy busy roller coaster these days!
i've been subbing mostly every day, and then trying to make cards in the evenings, and still trying to relax sometime in there too! haha.
but our big news for this week - WE GOT A CAR!!!!! its nothing too pretty, but it was a GREAT deal, so i'm proud of it. its a 93 toyota corolla. i bought it today and drove it home! (after i got insurance, of course). =)
here's a few pictures so you can see:
our car!

our car!

i was pretty nervous to drive on the left side of the road, but so far its been ok (all like 1 mile that i drove around base and back to our apartment! haha). it will definitely be nice to have as it was about 40 degrees this morning while i was walking to school! the winter weather is starting to set in, so i'm thankful that the Lord provided us with this car at just the right time.

other than that, not too much to tell. i'll be doing a craft show on december 1st on base, i got asked to sell some of my cards there, so we will see what comes of it - it should be a fun time, i hope! and i am going to decorate our christmas tree this weekend and am excited for that.

they really are into christmas here in sasebo! more than i thought they would be! when i was walking around out in town a few nights ago, i was pleasantly surprised to hear christmas music playing and see lights everywhere:


and i bought this cause i was feeling festive: (hehe)
getting into the spirit...

ben's still out at sea, so keep praying for him. we're praying they are home in time for christmas, and we are looking forward to spending the holiday together. =) hard to believe this time last year there was a ring under the tree for me! much has changed, and it's neat to see where God has brought us in just a year's time. hope you all are doing well and remembering all the things to be thankful for this week. i sure am thankful for all of you! =) happy thanksgiving from japan!

cards galore...

11 November 2007

so i finished with my big order of christmas cards this weekend! woo hoo!
and here are some of my favorites that i've made over the past few weeks...

merry christmas

ho ho ho

happy holidays


and here's one i made last night for a non-christmas order, too: =)

hope everyone had a nice weekend! i'm enjoying having today off of school for veterans day... the only thing that could make it better is if ben was home!! =/

big news!

04 November 2007

well hello friends!
i have been waiting til ben and i could talk and make the final decision before i shared with all of you... but this week while i was subbing at the elementary school (on base), the principal interviewed me tuesday (on the spot - caught me totally offguard!) and wednesday the HR office called and offered me the job! -- a full-time position to start in january, because the teacher is leaving in december. so after freaking out and shedding some tears and sending up lots of prayers and talking to my sweet husband and my parents, we have decided that it's a great opportunity that the Lord kind of just laid in my lap, so i'm going to take it! i am so thankful that ben and i were able to talk yesterday! and they wanted my answer by today, so i told them this morning that i accept (even though i'm scared out of my mind!!) =) i really feel like the Lord blessed me with this, because i absolutely HATE interviewing, but i didnt have any time to stress over it because she interviewed me on the spot without any warning, and then they called the next day to offer me the job! i know it's going to be a huge learning opportunity for me, but i'm thankful in how the Lord worked out all the details. =) so yeah! you guys can pray for me as i start preparing to take over. it's a combined 5th/6th grade class, and i will hopefully get to meet the kids and see the class and talk with the current teacher sometime in the next 2 weeks while i'm there subbing. =) God is good, and this will DEFINITELY keep me busy this spring when ben is gone again. just wanted to share with you all! now the next thing is for us to buy a car so we dont have to keep walking to work everyday! hehe.

ps: i know you've seen this picture, but i think like it portrays quite well how i feel about this big new job and undertaking! haha. =D

hope everyone enjoyed their extra hour of sleep!!

week 3...

02 November 2007

3 weeks almost down, about 6 more to go... and well, its been a busy and hectic week!
i went in for my first day of subbing at the elementary school on tuesday, and before i left that day had already been asked to sub wednesday and thursday of this week, plus a 2 week special ed placement for an aide who's having surgery on her wrist! so between now and thanksgiving, i will be at school everyday! =) but what a blessing, because i've really enjoyed it... and even gotten over my intimidation of doing high school. (i did high school science and PE this week!) i told my mom that i keep forgetting... i keep getting older, but they stay the same age! haha. =)

also i've been keeping busy making cards! i have gotten a few smaller orders to work on in the midst of the 200 card order, and have really enjoyed it! this is one of my favorites of all the ones i've done so far:
let it snow...

and, i'm writing this blog to you on our new DSL connection! for those of you who have tried to talk to us on the phone over the last few months, you know it's been spotty at best. =/ but this connection already seems to be quite a bit faster than the cable we had here, so i am so thankful! it's definitely worth the extra cost if it means we get to talk to all you, who we love!

ben and i haven't had much of a chance to talk this week because either the ship phones/email have been down, or our connection made it hard for him to hear me... so that's been a bummer. and work is still super busy and stressful for him, and he keeps getting woken up in the day time and then having to stay up from then until his night shift is over. so pray for strength and rest for him, if you think about it. he's such a trooper and does such a good job. i'm so proud of him. =)

well, just wanted to update! hope everyone has a nice weekend!
for ben.

one week down...

19 October 2007

eight more to go! oh how depressing. haha.

but on a brighter note, this first week was definitely better than the last first week that he was away (back in may). i was telling ben before he left that last time i was just AFRAID. i wasnt sure i was going to be able to do it! but at least this time, the fear is gone because i know we can do it. it sucks, and we hate it, but at least i know we CAN make it... and thats because the Lord gives us strength each day to get through.

part of the reason this week was a bit better too, is that i made a new friend here! her name is jen, and she is a sister in Christ and has been a big blessing already. she and her husband sam live here, about 5 minutes from our apartment, and have a precious little 10 month old named lola. =) jen took me up to this great lookout where we could see ben's ship in the water as they were leaving... so here are a few pictures:

this is me: (ben's ship is behind my head!)
Overlook 2

and this is jen:
Overlook 1

also, i just keep busy trying to get this big christmas card order finished, and i called the school a few days ago and finally got a few days to sub at the end of this month and during next month! so that is a big blessing. =)
here is my favorite christmas card that i have made so far:
merry christmas trees

as for ben... he is doing alright... staying super busy with school and work and sleep. thats pretty much all he has time for. (and eating!) let me know if you want the ship's address so you can write him, because i know that mail really brightens his day! and we definitely still covet your prayers as these times are always challenging. here we are right before he left... on a "date night" =)
Date Night 4

lately i have gotten into reading a passage first in nasb, and then in "the message". sometimes i think it really gives a neat perspective to a sometimes familiar verse. well i read psalm 27 in the message, and here is verses 13-14:
"I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God." =) hope you all are seeing God's goodness and staying with Him. have a good weekend!


10 October 2007

it's been a while since we updated...
we have been busy it seems since we got home last week!
and we have been jetlagged as well, going to bed before 9pm! =)

we had a blast in california, and we are so thankful it all worked out!
just wish we could have seen more of you! =) maybe next time....

ben is busy getting ready to go underway again. BLAH.
we hate this time. =( but we have really been enjoying ourselves the past few days and are trying to soak in the moments we DO get to be together. God is good.
ben and kristi

i have been staying busy making cards because i got a big order for christmas cards! while we were in california we were able to stock up on a bunch of supplies i had run out of, so its been fun to dive back into that. =) here is one of my favorites that i made a few days ago:

also, in relation to the cards - while i was traveling and ben was still in cali, he was so sweet and made me a website! so check it out if you have some time! =)

oh, and i said i was going to try to blog about all my crazy travel adventures. i dont even know where to start! i took military "space-available" flights starting in okinawa, japan... and on my way TO california, i stayed a night in guam, in a hotel room with people i had just met that day... used oxygen masks on one flight for 2 hours, had the engine die in another plane just as we were about to leave... stayed in the hawaii terminal for about 7 hours, and spent the night in the sacramento airport all to get to ben 4 days later! hahaha. =)

THEN on the way back TO japan i missed another flight and ended up flying to hawaii again and getting stuck there for 2 days... but i made a friend with the girl and i who were in the same boat, trying to get back to the same place - her name is michelle - here is a picture of us on our way back:
my travel buddy

overall, it was definitely the craziest travel adventure i have ever done - especially by myself, but it gave me a boost of confidence that i CAN do it by myself if i ever need to do it again. =) but as for now, i am glad to have a break from flying for at least a few weeks! haha.

anyway, other than that we are pretty good. just wanted to say hi from japan!
miss you all!

parents, pretty weather, and... pictures!

24 September 2007

so we are still having a grand old time in california. the weather has been great, and last week we were able to see my parents and brother, and bens mom! =)
we also checked out a surfing contest on the boardwalk of the beach - at this place called "the wavehouse". ben got some neat shots of that.
we had good food, played cards, played with some birds, went to the beach, had a tour of the USS Midway... it was great to get to visit with our families that we hadnt seen in so long. so here are some pictures!


Free Flight Aviary - San Diego, CA

Free Flight Aviary - San Diego, CA

Free Flight Aviary - San Diego, CA

USS Midway

USS Midway

USS Midway

Us at the USS Midway

we had a great time! check out www.flickr.com/photos/benbengraves and the san diego, ca set to see bens pictures from the wavehouse, and all our other pictures. =) hope you guys are doing well! we love and miss you!

The Happiest Place on Earth!

18 September 2007

i know its been a little while since we blogged, but its because we have been staying busy ever since i landed here in san diego! ben and i are having a GREAT time, and have been able to go do lots of fun things...

this past friday, we drove over to arizona to visit jess and jodie, and went to one of those pottery places where you paint your own pottery... here are a few pictures, we had a fun time!

Kristi and Jodie

Jodie and Grant

us with aprons again

and then sunday we took a trip to the happiest place on earth, DISNEYLAND! =) and we worked it out for charissa to go with us, too! (one of the girls from bens ship who is here went with us too) so here are some more pictures from our adventures...

Kristi and I

Kristi and I

Charissa and Goofy

Charissa, Sara, Kristi and Mary Poppins and Bert

Tea cup ride!

Kristi and Charissa


All of us with Minnie Mouse and Pluto

as always, there are lots more pictures on bens flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/benbengraves

hope you guys are doing good! my parents get in tonight and are staying through friday, and then bens mom gets in saturday and stays with us til sunday, and we are very much looking forward to seeing them! =) more pictures to come, i am sure.