the countdown's on!

30 December 2009

not only is it new year's eve here, we also have an official countdown to when we leave japan!

in case you didn't see the one over on the side, here's a new ticker i made just for fun: (feeling a little pirate-ish today i guess?!)

in some ways it's hard to believe it's been almost 3 years since we moved here! and even though it's a little overwhelming to think about, we're very much looking forward to the new adventures we'll get to experience in 2010. =)


christmas break!

22 December 2009

i'm officially on break from school right now, and have been working on keeping the house cleaner (at least trying to!) :), making cards for an order, making christmas cookies, checking things off my to-do list, and trying to enjoy a little down time! sadly ben still has to work this week and next, but he's been getting out pretty decent times the last few days, and although he does have duty (sleeping on the ship) christmas eve, i'll get to pick him up christmas morning and spend the day with my sweetie! :) so i really can't complain. and it's our last christmas to be spent in japan away from our families, so we're glad about that too.

times have been a little crazy as we are ending up our time here. we'll be moving back in just a couple of months, and we are experiencing all the emotions that come along with a big change such as that! (scared, excited, nervous, overwhelmed...) we are trusting God to direct and guide us into this next chapter of our married life, and if you think about it, please keep us in your prayers as we prepare for our big cross-country move back to the US! :) hopefully we can see much more of all of you in 2010.

merry christmas from the graves!

it's beginning to look...

28 November 2009

a lot like christmas!

ben and i have enjoyed our break from work and set up the christmas tree yesterday, made christmas cookies and decorated them today. =) (yum!)

it seems crazy to me that it's almost december! hope you're all enjoying your weekends and recovering from your turkey comas! hehe

happy thanksgiving!

26 November 2009

we had ours yesterday, you're having yours today :)
a few things i'm thankful for this year:

-ben is HOME! he made it home a few days ago, and we got to spend thanksgiving together for the first time since we moved here! =) it's so nice to have him around, and it won't be much longer til he won't have to leave for months at a time anymore! WOO HOO!! =)

-this is our last thanksgiving in japan! it hasn't really felt like thanksgiving to me, all 3 years we've been here and away from family and friends, and we're looking forward to being in the states next year to celebrate =) this year, though - we were invited over by some very nice friends we've made here and were able to eat turkey with them, and we're thankful for that as well!

-God is good all the time. we are fast approaching the end of our time in Japan, and while we're so thankful for this, there are a lot of unknowns as well - but we are thankful that God is faithful and we continue to trust in Him.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING friends! we love you! <3

field trip time!

18 November 2009

it's been a busy month so far - can't believe next week is thanksgiving!
we took our kindergarten classes to the aquarium today and had a great time!
here are a few pictures :)

we got to see all kinds of fish and turtles and sea creatures



i kept thinking he was making a fish face: :)

we also got to see the fun dolphin show!

and then we ate lunch and took a group shot before heading back to school.

for this month - on facebook - i took a challenge to write something i'm thankful for each day as my status, a good thing to do always but especially this time of year as we get ready to celebrate thanksgiving next week. it's a good practice for me in general too as sometimes it's easy to get sad thinking about how tough things are or how much i miss my husband. i've found it to be a very useful exercise for me to try each morning to focus on something positive that the Lord has blessed me with, because there are so many things that fall into that category! hopefully you're reminded of things to be thankful for today as well. :)

here's something else to be thankful for, in Psalm 121:
5The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

october fun in mrs. graves class

01 November 2009

on friday we wore our costumes to school and all my kids dressed up except one! (so we dressed him up so he wouldn't feel left out) :) i was a butterfly again...

here we are!

in other news, ben left a few days ago.. :( boo hoo!

it's been busy at school lately - this week is the end of first quarter for us which means teacher work days and parent conferences... "fun" :P

i've been reminiscing the last few days as i've been here hanging out by myself, how this is the third october i've spent in japan. in some ways it's hard to believe we've been here almost 3 years, and in other ways it feels longer. we've sure had a lot of adventures and changes and ups and downs (as life always does, i suppose). thank you for praying for us as we get ready for another big change and leave japan for new adventures!

happy november!

long overdue...

21 October 2009 of my classroom, and a few more from hawaii.
it's been very busy since we got back, and i've also been sick since last week...
sorry for the delay! we had a wonderful vacation - it was hard getting right back into "real" life.

this year i only have 12 kids, which is a nice change of pace from last years 23! and i have a ladybug themed room... as you can see from the word wall...

and bulletin board...

here are a few fun shots from hawaii - our camera got sand in it while we were in maui and stopped working, so we unfortunately didn't get as many pictures as we wanted... but we had lots of fun relaxing and ben and i went on an awesome snorkeling adventure which was very neat. we also saw a magic dinner show, went to the polynesian cultural center, visited pearl harbor, shopped at the swap meet, and went mini golfing that was with black lights and neon golfballs! we ate lots of good food and had an amazing view from the hotel. it was a great vacation :)

here we are...

hope all is well with all of you - october is a busy time at school, and has been busy for ben too. he'll be out at sea again before we know it :( but i'm so thankful we've had a good amount of time together the last 2 months!!!! love from japan....

guess where we are!

27 September 2009

...on our vacation in HAWAII!!!!!! :D

we met my parents here saturday morning and are having a nice stay here in honolulu!
yesterday we hit up the north shore, dole plantation for some yummy dole whips, ate at a local mexican restaurant... and today we visited pearl harbor and saw the uss arizona memorial, took a shopping trip to the huge "swap meet" and ben and i visited the beach for a little fun while my parents relaxed and read books. what a nice time! it's the first real "vacation" ben and i have ever taken since we got married, and we're enjoying it! we're headed out soon to eat some yummy steak for dinner, and tomorrow we go to the polynesian cultural center before we leave on our island hop to maui on tuesday.

just wanted to check in and say hello from hawaii! :)

here are a couple of pictures as always...

he's back!

01 September 2009

yay!! my sweet hubby got home about 2 weeks ago, and it's so wonderful to have him home :)

schools starting up and he's studying for his next computer test, thus we've both been busy working bees. we can't wait for our vacation at the end of this month!

here's a few pictures of us from this weekend...

i'll try to take some of my classroom soon.

happy end of summer from japan!

summer trip 2009

07 August 2009

well, it was a fun few weeks. it was jam packed with shopping and seeing people, and it was such a blessing to have a change of pace for a little while, especially while ben is away. the only thing missing on the trip was BEN! it felt strange to be there without him, and i'm glad that won't be the case much longer. when he's gone, a part of me is just missing - no matter where i am or who i'm with.

but speaking of ben! he's amazing. he passed another computer certification test and is already working towards another one! he's plugging along and will hopefully be home soon. i'm sooo proud of him! he works so hard and does so much. i can't wait to have him home!!!!!!!

i <3 ben! :)

as always, here are some pictures. i took a TON!
if you go HERE you can see the rest, but i will just summarize and pick a few to share now.

i left on jul 6, having an overnight layover in korea (:X no fun!) and arriving in atlanta on tues jul 7. i was a zombie! my parents picked me up and i spent a few days with them, then thurs night i flew to north carolina to surprise the charity and jan and join them and charissa for their beach getaway. here are a few pictures from that trip. it was so refreshing to get to spend time with dear friends! i hadn't seen charity or jan since our wedding over 2 years ago!


beach weekend :)

lunch at "fishy fishy"

fun times!

sunday afternoon we even got the treat of meeting up with rachel thorpe for lunch, and having jan's boys come up for the day! i hadn't met matthew yet. what a cutie!!

girl's lunch


sunday night we met up with gwen and RK and i got to spend a few days hanging out with them while joel was away on a pastor's retreat. what a sweet time! we went shopping at our favorite: TARGET, watched girly movies, and had long talks on the porch. it did my heart a world of good. love you gwen!! :)

charissa, charity, RK, gwen

me and gwen :)

look at this precious smiley riley!
smiley riley :)

we took RK to a grassy spot outside starbucks and did a photo shoot. there were too many to choose from! but here's 2 :)

sweet girl!


i headed back to atlanta on the 15th and spent 2 weeks hanging out in atlanta with my parents. mom and i did lots of shopping :) dad and i went to have thai lunch, and it was great spending time with them. i also spent the night with yammie (my sweet grandma!) and we got together with my aunt, uncles and cousins for an evening, too.



here's my mom with her brothers and yammie
brett, mom, barry, yammie

and yammie with a few of her grandkids
yammie and grandkids

my parents and i met up with my friend Adrian (who i've been friends with since 8th grade) and got to meet her sweet TWIN girls!
with adrian and her twins!

i also had the pleasure of getting to spend a day with kent and brook, and a photo shoot of sweet lilley! the lighting was perfect and we got some great shots here are a few of my favorites from that! brook and i spent the evening catching up while lilley slept and kent was away at a lock-in, it was a great time!

with suters on game night


isnt she precious?
ahh, feel the breeze :)

this is definitely my favorite picture from the whole shoot, (maybe the whole summer). her eyes just sparkle! she's such a sweetie.

jul 28 i boarded yet another plane to head to arizona to visit jodie and jess. more shopping, eating out, helping jess set up her classroom, an afternoon in the pool where i became a lobster, and lots of laughter! it was a quick visit, but such a fun one. i also did one more photo shoot - this time of sweet cambria joy! i was so glad to get to meet her!

look at this grin! she's adorable.
love her grin!



here's the 3 muskateers:
bffs :)

and here's cambria with sunburned aunt kristi :)
cambria and red aunt kristi :)

i got back aug 1 and spent the last few days in atlanta before boarding the looong flight back on wednesday. now i'm back in japan, feeling jetlagged, counting down the days til ben gets home. school starts back in a couple of weeks, and once it does i'm praying the time will fly and our life in japan will be wrapping up! Lord willing we will be finished here this coming spring, and heading on to new adventures. :)

so that's my trip in a nutshell! i got to do lots of shopping, eating out (i started my diet yesterday! haha), visiting, chatting and lovin' on sweet babies! it was great to see some of you, and hopefully we'll get to see even more of you in 2010! thanks for all the love, support, prayers and encouragement you've been to us over the last 2 1/2 years! :)


17 July 2009

go here to see what i got to do last weekend :)

God is so good!

last weekend i was able to pull off a HUGE surprise to my sweet girlfriends and show up in time to go to the beach with them! i'm in the states for a couple of weeks while Ben is away, and it's been exactly what my lonely heart has needed. the Lord provided some great plane ticket deals, and i've been able to see lots of friends in the last week that i've been in the states.

pray for my sweet hubby as he's working super hard, and that we can get through these next weeks before we can be together again. i'll be back in japan the beginning of august.

ps: i can't put any of my pictures up now, but i'll post a ton when i get back.

happy summer! :)

it's beginning to look a lot like....

04 July 2009

christmas?! well, not really! haha. i say that only because i got my first christmas card order on friday! so i busted out all my christmas paper that has been tucked away since last year, and got started. here are a few i've done so far (the order is for 50)...

cmas 2

cmas 3

christmas card order

funny side note - her name is "MERRY" (spelled just that way) - seems fitting for christmas cards, doesn't it? :) she is actually my kindergarten aid at school, and is a big help to me in the classroom! we got together on friday to do a little classroom shopping at the wonderful 100 yen store, and when i showed her the cards i've been making, she told me she wanted some! she also ordered 25 thank you cards, and i've been working on those too:

ty 3

what a blessing! the Lord is so good, and knew i needed something like this to put my energy into. He always provides. this summer has been tough and exhausting emotionally, but the Lord is teaching me, and using this time to show me i still need to work on being dependent on HIM alone.

ben has had a few days off this week to relax, and got to go snorkeling the other day! he said it was very neat :) i'm always thankful when he gets a break cause he works so hard!

happy 4th! i spent the 4th here working on cards as i didn't really feel up to a big crowd, and we can actually see the fireworks from our apartment, so i watched them from the window in my pjs. exciting stuff, i know. :P hope you all enjoyed your holiday! love from japan...