One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mai Yoshikawa

17 months ago when we flew into Seattle from Osaka we thought we'd be on a plane back to Japan in eight weeks max. Ha! You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. I can't believe things have worked out this way. 17 months ago I would not have believed anyone saying that we'd still be in Seattle more than a year later. Regardless of what I thought we'd be doing now, we aren't. Ha! It just makes me smile the way life seems to work out better than you ever imagined.

When our dreams of living in Japan ended we started lining out a plan to bring Japan to us. Two weeks ago our first Japanese guest arrived from Osaka. Mai Yoshikawa is 49 and she would kill me if she knew I told you that! Mai is here to improve her fluency in English, experience American culture, and shop! On her first night with us she asked why we were going to bed at 11 PM? In Japan, shopping can be done around the clock and Mai sleeps an average of only four hours a night to accommodate her favorite pastime. She would shop all day and all night if I would let her...but that wouldn't improve her fluency now would it? I know, I'm no fun at all.
Mai at Rain & Co. Salon/Dayspa

Mai has been working hard on basic vocabulary, verb conjugation and overcoming the overwhelming desire to say everything in Japanese. I'm so proud of her. Along with English lessons she has been able to attend the Pacific Northwest Ballet's Nutcracker, spend a day at the spa, workout American-style, shop at five different Malls, try Mexican food for the first time ever and attend several American Christmas parties and concerts. We are planning a trip to Victoria, B.C. this weekend. Before she returns to Japan we are going to go snowboarding at least once among other exciting activities.

Our whole family is pitching in to make this experience unforgettable for Mai. Her husband sent her a box of Japanese movies, which she really needed considering we sleep for 8 hours a night. Off the bat they wouldn't play in our "Region 1" players. Fortunately, I am married to a technology genius. Adam hacked a DVD player and made the movies play. Mai practically cried with happiness. Go Adam! Despite his many successes with Mai, he will never be make all of her American dreams come true, she wants meet Harrison Ford. LOL.

We are really enjoying having Mai here. She is helping us with our Japanese. We laugh during every lesson and almost every conversation. One of her favorite topics to discuss is how big everything in American is, including Americans! Time to hit the gym. :) The girls adore Mai and like to help her with her English. "No, no Mai, L-unch, not runch-e," said Teryn.

She is teaching me how to make Japanese food twice a week...she asked to because she needs a break from all this crazy American food. She is NOT a fan of Kraft Mac & Cheese. Her exact sentiment was, "Noodles, yes, cheese, yes, noodles and cheese, NO." Haha! Mai bought some umeboshi (pickled plums) last time we went to Uwajimaya (local Japanese grocery store). Shoot. me. in. the. face. Yuck! So sour. Everything else Mai has cooked I have LOVED and so have the kids. She made yakisoba one night and okonomiyaki tonight. 100% successes. She's like the Japanese mother-in-law I never had. She also taught me the Japanese way to prepare rice; rice we had to shop at four different stores to find. She's kinda picky about her rice. :)

There is a Japanese saying:
雨降って地固まる (ame futte chi katamaru) Literally: after the rain, earth hardens 

Meaning: Adversity builds character./After a storm, things will stand on more solid ground than they did before.

Being jarred  from Utah, to Japan, back to Seattle and now to Kent has been difficult but I am very thankful for the more solid ground I'm standing on now. I hope Mai will enjoy her time in America, rain or shine.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


Have you ever imagined what it would have been like at the first Thanksgiving? In a word, rough. Massachusetts in November is cold. The pilgrims were struggling in so many ways: sickness, hunger, Indians, and severe weather. These people were struggling to establish a life from scratch on foreign soil. In 1623 there was a near catastrophic drought in the Plymouth colony, and yet the Governor William Bradford wrote in his journal:

And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving… By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had … pretty well … so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day.

On a daily basis there are unpleasant circumstances that must be faced. The car needs repairs, your kids haven't finished their homework on time, you sleep through your alarm on the day when you have an important early morning appointment, your new mattress isn't nearly as "cloud-like" as the sales people made you believe it would be, it rains when you have outdoor family photos scheduled....the list could go on forever. Despite challenges, through the mercy of God, I feel thankful for so much.

I'm thankful for the home we can peacefully enjoy as a family.
I'm thankful for friends who visit bringing cheer and goodwill this time  of year.
I'm thankful to feel warm and safe when it hits 30 degrees at night.
I'm thankful that our new church congregation has made us feel so welcome.
I'm thankful that my daughters are happy, healthy and thriving.
I'm thankful for my grandparents and ancestors.
I'm thankful for my parents, all six of them.
I'm thankful for my siblings and in-laws, all fifteen of them.
I'm thankful for my darling nieces and nephews.
I'm thankful for our family budget.
I'm thankful for an understanding of my infinite worth (and yours) as a human being.
I'm thankful for a sound body and mind.
I'm thankful for ever-expanding business and personal opportunities.
I'm thankful for a generous and thoughtful spouse.
I'm thankful for 33 wonderful years of life.

This Thanksgiving, I hope you have many things to be thankful for.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Seeing God's Hand in Our Lives

On saturday I helped host an event for the women of my church. The activity went from 10 AM to 2 PM and involved making crafts and a luncheon. The committee for the event had been making plans for months; what crafts will we do? what food will we serve? where will we have the activity? Many hours were spent meeting, purchasing food and craft supplies. By friday night, the night before the event, my nerves were a little raw.

As we met on Friday night to set things up I couldn't help but think, "Is anyone going to come? Are these crafts the right crafts? Do we have enough soup and rolls?" Every conceivable worry under the sun was plaguing me. We set things up preliminarily and went home to get some sleep before meeting back at the church at 9:30 AM to put the final touches on.

Despite all our hard work I went home feeling wound-up and filled with dread.

Fortunately for me, my husband is a very patient man. In my moment of inconsolable fear he reminded me that this activity was meant to help the women of the church bond and come unto Christ. "Perhaps," he suggested, "you should talk to your Father about how you are feeling and see if he can help." What a man! I did just as he suggested and felt an overwhelming peace and comfort that everything would be fine.

In the morning, I packed up the food and supplies and headed for the church. I was the first to arrive and when I walked into the gym I found all our tables had been put away. All the food, supplies and decorations had been taken down and left in a pile on the stage. There was a janitor mopping the floor, which was soaking wet. For one moment I contemplated throwing my pot of soup on the floor and calling the Bishop to tell him the activity was cancelled. Then, that same feeling of peace and comfort filled my heart and instead I began again to arrange all that was in my power to arrange. Soon my committee members arrived and had the same greeting in our gym. Somehow we managed to forge ahead and put together the activity as the floors dried and the janitor pitched in.

Before we knew it, it was 10 AM. Ladies started to arrive. They made crafts. They talked. They laughed. They ate soup, rolls, vegetables with dip, brownies and lemon bars. The projects were fun and cute. The food was delicious. It had worked!

Around 2 o'clock I was standing in the kitchen dipping chocolate spoons with some of the ladies when I looked at the vats of soup on the stove and thought, "What are we going to do with all this left-over soup?" At that exact moment I heard a knock at the kitchen door. I answered it myself and found a dirty and disheveled man who looked to be about thirty and a little girl holding his hand, who was around five, the same age as my daughters.

He quickly explained that he needed help and wondered if there was a Bishop among us? He said, "Someone told me that if you go to the Mormon church they will help you." I told him there was no Bishop at the church. I asked him what he needed and he explained that he needed gas money to get his family of five to shelter. I remembered the soup. I asked him if they had had lunch? He replied that they hadn't really eaten in days. With the help of the other ladies we loaded him up with soup, rolls, vegetables with dip, brownies and lemon bars.

I don't carry much cash these days, but I found a $10 bill in my wallet and offered it to him. He thanked me and headed out the door.

After they left we just stood in the kitchen and cried together. I know there are hungry people in this world, but for me being approached by them is very rare.

God's hand was made manifest in that moment. God knows each of us, our needs, our circumstances. He knows. He calmed my heart in my hour of need and he sent this man and his family to my door in their hour of need. It was no coincidence that we were at that specific Mormon church building.  Our leftovers were no coincidence. I was right were I was supposed to be.

Mother Teresa once said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." Our little activity for the women of the church was overflowing with love.

In the Bible, Jesus told Peter, "If ye love me, feed my sheep."

I thank God, my Heavenly Father for my life, my husband, my church, and opportunities to feed his sheep.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Almost everyday I have a conversation with someone about taking care of yourself. Recently it came up with a lady I go to church with who stays home with her busy toddlers, like me. Caring for yourself has come up with strangers at the YMCA, my yoga instructor, my brother, my neighbor and my landlord. The fact that this subject keeps coming up has made me consider my position more consciously. How does one "take care of themselves?"

There are millions of self-help books dedicated to this topic, seminars taught daily from coast-to-coast and millions of psychiatrists, counselors and therapists who have dedicated their lives to helping others discover the best ways to take care of themselves. I offer only my opinion. I hope something I suggests helps you to take better care of yourself.

Psychology Today says of self-care, "Self-care is not self-indulgence.  Popularly, the terms self-care and self-indulgence are used interchangeably, as in "Oh, go ahead, indulge.  You deserve it."  We tell ourselves that we are practicing self-care when, in fact, we are engaging in self-indulgence.  Self-indulgence is characterized by avoidance of the effortful and substitution of quick and easy antidotes.  We tell ourselves that the stresses of the day have drained our energy and that vegging on the sofa with a quart of ice cream is all we can expect of ourselves.  Rather than shouldering the hard work of self-care, we settle for temporary and largely symbolic fixes - some of which actually stress our systems further."

Self-care begins with a healthy diet, regular exercise and getting enough sleep. If you know these areas of your life need improvement, start there. Make simple goals for improvement that won't overwhelm you, for example, "This week I will eat one salad instead of a carb-heavy meal I normally eat."  Or, "This week I will ask a friend to join me in doing a physical activity I enjoy, like playing tennis." Just having a goal written down on your fridge can help you remember that you and your needs are important. 

Here are some strategies for relieving tension and caring for yourself:
1. Deep Breathing
2. Guided Imagery
3. Mediation
4. Progressive muscle relaxation
5. Yoga
6. Praying
7. Music
8. Walking outside in the sunshine
9. Positive self-talk
10. Playing with children

One critical mistake I've made when managing my stress and tension is relying too heavily on my spouse. People get married to have someone around, besides their mother, who will tell them everything is going to be ok and give them a band-aid. This is a helpful and positive role your spouse can play in your life, but they are not an open keg you can tap to fill your emotional cup. Hence the SELF in self-care. 

I know it can seem daunting, but when you accept the challenge of caring for yourself the rewards are huge. You, your spouse, your children, your friends, neighbors, and complete strangers all benefit. 

I found that positive affirmations can also be extremely helpful in relieving stress, shifting your awareness and reframing your situation. Here are a few that have been especially helpful to me:

"I accept myself for who I am right now."
"I allow myself to think and dream in unlimited ways." 
"I expect only the best to happen and it does."
"I trust that everything comes at the perfect time and in the perfect way."
"All my experiences are opportunities to gain more power, clarity and vision." 

There is a Chinese Proverb that says, "Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are." Spend some time by yourself. Get to know who you are and what you need. You'll find much more satisfying solutions to your challenges if you do. Take good care of yourself. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lead Me

I love this song and just thought I'd share. Keep up the good work Fathers.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mia's First Day of School

My oldest daughter, Mia started school today. She is the beneficiary of a Federal education grant that her school administrators applied for. As a result, she and 19 other five year-olds get four extra weeks of public education. Her first day of class consisted of a school provided breakfast, storytime, arts and crafts time, math, recess, and school provided lunch. She mentioned that she played "princess and the dragon with a boy named Micheal who has yellow hair." Sounds good.

I was surprised to learn that the kids would be getting breakfast and lunch as part of the program...but I'm not complaining. Her teacher explained that they want the children to be able to focus on learning, not grumbling tummies. Hmm. I always thought my daughters tummy was my responsibility. I don't want to get on a political soapbox here, but these kinds of things are happening a lot. Why? Why do they expect that I won't feed my child? What's next? School showers? Bunkhouses in the back for kids who can't get a good nights sleep at home? I honestly don't know what to make of it. On the one hand I'm pleased with the convenience offered, but on the other hand I feel like I'm getting benched as the chief cook and bottle washer. And don't even get me started with, whose paying for all this.

In any event, I asked Mia how the first day went and she said, "It was AWESOME!" Then I asked her if she wants to come back again tomorrow and she said, "YES!" Our adventures in education have only just begun. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


In the city where I live there have been quite a few kiddy magic shows this summer.  I've taken the girls to some and invited their cousins too. I love magic. Sure, it's mostly hocky tricks, but it is fun. More importantly, it makes you wonder what you can really do, and question limitations.

I love to see children's authentic emotions. Joy is just that simple.

The first magician we saw was Louie Fox. He was young, funny and a little cheesey. Mia loved him so much she wanted to take a picture with him and put her signed handbill on her bedroom wall. What a fangirl. :)

The other magician performed a magical storytime for the Auburn Library. He was older, grayer, and reminded me of the scary bookstore owner in The Never Ending Story.

After attending these events, Teryn said to me one day, "Mom, I want to be a magical unicorn when I grow up." Mission Accomplished. 

Monday, July 23, 2012


For many years now I have enjoyed a wonderful show on Fox called So You Think You Can Dance. Every year I pick my favorite contestant; the one who I think embodies greatness through skill, technique, versatility and a genuine love of dance that inspires me.  I have a few favorites this year but I find myself smiling the most when a guy named Cyrus Spencer is dancing.

This kid has such limited dancing expereince. He had no idea what a jette was when he started the show. He's trying. He loves to dance. He is humble and unassuming and he is very unlikely to win the top honors on the show...but for me he is a true inspiration. This Saturday is National Dance Day and I plan to take the girls to the big city to experience some of the dance events planned for Seattle.

Tonight for Family Home Evening we read our daughters a book called Dumpy La Rue by Elizabeth Winthrop.

In the book, Dumpy, a pig on a farm decides he wants to dance. Everyone he tells discourages him. But he persists and over time the nay-sayers can't help but get on board that Dumpy had a good idea. They even join in. There is a line in the story when the other animals are thinking about trying dancing too and they ask Dumpy what music he's dancing to and he says, "You can't hear it, of course. It's all in my head. You have it to. If you want to dance, if you want to glide, just close your eyes and listen inside." In some ways we are each like the pig who wanted to dance. I am giving myself permission to listen to the music inside and do what is right for me, no matter what.

I've been listening to a wonderful audio book I borrowed through the King County Library system. It's called The Ultimate Anti-Career Guide. In a nutshell, it talks about figuring out and doing what you were born to do. It blends an East meets West philosophy to help frenzied Americans learn to listen to the music inside. If you get a chance I highly recommend listening to this inspiring collection. It's available on Amazon for $40! Get it now!

I am 32 years old and as I look back over my career that spans about 12 years now I can see so many mis-steps. I identify mis-steps as times when I didn't listen to my own heart. I spent a lot of time listening to what someone else wanted for me. I don't regret my past, the jobs I've had, or the mis-steps I've made. But I will learn from them. From now on, I will "listen inside" and keep dancing.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Snoqualmie Falls

During one of our many attempts to be more active this summer, we took the girls up for a hike at Snoqualmie Falls. Unfortunately, the main hike is under serious construction. So much for our best laid plans. Even though we didn't burn as many calories as we had hoped, we still spent quality time with the girls in nature. This waterfall is magnificent!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Happy Independence Day. This yearly reminder of our blessings as a nation almost always makes me consider the price of freedom. It has often been said that "freedom isn't free." I personally have not had to fight or make any grand sacrifices to maintain my freedom, and I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful to millions of men and woman who sacrifice or sacrificed for me. My father's uncle Clyde recently visited Seattle and while he was here he joined me, my parents and my daughters in visiting the Veteran's Memorial Park in Auburn. Clyde served in World War 2 when he was 18 years old. He served in the Navy. His brother Max served in the Army at Pearl Harbor. He had many friends and acquaintances who died during the war. At nearly 90 years-old Clyde is feeling his mortality as the majority of his siblings and friends have passed away, including his sister, my grandma Bernice Ostler Jex.

I was overcome as I watched Clyde walk around the Memorial. There is a plaque there that reads: In lasting memorial of these dear departed souls who gave their lives for peace throughout the entire world. These gleaming white arches are their highway to heaven after they fell. We know they went to heaven because they spent their time in hell. All gave some, some gave all.

I am so grateful for my family members who have served in the military. Their example of selflessness and honor is inspiring. I am especially proud of my Dad. My father served in the Navy on the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. My Dad abhors war, and he enjoys rigid authority even less. He served in less than ideal circumstances. He made many sacrifices. He served his family and his country. Today he is not the 18 year-old that shipped out of San Deigo on an aircraft carrier. He is the 63 year-old patriarch of a family of five children and eleven grandchildren. He is a man who understands duty and honor. He understands sacrifice. He understands what it means to serve ones country and family. In the photo below I caught a moment I will never forget. It's my Dad holding Clyde by the arm as he walks with his cane towards the "highway to heaven" memorial shown above. Someday my Dad will be the one with the cane.

Freedom is something you have to fight for in one way or another. There will always be people subtly trying to diminish it. They must not prevail. It is our responsibility to see that they don't.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


My husband and I took our daughters to see Brave this morning. I enjoyed the story, setting and characters. I especially liked the fact that Disney Pixar added a strong mother figure to this film! My main take away from the film was that I need to listen to my daughters and give them opportunities, not expectations.

I've been thinking about bravery all day as a result of the movie. Who is brave? What qualifies one to be considered brave?

Early this morning I was reading the story of Abraham and I've got to say, Abraham was brave. Here are just a couple of examples of Abraham's personal bravery.  He founded a city from scratch. He married Sariah and then married a second wife when the Lord commanded him to. He endured and led his family through several famines. He nearly offered his first born son as a human sacrifice when God commanded him to.

The Bible is filled with stories of brave people: Moses, Noah, Ruth, Esther, etc.

In our day we don't have to sacrifice our children on alters, or take second wives, or build an ark, or free a nation from oppressive slavery. But we also have opportunities to be brave. We are brave when we continue.

Winston Churchill once said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."

We are brave when we keep fighting the good fight. That fight is personal and different for each one of us. A leader of my church recently said, "God did not send us here to fail, but to succeed triumphantly." I hope that we will be able to dig deep and find the courage to keep fighting.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Legend of the Clay Buddha

When I was having a really bad day a few years ago a friend told me, "Lindsey, you are amazing because you were born that way." It's a simple statement, but I have come to believe that it applies to everyone. It is a universal truth that you have infinite value within you at birth.

Watching the video below this morning reminded me of who I am really am, and who you really are.

The Legend of the Clay Buddha

Friday, June 8, 2012

Two Awesome Dads

My Dad had a sign hanging on his bedroom wall during my entire childhood, the sign is still there today and it reads, "The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother." With Father's Day coming up in just a few days I wanted to thank my Dad and my Husband for taking that challenge seriously. I know sometimes it is just that, a challenge. I am so grateful to have you and your love in my life. I love you both very much.

The following video is for all the Fathers raising daughters.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mosby Brother's Farm

I took the girls for a hike at Flaming Geyser State Park today after we finished all our chores.  This lovely park is only 10 miles from our house is Auburn, and we were the only visitors.

Adam gave me a Washington State Discover Pass for Mother's Day so for the next year I can visit any State Park in Washington without paying the $10/day entrance fee. The card only costs $30, so I highly recommend getting one if you live in Washington.

While there we saw a bunny and lots of pretty flowers. It was 60 degrees and drizzling, but we didn't mind. It was just nice to get out of the house and in to the fresh air. When we pulled up to the parking lot Mia yelled, "Hiking here we come!" I love to see the girls developing a love of the great outdoors.

On our drive home we encountered a roadside barn I could not resist. It's called the Mosby Brother's Farm. These two brothers have been in business since 1977 and they specialize in fresh, local, organic food. They had the most delicious looking fruits and vegetables and a wide selection of wine, cheese and organic snacks. I let the girls pick out a few things; Mia chose watermelon and bananas, Teryn choose cabbage and blackberries. It was really cool to see the girls enthusiastically select healthy items.

It made me think about Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign. The point of the campaign is to "raise a healthier generation of kids." The campaign pledge is, "We believe every kid has the right to a healthy childhood." On the Let's Move website you can find suggestions for eating more healthfully, gardening tips and ideas for being more active. There are suggestions for moms, families, schools and communities. I especially like the suggestion made to eat together as a family.

"When families sit down and eat together, children are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer junk foods. Eating together is also a chance to model good behavior and regularly scheduled meal and snack times help kids learn structure for eating. So, keep the television off and spend time eating and talking together around the table."

 I hope my daughters will grow up knowing that what they eat and how they spend their time is important, and I hope they choose to make healthy decisions. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here with them as they learn.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What I love, I share. This recipe has become a Shumway family favorite!

P.F. Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps


Units: US | Metric

Special Sauce

Stir Fry Sauce


  1. 1
    Make the special sauce by dissolving the sugar in water in a small bowl.
  2. 2
    Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice and sesame oil.
  3. 3
    Mix well and refrigerate this sauce until you're ready to serve.
  4. 4
    Combine the hot water with the hot mustard and set this aside as well.
  5. 5
    Eventually add your desired measurement of mustard and garlic chili sauce to the special sauce mixture to pour over the wraps.
  6. 6
    Bring oil to high heat in a wok or large frying pan.
  7. 7
    Saute chicken breasts for 4 to 5 minutes per side or done.
  8. 8
    Remove chicken from the pan and cool.
  9. 9
    Keep oil in the pan, keep hot.
  10. 10
    As chicken cools mince water chestnuts and mushrooms to about the size of small peas.
  11. 11
    Prepare the stir fry sauce by mixing the soy sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar together in a small bowl.
  12. 12
    When chicken is cool, mince it as the mushrooms and water chestnuts are.
  13. 13
    With the pan still on high heat, add another Tbsp of vegetable oil.
  14. 14
    Add chicken, garlic, onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms to the pan.
  15. 15
    Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and saute the mixture for a couple minutes then serve it in the lettuce"cups".
  16. 16
    Top with"Special Sauce".