Sunday, February 17, 2019

Embracing Winter 2019


We have chosen to embrace winter!

Minnesota is our home and winter... 
is unavoidable, 
when you live here!


It's just part of the package!


We truly love the change of seasons! 

Here is the morning view out of the master bedroom!


And the view down our driveway, to our home!
(the fall pic is the BEST)


 Love the blue sky in the background!


And morning sunrise on a new fallen snow!


Thankful, grateful, blessed comes to mind!

BUT
just an FYI...
I may not be saying this in the end of March!


Ice skating has become a winter passion!


Jake started off needing this for balance 
but has now moved on
to skating independently! 


The first time on the ice,
 Hubby and I stayed clear of each other...
neither wanted to be held responsible for
"bringing the other one DOWN"!

Now we can skate together and hold hands!

Luke is a natural at skating!


Sam is too!


Madeline did great but her skates broke-
 she continued on!


Sarah, Mia, Melissa loved it!


Ava, too!


Except when they all decide to stop and congregate...


We can cause a bit of a traffic jam!


We are thankful to have a sledding hill right in our own yard!


We got 4 inches of snow, then rain, then 4 more inches of snow!
A layer of ice was just underneath the last snowfall!


Sleds...
are overrated!
(According to Ben)


More snow continues to come
and the snow tubes we bought years ago, 
worked out great!


We bought these thinking it would be sooooo fun
to go to different hills in the area and go sledding........?

Until we realized...
how on earth can we get 16 children and 16 snow tubes 
to a hill...
we'd need a moving truck!


It was a bit of a light bulb moment!

Just thankful this works 
and it's convenient-
right outside our door!


 Our middle schoolers have taken advantage of homeschool ski day!

It's once a month and it's not crowded!
They LOVE it!


Grace and Ben were blessed with an adaptive ski day
sponsored by Gillette Children's Hospital!
Thank you sooo much for this wonderful experience!

Skiing would otherwise,
be impossible for Grace.
She has a few major muscles that just don't work.


Grace loves to go sledding so we figured she would LOVE this!


And she did!

She rode the chairlift up to the top of the hill 
(while in the sled).
The instructor skied behind her with 
bungees attached to the sled
and she "gracefully" leaned 
to the left and right upon instruction!

It was actually a beautiful sight
to see her slalom down the hill!

She had the time of her life!


Ben had been skiing a few times already
BUT
stopping and turning to his right... 
just wasn't happening for him.


He had a private lesson on how to use 
his hip and thigh muscles to be able to stop and turn!

They even taught him how to shift weight 
and slalom ski a bit!


He had... 3 instructors!
What a blessing!

Since then, he has gone skiing and 
was successful at turning and stopping!

It is a blessing to see 
GOD at work 
through kind people!


The other morning 4-5 crows 
were outside of our bedroom window,
frantically cawing.
I peeked out to see what was the matter?

This lovely barred owl was sitting in the tree!


Sights like this...
take my breath away!

We quietly lead as many children 
as possible to see it, 
before it had had enough 
of our gawking,
and promptly flew away.
It's wing span had to be 6 feet...


I do NOT have a green thumb
BUT
for some odd reason this orchid
likes me!

3 small ice cubes every 4 days
and it's as happy as can be!

It was completely baron
and then sprouted a stalk 
that produced 12 blooms!

Now, that's a miracle!


These two love the snow
and unfortunately the golden one...
loves poopsicles!


The kids are dog sitting for our neighbor!

They love taking care of Snoop!


And while they are doing that 
they are earning money to go to 
Extreme Faith Camp this June!

I'm proud of how hard they are working to go to camp!


Look closely!
On the left,
 is an eagle in flight!

We were driving to the library and I looked to my right.
There was an eagle perched on a dead deer.
It had been hit by a car.

I couldn't help myself and had to turn around to get a pic!
This was the best I could do!

Unfortunately, he wanted nothing to do 
with a humungous van 
filled with people 
staring at him!

So he took flight immediately!


And landed across the street in a tree!

Sledding, skiing, skating, have kept us busy and joyful this winter!

We have been blessed with many indoor activities, too!
 Will be sharing that in the next post!

God is soooo good!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Going Home


Our Dad fought in WWII.
 He was a 1st Lieutenant in the USMC.

We are proud of him.
He was brave and he fought for our country's freedom.
The after effects of fighting in a war were with him all his life.
Sometimes, he was so far away, in thought...
and by the look on his face, we knew he was back in the war.

Many of his close friends did not make it home
and I know that haunted him.
There was a sense of guilt and sadness over this loss.
Why him, why not me?

He liked to talk about the war and all the places he had been.
Nothing gruesome, mostly historical.

Unfortunately, I was a teenage girl
and didn't like to listen.


The story, as told to my brother, goes like this-

During WWII, Dad (William Cunningham, 1st Lt. USMC) engaged in fighting 
on two islands, Saipan and Tinian.  
I don’t know on which island he came upon the flag.  
They landed on the islands under gunfire.
Many of the men did not make it to land.

His platoon had secured a hill and set up camp for the night.  
Everyone needed to dig a fox hole 
however no one could dig deeper than six inches as they all hit lava rock.  
During the night as he lay in his fox hole 
he noticed Japanese soldiers walking through the camp.  
He reached for his rifle but there was a problem.  
His barrel was pointing in the wrong direction 
and to get into position he would have to move in a way 
that would have alerted the Japanese soldiers.  
A soldier next to him in a better position whispered “I’ve got it.”  
I believe other soldiers were also aware of Japanese soldiers 
that had come into their camp.  
A skirmish ensued.  
Afterwards the flags were removed from the casualties.  
Now, the right thing to do 
is return the flags to the Japanese soldier’s families.  
I know Dad would be in favor of this!


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When I was about 11 yrs old and studying WWII in school,

 my parents told me about the flag.

I was stunned that we had a Japanese flag from the war.
I immediately asked if I could have it when I was an adult.

My parents agreed and then asked me if I would do them a favor.

"Please return this flag to the family of the fallen soldier."

I agreed.

It was always hidden in a drawer, carefully wrapped in tissue.
It never came out unless we asked to see it.

During WWII, it may have been a badge of honor.
However, over time, it  became a source of sadness.

It wasn't ours to have...

Taking a flag off of a fallen soldier
 was somewhat customary during WWII.

After our father passed the flag sat in a drawer in my parents home.

When our Mom passed, I took the flag and the dresser that it was in.

In June of 2018, our father would have turned 100 yrs old.
As we remembered him, we remembered the flag.

There was a part of me that did not want to give the flag up.
The same part that wants to cling to the memories of my parents.

But, it's NOT OURS.

This fall we had a Japanese interpreter come over and tell us what it said.

This flag was presented to Hisashima (last name) , Sakae (first name) 
by Iwasaki (last name), Mitsuo (first name). 
The second name could be the mayor of the town 
or someone representing the military.

The soldiers name was written in bold on the left side. 
The presenters name is on the far lower left 
written in smaller letters, next to it.

The top letters in bold are Koku Ho Chu Kun and are basically saying - 
Be Loyal to the Country and Wishing Him Well and Bring a Good Report Back

On the top, between the first two words is another name. 
It's curved and we think it may be his father 
because it's the same last name and the first name is quite old fashioned. 
Hisashima (last), Tamekichi (first). 
Next to that signature, it said to come home safely with good news.

In the upper left corner is a random name Inoue (last), Hiroshi (first)

In the upper right corner (top) is another random name Kato, Koechi.

On the upper right corner/right side it says 
Love Your Country and Be Honorable.

Other than that, the flag has signatures of other men and women. 
Guessing they were from the same village/town that he came from.

The flag is now on its way to the OBON Society in Oregon.
They will find the family that it belongs to in Japan.
The flag will then be presented to the family members of the fallen Japanese soldier. 


We sent this letter with the flag-

A Letter to the Family of the Japanese Flag

It is with our deepest sympathy and respect that we return this flag 
to the family of the soldier that carried it.

Our Father, William H. Cunningham Sr. 
was a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps (2nd Division) during WWII. 
He obtained this flag from a battle on Saipan or Tinian.

He told me about the flag when I was 11 years old and was studying WWII in school.

Before Dad passed away he asked us to return the flag to Japan, 
to the family of the fallen soldier. 
It spent more time in a drawer in our mother’s home 
but after she passed we realized that it was time for this flag to go home, 
back to its family.

We are thankful for the dedicated and brave men and women that serve their countries. 
We hope this flag brings your family comfort and peace. 
God Bless you.


We have heard many beautiful stories of these flags being returned 
and we are happy,
 that now,
 our flag is going home!

Salute!
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