Posts tagged “Japan

So yea. A lot happened.

Yikes, y’all.

My last update was in October.

However, in my defense, a lot of stuff happened that prevented me from blogging. Actually, stuff happened that made me forget I even had a blog to update.

So…recapping:

November 2011

It was birthday ball season for the USMC, which meant the Bagpiper was super busy playing gigs. This was month eight of the pregnancy and I found myself sleepy a lot.

Also? NaNoWriMo — I won, but just barely. JUST BARELY.

Cooked my first ever Thanksgiving meal on my own. Since it was just me and the Bagpiper, I cooked a turkey breast rather than an entire turkey. Besides, an entire turkey would not have fit in my countertop oven. 😛

December 2011

The big month.

Bagpiper had some Christmas concerts early on, two of which he almost missed due to my almost being induced.

I was induced a week early, and on December 11, 2010 at 10:12pm, the Cupcake was born at a whopping 5lbs 2oz. Twenty-seven hours of labor (for which I slept through most of it thanks to the magic of an awesome epidural) and less than eight minutes of pushing.

I’m a mommy, y’all!!

Even though I was full term (38 weeks) when I had her, she was so tiny! I had to have my mom send me some preemie clothes for her, because none of the clothes I had ready for her (and there are a lot) fit! And finding preemie stuff out here was pretty impossible. Not even the newborn hats fit her, so I had to do some quick knitting and make her some teeny tiny hats.

Now, however, she’s pushing close to 7lbs, so the preemie stuff is almost outgrown and we’re almost fitting into newborn stuff! LOL

Granted, most of you (if not all) who read this blog already know that Cupcake made her arrival (I’ve only been tweeting a photo everyday…lol). But on the off chance you haven’t seen the pictures on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook…

Brand new!

Brand new!

 

So pretty...just like mommy!

OK, so I’ll stop there, because I could fill this post with HUNDREDS of pictures of Cupcake.

So after her birth, I was stuck in the hospital for a full week due to my elevated blood pressure. Not high, but higher than normal so to err on the safe side, I was kept in the hospital with nurses checking my BP every 2-4 hours. It sucked.

The bright side was that Bagpiper had two weeks off for paternal leave, so he was home with me and Cupcake. Even better? Paternal leave ended the day after Christmas, but the band was still on leave, so he had another two weeks off of work with a few half days thrown in — so basically, he had almost a month off. It was glorious.

So we had the best Christmas present of all, and we didn’t even mind that we weren’t getting any sleep.

We were able to trade off on sleepless nights and night feedings, which worked out great. Now Cupcake is eating pretty regularly every three hours.

January 2012

And that brings us to the new year!

Today is my birthday (Jan 9) and Bagpiper gave me the best present yesterday. He gave me an afternoon and evening of sleep and he took care of dinner. He wanted to take me out to dinner, and that was the original plan, but I fell asleep on the couch and he let me snooze.

When I woke up he asked if I still wanted to go out or if I wanted him to pick something up. So no glamorous birthday meal, just a chicken nugget meal from McDonald’s, but it was still an awesome gift, I think!

Yesterday I also wrote out all my writing goals for 2012. A lot of them focus on editing and revising some finished stories I have. I tried some editing/revising last year and I failed miserably. Not just because of being pregnant and moving to Japan, either. I just kept pushing it aside in favor of plot bunnies. Pregnancy and moving were just bonus excuses.

This year, however, I want to finish and be done with my finished stuff. Ideally, I finish (as in write, edit and revise) at least three manuscripts. Maybe even think of submitting one or two somewhere, but I may save that for 2013.

Other goals include finishing two or three unfinished stories, planning for NaNo 2012 (no it’s not too early) and learning to juggle mommyhood with writing. I’m also aiming for writing 5K a week.

For me these goals are kind of lofty, but I’d rather aim too high than too low.

And that’s about it…

…ooh! I just found out my best friend from high school is being stationed to Japan later this year! Huzzah!

OK. Now for real that’s all. 😉

I promise to try to update regularly from now on and not just with pictures of the Cupcake.

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Feeling unprepared…

Last week I caught a cold. Or really bad allergies. I’m not sure, I only know that what normally would have taken me 24 hours to get over, has taken me a full week — because I’m not taking any medication…unless you count lots of sleep and orange juice.

The good news is that I’m finally on the mend, and I’m hoping tonight I can go to bed breathing and not spend two or three hours tossing and turning because I can only breath out of one nostril.

There is no bad news. Well, not really anyway.

Bagpiper and I are still struggling with the crib issue. We know what we want, we’ve seen what we want, but for some idiotic reason, the Exchange (think Target, but for the military) won’t ship overseas. We actually ordered the crib weeks ago, only to get an email a week later saying the item we requested does not ship to FPO addresses. Never mind that beneath the listing online, it clearly said: “FPO/APO Available”.

Anyway, so we’ve hunted around the BX on Kadena, saw a crib we liked, but it wasn’t in stock. They don’t know when it will be in stock again, but they did tell us they were having a big baby sale next weekend. The problem? Ninety-eight percent of everything in the catalog is only available online and only available for shipping to CONUS (continental US).

Again I say: What is the point of having the Exchange if they aren’t going to ship to overseas military bases?

Seriously, because if I lived in the continental US and the Exchange didn’t have what I wanted/needed, I’d have the luxury of going to Target, Wal-Mart or Babies R Us. I don’t have that luxury. While I would not trade the experience of living in Japan for a quick trip to Target, it would still be nice if the Exchange shipped to FPO addresses.

To be fair, there are furniture stores on base that do sell cribs, but they don’t sell the kind we want. And I’m sorry, I’m not going to pay for something I don’t want. The cribs in the furniture store are not convertible, and I don’t see the point in paying for a crib that will be in use for a year or so. I want a crib that converts into a regular bed. It just makes more sense.

So yesterday, Bagpiper and I decided to shop around Japanese stores to see if we could find a crib we liked. We didn’t find squat. New plan is to wait for next weekend and see if the BX on Kadena gets anything in that we like. If not, we’re just going to order off of Amazon and be done with it. Either way, by next weekend, we will either have a crib in our home or have one ordered online.

I hate feeling like we are totally unprepared for Baby. Only three months to go, and it’s going to go by fast. I want to have the nursery set up within the next month and a half. Even Bagpiper is feeling like we are unprepared, so that’s why we decided, next weekend (payday weekend), no matter what, we’re ordered the crib.

The paycheck after that, we’re buying the stroller and carseat. November we will buy baby items like diapers, wipes, baby powder, etc. By the end of November, we’re going to be as prepared as we can be.

My next OB appointment isn’t until September 23, and it will be the appointment that tests me for diabetes. I’ve been really good about my diet, and semi-decent about exercise. I don’t always go outside for walks, but I do make it a habit to go up and down my (steep) stairs several times a day. And other than being sick last week, I’ve been feeling good.

Baby is responding to sounds more and more now. The other night Bagpiper was practicing some music and Chopper (the band dog we were watching for the weekend) was singing along and Baby was dancing in my stomach. She’s kicking around right now while I type this blog…

…I’m still waiting on the yarn I ordered and mistakenly sent to my mom’s house in Texas. I really want to start some sweaters for the Baby. I have finished a hat, however. I’m going to start a pair of booties this evening and the rest of the week will be devoted to knitting baby blanket #1.

That’s all for now!


Obon Festival

Last night, around 11:30 pm, I found myself unable to fall asleep.

Climbing out of bed, I walked to my desk to see if I could get a little writing done. I opened my latest project in Scrivener and just as I was settling down to write, I began to hear drums.

They were faint at first, but even knowing they were far away, I could tell they were taiko drums. I listened for a moment longer and it dawned on me that the drums were getting louder. Whatever was going on, it was moving closer to the house. I got out of my chair, walked to the bay window and peered out into the darkness. Other than a few porch lights, I couldn’t see much.

But the drums continued to get closer.

Another minute passed before I could just barely make out a flashing light at the end of my street. Had my view not been obscured by trees, I probably could have seen what was going on sooner, but it took another couple of minutes before I saw.

There was some sort of parade coming down my street. At midnight. On a Thursday.

Just as I was about to check on the Bagpiper (who had gone to bed very early, since he had to wake up at 3 am to go to the rifle range), he came stumbling out of bed mumbling grumpily, “What the Hell is going on?”

“There’s a parade!” I exclaimed, more awake and far more excited than he was.

“A parade? What time is it?”

“About midnight.”

“..the fuck?”

Ignoring his sleepy grumpiness, I did a preggo skip back toward the window. By this time the parade was at the house next door to mine, but it was there that they stopped. Where I couldn’t see because of trees. I waited, wondering if they would turn around and leave, go into the house or continue down the street.

Not my image, but this is what I saw coming down my street...

To my luck (and the Bagpiper’s dismay), they continued down the street. A small truck with speakers and two guys playing the sanshin (a sort of Japanese-style banjo with three strings) followed by a band of chanters/dancers playing hand held taiko drums. There was a third element to all of this, which was a guy in a different costume doing some very high-pitched, sharp whistling.

It seemed ceremonial, but neither Bagpiper nor I had any idea what the occasion was. So, we opened a window and leaned out to enjoy and watch (by this time the Bagpiper was more awake and more able to enjoy what was going on). I snapped a few pictures, but they all came out rather dark — and didn’t get any better when I tried to lighten them this morning.

However, I was smart enough to remember to take some video with my phone…

Obon Festival Parade (Opens a new window and takes you to YouTube)

It wasn’t until this morning that I learned that the parade was a part of the Obon Festival, a three-day festival to honor the dead. It’s currently 10 pm, so I guess I’ll find out in an hour or two if the parade repeats itself.

So that was my Thursday. Pretty interesting, no? ^_^


Settling in…finally.

Yikes! It’s been almost a full month since I’ve updated here.

The excuse I’m going to use is that our furniture finally came in and I’ve been unpacking. The other half of that is that I’ve just been a little on the lazy side.

The furniture is mostly put away, with the exception of some stuff in the crafty room/nursery. We still have the loan furniture, so downstairs is crowded, but surprisingly, we still have plenty of space to move around.

Otherwise, there’s really not much new to update about. Bagpiper has been working a lot so we still haven’t had much of a chance to go exploring. He’s currently in Thailand with a few guys in the band doing sound for gigs. And with the exception of a few weird sightings, he seems to be enjoying himself. He won’t be back until the 10th, which is just in time for my second prenatal visit and the premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Afterward, he’s off again, this time to Guam for about a week. Then he’s home in time for my third prenatal visit — the one that will tell us if we’re having a little boy or a little girl — and then he gets a week of leave, which will probably when we finally get to do some exploring around the island. I’m really hoping to go to the beach. I’ve been hear almost three months and I haven’t gone to the beach yet!

The other big news is that my mother-in-law is getting all the paperwork straightened out to get Sushi out here. It’s looking more and more like she (and the dog) will be out here around mid-July. I think this is right around the time Bagpiper leaves for Guam, so I’m hoping to get the courage together to get my license so I can drive her around while she visits. Driving on the left side of the road still has me a little scared though, so we’ll see. I know eventually I will want to drive, but right now I’m just not ready for it.

The pregnancy is going good. I just entered week 16. All the morning sickness symptoms are long since gone and now all I want to do is eat. Specifically, all I want to eat are chicken pot pies. I can’t get enough of them!

Well, that’s really all that’s going on. Now that we’re more settled, I’m sure I’ll be updating more (and posting more pictures). Tomorrow I’m going to a BBQ with one of the other wives whose husband is also in Thailand. So it’ll be nice to get out of the house and mingle with real people for the first time in the past week, lol.

Take care and have a wonderful July 4th weekend!


Japanese cuisine, table manners and the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

Yesterday (Sunday for me, Saturday for the US), our landlady, Sachi, and her husband (whose name I can pronounce, but not spell) took us out to explore Okinawa.

Originally, the Bagpiper and I thought we were just being treated to a meal (which was perfectly fine with us), so we were very pleasantly surprised when Sachi and her husband told us that they were treating us to lunch, a visit to the largest aquarium in Japan and dinner!

Lunch was about five minutes away from the house, at the local fish market. I was a bit skeptical, because I’m not a big fish eater. But, I was going to be polite and at least try something new. Sachi translated the menu for us, and asked me if I liked lobster. Lobster is one of the only types of seafood I do enjoy, so I told her I did and she told me to order the lobster. Sachi and I ordered lobster and Bagpiper and her husband ordered mackerel.

The meal came with raw tuna, which I tried and liked, but didn’t want to eat all of it since I’m not supposed to be eating sushi/sashimi while pregnant. The lobster was so good and had some orange sauce that was great, but I have no idea what kind of sauce it was. The meal also came with steamed rice and fish soup. While I tried the fish soup, I didn’t like it. Bleh.

The Bagpiper’s meal was the same, only with a giant mackerel instead of lobster. He said it was really good, but he wasn’t used to eating a fish with so many little bones. But Sachi’s husband showed him how, and after a few attempts fumbling with chopsticks, they got him a fork. Sachi also taught us a little bit about Japanese customs at meal time, like how to take soup (they don’t use spoons, they just sip it from the bowl), mixing wasabi with soy sauce for the sashimi (raw tuna –I used soy sauce, but I stayed away from the wasabi) and they taught us what to say before/after a meal.

Before the meal: itadakimasu (ee-tah-dah-kee-mas), which means something like “I gratefully receive this meal.”

After the meal: gochisosama (go-chee-so-sama), which means “Thank you for the meal.”

After lunch, we drove for about an hour and a half to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, which according to Sachi is the largest aquarium in all of Japan. It was definitely huge, and even though we spent all day there, we probably only saw about a third of the park.

View of the aquarium courtyard from the entrance.

We saw the planetarium and took a small show. It was all in Japanese, but I was able to figure out (through pictures) that the story was about Chiron. After that show we looked at the boat/sea artifact exhibit.

I think Sachi's husband told us this boat was actually Chinese.

Then we wandered over to the aquarium area and looked at tons of fish. Sorry to say, but the Dallas Aquarium has nothing on the Okinawa Aquarium. Nothing. LOL

The "touch tank".

We also got to gaze at fish, shark and rays in the largest viewing room I have ever seen in an aquarium (granted, the only other aquarium I’ve been to is the one in Dallas). The viewing glass was floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall. We’re talking at least 20ft high and 30ft wide. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of the scope of this thing, but it was too dim to get a really good picture.

You can still tell that this is a HUGE vieiwng room.

After sitting in the viewing room for a few minutes to rest and enjoy the a/c, we saw the manatee exhibit, the sea turtle exhibit and then we took in a dolphin show! I’ve never seen a dolphin show outside of Sea World San Antonio, so this was a lot of fun for me. The back drop of the dolphin show is the ocean, so it was gorgeous to watch these creatures jump in the air with the full ocean view behind them.

They did a lot of tricks, and I think the narrator was explaining stuff about the dolphins and the handlers, but of course, it was all in Japanese, so Bagpiper and I just enjoyed the show. At one point, the handlers made the dolphins sing which was really cute — though after a minute or so the noise was a little annoying.

Jump!

The really nice thing about this aquarium, is that it’s right on the coast. So even though it was hot and humid, we had a lovely sea breeze keeping us fairly cool most of the day. All in all we spent about five hours at the aquarium and then we had an hour ride back, and Sachi and her husband took us to a really nice buffet dinner at a fancy looking hotel.

We got to know one another better over dinner, and because dinner was buffet-style, I didn’t have to worry about ordering something I wasn’t comfortable with eating. I had some chicken, vegetable stir fry, salad, fruit, soup and dessert.  So our “lunch” turned into an all day affair, but it was definitely worth it. Not only did we get to see a whole lot more of Okinawa and learn a little bit of the customs at meal time, but we got to get to know our super nice/friendly landlords.

They even mentioned that in a month or two they’d like to take us out again, so I think that sometime while we’re here Bagpiper and I will have to treat them to a meal or get them a gift for being so hospitable and welcoming.

By the way, the rest of the pictures of the aquarium can be seen HERE.


Exploring Okinawa: Home Sweet Home, Cafe M and high-tech toilets.

Yesterday, the Bagpiper and I did a little exploring off base.

First we took care of “important stuff”, like getting internet set up for the new house (bonus, we get a US IP address, which  means I will have access to Netflix instant streaming!), and setting up how we’ll pay all the bills. We stopped at a convenience store (Family Mart — these places are everywhere) and I bought some of the most succulent strawberries evah. Too bad the cup only came with about four, these where some seriously good strawberries.

Then Bagpiper took me to see the house, which is more amazing and beautiful in person than in the pictures. I kind of went picture happy inside the house, snapping pictures of every nook and cranny in each room. Rather than bombard this post with tons of pictures, I used Picnik to make a pretty little collage…

Still can't believe this is our new home!

There is a bad thing about the house, the oven is SUPER SUPER tiny. Like, I’m not even sure what one would possibly cook in there, cause anything I’ve ever put in an oven requires much more space than the Japanese oven in the house. It’s definitely going to take some creative experimenting to bake goodies in that kitchen. But one really exciting/nerdy awesome thing about the house? It has a cupboard under the stairs. Like in Harry Potter. Bwahaha! So after seeing the house and imagining what it would look like with furniture (and also wondering how I would set up the nursery), Bagpiper and I walked around the corner and found a hold-in-the-wall place to eat called Cafe M.

Cafe M was really quaint. There were shelves and shelves of all sorts of manga and the tables were actually video games. The menu was in Japanese, so neither of us could read it, but the cook spoke English and he broke down the lunch menu for us. We opted for “Lunch A” which was some type of pork with veggies and wrapped in fried deliciousness. Lunch also came with a bowl of steamed rice, a bowl of soup, two types of noodles, an egg roll, a piece of sweet chicken and a cabbage salad.

The entire meal was delicious beyond deliciousness. Hole-in-the-wall places are almost always good, and I’m so glad we found this place and that it’s literally right around the corner from our house. It’s definitely going to be a favorite spot. We also got some very refreshing iced tea. I have no idea what type of tea it was, but it was really good. They gave us a small (very small) pot with a sweetner (it looked like sugar water, but more syrupy), and at first we didn’t know what it was for, but watching the other people around us we were able to figure out that it was to sweeten the tea. ^_^v

I had taken a picture of lunch, but I took it with my phone, and it doesn’t have a data plan so I can’t email it to myself. -_- Never fear, I’m sure I’ll have food pictures soon enough!

After lunch we used the restroom in the cafe. Who knew that this would become a mini adventure in itself! Even though the toilet was a little weird, I was able to figure it out no problem. Bagpiper on the other hand…

…well, afterward, I asked him what took him so long and he explained that he had no idea what the buttons on the side of the toilet were for. Basically, he discovered the bidet settings. He said he felt violated….but then he admitted to doing it twice! LOL I mean, I thought the pictures on the controls were pretty self-explanatory:

..at least we didn't have to squat!

Anyway, that was our day. Monday we will move into the house and Tuesday we will get some borrowed furniture to use until our stuff arrives. The only bad thing I can see in the near future is that it’s going to take a week to get internet set up. Boo.


Konnichiwa!

Konnichiwa!

I’m safe and sound in Okinawa, Japan! After two layovers and about 22 hours in the air, I landed in Okinawa around 10:30pm Wednesday (8:30am Wednesday in Texas). Bagpiper picked me up at the airport (he hitched a ride from a fellow bandsmen and his wife) and they drove us to the hotel on base.

We’ll be in the hotel for the rest of the week and then we’ll move into our off-base house. And in case you haven’t seen a picture of our house…

I'm not even joking. This is seriously our new home.

It’s a two-story Japanese-style home. Two bedrooms, an office and 1.5 bathrooms. Oh, and it’s about 25 yards away from the beach. How amazing is that? We get to move in on Monday, but the Bagpiper is going to try to take me to see the house this weekend.

Meanwhile, I have a lovely view of Camp Foster from my hotel window:

View from hotel room window.

I have not done any official site seeing yet. I got in too late last night, and frankly, after all those hours on airplanes, all I wanted to do was lay down comfortably in a bed and sleep next to my hubby. So far, I have not really experienced any  jet-lag. I’m now 14 hours ahead of CST, but I’m glad I got in so late last night, because (hopefully) it will help me adjust to the time difference.

That’s all I have to report now, expect more updates and pictures soon!