Posts tagged “Okinawa

Beginnings

As I stand on the cusp of motherhood, awaiting the arrival of baby girl, I think of all the special moments and memories my husband and I will enjoy with her.

Her arrival.

Her first day home.

Her first steps.

And so much more.

These moments, so ordinary and yet so extraordinary, deserve capturing. They deserve to be preserved in picture frames and photo albums. And not just the moments I will share with my family, but the moments you will share with yours. This is why I’ve decided to create Wonderland Memories. I want to capture all those moments that make life magical.

Let me preface by saying I am not the only photographer on Okinawa. I am not the photographer who has been on the island the longest, nor am I likely the most experienced. I do, however, have a creative eye and a passion for photography. I am not starting this business to get rich or to weasel people out of hard-earned money. I’m starting it because I enjoy taking pictures and I believe that when someone hires a photographer, it should be affordable.

So if you live in Okinawa and you are graduating high school, getting engaged or expanding your family, let Wonderland Memories capture the magic of your special moments.

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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!


Earthquakes and Drums!

Today was both eventful and uneventful.

Sometime around 4am, I awoke to the entire house shaking. Half-asleep I couldn’t figure out if it was an actual earthquake going on or if I was just having some weird pregnant hallucinations. Turns out, there was a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in the Ryukyu island chain, of which Okinawa is a part of.

So. First earthquake.

Then, just before lunch, Shauna picked me up and we took her dog to the groomers and then wandered around American Village for awhile. We ate lunch at Freshness Burger (after going on a hunt to exchange dollars for yen, since I forgot my ID and we couldn’t get yen off base…bad Alice).

The exchange rate, btw, SUCKS. When I first arrived it was $1=82 yen. Now it’s $1=77 yen! But the exchange machine Shauna found was $1=71 yen. So yea. Yikes.

Anyway, we had lunch and then wandered into an arcade where we discovered and played this Japanese drum game. A friend from back home later informed me that the name of this game was Taiko Drum Master. ๐Ÿ˜›

It was fun, though it took a lot of energy. But that could just be that everything takes more energy for me nowadays.

I also saw a game that looked like you could win little bouncy balls, but the balls looked like the kind from Dragon Ball Z…

And what Japanese arcade would be complete without a huge Hello Kitty game?

The back of Hello Kitty opens up and has some sort of sit down/driving looking game. ๐Ÿ˜›

We were pretty much done wandering around at this point, so we picked up her dog and then Shauna grabbed her sewing stuff and came over (she’s still here in fact) and has been having an epic battle royal with a passport holder she’s making. I was going to knit, but after almost two hours of searching through Ravelry, nothing called out to me, so I gave up and just played on the computer instead.

Bagpipe looks like he is getting on Skype now, so I’m going to talk to him…he’s currently in Guam, but he’ll be home tomorrow and then it’s a week of leave!


150 beats per minute, Texas heat and my crazy cravings…

I had an OB check-up earlier today.

Doctor says everything looks good and we listened to Baby Bagpiper’s heartbeat. It’s beating at 150 beats per minute and I think it’s the coolest sound ever. Afterward, I scheduled my 20-week sonogram — you know, the one where Bagpiper and I finally get to know if we are having a baby boy or a baby girl! The appointment isn’t until July 29, but it’s perfect because Bagpiper is on leave that week, and I think that will be a terrific ending to a week off.

So that’s the happy news.

The sad news is about the dog. Because Texas is in a heat wave (no surprise — when is Texas not in a heat wave?) all the airlines are saying that until it cools down a little, there will be no dogs allowed on flights. They’re not even allowing dogs to ride in the cabin! So mother-in-law has decided to wait until September before flying out to Okinawa with the dog.

Oh my little Sushi-dog...I miss you so much!

September.

It seems like so far away.

And even though I know it’s for the best, I’m still bummed. I really do miss my Sushi-dog. But that flight is going to be super long and traumatic enough for her without adding potential heat stroke to the mix. So I will do my best to be patient.

In some ways, it’s a blessing in disguise because if my mother-in-law had come down this coming week as originally planned, we’d be really bored. Bagpiper will be in Guam next week and I am still not ready to tackle left-side-of-the-road driving. By waiting until September it gives me time to muster up some courage and take the plunge to get behind the wheel over here. Plus, hopefully Bagpiper and I will find some neat places while he’s on leave so that when she does arrive we’ll have lots to show her.

Otherwise, things are great. I still haven’t felt the baby move, but the doctor assures me this is normal and that I will probably begin to feel little flutters in the next couple of weeks. She said not to expect hard kicks, since the baby just doesn’t have the muscle strength for that yet. Still, I imagine the first time I feel the little flutters (and not think it’s just gas) it’s going to be a really amazing moment.

There’s not much else going on, except my out-of-control cravings, which Bagpiper is amazing about. A couple weeks ago it was chicken pot pies. This week it’s been chicken salad sandwiches, though right this moment I’d love some nachos with queso that they make at Chili’s (and thank goodness there’s a Chili’s on Kadena)…


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.ย  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.


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 anyย  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!