Saturday, May 31, 2008

Getting in Our Groove

We did a lot of running around yesterday, even though the weather was yuck. It was drizzling, windy and raw, but we had to go out and run some errands. Bob was tasked with opening a mailbox Thursday at the main base, only he's out to sea, so guess who got tasked with it. Yup, yours truly. You military spouses will have a better grasp of this and the torture I went through yesterday. He emailed me the info I needed (orders, family entry approval, etc) for this guy coming to his command, but I did not think it'd fly. I went with my POA too, but it's for Bob, not this new guy. After waiting in line at the post office for 20 minutes, I got up to the counter only to be told I was in the wrong area. Lovely. Keep in mind that I woke Sydney up getting her out of the car, and Keanna was jumping and running in place. She wasn't bothering anyone but me, but I think holding Sydney and her being cranky made me cranky. And no, I didn't register us at this post office, we have one on ou housing base; I had never stepped foot into this one. Getting side tracked, but we did check our mail on the way out yesterday. The girls love to do it, and Keanna's in charge of unlocking and opening the door.

So we're in line, and at the 10 minute point a guy comes in in uniform. Well we know what that means, don't we?! You guess correctly again....just like at the commissary, he got head of line privileges. That's fine, I didn't mind it so much especially because he was carrying a large box that looked to be heavy. Anyway, long story short, I end up in the correct office, and after 45 minutes of explaining my husband isn't this guy's sponsor, I'm not this guy's spouse and no he hasn't checked in yet and is still attached to another command, I've been asked to do this.

Oh, and the best part? This is my favorite part and I can't believe I forgot to mention it until now. Our printer didn't survive the move. Bob was convinced I did something to screw it up when setting up the computer and printer while he was gone last month. Well over the two weeks he was home he fussed with it, and finally on Tuesday, the night before he left, he finally agreed that it's time for a new printer. So I saved the email from Bob, the FEA and orders to a disk and headed to FFSC to print them all out. Without that email I'd look like a crazy person. It was forwarded from LCDR someone to CDR someone, another CDR someone and finally to Bob. Then it had the headers of being forwarded to me. I was hoping with the proof of this email that I didn't look like a complete wacko to the friendly postal worker.

Anyway, getting back to it since I was side-tracked. After 40-45 mins of sitting in this guy's office it all worked out. He had a mustache, so Keanna asked (and didn't whisper), "Mom, why is his lip dirty?" I must have turned redder than red at that point...I think I actually felt my face get hot. He chuckled (thank goodness, because the last thing I wanted to do was get this guy angry), and said, "Well that's one I haven't heard before!" I explained that he has a mustache and that it's hair, it's not dirty! That seemed to keep her quiet for the time being. She insisted on holding my military ID, and since she had a card, Sydney had to have one too. I gave her my Costco card and hoped for the best. Every few minutes he'd ask for my ID and Keanna felt so important handing it to him. He'd enter information in the computer, and being a father himself, asked Sydney for the Costco card too and pretended she was helping too.

So at least that was done, and I could email Bob the story (no, not what I typed above). I emailed him back the info, and tried to sound professional so he could forward it on to whomever he needed to. Bob went out to sea on Wednesday morning at 9 am, so what do you think he did the day before? Aside from giving the printer one final effort, he bought a car. Yeah, bought a car! All the cars here that the Americans drive are beaters for the most part. My car is a 1997 and his is a 1997 Skyline. The picture to the left isn't his exact car, but it looks just like this one. Tuesday he did some paperwork stuff with it and paid the seller, but I was left with the responsibility of organizing the LTO run. You readers in Japan knows what that is. And I'm not even sure exactly what it is. All I know is it involves going to Yokohama with $190 and paying someone approx $25 to do it for you. Fine with me! I called the same woman that did it for us when we bought my car. After the post office I met up with her, gave her the paperwork and the money, and took another deep breath; one more thing off my list. When I get the paperwork back from her on Monday I have to go over to the VRO and get the stickers for his car. Let me tell you this, yesterday that line was literally out the door and down the sidewalk. Yeah, not fun, especially with two kids.

After meeting up with this woman I headed over the NEX to buy a printer. Bob wanted me to wait until they went on sale, and I could understand that, but no was worth $20 for me to have it NOW versus a couple of weeks from now. They had two Epsons, four HPs and two Canons. And do you think they sold the ink for the Epson printers they carry? You guessed correctly again, nope! I wanted an Epson, we had good luck with our Epson of four years and a horrible experience with our HPs, so I went with the Epson 9400 something or other. It's got a fax machine, so I went for it. For the difference of $28 I went with the higher end Epson. On the way out of the NEX I grabbed the sales flyer for next week, and don't ya know it, it's going on sale for $30 off! I did a U-turn with both girls riding on either side of the cart, walked back in and asked what the deal was with that, and they do price adjustments for 14 days, so on the 11th I'm going in there with my receipt and getting credited the difference.

The girls were behaving so well considering the circumstances, so I told them we would treat ourselves to McDonalds. They could even get a chocolate shake which is their ultimate favorite. And speaking of that, I think I'm going to bring the nice guy at the post office a shake next week as a thank you. He did go out of his way and probably shouldn't have. So I want to show my appreciation. He also said my husband owes me big time. I told him that's why I call myself the Admiral and Bob's the LT of the house. Getting back to it, McDonalds. We went in and the girls got Happy Meals. This isn't the first time, but it is the first time I've taken a picture. The toys are Japanese, the bag is Japanese, and the instructions for the toy are in Japanese. Thank goodness they're not complicated, huh?! Keanna was so happy, and in between slurping her shake she said, "Mom, I love you." I told her I love her too, and told them both that dad loves them too. Even though he's out on the ship, he thinks about us all the time, and he knows we think about him too. And just because dad isn't here it doesn't mean we can't do things and accomplish stuff. I used yesterday as the example. We're perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves and figuring out the post office, paperwork for the car, etc. I'm not sure if they fully understood me or not, but they were nodding their hands and Keanna then said, "Yeah, dad didn't help me put my socks on today, I did it by myself." Needless to say, I think she got my point!

We made a pit stop before heading home, and low and behold, McDonalds on base has the fancy toilets! Japanese toilets often have four or five buttons ... One button, labeled with a music note, creates a flushing sound when pushed to cover any embarrassing bathroom noises, which, from what I've heard, is any bathroom noise. The others mostly relate to the integrated bidet, which both sprays clean water and blow dries, right from the toilet. I tried the spray button as well, and until then thought it was the same thing as the bidet button. Needless to say I discovered that the bidet button and the squirt button hit two different areas. Right there in the stall I laughed out loud snorted too! It was even funnier because of the echo too. Anyway if you ever come to visit here, don't say I haven't warned you! But beware, the shock of pressing a strange button and suddenly feeling a jet of water "down there" can lead to jumping and soaked pants. Well, maybe not soaked pants, but a few drips or dribbles!

They even have the fancy hand dryer. I'm not talking about the one where you push the button and hot air comes out. I'm talking about the Dyson one that was
advertised on TV. I don't think this was the actual Dyson model, but same concept. Anyway, The air is pushed out at hundreds of mph and it's like a squeegee on your hands. Those suckers are awesome!!

So that was our Friday. It's Saturday afternoon now and I'm thinking about what to make for dinner. It's raining again, so maybe some soup or even Cream of Wheat. I love oatmeal on rainy days. At least tomorrow's going to be nice. We have a picnic on the main base and it's outdoors, so it'll be nice to sit in the sun! That just reminded me, I need to make two batches of brownies!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sayonara from USS Kitty Hawk

My friend Jenny just sent this to me. Her husband is on the crew of the Kitty Hawk and he sent it to her. It's an aerial photo (taken this morning) of the Crew's goodbye message to Yokosuka. Thought I'd share it here. Click the photo to enlarge it. Here's an article from CNN with two more pictures, and another from Stars and Stripes. My friend Lauren took pictures and gave me the O.K. to share the link here. She got some great shots!!!

Just Us Girls

Military spouses, especially those with children have a tough job...a few actually. The first being a parent, the second being married to their husband and their jobs, and the third acting as and having the responsibility of both parents while one is deployed. All of the Navy spouses I know are women, but the Navy husbands must have it tough as well. They may be able to accomplish more household projects, but when it comes to the kids, usually they go to their moms to be comforted or consoled. Well when mom is deployed dad has to take on that task.

It's just us girls. Bob left today for the summer. As we bid farewell to him, Yokosuka bids farewell to the USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). She is being replaced here by the USS George Washington (CVN 73) later in the summer and will be only forward deployed aircraft-carrier. Bob will be cross decking from the K.H. to the G.W., while the K.H. families will leave here this summer and meet their sailors in Virginia where the K.H. will be preparing for decommissioning.

Anyway, getting back to my point. There are a lot of things that we as women and Navy spouses must do while our husbands are gone. Whether we can do it or not doesn't really matter, because it has to be done. If I don't know how to do something or can't figure something out, I'll call a friend or neighbor to help. We have a tight community here, and that's exactly what we all need. In Hawaii I had a lot of friends, and was close with our neighbors. We're still fairly new here, but I've gotten close to a few wives, and have met a couple of neighbors. One friend has already left for Monterey, CA and another will be gone most of the summer. Surprise, I got side tracked yet again! I was talking about things I'll be doing while Bob is gone...not because I want to, but because I have to. I'm talking about things that are stereotyped as "Men's Jobs."

Tasks as simple as taking out the trash or mowing the lawn (thankfully we're responsibly only for our fenced in back yard and it's smaller than my parents' deck), to moving furniture, maintaining the cars, using power tools, assembling coat racks (I speak from experience on that one) and changing the propane tank on the grill. When Bob's gone I've got to roll up my sleeves, get the job done and not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help if needed. Ya know, thinking about that reminds me of Rosie the Riveter. You know, the WWII poster made famous when the women went to work and the men went off to war. Next time I'm having to turn off the water valve to the toilet to unclog the rolls on toilet paper Sydney attempted to stuff down there, go to the community shed to borrow the weed whacker and trim the back yard, kill bugs/spiders, pump gas or even bring the car for an oil change, I'm going to envision that poster in my mind.

Today I'm allowing us to sulk and feel sorry for ourselves, but come tomorrow morning we're starting fresh. We've got the next few months to ourselves. Tomorrow I'll put my towel on the hook where Bob's is leaving me room for my robe on the other hook. I'll be able to sleep in the middle of the bed and get a good night's sleep since it'll be quiet and I won't hear his snoring. I'll have 1/4 less laundry to clean and fold, less dishes to wash and no black lint on the floor from his socks. His backpack won't be blocking the front door and neither will his steel-toed work boots. I'll take his toothbrush and put it at the back of the holder and when I wash clothes later today I'll fold them and put his away in the drawers.

Tonight I'll let Keanna put a big "X" through today's date on the calendar, and tomorrow will be Sydney's turn. They can alternate every day until the day before his return on the G.W. They know he's gone, and they know he's on the ship. They have no concept of time, so I told them dad will be gone on the ship, and we sing the song, "My Daddy is over the ocean/My daddy is over the sea/My daddy is over the ocean/So bring back my daddy to me." When he was attached to the sub in Hawaii we'd sing the same song, but it would go, "My daddy is under the ocean...." The girls have a picture of Bob in a frame on the nighstand between their beds, and tonight will be the first of many that they kiss the picture goodnight.

Shortly before we left Hawaii he returned from a deployment that was four days short of seven months. Hopefully this summer deployment will be a cakewalk compared to that one. At least with the "Surface Navy" there are phone calls, email attachments (ahem, pictures) and even receipt of emails within hours or minutes of sending them...not days or weeks like with submarines.

So sayonara to my husband and the USS Kitty Hawk. We'll miss you!
Thanks to Della for the K.H. photos from this morning!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chopsticks Basics

No, not any info about me, but rather information on how to use chopsticks correctly! Some of the most important rules are:

-Hold your chopsticks towards their end, and not in the middle or the front third.
-When you are not using your chopsticks and when you are finished eating, lay them down in front of you with the tip to left.
-Do not stick chopsticks into your food, especially not into rice. Only at funerals are chopsticks stuck into the rice that is put onto the altar.
-Do not pass food with your chopsticks directly to somebody else's chopsticks. Only at funerals are the bones of the cremated body given in that way from person to person.
-Do not spear food with your chopsticks.
-Do not point with your chopsticks to something or somebody.
-Do not move your chopsticks around in the air too much, nor play with them.
-Do not move around plates or bowls with chopsticks.
-To separate a piece of food into two pieces, exert controlled pressure on the chopsticks while moving them apart from each other. This needs much exercise.
-If you have already used your chopsticks, use the opposite end of your chopsticks in order to move food from a shared plate to your own plate.

Knife and fork are used for Western food only. Spoons are sometimes used to eat Japanese dishes that are difficult to eat with chopsticks, for example some donburi dishes or Japanese style curry rice. A Chinese style ceramic spoon is sometimes used to eat soups.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

When I think of Memorial Day, I think of a backyard BBQ with friends and family on a sunny day with American flags waving. For me, it's a symbol of the first day of summer. But Memorial Day means a lot more than the start of the summer. It commemorates U.S. men and women who perished while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include casualties of any war or military action.

The weather forecast was iffy for today, and was rainy and windy all weekend long. We went to Costco yesterday, and on Saturday we had a movie marathon of "Cars," "The Little Mermaid," and "Shrek." We made popcorn and cuddled up on the couch as a family. Since we were unsure of today's weather, and apparently the meteorologists were too, we didn't plan anything outdoors. Last night I got the slow cooker prepped for today's lunch and made kalua pork. It's one of our favorite Hawaiian dishes, and thankfully I have a great recipe for it. All I'm missing is the Hawaiian BBQ Sauce from Dixie Grill though. Anyway, we enjoyed it and for a few minutes I felt like I was back home...I mean, Hawaii. The last time we had it was the day of the Super Bowl at Susan's house. Bob was out to sea so he missed it, but we had Hawaiian sweet rolls and the sauce from Dixie's. We had neither today, and didn't have Susan and Melissa's company, so it clearly was not the same. We ended up having a great day weather wise and played outside and did some laundry.

Bob's going to sea soon, so he's getting his sea bag packed and ready to go....kind of have that rushed feeling again. He's only been home two weeks and it flew by...hopefully the summer will too. After completing the almost seven month deployment last year, it makes this upcoming summer deployment sound like a piece of cake.

So as you in the U.S. are going to your BBQ's today (and me getting ready for bed since it's almost Tuesday), remember those that died serving our country which provides us all with the freedoms to live the way we do. Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Venturing to Costco

It's been a few months since we've been to Costco, so when we decided to go today I was very excited! For those that know me, you know I was at Costco at least twice a week in Hawaii and WalMart at least two or three times per week. I've been in withdrawal not having WalMart here, and going today helped fill the gap. It's in Yokohoma, about 20-25 mins northeast of our house. We got directions from FFSC's (Fleet and Family Support Center) website. They've got directions to all sorts of places which is very handy. Anyway, it was fairly easy to find thanks to the English directions we had, but driving there and looking at street signs was a different story. Bob said, and I have to agree, "So this is what it's like to be illiterate." We laughed pretty hard afterward, but it's true! We were constantly counting stoplights, since no street signs were in English. One would think to look for landmarks of restaurants or shops, but again, none were in English. Around the base they are, but we were traveling further from the base and towards Tokyo.

We parked on the roof and took the moving sidewalk down. Think of those moving walkways in airports, except on a down slope. The girls thought it was a riot, while I was terrified the shopping cart was going to move and beat us to the bottom. Despite the decline on the way down and incline on the way back to the car, the magic cart did not move an inch...I mean centimeter...after all, they use the metric system here. Our guess was magnets, and I'm sure it said so somewhere, but we couldn't really read the signage until getting to ground level. We noticed that this Costco was about the same size or a little larger than the one in Hawaii (Waipio), which is surprising in the land of small-and-efficient. I've heard that there's an even bigger one nearby that has two floors! I saw a lot of the familiar sights, like the McCormick spice jugs, but in addition to the lemon-pepper and oregano, there were things like shichimi.

The fish section had a lot more than slabs of tuna and salmon. Like octopus, squid and huge shrimp. Of course, this being Japan, alcohol was much better represented. A whole sake aisle! They had the rotisserie chickens for ¥798 (about $8) and pizzas...including one with shrimp on it. For ¥80 (about $.80) you can get a cup of Cora (sounds like cola but with an 'r,' and it's not called Coke here) with free refills at the food court. Speaking of food court, much to my surprise, hot dogs, chicken bakes, pizza and soft ice cream were all on the menu; same menu as in Hawaii....even ice cream with the berries. It was ¥260 for a hot dog and Cora, so about $2.60.

The free samples were all over the place, and even though we didn't know what half of them were, we tried a couple. And get this, one sample was red wine! I wish I got a picture of that, but Bob was already ticked that I took as many pictures as I did. The bakery there must be popular, because people were literally standing at the door waiting for these rolls. The people would come out with the bags of rolls and be mobbed! We later found out they're cornbread rolls.

A fun trip to Costco, and we'll be going back. Not a couple of times a week, especially since they didn't have mango juice (again, those that know me well know that saga), but it was fun nonetheless. Once we got closer to our house we stopped at the grocery store around the corner called Marutesu. When we saw the size of the shopping carts we laughed so hard I was in near tears. Speaking of that, the shopping carts at Costco were smaller than in the States....probably about the size of a normal grocery cart. After seeing the shopping cart at Marutesu we figured it's to scale...Costco carts are larger than grocery store carts here too; they're just smaller all around. Anyway, getting back to Marutesu, the grocery store is in the basement, clothes on the ground floor and housewares on the third floor. I found two more KitKat is White and I have no idea what the other one is. I took a picture of the back of the box, and it looks like white chocolate with brown chickenpox!

While we were waiting in line a woman across the isle from us came up to Keanna and Sydney and handed them origami cranes. She spoke no English, but we all said "Arigatou" (thank you), and I bowed and she bowed back. Oh yeah, the girls know how to say 'thank you' in Japanese and know how to use it in the correct context. Anyway, she was even kind enough to show them how to use it. Immediately after I saw her go behind a counter, grab a piece of paper and make one for a boy standing in line behind us. She was in her late 60s-early 70s and very sweet.

So that was our day....we immersed ourselves in the Japanese culture (well, for the most part), except we didn't use the toilets in the floor. Oh, and if you're wondering why the price tags at Costco have English on them, it's because it's an American company. I took a lot more pictures today, and if you'd like to view them click here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Give Me A Break- Break Me Off A Piece of that (Matcha) Green Tea Kit Kat Bar!

Matcha Kit Kats! Since its 1935 birth in the UK, the Kit Kat bar has been a favorite of candy lovers far and wide. While it has long been a staple in the candy isles of America, it is even more popular overseas. I have become fascinated with all of the various Kit Kat flavors available in Japan...well, or so I've heard. But I did find Green Tea Kit Kats at 7-11 earlier this week, so this is just the beginning.

Over the last few years, Kit Kats have become very popular in Japan, a phenomenon that has been chalked up to the coincidental similarity between the name "Kit Kat" and the Japanese phrase kitto katsu, roughly translating as "I hope you succeed!" Apparently they're used for good luck nowadays.

Green tea has been associated with weight loss, anti-infection, immune-boosting, and cholesterol-lowering benefits. It's become very popular here in Japan as the green tea product is in full-force.

I know what you're thinking, "That's great, but what did it taste like?!" It's a lighter chocolate, almost tasted like white chocolate to me, and even the inside was green. I didn't taste much green tea, but maybe my palate doesn't know any better. It was sweet though, and I'll be buying more!!!.

Hopefully over the next couple of years while we're here I'll be able to add to my Kit Kat collection...I'm anxious to find apple, wine and banana flavors.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where Exactly Are We?

You can see on the right under "About Chopsticks" that we live in Zushi, Kanagawa, Japan, but that probably doesn't mean much. Unless you've looked at a map, chances are you have no idea where it is. We live in the city of Zushi which is in the prefecture (can be compared to a state in the U.S.) of Kanagawa. We're about an hour south of Tokyo and 90 minutes from Narita Airport. Kanagawa sits on the Kanto Plain, and Zushi is in the center Miura Peninsula. So to sum it up and simplify it, I circled in red where we live. The base, Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) is about a 20 minute drive from our house, and is located southeast of us. The base is a peninsula that sits on a peninsula.

The Yen Japan's main unit of currency is the yen and its symbol is ¥ or ¥. The sen, a former monetary unit, was worth 1/100 of a yen. "Yen" originally referred to a round coin, while "sen" referred to a copper coin. And strangely enough, the plural of "yen" is "yen." The Japanese use 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 yen coins. Slightly different from ours, but not too much. Since a yen is roughly equal to a cent, you can see than a 100 and 500 yen coin is close to a dollar and 5 dollar coin. Wow, and are they handy. Too bad the dollar coin never seems to catch on in the States...not to mention a 5 dollar one!

I use the general rule of moving the decimal point over two places to the left and that gives you an idea of the dollar amount. When Bob was here on a port call in the fall, the conversion rate reached $1.28, but now we're getting about $1 for ¥100. On base we can pay in dollars, yen or with a credit card. But out in town we need to pay with yen. We could use a credit card, but are charged a fee for conversion, so it's easer to use yen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bob's 31st Birthday

Wow, he's 31....and to think we met when he was 17 and I had just turned 15! Keanna turned four on May 9th, and we made a cake for her...ahem, she did most of the work. To see the pictures of that go the Shutterfly album.

Anyway, so she was all excited to make "Daddy's Bright Cake" since she had such a great time making her pink one. Why did she call it "bright?" Because I told her how old he was and how many candles it would have on it, and therefore it would light up the whole house! I didn't mind making a cake, after all, it'd be a box mix anyway.

Over the weekend we were at the commissary and in the freezer section there it was, something I've been longing and yearning for for four years...since we moved to Hawaii. It's like the light shined down on that freezer case and lit it up. What on earth am I talking about? A CARVEL CAKE. That's right people, they are not available in Hawaii. Not only is there no store, but they aren't
even sold at the grocery stores...on or off base. I knew right then and there that Bob wasn't getting that Betty Crocker box cake, he was getting a Carvel cake. So when we headed to the base today to run some errands and pick him up, the girls and I ran into the commissary and picked up the cake. Keanna remembered the ice cream cake from Nana and Papa's house (my parents), since that's the only place she's had them.

I took a picture of it in the box to do it justice for my Hawaii friends, but especially Shari. When I was about ready to give birth to Keanna I had a craving for one of these cakes. She and I called all around the island looking for one...obviously we had no luck. I called Lisa and Ron, friends in CT. Lisa was considering mailing me one in dry ice. That's how badly I wanted this thing...either that or just how much I whined! So Shari and Lisa, this is for you two!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bonsai-Goldfish Theory

In case you're unfamiliar with bonsai trees, in a nutshell, they are dwarfed trees, but still have the characteristics and needs of a normal sized tree of the's just on a smaller scale. Bonsai trees are very common here in Japan and are very popular with the locals.

America is commonly known as "The Melting Pot," so for the sake of argument I'm going to say Japan is "The Goldfish Bowl." Okay, I obviously come up with that on my own....there was something on FoxNews (yup, we get that here, channel 55 on AmeriCable!) that triggered my brain. When I got my first goldfish, Bert and Ernie, at the age of four or five, my mom said that if I wanted the fish to grow and get bigger we needed to get them a larger fishbowl. She was basically telling me that if we kept him in a small bowl, they'd stay small, but if we invested in a large tank they'd grow. Now take it from me, the last thing my parents were going to do was buy a fish tank and set it up with a filter, etc, for two goldfish that they could easily flush (if necessary) and replace for a few dollars. My sisters and I wouldn't be the wiser.

The girls and I stopped at 7-11 yesterday on the way to pick up Bob from work. They had all sorts of goodies in the candy isle including KitKats. They had a bag of KitKats, but then individual boxes of them too. Only here's the catch, they're mini KitKats. So that got me thinking, "Obviously our [American] portion sizes are larger, but man, their candy is smaller too!"

But portion sizes aside, why are Japanese people on the whole smaller and petite? An acquaintance of mine, Aime, has a theory, and I wanted to share it:

I'm sure there are many genetic and scientific explanations as to why the Asian bone structure has evolved in the way that it has. However, I've got my own theory, called the Bonsai-Goldfish Theory. The Japanese people are like Bonsai trees in that they are just living on a small scale - why? Maybe because Japan is an island and there are too many "goldfish" in the bowl keeping anyone from getting any bigger. By keeping all the "goldfish" small, everyone is able to thrive, if you put too many big "goldfish" in the bowl, then you start to get floaters at the top. Anyone who has spent any time on a JR line train headed towards Tokyo at 7 a.m. knows that if you are over 200 pounds, you will physically NOT FIT on the train, or will sustain an injury trying to making yourself fit.

So while you don't normally see a tall tree in the middle of bonsai trees, as long as you share the resources and plant your roots with everyone else's, you very well could make it!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Saturday at the Park

We went to a store called Homes on was a combination of WalMart and Home Depot. On the way home we stopped at a park and the girls had a really good time. I have no idea what it's called, so don't even ask me!

Here’s a sign that was posted in the parking lot, and there was another one between the parking lot and the park itself. I think the second sign had the rules posted. I know one of them says the park closes at 6:15 and another says the parking lot closes at 5:15 on certain days....Friday being one of them. Bob and I were sitting drinking our drinks with Japanese labels from the vending machine and a man came in and said something in Japanese. Women started calling their kids and people were clearing out. We knew something was up, so I called the girls over to me and that’s when the man came over to us and said, “Car parking closed.” It sounded more like, “car parring crosed,” but we knew what he was saying.

As you can see, the girls have no problem fitting in, and the language barrier isn't too much of
an issue. They were building "towers" with other kids, and it was a collaborative effort. Then one of the dads there was running around with a group of kids and Keanna joined right in...again, no problems.

Bob and I were talking about how the girls don’t seem to have any idea where they are or what experiences they are getting. I think they do though. Keanna at random times will say, “Mom, we live in Japan?” I confirm it for her and explain that dad’s job brings us to different places. People will look different and talk differently than we do, and we have to respect that and be nice to them. Sydney on the other hand has no idea, and just follows or copies whatever Keanna does or say!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I was thinking today…a frightening thought! I know why military family members are called “dependents,” and it even says so on my military I.D. But I’m anything but…and don’t have a choice about it! Of course I rely on Bob for lots of things, but when he’s not around I can’t rely on him. At least now that he’s on a surface ship I can rely on email and a phone call; didn’t have much email on the submarines, and phone calls were only when they pulled into a port. Anyway, the last thing I am when he’s not around is dependent! I’ve got to pick up his slack along with my own, and I can’t complain, whine or question it. Of course I can to my friends, and we all take turns listening to each other, but if I walked in to PSD whining or complaining they’d ask for my POA then laugh in my face and kick me out!

I’ve got to be independent, it’s a given, and the Navy expects it. Whether for a few days, a couple of weeks or even six or eight months. Last year he was home about nine weeks, that’s it, nine weeks, and not all at one time either. In January he was home for eight days, and only two days in March! I didn’t have my best friend and companion, and the girls didn’t have their father. I did however have less laundry, the whole bed to myself and could leave the closet doors open so my side was exposed all the time.

So hats off to all of us Navy spouses, and all the other branches as well! We didn’t go to USNA or bootcamp; our husbands had the training! We are trained by him and other spouses that we see in action and can learn from. That’s why this is Admiral Katie and LT Bob’s household!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


That means "first" in Japanese. Well folks, this is my first blog on here, so it ought to be interesting...actually, I'm going to opt for boring. Bob just got home from work about five minutes ago and is playing MarioKart on the Wii....literally walked in the door, took off his jacket and started playing. He's standing in the middle of the living room in uniform and Keanna and Sydney are cheering him on.

I'm trying to figure out this blogger thing and want to add photos and change the look of the title at the top center...I have an idea in mind and hopefully will get it accomplished over the weekend.