Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Moving In Day

Even though we have been in our house for 2.5 weeks, we are finally getting all of our household goods! Of course, there have been a few broken items (our bed frame and patio table have me the most upset) but Patrick keeps reminding me they are just things. It is great to get our stuff again. Our couches. Our wine glasses. Our toys. But it is still a stressful situaion for me to be in. Patrick has to work all day and I am here alone to do this. Luckily, I have a friend who is watching the kids (thanks Amy) so they are not in the way yet.

I love when something serendipitous happens. As I look at the boxes upon boxes of things we need to unload and unpack, I choose one to start with and got the best surprise when I opened it. It actually made me cry (and will make the special person who knows about this also cry). One of those jokes between friends that only can be understood by them. And will ALWAYS bring a smile to my face!!! Right on top of everything, was "the blue plate". I knew this was a sign from God that things were good, and that no matter how far away I am, I will always have friends watching out for me :-)

But then after that box, I looked around and was not so happy anymore...this is going to take AGES!!! I wish my friends were here now to help me!!!!

what i imagine a drug deal is like...

So I have never bought drugs, nor have I ever sold drugs (or done drugs for that matter). My only experience with this transaction comes from watching the movies. And I just had an experience that reminded me of such transgressions.

First came the text message...


(Seriously - this is what came across on my Iphone).

I took the saying to me trusty Google Translator. It basically means...

Hey. It's me. Meet me at the place. I have your stuff.

I am not making this up. This is how the Japanese companies have to deal with the Americans on base. They are not allowed to enter through the main gates, so their "Black Cat" (aka UPS) driver gets to the gate, they text and call the person(s) they are waiting for and have goods for. It felt so shady!!!

Luckily, I have been waiting for the Apple store to send me my replacement IPhone4. So I knew this was them! Otherwise, I think I would have been too afraid to go!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

another trip to tokyo

Today we took another trip into Tokyo to meet with some modeling agencies for the kids. Now, please don't think I am some crazy mom trying to get her kids into modeling! But, a lot of other moms/kids do it here on base and they LOVE it! They get paid to go to awesome places around Japan and also get to have a unique experience that they probably wouldn't get in the US. Plus, if our kids make money themselves, we can invest it into a Roth IRA for them. I know that sounds lame - but it is actually a pretty awesome thing for us to be able to do for them. We would of course let them use some of their own money to buy things for themselves and to donate to special causes (i.e. Gavin's policeman funds) but they will get anywhere from $300 to $3000 PER gig... so it's hard to say no to that opportunity!

The place we needed to go to was right down the road from where we went last week...but this time we decided to drive. My friend Michele was heading there also (she was staying at the New Sanno hotel- which was a 5 minute walk from the modeling agency) since her son had just done an ad for she got to keep a catalog. It was so awesome to see him in it and to see how cool it really is for the kids! He was in the catalog 4 or 5 times!!! Anyway, since she was driving down anyway, I just followed her. We hit a bit of traffic going there but it only took 1 hr and 40 mins. In bad traffic they say it could take 3 hours. So it wasn't too bad. We parked at the hotel and walked to the agency.

The kids were great and posed for some shots for their 'look book'. Gavin was a pro - and did everything they asked. "Stand staight. Look cool. Hands in pocket. No smile. BIG smile...." afterwards they said he did so good with instructions that they wanted permisison to send in his info for tvs and movies, as well as catalogs! He was excited - but I don't want to get too crazy. He still has school and other commitments - so hopefully we get just enough jobs to make it fun - but not too many to make it a hassle.

We parted ways with Michele and her crew since they were staying for a few days and we headed back to the hotel for some lunch and a potty break. The bathrooms were those crazy kinds I have heard about (with bidets built in as well as seat warmers, music, etc). Then we headed home (ON OUR OWN!!!) The directions were a little crazy through the city - but we did great! And there was NO traffic so we got home is a little less than an hour! It was a fun day :-)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

a scene from our daily commute

ummmmm.... OK!!!

It seems like a no-brainer that you would have to yield to low flying aircraft, but it always makes me laugh when I see this sign. When we get stopped, it is always cool (even though a pain to be stopped in traffic) to see and FEEL the planes landing. You feel the rumble in your car, the sounds of the big planes landing or taking off, and the sights of seeing this awesomeness!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

our first 'bad' day

Maybe I am just in a bad mood - but today was pretty crummy. It started off when I had to spend 3 hours in the phone store. Anyone who has ever experienced this knows what angst and grief this causes. Then include a language barrier and it makes it 10x worse. Patrick said I should have just walked out of the store and waited until he was home (so I could go without the kids) but the semi-English speaking person only works 10:30-4:30 and Patrick is in work then. So I had to take them with me. For 3 HOURS!!! Thank goodness there was a Starbucks next door so I could get them some food (at the 2 hour mark). You know it is frustrating when the Japanese cell phone worker at the base is SCREAMING into the phone. Japanese people do not raise their voice, let alone scream. Every time we got close to a solution, something would happen to deter us from our goal. We got so close one time - and then they started getting a fax which cut off our phone line (after waiting an hour to speak to someone who could help us). Grrrrrr. I literally cried. Twice. The kids did ok - but not great (like the perfect angels I expected them to be). So that was frustrating as well.

After that was resolved (sort of) I took Gavin to his Japanese lessons. He was excited to go so I dropped him off for the hour and ran errands with Evie. The hour flew by so I went back to pick him up. The kids in the class were running around like crazy (like they do at the end of class) but the teacher had to pull me aside and tell me that Gavin was really bad in class. Really bad. She said he was acting crazy and running around when he was told to stop, interrupting her, and also making fun of a new littler boy in class who was scared and crying.

In all of Gavin's years in preschool and other organized activities - he has never once even gotten a complaint from the teacher. As a matter of fact, they praised him for being such a good example. He has always strived to be good in school and not get in trouble. So this worries me a little. OK - a lot. I hope this transition has not turned his attitude about school. So, this made me cry again. I tried to talk to him about it - and he didn't even seem to care that I knew he had gotten in trouble.

After that, we needed to go to the grocery store (the commisary) to get food for dinner. While we were there, we saw his teacher. I told him he needed to go apologize to his teacher and tell her he would not do it again. But her refused. So I told him he had a choice....apologize or go directly to bed for the rest of the night. He chose bed. Again, very unlike him.

Now I know we had a rough day - but this behavior is very sad for me to see come from him. He also got in trouble in the grocery store for touching some meat packages (I didn't see him do it) but I saw a Japanese guy working there come up to him, with his arms in an "X" position - which is their way of saying "NO!". He was shooing Gavin away and Gavin ran behind me with his head down - like he knew he did something wrong.

I hope this day was just a fluke...but please keep Gavin is your thoughts and prayers. I hope he is adjusting ok - and if not - please keep me in your prayers that I can help him.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the biggest negative

The worst part so far about Japan (besides being away from friends and family) is the humidity. It is crazy humid here. Not always that hot, but always super humid. Sometimes it is so bad you can't go outside because it is so hard to even breathe.

Since it is so humid, we have our air conditioning on full-blast cold to try to compensate inside and keep things dry (well, drier). I am freezing in the house - but it does help. It can get so bad that papers start to warp, food goes stale pretty quickly, and mold can grow if you are not carefully cleaning the surfaces. So I guess I will put up with the cold air for now. It supposedly is just this bad in the summer (June - Sept) but I am ready for a break. I take 2 showers a day because it is so gross outside. We have to wash our towels everyday (instead of reusing them for a few days like we normally do). And we have to keep the lights and fan on in the bathrooms at night (after showers and baths) to help stunt mold growth. We use Damp-Rid in our closets (to help dry up the moisture in the air) which should last 60 days....and have lasted 6 and are full of water already. Our de-humidifier is coming on Friday in our big shipment but we are going to buy another one so we can have one on each floor.

OK...I am done my rant. Otherwise, we really do like it here a lot. But my hair definitely does NOT like it here :-)

I love finding cool new places

Today (Sunday) we didn't have much planned, but I knew there was a Costoco (Costco for you American folk) down the road, so we took a nice little family drive to get there. It was only about 15-20 mins from base (on the main road just off base) so we decided to go ahead and go there for some shopping and lunch. Well, to my very happy surprise, it turns out the Costoco is located right next to an AWESOME outlet mall. Not only did they have cool Japanese stores, but also internationally known stores (Banana Republic, Theory, etc.). And to the kids pleasure, they had a Lego store too!!! We had to park next to the Outlets and walk to the Costco - so we HAD to walk through the stores :-) It is an open, outside type place - but with lots of covering to keep it shaded (and out of any possible rain). They had some water fountain spray play areas for kids too. We let the kids buy something from Lego and I got some cute things at a home store (kids bath math and loofah sponges).

Then we signed up for a Costco membership and found the perfect dual screen DVD player for our car. It was everything we were looking for and only about $120. It was really crowded (the Japanese only have Sundays off from normal work) so Patrick was getting a bit antsy and irritated, and it was time for we just headed to the checkout with our car DVD player. Unfortunately, they only accepted American Express or we couldn't buy it because we didn't have that much yen on us. We could have gone back to the outlets and found an ATM - but I decided I would just come back tomorrow when it will be less crowded and I can do some grocery shopping as well!!!

Patrick is a little worried that there is such a nice shopping area so close to me...but I swear I will avoid it (for now).