Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012


I had to get glasses.  I'm getting o.l.d.  I only need them for reading, and only if I want to read for an extended period of time, but the doc said I have to wear them all the time.  I was already wearing fake glasses, they're like jewelry for your face, so aesthetically this isn't a big leap for me, but mentally.......meh. I wasn't happy at first, but I guess I'm getting used to it.

I've also lost a tiny bit of weight.  Down 12 lbs since October.  Not a huge difference physically, but it's done wonders for me emotionally and I really feel motivated to keep going.  Even feeling confident enough to post a pic of myself on FaceBook!  Something I never, ever do, or allow anyone else to do.  And, just so my bloggy friends who aren't my FB friends (and why aren't you??) don't feel left out (although if you're not my FB friend, you wouldn't know you were being left out of anything, right?) here I am, in my new spectacles!  Ta-da!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Beijing Photo Dump!

I can't believe I never blogged about our trip to Beijing!  We went the first weekend in September for 4 days.  It was a whirlwind trip, there is SO MUCH to see and do, we were going non-stop from the minute we landed.  I had a fabulous time and would love to go back again, we didn't see even 1/4 of what I wanted to see.

The kids, however, were less than impressed.  They've become very spoiled travelers and aren't much interested in "adventure".  Beijing is a pretty dirty city, you can't drink the water, the public toilets don't provide toilet paper, and you can't flush TP, you just toss it in a garbage can next to the toilet. Really, really gross. Pretty disgusting for even the hardiest of travelers, absolutely unacceptable for my soft lot.  Poor Meg has a bit of an OCD issue and doesn't deal well with "germs" so she was particularly uncomfortable for most of the trip. The vendors at all the different tourist spots and markets are also very aggressive, getting right in your face shouting about their "special deals" and in some instances physically grabbing you by the arm and dragging you to their stalls.  This really freaked Meg out and on our second trip to the Silk Market, she opted to stay behind at the hotel because she just couldn't handle the hawkers.  With her blonde hair, she really stood out and attracted a lot of attention.  None of it was negative, people were genuinely in awe and we were stopped often and asked to pose for pix, Meg most of all and even Ethan a few times.  The spotlight is not something Megan is at all comfortable with, so again, she was far, far outside of her comfort zone most of the time, but to her credit, she didn't complain at all and really tried to enjoy the trip for the once-in-a-liftime opportunity that it was.  She was friendly to everyone who stopped her and smiled for pix like a pro.  All that aside, it was an awesome trip for me.  I did TONS o' shopping and there's just so, so much to see!

Anyway, here are some of the best pix:

The first of many "Picture please!" moments for Meg

 At our first stop, the Summer Palace

Stopping for break at the Summer Palace

In the palace, heading up to the roof tower

View of Kunming Lake from the top of the palace

Ethan about to board the dragon boat for a ride across Kunming Lake
 Bird's Nest @ Olympic Park

Kid's Republic bookstore

Gabi and Ethan reading a story in the window nook at the bookstore

Our huge, completely awesome, dirt cheap hotel room at the Hilton Wafujing

At AMP mall, waiting for our table at Pizza Hut (over on the left).  It was an actual sit-down Pizza Hut restaurant, haven't been to one of those in YEARS!

Escargot on the Pizza Hut menu, cause what else would you order with your pizza?

One tiny part of the Wafujing Night Market

Snack time!  Scorpions, sea horses, lizards and locust.  A whole new kind of yakitori!

No caption needed.

Tiananmen Tower (entrance to the Forbidden City)

Another "Picture please!"

A testament to Meg's unease.  
They haven't held hands since Meg was 3!
You can see those grandma's in front turning around to look at Meg.  They stopped us and wanted to touch her hair, then they gave the kids some candy.

Tiananmen Square

 Heading up the Great Wall

Some parts were super steep

Ethan and his "I climbed the Great Wall" medal

Probably my favorite pic from the whole trip. Planking on the Great Wall!

After finding out the waterpark we been so excited about for WEEKS was closed, and it was our last day

The Water Cube (home of the waterpark FAIL) @ Olympic Park

After the Great Wall.  Just cute.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Xmas Traditions

Well, only one tradition really.  Every year, when I lived here at Yokota as a little girl, the base would erect giant Christmas cards representing all the different groups/organizations on the base.  The cards were painted on giant 4 x 6 foot pieces of plywood and each group designed and created their own unique card.  I have very vivid memories of driving around looking at these cards every Christmas, choosing which ones were our favorites, ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the really elaborate ones, laughing at the really horrible ones.

Imagine my absolute shock and unbelievable happiness when I discovered, during my first Xmas back in Japan, that the base has continued this tradition for the last 35 years (probably longer, don't know how long it was going on before my memories!).  I was so happy to be able to share this tradition with my own kids!

In the pic above, you can see the cards stretching all the way down the road.  There are usually about 35 cards in total.

To add another layer of joy to the tradition, last year Gabi painted a giant Xmas card as her end-of-the-year project for her art class at school.  We had no idea it was going to be one of THE Xmas cards.  Turns out is was the card to be used in the base display to represent the schools' District Superintendent's Office!

These cards are such a happy part of my childhood Christmas memories, and I'm so glad that now my kids have the same happy memories.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Another Blog......

....that sacrificed itself so that FaceBook could survive!  We're all still here, still doing pretty much the same old thing!

The kids are good, enjoying their Christmas break.  They get just over two weeks off, I think they go back to school on January 3.  Gabi is managing the HS girls' basketball team again this year, and Meg is actually playing on the JV squad!  She's never played basketball before, but seems to be enjoying it (I think she likes the shoes more than anything else!).  They're both doing well in school, though Gabrielle's got a major case of Senior-itis and is counting the days until graduation.

Ethan played soccer in the Fall, is still enjoying 1st grade and seems to have developed an affection for Barbies (which he tries desperately to hide and will deny to his death if confronted).  I tell him, every chance I get, that all kids are allowed to play with any toys they want, that there are no "boy" toys or "girl" toys, they're all just "toys" and regale him with tales of my Hot Wheels collection and favorite Star Wars action figures that I had as a little girl.  He's not at all convinced, and I'm sure he would be teased mercilessly at school if anyone found out.  I made the mistake of sending Girl Scout cookies in his lunch one day, and some little shit laughed at him for it!  Kids can be such jerks!

Work is good, pretty busy leading up to the holidays, when lots of the military folks take long vacations, so I was trying to cram in as much work as possible that required any input from any of them before they left.  I'm actively searching for another job.  My current job is scheduled to end in September 2012, and though there is the possibility of a one-year extension, I don't want to be in the same place I was a year ago and be completely screwed if it doesn't happen.  I'd really, really love to go to Korea next, but honestly, I'll take anything, anywhere.

We're heading to Guam for 5 days next month.  It's already so cold here, I can't wait for some sunshine and beach lounging!  Meg went to spend Thanksgiving with her dad, so she's happy to be going back again so soon.

Think that's pretty much it for us!  Nothing very exciting or blog worthy!  I guess that should be a good thing, considering how bad things were for me this time last year!  Wishing everyone (if there's even anyone left) a happy, healthy new year!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

All I Need is a Chopstick!

Last night, Ethan and I were leaving the football game, walking behind a dad and his young daughter.  Ethan turns to me and says "You know what makes me so sad?  When I see other kids with their dads and I don't have mine."  FUCK ME SIDEWAYS!  How in the hell am I supposed to respond to something like that?????  What am I supposed to say?  It was all I could do not to bust out crying right there on the sidewalk.  It completely caught me off guard.

In the 14 months since DB moved back to America, Ethan hasn't talked about him at all.  Never asks about him, never mentions him, nothing, ever.  DB calls every once in a while and E will happily chat away, but when the call is over, it's like it never happened.  I've tried a few times to bring up his dad, but I may as well be talking to him about the lifecycle of broccoli for all the interest he shows.  He's showed no ill effects of his dad being gone, he's the same happy, laid back kid he's always been, so this comment totally surprised me and nearly left me speechless.

Eventually I said, "Well, I bet your dad loves you more than any of those kids dads!"  Maybe not the best response, but I was literally at a loss for words, scrambling to find the right thing to say, wanting to ease his pain, while at the same time wanting him to know it's okay to be sad and to miss his dad.  I went on for a few minutes about always having his dad in his heart, and even though they're not together they'll always be a family, blah, blah, blah.  But in my head I was digging DB's brain out through his nose with a chopstick.

Friday, September 9, 2011

LOL (Lots of Love) for Gaijinwife

Please say a prayer, send a vibe, burn some incense, do your thing, whatever that thing is, for my friend Katy over at Gaijinwife.  Katy literally JUST lost her mom to brain cancer, less than 4 months ago, and has now found out that her dad has lung cancer.

Katy is a bloggy friend, we've never met face-to-face, but that doesn't seem to matter at all, I still consider her as much a friend as any one I've ever clinked margarita glasses with in real life.  The internet makes the huge, wide world seem like a really small place and through our blogs, a lot of us have shared many joys and pains, celebrations and sorrows.  Katy holds nothing back on her blog, she's honest, funny, caring and real, and she, along with many others, offered me support, comfort and encouragement as I weathered my own shit storm two years ago (although that crapfest was nothing compared to the hell Katy and her family are going through).  I hope I've been able to give a little of the same to her in return.

Be strong Katy, know that you've got an army of friends the world over cheering for you and ready to help and support you and your family in any way we can!  LOL

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Cuteness Overload

Nyan-chan (tho we all call her Baby Cat) joined our family about 6 weeks ago and is now probably the most spoiled kitten on the face of the earth.  

We all fight over whose lap she should cuddle in and whose bed she'll sleep in every night.  The girls "prepare" her food twice a day:  she eats a mixture of wet and dry food.  Since she only gets a little wet food at a time, the rest is kept in the refrigerator and the girls warm it in the microwave before giving it to her!  

Initially Meg insisted on changing the litter box everyday.  Not cleaning it, actually completely changing out the litter every.single.day, but I convinced her it was a waste of time and more importantly money, so she settled for scooping it 2 - 3 times a day, heaven forbid Nyan-chan should have to use a litter box with pee or poop already in it!

The girls also pooled their money and bought her a "cat condo", one of the those 3-level climbing things with a built-in bed and scratching post, and she has more toys than Ethan does.

Any time any one of the kids walks in the door, it's no longer "Hi Mom!" it's "Where's Baby Cat?"  Oh well, at least I'm not the one feeding and cleaning up after her like I usually am when we have a pet, I'll gladly take 2nd place in that case!  And she is awfully stinkin' cute!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The big 4-Oh NOOOOOOO!

My 40th birthday is quickly approaching.  Bearing down on me like an out-of-control bullet train, and I'm tied to the tracks, helpless to avoid the impending carnage.  People say "age is nothing but a number" and "it's how you feel on the inside that counts!"  Yeah, well, guess what?  INSIDE I feel 60!!!!

The last two years have really kicked my ass emotionally, mentally, even physically.  I'm exhausted, disheartened, disappointed and discouraged.  I'm working really hard to get to a better place, and most days I'm okay.  Better than okay actually.  Most days I'm actually pretty good.  But with this major milestone birthday looming in just 13 days, I'm feeling......ill at ease.  A little shaky, very uncertain and more than a little sad when I look at where I am at this point in my life.  THIS is all I've managed to accomplish in my 4  decades on this planet?????  (Shit, in 10 short years I'll be half a century old!!!)

So, with all that negativity hanging over my head, I've decided to accomplish something monumental (well, monumental for me at least):


Somehow it just seems fitting, conquering that mountain, reaching the summit.  I'm hoping it will be the jump start I need to make forty a FABULOUS year.

So, T-8 days and counting.  I'll be climbing Fuji-san next Friday night with two co-workers (both much younger and in much better shape than me!).  I am determined to reach the top, to watch the sun rise on this new decade of my life.  Wish me luck!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beijing, baby! or China, please accept my humble apology.

Booked our tickets on Friday for 4 days in Beijing, the first weekend in September.

For whatever reason, I've never had any interest in visiting China, at all, ever.  It's just never interested me, and I've got a miles-long list of other Asian countries I must visit before we leave Japan, so I had no plans of ever going.  Honestly, when I thought of China the only things that came to mind are Communism, pollution and a massively huge population.  Then one day, Gabrielle mentioned she'd always wanted to visit the Great Wall.  Since she's shown absolutely ZERO interest in visiting or seeing anything at all the entire 4 years we've been here (sadly, she did not inherit my incurable wanderlust) I pounced like rabid cheetah.  WE ARE GOING TO CHINA!

Usually, I'm obsessive about trip planning, spending months and months in advance scouring the internet for any and every scrap of information about our destination, picking the perfect hotel, planning itineraries down to the minute, mapping out routes, deciding restaurants and meal plans for every single meal of every single day. I'm always so worried that we'll miss something awesome if the trip isn't meticulously planned in extensive detail (it sounds tedious, I know, but I absolutely love it, it's nearly as fun as the actual trip itself!).

Seeing as China's never been on my travel list and I couldn't think of a single thing we absolutely had to see, I figured this would be an easy trip to plan. Great Wall, check.  How will we ever spend the other 3 1/2 days???  After a little Googling to figure out how to entertain three bored kids in a completely foreign country for 3 1/2 days.........holy shit.  There is NO WAY we'll see even half the stuff I want to see in just 4 days!!!!  I honestly had no idea.  How could I not have known how awesome China is?  I feel like a stupid shmuck who's been left out of some kind of global secret.

I'm so freakin' excited about this trip!!!!!  I think we're going to need to extend it at least one more day. The only thing is, I booked for the weekend right after school starts, as it's a 4-day weekend for me, and a 3-day weekend for the kids, so they'd only miss 1 day of school and I wouldn't need to use any vacation days.  But it's China.  IT'S CHINA!  Surely they can miss two days of school to visit CHINA?!?!?!  Even if it's literally at the beginning of the school year, right?  GAAAHHH!!!!

Anybody ever been to Beijing?  Any tips, advice, "must see" spots?

China, I'm so very sorry I underestimated you all these years and I can't wait to meet you!