Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Trip Halfway Around the World

Well, we made it!!  We arrived in DC on Monday evening the 28th and stayed in a hotel near the airport. Wednesday morning at 7:00AM, we boarded the shuttle and headed to the airport. Checked in went through security and ate breakfast at Chipotle.  I’m sad that it was the last time that I will eat there for a while. Hannah decided it would be a good time to brush up on her Japanese as well! We boarded our flight to Dallas around 10:00AM... The girls were a little tired already, so they decided a rest on the floor was appropriate!

 We then boarded our flight from Dulles to Dallas, which was 3 hours long. After that we quickly walked 3 gates over to our Tokyo flight, used the restroom and boarded our 12 hour flight to Tokyo.  Our seats were awesome! We were sitting in front of the wall separating business class from economy class, pretty much over the wing of the 777. We had lots of leg room and Hannah even laid on a blanket on the floor and slept for a few hours. We each had our own little TV’s with movies and games, which was great for entertaining the girls. They were very good on such a long flight and although I don’t want to sit on a plane for 12 hours again for a very long time, I wouldn’t hesitate doing it again with them.

                Once in Tokyo, I realized we were actually in Japan, but everything had English written right along with Japanese. I appreciated that immensely, since getting to and through Tokyo was one thing that I was a little nervous about.  It was not a problem thanks to the English on everything and most of the people working at the airport also spoke fluent English.  At baggage claim we couldn’t resist taking a picture of the girls with the luggage cart that said, “Welcome to Japan!” 

Immediately after taking this photo, a very small Japanese man ran up to me with him arms crossed in front of his body and pointed to my camera. I took that to mean, “No picture taking allowed”, so I put my camera away.  I think since we weren’t through customs yet, they didn’t want people taking pictures, but I’m not sure.  I am just glad he didn’t make me erase my picture!

Everything went very smooth, with the exception of Elliot getting heat sickness when we got off the plane in Tokyo. It was quite cool on the plane and then we got off the plane and into the airport and it was HOT!!! After getting through immigration, getting our luggage, getting through customs, re checking our baggage, going through security again and finding our gate, we were all VERY hot.  As we sat down in our seats at our gate, Elliot lost it! :O(  After that she was fine, but I felt bad for her. I told someone she had gotten sick on the floor, which I was a little nervous about, because I was afraid they would make us take her up to the health room and quarantine and we’d miss our flight or something. Luckily, none of that happened and after 4 hours in the Tokyo airport, we boarded our 2 hour flight to Fukuoka. I don’t remember any of that flight, as after flying for 15 hours and sitting in airports for 7.5 hours, we were exhausted.

                 Arriving in Fukuoka was pretty simple as well. Following the signs to baggage was easy, with the pictures of a suitcase and maybe English, but I don’t really remember. We found the luggage collection and a restroom. Elliot walked into a stall, immediately walked back out and said, “HANNAH, CHECK THIS OUT!!” She had walked into a squatting potty and thought it was pretty neat, although she didn’t want to use it. Instead she used an American potty, which was all tricked out with music, the sound of a toilet flushing, (for those of you embarrassed about what you are doing in the stall) a badet , and a little spray of water ( you chose the water pressure) to clean your tush if you feel the need to do so. The toilets are very sophisticated here!!
The Squatty Potty...

The fancy musical potty..

                 Once we got our luggage we walked toward the exit and found a guy named John who was there to pick us up. He and our driver (we’re high class folks now I guess J ) loaded up our stuff into the van, which is not an American sized vehicle and we drove the hour and a half to Sasebo. It was completely dark, so we didn’t see much on the way back, except for lots of tunnels through mountains and some very expensive tolls. Have you ever complained about paying $3 or $4 for a toll, or taken a trip and had to pay $20 or $30 in tolls?? How about paying $30 for one toll?? Yikes!!!

                We pulled onto the base and got a mini tour on our way to the lodge, (in the dark) checked in and got our luggage into our rooms. On the way down the halls, we came across a vending machine, which vends hot coffee, cold coffee, hot tea, cold tea and hot chocolate. Pretty neat I think. From what I’ve heard, you can even buy hot Sapporo Ichiban (think Ramen Noodles) from a vending machine.  NEAT!!!

                We reserved two rooms, as we may be here for a while waiting for housing. The girls claimed one room as theirs and Josh and I are in the other, connected by a door of course. We were all awake at this point, filled with adrenaline from the fact we were in Japan.  After eating a little snack and having a drink, (non alcoholic of course, although an alcoholic one might have mellowed us out faster) we turned on the TV expecting to see Japanese channels and a few bad American ones, but we were happy to see all the regular American TV channels, including one of our favorites, Food Network!!  We watched that and the Disney channel for a little while and finally mellowed out enough to go to sleep around 1:15AM Japan time (on Thursday Morning), which is about noon (Wednesday afternoon) on the East Coast.

                It’s now 8:35 AM on Thursday morning and we’ve been up since about 6:30AM. Josh has been for a run, showered and been down to the Mini Mart to buy Lucky Charms, our coffee in a can and a few other snacks. We’ll go to the commissary later today or tomorrow and check out the rest of the base, after I get ready for the day.  We’re officially residents of Sasebo, Japan!!!!
 **I know I'm a little crazy for already writing all of this and posting pictures already, but I didn't want to forget everything by waiting too long. :O)

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Adventure Begins!!

   All of our bags are packed, we've turned in the house keys, sold the cars, changed our address and have officially check out of the command. We are READY to go! We've spent the last three days at our friends house and the girls have spent a lot of time playing with their friends! It's been great and we're sad to go, but excited about what's ahead. It's been interesting being nomads for the last week or so and we'll be glad to get back into a house, where our belongings will have a home and we will too!! Hopefully we won't have to wait long to get into an apartment or townhouse and we'll get settled quickly. We got notice that our express shipment has arrived in Japan, so at least it made it there in a timely manner and it can be used for it's intended purpose, which is to tide us over until our house hold goods shipment arrives. I've signed the girls up for Vacation Bible School there, so they will hopefully make some new friends and feel at home quickly!!
   Well my friends, Sayonara!! I'll see you from the other side of the world as soon as I get access to the internet!!  I promise lots of pictures and an adventure ahead!!!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

So Close, Yet So Far Away

    Departure day is about a week away, movers come in two days and still there are so many balls still in the air! Moving the things we want to take on the plane out of the house, selling the van, moving all of the things we aren't keeping to their new homes, or garbage, finding play dates for the girls while things are getting packed out, and trying to convince myself I shouldn't clean the entire house BEFORE the cleaner comes on Saturday, because that's what we are paying her to do!

Another thing that happens no matter how hard we try,  is that we always end up eating out far too much as our move date approaches and we have less and less in our fridge and freezer. The idea is to leave as little as possible in our cupboards and fridge by our move our date, so we don' t have to throw away much. We've gotten pretty good at doing this over the last 10 years, and it usually leads to us eating out more, because we don't want to buy anything out of fear we don't eat it by the pack out day, thus my first photo...
       This is our favorite BBQ Resturant, Red Hot and Blue (as you can see from the sign) and this where where we had dinner tonight. They have fabulous nachos and food!! We also had two free kids meal coupons the girls got at school for getting good grades, which is always a plus!
    We've moved out of our house, with the stuff we are taking with us on the plane and have moved into our friends house down the street to watch their dogs, while they are on vacation. It's working out well, cause my house stays clean for the movers, we all have beds to sleep in and our friends dogs get lots of exercise and attention! (Note the 2nd dog in the corner passed out) :O)
Our pack out begins on Wednesday and if we're lucky, all will go well and nothing will be broken when it arrives on the other side of the world! I've heard some nightmare stories, of whole cargo containers accidentally falling off ships and people's whole "houses" being lost. Yikes!!These just make my stomach turn!!

On a happier note, we had a GREAT going away party last Friday night. Most all of our friends from church and work came to enjoy lots of great food and socialization. The kids had a blast playing on the beach, giving themselves mud baths and having water balloon fights. I couldn't have asked for a better goodbye party!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Boxes and Birthdays!

      One more pack out down and one more to go. Next week is the BIG pack out, where everything goes!! Hannah was excited to pose on one of the boxes in our living room the other day, so here she is!!

Our good friends are going out of town that same week and needed someone to watch their dogs, so we will be lucky enough to stay in their home, while ours is being packed and loaded. I'm also excited that I'll be in a house with dogs again, because I really miss mine!
       For new news,we got our itinerary this week!! I knew our flight from the states to Japan was going to be 12 hours, but what I didn't think of, was that time was only from the states to Tokyo, not to our final destination. Our total travel time from here to our final destination is actually 25 hours!!! Ugghhh!!! We are going to be EXHAUSTED when we get there!
  On another note, we had Elliot's early 6th birthday party this past weekend. She was upset about not being able to celebrate with her friends from kindergarten, so we decided an early party was the way to go. She invited all of the girls from her class and a few from her Daisy troop and we had a movie party. She very much enjoyed herself and loved having her friends over to celebrate her birthday.

  The girls also had their class picnics this past week and had a blast! The girls have really enjoyed their school and their teachers! I think these pictures below show it pretty well!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saying Goodbye Is Hard To Do!!

I've never been good at goodbyes. Infact, I often try and convince myself that it will not be the last time I will see someone, so I don't have to say good bye. I think it's a good defense mechinism. If I never say good bye then it's not offically over. Well, that and the fact that in the Navy, it's never really "good bye", it's usually see "you later", as we most likely will see everyone somewhere down the line at another duty station. I also think if I cried and had a pity party every time I moved away from family and friends, I'd have spent half of the last 10 years with a tear stained face and swollen eyes. Not to mention that there is always a new adventure around the corner waiting for us to arrive.
     This past week, we traveled to Tennessee to drop off our dogs at Josh's parents house and spend some time with the family before we leave. We spent June 1st, which is Josh and Ainsley's (our neice) birthday at Mr. Jim and Ms. Becky's absolutely beautiful lake house. The girls had a wonderful time playing together in the water, tubing and eating cookies before lunch!! We celebrated their birthdays with cake and lemon meringue pie for Josh and ate lots and lots of good food. The girls went fishing and Elliot caught a fish!!

At Mem and Pop Pop's house, we swam in the neighbors pool daily and the girls played 'till their hearts content and sometimes their hearts weren't content, but they had to go to sleep sometime! Lucky for them, we also had LOTS of sleepovers!!

         I won't lie, it wasn't easy saying good bye to our family a few weeks ago or this past weekend. It wasn't even easy saying good bye to our beloved dogs, Boomer and Maggie.

      In fact, I cried all the way down Germantown Parkway ( it's not the shortest road I've ever driven down, especially with all the lights) and for a while down the highway. It really stunk!!
 That's when I have to think back to what I said above. I have to remember that's it's only "See you later" and look forward to the new adventures that await us.