Thursday, 8 September 2011

Beautiful days

Today was a great day.  I want to start by saying we have committed to a house off base.  Now,  just in case you are worried, we are still planning on living on base.  We unfortunately have to wait until housing comes available.  We are still on the shortest list, but every time I check, we are further away from getting a house.
Anyhow, we have found a great house.  It is in Kitikurihama (sp?) about 15 minutes from base.  It is a fairly new house  with 3 bedrooms.  The biggest perks are the dishwasher and bathing room upstairs.  If you have every been in a Japanese house before you will understand how unusual these things are.  There is a small yard and 2 parking spaces, which is also something of a commodity.  Sounds like we will be moving out of the Navy Lodge in a few weeks.  It takes a LONG time to get an appointment to sign papers with the housing office.
The best part of today happened to be when my hubby got off early from work.  We headed off base to sign a paper and get the info we needed for the base housing to start the rental process.   After signing papers we headed down Blue street to explore and possibly get dinner.  We decided to hop on a train. We had no plans and no real place to go, so we headed to Kitikurihama station.  It is the closest station to where we will be living.   We got off the train and wandered around for a bit.  We ended up finding a Denny's to eat at.  (YES I said Denny's lol)  It is totally different from the ones back home, but it was fun to see it.
I have to say that just "being" this evening and enjoying my family and night was one of the best times I have had yet, here in Japan.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Needing a house STILL

Today we saw house #21.   I told my hubby I cannot take anymore of this house hunting. We made a pact to take either house #21 or the house I had liked from last week.  Now the catch is we had until 4pm to let the lady know if we wanted the house from Monday (our 2nd viewing).  We saw the house (#21) and liked it.  The only problem, we like the other house's location better.  So we found out where the bus stop would be for the girl and stewed a bit.  We decided we to go with the first house.  YEAH we made a decision!!!  Which brings us to 4:02pm when we called to say we wanted the house.  We found that our realtor was out and would call us back.  Tonight we find ourselves still on the look out for a house.  They had promised that house to someone else and making a long story short we lost both.  Wow, this housing thing will be a great story of survival by the time we finally move.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Laundry in a hotel

I want to take a moment to discuss laundry and laundromat etiquette.  When staying in a hotel with 3 children for a long period of time, you might find that you need to do laundry once or twice.  If you find yourself in this situation you might choose to use the laundry services located on floors 2-4.  Here comes the lesson.....are you is VERY rude to leave your laundry in a washer or dryer for more than an hour after it has stopped, even worse would be to remove another persons laundry 5 minutes after the dryer has stopped.  I understand the sign might tell you that your item are subject to being removed after it has stopped, but I still find it rude and I would not want someone to do it to me.
For instance the other day all the dryers had stopped and I had laundry I needed to dry.  Even though the clothes in the dryer were cold I choose to take my wet laundry to another level just to be courteous to the owner of said clothing.
Today I found myself running late to get to my dryers.  I walked in to the laundry room to find all three dryers running with my laundry sitting on top.  Now,  had I been an hour or more I would get it.  My clothes were still warm and they had been sitting on TOP of the dryer.
Safe to say I was MAD.  I am not one to go crazy, but I almost jumped off the ledge. The person's dryers  stopped before I left (I spent 20 minutes folding laundry).  I was contemplating, while folding my laundry, the best way to deal with the situation.  I thought about pulling their laundry out and leaving it on the dryer, or  if the dryers had not stopped I thought about stopping them.  I thought many nasty little thoughts, but again I am the nice one.  After my laundry was done being folded I quickly left before I did something I would regret.  I find even when someone has treated me poorly, if I turn the other cheek they will eventually be returned the favor they did to me.  I just pray that they remember why they are receiving the same treatment.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Today we went on an adventure.  We got up early and headed to the train station.  We had our three children, along with their three car seats, two strollers (one for baby and one for car seats) and two bags of stuff filled to the breaking point for the preparation of our day.  Our adventure was to collect the car we had just purchased which was located on a base approximately 1 hour by train, or 1 hour and 20 minutes by car.
While living in Japan the train system is the best way to travel.  It is faster, always on time, cheaper (due to toll roads) and all around fairly easy to use.  The one thing about the trains that can deter you from using it is the crowdedness that sometimes can occur, and the quietness that is expected but often times difficult to obtain while traveling with 3 young children.
So, we are off on our adventure.  And it begins smoothly (that's right, I said smoothly).  I was amazed at the kids and their behavior for most of the way there.  We had the usual hiccups, a shove here, a yell there, a toy or two being taken away.  We had to take a break between train changes for a quick snack of pretzels and cheese.  But all in all not a bad experience.
As we exited the train and headed out of the station the owners of our soon to be new van were kind enough to pick us up.  We headed to base to do paperwork and various hoops of jumping to be able to drive home with our van.
Again smoothly it all went, we headed to McDonalds for lunch and other than they were out of most of the things on the menu we had a fairly pleasant meal.  We headed to the autoport next.  We found our "New Driver"  magnets and applied them while filling the tank up with gas.  A "New Driver" magnet?  You might ask, is a magnet you can place on your vehicle for upto one year.  This lets the other drivers around know that you are new so stay clear.  A neat little fact to know is that if you are in an accident and you have a magnet on your car and you are still in the one year time frame, whether the accident is your fault or not they will place the blame on the more experienced driver.  They believe he should have gotten out of your way because you are a new driver.  So, we have "2" on our car!
From there we got directions for home and headed out.  My hubby behind the wheel and the directions in my hands.  It went great!  The kids even slept on the way home.  Wow what a day.  Long, but fun.
Once we made it back to base safe and sound, we headed to our Autoport for an oil change (whether needed or not) and an inspection (Don't say it.  We know we should have done this before buying the van).  We were already aware of the new tires we needed to buy, but we wanted to make sure there was nothing else.  Two hours later, we have discovered the timing belt was recommended changing 17000km ago.  You know the previous owners knew that.  Why would you not share that information?  I guess we are too honest.  I would feel compelled to share that info.  Anyhow that will increase our cost.  Overall, the van is in great shape and I think once we get the tires and timing belt changed, it will last us our tour here and possibly be able to sell it when we leave.

Squatty Potty!

The term my daughter uses to identify the traditional japanese toilet is "Squatty Potty".  Now, things you should know; the toilet found in many public areas (especially older establishments) is a porcelain toilet placed in the floor, you can flush it, you can poop in it if need be, but the most important piece of information you need to know is that you must squat over the hole in the floor to do you business.
So, one afternoon we found ourselves in a train station and as always my little girl HAD to go potty.  So we found the closest one and walked in.  I have heard of the traditional toilet by this point, but I had yet to see one and I certainly do not know how to use it properly.  I began by explaining to the girl what she must do.  I helped her to pull her pants down to her ankles (mistake #1) and tried to hold her, and her pants, up to use the toilet.  Safe to say by the time we figured out how to use it her pants were completely off.
Since this lovely introduction to the japanese toilet, I have learned that you only need to pull your pants down to your knees then squat and hold your pants out of the way.  It has become the girl's favorite thing and my most dreaded thing.  She likes to say "Mom I got to use the "squatty potty".   I have not yet had the opportunity to try it myself, but I can see very BAD things happening when I do.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


My latest delema... (and I am going to try not to cry my way through this) I have just been informed that we must move out of our hotel suite into a normal size 2 queen hotel room.  They DO have two rooms for us, but they are not together.  Now, HMMMMM, let me think.....sure my kids can be down the hall and my husband and I can be alone.  LOL NOT.  I am not sure wether to be sad or mad.  I also would like to remind everyone of the poor condition the room might be in.  The last room we had there was no AC.  It is only 95 today with humidity to boot.  Safe to say AC is a MUST.  SO POOP!  Not only that, but housing is a long way off.   I will apologize for this blog becoming today's rant.
Anyhow, to move on to other subjects; let's talk about cars.  We have a guy going to the car auction to buy us a car.  We will spend approximately $3000 on a Mazda MPV.   This is most like the car I had at home.  It has captain seats in the 1st and 2nd rows, and a folding seat for the 3rd row.  I think it is exactly what we want.  Now all we need is prayers for a house and this car to get here soon.  

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Ending week number 3

It is amazing how much information can be thrown at you all in one week.  This week consisted of AOB classes or Area Orientation Brief Classes.  There was a lot of useful info and the week ended with a written test for a drivers license.  I have passed this part of the test, but cannot start driving until I pass the driving test next wednesday.   I feel like I am sixteen again waiting to take the drivers test for the first time.  The only difference is I will not get to try to drive on the left hand side of the road until I am actually taking the test.  Wish me luck on that one.
On Thursday, part of our class was to learn about getting around in Japan.  They took us by bus to the train station where we rode the train to Kamakura.  It is a very famous city with a shrine and a Budda.  Because of the class the kids were in childcare for the day.  It was really nice to spend sometime with my hubby.  We actually had a conversation from start to finish!
We enjoyed a traditional lunch with tempura, miso soup, rice, and pickled plum.  It was very good.  We then headed off to the shrine.  By the time we made it to the top (60 steps to the top),  we were hot and sweaty.  Now, that is not to say we weren't already hot and sweaty.  The temperature and humidity that day was awful.   We managed to make it back to the base in time to pick up the kids, but we were praying for bedtime to come soon.  It had been a very long day.
We are still on the hunt for a house.  We think we have found one.  My hubby and I are unsure about the locality.  It seems to be a bit of a drive.  It is a big house for a japanese house and it has two parking spots.  Another good point is the road the house is positioned on is quiet, so the kids can ride bikes.  There are so many different things to consider when choosing a house.  There is a part of me that is hoping base housing will come through so our choice will be easier.  Oh well, it is what it is and we will keep searching.
Today, we went to visit a preschool.  It was very interesting to see how a japanese preschool is structured.  The principal of the school talked for a long time.  I got NONE of what she said, but my hubby said we can figure out most of it later.  Have I mentioned I love my hubby.  I am especially loving his language skills lately!  Anyhow, we are not sure this is the right school for the boy and with his dietary restrictions, we will probably keep looking for a school where lunch is brought.  But one very cool thing about that school was the school bus that would pick him up everyday is designed like a choo choo train.
That brings us to tonight.  There was a friendship festival on base today.  Tonight we went to the other side of the base and enjoyed some music and food.  The festival was finished off with fireworks.  I was shocked at how much it made me miss home.
All and all a very busy week over. It was fun and I am glad to say next week looks more like a shopping week with only a few commitments.