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.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Where to live???

So the many options given to us have led to our choice of...... A tower apartment.  (1500 sqft 3 bdr 2 bath) This option does not have a yard, but locality on base and proximity to all the play equipment and school is very close.  Or we can find a japanese house off base.  This now will bring us to the story of this evening.
So thankfully to a wonderful gal who was willing to babysit for us, my hubby and I headed out with baby to visit a few houses available for rent.  We had an appointment at 3pm with one real-estate person and an appointment at 5pm with another.  We were thinking an hour and a half SHOULD be more than enough time to see a house or two.
So off we go with baby.  The first house we see, supposedly in the area we wanted, was small and cute but not what we were looking for.  The second however was exactly what we wanted.  The only down fall was that it took at least 30 minutes to get there.  I did mention the time frame, right?  So while looking at the 2nd house my hubby had to sneak outside to make calls to the other agent pushing back our appointment.  This of course changing our plans for the evening.  After deciding that it was TOO far for us to live from the base, we headed back to the hotel.  I got to go get the kids and do a little grocery shopping while the hubby headed out with the second agent.
My hubby and I have been married for 9 years now and I feel he knows me fairly well, however he has no faith in himself so he brought along a camera.   Bonus for points for the hubby!  He wanted to make sure I would like something before waisting my time to go see it.   The first house had doors no more than 5ft 6in tall.  This cinched it for me, but he took pics of the whole house just in case.  It had a good size yard, but the DOORS? NO.  The 2nd house (again) was the one for us.  This time the down fall was the owner owns a business in half of the down stairs.  AND yes he will be working out of it.  The 2nd and 3rd floor are beautiful and not a bad area, but no bathroom upstairs on the 3rd floor.  Picture a sleepy child trying to find the bathroom in the dark, down steep japanese stairs.  THEY ARE STEEP.  And so ended another day of house hunting and not a home in sight.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

It is always something

A quick story that was left of of Sundays post......As we were enjoying a wonderful dinner with friends on Sunday evening, there came a frantic scream from the girl.  I quickly turn my head to see the girl with one hand on her corn on the cob and her other hand covering her mouth.  She say "MT TOOTH, MY TOOTH".  As we ALL look closer her tooth is now sticking straight out of her mouth.  She begins walking around the yard completely hysterical.  I walked up behind her and leaned over to finish pulling out her tooth (I am hoping I mention the girl is only six).  I told her to let me see and out it came.  Once things have settled down a bit and we start to eat again the whining starts.  "MOM, there is blood on my corn".  I think to we go again.  To try and ward off anymore theatrics I gave her another piece of corn.
New story.......Tonight we took at trip to the mall again.  We are trying to find a particular medicine for boy #1.  It seems we are unable to get it in Japan, nor can we get it shipped to us.  Anyhow, we were at the mall and decide to try a sushi place located on the lower level.  I am sure they will have something other then seafood.  They must have tempura vegetables or meat.   Important fact: I do not like any seafood.  NO FISH, NO SHELL FISH, Nothing that might come from the sea.  Most of the time the smell can even nauseate me.  It is not that I have not tried.  Being married to a man who is half japanese I try more often that I would like. 
Picture this.  We walk in to sit down and Boy #1 has to go to the bathroom.  It is located out in the mall on the second floor in the back.  Daddy takes him leaving me, the girl and boy #2 to fend for ourselves.   So, as we wait for the bathroom travelers to get back, the waitress brings us soup.  Mizo soup with clams.  I can smell the soup and I think to myself "I can do this".  I look to my left and there is the convier belt circling around with several kinds of sushi.  In the mean time the baby is grabbing everything off the table and my daughter keeps asking about the soup.  Did I mention the only other people in the place was the waitstaff and another couple?  So, eventually we get settled and my husband and son show up.  I pick up the english menu and begin flipping through for anything I might be able to eat.  In the very back there is a hand written piece of paper with the words  "Fried Foods"  and it lists; chicken, shrimp and potato.  Hmmm, I think I will be very hungry when I leave here.  So, we order one fried chicken, one fried potato, three plates of egg sushi, and one cucumber sushi.  My husband went to town on several plates of fish sushi and my daughter was adventurous enough to eat most of the egg and cucumber sushi.  They baby wouldn't eat anything but potato and threw everything else on the floor.  And boy#1 ate potato with 1 bite of chicken.
My hubby turned to me across the table with a smirk on his face and said  "My dreams of sharing this meal have been shattered". So, with that I started to cry.  I have, at this point, fallen shy of the wife who raised a family who will eat sushi with their father and I am the mother who cannot get the medicine she needs for her child.  Pathetic I know, but just the same I chose to fake that I was not crying with tears streaming down my face.  
This is how I continued our way to the Italian restaurant located just inside the gate. A salad and a pizza later...everyone was happy and full.  So, my husband's bubble has burst about his visions of japanese meals and I think I might get out of trying sushi again this year. LOL.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Frist FULL weekend in Japan.

Full is definitely the correct term for the weekend we just had.  Friday started out with an afternoon out in town.  We found a play area in a mall just down the way.  The kids had a GREAT time and we enjoyed watching them play.
Saturday we ventured out to Ikego.  Ikego is a housing base about a 20 minute train ride from  the main base Yokosuka.  Our children's first train ride was quite exciting and a quick hop from one train to the next was an adventure in itself.
Once we arrived in Ikego, we attended the annual friendship day.  This is festival when part of the base is opened up to the general public.  There were several bouncy houses and games to play.  There was a ton of food (both american and japanese).  Over all we got sun burned and had a good time.
From there we decided to get on the train and travel to the next stop to look around.  We found a neat little bakery that sold  japanese cakes.  We shared a few different little treats and then headed home.
The excitement and activity wore our poor boys out, so we found ourselves pushing boy #1 in the stroller while he slept and carrying a sleeping boy#2 all the way to the bus stop from the train station.   This is probably a 10-15 minute walking.
Sunday was our day of information.  We caught the 10:07 train from Yokosuka to Ikego.   We went to meet a family who lives in housing that would be similar to the housing that might be offered to us.
They had a very nice and welcoming home.  This was my first time in housing so I was surprised to see the tile floors and stainless steel counters.  Over all I think the visit has cemented for us that Ikego is too far out and not what we are looking for.
After this our options are main base housing or town housing.Hmmmmm.
Anyhow, the boys once again fell asleep on the way back.  It was quite a bit hotter on Sunday and the walk was exhausting and hot carrying a baby.  We got to the bus stop and my thoughtful hubby poured some cool water on the baby's head to cool him off.  He look at boy #1 and thought it a good idea to do the same to him.  He didn't even get a 1/4 of a cup of water on his head before the relaxation of it all took effect.  Poor boy wet his pants, the stroller and the sidewalk.  My hubby said "OOPS, did I do that?"  I would have felt bad for the boy, but he didn't even know he had done it nor did he know I watched him. LOL.
We got back to Navy Lodge and got cleaned up just in time to be picked up by some friends.  They invited us to there house for dinner.  They live off base and were kind enough to show us there house and make us dinner too!  Everything was so beautiful and dinner was delicious.  A home cooked meal.  I was in heaven and I didn't even have to cook.  The kids had a great time playing and we really enjoyed seeing the area and the adult conversation.  We got back late, but everyone was happy and bedtime was quick.  Thanking god for a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

My thieves to be.

I was mortified and hysterically laughing last night.  Once again we decided to venture out.  This time we choose "Blue Street" and McDonald's as our destination.  I want to start by saying that McDonald's is the same, but different than the one back home.   There is no playland, but then again who needs it with all the walking you do over here.  We had the usual burgers and nuggets.   I however decided to get adventurous and get a teriyaki burger.  There was WAY too much mayo, but after scraping that off (and deciding that the meat was sausage)  it was ok.
So after dinner off we went walking back down "Blue Street".  A quick note- blue street is named for the blue spects in the pavement and the blue tiles on the side walk.  I have found (and heard) that many things are called by what you see instead of what they are actually called.
There was a store that sold post cards close by so we decided to go in.  And in the way things tend to go Boy#1 had to go potty.  So one post card bought and out we go.  My hubby took him across the street to use the facilities and I continued on to many more shops.  I was shopping inside one shop when the girl said "Mommy LOOK!"  I look down to discover my infant had stolen a small metal wheel burrow. I start saying "OH NO, OH NO".  The Japanese girls helping me start to laugh.  SOoo, out the door we go.
As I am frantically trying to get back to the card shop, I call my hubby.  He says he is by the card shop.  When I get there I explain that our infant has stolen something.  At this point my hubby says to me "I just came out of the card shop because Boy#1 has stolen a bell".  I laugh and tell him he has to go back in to the store and explain about Boy#2.  All in all everyone was understanding, but from then on we had a hand up and check when exiting every store. LOL  It is always something exciting!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Outing into the real world.

Yesterday we finally ventured out in to Yokosuka.  We didn't go too far.  We traveled to a mall a few blocks away called Daiei.  We had a japanese dinner.  It was interesting.  Girl and Boy #1 had a noodle dinner served in a bowl with soup and corn.  My hubby and I tried dinners.  Mine was a hamburger patty with cheese melted inside about 4 potato wedges a piece of broccoli and some gravy to dip it in.  The portion sizes are MUCH smaller and it was nice to not feel like I had to eat this huge meal that was given to me.  I also didn't have to worry about taking home left overs.  My meal came with a small cup of soup and rice.  I choose corn soup.  It was delicious.
After an uneventful dinner, we went shopping!!! I had desperate looks from people when I tried to speak english to them.  Two ladies frantically went looking for someone to speak english. lol. I finally stopped trying to talk to people and had my hubby do all the talking.  Our purchases this trip were limited to rain slickers for the kids (a typhoon is expected in the next day or two), umbrellas and a pair of sandals for boy #2.
I am loving how quiet everything is here.  I didn't realize how loud my life and children were until the quietness here.  I am finding it peaceful.  I also want to make a quick note about the streets.  As we were walking to the mall I noticed the road the cars drove on was so nice.  I have no idea what the pavement was made of, but the material was nice and pretty.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Day 2- Welcome to Japan ER style

So, It was Monday morning and I was wondering what to do with our day.  My hubby had headed off to work and the kids and I were working on laundry.  We had just returned from starting the laundry when hubby called to get some information he needed.  As I turned my back to hear him better I heard a thud.  Oh the horror.  I flipped around to see boy#1 starting to scream, holding his head.  I looked and saw a VERY deep gash.  I scooped him up and instructed the girl to follow me with the stroller (boy #2 located inside).  As we are running to the hotel front desk, a very nice japanese lady says good morning to us and smiles.  I pitifully looked at her and said "help".  We ran the rest of the way to the front desk.  The gals there took one look and called for the ambulance.
Everyone one was very nice and I managed to only tear, not cry.  The ER doc was great and he glued the cut closed.  Wow what a welcome to Japan.  The whole thing only took an hour to an hour and a half.  So did I mention I am liking Japan.  This would have taken at least half the day in the states.  The boy will now have a scar with a story.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

July 18, 2011-DAY 2

So we had a wonderful surprise when we arrived home (referring to the Navy Lodge) from shopping yesterday.  When arriving on Saturday there was a problem with our rooms.  They we NOT adjoining.  HUGE problem.  So night one was a two double bed room.  They told us it might take up to a week to get the rooms we needed.  As we strolled in yesterday, our arms full of groceries and other necessities, the lady at the desk stopped us.  She was wondering if we would be willing take a queen bed and two twin bed suite.  HMMMMMMMmmmm  let me think.....WE"LL TAKE IT!  God is great!!!!  He answered our prayers and not only did we get here safe, we are now in a two bedroom suite with kitchen.  Thank you god!  
After our switch of rooms, which took over an hour,  we ended up eating and two out of three kids went to bed before 5pm. 
Day 2 has started at 3am, one hour later then yesterday. Yeah.

Day 1-Just the beginning

Exhausted is one word to describe it.  The flight and the kids were good, but sleep seems to be out of the question for awhile.
One of the first things I noticed about Japan was the beauty of the land when getting ready to land at Narita airport.  After a grueling hour of kids and baggage we made it to our driver who was taking us to base.  I was very aware of the volume in the airport.  It was so quiet.  I thought to myself "HERE WE ARE!!!"  We were the loudest people there.
The ride to base was quiet with three sleeping children.  I was a little disappointed with the lack vegetation on the drive.  There were many buildings, and signs.  As we drew closer to our destination the scenery grew better and I think we might like it here.
This morning after a beautiful 3 hours of sleep (ha ha)  I have curly hair with a little frizz too!  I am glistening a little (can you say sweating like a pig).  I am rethinking this whole thing.  In one more word to describe Japan....MUGGY.
We are off to explore.  I am looking forward to a fun day.