Sunday, September 22, 2013

Something to Cheer about!

Camp Be Beat

S T * R...that's what you are.

Many fond memories of Cece at Gator Cheer Camp.  So I was glad I found out about this event!  At Kadena Air Force Base 9-21-13.  Jill says she is a Cheer Girl like her Nanny Amy.  Many thank yous to Girl Scouts West Pacific and Okinawa Enlisted Spouse Club for making it happen!

Okinawa Gonna Be's:  I got nothing for you.  When you see something good, sign up for it.  You might not see it again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blue Two!

The process of buying a car in Okinawa was very crazy.  I generally like to do some research, look around, and then call my Uncle Joey and have him pick one out and have it ready for pick-up.  He is good to me like that!  So imagine my surprise when Sherry took me to the lot and said pick one!  You can not test drive cars on used lots here.  And you would never buy new.  And you just really need to hurry up and get a car.  So you just pick one.  You can start it, and to some people that would be helpful, but not really to me.  I just made sure the air seemed to work.

We had planned to get a minivan, but after just being around a few days I knew that I needed something smaller, due to traffic and parking.  Also, this one had no bad blind spots.  Yes, I am old now and shop for these things.  So we are the proud owners of a Honda Mobilio.  She seats 7 in a pinch.  And when the kids saw this baby, they had to have her.  "She is just like Blueberry!"  Theresa Braud has had a minivan for years of this same color, and it is affectionately named Blueberry, and all the kids love it.

So now Blue Two lives.  She is not fancy, but when you maximum driving destination is about 80 miles and your maximum speed is about 40 mph, you don't need anything fancy!

Side note:  Even thought I went ahead with the color because i thought it would be easy to pick out in parking lots, our neighbor has the exact same car and we have accidentally gotten into it 3 times.

Okinawa Gonna Be's:  Think about what kind of car you want before you get here.  We bought one off a lot and one off a guy about to leave.  This is pretty standard.  Lot cars have a 1 year warranty, which is a plus.  We spent well under $10,000 for both cars.  But a minivan would have probably pushed us almost to that point.  Have some cash set aside.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Getting the Perfect First Day of School Picture!

In my mind, I had the perfect First Day of School pictures.  It would beat all the ones on Pintrest.  The kids would have Japanese fans with the "First Day of School" written very Asian-y across them, out on a rock jetty overlooking the Sea with some lush green vegetation all around.  DING DING DING...wake up call....Really, who has time for that on the first day of school?   (I don't think they really take those pictures on the first day of school.The lighting is never that good at 7:00 in the morning.)   I tried from the balcony, but the lighting was all wrong. It was 7:00 in the morning.  I tried from the parking lot, but it looked like a parking lot.  Jacob was so tired he would not stand still for a picture.  Then, when I looked back, driving in, I knew I had the perfect First Day of School Picture.  Bad lighting and all.

So then I was definitely going to buy the fan for Jill's First Day of School the next week.  It was her REAL first day of school anyway.  I had all week to get ready.  Run to the 100 yen store, find the perfect props, get the picture on the beach near her school... Bliss.  But this time I didn't even make it to preparing the fancy wipe board.  So my little miss is making a Big K in the Kitchen for the First Day of Kindergarten.  Good Luck Mrs. San Juan!

Okinawa Wanna Be's:

100 Yen Store is like a dollar store.

PCSing during summertime, aka PSC Season, is great if you want your kids to finish school.  But if you come over too late in the summer you may still be in the West Pac / Beach Condo until school starts.  They will tell you to start school in the temp housing's school district. Which will be a pain if you are actually going to live in another school district.  My kids were not going to school somewhere for 5 days and then switching.  Thank you, but no thanks.  I am in a beach condo, I will find a way to pass the time.  So I convinced the Gonna Be schools to let me register, and juggled and commuted them to 2 different schools for a week.  Had I not been allowed to do this, I would have registered them a week late.  I'm sure someone would have fussed at me, but people "I am just the dentist's wife."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mr. Miyagi was holding out on Danielson.

   Yes, Mr. Miyagi told Danielson about the fish in Okinawa.  But to the best I can recall, he only talked about fishing as an occupation.  Never in a recreational way.  That is because Danielson would have quit Karate, taken up snorkeling, opened a dive shop that served Americans and never gone back for college.  

     We woke up Saturday morning with nothing to do. We had plans but then they were canceled, because sometimes when you have kids, and your friends have kids, someone gets sick.  It happens.  Trust me.  So Martin went off to his class, cause he is Martin and he has found a class.  He calls later and says that Steve and Marianne have asked us to go snorkeling at  the beach.  They were going to bring boats.  OK, I like the beach.  I have sunscreen!  Even though we are not snorkelers we can make due.   So we pack up our bags: beach towels, Marshall's and Commissary clearance snorkels, bathing suits.  But I only ended up with suites for 3 out of 5 people,  which is a momma-mistake I have never actually made before, but I'm sure I will make again.  

  But it was noon, and we needed lunch.  So after yummy B-B-Q Lunch at Naps, we went to their house, borrowed swimsuits, loaded Kayaks, uploaded snacks to the cars, and left.  
Did you notice that terminology change?  Boats, which were in my mind some cool inflatable beach boats, became Kayaks.  That was like magic.

So we arrive at this secluded beach and everyone heads out to snorkel.  And they helped get us going cause they are good like that.  But we had only snorkeled in a swimming pool before and for 5 minutes at Tropical Beach before we were told it was not allowed.  So imagine our surprise when we saw these AMAZING fish.  Fish like we had only seen swimming with Nemo on the big screen, or in books.  In addition, Jill and I spent most of our time kicking around the inlet in the Kayak.  Super fun afternoon people.  Quite the three hour tour with our friend Marianne!  
   So if that is not enough, they actually invited Cece for a spend-the-night with their daughter, and sent us home with cold drinks.  Because they are good like that.  And if that is not enough, after we drove home, got food court, unloaded the sandy car, got sleeping sandy kids to bed, and grabbed more cold beverages of a different kind, there was a firework show in Naha.  And we could see this show from our back patio and enjoyed it with our cold beverages. 

And that was a pretty awesome end to a pretty awesome day.  

Here is my photo disclaimed, as my child reminded me that I will be plagiarizing if I do not include it.  I did not take these pictures.  I did not even take my camera or phone out of the car.  As I have mentioned I have a fabulous everyday camera, but in addition to not being LCDC, it also does not have underwater capabilities.  So I googled pictures of Okinawa and found these.  We saw these type fish and more and they really looked like this even though I didn't actually take these pictures myself.  So there.  I did take some fireworks pictures, but they came out bad.  I'm sure you all know how hard it is to get good fireworks pictures.  So I am leaving it to your imagination on that one.  Think big though.  

Okinawa Gonna Be's:  

I have been very happy with my Marshall's $12.99 Nerf Snorkle set.  I am glad I picked them up a few weeks before my move.  They do not have flippers though.  And closed toe beach shoes work best.  Serious gear can obviously be bought at the Scuba shops on base.  

Naps is a Southern Style BBQ place on Camp Shields.  It is Yummy BBQ served dry with your choice of sauces.  Sides are good, especially the Mac and Cheese.  My kids had not seen a plate of  chicken nuggets in a while and were happy to have them. It is Alabama themed, but they do not seem to endorse the Crimson Tide, and therefore my family can still frequent the establishment.  Camp Shields is almost adjacent to Kadena Air Force Base.  

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Summer Winds Down

After a crazy nomad summer, leaving Philadelphia, moving to Japan, and eating our way across the Gulf Coast, Summer has ended.  A few last beach days were super fun though.  As we all know, I LOVE the water, but even I have almost had enough.  If I have to apply sunscreen one more time I might sun scream!  This is a self skill we will have to work on next year.

My sweet girl Cecilia Claire will be entering middle school this year at Lester Middle School.  She is now 11 years old.  She is super excited about the policy of each student receiving a laptop.  Not so much about the 50 minute bus ride.

Okinawa Gonna Be's:  Yes I said 50 minute bus ride.  If you do not live in the Kadena / Foster general area, your kids will be riding the bus a good way to Middle School.  Each of those area has one.  Kadena services the Northern part of the Island, and Lester the Southern.  There are High Schools on Kadena and Foster.  Most bases have local elementary schools and this is very nice.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wax On, Wax Off

So if you are like me your entire information base on Okinawa comes from three Marines you knew, and uncle who was here 40 years ago, and the Movie Karate Kid 2.  I thought I was good until Martin told me that KK2 was filmed in Hawaii.  Uggggg.....

So I woke up at 4:30am the first morning and went for a walk. (Please do not mention to Dee Dee that I went out before daylight in a strange country on the first day I was there.  Thank You.)  That is what you do when you have been traveling for two days and want to stretch.

But, do you know what I saw that first morning when I walked?  Karate on the beach.  And why this was so reassuring, I am not sure. But I snapped this picture later, cause who can pass that up?   There were also Marines running on the beach, which is reassuring as well in a whole different way on your first morning.

I also found this super playground on Araha Beach which kept my kids busy on many afternoons.  It is a huge pirate ship with a tiny zip-line.

Okinawa Wanna Be's:  I was at first disappointed that there was "no room at the West Pac,"  but in hindsight am glad that we stayed out in town because we had to acclimate to the climate a little more.  Especially now that I am a hermit unpacking our new Unit.  EXPECT to be in West Pac (The lodge on Foster)  for 3 weeks when you arrive. You can hope for shorter, but might get longer.  If it is full they will send you into town.  If this happens and you are lucky enough to have a FABULOUS sponsor like we did, they will plop you down on a beach.  You will change rooms a few times if it is the busy season.  You will have to repack the 8 bags that hold everything you currently own and haul them to another room.  It will stink.  Try to look at it like vacation.  We stayed at Beachside Condominiums for two weeks and Okinawa Beach Tower for one.   The highlight to the Beach Tower was the pool complex with Dr. Fish!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

AMC Flight

Where do you start to tell your Epic Asian Move story?  Let me tell you people, in the months leading up to my move I was extremely fired up at some points and I was crapping in my pants at others.  "I am moving to Asia," is a phrases I said and thought many times.  But I did it!  The girl who never planned to leave Louisiana.

So even though this adventure starts the day you find out that you have orders, my story starts on an AMC Flight.  The AMC flight is known in certain circles as punishment worse than death.  It is pretty bad.  But luckily my kids travel like champions.  Also, I am blessed to have some of the most wonderful people on the earth in my life.  Susan knew more than I did about my plight, and basically drove 5 out of ten hours in and around Seattle so that I could sleep for 5 good hours in a fresh bed.  And so my sweet girl could see her BFF from Kindergarden.  Just what we needed, as we were leaving good people, not sure if we would see them again.  You are a lifesaver!  And to my new friend, who shared her Ponies and Pokemon, cause I am not as seasoned a military wife as she,  THANK YOU.  April, I will repay you in Gymboree hand me downs, I promise!  

And after more hours of travel than a mother of three likes to count, and two crazy flights and layovers, we approached Okinawa.  As we flew in a cabin of exhausted silence, the sun settling over this tropical lush paradise created a picture my camera could never capture.  Partially because I do not have an LCD camera like most of my friends and partially because I had children sleeping on me.  I realized that I could do a Pacific Island for three years.  

Okinawa Gonna Be's:  

The AMC flight leaves early in the morning.  Do not arrive in Seattle the night prior to your flight.  You need a break. Plus you are obviously adventurous and will want to see the city.   Were I to do it again I would have arrived at least two days prior.  Trust me.  

When flying with children, I only considered things that would be handy and occupy them on the plane.  But this Journey is more than I plane ride.  Within limited space, you must pack things that will WOW them on the plane, in the airport, AND in the hotel for three weeks.  Choose carefully or it will cost you in the end.  

I hope you fly in at Sunset!