Tuesday, July 29, 2008
After getting home from the lab for blood work (seven vials, ouch!) and physical therapy for my neck, I came home and thought it'd be a good idea to start his car. (Thanks to Julie for watching the girls for me!) Well no luck, the thing wouldn't turn over. Now I've never used jumper cables before, but I have seen them used before. So my new neighbor, Jen (her husband is gone too), and I gave it a go. Before I go on, you have to know how Jen and I met. I knocked on her door a week or so after she moved in and said, "Hi, I'm your neighbor, can you help me move my tv?" We hit it off and immediately sat down on the couch, chatted, drank the mango iced tea I brought from Hawaii, and we moved the tv so it was centered on the wall.
Don't laugh at what you're about to read, and don't roll your eyes either. I asked her if there would be instructions in the bag with them, and she insisted there must be. Well nope, no luck. So we winged it, and hoped for the best. Jen and I were looking at each other and laughing. Me behind the wheel of my car, she behind Bob's. I was keeping my fingers crossed that it would start, because the last thing I wanted to deal with was buying a new car battery. After letting my car run for a few minutes and revving the engine, his car finally turned over. She stayed in the front yard with our kids, her three and my two. We're in different buildings, each in an end unit, but our side yards touch. So I took his car around the block to let it charge up, parked it, cut the engine and then restarted it to make sure it'd run.
What is a MILITARY WIFE? They may look different and each is wonderfully unique, but this they have in common:
-Lots of moving
-Moving some more
-Moving even more
-Moving far from her hometown
-Moving two cars, three kids and one dog----all riding with HER of course
-Moving sofas to basements because they won't go in THIS house
-Moving curtains that won't fit
-Moving jobs and certifications and professional development hours
-Moving away from friends, moving toward new friends
-Moving her most important luggage; her trunk full of memories
-Often waiting-Waiting, waiting, waiting for housing; waiting for orders; waiting
for deployment; waiting for reunion; waiting for the precious 5 or 10 minute phone call; waiting for that 3 sentence email; waiting for the new curtains to arrive; waiting for him to come home for dinner----AGAIN!
-They call her 'military dependent,' but she knows better
-She can balance a checkbook
-Handle the yard work
-Fix a noisy or overflowing toilet
-She is intimately familiar with drywall, anchors, and toggle bolts
-She can file the taxes, sell a house, buy a car, or set up a move, and all with one Power of Attorney
-She welcomes neighbors that don't welcome her
-Reinvents her career with every PCS; locates a house in the desert, the arctic, or the deep south and learns to call them all 'home’
-She MAKES them all home
-She is fiercely IN-dependent
-Military wives are somewhat hasty
-They leap into decorating, leadership, volunteering, career alternatives, churches and friendships
-They don't have 15 years to get to know people, often just two or three
-Their roots are short but flexible
-They plant annuals for themselves and perennials for those who come after them
-Military wives quickly learn to value each other
-They connect over coffee, rely on the spouse-network, accept offers of friendship and favors and record addresses in pencil
-Military wives have a common bond
-The military wife has a husband unlike other husbands his commitment is unique. He doesn't have a job, he has a 'mission' he can't just decide to quit he's on-call for his country 24/7 but for you, he's the most unreliable guy in town!
-His language is foreign: TDY, PCS, OPR, LDO, PSD, ACC, BDU, TAD and EDO
-A military wife is a translator for her family and his. She is the long-distance link to keep them informed the glue that holds them together
Military Wife has her moments----
-She wants to wring his neck, dye his uniform pink, and refuse to move to Siberia, but she pulls herself together.
-Give her a few days, a travel brochure, a long hot bath, a pledge to the flag, and a wedding picture. And she goes. She packs. She moves. She follows.
Why? What for? How come? You may think it is because she has lost her mind. But actually it is because she has lost her heart. It was stolen from her by a man, a man who puts duty first and country first, longs to deploy, who salutes the flag, and whose boots in the doorway remind her that as long as he is her military husband, and she will remain his Military Wife.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
I bought a few bags of watermelon, and there are individually wrapped packages in the bag. I finally broke down and opened up a bag this afternoon. Keanna and Sydney love them, and I wasn't sure what to think...and was afraid to even try them. I took a bite of the corner on Keanna's, and it tasted good. A little bit of chocolate and a little bit of watermelon. It was almost as if the flavors were separate of each other, but complimented each other. From the outside it looks like a regular one, but there's a sweet smell to them, but not really a watermelon smell.
Nothing shook on the walls since it was only a 3.0 in our area, but further north it registered as 6.8. The Japanese Meteorological Agency posts the info right away. I've posted two maps, and the map to the right we're located on the smallest peninsula that's light blue, and the body of water northeast of us is Tokyo Bay. The larger peninsula on the other side of the bay is Chiba. You can go to this website and get a more detailed description of which area registered higher on the Richter Scale. FYI, we're in Kanagawa.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
So be sure to check out the blog, and feel free to join us! Doh! Just got an email about our second challenge.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I saw a sign for it at a train station when we were on our way to the Tanabata Festival. I thought to myself, "What the heck? Edible coffee?" After researching online about this odd sounding drink, I found out it's only available in Japan. So I taunted Shari, Terri, Alison and Liz about it, and all four demanded a taste test and photos. So not to let my friends down (we're all submarine wives and have known each other for years, but finally met up in Hawaii-except Alison), I went to the Starbucks on base prepared to be their advocate. I went a couple of weeks ago, and completely forgot to write about it!
By this point you probably are wondering what I thought of it. Well, it tasted good until chunks came up my straw...it was like chunks of jelly, but softer, more like Jell-o. It tasted good though, but it's a texture thing for me. The jelly pieces were large, but very soft so they broke apart and came right up the straw. Liz told me to bring a spoon...I opted not to, but when I grabbed my straw I got a spoon too! Keanna enjoyed it more than I did, and Sydney was too interested in her sunglasses!
So my vote? Thumbs down. Coffee is for drinking, not eating...especially in jelly form at the bottom of a frappuccino! And make sure you read the girl's hat in the first picture!
Aaaaanyway, on a lighter note, Julie rang the bell around 5 and handed me three tiny containers of Häagen-Dazs Alphonso Mango Sorbet. Now when I say tiny I mean tiny. But ya know, after having one of them, they really are the perfect size. Just the right amount to be satisfying, and small enough to not make me feel guilty about eating something shortly before bed. I swear small portion sizes like this are why the Japanese as a whole aren't overweight like us Americans. It's also helped me in losing about 15 lbs since we've arrived here in late March. So Julie, Scott and Noah, thanks so much for thinking of us while you were out today! Guess all the talk of my love of mangoes hasn't gone unnoticed! I appreciate it, and the girls will tomorrow when they eat theirs.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
I haven't posted in five days because it's been a rough week. Everything's fine for the most part, but I am now wearing a new accessory, a cervical collar; the girls and I call it my new necklace.
Nearly two weeks ago I hurt my neck and shoulder carrying a backpack, Sydney and double stroller up and down stairs going through three train stations. We went to the Tanabata Festival and had a really good time. The next morning, Tuesday, I woke up with a kink in my neck and blew it off to sleeping funny. The following day it was still bothering me, but by that night my arm would be tingly and numb...almost felt like my funny bone was being hit constantly, and from my shoulder to my fingers, not just at my elbow. Thursday morning I woke up to what felt like a knife on the ride side of the back of my neck. The muscle between my neck and shoulder hurt really bad, and if I moved it felt like a jolt of electricity traveled from my neck to my fingers on my right hand. I looked online, a hypochondriac's dream, and figured it was a strained muscle, and the muscle was hitting the nerve. I put ice on my shoulder and neck, took motrin and hoped for the best. By Saturday I was doing better, and the constant headache was subsiding. It wasn't painful, but felt more like a lot of pressure right at the top of my neck...at the hairline. I was also able to hang on to a half gallon of milk which I almost dropped a few days earlier.
Since I was feeling better, on Sunday I wanted to hang up more pictures. So I asked a neighbor to help me move the entertainment center and TV. It wasn't centered and up against the wall, so it didn't need that much adjustment. We were done within a few minutes, and when I knelt down to pull, I felt that jolt again and knew I had made a big mistake. That night the pain was worse than it had been, and I considered going to the E.R. I read more about pinched nerves, and since my hand and arm weren't discolored, I didn't think going in would be necessary. I gave it another couple of days before calling the doctor, and when I did they told me to come in. They booked an appointment for me for Wednesday and I went in that afternoon.
The doctor said said there's a knot in the back of my neck...her words: it's like someone shot 20 CCs of saline into it. Physical therapy starts next week and I'm on some pretty impressive meds. Can't drive or lift, and if I'm in pain in two weeks I get an MRI to see if it's a disc. In the mean time I have to ice it for 10 minutes every hour. Swell! The girls have been fairly cooperative, and my new friends here have been offering help. Today the girls went to Julie's house for about 90 minutes, and it was great to just hear the quiet in the house. I haven't done laundry in almost a week since I can't lift the basket, but today needed to change the sheets on Keanna's bed. I had her climb on the bed and strip it, and I kicked the sheets down the stairs. I can walk okay, and thankfully my lower back is okay, but I'm extremely uncomfortable. Yesterday the girls pulled a chair over to the pantry, climbed up and opened a large bag of potato chips. Lovely. Chips were all over the kitchen and living room floors, and they even managed to bring the bag upstairs. I followed the trail just like in Hansel and Gretel. Thankfully the vacuum was upstairs. I used my left arm and vacuumed, and knew I had to do downstairs since it was much worse. I was stepping on chips making it worse and dragging them even more around the house. Keanna helped me, but my neck started bothering me. The muscle feels better, but my spine hurts more now.
Not much fun with no husband around, but we're managing. Before I got on the medicine I was averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night and sleeping on the couch during the day. The girls now know how to turn on the TV, change out DVDs and Wii games, and Keanna's been petting my face and hair like a dog reassuring me that she'll take care of me. It's so cute!
So here's a summary...
-definitely a pinched nerve
-doc (a female commander, really liked her) thinks it's a muscle strain causing it, so basically a pulled muscle which is better than if it were a disc problem
-it's not overly serious, but I need physical therapy and start next week
-she named it along with the nerves but it was Greek to me
-she felt the back of my neck and had me do all these different things with my head, neck hands and arms
-she also said it's very swollen-neck and shoulder area as a whole, not just the knot. I can see how much puffier my right side is than my left
-I'm on a really good muscle relaxer/anti-inflammatory too
-can only drive if I must, no heavy lifting
-if I'm still in pain in 2-3 weeks she wants to do an MRI to see if it's a disc problem
Friday, July 18, 2008
As you know (or would if you've been reading my blog recently), RIMPAC is going on right now in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. It's a Naval exercise involving lots of different countries, and apparently Rex's ship was close to a Royal Australian Navy ship.
Now as for his name, the sign addresses him by his last name, but I blurred it out since it's being posted on the internet and being viewed by complete strangers. The sign reads, " **** MY FRIEND WANTS TO MEET."
When I talked to Susan, Rex's wife, I asked her how they could know his last name. She asked Rex the same question, and he told her they've got super-powered (or whatever the correct term is) binoculars; one of them is set up behind the second girl from the left. So there ya have it!
Glad to see Rex is doing his part to continue on with the United States and Australian alliance!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Last time I wrote about him he had just left Guam after a short port visit there. Well he spent last week in Hawaii and left there on Tuesday morning. The carrier arrived on July 1st, but he flew off a day early on a C-2 aircraft because of a meeting the morning of the 1st. So talk about a once in a lifetime experience! Not many people can say they've flown off an aircraft carrier.
Bob went diving a few times while he was there as well. He met up with a guy from the sub, and they went with a small group. One in the group was Raymond. We know him and his wife, Melissa, since they live next door to Susan. Bob even got to meet and hang out with Rex, Susan's husband. I met Rex for all of five minutes...and I was wearing my Elmo pajamas too! I actually met Susan through our Hawaii Military Wife message board...Shari asked me to pick up moving boxes at Susan's house because I lived closer to her than she did. So Susan, I guess we have Shari to thank for introducing us!!!
I asked some ladies on my Hawaii Military Wives message board to share pictures of the Kitty Hawk leaving if they had any. Courtney, Katherine and Susan came through, and even Susan's husband, Rex did! Rex took pictures from his ship, and got some incredible shots. THANK YOU guys so much!!!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
July 7th is Tanabata (七夕) in Japan, a day for making wishes and hanging them on bamboo trees. Tanabata, also known as Star Festival, is based on a Chinese legend about a couple separated by the Milky Way. A long time ago, Ten-kou, the god of the sky had a daughter called Orihime who spent her time weaving cloth for the gods. Ten-kou was worried because his daughter did nothing but work every day so he introduced her to Hikoboshi Kengyu, who spent all his time taking care of cows. When they met, they fell in love and soon spent all their time together. As a result, all the cows became sick and when the gods’ clothing wore out, there was no new cloth to make more. This made Ten-kou very angry so he took Orihime away to the other side of the river Amanogawa (the Milky Way) and wouldn’t allow the lovers to meet anymore. This made them so sad that they were unable to work. Eventually, Ten-kou felt so sorry for them that he decided to allow them to meet once a year on July 7th as long as they worked hard the rest of the year.
Traditionally people hoped that the sky would be clear on that day so that the lovers could meet over the Milky Way. If it rained, the water level of the Amanogawa River would rise and they would be unable to cross. Originally people made this wish by writing it on a piece of paper and hanging it on a bamboo tree. Nowadays, people write their own wishes instead. Though adults sometimes participate, these days it is largely an activity for children.
Tanabata decorations are all over the place here. Bamboo stalks have colorful strips of paper hung on them; set up at supermarkets, community centers, city offices, train stations and schools. And usually there's a box filled with blank sheets of colored paper (tanzaku), and some pens or pencils which have been placed somewhere nearby. These are there so that anyone so inclined can write down their wish (or poem) and then tie it onto the tree. These days, it is mostly little kids who enjoy doing this, but you will still see plenty of hopeful teenagers and adults writing their prayers for family health, success in exams, protection from earthquakes, finding romance, etc. Yesterday Star and I wrote one and hung it up with the others. It cost ¥100 (about $1). A man sitting behind a table had the paper, and was wearing a sash from The Lions Club. So come to find out, The Lions Club exists here too! But anyway, it must have been a fund raiser for them. There were tables like this set up all over the place, and we took advantage of the first one we saw.
Apparently there are Tanabata festivals all over, and the one we went to was held in Hiratsuka. We walked around a lot, and since it was a lot less crowded yesterday than on Sunday, we were able to participate in more of the activities. The pictures pretty much speak for themselves, but I wanted to share a few details. The girls were "fishing" and the idea is to get the object into the silver bowl using the paddle. Only the paddle has paper on the inside, so it rips easily when you put the thing on there to try to lift it into the bowl.
Then we found a booth with what looked like rice paper. You paint a reddish liquid on there, then the girl sprinkles the crystals on...I think the girls enjoyed this the most! Star won a turtle, and she had to scoop it up out of the water. But when the cup got wet it would tear, so same idea as the "fishing" game. She got a turtle though, and the girls loved watching it! The girls stuck their heads in a cut-out and we took their picture in there, and a nice older man carried Keanna over there and then held Sydney up high enough for her to fit. He said something in Japanese which I'm assuming was asking permission to bring them over there...pretty neat, and the girls loved him!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
On July 4, 1776 the American Continental Congress voted to approve the Declaration of Independence, in which the American colonies proclaimed their separation from Britain. And fifty years to the day after the approval of the Declaration of Independence, which they both had a hand in drafting, former presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died in 1826.
We spent the morning at home making brownies and a yummy cream cheese and red pepper dip. Nothing too fancy, and certainly easy. In the afternoon we headed to Brenda's house (the same woman we went to the beach with a couple of weeks ago), and since she lives on the main base, I left my car there and we walked over to the little carnival/fair MWR put on for the families here. It was open to the public as well, so there were a lot of Japanese families there. Little girls were wearing their yukatas, and I even saw a woman wearing one. All of the locals were dressed in red, white and blue, had patriotic hats on, and most even had the temporary tattoos on. It's a great way to improve the relationship with our host country...especially since some of them aren't happy about the USS George Washington coming here...it's a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, so there is a known protest because of it.
Anyway, getting back to it, before we left Brenda's we indulged in some goodies at her house. Her daughter, Brianna, joined us for the walk and met up with some friends. Oh, and you'll see me pushing a new stroller...this thing is awesome, but kicked my butt putting it together. Well worth it though, and this was the first time we used it outside...until last night it was only pushed around the kitchen and living roomI bought extra tickets, so once we used some up I gave the rest to Bri to play games with...on the condition that if she wins a prize it goes to the girls. She did great and won four times! I took some pictures and uploaded them into my Shutterfly album if you want to see them.
The girls went in bouncy thing shaped like a big car, and then we had temporary tattoos put on our faces. I even joined the fun and got one. We walked around for a little while, then grabbed a snack [at the all-American fast food joint], McDonalds, and headed over to watch the fireworks. After all, how can a red-blooded American celebrate Independence Day without seeing fireworks?! They started right on time, of course since it was put on by the military, and since we weren't at the field yet, we found a grassy spot by the post office and watched from there. Sydney was afraid and had me covering her ears, then she got brave enough to sit by herself and cover her own ears. Just as Bri was getting ready to snap this picture Keanna grabbed Brenda and me and pulled us into her...she said afterward she wanted to put her arms around us to make sure we were all in the picture.
Afterward we headed back to Brenda's, finished up most of the brownies, had some more of that dip, and she opened up the fruit salad she made. We ate, chatted and the girls played the Wii. As you can see, they all had a fun time, and Sydney, my little firecracker, fell fast asleep on the couch!
Thanks so much for opening your home to us Brenda! Keanna's already asking to come back to play with Calvin (their dog), and Sydney wants to sit next to Bri on the couch. It was so nice spending the evening with another military family, especially one with a deployed spouse too! Patriotic holidays have an entirely different meaning to those with an immediate family member serving their country; especially a parent.
Oh...almost forgot! Good thing the strongest thing I had to drink last night was "Cora," because they were giving breathalyzer tests to everyone entering and leaving the base. The guy told me to exhale in there so I did, but apparently I did it wrong, because he told me I needed to pretend I was blowing out a candle. I laughed, excused myself and told him this was my first breathalyzer, he chuckled and sent me on my way. Phew! But anytime there's an event on base like this, and even on random days throughout the week they do breathalyzers, so this wasn't a shock at all. We got home around midnight and had a great night!