Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Eye of Sauron

Maybe you get the reference and maybe not. You can look it up if you want, but it's probably not necessary. Moving on. The heating units in the apartment are located at the top of the wall near the ceiling. We use a remote to change the settings. There are many indicator lights on the front, however I've only seen one illuminated. As far as I can tell this light indicates that the unit is on and is therefore on all the time. This has got to be the brightest, tiny light I have ever seen. In the land where I can't find a single digital clock with a constantly illuminated face, this is bright enough to light up the room and disturb our sleep. It gives everything a ghastly green glow and it's just dim enough to make you wake up fully to figure out what the heck it is, every time you roll over. Seriously, why is this thing so bright. I get it, you are on, go away now.

We currently have the light covered with a sticker that came off of some product or another (we have no tape). Scott is under the belief that this sticker will fall off during the night and due to the air currents created by the heater will fly across the room and hit him in the eye. I really don't see this happening, that air would have to be moving pretty fast, but I'll still laugh super hard when it does.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Base

Saturday we went and picked up my base pass, which allows Evan and I access to the base and certain areas, but only for 60 days. Then we have to reapply and get a new pass. Seems like a hassle but that seems to be a running theme. On base there are several american restaurants, McDonald's, Taco Bell, Sabarro, and apparently a Chili's. There are two movie theaters, and a couple coffee places, as well as the exchange and the commissary. I can go into the exchange with Scott, however I have to stay with him the whole time and I'm not allowed to purchase anything. I cannot go into the commissary. Why, I have no idea. I actually think it's just because the government likes to make arbitrary rules to make life more inconvenient. Moving on. There is also a library, where we can check out books.

I'm so glad we can finally get books again.  At home we go every couple of weeks, not so much for me, but we read books to Evan a lot, and the four books I brought on the plane were really starting to get old. I mean he'd read the same book for weeks I think but mommy and daddy need little variety. I can only carry a few, so that will mean more frequent trips to the library, but I'm okay with that, mostly means more walking for me and perhaps some decent pizza. The Japanese don't quite make it the way we like it, at least I haven't found a restaurant that does yet.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I So Didn't Need to See That

It's probably actually more horrifying than you think. I know that I've been permanently scarred. We went for a short sanity walk this morning. Turns out in the end it was more needed than I thought. We attempted to get ready to go at about 10:15, but due to much whining, I put that on hold and the boy in his room. I mean really, he's the one who wanted to go. I was leaving the apt. specifically for him, and all he could do was whine about having to get ready. Well since I didn't care about leaving I decided that we wouldn't. Of course he freaked out for a little while, and then decided that he was going to be okay and not whine while he got ready. 30 min. after we were originally going to leave the house, we were out the door.

I just planned on walking around the block, which actually means we walk for a while and then turn around, because where we are located there are one way streets and lots of tunnels,  so to walk around the block takes way more effort than just turning around. I had thought that I might pick something up for dinner on the way back but turns out I wasn't actually motivated to do that, but I did pick up a bag of apples.

Just before the tunnel before the road that our apt. is on there is what appears to be an abandoned house. The windows are broken and there is a run down car out front. Lots of stuff piled inside. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a rather large web. Upon further inspection, there was a really, really big spider hanging from this web. OH THE HORROR! This is probably the largest spider I have ever seen, not at a zoo or on t.v., with the exception of those crazy lake/swamp spiders we used to get at the crisis respite center near Snake Lake. Those suckers were insane. This was a serious spider, bigger than a brown recluse, the legs were much longer, like a daddy long leg, only much more substantial. I think that had I known about these, I may have put a little more thought into this crazy trip of ours. Swear to God, one of those gets in the apt. I'm going to have a heart attack. I nearly had one on the street, and couldn't stop eying every crevice in the tunnel as we went through, hoping that none were lurking near by.

In a place where there is so little crime people leave their bikes on the side of the road, not locked up, just there, and know that they will still be there when they return,  my biggest fear has become these spiders. It leads me to wonder what eats these spiders, what other sorts of crazy bugs or animals are out there? People can be controlled, but nature often has a mind of it's own.

Irrational? Yes, but I will continue to scrunch up on the couch, nervously scanning the corners of the room.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


On Scott's one day off this week, we decided to go to Kamakura and see the Great Buddha. This is not far from where we are staying, just a few train stops away. This is primarily a photo post, so I hope you enjoy.
Evan, not nearly as excited over the McDonald's as I would have thought. Now if it had been a Jack in the Box, we would have been in business. 
We ate here anyway, and he seemed to enjoy his nuggets.

On the way we passed a Starbucks, and also didn't walk very far before we passed another one.
Good to see that you can clog your arteries with a Double Down anywhere.

Not sure if either one of us was feeling very photogenic.
These vending machines are everywhere. This one has cold as well has hot drinks.
Washing our hands before going to see the Great Buddha.

Evan and Scott going inside Buddha's tummy. I stayed out, cause it seemed creepy.

Overall a great day. On our way back to the train station Evan insisted on having green ice cream, which was green tea flavored and tasted almost like a green tea frappuccino. He really enjoyed it. They also had purple sweet potato flavor, we'll save that for a day when we are feeling brave. We stopped at a bakery right outside the train station and got some great treats before heading home, where we made pizza for dinner. I think the pizza was probably Evan's favorite part.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Don't Screw With Mommy at 6:45am

This post has nothing to do with Japan, so deal with it or don't read it. Time to vent. I believe the boy has officially moved into the stage of his life where he feels that he knows more than I do, and will do whatever he wants instead of what I ask him to do. As a male I know that this is the last stage of his social development.

He actually seems to get great joy from ignoring what mommy and daddy say to do and just doing his own thing as we grow more and more frustrated. Evan missed out on pre-rest stories twice yesterday and it's not the first time this week. He just refuses to stop, regardless of the consequences.

This morning at quarter to six he comes in and tells me good morning. Now we all know that Evan is not allowed to bother mommy before 7am. Before you all freak out because I make him stay in his room till 7, you must know that if I let him get up whenever he wanted it would not be 6:45. It would be 6 or 5:30 or whatever other ungodly hour he chooses to roll out of bed. Then as a result of getting up so early, he is crabby all day, there is lots of crying and screaming and no one has a good day, so 7am is a good compromise. Back to this morning at 6:45. I then ask him what the clock says. His response, "which clock?"
 Really? Which clock, "the one in your room."
"I don't have a clock in my room."
Seriously, I bought the stupid thing 3 days ago, do you think I forgot? "Yes you do. Go find it."
"I don't know where it is."
I storm into his room and look in the place where we usually keep the clock. It is indeed not there. After further questioning, he still doesn't know where it is. I search the room, telling him that I will not be buying him a new clock and if he can't tell what time to get up, then he will have to wait until I come to let him out in the morning. He watches me the whole time, doing nothing. As I reach for the drawer on the dresser, he announces that the clock is in the dresser, and low and behold, that is just where it is. He knew the whole time. I was so mad at him, a lesser mom would have slapped him and I would have cheered. Yes that probably doesn't make me that much better than her but at this moment in time I really don't care.

 All I can say is that the next 14 years are going to be practically unbearable and Evan will be spending a whole lot of time in his room, unless he can see fit to stop screwing with mommy. Thank God he goes to half day preschool in the fall and then full day kindergarten the next year, because full time Evan is just not going to work for me anymore

Know this. Everyone always wants intelligent children. I'm not trying to say Evan is a super genius or anything, but he does catch on quick and knows how to push other people's buttons. Perhaps we should all want a child of a slightly dimmer nature. One you can get one over on, who can't deceive you because they lack the knowledge necessary to lie successfully. You can get smart after you leave my house, but until then, don't just play dumb, cause that won't work. Actually be dumb.

There, rant over. If you stuck it out, thanks. If not, I totally understand.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Half a Million Stairs Later

So probably not literally, but it certainly felt that way, especially once we got back home. We were told about this really cool park that you have to walk to of course (remember the stairs). It is also next to or part of a plum grove, and I've been told that when the trees bloom the emperor comes to this grove to see them. Evan really wanted to go to a park and I was told that it was about a 20 min walk away and totally worth it. Here's where my pat answer comes in (It sounded like a good idea at the time). Also, I think perhaps I was misled on the actual distance, however the map should have been some indication, since it seemed really far away on the map. I kind of assumed that the map was skewed or something. See what happens when you assume?

After a quick call to Grandma, we headed out to the park, it was just after 10. I knew where the road was that I needed to take to get to the many stairs that would lead us up to the park, it was only a few blocks away. Evan really wanted to walk but I was able to convince him to ride in the stroller to the stairs since I was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to walk the distance to the stairs and then to the park. Turns out I was right. I took me probably about 20 min to get to the base of the stairs, not a bad walk and I was able to find them without any issues. Then we started the climb. Evan was racing up the stairs at a pace I was having trouble matching. He was excited and didn't have a stroller and a bag to carry.
At the base of the stairs
Still more stairs and not nearly all of them
We just kept walking up the hillside. We walked past a few small gardens and passed by part of the plum grove where there were a few trees with blossoms but mostly Jonquils and a small white flower, perhaps Paper Whites, not sure though. When we did make it to the top, it was pretty cool.

We walked up a little further and then we could finally see the tops of some play equipment, it was down on the side of the hillside. It was rather interesting, sort of a large obstacle course. At this point it was 11:10, so it had taken us almost an hour to get here.

As far as I could tell this was a ninja course
As evidence by this sign at the entrance
The various structures, Evan and I did each one.

He played for about 40 min and then I decided it was time to head back, it was 11:50 and nearly time for lunch. I knew the walk back was going to be just as long as the one up. As soon as we started to head back, Evan asked if I could carry him, boy were we in trouble. I managed to get him to come along at a rather slow pace at first, but it gave me opportunity to take a few more pictures along the way. We finally made it back to the bottom, at which point I wished that Evan could push me in the stroller, instead of the other way around. My pace was a little slower than when we came but this was still a relatively quick part of our journey. We walked in the door at 12:50.

Was this a really cool destination, yes, I'm glad that we went. However, it is not going to satisfy our need for a park, it is just too far and a little too much work to get to. We will continue to look for a park a little easier to get to. I hope that I can convince him to go back when all the trees are in bloom, I'm sure it will be amazing.

These flowers smelled amazing. You could smell them in the air as we walked  along. I'm not sure what they are though.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Not So Far Apart

I went to town on my own today. Took the train and went shopping. We needed groceries and a few other misc. items. Most important for Evan was a stroller, because he is not enjoying all the walking as much as I thought he would. Most important for mommy was a clock for Evan's room, so he can stop waking me up at 6am, telling me a) lion said it was time to wake up, b) my body said it was time to get up, c) my tummy is starving for food, please get up. I managed to pay for everything with cash, a rarity for me, since I pretty much only use my debit card at home, however, Japan is a cash based society. I was able to figure out most of the coins, but will have to ask Scott about one of them, or just pawn them off on him and not worry about it.

The market at the mall is awesome. There are so many things that I want to try, and I'm not sure if I will have time. They have stuff to make your own meals, produce, meats and grains, that sort of thing. But they also have a lot of prepared foods, like sushi, and hot dishes, tempura and various stir fried items. It all smells wonderful, I just want to eat everything. There is a bakery that is pretty similar to the one a Paldo World, but bigger and even though I will be walking a lot more, I worry that I'm going to put on weight with all this food to try. Also in the food court in the mall there is a place called Mister Donut that smells heavenly and right past there there is a crepe stand. I'm never going to make it. Today I managed to buy mostly veggies and some proteins. Perhaps next time I will be able to figure out the milk and buy some healthy snacking options.

While roaming around the mall I passed a music/video store (think FYE) and they were playing a bunch of music video clips from Glee, and there was a giant display with Glee albums and the DVDs. I was reminded that even though it feels like I'm really far from everything I have ever known, we are really not so far apart.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Home, Safe Home

I promise this will be a short one, just wanted to give everyone a tour around the apartment.

The front entry way. This is inside the apartment and the door directly in front leads to the rest of the apartment. The two doors off to the left are the laundry/shower and the toilet. 
Laundry/shower room. This is a combination washer/dryer in one unit. Not looking forward to using it. 
Shower/tub room. There is a water tight door and you shower on the floor essentially. Another interesting fact, you can run the bath from the kitchen, set the temp and everything.  
Toilet room, and that's it. This is the tiniest sink I have ever seen. 
Kitchen, in case you couldn't tell. There is just a three burner stove and a tiny fish oven. The silver part is where the oven is in the center, the black window. Below is just cabinets.  
Other side of the kitchen, including a tiny fridge and freezer. Strangely the cupboards are really high up, I have to stretch to reach the bottom shelf. 
Living room, with balcony. 
Me standing at the sliding glass door looking in at the room. Gives you an idea of how big, or little the room really is. 
So-so pic of the view out the balcony. Just more apartment buildings.  
Master bedroom, there is a 'closet' behind the sliding doors behind the bed.
Strange 'closet' behind the bed. Even stranger is that there is a rather large window in here. Some people who only get a one bedroom use this space a room for their child. Hard to see that it is big enough for that, but about half the size of the room that we have Evan in.
Evan’s room. This is actually smaller than his room at home. Those of you who have seen it may find it hard to believe.

Another view on his room.

The Longest "Day" Ever

Instead of beginning at the beginning, we'll start at the airport. Thanks to help from Jaime, we were able to get ourselves and our large suitcase checked in very easily. We then headed off to security, where the line seemed okay, I mean I've waited through worse lines trying to get to Vegas. While waiting in line, a bunch of flight crew got in line in front of us, and then it was going to be our turn. I had all our stuff in bins, as well as our three carry on bags on the rollers, when one of the TSA officers tells me, 'This line is for crew only. You need to move over to the next line." Now I swear that there were other passengers in front of me who got through before the flight crew came along and obviously it wasn't marked well enough, but fine, whatever. So the next line over wasn't too bad but there were at least 10 people in front of us. I stacked up all my bins and started to attempt to move over to the other line, all while trying to wrangle Evan in the right direction. The TSA officer in the next line, a woman of course, told me to cut in the line so that there was only one person in front of us. She looked at the guy behind me and said,"If anyone has a problem with it, than too bad. The other officer should have made it clear before that the line was only for crew." I felt awful, I"m not one to take advantage because I might have it a little more difficult. We all make choices and I should have packed less, therefore making it easier to get through security. I nearly cried at this point, but held it together, and the guy behind me didn't seem all that irritated. After that we made it through without any other issues. 

We boarded the plane early and were all set up by the time the seats around us started to fill. Evan was excited as the plane took off, but was also very tired, because it was past nap time, so he was asleep, before we hardly even in the air. It is now just after 1pm Seattle time. He slept for about an hour, then watched a movie and had a few snacks. At this point I am reminded of two things: 1. Evan is better at traveling than I give him credit for. Of course if I had someone catering to my every whim so that I wouldn't throw a fit, I might be a better traveler too. 2. Evan is a better traveler than I am, but this really just goes back to my first point. It has only been a little under 4 hours and we still have 6 and a half hours left. I have no idea how I'm going to make it.

I listen to the last half of Toy Story 3, and then watch a movie on my own, but this really only brings us to the half way point, still a long ways to go. Some time about now, the man across the isle tells me how impressed he is with how Evan has behaved on the flight and actually tells me this several more times along the way. There were others on the plane that were not doing as well, one in particular who cried for at least 75% of the flight. 

Around 9pm Seattle time I could see that Evan was starting to get tired, and frustrated more easily. We still had almost 3 hours left, so I decided he needed to have rest. He wasn't that happy about it but didn't scream or cry. It took a while for him to fall asleep, even while listening to his Josh Grobin. Once asleep, he slept till about an hour before landing, I however hadn't slept at all. 
He was playing a computer game when we started our decent and I noticed that he was poking his ears. I had some mints, which I fished out and gave him a couple. He was still poking his ears and then started to cry. I tried to get him to eat some fruit snacks or even a piece of gum, but he didn't want any of those things. I called the stewardess to get a glass of water, I knew he had to swallow to release the pressure. The whole processes was about 5 min, before we had some water. As soon as he had a few swallows he was feeling better. He went back to the game and every time I noticed him poking his ear, I'd give him some more water and he was fine the rest of the flight.

After landing, and de-boarding, we had to go to immigration, baggage claim, and then customs. It was quiet a long walk to immigration, and Evan kept asking me if we were at the apartment yet. He was definetly done.. When it was our turn at the immigration counter, I had left the space on the form that asked about where we were staying and a telephone number blank. I had no idea what these were, other than the fact that Scott was working in Yokuska. Well this was not good. I explained that my husband was here for work and that he worked for the navy as a civilian. They then wanted to see my dependent ID. However they didn't appear to like that. The agent I had been talking to, then called someone else over, who didn't like my ID any better. He took it, along with our passports and forms and went into another room. Eventually they asked me to follow them into what appeared to be the immigration holding room, where another agent proceeded to ask clarifying questions. Finally I was able to provide them with what they wanted and they let us go. Some how in the process we were able to get our SOFA stamps, which allows us to stay longer than 90 days, usually as a dependent, because I don't have travel orders, I would have to make a seperate trip to the embassy. 
So after an additional half an hour, we got our checked bag, breezed through customs and were out the doors where Scott was waiting for us. To say Evan was excited to see him, would have been an understatement. 

We then got on the first of two trains to take us to the apartment, at 6:15pm Japan time, which would be 12:15am Seattle time. When we finally made it to the apartment it was after 9pm local time so 3am for the rest of you. Remember I haven't slept since the night before. I got Evan set up for bed, and took a much needed shower. I then helped him go to sleep, since he wanted mommy, and finally went to bed myself sometime after 10pm. I woke up once in the night to pee, but otherwise slept till morning. I was reminded at quarter to 6, that Evan needs a clock in his room so he knows when it is okay to get up, but overall a decent nights sleep. I think that Evan worded it best, when we stepped into the apartment for the first time, "Home, safe home." At least for the next 5 months.