Days go By

It’s been a while since I have posted anything about our adventures and transition to living in Japan. Only because it has been crazy, and our life has been running at a million miles an hour. So where to start?

Exploring at it’s Finest

So since my last time writing, we have taken a few trips around Iwakuni, even to Hiroshima. So let’s start with one of my favorite trips we took as a family, smack dab in between the two, a place called Miyajima. Also known as Deer Island. For those who have no idea what it is, it’s an island here that you take a 10 minute ferry ride to get to, where there is an abundance of deer on this single island. Crazy right? Growing up I liked to relate myself to snow white (as far as talking to animals), so petting a deer has been on the top of my bucket list. Getting off the ferry my husband and I went straight for the ice cream shop and each got our own ice cream. (Side note: He got “deer poop” which is chocolate coffee bits on vanilla/chocolate ice cream, I got a blueberry sundae which is the best sundae I have ever had. So if you visit, GET ICE CREAM!) Well, we were warned eating around deer was dangerous, because they are NOT afraid of humans or scared to take your food. So here we were eating our ice cream, no deer around us, munchkin in the baby carrier just sight-seeing. Then suddenly here comes this deer sneak attacking my husband for his ice cream. So we decided to stand up, next thing we know they are circling us, and they started trying to bite munchkins feet. Which she returned with a laugh and a kick to their faces.  We spent about 6 hours there exploring, getting souvenirs and petting deer.
IMG_3402

Let’s see our next adventure, was to Hiroshima. We actually had gone another time before to see the historical Dome, but had to cut our trip short because our poor little munchkin got sick. So that one is going to come again later on. However, being the Americans we are, we took a trip to Hiroshima to go to Starbucks. Where we actually found a huge 3-4 story mall, one of the cleanest malls I have ever seen. I shouldn’t be surprised because the Japanese are VERY clean people. I won’t even exaggerate a little, we spent 5 hours walking around and still didn’t get to see everything. The third floor has a huge arcade with claw machines bigger than I had ever seen. So naturally my husband had to take advantage and we ended up playing for 2 hours. He eventually won our little munchkin a giant sized stuffed pig from the movie “Moana.” Which to this day she is still in love with. One of the most amazing things I had seen at the mall though, was the parking garage. In America, we spend forever going down every lane and every level trying to find a spot. Here they have signs on the ceiling for every lane saying how many spots are open, or if there are none. Once you turn down, every 5 spots has a sign saying if there is a section with a spot open. Being a parent, or even just a person, my life was so much easier when parking.

A more recent trip we had taken we went to a place called Glass Beach, where you are supposed to find a lot of sea glass. When we got there the first thing I noticed was how clear and blue the water was. Living in California, then Virginia, I have never seen water that I can see straight through. It was so beautiful. We walked around for a little to just take it all in. We decided to stop and let little munchkin put her feet in the water. Biggest mistake, she was TERRIFIED and screamed and cried. There was nothing she liked about it, the waves scared her to her core. We decided to just keep walking along the beach some more. Walking down a little more we saw these two little Japanese girls with fishing nets, and a tank with what we thought was just water. Come to find out, it was full of water and clear jelly fish. The shore was infested with them, we had no idea and all of us had been getting in the water. I am not sure what they do with the jelly fish, do they let them go at the end of the day, do they eat them, keep them as pets? We will never know.  I honestly have no idea how none of us got stung. I am very grateful munchkin didn’t get stung, especially with how she was kicking her feet. We ended up just sitting and relaxing looking for shells and sea glass for a couple of hours.
IMG_3469

Saying Japan has been an adventure in an understatement. We are slowly taking in the culture and the area around us. I am so glad munchkin will be able to enjoy this for the next couple of years.

Youme or not Youme, that is the question.

It’s been a minute since I have decided to share our family’s adventures. As you can imagine moving to another country causes culture shock, and we are adjusting. Now that we are a little more settled I’ll go over our few travels into Iwakuni, Japan.

Getting lost isn’t always so bad


Our first time going out into town, all we wanted was to go to this shopping town center called “Youme Town.” Naturally, I use my navigation to type it in and find the correct way to get us there. Only problem was my husband argued for 20 minutes saying it’s the opposite direction than what my map was telling us. But we went anyways…
Driving there had us site seeing; all the shops are extremely close or share a wall, there’s close to no parking, besides the parking lots you have to pay for then walk to your destination, and everyone rides bikes or walks. The stores here are on the smaller side, and not so great looking (on the outside). And of course all the writing is in Japanese, leaving us playing a guessing game of what store was what.
Youme Town, or at least what I thought was Youme Town, was on side streets (ally size side streets) and nothing of what it looked like in pictures. I then knew I was clearly wrong with my directions, and I might have been better off listening to my husband. But we parked and walked around to find a place to eat anyways. 

We found this tiny place in an alley way looking street, I couldn’t tell you what it is called to save my life, but it is a Yakiniku restaurant. From my American understanding it is a Japanese steakhouse, but only you grill the food at your table yourself. And let me tell you, it is hands down the best meat I have ever had. Walking in I wasn’t so sure about it, we had to go upstairs to get in, and the place was very very small. In Japanese culture you are to take off your shoes before sitting for a meal, and as simple as that sounds, it was a huge experience just taking off our shoes at a restaurant. The best part of the restaurant was their chocolate cake, oh it was to die for.

The REAL Youme Town & a little baby puke

I’m sure the title speaks for itself, but let me explain our day anyways. So our second adventure we decided to go to the real Youme Town since my poor navigation led us the wrong way the night before. 

First we had to go out to get some lunch. We went to a pretty well known curry restaurant calles CoCo’s Curry. It’s not the fanciest place, but everyone raves about it and my husband is a fan of curry so we figured why not? I however got a salad (boring, I know). The most facinating part of this restaurant story is I ate my ceaser salad with chopsticks. Because they use chopsticks like we use forks here, for everything. 

(By the way this whole time we are at the restaurant, Munchkin managed to sleep the whole time. Her sleeping skills are truly starting to impress even me.)

So after eating, we took ourselves next door to Youme Town. Walking up to it, I was so excited thinking it was this decent size mall, with different shops… we get inside and it’s like an indoor flea market type of things. None of the shops are seperated, in fact, I wanted to buy things but had no idea where to even check out. They had baby clothes mixing into the arcade, the watch shop mixing with what I call hello kitty world, hello kitty world (munchkin’s favorite! She just smiles and reaches for Hello Kitty) mixing in with god knows what. It had alot of really awesome things, nick nacks, and necessities, even had a grocery store. But being from America when you see the world “mall” you expect well, a mall. So our stay there didn’t last very long, maybe 45 minutes to just walk around and see everything. So we walked back to our car and decided what to do with the rest of our day, that’s when it gets nasty.

We decided to go to the Daiso because EVERYONE and I’m serious, EVERYONE goes crazy over this place! It’s basically a Japanese dollar store, but really big, and has pretty much everything from what people told us. 

So we arrive at the Daiso, all excited and ready to go. I decide it’s probably a good time to feed our little Munchkin, so that’s what I did. At this point in my day, I am wondering wether this was a mistake or not. The second I sit her up to burp her, she projectile vomits. Luckily, at this time, she only got it on herself and a tiny bit on my sleeve, and she is smiling so she seemed fine. I’m thinking awesome, we can still go in, I’ll just change her clothes real quick. BIG FAT NOPE. Next thing I know, she is projectile vomiting EVERYWHERE all over me, herself, the car (sorry if you’re grossed out, welcome to my world). Literally it was everywhere, there was no way her or I could go inside covered in this nasty crap. 

So long story short, Munchkin knows how to have a good time, and my navigation sucks. But we made the best of it and ventured out of our comfort zones to have a good time. 

Life as we know it

shankie
Traveling, it leaves you speechless. Then turns you into a storyteller. -Ibn Battuta

You know you have entered Japan when you get into your hotel and your toilet seat handle has Japanese written on it. Pulling up on the handle is for “larger” flushes and pushing down is for “smaller” loads. The Japanese people have no shame in their bathroom game. I’m only kidding. They are very advanced in conserving water and energy, way more advanced than I have ever seen America even attempt to be.

Even on an American base most things are written in Japanese, so everyone is walking around with their Google translate on their phone taking pictures and trying to figure out what they are about to eat. My husband and I are extremely guilty of it. Munchkin picks everything out of our hands now, so as we are trying to keep this item still to translate she says screw it, grabs and dares us to try to mystery item without translating anything.

The first few days of being here were definitely difficult before I found the magical app. – That’s what I call it because it is magic to me. – One day in our hotel it got hot, and any normal person would go turn the air on. So that’s what I did. Simple right? I wish. When I went to click it over from hot, (which is shown as a sun on Japanese thermostats, and air conditioner is a snow flake), it kept telling me something in Japanese. So I am sitting there for like 5 minutes clicking it over and over while it is yelling in Japanese at me. I ended up giving up. When I told my husband, he referred me to the magical app, and which it translated to “operations locked.” You CANNOT turn on the air conditioner during the winter here in Japan. Another way to conserve energy I guess.

The Japanese women love Munchkin. We were warned that they love babies, but especially American babies. It is 100% true. Every one we have met just stares in awe, they get hearts in their eyes, give her a huge smile and always try their hardest to get Munchkin to smile. And when she finally does, you can literally watch them melt into the palm of her little hand. She loves the attention, and the Japanese women love to give it, it’s the perfect place for Munchkin to be.

The Japanese people are by far the most polite people I have met. And we have yet to even venture off base yet. Therefore we have only met the hired off base contractors and tried the Japanese food and drinks brought onto base. We were told they are BIG coffee lovers here. So of course we have had to try every Japanese coffee we have found around base. Turns out, we only like one… and we only like it cold.
I have also learned that American pot stickers are nothing compared to the ones here; same for their green tea. Even their Coke and places like Subway, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell taste better. (Almost healthier?)

They also drive on the left side of the car and road. Obvious right? The tricky part is the 30 different traffic signs that look identical that you have to remember. Oh and the laws are intense compared to America. Drinking limit is .03. For those of you who don’t drink that is like taking a sip, swishing it around in your mouth for a few seconds and then spitting it out. And if you are caught drinking and driving, you and everyone in the car 18 years of age or older gets a DUI also. Basically, don’t drive or plan on calling a cab. Don’t worry though, both my husband and I passed our driving test with flying colors.

Needless to say Japan has been different so far, in a good way. I can’t wait to go venture out as a family and explore outside.

(Picture above is taken in our hotel from our view. The best part was seeing the mountains with the sunrise in the morning.)

Half-way around the World and a Day Later

January 25, 2016 was the last morning we would be spending in America for a while.

Our flight was at 1:55 p.m. We showed up a tad bit early, like… 3 hours early. I think we were all nervous, well besides Munchkin. She had no clue as to what we were doing, to her it was just a new day spent in a new place. I know I kept panicking because I am TERRIFIED of flying over water, and well… the flight to Japan is over the lovely Pacific ocean. But we will start from the beginning, which is the OPPOSITE side of the states.

Flying across the country by yourself, or even with a friend is ALREADY exhausting and uncomfortable after a while, but with a baby, it’s like that times a million. We, however, still got extremely lucky. Munchkin slept every single flight. I’m not exaggerating, even the 10 hour flight over the ocean, she slept all but 30 minutes.

The flight from Virginia to our first stop, JFK in New York, was so easy. We got off the plane still feeling fresh and new, a little nervous about Japan still. We were wide awake, Munchkin just woke up from her nap so she was screamingly happy, and people watching in the airport.

Then came the next flight… to beautiful Seattle, Washington. It wasn’t too bad, I mean at this point we were all totally exhausted. My husband and Munchkin both fell asleep quickly after getting on the plane. And me? Well for some odd reason I cannot sleep on planes, or in public. So I stayed awake and watched some movies; we were fortunate enough to get a flight with personal t.v.’s.

Landing in Seattle was a mess. We had an 11 hour layover in the Seattle airport. Usually people would take advantage and go explore outside the airport. Well, we had to be in line to check in only about 3 hours later, so we didn’t have that option. Also, we landed at 9 o’clock at night so there’s not really much to do around town with a baby during those hours.
Once we checked in we found these glorious couches. Probably not very luxurious to most people, but after 20 hours of traveling you get desperate for a comfy place to nap. Which is exactly what I did. I got Munchkin to fall fast asleep, even though she preferred people watching all night, and put her on my chest and we took a nice nap together.
I won’t go step by step of our ridiculously long lay over, but just know, Munchkin people watched and slept the whole entire time. Mostly people watched though. Can you really blame her? There are some very strange people in airports these days, and babies are the ONLY ones who can stare without being accused of being rude.

The flight to Japan was a lovely 10 hour flight, equipped with 2 meals. One being pancakes for breakfast, the over some nasty meat mushroom sauce dish. Of course, Munchkin decided to sleep the whole time. So I ate with my left hand, (I am right-handed), while holding my sweet sleeping bundle of joy in the other. My husband had to help me open and place my meals and drinks in front of me because if I moved my arm pillow even a centimeter, Munchkin started squirming and waking up. This lasted the whole 10 hours.
– Ah, the things we do for our kids right? – BUT everyone kept commenting on how extremely surprised they were that Munchkin was quiet and sleeping the whole time, compared to the other children and babies on the plane. Munchkin was the only baby (or child) in the front of the plane, surrounded by adults. Needless to say, we were thanked and questioned on if we drugged our child to make her stay asleep.

– Just to make it clear, we did NOT give Munchkin any medicine to stay asleep. We just got blessed with a very sleepy baby during travel. –

Flying over Japan was amazing and breathtaking. Everyone told us that Japan was beautiful, but I didn’t believe it could be all that different. There are so many green and snowy mountains to just stare at in awe. Everything around where we were landing was green, every single inch besides the buildings was full of trees.

Finally we arrived in Iwakuni, Japan. We were all exhausted and ready to sleep. We had what they call a ‘brief’ when we landed, and honestly I couldn’t tell you one single word they said to us because I was so tired I couldn’t even process the English language.

And that is how our 30+ hour travel went with our Munchkin. Now we are finally living in beautiful Iwakuni.

Our Road-Trip Nightmare

Did you know that instead of waiting 2-3 weeks to have your passport come in the mail, you can actually take a fabulous road-trip up to Washington D.C. to receive it same day?

Yeah, me either. Well, that is until two weeks before we are suppose to move to Japan and still had no passport for our four month old daughter.

So there we were, planning a nice long car ride to D.C…

~Oh and let me tell you how much fun it ISN’T to drive 4 hours with a four month old baby. (But I suppose it wasa good practice run for our long plane ride coming soon.) Don’t get me wrong, I love adventures, road-trips, plane rides; however, my daughter not so much. She likes the destination, just not the traveling part.

16196144_1079857598809499_1658737720_o

Anyways, back to the story of our trip. When I picture D.C. I think of tall buildings, busy streets, men and women in business attire walking down the streets, food carts, excessive amounts of taxis and buses, and of course the constant fast paced jay walkers. I wasn’t wrong, in fact my imagination was completely on point. Which makes it even more awkward when I was walking down the street with my baby strapped to my chest, wearing leggings and a baggy long sleeve shirt with a pair of short boots. Oh, and not to mention my hair was a disaster, my husband was a circus with a giant diaper bag/stroller and our paperwork, and my child was making me flash everyone since she was hungry at THAT moment. 

Maybe it was because we were there for business purposes, not visiting, or maybe I truly do not enjoy Washington D.C., but whatever the reason I didn’t enjoy it. I loved the scenery on the drive up don’t get me wrong, but the city itself was just not for me.
When we got there, parking was a nightmare. No really, an actual nightmare. They have parking garages than are a one lane, one way in and out. So we drive into this garage, thinking we will pay for parking since there was none on the streets, we start going down a few stories, (parking garages are underground for some odd reason), and realize there is 1) no parking, and 2) no way out. There were long parking lanes, with cars parked behind another, totaling of three parked in a row. I am still trying to figure out how someone were to get out if they needed to. Anywho, we got stuck like 3-4 floors down trying to call attendants and strangers to figure out how to get out. Yes, we were THOSE people. Long story short after about 30 minutes, a few anxiety attacks, and questioning a couple strangers we found our way out.

That was about the worst part of our day… I’m not kidding either, on the drive home we both told each other that was the worst experience out of the whole day.

Other than that, the traffic was as horrible as you would imagine, drivers are worse than California, Idaho and Virginia combined. The cafe we ate at was not kid friendly what so ever, but most of them in the area weren’t. The passport office was a zoo, with way too many complications. (Passport picture was wrong, and apparently a nationwide system break down.)

With all that went wrong, there were a few great things about our day. The people were way nicer than I had ever expected in such a busy city, we passed by some beautiful monuments (I truly recommend seeing them in person rather than just pictures), and our Munchkin seemed to love it.

Munchkin loved looking around at all the buildings, she seemed so amazed by how many and how tall they all were. She met countless people who were just in awe by her. Even though she is too young to really realize where we were, she was amazed by it in her own little ways.

Thanks to Washington D.C., the next stop for our little family is Japan. 

How crazy started

What I love most about this crazy life, is the adventure of it. -Juliette Binoche

Crazy life? To say the least… Before you assume, “oh she is like everyone else, just saying their life is crazy when really it’s extremely normal and boring.” No really, my life is hectic on an easy day. I mean, who else could say they have lived/moved to 3 different states, gotten married, and had a baby in all less than 2 and 1/2 years? Oh and did I mention to complete my almost exactly 2 and 1/2 year crash course in crazy, I will be moving to another country with my husband and daughter.

Told you, crazy doesn’t even cover it.

Let me give you a little background story as to why my life after high school has played out like this. It all started with a vacation trip to Idaho to visit some old friends I hadn’t seen in a few years. One of those being my husband, who was just some person I would “try to make time to see” back then. Well, obviously that time turned into forever and about 2 weeks after I was back from my trip I was moving from good ole sunny California, back to beautiful Idaho. Now a normal person would NOT move in with their boyfriend of 3 weeks in a different state away from family; but, what’s the fun in doing things traditionally right? Needless to say 6 months later we got married, a few months after that he went off to bootcamp, and here we are now, living in Virginia. There you go, there’s the 3 state moves, and marriage; all happening within about 14 months after him and I got together.

I bet you are wondering where my precious bundle of joy came in. Let’s call her munchkin, because I am THAT crazy protective mom who doesn’t want her 4 month old daughter’s name out to the public. Munchkin was born just a few short months ago in September 2016. For those of you who are bad at math, that means I would have gotten pregnant around Christmas of 2015. Which would put my husband and I at less than a year of being married before making a little mini us. Most people would be having a mental breakdown right now with all that is going on in my life; However, I am more than excited to show my daughter places most people never even get to see in their lifetime.

And that’s it, that’s how this blog came to be about. I want to document and be able to share not only with family and friends, but with my daughter one day all the stories and adventures we got to go on while she was growing up and traveling. I mean can any of you say you spent the first 3 years of your life in Japan?