Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tokyo Sightseeing Tour - Our First MWR Tour

The boys and I went on our very first tour in Japan. MWR (Morale, Welfare, & Recreation) here on the base gives an awesome list of tours every month. There is at least two tours every weekend if not more. They make the tours very affordable and comfortable. We all boarded the bus at 7:30 a.m. This is a picture out the bus window of the Ginza area of Tokyo. Ginza is known for its upscale shopping. You can find Cartier, Chanel, etc. here. Ginza is also known for its glitter at night. Brian and I are taking an adults only, nightlife tour this Saturday. He will be back and I will be HAPPY!! We didn't stop for any shopping at Ginza this trip. Our first stop was at Tokyo Tower, yes that is that big orange and white steel tower in this picture. The first white part from the ground is the first observatory. We went there. We didn't have time to go to the second observatory. Since it's opening in 1958, the Tokyo Tower has been the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower at 333m. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is 320m high. The Tower weighs about 4,000 tons. It is much lighter than the Eiffel Tower which weighs 7,000 tons; due to advances in steel mfg. and const. technology. Paint used for the Tower was 28,000 liters; equal to 140 drums. It is painted white and orange to adhere to aviation safety standards. There are 14 broadcasting signals for nine TV stations and five FM radio stations. 176 floodlights installed in various parts light up the Tower. It is illuminated with an orange light in winter and white incandescent light in summer. The main observatory is at 150m and you can enjoy a 360 degree view of the whole Kanto Region surrounding Tokyo. The special observatory at 250m is on the top floor of the tower. You can see as far as Mt. Fuji. What we saw was endless city as far as our eyes could see in all directions. Then the bus headed over to the Imperial Palace. You can't go inside the gates of the Palace, but you can tour the outside and the East Garden. We were able to take some beautiful pictures. The Palace grounds are entirely surrounded by a Moat. It was very peaceful and almost surreal in the middle of Tokyo. The sitting Emperor is the 125th Emperor of Japan. He and his family live in the Imperial Palace. Like England they are there for ceremonial purposes. After World War II the Emperor lost all ruling capabilities. The Emperor's first-born son will be the 126th Emperor. THEN that son does not have a son. He has a daughter. The second son has a son. So, Japan has not decided for the 127th Emperor if it will be a girl or they will appoint the 2nd son's son. Interesting. I have seen a picture and they are all beautiful people. It was very relaxing walking around the grounds and we enjoyed it immensely. The weather was perfect. It was light sweater weather with no wind. Oh, the Emperor can only be seen by the public twice per year. Once on his birthday and once for New Year's he comes out to wave to the crowds. Once we left the Imperial Palace we went to the Sensoji Temple which is the oldest Temple in the Tokyo area. It was a very bustling area with a full shopping street on the way down the road to the temple. They call this the Nakamise Shopping Street. We had one military fellow in our orientation class that remarked wherever he had been around the world, "there's lots of shopping around the temples". I was able to snap a picture of two girls and their Father and Mother. The girls were on a ceremonial trip to the shrine. They go to get a special blessing for ages 3 and 7. For boys, they go at age 5. I was told that this comes from when there was a great Flu outbreak and many, many children died. The girls are beautifully made up for the occasion. I will explain more about shrines in a different post.

When we left the shrine we headed over to board the River Cruise. We boarded the boat pictured. It had a see-through roof so that you could look up and see all the Tokyo tall buildings. It was a very pleasant, but crowded boat tour. There are lots and lots of bridges across the river and they are all very different, so they spoke about the bridges. The Cruise took us to Pallet Town which is a touristy destination with an amusement park, a fabulous Mall with very affluent shopping and a Toyota car showcase for the men. The Mall was called Venus Fort and it was fabulous!! I was able to purchase some bling for my cell phone. Everyone here has things dangling from cell phones so that you can tell who's it who's. I have a strap that hangs from mine with Hello Kitty face, SHERRY in Rhinestones, and a heart on the end. It was $25.00, but I LOVE IT!! It was very funny to explain the word "BLING" to the guy who sold it to me. He liked the word!! If you have ever been to the hotel "PARIS" in Las Vegas, that is what the inside of the mall looked like. The picture is of the water fountain in the upstairs center of the mall.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Driver's Class & A Little Italian Feel Good

Michael and I woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning, trotted off to the galley (Far East Cafe) and enjoyed some breakfast as we woke up. I am still reserving my opinion on the Far East Cafe. I'll let you know about it, when I have more to say. Right now I'll just let you know that it is our cafeteria on base that is cheap and decent food.

Then we strolled over to the Safety Building which is a good little walk from the Lodge. I was pleased to see that it was a nice little building and we had a large room in which to glean knowledge to be good drivers in Japan. The instruction was light, cheerful and informative. It bordered on boring only a minimal amount. We did have to watch a SEVERE account of very remorseful young sailors who are serving long sentences at Yokosuka Prison (a Japanese Prison) for their mindless crimes. Most of the American Military that are there (and there are quite a few) were caused by alcohol. The movies were meant to scare us and catch our attention, and that was achieved. If you get stopped for DWI (.03 breath/alcohol) you go to prison for FIVE YEARS OF HARD LABOR and a HUGE fine. They are very, very serious here about drinking and driving. They give many, many breathalyzer tests here. I will be tested. I will NOT be drinking and driving or taking Nyquil and driving!!

I believe that it made a scar on Michael's mind as well. Some of these are sailor's who have never gotten in trouble and in 1 night, changed their lives forever. Very sad. Oh, and if you loan your car to someone, and they get caught, you also have to do the time, because you enabled that person. We won't be letting anyone drive our car.

Anyway, driving class was educational. We learned all about Japanese signs and parking penalties and driving on the left side of the road. The signs here are funny. You should see the raccoon crossing sign. HEE HEE. At the end of the class, we took a 50 question test, which you have to score an 80 or better to get your license. That means you can miss up to 10 questions. This is good, because they have a couple of tricky questions on there. I was just relieved that there wasn't a behind the wheel driving test. I was soo worried about that! We will find out tomorrow if we passed our test.

After class, I had 4 different places to run around to. I finished that and it was 3:00. I was pooped! There was no way I was cooking dinner. So we all decided to head over to Club Trilogy. Club Trilogy is a building that has different eating/entertainment establishments in it. It is the "Enlisted" club on base. If you didn't know, on any base they have things for "Enlisted", "Chief's" and "Officer's". If anyone can go to an event there they say it is for "All Hands". Club Trilogy has Smokey's Barbeque. From what I can tell you can get a barbeque sandwich that is highly recommended, hamburgers, chicken fingers, french fries, etc. there. It also has a little arcade room, an event room with a stage, and a bar.

There is also a restaurant called Blue Grill Cafe? I think that's the name. Anyway they have special nights for buffets. Tues. is Mexican, Wed. is Italian, and I don't know the rest. They also have a nice menu with Tex Mex offerings and other "Americanized" food. Which now that we have been here for 13 days, was very nice to find. We chose the Italian Buffet. They had a cook making your pasta to order. We all had a nice meal and dessert. Except Michael, he's trying to watch his youthful figure. It was just the thing I needed today.

I came back to the hotel stuffed, happy and ready for a hot bath. The boys have gone (big surprise) bowling again and I am going to watch a little t.v. and then hit the sack. Bryan starts school tomorrow and Michael and I will be on a mission to find a car. I'll let you know how that goes......

Monday, November 10, 2008

Japanese Toilets and The Star Spangled Banner

If I told you that I am not leading an interesting life lately, you'd have to make me tell you the truth. It's amazing to me the things that we stumble on daily here in Japan that make you go "hmmmm".

Take Japanese toilets for instance. Now we had already had a first experience with the super deluxe toilets at the airport, but I was tired then. Today, Bryan and I grabbed breakfast quickly at McDonalds. We had to go into the bathroom to brush our teeth, because we had stopped in on our way to the Clinic for our dental appointments. McDonalds is always a good choice before a dental appt. if you think like a 13 year old. Or if your 38 and thinking that you are getting a crown and you won't be able to eat later.

So, here I am walking into the McDonalds Bathroom and much to my wonder and surprise are two sparkling super deluxe Japanese toilets. Of course I only needed to use one of them. I walked in and put my fanny down and I just can't tell you the joy that you feel from the warmed seat. If you don't like anyone hearing you tinkle (or worse) you can push the music button or the "flushing sound" button. HEE HEE. If you want to be in for an extra treat (if your hubby has been gone out to sea for a while, for instance) you can push the "spray" button. Let's just say that you don't usually squirt a spray of water THERE. HA HA HA There's also a "bidet" button and a "STOP" button and a "Heavy Deodorant" button or something like that. I don't think I wanna push that one.... So much amusement out of a trip to the bathroom is usually not to be had in the states, unless it is a truck stop bathroom, which can be pretty amusing at times.

Then there is the horn blowing and anthem playing on base. In the morning at 7:55 a.m. they play something on a horn at the flag raising. I'm not sure what that is called. Then at Sundown they play taps, then the Star Spangled Banner, and then the Japanese anthem. I might have this all backwards, but it is amusing, at least until you get used to it. The nice thing is that you don't have to worry about setting your clock, you can just tell them, I'll be over at half past the bugle playing. LOL!!

For anyone wondering, my DH "deployed husband" is doing very well out there. He is happily getting used to life on a ship again. Except for the food, he became very irritable today when I told him (via email) that we were having spaghetti for dinner. However, he became joyous again when he sent me an email with the subject line: "Sorry for Your Loss" and the email talked about the Steelers losing to the colts.

Bryan is officially signed up for school. He can start on Wed. but he has chosen to start on Thursday. Lucky for him, that I am a nice Mom (and feel guilty for uprooting him from all he knew) and have let him have his way since it is only one day. He even purchased his gym uniform today from the Army Base PX. PX/NEX what a bunch of jargon!!

While we were on Camp Zama, I was able to take Dolly her new things that I bought her. She is safely ensconced in a new completely indoor kennel with her PINK microfiber bed, sporting her new sweater, and nibbling on her new teddy bear. Spoiled dog. I MISS HER SO MUCH IT IS INSANE!!! But I do feel like a much better Mom today after seeing her warm and cozy. Mr. Jenks is also very happy with his new furry mouse toy. He was swiping at it as we left.

GOOD NEWS: I was able to make a bee-line to housing this morning and talk to Ms. Rinko and ask her a couple questions about the Japanese house. After 3 questions, we both decided that this was the house for us and she pulled the listing and tucked it safely away so no other lookers could see it. Yippee! That means we have a house Ya'all! My gracious landlord is looking into adding a gas line so that we can have an American Oven!!! Wow! I wasn't expecting that, but he has my total respect now. He's pretty certain we can get the queen size box springs up the steps. We may have to hoist them straight up and down, but they can probably go. And #3 issue solved, the school bus stops about 4 blocks down from the house in front of a book store.

SCARY NEWS: Sherry has to learn to drive in Japan pretty darn fast. Michael and I go for our driver's class on Wed. Everybody keep your fingers crossed that I pass it the first time!! We are going to start studying the signs this weekend. Michael has to only drive on base the first 30 days so it will be me driving everybody around. That is pretty scary!! Our house will be ready on the 26th of November. The pets can come home that day!! Yippee!! I love it when a plan comes together.

Michael has made friends with Laura's husband and they went bowling together today. I'm so glad he has someone to talk to. I think he was really getting bored. As soon as he and I go through AOB/ICR class next week, he can start thinking about getting a job.

Well, I stayed awake until 10:00 p.m.! That was my goal for tonight! Tomorrow, it's off to look for a deal on a car. Woo-hoo! NOT! But it should be a very relaxing, at my pace, Veterans Day. From me to all of our Veterans, Thank You for your service and sacrifice to our country. We are proud of you!

Friday, November 7, 2008

My first look at Japanese House for Lease

Today was an interesting day. I thought it was going to be uneventful. It ended up being quite the opposite. I woke up and took my now usual trip over to the housing list to get the newly updated list hot off the copier. Guess what? No new listings again today. I decided to wait and talk to my gracious housing counselor, Ms. Rinko. I'm glad I did!

Ms. Rinko very quickly assessed my situation and made some calls. She assured me that there would be more houses on the list next week. She called one realtor and found out that he might have a house I could look at if the currently scheduled appt. wasn't interested. She said she would let me know on Monday. I walked back to the hotel and grabbed Bryan and we went to the bank, the post office (Yeah! we received our first pieces of mail from Grandma Gay and Jerry Davis.), and to the commissary. When we returned the phone rang and Ms. Rinko said that the person who was supposed to look at the house cancelled and could I please meet the realtor at 3 p.m. at the main gate. I said, "YES, I'll be there!"

I put my groceries away and made me a sandwich for lunch, and the phone rang again! It was my lovely new friend Tina inviting me to ride along to Zama to see my pets!! We mosied on over there and I had a few minutes to see my Dolly and Mr. Jenks, who are REALLY getting tired of that kennel. Can't say I blame them.

Tina brought me back in time to grab my paperwork and dropped me off at the front gate with Bryan. Mr. Nago arrived promptly and took us to see the house! I was very excited. There is someone still living there that is retiring military. I believe it was a bachelor as it had guy stuff everywhere. But the house was very nice. It was large enough for all of us and had room for 2 cars. I was very impressed. There was also a 7-11 on the same block and a grocery store on the next block.

The only downside is that it is about 12-15 mins. driving from the base. In morning/afternoon traffic it is probably 22-25 mins. away. So, I'm not sure what to decide. I have to ask 3 or 4 questions. 1. Does the school bus route come close? 2. Can we get an American Oven? 3. Will my Queen Size box springs fit up the stairs? 4. Does it fit into our budget?

I meant to take a camera and forgot!! By American Standards it is small like a townhouse. However, it isn't too small. There's plenty of room for us to be comfortable there. I was especially glad to see that it had a patio off the kitchen long enough to have a couple chairs and a grill. Bryan could have a bicycle that would fit there too!

Well, after all of that excitement we arrived back at the lodge around 4 p.m. The housing office was closed by then, so I couldn't ask them questions today. It will have to wait until Monday.

Another surprise! My friend Laura, the teacher, her husband and son stopped to see us. They are a wonderful little family and I was grateful to meet them in person finally! The boys went bowling and they were there too. Michael was able to have someone to talk to for awhile.

Me, I am tired this evening and missing my wonderful husband. He's my support and I love him and can't wait for him to come home. Since I was feeling a little blue, I made some macaroni and cheese and hot dogs for dinner and watched some t.v. Now It's time for some ZZZZZ's.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

6 Days a Week

It is our 6th full day in Atsugi. It has been a crazy thing. Our bodies are still not quite adjusted to the time change. It gets dark here a little earlier than in VA. It makes you feel like you need to go to sleep by 9 p.m. every night. We've been waking up at 6 or 6:30 every morning. I like to sleep until at least 8 a.m. I try to stay up later and I just can't! Of course, it doesn't help being in a hotel room with not much to do.

My husband is gone. Yes, I miss him already. I did good and did not cry today. However, the boys are pushing my buttons and I wish that he was here to make them stop! Picking on each other....

Bryan had his bowling league meeting this afernoon. There are about 15 kids altogether. There are 2 other girls the same age as Bryan. The rest are younger. They actually start bowling next week. Bryan received his new bowling shoes today and they fit him very well. His ball came in also. He won't get that until next week because the bowling manager is in a tournament in Tokyo this week.

A fellow command spouse very graciously took Bryan and I to Zama today. I was able to see Dolly and Mr. Jenks. They are doing very well and as usual were very happy to see us. AND I was so sad to say good-bye to them again. I feel like such a terrible MOM!!

I also was able to stop by Bryan's school, Zama American Middle School and give them all of his registration paperwork. I explained to them that I didn't want him to start until next Wed. or Thurs. I have to go by the transportation office and get him a bus pass. Also, there was a question about him having a tetanus shot so I will take him to immunizations Dept. at the clinic tomorrow to check that out.

Before hubby left we went by the Housing Office to get the new Housing List. We checked into a few houses and there was nothing promising for us to look at in person. I was disappointed. We still have time, but it would be nice to know we have a house. There are several people here at the lodge that already have a house, they are just waiting for it to be vacant. I wish that was me.... But I know we will find a place eventually. Keep us in your prayers and your fingers crossed. Let's see what tomorrow brings.....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sign Up Day

Today we had a busy morning. When you are living on a military base, halfway around the world, you have a lot of paperwork to do. Brian woke up early and checked into the base. He had to get our passports stamped so that we can go in and out of Japan multiple times. Then he had to go to legal and get a general power of attorney so that while he is out to sea, I can sign a lease for off base housing for him. Oh, us spouses get to forget our ss#'s here. Everything is done under your military spouse's #. Then he had to go to the housing office to give them a copy of his check-in orders.

He came and picked me up and we called personal property and told them we are here and gave them a contact number. GOOD NEWS!! Our express shipment is already here!! BAD NEWS!! We don't get to see it until we find a home off base! Not really too bad of news, where would I put that stuff in a hotel???

Then we walked over to the Fleet and Family Service Center and signed up for some classes. Michael and I are going to take the drivers class early, probably next Wed. Then we went to the Second Fiddle which is a Thrift Store run by the Atsugi Enlisted Spouse's Association. I found out that the next meeting is this Thursday. That will be nice to go and meet some other wives. I didn't see anything interesting in the thrift store. Then we went to the Community Bank. Community Bank is owned by Bank of America. We had to open a checking account there because there isn't a Navy Federal here on this base. It is also where I will exchange dollars for Yen.

We went over to Subway at the NEX food court and grabbed some lunch. Then, as if we didn't do enough paperwork already, we went to the clinic to turn over our medical/dental records. I made it to dental. The really sweet lady at the window noticed that I needed a crown replaced (it was noted in my record). Great. I'm thrilled to say I have an appt. on 11/10 to do that. Loads of Thrills. She also gave Bryan an appt for Orthodontic screening. GOOD!! Hopefully he will get some braces soon!!

By that time, medical was closing for lunch and we had to get back to get ready to be picked up by SK2 to go see my pets! SK2 picked us up and off we went to Camp Zama. She took a different route this time and it is really neat to look out the car windows at the shops and houses along the route. Bryan and I stopped at Zama American Middle School to pick up the paperwork that needs done to sign him up for school. It looked like a very nice school. Bryan was not happy to be there. I think he's enjoying his break from school.

We got to the Vet's office and I picked up all the paperwork I needed to fill out for the pets. They have an appt. on 11/25 to be released from quarantine. I can get it sooner if I need to. I don't think we will have a house before then. I hope we find one quick.

FINALLY, I was able to walk over and see my doggy. She was so happy to see me. She wanted me to hold her close. I miss her so much, it broke my heart to leave her again. I made Brian take her back to the cage. I just couldn't do it. Mr. Jenks, the cat, is doing well. He was happy to see us and be petted too! I think he is doing well there. They moved him to a new crate and it is large and they have a towel hanging down for him to hide behind.

After all of that, we came back to the hotel, I made some dinner and the rest of the night we are all going to rest. I am still trying to get over this lousy cold/allergies mess. I think it will be better tomorrow. But, I'll be sadder tomorrow about my honey leaving. Oh well, such is the military life. Ups, downs and in-betweens.

I do have to say that I have met some really nice people the last few days. They are all in the same boat we are in and it's nice to know that you can have a chat with someone who understands.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

You Read The Bill!!

We had our first off base adventure today. What fun we had!! It is also Bryan's 13th Birthday! The Torii at the left is at the front of the base. We wanted to take Bryan somewhere to eat for his birthday. We looked at a guide and decided on a restaurant and memorized the directions. So we went straight out the main gate and turned left. Along the sides of the street there was a lot of small businesses and small houses. The Japanese love flowers and most of the houses had lots of potted flowers outside of them. We wanted to go by a used car lot to check out the prices and types of cars that were available. This is the sign for the lot that we stopped at. This lot was recommended to us. There is a lot of paperwork that you have to do to buy and register a car in Japan. This lot actually will do all the work for you and just deliver you the car ready to go. The owner speaks 7 languages. I looked at a PINK Nissan Cube. It was soooo cute. It was a 2000 model and they were asking $2200 for it. It was in very good condition. I especially liked the electric fold-in mirrors. The roads are so narrow here that it is a neccessity. Hubby says we'll think about that one. He likes it for me because people will see the PINK and the BLONDE and get out of the way!! LOL!! It will be awhile before I am actually able to start driving. Probably about 3 weeks. I have to have a car before we move off base though.

I couldn't believe some of the signs. I took a picture of one so you all could see one. This one is fairly easy, they get much, much more complicated. We don't live in Atsugi City. NAF Atsugi is actually in Ayase City.

The next thing we came to was a Patisserie (bakery). YUM, YUM, YUM. I can't tell you how delicious everything looked. We purchased a choc. torte cake slice, a fruit cup in a teddybear ceramic holder, and a chocolate dessert all for under $10. The good thing is that the portions are small so you can have a bite of different things and share them.

When we crossed the street at the bakery, there was a Daiei on the corner. It was very large 3 story mall w/ a parking garage. This shrine was there on the corner. This is the first we saw. They are supposed to be everywhere around Japan. I'm not sure what they are called yet. Daiei is a mall. We didn't make it to the 3rd floor. Because we are between a/c and heat, it was hot in there. The second floor was like a wal-mart. There was all kinds of clothes and home goods. I saw some really nice rugs I'd like to get. Bryan and I purchased some bathroom items. It was funny trying to find want we needed in Japanese bottles. I bought some single use bubble bath packets. The first floor is a grocery store. It is very large. There was all kinds of things there. Everything looked so fresh!! They also had a nice bread bakery. Bryan and I went crazy in the candy aisle. We bought some tiny boxes that had fruit on the front. I kinda thought they would probably be gum and they were. And they were very good. I told Bryan, candy is universal. We all love it!! It was really funny paying for everything with yen. The cashiers talked and talked and I didn't understand a word! But the cash registers showed numerals so I knew how much to pay. I was only unsure once and the lady helped me. Japanese are very nice. The older men are more reserved, older ladies are all nice. The young kids stare and smile at you. The teens have attitude. Hmmm, sounds like America! All the kids stared at Bryan. With his blonde hair and hazel green eyes they are fascinated by him. I kept telling him before we came that they would do that, he believes me now. We went into the Japanese McDonalds. They have a Mega Mac. It is like the big mac except it has 4 patties!! I don't think we'll be having one of those anytime soon. You can also get a Teriyaki burger there. Other than that, they are pretty close to the same. We went to the 100 Yen store, which was cool, lots of neat items. I probably won't buy anything again until I look there first! Outside of the 100 yen store there was an ice cream vending machine. We purchased a orange ice and a strawberry ice. The orange one was more icy like sherbet and was in push-up form. The strawberry one was more like ice cream and in a cone like a nutty buddy. They were yummy. Bryan was really getting a kick out of the kids staring at him.
It was finally time to walk back to the restaurant we picked. It was called "Eight O's Farm" The menu listed "Steak Sets" and "Hamburg Sets". A set included drink, soup (like beef broth), salad, potato, string beans, and a ginger sauce. We also asked for garlic rice on the side. Since we don't speak any Japanese yet, we didn't tell them how to cook the steak. It came rare. Sherry doesn't do rare. Brian's steak had a part that was more med. rare and I ate that. Bryan asked for the kids plate which was a scrambled egg cake, 1 jumbo shrimp, 1 fried chicken, 1 hamburg slice, 4 french fries. He kinda picked at his. I let him eat my rice which was very good. The dish was good, just a little over cooked. I was pretty happy that we were able to order at all and have no problems. We had a little bit of fun before we went in trying to ask Japanese families if they took credit card. It's amazing the game of sharades you have to play. But they were so wanting to help us. So we had our first dinner out surrounded by Japanese. We paid by credit card and it was $6510 Yen for 3 people. This is about $65. I saw a lady walking a very cute dog. The boys about died laughing when I mixed up my words and said "Cat" to her. She chuckled too as I remembered it was supposed to be "inu" instead of "neko".
We truly all had a wonderful day. Bryan loved his birthday and is so excited to be here in this country around these lovely people. I am too. It was a good day and I see hope that we really will enjoy our time here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weather N Such

So are you wondering what our weather is like here in Japan? It is a lot like the weather in Virginia this time of year. It is around 65-68 degrees in the daytime, sunny or partly cloudy. We haven't had any rain yet. It gets down to about 40 at night, I think.

We have an interesting time here on the base about a/c or heat. Apparantly the Japanese government pays our electric bill for this base. Japanese are very proficient in conserving energy. I think this is a very good thing. How that translates to us is that we are in a 30-40 day period where there is no a/c or heat. It will get pretty cold here before they turn on the heat. I knew about this before we left. I packed long sleeve shirts and stocked up on hoodies and sweaters for all of us. Exception of Michael of course. He actually wore a pair of long pants yesterday. He only owns 1 or 2 jackets/hoodies. He is a very stubborn person when it comes to outerwear. I have a feeling he will change his mind later. Grandma, you may have to come to his rescue later. JCPenney does ship to the base. I saw one of their boxes yesterday at the post office.

We slept a little better last night. In fact it is 7:15 Atsugi time and the boys are still snoozing. They actually stayed up until 9 p.m. last night. Oh, I think I just heard a yawn. I still have this blasted cold and didn't sleep well. My wonderful hubby just left to go to the mini mart to get more meds for me. I am determined to lick this cold so I can explore. I want to get to the store to buy my Bryan a cake for his birthday today. If we go by Georgia time where he was born, his birthday won't be until 1 a.m. tonight. HA HA. I think we'll eat the cake before then. I'll post a pic of his cake later.....

Day TWO - Atsugi, Japan

Well, let's just say that none of us have our body clocks on the right schedule..... The boys were up at 2 a.m. Brian was up at 3 a.m. and I was TRYING to sleep but have a terrible head cold. I finally gave up at 5:30 a.m. and took some DayQuil and some Coffee and got ready for the new day.

The boys and I went over to the NEX Food Court and had some Yummy Dunkin' Donuts. Some of the flavors and coatings are different here. Bryan's favorite glazed donut didn't have much glaze on it. He didn't like it like that. Most were the same though. I have noticed that the coffee here tends to be VERY STRONG. I don't know if it's because we are in Japan or just because it is a military base. Probably the latter.

We strolled over to the Post Office and finished up the paperwork for our PO Box. They gave us a box all the way on the top. It was very funny watching Michael trying to open it 5 or 6 times. Mom got it on the first try. That's unusual. Usually Michael can get everything first. Score 1 for Mom. The postal workers were very nice and didn't seem to show any signs of undue stress. (HA HA little joke for Dad!!) NOTE: THERE WAS A SIGN POSTED THAT SAID IF WE WANTED TO SEND OR HAVE MAIL RECEIVED IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS, LETTERS/CARDS SHOULD BE MAILED BY DEC. 11TH AND PACKAGES BY NOVEMBER 13TH. I was shocked! How in the world can I have everything done by then?

We meandered to the Mini Mart and found some plastic clothes hangers for $1.49/10. I also bought some salt/pepper, sugar and Splenda. It's amazing I didn't think of these things at the grocery store yesterday.

NOTE: I forgot to tell you all about Money. We did purchase some YEN the other day. We haven't used any yet. The base stores all take American Dollars. I did hear there are Japanese restaraunts on base that take YEN only. It's been nice to not have to worry about it yet. The YEN rate is terrible right now. It is 95 YEN to a $1. This is very low. We want it to be at least 100 to $1. If it goes up to 105 or more, we will exchange as much as we can.

We attempted to go to the SmashMouth outside concert today. They had 4 bands total playing. There were many activities for the little kids and there were 4 or 5 food booths set up. The food booths were all fundraising booths for different commands or clubs on base. Mostly offered hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks, pizza or command merchandise like t-shirts, etc. Lots of nice people spoke to us. It was really windy though and with my head cold we decided to come inside.

I tried to take a nap and couldn't and just cleaned up to get ready for the afternoon. The boys took a walk back to the concert. Brian was brave and ventured off base for a walk. He went about 8 blocks and came back. He said he did walk into a Pachinko parlor and said it was crazy. I'll have to explain that some other time.

After everyone came back, we headed over to the bowling alley. Bryan picked a bowling ball with the help of the bowling alley manager, Bret Dunn. Mr. Dunn is a professional bowler and was very helpful picking a ball for Bryan. He ordered the ball today and we should have it ready in a week or so. This was my birthday present for Bryan. His 13th birthday is tomorrow! Wow! My baby boy is a Teenager! YIKES!!

I need to think about something special for him for tomorrow. We may venture off base to find a nice dinner place. Maybe we'll go to Mike's which is a mexican place. ????

The guys tried to go by the teen center but it was closed today. Now we are all back at the Lodge and it is 6:20 p.m and we are all struggling to stay awake. We are trying to get it right for a good night's sleep tonight. Brian and Michael may cross the parking lot to go to a Movie tonight. Lil Bryan and I can play some cards....We'll see.

End of our 2nd full day and it seems like it's been a week already! Very Odd!! Sunday should be a more relaxing day. Monday will bring a busy day again.