Thursday, July 25, 2013

Drinking and Driving

So we have been SUPER busy these past several days dealing with the housing office here on base (that is a post by itself--I'll post that later), as well as just daily life with the boys and Dad starting work.  This is just a collection of odds and ends of what we've been up to.  It just so happens to deal with "drinking" our favorite Japanese drinks out of the ever-present vending machines, and of course, driving in Japan!

 N prefers Shoyu-Ramen.
 Look what I found ma---a snake!!!!
 Habu-Sake, a famous drink from here in Okinawa specifically.  Yes you drink it. I, however, will not be trying it.
 Ben gets his tea, cold.  Because in Okinawa in July it is ALWAYS 85% humidity and 90 degrees.
 He seriously looks like a Japanese commercial right now.  This is totally what they do.
 Ben driving on the left for the first time!...on the RIGHT side of the car.  Confusing I know.
The boys doing what they do in the car. SOOOOO good to have a car again;)

 In case YOU would like to take the Japanese road test as we did, here are a few practice sheets of what we had to learn.;)
After Daddy got his car, I got mine.  It's a cute little cube that we got for 3,000Yen in cash.  Not bad since it has a child latch system, which is rare in Lemon lot cars on Kadena.

So far I have driven back and forth across the island(east to west) several times and---knock on wood---no accidents.  After driving in Japan years ago it's all coming back to me!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Scream! Ice Cream! BLUE SEAL OKINAWA

You know I've eaten some pretty weird stuff in Japan.  I lived on mainland Japan 6 years ago and I've tried everything from flaked squid and tentacles on a stick, a fish eye, and mochi (rice paste) everything.  There are some things I can't abide by. One is when the Japanese take pizza and put sliced hot dogs, fried eggs and squid on it.  It's bridge too far people.  I like my Italian...well Italian. However, Japanese experimentation is a success when it comes to ice cream and the French favorite...crepes!  They have perfected the crepe in my opinion.

 Here is the evidence!  I give you BLUE SEAL in American Village in Okinawa. Just one of many I know..but it's good to be back among the crepes. This is JUST the smoothies and ice cream blends..

...and here are the crepes.  There are two whole cases.  Usually one case is "sweet"based with things like fruit, and cheese cakes and whipped cream and chocolate.  Also sweet mochi...always mochi... The other case is "savory" with hotdogs (again with the hotdogs!) and hams and cheese, etc.  Also Bacon.  Bacon crepes!! Genius.
Now this is all the same shop.  They also serve Ice cream made here on Okinawa.

I leave it to Blue Seal to explain its name.

N also approves!  He tried something called "blue wave"  He thought it was bubblegum but we quickly realized it was some sort of melon fusion with bits of honeydew in it. It rocked.

ohh..and it was "scoop day" so he got two scoops of cookie free...ya know for back up.
 I got coconut and Mango!
 Here's  E....eating his hands again while he waits...yes he's strapped to the chair.  Most Japanese places DO NOT have high chairs, so you can pick up these fold out strap things to go in your diaper bag at the 100 Yen store.

All in all good stuff. There are at least 2 other homegrown Okinawan ice cream shops I have heard of so I'll have to try them later.  Here are some random pics of the rest of American Village, just outside the Kadena Base.
 Alcohol take out...why not.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Base lodging--a peek

For those that want to know what Temporary Lodging Facilities (TLF) looks like on Kadena Air Base here is an example. We arrived late on a Saturday night and have a 2 week reservation.  That DOES NOT mean we will have housing unfortunately.  It means we have to move hotels because of the high season in travel there is no space at this place or any other lodging here on Kadena.  Eeek. So we may be in a Japanese hotel soon. Here's what you can expect at Hershey TLF at least: This is a 2 bedroom queen "lock off"
 We moved the couch because the room has hardwire internet only and it was behind the couch.  Annoying.  So we rearranged dome furniture. Queen bed one. One bathroom in this room and...
 A weird left over non functioning kitchen.  No fridge or stove but they did put the microwave in here.
 Kids bathroom.

 Other room in the lock off. We moved the couch to squeeze in the crib.  The hotel SUPPLIES the high chair and pack n plays (although this PnP is mine).
 The kitchen. Full size fridge. Stove. Coffee maker, dishes, etc.  Huge table.
 This is the playroom downstairs!
 I'm really hoping we get housing so we can move straight from here...but its looking increasingly unlikely.  Housing brief was Monday, by Friday they said they would call us on Monday we'll see.

Base Eating--and a show;)

We had a little family dinner on base the other night.  This is the view from the Tee House restaurant on Kadena AB.  It overlooks he South China Sea side of the island and you can watch the jets take off if you are lucky.  And we were!

Our view with Dinner Sun Dips into the Ocean.
 The view from the top of the hill--Tee House Restaurant (Kadena golf course) You can see the airfield where we got to see about 12 F-15's take off.  Good fun. Great dinner show for the little man,
 Daddy carried E up all the steps to the restaurant in his car seat, but it was worth it since he slept the whole time!
 N Waving goodbye to the Okinawan sun.
 This was E's contribution to the beautiful sunset.  It was peaceful and quiet and AWESOME.
 You can just make out the air wing. Sorry for the crudy iphone photos!
 Waiting for the jets--they were lining up 
 The jets starting to take off for a night run.
Apparently this is N's idea of hill surfing.
While this was a great view the food was good--average sandwiches and some cakes etc, for dessert.  They also serve beer and wine.  With the base restrictions about drinking alcohol though (this is due to some serious incidents involving unruly Marines etc. on the island)  Active duty military are only allowed 2 drinks, with dinner from the hours of 6 to 10. NO OFF BASE purchase of alcohol at all!!! So lets just say a nice glass of wine or beer on base is appreciated with my sunset ;)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Exploring the Island-Beach

It was GORGEOUS.  The water, the sky, just as I'd dreamed it would be.  In Monterey the Pacific was so cold you couldn't put a toe in it. Here, it was warm like bathwater. E woke up just in time to play for awhile.  I slathered both boys with sunscreen and then N got on his snorkle mask and swam out to the rocks with his friend.
 Headed to the beach on Okinawa's East side--Pacific Ocean.  The other side is the South China Sea.

All was well until about 25 minutes in. N went to get out of the water and said "Ow it stings!!!"  My friend and I arrived just in time to see the clear body and blue tentacles of a jellyfish. After scooping him out of the water and listening to him howl some more--I realized there was still a blue, thin tentacle attached.  I grabbed a banana leaf and pulled it off. After reading on the internet we determined the jelly was a Okinawan Box Jelly.  Not nice stuff either--really scary stuff if it was too big.  Which it wasn't.
 Showing me the red marks on his arm.
 I'm ok!  Brave kid;)
So we loaded all the kids up and went on down to Aeon, the closest Japanese grocery store.  My friend went in while I kept all the wet, gross kids in the car and she purchased some Japanese vinegar.  No small feat for a women who can't speak the language or read it!  Once we popped the bottle open and sniffed, we were sure it was the right stuff! We poured it over N's arm.  All was well!  NO ER trip necessary.  Which is good because what would have topped our record for going to the hospital just after moving. I think our current record is 1 week.  It still stands!

After that...Nathan decided to crash out. Jet lag and a jellyfish will get you every time.

Starting to explore--First meal

So after the crazy arrival in Japan via the "Patriot Express" last Saturday we have been here almost a week.  We went out almost right away and did a few things with friends that at least might excite my kid about being in a foreign country--because I don't think looking at lemon lot cars, hitting the commissary and exchange (post grocery store and mall) was cutting it.

So sunday night we went out in town and ate at a cute Ramen restaurant.  It's the kind where you put your money in vending machine and pick it out based on pictures (well at least WE do because I can't read Kanji!) and it gives you a ticket.  Then you sit and that ticket is printed out for the cook to make your food and it is brought to your table.  I has some AMAZING Don-buri (mixed rice, beef, tofu and veggie bowl) and Dad had Katsu-curry (potatoes, veggies, meat in curry sauce) while N had Tonkatsu. (essentially breaded pork chop with an awesome soy sauce).  It had tatami mats and floor tables on the edges of the restaurant but our group was too big with 4 kids and 4 adults so we sat in a Western style table.

 The boys waiting for their food--you can see the couple in the back using the ticket machine to order.
 N is still SOOOOO jet lagged---but his friend is showing him how to chow down on SOBA noodles.

 Dad and E wait for their food. Evan had his first touchy-Feely moment with the owner.  She of course touched his hair and face and talked with him.  The Japanese have no qualms about touching children unknown to them.  Especially blond ones! E was fine;)

 Nothing Like Gohan (rice) and Hashi (chopsticks) for a first meal!

mmm...pretty good.