Sorry to disappoint, but there are no pictures in this post. At this particular moment, I have no idea where the camera even is. This is simply an update of what has been going on with us the past week. It's gonna be a long one....
Last Tuesday I had an appointment to get the health certificate done for Kody and Sophie. I'm sure you already know that importing an animal into a foreign country is a big deal. I started all the work back in May, before we even knew for sure that we would be coming to Japan. I was told by the vet clinic on base to make the health certificate appointment 24 hours before our flight because it only lasts a few days. I also tried to schedule this appointment on base a couple months ago. I was told they only schedule two weeks ahead of time but not to worry. Health certificates for PCS take priority and they would work me in even if they were booked. To make a long story short, the vet ended up being on leave and I had to use a civilian vet. No problem - I called and they said their vet was also USDA certified and that they have done lots of health certificates. Nobody told me, and I didn't know to ask, that they had to OVERNIGHT the certificate to Atlanta to get the USDA seal and then wait for it to be returned. Obviously, since our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:35 a.m. the next morning I had no time for that. I had a complete meltdown in the vet's office. Tom, genuis that he is, found a naval station in Jacksonville and called them and begged them to do our certificate. He hopped into the car and headed down there. Thanks to them (and him), Kody and Sophie made the trip.
It took us 38 hours to get here. The flights weren't too bad. Tom and I played free trivia on the flight from Atlanta to Seattle. Delta is a great airline for military members. In the Atlanta airport they had a military lounge set up. It happened to be directly next to our gate. We stopped in and they had all kinds of food and any drink you could imagine. Those people even had a canister of marshmallows if you happened to want hot chocolate. I'm not kidding - they covered it all. It was so nice to be able to sit and relax for a little bit and not have to buy insanely expensive airport food.
Once we got to Seattle we had to pick up all of our baggage, including Kody and Sophie, and wait to check in for the AMC (Air Mobility Command) flight. The worst part of our journey was waiting in Seattle. We got there around 6 p.m. Seattle time and our flight was not scheduled to leave until 3 a.m. That was 6 a.m. for us. Tom set up Brendan's pack & play for a little while in the middle of the airport. He and I tried to get a little sleep. On the floor. It didn't work. We pretty much stayed up the entire night, a first for me. The flight from Seattle to Yokota AB was supposed to take about ten hours. Brendan slept for a lot of it. We got off the plane there for about an hour. All the pets were taken off of the plane so they could be walked. We checked on ours and gave them a little food and some fresh water. From Yokota we flew to Iwakuni Marine Base and then to Okinawa. Here's where it gets good. Before anyone was permitted to leave the plane they made an announcement. They called about three names and said for those members and their families to exit the aircraft. Tom's name was one of them. When we got off, there were several people there to meet us. Another first sergeant took me to clear the cats through the veterinarian and take them to the kennel. She then took me back to the airport to pick up the baby and take us to our room. Someone else was with Tom to get our luggage. They had already checked us into our room and put some groceries in there. It was VIP treatment, and we totally appreciated it. Our first impression was two thumbs up.
We've been busy this past week. We have purchased our first car (pictures to follow) and will pick it up tomorrow. Almost all the cars here look funny. I'm pretty sure we've found our house. We found two that we like. We are going to take an American style house right near the Sunabe sea wall, home to one of the top diving and snorkeling spots in the world. Yes, the world. And it will be just seconds from our front door. I'm a little disappointed that there is no view from the house, but we really don't spend much time sitting outside anyway. The other house we found was a Japanese style home near a different sea wall. It is gorgeous and I fell in love with it as soon as we walked in. It is full of Japanese features, and I was excited at the prospect of living in a home like that. But there are a few drawbacks. For instance, many Japanese homes have no oven, this one included. That would take some getting used to. And Japanese dryers are tiny. I wash a lot of clothes so that was another drawback. And the third drawback was the upstairs bathroom. There is no shower stall. Just a room with a toilet, a shower head, and a drain in the floor. Plus, it was up a few more stairs and down the hall from the master bedroom. Very inconvenient for middle of the night use. So, we've made our decision and are going with the American style house. It is near some of the people we have already met, including another baby Brendan's age. He actually spent the day with her at the CDC yesterday while Tom and I attended a newcomers briefing, which is when we got our driver's licenses. We are now considered "professional" drivers in the eyes of the Japanese authorities. Driving is serious business here.
We have only eaten at one real Japanese restaurant since we've been here. The food is good, but different. Obviously. Portion sizes are much smaller. Americans should take lessons. Okinawans live the longest lives of anyone in the world. The people here are friendly and hospitable. I left a spit rag on the table at the restaurant and the waiter ran (literally ran) to catch me and give it back. Brendan gets a lot of attention. We are told they love babies with blonde hair and blue eyes. We have eaten at Chili's Too three times. Because it's within walking distance and is open 24/7 on weekends, which came in handy last weekend when we were all up and hungry at 3 a.m. They also serve breakfast. I have also eaten Popeye's, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. This place has all the comforts of home. There is even a Toys R Us on this island somewhere.
This kid of ours has been a superstar. He has been pushed in the stroller all over the place. He loves to be out and about. He has been car shopping and house hunting and hardly complains. I did use the CDC yesterday but that's the first time he's been away from us. The military provides you with 20 hours of free childcare when you PCS in or out of a base. It's childcare at one of the provider's homes. I plan on taking full advantage of it. The base offers free classes and I am going to take every one that I'm interested in before I start work. I'm already signed up for a class to help me find a job. There is an island excursion, a Japanese grocery store trip, and language lessons.
Jet lag hasn't been as bad as I expected. For a few days Brendan would wake up around 4 a.m. and want to get up. I'd stay up with him for an hour or so and then put him back to bed. I committed the cardinal sin of putting him to bed with a bottle. I think I only did it three times. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's ever done it. He only had one really, really bad night where he was up four or five times. The night before last he woke up around 2, drank a bottle, and went right back to sleep until 6. Last night he went to bed at 7 and slept all night until a little after 6 this morning. He is downright amazing.
We found out yesterday that our first shipment of stuff, almost all of which is Brendan's, is on the island already. We can shedule delivery as soon as we get into the house. I'm so excited for him to get his things back and to be able to sleep in his bed again.
Our plan for the weekend is to get out and see some sights. There is so much to see and do here. We have been told that the parts of the island we've seen so far are the ugly parts so I'm excited to see what else there is. We should never be bored...certainly a far cry from Valdosta. I can't wait to get out of our lodging here. It's been a bad experience. So bad that we had to move out of the pet friendly room so Kody and Sophie are still kenneled. I have checked on them and they are fine in their kitty condo but I'm anxious to get them back. It's also difficult ot entertain an active, and mobile, baby in a hotel room. We try not to spend much time in the room. The weather when we got here was nice and warm. Yesterday it turned quite chilly. Today is rainy and nasty. Tom is at work for a while and Brendan and I are here. I actually turned the heat on. I'm sitting next to the window and I can hear the wind. I'm not looking forward to having to go out to sign the paperwork for the house. But I am definitely anxious to get out of here and into our own place. I have to put up a Christmas tree!
I didn't intend for this to be so long. And boring. I probably lost most everybody after a paragraph or two. Hopefully, after this weekend I'll have more interesting things to share!