Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kira Kira Light Festival

December 1st I took Ella out at night, in her cute white bear hat, to see her first Christmas lights. She loved them. I loved them. It was a good time. It was also the Kira Kira Light Festival, sadly, something we missed last year. Like my mom says, the Japanese are very good at celebrating life with so many holidays ans festivals. Well, this was definitely a celebration. On December 1st everyone gets together to toast the Christmas & Holiday season. There are several things going on at the same time - not unlikely in Japan.

Look, it's Christmas Godzilla and all of his friends!

Different organizations and businesses from around Sasebo purchase tables, stock them with beer, snacks, and party hats and all meet up after work. Here they party through the evening with everyone coming together to toast at 7:00PM. It's great. Everyone standing around in their business suits getting wasted in the middle of the Arcade. Giving cheers and shooting off balloons, it's quite exciting. While all of this is going on there is also a festival with oyster's, flowers, and other various treats for your liking. Most amazing of all, there is a costume & skit contest. This is a situation that honestly feels like a Japanese Christmas Game Show. People of all ages dress in their best (or most hilarious) costumes and put on a small skit about Christmas. Words can't really describe the insanity that pursued - so I just took lots of video. [Next Post]

I will leave you with some pictures of the evening to tide over until I get the videos posted.
Look who we ran into! It's Aunt Manami and her concierge training team.

Happy start of Christmas!

The Holiday's Are Here

It's official. Ella and I have gone walking everyday while Brandon has been in Yokosuka, getting things started at our new home. Here are some pictures from around town. We haven't made it down to see the Cornell yet though. We will wait for Brandon to come back for that one.

The Tamaya window display. I would love one of those old fashioned tiny Santa's in the snow.

Card displays are everywhere.

Make a Wish - Look! That kid wants to be a chef!

The Arcade is lined with Christmas Trees.

Winter flowers.

I was planning on buying three of those green trees to use as Christmas decor but that would be silly, considering me move the day after Christmas.

fried rice for one

Taking care of the bean by myself while Brandon's away hasn't been all that bad. Except that I got hungry today. So in honor of our favorite dude, I made myself some fried rice - Brandon style: with lots of Saracha. I think he would be proud because I made sure my pan was really hot before I added anything. That's the most important thing or at least that's what he tells me whenever I ask how to cook something. Yum!

Friday, December 3, 2010

baseball extravaganza

What the what?! Just realized we never posted anything about our amazing Japanese baseball game experience. Maybe it's because I was slightly distracted by my ginormous baby belly. Who knows? Anywhoo. . .here it goes!

We had waited a year to finally score tickets on one of the baseball games. We got here pretty late in the season last year and tickets were hard to come by at that point. We decided it best to go through the base tour company for this one, I can't even begin to imagine the mis-adventure that would have become of us trying to buy tickets from some creepy on-line dealer, plus we saved a tone of yen by not taking the train round trip. So, it worked out. Perfect timing too as it was tight around Brandon's birthday and he got to do the ONE thing that he had been constantly talking about since before we moved.

The baseball experience here is fantastic. It's like going to a college football game in the states. Everyone is so into it. Covered in Hawks (Fukuoka's team name) gear from head to toe, wearing scarves and giant claw hands while they fly flags and scream battle songs out of megaphones. Literally, we saw people doing all of that at the same time. There are official cheer sections where both the home and opposing teams have bands that play fight songs. Yes, bands like marching bands. Yes, fight songs like rehearsed cheers. Meanwhile, the announcer is a 6ft tall German radio DJ guy who is screaming super pumped up Japanese to the rest of us and there are concessionaire's running around selling KFC & serving beer out of keg back-packs. Yup, that's about how it went. Like we were inside a giant baseball game show. (The run on sentence is supposed to symbolize the intensity.)

All in all it was a great day, we even got on the jumbo-tron. It turns out they like to display the Americans who also love baseball. . .weird.

Seventh inning stretch balloons. We let them go for the home team, the Hawks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

good bye faces

What brought us to Japan? It's been a while since we started this blog so some of our sweet reader's might not know why. Work! About 18 months ago Brandon finished culinary school and had quite a bit of management experience racked up from his post-college days. I was in-between jobs (waiting tables at the best restaurant in the world p.s.) so we decided it was the perfect time to do something spectacular with our lives. We were one year into marriage and it was just the two of us with one month left on our lease when Brandon responded to a job listing for a company, in Japan. Who knew that all of those years of working in a corporate restaurant would land us smack in the middle of Japan, working for a family run company?

Fast forward. So, here we are about to leave Sasebo, Japan (where we both work on a Navy base) Brandon serving some of America's finest their burgers and beer, but more importantly meeting some of the most kind, hard-working people in the world. This would all be a story best told by Brandon but I don't think it's hard to know his feelings about his staff, neh the family, that he came to love like brothers and sisters. So rather than putting words in his mouth I will let him write an entry, eventually, about what his experience was like. I will however, tell you that watching Brandon evolve into a General Manager over the last 16 months has been a heart warming experience. It seems he has experienced every emotion one would in a good relationship(happiness, confusion, surprise, disappointment, rage, love - and pride, to name a few) and come out with a sparkling, cohesive,
self-sufficient example of a well-run, profitable store.

For a professional standpoint it's no surprise that he was offered this new opportunity. Sure, I am bias and think my husband deserves a billion promotions in a year but I think that most people would agree he plain rocks at his job. So, congratulations hubby! You deserve this and we (Ella & I) are behind you 100%. Like I told you in the car (driving! ah, how I barely remember those days) on the highway in San Antonio, I will follow you anywhere in the world. I must admit, I am happy this move takes us to a big city. Maybe we'll get some counter top space? Eh?

In the meantime-here are some good-bye faces from the Sasebo staff!

Brandon with his kitchen crew!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving #2 in Japan has now come and gone. It goes with out saying that this holiday season will be tough with out family. Now that we have Ella, it seems like we are back at the same feelings as last year when we celebrated for the first time in Japan. An exciting new adventure. Missing family.

We always talk about how crazy it is that all of these things are happening again. We can recognize which festivals are approaching by the decorations around town and which Japanese holiday it is by what stores close. We know winter is around the corner because all of the flower vendors have switched their stock and all of the bakeries are featuring their strawberry shortcake. All kinds of things are happening that we are used too, which is just another sign that you have become a citizen of your surroundings. All be it, we move in a month and everything will be new and ripe for discovery. . .again.

This year's Thanksgiving was very different from [last year]. You may recall how we spent the day last year, drinking and cooking all day long. Ending in a fantastic pot roast cooked on top of our washing machine. Remember that?

Well, this year we changed it up a bit. Ella spent her first Thanksgiving helping mommy at work and dad came along to volunteer. We spent the day serving the troops at our annual USO Thanksgiving Feast. It was a great turn out and Ella was a hit with all of the sailor's in her turkey bib. It was great to have her there bringing smiles too all of their faces. We know that Thanksgiving is about tradition, but how do you really keep tradition when you move around all of the time? So our tradition is spending time as a family. What better way than the three of us serving some fine, hard working people who are so far from their own families? We may not have a big turkey, shitake mushroom gravy, asparagus casserole OR the Cowboys game, but we have each other. That is more than enough to celebrate!

Pie Eating Contest!
With the volunteer crew, still happy after clean up.

When service was over we spent some extra time packing up the left-overs to be delivered around base to those who were on duty, to our USO Center, and various single sailor areas. Just to spread the love a little more. We also grabbed some left-overs for ourselves and headed home to pull together a small meal of our own. Brandon made a great sauce for the turkey (gotta love his culinary genius sometimes) and we served it up "family style". We spent the rest of the night enjoying drinks with Manami and reminiscing about the last year and how so much has changed. We often realize this when we are sitting around holding our beautiful little baby, she is a constant reminder of where we have been, but more importantly, where we will go.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

kid clothes

Here's a fun new thing for us! Japanese kid's clothes are the coolest thing ever. Of course, they believe that USA kids clothes are the coolest ever - and in the case of JCrew, I agree - but otherwise, they definitely win!

current happenings

Shot of our entry way, on a good day. These cute shoes are ready and waiting for her little feet to grow!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the birth story

Check out Ella's birth story [here], if you like.

Friday, October 29, 2010

moving notice

Big news friends and family: We are moving!

In January we're taking this 3 person show on the road and relocating to Yokosuka, Japan. Just a stones throw away from Tokyo! Why you ask? Brandon is being relocated to another restaurant -big move for his career! It's no doubt that we will miss so much about Sasebo, we have really come to love it's charm and the friends we have made here, but there is something exciting about experiencing a whole new area of Japan that makes this news bitter-sweet.

We hope you're ready for all new adventures as the Willett's take on a new city and all it has to offer. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, here is a shot of our first family outing. . .how cute is Ella's head poking out of her blanket there. Ramen shop, of course.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

current happenings

This is just a cool picture that Brandon took 2 days before Ella was born. Just thought I would share!

isn't she lovely

First things first. It has been way too long! It's hard to explain why, but it's a mixture of things like the fact that our lives went from zero to "woah we are having a baby", and, "Jewell is working 60 hours a week while pregnant", in one hot minute. It's no secret that I miss my days of wandering the streets of our city and stopping to people watch while drinking a latte but it's also no secret that I have two new things that I love. I couldn't be happier with my job but more importantly, our baby arrived!

Her name is Ella Elaine and we are totally in love with her. She was born Tuesday, October 12th at 6:32 PM, 8 days late and weighing 8lbs 2oz. Her hair is light brown, her eyes are a beautiful slate-grey/blue, her cheeks are super chubby, and her legs are long and strong. She and Brandon are already the best of friends and sometimes when she cries all he has to do is touch her and she will stop. She is so lucky!

Ella. One day old.

The last thing we thought we would become master's of while living abroad was giving birth. Sushi, sure. Exchange rates(which really stink right now), sure. Trains, definitely. But having to go through the most intense and important experience of our lives while only understanding about half of what we were being told, definitely not part of the plan. Through all of the confusion and differences(giving birth in Japan is a much different experience than the USA) Ella still came out perfectly healthy, in the hands of a very capable Doctor, in a very peaceful environment. In the end, that's really all any parent could hope for.

Leaving the birthing center: 5 days old.

Here is a bonus shot of one of my meals at the Birth Center. So, basically I got 3 full meals a day plus a snack and a dessert. All gourmet and all served on fine china. Take that USA.

Friday, August 27, 2010

current happenings

Here is some life.

The new camera rocks.