Monday, March 28, 2011

Okinawa {food & various other things}

Chatan sea wall graffiti.

Fresh guacamole. Always a favorite.

Grilled Squid at Transit Cafe.

Okinawan specialty: taco rice

Loco moco platter

Doctor Fish: 500Yen for super smooth feet. I'll be it very creepy but very efficient. A must do when traveling Asian & Japanese cultures.

Okinawa {lounging around}

::Transit Cafe::

::Beach Days::

Our morning walk spot; the sea wall

The first official photo of our Bean sitting all on her own. She was a bit shaky but she did it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Okinawa {sightseeing}

Sightseeing adventures from our non-vacation in Okinawa.

::The Aquarium:: A giant turtle eyeing Ella-chan

::Zanpa Beach Lighthouse and Lighthouse Cliffs::

It was very windy.

Whale watching with our evacuee Momma, Stephanie.

::American Village::

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Okinawa {the non-vacation}

As most of you know we took our October Okinawa trip a little bit earlier than expected! We invaded the island to get out of the insanity that was becoming our neighborhood. Our plan was to hang out a few days while the restaurant was closed, but due to an extended closure we ended up staying a over a week. Even though we tried not to treat this as a vacation, when in Rome... Our hearts hurt a little bit as we read about the fleeing "Gaijin" or "Flyjin" as we are now referred to. We didn't necessarily mean to bail on our host land but in all honesty, lets face it. We are foreigners and have a 5 month old baby to think about. Plus, our intentions of returning made us feel a little less guilty and it was a great way to give our families back in the states some peace of mind. Would we have loved to pack up and head to the states? Sure! However, here is where our responsibilities lie. So, on to Okinawa! What a beautiful place. Bright sun shine (for 4 our of the 9 days, at least), palm trees and bougainvillea vines everywhere you turn. Seaside cafes and beach bars. Millions of t-shirt shops and Shisa dog statues all over. We were able to fit in a trip to the Aquarium and Ella climbed her first light house. Actually, I think we all climbed our first light house. We did some whale watching from enormous cliffs and played in the sand. Ella sat up for the first time on the beach (couldn't have planned that milestone better myself!). We got a little sun on our faces and walked along the sea wall several times. Oh, and Stephanie took us to her Japanese dad's sushi restaurant where we ate the freshest, most thoughtful sushi since our arrival in Japan! It was a great trip considering we were desperate evacuee's. Like I said, "when in Rome...":

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Support Japan

Check out my latest blog at Hazel & Lavender. Follow the links to many wonderful products with many artists lending 100% of aide to relief efforts in Japan.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

good bye Grandpa

Rest in sweet peace Grandpa Willett

We have a bit more somber news. We are surely hoping our blog and life events start to look up after this weeks end. Today, in the states, our family lays to rest one amazing man. He was your more than average model citizen who could dance a jig and talk on Skype at 99 years old. He is even asking to the last minute for donations to the Salvation Army. It's never fun to be away for these moments and we wish so much that we could be with our family at this time. If you are out there reading this, please say a prayer or send your good vibes in the direction of Tama, Iowa. There are many people there today who would love to feel your warmth.

We'll miss you Grandpa Walter!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

March 11

On March 11 Japan experienced a 9.0 earthquake 130 kilometers (about 80 miles) off the coast of northeastern Japan. The earthquake triggered a tsunami warning and 40 minutes later an extremely destructive wave reaching 10 meters (about 31 ft.) high, destroyed coastal cities including Sendai, Miyagi. Although most destruction occurred in this general area the earthquake reached south including Yokosuka. In the days that proceeded the aftermath spread to include damage at several nuclear plants, most effected of those being the plant in Fukushima, roughly 285 kilometers from Yokosuka (135 miles).

(image via msnbc)

In the past week we have become students of nuclear science. We follow several websites and several people on Twitter. All of these sources are news & governmental organizations along with a few trusted expats.

If you follow any happenings on Twitter these folks keep us well informed with legit info (and a big thank you to their fingers who haven't stopped since 2:46PM on March 11):

On Wednesday night Brandon I made the decision to fly out to Okinawa and stay with one of our best friends Stephanie. You may remember her from our last trip to Tokyo? The basis of this decision was to remove ourselves and the baby away from the stress and uncertainty of the situation and return home Monday after a few days of R&R. Upon arrival in Okinawa we started receiving messages and phone calls informing us that the base where we work had begun voluntary evacuations. It is important to know that radiation levels in Yokosuka are still very normal but base officials wanted to be very sure they were offering their employees every possible way to feel safe. With the situation in Fukushima making minimal progress the only way to get this peace of mind was to authorize this voluntary evacuation.

Thankfully we had departed 12 hours before and although Haneda Airport was very crowded we sailed through with out any major delays.

So, what now? We will stay in Okinawa until further notice. Being the planner I am this is very hard. It's a real test in patience to not know what your next move will be. This is different than spontaneity. You can go on vacation and be spontaneous, because you know the day you leave. However, now we are living on edge in a different way. While we are safe and over 1,000 miles away from Fukushima we don't know when our time here will end. A week? Two weeks? God forbid, a month? Did I ever mention we left produce in our fridge?

There are many things on our mind but we are so thankful as we watch survival stories on the news. This is nothing compared to the events that are still unfolding in the areas most effected by the quake.

Thank you to all of our family and friends for your concern and constant communication. Thank you to technologies such as Twitter, Skype & Facebook for allowing us to keep that constant communication. Thank you to our employer's for providing us the resources to leave Yokosuka in the fast manner that we did.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

minnie and jaco

RIP Minnie and Jaco; watching from the window, their favorite spot.
There have been a few times during the last two years that living abroad has felt unbearable. There was the loneliness we felt during our first holiday season, the passing of Grandma Reixinger, the weddings of three amazing friends Adam, Lindsey & Nikki, and the birth of our best friends Adam & Lindsey's daughter Penny. Luckily most of the moments missed have been great ones, but recently that is not the case. Our love goes out to Momma & Papa Willett - and Jason - and Erica, because we know the sadness you must be feeling, as we feel it too.

Monday, March 7, 2011

our baby rocks::to tokyo, again.

We had another house guest! Stephanie from Okinawa by way of Texas came to visit our new digs. We haven't seen her since our "White Trash" going away party in Dallas 2 years ago. She now lives in Okinawa where she works for the same company as Brandon. Here is how we spent our last two days. A crash course in Japan. A mix of old and new. Valuable sights it's taken us a year to discover and to combine into one day.

We started the day at Meiji Shrine. An absolutely picture perfect setting of nature, Japanese tradition and culture set in the middle of the bustling city. It's beautiful here and Sunday is the best day. Why? Because everyone gets married, that's why. We witnessed at least 5 weddings happening within the 20 minutes we were at the main shrine.

Stephanie actually recognized this Kimono as Okinawan because of the head-dress. The large white one above is what we have always seen in photos, it was awesome to see both! It seems to have been a very important family, as they had security guards clearing traffic and stopping paparazzi tourist like myself. However, they could have just sprung for the better package.

Directly across the street you can find where insanity comes to life. Harajuku. This neighborhood hosts street after street of wild n' crazy stores and people. This is where you find the "Goths" & "Lolita's" and such. Except, we saw none. Please take notice of the man below, wearing gold-fish goldfish. I had a great full body shot until he decided to whip out a ninja kick in the middle of my click. I would have taken the time to set up another but a local complained too many Gaijin (foreigners) were blocking the street. So, since I understood - much to their surprise - I moved along.

Ella was one of the attractions. People kept stopping us to take her photo!

We picked up some Gyros from this awesome guy, who also promptly fell in love with Ella. Proceeded to find a curb and be told by an old Japanese lady that we were spilling too much food on the ground. Forgive us, we are not skilled in the ancient art of eating messy street food with a baby in tow.

And lastly, why do we have the best baby ever? Well, just look below for (the best) example 1. of millions.

Just plain passed out in the middle of chaos.

Oh! And, we went to the Buddha. Again.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Back to the Buddha

Because it's just so peaceful and we really like that.