Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saying Goodbye...

This is my final blog from Okinawa. I can't believe we're leaving tomorrow! The last three years on this island have been quite the roller coaster ride. We have experienced some very difficult times including a six and a half month deployment, several shorter deployments resulting in John being away from home a total of nineteen months, missing several important family events in the US, and a disheartening loss. Through those difficult times I am so blessed to have had an incredible group of girlfriends and we have had an amazing church family. It hasn't been all bad though, I finished my Master's degree, we have had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places, and of course the joy of our favorite little souvenir, our sweet baby boy due in just a few months! Our marriage has grown stronger than ever and we know if we could get through the craziness of our time in Okinawa, we can get through anything!

Here are a few picture of our last days in Okinawa...

Our house is all packed up and our things have been shipped to Arizona.

We had to live like this for a few days before we could move into a hotel!

The first picture is of us the day we moved out of our concrete bunker!

As much as we hated literally living in a concrete home, they are able to withstand the insane weather of Okinawa! Of course we had to go out with a bang and have one last typhoon before we left. Three days before our departure, Super Typhoon Songda hit the island with winds that blew up to 156 mph! I am so thankful the Japanese know how to construct buildings that are able to withstand those winds!

Speaking of awesome forces of nature, my husband received the Navy Commendation Medal on his last day of work. Did you like that transition? I think he'll get a kick out of that! Ha ha! He is an outstanding Marine and I love when he is recognized for it!

To continue with the Marine theme, I have been very involved with the Marine Officer's Spouses Club for the last two years and served on the Executive Board this year. Here are most of the Board members at our final luncheon with a "Mad Hatter tea party" theme!

I have also been very involved in the church and the worship ministry. This is the band and some of the singers on my last Sunday.

Finally, these women have been the ultimate support system for me. We were so excited to spend our last evening together at the hospital meeting the newest member of the group, baby David Michael! He is perfect! I think I can handle this!

Thanks to all of you for your love, prayers and support through these last three years.

We are so excited to be closer to our family again, but will certainly miss the wonderful people we have met here on this island.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For the Love of Marines

It seems as if we have had a jam-packed schedule the last month or so. We've had several Marine Corps events to attend. Sorry I have been a little behind posting these pictures!

John's unit won squadron of the year for the Marine Corps Aviation Association.

I must also add that he was nominated for the Command and Control officer of the year! Sorry if you don't speak military lingo, but it was a pretty big deal!

John and his friend Matt doing their typical pose. I have no idea where this came from, but I think they have to have a picture like this at every event!

A few weeks later his squadron hosted a Dining Out for their Marines and their spouses.

A Dining Out is basically a formal ceremony with dinner that generally has a sense of fun and is intended to promote camaraderie. There are "rules", and generally many of them are funny. If you get caught breaking a rule you run the risk of being fined and are sent to take a drink from "the grog", a fairly disgusting combination of alcohol and pickle juice, croutons and who knows what else! A few of the Marines were punished by being forced to sing songs or dance in front of everyone. A good time was had by all!

Finally, as is always the case in the Marine Corps, someone is always leaving. We attended a Change of Command for his boss' boss.

My favorite Marine was the narrator for the ceremony but I was sitting in a place where I couldn't get a good picture of him.

Afterwards there was a reception and a few of us stayed later for some karaoke. This man is a surprisingly good rapper!

Who knew?!? I'll have to show you a video one day to prove it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Baby Franklin

We found out this past week that baby Franklin is a boy!

Seeing him on a more high tech ultrasound made it so much more real (even though half the time I had no idea what I was looking at!). He doesn't have a name yet, that is the current debate in the Franklin house. Fortunately we have a few more months to decide! They changed my due date again (sorry I forgot to tell most of you that!). Now it is September 11 because he's bigger than what they expected. I knew I was further along than they were saying!

Anyway, my wonderful friends threw me a shower in honor of this little man. Since we are leaving so soon (4 weeks), they wanted to do a little something to celebrate our little bundle of joy. So my closest friends came and brought some amazing gifts.

My Japanese friend brought him a yukata, which is a summer kimono. So cute!

I am truly blessed to have these wonderful women in my life.

It makes me so sad that I won't be near all of them once he is born. But I can't start with all of the sniffling and tears yet, I know once they start, they might not stop for a while! For now I am just so thankful to be blessed with some fabulous friends and this sweet little baby!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Okinawan Oddities

Since we are coming to an end to our time here in Okinawa I figured it was time for yet another blog post with some funny pictures of signs and other random things we see over here. These pictures are all 100% real life crazy Japan!

Let's start with food... I've seen a few different flavors of Pringles here. This one is cheeseburger. I've also seen seaweed! I think I would be a little more likely to try the burger one!

Have you ever thought to make Spam sushi???

McDonald's had a set of specialty American burgers for a short amount of time. Of course I had to take a picture of the Texas one. I never tried it because I try not to stray from the normal cheeseburger there, but I believe this one had chili, onions and some sort of mustard relish.

I still haven't figured out why this particular candy is "for men". Of course being the rebel that I am, I had to try some. I was a little afraid though that I might sprout a chest hair or two after eating it! Don't worry, it didn't happen!

Speaking of food, most of the KFC's here have a statue of Col. Sanders outside of their restaurant. During some holidays they dress him up. He usually has a Santa outfit on during Christmas time, and during major Japanese holidays he gets dressed in traditional attire!

As many of you know, the Japanese people LOVE cartoons. Anything and everything can take on a cartoon form. This sign is a reminder to wear your seat belt. Always be sure to strap in your vegetables as well!

However, while driving you may see one of these signs. Japanese people are usually pretty cordial and apologetic for any "inconveniences" they may cause. This is a construction worker bowing as an apology for road work!

I don't really know what to think about this sign...

Often times, signs are for instruction. I have no idea why this one is necessary.

However if you do have to use one of these, any sort of instruction is helpful! I still don't quite know the exact logistics of using it!

Speaking of toilets, I took this picture in the entry of a public restroom. I am not sure what prompted this, but I have never seen anyone with loud musical instruments near a bathroom before!

If you know about my summer last year, you would know that I would have benefited from observing this sign.

Here is my permanent reminder that you should steer clear of the water during jellyfish season in areas that are not netted.

Last but not least is my favorite picture. Many times while on my way to work I would see this guy taking his bull for a walk. No, your eyes are not deceiving you, he literally walked him all the time just like a dog! Nothing really surprises us anymore after being here for 3 years!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big Changes!

In case you haven't already heard, John and I are going to have a baby!
We are so incredibly excited! We found out on New Years Day that I was pregnant, what a great way to start the year!
I am feeling great and baby is healthy with a strong heartbeat over 140 beats per minute (just for you Kellie). The doctor and I have a little dispute about how far along I am, but according to her, right now I am about 15 1/2 weeks and the baby is due September 14.
Here are a few pictures of out little bundle of joy...
10 weeks
15 weeks
At the latest appointment the doctor thought we might be able to find out the sex. No such luck, the baby is as stubborn as both of it's parents (no surprise there) and kept it's legs crossed! Guess we'll have to wait until the next appointment in 4 weeks with the high-tech ultrasound equipment!
At the end of the appointment baby even rolled away from us proving no interest in showing the goods! Atleast we know it looks great an is healthy!
Please keep us and baby Franklin in your prayers!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trip of a Lifetime

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to two local islands with the American Women's Welfare Association. For those of you not in Okinawa, the Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force officers' spouses have gift shops on the island where you can go shop for items from all over Asia at amazing prices. I have found some great items that look exactly like things I have seen in the Pottery Barn catalog for a fraction of the price! On the island the enlisted spouses also have thrift shops. All of the profits from all of these shops go to the American Women's Welfare Association (AWWA). AWWA then takes the money and divides them between American and Japanese charities. Last year, we gave over $85,000 to Japanese charities. A large money of the money designated to Japanese charities goes to the islands of Miyako and Ishigaki. Every year AWWA takes a trip to those islands to tour the facilities that we have given money to over the nearly 40 years AWWA has been in existence. I am on the executive board for the Marine Officers' Spouse's Club and was given an opportunity to go on the trip.
In the four days we were there, we toured TWENTY-THREE facilities! It was absolutely exhausting, but I am so thankful I went.
We had such a warm welcome at the airport!
First we went to two mayors' offices in Ishigaki.
Then we started our first day with some of the sweetest little kids.
I can't believe I didn't bring one home with me! Look at those faces!
At another orphanage, these sweet kids did a little dance and gave us handmade paper necklaces.
The majority of the facilities we visited were nursing homes. People in this region are known as the longest living people on earth. We went to quite a few places that had around four people who were over 100 years old, and the approximate average was mid-nineties. Although the most impressive thing was their wrinkles, or should I say the lack thereof! Incredible!
A few of the facilities that cater to adults with special needs will teach them skills, usually making a product that they can turn around and sell. This helps the facility become less reliant on the government for funding, and many people are able to eventually go out into the city and find jobs.
The Japanese are really big on gift giving and at each place we gave and received a gift from the staff and those who use the facility.
At many of the places they put on a little show for us, and in return we did a little song and dance for them! I have never done the "Hokey Pokey" so many times in my life! It was a great song though because although we were singing in English, it is pretty easy to follow along and they could dance with us.
The directors of the facilities on each island threw a banquet for us. Of course a show was involved. The appreciation for the money and gifts given by our organizations was overwhelming.
We added to the show by doing the "Cha-cha Slide"! It was such fun!
Here is a picture of a few girls teaching us how to do an Okinawan dance!
The trip wasn't all business. On our last day, we got to do a little sightseeing and even got a chance to put our feet in the absolutely gorgeous water!
There were 18 of us who went on the trip and 9 of us were Marine Officers' Spouses' Club members so we had to show our love with "MOSC" written in the sand. In the background you can see a bus that our organization helped fund.
As the title of this blog says, this truly was the trip of a lifetime. It was beautiful to see efforts on both the American and Japanese sides to bridge the gap between the two cultures, particularly on Okinawa and it's surrounding islands. Next year AWWA will celebrate its 40th anniversary. I sincerely hope these relationships remain for many years to come!
For more pictures, check out AWWA's facebook page:!/group.php?gid=67223431648