Sunday, December 20, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas!

I made it safely to the other side of the world to Texas! This is me and my dad who decided to go for the Santa-look this winter!
My cousin Jessica and her husband drove through a snowstorm in Virginia to be with family for Christmas and were there to greet me at the airport.I got in just in time because 2 days later, we had one of the biggest snow storms this area has ever seen!
Here I am with my Dad, brothers, and Brittany on the 23rd (notice the tshirts and clear ground).
This is my adorable nephew, Cade hanging out with his daddy!
Just one day later, we woke up to this...
Central Texas rarely gets snow, and when they do, it is only an inch or so, melts immediately, or turns to slippery ice. They had a record amount of snowfall on Christmas Eve. All of the highways were shut down. There were people stranded in their cars for hours, some even overnight! It was a mess! Fortunately I was nice and warm in my mom's house. My brother Jacob and I got out in the snow and took a few pictures.
Check out the yardstick we stuck in the snow where it had accumulated in a corner.
John and I received a great Christmas present, some very exciting news last weekend. John was selected for promotion. For those of you who do not speak the military language, this is a big deal. He will move up in rank, get a nice pay raise, and will no longer be considered a junior officer. As in the civilian world, not everyone who is up for promotion gets it. There were 660 United States Marines who were selected and John was one of them. Soon he will pin on the rank of Major. If you are not familiar with the USMC officer rank structure, here it is. Bring on the oak leaf!I am so very, very proud of my husband. He is an amazing man, and a fantastic officer. It is apparent that he is great at what he does. We will keep you in the loop when the times comes that he will become Major John Franklin.

Merry Christmas everyone! I'll post more pictures of the rest of my trip (if the weather clears and we can actually get out of the house!)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tis the Season

This Christmas Holiday season has by far been the most stressful one I have ever had. First of all, forget shopping for gifts around here. Last year we did the whole get-everyone-Okinawan-gifts thing, so for anything else it is pretty hard. We don't have the greatest selection of things to buy! As most of you know, I am also in the process of getting my Master's degree and I stupidly took 3 online course this Fall. I cannot believe my brain has not exploded yet. Top all of that off with a zillion cookies to bake for every party or "forced volunteer" cookie donations, AND my husband being so far away. I am ready for a break! I am sorry, this blog was not meant to be a gripe-fest, I guess I needed to let off a little steam!
In all of the madness, I still put up a tree and decorated the house a little bit. The 75 degree weather does not make it feel Christmas-y, so I had to do something! I am planning on going home to Texas for a few weeks to see my family for Christmas. I think that will be a much needed break! Not to mention when I get back it will be January, and that is one more month closer to having John home! I am so ready for him to be back here with me!
I almost forgot to add one more thing to the madness; this weekend at the church we had a dinner theater performance. There was a little acting, lots of singing, and of course dinner for those who came to watch. It was a very nice evening. Here are the choir members. I must say we have a very talented group of fabulous singers!
These girls, Caralee and Katelyn are two of the sweetest people you will ever meet.
I am truly blessed to have made some good friends here. Friends can make or break any duty station. It is always so hard when you move to a new area and know no one. I finally feel used to this different world. I didn't say I liked it, but it is growing on me!
Merry Christmas to everyone! I will hopefully be posting pictures of my trip back home very soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Even if it's not me...

I am a sucker for reunions. Have you ever seen that show "The Locator"? It gets me every time when I see long lost siblings, children, or friends reunited. What is even better, is seeing military families come together after long deployment. Tonight I had the pleasure of going to the airport to capture photographs of quite a few friends of mine as they hugged their Marine for the first time in 6 months.
My good friend Laura's husband Matt is one of John's best friends here. He was where John is now, luckily they had a few weeks to hang out before Matt headed back here. Ridiculous, I know.
I arrived at the airport to see so many anxious faces and signs that said "Welcome Home" and "We love you". My heart leaped! I love this stuff!
The worst part about the airport in Okinawa is there is a HUGE glass wall that separates you from the passengers waiting for their bags. It can be torture when you have waited to long to see someone, then you finally do, but you still have to wait for them to come through those doors! After what seemed like forever, our Marines walked out the door to cheers and claps! Wives and children ran to get that first hug and kiss. My heart just melted!
Eventhough it was not me who was welcoming home my hero, I am so happy for all of them and I know my day will come soon!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My 50th Blog!

Well, I can't believe I have had enough to say to write 50 blogs! What better way to celebrate than to wish a happy 234th birthday to the United States Marine Corps! Happy Birthday Marines! Thank you for all you do to protect us. Of course thanks to the the other services, but I am a little partial to the Marine Corps!
I decided to go to this year's Birthday Ball even though John isn't here.
The commanding Officer of our squadron (who is also our next door neighbor!) invited me and the other wives with deployed spouses to the ball as his guests. So I figured why not, I always welcome a good excuse to dress up! My friend Christina, our squadron's Family Readiness Officer was my date. It was her last event before she moved in a week. Her husband is a Marine so they are on their way out of here. She's the one in the cream dress. My friend Rebecca and me.
My favorite part of every ball is when the young guys get out there and strut their stuff! This year was no disappointment! They crack me up!
Apparently the Executive Officer took pity on me and we did some Two-steppin'. I am sure he assumed since I am from Texas that I would be a pro. Not so much, but I have gotten better after working on it with John since he is great at it! We were pretty much the only ones on the dance floor because these 18 and 19 years olds had no idea what to do with country music!
I have had surprisingly a lot of support since John has been gone. My faith has been restored in the kindness of others. I honestly believed that because I am living in such a HUGE military community where almost everyone's husband (or wife) deploys, that the attitude would be "Well my husband is gone, or has been gone a lot too, so suck it up". But I haven't experience much of that. The first few days after he left I felt so much love and support, and for that I am so thankful.
My loving co-workers even left a "We love you Andrea" note on my desk along with literally mounds of candy piled on my desk and chair! Granted, there was so much candy in my office that had been donated to the church for the Fall Festival, they had quite a bit to work with. Don't worry, we finally got rid of the left overs so we would stop eating it!
Our church recently opened our new playground, so the staff decided to get out there and be the first to try it out!
The pastor is on the left with our crazy associate pastor in the slide!
Thanks again everyone for all of your love and support!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lost in Translation

Both the Japanese and English languages are some of the most difficult in the world to learn. When you combine them, there is potential for disaster. Today I thought it would be fun to give you a good laugh at some of the signs that we have seen around here that could have been translated a little better along with a few other odd things! Yes, these are all REAL things we have seen here, there have been no alterations made to the photographs!

Sorry buddy, the road ends here for you.
What?!?! Nothing about the spelling on this entire sign is correct.
As opposed to your child smokers...
I guess Japan gets 2 more hours than the rest of the world.
Lets take a ride in my spazz-mobile!
This one was strangely at the aquarium. It just looks like a bad idea to me, especially right next to a water fountain. I was not brave enough to try it out to see what it was. I know it is some sort of gargle, but once again, why out in the open at the aquarium?
I bet you guys don't get this in the States!
Here is a perfect glimpse into the joys of driving here. "What do I do?" Was the first thing that came to my mind the first time I pulled up to one of these!Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Things NOT to say to a military wife

Well, John is on an airplane right now headed for the States before he goes to "the big sandbox". Last night we had a nice dinner at one of our favorite sushi restaurants.I found this list posted on a friend of mine's facebook page. I know we are early into this deployment, but I am just going to throw these out there just in case any of you hadn't heard that some of these things aren't so great to say! Don't worry if you have already said any of these to any military spouse you know, we will forgive you! This is all done in good humor. I am not sure who wrote this, she's a little crass (I edited out a few things!), but it is true while being funny! So here you go...14 things not to say to a military wife!

1. "Aren't you afraid that he'll be killed?"
This one ranks in at number one on the "duh" list. Of course we're afraid. We're terrified. The thought always lingers at the backs of our minds —but thanks brilliant, you just brought it back to the front.

2. "I don't know how you manage. I don't think I could do it."
This is intended to be a compliment. Though, its just a little annoying. Here's why: it's not like all of us military wives have been dreaming since childhood of the day we'd get to be anxious single moms who carry cell phones with us to the bathroom and in the shower. We're not made of some mysterious matter that makes us more capable, we just got asked to take on a challenging job. So we rose to the challenge and found the strength to make sacrifices.

3. "At least he's not in Iraq."
This is the number one most annoying comment for those whose husbands are in Afghanistan. What do they think is happening in Afghanistan? An international game of golf?

4. "Do you think he'll get to come home for Christmas/anniversary/birthday/birth of a child/wedding/family reunion, etc?"
Don't you watch the news? No! They don't get to come home for any of these things. Please don't ask again.

5. "What are you going to do to keep yourself busy while he's gone?"
Short answer: Try to keep my sanity. Maybe there's a military wife out there who gets bored when her husband leaves. For the rest of us, those with and without children, we find ourselves having to be two people. That keeps us plenty busy.

6. "How much longer does he have until he can get out?"
This one is annoying to many of us whether our husbands are deployed or not. Many of our husbands aren't counting down the days until they "can" get out. Many of them keep signing back up again and again because they actually love what they do or they VOLUNTEER AGAIN and AGAIN to go back to Iraq b/c there is work that needs to be done.

7. "This deployment shouldn't be so bad, now that you're used to it."
We do learn coping skills. We figure out ways to make life go smoother while the guys are gone. But it never gets "easy" and the bullets and bombs don't skip over our guys just because they've been there before. The worry never goes away.

8. "My husband had to go to Europe for business once for three weeks. I totally know what you're going through." (This is my favorite!)
This one is similar to number two. Do not equate your husband's three week trip to London/Omaha/Tokyo/etc. with a 6-15 month or more deployment to a war zone. Aside from the obvious time difference, nobody shot at your husband or tried to blow him up with an I.E.D., your husband could call home pretty much any time he wanted to, and he flew comfortably on a commercial plane. We do not feel bonded to you in the slightest because of this comment and, if anything, we probably resent you a bit for it. Comparing a 12 month combat deployment to a few weeks business trip is like comparing a crappy Hyundai Excel with a Mercedes convertible.

9. "Wow you must miss him?"
This one also gets another big "duh". Of course we miss our men. There are some wives who do not and they're now divorced.

10. "Well, he signed up for it, so it's his own fault whatever happens over there.
Yes, ignorant, he did sign up. Each and every day he protects your right to make stupid comments like that. He didn't sign up and ask to be hit by anything, he signed up to protect his country. Oh, and by the way, he asked me to tell you that "You're welcome." He's still fighting for your freedom.
11. "Don't you miss intimacy? I couldn't do it!"
Military spouses learn quickly that our relationships must be founded on something greater than sex. We learn to appreciate the important things, like simply hearing their voices, seeing their faces, being able to have dinner together every night.

12. "Well in my opinion….."
Stop right there. I didn't ask for you your personal political opinions. Hey, I love a heated political debate, but not in the grocery store, not in Jamba Juice, not at Nordstrom, not in a bar when I'm out with my girls trying to forget the war, and CERTAINLY NOT AT WORK. We tell co-workers about deployments so when we have to spend lunch hours running our butts off doing errands and taking care of the house, dog, and kids, they have an understanding. We do not tell co-workers and colleagues because we are giving an invitation to ramble about politics or because we so eagerly want to hear how much they hate the President.

13. " it time already for him to come home? This deployment just FLEW by!!"
So glad it was a quick ride for them....

14. "OH, that's horrible…I'm so sorry!"
He's doing his job and he's a badass. Don't be sorry. Be appreciative and please take a moment out of your comfortable American lives to realize that our MARINES/soldiers/airmen/sailors fight the wars abroad so those wars stay abroad. If you want to say anything, say thank you.
I hope you got a little laugh out of these! The bottom line is that although we go through some tough times, most military wives are so very proud of their husbands and are willing to be a part of the sacrifices they make to serve out country.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Yep, the States again!

I know, it is a bit ridiculous, but we went to the U.S. again! Well John had a conference to go to in Reno and I decided to tag along! As you know, we moved to Okinawa from the Reno area, so I had some friends there that I wanted to see, and of course, who would pass up an opportunity to be near Lake Tahoe?!
We flew into San Francisco and the first night had an amazing dinner in the city with John's family. I don't know how I married into such a tall family! I have heels on in this picture and yet am still so short!
We made our way to Reno the next day and stopped in Davis to have lunch with John's best friend Doug, his wife Kellie and their son Jackson. This is their first appearance on our blog, so I am going to pause for a moment so they can soak it in..........
Kellie, I hope it is everything you thought it would be!
Anyway, we had a great lunch and enjoyed some time catching up then after a trip to the nearby outlet mall, we were back in the car.
As we are nearing Reno, we stopped again in Lake Tahoe to barge in on John's cousin's family dinner! Tim, Kim and their two gorgeous girls were at a cute little restaurant where we snuck in to spend a little time with them. We were certainly entertained by the girls the entire time!
We later made it to Reno safely and crashed after our full day. The rest of the week I spent shopping while John attended meetings! I know, what a terrible life!
We also had a chance to meet up with some of our closest friends from Topgun that are still stationed out there. I don't know why, but we didn't take many pictures!
As you all know, my wonderful husband now has a slight obsession with scuba diving! He was determined to dive Lake Tahoe. I don't know how many of you have ever been there and touched the water but it is NEVER warm, especially in October! Once I jumped in on a warm August day and felt like it took my breath away for a minute because it was so cold! As soon as we got into town, John was on the phone with the local dive shop to find out how he could make this dive happen. He was able to schedule a time to get a certification for drysuit diving, which would allow him to dive in Tahoe. The landscape is quite different from the coral reefs we are used to in Okinawa. There were many rock formations and even a sunken forest.
He had such a blast! I think in his excitement, he forgot to get a picture of himself but here is his instructor and you can see how much more gear he has on with the drysuit!
Our last night in Reno we went to an amazing steakhouse called Charlie Palmer, at the hotel where we were staying. We had been a few years earlier on Valentine's Day and were looking forward to some great food. It certainly did not disappoint!
We ended our weekend with a stay at John's parent's lakehouse with more family and friends. We had such a great time, John practically had to drag me on the plane to come back to Japan! I think that will be the end of our trips for a while!
Please keep both John and I in your prayers as he heads to the desert soon. I will keep you guys updated as much as possible, but I will forewarn you that for a few months you may have to just settle with the adventures of Andrea!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Okuma Beach Resort

Way up on the Northern part of Okinawa is a military resort called "Okuma". I have heard people ranting and raving about this place. It is sometimes hard to get is, so we got really lucky and were able to fit in one night there. They have cabins, campgrounds and condos for very reasonable prices and they are all very close to the water.
They also have just one private cabin (for couples only) with its own private beach. This is what we scored for the night! I was so excited! When you live on a little island a 30 minute drive seems to take forever, but it took almost 2 hours to make it to Okuma. It was certainly worth the trip!
The private cottage comes with the use of a golf cart, so we checked in, got our keys, then off we went to our secluded cottage. We were more than impressed.
It had it's own little locked gate and we could pull the golf cart up next to it.
The cabin was one room with a little bathroom and a TV. It had a porch with a fabulous view. No complaints here.
We had a nice little dinner at the restaurant on the grounds, then hung out on the front porch before heading to bed. In the morning all I wanted to do was this...
Here is a picture I took of John from the front porch so you could see out little beach area.
It was a short trip, but a much needed break from everything.
Since we were the furthest north we had ever been on the island, we decided to keep going up the Hedo Point, the northern most tip of the island.
I am certain these monuments mean something!
So now we are back home for a night before we head to the west coast! See you soon!