Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This is only the beginning...

It's all happened so fast...(cue twinkling music and fade to two and a half months ago, the beginning of October 2012)...

I was sitting on the couch, watching t.v. with the hubs, when he turns and says, "So, I found out I'm on the short list to be Regional Dispatch Center Manager in ... Japan."  [my jaw drops!]  "What?!?" I say.  One week later and he's had a phone interview, been offered the job, and accepted.  So, we're on our way to Japan!  In the next month we host a Mad Hatter Birthday party for the two little ones, put our house on the market, enjoy a week with the whole Havens clan:  Great-Grandma and Grandpa, Clayton and Tisha, and Dave all make the long journey to Mississippi.  The week after Thanksgiving our household goods are packed, with only about a third of our belongings headed to Japan, the rest headed to storage.  We spend our final week in Mississippi with Kris' parents. 

Saturday, Dec 1:  We head out for a week in Delaware with the Wheeler family.  We aren't two minutes down the road before both kids drop their candy on the floor and start crying.  We stopped by our house one last time to check on things and find that the packers missed two cabinets!  We stopped for the night in Kingsport, TN to spend the evening with my cousin, Amanda, and her family.  The kids get along wonderfully!  After all the youngins are asleep we spend most of the night hanging out with Amanda and Spencer, who spent five years in Tokyo.  So, we got pretty good information on things to see and some things to expect upon our arrival.

Sunday, Dec 2:  We invade Dave's house!

Monday, Dec 3:  Not much on the agenda today, still trying to recouperate from the 20 hour drive.  I made it to LF North to have lunch with my youngest niece, Abbey.  She was so shocked to see me that she didn't talk to me all lunch period!  We had hot dogs and milk.  After nap time, I round up my little kiddos and head back to LF North to watch Abbey's Christmas Concert and then spend an hour or so at Meredith's house.

Tuesday, Dec 4:  We went shopping then had dinner at Dave's with Mom.  Salisbury steaks, green beans, rice and gravy.

Wednesday, Dec 5:  I went to LF Central to eat lunch with Skyler and Kasidey.  Skyler was first:  we sat in the middle of her class' table, she explained the whole lunch process to me and showed me which direction her classrooms were.  She had chicken nuggets, fruit and a cookie I bought her.  She talked all lunch period and ran out of time to eat her cookie.  After lunch her teacher invited me to the classroom to observe.  I got to sit in on her reading group, of which she is the leader!  She is a fantastic reader - I was able to listen to four girls read Charlotte's Web.  Next up, lunch with Kasidey.  She also had chicken nuggets and milk.  Her friends were W.I.L.D.  The whole lunch was loud...so loud we had to spend the last five minutes in silence.  On my way back to Dave's I stopped to see Mom Mom Wheeler.  As I walked up to her work station she didn't recognize me for at least a minute.  :)

Thursday, Dec 6:  Went to Felton to see Dad and Mom Mom.  The kids opened their Christmas presents from Mom Mom.  Mackenzie got Barbie stuff galore!  Beds, fridge, washer and dryer, kitchen counter, and several Barbies to go with it all.  She also got several outfits.  Garytt got Iron Man, Spider Man, Batman, and some Imaginarium soldiers.  He also got clothes.  We ate dinner with Mom, spaghetti from Grotto's.  Yummm...  Brian and Susie came over after dinner and we played pool and drank way too much wine until 2 in the morning.

Friday, Dec 7:  Kris had to be out of the house at 5 so he could go to the RDC in D.C. for a tour and quick introduction to what he'll be seeing here.  Mom came and picked the kids and I up around 10.  We went to her house for a couple hours and hung out.  Then, we went to Chic Fil A for lunch.  After lunch we headed back to Mom's for a rest then she took us back up to Dave's.  We had dinner with Carie and her family.  The kids played and had a blast.

Saturday, Dec 8:  We had breakfast with Mom Mom and Dad, scrapple, bacon, eggs, biscuits, hashbrowns, OJ.  We at lunch at Applebee's.  We told the kids to hurry up and eat because we were going to see Santa, to which Garytt replied, "Ugh...how long of a drive is it to the North Pole?!"  We got to Ed's around 215.  Santa arrived at 3.  Garytt was second in line to sit on his lap.  Mackenzie hid on the other side of the room and refused to go near him.

Sunday, Dec 9:  We had a birthday party for Abbey Jean!  Pretty cupcakes, presents, ice cream.  Lots of fun!!!!

Monday, Dec 10:  We had lunch with Mom.  BLT's and grilled cheese.  We played with her iPad and got her set up with Skype.  We went to Dad's at 3 to have dinner with him and Meredith and the girls.  He fixed one of the fish he caught on his Virginia fishing trip a few days before.  YUMMMMM!!!!!  Rock fish with a mix of mayo and lemon juice, pepper, salt and parsley then baked.  Probably the best fish I've ever eaten!!! 

Tuesday, Dec 11:  We went to Dad's and hung out with him, Mom Mom and Chief till about 2.  Then visited with Meredith for a bit...kids played on her Nook while we all chatted.  I headed to grocery store and bought food while Kris and kids slept.  Mom came for dinner till about 7.  Then, we packed 6 suitcases and three carryons.  Bed by 10-11. 

Wednesday, Dec 12:  up at 230.  Out of house by 310 and at BWI by 430.  Dave helped us get our million bags out of the van and then left.  We headed to the check-in line and realized we forgot the car seats in the van!  Dave made a quick turn-around and gave us the seats.  We got in line and checked in.  The flight from BWI to ATL wasn't bad.  Only a two hour flight.  Garytt fell asleep 10 minutes before we landed, of course.  Mackenzie sang the entire way to keep from falling asleep. 

ATL to SEATAC.  5 hour flight.  Both kids fell asleep at the halfway point.  Once at the airport we got our bags and called for the hotel shuttle.  We got to the hotel by 230, had dinner at IHOP at 4.  When we got back to the hotel the kids both took long showers (they loved the handicap shower), Kris and I took showers and we were in bed by 6. 

Thursday, Dec 13:  Up at 230 and at the AMC counter by 3.  We were through the security line by 330.  We headed to the windows to wait for three hours and were lucky enough to find a nice table with four rocking chairs.  I spent a fortune on coffee, which only took Mackenzie about 5 minutes to fpill all over the floor.  Once Kris and I got that cleaned up I went back to Starbucks and ordered my second expensive coffee, the lady behind the counter said, "wow, you like it that much!"  I told her about the spill and she gave me the next cup on the house!!  :)  After Mackenzie and I gave her a generous tip we headed out to explore.  Didn't take long....lack of sleep and poor diet = quick exhaustion point!  Mackenzie cried about everything!!  She couldn't sit where she wanted, didn't want any of the food offered in the airport, the spilled coffee got on her bag.  We got one last quick chat in with Mom Mom Pat and Grandma before getting on the plane at 645.  We took off by about 725.  We were in rows 7 & 8 seats A & C.  We got to see the mountaintops as the sun was rising!!  :)  Breakfast for Mackenzie was sprite and ritz crackers then she had a bagel and a half.  Garytt munched on a few things.  Kris and I had pancakes and sausage and eggs = YUCK!  The first movie on the plane was Ice Age.  945 Mackenzie spilled her sprite all over my right foot.  I stuck my shoe and sock in the airplane window to dry and the kids switched places.  Both kids were asleep by 1030.  At about the halfway point of the flight (between movies they would flash up a map of our location and our path with airspeed and direction, etc.), it was at this point that it finally hit me, "Wow!  We are really doing this!!  We are going to Japan!!!!!"  Both kids awake at 1430 and my shoe is dry but the floor is still wet.  When kids wake they eat some chips and candy.  Both refuse lunch, it wasn't good anyway (steak and gravy and potatoes or chicken and spaghetti), but we confiscated the yogurt, fruit cups, cookies, extra bagels, cream cheese, jellies, butters, out of the breakfast and lunch boxes for later!  We had a fabulous view of Mt Fuji as we came in for a landing at Yokota AB.  After going through customs and getting our bags we met Mr. Shaw, Kris' boss, and hopped in the van toward Yokosuka.  It took us about 3 hours to get to the base.  Garytt fell asleep about 20 minutes before we got here.  We got to the Navy Lodge and were in our room (307).  Neil, Kris' boss at Columbus, came to see us and make sure we got in alright and if we needed anything.  We were all so out of it that I don't know how we were even able to speak in coherent sentences.  We got dinner to go from Chili's at had baths and were in bed by 730.  That was at the 24 hour point of our day!  I was so tired that when I was reading the bedtime story I was slurring my words.

Saturday, Dec 15:  I was up at 1.  Garytt was up at 4.   Mack and Kris were up at 5.  We ate cereal and watched a little tv before Mr. Shaw came to give us a little tour.  At 9 we headed out and he showed us the whole base.  Then, we parked by the front gate and took a walk down "Blue Street" - a street that has blue designs on the sidewalk.  We saw a lot of different places we want to explore.  Mr. Shaw has spent a lot of time in Japan and his wife is from here, so he gave us such wonderful advice and explained a lot of things to us.  It was a fantastic introduction to the area.  After nap time we headed to Neil's house and the kids stayed with his daughter while we all went to the Italian Garden restaurant for dinner.  After about an hour back at the Hogan's we headed back home and went to bed around 10. 

Sunday, Dec 16:  I was up at 330.  Kids and Kris were up at 5.  We ate cereal and pop tarts for breakfast.  Then, met Mr. Shaw downstairs for a ride to the O Club for brunch.  It was a great buffet.  Garytt had a plate of fruit and milk, Mackenzie had two waffles and bacon, Kris had bacon and eggs and I think Chicken, I had chicken and carrots and celery and tea.  After brunch we headed to the commissary and NEX.  We bought both kids winter coats and a few shirts and ties for Kris and a pair of comfy pants for me.  We bought a few more groceries before heading to the bus stop.  We decided that we would walk to the Lodge instead of waiting for the bus.  Whoa!  Longer than we thought.  The kids did great though!  They complained a lot, but they did the whole walk on their own!  After our nap we had steak, baked potatoes, corn, and Garytt dipped his steak in applesauce for dinner.  The kids and I were asleep by 8 and Kris sometime around midnight.

Monday, Dec 17:  I was up at 3.  Kids and Kris around 530.  We all ate breakfast while Daddy got ready for his first day of work.  While he was at work I finished 3 loads of laundry, made the beds, sorted out some of the stuff in our suitcases and built cars and houses with Legos.  After lunch we went down to the park and played for a while then came back up to the room for a nap.  Kris came home around 330.  Dinner at 5 - spaghetti and bread.  Netflix for a bit then baths and bed by 9.

My....what a beginning to a fabulous adventure!!!!  We wake up every morning to see subs and ships passing by our window.  If we could get our eating and sleeping schedules fixed we would be golden!!!  :)