Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our Japanese cars...and other things authentic

I promised a few pictures of our new (to us) cars, so here they are:
The blue one is a Hi-Lux Surf (or in American terms, a Toyota 4Runner). That is Brett's car. It is much bigger and harder to park in the tiny spaces around here, but it has been great for hauling things like our new table and chairs set, the crib mattress and baby dresser and bookshelf and an extra dresser in our room!
The red one is my car- it's a Nissan Rasheen. There is no American equivalent, other than it looks like a cross between a Land Rover and a Jeep, that was squished in a trash compactor. It's cute, and I like it. It'll be my car to drive around, and the baby seat will fit great in the back (we hope- we haven't actually tested that yet). 
This is an adorable baby kimono I found and just had to get! It has a Japanese floral pattern on it, ties in the front, but has the onesie snap legs for ease during diaper changing. Hey, if Lil' Miss Cochran is going to be born here in Japan, we have to make her fit in, right?? She is kicking and squirming away these days. I have my first dr. apt here tomorrow, so here's hoping they think everything is fine and dandy with the little girl!!
This is a picture taken from the car. We were driving by the flight line on a super clear day, so in the background, you can just make out Mt. Fuji, in the clouds. One of these days we will trek over there and hike that...once lil' missy is out and Brett can carry her in the backpack, not in my belly!

Guess what I WON last night??

Last night was the Yokota Officer's Spouses Club meeting. It is for all officers wives on base, if they want to join. It's just another way to get out and meet people and make connections here, plus they do a lot of events and their proceeds go to great causes like scholarships, etc. I decided to try it out last night, what the heck, right? The theme was "blingo"- basically we played Bingo but wore our "bling" and little black dresses (which aren't quite so little at 25 wks prego!). Anyway, it was held at the O Club ballroom, and we had a lovely dinner followed by 11 bingo games. I didn't do well on any of those. The last game was black-out, for the big prize. Again, I was totally thinking I'd go to the event for fun, not to win. Guess what- I WON the blackout game! 
And that one was for the big prize- a beautiful string of Japanese cultured pearls! 
They are gorgeous and I feel so lucky! 
They came from this very well-known store in Roppongi- the "it" section of Tokyo:Japanese pearls are some of the best in the world, and I'm sure this set is quite expensive, so I definitely did great! (Of course, jokingly, they said I also won the ability to be head chairman of the Asian Bazaar for next year- no thank you!!!) So, here are my pearls. Now I'll have to talk my husband into going out to a place nice enough to wear them. Maybe one of these weekends we can go eat at a fancy restaurant in Tokyo (and probably spend as much on dinner as the pearls cost!!!) 

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just keepin' busy

I haven't posted in a while, as I have just been busy unpacking and putting things away. It's a full time job! 
I am happy to report that the kitchen is done (and even has a set of curtains hung and a few pictures on the wall. 
The master bedroom is also arranged, clothes unpacked and hung, room is painted a sage green, and pictures are on the wall. Yes, I've been painting and climbing on ladders and furniture. Those are all smart things to do while pregnant, right? Oh, well that's what happens when your husband goes on a trip for a week, and leaves you in a foreign country with boatloads of boxes, and only a handful of people to entertain you!
The office is a disaster, but that is Brett's domain. 
The baby room is also a mess, but I do have a few good things to report on that front. We bought a crib from another family on base (which Brett promises to sand and refinish for me), and I found a cute dresser and bookshelf for only $30 total at this Japanese recycle place right off base. They take used furniture, etc and redo it all to make it look nice, and it is cheap! It isn't heirloom quality stuff, but it will work for now, and since AF families move all the time anyway, it isn't worth buying super expensive things that might get ruined in the move anyway. I bought a new crib mattress, and have ordered a glider/ottoman (here's hoping it comes in on time!) Her bedding also came in, so now I can buy some paint to match in that room, and get busy making it cute and girly. I've also found a few sales on baby clothes that were great buys and got a great, brand-new swing for free (it's a nice one too- the sideways and front/back swinging kind with music, a mobile, etc.) I think the only major items we are missing now are the monitor and a breast pump (you all wanted to picture that, right?) I have also found a few very cute and Japanese-y decor items to add to her room, so I think it will be adorable once it is done. 
Now I need to finish painting the living room, find a table and chair set that we like, and get a curtain hung in that room. It is really beginning to feel like we live here though, so that is good. 
I also got cell phones this week (not to call the states with- that is our home phone, just to have to call each other basically). And we got our 2nd car. I love it! It's a Nissan Rasheen, which basically looks like a cross between a jeep and a land rover that went thru a trash compactor. I'll post pictures later. 
I went to the 36th squadron spouse meeting last Monday and met some other nice wives, and am going to the Yokota Officers Spouses Club mtg next week. I also went to the park today with a great mom's meet-up group. So, I've meet some people and made some friends. Life is good. Things are movin and groovin here in Japan! I'll post some pics of the cars later, and house pictures as I get it put together and settled. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Stuff is HERE!

Yay for household goods shipments! Our stuff arrived today, and so far, everything arrived in great shape. I think the boxes are multiplying in here as I swear I unpack one and turn around and 4 more are in it's place. But that's ok, it's OUR stuff and we can finally unpack and feel like this is home. Well, until we get to turn around and do it all again in just 3 short years....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Our Quarters

Just a quick post.  I wanted to share a few pictures of our quarters on here. This is the outside of our building. There are 4 units per building.
Here is a closer picture of our end of the building. We are the door on the left. You can see our lovely window air conditioning units too. They are ugly, but they work. Actually, we are the lucky ones on base. The redone units have their temps controlled by the Air Force. We get to control our own. They don't make for the prettiest things to look at, but I'll take a comfort over charm anyday!!
Here is a close-up of our front porch. Note the lovely metal door and the screen door (latched open). The windows next to the door are very "Japanese-y". You can't see in our out of them, although you feel like you should be able to- it's sort of annoying. I'd like to put some sort of shelf or something in front of them on the inside, and maybe a big plant on the outside. Of course, by the time we get all this set up, I'm sure we will be on our way to moving again. 

Each unit has your name above the door. Cochran is not a very Japanese name, and has given more than one local a hard time with pronunciation. It followed into the spelling too, because we are now the "CochrOn" famil
y. Oh well! 
I'll post some pictures of the inside of our place once we get all our own stuff here. Right now, it's rather sparse with the few loaner items we have. I can't wait to get our stuff here and really make this place feel like home!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Our first trip into Tokyo @ 22weeks pregnant

First off, here's a horrible picture of me at 22weeks pregnant. Please excuse the look on my face- I was trying to take the picture myself. I look horrible and have no make-up on, but the important part is you can see my bump!

Now, onto the fun stuff. Yesterday we took our first trip into Tokyo! We went with some friends that are also stationed here, my brother's friend from h.s. and his wife, Matt and Amanda. They have been here since November, so they know their way around a little bit better than we do! We walked to the Fussa station to get on the train. First we went to Shinjuku and walked around a bit. That area has lots of big, tall buildings and shopping. You can see some of the buildings here:

After walking a bit, we got back on the train and went a few more stops to Shibuya. This huge crosswalk is here, and as you can see there are TONS of people in Tokyo. I really thought it was like that just in movies. Nope, it's real! There are TONS of people in this country and you have to keep up with your group or you could easily get separated. It isn't scary though, just a neat experience. 
We also stopped here at a pub for a bit. The boys and Amanda each got a beer. I was out of control with my coke- ha! Things here are expensive- the beers were $11.00 each, and my coke was $5. Tokyo isn't a cheap city to live in (another reason we live on base! Here's a pic of the view of the street from the pub:
After that we rode the train over to Harajuku and walked around a bit more. This area is known for the eccentric crowd- those who dress crazy and out of control. Think Anime characters, or maybe Super Mario Brothers. We saw a few, although they weren't really out in force yesterday. Neat area to explore though, and there is lots of shopping there too. 
After exploring Harajuku a bit, we went back down to Shibuya for dinner. Here are Matt and Amanda walking to the restaurant. We met some of Matt and Amanda's friends down there and we all went to this Brazilian steakhouse place, called Barbacoa. It was expensive but delicious!!! There was a huge salad bar to get all kinds of things off of- veggies, salads, etc. And all thru dinner guys would come by with various kinds of meat on skewers and just cut pieces off to eat, like this one here:
Here is the menu, showing the various cuts of meat they offered. We ate and ate and ate. It was GOOOOOOD!!! 
We had a great day and it was fun to get out of the wire and explore a bit. We enjoyed ourselves and are excited to get out again soon!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Weekend Fill-ins

1. Anonymous...doesn't really describe me. 
2. My husband is...a great supporter; a sweet, loving man with a heart of gold; and going to be an amazing Daddy.
3. Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, you...make me appreciate all the good things in my life.
4. Flowers, warmer temperatures, and cook-outs outside on back patios ...are what I look forward to most about Spring.
5. Who needs therapy when...you live in a country where you don't understand what 95% of the population is even saying!
6. Chocolate bunnies, Cadbury creme eggs, and jelly beans...MUST go in the EASTER basket!
7. As for the weekend, I'm looking forward to...exploring Tokyo with Brett tomorrow, getting our second car, starting my "learning Japanese" classes, and celebrating Easter!

Happy Easter everyone!!

I drove off base...alone!

I realize I've been driving for nearly 16 years now, so this shouldn't be a big deal. However, driving here in Japan is different than stateside. It's on the other side of the road, other side of the car, and the roads are SOOO skinny. On base there is a certain security that you can't get lost (plus the roads are normal width). Off base, it's a whole different ballgame. So, going off base by myself today was a big deal! I went to the "bunny store" (no one knows the real name). It's a cute little baby store not too far from base that sells clothes, diapers, etc. I just HAD to get something pink for our little girl. Plus, the family that sponsored us when we got here (they picked us up at the airport, helped us get a few things set up,etc.) just had a baby girl last weekend, so I wanted to pick up something for them too. So, I accomplished 2 things- bought my baby girl her first pink outfit and drove off base alone...and made it home again!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So, we found out yesterday that Little Baby Cochran (formerly known as "the bean") is a sweet baby girl. They sent us a picture of her precious profile. I think she is on "hot babe" already. The picture was emailed to us as a .bmp file though- so blogger won't upload it. Any technical people out there want to help me so I can post it? 
God is so good and has richly blessed Brett and I with each other as husband and wife, an amazing adventure in Japan, and a sweet baby girl coming our way. I have to say that life couldn't be better and we couldn't be happier! Here is a picture of the Fussa Gate at Yokota:
You can see a cherry tree blossoming in the background. I took the picture while in the car, so excuse the quality, but this is where we live now, and where our little one will make her entrance into this big, wide world!!
And speaking of cherry trees, I think that is what I will decorate her room in. I LOVE this bedding: http://www.babysupermall.com/main/products/kli/kli5204beds.html
What do you think? It's sweet, cute, girly & Japanese-y. I think it might be the one!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's official! We are on team....

PINK!!! That's right folks...we are having a sweet baby GIRL!!!!! Sugar and spice and everything nice is what OUR LITTLE GIRL will be made off!!! Time to buy some lace, bows, and cute pink stuff!!
Yep, we went in for our sonogram today, and he checked all the organs and measured all the body parts and things look good. He said it all looks right on track. He had a hard time seeing one of the kidneys (which of course, even though he says not to worry, has me worried) but said it was there, it just looks just slightly dialated. He said he has seen that before and not to worry, he has never seen it turn into anything. He said it is borderline, if anything, and they may order another sono in a month (yay- another chance to see her!) or they may not be worried about it and think things will progress just fine. Of course, we are already praying that everything is fine. He seriously did not sound concerned, so I am not going to stress either. He said the other kidney, bladder, and amnio fluid amounts are all fine, so he thinks it is nothing and it will probably work itself out before the birth (can't believe I have to wait like 16-20 weeks to meet my sweet girl). I have an apt on the 30th with the ob, so I will of course discuss it then and see what they think. Hopefully it is absolutely nothing wrong, but regardless, I am already so in love with OUR BABY GIRL!!!!! 
So, that's our news. We are excited as can be. He said it wasn't 100% certain (she was being a bit shy with her girly bits) but let's put it this way, none of us saw any sign of a ding-a-ling, so we are pretty darn sure it is a girl!! Now to pick out names and decorate in pink.... :) 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pictures from our 1st train ride and the Cherry Blossom Festival

This past weekend we braved the trains for the first time. They were much easier than we thought, which is good, because that is a BIG way to travel around this country. On and near base, you can drive. But to go into Tokyo, driving takes about 3-4 hours. By train it is about 1.5 hours (and that is with lots of stops on the way). We live right near Fussa Station, on the Ome line. 
Brett waiting for the train, checking out the vending machines. They are EVERYWHERE!!! I've read there is something like one for every 20 people in this country, and I believe it! They sell drinks (blue buttons are cold drinks, red buttons are hot drinks), and some sell alcoholic drinks as well. They vary from sodas to coffees to teas and everything in between. I guess I should never be thirsty here!

You can see that there are a LOT of people that ride the trains (and this isn't even rush hour!) 

The Cherry Blossom Festival we went to was held at the Showa Memorial Park. There are tons of these festivals all over, but this one was close to us, and supposed to be very pretty. We weren't disappointed!
This sign must say "cherry blossoms" or something like that :)

 These reminded us of Texas bluebonnets, although they weren't the same flower of course.
Here are a few more pictures of the Cherry Blossom Festival. The trees were everywhere and were very pretty (although they are even more in bloom this week). More than the trees were the people. There were Japanese all over! Basically, a festival here means: bring a blanket, picnic basket (including alcohol if you want- Brett was excited about that part), and just hang out on the grass and people watch and enjoy yourself. We didn't bring a blanket or food, but we know for next year! We did get a bite to eat at the little booths that were set up around the park. It was a beautiful day (sunny, mid 60's) and we had a great time. 

Brett asked me if I was going to take a picture of EVERY branch. I smiled and said yes : ) Of course I didn't, but they were so pretty, I just couldn't help but stop and take several.  I think it would be neat to get one of these pics blown up and framed to hang on the wall, as a Japanese keepsake. If the baby is a girl, I'm thinking of doing her room in cherry blossom motif, and would hang it in the nursery. If it's a boy, well, I still might enlarge a picture but hang it in the living room instead (no pink flowers in Brett's boy's room!) 
A close up of the blooms:

Pictures of some of our Japanese adventures

Now that I got the picture posting thing figured out (I think) I'll finally share some pics from this past week's adventures. Here ya go:

 First, the Japanese toilets- you either love them or hate them. There are some that are literally holes in the ground (picture a man's urinal laid out flat on the ground)- I've managed to skip those so far, but I am sure I will have to brave it one of these days. But sometimes you get lucky, and find the super fancy ones- with heated seats, a flushing sound to cover up any noises you might make, various sprays to clean you afterwards, perfumed spray...they are out of control. I know most people don't put toilet pics in their blog, but prego+exploring Japan=toilet exploration!! 
Daphne and I found the Diamond City Mall. Apparently it has now been renamed the AEON mall though. It is HUGE and we had a good time walking around. Surprisingly, lots of the stores have English names (and there is even an LLBean, Eddie Bauer, Gap and Lush stores inside!) They also have a store on one end that takes up the whole end of the mall and is fairly well priced for home decor, clothing, baby items, etc. It is close to base (requires only 1 turn- I could probably get there on my own!) so I'm sure I'll be back. This is also the place where I experienced green tea flavored ice cream. All I can say about that is...ICK!!!
Very NOT ick was the sushi Brett and I ate the other night. We went to a place called Santa Sushi, and it was YUM!! I am not a big fish eater, and have heard the numerous warnings about not eating sushi while being pregnant. However, I'm in Japan folks, home of the sushi roll- I had to branch out. We just ordered a "sushi snack" as we called it (we were walking home from the train station and weren't all that hungry really, but had to stop in and try a few bites). The place is tiny- maybe 10 chairs around a counter top. We ordered cucumber rolls, shrimp rolls, crab rolls, and fried oyster rolls. Unlike the states, you don't get a huge plate full of sushi- you get about 2-3 rolls per order. But, they aren't expensive ($1.50-$4 depending on what you order). It was SUPER yummy, and we will be back (and if you come visit, I have a feeling we will take you here!) Note the chopsticks in the picture too- no forks to be found in this place! People we have talked to who have been stationed here for a while, or multiple times, all swear this place is one of the best and most authentic and I 100% believe them!!

I figured out the picture thing...

Ok, so I finally figured out how to post pics without them being all scattered and crazy. I went back and added some to a few posts, and I'll post more pics tomorrow on the cherry blossom fest, our sushi experience, etc. No more excuses to not add pictures and no more complaining from you readers that you can't "see" Japan now!

A few cherry blossom pics- and my blossoming belly

Here's my belly at 21 weeks- Brett cut off my head :) but you can see that my gut is sticking out quite a bit these days. We found out in 2 days if that's a girl or boy in there- yippee!

A couple cherry blossom tree shots. These are actually on base, taken by the back gate. The pics don't do them justice- they are really SO pretty!

Thursday is THE big day!!

Yay!!! We got our sonogram appointment scheduled for 9:30am Thursday morning (which is 7:30pm Wed night for those in Texas). Everyone cross their fingers that this kiddo uncrosses it's legs and shows us it's goods! We can hardly wait to go buy something pink or something blue!!! And I can hardly believe I'm far enough along to know what we are having already! If you haven't voted yet- throw your vote in on the poll on the side and I'll let you know after the appointment if you were right or not!!! Wish us luck!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dinner from a 7-11

Have you ever had your dinner from a 7-11? You might if you live here in Japan. We were hungry, and the Commisary/BX closes at 7pm. We didn't really want to go out to dinner, so we just went around the corner to the off-base 7-11. They sell all sorts of random food concoctions there-it's crazy. A few of them (well, more than a few) are hard to tell what they even are, so we tried to pick things we recognized. I tried a corndog (yup, just like in America although better b/c there is more batter and it is sweet), and a pkg of cheese pizzas (although they put corn on all their pizza here- bizarre). Brett got a "fresh and tasty sandwich" with various things inside- he couldn't really identify them but he is braver than I about eating stuff. He also got a noodle/shrimp dish that turned out to be fettucine alfredo with shrimp on it- he said it wasn't bad for a 7-11 meal. He of course got a few more of his favorite chu-hi drinks (I swear he is going to go thru withdrawl in a few years when we leave) and I got a mint chocolate ice cream bar. There was NOTHING healthy about dinner tonight, but mmmmm....it was good! Who knew you could get dinner from the local 7-11 store? (I'd call it a gas station- but they don't have gas pumps- just the store part and a big parking lot. I think they have the biggest parking lots in Japan at 7-11's!) 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting lost, getting Japanese directions, and getting our stuff- a lotta gettin' goin' on!

So the other night Brett and I tried again to go to dinner at a place called "The Wok" just outside the gate near our house. Last time it was full when we went. Wed night we drove by and the sign said "closed on Wed". Wha??? I guess that place isn't meant to be for us. 
So, we kept driving and found another place to eat. It smelled good from the outside, and we realized once we got inside it is a place where you cook your own meat and veggies at the table. It isn't like a habachi grill with a big flat cooking surface. It has like a little round mini-grill on built into the table and you just put the meat slices on it and cook them to your liking. I had a Korean salad, gyoza (pot stickers) and the beef meat that Brett and I split. Brett had the meat, plus some onion soup (broth with green onions in it) and a bowl of some sort of noodle/veggie mix. Oh, and he had a nama biru (draft beer)- he's serious about using my DD status to its full extent! :) All that was only about $35 and it was really good food!
As you can see, if you order a drink, it is decent size. If you get mizo (water) it is microscopic, and it is like that EVERYWHERE here! It has about 3 sips of water in it- crazy!
After dinner, we went to go back to base, but turned the wrong way somewhere, so it turned into another exploration trip. We found a really big Japanese grocery store that we stopped at and wandered thru (there are some REALLY interesting things in one of those stores!) and had to stop at a 7-11 (yep, they have those here) to get directions. I stayed in the car but it was quite funny to watch Brett and the little clerk do this arm motion explanation thing about how to get home. Brett said there were a lot of "hai's" said in the conversation (means yes- they say it all the time!) We were probably 500 yards from base in the end, but everything is so built up and blocked around here, you can't tell where you are, and you certainly can't read any signs for help! We made it back, and laughed about it later. 
Today, our unaccompanied baggage shipment arrived! That's the smaller shipment- mostly baby stuff, a few clothes and some sheets/towels. Our big shipment, with our furniture and the rest of our stuff, probably won't arrive for another few months :( I am ready for it to get here, so we can turn in the temporary stuff, set our stuff up, and really make this place feel like home. I guess my "nesting" is kicking in- I can't wait to decorate and really get settled. But, at least one of our shipments got here so we have some more of our things (I was getting tired of the same clothes out of my suitcase!) I know 3 years is going to fly by and by the time we get all settled, it will be time to turn around and move again, because we already love it here, but I'm still itching to decorate and make this place home (blame it on the baby- I can't WAIT to do that room!!) 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

shaka shaka...chicken

This week has been mellow here. It's all good though. Brett hasn't really finished in-processing yet. Instead, he's spent a good part of the week getting caught up on his master's class papers. Oh, what fun. I've been exploring a bit on my own, and with another girl I met here. 

Tuesday, Daphne and I went out the Fussa gate to the Seiyo (say-you) and Daiso (die-a-so) stores. Seiyo is like a big Dillard's I guess, and Daiso is more like an overgrown Dollar Tree.

They were fun to walk thru, and although we didn't buy much we had fun looking and exploring. The crazy part- we drove there and parked in the lot. You had to get a ticket to park there (parking is SOOO scarce her) and to get out of the lot we had to pay $9!!! It was nuts- that's the most we spent all day! 
It was fun though. We also went thru the Fussa train station (it is sorta in between the 2 stores) so now I know where that is. 

We also stopped at McDonald's for a snack. We'd heard it was better than the states, so we thought we'd try it out. I ate a pretty American meal- cheeseburger, fries and a drink. Daphne got a "shaka shaka chicken".  It's a chicken breast in  a paper bag, and they give you a little packet of flavoring to "shake" onto it- like shake n' bake. It was funny. Then we got ice cream cones- YUM!
It was a fun day and I enjoyed getting out while poor Brett wrote his paper.