Sunday, June 21, 2009

Singapore- Part 1

I'm behind (again) on blogging, as I have the entire Singapore trip and this past weekend to write about. I have no good excuse either, especially since the kiddo isn't here yet (then it will all be her fault!) But, enough whining and on with the show. I'll do our Singapore trip in multiple posts. Mostly b/c it was a week long, and we came home with about 400+ pictures and to try to load that many into one post would make my head spin! 
We left June 11th for the trip. Brett flew a C-130 out there w/ a crew to check it into the depot (it's where they get fixed and checked and stuff). I flew a DC8 (complete with tv and meals and my own row of seats b/c it wasn't crowded- Brett was jealous!) The nice thing about being over here is that there are several Space A flights going to various Asian locations. It is like flying stand-by and you aren't guaranteed to go (and being a spouse by myself, I was lower on the list than active duty, people on orders...everyone but retirees basically) but they go to Singapore about 3x/wk so it wasn't a problem. 
The AF was putting the crew up at a very nice hotel called Traders Hotel. It had a mall attached to it (which I perused while they flew one day) complete with Starbucks, McDonald's and Chili's - so we can get our "American" fix of food (hey, when you don't get it you actually do miss it!) Singapore is a VERY expensive country we discovered. The hotel was about $300/nt. That did include breakfast ($40/day) and a happy hour from 5:30-7:30 w/ free drinks and snacks (the guys made sure to get the AF's $ worth) but let's put it this was a good thing we were staying there on the AF's dime and not ours!  The view from our hotel room on the 17th floor. We got in on a Thursday night and I met him at the hotel. We had dinner and called it a day. Friday the crew had to work, so I explored the mall and the area right around the hotel. 
They got the weekend off which was great, so we got to hang out together. Saturday we all met at the pool and hung out for a bit. It was really nice, but H.O.T! Singapore is 1 degree up from the equator, so I guess they have the right to be hot there. But man, the sun was strong (I had on SPF 50 and still got slightly pink in places) and we were sweaty! After the pool, we showered and changed and headed over to the Chinatown district. It was fun to walk thru and look at all the booths and stuff.  I think I spent most of our Sing $ on bottled water, but it was a neat place. Towards the edge of the Chinatown district was a Buddhist Shrine. Here's Brett with the Buddha outside. It was called he Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and we were allowed to go in and look at it. They had just finished up a service of some sort as there were monks walking around. It might be one of the most ornate buildings I have ever been in. Not being Buddhist, I have no idea what any of the statues mean or what the candles and incense signify, but it was interesting to look at nevertheless. We didn't have to take our shoes off either (you often have to over here). They wouldn't let the Loadmaster, Wilma, in though- she had on a tanktop and that wasn't appropriate attire. The rest of us were ok in shorts and tshirts though. 
Singapore is a country of very mixed nationalities (mostly Chinese and Indian) so the people at the service (and most other places we went) are very racial diverse, which is interesting was well. They speak mostly English though, which is nice as it makes communication with taxi drivers and restaurants that much easier!
I'm starving for lunch so I'll go eat now and post more later!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting to know YOU!

I borrowed this from my friend Kristin because I think it's a great idea! I'd like to get to know my readers better. You don't have to give away private information or credit cards numbers (you can send me that info in a private message - ha!), but let me know who you are. C'mon . . . you know you want to share!

Here are the questions you can answer when you post your comment:

Live in:
Tell me a little about your family:
Your job:
Are you on my blog roll?/Do you wanna be?:
Type of Car:
Favorite color:
Favorite Store:
Favorite Quote:
One blog that you read everyday:

My answers since fair is fair:

Name: Kim
Live in: just outside Tokyo, Japan (but a Texan in my heart)
Tell me a little about your family: married to a great guy named Brett with one sweet baby girl on her way (due Aug 15th)
Your job: was a 1st grade teacher for 9 years. Currently, an Air Force Spouse and a stay-at-home-mommy-to-be
Are you on my blog roll?/Do you wanna be?:
Hobbies/Interests: reading, embroidery, spending time with friends and family, aerobics, traveling
Pets: 1 weenie dog named Maverick and 1 long-haired black cat named Bandit (I named them before I met my AF cargo pilot husband- he didn't name the pets by "pilot call signs" and always feels like a fighter pilot wanna-be when people find out their names- hahaha)
Type of Car: Nissan Rasheen (I think they are only here in Japan- it's like a jeep or a land rover, only squished)
Favorite color: blue
Favorite Store: Target; Bed, Bath and Beyond. Here in Japan I like the Daiso, Joyful Honda (not a car store) and Cainz.
Favorite Quote: You have to go thru the rain to get to the rainbow. And, I can do ALL things thru Christ who strengthens me. 
One blog that you read everyday: I check the updates on all my blogs just about everyday. 

Lil Cherry Blossom Update

We had another sonogram today. We didn't get a picture because the Air Force only gives one to you at your 20 weeker. This sonogram was to get an update on her kidney. At the 1st sonogram it was slightly dialated. Average is 4mm-hers was 4.8mm at the first sonogram @ 20 wks. We had another, and it had gone down to 4.5mm, which the dr was very glad to see. We had another follow up today. We have our dr apt on Friday, so I will know for sure then, but Brett said he thinks it looked even smaller this time (he's gone w/ me each time and knows what to look for now, and I can't see the screen when I'm lying down). Hopefully I'll have good news to blog about Friday, although the dr here assures me this really isn't any big deal. 
The fun part of the sonogram was that at the end, we got to see her sweet little profile. We also saw her nose and mouth quite clearly. She's such a cutie pie- I can't wait to see her!!
She is also head down, so the lump I keep feeling up by my belly button is actually her rear, not her head which I thought it was. Silly girl rolling around in there! 
It's hard to believe my due date is less than 2 months away- it has flown by and we will soon be holding our sweetie pie in our arms...and we can't wait!
Since I don't have a sonogram pic, here's one of me last week at the Singapore Botanical Gardens- I was 31wks 3 days. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Local Hamura Zoo & Sake Tour #2

The weekend after the Sumo Tournament we wanted to go do something, but kinda got a slow star that Saturday. A lot of the stuff in Tokyo takes a good 1-2 hours to get to from base, and they close around 5pm, so we wouldn't have had much time seeing anything there. So, we decided to just drive to the local zoo. It is only about 15 minutes away. I'd heard it wasn't very big or exciting, but it did get us out of the house. Our friend Matt, Brett and I set off for the Hamura Zoo to see what it was all about. It only cost $3 to get in- our first clue it wasn't all that spectacular. We joked that it probably had farm animals and guinea pigs on display, and what do you know... the kids section was full of these little guys! There was also about 12 cages with roosters in them. We laughed that our joke was actually 1/2 true! There were a few cool animals though- this guy had his feathers out and on full display (I think he was trying to woo the girly peacock, but she was having none of it!) 
These guys were cute to watch. Although I was sweating, so I'm not sure how the poor penguins were holding up. Their water was also a dingy, dirty color- note how not 1 penguin is swimming? I don't think Japanese zoos are held to the same standards as American ones- I really felt sorry for some of the animals here.  This little porcupine had his quills out and up too. He was funny looking- he sorta waddled around, and his quills kept poking into the rocks and sides of the cage, so he would "bounce" off the edge- he looked like he might have had one too many glasses of sake or something! This guy was the best. I know- who goes to the zoo to see llamas, right? But this one was a riot! He was obviously NOT in a good mood about something. When we walked up to his pen, he had his ears back flat and he was pacing back and forth. We stood and watched for a minute and as we did, he made direct eye contact with Brett, and SPIT on him! Little flecks of corn (or whatever he was eating) went all over Brett's shirt. It was hilarious! We were all laughing so hard. I don't know if Brett looks like the zoo keeper or what, but that llama wanted NOTHING to do with him! He didn't seem to mind Matt or me, but Brett just ticked him off! I guess the laughing made the llama even more mad, because he proceeded to look right at Brett again, and spit on him a second time. This time, Brett saw it coming and ducked at the last second, avoiding a second spraying of yellow bits on his shirt. We were outta there after that- obviously the llama was less than happy to be on zoo display that day! 
After the zoo, we went to the local Fussa sake brewery (why do Matt and Brett feel the need to tour every sake brewery in town while I'm pregnant? Can't they save that until after the kiddo gets here?) It was nice, although not nearly as pretty as the other one we went to. We didn't do the tour again this time, but took a few minutes to walk around the grounds on our own (doesn't take long to see everything- especially when all the signs are written in Japanese so you can't read them and learn anything!)  Here are the big sake vats, and a picture from the grounds of the brewery: It was quite pretty, and they had a neat little restaurant on the premises, so we ate dinner there and it was good. After our bellies were full of dinner (and sake for the boys) we headed back to the house and had a good evening playing Rock Band. Just another fun-filled day here in Tokyo!

Sumo Tournament

Gosh, I'm so behind in my blogging! I still have a few things to blog about from before our Singapore trip, and then the entire trip to blog about too (it was great fun, by the way, even though I got left in Singapore an extra day- more on that later). We are back home in Japan (weird to call it home, but Brett and I agreed that after a week in another country and officially selling our house in Abilene, this is "home" now), but had a good trip. I promise to blog about it in the coming days. But let me catch up on the other events first...
On May 23rd (told you I was behind) Brett and I went to a Sumo Wrestling Tournament in downtown Tokyo.  This is us standing outside the stadium. I think I resemble the wrestlers- at least in the belly area these days! 
Neither of us know anything about this sport mind you (or really care) but nothing says "Japan" like sumo. We went with the ITT Tours group on base- you can buy tickets for various events there and they provide the transportation, tickets, etc. which makes it very easy to do. We boarded the bus around noon, and were off for the hour drive to the sumo stadium. We found out that several guys from Brett's squadron had also signed up for the event, so it was fun to have a little group to talk to and sit with. On the way there, a man on the bus started telling us all about sumo. Apparently he had lived in Japan since he was a child (although he is American) and is a huge sumo fan. He knew all about the rules and regulations and wrestlers. A few facts we learned:
*Most wrestlers start around age 15, and are basically the "slave" to the higher up wrestlers in their stable (what they call the different groups- like a karate dojo) until they work their way up in the sumo world. 
*There are several levels of wrestling (think ameatur, semi-pro, pro...) 
*There have been American wrestlers, but currently there aren't any. There are Bulgarian and Japanese and Russian and a few others though. 
*The wrestlers come out and throw salt on themselves and in the ring to "purify", as sumo goes back to a way to worship the Gods originally.  See the white stuff on the ground? That's the salt. 
*Matches start when both wrestlers are ready, are watched over by a referee in the ring and judges on the sides, and ends when either someone steps out of the ring or touches the ground with anything other than their foot. There are wresting techniques, and most matches only last 20-30 seconds, although they can go on longer. 
Once we got to the stadium, we found our seats and got Bento Boxes for lunch. Those are popular in Japan- it's basically a lunch box w/ lots of various food in it- Japanese style of course, so some of it we had no idea what it was. The various types were named after the wrestlers.  Here is my lunch- I can identify about 5 items and I think I ate maybe 3 of those- I'm such a picky American. Where were the hotdogs and beer? :)
Then we sat back and watched sumo.  This is a picture of all the wrestlers in one "level" who are getting ready for their matches. They are all introduced to the crowd (in Japanese of course). It got better towards the end as that is when the ozeki wrestlers (2nd to top level) and highest level wrestlers (don't remember what they are called) fought. I have to admit, we were cheering at the end for the various people to win. Brett had a guy picked out that he thought looked like Jim Bellushi. He was Bulgarian and Brett was cheering for the "Bulgarian Beauty" to win- hahaha! Although I couldn't tell you their names now, it was fun and we got into it. We rented the headphones that told you what was happening in English, so that made it a bit easier to follow along. This was day 14 of a 15 day tournament (and there are 6 tournaments/year), so the next day we found the end of the tourny on tv, and watched to see who was the overall winner. 
It isn't a sport I can really see myself getting into and following (I mean, in the end, it is a bunch of really large, scantily-clad men pushing and shoving each other) but it was fun to watch and experience live. I enjoyed learning a little about it, and seeing where it takes place. And it is one of those things that, had we not done it, I wouldn't really feel like we "did" Japan! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Babymoon" Time!!

Brett left this morning for Singapore (finally- this is the 4th time they have had to reschedule this trip due to various paperwork issues- none of which were B's fault). Anyway, I am going to try to fly out Space A tomorrow to join him there and stay until next Wed or so. Should be a great trip- Singapore is supposed to be a great place to visit! What a great opportunity! And we need to get it in now- Saturday I'll be 30 wks, so this will probably be the last "big" trip before our lil' cherry blossom arrives! I'll post next week with pictures of our trip! Wish me luck that I get on the plane tomorrow (space a is like flying stand-by).