We made it back about a week ago (Mallory and myself anyway; Brett came back toJapan on Jan 3rd), and have slept thru the night for the past 2 nights (that means all 3 of us around here did!) so I think we've officially kicked the jet lag and are back in the swing of things in Japan. But more on that later...
For now, I'll start with the first "leg" of our trip, which was Seattle. (We never actually went up it, but we drove by the famous Space Needle and I thought about the scene from "Sleepless in Seattle" of course.)
We all left our little slice of concrete heaven here on base in Japan back on Dec 12th at about 7:30am, headed off to Narita airport in the shuttle bus and 3 hours later arrived at the International Airport. After checking in 2 very large suitcases, 1 duffel bag, 1 bag of flight gear for Brett's simulator, 1 computer bag, 1 diaper bag, 1 backpack, 1 stroller, 1 carseat, 1 catseat base, 2 coats, and 2 pairs of shoes (no we aren't moving back yet...it just requires us to bring that much crap to pretty much leave the house at any time now that we have a baby). We figured out that yes, we do indeed have an infant with us (it took us over 1 hour at the United counter to get a "ticket" for her even though she sits on our lap and doesn't get a seat). Then we trekked over to security. We managed to get all our stuff (see above if you need a refresher on the fact that we looked like nomads walking thru the airport) thru security and boarded on the flight, and away we went. Many, many hours later (although b/c you cross the International Date Line it's only like 1.5 hours after you left your house in Japan) we landed in Seattle. We were all pooped, but pressed on and got a rental car. Us Cochrans are cheap and knew that this was just the beginning of the trip, so we didn't want to blow our wad on an expensive car. We got the most compact thing possible, and had to push and shove and wedge all our stuff (and ourselves) into the car. We did it though, and made it over to McChord AFB, and crashed! Let the first battle with jetlag begin!
We spent from Dec 12-Dec 18th in Seattle because Brett had to attend his annual simulator there. We don't have family up there, but had a great time anyway and got to see and do quite a few things. First we had lunch with some friends of ours that we met on our wedding trip to Belize! Kacy and Kelly are a super fun couple who live near Vancouver, so they drove south and we drove north and met them just north of Seattle. It was really cold- this is a waterfall that had frozen over- so we were bundled up, and it was Mal's first time to see snow! We had a buffet lunch at a casino there (yes, my child has been to a casino before the age of 4 months- please don't judge our parenting skills)and talked and talked for several hours. They told us that Kacy is pregnant so they are expecting their first bundle of joy this summer! A Canadian playmate for Mallory-yay!
Later, while Brett worked, I did some shopping and took Mallory to see Santa at the mall. Here she is sitting in her carseat in her cute Christmas dress waiting to talk to the big man. She hasn't entered the "stranger danger" phase yet, so she was perfectly happy sitting on his lap, and trying to eat his beard. He was very nice and let me snap a few extra photos on my own camera (I'm sure it is because I added to his "toy building fund" by buying the big package of pictures from them- but how many times does your baby get to sit on Santa's lap for the very first time? I'm such a sucker as a parent!)
We have another set of friends that live in Seattle, so we went to dinner with them one night as well. Chuck and Rachel are a couple that we also met while in Belize. In fact, they are the "witnesses" to our wedding, and their names are on our marriage certificate! We met them at a fun little pizza joint, and talked and ate and laughed.
Mallory and I did some playing and hanging out in the base hotel.Mallory found her feet, which must be very fun to play with and eat.
Thanks to Facebook, we also got to meet up with my cousins Skylar and Shaun, and Skylar's new wife Oksana. I had posted on facebook that I was in Seattle, and they live down in Oregon. So we met in the middle in Portland (driving down in rain and sleet) and hung out and had lunch together. It was a quick visit, but definitely worth it! I hadn't seen them in a couple years, and they were so excited to meet Mallory (I guess she's their 1st cousin once removed??). Anyway, we had Greek food and walked over (in the rain) to a book and coffee shop to chat some more before heading home.
By the end of the week, Brett finished up his simulator and we were heading out for leg 2 of the trip- the Findly family visit in Atlanta, GA...