Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas !

Meme' and Grandpa T are here and we're having a blast showing them Japan. This morning we opened our presents and received lots of fun gifts. Jack is the center of attention, being held or ogled at all times. We wish we could spend Christmas with everybody, but it is such a treat to have Keith home and all be together for the holiday.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and we'll add more about all of our sightseeing adventures soon. All our love, The Webber's and Erceg's...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

1st Santa

Jack had his first official visit with Santa today. The USS Lassen Family Group held a Christmas party for the kids today, it was nice to meet some of the other Mom's from Keith's ship. There are a lot of babies that are close to Jack's age...potential playmates for the future.

There isn't too much exciting news to share...Keith comes home next week, hooray! It will be nice to have our family back together. My camera is still out of commission so here are a few more photos from my phone's camera.

I hope everyone is having fun gearing up for Christmas...I know we are!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Smiling Jack

Jack will be three months old pretty soon, wow how time flies. He is becoming so much more interactive and we are slowly finding our way into a better sleep schedule. For the past few nights we have been turning in around 9, getting to sleep between 10 and 11, then sleeping until almost 5. Jack wakes up a few times but a quick feed puts him right back to sleep. Then we turn back in for a few more hours and usually get up around 8 or 9. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday, I had six guests and I cooked for twenty. No wonder I was exhausted today. "Luck is the by-product of busting your fanny." – Don Sutton. I think if anyone taught me this it was my grandma Liz. I totally believe that everything happens for a reason. Karma, "The effect of all deeds actively create past, present and future experiences, thus making one responsible for one's own life, and the pain and joy it brings to others". If only everyone lived this as truth, the world would be a better place. I think true "luck" only exists in a few places; when you are engaging in something dangerous, i.e. you know, we have all been there...hanging Christmas lights in the rain, standing on the top step of a ladder, accidentally changing the channel during the last few moments of a really good football game...very good chance of death in all of those situations. The other place I think luck exists is in a casino. I have never been much of a card player but you can't keep me away from a craps table. Craps is pure luck laden with superstition. I have never lost more than the $20 I started with simply because if I lose the twenty I walk away. "Luck"ily, nine times out of ten I walk away with at least double what I came to the table with. Superstitiously, I stack the dice and tap them twice before I roll...who knows what would happen if were ever to not do this, so I dare not try. "Put your heart, mind, intellect, and soul even to your smallest acts. This is the secret of success." – Swami Sivananda Saraswati. Today I am grateful for knowing...not by learning the easy way...that to reach your goals you need to bust your fanny and put your heart, mind, intellect and soul into every act. I have my Grandma Liz and my Dad to thank for teaching me to pursue these qualities every day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted on the Sistine floor."
– Neil Simon

Taking risks is part of everyday life when you live in a foreign country. Simple tasks become difficult with different customs and a language barrier. When applying for orders overseas, military members and their dependants should have to prove they are "worthy" of the experience. Why move to a new country for three years and never experience it? Why return to the states with three years of shopping at the exchange on base and going out to eat at Taco Bell? Luckily I have made a friend who is not afraid to venture outside the "gate".

Today we visited Kamakura, home of the Great Buddha. We also had a great lunch at a little cafe where I had an amazing eggplant gratin. Now I admit, eggplant gratin is not very Japanese, but some of the best food I have had has not been in it's country of origin. The best Indian food I have ever had was in Amsterdam, the best Thai was in Bath, England and the best Mexican was from El Burrito Jr on PCH. Now I have not been to India or Thailand but I have been to Mexico, and in my opinion, the Mexican food there is horrible. My extensive exposure to Japanese food has led me to this conclusion of why food is always better away from it's homeland. Traditional Japanese food consists mainly of rice and fish, inexpensive...raw...sometimes cooked...but mostly raw...fish. Japanese people do not sit down to a feast of Maguro (tuna) and Shime-Saba (mackerel) every day. The Japanese food we have grown accustomed to in the U.S. is of the Benihana variety complete with a fiery onion volcano and a chef flinging shrimp tails into his hat.

I do not think it is the most traditional items which grace the pages of menus in places foreign to the origin, but the best, or most widely palatable items that best represent the culture. For instance; when you think of Japanese, you think sushi or teriyaki...Indian, you think masala or curry...Thai, beef with coconut or lemongrass...Mexican, anything in a tortilla. Unfortunately the greatest representation of American food worldwide is McDonald's. I think America would be better represented by Boston Market...that's real American food.

To sum it up, today I am grateful for gratin in Japan, masala in Amsterdam, pad thai in Bath and super burritos in Los Angeles. Just think, if we were only exposed to the "everyday" food of foreign countries, would we enjoy it as much? Doubtful.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thank You Mom

"Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand."
– Baruch Spinoza

Today I am grateful for my patience. I spent too many years angry and mostly because I didn't take the time to learn the life lessons that were whizzing past. It's hard growing up but I am glad that along the way my mother taught me patience. Once I stopped to see the mistakes I was making, my life started on a healthier path. I can't say I wish I had done things differently, without the road I followed, I would not be who I am today. Thank you Mom for teaching me a skill that has made me a better person, a better wife and a better mom.

Thank You Comments

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Just Another Day

Except....my neighbor Alice went into labor this morning...how exciting! She was seven minutes apart when they left for the hospital, I hope her labor went quickly. I have been thinking good thoughts for her all day and I baked some pumpkin bars with lemon glaze to bring to the hospital when Bruce arrives. The recipe called for dates and walnuts...yuck...I substituted toffee and chocolate...they came out fantastic! The lemon glaze added a very nice tartness to the smooth spice of the pumpkin, it was a surprisingly good flavor combination. But then again...anyone who knows me knows I love lemon anything.

Today I am grateful for my Japanese style shower. It is approximately 20 sq ft and has the shower and tub in the same space. I'll include a picture later on...Jack is asleep on my arm at the moment. There is a heater and an air conditioner inside so no matter what the temp is outside you can have a perfect shower or bath. The set up allows me to take showers and baths very easily with Jack. Otherwise I would have to wait for him to take a nap...not in my arms...before I would ever get a shower. A few times he has been content sitting in his papasan chair right outside the door while I take a quick one but I try not to push my luck. Sometimes that quiet-alert state only lasts a few minutes before he needs, or shall I say, demands some attention. Tonight we got ready for bed and put on our matching jammies (courtesy of Nona Julie) and probably for the last time, Jack is almost grown out of them! According to my baby book, he gains over 1/2oz a day! That's almost a pound every two weeks. At that rate we'll need a new car seat in three months...omg, jeez. I love my house and the shower is really just icing...all the more reason to design and build my own house when we get back to the states.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quilts, Wreaths and Scrapbooking Oh My!

"Can anything be sadder than work unfinished? Yes, work never begun."
– Christina Rossetti

I like this quote, it makes me feel way less guilty about all of my unfinished projects. I have finally achieved a system where I can keep up with the housework, including the never ending laundry. Jack has great aim with number one and number two...luckily it takes quite a bit to gross me out. As he gets bigger so do the abominations in his diapers...Keith is so proud. Speaking of Dad, I got to talk to him today...twice! He got a calling card in port, it was so great to hear his voice. He is working really hard but fortunately for him that will make the time go by quickly.

As far as my unfinished projects go, they are next on my list. Now that my day to day chores are under control I can start to task myself with things I actually enjoy doing. According to Keith I brought so much "useless" craft stuff, I should be able to keep myself busy for the whole three years we are here.

Today I am grateful for my wonderful neighbors John and Alice. They are so supportive while Keith is away and the four of us have a lot in common. Alice is three days past her due date with her first son. She's the first 40 weeks+ pregnant woman I have met that is as happy as sunshine. I felt so alone when I was pregnant because all of the other soon-to-be-mom's I met were so angry and unhappy. It's nice to see someone else who is so happy to be welcoming their new addition in to the world. It's fun to watch John look at all of the baby stuff with the classic new Dad face of "what in the heck is that for?!?" It didn't take Keith more than 30 seconds after Jack was born to become a pro, it will be the same for John. Thank you John and Alice for giving me friendship at a time when it is needed most.

Monday, November 5, 2007


I came across an article that says "people who recognize what they are grateful for lead happier, healthier lives". Robert Emmons, a professor at UC Davis says: "Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress, and to achieve a positive sense of self." Time Magazine notes: "People who describe themselves as grateful...tend to have higher vitality and more optimism, suffer less stress, and experience fewer episodes of clinical depression than than the population as a whole."

Today I picked up Women's Day Magazine and it had an article about keeping a grateful journal and recording what you are grateful for each day. I think my blog is a great place to journal what I am grateful for. It would be hard not to state the obvious; I am grateful for my wonderful family, my loyal friends and most of all I am grateful for Keith and Jack who truly make my life whole. Aside from those things that I am grateful for every second of every day, today I am grateful for the Stroll'n'Sculpt class on base. It gives me a reason to get out of the house and has increased my motivation in the exercise department. The "big" hill on the walk from my house has become a piece of cake. Pretty soon I'll be able to jog up it...okay...pretty soon being January..it's good to have a goal.

I like the idea of reminding myself what I am grateful for on a daily basis instead of the American tradition of once a year on Thanksgiving. So amidst the day to day adventures of the Webber clan I will share one of the innumerable details that make my life so beautiful and charmed.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Strollin' Mama

Last week Jack and I joined the stroll'n'sculpt group at the gym on base. It is a motivated group of mommies that workout while pushing their little ones in strollers. It is challenging but exactly what the doctor ordered to get me back into shape and in turn, Jack gets a nice dose of fresh air. Today we met at the gym for a 5K run/walk to benefit Toys'for'Tots. The entry fee was an unwrapped toy so Jack brought one for a boy and I brought one for a girl. He is too young to understand "giving", and I imagine there will be a day that he will not be so forthcoming when it comes to handing over a brand new toy, but I hope he will learn by example with all of the charity work that Keith and I are involved in.

I do not feel guilty about walking the run/walk (or coming in last place)...at nine weeks postpartum, most are impressed that I have put my running shoes back on. I did my best to jog a little but my knees and ankles are still not fully recovered from being pregnant. I felt bad for the Marines that had to wait at each checkpoint until I pulled up the rear but I was proud to finish in under an hour...that was my goal. Slow and steady wins the race in my book, especially these days.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sorry Jack, You Tiger Now

Before I go into the glorious details of our super fun day...you need to know how Jack got his costume. First watch this YouTube video:


When Nona Julie and Papa T arrived they pulled a tiger costume out of their suitcase and began to laugh hysterically about a Comcast commercial where the guy on the phone says "sorry Roger, you tiger now." It was one of those "I guess you had to be there situations". All of my commercials are in Japanese so I had to be resourceful in order to see what the hoopla was all about.

So, Jack dressed up as a tiger today...so what pray tell did his mama dress up as?...A tiger catcher of course! It was the easiest last minute thing I could come up with so that we could go as a pair. I really wanted to do Olive Oil and Sweet Pea or Fiona and ogre baby...but those will be more fun next year if we can get Keith dressed up as Popeye or Shrek.

Leah and 7 month old Gavin, Jack and I got to Kawasaki a little after 1pm and the parade was scheduled to start at 2. We thought we had plenty of time to feed the boys, feed ourselves and find the parade. We got the feeding part taken care of but finding the parade was a whole other story. We walked out the east JR Kawasaki station exit first and started to worry because we were not seeing anyone else in costume. Finally I asked a policeman and he told us to go to the west JR Kawasaki exit...low and behold we started to see more people in costume. Unfortunately it was now 2:30pm and we feared that we had missed the whole parade. We walked around the plaza until 3, and then realized everyone was lining up along side the road. So the good sheep we are, we lined up with everyone else, unsure of what was coming. Fifteen minutes later we hear loud music and we can see a float headed our way! Hooray, we didn't miss it after all! Jack was sound asleep for the whole thing but I took lots of pictures of some very cool costumes. It turned out to be a great day.

Now we have 365 days to prepare for next year. Jack will be mobile by then...oh the possibilities! I love Halloween, have a happy one everybody.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Two Month Birthday Jack!

Jack did very well at his two-month checkup on Friday...three shots, one oral vaccination and he weighed in at a whopping 13 pounds! He is now 23-1/2" tall which combined with his weight puts him in the 75th percentile for boys his age. Eight weeks ago, when I felt inadequate in the milk department, no one would have been able to convince me that Jack would become such a good little eater that he would essentially double his weight in two months. To me, he looks bigger every day...I wish there was a better way to show how big he is getting.

I finally ordered a camcorder today. After exhausting research I chose a Panasonic Hard Drive model with all sorts of bells and whistles. Pretty soon I will be able to post videos on the blog...how exciting! Tomorrow is the big Halloween parade in Kawasaki about an hour train ride from Yokosuka. http://lacittadella.co.jp/halloween/ I am taking my little tiger and my friend Leah is taking her little elephant (7 month old Gavin). I expect to come home with a lot of crazy pictures of locals in costume. We caught the tail end of tropical storm Faxai today which provided wicked wind and some torrential downpours. Luckily it has let up and the forecast for tomorrow is clear.
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I hope everyone else is having a fantastic Halloween weekend! Eat, drink and be scary!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Environmental Blahg

I saw on the news that bloggers were going to unite and post an environmentally related blog on the 15th. I had all sorts of good intentions to do so but these days my good intentions are constantly interrupted by a little bean by the name of Jack. As far as the environment goes, I live in the most recycling intensive country in the world...as far as I know. I have more than five separate garbage categories, two of which require thorough washing prior to disposal. We even have a special tool for removing the plastic rings off the tops of plastic bottles left behind by the cap. My favorite day is Group Resource Collection Day, unfortunately I never know when this day is until I notice my neighbors putting their items out. I have tried to figure out the schedule to no avail. This is the day when local organizations come around to pick-up cardboard, magazines, newspapers, clothing and other items that can be recycled for money. Moving seems to create piles and piles of these items and I am thankful that I don't have to find ways to dispose of it myself. So here's my contribution...everyone recycle...for most of you all you have to do is put it all in a blue bin and someone else does the rest. If it's more complicated than that...well, wah...everyone should try to make a difference.

For some reason, yesterday and today have been especially rough. He has switched from sleeping in 2-3 hour intervals during the day and 1-2 hour intervals at night to sporadic 30 minute cat naps throughout the day and 2-3 hour intervals at night. Don;t get me wrong...I appreciate getting more sleep at night. It's that during the day he has been on a pattern of eat, diaper change, fuss inconsolably, finally doze off for a bit, only to start the whole cycle over again. For me, the "I have an answer for everything girl", this is really frustrating. Nothing seems to put him at ease for more than a few moments. Right now I have him in a wrap so that I can respond to him right away. The pacifier works until he spits it out and I think he is most comfortable when he is being held. I don't know what I would do without this wrap. It allows me to take out the garbage, eat, check email and update the blog. Going to the bathroom is a whole other story. That's where the magical mobile in his crib comes in. When he's fed and changed I can lay him down in his crib, wind up the mobile and then run to the bathroom. Luckily I can get back before the music stops...this is where the "magical" part comes in...for some reason he is mesmerized by the music and the spinning fish. As soon as it stops he turns bright red and then wails at the top of his lungs. I know this because I didn't get back in time once.

Now it's back to figuring out this whole motherhood thing, Keith is on duty tonight so I have some leftovers calling my name downstairs. I also need to squeeze in working on our Halloween costumes. I won't reveal our disguises until Halloween so you'll have to wait for the pictures.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Daddy's home

It is such a relief to have Keith back home. His two week deployment turned into three and soon he'll be off again. Thankfully we'll all be together for the holidays including Meme Laurie and Grandpa Tom. Pretty soon we'll have our first Halloween in Japan and it looks like the locals trick-or-treat just like we do. I can't wait for all the little ghouls and goblins to show up at my doorstep. Decorations were one thing I didn't bring very many of, just Christmas and Easter...you know, the important ones. Luckily all of the stores around here are chock full of festive accoutrement's to put us in the holiday spirit. Nona Julie even picked up a few to take back with her to Chicago. Sadly, tomorrow she heads back, unwillingly leaving Jack here with me. I am holding him as I type so she doesn't try to smuggle him in her luggage.

Other than the excitement of Keith being home for a little while, everything around here is day to day. Every time I pick up Jack he seems to have a new sound or smile, he's really becoming quite the character. He's putting on plenty of weight just like a good baby should. Keith commented that his chubby legs are "spilling" over his feet. I am not surprised since he eats non-stop. It isn't a problem until we are in the middle of a department store and he realizes it's been an hour since he last ate. The fit he throws would lead a stranger to believe he has not eaten in a week! He does collect quite a following of Japanese women who all comment, "sono ko wa kawaii desu" - "very cute baby". They are also amazed when I tell them he is only six weeks. He is a total flirt already and he seems so much more alert than other babies around his age. The best smiles come right after he's done eating but I am selfish with those, especially since there is some nakedness involved.

It's time for the Webber family to turn in for the night. Jack usually sleeps from 9-11, 12-2 or 3, then 3 or 4 to 5 then 5:30 to 7:30. Needless to say I am eternally tired, but I figure his willingness to be lovingly cradled in my arms 24/7 will not last forever so I will take advantage of every moment.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sumimasen, baking soda wa doko desu ka

Since Julie has been here she has been cooking up a storm. Yesterday we went to the commissary on base to get supplies and they were completely out of baking soda. How do you make peanut butter cookies without baking soda? Impossible. So today on our walk we went down the hill to the local grocery store and scanned the aisles for baking soda. My Japanese is still limited to polite conversation and my Kanji interpretation is limited to numbers and days of the week. I found a clerk and asked, "Sumimasen, baking soda wa doko desu ka", which is "Excuse me, where is the baking soda?" She escorted me one aisle over and pointed out this:

Thank goodness I asked...otherwise I would have never figured this one out. I was also excited to find out that the store carries many of the items I use and their produce is much nicer than the commissaries and reasonably priced. I want to avoid the base as much as I can since an aircraft carrier pulled in earlier this week increasing the base population by 2500 people. It took us an hour to get off of the base yesterday. Yikes! Keith may want to ride his bike to work to avoid that nonsense.

Jack had a great tummy time session today. It was short since his appetite is insatiable these days...after all he's a growing boy. He is holding his head up for 2 to 3 second at a time at has much more control. His focus is also getting better, I can tell he is seeing me clearer and he was fixated on the mobile above his changing table this morning. He doesn't let me get away for too long...it's feeding time again I can hear him calling. Nona Julie and Papa T can only console him for so long, especially when he has milk on the brain. We are going to the aquarium tomorrow, it should prove to be a great photo opportunity.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Reinforcements have arrived

Nona Julie and Papa T arrived last week and it has been an absolute blessing having them here. I do not know how women do this all on their own. Even on three to five hours of sleep each night I feel great because I am able to take decent showers and Julie has been cooking up a storm. Keith left on Monday morning and will be gone until the beginning of October. We are taking pictures of Jack every day and sending Dad updates via email.

Other than the usual...sleeping all day, staying up all night, changing diapers and constant feedings...Jack is turning into quite the little character. Every day he seems to grow a little more while becoming more aware of his surroundings. Last night we were having a little conversation and I was getting smiles and kissy faces in exchange for my faces and funny noises. I am jealous of Keith who can come up with the greatest songs on the fly to sing to Jack, I am not nearly as creative. I should record them when he's here so that I can have them to play back when Keith is away at sea.

I understand now how parents say that children grow up so quickly, Jack is only three weeks and three days and he is already so different then from when we brought him home. His next check up is not until two months when he will be getting his first batch of immunizations. I am sure that he will be tougher than Mommy will, I don't know how I will get through teething or someday those inevitable boyhood stitches.

Another good note; I met my next door neighbors today. They are American and moved-in in June so they will be here for the same amount of time that we are. Also, Alice is due with their first son in November so Jack will have a playmate who will only be two months younger. It will be great to have a neighbor that has so much in common.

So life is great and we are all doing fantastic...more pictures will be on the way soon!