Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Boxes and paper and tape..oh my!

Finally...the last box was unpacked today. Two weeks isn't bad for a nine months pregnant lady and a guy pulling a 70 hour work-week. Now the challenge lies with finding a place to put everything. Keith is convinced that we will be living among towering piles of unnecessary things things for the next three years...I keep reminding him that I have never let him down before. "A place for everything and everything in its place" daily mantra. Now, I'll admit I may have to make one or two more trips to Ikea, but what's the downside of that?

Baby update...The hospital is watching my blood pressure very closely, I go in every Tuesday and Friday for a non-stress test. It has been steady around 135/75. Each visit they do an ultrasound to check the fluid around Jack and everything looks great. Each time they have to make a comment about how he's not shy about showing that he's a boy. He also gets very irritated by the monitors so he kicks and pushes non-stop while we are hooked up. They may want to induce early depending on how big he gets in the next week or so and we'll find out on Friday just how big he really is.

My goal today is to get Jack's room functional because as of Saturday I am full term at 37 weeks and he can come at anytime. I also figured out the diaper situation...they used to have cloth diaper service but they have all gone out of business since 2005. The disposables they sell out in the local economy go into burnable garbage, so they don't have near the environmental impact they do in the states. Whew, I wont feel so bad about using them now.

The garbage thing seemed a little overwhelming but we have it all under control now, four bins in the kitchen: pink(burnable), green(non-burnable), blue(plastic packaging) and yellow(cans, bottles, and glass). Every day except Saturday, Sunday and every other Wednesday is garbage day and each day something different goes out, today was a green day. I found another blogger's post today that deciphered why the trucks have a loudspeaker shouting a message as they pick up the garbage. He said that it is saying for 500 yen (a little less than $5) they will pick up large non-recyclable items...very helpful. We also have a loudspeaker in our neighborhood that posts weather warnings in Japanese and English as well as plays a pleasant tune at 5pm telling all of the kids to get home for supper.

It will be great when life is back to normal, it feels really good to see a light at the end of the tunnel. For all of you Google Earth users our house can be found at:
Latitude: 35°15'7.01"N
Longitude: 139°42'11.81"E
If you create a place mark and plug in those coordinates it should put a pin right on our house. If you scroll just north you can see how close we are to the water. I would post pics of the house but I would be mortified if anyone saw the condition it is in right now...soon I promise.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Quick Update...

Slowly but surly we are getting all settled in. We set up Jack's room on Sunday, but only so that we could use it as storage while we get situated in the other rooms. Keith is flabbergasted at the amount of stuff this kid has and he is not even here yet. I am hitting a language barrier when it comes to finding a local diaper service, hopefully the interpreters on base will be able to help me out. I am using the computers at the local library on base for now, but we should have Internet set up by next week. August 13 to 16 is the Bon Festival, an important Japanese tradition to honor ancestors. Most Japanese people take summer vacation during this time including our property manager who is the liaison to set up the last of our utilities.

We hope everyone is having enjoyable summer weather unlike here where it is hot and humid. I categorize it as stupid hot and I hate to say that I am getting adjusted but it doesn't seem to be as overwhelming as it was when we first got here. Having fantastic air conditioning in our house and car definitely helps.

Four weeks and five days...but we won't mind if Jack comes a week early, Mommy is ready to be normal again and we want Daddy to have some time before he's off for deployment.

Monday, August 6, 2007

You will visit just to use our toilets...

Here's our new house...the move-in has officially begun. We received our keys this morning after signing a heaping load of paperwork. Keith felt more like he was buying a house versus renting one. There are so many regulations here from color coded garbage separation to a memo promising shoes would never be worn inside the house. It's a good thing that we are already hardcore recyclers, we will just have to get used to what gets picked up on what day and as far as the shoe thing goes, there is a kick ass shoe closet in the entry me that means much more closet space. This evening we moved our luggage and Winnie over to the new house and all I can say is "thank God" this is our last night in a hotel. Tomorrow night will be the first night in our super comfy bed since May 24th.

Jack and I have a check-up tomorrow at the hospital and we will check in every two weeks from now on. Everything is going well, the heat aggravates the swelling pretty badly, and being tired all the time is really starting to take a toll, but other than that I am a very round and happy pregnant lady.

We hope the new utilities get expedited quickly but we may not have Internet access at home for a couple of days. I will follow this up tonight with an email of our new mailing address and cell phone numbers.

As for the toilet comment, let me just say: heated seat, boy bidet, girl bidet (both with temperature control), automatic closing seat and a hand washer on the top of the tank for when you are finished. I wasn't as in awe as Keith was upon initial inspection, but after trying it...I never want to use a regular toilet again. Japan rocks!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Webber Pace vs. The Rest of the World's

(I took this picture in Kamakura, Japan when I was here in 2004. It was at a shrine where the smoke from the burning of cedar branches created a beautiful effect with the sunlight.)

If only the world could keep up with us. We did everything we could to prepare for the move so we could expedite the "settling in" process as quick as possible. We knew that move-in costs would be exorbitant and that we would need as much cash on hand as possible. The day after we arrived, Friday, we completed the mandatory housing brief where they mentioned the bank needed 3 days to process a large dollar to yen conversion. Later that day we went to the Community Bank, opened an account with a very large check and let them know we would be exchanging it for Yen on the following Friday. On Tuesday we selected the house we wanted, then figured out exactly how much we would need to move in. Wednesday we were in indoc class all day so afterwards we set up our contract date for the 6th and a move-in date for the 7th. Then we scheduled appliance delivery, household goods delivery and utilities then we called the bank to see if we could get the contract money on Thursday, they said no problem. Thursday...indoc class ended at 9:30am so we headed over to the bank to make our withdrawal. This is when we found out that my first attempt to liquidate funds was going to take up to ten days to process...who knew? we needed a quicker game plan.

At this point we had everything scheduled so Keith's stress level went through the roof and was convinced that the move-in was going to be delayed. We called USAA, our main bank, and wire transferred the money to the new account. No big deal, we just didn't want to use our cash on hand when 50% of the moving expenses will be reimbursed by the Navy in two weeks. No worries, it will all work out in the end. Today, Friday, we went back to Community Bank to make the withdrawal and exchange a crazy amount of dollars into Yen. Of course the Yen rate has dropped from 119 Yen to 115 turn this means a week ago our Yen was worth $283 more...yikes! We forgot just how important timing is with exchange rates, especially when it comes to large sums of money.

Keith did his best to not focus on the difference while I reminded him of England where the fluctuation will be back in our favor at some point and long as the Japanese economy doesn't go into the toilet (which seems impossible)...we'll break even. My response to stressful situations these days is, "marshmallow feet, back-ache, frequent bathroom breaks and braxton-hicks are enough for me to stress about, I am simply running out of room".

Jack is still kicking up a storm and I can tell he's starting to get a little more cramped. His kicks have become more rolls and stretches where it feels like he's trying to make more room. After a busy and stressful week we are looking forward to sleeping in this weekend and venturing out into town for cell phones. Next week is going to be a whirlwind but after this week I think we are prepared for anything.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Yoshii, here we come!

This is Keith's ship, the USS Lassen, DDG 82.

We are the proud new renters of 4-13-1 #B Yoshii,, figuring out how that address means anything is the next step. I think the 4 is our zone in Yoshii, 13-1 is the house and Yokosuka is the nearest city. It is not the one pictured is 1000 times better. We are so glad we went with the second agent to look at what else was available. The one we have chosen is 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 2 toilets, great kitchen with an American oven and fridge and more closets than we know what to do with. They are pet friendly so we may even think about a dog somewhere down the road. Right now it's a "we'll see" until we get settled and get through a few deployments. We sign the contract on Monday and move in on Tuesday...we are VERY excited. We will have been in a hotel for 74 days by next Tuesday...way tooooo long. Poor Winnie has been banned from windows but soon enough she'll have more than she can handle.

We will get licensed to drive in Japan on Friday so we are doing everything we can to buy a car by this weekend. Unfortunately it is Friendship Day here on Saturday and the base will be open to the public. Needless to say, this place will be a little chaotic. In the worst case scenario we can rent a car to move our bags from the hotel because our new house is a few minutes from the bus and 15 minutes from the train station. We have grown so accustomed to walking over the last week that it wouldn't be bad except for Jack feels heavier every day so I am not sure how much harder walking is going to get.

Tomorrow we are going to get a cell phone on our "Intercultural Relations Field-Trip". They want us to take a journey on a train to get accustomed...Keith and I looked at each other and said, "been there, done that". We will have plenty of time over the next three years to sight see, getting settled in is way more of a priority. Once we have a number we'll send out an email with our new address and phone number.

Hugs and Kisses - Jenn