Saturday, September 26, 2009

What goes on?

How strange it is to be in a place that is not your own all the time. At least there's furniture, cable, and a working kitchen. I cannot wait for Wednesday when we finally get the keys to our own house.

Ryan's work has been all weird since everything is being moved around and the squadron is expanding. Basically he was told to go home and stay home to get everything settled. It's not leave counted against him but they don't want him at work. And he did get the final information that he will be the exec for the commander. In some ways it's nice to have Ryan home but at the same time it's like, 'do you ever leave?' LOL. He's been great though getting things together and trying to complete certain tasks that would be difficult if I had to do it alone with Will.

Will has been our little entertainer. A few days ago he was on the bed and then reached over to the bedside table to turn the radio on and began to fall. His cheekbone below his eye caught his fall on the corner of the table. I was standing not 3 feet from him when it happened. Poor kid now has a nice shiner. I say he sort of looks like a boxer since he doesn't have all his teeth.

Sometimes it is amazing how smart this kid is. It makes things difficult when he also has a good sense of direction. You can take him to a strange place, he'll find something he likes that you don't want him to have so you remove him to another area completely and attempt to distract him. Yeah, that doesn't work because as soon as you let him go he runs back to the place you just took him away from. He also knows where we usually put our cell phones so we have to hide them or else he has a melt down when he can't get them.

There's still no words. Will kind of says 'mama' and approximates 'thank you' but that's it. He babbles away as if he's having a whole conversation though. Has all the pitches, emphasizes certain syllables, and will look at you as he does it but there's no actual words.

I'm enjoying our shopping in the states. We have our car and we drove out to the city just outside Albuquerque to hit the big mall. It was awesome! There's even a movie theatre in it. Still no luck on finding bedroom furniture though.

Speaking of the car, I'm annoyed. When we bought it I knew what it was and Ryan did too. Now that we have it he's not happy and complains that it's too loud and even though he knew it was manual windows and locks he just complains more about its inconvenience. The road noise really isn't that bad and the car drives great. I think he needs to get used to it. He is now saying that once we pay off this loan he's going shopping for a different car. Oh, and when we were in Japan I told him that a decent car that we would be interested in buying would be around $10,000. He didn't believe me and made me feel horrible with some of his lectures. Now that we're here he has apologized and said that I was right. Justified? Maybe.

On another front we might be returning to Washington a bit earlier than Christmas because Ryan heard that his dad was not doing well. It is difficult right now to just go fly up there with the moving coming up and deliveries arriving, but if things get worse I told Ryan I'm forcing him to go home. I think it is important. Send out prayers for that please.

I have also recently received some not so good news about my dad. I'm praying things will turn out alright but I am really looking forward to going home. I cannot say how thankful I am to be so close to home compared to Japan.

A different subject now: the dryness. Ug. It suddenly turned cold this week so I turned off the a/c (which is like a swamp cooler) and turned the heater on. Well, it's dry. So dry that Ryan has been waking up not feeling well and I can feel in my sinuses and hair the lack of moisture. We just need to keep drinking water and I look forward to our humidifiers showing up but I think they're in our second shipment so they might not arrive until November. We might just have to purchase new ones.

OH! I remember what else I wanted to write about: Halloween. We've been looking for costumes for Will. Right now we might go get him an Eeyore costume. Ryan wants to do that since it's all cute and this might be the last year we can put Will in something like that without an argument from him. While looking I also found an adult Batman costume that Ryan could wear and then we could make Will Robin. Sounds fun and it's still an option. For me I'm not really sure. The Batgirl costume looks too trampy or else I'd go that route. We'll keep hunting to see what we find.

And I realize I'm completely behind on photos. We should be getting our main computer with our first shipment (which is now in New Mexico!!) and then I'll be able to work my magic. I'm really anal about how I have all my pics arranged and the Mac sort of messes it up or at least makes it difficult so I want our PC before I do all my hard work.

That's all for now.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Taking care of business

Okay, I'm hoping that as time goes on I'll be more reliable in my postings... this has just been a crazy week.

We did our house hunting. Albuquerque really doesn't have great houses for the price range we were going for, but once we went out of the city it was amazing! There were 2 houses we looked at very closely and nearly chose to make an offer on one, but after all the number crunching with Ryan going for his Masters at UNM, student loans, commuting, and everything that is going on we decided to stay on base. Papers were signed Friday to live on base. We move in on the 30th. YAY!

It has been an exhausting week. I never knew looking at houses could wear you out. LOL.

Anyway, we were in need of a washer/dryer as well as some furniture. While in Japan we sold a number of our things for the space and planned to buy new (not planning on having a baby while overseas). So we went to Sears and found a great deal on an awesome new washer/dryer and new mattress and boxspring. Whoot! We have also picked out a dining room table with chairs from Ashley Furniture that we'll be purchasing soon. On top of that we have the living room set from LaRetta's win on Price is Right arriving probably around Columbus Day -- thanks to my parents driving down with our van (thanks to Ryan's mom). Next we look for a bedroom set.

We have also located a vehicle for Ryan. We found a little, green 2002 Ford Focus. It's a good little commuter car but it does have a lot of miles on it and manual windows/locks. Hey, it was a good price and all the work has already been done on it. We're happy. Hopefully bank financing will arrive on Tuesday and we get the car down to the DMV and then put it in our names.

This Sunday we tried out our first local church. We probably will not be going back... it is one of the largest Assembly of God Churches in New Mexico. And it really turned me off when a greeter said, "nice to see you again" when I've never met the person. Also, it is called Family First yet before the sermon an usher told us that since this was our first week it was okay, but children under 4 are not really allowed in the service. WHAT?! That didn't sit right with me. I mean, the music was great and the sermon was good, but the overall atmosphere isn't what we're looking for. We try another church next week. I hate church hunting... I like to be settled.

That's really all for now. We have a few things coming up to take care of but hopefully it'll be quick and easy. Heard there were some parent/child play groups or something like that on base. I hope to get some additional information and start going to some of them because Will needs some friends and I need some connections. I did meet the commander's wife, Rita, and learned that the spouses here are not the socializing type and don't get together. Guess I can't count on the squadron to make friends... gatta do it the old fashioned way. That's alright.

Pretty soon we'll start getting in the search for a puppy. Wish us luck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Life in New Mexico

Well, we're here... in New Mexico.

It has been an experience so far but I admit that I have a bit of culture shock coming from Japan to the Southwest. I didn't think I'd have an issue like that coming back to the states, but, you know, this area is nothing like the Pacific Northwest.

With all the miscommunications with Ryan's sponsors, there was nobody around to pick us up at the airport. That wasn't too great. So we got a van to bring us to the TLF on base. It was a nice ride and the area is beautiful. There are 2 "mountain" ranges that border part of the base and the way the light hits off of them is just gorgeous. Apparently we're around 5,000 feet above sea level so we're having a bit of acclimating to do.

Anyway, the TLF is very nice. We're in a 2-bedroom house with living room, dining room, bathroom, kitchen with a dish washer and washer and dryer. There's also a car port. It is easy enough to live in for the time being. Cable and wireless internet are also a plus.

Ryan checked in with his work and turns out that there's a lot of changes going on right now. Most people are gone -- which explains the sponsor issues. So the deputy commander stepped in to be our sponsor. He seems nice enough and kind of looks like Matthew Broderick. LOL.

We now have cell phones! Whoo! Ryan got his iPhone and I got this other little phone that I liked (I didn't want the iPhone) and it's blue. We don't plan on getting a landline so these are our main forms of communication.

Still in the market for a car. It sucks not having one... never had to deal with this before. We're probably going to get a rental today to get us through the next few days until we can purchase a vehicle. The BX and Commissary are over a mile away from where we're staying so it is fairly unpleasant trudging around with a gallon or 2 of milk, not to mention all the other food. Also, this Sunday we need to try out a church and there's absolutely NO WAY we're walking off base - too dangerous. We call the bank today about financing and then we can make some calls to a few cars we have our eyes on.

Yesterday we checked out and got enrolled in the hospital here. I personally think the military hospital here is a waste. It is basically a huge referral service, but you can't go anywhere else until they tell you to. The hospital actually doesn't provide medical services to dependants and very little medical service to military members. Ug, I'm already not thrilled. Both Will and I are supposed to get appointments but they couldn't help us yesterday and we don't have a vehicle to drive to the hospital today (which is off base) to try again.

Housing seems to be working out. The base housing has all been privatized and where they want to put us is actually very nice. They're single-family homes and were built in 2004-2005 so only one or two families would have been there before us. We're allocated a 3-bedroom, which are nice, with a 2-car garage, lots of storage space, kitchen, dining/family room, living room, 2 full baths and master bedroom walk-in closets and a small fenced in yard. We have tentatively accepted an on-base house which we could move into in 2 weeks but we're going to do some house-hunting off-base next week to see what's out there.

After going over our finances, seeing the area, and talking with locals we will probably decide to live on base. We're only going to be here for 3 or 4 years and with the prices of a home plus payments and then what we get for BAH we're really not going to be making any profit. On top of that Ryan will be commuting about an hour round-trip which stacks up the gas cost. Then when it's time to move we have to sell the house and it could take awhile for it to be sold or we could rent it, but that's more issues. The main factor for me is that it could take anywhere from a month to 3 months before we can actually move in. We only get 30 days in TLF. I really just want to get in our house, settle, and begin life for real.

Another factor of living off base is the crime. We're not hearing good things about the safety of the Albuquerque and surrounding areas. Coming from super-safe Japan we're a bit paranoid, I know. In just a few days we're hearing a lot about how bad the gang violence is downtown and then as you move out of the city it's the theft that becomes a major problem. I kind of like the safety and security of the base. Ryan likes the convenience.

Today Ryan had his meeting with the Commander. It seems like with all Ryan's experience with what he did in Yokota they might make him the exec for a year. They have some inspections and re-organizing they're doing, which he's gone through before. But the commander is also weighing the fact that he has a physicist that, after 4 years, has actually never been in his field. Being at this base and the unit he is in is a huge benefit for him with his degree so I hope that even if he is exec for a year he gets at least 2 or 3 more to actually be a physicist.

Will and I are biding our time. We're still pretty jet lagged and having the ability to sleep in the dark far into the morning doesn't help. I love the fact that sun isn't up at 4 a.m. LOL. Will loves the fact that he can just run around and we'll go on walks. Today we're going to try to take him to a park.

I am already bored. There's not much for me to do and I haven't met anybody. I've had a conversation with Ryan's sponsor, that's it. Today Ryan came back with the e-mail address for the commander's wife so I hope to get communication going there and find some activities to get involved in. Finding a church will be a help. And I'm keeping my eyes out for a mommy-baby play group or something to do with Will. He needs to be around more kids his age.

New Mexico is really beautiful. It's so sunny! I've heard they have some of the best beaches in the world they're only missing the water. LOL. It's fun to see the prairie dogs running around and I'm on the lookout for the roadrunners. There are a number of dangerous spiders (black widow & wolf spider) as well as snakes, coyotes, and cougars but I'm not too concerned since they mostly stay away from people. Besides, I remember San Diego and you leave those creatures alone they leave you alone.

And I just have to add this. Last night I saw The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift for the first time. It was a lame movie but it kind of made me miss Japan. They have a scene in an onsen and then I could see all the drink vending machines and just the busy city life there. Man, as much as I love being in the USA it will take awhile to stop thinking of Japan as home.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Hawaii Vacation

Beginning this new part of our lives together, it was time to begin a new blog that more people can read.

Right now we're vacationing in Hawaii but are about to leave to head to New Mexico. We nearly didn't make it at all because we showed up for out 7:30 flight at 6:50. Wow. Misread on our itinerary. Thankfully Narita does things well and we were through security and check-ins in time to get straight on the flight and buckle Will in his carseat.

The flight wasn't bad, long and cramped, but overall it didn't suck too much.

Our first few nights were at Bellows AFS, which was great. The water was beautiful! Oh, I wish I could just bring this weather along with me everywhere I go. Even Will enjoys the ocean.

Ryan's mom and brother stayed with us while my parents stayed at their own place in Waikiki. We did some things besides swimming; Arizona Memorial, NEX, International Market, Polynesian Cultural Center... all were fun.

Our second half we've been staying at the Navy Lodge in Pearl Harbor (on Ford Island). We're not on the beach, but the room is nice. We're very close to many memorials and this is where parts of the movie "Pearl Harbor" were filmed.

So far we've actually seen the USS Utah Memorial (still submerged), the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, gone to the Punchbowl, and snorkeled in Hanauma Bay. Today we plan to go to the Aviation Museum.

We check out today and have to be at the airport this evening. Vacation has been fun but now it's time for real life to begin.

I doubt anybody will be meeting us at Albuquerque (issues with sponsors and all) so I'll let ya'll know how things go.