Friday, March 14, 2008

What's Left In This World If We Can't Embarass Our Children?

Tonight we went upstairs to the restaurant on the top floor for a going away party for our neighbors (with young Aubrey with the gorgeous eyes) who PCS tomorrow back to the states. Tons of kids there - mostly 2-3 years old - and Mia, the big kid. It's the end of the night, and she comes up to me dancing -

"I have to go pee!"
Ok.. I walk her over and point out the ladies room.

I come back into the room full of parents (probably 5 sets of parents) with little ones who barely ever even make it to the potty on time and proudly announce, "THAT is the bonus of a six-year-old! THERE'S the bathroom - be sure to wash your hands, and I'll see you when you come back - SO nice!"

All of a sudden they're all pointing out the window (the bathroom is separate from the restaurant, and you can see the doors from where we were). She didn't shut the door and was sittin' on the pot in front of God and everyone taking a piss. Yep - that's the beauty of a 6-year-old with NO shame and NO ability to close the friggin' DOOR! Too bad it was night time and I would've gotten a reflection from the flash if I'd tried to take a picture of it - by the time I ran outside, she was done. So this is the shot I DID get.

Random Photo Happiness

Hi again! It's been a while since I posted a photo that wasn't taken in our living room, so here we go. Last week I went to Cafe Unizon with LWILIO - pronounced 'luh-WIL-lee-oh' - Ladies Who Lunch In Okinawa - a small group of adventurous eaters who are currently scouring the island for new and delicious lunch opportunities). Yes, I'm a 100% dork and coined that term myself. What of it?

Below Cafe Unizon is a home store called Mix Life-Style. They have fun European-style housewares and furniture - and mind you, it is NOT cheap. However, nobody's holding a gun to your head to buy anything, and browsing is FUN. Check out this fantastic idea:

The menu is felt with iron-on transfer pictures of the food. And see the embroidery of the categories on the right? There's coffee drinks, food, and sweets. I loved this idea!
(More Unizon & Mix shots on my flickr page.)

This month is "Read Across America" month. Last week on Friday there was a literature character parade. Basically, all the kids at Mia's school dressed up like their favorite literary character (or just put on their Halloween costume again and found some book with that character in it - let's just say there were LOTS of superheroes and princesses...). Well, I didn't really want to do that - I took this seriously, and as Mia is now reading, I wanted her to be a real character in a real book she actually liked.

I didn't realize this was going to be happening until the morning before the parade, so I was a little stumped. Finally, I thought about it the other way around - what are her favorite books? GOT IT! The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. She loves that book. I can pick up a green shirt. She can wear brown pants for the trunk. And I happen to have a headdress I made for my Halloween costume when I went to Vegoose back in 2005 (I went with 3 friends, we were the seasons, and I was springtime, of course - Aviva means springtime in Hebrew, FYI). Thank you pack rat instincts. When I told Mia about my (I thought) great idea, she winced. "I wanna be a CAT or a PRINCESS..."
"Well, everyone's going to be that stuff, you really LOVE this book, Mia. And look at the pretty hat - this blue bird here, they even exist here on Okinawa! Cool..." (Ryan, I knew you'd be proud of her thrush.) She hesitantly gave in as I gushed about how beautiful she'd look.

So the night before, I drew some apples that Mia colored in and we put those and the "branch hat" into a bag. I arrived at school early to help assemble the outfit. I even got a green eyeliner and drew leaves on her arms. (she did NOT want anything on her face - please let it stay that way!) Everyone in kindergarten is familiar with this book, and the teachers gushed about her (my) costume and idea. She was very proud, as was I, and she looked great!
After school we got rid of the paper apples, and as I was talking to my friend Ilisa I caught this shot of Ellie & Mia. The two "Nice Jewish Girls" at Bob Hope! (at least that I know of) Ellie's a doll - I'm so happy they're friends.

Ok, last topic - OIWC Luncheon in Naha. Okinawa International Women's Club (I teased this in a prior post) holds monthly meetings, every other one is on base, and the others are out in town. This was still during lockdown, so I had to get a permission slip signed by Craig's commander before I could go.

The luncheon was at the Naha Terrace Hotel, there were lots of women there, I was impressed. The food was delicious (as large group food goes) and the company was fantastic. So many sweet & wonderful women, willing to gesture and describe to conquer the language barrier. I met a lovely woman, Tomo, who literally offered to come with us to Kyoto and show us around! And she also finally taught me how to say, "May I take your picture?" in Japanese! (Shashim o to temo desu ka?)

Here is what the centerpieces looked like:
And this during this month, there's a holiday called "Girl Day". There were dolls on display which are apparently REALLY expensive, and over time it became popular belief that the dolls protected the daughters of the family. Girl Day, or Hina Matsuri, is a festival held throughout Japan to pray for daughters' happiness. Here are some of the dolls on display on stage at the luncheon:

There were even some sakura branches there - yes, they're still in bloom!
Lastly there were dances, one in honor of the sakura:
One woman who danced with a fan:

And another that was a warrior with a spear:

Well, that's it for now. We're off to dinner with some friends who are PCSing tomorrow... we'll miss them.

On The Way Home From Soccer

(Mia whining in the back seat, lots of "ow ow ow".)

Craig asks, "Mia, what's going on?"
"I tripped on the field."
"Well, that happens a lot, you're gonna trip on the field."
"It hurts."
"Well, it's ok, it's good to trip now and then, ya get right back up."

(DRIPPING with sarcasm - I don't know that you can imagine enough of it as you read this.) "Oh, so it's GOOD that I fall. Your HAPPY that I trip and fall. That's a GOOD thing, huh? That I get hurt, that's GREAT."

Craig and I stifled hysterical laughter - but I think I let out a snort.

I think the sarcasm we use has rubbed off. And I think the sense of humor of our 6-year-old has surpassed a whole lot of our friends'.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

She's Reading

After a lot of frustration and general malaise, Mia has begun to read. Much in the same way she's done everything - all at once. One day she was whining that she didn't WANT to try and squirming and complaining (not that she still doesn't do that when the reading isn't HER choice, it's ours...) and the next she's reading a book to her father. A first grade level book. And staying true to Craig Bowman's bribery ways, he promised her an iPod when she read him a book of his choosing (this way we knew she wouldn't memorize it).

Last week, it happened. Oh boy howdy did it happen. That kid tore through a book like a champ. The reward was hot pink - and immediately synced up with:

Music: The soundtrack of the movie Once, Amy Winehouse, Peter and the Wolf, the Nutcracker, the Fratellis, a couple of Beatles albums, and some kid music.

Videos: A couple of videos made with her dad on our iMac before he deployed, a Jetsons episode (seen in the pictures below - you'd think we never let her watch cartoons on our 55" tv!), a Flintstones episode, and a couple of other music videos to include Feist's "1,2,3,4".

Also a couple of audio books and photos.

She's one lucky kid... and she loves her new iPod.

More local news (as in, not pictures taken on our living room couch) in the very near future.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Some Business

First of all, if it interests you, take the time to read this interesting and important article. It regards the rights of the military and their families to free speech as related to the recent happenings in Okinawa.

Also - military/DoD families, I implore you; the new Living Pattern/COLA survey is now online for us to take. It only comes around once every 3 years. Due to the fact that the current COLA pay is still the same amount (adjusted for yen rate) that it was 3 years ago, and that the survey results were not very good at all, we feel it's of the utmost importance that we have our empty-pocketed selves heard!

We're going to sit down with receipts in hand and fill this out in a detailed and honest fashion. I highly suggest you do the same. Please. The link for the survey is - it should only take about 30 minutes, and can be filled out one time by each family. More info from our email regarding the survey:
Before beginning the survey each participant will need to create a six character Ticket Number and be able to identify the locality code for Okinawa as JA027. The Ticket Number will be created by using the first and last name initials along with the last four digits of their Social Security Number.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The $8.75 Tire

I'm neglecting the blog again, I realize. But I'm now DONE with the yearbook, so I'm back in the comforting arms of my own personal photography & writing. I promise to be better. Really.

That being said - quick story, and then I have to get back to editing the pictures I've taken since we've been free of lockdown so I can post them here & on flickr.

I had a flat tire a while back and Craig got a patch kit and fixed it. The thing actually lasted for quite a while on the patch, and yesterday I took it in because it was flat again. I took it on base to the auto shop and said, "I have a flat tire, and I need a new one." NOT, "I want to get it fixed," or, "Could you look at my tire?"

"I need a new one."

I proceeded to tell them it was the back passenger tire instead of the back driver's side tire (dang you for putting that wheel on the OTHER side...) but obviously they only needed to look and then laugh and probably make fun of me in Japanese.

About 30 minutes later he said, "It's done, ma'am," and I jumped to pay.

"That's eight seventy-five."

I figured I hadn't heard the "forty" or "eighty" or whatever in FRONT of the "eight". But no - after I slid the card through the machine, he handed me the receipt to sign and it said $8.75. Dude! I walked out and looked at the tire - shiny and nice, unlike the others. I just got a tire for under nine bucks! DANG!

So I called Craig from the parking lot to tell him it was done.
"What's the damage?"
"Are you ready for this?"
"Oh God what...."
"I know, right?"
"Did they give you a new tire? Or patch the old one?"
"It's new... I looked."
"Dang, I thought you'd say it was like $200 or something..."

This morning Craig called me from the car on his way to work. He looked on his way to the car, and it's my old tire, patched. Cleaned up - but not a new tire.

I thought I'd blogged this, but last summer after food shopping with Mia at the commissary we came outside to a dead Nissan Cube. Wouldn't start. I tried for a long time, even found someone in the lot with jumper cables after trying to buy a set at the PX and not FINDING them. I swear on my life I put that thing in park. I even jiggled the gear shift to make sure. Mia, our groceries, and I took a cab home. That night, we came back on base in Craig's car and he swiftly put it in park and started the car up fine. Of course. What can I say - I'd been driving a stick for a long time before coming here and returning to an automatic transmission!

I hate it when he's all "me and my testosterone will take care of all things automobile related... how did you survive without me when I was deployed?" Well, honey - though you can detect a car that isn't in park, and a patched tire - you can't make a ponytail or a grilled cheese sandwich, so NANNY NANNY FOO FOO!