Monday, January 26, 2009

Kendal's Birthday

Kendal Elyzabeth is 2!! Our very good friends Aly and Shane just gave birth do a baby girl, Audrey, about two weeks ago (not posting the date, :D). Still, this week their first born, Kendal, turned two and they threw her a birthday bash this past weekend. (They are AMAZING!) We went to celebrate with them, because we love love love Kendal and family. Always a little awkward to be pretty much the only ones without little tykes running around, I love to take pictures. The lighting wasn't great and my camera doesn't like to be indoors but I got a few usable shots :D. Kendal had a blast, she ran around and around her house with lots of friends, jumped on her bed, ate cake, and played in the wrapping paper and gift bags, smiling a wide-toothed grin the entire time. I just love little children!! They are amazing to me... and I can't wait to experience the joy of having some of my own!

Market Day

This past Saturday was a cold and windy one, no good for exploration. I helped my friend Brook with her Vinyl business ( at market day. The night before we spent hours peeling vinyl, and then she had to go home to paint boards and apply the vinyl to all of her products before the morning of Market Day. To my surprise, it was an extreemly slow day, there weren't many vendors and hardly any customers, but Brook still walked away with profit. (yaay) It was a long day, but it's always fun to spend the day with a friend.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 17 - Pineapple Factory & Nakijin Castle

This weekend was a bright and sunny weekend. A little bit chilly but all in all fantastic weather for exploring. We headed north again on 58, a long drive since we've already explored a lot up there. Our first stop was the Pineapple Factory. We had never been and had heard mixed reviews, but it was only 400 yen per adult, so we decided to give it a shot. There wasn't too much going on in the Pineapple factory, but it was still cool. First thing, you buy your ticket and get on this golf cart thing, but it's got a pineapple on top! It's yellow, of course and it drives itself! We didn't get any pictures of it because they take one for you that you have to buy (For 1200 yen?? YAH RIGHT) and won't take one for you with your personal camera. But it was cool. It wasn't on a track or anything, it just... drove itself! CRAAZY! We got to see how pineapples grow, it was interesting... and then you drive into this little tropical garden type room that's full of flowers and plants. Nothing we hadn't seen before but it was still beautiful. There was a waterfall (which you can see in the 4th photo on the left ) and a little pond with a huge pineapple dude in it taking pictures of passing carts. Then you get to walk through their store, where everything is made of pineapple! You get a little tiny glass so that you can taste everything they have. They have pineapple wine (it wasn't good.) and pineapple juice (SO GOOD, the best kind I've ever tasted. We bought a bottle of it. YUM). They have pineapple cakes and cookies, pineapple chocolate (YUM) pineapple jello-looking stuff, pineapple gummies, pineapple candy, pineapple pie, you name it, they have it in pineapple. They were also selling pickle juice, and me being curious tasted it and i nearly threw up. I had to get some more pineapple juice to get rid of the taste in my mouth.
Then we drove again. We looked all over to find a Japanese Historical Landmark or something like that but the signs were obviously misleading because we drove for like 30 minutes trying to find it. So we decided to move on. We ended up near the Ocean Expo Park and found Naki-jin Castle Ruins. It was cool, again another 400 yen per adult. We stopped in front for lunch, Danny had some pork soba and I had pork Chow Mein. The only kind of meat they had there was... you guessed it... pork. It made me wonder if there was something significant about pork to that specific castle but I really have no idea and could have totally pulled that out of nothing. My food tasted like ginger, so I didn't eat much of it (not a big fan of ginger unless it's used in gingersnaps or teriyaki sauce).
We headed up to the castle. There were a million stairs, or so it seemed, but lots of cherry blossoms along the way making the sight prettier than it would be at any other time of year. Unfortunately it's only the beginning of sakura season, so there weren't a whole lot of blossoms... but the ones that were there were little pink masterpieces. On we headed, there were quite a few people running around, so we weren't able to set up our tripod just anywhere we wanted to because people like to walk in front of it. I got tired and a little dizzy, so we sat on a little hill looking at the castle walls and beyond those, the ocean. It was a beautiful day. Unfortunately it was getting close to 5pm so the sun was already beginning to go down. If we had stayed longer we probably would have gotten to see the sunset over the ocean, but I was hungry and ready to head home. Plus there were some annoying high school girls playing on the hill ahead of us making crazy noises and laughing like they were high. They started taking pictures of themselves jumping off of the castle walls and so we decided to leave.

On the drive home we saw the sunset. The skies and sunsets are two things I will miss most about Okinawa. They are so clear and so beautiful. We didn't make it to the beach we wanted to sit on in time to watch the sunset due to traffic, so we watched it from the car.. but at least we were together. The sky is so vividly orange and the water so blue... it's an amazing contrast I wish I could have caught better on camera. All in all we had a wonderful day, and ended it by eating at a Hawaiian restaurant called Ono Kau Kau near base. One day I'll get pictures of that, too.

I think after finally having some time to spend with my husband and actually going out to see the island, I may be starting to like it here a little more. It isn't enough for me to want to stay here, because I'm still so far away from family, but it will make my time left here more enjoyable and a little easier to bear. I just wish my sisters and my mom and dad could see this too. I'm so glad that the Sanojas made it out last year to see some of the island with us.. and hope with all my heart that more of them visit us in our last year here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Military Medical

So frustrated.

Back in November I went to the doctor for pain. Female pain. Six weeks later, they finally got me in for an Ultrasound. By then my pain had subsided and I didn't know why they wanted me to get a U. Well they didn't find anything (big surprise). Monday night I went to the ER for pain in my right side. It started out as a stomach ache, right around lunch time. I was at work, so I couldn't do much about it. By the time I released my class at 3pm, I had unbuttoned my pants and pulled my shirt over the top of my pants and put on my buttoned up trench coat so that my pants didn't feel tight on me. (Sounds bad, and probably could have gotten me fired since I work at a school.... but I had to, I was in pain!)
I went home and lay down on the couch. Danny emailed and told me to go to the doctor's office before they closed and I said no, they won't do anything.
He came home around 5:30 and told me I should go to the ER. I was resistant, but he had appendicitis 4 years ago and told me that the way I described my pain sounded like what he experienced. . . so we went to the ER. Immediately, this is what the ER doctor thought I had. Dr. Shepard ran tests, got me into ultra sound, got me a CT scan, and finally, gave me morphine. The best drug in the world, by the way. Around 11:30 they had a shift change and I was left with a Dr. Gray. She was pretty much absent the whole time and I didn't meet her until I was discharged at 2:30 in the morning. I saw a lot of the nurses though and made good conversation with them every time I got another dose of morphine. They kept me posted on what they knew was going on, even though they're not supposed to report information to me I asked anyway and they would tell me what they knew.

Finally at 2:30 I get my results, full scale. I have a cyst growing on my ovary. Its 7cm (almost 3 inches) and hasn't ruptured ... yet. Here's what they tell me about large cysts:
They are painful (DUH)
They can burst and cause more pain and damage to the ovary.
They can twist the ovary, cutting off the blood supply.
The ovary can die.

Why tell me this when I'm high, tired and can't think clearly? UGH. I couldn't ask any questions because I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that I have a 7 cm cyst on my ovary.

If the ovary gets flipped or twisted, I have 6 hours before the ovary dies to have surgery to correct this and to remove the cyst.

She said, "At this point... we're not going to remove the cyst."


"But here's some vicodin for the pain. You shouldn't drive or go to work when you are taking vicodin."

So I didn't take vicodin and I was at work at 8am the same morning. I didn't want this stupid cyst to ruin my life. It was a bad idea to go to work though and I ended up leaving at 1:15, being replaced by another substitute teacher. My bad. Sorry Jennifer...

Today I woke up feeling ok, but after sitting on the couch for a little while watching some stupid tv shows I started to get that throbbing pain again. So I took vicodin this time. Pain hasn't gone away yet but I only took it about 10 minutes ago.

I'm just really upset that they aren't going to remove my cyst. What is wrong with them? I may not be able to have children if this cyst messes up my ovary. I know I have another one but... chances are if I get cysts on one ovary they come up on the other one too. *sigh* I've got to admit.. I'm scared.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Alexis

Meet Alexis. She is the daughter of my good friend Lindsey, and she turns 1 tomorrow. Yesterday Danny and I went to her very first birthday party at Mona Kids Jungle. It was kind of like a chuck-e-cheese, except way cleaner and was much more of a jungle gym/obsticle course set up than an arcade. It was fun watching all the kids play around and of course being able to practice my photography.. especially since I didn't have any toddlers of my own to follow around. I just love Alexis, she has such a spirit about her and is such a happy child! What a joy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Brook And Aaron Parker

Recently I was able to go out and practice my photography skillzzz on some friends who were in need of some updated "Family Photos." I don't have any expereince and this was my first shot, but I think I did pretty well. She wants to go out and do some more on a sunny day at a gorgous beach she and her husband found, so hopefully I'll be able to get out and take some more pictures when the weather clears up a bit more. I need a new camera... Maybe a good gift from the hubbs?? *hint hint* They weren't into candids and wanted me to "count to three" every time I took a picture but I told them no. Hahaha!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Time off from Work

Futenma Shrine
These past two weeks have been GREAT. Danny and I have both been free from work & therefore all obligations and most responsibilities. It was great, I felt like a teenager again, not having to worry about work calling, spending most every moment I had with Danny, and him with me... We need to take more time off. Life is too darn short. Alright... so what have we been up to you ask? EVERYTHING! When we first got to island, we used to just get in the car on Saturdays and Drive.. we would stop anywhere we thought looked interesting. Back then we didn't find the need to be responsible for our cameras, so we never got any pictures of anything. Ahhh but I have become obsessed with photography lately so we took a camera everywhere we went these past two weeks. Please check our flicker account for more photos. Its free to look at, you don't need to sign in to anything. :D

The first thing we saw was the Futenma Shrine. It was pretty cool, we don't know anything about it because no one spoke English and there wasn't anything posted in English either. But it was pretty cool, we went into this underground cave and saw what I think may have been a tomb, but I'm not sure because you aren't supposed to take pictures of them and they told us we could take pictures of this one.. though that might not have been what they said.. my Japanese isn't very good.. so we took pictures anyway. There was, of course, also the shrine, where people were praying (I think) and worshiping whatever it is they worship there. Pretty sure they worship their ancestors... but don't quote me on that because I'm not 100% sure.
Next we came across some castle ruins. Katsuren Castle, to be precise. It was pretty cool, to many stairs for me. There was an awesome view of the ocean on one side, and an awesome view of... well the ocean... on the other side. You could also see what I'll refer to as the city, though I'm not sure you can call anywhere on Okinawa a City... because nowhere on this island is anything like LA, NY, or DC. It was a beautiful castle though, I'm sure, at one point. It's pretty cool to be standing in a grassy field surrounded by rocks thinking, "Wow I'm standing where royalty once lived. Sweet!"

This time we traveled north on Highway 58. We stopped first at Okinawa Hollywood, but the beach was littered with garbage and it was too windy and cold to try and find anything worth photographing. I think this is the only beach where I've ever seen trash litter the sand and the shallow waters. So off we headed, going north. We found this place called Cape Manzamo. Very beautiful, and would have been much more enjoyable if the wind hadn't kicked up and nearly knocked us off a cliff. It was cold. Wind chill, burr! But there were some awesome waves, and the water was absolutely breathtaking. The view of the ocean was great. We'll definitely be going back there when the weather is a little nicer and the sun shines on the water, turning it a crazy-beautiful shade of turquoise.

Back on to HWY 58.. We came across this interesting looking building, so we decided to pull in. We found that it was a sweet potato factory! This starch is so popular here. Its purple, and they put it in everything. Pastries, ice cream, stir fry... you name it. If you see something edible and it's purple, its probably not grape flavor... its probably sweet potato. So about this building. Out front there were so many little girls dressed in their Japanese style clothes, the traditional kind, not the crazy weird fashions you see walking down the street on a daily basis. We went inside and it was as if the color purple had decided it was going to be king and this was his castle. Everything was purple. The pastries, the noodles, the flowers, the uniforms... it was great. So here we are wandering around this building when we come across the factory, so awesome, machines making these purple pastries faster than I ever thought possible. It was a beautiful process. To make it even better, they have their own private beach out back! So we trotted down there and took some pictures by the water. It was gorgeous. It looked untouched! No footprints, just sand, waves, and some cool rocks. You'll probably see one of these photos in our Happy New Year! Newsletter we send out.
And finally, our last stop of that day, and probably one of the most exciting, the Okinawa Tropical Kingdom. AKA the Fruit Farm. YUM! They had the best pineapple I've ever tasted. Ok but I'm getting ahead of myself. So you drive up to this building, and it looks like a rainbow threw up all over the front of the building. Colors colors everywhere! It was insane! You'd never see anything like this in the states. Alright. We bought our tickets (about 700yen each) and walk into the factory. Well I have to admit, at first I was a little disappointed. There were plants, hooray, but no fruit. Not only that but it didn't even seem like there were many plants in there. Luckily I didn't tell Danny right then that I wanted to go home now, because we found some cool stuff. First we found the pineapple farm outside. COOL we had never seen a pineapple plant up close and personal before. As we walk along, I hear so many birds. And then I hear a prerecording telling visitors not to be afraid if a bird decides to land on their shoulder. I was getting excited. We came up to the "bird room" and wow! So many colorful, awesome looking birds! Weird ones i had never seen before! I even got close enough to take a picture next to a few rainbow birds. I didn't want to hold them like some other people were, because lets face it, birds are dirty and they poop a lot. But I got to stand next to them and get some coool photos. Danny was the camera man during this event. So, as if my day couldn't get any better... we walk out of the bird room and into.. that's right.. the butterfly room! These babies were freakin' huge! And so awesome! They would just crawl right up to you and get on your finger. Or fly onto your hat (true story!). They were so cool that I'm putting up several photos of the butterflies.
As soon as we walked out of the butterfly room it started to rain.. so we decided it was time to call it a day. What a great day.