However, if you were born after the Harding administration and aren't on Facebook, don't get mad because I haven't posted here. Especially if you tell me that you aren't on Facebook because of the "drama." The reason you have drama on your Facebook page is because of the friends you have chosen to add to it. Choose your friends more wisely.
So, if you are Facebook friends with me, you know I have been busy. Very busy. I have three jobs and two volunteer posts, and Fall is only less busy than Spring, so "#I'm sorry not sorry" for blogging. Except to my grandmother... to you, Grandma, I am genuinely sorry. Hopefully Mom is keeping you in the loop and sharing photos from Facebook. If not, here are some highlights from my Fall in Iwakuni, with some helpful hints to people who may be getting stationed in Iwakuni soon:
1) Military Spouse Events are Popular... for reals.
Seriously, I have never been to more squadron/unit/spouse/girls night events than I have been in Iwakuni in the past 6 weeks. I think it's because there is a language barrier once you set foot outside of base and it's tough to make friends. So many MCAS Iwakuni spouses, such as myself, who avoided other military spouses like the plague before because of the ahem, "drama," have learned to either 1) join the drama and revel in it, or 2) find some fun, less dramatic people to hang out with. I am a proponent of option #2. Either way, the holidays seem to bring out the sense of camaraderie in almost everyone and I have mingled with lots of spouses. Take a look:
Some of the events were for pure fun, some I worked at, helping the ladies make holiday ornaments. Either way, there was a lot of food, fun and festivities and the people who were there were great. I managed to go to 15 different spouse events since Nov. 20... and not one hair got pulled or cheek got slapped. I'd say that's a success all around. I've met some amazing women here... I never thought I would say that. So, those of you planning to PCS to Iwakuni, realize there are plenty of enjoyable people here. You just have to be open to finding them.
2) If you RSVP, for God's sake, show up
Yes, this is a dead horse that has already been beaten severely in blogs, columns and sewing circles the world over. But, I have seen it really mess up some events up this season and I felt I should mention it. If you RSVP that you are coming to an event, move mountains to show up, especially if it is an hour before the event. 1) No one will think you are a bad mother if you hire a sitter for the kids because your husband might run late at work. 2) Trust me, husbands are very resourceful with sick toddlers if they have no other choice. Sink or swim, people, and if he's a Marine, it's his job to persevere and read cold medicine labels. If he can't do that, how is he going to find an insurgent in a haystack? 3) If you aren't going to make it to the event because it's kinda rainy outside and you don't want to have to change out of your comfy pants, suck it up. Wear the comfy pants or trade them for jeans... no one cares. But someone did plan for you to come with your potluck item... and guess what? You're not the only one who committed to come to the event and then didn't follow through because the comfy pants won. Remember that. And, on the flip side, if you were supposed to RSVP for an event where you know there is a limited supply of something, don't show up. It's rude and you're taking away from someone else who did what they were supposed to do: take 60 seconds out of one of their days to RSVP. So, please, think of others and follow through on your commitments. Sick children are almost everyone's excuse... it's gotten eye roll status in some circles already. One family has already "had the sniffles" 16 times since Dec. 1. Just kidding, but you know what I mean. And don't give me the song and dance about people who are really sick. I am not talking about them.
3) Lots of people are buying good cameras, despite Apple trying to make iPhone cameras amazing
I have taught 5 different photography workshops since I last blogged. I love that so many people are taking an interest in photography and are really trying to capture great memories of this unique time in their lives - living in Japan. If you want to check out their work, it's all on my business blog. It's been incredibly rewarding watching these budding photographers' skills take off.
4) There's lots to do this time of year
While most Japanese don't celebrate the religious aspect of Christmas, they still love the sentiment of season. And MCAS Iwakuni does try to keep it festive, knowing that a lot of people are really missing family and friends this time of year. Here is a sampling:
|In November, until about Thanksgiving, the leaves in Momijidani Park on the island of Miyajima are ablaze with color. It is a fabulous time to go capture the beauty of the island.|
|MCCS Iwakuni puts on the Jingle Bell Jog the Friday before the kids' winter break. People of all ages dress up festively and the run or walk around the base... and then follow it up with free lunch, games and crafts provided by the base.|
|There are tons of ways to volunteer and give back, from orphanage visits, to barracks cookie drops, to Santa events for kids. This is the spouse volunteering at the base thrift store to raise money for toys for Japanese orphans.|
|You keep important family holiday traditions alive... like adding a new ornament to the tree every year.|
5) You get a damn elf
OK, I thought I had managed to dodge the Elf on the Shelf craze... my kids are 8 and 12 and about to expire on the whole belief thing. Or so I thought. When I came home with an elf and 8-year-old Xan saw it, he was thrilled. "I'm the only one in my class who doesn't have an elf! Do we get to keep him?!" I explained that this one was a gift for another child... and I thought my youngest was going to cry. He went to bed that night and guilt ate at me for a good hour or two. I finally caved in and let the elf stay. I keep my begrudging attitude about it because if I changed my attitude, the kid would suspect something. So... our elf, named by Xan as "Spike" because of his "spiked" collar, has gotten creative with his shenanigans thus far. Here is how he introduced himself:
|Please note that he "busted" out of the front of his box. It's hard to see.|
"Fine," I told Xan when he came home from school that afternoon. "He can stay, but you have to read the instruction manual he came with."
"OK!" Xan said, and the kid who hates to read grabbed the manual and sat down to read it.
"Mom, this is a story, not an instruction manual," he informed me.
"Oh, OK, whatever. Does it say what the rules are?"
"Then I say it's an instruction manual."
"Well, just don't touch him. EVER."
"Fine. Make sure you tell you father. He might screw up."
"Can I call him now?"
So, that night Spike went ziplining through the living room.
Then he pooped chocolate. Gross.
Then Spike drank margaritas while he read a book the boys bought for me this summer. Probably not age appropriate, but that's my, er, Spike's, sense of humor and the kids found it amusing.
Then he got excited when the first snow hit and modeled after Xan.... in Bisquick, which won't come out of his suit. He got dirty, so...
Xan wrote him a note demanding he take a bath, so Spike complied
And by this time, Spike was hungry and wanted to be a part of the family "eating" collage we have in the living room.
Of course, Spike was the inspiration for a school Spirit Week costume for the older child:
Other than realizing once at 1 a.m. that Spike hadn't moved yet, this has been an excellent way to get the sarcastic creative juices flowing. I may continue this through the boys' teenage and college years just to embarrass them when their friends come over. I need to look up inappropriate Elf on the Shelf situations on Pinterest in preparation...
6) Life's incredibly busy, but try to stop and enjoy it
|We had family photos taken this year, all dressed up. They will be posted soon... once Christmas gifts have been opened in the States.|
|You get to fight with your cat over which Christmas ornaments are hers (none!)|
|You get to fight with your cat over whose warm husband is hers on a cold day (none!)|
|Thanks to my fabulous photography clients, I was able to upgrade my camera, and the spouse gave me a camera strap that is more friendly to women. I'm having fun playing with my new "toys."|