Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Our holidays started unofficially last Sunday when my co-worker, Mary, invited us to dinner. I really should have taken more pictures around their apartment because it was decorated beautifully, but that would only emphasize how little decorating we did this year. They served us some amazing ribs and after dinner we had hot chocolate. This is how all hot chocolate should be made. It was in a huge mug and topped with marshmallows so the homemade whip cream wouldn't melt before you had a chance to eat it. It was heavenly and perfect for one of the few cool nights we've had on Okinawa.
The next day I started getting a little achy and had a bit of a cough. I actually left work a little early. Tuesday I felt the same and again left work early.
I had the day off Wednesday and while my headache had gone I was starting to cough a little more. Thank goodness for cough drops because one of my English students had given us tickets to see her choir perform in Naha. I knew this was important to her because in our last class she talked about how hard they had been practicing.
They sounded great and with the help of Halls I was able to make it through without disturbing anyone. Michiko was so happy to see me afterwards. She is so sweet. This picture makes me look like a giant next to her, but I am wearing boots. However, even without boots I've got a good couple inches on her with my 5'5" frame (technically 5'4" and change, but I round up so I can weigh more).
After the concert we headed to Coco's Curry for dinner.This place is so delicious. Chris goes all out while I stick with a half order...

because "I can't eat the normal size all".
That night the coughing really caught up with me. Since Wednesday I've been having consistent, violent coughing fits. I feel fine otherwise, but let me tell you constant coughing really takes it out of you.
The following day was Christmas Eve and we both had the day off work. We took the dog on a long walk (I actually feel better in the fresh air) and cooked enough food for an army despite it being only two of us.
Yes, we had a twelve pound ham for two people! You will see more of it later in the blog. We also had corn casserole and sweet rolls. Perhaps not a complete meal, but just what we were wanting.
We also had a couple cookies:
This is a cookie plate we made for friends. We made three and only delivered one. After I got sick I didn't feel like delivering them so now they're in the freezer. Oops.
Alrighty, here are some pics of our limited decorating efforts. We don't have a tree this year. I like real trees and we missed the 3 day window that there were actually any on the island this year while we were on our cruise. Oh well, maybe next year.
This year we used Rana's raised bed for presents:
Rana very gently added her bone to the mix.
The stockings were hung from the windows with care:
I love these simple reindeer.
I also love decorations from Jim Stone.
Most of my favorite decorations are from Cyndie's Minis, the same lady who made our cake topper. All of the decorations are made by hand. If I'm in Gainesville, I'll pick up a new one, but for the most part my mom braves the crowds and picks me a new one to add to the collection.
This year we got giraffes!
I also put up a couple decorations to remind us of England:
While perhaps a little mishmash, I like the overall effect:
Me being sick changed our Christmas plans a little. We wound up cancelling our Christmas and Boxing Day plans. Chris scoured the internet and called a friend of his who is a flight doctor and they both think I have, or will have, bronchitis. So while I'm not totally out of commission, I definitely don't need to be around anybody. Despite cancelling social engagements, Chris and I had a great time just hanging out together. The weather on Christmas was wet and grey so it was nice to be warm and dry in the house.
Some of our presents included:
My underwear with little Ranas! Too cute!
We got homemade BBQ sauce, strawberry preserves, and salsa from Chris' mom! Yummy!
Rana got some new tug toys. Check out my left wrist - it's wood burn from falling down some stairs while walking Rana on Christmas Eve. Duh!
Chris' presents for me ranged from the practical:
A teapot that has been super handy since I've coughed my throat raw.
To the luxurious!:
Emerald and sapphire earrings and a sapphire necklace. They are stunning!
Oscar did get some presents, but liked the wrapping paper more!
Rana loves her box full of toys:
Most of the toys with stuffing have already been pulverized!
While Rana liked her toys, she was not too happy with Chris' new toy:

video

After opening our presents we had a nice, relaxed day of doing a whole lot of nothing. It was perfect.

Chris took some time to learn harmonica basics. And I took some time to watch way too much Mad Men! I have now watched all 3 seasons!

While we liked being lazy, we were all going a little stir crazy by the late afternoon. So, Chris, Rana, and I (with a pocketful of lozenges) took a nice drive and made a quick stop at Ikei Island so Rana could have a run around.

Meals on Christmas included:

Ham sandwich on homemade sesame loaf

Ham, egg, and cheese pita toasted on the George Foreman Grill. Are you seeing a pattern? We have a lot of ham to eat!

Chris has also just been eating piles of ham. Literally, piles of ham. Nothing else, just ham.

I don't really have a way to tie this picture in. I just think Rana looks adorable perched up on Chris' recliner.

Today (Sunday) the weather finally cleared up and we took advantage of the blue skies! We picked up some sushi and headed to Zampa Point for a little picnic. When we got there we saw this guy headed to the water:

I'm not too sure about surfing in places where you need a helmet. Yikes!

Rana was quite good and while she might have looked at us longingly, she didn't full out beg.

That's probably a good thing because who could resist that face?!

She tried doing the chopsticks on her own, but her do-claw just wasn't cooperating. So, we had to help.

Rana has always been fascinated with shisa dogs. This pedestal gave her the opportunity to practice the part:

I think she makes a fantastic Shisa!

Here's the view from one of the outlooks:

Like I said, it was a gorgeous day!

Well, our sponsor Coke Zero, Chris, Rana, Oscar, and I would like to wish you all the best in 2010 and may you have:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weekend Whirlwind

Oh, what a weekend! I'm not sure we even had time to breathe. I started the weekend off right with a free 13km (just shy of 8 miles) Perimeter Road Fun Run. This run had me nervous mostly for the fact that I haven't run anything over 5 in the last 6-8 weeks. Once the Izena triathlon that I was training for was cancelled, I kind of gave up on longer distances. However, I tried to prepare right - I drank a lot of water the day before, had leftover pasta for dinner, and was in bed by 10 even though I worked until just after 9. I also was prepped for the morning:
The run was the perimeter of the flight line around Kadena Air Base. There are a couple medium hills at the end (they felt bigger when I was running), but otherwise it's pretty flat. I was very happy to run the whole thing (walking through 2 water stations) in 1:15. I had about 9:40 miles. I know I can go faster than that, but with my limited training I was satisfied.
When I came home my incredible husband told me to eat, shower, and nap because he was going to do the grocery shopping! I can't tell you what a gift that is! Commissaries (military grocery stores) are absolute madness on the weekend and I was so happy to not go.
The rest of the day was pretty low key because we were saving up all of our energy for the 17th SOS Squadron Party! These parties are fun and can get a little out of control. Apparently, we used to have it at the O-Club, but they politely told us we weren't welcome back. Now we have it at the NCO (non-commissioned officer's) club, but they've given us a closing time of midnight.
The dress this year was "black and white with a colorful accessory". It was like they had looked in my closet to pick the theme. I only have maybe 4 dresses. Two of them are ridiculously similar (I don't know what I was thinking), including the one I wore to last year's party. One is a wrap dress and I'm starting to think the print is obnoxious. That left me with one black and white dress that I paired with a red belt and some fire corral jewelry that I picked up in Thailand and Singapore. Chris looked fabulous in his black coat, a new grey shirt, and new tie. Here we are:
Man, we're adorable!
Here's Chris with Dave Rabe (his co-pilot when thy were deployed to the desert earlier this year):
Here's me with Konnie Glaze (from candy making night). She is by far my favorite Commander's wife ever. She made England a great experience. Now her husband is the Deputy Group Commander so they have to attend 7 (I think) of these parties! I do not envy her on that!
Here's another one of our favorite people, Brandon Pablo! He was with us in England and this was his first 17th Christmas Party.
Chris with his cycling partner BJ:
Apparently the year before we arrived there was some baseball played with the ornaments. You get the idea - shattered glass everywhere. This year the decorating committee was smart and got "shatterproof" ornaments from Wal-mart. However, that didn't stop our table from hoarding all of the ornaments! Here's Kelli Dillon gathering some treasures in her dress:
and transferring them to Brook Kelly:
We never really did anything with them, but we sure had a lot of balls!
Here is the squadron commander with some lovely ladies - Amy Sarduy and Jessica Hampton. Yes, he really is the commander, the boss, the man in charge. And yes, he really is wearing leather pants and a leather vest (ok, it might be pleather). In his defense, he and a couple other guys from the squadron made a band and performed, but still leather pants? Yikes!
This is Jess, Joleen Baker, and Michelle DeCarlo making a drink selection. The bar stayed open and free-flowing all night thanks to the Revolution.
Every year there is an auction that pays for the party. These auctions don't produce anything valuable except maybe blackmail pictures. People put bids on the people they want to see dressed up. There are a few costumes, including Santa, the Grinch, an elf, the sugar plum fairy, and this year they added a naughty Santa's helper to the mix. When we were in England Chris was lucky enough to get voted into the sugar plum fairy position. Let's have a looksee:
I can honestly say I've never had so many spouses come up and tell me what nice legs Chris has as I did that night.
Luckily for Chris he managed to fly under the radar this year. I have a feeling next year could be a different story. Here's this year's line up:
Than as Santa, Brandon as his naughty helper, Redman as the sugar plum fairy, the DO (second in command) as the Grinch, and Chadler as the elf (please note that the kilt was his).
My favorite was definitely Pablo:
He looked ridiculously good in that dress!
As the party wore on I thought it would be a good idea to get a little more comfy:
This might have been my best idea ever. Nobody even noticed the slippers!
Also as the night wore on, people got a little crazy:
My friend Jessica felt the need to prove to us that she can still do splits. I don't think any of us were telling her she couldn't, but now we have proof that she can indeed still do them.
Jess is one of my favorite people on island. She's very bubbly and good at bringing people together. Here we are together:
Here's Chris getting down with a tambourine:
One more shot of us looking cute and then I'll move on to Sunday:
When we woke up Sunday we decided that Rana needed a little fun time so we headed to the beach. On our way we stopped at Subway and while we were gone Rana decided to take over my seat. Naughty dog!
But she's so stinking cute. I like Chris' look of concern in the reflection.
When we got to the beach, Rana made a friend - Riley.
Riley was a little older, but very patient with our obnoxious pup. Labs are such good dogs.
After the beach we had to head to my work party - a pot luck at the Youth Center. It wasn't as crazy as the 17th party, which was probably a good thing.
Here's Chris getting crazy on the poly-pong table:
Here's Yuriko (in black), her daughter, and some of her 9 grandchildren. They were all very sweet and well behaved. Yuriko is our mama-san, cleaning lady. She is so sweet and always makes these incredible flower arrangements for the Youth Center.
Here is Zoey (her mom, Karen, works with me in the rec room):
These aren't the best shots, but just so you can start putting faces with names here our my co-workers:
That's Karen, Jessica, and Rhonda.
Here's Mary and her husband Jason:
They brought a chocolate fountain. It was a huge hit, especially with the kids:
We had an incredible potluck, an ornament exchange, and some good Christmas music. It was a very nice afternoon.