Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Deid

Al Udeid (aka The Deid) is a base in Qatar and serves as a major hub for the Air Force at least in getting supplies and more importantly people into and out of OIF and OEF. You can google it if you want to see it on a map. That’s where I am right now stuck between home and the war in what appears to be summer camp. Everyone knows summer camp can be a drag, but we all had fun right? They have a pool here decent chow and a huge overhang that everyone calls “the Bra”. It has two big tent poles and a covering on each with the coverings connected in the middle. The result looks like two giant cups that a giant stripper flung off and it landed here in the land of the Arabs. There’s beer if you want it, but you can only have 3 drinks per day to keep people from getting out of control. The living accommodations consist of large Quonset hut tents and about 30 beds in each. The capacity right now is such that everyone gets at least their own bunk bed, so you can at least have the bottom bunk. The tents have AC, but they make no attempt to put you up with someone who will be on the same sleep schedule as you. As a result, you are always tiptoeing in and out and someone is always banging around when you are trying to sleep. Hence why the Bra is so popular. It’s like a large outdoor living room. This time of year the weather is perfect, about 75 during the day and a chilly 60 or so at night. There’s plenty of MWR stuff around including video game rooms, a movie theater and a brand new BX with a Charley’s subs, Baskin Robbins and all the comforts of Kadena. Everyone wears there PT uniform because we have to be in uniform at all times. So you see people in PT gear everywhere, sometimes smoking and drinking and occasionally shoving a donut in their mouth (guilty as charged). We arrived here from Iraq expecting that we could get someone to take a long hard look at a globe and agree that it doesn’t make any sense to send me and my crew 13000 miles west around the globe to Japan with a stop in the US, and instead book us on commercial flights from Doha which could get us home in about 12 hours for about $1000 each. No No No they said. We will be taking a military charter flight from here to Hurlburt field (because everyone who fights in the war is obviously stationed in the US) then getting on a Delta flight from Fort Walton Beach, FL to Atlanta to Tokyo to Okinawa. Total flight time (not including layovers) is about 30 hours with a cost of about $1500 per ticket. Not to mention that 8 military members will be sitting here doing nothing while still getting paid and earning paid leave. So I’ve found myself with a lot of free time and not a lot to do with it other than goof off and blog. The conditions aren’t really that bad, and I don’t even mind the time off, but these people won’t reason with you when it comes to anything. “Logic is not a factor in military policy” is what I always say. This is your tax dollars at work! Hope all is well.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's not the kids, it's the parents

So, at the Youth Center we have a policy that if a kid gets written up twice in a seven day period he receives a same day suspension. Well, today a kid received his second warning so we told him he had to go home. He said he couldn't because his parents weren't there so we gave him the option of being suspended either Saturday or Monday. He chose Monday. End of situation, right? Wrong!
I had called his home and left a message that he had been warned earlier in the week for not signing out (I know it sounds trivial, but we have to know who's in the building in case there's an evacuation) and that he received his second warning today for shoving another kid. Well, the mom arrives and wants to know why her son has a 1 day suspension. So, I explain it all and she says, "Well, maybe I should put it on record that he has ADHD."

Me: "OK, I just started here, but let me call Jessica over and see what we do." Jessica comes over.

Mom: "I just want to make sure that someone notes that he has ADHD and he doesn't take medication for it when he's out of school."

Jessica: "Alrighty, we can make a note of that, but we have these expectations of behavior (points to clearly visible list of rules posted at the front entrance) that all of the kids have to follow."

Mom: "But he has ADHD. Do you know what that means?"

Jessica: "Yes, my sister has it, but all kids are still expected to follow these rules while they are at the youth center or they have to deal with the consequences."

Mom: "But he doesn't have a brain like me and you. He doesn't know what he's doing."

Jessica: "I understand and I'm sorry, but he has to follow the same rules as all the other kids."

Mom leaves angry.

I thought Jessica handled it really well. The more I thought about it the more mad I got. Her son has ADHD severe enough that he's on medication while at school, but 1. she doesn't tell us about it and 2. he's not medicated while he's with us. This kid is with us 4 hours/day 5 days a week. I really don't understand how she can expect us to change the rules just for her child. Did she ever think that maybe if he can't understand the rules and know how to handle himself in social situations that she shouldn't drop him off there unattended every day?!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Working full time would suck...

I'm really hoping that my sister, Monica, does not show her husband, Brian, this post. He already thinks I'm a slacker and doesn't seem to understand that being unemployed isn't really that great. Yes, with Chris' stable job we have the luxury that I don't have to work. However, since I always worked before we were married the fact that I haven't been able to get a job in my field in the last 6 years can be a real morale/confidence buster. I have gotten seasonal jobs in environmental education and that unexpected turn in my career has allowed me to discover how much I love teaching. So, now I'm working about 25 hours/week at the Youth Center and I'm still liking it, but I can't imagine working 40 or more hours each week! How do people get things done? This schedule is just about perfect - I can wake up, workout, get errands done, go out to lunch with friends once a week, teach English one day a week, walk the dog, eat lunch at home, go to work, come home, walk the dog, eat dinner, watch an hour or so of bad AFN TV, and go to bed. If I were to work 40 hours/week, the house would be filthy, the fridge would be empty, I'd have no friends, and I'd have no time to blog! So, a big salute out to all the full timers, especially those who add parenting into the mix. I'm glad to be in the ranks of the slackers!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I heart Okinawa!

Today as I was driving home I came across one more reason I love living on this isolated island. While sitting at the light to exit gate 3 (this turns on to a major street for those of you who don't live here) I saw a man walking his herd (perhaps pack, gaggle, or flock?) of goats! Yes, goats! When I first glanced them I thought, "wow, that guy is walking a lot of dogs." Then I was like, "Holy crap! They're goats". And he had at least 6 of them - 1 huge, white beast and then little ones of varying colors. There was even a white one with black spots that my mind first interpreted as a dalmatian. The best part was that only one of the young ones had a leash; the others were just following along. They were so much better behaved than Rana that it's embarrassing. I whipped out my camera, but was too late to get the shot. I'm on the lookout now though so hopefully I'll capture them soon. Have a great week everyone and watch out for goats!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Working 9 to 5

Ok, not really. It's only 2-6, but hey! It's something! So, Monday I started working at the Youth Center on base. I know this sounds bad (like maybe I started with the wrong attitude), but I like it more than I thought. I went in not really knowing what to expect, but by the end of the week I found that I like my co-workers and the kids are actually pretty good. I thought 9-12 year olds might be a little rougher, but besides "crap" I haven't heard any profanity which I was pretty relieved about since my 8 year old nephew recently asked my sister, Monica, "Mom, what is f***?" Apparently he learned it from the coach's kid on his Christian basketball team. You gotta watch out for these church-goers! Anyway, back to the subject of the job. It's a little more babysitting than I thought, but in the next few weeks I'll be taking over some programs and getting to create and present lessons. I think I'll be doing Art, an Environmental Education club, and a monthly program for home-schoolers. At the Youth Center there's a huge rec room with foosball, ping pong, pool, video games, a craft corner, and rooms for homework and different club meetings. I'll keep you posted, but so far so good!

Cocok's

Alrighty, so one of the first places I heard about when we moved here was Cocok's (pronounced cocoas) nail salon. Everyone raves about the pedicures and last Sunday I found out that it's with good reason. Everyone knows I'm not much of a girly girl so getting a pedicure wasn't on the top of my to-do list, but after being here 7 months (time flies, doesn't it?) I gave it a go. I went with a few ladies in celebration of finishing our Extreme Fitness Challenge. It is quite the experience.
First, you get to sit in these super comfy recliners and they bring you tea and this massive book of styles you can choose from. This place is not just for the simple paint job. The Japanese people are real artists and they can hand paint almost anything you want on your toes. You get the normal pedicure treatment - soaking, moisturizing, filing (yuck!), scraping, grating, etc., but you also get an extended foot and leg massage. It is so relaxing!
Well, before going in and seeing all my options I was convinced that I was going to get my nails painted black and have little crosses put on them, but then I fell in love with the koi and dragonflies! They are so cute! Plus, being the true fan, I went with Gator colors. Slightly tacky, I know, but I wanted the fish to be orange so blue just seemed to be the logical choice.
Here are some pictures of before and after as well as a picture of me with my still-kind-of new haircut. Bangs! Crazy, I know. And yes in the before picture that polish is left over from the squadron Christmas party that took place mid-December.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Good News!

video

Yes, I know I'm a big dork who can't dance, but most of the people who read this blog already know that! For those who don't, I hope I'm still invited to Ladies' Night! :) I am sorry for the armpit shot at the end though. Anyway, I start Monday! Woohoo!

It's what's for dinner...

I know a lot of you are hearing timpani drums and hoof beats as the beef commercial pops into your head, but that's not what's for dinner here. Don't get me wrong. I like meat, but right now I'm on a blueberry pancake kick and loving it. This is one of the perks of Chris being on vacation in a warm, sandy locale - I can have anything I want for dinner. Recently, it has been pancakes 3 nights a week. Chris is probably relieved that I've moved on from cereal or peanut butter and toasted marshmallow toast, but fear not raisin bran still comes into the rotation. It just seems like such a waste of time and effort to prepare "real" meals for one person. Luckily, I have plans both weekend evenings so maybe I'll get a little protein thrown in!

I'm pretty sure I've been a member before...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lunch, lunch, lunch

Alrighty, so I have a couple lunches to write about. Last week I met Hannah (from the Newcomer's Tour) at Coffee Casa in the Seawall area. I've been there before, but I love the atmosphere and didn't mind going again. I got the 'Elvis', a toasted peanut butter and banana sandwich. It was good, but not great. It definitely needed more peanut butter.
Today I went out with the Lunch Ladies to the 50s Cafe. I got a burger and it was pretty good. The bun was nice and toasted. There were lots of old movie posters and American 50s memorabilia on the walls. I had been hoping that they'd have onion rings or homemade shakes, but the burger was good enough that I'd take Chris back there.
After lunch we went to Starbuck's for a little more talk time. I'm really liking the Lunch Ladies group. It's a nice group with lots of funny ladies!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

For Heather

My "sporty" dog Rana joined the hair bow group!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Results Are In...

I'm currently in my final week of the Extreme Fitness Challenge. For those of you who don't know, EFC is a class the gym offers which gives you 2 personal trainers 5 days/week for 8 weeks. Our class started with 15 people and I think we are currently down to 9. I was surprised how many people dropped out since they paid to do it (I can hear my mom sucking air through her teeth right now because I hadn't told her I paid money for it - love you mom!). At the start of the program we got weighed and did the Air Force Physical Fitness Test (PFT). Over the class I dropped 7.5 pounds, went from 25 to 37 real push ups in a minute, went from 45 to 53 sit ups in a minute, and went from a 12:48 mile and a half to 11:29. I think I could get down to an 11:15, but I don't know if I'm willing to put in that much more effort for 14 seconds. While I'm very happy with these results, I've got mixed feelings about the class. I liked my instructors as people, but I'm not really confident in their abilities as personal trainers. For example, last week we did sprints 3 days, spinning on one day, and moderate running on the fifth day. It just seems that there is no balance in it - give me some upper body workouts! Also, it seemed to be an all or none workout. Some days were fantastically hard and I wondered if I could complete the workout, but just as many days were so easy that I did my own workout afterwards. Oh well, live and learn. Perhaps the best things that have come out of this experience are I've begun to faithfully keep a food journal (I highly recommend sparkpeople.com if anyone is looking) and I finally broke my soda addiction! It was tough. I used to drink 2-3 Coke Zeros and a Fresca every day and now I drink nothing but water and an occasional Crystal Light. The first week I was getting headaches and my mouth would just crave the soda, especially at around 2 in the afternoon. After the first week the cravings were gone and when I drank a few sips of soda halfway through the program it didn't even taste good! Victory!
In other news, Saturday I went to Charity's house for her birthday bash. It was so much fun. The only thing that would have made it better was if Chris had been around to be my designated driver! There were a few ladies from the Lunch Ladies group and I also got to meet new people. It was nice not being with people from Chris' squadron because there wasn't as much shop talk. Actually, I think everyone there were Marines. Hoo-rah!

This picture (courtesy of Charity) has Jess, Cooper (the cutest boxer puppy ever), me, Charity, and Heather. Hope everyone had as fun of a weekend as I did and talk to y'all soon.