Posts Tagged With: Barley

Barley the Okinawan Explorer

I met up with some friends at a gorgeous little beach on Hamahiga island today, and Barley tagged along to do some exploring.

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Since he was a puppy, he has always loved the feeling of his ears blowing in the wind. He is such a goofy little guy!

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Since Barley loves the water but not necessarily having to swim, I tempted him with some carrots to come see me away from the shore. Watching him swim took me back to his puppy days in Pensacola, when we took him out on the bayou and tried to distract him from crab chasing so we could get him to swim.

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After retrieving his carrots, he promptly headed back to shore to relax on the beach. Shortly after, he made some Japanese friends and tried to eat some coral.

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Overall, it was a great time on the beach. This little dude brings me such joy, although the bath I gave him afterwards was much less fun (for both of us).

May you find new and wonderful things in your world today, and maybe even let your ears blow in the wind a little!

-A

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Categories: Barley, Exploring | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Will You Marry Me?

Two years ago today, Casey asked me to marry him. I am sure that it is quite obvious that I said yes, but I’m going to tell you the story anyway. While there is a lot of adorable back-story to this, I am going to save that for later posts. I prefer to draw this out. 😉

As former policy debaters, my husband and I are both talkers. To be honest, there is nothing that we do not talk about. As children of divorced parents, we did not take the subject of marriage lightly, but we certainly discussed it. Less than a year into our relationship, we discussed never getting married. We agreed that we would both be happy to live out our lives together, unmarried and unafraid. Soon after that discussion, we moved to Pensacola, Florida, together. It was here that I received a fairly rough introduction to the military lifestyle, as the Marine Corps sent Casey away to California on a temporary assignment two months into living together. Fortunately, we had just adopted this guy:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHis name is Barley, and yes, he is still that cute. Thank you for asking.

During my three months living on my own in our little home in Pensacola, something changed. I certainly became stronger, as I picked myself up, found a job (or three), made friends, bought a car, and explored this new city on my own. Barley and I ran every day after work along the bayou, Barley chasing crabs while the sun set and the Blue Angels flew overhead.  While that was wonderful; the emptiness I felt with Casey on the other side of the country, the longing I felt for all the little things in our life together, coupled with the realization that I could handle all of that affected me deeply. Somehow, Casey and I independently came to realize that we wanted to marry each other from opposite sides of the US. Actually, at that point I discovered that there was nothing I wanted more. He returned to Florida and we discussed our future together.

Fast forward about 9 months, and I just knew Casey would be “popping the question” soon. In fact, through careful deduction, I was able to predict it down to the time and place. Here’s how. First of all, Casey is a grand gesture kind of guy. I’ll save the story for how he first told me he loved me for another day, but I can tell you that it was over the top. Second, Casey is terrible at keeping secrets from me. For our first Christmas together, he bought me a CHI hair straightener. About 5 minutes before we exchanged gifts, he pointed to my hair straightener and asked me how it was working for me. Similarly, before he proposed, he kept getting excited about certain details of the date we had planned for our second anniversary. My first observation gave me the idea, and the second reinforced it. That date was set to be a repeat of our first date together in Fredericksburg, VA, where we were to visit right around our anniversary to attend one of my best friend’s weddings. (I made sure to warn my friend that we would probably be getting engaged the night before her wedding to make sure that she would be okay with it). 😉

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On our date, we walked through downtown Fredericksburg, past the little cafe where we had shared a sandwich two years before. We went to see Transformers 3, since we had seen Transformers 2 on our first date together. We ate dinner at Sammy T’s, where we had shared our first dinner and Sierra Nevada. We even wore the same clothes that we had worn on our first date. I know, it’s just too much. Finally, Casey drove me by the house where I had lived during my senior year in college. We got out of the car, and in the spot where he had nervously dropped me off and asked for a kiss, our first kiss, he said something I will never forget.

“Amanda, two years ago in this spot I asked you a very important question, and today I have another one. I love you very much, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” And then, from one knee: “Amanda, will you marry me?” Crying, I said, “Of course! I would love to marry you!” As much as I had known when and where he would ask me this, nothing in the world could have prepared me for that moment.

Categories: Marriage, Our Story | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Subtropical Winter

Alright. It has been over 2 months since I have updated you all on my life. I watched the days turn into weeks and then months, and have now learned my lesson. I have so much to say that it is difficult to say it all without scaring you away. I’ll attempt to summarize the last two months as briefly as I can, and I’ll save some of the better stories for later posts. 😉

In late November, we finally received our shipment of household goods. After 5 moves in less than 3 years, we have become quite efficient at unpacking. (It also helped that we left most of our belongings in storage). Two months later, I am still working on making our apartment feel more like home.
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After unpacking, I launched into Thanksgiving preparation. This was my first Thanksgiving away from family, and I was determined to try and make up for that by cooking my first Thanksgiving feast. With Casey’s help (on the meat portions), I cooked a turkey, mashed potatoes and 2 types of gravy, rolls, cornbread muffins, 2 types of stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and 2 pies.  It felt like a rite of passage into womanhood to pull that off, but I was exhausted and learned a lot about what not to do when cooking for 10+ people. It was wonderful to share the holiday with friends, but it was no substitute for hearing my baby sister say Grace back home.

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At the beginning of December, Barley gave me quite the scare. I came home one Saturday afternoon to find him shaking all over and lethargic. Getting him to a vet was a terrifying experience, as there was no one on base to see him. After multiple phone calls to vets out in town who repeatedly hung up on me because of the language barrier between us, I was able to get him to a vet clinic that could see him, where a fraction of the vet’s explanation was translated to me. Multiple appointments, many steroids,  and over a month later, Barley is fine. With Casey out of town, I could not have gotten through that experience without the support of a few friends out here and the kindness of the employees at the vet clinic who tried their best to communicate with me.

On the note of Casey being out of town, he has had a number of trips to mainland Japan, Hawaii, and Korea. His flights are more and more exciting, and he is truly loving his job. While I enjoy having him home with me, I am tremendously happy to see him finally reaping the rewards of all his (continued) hard work!

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In between Casey’s trips, we have enjoyed his days off for the holidays.  While again this has been our first Christmas away from family, we did our best to bring Christmas to Okinawa. The Okinawans have a fun conception of Christmas, which involves the quintessential bright lights, albeit in pinks, blues, and yellows. While most of the material components to Christmas were present, it did not quite feel like Christmas in the 70-degree weather or in our fairly empty apartment. It was still wonderful to share our first Christmas as a married couple together. We spent the morning opening our gifts and skyping with family, and then dove back into cooking a Christmas feast for a few of our friends out here. (This time we went for an easier menu). 😉

This month, we enjoyed a fun celebration of the New Year with our new found friends, and even had a visit from a good friend from the states, Farrah! I have been taking a Japanese class, and am fully enjoying my little interactions with the Okinawan people as I slowly learn the language. We look forward to all the new adventures 2013 will bring us!

In between those holidays and everything else I have left out, Casey and I have spent as much of our time as possible exploring everything this wonderful little island has to offer. In the coming weeks I will go over everything from delicious local food to underground caves, from aquarium visits to creepy tombs and beautiful castles…

I hope that all of you enjoyed your holiday season, wherever you are in the world.

Love always, Amanda

Categories: Barley, Moving, Okinawa Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Journey to the East

Before I detail what we have been up to here on Okinawa, I thought I would recount the tale of how we arrived.

Some time before our wedding this past February, Casey was notified that we would be relocating to Japan. I had known it was a likely option for us, but nonetheless I was not prepared for the phone call I received from Casey while on my lunch break one day. Before this, I had never traveled outside of the US, except for a cruise to the Bahamas and a short drive to Canada for ice cream. I had always wanted to travel, but the idea of moving to another continent for 3 years was hard to swallow at first. (It did, however, validate our decision to get married when we did!) When Casey told me we would be moving to Japan, I was not sure what to say. I didn’t want to disappoint him or let him know how genuinely scared I was. I wanted to be strong and get through the rest of my day at work without any angry, crying outbursts.

In that endeavor, I was successful. I went back to work and told my boss I would be able to work there for another 6 months; and then I put the impending move out of my mind as much as possible. This was not difficult, as I was a month out from our wedding, and was more than preoccupied with that. We got married on a beautiful, windy day in February; and I found myself overwhelmed by the thought of saying goodbye to all the people we love, as this was the last time we would see many of them for years.

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Over the following weeks, Casey went off to California for SERE (“survival school”), and then he moved to North Carolina for the final stage of his flight training for the C-130, while I stayed back in Corpus Christi. During our 5-month separation, Casey and I split up the laundry list of hoops we would need to jump through to get to Okinawa. This included getting official passports, medical and dental clearances, immunizations, anti-terrorism training, selling some of our belongings, and preparing for essentially 3 separate moves. (We had 2 shipments to send to Japan, and one to put in storage for 3 years). In addition to all of this, the most difficult part of the process was getting our dog and cat, Barley and Hops, eligible for transport to Japan. This involved microchips, multiple rabies vaccinations, blood tests sent to DOD laboratories, health certificates and more paperwork than I would care to list on here. I can tell you that I will never again attempt a vet appointment with a dog and a cat in the passenger seat of a Mazda Miata.

After a long separation, Casey and I were reunited in August, when we continued our goodbye tour on a trip to see my family in Vermont. Saying goodbye to them was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I had already been separated from friends and family for 2 years at this point, but moving to another country felt for just a minute like the end of the world. We flew from there back to New Bern, NC, to move Casey out of his apartment and begin our road trip back to Corpus Christi. We stopped in Meridian, MS, to say goodbye to friends, and then spent 2 weeks together in Corpus preparing for and executing the move.

While we have moved 4 times in the last 2 years, this was by far the most stressful. Armed with my massive spreadsheets of everything we own and donuts to keep the movers productive, I managed to survive 5 days of different movers in and out of our house. Our last night in Corpus Christi was spent in a hotel, eating take-out from our favorite restaurant in town. I had said several tearful goodbyes with my co-workers and friends there and Casey had finished his massive check-out process on base, leaving us with nothing left but to toss the animals into our packed out car and say a bittersweet goodbye to Corpus Christi.

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Of course, we had to see the Gulf one last time (for now). From there, we headed west to San Diego, CA, to say goodbye to family and friends there. We truly enjoyed watching the landscape of America evolve as we drove, and we made a few stops along the way. However, driving with a dog and cat in tow makes road trips considerably more difficult, and we were unable to make extended stops along the way. Most of our sight-seeing was done from inside the car.

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We arrived in beautiful San Diego, and had a wonderful time with family and friends. As was the trend, it was difficult to say goodbye. From there, we headed north to Seattle, WA. The trip along the West Coast was stunning. With the mountains of California on our right and the Pacific on our left, slamming into the coast; it was a gorgeous drive. We stopped to see a few friends and family on the way in San Jose and San Francisco, and then Portland. We arrived in Seattle very late at night, carried all the animals and bags into the hotel, and promptly passed out. In the morning, Barley and Hops had their final vet appointment, and Casey and I tied up all the loose ends in our life. 😉

Unfortunately, up until this point, the military was unable to get Barley on our flight to Okinawa. After researching our options and being unwilling to fork over $3000 for someone else to accompany him there, we decided to fly separately. We purchased a ticket for Barley and I on a civilian airline, and Casey was to take Hops on board the military flight with him. My flight was set to land in Tokyo, where I would need to take Barley through customs and animal quarantine services to have him checked out and his paperwork reviewed. Casey and Hops would fly from base to base, by-passing this process. I was not confident in my ability to get through it, as I’ve been known to get lost and cry in airports. I knew I had no other options at this point, as I was not going to leave Barley behind, so I did my best to prepare myself.

The morning of our flights, I drove Casey and Hops to the airport at 4:30 am. When we approached the counter with our 5 bags + cat, we asked if they happened to have a space available for Barley, assuming they wouldn’t. When the woman told me they had someone cancel their pet’s spot last minute (and that they had not canceled my seat), I almost hugged her. She told us we had 30 minutes to get our bags and dog to the airport and on the flight! Since I had assumed I was not leaving until later that day, all of my luggage and Barley were still back at the hotel! Casey had to run back to the car, rush to the hotel, throw everything together and rush back. I stayed at the airport to guard our belongings and catbeast. We managed to get everything dropped off just in time (Barley was not happy to be left in a crate with these people), and then spent the next hour before our flight departed canceling my flight with United, turning in the rental car, and going through the box of our belongings that we had planned on mailing to ourselves but could not, as the post office is not open at 6 am (we threw away everything that did not fit in our luggage). Oh, and then we had to carry our cat through security! (Note: I do not recommend this).

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Even attempting to explain that morning is exhausting. By the time we boarded our flight, we were toast. The airline employees were wonderful, and we spent the next 12 hours drifting in and out of sleep with Hopsy sleeping in our laps. We arrived first on Yokota air base near Tokyo. We stopped for about 2 hours, during which time we were able to walk and feed a very upset Barley. We then boarded the plane again and flew another 2 hours to Iwakuni, Japan. In Iwakuni, we walked Barley again and got a bit to eat. (Our first meal in Japan was Taco Bell). 😉

Finally, we boarded the plane one last time for Kadena AFB on Okinawa! We were exhausted and ready to get there. Hops decided during this flight that she was no longer happy flying on an airplane and went potty on the floor of the bathroom. (I’ve never seen Casey so angry as when he came back to our seats covered in cat litter after 20 minutes in the bathroom). We finally arrived in Okinawa, gathered all of our huge bags and dog, and met our sponsors, the Ermises. They took care of everything from there. They took us to our hotel, dropped Hops off with a friend, and took Barley home with them. The process of flying took over 24 hours, and I have never been so tired.

In the morning, however, we woke up in paradise.

Categories: Moving, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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