Friday, August 1, 2014

Okinawa, Here We Come!

Never in a million years did I expect the day to come where I would be boarding a flight to leave America. Not for vacation, not for spring break, and certainly not to live for three years! But here we are, friends! Today, we are leaving America and heading to Okinawa for the next three years! Isn't that something? It's scary, and exciting, and overwhelming, and anxiety inducing, and fun, and going to be quite the adventure!

I have grand plans for my time in Okinawa, both personally and on the blog, and I hope to share with you all more than just pretty pictures and stories! I hope to share with you a life I never dreamed of having and memories of a special three years that I vow to not take for granted!

I also hope to share pieces of Okinawa with you all! Each month (starting TODAY!) I will be offering one "grab bag" goodie box as a giveaway! I don't even know what Okinawa holds for me yet, but I know from friends living there that it holds amazing new things- foods, drinks, snacks, and pieces of the island and culture!

Our internet is going to be a bit shakey for now. I suppose I'll have free wi-fi in the airports and once we get to our hotel where I'll be bombarding Instagram with pictures of our adventures. If you didn't know, I set up an instagram account for a little shop I'm setting up The Young Retiree Shop! I'll be selling goodie boxes there as well (think $6 small flat rate shipping boxes) where you can buy a piece of Okinawa! I'll be sharing surprise grab bags and those with the contents disclosed. What all would you like to see? Give me some ideas and I'll do my best to keep an eye out!

For today though, I'm giving away a surprise grab bag of some of the very first things I'll find on the island, and maybe the Tokyo airport! Enter below for you chance to win the very first one :D
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone! I can't wait to pick up some fun things and share them with you all here on the blog, and with one lucky person through the mail! See you all real soon, and until then, CHEERS!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Saying Goodbye to California!

I still remember the day I arrived in California as if it were yesterday. I landed mid afternoon in San Diego, all by myself. We were moving without our household goods, so it was me, 4 suitcases, and a carry on tote. Gene was still out on the ship for their homeport change! I arrived with enough time to settle in and familiarize myself a little bit with our new home. The airport was a disaster scene. Though the car rental company said I could rent with my check card, they refused my reservation once I showed up. I was alone, 3,000 miles away from home, and was scared to death.

They shuttled me off to a skeevy car rental place as I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed with a background of palm trees and blue skies. By the time I got to the hotel I was tired and ready to be done with this whole moving business. Gene and I would settle in the Navy Lodge, which I booked for 6 months (I know!) which was supposed to the the maximum length of our time in California! I awaited the ship's arrival and when we were together again, we instantly fell in love with Coronado, found a furnished apartment within the week, and began our (almost) four year adventure in San Diego County.

We moved from Coronado to Fallbrook after the six months. Gene was extended on the Vinson to carry them through a deployment, and then we started our life in the north north county. Fallbrook has been my home since October, 2010. We found a house- the first house we lived in together! We bought furniture and made it a home. And now, I'm leaving this home and moving on to the next adventure.
Hotel living is pretty swanky after couch living!
Our suitcases are packed. Plenty of stuff is in the mail on the way to us (since we kept much, much more than would fit in our suitcases!), the car is in storage (FINALLY), and we're off to our last dinner in America tonight. The next time I step in the Pacific it will be thousands of miles away, on the opposite side of the ocean, on a tropical island. The adventure is beginning for real now, and we couldn't be more excited! Hopefully it goes much smoother than my move to California went. In the very least, I know I'll have Gene right by my side this time, and we'll get through it all together!

Thanks for all the wonderful memories, Cali. You'll forever hold a special place in my heart as our first home together, the first place I moved away from home to, and the place that helped me grow into the strong and independent woman I am. Helped me change from the girl who shook the entire duration of her first drive on the 5 to the girl who flies in the left lane past all the traffic. The girl who knows she can conquer all of the obstacles Okinawa throws at her and bloom and grow for the duration of my stay, no matter how scared I am now. Here we go...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Am I Too Fat For Disneyland?

This might be the hardest post I've ever written to date. I feel like in 2013, I was rocking my weight loss regimen- eating right, working out regularly, and dropping the weight slowly but surely. Gene's orders to Okinawa came through and suddenly our life was turned upside down in a ball of stress. Stress over the move and everything that came with it, a road trip back home to visit family (and three weeks on the road!), and before I knew it I was heavier than when I started trying to lose weight! It really happened out of nowhere and spiraled out of control. That is the hard truth.

Cut to going to SeaWorld with family friends who were visiting Southern California back in June, and being told I couldn't ride the roller coaster because the harness wouldn't lower enough. I was embarrassed in a way you will never in your life understand unless this very thing has happened to you. My weight and lack of control over it, slapped me hard in the face as I stood at the exit waiting for the friends who were riding the coaster. Humiliating doesn't begin to cover it. We were already planning our trip to Disneyland and I wanted to go home and cancel it that night. All I could think was "I'm too fat for Disneyland!"

I was assured there would be things to do other than ride the rides, and sure- there is tons to do in Disneyland beside the rides, but I wanted to enjoy my time at the happiest place on earth and enjoy the rides! I scoured the website looking for information about "riders of size" to see if there were warnings (like there were for SeaWorld that I so foolishly ignored in my denial). I couldn't find anything!

My next step was to tweet Disneyland and ask them if there was anywhere I could find information. That was embarrassing to type out! They tweeted me back to ask the "cast member" at every ride I was interested in. Reading that tweet, I think I had a panic attack! I was supposed to walk up to strangers, repeatedly, over the course of our three-day hopper pass, my head hung in shame, and ask them if they thought I would fit on the ride they were working on?

I figured when it came time to ride the rides I would look for how they secured you: was it a harness, a lap belt, or one of those lap bars? If it was a harness, I would just pass. If it was a lap bar, I would probably do the same!

Our first day at the parks, we had early entry into California Adventure! The first ride we saw was Mater's Junkyard Jamboree- it's like the teacups, but you're being towed in a cart, and the cart is fish tailing back and forth behind Mater. The park was pretty empty, so I nervously asked the gal at the entry to the ride if there was a weight limit, and if she thought I would fit. She looked at me like I just asked if I could eat her ear for breakfast. She assured me I would be ok, and I was.

Next was the Radiator Springs Racers! We stood there trying to see the cars whiz by to see how people were secured. We just couldn't get a good enough view. There were about 6 cast members standing at the entry to the ride and I knew I would have to ask one of them, but they were mostly fit guys. Great. Fatty would have to ask about fitting on a ride from a male who was in shape. I almost cried at the thought of it! So I nervously walked over and asked on of the guys who was super compassionate in assuring me I would fit. He then said "I've put two of Snoop Dogg's bodyguards on this ride, and they're about as wide as you and me put together- they're big boys! It was tight, but they fit- you'll be fine!"

We waited in line, I nervously approached the ride, I got into the back seat of the car, and... I fit.

Soon enough we came across an information stand and I figured instead of embarrassingly asking at every ride, I would just ask there if there were any rides throughout the parks he thought might be an issue for me. He was the kindest person, and assured me if there was a ride I wanted to go on, it would accommodate me. There were a few rides I still asked if there was a weight limit on (like Flick's Flyers and the next day before riding Dumbo the Flying Elephant), and every single time I was assured I'd be ok.
I was ok, on every single ride I went on. We didn't ride splash mountain (hello, there is nothing fun to me about walking around soaking wet), we didn't ride the roller coasters (mostly because Gene didn't want to), and the only ride I kind of wanted to go on but didn't want to chance was Jumpin' Jellyfish in California Adventure. I asked the cast member at the entrance if she thought I would be ok, she assured me I would be, but looking at it, it looked like it was going to be a TIGHT fit, so I skipped it.

I'm taking my SeaWorld and Disneyland experiences as motivation to live a healthier life and really focus on my journey without letting life sidetrack me. By the time I head to Disneyland Tokyo, I want my weight to be the last thing on my mind. I wanted to write about this first and foremost in my Disneyland recaps though, because it is the time for travel and vacations, and if you are out there and nervous about your own weight- take it from me, you'll be ok!

If you want to ask me anything about this trip and post, and don't want to in the comments, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at! If you do leave a question in the comments please make sure I can reply to you via e-mail, or leave your e-mail for me to get back with you! If you are headed to Disneyland, enjoy your magical time there!

Monday, July 28, 2014

We're Back From Disney

... And so the madness of our last week in America begins! I couldn't have picked a better spot to spend our last weekend in America if I had tried! Visiting Disneyland for the very first time was breathtaking, amazing, delicious, magical, complete madness, exhausting, and filled with fun times for great memories!
You can pick up YOUR first visit button at Town Hall in Disneyland, the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure, your Disneyland Resort hotel, or various shops throughout the park!
I went into Disney with a bucket list of a few things I wanted to do (try a dole whip, meet as many characters as I could, ride the teacups, get a caricature & silhouette done) and I'm super excited we crossed everything off the list! Gene pretty much just wanted to meet Donald, and he did, twice! Sure, there were things we didn't fit into our four days at the resort, but we were pleased with everything we did manage to do! Things we didn't even know we wanted to do, things we didn't even know there were to do!
At the iconic Walt statue in front of the castle

In front of It's A Small World
Sure, in the car home on Sunday we stopped and had that brief moment of "oh man, we didn't get our last dole whip!" and "Oh, you know what? We never made it back to Frontierland to ride that train thingy!" We did do so many things though:

  • We met tons of characters & got their autographs (including a few princesses and villains)
  • We had two Dole whips and a float! 
  • We rode the Pirates of the Caribbean and only stood in line for about 15 minutes thanks to Magic Hour (!!!)
  • We rode the carousel in Disneyland but completely forgot to ride the one in California Adventure (Ariel themed!)
  • RIDE ALL THE RIDES! We didn't ride them all, but we rode more than I thought we would! 
  • We saw The Dapper Dans and several other "street" performances.
  • I got my picture taken with a character randomly roaming the streets (Burt, from Mary Poppins)!
  • We got our first timer buttons and a few others.
  • We saw the World of Color, the fireworks show, and Fantasmic!
  • WE CRUISED! We took the Mark Twain Rivers of America cruise, the Jungle Cruise, It's A Small World cruise, the Storybook Land cruise, and the Pirates of the Caribbean cruise!
  • We survived the Ferris Wheel in California Adventure!
  • We took in a show or two or three (Bug's Land, Muppets, Lincoln, and Soarin' Over California).
  • I took selfies with Princesses at lunch one day, and we took selfies with characters at brunch another! 
  • We ate well, but didn't over do it!
  • We shared a quiet & romantic dance to my favorite Disney song!
  • We people watched! Disneyland just might be the best place in the world to people watch! There are multiple languages being spoken at any given time all around you, kids so excited to be there, adults so excited to be there, and couples in love everywhere you turn! 

At the end of it all we felt something like this little princess:

I can't wait to figure out how to get our photo pass plus pictures downloaded, add them to our more than 1,000 pictures from our camera, go through and pick my favorites, get our household goods delivered and start scrapbooking this amazing weekend. We may have been running very, very late for this charming date, but I'm so glad we got it in! Look out for all of our adventures coming around on the blog throughout (probably) the next several months!

Friday, July 25, 2014

... And We're Off (To Disneyland)

I am so excited that this weekend is the weekend we picked to stay at the Disneyland Resort in California! I've been planning this weekend for what seems like month, although really, we threw it together kind of last minute! If you've been following along on Instagram (@theyoungretiree), you'll know we arrived at the resort yesterday! What better way to spend our last weekend in America than at the happiest place on Earth?

Today, I'm sharing what we're taking into the parks with us while we're here! We've got a 3-Day Hopper pass, which means we can jump from Disneyland over to California Adventure, and back again! We're also doing two character dining experiences (Goofy's Kitchen and Minnie & Friends). So we've got quite a bit packed into our four days at the resort!  
I don't know about you, but I pretty much hate walking around with a purse, because I cram a bunch of stuff in there and then it's too bulky under my arm. To solve this, we are using drawstring back packs! Mine is the pink one and Gene's is the blue one!
First and foremost: SUNSCREEN! With one afternoon spent poolside and three days spent wandering around the parks, we're going to be lathering it on! We got the sport kind, which we use hiking, and we really like!

Second most important: EARS! Gene didn't want ears, so he has his Donald hat, and I've got my Minnie Mouse ears! They obviously will be on our heads, and not in our bags!

Next up is a photo case with markers and cards for CHARACTER AUTOGRAPHS! I've worked on them and made them a little prettier than plain cards! I picked up a cheap plastic case to tuck them in so the wouldn't get bent and messed up in our bags!

In my bag I have my PENNY PRESS COLLECTION BOOK WITH CHANGE! I went to the bank and got a few rolls of quarters and pennies so we would be sure to have enough for the penny press machines! What a fun scavenger hunt souvenir!

Lastly, JELLY BELLY! These are more for aesthetics than anything else! I don't know that we'll take them into the park or if we'll just nibble on them poolside and during downtime in the room!

I will also have my little tech wallet with me to hold my cards, cash, and phone! I'm so excited to experience Disneyland for the first time and enjoy the happiest of places with Gene before we leave for Okianwa! We're planning simple souvenirs: silhouettes and caricatures and plenty of pictures! They'll be coming to the blog over the course of the next few weeks, I'm sure!  

Content The Young Retiree | Design Poppiness Designs