Saturday, November 15, 2014

My Thankful Hearts Swap Reveal

Krystal and Cami are two women behind the blog Simply Girly, who organize a monthly swap! This month, I decided to join in on the fun with a pretty beautiful group of women on Instagram who participate! The theme for it was the Thankful Hearts Swap where we swapped thank you notes and a journal! I'm all about this entire concept of writing thank you notes to people who are so seldom thanked and immediately thought about the Gate Guards who protect our bases, those who work in the military post offices who are seldom thanked for getting us our precious goodies, and so many others!
Thank you notes are kind of hard to find out here in Okinawa though! I did my best, and shared some from my personal collection along with some fun Japanese stationery! I packaged it on up and sent it on out to my partner Rhiannon! Nothing could have prepared me for the package I received from her though! I mean, wowzers, it was beautiful from the very moment I opened it up and I was in tears by the time I had unwrapped everything.
It's been a hard week. A week where I've been trying to keep myself from playing the "my life is so hard!" card and "military life is so unfair!" card! A week where everything I thought I knew about deployments and TDYs and exercises was proven wrong. If you're a military spouse- you've had this kind of week. This package came at just the right time and I will always be so thankful to a complete stranger who took the time to put her heart and soul into a beautiful package for me!
 She jazzed up some beautiful craft note cards! They are a gold, cream, tan themed set featuring chevron, polka dots, and houndstooth! She then embellished them with bakers twine, ribbon, bows, and tags! They are simply stunning- there's just no other word!
 I also received a beautiful spiral bound journal with the cutest little owl on it and some glittery gel pens to stick with the theme of the package!
And then, I cried! After following Rhiannon on instagram for a few weeks, I can already see she's an incredibly talented crafter & can sew some of the most beautiful things! She included a little make-up pouch filled with goodies! Lotion, gold washi tape, chocolate, tic tacs, gum, lip balm, hand sani, and a cute little tissue pack cover! The fabric on the back of the case is all the same blue bamboo fabric that makes the star on the front!
This day- this day has possibly been the worst day in the history of days. This little box filled with love, and kindness, and such beautiful generosity made it not nearly as bad, and offered me such warmth and light in such a nasty moment in my life. I can't wait to write my thank you notes, and I think the first one is going to be to Rhiannon, I'm sure she'll never understand what this package meant to me today, but I'm sure going to try to tell her!

If you want to participate in future Simply Girly Swaps, make sure you follow the Simply Girly Blog on Instagram!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Embarrassing Birthday Tale

No, it's not my birthday, or a birthday tale related to me in any way, at all, but it has to be shared. It's about someone who is celebrating a birthday this week- a big milestone birthday. I will share this embarrassing story with you all now, because enough time has passed for me to find the humor in it, and well, in honor & in celebration of Leonardo DiCaprio's 40th birthday...
The year was 1996, I had just turned 12, and Romeo + Juliet was about to hit the box office as I flipped through the Bop Magazine Nan sent me for more pictures of the man I would one day marry, "MY Leo!" My wall was covered with his beautiful face. I would scour through Tiger Beat and Bop and I think there was one other. Jonathon Taylor Thomas was all the rage and there was another kid all the girls were gaga over... I can see his face but can't remember his name. Anywho- None of the girls in school had quite heard of Leo just yet- they must not have seen his previous work as I had!

I was doodling "Elizabeth DiCaprio" on the daily! I dreamed about growing up and somehow him choosing me as his wife! We would live a quiet life somewhere although we would be ridiculously fantastic people and everyone would know us. I don't know- things 12 year old girls think of, about boys, I thought about Leonardo DiCaprio.
And, he was kind of a bad boy back then!
Romeo + Juliet was a hit, and some of the girls in my small town started wondering who this Romeo was, but didn't really get too into him. Thank God, because he was mine.

BUT THEN: frickin' Titanic came along and all of the girls in the entire world became obsessed with *MY* Leo. I will never forget the day I was sitting in language arts class, eighth grade, having just turned 13 two months prior to the Titanic opening, and one of the girls told me I couldn't grow up to marry Leo, that she was going to! WHAT?!?

I've yearned for our future, I've loved him longer than any of these girls! I appreciated him before Rose came along! Now, suddenly some popular girl liked him and I had to take down my shrine to him in my bedroom? I don't think so!

I cried. I'm not even kidding. In my 8th grade Language Arts class, as she told me I couldn't have him, I cried. As she ripped my composition notebook out of my hands and ripped up my LD+EK inside of hearts doodles and Elizabeth DiCaprio signatures, I wailed! It was all very dramatic. I'm sure I even yelled through sobs something to the effect of "if I can't have him, nobody can have him!" as I pulled her hair, or something overly dramatic.

I went on, secretly knowing that at some point in my life, Leonardo would be in my town, or vacationing in Virginia Beach the same time I was, or visiting my college campus, and our eyes would meet, and he would see something in me that he hadn't seen in other women. He would talk to me and whisk me off. I'm not even kidding you- into my adulthood I believed there was a chance for me and my first love to connect.
To this day, I think I would run off with him if by any chance, he would ever want to sail off into the sunset with me. I still buy the gossip magazines if he's in them, except I'm not plastering them all over the walls- I don't think Gene would go for that. But, I mean, I just don't see how Gene could blame me for leaving him to be with Leo, hahahaha. Ok, it's not that bad anymore, honestly.

Cheers to him, to 40, and to Okinawa vacationing, wink, wink?!

Spill it- who was your childhood crush?
Was it nearly as dramatic as mine?

*Obviously, all pictures are from Google.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Birthday, Marines // My First USMC Birthday Ball

When we moved to Okinawa, we knew there was a good chance we would be heading to the United States Marine Corps birthday balls as well as the Navy birthday balls. There are something like 30+ Marine Corps Balls on Okinawa this year- broken down by where you work, or your rank. Since Gene works with the III MEF, we were invited to the III MEF Officer's & SNCO's Birthday Ball this year. It was my first USMC Ball, and I was a little more than nervous to be in a room filled with Marines for their very special night!
In case you didn't know, Marines can be a little intense and intimidating, and their birthday is something celebrated very seriously and proudly! I was a little scared we'd be seen as the interloping outsiders, but we were welcomed into their birthday celebration with open arms, warm handshakes, and cheerful "happy birthday!" greetings!

The ball was held at the Butler Officers' Club on Camp Foster, Okinawa. Upon walking in we were greeted with this behemoth of a cake. Again, the Marines take their birthday celebration seriously!
From what I understand it's the same cake, every year, at every ball, in the entire world! This one, of course, was just Styrofoam covered with icing and used ceremoniously and for show. The ball wasn't just a formal event, but there was a program rich with tradition and executed with the precision only Marines could have! We found our table in the ballroom first thing so we knew where to go when it all started! Seats at this ball (and I guess every USMC Ball, from what I'm hearing) were assigned. We found our table and our place cards, and socialized a bit before the ceremony started.
Inside the black box at everyone's place was the favor for the year, provided by MCCS. Way to blow the Navy fight out of the water, Marines! We each took home a wine stopper with the EGA, which we'll probably display in a drained bottle of Jarhead Red, a Marine labeled wine! Not only is it massive, but it's pretty heavy too... Heavy, like, this could be a weapon in a home version Clue dinner party!
We were near the III MEF Band, so I was able to snap a quick picture of them before the event started! If you've never had the privilege and honor of hearing a Marine Corps Band, you're missing out. They played throughout the ceremony and were so on point! The emotion they are able to convey with simple notes blew my mind!
Before dinner and dancing, there was the ceremony, the Birthday Message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps! It was motivational, inspirational, and brought tears to my eyes!
After the birthday message, the guest speaker was introduced and gave another emotional, motivational, and inspirational talk. Lt Gen Steele, USMC, Retired came all the way back to Okinawa, where he celebrated his first Marine Corps Birthday at 18, on his way to Vietnam as an enlisted Marine. He passed on 11 college football scholarships and the opportunity to play professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals to serve our country. He spoke about his experience in country, how he was meritoriously promoted on the battlefield, and the brothers who were there with him. When he returned home from that deployment, he was offered an appointment at the US Naval Academy, which he turned down since midshipmen are not allowed to be married. He wanted to marry his high school sweetheart, who waited for his return from the war, since he was the only one in his platoon to not receive a "Dear John" letter while deployed.

He was offered the opportunity to go through the Marine Officer Candidate School, which he took. At the age of 20, he became the youngest Marine to be commissioned. He talked about Staff Sergeant Taylor, who was his mentor while in school. LtGen Steele worked under Taylor before his attending, and the two formed a friendship, mentoring each other from their own skill set. SSgt Taylor mentored him on leadership and he mentored Taylor on being on the battlefield. He shared that when he was commissioned, he received his first salute from Taylor, and asked him for any last minute advice before they went their separate ways. "Do your duty." That was all SSgt Taylor said to him, and yet all these years later, here he was in Okinawa, telling us about it. It was powerful, and something every single person at the ball could walk away with.

We were fortunate enough to get our picture taken with LtGen. Steele before we left the ball, with a few other couples from our neighborhood who attended the ball with us!
This night was one of those nights that I hope I remember forever. The amazing people we got to share it with, being welcomed into the Okinawa Marine Corps family with such open arms, and celebrating such a special day with the men and women of the Corps was by far one of the most moving events of my life to date! I'm looking forward to the others I'll get to experience while on this island as Gene serves alongside some amazing Marines!

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Things You See in Japan, Kokusai Street Novelties // Possibly NSFW

There were certainly some interesting sights down in Naha when I went to Kokusai street with the NIOSC gals last week! Things you'd never really see in America... at least not right there on the street, ready and waiting to be seen! I'm going to get right to the point with no teasing here: I'm talking about brightly decorated condom boxes and penis and vagina cookies.
The smallish, English writing is rather grabbing: "Stop AIDS Condom"
This is a box with a condom in it... or maybe a few? That is a goya wearing the condom- it's the national vegetable of Okinawa- you can fix it several different ways but it is bitter. We tried it once, in a fried rice at Okinawa World, and didn't care for it. I'm off topic though. These were sitting right on the display at the street. The shops were all open and it was just there. It'll cost you about $5. Best stocking stuffer ever?!
We were looking at all the boxes wondering what everything was and picked these little gems up next! One of the girls with me said "well that's awfully phallic!" I picked it up and looked a little closer and said "Yeah, because it's a penis winking at a vagina!" My friend Jes, who lived in mainland Japan when her husband was stationed there, said she bought these- they were cookies! Again, they'd cost you about $5 and I think they'd be worth every yen to see the face of the recipient, hahaha!

I think when Gene and I make our way down to Naha we're definitely going to have to buy them, and then they will get their very own page in our Okinawa scrapbook.

I was a little torn about them being on display right there, front and center, but I suppose that's a post for another day filled with heated debate and my views on not treating our private parts like they're something to be ashamed of, and teaching our children to openly discuss things such as safe sex, STD prevention, and what goes where... but I'm not a parent, so I have never had to worry about that.

Oh, the sights you see in Japan...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Our First Okinawa Halloween

Halloween just might be my favorite time of year. I love decorating for it, celebrating it with Gene, and enjoying a nice relaxing evening inside handing out candy to trick or treaters. I always have. While we were in Fallbrook though, we never got any trick or treaters on our street, so we kind of got out of the habit. This year, friends were buying hundreds of dollars worth of Halloween candy and planning on running out, and I wasn't exactly looking to be candy poor, so we were second guessing how much we enjoyed handing out candy. We were going to go away for the weekend to celebrate our anniversary, but that got nixed when we found out there was a retirement ceremony that day and possibly a party that night!

We ended up staying home and celebrating with our little cul-de-sac friends, and I couldn't have asked for a better night!
Our cul-de-sac friends... waterlogued :D
We started around 5pm with a little group cookout/pot luck! Basically, bring some meat for yourself and a side to share with everyone else! I took two of my world famous dishes to share: buffalo chicken dip and jello shots.
I haven't made jello shots since college, so I was a little nervous about them between my fridge smelling like a vodka distillery and trying one of the last ones I made just before heading down to the party! WOO! They were much stronger to 30 year old Elizabeth than they ever were to early 20's Elizabeth! I thought I would for sure end up bringing a bunch back upstairs to throw away. I was shocked when all 100 were gone before 9pm. Winning!

We did have a little bit of candy to hand out, but we failed Halloween in Okinawa... hard. I thought it would be neat to hand out Japanese candy to all of the kids o base, so I began buying a few bags before I realized the gates were open to local nationals who were obviously wanting American candy! Third and fourth graders from local Japanese schools were bused onto base to be allowed to trick or treat! The look on their faces when they realized we were giving them Japanese candy was heartbreaking! It was fun to see them all though! They were crazy polite and all of them were in such creative and fun costumes! I only got one picture before it got dark, but I love it:
This was our very first set of trick or treaters! They politely said "trick or treat" and thank you. That poor little Minnie Mouse is realizing she did not just get the sought after American candy she came trick or treating for. Next year, little girl! We'll get it next year! Also, the local children LOVED seeing the American adults dressed in fun costumes! We had a minion and a power ranger in our cul de sac that they went bananas over! Looks like I won't be slacking in that area next year either! I'm thinking Hello Kitty?

The night continued through trick or treating to hanging out and celebrating with the Banyan Tree Bunch! If I've said it once, I'll say it a million times before we move... I couldn't have asked for better neighbors and I'm so blessed to be living where we are!

PS: I've been a horrible blogger- slacking on taking pictures at events and outings! Too busy living to capture it, but I'm working on it, haha!
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