Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catching up with Christmas

Wow!  Where did the year go??!?  It took me a good chunk of time to blog about our big trip for the year to Vietnam and Thailand, and you're probably wondering what we've been up to since then!  The past couple of months sure have been a whirlwind - it seems like Matt and I haven't been out doing too many new things around Okinawa lately, but there has been a lot going on.  Let me catch you up...

In November, Matt took another dive course and became a Rescue Diver.  From what he told me of the class, it wasn't super easy, and he was tested on emergencies in and out of the water.  Becoming a Rescue Diver is something Matt has wanted to do for awhile now, so I'm glad he got the chance.  Since taking the course, he has also decided to work toward becoming a Dive Master and eventually, an actual Dive Instructor as a side job.  As I write this post, he is currently out assisting a new Open Water class as they have their first dives in the ocean - he's been doing this almost every weekend since starting this training - all as a part of working toward Dive Master.  He has also been busy many nights of the week lately, going to classroom and pool classes for the new divers as well.  He basically has to go back through all of his previous classes and assist until he knows the material and skills well enough to teach a class all on his own.  It is pretty much a self-paced training to get Dive Master, and once he gets that, he is able to work toward becoming Dive Instructor!

Later that month, we celebrated Thanksgiving.  Matt and I had a few single Marines from his shop who had nowhere else to go over for dinner and games.  The guys seemed to really enjoy themselves, and as much as I truly miss being with family on Thanksgiving Day, this type of celebration has become normal for us.  Even when we lived in California, Matt and I never came home for Thanksgiving as we were coming home the next month for Christmas.  We haven't been home for Thanksgiving in five years in fact.  Someday... ;)

Our table
We forgot to take a "before" photo, but here was the "after"... oh, did I mention that we had a 21 lb. turkey?
Shortly after Thanksgiving, I left my job at the bank after working there for almost two years.  I had started working as a teller just to get out of the house soon after our first Christmas in Okinawa.  I ended up getting a small promotion and moving to the back offices of the bank where I worked as an operations representative for the past 7 months.  One of my best friends who also used to work at the bank with me, Lyndsey, had gotten a job earlier this year at a home decor and furniture store on one of the bases called, Navy Fleet Gift Shop (or NFGS).  She loved it there, and I've always shopped there, but they never had any openings as their staff is only 4 main girls who run it.  Well, they had a sudden opening for their Buyer position, and because I love the store, get along well with the girls who work there, and have a love for and background in Interior Design, I was hired!  The NFGS is a not-for-profit store that gives all its proceeds to charities for the military and around Okinawa.  They also get all of their items they sell in the stores from countries around Asia, and my job as the Buyer is to take "buy trips" to those countries and shop for a week or so straight!  It's going to be a lot of work, but I know the job is going to be perfect for me, and I'm going to really enjoy it - and enjoy my last year and a half living in Okinawa!  I met some great people at the bank, but it really was the right time to move on and do something closer to my career field.  I already have two buy trips planned for early 2012 - Thailand in January and India in February!  I am really looking forward to the challenge and opportunities this job is going to bring!

Beautiful flowers my Community Bank co-workers got me on my last day

And then there was Christmas - more of a week for us than just a day!  We spent Christmas Eve basically lounging around the house, and then went to church in the evening for Christmas Eve service.  We ended the night by getting some Starbucks and heading back home where we opened our gifts to each other. 

Our living room on Christmas Eve
Christmas Ornament from last year when we were home in Chicago

Christmas morning, Matt and I had blueberry pancakes and opened a bunch of gifts from my family:



Later Christmas Day, we went over to our friends Nick and Amanda's house for a 3-course fondue dinner and dessert which was delicious and a ton of fun!  Our friend Lyndsey came over as well (her husband, Andrez, is deployed in Afghanistan right now) and she made a delicious baked brie appetizer that I love!  We also did a gift exchange and spent the night playing a couple of games that literally had us almost dying of laughter!  It's always hard to be away from family on Christmas, and we've never spent a Christmas with just friends before, but we have been really blessed with some amazing friends here in Okinawa, and it turned out to be one of my favorite Christmases - I can't wait for next year!  

Nick being dramatic with the tomatoes and Amanda pretending not to notice

Our cheese and tomato fondue appetizer

Brutus being silly

Matt and I

Chocolate dessert fondue.... Mmmmm!

Amanda, Lyndsey and I

The girls trying to lift me up LOL

Love these girls!

Our celebration didn't end there - we got some more gifts just a couple days later in the mail:

My main Christmas gift to Matt - his new welder

Gifts from Matt's parents

A lot has happened in the past few months, but we've had an amazing end to our year, and we are so excited about what is to come in 2012!  Thank you to all of our family and friends for making our Christmas wonderful even though we are far from home - you all mean so much to us!



  1. Yay to working with me and spending Christmas together!! It has been a crazy couple of months and will only get crazier!

  2. That's so exciting about your new job, perfect fit for you!! And bonus you gt to travel more! I'll Matt be able to go with on these buy trips and if not will anymore or do you go alone....
    We missed you guys for Christmas, just not the same... But glad you had a nice one!

  3. Always said the job is perfect for you...the three things you love most to do...

    Job was made for you:)

    So happy you and Matt have found such real friends. Love you