Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Update on us. Flying home today.

We leave for the airport at 1pm today. It's 11:46am here now. Hopefully I can jot down everything real quick. If anything is spelled really off or anything I'll fix it after I get back home this evening or if I'm too tired I'll fix it tomorrow. So just in case...forgive me if anythings way off. I am in a bit of a rush now. So where was I.....Wow 15 days later. Anyway let me catch up with you all real quick. Noboru had given me.... given the exchange rate, about $1100.00 US. And two of the family credit cards, which I didn't use. And he said, this isn't much since we have no idea how long you'll be gone. But it's a start. I said...no no it's plenty. And with great sadness we quickly left to the airport. We quickly got our tickets and before you know it, he hugged and kissed us all and we were going through the TSA. We caught the escalator down and through immigration we went and to our gate. In the airplane. There was a family to the left of us flipping through a Guam vacation book. A group of boys 3 rows ahead of us, a school trip perhaps? About 8 boys total, so who knows, could be just friends on a trip, they looked about 18 years old 20 years old tops though. Meanwhile both Branden and Noah slept the whole flight. And I stood awake. Just thinking. Feeling sadness for Japan. Missing my husband already. Sort of feeling shell shocked. We arrived and met up with my dad. It was late. I hadn't eaten all day or on the flight. So we went to Denny's. The kids happily ate their kids meals. And I meanwhile told my dad all about the earthquake. All about the food shortages. The damage of the city nearest us. Just everything. I ate half of my omlette and potatoes and toast. And we left. Everyone went to sleep.
If this trip was just that...a trip. I think I would have enjoyed my 15 days with a light heart. The fact that this wasn't really a trip. This was more an evacuation. So, I didn't enjoy myself as much as I would have under normal circumstances. The truth is....at least 90% of Noboru's coworkers evacuated their wives and kids someplace. Most of them who are from Osaka or far away from this area sent them there. So many of his coworkers sent their families to Hokkaido, Okinawa, About 5 at least we know sent their families to other family members in Osaka. And still. We know of at least 2 of his coworkers who sent their families to Hawaii. In fact the roommate of Noboru's, Yusaku. He sent Keiko and their 2 kids to Honolulu immediately he rented a condo for them right away. I think they left Japan the day after we did. And they'll be there until April 4th, I think. Yusaku is flying down there to pick them up fly back with them and bring them back to Japan. A few of Noboru's coworkers went to Guam same as us. Basically all of Delta sent their families out whether to other places in Japan or overseas. The day I flew out. We called Jun. We asked Jun if he wanted to send my SIL S and my niece M with me at my dad's house. They said no thank you. That she wanted to stay. And that was okay. At least we asked. She's my sister in law though and I do love her and my niece, so that's why we asked. Noboru said, try not to be sad. Try to enjoy your time and let the kids have fun. And just take a load off. A place with no power outages and food shortages. Where the kids can just go back to being kids for a while. I agreed. The next morning, we had breakfast at my dad's condo and then we left. We went to the morning matinee, I think it started at 10:30am. We watched Rango. It was funny. The first showing of the day is only $5 for any age. So we took advantage of those first showings of the day. After Rango. We had lunch and then we looked at the movie section from the paper and realized at the other movie theater, the first show of the day started at 1:50pm. So, since we really had nothing else to do. And with it being just $5. We drove the short distance to the next theater. And went to see, Mars Needs Mom's.
This one was in 3-D.
Inside the movies, we saw the poster to the upcoming movie for this Summer. The Smurfs! I will watch this...this Summer for sure. I can't wait.
On the way out of the movies we took a stop for some cupcakes.
One chocolate cupcake for each of the boys. This bakery makes some delicious stuff. They baked Noah's birthday cake when he was 1 year old. It was so good.
The boys ate their cupcakes in the car on the way to the beach. After watching 2 movies that day. A nice walk along the beach was right in order. Both Branden and Noah started collecting shells. And so we had made a plan to spend the entire day the next day at the beach. So, we went to Kmart and bought some snorkeling gear for the next day.

Looking for shells.
After getting some snorkeling gear from Kmart we decided to take a drive all over the island.
So the next morning, we all woke up early. And at 7:30am we decided to go and have breakfast at Wendy's. With chocolate milks and breakfast the kids filled up.
And so did my dad and I.
And there we got us a spot. And from 8am to 2:30pm we spent the entire day there.
Noah and Branden collected so many different sea shells.
They also drank some fresh coconut milk. We also had some Vitamin waters to drink as well. After an entire day spent at the beach. The kids were starved and...we went back to my dad's condo. And the boys showered in our shower in my room. And my dad meanwhile showered in his shower. Having 2 showers definitely speeds things up. : ) Then I showered and we all got dressed and we decided to go and have some lunch at the mall. Swimming that long makes a person really hungry.
I had KFC, 2 pieces of white meat original recipe and mashed potatoes and mac and cheese and a biscuit. That peanut butter pie was for the boys to split. They love peanut butter. And that strawberry shortcake was for me.
Branden is now eating an adults combo from Taco Bell. He had the 3 tacos and soda combo.
Noah got a kids meal plus 1 extra taco. He was so hungry too from all the swimming.
After 3 tacos, Branden was still hungry. So he had chili cheese fries from Taco Bell. He can now eat the amount of food Noboru eats. ; ) But again he swam so much no wonder.
Hmm, it was 4pm, what to do. My dad suggested a movie. Yeah that'll keep our minds occupied. And keep us busy so that sounds like a good idea. So we went.
They sell Vitamin Water at the movies. So I had that.
Every day, we spoke on Skype with Noboru. We emailed about twice a day. Both Branden and Noah missed him so much. "daddy, I miss you, I wish you were here" Noboru would say "I know I wish I were there too, but if I left how would the other families be able to leave and fly out?" "I need to stay here so other families like you and mommy can safely leave" I know daddy, I understand" : ( Noboru reads the boys a bedtime story about 3 times a week and I read them a bedtime story about 4 times a week. They greatly felt the absence of Noboru. And again it wasn't like we all happily went on vacation. This was something entirely different. After the kids would go to sleep. I'd sit on the skype phone, Noboru and I looking at one another on a flat screen. Talking about...radiation levels. Water safety, gas shortages, food shortages. How many earthquakes he's felt since the previous day. How many power outages they've had. Noboru told me...I've been sleeping in Branden's room. I asked...why? He said. "Because our beds too big and too lonely to sleep in there alone, so while you're gone I prefer sleep in Branden's room" Okay....I understand. : ( Me sitting on the phone one night crying..telling my husband. I should be there with you. Our wedding vows said...for better or worse. I wanna be there with you. Noboru saying...no be logical. This isn't about us...it's about our kids! Watching each others faces and me sobbing on skype...I know...I know. The simple fact is...I married my best friend. He really and honesly is my best friend is the whole world. And I'm his. And like I said. It wasn't an easy thing or choice. Noboru was happy because he felt his duty was to protect us. Same as his coworkers did. So while he missed us and couldn't even sleep in our bed. He was happy we were safe. Meanwhile, I felt greatly conflicted. I think that's why we kept so busy. I asked my dad one morning while the boys were asleep. "dad if you were still married to my mom, and this same exact thing happened, would you leave her?" he said....no. My dad also added, but Gina...you did the right thing. Think about the boys. So, yeah....this wasn't like we had this happy nonstop laugh of a time. The boys I made sure had fun, didn't think about the troubles in Japan. I meanwhile felt conflicted inside. And being without my husband, I felt like I had this whole in my heart. Like something was missing. I wish to god this was just a little vacation. Just going on Spring break. It just didn't feel that way.
In the morning, the kids woke up, we made breakfast at home that day. And we spent another entire day at the beach. After a day or two, the kids started to stop worrying so much about Japan. And started to just be kids again. And that was what we wanted. Once while we were there like the day after we got there, Branden had asked me..."mom are my friends going to die?" I said imediately...no! They will be fine. It was that worry and question that made me glad we were in Guam. For the rest of the trip we really didn't speak about anything related to the problems in Japan around the boys. Though we spoke nonstop about it while they slept. My dad and I would speak about it when the kids went to sleep. Or Noboru and I would speak about it after the boys went to sleep. But we wanted them to be somewhat shielded from it. So in that aspect us being there was the right thing to do.
Noah just being a carefree kid. He really needed it.
Branden too.
Guam on the other hand. Was doing so much to help Japan. In one day they had collected over $50,000 dollars. They were raising so much to help the ones in Tohoku. And other areas. I saw on the American news how much help and aid the US mainland was doing too. Actually all over the world. That was the good that came from this...if there is anything positive to say. I would say the help from others was amazing. I donated $50 to the American red cross for Japan in Branden X's name and another $50 in Noah X's name. I wish it were more. But it felt good to make those donations.
Another day we went to the swap meet/flea market.
Island bananas.
See that orange hat hanging on the right of this picture? I bought that for $3.
So many fruits and things that are from Guam that the kids and I've never seen.
After the swap meet, we went and picked up some Easter things for the boys. I mean after a while I sort of decided, no matter what my sadness is. I still have to move on. To live. My dad had kept asking me. The few times before we were at Kmart. Are you sure you're not going to get the kids some Easter stuff? Nah I'd say. And after like the 3rd time of saying nah not now. My dad waited to tell me after the boys went to sleep one night and he said. What happened and what you went through was bad, but you can't stop celebrating Easter because of it. You can't stop being like before. You were one of the happiest persons I ever known. You got to go back to being like you. That twinkle in your eye...that seeing the positive in everything. You need to get back to that. My dad is able to tell me things...most people couldn't get away with and I slept on it that night. And yeah.....that following day, after the swap meet. We went to Kmart. And I sort of started living again. I didn't want to walk around feeling glum anymore. Or thinking about all that was lost for so many. I know for my own families sake. I needed to live and smile. And so for my families sake. I had to shake whatever sadness I was feeling since 3-11. It's not like I wasn't going to feel sadness for those that were hurt and loss so much, I still feel it. But I couldn't let it affect my own day to day life anymore. Do you know what I mean. And believe me...it was hard. I needed that push from my dad. And so for me...being here helped me too.
Another movie. The cheapness of the movie ticket prices. And the fact it was a nice cool place to spend 2 hours. Because Guam is a hot tropical island. Plus the boys are fluent in English and Japanese. So they understand the movie completely. I actually think and know they prefer English. So movies are easy for us.
Smiley kids. They sure did enjoy all the movies and all the days spent on the beach.
My birthday was March 22nd. My dad wanted to get me a cake. And I said no on the cake. It just did't feel right celebrating my birthday without my very best friend and husband. : ) So, we went out that night and had a birthdaydinner. And we celebrated. And enjoyed. And the kids laughed. My dad was amazing. He never runs out of enegry and he made us smile every day. He helped me out of my funk. He was greatly protective over us while we were there. He worried about us a lot. And helped us and kept us busy. Every night after the boys would go to sleep. My dad and I would watch TV. We'd watch crime shows like the First 48. Or Intervention on A and E. We'd be making commentary about the shows we were watching. Being here raised our spirits tremendously.
This is only a tiny bit of our movie tickets. As you can see, we also saw Paul. And I saw Hall Pass one morning by myself. OMG! That movie cracked me up. Being here with my dad sort of helped us all feel normal again. After all that we had been through. And the last movie we saw...was Diary of Wimpy Kid Roderick Rules. It started for us here in Guam March 26th and we saw it the first day it opened.

We're going back, because well our home is there. And so is Noboru who I miss terribly. Our town does not get water from anywhere. Our town has their own well and our water comes from there. And they've been monitoring the water for our town. And even still, we use bottle water anyway. I think things are looking better could be just wishful thinking. But for now we are going back. Granted if some huge thing happened we'd leave again. But for now, we miss home. Home is where the heart is and we really want to go home. The US Embassy says to be safe be 50 miles from the reactor. We live well and way over twice that. We will still be staying indoors and homebound for the most part. But by gosh, we want to go home. Yikes 12:15pm here. If we're going to quickly grab some lunch before the flight I have to publish this now. So much more to add, so many more things to say. But...I'll have to add more later.

After the quake

You know, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed but the horrible thing that happened on September 11th. And this was also on the 11th. March 11th. Anyway here are pictures of Narita city. This was just a day or two afterward the big earthquake. As you can see and I'll try to be as descriptive as possible too. But for the most part, Narita City is fine. In tack, all in one piece. Sure there were a few here and there pieces that could be fixed but as a whole, Narita city was all there.
Signs still up, buildings and houses etc.
Cars still driving down the road and as you can see the bus, buses still ran. Gas was in short supply all around here. But aside from that, it all looked pretty normal.
Taking the roads now to get myself to my town and you can see, the countryside still looked the same too.
I'm not locking or closing any of the pics down, you can double click if you like. Houses still standing. Different areas had different outcomes I know. And this is just info for you guys wondering about where we live and what affect it had on us.
Again rails alongside a road still up. And the rice fields/tanbo still look the same.
This is the housing community where I live and according to "the boy next doors mom" Our housing community when she spoke to a town official said our housing community had zero damage. That was a relief for us all here. We had a lot to be thankful for regarding that and we know that.
Now here is the sad part.....while our housing community went unscathed and our tiny town had a slight damage to one of the bridges and 2 of the roads could use a minor patch up but that was really it for the most part for our town. We felt really lucky. Meanwhile and this is quite sad. The city Noah goes to school in. Is a completely different story. It is very very badly damaged city. So many of the roofs on the traditional Japanese style houses were cracked, shattered and broken. They are those very heavy ceramic type roofs.
When we drove through the city it was hard not to notice the blue tarps placed on top to protect from rain. It's honestly heartbreaking.

The front of this persons home damaged.
Again a tarp covering to protect from the elements and for privacy I'm sure.
Also with so much broken in the city Noah's school is in. It also was very heart warming to see how everyone came together. How everyone basically banded together and help one another. This sign on the front of a Kimono shop reads basically..."they have well water and if you need some they'll share" It was these little human acts of kindness that made me feel proud to live here.
This was 2 short days after the earthquake. All the bigger cities had stories of food shortages and they were right. Even here in the countryside/inaka. Many of the grocery stores had very little. I'm lucky in the fact that if you read my blog you'll know it's a hobby of mine to run to different shops. Many small mom and pop shops, the big meat only type shops. The jimmy dean carrying shops etc. : ) I know every grocery in my area let's put it that way. I ran to 2 big stores and they were out of mostly everything. Putting my thinking cap on, my mind raced...where??? where??? Aha! My cheap veggie shop...that store is older then a bazillion years old...it's small. No huge signs. And sure enough I parked and food a plenty inside! Voila! Chicken brimming. And all other meats stocked. Fish and seafood a plenty. It was a virtual night and day from the 2 shops I went to before this one. I quickly made purchases. Keeping in mind....while I do stock up and buy my groceries once a week. All the fridge items were now kaput! Because of having no power...no electricity! So, while all the pantry items were fine. All the stuff in my fridge were now thrown in trash bags and we started from scratch. I wanted to buy some food but not tons of food because of the looming fear what if the power goes out again? And everything goes rotten all over again. So, I bought enough but not enough for a week.
I usually buy my meat at another store. A cheaper store for meat. But immediately after the quake and the power went on a few days after and the stores started opening. I was here at this store. And sorta stuck. Do, I NOT buy these costlier meats and push on and look for cheaper? But then what if the cheaper store has no meat at all, which was a real possibility. And then by the time I come back to this store they've sold out??? Then what. So yeah it was too much of a gamble. With the possibility of ending up with no meat at all. I bought this chicken instead. 2 big packs of chicken breasts.
A few things started selling out at this tiny shop even. So glad I went first thing in the morning.
While I was shopping, I saw the meat man restocking the meat so it was very few meats but not all sold out like how I saw on TV in the larger cities. Again though I live in the countryside, so there's less people here. Again this is our experiences only.
1 pack of toilet paper per family. I did not buy it. I had 40 rolls at home. And if I were to buy a pack when I didn't need it...what if someone else really needed it? Do you know what I mean? So, yeah...I passed on the TP. We had enough at home. What was in short supply here even in the countryside. Was milk, eggs and bread. And water.
This persons concrete wall completely obliterated! Just in a shambles.
The damage due to liquefaction in the small city Noah goes to school in, is sadly everywhere! I wonder and worry how long it will take them to recover. I know they will recover. And I know it's not nearly as bad as Tohoku. But it's still quite a sad site. Our tiny town had no liquefaction.

It's like mud rose from beneath and the whole sidewalk just disappeared.
Here near the back of the pic near the fence you can see sidewalk just bursting and broken. A cone in the middle of the street where a giant crack now lays straight down the middle of the road.
This road, I drove down once a week. This road to get to the local DIY or to meet my friends for Mr. Donuts before we'd hit a movie. This was our road we often drove on...and now look! Completely wiped out. Again the concrete smooth road totally vanished and erased from the face of the earth and now left in it's place....just muddy sludge. And rocks. It was like...where did the road go? It was here a few days ago! Just really hard to comprehend. I guess just a shock.
This was a ground...and now it looks like a car is sitting in a lake.

Cars totalled....roads erased! Again this is nothing compared to what they face in Tohoku. Of course. But wow! This was our closest city. How long will it take to rebuild.
This is the local DIY, the structure is now bent and ripped. Is it fixable? We hope so. Just extremely sad.
Look how parts of this road just rose and split.
A wiped out erased road. And the mud sludge aftermath.
So many of my friends...yochien mom friends. And the calling tree. Info sharing....which place has gas? The Jogo-san bless her heart had all the info on that. or... psst! Which store has food still? Pssst! This is when I was so thankful for my Japanese girlfriends. I shared as much infomation as I had as they shared with me. We helped each other and info shared tons during these first few days. Every shop I went or road I drove down, I gave them information..."the road is still there" or sadly many of.... "that road was wiped out" ...this store still has toilet paper" etc etc. My birthday was March 22nd. As usual we had planned to have a little small family thing. You know...Cappriociassa and some Baskin Robbins birthday cake. Yeah that wasn't gonna happen this year unfortunately, in fact I wasn't to be in Japan at all for my birthday unfortuantely. : ( But it was the site of seeing the BR shop...while we were at the tiny mall that had the BR cakes...the store all closed down and this pic...the icecream cakes all melted beyond repair behind that glass and you can see Noah's reflection. Just literally so much destroyed. So many plans called off. Yes we were blessed that we still had our lives and our home. But yeah wow! So many of us in Chiba....our lives thrown upside down for a while too. Being in the small city that Noah goes to school in...is really sad now. I want and wish for them to rebuild. I will shop there and put money into that little city as much as we can. Now heading back to my tiny town.....
Our town now....still looks completely undamaged. How can a tiny town be so lucky and yet our little city just 20 minutes away be such a different story? I really don't know the answer for it.
Going down a road to get myself into our housing community. All the roads as you can see are fine.
With two 2kg packs of chicken breast and 2 packs of thigh meat for Noboru. A pack of courry roux.
All the veggies we had survived the power outage but we bought a few extras anyway.
All these Hokkaido potatoes we had before the earthquake. About 6 lbs of potatoes. So we were fine food wise. Plus we did bring quite a good supply from California that I really haven't shown yet either. But we were fine.
They really were big bags of potatoes.
A case of oolong for Noboru.
I always sperate the meat and put a # of how many breasts in each...just makes things easier to find.
We also had about 5 pounds of sweet potatoes before the earthquake and I just steamed a batch every other day, so the kids munched those and Noboru loves them too. So we definitely were all set here food wise. Knock on wood. The gas stove still worked even without the power.
Power on the other hand was in short supply. So we often found ourselves without power. The TV would say your area will be without for 2 hours. So, this is when careful planning helped. I would make sure laundry was done before that "power off" time and baths and dinner would be done by then. And all would be fine. Noboru would be able to watch the news on his cell phone. And the kids could watch cartoons on the mini dvd.
One of our nights without power. We had dinner by candle light. Everyone was squeeky clean from the early showers. The kids and myself had teriyaki bowls. Noboru wanted some nabe type pot so he was enjoying that.
And after being without power for so many days you sort of get really good at thinking of ways to keep the flash light held up while everyone was still eating and so...you use a roll of toilet paper. ; )
It definitely made things a little brighter. It was the constant power outages. The food shortages. The gas shortages. And at that time, the beginning of the nuclear reactor problems that caused us to make the decision we did.

And here are the personal sides of the earthquake.

As you know...we live in a very tiny town. A town with about 4800 people in it. So yes smaller then the Andy and Mayberry town from the Andy Griffith Show. Our town has no fast food restaurants. Our town does not even have a yochien. Which is why Noah has to go to yochien (kindy) in the city closest us. Our town has 1 drug store and has 1 grocery store. Our town does boast 2 conveience stores though. ; ) Yep 2! ; ) If you are a junior high kid and want to hang out someplace...the junior high kids in our town head to the local Mini Stop. Woo how cool. Can you imagine the the coolest thing to do in your town would be to hang out at the local Circle K? I said Circle K to get a better idea for you in America or overseas. When Branden went to yochien the only 2 kids from our town that were in that yochien were Branden and Genki. That's it. And for now....the only ones who are from our town that go to that yochien are Noah and some other kid who rides the school bus. I am mentioning this fact because....

Everyone of Noah's classmates except the other kid who lives in our town. Is from the city that was badly damaged. That is how close this has all affected the ones we know. So many of Noah's classmates are without running water as of even right now! How are they taking baths, showering? Washing clothes, flushing toilets, brushing their teeth etc etc. Also...Noah had 2 best friends that I have blogged many happy stories about them playing and swimming at swim club together. A little boy named H and a little girl named S. S's family apparantly had a beautiful and gorgeous home and now because of the earthquake it's been pushed off it's base and moved so it's no longer livable. This mom is always smiling, is always so nice and lovely. It boggles the mind that this happened to them. This lovely family we know. And they are now living elsewhere. Renting someplace or what have you. That to me...is extremely sad. Sadder then you'll ever know. H's family (Noah very best friend) is still without water as most of Noah's classmates. The encho sensei and teachers had to walk all over the yochien to see if there was any structural damage to the yochien. No damage which is amazing considering how badly damaged that city is. But yeah....so many people we know are hurting right now. After we left to Guam and Noboru went to pick up Noah's things from the yochien for next semester. He said so many of the mothers were crying. These ladies. My friends. It honestly broke my heart hearing that. I think that feeling of helplessness. Was honestly why I was in such a funk when I arrived in Guam. And why I felt that great since of sadness for most of my first week I was there. I guess seeing how many people we love, like and know personally affected. Seeing the city so torn up. All the shortages...food, gas, water etc. It was just a lot to shoulder.

We have had the people of Tohoku in our hearts. And we've also had the people of the small city where Noah's yochien is in...in our hearts too. Sadder then you'll know. So unbelievably sad. Anyway that is our experience and I wanted to share it with you all. We are leaving back to Japan this afternoon. So, I am trying my hardest to get these posts up now. I put the pics up yesterday and am now trying to put in the words, the stories. The things I wanted to share with you all.