Friday, April 26, 2013


I gently nag pester ask Dustin to occasionally write his perspective on things. He always rolls his eyes and says "That's your thing". But sometimes there are adventures that I can't go on. And some of them sound so amazing! Suicide Cliffs, camping at Penny Lake, and four months of Texas/Okinawa experiences. Sigh, think of all that amazing food. (Okinawa, not Texas.)

Some of his adventures are not voluntary. Dubbed "mandatory fun", these events boost morale and promote camaraderie. Usually I think they look like tons of fun. Camping under the stars, field day events (tug-a-war, egg drops, etc), and a feast. What's not to love about that adventure?

Click for some mando-fun as reported by our Station's newspaper, because Dustin refuses to write.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Internet Friends

So I wrote about Facebook a few weeks ago. It quickly made the top ten for most viewed posts and continues to trend pretty well.

Nothing has changed, I still love Facebook. And am on it more than I should be.

Originally I wrote about reconnecting with old friends. While that has been swell, I find I am more excited by making new connections with people that were never really close friends. Where were you when I was in high school and college? We love the same things. And I take your comments, pins, and tweets on recommendations because I know they will be worth it.

Social media, and Facebook especially, gives us the freedom to be wider versions of ourselves. Although we never intentionally post the wider pictures.

Recently I reconnected with an old friend from middle school. I was fascinated to go through his diary (aka the Cliff Notes version through Facebook) to see the person he has become. My middle school friend is a completely different person now, albeit from my assessment, not a bad one. And he chose a career I never would have guessed from the assumptions made by the twelve year old version of myself.

And that again, is a reason I love Facebook. It continually changes my world view.

Now a bit of self-promotion:
I have been reading Tywkiwdbi for years. It is my favorite blog on the web and a daily spot for me to waste a half hour or so. So when he listed Tice Adventures as one of the "Best Personal Blogs of 2013" I pantsed my poop. Squee!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Lyrid Meteor Shower

Good morning all you amateur astronomers! In case you missed it, last night was the optimal viewing for the Lyrid Meteor Shower. Unfortunately, Iwakuni was a bit overcast so not much could be seen here. Hopefully you had better viewing weather.

The first time I remember actively viewing stars was for Pathfinders. I will admit that my eye sight was so bad at the time that I couldn't see anything under the big black sky. Today I remembered that feeling as I could not see anything through the gloom.

Dustin is a big fan of the Star Walk app. It has accompanied us many times when we walk Zero in the evenings.

As you are out catching the streaks across the sky, enjoy a little space music to get you in the mood. Fun fact: this was a serious contender for our wedding processional!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Honey Cream Nachos

For Dustin's birthday we visited an old haunt that has been off our radar for almost six months. For a while we were visiting Mike's Tex Mex on a pretty regular basis. Okay, I'm not sure how I never wrote about this restaurant, but I've searched through my posts and can't find anything. So let me back track.

There is this great little Mexican restaurant about a mile from the Main Gate. Some people hate it, but it reminds me of all the Mexican restaurants I've had in the past. Four steps up from Taco Bell, two steps down from Tijuana Tacos. So pretty tasty, but not totally authentic.

They do have amazing salsa. Like real salsa, not that watered down stuff we normally get served. And they have amazing orange margaritas. It is usually the go-to place for Girl's Night, Sayonara Parties, etc. Dustin and I went often because it forced us to walk three miles to enjoy cheap drinks and tasty food. Plus, with both of us being lactose intolerant we could toot our way home and not have to compete smells with Zero. Yes, you needed to know that.

But with our clean eating and the ban on alcohol off base we have stopped walking out to enjoy cheese covered greatness. Until a birthday rolled around. Now my family has a tradition of having homemade sopapillas on birthdays. Fill these fluffy pillows with beans, cheese, and vegetables. For dessert add some honey and powdered sugar. It is a tradition we both miss.

To try and recreate a birthday tradition in Japan we visited Mike's. The food was just as tasty as we remembered, but a new sign caught our eye.

This sounds horrible! Honey cream on nachos?! I'll admit. The little bee sold me. Okay, that and a little curiosity.

Our plate was filled with homemade chips, a small layer of queso, cream, and honey. Honestly, not too bad! I think it would have been better without the cheese, but the flavors worked well together. Surprisingly. Although, we won't ever get them again.

Friday, April 19, 2013


No, no. Settle back down. We are not making that announcement.

I have some pretty funny friends. One in particular cracks me up every time we talk. And she knows me so well.

Yes, glasses and a book. Maybe even a game controller.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

White Strawberries

Recently our station newspaper ran a short blurb about white strawberries. I am so intrigued to try these strange fruits. (Yes, I know Europe has them, but I've never seen them so to me they are exciting.) Unfortunately, I cannot find them anywhere!  Either way, I thought I would share the cultural significance of these odd berries.

White strawberries, also called hatsukoi no kaori, or "Scent of First Love" in Japan, are considered a sweet delicacy. They are in highest demand during spring and are showing up in more supermarkets in recent years. The strawberries are the result of creative minds at Miyoshi Agritech Co., who have been developing new varieties of strawberries for more than 20 years. Although the pale fruit looks unripe, their taste is amazingly sweet and rich. The color on the surface and the inside are white, but the seeds are red. They have become very popular gift items at weddings, birthdays and births. This craved fruit doesn't come cheap though. Average prices for the berry round to approximately 500 yen a pop. Source.
It may be too early in the season for them, but I shall keep a lookout. Additional research says they taste similar to a pineapple and are commonly called "pineberries." At 500 yen a piece ($5.55 at today's rate) they must be pretty spectacular.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mantis Shrimp

I laughed for twenty minutes straight. Found on Pinterest and followed to slowrobot.
Happy Tuesday.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kintai Half Marathon

I am not a runner. I don't look like a runner and I rarely feel like a runner. I have to work at it. And boy, have I been working for it. And the training (albeit, not enough) was worth it. I ran my first half-marathon!

Dustin stayed with me the whole trek. The course was laps (yes, gross) around the base. It was the ugliest run I have ever done. Construction projects, temporary dust walls, and gravel areas. I created an awesome playlist to make the miles go by. The worst was the wind. It was so windy! For half the race we were blasted by sea winds that made it hard to even hear music in my headphones. I ran behind Dustin for a bit so I wouldn't get the full force of it. It was pretty intense.

But we finished! And then hobbled the mile back home. :)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cherry Blossoms

Because they really are one of the most beautiful flowers ever.


And it's not a trip to Kintai without ice cream. I got salt (no surprise there) and Dustin got jalapeno! It had quite an intense kick and I felt like I had hot salt stuck in my throat! BLEH! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Last year I was anti-cherry blossoms (sakura) viewing. I forget why, but I think it was to pressure certain family members to come out here and enjoy them in person. Either way, we enjoyed them on base, but didn't participate in hanami, or "flower viewing."

The Japanese have sakura season down to a science complete with forecast calendars down to the day they will be ready to view. The cherry blossom has a storied past. Because of the stunning beauty and quick death, they are often associated with mortality and death. The flower representation of the samurai for being the first to arrive and the first to die.

In WWII, the sakura was used as propaganda to motivate the Japanese people. Cherry blossom images were often painted on planes or carried by Japanese soldiers on missions.

The image is immortalized on the 100 yen coin. Washington D.C. displays thousands of sakura trees that were gifts over the last century from the Japanese people.

In today's environment hanami is a time of celebration. Families will come together to view the blossoms. Coworkers will take an afternoon off to enjoy the quick-living blossoms. Often hanami celebrations include a picnic.

Recently my office had a hanami party. We brought a potluck picnic to the Kintai park and enjoyed the sakura.

The pictures really do not do the experience justice. The fragrant smell, the encompassing trees, the slight breeze... all make hanami a fantastic experience.

Friday, April 12, 2013


Everything you ever wanted to know about the Tice Adventurers.
  • We’ve been together for 9 years and married for 6.
  • We started dating when I was 17 and he was 20.
  • We’ve had 7 addresses in 7 years.
  • We have had 8 jobs, 3 careers and 7 cars.
  • We have 3 dogs, but miss 2. 
  • We laugh.
  • We do not fight often, but when we do, it’s a doozie.
  • There was 1 knife fight. 
  • We bicker constantly.
  • We laugh.
  • There has been 1 doozie that I though we wouldn’t make it.
  • There have been 9 years that we knew we would.
  • He is my best friend.
  • He makes me crazy.
  • We laugh.
  • We tell each other more than we should.
  • We have no privacy boundaries.
  • We rarely “talk about our day”.
  • I have zero interest in his job.
  • Where he is liberal, I am conservative.
  • Where he is conservative, I am liberal. 
  • We laugh.
  • He is incredible with children.
  • I am awkward with children.
  • He makes me crazy.
  • He thinks I’m crazy.
  • He’s not allowed to call me “crazy”.
  • We laugh.
  • We cannot play board games together.
  • We cannot be next to each other during card games. 
  • We can play most video games together.
  • I like good wine.
  • He likes liquor.
  • I’m smarter.
  • He has more sense.
  • He is a Marine.
  • I never thought I would be a Marine wife.
  • I handle all of our money. 
  • He thinks money grows on trees.
  • We have been financially comfortable.
  • We have been financially crippled.
  • We have been “poor” more often than not.
  • We laugh.
  • We are grateful for our opportunities.
  • We love our life.
  • We bicker.
  • We laugh.
  • We are lucky.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

AFN Spots

I love AFN. And I think everyone else who has lived overseas secretly does too. It's the best guilty pleasure. You try so hard not to laugh or be entertained. But eventually, after months of repeats, you find yourself singing along.  (I wrote about AFN when we first got here if you don't remember.)

This is my favorite commercial right now. I find myself screaming "Taskute! Kyu kyu Sha!" at random times throughout the day.

This one was made in Iwakuni. I loved Speed Racer as a kid. Plus it cracks me up that he shifts an automatic car.

Often they will take popular concepts and use them. Dustin and I often comment on copyright and trademark infringement.

If that wasn't enough just Search AFN Commericals on YouTube to find loads of homemade fun.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

A little Q&A

I've been collecting these questions from readers for a while but have never had the time to sit down and answer them all. So here are the answers to the questions you have sent me over the last year. (I'm sorry!)

What's the one thing you miss most about living in America?
Oh goodness, I only get to pick one? Family is a big one, and not just not seeing them, but being able to talk to them any time I want. With a 13-14 hour time difference you really have to plan it out. I also miss the convenience of stores like Target and having more than one store to go to if one is out of something. I do miss food sometimes. Cheap Mexican food, Steak ‘n Shake – yummy!

What's the one thing you love the most about living in Japan?
The food! I have said it many times, but once more won’t hurt. This country is a foodie’s paradise. We eat out often and have never had a bad meal. There is so much variety in fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, the Japanese focus on creating flavorful food with limited cooking or add-ins. It’s the perfect example of how less is more.

What would a perfect meal consist of? Favorite food?
Chips and salsa from Amigo's, turkey on sourdough from McCallister’s, cheese fries from Steak ‘n Shake, and a “Bahama Mamma” from Rick’s in Key West. Now I'm hungry!

Where are you going after Japan?
Wouldn't that be nice to know? Dustin is at a turning point in his career, so we are unsure of what direction we will be sent. On our current path, we would go to Twentynine Palms, CA for a year after our tour is done here in Iwakuni. But I’m hoping for an intervention! :)

Did your college classes truly prepare you for what you do?
For the most part, yes. So often an “online school” is not considered a legitimate education. The pace is much quicker than a traditional “brick and mortar” school. This meant I had to work on my schoolwork for a few hours every day. If I missed a day I would fall behind. I was lucky to have some really great professors, many of which I am still in contact with today.

What is your favorite color?

Babies - when and how many?
When? I don't know. We know they are not in the plan for the next five years, but after that… How many? For a long time we agreed that four might be the magic number, but let me tell you after one.

What is your favorite thing about being married? And the hardest?
As cheesy as it sounds, I absolutely LOVE living with my best friend. Being over here has really made us rely on each other for everything. I am so blessed, that even when things aren't perfect, they aren't difficult. Before we got married many people told us that being married, especially after the first year, was hard. I think you just have to be willing to continuously work on it.

What is your favorite breakfast food?
Pancakes. Sorry, Daddy! Dustin makes pancakes every weekend. Recently we made a healthier version with berries and cottage cheese that was phenomenal. So delicious!

What's your most favorite place you've ever traveled to? Why?
I can't choose just one! I have loved many places for many reasons. I love Orlando, FL because of Disney parks and amazing memories. I love Maine for clean, crisp mornings and a breath-taking landscape. I love Park City, UT for new experiences and silly times. I love Japan because, well, come on, it’s JAPAN! It is the central hub for all things geeky. And I’m geeky.

What do you love/hate most about the military life?
Love? The friendships, the travel, the change. I love that things will never be boring for us. Every three years we will get to experience somewhere new. Hate? The lack of control. Having no control over the change is the toughest part. I am a planner. I have always been teased for my “five year plans”.

What's your all-time favorite book and why?
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card has been my favorite book since I first read it in 3rd grade (Thanks, Stevie!). It was my first glimpse into the world of science fiction and I’ve been hooked ever since. I reread it every year.

Do you want to stay in the military long term? What are your plans for after?
As of now, we plan on 20-25 years in the Marine Corps. Of course, that is if all goes according to plan and they don’t force us out early. Recently I heard one of the wives say it well, "We will get out when we stop having fun." After? That's a long way off! As of now, we’ve talked about accepting contracts overseas at military installations. We both think London would be fantastic and it is not available to us as Active Duty. I would like to continue in finance, especially in defense finance. I really love my job. Dustin hopes to teach, preferably history.

Do you believe you have changed much since you were first married?
Of course. The last seven years have definitely changed me. Trying a new job, moving across the world, creating a whole new life every few years - it all forces you to change. I think I am more mellow (although still very OCD) than before, I tend to go with the flow a little more.

Do you believe that your experience with the military has changed you at all?
It definitely has forced me to realize I can’t control everything. Stressing and worrying about the future gets me nowhere. I also have learned to appreciate my husband more. All the deployments, training, and TDYs make you appreciate the time you have together. Unlike many wives, I actually get the chance to miss my husband, which is a good thing!

What made you fall in love with your husband? If you have ever met Dustin, this is an easy one. He is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He is caring, sweet, and always makes an effort to make me happy. I am so proud of him every day. Putting up with me is a full time job, and he does it well.

Have you always wanted to work in finance?
For a long time, yes. My father was the treasurer of our church and every weekend I would help him count, account, and prepare the offering. I loved working with adding machines and accounting ledgers. As I grew older I became fascinated with personal finance and went that direction. There is great satisfaction in helping people overcome financial distress or just be there for moral support during the tough times. The switch to defense finance is still new, but I love it. Dustin has been saying for years that I should get into civil service. “You would come in and fix all the problems, it’s just who you are.” It doesn't get more fun then spreadsheets!

How do your families act about and respond to your military lifestyle, especially the fact that you're 'so far away?'
My parents were semi-supportive when we announced we were moving overseas. I think they would be happier if we lived on the East coast and got to see more of us though. At least we came to a place they never would have visited on their own. Most people are sensitive to the fact that being over here isn't always easy. They make an effort to stay connected, and that is always appreciated.

White Wine or Red Wine?
White! Moscato.

What's the best Christmas present you've ever given your husband?
Hmm, I’m not sure. Over the years we have stopped shopping for each other at Christmas. We tend to save our money for traveling adventures. I will ask him. His response: “We got married at Christmas. You gave me you.” And now you know why I fell in love with him.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mahalo Kitchen

After the Tokyo Anime Fair and Legoland Discovery Center we were quite hungry. We took the train back to Tokyo Station and walked out the Ginza entrance. Now Ginza is fabulous. It's the "shopping" district. Blocks and blocks of wonderful shopping. Jimmy Choo, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Burberry... so many pretty windows.

But we're starving. So window shopping will have to wait. As we were walking the best, most intoxicating smell in the world came around. Smoked meat!

Hawaiian smells phenomenal. Sold.

I had mushroom locomoco. It came with mushrooms, rice, a pepper burger patty, fried egg, and "loco" sauce. Dustin had the pineapple burger. Really, really good food.

A wonderful meal to end our trip to Tokyo. Now it was back on to the wonderful Night Bus for a peaceful drive home. Full bellies, nerd fun, an excellent forty eight hours.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Across from Legoland Discovery Center. No joke.
Right across the boardwalk. Less then thirty feet of space between.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Legoland Discovery Center

I love my TripAdvisor app. If you don't have it, go get it. I'll wait.

We use it all the time while traveling. Get done with a place earlier than expected?
Whip out the phone and find interesting things in the area.
Hungry but don't know what any of the signs around you say?
Whip out the phone and find restaurants based on price and cuisine.

We finished at the Tokyo Anime Fair earlier than expected, so I started looking around for other things we hadn't seen yet in the Odaiba area. TripAdvisor mentioned a Legoland Discovery Center less than half a mile from where we were. So we started walking. Legos? Yes, please.

After learning how Legos are made (ALL in Denmark, huh, who knew?), we shot bad guys with laser pointers on the indoor roller coaster. The next room was quite spectacular. Downtown Tokyo. In Legos.

Rainbow Bridge, Statue of Liberty, Tokyo tower

Rainbow Bridge at "night"

The Japanese have a sense of humor - Gojira!

My favorite section the busiest intersection in the world. Remember when we went there?

The famous Shibuya intersection
Downtown Tokyo during the "day"

A minute later... "night"

We continued to the next area that was dotted with small pits to play. (Wormslayer, Lego storage idea?)

There were jungle gyms, Duplos, huge Legos (think the size of a small dog as one block), Friends Legos, and Pixar's Cars Legos. We bought some snacks (unfortunately not Lego themed) and watched a 3D animated Lego adventure. Dustin's favorite area was the gift shop. Lots of selection and variety on licensed Lego sets. Definitely a fun place to spend a few hours. Thank you, TripAdvisor app.