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.


  1. Thank you, Natalie and Dustin, for the wonderful video history. I have always wanted a history of WWII, but just couldn't bring myself to buy it. Thank you for being such a loving and considerate granddaughter. I love you.

    1. I'm glad you like it! I saw a few "episodes" on our cable channel and thought you would like it. I love you, too.

  2. I still say waffles are best, but pancakes are very tasty with peanut butter and homemade applesauce or other fruit toppings. Love you!