Saturday, May 03, 2008,2:55 PM
The Big Move
Every one keeps asking me if I am excited about the move since our departure date is so close. Honestly, I think I am in a serious state of denial about it. Hard to believe since we literally have only the clothes on our backs (and some in suitcases of course), borrowed TV, linens and toys left in our house. The movers came on Wed and took everything else. Some how though, the actual move to CA still seems so far away.

I think I am feeling this way because the knowledge we were moving to CA has been in my head for so long. We have known for about 11 months we were headed to Monterey, and nearly 2 months ago the packers took the majority of our worldly belongings. We have been in this odd state of limbo for so long that it is hard to shake. I have a feeling that the true excitement wont kick in until I get off the plane in SFO and know that we all (dogs too) made it back to "the homeland" safe and sound!

So much has been going on the past couple of weeks to keep our hands working and our minds busy. Alan's replacement for his job showed up (WOO HOO) and we did what we could to get them settled into their new life. Leah's preschool held a big fund raiser last week which took alot of my time and attention. Add to that, we were told this week that Hannah needs to have surgery when we arrive in CA, and that threw us for a loop. It isn't any thing major, she just needs tubes in her ears and possibly her adenoids taken out. Still, it was another thing to worry, think and plan about.

They came to get our express shipment on the 30th, and I had stuff to take care of this week with the dogs and getting all their paperwork ready to fly. By the end of the week, Alan took off to Kyoto for a last minute trip to the one place in Japan he really wanted to go. Lucky bastard gets a few days of peace and quiet in one of the most beautiful places on earth. LOL...and no I am actually not upset that he went, I am the one that pushed him out the door. Lord knows he has been threw enough the past 2 1/2 years, he deserves a break. Plus I need him refreshed and ready for the flight on Thursday!! Also, I figure I can hold this trip over his head in order to get the car I want when we get stateside!!

The plans for the move itself have gone amazingly smoothly since my last blog break down. We were able to set up everything with the Personal Property office, the movers, housing and so forth, all with in a couple days. We even managed to get the NAVPTO office to book us upgradeable seats for our flight. We traded in our air miles so that we have 2 seats (Alan and Leah) in business class for the flight back (Hannah and I are wait listed, so keep your fingers crossed for us). We lined up someone to buy our car and we are even able to keep it till the last minute here. We got London on some doggie prozac and he is doing great with his crate. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop because really the move itself is going much better than I had expected it, compared to how it first started out. Heck, we even have 2 houses lined up to look out in CA that are ok with us having the big old scary dogs!!

The girls are excited about the upcoming trip...ok really Leah is excited, Hannah is clueless. Leah keeps asking us if today is the day she gets to go on the plane and see Grandpa. She also has decided that she needs a bike once we get there. Guess Grandpa better be taking her shopping!

I think part of my excitement in squashed by a bit of sadness over leaving the home we have created here. The past 30 months have not been easy, our family as a whole has been through alot, but this is our HOME. We have good friends here, the girls are healthy and happy and for every bad event that occurred here, there is a happy memory to combat it. Some of the friends I have made here have become like family to us. Leah is still having a hard time grasping that Shay and Camden wont always live next door to us.

We are filling the next few days with final preparations for the flight and hopefully spending time with the people that have come to mean so much to us, and that have really helped us not only survive Yokosuka, but encouraged us to thrive here.

To all of you, thank you for your love and support. We will miss you. Know that our home is always open to you, no matter where it may be!

I will post to let you all know that we arrived in CA in one piece. Wish us luck! See you all in CA.
posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 9 comments
Wednesday, April 09, 2008,5:42 PM
The Hair Really Makes The Girl

In honor of Hannah's birthday, I thought I would share with you the pictures of what Hannah would look like if she was born with my straight hair.

Honestly, she just doesn't look right does she? Hannah's curls are too much a part of her, they fit her personality too well to go away. As the Japanese say "Curly hair...curly brain!"

Thanks to a new My Little Pony Video (can I tell you how much I LOVE the fact my girls are into MLP??) Hurricane Hannah actually sat still long enough for me to straight iron her hair. Every once in awhile she would look back at me and say "Hot", the go back to the movie. Hence the blank expression in all the photos...Hannah was ready for a nap, and VERY focused on her new movie.

The amazing part...Hannah's curls came back with in 2 hours. Guess just like Hannah, her curls can't be stopped!!
posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 3 comments
Tuesday, April 08, 2008,9:57 PM

Hard to believe my baby turns two in a matter of hours. The past two years have gone by in a blur...much like the two hours of labor I had with her.

Many of you know Hannah has been a bit of a challenge for Alan and me. We were those typical first parents that had the easy first child. Leah all in all was a very laid back baby, so of course we thought that meant Alan and I were the best parents ever.

Then along comes Hannah. The 180 degree opposite of Leah is just about every possible way. Leah was a back sleeper, Hannah preferred her tummy. Leah didn't want to breastfeed readily, where as Hannah took to the boob milk like a champ, but try her on a bottle...and watch out! Leah loved her swing, Hannah hated to be strapped into anything for longer than 30 seconds (heck, that is still true). Everything we thought we learned from our first child went right out the window with Hannah. Hannah refused to let us compare her to her big Sis in any way.

As much as that frustrated me in the beginning, 2 years later I am realizing how wise Hannah really is.

Hannah is captivating. I love how she makes her presence known to everyone in every room she enters. She is vivacious and bold. At the same time, Hannah is one of the most loving children I have ever come across. She is very caring and if there is a baby crying anywhere with in earshot, Hannah will go right over say "Baby no cry", try to cover up the baby and pat it on the back to soothe them. Something I am sure she learned from daycare, but still, I am amazed that she is so in tune to others that she wants to help.

Hannah is also teaching Leah a thing or two. Hannah has NO problem standing up for herself in ANY situation. Leah, not so much...her first reaction always was to cry, then let Mom and Dad work it out. Hannah, oh no! She will tell you when there is an issue. The perfect example...about 6 months ago we were at a friends b-day party. The boy was turning 4 and the party was in full swing. Leah was playing with a balloon when a boy ran over and took it from Leah. She of course just started crying for me. After calming her down, Leah moved on to another toy. A toy which moments later the same boy decided he wanted and took it again from Leah. Once again, Leah started crying for me. About 10 minutes later, Hannah (who was only 18 months at the time) was playing with a balloon...yet again, the boy wanted the balloon and went to grab it out of Hannah's grip. Hannah looked right at the boy (who towered over her) and screamed "NO" and ripped the balloon right out of the 4 year olds hand. Wouldn't you know it, the boy walked off and never bothered Hannah again!

Hannah never does anything half way. As a parent, that can be tiring but also SO invigorating. I am amazed when watching Hannah and how she throws herself 100% into everything. She truly loves life, people and everything in her world. If she doesn't love it, she is sure to tell you.

I love how out of no where, in the middle of play, Hannah will run to me and yell "UP UP PEASSSS Mommy". Once I pick her up, Hannah throws her arms around me and gives a hug that only a child can give. A no holds bar hug. Hannah being Hannah though, the hug is over with shortly and she if off back to what ever project held her attention the moment before.

Have you ever heard the expression "Go hard or Go home"? To me that sums up Hannah's attitude. And I think I like it!!

I am learning a thing or two from Hannah also. I decided to no longer envy the way she dives into things with wild abandonment, but instead to try it out myself. I guess in a way, Hannah is giving me that gift for her second birthday!

Happy Birthday Hannah Rose! I hope you had a fun time at your bowling party today! You were (as always) a trip to watch in action!

posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 2 comments
Monday, March 31, 2008,9:30 PM
Goodbye March 2008

Well, another month is coming to an end. I can't believe how fast time is boggles my mind. I feel like my life has been on fast forward lately and it doesn't look like it will be slowing down anytime soon.

March 17th we did our household goods pack out. To you non-military types, this is when the movers come and take 90% of your worldly goods. All our furniture, 100% of the nick-knacks, most of our kitchen stuff, good majority of the girls toys and a fair amount of clothes all got wrapped, packed and boxed up in a matter of 8 hours. Gotta love Japanese efficiency.

I thought Leah would freak out when she came home to find all but 2 Rubbermaid containers of her stuff gone. Amazingly enough Miss OCD was ok. We have been talking ALOT about the move and prepping her for this day. We gave her a container before the movers came to fill with anything she did not want them to take. We went so far as to put that box in the car so the movers couldn't touch it. I laughed at the odd things she picked out to keep...leave it to a 3 year old!

Why do we pack out so early you ask? Well, it takes about 2 months for our stuff to get to California. The NAVY base here will give us loaner furniture to use until our departure date. The living room items are seriously bad office furniture, but it works. We have a sofa to sit on, a table to eat at, and beds to sleep on, so I am NOT complaining. By packing out when we did, our household goods shipment should arrive in CA about the same time we do. We are able to keep toys, a small TV, some kitchen essentials, linens, and our computer until the end of the month. At that point we do what is called an Express Shipment, and that stuff takes about a month to reach us. All in all, not too bad.

Another milestone that day, Hannah moved to a big girl bed!! Both my little girls slept in twin beds that night. Neither have looked back since. Hannah LOVES her new bed and the princess sheets that came with it. Granted it only took her about a week to figure out she can get out of this bed all by herself! Still, she has stayed in bed all night with no fights (knock on wood)...lets pray that continues.

The family member having issues...yup, you guessed it...our boy London. Once again being too smart for his own good is biting him in the ass. Between that and just the general nerves in the house lately, it all got to London. So bad that while he was crated, Lou took to trying to dig his way out of a brand new crate. He managed to cut up his gums and paws and put a nice hole in the kennel. After the 2nd time of him trying to play Houdini, we ended up at the vet and left with a prescription for Doggie Anxiety meds. Sad to admit, but true. They seem to be taking the edge off, but honestly I don't like him on them. He has lost his high energy spark (the thing that London and Hannah have in common). I plan on keeping him on the meds till we arrive in CA, then throwing the bottle away. Luckily the meds are helping with the crate issue, he is no longer trying to dig his was out of Alcatraz and now goes into his crate on his own to escape the girls!

The girls and I took a break from moving stress and joined some friends in an Easter Egg Hunt last Sunday. It was great fun to watch. I laughed so hard watching Leah and Hannah and how differently they approach life.

Leah had previously seen the eggs I bought for the hunt. I explained that I was giving these eggs to the Easter Bunny and so were all of her friends Mommies. Then the bunny would hide the eggs for all the kids to find. To Leah this translated to the idea that she could ONLY find the eggs I gave the bunny. I didn't know this though, so I was baffled as to why she started to get frustrated and began crying at the hunt. Leah was upset because she didn't see the eggs I made, she was only finding everyone elses. Poor Leah...she is so good, that she didn't want to take eggs that weren't hers, she thought that would be stealing from the other kids!! What a sweet kid. It took a minute to explain that the eggs were for everyone and that she could take whatever eggs she came across. After she found one of "her" eggs, she was all good, then went about gathering as many as she could find.

Now Hannah on the other hand, she went to town as soon as she realized there was candy inside. That amazing find came after the first eggs she picked up and popped open. I think Hannah spent as much time eating candy that day as she did gathering eggs. She also didn't waste anytime, and would often double fist her candy and eggs! I love this kids zest for life!!

Back to the moving front...

We had our pre-move out inspection already. The housing office came thru to check out how much damage we have inflicted on this unit in 2 1/2 years. Surprisingly all went well. With that done, we scheduled our final check out for May 6th.

I also made our reservations at the Navy Lodge for after we check out of housing. We are spending the last few nights in the lodge and the dogs will stay with friends. I don't have much longer to scrub these damn white tile floors. WOO HOO

The Navy was actually nice enough to finally pay for our airline tickets. There is no turning back now. We were able to upgrade 2 of the tickets to business class (the other 2 are wait listed). At the very least, Leah and Alan will be treated like royalty while Hannah and I are walking the isles in economy! This is a good thing though. With Alan and his back, having the room to stretch out will make all the difference in the world. He had just better be bringing me all of Leah's free alcohol for the flight.

That being said, there is a chance our day of departure may change. I will fill you all in on that more when I am able.

Along with that suspense, I am asking for some prayers and healthy vibes from all of you please. Some other major things have been happening and we need all the support we can matter how far away.

We are counting the days till our time with 7th Fleet is over. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, now we just need our sanity to last that long!
posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 3 comments
Friday, March 14, 2008,11:35 PM
Rental Vent

Dear Rental Companies,

I understand that the national opinion on Rottweilers is a pretty bad one. I understand why. I understand that a family with 2 large dogs is not your ideal tenant. I do know that some Home Owner Insurance Companies are racist against our Rotti and German Shepherd. I am sure you have been burned in the past by renting to people with dogs over 35 pounds.

I understand all of it, but PLEASE PLEASE don't delete my emails as soon as you see the word Rottweiler. Keep reading. Read how we treat our dogs like children. See how our 100 pound dog thinks he is a 10 pound lap dog. Find humor in the fact that a toy poodle can beat him up. Know that both boys are well trained, lovable, treasured members of our family. I promise you that other than the occasional bark hello at neighbors, they are GREAT dogs to have in a home and in a neighborhood. Have confidence that I am a Vet Tech with 10+ years in the business and know how to take care of animals and how to train them well. Be assured that we carry USAA renters insurance, and USAA is a smart company and has no breed specific restrictions.

Take a moment and pour over the letters of reference we have received from several vets, neighbors and pet sitters. Hear the story of a little girl on our street that was terrified of dogs, Rottweilers in particular because she was bitten by one...yet that very girl a year later was asking her mom if they could take Bubba if we didn't want to take him to Japan with us. Learn how there is not a single person that has met our dogs that continues to be afraid of them after 30 seconds.

Walk through my home. See how well behaved they are. The biggest problem you will have is that if you sit on our sofa, you will have 100 pounds on your lap licking you, wanting to be your friend. Look at our house and see that there is no damage done to the home from the dogs. Watch as our 2 young daughters treat the dogs like their own personal ponies or dress up dolls. See how the dogs take it all in stride knowing that the torture will be over soon and they will get treats out of the humiliation.

If needed we can provide letters of reference on us too. Be assured that we are the type of people to take loving care of someone elses home. We are also upstanding people that will take responsibility is heaven forbid something does happen (like the dogs digging a whole in the yard). Know that we have the money to hire a gardener to maintain the yard to help battle the effects of the dogs just doing their daily business. Please understand that we are SUPER excited to be back in California and will treat any good house as our very special home. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give us a chance, we really do not want to be homeless.

Thank you for your time.

Nicole W

So can you guess that we are having a problem finding a rental company that will give us the time of day?

Come on people, you know our dogs, give a shout out and tell everyone what babies I have!! And pray that someone will have an open mind and believe me!!
posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 3 comments
Thursday, March 13, 2008,5:44 PM
Just For Laughs...

Hannah did not find this funny, but I sure as heck did.

Here is Hannah after eating a VERY yummy freshly made chocolate chip cookie.

Here is Hannah asking for more cookie. If you take a look at her hands, she is signing the word "more".

And here is a VERY ticked off Hannah when I tell her "No more cookies"

Seriously, how can you look at that and NOT laugh! I know, I am so mean.

posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 4 comments
Tuesday, March 11, 2008,9:19 PM
Save the Date
May 8th 2008. Mean anything to anyone? To my family and friends it better. It is the day I turn 32 (gulp). It is also the day that the NAVY decided would be fitting to send this California Girl back home!

I swear I didn't plan this (although I would have if I could have). But the NAVPTO office picked that day all on their own, what are the chances?

What is really funny? My b-day will last 2 days this year. How freaky is that? Hope it doesn't mean I will age twice as fast?!!? We are due to leave Tokyo Japan at 4:50pm local time on the 8th. With the 9 hour flight and the time difference, we actually land in California at 9:15am on the 8th. Yes, we go BACK IN TIME! I love that!!!

All this good news does come with a price. And the reason why I went MIA the past week.

Meet our problem child...London.

Our 5 year old, 85 pound - freakishly long - German Shepherd mix - four legged child. London is a great dog. He deals with us and puts up with the girls. He is WAY to smart for his own good (can unlock and open our sliding glass door and windows...seriously NOT kidding). The bad thing...he really is FREAKISHLY long. This normally isn't a problem except when it comes to the size of his crate. He needs the Giant size Vari kennel, the one made for Great Danes. This is the size kennel he was crate trained in when we adopted him and the size kennel he traveled to Japan in.

Well, thanks to some screwed up policy at United Airlines, London can not travel back to the states in the manner to which he has become accustom. Ok, not true, he can travel back in the Giant kennel but to the tune of $3,500. Um yeah NO!

Don't get me wrong, I love my dog but I love my marriage more. Spending $3,500 on a dog would end it. I did it once, spending that on Bubba's knees and that I snuck in under Alan's radar until he couldn't say no! I know not to do it again. Honestly though, that is money we just don't have. With the major expense of the move itself, having to spend nearly 4k we weren't prepared for just is not in the cards (not even the credit cards).

Here is the issue. For some reason United will not allow the Giant size kennel to go as checked baggage on international flights. Makes NO sense to me since he traveled on United in that very kennel from DC to Seattle. The plane we will be flying to CA is bigger than the one we flew to Seattle, but "policy is policy" from what I am told. Mind you this all came as a BIG shock to me, since I was previously told by not 1, not 2, but THREE United Reservation Agents that taking London checked baggage would be no problem. Then the night we received our travel itinerary from the Navy, I come to find out that I spoke to not 1, not 2, but THREE United Morons before! According to every supervisor I argued with (and there were alot because I kept calling back and asking to speak to someone else higher up the chain) told me that the 700 series kennel has never been allowed as checked baggage and had to go Air Cargo.

The Japanese can't do anything easy. So I can't just book London as Air Cargo myself on the flight home. Per Narita Airport, I HAVE to use a Pet Transport company to ship a dog Air Cargo. Their quote...yup, the $3,500 I noted before. Mind you Bubba (our Rotti) is 100 pounds, but travels in a smaller crate, will only cost us $300 as checked baggage. Makes no sense.
The other problem with going Air Cargo, there is NO guarantee that London can go on the same flight we do. Air Cargo can only be booked 10 days before the day of departure, and only if the flight isn't full. What would happen in 10 days before our flight we are told there is no room for him? What would be do then? Not to mention, what ever flight he would get on, London would have to be delivered to the cargo shipment area 3-4 hours before the flight. Add that to the already 9 hour flight, and time on the other end in San Fran, and the poor dog would be locked in a cage for up to 14 hours. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!

Last week one night, at about 2 am, as I am on the phone with yet another Supervisor at United and in tears by now thinking I can't get my dog home, I look down to see this:

London in Bubba's crate. Bubba's crate is 8 inches shorter in length, yet there is London curled up inside looking at me as if to say "Look Mom, I fit in here. It is ok, I promise. I can do this, I will be fine".

After finally admitting defeat to United and the NAVY, I realized that London will just not be able to stretch out and relax on his international flight. He will have to travel in the Extra Large Vari Kennel (which can go as checked baggage). Alan is right, London is too neurotic to relax on that flight anyway so it isn't like he will be stretching out and lounging around down in the cargo bay, sipping Doggie Margaritas. Basically London will have to fly Economy like the rest of the family, instead the Business Class he had preciously enjoyed.

I will admit between that and some other family issues surrounding our arrival in California, I was in a bit of a funk the past week. Then I guess in my old age I am growing up. I realized that not everything works out the way we want and some people will continue to disappoint us no matter how much we wish it different.

After wallowing in my sorrows for a bit, I took page out of London's book and adapted for the sake of my family. I put the focus back on the positive. Back on the fact that my birthday will last 2 days, that I can actually enjoy a yummy Carne Asada Burrito in my favorite place on earth with my amazing husband, my adorable kids and 2 goofy dogs!!

I did make 1 additional birthday request to Alan. For my 32nd birthday I asked for 2 hours in Barnes and Nobles (or Borders, I am not picky) ALONE. No kids, no hubby; just me, the smell of books and enjoyment that is a book store on a grandiose scale that only America can provide!

posted by Weinraub Family | Permalink | 5 comments