Ramblings from the Western Pacific

Buying and Blessing My Car in Okinawa April 26, 2012

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 11:33 pm
Tags: , ,

After my husband received his official orders to Okinawa, one of the first things I started thinking about was what kind of car I was going to purchase for myself. Although you will find quite a few cars similar to what we have in the states, small, box-style cars are very popular here because of how economical they are and because the roads are so narrow. Nissan Cubes and Scion XBs (know here as Toyota BBs) are spotted almost anywhere. I knew right away I wanted something I wouldn’t normally own in the States. I was in search of my “perfect little island car”.

We arrived on-island at the end of the rush of people moving on and off island (known to the military community as PCS season). Because of this, I started realizing with frustration that it was not as easy as I thought it would be to find what I wanted. Many of the cars I had looked at online were already sold and the ones left available were over priced because of the limited availability of cars. We spent several days scoping the online ads and stopping at every dealership. A few caught my eye, but the price tag scared me away. You can find a decent little car for a few thousand dollars here, I wasn’t willing to pay much more than that to only be here three years.

Finally after almost giving up on the quest to find my little island cruiser, the very last dealership we had to look at offered exactly what I wanted. It was cute, small and had character. I fell in love with the plaid seats, fog lights and tiny little hatchback.

Meet Mr. Bean. He’s a 2000 Daihatsu Mira Gina Mini-Light

Fast forward a few months of owning this bad boy. I had recently visited the temple for New Years and discovered that one of the awesome things they do is perform car blessing ceremonies in their shrine. Basically the gist of it is you pay your money, pull your car up and they bless your car. Once finished you’re given a bumper sticker and a charm for good luck. This seals your fate for the year, you will have great car and driving luck!

As silly as it may seem to some, I was immediately enthralled with the idea of blessing my favorite little island cruiser and told my husband I wanted to do this on my birthday. He’s a great husband and is a real sport at going along with most of my crazy ideas, so we packed into the car and headed to the temple on my birthday. I had read online how it’s performed before we went so I was confident I knew what I was doing. Upon arriving I pulled up, paid my Yen and gave the priest a paper with my name written in Japanese (thanks to my co-worker for writing it for me). I filled out the info on my car and stepped in front of the shrine to begin.


I will spare the step-by-step details of the blessing, but if you’re interested check out Map It! Okinawa and read their detailed description.

After completion the priest gave me 3 items. One is a bottle of sake that you take and splash on all four tires, the other a bumper sticker that said (in Japanese) the name of the temple and “drive safe” and finally an ‘Omamori’ (which is basically a good luck charm) that says for good driving.

My car was now officially blessed!

This was a great experience for our whole family. The kids really loved standing up there during the ceremony. A few times I peeked over at Taylor (who I expected to get bored) and she had her hands in prayer form and was bowing back to the priest. Too cute! While I was splashing sake on my tires, the priest came out of the shrine and acknowledged both kids by patting them on the head and telling them they were cute.

Going into it I was afraid my expectations might be too high and fortunately I was wrong. It was a really amazing experience and something I plan on repeating each year until we leave Okinawa.


I Still Have a Blog? April 25, 2012

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 10:24 pm
Tags: , , ,

I am such a slacker in the blog department. I have sat here and though of ten different things to blame for me not posting since January 19th (I accept my A+ in slacking thankyouverymuch), but I’ll just say life took up a lot of time and sleep the rest. Moving on.


Since my last post, one thing has remained the same. It’s still freaking raining. I say this like it hasn’t stopped raining in 3 months (which is false), but some days it feels like it. Last night we had a pretty wicked storm rumble past us full of lightning and bangs of thunder. According to my inside sources, we are entering “rainy season”. What makes rainy season any different then the past three months? I have not a clue, but I’m guessing it means even more rain. Don’t get me wrong, I still love this place. When the sun shines it’s amazing. So naturally I’m merely hoping we see the scales tipping more in favor of clear skies soon.


Besides the weather I have a few interesting things I’m working on posting about. My husband is gone on a month-ish long trip to the Philippines and if any of you reading this are military spouses (or even spouses of someone that travels often), you know nothing is ever boring when they’re gone. I firmly believe kids, pets and cars wait until only one person is around to go wrong. It never fails. As frustrating as it is, it definitely keeps life interesting and makes the time go by quickly. So before I depart to read my book I’ll leave you with a few things I’ll be posting about over the next few days:


  • Getting my car blessed at the temple. This feels like it happened forever ago, but it was too cool not to post about it.
  • My impending travel to visit my BFF in Australia (including a trip up to the Great Barrier Reef).
  • My newest favorite vegetarian recipe.
  • A very funny video of my daughter as she’s drunk on the medication they have her pre-surgery (I swear this isn’t one of those times where only I think my kid is funny and everyone else is not impressed. She was hilarious).


And some other great shiz. So keep checking back. I promise you won’t have to wait another three months to hear back from me.


Much love ♥



Rainy Day Laundry January 23, 2012

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 10:15 am
Tags: , ,

Rain is a regular occurrence in Okinawa and winter adds a lot of cold wind gusts to the mix.



Positive Thoughts January 19, 2012

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 5:35 am

My last post talked about the New Year and with a new year always comes the ever-popular resolution. This year I didn’t make a resolution (actually I haven’t had one in a few years), but I did make a commitment to myself to be more mindful of the power of positive thinking. I consider myself an optimist, but there is always room for improvement. Negative thoughts easily sneak up and cause us to lose sight of all the good things life has to offer. Why sit around dwelling on the things we don’t like or the things that have went wrong (or could go wrong) when we could be visualizing and affirming the things we really want to happen?

While scrolling through my Facebook feed recently, I noticed a lot of negativity and was reminded that not only is positivity powerful, we have the ability to possess an infinite amount of it and should pass it on freely. So I’ll leave you with the photo below and hope that you’ll take the time to pass on a few positive thoughts to someone you know soon. You never know the impact it could have on that person 🙂


Holiday Reflections January 17, 2012

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 3:05 pm
Tags: , , , ,

It’s hard to believe that 2011 has come and gone. Where did this last year go? It feels like one minute we were loving life in Southern California and the next we were at our first overseas duty station, searching for a house off base and learning how to muddle through saying a few Japanese greetings. Now it’s well into January 2012, we have been in Okinawa almost 5 months and have successfully wrapped up our first holiday season abroad. We always enjoy the holidays and this year was no exception. Thanksgiving was spent with my husband’s Marines and included a lot of beer pong games, couch diving and the added flair of them picking up my tiny island-mobile (aka Mr. Bean) and moving him sideways in my driveway. Considering we have spent a lot of years away from “home”, this was a pretty typical Thanksgiving in our house.

Christmas was exceptionally low-key compared to Thanksgiving, but included many of the same guys and we were excited to add one of the Marine’s family that was visiting from the States and one guys Japanese fiance to the mix. The day consisted of a lot of present unwrapping, cleaning a living room that looked like it barfed wrapping paper, cooking and Face-timing family back in the U.S. The only thing missing from Christmas was a visit from my mom (hopefully we can rectify this next year!).

After Christmas, we rolled into the New Year. New Years in Japan is big deal and there are a lot of deep rooted traditions and celebrating going on. One tradition includes Hatsumode which is the first shrine (or Buddhist temple) visit of the New Year. We were happy to partake in this tradition, so we hopped into the car and headed to Naritasan Temple to see what it was all about. (more…)


IPhone Blogging at the Barber

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 6:51 am
Tags: , , ,

Since I’m sitting here bored while my husband gets his weekly haircut (he’s a Marine), I decided to give my WordPress app a spin. If you’re reading this, you know it works.

Here’s a little glimpse of my life right now. (Lucky for you, I snapped this right before a guy that works here started popping his zits in the mirror. You can thank me later)



Sober Thoughts January 15, 2012

Filed under: Random Thoughts — Swaffnerd @ 8:20 am
Tags: , , ,

I came home from work wanting to blog and alas I have sat here typing and deleting about ten different subjects. The last time I blogged was years ago. I guess you have more to say when your in your early 20’s and full of booze and boy drama. Or maybe it’s because when you’re young and crazy you lack that all important verbal filter. You know, the one that sits on your shoulder and reminds you that no one needs to hear about the time you got so drunk you threw up all over yourself or that your (obvious to everyone else, but not so obvious to you) d-bag of a boyfriend has broken up with you (which is always the prelude into more drunk vomiting situations that you’ll, of course, make sure to chronicle for the world to see).

Getting back on track, I guess maybe I will start by mentioning that besides being perpetually late, working and raising two (very awesome) girls, I spend a lot of my time taking pictures or planning time to go take pictures. Which is a big reason I decided to start blogging again. So be warned, if you’re not a fan of average hobbyist photography picture taking, you might want to rethink your decision to follow my blog.

And with that said, I’m off to get ready for my first Japanese party. Apparently it’s all you can drink and I promise not to be back in a few hours drunk-blogging.