Monday, December 29, 2008


Rank in the military is a very very important thing. It is the first thing that people see when they look at you and it effects how they react to you - literally. For example, Sam is enlisted and I an officer. People automatically freak out when they hear I am an officer because officers are usually the 'big bosses'. People are a little more relaxed when they meet Sam because he is enlisted. Then they hear that he is an enlisted Sergeant in the Marines and they freak out again because Marine Corps Sergeant's are literally known world wide for how mean they are! Well, I have been an Ensign in the Navy for 2 years. Ensign is the lowest rank of officer. People fear me because I am an officer, but not very much because they know I haven't been in long enough to know how mean I can really be. They call us 'butter bars' and other irritating nicknames when ever they see us. The time finally came for me to be promoted. Its a whole ceremony. I hate having all the attention on me so the whole process was a little embarrassing. I had to go to my Commanding Officer's office and re-swear in to the military. Then you have people who are close to you remove your old rank and put your new rank on. I had Sam and my direct boss do it. My boss is a huge fan of Star Wars (Sam and I are too) so she decided to 'knight' me with Yoda's light saber. Now, my Commanding Officer is also a HUGE Star Wars fan, but he loves Darth Vader. (Hence the pictures of Darth Vader on the wall). So he decided that we needed to remove the enemies light saber from his office and gave us the Darth Vader light saber to 'knight' me with instead. - Yes I know . . . the rumors are true. . . medical personnel really are THAT nerdy.

Well, after the whole light saber thing was done Sam had to complete the final part of my ceremony which is to put on my new jacket with my new rank.

After all that it was finally official. I am now a Lieutenant Junior Grade in the Navy. Yeah!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I think I might have mentioned this before, but in case I haven't. . . . We LOVE Christmas! Sam and I had different Christmas traditions growing up. When we had kids we decided that instead of arguing over which tradition to follow we would create our own.
We decided to start celebrating on Christmas Eve because Christmas day is usually busy with the military. So Christmas Eve we make a huge breakfast dinner and stayed up late watching t.v. This picture of the girls cracked me up. They were completely sucked into this little British cartoon called "Charlie and Lola".
At midnight we read the Christmas story and then open presents. I have to make a disclaimer to make before the next picture. . . Sam and I have a four present rule for the girls. Every year they are suppose to get something they want, something they need, something to share and something to read. This is the plan, but the girls have Sam wrapped around their fingers, so this is what they actually got for Christmas.
Cala just smiled at Sam and told him "Your little princesses are so spoiled." I have to agree with her.
The girls got distracted after their fifth present. We actually had to prompt them to open the rest. Their favorite were the Leapsters, these hand-held kids game systems. Audrie started playing with her's as soon as she opened it.

And she continued playing it throughout the next day. . .

She gets this addiction from Sam. Christmas morning one of our Navy friends came over to hang out. They played video games for HOURS!
On Christmas day we always go hang out with other military families. This year we were really blessed to have Christian neighbors. This is a real rarity in the military. We all got together and had Christmas dinner. The kids were so cute. Here in Okinawa everyone throws up a peace sign whenever they take a picture. All the kids have picked up the habit too.

Right after dinner the dads did what they do every Christmas. . . they jumped on the video game system. This year it was the Wii. The kids were all playing Mario cart and the dads took over. They were so funny because they got so competitive.
After all that fun and excitement we end our Christmas by coming home and falling asleep in front of the TV. We hope all of you had fun celebrating Christmas in your own way! We missed you all this year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cookie Party Fun!!!

Cala and Audrie have been begging us all Christmas season to make a huge batch of Christmas cookies. Our family LOVES cookies and we usually have a constantly full cookie jar, but Sam and I have never really been Christmas cookie people. Sam isn't really a big icing person and I don't like the taste of sugar cookies. I was still trying to figure out how to avoid making Christmas cookies when my friend called and invited the girls over to her house for a Christmas cookie decorating party.
I was surprised when I came into her house. All I can say is it was organized chaos. Kids and sugar were flying everywhere! Here is a picture of the main decorating table.

The girls dove in and had tons of fun! I loved watching them decorate. Their little personalities came out in full. Cala was very precise. She made sure each of her cookies were evenly colored and carefully sprinkled. I think Cala is so cute in this picture. I love the snowman she decorated (I admit I helped a little.)

Audrie was all about tons of icing and sprinkles. She tried to be careful about color schemes, but the table of icing was too enticing. She was so cute because she wanted to put EVERYTHING on each cookie. This picture is one of her with a ton sugar in her system. She is in true Audrie form here. You can see her plate of well decorated cookies.

The girls tried to offer Sam and me some of their party goodies. We smiled and said yum. I actually ate my entire slobbery, sugary cookie. Sam on the other hand snuck up stairs and flushed it down the toilet when the girls weren't looking. -- hehehe

Overall it was a wonderful time for the girls. . . and I had fun too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Decorating

I meant to post this sometime ago, but life and knee surgery got in the way.
ANYHOW. . .I am so excited! All our Christmas decorations are up and all our Christmas shopping is done!
Decorating the house was a little challenging this year. This year our daughters insisted on being involved in every step of the process. This sounds sweet, but it is really difficult keeping a five and six year old out of trouble while still allowing them to feel as if they are an integral part of the decorating process. Sam helped by taking pictures of the girls while i worked on the harder parts.
I must confess that I am a little OCD about my Christmas tree. I have been this way since I was. . . well about Cala's age. It was kinda funny watching both my children try to decorate the tree. Cala is so much like me. Everything has to be color coordinated and in the perfect spot.
Audrie is more like Sam. She could care less about where things go as as long as they get there. In the end she was easily distracted posing for pictures while Cala and I fixed any part of the tree that wasn't up to our OCD standards.
In the end the tree was up, the Yankee Christmas Candles were burning and nothing was broken. I have to say the whole process was a surprising success.
We can't wait for Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Knee Surgery :(

When I first joined the military I had to go to something called Officer Indoctrination School (OIS). It is a time when you learn all things military and get in great shape. For those of you who know me, I am not the most athletic of people. I am one of those irritating people who eat what I want and don't gain weight. Sure, I get winded going up a flight of stairs, but its a sacrifice I am willing to make for a life of apathy.
Well, to my surprise, the Navy DEMANDED that I be physically fit. Not only did they demand it, but they also mandate that all Navy personnel do a physical fitness test every 6 months. OIS attempted to help me get ready for this new life of fitness. My instructors made me run, jump, do push ups and more. Do you know what Igot from all this? - Several nose bleeds and a torn meniscus. I think my body was trying to tell me something.
Anyhow after 2 years of complaining of knee pain the Navy finally agreed that it was time for me to have surgery.
Our hospital is really small, so having people you know and drink coffee with do your surgery is a little nerve racking. It brings trust in friendship to a whole new level.
Everything went pretty well. There was one incident when they gave me IV fluid that I was allergic to and my heart rate went up to 110 beats per minute, but one of my friends was my anaesthesiologist and he caught the error so all was well.
After surgery I had a week of looking like this:
I was ordered to keep my leg elevated and iced. I don't exercise, but I am a pretty active person just the same . This was a NIGHTMARE for me. I hated not being able to go anywhere! Sam tried to confiscate my crutches but I got them back. My kids call my crutches 'crushers'. You know you accidentally knock a kid over a couple of times and they have to get all dramatic!
I finally got to take of my dressing today. My knee looks something like this now.
It still swollen, and I can't straighten my leg all the way yet, but I am on the road to recovery. The best part of this whole process is that I have 2 weeks off work. :) Sure having surgery is a kinda of extreme way to get time off during the holidays, but overall I have to say it was totally worth it!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas Party!!

I LOVE Christmas!
It really is the most wonderful time of year. Christmas cookies, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, Christmas Carolers, and Christmas Parties.
Every year the hospital I work at has a big Christmas party. In all honesty the party kinda sucks. The food isn't great, the entertainment is terrible, the sound system never works right, and you are stuck talking the the same people you live and work with every day.
I love this guy's face. He is honestly bored and is totally ignoring everyone at our table.
There are two redeemable facts about the work Christmas Party.
1- It is mandatory semi-formal attire. This is very exciting for people who spend most of their days in uniform. Its time to dress up and be an individual! Here's a picture of me and and my boss all dressed up in front of the Christmas tree.
2- Every year the party committee raises money to try to have the party at an awesome location. Every year they fail. They are then forced to buy raffle presents with the left over money. This year they gave away $50,000 in prizes (and no that was not a typo). In all honesty this is the only reason people go to the party. This year there were X-Boxes, Ipods, big screen flat panel T.V.s and more!
Here's Sam and some guys hanging out waiting for good prizes.
Unfortunately we didn't win anything, but we had a good time anyhow. You know what they say come for the prizes . . . stay for the fun. Okay maybe the saying doesn't quite go like that, but you all get the idea.

Anyhow. . .hope you all are having a wonderful start to your Christmas Season!

Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dual Military

Often we get questions about what are life is like as a military family. I figured i would take a second to try and answer that question.
If I had to discribe military life in one word it would be BUSY! There is always something going on.
Sam has a more typical schedule. He works Monday-Friday from 7:30 - 5:00. He works in accounting and travel. Once a month he has to stand duty. Which means he acts as a guard on base. It is for a full 24 hours! Sometimes he has to go on TAD which means that he leaves for a month or so to a random country where the military is working. Last time it was 40 days in Korea!
There are balls and festivals and unit parties. And as if that were not enough there are also random formations and safety stand downs. That is when the military gets all the marines together after work hours to lecture them on safety or how to be better marines or how much they suck as marines.
Here's a picture of Sam getting promoted.
Believe it or not my schedule is even busier than Sam's at times. I work random hours because i am a nurse. Right now I am on the night shift. I work 7pm-7am about four days a week. I also have what the military likes to call collatoral duties. That means that they make military members do jobs that in the civilian world world would take another person. I put in about an extra 5-10 hours a week for this.
Here's a picture of my cool Japanese name tag.
I also have all that extra stuff that Sam has too. I have uniform inspecions, formation, balls. Here is a picture of me and some of my coworkers in our "dress uniform" (the fancy one) at the medical ball.
With all that work insanity Sam and I really work hard to make sure we spend time with just us and just the kids.
Here's us and my niece at this fun park called Okinawa World (and yes that is a real snake). To sum it up. . . Over all, yes life is busy, but it is still lots of fun.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Ahh! Thanksgiving in Japan. What is it like you ask? Actually it is a lot like Thanksgiving in the states. Well at least on base it is. The military is really like one big family at times. We work together, live together and even eat together. Sam's accounting shop go together at his boss's house to celebrate thanksgiving this year.
This is pretty much what happens every year, but this year there was a lot less alcohol. This was actually a very good thing because usally everyone starts doing shots after dinner and don't stop till midnight. This year everyone played video games. Call of Duty 5 is out so the guys set up two t.v.'s so everyone could play. The kids got into it too. here's a picture of them playing the Wii.
My girls just discovered the magic of video games so they got into it too.
Over all it was a really great time full of food and fun.

The only thing that could have made it better was if each of you were here to celbrate with us.
We miss and love you all!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Starting out. . . Again

I have recently heard complaints from friends and family about how terrible we are about keeping in touch with everyone. I hate to admit it. . . but i totally agree. So, in effort to be much better about the whole communication thing we have decided to start a Bernard Family Blog so each of you can keep up to date with all the exciting events going on in our lives.
I have tried this blogging thing before, but, quite honestly, i suck at it. All web pages here in Japan have to be translated into English, and I just figured out how to do it.
Let me take a quick moment to update you all on where we are now.
-We are still calling Okinawa, Japan home.
-Sam is still in the Marines, and is set to get out in July (Yeah!!!!)
-I (Dacee) and still in the Navy. I am a mental health nurse now.
-Cala is 6 years old and in first grade, and Audrie is 5 years old and in Kindergarten. (how did they grow up so fast?)
Other than that we are livin' and lovin' life here in Japan.
I promise to send more interesting points later, but that is all i have for now.
We miss you all, and hope to see your comments on our blog!