It always gets so much worse before it gets better.

Heyyyyy, it’s been AGES since I’ve blogged here. But I’m doing so now for a couple reasons:

  1. We’re not in Japan anymore! We’re back in DC, at least for a year.
  2. Today at the grocery store, a lovely woman named Kara (or is it Cara? Hi, Kara/Cara! It was so nice to meet you!) politely asked if I happened to be Bethany, and when I confirmed that I was, she said, “I read your blog!” :D

Sadly, I’ve basically abandoned this blog. It’s partly because Flickr changed so much that I didn’t like using it anymore, and Flickr was a big part of how I used to blog. And Facebook and Instagram sort of became a blog substitute for me. And then Rainbow told me to get on tumblr, and I did, and I found my people there. (If you find me on tumblr and follow me, feel free to send me a message telling me you used to read my blog!)

Another big part of the reason I stopped blogging is that the first year we were in Japan, I was pretty unhappy and probably depressed. I didn’t particularly want to go to Japan (nothing against it, Japan is a lovely country, but I’d never had any particular interest in it). But even more than that, I didn’t want to leave San Diego, and I definitely didn’t want to leave San Diego a year and a half ahead of schedule like we did.

That first summer we were there, it was SO hot and humid (my least favorite kind of weather). And Troy was deployed for almost two months in a row, so we missed him terribly, and I was in a strange country and we were living in a mess of half-unpacked boxes because I did what I could but there was a lot I needed Troy’s help to get done. And then Robin Williams died, and Mike Brown was killed and all the craziness was happening in Ferguson and around the country, and it all swirled together into this big stew of misery.

I did what I needed to do every day, I made sure my kids were fed and clothed and homeschooled, and that the bathrooms got cleaned once in a while. But that pretty much exhausted me, and I didn’t do much else. I barely crocheted the entire time we were there (I still owe my friend Erin’s son Atticus a baby blanket, and he turned 2 in May, oops), I rarely baked because my kitchen was frustrating, and I couldn’t paint pottery because there were no pottery-painting places in Japan, at least not the kind I like. I made a few casual friends, but no one I was close with.

So yeah. That first year in Japan was tough, but we got through it. And we got next-door neighbors the second summer we were there whom we really clicked with and loved, and they helped make our second year in Japan a lot more enjoyable.

Our second year in Japan, I did enjoy myself a lot more. I think a lot of that had to do with time, and becoming more familiar with and comfortable in the culture. By the time we left, I genuinely loved Japan and would happily travel back there for fun anytime. I think I wouldn’t even mind living there again, honestly, and would definitely make more of an effort to learn the language. (Because we lived on a US base and in a sizeable city, we were able to speak English almost everywhere we went. When we went places where people didn’t speak English as much, we mostly got by with the words we did know, and Google Translate. How did people manage before the internet and smartphones!?) We had lots of friends and family come visit us, too, which was fantastic. We got to do some really fun sight-seeing with them (my kids have now been to Tokyo Disney more often than they’ve been to Disneyland, heh), and it meant a lot to us that so many people were willing to come all the way to Japan to see us.

Anyway, now we’re in DC again, and we’re happy to be here! The Navy is sending Troy to grad school, again, and both girls are old enough now (Annalie turned 12 in May, and Elliora will be 6 in November) to enjoy museums and monuments, so we plan to enjoy ourselves as much as we can while we’re here.

Pierced and double-pierced

Pierced and double-pierced

Oh, and Elliora got her ears pierced today, and Annalie got hers double-pierced. They were both champs.

I can’t promise I’ll be blogging here much in the future, but I might show up every now and then. Otherwise, you can find me on twitter, instagram, FB, and tumblr. I hope you’re all well!

Outside my window I can see the multicolored Christmas lights we keep strung up on our back patio year-round, and beyond that the lights of the city.

I am thinking about the Morning Glory Muffins I want to make tonight. Have I ever blogged that recipe? I really should.

I am thankful for Troy. I mean, I’m thankful for a lot of things, but right now what’s on my mind is how awesome Troy is and how blessed I am to have such a fantastic husband who takes care of me and our girls with zero whining and who watches the big game in between grilling hot dogs for lunch and playing outside with Elliora and giving me a shoulder rub because I have a headache. Like, SERIOUSLY, you guys. I totally won the husband lottery, and I know it and I’m thankful for him every single day.

I am wearing a Nebraska Huskers t-shirt, a Nebraska huskers hoodie, stretch jeans with stars on them, Wonder Woman underwear that I bought in Australia, my wedding and engagement rings, tiny silver disc earrings, and a purple stretchy ponytail holder on my wrist.

I am remembering that I really do like blogging and I should try to get back into the habit, maybe. What do you think? I should also get back into the habit of reading blogs. Since Google Reader went kaplooie I basically don’t read blogs anymore. (Now I hang out on Tumblr. If any of you are on Tumblr and you follow me there, shoot me a message so I know you’re a blog reader! Or that you were a blog reader, back in the days when I blogged. Sigh.)

I am going to spend this coming Wednesday hanging out with Brenda and Bug and Heather, aka CC! Heather lives in NorCal now, so I hardly ever see her even though we live in the same state, and I miss her.

I am currently reading about six different things. Let me see. I’m reading Deadly Heat, the latest book by mystery author Richard Castle…who is the main character played by Nathan Fillion on the TV show Castle, of course. Don’t judge, they’re good books, and a lot of fun if you watch the show because they always have tons of easter eggs for fans. I’m also reading the latest Rick Riordan book, House of Hades. I’m re-reading Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl; I’m pretty much always reading one or another of Rainbow’s books. I haven’t picked either of them up for a while, but I’m also technically in the middle of reading Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Oh, and I’ve been reading Secret Agent Josephine in Paris (by guess who!) to Elliora at bedtime almost every night since we brought our copy home. It’s a really fun book–you should probably buy a copy or three if you haven’t already.

I am hoping that all the sleep I got last night (and all the sleep I’m planning to get tonight), all the Emergen-C and vitamin C I’ve been taking, and all the peppermint tea with honey I’ve been drinking are going to keep this cold from taking over my life for the next two weeks.

On my mind: Honestly? Thor: The Dark World. I just saw it today with Bonnie and Claire, and it was excellent. And Zachary Levi, AKA Chuck Bartowski, was in it! Forget Loki; I was more excited about Fandral.

—several hours pass while we eat dinner and get the kids to bed and watch episodes of Sleepy Hollow and White Collar and I make Morning Glory Muffins—

Noticing that I really don’t like this “True Airplane Disasters!” show that Troy is watching. (He changed the channel when I asked nicely.)

Around the house we still have way too much stuff. It’s a perpetual problem with growing children, I suppose. Also, our kids are the kind who shed belongings and leave a trail everywhere they go. I’ve become mostly-resigned to the fact that our house is just never going to be perfectly neat and organized. It’s either that, or spend my days nagging everyone to pick up their crap and living in a state of constant annoyance, and I don’t want to be like that. So most of the time I sigh and let it go.

In the kitchen, there are Morning Glory Muffins cooling on the counter and a sink full of dirty dishes.

One of my favorite things is our Fiber Friday homeschooling group. It’s basically a playgroup for the kids, and a knit/crochet/stitch/drink coffee/chat group for the moms. Everyone in that group is awesome and I’m grateful for them.

From my photo archive:

Ides of March fashion, by Annalie This is Elliora's Going-To-Pick-Up-Chinese-Food-With-Daddy outfit (with optional puzzle accessory), 100% selected by her.

On the left is a photo of Annalie in an outfit chosen entirely by her in March 2008, when she was almost 4. On the right is a photo of Elliora in an outfit chosen entirely by her today, when she is two weeks shy of her third birthday.

Eleanor & Park (and awesome ampersand bookmark made by the lovely @sarahsews2)

You’ve heard me talking about my friend Rainbow‘s second book Eleanor & Park, right? I feel like I’ve been talking about it incessantly for a year or so. Then again, lots of people have been talking about it, including John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars), who wrote an amazing review of E&P for the New York Times. I wrote a less-amazing but still heartfelt review for Goodreads:

Set in 1986 in a working-class neighborhood [in Omaha, NE], this book is funny and sad and geeky. Eleanor and Park are both misfits for different reasons: he’s half-Korean in a mostly-white neighborhood, and is into music and comics instead of sports; she’s big and awkward and poor, and defiantly flaunts her crazy red hair and weird clothes. They find themselves reluctantly drawn together, then falling for each other despite their friends’ derision and their families’ dismay and disapproval. A larger, more dangerous threat looms over one of them, skillfully woven throughout the story and coming to a climax in a way that will have you reading faster and faster to find out what will happen.

This story of first love, of how it’s almost always intense and heart-breakingly doomed, will take you right back to those breathless, stomachache-y days when love was desperate and overwhelming and just holding your beloved’s hand was enough to make you walk on air for weeks.

We made t-shirts (design by @secretagentjo) to wear to Rainbow's L.A. signing! ("You're so proud of you!") #latergram
Awesome dorks in matchy t-shirts (graphic by Brenda Ponnay) at Rainbow’s L.A. signing at Book Soup.

Rainbow happens to be in Southern California right now, doing a bunch of stuff, including appearing on a panel at Comic-Con this Sunday and a couple of signings at bookstores in Los Angeles and San Diego. So I’m gonna take this opportunity to give away a signed copy of Eleanor & Park.

I have some Eleanor & Park and Fangirl buttons to give away too, and some bookmarks with a number on them that you can text to get the first chapter of Fangirl (Rainbow’s next book, coming out in September, “a coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family, and first love”)! So even if you don’t win an autographed book, you could still win some cool stuff.

To recap and make it less confusing:

  1. If you’d like a chance to win, just leave a comment before midnight Sunday, 21 July, 2013. If you want to tell me your favorite book character who’s an outcast, like Eleanor, that would be cool. Or if you just want to tell me your favorite book, or your favorite candy bar, or your favorite color, that’s cool too. Basically, I have not blogged in three months (crazy, right!?) and I will be so thrilled with any and all comments that I don’t care what you say to me. Make sure you leave a valid email address so I can contact you.
  2. The contest will end at midnight Pacific time on Saturday night/Sunday morning. I’ll contact and announce the winners as soon after that as I can.
  3. One person will win a signed copy of Eleanor & Park, and at least three more people will win E&P and Fangirl buttons and bookmarks.

If you’d like to increase your chances of winning, my friend Bonnie is having almost this exact same giveaway at her blog. Go comment there to improve your odds!

If you’re a San Diego local and you’d like to come get your own signed copy of E&P, Rainbow’s doing a mini-panel with fellow YA author Leigh Bardugo tomorrow night, 19 July 2013, at the Mira Mesa Barnes & Noble at 6pm, with a signing after.

By the way…this happens to be my 1000th blog post. That’s part of the reason I have not blogged in so long. I kept thinking, “But it’s my thousandth post! I need to make it SPECIAL.” But that clearly wasn’t working for me, so to mark this momentous occasion you get a giveaway, which is appropriate since without you guys (if anyone is still around…hello?) I probably wouldn’t still be here. Thank you!