Thursday, February 26, 2015

Things happily going back to normal now...

Okay so don't laugh, but ever since I finished my last Kodomo Kai/Kids Club event. I feel so free and so happy now that my life can go back to normal. That I feel like standing on top of a mountain top, in a green lush field and twirling around and singing. I am just so proud of myself you guys, a whole year as a VP/fuku kaicho. I handled it, I did it. What did I learn about myself? I learned that I am stronger than I thought. : ) Anyway...just feeling pretty happy. : )  
McDonald's in Japan is currently having some Hawaiian items on the menu. Limited time only type of stuff. But their berry pancakes are so delicious! They also have a pulled pork on top a burger for sale at the moment too. Also, March 5th. Don't quote me on that date though, I could be off on the date, but I think March 5th is when McDonald's will bring back the banana shake (limited time only of course). The banana shakes there are awesome, so I can't wait! Yumm. 
I also baked some brownies with nuts inside. They were so good!

Fresh Off the Boat (pictured here) is probably one of the funniest TV shows around these days! It's hilarious. It's like, "Everybody Hates Chris" and the "Wonder Years" rolled into 1, but with an Asian twist. 

This kid here is the one telling his stories from the 80's or 90's. He's so funny this kid. What TV shows have I been watching? Fresh Off the Boat. The Blacklist. Little Women LA (there is so much drama on this show, but it's fun to watch) And Child Genius just ended last night. I am glad who won and who came in 2nd place too. Those two kids were my favorites. : )
This Monday, the day after the Eiken and the Kids Club. I went to Costco Chiba New town. This is what I picked up. Huge bag of Cheetos. Microwave popcorn (we have microwave stuff and the kernels at our house for popping on the stove) dinner rolls, pancakes, ham and provolone for ham sammy. Big hunk of colby cheese and a rotisserie chicken. I picked up a curry soup on the way out for my lunch. Dang that curry soup is good. : )
What else have I been up to. Well, I do like to place orders on Amazon.com every couple months. To pick up some movies or books. I am still waiting on a few DVD's to get to my house, Big Hero 6 (on the way), Unbroken (not released yet, but already ordered) and the new Hunger Games Mockingjay part 1 (not released yet, but already ordered too). Anyway, back to the picture,  Come See the Paradise is a good movie about the Japanese being put into camps during world war 2. It shows how bad it was, how unfair it was. This movie is so good, I used to have it on VHS, but geeze, we don't even have videos here at our house anymore or a VHS player. lol. But I did want this movie on DVD. Also, Stella probably my most favorite movie with Bette Midler. I know everyone says Beaches, and I love that too and own Beaches already. However Stella for me, is my most favorite with her in it. I am glad to own this on DVD now. I also picked The Interview. This movie caused quite a stir, I know. It was pulled from movie theaters, then put in "limited" theaters. Even Japan said they won't play this at the movies here in Japan. As for me, I love comedy's, I like to laugh. What I love about a movie is it has the power to make you laugh for the 2 hours. Think deeply (Come See The Paradise) Make you both laugh and cry (Stella) do I expect a movie to solve the worlds problems? No. It's a movie, and this one was supposed to be funny. Look at the Naked Gun movies, they poked fun at many people in those movies. Or the Scary Movie movies. They make and poke fun at the Exorcist and other people and movies too. The Interview might be a bad movie. It might be good. But I'd like to see it, so I am glad I own it. I also wanted a good book. I picked this book. Kissing Outside the Lines, by actress Diane Farr. You might know her from the TV show N3mbers. All sorts of TV shows. In fact I remember her from way back, on the short lived TV show Roswell. 

She too is in an interracial/mixed marriage with an Asian man. She's married to a man from South Korea. I have yet to read the book, but I hear she's very funny and talks a lot about her story between her and her husband. I will start reading this book this coming week, when I have some free time. I can't wait. : )
These are the pictures she shares in her book. Look at her face though. Her face to me says..she totally adores and loves her husband by looking at this picture. This picture made me smile, because I adore and love my husband too. : )  There *are* people like us, western women very happily married to Asian men. And when I see a book like this, heck yes I'll buy it. Because I can relate. : )  If Anna Chlumsky (the girl from My Girl) wrote a book (she too is married to an Asian man) I'd buy her book too. : )

One last pic of inside the book. And sorry this picture went sideways. Look at Diane Farr with her husband and their 3 gorgeous kids. : ) I can't wait to dive into this book. : )


Anyway those are the things that have been up around my house lately. Tonight we are leaving on a 2 night weekend get away type trip. We are staying at 2 different hotels. One night we will be in Hakone. We will be going to the awesome onsen place we usually go to. We are already all packed. As soon as the boys get out of school this evening, we will be leaving. The school knows they will be absent tomorrow (Noboru wrote a note). However, Branden is done with all his tests until April. Both Bran and Noah have nothing needing to be done at school. They both are caught up with all homework, both get super grades. And now...that I am no longer a yakuin member anymore. My weekends belong to me again. So we are heading out tonight. : )

Our swim suits are all packed away. PJs, etc. Also I heard this onsen place really remodeled like crazy and the wine bath is inside now. So...we will see. Online people... say it's funner now. So, we look forward to that. : ) 

They always have seasonal ice creams. We plan to have Italian while in Hakone, we also plan to go and get some of those black eggs. And just sorta get back to our fun free time. 
At the hotel we stay at, in Hakone, the room we get has 2 bedrooms/sleeping areas, 1 is a tatami room and the other room has 2 beds. The hotel also has a nice onsen to soak in at night.So we're looking forward to that too. 

We skipped coming here last year because my weekends weren't really available, but now we can go and enjoy. : )

Their breakfasts are really good. The kids get a nice french toast, salad and soup and fruit etc. 
Also this weekend, we will be staying at the hotel near Ikspiari. Again...we have those free night stays to use up and March is the last month to use them. So 1 night in Hakone and 1 night at the other fun hotel and we did book the bunk bed room. : ) Anyway...just 1 very happy family thrilled that their lives are getting back to normal now that the yakuin stuff is over and done with. We need this you guys...we really do. : ) Anyway, I'll catch up with you all on Sunday or Monday. Probably Monday. No rush...now that I actually have the time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.  You know what I mean. : )  

Also, maybe I should wait to mention it? But what the heck. Noboru requested days off at the end of March and he got it already! Approved. So at the end of March we will be heading to Guam for a few nights. Staying at my dad's. But...can't wait. Time to see a few movies and stock up on a ton of food, which I ran out of since October. So yep...things going back to normal for us all around here now that the yakuin stuff is finished. Hallelujah. : )  Alrighty, I better end this post now. I could post on Sunday, but what the heck...I'm gonna just relax Sunday. And I'll try and catch up with you all on Monday. : )  Have a good weekend everyone. : ) 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sunday, February 22nd, my last Kodomo Kai/Kids Club event and Branden's Eiken level 2 interview done...

Last week, I think I posted only once last week? I'm actually proud of myself for finding an available moment to post because last week was quite possibly the busiest and most stressful weeks for me out of the whole past year. It was pure crazy town, last week. Let's catch up. : ) Okay, so you know Bran did the Eiken level 2 right? At the end of January. Anyway, so the paperwork said if your child passes, they would be doing a verbal interview approximately 1 month afterwards. They also said we'd be getting the Eiken passing test shortly however, ours never came. Also each child is supposed to have a 2 number password code, but the rules at our particular JHS they only give you 1 of those and they don't want students to know the other. @_@ So we couldn't even check online, if Branden passed. Which yes he did, but we didn't know. When I had finally had enough waiting (meaning my friend already had her daughters results, that goes to a JHS in the small city near us) I said enough is enough. Had Noboru call the JHS. He phoned them and they said they had given the results back eons ago. @_@ I knew Branden didn't have it, because he also wanted his results. Turns out they were given out during bukatsu (sports club time) and nobody bothered to check if perhaps Branden did or didn't get his results. Really irritating. But anyways so when we finally get the long awaited results... the yes he passed part...then we read and on the form said...your interview is February 22nd. Insert panic now! That's the date of my very last yakuin "good bye to the 6th graders" how can I be at 2 different places at once. Okay let's be sensible about this...can we think of an alternative? Can Noboru take Branden for his Eiken interview? Sadly no he can't, he has work that day.  Noboru's family is in Osaka. Uncle Jun worked that day. My family is in America. And I'm most certainly not about to let Branden ride the train alone...Lester the Molester could snatch my son and I'd never see him again. Okay granted my son is now probably just as tall, if not taller than most Japanese male adults. And quite muscular but still, to me...for my sake of mind, he is my son and I worry about him. All last week, I thought and I thought. I have a duty to the yakuin. It is my last task. My last yakuin job and then I am done. However, my duty for my son... for both my children trumps the yakuin. I am sorry...but if you are a mama you will understand. Heck if you are a papa you will "get that" too. I just couldn't see anyway around it. So, I emailed the VP. I said very honestly and truthfully. "I apologize, we found out rather last minute when the next Eiken test would be...it happens to fall on the same day. I will be happy to come, but I will *have* to leave at the latest at 10:30am." There's just no other way around it...she wrote me back in less than 10 minutes saying...absolutely no problem at all. She totally understands. And sure...I should leave at 10:30am. And she also said...tell Branden CONGRATULATIONS. This by the way is the Jinbei Boy's mom, one of Branden's closest friends. And remember we went to the Indian restaurant together a few weeks back. So it is good to have a personal relationship. And plus they know...I have never been late to a meeting ever. I have never missed an event. So I'm no flake...let's just put it that way. But really... there was no other way around it. So anyway problem 1 was solved. Now problem 2. Do we take the train or do we drive? The test was to be at Narita International High School. However I had no idea where in Narita it was/is located. I do know that Narita on weekends gets lots/tons of car traffic...parking is scarce. Especially since we come from a puny tiny rural town. So last Thursday, Noboru and I took a trial/practice run in the car. I wanted to see for myself, where the school is located #1 and #2 I wanted to see for myself if there would be parking or not. Friday was the plan for taking the train from my town to the school. So Thursday we drove there. Here are the basics. Narita International High School has ZERO parking! There are 3 pay parking places near but the fee/rate on the signs said 1000 yen. $10US basically. There was 2 free parking spaces, the park across the street, but Noboru said to me to expect the parking there to be taken because many people go to the park on Sundays, he specifically mentioned grandpa's practicing their golf swing. @_@ However the good part and positive is...I felt me driving to the school was pretty easy. So, I decided to drive and hope for the best on the parking. My #1 worry was now...parking...would I get one? Or would we be screwed and I'd be driving around the block like 100 laps. So that was my biggest concern and worry. So Friday February 20th. I didn't need to take the train to the school for practice because I had already decided to drive. My gifts for the kids club arrived via Rakuten. I did managed to find a bit of time to post, also last Friday. And I made pizza dough that morning also and let it sit and rise all day. Finished cleaning the house and after school, swung around and picked up both the boys from school. It has been raining buckets off and on this whole past week. The 4 of us enjoyed some homemade from scratch pizza and we had salads too. So that was Friday evening. February 20th.

Saturday, I made a simple chicken curry with veggies. We also had a side salad. It was a low key chill day, February 21st.  Granted I was a tad worried how the next day would go down. Would I find my way back to the school? I have my kiddo depending on me! Would I get a parking? Sigh, that parking was making me a ball of nerves. Please say I get a parking spot! 

While the kids were in the shower and getting their PJs on, I meanwhile got the kodomokai gifts packed up. I had to buy 5 gifts for boys and 3 gifts for girls. I was reimbursed. The price on Amazon was 900 yen each. Which is sky high. But I found them half cheaper on Rakuten. Because of my savings, each child could now get 2 boxed eraser making kits, versus just 1. Every boy received a hamburger combo/set eraser making kit and a sushi eraser making kit. The girls received a donut and a chocolate eraser making kit. : ) 

I found really nice cloth gift bags from the Daiso. : )

Two presents per package. I hope they liked them. Since I left 30 minutes after it began, I have no idea if they liked them or not. I hope whoever received them, liked them. : )

Because the Bingo game would be the 2nd to last event, they let Noah pick a gift before we left. Noah wanted the eraser making kit, basically the present I picked for the kids. Fair enough, he knew what was inside and liked them. : ) I mentioned to the ladies, not to worry about getting any snacks or drink for Noah. However, that night...after the Eiken, after everything the prez showed up at my door with an additional gift for Noah and snacks and a drink. I mentioned...Noah has his gift remember? She said..."so many kids didn't show today...please give this to Noah-chan." And she smiled. I head bowed her and I said thank you. What a good friend. : ) 

She also gave me these drinks...yakuin members usually get drinks afterwards. again I told her...I barely did anything. She said...you did plenty and gave these to me. : ) She's a very good lady. And I am lucky she is my friend. : ) 
Two eraser making kits and a chocolate fondue type a set. I know what Noah will be doing now (he says he will share with his brother). : )  Anyway so let's get to the bare bones of that day. Sunday February 22nd.

I went to bed by 9pm the night before. I knew how important Sunday was for me. I knew I had my yakuin duties. I also had to drive B to the Eiken and I had to be on my A game. I couldn't get lost. I need a parking...even a pay 1000 yen type a parking. But most important thing I needed to get some sort of parking. I woke up at 5:30am on Sunday. I had 1 hot coffee. Read my emails. Sadly had no time to reply to any of them. Read some online news. Went upstairs, washed my face, brushed my teeth. Some face lotion. Waited a few minutes, put my make up on. Flat ironed my hair. Woke up the kids. I told them this exactly...because I am honest to my kids...they need to know what's up.

"Today is going to be *crazy* busy...we have a few tiny hoops we have to jump through today kids. But if we can clear all the hoops... at the end of the day...we're going to be done. And I don't mean slightly done. I'm talking..."mama's done with the yakuin kids club duties FOREVER" type done. Okay so hoop #1 we gotta go and do mom's kids club duty first. Step #2, mom needs to find her way to Narita International High School. Step #3 is the most important step of the day kids...mom needs a parking. If mom gets a parking, you can all let out a huge sigh of relief. Most important step of the day, get a parking. Step 4 Branden do your Eiken...you got this kiddo and that's up to you. Step 5 we need to find our way back home. LOL. Once we are done. We will be doing the booty dance, the happy dance...the... we did it dance, yay us. Does everyone understand the goals of today? Any questions? Anyone anyone...Bueller Bueller?" They understood. They ate some cereal real quick. I ate nothing. Call it nerves or what. But I had 1 cup of coffee and that is it for me, all day long. The kids took 1 long tube of Pringles sour cream and onion chips in the car for just in case. Our day did not allow lunch. Sorry. It was just gonna be one of those days. I also had two 500ml yuzu drinks in the car half frozen. In case anyone was dying of thirst that day. Everyone got dressed and ready. Set and go! Off to place #1. I was the first to arrive at the plaza. Probably because I felt so guilty and bad about having to leave the kids club event so early. We all started setting up right away. Branden unloaded the speaker and microphone stuff out of the prez's car. Noah and I carried things into the big gymnasium type area. I also carried my gifts inside as well. Oh how was the weather Sunday? Freezing cold...gray overcast and raining super hard all day long. I also traded cars with Noboru that day. Because the mini minivan is super tiny and can fit anywhere and again I was already worried about parking, so taking the smallest slimmest car was sorta important for that day. Us yakuin was there at the plaza. The new replacement yakuin was supposed to also show up however out of 7 of them, only 1 showed. The one who showed has a son is Branden's grade and a daughter who is a 5th grader right now and will be a 6th grader in April. And we also asked any current 6th grade mom's who are not yakuin to also come and help... out of a bunch, only 3 came and helped. 2 of them came from my street. So I was happy. : )  Yay boy next door's mom and also yay for R's mama. : )  I made 2 paper mache carnations while waiting. We all needed about 6, I made 2 of them while others helped too. The kids all arrived at 10am. It was fun. I watched and helped 2 different games. The last game I watched, I was laughing so hard. The kids were running in a hamster wheel type thing...handmade out of cardboard boxes. It was hilarious. It was so funny I was crying...happy tears. And this was good because it took my mind on the busy-ness of the day. By the time I looked...it was time to leave. I waved Noah to come to me and we went and grabbed Branden out of the library and I waved at my fellow yakuin members and they all told Branden good luck!!! We hopped in the gray/silver mini mini van and we hit the road. I told the boys. Okay kids...task #1 is completed. Now we must all keep our eyes on the road and make sure mom gets to Narita International High School. Having only driven there once before in my life. I didn't miss a beat! I got us there absolutely no problem. No trouble at all actually. Before we were about to arrive though...I started to worry about the parking spot. My stomach was in knots, you guys. As we turned the corner, I see every parking space available in the first parking for the park. Relief. However as I got to the entrance the entrance was closed. It was gated. Duh, no wonder every space was available...it's closed! Remain calm Gina...remain calm. I know there is another similar size parking up ahead, but my odds of it being closed is high. I see a small parking spot between the 2 public park parking spots and I pull in. What is this place? I don't know. I see 5 open parking spots. The Eiken interview for everyone and about a bazillion kids getting there is 12:50am. It is now currently 11:05am. Yes I purposely left freakishly early to hopefully give me an advantage of finding a parking. I quickly park my car in a spot. The spots are so narrow, thank goodness I traded cars for the day. I do not want to get too overly happy though. I ask Branden to read the sign of this place. He says it's a sports center. I trust Branden. But to make sure my car won't be towed away. I take a picture via LINE. Send it to Noboru. he calls me back saying the same exact thing Branden did...and Noboru says...you are allowed to park there for free! Huge sigh of relief. I thanked Noboru hung up. And exhaled really big again. I did it!!! I found a parking space. I now know...it is only because I wisely came freakishly early. By the way... there was a mother and JHS daughter also waiting for the Eiken test, 2 cars away. They were there even earlier than us. The kids and I sat in the car for almost an hour. Until noon. At noon we hopped across the street and stood in line. Sign in was at 12:15. The lady hopped out of her car 2 cars down, when I opened my car. So she and her daughter and me and the boys hopped the street together. And made out way to Narita International High School together. At the entrance, there was 4 eighth graders from our town JHS. They all in unison greeted me and bowed. I greeted them. The lady and her JHS daughter now turned around and looked at me and she asked me, if I was one of the Eiken examiners. @_@ No, I am not...they live in the same town as us, I told her. "Ohhh" she said. : ) That made me smile. We stood in line. There was 2 kids in front of me and the kids. We were 3rd. But the first signing in for the level 2. I had told both boys that morning not to forget their inside shoes. That we would obviously be needing them at the high school. I packed Branden's in the Adidas bag. I packed up Noah's and I packed my slippers too. The note said this school has no slippers to borrow anyone. @_@ As we were 3rd standing in line. Branden tells me...."I forgot my inside shoes at home"..."you forgot your shoes...how on earth could you forget your inside shoes, I packed them in a bag for you and everything" Given the fact I have a western face...and someone just mistaken me for the examiner. @_@ I do stick out. And given I am now speaking at super speeds to my son, well because I am slightly irritated. I stop and remind myself something, that usually helps me. "It is, what it is" So, I immediately stop. I breath deeply and I just say in a quiet voice. "I love you honey...I wish you would have brought your shoes. It's clearly too late to do anything about it now. Would you like to borrow my slippers" He looks at me beyond mortified and says. "Mom your slippers look like ballet shoes." I said..."yes, well because I'm a girl." Yeah I know, he says...no thanks. "Alrighty suit yourself sweet pea."...By now I am just glad I got there... glad I found a parking. And sure I wish he had his shoes...but you know what...it is, what it is. My getting all riled up about it... is gonna do nothing, except perhaps give me a stress heart attack. Am I right or what? Hahaha. So, I just chill and stand next to my child...mellow and feeling relief.

About 10 minutes later, my really good friend comes to say "hey!!!" Her daughter rocked the level 2. She has experience taking the other tests. So, she is a pro at knowing this stuff. She tells me, "let's go sit in the parents room. There is a heater and stuff in there and we can't go where the kids are anyways" So, I told Branden I would be in the parents room and I told him good luck. She is honestly one of my *very* best friends here in Japan. We go to movies together, out to lunch together. We have a plan to go to the movie in March. We went to Coco's together a while back. She has 2 beautiful daughters. Her oldest daughter is an 8th grader, but I knew her oldest daughter since she was a blue badge/nencho of yochien. And she knew Bran since he was a 2nd to last year of yochien, a nenchu. I knew her youngest daughter since she was 3 years old and she knew Noah since he was a baby!!! We've been friends for years. So we went in the parents room. Everyone sorta sat separated from each other, the other parents and nobody talked to another, except us, hahaha.  We just chit chatted and non stop talked the entire time. It was so nice to be there with a friend.  The Eiken was to start at 1pm and given Branden was first in line for the level 2 and the test was only 5-7 minutes. By now it's 1:45pm, and my friend and I are still chatting. I did open the door and saw Bran at the end of the hallway still standing in the first place spot. So we were wondering, what...why? A man came and spoke so loudly in the hall, that all us parents heard. He said...sorry but the morning group testing/taking the interview ran way over time so that's why they are delayed. Also apparently there was a whole other group testing at 4pm-ish. @_@  Okay...now that we knew it would be delayed. We just kept talking. Noah was meanwhile using his tablet. So he was occupied. But he was right near us 2 mamas. : )  As soon as the afternoon kids got moving Branden came out fairly quick. I waved and said good-bye to my friend and we left. I looked for her daughter because I wanted to tell her..."good luck and gambatte" but Branden apparently talked to her upstairs, he told me...she was upstairs. So I could not say hi! 


Anyway...so we we left the building and it was still raining. And there were cars all parking along the roads...even though there were huge..."don't park here" signs...just lots of parents sitting and waiting in cars for their kids. That made me so thankful we came early when we did. Also the line of kids...was HUGE. There were about 80-90 kids in the level 2 lane and over 100 in the level 3 lane. Not even counting the ones upstairs. And the morning group of kids and the evening group of kids. Huge mass amounts of kids basically.  We now get into the car. And I happily turn to the kids and I say...1 step left. That's just get ourselves home! Within 5 minutes of getting into the car. Noah was fast asleep in the back seat all nicely strapped into his booster seat and stuff though. Branden's now bigger than me, so he rides in the front seat with me. And we had the radio streaming from Denver playing. Kool 105 an oldies radio station. 70's and 80's. I'm driving in the rain. After we realize Noah is zonked out to the world in the back seat. Branden turns to me and says. "mom?" I said while driving "yes?"  "I'm really sorry I forgot my shoes today, that was pretty careless of me and I should have brought them"...I think for a few seconds. Because in that instant I realize...man what a good kid he is. So, I say..."that's okay Bran, sometimes people forget stuff, we're not perfect, we all forget stuff from time to time honey and I don't ever want you to think you have to be perfect okay...because you're already perfect to me" I forgot to take my camera today to the kodomo kai and my phone... I even forgot and left it in the car...right?" He said...yeah you're right. Then the conversation stops...the windshield wiper blade are going back and forth a mile a minute, because it is raining like crazy. We both sit buckled into our seats listening to the radio. A couple minutes later Branden said again.."mom?" I answered.."yes?" And he just simply said..."thank you for driving me today"...I pat his knee twice and I say.."oh honey, you are most welcome...I will always be there for you and your brother NO MATTER WHAT, okay? No matter what!!!" The car goes quiet again. Between Narita and our town we mostly have curvy roads with few stop lights. However about 10 minutes later at a red light, I turn and look at Branden and he's fast asleep. I turn my head and see a fast asleep Noah in the back seat too. At this instant I feel so happy. I took a deep sigh. Happy sigh. : ) I now drive a tad slower, because my 2 most important treasures in my whole life are strapped in the car with me and I want to keep them both safe. So, I watch my driving. And just quietly listen to the radio all the way back to our tiny town. It's around 3:05pm by the time we arrive home. Honestly I am dead exhausted and I am so freaking hungry! I had not 1 dot to eat all day long. We already had a plan the day ahead that for Sundays dinner we would be going to Saizeriya. Because well...I would be out all day long. I would be exhausted. Noboru was at work all day long too. I did *so* good Sunday, I tried so hard...I kicked major butt. : ) I had a bunch of tasks that needed to get scratched off the list and I did them all. And we were now home. I pulled into the drive way. Noboru was just arriving at home too. I woke the boys and we went into the house. Phew. What a day. It was not a horrible day. It was a good day actually. Just a *very* busy day. Slightly nerve wracking day... only because I was worried about parking. But other then that. It went pretty well. The fact that it was such a rainy day, played in my favor and that's probably the only reason there was parking available when I got there. So very happy it rained all day Sunday.
Dinner picture from that evening at Saizeriya. I had pasta and pizza. Noah and Bran both had a doria and a pizza each and Noboru had a hamburg meal. We all had the drink bar. Branden shared his Eiken test story. He said his examiner was Japanese. However the shocking part for Branden was he said that his tester looked EXACTLY like Noboru. He said, "dad he looked exactly like you...not similar, but exactly the same." Hahaha. So that sorta caught Branden by surprise. LOL.  We all had so many stories to share with one another during dinner. Branden's JHS tests are now over with until April! Branden's Eiken is done. So Branden is sorta free now ...sure he has regular homework, but he feels really good now. And me...A whole year, of a whole lotta busy. Just finished and completed. Granted I do have 1 last meeting March 29th but that is for us to go and report our end of service to the housing community committee. The 2  kids club accountants will do all the talking I will just stand there or sit there, same for the rest of us. Technically the accountants could go alone without the rest of us...but by us going it officially ends our term. And the new yakuin becomes official that day too. From what I hear, they will be there too. But besides the technical signing over part on March 29th, I am done ya'll. I am now free, free, free. My weekends now belong to me and my family. My time is now my own. And I have been a yakuin at the school before, but it's not nearly as time consuming as this kids club stuff is. Because  the kids club stuff is on weekends and evenings...that's why it gobbles up so much free time. The shogakko/elementary school yakuin stuff never took this much of my time. Whatever though...I am done. Phew. : )  Anyway that is the story of Sunday February 22nd for our family. Eiken level 2 is done and my yakuin duties are complete. Just 1 last meeting March 29th though. : )

Friday, February 20, 2015

Passing the first part of the Eiken level 2...

Branden took the Eiken test at the end of January 2015. His first time ever in his life, taking this specific type a test, meaning the Eiken. And he passed. He started with the level 2. Level 1 is the best and passing that means you're done with taking the Eiken. The starter Eiken is level 5? And gets harder the lower the number goes down to. Since he has no experience taking the Eiken, we wanted him to take a level that would be an easy pass....meaning easy for him to pass and that would give him the experience of taking it. That way if he wants to take another one, the next time around, he at least has the experience of having taken the test before under his belt. So for Branden starting with the Eiken level 2 was a great idea. Great starting point for him. : )  This paper says he passed. The 2 big bold kanji means/says he passed.
A lot of people might not share the specific testing results, but I'll share. Remember this test is measuring his English. So the top line is Branden's grammar, out of 20 questions he got 19 right/correct. So he missed 1. The 2nd line is his reading. This kid loves to read anything and everything in English. In fact most nights, I find Branden reading one of his many Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and have to ask him to turn off his light that sits on top of his night stand and go to sleep. Hahaha. And that's even after we already jointly read together at night too and the kid is still reading. He got 17 right out of 20 questions. He missed 3. I was surprised, that he missed 3 actually, but again though no worries. And the 3rd line is Branden's listening. How good is Branden at listening to English and be able to answer questions about what he just heard.  I knew this score was going to be sky high...since we speak only in English at our home and his mom/me is an American who talks and speaks and chatters non stop to them in English, our TV is all in English, we stream radio from America, my kids hear American accents everywhere they turn in this house, hahaha. I had no worries. And as expected his English listening skills were a perfect 30 out of 30. Well done kiddo! I'm awfully proud of you. : )

Noboru has really never wanted our kids to take the Eiken. Granted he's not anti-Eiken. It's just I mentioned it years ago and his response to me was..."honey that's for Japanese-only type a kids, our kids are completely and totally bilingual, it would be weird for them to take the Eiken" Granted is he right..is he wrong? You know...Noboru is a lovely guy and if he personally feels that way, okay. You know...not everybody feels the same about everything. Do you know what I mean. : ) So again...I never really mentioned it after that. And what are my feelings? I'm not against the Eiken, at all...in fact I have many western mom friends with hafu children who have taken it before. And they felt it was A-okay taking it, as do I. So really...either way, I'm pretty flexible. Let's just put it this way...we sincerely never pushed our kids to take the Eiken. : ) However..the Eiken is taken at our local actual JHS. First time...back in June or around there. A handful of Branden's classmates took it and Branden did not. Branden mentioned it. I told Branden "if you'd like to take it honey..you can." Branden then asked his dad. Noboru said..."son you don't need to take that test to measure your English skill, you speak English just like your mom"..which yes he does, and so does Noah. So Branden said...okay and he did not take it. Then the Fall came and again another Eiken at the local JHS. Branden said..more of my classmates are taking it. So and so is taking the level 5, and these many people are taking the level 4 and 1 person is taking the 3. Again I said..."honey if you'd like to take the Eiken you can." He mentioned it to his dad. And again Noboru said.."son you really don't need to take it" So Branden didn't take it. Keep in mind the kids who pass the Eiken at our JHS get awards in front of the rest of the school. They are made to feel really super duper, the kids who take the Eiken at our particular JHS. Anyway so in December right before Christmas/New Year's break once again... Branden brought home a paper given to all kids. Another Eiken being taken at the end of January 2015. I now know...my son wants to take it. For whatever reason, he wants to and I see that. And if he feels he needs and wants to take this test, then by all means...I'm down with that too. So, I said, here is the 6,000 yen about $60 US. And he signed up for the Eiken January 2015. 


When my kids were born. I always knew that I would always only ever speak to them in my native tongue. English. It is my mother tongue and it is also my heart language. When I say to my child...I love you. For me it has so much powerful feelings and emotions and meaning for me behind those words. As they grew up into toddlers and elementary age kids. The way I relate to my kids. I do so in English. Even with a teenager in the house...if he's acting up...I say.."you're outta line mister!" Hahaha. : ) But for me...our language we communicate in...is ONLY English. I did send the both of them to English Kumon since age 3, which I am *so* glad I did that. Also for Japanese Kumon too. I sent them for Japanese because well..I am not Japanese and they could learn Japanese from Kumon and be at the same level as their classmates. However I sent them to English Kumon for different reasons. I sent them to English Kumon for back up/re-enforcement. While we worked on English work books at home, they also meanwhile got English homework from their Kumon teacher too. The thing I most loved about English Kumon is that they had classmates or friends who were also taking English Kumon. They didn't feel all alone doing it. So between what I worked on with them with at home...in our English workbooks and the English Kumon. My kids were both sorta tag teamed in English. They got the English reading and writing double (from me and also from Kumon.) And again it helped Branden knowing 3 of his shogakko/Elementary classmates were also taking it. It helped Noah know one of his classmates was taking it too. They weren't just doing it all alone. I have read to Branden before bed every night until he reached age 10...then I figured he was old enough to start reading to ME. Hahaha. I'd read 1 page, he'd read 1, I'd read 1 and so on. he would hear my American rhythm and way I read naturally and then when it was his turn...he'd read just like me on the next page. Places I'd pause. Or how I'd stretch out a certain word. Or stress a certain syllable. Yep...age 10 it switched to... we would read jointly. : ) Noah is only 9 right now so I am still just reading to him every night (it's our special one on one time and to read a special story) but once July 7th hits and he hits age 10. He will have to read 1 page and I'll read the next and he will mimic my reading style and accent with regards to the way I read and stuff. And that joint reading stuff is just for our bedtime stories. Noah reads to me many times by himself during the week anyways, as he should be. Plus Noah reads to me every Saturday for an hour. And Noah actually likes reading to me too. And I like hearing it. : )  And that's basically how they learned to speak anyways too. By hearing me all the time. And believe me at home...I am a chatterbox. No wonder Branden got 100% on his listening hahaha. Usually the taped listening part of the Eiken is an American person reading a passage/blurb at fast/normal speeds and they then ask you...what you just heard. Such as a questions of what they just heard. Meaning how well can you hear regular speed English and understand it. I don't slow anything down at my house. And have never....just all their lives they had to hear lightening fast English. And have just always understood mommy/me. Same with my family...they just talk a mile a minute and they do just fine. : )

Branden will have a speaking interview soon. Since he passed the first part of the Eiken 2. I really am not worried about the 2nd part of the test...the interview at all because his speaking and back and forth conversation skills are completely normal/fine. So no worries about that at all. : ) Phew. Will Branden take the next Eiken, in June or whenever? You know...if he wants to take it...we'll let him. To us though... he really has nothing to prove, we know how good his English skills are already. But again if he wants to, that's fine too. But it's going to have to be his decision and up to Branden. Meanwhile...Noah now wants to take the Eiken. Again younger brother wanting to copy big brother. I think Noah could take the Eiken 3 and pass it, as is, no problem. But again...it's going to have to be up to them. Plus there's no real rush either. Noah's barely in the 3rd grade.  But yep, not bad for Branden passing the Eiken level 2, as a 7th grader. Proud of you kiddo! : )

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day...

I hope everyone had a fantastic Valentine's Day. : ) On Friday the 13th, dundundun! Lol. February 13th (Friday), after the boys got out of school, the 4 of us zipped to Costco Chiba New Town for some Valentine's Day goodness for the next day for the entire family! Huge size of tiramisu and cookies. And the cheese was not for Valentine's Day, lol it is for an upcoming pizza. : )

I also made sure to buy something for the boys. Just some small little treats that I know they'd love. They did both get Valentine's day treats this year as they always do, but Branden asked me not to share pics this year of his stuff. Fair enough. He's 13 now and so, I said okay. Done and done. : )  Noah loving to copy everything Branden does...said yes mine too. So no pics of the treats the girlies gave this year. : ) 
I meanwhile got a little something something from Shu Uemura and as I am not a teenage boy, I don't mind sharing pics at all. : ) 

Shu's powder foundation called "the lightbulb." I first read about it on Biteki magazine. Listed as one of the best powder foundations that gives you beautiful looking skin. My interested peaked so... I watched a few reviews in English about this foundation on YouTube, and everyone seems to love it and the coverage is medium. Giving you a nice healthy glow (like a lightbulb) not shimmery or disco ball glittery at all. Just like a glow from within. I don't do disco ball glittery on my skin at all, eyes I don't mind, but not the face.  The glow from within, is faked with help of this. So yeah...after reading what they said in Japan about it...heard the reviews on YouTube in English about it, I was interested.  

Glow, plus good coverage plus, UV protection SPF 30 PA+++. Doesn't hurt to at least try it. So I am. : ) 

774 Light beige. The lady color matched me. 

Place for the sponge, just like how the Mac Studio Fix is, with the sponge down below.

My Mac Studio Fix powder foundation in the color NC20 on the left. Is a dead on match, for color 774 light beige. Fair skin with yellow undertones. Looks natural.

Top liquid foundations on the right hand page and top powder foundations on the left. Says foundations to give you beautiful looking skin. I do plan to try out the powder foundation that ranked #1. It's just it's a "Japan only" brand. Which is okay and I do plan to try it out. But I was attracted to try the Shu Uemura one first, because of it's high ratings both in Japan and overseas. Which is why I tried that one first.  

Ranking 3rd best in Japan, is not so bad at all actually.  In the end will I love it? I honestly don't know. I'm still test driving it. ; ) In a month or two, I will be test driving the one that was ranked #1 though. : ) 

The Shu Uemura lady helping me, gave me 2 samples of 2 different types of their cleansing oil (which is amazing) and a serum sample too. 
Valentine's Day dinner. We went and had dinner at our favorite yakiniku restaurant. That is one heck of a huge platter of rosu (lean beef) And an extra smaller platter of rosu in the background.


My porcelain prince grilling up some marinated rosu. : )

Bran and Noboru grilling their meats on the grill on the other grill. It was a very chill and relaxed Valentine's Day dinner. We celebrated it as a family, that's just the way we roll around here. : ) Loved that it fell on a Saturday this year. And also loved that I had no yakuin meetings this last weekend either. 

When I was growing up, there used to be in the National Enquirer magazine a little paragraph/blurb every week that read...Happiness is. I used to read that blurb every week. Thoroughly enjoying what is happiness to different people...because *it is* different to each and everyone. Here's mine for February 2015. Happiness is being with my family, eating good food, enjoying the conversation. Just enjoying and living in that moment. Realizing that in 10 years the kids will be grown and I will miss the times like these, SO MUCH. So, enjoying the times like this...are so important for me. Anyway...that is what I think about when I look at this picture. The conversation and the laughter coming from our table, the smell of the food grilling.  Spending time with the ones who matter so much to me. : )

I also ordered some onion slices. Delicious on the grill. : )

We drove through the drive-thru at Starbucks along the way home. A hot caramel machiatto. The 4 of us thoroughly stuffed from dinner beyond belief. : ) Came home, enjoyed some dessert. Tiramisu or cookies. The kids had both, hahaha. Noboru and I just enjoyed a little tiramisu. Everyone took turns showering and into jammies. We just enjoyed good TV and relaxed the rest of the night. A very low key Valentine's Day, I know...but a perfect one for us! : )