Saturday, July 23, 2016

Summer break family fun! Going to the movies to see Finding Dory and Kua'Aina for dinner...

Wednesday, July 20th! The last day of school for both Branden and Noah. And only a half day at that. July 20th was the day we had our family plan to go and see Finding Dory. It may have come out in the USA a month ago. However it barely opened for us in Japan, July 16th. So 4 days after it opened we went and saw it. We went and saw this at the only movie theater in Chiba prefecture that offers it in English (sound) the original...way it was made. Versus being dubbed in Japanese. We caught the 6:30pm showing. We arrived at Ikspiari at 4:30pm-ish. We bought our tickets right as we got there and then we just walked around the mall a bit, to kill some time. 

Japanese subtitles. I really love this movie theater. I love the people working here. I love the delicious popcorn and drink combos they sell here and their prices are wonderful. Just the whole vibe of this place is so nice. 

The kids got a large caramel popcorn and 2 sodas (1 each)

Noboru and I got a large half and half (half salt half caramel) and 2 sodas too (1 each)

I saw these seats when we saw Zootopia. Knew these would be best for us for next time. Noah and Bran sat in front. And Noboru and I sat behind them. We had no other people sitting next to us and that was so perfect for us! And that way, if the kids needed to go to the restroom before the movie started there wouldn't be a whole bunch of people in our same row or aisle. Best seats for our family, hands down. 

This movie theater was filled to the gills. So many people, it was seriously packed! Glad we picked the seats we picked. What did we think about Finding Dory? We loved it! During the movie during many scenes the whole movie theater was laughing hard! And laughing loud! It's so nice to be around people who enjoyed the movie too. Would I buy it on DVD? Yes, I would. I'd love to have Finding Dory in my collection. 

I completely forgot to take a picture of our meals until they were half over/eaten! I'm so sorry. But, we went to Kua'Aina for dinner after the movie.I had a chicken teriyaki chargrilled sandwich on whole wheat and onion rings and a large guava juice. The food is so good here!
Noboru, Bran and Noah each picked a chargrilled cheeseburger and fries combo with soda. We ate, enjoyed our meal. And drove back home! It's very far from where we live. While we rode the toll highways to Ikspiari (we needed to get there as soon as possible). We drove the regular roads back home. Just cheaper that way. And we got home at 11:30pm. It was indeed super late. But considering...it was the last day of school. We were just starting our summer break. And wanting a fun way to celebrate and this was perfect. And heck...it doesn't matter if we got home late that night. We could sleep in the next day. And we did. We slept in until 8am the next day! Finding Dory? Amazing and such a fun movie! Kua'Aina? Delicious as always! A fun way to kick start summer? Done! : )

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Throwback Thursday...

In the summer of 2008, my nephew K came to spend 2 weeks with our family during the summer break! We were so excited he could come and spend some time with us! He is also half American too. He is the older brother of my fabulous niece J, who you might recall from my New Year's post this past January. Out of 3 kids my MIL (mother in law) had. 2 of her children married Americans. Noboru (my husband) and my sil Kaori. My bil Jun married a Japanese. And although my sil K, did divorce. She does have 2 kids. Both being half American.. my niece J and my nephew K. My nephew K has been living in America since the 4th grade. He's 1 year older than Branden. Just thought I'd throw that little blurb out there, real quick. I am pretty sure you are all old school readers of my blog. But someone who could be a new reader, might be wondering about cousin K. So just easier to say quickly and get it over with. : ) On this day we decided to take the kids to the science museum in Tokyo! What a long drive, but the kids enjoyed it. We however... were surprised to see Ultraman just sitting there along the street and so even though we were on our way elsewhere. We stopped and took pics of the kids with Ultraman. These 3 ultra nerds with Ultraman! : )

At the science museum.

Noboru wrapping cousins Branden and K inside a giant bubble. 

Noah was happy just watching. But then Noboru said, "get inside too Noah" So 3 cousins inside a giant super sized bubble. 

Along the way home, we decided to stop for some yakiniku. Stuff up the kids really well with some marinated grilled meats, rice, kimchi and unlimited drink bar, etc!

Noah waiting for his meats to grill. Sharing some soup with daddy. And also sipping on an iced cocoa. The 3 boys zonked hard in the car after dinner. A long, but fun day for the boys.
What should we do today mommy? What should we do today auntie? Never fear, I know exactly what to do. Go grab your swimsuits kids. I'll go grab the Slip N Slide. Cousin K and Bran sliding down forever. 

After Noah woke up from his toddler nap. He joined the bigger boys. 

Another day. I pulled out the bubbles. And the water guns. That kept them busy the entire morning all the way up until lunch. Then after lunch they went right back out. 

Oh yes, after lunch they were surely positive... there was a deadly spider. So 3 boys went after that spider. This whole spider fiasco took about a good 45 minutes. I was prepping dinner early. And loved the fact this caught their interest so much. All that squealing. And running. Kids, I tell ya. : ) I personally find kids so funny. 

Yep, the night of bubble blowing and spider catching. I made sure that I taco-ed my nephew! Hahaha. I stuffed everyone up with tacos. We had ground beef tacos and also chicken tacos. Then turns to shower and some TV and wind down time, before bed time. Yep, I see salsa, sour cream, lettuce. 

Another day, the kids went and pulled the dashi in our housing area. Kids all chant...wasshoi wasshoi. As they pulled this rope. They have bells around their necks. It's very fun for kids. The weather was quite hot. All the kids looked a bit over heated. But popsicles would come afterwards. Don't over heat kids! Most importantly....HAVE FUN! : ) 

Now those are 2 happy faces! Nicely cooling down by the popsicles. Gari Gari-kun popsicles. Bran was talking with a classmate at the time. The kids enjoyed the summer festival that night too. I made sure my nephew was kept busy doing lots of different things. Fun things. Even every day things were fine. Like playing a board game. Uno. Family movie night with popcorn and treats. But, I did make sure to think of something each day, while he was here. : ) 
This day, I asked them if they'd like to bake a coconut cream pie. They made 100% of this all on their own. I did supervise and watch the entire time though, for safety. Each of the boys rolled out the crust. And they each measured ingredients to make the crust. I baked the crust/shell in the oven (didn't want anyone to get burned by the oven). And they mixed the coconut pudding filling. And let it chill in the fridge all day. And they did toast the shredded coconut.

A 100% child- made... a totally from scratch coconut cream pie. That toasted coconut on top of the whipped cream was so delicious. And the 3 of them really enjoyed it. They were so proud. I remember that night, when my nephew was on the phone with my sil in Osaka. He told her "mom I baked a pie today!" I was just smiling. And happy hearing that! : ) 
That's our housing community in the background. This day we went and caught some crawdads. Zarigani. They slept over night (the crawdads) and then the boys took them back to this canal.

Eating dinner. And what big smiles from my nephew K. This was taken the day we caught the crawdads. I made yakisoba this night. 

 A nice summer family dinner.
Showers every night. And some TV before bed. This night however we were watching a movie. This was our movie night. I popped some popcorn. We were watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or something. Everyone in their jammies with freshly washed hair and bodies. And just relaxing before bed. Anyway, this is just a snippet from 2008. A throwback to when cousin K visited us for 2 weeks.: )

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Happy 11th Birthday Noah! Spending his special day at Tokyo Disneyland...

At the beginning of June, we asked Noah what he wanted from us this year for his birthday! He said, he'd love to visit Disneyland! We said done! Also, since we have a JHS kid in our household we checked the date when Bran's last test for the semester would be and as luck would have it. These things are on the actual master schedule for the year. So easy to plan things with a master schedule of the entire year. The final test for this semester would be the week BEFORE Noah's birthday! We knew that in June. Everything just came together perfectly. Noboru requested Noah's birthday off. And the day before Noah's birthday the kids took a note their dad printed out. It didn't say "we're going to Disneyland" obviously LOL. It just said, something along the lines of, "we have a family commitment tomorrow, so they will be absent tomorrow" In JHS the teachers really don't mind if you're absent, especially if your grades are great. And you rarely miss school. This was Branden's first absence this whole semester and quite possibly the year. Noboru had bought our tickets 2 days beforehand at 7-11. And we were ready! We had the popcorn buckets cleaned and they sat on the kitchen table from the night before. The morning of, we quickly woke up and got ready and dressed and out the door by 7am! We arrived at the amusement park just as they opened. And because it's a weekday. The date predictor online said the day would be pretty much dead! Excellent! That means we could ride any old ride we wanted. And we did! Also, I'm not generally an advice giver. But when I do, listen. If you ever go to Tokyo Disneyland or Sea and it's possible...go on a weekday. I've been saying that since 2005 since my blog first started. And it's true. If you go on the weekend you'll spent half your time waiting in line, if not more. If you go on a weekday you can ride anything you want (unless it's summer break in Japan). Unless of course it's a holiday weekday like Halloween. Or in Summer after the kids are on break in Japan that's a busy time too. That's busy any day. It used to not be (meaning Halloween time). But Halloween has really caught on in Japan. But during the "off season" if you know what I mean, before school summer break for us in Japan starts...and during a weekday. Go for it. Halloween, Christmas, Easter will be busier though. July 7th is Tanabata. Some find the story sad. And yes if you're a "glass is half empty" type, it could be sad. A couple in love can't be together all year long except 1 day a year. However, if you're more a... "my glass is half full" type, then you'll see this story as sort of magical. Like yes the rest of the year sad sad sad. But think of how magical July 7th is then. How that is their... 1 fantastic day that this couple cherishes. Looks forward to...all throughout the year. All year long. They look forward to this day. This very special day.. They wait for this very magical day! That's how I see it. To me...what an awesome day July 7th is! A day they have been dreaming about... all year! So magical and special...that you can write wishes and they might even be granted! Now if that ain't magic! Then I don't know what! : ) And so...for my son to be born on such a magical day! Wow! When Noah was a little itty bitty baby we used to call him our Tanabata Baby. And he is. And in American or western ways of counting the years. Noah was born in 2005. But in Japanese years he was born the year of 17. So he is literally 7/7/17. He's a triple 7 baby. And in America that's really good luck (we say lucky 7's) and in Japan that's really good luck too. When people find out his birth date. People are always happily surprised. : ) So on July 7th, 2016. Our family of 4 went to Tokyo Disneyland to celebrate our Tanabata Boy. And also enjoy the Tanabata celebration and festivities at Tokyo Disneyland! 
First ride of the day. Pirates of the Caribbean. As you can see there is absolutely no wait in line at all! Awesome! 5 minute wait all day and night long. 
Blurry Johnny Depp.

The Jungle Cruise. 

On the boat enjoying the Jungle Cruise.

Good thing these are animatronics and not real. Poor zebra!

The Haunted Mansion wait time was 10 minutes! Seemed shorter than that!

It's a Small World wait time, 5 minutes all day and night. Seemed shorter than that too!


Walking around. Riding rides. Enjoying the day!

Noah drove Noboru around. Bran drove me around!

Message to the motor vehicles. "Please do not give my son his drivers license!" He is a danger! I repeat! Very scary driver! He drove so fast that the car stopped because there is a speed blocker on these things! And then he decided to stopgostopgo! It was the jerkiest stop and go, 5 minutes of my life. Hello whiplash! : ) I had popcorn bits falling out of my popcorn bucket. Then because I am me..I tried to clean the popcorn bits out of the car in the middle of the ride. My son is laughing at me. I'm meanwhile saying..."Branden you're scaring me" "Drive normal" Hahaha. : )  Life with a 14 year old! Hahaha. #Neveradullmoment
We had lunch at Pizza Galactic. Something like that. It's the pizza place in the futuristic area of Disneyland (Tomorrowland?). Their pizza is not great. But it's the best pizza at Tokyo Disneyland. Food at American Disneyland's in the US, is way better. But in Japan, Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea is actually owned by a company called Oriental Land (it's true look it up). And so the menu is very different and geared towards the Japanese.

Noah has the most gorgeous eyes. His brown eyes are a very soft brown color of eyes. Not a dark dark brown almost black color at all. A very soft brown in color. And his eyes are so big and so round. Last year when we were in Osaka. Noboru's auntie the one who is married to uncle Kenji. Said in front of the entire family. Branden looks exactly half. He looks half Japanese and half Western. But she said Noah looks totally western. Everybody in 2 living rooms all looked and actually agreed. And yes it is always very awkward when people comment on stuff like this. But, it's true. A lot of people don't even realize he's half Japanese at all (not saying this is a good thing and not saying it's a bad thing but it is Noah's reality...people don't think/assume he's Asian, they just don't). When Noah was in Guam with my dad and I in June. Nobody ever realized/thought he's half Japanese at all. When we were at Wendy's. Even the Japanese family ordering behind us in line didn't know/wouldn't have guessed in a million years. People just don't see it or think or realize he's half. Unless Noboru and I and the 2 kids are together then you can see people will realize...oh duh. But unless Noboru's there...the thought wouldn't enter their minds.  And it shouldn't and doesn't matter if you look Japanese. Look western. Look half or don't look half. Kids are kids. But yeah, it's just interesting.
5,000 yen for lunch. About US $50! Outrageous for 4 slices of pizza and 4 drinks. And yes it would have been cheaper to go to Kua Aina for lunch. And certainly tastier. But we were leaving the amusement park for dinner. And didn't want to leave Disney twice. You lose too much park time if you leave Disney twice. And...you're not allowed to bring food from outside into the park, so you are either forced to eat at Disney or eat outside of Disney. However you are allowed to bring drinks into the park. And we did. We each brought in 2 drinks from the conbini. I brought in 2 iced cold Jasmine teas. And drank them all day and evening.

I snapped this one when they didn't know I was taking their pic. 

And I'm busted taking their pic! Hi Noah! Hi Mr. Dimples!

How was the weather? The day time... was pretty hot! Granted not middle of August steam room type hot. But yep, pretty hot. The evening was so nice and cool and breezy though. We did however buy a mikan shave ice during the day. These were so cheap! 300 yen each? 350 yen each tops. But for Disney, it's super cheap. The place to buy these is sort of weird and hidden. It's upstairs in that futuristic area/Tomorrowland. Near the Pangalatic Pizza. Or right after you get off the Star Tours ride. It's upstairs and a tiny spot. Kakigori with ice-cream is 200 yen more. But on a hot day...ice-cream just makes you thirstier. So the plain mikan kakigori was better and it had real mikans on top. This was the best thing to eat while at Disneyland! Branden eating his!

Here's mine...

Noah enjoying his too and that's Noboru's Croc in the background, he was eating his too.

We had Fast Pass tickets for Monsters Inc. Splash Mountain and Pooh's Honey Hunt. They had a huge area in the center for Tanabata wishes to be tied to. 

Here's another area to tie your wishes to. We were on our way to dinner when I took this picture.
We went to Ikspiari for Kua'Aina Burger. However the wait was crazy town! Plus we are going there this week, when we go and see Finding Dory. So, we figured why not go to TGI Fridays. So we did. : ) It's just upstairs.

Noah had the chicken strips and fries. And free refills on the drinks. 

Fried mushrooms...

My meal. Marinated chicken breast. Cheese mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

I handed Bran my camera and asked him to take a picture of his dinner. Noboru and Bran ordered the same thing. We were stuffed. We then walked right back to Disneyland and with our handy dandy hand stamp we went right back into the park. The walk from Ikspiari to Disneyland is just 5 minutes and you walk on a walkway, so not even on a busy street. 

We went directly to Pooh's Honey Hunt since it was time for our Fast Pass.
We rode the... It's a Small World ride again.
Noah had been looking for milk chocolate popcorn. So since he finished his 1 refill of honey, he picked his second refill to be milk chocolate. Branden had 2 refills of honey corn for the day and evening. I had just 1 refill all day and evening and I chose honey corn, Noboru and I shared ours. Noboru was in line to pay and escort the birthday boy. 
Noah loves the tea cups. So we rode the tea cups 3 times that day. 

Itching his eye...

I don't know what it is about an American flag that makes me want to cheer...USA...USA...USA. Sorry. : ) However...I didn't. I did smile though. But, I didn't say a thing. Not a peep. : )  
The blue fairy...

I love the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade. It's so famous! People go on YouTube to watch it. It's so amazing and beautiful! And I never pass up an opportunity to see this. I love watching this so much! I picked the best spot for us to watch it. 

The lights. The characters. The floats. Man this is so gorgeous to see. You can see the other floats coming your way! It's so fun! Alice. Cheshire Cat!

Snow White! Don't eat that apple girl! Whatever you do...do NOT eat that apple! I repeat. Just say no! To the apple! 

Pete's Dragon!

My teenager updating his LINE timeline. #electricalparade. #TokyoDisneyland #teenagersdoingteenagerthings #ismymomreallytakingmypic #momstoptakingmypic #momstopcreepin'

Peter Pan. Hi Wendy, Hi Captain Hook.

What's up Crush! Looking cool dude! Swimming with the jellies, I see!

Nemo, you're so short, I can barely see you.

Love this Toy Story float. So much to see. So many characters at once. Don't blink. : ) Or you may just miss one. : ) 

Hi Monsters Inc float. Hi Mike, hi Sully. Hi Boo. 
After the parade. We rode a roller coaster. The name escapes me now. Sorry. And then we watched the fireworks. And then it was time for our Fast Pass for Splash Mountain. 

Branden and Noah on Splash Mountain. We were sitting right behind them. 

These 2 have such a special brother bond! Here they were chit chatting. Really talking and enjoying Splash Mountain together! They always have a good time together. And they're so lonely without one another when apart. : ) 

So we rode our last ride. Pirates of the Caribbean. Which yes, was also our first ride. And we were right about to walk away from the Pirates ride and walk out of the park when it hit me. Holy crap! I think I didn't take 1 pic of the boys together, the entire day! What's up with me!!! I clearly dropped the ball with that one! Oops! What was I thinking. So, I said, sorry kids. Can you guys just stop right here and let me take your picture? They said sure! So here is one! Phew. : ) 

And Branden and Noah in front of the Tanabata tree. Branches. Decoration thingy in the center of Disneyland. This picture right here, I am so glad I snapped! Wish, I would have thought about it sooner. But, what in the heck. What can ya do. You know. I clearly was just busy enjoying the day. Not thinking about pictures as much. : ) 

I was happily surprised that on our way out of the park. Branden said. "Wait, I have to make my wish before we leave" I love when both my kids do things that are part of their Japanese culture. Having both American kids and also Japanese kids means they have to learn and know and celebrate their American holidays and traditions. But to also do the same for Japanese traditions and special days too. And seeing Branden initiate this and want to do this on his own accord. I was just really happy. Pens were available to borrow all around the trees as well as the paper to write your wish down.  

The carved bamboo was just spectacular!!! And yes, I did wonder if it was real bamboo or fake bamboo like plastic or something. But honestly...it didn't matter. It was gorgeous to look at!

Noah waiting as his brother in front of him in the red went and tied his wish in with the others! Oh we did buy a new popcorn bucket this time. We bought R2D2. LOL. : ) Anyway that's Noah's 2016 birthday post! Happy 11th birthday my precious Noah! We love you so much! : )