Friday, July 21, 2017

We're all packed and ready to go today...

Our suitcases are all packed up and we're ready to go and enjoy our family vacation. I'll catch up with you all, when we get back! Bye you guys. : )

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Grass update. Last weeks family BBQ. Flower and chili update...

I haven't done a grass/backyard update in a month or so. Here's what it currently looks like. Umm, remember how we had that oval shape in the ground and then we grew/planted some grass after we got rid of Branden and Noah's jungle gym? And how that oval shape was semi/sort of visible still? Well, here's the most current up to date pic of what our backyard grass looks like now. And I can barely...just ever so faintly see the oval shape. It's becoming really hard to see anymore. Yes, I can still see it, because I know what to look for. But if you are standing in the actual backyard, it's not noticeable at all. But if you look from our 2nd floor of our home, then yes...you can faintly still see it. So...I think it's progress. Right? And the grass is so green. Like a lush gorgeous vibrant green. And we do have an actually really nice big backyard. : ) 

The rice fields behind our house are so lush and green too.


We also have an extremely wide back patio, so considering that... plus the actual lawn. It's a super nice sized yard. 

Fresh mango and watermelon. 

Chili plants to the right. And a BBQ grilling some yakiniku.

We all had corn on the cob. Yakiniku (grilled marinated meats) grilled veggies. Wrapped in lettuce. We had fruit and our 2nd coconut cream pie of the season.

As always...we keep our backyard BBQ's super simple because we barbecue weekly. 

Hello there...coconut cream pie #2. : ) 

The flowers in the 4 hanging baskets on our front porch are in full bloom. The grass in the front yard is doing excellent too. 

We have roasted our first batch of serrano chili already. 
Cake and ice-cream happened last Friday night. 

Frosted and the whole shebang. : )

Tiniest iHerb order came in Saturday. 

Just 3 face washes. These are so hard to find in an actual store anymore in the states...that it's actually easier for me to order online in Japan from iHerb. I have been using this face wash every summer since...before Branden was born. Seriously...since before then! It's cheap, it's high quality and it smells fantastic, like seriously it smells amaze-balls (smells so clean and fresh). I have dry skin in winter and combo in the summer. And it takes all my grease off my face without over-stripping my skin to death. Anyway, that's enough for now. : )

Friday, July 14, 2017

Bits and Pieces...

Hi you guys! Today is Friday. As usual, I have about 100 different things to tell you. Of course I don't have time to tell you everything and anything. But, I have a free 30 minutes. And so, I will fill you all in... as much as I can. Do you remember back when Bran started his English (speaking) high school. That they asked all of the English (speaking) kids in that program to buy lap tops. They do that... because the western teachers will send the class a group video asking them something. And for instance whoever can reply and answer the fastest wins a small prize. Such as a pack of gummy bears or a pack of erasers. Something small, you know. : ) But enough to make the kids want to get on and answer immediately!!! Anyway Bran and the rest of the freshman English kids... did receive their laptops. And they have been using them ever since. It's also perfect for writing class papers or school assignments too. So long story short, Branden did receive it and this is a picture of his. 

I bought Noah 2 pair jean shorts from Shimamura. He has 2 pair exactly like this, except one is this color/shade of blue and the other pair is a darker shade of denim. So 2 pair of shorts in size 160cm except one is a lighter denim and one is a darker blue denim. This being the lighter pair. They were only 980 yen each. A really great price and super comfy. The darker pair, I bought the week beforehand and forgot to take a pic before I cut the tags off and washed, but they look exactly the same as this, except darker. 

Since Branden wears a uniform, he always wears an undershirt under his dress shirt. But, I did switch to the cooler (temp-wise) ones for summer. They're sold in a 2 pack. And so he has 4 of these now and they were on sale for 500 yen each pack. They keep Bran very cool and dry in the summer heat especially during his commute. 

Apparently you will stay cooler and drier in these than in cotton, go figure.

The last Old Navy order for Summer 2017 arrived 2 weeks ago. Our $5 US American flag tee shirts arrived before American Independence Day/the 4th of July. And so we enjoy these shirts very much, all year round. And for Women, they also sold a gray American flag sweatshirt this year. First time for them to sell this logo as a sweatshirt. And it's awesome. And that way, I can share my love for my country in both summer and winter! Hahaha. 

Pizza happened last Saturday. Yep that is correct. We had Italian 3 nights in a row. But that's how we roll around here. : ) Let's see, Thursday a day earlier than Noah's birthday... we went to that Italian buffet. And then Noah's actual birthday we had chicken parmesan on top of pasta, with salad and garlic bread. And then the next day I made homemade pizza from scratch. My crust is always so crispy. Not ever limp at all. Baked in my oven at 450 degrees. This was the kids pizza. Noboru was at work, so he sadly missed pizza night with us. 

I meanwhile had a pepperoni, mushroom, onion and jalapeno pizza. 

Yesterday morning, I ran to Costco Inzai. I bought a rotisserie chicken for last nights supper. A big bottle of Yoshida's sauce. My kids *love* when I make a fast chicken veggie stir fry with this! My husband does too. 

Also bought a huge bag of frozen shrimp. The largest size they carry and it's all deveined (de-pooped) and cleaned up. I will be making some fried shrimp soon. Tonight, I am making a healthy yummy chicken veggie stir-fry with that sauce up above. I also bought 4 super cups (individual sized servings of ice-cream) today at my local store so we will be having chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with vanilla ice-cream. The cake is in the oven baking in the kitchen as I type. Thank gawd for central air-conditioning because our house is a cool and extremely dry 69 degrees. Plus with the solar panels we get zero bill. We actually make money with the solar panels and still get a nice cool house. Anyways.  Anything else to add? Yes I have tons to add!!!

This Monday... I had met up with 2 very good friends of mine. We met up Monday, May 10th at 11am at Coco's restaurant. It was as always... so nice to meet up and catch up. I don't have to tell you...how very important it is to have friends. How important it is to socialize. And have an actual life. I love getting together with my friends. I'm lucky in that I have some truly amazing friends. I did have to leave earlier then they did. You see...the week beforehand. Branden had half days the week before. Last week....he had half days because he had tests. However...I had a friend lunch planned for this Monday. Planned since last Friday. So...I had asked Bran Saturday..."are you sure you have a full day of school on Monday?" Yes mom. I asked Sunday again..."Bran, are you sure you have a full day of school Monday?" Yes mom. I even asked Bran on Monday morning... as I was driving him to the train station..."Bran...I have a lunch planned with my friends today...I really don't want any surprises...so umm do you have a full day at school?" Yes of course. So...it should come as a huge surprise when my cell phone chimed and I read my Line messages and it said..."hi mom pick me up soon!" @_@  Umm, I was really caught off guard. Because I had asked before so many times. And assured so many times that... it was indeed a full day at school. So...umm yeah. I did leave early. But at least I got a good 90 minutes with my friends. I felt super bad to leave. But I do know...that since they're moms too...they also understand that yes...sometime stuff comes up and yes...sometimes sh*t happens... and it just can't be avoided. So, I headed as fast as lightning to the train station. I was driving the speed limit...mind you...but you know what I mean.

What else? Noah. You know how kids in Japan have school in July. Where as in America... kids don't. Well...all July Noah has been on his summer schedule. This Monday Noah swam at school and went on a nature walk around the school grounds and sketched/drew what they saw and wanted to. Came back to class and read books and went home. Tuesday Noah swam and his class made curry in the huge cooking room our school has. It's an *enormous* cooking room. They then ate and then had free time...where they played on the swings and playground equipment and then went home. The next day they swam and then they sewed. They sewed cleaning rags, which just gives the kids more experience using sewing machines and the kids enjoy this a lot. They sewed a few more fun things too. The next day they swam and made something in Japan called "fruit punch" which is much different than American fruit punch. But...basically every day is just swimming and other fun activities for them. So that's what the kids do in our elementary school in July, just try to enjoy July.  And today for Noah's class...today is Friday...and they took the town-owned great big limousine bus and are currently on a class field trip right now, they should be heading towards our tiny town any minute... and should be dropped off to our housing community by 5pm, the bus makes 2 stops plus a final stop... at the school if you prefer just walk home from school, in case you live near the school. And they ate out at a buffet since they're out and about today, which sounds like such fun for the 6th graders. @_@ Hahaha. So umm yeah. Our particular specific elementary school in July does have school too...but July is more so... a break for the kids...but they're technically at school. Not sure what other elementary schools in Japan do in July...if they are hitting the books or if they're chillin' a bit more too. I like that our school lets the kids relax a bit more in July. The kids need it. : )

This coming Monday is a holiday in Japan... so kids do not have school. Branden's final day of school was today!!! Although he does have summer camp next week for a few days. Noah's final day of school is next week. And things are just superly winding down. Everyone is super ready and happy to be going on summer break soon. The break from school. And making school lunches will be nice. The break from me waking up at 4:15am every morning Monday-Friday will be nice. I usually wake up Bran at 5:30 and Noah at 5:50am. But I get up earlier to have 20 minutes to go through my emails and computer stuff... read the American news and to also start making lunch, finishing lunch and starting on a quick breakfast too. So yes...for me to sleep in...as soon as summer break starts...omg sounds like *bliss*. Sounds like a dream.


Anyway today is Friday. You all have a nice weekend. Hope you all stay cool, don't anybody melt. : ) Hahaha. Just relax and take it easy. What's our weekend plan? Staying home obviously. Resting and relaxing. Tonight the Gong Show comes on. Last night I watched the Little Women LA reunion. OMG...do those girls argue or what?!! They fight like crazy!  So I better end this soon. So I can get ready for Noah to be home. Bran has been home since this afternoon. He's showered and in his comfy clothes relaxing now. I have the chicken chopped, veggies chopped for the stir fry. The rice maker is set. And the ice-cream is in the freezer and the cake is about to beep any minute. Cake and icecream is such a great way to start the weekend. As soon as supper is finished. Anyway, I just wanted to say hi. And catch up a bit. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Happy Birthday Noah!!! Noah turns 12...

Noah turned 12, July 7th. However Noboru had to work July 7th. And considering Noboru was given off like 12 days off...from work later in the month for our big, once a year vacation. We both thought...we'd better not push it... to ask for Noah's birthday off too. Ykwim. So...considering he got his vacation days off. We were pretty satisfied anyways. So...we just celebrated a day earlier than Noah's birthday. And went out to a restaurant Thursday evening instead of Friday. Noah had been deciding all week which restaurant he'd like to go to. Jolly Pasta? Cappraciossa? The Outback Steakhouse? TGI Fridays. Kua 'Aina? If it's your birthday, it's your pick. : ) And the rest of us get a free meal out of it anyways...so every one's pretty much happy whatever the pick is. Noah decided to go to the "all you can eat" Italian buffet in Inzai. So, as soon as the kids both got off school on Thursday, we went right away to the restaurant. We do live way out in the boonies, so it took us a good drive to get there. But....it was very nice. Noah was super happy with his choice. And we just enjoyed a really excellent meal. They have a "food only" plan. And the slightly pricier option is with drink bar too. And on top of that, they also have a dessert option to add too. Since it was a birthday and a special occasion. Hey...it's not any ol' day that the "baby" in our family... meaning the youngest member of our family turns 12! So yep...everyone had a most excellent dinner celebration at the "all you can eat" Italian buffet. 
My dad sent this fantastic birthday card to Noah for his birthday. Noah got such a kick out of this card. 

Oh my! : )

I bet Noah has...

Since I am an only child. And my dad only has 2 grandchildren. He enjoys spoiling them. 
You know when kids are little. Like toddler aged. It's easy to buy them Thomas train stuff. Or Spongebob stuff. Or Ultraman stuff. But when they get older, kids really aren't into toy type toys anymore. And my kids have clothes. So trying to figure out a gift can be a bit difficult. My kids have bicycles. Fidget spinners. DS games. Tablets. Cell phones. A Wii. They both have Ripstiks. So we asked Noah a month in advance, if there's anything you'd really enjoy please let us know. But even Noah couldn't think of anything. Clearly his needs have been met already. So...we asked Noah if he'd like a Google card since he does use his tablet on the daily anyway. And so he's very happy with his gift from us. Plus considering dinner at the restaurant was about 8,000 yen and the cake was about 4500 yen. We did our best...to give Noah a fantastic birthday. And of course..it does go without saying. Spending quality time with kids is the most important and we know and do that.  
Grandma Mitsuko also sent a fantastic birthday card. And some money too. The thing I loved the most... was that my dad called and spoke to Noah for a good 10 minutes on his birthday. They speak once a week anyways. But...I was very glad my dad did call and Noah and my dad had a fantastic talk. Afterwards Bran jumped on the phone and talked to grandpa too... about high school and they just enjoyed their talk. And later in the evening. Grandma Mitsuko called the house phone. Our house phone *never* rings. Seriously nobody knows our house phone number except the school. Noboru's family. My family all know it too. But my family all Skype me and also Line me... that's how my family and I talk. And zero of my friends have my house number. It's just something we never give out. So when the phone rang...we all thought it's either the school calling which we doubt. Or it's grandma Mitsuko calling. : ) So we instantly knew who it was. Also...my amazing and fantastic sister in law in Narita Lined me on Noah's birthday too...to make sure Noah was wished a happy birthday too. So...yep...Noah was definitely feeling the love by all sides of our family. : ) 
Noah's birthday cake. We ask every year..."do you wanna Costco cake or a Nagano icecream cake?" Noah always wants the Nagano one. And this year already Bran is saying he will be choosing the Costco cake. 

In years before the green was green tea. But they switched it to choco mint. So small change...but we noticed it. Noah picked the slice with the choco mint. Oh and the main ice-cream flavors Noah chose were...Noah had a choco banana cake. Nutella chocolate and banana and then cake below the 2 different flavors of ice-cream. We enjoyed the ice-cream cake on Noah's actual birthday.

July 7th, Noah went to school. He said they announced all birthdays over the loud speaker/sound system, just like they do every day... so the entire school knew it was Noah's birthday. His class all sang to him after lunch. He said people all day long in our tiny country school... kept coming up to Noah all day wishing him a happy birthday. Noah's a little on the shy side...but he really enjoyed all the birthday wishes. Bran was out of school before Noah. Bran and I both went to get Noah on his birthday from school, as soon as school was over. I had made the chicken parmesan in the day time. As soon as we brought Noah home. I threw the chicken parmesan into the oven. And they cooked for a good 30 minutes in the oven. I also boiled some pasta. I made garlic bread and salad. And we had a special dinner at home, just us 3. And afterwards we 3 enjoyed the cake. It was after we had the cake and when I was in the kitchen cleaning up... when the landline rang and we said...it's grandma Mitsuko! Noah answered it and chatted with his grams, while I finished cleaning the kitchen. Noboru did get some birthday cake when he got home. : ) Anyways Happy 12th birthday we *love* you so much Noah! More than tongue can tell. : )

Friday, July 07, 2017

The 4th of July and also Noah's Observation Day...

For the past couple years, our local elementary school has been having their summer observation day fall on the 4th of July. Granted it doesn't affect anyone else at the school. And they probably don't even realize or anything. But it's been difficult trying to celebrate the 4th of July when we have to be at the elementary school for about 80% of the day. From 12 noon until they got off school. We were there. And considering you need to get dressed and be presentable too. There's really nothing you can do...4th of July-wise. Simply because... we're out of the house most of the day. About 5 years ago, summer observation day, was on a different day. I think the 2nd week of July. But since about 3 years ago or so, it's sadly fallen on American Independence Day. Oh well, next year with Noah being in JHS next year...I will hopefully be able to do something a little more. : ) Anyway...I did make a coconut cream pie. Super easy. It was a ready made graham cracker pie crust. I used 2 of my 4 coconut cream pudding mixes. It said whisk for 2 minutes. I added the milk and whisked for 3 minutes, just to give it a little extra thickness. And I poured it into the pie crust. And wrapped it in plastic wrap in the fridge from around 8am. It sat hardening until 4pm-ish. After school let out... and we were all home and while the cream stew was boiling up a storm. I toasted some coconut. I had the whipped cream in the fridge already. I put the whipped cream down. Let the coconut cool and when it was totally cold, I sprinkled the coconut. It was a hit with my entire family. Again...I wish I could have had more time...to make a more special meal, you know what I mean? But, honestly I was so tight on time already. So, I was pretty glad still..by what I managed to accomplish and do. : )
A pic I took while in Noah's classroom. These 3 turtles are their class pets. The 2nd grade teacher saw them along the street 2 years ago or so. And since she's a teacher...she took them. And they have been with Noah's class for 2-3 years. All the other classes already have different types of pets. So, she brought them to Noah's class, when Noah was in the 4th grade. Yep, I think he was a 4th grader when these 3 became their pets. Oh and fwiw. They had 2 turtles homes. But according to Noah, the other turtle home cracked. : (  They're fairly inexpensive. So, I am currently thinking about buying the 6th grade class another plastic home for their turtles. : ) Oh and...the class named the 3 turtles years ago, but nobody in the class can remember what their names are. @_@  Should we call them turtle 1, turtle 2 and turtle 3? Or perhaps. Donatello, Leonardo and Raphael? LOL. : )

Bran has been getting off school all this week at 11am-ish. All high schoolers in Chiba seem to be too. So, he came with us to Noah's school observation day. The kids were giving presentations. And us parents and brother... had to walk from kid group to next kid group. It was very nice. Noah liked having 3 people show up for him. After observation day was over. I went home and quickly made the cream stew. I smartly diced up all the veggies and the 2 chicken breasts in the morning. After I made the pie. I also preset the rice cooker. So, as soon as we 4 got home. Noah quickly did his homework. Branden quickly jumped in the shower. Then Noah went to shower. Noboru was outside watering the lawn and flowers. He came in and quickly showered. And we ate. Had our coconut cream pie. Everyone pitched in to help clean up after supper. And I meanwhile took a nice hot soapy shower after the clean up. And came downstairs in my sleep tee/nightgown. We just all sorta relaxed. Gee whiz, it was a fairly busy day, but nice day. And I was also glad I had a bit of time too to let ya'll know what's up with the whole Photobucket and the blog. That way you all at least knew, what was up, ykwim. Anyway...and now that brings us to today. It's Friday. It's Tanabata. And my beautiful gorgeous Noah is 12 years old today. We 4...went out to dinner to celebrate last night. Noboru is working today, which is why we went out to eat last night. But we still celebrated as a family last night. Branden gets out at 11am-ish today again. Noah gets out at 2pm today. And I am making a special birthday meal. Chicken parmesan on top of pasta. We have that delicious handmade ice-cream cake from Nagano in the freezer. I had it delivered July 4th between 6-8pm. Noah received birthday money from grandpa (my dad) he received something awesome from us too. Plus we're leaving back to the US for vacation at the end of this month. So...it's going to be an awesome birthday for Noah. I will be making a birthday post for him soon. But right now...I just want to finish getting the house clean and in order, since it's Friday. I want to have a wonderful relaxing Friday with my 2 amazing sons. We will celebrate Noah to the fullest as soon as he gets home. And we all want a quiet restful weekend here at home. : ) Anyway...talk to you all in a day or two. I'm gonna go finish the house now. And then jump in the shower. : )