Friday, March 23, 2018

Decluttering and getting rid of more stuff...

Things here have been insanely busy. Obviously so.... considering we just had Noah's graduation from elementary school last Friday. Plus 3 of us are moving to the United States in about 3 weeks and it's a wonder I can even find some time to update here. So...for now...if my posts are few and far between you will know...and understand why. I am reserving 2 hours to writing on here... and trying to write at least 2 blog posts for today. Starting with this one. More decluttering. Getting rid of things that we can't bring back to the US with us. For starters, we found a Japan based website that lets you post pics and a description. It's local. Though I am assuming it is all over throughout Japan. But for us...we posted a bunch of pictures of things we'd like to give away for free for anyone living in our district. Think of "county" for you in the U.S. And if anyone lives in the same district/county and would like it for free, simply contact us and you may come to our house and take it for free. We listed these 2 toy boxes which I bought at Costco years ago. They were in perfect condition. I didn't want to make money off them. But I didn't want to trash them. So we listed then. And within 3 hours some family from our district contacted Noboru. And picked them up that very same day. It made me extremely happy knowing these toy boxes would get a whole other life with new kids. Versus just being thrown to the trash. It just did my heart good. And granted if I had endless countless infinity time...I would have liked to do this with every single item we own. But as you all know... time is of the essence too. And since time is an issue. Just the big things...we are giving away for free. If by us leaving...means items of ours, can make others happy and touch other peoples lives, in that small way. Awesome! I do believe in karma and so yep. This feels really really good to me... to give things away, to those who could use them. So very cool.  
These could not find homes. So they went to the trash. This clock was awesome, it had a digital clock and hands clock. And it spoke in beautiful American English and taught both my kids to tell time when they were itty bitty. I wish I could have found homes for these, but again...I don't have hundreds of years to just post it and wait. If time allows...great...if not. Oh well, I tried. 

These got rehomed...somewhere in our housing community... little brother of Noah's classmate. : )

We put Branden's desk on the free list...locally of course. And in less than 1 hour, a women emailed Noboru, asking if the desk was still available. And that she has a little girl who will be a pika pika ichinensei this April. A shiny and bright first grader. Noboru asked me. And when I heard this desk could be going to a 6 year old...and would get so many good years of usage and love! I immediately said yes! It's hers!!! So Noboru messaged her and said..."my wife said, that the desk is yours" And she said her husband would be picking it up the next day at 10am, they live in the small city nearest our town. So, what is this picture of??? We had to go through every single drawer of B's. We threw almost every single thing out. And we own so many Diary of a Wimpy Kids books. And Noah loves them so much. Bran read them tons when he was little. But...they're too heavy to bring with us...especially since they're so cheap to repurchase in Target. Once we're back. So the kids books will go to an American mama friend of mine, since she has kids a little younger than mine... who could use them. : )
On the day of the desk pick-up. Pick up was set for 10am. Noboru and Branden dismantled some of it, so that he could fit it in his vehicle. The father drove a great big van. El Grande, I think was the type/name... very nice vehicle. It was a man about 10 years younger than Noboru. Made sense... considering Noboru has a 16 year old and this man has a 6 year old. Not that it matters at all. But they were not financially poor. But instead financially wise. He said they had 2 older kids and they bought desks for the older 2. And for the 3rd kid, they were really wondering should they pluck down the money for a 3rd desk or not? They also heard of the free website that is for free for locals to just pick up. And he said they saw our desk and loved it. He said it was in brand new condition. And it was. Noboru told the man...that our family is just glad that it gets a new child to use it and love it. And so a win win for all of us. I love people who are penny-wise. He brought us omiyage/a gift of cookies. All wrapped up in a box. A nice box of German cookies to be exact. They were delicious and we were not expecting anything in return. 

Did you ever see Toy Story when Andy gives Buzz and Woody away to that little girl? I firmly believe toys should be played with. And desks should be used too, if you like them, my kids never really used their desks much, they preferred study on the kitchen table lol. So Branden did go outside and thanked the desk, before anyone came to pick it up....and said..."you will get a new life and a new owner." Much better than being tossed and thrown away. This makes my heart so happy. You desk, will no doubt be used for all 6 years of elementary school and 3 years of JHS too. You will get 9 full new years of love. Enjoy your new life.  

Thank you for being such a useful desk for my son. And have another *amazing* 9 years. I'm glad I snapped these pics of you, before the new papa came and picked you up. : ) We did get an email from them later that night, that his daughter simply loves her new desk. So thoughtful to message us.

Don't laugh or think it's corny. But...if by us leaving....can make 10-15 peoples lives a little 2 new toy boxes...or a stack of fun new books to read...or some Nerf guns for summer time play....or a new study desk. Then...that just makes me, so fulfilled and happy. Someday maybe someone will say..."I met them once and they were *really* cool nice amazing people" or if someone said..."they were our dear friends and wow...they were such for real and nice human beings and our best friends" ..Or simply..."what kind people." So least we could leave a little footprint of goodness, before we left. Giving something without *expecting* anything in return. Giving *without* a motive...other than... to just make someone else's life better, is always the right thing to do.

What's in Branden's room now? Just his bed and a night stand and a lamp. It's paired...way *way* down. We have since thrown 3 huge bags of trash from Noah's room too. Every notebook or text book of Noah's. The text books went to be recycled. And his written notebooks had to go to the burnable trash. Seat cover. Crayons. You name it, it's gone. Last week. And again...we are just streamlining.

As much as we have gotten rid of and given away. We have just as much stuff to still go through and make decisions on. Which is why...I have not used the computer so much lately. I have received so many emails from friends...well wishers...and I am sure they are kindly patiently waiting for replies. And I'm afraid...right now...I just can't reply to emails right now. I just don't have the time for it. Moving is so freakin' fudging incredibly stressful. I'm sure in May...I will be laughing and smiling and thinking...what on earth was I stressed out about in March. But right now...what to throw...what to keep...what to save. OM flipping goodness!!! I feel like I'm in the eye of a tornado right now. The middle of an ocean and I'm treading water. Right now, it's work, work work. Which means...prepare to move. This is the NOT so fun part. Granted in a month, I will be glad it's over. Glad I endured it. But as for now? Meh! It's hard. It's stressful and horrible.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Throwback Thursday. Reflecting on Noah's elementary school days, 1 day before his graduation...

I thought today, 1 day before Noah's elementary school graduation. I would do a TBT. It seems so fitting. Perfect time to do it really. In light of tomorrow's graduation, today is all about you Noah and your elementary school adventures. I remember before you started the first grade... you were 50% excited and happy to start elementary school and getting to go to school with your big brother... also you were 50% scared of meeting all new classmates except the 1 and only other kid that went to the same yochien with you. The rest of the first graders all went to the same local hoikuen together. And you were *so* nervous to meet them. And this picture, I snapped the day of your entrance ceremony. You were now 10% excited to go to school with your big brother, but you were now 90% petrified to be in a class of new faces. As everyone who reads this blog Noah are a very gentle soul. Extremely kind. And a little shy when first meeting someone but as soon as he knows you, then he's really chill. I reassured my kind sweet boy at age 6 when he was just a pika pika ichinensei. "Noah honey, you are okay" Mommy will be right in the gymnasium and I will wave, so you can see where I'm sitting, okay?" "Not to worry dear heart"..."I will be there." You mustered a few smiles and I quickly took these pics. And since Branden was already at school. Daddy, you and I hopped in the car. And we made sure that you made it to your classroom and got you all set up. And your stuff all put away.
While Branden has always been very chill and calm and zen about everything, you were always my worry-wart. And I love you both. Exactly as you are. Branden knew how "doki doki"/nervous you'd be. He asked all his friends to clap so super loud for you and cheer for you and boy did they ever. And when they did roll call. And called out your name. They all clapped and cheered so loudly and my heart was bursting with happiness and relief for you. And I could see your kind shy smile. I had absolute peace of mind knowing your big brother could watch out for you... for 2 years in elementary school and he did. He never let anyone be mean to you. He's just that kind of protective big brother, he's not ever been a bully because Bran is a good kid too, but he's just protective about Noah. And when it was time for him to leave and go to JHS, you were by that time.... totally more than okay. Okay to be there alone, so relieved he could be there with you for your first 2 years of shogakko. Anyways... all these years, I have enjoyed watching you come into your own element. And now you are a 6th grader. Yes you are still a little shy. Ha! You probably always will be. But...we love you exactly as you dearest Noah. I can't believe you will be graduating tomorrow. It frankly blows my mind. 
Thank you Branden for always being the best big brother...that any little brother would be lucky to have!!! And are shy yes, but that's okay. You are also kind and nice and absolutely gorgeous. When they announced your name at the..."Goodbye to the 6th graders" event last week" all grades voted what you were known for the most....they said..."Noah is known for always being kind and friendly to *everyone*" and that is so super true. They described you perfectly. And entered elementary school wearing gray. And I made sure when I picked out your graduation outfit, that I also picked out gray too. How truly fitting. At our local elementary school graduation ceremony....everyone wears their future JHS uniform for elementary school graduation. But since...Noah is going to the United States and has no JHS uniform like how they prefer kids to dress for graduation. I made sure to get Noah a suit. And considering Noah is as white as chalk (just look at his legs and face in this picture), I prefer get him a suit in gray, because it just suits his fair skin/coloring better. 

Tomorrow my dearest Noah, you will complete another milestone. Your elementary school education will be complete. I will watch you walk into that gymnasium one last time. I will clap and cheer and cry my eyes out! They will be proud tears. Not sad tears. They will be happy tears. They will be...I love you tears!!! It will be my very last time to ever step foot in that lovely amazing elementary school. And it will be the last time to ever be near all the other awesome parents and kids we have come to know all throughout these years. A chapter will close for you tomorrow.  And I will be there. On the sly...I will be waving to let you know where mom is sitting to reassure you as always. We have 2 cameras all charged up and ready to go. One of those takes very good digital videos. My suit is all ready. Tomorrow will be awesome! Just take it all in. Enjoy it. You will remember tomorrow for years and years to come trust me, I know. The journey to getting to this point... has been been absolutely amazing. Because this elementary school was so fun! You cooked. You had class turtles. You went on some amazing field trips with your class.  And I'm just so proud to be your mom. And know, that another adventure awaits you in America. So good luck tomorrow! We love you much!!! And yes, we're taking you to Jolly Pasta tomorrow night for your graduation dinner! Since that's the place you requested. Good luck tomorrow. We love you.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Bits and pieces...

Today the weather in Chiba and Ibaraki was crazy for our area. The elementary school warned yesterday, that there would be super strong winds and pouring rain today. Possible school delays this morning too. However, I know that our local elementary school did *NOT* want to delay the elementary aged kids school start time at all. When I woke up at 4:50am this morning, I could hear wild howling winds and pelting pouring rain. It frankly sounded like a typhoon out there. Looked like one too. But Branden went to school as planned, such dependable trains. I dropped him off at our usual time at the train station before 6:30am. The weather? Felt really warm. Freakishly so. But again pouring rain and outrageous winds. Dropped off Branden. Noboru wondered if Noah's school would be delayed? It was a fair question because... In the past 30 days Noah's school put all elementary kids on a delayed schedule twice for rain. And today's weather was *way* worse. But I knew....for a fact that the local shogakko was not going to cancel elementary school or even delay it under any circumstances. Why? Because our 1 and only JHS/chugakko in town had graduation today. Yes, and was this the.... worse weather day to ever have a graduation day in? Sadly...yes. But this was their celebration day. We have 2 ninth graders on our street, both boys. One has a 5th grade younger brother. And frankly if school was put on a storm schedule. How could they drive their 5th grade son to school at say 10am for example if graduation at the local JHS starts at 8:30am? Impossible and not everybody lives with extended family nearby. And Noah's classmate...a very good friend of Noah's...that friend...he has a 9th grade sister. So many graduating 9th graders in our town absolutely have younger siblings. And it would piss off all 9th grade parents with younger kids...if their younger kids could NOT start school on time at 7:30am. As a parent with 2 kids. I "get it" I you love both kids and must keep track of both their schedules and not just 1 schedule. So yep....I know...hell or high water...the elementary school would be on their regular schedule. Because of the JHS graduation today. And if chickens and/or cows go flying in the air due to high winds... so be it. Exactly 7 days from now... 1 week from now it will be Noah who is graduating. And our family all dressed up and inside the elementary school for our final time...experiencing Noah's graduation. I hope the weather is better for us next Friday, than today. I really feel for the kids graduating today. Because the weather was just not cooperating today at all for them. : ) Anyway....This pic was from February 27th. After shopping around Costco. We decided to have lunch there, my husband and I. He had 2 hot dogs. I had 1 slice of cheese pizza and we shared this caramel pecan soft serve ice cream. 

Spring break is happening soon. Noah will not have school after next Friday and neither will Branden. So lunches at home are necessary. Mac and Cheese and 4 frozen cheese pizzas. We also always have instant ramen and/or yakisoba UFO type things, quick fast things for lunch. What else is in this cart? Pasta sauce. Mozzarella cheese and great big hunk of Colby/Jack cheese. 
I baked the family a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, last Saturday. They loved it. 

All this week Bran has been getting out of school between 10:30-11:30am. And gets home around 12 or 1pm... depending on when he catches his train or if he's going to grab a Starbucks with his friends on the way home or make a MickeyD's stop along the way too. So, this week...I had a hard time doing the weekly grocery run. Because I drive 50 minutes to Inzai. One way. So, I have to be *extremely* careful with my time. Which lucky for me.... the one thing I really really excel at... is time management. I left my house by 8am March 7th. Made sure I was at Japan Meat/Joyful Honda by 9am. On the elevator to the first floor. I park on the roof because they have free charging for my electric car. I bought all the weekly meat. Checked out and was back in the car after 21 minutes. I then popped into Cainz, bought toilet paper and shampoo. And had enough time to zip across the street to Costco before opening. I was there before the Costco doors rolled up. I grabbed my cart and picked up these 2 items. Tortillas and dinner rolls. Noboru threw the other quick meal thing in my cart and we were in the car super fast. 

I snapped this pic after we loaded the things in my car. This pic is date stamped March 7th 10:16am. basically I was in and out within 16 minutes. Damn! I crushed it!!! Super crushed it! Told time management skills are amazing. I truly zip in and out ....get my list scratched off and leave. I was home around 11:40am. Noboru said..."I can't believe you did all that and got back to town with so much time to spare." 
Noah's 2 besties waiting for Noah to grab his bike. I snapped this pic on my security cam/ monitor. There are only 36 kids in Noah's grade/class. And in that only half are boys. However only like 7 live in our housing community and these 7 play together *all* the time. And I do mean all the time. Every day that the weather is nice. No rain, no snow. They're off riding bikes. These rural Japan kids... play like kids in the 70's and 80's played. They ride bikes. They play soccer. They go to the playground. They go fishing or zarigani/crawdad hunting in warmer weather. They're all Line friends too. This specific day they went to one of their friends house to play Nintendo Switch. LOL. : ) 

You can see Noah's green Gap sweatshirt in front of his friend in the right. He grabbed his bike and the 3 of them rode off to go and play Nintendo Switch. : )

Anyway, it's Friday here. Obviously... I already said that. : ) I'm so glad the weekend is here. What have I done today? I washed all the cozy fuzzy warm couch blankets on the couch and then tossed them in my dryer. They're now all nicely fresh. And all fluffy and on the couch waiting for 2 kiddos to chill and relax in them later this evening. I washed everyone's bath towels last night and just tossed them in my dryer before bed and yesterday in the daytime, I did 2 loads of clothes (lights and dark clothing) and don't have enough for a full load yet. So laundry is done for today. And you know Saturday is the day I wash both the boys bedding, sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases etc. I'm also planning to bake some cookies tomorrow too. I made a double batch of pork green chili and beans yesterday, so tonight we'll have bowls of pork green chili, with some beans, some tortillas. It's going to be delicious and awesome since I made it all yesterday. Phew. So no dinner for me to cook tonight. : )

Yesterday Branden had high school tests. Geography and music and French. Branden loves his French class. And today he has 3 other tests. Today he has Japanese (his final Japanese test ever ever ever) and he had an English test (not his final English test, not by a long shot) Hahaha. And some other test. I'm completely drawing a black on what the 3rd subject was for today, oh well, sorry about that. Branden just messaged me and he and his 2 besties are at McDonald's right now. Having combos and celebrating getting through their tests for the week. They have more tests next week too, but just on Monday and Tuesday.  Have a good weekend. We're just going to relax at home this weekend.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Noah's final Observation Day at our local elementary school in Japan...

Last Thursday March 1st, was Noah's final Observation Day as an elementary school student. And on a more important note, it was also Noah's final Observation Day in Japan PERIOD. So a super special day for us and him. Observation Day was for the last class of the day, for all 6 grades. Two weeks beforehand, Noah told me that his 6th grade class had planned to bake cookies the day before Observation Day. Something us parents and our 6th grade student could share together. And a week beforehand the 6th graders were deciding, if the final Observation Day should be us watching and observing class or if we should go and play some dodge ball in the gymnasium. They voted and decided we should play dodge ball. So that's what we did. March 1st, at 1:20pm us 6th grade parents met outside the school gym. Our 6th graders were already waiting for us inside the building. Important to note... this is the day we all paid for their elementary school yearbook. 22,000 yen/ around US$200.00 We paid, got our receipt. And entered the gymnasium. Living in rural Japan, with a town population under 5,000 people. Our school has just one 6th grade class. And only one 1st grade class, and only one 2nd grade class etc.  36 kids total for the 6th graders. We split the kids in half and had 2 dodgeball games going at once in the gym. I've known these parents since Noah was a first grader. Remember since our town is so tiny, our town doesn't even have a yochien. There is 1 hoikuen in our actual town, but both Branden and Noah went to a yochien in a small city nearest our town. And some of the parents, I have known since Branden was in the first grade too. So, for me...when I look at these pictures. I see parents that I am really fond of. I see people who we have enjoyed undokai/sports day with  for 6-9 years, if they were also fellow parents from Branden's ichinensei too.When I see this picture, I see Noah. I see my husband and I also see my friends and Noah's friends. 

The biggest of smiles and best of laughs. My husband and his friend. They are both in the Father's Club. This man in red has 2 daughters. His oldest daughter was a classmate of Branden's since they were first graders. And his middle daughter is Noah's age. We have been close with this family for 9 years. Living in rural Japan, your relationships with others... especially if you raise kids here. Your bonds are tight. Your friendships are close. Noboru being originally from Osaka and me being originally from America, this town just welcomed us with open arms and an open mind. Friendships like this are truly priceless. And the "helper" teacher in the background in gray, I adore her so much! She's fantastic. 

Let's try not to get hit with the ball!

Noah's main teacher in the gray pants and blue sweatshirt. 

Noah having such a great day! He loves dodgeball.

The 6th graders sang a graduation type of song for us parents. They all did so wonderfully. 
Noah is part of the Baking Club, so he had to get to school extra early, the day before and make the dough with the other 6th grade baking club members. And then at regular school starting time, the rest of the 6th graders met them in the cooking room. Our school has an amazing huge cooking room. And they baked cookies until lunch that day. After the kids sang... they passed out the cookies to us parents. The note sent home the day before, said for us parents to bring our own drink. Noboru and I each brought a bottle of tea and Noah had ice tea in his thermos. 

One bag for the 6th grade child and the other bag with note attached, was for their parent. Noboru and I munched on the cookies Noah made for us. They were delicious. It was a very good idea to bake cookies. Teachers have the best ideas! : )

This note attached to the cookies was written to us from Noah. It says, "For 6 years, thank you for supporting me" Truly such a fantastic note. Such appreciation from my son. Thank you Noah! I will always continue to support you and also your brother too. I love you both so much. So anyway, that was Noah's final Observation Day.

We also had another event, which was basically a "Good bye to the 6th graders event," where all grades sort of celebrate the 6th graders. There was an emotional slide show too. In Japanese it's called, Rokunensei o Okurukai. We had that yesterday. March 5th. I enjoyed all of it, but I admit I cried when they showed the slide show, of our kids starting out as little "pika pika ichinensei" And show pics of our kids, throughout all 6 grades. And by the time, we hit the 5th grade, I was crying. Many of us parents were. So were the kids. Noah graduates March 16th. Right now, because the 6th graders will be graduating soon. Noah goes to school 20 minutes early in the mornings now.... all 6th graders are right now. They have been practicing for graduation since yesterday and this will continue until the day before graduation. Also right now because Noah is a 6th grader and also spring break is almost upon us, Noah has a very irregular schedule right now. He gets out of school right now 2pm most days, but some days it's 11am. So his coming home time right now is shortened now. And as for Branden, he has high school tests this week and next week. So he is getting out of school at 11am for this week and next week. I feel with their irregular schedules....I really have to stay on my toes. And be sure to check and double check *both* their schedules every single day. March is proving to be a busy month for our household. : )

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

What am I looking forward to regarding moving back to the US?

 At the end of January, I went out to lunch with my 2 really good friends and they asked me this question. What was I looking forward to, about moving back to the US. It was such a perfect question. I had a 100 things rush in my mind all at once. My face lit up and I started naming a few things. And my smile grew wide. It's a question I have been asked a few times since. And I thought it would be perfect for today... to post about it. Regarding my kids, what am I most happy about for them getting to move to the US? As far as my kids are concerned?

For Branden...I am looking forward to Branden getting to go to homecoming dances and attending prom for his junior and senior year of high school. I’m looking forward to Branden getting his drivers license this year. I’m looking forward to Branden going to an American high school and enjoying things like...backwards day, where you dress in clothes that you put on backwards. Or pajama day, where everyone wears pajamas to school for 1 day. Or Halloween... how kids dress up at school. I look forward to Branden going to the school cafeteria and eating with 200 of his classmates. His high school experiences in the U.S. are going to be absolutely *phenomenal.* I can't wait to watch Bran have all these experiences.

As for Noah. I look forward to Noah starting an American Junior high school or middle school. Mine was called a middle school. I'll enjoy watching Noah get the chance to wear regular clothes to middle school. Like Vans and low top Converse. And a Jansport backpack. I look forward to Noah eating in an American school cafeteria. I look forward to..instead of a Japanese JHS life. Where *everyone* is expected to dress alike and be the same and feel stressed out... *all* the time because of the constant tests. I look forward to watching Noah discover who he is as a person, an individual and human being. To not be forced to be in a bukatsu/club and be in said club 24/7 even on Christmas day. To watch Noah flourish and thrive in the US. To watch Noah go to school dances. Dress up for Halloween. To get to watch Noah be a regular tween and teen.... I am beyond excited that half of Noah’s education will take place in the United States. For him to grow up doing the “Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America”, every single morning the way that I did growing up (I did check and yes schools still do this). I am looking forward to him having Taco Tuesday in the school cafeteria or a gorgeous salad if he chooses in the cafeteria. I am looking forward to him getting a few days off every November, because in America students get a few days off school for Thanksgiving in November.

American kids eating and picking what they want for lunch. There is water available. Milk (chocolate and regular) lots of fresh fruit and healthy vegetables. I loved picking lunch in an American cafeteria growing up and it does make me sad, when people talk crap about American school lunches. I always felt they were very nice. Is there crap stuff there too, if you pick it? Sure...but just don't pick it then.

You can pick a sandwich. Or whatever else you like in an American school cafeteria.
Tons of fresh fruit and my school always had a great big salad bar. With tons of types of toppings to make a salad with and about 3-5 different types of dressings too. There are plenty of healthy options. And I look forward to both Branden and Noah getting to eat lunch like this in the Fall.
Yep a great big salad, a fresh peach another piece of fruit and a milk. But again the kids can choose and decide what they want. 
The school cafeteria always buzzed with excitement. And again just an experience I can't wait for my kids to get to experience.
I look forward to watching you Noah, in an American middle school.

Bran's backpack. I wonder what type of school backpack my kids will choose before school starts in the Fall? Hmm.

Or what type of shoes my kids will pick to wear. No more school uniforms for you Branden. And no JHS uniform for you Noah. : )

What am I excited about for myself? To *never* have to “save a spot for undokai” ever again!!! To never have to dress up for an entrance ceremony ever again, yes in America we do dress up... but not to the extreme extent, that we do in Japan... in America graduation ceremonies, the focus is on the kids... not what adults are wearing. To never have to do aisatsu undo (morning greeting) ever again (greeting kids in the morning in Japan, every parent takes a turn doing that) To be able to go to Target whenever I want to... versus once a freaking year. To actually live in my home country. Which means when I make Thanksgiving dinner, *all* my kids classmates and all our neighbors and the whole country will also be celebrating and baking the same thing. Which is so nice... instead of being the only family in our town. To be a short 1 and a half hour flight from my home state, which means I can actually see my family and life-long friends (friends since my childhood) more often.

What else am I looking forward to? To actually take a REAL vacation. And what I mean by that is. As an expat. I tend to go to the United States once a year... when our big vacation comes. And we spend a good 12 days relaxing and 2 days shopping stocking up on stupid things... but essential things/necessary things like...underwear or bras or deodorant or coffee creamer or Advil. Or cold meds. Or tampons. It will be nice now... that we can actually.... go to for example... Washington DC sometime and see the museums and points of interest. To go to New York and take the kids to the Statue of Liberty and Central Park and maybe Little Italy. To go to South Dakota and see Mount Rushmore. We have been to New York before just once... our kids don’t remember a thing. And we have been to South Dakota and to Mount Rushmore, Noboru and I together, but our kids weren’t born yet. To go to Walt Disney World in Florida. To go to Disneyland in California. To go to Honolulu with *just a  carry-on* sounds like a dream. Meaning no need to carry 2 gigantic empty suitcases to lug things back to Japan. Now we can actually just go and chill and take a carry-on...for each of us. For us to able to go to Alaska. Go to Canada. Go to Europe. Enjoy the world. And with just a carry-on. So yeah if you are an expat, you will understand this 100%. Because for 15-16 long years...instead of taking a vacation...I took a return trip home and it was like 90% relaxing yes, but 10% stocking up to bring essential things back to Japan and yes it was exhausting doing that once a year. Hella exhausting. But also quite necessary... if you live overseas. So will be nice to *not* have to stock up anymore. And it’ll be *nice* to live in my home country. And it will be nice to be able to start taking real legit vacations. Without the big empty suitcase. If you live overseas. You will “get this” 100% completely.

What else am I looking forward to?  Listen. Some people are adventurous and want to live overseas. They love it. And never want to return to their home country ever except for a short visit, to live permanently overseas. I’m *not* one of those people. I fell in love with my husband. We married. We were to live in the US, that was our life plan and our goal. Then he was asked to live in Japan for 5 years by his work and it snowballed. Granted...I have always *thrived* in Japan. But I have *always always always* hoped to return to the US. If you are my irl (in real life) friend then you know that. I have *never* been shy to say that. I have spent 15 years in Japan, this June would mark year 16 for me, I won’t be here for that Japaniversary thank goodness.. I am so used to head bowing people on a daily basis. How long will it take me to stop doing that in the US? Honestly....maybe a few months. 

In 15 years time. LaCroix sparkling water has become a thing. It’s popular. I have *never* had one. I have always wanted to. But every time we’re in the US, I look for a single can to buy and can’t find one (I only find the box of 12 or 24 and if I hate it, I don't want to buy that many). What else. Panera Bread is hugely popular, I know that. I’ve never been. Also,I haven’t participated in a Black Friday since Branden was 2 or 3 years old and I went back to Colorado for a visit. I am not going to list for you....every little itty bitty thing that I haven’t been able to participate in or experience. But I will just’s going to feel freaking amazing to be a proper American again. Who is actually living in the US. And be able to live there. Have a life there. And have all those life experiences...the experiences that I have sadly had to miss out on.... all these years. So...yeah. So to say that I am happy about the move... is really putting it mildly.

I will finally get the chance to try this. Will I like it? Maybe, maybe not. But now I can actually try it at least.
My girl friends that I grew up with, *always* go here. I have never had the chance. Now with us soon to there. I will actually be able to go in one... any time I want. OMG! I can't believe it.

Panera Bread is famous for their homemade soups. And their salads and sandwiches. And their muffins and pastries. Where we are moving to...they have a Panera Bread. And now I can go. 

Now I can try things, I have always wanted to try. And dreamed about trying. So please, just be happy for me. This is just *so* what we want. A life in the states. 
I am so sick to death of only going to America for our once a year big vacation, once a year. And as soon as we deboard the airplane, I feel like a stop watch has been set and it’s ticking. LOUDLY. And I always feel like 12-14 days goes by too fast. I hate seeing my relatives and they have aged by 1 year... every time I see them again, makes me so sad because I love them, but I hate that a years time always passes before the next time and sometimes 2 years pass by. But now...even if I live in a different state... I’ll still only be a short 1 or 2 hours flight away, this is a domestic trip...that I can take often. It won’t feel like a great big ocean separates us any longer and oh... how I long for that. It won’t be opposite day and night anymore. We'll be on the same day and night and same day...oh what a dream. 
I took this picture the last time we were in Hawaii. 

I snapped this pic in Hawaii too. I love Target!!! You know what makes me sad? Walking into a Target one of my most favorite American stores. While on vacation. And feeling like....well...I’ll probably only be able to shop in this Target only once or twice for our entire trip. And feeling envious at my fellow American shoppers who get to shop there Every.Single.Week. If they’d like to. To always know that my “American time” and stay is.. *only* temporary. That it’s fleeting and will be over in a blink of an eye. Only 12-14 days and the clock is already ticking loudly, like I already said. I swear, I can hear that ticking stop-watch every trip, every summer. Everywhere I go for that short 14 days.

Noah in orange of course! I snapped this pic of us leaving Target in Oahu years ago. To know that I can at Target any ol' time I'd like, starting from April. I'm just overjoyed. The city where we will move will have Target too. And Walmart and Costco. And Walgreens.
The city we will be moving to in April will also have a Sonic. They make the best peanut butter shakes. To not have to wait once a year. To know we can go any time we'd like. I seriously can't even fully comprehend it yet. It hasn't kicked in for me yet. Our future city will also have quite a few Pizza Huts. Taco Bell obviously. Wendy's. Real KFC with mashed potatoes and gravy and macaroni and cheese as sides. American McDonald's (which the menu is different than Japan) Panda Express. Dairy Queen, yes our city we're moving to has Dairy Queen too. They have an Olive Garden. And Jack in the Box. Red Lobster. Again if you live in the US...this means absolutely nothing to you. But if you lived overseas and never had easy access to this stuff. Then it will be a huge deal to you, like it is to us. Of course there's way more restaurants, I am just naming a few. 
Yes, my future city will have an Ulta. I can't even believe that I'll have such easy access to cosmetics now. My future city also has a Sephora but it's just one inside a JC Penney....but seriously...beggars can't be choosers. As the old saying goes. So, I am just grateful to what I will have access to. Plus I can order online from anywhere soon, since I'll be living in the US. My city also has a Honey Baked Ham store. Not sure if I'll buy one. But gee whiz...I can buy one if I wanted to. My future city will also have 2 Bath and Body Works too. Plus shopping malls and outlet stores.
I grew up going grocery shopping at Safeway in Denver. The main stores in Colorado were, Safeway, Albertsons and King Soopers. If you grew up in Colorado, those were your stores. Safeway is located in 18 states now days, I checked online. And the state we are moving to, has tons of Safeway stores and Albertsons too. It also has a local chain too, which I won't name. But holy cow!!! I get to shop in Safeway every single, week if I want to now? Starting in April of course. Can't freaking believe it. I still have my Safeway club card, lol. I use it every time we're in Hawaii or Colorado. 

I used to love asking my favorite deli person to freshly slice me some black forest ham or some honey ham and to also slice me some really good cheese that I'd ask the person working there... to slice for me too for some sandwiches for my lunches for the week when we lived in the US, at Safeway. Or the big containers of potato salad in the summer. Or cheese danish for breakfasts. Can't believe this will be us in about 6 weeks again. 
See you soon Safeway.

Every single time I fly out of DIA (Denver International Airport)...and head back to Japan and I have mentioned it on this blog before too. I silently weep/cry as we fly out of Denver International Airport. Because I know...the next time I get could be years. Because sometimes we go to Hawaii. Sometimes we go to other spots in the US. And now...I get to stay in the US for good....forever??? It's still hard for me to believe it. It's just something I always wished for. But didn't know if it would be in the cards for me. And now it is. 

Every single time that I am in the US. I fit in like a glove. I naturally just fit. I don’t have any food problems or adjustments. I love the chitter chatter. I always feel so completely at home in the states. And it always tugs at my heart when I leave the US. It is emotionally shattering. Leaving a country that you don’t want to leave. Granted...I was happy in Japan, don’t get me wrong. But I just blend in so seamlessly there. It’s effortless for me. I belong there, I feel it in my heart, I feel it in my bones. I have *always* felt that and known that.

Will I have a bit of an adjustment? Of course. I think I will be head bowing people for 2 months straight.... more than likely. I will probably feel like I am on vacation for the first month that we’re there...and only then... will I slowly start to realize..."umm Gina you live here in America now." So no need to stock up anymore. In Japan small talk is quite uncommon. But in America, it happens everywhere. So, yeah...I am going to have to adjust. And also...simple things like...driving on the right hand side of the road. My blinkers (turning signals) and windshield wipers are opposite to where they are placed in Japan. So I am sure I will be turning my windshield wiper blades on 3-5 times a day for a few weeks. I going to have to adjust? Of course. But...I think we will adjust just fine. And by the time me and the kids are adjusted. Noboru will be moving there. And then we will be complete