Sunday, July 27, 2014

Honolulu bound...

Are you surprised? So are we! : ) Sit down for a minute, if you can and catch up and hear all about it. : )
 
Okay so if you read the last post, I had talked about fuller flights to Los Angles and the possibility of us having to go through Portland or Seattle, because of the flight load list. The flight basically was just filling up and we started to wonder if we’d be able to get on our flight. All day yesterday we started debating...worrying...wondering and thinking. And given I had to start working the summer festival, it’s not like I had oodles of time. What we knew... by 1pm yesterday. We knew we couldn’t fly out of Narita anymore to get to LA or any west coast connecting flight *at all* it was just that full of a flight. So Haneda it was to be. We worried if the flight Sunday evening from Haneda would be too full also though. So, I came up with a good idea, why not leave Saturday and at the very least it gives us 1 extra “try” day...to get ourselves on the flight. Why not increase the odds and chances, right. So Noboru thought that was a great idea too, so we switched ourselves and put us on last nights stand-by list. A day early. And I left to work the festival. I had also meanwhile told my fellow fuku-kaicho/VP and the prez. So they knew what was happening. They said I could leave working early at 5:30pm versus stay to the end. They’re nice ladies. So I worked in the hot sun. Many were drinking drinks or chewing tablets that protected from heat stroke...it was THAT hot working outside yesterday. I drank a water and worked. I sold so many frozen ice-creams (Coolish) : ) Anyway....my fellow VP remembered and said...Tokyo is having fireworks tonight...you should leave right away because you could get caught in traffic!!!! Her mother lives in Tokyo, so she knew. : ) So, I left at 5:15pm waved all my fellow members a good bye and ran home with the boys who were at the festival with friends.
 
I jumped in the shower took a fast 5 minute shower from neck down to cool off from working outside. We loaded the mini mini van and we hit the road to Haneda. It took us forever to get there... hours!!!! @.@
 
The problem is this about Haneda. The runway is very short. And for a long haul flight you need a very long runway to pick up the speed to lift that heavy plane with passengers, cargo and lots of fuel and with a super short runway they are VERY hard with weight restrictions on the Los Angeles and Seattle flight. They won’t even give us a stand by ticket until 11pm. We were stand by passengers #1,2,3,and 4. There were about 30 stand by’s and we knew if we couldn’t get on, they couldn’t either. We all waited anxiously for the lady to come out and speak with us all. And by the way....Noboru could see the employees page while there and he saw 2 dead heads had listed last minute meaning.. 2 off duty flight attendants or pilots. So they took 2 seats. Anyway the lady comes out and says...due to the weight of the flight we can only let 177 passengers on the flight today and there is already 175. According to the flight load the (our last name) are first in line...would you like the 2 remaining seats. All 30 faces swivel towards us. “no we won’t go and thank you though” absolute disappointment!!!....we left...slinking away. Got back into the car and drove the couple hours back home. We got home around 2:45am last night. The poor kids were crashed dead tired in the back seat.  We didn’t take the 2 seats because there was no guarantee the other 2 of us could get on the next day...so it was smarter for us to stay together.
 
During a 2 and a half hour drive..you talk and we did. We flat out said...do you think here is ANYWAY for us to get to the mainland...anyway at all. Noboru is very honest and he said...no, now I don’t think so. Honestly good to know. We had briefly mentioned going to Hawaii because we know the flight looks open and Noboru thinks we can make it and get on ...plus it’s out of Narita (right near us) but yesterday in the day we both said...no way...no Honolulu!!! We had our heart set on Universal Studios!!! Great Mexican food. Tons of Targets. (Hawaii just has 1 Target, well as of last year they did)...The kids were gutted at the airport when they first found out...no Transformers ride!!! : ( But believe me...as Noboru and I drove while the kids slept...after realizing getting to California just wasn’t going to happen. You either decide you will go no where. Or you go to Honolulu and enjoy yourself....because hey at least you are on vacation...consider yourself lucky, right! That’s my thinking anyway. Yeah a 2 and a half hour drive and...we both decided...yes...let’s just go.
 
The bad...for the past 2 months, we’ve been thinking about nothing but California and Universal Studios...studying and planning our trip and places we’d like to eat.
 
The positive...#1...we lost no vacation days... because we did leave 1 day early! That is a positive. Also another positive...though it might not be the vacation we had originally envisioned..okay granted! But hello...how many people wish their whole lives to go to Honolulu Hawaii. And we get to go there!!! So truly not bad! Plus there is Target and Walmart and Sephora and Old Navy and everything else the mainland has...so again not bad at all. And at least we get to go on vacation and boy oh boy do we need one. : ) Plus we used to live there... so we know where we’re going and that is another plus. So now we have to set our stomachs to thoughts of the famous shrimp...the pineapple and or coconut ice-cream...Jack in the Box, lol. : )
 

So that’s the plan Stan...as of right now. Flight load wise...it looks like we’ll get on and leaving from Narita is fantastic. So...it’s better for us leaving from there. Now all we have to do is...hope the plane doesn’t break down, hahaha. If you don’t hear from us... in 24hours...then you’ll know we got on. : ) Another positive...we’re already packed since yesterday, and we had swimsuits and summer stuff packed in the suitcases anyway. : ) Alright good vibes people, hope we get on and the plane takes off and we actually get there this time! Hahaha. : ) Catch up with ya’ll when we get back. : )

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shave ice, zucchini from the garden, helpful kids and Noah's Ripstik fun!

We've been having shave ice (kakigori) nearly every day since summer break started. We usually use lemon, however, I was really pleasantly surprised to see mango flavored shave ice syrup at the chain store Trial. The usual flavors that can be found most anyplace, are lemon, blue Hawaii, strawberry and melon. But finding mango at a store...this was my first time seeing it... in all my time living here in Japan, so I was pretty happy. I will be going back to Trial and buying a few more bottles. The price was cheap/fair 198 yen or 220 yen something around there. Not a bad price. : ) And the flavor was so freaking good. : )

We have been getting zucchini in our backyard a couple times a week. Like every 2 days or so. It's nice. If you recall, we had bought 2 zucchini plants, but 1 died. So not bad for just 1 plant. Plus we are leaving on vacation soon and I appreciate a low maintenance garden. : ) 

Here he is...

The boys love going outside and picking a fresh zucchini every couple days. In fact we have 1 big one right now that I will have the boys go and get... as soon as I finish this post. : ) 

I don't know if it's just me or maybe I'm just weird... but I honestly really hate coming back from vacation to a dirty or messy house. So, I am really working hard this week to get the downstairs spic and span. And the upstairs clean too. I wet a cleaning rag with hot water put some creamy cleanser (generic 100 yen from Cainz/Beisia) and Branden went out there and kicked butt wiping the chairs super clean because, they do get grimy after a month. So, I appreciated he jumped right in and helped with that.

I had the table cloth already washed and hanging to dry outside in the sun, same for the rug runners, kitchen rugs.

Went outside and soaked the trash can. Noah antibacterial wiped all 3 of the trash can lids. 

I scrubbed/mopped the floor. I also scrubbed the heck out of the entrance way/genkan tiles.

A fresh clean table cloth. 

Perfectly clean tiles in the entry way. Shoes on the opposite side of when you open the door. Behind those 2 doors is a shoe closet. Windex-ed the mirror, dusted the table with pictures and plants. Gain Febreeze and mosquito spray near the door, in case I hear a car door close and a guest is approaching (our street is so super quiet it's noticable when a car goes down our street) or Branden and Noah are going outside to play and need a quick spritz of mosquito spray. : )

Brought the chairs back into the house, put the table back together. We also had Branden's teacher coming to our home Thursday for a conference. So, I just had 1 more reason to make sure it was tidy and ready for visitors. : )

The glasses and coasters waiting on the green counter waiting for the teacher. The teacher said he's 38 years old, he was married late and has an 11 month old baby (his first) he said Branden is an excellent student. He sat facing the backyard and jungle gym, he really enjoyed his visit and he stayed a whole hour, even though he was only to stay 15 minutes. Hahaha. : )  They do not have the conferences at the students house at our elementary school, but the JHS does. So a slight difference between Noah's school and Branden's regarding that. : )

I did take off the plastic table cloth that goes over the linen table cloth... but I did put it back on as soon as he left because, with kids you know how spills and accidents happen. : ) So just safer to put it back on. 

Three spic and span trash cans. That's where my mop usually goes, now it's laying down on the ground behind the trash cans though. 

In the summer it feels nice to lay on these huge beach towels on the couch. And maybe a towelket over at night to watch TV and get snuggly. : ) Ceiling fan going to keep you cool, plus the 24 hour central air is nice (and no bill since we have solar panels). It's hotter than hell outside, so it is nice to be inside and keep cool. : ) I think after we get back from California, I will take my couch stripey cushion covers off and go to the local laundry mat and wash them. The stripey covers unzip for easy cleaning and they haven't been washed in about a year, so they could use it. : ) It's always something...always something. Having a clean house is endless, it truly never ends, no matter how hard I try. But that's okay. : ) 

A quiet kitchen at night, squeaky clean floor. I went in the kitchen for a drink. 1 teacher conference down, 1 more to go. Noah's is on Friday/today 1:30pm at the school. 
The haunted night at the school is this Friday evening/tonight. Plus firework celebration. Since Branden is in JHS, and Noboru's running it, being in the Father's Club, he thought why not invite any JHS kid that would like to help "scare" or help in general and do so. : ) Only 3 or 4 kids would like to, Akira, K (he is the one we have a pic of during last weeks firework thing in our housing community and his little brother K is in Noah's class) Branden and maybe 1 more kid is coming too. Anyway Branden needed a costume. A scary one. And we didn't want to spend buku bucks because... we're just about to go on vacation so as affordable as possible. We went to Don Quijote and they didn't have as much stuff as we hoped for. : ( Also the prices on wigs were 2200 yen/$22 US. No way...for just a 30 minute- 1 hour thing, absurd. However we did buy this super creepy mask...smiling evil looking mask! It was 550-580 yen. And then we hit the Daiso, we purchased this rainbow wig for 200 yen and a tie in the costume section at Daiso. 

This is so scary...truly disturbing! Hahaha. Noah flat out said, "Branden you look really scary!" Even Branden looked in the mirror and said.."I'm frightening!" Noboru laughed. But yeah we were really creeped out... so I think the kids will get a good scare!!! : ) And he can keep this for next year's event too! : ) Branden will be in 1 dark room, nothing in there except for the 4 hanging pumpkin heads from our house that usually hang on our front porch at Halloween time. When the kids are distracted looking at the glowing pumpkins Branden will make a small noise and they will turn their heads and see this scary face!!! This is going to be so much fun! And I think Branden is such a good sport to offer to do this and help his dad out! : ) Good kid good kid! : )
Noboru went and set up the school last night. Thursday night. With his fellow Father's Club guys, the head teacher, a few guy teachers and the principal. 1 lone stuffed animal sitting in the hall waiting to creep out the kids. : )

Bones...
I shared pics of Noah's very cool, Japan only special edition Ripstik last month.... however, I forgot to share this pic of his matching helmet. He also got a 3 piece set of protective wear. You all know how nervous I was with Noah having a Ripstik in the first place : (...so needless to say, he was going to get safety equipment as well. Better to be safe than sorry. And when I was growing up, a boy my classmate at the Catholic elementary school I went to, he was a little blond Irish American kiddo he looked sorta like Thomas J from My Girl. He was 4 or 5 months older than me. Anyway, he rode on some body's back of their dirt bike. It didn't happen on our street it happened elsewhere. Anyway...long story short, he fell off or something, he was in the hospital. Skull fracture. And he had to wear a doctors helmet to protect his injury/head for a whole year after that. That just always scared me. So...while I might not be a complete nazi about helmets when the boys ride bikes (since we live in inaka-ville...and yes I know they should use it all the time, regardless but...), however with this Ripstik, I just feel better knowing he uses one. 

Noah rides this so well, so smoothly, he's a natural. Which is amazing because if I were to try, I know I'd kill myself for sures! : ) He has the elbow pads (which Noah hates, lol), hand guards (which he loves the hand guards/protectors) and he also has the knee pads which Noah loves too. 

My pale one, smiling and having a good old time. : ) 


Such a gorgeous happy boy! Love you Noah! : )


The knee protectors you really can't see, but I asked Noah to lift his pant leg and show..there they are. : )

Today's plan: teacher conference with Noah's teacher at 1:30pm. Make dinner immediately as soon as I get home after that, early is fine and we can eat it later. Dinner will be chicken parmesan and spaghetti. The haunted school fireworks thing is tonight. Come home have the kids take showers. Finish last minute packing items...though we are 90% packed for California already.

Saturday...day time I am free, but I will rest. Saturday evening I will be working the summer festival, we are eating Coco Ichiban curry Saturday night/tomorrow since I'll be busy working the festival all evening, chicken tenderloin curry here we come... this Saturday! : ). Sunday we're leaving. We are debating leaving via Narita or Haneda. Depending on how full the flight is, we might fly to like Portland or Seattle first and connect also...so that is also on the back burner too. Just superly busy these last few days. This might be the last post from me until after we get back form California. We all have Universal Studios on the brain. My list has been written and is done. I am so ready for Target and Sephora. And for lots of good foods, good eats. We have been running on fumes, running around like crazy... this whole past week, so if we can just get through until Sunday...we have made it! And we will be off...taking a break. I never blog while on vacation. I also do apologize that I have like 3 emails I have yet to reply to a few of you reading. I am so so sorry. I am a nice mom, nice wife, good yakuin/PTA leader... but I am a very bad email responder. I truly get an F minus minus on that! : ) I'll respond more than likely when we get back. Things have just been crazy town here. Boy oh boy... do we need this vacation. And boy oh boy.. do we need us some Universal Studios, Transformers ride, Minion ride, etc here we come. : )  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer break is here! Taco party at home! Homemade pizza from scratch. Kodomokai/Kids Club Fireworks!!! Pics from swimming school...

Last Thursday, July 17th, the last full day both Branden and Noah had school, since Friday was a half day. So, I cruised myself to Costco Thursday morning... I was there first thing as soon as they opened their doors. Just picked up these few items. Lean ground beef for our "let's party schools out dinner!!!" for the next day. Mozzarella cheese for homemade from scratch pizza for Saturdays dinner. And the rotisserie chicken was for Thursday night (swim night) so an easy meal appreciated. And choco croissants, yummm! For last day of school/next day of schools Friday's breakfast (yes please. lol)! : ) Grabbed a slice of pizza and a 60 yen soda with ice, had a drink and refilled before hopping into my car and heading back to Mayberry (my tiny town)

Friday! Both Branden and Noah got out at 11am. I picked them both up (Branden had a lot to lug home and on a bike, I just brought him home in my car, safer and easier)...they got changed and unpacked their stuff and I took them out to McD's for a celebration lunch...school is out for summer...woohoo yahoo and all that good stuff!!!! They had cheeseburgers and fries (Branden 3 cheeseburgers and Noah 2, they are growing boys...and they shared a large fry and a large soda) I had a goma salad and we went home. Summer break for me too...no horrible alarm waking me up at 5:30am every morning Mon-Fri. Yeah love summer break! : ) For supper Friday night we had tacos. The huge pack of ground beef I split into half and put in the freezer. But 1 half we used. I also made chicken tacos as well for myself. The 4 of us had a little taco party here at the house. Just knowing summer break was here...that we could now officially stay up late, wake up late. Just really really appreciated around here. So yippy, we were thrilled. And enjoyed our meal. The kids took showers, we all took turns showering and all ended up enjoying TV in the living room just a very nice Friday, July 18th. : ) 

I've been talking and blogging since 2005 the year...my blog started about how the kids help out around the house. When the kids have break, they help out around the house. I grew up with chores. And my kids have always been the same way. Like I said many many times before, even when they were 3 years old, I'd have them go and tidy the shoes in the genkan, help fold clothes, sure I might have to "refold" them again when they weren't watching of course, but it still gave them a purpose and they grew up always helping around the house. Or I remember buttering their toast or their frozen waffle even...and remembering when I felt they were old enough to start buttering their own. And yeah it looked like they were struggling with that butter knife and I would just patiently watch them try, but they did get the hang of it. : ) I do that to help them....because I love them... so when they are someday in college or uni, they will know how to do all that stuff. : ) Anyway...at age 9 and 12 and on summer break. Same as I blogged last year, one day one will vacuum the downstairs meanwhile the other will vacuum the actual stairs. And the next day they'll switch (I vacuum the upstairs every other day but the downstairs needs it daily). Also every morning they unload the dish washer 50/50 each of them. While I do the rest of the downstairs cleaning myself. They also do homework in the morning first thing after their chores are done. And I am making their breakfast. And from 11am-12 they can play. 12 noon is lunch time, music plays throughout the neighborhood and everything. But at 1pm-5 they can play outside too. Sometimes it's too hot outside and they come inside and play Wii. But mostly Noah rides his ripstick or they play soccer or they ride bikes throughout the neighborhood. We go on "real" vacation soon to California and they won't have a thing to do. : ) Me neither. : ) But for now we're doing regular stuff. : )

Branden was vacuuming the stairs this day, Noah meanwhile vacuumed the heck out of the downstairs. Really and honestly no, the kids being home on summer break doesn't drive me crazy at all... because they help me out a lot around the house or...they're off playing and being typical boys and kids. : ) This is also the season to go and look for beetles outside. : )

Meanwhile, Saturday morning, after I made breakfast and made the homemade pizza dough and let it rest in a big bowl. I did my nails (finger and toe nails) I went for a rosy gold color. I did have 1 accent solid gold sparkly nail. Because all the Yotube beauty vloggers are talking about the accent nail, lol. : ) 

8 of my nails look like this right now. A nice shimmer rose gold color and the tips with the gold glitter. This picture is total crapola... but the nails in real life came out really nice. And 1 accent nail on each hand. So 2 super glittery gold nails. 

This is a slightly better picture than the one up above... but it's still not a great pic but better than the one up above. The nails came out very cute and summery. : ) Very feminine and girly. : )

Saturday's pizzas baking nicely in the big oven. Oh yeah we were supposed to have our housing community fireworks, Saturday, but it rained...like lightning and thunder bolts! @.@ So it was postponed until the next/following day, Sunday, technically evening but you know what I mean. : ) 

We received some omiyage from Kyushu. Ramen. : ) 

Sunday morning after breakfast. I thought, you know what...I think I'm going to bake a pineapple upside down cake. I used 1 can of pineapple. I could have really used 2 more pineapple rings. But you know what...I wasn't about to go and buy a whole other can of pineapple for just 2 rings! That's nuts! I also used a yellow cake mix but...I used the pineapple juice from the can of pineapple as my "water" substitute when I made the cake mix according to the directions. So the cake came out so delicious and pineapple-y!! 

When Noboru came home from work...he said...what is that sweet smell, I smell it from the street/outside. He immediately had 2 slices. : ) That made me happy. Both the kids had 2 slices right away too, I had one slice. Needless to say this cake didn't last very long. : ) Which is so fine...I made it to make them happy in the first place! : ) I did make dinner Sunday. And at 7pm, I had to get myself to the "jinbei boy's" house because the fireworks were starting at 7:30pm!!! I had to help set up! : ) 

A blurry picture of Noah, Sunday evening July 20th at our fireworks celebration for our housing community. This is for elementary school kids only who live in our housing community. I did however bring my own pack of fireworks for Branden because he's still 12 and I know he'd like to light some too. And sure enough 5 other JHS students with younger siblings brought their own packs too. So they could enjoy too. And also younger siblings such as age 4 or 5 don't get fireworks either, so they also brought some for their younger kids too, who aren't quite in elementary school yet. 


We had such a nice turn out! : ) Very smoky, but a nice bunch of people showed up. 

That's Branden and Noah and the kiddo closest my camera is a JHS kiddo too and he was also on the swim team last year and his younger brother is in Noah's class. : ) 

I am so glad it didn't rain Sunday...otherwise it would have been cancelled completely. And the kids were so looking forward to this. : )



Just so many kids enjoying themselves. Us yakuin/kids club leaders, walked around with trash bags collected firework package wrappers, you know what I mean. Just any sort of trash we could collect. Making sure all candles were lit. Doing little chit chat with everyone, making sure everyone was having a good time. Etc etc. 

Many people on the left...

Many people on the right...

Here is Noboru in jeans and reddish shirt lighting the fireworks. This was the finale. Small finale, I know. But hey...I think we did okay. : ) If you recall...our housing community usually has a dashi pull, every summer, however the man who keeps the dashi and equipment for that...his wife is gravely ill. And so that was canceled this year and why we decided to do this instead for the kids. : ) It was no dashi pull, I know that...but it was at least something, us mothers/yakuin could whip together... and luckily Noboru came to the rescue to help light the finale/ bigger fireworks. Good guy. : )  

Awww! : ) I thought it was pretty. And everyone clapped and I hoped all the kids had a fun time. Everyone went home. Us yakuin stayed and cleaned as best as we could in pitch darkness. We agreed to come back at 8:30am the next morning/Monday morning and finish cleaning up. We did and the 4 of us cleaned the last bits up Monday morning, July 21st. I came home from cleaning firework remnants then, did my big toilet cleaning and big kitchen clean up Monday, the boys jumped in with vacuuming (so appreciated). And then us 3 hopped in my car and we went to the store after that. Bought the weekly groceries, weekly drinks, weekly fruit, etc. : ) We went home and had lunch, an egg salad sammy and potato chips. We all took an hour rest. I made an early dinner. Because I was taking the boys to swim school Monday evening. I promised to come and watch them. I like to go and watch them swim often over Summer break...when I am not running around like a chicken with her head cut off during summer break like I am when school's in session, so I get to go to swim school and watch the both of them.: ) 
Called the swim school an said that the swim bus wasn't needed that day because I was going to take them myself. They said okay. And upstairs I sat. : ) Branden swimming right here. His swimming is so strong! It flat out awes me. Puts me in awe!

Noah's swimming does as well. Oh my little one...however did you get to be such a little fish!

They just continuously swim back and forth for an hour and a half. How does their heart not explode from all that swimming? I honestly don't know! Fit as a fiddle, they are!!!

Noboru and I are both very strong swimmers. Boogie boarders and stuff ourselves. But our kids blow us away! Their technique, their strength...their speed. I forgot to show you the medals Noah won on his swimming competition, he did bring back 2. I'll share a pic of those this week. 

Leader of the lane is Branden in the yellow cap. The order is by skill level, who swims better and who swims faster! Noah was swimming 4th...but the kid in blue was being out swam by Noah so the coach pointed to blue cap and said you change and so blue cap became #4. And Noah became #3. Not to mention Noah is actually a year or 2 younger than blue cap and the fact Noah is the youngest period...for that swim lane, but yep, he's #3 for that lane now...unless he swims slower this coming Thursday. Noah is pretty competitive with his swimming so I imagine he'll stay 3rd for a while. So #1 and #2 both JHS kids and Noah is a 3rd grader and 3rd place for that lane, hahaha. And nobody messes with Noah because #1 they all know who his brother is and #2, Noah's just a nice kid and they've know him forever, Branden's a nice kid too and they've known him forever too. Noah swimming here... is very important to this swim school...he's just THAT good and for his age group, he's freaking amazing. Which is why this swim school wants him to swim for them when they go against other schools and whatnot. And why our elementary school can't wait for Noah to become a 4th grader and rep for our elementary school too. 

Branden passing out everyone a board for his lane. By the way...the kid in the black cap in the lane behind Branden's lane...that's S...he went to yochien with Branden. He's the leader of that lane, he's a good swimmer, not as good or as fast as Bran, but he is good though. : ) He's a real nice kid though and his mom is very nice too. : ) 

See the paper taped to the board near the coach. These kids don't need swim lessons anymore, because they frankly already know everything needed to know about swimming... hence the trophy and level 1. : ) But this is competitive swimming...which is totally and completely different...a coach watches over you yes... but you have a bunch of stuff to do whatever is taped on that board for that day...swim 50 meters of the butterfly, swim 100 meters of this or 50 meters of that. Or you have a set time to swim it in. This is what Branden and Noah do twice a week...competitive swimming. It's very very intense...your lungs and heart definitely get a workout. Hahaha. They're not just splish splashing around a pool, no sirree Bob! If your times are fast enough...yes they will ask you to compete...which is what happened with Noah. And actually both Branden and Noah were invited and asked to swim and represent for their swim club this summer but the date...is where we will be in California. But yep...competitive swimming course is what they're both doing. : )  It's good for them... because they love it...it keeps them active and fit. They have both been invited to be in the sports course but we haven't done that yet...because that's a 6 day a week commitment. And we do like to travel and have free time too though. 
Two brothers crossing paths...for a brief second. Bran and Noah : ) I smiled every time they did this. Anyway...this is what we've been up to around our neck of the woods...since both Branden and Noah have been on summer break. : )