Thursday, September 20, 2018

Four movies we've seen recently. Slender Man. Crazy Rich Asians. Searching. And The Nun...

Besides all the "back to school clothes shopping" And school supplies shopping we did. We also did a lot of other fun things after we got back from Japan too. Like going to 4 different movies. I personally absolutely have *always* loved going to the movies, since I was a little girl. And my kids love going to the movies too. The first movie we saw as soon as we got back from Japan was Slender Man. Branden *really* wanted to go see this movie. And so, we went to check it out. 

How was Slender Man? An absolutely horrible grade B movie. Would, I buy the DVD? Absolutely not! Would, I watch it in the airplane, if I were on my way back to Japan? Nope, I'd pick something else to watch. It wasn't scary at all. Like on a scale from 1-10. It was a zero on the scare factor. The story itself? Dumb. However the bright side is, it was a great way for us to spend an afternoon as a family. And another positive least Bran got to see it. Noah and I thought it was absolutely terrible though. And Bran agreed too. 

We went to see Crazy Rich Asians on opening day! I had been waiting all summer for this movie to finally be released!!! I had preordered the tickets the week before. We were ready! 

We had our freshly popped popcorn, large sodas that are free refills. And movie snacks. What did we think of Crazy Rich Asians??? This movie was amazing! This movie is legit hands down, my favorite movie of summer 2018!!! I had been hearing that there hasn't been a movie, with an all Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club, 25 years ago!!! Which I *love* The Joy Luck Club too, by the way and own the DVD. Would, I buy the DVD for Crazy Rich Asians? Of course and I will!!! The story line of Crazy Rich Asians. Is of course all over the internet anyways, unless you're living under a rock. But basically, an Asian American college professor has been in a long term relationship with an Asian guy from Singapore. He has absolutely never talked about his family. She's never met them. She even mentions to her own friends. "Maybe he's from a very poor family and he's embarrassed so that's why he's never mentioned them." It's actually the opposite. Anyways, he ends up needing to go back to Singapore for a wedding that he has to attend and he decides to bring his girlfriend. Turns out he's beyond super mega rich. But of course she fell in love with him.. for him and truly had zero idea he even had 2 nickels to rub together. As she told him, "you use my login information to use my Netflix account!!!" Meaning she thought he couldn't afford his own account. However, once they land in Singapore. His mom hates her, the girlfriend. Says mean little digs to her every chance she can get. Little verbal jabs here and there. Other girls who wish to date him too. Treat her horribly, like go and jack up her hotel room etc. She's basically treated like complete crap!!! This movie made me have all sorts of feels. It made me angry when she was being bullied. It made me laugh so many times during the funny parts. It also made me cry once. At this one scene where his mom tells her on the stairs..."You will *never* be good enough for him!!!" And you can see on her face...watery eyes and she's just so defeated. So freaking defeated. Also that pivotal mahjong scene was killer!!! Amazing! I won't tell you how it ends or anything. But OMG! Best movie ever! A real must see!!! Both my kids absolutely loved Crazy Rich Asians too!!! I am also so happy that in America, Crazy Rich Asians did *so* well at the box office. It crushed all other movies that opened at the same time too. It doesn't matter if you're Asian, married to an Asian or not. I think if you're just a human period! Point blank... with a big sentimental heart. This movie will be for you!!! You will love this movie. This is a story that everyone and anyone can relate to. You will be rooting for "Rachel!!!"  Who was played by Constance Wu. And for what it's worth, Michelle Yeoh who played the mother of her boyfriend, was phenomenal. You will *not* hate her character that she plays, granted you will be frustrated with her behavior yes, but you will also understand where they're both coming from too, both their point of views. They really are amazing actresses the both of them. Oh, I'm sorry, but 1 more thing, I loved the way this movie first started. It was shown in the old days. When the "boyfriend" Was a little boy and it was night time. And he and his mom (Michelle Yeoh) walked into a fancy ritzy hotel in London England. And she was treated horribly. It was racism point blank, because they were Asian. She said, politely "we have a reservation and my name is" And they wouldn't even look or check. Just said, sorry you don't have a reservation here. They told her to go and try a hotel in China Town!!! How rude right? She left the hotel in the pouring rain and called her husband back in Singapore from a phone booth, since this was the... before cellphone era. In a nutshell, her husband was so mad at their racial discrimination, he bought the hotel, right then and there!!! She went back inside the hotel. The owner an old Englishman came down the elevator who was just woken by her husband. Told the manager and staff who just treated her so badly... this is the new owner of the hotel!!! That's how the movie started! It was such a...right on!!! Type of moment! Definitely go see this movie if you haven't already. You will feel for both of the 2 main ladies, I did. There's also another character named Astrid and you will feel for her too. She's married and mega rich but her husband isn't. She loves him but she's embarassed that she's the richer in the marriage, so she hides the things she buys and pays for herself around the house. He's cheating on Astrid. She's so nice. Anyways, enough of me, gushing about this movie. It's a fantastic movie though!!!   

Searching. A cliffhanger. Mystery type movie. Again the main cast are Asian in this one. The actor who played Harold, in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. John Cho. He's a dad and his daughter goes missing. Debra Messing is also in this too. This movie is good. Would I buy the DVD? Nope. Am, I glad I saw it? Yes! The ending? Completely unexpected. And I can always figure movies like this out. Way before the end. But this one really will throw you for a loop. I figured it out about 15 minutes before it ended. But before that? Not a clue. 
The last movie we saw was The Nun. Again we saw this on opening day. And again, I prebought the tickets the week beforehand. Commercials in the U.S. have been running all August for this one. It came out the beginning of September, but by then everyone who's into scary movies went to see it. My kids love scary movies. They have always understood it's a movie, it's for entertainment, it's fake. Duh, so... With drinks and popcorn in hand and snacks in our pockets. We went and enjoyed The Nun. How was The Nun? It was so scary! Like a 10 out of 10 on the scare factor. I usually cover my eyes during the scary parts. But, I didn't for this movie. And I mean, I was scared too many times to count. From beginning to end. Would, I buy the DVD? Yes, I would! Would, I watch this on an airplane back to Japan? Yes, I would. Not a waste of time. Very entertaining. 

A week from now, Noboru will already be here. And he'll be here for a few weeks. I wonder what movies we will go and see while he's here. : )

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Getting ready for their first full year of school in America. School clothes shopping. School supplies etc...

The day after we arrived from Japan, at the end of July, I went online to the Jansport website and I had the boys decide which size, which style, which color of Jansport backpack they wanted. They each picked navy blue, but Branden picked a larger size than Noah picked. And that's understandable, he's so much taller, bigger and older than Noah is. I ordered them in the morning. Later that day, since we were jetlagged and ordered before 8am. And later that day, I had received an email, saying they had been shipped from their factory in California and would be arriving within 2 days. Free shipping. And they arrived perfectly. Nicely packed. And Bran's went into his closet in his room and Noah's went in his closet in his room. So backpacks for the new school year were no longer an issue. Also wanted to point out, I saw Jansport backpacks all over town all August and September. And they were about $7-10 bucks higher in price at Kohl's and elsewhere than what you could buy directly from the actual Jansport website. Just FYI, for you in the states. 

They each have a laptop pouch built in.... in each of these backpacks, which is perfect for American kids, like mine because now days every school in the US has kids use Chromebooks for much of their homework assignments.So kids bring their laptops back and forth from school to home, back and forth.
School supply list. In America, each grade for each particular school, provides a school supply list. Things your child will be needing for class. And remember 3 ring binders? Now they call them D ring binders. Good thing my kids started last April, because they both told me, all the kids at both their school "prefer" the Avery brand D ring binders... over other brands, because they're super gentle to open and close with just the lightest touch of the button. Since, I clearly came from the Trapper Keeper era. This fact was helpful for me. So, when we went to Target and also Walmart to get school supplies. We made sure to pick the Avery binder at Target immediately. 98% of their school supplies came from Target. Composition notebooks. Or as my kids call them..."comp books." These are required in almost *every* single class now days? Noah wanted a pencil pouch, and his school supply list says he needs one. Branden did not want one. He wanted to use his one from Mujirushi. @_@ Which is fine. I offered him a new one, he said no thanks. : ) Also, I made another mistake last April, I bought my kids Mead paper/cardboard but definitely paper-based type folders. You know, in the old days we used to call them, peechee folders? Well, Branden said, the paper ones...cardboard type ones are bogus. And they tear easily. So I made sure, to buy them plastic folders for like 59 cents instead. Again, I am learning this stuff all over again. As a mom, not a student. And in a new era. : )

Stuff on the left is Branden's. Stuff on the right is Noah's.

Loose leaf paper was $1.79 at Target in Augus,t but like 69 cents a pack at Walmart. I bought 6 packs of college width loose leaf paper at Walmart. Both of the kids got a calculator. Not sure where the pic of Bran's calculator is. His is for harder math though. Same price as Noah's, but more technical than what Noah needs for middle school. By August 5th, I was 100% done with their school supplies. 

I also did go and buy a few extra comp books for the boys. And OMG, am I glad I did. Branden ended up needing an extra one and said, "mom can you take me to Target later tonight, I need another comp book?" I walked to my closet and grabbed a navy blue one of these and handed it to him. I told both my kids, I bought extra loose leaf paper and comp books and spiral notebooks too. If you both need anything, more than likely I have it. I also bought Noah this mirror and magnet holder for his locker, he says he keeps spare pencils in there. High school kids don't use their lockers here??? They can have one, but none use them? @_@ But middle schoolers do. 

As soon as they both got their school schedules. I set up Branden's and Noah's D ring binders. Wrote the little name subject for each class. Bran was impressed after his first day of school. He said, "wow, you really were raised in you set up my binder, is the same way, everyone set theirs up too." I said.."duh, no kidding" LOL. : ) In Japan, I would ask for help from my senpai mom friends. Until I didn't need help anymore. But here...I naturally know this stuff. And honestly? It's kinda easy...and sorta cool. 
Living in Japan for 16 years. It was wonderful. And we sorta just buy clothes throughout the year. On a need it..basis. If you outgrow something, go and get another one. And sure, being American...I did stock up according to the season, in Winter and Summer. And we do that here too. But the "back to school shopping" in America is huge. And I guess, I sort of forgot how exactly huge it is... until we moved here. From the end of July, every time we'd go to Walmart or Target or the shopping mall. There were posters or signs that read "back to school savings" Sort of mentally revving up the nation... if you're a parent. Seeing the signs you start to think...Everyone is preparing. I guess I better prepare my kids too. Plus again, I do have memories of myself getting prepared as a teen too. So, backpack check! School supplies check! New underwear check. And all August underwear was on sale in packs. A gentle reminder for us parents to stock up. Okay both kids new underwear done. Check! 

Some socks, I bought for them at Target, which is what is pictured here. And another big pack each... we bought at Walmart later. And that Aveda knock-off Suave brand Rosemary Mint shampoo was for me. I love that shampoo. 
Back to school shopping. We hit Kohl's, we hit Marshall's. Ross. The shopping mall. We were so busy in August. With back to school shopping.

We'd go out one day and collect some back to school stuff. And then go out another day and buy some more stuff. 
The shirt on the left is Noah's, we found it at Ross. He saw it, loved it. Size men's small. It was like $4.99 or something. B's shirt was equally cheap in price. But big on style. These Savage shirts we see everywhere! 
Kohl's, these 2 Vans tops are Noah's. 1 short sleeve and one long sleeve. 
Two pair of cargo shorts for Branden. At Kohl's.

Both Levi's brand shorts. 
Plus 2 pair of Levi's jeans for Branden too. That way if it should cool down unexpectedly, he wouldn't freeze to death. He'd have at least 2 pair to fall back on. Branden needs at least 3 more pair of pants, but this is a nice start.

Two Vans shirts for Branden from the actual Vans shop at the mall.

Noah's stuff from the actual Vans shop too. Noah's shirt is a size S in the men's size now. And he's been wanting a pair of checkered Vans forever. And now that he's going to school in America, he can. Plus he got that new pair of Nike's we brought back from Japan too. 

Noah's tops to start with. And second pair of school shoes. Plus remember, he also got shorts and pants in Japan. And the 2 sweatshirts from Gap in Japan too. Noah's not 100% done with school clothes shopping, but he has good stuff to start school with, no doubt!

Bran's stuff. Plus he still has 3 pair of Uniqlo shorts that still fit him. 

Plus the jeans.

We did go back to Marshall's another day too. Marhsall's round 2. And Branden picked these 3 tops. The mountain scene is from the Gap, but bought at Marshall's. And he was thrilled to get another Savage shirt too. This one is a short sleeve. 

Also bought on our return trip to Marhsall's. Round 2. Noah found these 2 Abercrombie tops. Abercrombie is expensive. I know, because I used to wear it in uni myself. And to find these 2 preppy Abercombie tops at Marshall's. Noah was so happy!
I also drove back to the mall another time and bought Branden a new pair of Vans. This makes his 3rd pair right now that he owns and wears. And gets to mix and match with his outfits.
We found another bigger pack of "no show" socks the kind of socks, you would wear with Vans. And bought another pack of undies, because they were 50% off. Again those back to school sales. Totally cray cray. And such a steal at that price. 

Marshall's trip round 3. They had zero long sleeve in B's size. How unbelievable but true. Only ugly stuff in his size that time. However the trip was not a total waste, because they had 2 long sleeves in Noah's size. Ralph Lauren. With the preppy pony and whole shebang. Are the kids 100% done with clothes shopping? Nope not yet. But, they each got a nice big chunk out of the way. And nice cool brand name stylish stuff too. And at great prices.
At Noah's middle school you are asked to donate to the class. A box of tissues and disinfecting wipes. Fact of life is kids sniffle and sneeze throughout the school year. And I know firsthand, that often more than people realize... things like keeping tissue stocked in the classroom is paid for by the teachers themselves. For the kids to use. And so, I have absolutely no problem helping. I was sadly surprised though... when Noah came back and told me...he was the only one who brought it to the class. I reminded Noah..."teachers are human too and they *will* remember which kid brought this type of stuff" Since I do prefer think the best about humanity and people....I will just think positively and hope the other kids brought it on a different day or something. : ) 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Stocking up on goodies from Japan. Our massive Japan haul...

We brought back 3 suitcases filled with things we'd need. You can see the thick fluffy warm fleece type warm winter blankets on the right hand side in this picture. I brought back 2 winter blankets and 1 summer blanket. Cardboard on the left to further protect well packed things.

A bunch of my winter type PJs in the suitcase in the background. That way, I won't have to buy any for myself this winter. 
Food. American food/western type foods will of course be our main thing we eat. Because it's cheaper to get ingredients here. But, I did  have to think "what do I need to bring back food-wise from Japan?" That I know the kids really like. And look forward to eating. Sara Udon (chicken chow mein type base), Subuta, beef stew, cream stew. Karaage. Panko. Mirin. Cooking (easy to melt/dissolve) sugar for when I make niku jaga. And so on.
I brought back Ito En jasmine tea bags. You just pop in a bag or two. Buy a bottle of water here and put it in the fridge, according to the directions on the bag and boom. Done. 

Tonkatsu sauce.

Sesame oil. Chili oil. I didn't want to spend money on a fancy salt shaker here, so I just brought back a cheap 59 yen container (glass bottle) from Japan and that way, I can refill it in the US with salt here from now on.

I knew my kids would miss having my famous ginger karaage. So, I made sure to bring back the tubes of ginger and the karaage liquid. Also one bottle of yakiniku sauce too.

7 spice and a refill, for teriyaki chicken bowls.

Hokkaido cream stew is our family's personal fave cream stew.

Also there are things I needed to get for the house in the US. But, I wanted to buy them as cheaply as possible especially since the quality of items at the Daiso in Japan is such high quality. I picked up steak knives. A pasta strainer and plastic bowl. Some plastic containers with lids. I was thinking about Thanksgiving leftovers. I did buy a set of knives in America. But the quality of knives in the US. Just doesn't compare to the quality of the knives we have in Japan. And for what it's worth. I bought 2 knives from the Daiso 16 years ago and they're such high quality. My husband sharpens them for me 3 times a year. And I have sliced all my meat for undokai obentos. Backyard bbqs. You name it. Those high quality cheapies have lasted me 16 years and are still going strong. Could I buy a more expensive Japanese knive? Of course. But, I feel the ones from the Daiso are just as good. Besides you can't beat a dollar!!! And so, I made sure to buy 2 knives from Daiso and bring them back to America with me. And a sharpening thing too.

Rice cups we all use them in Japan. When I bought that cheapie rice cooker at Walmart. It came with the funkiest rice cup. So, I made sure to bring one from my home in Japan. Besides I have about 5 rice cups at my home in Japan. So one, came to the US with us.

Nylon mesh. Nylon rough scrubby textured shower towels to scrub your body with. I love them. I brought back, 2 for Bran, 2 for Noah and 2 for myself. Again, I had a list of things that I was lacking for our townhouse and I brought that list with me to the Daiso in Japan.

These green and white clips I use for the food in the pantry. I used similar in Japan too. When we moved to the US in April. We had bought chips. And had nothing to close the bag with. Doh! I did check Target and yes they did sell a chip clip. But umm for $2.99 for one very wide clip that barely opens enough to slip the chips in. And 2 smaller sized ones. It was just really crappy quality and the price paid for it. Not crazy about that. I also bought wooden clothes pins? @_@ #1 they break super easy. And were like 2-3 bucks for 1 pack. I told myself...once I go back to Japan, I am buying some basic color clips and will keep them in my food pantry and sure enough. Yep. I bought 2 packs of these. For only 1 dollar each. They don't break easily at all. Which is a relief.

Clothes clips. Most everything gets tossed in our dryer in our laundry room. But, we do have clothes that we don't want tossed in the dryer. Clothes that may shrink and we don't want to risk it. I was using those darn wooden clothes pins since April. I think 8-10 broke... and couldn't be put back together. Again, I told myself. I will be bringing back some good quality cheap clothes clips from the Daiso. And so that's what I did.

Utility scissors and regular scissors. Useful magnets with hooks and suction cups with hooks. All those useful things, you take for granted when you live in Japan.  

Karaage and french fry mesh ladle. 2 wooden utensils for cooking. Chopsticks.

Three different sizes of funnels for just 1 buck! What a price!!!

Useful plus kawaii!!! LOL.

And such pretty and basic simple looking chopsticks too.

Chair socks. I used them in Japan at my house there. Our chairs did not have chair socks in the US since April. And the sound chairs makes without chair socks. @_@ And I wanted some that blended right in with the chairs. And the fact they were just 1 dollar per chair. Definitely worth it. 

Folders. I have a better picture of these down below.

Laundry net...protector for your bras, before you toss them into your washing machine.

Again just 1 dollar. Would cost triple the price here, if not more.

Pony tail holders. I went to Target in May they sold like a bunch of 30 pony tail holders? WTH? I don't need 30. I need maybe 2. At the most. I found this 3 pack. 3 is a realistic amount I can use. But 30? Umm. No. 

Two baskets. One is holding the food pantry clips in the pantry. And one is holding laundry clips and lives in our laundry room.

And even smaller size of plastic containers with lids. I like the quality and the price.
Clothes for Noah. I have always liked buying high quality affordable bottoms. Like shorts or pants. Like at stores like Shimamura or Paseos, that type of store.

Because it was summer. Pants and such items still lingering from Spring were deeply discounted. Also important to note. Noah wears men's size clothes now. Aww, he's stretching out. : ) To find high quality jeans for 2000 yen which was about $17-$18 American dollars. Such a great deal. 

So 2 pair of jeans for Noah!!! Was super happy to have found such savings.

Super cute jeans. Very basic. But with the stretchy waist. And the price was perfect.

And a basic olive green pair. Same price. That way, if it should get super cold all of a sudden. At least Noah has 3 pair of pants that he can pull out and wear. I did wash them. And clipped them around the house upstairs to dry. Because I didn't want any shrinkage on these pants. And now they're tucked inside Noah's closet drawers. 3 pants is a good start for colder Fall weather. We bought these in mid June by the way. : )

Again, I love affordable bottoms. And of course, I make sure to pair it with a cute top. Next was shorts. 900 yen shorts. About US $7 dollars. 

This particular pair. Noboru and I loved. When Noah tried them on, we were all like..."please pick this pair" : )

700 yen for  another pair of shorts.

A good basic pair of cargo shorts in olive.

Identical pair of cargo shorts, but in navy. Again just 700 yen which was about $5 US. Noah has been wearing this navy pair with a gray Abercrombie shirt he has with navy blue writing on the front that says Abercrombie and Fitch. So affordable shorts or pants and super cute top to match. 

980 yen for these...

These shorts.
We did hit the Gap at the mall in Inzai on a school day, while all kids were at school. Which meant the store was dead quiet which was nice for Noah to try on some tops. 

Again, I was thinking Fall. And yes it was beginning July and melting hot in Japan... when I purchased these. They were also on sale too. These can go with Noah's cute jeans, this Fall. 

And the T-shirt too. 

I needed a new bottle of foundation for myself. Koh Gen Do.

When I prepare raw meats. I often take my wedding ring off. I wanted something beautiful to put my ring in. The Daiso has such high quality things like this. And I purchased this just for a dollar. And I love this. : )

Face moisturizers (nyueki). Since I will not be going back to Japan until next summer. I made sure to grab 3 bottles. 

Sunscreen. I use the Shiseido Anessa on my face daily. The 2 on the left are for my arms and legs.

Japanese ear cleaners. We love them. And hair clips for when I am cooking.

Keshosui. Toner.

Vitamin C. I ordered this from and had it shipped from Korea. I have used pure vitamin C for ages. If I ever feel a blemish, I put it on and by the next morning, it's gone. It's also great for anti-aging too.

Face wash. packed nicely inside a box. 

I love the Biore foaming face wash for combination skin. They have a gentler one and also a harsher one for acne or pimply skin. But, I have pretty clear skin always. I do get oilier in the summer. Don't we all? And drier in the winter. But, this is perfect for me all year round. It doesn't over strip your skin. It smells *amazing*. So light and clean. And it was only 178 yen a tube. About $1.30 US each tube. I saw face washes at Target for $6-15 US. I feel better about buying my fave face wash for tons cheaper. 

Branden uses this clay face wash. 

A ziplock of stuff we used in Japan this summer. I didn't want it to go to waste and just sit there for a year, so brought it back here. Which makes more sense.

The Biore cleansing oil is my favorite cleaning oil. I have tried them all and this one is my fave. The Dove face wash, I used in Japan over the summer. It was great for my combo skin this past summer *but*...I hate the way it smells! Like moldy grass. I'm sorry. But it's true. Bran used another green clay face foam. Noah uses the Biore for drier skin, far right. And the skin peeling tube all of us use that. And the toner we 3... use in America when it's hot. The one by Neutrogena. It smells fantastic and the bottles so cute. And it really degreases your face. If it's hot summer and your face looks like a grease ball.

One of my favorite things about Japan. This cooling liquid you roll on your bug bite. If you get bit by a mosquito or something. It's just peace of mind to have a small one of these here.

Self heating eye masks that smell so good and relaxing. These are fantastic. The box on the right, I bought from a regular store and the giant box on the left came from Costco Japan for super cheap.

Nike sneakers in an American men's size 9. 27 cm for Japan. Did, he stretch out or what? These were for Noah. A new pair of school shoes. 

Like a navy jean sorta color. They're super cute. 

A shoe net for washing sneakers in the washing machine.

Items, I didn't buy... but that I brought from my Japan home to my American home. My frying pan, this is the highest rated frying pan on Made in Japan. Shaped so it won't cause splatter outside of the pan. We love this pan. So, I can make karaage or chicken cutlet. And a metal pan with drip tray for laying down fresh baked cookies or karaage.  And the pan, I always make enchiladas or bake cakes in or lasagna. These 3 things, I brought with me and next summer when we go back to Japan for the summer, these will go back to Japan next summer too. 

Zippered file folders. One big orange one, I keep all my receipts in regarding the house here. Paid utilities. Carbon copy of my rent check I mail out. The other big orange one contains all the kids school important papers. The green big zippered file holds the boys medical insurance, vaccination records and mine too. When the boys go and get doctor check ups, I take the littlest orange zip folder and just place medical cards and my tiny notebook of questions I'd like to ask the doctor. With a pen for taking down notes. Thank god for American doctors that encourage you to ask lots of questions. : )

A peeling foot mask thing. 2 gel eyeliners. 1 lipstick. And 1 cream blush.

Having 2 means I can use both and decide for myself which one I prefer. 

This color 06 by Opera is amazing. I'm so glad I brought this back.

School supplies for Branden and Noah.

Two magazines for me. That's it basically. Not fancy luxurious items, that's not our style anyways...but instead extremely useful items that the kids and I will need. : )