Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween everyone! And can you believe, I actually had trick or treaters? Ha ha ha! : )


Geeze with a smile like that, I think it's fair to say, Noah enjoyed helping and watching with the pumpkin! I know Branden did as well!

Branden helped me make the face. We drew it on, together. Then I carved it out! Branden kept saying..."mommy please don't give him a scary face ...don't make him a mean one", hmmm I wanted to make him a scary one with pumpkin teeth to boot. But since a special request was made for "only happy pumpkins" I obliged and we made a *very* happy pumpkin instead! Ha ha ha, oh kids! : )

Here was Branden scooping out all the pumpkin guts and seeds and whatnots. And putting them into the strainer, so I could rinse them and salt them and throw them in the oven.


I have a pretty good function on my camera that allows you to take pics by candle light. I used it the other day but for some reason I did not use it tonight! Why didn't I? I don't know! Anyway...here's the pumpkin with the flickering candle inside but since the flash in on...it really doesn't matter! Whoops, I'm so sorry!

Yes, I'm shaking my head at myself, as I type this! Why Gina...why? LOL! : )

















Here's what he looked like illuminated. he was a really happy pumpkin though! : )

Him with that little smirky smile! And no that wasn't on purpose, that smirk smile was on accident...purely accident, but he still came out great and the fun we had was awesome really!


We toasted some pumpkin seeds!



Okay, so after the boys and I put "Jack the pumpkin head" outside on the porch. We went inside to watch, The Nightmare Before Christmas on the Disney channel. Suddenly the doorbell rings. I looked on our little tv screen thing, for our security camera and could see what appeared to be a tiny little boy standing with a sack! What the??? So I opened the door, and it was Rin, the neighbor boy who's 2 years old wearing a cowboy costume. With his mom and dad. Lucky for me I have halloween candy in my little pumkpin jar and gave him some. Wow, now if that wasn't the weirdest thing to happen to me in Japan. So then after that, Branden and Noah and myself go and sit down. 15 minutes later, my doorbell rings again. Now it's 2 pirate girls. Seriously...I'm kidding you not!!! I opened the door, they shouted "trick or treat" at me. Told me Happy Halloween! Was I in the US, or was I clearly dreaming this or have I just entered the Twilight Zone? I kept expecting to see Rod Serling, give his monologue near my house last night! Ha ha ha! I knew my husband would never believe this, so I actually managed to snap a pic of these trick or treaters this time! All in all, my door bell rang 3 different times last night, all kids...and all wearing costumes! Want some candy? Go knock on the American lady's house down the street on October 31st and she'll certainly give you some candy! ha ha ha! Oh great...I hope this doesn't get around and next year I have a ton of kids knocking at my door! Yikes! Ha ha ha! : )

One of my trick or treaters actually gave *me* 2 apples! Gee, talk about total hospitality here! A treat for a treat! A definite fair trade! Ha ha ha! Only in Japan....only in Japan! It's times like these, that make me love Japan even more! : )

Anyway...we did watch a great Halloween movie and we had ourselves a very nice Halloween, the boys and I. Noboru sadly had to work. Happy Halloween everyone! : )

Monday, October 30, 2006

Our day in Tokyo! : )


So, we headed out to Tokyo bright and early this morning.For some reason the Embassy was so empty. No big giant long lines outside like there has been in the past. Still so much security and people watching and protecting the US Embassy though. People with walkie talkies from blocks away even. And inside the the American services section was pretty empty. Maybe 4 other people there and that was it. Everyone was quiet and off doing their own thing. Our # was 555. Ha ha ha, funny and odd it would be all fives....considering Branden just turned age 5! Ha ha ha! They were working on #552 at the time we stepped in.

We had all our paper work done and we actually downloaded the applications online and filled them online and then printed it with the printer. Looks nicer and no room for the ol' I couldn't read your penmanship type stuff! We had our 2 identical pics. We took our pics at home with my digital camera up against our wall, lol. We had our birth certificate and everything. She said everything looked perfectly in order. We as parents, had to show our own passports as well. We then paid the cashier and came back to show her the receipt. And before you know it, we were done! Phew! It feels awesome to get that done and out of the way! Really takes a load off. And for whatever it's worth. Yes, we gave them the birth certificate but, she just photo copied it and immediately gave it back to us.

After all that. We decided to head to Harajuku. Harajuku has the largest Gap, in all of Japan. So, we went in there and bought a bunch of stuff for the boys. 2 long sleeve tops each. 1 turtle neck for Noah. 1 fleece sweater each. Sweatpants for Branden and a pair of fleece jean overalls for Noah. I think I might have left something out, because I thnk there was something else...hmm. Oh well, I forgot. Anyway, we left and headed to Wendy's. Yup, we were starving. And normal restaurants cost an arm and a leg. And I guess we coulda went to one, but why? Especially when there's a perfectly good *affordable* Wendy's not 500 feet from the Gap.

Branden had the cheeseburger kids set/combo. And Noah had a 100 yen chicken nuggets from their value menu and shared our fries. Noboru had a single burger with cheese combo with fries. And I had a spicy chicken sandwich set/combo with fries.We all had sodas, we must have all been in the mood for them, lol. When we left, us cheapskates all bought 3 frosties, from their value menu for 100 yen each! We piled into the car, and ate frosties on our way back home to the country! Branden gave spoonfuls to Noah while we were driving and I'm glad he shared like that.

We got home at 9:50 pm. Yes, it was one heck of a long day.



I can see Tokyo tower in the far off distance.


Okay you get a gold star, if you can make some sense of this sign! Ha ha ha, just kidding! But seriously....can anyone make heads or tails of this sign? If I had to depend on a sign like this, I'd *never* know where I was going!!! Ha ha ha! : )


Ahhh kiss, smooch kiss, for signs like this though! This sign, I can actually read and make some sense from! Phew! : )


Anybody notice Tommy Lee Jones on the coffee sign on that building back there in this pic? Many many western stars make some great cash buy selling and marketing goods here in Japan! Becks and Posh/Victoria also do the same. So it's not just the Americans doing it, ha ha ha! In their defense, they probably make a very good extra income by doing this. : )

I've seen Brad Piit sell stuff. Meg Ryan. And Liv Tyler, Natalie Portman and Penelope Cruz all sold Lux shampoo as well, lol. : )


This is the largest Gap in all of Japan. It's a 3 story Gap. Kids stuff 120 cm and older are in the basement and babies stuff to 110 is on the far left and adults are on the 1st and 3rd floor. It's truly enormous! See on the building if you can make out the words, Harajuku below the 3 signs on the building. They sell the Gap PJ's here, which is usually sold only in the US and not the other Gaps in Japan, well they sell them at Shinjuku too and Shibuya, I think but I think that's it for Japan and their jammies.. They sell everything the US Gap sells and also the stuff Gap Japan sells that's not available in the US. So at this store you can get both and yes some stuff is sold in both countries, which is my favorite anyway. I rarely ever get to come here. Maybe once a year *if* that! Bummer, so as you can imagine since I rarely if ever get to come here...I made sure to stop and shop for about a good 30 minutes, which isn't so long really.

Our day in Tokyo 2


The Tokyo tower looks a bit small from far away, however...


When you get close to it and see an actual full sized minivan and compare it with the tower is when you realize, hmmm this really is quite big afterall!!! Ha ha ha. And yes, I've seen pics of this and have been up here many times, I've just never had a chance to show pics of it before. And it really is bigger then most people might think. Sorta reminds me of an orange Eiffel tower, ha ha ha! But I imagine the Eiffel tower is much bigger though. : )


It was a really nice day! the weather was fall like but it was still pretty good.


The Ginza!






















This was our view after we ate and when we were on our way home! So many lights, so gorgeous! But just the same, this country mouse was ready to go back home! : )



We had a really yummy dinner at Wendy's! And headed home. Feeling really great about getting Branden's passport stuff done and out of the way! : )


Sunday, October 29, 2006

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged, thanks Corri-chan~!

I am thinking about: What I should make for dinner tonight.

I said: "Hello"on the phone this morning when I answered it...whoops, I think that really startles Japanese people on the other end of the line.....I would have answered "moshi moshi" but I thought it was my dad! : )

I want to: Take myself a nice relaxing hot bath tonight after the boys fall asleep.

I wish: I could speak better Japanese then I do now

I regret: I don't have any regrets really that I can think of

I hear: Mickey Mouse on TV right now, hmm my kids must be watching it!

I am: such a dork!

I dance: All the time, in the kitchen...in the car, in the rain ala Gene Kelly, just everywhere! Ha ha ha! I can do the cabbage patch,, the whomp, the running man, I still remember the smurf! The YMCA, and even the electric slide, and yes, I certainly can, "drop it like it's hot" as well! Ha ha ha...oh my! How embaressing! : )

I sing: Horribly! Horrible I tell you! Simon would kick me off American Idol for sure! Ha ha ha, but I still love singing!

I cry: at the airport when having to say good-bye to my family!

I am not: Japanese and I will never be one, no matter how long I live here. And regardless if my husband is one. I accept myself for all the strengths and weaknesses I have. The blundering American, who quite often sticks her foot in her mouth! I just accept me for being me basically, and I'm okay with it! If I were to worry about everytime I made a faux pas in Japan, I'd have died of a stress related heart attack long ago ha ha ha...so I seriously don't pay it any mind and just roll with it. I'm quite good at saying...gomen nasai~!

I am: hopefully a good mom. I try...I do try! : )

I write: off the top of my head. Thoughts come out and I just start typing away. yes, a few times I have reread what I've typed and thought...did I *seriously* blog that? What was I thinking? Ha ha ha...I wince at myself and shake my head. But I get over it. Some stuff I like and love. And some stuff I think , what in the hell was I thinking? ha ha ha! But I forgive myself...I have to! And then I get over it. That's sorta the good thing about blogs though! They truly highlight the inner nerd in me!

I confuse: too many Japanese words, to name them all! But I confuse, sweet and rain in Japanese all the time. Ame and Amee (sp?) Sorry but they sound so similar. Also, why is there like 1 bazillion ways to count in Japanese? Like futastu for the #2 if it's an inanimate object or whatever? And Futari if you are talking about humans. And don't forget ni, as in ichi ni. My god, why is there so many ways to count in Japanese??? At least in the US, 1 means 1, gosh darn it!!! Way too confusing, if you ask me. And then you got....Kawaii if you are talking about if some kid looks cute...but then kowai (sp?), if you mean they look scary! Shit....you really don't wanna confuse those two! Ha ha ha! And my biggest one is...hana, meaning flower, and hana meaning nose! I think one is stressed at a different part. But come on, I am seriously afraid to tell my neighbor..."wow what gorgeous looking noses, you have growing in your front yard this year!" Ha ha ha! : )

I need: a massage, honey get over here quick! Ha ha ha! : )

I'd like to tag, Helen. So Helen/Stellastarstruck....if you're game, please go for it! If you're too busy, I'll totally understand! : )

Sunday at home! : )



Tonight Noboru cooked dinner for the boys and I. He made sara udon, which is basically just chicken chow mein. It came out so good.

What did we do today? Nothing. We stayed home, lazed around and watched TV all day long. had an early evening dinner around 5:30 pm. And we watched TV the rest of the night as well.

Tomorrow we have something very important to do. See, in the US, adult passports are valid for 10 years, and I just got mine renewed in April 2006, so I'm good for another decade basically, ha ha ha! Noah's is good for 4 more years. However American children's passports are only good for 5 years. And with Branden just turning 5 years old, this means he needs a new one ASAP!!! Technically they give you a bit of grace and his won't expire until January. But it's still best to do it right away. So tomorrow we will be heading to Tokyo and the US Embassy to apply for a new passport for Branden. So anyway...that's Monday's plan.

Good night/ Oyasumi everyone! : )

A quiet Saturday! : )


Saturday we stayed home and day and night. Noboru and the boys slept in. I woke up around 8:25 am and did some blog stuff and I went to lay down again.

The boys played in the front yard together. Then they went out in our backyard and played on their jungle gym for a bit. Ultimately it got a bit chilly around 4:00 pm so they came inside. And I prepared dinner.

I sorta think we were all a bit tired from walking all over Disneyland the previous day. Because we were in no mood to go anywhere at all.

After bath time, we all sat on the couch and watched TV until well after midnight. Of course the kids fell asleep around 10:00 pm. But we were really enjoying the television Saturday night. : )


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Our Friday spent at Tokyo Disneyland! : )

On Friday we had planned to head to Tokyo Disneyland! Noboru had taken the day off work. We pulled Branden from school for the day. The teachers knew we were going there as his birthday present and for Halloween, so we were killing 2 birds with 1 stone by going there. We arrived at the park at 8:30 am, exactly when it opened. Disneyland during Golden week and yes we've been there for that. Is busy sure. But Tokyo Disneyland for the month of October for Halloween is nuts! Most rides were a wait between, 25 minutes to 90 minutes! So it varied. Last year when we went for Halloween we waited in line for the Haunted Mansion ride for over 2 hours long!!! So this time we were smart and hit that ride first thing in the morning! Good thing because it was impossible to ride it later! We rode pretty much everything. From the Go-go gadget coaster to the Pooh Honey Hunt, Haunted Mansion, everything really. We stayed from the beginning to the very end. Many rides we rode twice. Like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I'm glad we went on a weekday versus a weekend.


The decorations were sooo cool! As always, Disneyland during Halloween season is so much fun! : )




Forget "Where's Waldo", do you guys see Noboru in the background smoking a cigarette? This guy loves smoking cigarettes. I hate it. And every smoking section we saw at Disneyland , he made a B-line for and smoked himself to an oblivion! Sheesh that guy! Ha ha ha!Meanwhile the boys and I sat off some place in a smoke-free zone. Ha ha ha! We have 3 popcorn buckets for Disneyland. Though we only brought 2 with us. We filled up the Chip and Dale one and the Buzz-lightyear one with caramel popcorn. And later filled one with normal salt popcorn.



Remember when I picked these up a few weeks back at Kaldi Coffee? Like were dirt cheap like 399 yen each. Knowing full and well how all kids at Disneyland want glowing stuff at Disneyland once it gets dark. They were a total hit! They flickered orange in the pumpkins. Everyone was pointing at these little martian type lights bobbling on the boys heads! Kids were saying they wanted them. One mom standing in line with us, asked which shop sold them in Disneyland. I told her they weren't beind sold at Disneyland. And told her to try Kaldi and they were inexpensive. Which didn't help her much with being at Disneyland, I know.


Even though we don't live in the US and they can't go trick or treating and stuff. At least they got to celebrate Halloween at Disneyland. There were employees walking around in all black and carrying a pumpkin and if you went up to them and said "trick or treat" they would give you some candy (of course they had Disneyland name tags on, lol).

The buffet restaurant was so good. They had all sorts of good things. We went there for dinner. For lunch, the 4 of us, went and had lunch at Toon town and had chicken sandwiches and french fries. We also had a small snack in the middle of the day, 2 small orders of nachos with cheese at the Pecos Bill food stand. Ha ha ha.This pic is of our dessert, we had after dinner at the all you can eat buffet. It was pumpkin pie. It was really good. I had wondered since it had a crust on top as well, could this have been a pumpkin tart or something else? Hmm, but the name tag above it read pumpkin pie. Anyhow it was great! They also had pumpkin mochi. Pumpkin everything you could possibly imagine for dessert it was sorta funny! LOL. But really good! Totally felt like Halloween after all that! : )

This picture should be called "sometimes the Japanese don't think outside the box"...You all know the movie Cars is the newest movie that is out by Disney Pixar, right now. It's popular. It's coming out in video stores in Japan first week of November. Anyway, the main character's name is Lightning Mc Queen (sp?) This is him in the pic with Branden. Anyway, he's wildly popular in the US and Japan. And the line to take a pic with this car was like miles long and wrapped around 1 ride and 1 restaurant at Disneyland! So we didn't want to wait in line at the time, so we checked back again and again a few more times during the day. Finally night had come. The line was still so long. Here's the problem. The Japanese wanted a pic of the Car's eyes showing, just the eyes of the car and the front grill part of the car. In my opinion you can't see too much of the car that way, just the tip of the car iykwim. So while taking a pic of the front would have been nice, there were alternatives. Left side was out because you would have got the other kid in the pic as well as your own kid. However the right side was totally wide open and not even being utilized! Meanwhile I see that. Then I glance at the long line again. See the amazing possible pic opportunity on the right side of the car and suddenly just grab my son, go to the unused right side. And I snapped 3 pics! Got it...over and done! Geeze that was quick! I got a pic of the entire side of the car with the #95 on it and everything. The tires that say...Light-year instead of Good-Year, lol. And we can even see the eyes from the front still. And I didn't have to wait in line at all! After we left, Japanese families who were watching started shuffling their kids to that side as well and took their pics there instead of waiting in the super long 30 minute line! Sometimes it's the foreign mom over here in Japan, that may see things a bit differently, this can actually be to our benefit....we *can* see outside the box! Ha ha ha!

That's about it...oh yeah one more thing. Talk about a rite of passage, Branden is now tall enough to ride Splash Mountain! He rode that twice. Noboru rode it once and I rode it twice, once with Branden and once by myself! : )

We left Disneyland at 10:30 pm probably didn't even get into the car until 11:00 pm. We got home at 12:30 am! So late! Can you believe it? We unloaded the car. Put the boys into their PJ's and got ourselves in our PJ's and went to sleep immediately! I didn't even turn the computer on Friday at all. Which is why I'm typing this out to myself right now, this Saturday morning. Before the boys wake up, ha ha ha! : )

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Branden's birthday dinner and cake! : )

After picking up Branden from school this afternoon. The boys and I headed to swimming class! While at the swimming class. The people running the swim school, asked me if they could use Branden in a new pamphlet the swim school is making. So next week while we are at swim school, the photographer will apparently snap a few pics of him swimming. I really don't mind/care either way. But since they asked and they asked us which day we'd be there to arrange the photographer to show up. It all seems fine and really no big deal really. So, yes, I said sure.After swim school, we ran and picked up the birthday cake. Then I quickly drove home. Put the cake in the fridge. Noboru had arrived home by now and we all headed to our favorite yakiniku restaurant to celebrate Branden's birthday with a delicious dinner! Yay! : )




We ordered so much food. Four sets of rosu, which means lean beef. And 2 orders of slightly fatty beef because Noboru loves eating fatty meat. We also ordered some kalbi/ribs. And Noboru also had some soup with apples in it as well. LOL. The kids had yakiniku and rice and an udon soup each and 2 orders of fries. We ate good, let's put it that way! Ha ha ha! We also had kimchee and cucumber kimchee! : )



We had our own private room and we loved that, especially when you have small kids. It takes the stress off a parent, a lot by not having to worry if they behave perfectly or not. Branden's old enough that he's not really a problem (knock on wood, he out grew all that stuff, lol). But Noah behaved very well tonight. I think it's because he was kept busy with the cooking and whatnot. This private room stuff is why we always come to this particular restaurant when we wanna eat yakiniku. Kid friendly restaurants A+++!!! Ha ha ha. : )

Here is Noboru feeding Noah with his chopsticks.


Branden cooking the yakiniku! He has become quite good at this. Boy oh boy, do kids love cooking at yakiniku restaurants! Ha ha ha! : )


Noah also got into the act. He was a bit deadly with the 2 chopsticks. So we cut him off and just gave him 1 hashi/chopstick instead. Noboru was amazed at how well he did. He was able to turn and flip the meat with 1 hashi. And once he actually managed to speer a piece of beef. And when he tried to get it off his hashi, he accidentally flung the scorching burning hot beef towards Noboru! Good thing Noboru has fantastic reflexes because he did like a sorta Matrix move and twisted his back and bent down, so fast and so quick. It was so hilarious! I hated to laugh. But death by flaming hot beef just sounded too funny for words. Noboru thought it was quite funny. Next thing you know all 4 of us are laughing about the flying hot beef that narrowly missed Noboru! Thank goodness it didn't happen again and it was an accident! Phew! The boys went back to cooking again right after that.



The cake was so beyond excellent! Japanese birthday cakes are a lot different from American birthday cakes. Japanese birthday cakes are mostly just white spongecake with tons of whip cream and strawberries. Sometimes it's great and sometimes I miss American birthday cakes and I could get one from Costco, but I really didn't need one *that* big, this time around. Two years ago we got that one. So, what we do, is we order our cakes from Fujiya. And we order chocolate cake, and order it with white whipped cream. The balance is 100% perfect. Because while they sell chocolate birthday cakes, they can be too chocolaty with the chocolate whipped cream and stuff. A bit of a chocolate overkill, if you ask me. So with the chocolate cake and white whipped cream and we also had some vanilla ice-cream. It was really very close to an American tasting cake! With the chocolate cake and vanilla ice-cream! Very yummy! We will order it just like this, when Noboru's birthday rolls around in January! Hey just because we live in Japan, doesn't mean we can't taste the things or eat some things that are similar to being back home, right? Of course we can! : )


I love this pic! The lighting and warmth and everything. Truly captured the whole feel of this moment! We were all so happy and so full from just eating an amazing dinner and now we were back home. The coffee was just made and waiting for Noboru and I. The juice was in cups waiting for the boys. We were all loudly singing the Happy Birthday song! Noah was clappng loudly!
Five candles were flickering waiting to be blown out! It was just a wonderful way to spend our sons birthday! There you have it...a small family birthday! : )

Happy 5th birthday Branden!!!! : )