Sunday, December 30, 2007

Operation, anyone remember this game? Man it's fun! Ha ha ha! : )

Look at those happy smiling faces! And, look at that red nose lighting up! Noah obviously is not a very good surgeon at this age, but he sure is having loads of fun though! : )

So, umm what ails you? Are you having a problem with your bread basket? Some butterflies in your stomach, got you all a flutter and feeling out of sorts? You aren't having trouble with some water on the knee, are you? : ) Ha ha ha! If you are, swing around here and we will surely fix you right up! : )

He's not going to give up! Ahh, I admire his "never give up type attitude". Fantastic attitude Noah-chan! Gambatte! You can do it! Ha ha ha! : ) Branden is wincing in delight! : )

Okay Branden, you made the light on the nose go off a few times. A few big buzzing sounds. Noah is now covering his ears whenever it is Branden's turn, ha ha ha! I also have to add, I managed to get the adam's apple out, and the spare ribs out, safe and sound too (yahoo about that). But that darn writer's cramp got me! It buzzed and buzzed, actually scared me a bit at first! : )

Yay!!! Branden you did it honey! You got the rubber band out! An excellent way to spend a Sunday afternoon. With my kids, playing games, I love and grew up with and games they are growing up with and love too! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Stay warm and safe everyone! : )

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday, Christmas stuff all safely put away, tree and all. And New Years stuff is up now! Phew! : ) And cookie baking too! : )

Bright and early this morning, while the kids were still snug in their beds. Noboru and I were outside in the front yard, taking down all the Christmas lights. My hands were as cold as 2 blocks of ice. Even with gloves on them. I got the Christmas wreath from the front door and packed it all away into the attic. Took all the garland down. Held the sides of the ladder so my hubby didn't fall down and kill himself, ha ha ha. And then we were done. I ran to the store while he stayed with the boys, who were still in a deep snooze. I went to a local DIY to buy some New years things. A very small and understated thing for the door. I coulda bought a bigger one, I gather, but nah. This was enough, it was fine. And I bought these 2 small little other things. They were made with real pine needles or whatever they are. But they smelled great. Although living in the country side, it always smells fresh and stuff anyway. But I brought these home. Noboru liked them and I placed them outside. Now all the neighbors can see we are indeed ready for New years! : ) I also spent an hour cleaning the house. In Japan it is custom to clean your house from top to bottom right before the new year. My house is already clean. Floors always mopped and such. However this week sometime, I did reorganized my food pantry. But today, Saturday, I didn't have much end of the year cleaning to do, so I vacuumed my entire downstairs again and entire upstairs again. Swooshed the toilets, for the 3rd time this week. And I Windexed the windows. The back patio windows really needed it, there were many tiny little finer prints all over them, hmmm. I wonder who made those? Ha ha ha. Two guesses? Wink! But I cleaned them really good, the friendly neighbor lady/granny waved to me as she cleaned her house for New years, she was beating and whacking the bejesus out of her futon out in her backyard and I waved to her in return, while I was cleaning my back patio windows, ha ha ha. And then I was done. Not even noon yet and I was done, with the Christmas decorations and tree. And the New years stuff was up. And the New years cleaning was done as well. We lazed around all afternoon.

For the front door! Very small and simple. : )

And two of these! Again really simple and understated! But again, respecting both traditions, both my American culture and the Japanese culture for the hubby and for the kids. So, I am happy we did this for New years! I asked Noboru what he would like to do for New years. Since going back to Osaka was out of the question, since he has to work January 1st. I told him, anyway he wants to celebrate it, we should do it! : ) Does he want to go to the temple? That's fine with me, I've gone once before for new years eve and rung the new year that way once. Whatever he wants to do, whatever he wants to eat. Just say the word. His reply? He doesn't care what he eats. He doesn't want to go the the shrine because, he says it would be too crowded and too cold for the kids. But he said he has to watch his favorite Japanese New year eve shows that have been around since before he was born. I said, sure. So, come New years eve, we will be watching non stop Japanese shows. : )

After lazing around for a few hours on the couch in the living room with the family on Saturday. Around 4:00 pm, after Noah went down for a nap. I asked Branden to come in the kitchen with me and let's bake some chocolate chip pecan cookies. I had bought this package of choco chips when we bought the ham from FBC a while back, I have been hoarding them in my pantry for over a month now, and I have been dying to bake up a batch and now with the Christmas cookies long gone. I figured it was the perfect time to whip these up! Branden agreed! : )

Branden stirred himself silly, meanwhile I chopped up the pecans! : )

Fresh from the oven and cooling a bit before I put them on a plate.

Yum, chocolate chip pecan cookies! Perfect for a nice lazy Saturday! : )

Also we are having yakiniku tonight, from the afternoon, I sliced up the chicken. And marinated it with this bottle of a miso based yakiniku sauce, a bit spicy and so good. I also had the beef marinating in the fridge too. For about 4 hours. After the rice was cooked, and the veggie was steamed. And the huge lettuce leaves were washed and cleaned for wrapping our meats. I started frying up the beef in one plate and the chicken in another.

I guess, I shoulda used a grill, but for lazy nights like these, when I just want it super simple. And I don't wanna soak my grill afterwards for hours or whatever. I just used a frying pan. It was quick and the pan was wiped off since it's non stick and then I tossed it in the dish washer. So it was a very simple dinner. We wrapped beef in lettuce. And wrapped chicken in lettuce with rice inside. And had kimchee on the side or stuffed into the lettuce leaves. It was a good filling dinner. Kids had 2 cookies for dessert each. And I had a cup of hot coffee and a cookie for dessert and Noboru had the same. I showered up first and soaked in the tub, and then Noboru came in with the boys, he washed both the boys and we all talked and had a good laugh while they all got cleaned up. We all put on some fresh jammies and went downstairs. Seems 2007 is winding down. I did all that I was supposed to do. The Christmas decos are down and the tree is down too. The New years cards were all properly sent off in a timely fashion, phew! : ) House is sparkly clean and ready to face the new year as well. Nothing left to do, except enjoy the next couple days. Kick back and relax a bit! Good night! : )

Friday, December 28, 2007

What a relaxing week! : )

With Christmas over, the week has just been really nice and quiet. Nothing major going on. Just plenty of staying home, as usual. But a whole bunch of family time going on at our home this week, even more then usual. Every night since Christmas, our family has been playing 1 game, doesn't matter which one. But we have been all getting into the action of a family game each and every night. Wednesday and Thursday night it was Jenga night. If you have ever played this game before, you'll know how much fun this game is. In this pic, Branden was taking his turn. I went first by the way, ha ha ha. : )

Aha! Now it's Noboru's turn! he has a very steady hand!

Oh my gosh! The jenga is building up taller, it is starting to look a bit wobbly, gee I hope it won't fall down.

Noah was the card turner. He let's everyone know which color piece to pull out. I just had my turn and I am so glad it did not fall apart on me. Phew! : )

Oh man!!!!! It fell down on Branden. : ) We played between 2 - 3 games of this all week long. And then we got into our nightly TV programs, with popcorn or the last of the Christmas cookies.

This whole week with the new TV has been wonderful. The picture is so clear. The colors are so vibrant. We are just really really happy about it. What else is there to say about this week? On Friday, I went to the store, to do a big grocery shopping trip. Well because I usually do most of my weekly shopping in one fell swoop anyway. 99% of it at least and I can always get fresh veg or more bread during the week. But the major parts are done once a week. Plus New years is coming and the stores around where I live are usually closed from December 31st around 9:00 pm or so and won't open for the first 4 days of the new year. Same as in the olden days in Japan. If I lived in Tokyo or in Osaka, the stores would probably not be closed but here in the super country side, it's still pretty much like in the olden days. So, if I want food, I better buy in advance. I got got 2 full carts full of food today. Tons of meats. Shrimp, pork roast, about 6 KG of chicken breast. Ground beef. 8 (2 liters) of drinks. Tons of veggies, fruits, mikans, apples. Snacks, like senbei's, chips, Bugle type corn snacks. Just everything. I will also run back to the store on December 31st and get some fresh bakery bread and some more drinks and more fruit to last us through the days the stores will be closed around here. And yes, I could drive to the next city over and find an open store, but, heck, I will just stock up and save myself driving the first 4 days of the new year. What's planned for this weekend? Just staying home, hanging with the family, same ol' same ol' Stay safe and well, everyone! : )
Side note: Thursday, I spent the entire day in my PJ's. Yup, I didn't even change my clothes into 1:30 pm or so. I've just been a lazy bum all week long. Bless you, Christmas vacation! He he! : ) I have been sleeping in until around 10:00 to 10:30 am every morning and I have been going to bed around, 1:00 am to even as late as 3:00 am. I'm just going to enjoy my winter break as much as I can. : )

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Our family's big Christmas present this year. The new flat screen TV! : )

Our 42 inch TV arrived the day after Christmas, now that really was fast shipping! And the money we saved on it, amazing! It's bigger then Noah! Ha ha ha! : )

The boys watching some TV after their nightly bath. Wearing their PJ's. Branden watched Spongebob on it earlier and said, Spongebob was so much bigger now, ha ha ha. : )

Now they were watching the fantastic Four. Anyone remember that show? I never watched it, I just watched girlie shows when I was little, like Strawberry Shortcake and stuff. Or the Smurf's, ha ha ha. So it's interesting to watch them both like and watch the Fantastic Four. : )

See, my 2 tulips in the background? Well, all the plants and flowers that I had on the TV stand before, are all displaced now, grrr. I have to find new spots for all those plants and such now. A happy grumble, grumble, ha ha ha. And if you are wondering what the thing is way on top on the upper wall above the tulips, that is my central heating duct for the genkan area above the tulips, it's near the ceiling but on the wall on top there. Those are in every room of the house. Bathrooms, closets, bedrooms, living room, kitchen and dining room just every nuke and cranny of the house has a heating duct and many rooms have more then one. A true blessing to have central heating. Especially since our area of Japan gets so cold, no snow but so cold it could snow.

It sure is flat. : )

The boys watched one more cartoon and then they fell asleep. I can see Branden was getting a bit sleepy in this picture. Time for mommy to throw a fuzzy blankie on them.

Noah started to get a bit tired by now, too. : )

And then after the boys fell asleep, it was time for me and my slice of pumpkin pie and cup of caramel machiatto, to get curled up with a fuzzy blanket on my couch and watch some Dexter. A slightly blurry pic by me, sorry. : )They are repeating the first season again here on the Fox Crime channel in Japan. (spoiler warning ahead :) I've seen the whole first season already and that whole Rudy, Deb's boyfriend, was the ice truck killer and also Dexter's secret brother really was a shocker for me. The last episode especially for the last season. Wow! Dexter is such a fantastic show, so well written! I love it! I hope everyone is doing great and enjoying their winter break as much as we are. : )

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas morning! : )

The four of us went to sleep by 10:00 pm Christmas eve. And when we were certain the kids were really dead asleep and not fake type sleeping. We got up after midnight and we crept down the stairs. Noboru snuck outside to the garage and got out the boys Christmas bikes. And then we placed them exactly like they are in this picture. We placed them one bike on each side. Noboru ate the cookies, drank up the milk and then we went back to sleep. Around 7:30 am, we heard shouts that Santa had been to our house. "Santa was here, Santa was here!!!" "he was?" I replied. Yes yes yes, Branden said. We all walked downstairs. Oh my god!!! Yes he really was here! Wow, look at those bikes! I started the coffee. And then we all opened the blinds since it was morning. And we all started unwrapping presents, while I video taped the entire thing. Sorry no pictures of the unwrapping of the presents this year you gus. I was a bit too busy with the video camera. Ha ha ha. The boys got so much and so many things for Christmas. Branden got a Tommy Hilfiger yellow coat in size 7 for next year. He also got a yellow North Face coat from my other auntie in size 7 as well, clearly they know our color of choice here, ha ha ha. Figures my family from Colorado thought, "winter coat" ha ha ha. We loved both the coats. Both are gorgeous and Branden will wear them next year, thanks auntie's and uncles. Both the boys got so many clothes, DVD's, toys, tons of toys actually. Noah got a really nice Thomas train set this year. Anpanman blocks, like legos but bigger for little kids. Gift cards. They did pretty good this year! Ha ha ha. Not too shabby at all. Noboru got quite a few pressies as well. As did I. I got many from my family, my parents and hubby. Could be just me but, there's just something really magical about Christmas morning. Also, I know the boys, Branden and Noah will someday grow up and be teenagers and Christmas may not be as special as it is right now. So, as long as they are little kids, we wanna really enjoy it as much as we can. We all sat with wrapping paper scattered on the living room floor for a little bit. Different colors and patterns. And enjoyed our morning cups of coffee, while the kids were playing with their toys. Also Branden got a full set of Ultraman dolls, about 20 all together, boy was he shocked. He was hoping for just 1 Ultraman and ended up with a full set. So, while they sat in utter glee, we sat sipping our coffees, thinking how extremely cool this Christmas morning was! Then after the coffee was drank, I quickly got all the paper picked up and thrown into the trash. And the bows, I saved in a bag (my god I am a cheapskate). Swept up and the boys ran upstairs, brushed their teeth and they grabbed whatever clothes they could grab and they went outside in the backyard to ride their bikes from Santa first thing in the AM. Noboru watched and made sure no accidents were had. Meanwhile I started in on breakfast.

Branden really needed the bigger sized bike and the bigger sized helmet. I am really happy he has it now. Noah, of course inherited Branden's old Thomas the tank engine helmet. : )

Checking out all his gears! Ha ha ha.: )

After riding in the backyard. They came inside and we had omelets, crispy bacon, pan fried potatoes, toast and chocolate milk for the kids and coffee for Noboru and I. And as quickly as they inhaled breakfast, Noboru and the boys went our front and rode bikes for about an hour. Maybe even for an hour and a half. Interestingly enough, the neighbor boy across the street, came outside and said he wanted to look at Noah's bike/trike. He said it looked really interesting. Ha ha ha. I think the neighbor boy is in about 3rd grade. Noboru talked with him for a while and then the neighbor boy went back in the house. Noboru stayed with our boys the entire time and then they all came back into the house. How is Noah's trike? It's amazing and it's so cool! He cruises all over with this. It's so easy for him. Good to find a trike with an actual bicycle chain. Still find it so cool they invented this and was really worth the extra price.

And there Noah went, cruising down the street all by himself. No need for a push from us at all.

Here is Noah, stopped to wait for Branden, because B was talking to Noboru about something.

There Branden goes, he loves his new bike. Which obviously makes Noboru and I both really happy. Phew! : )

There he goes, he's cruising now! Ha ha ha! : )

I am not really sharing what any of us got this year for Christmas, sorry. : ) But, I will show what I got from Noboru though. I picked it out myself. So obviously I love them, he he . The ultimate diet, is because you can use them and you won't gain a pound, since it's beauty stuff and not eating stuff. So, it's a pun/play on words called, the ultimate diet. Ha ha ah. But they all smell like cinnamon rolls, yum. And the other lip glosses are Crumb berry pie and it actually does smell exactly like crumb berry pie. Crumble or crust and all. Smells fantastic. And the lemonade one smell exactly like lemonade. The words around the lemon says..."when life gives you lemons, make....and then the pic is of a lemon and it says, lemonade. Ha ha ha. It smells exactly like lemonade too, so good.

Here's what's in the ultimate diet. Cinnamon rolls body wash and cinnamon rolls bodylotion and cinnamon rolls lip gloss. Oh man my lips will be smelling like, either cinnamon rolls or crumb berry pie or lemonade, depending on my mood. Yumm! I loved what Noboru got me for Christmas. And I loved the rest of the presents I got this year too, from the rest of my family. Thanks everyone! I hope all of you reading this had an equally fantastic Christmas. And that you all enjoyed the time with your family and that the holidays were as wonderful and kind to you as they were to us. : )

Christmas dinner! : )

Just our little family of four were invited for Christmas dinner. We wanted to concentrate on our little nuclear family. No drama. And if you recall our Thanksgiving 2006, wow there was a lot of drama on that day, thanks to my mil. Ha ha ha. So, just the four of us. And that was plenty. We all ate in our sweatpants and comfy clothes and it was nice. Nice knowing we had nobody to impress except ourselves. Ha ha ha. Four tables setting? Well, we invited Noah to join us at the big table this year for Christmas, instead of his usual high chair. Ha ha.

Now, the rest of the year, or for the average Sunday dinner, I might just plop my meat on a nice glass dish and keep it rather plain and simple, which is normally just fine. Just meat on a ceramic dish and no dressing up the plate at all. But for Christmas, I had to make my ceramic platter and meats look a bit spiffier, since it's Christmas and all. Not just plain meats plopped on a plate for Christmas dinner, no way. I dressed up the platter with some green lettuce leaves and some bright cherry tomato halves for pretty. And it really made the meat look even more beautiful and yes for holidays such as Christmas, presentation of the foods is sometimes really important. Or at least that's my opinion, he he. I'm a nerd, what can I say! : )

From this side of the table, we have broccoli, mashed potatoes, salad, in my nice wooden Ikea salad bowl. The ham and 2 whole roasted garlic herb chickens that I prepared.

On this side of the table, we have stuffing, and I can see the spiral sliced ham really good from here. And the Costco dinner rolls are always so yummy but the color of the rolls, I find and again in my opinion, looks a bit pail for putting on the table for a Christmas meal, so I like to pop my dinner rolls into the toaster oven to get a bit warm and get a bit of color to them. That way the rolls don't have that anemic look. They look like warm and browned rolls and taste so much better like this.
My serving, what do we have here? Garlic herb roasted chicken, honey roasted ham, mashed potatoes and chicken gravy, stuffing and broccoli and a nice healthy salad, to round things out a bit.

Noboru had been looking forward to this meal all week long. Boy did he enjoy it! Cider were in our wine glasses, ha ha ha.

Branden stuffed himself silly, so did Noah! : )

Wow, what a whole bunch of food on this table. That's not even counting the homemade pumpkin pie or the jello I have chilling in the wine glasses in the fridge! And Noah loved getting to eat at the big table. : )

The flavor of this ham? Honestly, it was fantastic! So good to eat some American ham, we should have tried it years ago, we both loved ham in the states, we just never bothered looking for one in Japan but now we know, we will get this again. And the size of it was great! As you can see by this picture, we had a bunch of leftover ham afterwards. So we have eaten so many ham sandwiches this week! Noboru wants to order this every 2 month's he says. He really loves this ham, so do I.

A nice bright cheery festive dessert, some cherry jello in some wine glasses and some whip cream on top. Yumm! : )

Can you tell, I got the table all cleared off and everything packed in tupperware already? Man, was I fast or what? ha ha ha. Noboru went out to smoke a cigarette after supper. And so, I put the chicken in a tupperware, put the ham in a separate tupperware. Loaded the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, wiped the table down. Put the nice place mats away. Hey I didn't want cherry jello stains on my good place mats, ha ha ha. And I basically got everything put away really quickly, he came back in and was surprised it was already put away already. The hubby was like, "wow!" We all enjoyed our jello's.

Branden enjoyed his jello as much as Noah did. After about an hours rest on the couch watching TV. We managed to finish up our New Years cards. In Japan, it's really important to send your friends and family, New years cards. New years is really important in Japan. Also and especially for women, they clean the house *really* good before the New Year. : )

We made some cards just for Branden, with only his picture on it, so he could send some out, to his some of his good friends this year. Friends from school. And for our family, we sent out a picture of me and the boys when we were in Saipan last February on vacation. We wanted a picture of all four of us originally, but we couldn't find one that was taken within the year of 2007. Many pics of just the boys and I. And also many pics of just Noboru and the boys. I told Noboru to just put his pic and the boys. He said, no, it had to have the wife (me) in it. So, we had no choice but to use one then with just the boys and I. And originally I did not want to send a pic of me wearing my straw sun hat and swim suit and swim suit cover. Ha ha ha. But Noboru said the background was as important as the picture itself. Geeze, is it hard to find a pic for a New year's card or what? Ha ha ha. And so this was the only one that had a quote unquote happy background. My husband really is a stickler about all that stuff, the nerd. Ha ha ha. : ) So, me and the boys on vacation at the tropical resort PIC, is the pic Noboru chose. Originally I wasn't exactly very thrilled about sending a vacation pic out. But, I figured what the heck. I am young still, and while I complain about needing to get in shape, I am not so bad really. I am certainly not obese or anything. So, I really didn't care about sending the pic in the end, I guess. Grumble, grumble. : )

Branden's cards came out really great. We didn't buy any software to make our cards. They all came out glossy and nice, and we used free software Noboru found online. And the picture of the mouse looking thing is supposed to be a rat. Because it is the year of the rat coming up for 2008. Which makes Noboru and I both happy, since that is our zodiac year. So, we imagine we will have a very lucky year this coming year.

After the cards were finished. Boy we made a whole stack of them this year. We all sat and had some pumpkin pie. And then showers, baths and bed for the kids. Meanwhile Noboru ordered our TV and it is coming tomorrow. Wow, talk about fast! It'll be our family Christmas present this year, to ourselves. Ha ha ha : )