Friday, November 30, 2007

The school bazaar! : )

If you recall, I was asked to bake some cupcakes for the school bazaar. They asked because they know I bake and they've been to a few of my parties at my home, where I made the cupcakes. Like the Easter party last year, remember? I said sure. One good thing about me is that I will always jump right in and help, whenever I am asked. Also, I always want my son to be proud of me. I would be embarrassed for my son, if they said or thought, "geeze everybody's mom helped out or did their share for the bazaar but Branden-kun's mom didn't help." He'd be embarrassed, I'd be embarrassed and I'd *never* do that, so I will always help with the school like this and so does Noboru. Also, I want to bake something my son would be proud about. That he'd say, "wow mommy, you made something really cool" or "gosh mommy everyone liked what you brought", so long story short, yes I love to help for various different reasons. So first thing Friday morning as soon as I got the obento made and Branden sent to the bus stop. I raced back home. Preheated my oven. And got cracking on those cupcakes. I didn't procrastinate, I wanted them fresh, that's why I made them first thing this morning.

Good thing, I bought the bags and plates, etc, the week before. Also my girlfriend, Noriko-san reminded me to make sure they were pretty and packaged nicely too. She said, "mom's wanna buy pretty stuff." And I agree with her, she's right. And I kept that in mind a whole lot. : )

Here's a close up picture of the cupcakes I made. Obviously I made more then 3 packs. However this just shows a bit more detail. I put 4 cupcakes per pack. They were yellow cake, for the cupcakes. And the frosting was a delicious cream cheese based frosting, so not all overly sickly type sweet. I decorated 2 with the silver ball sprinkles, the ones that look like pearls, if you remember I made Noboru these same type of cupcakes with the silver balls last Valentine's day. And the other 2 cupcakes, I put on pastel little colorful candy pieces on them. I placed them in a nice sized clear bag. Tied a pink and red ribbon on them, because I knew I was making pink cupcakes, hence the pink based ribbon. And I even added a bow on each of them. They came out really really cute, if I don't say so myself. : )

I got a lose recommendation to bring 20 cupcakes, however I brought 24 to be safe. So 6 little beautifully wrapped packages of cream cheese frosted cupcakes. Meanwhile I ran upstairs, jumped in the shower, threw on my face, put my hair in hot rollers. Slapped on a pair of jeans and a black sweater and threw some clothes on Noah and before you know it, I was driving down the street with Noah and the cupcakes. I was on a roll now. The Go-go's, "we got the beat' playing in the car while I drove. Quickly parked the car. I was ahead of time, for once. Bazaar started from 1:00 pm -2:00 pm. Yet I arrived at 12:30 pm. Which gave the PTA ladies upstairs time, to decide a price and get them ready for sale. Noboru would be getting there by motorcycle later to stop by to have a look.

So many baked goods for sale! I really liked the fact they sold a lot of baked goods at this school bazaar. In the US, at my Catholic school that I went to, we also sold baked goods to increase donations for the school. Homemade baked goods are always yummy! : ) When I walked in, the other mom's ohh'ed and ahh'ed at my cupcakes. They really genuinely liked them a whole bunch! It made me happy they approved! Phew! : ) I was equally impressed by all the things the moms/my friends, had baked. I was shocked actually. I saw, homemade brownies, homemade banana bread, homemade cream pan, seriously, how yummy is that? Homemade everything! Man these mom's can cook! They are fantastic with their baking, they really are! : ) I really love this school! And the mom's are awesome too!

The principal, she bakes the best cookies. Branden actually asked me to buy some of her cookies this morning. Which of course I did. Some of the baked goods were priced from 50 yen, then 100 yen and then a few were priced 200 yen. It varied in price. They also sold handmade sewing stuff, like yochien bags and obento sets. Old uniforms that kids outgrew, which I thought that was a smart idea!

I had wanted/wished to buy 1 of each kind of the baked goods. However there was just too many. I did however try to buy as many as I could. Everything just looked so delicious. Plus the money goes for a good cause. It goes to our Catholic school. And, with Noah entering this school next October, after undokai is over with, so this school is going to be a part of our lives for the next 3 years. So, I have absolutely no problem buying baked goods, especially if it helps out my 2 son's school at all.

They put my cupcakes in the 200 yen section. Man was I embarrassed, actually 100 yen woulda been fine with me. But since they are the ones who decided the prices and not me, I didn't mind, I guess. If you check this pic, there are no longer 6 bags of my cupcakes. Some are missing in this picture, right? And yet the bazaar didn't even open yet. Two of the mom's selling the goods at the baked good section bought some before the bazaar opened, ha ha ha. Made me smile and happy, someone picked them up even before the sale. : ) The bazaar opened at 1:00 pm. By the time it opened, there were only 4 packs of the cupcakes I made left. And, I can safely and honestly tell you, my cupcakes were completely gone/sold out by 1:13 pm. I swear to you, my cupcakes didn't even last the 13 minutes after opening. I knew Branden would be very proud of his ol' mom, when I told him, the cupcakes sold so quickly. Noboru was there at the bazaar and he told me, "hey honey your cupcakes are all gone, way to go honey", I told him..."ohh stop" and smiled. But he was proud. My husband is such a dork, ha ha ha! Meanwhile I had to hurry, because all of my friends stuff were selling so quickly too. I knew if I had any hope of buying any of their yummy stuff, I better hurry. So, I bought Kaya-san's banana bread right away. Her stuff sold out *really* quickly too. I bought some cookies that the Principal baked. And my friend Noriko'-san's brownies, her brownies just looked so yummy! And I cannot resist brownies! I bought a few things, quickly. Again I wished I could have bought more. Meanwhile Noboru wanted me to buy instant curry. He said he wants to eat them for a late night snack. : )

A lot of the mom's brought so many good things to donate to the bazaar. This little section or area was of house ware stuff or misc. stuff. I found that crazy/fun toy watch for B in this section.

I really liked this vegetable corner and food corner for some reason. Didn't buy any veggies, but I did appreciate that they sold them. The curry packs in the background are what the hubby bought.
Here are the baked goods, we bought. Well, my husband also bought a whole bunch of baked goods himself, but he took those to work, to have with some coffee when he's at work. But this is what I bought for the boys and I, to munch on Friday evening after dinner! What do we have here? Homemade brownies, Homemade banana bread, homemade cheese cake. Two packs of homemade cookies that the principal baked. And 1 bag of homemade Disney cookies, there was 1 Mickey cookie, one Minnie cookie, one Marie cookie and one other, but I forgot what character it was. The boys and I shared everything. We each had bites of everything. We had a few things after dinner. And then a few hours later, we had the rest and boy were all of these things delicious! A really good dessert that went perfectly with my coffee. All these woman are all such fantastic wonderful cooks and their baking was phenomenal! I can't wait until next year, to buy more of their baked goods and hopefully I will be asked to bake some cupcakes for next year's bazaar as well! I'd love to bake some and help out! : )

The instant curries the hubby wanted. And this crazy watch, we bought for Branden. Branden actually really likes it and he's been playing with it all weekend! Anyway, that's how the bazaar went at our school! And that's what we were up to on Friday in our little corner of Chiba! Have a wonderful weekend everyone! : )

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Some obento pics from this week! : )

If you remember last year I really didn't like switching to the metal winter obento from the plastic summer and spring obento. It took a lot of getting used to from me, ha ha ha. Flash forward a year later to now and I actually really love using the winter obento now. Funny how a year can change things, can't it? : ) I like it because it really changes the type of meal/lunch I can send with B each day. He can actually have a warm meal versus a sandwich and whatnot (not that a sandwich is bad thing, heck no, it just adds more variety if you know what I mean : ). And meals actually stay warm. Branden said to me that he actually burned his hand a bit, while opening his metal obento the other day, ha ha ha. I said they must keep them nice and warm then. And to be careful. Anyway, what's in this picture? Let's see, a nice beef stew that I made the night before from when I took this pic, on a bed of white rice. A colby jack cheese toasted quesadilla. A diced up apple and a mikan jelly. A very simple lunch. I just warmed up the leftover stew from the night before. So that part was easy and I made the quesadilla that morning real quick. Lunch came back empty! Completely eaten by my little guy! : )

Leftovers again. In the morning, I got out some leftover hamburg, and pan fried them up real quick, that way they were freshly made that morning. I added a bit of cheese to top them off. A few roasted potatoes and green beans from last nights dinner, as well, that I just nuked. A freshly diced up apple and this time, it was a peach jelly. It makes me happy knowing he can have a nice warm lunch like this, especially now that the weather has been so chilly! Once again, the lunch came back completely empty! Man, he's a good eater! He's slim, so I needn't worry, but he does eat good! : )

And final picture I'm showing of the obento's from this week. Although I make Branden's lunch every single day. Ginger pork (again leftovers my biggest and greatest life saver, ha ha ha) and I was going to give him broccoli since that's what we had at dinner, but as we ate them all, I sent him with some steamed green beans. Oh well, as long as he got a veggie in there, it's okay. White rice, a super sweet mikan and that day I made it a pineapple jelly! : )

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday! : )

On our way to go and pick up Branden from the bus stop this afternoon! : )
Noah has grown so much! I must admit, he's not a babe anymore. He's a toddler on the go! Here he was running in the park area in the area we live this afternoon, as we went to go get B. Maybe now I can give you all a little update on Noah, now that I have a little bit of time. He still is an eating machine, he eats anything. Japanese food, American food, doesn't matter as long as it's food, that's good enough for Noah! Wink! : ) He's still super thin though, however he is tall. And it's not really possible to say how many words he can say, because he is just so fluent, in both Japanese and English that counting his words is impossible, because there's just too many words. He has a huge vocabulary. Strings sentences together easily! Other day, I said something to Branden regarding Noah. Noah turned around and said..."do you mean me?" Ha ha ha! He has no trouble making sentences at all, he's a chatter box. Err, actually sometimes he never stops talking, ha ha ha. The language that the brothers (Noah and B) choose to communicate in when playing together at home is English though. That is their preferred language to speak in, when nobody is around and watching. Sometimes when, I am cooking dinner and they are playing, I hear the funniest things come out of my kids mouths. They are so silly! : )

His 2 favorite songs right now are, Jingle Bell's and the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song, where Alvin says he wants a Hoola Hoop for Christmas, ha ha ha. Both the boys sing those 2 songs a lot these days. Probably because of the Christmas CD's I burned and have been playing, ha ha ha. The other day as I was driving in the car, I kept hearing Noah, singing, "Jingle Bell's jingle bells all away hey!" Granted I think he's a bit off with the words of the song, but he loves that song! The both of them do. : )

Not sure why he wanted to bring his book to the park, he really insisted on bringing this book today, ha ha ha. But it occupied his time while we waited for the school bus to get there! : )

He's just really a good kiddo, not much more to say. Here's a pic right before the bus came! : )

After yochien and all the extra classes and whatnot, we came home. Branden got his comfy clothes on and he did some creative stuff at the table, meanwhile I prepared dinner.In this pic, B was folding origami. Noah was out like a light, he was zonked on the couch! B did origami and he also colored a few pages in his Dora or Spongebob coloring book. Meanwhile we listened to yet some more Christmas Cd's. It also gave us time to talk. I want to know all about my sons day. How was school? Who did you play with today? What did you do in class today? Any funny stories you wanna share with me? He likes to share all his school stories with me and he likes that I am always interested and care. I listen and laugh! I love my son very much, heck I love the both of my sons very much! : ) As you can see, it was starting to get a bit dark, but not quite yet all the way. I quickly got dinner made, so my boys could eat asap! Hubby was at work but would be coming home in just a few hours. I'd save him his plate of dinner though.

Now this pic is of him coloring. Also, because the kids have so many crayons. I use the extra baby wipe boxes and we store the crayons that way. We also have an empty baby wipes box of colored pencils and a baby wipes box of washable markers. : )
Hamburg, good thing I got that really big amount of lean ground beef from Costco and separated and froze them in the freezer. I used some, to make the hamburg tonight. What's cooking? Well, we had, hamburg, roasted potatoes with butter and salt and black pepper. Green beans and some rice with a bit of shoyu splashed on top. And tonkatsu sauce in the little bowl on the left for dipping our hamburg.

It's the little things that count sometimes right? : ) Well, Noboru came home from work but on his way back he brought me the Santa Clause 3 DVD, he knew I wanted to see that. So, since the boys had been showered and Noah was fast asleep. Hmm, Noah must have a heck of an internal clock because he can never stay up past a certain time. Ha ha ha. So as he slept. We let Branden stay up and watch it with us. So, the 3 of us watched the Santa Clause 3. The movie was okay, not as good as the original Santa Clause though, not even as good as the second one though either. But it was still nice we got to see it. And really thoughtful of the hubster to bring it. : )

I even made Branden a nice cup of hot cocoa before the movie started. And yes, that's whipped cream on top, yumm! Not much to say really lately. I've just basically been spending a great deal of time with my family as usual, hanging out with my 2 sons, my husband. Enjoying our happy quiet little family over here in the Japanese country side. Besides the regular ol' cleaning the house, doing the laundry, running Branden between Kumon and Swimming and preparing meals, life's good, heck it's fantastic actually. We've just been enjoying our quiet time as a family. Sounds nerdy I know, sorry! : )

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our Monday flu shot! : )

So Monday morning, we got up like it was a school day. We all had cereal and toast before heading out to the doctors office.Our appointment card said to come in between 9:00-11:00 am. We arrived at 9:04 am. Just 4 minutes after it opened. However, there were about 49 old/elderly people already in front of us. We actually were #50, but about 15 people actually came after us, maybe even more. So a waiting room of about 65 people. It was crowded, good thing the waiting room was actually large enough to fit that many. Noboru and I and the boys were the youngest people in the entire place. I saw many many of the old people walking with canes. A few in wheelchairs. It was just an old people bonanza. So many of them had met their friends there. It seemed almost like a happy get together for seniors, then an office visit for many of the old people. The wait was unbelievably long. We literally sat in the seat and the nurse didn't even give us the thermometer to take our temperatures until 10:30 am! Yes, an hour and a half of sitting later! Around 10:50 am, we were called into the pre check room. He gave us the A-okay to go ahead and get the shot today. He said as soon as the doses got mixed they would be calling us soon. So we again went back into the waiting room.

Now the ball was running because in less then 5 minutes they had called our family into a different room. 2 nurses were in there. When they were ready, they called the woman doctor from wherever she was, she came down and into the room. She gave Noboru his shot first, then me. And I must say, I haven't got a shot in years. And I had only had a flu shot once in my life, when I was about 17 and in Denver. I can say, for certain, no wonder kids cry during their shots! It freaking hurts! I guess, I hadn't remembered that. But, now, I do. When she gave me the shot, the actual needle going in, hurt mildly, but the meds in the actual shot, I could feel it and it burned a bit. Obviously I didn't cry, but yes, no wonder kids cry. It's not a good feeling. Branden went after me, he didn't cry, he just sat quietly and did a good job. And Noah? he screamed his ever loving head off! Ha ha ha!

The doctor had told us that, us adults only need the shot once. And since I read that same information of the US site about the flu shot, I knew she was right. She also told us that kids need to get the flu shot twice (same info, the US site said, too). And asked us to come back in 3-4 weeks. Poor Branden and Noah, for having to get it again. And poor us for having to end up with another long wait like that! Geeze, I hope it isn't crowded like this, next time. We finally left the doctors office about 11:40 am. We were so happy to be outta there! Oh my gosh! Ha ha ha. We went and had some ramen and gyoza! The picture is of my lunch! I had the tantan-men! I added the garlic, and I crushed the sesame seeds with the pestle and added them to my noodles, I added them all! Oh man this was a good lunch! Really hit the spot after waiting around all day at the doctors office! : )

I ran into the store after and I got these 2 roast beefs. And I fried them in some olive oil and salt and pepper, after I diced up the beef in little cubes. And after they were 100% fried, browned and cooked, I added the water and boiled on a high heat like crazy for a few hours until the meat was fall apart tender. Added veggies and presto, change-o, a nice pot of beef stew, with white rice on the side, and warmed dinner rolls with butter was our dinner Monday night. About the shot, Noboru and both the boys, have had no reaction to the flu shot at all. They seem fine. However, as for me, my arm is sore! : ( I hope my arm soreness goes away in a day or two. Anyway that was what we did on Monday! : )

Sunday, November 25, 2007

We bought Branden's backpack!!! : )

We had planned to go look for backpacks on Monday. However, we ended up making a whole day of it on Sunday, (a whole day early), instead. Now, Noboru had done a huge amount of research, as did I. However we didn't agree, lol. He came to the conclusion that he wanted Branden to get a Miki House backpack (granted maybe a big fancy brand in Japan, but it's certainly not in the US, so I am not exactly impressed or dazzled by this brand, sorry to say, but I'm just not). The hubs liked it because it is expensive, had name brand appeal and blah blah blah! Now, I came to the opposite conclusion. I also did a helluva lot of reseach and I wanted B to get a Rara brand backpack. No fancy shmancy name brand appeal, so what!!! It had quality and that's what I looked for straight away, most important! Remember when the yochien gave us a stack full of backpack catalogs, the past few weeks or so ago? Well, after flipping through each page about a zillion different times, I decided that the brand I preferred was the brand "rara." They just seemed to have better features, bar none. Better quality and whatnot. So hubby and I, went to see the Miki House first. Lucky for us, Miki house backpacks are in Narita. So close! This pic is of Branden trying on the Miki House! I will cut to the chase and tell you, I hated it! Quality seemed like crap, no offense. I wonder what the poor sales girl thought, as Noboru, Branden, Noah and myself were looking at them at Miki House. I was polite and gracious, but if I didn't like it, I said so. But the backpack was such an important item and has to last so many years. That today, I pulled no punches with my wonderful hubby! You can see Noboru's hands looking and touching the backpack in this picture.

Again since this is a huge freaking investment, it had to be held up to an unbelievable high set of standards. So, I looked at that Miki House over with a fine tooth comb. And now remember the Rara had 9 key points that made their backpack superior, lol. And as I flipped through the Miki House, I told Noboru, "Aha, this Miki House does not have feature #8, like the rara's have!!!" LOL, a bit dorky yes, but this was an important purchase! Meaning no light reflectors! The ones on the Miki House were just silver metal, no refelctors at all. Granted I doubt my son would be walking around at night and needing a car to see him, but for that absurd price they should have had them, was my point. But, again, if the Miki House didn't have that feature. Not good. I showed Noboru and said, see? It also was missing a few other key features as well. Also, the material looked flimsy. I told Noboru, look at the material? It looks flimsy and cheaply made. This won't last six years! And then I said, "Are we just buying the little logo on the side or we actually looking for a quality backpack for Branden. And then, I backed off and said....but you tell me what you think sweetie! But I don't think this is good. Noboru was meanwhile silent, but shaking his head when I spoke. And he kept touching and feeling the backpack. And then he turned to me and said. "I think we better go see the other backpacks" I knew right then, Noboru didn't like that backpack either. So, we took off. We saw a few other ones in the mall. Benneton, looked really nice you guys. Puma and the Aeon brand ones are actually really super quality. Really really nice actually! However, I was dead set on that Rara one. Or at least knew we had to take a look. Their main shop (lucky for us) was in Chiba city. A bit far, but not bad. Also, look at the bottom of Branden's sweatshirt here in this pic? Clean right? Well, in the next couple pics, it isn't. He ends up sitting on a smooshed piece of chocolate that was stuck on his car seat! Ugh, what a mess! Ha ha ha! Oh well, it's real life! And sometimes important days like today, your kid can end up sitting on some chocolate! Ha ha ha! Oh man! : )

These are the features, I loved about the rara brand. Granted not a fancy brand like Miki House, but a well known and trusted manufacturer of school backpacks in Japan. The thick padding for your kids shoulder. Plus you get shoulder pad covers too, not that you need them though because the straps are comfy anyway. Also, the shoulder straps are actually ergonomically shaped as the man explained it. Like an hour glass or whatever, the straps do not slip off your child's shoulder at all. The shape of them makes sure the straps will go in the right place and no slippage. The light reflectors. The double stiching. And so on. The back support. Very cushiony. Some are just hard and have no cushion at all. The Miki house did not have the shapely shoulder strap and they were not padded either, they felt, thin and like they would slip down all the time. I really had to be hard and tough when I went choosing the backpack. And I checked each backpack we looked at and saw if they contained all 9 of these things. Most didn't. Some came close though, but no cigar, ha ha ha! : )

I really loved the picture in the rara catalog of the little old Japanese granny sewing the backpacks. They are all hand sewn, and all made to order! Ours isn't even made yet! So it's quality! Really good quality. Some of the cheaper ones at the shopping mall when we were looking at the Miki House one, looked like they came off a huge conveyor belt of mass production. In other words, they looked cheap.
This is the type of backpack we ended up getting for Branden. In the rara catalog there are so many different styles. But this style really hit me. I saw this picture of the two little Japanese kids wearing their normal or street clothes mind you. And they were wearing them, just basic backpacks, but they had just that little bit of flare with the stitching. That really hit me! I loved that one! Basic yes, but still having that little extra special thing with the stitching. I must have stared at this pic a million times, you guys! Ha ha ha! Hey, at least Im being honest! I was head over heels about this backpack.

The color variation was wide. And the one I fell in love with was the black one. Hubby really liked it as well. But then he chose the Miki House first, but since being totally disappointed by the quality of the Miki House, we saw in person, we drove down to rara. And like I told Noboru, Miki House is fine and all, but they are not technically specializing in backpacks either. The quality isn't going to be equal of a company specializing in nothing but backpacks from generations back, know what I mean. If that makes sense at all. Again just our families opinion though.

Also, since most Japanese houses have little storage space. When your child ends elementary school and now starts junior high school. You would want to keep the backpack for your child as a keep sake, right? However since the backpack is large, you can have it shrunk. Made smaller. And down to a size that fits into your hand. See this picture? Ha ha ha! I am guessing they would actually cut it down, to make it that small. Interesting concept, huh? Many companies do this though. The rara company does this as well.
The actual Rara store. Not in part of a mall or anything. It looked closed at first. The website said it was open Sundays. However the sign on the door said, closed Sundays. Did we just drive all that way for nothing? Noboru pushed on the door and sure enough it was open. Phew! It was a little Japanese grandpa and grandma who own the store. The elderly man was *very* nice! Both of them were! I brought my trusty well used rara catalog with me. He saw, I came prepared, with my own worn 2008 catalog. Showed him the picture of what I was looking for, though I could find it myself. He knew by the catalog that we didn't just wander off the street. We planned to go there. We meant business! Ha ha ha! : ) But again, I was going to be, tough when judging this backpack too though, without mercy! Ha ha ha. I ran it through a full look over with a fine tooth comb, yet again too. Ha ha ha! Wink, wink! : )

We had Branden try it on a few times, at least. Poor kid, "on again Branden" "off again Branden" "on again Branden" Ha ha ha!!! I looked through the blasted thing 3 times! Noboru looked through it twice! We also looked at every other backpack in the entire store, until we decided that this was indeed the one!

The side of the backpack also has a side reflector. And yes, some companies that may sell backpacks with them on the back, yet a lot don't have the reflectors on the side. But this one has reflectors on the back and the sides. Safety! And I liked that as a mom, to me that was really important! The stiching on the sides. I loved that preppy diamond shaped stitching. Not just boring on the sides, like the Miki House or most of them are. It had these little details that made it different, that made it special and unique. I loved the quilted stiching on the sides a bunch. It looks like good quality when I see that stitching. My sons backpack may be basic black that is true, but I will be able to find his backpack, right away! : )

See the smashed choco on Branden's back of his sweatshirt? Geeze! And we didn't even give him a dot of chocolate today. And they rarely eat sweets, and especially not in the car. We have been stumped over the chocolate. But as I wiped the bit of smooshed chocolate off the seat belt, it is indeed sweet chocolate. Halloween candy, I am guessing, hmm!

The backpacks are so cute. Some are classic looking. Some are so new and cutting edge. And some are basic with stylish stitching to stop them from looking boring. Like these girl backpacks in the picture. The girl backpacks were so gorgeous, I am so glad I don't have a daughter. Only because they were all so cute, how would I ever decide which backpack to choose, if I had a daughter. Ha ha ha. The choice would be hard to make. Also in this picture you can see the double stitching better since the stitching is white. They are indeed all double stitched. Double stitched all over. Even the outter rim of this red backpack, is stitched with red blendable thread and thin stitched with 1 line of white. But indeed they are all double stitched everywhere. Same with Branden's black one, he got today.

This blue striped backpack is the one I really *really* wanted for Branden. But, I worried about him blending in and if he would be asking us for a black backpack a few month's later. Meanwhile, Noboru wouldn't even consider the blue backpack with stripes, he thought it was just weird, sigh. Ha ha ha, I liked it : )

The basic, of basic ones in the pic on the lower shelf. And the ones with a stripe on top. Their whole business is backpacks and they know a whole bunch about them. I felt better buying from an actual backpack manufacturer. They indeed all have warranty's for 6 years. And if anything ever needs to be fixed (highly doubt that), they will give your child a loaner backpack. Now, that's excellent customer service! Ha ha ha! : )

See that enormous backpack, is that Totoro's backpack or what? Ha ha ha! It's actually a visual to show how they will shrink the backpacks after your child finishes with elementary school. See the 2 smaller ones down below? Also, I think as of right now, we won't be shrinking Branden's backpack in 6 years. I think we have enough storage room and we will just keep his actual size, ha ha ha. But nice to know it's an option though! : )

Quality was fantastic. The look, traditional mostly. But with that little smidgen of difference to make it special, like the stitched stars, which our family just loves! Two little circle light reflectors down below. It's all double stitched, just like the girls ones, but with the black stitching you really can't see the double stitching, but it's there! Didn't seem flimsy, not even a bit. Really strong and well made. What's in this picture, is what B's backpack will be looking like once it gets made.

Nice back support and padding for the back. So it's not just like a piece of hard plastic or whatever hurting B's back. So it's comfy. And the shapely shoulder straps and padded straps. They don't slip off or slip down. Also, the stitching on the arm straps. And those little hooks, the 2 metal hoops on the straps below the stars. One is going to have a kid alert device. And if anyone tries to grab our child, as he is walking, all he has to do is pull it and it lets off a blinding screetching earth shattering, attention grabbing noise. It's an alarm. Very poplular in elementary school kids in Japan. So if anyone tries to take our child, the noise is enough to scare the living daylights outta the abductor. And people will come running! However since school kids, all walk together, he should be fine anyway. But we are getting him that device anyway. It's nice that there's a place he can hang it.

This is how the backpack opens and closes. It opens from underneath the backpack. And it's a turning type. We feel so relieved! Because in Japan the 2 big things you have to get outta the way are the backpack and the desk. And just having knocked the backpack off the list. We feel really accomplished about it now! Yay, we are getting ready you guys! And what does Branden think of his backpack? He loves it! As do we! We placed our order! And, since we ordered early enough, we got a choice of getting it delievered on January 25th, Feb25th or March 25th. Now, being early birds, we went with the earliest date of January 25th. And according to the older man and his wife, the #25, is lucky for school children. And Japanese tend to be into good luck days and bad luck days, and such. And so, they said, for our child to have a succesful school year, they chose the 25th for all delivery dates that they sell. So, it will be delivered to us on January 25th, we can't wait. It's also coming with a ton of freebies. Like cushions, covers, book bags, etc. I know it's about 6 years too early, but when Noah enters elementary school, we will be buying our backpack from this company again, without a doubt. What advice would I offer a fellow gaijin gal pal, if she was about to buy a backpack in Japan? I guess, I'd just say, buy whatever is best for your family. Buy whatever you guys like, first and foremost. Check what's popular in your own city in Japan too. And from whatever company meets your own families expectations. In closing there really is no right or wrong choice. Anyway, Im just glad we found the perfect backpack for our son and that it met our families expectations! I really am! : )

On our way home from the backpack store, we stopped off at Mc Donald's for lunch and then we hit the video store. Rented the kids one DVD. And we rented The new Harry Potter dvd, and Spider Man 3. Had dinner at home, and popcorn with the movie. I also threw Branden's sweatshirt into the washer as soon as we got home. I Spray and Washed it, ha ha ha, and then washed it asap. It came right out! Phew! ha ha ha! : )

Friday, November 23, 2007

Some more backpack talk from the luncheon and other whatnots! : )

The little blurb about the luncheon and the backpacks was this. During our lunch our rectangular table, of say about 8 woman,asked each other, if they all had bought the backpack. And every single one of them have indeed bought their child's backpack *already*. Except for me. Ha ha ha! We are planning to go look and buy B's on Monday. And we have it already narrowed down to 3, so far. And every single mother of a boy at our table, the color they bought, was black. Black backpacks seem, *at least where we live*, to be the one most mom's gravitated for. Well, except for my good friend, she bought a navy blue one with turquoise stitching. But everyone else went with the traditional Japanese color of black for boys! Seems that even with all the new popular colors they sell nowadays in Japan, the classic black one, is the one most of the moms and kids are picking. I found that really interesting.

Also,as we were driving, towards the luncheon. I asked my good friend, Kaya-san, if she had bought her sons backpack yet. She said, yes. And color, she chose also, was black. Again, I guess it's ultimately to each mother what she chooses or what her child decides, I guess. Also each area, town or city might gravitate towards their own favorite or own popular color for that particular area, some areas may favor navy blue more. But our area of Japan sticks with the basic black. Long story short, there is no right or wrong color. Up to the family and check the area you live in and find out what's most popular in your own area whenever the time comes. Like I said, for our area the color of choice for boys, seems to be black. And like I mentioned about our neighbor who lives across the street from us, Ayumi-chan's mom. She told my husband a few weeks back, she told Noboru (and her daughter is in second grade and attends the elementary school B will be going to), she said all the boys she sees when she drops her daughter off at when she runs to the school for something, she said most of the boys she sees have black. And she added to my DH, that she only has seen maybe one or two navy backpacks. Hmm.

It's all new to me, because I'm walking a road, I have yet traveled. I've never sent my child to elementary school in Japan before. : )

But, for me, I trust the mom's I know a bunch. They are all quite smart.I value their opinion a lot. I also trust my own decision making 100%. And we've known the dominant color of backpack around this area is indeed black, so we will go with that. We decided that for Branden, we will ultimately be buying him a black one. That way, he can be just one of the guys! Being hafu means he is already different to begin with. Having an obvious American mom, who will be picking him up from school on rainy days. geeze, the stares my poor son must face already! Ha ha ha. I just want Branden to be as normal and fit in Japan as much as possible. And so, if all the boys will be using a black backpack, then that's what Branden will have as well. I don't want my son to be singled out in a negative way at all. And up until now, he has never been treated any differently at school. He's treated just like everyone else, as it should be. He has a mad amount of friends and I am glad he fits in well. Really relieved! : ) But the Japanese have a saying, and I think for those of you in the US, you may find it interesting. It goes something like this. “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” So, if you can understand that saying, then I guess you will understand why I want my child to have the black backpack like everyone else. Granted, I'd like to say, I am cool enough to turn up my nose at society and all it's pressures and let my child cruise to school with an orange backpack, say, if he wanted to. But, we all know how kids can be and I'm not the one who has to go to school, Branden does. Especially in a culture that believes things like, “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.”, ha ha ha, so a black backpack it will be. And sure, it will still have that little special something that makes it different. But just a bit. : )

Now all I have to do, is get my butt in gear and we have to buy that backpack pronto! : )

Also, the mom's were already talking about the suit the kids would be needing for the entrance day ceremony. Boy, are these mom's on the ball, or are they on the ball??? They always make me feel so behind, ha ha ha. But I do totally appreciate the advice and stuff they give me. That they are already thinking "suit" at least gives me food for thought. However, we won't be buying Branden's suit until February because as his mom. I know B can have a month where he won't grow but a dot, and then next month he'll grow 3cm!!! So, with that being said, I don't want him to outgrow the suit before April. Besides the suit is not really that important to me. I don't really care, if it's expensive or moderately priced. Call me crazy, but a suit, a child will wear only one day and then never again? A one day, only suit basically? Granted Noah can wear it if he wants. But, it's not nearly as important as the backpack. At least the backpack has to be top quality because B would have to use it daily for the next 6 years, know what I mean? But, the suit? A one time only? Ahh, it can wait until February. Beginning of February though. Anyway, that's where we are regarding the "getting ready for school" stuff right now. : )

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble, gobble, gobble, Happy Thanksgiving everyone! : )

Since Thanksgiving is obviously not a holiday in Japan, Branden had school today. I considered letting him take the day off. However, I sent him to school and let him take the day off from Kumon though. So as soon as I sent Branden to school, I started in on the pie. I pulled out my great big can of Crisco, flour and started making the crust. I usually make the crust edges crappy looking. But today, I guess the gods must've took pity on me, since yesterday and the public speaking thing, and so today my crust came out looking wonderful! I used this cheap plastic tweety bird spoon, which came as a free gift at KFC a year or so back. LOL. I used that because it had the widest teeth. And I made my edges with it. I was really pleased with how my pie came out this year! : )

A homemade pumpkin pie! Granted never 100% perfect, but then homemade pies, never are, are they? Ha ha ha! Looked super good though and tasted beyond amazing. I'll tell ya, nothing ever compares with the flavor of a homemade pie ha ha ha! : )

When Branden got home from school, we could smell the turkey roasting in the oven as we came through the front door. He changed into his sweatpants from his Catholic school uniform. Noah was wearing sweatpants too. Me in my black yoga pants and a black long sleeved t shirt with sweatshirt over that. Pony tail. Expecting no one, just us. Dressed for complete comfort. Not even a dot of makeup on my face. Just relaxin'. I got dinner done. Noboru sadly had to work until 11:00pm. He had that blasted 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm shift. He came home and had dinner though so he was fine. : )

Around 5:00 pm, the boys and I were ready to eat! This picture is of my serving. Branden and Noah, had the same, just smaller. : ) I'd like to tell you, we ate on the fine dinner plates like we did last year at Thanksgiving, when all the company we had from last year were here. Or I was all gussied up, wearing a restricting dress or clothing and having my face on/make up on, and hair all done up. However no thanks ha ha ha, we used our regular ol' plates we always use. These ones in the picture. We didn't even eat at the dinner table. The boys and I took our plates full of Thanksgiving abundance to the living room. And we all watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original with Gene Wilder! After that we watched the Joy Luck Club, one of my most favorite movies in the world! Which duh, it's on my favorite movies thing on my blog! Ha ha ha! : ) And then after that, we watched The Nanny Mc Phee again.

The boys and I had pie with that yummy spray can whipped cream! They had milk with theirs and I had a hot caramel machiatto with mine. I sat, watching the Nanny Mc Phee and slowly ate and enjoyed my pie. After that we took showers, got changed into our pj's. Noah fell asleep immediately. I carried him upstairs. Branden I let stay up, and he stayed up until 10:30 pm. But he was dead asleep on the couch, so I carried him up the stairs as well. I waited and by 11:30 pm the hubster came in, he showered right away and I fixed him a plate. Meanwhile I fixed myself a turkey sandwich. We both sat in the living room, him eating his turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy meal and stuff. Meanwhile, me in my flannel PJ's and my sandwich and Ruffles. We watched this really creepy grade B type of movie called Pin. It was on the horror channel. It was not so grade B, that we had to change it. It was more along the lines of, it was worth watching and we made little snarky remarks about it during the movie here and there, ha ha ha. It was a nice night! A really relaxing, totally stress free. No company to worry over. No one to wait on hand and foot. We'll be doing the big dinner next year again, so please let me enjoy this quiet Thanksgiving in peace, ha ha ha, wink, wink! And what am I thankful for? I'm thankful for my wonderful silly/funny kids. My thoughtful husband. My amazing mom and dad. My large and extended family. My friends. And most importantly I am thankful for my health, because sometimes good health is taken for granted and it never should be. And I am even thankful for this blog, because it brought me so many new and nice friends!!! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone from our family here in Chiba, Japan!!! : )
Also, Friday, happens to be a holiday in Japan, so no school for Branden. Noboru works Friday because he works for an American company and therefore gets US holidays off, not Japanese ones, go figure! So, I won't have to wake up early on Friday! I'll get to sleep in, yay extended weekend for me and the kids!!! And also Branden has the day off on Monday, since our entire family has a doctors appointment on Monday morning. So no school Friday-Monday. And Branden returns on Tuesday! That really is going to be a nice extended long weekend for our family! What sorta doctors appointment? All 4 of us are getting our flu shot on Monday and then after that is the day we will be driving down to the big city to go and buy Branden's backpack. So Monday we will be really busy. Anyway Happy holidays and I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend as always! : )