Saturday, May 31, 2008

American Idol, the top 4!!! : )

This week's theme for the final 4, was, "Songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame" : )

1st up was David Cook! His first song was "Hungry Like the Wolf" Randy said it was an okay choice. Clearly not too thrilled though. And Simon said, I thought it was good, but it was a little bit copy cat" As for me, I wasn't crazy about David's first song performance tonight. : (

2nd up was Syesha! Her first song tonight was "Proud Mary", by Tina Turner! Randy said, "this is the third week in a row where Syesha showed up *bringing it!!!* I totally agree! : )

3rd up was Jason Castro, his first song of the night was, "I shot the sheriff" by Bob Marley. All 3 of the judges agreed it was not a very good performance. Randy said, "Dude for me that was a very karaoke Bob Marley" I agree! Paula said, "I wasn't crazy about your performance or song" Meanwhile Simon said, "that was utterly atrocious" And he further added, "this was like a 1st round audition massacre" Simon also added, "the only thing similar was the *hair*" Honestly, the judges were dead on right. This was an absolutely horrible performance by Jason Castro. And again, I love Jason Castro, it's just his performances, as of late have been horrible. : (

Last for the "first song round" choice was David Archuleta, his first song of the night was "Stand By Me", Randy said it was hot!!! I agree, David Archuleta brought his game on tonight! Simon said, "you coulda whistled a song and it would have been better then that last song" Clearly meaning the song Jason Castro just did. Ouch!!!!! : ) And Simon also said, "best performance so far!!!" I agree!

Now for the four contestant's second and last performance/song of the night!

David Cook's 2nd song, "Baba O'Riley", This performance was awesome!!! Randy loved it and said, "that's more of the David Cook, we love, you were great!!!" Simon loved it as well, he said, "welcome back David Cook!" I agree, this 2nd performance was on fire! : )

Syesha's 2nd song of the night was "A change is gonna come" by Sam Cook" Randy said, For me, the 1st song, I loved, this 2nd song, I didn't love, and it fell flat for me" he actually made Syesha cry with his comment! : ( Simon came to her defense and he said, "I think Randy with all due respect totally got it wrong"

Jason Castro's 2nd song, of the night. Mr. Tambourine man, by Bob Dylan. First off, he forgot some words, towards the beginning. Randy said, "Jason's not in the zone tonight" Boy oh boy do I agree with that! He's been really off lately! : ( Paula even said, "obviously, it didn't blow us away, but you blew me away" Simon was a lot more straight forward then Paula, he said..."Jason, I'd pack your suitcase" I honestly agree. After 2 horrible performances tonight....I bet he will be the one to go! Sorry Jason! : ( Just being honest though! : )

And the 4th and final performer tonight singing the last song of the night was David Archuleta, his song choice tonight was "love me tender", by Elvis. I see how smart David has been, by picking the "classic" type songs tonight and even last week. I think that has been really smart on his part. Very very good move on his part. Anyway, back to what the judges thought. Randy said, "another great performance from you" And Simon gave him an amazing comment!!! He said, "David, you didn't beat the competition tonight, you **crushed** the competition tonight" I agreed! Because while David Cook did an amazing 2nd performance, his first song was weak. Same with Syesha. Where as David Archuleta gave both strong performances tonight! So yeah, I agreed with the judges completely tonight! : )

And Sunday night cuts!!! Who had to leave this weekend? I don't know, it hasn't happened yet for us in Japan! It comes on tonight!!! LOL, I'll update this tonight!!! : )

**Update**!!!! And now it is down to the final 3!!!! So who was cut tonight? Well, the episode in Japan just ended just now, it's 8:50 pm, right now. It literally just ended!

Jason Castro, was indeed the one who left tonight. : ( He was always a very nice guy! What an awesome and charming personality, he truly had!!! A real good hearted type guy, you could tell! We will miss you, Jason Castro! Sniff, sniff! : (

Thursday, May 29, 2008

American Idol, the top 5!!! Neil Diamond Week!!! : )

Each performer tonight was asked to do, 2 performances tonight. 2 Neil Diamond songs, since this week's mentor was indeed Neil Diamond! : )

Jason Castro, first song choice was "Forever in Blue jeans" Randy thought it was just okay. Jason's second song was September Morn", Again, Randy said, "this is not the Jason we put into the competition" OMG, what a comment but sorta true. Jason's performances have been slipping, sorry to say. : ( Simon meanwhile thought about the same, he said, "you struggled through both performances" I hate to say it, but I agree.

2nd was David Cook, his first song choice of the night was "I'm alive" And his second song was, "All I really need is you" Randy said, "You were in the zone" And he added, "that was blazin', " I think David Cook is really showing star quality, like Randy said, he really has been in the zone! : )
Paula said, "I feel, like I am already looking at the next American Idol"

3rd up was Brooke White, she went with "I'm a believer" as her first song choice and "I am....I said" for her second song. Nobody really cared for it all too much and I honestly can't say I can blame them. And believe me, I really liked Brooke. But if we are to be honest and judge on her performance, then, the judges are right. While others are clearly in the, "quote unquote zone lately", then it is getting more obvious, that Brooke is *not* in the zone these days at all! Sorry, just being honest.
: ( Anyway Randy said for her first song..."better then last week, but still a little karaoke" I agree! Simon for her first song said, "Brooke, a nightmare" Again, sorry but I agree. Her second song, Simon said..."It wasn't incredible, but it was a million times better"

4th up was David Archuleta, His first song choice was, "Sweet Caroline", Randy loved it!!! His second song of the night was "America" Randy said, "Another good performance baby" and he added, "da bomb" LOL. : ) Simon said, "well David, that was the right choice in song and very clever of you" I think David Archuleta is definitely in the zone, as well as a few others. I felt David Archuleta both performances tonight were dead on! Really amazing! : )

Last but not least was, Syesha. Her first song of the night was "Hello Again" and her second song, was "Thank the lord for the night time" Honestly I think Syesha is another ones clearly in the zone. Her performances have been flawless!!! Randy said he liked her Broadway appeal. I agree!!!

Sunday night cuts!!! Who had to leave us? : (
Brooke White.
In a way, I was sad to see Brooke go, because she was a sweet girl, a good egg. But honestly her performances lately were terrible and it was pretty obvious to those of us that had been watching faithfully every week, she was going to be leaving the show pretty soon. She clearly wasn't going to make it until the end. Not with the performances she had been giving lately. So, it was sad, but it was definitely time for her to go. Sorry Brooke! : )

My favorites so far.
David Archuleta
David Cook
(the 3 of them are so totally in the zone, it's not even funny! : )

I worry for Jason Castro because his performances have been sorta weak lately! : ( Pull it up Jason!!! : )

American Idol, the top 6, and the theme, "the music from Andrew Lloyd Webber"

Tonight's theme, as the title says, was indeed the music from Andrew Lloyd Webber. First thing that popped in my mind was, Cats and the Phantom of the Opera. Among many many other's. : )
First to go up was Syesha, her song of the night was, "One Rock and Roll Too Many". Simon said, "Syesha that was very sexy" And he also said that was "one of your strongest performances so far" I thought Syesha, was amazing myself!

2nd was Jason Castro, his song choice was "Memory" from Cats!!! Randy said "ummm, wow, I thought musically for me it was a bit of a train wreck" I actually agree with Randy, while I love the personality and good kind character that Jason Castro has, his vocal tonight was terrible. Sorry to say that. Sorry Jason!!! : ( Simon said "it came over as a young guy being forced to sing by your parents at a wedding" yikes about what Simon said, but honestly, sorta true! Again, sorry Jason! : (

3rd, was Brooke White, Her song choice was "You Must Love Me" Now, I must say that during the practice rehearsal where Brooke got pointers from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, himself. He actually said on tape. " I don't think that girl has a clue what she was singing about" I honestly had to completely agree with Andrew Lloyd Webber, it certainly did appear she didn't "get it' either, meaning what the song was about. Brooke, was all smiles and he told her, "the girl is dying". Sorry, Brooke. : ( So here's the performance and guess what happens? Brooke, has a false start. Yup, she started the song in front of the Live audience and she actually forgot her words during the real performance and had to restart the song. OMG! What did the judges have to say? Randy said, "for me, this wasn't great" And he said, "vocally it was a little tough" Maybe he shoulda said "rough" but anyways he said, tough. I honestly agree, with randy though. Paula scolded Brooke meanwhile and said, "you must *never* start and stop" And Simon was also not impressed with her performance at all either. Simon said, "I think you'll be very disappointed when you watch this back" I agree, I felt she did a terrible job this week. And actually her last few performances have been really iffy and not up to what the others are doing these past few weeks. I can see her getting the boot soon. I really can, after tonight's performance.

4th up was, David Archuleta. He went with the song, "Think of Me". And he gave an amazing performance!!!! Randy said, "you are exactly what this show is about" And further said, "dude this was the bomb!!!" I agree with Randy, it was hot! Simon didn't agree, he said, it was pleasant, but also added he thought it was one of his weakest performances.

5th was Carly, her song tonight was "Jesus Christ Superstar" Randy said, he liked the outfit. Simon however said, "other then the middle where I thought it got a bit whiny, I actually thought it one of my favorite performances of the night" I agree, she did pretty good. : ) Not the best of the night I don't think, but a good performance nonetheless. : )

Last but not least was, David Cook. His song of the night was, "The Music of the Night", Randy loved it and said, "that was an amazing performance" and added, "a molten hot lava bomb!" LOL. Paula loved it too, and said "you are so well rounded as a performer" And Simon didn't say anything horrible, he actually said, "you made the most of the song you were given" I agreed and I thought David Cook was awesome tonight. Actually he's been fabulous these past few weeks actually.

Sunday night cuts. Who had to leave us?

Carly Smithson!!! : ( What a bummer, because she was one of my favorite personalities and gals of the show. but I sorta had to agree in the end, no matter how sad it was to see her go. However, I still dig you Carly! : )

My favorites lately?
David Archuleta
David Cook

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This and that's...bit's and pieces, and a few tid bits for good measure! LOL! : )

Last Friday! So last Friday, after I picked up Branden from elementary school, we all came home and I fixed the boys a snack. I made them a grilled cheese sandwich, cut it diagonally and then they each left with their half. With some iced tea in their cups and went to chill on their playground for a while. : )

After the other neighbor kids walked home and checked in with their parents and stuff. A few of Branden's friends came to play and hang out in the backyard. They stayed until 5:00 pm and then everyone went home. The weather has been beautiful and warm and just lovely in general. And life over here has been really fantastic. : ) Boy were we ready for the weekend! Yahoo! : )

Saturday morning, was the "big yard clean up" at our/Branden's elementary school. Everyone showed up. Literally all the dad's, the mom's, and all the kids played in the big gymnasium. Meanwhile the younger kids around Noah's age stood with their mom's outside. Noboru came to lend a hand and he brought our big American lawn mower. Everyone really liked Noboru's lawn mower, lol. Noboru mowed the entire playground area and field for the entire school. Everyone was really appreciative about that. A few father's also brought their weed whackers, but with the lawn mower, it cut the time for everybody in half. And the lawn is all uniform one length and stuff. After that was done, we all came home. And the boys played with the boy next door, but in our backyard. I meanwhile, took a 30 minute rest. Just catching up on some CNN and drinking some iced tea. Then after a while, I decided I really wanted to eat some cake. So, I baked us all a chocolate cake. Sometimes a nice weekend dessert, really can hit the spot, ha ha ha. : )

Sorry no pictures of it in full. But I had B and Noah and the boy next door in the backyard and I brought the 3 of them a slice of cake each. And then I wondered if the boy next doors little brother would want a slice too? So, I rang their bell and asked and sure enough he did! LOL. Boy was he happy! So, I cut him a slice. And then I figured, why not, I should cut myself a slice as well. And then next thing you know. This is what was left. Ha ha ha. Ah well, cakes are meant to be eaten, so it made me happy! : )

Around 1pm, after we all had lunch at home, just sandwiches and some instant cup of noodle type easy lunch : ). The boys and I drove down to the video store to rent a few weekend DVD's. Noah chose, Ultraman Tiga, Branden chose a different Ultraman DVD, and I chose a real suspense type movie. Called, "No Vacancy". We rented 3 DVD's total. When I clicked this pic, the boys were off watching the missing Ultraman DVD from this picture, lol. : ) I watched the "No vacancy" DVD, at night after both the boys went to sleep. Noboru watched it with me. All, I can say is, it's a good DVD. Granted no award winning performance but totally good enough to satisfy my weekend DVD rental craving. This movie had my heart beating and thumping. Had me at the edge of my seat a bit too! It's a movie where you wanna close your eyes, because you are almost too afraid to look and see what happens. Yet at the same don't wanna miss a thing! I was covering my eyes and uncovering them a lot during this movie! Phew! Ha ha ha! : )

Monday! On Monday morning, after I had already made breakfast and made sure Branden walked off to school safely. And I started my cleaning. The doorbell rang. I was actually surprised. Yes, I ordered some socks for Branden, no biggie. Kids always seem to need new socks, don't they? LOL. However the socks I wanted for Branden and ordered, said they would ship at the beginning of June. And umm, it's not June, so clearly I was not expecting to see the socks yet. Don't get me wrong, the sooner the better obviously. But again, it was a nice surprise this morning. : )

I went with the surf boy socks. He's a water lover, an excellent swimmer! So, they fit him to a T! And they were really cheap/affordable.

This is a sorta funny story. Okay not too hilarious, but ykwim : ) When B was in yochien, he had to wear uniform socks. Plain white, no characters. And even uniform shoes! Ha ha ha! However since he started elementary school. He can wear anything and he loves that and so do we. Anyways, I always bought his socks in America. Simple plain white sneaker socks from Target, or Kmart. or the plain simple socks from Old Navy, I bought too, in navy blue or white or gray. The thing is though, in Japan, when you take your shoes off at school everyday and change your outdoor shoes to your indoor white shoes. Kids always notice each other's socks. Branden had told me a few weeks ago. Everyone wears different colored and sorts of socks everyday. I said "oh yeah, well that's interesting sweetie" Didn't think much of it. And so he mentioned, and said, "but all my socks look the same mommy" "Can I have different looking socks?" Aha, clearly "getting it", I said...enough said! And so, I looked through my catalog and found these and ordered them. There's one general theme "surfing" but all different. I had told B, they will get here in June.: ( So, yeah, when they came earlier then expected, I smiled. It made me happy because I knew they would make Branden happy. Yup, when he came home today, he had all these different variety and designs on the socks and he's so happy now! Ahhhh, sometimes it is the little things, that do help and make all the difference in the world. : ) I guess in the kid world, you want different looking socks everyday? LOL : ) Ha ha ha. Ah well, happy to oblige! I am so glad he always comes to me about this stuff, no matter how small. Even if it seems unimportant to other's. If it's important to my son, then it's important to me and I am on the case, so to speak! : ) I think next month, I'll buy him another 10 pack of these sneaker socks in a different style too, just to make sure he has enough variety. LOL. : )

Also on Monday, but in the afternoon after my cleaning was done, and since the cake was long gone since Sunday afternoon. I decided to whip up some cookies from scratch! Some "Heath toffee cookies" I got the recipe online from the Hershey's website. The recipe was very simple.

Cookies cooling off! : )

This made close to 3 dozen cookies! Honestly these were probably the tastiest cookies, I've had in a real long time! My husband loved them and so did the boys! They'll be a great treat for my family for the week! : )

Tuesday morning! At like 6:50 am, there I was doing my trash can scrub down. In the fall and winter, I usually give my trash can the big "scrub down" about once a month (yes I do, weekly wipe downs of the handle and stuff though, lol). However in the Spring time and Summer, it gets a weekly huge scrub down from me. I fill it with Mr. Clean and tons of water! Let it sit and soak for about a few minutes, Meanwhile I Orange clean everything and wipe down with an antibacterial wipe.

A very clean trash can. Rinsed it twice and then I let it sit and dry in the sun! I will see you next week trash can!!!! To clean you up, all over again! Ha ha ha! : )

Tuesday morning around 9:30 am in the morning or so. It was right when the store opened.

I had wanted to buy 2 flower pots or maybe a few more, who knows, but to place them on our big terrace in the backyard. So, with a lot of help from the helpful lady in the garden center, she suggested these ones for me. I told her, I wanted red and I wanted something that thrives in the sun. She suggested me 2 different types and from there, I chose this one. : ) I always seem to talk to this same garden lady every week. Ha ha ha.

After a big morning of shopping for flowers and food. It was time for our weekly lunch here. I had KFC as usual. : ) And Noboru and Noah had a nice Japanese lunch. Ramen and stuff. : )

Looks like a lot, but it's really not. In the kids cart, Noah carried only the 4 pack of paper towel. Noboru carried the cart with only 2 baskets in them and that was just primarily drinks and toiletries. Mostly juice or tea, Blendy iced coffee in a bottle, Qoo, maybe 1 soda, but mostly teas or juice. And the water, yes we drink water by the case around here, but we get it at the drugstore near our home because it's cheaper. : ) As for the toiletries, Noboru carried the laundry soap, toothpaste and such. And a new futon stick. : ) And in my cart of 3 teeny tiny baskets, just 3 small baskets of food. Which really isn't too shocking for a family of 4, in a whole week, considering we eat mostly all our meals here. Oh yeah and Toilet paper. I was buying the stuff from Costco. Until I did the math on it about a month ago. And it turns out really expensive compared to what i can get in Japan. So, I searched high and low and I found a Japanese unscented one. And it's cheaper, so I switched to this. And the big giant pink flowers, means I can pick it out, whether the husband is there with me or not. And I know the brand, so I can easily find it now. : )

Also on Tuesday afternoon, my fellow PTA member (remember, I joined the PTA, lol), brought me down the signs. Roads signs and since I am, 1 of 3, of the traffic people for this area. One lady made the signs. Had her hubby do it actually, which was cool. And the other one looked for the signs needing replacing. And I was the one who went and replaced the signs. So, today she brought me 3 signs that needed replacing. I will do that job tomorrow though! : )

I will tie these signs up with this metal wire! : )

From the PTA! : )

Still Tuesday afternoon....See my foxy gardening gloves/hands? LOL, I'm kidding, I'm kidding! : )

Mixing up my soil and also my nutrients. Honestly, with the house all clean, the shopping done. It was awesome, to just spend the afternoon to relax in the backyard planting my red flowers into their lovely little pots. And Noah meanwhile ran and played up a storm as well. : )

When it was time, I went and picked up Branden from school. He told me how much fun school was and the kid just loves it a whole lot! : )

It was so hot outside and the boys were running through the water sprinkler.

They played their little hearts out! : ) Noah sliding! : )

Branden sliding! : )

We're had another BBQ at the house on Tuesday! I felt lucky to find these large potatoes at the store today, I knew they'd be perfect for the BBQ this evening. I was chopping up some veggies to put on the grill. : )

Potatoes and sweet potatoes take the longest, so they went on first.

See this little green country frog? Ha ha ha! : )

Noah being a total boy and a half! Loves to play with frogs and dangomushi/rolie polies. He was picking up the frog. He happened to have gloves on today, since I had my gloves out from the flower planting thing earlier. But he can touch them gloves or no gloves, ha ha ha. : ) And he holds them gentle, doesn't hurt the frogs at all either! : )

Kermit says..."it isn't easy being green" Ha ha ha. : )

He carried his friend and pal, "the frog" all over our yard, while we were doing the BBQ. He showed the frog the shed, the frog the fence, Noah also showed the frog the flowers mommy just planted. He totally gave this frog the royal treatment! Ha ha ha. And then he let him go and he hopped a bit and then hung out in the backyard. Turns out the frog had a great time, he hung out in the backyard until we all went in the house to eat. : )

My purple front hanging flowers were in the backyard at the time, because I was giving them their weekly dose of vitamins. And they are now back to the front porch yet again. And the red flowers come, July will be flower city in a month or two! : ) Again, just doing things bit by bit. Things maybe progressing slowly, but the good news is, they are progressing just the same! : )

Branden can dribble this ball forever! We seriously counted 50 something odd dribbles, in a row, without stopping. That's actually really good for a 6 year old! Downright wicked actually! : )

Reach for the sky Noah! Either Noah was doing a practice volley or that was one heck of a high dribble! Ha ha ha! : ) Ah well, he's young, he is trying though! : )

Some of our yakiniku and chicken were ready, other's were still cooking. : )

Yumm, and the smell of a nice charcoal BBQ, amazing! : )

And yes, we did invite Genki to another BBQ, but he's grounded this week, his mom said. And she was right, he has not been playing in the neighborhood this week. : ( Drats! Oh well, we will ask him/invite him again soon! : )
It's funny, when I think back on how dinner time was at my house when I was growing up, it was like the highlight of our day! The time when we always caught up with everyone else. And got to call it a day, with a really good meal and just relax as a family. It's no surprise then that is exactly how it still is with my kids. I really enjoy meal time and not just for the food, lol! Wink! : )

My meal Tuesday night, grilled and marinated chicken, grilled mushrooms and peppers, white rice and a hot buttery baked potato. Grilled potato, maybe I should say. Crisp on the outside and fluffy potato on the inside, with butter and salt and pepper. Yumm! The lettuce leaves I wrapped my meat in, as usual. We also had some fresh sweet watermelon, as well. : )

Branden in deep conversation with daddy, when I clicked this pic! : ) Noah meanwhile eating his 2nd sweet potato! : ) True, might not have been a cavier or champagne type meal, lol, ykwim. But this is the type of meal that is so totally us! Just a simple family BBQ. That's all, but boy oh boy, was it a fantastic Tuesday nights dinner! : )

Wednesday! Branden's breakfast from Wednesday. A cheese omlette with crispy bacon on top, fit nicely between a crossaint. And 1 toaster oven, toasted hash brown. And a tall glass of OJ. : ) Gives him the energy, he will need for the day! : ) Well, besides the lunch he gets at school, too though. : )

My zucchini are really taking off nicely! They already have 1 flower each. I am just waiting for the other flower to come now! : )

I spent an hour cleaning the house and then I got dressed and Noah and I went hanging the 3 signs where they needed to be replaced. : ) Yup, this was an old sign in this picture alrighty. Good thing, I replaced it. : )

This is my second sign, I hung up this morning! : )

And this was my 3rd and final sign, I had to take down and replace with a new sign. : )

My cute little "cuddle bug", sitting in his car seat while mommy went and switched the signs Wednesday morning. He is such a sweetheart! : )

Finished, all done! You know, I think I did a pretty excellent job, if I don't say so myself! And this way, I volunteered, I did my bit. And nobody could ever say, otherwise! Oh and at our school, each family of 1 kid, has to volunteer twice in the whole 6 years of elementary school. So, by doing this, I now just gotta help out one more time. And I'm done for Branden. Man, I am really glad I got this outta the way, like this! And sure, I will help with other stuff, later if I want to, or have time. But this at least knocks off the obligatory volunteer work each family has to do. Only 1 more volunteer work left, maybe next year, who knows! : ) I phoned Noboru on his cell/keitei, when I was done and told him...I had indeed finsihed my PTA duty! The safety signs are hung. Woohoo! Ha ha ha! : )

The views of the country side, I will never tire of. : ) And heck...I didn't grow up in the country side in Denver. I grew up in a nice comfortable suburb, with everything and anything at my fingers tips or within reach. But....we had a huge yard though when I was growing up... a downright enormous yard actually. And so the yard is what I needed to live in Japan to make me comfortable and for each of us, it's a different thing, but for me, I needed that yard. So for us, it made sense living in the countryside in Japan. And even though Noboru doesn't originally come from the countryside either, and neither do I. However we both ended up here and we love it! : )

Wednesday after I picked up B from school, we immediately went to swim class. This is probably the last picture or last time we see the cute little blue goggles girl for a very long time. Sigh! : ) I'll explain more in detail down below somewhere though. : )

Coach was explaining the technique he wanted the three number 9's to complete. They are all quite fond of Branden! And the 2 or 3 other swimmers are different #'s, which is why they were off to the right. : )

Branden getting ready for his turn! : )

No board, nothing at all. Just Branden swimming. Those hands look really straight and "dead on" right to me! : )

Apparently not straight and perfect enough though, lol, the coach, showed B, one more time, how to move them almost robotically, and before they hit the water to "pop them". Hard to explain, but this coach is so awesome, he's so wicked! This is probably my favorite coach of them all. He aims for perfect. And he helps these kids to become fantastic swimmers. : )

After swim club today, the kids and I went to Nishimatsuya. I went in there for an extra pair of "house shorts"/ play shorts for Branden. They didn't have any 130cm (they were all sold out). So, I eded up getting B, some Ultraman underwear in 130cm. And B a house shirt/play shirt. And Noah had a cool pair of striped pants just like this. In fact he's wearing them in the raincoat pics from last weeks post. I got those ones last year from Gap, anyway, I found nearly identical pants from Nishimatsuya today and a size bigger, the size I needed. And I was happy, so I got them. yay! : ) It's always surprising how cheap and affordable and just how many cute finds to be had, at Nishimatsuya.

Now for some random tid bits: : )

Branden and elementary school: Branden loves elementary school. He has gobs of friends. But the reason for the update on this is. His teacher, absolutely adores Branden! It's so funny! When we were doing the yard work at the school on Saturday. His sensei was there and she came to talk to Noboru and I, about Branden for about 10-15 minutes. She said, he is a good student in class. His writing and homework he turns in is fabulous. We told her then, he has been going to Kumon for nearly a year. She also told us, she watches him on the playground for recess and she says, he dances and sings and he's funny and he makes her laugh! And she also sees, he plays with his fellow ichinensei and also the older 3rd grade kids too. And she also mentioned swimming. She told us, her son, goes to the same swimming school as we do and yes we did know that. And she said, she talks to Branden about his swimming sometimes, and she mentioned the word, "level 9" and she said, Branden told her that following day he passed, she said he was so excited, she told Noboru and I, he speaks about his swimming with such passion, he must really love swimming. Anyway, no real story here. But she really digs Branden a whole lot. She's an awesome teacher! She also mentioned he drinks a lot of milk? Ha ha ha. Each child gets 1 carton of milk. However many of the kids don't like milk? According to the sensei. And any *unopened* milk can be drank by another student. Since most kids can barely finish their own milk. B, always get to drink the extras. She said, he drinks between 2 to3 cartons of milk every day for lunch! Besides his lunch. Anyway, she's a really excellent teacher, she's good to the kids. She takes an interest in Branden quite a bit. And he's just flourishing at school! And his weekly English, that she gives the class on Friday's, she said he is a good help for that as well. Anyway no big deal really, just wanted to say, we are really loving our elementary school years so far! : ) PS, about B and the school. He walks to school with the boy next door, they walk down to the meet up point together and from there they all walk in a huge group. So the kids are never alone. B and the boy next door, leave their/our houses and meet in the front of our homes and they walk together every morning unless it rains and then I give rides. ha ha ha. Or they give rides. I do ride share with Genki's family. Genki-kun's dad, has also picked up B and took him to school too. As for walking home? I find we always pick up Branden, 5 days a week. So, yup, he walks to school and rides home. That's how it finally worked out for our family. : )

Noah, he's honestly potty trained already. 3 weeks so far and still, no accidents. He stays dry and goes to the toilet when he needs to. He poops in the toilet just fine. He actually loves peeing in the toilet, lol! He's dry all day and evening long. He knows to hold it/his pee, until he gets to the toilet now. And has known that, these whole past 3 weeks. No accidents at all, like I said. (knocks on wood) Sure, I gotta take an extra set of undies and pants for Noah in the car at all times now, in case of emergencies. But that's not gonna last forever and I know that. : ) Just wherever we go, I take him to the toilet before we start shopping for example. And before we leave the store too. And so far, we've been lucky. Once he said he had to pee, and he managed to hold his pee and Noboru ran him off to the toilet, while I finished my shopping. Another time, I was at the swim club and alone, and I just left my snacks on my seat, so no one took my seat and ran Noah to the toilet myself. Phew! We luckily made it and all was fine. : ) I will wait another week, before I offically call him potty trained though. : ) Like I said...I will wait a full month before I call him potty trained for sure and next week marks a month. : ) Oh and for bed, he does wear a pull up though. He hasn't peed in it for sleep yet either. But I am just making sure. : ) PS, about Noah, we will be buying him a backseat, seat for my bike. A nice Japanese one, sometime this summer. he's old enough to sit in the back now, granted he's still small enough to ride in the front too though, but it's time, we will get him a back seat for my bike in a month or two. : )

Swimming club, from the B course to the C course. We switched Branden into the C swim course now. This decision was made with a lot of thinking and care and concern went into this decison. And a lot of pros and cons. And after debating about it for the past 3 weeks, I decided this was the best decision for our family in the end. The B swim course is for 6 year olds and 7 year olds (this is what B was in up until today). There's also an A course for younger kids, but since that has little to do with things now. I'll just talk about the issue. So anyways, the B course is for 6 year olds and 7 year olds. And the C course is for 6 year olds - 11 year olds! The C course is for serious swimmers, no goofing off! I have seen these kids and the majority of these kids are indeed 11 years old and they are nearly twice the age and twice the size of my little 6 year old. Of course, I am a worry wart mommy, I worry about B in a class full of older kids. However, when first grade started, a lot of Branden's yochien buddies/about half of them started switching to the C course. The kids that were the around the same level as Branden and even some with a grade or two slower levels then B, started making the switch. Yet we remained in the B course. I worried that the majority of the kids in the C course are indeed bigger kids and such and wondered if the C course would be too tough for the new ichinensei, like Branden. So, I held out and didn't switch my son. And now.....all the kids Branden's level, that used to go to the same yochien as him have all switched over to the c course. Except for a few that are quite a few #'s behind B though, they are still remaining in the B course. Branden has mentioned he has been missing his friends from yochien that he used to get to see at swim club. Also, the coach spoke with me last week. He said....he felt Branden is a serious enough swimmer and he is welcomed to switch to the C course. Yes if you're son is 6 years old, they need coach approval to be in the C course or be a level 6, at least, which is rare. But, yeah, B was invited and given approval to make the switch. The coach thought he would be a perfect fit for the C course. Meanwhile I had to debate it some more and mull things over. I think from Branden's yochien, 2 number 10's were invited and 2 number 8's were invited and that was it. And Branden, who is a number 9. The other kids with larger numbers were not asked to change, perhaps the coaches don't they they're ready, I don't know. Anyways, finally today, as I sat at swim school, I thought long and hard about it and I think making the switch is a good move for Branden. So, I went downstairs, and I filled out the form and starting next Wednesday, he will go at a different time and he will offically be in the C course starting next week. I told Branden..."next week you'll be swimming with giants." he said "what???" I said, "I'm just kidding baby, you'll be swimming with the big kids from now on". I shoulda had B say good bye to the cute and beautiful little blue goggles girl, but, I forgot. Ah well, when they have a compressed course they will meet again! : ) The reason I ultimately changed my mind is because, the coaches wouldn't have asked him to switch if they didn't personally think he was ready. Also the timing. I have been rushing to get to the B course, now that Branden is a first grader, he gets out of school so late, I often have to race down there and if he starts the C course, the class starts an hour later, so we would not have to be in a great big rush every week, that part, I loved. And the final reason/though smallest reason, was, he would get to see his buddies from yochien still. And that really made me think and so all of it, was reason enough for me to let him make the switch. So we will see.

Drivers license update! Noboru was kind enough to go to the drivers test place and turn my paper work in for me, this Monday, I think is when he went. And he got me a preapproval card/paper. he said, he spent a good hour long wait to get my paper work approved. But he said when I go for my written exam, next week, I won't have that long of a wait now. I was gonna do my written this week, but because of my PTA duties and other obligations, it's going to have to be next week. And, we also will be driving there. Noboru is going to drive me and we will let B take the day off, since we worry about if we'll be back in time or not. And so, we will/might be able to hit Costco too now. Hopefully. : ) Only thing, I that my testing center was closer. That way I wouldn't have to wait a whole damn week. But then with it being so ungodly far away. I can only do the best I can. Sigh. Ha ha ha. : ) And I have limited my driving to only the bare necessities otherwise I have been letting Noboru cart me around lately, sigh. he he he : )

Summer plans. What are everyone's vacation plans? Anyone going back home for a visit? Or if you're staying in Japan, that's good too. But do you have anything planned? Like planting a garden, or perhaps, going to the beach? Summer plans anyone, anyone, Bueller? LOL! What's up for you all, this summer, in other words!!!? : ) I'll share with you our plans. Now, you know my hubby works for an airline and we always gotta wait until the last minute to get things set in stone. But, I can give you the gist of things so far. : ) With Branden in elementary school now and with us not being able to jet off any old time we like anymore. *sob* Not like how we did in yochien, sniff, sniff. Our summer vacations are starting to become more and more important to us. So, we have been putting lot's of deep thought into our vacation. We concluded we would be either spending our summer holiday in either Hawaii or back in Denver. Hawaii is easier for us. It's only 1 flight, the flight is also shorter. And you might remember we have that family of 4 comfirmed pass to go to Hawaii for free. It expires in December 2009, so we know for fact we have to go to Hawaii before it expires. So while that woulda been an easier way to go. My heart felt heavy. : ( Fact is, I haven't been home. Back in Denver, Colorado in well over 2 years, maybe even 2 and a half years. And that really is a long time.: ( I really and truly deserve to go home, you guys. I miss it. I miss my family. I miss my aunties, my uncles, my tons of cousins, eating proper Italian food! I miss being back home, pure and simple! Sure Hawaii is wicked, we love it there. But, nothing trumps being home, regardless where you come from! : ) And I wanna go home. And if I could click my heels, 3 times right this second and go home right now, back to Denver, for a *visit*, I'd go (just for vacation, not for life, ykwim :). So, anyway. May not be a glamorous destination, so be it! But, by gosh, my husband is taking me and the boys back home! (okay technically not my home anymore but you all kwim, I think :) 14 hours flight, 2 different airplanes? I don't really care....I just wanna go home! And when that airplane touches down at DIA, and the attendant says..."okay folks, welcome to Denver, Colorado, the weather temperature outside today is blah blah, the time is, blah blah" believe me, nobody on board that flight will be happier then me! I'll be beeming and it'll just be a really special day for me. : ) 2 and a half years people! (and I am sure many of you have been away for longer, but this is just really long for me: ( ) I am sure many of you living in Japan will understand, just how important it is for me to go home. And by god, you guys, I am going home! And so, I am! : ) Branden's last day of school, is July 18th or July 20th. Yes, in Japan, or for our school. The kids summer break lasts but a mere 40 days! OMG, didn't us kids in the US, get off like 3 month's or something? LOL! But in Japan, it's a mere 40 days! So anyway let me break the plan down for you. As soon as Branden starts summer break we will try to leave. Our time in Denver will be short. It will only be 9 days. But even 9 days is better then nothing.: ) I/we can stay with family sure, no problems with that. But, we do value our privacy and freedom of coming and going, when we want (no offense to my wonderful family reading this....don't be mad! : ) We will stay at a hotel. Lucky for us, Noboru lived half his life in Colorado and I lived my whole life there, so, I know all the good hotels, areas, restaurants and stuff, ha ha ha. We will stay in a nice middle class suburb. Safe and all. We will spend 7 nights in Denver. And 2 nights in Glenwood Springs/hot springs, it's in the Rocky Mountains, they have the coolest hot springs ever! : ) I grew up going to that hot springs. Branden went once when he was about 2 years old and doesn't remember it at all. : ( So, we are going to go again. I will eat everything I have missed these passed 2 and a half years. I will shop Target, lol how silly, and since I'm from Colorado, I know all the best shopping areas, I will hit the outlet malls and everything and at the end of those 9 days, I will gladly come back to Japan. feeling renergized and as happy as a clam! But yeah, I gotta go home, it's time you guys and I am sure you all totally understand! : )
Also for the remaining 30 or so vacation/off days that Branden will be off school. We have a loose plan/idea. of going to Guam for a couple days as a family. But that's just for relaxing and some swimming beach fun! Or, I could go with the boys and stay a week or 2 weeks, with my dad at his cool condo, that's always an option too. : ) And we also have been thinking of going to an onsen, here in Japan, as well. The company Noboru works for, they own a brand new onsen with hotel, or something like that and I think he said we can stay there for super cheap. And so we were thinking of going to an onsen for a night or two as well, if time and schedules permit though. But anyways, yes, our main plan/goal is to go to Denver. And if the Guam and onsen stuff pan out, then that's cool too. But the main part is, I am happy we get to go back to Denver. But yeah with the short 40 days off and then school non stop after that until Christmas break.: ( We will be trying to cram literally everything into those short 40 days, as much as possible. Including more family BBQ's and everything else we can fit in those days. : )