Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween from Chiba, Japan!!! : )

Happy Halloween to all our family and friends, Both real life friends and online friends. Happy Halloween to you all from us here in Chiba, Japan!!! : ) This was taken last night on Thursday, after we took our Mr. Jack o lantern outside to sit rightly proud and all lit up and carved! I love this picture! : )

How did we get to the pic up above? Well, let me back track a bit. Here was the start of our Thursday night carving! Picked up Mr. Jack Pumpkin head up from the genkan where he's sat for the passed few weeks and grabbed our pumpkin carving kits.

Got everything, okay it all looks in order, check, check, check!!! : )

Family all together and ready to partake in the family fun?!!! Yes!

In the booklet there are cut outs or drawing that you can trace over your own pumpkin. Because we are a family with 2 kiddos, we went for an easy pattern that way the boys could jump in and help!

We went with a pretty standard pumpkin face to trace over! We loved it! : )

Here, we taped up the pattern we chose!

I traced half of this and Noboru traced the other half. We let Branden trace the mouth though! He had a ball doing it! : )

Pumpkin guts removal!!! Ha ha ha. Pulling all the strings and seeds out!
Go Noah, go!!! : )

Smile on Branden's face and some pull and tug of the pumpkin's insides meanwhile from Noah! Ha ha ha! : )

What the boys managed to pull and rip out this year! Obviously with the strainer, I set out for some serious seed washing and rinsing. Before salting them and throwing them into the oven! The boys know they did all the work for those pumpkin seeds, that were about to be roasted soon.They felt so proud and happy about it! : )
Nearly done, but seems even the scraper missed a few of those strings. Looks like this pumpkin has the equivalent of spinach between his teeth! Ha ha ha. I went in and scraped those last few dangling strings! : )

No more strings or anything. He's fresh and ready to go!!! He looks so happy doesn't he? A very happy pumpkin for our two boys. Wouldn't want to carve out something too scary now, ha ha ha! : )

The look of accomplishment!!! Ahh they did it! Well, of course mommy and daddy helped too though! They look forward to Halloween every year! : ) I do try to make each holiday special since we do have kids and we do want them to have those wonderful memories that will take them onto adulthood. Memories they will remember fondly for the rest of their lives!!!
Traditions are very important to me, both Japanese ones and American ones! : )

Aha, and now you see, that is indeed how we winded up with the last and first pic of our Happy Halloween 2008! I will be putting this picture into both of the boys scrapbooks, so they will never forget. And I will write up a personal message to each of them. And tell them how wonderful they each did with the pumpkin and such. Awww, yes I am a nerd, so what! Ha ha ha. : )

And we placed him on our wood banister. Where he will sit, probably until Saturday evening. He will be lit on Friday evening as well. : ) And I will indeed have my porch light on, so if anyone wants to come trick or treating at my house, they can! Ha ha ha. I have had a few trick or treaters through out the years, oddly enough. But I will keep my porch light on, until we take a bath Friday evening, just in case. : ) And yes, I did change my flowery hanging baskets yet again last week. It has become like a hobby for me, switching those baskets for the seasonal change. : )
And how Mr. Pumpkin head looks all lit up!!! Yay!!! Oh, I love all the holidays so much. : ) So does the hubster! : )
The seeds got nicely roasted, when we came into the house from taking pics out on our front porch you could totally smell all the lovely roasted pumpkin seeds! Yummm! : )

A nice little size of roasted salted pumpkin seeds! The four of us munched those up, while we watched TV. And then Noboru and the boys took showers and I followed after they finished. Sure nothing too exciting over here in our little neck of the woods. But, just a nice simple quiet way to celebrate Halloween!!! : ) What will we do today? Actually Friday which is today for us in for Halloween day and evening. We will, just do the usual for our family. We will watch some Halloween kid DVD's. Like the Charlie Brown one, the Dora Halloween one and a few others. Watch the Cartoon Network and Disney channel to watch all the Halloween kid's specials. Have popcorn and Halloween treats tonight. Then take baths and showers and the kids can get a Halloween book read to them. Nothing too elaborate at all. And after the kids go to sleep, Noboru and I will be watching a few scary DVD's, like we do every year. Friday the 13th DVD (with Jason), part 1 or 2. Where they are up at Crystal lake, ahhh scary! LOL. Or maybe Halloween DVD, with that Michael Myers guy, yikes, freak out, that's scary! Or we could throw in the Amityville or the Exorcist or something equally creepy! We will probably only get through 2 scary ones though, so we will have to decide tonight after the boys go to sleep. Ha ha ha. Happy Halloween everyone! And have a wonderful Halloween wherever you all may be! : )
Also, can't forget to say.....I am a big believer in that acts of kindness should never be taken lightly. And I appreciate knowing and having kind people in my life. So, anyway at the swimming school on Wednesday for Branden's lesson, I received 2 wonderful gifts from friends of mine. They've been friends of mine since we all met at yochien where our kids went and graduated from. One was fruit and veggies which she got form her garden, I loved that so much! And another was a Halloween treat!
One of my dearest friend's Rieko-san had given these to me. You know when someone does something kind like this for you. Just because they are nice human beings and souls. It absolutely floored me to be a receiver of a Halloween surprise like this. I was in awe! I truly appreciated this. I thought to know I am really blessed to have good friends in my life like this. Real true, sweet thoughtful good salt of the earth type people! I can't ask for anymore. Then to have good health, good family and wonderful friends. For that, I feel so lucky. And I hope I am a good friend to them in return, I think I am. And I always try to be. : ) Anyway, we are in the midst of planing a bowling day with my 2 friends and that should be sometime in November. Different people then I went bowling with last time. But all lovely friends. : )
And my other friend brought me, a big amount of spinach that she grew all herself. And I know and can appreciate how much work goes into growing something, I've done it myself, I know. So, I thought that was just so special!!! And some fresh kaki from her kaki tree!!! I also have friends with mikan trees etc. So, yeah, I am very fortunate to have good kind loving people in my life! And not all people in this world are like this. Believe me, I know. Ha ha ha. So yeah, I am in a good place in life.

And on Thursday, the old grandpa type across the street. This older gentleman, would you believe literally nobody in the whole neighborhood likes this man. : ( They all say he's a mean old grouch. However, I adore this guy. I can see the good in him and I can see he has a good heart. I think he's just sadly misunderstood. : ( And by gosh, since we moved in, I have chatted with him and his wife. They are really well travelled people. We do exchange omiyage with them. And he always brings me veggie from his big garden. You know, call me optimistic, I don't mind. But, I just think this man has a great heart and people truly don't see the good in him. Oh well, I do! : ) Anyway, on Thursday, as I was parking my car into it's space. Just came back from the flu shots with the family. Anyway, he comes up and brings me these sweet potatoes. I, Ohhhed and I ahhed. I told him how much I love sweet potatoes, he knows since he brings me them every year. But I said it again, to be polite. He smiled this nice old friendly old grandpa type. I told him how healthy those potatoes looked. And I said I will make sweet potato tempura with them. And yes, when I make it, I will bring him back some fresh sweet potato tempura for his kindness. And last year I also gave them some homemade pumpkin pie as well. Ha ha ha. Anyway that is my little story about the man across the street, and I've spoken about him before on here but he's great. Sure I suppose it would be easier to join in the mob mentality of the neighborhood and just not like the poor guy for absolutely no reason! But why? I wouldn't want anyone to unjustly judge me or treat me like that, so I could never do that to another human being either, that's just not my style I guess.: ) And besides, I can make up my own mind if a person is a good person or not. And I can tell if there's a good kind heart in there and make up my own mind. That is the fairest way after all, right? : ) So anyway yeah, a wonderful sweet potato gift from the elderly misunderstood man across the street! They really are so wonderful! And I'm glad I found that out for myself 3 years ago when we moved and built our home here. : ) Aww, yes I know, I am sappy, I am sentimental. What can I say! : ) Anyway you guys.....please have a very Happy Halloween!!! And have a lovely and wonderful weekend as well!!! : )

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Family bowling, The Hard Rock Cafe, Care package from Denver with Sex and the City, the movie DVD, flu shots and more! : )

On Sunday morning, while I was drinking my first cup of coffee of the morning. Branden unwrapped his birthday gifts, from us, grandpa, grandma, and grandma Mitsuko. It was just a quiet little unwrapping and just a few presents, but he still felt really happy that his birthday was finally here. "I'm 7 years old today" I'm 7 years old today" "Guess how old I am today?" (Obviously we know, lol since we are his parents) I said..."how old?" I'm 7! Wow B, that's fantastic, 7 whole years! Kids!!!! The joy of a birthday through a kids eyes. It just warms my heart honestly. : )

Wildly unwrapping and so excited. Noah meanwhile was such a little trooper. At 3 years of age. Yes he badly wanted to unwrap a present. But he knew it wasn't his day. So he looked on and he clapped and ohh'ed and ahh'ed for his brother instead. : )

A dark picture, no flash, darn it. But I am sharing it because, Branden had 1 last present. It was only clothes but it didn't matter. He told Noah, "go ahead you can open it" I told Branden, "it's okay it's your birthday he can wait until his birthday next July" No worries B. Yet he insisted. Branden said, I know, but I really don't mind mommy...besides he's my brother and I know he wants to open one. It's okay, he assured Noboru and I. I said.....well....okay....if you are sure then. And Noah opened it. When he was finished he had the biggest smile. I thought, how....Branden is a very considerate child. He didn't have to do that. Yet he did. He's going to make a very considerate husband in about 20 years or so. : )
On Sunday, after the presents, the door bell rang. It was the mail man. Delivering a package.
Even though, the boys and our family already has a heaping amount of yummy American Halloween candy and chocolates, that I bought in Guam last month. My dad went ahead and sent the boys a big box full of all sorts of assorted stuff. Nearly every kind of treat is in here. What a fantastic and thoughtful grandpa he is! : )

Also, funny, I had been wanting this DVD forever! When I was in Denver it was not for sale yet. And when I was in Guam last month, would you believe, it was for sale the day after I left Guam? Doesn't that just figure? Isn't that the way it always goes though? Ha ha ha. Grumble, grumble. So, I didn't get it, because I couldn't, it was not available. Since my dad and I email daily and talk via Skype a few times a week. He knew I wanted that DVD. He offered to send it to me....twice! I said, nah, it's okay. I can get it myself whenever. Don't put yourself out or to any trouble, I said. He said no trouble at all. And I still declined. So, a month has passed now. And the DVD was long forgotten by now. Though I still planned to buy it my next chance. Anyway my dad called me last week to say, he was sending the boys a box of Halloween treats. I said thank you. And he said, I threw a little something in the box for you. I thought, he might have sent me some chocolate for Halloween or something. I really had no idea. So when the box came on Sunday, I opened it and showed the boys, and at the bottom of the box was a Sex and the City, The movie DVD, especially for me. I got very excited. Emailed my dad right away and could not believe his thoughtfulness. : ) What a wonderful dad and grandpa you are. And thank you for the DVD from the bottom of my heart, I have watched it twice since I got it on Sunday! : )

We went and had a family bowling evening on Sunday for part of B's birthday. Funny...Noboru's and my first ever date was at a bowling alley. We met at uni and flirted back and forth for quite a while, but when we finally got around to a date, we couldn't think of where to go, so we ended up bowling. Ha ha ha. And here 11 or so odd years later, we were back at a bowling alley but with our 2 son's.

Neither Branden and Noah had ever been bowling before. They loved it!

They actually both knocked quite a few pins down. But they still need lots and lots of practice. Ha ha ha. : )

Yay, here's Noah knocking down some pins! : )

Love this rolling the ball between the legs like this, it looks so cute! And no, they offered us gutter guards, but we declined. We wanted them to try it this way.

Look at his expression, geeze was this a real nail biter or what? Ha ha ha. : )
This was a good ball, he actually knocked down quite a bit of pins with this one. : ) Oh and I just got to say this. Noah rolls his ball down *so* slow. I mean beyond freakishly slow. We are talking near Guinness book of world records type slow. I mean, like you could go, bake a cake, let it cool and frost it and the ball would be still rolling by the time you finish. Ha ha ha. The ball rolled so slow, that it actually stopped in mid roll one time and, the man had to come and roll it down. We were cracking up so hard over that! But we all had a fabulous time bowling! And we totally will be going back in the future! : )

Our Sunday at Hard Rock, Branden's birthday dinner. : ) First we had to kick things off with nachos. A laid back family munching nachos. Oh yeah, a very nice Sunday indeed. Oh and I have to say it here. Out of all the days. The Hard Rock Cafe costume party was on October 26th. Go figure, we showed up for B's birthday and everyone, staff and everyone all decked out in costume! We loved that so much! Our waitress for example was a Pirate. Arghhh aye there matey!!! Ha ha ha, sorry I am not so good at Pirate speak, lol! : ) Another waitress was a vampire. But I'm thinking she was going more for the whole, sex pot vampire look, ha ha ha. : ) And even a few customers were wearing costume. One Japanese lady and I swear to you....normal conservative black hair and everythign, suit and all, came in to dine with her girl friend. And 3 minutes after sitting in the seat, she ripped out a bright red clown curly wig out of her purse and wore it. I thought it was cool and right on for her getting into the spirit like that! Oh and then....this Japanese man, with the biggest afro walked to the bathroom, I saw him and I was shocked. Because his fro' was so huge you guys, he could barely get in the bathroom door, I am kidding you not. It was not normal afro size. It was like 8 afros put together size. It was like comedic effect type big! It was the most massive fro I ever saw! Probably 100cm wide type big, so big, it swayed on his head, side to side, when he walked type big. We had the best time being there. And you year I might dress up and the kids and we might go again! : )

I had the chicken fajita dinner. Man was that good!
Branden had the kids cheeseburger and Noboru had the massive sized cheeseburger and fries. : )

Noah had the chicken strips meal.
And then, they announced to the whole restaurant it was Branden's birthday. The entire restaurant and customers, and afro wearing patrons, and Pirate and vampire wait staff and more, just everyone really. Sang and clapped. They brought out the complimentary cake and ice cream. With sparkler. It was an awesome and fun way to spend his Birthday dinner. : )
We went home, and I pulled out the birthday cake that I baked for Branden, we lit the 7 candles. And we sang Happy Birthday. You know it was a nice and quiet little family birthday. The 4 of us headed to Disneyland last week for part of his birthday present and today, he unwrapped his presents, we went bowling and then we went to enjoy dinner at the Hard Rock cafe, and even went home to enjoy some yellow cake, choco frosting and vanilla ice cream. It was a low key birthday, like always but a really nice birthday nonetheless. : ) And our birthday cups and plates came from the Daiso/100 yen shop. So, right on for that too. : )

Cake and ice cream. And after his shower and bath, and when he was tucked in bed with jammies on and everything, he told me, "mommy this was the best birthday ever." I was really surprised he had said that. But really happy he said that at the same time.

On Monday of this week, I baked a pasta, chicken and mushroom gratin for my family. It was a nice piping hot and yummy dinner. We had it with a nice fresh loaf of french bread from the bakery with some butter. So gratin and some bread and butter was our supper this Monday. Just really simple. Also, this week so far we haven't gotten any rain but the weather has dropped in coldness though from last week. I can tell, when I leave the house in the mornings, I can feel that bit of crisp chill in the air. Brrr! So staying indoors is what we have been doing for the most part.

Also, I have been hooked on this TV show. Has anybody been watching? It's called, Perfect Housewife, it is hosted by Anthea Turner. It is a British reality TV show and it's fabulous! The host Anthea Turner coaches two housewives each week who have difficulties running their home, by giving tips in the art of housekeeping, homemaking and also with hostessing. I am pretty sure this show has run it's course in the UK already, but I really like this show a lot. I find Anthea really cute and well intentioned. She's helpful and this show is so much fun! I have been watching this since it started in Japan about a few weeks ago. I love the 2 naughty or delinquent housewives too, they always crack me up!
This is Anthea, she's really quite pretty. Also, I am sure I saw her on another reality TV too before. A makeover type show.

Look at this lady's room? Anthea went into her house and helped her clean up!
This room was actually a lady's garage that she couldn't get into for years! LOL. I enjoy this show a lot. Because, while I think I am a good housewife. I most certainly do NOT think I am a perfect housewife at all. Not even close. Anthea is so good, she has labels in her linen closets, for her towels, etc (maybe someday I'll give that a shot, who knows). I could never be like her or do everything she does and have no desire to be (because there just aren't enough hours in the day), but I watch every week in awe and go wow, she does give inspiration though! Ha ha ha. Meanwhile the housewives needing the help, I am not like them either. Many of them have just too much clutter, so much dirt and grime, that I just watch them in awe, as well. Anyway, I guess I just enjoy this show. : )

A pic taken yesterday. This picture was taken on Tuesday after school. After Branden and Genki and Kouki rode their bikes like crazy throughout the neighborhood. Genki and B and Noah resorted to the privacy of our backyard and played DS games yesterday until 5 pm. Meanwhile I was in the house preparing for supper. Taco night for us.

When the bell rang throughout the neighborhood at 5pm, Genki left and got on his bike and rode home and I waved him good bye and asked him to ride safely home (he only lives less then 2 minutes away but still, ha ha ha). Meanwhile Branden and Noah put their bikes into the shed for the night. They came in and washed their hands. See the time, 5:07 pm. And dinner was ready to go.

Tacos. Once a month or once every 2 month's sure hits the spot. : )

Last nights dinner. Really simple but man was it good.

Last week, I prepared so many good things for supper. Yet often a lot of time, I just don't get the chance to take pictures or if I do somehow manage to take a picture, I don't have the time to blog it. Like take, this chicken from last week. When we went to Chiba New town for B's Gap stuff, remember that? Well, we also went to the store near there and bought a whole chicken. I had wanted to bake one. So, I did last week. I got many herbs and seasonings and made a herb butter mixture. Rinsed the chicken very well, salted the cavity of the bird.

Rubbed the herb mixture both under the skin and over the skin. That way it would be tender and flavored all the way through. : )

Wrapped it tightly in tin foil, and baked it for an hour with the foil on and an extra 45 min. to an hour with the foil off. That way the skin got nice and crunchy.
I made stuffing. Stove Top is good enough for us! : )

A nice tender bird with a nice crispy skin!

A nice roasted herb chicken, stuffing and mashed potatoes that I made and topped off with some gravy! Ever since we ate this last week, It has really made me look forward to next month's Thanskgiving dinner. I can barely wait! I have all our Thanksgiving fixings already. I will just order the turkey and the rolls online in a few weeks. To make sure that we get ours before they run out. Because though sure, some years they haven't run out... but, you know how the shops are in the Makuhari and Tokyo areas, they really can run out. Ha ha ha. What else? I made niku jaga last week and it was such a hit, that my husband has asked me to make it again this week. So, I am making it, this week sometime, yet again. : )
What else? I called the doctor's office yesterday and made an appointment for our family to get their flu shots. So, our appointment is for this Thursday after Branden gets out of school. Noboru and I will get 1 flu shot. And the boys will get their first round on Thursday also. And then we will make an appointment for their second flu shot too. So that is already booked for this Thursday afternoon.Anyway, I think that's it for now, I hope everyone has a wonderful week! : )