Friday, March 26, 2010

Celebrating my birthday! : )

Monday, March 22, was my birthday! Noboru had off work anyway and with it being a holiday in Japan, Branden had off school and Noah was on Spring break anyway. : ) At 8:30am, I was half awake half loving the option to snooze in since it was a no school day for the kids. Anyway I was just being cozy in my bed when Noboru and Branden and Noah walked in and sang...."Happy birthday to you,.... happy birthday dear mommy happy birthday to you." That was a nice way to wake up. I went downstairs, grabbed a cup of coffee. Looked out the big patio window at the beautiful Japanese countryside, rice fields....past my backyard. Then I checked my email. My dad emailed me, A wonderful lovely "happy birthday email", a couple cousins wished me a happy birthday and from my mom, I got a Hallmark birthday e-card and Gap electronic gift card. From hubby I got that Amazon book and dvd order and a big order from Nissen of Summer stuff for me. 2 pairs of shoes (both black sandals, 1 dressy, 1 casual) 1 pair of shorts, 2 pairs of house shorts/comfy terry material. And something else but I forget, besides the order won't ship until May. By then I am sure I might forget what's exactly in the order, detail by detail and then pleasantly be surprised all over again. ; ) I did pretty good for my birthday, I think would be a pretty fair statement. ; ) For dinner, I was thinking, the Outback Steakhouse or Capricciossa. But in the end, I was feeling more in the mood for Italian. So at 4:30pm we headed to the restaurant in Narita city. In the picture, a great big salad. A toasted crusty loaf of bread with olive oil, basil and fresh tomato, so good.
Big delicious deep fried rice ball with melted cheese inside. This alone is reason enough to eat there. ; )
Delicious pizza.
We had 2 extra large servings of pasta. Sodas for us all. They gave us the private room in the back, at our request.
The kids ate, and ate and drank and ate some more.
They brought out cheesecake the raspberry sauce was on the other side, should have taken the picture from that angle, whoops. Orange Sherbet which is Branden's favorite. Chocolate which is Noah's favorite. The desserts are complimentary and free for people having a birthday at our particular Capricciosa, so were the 2 coffees that accompanied the dessert.
That smile right there, is how my husband usually looks. Mr. Smiley husband. : ) But if he knows I am taking his picture he usually gets his typical serious face on. So Japanese style, right. The serious face. ; ) But in real life, he's like this in this pic, happy and smiley. They clapped and sang ,me Happy Birthday yet again. Hmm. I think they probably sang me Happy Birthday about 5 times Monday! Ha ha ha. The wait staff peeked their heads on us periodically to clear plates or to see if we needed anything. At one time when one of the waitresses popped her head in, I was laughing so hard (though we are never loud patrons), literally happy tears coming out the corners of my eyes type laughing. Hubby was laughing so hard. I bet she wondered, "what in the heck are they laughing about in there?" But she smiled and that restaurant really likes us and knows us already. They know we are a happy family. And yup, they heard Noboru clapping and singing me Happy birthday and the kids too. They must think we're silly. : ) We're definitely their fun customers. Not a bunch of grumps that's for sure. And always very polite to the staff always, always always.
Was this my birthday dessert? ; ) I had 1 bite...Noboru had 1 bite. I gave it to the boys. They devoured it. And I absolutely loved watching them enjoy it. : ) I meanwhile sipped my coffee. And after a little chit chat we left.
A very close friend of mine, a yochien mom friend I met back when B was in yochien, our older kids were in the same class, brought me some chou creams about 2 hours before we left to the restaurant. Bliss. It is so nice to know good people, and to have such good friends in this life. Seriously as cliche or lame as it sounds. To have good friends and a good solid family. I feel really blessed. And all week, last week and even up until Sunday, Noboru asked me if I wanted a birthday cake and first year in many years, I said no. Nope, not this year. I was thinking the birthday dessert from the restaurant would be plenty.... but then when a real good friend ended up remembering my birthday earlier in the day, and brought the chou creams called...super chou creams because of their big size. I thanked her a whole bunch of times and waved her goodbye (she had to go but just wanted to drop them off) and we put them in the fridge for later. And there we had it. After we got home from the restaurant, I started some coffee for hubby and I and our family of four had a chou cream. They were huge. Seriously the picture does not do them justice, they were freakishly big chou creams. But so yummy. ; ) And this was the beautiful card my dad sent me. He wrote a very special message for me and put $200.00 inside the card. He said that way, I could buy myself whatever I want. Thanks dad. : ) Anyway, this was my quiet low key birthday this year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beyblade Sunday! ; )

Anyway, before I start with Sunday. Let me finish off Saturday real quick. After we got back from fishing on Saturday, it was about 12:30pm. Kids in our area don't play between 12-1pm that's the lunch hour (even the bell chimes for lunch at noon) The kids had lunch at home and at 1pm Branden and Noah, "boy next door", BND's little brother, the boy who lives 2 houses down, G-kun, A-kun. Hmm that's 7, but I counted 8 kids, so I must be forgetting someone. Anyway there were 8 little boys all playing in our backyard Saturday from 1pm-5pm. I brought drinks out and 8 paper cups, a big bowl of popcorn, and some chocolates, some Easter stuff just a small bowl. All the kids had a great time out there. At 5pm, when the bell rang for the kids to all go home, they did. And Branden and Noah came in and had dinner with us. Saturday was awesome. Anyway so Sunday, we had sort of decided to get both the boys a new beyblade. Because Noah has 3 beyblades. Branden has 4 beyblades. And to us we think that's more then enough. However for example, The boy next door has about 30 beyblades. Yup, the biggest box you ever did see amount. We tell the boys, wait until your birthday or Christmas. Even the kid who lives 2 houses down who's an ichinensei has about 15. We think we're doing what's right for our family. We don't want our kids to be overindulged or anything. Not saying our neighbors are though at all, that's not what I mean. We love our neighbors. But yeah, and with 2 fabulous good students like Branden and Noah are....we started thinking Saturday. You know....we should go and buy them an extra one at least. ; ) So Sunday, we woke up and the boys knew it was the day we were going to find them a beyblade. Beyblade has a huge catalog of "which beyblade is which", which one is rare. There are 2 types at least. One is a defensive type. And the other is an attack type, that is a better one to get. If you wanna battle against the others. Anyway, to make a long story short, we drove to Narita city. Went to the Aeon and they had a whole aisle but the whole aisle was empty, everything that had to do with beyblade totally sold out. So we left and went to Toys r us. And same thing. They had 1 beyblade but it was a defense type meaning not a good fighting beyblade. And that's probably why it was still there and not bought. By now the kids looked crushed. Perhaps we could not find them anything. These are so popular right now. We had one last chance...Ito Yokado.

Again because they're so popular they were having an actual big beyblade battle at the actual Ito Yokado in Narita. About 80 kids and their parents showed up. It was a mad house. We did not know this was going on when we walked in. Boy were we surprised. We went to the beyblade aisle and they surprisingly had a lot of stuff in stock. Not everything but a lot more then the slim pickins' we saw at Aeon and Toys r us.
Oh yeah, also we picked up a banana case for Noah for when he goes back to yochien. Again doing little by little. With getting ready.
Branden got 2 attack type beyblades. He was so happy. ; ) Granted now he has 6 beyblades total which is not much compared to the rest of the kids in our area but he's pretty happy at least. ; )
And inside this bigger bag.
We bought the boys a big square bey stadium. This is their 3rd stadium right now and they were so happy getting this one. They also each got a white bey shooter. All the kids have those around here. Our kids did not and they were only 550 yen or so. So, we thought what the heck...and they each got one of those as well. And Noah got 1 beyblade which is pictured. Beyblades are named after astrological signs like Scorpio, Libra etc. Anyway with the boys getting a bit of beyblade stuff on Sunday they were seriously super happy. We came home and had lunch.
They played outside Sunday afternoon and I baked some cupcakes. For dessert for later.
They played ball.
And even more ball. Then they came in and had dinner. After dinner they went upstairs and played beyblades until bath time. Two happy boys went to sleep perhaps, dreaming about their new beyblades Sunday night. ; )

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saturday's family fishing fun!!! : )

Saturday morning, around 9am, Noboru suggested we go and do some fishing, in the small country-ish city (the same one Noah goes to yochien in) Branden was at school for the last fishing trip, so I said sure, this way all 4 of us could go together this time. We got dressed quickly and left the house by 9:30am. Headed to Mc D's. We each had a breakfast combo/set. Kids had orange juice, and I had hot coffee, Noboru had iced coffee. Everyone had sausage mcmuffins but me, I had the egg mcmuffin. The kids got a vanilla soft cream on the way out and back into the car we went. About 5 minutes later we arrived at the fishing spot.
Unloading the car, grabbed one of the spare blankets we always keep in the car for me to sit on.
Noah holding the tackle box, the smaller one.
Quite a few grandpa types fishing.
Everyone had something to hold. Noah the smaller tackle box, Branden the bucket which we'd throw the fish in. Noboru had the larger tackle box and the senbeis. LOL.
Noah fishing! And see that fisherman behind Noah? And see the other boat closer... that is old and filled with water. Well, obviously the answer is "wading boots", but I asked the kids, how do you think that man got into his boat? They thought of stilts and all sorts of answers. Noboru laughed and I smiled. They pondered that question for a good long while until I told them. ; )
Branden had such a great time! And I bet he can't wait to go on Spring break.
On a nice comfy blanket, I sat and enjoyed my 2 sons and my hubby fish their little hearts out. I watched them. People watched the other fishermen. Some guy was throwing a frisbee and it accidentally fell into the water, watching him try to get it out and yes he did get it out, was also quite interesting. : ) After an hour and a half we left and headed home.
Noah, was it so windy that the wind blew your hat off? Good thing I kept it in my purse for safe keeping! ; )
Branden and Noah each caught 1 tiny fish each. And we released them right back into the river before we headed home. That was Saturday!!!

Major milestone accomplished here, Noah's training wheels came off last week!!!

My gorgeous little boy, we are so proud of you! Last week, your first week of Spring break and dad and I both tried to keep you active. Daddy, was set to take you for a bike ride throughout the neighborhood, just like he does with both of you kids. And he noticed something. You were not using your training wheels. He came into the house and asked me to come outside. He said, Noah's training wheels are not moving and that means he's not using them at all. He took you around the block to make sure and sure enough you were riding on just the 2 wheels and not using the training wheels as a safety net at all. So, he said, I'm going to take his training wheels off. I was scared, typical mom worries about her kids type fears. But after seeing what Noboru was talking about, I could see he was right. So, he went to the shed and got the proper tools and took them off . Those training wheels just lay on the concrete and you got on your bike (which used to belong to your older brother) and off you went. I remembered Branden fell a few times when he had his taken off, so I was somewhat bracing for it. Dreading your fall Noah, but you never did. As odd as it sounds, it's honestly true. You did not fall once. You went back and forth up our quiet country road. And we watched you go back and forth, back and forth. Branden was at Kumon at the time, so this had to have happened last Thursday. I will date it and everything for you. But that's your story of the day your training wheels came off. It is still March and you are technically still a red badge. April 7th is when the new semester begins and so April 7th is the day you will become a pink badge and not a day before. We can't believe it, a red badge and your training wheels came off. Ayumi-chan's mom came out of her house (across the street neighbor) and marvelled and said, she could not believe you were riding a bike without training wheels, she said, you're too young. But she ohh'ed and ahh'ed you, as did we.
And there you went. Zipping back and forth.
You're so amazing!
And with a great big grin and still riding!
And coming back. You rode back and forth for a good hour. And you've been riding just about everyday ever since.
Noboru still wearing gloves from when he took off the training wheels. We could not be prouder. I tell ya kiddo, you're one amazing little boy, age 4 and your training wheels are off already, way to go sweetheart! We are so very very proud of you and your milestone/accomplishment!!! : )

A week full of firsts!!! First backyard BBQ of the year! First week off school for Spring break for Noah! And a few other things! : )

All of this post happened last week. But since we were busy enjoying it so much. I couldn't find the time to post it up. A week delayed but that's okay. This is what we did last Tuesday, Noah's first official day on Spring break. We took him fishing. At a local creek in our town. Tuesday was a lovely day weather wise. The weather forecast said possible chance of rain. It didn't rain all day long. I kept telling my husband, "you watch, if it does rain at all, it will rain right before we have our BBQ" We joked and laughed about it. Hoping it wouldn't happen, but sorta making light of it, if it did. We fished here for about an hour and a half. And it was about an hour and a half before Branden would get off of school. And this creek is pretty close to Branden's school, and the town is so quiet and with so many rice fields at every which way and wide open spaces we can actually hear the school bell chime when the bell rings.
Rice fields behind and the school is actually in the background too. Our house is on the opposite side of the school. Not on this side of the school or on this side where the creek is, we actually live on the opposite side of the school near some other rice fields. Not near this creek. We do live near creeks but not this particular creek. Okay TMI. ; )
Okay I zoomed up a tad. See that nice big modern newly built school sorta elevated? That's Branden's elementary school. It's a really nice elementary school. Central heating and everything. His school is awesome.

Father and son walking down getting ready to get their fishing on!!! ; )
Playing and dancing and happy. And look at that sky behind. Big clouds loomed, we wondered "hmm maybe it will rain after all" Fishing was fun for them. They fished and fished and fished some more. They released a few back before we left. We heard the school bell chime. And we gathered our stuff, hopped in the MPV and drove to the school to pick up Branden. Nothing like the entire family with smiling faces picking you up! B happily got in the car and we headed home. The meat by the way was already sliced and marinating with sauce in the fridge. And the rice cooker had been programmed to have the rice ready at 3pm. So we knew it was just about finished when we got home.
Here's a pic of Noah fishing from last Tuesday!
Noboru loves fishing. Where I enjoy blogging when I have the spare time. That's very much the way my husband feels about fishing. And with so many canals and creeks around where we live, and with an ocean pretty close to us. He's in hog heaven for much of the year regarding his fishing. He fishes with a few of his male coworkers, his buddies. And he also takes the boys when they have off school. I go sometimes. Granted I really don't care for it. I find it pretty boring. But I go because I know it makes him happy. And he never complains when we go shopping and I try on outfit after outfit. Or get sucked into a makeup counter. So if he can go and still smile and not complain I have to do the same too. And I do. : ) And being married since 1997 we are most definitely not newlyweds here. But respect for each other we have always had and sorry if this causes an eye roll so be it, but my husband is my best friend, he really is. ; )
While I clicked this picture, Branden was upstairs changing his school clothes to his house clothes. Noah was also changing into sweatpants. This is a house where we don't put on airs. Sweatpants and long sleeve tees for the kids and hubby. And cropped wide leg black yoga pants with pink 3/4 sleeve shirt and a pony tail for me. Not a stitching of make up on. The meat was marinating for most of the day. We marinate it in the sauce on the right. And we use the sauce on the left as our dunking sauce. The veggies were also lightly marinating in sauce last Tuesday.
And then poof guess what happens. Literally minutes after I pulled the meat from the fridge? Rain! Not a down pour. Not raining cats and dogs. Just a sprinkling. As you can see the few light sprinkles on the patio window. But yup, we were right. It rained for our BBQ! We got a chuckle out of that! And no...it most certainly did not stop our BBQ one bit. : )
Skinless boneless breast meat and I cut off all funky and fatty bits. Charcoal BBQ's give the meat the best flavor. Man this was good.
I had the kids sit down to eat first, I wanted them to eat while it was hot. Noboru had his beef and pork grilling. We use plastic mats when it's just regular meal time and only pull out the cloth ones when it's holiday meals or when company comes over. Shhh. ; ) But for just us, we keep it simple and easy wipe downs of the mats is totally appreciated. Especially for your average night.
Everyone is eating. Talking and eating, talking and eating. We heard every detail of Branden's school day. Right down to what he had for lunch (of course we could read it on the school menu) but getting his version about lunch is always interesting. Some pretty funny stuff happens at lunch time in his class. They do not have lunch in a big lunch room like how we do it in the US. Here, they have lunch in their own individual class. So they eat with just their own class and their own teacher.
Noah looking at his big brother listening and hanging onto every single word. Noboru eating and listening. And me listening and taking one of the last pictures before I put my camera away and enjoyed our private time, our meal time.
My serving. We ate, we dunked we wrapped our meat with flat lettuce leaves. Not iceberg lettuce but a different kind. It was so good.
Now his eyes are fixed on daddy. Noah was now listening to a story from Noboru. Being the youngest in our family he does get to hear a whole heap of stories. Anyway this was my last shot of our BBQ from last Tuesday. We had a fantastic first day of Noah's start of Spring vacation. We fished, we BBQ'ed. It was a pretty great day.
Wednesday morning and Noah does what he usually does on the "weekends only". He's unloading the utensils from the dishwasher. You see, I'm a firm believer that chores are a good thing for kids. Granted we're not talking huge tasks, but tasks all the same. They make kids feel useful and productive. And I've been having them do that since Branden was a little guy. With Branden, when he was 2 years old, I had him start with tidying the shoes in the genkan. Put his toys in the toy box. Those were his 2 main tasks as a wee little 2 year old. Granted sometimes the shoes were not EXACT matches. Sometimes my shoe was paired with Noboru's shoe and we thought...what???? But try he did. And we applauded it. And he got so good, he whipped that genkan into shape like a pro in no time. Fast fwd. And Branden is now 8. I don't have my kids do tons and gobs of chores. I do want them being kids. And I know with all the extra curriculars B does, I don't wanna add extra stress. But chores he does do. Branden's chores are, he vacuums the stairs once a week. He makes his bed every morning. Keeps his room clean. I wash and fold his clothes but I place his clean folded clothes on his bed everyday and his chore is to put his clean clothes into the appropriate drawer, obviously I hang the hanging stuff. He also sets the bath at night. Granted we have buttons to turn the bath on from downstairs too. But rolling the bath cover on top and stuff he runs up and does every night in the colder months. And this is basically it. Not huge gobs of stuff but just enough to make him responsible. And he is. Now what are Noah's jobs? Well, when Noah was age 2, I had him start with the same job I started B with. Fixing the genkan everyday. And even at age 4, this is still Noah's daily chore. Every morning and every evening he fixes the shoes in the genkan. Our shoes are always straight and orderly thanks to Noah. Noah's other chore is, he has to put his clean clothes away into the appropriate drawers too. I place Noah's clean clothes on Noah's bed every day and when he comes back from school, he puts his underwear and undershirts in his underwear and his undershirt drawer. His shirts in his shirt drawer and his pants in his pants drawer and his sweatpants in his sweatpant drawer which is also his PJ drawer and so on. I watch and I sit on his bed and still watch but I be darned he gets it right and he does it and I am so proud of my son for doing this. He's growing into a wonderful responsible little boy. Granted I hang all his clothes that need to be hung. But helping out, he does do. Noah also is responsible for keeping his room clean meaning his toys have to go back into his toy box when he's done playing with them. Granted he's not perfect and I can tell you, I have stepped on my fair share of lego or train track to kill my foot! And have me limping ouch ouch ouch. I vacuum their rooms daily, wash their bedding weekly, keep their windows in the bedrooms sparkly clean. And the furniture dusted. All Noah has to do, is make sure his toys go into the toy box and his clothes go into the correct drawers. And he does. he's still in training. ; ) But he's doing fantastic. I also make sure Noah is the one who unpacks his obento when he gets home from yochien everyday in the afternoons and I am always standing by in case he needs my help. And he leaves it on the green counter for me every day. And I clap and whatnot. Well done Noah. And I go upstairs and make sure he takes all his yochien stuff off and get his stuff put away. He's really trying hard. And he's a good kid. What's in this picture? Well, on the weekends, I ask the kids to unload something in the dishwasher. Granted I do 95% of it but I do want them to help. Noah unloads the utensils every Saturday and Sunday. Not sharp knives and stuff, just forks, spoons, butter knives. And Branden unloads all the kids plates. They both do this every weekend. And I do the rest. With Spring break now in effect, Noah is now unloading the utensils everyday now. And Branden as soon as he gets off for his Spring break will be doing the kids plates daily as well. Good kids. Good good kids. And they do like helping out. It gives them a sense of pride and confidence that they can do stuff. ; )
Well done my son!!! You know which spot the kids spoons go, where the adult forks go, kids forks, and whatnot. What a good sweet kid you are! A very helpful boy!
And wanting to keep my boy a bit active, on his 2nd day off school. We baked a banana bread last Wednesday with 3 overripe bananas. Which made this bread so sweet and delicious. And Noah was taking a pic with Noboru's old cell, it still works, granted it can't make calls, but Noah charges it daily and the camera works and whatnot. ; )
About to mash those bananas.
Creamy smooth batter and about to add some pecans.
And done! You baked a very delicious banana bread my little cutie pie!
And right before we went to go and pick up Branden. I had Noah help make some lemonade. I had him shake the bottle. I said....shake, shake shake. Shake, shake shake. And he did!

All in all, Noah enjoyed his first week off last week. He was off from last Monday at 11:30am. That's when his Spring break began. He fished, he enjoyed BBQ. He baked banana bread with mommy. We did laundry together. Another day, we went out in the backyard together and we played kick ball with each other. I loved that! We had so much fun doing that. We've worked on some flash cards. The # cards. he can count 1-100 in English and Japanese (I should have him learn 100-200 during Spring break). I have an animal flashcard deck as well and he can say them all in English obviously and 90% of them in Japanese. Like monkey and horse and stuff he knows in Japanese, easily. But for words like camel and armadillo in Japanese he forgets. But we're getting there. The phonics cards he loves. We also took time to enjoy lunch together everyday. And we also had down time of just vegging out together watching Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny. He is also aware he will be starting Kumon this year and he is okay with it. He knows that Branden will be in the actual same classroom with him so that's going to be nice and totally reassuring to have big brother sitting nearby. I also will be sitting in the classroom for probably the first 2 weeks until he gets used to it. Sitting on the parents seats toward the back quietly reading a book. I'm thinking sometime in April, May or June. Anyway that's what Noah did last week for his first week off Spring break. I will also be blogging Branden's Spring break as well, as soon as it starts though.

Let me give you some dates: Branden's last day of school is March 24th. March 23rd and March 24th are half days for Branden. He has already brought everything home already for the most part. Pianica is here at the house, his crayons, all his books.

The boys start school: Branden returns April 5th and Noah returns April 7th. So they will be out of school quite a bit and the rest and relaxation is going to do us all a world of good. They still have swimming though. That's year round and they both love it. We are still greatly wondering who will be Branden's 3rd grade teacher. Man or woman, nice or mean. We don't know. And half of his class will be split into another class. There are 20 kids in the ninensei #1 class and 20 kids in the ninensei #2 class (B's class) And this year, they will get 10 from each class. So it will still be 20 in each but they will be mixed from the 2 classes. Just when the kids are so used to each other have bonded for 2 years, eaten together daily 5 days a week. Etc etc. They will be split up. And the other classes parents we really don't know all that well and they really don't know us either. Talk about being taken out of your comfort zone. ; ) Granted, will we survive? Obviously, yes we all will. But it doesn't help the wondering and bit of butterflies we're all feeling. Either way, I'll blog it and that way you can all go through it with me, even by just virtually going through it with me. I'll feel, I'm not alone with you all reading and rooting us on. ; ) Ehhh, but that's not until April and no sense in losing sleep about it now. No sense in worrying about something I needn't worry about yet. In April, I'll let you all know how I'm feeling. ; ) ; )

Anyway you guys, our family had another first last week. It's a pretty big milestone as kids go. Noah had his training wheels taken off last week. I was going to put that at the end of this post. But you know what. When Branden had his training wheels taken off, I created a post especially for that. And I felt somehow horrible or bad if I would have put that major milestone for my youngest on the end of this post. So, I think the right thing to do, is to do the same that I did for B. And create a post highlighting just that very subject. About Noah's training wheels being taken off. So that's what I'm gonna do. That post will be coming shortly.