Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas in pictures! The great big end of year clean up in Japan before New Years. And ringing in the New Year!

Christmas morning at our house. I woke up first and was having a cup of hot coffee in the kitchen quietly waiting for the kids to wake up. I also had a batch of blueberry muffins mixed in a bowl and also a muffin tin with lining papers all waiting for when they woke up and an already preheated oven. So I could throw them in the oven. I could hear when they woke up. One ran into the others room and they came barreling down the stairs. I was by now sitting on the living room floor waiting for my boys reactions. Lots of OMG...OMG from Noah. And many a sweet..... I can't believe its, from Noah as well! Needless to say he was a very happy little boy Christmas morning. Branden as well. Finding his much anticipated and wished for beyblades from Santa. Was pretty great. Noboru and I enjoyed watching the boys unwrap their gifts. There was plenty of laughter and chatter here at ours Christmas morning.
I also unwrapped my gifts and Noboru unwrapped his as well. We picked up all the wrapping paper after and threw it in the trash can. I left the kids playing with their things while I went to the kitchen to throw in the muffins. Noboru was meanwhile going over the Wii manual. And setting that up. And by then the muffins were done, a light butter on top. And I brought this plate to the living room and everyone ate. The kids had milk. And Noboru and I had ours with coffee.
Christmas found us doing many exciting things around the house like...outside watching Noah ride his bike. Inside the house and watching the boys play Wii. Setting up our own Mii's, lol. Noboru and I bowled. We also had a kayak race against one another. Both Branden and Noah raced with Mario Carts. We had lunch. And I cut up the chicken for dinner and soaked the chicken parts in salt water all day long.
Christmas dinner at our house. We are pretty casual around here as you know. We had good food and good conversation. It was the perfect way to wind down Christmas.
A huge platter of southern fried chicken, a heap of mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, also stuffing, dinner rolls, salad, drinks (like the strawberry tea pictured) and a Christmas cake. (strawberry with whipped cream frosting and fresh strawberries on top that I made)
The day after Christmas, we got right on with the end of year clean up. I post the big end of year clean up on my blog every year. And same for this year. In Japan, we do a great big clean up before the New Year. Sorta reset everything. Out with the old (or dirty) and in with the new (or clean) So Sunday, all the chairs went outside. That was great so the boys could wipe down the chairs for me outside while I mopped the kitchen floor. I also had to wash the kitchen linens...the table cloth for one. And I also washed the kitchen mats and floor runners. Dish towels, etc.
Everyone in our household helps. If you live here....you help. Even when my kids were little toddling babes, they went to the genkan and helped straighten up the shoes. Sure I had to restraighten after they "helped" but they did like helping. Here they are cleaning any spots off the wall.
And I meanwhile after the floor dried, I cleaned the big patio window, inside and out.
Windows sills I got. Meanwhile both Branden and Noah wiped down the baseboards for me. And this wasn't like glum work. This was happy work. Everyone in Japan does this at the end of the year. Their friends across the street were also cleaning. We had music on in the kitchen. We were singing, swaying to the music while we cleaned. So it was fun. Meanwhile Noboru was outside taking all the Christmas lights down.
Every nook, every cranny got cleaned and wiped down.
Noboru working so hard outside. We all had a job to do. : )
See the table cloth fresh and clean drying along the fence and all the kitchen mats. Our neighbor granny next door and I chatted throughout the day because she was cleaning and so was I. She also chatted with Noboru who was on the front porch taking down the lights.
Kitchen towels drying and a load of jeans drying too.
The whole fridge got the super big clean down! So did the oven and the dishwasher. You name it, we washed it. Sunday was the kitchen and when we were done we called it a day. Monday however....was living room day.
If it was in the living room, it was going to get the scrub down. I vacuumed under the couch cushions. Under the couch. Dusted everything. Cleaned windows, window sils. The boys did the baseboards again, thanks boys. Noah fixed up the genkan. The boys wiped down any spots on the walls. I cleaned the big patio window in the living room inside and out. Cleaned the downstairs toilet. Wiped down the computer area in the living room. If it had anything to do with living room, it was sparkling by the end of Monday.
I not only vacuumed the area rug but also underneath the area rug.
Every couch cushion went outside. In Japan we believe things get fluffier in the sun. And all I can tell you is the couch cushions got so fat by the time we brought them into the house at the end of the day.
Every hour or so, either Branden or Noah or myself would whack each cushion with the futon stick.
Every pillow in the entire house also went outside.

Now on Tuesday it was vacuum the stairs for Branden. Man these kids helped me tons all week. Right on these helpful kids! Good kids, good kids seriously. And on Tuesday I cleaned and scoured down the laundry room, the sink room and the toilet upstairs and the shower area. I also rearranged the furniture and bed in Noah's room yet again and called it a day Tuesday. Now Wednesday....was wash all the bedding for all 3 beds. I stripped down all the beds. And to the laundry mat we went.
For all the bedding we used 1 huge washer, it was seriously gigantic. And for the dryer we used 2 dryers. All the clothes were so soft and smelled amazing afterwards. The helpful boys and myself went home and made all the beds upstairs on Wednesday. Finished cleaning those bedrooms and my walk in closet got a good thorough cleaning as well. By Wednesday I was pretty much basically done for the great big end of year clean up. I felt really good about that. You know don't laugh, but I really and honestly love this tradition we have in Japan about the big year end clean up. I don't like to ring in a new year in a dirty or cluttered house. So I do really like the tradition of a clean house for a new year. : )
Wednesday evening the boys playing the Wii. And they did play Wii everyday. So though they helped me tons by helping around the house. They did get plenty of play time and even played with their friends twice this week too.
Super Mario Bros.
We've still been renting movies. The boys watched, "How To Train Your Dragon" this week. And Noboru and I watched Inception.
I meanwhile have been doing the "Your Shape" and I love it. I honestly really love this. You know, I have the Shred dvd, I have the other Jillian Michaels dvd as well. And the Billy's Bootcamp. And while they're all really good. I feel for me personally this is the one. I like that I have someone there while I workout. Someone cheering me on all the way (for me I'll be honest I need that motivation, I just honestly do because I can be a lazy exerciser, I admit it). And for me, I hate working out in general anyways but I do know I need it. I like that Jenny grades my workout after every time. Whether I do great or not so great, she finds something positive to say. This is a scan of myself. And she tells me what she thinks I need to work on. So I get a workout made just for me.
My shape level, is a grade B after the body scan and my workout. If I would have guessed my own fitness, I would have guessed a D? But then it proves how much harder I am on myself. So, this sort of helps me see more clearly and not be too hard on myself.
I have been doing this daily. Though she lets you pick what days you do this. So, one of the mornings, I signed in and before she decided my workout for the day, she asked me...."how are you?" Your choice to answer back were..... Nothing can stop me....not too bad....or ehhh, "you're lucky I'm here" That particular day, I said..."you're lucky I'm here"!!!! LOL. And she said, fair enough. And she gave me a great but hard cardio for 15 minutes. She ended by telling me, I gave you a good workout but not an impossible one. She had me do enough but not so much I won't keep coming back. Everyday the exercises are different. The songs are different. I did my workout to Rhianna's Umbrella and a few others yesterday. I don't feel like I'm doing all my exercises all alone. I feel like I have a coach slash workout partner. And when you workout, you see your real self on the camera not a cartoon you, the real you on the camera. Anyway...I am really enjoying the Your Shape quite a bit.
What else, in between cleaning and such. I also ran to do the weekly shopping. I went on Thursday because I wanted to get the freshest food possible before New years without going the busy day before on actual New Years eve. I went to the tiny cheap veggie store near Noah's yochien. And they had all the fresh mikan you can fit in this plastic bag for 138 yen. I debated...should I go for it? Or not. I finally thought heck ya. So, there I went stuffing as many as I could. I was quite happy to get this great deal.
A nice big bowl of fresh sweet mikans. Bought lots of veggies and 4 kg of chicken, some pork and other meats. Drinks and a few other odds and ends and left.
Thursday night I had make pork green chili, spanish rice and beans. Sorry, we had already served ourselves and the pic is not really pretty but it's real. We're just your basic family here and this gives you an idea of what we had at least. ; )
I had boiled a big batch and then refried a big batch of beans. We had burritos and green chili and such Thursday evening. And we had plenty for Friday too which was nice. In Japan lots of my Japanese lady friends, after all that busy cleaning, take a rest for New Years. Eat sushi or other things. Or they order osechi. They deserve a break from cooking after all that cleaning let me tell ya. ; ) And I'm no different. By the time Friday rolled around, December 31st. I was thrilled knowing we had a spic and span house. And would be having leftovers for New Years eve meal. Nobody minds here and all and frankly we'd all like to take a rest and ring in the New year quietly and relaxing. I did however bake a homemade cheesecake New years eve evening and the boys and I also made a batch of rice krispie treats. After we enjoyed dinner.
Homemade burritos smothered in pork green chili. Yummm!
Also Friday morning after my workout on the Wii. I ran to the bakery. Bought 2 fresh baguettes of bread for the lasagna and salad that we will be having for our January 1st dinner. And some fresh baked goods for the family to enjoy and munch Friday afternoon.
Also, Noah was tested and is now a #12. We are so proud of you little one! : ) The best part for any kid helping in the kitchen is the licking the spoon or beaters. Here they helped munch off some extra rice krispie treats off the spoon.
Noah also got a turn.
Helping mix the cheesecake filling.
And Branden mixed the cheesecake mixture too.
We watched the Japanese New years specials on TV while the kids were awake and enjoyed those. And then when the kids zonked out, we put them upstairs to bed. We then channel surfed and we found they had on some scary TV specials on satellite. Called the Haunting. How there's a spirit or what have you in a house and how their animals knew. Like a cat hissing all of a sudden made this lady think, wow something could be in here. Or how a family were sitting watching TV and easter eggs started falling on the kitchen floor all by themselves. @_@ Noboru and I rung in the NY, by scaring ourselves silly watching The Haunting. They had back to back episodes all evening long. So we enjoyed that. A nice quiet way to ring in the New Year at home. Kids tucked in bed and us downstairs just relaxing. Anyway that was what our family has been up to, after Christmas and all this week leading up to New Years. : ) Happy New years everyone.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from our family here in Chiba Japan! : )

Twas the night before Christmas....; )

Anyway both Branden and Noah are snuggly buggly in their beds. Probably dreaming of Santa and all the surprises that await them tomorrow morning. Noboru should be here any second. So, I want to get this posted real quick. Before we both go out to the MPV and bring in the bike and wrap the beyblades. I've got the hot water pot heating up as I type about to have a pumpkin coffee and hopefully finish this last minute stuff and off to bed myself shortly. Noboru also has some cookies and milk to drink before he hits the hay. ; ) Merry Christmas to you all and Happy Holidays!!! : )
Edited to add: All set up...Santa *ahem* came and left these for Branden and Noah. ; ) I think both the boys are going to be so happy tomorrow morning. Noah especially when he wakes up and sees his very own bike. He's going to faint! It's going to give me the greatest joy seeing how happy they both are! Honestly. Anyway, good night everyone and happy holidays. : )

Christmas Guam trip 2010! : )

Our arrival at the hotel. Delta and the Hilton Guam's contract is up and the Hilton lost the bid in November. So, our new contract, meaning Delta's is at the Sheraton in Guam. So from now until a few years all the flight crew meaning..the pilots, flight attendants, employees and us family will now be staying at the Sheraton. So as part of the Delta family, we will now for the duration of the new contract be staying at the Sheraton while on Guam. which is great because everyone is saying how luxurious the Sheraton is so....we'll see. Anyway what that has to do with anything at the moment I don't know. Perhaps I'm babbling..because it's late and I am staying awake for Noboru to get home so we can do our last minute present wrappings. ; ) Anyway from now on we'll be at the Sheraton. But for now...this trip we decided to stay at the Fiesta. They offer an airline discount (most hotels do with valid airline ID). It was cheap but staying at our contracted hotel will always be cheapest. But anyway....we decided to try the Fiesta this time. And we really liked it. This was our room. Very big spacious. We asked for the ocean view room.
Very spacious...felt really open.
They have only 8 floors and we got the 7th floor so we were quite high up and the view was honestly amazing.
The whole place was so modern. Look at that cool sink. Totally a see through sink and counter. It had a fridge in each of the rooms. Same as the Hilton, so we kept our drinks in there. Noboru and his Mountain Dew and me and my lemonade. Kids had water or juice.
The main rode decorated for the holidays it was lit at night.
After we arrived, we walk quite fast so we lost track of my bil. And in fact didn't see him the whole trip. Which was okay.....they were busy and so were we. Our rental car guy was waiting for us....picked us up, we went back to the rental place and signed papers and went to the hotel, checked in changed clothes and in like no time at all we were at the Micronesia Mall...I had my eyebrow wax first. Then we had lunch. Noboru had Taco Bell so did Noah. And Branden and I both had KFC. I wanted 1 piece of chicken and a side of mashed potatoes so the lady gave me a kids meal and a toy. @_@ I haven't had a toy in forever! I'll give my toy to the kids. lol. I'll just put it in the toy box.
After lunch we went to the Game Stop. They had used Wii's for $110, which is a great deal. In fact if it were just hubby and myself we'd have gotten the used one. But with it being Christmas and a present we got the new one. The store was packed to the gills. Seriously the check out line was insane. Good thing for me...I had researched this Wii stuff forever and a day online. Checked the Yahoo questions site..."what is necessary to own the Wii?" "What's the bare essentials we need to buy and what's unnecessary?" just stuff like that...I checked. But man...phew, we mulled over every decision weeks beforehand so by the time we got there...we were ready.
Sunday night...so much accomplished and only the first day. The kids gifts were bought. The Wii and rc car. My eyebrow wax done. We did our shopping and Kmart shopping got everything done. Only spent $40 at Cost u less..$60 at Kmart and $40 at Payless. We didn't really go for food stocking up. We mainly just went to Guam to relax and get the Wii. The rest was just spending time with my dad. We went to my dad's condo the first night to pick him up for dinner. We went to Pizza Hut...we had 2 medium pan pizza, breadsticks and super hot buffalo wings. And drink bar. Here's a pic of my dad playing with the boys while we waited for our pizza. Look at Noah and B's smile....they love my dad so much. Told my dad we were done...got everything accomplished. And so we sat eating dinner relaxing. Dropped off my dad and went back to the hotel. We all took turns showering. And then watched TV for the rest of the night.

When we got back from Pizza Hut...and about to relax for the night. Noah came onto the balcony so I think you can hear me say hello to him. And I believe B and Noboru just got out of the shower.
Pic from the balcony.
What an amazing view from our room.

Do you ever wake up before the rest of your family? Sorta just have that quiet little time to yourself? I do too. I do this at home and also on vacation. Just that little 10-20 minutes of quiet time and while on vacation the people watching does wonders for me really.
Noah the sleepy head. ; )

A very nice balcony.
Walking to the beach....what a short walk! ; )
A palm tree shadow on Noboru's back. It's these little moments like these that the boys will think about when they're all grown up.
The greenest grass, the clearest water and the whitest sand on the beach. Meanwhile my lemonade on the chair. ; ) Hey swimming can make people thristy and if you swallow salt water you could need a drink asap! So, a lemonade handy is kinda helpful right? ; )
Your memories of the Christmas season as children, right here!
A very casual, very laid back family.
Hi sweet pea and hi kiddo! ; )

Getting ready to spend the entire day at the beach. We collected so many shells.
Noboru helping Noah get his goggles on.
Checking it to make sure he got them on right.
A pat on the back.
And a hand to hold onto.... to walk into the ocean with. Meanwhile B was waiting for me to finish with the pictures so we could go play! We played in the ocean for literally hours.


Branden coming to get mommy! ; )



Noboru splashing both the boys.
And the boys splashing him back!
After about 3 hours spent playing and swimming and splashing about in the ocean and watching beautiful colorful fish swim by us, we spent another 30-40 minutes in the pool.



Branden flipping around having fun.
Noah swimming underwater. The lifeguard after watching both Branden and Noah swimming for quite a while in the pool...he finally said...do they go to swimming school? We said yeah..yeah they do. He said...I thought so. ; ) What a nice lifeguard.
Okay about to leave the beach and pool. Time to rinse your shoes off, which that's what they were doing in this pic. And then upstairs to our hotel to quickly shower and pop on some clothes. And off to have lunch.
Running to mommy! Having so much fun!
All cleaned and quite hungry after all that swimming.
A #1 combo for me, a burrito surpreme and a taco surpreme and a drink. Both the boys had Burger King flame broiled cheeseburgers kids meals. Noboru had Hawaiian for lunch.
They now have a big Chuck E. Cheese's at the GPO now. But we were going to the movies. Besides we had pizza the night before.
They had "snow" whch was really bubbles blowing from the top of the Cold Stone Creamery. My dad held Noah so he could catch some. Branden and I caught some too. ; )
Yahoo movies online gave the new Yogi Bear movie a C or C- but...Tangled got an A. So, we went to see the children's movie Tangled. It was a great movie..for both girls, boys and adults. We had the giant sized popcorn and drinks.
All 5 of us....1 senior, 2 adults and 2 children. ; )
All the palm trees were lit up with lights on the main road (not the greatest pic but you get the idea; ). With illuminated coconuts. A very festive tropical Christmassy atmoshphere. We went back to the hotel and the kids crashed right away. Noboru took a shower and I stayed up watching all the American TV I could. I watched Oprah's favorite things episode...loved it! Watched America's Most Wanted, 48 hours about a real murder mystery, that was sad. : ( I stayed up as long as I could. And then off to sleep I went.
The last day...the day we would be leaving. we went to Wendy's for breakfast. That Applewood smoked bacon...sounded so good to me and the price sounded good to us too. ; )
We ordered 3 applewoood bacon breakfast combos and Noboru had the chicken fried chicken breakfast platter.
The bacons flavor was so good. And so crunchy. I enjoyed my breakfast and so did the kids.
Noboru loved his breakfast too. We ran a few last minute errands spent time with my dad. Ran to Ralph Lauren at DFS, so we could get my dad something for Christmas. A polo shirt with the big pony on it. : ) And then we asked the kids if they'd like to eat anything quickly before we head to the car rental place and off to the airport. They said....Wendy's. Are you sure we said...you went there for breakfast. How about...Subway? Nope they said please. And knowing we'd be leaving shortly we said why not. So back to Wendy's we went. The drive thru this time though.
2 kids happy meals and off we went. It rained right before we left but was lovely and sun shiney the whole time except for the last hour before we left. We had a nice time....enjoyed our time as a family very much. Enjoyed our time with my dad. The trip was so short. But ahh well, at least we got to go, so that's the bright side, I guess. : ) Anyway that was our short, but lovely trip to Guam December/Christmas time 2010! : )