Thursday, January 27, 2011

We're heading to California next month. A few pics of Noah's recent obento/lunches. And a few other bits and pieces thrown in for good measure. : )

We found out Noboru, got his vacation days off, last Friday. But we've just been so busy (looking for a hotel, renting a car etc etc, which thank goodness the hotel has been booked today and car rental done over last weekend) I haven't had time to blog any updates or anything. But seems Noboru and I (by the looks of our passports up above.) Are indeed heading to Los Angeles. And of course the boys, both Branden and Noah as well. Branden has been to Los Angeles only once and Noah has never been so he's excited. : )
We will be there 5 days. Noboru bought a travel book on the area. And lately we've just been trying to decide if we should go to Pinks famous hot dog stand. Or eat Tommy's famous burgers.
Go to Disneyland, or Universal Studios or Six Flags. Considering the cost to get into the park, we will only go to one, so we are trying to decide which one to go to. We'd also like to go to the museum and also Olvera Street if time permits. There's so much to do, we are having a hard time trying to decide what to do and what to skip. That's the tough part. ; )
What else. I baked some Nestle Toll House cookies with pecans for the boys, last Friday. Noboru also loved eating them. I meanwhile am watching what I eat lately. Yet also, I don't really want to deprive myself either. So, I allowed myself one each night after dinner. Just one, not 2 or 3. Just the one. It was good. It fixed my craving and I don't feel deprived.
Also, we watched these dvd's this past weekend with the boys. The remake of the Karate Kid. I still prefer the original, but it was a nice movie. And the other was the Sorcerer's Apprentice with Nicolas Cage.
I also played with my sons this past weekend. I sure do enjoy these kids. They are so fun to be with...spend time with. I am however proud of Branden, not only has he got into the groove of playing Wii bowling, he is now the #1 bowler of the house. He has beaten my high score completely. And now even has ranked as pro bowler and they even gave him a ball with stars on it. : ) Ha ha ha. Yep, he's passed my score and left me in the dust. ; )
Noah also, scoring a 205. His bowling has really improved too. Man kids learn things so quickly don't they?
What else...you know that face wash I bought last week? The pomegranate scent, Naive brand. It really superly dried my face out. : ( Bummer because it smelled so good. Noboru meanwhile said...if you don't like it..I'll take it. ; ) So, he's now using it. And last night he told me, after he got out of the shower, he loves it! Go figure. Now, I am trying this one.
Things we've eaten recently. This past weekend (Saturday) we had kimchi nabe. That was so good. And couple days ago, I think it was, I made chicken curry. I know I made beef curry recently. But my family loves curry. I ask them, how about...cream stew...or beef stew. They always ask for curry. Go figure. So, we enjoyed the chicken curry.
We had this meal last night. A salad with cesar dressing. Karaage, corn and rice. Very simple but very good. All this week, I have been eating a blueberry yogurt. 1 slice of toast and 1 mikan and a cup of coffee. Run the kids to school. Do laundry. Clean house a bit. Do treadmill or exercise dvd or yoga (there's yoga on that Jenny one too) and for lunch I have 2 mikans, and that creamy potato soup by Knorr or the corn potage. Sometimes a small pack of saltines if I'm still hungry. Then run around get the kids. But I do make sure my night time meal is decent sized. I don't want to starve, yet I am trying to be mindful of portion size. It's a struggle. I'm still at it.
And another night we had stuffed shells with ricotta cheese and garlic bread and salad.
Here are some of Noah's obentos lately (from last week and this week). The night we had baked stuffed shells, with garlic bread and salad. Well the next day, I was going to give him stuffed shells. And then I decided to give him canned ravioli instead. An American kids fave. So, I did. I heated it up. Put it into his metal winter obento. Since their school does use an obento warmer and according to Noah his lunch is piping hot at lunch time. Some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. A heated and buttered dinner roll. 2 jellys. And 1 mikan. And get this...Noah kept telling me, "mommy kids are bringing pudding at school now" He brought it up a few times. He's a very honest kid. So, I believed him. But still didn't want to bring something quite possibly not allowed. So, one day last week, I made his lunch but carried the pudding in my hand. I asked the Yayoi sensei that morning. Noah says, pudding is allowed. When Branden went here that stuff wasn't allowed. She said...yes it's okay now. That is allowed pointing at the chocolate pudding cup in my hand. Wow. @_@ I was surprised. Okay then, and I let him take it. And he's been taking them since last week go figure. : )
Another obento. We had yakitori Sunday night I think is when we had that, Noboru had dark meat and we had white meat. So, the next day on Monday, Noah took...yakitori on a bed of white rice, veggie and 2 fries. 2 jellys and 1 chocolate striped pudding cup.
Grilled cheese, fries and veggies. 3 jellys and a mikan.
This mornings obento. Noah took, karaage, corn, 1 lone fry. ; ) Sprinkles and rice. And 1 chocolate pudding cup. Sometimes Noah takes more of a Japanese lunch and sometimes he takes more of an American lunch and sometimes it's like a fusion lunch of both. Ha ha ha. : ) But on the bright side, he'll never get bored with his lunch. : )
I did indeed go to Noah's observation day, however cameras were not allowed for that unfortunately. : ( Bummer. But this is what happened anyway. The condensed version. ; ) Noah and I showed up. I chatted with the Jogo-san outside. Noah meanwhile was switching clothes inside with the others. And we went inside. They took roll call, who's here or who's absent. They did the morning prayer. 2 songs. All the kids sounded so cute singing. All their voices in unison. ; ) And then they wanted us to do an art project with our child. Noah and his best friend H wanted to sit next to one another on the floor. So us mom's sat near each other. And Noah and I did our project. And H and his mom did theirs. And all the other kids sat along the floor someplace, with their plastic mats out and crayons. We rolled paper, taped some stuff. The kids colored. It was fun. All of our hands were blackened from the newspaper and so I had to wash my hands really good afterwards. But it was fun.
Noah made happy bunny faces! ; )
A yochien arts and crafts project. Bunny stilts made from recycled newspaper and a little rope. : ) Anyway, that's a little idea of all the stuff we've been doing around here recently. And now...tomorrow is Friday. Yippy. Can barely wait for the weekend to be here. : )

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Noboru's birthday, Branden's observation day and going to the movies with good friends. : )

Noboru's birthday was January 18th. It was as usual a quiet little family birthday. He got himself a netbook this year (not a notebook, not sure why he chose what he chose but he really likes it ; ). Something he's been thinking about getting. Noah drew him a picture. And Branden bought him some hooks and tackle related things, some nice ones for fishing. And I got him a new fishing pole. So he enjoyed his birthday. And we took him to dinner at Capricciosa for his birthday dinner. A big salad we all shared and a baguette of bread with fresh tomatoes, olive oil and basil. We had cokes and chatted.
Both Branden and Noah enjoying some of the deep fried rice ball with cheese. Noboru and I enjoyed it too.
2 pizza margaritas, one pasta with garlic and tomato. We slowly enjoyed our meal. Talking and laughing. We had the same room in the back for more privacy. That we usually get when there.
Noboru telling the boys a story about when he was little/younger. : )
They brought out his birthday platter for free since we're all registered here for our birthdays on here. A birthday club of some sort. : ) The cokes were also free, for all 4 of us and so were the coffees (2).
Starting to think of his birthday wish! Wish a good one, I said!!! LOL! ; ) Yeah pick something good daddy, Branden said! So with a smile on his face, Noboru thought quickly since the candle was burning quick.
Closed his eyes real tight and then....blew it out and made his wish! What did he wish for? I do not know. In our family we say, if you tell your wish it won't come true. So, he couldn't tell. : )
He took the first bite since it was his birthday and then we all shared.
We let the kids enjoy it for a bit, we meanwhile sat and talked and sipped our coffees watching them.
Noboru enjoyed his birthday very much. He is no longer 38. Now he is 39! : ) Happy birthday Noboru!
What else did we do this week. Let me see. Oh yes, on Tuesday in the day.... was Branden's observation day. I also at the same exact time had a PTA meeting at the yochien. What to do....what to do. I decided the PTA meeting I would not attend because basically no matter what they could always tell me what I missed or give me a copy of the paper.....outline. Or something. And if I needed to participate of course I will. However I decided not showing up for B, would be disappointing for him. So, the meeting I was a no show. But I dropped Noah off at school, packed him a very good lunch. And explained, I will not be at the meeting today, if you see some mommy's going upstairs I will not be there I'll be at Branden's school for observation day. However I will be here for your observation day next week. So not to worry. He said that's okay mommy. I wasn't missing anything for Noah.....just a parents meeting. So, I quickly dropped off Noah, and drove all the way back to my town and to the elementary school I went. I ran up the hill. A good 10 minute run up the hill. @_@. Went into the building, slipped my identification necklace on. Signed in and went to his classroom. I was right on time. Phew! I made it. This was not a typical observation day, like sit at the back of the class and be quiet type. This day was a ''get us parents involved and participate day" @_@ Oh man. I hope I do well I thought. So Branden's class had a big game which was pictured. Think candyland or Monopoly and you are rolling a huge dye and walking on which box you rolled. And there ya go. So, I rolled the dice. went from spot or square to square. Branden was watching me from across the room. he was so proud of me.; ) I was chatting with his classmates. Rolling that huge dice and landing on box to box. And then that was over and I went upstairs. To my surprise. It was "Let's practice English" 2 different classrooms, with 3 games in each. All in English. Yippy I thought. What amazing luck! That's my native language. Piece of cake. And turns out.... it was really really fun. First game, they showed me a covered picture...they took off 1 piece by piece..what is it? I shouted lemon. I was right. Yay! The girls laughed. One of the girls was the girl that lives across the street from us, Ayumi-chan. She was smiling and laughing those girls had quite a lot of fun with me and I them. Then I went to the next game. This time 3 boys were hosting this. Guess the animal..my gosh this is so fun I thought. Alligator...snake....fish....I had a blast. The boys were having fun. Then they got a bit serious. What is *this* they said? A genuine "help me" question. Oh that's a worm...I said. : ) The 4th or 5th grader boys repeated after me, worm! Very good boys! And I moved to the next area. 2 girls and one was my good friend Rumi-san's daughter. This was a feel what's in the box and say it in English game. So, I stuck my hand in the box and said...pencil! LOL. And scarf! The teacher wanted the word muffler but said...yes scarf is okay too. Ha ha ha. ; ) So, I got another one. I was on a roll. And having a ton of fun. Best time I ever had at observation day, honestly.
After hitting a few other classrooms. I went downstairs. I clicked this picture quickly. And I went to tell him, I was heading home. And he said okay. He was very happy I came. And I was also very happy I came. And when he came home that day. Branden told me, as they were walking down the hill that day so many older kids told him....I was speaking to your mom today! He was so excited and happy about that. ; ) Anyway that was my day at Observation day. I went home after that...cleaned house, did laundry. Then swung around to both schools and picked up both Branden and Noah. Came home and we all got ready to go to dinner for Noboru's birthday. Hmm, just realizing that I should have put the birthday post behind this picture wise. So, it's a bit off birthday pics first and observation day pics after. So sorry...they are a bit out of order but you get the idea at least. : )
And then Unstoppable. On Wednesday the Jogo-san and Noriko-san and I went to the movies. They are my very close good friends, I met at yochien years ago. And we enjoy going to movies once/about every 2 months or so. We usually catch the morning matinee and have lunch afterwards. We met up at 9:30am. And the movies start time yesterday was at 10am. The movie, Unstoppable was so good. We were out of the movie by 11:45am and headed to Coco's afterwards. The 3 of us all followed each other in our cars from the movies to the restaurant. Not having to be anywhere until 1:40pm to pick up our kids from school. So, we enjoyed our meal. I had a pasta set/combo with drink bar. Noriko-san had the haposai donburi and drink bar and Jogo-san had the...fried chicken I think and drink bar. I think it was fried chicken I hope I got that right. We enjoyed ourselves and talked and there is always so much to talk about that we talked right up until the second we left. Chatting from subject to subject. I went and picked up Noah after that..came home for about 10 minutes. Just long enough to make sure Noah unpacked his obento stuff, cup, fork and spoon/ohashi set, etc. And in the car we went to pick up Branden. After picking up Branden. We 3 came home. Branden did his homework and Noah did some Kumon Japanese packets he's been working on. And in 30 minutes they were done and went to play and have fun. Keita-kun and another little boy were ringing the doorbell, so the 4 of them went to the backyard to play. They played from 3:30pm-4:50pm. They played and played and played. I meanwhile got dinner going. Fried pork chops, rice a roni and green beans. Simple but good. I also made the kids a side salad. But I did not have any because my lunch at Coco's had salad and 1 salad is enough for me per day. ; ) Anyway that's what we've been up to this week. : )

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tidbits from the week in our neck of the woods! ; )

Things and life are still quiet here as usual at our house, which is a good thing. : ) It seems around here January and February are the coldest months of the year and true to form it's been quite cold here outside lately. Both Branden and Noah are settled and back into their school routines. Last week while the boys were at school. I ran to the cheap veggie store. And then to a meat shop, didn't get so much. Just some great looking beef block for curry on sale. And the marinated ginger pork and some chicken both dark and white for teriyaki chicken for Saturday. Yes I make weekly menus...guilty. ; )
The pork we would have that night...same night I bought it.
And the red block of beef was half off. It was still bright red and fresh so I bought it. And I diced it/cubed it and fried it that same night to have for the following nights curry dinner. So I did use it right away. And was glad to get it half off.
Some yakitori sauce with brown sugar and some curry roux. I didn't buy a whole lot last week because I knew I'd be heading to Hanamasa on Saturday.
Had to buy some face wash last week. It's okay, smells good. Is it like holy grail type greatness? Not really but it's good for now. ; )
I quietly ordered a few things for Spring. Which is funny since it's sorta too cold outside to even be thinking Spring. But anyway. They came and was a little surprised they were too big. I called Noboru upstairs and before I even asked him...what do you think of this? He said...Did you order that in your right size? @_@ I said. I ordered the size I have been ordering the past year or two. He nicely said, honey you need to send it back and get smaller sizes. I tried on the skirt next and same thing. Basically everything had to be sent back and exchanged for a size smaller (I also at first was a little worried... What if....they were sold out in the next smaller size, luckily they didn't... but the skirt was almost sold out, phew good thing I was quick in exchanging it). I usually don't like talking about exercise or what have you on here very much. Because I almost feel like it's a curse the second I type the words..."exercise wise things are good" Bad things exercise wise will surely happen or surely follow...of course I mean only exercise wise, not life in general wise at all, lol.... but yeah next thing you know my exercise mojo goes kaput! And then next thing you know...it was all basically for not. So.... While I have been exercising pretty hard since Christmas. And I even joined Sparkspeople. online. And find it is really helpful. And no I am not listed by my name or by Japan or Denver. I picked some random name like. Mrs ballet slipper or something weird, lol. And I sorta like the anonymity. I like logging on and meeting like minded people. And staying on track. So yeah...it's weird I was really surprised to have to send the clothes back and get a smaller size. Anyway....switching subjects now. ; )
Dinner, from the night I ran to the store for a quick shop for a few days worth. We had salad, ginger pork, steamed broccoli and rice. It was a good basic and quick meal and the kids and Noboru also had miso soup with theirs as well.
What is this? Looks like a red hot mess, right? ; ) It's the red block of beef. I cubed it that night and after it skillet fried I threw it into the crock pot and let it stay over night and all morning the next day.
Last Thursday mornings obento Noah had. Ginger pork, veggie, rice and sprinkles and some peaches and 2 jellys.
I chopped up the veggies after sending both Branden and Noah to school. And then I vacuumed cleaned the house for a good hour. Tossed a load in the washer and into the dryer. And then did my workout for the day the Jenny workout on the Wii. Rested after that for a bit. Skyped my dad.
Then after that turned off the crock pot and poured it into a pan on the stove and boiled it some more. Ran and picked up both kids. Dropped off the kids at Kumon. Ran home, made salad. put the curry roux in and then went back to the Kumon and did a kid pick up. We all came home and enjoyed dinner. It was now freezing cold outside. And the curry would surely hit the spot.
Noboru came home and enjoyed dinner with us. Beef curry, rice and salad and dinner rolls with butter.
Friday morning as I walked downstairs and before I started making the kids their breakfast. I checked the inside/outside temp gauge. A nice comfortable 71 degrees inside our house. Thanks to central heating. And a freezing cold 25 degrees F outside. That's below freezing.
Breakfast eaten Friday morning and Branden driven to school. Rushed back home and started making Noah's Friday obento. I nuked some beef curry. And started quickly making obento.
Beef curry, rice, a dinner roll and some peaches and 2 jellys. I packed Noah's obento in his yochien backpack. Got him dressed and off to school he went. : ) Did my Friday stuff. Load of laundry, vacuuming, bathroom cleanup. Straighten the genkan. And treadmill. Checked and replied emails. And then swung around did the kid pick up from both schools. And Noah has now switched to swimming on Fridays. And Branden meanwhile had a makeup day so he also swam last Friday. So, needless to say....a lot of time was spent at swim club last Friday. But the good thing is both the boys love swimming school. They like to swim. They love meeting up with their school friends at swim school. It's social for them. And they really love it. My TGIF...relax time started rather late. 7pm is when we got back from swim club. We had leftover curry for dinner. Noboru and the kids quickly showered. And I showered after. We all got on our jammies. And played the board game Sorry. Playing a family board game was a great way to start the weekend.
Saturday I got a great sleep in...until 9am. All of us slept in. Sausage and skillet fried potatoes and cheese omelet for the hubby and kids. And veggie and cheese omelet for myself and potatoes and toast and a hot coffee for me. We lazed around. Knowing eventually we'd get around to going to Hanamasa. But ehhh, it being the weekend we weren't in any rush. ; ) I think we finally left the house around noon? Didn't find any shoes at Narita mall we liked. Went to another shop along the way to Hanamasa. And found a pair.

Oh yes let me back up. Across the street form Narita mall is a liquor store. Since Noboru and I don't drink. You'd think why go in there. But they actually have a very large foreign food section. Friends of ours rec'd that place to us last year when they first opened up. Have been enjoying that store ever since.
I needed some pasta sauce.
And some graham crackers. These obviously are not graham crackers though. ; )
So from the international market to the shoe store we went. They had a very large shoe area in the center that said...1990 yen. So under US $20. That's sounded like a pretty good deal. So we looked around for anything cute in there. And found something.
Not bad, we thought. And the price...excellent.
1990 yen. ; )
Noah waiting while we had B try on the shoes and do the walk around. ; )
With shoes in tow (but in the trunk). To Hanamasa we went.
I am a very hmm what's the right word. Cheapskate sounds bad. Hmm. I am a very frugal shopper I guess would be a nicer way of wording that. My husband gives me a certain amount of money every month for groceries and house stuff. And it's my job/responsibility to make the most of it. Get the most food and value from it I can. I take it sorta seriously because well they're depending on me. ; ) We like to eat salads and so I buy my heads of lettuce at the cheap veggie store (local farmers and stuff and fresh veggies) for 88 yen in Winter and 2 for a 100 yen in Summer. Sometimes cheaper. And so on. I enjoy chatting with my elderly neighbors about which store is running this sale or that sale each week. Anyway, so at Hanamasa I got hasbrowns, french fries, brand x, yes but so superly cheap. Frozen green beans and broccoli and I have noticed the tortillas before but wondered if I should buy these to try and see if we like the flavor. LOL. So those are test tortillas. ; ) They make good wraps for obento making. ; )
Trying to find tomato sauces, tomato purees and pastes can be quite the challenge living in Japan. Especially the bigger sizes. When I saw this bottle for 100 yen. The bottle was so huge. And the price so much cheaper then the bottle I usually buy at Cainz. I had to buy it. Label in English this side.
And the other side in Italian. Just sounds so much nicer in Italian then English. ; ) Am still trying to decide what to make with it yet. : )
Mikans and fresh broccoli.
I usually buy my Jasmine tea the Ito en (sp?) brand at a local drug store for 178 yen. This brand x/generic was 125 a bottle. We drink it a lot. It doesn't have sugar. And we like the light flavor. So, at 700 yen a box, it was a good deal. However stuffing these 2 boxes of 12 bottles of tea into my little red car plus the rest of the food was proving quite the challenge espeically with 4 people in there too. We realized we should have brought the MPV instead. Aww well, it will save me in the long run for my month's shopping totals.
All red lean beef. It's sorta sad or funny depending on how you take it. I choose funny. ; ) When the meat guy sees you coming and he starts walking out with his meat cart with wheels from the back with about 30 packs of lean ground beef for me to chose and pick from. I thought holy goodness, did he know what I was coming for or what? Noboru laughed and said, they know you! Expires in March so he wheeled me out the freshest batch they had, he said they ground it fresh this week and keep it in the freezer.
6 of them. They are all bright red and very very lean. But froze in this pic. It's a good month's supply of lean ground beef. Hamburg, cheeseburgers and meatballs are in our near future again. ; ) I thanked the meat guy there and said see you next month again. ; )
A great deal for pork chops for fried pork chop night and 1 whole chicken for roasted chicken.
The pasta sauce and graham crackers. You know I don't really mind spending $20 a month on ground beef if I know we'll use it. And since it's in the freezer it won't go bad plus it's not like it's in there for months on end.... we use it by the end of each month. Or 580 on a whole chicken etc. It will be eaten and I know if the weather gets bad, like snow hits or something we have food in the freezer I can always pull out and make something with. Plus it makes my weekly shopping at Cainz even cheaper. Anyways enough mommy grocery talk for now...
Adidas sneakers on sale. They really were a great deal. We were glad to be home. I got my big things grocery wise I needed to get for the month. And they are now in the freezer. Saturday night it was cooling down. Snow was expected for the next day. We were glad to be home.
I made supper. Noboru's was on the right. Mushrooms on top his chicken thighs. And I meanwhile had a teriyaki type bowl with some steamed veg on the side all white meat for me. The kids had bowls too. Noboru showered with the boys upstairs. I could hear them in the bath. They were laughing and talking loudly and having a good time. I showered and bathed before them.
And after the dishes were cleaning in the dishwasher. And baths were given. We had played 2 rounds of bowling as a family. Branden is pictured here bowling.
A slightly blurry pic of Noboru bowling from last night. He had nothing on his elbow not sure why it looks like he had something on there...he didn't.
I won. Both times again. Gomen again. But the important thing is we all had fun. The kids went to sleep. They had a great day. Good dinner and fun with their parents bowling.
And we woke up to this, this morning! Snow! We rarely ever get snow so it was quite a treat. This was the first snow for us this year/season.
Do you see Noah wiping out here? Ha ha ha. He was running all over the yard happily and then boom blammo! He wiped out! You can actually see him wiping out right here. Poor kiddo. ; )
He was no worse for wear. Noah quickly got up and dusted himself off and got right back to playing again. Yay Noah! ; )
Nothing quite like waking up to an all white backyard. Knowing it would more then likely melt quickly by noon, I let them have at it. So they played and played for a good hour out in the backyard first thing this morning. I enjoyed watching them from inside the house with a hot cup of coffee in hand.
And now...today is Sunday. The sun is shining, the snow has melted and gone away, but the temps are cold outside today still. Thank goodnes I took the pictures before the snow melted. : ) Noboru's at work and will get off at 2pm and be home by 2:30pm. I have Branden's school stuff in the dryer, as I type. No hang drying outside for us today. With this weather. Noah's school stuff will go into the wash next. We're just trying to take things easy here and enjoy the last day of the weekend. Before the school week starts all over again. ; )