Thursday, September 27, 2012

Getting ready for Fall

So when did I order this raincoat? End of August or beginning of September or something like that, I recall I posted a tiny blurb about it and the 30% off we got on it at the time. But it arrived to us in Japan and we love this. Both Branden and Noah have this now in their sizes. And I like that it's lined.
This came also, and I liked the orange writing on this. Both of the boys got this one also.
For whatever reason both Branden and Noah love wearing vests, and the color on this Gap vest is fantastic and it is the "warmest puffy/puffer vest" so like the name says, it is very warm.
I'm lucky in that my dad will forward any Gap/Old Navy packages I have or sometimes he'll save them at his condo if he knows I am coming. We were unsure if I was coming at the start of September (for October) so he sent them on to the boys. Thanks dad! These are Branden's. In this pic is Branden's yellow puffy vest, Branden's yellow rain coat, the light blue long sleeve with gray sleeves and orange writing. A pretty blue stripey shirt and a long sleeved yellow shirt with cool skulls on the sleeves.
These are Noah's things for his leap into the Fall and cooler weather. 1 yellow Gap puffy vest, 1 Gap rain coat, though his stripe yellow and orange one which he *loves* still fits with room to spare, but Noah's Gap raincoat that is pictured is in size 8, so he"ll get usage from this in the future. A long sleeve yellow and navy striped shirt. I liked this so much I went and ordered this shirt in Branden's size, so Branden also now has this same shirt also. The same light blue top with orange writing. And the yellow tee with cool skulls on the sleeves, Noah got this one also. At least 3 long sleeves were a start in the right direction.
When I ordered Branden the striped yellow long sleeve, same as Noah had, I went and ordered this tee for Noah, it's bright and orange and the sleeves and cute.  This already got here too. So 4 long sleeves for Noah so far.
This is the yellow tee they both have from Gap with the skulls on the sleeves.
They each have this one and it goes perfect with the yellow puffer vest! This plus the vest and a pair of jeans will look great this Fall.
Old Navy was selling really great sweaters at the start of September. This one in particular ladies commented most in the comments section at Old Navy. They said it fit great. Yadayada however everyone said this was very close to the one they were selling at J Crew but the J Crew one was for like $90! Or something really expensive. This was like $20 plus the 30% off coupon I used. So, I jumped on it. And I am so glad I did, because they're all sold out now but I am glad I have mine. This will look great with a great pair of jeans and maybe my navy blue New Balance sneakers. Perhaps this will be what I wear to Disney. Who knows. But I love this sweater, it's very current for right now. I think I'll be wearing this a lot this Fall and Winter.
You know, I am a mom, mornings are less hectic now that both Branden and Noah are in the same school. But, I'm still busy in the day, and throwing this on with a pair of yoga pants in the morning so I can take them to school. Or on a lazy weekend throwing this on with a pair of jeans and maybe us all heading to the movies or to Hanamasa or to lunch or whatnot. Also, most sweatshirts always have hoods for women, I don't mind hoods for the boys. But I was happy to get a ladies sweatshirt minus the hood.
And I bought the same sweatshirt in navy.
The coral Gap sweatshirt and the heart sweater, they look so much cuter not wrapped in the plastic. ; )
Gap boxes. Yay!
I saw these polka dot shoes and I knew they had to be mine. Love these shoes!
Black leather ballet flats from Gap, this leather is so soft.
These shoes are so awesome.
These will go with, leggings, jeggings, skirts and jeans. I can't wait.
Noah's long sleeve orange shirt. Pictured above someplace.
And 1 preppy striped fleece for Branden. Fall, I'm just about ready for you! And remember before the 2nd semester started we went and bought them both socks. And we also bought them some jeans already, Branden got 3 pair so far and Noah 2 pair so far. So, I am starting to be Fall ready clothes wise.
Every Fall they get new sneakers. Last weekend we drove to Chiba New Town/Inzai and picked up some new sneakers for the boys.
They both ended up with Adidas. Plus Noah's orange Asics still fit with room to spare and he has a brand new never worn yellow pair of Asics still hiding in the shoe closet still. Noah's had 2 or 3 pair of orange Asics so far, lol.  Anyway....
I cut the tags off all the long sleeves and I washed them all up on a quick wash before they wear them for the first time.
And then I hung them in their closets and so we have been getting prepared for Fall.
Okay sorry about this lady giving us her sexy pose.; ) Anyway, I have had long hair for the past 10 years, just like this pic.... choppy face framing layers and everything. At home I throw it into a pony tail, but outside I leave it long and down. I have had a few "the Rachel" cuts mixed in from time to time, from Friends which is shoulder length with lots of choppy layers. During these past 10 years but for the most part, it is just really long and pin straight with face framing layers.
Was it 3 or 4 years ago, I saw Katie Holmes new bob and I said well that's different. And I had mine all chopped, this was right before Noah started yochien so this was years ago. It of course grew out. Well derr 4 years it obviously did. : ) Plus my hair grows like a weed anyway. However, my last hair cut was June 2012? Somewhere around there. And I once again had face framing layers and hair straightening. All summer it grew even *more* And fall, is when I usually get my new hair cut, albeit same haircut and same hair straightening. However about 8-10 days before Branden and Noah's undokai, I really started to think...."should I get the same ol' same ol" Or should I chop it all off! That was the question, I had. However flash back to when I was in the 10th grade and I thought, "I should get bangs" instead of thinking it through being so impulsive and young like that and not even going to the salon, I took out the scissors at home and whack! Huge mistake....huge huge! Not only did I not cut them right at all! I decided I look 100% times better *without* bangs! Isn't that so enlightening *after the fact* @_@ Ha! But such is youth. And so, cute little barrettes and pull and stretch my bangs to one side or just headbands galore. I wore headbands or 1 rhinestone barrette to the side to cover the bang butcher job for about 6 months! What did I learn? Think things through, don't be impulsive when it comes to your hair or anything really. So, now I have the good sense I clearly didn't have in the 10th grade when it comes to my hair. And so I said to myself, give it 1 week and if I still want to chop my hair off, then I guess I really do! But no hasty snap decisions! So 8 days before undokai, I wanted to cut my hair. No action just thought it out. 7 days before, still wanted to cut my hair, no action taken. 6 days before the boys undokai and yep still wanted to cut my hair still no action taken. At this point I lightly mention to Noboru, "btw honey I am considering cutting my hair" Day 5, start thinking about I want Katie Holmes bob type short? No. But I do want a change. A sorta big one. I have a hair styles 2012 book, I bought at Tsutaya in January of this year, I forget when exactly. Anyway....I didn't find a single hair cut in the magazine I wanted, figures. : ) Anyway I have been getting our whole family into Fall with clothes and whatnot. Right, so there I was flipping though a ladies clothing catalog here in Japan looking for Fall clothes for myself. And I found the hair cut. Pictured below.
I bought this sweatshirt in navy blue btw, I love it! And it seems in Japan this Fall, "big slouchy" side pockets are "very in" right now. I see them all over at the mall and in different catalogs and you know, I know everyone's different but I persoanlly really like the funky new slouchy side pockets. And the polka dots on this made it very femenine, so anyway I ordered the navy blue polka dot one  and it arrived at my house already with 1 other cute wintery top, sorry the topic is my hair and not the sweatshirt, moving on..... But her hair was exactly what I was looking for....Mine is straight, dead straight like the Katie Holmes pic up above, but the length is longer then Katie's and the length and cut is exactly this but straight like Katie's. And no bangs like Katie Holmes either. It's this ladies hair exactly except mine is straight. So after waiting a good enough time to know I wasn't making a rush decision about my hair, the day after Branden and Noah's undokai, Sunday, I got up, got myself dressed and I drove to the small shopping mall in the city Noah used to go to yochien in, told Noboru and the boys, I'll be back in about an hour or so with a new haircut. I brought this picture talked to the hairstylist in Japanese, he did my hair last June. And he said, alrighty, that is going to be a big change but it's going to turn out great. And so, I opened my book, the John Edwards mistress one...."What Really Happened" By Rielle Hunter.  And I went in for just a basic cut, they shampooed my hair twice once when I arrived and after the cut took place to take any hair bits off from the cut, then he gave me a full blow out and flat ironed it and everything and I paid my 4200 yen and thanked him and left!  Everyone loves my new haircut but everyone is also shocked by how different my hair is, since it used to be pretty long. lol. Noboru said, "wow it's like I have a totally different wife now"" and he laughed. When I talk with my "mom friends" at the shogakko, everyone said, I love it, but wow it is so totally different.  Also, I was used to using a certain amount of shampoo and now I have to use half of the amount I used to use. Anyway, I think I'll keep my hair this length until January and then who knows maybe I'll let it grow out who knows.  But yeah, I got my Fall hair cut. I might go and get a hair straightening in November if I need it, but for now I don't.  And Wednesday of this week, Noboru took the boys to the barber and they both have new hair cuts also. Nice new fresh haircuts. And with "Fall observation day" coming this coming week, as well as Disney also, it is nice everyone has new haircuts.  Hmm, maybe I can wear this navy blue sweatshirt with cute slouchy pockets with jean capris and low top black converse to Disney. Hmm, the outfit to Disney is still totally undecided ; ) but either way I know I'll be going to Disney comfortable, with sneakers on, what sneakers? I don't know, New Balance or low top converse, but comfort is my #1. : )  Anyway Fall we are ready for you now! : )

Last week it was still so hot, short sleeves and shorts was all you needed. However this week, the weather has cooled down some. The boys have gone to school all week, this week with long sleeve tops and shorts. So still warm but no longer is it "hot". When will the boys be shifting into pants and jeans? Who knows. But for now they have switched to long sleeves. So weatherwise it is for surely switching. I am thinking about heading to Nishimatsuya this afternoon to look for some jeans for Noah, maybe pick up a pair of jeans for him.

Typhoon coming to Japan? Depending on where you live it might have already passed you. Or maybe isn't coming where you live. Tuesday of this week, both Branden and Noah came home saying their teachers mentioned to the class that a typhoon was coming and should be here this coming Saturday? The heads up was appreciated for me. I mentioned to Noboru, but he says it won't be hitting our area. So maybe we will not be affected tomorrow at all, or I am unsure. Either way, the pantry and fridge is fully stocked, so either way we are okay. Tonight I am making beef curry, the beef is boiling on the stove as I type and tomorrow/Saturday I am baking 2 whole chickens, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and veggie. I am also thinking about either baking a cake or homemade chocolate chip cookies for this weekend. So we will be fine here either way. Anyway, if the typhoon does come, please stay safe everyone. : )  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall plans so far

Wow Fall is now underway. And I can start to see it beginning to cool down some temp wise. I see the rice fields color have all changed around our area in Japan and most of the rice has been cut down around here. Also, I see the leaves turning color or have turned color. Last weekend was hot still, but this weekend seems a bit cooler temp wise and today it’s raining, just light and drizzly type of rain but rain sure enough.

We try to keep active in Summer for the boys. But we also try to keep active in Fall. Because there is just so much fun to be had in Fall and the weather is not so melting hot it’s actually a really good temperature to enjoy doing things with the family. What is our family’s plan for Fall so far? Well as you know, we usually go to one of the Disney’s in Fall and go to Hakone in Fall. Here’s the schedule for what’s up so far.

The first week of October we are heading to either Disney Sea or Disneyland. I know which one, but I’ll say after we went. : ) This will be Branden’s “big” birthday present from us. And it’s also a good thing for the boys to both get some Halloween fun in! Seeing all the decorations and whatnot. We do have a hotel reservation already booked. We are using one of the “free 4 nights’ stay coupons we get from Noboru’s work a year. We got 4 new ones this April. And we haven’t used one yet. So we will use 1 of them for that. So after we walk around and play all day long and our feet are just dog tired we can go to the hotel room and take a nice hot shower and watch some TV and then drift into lalaland. We will go to the breakfast buffet the next morning and then we will head home. So since the hotel is free. The only out of pocket for us, will be going to one of the Disney’s. So this trip is coming up shortly and it’s something we’re really looking forward to as a family.

Guam: Last week of October sometime, we will be heading back to Guam as a family. Our reasons for going there is multiple. Reason 1 is because frankly we’re running out of American foods and shampoos etc. and it’s just plain ol’ time for us to go. Reason #2 is Thanksgiving is coming up in November and this is my one chance to get pumpkin pie filling, stuffing, gravy, etc. etc. etc., you know what I mean. So, it’s fair to say my list is written already and I am still revising the list. Reason #3, just some rest and relaxation for our family. We will be staying 3 nights and 4 long days there, so we’ll probably go to at least 2-3 movies while there. We’d also like to get a great big birthday cake for Branden while there, like we did for Noah back in July. Snorkeling, playing along the beach. Sliding down that water slide. Taco Bell, KFC, Sit down Pizza Hut, you know what I will be nice to unwind and just eat things from home. So the hotel is already booked for that also. And the flight for us is free and the hotel we get a very very good discount. So it will be a nicely planned out trip for us. And something we are really looking forward to.

Hakone, first couple of weeks in November sometime we are indeed heading back to Hakone just for 1 overnight stay and a good soak at that fun onsen place. We are also using a "free nights" stay coupon so we are making this trip affordable by using the free hotel night. However, the last 2 years since we started going there, we have been going in October. Last year while we were soaking in one of the rotenburo’s. The Green tea one I think, anyway I said to Noboru, the leaves are all yellow and beautiful and Fall looking, he said, that is true would be nice if we came here when it was a bit cooler next time. I agreed. And so, we decided to try going to Hakone this time in November versus us going in October. Hopefully it will be a bit cooler. Plus, hotel reservations need to be booked for tourists places like that ahead of time. They fill up quickly because the Japanese really enjoy going to these fun types of places too of course. And so when we booked our room last week, there were only 2 rooms left, like the one we wanted. And we took one of them. I’m glad we booked the room in enough time when we did. And when we booked was in September, I imagine by October all rooms will be booked for November already.

Christmas plans? New years plans? As far as right now we only have loose ideas no real concrete, “carved in stone” plans yet. Yes we’d like to do something fun for Christmas. But where? Go where? Hawaii? That’s a definite possibility. Guam? A total 100% possibility. But as far as yet....we have plans from now until November planned yes. But, Christmas (December) and January, not really as of yet...loose ideas yes, but nothing concrete at all. New year’s? Noboru mentioned he'd like to go home to Osaka for New Year’s. Which is totally fine with me...because for Americans New Year’s is really not so hugely important, Christmas and Thanksgiving is a bit more important to us. So, since New Year’s is more his holiday then mine...absolutely I said, whatever you want to do for New Year’s is fine with me. But again...these are just loose ideas in the background and much too early to take form yet for us.  Below are a few miscellaneous pics from the two Disney's and Hakone from years before from our family. You can double click a couple of the pictures down below too. Do you remember these pictures? : )

Disney Sea 2010
Disney Sea 2010
Disneyland 2011
Disneyland 2011
Blast from the past, Disney Sea 2008, not Halloween time though.
Disney Sea 2008

Disney Sea 2008, Noah about to eat his lunch, turkey sub sandwich and fries.
Goofing around Disney Sea 2008, "monkey sea monkey do", Noah copying everything his hero, his big brother was doing! ; ) And what were they doing? While Ultraman moves of course! ; )
Hakone 2010, first trip for our family to go to Hakone, we fell in love with this place! And have made it a a once a year "Fall time" treat ever since!
Very cool baths, we hear they have a garigari one right now, it will probably be long gone by the time we get there though, lol. Oh well it's still an awesome place!
Breakfast at the hotel the next morning they have fantastic breakfasts and amazing juice and the views and trees are breath taking!
Wine much fun this place!
Can't wait to get back here. Anyway, these are some of the things our family has planned already for Fall 2012.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Branden and Noah’s first ever undokai together! Undokai 2012


Last Saturday, September 15, 2012, was our family's first ever joint undokai for both Branden and Noah! And it was awesome! Glad to get both of their undokai's out of the way in one fell swoop. One obento to prepare (not counting the town undokai of course) it was just a really really nice sport's day.  The weather was cloudy and overcast for most of the day. During lunch it started to rain for about 10 minutes but just sprinkles not downpour and then it stopped and didn't return. : ) So all things considering it was easy and fun for both the boys! And us. In this pic is the entire school population in this pic. Our school has 6 grades total of course 1st to grade 6.....however 4 of the 6 grades are with about 20 kids and 2 classes. So 4 of our schools grades has 40 kids but divided in 2 classes (of course some classes have 15, and some 18 kids but 20 is the average per class). So that's 160 kids for four of the grades and then the other 2 grades ichinensei and 3rd grade have only 1 class each. So give or take we have a school population of about 200 kids. So while it's certainly not the biggest population of kids in a shogakko in Japan, the bigger city schools have like 600-650 easy. It does have a fair amount of kids. But really 200 is not so much. We could probably end our undokai around lunch time, but our school is absolutely crazy about undokai menaing we really look forward to it around here all year long... and they stretch it out as long as possible so that's why our undokai lasts until about 3pm! It is a full full day. Amazingly enough our tiny town and I mean population of under 5,000. Has actually 1 other shogakko. It's on the opposite side of town which is funny since our town is so small. And I think their school population for all grades is like 30-35 kids for all grades (like 5 kids as first graders one year, 3 kids for another grade and so on, their school is super small), I'm seriously not joking about their tiny school population. lol.  And both shogakko's will merge into the same junior high in our town. 
Team red and their running lap before starting undokai, starting with smallest/youngest first! Here comes Noah!

I see you Noah!
Yay Noah!
Okay so team red and team white are separated and are about to cheer and scream for their team!
The ichinensei's got their race over with first. Noah was running on the far right lane. He came in 2nd place. The race is below.
Noah missing his 2 front teeth..... and 2 kids behind Noah is Sera. You know, last year these kids didn't really know each other. And only Noah knew Sera and vice versa. But this year, they've all blended into class. Everyone gets along. Noah has a ton of friends and during recess he goes out and plays soccer with his friends. And now they are all wearing the same uniform! What a difference a year makes right? ; ) I am starting to know the mom's in Noah's class. There are quite a few new friendships there for me, which is exciting. Including my great new friend Adele. And also there is a mom with twin boys in Noah's class, she's really nice too. I'm forming my set of friends with the mom's already. And wow....every thing's come together really nicely. Again, I hope it doesn't sound too corny but honestly it's true....what a difference a year makes!
Here's Branden doing one of his events.
Branden is not fast on land *but* he's really fast in the water. But you know, I love him regardless. : ) Noah on the other hand is fast in water and land. Where in the world does he get that from? Ha ha ha.
Well the bright side is, he came in 5th... he didn't come in 6th and also the bright side is he had a good time! : )
Noah about to run yet again. But this was not really a race but a rock, paper scissors game at the end.
Not sure if you can see that lady in the pink cardigan pointing away at Noah. Every time Noah had to be near that side of the field she'd be all pointing away all day.  Lucky for us, the people who have older kids or who have gone to this school for a few years know us and boy is that a relief. But you can always tell the new ones also or who are trying to get used to Noah.... the hafu... very western looking hafu kid being a new student there. There she was pointing away and a few others were also pointing away at Noah throughout the day and of course I had a few grandparents pointing at me and waving or smiling, lol. @_@ But yep, there was that lady pointing away with excitement or I don't know what...... Look hafu child about to run! And yeah.... you can see a few points here and there and the stares while he was doing his dance routine also, poor Noah.: ( I however have the good sense to know in a year everyone will be totally used to Noah, thank goodness. But for now the many points here and there we just sort of ignore them for the most part. Besides they soon figure out, the papa (Noboru) is in the Father's Club and they do carry some weight that club. And the mama (me) is quite involved at the school, so they soon get over the whole "omg your mother is an American" or the "omg you're half western thing" @_@ and just leave us be and treat us normally. So I know they'll adjust...they always do. : )   When Noah started yochien 60% knew us. but the 40% didn't and they were just gobsmacked every time they'd see Noah or I and yeah it died down after a while and everyone became normal around us and I was of course *very* involved at the yochien.

Obento 2012! Karaage, rice balls macaroni salad and potato salad and garden salad, hamburg, tamagoyaki, shumei, fresh grapes.
Chocolate cake for dessert.

Penny for your thoughts.
Right after lunch I had to get both boys ready for the musical performance they were about to do!
Noah wore sneaker socks for undokai but the note said for the kids to all wear plain white socks for the music performance and the picture showed socks a bit longer. So that's why Noah had to switch and I saw a few switched their socks as well. Sera did also.
And here's Branden during the performance.
I see Noah and Sera both wearing longer socks in this pic.
Noah's dance number is below. If you have ever seen Noah's yochien dances he has always been spot on. But the dance number last week he seemed to be a beat behind the rest. I am not sure if it was nerves since this was his first shogakko undokai or the heat since this was his first undokai outdoors ever. Or the pointing at him from folks that made him nervous or what but he was indeed a few steps off from his classmates.  But that's okay I love him to bits anyway.
They all got together the ichinensei at the end of the Mickey Mouse song and did jazz hands. Ha ha ha. : )
Noah about to do song #2.
Branden and the 5th graders.
The Father's Club about to have a tug of war with the 6th graders! This was also open to other father's too.
Noah about to compete in the tug of war rope pull against the white hats.
Grades 1-3 in the tug of war!
A very good action shot of Branden!
This part is funny! The father's club tries to always make the 6th graders last undokai at the elementary school very special. So the 6th graders this year pulled and tugged a huge piece of wood. Think tug of war but with a skinny long log. So they did their 2 times and the winning team was announced and that was it...or so they thought. This was decided since morning at the Father's club meeting a father would say over the intercom..."well white team congratulations but do you want to try beating us, you can bring team red to join you" Please come out to the field, we are..... waiting!!!!" And as the father's said this and how he said it was hilarious....  all the crowds and parents were erupting in laughter! People were clapping and cheering. laughing. And in walks the yellow shirts. Everyone knows who those yellow shirts are! And all the 6th graders march back into the field with huge grins and they were ready to end their final year at undokai on a high note! And we all clapped cheered and screamed our hearts out!
Noboru and the rest waiting...good luck 6th graders!!!!.
And when the gun was shot they went running full speed for the logs. And pull and yank as they did!
Pull, pull, pull.
That one 6th grade boy was holding on so hard, the Father's club won that log but he didn't want to give up! : )

Action shot.
One by one, they had more logs.
Noboru had a blast, Branden had a blast and Noah had so much fun at undokai! They all did!
Now that the undokai was over Noah immediately put his regular gym hat with the neck flap on.  And here he was playing with his friends and classmates. They line up by where you live. So everyone in his row lives in our housing community. Also, can you see the boy behind Noah he was the only one who brought his randoseru (Japanese school backpack) it says on the note every year bring your regular/street backpack not your randoseru but to be honest I didn't even notice. When us parents had to go over and get your child, she told him, "how come you didn't tell me you didn't need your randoseru today...nobody else has their randoseru! How embarrassing!" However it was okay....we all make mistakes plus she was all in good company.  Plus the bright side is they won't forget next year, right? : )  And she is a very nice mom and her son is always smiling and happy. And believe me... we all make mistakes like that. I know I have before 100 times over.... not with the randoseru on undokai... but I have made some unbelievable mistakes through the years.. ; ) So what did we all do....well, all of us, a handful of us.... standing within ears shot told her..."it's okay" In fact I didn't even notice, I said to her. And that gave her a chuckle. "Really" she said, "honest honest", I said back. Anyway just a cute little story about women helping and caring for other women even in little small teeny tiny ways...that may seem unimportant, but it really does matter and every bit helps. She felt so much better after we all chimed in like that! And that made me happy. 
Noah chit chattering away.
Hi Noah, ready for your shave ice? @_@ I know, I am. : )
200 yen each but you know they're huge, they are a once a year treat at this undokai. So, we always get them. Noah picked blue hawaii and peach, Branden picked grape and green apple.
I picked green apple and peach. Noboru had strawberry as usual. ; )
Our school always gives out "presents" every year after undokai. On the right is a notebook for Noah and 2 red/blue pencils. And Branden received a notebook and 1 red/blue pencil and 1 eraser. And there you have it, Branden and Noah's undokai 2012. : )