Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013

We had made a big batch of homemade cookie dough, baked half of the cookies before heading to Guam and baked the other half when we got back from Guam.  Christmas cookie cutters, 1 rolling pin and little fingers pictured here. : )

The 3 of us baked these while listening to Christmas music and Noboru hanging out in the kitchen with us, all of us having a pretty good time.

Well done kiddos. : )  Also, for what it's worth, I used to frost the cookies but when I did, nobody would eat them. I think they were just too sweet when frosted, for our family. Which is why we just sprinkle them this way and then everyone finishes them off. : )
Noah about to wrap the gift he picked for daddy. : )
Looking good Noah, I think daddy will be really happy with what you picked for him. : )

Noah about to wrap one more, the gift he picked for his brother Branden, so Branden had to go upstairs for about 10 minutes while Noah wrapped and put a bow and wrote the name tag on it.

After Branden's was wrapped, Branden came downstairs and wrapped one he picked for daddy and then Noah had to go upstairs, because I had pulled out the gift Branden had picked for Noah. : ) December was not insanely busy... but it was semi busy. Buying all the Christmas kai/party gifts with the other 6th grade leader mom's. We had the marathon. Decorating our house for Christmas, putting up our Christmas tree in the living room, we had Christmas presents to be wrapped. Preparing for Christmas dinner. Kids getting ready to go on winter break. Packing for Guam. Guam was a relief though, because it gave me just 3 short days to take a breather, you know what I mean. To not have to think about fuku kaicho stuff, 6th grade mom rep stuff. Just let the ol' brain destress and chill. So that might have been only 3 days... but my gosh, I came back feeling recharged. : ) I was glad I had 2 friend meet ups in December (lunch and the movie date) so that was awesome, but yeah....December definitely semi busy. : ) And I do know that once the kids grow up and leave the nest I'll be back to wishing they were little again and so...I try not to stress over the small stuff now and enjoy it more, but yeah Guam helped me big time. : ) 

Christmas morning came and we all went downstairs and unwrapped presents in the living room. It went from Christmas tree and many presents underneath to Christmas tree with nothing under it and wrapping paper all over the floor. Hahaha. That needed to be picked up and cleaned up. : )  The boys came into the kitchen and were pulling out a few presents out of their Christmas stockings (stocking stuffers) and I heated up the cinnamon rolls (for everyone) and made some coffee for Noboru and I.

It was a wonderful and quiet Christmas morning. Both Branden and Noah were so happy with everything they got this year. Noboru was pretty happy and so was I. We enjoyed our cinnamon rolls and then the boys went and played with their new toys and games and whatnot. : )
Noboru and I sat at the kitchen table and just enjoyed our coffees slowly and talked about the kids and their presents, what a nice Christmas this was.... We also talked about how absolutely cold it looked outside and how frost covered the field looked behind our house. It was a nice morning. 

Christmas dinner. Noboru unfortunately had to work from 4pm, so he missed having dinner with us. : ( But he had this all for lunch and dinner the next day as well. : )  What do we have here? Let's see. Those Red Lobster biscuits, 2 platefuls of those, 1 plate is near the Fanta soda. 2 servings of homemade from scratch gratin potatoes, these were so good. A salad with choice of ranch or vinaigrette, black olives and green beans and a honey glazed ham, this was the best ham I have ever eaten before in my life! Growing up, my family always ordered a ham (for Easter or whatever) from the Honey Baked Ham store, so I know a good ham when I taste one. : ) I used a recipe online from allrecipes.com, I liked that the baste was made from 3 ingredients, honey, brown sugar and a little melted butter, I glazed this every 20 minutes total cook time was an hour and 15 minutes. I will make this ham again. I am so happy the person on allrecipes.com shared this recipe. 
These were the biscuits we made, the boys and I. 

Salad close up. : )

And we were all wearing our comfy clothes, sweatpants and long sleeve tees. I had my hair in a pony tail and not a stitch of makeup on. I like that we are very low key with our holidays. Just good food, and the best company in the world, my boys. : ) Wished Noboru could be here, but I did Line/message him a pic. : )  And said we missed him and wished he was here with us. : ) 

We also had 2 homemade cheesecakes. We had blueberry sauce if anyone wanted it. It was just a very nice dinner. : ) By the way it's fair to note, the boys helped with the gratin potatoes, they both peeled mass amounts of potatoes for that and I peeled a ton myself. Branden grated cheese for the gratin potatoes and he also grated cheese for the biscuits. Noah helped make the salad and he opened the olives and placed them in the bowl. What I'm saying is... they helped a lot and I think that's really nice. Good kids, good kids. :  )

My serving. My salad with ranch and on the main plate we had potatoes, honey ham, green beans, black olives and a cheddar garlic biscuit.  So anyway there ya have it, our Christmas 2013 in a nut shell. : ) 
The day after Christmas the boys and I decorated some gingerbread houses in the evening. 

There were 4 mini houses total, Branden built 2, Noah built 2 and the 3 of us decorated them together the next day, we had to let the frames dry completely before we decorated them. : )

Noah working so hard at getting his house walls all nicely built and standing. 

Noah getting the roof on! Making a few adjustments still though. : )

This pic is a little blurry but you can see Noah's face, he's trying really hard looking at the house, making sure it was straight and looking good. : )

We left them like this to dry over night. : )

And all finished. : ) 

The best part about making gingerbread houses, is of course, eating them! Hahaha. : ) Here's Noah eating his and for the record he thought the roof with frosting was much too sweet, so he ate everything but the frosted roof. : ) 

Branden took a bite of the roof on his and thought it was way too sweet too, so he ate the unfrosted parts of the house. All in all, I am so glad I bought this gingerbread house decorating kit, it was a lot of fun for the boys to make and I had a blast decorating it with them. : )
I take a pic every year of the house all lit up at Christmas time. This year I forgot. : ) But you can at least see a bit of the icicle lights in this pic. I also forgot to take a pic of the tree all nicely lit up as well. : (  Sorry ya'll, I really think the Christmas party prep and the housing community rep thing (fuku kaicho stuff) plus like I said marathon stuff, end of school year stuff. Just my mind was a little preoccupied and I forgot. : ) Hopefully next year I will remember. : ) Good thing I have this pic at least though. : ) It was so pretty when it was up. And we have already taken everything down already because of the getting ready for New Year's and the cleaning that happens this time of year in Japan.  Anyway, at least this gives you a round about idea how our family here in Chiba, Japan celebrated Christmas this year. : ) Hope all of you that celebrate it, had a wonderful Christmas this year as well. : )

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Guam, December 2013. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Walking With Dinosaurs, hanging at the beach and spending time with grandpa

Sunday, December 22nd, we caught the morning flight to Guam and by 2pm Guam time, 1pm Japan time we were already in Guam, already had changed from winter clothes to shorts and short sleeve tops. Dropped off our luggage at my dad's condo and had already decided what time we'd catch our movie for that evening and went and headed to eat a late lunch at Taco Bell.

My dad had ordered this, Grilled Stuft Nacho, I keep wanting to write stuffed, but if you look at the wrapper, it says stuft. Hahaha. : ) Branden had a bite of this and he said it was delicious.

I had this for lunch, a bean and cheese burrito and a mini nacho bell grande without/minus the meat.  

Noah had 2 tacos and we shared a drink (free refills.)

Branden had 3 tacos and a drink.

Us leaving the movie theater, Sunday December 22nd. We had went and watched the new Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire. It was really good, but super long! : )
You can see the 2 movies we went and saw here. December 22nd we saw the new Hunger Games, Catching Fire and the next day, December 23rd we went and saw the new movie, Walking With  Dinosaurs. Considering the cost to see a movie in Japan, plus trying to find a movie in English versus seeing it Japanese dubbed (voices in Japanese) ( and trying to find a kids movie like the dinosaur one, in English can be tough in Japan, Catching Fire, I probably could have found easier granted, but kids movies in English especially in the inaka/countryside is hard) plus, cost is 1800 yen $18 US for adults for a movie ticket and cheap day in Japan is still 1,000 yen $10 US. So for us, it's just easier and cheaper to see in Guam. : )

I am really glad the boys could go and enjoy 2 new movies during the winter holidays. 
This picture is horrible, but I tell ya, Guam really outdid themselves with the Christmas lights this year, they were everywhere and absolutely amazing.

Even Burger King was lit up. After the movie Sunday, December 22nd we went and had some Subway sandwiches, Branden had an Italian BMT, Noah had a meatball sub, my dad had a pastrami sub and I had a veggie and cheese sub. Went back to my dad's and we all went to sleep. I think my dad and I watched TV for a bit.

Monday, December 23rd, we all woke up pretty bright and early and went and had breakfast at Denny's. I had my usual, banana pecan pancakes and scrambled eggs and crispy bacon and coffee. This was so good!

Branden wasn't feeling too hungry, so he had the pancake puppies and an apple juice, Noah had chocolate chip pancakes and 2 strips of crispy bacon and an apple juice.

My dad had french toast, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.

Anyone remember that old movie with Brook Shields, Endless Love, from the 80's?  Well apparently they remade it and it is going to be coming out soon. I wonder how it will compare to the original.

We caught the first showing of the day of the new movie called, Walking With Dinosaurs. It started at 10:30am, but we were first in line and waiting at 9:50am. The ticket counter opened at 10am, we bought our tickets and went and got some popcorn and a soda.

Noah making a funny face. : ) We 4 all enjoyed this movie a lot. I admit, I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it was, but it surprised me quite a bit, this was hilarious!!! That talking bird and his humor, stole the whole show. This was as funny for us adults, as it was for the kids. 

After the movie, we went to Kmart, 1 Payless grocery store and 1 Cost u less. And we actually finished shopping in like under 2 hours for everything. This year I was planning to buy the boys a gingerbread house to decorate. Here they were $4.99, so pretty cheap and they had the big huge house in the blue box and then 4 mini small houses in the green box, we bought the mini village in the green box. 

Ornaments and all things Christmas were on sale.

Peeps are so cute, but we just don't eat them, so I didn't buy them this time. 

Christmas candy was 25% off, and ornaments and stockings were 60% off.

After finishing our shopping, done and done! We went to Micronesia mall, the boys rode the roller coaster and we then had some lunch. Hot Dog on a Stick was buy 1 get 1 free, for either a hot dog or cheese stick. We 4 all shared this large fries and the boys and I had a cherry lemonade, my dad was still drinking his Vitamin Water from the car, that he wanted to finish it up, before it got too warm. 

Considering we had Denny's for breakfast, and we were slightly popcorn-ed out from the huge tub the day before so we just got a small size at the movies that morning, this was the right amount of lunch. Not too heavy, not too light. Plus we knew we were heading to Cold Stone afterwards. : )

Noah people watching and enjoying his lunch.
I had a cheese stick, this is my favorite. : )

Panda Express just opened up in Guam , December 6th! It's so packed! We always ate at Panda Express in the mainland or in Hawaii, so we are so happy it finally made it's way to Guam! : )

We were debating Yogurtland or Coldstone, the boys picked Cold Stone. My dad and I like both, so either way was fine with us. : ) Branden had the cookie dough one, Noah had the birthday cake one, my dad had a strawberry cheesecake one and I had 'This is How I Roll" a cinnamon roll one, that is so good.

We had oodles of free time, so we hit the beach! This picture was taken without the flash and it was exactly this color and time of day. The pic directly below looks much later and darker and that's because the flash was on that one. It was windy, but tropical so nice and warm and the sun was about to set.

Yeah this picture makes it look much later, than it really was. But this picture didn't come out fuzzy though, which is why I am sharing this pic. But in real life, it was much lighter than this pic.

My dad along the beach.

The boys were looking for any shells and stuff.
I had the biggest smile on my face watching both Branden and Noah rolling up their shorts and looking for shells. It made me realize that us coming to Guam, even for a few days was the right thing to do. We got to go to 2 movies, eat many good and yummy things, spend some quality time with grandpa/my dad and to be able to bring a small handful of things to take back to Japan. Plus the flight for us is free and we stayed at my dad's, so it was a good decision for us to go. We were to head back to Japan the next day December 24th.

We were debating between Tony Romas or Vitale's for supper, we were pretty sure it would be Italian, but after we walked to my dad's SUV, we decided to go and grab some ribs instead. This was my cup of baked potato soap.

Half slab of ribs and my 2 sides, I picked both cheesy baked potatoes. My dad had ribs, Branden had ribs and Noah had the chicken strips. After dinner we walked around the mall for a few minutes, because the boys wanted to check Game Stop real quick, they didn't find anything but at least they looked. : ) 

Has anyone seen the previews to the upcoming, Lego Movie? I was thinking for surely it would look so beyond lame, but you know what.... we saw the previews for it, during Walking with Dinosaurs and it looked pretty funny actually. The boys would like to see it when it comes out.  Here's Noah playing around in this pic.

And of course Branden wanted to be silly too. 

December 24th. Our flight was to leave Guam at 10am. Wendy's opened for breakfast at 7am, we were right on time when it opened, we were there at around 7:03am. : ) This was my breakfast, an island breakfast, that's what they call them there since they come with rice. Crispy bacon, scrambled eggs, rice. The boys and I shared this raspberry lemonade. 

Branden enjoying his island breakfast, we were now back in long sleeves and pants. 

Noah enjoying his breakfast too. 

My dad had a breakfast panini sandwich. Our luggage was already in the SUV, at Wendy's. My dad dropped us off at the airport and we went inside and checked in for our flight. 12:54pm is when we landed, back home in Japan. Noboru was waiting for us, the kids ran to Noboru and talked his ears off. Telling him how much fun they had in Guam. : )

December 24th, I had to bake 2 cheesecakes from scratch and do Christmas dinner prep for the next day and unpack our suitcases, do a full load of our laundry we used on the trip. And so, I did not take individual pics of what we brought back, instead this is a combo of pics but you get a round about idea of what we brought back. In this pic, you can see, 4 huge jars of Prego pasta sauce, each jar is 4lbs. Huge box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, Graham crackers for the cheesecakes... 

Christmas plates and napkins and Cheetos, Progresso Italian breadcrumbs, 2 packs of Caramel hot chocolate for the boys to enjoy Christmas eve night. Romano cheese croutons, ranch dressing...

3 packs of bacon, now sitting in my freezer, 2 things of dip, jalapeno cheese dip, another tube of that Aveeno Eczema cream for Noah, this cream rocks! Pepperoni for 1 pizza, I do make a mean pizza. : ) 

Two tubes of cinnamon toothpaste and 4 tubes of Colgate Total. 6 tubes of toothpaste, should last us a good amount of time. Didn't bring back a whole lot, but it was nice being able to stock up on a handful of things. 

Gingerbread house and a pack of delicious cinnamon rolls from Cinnabon. They make the best! These were for Christmas morning for breakfast, cream cheese frosting, caramel and pecans, when we warmed these they were so beyond good. : ) Perfect treat for Christmas morning though. : ) 

Chocolate covered cherries, these were only like $1.25 per box, at Kmart, some mints, sunflower seeds and Nutella & Go. we love Nutella, so we had to give these a try and the price was pretty cheap on these. 

Christmas kitchen towels, it's true might be too late to use them this year, but I can use them next year and after. I will put this trio on my American stove at home, 1 Christmas tree towel on the left and then a towel in the center with ornaments and another tree to the right. Plus they were only a couple dollars each since they were 60% off. 

Also grabbed this, 2 towels per pack, I can switch my towels each week starting December 1st, next year. Between this set and the set above. And again at 60% off, it was too good of a deal to pass up.

Branden and Noah have a few stockings each, but when I saw these and given they were 60% off as well, I had to get these and will tuck them away in the Christmas box in the attic. 

Life is hectic enough and when I get some free time or down time, such as, when the kids are asleep or when I am sitting at the plaza picking up the boys from school, I enjoy having a magazine to read and flip through. Nothing too heavy, just stuff like tabloid type stuff, you know, just pure fluff or Hollywood type news. Kris Jenner is now said to be rumored to be dating this young guy? Interesting. On a sadder note, I remember clear as crystal watching this 1 hour special on this family who just literally vanished, no signs of foul play in their brand new huge home. Left over a couple hundreds of thousands of dollars in their savings accounts. No bank activity, nothing, nada, zip! It seems they literally just fell off the face of the earth. It was this woman pictured her, her husband and 2 small sons. There is grainy video footage of a family people "think" could be them walking across the border into Mexico. Their vehicle was also found parked on US land but near the border, but they have never been seen again. Needless to say, when I saw this People magazine, I thought, hey!!!! I remember hearing about that family...I should pick this magazine up and take it home, it will give me an interesting read once the boys start school again and I am yet again at the plaza needing something to read. I'm holding off reading these until the boys head back to school after the winter holidays end. 

And 2 extra magazines. And also for the record, I do not think Khloe is OJ's child at all. But again, will make for an interesting read. 

I was hoping to find The Balm in Colorado, sadly I could not. I did find however it is available in Japan, but since I live way off in the middle of nowhere. : ) It would make for quite the drive. However I did have it at the back of my mind. Imagine my surprise, when we were heading to Cinnabon together and as I passed this very modern cool makeup shop called... Beauty Bar, there was a huge sign for The Balm. what luck, seriously! I already knew what I wanted, I wanted a blush in either the color, "Down Boy!" Hahahah these names crack me up, or the color in "Frat Boy", the 3 Yotubers I watch rec'd these blushes, who have similar coloring to myself and I have been wanting these pretty bad. $20 US each around 2,000 yen. The lady helping me, told me considering my fair coloring I really could go either way, ones more pinky (down boy) and ones slightly more peachy (frat boy) She suggested I try both on, so I swatched both on my cheek and again they both looked equally good, so I said....you know what, seriously who knows when I will get the chance to see these in person again....Noboru even knew since late October I had been looking for these in particular....and I have been...so yeah I said  considering all this...I'm going to get both.  I'm really glad I have these, but that's only because I have been really looking for these and so finding them in Guam on accident and when I wasn't even looking for them. Wow...just a nice surprise. :  ) Anyway, that's our 3 day, 2 night adventure to Guam, December 2013.  : ) Christmas post will be coming next. Hopefully I can hurry and get that posted. : )  Ever since Christmas ended, we have been doing our huge end of the year, clean up.  And making sure any and all last minute New Year's cards, all got sent out and stuff. So that's why I've been a little quiet lately, sorry. : )