Thursday, March 28, 2013

Branden returns to swim club. Festival fun! TV talk and others bits and pieces mixed in

Noah is currently a level 4 in swimming and for an ichinensei about to be ninensei that’s actually pretty awesome. The only trouble with this right now is that we are having a time scheduling conflict with both of the boys. This happened for 1 year when Branden was going to swim club if you remember and the decision was to let Branden take the free swimming bus. To and from swim club to our housing community about 1 block away, was the drop off and pick up from our house. Keep in mind, I took Branden to swim school from age 4, once a week sometimes twice a week (a few years he did twice a week and most years he did once a week is why) with a squirmy baby and toddler Noah. And I drove him and continued to drive Branden all the way until he was at the end of Branden being in the 2nd grade. I heard from mom’s in our housing community they were starting to send their kids via the bus. Music to my ears. : ) Keita-kun and Saya-chan if you remember were 2 of the many that were taking the swim bus. Branden loved it. And I do mean loved it. He got 25 minutes on the bus with friends they could bring drinks and bus snacks. Noah was going to yochien and I was taking Noah to swim club also, Noah started swim club from age 3. And honestly taking the both of them plus rushing to and from 2 schools was a bit exhausting and so yeah, when Branden’s friends started taking the swim bus, I thought, “it’s free. And he will be with friends, so why the heck not.” Know what I mean. Plus it gave me time to unpack Noah’s swim bag. Pick up Branden from the plaza. Yadayadayada, Make sure Branden's swim bag was packed, bring both boys home and, a toddling yochien aged Noah and I would go walk Branden down the ped path and wave him a goodbye. And to swimming school Branden went and back home for me to cook and Noah to run and play in the safety of the backyard. While I cooked. So it was a win win for all...all those years ago. Flash forward to now. And I have been faithfully taking Noah to swim club, since age 3. He switched from the B course to the C course so I’d have enough time to pick up Branden also. And many times I am flying down the road (trying to drive as safely as possible though). Trying my best to get Noah on time. We do always make it, by the skins of our teeth. Dinner doesn’t get done unless I prep and make it in the day. Which I always do on swim nights. Branden sits at swim school with me doing his homework, poor kid, like he did all this past year. It is honestly really hard for Branden because there are many babies and toddlers running around and screeching and squealing as normal babes do. : ) And well.... it’s hard for Branden to study with all the noise. Toddlers are attracted to the “older brother” type Branden is and come up and say...whatcha doing? : ) Bless their hearts. “I’m doing my homework” he says happily. And well, more often then not it’s hard for Branden to study, he’s a good kid and a kind kid, but it is hard for Branden to study there. We get home so late. We are all just exhausted swim nights. Noah is an amazing swimmer. He’s such a little fish. But all this past month, I have been thinking, why doesn’t Noah start taking the swim bus? Our schedule is so tight on swim nights. However, the thing is.....we don’t know of anyone still taking it besides Saya-chan, Branden’s classmate. Also, Noboru thinks Noah is absolutely way too young and small to be taking the swim bus and isn’t really comfortable (Branden didn’t start taking the swim bus until the end of his 2nd grade year, Noah is barely the end of his ichinensei year and way tinier then Branden was at this age). Consider about 5 different elementary schools all use this private swim club, so there are a great deal of kids we don’t know. So again it is a bit worrying sending Noah to swim club unsupervised. He’s so small. Then I had an idea. Why can’t Branden go with Noah? It would be a win win situation for everyone. Branden has been asking to go back to swim club for years. Branden’s favorite sport in the entire world is swimming. He’s lives and breaths for swimming. He really hates running and marathons are a bleh time of year for Branden. But swimming anytime anywhere....he’s there! So, I asked Branden, “Noah might be starting the swim bus, if that were the case would you be interested in going with Noah?” His reply YESYESYES!!!! I also told Branden, Noah swims on a different lane as you of course. You don’t have anything to do, other then have fun at swimming and enjoy it!. Just hang out with your brother on the bus to and from, that's it. Which you all know how close they are anyways. I mean, I woke up this morning and I was looking for Noah, he wasn’t in his bed, found him cuddled up in Branden's bed hugging Branden fast asleep. So starting from April 1st. Both Branden and Noah will be swimming twice a week now, same swim course D swim course, which means they have time to come home eat supper, do homework then walk the 1 block down the ped path to the swim bus. I will still go to swim club once a month to watch the boys and then I’ll drive home. Since class is an hour and a half. But....from April 1st, they will be having a blast together at swim school and cruising the bus together. All paperwork has been filled out already and a new swimsuit bought for Branden. And he’s ready and Branden is so thrilled and happy about it, you guys. He gets exercise, gets to participate in his favorite sports twice a week plus hang with his baby brother chat with his old favorite coaches. Plus Noah gets to start taking the bus, Noah has never taken a bus and he's looking forward to it. Plus I can be home and do after dinner clean up. Everybody wins. The coaches asked me to bring Branden to swim this month once when Noah swam so they could see what his skills looked like these days. So Branden did attend swimming once in March 2 weeks ago because, the coaches wanted to see his moves. Noah was in the pool also. And so proud his big brother was in the pool. The coaches said they were impressed with Branden’s speed since he hasn’t been at the club for 2 years. He did tell them he swam for our town school this past summer and he’s planning on doing the same this summer also. Never did I imagine when Branden was a 4 year old and Noah was learning to crawl upstairs of the swim school would they someday be in the pool in the same swim course, different lanes though. That’s actually kind of cool. : ) And now I can prepare a nice fresh hot dinner on swim school nights. Also, this means that the boys will also be taking a 1 year absence from Kumon, because the swim bus only goes to our housing community on Monday and Thursdays which is the same exact days as our closest and most convenient Kumon. Which is fine they will be back to Kumon after Noah finishes swimming and gets his swimming trophy. It should only take a year. Plus they have both been in Kumon since age 3 and their grades at elementary school are wicked. Absolutely no worries about their studies whatsoever. So many many changes starting April 1st around here. : ) And I did tell the swim club, I do not want Branden is the sports course, 6 days a week type thing. He’s just there for fun. And he is swimming in the level 1 lane so he will get a great workout with kids in the same level as him.
2 weeks, ago I started to have the boys walk to school, together in the mornings. Our particular elementary school it's not a mandatory walk to school. My husbands shogakko when he was growing up, it was mandatory to walk. : ) When we were leaving to Guam that last Friday morning when we went last time. I saw a small handful of kids walking to school from our housing community. They were smiling and 2 of the girls were 6th graders. And I thought wow, their time is almost up.... regarding to walk as an elementary child with randoseru. And that got me thinking. This coming April when the new school year starts for us in Japan. Branden will be a 6th grader. Wow!  It happened so fast you guys. Too fast. Anyway, I was thinking, this is a very special time for Branden and Noah, their last year to enjoy it at school together. Next year they won't be in the same school and maybe never again. This could be their last time, their paths cross being in the same school. And that got me thinking, big time. That I should let the boys walk to school just in the mornings. Just until it gets cold out, then they can get a ride again in October-ish. or whenever it grows cold around here. But seriously from now all up until October they should walk together. This is their last chance. Last chance at the 2 of them and their elementary kid type innocence, ykwim, both of them in their randoseru's. Being elementary kiddos. Cruising to school. And so, I brought it up to Noboru and the boys. And they sorta thought it was a great idea too. So, from about 2 weeks ago, they started walking in the mornings. This is their time.....their brother bonding time. : ) And with the both of them also both swimming together starting from April, this is going to be a very cool last year for both Branden and Noah.
I stand on my front porch with yoga pants and a long sleeve since it's still chilly in the mornings and I wave until they turn left between these 2 houses and take the ped path. They have been enjoying their morning walks. And I still swing around and pick the both of them up after school.
Anyway, what else have I been up to....I caught the Cindy Crawford interview on the OWN channel. She's amazing and gorgeous. She's a superly smart lady. She values family.  I really enjoyed watching her interview.
One random lunch I had a week or so ago. During school days, I am usually running full throttle until the end of the night when I'm running on fumes. Lunches have to be quick and fast and hopefully make it into my mouth as quickly a possible would be even better. Grilled cheese and pickles one day. Then a quick run outside, whack the blankets with my futon stick. Run upstairs fold clothes from dryer. Bits of this and that. And done, presto change-o. Time to pick up the boys and get dinner going. : )
I grew up chasing the ice cream man in America. Now I chase the sweet potato man! Hahaha! : ) However, this one was bought at my local grocery store though. Again, I was at the store at 10am. Doing some weekly shopping. Thinking, I, better get something for lunch. Whole store smells like freshly roasted sweet potato anyway. So, quick lunch 100 yen and I ate this as soon as I unloaded the groceries at home. Boy oh boy do I love the smell and taste of a freshly roasted sweet potato.
A Saturday night dinner a week or so ago. Homemade pizza getting ready to get toppings and be whacked in the oven.
My crust is so crispy! You can tell in this picture. I made a half and half. Half pepperoni and mushroom and the other half just pepperoni.
Moving along....what else have we been doing....well, we went to a festival. The same Sunday we went and had yakiniku.
People were waiting in line for tofu.
I saw a man selling tacos. Obviously I had to try one!
It was really good! All white meat, salsa and guacamole and everything. Price was a little high 500 yen for such a tiny taco. But it was a good treat. : )
I also had strawberries. Branden and Noah shared a bag of fries and each had a choco banana.
Noboru had stomach intestines and something else. : )
I watched 19 and Counting, The "Duggars Do Asia" as the screen says. And was looking forward to watching them go to Japan. I enjoyed this episode quite a bit.
Jim Bob and his sons all learned how to be "samurai" Hahaha. That's how they explained it for American TV. : )
All of the girls dressed up and wore Kimono and stuff. Good episode. This coming week they're going to China. (update, I saw that episode last night when they went to China, it was a great episode too)
A pic without the plastic top cover.
Cake on the bottom.
We enjoyed it a lot. : )
This past Monday morning. The sky was gray and it was drizzling rain. Not buckets, but it was raining. And 1 farmer burning a fire in the background. I'll zoom up.
Smells like camping. I like the smell of camping especially on a chilly day like Monday.
I made pancakes this past Monday morning for all of us. And in an hour, we're heading to Nishimatsuya, and to this other shop that has socks for the boys. And the cheap meat store and possibly we're heading to Saizeriya for dinner.

This post was written on Monday. I just didn't have the time to publish it. So it's a bit behind, but it's okay, I think. : )

What have we been doing? Enjoying Spring break. I haven't been online too much this week since the boys have been home. I'm just enjoying my time with Branden and Noah. Today the weather was nice so the boys played soccer with their friends from the neighborhood. And now they are at Kumon for their last lesson, since they are taking that 1 year hiatus. I can see some teeny tiny changes in the potatoes in the backyard. Anyway, Branden and Noah should be calling me soon to pick them up so hopefully I can get this posted today.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Today is my birthday : )

Hmm, I rarely talk about my birthday on here. I just never have. I'll happily talk about Branden's, Noah's or Noboru's birthday. But if you really think about it. March slips by and my birthday slips by and maybe I might write in the middle of a "bits and pieces" type post a tiny blurb mentioning oh yeah it was my birthday last week. Hahaha. But for the most part, they go unmentioned. And I do love my birthday, but I'm sorta very low key and quiet about it, always have been even when I was a little girl. So, just this once, I'll mention my birthday on my actual birthday hahaha. Today March 22nd is my birthday. Noboru works tonight from 4pm-midnight. He could have taken the day off, he did ask me if I wanted him to a month before.... but I think that's sorta silly just for me, I'm an adult. And really it's okay. : ) So, this past Sunday, in the evening, we went and had my birthday dinner, since we knew we couldn't go to a restaurant the day of. At first we were going to have Capricciosa but I made homemade pizza the night before. So we went and had yakiniku instead. : )
We ate a lot. Grilled a lot. Talked a lot and laughed a lot.
We had a drink bar, so free refills.
A dinner with my favorite people. : )
After dinner, we were heading home but stopped off at a car wash. Robo-wash type place. And afterward, we parked the car and Noboru and Branden and Noah went outside and each grabbed a free cloth/rag and wiped my car down. Talk about feeling the love Sunday night! Hahaha. : ) To look out and see Noah wiping the mirrors down. Trying very hard you guys, doing his best. ; )
Branden wiping the windshield. Don't laugh but I thought, I am truly loved! : )
Noboru wiped and he wiped and then the 3 of them got back into the car and that was it. And we headed home.  Monday after the boys went to school. A few hours after, I headed to the hair salon. It's March, I haven't been to the salon since December. So it was time. I got a thermal hair straightening thing and a trim. My hair has really grown and I'm currently letting it grow long again. I spent 3 hours at the salon on Monday. I also had a 20% off mailer that they sent me since it's my birthday month, you know me and my coupons, lol don't make fun of me too much about that. But yeah it was nice to get a little pampering, it's a rare thing for me, so it was nice. And I left with my hair as straight as a pin and shiny and I'm happy with my hair. Also Monday was the boys last full day of school. The other days all this week have been half days since they are about to go on break. So, I knew that was the best day for me to go to the salon schedule wise.
Yesterday morning my birthday cake arrived. I have been so looking forward to it's arrival. Yay!!!
: )
They have so many flavors to choose from. But I picked, banana ice cream for the top layer and maple walnut for the bottom layer.
It is a little hard to see since it is covered with the plastic top.
Not only did I get to pick my 2 layers of ice cream. It's decorated with gelato and ice cream on top and fruit. Noboru made sure I had a really special birthday cake.
2 layers of ice cream and it has a nice cake bottom also. Today or tonight we will have some! I think we should have some before Noboru leaves to work so we 4 can all enjoy it together. : )
Besides Noboru sending me to the hair salon for one of my birthday gifts. I also placed an order for some clothes here in Japan. Just some tops (3 or 4) and 1 pair of shorts and 1 pair of capris. But they won't get here for a while. And my dad, got me some DVDs on He had asked me a week ago, to pick something out and email him what DVDs I'd like. I picked Dexter season 7. This hasn't come out yet, but it's been ordered and when it comes out.... Amazon will ship it to me here. I have not seen this season, but from what I read online, this season looks amazing, I can't wait.
A Haunted House. I enjoy the Paranormal Activity Movies. And I do think the Wayans are hilarious. So, this looks funny to me and plus I love to laugh. So, I can't wait to see this.
Love Bette Midler, think she's amazing. And I saw the previews to this and this looks funny to me. I also picked 2 other DVD's also. Picture Bride and another one. Anyway enough about my birthday. : )

Today is the boys last day of school. They are officially on break when they get out of school at 11am. It's drizzling rain here right now and a little chilly. Which is weird because yesterday was so warm and sunny. What is the plan for tonight? Well, Noboru has to be at work at 4pm. He works until midnight. So he gets to be with us all day so that's the positive. And the boys will be here with me from 11am. My cake is in the freezer. And I'm making pork green chili and beans tonight for dinner. I have the beans boiling on the stove as I type. And I can sorta gauge it and I think dinner will be ready early today. So maybe around 2-3pm. I'm going to run to the bakery this morning after I pick up the boys. So I can get 2 loaves of bread for Saturday's breakfast. But other then that.... I don't think we'll be leaving the house for the rest of the day and night. : )  I'll just eat dinner with the boys, have another slice of cake, and just watch TV and relax. I do want to put my hair up tonight after the boys go to bed. And I plan to soak in a hot bath and just soak for a good 30 minutes. Anyway, have a great weekend everyone. : )

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

White Day 2013

March 14th is/was White Day. Always 1 month after Valentine's Day, so an easy date for me to remember.  Like I said in my last post, I decided that this year would be an easy year and we'd just give cupcakes. Still a pretty nice thing to give. But with all the "end of the school year stuff" going on. PTA stuff and pre-Fuku Kaicho stuff going on. I really wanted to give something nice but something also simple and easy on us to prepare. So easy to make stuff totally appreciated. I did make sure to buy my cake mix and frosting while in Guam. The cupcake liners, I always have a bunch of different types and for various different holidays. but, I decided to use the ones with cupcake pictures on them. I bought the wrapping bags from the Daiso, same for the plates. And the sprinkles I bought from my regular grocery store here in Japan. So everything was pretty affordable .
I told Branden and Noah they could use these cupcake toppers, and at first they both said okay, but the boys said after they were frosted and sprinkled, that they didn't want to use them. No worries, they looked cute without them, so I understood. But if I were giving them out to my friends, I might have used the toppers anyway, but either way no worries. We can always use them next time : )
We made a lot of cupcakes. Which is good because they had to give to some girls at their elementary school and also to a girl at Kumon each also. Hahaha.
Branden did the frosting. Noah did the sprinkles. And I just enjoyed watching them gogogo!!! We had fun in the kitchen making these in the evening after dinner, March 13th. It's a great time for us to talk and spend quality time together the boys and I. Noboru was at work.
Each girl got 3 good sized cupcakes and also 3 delicious little chocolates from America. We bought a nice big size of chocolates that we personally love and broke it up that way. I kept telling the boys, "Ohh, I know what Lily-chan is having for dessert tomorrow." : ) And Noah would laugh. Or I'd tell Branden, "I know what Agaiha-chan (sp?) is having for dessert tomorrow" and he'd blush. So yeah we had a great time making these together. I plated them up and carefully put them into the bags.
These are what Branden gave to A-chan (prettiest girl in the whole entire 5th grade both classes) and Mei-chan. The girls really went all out with their wrapping, so I made sure Branden went really all out in return. Hahaha. : )  And again the wrapping and especially for you card was all in a set of 4, 2 bags and 2 cards for only 105 yen at the Daiso. So superly cute wrapping but really affordable wrapping also. Branden wrote a little something behind the especially for you card. He wrote to....from Branden. Just really kept it simple.
Noah's younger and so we kept his bags superly simple. I didn't really want to over do his at all. These are new girls, he just met in the first grade. So, we kept them simple. Noah also wrote out his own name labels and he put a heart sticker on there. He was pretty proud. Well, until Noboru got home that night. Noboru told Noah, "hey kiddo you have to write chan or their parents will not like it!!!!" He said it gently but he wants Noah to know this stuff. Branden didn't notice or look at Noah's or he could have helped him and told him earlier in the night. Anyway, I'm just glad Noboru caught that before it was sent out. Poor Noah though, he was so embarrassed, but he did correct himself and he wrote To Lily-chan. Versus, To Lily. Phew! And he also wrote from Noah on the back originally. But I think Noboru made Noah so nervous about the chan-kun part. Noah wrote from Noah-chan. Hahaha. Since everyone who knows us in real life, calls him that anyways. Noboru saw that 'from Noah-chan" part the next morning and went quietly to himself.... Doh! And he did nicely tell him when writing you don't need to call yourself that...but it's okay, but just know this for next time. By this time it was close to class time and we had no White Out and scratching it out would look even we left the from Noah-chan part. Hey sometimes you just gotta roll with it. : ) @_@ Hahaha. But that's okay. Noah's 1st grade White Day treats will be forever remembered Lily-chan from Noah-chan. And same for the other girl. Hahaha. : ) We will laugh about this for many years to come.
We left them all on the green counter until the next morning.
It was a little rainy March 14th. And because I worried about the cupcakes knocking around in the bags. I made sure to drive them to the front of the school on White Day. Branden holding his 2 White Day bags with cupcakes and chocolates inside. And Noah holding his 2 White Day bags with his cupcakes and chocolates inside, with special message that Lily-chan from Noah-chan. Hahaha. : ) And to the other little girl too. You know...we're all not perfect. And so, we just had to smile about that.  So, at the end of White Day, I sat in my car reading a magazine. And I saw many many girls come down the hill with White Day gifts from classmates. And I waited to see the 4 bags, I knew came from Branden and Noah. Lily-chan came running down the hill, eyes were really big and bright, she has a dimple and she was waving her bag from Noah wildly....telling her mom...look mama...look (my window was rolled down it was actually nice weather in the afternoon)! I smiled to myself and I tried not to overly look. So I pretended to read my magazine but really I was so happy. And then I saw the other little girl run down the hill also and then the 2 bigger/older 5th grade girls. Meanwhile my 2 come running to the car all smiles! "Did you give your treats to the girls?" I asked. "Yep we did" Branden said. "Were they happy?" I asked. Noah chimes in..."Lily-chan was **so** happy mama!!!" "That is so nice to hear!" I said. So, we chit chatted about cupcakes and the happy girls both Branden and Noah gave them to all the way home last week March 14th. : )  Anyway that was White Day this year at our house. : )