Sunday, October 06, 2013

My dad's visit to Japan

Goodness, am I a bit delayed with posting. Sorry you guys. : )  I still have the undokai/sports day post to get up, but for now this post of my dad's visit to us here in Japan can go first. : )  Let's see, this picture is of, me getting a little ready for undokai for the boys. We bought Branden  2 new gym shirts, hmm. I forget when exactly, last February or sometime? So Branden did not need new ones.  But Noah needed a new gym shirt pronto. Size 140cm. And I'll pick him up another one, next month also. I also picked up a new gym hat for both Branden and Noah. Red on one side and white on the other. 
With undokai being last Saturday, September 28th. And the day before would be super crazy busy trying to get obento/lunch stuff ready for that. We decided my dad coming on Thursday would be best. The morning flight to Japan that would arrive around 2pm-ish was full. So my dad took the flight that left around 3pm-ish Guam time and he arrived Narita, Japan Thursday evening. Noboru went and picked up my dad and I meanwhile had to stay here, since the boys swam that night. Anyway here are some pics of what my dad packed in his suitcase and brought for us. : ) Frito's. 2 bags of Cheetos puffs and 1 bag of Cheddar Jalapeno Crunchy Cheetos.
Breakfast helpers, for on a busy weekday/school day. 
Movie theater flavor popcorn for family movie night at home. : )
Halloween treats. : )
Mrs. Butterworth's. And the seasonal coffee creamer, Peppermint mocha, this is also great in hot cocoa. : ) And vanilla caramel creamer also. 
Pasta sauce. 
Magazines. The boys were so happy to see, my dad Thursday night. We all were. Friday, would be a busy one. After Branden and Noah went to school Friday morning. My dad and I came home and had a nice leisurely coffee. We had to kill sometime since Costco doesn't open until 10am. So we left the house at 9am. And headed directly to Costco Chiba New Town.
Oatmeal and cinnamon for Fall and winter cooking. Rotisserie chicken,  provolone cheese, dinner rolls and chips were for obento for the next day. And Bagel Bites to toss in the freezer. And the pizza was for Friday nights supper. My dad and I also had lunch at Costco, we both had those hot/warmed chicken sandwiches with provolone cheese and onions and Mountain Dew/sodas.  Then we dropped off the stuff at home and we then ran to the closer regular Japanese grocery store and picked up a head of lettuce and a few other things as well. My dad and I were on the go all day Friday, right up until when we picked up the boys from school. 
Noboru got off work at 2pm Friday and was home by 2:30pm. He brought me these from his coworker, cookies and a gift card. I was surprised. Appreciative but surprised. The back story of this is, this family they have a son 2 years younger then Noah or 1 year younger then Noah. I forget his exact age. But anyway, I give them all Noah's outgrown clothes. I don't give them any holes or badly worn stuff. Just the nice stuff. In my opinion, this family is doing ME the favor because it is quite hard to get rid of stuff here in Japan. There are no such things as yard sales or garage sales, ykwim. There is no Goodwill or Salvation Army readily and easily available. In Denver, there was a drop center at the grocery store so getting rid of things for my family growing up was easy. You could yard sale it or Good Will it, ykwim. Here not really the case. And yes I did go to a recycle shop once and they gave me once 750 yen for 2 huge bags of name brand clothes. To me, that was just not for me. Don't ask me how or why. But...when I walked out of the recycle shop that day, I thought....never again. Just not for me. And they were very picky at the recycle shop too. So, I started giving Noah's outgrown stuff to this family. Noboru and this guy are fantastic good friends, they make the clothes exchange. So it's easy getting rid of them. And I know this family can put them to good use. so long story shirt, in my mind, in my opinion, she is doing ME the favor.   
Needless to say this gift card for the Aeon really caught me off guard totally. And I'm trying to think of an American equivalent of Aeon. Hmm. They have multiple floors. They sell food/groceries. randoseru/elementary school backpacks. Women's clothes, boy's clothes. Shoes, 3DS cards. Hmm. Nicer then a Target but not quite Macy's either. But still really nice, just trying to give you outside of Japan a round about idea. But yes this gift card totally NOT necessary. Keep in mind, we had to go and save our spot now on the field Friday for the following day's sports day. Oh yeah and then I flipped the card over and...
Ichiman yen. About $100 US. Absolutely way  too much. Granted yes,  I did given them/ her about 5 pair of Levi's. Cords. A bright red Ralph Lauren winter puff coat with the navy blue horse on the chest size 6. perfect for her son right now. 2 yellow Gap winter/puff vests. Size small. 1 Tommy Hilfiger bright yellow winter coat, with logo on the chest...perfect for winter size 6 or 7. About 6 Gap fleece sweatshirts and just a whole ton of clothes. But again, she was doing me the favor. So we were in a rush at home trying to go/head down to the school. Meanwhile we were all stunned about the gift card. So we all decided our family would Line/message that family to take the gift card back, it was just way too much you know what I mean, so we back and forth-ed on Line quite a bit, they insisted they did not want the gift card back. So we thought aand thought and then we wrote to them again on Line.  In a nutshell. Noboru wrote in Japanese and I wrote a message in English (she was a ticket agent at NWA, so English is fine), it just basically said, thank you for the gift. It was entirely way too much though. Please know that you are doing us a favor otherwise we would be stuck with way too many outgrown clothes. You are helping us by taking them off our hands. In the future we really don't need anything from you sincerely, again we are just glad you are taking the clothes, off our hands. : ) Which helps us so much, we should be giving you the gift. : )  So this was the way that happened.  Anyway as long as they just accept the clothes and don't give us anything  in return that really is best. : ) Makes me feel better about it and less uncomfortable. They're used clothes plus we'll never have a use for them again. Anyway, I do appreciate it just as long as this is the last time. Anyway in the end their family was happy, our family was happy. And they did promise not to give us anything else again. Honestly, phew. : ) They really and truly are doing us the favor though. Moving along....
So we went to the school and oh boy! There were about, 30 families already waiting for the teachers to finish with the undokai markings with chalk and whatnot. Different schools have different rules. And since our school is so small population wise, they allow spot saving the day before.  
This greenish leisure sheet closest my camera is ours, it's says for 4-5 people. And our family is a family of 4, plus grandpa/my dad. We have had this same sheet forever. Isn't that other leisure sheet, the blue one, that other family is spreading out, huge? hahaha. : ) 
Our leisure sheet and roof structure.  : ) 
By the time we got back from the school and the leisure sheet and tent unpacking. We were tired and ready for dinner. Good thing, I thought ahead of time and made sure to pick up the 2 pizzas. We whacked them in the oven. 
My dad enjoying the Japanese countryside view. And looking outside in the backyard.
After dinner, I made some homemade from scratch oatmeal cookies, with raisin and walnuts for our dessert for undokai/sports day the next day.
The undokai, part I am leaving out on this particular post and that's only because, I will make an undokai/sport day post separately. My dad was happy to see this pomegranate tree, that sits at the plaza. On our walk down from the school last Saturday after the undokai. We went home, the boys changed clothes from their gym clothes to regular clothes. And then we went and had yakiniku for supper last Saturday after undokai....as an "we're so happy the undokai is over" Good job Branden and Noah" Plus an "We're so happy grandpa is here" So many reasons to go and enjoy some yakiniku after Sports Day. : ) 
Korean BBQ is so delicious and good. we had a sit down table. And 2 grills. We had ordered 2 huge platters of rosu/red meat, marinated with sauce. it's very lean and Branden and Noah and myself like that lean meat a lot and I know that's the meat my dad would prefer too. Noboru ordered all sorts of different types of meats and cuts he really liked also, so we were all pretty happy. We had an unlimited drink bar, that had cappuccino, soda, hot cocoa, iced cocoa. You name it... the drink bar had it. : ) 
All 5 of us cooked. At the 2 different grills. 
You see another platter beneath/under the platter with meat we had 2 of these platters full of rosu/lean beef.
Everyone had rice, the boys had fries also. 
It was so nice just to kick back and relax and talk over dinner. The boys would have no school Monday because they went to school Saturday. So our weekend started Saturday evening. And we were happy. Undokai was done. Now we could relax and unwind. And just enjoy now! 
Branden just enjoying his time at the restaurant talking with grandpa, Noboru, myself and of course his brother Noah. 
A slice of my meat sitting in the sauce for a sec, before I wrapped it in a lettuce leaf with some rice. 
Lettuce for wrapping our rice and marinated beef. Melon soda also pictured. 
Noah ate so much yakiniku and you can see his fries pictured on the left. : ) After leaving the yakiniku restaurant, we went to Don Quixote, it's near the yakiniku restaurant. And my dad had never been into one before. He loved that place! He bought some souvenirs from there. My dad also bought a few souvenirs from Ikea too. So that's how we finished Saturday. A nice yakiniku dinner and a walk around Don Quixote. : ) 
Sunday morning, from 9am to 10am, was community street cleaning day.  We do this only about twice a year or maybe 3 times a year, so not very often. Our family does this every time. But this year our house is the fuku kaicho and also block/street hancho too. So we had to be there. And the meet up spot was our house. Give the pep talk. Clean and then at the end pass out drinks. However at 8:30am, I went outside and switched the wreath to our Fall wreath. : )  The boys had on gardening gloves because I feel it important they also help. My dad was told we would be cleaning the street and he said he had wanted to experience this. So we said..."are you sure?" He said yes he was sure. So, I gave him a pair of gardening gloves and we waited for Noboru to give our street the morning pep talk. Just stuff like...good morning, thank you for coming...the park need extra attention, so if you wouldn't mind let's start there. Noboru didn't clean since he was very busy running doing vice president stuff making sure each block did  a head count etc etc. Plus writing numbers how many were there for our street plus getting the drinks and making sure they were ready to be passed out at 10am. I meanwhile stayed and worked my butt off, my dad worked his butt off. 
My dad swept and swept and swept and I raked the entire park area...so much so that my forehead was lightly sweating and I'm not a sweaty person at all. I mean, I do an hour of treadmill and don't even break a sweat. So, I worked a ton. Greeting and good morning-ing everyone I saw. Workworkwork. But it's actually sort of fun too though. Social. : )
The new lady who moved in, who has a set of twins Noah's age. A boy and girl twin, plus a 5th grade girl/sister. She did not know it was street cleaning day. And that is A-okay. She came out in her pajamas and her kids too and they still joined in and dug right in and pulled weeds. She so totally rocks! I really like this new neighbor a lot! Also, she is not divorced, as we thought, her husband is doing tanshinfunin. meaning he is working elsewhere. But this family is so awesome! And Noah and the boy twin play together  about 4 times a week. Anyway....
Branden and Noah doing yard work. 
3 misc folks also doing yard work. Noboru came back around, poor guy was so busy also. But he passed out every one's drinks. And then we "job well done" and all those things needing to be said. And we went back into the house. We all went pee and washed our hands from the street cleaning and we all piled into the minivan/MPV. And we headed to Ikea in Funabashi. The Saitama one is actually 2 miles closer, to us and no high way. But....they were out of stock the dvd storage we wanted and Ikea Japan said Funabashi had them so to Funabaski Ikea we went. The whole gang...the whole family went. : ) 
Sunday, at Ikea Funabashi. We got what we came for. We did slowly walk all around the store. I did buy a few misc things that I'll share in another post. But I forgot to post those pics this time. Sorry. : ) 
We were ordering a 50 yen (about 50 cents) ice cream/soft serve ice cream for the ride home, all 5 of us. So cheap and good! 
The white living room mirror, came from Funabashi Ikea, that day. It was a gift from my dad. It was about $100 US. 9,800 yen or something like that. It is perfect size and goes perfectly in the living room. Thank you dad, you are so awesome! You can also see the gold mirror, in the entry way/genkan area. We bought at Saitama Ikea a few weeks earlier. : ) The house...it's not done by a long shot you guys, but by gosh it is starting to get there little by little. 
12 of the dvd storage cases at 999 yen about $10 each. That was about 12,000 yen or $120 US, that we wanted to pick up. These were out at Saitama Ikea, the size we wanted. : ( Yet we needed them and so that's why we drove to Funabashi. 6 on each side of the TV stand shelf area. Costly, all together like that, but now they're bought and it looks better and it's done with already. And the things on the left in this picture are magazine files 2 for 399 yen. 
Last pic of the dvd's in the background looking like this. Hopefully this way will keep things in a better order from now on. We will see. : )  Okay so me setting up the DVD's was Sunday when we got back from Ikea Funabashi.  We still had a ton of leftover pizza and a bit of roasted chicken left so we finished it all for supper Sunday night. My dad and Noboru set up the mirror, they worked so hard on the mirror, measuring half, getting the level out to make sure....well that it was indeed level. Sunday night after showers, we all just relaxed at home and watched TV, all 5 of us. 
Monday, September 30th. The last day of September so the day we had to get our Halloween decorations up! We put these heads up but later decided 1 jack o Lantern pumpkin head was more then enough! Meanwhile in the backyard, Monday....
On the playground were, Branden, Genki and Keita. On the grass was Noah who started playing soccer with grandpa/my dad. : ) 
Oh they were having so much fun playing soccer! So much so that....
Genki started getting down the ladder, he wanted to play soccer with my dad too! Hahaha. : )  And fwiw, Genki and Branden went to yochien together, he has known us forever. He's totally comfortable around foreigners. : ) He thinks it's cool actually! So that's cool! : ) 
Keita in the green shirt. He's comfortable too. His brother was an exchange student a couple years back, in America. And he was the one who rang my doorbell years ago when they were first graders to tell me #1 he was injured and #2 he needed a hug! Totally am serious. So....I hugged him. LOL. I didn't know what else to do and he was serious and had a pouty lip and everything. : )  That was 5 years ago, but I still remember that fact about Keita.  Okay....3 six graders versus 1 grandpa and one 2nd grader. 
Noboru and I put up the Jack Pumpkin-heads meanwhile. My dad and the boys played soccer, I could hear the soccer ball smashing into the fence. Then, my dad said...I give up, you guys beat us, I better go rest. : ) So my dad came to the front yard to check how things were shaping up.  Monday night, for dinner, I made, chicken cutlet (I made and breaded, so easy), white rice, broccoli, , macaroni salad (this was from the deli) and a regular salad. We also had sodas with ice, and cookies and cream ice cream for dessert. Monday was a nice and quiet day here at home except for my dad and I cruising to the store to get things for dinner that night. The boys and Noboru stayed home. 
October 1st, Tuesday morning, as soon as Branden and Noah were driven to school, we headed directly to the airport to take my dad. The day time has been 82-75 F in the day time lately and dropping to about 58 F at night. So, it's definitely Fall. This particular day it was rainy. It was such a nice visit with my dad. I hugged my dad tightly and we as usual don't say "good bye" we just say "see you later", those are always easier. : ) And that was it. My dad and Noboru said their good byes and we drove off. Good visit, good good visit. : ) 
At the airport now heading to Mc D's. I think, Noboru said this was a downgraded/loss of steam (for our area) typhoon. Am happy to hear my dad's flight took off safe and sound. : ) 
Mc Donald's. October 1st morning.
We wanted to go to Nitori, a home furnishings shop. They open at 10, so we waited at a McD's in Narita. We talked and talked and talked some more and wow, time really flew on by. Before we knew it, it was 9:50am. We were like yikes! We should dump our trash, jump in the car and head to the shop. We were in Narita so a very close drive away.
They had exactly what I was looking for. The white picture frame which holds 4 pics, that I saw online was there, yay. And 4 baskets. These baskets were the perfect measurements for my bookshelf. And only 790 yen each. I was thrilled about the price and quality of the basket. Tuesday we went home and I probably should have updated this blog, but I opted to declutter and redo the bookshelf. It badly needed it. Hahaha. : ) So Tuesday while the boys were at school, Oct 1st and my dad was flying in the airplane, heading home. I was spending my rainy day with a cup of pumpkin coffee and an insanely messy bookshelf! : ) 
Before, I forget, this is how the TV stand turned out. All the same amount of DVDs are still in there, you just can't easily see them anymore. It may not be for everyone, but it's a look on a lot of home shopping sites I look at also does and it's functional and serves a purpose for me. A better improvement then when we used to open one of the doors and a DVD would fall out. Hahaha. And I still would like to put some plants around this TV stand and stuff. But that will have to wait. : )
Loved the quality of the Nitori baskets, they were all lined and even had this reinforced piece to make it extra sturdy. The Ikea ones had that too and were also lined too. 
My book shelf as of right now. Love the 4 big baskets at the bottom we got for 799 yen from Nitori. 38cm, and the shelf is 76cm wide. So it just fit. And I did take my paper with measurements written down. Bottom left basket has, the family camcorder. Bottom right basket has our family 3 mini DVD players and chargers and cords for those. 2nd to bottom baskets, 1 has 20 of the boys favorite books they constantly read. Their other books and they have tons are in their rooms. The other big baskets 2nd to bottom on the right has, the family Monopoly game and our couple decks of Uno cards.  Other shelf has completed scrapbooks, photo album, kids yearbooks from yochien. Thesaurus and Dictionary. Books and the 2 black magazine files, currently hiding my magazines in. 1 file has all my ordering catalogs in it and for me, it just looks tidier in the magazine folder and I like the way I separated the files for, mags in one and catalogs in the other. Above that is a wide flat basket that is my important basket with my camera, camera cord and charger, sunglasses and couple other important things. Next to the short flat basket is books or cookbooks. And upper top shelf is books and a basket. That basket holds Noboru's important things. I also put a great deal of Branden's for fun reading books in his room and same with Noah's books. I had so many out of date magazines that needed to be tossed, so many out of date catalogs needing to be thrown away also. It is a useful shelf now ( totally wasn't before) because whatever we read or need most is there. We just got rid of the clutter. Reshuffled and reorganized. The boys most read books are indeed still there. If they feel like Uno they're still there. We didn't spend loads of money, just the 790 times 4 baskets. And the 390 yen for the 2 magazine folder, they came in this set of 2. Now what I wish was different, between you and me? I wish the top basket and even middle basket matched color-wise better with the 4 bottom baskets, the various different sizes and shapes I love it's not that... it's just I wish the colors matched a bit better. But you know...what can ya do. I will be on the look out for a better matching (color-wise) basket but also it's not on my ASAP/pronto top 5 lists of priorities either though. : )  So for now, we'll just call the book shelf done. And sure if I should happen to see a basket that matches, color-wise better, great.... if I don't....well then I think I'll survive too. : )  Also pictures should be on these walls here between the book shelf and the window, but all in good time.
For Halloween, Fanta is selling these little Jack o lantern sodas. In orange soda or grape. : ) Branden and Noah each received one of these! And they loved them! Really cute. : )

My favorite TV shows right now are: Sleepy Hollow and The Blacklist (with James Spader) James Spader rocks at playing the bad guy, I tell ya! : )  Remember him in Pretty in Pink? He played Steff in Pretty in Pink and he played Griff in Less Then Zero! These 2 shows are new this Fall.

Anything else to add? We have already had our first nabe of the season, two days before my dad got here. I'll make a proper, first nabe of the season post this coming week hopefully. : )  Alrighty, that's it for now. : )