Friday, December 20, 2013

Getting stuff for Christmas dinner, lunch date and movie date with friends, ordering Branden’s junior high school uniform, Christmas party and more

First week of December, I started thinking about our Christmas dinner. What should we eat? Turkey or ham. Since we just had a turkey for Thanksgiving, we decided to have a ham this year. I found a really good recipe to make a honey baked ham online and will use that recipe. So, last week, December 12th, while the boys were at school, Noboru had the day off so the both of us, jumped in the car and went to Costco Chiba New Town and picked up a few things.

We had lunch, I had a slice of pizza and the Mountain Dew we shared, Noboru had clam chowder and a hot dog.

Saw these red velvet cupcakes, omg, they looked so good! I remember buying red velvet cake from this delicious bakery when we lived in Denver years ago (dad you'll remember).  I didn't buy these cupcakes, but, I was really thinking about it. : )

Christmas cakes a plenty.

The prices, not so bad considering how huge that cake size was. And fwiw, I saw a Christmas cake at Fujiya yesterday and it was the same price as the Christmas cake at Costco but at least a good half smaller in size. That Christmas cake at Fujiya was so tiny compared to the one we saw at Costco. Anyway hopefully this info can help someone. : )

The spiral sliced ham we will be eating for Christmas.
Margarine with butter, for toast and stuff. We bought those butter blocks (a 2 pack), a few weeks back for the cookie baking. 
Two NY style cheesecakes will be in our future and gratin potatoes will be for Christmas dinner.

For the already mentioned from scratch, gratin potatoes.

Also, on December 12th, we bought some more yogurt. Again we all eat a ton of yogurt each month and this is like 950 yen or so for a case, and it lasts us almost a month, so it's a good deal for us, since we eat so much yogurt. 

Getting ready for baking, so bought an extra flour, extra sugar.

A run to the farmer's market last Friday. Broccoli (for dinner), mikan and a sweet potato for my lunch that day.

Bought juice from the cheap drink store.

Strawberry cereal, we add this in our yogurt.

Also, at the farmers market I bought farm fresh eggs. 

Fridays, I usually do a loop of the shops before the weekend is here, I also do a loop of the shops on Mondays too. And I pick up 2 packs of bakery bread, and the 3 crusts in the bag are free (at the front of the pic). And 1 egg salad sandwich. My lunch last Friday, 1 egg salad sandwich and a 1/2 of that sweet potato, very filling.

Went to the cheap meat store on 20% off day. And loaded up. I go on that day, every other week. I spend about 5,000 yen ($50US) for 2 weeks of meat and we eat lots of meat in our house. I appreciate the 20% off and I find I can get more for my money that way. Pictured here was, 5 pork roasts, miso pork already marinated, wings, chicken breast and also thigh, thick pork for fried pork chops, etc etc. 
The Christmas party! This is for elementary school aged kids who live in our housing community. Our monthly HOA (home owners association) fees cover the goods bought for this party. I am a 6th grade mom, so I am a rep for all parties held this year. Sodas and drinks (juice and tea)

We played a lot of games! I was in charge of the red team! See that red tape on the floor. When we played games and divided the groups that's why we had the tape. Branden was in my team. Noah was in the yellow team. But I kept my eye on everyone. We played a lot of games. Also 2 boys in the blue team got into a physical fight! The blue team leader/mom didn't see the fight. OMG you guys.... this was *not* a tiny let's play fight type fight....this was a.... they both had red marks on their faces afterwards type fight! They were punching with all their might and one of them kicked the other in the face...kicked! Worse thing is, the fight was between Naoki (one of Noah's best friends) and boy twin (a good friend of Noah's too), who just moved to our housing community this July. Boy twin, lives 50 seconds away from us! @>@ The mom watcher of the blue team was off chatting, and she didn't notice a thing....meanwhile I am at the front of all groups, I see this, every kid is looking on. Holy crap! I must stop this fight now....I run over there and it is important to know/note when I get panicked.... I lose all languages but English, so I said..."stop!!! stop!!! Woahhhhh you 2 must stop!!!" They both stopped looked at me... they both have red faces probably from punching each other. I knelt down, and to Naoki, I said, in Japanese....are you okay? he shook his head okay. Then I asked the twin boy, are you okay? He shook his head, all was fine. My heart was pounding a mile a minute. All kids are now looking relieved it stopped. heck, I was super relieved they stopped fighting and I wasn't even in charge of the blue team btw. Hahaha. : ( Now blue team mom comes running over,  after the fact obviously....now that the fire has already been extinguished so to speak. @.@ "OMG, is everything okay?" yes, I told her in Japanese, "they got into a scuffle but all seems fine now. I think *we'll* just have to keep a better eye on the kids", I diplomatically said. : ) : )  After all the fun games, we sent the kids away to wash their hands and go to the bathroom, a few mom's went to make sure all was safe, meaning no more scuffles. Meanwhile we quickly rolled out each table, all the chairs and put out all their treats. They each got a slice of roll cake and a whole bunch of stuff, we had a raffle too.

Neither of these moms were the blue leader mom. : )  All the kids had a blast and all left happy. 

Noah's Christmas party treats. And he won the #24 prize

Branden won prize 4. Keep in mind us mom's have to buy all snacks at different shops (with the HOA fees of course), there is just a whole lot of prep to do to get ready for this party. And sorry is this sounds cliche but it's true, when you see how happy the kids get...it makes it all worth it. : ) I did ask Noah later, why did they fight honey? Noah said, because Naoki and the twin boy hate each other. @.@ Note to self, next party I work, make sure they are in different teams. @.@ I didn't know, but now I do. 
Nope this is not our before new years cleaning. This was just a big once a month cleaning I have the boys usually do anyway. I set the timer and however much they can get done in 1 hour, is fine. But you can't just laze around for the hour you have to give it a 1 hour...super cleaning. : ) Branden vacuumed his blinds. And sure, I could do this for the boys and I do it, 3 weeks out of a month, but once a month I want them to actually do it and learn to do it for themselves! 

Vacuum any dust. 

Vacuum the windows really good kiddo! And Noah did his room too, and he's only in the 2nd grade, but I feel, it's never too early to make sure they're learning responsibility, at least little by little. 

Flopped up his mattress.

Wipe down the bed.

Vacuumed under his own bed. Not a dot of dust by the time they both finished.

The only thing under Branden's bed, 1 keyboard, 2 music books for his keyboard, and bey stadiums. That's it.

I made bbq pulled pork. 

We had bbq pulled pork, potato salad, macaroni salad and rice one night. 

Every week their shoes must get washed in the washing machine and then they get dried by the sun. 

The Amazon stuff from Black Friday. Transformers game for Noah and an airplane game for Branden and a DVD for me, I heard this is so funny

My mom sent a Christmas card.

The card said Love, grandma Elizabeth. The money envelop said grandma Beth. Either way is fine. : ) Said for my boy's (her grandsons Branden and Noah). Awww. : )  We sure do love you mom. : )

$400 US total, she said to make sure that Branden gets $200 and Noah gets $200. The boys sure are lucky. They have way more then they could ever spend, that is true, but it's still appreciated.  The boys are my mom's only grandchildren. Same for my dad too, they're his only grandchildren also.  Anyway the boys sure have family that thinks about them and misses them a lot. : ) 
If you missed the new Family Guy, and are worried skip these next 2 pics because spoiler alert. : ) Here is the new dog Vinny trying to be more like Brian.  

In a nutshell, Brian's back and Vinny is gone. It was a very good episode. 

This is Branden's ordering form for his upcoming junior high school uniform.  I am going to document the heck out of Branden's entrance and entering of junior high school, that way if any of you, years from now, hopefully the info, could help. Of course it should go without saying, that each school is different and therefore might do things differently. This is from our experience at our particular school, your experience could be totally and completely different, anyway.... here is our story so far. I have been getting a lot of valuable information from my yochien mom friends. They know a lot and their words of wisdom and tidbits help me considerably. However, we live in a tiny town and they live in the small city nearest us, so different schools, so I do take it with a grain of salt since it might not be my exact case, but again their advice amazing!  Anyway having said that.... now back to a conversation us town mothers had after the Christmas party, so after the Christmas party, after it was all finished and we all cleaned up, we mothers talked for about 5-7 minutes. So not huge amounts of info, but info for our *actual* junior high, type info, so I stayed and got the information. #1, blue leader mom said, she had bought her son his junior high school bike already. And 1 mom said, "is it our junior high school approved???" The blue team mom said, "what???" The other mom said, "our school, you have to have certain features and there are a lot of rules about the specific gray/silver color bike you can get. You can't just get any random silver bike, it has to follow the guidelines." Blue leader mom was like, "holy goodness are you serious...should I take the bike back, can I get a refund?" So blue team mom was having a slight freak out, about the bike. What did I learn? Don't buy the bike too early, wait until you get the booklet from the junior high before you go out running to get the junior high bike. #2 thing, I learned after the Christmas party, the mom who had all facts and info about the bike...she said..."do you know our kids junior high school uniforms are like 3 times the cost of the city nearest us uniforms!!!!???" All the mom's were like, "say, what???" @.@ Our uniforms for our junior high are the most expensive in the whole county, according to info mom. @.@  Every mother was in like  shock mode...me included. 99% of all my friends, their kids go to that city junior high. I thought to myself, I will ask my girlfriends about this, when I see them, when we go to the movies. Granted I believed info mom, but the huge cost difference was shocking. The boys stuff needed is the first paragraph in this pic, the girls stuff needed is the 2nd paragraph in this pic. Boys blazer alone for our junior high is, 26,800 ($268 US, just for 1 blazer) if your son is husky or plus sized the cost is more and you'd need a B size, Branden is muscular but he's not husky or plus sized at all, so we didn't need a B size, Noboru's coworker who has 2 kids in the local town junior high, says the uniform and bag cost will be about 1 thousand US dollars easy! More... if you buy the bike and helmet. And we're not even talking clubs yet and cost for that stuff. 

Our school is unusual in that we were all asked to go and purchase the uniform all of us, both classes at the elementary school. Personally I liked the convenience of this and the fact I could hear what the other mom's were purchasing etc and what sizes they were choosing (how much bigger a size they were ordering, etc). The mom's said... it is because our school size is so small, that's why we order together at the elementary school. Which makes sense, because I could not imagine a big city school ,with a thousand 6th graders being able to do this in 1 room, hahaha. However given our small school population, it was doable. All 6th grade #1 class showed up on December 16th to order their uniforms. And all 6th grade #2 class parents showed up on December 17th, we showed up the 17th since Branden is in class #2. What the tailor said is he recommended everyone to buy it 10-12cm longer/length wise because they said kids grow on average 10 cm during their junior high years. @.@ Again learned something new. They will sew it under for us for free and we can go back to the town tailor and they will let it out once a year for free as they grow, part of their service. Again not sure if this is the norm... but our town is under 5,000 people. And our school is sending 40 kids and the other school in town is sending like 4 kids total or something like that, lol. Boys uniforms are this, plaid pants and jacket with gold buttons, I really like them. They will get ties etc later. Waist wise we only got a pinch bigger, the tailor said kids don't typically gain mass amounts of weight in those 3 years...which made sense... so just a pinch extra waist wise was enough, but 10cm at least longer in length. 
The kids came in sets of 3, alphabetically. Our last name is closer to the front of the alphabet, so Branden was in the first group of boys. 3 boys and 3 girls. They all wore their gym pants underneath, their jeans or whatever, since boys and girls were all changing in this room. Also, every mother in that room agreed, and we all heard, they are ordering 1 winter pants, 1 summer pants and 1 blazer. Yep, info share, they asked 1 mom for example blah-blah-san what are you ordering, she said, 1 blazer, 1 winter pants and 1 summer pants. Someone asked another and same thing was said, they asked me, and I too said, 1 blazer, 1 summer pants and 1 winter pants. The boys are lucky in that they can wear any white shirt as long as it's plain but the girls must buy the blouse from the uniform shop, since it has the school crest/logo on it. Saya-chan was trying on her skirt and vest etc next to us and her mom looked so proud...like she was remembering her school years, I think. : ) It didn't take very long only about 10 minutes and the head head tailor of them all.... was the one who measured for Branden. We left and Branden ran back to class and 3 more boys came in to get measured and their mom's were already waiting. : )  The uniforms will be ready in March they said. 

The day after the uniforms, I met up with my yochien mom friends for a movie. We went to see Gravity. We caught the 8:50am showing.


We had went and had Indian curry the week beforehand together and this week we went to a movie and to Coco's afterwards. I told them, what that lady had said 'info mom", about how insanely expensive our uniforms are, even more then usual. And my friends said total for whole entire uniform set is like 27,000 yen, right? I said, that barely covers the cost of Branden's 1 jacket, hahaha, good thing I saved that price list pic, because I showed my 2 best friends and they were shocked. So yes, I guess our particular junior high has insanely expensive uniforms. Like absurdly so. @.@ They went through the price list and were like...yikes! They were also surprised we bought our uniforms at the actual elementary school, since they went to like a regular store and bought them. Hahaha. : )  Their daughters seem to enjoy junior high school and so that made me at ease. It's awesome to have senpai's. Who can help you through it. For that, I feel lucky. : ) I also asked them, where do I buy Branden's white dress uniform shirts, they said Cecile. That their quality is great and since I order from them anyway, and I trust my friends a lot I will purchase some for Branden from there, they also told me, buy them now!!!! Especially since the tailor said anything as long as it's plain white. Anyway....
We made peanut butter oatmeal bars at the start of this week.

Christmas party for Branden was Wednesday, he went to school with his elf costume and wore it during the party and then switched back to regular clothes, they had music, they played bingo and had fruit punch and snacks. Noah's Christmas party was meanwhile Thursday, this was what Noah needed to bring. A thermos filled with hot tea, an apron, head scarf and mask because Noah's 2nd grade class would be making popcorn, caramel, butter and salt and they also made honey popcorn. They had music, they danced, just a whole fun day Thursday/yesterday. 

This is what Noah's renrakucho says about the popcorn party. And also it says he completed one of his pages for multiplication tables, to finish 1 page you must do and complete your time tables 300 times, in front of your sensei and the teacher said here... congratulations Noah on finishing 1 of those (massive) pages. Awww. : )

All this week the kids had a different type of Christmas cake/dessert each day during lunch. One day was a santa clause shaped cheesecake, meanwhile this was a santa house cake. :  ) Each day the entire school got a new Christmas themed dessert. How do I know what each dessert was? Because Noah over caring and loving us so much.... would bring Noboru and I, his dessert home each day this week he said he just wanted to share it with us, so he had zero dessert at school all week! @.@ I would tell Noah..."Noah, eat it, at school honey....it is for YOU, not us." "yes, but you and daddy didn't get any, so I wanted to share mine" And he said he understood and each day he'd bring the other one back yet again. We didn't take a bite but we insisted he eat it... but we did thank him each day. 

Chocolate cake house. Hahaha. You have such a wonderful and big heart Noah.  : ) I will never forget that the year 2013 you brought all your Christmas desserts home from school. 
Almost done with this post, Thursday night/last night we made homemade cookie dough. And tonight we will start baking Christmas cookies. : ) 

Doubled the amount from last year, so we'll have a ton for sure. : ) The boys got out of school at 11am today and we went directly to Costco, to buy a large combo pizza for dinner for tonight and a whole rotisserie chicken for tomorrow nights supper, since Noboru has his one and only end of the year party tomorrow night. So the boys and I, will be having roasted chicken, white rice and veggies and probably be munching some Christmas cookies tomorrow night. : ) It's been gray and raining cats and dogs here all day long and it's bitterly cold...might as well snow, type cold. Hahaha. : ) It is seriously cold. However we have floor heating and central heating so the house is toasty warm and we have no plans tonight except stay home, have some pizza and watch some movies, take a shower and maybe a bath, pop some popcorn and some movies until everyone goes to sleep. The boys and I will do the same tomorrow night too, while Noboru is at his, end of the year party. Also, Branden and Noah and I are heading to Guam really soon, just for a few days, but just so I can take them to see a few movies and get to spend some time with my dad and enjoy some family time with my dad. We will be back in Japan before Christmas though.