Friday, May 29, 2015

Noah’s observation day and emergency drill at the local elementary school. A Costco run. Branden’s JHS lawn and ground cleanup for the parents. And a few extra bits for good measure...

Hi Noah! : ) I had Noah's observation day and the emergency disaster drill at the elementary school. Tuesday, May 26th. I went to that. Noboru wanted to go, but he had work, he did ask me if he should take a half day off work, but it could possibly affect Noboru getting vacation days off this summer. Maybe he'd get 1 less day, type a thing. And we wouldn't want that. : ) Besides it wasn't anything too overly major. So just me showing up was enough. : )  
I rocked it, right up the hill, around 12:50pm. This is our local elementary school. You see it's up on a hill, and there's rice fields to the right. : ) 
This says the 4th grade class 1. However, between you and me, there's no other 4th grade class, hahaha. But either way...4th grade class #1 it is. : )

This says the 4th grade upper left, I blacked out our last name. And under the 2 says Noah. and the main shuji ink/calligraphy says..hana, which means flower. Considering the old saying..."April showers, bring May flowers." This is kind of fitting, for the season right now. : )

This was supposed to be a 3-D drawing of a hand. Now Branden's drawing and artistic skills, just slay me! We always knew his art, out of his entire class his/Bran's would be top. He just always had that skill. He can draw any persons face, free hand and be spot on! He can see any picture and draw/copy it free hand, like I said. Branden has always had this freakishly amazing drawing and art skill/talent (Noboru doesn't have it and neither do I). Ever since he was really little, even like age 6. That's one of Branden's many talents. Both boys have this crazy insane swimming skill. They have developed since they were yochien/kindy aged. One of Noah's talents though is running. That kid just has IT! He does. Appreciation of both boys talents. And never wanting either one, to be like the other one. Loving and accepting Branden for being Branden and loving and accepting Noah for being Noah. I think that if you are a parent of more than 1 child, you will see how they differ personlity-wise and talent/skill wise too, but you will agree that you couldn't love EITHER child more. You love them, both the same. Do you know what I mean. : ) Noah draws way better than I do. But he just doesn't have...that natural drawing ability that comes so naturally that Bran does...and that's okay, it is. He has the drawing skill of a delightful 4th grader. And that's a beautiful thing too.  It's perfectly and wonderfully a 4th grade level. Noah came up to me, all excited and proud and pointed at his drawing..."the hand is supposed to be 3-D mama" ...I replied..."I can see totally looks 3-D kiddo, I can see, how hard you worked on this!" So, May 2015, a 3-D hand, by Noah. : )

Almost looks like Noah's, giving his friend a Care Bear stare! Ha! Before math class started, most of the kids went for a restroom break, real quick. Noah and his friend were talking and then his friend, ran real quick to his cubby space at the back of the class, Noah was waiting for his friend to zip back. : ) Noah,  meanwhile was not aware, I took this picture. His friend was getting something from his cubby and on his way to Noah's desk to shoot the breeze before class started. My gorgeous boy! : )

Aha, his friend has returned. : ) Chitter chatter, chitter chatter. : ) I like going to observation days. So, I can see how he's getting along with his peers, who he hangs out with, although I know who he hangs out with, because every single day that it's not raining I have a cluster of  Noah's friends at my door knocking..."can Noah play?" Yes..of course! : ) Hahaha. : ) He's very nice, very kind, he's not bossy or aggressive at all. Kids dig him, the boy classmates and the girl classmates too. He's a very laid back Noah-chan! : ) So he has tons of real good friends. At the set time, all of us parents and even some grandparents went outside. We all stood in the basketball area. And then we went and stood next to our child. The sensei, came and asked each child..."so and so, is this your, mom, dad or grandparent?" We were like 5th to the front when he finally came to us, he asked Noah..."is this your mom?" Noah smiled and said..."yes she is" Granted he met me last month at the first observation day of the year....It's just a formality. : )  And we left after that. Noah and I walked down the hill. And to Olive and drove home. We were all ahead of schedule because Noah and I were home by 3:12pm. Not bad, considering the drill was supposed to end at 3:30pm. Pretty good! Much appreciated. : )
May 26th, we had some fetuccini alfredo with chicken and broccoli. 

We had this, with a side of... a loaf of baguette bread sliced and lightly buttered.

Tuesday, May 26th was the Lifetime movie called Grace of Monaco. 
I had been looking forward to watching this. Nicole Kidman played American actress Grace Kelly, who would become Princess Grace. I thought Nicole Kidman was amazing in this! I loved her in the movie The Others. The first 5 minutes, I kept seeing...Nicole Kidman. But after 5 minutes..I saw Princess Grace.  I knew she was an actress, Princess Grace, back when she was Grace Kelly, and I knew, she died in a fatal car crash. But this movie didn't even go there about the car crash. It told the story of...simply after she was married. Her great unhappiness, which didn't last too long. How Monaco didn't really accept her at first. She watched the news and some city folk said..."she'll never be one of us" ...her husband said she could be in the new Hitchcock movie and then after great pressure he said she couldn't. She thought of divorce for a brief time, even talked to a priest and he said...your kids are royalty though! And he encouraged her to stay and grow into her role as princess. And...she did just that. She ended up becoming this amazing lady and tried so hard to learn french. And walked the streets and met commoners along the street. When Monaco was not getting along with France and it was quite serious, she was the one just jumped in there and tried to help. Defuse the situation. And she did love her husband, very much. It basically just showed her...hiccups trying to get used to another country. I wish they would have ended the story a little better...granted... but I am still glad I saw this. Nicole Kidman absolutely, amazing in this and the late Princess Grace...I didn't even know how amazing you were. And you were. : ) Anyway I am now waiting for the Marilyn Monroe movie this coming week, also on Lifetime.  
Wednesday May, 27th. Noboru had to be at Bran's school at 1:30pm. I was going to go to Costco, that morning. Noboru asked if he could come with me. I said for sure! He loves walking around Costco. : ) He loves going in the electronic department and also, there's free samples scattered throughout the food sections, so he enjoys nibbling on the samples along the way. : ) We arrived at Costco at 9:57am and it opens at 10am. We were right on time. I spotted these navy blue turtle swim trunks in the men's department and I knew those would be perfect for Branden. I was debating a size small or medium. I ended up getting Bran, the mediums. : ) That way he has room to grow, besides I kept the receipt and Costco is fabulous about exchanges, but the mediums fit Branden with room to grow, so we don't need any exchanges. : ) Now all I need, is to go to Sports Depot or somewhere and get Bran a navy rashguard. 

Not a bad price and I appreciate they have US sizing at Costco in Japan, because I know US sizing, like the back of my hand. It's easier for me! Also...just a heads up, they have super cute Crocs for ladies for 1500 yen or 1590 yen? Something like that, about $14 US. They even have size 9. They're not a new style, but they're super cute. The ladies Crocs, are the cute semi ballet type with strap at the back, for us ladies (I should have snapped a picture). I tried some on and I may go back next week and get me a pair. They also had another brand of super cute sandals too, but I didn't go and see what sizes they had on the other ones. And they had regular Crocs styles for kids. 

My cart this Wednesday. A huge salad, huge lean ground beef, that I split in 3 freezer bags, which are now in the freezer. Taco night coming soon. : ) A rotisserie chicken, dinner rolls, huge hunk of colby jack and also a 2 pack of mozzarella cheese shredded and fresh spaghetti and 1 navy turtle swimsuit far left corner of the cart for B. 

Split up the beef, split up the dinner rolls too. : ) The ones in the 2 ziplocs are in the freezer, the rest the family ate. 
We were back home from Costco by 12:20pm. We even had lunch there. Noboru took these 2 pics. All the kids doing yard clean up at the local JHS. Also, Branden had left a message on our answering machine at home. He called while we were at Costco, it said..."mom, I forgot my gardening gloves and chisai towel, please have dad bring those for me, if you can" I got the message and pulled 2 chisai towels out... 1 for Noboru and 1 for Bran and while Noboru was loading up his weed whacker in the mini minivan. Bran called again..worried. "Mom, did you get my message?" "Bran, not to worry honey, daddy has your chisai towel and gardening gloves with him already" Huge sigh of relief and we both hung up. Boy oh boy, was Branden happy to see Noboru there. : ) 
Big huge meeting, if your child is in the class A, whether they be a 7th grader class A, 8th grader class A or 9th grader class A, your parent, grandparent, guardian, needs to show up for you and do some school yard clean up! : ) Class B will be here in August or September. Noboru was off work. He loves to use his weed whacker and some of his fathers club dad's could actually make it too, so he was with his buddies, son and his weed whacker. Hahaha. : )  The teachers had a clip board and walked around asking each adult, whose child you were here for. So they will know if you showed up or not. Dundundun. hahaha. Branden's name was crossed of the list, since Noboru showed up. : ) We had rotisserie chicken and cheesy baked potatoes and veggies for dinner that night, an easy dinner. 
Thursday, May 28th, I had my hair appointment at 10am. For a cut and color. I had been really debating and thinking about coloring my hair a very reddish orange-y color for Summer. I am a natural brunette and while I love being a brunette. I wanted something different for summer. So, I showed my hair dresser this picture. My hair stylist who happens to be amazing. : ) Knew exactly the color, I wanted. I also have had an A length bob since March, but this time I wanted an all 1 length bob, shoulder length and so she gave me an amazing cut too. My hair color looks like this picture. It's vibrant and a very rich color. The color and cut, look super classy. A professional cut and color, by a really talented stylist. My hair is credited all to her, not to me at all. Also, this is sort of funny...I did mention to the boys I was getting a hair cut and color, but I failed to mention I was coloring it a different color. When I picked up Noah from school Thursday afternoon, first thing he said as he hopped in my car was..."mama you hair is red!" Hahaha. "while yes it is" Branden said..."you changed your hair color" Noboru on the other hand knew. So he wasn't too terribly shocked, but he did you look really different. : ) I did ask...bad different or good different. He said good different.  I did have a talk with my stylist about my concerns or worries for July, because I will be wanting another thermal hair straightening and so.. in which order do I book my appointments in July, since I get my straightenings and coloring both from her. She said I can do both on the same day. She'll also give me a treatment afterwards and a haircut in July too. All 3 the same day, cut, straightening and color. Awesome! : )  My hair looks healthier and shinier since I have been going to her. 
What was Noboru doing while I was at the hair salon? He was off spending his day off, doing what he loves! He spent a few hours fishing. We did have a plan though, after my hair appointment and his fishing was done though. We went and bought a weeks worth of meat. Then we went out to lunch. The end of May was the end, of the hand breaded chicken tenderloin at Cocho Ichi. So we went to Coco Ichi for lunch. Noboru had the tonkatsu curry, I had the chicken tenderloin katsu curry with vegetables. 
I made cream stew for supper for everybody. While Noboru went and picked up the kids. Meanwhile, for me, I wanted to have a great big filling salad. See that delicious crunky chicken from the Mini Stop. Love this chicken. It's called crunky not crunchy, hahaha. : ) But it's so good and all white meat. 

This was my dinner last night. It had a bit of mozzarella cheese, avocado chopped up, croutons, a nice salad with different colors of peppers, different types of lettuce. Croutons, black pepper. This had a ton of delicious goodness in there. I could barely wait, to dig right in to my salad! : )  

Everyone enjoyed their cream stew and rice. And I enjoyed a very nice salad.  What did I eat yesterday? For breakfast, I had 1 blueberry greek yogurt with some granola on top. For lunch I had some curry. And for dinner, I had a very nice filling salad, stuffed me for the rest of the night. : )

Anybody keeping up with the Josh Duggar scandal?  It's pretty major news in America and for Americans, as of right now. There is a show in America called 19 Kids and Counting. I watched a few years ago, off and on. It was never one of my favorite shows. But I found the show okay for a bit, because they were interesting. The show centered around a mother, father and their 19 kids. The oldest son being Josh Duggar. The show... shows how they're very good, very moral, huge family values. The mom looks like she's been frozen in the early 80's hair-do wise. The dad Jim Bob has very Beaver Cleaver type hair. The mom went on about modesty. I agree with modesty, I think folks should be modest. But she wore like spandex pants swimming with a long skirt over. They don't believe in shorts for girls or skirt lengths being above the knee. While I do appreciate morals and modesty, like I said. at times while watching. I was often in awe. Often torn between thoughts of..."awe what a good wholesome family' to being torn between thoughts of..."wow they're so super weird" time went on, I grew bored of the show. And when I heard how extremely anti-gay they were, although I sorta expected them to feel that way. But, considering this day and age. Again...I just was over the show... for many reasons. Then last week or was it this past weekend? recently news broke that the eldest son, molested 5 or so many girls. @_@ That was shocking to hear. It was even more shocking to hear for me...because it was from this family which professed to have such high morals. I guess it just came as a shock. It also, came as a shock that the father Jim Bob took about a year before informing authorities about it. The news also said some victims might be his sisters. @_@   Please read this tweet up above. See who it's from? That's right, it's from Melissa Gilbert! Half Pint, everyone! I love Melissa Gilbert. I really enjoyed Melissa's tweet right here! Saying "The hypocrisy in this instance is inexcusable!" She tweeted that in support of Montel Williams earlier statement.

Thank you Montel Williams. Josh Duggar sat at the council for family values! How ironic is that. Talk about the pot, calling the kettle black! @_@
Montel tweeting...he just wanted to speak out against what Josh did, because what he did was wrong..on so many levels. 

Exactly right Mr. Williams. Who was Josh to say or judge, who was a danger to kids?  Like Melissa Gilbert said...hypocrisy! True that..true that! 

And Bette Midler! Also had to tweet her 2 cents on the whole Josh Duggar thing as well. I absolutely adore Bette! I felt her comment was so dead on perfect! Her first sentence was fantastic, but her last sentence was pure gold! "Kids is there anything more delicious than irony?"

I hear that, many commercial advertisers are canceling if their ads run during 19 Kids and Counting. TLC is deciding if they should now pull the show or what they should do? My thoughts on the matter? I feel badly for everyone involved. However, I feel if you prance around like...I'm perfect, my morals are higher than yours. People will indeed measure you with a taller and sharper measuring stick. And if you get caught doing something like this. It's going to explode. Like a mega ton bomb... type explosion like what's happening now. Every morning, I hear another advertiser ...meaning big conglomerate corporation wants no dealings with 19 Kids and Counting because of the whole Josh scandal. I tell ya right now, and I've mention this on my blog before many times... I'm not perfect. Not even a little tiny bit. I make mistakes weekly. I have d'oh moments weekly too. I don't have all the answers, not even by a long shot. Like I always say...I'm human. Far from being perfect. I just try to be the best person/human being, I can. Also, when something slightly similar happened with the Honey Boo Boo family about 6 months ago...TLC immediately as in less than 1 day decided to cancel their show...without hesitation. I think TLC is having a harder time with this because, while 19 Kids and Countings' rating have been slipping this past year, I just read that this morning. Their show was still hugely popular. Especially among more conservative people in the US. I think though this...we need to not lose sight why people are upset with Josh. They're upset for good reason...because Josh molested little girls (if you are a parent, same as I am, this must be something out of, your worst nightmares). And I think for that fact alone, we should at least be all in agreement about that. What he did, was so beyond super wrong. Absolutely inexcusable.  So anyway, I don't want to talk about him anymore for today...we will see how this whole thing plays out. And we'll see what TLC decides about 19 Kids and Counting.  Some people online said, keep taping, but without Josh. Some said, do a spin off with the 2 newly married daughters instead. As for me? I think they should cancel the show. Or at least take Josh out of the show, for sures.

Anyway, today's Friday here in Japan. Both the boys are home from school and we are having sweet and sour chicken & rice for dinner tonight. Have a lovely weekend everyone. : ) 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Bits and pieces...

This picture should have gone on here, probably 3 posts ago, hahaha. Noboru LINE messaged me this picture the day it happened and instead of putting this picture on my computer, I forgot about this picture until last night. The day after Branden's over night trip with his fellow 8th graders. The 8th graders had the day off of school, on the day after...which was a Tuesday. Since Branden was home and Noboru would be home they made a father & son fishing date. So that's exactly what they did, after Noah had went to school, the 2 of them ate a quick breakfast here and they headed out to spend the morning and early afternoon together fishing. Branden caught this fish, and then released it right back into the canal. They both came back around lunch time. Both looked like they had a blast spending time together. : ) 
Saturdays comfort food night. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and broccoli. We also had gravy.

It was nice that the 4 of us, just sat and enjoyed our dinner. All 4 of us pitched in afterwards to get the kitchen back to normal after cooking. Noah packed away the leftovers. Branden wiped the stove down. Noboru loaded the dishwasher. And since I cooked, I helped here and there, but they did the brunt of the clean up on Saturday. Which was nice.  : ) 

Chicken teriyaki night. Some black pepper and garlic salt, on 1 side only. Noboru had a thigh. 

This was so good. Chicken teriyaki, rice, mushrooms, 3 fries and some broccoli. Family dinners with lots of talk, chatter and stories from the kids and hubby. : )

Obento for Branden and Noah, on Monday. From quite a while back, I started packing them lunch daily. I know what you're thinking...holy crap...say whatttt? @_@ Hahaha. Believe me, in America you can bring a lunch or eat school lunch, you can have lunch anyway you want, however in Japan. At least as far as our school went all these 8 years. It was lunch from school only. It is now no longer like that. Are you shocked? Yes so was I.  Which probably makes sense all the lunch meat buying and whatnot. I don't know where this officially started, but I can only tell you what I know. A boy named D, in Branden's class has had pretty serious allergies with food. Poor D. Since the first grade, D has brought obento about twice a week. Because in Japan you get a monthly lunch menu and so...whenever D's family or mom sees the bad thing, he's allergic to, she'll pack him a lunch, which is very smart. Then when Bran was in the 4th grade or was it the 3rd grade, a boy switched to our school, but in Bran's grade. He's also suffering allergies. And kids in other grades too, not by the hundreds just about 8 kids in the whole school type a number,  so not like a school wide epidemic, I assure you. : ) Hahaha. Noah has 1 kiddo (a girl) in his class, with food allergies as well. And when Bran entered JHS, there was 1 kid from the other school too (a kid we call the professor because he's so super smart, all the kids also call him the professor : ). Isn't this just wild? I don't think any kid, when I was growing up...ever had any food allergies.. At least I don't remember *ever* hearing anything like this before ever. Then there's 2 kids in Noah's class who just plain don't eat the lunch at all. Remember how I mentioned months ago, how many times lunch was being canceled (pack your own lunch day). Well, they finally came up can decide if you'd like to eat the school lunch or bring a packed lunch. However you have to decide by the semester. You can't switch it daily or weekly or monthly. That would drive the lunch ladies crazy. Our town is really super small population wise. And our school population is small too. So what the school board decided will fill out a form every semester, "yes my kid will have school lunch" or "no he or she will bring a packed lunch." Why did I decide to go for the packed lunch? Well, when Branden was in his last year in yochien we asked some friends of ours, Noboru's coworker who lives in our same housing community has 2 older kids. we asked them about the school lunches. Granted they're both from bigger cities originally, the parents. But they both laughed and said...for even them these parents...they'd personally dislike the lunches for our town. Because they are foods (her exact words, she was an exchange student in Florida the mom, so she speaks English) " the lunches are what, most old people would like and love, but not younger kids." Lots of natto. Lots of fish, and I do mean lots of fish. Oden in winter. It's very Japanese taste. And unfortunately, my kids have very western tastebuds. As do I. However I wish they had more flexible taste buds. But for whatever reason they have been ganbatte-ing and trying their best with the school lunch. Many times they will only drink the milk or just eat the white rice. So, I have to make sure I make a huge breakfast for them Mon-Fri. Undokai season worries me most...because they are outside in the hot sun for hours marching and when you have not eaten since breakfast and your stomach's all rumbly, yeah...I worried my kids would faint or something especially skinny Noah. However...I would never mention it to the school. I often picked the boys up...with after school snack in the car. And they'd devour it. : ) So...with the allergy thing happening. And the 2 kids in Noah's class refusing to eat their lunch at all, Noah was not refusing but trying to eat...pick some things but really trying. Like for 3-4 years straight. Poor kids. From what I hear from my friends in Japan living in bigger cities... their school lunches are fantastic and the kids love them. Here it's pickled root, fish and more fish. How can two 100% Japanese kids (meaning Noah's 2 classmates) hate fish? I have zero idea, different strokes for different folks I suppose. It just goes to show/prove, not all Japanese folks like fish and that's okay. I'm sure not all Americans like cheeseburgers either hahaha. : )  But...maybe because our particular school makes such old fashioned Japanese food, versus what you'd find in a more modern city in Japan....or perhaps kids taste buds are changing or? I really can't explain. However....apparently it was all school wide...not just for my 2 boys classes. This was causing a problem in all grades and all classes. Kids not eating. And on top of that... the kids with allergies bringing lunches (which they had a real medical reason for needing a lunch, I fully agree and think so). Which then snowballed and caused the kids who can't eat/having difficulties eating...their parents then wanted to bring them a lunch too? And apparently this thing snowballed. To an even bigger snowball. @_@ I could hear some buzz, but as I wasn't involved. All we we all got the note. And I thought about. This is Bran and Noah's chance as well, I guess. Nobody at our school knew...that our kids were also struggling with the lunch. Is it going to be more work for me in the morning? Ummm yeah. worries, though I am tough. I handled making Branden's lunch at yochien for 3 and a half years straight and same for Noah 3 and a half years straight too. And yochien was an option too...we could have had school lunch, if we chose. How did this thing come to be? Apparently because so many kiddos had allergies. The kids who had no allergies had a full reason... but then the kids who were hungry because they didn't eat lunch.... their angry parents then questioned the powers that be...why can't they too bring their kid a lunch? The school officials checked the official rules and what they found was...there was *no* written rule anywhere, that said you must eat the school lunch. It only said...every one has a *right* to lunch. So basically everyone has a right to eat. But since many were not eating (by their own choosing yes, not talking about the allergy kiddos) but...since they did have that right to eat...and since they were not eating the school lunch, that yes you could bring your lunch. But they don't want to be wishy washy.. to the lunch ladies either. Do they make enough school lunch for 100 kids or 200 kids, ykwim. So they came up decide by the semester. My thoughts on this? In America this would be normal...pack a lunch or buy a lunch, your choice, nobody cares, lol. But here...I am really glad our school has come up with the rule of...they just want you to eat. So we signed the forms as did the rest of the 3 schools in our town. And now Bran and Noah bring a lunch from home daily. They say they look forward to lunch time now. They don't have any trouble concentrating in class. They get full tummy's and can concentrate better. And so...good thing for all the kids in our town. Noah says the 2 boys who didn't eat lunch the last 4 years are now eating their mom's packed lunch happily daily. Also, because this is sorta private the kid in question will be nameless...but a bigger plus sized boy, sweetheart of a kid, in Noah's class, his mom was worried the school lunch wasn't enough (quantity wise) for her child, this I heard from the actual mom herself, while at the pick up at the plaza a month or two back, a couple of us mom's were chatting and shooting the breeze, while waiting for our kids and the subject of the lunch issues, was brought up and when she mentioned her worries, I could feel her sense of worry, she's a mother and loves her son, just like we all love our kids. She was the one who introduced herself at the meeting years back to everyone "I am the mother whose kid eats the school lunch, the fastest" Aww, and she's a wonderful lady by the way, really nice : ) Hey, at least she has a sense of humor. And so now... she can pack him a nice bigger lunch, for him and so they're both really happy too, he now bring a home packed lunch to school daily. Who many folks had their own personal reasons for wanting to pack their own lunch, right. @_@ Hahaha.  Weirdest school ever in Japan? Yes, could be! Hahaha. But also...most open minded school in Japan too. But...interesting and the kids...the kids all get to eat...what they want (sandwich, a handful of their mom's onigiri, salad) and how much they want. Bran says over half of his grade now brings a packed lunch. And Noah says the same, about half his class now bring a lunch from home too. Basically, if your kid has no allergies, and loves the school lunch fantastic. But, if your kid has allergies or just plain dislikes the schools lunch, or if the amount isn't enough...or for whatever reason...fine too. Anyone is more than welcome to bring their own lunch too. Sometimes, I pack up something we had the night before. Sometimes it's sandwich and some fruit on the side. I don't make fabulous glorious lunches, but I pack lunches I know my boys will eat. I no longer have to make a big huge breakfast Mon-Fri...just a light breakfast is fine because I know they'll eat a nice filling lunch from home too. So no more worries. : )

Any other bits to add? Today is Noah's observation day and also... the emergency drill starting at 2:30-3:30pm wow that's going to be a long drill. Hahaha. I will go to his school around 1pm-ish. To observe Noah's class.

Tomorrow, all 8th graders and their parents must be at the school at 1:30pm and do yard cleanup at the local JHS. Noboru's off work tomorrow, and I have a house to clean... so he will go and cut the grass. I don't have to do that tomorrow, since Noboru's going. Phew, plus I can tackle the house while he takes his weed whacker to the school.  Meanwhile Thursday is my hair cut and color day at the hair salon.

I placed an Amazon US order a few days ago. I picked up quite a few DVD's. Mostly older DVD's from the 80's. But movies that I really love and would like to own. The only new one, I picked up was Fifty Shades of Grey. Hubba hubba, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. What else, I picked up, Blood Vows, the Story of a Mafia Wife, this was a made for TV movie with Joe Penny and Melissa Gilbert. And I remember really liking this movie and it was never for sale. Meaning they didn't make it on DVD. Now they do, so I ordered that. I also ordered, Corrina Corrina with Whoopi Goldberg. Mr. Baseball, Gung Ho (these 2, I owned on VHS and not only do we not have a VHS anymore, lol... I love these 2 movies but I fear someday they will stop making the DVD for these, so I am glad I had the chance to get Mr. Baseball and Gung Ho on DVD.) We own the Giving Tree. And if you've read it...don't you feel sorry for that poor tree. That boy is just awful to the tree! Rotten kid in the Giving Tree book, hahaha. So, I ordered the Taking Tree. I can't wait for it to get here...I hope the tree does better in this version. : ) Hahaha.

It's 75 degrees F outside right now. Branden rode his bike today. For dinner tonight, we're having that chicken broccoli fettuccine meal with some bread and butter on the side. : )  Alrighty, I better motor. I have to start getting myself ready for Noah's observation day today. : )  Have a great day you guys. : ) 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lunch date with the hubster and trying to get our summer vacation plans sorted out...

Yesterday, Noboru and I had a lunch date. We went and had Indian food for lunch, at our favorite restaurant, in the small city, nearest our town. I had the kobocha curry (of course, my fave) it was a combo/set. Noboru picked the pork keema curry set. It was a very nice lunch. And we got to chit chat, enjoy each others company. And try to figure... this vacation stuff out. : )

What else have I done this week, went for my walks....cleaned the shower/tub area. Scrubbed the toilets, vacuumed upstairs, and dusted upstairs. Washed the kids bedding. Just regular ol' boring things. : ) I also went and picked up a weeks worth of groceries. Let me grab my menu real quick and fill you all in, brb (be right back) Tonight/Thursday, we are having, ginger pork, yep we had it last Saturday, was it Saturday?...I know it was within the last week though, but we love it and so we will have it tonight, with salad and veggies and stuff and rice of course too, Friday/tomorrow, we will be having yakisoba (already have the cabbage and bean sprouts). Saturday....will be comfort food city for us....we're having southern fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy and broccoli on the side (yumm) And the last 3 meals we are having and which I already have the meat and ingredients chicken teriyaki, chicken paremsan and that chicken fettuccine alfredo dish with broccoli, do you know which one I mean...I use those packets I brought back from Guam, it's really super good and fairly easy to make. The last 3 meals I am unsure which days or order we will have those.

Vacation. Where to go, what to decide. Here's the nitty gritty. And again..I often wonder. Should I keep this stuff private or should I share this. But in any case, here you go. Of course only read this if you're interested or curious if not, no worries.

If I lived in my home country. Our vacations would...I would hope they would be...of us going to far off places. Exotic countries. Having new experiences. And whatnot. You know what I mean, I hope. However...since I am living in a foreign country. And I live in a far off land. And while I am busy all year long doing...mommy stuff. I do get homesick every once in a while. I do miss being in my home country. I miss walking in a Target or shopping mall. And hear English everywhere. To walk into a Chik-fil-A and appreciate how good those are. Or go to a movie without this movie available in English. It is those tiny minute details. That I miss. For example...When you are standing in line at a Target and can have a conversation no matter how brief with the person checking out in front of you or the cashier. In your native language. So...while I do pretty good in Japan. Often it's just easier for us to go to the US during our summer vacation. It's familiar. It's comfortable. I "get" the people. They get me.  It's just like a huge exhale type of..... Phew! that respect... we don't venture to too many far off places. Because it's that 1 time of year we can just all let our hair down to speak. And not worry. Omg... did they understand me fully and completely. We are also water people and beach people. So for us it seems Hawaii is most comfortable. and we go there for the most part... every single summer. In fact we can go this year if we decide in the end too.'s the new updated thoughts, we have been debating.

We have been wanting to go to California since last year. Do you remember how we originally last year... wanted to go to Universal Studios Hollywood. That was our #1 goal of last years summer vacation but...since I was a VP of the yakuin last year... I had ZERO flexibility in my schedule so...the only available days for me...was a very small window of days and so we tried for those days and we didn't get on the flight and the long drive back from Haneda airport. The huge disappointment and last minute hotel booking and the very next day we zipped off to Hawaii. Hawaii has never let us down. Hahaha. Oahu is the best. : ) However...we want to try getting to Universal Studios in California again this year.  that is one of our hopeful places. But let me tell you all the positives for us going and all the negatives. #1, I have gone to Universal Studios when I was a child. Younger than Branden is now, but I think a year older than Noah is right now. I was maybe in the 5th or 6th grade maybe. @_@ So, I went to Universal Studios about a billion years ago, I know it has changed a ton. Hello...I saw KITT from Knight Rider there, lol. Noboru meanwhile went once about a million years ago too. Noboru and I have never been to Universal Studios Hollywood together before. We have gone to USJ twice, once with only Branden (pre-Noah being born) and once when Noah was super duper little. Neither son has any memory of USJ at all. But, both have seen pictures. : ) If we go to California. The positive is we go to my home country. Noboru lived there for 12-13 years so he's comfortable in America too. We 4 are all very comfortable in California. We have In N Out Burger. We have El Pollo Loco. Popeye's Chicken and Biscuits. They have China Town, Olvera Street (I blogged about that street before)...Target, Walmart. Shopping malls. Factory Outlet malls. Beaches are sorta ugly compared to Hawaii, so am not sure if we'd go. We could go to movies. On top of that, we'd hit Universal Studios. So, we'd have a very fantastic vacation in California. Another plus is the 9 hour or so you know how many free movies we can watch on the airplane, in that amount of time back and forth, to and from, tons. Plus that hot fudge or strawberry sundae dessert cart they roll around. Amazing. Okay get ready for the cons.

Will the lines be super long at Universal Studios? It will be summer in America too. And if the lines are super long... we might have to spring for those expensive front of the line passes which pretty much doubles your entrance fee. Which we really do not want to pay double. So the long lines are a huge worry. Also crime. Noboru feels Japan is very safe. He feels pretty safe-ish in Hawaii too. He also feels totally safe in Guam. However...don't ask me why. Whenever we go to California Noboru is on super extreme high alert. He feels or worries... we will be robbed...killed. Shot in a drive by. @_@ Lock the doors, lock the doors. I mean this guy...though wonderful... is on super level red... level 10 out of 10...type alert when we go to California (he doesn't worry in Denver and didn't worry when we went to Oregon either). When in California...he is constantly telling me to keep my bag in the front of my body, lol. Another thing...the US dollar and Japanese yen exchange rate at the moment, is terrible. Not good! Perfect time for Americans to come to Japan. Horrendous time for us from Japan, to go to the US. Granted, we can most definitely go, we wait all year for this trip, we're ready. It's just not the best time for the yen. Exchange rate wise. However, we would be staying at a crew hotel in a very nice suburb area. So that would probably ease Noboru's worry of crime. OMG, lol. @_@ : )  We'd fly Delta, so it's obviously for us...going to be a pretty much free flight for us 4, round trip. And since we'd be staying at an amazing hotel...meaning high rating via Trip Advisor and Expedia, the regular rate is $100 US a night... but with our airline discount it would be like $60 a night. Very affordable for us. And we like affordable! : ) So flight and hotel costs... for us would be super cheap even considering the exchange rate. So this trip is still very easily doable. And with us taking our own airline versus taking an OA (other airline) it means we can find out if the flight is full, switch flights and whatnot. Plus there's like 2 flights via Narita and 1 flight via Haneda. So us getting there... would be easy with so many flights daily and with me not being yakuin this year... we are super flexible schedule wise.

So would the kids love Universal Studios...heck yes. However will we be in huge hours upon hours long lines, per each ride. Biggest worry for me. Gosh, I really hope not. And that's 1 thing, the lines...wait times for each ride... that's really worrying us. So we have been watching videos of families on vacation there in July. We look for on videos...are they in long crowds??? Is it like a huge long wait time??? So those are some of our thoughts on California.

2nd destination thought. South Korea. #1 you have to know how HUGELY popular Korea is right now. If you are in the US, Just a walk into your closest Neiman Marcus or Nordies and you'll notice the famous brand....Sulwhasoo being sold there. For those of you who do not know. Think of Sulwhasoo as Korea's Chanel for skincare and cosmetics. It's owned by Amore Pacific. They sell many many brands. From high end brands, like Amore and Sulwhasoo and Hera (those are Amore Pacific's top 3 high end brands). The mid brands like Laneige (you may recognize that brand being sold in the US at Target.) They also sell Aritaum, mid range brand Innisfree too.... all the way down to the more affordable Etude House which also owned by Amorepacific. They own Iope (the first brand to come out with the cushion foundation. Anyway...what I want to say is Korea is huge right now. Hella huge! Popular. Walk into a Sephora and spot all the Korean brands now being sold there. Anyway here's the pros for us going to Korea. Noboru and I, took the kids to Korea when Noah was about 1 or under 1. I know it was in like November. I know I blogged about it. Noah was super tiny. Branden was like 3 or 4 years old. Neither of the kids obviously have any memory of going there. Also at the time I went, I was not into skincare or cosmetics really at all. Doh me!!! I walked right passed all those great shops that now...I can just kick myself for not going into. Hahaha. : ) The biggest pro..for me is...remember how that 1 time we went to Bangkok Thailand? The kids clearly remember going there.. for what it's worth hahaha. However, I'm not from Bangkok neither is Noboru, obviously...and for us going to a 3rd country (neither of our home country's)...was so exciting and fun for us as a family. A country none of us speak the language. Were... we daring enough to go and order this or that? I tell ya...our trip was very fun going to Bangkok. We couldn't read the signs. At the supermarket while most stuff was clear what it was...some stuff was a guess and that was fun! If we went to Korea...we would have that same excitement....the whole...neither of us speaks Korean or is from Korea. But it's so exciting...who is going to order our breakfast today...should I try? Should we send Noboru to go and order some food? Should we put Branden to the test and let him try ordering in Korea? I do have a Korean phrase book from our last trip. Which we left the phrasebook at home. LOL. But it is that whole...going to a 3rd country (neither his nor mine)...that excitement and fun, vibe you get. Where you REALLY REALLY feel we are so totally on vacation here. Also South Korea is very safe. It's about as safe as Japan. So fear of being robbed or shot in a drive by there. @_@ You know what I mean. Of course as always, we will careful. Also the exchange rate between Korea and Japan is pretty much... dollar for dollar. Yen for won. So we wouldn't lose 20 cents to each dollar. That sort of thing. Also...they have amusement parks. We would like very much to go to Everland. They also have the world's biggest indoor amusement park called Lotte World. However we would like to go to Everland. Also I think the lines would probably be less than...Universal Studios hahaha. though, I could be wrong about the lines. All those fabulous skincare and cosmetic shops. Innisfree, Nature Republic, Aritaum, Skinfood, Missha, The Saem, Banila Co, Sulwhasoo, Clio, It's Skin. Plus...all those one of a kind shops that sell cool purses and bags. And accessories and whatnot. Plus, since this is vacation...we could walk all over the food markets. We could ride the subways and trains and sight see. And eat street food (vendors selling food at stalls all over)...the whole buzz and vibe of being in a 3rd country, is very cool. Having absolute zero familiarity there. Making mistakes. Did we...just order the wrong thing? What a laugh we'd get! It would flat out feel like...a very fun vacation. We'd be there for a full week. I'd probably only use 1 day to shop for cool skincare and cosmetics...I shop quick... so the rest of our days would be...just really cool. Just bumming around and eating new foods...taking tons of pics. Going to a new to us, amusement park.

The cons for going to Korea. We would not be using Delta. However we would use our miles and we'd use the mileage and on top of that...we would only pay around 10,000 yen ($100 US...that would be the extra cash our mileage would not cover, so again cheap for us) however they would be confirmed seats. Granted crappy economy seats, but at least we'd get there, so no worries. And...the flight is very short. So that would be fine. No time for tons of movies in flight, bummer. Hotels are slightly higher in cost in Korea Asia...most hotel rooms have twin beds. In America it is common to get a room with 2 double beds or sometimes even 2 queen beds. But in Korea and even Japan too. It is common to see rooms with only 2 twin beds,  You can't fit Noboru, me, Bran and Noah in 2 tiny twin beds 
you want to move around in bed and stretch too, ykwim. And so we have to get a larger room with an extra bed and so the cost is about 10,000-12,000 yen a night. So higher yes...but nothing you can do... really about it... since rooms with 2 double beds are uncommon. Also...we worry..what if Everland is a lame amusement park. Though it doesn't look too terribly lame by the videos we've seen. So again...we crank up YouTube.....any videos. And we look and see. No real cons really about going to Korea. Except bed issues... so the hotels are slightly more expensive. And again we want a clean place/hotel with great reviews off Trip Advisor and Expedia, and we have so far 2 hotels we'd like to pick from. And they have 3 twin beds in each room and the kids would share 1 twin bed, which would be acceptable. Wish we could fly Delta. But other than that... no real huge...blinking reason not to go. Again we went to Bangkok and didn't go to *any* amusement park and we didn't care...we also didn't hit the beach but you know what...we had a BLAST being in Bangkok, and I sorta think no matter what...we'd have a blast in Korea too. we stick with familiar and go to California. Or do we spice things up and take a leap of faith and head to South Korea. Both places have many pros and many cons. Also, you may not enter Korea without having at least 6 months left on your passport (expiration), meaning if your passport expires within 6 months while entering Korea, you may not enter. So...we know the boys do not have 6 months left on their passports, which is why we need to run to the US Embassy. Going to America, on the other hand, with an American passport, that will expire at the end of summer, would not matter for the boys, because they are American citizens, and are most welcome anytime, regardless, when their passport expires, whether it be, in 1 month, 1 week. And same for them entering Japan, because they are citizens of both. However...the kids entering Korea with less than 6 months on their passports, since they are just visitors, would cause major problems. So...the passports have to get done. Even though we are unsure of which country right's best either way... to get their passports done now.  Sigh. This is a really hard decision you guys. Some days we go...we're going to California. All the delicious food, the familiarity, Universal Studios, movies etc. And then 2 days later we'll be like...screw it...let's go to Korea and see what we think...I mean...we haven't been there in like 10 years. And what do the kids think? Noah wants to go to Korea. Branden prefers California. But both really honestly don't way or the other...they're just glad to be going someplace. Before we went to Bangkok 2 years ago, the kids were like..."meh Bangkok." Not to make them sound ungrateful or anything, because they're not. They appreciate how lucky they are. But the reason I mention it is... after leaving Bangkok, they were like..."Bangkok is so cool!!!" They learned *so* much from that trip and saw so much. Even now 2 years later, they still sometimes will bring up Bangkok. So...I imagine...they'd learn new stuff....too, if we went to Korea. Well... as for right now...we have not decided which place to go. When would we be going...First, 2nd or at the latest the 3rd week of July. We will go before school lets out in Japan. Because...all Noboru's coworkers battle it out...for those vacation weeks when school is on break here in Japan. but nobody requests days off... before school lets out. This way....if we can avoid...battling and vying for vacation days with his coworkers... fantastic and all the better for us.  Last year...I was only available after the summer festival was over and after school was on summer break. Which really boxed in our days. Now we can go any day. Huge difference since last year. : )  Should we go to California and hit Universal Studios. The Transformers ride, Despicable Me ride, The Simpsons ride, etc, hit Sephora and Target, etc etc. Or go to a new and exciting country. And see many many new things, have many new experiences, try many new and delicious foods. Noboru and I have never taken this long to decide ever. We're always really good at deciding and moving on. The problem this time...both places sound so freaking good, we can't really decide which place to try. There's also always plan C....and we can say forget both places and just go to Honolulu. LOL. Anyways...we are having 1 heck of a hard time trying to get this all figured out, you guys.

Anything else left to add...I have an appointment next Thursday, for a haircut and color. : ) 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mother's Day and other good bits thrown in...

Happy (belated) Mother's Day, to all of you. My Mother's Day was excellent! Granted, I was minus one of my children on Mother's Day. : ) Since he was on his over night trip. But this is how my Mother's Day went in a nut shell real quick. : ) I woke up freakishly early Sunday on Mother's Day to make Branden, his breakfast and drive him to the plaza because that morning was his over night trip. After dropping him off, I drove home. Had myself my 2nd and final cup of coffee. I did some online stuff. Read online news, checked emails. I went upstairs, washed my face and whatnot and went in Noah's bedroom for a 5 minute snuggle buggle. : ) I love my kids, I flat out adore them. Noah woke up after a bit. Went downstairs. We had some breakfast together. Noboru finally woke up and had some breakfast and coffee. Noboru left to work. He would be gone until 8pm-ish. So it was just Noah and I on Mother's Day. And that's okay. What I received for Mother's Day this year was a pair of really cute purple Panasonic headphones with extra bass (no treble, lol). And some essence by Missha. After breakfast, a few hours after, maybe around 11am-ish that day, Noah's friend came to ask him if he'd like to play? So Noah asked me..."my friend's here, should I send him away since it's Mother's Day today?" I said..."Oh honey, of course not, if someone you like asks you to go and ride bikes, and it's a nice day, by all means go and play." And so Noah smiled widely and he got on his bike and he rode bikes with 2 boys from his class. : ) They rode around and around all over. Noah came home really happy and very thirsty around 3pm. Could have been closer to 2:50pm actually. He was a sweaty mess, so I sent him to shower and get soapy clean. I meanwhile threw one of those frozen Costco cheese pizza, ykwim, in the oven and I split 1 bag of salad (it's for 2 people) into 2 bowls. I got out the vinaigrette and when Noah came down, we enjoyed a fast, quick and easy dinner. I appreciated not having to cook on Mother's Day. After that, we quickly tossed all the dishes into the dishwasher. And we started to have a movie marathon. It might have been Mother's Day, but I let Noah pick the movies. : ) We watched, Big Hero 6 and the Terminator 2 (because this is Noah's favorite Terminator movie. : ) And then Noah fell asleep, completely zonked to the world. I carried my boy upstairs to his bed, covered him with his blanket and kissed his forehead, while he happily slept. I meanwhile jumped in the shower. I missed Branden a little bit of course, but I know how important it is for him to grow as a person to be on trips like this. So, I was happy for Bran. I watched TV in my nightgown/sleep tee. And Noboru came home and took a shower. A very low key Mother's Day and that's okay, totally cool. : ) 

This is a cushion bag for electronics and I bought it at the Daiso. I really like this bag and I keep my headphones in here. I might go back and get a few more of these bags, for the kids for when we travel this summer. Nice to have a place to keep all your electronic type stuff in 1 bag. And I really like that it's cushioned inside. And they had different color bags of this too. : )
The night Branden came home from his trip, we had baked ravioli, salad and garlic bread. 
What else, have I been doing? Cleaning house during the weekday, running to the grocery store, laundry, blanket washing. Same ol' same ol' But it always needs to be done. This day, I cleaned the living room, all the dusting, dusting the TV stand, coffee table, dusting the ceiling fans, book shelf. Windex-ed the windows. Just all the little bits that need attention, you know what I mean. : ) 

Upstairs and downstairs had to get a major window sil cleaning. Gosh they get so gross... so they really needed it. : ) 

Also, anyone see outside those super tiny red bugs. They come out before rainy season. They're so tiny, like smaller than the tip of a pen. You'd almost miss them, if you didn't look closely. They come every spring before rainy season. I really hate them. They don't come into the house. They seem to like outside, but they'll sometimes crawl on my laundry pole. On the back patio floor. Sidewalks outside. I wipe my pole down every time I use it, however in this season, I spray my laundry pole legs down with this bug spray (not the laundry poles themselves, that hold the clothes just the base/legs and it keeps them from climbing higher, go figure). It keeps them from climbing my pole, so this spray is peace of mind for me. Those tiny red bugs hate this bug spray. And I also spray every window sil down in the house every 3 days, just lightly to make sure...they don't come around. Anyway, just wondering if those super tiny red bugs are driving anyone else bonkers. : ) 
Almond milk, it's available here everywhere now. Where we live, and we live in the countryside. The kids really enjoy it. : ) 
If you're American, you'll know everyone was talking about this fight! Boxing of course and this was a highly anticipated fight. The Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquio fight. Floyd won, however afterwards everyone was upset because apparently Manny did not report he was injured before the fight. To me, if someone lost, just say they lost and turn the page. You know what I mean. But anyway...I saw this picture online and it cracked me up! That's so Kanye! LOL. : ) 
Saturday, May 16th, I decided to give the kitchen a hard thorough cleaning. Washed up the table cloth and moved all the chairs to the living room. The boys wiped the baseboards down, with those Kirkland wipes. I vacuumed and then I prepared to mop. 

The boys both antibacterial wiped the trash cans. I have 2 very helpful boys.

I then got crack-a-lackin' on the mopping. Mopped with that thick small squeeze bottle of Mr Clean in Gain scent twice and then rinsed twice. Turned the ceiling fan on and opened the kitchen windows and let the floors dry. They dried super quick with the breeze and then I put everything back in it's spot. We had ginger pork for dinner with salads and veggies and rice and whatnot that night. 

Next day, Sunday May 17th, I baked a delicious yellow cake from a box. And let it cool and then frosted the cake with some chocolate frosting. I also prepped dinner. Fried chicken (karaage) for supper. Yum, every one's favorite in our house. 

Karaage, rice and veggies. We all 4 ate and enjoyed a nice family Sunday dinner and we all had cake and ice cream for dessert too. Sunday dinners are the best. : ) 

Cake and ice cream. Dessert Sunday evening. : )  Anyway those are some of the things we have been up to lately.

Any other bits to add before I send this off? Hmm. Branden has a big test this Thursday. He's been studying like crazy for it lately. Meanwhile next week, I have to go to Noah's school for an emergency drill. On top of that, it is a free observation day...meaning you can go any time of day for that day. But the last class, you need to be there for, the last class and then wait for them to have the emergency disaster drill afterwards. : ) So that's next week. Anything else to add? We have an appointment at the US Embassy in Tokyo to renew the boys passports, early June. If they're under 18 or 16 or whatever you can't mail it in, like I can mail mine in. For kids you need to get yourself all the way to Tokyo and apply in person. Noah's expires, end of August, Branden's expires end of September, however getting down to Tokyo is a pain in the we will do both of theirs at the same time and save us a trip to Tokyo. Also...considering we will more than likely, be traveling twice this summer overseas...once when we 4 go on our big family vacation...hoping for July and the 2nd trip will more than likely be just the kids and I, either... in August or July... more than likely the kids and I will hop over to Guam, enjoy a few movies and the tropical beach and spend some time with grandpa/my dad.Whenever they don't have school and the flight is open. So easier for us to do this passport stuff...before we travel. Also some countries will not let you enter, if you have less than a few months on your passport left, granted going to America would be no problem or to Japan would be no problem... but we are also considering a 3rd country for travel. So for us getting it done earlier is best. I have since already made 2 appointments with the American Embassy...because both kids need an appointment. So Bran has an appointment set and Noah's is after Branden's, but same day. Just like a 20 minute time difference. 

Vacation. We like to take 1 big one, a year as a family. You know...we all work hard. The kids hit the books hard and go to school. Noboru works hard. I also work hard at home. We like knowing we have some sort of reward for the whole year. That 1 trip a year, to really look forward to. Do you know what I mean. However, we can't decided where to go. We have it widdled down to 2 destinations. We already have the hotels picked for both destinations. After reading reviews off Trip Advisor and Expedia, for weeks and weeks, hahaha. One place is in America and the other place is in Asia. I'm not trying to be all....secret squirrel about it either. I will totally fill you all in soon. It's just...trying to decide...which place. We have been watching Youtube videos of families at both destinations, having a blast. Meanwhile, Noboru and I are like stuck...50% wanting to go to place A and 50% wanting to go to place B. One day we'll both be in agreement and we'll say...we are going to place A. And the next day..we'll both sheepishly say..hmm saw a good video on YouTube about place B. Then next thing you know...we'll be all gung ho for place B. We literally are like 50/50 stuck. Hahaha. it the end of the world type of a problem? Not even. However it has been taking up a lot of our free time lately. Preoccupying my time. if I get a free moment. Instead of updating this blog, if I get a chance...I prefer research place A or place B. @_@ So, for now...we are still undecided. Anyway as Homer Simpson used to say...Doh! : )