Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Christmas lights on the house! Cheeseburger night at home. Rice Krispy treats, Peanut Butter cookies from scratch. A Costco run. My parent teacher conference at the local JHS and Bran’s options for high school and some uni options and thoughts too...

This will be a fun hodge podge... misc, bits and pieces type a post! It will be fun. And I'll try to hurry up and get this sucker posted ASAP. As always, I have so much to tell you guys! So much! But with school winding down and the kids about to go on Christmas break. Their last official day is December 22nd. And with Noah's marathon next week, December 15th. And little things here and there, I just haven't gotten around to post much. Hold on brb, I just heard I have a new email and I am waiting for an email from an Esty lady, I am having something made... custom for Noah for Christmas. Be right back. Alright...no it wasn't her! It was an email from Gap, lol! Anyways...before Thanksgiving, I mentioned making rice krispy treats! And sure, I did! Here's the pic! 

The fam... sure enjoyed these!

After Thanksgiving, we put the Christmas lights on our house! When the kids were itty bitty... it all fell to Noboru doing all the lights and me too. I'd help.. but he'd do the most of the light hanging, because I was busy keeping my eyes on the boys. But luckily now that the kids are older and at a much more helpful stage. Everyone can help and pull their own weight with regards to helping with the Christmas lights. Makes it a whole lot easier for Noboru and myself.

I'm the chief wreath switcher! Hahaha. : ) Having to gently pack the other away and get this one and whatnot. 

Noah had to make *so* many of these. And they're a bit tricky because you have to make them a certain way. They hold up our Christmas lights. 

Noah had to run upstairs and downstairs so many times during that day! Noboru would say..."Noah I am out of those twist ties...bring me a few more." And so he'd run into the house and right up the stairs and hand them to his dad... out Bran's bedroom window. Noah didn't ever leave the bedroom, he'd just extend his arm to his dad's and he'd get them that way. Poor Noah running upstairs and then downstairs and back again. Good kid! : )

Please don't fall Noboru! I always worry!

Bran meanwhile stringing the lights and me meanwhile getting the garlands out and hanging these. People meanwhile would walk their dogs and would stop and say "hello!"...or..."yay you're putting your Christmas lights up" ...we have heard at least 3 times before...once while Noboru was at a Father's Club meeting...a fellow dad told Noboru as he was drunk, Noboru doesn't drink, the other guy...anyway he said..."do you know my family, looks forward to your Christmas lights ever year!" Noboru thought that was very cute and came home and told me. We were very touched hearing that. : ) 

Pinecones and holly berries....Costco Christmas hanging baskets. When we bought these, we had to buy 4... to keep things symmetrical. 

Green garland wrapped around the wood poles. These light up at night. 

Branden...you will make someone a fine husband one day! You know how to do all these wonderful things most American husbands can do! : ) We have taught you well kid! : ) And no... that isn't a sucker in his mouth...it's a twist tie, so he will have easy access... when he put this on, in case his hands are too busy holding up the lights and garland.
Another DVD came in the mail. This movie was so good! Had us all, on the edge of our seats the entire movie! We had family movie night at home again of course. We like to do that every weekend once a week. The kids love it! We pop popcorn, have snacks. And enjoy family time together. 
Do you remember when Noah and I got back from Guam and there was that 1 picture of the cart at the airport. And I said...Gap package on top. But didn't have time to share what was inside. Well now I have a bit of time...

Some winter things for me on sale. 
I love this cowl neck on this and I also love the sleeve length and how the sleeves taper off that way. I just really dug the entire look of this. I wore this light gray one, to my meeting at Bran's school last week, with my jean jacket over it. Jean jackets are so "in" right now. Very current. 

This color for this... was my most favorite though. I liked this so much, I bought it, in these 2 colors.
This like...marbled gray color has really been in since last year. So, thought this would be a good item to add to my wardrobe.

I'm a preppy girl. And I have a pair of deconstructed jeans like this too. 

I thought this would be the most boring item to throw into my cart. It's a sweatshirt but longer in the back and black. But I was so wrong...it is so much cuter in person, looks really modern,,,not sure how or why, but I love this. I wore this to see the Hunger Games, with a pair of hole-y deconstructed jeans and my plaid Burberry scarf and black ballet flats. I looked really cute the night... we went to see the Hunger Games. 
This sweatshirt...is something I usually wear when I drop the kids off in the morning at the plaza. And also wearing gray yoga pants. Wearing absolutely zero makeup....and hopefully I am not scaring people... as I drive down the street. LOL! It's comfy and soft. And it is a tad longer in the back. The wording is a very nice yellow color. It's a cute basic to wear around the house. 
These were on sale for like $4 each, so bought these tanks in 3 colors. I bought them because I was worried if the cowl neck tops were a tad short in the front of the top or not. So when I wear mine, I will wear one of these underneath. This is the black one obviously : )

In white....

And in charcoal gray. Can go under anything. 
These are Bran's. He got 1 long sleeve men's white tee, so he wears these short sleeves on top. 

Noah only got 1 tee. But it's cute. 
Bran got a new Denver Broncos tee in a size medium men's. The Broncos are having an incredible season this year. We're 3rd in our division. That game last week when we beat the Patriots! Was amazing! And we won this week too! Go Broncos! 

A nice basic for Bran...

Okay...if you have a sense of humor you'll love this T-Shirt. If not you may hate this! SorryNotSorry! See Rudolph with the red nose. And see how all the sides of meat are all marked. Ribs, shoulder. etc. LOL! It's all in good fun! And when Bran is out and about...we can see people reading his shirt! Somebody laughed at this shirt while at Costco one evening... when we went there for some pizza to take home one night...that made us happy! They totally got the shirt. : )  Some folks can be way too uptight...but we're just not like that.

This is Bran's favorite shirt. Again very...tongue in cheek. This time a year everyone blames it on the eggnog. And...the fact this is a dry house. But still...it seems to always be the fault of egg nog! Hahaha. : )  When in doubt...blame it on the egg nog! And fwiw, my kids have never tasted anything alcohol-y ever, not even a taste. : )
Minecraft tee for Noah. He's been wearing this to school over a long sleeve white tee. And his friends love it!
Christmas presents for the boys, just 1 pic of one of their presents, they're getting more obviously. New cases for their new tablets. Noah's favorite colors are still yellow and orange so I know he'll love his new tablet case. : ) 
If you're American you'll more then likely remember the infamous case of the 2 baby girls mixed up at the hospital. One of the girls died of a heart condition and that's when the hospital realized the girls parents were not biologically her parents. And given there was only 2 white baby girls, born at that hospital during those days, they figured out which was the other baby. Their names were the Mays vs the Twigs. Kimberly Mays. That's Kimberly Mays in this picture with her dad who raised her. 

This was Kimberly Mays biological mother Mrs. Twig. She wanted full custody of Kimberly Mays saying she did not give up her parental rights to her. However she lost the court battle. This was a huge story back in the day. I remember this. This case right here....is why I wrote my name in cursive on my kids 1 foot when they were each born... while at the hospital. This case was shocking. 

Yep that was her then. Barbara Walters found her and did an interview with her...last week.

This is her now. Her mom who raised her died when she was little. Her dad who raised her...died a few years ago. And she's just heartbroken about that. Since he raised her. and she said she hasn't spoken to her biological mother in years. Barbara Walters, said..."You seemed to have fallen off the face of the earth" Yet I have heard rumors about you..that you were homeless and had also heard at one time a stripper" Any of that true? She said...yes I was a stripper years ago, to put food in my kids mouths. And yes I was also homeless a time or two" I was so surprised hearing that. Saddened hearing that. The interview was very good. Very sad. But...she seems to be in a better place now. She has a few kids. She has a lot of tattoos, just an observation. However...she is surviving and working at a call center someplace. Florida, I think. It was just a very interesting interview. And I am so glad I saw that. Because...yes...I have wondered what happened to her. Now I know. 
Can you read this? A new show is coming to TLC in America in December...does that say the 13th or 15th. Anyway...it's coming soon and it is called Married by Mom and Dad! @_@ There are a few people on this new show and they will let their parents pick their future spouse! Holy goodness. I can NOT wait to watch this! I saw so far... by the commercials...1 blonde girl...her parents said...we have been told by our daughter..if they don't know how to do the nene, which is a popular dance...this last summer (pronounced like...do the naynay but it's spelled nene, because of the song). For them not... to pick anyone who doesn't know how to do the nene. I also saw another girl...and her mom and dad were sitting next to her and her dad said something...so embarrassing...she was like...OMG! It cracked me up...and so...I think I'll want to see a few episodes of this, to see if I like this show or not. : ) 

But this is the show that comes on once a week, it's new and it catches up with people involved in an infamous American case/scandal. Last night for example...we caught up with...the man who shot John Lennon...his wife. I had watched that last night. She was Japanese American. I had always assumed she divorced that guy. I was surprised last night... to find out..she is still married to Mark David Chapman...and visits him and they have yearly conjugal visits! I was like...OMG @_@...last night hearing that! What a shocker! Why she would want to be married to a crazed man like that still...you sure got me. Again though...interesting to watch. This is the same show that showed Kimberly Mays. 
If you are living in Japan, you may not know. But for folks in America... who are into Asian beauty and hang out in AB beauty forums and whatnot. Hado Labo is *really* loved by American women into AB skincare. They sell Hado Labo in the US now and have different packaging. However the hardcore fans of Asian Beauty...want...wantwantwant the Japan ones! The legit bottles from Japan, The ones pictured here! Why do they love it so? And I am often on the beauty boards myself about once or twice a month. So, I know. The ladies care about PH level in their skincare. They want it to have a 5 or less then 5 PH level. So it doesn't dry out their face. Anyways...Hado Labo is apparently to them...the gold standard. Who knew! Well, I knew.. since I read the AB forums. Hey...don't shoot the messenger here! I just read the threads. They pay like double or triple the price... what we buy it for...since we live in Japan. But yep...they want this face wash. If you're ever bored...cruise Instagram and look for this brand and you will see a whole online community of fans for this specific cleanser! Like millions of fans. But yep...everyone wants this brand of cleanser. It's hugely loved. And it's funny because by the same token...my fellow foreign wife friends...they don't use this. Hahaha. But yep..it is hugely popular overseas. Huge cult following. 

On the same AB boards, people were talking about..they saw the Star Wars Force Awakens limited edition cleansers and wondered how to get their hands on them. I mentioned these to Bran, showed him a pic. These are for guys not girls. Bran saw the the pic online and asked me to get him one... since he was running out of face wash. And I did find them...but I have not told Bran, I found them, because I will use these as stocking stuffers. I should put in my title of this post...Hado Labo and Star Wars face wash...I know many people would like info on this. But, I better not my title is already too super long already.: ) So let me give some info right now for those of you...living outside of Japan. Okay the price is right here...it is 313 yen without tax and 338 yen with tax. And in dollars that would be about $2.80 US. So, if you buy this for $10 you are paying way too much. Just something to keep in mind. Also Darth is for oily skin, The white Storm Trooper one is for dry skin.. which is why it says moist. It will make your skin moist. And R2D2 is a face scrub. 

Please don't anybody steal my picture of this! : ) 
The 2 Darth's are hiding in my closet! And I am using the highly coveted Hado Labo every morning to wash my face... and it doesn't make my face too overly dry or feel stripped at all. In winter my skin is hella dry. I mean...seriously super hella dry! The rest are just shampoo/conditoner refills. And some Dove shea butter vanilla body wash. 

Bran asked me last week and Bran asked me this week..."mom have you found my Darth face wash yet?" Since I'm using it as a stocking stuffer, I had to lie and say..."I'm sorry honey...I couldn't find any" He's so bummed you guys... because these are special limited edition ones. Once they're sold out...they're gone!

Every week I pick up a fresh bag of mikan. 

New inside shoes for Noah. His old pair looked..grody and were coming apart and with observation day coming up... the day of his marathon, I don't want him looking...like a raggamuffin. Also needed to pick up a temporary face wash for BrannyB since...the Darth's are hiding in my closet! Shhh! : ) 

Drinks and mikans. We also always have a case of water here at home too. 

Other misc things. Beef stew roux and curry roux. Flour.

Last year it was the Sound of Music musical, I didn't watch that when it was the live musical on TV. But this years was to be the Wiz! And I love the Wiz! And, so we caught it on TV last week. Ne-yo and Queen Latifah. So many talented people in the Wiz. The actual Wiz was Queen Latifah. On the right of this picture was Dorothy. Her voice...omg...it was heaven! 

The kids and I...were...easing down the road last week! Hahaha! Come on and ease on down..ease on down.... the road! Hahaha! : ) 

Yep this past weekend... we surely did bake about 3 dozen homemade peanut butter cookies. 

This week, when I was at Costco, picking up some lean ground beef for homemade cheeseburger night and a rotisserie chicken for taquito night. I saw this cookie tray! Americans are all about cookies at Christmas. Meanwhile Japanese are all about the Christmas cake. We always do cookies all December long. Because I want the boys to know about American tradition. However..this year for Christmas...I ordered our first Christmas cake. An icecream cake! Yum. We can't wait. This year we'll have cake and cookies. : ) 

Yep this tray is right...you gotta have the stars! : )

I'm not British, I'm American obviously. But...another reason if you don't have a Costco membership...you should get one. While most stuff at Costco Japan is American. And also there's Japanese stuff too. But, they do sell some stuff for folks from other countries. My Costco always has these beans for example. You get 6 big cans of these for about a thousand yen. About $9 US. 1098 yen to be exact. But it is a fantastic deal honestly. And you could even stock pile these at your house if you had room. Something you would no longer have to lug back from your home country. Last year they had some New Zealand beef pies? Not sure what they are or were..but I saw them all last winter. I didn't buy any. Just like I wouldn't need to buy any of these canned beans. But it is peace of mind knowing...you can get them super easy.... if need be! Given the Costco membership is only around 4000 yen a year...considering you can get foreign goods cheaply...and get a nice rotisserie chicken...super cheap cheese. It is a good deal. And the kids things available are fantastic. And they have nice women's shoes there always. Like Crocs in Summer, cute ones... and Uggs in winter. Again...I don't do sponsored posts on my blog. I don't do that because...I love having my own opinion and people can trust...it's not because...I get kick backs or anything. So, I am just honestly from my heart saying...it seriously is worth it...if you live in Japan to have a Costco membership! The items you would have access to, is just too good... to pass up. Again...it's just my honest opinion.  

So many amazing things to get there....Once people get a membership..they always go...why did I wait so long!!! Hahaha. But seriously once you have the membership..you'll "get it"..because it's totally worth it..if you live in Japan though! 

This is what I picked up this Monday. 4 amazing frozen Costco brand pizzas, something I can throw in my freezer and on a weekend, if I don't want to cook a night..we can have 2 of these and some salad. Dinner done...easy peasy! And you get 4 of them! Also picked up the rotisserie chicken and lean ground beef and hamburger buns.
Monday nights dinner. Homemade cheeseburger night...You add your own condiments and toppings...we have lettuce, tomatoes pickles and onions. 

Everybody loved supper Monday night. December 7th.

I was so ready to dig right in!

All 4 of us...just sitting at the table eating cheeseburgers, munching on a handful of fries. Noboru and Bran went back and had a 2nd cheeseburger each. They loved them so much! Afterwards they were like..."OMG I'm so full."...1 was plenty for Noah and I. Anything else to add....

Bran is taking the Eiken level pre-1 this January. Noboru signed him up... online already. I have absolutely no doubt he'll pass. His English skill, is just seriously THAT strong. Noah's English skill is hella strong too. The problems for us though... is that. Eiken 5 to level 2 can be taken at the local JHS. Which is wonderful! Because it is right...in town... meaning no huge drive off to the city somewhere. However... the verbal interview for the Eiken 2 was in Narita City. And while it is semi near. It's still a drive and there's a ton of folks in Narita city and parking was a *logistical* nightmare for me last time. And whatnot. And I was *very* hesitant to let Bran take the pre 1... because....he can no longer take it at the local JHS. He would have to go to Narita City for that, for even the written test. And frankly we don't know where the verbal interview in February would or will be? And that's scary! Hence the...not really wanting the headache of the whole...where the tests will be. The tests are the easy part for my kids... but.... the geography or *where* the tests will be... is reason I'm not looking forward to this. And the actual Eiken 1....again I have zero doubts. I know Bran would ace that Eiken 1 right this second. Again...not to sound oyabaka but...I know my sons English skill and it is past that level! He went to Kumon since age 4 for English (Noah started at age 3), he has the awards and trophies from Kumon. I know his level. And I also study with them at home weekly. And so...again the tests are not the worry. The...where to take the test.... is the worry. Level 1... can only be taken 5 or 6 locations Japan wide? @_@ And our nearest place is the center of Tokyo. Which isn't near us at all. Not even remotely near us. And given Bran would have to go there twice...once for the written test and once for the verbal interview with a native speaker. Which again...his mother is American...he speaks to me daily for free, LOL. So again...zero worries there. But it's just... we live in the inaka. And it's a nightmare for us... to take the test if we must leave rural Japan for it. So, Branden is taking the pre 1 this January. Noboru and Noah and I will be able to take Bran in January to the written test. But Noboru will be in training in February when Bran needs to take the verbal interview. And so...my greatest worry is...where will the interview part be in Feb? And can I drive us there? I am a very good inaka driver but I am a fearful Japanese city driver. Location for us matters big time. So the test part...piece of cake. But the getting to the testing location... is the nightmare. I'll be honest with you right now...Bran's teacher gave Branden the Eiken 1 form... first week of December. She says she knows he'll pass easy. And we know that too. But we talked to her about it... last week during our meeting. And we said...with Noboru going to training in February...me getting down to Tokyo with 2 kids in tow and finding our way back home again...honestly impossible. So...we told her we would let him take the pre 1. So the pre 1 is going to be an easy pass...we all know that... even his teacher knows it.  After Noboru's training is over...and he's available again...Bran is more then welcome to take the Eiken 1. But as of now...with Noboru leaving in Feb...no. It's easier on me and saves me the heart attack. Geeze, I hope Bran's verbal interview for the pre 1... is somewhere close! I hope so!

My hair appointment. Last week, I had my hair colored. I told my stylist. I am considering getting chocolate brown or getting one shade darker. She suggested me going 1 shade darker. Because if I go down 2 shades....from her experience the shock is something she sees from her clients... making a big change. And I agreed. So, my hair is 1 shade darker right now and freshly colored. I love this color right now. I am now wondering if I should keep this color or go 1 shade darker. However...for now...I love this color. It's a medium coppery brown color. Looks very natural and stuff. Just wondering if I should go 1 shade darker or keep this. But...will think on it some. This is very pretty.

Branden's JHS parent teacher conference last week. She said Branden is a very good boy. Very good student, gets along well with everybody, all teachers and kids/students. She flat out said...he's popular and we know he is. And she said he's very helpful. And basically a joy to have in her class. His grades are amazeballs. Just not really a whole lot to say really. Which is a good thing. She flat out said..."Branden is a native English speaker"...she told us this and then added... she was an exchange student same as Noboru was. However she lived in California, where as Noboru was sent to Denver, Colorado. So she can literally...hear it with her own ears. Again...I wonder how much I should talk about on here and how much I should keep private. Hmmm decisions decisions. Our first plan we had was, as soon as Branden graduates JHS, I and the boys would go to Guam. So Branden would do high school there. Noah would do the 6th grade all the way up in Guam. That has been our plan all along, since Bran was age 4, that was the plan. Which is why we made English our main and primary focus. Because that would be... main language #1. And of course Branden would go to university in Guam as well. Why? Because...if you're American...you'll probably know the cost difference between a local college tuition, versus and "out of state" cost of a college tuition. And the cost difference is HUGE. So to answer why? Money! To save money. If Branden could do his last year of high school there... we would have residency and therefore he'd be a local by the time college rolled around. And Noah and I could go back to Japan. And as long as Noah stays out of Japan school wise for 3 years...when he comes back to Japan, he'd be entering high school as a "returnee" meaning Noah would have no stressful high school exams. He could zip right into our nearest international high school here. By that time Branden would be in uni and I could leave him... college aged in uni... in Guam and come home to Japan. And sure we could fly there every other week. And he'd be back in Japan during summer break and Christmas break. So that was plan 1. However...the current plan...is Bran will enter either an international high school or...high school with an English program. Some high schools in Japan... have a thing called "the English program" and to get into a high school that is in LOVE with English and many classes or subjects are taught in English. There's like 20 foreign teachers at the high school we're thinking about. To qualify to get into the "English program" you have to have near perfect English test scores at your current JHS! They will check and verify transcripts. Which yes Branden does. You have to have be able to take many subjects in English and if you can't...good bye. You have to have an Eiken level 2 or higher. Which yes he does. You have to be able to sleep, eat and live English 24/7 and yes Branden literally does. Our household is all in English, so that's not even a problem. The interview will be conducted in English at this school. And they basically are not interested in you... if you're English skill isn't super high nearly native level. Which again... no problem there. And to prove that this school's counting English scores as 1 and a half times the points/credit. The kids at this school their class trip is to Guam LOL. And their sister school is...the school in Guam Bran will be transferring to. So...it's like...odd and weird that this school matches Bran so much. Branden's teacher thinks Bran is a shoe in... to get into this high school. Branden thinks this high school will be so much fun! And I honestly think Branden would have a blast going there, If Bran goes here. He will go here... for 2 years and transfer to Guam for his 12th grade year... there for again...tuition cost. So by the time Bran was college ready... he'd have been there a full year. And Noah would meanwhile do a year of school... at least in Guam. Maybe 2 years there. And of course Noah's skill would be high enough to also enter the high school "in the English" program. Also and here's another wrench to throw out, there's actually...a few American university's in Japan (Tokyo). And that's an option too. If Bran went to an American uni in Japan, that would be even easier and American uni's in Japan all subjects are in English... flat out, which would be no problem for either of my kids. Plus Bran could live at home...and just train it... to Tokyo every day to his American uni. But in all seriousness... for my kids...being able to fluently speak, read and write in English... has been their *biggest* advantage. Their options are twice as wide... because of their English skill.