Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The V-day gifts the boys received this year. Branden’s Eiken pre-1 interview done and dusted. Noah’s cooking class at school. Meanwhile an update on how he’s doing over there. Pics of his hotel. Plus some Cinnamon Bun Oreos and Filled Cupcake Oreos...

Hi you guys! As you know, so much has happened since the last time I posted. I have a bit of time right now, so I can hopefully catch up with you all real quick, right now.  Last week was Noboru's last week here, before he left. And so, I had taken these V-day pics last week, but didn't have time to post them. It's good to post them so we can keep them as a memory, for both Bran and Noah. Bran, received this Valentine's gift on Monday Feb 15th at school. It was from someone really special to him. His girl, you all saw how gorgeous she was on undokai last year. : ) So he was pretty happy about getting one from her. : ) He said it was delicious. The girl can clearly cook. Right on. : )

Noah also received 2 Valentine's gifts this year, from 2 cutie pie... little girls. 

One was from Lily-chan. And the other was from Ami-chan. 

Noah was so happy to receive these from 2 of his really good friends. Very nice girls! This means, I will have to make sure now that my boys return the favor for White Day March 14th. 

Yep as the bag says, it was for Noah. Aww. : ) I wish, I would have had time to get these up last week, on the blog. But, the fact I could post last week at all. Is amazing. Because it was crazy busy here last week. Now that he's gone though, things around here are quiet. And not much needs to be done. Because we did so much prep work beforehand. But yep, I did think, it was very important to at very least...put the Valentine's gifts they received on here. That way when they're grown, they can come back here and have a look. And remember and hopefully smile. : ) 
Our elementary school, is really special in that they want kids to learn so many skills. So many things. In America when I was growing up, we didn't have Home EC (home economics class) until junior high/middle school. However at our specific elementary school, they cook in cooking class twice a month and once a month they sew! They have not had the chance to buy a sewing kit. I think that comes this upcoming year. If I remember right, from back when Bran started sewing. But cooking at our elementary school starts early. And Noah has been using Bran's old sewing kit for now. They have their own little cooking groups. You can see the pizza sauce we bought for Noah. On this particular day his class broke up... into their own groups in the schools big cooking room and they all made pizza toast. A week ahead, your child will bring home a note, saying which item your child needs to bring. Noah raised his hand for the pizza sauce. Someone brought cheese, someone brought veggies. Someone brought bread. And the teacher brings a lot of stuff too. And in this class, they all cut and slice veggies. A few times a go, they made pancakes. All the kids needed to crack eggs and whisk the eggs. My kids have always cooked with me at home, so they know how to do that stuff already. But, I *love* that our school has and offers cool cooking classes like this! In the summer, the kids in class will often go and catch crawfish for an hour during school with the teacher. I blogged about that 2 years ago? Although they go every year. Everyone was supposed to think outside the box and make their own fishing pole. They didn't want a store bought fishing pole. Our school definitely wants kids to learn...and think for themselves...and have fun. Each cooking class, you need to bring an apron and a bandana to cover their head/hair since they're handling food. Branden still cooks at his JHS too. And Noah enjoys cooking at our elementary school. : ) So last week, Noah and his class made pizza toast. : )

We went back to Costco last week once more. Hamburger buns for homemade hamburger night. Potatoes. Ham for sammys. Ricotta for lasagna (made that last night) and an extra trio of pasta sauce and an extra pack of mozzarella. Dinner rolls. 

That's all pasta sauce. And yes, we eat a lot of Italian around here. : ) 

Lots of frozen veggies. Loaded up the freezer with lots of frozen veggies. The margarine, we use for toast in the mornings. or buttering some veggies or a baked potato. If we make an omelet or eggs we use a little margarine in the pan. And fellow Americans, these 3, are still tinier then 1 Country Crock in the U.S. And 2 small lean blocks of beef, this is for beef stew.  We can have beef stew sometime. That beef is beautiful and no fat. And the fries on the right are for cheeseburger night. Again, I had written this list and went right down. Do I need this? Do, I need that? What do I need? 

These came from Joyful Honda in Inzai and the beef up above came from Besia in Inzai. But these came from Joyful in Inzai. On the left is a humongous pork loin for pork green chili night. That is going to be great, when I make that. Nice knowing we have this in the freezer. And the 2 things on the right are 2 really good sized blocks of beef for a roast beef, I am planning to make. 

You can sort of see, a pot roast will be happening, and remember those potatoes from Costco up above? Some mashed potatoes with some gravy and a very tender pot roast. I can't wait. I will cook both roasts together since I imagine, they'll shrink up some with cooking. And I bought 2 to make sure, I have plenty. Since the boys have hearty appetites. The beef is also in the freezer. You should see my freezer. I have mozzarella cheese sticks, unopened still. Frozen pizzas. We did eat 2 of those for lunch on Sunday though, so we have 6 of those left. We have a ton of frozen veggies in there and a ton of pork and beef in there. 

Remember those tortilla chips, we bought the week before. I also purchased some seasoned beans in the can, pictured here. See, the sour cream. I am planning to make some killer nachos sometime. Hope these beans are good. Not sure when we'll have them. A big hand soap. You can refill it 4 times. So should last the month for downstairs. Might run out... for the one upstairs though, which is fine, I can zip and get one if we need some extra hand soap. 

18 rolls of toilet paper. this is my favorite toilet paper in Japan. I like the toilet paper at Costco, but it is so outrageously expensive. You can buy this half cheaper. The Costco TP is just a tad too over priced for me. I can't justify buying it. And I won't. So, I buy this. I forgot to buy Kleenex at Costco. OMG! I went 2 weeks in a row and still forgot. At that point, I just bought this at Joyful Honda in Inzai. The Kleenex tissue at Costco is a great buy/deal, but not the TP. 

The Valentine's Vitamin C serum, my sweetie purchased for me, arrived last week. And again, just too much going on last week...to even care or have the time to post about it. Now I have some time, so I will. I was very happy to receive 4 free samples (4 creams and the Klairs is a mask). Receiving 1, I assumed. But to receive 4 free samples. I was really impressed by that. I will be repurchasing from here because of that. They have earned a new customer. Thank you Wishtrend for being generous with the samples. 

I am not being dramatic when I tell you from my heart. This product right here. Transformed my skin. It seriously transformed my skin. People who are really into skincare know about the benefits of Vitamin C and how good it is for your face. And folks not really into skincare, won't know and won't care and that's okay. But, I figure I have to look at this face and so I might as well take the *best* care of it as I possibly can. And so, I do. American people who are in the know about skincare know and love Vitamin C products. Hot and Flashy's YouTube. She is always talking about the benefits of her 1 Vitamin C product she uses daily. And believe me, her skin is gorgeous. It's flawless and she's mid 50's and doesn't look a day over 40. She is stunning. In Korea too, they also know the importance of Vitamin C too. They have a lot of good products with Vitamin C. And I think there is a really good one in Japan too. The western brand ones are very pricey. Like almost $100 pricey or around $75, which is still outrageous. That's just too out of my price range for 1 serum, don't get me wrong..I could buy it, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable doing so, when this is the exact same thing, if not better and $14 US. The ones at the Body Shop for example don't contain enough Vitamin C to see actual results (sorry to say that, but yep). But this one pictured here is as high grade as the almost $100 dollar western brand one. And I think it's better. For people into Asian beauty, this is like a cult favorite. And for good reason. Last year with everyone strongly recommending Vitamin C. If you are into pre anti aging skincare at all. Or have any skin issues. Even young skin with zits could use this. Everyone says to keep this in your fridge, so it lasts longer. Vitamin C in high concentrations gets old if it is exposed to the sun or air hits it too much. Which is why it is in a dark bottle too. I wasn't sure if this was an overly hyped product last year or if it truly worked. Ykwim. I tried it. And my skin was generally okay, I mean a few ruddy patches here or there nothing too bad. Then it went to...absolutely no ruddiness at all. Smooth all even toned skin. My skin actually looks younger. I also have very dehydrated skin, very dry skin especially in winter and this has never made my skin feel any drier. Before I used this product...sometimes my skin would look good, sometimes it would look uneven in texture. Now since using this... my skin always looks smooth, texture is on point. Zero ruddiness. No fine lines. My MIL if you remember said...I am not aging at all over New year's. And it's not me...it's this Vitamin C serum. I just repurchased this. And to go out and actually buy a 2nd one...means I really like this. And I do. I love this. My skin is on fleek and it's totally because of this. 

Also, they have the newest products. Manufactured January 19th of this year and will last until next year. Best $14 dollars, ever spent. Again, I am not suggesting any of you to use this. Because frankly what you use on your skin or don't... doesn't really affect me in anyway...same as what I use wouldn't or shouldn't affect you either. I'm just saying...and stating I use this, I love this. It totally transformed my skin. My skin is flawless because of this and I could not say that before using this. Because sometimes the skin looked okay and sometimes not, but since using this... it always looks amazeballs. So, I use it. I love this and my husband thinks I'm reverse aging because of this. LOL. Good stuff Maynard. : )
Noboru flew out Saturday. I roasted that turkey Saturday too, for the kids and I. The kids and I have been enjoying turkey sandwiches ever since. Sunday was Bran's last part of the Eiken pre-1. The interview. The speaking part of it. OMG, you guys! I have to tell you guys this. I better write it before I forget. So, we were first in line. Not because I am super cool. But because I was super worried that I wouldn't get a parking. And with Noboru gone, it was all me. #1/first thing would you believe, 2 of the places to park were closed! Can you believe it? My heart sunk. The 3rd spot, had 2 ladies guarding the entrance of the parking spot. It's a public parking area, but they're soccer mom's and asked me.."are you here for soccer?" I knew the other 2 spots were closed. This was my *only* place to park. However, I am not going to lie. I'm just not. So, I answered honestly, "no, I'm not, we're here for the Eiken" Not sure if my foreign-ness was surprising or what. However...hello...it was a public parking area. They didn't own it. Not sure why they were all getting greedy about the parking there in the first place, but they let me in. They were doing this to all cars, not just us. However..I'm just saying..I didn't need that sort of added stress from those 2 ladies that morning. And thank goodness we went early. Again...because Narita City is so very city-ish...compared to where we live... in a tiny town of under 5000 people with parking to spare. So...yeah. Those ladies had my heart feeling all "doki doki" that morning. I was gonna park there no matter what though. And given I am the only protector of my boys... while Noboru is away. I was most certainly parking there, whether they liked it or not. And I did nose in my car before I rolled the window down. And given I know that place is public parking...meaning open for the general public. I rolled right in. Maybe I looked so determined (I was). Maybe I look so seriously serious (I was). But I knew I had *every* right to park there and a cop would most certainly agree, I most certainly didn't mind going that route if they wanted to go that route. But yep, they let me in. Though since my car nose... was already in they couldn't exactly close the gate on me anyway. So anyway. It was like 2 Billy Goat Gruffs guarding the parking area. @_@ Oh and fwiw, that parking area was dead and tons of spaces to go around when we came out. So not sure why we had those 2 over zealous ladies.. with clearly too much free time on their hands that Sunday morning... anyways.  But I am the type of person...If I am wrong, I will be the *first* to always admit, I'm wrong, I'm sorry. But if I am not wrong, I will not back down either though. And I knew I had a right to park there. So good for them to let me in because I was going to park there... whether they liked it or not. You can't hog all the parking spots just because your soccer group likes to play there, fair is fair...share ladies..would it kill you to share? And again... as long as it's a public parking (and we researched this fact last year when Bran first took the Eiken), sorry but anyone can park there. Case closed, end of story, get a grip. Whatever. Moving on. So, I parked the mini minivan in the parking spot. We walked to 7-11 and I bought the kids some of those Mister Donut clones. 3 old fashion half dipped in chocolate, 2 for Bran and 1 for Noah. I also bought them a drink each. I didn't buy myself anything. I think I was just so nervous about parking. I worked myself up to near hysteria the night before about the lack of parking.  And so seeing those 2 billy goat gruff ladies that morning, was enough to just push me right over the edge. Good thing they let me in, or I would have snapped big time! Plus, I had been awake since 5:20am Sunday morning. We left our house at 7am and were there at 8am-ish. Dealt with the 2 billy goat gruff ladies and then we walked to 7-11. I just wanted to get this interview over with and go home. I had zero appetite. It was cold and gray and that was Sunday. We walked to the high school and we stood first in line. Again because I was worried about parking. Once we had a parking though and I had bought the kids something to eat and we went in line, I was fine and relaxed. But yep a bundle of nerves beforehand. There were a ton of people...likes 400 plus, in the line. The line was so long behind us, way down and even out of the school grounds. This is the important part to tell you. Don't faint when I tell you. So we got into the Pre 1 line. And the lady announced. There are 200 or so taking the interview for the Eiken 3 and 200 and so many people taking the Pre 2. For the Eiken pre-1... only 14 passed..so only 14 will be taking the pre-1 interview today. You should have seen our shocked faces. @_@ Yes only 14. And yes if you recall it was about 110 people who took the written part of the Eiken pre 1. But out of all those people only 14 passed! Can you believe it? Only 14 people passed out of the 100 plus line... we were standing in 3 weeks ago. I told ya! Not many people pass the actual Eiken pre-1. A high school or college aged Japanese girl stood in line behind us. She smiled very big and brightly at me and I smiled equally right back at her. She was quite cute. Branden was so shocked. He kept saying....I can't believe only 14 people passed. And no, that foreign friend he made...obviously he didn't pass. Bran said he was not there among the 14. : (  Noah and I meanwhile went to the holding area for parents.

Remember you need to show a photo ID, so we use Bran's passport because it has his pic on it, it's official and blahblahblah. And Noah and I then put on the stickers that say we are the parent of a kid taking the Eiken. 

This room ended up 100% full of parents. As in not 1 seat to spare. Branden came out quickly. Well duh, since he was first in line. : ) First thing he said to me was... after I asked him, "how was it?" he said..."I nailed it, it was so easy" I mean he fluently speaks English, so I wasn't worried. But, yeah...I was glad he took it, glad he felt it was pretty easy and went well. I was now happy and eager to just go home. We walked to the parking area. Those 2 ladies were not at the parking area anymore. Noboru did message me, while I was at the school in Narita but I told him, I couldn't talk. But, we could talk as soon as I went home, switched cars and ran to the bakery first (needed more bread for the turkey sammiches) : )

I did go home. We did switch to my car. And we did run to the bakery for 2 loaves of bread. When I got home, Noboru had Line messaged me a whole bunch of pics. He showed a lot from the airport, but the airport is a dead giveaway, where he is. So, I can't share those. I'm sorry. But these are his room and where he will be staying and sleeping for the next 30 days. This is his room. 

His living room. L shaped couch. Couch blanket in the little table there with ribbon on it. A very nice living room. 

His bedroom room. Sleeping area. Very nice.

His sink area. And bathroom area back there. 

43 inch flat screen TV, he also has a fridge for his drinks. 

When I was at the bakery in Japan buying bread, my phone was going off, he was Lining me, this picture. They were at Target buying sodas, water, snacks for their own selves. 

As I was paying at the bakery, He messaged me this picture. You see, I have this friend in the US and she blogs all the good snacks in the US. And so she was like 2 weeks ago, saying these are new and maybe limited edition and at Target. Knowing Noboru was going to be in the US for a month. I showed Noboru the pic and I asked him. Can you bring me back a pack of these? And I also asked for a few other limited edition flavors. But yep, he's such a sweet guy because he found them and picked up 3 packs of these. This is Noboru's pic. He said he picked up... 1 pack for BrannyB and 1 pack for Noah and 1 pack for me. : ) Aww. 

He also picked me up the limited edition Hostess cupcake Oreos. This is his pic, he took before he put them in his red Target cart. He asked the kids if they wanted one of these but they're still thinking about it. : ) They have lots of time to think on it though... because their daddy will be there for a full month. : ) They have brownie batter and red velvet all sorts of good ones. 

What did they eat their first night? Red Lobster. Noboru ordered this seafood sampler. Those garlic biscuits and a cesar salad. 

His friend ordered this. Steak and lobster. Wowsa wowsa! Hahaha. did I mention that night, I had a turkey sandwich for dinner. hahaha. It's okay...I'm good...I'm good. And good for him...getting to eat whatever his little heart desires all month. 

He did run Sunday to Sephora for me. But they didn't have the 2 things I was looking for. But no worries, he will be there a good long time...this time. So, if a new Oreo comes out...or a new face product should come out. It's just nice knowing, I can get it, if I wanted. So, do I miss my husband? Duh absolutely. But he has to do this so. He has to be there. But there are also pluses. Meaning he can eat whatever he wants..try all sorts of food and restaurants. Plus...sure he can bring a few things back for us too. Not tons...but it helps. So yeah. It's not all doom and gloom. : ) When life gives you lemons...make lemonade, as they say. We could both be sad for 30 days... but honestly that won't solve a darn thing. Or we can both be happy...he can try all sorts of good yummy nummy foods. And hey...if I should want to try some new Oreos...so be it. We're just going to see the positives. And I think that's the right way to handle this next month. We can do it! : )

Oh and what did they eat last night? Chili's. Hahaha. He is having fun over there. : )  Oh and..there is 1 set there.. already who will be leaving in 2 weeks. And 1 lone guy there without a partner and he will be there and he leaves at the end of this week. So for now, there are 5 of them, in the same hotel. 1 leaves at the end of this week. And then for the next 2 weeks it will be 4 of them and after 2 weeks it will be just Noboru and his person that was sent with him. So those 5 are who are going to Chili's etc. : )  And out of those 5 guys, 3 of them are the "Hawaii guys" the ones who lived in Hawaii before being sent to Japan, Noboru being one of those guys. : ) So they're all good friends.

So how are things? Pretty awesome here. My hardest thing, I had to do. My most stressful thing, I had to do was take Bran to the Eiken in Narita City. The parking, or lack of, to be specific. And on the grand scale of things...in all reality, it wasn't like major hard to do anyways. But yes I'm glad that's over with. And I did it. So now, I have nothing major to do or nothing really stressful or anything coming up. I have a house stocked with plenty of good things to eat and make. I have 2 vehicles here. One,  100% electric, which is my car plus the gas mini minivan. Full to the top of gas. I did go to the hair salon last Friday, my hair is on fleek, you guys. Cut is perfect, my thermal straightening is on point and my color is freshly done. We basically did everything we needed to do, before he left.  Boys have fresh haircuts. I will just be holding down the fort here, so to speak. I will still zip to the grocery store here locally once a week or bakery twice a week. But other than that, I just drop the kids at school every morning and swing around and pick them up every afternoon. Clean the house like a mad woman, every day. Treadmill myself every day, 4-5 days a week. And make supper every night and pack their lunch every morning for school. It's a piece of cake really. Plus I have my movie/lunch date this Friday. That I am really looking forward to. They're such amazing awesome ladies/friends of mine. They're so fun and funny that I always walk away...feeling.."wow I had such a great time with them today" so can't wait to see them this Friday. : ) Noboru Line messages me often every day and emails me once a day. He has also phoned me every day, and we just talk for about 20 minutes. The kids email and message their dad daily too. That's about it really. : )  Other than that, the kids and I have been enjoying some really good TV shows on here at home and relaxing and enjoying some family time. : ) Alrighty, that's enough for now. : )