Saturday, September 17, 2016

My 2 most recent trips to Costco. Bits and pieces on the Eiken, some TV talk and a few other things mixed in there for good measure...

Another one of my bits and pieces posts. Just a round up of things going on around here since we have been back from Denver. I had mentioned before that we bought a brand new hard shell suitcase while in Denver. But we are slowly going to be replacing our 4 with 4 new ones. So we had bought 1 in Denver. And we then saw this one, at Costco Japan. The price was fantastic for a Samsonite hard shell suitcase. Choice in color was like a maroon or wine red or basic black. We went for a basic black.

Now we have 2 new suitcases and 2 old suitcases. : ) Slowly and surely wins the race. So...we'll get there... regarding the suitcases. : ) The bright side is we now have 2 brand new suitcases. 

Quaker Oats the Costco size... means my Fall and Winter baking is slowly getting into gear. Homemade from scratch apple crisp, oatmeal raisin cookies. Just so so many things can be baked with these oats. Can't wait. : ) 

You can see the suitcase underneath. This is what we bought. The day we bought our Samsonite. This was taken September 2nd. A pack of chicken breasts (there's 8 in there, make sure you don't buy a pack with 7, I always check, lol). A 4 pack of Kirkland cheese pizzas. This cheesecake is to die for! It's so good! My kids LOVE this cheesecake. Ham for sandwiches, for school lunches. 

Underneath the cheesecake is that delicious fresh pasta, a huge Costco amount of tortillas and mozzarella cheese for baked chicken parmesan and homemade pizza night.

A week later these pics were taken September 8th. OshKosh tee shirts. Boys sizes 7-12. Noah wears a 12! And for only 597 yen! The week before... these were full price so I skipped them. But considering the 597yen price tag! I had to get some. 

There were 4 different colors. I immediately loved the navy blue with bright neon green wording. I dug through and found 2 size 12's. Only 2 size 12's left. I grabbed 1 and threw it into my cart. I didn't like the lighter blue color AT ALL, so didn't even check for Noah's size. I next wanted the cream colored one. But as you can see... in this picture they had very few cream colored shirts left and zero size 12's. Only size 7's. So, I thought about just getting one? But then thought nope..for that cheap price, considering Noah wears regular clothes to school every day at school, I better get the gray one. And lucky for me they had 1 gray size 12 and I found it! I snapped it up and put it in my cart. 

This is my cart pic taken from September 8th. 2 packs of chicken breasts, so 16 breasts total. Because I had Branden's undokai coming and made karaage and I always use 6 breasts for my karaage for the 4 of us... considering I have one always hungry teenager and a skinny as a toothpick 11 year old who loves mommy's karaage so much  and same for Noboru, so always 6 breasts considering the ages of the kids today. Also bought shredded cheese and tortilla chips, we had nachos. A new black pepper, finely milled. You see the 2 OshKosh shirts for Noah. Pretzel bread (rolls) I have never bought something so disliked before. : ( Noah had one and said he doesn't like this. Branden had one and said..."it isn't horrible but he doesn't want to eat anymore" @_@ Noboru said it's not his taste at all. Boy did I feel bad I bought something so disliked. 85% of this pretzel bread went uneaten. We threw it out and I will not be buying the pretzel bread anymore. Oh well...live and learn right? : ) My family disliked it..check and check. : ) What else is in this cart? A huge honkin' bag of all purpose flour. It's 3 or 4 KG worth? I forget and I could go check in the kitchen, but won't. : ) I am gearing up for baking season and so the... all purpose flour, was a necessary purchase. 

Ahhh, how nice. A better angle. And a rotisserie chicken. There is just SO much you can do with these rotisserie chickens. Make a quick fettuccine alfredo. Taquitos. Nachos. Rotisserie chicken sandwiches. Soft tacos. You can do so so many things with these rotisserie chickens. So, I usually will buy them. That's all for that trip. I'm happy that I can zip to my nearest Costco once a week or at the very least ...every other week. That way... I can get my hands on cheaper baking goods. Or buy tastes from "home" So yeah...I'm really happy I can drive and also can zip there often. : ) 

If you've ever read my old posts. You will remember that from like age 17 to like...hmm...Noah was already born. So for how long? I'm not sure how long exactly but maybe about for 15 years at least I always bought Basis face wash. Like seriously on my old blog posts, like when the kids were toddlers, and I'd share pics of what I brought back from Honolulu. I'd share like a pic of 6 Basis face cleansers. Because...it's honestly just always what I used. It was so easy to find it at Long's Drugstore on Oahu. And when I'd go back to Denver, I always would bring back 5 or 6 from Walgreens. It has never been hard to find. Well then...why did you stop using it? I stopped using it because my face all of a sudden got hella dry. Like super hella dry. And so...I started floating around trying different cleansers. I have floated from Dove face foam in Japan. And then I went on that Korea skincare kick hardcore about...3 years ago. LOL, remember that? I still love and use like 2 products from Korea that I order online. But...I've mostly gotten that all out of my system. Isn't it funny...how we grow and change and feel differently about stuff. And I love that on blogs it's all on there still. : ) Anyway...I have been using super gentle face cleansers all this summer. And long story short. I wash my face every morning with a gentle cleanser and by 10am my face feels so greasy. Like a coating of lard. So, I would go and wash my face around lunch time. I don't wear makeup if I am just home for the day. Washing my face twice a day...totally normal morning and before bed. But...washing 3 times a day? @_@ Super too much. Maybe I need a stronger cleanser. Not to strip my face and deplete it of moisture. But...I definitely think my face cleanser before was making my face a greaseball. So..while in Denver...I decided to return to an old favorite. Basis. However...I could not find it anywhere! Like not at Walgreens. Nor Target or Walmart. However...I know of iherb. A ton of my foreign mama friends here in Japan order from them and have been telling me for years how much they love ordering from their website. And I just decided when I got back to Japan to order the Basis cleanser from iherb. 
This has the best scent ever. And I'm really sensitive to scents. It doesn't feel stripped. It feels clean and I now only wash every morning and every night before bed. Granted...hope my face doesn't feel too dry this December with using this. But for now...I feel like... an old friend has returned. LOL. It's so nice using a cleanser that I used for 15 years. And it's super cheap ordering it from iherb. 

When the kids are in school. I spend a solid 2 hours each day on the house. Whether it be laundry or house cleaning and most of the time, 99.99% of the time.... it's both. I also spend an hour on my dinner prep. I go for walks for exercise or use my treadmill if it's too hot outside or raining. Talk to my friends on Skype or LINE or family. Or zip to the bakery or zip to Costco...you know what I mean. This morning as soon as the kids went to school. I turned on the jams and listened to some music. hence the cords from my speakers on the window sil. And I grabbed my 98 yen bleach spray. And got to bleaching my kitchen counters and sink. Dishwasher. Mopping the kitchen floors. Hanging the kitchen mats outside to dry. 


Nothing quite like a nicely bleached kitchen. I have not yet switched the summer blankets in our bedrooms... to winter blankets yet. Because well... the weather is still too hot to make that switch yet. It's still shorts weather here in our part of Japan. So, the towelkets are still on the beds. And on the couch for nighttime TV watching and cuddling. If I were to drag out the winter fleece blankets we'd all melt to death still. : ) So...I can feel the Fall in the air. Because it does feel cooler yes. But not *cold* The rice behind our house was cut down last week. I saw a red dragon fly... flying around during Branden's undokai. So there are small signs Fall is here or...almost here. So that is why I am stocking up now....on things like Quaker oats or flour. For when Fall is 100% all here...I can be prepared with all that delicious Fall baking. : )
We're almost at the end. What else have we been up to? Besides slowly getting ourselves and our household Fall ready? We have been prepping for the Eiken. Branden is taking the level 1. This is the best level you can take. This is the LAST Eiken test to take. He and I have been studying for it. And Noah is going to take his first Eiken ever and he will start with level 3. Honestly. It's **way** too easy for Noah. He will pass this super easy. And I should have started him at level 2 like how Branden started. However...I think Noah crushing the Eiken level 3 will give him tons of confidence and he'll be eager and pumped to take the pre-2, unless the next one Noah takes is the level 2. So that's what we have been doing. Noah and I study an hour each day with this Eiken 3 book. We go through this super quickly and we cover 2 days each 1 day. And then we will go back and review the following day. I want him comfortable and to have *zero* worries about it. He will have an interview but speaking is not even an issue for us here at our house. Branden's Eiken 1 booklet we have been studying this for 2 hours every other day. Because to pass the Eiken 1, you must write 3 paragraphs it must be "around" 200 words and it must cover 3 bullet points of 5-6 that they give you. And I have been training him to write said 3 paragraphs. I want him to be able to write that in under 10 minutes. Right now he's writing it in about 15 minutes. And these topics are like...."Please give us the pros and cons of an arranged marriage." @_@...another topic for example is..."are we overloaded with information" and again you child needs to write 3 paragraphs on the subject and they must include...points like...it gives you 6 bullet points and your child must pick 3 #1 The internet and news media...Advertisements...Freedom of the press...The "spread of cultures" is another bullet point for information overload and there are more topics but the topic is still "info overload." And...the child will have zero idea WHAT the question will be asked to write down... until the day of the Eiken...the important thing is...you need to be able to write about anything and everything. Write it in a timely matter. And does it make sense? I will share more pics and posts about the Eiken later this week. You also have to know the meaning of a whole lot of vocabulary. Like 300 or so vocabulary. Like can your child please explain what "incongruous" means. How about can your child please explain what...dissonance means. Or an easier one...how about petulant. So there is just so much vocabulary we have to go through. Plus the practice for writing the 3 paragraphs with the bullet points. And we're training for time and is he hitting those bullet points or not. Luckily Branden's writing is good. His cursive is beautiful. And it's just the study stuff we're going through and tightening up some things. Branden's Eiken study takes longer...it's just harder. So that's why we only do it every other day.

Right now we're only focusing on taking and passing the written for both the boys. However at the back of my mind...I am already looking ahead on the verbal interview part for both the kids. Noah's will be easy and it's not really a concern. Because he fluently speaks English and it's only the Eiken 3. Branden also fluently speaks English obviously... but Branden's will be harder...since it's the Eiken 1. The pre-1 interview was super easy.  After looking online. We found this message board about the Eiken 1. And there is a Japanese woman in the Kanto area. She passed the Eiken 1 written no problem. And so she wrote that she had tons of confidence taking the verbal/speaking interview in Tokyo. It's at an English school fwiw. You will NOT know the topic ahead of time. And they will ask you and you then have 2 or 3 minutes to give a speech or speak about whatever topic they tell you. Just right on the spot type stuff. The question she got was..."please give us your thoughts about the use of  "loan words" ...on that message board, she told us...she sat there dead silent. And she said she didn't know what they were talking about and she could not answer. She failed the interview. And she went home and searched about loan words. Do I know what loan words are? Yes, I do. But I honestly wouldn't know that phrase... if I didn't live in Japan. How many words do the Japanese borrow from the English language. Cabbage. the Japanese use that. They use Coffee sounds more like cohee, but it's definitely coffee and a loan word. Loan words. So...while I am not trying to concentrate on the interview part just yet. Meaning don't want to count our chickens before they're hatched, if ykwim. Meaning...he needs to pass the written... before we can concentrate on the interview. However...I have a notebook and I have been finding other peoples questions online, so many are shared on that message board... that they were given during the Eiken 1 interview. And I have been practicing with those questions to sort of prepare Branden for that. We have lightly gone through the question of..."what do YOU think of loan words Branden?" And much thanks to that lady...he knows how to answer that. And so while we are working on the Eiken 1 written. I have been collecting other folks interview questions in a notebook and we will work with that, if he can pass the written. And prepare ourselves.

Branden did have his sports day. And those posts are just so hard to get ready to post because I have to white out... everyone's school name and logo on their shirts. And stuff like that. So...I will get that post up eventually. But I'm just not in a rush to do it. And Noah's undokai is next Saturday. So that is just some of the things that have been happening here at our house.

This is a 3 day weekend. The kids do not have school this coming Monday and they don't have school on Thursday either. So the kids only have school 3 days this coming week. : ) Which is super nice. : ) 


What have I been watching on TV lately? Little Women LA and Atlanta. I love those 2 shows so much! I've also been enjoying Teen Mom. I am getting excited for the Fall shows to start. Lucifer the new season starts September 19th. And a brand new show starts September 23rd on FOX and it's called The Exorcist. It seems like a series and it looks interesting and worth a shot. Another new TV show is coming out with Kristen Bell and the show is called..."The Good Place"  it's a comedy and she apparently died...and by watching the commercials...she can't curse in heaven and if you try to curse a funny word will come out instead. And Kristen Bell's character must be trying to curse because all sorts of funny things come out, instead of curse words. It looks like a fun show. I can't wait. I hope, I like this show. : )