Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Fun 2016...

Happy Halloween everyone!!! It's November 1st here already. I know you in the mainland US are having your Halloween trick or treating fun right now! But for us, it's already over! And those of you in Japan, I sure hope you all had a wonderful Halloween too of course! We had an awesome Halloween here at our house! And I have a free hour, so now is my chance to catch up with you all real quick. And let ya'll know how we spent Halloween in our neck of the woods, here in our area of rural Japan! : ) These are the Halloween treats that we brought back from Guam a couple weeks back! I will still be posting our Guam trip. As quickly as I can. : ) But for now...this is the Halloween treats pic. The kids and I were lucky enough to be in Guam and therefore got to pick quite a few bags of American Halloween candy....we each picked our faves and we all are sharing and enjoying it. I have held onto these bags and they have remained unopened until yesterday evening. : ) 
Last week, while I was at Costco, for my weekly shop there. I saw a whole bunch of medium sized Halloween pumpkins. These pumpkins came from the United States. The prices were AMAZING. Super affordable American type prices. And I messaged an American friend of mine who lives in another part of Japan. And she was so happy when I mentioned the pumpkins...that she and her kids drove to her Costco the day after to do her monthly shopping and she texted me that her Costco had these too. And she told me she bought 2 of these for cooking! Which is amazeballs. She made something delicious out of hers! So just a friendly helpful heads up anyway! I didn't buy any of these because, they reached my Costco simply way too late. 5 days before Halloween is a bit late and by that time we already had our pumpkin from another store. I hope next year Costco in Japan gets these wonderful pumpkins earlier in the month. 

198 yen for a pretty good sized pumpkin is a great deal! Especially for us Americans in Japan!

Because if they were too small, they wouldn't have been easy to carve...but these are. So you can tell these are more so... medium sized pumpkins. On the bright side...if anyone wants them for cooking and baking. Maybe you can get a whole bunch... half off by now. And bake and freeze a whole bunch of pies? Who knows. : ) Anyway...hope this helps someone. : )
Halloween is starting to catch on here in Japan. It's not even close...to how we celebrate it in America though. In America, we gave out treats to whoever rang our doorbell. As long as they were in a costume and not too big/old. Hahaha. However here. At least for our housing community. 4th grade kids only knock at fellow 4th grade houses and those mom's organize how many treats. And same for us too. Noah's a 5th grader. And all us 5th grade mom's decided whoever lives in our housing community...we would have Halloween Saturday (trick or treating). And all the week beforehand. The kids while at school would pass along messages through our kids from us mom's. Which kids are trick or treating and which kids are not? Noah said he was. So everyone knew to have a treat waiting for Noah-chan at his classmates house and vice versa for us, we knew who to prepare for. Just like, I knew little K wouldn't be trick or treating. But, I knew for example Naoki-kun would be. And a whole bunch others. I had a round about idea. Also another difference is...in Japan, they don't just give out 1 treat per kid, like how we do in the US. To be fair we do that in the US because we give out candy to about 150 kids and so considering cost... it is wiser to give out 1 treat per kid. Not so here. The first couple years...I would hand out 1 candy per kid (American style). Whoever knocked at my door. And meanwhile they would give Noah a goodie bag. I looked sorta like a cheapskate! @_@ Also...when Noah was in the 1st grade. And his classmates started all this trick or treating stuff. Bran's classmates weren't into it. But Noah's classmates were. So anyways...years ago when Noah was a first grader...besides the fact I was only giving out 1 treat per child. I was happily giving out American Halloween candy! However...the kids weren't really too jazzed or crazy about my candy! @_@ "What's this they'd ask?"It was clear they preferred Japanese treats, instead of ours. And that's okay, I guess. @_@ Deep sigh... deep sigh. So...as they say...live and learn. After a year or two of making "mistakes" I now...make goodie bags. And I now just buy my trick or treaters Japanese treats. Which is fine. And we keep the American treats for my kids and myself. Which is more than fine with us. Also this year Noah received less goodie bags and more a handful of the same thing. Which is totally fine. But...again it's done differently here. : ) 

We made 23 of these goodie bags. 

From Noah. : )  Oh Japan! So yes...in Japan, I do it this way. And if I lived in America, I'd do the American way. : ) 
Friday after school, we carved our pumpkin and turned him into a Jack O'Lantern!
Branden decided the design this year!

So cute! Excellent job Bran! So from Friday, our Jack O'Lantern sat on the porch. He was waiting for our trick or treaters on Saturday!
Happy Saturday Noah, I mean Mario! Have fun trick or treating with your friends! And hello Jack the Pumpkin Head! You are looking mighty fine today Jack! : ) Mighty fine! ; ) 

You have lots of fun today, okay?! I love you very very much! And you look adorable and like a sweet little 11 year old! Childhood is so fleeting, so enjoy! : )
The trick or treaters who just left my house! All 5th graders! I see a witch sitting on my grass. I see a pirate and I see Noah's jack o lantern bucket on his bike. Yes the kids go trick or treating by bike. : ) Because our housing community is large and the 5th graders live all over.

Hello Mario, I see you with all your friends! : ) What a fun Saturday for the kids in our area!

Noah brought back, these! Rice crackers a plenty. A few treat goodie bags. Coconut sable cookies. He was quite happy with his haul. And most importantly... he had a blast! So bless their little hearts! : )  I made taquitos that night.  Now...flash forward to Monday, actual Halloween in the pics below. : ) 

Monday morning, I packed 2 lunches. Bran rode his bike with his friends to JHS. And Noah got a ride. I came home. Made the pizza dough immediately like before 8am! I then stripped down 3 beds and ran to the laundry mat. I washed all of Noah's bedding, plus I pulled out his fleece blanket to add to his bedding. I washed all of Bran's bedding too and also washed his Fall/Winter fleece blanket too. I washed all my own bedding and also pulled out my winter fleece blanket and basically took 3 beds worth of bedding to the laundry mat. Washed all those nicely. Picked up some mushrooms along the way home and some vanilla icecream and then went home, put the mushrooms in the fridge for the pizza for later that night. Made 3 beds. Vacuumed the downstairs. Swished 2 toilets. And then I baked a yellow cake and roasted some pumpkin seeds. And then at 12:30pm, I was done with the house. I had lunch and then rested the rest of my day. I got so much done in the morning. Went and picked up Noah from school and then we...meaning the kids and I enjoyed our Halloween here at home. Noboru had to work. But...I always make Halloween fun in our house. I always make something special for dinner. Something delicious and yummy. We also watch movies and enjoy our night. 

We had a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and Halloween sprinkles. I picked up a big carton of vanilla ice cream too. We had roasted pumpkin seeds and a whole bunch of American Halloween treats. These are only half of the amount of our treats. The rest are in the pantry. We had a homemade from scratch pizza baking in the oven. And again...with living in Japan, we can't celebrate Halloween the American way. But we do create our own special family Halloween traditions here! And so, I always want them to know...mom made it special for them! : ) 

I love you boys so very much! Love you Branden. Love you Noah! And okay....you too Jack the Pumpkin Head 2016! And you can see...I had Halloween Jack O'Lantern lights on my 2 front windows. And I had the spooky lights and decorations on our house! Clearly an American mom lives in this house! : ) I always try to decorate each season or holiday. : ) 

So cute! I love the holidays so much!

I almost forgot to take a picture of our homemade from scratch pizza. The kids got the large pepperoni pizza and I had a small pepperoni, mushroom, onion and jalapeno pizza (am having some for lunch this afternoon). We ate dinner in the living room. We usually won't do that. But...it was a special night. We watched Halloween movies all night long. Hocus Pocus was on last night!

Cake and ice cream for dessert. And then everyone took turns showering. Then into their pajamas and right back to watch another Halloween movie. And snack on some delicious American Halloween candy and chocolate and watch another Halloween movie. It was a fun night, last night! Hope you all had a really special Halloween too! Much love from our family to you and yours! : ) 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall and Winter clothes shopping for the boys. Their Fall Haul...

October 15th, the fam-bam and I went to spend our afternoon getting a bigger jump start on some Fall and Winter clothes for Branden and Noah. Our first stop was Old Navy. Now, I have said it before but I better say it again, just in case any of you have missed it. Old Navy is leaving Japan forever this December. Old Navy decided to pull out of Japan completely. Sad for us here in Japan. However if you want to do any winter clothes shopping for your kids or for yourself before they leave. Go before they leave. You have about a solid month. From what I read...and some locations are closing up already. So, seriously if you need anything from there... before they leave, now is the chance. And of course, I don't think this needs saying but...clearly I have no connection to Old Navy or Gap other than....I shop there. I'm a consumer. I get no kick backs for mentioning it. It's just...if I can help someone by giving any of you a heads up. Then it was worth it for me to waste 2-3 sentences to let ya'll know. : ) Just... if I can help other foreigners with info...by all means. I will try my best! : ) Anyways...back to our day. October 15th, we drove to Old Navy in Tsukuba. I have 2 Old Navy's near-ish to me. One in Inzai/Chiba New Town however I find it smaller and the clothes and store itself..are hard to shop there. Everything seems so compressed and the lay out of their racks etc just drives me nuts! And I worked retail at a clothing store all through high school! I do however...prefer the lay out of the Tsukuba store better and it is exactly like an Old Navy you'd see in the US. Pictured up above is the Old Navy in Tsukuba. After shopping there we went to H&M which is right next door to Old Navy. That advertisement in this picture to the right with a mom and her daughter is..H&M. After H&M, we picked up some Mc D's and headed to another mall in Tsukuba because this mall where Old Navy is...has no Uniqlo. Weird this mall has zero Uniqlo. However no worries we went to Uniqlo and then to a 3rd location...the Gap outlet. Then we called it a day shopping wise and headed to eat some ramen at our favorite shop. I had the spicy ramen, tantanmen. Everybody else picked shoyu.
At Old Navy they had a sale. Not sure if it's because they're going out of business or what but..if you buy 2 things you get the 2nd one...or cheaper of the two, half off. And us being smart figured. If we buy say for example...8 items...why should we just get 1 item 50% off. Why not try and make it as cheap as possible. So that's what we did. You see how we have many small bags from Old Navy? We gave Noah some cash. And he went and bought 2 things/items. Got the 2nd one 50% off. Then we gave Bran cash too, he was in line behind Noah...we actually were all in line... behind one another. And so it was actually smarter to get 4 things 50% off this way... versus just getting 1. 

Men's sweatpants for Bran. For American size wise he's a men's large and it is plenty big. Slightly baggy and comfy for him to wear around the house. These were near $30 however this was cheaper than Branden's jacket. So they only give you the cheaper item 50% off, so Branden actually got these sweatpants for like 1500 yen so like US $15! And yes, if we can get 50% off, as many items as we can, why the hell not!

Branden fell in love with this jacket. He got this in a large too. And this was full price, he bought the jacket and sweatpants together, so got the sweats 50% off, which was still quite a fantastic deal. And these 2 long sleeve tops to the left in a men's size large, one was 50% off. And I went and checked out for those 2 shirts.

From Uniqlo, Bran picked 2 new pair of undies. We wanted another print too but they didn't have his size. Japanese size wise he's an XL and American size wise he's a L.

Noah was lucky to get these 50% off, these are sweatpants. 

On Old Navy online on the US website, some mom said these were perfect for her skinny son. And I also have a hard time finding clothes for my skinny minnie too... having such a skinny son is hard to find clothes for...I know. Noah has always had to cinch his waste band to the smallest...on those waste cincher things inside kids shorts or pants. Or buy a slim fit. So when she mentioned these being better for slim boys. I appreciated that. So, I made sure to look for these for Noah, so he got a pair of these too. I love the bright red wording and these almost look like denim colored sweats. Such cute sweatpants.

Again Old Navy is leaving Japan so we picked these orange shorts for Noah in the size he'll be next year.

A beautiful aquamarine colored top. 

Size Large 10-12 for Old Navy is a size large. And fits my 11 year old perfectly.

However at Gap a large is only a size 10 and too small for Noah, so he has to wear an XL at Gap, since he needs the size 12, since he's 11. Just something...I always have to make sure and double check. This came from Gap.

A very cute Gap USA long sleeve. With a dancing hamburger and a dancing hot dog on the shirt.

And Gap New York.

So 3 long sleeve tops to add to Noah's closet. It's long sleeve shirt weather already.

I really love the pajamas available at Uniqlo. Why? Because their prices are super fair..at only 1990 yen for both a top and bottom set. So the price is affordable. Also, they have all different weights of material for their PJ's. They have thin material PJ's. All the way to the thickest heaviest fleece PJ's. So if your house or apartment in Japan has no central heating. No worries at all. Your child can be warm and toasty with a pair of super thick super soft... super warm cute PJs. Uniqlo is available all over Japan and for a set for only 1990 you really can't beat that price. They call these,,,,"room wear"...see this one says...a room set. My 11 year old wears the XL size. And we prefer the lighter material pair of PJ's and that's only because we have floor heating and central heating at our house and our kids would melt to death...flat out bake... if they wore fleece PJs. So this matches our living conditions best in our home. But...they have all sorts of different thickness in PJs. And the prices are super duper! I picked Noah the gray and red striped pair. Pure gray bottoms and a stripey preppy top. He has been wearing these to night night...or to sleep every single night. : ) Probably next month I'll pick him up a 2nd pair. 

They have sizes from little 2 year olds all the way to adults. : ) 

So this is Noah's pajama set. 

Noah's classmates all wear neck warmers. This one came from Uniqlo it's that special Heattech material. The kids run in the mornings to practice for the "marathon" and all the kids use these. Noah had one last year from a different store, but we saw this one and he asked for it. So he has been using this one. They are useful for him, since he runs in the mornings at school with his classmates. : ) 

Jeans at Uniqlo for 1500 yen. So super cheap prices. Fair prices. Quality is like Gap for sures. 

We picked Noah twin jeans. Hahaha. : ) Uniqlo jeans. 

I had to check H&M. It's because I really like that store. And I found a really great pair of boots for myself. So Noboru bought them for me.

My foot is a size 9. But I bought these in a size 9.5 because winter means thicker socks. Seriously..if you have size 8 1/2 feet or 9 feet...and you live in Japan and have a hard time finding shoes. Since in Japan women have like size 6 teeny tiny feet. Fwiw, my mom has a size 6 foot, lol. And fwiw, my feet were a size 8 until I had kids. And considering I only gained like 20 pounds each pregnancy and lost it almost immediately. It's just the feet. My feet went bazonkers. LOL. 

I have been wanting a pair of flat or no heel type of suede boots for ages. I looked all over last year. I even ordered a pair from a Japanese shop online last year... but when they got to my house, I hated them in person...they were really cheap looking and not cute. So, I sent them back. So, when I walked in to H&M, I saw these and was like..awww. Like a squeal. And I know they have lots of sizes at H&M. And sure enough they had a size that I even have room for a thick pair of socks inside. : ) With a pair of black leggings or skinny jeans. These will be really cute.

And the price is what...4999 yen. Like US $48! Or $49! That's not a bad price for such cute shoes. 


They also have the cheapest hair clips in town. 50 cents each clip, 100 yen for 2. I always pin my hair in 1 clip while I cook dinner. Since my hair is a LOB (long bob)...anyways...did we finish our Fall and winter clothes shopping? Nope. But we're getting there. The first start was in Denver. Bran's  2 pair of Levi's from the outlets and 2 Gap sweatshirts for Bran and a few things for Noah too in Denver too. So...this is our 2nd jump towards Fall and winter clothes shopping. Not 100% done but again...we're getting there. : )

I'm making taquitos tonight. Refried beans, Spanish rice. Everything from scratch. Dinner tonight will be bomb dot com! What else is there to say? Noah and the 5th grade kids in our housing community did trick or treating today at 10am, was when it started. Noah was in his costume so were his classmates. And he brought home a really good sized haul of stuff. I had about 15 kids ring my bell. And I did pass out treats. What else...tonight we're going to a Halloween party/ meet up at 4pm. It's in our town. And then after that we'll come home and have supper. I will be prepping everything dinner wise in the day time. So when we get home... dinner will be pretty much 98% done. Have a fantastic Halloween weekend everyone. We will be watching scary movies all this weekend on cable. And have some popcorn and treats. : ) 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Throwback Thursday, October moments captured from 2010...

Noah picking out a small little pumpkin to take to his class back in October 2010! The mini pumpkins always seem to have stickers for Jack O'Lantern faces. Every year I buy 2 mini pumpkins for the boys to bring to their classes. Their teachers always enjoy them every year, as well as their classmates too! And we were also buying our Halloween pumpkin as well, since our family carves one every year! We're lucky in that there's a place in Inzai that sells them every year and 980 for a big one is always a fair price, for living in Japan! Of course if we lived in the US, they'd be way cheaper of course, that goes without saying. : ) We picked the bigger one near Noah's arm with the stickers on it. : ) That's the one we carved that year. : ) 
Also in October of that same year 2010! Branden received and earned his swimming trophy! He was very excited, honored and proud! He worked very hard for this! : ) Noah has one too. : ) I also love our Fall wreath that was hanging in the background of this pic and this is also the same wreath that's hanging on my front door right this second. With Fall time leaves, 2 scarecrows and a few butternut squash. Aww. : )

In other news. Current what's up with us news. As ya'll know Bran's birthday was yesterday. October 26th! Yay! He's 15 years old right now. Can you believe it? I can barely believe it myself! : ) We went out to the restaurant of his choice last night to celebrate as a family. And we had a handmade ice-cream cake from Nagano last night after supper. It was a nice quiet low-key birthday, but very special just family. : ) And his present. He got a brand new cell phone. Asus Zenphone 3, a gold one. A really nice phone. Umm, what else. I voted last week! I was pretty happy I voted online. Anyways...in other less interesting news...lol...I baked a loaf of banana bread from scratch the other day. Mopped my kitchen floors. And today...I scrubbed under my washing machine. Holy moly was it yucky under there, but now...it's awesome under there. Just...you know...slowly but surely getting the Fall time cleaning done. Weather update...last night coming home from dinner my temperature on my phone said 58 degrees F. So the nights are not...dead of winter...a blizzard is here. If you know what I mean. But...it's definitely...chilly at night. Definitely a crisp bite to the air. You may not need a winter coat just yet. But a pair of jeans and a long sleeve top and maybe a sweatshirt...is the type of weather at night. In the day time...a pair of jeans and a long sleeve shirt is enough. A little too hot in the day time to need the sweatshirt just yet. But you know...just to give you an idea. The day time has been 68-72 F type of weather. : ) But the nights are definitely starting to cool down. : ) Alrighty you guys. Have a great Thursday. : )