Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy New Year 2017. The Year of the Rooster...

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all had a nice New Year's. And... if you are in Japan, I hope you didn't eat too much mochi! Just the right amount, I hope! Hahaha. : )  These are the New Year 2017 cards that I made online. I always order our New Year's cards right after BrannyB's birthday. Because I have a 1 week window where it's after his birthday... yet not quite Thanksgiving, you know what I mean. : ) And so I can sit down and spend an afternoon rearranging the pictures around on the website I order from and when I think they look exactly how I hoped... then I order them! I usually use pics from our big once a year family vacation. And so these are from when we were in Denver, Colorado in the summer time. I think the New Year's cards came out so great! I especially like the faux sky diving one, it cracks me up every time I see it! : ) 
Otoshidama, is pocket money given to kids in Japan by family members. Branden and Noah received the rooster envelop from uncle Jun and auntie Satoe. The white envelop was very kindly mailed from grandma Mitsuko. And the one far left came from Noboru and I. We also made sure to give otoshidama to uncle Jun's 2 kiddos. : ) My niece and nephew. : ) 

Not bad. 15,000 yen each. About $150 US. Both Bran and Noah say they will just save it. : ) Smart kids. 

Because Noboru's family lives in Osaka. Except for uncle Jun and his fam. And my family lives in America. And Noboru moved to America from age 15. He's not really set in a....it "must" be a Japanese traditional New Year's type of mind set. And neither am I. In America Christmas is a family holiday and New Years is more so, staying home and watching the Dick Clark ball drop on TV. New Year's eve is not so serious in America. However in Japan Christmas is more so a romantic holiday and New Year's is more so... a family holiday. So it's sorta switched. So, for New Year's we sort of created our own way we celebrate New Years. We do the New Years big cleaning. We get food to last about 3-4 days. And we stay home and just chill. For New Years this year we had chicken parmesan on top of some fresh pasta. We had salads and garlic bread. It was quiet, it was low key and totally us! : ) 

A few days before... the kids and I made peanut butter ice-cream with some chopped up peanut butter cups too. We use about 1-2 tbsp of creamy Skippy peanut butter and stir and mix it completely and when it is all mixed and combined, we add the chopped up peanut butter cups. 

We just repack the...now peanut butter ice-cream into the container.It is soft, but it will firm right up!

 Amazing ice-cream, so delicious, with living in Japan...we definitely get to be creative and make some things ourselves since it's not available here. : ) And everything is available at Costco in Japan. The smooth Skippy peanut butter, the Reese's peanut butter cups and so is the vanilla ice cream. : ) We have a whole one not even opened yet. And a half of one too. Anyway I hope...however you celebrated ringing in the New Year, it was fun. Here's to a brand new year for all of us! : )

Regarding 2016. I was so ready for 2016 to be over! Don't get me wrong... for our nuclear family of 4, all of us were healthy and prospered in 2016.  However though...globally though...worldwide...doesn't it seem like a whole lot of people died last year? I mean der! People die. Every year. But honestly...it seems like just way too many good people died last year in particular! David Bowie. Prince. Gene Wilder. Mrs Brady, Florence Henderson! George Michael. Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds. And sadly Noboru's dad also passed away in 2016 too. He passed away November 28th at 3:10am. : ( Yes a very quick trip to Osaka happened and back again. It was very sad and absolutely heartbreaking for Noboru. However his father was not himself since his stroke 12 years or so before and was in a nursing facility ever since. So we knew this day would come. Needless to say, it broke every one's heart when it happened. : (  So we have been just rallying around Noboru ever since. Spending a whole lot of family time together. Going to the movies. Playing Jenga. Having Christmas dinner together. Cleaning together in our big end of year osooji. Looking at lots of childhood family pics of Noboru and his dad and rest of his family. : ) And he's been talking a lot about his dad and all his good memories he has about his dad. Also, because our New Years cards were made the last week of October and in our home delivered since the first week of November. I told Noboru, 'let's just not send out our New years cards this year. And we both agreed. In Japan if a death happens you usually send... no New Year's cards and in fact you send everyone a "notice of a family death" post card to everyone beforehand. Such as we have had a family death this year, please send no cards to us this year, that type of thing. So anyways...Noboru and I were online looking at the post cards to notify all the people on our list...that we had a family death. And we had 1 chosen. However as we were about to order the card we chose. The card had a part to add...who it was who died. And Noboru just sat there...unable to type in the words...it was his father who passed. And he sat there for gee...a whole 5 minutes. And I said nothing... because you know...we all grieve differently. And he finally said..."I don't want to tell everyone on our list my dad died!!!" I just don't want to say it. And at that point my heart broke. And I started giving out ideas. trying to just...be there and support him. And I finally said. Well...all Japanese family members should not be sent any New Year's cards for sures. He totally agreed. And we need not tell them about your dad...because our extended Japanese family they know. And so he said...let's just send out all our New Years cards to our friends. But he added we won't send it to my side of the family out of respect for my dad. Because he said...I just don't want to explain to 75 of our nearest friends about my dad right now. I just can't. And I said...honey if that's what you want. Then okay. We pulled about 25 family cards out of the lump of cards we made. And we just sent the ones to our friends and my family. And you know what that's okay. If Noboru doesn't want to tell our friends right now or ever. Because he's just not there yet, with it. Then that's okay. Nobody can tell another person how to grieve the loss of a a parent. We live in a tiny town of less than 5,000 people and if Noboru doesn't want to run into Saya-chan's mom or Lily-chan's mom at the local one and only store in town and have them look at him like he said... he knows they'll be thinking..."oh poor thing his dad died" Then that's fine. He just doesn't want the entire town looking at him like that. And that's okay. I of course don't think anyone in our town would. The folks in our town are hella supportive. But you know...he just doesn't want to share it with the entire town, with people we see every day face to face. We of course sent no cards to his side of the family. Because well... they know. It was a loss for us all... that he passed. My father in law was a truly great kind gentle man. : ) Out of the 3 kids, Noboru was definitely the closest with his dad. I know Noboru was his dad's favorite. It's not nice to say but Noboru truly was his dad's fave, they truly understood each other so well. Anyway...Noboru is slowly getting back to normal now. But he was grieving super badly right after it happened. Anyways so...yeah...so glad 2016 is over. And I did ask him if it was okay if I mentioned about his dad on here and he said yes. Otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it. Oh yeah also Genki's family moved away from our town at the end of October. G is still going to the local JHS but he's been taking a train to our town daily since then. They were our favorite family in our town. Our 2 family's just clicked and got along so well. Our kids have been best friends since Bran and G were age 4 and in yochien. So yeah they are no longer residents and living in our town. They decided since their parents are elderly they would just buy a great big house and all live together so they're living in Chiba in a big city now. Sigh. 2016 was just a crazy bumpy year is some aspects. Lots of change. Some good, some bad. So we were totally ready for 2016 to be done! I hope that 2017 is a good year. I hope all of our family members stay healthy and that nobody passes away this year. And I wish the same to all of you. : ) I hope all of your loved ones, stay healthy and you are happy and in good spirits. : ) Onwards and upwards. 2017 year of the rooster!!!