Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Costco with friends yesterday. Tomorrow, Noah’s Observation Day. A trip to Tokyo Disneyland coming up soon. And this month we will either be going to Singapore or to Guam, we’re hoping for Singapore...

Sorry you guys, I usually always take a cart pic while at Costco. But, I actually met up with 2 of my American mom friends who also live in Chiba at Costco yesterday. So, we were so busy chatting our brains out... at Costco. That, I forgot to take a picture at Costco. Sorry. : ) I guess...I was just so in the moment...enjoying some good conversation. And I forgot the cart pic. But...if it helps... this is what I bought yesterday. Nothing all too wonderful. But...ehhh...it's what we needed. It's just regular food ingredients type stuff. I'm making cheeseburger night at home this Saturday. And so bought 2 packs of hamburger buns. They're like 230 yen or around there... a package, so super cheap for the amount you get. I made Italian last night. Baked Ziti. So the mozzarella 2 pack (I'm also making homemade pizza later this week) and the ricotta was for the baked Ziti last night. Ham for sandwiches. Eggs for baking or breakfasts. Chips for our dip for movie night, Noboru and Noah eat chips and salsa... like it's going outta style! LOL. And a cheesecake. This cheesecake is so bomb. I usually will buy one... every few months. It's been a few months...so I picked one up for the fam-bam. and they loved it! We still have 3/4 of it in the fridge. So...dessert for tonight...is in the bag! I also bought a pack of chicken breasts too. 

This cheesecake is too good. Sooo good. And the price for the huge amount you get. Amazing.

Dinner last night. We also had simple salads and a buttered baguette fresh from the bakery. Dinner was super simple last night and really good. : )

Now for the good stuff! The informative stuff. Today is March 1st. Because you know...Branden is graduating JHS and also starting a new school in April. That means we are dealing with 3 schools right now. Meaning Noah's elementary school. Bran's JHS. And Bran's future high school. And so we have like 3 balls in the air right now...so to speak regarding that. Besides the regular daily living type stuff. Such as cleaning the house.. grocery shopping. Running to Costco every week or every other week. So March is going to be fun. Yes super fun. Nothing bad or terrible. But March is also going to be...hella busy. And as parents of a graduating Junior High Schooler...we are pretty darn busy. : ) Again though..not a terrible bad...blech type busy. But busy. But...such is life. And onwards and upwards and so...all positive. Let's update each of us... in paragraphs.

Noah. Noah has a parent observation day tomorrow. So, Noboru and I will be going to that. Also last Sunday or the Sunday before. There was a meeting for the kodomokai yakuin (which means the kids club PTA) all future 6th grade parents need to go. And you might be picked for PTA duties. Went to that meeting. And wasn't picked because I was fukukaicho (Vice prez) a few years back. Remember? So...they had to pick 5 other members. Yep, me and Little K's mom could not be picked because we had done the job. We were so happy. We were practically giddy! Hahaha. However...the meeting tomorrow? After Noah's observation day. Is the day we will pick PTA for the elementary school. Which is different from the kids club PTA. And so...I could still get hit with the PTA bullet at shogakko tomorrow. Hoping to dodge that bullet. But...you never know. : ) Crosses fingers. : ) Anyway so...tomorrow. Observation day for Noah and the longest meetings at elementary school of the entire year. You have a class meeting...then you have a school wide meeting... then a meeting by where you live. A district meeting. I mean..it's meetings times a million tomorrow. So...looking forward to seeing my little guy... in observation day. Yes, for that! Not looking forward to the 100 zillion meetings afterwards. : ) The observation day isn't until 1:50pm. So, I will be making dinner tomorrow morning. I know...crazy me! But to be fair. I am making enchiladas. And I can make them in under an hour around 7:45am tomorrow morning. Boil up 1 chicken breast. For 30 minutes. Meanwhile skillet fry corn tortillas and blot with napkins. To de-oil them. Shred the chicken breast put seasonings in the chicken to flavor the chicken. And then roll with chicken and cheese. Wrap in tin foil and whack in my fridge! The spanish rice I can make when I get home from meeting hell. And we can will have a salad on the side. And a soda with ice...I will deserve that soda with ice...yes, yes yes because I don't drink alcohol but...the soda with ice will be my reward for surviving all those meetings. Hahaha. : ) Anything else to say for Noah? Noah's last day of school is March 24th. So after that... Noah goes on Spring break. And won't go back until April 5th or 6th or whatever. and when he comes back. He'll be a 6th grader. : ) So other than tomorrow's observation day. Noah's March will be quiet. And nice. He's still playing with his friends who live in our area. In fact Naoki-kun came to ride bikes yesterday. And "twin boy" came to play tennis with Noah a few days before that. He's been playing with friends. Helping around the house. He's such a good boy! And that's about it about Noah. : )

Branden. Between now and March 10th, Branden will be going to Disneyland with his JHS class as a celebration... this is a woohoo "we graduated JHS trip!" This trip is optional, not mandatory. In Branden's class 2 are not going. In the other 9th grade class, I think 3 are not going. So it is optional.  It costs ichiman yen. 10,000 yen $90 US. The entrance fee plus the limousine bus ride from our town to Disney and back. Parents and family could go if they wanted. But...almost no parents are going. 2 parents in Branden's class of 25 are going. Only 2 parents. And 3 parents from the other class are going. We chose NOT to go because...Branden will be off with his friends. It will be their last time together. Hanging. As a class. So...it's sorta lame...if we go and like... follow him around. Ykwim. And we're not lame parents! We're cool parents! And yet...good parents. And we respect that he wants to enjoy his last time too. So Branden is REALLY looking forward to going to Disneyland with his fellow 9th graders. Their last trip together. I'm so happy for Branden. And he is now deciding if he will bring which popcorn bucket...the R2D2 or Mr. Potato Head popcorn bucket. Hahaha. So Bran is looking forward to that. These kids deserve this trip! They accomplished so much! I told him I will freeze him 1 mugicha and 1 will half freeze another mugicha (slushy consistency) because by the time he gets there... it will be melted and perfect. That way he can have 2 drinks while at Disney. And we have been there enough times to know...drinks are allowed to bring in. : ) He can carry them in his Jansport backpack. : )

We have Branden's graduation at the local one and only JHS. March 9th. Branden growing up in a tiny town of 5,000 people. Means he grew up very rural. Very "Country Kid" And there are so many pros of that. He got to go to school with these kids from the 1st grade all the way to the 9th grade. These kids know Branden. Branden knows them. And with a 9th grade class of 45 kids total (and this was 2 elementary schools combined) these kids are like sisters and brothers. They know each other super well. They're safe. There's a comfort of living in a rural town. and going to the same school with the folks you grew up with for 9 long years. They will be graduating. They will be flying away from our town so to speak. There is no high school in our town. So all... will go elsewhere. And many will not be together anymore. Branden for example. Not one of his classmates will be entering the English program at his high school. And while that can be exciting. That comfort...that safety of growing up in a town of 5,000 will not be there regarding school anymore. He'll now be in a big huge bustling city. Where nobody will know BrannyMcB. And that's scary for him and scary for us... as parents too. So yep...graduation will be very emotional for us all...come March 8th. And...of course Japanese school graduations also mean. parents need to wear "ceremony outfits" and they're expensive. Like 20,000-30,000 yen. $200-300US. And so you hope your outfit still fits. Mine does. And you make sure you have a bright corsage type flower. And your nylons are good. And Noboru took his suit and my dress and blazer to get dry cleaned. So...yeah preparation for Branden's graduation. Yes...there is a mild busy-ness regarding that. Not huge busy-ness though. Since we didn't really need to buy anything new. We just dry cleaned our stuff to be fresh. We will also have to dress up in April for Branden's entrance ceremony at the high school.

Graduation dinner. March 9th.  Same day as Branden's graduation. Noboru gave me the wrong date beforehand but lucky for me... he read my blog and told me the dinner and graduation is in fact on the same day. We are not attending the dinner. We were originally given a form asking us if we would go to Disney and the dinner back in September... was the first time they asked. And they sent another letter at the end of November askign for the final time. We said.. Bran will go to Disney. And we would not attend the dinner. The school was *so* shocked about us not attending the dinner... the teacher actually pulled Branden aside in September asking...are you serious you guys aren't going to go to the graduation dinner? Keep in mind the teachers don't even attend the elementary or JHS dinners anyway. They did at yochien but not for the older grades. We could be the first people in history to ever do that! Here's the deal! Branden's yochien graduation dinner. We attended. We felt we HAD to attend. And it is expensive. It's was like $60 a person. So $60 times 3. For Noboru, Bran and I (Noah had to go to a baby sitter for the first and last time ever because siblings were not allowed). Now you know my mind is open- minded... but my tastebuds are NOT. I have very western tastebuds and I'm sorry but that's obviously never going to change.  I hated Branden's graduation yochien meal. It was gross and I didn't eat any of it. Branden didn't eat his either. Noboru munched 3 meals that day. Noah's graduation. Same thing. Horrible meal... we paid 6,000 yen each for Noboru, Noah and myself (Bran was at elementary school that day) because we felt we HAD to. But....I enjoyed my friends and the teachers. But the meal...terrible. And then Branden's 6th grade graduation meal. It was.... 6,000 per person but 1,000 yen or 2,000 yen for the limousine bus... so around 7,000 or 8,000 yen per person. That was $70 bucks times 4. Noah came too. It was at a big fancy hotel in Narita. And the food was horrible. They had curry which was bad. Iced cold fries. And most other dishes...we couldn't eat. Like dark meat fatty karaage. Iced cold spaghetti with wieners in it. It was like. WTF? Now before you start thinking...we're picky...ummm no....Coco Ichiban curry. Which is a chain makes delicious curry. Even Disneyland makes a delicious curry. How many buffets in Japan have we been to? We liked them all! You know that. However the curry at this buffet for Bran's 6th grade graduation was horrible. The meat...was gray! Was it beef? Was it lamb? OMG! What was it? And why was the meat gray, was it old?!!! What did we get for $70 bucks a person? And btw, sodas were not even offered. They had apple juice or mugicha! Do you realize we paid $280 US...for the 4 of us to eat...gray meat curry. Iced cold fries. Cheap tasting spaghetti (not even Saizeriya quality) with wieners in it? And not even a cup of coffee. Or a soda. $280 dollars is a lot of money for 1 meal, do you agree. Do you realize our family could have taken... Branden to Red freaking Lobster 3 times for that amount? Our family could have taken Branden to the Outback Steakhouse 3 times for that amount? We could have went to Coco Ichiban curry and enjoyed our meal better! We frankly..would have enjoyed our meal better if we went to Saizeriya! At least they have a solid drink bar, for crying out loud! I mean...seriously. Think about it logically! Would you...spend $280 again? After doing that in the 6th grade? Again the teachers will not be there. It's not mandatory. We started talking about...if we should go to the graduation dinner this summer. We all remember how Branden and Noah were starving after Branden's 6th grade graduation supper. And how I fixed us all something to eat at home after we spent $280 for the graduation dinner. So yes...live and learn. And we debated all this past summer? And by the way. For the record...this graduation dinner for the 9th grade is going to be at the EXACT SAME place we had the 6th grade dinner too. Same place. Bottom line is...whoever planned this graduation dinner...is picking this place because...it's their personal favorite place! Okay. fine. If you love this buffet. Great. But...to be fair...it doesn't mean...we should be subjected to going there. Why should we attend the buffet of YOUR choosing? Again...we're not mad. We're not sad. We're not feeling anything. We're sorry... we're not going. But not $280 dollars sorry!!! Meaning not enough to attend. But ...no...none of us want to go and eat that horrible food. And so... we're going to go to a place...Branden is going to pick the restaurant! Besides it's HIS graduation! He's deciding if we will go to Kua"Aina Hawaiian delicious place...Jolly Pasta (he loves that place) or if he wants to go to that Italian buffet place. Again...he should get to pick. Since it's he's graduation. Oh and FWIW, for what it's worth...every time we go to Kua"Aina burger our family of 4 spends 6,000 for all of us and we're full/stuffed when we walk out the door. About US$55, for all 4 of us combined. And we actually love that food! Versus paying 7,000 yen a person for a place...we hate. It's sorta a no brainer. And the Jolly Pasta we only spend about 6000 yen sometimes 5,400 yen (about $50US). And that's for all 4 of us too. Again...it's not to make our fellow graduating parents upset. It's just....why should 1 person who loves that hideous buffet... get to choose for us ALL? It just makes zero sense to me. And it always has made no sense to me at all. It makes zero sense to Noboru too. Noboru graduated high school in Denver and his parents and host parents they all went out to a restaurant they picked. And that was the same how I grew up too. And when Noboru and I were in uni together, we went with both our families...and we went to have Italian for our graduation meal together. Again though...it was a restaurant *we* chose. And so...no...we will not be paying $280 damn dollars for a restaurant we don't even like. When we could go to Kua'Aina and eat and each get a meal each...a drink...or go to a pasta place we like. So anyways...word has been going around... #towngossip...all Fall and Winter...that Branden and his family won't be attending the graduation dinner. And....I guess...maybe a lot of people were feeling the same. Because when the list came of... who is going...therefore who is not going too. Genki's family is NOT going...so that whole family is not going. And about 3 other families are not either. And a bunch of parents are not attending either... when...they originally were attending. So just some kids going alone. But...yeah...my friend joked with me..."you started something" now others are admitting they didn't want to eat there either. That surprised me. Because...I felt... it was JUST us? But...apparently not. And again...it's no disrespect to the planners of this graduation dinner. But really...what if a family prefer go to Cappriaciosa for dinner to have a nice quiet low key thing. Why can't they? Why do we all have to be borgs...or sheep and blindly follow and pay threw the nose for a place we don't want to go to... in the first place. And no...we will NOT be attending Noah's graduation dinner... next year either. See...the longer we live here. While we're still deeply respectful of the culture and whatnot. We also...understand we have our own...brains and our own places we want to eat. And we're not going to just follow blindly. And I'm sorry but spending $280 on a place for 1 meal... all 4 of us hate. Is nuts! And I am so proud of my family and myself... for being strong and saying. No. Thank you for asking...but no thank you. We will not be attending. And in some small way...I think us saying no first. Let people...think about it all Fall and Winter. And it did give the handful of those the courage to say...I decline also. 


I have my big yearly, once a year doctors appointment complete with barium drinking and the whole thing on March 13th. They give you a pap smear. Eye check. Blood pressure. Blood tests. Mammogram. You name it...they test for it. Cholesterol. They also check for stomach cancer. This is a huge test. So that's also in March. Oh yay...fun day for me. : ) hahaha. But necessary, I know! Good health should never be taken for granted. : )

High school orientation March 18th. The entire family will have to go. Because we're certainly not leaving Noah...only 11 years old at home all alone. We'll be gone for super long. What if we had an earthquake or some disaster. It's best we all go. And guess what. My Japanese girl friends told me, they're angels and so wise... they help me so much. You know how...in elementary school and JHS your kid gets text books for free right? Well in Japan high school is NOT mandatory. So text books for high school you have to buy them! And they're around 25,000-30,000 yen for a year of text books for Branden. So if you have a future high schooler in Japan. Just keep that fact at the back of your mind. So you don't die of shock when they ask you for $250-300 US for text books! Also the uniform we already bought for Branden. Branden is going to a very *very* fancy high school. And his uniform is an actual classy name brand... high school uniform versus a brand X one. His high school uniform is made by Benetton. And super expensive. We bought that at the uniform shop weeks ago. So we were smart to buy that. For our particular high school the uniforms are made to order. They're near heart attack expensive, that's how pricey they are! However the gym uniform will have to be bought on high school orientation day, which is on March 18th, it must be bought at the actual high school. And we have to buy Branden's inside shoes then too. My mama friends who have daughters older than Bran...their daughters high school allows them to wear slippers. Such as Uniqlo slippers or Gap slippers, Hello Kitty slippers. Ykwim/ You know what I mean. But...Branden and his fancy shmancy school...slippers are not allowed for inside shoes.@_@  They are "special" ahem absurdly pricey inside shoes. Curse you fancy school!!! Hahaha. : ) That must be bought at the actual high school during orientation. And what do they look like? Like Noah's elementary school inside shoes/ballet shoes. Except each grade has different colors. @_@ We are guessing it will be hella expensive come...orientation day. But we expected this when we picked this school and Noboru's fine with it. But yep...so many things to buy. But...we are allowing Branden to go to this particular high school because it's almost like an international high school environment. If ykwim. English is placed with the *greatest* importance at this high school and we want that for Branden. Plus he will have so much fun going to this school. My kids are 100% bilingual, but they *strongly* prefer English (speaking, reading and writing). So this will be a wonderful environment for Branden to be in. 

Anything else to add? This post is already a mile long. A couple days AFTER high school orientation. We are going to Singapore. As a graduation trip to Branden for passing his entrance exam. Getting into high school which was his #1 high school pick is a pretty major accomplishment. So our family of 4 will be heading to Singapore for a few days in March. In Japan it is pretty usual/standard to go on a trip after your child "gets into" is accepted into high school here in Japan. All of my Japanese mom friends have taken their children on trips. Either to USJ, to Okinawa (gorgeous), Hokkaido (domestic in Japan trips, but fun trips). Also, Branden's one female classmate and her fam-bam are going to Guam this March for her graduation trip. So no...it is not uncommon at all. It's pretty standard. Because such importance is placed on getting into high school. Therefore reason to celebrate. We do have 1 of Branden's classmate who is not going on a trip this March however his family bought him a brand new IPhone of his choosing. So either gifts or trips are pretty common for kids graduating JHS. Because if you get into a good high school...you're pretty much set! A good life guaranteed if it's a good high school. We have our hotel reservation already. We are planning to go to Universal Studios Singapore. We were originally planning to go to Universal Studios in California a few years back. And then we got bumped and went to Hawaii instead. Remember? Anyway. We were thinking of going to Universal Studios Japan sometime this Spring. However...with Branden having no school for March after this Friday. We started to think about USJ again. The only downer is everything is in Japanese which sorta sucks. And March in Japan means JHS students who just graduated are off school....all 9th graders nationwide. 6th graders are off school too. And 12th graders are off too.So amusement parks in March in Japan, hahaha... might want to be avoided if you can avoid it. March and amusement parks means super busy. However at Universal Studios Singapore, we're still in Asia plus the best part is... everything is in English. Our family of 4 has been to Seoul, South Korea... amazing, safe, modern country delicious food!!! Bankok, Thailand, gorgeous country, delicious food, kind people. We have never been to Singapore before. But my impression is. Singapore is very safe, very clean. Very modern. English is one of their official languages. So communicating should be awesome. I know they have Sephora there! Hello gorgeous Singapore... you just swayed me with Sephora! Hahaha. They have many Korean beauty brands there too. Innisfree. Face Shop. Etude House. Their shopping is killer. My friend went there and she said...best shopping ever! Amazing experience. Though I am not going for shopping. Okay maybe I can shop for 1 hour, while my family gets an icecream. LOL. Oh yeah... I was watching a video on YouTube and they called Singapore a foodies paradise. So again...I have never been to Singapore. But, honestly...my impression is......what a dazzling country! They have street food. Food stands. Which we love. They also have shopping mall food courts too. They have American Chili's restaurant. And Popeye's fried chicken. They have Long John Silvers. They seem to have something to offer everyone. Again though...we have never been there. But..our main goal is Universal Studios. And looking around a bit and trying some foods around the city. We will stay 2 nights. And then...we will be back in Japan. So a short trip yes...but a trip! And a fantastic chance to see another country. To see and respect another culture and learn things first hand..in person. Versus reading about it in a book!!! Economy seats are full on our airline. And out of 35 seats or so first class... 30 seats are wide open. And we are hoping we can get on the flight, Now what happens if we can't get on the flight? Well then...we will fly to Guam. And spend 3 gorgeous glorious days/2 nights in tropical gorgeous Guam and swim along the beach. Oh by the way. We have 12 free stays at a hotel and they expire at the end of August 2017. So we will have to use those 12 days. Sometime. So like ....2 days here and maybe 5 days in June. or whatever. But...we will most definitely be using those 12 hotel stays for sure too. So, I see lots of travel for 2017 for us. Especially now that the Japanese JHS study your brains out.... tests tests and more tests is all over. Plus we still have our once a year big long vacation in summer too and I'm feeling sorta like Hawaii again. : ) So we are hoping for Singapore this March. But we are willing to accept Guam. Because...we are frankly grateful for any trip...period. : )  The seats are more available right now for Singapore. And we hope for that too. But again...either trip is good. And we'd be happy with either. Bottom line though. A trip happening this month. So good positive stuff happening. : ) 

Any news about me? My hair stylist is pregnant. She is having her second baby. And that is so amazing. She told me last time. I went in. That she will be on maternity leave for the next year. @_@ I'm happy and thrilled for her. But sad for me. Because I finally have the best best hair stylist. Our personalities just click so well. The past 2 years I have been going to her. And then I had a 2 year gap.. but before then... I saw her all through my kids yochien years too. So, many years for us. And the other hair stylists at that salon are good. They're kind. But I'm more like. Meh. About going there now. I liked the conversation and talk that her and I used to have about kids. About life. Ykwim when you have that perfect hair person and it's awesome. And then that person is just gone. And now I'm like...what should I do? And I mean... she should be home resting taking care of herself and her future baby, she deserves this time. She has a toddler little girl right now too. Anyway. I could frankly color my hair at home... every 2 weeks for 990 yen a box of dye every 2 weeks. My hair coloring is 5,000 yen once a month at the salon but it's a price I don't mind spending since she and I click and it's relaxing for me to be there and have her do my hair. But that's no longer an option so.... if I did it myself that would be cheaper. No sense in going there once a month for a color, if she isn't there. When I could do it at home cheaper and get it colored more often. I mean...if it was my regular stylist of course I'd prefer go to her. But...if she won't be there. I think I'll just color it myself at home every 2 weeks and it'll look fresher anyways. The cut and straightening... I will continue to get there. I guess. : )  So slight bump in the road about my hair...with my hair stylist going to be gone for a year. But...I'll pull through. And stick around or switch salons? I don't know. To be continued. It'll be a hair adventure this next year, I guess. Positive vibes though on the hair. And I do think it's even harder for me...as a foreigner/western woman. Because some salons treat you *so* super weird, ykwim. And to be fair not all do. But...to finally have a place. You're comfortable and they all know you. Sigh. : ) Anyways...

Anything else to add? Yes...I placed my first Sephora order today. I think...I mentioned 2 years ago that Sephora USA ships to Japan. Orders 10,000 yen or over...the shipping is just 1500 yen. I go to America every single summer. Either Honolulu or Denver, so I usually just do one huge haul every summer. But I have been on such an eyebrow kick lately. Remember? I have mentioned that before. Anyway, I ordered 3 things from Anastasia Beverly Hills (the Dipbrow Pomade in medium brown, the brow Wiz in medium brown and the brow pencil in medium brown.) Three guesses if you can figure out what color my hair is! LOL! I like these colors because of the tone... they're more cool and ashy brown than warm and reddish brown. My hair is a cooler ashy brown. And the 2 brow mascaras I bought in Japan are too warm. Like I mentioned before. I do like my Rimmel medium brown brow mascara and I do like my Anastasia brow mascara in the color brunette, but...I'd like to try these 3 brow products. I also bought an Anastasia brow brush. Oh and fwiw, it seems Sephora in Singapore does not carry this brand. : ( Oh and this is so funny and it just figures...so my order total this morning was 9500 yen and I was short 500 yen to get the cheaper 1500 yen shipping. And so... they were going to charge me 2500 yen in shipping. So...I smartly added a $5 pack of peppermint blotting papers to take my total...equaling and/or a few cents passed... the amount of ichiman yen and they only charged me 1500 yen on shipping. So...smartly adding those blotting papers by Boscia saved me money in shipping. I think the order said in 5-7 days. So by next Thursday my stuff should be here at my house. Right on. Anyways...sorry it's such a long post. I guess I just had a whole lot to say this time. : )