Sunday, April 30, 2017

Recent Costco cart pics...

Usually once a month I'll share a Costco post of stuff I bought for the month. I didn't share anything I purchased at Costco in March, although we shopped there once a week in March. So, figured it would be a good chance... to share some pics of what we bought for April. Since today is May 1st. #1, growing up unless we made pasta sauce from scratch.... in a pinch Prego or Ragu was always the one we'd buy, if we were just having a quick dinner. And those 2 brands were always my faves. I think 12 years ago in Japan at Costco we used to get Prego. But it sadly stopped being available. We then... had Classico available and it's meh. It's okay. But the large chunks of tomato in there have never been my kids fave or mine. So...when I was in Costco April 10th, I was happily surprised to see the 3 pack of Ragu pasta sauce for sale. I bought a pack immediately. 
1180 yen for 3 large jars of it. Considering the teeny tiny size of pasta sauce you can find at Kaldi here in Japan. This is a fantastic price!

So April 10th, we just picked up pasta sauce and ham for lunches for the kids for their packed school lunches. 
April 17th, again not huge amounts of stuff, just the basics. A 2 pack of milk for cereal or chocolate milk, that sorta thing, tons of eggs and tortillas. 

This was the day we needed 2 Costco shopping carts. Because we bought a brand new BBQ grill. Let's see what's in this pic. Costco dinner rolls. Costco sandwich rolls. Mozzarella cheese and ricotta (yep baked ziti happened) eggs and lean ground beef under the eggs. 2 packs of chicken breast. Tillamook cheese slices for sammiches. : ) And a rotisserie chicken because the boys took rotisserie chicken sammys the next day in their lunches for school. Also same day... 

Mac and cheese happened and chips because Branden can take chips in his lunch now in high school so he takes a standard American lunch daily more or less now. Meaning sandwich, chips fruit and a dessert. 

Aha, dinner rolls, you can see at this angle better. The lean ground beef on the bottom and laundry detergent 2 pack. And tortilla chips because nachos happened too. We basically did all our shopping before Golden Week kicked into gear. Plus with the BBQ grill too. Because we know Golden Week at Costco will be a mad house. Packed to the gills. So glad we were smart enough to go before GW kicked into gear. : ) 

Unpacking all our Costco stuff at home. We forgot to take a pic of the charcoal. We BBQ-ed last night and it was awesome. : ) for those of you outside of Japan. You may or may not know this week is Golden Week. A string of holidays where most people have no school or work in Japan. Today is Monday May 1st here in Japan. And Noah is supposed to go to school today and tomorrow and then be off school until next week. However tomorrow, Branden has a Field Day type event at his high school. And with it being Golden Week. Noah has a half day tomorrow anyway. And since Bran's school is far. And since Noah's having a half day. And we will be at Bran's event until 3:30pm. We decided to send Noah with a note to school today. Letting his teacher know that Noah will not be at school tomorrow because of a "commitment at his brother's schools in the city"  My priority is to *not* strand any of my kids and considering the distance between the 2 schools *plus* traffic, so when Branden has an event, Noah will just have to come with us and lucky for us, he doesn't have too many events anyway (2 a year?). And since Noah will be out of school from 12 tomorrow in the afternoon and considering Branden's event starts from 8am and lasts until 3:30pm it's logistically impossible for us to warp to our town at 12 noon and warp back considering it's a 1 and a half hours drive one way. Better for us to just let Noah take the day off. That way he can just come with us. Enjoy his day at his brothers school. Have a picnic with us. And then we 4 will all go home together. So that's tomorrow. So Noah only has school today. And then no school for Noah until next week. Meanwhile Branden...has just his Field Day event tomorrow and then he is off Wednesday, Thursday Friday, Saturday, Sunday obviously he is always off on the weekends. And he doesn't need to go to school until next week either. So all Bran has to do is go to his sporting event tomorrow which will be held inside a gymnasium. And then he's free. And his high school sports event is supposed to be a lot different than elementary school and JHS undokai. It's apparently super chill. And not really competitive-y at all. So I'm looking forward to tomorrow to just watch and chill with my entire family. I'm glad we will pull Noah out of school for tomorrow so he can come with us. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday...

Happy TBT everyone!!! Today's Throwback Thursday is going to be *so* super cool and amazing! Because it just is and you will love it! And it's so...coming full circle, if you know what I mean! You'll see. Last week, when I was making last weeks TBT. Which also happened to be, 1 day before Branden was about to go on his excursion/class trip to Tokyo Disney Sea with his high school. I... by sheer coincidence while looking through April pics. Found these. And I was awed! And I truly marvelous to find such fitting photos 1 day before Branden took his school trip as a high school student there. How truly amazing it was to find these pics. What good luck!!! Here is Noboru and Branden, in 2008 in April at Tokyo Disney Sea. She had to check to see if Branden was tall enough to ride the ride. And Noah was obviously way too little, so he and I sat this one out. But we looked out and watched and I meanwhile took pics. Meanwhile also pictured is a high school boy on his high school class trip wearing his high school uniform and high school bag. Little did we know... someday in the distant future Branden would be taking *his* high school trip at the same exact amusement park! 
More high school students on their class trip back in 2008. Once again. This year, 2017 it was *my* son who became the high schooler and he was taking his class trip to Tokyo Disney Sea. And perhaps there was a child there at the park in 2017 and his mom snapped a pic of her child with Bran in her background. How cool, just thinking about it. Oh and fwiw, I was having my camera pointed at the exit for this ride and this was my practice shot. : )And yep, boy and girl high school students on class trip in this picture in 2008.
High school students on their high school trip on the right and a wee little Branden in his bright yellow rain coat happily running towards Noah and I. Noah meanwhile... saw Branden and ran towards him and Noboru. 

Aha there is my little blondie!!! Noah had the lightest shade of hair when he was little. And the blondest eyebrows. Even at age 11, he still has lightest hair than anyone in his class and school.  

The only thing I can think of is. Enjoy every stage of your kids! Enjoy the heck out of their toddler age! Enjoy their elementary years too. Spend time with them. Listen to them. Laugh with them. Just love them and be there. Be present. We took our kids to Tokyo Disneyland or Sea twice a year. Not every week or every month. But we did it as a special treat. We also did small stuff like having movie nights at home. Or taking them hunting for crawdads/crayfish in rural Japan where we live. Backyard BBQs. Or just sitting on the couch watching TV together or playing a round of Sorry or Monopoly on the kitchen table. We took cheesy pictures ALWAYS. We did goofy and silly things weekly. We cook and bake together even now. And believe me...they'll remember all this stuff when they get older. And they'll love you for it! They truly will! : ) Like this pic...Branden was pointing at this silly Spring dessert. And I could tell he wanted I said..."you like it...make sure you order it!!!" : ) And he did. And well... he still has this cup! : ) He also had a sandwich and fries and regular lunch stuff too. But yep. Kids will remember the quality time and the quantity too. : )

My sweet Noah : ) 

And a family sharing a coconut soft serve. And me meanwhile trying really hard not to notice that this lady in the background of my pic was basically PHOTOBOMBING every pic I tried to take. All I wanted to do was take a pic of both my kids. And instead of her just acting like a normal human and turning around and let me take pics of my children. She faced my camera directly and stared straight into my lens. Has this ever happened to any of you? I mean...I snapped about 30 pics and she just stood there staring and never looked away. Did she want to be in my picture THAT badly? I mean...OMG...who does that? That lady was a real freak-o! Total weirdo! Oh well...I do love the pic though... because it shows how much Noah adores his big brother. His eyes were always on his brother. : ) Such big wide innocent eyes. 

Of course we had to take pics of this. Branden was tall enough, but Noah was sadly not tall enough. It's okay though... there were a lot of rides Noah could ride. Right cutie patootie? Right! : )

My little blondie holding onto his daddy's lap... just in case the ride got too scary. So he was holding onto Noboru's leg for safety. Hahaha. : )

Yay, we 4 just got out of that ride and it was fun. 

So today's TBT is just a gentle reminder to enjoy your child at every age and every stage... because if you thing you know... they'll be on another stage and you'll miss it. So just enjoy it all. Enjoy every stage. I'm so glad I enjoyed it all. And in fact I still am. Lucky for kids are still kids. They're just 11 and 15 and I have *many* fun filled years left with them. And I'm not taking any of our days or years for granted! Gosh I love you Branden! You are such a sweetheart. 

Branden asked me to take this pic because he wanted me to share that he was tall enough to ride the big kid rides!!! Awww! And I am so glad I took this pic! : )

And their lovely, silly cheesy amazing and corny Ultraman poses! Which I lovelovelove! And I am *so* glad that they were carefree enough to take these. Being just 2 silly brothers at Tokyo Disney Sea back in 2008!!!

I hope you had as much fun at Tokyo Disney Sea last week, as you did in 2008! I love you Branden! : )

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Grass and rice field update and also a few other bits and pieces for good measure too...

Grass update! If you remember last year, we decided to give away our massive kids playground/jungle gym that we bought for Branden and Noah when they were toddlers, so they could have their own playground right in their very own backyard. Lucky boys, that we live in rural Japan because in rural Japan.... backyards are more American-sized yards. Versus if you lived in say the heart of Tokyo or Osaka city for example. Anyway...if you remember after we gave the jungle gym away last year, to our friends... we had this huge eyesore of a an oval shape with bark, where the jungle gym used to be. And then we started in with stage 1 of the clean up. And we removed and threw away all the bark. And then we did stage 2 and we went and picked up a massive amount of sod (squares of grass) Then not sure why... but half the sod died. So we removed the dead ones and replaced them. @_@ OMG! And then we replanted. And we watered and put down nutrients. And we watered all summer... in the evenings. And looked okay. Granted you could still *strongly* see the difference between the new grass in the oval shape. And the older grass. So this is the updated pic taken a few weeks ago. I can still see a light oval shape... if it's an aerial view. But if you are standing right in the backyard, it's getting harder to make out the oval shape anymore. And that's a good sign. Noboru told me last year. It would look VERY different last year, between the new grass and the older grass. But he said each year it will look less and less different and eventually blend right in. And it hasn't even been 12 full months yet me this looks pretty good. Also, you can see the grass is slowly starting to turn green. I have mentioned this on here a bunch of times. Japanese grass turns hay yellow in winter and gradually turns greener the closer it gets to summer and then the closer fall gets.... it slowly loses it's color again. : )  Oh and this is the view from Noah's back bedroom window. Each of my kids have their own bedroom and they each have 2 windows in each of their rooms. A big window and a side window. I think as the summer comes... the oval shape will get less and less. And the grass will get greener and greener. Noboru does such a fantastic job on the grass. And I really do enjoy having our own open space and our own backyard. For BBQ-ing or for just enjoying being outside. Sometimes Noah cart wheels all over the backyard and it makes me smile that he can enjoy such a nice big yard. With such soft green grass. And it's been raining quite a bit, so it'll hopefully hurry and get greener soon. : )
Another view. That's our shed of course. That holds every one's bike. What's inside the shed is...the BBQ, the undokai (sports day things) my seasonal wreaths, bicycle pump, that sort of thing. We have an open/vacant lot... this side of us. Lots of bamboo. Rice fields all full with water now. You can see hills and bamboo forests. A huge garden way way way in the back that farmers tend. Solar panels for that 1 elderly couple, who got too old to farm, but still need to eat... so they now create energy. It's way way back there. And just wilderness is to your facing right. See these bamboo near our shed....there is a lot of bamboo around. Anyway one night we came back from Jolly Pasta. You know my car is like dead silent right? She's electric, boogie woogie (electric slide reference, lol). So anyways... we surprised 1 mama raccoon and her baby. The mama ran towards and into the bamboo near our shed. And the baby ran down the street. The wrong way/opposite way where they live. We were surprised they were there. They were surprised we came home too!!! We felt bad, there was a missing toddler raccoon. We went in the house. That's 1 story. Ferrets, story 2. Those brown super long things. We saw one in the field next door to us this past Monday. As we were unloading Costco goodies from my car, a ferret waddled out of the field...they're *very* long. And went to a neighbors yard. Story #3 The family who drives a blue car down the street from us, her husband is in the Father's Club too, anyway he swears he hears and sees monkeys. @_@ I have yet to see any. But honestly they're such a trusted family, I have no doubt. If *they* say they have seen monkeys. I believe it. Story #4 Those birds with bright red heads, pheasants. They live in the field right next door too. And boy oh boy... do they make some racket in the day time once in a while. LOL. : ) But's peaceful living here. I would never trade our simple country life here for any other area in big city Japan. Sorry I am sure big city love that life and that's fine. But, I much prefer this quieter low key life. 

I like that thick brush, that bamboo near the shed it creates such privacy for us too. And my gosh so many things living in there ya'll. Raccoons, pheasants, ferrets and 1 homeless kitty. : ) Do they know each other, all live there too? They must. : )In the Spring when it gets warm enough to open the window at night. Before it's hot enough to warrant the AC usage. You can hear water trickling from the rice fields. Frogs a croakin'. It's awesome. It's a nice little sound. In the old days people would go to Sharper Image to buy sleep sounds on those expensive units. That sound like the rain forest sounds or of rain drops etc. Those nature sounds. I always tell my family...we'd never need a background CD. LOL. We get all those soothing sounds outside for free, LOL

And what's behind that hill...more rice fields and behind the other hills and bamboo forests...more rice fields too. I now...look forward to seeing the rice start to shoot up out of the water. And then everything will be lush and greenFrom the dinner table you can see the water in the rice fields and it looks absolutely beautiful. We enjoy watching the fields as we eat breakfast and dinner every day. It's relaxing and yes you can hear water trickling from the dinner table. It's ever so slight, but yes if you're quiet you can hear it. 
Honestly? Sometimes after the kids go to school and after I do my walk. While the wash is upstairs washing. I'll sometimes sit on my back patio with a hot cup of coffee and just chill for about 5 minutes looking out and what peace place to live. It's so quiet and peaceful here. 

Yep a perfect view of the water.: )

Anyway...just an update. The rice fields have been planted. The grass in our backyard is indeed getting greener. and from this level you can barely see the oval shape, it's just noticeable if you're looking out Noah's bedroom or out the laundry room window. Otherwise we can't really see any difference between the older and newer grass from this standing level anymore which is nice. : )

Any current updates on me or the fam-bam? Hmm. I have a fun lunch date with my besties tomorrow. We're meeting at Coco's tomorrow at 11am. And Noah gets off school at 2:50pm, so I know I'll have to drive back to my town around 2:30pm tomorrow.... to make it in time since I live where I do. Which is fine. But...I am wondering how many hot cocoa's and sodas and various other drinks I will be having tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. So much, I had yogurt this morning for breakfast and will be having a salad for lunch today for my lunch and I will be making a curry (powder) veggie stir fry for supper tonight. I'm really still making sure my meals are as low calorie as I can make them... because I know I am going to be having tons of drinks and probably pizza or something delicious but bad on calories for my lunch tomorrow. 

Umm anything else to add? Bran went to Tokyo Disney Sea last week with his high school grade. He had a blast!!! He had so much fun!!! He straight up...loves his school. He had some tests last week, he totally aced them! For the English kids (department) for his grade... he had the highest score. He got 98 points out of 100! I was surprised he missed one.  Not that I care either all know that...we're very chill parents... but it's just because as his mother, I know my son and he legit.... usually *never* misses anything English related. Neither does Noah. Because both my kids have *extremely* high English writing skills. But apparently everyone in Bran's class was like...OMG you only missed 1 holy crap!!! @_@ So they were surprised and apparently impressed, lol. The 2nd best score in the class was 80 points and went to his best friend. And these tests are superly hard. So...I am really proud of Branden. And he aced his math test and his Japanese test too. He's just killing it at school you guys! He has tons of friends. He's just enjoying his high school life.  Even Branden's gym class is and has to be conducted entirely in English. So the English kids, they do everything in English, including gym, lol. Even roll call is in English. They're supposed to say, "I am here" or "I'm here" is acceptable. LOL. I told Bran, ya'll are so much more polite than my school in America, because we would just say...."HERE!!!!" LOL. Japanese class is in Japanese though, but that's about it.: )

Noah meanwhile is enjoying his final year at elementary school. He does his homework every day. He plays with his friends. He helps me around the house. He cruises with me every evening to go and pick up Bran from the train station. He's like... my right hand man. He's such a helpful kid. We're also working on a lot of English writing here at home. And spelling. Cursive too. Noah's cursive is getting better. Not quite as pretty cursive, as Branden's. But to be fair Bran's older and has lots more practice, so it's getting there. : )

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lunch date with my husband...

Once a week during the weekday while the kids are at school. We go on a date. Though Noboru and I are both born in the 70's people. We will be officially married for 20 years this coming May 21st!!! Yep we were married in 1997. In a day and age where it seems half of all marriages fail and end up in divorce. I'm so happy and proud to have a healthy and strong marriage. Granted that's not to say he's never gotten on my last nerve and I'm sure as heck, that I have gotten on his last nerve before too. : )

I married a man who makes me laugh the most, more than any one ever has. I chose a man who I could talk all day and night long and yet we'd never run out of conversation or things to talk about. I married someone who doesn't care about clothes or fashion. But who is kind, always calm. Reasonable. And my absolute best friend in the entire universe. I love that I can make him laugh so hard... that actual real tears come out of his eyes. I love that, he knows what I'm thinking by just looking at my face. And that I can read him like a book too. And I love that he cares about our marriage as priority #1...yes even after 20 years. And still makes time, once a week to reconnect with me and we can just be us. Not Branden's and Noah's mom and dad. But just be, Noboru and Gina for 1 solid hour or 2,  and have that connection and tune in time. And sure...then we can go back to being mom and dad again. But the fact we always make time for us. Is hugely important. And yes we do connect and talk daily. It's just once a week, we make it just about us. : )

So anyways...Noboru has been dying to go to this coffee shop in Inzai called. Komeda Cofffee? It's a chain in Japan. He has been just itching to go for the past 6 months. And even though we hit Inzai once a week for our weekly Costco run and lunch date. And I would have gladly gone to Komeda Coffee any time that he wanted. We usually are feeling more lunch-y versus coffee and breakfast set type. But last week...we hit all our Inzai shops and tossed everything in the cooler. And we then thought what should be do for lunch? Should we hit the Ohsho? Coco ichiban curry? Lunch at Costco? But Costco lunch is good and cheap... but if you eat it once a week, after a while... it gets hella tiring after a while. So...he said...we could always try Komeda Coffee. And I said...let's go for it. We both each picked an iced coffee, And we shared the pancake with ice-cream with maple syrup. It was delicious but fwiw, it didn't taste like traditional pancakes at all. But it was good. We shared it because are both on this whole...get fit 2017 thing. Would I ever go back to Komeda Coffee? Absolutely and I wonder what took us so long to finally go there. I resisted going there because I thought it would be a Starbucks knock off. But it's not Starbucks-y at all. And Noboru was resisting going there too, even though he also wanted to go. So he too had something holding him back too. My first experiences with Japan were in Osaka because Noboru is from Osaka. And the thing I loved about Osaka was they had all sorts of breakfast shops that sold breakfast sets/combos. It came with a quality breakfast coffee of your choice and an egg (boiled or another way) toast and a salad. They also sold waffles. They were always high on quality and cheap on price around 500 yen. So, we would go to many breakfast set places in Osaka every time we were in Osaka visiting. When we actually moved to Japan. We moved to Chiba prefecture and our area just has no breakfast set places at all. I'm not sure why. Is it a uniquely Osaka wonderful thing? I'm not sure. So yeah. Komeda Coffee reminds me of the Osaka style breakfast set places.

In the morning, if you order a coffee at Komeda Coffee, you get a free/complimentary toast and hard boiled egg or tablespoon or so of amount of egg salad to enjoy with your toast. And for lunch they have sets too. The menu seems really great. The iced coffee which we both ordered...anyway the elderly waiter informed us that they offered 2 types of iced coffee, one is slightly sweetened and the other has no sugar added. I picked the slightly sweetened iced coffee. And Noboru picked the no sugar added iced coffee.

I have never tasted ice cream with maple syrup drizzled on top before. Now that was a first for me. It was actually pretty good. : ) Anyway...we both really loved this place and we'll definitely be back. We enjoyed going here together and talking ourselves to death for a solid hour. And people watching and talking some more. : ) 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Planting some new flowers in my hanging baskets, that hang on my front porch and some TV talk...

For years, I have been ordering bright red flowers from this online shop for my Spring and Summer floral hanging baskets that hang on my front porch. I always purchase 8 for my hanging baskets, 2 each. This year, was very different. It said you may now *not* order less than 20 at a time. @_@ Noboru likes the flowers I grow every year. And so he emailed them and asked nicely and they said, that we could order just 8. And that we have been good customers of theirs for years. But they also wrote back that this year... the flowers are not the shade of red like in years past. That now they are light red. Anyone ever hear of light red before? @_@ We said, sure light red was fine. And so we ordered them. And after a month when they were in season and strong enough to ship, they shipped them.  Umm, I don't know about ya'll but these are hot pink!!! Not even remotely red. Sigh. So...flower baskets 2017, will sadly not be bright cheerful red. But they will instead be flaming hot pink. Oh well. In the grand scheme of things in life. Is it life threatening? No, so best find a silver lining. So the bright side of any color still look pretty. So not exactly what we had in mind. But we'll roll with it. I think for Spring 2018, we will more than likely... be ordering from another flower farmer online. And I hate to say that. But yeah...I think this year will be the final year we order from the place we usually do. Because of the whole... now you need to order 20 at a time thing. And sure they granted us permission to order 8 this year. Who knows what the rules will be for next year. Ykwim. And plus with the color change. Ehhh. But again...we'll make it work this year and will dote and love on our bright pink flowers. Granted yeah...I definitely think we better find another shop next year. No hard feelings or anything. So anyways...last Monday morning, after making sure both kids got to their school and/or train. I went and spent an hour outside on the front porch planting these flowers into their hanging baskets. I also petted one gorgeous little weenie who was going for a walk with his owner/ our neighbor who lives a few houses down. : )

All nicely planted with nutrient rich soil and nicely watered. I also plucked off all the flowers. So that they can grow more flowers and get thicker and bushier. So anyways...these 4 little fellas are now on my porch. 

One of the most popular shows this season in America has been without a doubt. Mama June: From Not to Hot. It featured Honey Boo Boo's mom (June Shannon) on her weight loss journey. And her ex-husband has a new fiance who is pictured in this picture wearing the turquoise shirt. Her name is Jennifer. And she is so mean. The one who should be angry or mean should be June (Honey Boo Boo's mom pictured left) since it was her husband's constant cheating and act of being unfaithful throughout their marriage. And the last person he cheated on June with... was Jennifer. @_@ So you'd think June has a reason to be mad. Yet June's not angry or hateful at all. She just wants to be left alone. And she wants Sugar Bear to see their daughter Alana (Honey Boo Boo) And she wants no conflict with Jennifer. Jennifer on the other hand. Can not say 1 nice thing to June or about June. She called June trash. She said..."well shit floats, so June will be floating"...Dumbest sentence I have heard recently!!! She also called June garbage. Oh and Jennifer, the lady in turquoise called June who is far left, a fat whale! Umm? Can you please look at that pic people!!! The woman in the turquoise shirt is calling the thin woman far left, a big fat whale? Umm? Does she have a problem with her eyes? Has she *not* looked in the mirror to see what SHE looks like?  Honey child...if you are throwing shade about the size or look of another woman... please for the love of gawd... have a good hard look in the mirror first PLEASE. @_@ Jennifer also said she will be the mother to Alana, that June can't be? @_@  I mean she is truly so mouthy. So verbally combative. And June just sits there and takes it, because she wants no fight. She said if I say something it would affect my daughter Alana. So the whole season, it was us audience seeing reality TV. Of June Shannon trying to lose over 200 pounds plus. And she did it. It was not easy for her at all. Sometimes the things that horrible Jennifer would say... would cause June to go in her house and whip out her ice-cream out of her freezer and eat some. She hired a trainer. She paid for her own surgeries. She stopped eating junk. She exercised like a fiend and she lost the weight. Jennifer still said June looked like crap. @_@ Which I thought was such a hateful thing to say to another woman, who truly worked so hard. So the season ended and this woman in yellow (well judge) interviewed them. The interview went horribly bad.

Sugar Bear just went nuts! He started screaming and hollering and carrying on. He stomped off the stage and punched a wall. As he was screaming bad words about June. June's more passive, but her 17 year old daughter is not and she was off stage and she started jumping in for her mama and screaming back. Which is what you see in this pic! And so Sugar Bear then directed his anger out on the 17 year old child, which was totally uncalled for.  He verbally attacked June's 17 year old other daughter. And you can see the mean rude things he said to her on this pic. And well...this was the craziest episode. And I do feel so sorry for Mama June. She seems like one heck of a nice lady. And I wish Sugar Bear and his new wife would respect her a lot more. I truly don't know why Jennifer hates June so much. I mean... Jennifer got the guy. So why the hate? : (

What else have I been watching? I'm still watching American Housewife. Fresh Off the Boat and a new show called Imaginary Mary. Ghost Brothers, I watch every week too. And I'm still watching every single week Little Women L.A.... Little Women Atlanta (my fave) and Little Women Dallas. I am also quite fond of the Investigation Discovery channel which is a forensics and murder mystery type channel.  So basically what have I been doing? I have been deeply spring cleaning my house. Getting used to my new routine of having a newly minted high schooler in the house. : ) And planting flowers in my hanging baskets. Watching good TV every evening. And ohhhh I also ordered 10 Serrano chili plants from a chili farmer in Japan about a month ago. It will be my first time ever growing that variety of chili. : )

Friday, April 21, 2017

Are we moving back to the United States?

A small handful of my family know. And 2 of my in real life friends ( my most closest friends) here in Japan already know. And they have known since Fall 2016. But Noboru, Bran, Noah and I have known since the end of Summer 2016. Keeping things completely quiet has been honestly really hard. But, I think now is a good time to let ya'll know. That there is a 90% chance that we are most definitely moving back to America. Could be even a 95% chance. But, I always prefer lean towards a low-ball conservative number, so I'll stay comfortably at 90%... that yes we will indeed be returning back to the United States permanently. Umm. There is a lot that I cannot tell you. And it's not because I am being secret squirrel about things. But it's just that I can't say. And for that I am sorry. For the past year or two we have been hearing things through the grapevine at my husbands work. And we blew it off, as just talk. And since last summer. Summer 2016. It was no longer just talk. And so as husband and wife we had a serious life changing talk. " seems that moving back to America seems like it's going to be happening. How do you feel about it?" And so we both talked. And we both feel pretty good about it. I also want to point out. It's not Noboru saying or pressuring that...he wants to move. And it's also not me saying or pressuring either. It's job related and that's why and that is all, I can say on that.  It's just...for Noboru...a smarter wiser safer choice because of his job. Since he works for an American company and headquarters and many hubs are there. When will we be moving? In about 3 years. Noboru and I were married and living in the United States when Branden was born. Noboru had a green card. We did things all legally obviously. However when we moved to Japan. And for what it's worth, we never moved to Japan as in forever and ever and we'd die here type length anyways. We always knew because of my husbands job that we could get pulled back to America at *any* time. And we always knew that. Noboru kept his green card. However when you enter the U.S. They do not like it... if you are a green card holder and are living abroad for an extended amount of time. And that's what was happening to Noboru. We have lived in Japan for 14 years now. But by year 9, Noboru was  getting a strong/stern talking to... every time we entered the United States. The immigration guy would tell Noboru..."if you are living in Japan, you should give up your green card" "Because it seems like you don't need it, if you're living in Japan" So every freaking time...whether we'd enter Hawaii on vacation Or on our way to Denver. He'd get... told off basically about his having a green card that he wasn't using. And finally Noboru said...I am driving down to the Tokyo Embassy and giving my green card back! And so he did. And so he has been entering America as a visitor these past 5 years and he's been so happy. However...he's also been green card-less. Lucky that I am obviously an American citizen. And we have been married for ages. And have 2 kids. So, at the beginning of April 2017, we filled out the paperwork for Noboru to get a green card again. So that he will be allowed to live in America again legally and as long as he wants and also be allowed to work. We sent the paperwork off to Detroit. And we awaited an email. And this picture is a blurb from the email they sent me. So yes, the ball for us is already rolling and things are moving forward for this. Basically it says the application is being processed and they appointed our case to the immigration office in Nebraska. I am assuming our case was sent to Nebraska because my home state is Colorado. And those 2 states are right next to each other. They gave us an official case # and stuff. And said to await the letter coming to our home in Japan. 

It arrived last week. USCIS, stands for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. How long will it take for Noboru to be granted a green card. I'm assuming 1 solid year. Could be sooner, could be later. But, I'd say around there. We would like to stay in Japan for 3 more years though.  But yes...more than likely...yes we will be returning and relocating back to America.

Also want to say. I do totally *love* my life here in Japan. I live in a gorgeous American imported home that my husband had built especially for me to feel more comfortable living in Japan. With central heating in the cold winter time and central air in the summer time. The hottest floor heating that feels like we're walking on a pancake griddle all winter long. We have solar panels that make the cost for our central heating zero and we even make money in the Summer and Spring and Fall from our solar panels. We have a beautiful backyard overlooking rice fields for as far as the eye can see. And I have really good solid friends here in Japan, foreigners like myself and Japanese besties too. I seriously have amazing irl friends here. That live near-ish me. I have foreign friends in Narita City (Chiba) and foreign friends in Inzai (Chiba) and Ibaraki. And I love my town. I love my rural Japan life. I love the safety. I love that my son can hop on his bike and I feel that he's safe. I love Noah's elementary school. I love Branden's high school. His high school is the absolute best best best! I love my electric car. I truly have a fantastic life here. We 4 are all very happy here. But...bottom line is...we go where Noboru's job is safest and most secure. Will he still be working for the same company in the states? Of course. But in about 3 years he will be asking for an official unilateral transfer within the company. And as soon as he puts that in writing, he will have a set date that we will need to leave Japan (job-wise) and be at the new, but same job just different location.

Headquarters are in Atlanta. But some of their hubs are.... New York (sorry not happening because neither of us want to live there), Atlanta (not happening either, we just don't want to live there), Los Angeles California, Minneapolis MN, Salt Lake City, Utah, Seattle Washington and Honolulu, Hawaii. We have talked extensively about it with the kids too. And we have it narrowed down to 3 places that we would like to choose from the list.

Noboru keeps telling Noah. "You are probably not going to be going to high school here. And maybe not even finish JHS here. But *if* you go to high school in Japan, you will be going to Branden's high school."

Anyways, thanks for always reading here and getting to know us and watching my kids grow up via this blog. And most really need to keep your eyes here, these next 3 years. Because I think these next 3 years will be exciting and full of change for us. And we will just try to enjoy the heck out of our life here in rural Japan. For however long that we're here. And hey...if we end up staying in Japan longer or permanently then that's fine too. Because like I said, we do love our life here. seems that yes a change will definitely be coming. Noboru wouldn't have plunked down $550 US about 60,000 yen for the fees for the processing of his application. And that's just the beginning of the fees. But yes...if he wasn't serious about it... he wouldn't be paying the fees and going through all this process of getting a green card again. So....we'll just see how things play out. In the meantime I will still be posting about... our regular day to day type life stuff. But at least this way, we're all on the same page now. If you know what I mean. : )

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday...

Since it's April, I pulled these pics from my April 2008 folder. I love that I documented even the most mundane day to day type tasks. Such as mopping my floor once a week. Granted I didn't take pics, every single week while cleaning of course. But yes...sometimes I did. And I'm glad, I did that. That way I can look back and see...yep regular life going on here. Doing the boring stuff... that every other household has to do too. 

Noah was just 3 years old and in his first year of yochien (kindergarten) and Branden was in the first grade and at elementary school in our little town here in rural Japan. And heck...if I could quickly scrub the house down a little each day. And also manage to get dinner prepped and ready before everyone got home. Then, I was a happy mommy. : ) I now see a bright colored cup and so, I know my toddler Noah was home. I bet he was taking himself a little nap on the couch. And this gave me time to get a start on dinner. I see a head of lettuce... 

Yes 3 trash cans. Ones for burnables (regular trash) and one is for glass and cans. And the other is for plastic bottles (like soda bottles for example) I also like that while I cut up my lettuce, I can watch my kids in our backyard. We have a fenced in backyard and we used to have a huge jungle gym/playground for our 2 kids, you can see it in this pic. But we got rid of it last year and gave it to another family with younger kids. Since our kids got older and stopped using it. But yep...when they were younger, I loved my big patio window so I could watch the kids while I cooked. Of course, Noah was sleeping while I chopped this lettuce on this particular day. But other days. I would definitely keep an eye on them while I cooked. : )

Aha, I see a salad starting to take shape.

Karaage (Japanese style chicken nuggets) marinating in a Ziploc. 

Plating up and getting a family of 4, all served up and ready for dinner.

Ice-cream for the kids for dessert because...well...the first grade and kindergarten can be tough. : ) Hahaha. A little serving of ice-cream always helps. : )  Anyway...that's 1 day frozen in time and I'm so glad I took pics from that day and I am happy I can share them with you all today. 

Here is another random evening captured again from 2008. The Hard Rock Cafe used to be at the Narita Mall. But it's been gone from there... for ages. However...when it used to be there, we loved it. And would go there to enjoy a dinner every 2-3 months or so. : ) I ordered a chicken sandwich this day. Pictured here. With a side of fries. 

Noboru ordered a burger. And both the kids had a chicken strips and fries kids combo for each of them. 

After dinner, we took the kids for some ice-cream at Baskin and Robbins. Which is also at the Narita mall.

Hi Noah! Love your Converse by the way! : )
Hi gorgeous, love your Adidas too btw! Anyway...we were about to leave from swimming school when I took this picture. : )