Saturday, May 06, 2017

Golden Week wrap up...

With us in Japan having 5 days off in a row for Golden Week. It was a very nice break for us at our house. If you live in Japan you will know, that going anywhere during Golden Week is super crowded and jammed packed with people. So trying or attempting to go to say, Tokyo Disneyland or an aquarium can lead to hours of a wait in line. Even the regular shopping malls are packed with people. So for our family, we already know to stay close to home for Golden Week. That's why we hit Costco and did our weekly shopping *before* Golden Week hit. And so we definitely sorta stood close to home. What did we do for our Golden Week? Here's a wrap up! We had a family backyard BBQ. And yes that's our old bigger grill in the background. Big trash pick up day is on May 16th so it will be gone on that day. However...being sentimental that we are...we decided to take a part off our old grill off that we could use and attach it to our new grill. That way we will still have a part of our original grill. : ) 

This wire basket was very useful to us when grilling outside and our new grill doesn't have one. We decided it would be sorta cool to reuse it on the new grill and that way... a tiny piece of our original grill will still be with us. And that's sorta cool. : )  Meanwhile...that silver thing under the grill, is a chimney starter. 

Noboru giving the grass some vitamins, he does this every 2 weeks. 

Noboru also has liquid sprays that he sprays on our lawn that specifically kill weeds and it's for lawns and he does that every month and then he sprays vitamins down like I said every 2 weeks for a nice thick green lawn too. Which is what he was doing the day of our BBQ. 

Noboru had Branden learn how to use a chimney charcoal starter. Bran already knows how to light a grill with lighter fluid obviously, but he wanted Bran to learn this way too. Noah was outside too so he listened and watched. In a few years he will teach Noah : )

It's very interesting, it's very fast and it's gentler on the grill/metal itself versus using lighter fluid on it. The boys learn so much stuff from their dad. 

We had beef for the kids first. Rosu/very lean beef for the kids marinated for hours in a delicious yakiniku sauce. And we brought out 2 batches for them. We also had yakiniku sauce for dipping. Branden surprised us all because he asked for A-1. The rest of us were like @_@. For our family we sometimes have Yakiniku style BBQ. And we also have American style BBQ's too. I did tell B, the beef is already marinated are you sure you want the A-1? He was like...yep. So that's what he did. He loved it though. So all in all, okay. : ) 

We also had all white meat chicken breast and grilled mushrooms. Very nicely marinated chicken and then we had more beef afterwards but a thinner cut/slice of beef that Noboru loves. Quiet low key family BBQ's are so nice. 

After the BBQ we had some delicious desserts from the bakery that I bought that morning... in the small city nearest our rural town. We had wanted to buy 8 cream puffs but they only had 3. @_@ So that's okay...we bought what they had and bought a ginormous roll cake. This was a very big roll cake and really good. So all in all... a quiet low key BBQ and some yummo desserts afterwards...awesome!

Another night, I also baked some homemade pizza from scratch. You know...part of living in a true rural town. Is there are no pizza places that deliver to rural parts of Japan like where we live. Sure, we make the trek to Narita City sometimes to get take out Pizza Hut or Dominoes. But for the most part...we just make our own. : ) 

When I was buying the cream puffs and roll cakes the day before, the ladies working there were awesome and so nice and they gave me 2 little containers of their homemade strawberry jam. Which was nice that I had already bought some bread from the bakery because the next morning the kids all enjoyed their buttered toast with homemade strawberry jam. They actually gave us 2 of these containers of it and we still have 1 left in the fridge. So that was a nice surprise. I love the unexpected nice surprises like Japan as a customer. Japanese customer service is truly the best. Where you can sometimes get a free unexpected gift. It's always so nice. Very appreciated too. : )
Another thing I made during Golden Week, was a healthy low calorie chicken breast and plenty of colorful veggies with dry curry powder. I love this curry powder by House. I tried another brand and it was bleh. This one in particular is yummy. 

It was a delicious dinner that we all really enjoyed. We had this with a side of rice. And we had some watermelon for dessert that night. : )

Just because it was Golden Week doesn't mean we didn't do anything around the house. Golden Week also gave us the time to complete some projects around the house too. For Noboru... besides enjoying family BBQ's and going fishing. Because we all know Noboru loves fishing and he went twice during Golden Week, just a few hours in the mornings. : ) But he also wanted to stain the front porch. He did an amazing job! 
I also had things on my mind that I wanted to knock out of the way... during Golden Week too. Such as, scrub every single piece and part inside my fridge and freezer. 

Every drawer and piece was taken out and scrubbed by hand by me with hot soapy sudsy water, then dried and placed back inside the fridge. I also checked dates on all foods and condiments. And anything old was tossed. I am pretty good about date checking weekly anyways, so we didn't have anything in there expired really... except a bag salad that looked sorta wilted and wilty. 

I laid down nice thick paper towels in my lunch meat and cheese bins. And then just placed the food back. From start to finish, it didn't take me over 2 hours. And I had music playing in the kitchen and it went by fast and I was really proud when I was done. It always feels satisfying when you do give it your all and then you finish it 100%. So yeah super satisfying for sures. : )
Golden Week wasn't all work though. It was also.... Eating good food at home. Sure little projects here and there. But it was also. 2 rounds of Sorry! with the kids (an American board game). Lots of good TV. These pics were taken the week before. But we watched Imaginary Mary during Golden Week too. It stars Jenna Elfman. If you have ever seen the movie Drop Dead Fred, with the fabulous Phoebe Cates. This is very similar and for the record I *loved* the movie Drop Dead Fred so much when I was little and I have had my kids watch it twice with me too. So they love that movie too. Imaginary Mary is Jenna Elfman's childhood imaginary friend. She used to have her as a child but when she grew up she left. The character Jenna plays is now an adult and in a serious relationship with a man who has 3 children. 2 teenagers and an elementary aged daughter, so 3 kids. Jenna always ran from relationships before this one. And given the fact she doesn't know how to deal with children, since she has none. That triggered her imaginary friend Mary to come back in her adulthood. This show is so funny. This is Jenna and her boyfriend. He wanted to meet her friends. And she was not ready for it. She said she didn't want her 2 worlds to collide meaning her friends meeting her man. 

Mary is not a trouble maker like Fred was. If you remember Drop Dead Fred was so funny because he cut Snot Face's (Phoebe Cate's) mom's hair... he did all sorts of bad stuff around her house. And she always said Fred did it. And nobody believed her. So while Fred was destructive. Mary is not destructive at all. She doesn't destroy anything. And she genuinely wants to help. 

Every week, including Golden Week, Branden, Noah and I. And if Noboru is home he enjoys it too. But we all watch Imaginary Mary at our house. : ) 

What also happened during Golden Week. I baked the fam-bam a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. 

This is a major one. I had it in my head that I wanted to rearrange the furniture in Branden's bedroom and also Noah's bedroom too. Moving around big heavy furniture like that... is too much for me all by myself. But if we did this over Golden Week I'd have Branden who is as strong as an ox. And Noboru was also home a day or two during Golden Week. He works for an American company so he didn't get 5 days off like he would.. if he worked for a Japanese company, but he's happy he works for an American company. The good and easy thing about Bran's room is that...he ended JHS in March and started high school at the beginning of the Japanese school year, which is April. So we threw all his old text books and notebooks etc away in March. And we gutted most of the things he didn't need in March. So in May for Golden Week we had very little tossing and purging and decluttering to do in Bran's room. And basically all we had to do was rearrange furniture. So Branden's room was superly easy and we (Noboru, Bran and myself went in there) slid his school desk, bed and night stand around and toy box which doesn't hold toys but more so teenage stuff like games for his Wii and stuff. Branden did all the vacuuming in his room and vacuuming of his baseboards. Ceiling fan. I vacuumed his blinds. Growing up my mom always switched my bedroom furniture around and our living room furniture around every 6 months. She said it was good for us. Something new. And I just always enjoyed when she did that. And so, I do the same too. Every 6 months. I will switch the furniture around. Branden's furniture will stay this new way until Fall. And then we can switch it again. But for right now...he is loving it. I also flipped his mattress too. I always heard you need to flip your mattress every 6 months, so I always do that too. Branden's room only took about 2 hours. And we enjoyed the remainder of that day. Just relaxing. I think I baked a cake after this. The yellow with chocolate frosting one.
Another day. We did Noah's room. Those are Noah's feet and that's Noah's bed. Noah's room took 3 days. I guess we could have done it in 1 day. But...we want to enjoyed each day of our Golden Week. So I purposely broke it up in 3 days... so we wouldn't feel overwhelmed. The first day, I was lucky enough to have Noboru here. So, we flipped Noah's furniture in his bedroom. We moved his bed. His desk, his shelf, his toy box and night stand. And because it is Noah's room. He was in charge of vacuuming behind his bed, his baseboards. Because he's 11 and can't reach his ceiling fan, I vacuumed Noah's ceiling fan and vacuumed his blinds. But Noah worked *very* hard and I like that... because it teaches him to have respect for his room and his belongings. So he vacuumed like crazy. And he did a great job. It took 2 full hours our first day to really do a 100% proper job of vacuuming the carpet and baseboards, ceiling fan and blinds. Behind his headboard was super dusty and he vacuumed the crap out of it, it was as clean as, brand new by the time we finished. And we switched all the furniture around and we called it a day. It was a very full 2 hours. But Noah was so happy. The 2nd day, we spent 3 full hours. Going through Noah's closets. Everything too small or outgrown got thrown in a pile. And we went through his drawers and his closet and checked every shirt on a hangar. And anything too small was put in the pile. For the record as you know... we give all Noah's gently used outgrown clothes to friends of ours. Coworkers of Noboru's. And they say his wife *loves* the clothes we give her so much for her kiddo... that after her son outgrows them they go to 2 other families too. Which is unbelievable but...yeah they go to another owner and that's awesome. : ) I told Noah. Anything that doesn't fit has got to go kiddo! And we were ruthless. We legit... went through each shirt, each pair of shorts, each pair of pants.  Noah tried on a billion things that day. Things that fit went right back into his closet. and things that were too small went into the massive pile. 3 long hours later. We were done. And we then went downstairs. Noah relaxed. I meanwhile made dinner. The 3rd and final day we went through Noah's school desk and toy box and that only took 2 hours. But Noah's room is amazing now. Branden even said..."Noah's room looks so chill these days" : )
What else. Gap Japan had a sale and a shirt that we ordered for Noah. It got here during Golden Week.

It's orange and it has surf boards on it. 

We got this for 50% off. 
Meanwhile at Gap USA. We ordered a swimsuit for Noah. This shark rash guard.

And shark swim trunks. 

And you can see the 40 on the rash guard. Both pieces have sun protection. Thanks dad for forwarding this swimsuit for Noah. He forwarded Bran's pineapple swim trunks already a few weeks earlier. We're lucky that my dad forwards things for us. So lucky.  Best dad ever! Best grandpa ever! : )
Also I made Rice Krispie treats during Golden Week, because that night I knew we wanted a treat for watching the Blacklist. 

So glad the regular Blacklist is back on and not that weird spin off. 

And yep if you remember James Spader's character tried to kill her last season. We all know she survived. And now...she's trying to get her revenge on Raymond Reddington. 

I won't say what happened. I will just say the episode was amazing and I can't wait for next week. We also watched Law and Order SVU, the new one. And Bran said... Liv (Olivia Benson) is so cool! And I was like..."I know right?" : ) 
Bran has 2 pair of Beats (Dr Dre) headphones. And he's been wanting a pair of Beats ear buds. The ear buds are better and smaller for Branden to use when taking the train to school Monday-Friday. They are smaller to toss into his school bag. He still uses his headphones at home, but they're a bit too large and take up too much space in his school bag. He had the money and he wanted to purchase them. So, I agreed. So placed the order for Bran. 

Now Bran will have something portable to use to and from school. And they came with this really cool case. You know "peas in a pod." They look like a black pea pod. The case is super cool.

We 4 went to the movies last night. We went to go and see The Ghost in the Shell. I picked up four 500ml drinks for everyone at the store in town and also picked up Branden and Noah a Snickers bar each for the movie. Snickers bars in Japan say Snickers in English. However lately... Snickers have been putting cute and funny sayings on them instead. I'm not sure how long this will last. So, I picked up these for the boys yesterday afternoon for the movie last night. I also picked up some honey Pretz for Noboru since it's his fave and a small pack of chocolate covered raisins for myself. Just movies snacks. Noboru had purchased our movie tickets online. And the movie was set to start at 7:15pm last night. We watched the one in English. 
We did however buy 1 large buttered popcorn and 1 large caramel popcorn. What did we think of the movie? I have seen the anime of it before. Noboru had not and neither of the boys have ever seen it or knew anything about it. We 4 all loved it. It was a really good movie. Scarlett Johansson did an amazing job! Takeshi Kitano was so awesome in this too. As was Juliette Binoche. You know our family *loves* Terminator movies. Movies with cyborgs. Robots. Futuristic movies with cyborgs of *any* kind. So...we loved this. It also had a wonderful story. All of the actors were amazing. The movie was originally anime and 100% in Japanese. And the way America and Hollywood blended....the American characters. And the one main Japanese character. Takeshi Kitano spoke 100% Japanese and it was cool that he did. Major's mom spoke English even though she was Japanese. And the American actors spoke in English. Yet they all understood each other. And why was Major/Motoko now white/caucasian when she was originally Japanese? Because her brain went into a cyborg. Which was Scarlett. So Hollywood answered all the questions. Hollywood had huge respect for Japan when making this movie. You could clearly see the respect they had for Japan in this. The movie takes place in Japan, but futuristic Japan. And futuristic Japan was so cool. And the Japanese were the good guys. And so was Takeshi Kitano. And the bad guy was not Japanese. And so lots of care...consideration and respect of the Japanese went into this movie. It's funny. In Japan. Japanese people do not mind or care Scarlett Johansson played Major. But ever so lightly there was a buzz that apparently it bothered some anime fans who were American. Online it said some people in America were upset and was "white washing." Because they didn't use a Japanese actress.  But if you actually see the movie. It was actually made super respectfully. It was actually made beautifully. And I also liked Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation which was also a movie that took place in Japan too. My favorite movie of hers though is the Nanny Diaries. I also like that she's 5'3" because so am I. : ) But yep, Ghost in the Shell... it's actually a darn good movie. So Ghost in the Shell got a huge thumbs up from our entire family. : ) And it was a wonderful way to sort of start wrapping up our Golden Week. It was a fun night last night for us. Spending our Saturday night at the movies. : ) today is the real official last day before the boys start back at school tomorrow. How are we spending our Sunday? Well, I'm making spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread for supper tonight. The kids are taking cheeseburgers...those cute mini ones where I use the Costco dinner rolls as the buns for their lunch tomorrow. So they'll be taking that for Monday's lunch tomorrow along with sides and fruit. Anyway...if you're in America or elsewhere I hope you had a nice weekend. If you're in Japan, I hope you had a nice Golden Week. : )