Thursday, February 22, 2018

Clearing out our shed. Getting rid of so much. Hard, but necessary because of the move...

Two weeks ago on a bitterly cold, but semi sunny day. Noboru and I went out in the backyard and decluttered the shed. Absolutely 100% necessary. But also honestly....a little bit emotionally hard for me. I get attached to things. Granted I go through the shed once a year and I am by *no* means a hoarder. I have absolutely no qualms at all... to purge stuff....getting rid of unneeded no longer useful to us... stuff that we'll never use again, is not a problem for me. But yeah...I'm also human. And on certain things...I do have a hard time getting rid of a certain item or two. The inflatable pools. I have 1 that my kids used as toddlers. My kids haven't been toddlers in forever...but I held on to that. And then I bought a much bigger deeper pool. This one pictured. And was nice to fill it with iced cold water on a hot summers day and even though my kids didn't swim in it any longer...they would sit in it and cool off...I would do that too. So...I always kept it. But again...with our move in April. It was sadly time to get rid of both pools. And no selling a used pool.....would be more trouble than it would be worth. The shipping would cost the buyer of my said pool...the shipping would be too much. They'd be better off buying a pool from their local DIY. Pools are heavy. And since I asked everyone I knew close by...if they needed they didn't. So we tossed it.  
A big bag of water guns. the mama, I recall where I bought each and every one of these water guns. Either Trail or Cainz. : ) How water guns and our big backyard was always something my 2 boys would love to play with each and every summer. And frankly speaking, who would want to buy a used water gun....when you could buy one at your local DIY store for less than 500 yen. So again...something we just tossed. 

Dryer rack/holder that attached to my old washing machine. I am using my same dryer...but since my washing machine changed last August or September I needed a new dryer holder. So this old dryer holder... had to be tossed. I felt no sadness about seeing a rack that held my dryer go. This stroller on the other hand. My lovely beloved stroller. Was honestly *the hardest thing* I had to part with. This was the item that nearly killed me. Emotionally. For starters, I did have one of those gigantic stroller in America when Branden was born, the kind that hold their baby seats. But in Japan that was so outrageously was ridiculous to use in Japan. When I went back to Denver for 6 weeks when B was just a toddler, 2 and a half or so in age. I went to Babies R US and found this one. It was called the Graco Citi Lite. No, not City Light, lol. It was black and royal beautiful blue. Not that rank off color Thomas the Tank Engine is, sorry Thomas. But a vibrant bright blue. This stroller was so slim and light, it opened with just 1 hand. Japanese strollers I looked into... but their baskets were so super teeny tiny and harder than hell to open. This Graco Citi Lite was the best. As slim as a Japanese stroller, bigger wheels/tires and a way bigger basket. You could open it with 1 hand. Skinny enough for Japanese supermarket aisles. Big basket to hold a bunch of stuff and it was like $80 US. I used this on Branden until he didn't need a stroller anymore. I also used this on Noah his entire baby life and toddler life. When I think how many times this stroller went to Tokyo Disney Sea. Tokyo Disneyland. How many times this stroller flew to Guam. Or strolled my kids around Hakone or USJ. How many times this stroller flew to Saipan (twice) how this stroller flew to Seou,l South Korea once and carried a 1 year old Noah all around when the 4 of us were on vacation. How this stroller went to New York. Knotts Berry Farm in California. San Francisco. Minnesota about 25 times. PDX...Sea-tac. This stroller has carried my most precious things in the world to me. It carried my baby's. My sons who I love and adore. When I think about how many times I took the stroller cloth off and washed it. How I had those snazzy bag holder things on the back of my stroller (just a few bucks)...thank you Japan for selling those amazing bag holders for strollers (are those even available in the US?). How I attached little toys on the front of said stroller so my kids would have something to play with, while they were out and about. So for all in intensive purposes.... this stroller carried my most precious cargo. My children. And yep..while I could give my kids out-grown clothes away to friends. I could *never* give their stroller away. I respected this stroller too much. Just so much history, so many memories associated with this stroller. Maybe you're reading this and you'll "get this" and maybe you won't. Either way is okay. But...yes for all these long years...the one thing I could never get rid of...was my stroller. Out of respect or maybe emotional attachment or both. Until 2 weeks ago. For me...the hardest thing to throw? Hands down my stroller. It wasn't the cost or value. It was the emotional attachment. That stroller was *always* with me. Just always. How could I throw it away? Until then...I never could. 

No more undokais/sports days. So no more need for a table and chair combo. Again...didn't feel sad about this. 

Good bye to all our outside Christmas lights. The Christmas lights that lit up outside our house every single Christmas season. How cars would pass our house....because this is the inaka and not many houses are lit up in our town. And so yeah...people/families would drive past and see the warm happy house... all nicely lit up American style. And these were a pinch sad for me... to see us throw these away. But...I did remind myself that....after Noboru moves to the U.S. We will get another house and decorate again. So..the lights were about a 2 out of 10 for me on the sad scale. The swimming pools were about a 3 out of 10. The stroller was about a 20 out of 10, for me. Anyways...I know these lights will not be the last. So...with that in mind...I could let the lights go. However...I know...that stroller would be the last for me. The last stroller as a mama...I would ever own. And so...the stroller for me was freaking beyond hard. Two bikes also went. Again...auctions online...we saw bikes for sale for 500 yen and even then ...people were not buying them! Plus shipping...would not be worth for a buyer or for us to sell. In America we have many Good Will or Salvation Army type places. We have garage sales too. But that really isn't the type of country I'm in. So...and I can't just stay in Japan... until I sell a bike for 500 yen either...that's not logical either. At some point you gotta cut it as a loss... and move on. You can't move forward, if you're stuck in the damn past. 

Trash day. All our stuff carted away to the trash spot. I dropped off Branden at 6:20am and I saw our beloved items and it sorta hurt. Logically I know it *must* be done. I came home. Made sure Noah got his packed lunch and homework and whatnot. Put Noah in the car... drove past our stuff yet again. I looked at the stuff. And on the way coming home, I stopped for about 30 seconds and snapped this picture. Just for my own memories sake. 1% of me wanted to drag my stroller back home and into the shed. But then... I had to snap myself out of it. But by the same token.... You have a lifetime of memories staring you in the face. You remember every squeal and splash that your child splashed in that pool. You remember how your child zoomed off on that bike and the smile on their face. Or how they chased each other and shot each other with their water guns. How many undokai obentos my family enjoyed on that table. Was it a little hard to say good bye to our stuff that day? Of course...I'm not a robot. I'm a living and breathing human being with feelings. It hurt... to say good bye to the stuff.

But I know...3 years from now. We're going to be *so* completely settled in our lives in America. And I'm going to come back to my blog and read how sad that I was... to say good bye to this stuff. And I'm going to laugh at myself for it. So maybe...for today. This post is for me. : ) And for you too. Like I will get to see. The easy parts of moving away and letting go and the hard parts too. That day...was a hard part of letting go. Onwards and upwards. : ) Thanks for taking this journey with me, you guys. : ) 

Anyways...any new news? It's snowing here today. But it's the kind that melts when it hits the ground. But it's gray skies and bitterly cold outside right now. My hair appointment is tomorrow as you know. Starts at 9 or 9:30am. Should be there all day long. : ( It'll be worth it in the end. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Valentine's Day 2018...

I hope you all had a really nice Valentine's Day this year. Ours was low key as always. But really nice. In January as soon as Valentine's chocolates were for sale in my nearest small city... nearest the town I live in. I bought my 3 guys their Valentine's stuff right away. I bought these for Branden and Noah this year. The Tirol golden variety box, I bought 2 years or so ago, my kids love them and so when I saw the same big golden box, I bought both Bran and Noah each a box of those. Those were only like 348 yen a box each. And the Mary's chocolates this particular type was chocolate nut crunch. They were 3 packs for 900 yen, so I bought Noboru a bag and one for each of the boys too. I didn't take a pic of Noboru's chocolates... but they were exactly the same Mary's chocolates as the kids received. I also took Noboru to Starbucks on Valentine's Day and we each got a coffee and a slice of cake too. My small little treat for *my* Valentine. Noah was with us too... because his class was closed due to the flu. So it was a Valentine date with the 3 of us, instead of just the 2 of us. LOL.  It was just couldn't be helped because the class was closed. And so we were all fine. And besides after this many years of marriage... we're practical yes and also parents... so we were fine with a Valentine's date of 3. : ) And he took me/us for lunch before our Starbucks run. So we each in a small way celebrated each other that day. I'm glad that happened to be his day off. : )  

The woman I bought the chocolates from at the mall... gave me gift bags and decorative stickers and stuff and Valentine's morning, I wrapped every one's small gift. Yes in our family we celebrate Valentine's Day... the American way meaning we give gifts to each other on 1 day.... versus the Japanese way of the boys giving gifts on White Day instead. In our house we don't celebrate White Day, we get it out in 1 fell swoop. : )

What did I get for Valentine's Day? Noboru always asks me what I want for Valentine's Day? I honestly don't think you should shell out boo-koo bucks for Valentine's Day. I prefer my husband and I keep it under 1000 yen for a gift for V-day. And sure if we want to go get some lunch or coffee that we could both enjoy together? Awesome. But nope you will see no... big fancy expensive gifts here for V-day. After Noboru always asks me what I want. I always just say...the same chocolates as last year is fine. I love those. They're practical. They're what...700 yen. No need to do more, in my opinion. So, I received my fave Ferrero Rocher. I also received gifts from both my sons this year too. First time ever for me. As it wasn't suggested by a teacher. It was done 100% completely on their own with no prompting for any outside force. 2 weeks beforehand, my boys asked me...."mom what would you like for Valentine's Day from us? I was super surprised. Pleasantly so. : ) I told my kids. "Seriously do not spend more than 300 yen on me, okay? I don't need it. But thank you though." That's $3 US for you Americans. : ) Noah bought me this box of chocolate covered almonds. I love these. They were affordable, so I didn't feel guilty about my kids spending money on me. And they felt so good about giving me a gift too. Branden asked me too. He said exactly this..."mom my school is near a Kiehl's and a Body Shop" What do you want for Valentine's Day? I told me one of those delicious clear teas. And that's enough for me, kiddo. I too told him...please no more than 300 yen. 

Branden came home Valentine's Day after school with this in hand for me. A fancy bar of chocolate and a clear tea. I felt so happy this Valentin'e Day. What 3 sweethearts, I have. I'm truly so lucky!!! 
Branden has a legit girlfriend. Almost 1 year they've been dating. A blonde American cutie by the way. But anyways...that did not deter Bran from getting a ton of Valentine's Day goodies. Hafu girls/classmates. Or other 100% foreign classmates. Or Japanese. But he has quite a bunch of girls that like him... like him...meaning that wish to be his girlfriend. 6 gifts from his classmates. Which means...I will be baking for White Day. Again this year. @_@ Holy goodness. 

Also the 11th grade grade peeps got back from their trip to California. And 2 girls gave Branden some American treats. That was more so... friendship candy/tomo choco.
Branden received homemade brownies, and so many homemade variety of cookies. But these I thought were so pretty...the butterfly cookies. Makes me want to find a butterfly cookie cutter now. Hahaha. Bran gave me a small taste of these and they were delicious. He also gave Noah a bite too. : )

I'm wondering what kind of Valentine's Day, my kids and I will have next year in the states. Hmm. It'll be interesting. : ) And new and exciting. : ) 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Bits and pieces...

This morning around 9am, I got a phone call from Noah's teacher directly and also an automated email from the school sent to all grades, but it was just regarding the 6th graders, there's only 1 class of 6th graders. Noah's class has been closed from this morning... until further notice because 10 kids are out sick... half with the flu and half of the 10 with the norovirus. @_@ Double yikes!!! Noah is as healthy as a horse. Well skinny thin teeny tiny horse would better describe Noah. Perhaps as healthy as a pony? Ha! So Noah is fine. Last Friday... the one and only 5th grade class closed. This Tuesday, the 4th grade class closed in the morning and an email later in the afternoon said the 2nd grade class was closing as well. As of yesterday only 8 kids in Noah's class were down for the count/meaning sick. And today 2 more called in with either the flu or the norovirus. And since 10 were now sick, they decided it was best for the 6th graders to be sent home in case more kids were infected. So the healthy were sent home. The sick are already home. And that's that. Who is still standing grade-wise at our local elementary school? The 1 and only class of 1st graders and the 1 and only class of 3rd graders are still standing. And school is still running, but now... only for the 1st grade and the 3rd grade. All other grades and classes are closed. Noah has no school today or tomorrow that has already been decided. And not sure about Friday. I imagine Friday will be closed too. They usually will close a class for a 5 day school week...type week. So that's that. They did give the kids a boat load of homework. Tons of math and Japanese. Noah had page 13-18 in his math workbook (like 50 questions each page) and 4 kanji pages. I told Noah to pick a subject? He loves math, so said math. And I said work until 12 noon. And so he just completed page 13 all the way to finishing page 17. Tomorrow all he has to do is 1 page of math and 4 short pages of kanji. Noah's now resting on the couch. Watching TV. I'm not a total slave driver. I do want him to enjoy some relax time too. And because he worked fast. He now has the rest of the day to just chill, he's been chilling since 12 noon. So school for today and tomorrow. And quite possibly Friday too. As for Bran. He's healthy and fine. But 8 of his classmates are also out with the flu. @_@ So...not sure if Branden's class will remain open or what. Hmmm. Oh this pic I snapped today. The email said to just pick up your child. Noah told his sensei. "I hope my mom reads the school email" Of course I would, but he's a worry wart afterall. : ) Being rural Japan and everyone knowing everybody else. The sensei asked Noah..."would you like me to call your mom, just in case?" Noah said, "oh yes please." I had a funny feeling it was Noah's school. Knowing yesterday how 8 were already out sick. I answered right away and he said,  "hi can you come down at the front of the school. All kids will be waiting for their parents to pick them up." I said, absolutely and I'm on my way! Not sure how I managed to drive to the school first. I quickly got there. I looked like complete crap, I might add. To be fair today is big house cleaning day for me. I just swooshed toilets with bleach before the call. I didn't comb my hair. Sweatpants and a sweatshirt. I was planning to jump in the shower as soon as I finished cleaning my house. So yep...totally taken off guard? Yes. Completely caught by surprise? Yep. I did wash my face this morning. And I did brush my teeth obviously. So it wasn't completely a disaster. But gee whiz. I waited for Noah to hop in my car. Always...the second he sees me... he gets this great big smile on his face and I get one too. As he jumped in my back seat. He said..."you're always the first mom to get here" I said...really? I did not know that. Not intentional at all. Anyways... 
Going on husband and wife dates. We have always gone on one every single week as you all know. One day our kids will be grown up and gone. And it'll be just us. We have never lost...the love of us being a couple. He's still my very best friend in the entire universe. And man...can we talk for days!!! This day...we had ramen. 

I baked a cinnamon crumb cake.

January 31st? Is when I took this pic. Pasta sauce. Tortillas. 2 hunks of cheese and a rotisserie chicken that I turned into taquitos. And Noboru went to a different check out lane and bought me my favorite chocolates for Valentine's Day. They have been in the pantry ever since.

Underwear for B.

5 pair. 2 pair reminded me kinda sorta of a bandana type design and the others are just stripey. I liked the lavender stripe with navy pair most. It's easier for me to buy Bran underwear in the weekday in the daytime. Versus us all get in the car on a weekend and let him pick his own. That would be a waste of a restful weekend. And since I am in the city Inzai shopping for food. I can zip to Uniqlo. I zipped in the store picked the underwear and was back in my car in about 10 minutes. 

Aha, making use of that rotisserie chicken. Taquito night with sour cream lettuce and cheese. And a side of rice and beans. All homemade of course. 

Every time I see something new when I am out and about shopping, I will buy it for my kids. Within reason of course. Like a Peach Coke. Or these Mentos. Choco caramel Mentos. The kids loved these. 

My breakfasts and lunches really don't change at all. For breakfast I will eat the same exact thing. Of course unless the kids are here or it's a weekend. But for breakfast Monday through Friday I will typically have yogurt, 1 banana and 1 slice of toast. For lunch I will have either a sandwich (egg salad, ham, grilled cheese, ykwim) and maybe some celery sticks with peanut butter as my side. Or I'll have a salad. I love to add half a container of the crunky chicken from Mini Stop. My husband will usually have the other half of the container of the crunky chicken. It's a filling salad and I won't eat until dinner.  

I baked my family peanut butter cookies.

Yum. My kids loves homemade peanut butter cookies.

Branden and Noah and I played, Sorry! Sorry, as you can see it always comes with an exclamation mark. Anyway, we played 2 rounds of this. I lost both times...OMG! Hahaha. : )

It was a good hour spent with my kiddos on a Saturday. 
Friday night, ice cream run! I love the seasonal flavors of ice cream they sell at Mini Stop. Right now they're apple soft serve ice cream. Or a cup/sundae pie. I had planned to take the kids to get an ice cream after supper and dishes clean up. And so after everything was done. I told the kids, hop in mom's car and let's go and get that delicious looking apple pie sundae thing. : ) 

Noboru was at work so he couldn't have one unfortunately. However we loved these! The flavor was delicious. Like a cinnamon apple pie filling on top and some cookie that reminded us of pie crust. This was pretty good. I just...always want the kids to enjoy the little simple things like this. Like a little seasonal ice cream. Or you know what I mean. I want us to have fun though. 

Another weekly lunch date with my husband. We went and had curry at Coco Ichiban Curry House.

And last week we went to Komeda Coffee. If you buy a coffee you get a free half slice of toast with egg salad on the side. Their coffee is delicious and their hot butter toast was insanely good. I think our total was 900 yen or so for both of our coffees. Quite pricey. And we weren't full at all. We enjoyed our time there... but decided next time we'll go and have a regular lunch. 

This is a pretty big bag of cookies.

These cookies half dipped in chocolate. These are a household favorite of course. My kids absolutely love these. This bag was so cheap last week at Costco. I bought it for the family. 

Rice also at Costco. Sorry I forgot to take a cart pic. Carts pics are so much easier than taking a pic one by one. 

Also bought the family a variety pack of chips at Costco too. Again sorry no cart 1 fell swoop. This 1 by 1 each item way... drives me nuts. Sorry about that.

I bought a rotisserie chicken last week too. But this time we just had simple sandwiches. And potato salad on the side.

From Fukushima! I needed some flat lettuce (sanchu) last weekend because we were having a backyard BBQ. First BBQ for 2018. 

The farmers in Fukushima could really use our help and support. It's important to note that the banned areas, are not selling vegetables obviously so, please remember that. There are so many areas and parts of Fukushima that didn't get affected. That was largely farming areas. However now... not many will buy the safe veggies from the unaffected areas. These farmers are just trying to make a living...yet folks aren't buying their produce from them, because they came from Fukushima (the safe areas).  Which is so sad and so unfair. These poor farmers, they just can't catch a break you guys...and I think that sucks. So...because I know...obviously these veggies are not coming from the banned areas. These are coming from safe areas. I'm buying veggies from Fukushima every chance I get. I know just 1 family like mine... may not make a change or a difference. But I'm trying to help. Sincerely, ganbatte Fukushima!!! Be strong, and know my family is cheering for you! : )

I really wanted yakiniku but with chicken breast and veggies wrapped in sanchu (flat lettuce) Bran wanted steaks and the 2 N's....meaning Noboru and Noah wanted pork ribs. : )

We all ate different things at the BBQ. But it was a nice way to spend last Saturday. How was the weather during the BBQ? It was super cold. Brrr.

Anything new to add? I have a hair appointment next week. Next Friday February 23rd. I'm going to be there so long. My butt will be as flat as a pancake by the time I leave. @_@ I need the works.  This means my hair looks like crap, right now. Next week...I'm getting a hair cut, Japanese thermal hair straightening thing and a hair color. I have been going to this 1 amazing lady since Noah was in yochien. Same salon. But she went on maternity leave last year and I noticed when I was booking this appointment that her profile pic is gone on their website. So I assume she's not a hair stylist there anymore? OMG! How sad. Because she was amazing. I dug her personality so much, she made me feel so relaxed. And I felt so pampered and like I had a mini vacation every time I left the salon. But now...I guess I am stuck with the guy who has been filling in for her for the past year. He's more experienced than my fave lady...granted. She was a hair stylist and he's a master hair stylist. Does that matter? Not to me. But... Just food for thought. He's great...don't get me wrong. But he's not her. Does that make sense?  Anyways...I better go for now. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Yes, we are moving back to the United States this coming April...

I lightly mentioned on my blog last March or April 2017 that we were *very* seriously thinking about moving back to the US.

Why do we want to move back to the states? In a nutshell, it’s simply just time. Branden is in the 10th grade right now. Which means in 2 short years, he will graduate high school and would be going off to university. If you do know us in real life. Then you will know, we have *always* said our kids will both be going to college/university in the U.S. And our kids have always wanted to go to university in the states too. We *never* wanted them to go to college in Japan. We always imagined our kids as the distant future... living in the US. Getting married in the US, raising family’s in the US. And we (Noboru and I would meanwhile be stuck in Japan) If you know how important family is to us. Then you will know the closer we got especially after Bran started high school here. We started thinking that time is growing closer. Our first thought was, we can send Branden to go to university in Guam. However, the career he wants. It’s best for him to be in the US mainland. Would we just see Branden once a year, if he were in the US mainland alone? Sure I could fly over there for free with our flight benefits. But with Noah in school here... time and school holidays matching up would be an issue. So we had a lot to think about. Many long discussions, important ones. Many extremely serious long talks. We thought why don’t...I move to the states with both kids. And Noboru remain in Japan working. But would that be... for all of eternity? How unbelievably sad for a family who... is as close as we are. However...we did have 3 years still to decide. And so we felt we had a few years to think about a plan more. But the more we thought about it...we really had not much time to decide which way we were to decide such a permanent thing. Meaning would we remain in Japan forever or make the move now, before it’s too late.

JHS uniforms cost about $1,200.00 US dollars. Depending on which type of uniform your JHS has. Some can be as cheap as $900.00 bucks. But our particular JHS uniform for our town... cost us about $1,200.00 US dollars. It was insanely expensive and yes the hope is that your child will use that uniform for all 3 years of JHS in Japan. So considering Noah is still an elementary school aged kiddo. He’s in his final year, final last month or so of elementary life right now. So considering the insane cost of JHS uniforms. And no...Noah’s way thinner and shorter than Branden was at the same age and so nope... they can NOT use the same uniform. Anyways...considering the cost of the uniform. We sort of decided. If we would make a move back to the United States of would have to be *before* Noah started we wouldn’t have to plunk down that heavy sum for a uniform that he wouldn’t get 3 years usage out of. Or we would stay in Japan for the  next 3 years we could get the full usage out of the JHS uniform.  Also considering Branden would be ready for university in 2 years. That would mean no matter where Branden would go to university...I would be glued to Japan for 1 final year... because of Noah’s final year of JHS. And so that 1 odd misc. overlapping year....was a problem for us too. A huge one. Again was just something we quietly talked about in our household. Which is the right route to take. What is the way we should go. And I firmly believe....only YOU and your loved ones...know the path *you* should be on.

And then things started to change at my husband's place of work. And it started to become extremely obvious to us... that it would be best and smartest for Noboru to transfer back to the US region, same company. I can say no more on that subject. But let’s just say....moving now became best for us all. Our entire family. So...after all was said and done. We decided it is best for all 4 of us. To move to the US mainland. And start a new life together. It’s best for Noboru and his career (thank god, Noboru has an American high school diploma, American university degrees, yes more than one, all of his many certifcates are issued from the FAA, because that means moving back to America for us, was *always* an option we had and thank goodness my husband fluently speaks English and has a career for an American company too, so our option of life in the US was always open for us). It’s totally best for Branden to have his parents there and brother.... when he’s in his final 2 years of high school and while he starts university, he can live at home because it’ll be cheaper, but he’ll have his own car, and get to go whenever he pleases when he’s university aged of course. It’s also completely best for Noah to have his family all intact and happily together. And it’s best for me to move back to my home country too. Remember when we originally moved to Japan... it was for a short 5 year contract. Granted we stayed for 15 long amazing years. And we had an unbelievably wonderful life in Japan. Built the home that we love very much and needed and we felt such comfort living in all these years. I have also had such an amazing good group of high quality real life friends in Japan too, meaning they cared deeply for my  family and I, we shared each others lives, when life got frustrating it was peace of mind to say...let’s go to lunch...I could really use it. Or even in the good say...hey let’s go to lunch and chat for hours...and knowing they’d always be game for that.  And knowing they’d always be there and me for them too. But while I will miss my friends in Japan immensely.... I am beyond excited to say that I am going to love every minute of being able to move back to my home country for good.

Branden, Noah and I will be leaving Japan and moving to the US in April 2018. Noboru will be moving the second he gets his green card. I have already filed our petition for his USA immigrant visa (green card application) last April 2017. There are 3 steps. Step 1 is always the longest and hardest hurdle. Then step 2 and then step 3. We have completed and passed step 1. We got word the last week of January 2018. And are now onto step 2. Step 1 took about 10 full months to complete. And so when will Noboru join us in America? It could be as quickly as 6 months or as long as 1 year. As soon as he gets his green card he’s leaving to the US. But he *will* get approved and he *will* be moving to the U.S. for good. Permanently. We will rent a house at first the kids and I... but yes we will buy ourselves a new house or super nice 2 story type townhome with a fireplace and a garage for our know what I’s going to be so super nice, central heating and air of course, just like we have here, but we’ll wait until Noboru gets there for that.  But yes...for the small handful of you that already knew this and thank you for keeping quiet about this, until I was ready to let the rest of you all know. But we’re just so happy to be able to start this new adventure. Of relocating back to America. And it’s just going to be really lovely. Just  to have a totally cool new place for us all to call home in the US. What a dream... that has now turned to our new reality. Can we stay in Japan, if we want to? Short answer. Yes. But quite frankly... we don’t want to anymore. It’s the age of our kids. It’s time. It’s the best most perfect time...we are still young start anew. And you know how hard we work. Look at the home we created in Japan. Can’t you just imagine the type of place we’ll eventually end up with in the states? It’s going to be even better, than our home in Japan. I know us....and I know what we’re capable of.

I’m relieved and thankful that Noah doesn’t have to go to Japanese JHS. Branden went to the 1 and only local JHS in our tiny town. And he did wonderfully. However yes it is soul crushing. Yes you will be ranked. You will be told you are the 1st place in English or 5th place in math. Branden was and is a good student so he did amazingly good. But yes...being told continually all 3 years how you rank compared to your classmates. It’s hard mentally on kids. Anyone who says likewise is full of crap. Noah gets excellent grades. And I am sure he would ride high in a Japanese JHS too. But I’m just glad that he doesn’t have to endure that. I found Japanese yochien amazing. Japanese elementary school was *so* fun. I find Japanese high school the best...the absolute best. So fun! But yes...I have had a son and he did indeed go to all 3 years of Japanese JHS and I felt it was horrible. He studied all the time. Branden never complained. He handled it like a boss. Granted my son passed with flying colors. Thank you Kumon for that. But yep...*so* glad Noah will *never* have to attend 1 single day of a Japanese JHS.

Branden will go to an American high school for 2 years. And get his high school diploma from an American high school and then move onto an American university. Noah meanwhile will have done only half of his education in Japan. Grades 1-6. And he will do the other half...grades 7-12th grade in the United States. So Noah’s American education will be *quite* extensive. Plus Noah will also attend university in the US. 

Sorry not intending to make this longer than a book... but since it's pretty major news. It's only obvious there's a lot to say. I have been wanting to tell you all since August, but I kept super quiet about our news. Now I am relieved that I have finally said it out loud on here. If ever there was a time to keep reading this’s now. You will get to see us prepare to move. Pack up. Move. Enroll the kids in school in the Fall. Yes, I have spoken to the school district in America already about Bran and Noah already and we agreed it’s best for them to start in the Fall, though they will be tested and assessed and stuff before the kids in the US go on summer break. I can start writing more in detail about what’s really going on. I have held off for so long sharing this. But now it’s time. Definitely between now and the next will really want to stay tuned with what’s happening here with us. It’s going to be a crazy wild fun ride. And I’m taking you all along....just virtually of course via this blog. : )

Friday, February 02, 2018

A snowy Friday...

TGIF! Happy Friday everyone! This was the view I had while driving Branden to the train station this morning. It does say 0 KM because since nobody was on the street... but Bran and I, I stopped snapped the pic and then drove off. First things first. The movie date with my 2 friends didn't happen and I think that was the best, smartest and safest idea. Last evening, one sent the 3 of us a Line message, saying the weather forecast is actually worse than originally expected and asked the rest of us, should we cancel? I thought the same thing. No need for any of us getting in a car accident... just to see a movie, kwim? Not worth it. Our safety should come first. And so we all messaged and all came to the conclusion... that yes we should cancel our Friday morning movie date. And that was a good idea... because it keeps us 3 mama's safe. : ) So we talked about 6pm-ish Thursday/last night and decided that last night. I woke up this morning and sure enough it was all white outside. Snow all over... once again and the roads looked like this. @_@ I packed up Branden's lunch and he got dressed and ready and I drove Branden to the train station. The roads were ugly. Really bad looking. They were this and you can see it was still snowing and it's snowing even right now as I type this. I can only imagine what the roads will look like tonight... when I get Bran around 5pm-ish because stuff starts freezing solid by that time and I hope the roads don't look like an ice skating rink outside with black ice. @_@

After I dropped off Bran, I stopped and snapped this pic of the rice field that surrounds the backside of our train station. And look at the snow on my side window. Branden even wiped it off. Anyway it's been a cold bitterly cold day here in my town. The sky is a pale gray color. And as for Noah. I got an email from Noah's school around 6:20am and it said they were on a "snow schedule" meaning school for our local elementary school starts at 10am. So Noah was home a lot longer than usual. Which was nice. I did get an email from Bran's school... but it said, school is still happening. But that the high schoolers... don't need to wear their fancy but dangerous slippery loafers that they usually wear....they could wear sneakers because of the slippery conditions. So Bran wore his Vans today with his high school uniform. 

Anyway, I finished all my house cleaning by yesterday afternoon. I did that because I was planning on the movie today and like to get my work knocked out of the way first. So, I do not have any house cleaning to do today at all... since I did it already. I am making chicken curry nabe tonight with lots of yummy healthy veggies and some udon noodles. Perfect for this cold weather. And I did run to the local grocery store in town at 10 am after dropping off Noah at school because tomorrow February 3rd is Setsubun. And I was looking for something for my kids for that. Just something cute and festive and yummy. I love these cakes anyways but was happy they decorated these up for Setsubun. I seem to buy these every year, lol for Setsubun. I like them because they're 95 yen each they are chocolate roll cakes quite long/good sized with delicious chocolate whipped cream and when they're nicely sliced the amount of just 2 of these... stuffs my family. So that will be dessert for tonight. Anyway, it's barely 1pm now. I just finished my salad for lunch. I finished all my house work yesterday like I said, so I am gonna just chill and rest on the couch now until I pick up the kids later this afternoon/evening. Noah 3:45pm and Bran 5pm-ish. I will chop up the veggies around 3pm real quick and preset the rice. But basically, I am totally free and will now go and watch Hoarders on TV.  Gosh these people on Hoarders are so weird. Anyways, have a great Friday and nice weekend. Stay warm.