Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Getting a little more settled now...

Can you believe that we've been living in the U.S. for over a month now? We left Japan April 9th, arrived in the U.S. On April 9th too. And right now the date is May, 16th! Not sure why this picture came out so dark. All my digital cameras are back home in Japan and my only camera I have here is my phone camera. 
Watching TV one evening...

Pic of the kitchen area from the couch. Things are coming together little by little.

Bought a coffee maker. A Keurig. It's awesome and the flavors of coffee we're using right now is we have coconut coffee pods...and we also have Cinnabon coffee pods too. Also, lol, bought an extremely basic rice cooker. I have a nice fancy shmancy one in Japan. It plays music, you can preset it...the whole shebang. But, it will remain in Japan until Noboru comes. I don't want him to not have a rice cooker. So this basic bare bones one, will do until then. 
Getting everything set up little by little. 
You know, in Japan, we had this amazing house that we had built especially for us. With a huge back yard. And everything. Now, we have 2 places to call home until Noboru moves. We have our home in Japan that we had built especially for us. And we also have this 1 year old townhouse in the US we're renting too. It's got an upstairs and a downstairs. This is what the front of our specific townhouse looks like it's right near my front door.It has a nice rock wall for privacy towards the left in this pic, green grass not much but enough. It's nicely landscaped and I always see horses in the distance every morning when Noah and I leave the house and I drive him to school. Straight forward in the distance is where some horses live. 

The window nearest my right is my living room window and the middle window is the kitchen window in this pic.

An almost door shot. : ) There are 4 units per building and 5 buildings. So 20 families live here in these townhouses. Not a lot. And it's quiet.
The kids went from going to the 1000 yen Japanese barber in Japan, to now they go to Great Clips. LOL. Usually the haircut are $15 US at Great Clips. But last week haircuts were $6.99 and that was awesome. 

Old Navy has been having some amazing sales lately. I'm slowly getting used to not everyone being Japanese. I'm slowly getting used to not hearing Japanese everywhere I go. I am no longer surprised to hear English (my native language) anymore. It's really weird. You know...obviously I am American. But living in Japan for 15/16 years, it does change you. And I'm trying hard as hell to change back, as fast as I can. And I am changing back. I'm getting more and more comfortable each time I go to Old Navy and other stores. 

At the mall, Noah picked a pair of Converse low tops for school. 

We also went to DSW. I always loved shopping there when I was in high school and in college in Denver. And this store is as amazing as I remembered.

Bran, got a new pair of sneakers. Because he has gym class and Vans are not really suited for running in gym class. So these were necessary. 

Can't believe my first born son wears a size 11.5 US. That's 29.5 for those of you in Japan. He's only 16 years old, so he's still growing but...holy cow!!!

I figured with Mother's Day coming up the week after the day we were at DSW. What the heck. Plus I needed a new pair of sandals. I really liked the toe design/area. I also loved the $39 price tag. 

Such cute sandals. And I also wanted another pair by the same brand. But ones that looked more like Birkies. But they didn't have my size, I did mention it to the lady and she said, if I let her order them for me online in the store....and since this was my first time shopping in DSW in forever....then I could get a $10 off coupon for that.... so the pair that look like birkies, I got for only $29. They haven't got to my house yet but they should be arriving today, I have been tracking their shipping. So 2 new pair of super cute summer shoes. 

Also, this is so weird if you know me in real life. But, I usually wear a cardigan. Black, navy blue, gray. Something basic. But you know what I mean, if I go to the movies and my arms get cold. Because usually movie theaters are nice and cool and wonderful, but yeah sometimes a little cardi helps. In Japan I had 2 basic gray ones, 1 was from Gap and 1 was from Old Navy.  As for the black cardis....I had about gee whiz honestly? About 6 black cardis in Japan. I had a longer one, a boyfriend one from Gap. A normal length one from Gap. 2 from Old Navy and 2 Japanese brand ones which I loved!!! When we moved to the US. I was so 100% completely focusing on the kids first and foremost. Did I pack both of their randoseru? Yes I did. Did, I pack up all their trophies and medals? From swimming and cross country? Yes, I did. Year books. All their most important things. And while I did pack for myself too. And I knew we were coming back to Japan to bring more stuff to the US too. But somehow in all the packing. I managed to not bring 1 single flipping cardigan. @_@ Like seriously. Noboru at first told me, "I"ll mail them to you in the US." And after he got back to Japan, he said, "just wait until you get back to Japan." The only problem I can't. I literally use one everyday. So while in Old Navy, And Branden looking for a pair of athletic shorts? I went to the ladies section at Old Navy and found a black cardi and a navy blue cardi for 30% off. And I was know what. Get them. Because I desperately need myself a cardigan. I also found this navy t-shirt.  

With palm trees and pineapples all over it. So cute. So yeah, not a bad little haul for Mother's Day. 2 pair of summer sandals and 2 cardis and 1 t-shirt.  

These are the athletic shorts Branden picked. I'm not so crazy about this athletic style of dressing these days for teens. Branden likes this style. And I'm not so crazy about this style, like I said, but I also want him to decide for himself how he wants to dress too, even if it personally drives me crazy. : )

Noah's not been wearing kids size shoes for a while now. But he's currently a men's size 6 and a women's size 8. That's a size 24.5cm for those of you in Japan.
I like that at most grocery stores around where we live, they offer fresh fruit for kids for free, while they shop with their parents. So a kid can have a fresh banana or a fresh Little Halo or something. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mother's Day 2018...

I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day and spent it with your loved ones. I had a very low key Mother's Day as always, which is totally our style, to begin with anyways. I spent it with my 2 amazing sons who I adore to pieces. We 3 went to the movies on Mother's Day. One of my favorite movies growing up was the original Overboard movie with the amazing Goldie Hawn and her longtime beau Kurt Russell. Just always loved that movie. And so when I saw they were making a remake last year. I figured I would have to see it, whether good or bad. I wasn't expecting to like it. But, I really liked this remake. So seeing a movie that I loved. With my 2 sons, honestly nothing could have been better than that for me. : )

The boys had their own nachos as usual, we had 2 large sodas (cherry cokes) I wasn't hungry at the movies this time at all... so just had soda. After the movie, we 3 went to Dairy Queen, where they have this amazing deal. A $5 buck meal, you get chicken strips, fries, a drink and a sundae all for just 5 bucks, you can upgrade to a small blizzard for a dollar extra, if you want and we 3 did that. So a movie and an early-ish dinner. Anyway, I sure hope you all had a fantastic Mother's Day too. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Bits and Pieces...

The couch arrived April 28th. We bought it, the week beforehand, but it couldn't be delivered until then.

So thrilled to have the couches.

I'm so thankful that Branden is just like his dad.... in the fact that he can put any piece of furniture together all by himself. He put this TV stand together like a boss! He did such a fantastic job. 

The living room coming together, little by little.
Long John Silver's and Taco Bell are inside 1 restaurant where we live. So you can order Taco Bell and your family could order LJS or go either way. One night, we went to Long John Silver's and Taco Bell. My kids had never eaten LJS before ever. And I used to have a LJS near me, when I was growing up. And we would go there once every 2 months. I don't like fish. LJS is an American fish and chips type place. I always ordered the "chicken planks" Which is basically just chicken strips. Anyway, knowing my kids had never eaten LJS before, I tried to steer them to Taco Bell that night. Only because I *know* my kids and know what they like to eat. I thought, I would order LJS chicken planks, for old times sake. But the kids wanted to try LJS too. And so, okay. So we 3 ordered the chicken planks meal. It came with 3 strips/planks, fries, 1 hushpuppie and coleslaw. My kids absolutely hated it. Didn't just mildly hate it.. but hated it times a thousand. They told me... it was the greasiest meal they have *ever* eaten in there life. It was extremely heavy for them. And I hate to admit it, but I completely agree with my kids. After living in Japan for 15-16 years. I can't handle LJS either anymore. In Japan, we would have karaage once a month and chicken katsu once a month. If cooked right, they're not greasy at all. In Japan, my family and I seldom, if ever ate tempura. Even at the deli, if we'd get 2 tempura breaded shrimps, after shrimp one, I felt completely greased out. My kids could never handle eating tempura in Japan either. And this meal at LJS was like 100 times worse than tempura. I know Noboru enjoys LJS. And when he comes here, I'll be picking something from Taco Bell instead. 

What else happened? Let's see in the US, Avengers came out on Thursday, 2 weeks ago? It's a school night here. So, I promised to take the kids to the movies on Sunday. I couldn't take them on Saturday, since Saturday we were waiting for the furniture store delivery people to deliver the couches. Also, I made a small mistake at the movies. Again, I'm getting adjusted back to living in my home country. And boy oh boy. So let me tell you the story. In Japan, when you go to the movies in Japan, you have to pick your seat. I actually really like this system of prepicking a seat. And I really love that about Japan. Now, every time I go to Guam or Hawaii or Denver, we always go to a few movies. And the system is a bit different, seats in the movie theater are first come, first serve. And I know that. I get that. I wrongly assumed that was the same system all over the US? So Sunday, morning, April 29th, we went to our nearest movie theater to where we live. I mentioned to the kids, "do you think it's like Japan, where we pick our seats in advance?" "Or like Hawaii, Guam and Denver?" Both the boys said, it's going to be first come, first serve type seating. I agreed. And so to the movies we went. The movie started at like 1pm, we got there like at 12 noon. I figured by the time we park the car, get our movie tickets, go to the bathroom and then hit the concession stand. We'd have enough time to find a good seat. Okay so, I am standing in line to get the movie tickets. And I said, "hi I'd like movie tickets to see Avenger's Infinity Wars for the 1pm showing please" The nice teenage boy looked at me a little bit like I was on crack. Because he looked surprised. And he said, you didn't pre-purchase your tickets and pick your seats? It's nearly sold out. Would you like to buy tickets for tomorrows showing instead? Insert complete shock face from me here. OMG, you guys, never have I felt... more like a freaking "out of the know" idiot! I would have liked to slink away. But, I am the mother to 2 boys. I must be strong. I asked the kids... what do you want to do. And they said see it anyways. So, Noah and I sat together and Branden sat alone, but right in front of us. And my dad sat way up front... 3 rows away from the screen. Why am I sharing this story with you? Because I have *always* been for real with you guys on my blog. The good, the bad, the totally embarrassing. The silver lining? Well, I learned 1 thing. My nearest movie theater is like Japan... in the fact, you must pick your seats in advance. And another silver lining? I will never make that mistake again. That, I know for darn sure. 
The movie tickets are $10. Which is basically considered "cheap day" for me since I'm coming from Japan. So while my fellow American might not care for the movie price, it's normal price for me. What I do love... is that the seats are super wide leather reclining seats. The thickest cushiest seats ever. And a tray table for your movie snacks. Both Branden and Noah got their own nachos. Branden got his own large soda and Noah and I shared a medium soda. I had a small popcorn, but I'm getting the nachos next time too. We also snuck in 1 movie candy or chocolate from Target. Noah brought in Hot Tamales. Branden had picked an Oreo mint chocolate bar and I picked M&M's. The seats are the best and there's only like 15 seats per row at the most, so you don't feel all cramped in this movie theater. 

That's Noah's legs all stretched out.. relaxing at the movies and that's Branden's head in front of Noah. 

Deadpool 2 is coming out soon. May 17th, I think. Comes out on a Thursday again. I have learned my lesson and so yes, I have already purchased our Deadpool 2 tickets for Saturday May 19th. I'm learning ya'll, I'm trying so hard.
What are the pros of living in the US again? The fact that at any given time, I have 3 different types and flavors of ice cream in my freezer for the kids. Peanut Butter ice-cream. Pumpkin pie ice-cream. And of course we have the old school, ice cream sandwiches too. The ice cream flavors in the US are just the best. And so plentiful with the flavors. Just yesterday, I saw a quart of Twinkie ice-cream and Hostess cupcake ice cream too. 

My favorite flavor of yogurt since I was a child, has always been coconut flavored yogurt. While, I loved living in Japan, it always seemed they had the teeniest tiny amount of cereal variety and the teeniest tiny variety of yogurt. In Japan, we had vanilla yogurt, strawberry and blueberry. Perhaps the seasonal sakura flavor, which just tastes like perfume to my tastebuds. But, I often would mention to Noboru, I sure miss coconut yogurt. And I miss the huge selection and flavor varieties. Also our yogurt in the US is thicker. Even after trying the Greek yogurt in Japan, our regular yogurt in the US is much thicker. I know, because I tried both. I have been trying every brand and type of coconut yogurt they make in the US. My faves so far are the Yoplait Pina Colada because it's very tropical, pineapple and coconut. I also like the Tillamook coconut too. It's so thick and divine. But, I have been buying new flavors too. For the kids to try. So many Girl Scout flavors available.

Noah enjoyed the Girl Scout caramel coconut.

So, like I said the pros of living here is having the pure and simple convenience of having American food at my finger tips 24/7 and available. And American food is native here... so it's so freaking cheap. Yogurts are 60 cents each. Japanese food is considered foreign food here, so it's expensive. I have not eaten rice since I left Japan. And neither my kids. Well, wait they have had rice when they go to Panda Express. But not Japanese or medium grain rice. I always pick noodles so I have not eaten rice though since I left Japan.

I'm also learning which grocery store I find the cheapest. I have been to Alebrtsons and Safeway and the local chain here. And also price compared at Target and Walmart too. I personally find Walmart grocery store cheaper on everything. And I love buying their 96 or 98% fat free ground beef.

What do I find the hardest about living here? Being without Noboru. We've been married for 20 years, this year marks year 21 for us. While some people have crap marriages or they fight all the time. I can honestly say, I married my best friend. We have just always gotten along so well. He knows me best and I know him best. I miss him so much, that at times when I am alone, I just want to burst out crying. We were like a pair of shoes. Two sneakers. And now I feel like just 1 lone sneaker, without the other one. We Line message everyday. We talk on Line, most days but not all days.  I'm trying so hard to keep it all under control. And I won't tell my kids how unbelievably grief stricken I am. Or how sad I am. Because again...I need to be their rock.  We're waiting on that green card. And I know that. And so, I have to be calm. And composed. But yes, I miss him so much, that I can't really even describe how sad that I am, without him. Noboru called me last week, asking, how long to cook one of those Costco frozen pizzas and what temperature to put it on. Why? Because he too is having a hard time without me too. As far as cooking pizzas are concerned or anything in the house....I frankly always handled it. And so he never had to think about such things. Because I always did it all. Now I'm not there. And yeah...he's feeling it too. And so am I.

The good news... is that as soon as the kids get out of school for summer break, we're going back to Japan for about 4 weeks. I can't wait. And I know Noboru can't wait either. So in June we're going back. So yes, there are pros and cons for living here. Living in Japan, I always felt like I had 1 leg in Japan and 1 leg in the US. And here...I too, feel like I have 1 leg in the US and 1 leg in Japan too. I think though... when Noboru moves to the US...then I can finally start to feel like I have 2 legs both firmly planted in the United States.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Pics of our townhouse and of Noah's middle school...

Hi, today's Tuesday over here. Both Bran and Noah are at school right now. My dad's at the motor vehicles right now getting his drivers license switched to this state. And so, I have some free time to just catch up with you all. The wifi in America, where we live is absolutely so freaking slow compared to the internet speeds we have in Japan. The reason is because we use satellite for our internet and we also have the Dish for watching TV. So, when the kids are home like in the evenings and weekends. I doubt I will blog then. Because of the slow wifi. But, I think I can blog twice a week, in the weekday. And hopefully I can eventually catch up. I will post what the outside of our townhouse looks like another time. But for now, I will share pics of what the townhouse looked like the day we moved in. This is what our living room looks like. Of course now we have 2 couches in there and a  55 inch flat screen TV in there now. But this is just pics of the day we moved in. So this is the living room. This is all on the main floor of our townhouse.
Behind this little door in the living room, is a storage area for the kids and my suitcases.

What it looks like behind that little door. The storage area. Fully carpeted and with a light switch.
Looking from the first flight of stairs towards the downstairs. Notice the detailing on the banister near the stairs. Again, it's barely 1 year old these townhouses.

Love the wood flooring or faux wood flooring. It's in the main floor bathroom and in the laundry room too, as well as in the master bathroom upstairs too. See the lightning in the dining area? It's so cool. Granite counter tops. American stove and oven. Microwave, dishwasher and fridge (with ice and water available on the outside of the fridge door) and tons of counter space and cabinets and a food pantry near the stairs, but in the kitchen obviously. 

Not sure if you can see the rock wall outside the windows and the flowers. Ceiling fan in the living room.

My laundry room on the main floor. There's 2 cabinets for laundry soap and Gain dryer sheets. I have Gain pods in there too. And a hanging pole to the left of the cabinets. So yes it is a proper laundry room. That is just in our townhouse for the 4 of us. 

Water heater and central air conditioning and heating system are in the laundry room.

The full bathroom on the main floor. This is my dad's bathroom. The kids can use it, if they want to too of course. But, I know my dad enjoys having his own full bathroom. This is right next to the laundry room and my dad's bedroom.

My dad's bedroom. It's located on the main floor. The things located on the main floor are. The living room. The dining area, the kitchen, the laundry room and the main floor bathroom and my dad's bedroom.
The master bedroom. Now, I had wanted Branden and Noah to have the master bedroom. Because in my mind, it made sense, because there are 2 of them, so they need more room. And me, I'm alone. So, I felt they should have the master bedroom. But, Branden said, that would mean "mom would come into our room in the evenings or middle of night to go to the restroom." And he said he didn't want that. Sad face from me. : ( So, I am in the master bedroom. And they come and go to the bathroom anytime and I'm absolutely fine with that. They're my sons, I absolutely adore them and so they can breeze on by, anytime they'd like. : ) There are 2 doors inside my bedroom. This door you can tell is the bathroom. Ceiling fan as well.

This is the door to the master walk-in closet.

Top row for hanging and lower bar for hanging clothes too.

Built in shelving.

It's a fantastic closet.
Master bathroom. Again this townhouse is only 1 year old. I love the floor in here.

I absolutely love this sink and pure white cabinets. I wash my face at night every night in this sink. Brush my teeth in the sink every morning and night. And put my makeup on in here every morning.


Love the lightning. Noah does his hair in this mirror every morning. Branden showers in here every night, so does Noah. Both the kids do, they take turns. I shower in the morning.

This is both Branden and Noah's bedroom. They are sharing a room here. And they're bedroom is right next to mine. Noboru, liked this townhouse because the kids bedroom and mine are upstairs and a little more private... away from the rest of the house. For the most part we're all usually in the living room watching TV together or in the dining area.. eating or talking up a storm. But it is also nice for my dad to have a room on the main floor, for his own privacy if he wants or needs it. And when he wants to be on his laptop. Or take a nap, he can close his bedroom door and have some privacy if he wants to. And let's be honest, everyone wants some privacy once in a while...even in the best and closest of families. And the kids also can go upstairs too and know that grandpa won't ever go upstairs, because he has no reason to go upstairs. So the kids can go upstairs if they want and have complete privacy. Flop on their beds. And play online games together or talk. Just a private place for them to unwind. And again even for kids, they need a space that's just theirs and I "get that", I understand that. If we were all on the same floor. The kids could maybe be too loud for my dad too. So, this 2 bedrooms upstairs thing.... and 1 bedroom downstairs was perfect for us. I'm glad Noboru suggested this. Everyone can have privacy if they need it. And likewise... everyone can gather in the living room and dining area when they would like some help with homework. Or to talk and chat and enjoy family time too. 
Is it weird having an Ulta 5 minutes away from my house by car? Yes, completely weird. Is it weird having a Target 5 minutes from my house, by car? Yes, I'm still not used to this. And is it weird having a Walmart 6 minutes from my house, by car? Completely weird. And a Panda Express. Long John Silvers. KFC, A&W. Mickey D's. Qdoba. Subway. Again all 8 minutes or less from my house by car of course. Yes, it's weird. Is it weird that Pizza Hut, Dominoes and Papa John's delivers to my house? Yes. Because after we built our dream home in Japan and moved to the inaka. For the past 12 years we had no delivery pizza of any kind, for where we lived in Japan. There is a free standing Krispy Kreme about 6 minutes away from my house. Noboru wanted to go inside the day before he left back to Japan. They offer and sell different donuts than the one in Japan. Of course the original glazed and sprinkles ones were the same, but the variety here is bigger. 
The kids and I each picked a cereal to put in the food pantry and that way anyone can have it. I picked this and it's so good.But to be honest, every time I see this cereal in my food pantry it shocks me just a little bit. The fact that this cereal still surprises me every morning... means to me...that I've not adjusted to being an American living in America. The fact that I'm still dazzled and amazed when I walk into a Target means I'm not adjusted yet to living here. I know that I need to be gentle and patient with myself. And so I'm not rushing myself. I'm trying to adjust at my own pace. When will things start to feel second nature or normal here? I honestly don't know. Only time will tell. 

Foothills. Trees galore. Greenery for days. On my way to Target one day.

Hello blondie horse!!! She has a chocolate horse friend that is separated by a fence.

Hello chocolate horse! That's blondies friend.

Noboru driving my car when he was here. Again pure black Volkswagen Jetta 2014, leather interior. Only 30,000 miles and still under warrantey and the warranty was trasnferred into my name. My husband said, "You look so cute and classy driving that car."

Costco run. While, Costco Japan has 75% things American and 25% Japanese. But here in the USA, Costco USA has everything American. The sheer amount of what's available at Costco here shocks me still. Again, I'm not yet adjusted to my life here yet and you know what...that's okay.

This is what Noah's middle school looks like. It's an absolutely gorgeous middle school. New facility. American flag hanging at the entrance.

The building does say..."blank middle school" on the building in this pic. Which I grayed the actual name of Noah's middle school out. Noah lives so close to the school, that no school bus is offered to Noah. But many kids do ride the American yellow school bus to middle school everyday to this middle school. As for what we do? School starts at 7:55am every morning. And I drop off Noah at school every morning at 7:30am. He loves this school so much. Noah's had pizza at school. Nachos at school. Ravioli at school and turkey dinner for lunch too. Yesterday the main choice was yakisoba. Noah said he picked a sandwich, not the yakisoba. Every lunch you have to pick a fruit or vegetable. Your choice of course, which one to pick, but you have to pick one and I like that. Noah usually picks apples or bananas. And he said he likes picking chocolate milk and wonders why chocolate milk wasn't offered at his school in Japan. He also says his middle school is immaculate type clean and the bathrooms smell of soap at his American middle school. It's because there are janitors cleaning the schools. And they have industrial strength cleansers. In Japan our local shoggako cleaned with water only and the toilets smelled unpleasant...would be the politest way to describe them. I dreaded using the toilets during undokai or observation day. Branden says the same thing....that his high school is so clean, and smells so good. Branden's high school is gorgeous and brand new too.  

Picking up Noah every afternoon. He walks right to my car and always has a great big smile on his face. And he tells me so many stories every single day.

Other informative tidbits. Noah goes to school Monday through Thursday 7:55am and gets out at 2:25pm. And on Fridays everyone in middle school gets out early. Noah gets out at 1:25pm every Friday. An American middle school schedule? It's not stressful. Noah feels so happy getting out of school at 2:25pm most days, but he can't get over the fact that he gets out at 1:25pm every single Friday. Also, free wifi at middle school for all kids. And yes, you may use your cell phone in class. This is shocking to me. Because this is not allowed in chugakko in Japan. Also, Noah told me that after first period/class everyone in his school... has snack time. Everyone brings a "school approved" snack (no nuts) to eat in their classroom after first period. What in the heck?!!! Please keep in mind. I have been an American mother in Japan for 16 years. I know how to send my kid to a Japanese school, yes I do. I did it and I did it well too!!! Now I'm here and I have absolutely *zero* idea how to be a mom to children going to an American school. A Target run was in order... to buy "after first period snacks." Individual snack sizes of Goldfish, Mint Milano cookies, Snack size of Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butter and some other type too. Also, everyone drinks 500ml of water throughout the day at Noah's school. So they don't get thirsty during their study. So, now every single day, Noah brings a snack for after first period and a 500ml of bottle water. Good thing a case of bottled water is like $3 here. OMG, you guys. I'm learning so much. Noah was given a brand new Chromebook (laptop) each child is issued one for free. Each family pays $30 for insurance on it for the year. Kids here do a lot of assignments in middle school on that. Plus they do worksheets a lot here too. Branden used one in his high school in Japan. But we had to buy B's Chromebook in Japan. It's nice that here... you don't need to buy it, the school provides them, to all the kids. Noah has about 13 kids in each of his classes, in middle school. Considering Noah used to have 38 kids in his class in Japan. The small class size at his school here is nice.  Noah has about 45 minutes of homework every night. He does it on the kitchen table and I sit with him, ready to help. Last night Noah did homework on Christopher Columbus. Noah does the pledge of Allegiance every single morning, to the United States of America.

Noah has always been extremely western looking. In Japan, it was always so super easy finding Noah during undokai or during a Christmas play. Or even if my child was playing in the playground at the local elementary school in Japan, it was always super easy to find Noah. Noboru used to tell me.... every undokai..."thank goodness it's so easy to find Noah"...meanwhile my Japanese friends would put bright socks or patterned long socks on their child... so they could easily find their child. But for us, we could find Noah super easy. And we didn't need socks to help us, lol. His face stood out enough. So it was always easy. I mention this because...on Noah's very first day of school. The teacher collected Noah from the office and we, Noboru and I stood there and she walked him into the hallway and there were western kids walking everywhere. And as soon as Noah walked a little bit aways. I could *not* tell the difference of where my son was. Which son was mine? He blended into the crowd of western faces so well, I could not pick out which one was my child. That has absolutely never happened to me before with Noah. Not ever. And after school, when I am waiting for him to walk out of the building and to my car, again, I can't tell which kid is mine anymore. Every day I sit and think hard...what was Noah wearing this morning? I miss being able to find my child in a blink of an eye.

We live in a very nice community. It's seriously so pretty here. And Noah's first day... during lunch. Other kids kindly wanted to give a cookie to the new kid from Japan (meaning Noah) Noah was sitting with his new friends at the lunch table. And he said, the kids were excited but kept walking around the lunch room, saying "where is that new kid from Japan at?" Noah said they passed him like 6 times. Until one of the boys Noah was sitting with said, "this is Noah, he's the one from Japan" ...the kids were all super nice, but Noah said they said..."you??? You can't be from Japan, you're *not* Japanese!!!"  I'm sorry but that made me....LMAO....Poor Noah. And ya'll are the most honest, they say it like, they see it. Noboru was still here when that happened. And we were all dying laughing when we heard that. Noah did say politely, "I am half Japanese, my dad is Japanese, my mom is American." They could not believe it. They asked him to speak Japanese and Noah obliged with a few sentences. And they then believed him. I don't think anyone has mentioned Japan or the fact he's half Japanese, since the first day. And he hasn't been asked to speak Japanese, since that one and only time. You bottom line in life... get treated by how you look. He doesn't look Asian to anyone here and they always said that in Japan too. And while Noah is proud to be hafu and proud to be half Japanese. He basically just blends into 98% of the rest of the school.

I have good Branden stories to share too. But that will wait until next time.