Thursday, September 29, 2011

Endless.com (part of Amazon.com) Shoes that ship to Japan

Now that I'm teaching English at 2 hoikuen's and need to wear inside shoes, which can be anything...Nike, Adidas doesn't matter as long as it isn't used for outside. Anyway, I washed my black low top converse and had been using those as my "inside shoes" to wear inside the schools I work at. However with working and making my own income. Not only did I pay for my own hair straightening a month ago and trim at the salon. I also decided it was time to buy myself a good pair of sneakers. So, I looked at the Narita mall while we were looking for Branden's sneakers for undokai. And was sort of saddened to see that they carry no woman's shoe larger then a 25cm. Well I am a 25cm according to Nissen and other online websites for when I buy shoes. My flower ballet shoes are 25cm. I was surprised when I tried a 25cm at the Sports Authority and it seemed like a 23cm sized shoe. Noboru mentioned...you should have gotten some in Hawaii or Guam. Hmm, hind site being 20/20, right? Hmm. Anyway I do order from Amazon.com once every 3 months or so, so not too often. But enough to get the weekly mailers and to have current dvd's at home here. Anyway surprise surprise, I get an email saying...women's shoes..Endless.com, part of Amazon. I made a mental note and after the boys went to bed, I looked online, fully expecting to find shoes not my style...or out of my price range. I found a pair of New Balance navy pair for $40 US. And I found a black pair of New Balance, but these were special ones because they were/are the Heidi Klum version. They were $70 or so, I forget their exact price now. But around there. I considered, my yen paycheck. And the fact I couldn't get them here in my size in Japan. And given the free shipping and given I already had a Amazon account I wouldn't have to sign up all over from scratch! Those parts I LOVED too! With the high yen exchange rate, I think I paid, ichimanyen/$100 US. 10,000 yen. So only 2 hours of me chasing around the kiddies at the hoikuen to pay for them, and I do love these shoes, both pair, so a great purchase in my opinion.
So, I ordered around 11pm at night, went to bed. And when I woke up the next morning...sitting in my email box said...first pair already has been shipped @_@ Expedited shipping! Which was free. Wow, how fast I thought. So, I did my day and when I got home around 2-3pm that day, another email saying..the Black colored Heidi Klum pair had already been shipped as well. Wow, lightning speed, I thought.
UPS express! Kuroneko is who delivered it to my house. Within 4 days I had both of my shoes here at my house!
Normal New balance box on the right. And Super model Heidi Klum's pair on the left. Hence the HK NB on the side of the box. And she is an avid runner in real life, I often see many pictures of her running in the tabloids. I figure a runner would know what she's looking for in a running shoe. And plus since she's a model or was. And is in the fashion world, she would know the importance of a fashionable running shoe. So, I felt I could get best of both worlds with her shoes fashionable and a great running shoe. And wow, they are so comfortable.

Size 9 US.
The Heidi Klum pair is a throw back to the old school style. And I loved them! Which is why I ordered them.
Very 80's back of the shoe, so cute.
Says right on the shoe..HK NB. I'm sure a few brand loving folks in Japan will know what these are. Anyway, I was happy with my purchase and I worked for them....so more power to me! : )

And just a regular navy pair with cute green NB on them. I will wear my navy Gap sweatshirts with this pair of navy NB this Fall/Winter. And my black T's and stuff with my Heidi Klum pair.
Because I want my purchase to last, I went to a sneaker/shoe shop in the small city Noah gos to yochien in and bought some water proof for the suede areas on my sneakers. Sprayed them and let them dry 24 hours like the bottle says. I haven't worn them yet..not even to undokai.
All in all, I was really happy with my sneaker purchase from Endless.com. If you have tiny feet this post won't really be of any use to you, because you can get shoes and sneakeres here in Japan, but for anyone who has a size 9 shoe/foot and is looking for another option, well at least know there is one more option. : ) And they do ship to us here in Japan and they ship quick! Anyway very pleased with my purchase and hopefully someday someone will be looking for sneakers and if they come across this post, it will have been worth it for me to write it. : )

A Hanamasa run

The Sunday right after Noah's recital was over, we did not go home, we headed directly to Hanamasa. We had planned going there for a few days before and that day worked out best for us. I had brought a spare change of clothes for Noah, so he wouldn't have to go to Hanamasa in his yochien uniform. At this point, on Sunday was when we had heard that the typhoon would be heading our way. This is important to mention because we had heard of a big typhoon coming to Japan but it wasn't expected to come towards the Chiba area or Narita area at all. So, even the day of undokai, we had all heard of an upcoming typhoon, but no one around here was too worried. It wasn't until the Sunday of Noah's respect for the aged recital, that morning on the news did we hear it switched course and would be heading towards us. Again we didn't know if it would be downgraded to just a storm, which happens. Or be the big one, so to speak. Either way, we were glad to get ourselves to Hanamasa anyway and like I said, it was planned before we even heard of the typhoon heading our way. What did we pick up? Well we only get ourselves there about every 6 weeks. We picked up, quite a few packs of lean 100% ground beef (5 packs). For meatballs, hamburg and family cheeseburger night.
Thin pork for ginger pork and thick for fried pork chop night.
The chicken leg quarters are for roasted chicken leg quarters with teriyaki sauce. We had that the night/evening of the typhoon. It was quick, just throw in the oven. We had rice, teriyaki leg quarters and steamed veggie, so a nice filling meal. Noboru and the boys also had miso soup. After working that day and picking up Branden and coming home. The easy meal was very appreciated. : ) We also picked up 2 whole chickens, this we had for Sunday roasted chicken this past Sunday with mashed potatoes and veggie.
French fries, this 1kg bag was 238 yen? Something around that price. Which will be great for cheeseburger night.
10 apples in this bag and they were 450 yen. Which is quite a deal considering my Cainz store usually sells 6 apples for 395 yen in a pack. So, yeah I think another apple crisp/crumble will be coming up in the very near future. Will probably bake it this coming Friday, tomorrow.
Lots and lots of frozen veg. I also like to buy fresh veggies too obviously, but knowing I at least have veggies in the house at all times is peace of mind for me.
Pasta, very good price here and a big bag of mozzarella cheese.
2 cases/boxes of jasmine tea, it's cheaper here. And that way when I do my regular weekly shopping at Cainz and a few other shops, I can just pick up milk, Calpis, apple juice, Natchan, you know that type of stuff. The day the typhoon hit, we were cozy here at home, we had plenty of food here in the house. Dinner I had purposely made by 4:30pm, just in case of power outage. We ate quickly, everyone showered. And that's when we had the power outage. Just 2 outages, and only for a few minutes. Our area had tons of rain. heaps of it. But no damage. We had seen on the news parts of Japan that were really hit hard. Last week, for 2 days, the weather was quite chilly. Like you'd need a long sleeve top type chilly. It hasn't been that cold in this area. So it was a surprise the weather dropped like that. Some days are still sunny. But you can really start to see that Fall is under way. The seasons are indeed changing. What are Noboru and Noah doing in this pic behind the Jasmine tea bottles? They're studying. Noah's going full throttle in Japanese study, reading and writing. At Kumon and also at home with workbooks and library runs with dad. And I'm meanwhile going full throttle with English Kumon with him same time and with the same reading books I used with Branden. With Noah reading everything these days, he's reading labels at the store. Reading the TV guide/schedule on the satellite. I was watching my cooking show the other night and when it started and the name of the show flashed on the screen...he said...Everyday Food. Yes Noah, that's the name of mommy's show I said. : )

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Noah's Respect for the Aged Day recital 2011

The day after undokai. The Sunday that was September, 18th, was the "Respect for the Aged" event that's held every year in the small city that Noah goes to school in. The following day, September 19th, Monday was the actual Respect for the Aged Day here in Japan. And the boys had no school that day. So last Sunday, we woke up like as if it were a school day. Woke up, had breakfast got dressed and headed to the place where the recital would take place. Every other year before (even Branden's time), was our yochien and the other yochien. 2 of the 3 yochien's showed up. However only our yochien attended this year. So, the pink and blue badges from our school sang 3 songs for the elderly folks that showed up in the audience that day. Many were bused in from senior facilities the healthy, genki ones. : ) Also couples celebrating 50 years of marriage were given a gift by the city. You know one thing I really like about Japan is how they care and have a great respect for their elderly people.
These kids practiced these songs for weeks! They tried so hard and worked so hard on these songs. You know, when I was at the shaon kai meeting that time, we heard the kids singing the songs in the school. I heard them sing the "Hello" song. : ) They sang for such a big crowd! So many of the city's elderly showed up, they really enjoyed it!
Do you remember when Noah first started this school? I do. I remember when they all started here. And yet another last comes to a close. The last...recital for Noah for the "Respect for the Aged Day"
Our school was kind enough to give the kids a present, a snack and a drink for showing up and participating. You know...this drink, has a lot of pulp from the mikan juice. I remember this juice from Branden's days of going to this school. : ) They have given out the same delicious almost home squeezed type flavor. These are the things we'll miss, and we'll remember. So, I just want to blog this so again when the memory fades, we'll remember, thanks to the posts like these. : )
A sketch pad, origami paper and crayon type things to write on the windows. Below are three very short videos from Noah's last Respect for the Aged recital. We also video taped it on the camcorder as well.






Saturday, September 24, 2011

Branden's undokai 2011 and Noah's official debut at the local elementary school

With our spot saved from the day before. There was no real reason to rush on down there undokai morning. It started at 9am. Though we dropped off Branden at 7:20am like he was supposed to be. The rules changed this year. Not sure if you can see the chalk line near the tarps front right leg? They said, no tarps in front of the chalk line this year. This was not such a smart rule because then, we had no choice but to save the spot up front plus the spot for the tarp area, so in a way we saved 3 spots versus just 1 spot. And believe you me...everyone had to do the same. And there were still people behind us but now much much farther behind us. The people on the left did the same most people did. But the people on the right of us. You won't believe it. See the two leisure sheets on the right? 2 different family's!!! So one put a leisure sheet down and left didn't think of possible tarp that needed to be behind the chalk line for the next day. Then the next people put their leisure sheet. So, the day of undokai. Both family's showed up trying to place their tarp frame down and both wanted the same exact spot behind the chalk line! Needless to say the 2 family's on the right of us...will never be friends after that episode. They virtually ignored each other the whole time, it was quite awkward and quite uncomfortable to watch. So, yeah hard to explain but the whole tarps behind the line thing...not such a hot idea at all. Anyway we got there around 8:30am. The structure we had up from the night before. But the green tarp itself, Noboru put on that morning. Noah meanwhile sat in one of the chairs.
The start up exercises. Population of the entire school? All grades? Way under 300.
Branden is a white hat. But for undokai they switched the whole schools color. So for that day Branden was a red hat, the whole school switched like I said. Why they did that? You sure got me. : )
About to start a match!

Go Branden! And go girl who wrote Branden that lovely love letter running next to him! : )
Go kids go!
First place! Yay Branden!
Branden squatting down on the left with red hat.
Branden on the far left. Branden had a growth spurt recently. : )
Branden takes off in his red hat!
Putting on big funky wig! Outfits were supposed to be from "One Piece"
One of the town and school photographer's/parent picked taking a pic of Branden running.
Another person taking a pic of Branden! Branden jumping in mid air!
Then they made the announcement over the loudspeaker. All future first graders for next year, please go and sign in if you will be participating this year. We went and before we signed in or said his name, they said..."last name Noah-san" is here. @_@ The whole town knows who he is. To be fair he does stand out though. And also, he's at the elementary school quite often for observation days. So, it's understandable everyone knows who he is, there are only 3 half western kids in our entire town, Branden, Noah and Kenny (his dad is American too and works for the same company as Noboru). The hoikuen kids meanwhile were doing a dance number. And this was the area for all kids, the yochien kids were mostly under here since the hoikuen kids were dancing. Anyway as you know, the hoikuen kids for the most part ruled the school until they could blend in and know the rest of the kids. Kids adjust quickly so maybe a month or so. But many of us have had nerves for this day. There were so many surprises and stories I need to share with you about this event.

Story # 1 is...it pays to be nice. See that lady with the hat underneath the sign? Well, I met her at one of those mass cattle call kids health check ups. When Noah was 18month's old, is when her and I first spoke. Then I saw her one more time, the last time when Noah was age 3. She struck up a conversation with me. Just feeling the waters. And I was really friendly. She told me she was an English teacher. We chatted and spoke. And she really liked me. So much so, we exchanged keitei numbers, but I've since changed my number since then. But she was really nice. It has been 3 long years since I saw her. And when I first saw her face...I was wondering is that her? I didn't want to approach her if it was NOT her. OMG! Can you imagine for a moment, if it was not her? I would make a fool of myself. Forget that. Anyway I was thinking...what should I do? Is it her or not? Should I say something or not? As fate would have this and you will seriously not believe this. She lifted her thermos to take a drink and on the bottom of her thermos in ENGLISH said....Megumi last name! Holy crap! What are the odds of that happening? Huge happy sigh!!! What a relief, I now know 1 more person which is what I need. So, I approached her...I said..."hi excuse me, by any chance is your name, Megumi last name" She smiled and said yes. Hey I needed something to start the conversation. : ) Then I said...By any chance do you remember me? She smiled and get this... she said..."of course, you're Branden and Noah's mom". Can I tell you how completely happy and relieved I was. Also, her daughter goes to the local hoikuen and will be Noah's classmate next year. And she seemed to be one of the more established, well known and liked mom's. So, phew! Yeah it pays to be nice. If I would have snubbed her years ago, it would be her snubbing me now! And of course I'm not like that. So, yeah, boy am I glad I'm friendly. Phew, I am now not so worried about Noah starting so much now.


Story #2, the day before at the Shaon kai meeting, "same town as me mom" said she was going to bring her son to the debut race. Her son's name is Sera. So from our yochien, it will be Noah and Sera. Anyway, when we saw them and when they saw us. Boy were we happy. Sera was not in uniform. And I can tell by his mom's face she was wishing he would have been because the other 3 from the other yochien all wore their gym uniforms. And all the hoikuen kids dressed the same. I actually dressed Noah in regular clothes, Qoo shirt and jean shorts etc. And I brought his yochien gym uniform, just in case. I told Noboru if everyone is wearing theirs, then I'll switch Noah's. And sure enough when I saw everyone show up with uniforms, I switched Noah's right away and hoped Sera would show up with his.


Story #3 Two worlds collide. I've got yochien mom friends. And I have elementary school mom friends. The worlds up until now have never collided. Well Genki is different because we all switched schools together and I knew no elementary mom's prior that. Anyway....somehow Kouiki's mom (Branden's Kouiki classmate not Noah's) anyway Kouiki's mom has been under the impression, that only 1 student from our yochien was starting the local town elementary school meaning Noah. She never asked me point black. And I'm not gossipy so I never said...Sera is also coming too, so I never mentioned the fact either way. I know and have been aware that 3 from *their* yochien were to be in Noah's class next year because, when Noah comes to observation day dressed in our yochien's uniform, those 3 show up together in their uniform. So they have known about Noah and us them, vice versa. But no mention of Noah's classmate Sera at all. So, we were standing near the tarp and Kouiki's mom said to Sera's mom...."and what school is your little boy coming from? She was just trying to be friendly and she was curious because he had no uniform/gym PE outfit and wasn't with the hoikuen kids. She turned around and said...Such and such yochien. Kouiki's mom was definitely surprised. @_@ She said..I thought only Noah-kun was coming from such and such yochien. They are both now smiling at each other. Now Sera's mom is a little @_@ how did she know Sera's classmates name, you can see she was thinking that? I was just sitting watching this whole thing unfold. "Noah-kun, how do you know Noah-kun?" Again just being polite, this was not a grand Inquisition on either of their parts... just curiosity on both their parts. Kouiki's mom replies...My older son and Noah-kun's older brother are classmates, for the past 4 years. Then she added, we also happen to live in the same housing community together! Oh, I see. Sera's mom said. Again all very polite, but a lot of surprises and definitely a very interesting experience.

Three father's club members have new kids entering. Noah being one. And Kouki's little brother Kaito will also be Noah's classmate. Yet one more person we will know for next year. Another relief. Thank goodness we know Kouiki's family.


Story #4 Unasked for, unwanted attention. So many people staring at Noah. The whole holding area a buzz. You could see pointing and hear whispers. One mom missed a large part of her child's entire hoikuen dance number and just grinned at Noah the entire time. Grandparents of future students pointing and smiling, one person even waving at Noah @_@. New future classmates equally staring. The principal, yes principal actually had told him...what a gorgeous little boy you are. The pointing and enormous smiles and such were really weird to be honest. Yes it happens on a daily/weekly basis pretty much for Noah especially since we live in the countryside, (and yes just when you think everyone knows you..he goes and switches to elementary school and this starts all over again sigh). But there was so much buzz about one particular future classmate and that buzz was about Noah. It's impossible to pretend it didn't happen, it did.


So they said, everyone pair off. All the hoikuen kids held hands and luckily Noah and Sera held hands and walked off. We stood behind to get ready. They announced no big full circle lap like we saw last year. But a short race.
Nyuzengi seki/ future first graders/preentering age kids, is what that sign means. The dance number the hoikuen kids did.
5 hoikuen kids up first. The boys had blue and white shirts the girls had pink and white shirts.
Noah's turn. Noah raced with 4 hoikuen kids. Noah in his bright white and yellow yochien gym outfit, showing pride for our yochien! Go Noah!!!! You could still hear a buzz from people about Noah when he stood there about to race. Branden said, he and all his classmates were screaming for Noah...cheering him on!!!! All the kids Noah plays with in the neighborhood. Branden's friends!

Noah did so well. He came in 2nd place. I think he was just nervous because he usually comes in first place. But we love him no matter what he places.
My beautiful boy!
This part makes me sad. Sera in the green shirt trying to join the hoikuen boys They aren't paying him any mind, they have their back to him. So he's sitting farther away then the rest. Noah, he doesn't care yochien...or hoikuen, he is a relaxed soul/personality, so he just joined the cluster he actually talked with the boy sitting diagonal to him from hoikuen while they sat there. The boy sitting behind the girl. And they all got those presents, notebooks to be used in the first grade. I think with Noah's personality he will be okay. He interacts with people at swim club and he interacts with people at yochien, he's used to meeting people and making friends.
Noah's now joined those 2 hoikuen boys and Sera left out just sitting there. It (don't laugh at me) it broke my heart. Some kids will adjust really well, I think Noah will be one of those. This same thing happened with Branden and Genki. Branden and Genki only had each other. For a while until they made other friends. Noah is really REALLY out going though. And he just always jumps right in. He does speak fluent Japanese and English. So he can talk, chat.. play and argue and even stick up for himself....all in Japanese. He knows all the Japanese popular characters...Pokemon, Inazuma 11, etc. He's not socially awkward meaning he knows how to play kori oni, kids in elememtary school love playing dodgeball and soccer, he's great at both and in Summer the kids love to swim at the elementary, and Noah's an amazing swimmer, so he will be okay. He'll be fine. His personality is so, that I don't worry so much. Plus big brother Branden and all his tons of friends will always be around just in case. : ) I have asked Branden to please keep an eye out for Sera if he could. We will need lots of good vibes next April. For Noah and Sera, you guys. The stats as of undokai day last Saturday. 35 new coming first graders are enrolled as of now! If they get 2 more they will split in 2 classes, but as is, 1 class for Noah next year. And 2 from our private Catholic yochien, Noah and Sera. 3 from the public yochien that is Kaito (Kouki's brother) and 2 other kids from that yochien. And 1 lone child from the other private yochien.: ( There are only 3 yochien's in the city Noah's yochien is in. 1 regular private yochien. 1 public yochien and then ours...the private Catholic yochien. No yochien in our actual town. And the rest of the kids...all 29 of them, are coming from the hoikuen. So only 6 kids coming from the different yochiens.
It could be a rough month or two next April but things will work out, that's the peace of mind I have going through this with Branden and Genki. Has me much more relaxed for Noah's turn. A year from now...you will all be friends, you all will be blended and no one will give 2 hoots who came from what school...yochien or hoikuen. It's just getting to THAT point...and then we will be good. Next year these kids will all be wearing the SAME uniform! Ne~
The debut now done. So much going on, it was now nearly noon. Had been awake since 5am! And that debut thing and all the this person meeting this person. Or this person not knowing Sera was from the same yochien as Noah goes to. Just all of it. I was so ready for lunch. : ) I think we all could use a break! Noah sitting on one of our leisure sheets.
Time for lunch! What a beautiful obento! karaage that I had marinating all night, it was so good. onigiri, potato salad, tamagoyaki, meatballs, shumai, typical stuff that should be found in an undokai obento if you ask my husband! : ) A fresh salad with goma dressing. We had Jasmine tea and also lemonade (to quench our thirst) and grape soda for lunch for a special treat. I also baked homemade Tollhouse chocolate chip walnut cookies from scratch the night before! I want our obento to be something they completely look forward to all day! I really put a lot of effort, thought and care into it. It has to be visually pleasing as well as tasty. Red and green very important colors for an obento! : )
Homemade cookies from scratch!
Just finished lunch, now having a few cookies to enjoy before he started back in with the undokai.
Noah ate so much, he was now taking a rest on the leisure sheet.
The, I just had a huge delicious lunch look!
The musical number. Branden had a blue bandana in this pic.

The Father's Club tug of war! Noboru being in the Father's Club. He was 3rd from the left in this pic. They worked a lot of the events they also did patrolling during this too. So they are very active. They also have meeting's/get together's a few times a year.
Go guys. Then they switched positions/sides.
They have a red versus white. Pump up! A few times during undokai. It's quite amazing to watch and experience. Red red red!!! They jump, cheer. Pound drums. Then the white team goes and screams and hollars...white white white and they equally pound their drums. Then...the red goes again and they banter like this twice during the undokai. Really gets the crowd all pumped up!
Our score board! And the Japanese flag proudly waving!
The tug of war...1st graders to the 4th graders! This was a big one!
Noboru working this event. Along with the other "Father's Club" dad's.
Yochien undokai lasts like 3 hours tops. So it's short and simple. However elementary school undokai on the other hand, lasts an entire day. Noah poor kid was definitely getting ready for it to be over. By now it was 2:45pm-ish. I admit, I was a bit ready for this thing to be over with too. Good thing I made the crust/dough that morning, because I was in no mood to start dinner making. Physically, I was tired and the sitting outside in the heat all that time. Wow. So glad dinner was easy for that night.
And yet another event Noboru helped at. Branden was done event wise by now. And we were just waiting for it to be over. The weather that day? Melting hot. Super hot, a real scorcher. Hottest weather we've ever had for Branden's undokai in all the 4 years he's been at elementary school.
We all picked our own shave ice on the way out. I picked half lemon and half peach. OMG! Peach is so good! Noah had green apple and grape. And Branden had peach, green apple and grape. Noboru had lemon and strawberry. He always picks strawberry! : ) The quick fold tarp was so quick, so much so....I was surprised it took that short of time to unfold. I think it was faster then our UV umbrella we used last year and the years before for elementary school undokai's, hmm. We were in the car in no time. I also had a few seconds to chit chat some with Kenny's dad before heading into the car.
Many sweat stains on this hat. Branden got 1st place for 1 event and 2nd place for 2 events (this says for 2nd place..sorry all his other stickers he sweated right off). So not too bad. I was so busy juggling 2 boys picture taking last Saturday for undokai that I am wondering how I will manage next year when both Branden and Noah are at undokai together.


A red vs. white face off! : ) This really gets everyone pumped!


The start of the half time performance. All grades did so wonderful!


Go Father's Club! Tug of war! : )