Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Heading to the salon today! : )

Just a quick post, I'm heading to the hair salon today. My appointment is at 9:30 am this morning. You know how I get those Japanese thermal hair straightening things done to my hair twice a year. Well, it's time for my twice a year straightening and today is the perfect day (I made my appointment last night). Hubby is home today, so he will be home with Noah, meanwhile B will be at school. It takes quite a few hours to get it done, so I can bring myself a few magazines, I'll take that People magazine, I just got at Costco and read it again, ha ha ha and a few other mags as well. Just sit, relax and enjoy my morning and afternoon at the salon. Let them massage my shoulders a bit, and make my hair as straight as a pin and have them get my hair ready for Spring and Summer (I am so over winter already, lol, bring on Spring, he he : ). I'm going to have them just trim off any dead ends, I don't want a hair cut, type hair cut. Man my hair is so long right now and I'm going to keep it long for now. So today I'll be spending just an afternoon on myself for a change, relaxing and getting a chance to catch up on some reading. Have a great day everyone! : )

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I made a big tray of enchilada's last night and today Branden is on a field trip! : )

Now as most of you know, twice a week, I like to cook something that's not Japanese and that's only because if I ate Japanese food 7 days a week, I might go crazy, so I need to mix it up, I need variety. It's all in perspective though. My Japanese friends, say, "you eat western food twice a week?" (thinking that's a lot ha ha ha.) Meanwhile, my American family, says, "you eat Japanese food for 5 days, the rest of the week?" Ha ha ha. I guess it all just boils down to perspective, as I said. : ) And of course it varies week to week but that's about the way it goes in our house. So, anyway last night, I made chicken and cheese enchilada's. Man, were they good and we have enough that we will be having them for dinner tonight as well. Just thinking I get to eat those tonight makes me quite happy (just looking forward to it, is all: )! Ha ha ha. : )

After I boiled my chicken breasts and took all the funky or yucky bits off, I rinised it and shredded it. Seasoned the chicken so it just does't taste all blah, ha ha ha. And Noah helped me with dinner tonight! Because Branden was asleep, he was tired from yochien. That was my bowl of seasoned chicken in this picture here! : )

Here, Noah was keeping me company, I just fried the corn tortillas and I was blotting all the excess oil off each corn tortilla. I dislike overly greasy Mexican food, so blotted with my paper towel. Meanwhile Noah munched on a tiny bowl of goldfish crackers that are in the pic and drank his sippy cup of oolong tea. Noboru has had mornings shifts all week and has been home at 2:30 pm every day, so he has been helping with dinner, loading the dishwasher and he has been getting to eat dinner with us. It's been nice.
We enjoyed dinner and our night was quiet and just spent at home.: )

This morning, I woke up actually before my alarm clock. Wow that was weird. Ha ha ha. Since I am usually a night owl. Today, I knew I had to be up early and not be delayed under any circumstances because today is Branden's final field trip at his yochien. It's just for the older class. So no metal obento today, since there won't be an obento warmer around ha ha ha. Also, I was asked to give Genki-kun and his mom a ride to the yochien as well (she doesn't drive and that's more then okay and fine with me, the more the merrier : ) and she's a nice lady and B and her son are good friends, so of course and my pleasure), I asked them to be at my house at 8:05 am this morning. Kids all had to be at school by 8:40 today, no exceptions because of the field trip. So, I was worried about being late, I did not wanna be late (we arrived around 8:18 and with parking and walking into the school around 8:20 am and it was prefect timing, other mom's and kids were there, I waved to the teacher and drove back home with Noah). So that's why we left a bit early this morning. So, anyway back to my alarm, my alarm rings at 6:30 am. I walked downstairs and turn my alarm clock off at 6:20 am. Woke up B and we went downstairs. I started making lunch at 6:22 or so. Listening to Juice Newton, "Just call me angel in the morning baby" (anyone remember that song? LOL), what's in this obento? A ham and cheese sandwich in a Costco yeasty dinner roll. I toasted it a bit to make it softer. Some fries and some steamed green beans with butter,salt and pepper. Fresh fruit, honey dew melon and pineapple and a strawberry jelly. Because the weather has been so cold, the school sent home a letter that, the kids could wear their regular clothes today and their regular backpacks today. Just to make sure they wear their school shoes though. So to make sure he wasn't cold, when his class gets on the train today and goes wherever they are going. I put B in a pair of long john's. Then a turtleneck. And a Gap sweatshirt and his levi's jeans. And his red down filled coat. I also packed him a pair of gloves just in case, lol. Wet tissues just in case his hands get dirty, 2 packs of dry tissues in case he needs to blow his nose or any toilets are out of toilet paper, lol. And his lunch and leisure mat and such. Alright, I guess, I just can't help but always worry a bit. : )
All of us have to pick up our kids at the ward office between 3:00 pm and 3:15 pm today as they come back from the field trip. Then it will be off to swim club and then by that time (nearing 5pm), I'll probably be exhausted and thank god we are having leftover enchilada's for dinner. Woohoo! Anyway, I got a whole house to clean right now and a treadmill that is calling my name to be walked on. Hey, I have been keeping my resoltuion since January about getting more excercise. I've been gettings tons since January and I'm still at it, ha ha. Anyway, Wednesday's are my busiest days, just wanted to update everyone just a bit! : )
PS, Mitsuko is coming to Branden's first grade ceremony thing, whatever it's called for entering the first grade. I'm in a bit of a rush right now, but hopefully you guys know what I mean and that will be the first week of April, I think. : ) She will be staying the night, one night here at our home. PSS, I think Noboru wants to go somewhere before Branden starts the first grade because B will be off school for a 1 or 2 week period or so. I think the hubby mentioned going somewhere for 4 days. Not sure though. We'll see. Gah! I gotta go! : )

Sunday, February 24, 2008

American Idol! : )

Saturday's recap, the show took place in Nebraska, which is right next to Colorado, where I'm from. So it was nice to watch the Nebraska show.

The first guy who came out, came bearing gifts. His name was Chris and he also had brought a photo album he had of Kelly Clarkson. he apparently was a Kelly Clarkson fan. Meanwhile Paula was delayed so she did not judge this performance, just Randy and Simon did. Simon kept Paula's and his own stuffed animal or "the bribe" as Simon called the gifts, ha ha ha. So, Chris sang his song, he sang, a Kelly Clarkson song and he unfortunately didn't make it. Oh well, he seemed like a nice guy though! But they offered him another gig for the local station or whatever, so he was pleased as punch anyway : )

Another worthy mentionable, was "arm wrestling girl", she seemed like a nice gal, sure enough. But she mentioned she was a very good arm wrestler and most people couldn't beat her. She offered to arm wrestler Simon, he declined. She sang her song, but on her way out, Paula agreed to arm wrestle her, she beat Paula in no time flat. : )

Sarah, the goth wrestling girl. She said her wrestling alter ego was something like Lady Mort/Mord? I didn't quite get that. She was a friendly bigger gal, and dressed goth, black eye makeup and hair, white face makeup. She did this evil villain type sinister laugh. And this faux British accent, off and on. So, in she came, a bit surprise from the judges. She sang and didn't make it. Simon says and get ready for this one "Don't take this are just really strange Sarah". She seemed like a nice gal though, a bit odd, but nice. : )

Last one I will talk about was this girl sang and she made it. I didn't even catch her name. So anyway the funny part is, as she was on the escalator, as she was with her parents, she held up her golden ticket and said "I will prove to Simon, I am America's Next Top Model" OMG, did anyone else catch that, blooper??? Hello, wrong show!!! American Idol, *not* America's next Top Model!!!! You could tell she caught it, after the fact, but man, that was a classic! : )

Sunday's show from Miami!
I have a lot I would like to discuss from Sunday. But the one that sticks out the most is the only one I will talk about only because it's so memorable.

Julie Dubela, age 16. She was apparently on a TV show called American Junior's when she was age 12. She made it to the top 20, on that junior show. She danced her routine that she must have done when she was 12 for her fellow American Idol contestants. Anyway, when she came into the audition, Simon said, 'wow you are confident". Randy said, "what an entrance". She told them how she was on the show American juniors blah blah blah. They said, wow that was a fantastic show, not quite sure if they were making a joke of it or being sincere, anyway. So she sang, a Janis Joplin song. She didn't make it. Simon tells her..."Julie, have you ever been called precocious?" Her reply, "what does that mean?" Randy cracks up and says, "that's a classic right there", Simon said, "stop play acting in front of the camera", she said, "I am just being me, I'm not acting". Simon says, "take my advice, go to Hollywood and be an actress" She was in shock. They said her performance was too overly rehearsed. She admitted to practicing in front of the mirror. She was surprised they really didn't like her. And the judges were not going to change their minds. After she left, Paula said, "she's been over indulged" and Simon said, "she needs a reality check", as she was leaving down the corridor, she said, how she gave up singing at a ball game today for trying out on AI and it wasn't worth it. And to take her advice and not watch American idol.: ) What did Noboru think of Julie? He said, "she doesn't have a bad voice, I think she sang very nice." : ) My own take was this, I agree with the judges, plain and simple. However, even me, I couldn't help myself. I am a softy at heart, I also felt a pinch sorry for her afterwards. : )

Friday, February 22, 2008

Our Friday in Makuhari! : )

On Friday, we all picked up Branden from school, I had an outfit for him, waiting in the car so he could change clothes along the way. And before you know it, we were off. Heading to Costco in Makuhari, which as many of you know, is just so gosh darn far for us, that we seldom make the drive but maybe 4 times a year? Or something like that. I think the last time we were there was in October? I always blog my trips to Costco because I just rarely get to go there, so it's worthy of a post for me. He he. I was really wanting to buy the boys some new rain coats. Branden's raincoat he has now is a size 6, and he's six now so, he certainly could wear it this year obviously. But I was just hoping to buy a size 7 and stick it away in his closet. And Noah's is a size 2 and I really wanted to get him a new one. But no such luck this time : ( All they had were the firefighter ones and I really wasn't crazy for those for some reason (just a personal choice, sorry). So, I will just wait, I don't really wanna buy something we aren't too crazy about (now if next time, all they have is the firefighter ones, then I guess I might just have to buy those, although I will try to look elsewhere first though). They sold much cuter ones a few years back, because the ones the boys have now, we bought from Costco. Hmmm. I hope they get better ones in the next time I am there. Crosses fingers about that! : )

Branden in the parking area. : )

Loading up the car! : )

We stopped off at a yakiniku restaurant in Funabashi before taking the 1 to 1 and a half hour drive back home. And taking the highway is faster but it's expensive. We took the highway going to Costco today and it was like 2,300 yen or so. Like $23.00, just to ride the highway. And no way were we going to do that, to get back home, so we just road the normal roads back home which is why it took so long. Ha ha ha. : ) We 4 ate a lot of yakiniku, beef and chicken, veggies, kimchee all wrapped neatly in lettuce, yumm! Many bowls of rice later and more yakiniku (this was an, all you can eat place). We were stuffed. The kids and I had dessert, ice cream and crepes. Meanwhile Noboru started grilling some seafood stuff after we were finished with grilling our beef and chicken. He's so polite and I wouldn't have minded really when he grilled his seafood but he always waits until the end, lol. : )

So, Noboru was grilling his fish and squid. Or squidwards if you ask Branden what they are called when he's being silly! "Daddy's grilling Squidward", he's a character from Spongebob fwiw. Meanwhile Noah must have gotten confused and not recognized the squid. because he kept saying, "hi snake" "daddy's eating snake" "poor snake", The hubby, B and I all look at Noah a bit confused expression. I told him "No honey daddy's not eating snake, he's eating squid". His reply? "No that snake" "Hi, snake", I told Noboru, great our son thinks you are munching on snake. We both got a laugh about that a bit.

Okay now here's the skinny on what we brought back all the way back from Costco with us. Again, it's not much. But what the heck, I don't get to go there that often as you all know, so I always share my trip going. So here's what we brought. 3 packs of bacon, this is something we always keep and need in our house, I buy this on flying pig all the time too. It's a staple in our home, once a week, I always make a nice homemade breakfast usually on Saturday or Sunday. 2 are in the freezer right now and 1 pack of the bacon is in the fridge. 1 big Costco size pack of lean ground beef. That is another staple of ours, and I buy this on flying pig about every 2 month's as well (unless I know I am actually going to Costco). I like the lean ground beef, to make homemade meatballs or hamburg or whatever.
Toilet paper, I think we had about 8 rolls left, but I do love my American toilet paper, ha ha ha. Honestly though, I like that it's unscented, I've said it before, I am quite sensitive down there and I need unscented TP. And it seems most Japanese TP is scented, so it's easier for me to just buy this, plus it's soft. Dish washing liquid. Mr. Clean for my kitchen floors and toilets and such. Kleenex. Just boring stuff really. : )

Now the kids have had a nice stash of otoshidama, just waiting for them to use since January. They really had nothing to buy. Most of it they will save for a rainy day. But we agreed they could use 10,000 yen of it, 5,000 each to buy DVD's. And so they had been dying to go to Costco today to pick out their movies. Branden obviously went for the 2 Ultraman DVD's, ha ha ha. Noah chose, Mickey Mouse and Little Einsteins. And they both made a joint agreement in buying the Pink Panther set of DVD's. They are Japan region DVD's, so they get to watch these in the minivan. The goggles obviously we bought, it's for our child's swim class.

Speedo brand kids goggles again. They had the same kind they sold last year, sorta glad about that, ha ha ha. I bought the pack that had Branden's fav pair of green goggles. Although his goggles are still good and not needing a replacing yet, I am glad I have these so when it's time to replace them, he can be a whole new Mr. Green goggles with these, ha ha ha. And since Noah will start swimming this July, he will be using the blue pairs (I have the pair from the last pack as well, so he now has 2 brand new pair of blue goggles. So he will be Mr. blue goggles come this July, ha ha ha. : )

Those yummy yeasty dinner rolls! OMG, I love these! And the muffin trio. Our family isn't crazy about the choco ones, they are just so sweet, too sweet, we think. We usually just eat the blueberry ones and the banana nut ones. My favorite are the banana nut ones though! : )

A case of butter microwave popcorn, yumm. Maple cookies, oh man those are good. Goldfish crackers, the boys love these so much. Tortilla chips. And Skippy peanut butter because I am going to be making some homemade peanut butter cookies soon. : )

And our Costco is now selling magazines now, this made me so happy. I saw this about Heath and Michelle, and the whole story seems so sad. And I have liked Michelle since I watched her on Dawson's Creek. My heart goes out to her, their daughter and his family. And when I saw this, I just wanted to read it. I have read it, and I'm glad just really glad I bought this. A really touching story.

It always seems that after a trip to Costco so much separating has to get done. My hubby got the yucky job, he opened the ground beef pack and split it into 1/3's and put them in gallon freezer bags and tossed them in the freezer. Meanwhile I got the clean job (thanks honey : ) and I split up the muffins into Ziploc freezer bags. Tossed 2 in a freezer bin (not the same freezer bin we put the meat into though) and put the other in the fridge.

I also split up the rolls, putting 1 bag in the freezer and 1 bag in the fridge. And the tiniest bag sits on the green counter for whoever wants a roll. Ha ha ha. Geeze after putting all that stuff away, we all took showers, baths and retreated to the living room. Am feeling really glad the weekend is here. There's just been so much going on lately with getting B ready for elementary school and stuff. Seems like the weekends are like even more important these days. Ha ha ha. Oh well, just glad the weekend is here, yay!!! : )

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Preparing for the first grade...the Japan edition! Part three! : )

Okay you guys, I am offically done with buying the school supplies, bags, musical instrument, badges, etc etc. I am done with almost 2 month's to spare. Well, okay, I think 1 month and 3 weeks to spare is more like it he he, but I'm glad I got this all worked out and we can now just sit back, and not stress! Phew! I have kept my word, that I would blog almost every detail I could regarding Branden starting the first grade. So many reasons why, I chose to do that really but, for one, when Noah starts elementary in the way *way* off future, I can come back here and refresh my mind and sorta remember what I had to get for Branden, so it will help and the pictures will make me instantly remember back to now. So that is my #1 reason. But also I have so many friends and family who live in America or elsewhere and they are just really curious "how I prepared getting ready for the first grade in Japan", since it is different then how we prepare for the first grade in America, or "what are the main things we had to buy sending our child off to school in Japan", those types of things they will really enjoy reading about. And also for a few of my good/close girlfriends in Japan, that have younger kids, it will give them at the very least, a "loose idea" of what they may face themselves in the future. And heck, getting even a "general idea" is sometimes better then someone getting no help or idea at all, right? I know you are all smart enough to know it varies from school to school, gosh I think that's a "no brainer" and goes without saying though really. Some of your kids might play a pianica like B, some kids schools might choose the flute or harmonica, know what I mean? : ) Your school might require a 20 piece crayon while other schools might choose an 18 piece, kwim? Anyways it obviously varies, we all know that, it comes without saying, and if this can help a couple of my close, fellow gaijin girlfriends when they send off their kids, by giving them a "loose idea" and I helped even by just a single dot, then I would be happy I could help. Again, though, this just gives you a general idea. I am clearly not saying, buy this, because each school is different, but I trust you are all smart enough to just appreciate I am sharing with you the general idea of what you might be dealing with when your child starts first grade. So anyway take a good look at the first picture, it's all lumped in there. : ) I will try to explain things in better detail in pictures/pics down below. : )

This was the blue booklet we were given the other day at the meeting. Our school waited until February giving us our "what to buy list", my girlfriends school gave them theirs (her son is going to a different elementary) they got their "what to buy booklet" back in January. So, I basically was in a holding pattern and couldn't finish my shopping until I finally had the booklet in my hands! See how many pages are in this booklet? So many things to buy, so many lists. So many new things. It was all a bit overwhelming. Because at yochien and we have had experience sending B to 2, because we moved, when we moved into this house we built, remember. But with yochien it was easier. Because, you have to #1, buy uniform at the specified place, #2 Buy all schools supplies from the actual yochien at least that was our experience with *both* the yochiens. #3 put name tags on everything #4 buy an obento set for your child and that it's. Now with elementary it's a totally different ball game here. You buy the backpack, from your choice, a choice of a hundred different companies, so the leg work is up to the parents (again some schools don't need the backpack but again this is just our experience with it), And the school supplies are not to be bought at the school, the elemetary gives you a list and you get to go on a wild goose chase and find what's on the list yourself. It's not so hard really at all, just a bit different. Not hard, just different. : )

Here's some of our list. We hit 1 DIY the day we finally got our list. And we hit the little mall around here and we finished with the list. Each stop, we would cross things off. Buy and cross off yet again. The little mall around here, had better stuff then the DIY. More character stuff that Branden liked. And we also ran into our neighbor buying school supplies for her grandson at the same time, ha ha ha. : ) I think we had all been waiting for the list. Only advice I would offer to my girlfriends, is this. As soon as you get that "to buy list" from your own child's school. Go, go go!!! Because the good and popular stuff that the kids like sells out quick, first and fast! : )

Different page then the pic above but as you can imagine we had 2 pages of stuff we had to buy. Some stuff we already had like it said to bring a "lunch cloth", because they place their lunch trays on them. We have tons of those already, so we have no need to buy new ones really. Okay I might get 1 or 2 new ones, for B, but that's it maybe. : )

Pictures worth a thousand words right? I am so glad they also had a lot of drawn pictures with measurements in this thick blue booklet because the visual was really helpful. Otherwise I woulda just thought, they need laundry hooks because, why??? Ha ha ha! But seeing the visual, I clearly could understand and see, okay they hang them behind their chairs. And that is apparently according to my girlfriend Rumi-san who has 2 daughters going there, she says the kids will hang some of their homemade tinier bags from there.

With the help of the drawing in the booklet, I found what we needed right away in the laundry department at the DIY, I got the blue laundry hook thingies. Grabbed a pair of the "inside shoes" and this week, with help from this pic, I will indeed write Branden's name according to the directions. They want it done a certain way, so I will get that done this week.

Yup, exactly like the little drawing, these hang in a loop, just like the picture they drew. Got it, and checked it off the list! Ha ha ha : )

The yellow plastic recatangular thing in the back, is a drawer. Apparently kids need to bring their own drawer and they just slide it into their desk that has a slot or opening for this. The DIY, had a beautiful bright orange plastic drawer. And a weird color blue. Don't get me wrong, I am a mom of 2 boy's, so I do love blue, it was just an odd colored blue, sorta smurfy blue, if you know what I mean. So, we didn't get a drawer from the DIY, although I did like that vibrant orange color. I wanted to see what the next store had, if not I'd go back for the orange. : ) So at the next stop when we were at the mall, and shopping for school supplies again, they had a light light light sky blue plastic drawer. Wasn't really my favorite shade either, nor Branden's (alright, I admit I am a bit picky with shades of colors, lol). A nice vibrant blue woulda been nice. But anyway, I digress. They also had 2 colors I really liked, they had the beautiful orange drawer, same from the DIY and they also had a super happy yellow colored drawer as well. Probably if you know me, that is like our 2 favorite colors, yellow and orange, so we knew we were getting one, but we decided on the yellow color. So long story short, we got B the happy yellow drawer, ha ha ha. He needed a new umbrella, different size then the size he used in yochien and the color yellow, since most "first graders" use yellow for safety (yellow hats, umbrellas etc). On the list it said we needed the clay hard mat with shapes etc, and it said we could use the one we used in yochien. However the one he had from yochien was from his original yochien and it was an odd blue-ish green color that our old yochien sold us, and so we just replaced it to yellow.

We were told to send Branden to school with 1KG of clay and a clay case. We found it at the mall. Crossed it off the list as well.

What's in this happy yellow drawer? Clay, pencil case, crayons, colored pencils, the Mario character scotch tape, and kids need scotch tape at our school. We bought everything according to our list, doubled checked things to make sure we didn't make any mistakes.

Okay, this wasn't on the list, but we knew he would need a automatic sharpener, and this will be great in his room on his new desk! : )

Again, right down the list, kids are expected to clean the elementary school and so they told us to make sure our child brings 2 wash rags, and if you look on the right, indeed that is a picture of little kids cleaning the school or whatever. My Japanese girlfriends when we had coffee and tea the other week, asked me, who cleans your school in the United States? I said, "the janitors do." They were like, wow. Again, it was just interesting for them to hear that each country might have different ways. I also told them, I have no problem with either of my sons helping clean the school at all. Not at all actually. Plain white masks for serving food. I was thinking of sending him with the cuter character masks, but Noboru said, "no way" the list said to send him with plain white ones for serving food. I said, okay, okay. So plain sterile looking white ones for serving food it is then. Ha ha ha. Glue, was also on the list, we got him a glue stick with liquid glue. A half red/blue pencil, this was on the list. And even Rumi-san mentioned the importance of this red/blue pencil for our school. The school marker. The marker that is needed for writing names etc on clothes and everything, I love these, he he he. I bought plain ol' scotch tape at the DIY first before we saw the Mario one, again they didn't have much characters, and when we went to the mall, they had cooler stuff most kids would prefer and they had the Mario tape, so what the heck, the plain scotch tape will go into the gift wrapping box of stuff we have upstairs and it will go to good use. Ha ha ha : ) Hey, I do remember how it felt to be a kid you know. : ) Everyone showing up with their fave character, and I would hate to send my kid with brand X or a good named brand one but not a character one, that would be bad. Again not the end of the world for us as adults as we can clearly see, but for kids, this sorta stuff is important, so what the hay. I am happy he has his Mario tape. : )

These 3 things I got at the Daiso/100 yen shop. He needs 1 cup for rinsing after brushing his teeth after lunch time at school. And I bought him this cheapie, Cars one. I bought this because it's light. And the kids will be lugging this cup off their backpack every day. And it needs to be light. Also at the meeting the school had the other day, they said we needed these bands for crayons and such. These bands are usually used for the winter obento because it doesn't close properly with a snap or such.

See the crayons already have a button snap closure, I personally thought that was good enough. I didn't see the need for a band over the crayons. But what the heck. I am not making the rules. I am just merely following the rules.: ) So, we certainly did buy a band for these crayons, ha ha ha.

Again, they made note of saying we needed a band for the clay box, but gosh the clay box has a snap on it, one snap on each side actually. Don't think it's in danger of drying out. But again, I am merely following their rules. So, again, we bought a band for them, as they asked us to.

According to the meeting. We did make it exactly like requested. What do we have here? One box of clay with band, one box of crayons with band, and one box of coupy pencils with band. I hope you are smiling away with me, right now! I told myself. Do not question said list. Just follow said this! Do not question said list, just follow said list...repeat repeat repeat! Ha ha ha! : ) Sometimes it's good to just find the humor in things, right?

In yochien, for Branden, we bought little inexpensive self adhesive labels and hand wrote his name on them all, for his yochien things. But with elementary, the sheer amount of things needed to be labelled is why we are making our labels from our home computer. Most of my Japanese girlfriends have been persistent about telling me and asking me. "Gina have you ordered your name tags for Branden's math set yet", that has been like the #1 question and advice I get from them all. And because so many of them tell me this piece of advice, I know it was indeed pretty important. Again, I don't know why if it's because ordering and making them takes a while or what. But they said to not even try to hand write it on the math set because #1, the math set pieces are small. And #2, Branden's first name and our last name is quite long. So after so much thought about it, we decided it was best to just make the name tags/labels on our own. Why 3 sets of stickers? Different things, need different stickers, I'll try to explain better down below. : )

By looking at the picture, you can see, crayons, scissors, tape, rulers, coupy pencils etc, this is best for those types of things. And you can see this set can create stickers in 4 different sizes, depending on the size we need, so I was happy we found these. This was only about 500 or 600 yen. About $6.00 US, give or take.

See the designs we can make, we can make Branden's name and put a picture of a dolphin, or a colored star. We can design them really cool. I look forward to decorating his crayons now. Also, I think now because this way is easier, I will do this for Noah, when he enters yochien next October. It will save me getting writer's cramp, like we got last year! Ha ha ha! : )

Now this set is for everything that could come into contact with water, so water proof stickers are needed and why we needed a whole other computer packet for these. Now, we can make these this week, for his chopsticks, tooth brush, toothpaste, cup for rinsing his mouth when he brushes his teeth at school, etc etc.

These are specifically for the math set. The one I have gotten the most advice for and thank you Rumi-san for telling me! : ) See how in this math set, little pieces are in various shapes and sizes. They all have to have name tags on them.

Oh my gosh, friends, is this a lot of stuff to do, to get prepared or what? I think now you will understand why sometimes my blog gets a bit quiet. It's because I have been just so gosh darn busy getting Branden ready for elementary school. And this week or next week, I will be busy yet again making labels with these on my computer.

A seat cushion/safety hood! This is sorta a silly story and I am sharing it. At the lunch thing the other week. One of my Japanese girlfriends, asked the other one. Keep in mind one has an older child in elementary already and the other is a first timer, like me. So, she asked the other mom. And I am translating it into English obviously. But she said, "do you think I should buy a whole other safety hood or can we use the one from yochien still." I thought it was a fair and good question. We both turned to the mom who has been down this road once before. And she says. "I think it's a good idea to buy the elementary sized safety hood, because surely their heads have grown since they were age 3 and their butts have grown since age 3. Man she had a point. We were laughing our heads off about this. Yeah, the other mom said they are now age 6, their little heads and butts must have doubled in size. Okay we thought, definitely this was in our opinion a must buy. And a deinfite "not reuse" from yochien. Ha ha ha. Also we said, the chair size is larger at elementary so a larger sized seat cushion/safety hood was definitely needed. So, when we went to the mall, we bought the safety hood for the elementary school kids size. A nice much bigger size then the yochien one, ha ha ha. The yochien one, we will save for Noah for next year. Also a cover is needed for this. We can pick, any character or design we or our child likes. It's up to you. We ordered ours already. : )

These 4 things were the only things that were made available for sale at our elementary school. In the Yamaha case, is the pianica, each child at our school gets to learn to play this. The math set with the many many pieces inside. I will no doubt be spending an hour or two this week just me and this math set, sticking the self made stickers, from the computer onto each of the many many pieces of this. Oh the joy! And the fun! Ha ha ha, wink, wink! Can you feel my pain? or what? Ha ha ha! : ) A notebook that parents and teachers will write notes to each other back and forth. And 2 name tags, I flipped them over for safety/privacy because the name of my child's school is on them. As most of you are parents or have had kids, I am sure you no doubt, understand! : )

And part of documenting this experience is also sharing the slight mistakes I made as well. And I don't mind sharing those at all. I bought this pencil case, many month's ago. And I thought it was fine, I assumed pencil cases were all created equal, lol. Apparently not, and at the meeting the other day, the lady said the pencil case, has to have a slot for each pencil, and that it had to have the sharpener inside and blah blah blah. The old school Japanese kind/type, that my husband used back in the day. So, it didn't matter really, the pencil case in this picture was only 400 yen or so, and I just traded Branden's cheapie 100 yen pencil case, he had been using at Kumon for this much cooler Spongebob one. So, no worries at all. He is now using this Spongebob one at Kumon. Good it didn't go to waste. But heck, if that is the only mistake I made about entering first grade. I'd say, I did a fantastic job! : )

All the pencils, all the stuff. The pile is growing as we speak. The scissors, the spongebob ones, I am so happy we got those. We did not find Mario ones and B wanted the Spongebob ones really badly, so we are happy we have those!

This is the style that our school wanted. But again, each school is different check with your school, let them give you, your own pamplet and list of what you need, obviously. But in any case this is what we went with. Mario is quite popular is Japan, Branden plays DS lite all the time, he has about 5 different Mario games, so he loves the character. So we got him this. It's really, "in" for little boys around our area. : )

Each slot for each pencil. The sharpener and space for eraser, all on this side.

Other various stuff can be put, on the opposite side of the pencil case.

Now, is time for the handmade bag section. A long, long time ago, before Branden started yochien, I think he just turned 3 and it wasn't April yet. A foreign girlfriend of mine, who had older children then Branden. Had told me in hopes to help me. That she had heard that a homemade school bag was better. Not to buy a store bought school bag? That in the old days they said "you loved your child more" if you made it.", Now, both her and I both thought the idea of "loving your kids more based on if you could sew or not". To the both of us, it sounded absurd. Like a load of rubbish really. Granted neither of us could sew, ha ha ha. But, we both loved our own kids very much! However, her experience and my inexperience of living in Japan, I did follow her advice. I had Branden's yochien bags handmade and have always had all his bags handmade ever since. And we have heaps of them at our home. Extremely nice bags actually! So, even now, when someone asks me about yochien bags, first I have blogged about them a lot before. But, I always tell them the "tid bit" thing my once good friend told me. And I tell them, I personally think it's a a big load of crap! Ha ha ha. but, I give the the info anyway I heard and I know many of you have heard the same thing as well. And tell them it's up to them. So, anyways. back on track again. Bags were needed for elementary and we needed to buy them and I have been on such a search, and have been looking high and low for the cutest most adorable bags to send with my soon to be first grader. As the tag above says, they are all indeed homemade.

I love this set! The second, I saw this, I knew I had to have this. That it would belong to my son, if it wasn't the last thing I did! And by gosh, I got it! That's determination for ya! Ha ha ha! : ) I coulda used Branden's yochien set he already has. But, with starting a new school, it just sorta felt more special starting with a whole brand new set. The bag on the left is his shoe bag, it is what kids in Japan carry their "inside shoes" in back and forth from home to school. Kids from yochien all the way up to the bigger grades use shoe bags like this. Granted maybe in high school they might use an Adidas one, ha ha ha, but you get what I mean, I hope. : ) The other bag, let me explain. When I pick up B at the yochien bus stop, I often see the elementary kids walking past us in a nice neat group and it gives me a chance to check out what the majority of the kids carry. And they carry hand held book bags like this (same exact look and size as used in yochien). I asked my girlfriend, what is that for? And I thought you weren't supposed to need book bags anymore. She said, no, they still use them and that kids have so much to carry home on Fridays that most of them use them to carry stuff in, sorta distribute all the weight of stuff they carry back and forth. Okay, I said, it made sense. Genki's kun's older sister was using one as well as were 90% of the kids in the group. And it was his mom, who I spoke to about it. Branden is just crazy for Spongebob, as most little kids are nowadays. So, this is going to be a hit! I love the colors on the bag. I just love it. This set made my son, so happy! : )

This is the backside of the bag, Patrick playing in the bubbles. And Spongebob on the shoe bag! I have had these tucked away since the beginning of November! I will be sewing on the name tag for both these bags for Branden in the coming weeks.

And the inside of the book bag has a nice little pocket as well. : ) And has a lining, so I personaly know it's a good quality item!

Everyone at our school, also needs a "backpack bag" at our elementary school. Rumi-san told me this back in December, I got the measurements from her over Christmas break, thank god. : ) She told me the average bag size that most people bring. I actually asked for her tape measure, so I could get the measurements of her daughters bag, in CM, ha ha ha. The bag was 30x40cm. Standard school size basically. And when I was at the meeting a few weeks back, when I saw their backpack bag, it was the same size, my girlfriends daughters have and that I got for B. This bag has strings to hold as a backpack, but it is most importantly to be placed over their sturdy elementary Japanese backpack. This backpack bag carries our kids PE uniform back and forth to and from school. It has to be sturdy. And it should be cute! I had been on a hunt since December for this backpack bag. I found many many of them. But most of them looked the same. Ha ha ha. Most were blue, had pokemon or other various characters on them. I saw this one and I did not buy it. Which was so stupid of me. Because the second I saw it, the bright happy yellow color, hit me. You guys know I like happy colors for the boys. The color attracted me, and I liked it was sporty, with soccer balls etc. So, it was a bit different then the character blue ones, I saw mostly of. Though nothing wrong at all with those. So, anyway, I didn't buy it. And someone else bought it and it was gone, sniff, sniff : (. Two days later, I was kicking myself for not buying it. I checked the persons site everyday to see if they would make another one. No such luck! : ( I was so angry with myself. A whole month later, I gave up by now, but checked anyway and I saw the lady must have made another one, and was selling a whole new one. I did not wait another second, I bought it! I am so happy we have this! And I am just so happy with the color, so was Branden and the hubby! Noboru really loved this actually! Oh and the bottom of this bag is actually jean material, so it's so sturdy! : )

Inside lined, quality item. This thing is made really sturdy and well. And the eye catching color, is what I liked the most about it! And homemade, was a big plus. I think, I got this for 1,000 yen or 1500 yen. I thought I paid a very fair price for this especially since it was homemade! I would buy from this lady again, totally! Same as with the Spongebob bag lady, as well because, she made really cute things too, I've actually bought something for Noah from the same lady who made Branden's Spongebob school set, up above! : )

And we also needed 3 small bags for various different things. I think, I shared a pic of my Scooby bag, I bought for B, a few month's back with the fab contrasting polka dots inside lining! Well, I also bought a total of 3 bags from the same lady. I think I am fast becoming a regular customer of hers! Ha ha ha! I buy them because her bags are unique, they are original. They are cute and in characters my son personally really loves! And her prices are really affordable. I love homemade stuff that's affordable, I bought a Scooby and Shaggy bag, a Snoopy bag that was sitting under a palm tree all kicked back and relaxing, that is why I bought that bag, because of the palm tree, made me think of Branden and all his Guam and Hawaiian adventures. And the Mickey Mouse bag, I thought he'd really like as well, since he loves going to Disneyland and Disney Sea so much.

Here's what the other side of those 3 bags look like. Just Scooby on one side, a Scottish bagpipe playing Snoopy, ha ha ha how adorable! And 2 of the 3 nephews of Donald, not sure if this is Huey and Duey or which ones, ha ha ha. But, I think Branden will have no trouble picking out which bag is his, from his friends, ha ha ha! He is taking very cool, but very unique homemade bags. I also will be sewing in name tags for all these bags this week or next week sometime as well. Sigh, so much to do still. Smiling...: )

I love how this lady, sews in these contrasting colors inside, that I have talked about a few month's back when I mentioned the Scooby bag back then. So, you know they are indeed homemade. The nice colorful colors. The polka dots, I find this lady, so original in the stuff she comes up with, the things she makes! I guess, I am just this ladies biggest fan of her sewing, : ) she truly is talented and unique. And I will continue to buy things from her! And her prices are just fabulous! I wish I had her talent, with sewing, but as I don't, I will just remain, a fan and customer of hers! : ) I actually, honestly have 4 favorite sewing ladies, and I check their sites every week at least 3 times, just looking to see if anything is new. Ha ha ha. I am such a mom, living in Japan with school aged kids, ha ha ha, looking for homemade bags and such! I feel like such a nerd but I like looking for good quality affordable stuff like that. It's fun. : )

This will give you an example, one bag we need to put, Branden's glue, scissors and tape in it. He can decide for himself what bag is for what, but this is just an example. So, this bag will hold these 3 things.

And there you go! It's a bit bulky now because I didn't take the scissors out of the cardboard and wrapper etc. But it will be like this and hang behind his seat with those laundry hooks. remember those laundry hooks? ha ha ha! : )

Another bag will hold his lunch cloth and ohashi/chopstick. And the final bag would hold his toothbrush, toothpaste and light cup.

And then he gets to tote this cute little Scooby and Shaggy back and forth, ha ha ha. Oh and these cartoons are on in Japan, they are on sattelite every day. Scooby comes on twice each day, at least that I know of, so Japanese kids in the know, do know these characters, and watch these cartoons. So it's not like he is taking some unknown cartoon character to school with him, ha ha ha. : )

Oh and remember that lunch expert lady who gave that talk the other week? She told us, that taking those fork,spoon and chopstick sets were fine for yochien but no longer allowed for elementary school. : ( Again these are just the school rules from our school, it might vary though.: ) We have a few old sets of them that Branden has used through his yochien years. I guess, they go unused for the time being, ha ha ha. So, chopstick only for B, from now on, at least where school is concerned. : )

So now, I take you back to the same picture from the beginning of this post. Sigh, was that a lot of buying, choosing, deciding and preparing or what? I am just so glad, I decided to share with you, our journey we have been taking with regards to getting Branden ready for elementary school. It's been a long road. We still have a ton of things to do still. But all, in all, I think we are doing, okay. We have been pretty busy getting all this organized, and situated! Really busy actually and honestly! : )

And we have all the stuff, I just shared and showed all safely tucked away in 2 bags, minus the spongebob pencil case that he is now using for Kumon, but hey, I readily admit that teeny tiny blunder with the pencil case. But on the bright side? At least, I didn't send Branden to school with the wrong pencil case though, at least, right? I caught the mistake before it ever happened. Or at least anyone else knew about it, ha ha. Phew! : )

I was waiting on this to be delivered when I took the other pictures, but got this 2 days after. But in anycase. This is the cool seat cushion cover/safety hood cover. It's pretty, bright and colorful. I like the animals on there a lot. : )

Anyway, regarding the school supplies, we are done! Like 100% done! Totally and completely done! I almost have to pinch myself, I am so happy I am done, type done! Ha ha ha. Anyway, I am trying not to get all sappy, but again, I am really happy, I am blogging our journey both good and bad, about Branden starting the first grade in Japan, because I sorta feel like you all are somehow taking part in it with us. Sorta peeking in and seeing how things went. Are we getting ready? : ) And so on. And I think the day he does finally walk off to school, with fresh school supplies safely tucked away in his backpack,that morning, I will probably be crying along with the other mother's of the new group of first grader's. A sign my child is growing up, ahhh that morning, I imagine will be bitter sweet. And I will blog about it and hopefully you friends can help me wipe away my tears, even if just virtually! : ) Sigh, so anyway....the journey to the first grade continues in our house.... : )