Sunday, October 19, 2008

Noah's yochien interview, yummy meatball sandwiches and birthday shopping at the Gap!!! : )

This was me stuffing the yochien "entrance money" into an envelop on Thursday morning as we made our way to the little Catholic yochien for Noah's interview and test. For many of you living in places, other then Japan, I am sure you are thinking what's "entrance money" : ) So let me explain, it's a fee that we pay to start or enroll our children in yochien/kindergarten. This yochien we go to, the entrance money fee is quite low, it's only 51,000 yen, or about $510.00 US for you Americans. This money you will never get back and best just consider it a gift to the school. : ) Now our last school was a lot more expensive to enroll and we paid, 100,000 yen entrance money, or $1,000.00 US for you Americans. That was outrageous right? Ha ha ha. Yup, things you just get used to. : ) Also, for the kids starting at Noah's school in April 2009, the entrance fee will be increased at our current yochien to $600.00. Plus don't forget to also add the cost of uniform, both winter uniform, with wool hat and prep jacket, and summer uniform and straw hat, etc, gym outfit. And ours also has our own regulation school shoes with French looking flag on them. : ) Consider the uniforms, another jaw dropping expense. : ) Again prices do depend on the school obviously. There's no set price for the entire country of Japan, ha ha ha. As I am sure you all know, things vary. Our last yochien for example, the uniform was only $450.00 US, for the clothes part. However this yochien, the uniform is more expensive. Noah will be going to (the same one B graduated from), has more costly uniforms then Branden's, original yochien. And I think we will have to pay about 65,000 yen for Noah's uniforms this year. $650.00. Plus don't forget to chalk up the monthly 20,000 yen to attend the school. Plus hidden fees that come up every month. Like paying the heating bill in winter or buying pictures, etc, etc. And you will understand how expensive it is to send kids to yochien/kindergarten in Japan. Ha ha ha. Anyway, just thought it might be interesting for you not living in Japan. And again, the cost really depends on the school and I only speak for our school and my son's and our experience, but yeah it varies from school to school, but it gives you at least some sort of idea at least. : ) So for Noah to start, between uniform and entrance money, supplies, etc, etc. not to mention obento goods, and school bags, seat covers that need to be handmade, I think $1500.00 is a low ball figure. Could be closer to $1700.00 US. Just to get started with school. I know for those of you in Japan, you already know this stuff, but I just thought it would be interesting for those of you not in Japan. : )
Application forms inside the yochien enrollment packet. And a picture of each child was needed. So, we didn't really bother to take a whole other picture, we just used a picture we had taken this summer in our backyard. Not a fancy picture, just something easy to just print out at home.

I think the good thing about coming back to this yochien. Besides the fact that I already have wonderful girlfriends and stuff from the mom's I made back when B went here. Is that I already know what to do at this yochien. I already know the little "ins and outs" of this school already. No surprises for me, ahh I like that. I know the personality of the principal etc and again, no surprises. I know about onigiri Wednesday's already and stuff and other little rules at our school. So yeah with that whole, "been there, done that" feeling, I guess I don't feel nervous this time around at all. And since I am a gaijin and I do constantly feel like I am "not in the know" or at least not in the know, as much as a typical Japanese mom is. And how I can sometimes feel like 3 steps behind every other Japanese mom, because gee, I never went to school in Japan, I didn't grow up with those songs, etc. I feel this time around the playing field is a bit more leveled and a bit more fair at least! So yay, and about time! Ha ha ha. *smiles* I do try my best. : )
No, we just let Noah wear regular clothes, overalls handed down from Branden and outlet shirt. : ) He just went regular. We did not gussy him up at all. Ha ha ha. At Branden's first yochien, the first interview was done in private, but they had a 2nd interview when all the other kids enrolling all took a mass test in one room. What shapes are the blocks. Square, circle, etc. Name that fruit. And then they flipped through a book and asked, questions. They showed a pic of an ugly witch and a princess and asked a 3 year old B at the time, which one was pretty. Our first yochien asked heaps of questions. This yochien we go to now. When Branden, entered this yochien, the test was small and to the point, just like 4 questions asked. And it was done entirely in private, between the principal and our family. I actually remember Noah at that interview and he was so tiny he couldn't even crawl yet, when B had his interview. Now years later and we were back, this time Noah's turn. Interview day! Thursday. Since we've been down this road before, twice for B, ha ha ha! So, we were sorta relaxed for Noah's interview, again, it was entirely in private, we went into the office and the principal and secretary and Noboru, Noah and I all sat down. Keep in mind the secretary, is very nice, has been to our house before, or when, I ran into her at the grocery this summer and I spent 5 minutes chatting with her in the fruit section. lol. So, we were all relaxed last week with one another, I didn't even wear makeup. I figured we have seen each other for years, why not. None of us strangers.And so, I hate to say this but, honestly it's true, there was no test for Noah at all. Nope, not a one! We went in....we hisashi buri-ed each other. Long time no see! We then spent the first 15 minutes talking about Branden. How was he doing in elementary school, they asked. We told them, he was doing well with his studies and how he was in the "Super team" and lost and, they laughed and we laughed. Then, they ohhed and ahhed about how much Noah had grown through the years ( well just because they basically saw him grow up, they've known him for so long). How excited they were to have him there finally, blah blah blah. The secretary played trains with Noah. And then, we all opened the yochien rule book. She told us, "you already know this stuff." We ran through it all again anyway, which was fine. What size yochien bags do we need. Blah blah blah, again Branden graduated from this yochein, we know this stuff already. But we went through it all anyway. Then we purchased Noah's school supplies, 5,000 yen (yet another expense, but we expected it already) and then they asked if I would be baking for next years bake sale. I shook my head and said, "for sure" And then they walked us out. And that was it. Easy peasy! Oh yeah, they did go and ask a few questions, from the questionnaire we filled out already. And they asked, "so Noah is potty trained already?" We said, yes. Just a few questions like that, but nothing major or asked directly to him at all. But I think for us, we mostly just caught up with how every one's been doing, then an outright test, like Branden had both times, poor Branden, lol. It was relatively painless. Actually sorta nice to catch up. : )
These are the school supplies the school sells to everyone at our yochien, so they can have the same as everyone else. Same scissors, same glue, same crayons. Same attendance booklet. And 2 yellow badges. In Japan, for the most part, kids start yochien, when they are age 3, but the school year starts in April. So whenever your kid is age 3 and it is April is when your child would begin yochien typically. Yes, some public yochien's start at age 4. And perhaps a few private yochiens too, I don't know. But ours is a private yochien and they start at age 3. And, then there is a class, for kids that are 3, yet it isn't April yet. So, they are the youngest kids, out of the whole school and that is the class Noah will be in. He will be a "baragumi" this January! : ) And again, it is different from school to school as you all know, and things and rules change with each school, obviously : ), I do have friends who started at different ages in Japan, but again, this is only our experience, with our school. But again this at least gives you an idea for those of you not living in Japan. Anyway, we are really proud of our little Noah for starting school this coming January and we think he will do great! We can't wait! : )

Many birthday cards (for B) and Halloween cards for both boys, have been coming in. Yet all seem to have birthday money for Branden from my dad, and also we got one from my mom and also my auntie emailed a day or two ago and said she also just sent him one too. Birthday money for Branden. These boys are very well loved. : ) Also, I got word that grandma Mitsuko is sending something for Branden's birthday as well. : )

After the interview, we went to Mc Donald's for lunch. Noah had a happy meal. Noboru had a combo. And I had a small salad with goma dressing and a small fry. We went home and relaxed and before you know was time to start swim school for Noah. Here we were around 1 something in the afternoon. Yes I am always running a bit early and was the first person there as usual. Oh well, ha ha ha.
Waiting for the kids to come out. And enjoy watching my youngest son swim his little heart out. : ) After swimming, I went and picked up B from ichinensei and we headed home.

Got my bread crumbs and seasonings mixed with my lean Costco beef and started rolling meatballs.

Three fresh loafs of bread we got on our way from the swim school from the delicious little bakery.

A simple Thursday night dinner at our house, last Thursday. This was Noboru's serving. A giant meatball sandwich, a side of ravioli. And salad. Wish I would have known, I was out of tomato for the salad, but you know, again it's real life and no way was I driving all the way to the darn store for 1 tomato. So we survived without tomatoes on our salad. Ha ha ha.

My much smaller serving. : )

And the kids servings. Mini meatball subs and ravioli. Yup those handy Costco rolls again. How many crazy uses I have come up with, if I think about all the ways I used them in Branden's obentos through the years. Wow how funny. But they sure are really useful as many of you already know as well. : )

Enjoying our meatball sandwiches and ravioli. Our dinner Thursday. Again, just regular life going on here. Both boys ate in just their undies and shirts. Ha ha ha. Sorry but, yup, we are a very casual, no fuss no muss family. No tuxedo or top coat and tails needed at our house. Dining in undies, is more then fine when we have no guests. Ha ha ha. : )

Friday after Branden got out of school, we headed directly to Chiba Newtown. The $100 US or ichiman yen grandpa sent and the $100 grandma also sent had been exchanged to Japanese yen already. They had both asked us to buy gifts from them for Branden. Branden needed long sleeve tops. He has plenty of jeans but is scarce on the long sleeve tops. So, with the birthday money my mom/B's American grandma sent, he got some tops from Gap. See the ghost decoration outside the Gap? The whole mall was decorated for Halloween. : )

Goofing around at the mall. And also good chance for you to see, how popular Halloween is getting, More and more things are becoming available in Japan at regular Japanese malls all the time. : )

After leaving the mall, we went and had some Chinese food for dinner.
Fried rice, karaage, gyoza galore. Soup, salad. It was a great Friday dinner! : )
Now for the money grandpa got him, he wanted to get DS lite games. So we were at the Wonder Goo and he found 2 games he liked. And he still has 5,000 yen about $50 bucks leftover now to buy a few more things. : ) But he is still thinking what he wants to buy with it. : )

These are the few things Branden will get for his birthday. Not much. We don't buy our kids like a billion birthday gifts, Just a few here and there and that's enough. : ) Some long sleeved tops, 2 games and the DS lite new game we have been keeping that I picked up in Guam. Not too many things but enough to indeed feel special about his birthday. : ) Plus he also gets to go to Disneyland for part of his gift. So he won't do too shabby either. : )

In America the game is called Resident Evil. In Japan it's called Biohazard. He's been wanting to have this game. We feel he is at the age where he can play this, so he is so excited. And the game on the left is a math game. Branden is incredibly good at math, when he got his report card last week, out of 100 points, his teacher rated him at 99 points. So, he is really good at math. He often plays math games online and this is a more portable way to practice his math. So that's cool. : )

All sorta of different ways to have fun with math.
Nothing wrong with being good at school, I'd say. : )
These are the tops and this way these pics can show both my parents, my mom in California and my dad in Colorado what they essentially got for their first born grandson. So these three Gap long sleeved tops are great. They all say Gap. Anyway mom, this is what you bought for B. : )
perfect for Fall whether for when it's too cold to wear a short sleeve, yet too warm for a flat out sweatshirt. So yay and thanks! : )
And the long sleeves are like thermal top material so they are warm for Fall. And yes he can layer these with a sweatshirt if he wants. : )
A yellow and blue striped shirt, again a long sleeve. What he needed.
A sweatshirt from Gap. I think it says, hockey department, Gap althetic or something. So, this will be for when it gets chilly willy and winter sets in or at night time for Fall. : ) So thanks for the tops for Branden, mom! : ) He will use them and appreciate them. And dad, so far he has 2 fantastic games, and when he decides what to spend the rest on, I'll let you know. Thanks dad. And I will be sure to buy wrapping paper and wrap all your lovely gifts up for Branden before his birthday this coming Sunday! : ) What else did we do this weekend? Nothing much except stay home, have family time. Enjoy our backyard a lot and watch the kids play. Had nice quiet dinners at home. Hugged and kissed my boys about a thousand times this weekend. And snuggled with my husband. Oh yeah, I did watch Flashdance on DVD, lol. And therefore had that, "What a feeling" song stuck in my head for a good whole day after that, ha ha ha. : )
*Did anyone hear that Sarah Palin was on SNL this last weekend? Apparently it was really good. I will try and see it on Youtube. : )
* The host from the old show, Soul train, Don Cornelius arrested for domestic violence? I remember that guy from TV vaguely but I was really little when that show was on. : )
* Caylee's mom/Casey Anthony indicted in the murder of her 3 year old daughter. I had been keeping up with this case and the whole situation is just very very sad. : (
*Republican Colin Powell endorses Obama! Yay! : )
Anything else to add? Nope, making niku jaga tonight for dinner. Anyway, have a good day you guys! : )