Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Costco Makuhari run

Last week in the evening (Tuesday) after both Branden and Noah got out of school. The four of us headed to Costco Makuhari.
They had really cute Osh Kosh jinbeis. This is the last year Noah will have to wear one for the Summer festival. Since this Summer will be the last Summer festival for us. So, we bought him the cute madras one on the right. The price was right and the festival only lasts 3 hours. So under 1,500 yen was just about right. About US $15.
We quickly shopped, considering the time it was and given the drive back, we quickly got a pizza and 1 icecream cup on the way out and jumped on the highway to head home. Here the boys were sharing this on the escalator. On our way to the MPV.
By now it was pitch black/dark outside, but we got a few things we really needed so it was worth it. A three pack of pasta sauce.
Toilet paper.
2 packs of 72 waffles each. @_@ That's a whole lotta frozen waffles right there! The price was like 1500 or so for a box. So worth it. And they sell them also on the flying pig online for like 1700 odd yen and given it saves us a drive and the toll fee, we might just start buying these from the flying pig. We love these!
A case of movie theater popcorn. Dinner rolls, tortillas, and wheat bread.
And the pizza we threw in the oven to get rewarmed. Good thing dinner was this that night. We were hungry by the time we finally got home. : )
Good thing we have a huge fridge...they all fit with room to spare.
And the one jinbei that is now hanging in Noah's closet. It was a long drive, but worth it, because we really needed the waffles and the popcorn.: ( And finding the jinbei we'll need for the Summer festival for Noah was really nice to find. This way we can relax since we already have it...and won't have to go looking all over for one this coming July.

A short little video from Noah's last picnic for the yochien.

The other mom from our town.

As you know, when Branden went to this yochien. His best friend happened to be Genki. He lived in the same housing community as us. And he was the ONLY other little kid who lived far away in our tiny town who also went to the same yochien as Branden did. Their friendship was not forced. It happened naturally probably because they were literally the only 2 kids who rode the school bus together.Anyway so yes Branden and Genki would spend a good 25 minutes drive in the van there and 25 minutes back with Genki and the 1 lady sensei who always rode along and read books to Branden and Genki. Or talked with them while they rode. I would push Noah in the stroller with me to pick up B at the pick up point in our housing community. So yes I saw Genki's mom every morning and every afternoon. We became friends naturally because we saw each other every day. Our boys got a long really well. And when they were to start elementary together. We weren't really worried because we figured as long as they have each other they'll be fine.

However when all the "soon to be ichinensei" at the time were to show up in February for an assessment and do a sort of meet and greet. It was held at 2pm. Given the time... B and Genki got out of yochien. They had to go straight to the elementary school in their uniforms. We went to the 2nd floor. Noboru and I and Genki's mom. Shock! Branden and Genki were the only 2 kids wearing that uniform (meaning we knew, that but somehow actually seeing it made it all the more clear). And 2 or 3 wore different uniforms. And 1 lone girl wore another yochien uniform (this would later be Saya-chan) us parents all stood along the walls. We didn't know any of those other parents and they didn't know us. There were only about 8 or 9 kids total from the yochiens. Different uniforms, some plaid uniforms, some green uniforms and Branden and Genki came in with the navy blue one with white dress shirt and bolero navy jacket and navy winter hats...same uniforms that Noah wears today. The teacher said...please wait for the hoikuen kids to get here. About 30 kids all ran in, no uniforms at all. Very happy peppy kids. I saw "boy next door" in that group. And smiled at him, his mom was at work. I would say this was the first time we realized we would be greatly out numbered.

Then ichinensei started. Branden and Genki stuck together like glue. Partly because they were friends anyway and kept things same as usual, but partly because they didn't know any of those other kids at first. Then came the first observation day for us. And....

So us parents walked into the room for that first observation day. Gulp! And all 32 of the mom's were basically BFF's. Only 40 kids total and 2 classes and only about 8 came from yochiens. They all knew each other for eons it seemed. Well of course they've developed those close ties during hoikuen all those years. And then there was us yochien parents. Talk about the cheese stands alone! We knew no one! When they introduced themselves. They all knew each other. They weren't nervous. To be honest, for the first 6 month's of the first grade for our school...the hoikuen kids and mom's ruled. And we were the odd men out! "Boy next doors" mom was happy as a clam with all her buds. Meanwhile I felt like "Sally no friends" and I know for a fact the other yochien mom's felt the same exact way. And I tell, you...it honestly takes a lot of courage to stand there by yourself or with just 1 mother while the rest are like continuing a conversation and all happy and laughing. How would that make you feel honestly.

1 of Branden's classmates. He went to a different yochien. I heard that he was having a very terrible time of adjusting to elementary and that his mom said he had no friends. (of course he now has tons) His mom was so worried...that she contemplated sending her younger son to hoikuen granted she ended up sending her younger son to the yochien her older son went to in the end because she realized he did end up making friends in the end. But yes for her to even contemplate switching schools for her younger child.... even for a month shows you how very tough it was for us at first all those years ago. It was. (the younger brother is the same kid who's going to go to school with Noah next year (Kouiki-kun's little brother)) But yes.... that is exactly how worried she was. And I understand/understood her feelings 100%. Because I felt all the same things myself. It was really hard for us yochien mom's at first. Again...this is my area only. As you know...my town does not have a yochien. Obviously it would be a totally different story for people in bigger more populated areas who actually have a yochien in their city. But for us, our town has/had no yochien. While our town does have a hoikuen.

Of course....I also want to add that as far as Branden was concerned he makes friends super easily. So he ended up making friends pretty much right away. And by the end of the first grade year...all of the kids (not just Branden) had made so many friends and intermingled. It didn't really matter in the end who went to yochien or which yochien or who went to hoikuen. However yes....I'd be lying to say the first six month's wasn't tough on us yochien parents (the kids got over it faster then us parents did). Again...it's different for us here because our town has no yochien. So the playing field wasn't fair to begin with.

Now fast forward. Noah has been going to yochien all these years. And there is also 1 other boy who lives and comes from our town. When Noah was a yellow badge for the 2 months he was a baragumi but that boy did not start as a yellow badge like Noah did. That boy didn't start there until the he was a red badge in April of that year. So, when Noah was a red badge, pink badge he was a yurigumi (in the lily class) however that other boy was always in the baragumi class (the rose class), they have *never* been in the same class together. So it is fair to say they really do not know each other the way Branden and Genki knew each other. Also, every observation day I went to at Noah's school all these years...I stood in the yuri class. While his mom obviously stood in the baragumi class. So we don't really know each other either. Finally this year, all the blue badges joined 1 class. This is the first year ever that they are actually in the same class. Also that boy rides the bus. I meanwhile have a time scheduling conflict since I have an older son... so I give Noah a ride daily. So again, they don't know each other really at all.

However with this being our final year. And with us knowing what's coming next year...... Anyway at the picnic last week. The mom's were all chatting about.... which school is each kid moving on to yada yada. I know she knows and realizes it'll be just me and her. And I clearly am realizing this now too. : ) A few times during the picnic, I found her smiling at me. From a far like during her lunch and whatnot. I was sitting with my main set of friends and eating too.. but yeah I found myself smiling at her once or twice now too. We know what is coming next year it's just gonna be us, her and I. Her son and Noah.

During the picnic, she went up to Noboru and spoke to him. I was chatting with the Jogo-san at the time....while they chatted. She told Noboru, I saw your wife last week at the plaza" (the plaza is the pickup point for the shogakko kids in our town) "Was she picking up your other son?" Also....what time does elementary start and finish. Because next year her second child a little girl. Will start the yochien. And she is getting worried if she will have a time conflict. Because she feels her son walking to the shogakko from where they live, is too far etc. Anyway....she is starting to look to next year. As am I. She knows I am most definitely in her future.: ) And I know she is most definitely in mine.: ) So now we have 1 year. 1 year to get more comfortable with one another.

Last week we had the shaon kai meeting. This is a thank you party for the teachers for after the kids graduate. Last year during one of the pink badge mother's luncheons.....we decided do you want to join the yearbook staff or join the shaon kai group. My friends and I all whispered...join the shaon kai. Anyway....so this year our work is to begin. Last year at the mother's lunch. I sat on the opposite table as "same town" mom. And I wasn't really aware or looking which group she picked. So I didn't pay attention.

So, the first shaon kai meeting I did not attend because I had that driving class I had to take. The second meeting I went and "same town mom" was not there. Anyway so last week was the 3rd shaon kai meeting. I was upstairs. With a few of the mom's and in walks "same town mom" There was a short but very very long table. She could have sat anywhere. There were spots all around that table but she sat right next to me. And I thought.....aww how nice. ; ) She's really trying here. : )

I think she's really making an effort here. As am I. As luck would have it...we just never had the opportunity to be around each other before now. I think she knows we have to get to know each other a little more, and I know that too. Because next year until our kids get a little more acquainted with the others....we'll be all we have. Yeah, no pressure or anything though right? ; )

And for the record. For Branden's time when he was an ichinensei like I said....6 month's in, all the kids all were friends. They all bonded. One of Branden's closest friend, the "jinbei boy" he went to a totally different school. Hmm come to think of it....he went to hoikuen and B and he are like very very tight and close good friends! Nobody cares in the least now who went to what kindy. And by the 3rd grade...they switched classes and intermingled even more. I greet all the mothers, they all greet me. It's not really a problem now. I think next year we might feel that 6 month awkward bit when Noah first starts. But....at least knowing it won't last forever makes it easier to take.

And hopefully the better acquainted "same town" mom and I get with one another, the better it will be on the both of us. I mean we don't need to be best friends. But we are definitely trying to be friendly. It will make next years first observation day so much easier. : )
Two Sundays ago, while Noboru was taking the boys to get their hair cut. I was meanwhile home waiting for the delivery man. The kuroneko van pulled up. And I peeked out the window. Hey, T's dad is delivering it today! So, I opened the door and thanked him and stuff and smiled and got the 2 packages and closed the door. : )
Branden's shorts were the right fit. Noah's Qoo shirt was the right fit and my comfy roomwear shorts were perfect. Noboru's plaid shorts were a good fit too. One thing I noticed though. The black shorts with white polka dots are *so* cute. They stand out and you can really see the polka dots.They are very girly looking comfy shorts. However I noticed the gray ones with white polka dots are a lot harder to see the polka dots. The polka dots aren't as noticeable on the gray pair. I kept them anyway because they were cheap and I could always use a spare pair of comfy around the house shorts anyway.
My anniversary gift came.
It wasn't a surprise. I knew what it was. I helped pick it out. A useful gift since mine broke and I need one for my treadmill and workouts.
The smallest nano I've seen. I had the nano 2 models before this and Branden has the nano 1 model before this.
Special edition. The red one you can only get from the apple online shop. I liked the red color, so I chose that one.
Noboru had my name put on the back. I have since put all my songs onto this new one and have been using it and getting the hang of the touch screen.

Anyway besides planning 2 vacations (my dad's and ours) I'll post about that later.....I've had the shaon kai on my mind. We have been planning what gifts to give to the kids. What gifts to give to the sensei. We want to go and try the food at 2 different restaurants before we decide where we will have the meal next year. There's so much planning that goes on ahead of time.

We also have the upcoming Summer festival to start planning for also. I am planning to work the games with my friend. Which means we will start having "make the prizes" meetings as well. I imagine this year we will be meeting for many things. Shaon kai meetings....Summer festival meetings. It's going to be down right meeting madness. ;P

I'm trying to make a little effort to get to know "mom from the same town as me" granted I am not going to over do it, or anything either. As long as we are friendly with one another we should be fine. I'm not out to make her my best friend or anything. Just trying to make more of a concsious effort to be friendly towards her is all.

Plus the 2 observation days this week. The 2 back to back ones. One today and one tomorrow. And the uniform switch which was today. For which I had to go and get a few things at the uniform shop for Noah last week. New straw hat, 1 new pair of Summer uniform shorts and 1 short sleeve dress shirt.

No wonder I haven't started on our little veggie garden yet. : ( I'll get to it. : )

Our first Summer festival meeting is this Thursday after the observation day at the yochien.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Noah's very last school picnic, for his yochien years! : )

These are the photos from last Friday. This was Noah's very last school picnic for his yochien/kindergarten years. We had a lot of fun and we all enjoyed ourselves a lot last Friday. This first pic is of Noah and his very best friend H. They're practically glued to one another or joined at the hip. ; ) They're always playing together or at swim school together. Playing and posing the Ultraman poses that most little kids like to do here in Japan. Just being silly goofball little boys basically. And I love watching them together. They're hilarious.
Noah and daddy on the teeter totter together.
Noboru pushing Noah on the tire swing.
And then....
Noah's other really good friend came and wanted to ride with Noah. Noah happily said iiyo!!!! (okay, sure)! And so they did and Noboru pushed them both. ; )
You should double click this one...their happy smiles playing with one another. Noah and T (his father is one of our kuroneko delivery guys : )
And then Noah and his very good friend T went and played on this. Noboru being a goofball himself went and played too. @_@
And another friend wanted to join....and as we say, the more the merrier, so she joined!! ; )
Then Noah and T wanted to go through these things. So they did.....
And then Noah and T went over the little bridge at the park. And running all over. The weather was an absolutely perfect and beautiful day. Which considering the weather has been so crazy lately cold and rainy one day and then nice and hot the next. We sort of all worried what the weather would be like that day. But we lucked out...it was an absolutely gorgeous day weather wise.
Noah, his best friend Hikaru-kun and Noboru about to start playing kori oni. But first to figure out which one was to be chosen the oni. They had to do (sort of) the Japanese version of "eenie meenie minie moe" that is usual/typical in Japan. So they each put in 1 shoe and started saying....oni kime oni kime oni ja naiyo!!! Noboru says this Chiba version of what to say... is a bit different then what they used to say in Osaka where/when he was a little kid.
Noboru was picked to be the oni! So he ran! Noah's hugging the wood and he's about to get a thorough chasing!
Run Noah! Daddy's hot on your trail!
Run Hikaru!!!! Run for your life! He's right behind you! Run kiddo! PS see that tree in the background? That's where the sakura-gumi (us) blue badges all sat. We sat and had lunch according to class, meaning red badge class, pink badge class or blue. We had a great area under that tree. Our leisure sheet was there and our picnic basket.
Then they got on the speaker system and called for all the kids who attend our yochien to gather and us parents too. Again they all stand according to class.
These 2 rows all the way to the right were the blue badges/sakura-gumi. Gee, I remember fondly when Noah started WAY on the left when Noah was a mere little red badge. And last year when Noah was in the middle as a pink badge. And this year, the final picnic ever...and that we will attend... Noah finally made it...all the way to the far right side. They learned so much in these few short years. And how proud we were as parents. It was like a coming full circle type feeling. We love you Noah! : )
This is one of my favorite pictures because as you know one of my closest friends is the Jogo-san and this is her dear daughter to the right of Noah. My my my, how our kids have grown up in these few short years. Though he is a little boy and she is a little girl they play a lot together as well. Just this past week, Noah said how fast she runs and how she tried to catch him during a chase game they played at the yochien. She is so cute and as you know I think the world of her mom. Anyway, I was glad to get this picture. : )
About to start their exercise. Warm ups!
Noah's best friend Hikaru right behind him with his tongue sticking out! Little cutie pie Hikaru! Even though Noah and H won't go to the same elementary school next year : ( They will at least see each other at swim school next year. And they'll bump into each other in the city nearest us, I'm sure.
Do you kids realize this is the last time you'll be at an ensoku with your parents for the yochien. Yep this is the very last one. Bittersweet. Last picnic ever wearing that uniform. This is going to be a major milestone for you guys all this year because next year will be the start of your elementary years. And that will be *just* as exciting for you. But for now, enjoy this last year of your yochien years to the fullest ne!
Doing more warmups. This one was to a Disney mix of songs. "Hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go"
and a whole other bunch of songs! ; )
My sweet Noah! So many people have watched you grow up via this blog. And they will watch us change and adjust to this last year of kindergarten and then next year onto bigger things. We will do it kiddo! And you'll be just fine!
And then it was the start of the mother and child dance.
Then the other 2 grades/years got bubbles. Meanwhile the blue badges had 1 extra game to play. This was so funny!
This 2 rows of mom's, this is all of us blue badge mom's. Only the sakura-gumi. I was in this line too when Noboru took this pic. I was in the left line. Clearly since you can't see someone 6 feet tall standing way above the crowd. It's obviously I am Japanese girl/mom height. lol. Because I am standing..let me look at the pic..hold on. In the line on the left you see 2 mom's in the front with hats. And then one faceless lady but you see her jeans. The ladies jean pant leg was my friend and Hikaru-kun's mom and she was right in front of me. If you look at her jean pant leg. You can see 1 lady wearing black ballet flats behind jeans pant leg lady (H's mom) and black ballet shoe lady was me. I was showing some leg because it was a hot day and I was wearing khaki shorts and black ballet flats. yep, I am clearly just as short as all the other mom's, lol. Maybe not face wise since I'm a westerner, but height wise I blend right in. Ha ha ha.
The kids waiting their turn. Hi sweet pea!
This was not Noah just trying to give you a visual of what the kids had to do. Crawl under every mom's legs and then run zig zagged through each mom. They sent a note home the day before for us blue badge mom's not to wear dresses or skirts because of this game. Which was why I wore shorts. And I was too hot to wear pants.
After the blue badges did their last game the ol' "crawl under all the mom's legs game" They were given bubbles too. : )
Finally we all decided it was time for lunch. We could eat anytime after the games were over. It was our choice of when. However the blue badges as a whole....we all sort of decided to eat right after they played their bubbles. In fact during the'''crawl under your mom's legs game" one mom kept saying...."gee I'm hungry" and then a few agreed. So yeah by the time the bubbles were finsihed we all sort of said...should we all go have lunch? yeah yeah..let's do. So we went and opened our lunch. I cut the pineapple fresh from the rind that morning. Fresh pineapple is so good.
The beautiful Noah and his Noah thermos! : ) That he's had for years and years! ; )
After our lunch and all the kids traded and gave each other snacks. The kids all ran off to play. Us parents all stretched out on our leisure sheets. Stretching and relaxing. Talking about what a nice hot day it was. A few of us talked about this being the last picnic for us. Noboru talked to a few of the other dad's, so many dad's showed up. Noah and H went off to play. After a while and a really good laze about on the leisure sheet, I finally slipped my shoes on and went looking for Noah. Noah and the Yayoi sensei playing together happily. You know I don't like to say the word "a favorite" but in all honesty. I know Noah is one of her favorites. She's known Noah since before Noah could even walk and Branden used to go there. She's been to our home for the teacher home visit and enjoyed chatting with us in the backyard. She was his red badge sensei, pink badge sensei and is his only blue badge sensei. She's been his teacher all 3 years. I think next year when Noah graduates she'll be crying, we'll be crying. It's going to be a mess and we'll need a lot of tissues.
And Noah feels the same, just double click this and look at his smiley face. The feelings totally mutual. She hugs him and carries him around the playground, I've seen. She said last week, he's so light! I told her...I know : ( He's just so skinny. : ) Every morning when I take him to school, Noah runs right to her and she runs right to him. They're like peas in a pod! I also love that she always talks directly to me. And not to my husband all the time. And being a foreigner sometimes people tend to do that. They'll talk to your husband ignoring you. She directly has always talked to me, jokes with me. And I always talk to her and joke and smile with her as well.
Noboru truly loves to play as much as the real kids do. ; )
He ran right up the jungle area climbing all the way up where Noah and his friends were!
And then Noboru went even higher and eventually all the way to the tippy tippy top. Noah came down and said...daddy's too high! I said I know. ;p
Soon all the boys came right around Noboru. And they all told Noah, your papa's so much fun!
So Noah and his 2 best guy friends decided to have a race. Noboru wanted to join.
And soon a little girl (blue badge) wanted to run too. And so on your mark...get set...go!
Noboru ran as fast as he could and so did all the kids. The Yayoi sensei watching happily in the background.
After the big race, Noboru and I went hung out on the leisure sheet meanwhile Noah and his friends played all over the park. The senseis always made sure they were in the one area and never to go beyond that area. So we could all see them.
And then...next thing you know. They did the loud speaker message telling us all to come back. Do you see the kids all praying. We always start with a prayer and end with a prayer. Then they sang a song. The kids had so much fun that day! I know Noah enjoyed himself totally! He had so much fun with all his friends. All the father's had fun, all us mother's really had fun. I chatted and chatted with the Jogo-san. H's mom. Namiki-san. Suiji-kun's mom (sp?) but she's another one of my very very good friends. In fact we're hoping to work the game booth together for the Summer festival. We've already talked about it. ; )
And before you knew it, it was over. : ) You would think that with this being Noah's last year of yochien I would be terribly sad this year. In fact. I'm really not. Sure yeah it is sort of bittersweet and I always admit that. And there are certain aspects of yochien life I'm sure I'll miss or Noah will miss. But also to be honest. I'm also looking at the future and seeing what that will look like and that looks pretty good to me too. You see, I've done this juggling dance with having 1 son in elementary school and 1 son in yochien for the past 3 years. While it is indeed fun for Noah. And social for me hanging with my fellow yochien mom friends. I am also to be honest quite tired of constantly driving back and forth from school to yochien like a ping pong ball 5 days a week 2 round trips each day (morning drop offs and afternoon pick ups). And though I rarely complained about it, it doesn't mean it wasn't draining on me at times. And so yeah...when I think of next year and how I won't have to drive to the smaller city nearest us at all. How I can actually stay in my town to take both Branden *and* Noah to school. Honestly....I am sorta ready for that. And in many ways looking forward to that. I've most certainly paid my dues being a human driving ping pong ball for the past 3 years. So yes, while some aspects of Noah ending his yochien years are sad. I am also going to find many pluses to having both my sons in the same school. Branden and Noah have never attended the same school before (not counting swim school). And this will be nice for them next year. If you only knew how much mileage I've put on my car with driving back and forth from yochien to elementary school and back and forth 2 round trips each day for 3 years! You'd be surprised. ; ) So yeah..while there are some things yes I'll be sad about. Somethings yes I may miss or Noah may miss. My friends I'll miss a lot! But we'll still see each other. We'll still do movie dates and lunch dates for sures! That goes without saying. However, I won't miss the nonstop driving. So yeah it's not going to be an entirely sad glum year for me at all. I'm going to enjoy Noah's final year of yochien to the fullest. And when it's over...it'll be over. And we'll both be ready to move on to another stage in his school years. Next years graduation we'll probably be crying our eyeballs out of course, but that's understandable. ; ) But yeah when it's time for Noah to be in elementary we'll be definitely ready for that as well. It'll be time. We'll have no regrets. Because we would have enjoyed Noah's yochien years to the fullest. : ) Just like we did last Friday at the school picnic. : )

Anyway that was the last picnic for the yochien years post. It was awesome. And we all really enjoyed it. : )