Saturday, April 07, 2012

Preparing for the first grade in Japan

In December and beginning of January we were on the hunt for a bed. We found one. But first we got rid of Noah's old bed. When Branden hit the first grade, we bought him his first real bedroom set, grandma Mitsuko bought the desk we bought everything else meeaing bed, night stand etc. Same for Noah. Noah was using this twin bed, it used to be uncle Jun's. We didn't mind. We knew Noah would be getting a brand new everything for his bedroom right before the first grade. So, after the new bed had been ordered, we all went to the the place where they trash big things like that in our town and got rid of it. We trash things in the city nearest us, not in our actual town, but we had to get a special paper from our town, to say we were okay/allowed to throw this. We drove all the way to the disposal place and they told us, they would not accept the bed for disposal until we cut out every single coil/spring form the matress. So we lugged the bed all the way home in the MPV. Noboru cut out every single coil and spring from the bed and then he went right back to the disposal place, so they could burn the bed. So bed taken care of.
Branden's desk was 46,000 yen or something absolutely ridiculous/absurd price like that. Would never spend that much on a desk again. Even though grandma bought it for Branden. She came to Chiba and went looking for the desk with us, she wanted Branden to have the best desk ever. @_@ So the price didn't bother her in the least. Caused me to faint a bit. : ) Half the time Branden wants to do homework downstairs. So, just would never in a million years spend that much on a desk. Lesson learned, don't accept such a lovely desk even though her heart was in the right place. But to be fair we were trying to match wood colors and it was just absurd. Hind sight is 20/20 though right? : ) Noah did not get this blue color desk, but see this desk? How it also has a separate storage area to the left? It has all those cool cubby areas for randoseru and books? And see that price? Loved the price definitely more my speed. 19,000 for the chair, the desk and the extra storage area at the left. Noah got this but a different color.
See the bright yellow and white model in this pic? That's what Noah got. But he got the 3 pieces, the cubby shelf area also. It's exactly as pictured, it's bright, happy, cheerful. And it's awesome. And the price was really fair. Grandma Mitsuko purchased this for us mid January, she said what a cheap price, are you sure you don't want/prefer the same desk Branden got? She's lovely. We said, no thanks love the desk you bought Branden, just Noah doesn't need it, this is more then fine....she said okay if you're sure and that was that. : ) We said our Goodbyes over the phone and stuff. But she just worried if Noah would get a good one, and that was kind of her to worry. It got here mid February. A perfect place for Noah to study and do his homework. And perfect color for Noah really.
Again, Branden's bed came form Ikea. And also Branden's table lamp. This time around, I wanted cheaper prices. Noboru didn't mind either way. And I wanted a lighter color wood. And simple. Noah's drawers remain empty below his bed, because his closet is quite big and he has drawers and a hanging closet in his closet. And he has a toy box. But at least he can use the drawers below his bed if need be. Noah got this bed exactly but the lighter wood color one. The bigger picture on this page one.
Branden also lucked out with Noah starting school because Branden got a new futon cover and sheet set also. He got 22A, the periwinkle blue and white polka dots for his bed, and it looks cool in there. The catalog says navy but it's not navy blue at all, much lighter.
Noah got to replace his aqua under the sea futon cover he got at Ikea years ago and instead now has this bright yellow zousan comforter top (the Ikea one we saved and washed and folded in the hall closet if he's ever sick in the middle of the night and it ever needs changing, who knows, feel good saving it for emergency's like that. There was a problem with this yellow zousan set though. We worked it out, but I'm just saying. The mattress sheet/fitted sheet did not fit the twin bed. And Noboru and I both tried like heck getting it on the bed. After a call to Nissen and closer look at the catalog, it fits a futon not a bed at all. Huge sigh. @_@ So, we bought Noah a plain white fitted sheet and the lady on the phone said, they now make a yellow zousan/elephant mattress pad type thing that would fit the bed. So we got that sent to us right away so it matches totally now. All this stuff, was happening in our household from January until March. You know plus keep in mind, I had meetings of shaon kai up to my eyeballs at the time also. So, I had a huge amount on my plate from January to March. Stress level 100 for me. : ) Now it's all done and fine but yeah. I was pushed to the max, these past few months.
What would go with a bright happy yellow and white desk and light wood bed? Noah needed the desk mat. We finally picked Totoro. So, this is Noah's desk protector and mat. It goes so good in his room. Again, all the searches, all the orders, who has this Totoro mat for the cheapest price, anyone offer free shipping, yes we found the one! : ) Also there was 2 different sized totoro mats, had to go up to the desk take the tape measure out. Go back downstairs. And recheck. Noah's bed, Noah's sheets and night table and desk set all came from Nissen.
While I was at Joyful Honda in Inzai/Chiba New Town at the first week of March when I went to get ricotta cheese for that lasagna I made. Oh yeah never had the chance to blog that because again with shaon kai and Noah's ichinensei prep. The lasagna would have to take a back seat. : ) However, I found some anti slip mats to place inside Noah's desk. They were cheap, under 300 yen.
Yep, 298 yen. My poor brain working some serious overtime. Did I forget something? I better not have. : )
Yep for inside drawers or what have you.
Rain boots, Noah would need a new pair. We looked for something different. Noah said, but I'd like to wear my duck ones. : ( "Please mommy, can't I still wear those." He was absolutely heartbroken over his ducky rainboots. After explaining your feet are just too big to fit now. : ( And after looking high and low for a different style. Noboru just said to me start of February. You know what....if Noah loves the ones he has so much, why not just buy the same ones except bigger? I said, Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. So, we finally found 1 place that sold them. All the way from Hokkaido, the same place we bought them originally. And we bought them in a big size so he can get lots of usage from these. So, old ducks are gone, and the new (looks exactly the same as the pair before but bigger) ducks are here. Problem solved. : )
His old orange sneakers in the front. We bought the yellow pair for Noah around undokai time last year. Fully expecting him to be able to wear them for the start of school. However his foot isn't large enough. Figures. : ) So, again after a quick search, and no yellows available in that size. However they had the orange same exact ones bit a bigger size, and since Noah really gets attached to his clothes. Branden never really ever has grown attached to any clothes. : ) But again each child is different. So, we just bought the orange pair in a bigger size. Done. Again this whole shoe search thing done while juggling meetings at the time, plus bedding and furniture and coil/spring removals. House cleaning, dinner making etc. Kumon runs and swim club stuff.
Protectant sprayed outside both pairs of shoes. One sunny day, I stood in the backyard spraying down both pairs. After sending Branden to school and Noah to yochien. Every tiny detail of things I have been quietly doing here at the house.
We had a big meeting for new parents of the future ichinensei's. This was first part of January. When I went to this meeting when Branden first started here. I brought a note pad, jotted down a ton of notes. Genki's mom, the mom who had a daughter already at shogakko. Didn't take any notes. I think she might have jotted down 1 thing but mostly she had been down this road before. I was so impressed at the time. : ) Flash forward to now. I think 3 or 4 might have older kids at this school, but most of them don't. There was so much note taking. Sera's mom took down a heap of notes. I did bring 2 pens with me, and 1 notepad just in case. And I wrote down anything that changed from Branden's day. And yes something did change. Now we need 2 gym bags versus just 1 in Branden's day, we also got a booklet that listed everythign needed also. But everything else sounded the same. I also made a point to tell Sera's mom, while I don't know everything of course, but if you need to know something please ask me, I might know. And I'd be happy to help if I can. The same way Genki's mom helped me.
Tray, all the kids at our school need trays, to put your school supplies in. These slide into your desk and your supplies go in here. Branden also got yellow when he started the first grade. We bought Branden's from the little mall in the city nearest us in Branden's time. But now that part of the mall was damaged in the earthquake, so we bought this from Amazon.jp and they had free shipping.
Earthquake protector on the left. Remember we bought this last year when we bought Branden's. These tend to flatten, so we replace the insides every year. I notice the "boy next door" also gets his replaced and his brothers every year also. Because I see a new inside hanging in the sun every Summer. : ) And Noah's seat cover. Key lime, zousan/elephant. Handmade, not by me, granted but handmade all the same. Notice the seat cushion is bigger then Noah's yochien seat cushion size.

The handmade bags. When Branden first started yochien all those years ago. A fellow foreign mom friend of mine, Cheryl from Osaka told me by phone (met her before we even had kids, that's how long I've known her, I've spoke about her here a few times before). The bags should be homemade, she nicely mentioned. I said, "what?" Yes, it's just some unwritten thing here. My poor face of shock! @_@ Insert heart palpitations. We ended up going to the fabric store and found a tailor (very cute elderly lady) in our old city we used to live in and she made all Branden's yochien bags. We paid about 6,000 yen total at the time for all those bags, and there was a lot to be made and seat cover and everything else. But, we did make sure Branden showed up to yochien with homemade bags. Since, then, I have grown wiser and learned other ways. And again, most of the mom's in Japan even my fellow foreign ones can sew, and quite well I might add. : ) I however can't. Can't sew to save my life. And I've never hid that fact and even now I admit it. Sure, I could lie to you and tell you I sewed it myself, but I'm just not going to do that, that's just not who I am as a person. And if you can sew, fantastic! : ) But you know we're all different and we all have strengths and weaknesses. And my weakness is sewing. I write this blog from my perspective and my experiences and who knows, maybe someday in the future there will be 1 mom who cannot sew also. Same as me. And I hope she finds the comfort in this blog, that you need not feel down. Don't go throwing yourself in the tanbo/rice field, just yet!!!! : ) : ) I buy all my handmade and homemade bags from yahoo Japan auctions. The prices are fantastic. Wish I had known this when Branden first started yochien. But again, live and learn. Have been buying them off yahoo for over 6 years now, whenever I need a new one, there I go. So, am I advising everyone and anyone to buy bags from yahoo? No, I'm not. I'm just saying what I personally do. And perhaps someday some horrible sewer like me, will exist and this information could come in handy. Also, you know how many people have commented on my back posts from my yochien blogs, thanking me for the information about yahoo auctions or the detailed pictures of what I bought for yochien prep and ichinensei prep and what bags, what the name stickers look like etc. I know, at least once or twice a year someone comes here from doing those searches and they usually leave a fantatsic comment for me and it makes my posting each pic worth it. So anyway.... enough said. : ) These are the bags.
Noah's gym bag. The gym bags at our school are all backpack style gym bags. And that seems to be a common type here in Japan. Some schools maybe don't ask for the backpack kind. But ours does, and since there's a big selection of handmade backpack bags, they must be common. The measurements are pretty standard, 30x40. And this lady said she made it a pinch bigger even. Which is great, because a roomy gym backpack is great. We wanted specifically Mario kart. I loved these nice thick backpack handles. The pattern is lovely, and the stars at the top and denim on the bottom will let the other mom's know, yes homemade. Phew.
Very well made and again nice thick backpack strings.
Fully lined.
The matching tote, that Noah will bring home every Friday.
Again fully lined and even with Mario pocket inside.
Matching shoe bag. Again fully lined and superly well made. I think the backpack bag was around 1300 yen- 1500 yen and the shoe bag was about 1000 yen or 1200 yen. So everything very affordable. And plus the mom's who make these get a little extra pocket money for their super skills. So it's a win win.
Noah's set of three, these will be his main bags for elementary school. And plus Mario Kart is indeed pretty popular among most kids here. I know we made the right choice for Noah. And I know the older boys at school will definitely give these bags a huge thumbs up! For sure!
And again, Noah needed 2 gym bags, 1 for the pants and sweatshirt and that's only used in Winter, so that's the bag at the left. and the main matching gym bag will be for his short set gym outfit. And they were all made by the same lady. So, they are all the same, same quality etc. But I like the 2 different colored gym bags so Noah will know automatically which bag has his outer sweatshirt etc stuff and which bag will hold the short sleeve stuff.
3 smallish bags. All needed to hang on Noah's desk. One for glue, tape scissors etc. And 1 for his toothbrush and cup and tooothpaste etc and the other for chopsticks and lunch mat. And again, same theme. These were made by a Japanese woman married to a western man (her last name when we paid and we told her we were also a western/Japanese couple, it gave her a smile). : ) And that made me smile too.
Same theme but different colors so Noah will not confuse which bag is which.
Tissues. Super Mario and the ever popular Garigari. So many of Branden's classmates have the Garigari (popsicle) stuff. Branden does too, he has a garigari eraser and ruler. So, I know these will be a hit for Noah and again Branden lucks out because half of these tissues Branden will get.
Branden as you know has this same exact thermos. Noah had Pokemon as his thermos these past 2-3 years, however as luck would have it, Noah accidentally broke his thermos on his final ensoku at yochien. It wasn't his fault, he fell and it cracked straight threw! The Yayoi sensei told me the day it happened she said Noah tripped and fell so hard she was woried he'd be hurt....only the thermos was hurt but I'd prefer the thermos be cracked then Noah be cracked. You know what I mean. Better a thermos then your child. So Pokemon thermos was thrown away. The metal was not damaged but huge gaping hole....just needed to replace it. So new thermos for Noah. Again same theme.
Set of 2 wash rags, since they help clean the school before school lets out.
Mario chop stick. Good bye yochien fork and spoon with chopstick set. And hello chopsticks only set. : )
Also picked up, Cars and Stich from the daiso/100 yen. Mario chopsticks came from Aeon.
Clay. Branden thinks we bought the wrong clay. I'll have to double check this. Noboru says it's fine. We'll see.
School sets. They have a lot of what your child needs to start school. And they're great if your child has a favorite popular character already. We bought this set at Aeon first week of March. I just wanted to get all this stuff over and done with before Noah graduated yochien and before we went to Hawaii. That way, I could truly relax. And not think...I have so much to get done when we get back, type feeling. So yeah January-March I was going full blast here at our house.

Pencil case. The kids always check to see who has which character and stuff, you know how kids are. : ) Mario ruler, Mario pencil caps, red and blue pencils in Mario, regular pencils but Mario. Plastic sheet that goes between the page you're writing in order not to make indentations on other sheets of paper. Again in Mario. Mario eraser. A Mario festival basically going on in our kitchen that day. : ) LOL.
Close up of the Mario pencil box. Sharpener is attached inside.
Ruler, pencil caps etc.


Mario scissors, 24 Mario colored pencils. And regular crayons.

Coupy. We found these special editon ones with extra limited editon colors. These Sakura brand coupy were not priced any different then the regular ones. They were same price otherwise we wouldn't have bought them. So it's not like we were looking for these, they were the same price and had a few extra coupy. So that's why we bought them.

Every colored pencil, every coupy, every crayon needed a name tag. And I also put a strip of tape over each name sticker so the name stays and won't come off.
New cup and new lunch mat, the rest of mats he'll use from yochien.
Elephant tape. Orange elephant tape (tapes clear though obviously : ). LOL. Branden wants the new donut tape, a lot of his friends have, so I imagine I'll go and get 2 of those tapes real soon. @_@
Gari gari glue, stick form and liquid form, they use both types for all the art projects they do. And this glue does smell exactly like the gari gari popsicles. These smell amazing. 1 extra liquid gari gari glue for Branden. Hmm, no wonder Branden likes Noah starting first grade so much, Branden has gotten new sheets and futon cover, Cool glue and new school bags too.
Pokemon marker.
Not to forget the pencils from the yochien.
They put the kids first and last names on each pencil.
So a pack of Mickey pencils with Noah's first and last name and the same with the red and blue pencils.
Pianica bag. So Noah can carry this to and from in style. : ) See, have I been busy or have I been busy.
I loved the bright color from the lego and I liked this also had a short and long handle so it can be carried long or by hand. Either handle. It's also handmade. And it's pretty and colorful and very well made.
Quilting inside. This lady went all out with her sewing, huge respect for who made this.
Perfect for Noah's pianica.
With enough room for his music book inside.
And all done and looking good.
Gym clothes "the what to buy booklet" and also during the meeting in January they said, two shorts and 2 short sleeve tops. And 1 sweatsuit. We bought Noah everything they said. 2 shorts pictured here. In size 130 cm.
So funny because Noah's so skinny, these look ginormous on Noah.
Gym pants.
Our town as a "service" sews the labels onto the pants and sweatshirt, that way all we have to do is get a marker and write Noah's name down.
Tops and everything. Noah also will get to use all Branden's shorts. But the tops he can't because Branden's first name is on those. Noah also can't wear Branden's gym pants because Branden seemed to get a hole in the pants for all his gym pants. @_@ Oh well, at least the shorts can be shared.
Mario leisure sheet. I think if I remember right their first ensoku as first graders will be to the dairy farm.
Pencil caps, I have been socking away for the whole past year. In all the cool snacks and drinks kids like. : )
What are these? These are what will hang behind and under Noah's desk and will hold his wash rags.
Yes I've been slowly getting Noah ready bit by bit. And after we came back from Hawaii I didn't have a thing to do. We were done. So in the end, all the work beforehand was worth it for me.
Rememebr this from last July when we were in Hawaii?
The backpack Noah will be using for shogakko for his field trips. He'll also be able to switch to his Phinneas and Ferb also. But this one is cool!
Two bright yellow umbrellas. That way I can spot which kid is mine walking down the hill, though Noah's pretty easy to spot anyway, lol. They were super cheap at Cainz. And they have that clear window area for kids to see while walking. Why 2? Our school asks for 1 umbrella to alwys stay at school that way if it rains unexpectedly they won't be without one. which is smart really.
The boots.
And everything needed a name sticker. @_@ There's no way I am going to manually by hand, write his name on each sticker. I make them easily on the computer same as I did for Noah in yochien and Branden also. and just print them out and stick them wherever they need to be. Makes my life so easy this way. : )

The dreaded sansu set. The math set. This out of everything we did getting Noah ready was by far the hardest part. I thought when Branden was starting the first grade, Noah will use Branden's set and that will be that. However, the clock part broke. Along with 80% of Branden's classmates clocks. @_@ And a few cards missing. Needless to say...Noah had to get a new one. Which meant stickers galore for us. However this time around, I had hands times 3. Noboru, myself and Branden sat up after Noah went to sleep, about 4-5 days before Noah's graduation and we got to town on this sansu set! Music on in the kitchen and we went at it!
Tweezers, Genki's mom is who rec'd the tweezers to me. Way back when Branden was a future ichinensei. Best advice ever! : ) Noboru did this job.
I meanwhile got to town on these cards.
Noboru got to town on these sticks, Noboru tackled the hardest parts and for that, I'm grateful, he also helped with Branden's set years ago. These were the 2 jobs Noboru did. And that was great. We all worked at the kitchen table cranking this work out for Noah.
So many cards I did. Felt like a million cards. : )
Name at the back. Of every single card.
Names on every single box.

And I do mean,every single box (we did top and bottom). @_@ Ha ha ha. : )
And then these addition and subtraction cards, Branden did all of them! Branden rocks, there were so many! Stacks and stacks and packs and packs of these on the rings and Branden did them all. Branden did a super job for his brother. After they finished with this, I thanked the both of them it was nearly 10pm and that's way past Branden's bed time (their bed time is 8:30pm) but it was the weekend and they helped me, Noah was alseep like I said, they went to bed and I stood awake coloring penguins, elephants and lions. : ( My eyes were blood shot, they were burning by the end. A cup of coffee at 11pm-ish to help me stay awake. And I kept thinking to myself. Just make it and survive through the graduation. And then you're off to Hawaii. You will have made it. I worked quietly that night, gave myself a pep talk and just got it done basically. I didn't blog so much that week or two, before graduation very few and far between posts those weeks leading up. I just was going on fumes at that point. I left to Hawaii and was just unwinding and destressing the whole time, boy did I need it after all that. Was 100% unwound in Osaka. And when we got home....it was just quiet. Peaceful. everything done. Nothing to rush and get done about. Just sort of felt all at peace during Spring break.
I relaxed. Watched many good TV shows. And just enjoyed the last bits of time of the break. Which is why I have been slowly working on my spring cleaning. I really have no intention to get all fired up and fried...mentally and phsycially. I'm just slowly now doing my thing. Because it's just all sorta got done beforehand.
It's this Monday now. It's so close, I can practically taste it or touch it. I'm not nervous, not scared. There are no unknowns. The mom's for the most part I don't know. But, you know it's okay really, I've....been there before. I know now everything works itself out in the end anyway. : )
The final prepping Noah for elementrary school post from us. Next post about elementary school will be the actual entrance ceremony post. And for what it's worth, Branden said the kids all went into the gym Friday and decorated it. The new 6th graders practiced walking in the new 2nd graders. They borrowed the 2nd graders as "stand ins" for the ichinensei for Monday. Those nice new 2nd graders. : ) Anyway, that's that, I guess. Now just to wait until Monday gets here. : )