Monday, September 10, 2012

Our last weekend of Summer, back to school prep and surviving the first week back

With Summer homework done for Noah since the last weekend of July. And Branden's done since first week of August. It was nice to get that knocked out of the way and be done. However Branden had a science project to do and they did it the week before we went to Bangkok. However during the flight home they were talking about making a stand for their experiment and they both basically agreed it would add some cool and wow factor. : )  So with the Costco trip done also we knew how we'd wind down our last weekend of the Summer, the same exact way we started Summer, with a BBQ. However that early afternoon before the bbq was started... Noboru and Branden went outside and they made a stand for his science experiment. Branden had his first lesson of learning power tools with Noboru's supervision of course and they made it together the 2 of them. Noah and I meanwhile watched TV in the coolness of the house. But I did come outside for a picture or two for Branden's scrapbook.
Note a clear day, a sunny-ish typical normal day, not really a cloud in the sky. The leftover wood from the science project stand was added to the charcoal grill.  Just a quiet weekend for us here at home with yet another simple bbq. And boy, it smelled fantastic!  And then....as luck would have it, clouds started rolling in. : (   Oh well ...rain or shine...this bbq will continue. : )
Onion rings and fries to go with the very simple basic chargrilled cheeseburger dinner we were to have.
See, rain! Ha ha ha. But the bright side is. We didn't let that dampen our spirits at all. I could see the farmers had also started to plow the rice fields here and there not on this particular day of course but it had begun where we live. But not our immediate fields behind our house yet.... as of when the picture was taken.
Just toppings on little plates/dishes and you can top with pickles lettuce, mustard, ketchup you name it. : ) We had plenty of burgers in the silver dish.
Growing up in America hamburger buns and hot dogs buns were cheap as chips and easy to find anywhere. However with living in the country side in Japan now, they are almost impossible to find. My closest Cainz/Besia store used to carry them and I only go there once a month now but they don't carry them there anymore either. Which is fine....you adjust. And bread really is totally fine for our burgers, the boys use dinner rolls though which are perfect. Buns would be nice to have but, wouldn't necessarily make or break the bbq if we couldn't find them. ; )
The weekend before September 3rd. Was this September 1st or 2nd, I forget now. But it was nice to just enjoy this last bbq before school started. However we will probably bbq a few more times after this anyway. : )
Preparing for the 2nd semester back to school.  Noah gets 2 notebooks for every subject provided for free by the shogakko/elementary school. So Noah has not needed any notebooks that we needed to buy as of yet. However Branden needed many replaced. Which also meant we went into his room and made sure he threw away all his old notebooks. We replaced the ones needed replacing. And he also needed a new black marker which is pictured. Noah and Branden each needed a new mask for serving food/lunch. So they each got a new one 98 yen for two, so not too terribly bad. And pencils, each of them needed some new ones. So, I took them to the local Yacs drugstore type of store and let them pick out their own pencils they'd like. Which is cool because kids like cool and also fun pencils.  And they were pretty cheap in price also.
A Coca cola pencil for each of them, a Natchan pencil each (this is an orange drink here in Japan)  strawberry chocolate pencils 1 each and a garigari popsicle pencil each. I know they loved to pick theirs out and these types of pencils are popular at our local school. Branden needed a red and blue pencil and they had a Garigari red and blue pencil. Cider type popsicle on one side and coke popsicle on the other side. So, since the boys needed new pencils I am glad they got the ones they wanted. : )  I made sure all these pencils were sharpened and name labels went onto Noah's with Noah's name on them and Branden's had name labels with Branden's name on his. Branden also needed a new white color in his paint kit, so I made sure to get him a new white paint. They have school paint tubes replacements for those. I bought 2 white squeeze tubes of school paint he needed from the Daiso for 100 yen for 2 white paint tubes (think mini toothpaste type tube they use those at our local school). So, just little tidbits of getting the boys ready to go back to school. I made sure they were ready.
A new semester means new white inside shoes for the boys. Also, in elementary schools in Japan they need rags for helping clean the school at the end of the day. So, I bought a great big 10 pack from Besia/Cainz for super cheap. Said, 5 are for Noah, put his name on those and 5 for Branden put his name on those also. At our particular school they are to come with 2 new ones each semester. So, I sent Noah with 2 new ones and folded nicley his 3 extra and put them in his bigger drawer in his desk in his room. And sent Branden with 2 new wash rags and packed up his 3 in his desk in his room. That way all semester if they need replacing they can replace them as needed, the names are already on them and they are ready and rarin' to go!
With undokai coming up *really* soon. Branden needed a new hat. Which means I had to sew his name on this new one and make that little hanging loop at the back of his hat also. Noah's hat meanwhile is still pretty new so his doesn't need replacing. Also he doesn't wear a regular red and white hat Noah. Noah wears the kind with the flap at the neck area. I let Noah wear a normal red and white hat in yochien because they weren't outside too overly much... I mean they were outside but not to the point where I would worry. However he is outside a lot more now that he's at shogakko and so I switched him to a flappy hat that protects his neck. Plus another kid in his class also wears one too. Plus I know how easy Noah burns, so yeah he needs to wear the hat with the flappy neck guard/cover.
With the upcoming Fall weather and also the upcoming undokai I knew they needed new socks pronto! : ) I went to Nishimatsuya, they had a huge fantastic set for girls in running/sneaker socks. However my store had diddly for boys. So, I went to another shop and picked these. 9 pair for Branden and 9 pair for Noah.  Branden got Mizuno, Bobson and a cheaper brand but cute ones. And Noah got 3 unknown brands but they were cheap and so cute. Anyway yeah. I was happy to get their socks bought and crossed off my list.
These are Noah's! I think they're really cute and the price I loved. Okay so that is the prep I did for getting both Branden and Noah ready for the 2nd semester of school. I think I did a-okay regarding getting the boys ready for the Fall semester.
Now for the "surviving" my first week back into our regular schedule. You know, the boys were pretty great last week. They woke up when they were supposed to. They brought all their stuff back to school from home. They got right into the swing of things really well. They came home really hungry each day I know, so I either made them a snack as soon as they came home or we had dinner early. They did homework quickly but I noticed Noah for example would crash on the couch and be dead asleep after his shower. One night he was dead asleep on the couch at 7:45pm. All in his PJ's and stuff of course but the week was an adjustment. Branden, I would find him snoring in his room as I would go in there and turn off his lamp on his night stand and kiss him one more time while he slept and he rarely snores at all so I know he was also tired last week.

I think the one last week was hardest on.... was me. I was dragging all last week. I need to be awake by 6am. However I know me, and I know how the first week back is always hard on me, so I set my alarm at 5:30am. Of course I snoozed it until 5:53am and got out of bed at 5:55am. Went downstairs. The morning hit me hard. I had a cup of coffee, woke up the boys, they watched cartoons like zombies while I made breakfast. Turn the TV off around 6:30am. And they go to the kitchen they eat, then they unload the dishwasher, Noah does the cutlery and plastic bowls. Branden does the rest which isn't much it's definitely 50/50. I meanwhile load the breakfast dishes while the boys go upstairs and brush teeth, fix hair and get dressed. I fill thermoses downstairs. Since it's undokai practice and they need drinks daily. Drive them to school. About 2-3 times a week Noboru will drive them versus me. Which helps me *a lot*. I meanwhile hang the laundry. Vacuum the downstairs. Wipe down the kitchen. Dust the kitchen blinds. Dust the living room. Swoosh the toilet downstairs. Then take a 10 minute break. Watching TV or checking email. I fill refreshed that 10 minutes recharges me. Then I go upstairs vacuum, swoosh one more toilet. Tidy any rooms need tidying. And I am done. usually I'll do a lot more. But an hour a day was my limit last week. It was the first week back and that was hard on me. Plus the fact I was about to start my period. I started last Wednesday btw. So yeah Monday and Tuesday found me dragging. I am happy I did an hour of cleaning Monday and Tuesday. I also prepped dinner, made rice and chopped everything just ready to go. But after that, about 2 hours total (1 hour of cleaning 1 hour of prepping dinner and folding dry laundry). I found myself resting on the couch Monday and Tuesday. Oh yeah Monday the boys got off at 11am. So when I brought them home, I made them lunch. Then they went outside to play and I laid down. I was just like I said, tired last week. First weeks back are always hard for me. Wednesday I did the same morning routine and I had a headache to top it off, which is rare for me (I only get like 1-2 headaches a year). I felt like I would be starting my TOM soon. I took an Advil. And sure enough by 10:30am same day, I started. I still managed 1 hour of cleaning, But after that. I laid down on the couch in my comfy house shorts tee shirt and a pony tail. I had a nice hot cup of tea. And just laid down on the couch for an hour and a half  until the Advil kicked in.Around 12;30, I started prepping dinner. I felt better with the Advil. And I just laid back down. I did the basics each day. Granted I didn't kick butt each day regarding the house cleaning *however* I did enough to not get behind so that's saying a lot also. And I made sure dinner was prepped and laundry was always done. Thursday I felt a lot better and I got my cleaning routine back to pretty much back to normal.


I remember sending my dad an email Thursday. "If I can just make it to Friday. Then I made it and I survived my first week back into my normal routine." So when Friday morning rolled around, I knew it was in the bag! The boys got back into the swing of things way better and faster then I did. : ) I didn't do fantastic granted, but I wasn't the worst either last week.


Now that Branden is in the 5th grade. Apparently 5th and 6th graders must stay late at our local school to prepare for undokai until 5pm! 5 days a week for 2 weeks in a row all last week and all this week. However a note was brought home saying if your child has any extra curricular activities they may go home early. Just call the school or send a note. Noboru wrote a note for Branden saying he goes to Kumon Monday and Thursday which yes he really does. : ) And he needs to get home at 3:45pm his regular time. So last Tuesday and Thursday he did that. I know Saya-chan has Kumon so she gets home early. The Jinbei boy does piano and juku so he's not staying after but like 1 day a week. Noboru said to me, why can't they do the practice during school time versus making the kids stay so late afterwards. I said I know, because I agree. : ) Oh well.  And Noah has to stay late every day also but his late means 3pm. Versus his usual 2:45pm. So not too much different since he's a first grader.

With the undokai practice and everyone staying late. The boys have been having a problem with running out of drinks. I pack them a thermos every morning with ice jasmine tea (no sugar) and Noah has been telling me "I run out before lunch." I said before lunch?@_@ I asked Branden when do you run out? He said, "before lunch!" Drink the water at school then, I said, practical me.; ) No it tastes gross, said Branden. @_@ "Oh geeze! Jiminey crickets!" I thought to myself! : ) Not to worry I assured them, mama will think of something. So, all last week I was packing 3 thermoses. 2 Mario Thermoses and 1 big silver metal thermos and they were then filling their Mario thermos with the drink from the bigger thermos. It seemed to be working okay-ish. However they were having another small problem because Branden couldn't run down to Noah's class for a refill when he needed one.... because there often wasn't time, when your class all marches off outside you can't just say "hold on a second let me go grab a refill I'll be right back" it doesn't really work that way. And same for Noah when he's doing the ichinensei practice for undokai it's hard for him to just run 2 flights of stairs while he needs to be outside walking in straight little rows and dancing to the Mickey Mouse theme. So yeah I could understand how refilling their drinks was a pain and time problem also. So I finally just said to myself, they just have to get 2 bigger thermoses and that's that! There just was no other way. Because more then likely they'll have the same problem next year also. So this problem needed to be nipped in the bud right now. Also if you have any idea how hot Japan has been it's been scorching hot. Like people getting overheated...heat exhaustion.....heat stroke you know what I mean. And with their extended times they are now outside for long lengths of time and I don't want them keeling right over either or becoming ill because of dehydration either. So the bigger thermos thing had to happen for our family, it just had to. : ) So, I thought back and remembered.... didn't I see a huge thermos for kids sports in the Nissen catalog? So, I went and looked sure enough it was in the Summer catalog.
Found this holds 1.8 liters. Liked the Mizuno one. However hated the price 2,480 yen. and for 2? That would be near 5,000 yen! I'm sorry that's just way too much for a thermos! So, I went to a few shops. I checked Besia, Trial. I checked all over. I liked this jug style also but again not for that price. Absolutely out of the question!  I ended up finding a Coleman one for 980 yen each! It's the same size as the Mizuno one exactly! And Coleman is famous for their cooler boxes and keeping things cold. Plus the Coleman one has a strap for carrying around where the Mizuno one does not! We could get 2 thermoses for cheaper then 1 of the Mizuno ones!
True, it might not be as flashy as the Mizuno tri color thermos. @_@ But it's not exactly brand x either. And it's the same size. And Coleman really is a nice brand and I like the gray countouring on the side they made for this, for kids to easily hold. For you Americans this is a half gallon size. So it is more then enough. And if this helps.... it also holds 1.8 liters. Technically 1.89L so even an extra sip to boot! ; )  Now I just hope it gets here from Amazon.co.jp in enough time for this coming Saturday's undokai. And it's a flip up and down drinking spout same as the Mizuno one 

Now it is Monday and this is the start of my 2nd week back into our school routine/schedule. Things are going great today so far. I did 2 loads of laundry and they're inside already and put away already. I cleaned the house pretty well today. And as soon as I post this I'm running to the store for some fresh veggies. Sara udon/chicken chow mein tonight. : ) Alrighty time to motor! : )