Monday, October 14, 2013

Undokai/Sport's Day 2013

September 28th, was our elementary school's undokai/sport's day.  This is going to be Branden and Noah's last undokai together. So, it was quite special. : ) It began with 4 kiddos raising the flag. 
Our entire school population right there, in this picture. I keep forgetting if it's 198 or if it's 208 or something kids, yes that includes all grades. The other school in our town has a kid count of 40 or so, for all 6 grades, hahaha. @.@ Both schools merge in junior high. Our school with a tiny population of 200 or so kids is the bigger of the 2 schools, but still shrimpy in size compared to some bigger city schools with a thousand or so kids. : ) Also you will notice most pictures of our school it is indeed surrounded by greenery. Only the entrance of the school has a few scatterings of a couple very old school type, old houses. But nothing else. : )
The red hats all walk behind the red flag and the white hats all walk behind the white flag. It's all in good fun, but yes the white hats want to win! And same for the red hats too. Though. I think by the end of the day, every one's just tired, had a full yet fun long day, everyone had a nice lunch and we're all okay with whichever team wins in the end. No hard feelings at all. Nothing serious. 
This picture is important to me. You see, there is a red hat and a white hat at the front facing the principal, both raising their hands and giving a final speech! Red hat is the president of the entire school/whole school. And that's Genki, Branden's bf since yochien/kindergarten. And the one in the white hat, is my son, Branden. Yes, Branden is, the vice president for the entire student body. Like student council VP for those of you in America. Also, really important to note. Branden kept telling me about his speech, he was very excited about giving his speech. And there were about 4 speakers on before them. And they all stood on the podium, where the principal is standing, in this picture. So, I didn't move or change spots because as you can see, I am in a perfect spot to see whoever is standing at the podium. Imagine my shock and horror when both Branden and Genki did NOT get on the podium like all the other previous speakers.  I was trying not to be too hard on myself... but I was like mildly freaking out. I felt so bad! I wished I was like Samantha in Bewitched and could freeze everyone and then run over and begin again. But, there the kids kept speaking. And I was really disappointed, that I could not capture not even a picture or anything. However as it turns out. Genki's family also had a catastrophe at that same very time, their camcorder decided to die at that exact moment also! @.@ I know, right? Seriously, what are the odds. Anyway Genki's mom asked me if we got it on video or any pics or anything because they did not. We told her our story. She told us theirs and so she called the school and the 6th grade #1 class sensei apparently is a rad movie taker, so he zipped up 2 copies, 1 for Branden and 1 for Genki and we now have it, their whole speech on dvd. I have yet to see it, as of right now. But I will, and if I can get something for this blog I'll post it. But, anyway this is the only shot/pic of their speech. : (  I am so very very sorry Branden.  Gee, I just wish, I would have known where they were standing, *which direction*, podium or no podium. Sigh. : ( But, it is what it is. And the bright side is, I do have footage and a memory of it. So for that I am grateful. 
It's easy to find your child when there's only a couple rows of kids total. Hahaha. : ) Also Noah looks pretty western, facial feature-wise and pale skin coloring make him even easier to find in the crowd. Plus add on, some neon shoe laces and it makes it even easier to find Noah. : )  Noah doing his warm up exercise.
Watching Noah exercise some more and then it was time to go locate Branden.
Again, with just a couple rows of kids, it is easier to find my kiddo. Plus the neon shoe laces, helped a lot. I can track Branden down super easy. Branden has a nice and healthy coloring that is common in Japan, so the laces helped a lot, like I said. : ) 
Mr. handsome and his classmates doing their warm up exercises on this field for the last time as an elementary school, sport day participant. 
The white team.
The red team. They always sit under a nice big tarp for sun shade/protection. In fact unless they are doing a race on the field they are sitting under the shade with thermos to drink whenever they felt thirsty. 
The races at our school start youngest to oldest grade wise. So the first graders race went first. And the 2nd graders went on 2nd. Here was the 2nd graders in action. I see Noah and his neon green shoe laces sitting waiting his turn, far right. Spotted those super easy. All other grades were sitting under the tarp in the shade. Except the 2nd graders at this time. 
And now it is Noah's turn, far right. 
Six kids total racing this race. Noah far right. 
Check out Noah's...on your mark...get set, pose! Hahaha. : ) 
Good race kiddo, good race! Noah came in 3rd. 
Noah can be seen in the row behind the 3rd flag, you can find him by his laces and he is clapping for his friends in this picture.
The 2nd graders had 2 races in a row! Hahaha. Here Noah was right back again in the same spot, far right! 
I love Noah's getting ready to run poses! Hahaha. 
You had to rock, paper scissor and then get something from the box, in this case a jump rope. 
Look at this expression on Noah, you guys! Jock all the way! : )
A 6th grader, friend of Branden's walks Noah gently to the 3rd place flag, yet again. Hmm, Noah and all these 3rd place finishes, hahaha. : )
Noah clearly not caring one way or the other what place he finished, he's having a ball regradless. He's chit chatting away with his friend who placed 2nd place in the race before Noah raced in.
Mom friend of mine, gently putting a #3 sticker on Noah's head. : )
Noah you are starting to turn pink, you poor dear. Time to get under that tarp for some much needed sun protection. And yes I slathered on sun protection on the kids before undokai but Noah needed a bit more during lunch break.: ( He just doesn't do well under the sun. : ( Not at all.
Then the 3rd graders, 4th, and 5th graders went and we went and sat down on our spot and rested a bit. And then the 6th graders had their race. So, we went back to get a spot to take a picture.  You can tell Branden by his laces, he's the one in the middle. 
You have grown right before my eyes kiddo. Couldn't be prouder. : )
Branden and 2 of his classmates helped the ichinensei with one of their races, this was their 2nd or 3rd race that day. But Branden stood there and he did a good job. Making sure all the kids stood in their own lanes and stuff. : )
Then it was time for Noah in the pants relay! This is 2 kids, a 2nd grader and a 5th grader to run together in a great big pair of pants. The red hats in the red pants and the white hats in the white pants. Noah was sitting down in this pic. 
Noah and the 5th grader took off running in 1 pair of giant over sized pants. Run kids run!!!!
Noah is flying in this pic, look at his feet he's mid air, lol. 
Both Branden and Noah were both on the white team, so I was screaming go white team!!! : ) 
And without the zoom. 
And Noah was running yet again, this time he was running with a girl. Before, I forget to mention it, the day before, while we were setting up our spot. A fellow mom of our former yochien, who also happens to be an elementary school teacher at our particular town school. She always looks out for Branden and Noah and the other few kids from our yochien there, by the way which is peace of mind. : ) Anyway she tells us, Yayoi sensei is coming here tomorrow to see Noah-kun! OMG! I said, that is so exciting and good to hear! We can't wait! Noah was so excited! So we got the heads up. Anyway, when I saw Sera's mom undokai morning, I told her in Japanese real quick, "Yayoi sensei is coming to see Sera and Noah" Ahhh, thank you she said. So we all sort of had the heads up. Anyway, while we were at our spot, Branden runs over to our tent and says, "Yayoi-sensei is HERE and so is my sensei!" We walked right over to the white hat side and sure enough there was Noah's yochien sensei all 3 years, the wonderful and amazing Yayoi sensei pictured in the gray sweatshirt and black t shirt and olive green pants pictured down below. 
Our yochien really takes care of their own. Even years later. Anyway, the lady on the left in the yellow scarf. Was Branden's teacher and Genki's teacher. Because there is no yochien in our actual town, they would ride the school bus and way before they had a big fancy yellow new school bus, this was when they drove just a gray minivan and the only 2 kids who even rode the bus were just Genki and Branden. So 1 elderly grandpa would drive the bus and her, in the yellow scarf (U-sensei) would be the bus chaperon every single day. So she would spend every single morning with Branden and Genki and every afternoon with Branden and Genki. Branden was 4 when we moved to this town and when he started that school in the small city nearest us. U-sensei in the yellow scarf has known Branden since age 4. Branden's first language was English. He didn't really learn Japanese until yochien. We speak only English in our home because we want the boys both bilingual. Branden's Japanese was so choppy. But this sensei U-sensei was so nice and caring. And as for Noah, they knew Noah since he was 6 months old, before he could walk, and I'd go and visit Branden at the school sometimes. for observation day. Each year Branden's Japanese got stronger, and meanwhile he was in Kumon writing and reading Japanese. And by the time he started first grade he could speak Japanese like a native and English like a native also. Some people just have such kindness in them and this teacher U-sensei had it. And Branden just adored her. When Noah started yochien, Yayoi-sensei was Noah's sensei. She had known him, like I said, since he was a baby... years before because Branden went there. My gosh, Noah cried for 10 days straight because he was so nervous being at kindergarten and she would hug him and play with him in the sand. Noah also knew only English, but he learned Japanese *so* quickly. So his Japanese was spotty at the time only at first. But these 2 ladies loved them like they were their own. The day Noah graduated, the Yayoi sensei cried. I knew they would miss these boys so much. I have lots of pictures of these ladies in Branden and Noah's yochien scrapbooks. I can only imagine the U-sensei's pride hearing the speech from the president and vice president of the whole school... her 2 former students, the little boys she used to read books to at age 4 in the school bus. : ) The U-sensei told Noboru and I, about their speech with tears in her eyes she said, I always knew Branden was going to grow up and do big things...I knew it!!!!   The Yayoi-sensei was so happy to see Noah, she said, "he looks exactly the same except he just got bigger!!!" We laughed and said, I know right? Hahaha. She said, OMG, he's such a chatter box. Noah and the Yayoi-sensei talked and talked. They both told both Branden and Noah how incredibly proud they are of them. And they both promised that they would continue to keep an eye on them and watch them as they grow from time to time. Don't laugh, but it just really made me feel part of something hearing that. Apparently in the country side of Japan, it really does take a village to raise a child and they want to watch the progress of said child as well. : ) They care...they really do. Why else would they make the drive on their day off, just to see the boys..... if they did not care.: ) These ladies rock! And I do respect them so much. These are 2 of the coolest teachers ever! We love you Yayoi sensei and U-sensei, from our hearts! Thanks for caring so much about us and our boys. And I'm so fortunate they were Branden and Noah's teachers. By the way...the one in the yellow scarf is now the VP of the yochien now. : ) 
They also spoke with Sera. And also with Genki. The year Branden started first grade, the only 2 kids from our yochien were Branden and Genki. And the only 1st graders coming from our yochien when Noah started were just Noah and Sera. So there aren't many kids from our particular yochien at our elementary school, but they do keep an eye on the few of them, that are here. And for what it's worth. Noah's teacher right now, his 2nd grade teacher. She is old school same yochien. Her husband graduated from that yochien and same with her 2 grown kids. She has deep ties to that Catholic school. And so she keeps a real close eye on Noah and Sera. Anyway, it was real cool of the yochien sensei's to come and visit. Branden and Noah were so happy. All of the kids from our yochien were happy seeing them. : ) Also, it's important and fair to note the other yochien's in our area (city nearest us), also visit their own former students at the elementary school in our area also, so it is not just our yochien. And I also hear a few of our elementary school teachers go and peek at the junior high kids also. : ) So it is nice to hear.: )
Branden beating the drum during undokai and Sera talking with Branden. 
Branden and Genki. Geeze they've been friends for like....forever, right? Since yochien. Both real good kids, real good students. They just finished talking to the U-sensei before I snapped this picture.  
Best friends chatting away.
Branden has a slight crush on M-chan and she has a slight crush right back. Genki likes some other girl and I forget who he told me it was. That's probably what these 2 boys are chatting about on the field, right here! : ) 
Branden and his neon shoe laces and you will never believe this, but Branden walked away with an award for jump rope on undokai! Hahaha. Go figure. : ) 
Parent and child race. Noboru and Branden. And then we had a break for lunch. 
Usually I make karaage and rice balls etc. but I wanted to make this instead, especially since my dad was there this time. Not that he'd mind one way or the other. Sandwiches made out of those mini dinner rolls from Costco, oh those are so good to make sandwiches from, and the sandwiches had, Miracle whip, lettuce, rotisserie chicken with a little salt and pepper sprinkled on each sandwich and provolone cheese. We had fresh fruit that I arranged also and oatmeal cookies from scratch. Variety packs of chips and some iced lemonade, and some semi frozen slushy consistency of Qoo. : )
A very unflattering picture of the boys eating. Sorry boys. I know you both were just trying to eat in peace. : ) 
Well this pic, I can put in both of your scrapbooks.
Noboru and Noah after they ate and just enjoying some time together. Branden and my dad and I were meanwhile talking under the tent. 
Ahhh, Mr. dimples don't grow up too fast on me, okay? Sniff sniff. : ) Though you will be my baby forever kiddo! : )
See the clouds? No rain, but we needed a nice cloudy day. That way, Noah and I didn't burn to a crisp out there. Hahaha. : )
Doesn't everyone look so happy in the background after eating. So relaxed and in such a good mood. : ) Noah is meanwhile smiling away talking to a friend you can't see at this angle but he's there. : )
Hi kiddo!
I see the neon laces Branden and I know you were wearing a green bandana. You have been spotted! : )
Mickey Mouse song about to start!
Cute bow tie Noah!
The pom poms are made out of two 500 ml plastic soda/tea or water bottles. And at our particular school, the kids all make their own pom poms during class with their teachers help as a craft lesson. The only thing I had to do was, buy 2 plastic bottles for Noah and 2 for Branden and rinse them out, the rest they did at school in class themselves.
Next was the Father's Club, and misc. parents whoever wanted to join and the teachers tug o' war. 
All of the men wearing the yellow shirts are active members of the "Father's Club." Meanwhile, in yochien, the PTA and all summer festivals, and bake sales we had type thing were run by us mom's, the women. For many mom's it was fun joining and getting to do this. But for some working mom's it was difficult having to balance, one of my closest friends at the yochien was a working mama. So, while it is true, it is not so common the way our elementary school chooses to run things, it is sort of cool that our elementary school is more so run by the Father's/men. They handle and organize most of the events. The haunted walk through at night during the summer was totally Father's Club run. This undokai was largely overseen by the dad's as well. So slightly unusual/different. But really cool and way less stressful and work on us mom's. And yes we do have a PTA, but the load of work is super light with the Father's Club pulling at least half the weight of the school activities. : ) Weird/unusual, right? But in a good way. : ) Noboru's in the Father's Club of course. He loves being involved and active in the community, he believes it is very important for us and the kids to stay involved. And me too, I'm just as involved in the community. Remember our hot dog selling booth this summer? ; )
And who is one of the school photographers in this pic? : ) A dad/guy, as you can see!!! hahaha. School photography duties went half PTA (women) and half males/Father's Club. They do take half the work load for our school. Anyway, I do love our school so much! : )
Then the red and white team had a dance off! The red team danced first. Then the white team went and danced, pictured here! You can see Branden's blue shoes on the left side. Teacher in the gray pants and black shirt also dancing. Lady in pink and black shirt is a mom of Branden's classmate. She is also a nurse in our town, the one in pink and black. : ) She has a 6th grade daughter and a 7th grade son. : ) And the lady in cream crouching down is my neighbor, from 2 houses down, she is Rin's mom and lives on the other side of grandma next door. : ) Sorry, just small town and it's hard not to notice that wow, you know everyone on that field. : ) Hahaha. I worked the town undokai that just happened this past weekend, so I could not work the elementary undokai too. That will be on a different post though. : )
Go white team! Get your groove on yo! ; )
Noah's events were all finished by now. And this was Branden's very last event!!!  Six kids per race. Genki 2nd to the left. And Branden 2nd to the right. The shoe laces are a dead give away. : )
Because they are 6th graders, emphasis on taking pics of them during this undokai was huge! A school photographer was snapping a pic and Branden waved for the camera. : )
Branden and 2 of his classmates smiling and looking at the person snapping a picture for their yearbook.
And they're off! : )
Branden was so fast!
But this wasn't about speed, it was, you have to read the instructions and then follow said instructions. : )
Again because they are 6th graders each pair of students had 1 photographer on hand waiting to take each of their picture. Branden and Saya pictured here had to run together. 
Branden and Saya and one of the schools teachers taking a pic. There was a person in front taking a couple pictures each of the trio. 
Example here. See 1 parent taking a couple pictures of the 2 kids plus 1 teacher. Each child duo/pair had to be paired and had multiple pics taken of them plus a teacher for the yearbook! So this wasn't about speed, it was more so a smart and clever way to get that perfect yearbook shot captured! Done and done! : )
Red hats tug o war versus the white hats! 
The white team won! : ) See their hands in the air! : )
The 6th graders game of chicken. Object of the game, pull off your opposing teams hat! Get as many hats as you can! Father's Club handled this one completely! All mothers could take a rest. 
And Father's club dad's all took their own pictures as you can see also. It really is a fair way our school chooses to runs things. Not all of the work load is pushed onto the mom's. And that's cool. Also, for what it's worth, our town does not believe in radio taiso either, lol, so we haven't had it! Not even when we moved in! Apparently our town appreciates sleep in summer. hahaha. : ) Again, unusual town and school, I know. : ) 
There was a hidden program that was NOT on the undokai paper schedule everyone had a copy of. They did call the 6th graders onto the field, the dad's all happily shouted and said..."and don't even think you can leave this school without battling us at tug o war first!!!" : ) All the 6th graders were surprised and thought they weren't going to do what they did last year. So the 6th graders all ran onto the field, cheering. And the dad's went and grabbed the rope out. 
20 Father's versus 41 kids. And would you believe the kids beat the dad's both times! And they did not "let" them win! They won fair and square. Us mother's laughed at that one. : )
And time to clean up afterwards. Kids clean up and parents too. Branden helping take the flag banner down. : )
After all the clean up was over and done. The kids started lining up outside. Here's Noah with his Mario backpack chatting with 2 of his classmates. He sure has a lot of friends. : )
More chatting from Noah. You can see the laces.
And then it was time for the speech from the class president and vice president! Genki in his Adidas sweatshirt and Branden in his Denver Broncos backpack.  And that sensei walking in the background with glasses, she is the sensei who is also from our same yochien. : )
Discussing what they will say, etc. 
When, I think back and think about Branden speaking only English, until age 3 when he first started (his first yochien),  how he worked so hard in reading and writing Japanese in Kumon since age 3. Same with Noah. And they also took English reading and writing at Kumon as well. But watching their Japanese shoot up, from age 3 to age 6. By first grade their Japanese was absolutely no different then anyone else's. Kumon made sure their Japanese was right up with their peers. They have never had to take a remedial or extra class. They are neck and neck with their classmates, sometimes their subjects they're actually ahead. They get mostly all A's. Maybe a B here or there. But their grades are very high. And they speak English like I do. Branden will graduate next February but when he does, he leaves this school with a very good reputation. Swimming team every summer, plus this year he was swim team captain, plus this year he was VP of the school also, and all the teachers just love him so much, they all think he's such a good kid, kind and fair to all. : ) And Noah will be following in his big brother's foot steps no doubt, I am sure. : ) 
Class secretary and one other job, I forget but the job goes to a 5th grader. So Branden and Genki were talking to them before it was time to make announcements. 
All kids have to sit down and listen to the student heads/reps. 
Branden standing dead center in front of the podium talking on the megaphone.: ) Anyway that's the long and short of it. Okay mostly long of it. Hahaha. : ) The boys each got a shave ice afterwards that they sell at the school for the drive on the way home. 
And then well, you already know we went and had yakiniku for dinner that night! We were so happy it was all over with! Both of the boys did really good! And we could all just exhale and say...phew! Job well done to us all. I mean I got up early also and made the obento. Meanwhile, Branden and Noah did so much during undokai. Especially mister student body VP. ; ) Noboru participated in a lot of races and rope pulling. My dad just enjoyed it all and being part of it all. : ) It was just the perfect way to celebrate undokai being done! : ) Anyway, this was Branden and Noah's last undokai together for elementary school, 2013.