Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Branden’s first observation day at the local junior high and family taco night! Meanwhile, Noah’s elementary school observation day and the obento he needed for that day! : )

Wednesday, April 16th was Branden's first class observation day at the local junior high. I wish Noboru could have went with me, since it was his first observation day at that particular school, I did worry if the way we sign up would be the same, etc etc. But you know, it couldn't be helped, Noboru had a work schedule that day, where he just couldn't come and that's okay really, I understood completely. So, I went solo and I was fine. : )  The observation day was to start at 1:30 and the kids would be getting out at 2:20pm that day at the JHS. There was to be a PTA meeting afterwards, but I don't have just 1 child, I have 2 and Noah was to get out of school at 2:45pm that day, so I had just enough time, to walk from the JHS, to the plaza where I parked my car and went and moved my car a little closer to where the elementary kids walk down, a lot of the mom's with younger kids didn't attend the JHS meeting either, same as me. The parking lot is the same where parents pick up kids at, but the JHS parents pick up at the opposite end of the parking lot to where the elementary kids parents pick up theirs, the parking lot is sorta huge so I just move my car depending which kid, I am visiting or picking up. Branden rides a bike to school, but not on rainy days. He rode though that day. Anyway, so I signed into the school, yep a little different, but easy. I stayed on the first floor since Branden's a first grader/7th grader. The mom's are still not meshed and combined yet, but it'll happen, I am sure. Though, I did good morning and smile at everyone. The prez of the kids club, whose son is in class B came over to chit chat with me, she's a lead/head/ alpha mom. And her son went to the local hoikuen and so she knows absolutely everyone and everyone knows her, so she said loudly so everyone could hear..."I wish our sons were in the same class so we could talk more" I think she wanted to do that, so everyone knew, we were friends! : ) I thought that was very cute of her to do that for me. She has a good heart to care about me like that. She also said, "if you need me, I am right next door", she's also the head mom for both 7th grade classes this year, anyway..... I did chit chat with the mom's from our school at the back of the class during observation day off and on... while watching the class (math was the subject that day). Saya-chan's mom and the boy who swam in the swim team with Branden are who I chit chatted with. I did notice a few of the other school mom's looking at me off and on during the class (not staring or meanly at all... just little peeks here and there, curious, I think). I tried to have a warm smile on my face, not crazy lunatic type smile, lol if you know what I mean... but like approachable, is what I'm saying. : )  This paper says what you remember most about your elementary school days...Branden wrote, his strongest memories of elementary school are his over night trip to Hakone, his graduation and also his swimming meets/competitions (he swam in two). What he hopes for, in JHS, Branden wrote down to be the best/top student in his English class. The animal he's really liking right now, he wrote down the sloth! Hahaha. That is true, Branden and Noah have been watching sloth videos on YouTube, they like their super long arms and laid back personalities and kind faces. So yeah he is into sloths right now. : ) All kids in both 7th grade classes wrote papers like this.  Also important to mention is at our particular elementary school, we get weekly newsletters about what the particular class did that week, for the past 12 months, for all of Branden's 6th grade year...both schools, "our" elementary school and the other town elementary school exchanged weekly newsletters, so every Friday for example Branden would bring home his 6th grade news and the other elementary 6th grade news. Pics are on there, etc...so, the kids were very smartly pushed/nudged to get to know one another all this past year. I like that the 2 schools did that!. So the other school knew many of our kids by name, by reading the weekly newsletter and vice versa. When the swim team swam, names and pics were on the newsletter and both schools shared those. So our 2 schools really put a huge amount of effort to combine both kids from both schools, pure genius of both schools.: ) Also in January our 6th graders were invited to go and have lunch at their elementary school and in February our 6th graders invited them to have lunch at our elementary school. Same food for both elementary schools and JHS by the way hahaha. But....again they really wanted the kids to feel comfortable with one another so by the time, junior high started, the kids had almost no hiccups at all with combining of the 2 schools into 1. A good amount of kids from 7th grade (both schools) also got together 2 Sunday's ago and went to karaoke and to the closest mall near our town, they all rode their bikes to the train station and caught the train together and came home together. Girl who moved from Ibaraki who was the only person who didn't come from our town elementary...she had a dance recital at that mall and her old/former classmates were there and according to Branden her former 6th grade teacher also showed up to watch and they were all relieved to see about 20 kids from her new JHS (our town JHS) show up in support of her too! They all felt huge amounts of relief...she yes she is part of the group, she's accepted, she has made tons of new friends and she will be okay. : )Branden says she's a very nice girl.  Her former classmates were wearing new green JHS outfits since they are also new 7th graders. Where our town has blue gym outfits. So former Ibaraki girl now wears a new blue gym outfit/uniform that is our town color of uniform. Noboru, Noah and I were at the local mall that day too...no not spying on Branden or anything, hahaha... it just so happens to be cheap meat day at the cheap meat store...so we did see many JHS in green uniforms.  So long story short, the kids have all blended into 1 group/class just beautifully.

These helmets are not the kids personal helmets, these are the school's helmets that stay in the classroom, they are in case of an earthquake. Their personal helmets that look exactly like these are nearest the window inside the class. So at our specific JHS, they no longer need the seat cover/disaster covers anymore...the bosaizukin.No more red and white hats, they use the red and white thin head bands, I pictured a few weeks back. When the kids clean the school, they must wear a bandana/head scarf or a tenugui. Just small little changes like this, I am noticing. Branden has 2 tenugui and 3 bandanas, 1 tenugui was a present for graduation, from our elementary school's PTA... but the other tenugui and 2 bandanas we bought at Trial because they were cheaper at 88 yen versus the 105-108 yen at the Daiso. I didn't take pics inside the classroom during observation day because I'm still getting adjusted to this school and so these were the only pics, I took. : )  Let's see, where was I...oh yes Noah hopped in my car, Branden beat us home by a minute or two, he was still putting his bike into the shed when we parked the car. They went into the kitchen and started on homework, while I started making supper, tacos that night. 
Noah mentioned to me the week before, "mommy you haven't made tacos in SO long" ...So, I asked..."Noah, would you like me to?" "Yes, you know I love tacos" lol! Branden chimed in..."yes please make tacos soon!!!" So with a request like that, I can't possibly refuse! : ) So the week before on a Friday...I went to Costco by myself and bought some ground beef and a few other odds and ends. I also went to Kaldi and bought some taco shells. I always buy 2 boxes of these and we always run out...this time, I bought 3 boxes! Much better for our family! : ) Noah alone can eat 4 tacos in 1 meal! Branden can eat 5 and be stuffed! Nobou, the same, my limit is 3. Hahaha. : ) And the next day, we always have leftovers, yumm. 

A big batch of taco meat from the Costco lean beef huge packs they sell. I only used half of it, the rest is in the freezer so we will be having tacos again soon. And I diced up 3 chicken breasts and made chicken tacos as well. We had 2 mini sour creams, Colby Jack cheese, lettuce and salsa. It was a good dinner after a nice Wednesday observation day. 

I had 2 chicken tacos and in 20 minutes, I had 1 more. 

Meanwhile, Noah had observation day, the same week Branden had his, but Noah had his on a Saturday. April, 19th. Since the lunch ladies don't work on Saturday's a lunch was needed. And again, since Noah gets like 3 obentos a year, I know what they always ask for. : )  I woke up bright and early Saturday morning and got breakfast made quickly and also got lunch made for Noah as well.  158 yen for a nice good sized clear package of strawberries and they are so sweet. People grow lots of strawberries and melons around here. : ) 

It was just 1 day before Easter, so Noah was given an Easter napkin, 2 rice balls, well technically triangles : ) Karaage (fried chicken, doesn't matter if it's cold or fresh it's still good.: ) 3 fries and 1 broccoli. 1 slice of chocolate roll cake and 1 frozen pineapple jelly and 4 super sweet fresh strawberries. With a thermos with lots of ice and jasmine tea (no sugar)...Branden had lunch at home so he had the other slice of cake and same lunch basically but at home. : )  Also dessert was never allowed at either of the yochien's my kids went to school at....but our elementary school does allow dessert and everyone brings one. So...

Noboru, Branden and I showed up to support Noah and observe his class. They were doing math. Interesting because Branden's observation day a few days earlier was also math too. : ) New teacher and a new "helper" teacher too. But both ladies are both super nice. 

The helper teacher goes around and checks every one's answers and here she was checking Noah's answer, he was right and so we were smiling at the back of the class. Both of the boys are so good at math. Which is wonderful because, I suck at math, to be fair...I'm fine at...addition, subtraction, multiplication, algebra is even okay, but anything beyond that and it's a crap shoot. : ) Noboru is excellent at math though so, I am glad the boys didn't inherit my math skills. Anyway.... : ) 

This color + this other color = this color. I enjoyed seeing which colors Noah came up with, which colors he mixed. Very nice! : )  Noboru had to leave immediately after the observation of class part. Which is totally fine, I know this school, inside and out...have known this school for 7 years. So, I have no worries at all. Since this was the first meeting of the school year though, I knew this would be, super long meeting day. @.@ Nearly 2 hours of meetings! Holy cow! Noboru drove both Branden and Noah home, they were told to stay inside the house and not leave or answer the door until I came home. Usually the kids can wait in the school library, but this meeting at the beginning of the school year is notorious for being mind boggling long. Like heaven help you..type long! Hahaha. 

Meeting 1 and 2 would be in the gym! Meeting 1 was the handover meeting from the PTA reps from last year (Saya-chan's mom and stuff) to the new 6th grade head mom's, Then we went through a bunch of papers, pamphlet, which a lady is going through in this picture. If anyone objects to this... speak now or forever hold your peace...dead silence..okay proposition #2...if anyone objects please speak up...dead silence. This happened many many countless times and so we just did our best to get through it. I chit chatted with the "jinbei boy's mom" my fellow VP/fuku kaicho and the pres/kaicho. So us 3, were together. Then the teachers all came in and all stood in a line and they introduced teachers new and old...this is the 1st grade teacher, 2nd grade teacher, 3rd grade teacher...etc etc. We clapped. Then the meeting #1 was done. This took an hour for what it's worth. Then we all stood in the gym but we separated by where we live..in Japanese as far as our town school goes... we separate by what "Chiku" we live in, but for you living outside of Japan the best way to explain it is...we separate by what district we live in. Not to sound all Hunger Games-y or anything. : ) My district or Chiku for example is... the name of my housing community. So whoever lives in our specific housing community, belongs in the same Chiku as me...because we live in the same district or area. That's how our town chooses to separate us. The housing community across the street from ours... is a totally and completely different name and district...so they have a meeting in the gym but not with us, because what is happening in their housing community is different from what's happening in our housing community or our Chiku. There is a new boy who just moved into our housing community/district...and so after we had the whole school meeting (meeting #1)....we started meeting #2...which is separated by district/Chiku, community where you live. I am the Vice president, which is a fuku kaicho of my Chiku/district, for the kids club, so anything kids wise happening in my chiku, is something we are personally handling/goes through us and so the prez and my co VP and I...us 3 stood next to our 2 teacher reps. Branden's 5th grade teacher is a teacher rep for our district and another teacher too. If you live here and you have any worry, any complaint or concern. This is the time you can speak up and say it to the whole crowd of us who live in the same district...or you can direct your question to the 2 teachers or you can direct your question to the prez or the Jinbei Boy's mom or you can direct your question to me. Somebody that day, did have a concern...her concern was...she has a 4th or 5th grade son, but she also has a ichinensei daughter...and she is concerned that her daughter is walking too far...our housing community is 3km away and her daughters legs are getting tired and she is wondering if we can get a bus to take kids from our specific housing community to school. It was a fair question because while our town is too small to have regular buses, we do have 1 town mini van and it could be used for such a drive to the school, so a fair question, I thought. I can understand how hard that walk is for kids carrying heavy stuff. Nobody really knew how to answer her question, I could hear a few murmurs, "a bus is not possible" I could hear...then a lot of silence and then.. The lady teacher finally said... "it is for the health and best interest for the child to walk" @.@..."but if you feel its too far, drive her, we don't have a walk-only policy at our school", I did feel bad, because I also feel it's far for kids to walk and I didn't realize she also had that concern. : ( Anyway...we 3 head mom's greeted the new mom who just moved into our community. I spoke to a friend or two and then it was done. Time for meeting #3, class meeting. 

So, now I walk from the gym, to the 2nd floor, to Noah's 3rd grade class. According to the papers we got the meetings were all supposed to be over and done with at 4:30pm but I didn't get out of Noah's class until 4:50pm. I arrived home at 5pm when the 5pm music was playing throughout the neighborhood. You'd think being in the 3rd grade we would no longer need to do the self introductions. But nope...we had to. Gosh I dislike doing self introductions, where I can feel every one's eyeballs on me. Makes me so nervous. : ( The bright side is, only about 6 parents were in the class when it was my turn...they were still in the gym ending their district meeting while we started the 3rd grade meeting. Also only about 16 mom's/dad's showed up for the class meeting anyway..out of what...36 or so kids. Oh well. Don't be concerned with what others do and don't...only be concerned with what you do, is what I was always told growing up. : ) I just kept my intro short.."Hi, I'm Noah's mom, umm I'm American...we live in such and such district/housing community/chiku, Noah has 1 older brother who graduated this last March, his dad works for Delta doing blah blah blah...Noah loves soccer and swimming, he is a little shy, his older brother is not shy at all btw, hahaha. But Noah has a good heart and would give the shirt off his back for his friends. The teacher was wanting us to say...our worry about our kids...or problems. Which is why I did mention the he has a tendency to be a bit shy part otherwise I wouldn't have mentioned it at all. Another mom...whose kid is pretty over weight. : ( She introduced herself as...I am the mother of the "ichiban hayai" and continued explaining" #1 boy who eats his lunch fastest...that caused a chuckle but then she got serious and she said he is getting teased a lot in class and to please be aware of it. And it is causing him hurt feelings. : (  Noah's shy and a worry wart so I know he'd never tease anyone. But..I could feel for the mom. We went around the room...listening and sharing. 1 mom said...and her daughter Y-chan is a new 6th grader this year and she swims with Branden at swim school...also swam in the swim meet last year...anyway she stood and said...she has a 6th grader 3rd grader and a 1st grader...and she said ganbarimasu!!! And we all said...wow you must be working so hard going from classroom to classroom during observation day ne~! The meeting did seem to go on forever... but it was good and positive that we all could express any concerns we had. I don't really have any concerns at all about Noah...Noah has lots of friends, he's not having any problems or anything.The only thing I could think of to add...was he is a little shy...and I know he misses his brother being at the same school, but he's adjusting, it's normal. But other than that...nothing really major at all. The meeting took forever. But it was a good meeting to attend. After that, the teacher said, to make sure the kids all have trim fingernails and handkerchiefs on Mondays, that's the day they do class checks for those. I wrote that down in English for myself on a notepad to remember for later. She said, they were ordering dictionaries soon and which one she rec'd out of the 3, again glad I heard the info. So I jotted that down on my notepad. She said, the kids need to have a handkerchief with their recorders for cleaning it, again nice to know... so I wrote it down. She did talk about shuji/calligraphy and to make sure they had a grungy old pair of clothes that they could change into...that could be ruined basically because with 36 or so kids accidents were bound to happen. Yikes! Hahaha. I wrote the info down, but having already "been there, done that" so to speak...Noah's taking Branden's grungy shuji outfit. It's a black pair of boy capris/long shorts (think they were about 700 yen years ago, they were bought specifically as shuji shorts), black T shirt (jet black it cost nothing, it was free and says Delta on it) and denim long sleeved apron/smock (800 yen and bought specifically for shuji and yes it has a few shuji stains on it because that stuff stains like the dickens). Anyway...after meeting #3, the class meeting...went home after a lovely observation day, 3 longest meetings in the whole entire universe... went home and made supper. It was a fast chicken curry that night. Good thing, I prepped diced the chicken and veggies that morning (plastic wrapped in the fridge) and set the rice, shoulda made the curry that morning, but I was so busy cleaning up obento and breakfast mess, that all I could muster was prepping for dinner and getting myself ready for observation day and hanging a load of laundry outside, so not bad for me...dinner was fairly easy and my gosh was my brain fried after all that. : )  I do enjoy the class meetings though, those are my faves of the 3 meetings, because we can all relate. Doesn't matter if your kid is having a weight problem, in either direction of the scale, we bottom line... all worry. I worry Noah's too skinny...I worry if he doesn't eat more and get some meat on his bones... will he be short forever? Hahaha. ne~ See, we all have worries, and it was nice to hear the other mothers worry too. It humanizes us all, I think. Also, 2 other parents and I bonded over our kids messy inside desks/their trays. H's mom (H is a 7th grade girl and in Branden's class but she has a little brother in Noah's class. H's mom looked inside the drawer inside her sons desk...she pulled out her son's jump rope...with no handles/like cut off handles!!! How can he jump with no handles she says making a joke! I looked inside Noah's desk! Noah's liquid Garigari glue was all glued up, cap was glued shut...I said...look at this, "how can Noah even use his glue?" We all laughed! She tried to tie the handles back on the jump rope before declaring it a goner, I cleaned the dried crusty bits of glue on Noah's glue and made the lid able to open again.  A dad sitting in between us, all his son's crayons were broken in half...how can my son crayon with these?! He marveled and laughed. We 3 were having a good old time during the meeting going through their stuff. The stuff we all found in the trays had us all in stitches! A lot of the other parents found equally weird things inside the desks/trays. H's brother and Noah have the same green stapler from Daiso, both us mom's laughed. 


This pic was taken Friday morning April 11th. The night before like I said earlier...Thursday night Noah asked me to make tacos and I thought considering weekends at Costco are usually too busy, I better run on Friday to get the ground beef. I picked up a hunk of cheese and the lean ground beef for the tacos. Easter M&M's for Easter...mozzarella cheese, since we use it a lot. Popcorn for family movie night, since the price is cheap and we like popcorn. The rotisserie chicken was for dinner Saturday, the next day and the tiramisu was to enjoy as a treat for that weekend.  
Nope, I didn't have time to eat lunch at Costco, but I brought the sandwich home and had lunch at home instead, and that Friday, April 11th we kicked the weekend off with a pizza for dinner that night. Noah was to get off school at 2pm that day... so I was worried if I'd make it back, to my town... from Inzai/Chiba New Town in enough time, which is why I took the hot/warm chicken provolone sandwich with me home instead.  Anyway, there you have it...2 observation days, taco night and an obento/lunch all rolled into 1 post. : ) I tell ya, I'm a little cruiser...I zip between both schools, do the meeting thing...zip to Costco, zip back to my town. : ) Tonight we're having ginger pork. : )  I've got a load of towels hanging outside and my 2nd load hanging outside is the kitchen mats and toilet mats hanging outside too. Noah's bedding is in the dryer and it's done so I have to run upstairs right now and make Noah's bed and throw in Branden's sheets into the washer next. Noah gets out at 3pm, so I have to leave the house at 2:45pm to get a good parking spot. Grandma next door is back, she is well, she had pneumonia, she said she felt bad for a week, stopped eating, went to the docs they took an x-ray and on her lung x-ray there were dark gray spots on her x-ray in her lung area, so they admitted her. But she is fine now.