Monday, January 23, 2017

Branden's celebration dinner...

Preparing for Branden's high school entrance exam. That already happened and he got in, but I think for those of you with younger kiddos than Branden, this information could be useful. In Japan kids are only guaranteed an education until the end of middle school. High school is much like university or college in the US, in the fact you must apply and the schools decides if they want to accept you or not. This is an *extremely* stressful time for JHS kids in Japan. I once read one time... on a blog by a foreign mom that she thought Japanese JHS was "soul sucking" You know the life right out of you. And I would have to say, I agree with that statement 100%. Also know there are private high schools and public high schools. Also in Japan high schools are ranked. There are actual websites for Chiba prefecture at least... that show, this school is the #1 ranked best high school with the smartest kids and test scores. All the way down to the worst high school with the worst test scores in all of Chiba prefecture. I am sure other prefectures have such an online list too. So public school or private school really depends it a good school? Are there goods kids going there or bad kids? Horrible test scores? Best test scores? There are also high schools that steer your kid a certain way. Meaning there is a baking high school in Chiba because my friends daughter went there. The "Professor" for example is going to a science type of high school that will be focusing on science and that is because he wants to be a doctor and most super smart kids... hoping to be doctors in the future who live in Chiba will want or aim for that school. It really just depends on your kid. Your kids test scores. We're lucky in the fact that we live bordering Chiba and Ibaraki. And because Bran has a...what in Japan considers a "special skill" meaning his English is good enough to be in the English program. So he can go to a school....even out of his prefecture. So his choices were between 2 prefectures. And from there... we just researched which high school focusing on English was the best. Nicest teachers. Seems fun. High test scores. Meaning good kids. We don't want Bran in a school of thugs, iykwim. So we found a very nice ranked school. And it met all our requirements. Also another factor is cost. Public high schools are free for the most part and private school costs. And it can be a bargain cheaper private school... all the way to a fancy private school. So cost is also a factor too. And like I said... there are study books for each school. We bought ours.. for the school Bran was aiming for... from But they're also at local bookstores too. For example...if your kid is hoping to get into John F Kennedy high school...just for example. There will be an actual JFK high school book with all the entrance exam test questions for the last 5-6 years. That is SUPER helpful because it helped Branden know...and us know...the school seems to always ask math questions like THIS. Or this school seems to always ask English questions like THAT. This helps you prepare! You could see some sort of pattern after a while. And Branden would go through that booklet and test himself and Noboru would mix up year 26 and 27 (Japanese years) and Branden would answer them. And if Branden got 1 wrong Noboru would go through it with Branden. So while I am not an advice giver usually. I would the study book for whatever school your kid hopes to get into. Also interview...everyone gets an interview. Even with a principal recommendation they still had an interview. The positive is...there are also interview books to buy specially for JHS kids about to take their entrance into high school. This was so helpful. Noboru told Branden...those poor interviewers are probably so sick of the same...robotic answers! Word for word... from these interview books. So he the books be prepared for the question yes *but*...give an original answer! Be an original. Give an answer they haven't heard for that day 9 thousand times already! And I agreed. So Branden went and knew every question...possible question and he knew his own original answer... for every question. Also last year 1 girl from our JHS took the test for Bran's high school and she got in, she will be an 11th grader when Bran starts. Our JHS had her write down all the questions she got during her interview. And they also photo copied her test questions from last year (they did block out her name for her privacy). Our JHS gave a photo copy to Branden since he was trying for the same school except 1 year after. And they did the same for Bran too. They had Bran bring his year 2017 test questions in for the entrance exam, which they photo copied and they had Branden write down his 3 questions that this specific high school asked of him. And then the future tries for this high school they will be getting Branden's photo copy of test questions. And interview questions. It's just our JHS tries to help this way, which is so nice. The high school before the entrance exam day...sent us and everyone a letter... it said what to bring. It said...bring a few HB pencils. Same for us in America they won't let us take exams without a #2 pencil because the machines won't read them otherwise. And the note said to bring an eraser and pencil sharpener and a watch. The note also said to bring your own obento/lunch. There would be none offered and the drink machines would be turned off... so to bring your own drink too. I bought the HB pencils from Yacs drugstore. And the rest of the things came from the Daiso. Because Branden uses mechanical pencils... for regular school life. We also dry cleaned his JHS uniform during winter break. And I also bought a lint brush for 100 yen from the Daiso. So he could de-lint the morning of test day.  

He has his regular Mono eraser, this brand is so popular for kids in Japan. But, I also bought some mini Mono erasers too before his big test. I guess I kept thinking, what if he lost one on test day? Also, our JHS said to not have name stickers on anything during the entrance exam because they (the test guards/officials) could wonder what the sticker says and even if they went to look and it's nothing it could look bad. So our particular JHS urged no name stickers on entrance exam test day. So, I made sure to send Bran with these 3 pencils, I also threw in an extra of Noah's pencils (a Qoo one) Bran took 4 HB pencils. 3 Mono erasers. I put pencil caps on the pencils and the pencils were sharpened by our big sharpener at home. But he did take the mini one in case the lead broke. Branden has a GAP watch. Noah has a cool orange watch. And I would have been happy to lend him my Rolex. He's mine son so of course I would lend it to him. But...I figured for the's best to send him with a plain black Daiso cheapie. Therefore nobody has to wonder...if the GAP logo is some sort of hidden math formula or anything... plus his GAP watch has a beetle design and it could make someone come and look and I didn't want that, so plain was best. Yes he'll probably never use the plain black test watch again... but it suited the day of the test and that's all what matters. 

JHS belts are best to buy at Pasceos. They are usually 980 yen. I bought Branden a new belt from there... every April, start of the new school year. However...his belt looked like it could use a replacing...and given the entrance exam was such a huge day. I went back to Pasceos right after New year's and was shocked to see it... THIS cheap. 980 yen. Yep, a fair cheap price for a school belt. But 499 yen? Holy smokes what a great deal. The belts and the whole store was on a huge New year's sale. And I was happy to score such a fantastic bargain. 

One nice new black belt. And he was ready. 

The day before Bran's exam his teacher gave the kids testing first.... some "good luck on your entrance exams" Kit Kats. I am quite fond of Branden's JHS teacher. I think she is amazing! Best teacher ever ever ever!!! But this...just made Branden so happy and me too. I thought...what a kind gesture. And she did that.. too for the larger group testing later in the week too. She is very thoughtful. Anyways....being American and having only ever gone to school in America, my experiences are American experiences. However having 2 kids in Japan. I can say...I find Japanese yochien very fun for kids and for me too. I enjoyed meeting "mom friends" and I have them as friends even to this day. Best nicest ladies ever. I find Japanese elementary school really nice too. My kids loved Japanese elementary school. Our elementary school in particular is so fun. They cook. They sew. They go on many field trips. They go hunting crawdads/crayfish. They collect pine cones in winter and make Christmas trees out of them and paint and decorate them. They decorate Christmas cake. And do all sorts of fun stuff. In fact Noah is on a class field trip right now as I type this. I found Japanese JHS on the other hand...*extremely* stressful for my son. He studied every second of his life while being in JHS. And that final 9th grade year. He studied more his 9th grade year... then he studied in the 7th and 8th grade combined. And that says a lot... because he studied tons in 7th and 8th grade too. And I hear this high school we picked is FUN. The 12th graders right now...50% of the current 12th graders are...either hafu, total foreigners, returnees (Japanese who lived in an English speaking country longer than 3 years)...Branden is going to enjoy going to this high school because he will be going to a good school with such an open minded diverse bunch of kids. So Branden's high school years are going to be fun. He's so lucky. 

How do you know if you made it? It seems the norm for all the different high schools Bran's classmates applied will find out in 2 days. And how you will know... depends on the school. The "Professor's" school he applied for..he could find out via online. And our school. Bran applied for, they would mail the acceptance letter to our house and they would also mail something to the Junior high school too. However, Branden knew before I did. The high school Bran will be going to...called Bran's JHS and told them...he got in... when Bran was in 2nd period. They called Bran out of class and told him. But they said not to tell anyone. But he was beaming all day. I didn't know until the letter reached my house. And I did make this sign. Yes...meaning... yes you got in! I had it in my car. I was so excited. 

I was trying to read a magazine but I was too I kept reading the same crazy sentence again and again. Until I just put my magazine away. 

If other kids would have been walking, I would have kept the sign on the seat as to keep it on the down low...and not show other folks. But as luck would have it...Branden came out about 10 minutes earlier than the rest...he and the professor but the professor goes another route and wasn't near where I was parked and...nobody else was walking at all. So, I placed it in my front window. And he already knew but he smiled. And he said..."I knew since this morning." He also said..."thanks for the sign." : ) Awww. Love you kid! To the moon and back! : ) So proud of you! Branden honestly doesn't have anything to do from now until graduation the first week of March. And as soon as he graduates first week of March... he won't have a thing to do again until high school starts in April. So from now...until graduation he is basically free. He has no homework or anything to do. He's just going to school and having fun now. He's free. : ) 

We took Branden out to dinner to celebrate of course! Getting into high school in Japan is such a major big deal! It's huge! So going out to dinner was totally in order! : ) We took Branden out to Caprcciosa for his celebration dinner in Narita City. Great big rice croquette with cheese inside. 

Their pizza is spectacular! Especially drizzled with that amazing chili oil. 

Bran eating some rice croquette. When you find out your child just got into high school in Japan! Needless to say...we had the happiest dinner of our lives! Hahaha. : ) Like all the stress completely gone! All the worry disappeared! Studying your brains out... totally done and over with! Like this huge weight just lifted. 

Spicy garlic tomato pasta. We ordered 2 large sizes of the pasta and we ordered 2 pizzas. We live a happy and good life around here. We enjoy going to restaurants twice a month or on birthdays or on celebration days like...your kid just got accepted to high school. You like that. You most normal people do! : ) A definite reason to celebrate. : ) 

The 2nd pizza they brought out. This one was beautiful and had basil nicely all around this one. Very pretty. 

So how are things right now? The school year for us in Japan is starting to wind down. It ends in March. Umm. Bran is just enjoying some down time..first time in 3 long years. So, I think he's earned it. : ) I think he said that he will start hitting the books in March to prepare for high school though. : )  We will be buying and ordering his high school uniform soon. As for Noah, he has another what...month and a half of being a 5th grader. He's doing so well in school. He plays with friends on his free time or over the weekend. : ) The weather here has been windy and bitterly cold. We did get snow the other day, but it only snowed for about 30 minutes before turning into the coldest chunky rain...followed by just regular rain after that. So we've just been staying home all nice and warm and toasty in the house. Today, Noah is on a class field trip. The bus will drop the kids who live in our housing community off first....and then make 2 extra pit stops along the way, until reaching the school. So if you live at one those places/drop off main spots....then you will be getting dropped off there, otherwise you can just get dropped off at school. Noah will arrive at our housing community at 5pm. And Bran meanwhile gets home at 4pm today and I will swing around and pick him up. I have a delicious hearty pork curry bubbling away on the stove as I type. I am making curry rice and also will make a side of pasta. The kids aren't too crazy about curry rice. But *love* curry spaghetti. Noboru loves curry rice. And so....I just make a huge pot of curry and rice and pasta on the side so whoever wants what...can have either way. Alright treadmill is calling me, so I better end this post here. : )