Saturday, November 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Taiga

Ok, a bit late on the posting here, but anyhow...

Taiga had 7 friends over for his birthday party a couple of weeks ago. It was a nice day, a bit overcast, but nice enough for them to play outside for a while while we waited for some late-comers.

Lunch was our main event, due to Taiga's recent realization that his calling in life is the art of making udon noodles. We broke out the set he got for his birthday from Daddy, and got everyone into the action!

We did it all as close to the directions in the book as we could, including the 'foot-kneading' required for such a stiff dough. The kids thought it was great fun to step on their food! They are all so light though that it took a long time to actually get it all done!

After rolling out the dough, we used a pasta machine to cut the noodles. Much to Taiga's dismay, he doesn't get to use the professional knife that came with his set for quite some time still... The machine was great with the kids though, and then then they all sat down and ate it up!

After that, we only had just enough time for the treasure hunt in the back yard, then cake and presents. Actually, we were running overtime by the time the cake (cupcakes) were served, but none of the moms were too upset about waiting!

Everyone seemed to have a great time. For most of the kids, this was their first birthday party, as its not common practice in Japan. The moms were really surprised that we gave out loot bags. Taiga even gave his own to one of his friend's little brother. Very sweet. That's my boy!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ROOTS Halloween!! 36 kids this year!

We had GIANT pumpkins, with great thanks to Disneyland, who decided to use plastic this year instead of the ones the farmer grew for them. They were a bit of a challenge, as the 'meat' was thicker than the knives were long, and took some creative efforts to get the pieces out (especially the very first piece to open the top!). The two groups with older kids wielded their own knives, and moms and dads helped with the 3 groups of younger kids. It took us an hour this year, much longer than usual!

Next up was a word game. I'm always impressed with how the kids dig into this! Simple find & write exercise, but the big kids had to recognize the initial letter of each word in order to find the correct word card and spell it all right. The little kids had to trace the word, then either read it or find it on a card to match the pictures to the words. Taiga did really well at this (mom grinning ear to ear) and was able to read the words back to me later without any picture prompts! The moms are always impressed by this, so its a real crowd pleaser.

Snack time is always a big hit - and a break for me to set up the next activities!

Since we couldn't go outside for trick-or-treating (major storm happening), we did activity stations, with a treat prize at each one. We had a ball toss (knock the cups off the table), ring toss(catch the rings on the spider's legs), apple bobbing (sure is hard to find apples here small enough to bob for!), the mystery box (containing the eyes, ears, brain, and tongue of a monster I cut up), and the slime pit (if you want a rubber ball, you have to reach in and pull it out!!).

So everyone survived, and once I admitted to one young admirer that I hadn't really killed a monster, all was good. (I thought I had tarnished my image to him, by becoming a monster murderer - but actually, he was worried that other monsters might retaliate and attack me to avenge their friend! Little sweetie was worried about me!)

I love my students!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back into the Groove

Well, the summer vacation has ended, and the boys are back into the swing of their daily schedule.

Each weekday starts at 6am (ideally) 6:15 (most days) or 6:30 (on those really sluggish days). Breakfast in a rush, then a last minute run-around for all the bits and pieces needed for school. It doesn't matter how much we prepare the night before, it seems we've always got a frantic morning. Out the door at 6:50 (again, ideally) or at the latest 7:00 (followed by Mom's voice yelling "RUN"!).

School starts at 8. These days they arrive after their 3km walk, a sweaty mess. Taiga sometimes has to change into his gym strip for the day, and hangs his clothes out to dry. Yuck! The end of the school day depends on the grade and the day of the week. Very annoying to have to look at the schedule every day to know what time the kids will be coming home! Taiga is usually done at 3, but Kai's grade goes until 4 most days.

Then the real fun begins. Keeping track of the days of the week is essential for us!

Mondays: twice a month advanced English lessons for bilingual kids from 7-8:30, 30 minute drive away
Tuesdays: shorinji kempo from 6-8, 40 minute drive away
Wednesdays: kendo from 7-8:30, 5 minutes drive away
Thursdays: swimming lessons, 4-5 for Taiga, 5-6 for kai, 10 minutes drive away; then aikido from 7-9 (last hour is just me), 20 minutes drive away
Fridays: English lesson for Kai and friend, 4:30-5:30; shorinji kempo (same as Tuesday)
Saturdays: English classes all day for me (Taiga joins 1st grade class 3:45-4:45); calligraphy class 5-6 (5 minute drive away); kendo from 6:30-8:30, 5 minutes away
Sundays: 9:30-10:45 gymnastics class, 60 minutes drive away; aikido class 4:00-6:00 (again last hour just me)



We do miss a lot of Aikido classes, but otherwise pretty much follow the schedule. Too much? I'm sure many think so. The boys don't, so I guess that's what matters. There are never any battles about going. They love all of them, and would have a hard time deciding if I asked them to choose one to quit. Luckily for me, they both enjoy all the same activities. I'd be in trouble if they decided that they they wanted to do different activities from each other!! Do I mind all the taxiing? Not really. I LOVE my little car, and I sure get a lot of good use out of it. I'd feel differently if they were into sports that I have no interest in, but I enjoy watching all of their activities.

Even as I type, I'm sitting in the pool lobby, watching Kai. He's learning the butterfly. I've never learned it, and never could figure out the movement of it. He's like a fish, that kid. He swims well enough to stop taking lessons, as far as I'm concerned, but he love them. Taiga is just getting started on the crawl. We'll see how far he goes with it.

Somewhere in there, I'll be going back to work soon too. I love the university schedule, that gives me an extra 2 weeks at the end of summer to enjoy some time off without the kids home. My Fall schedule is busier than the Spring - 4 days a week at my main school, one afternoon a week at the Agricultural College, and 2 mornings a month at the preschool. Then the Saturday classes all day at my 'home' school...

Such are our days.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer School

Every summer, we spend 2 weeks in Kobe, attending the Kobe Bilingual School's Summer School program. For 2 weeks we stay with the school's owner and her family, and go to school every day. I help teach, and Kai and Taiga join the program. It's a wonderful and fun experience, where the kids study and learn in English rather than actually studying English.

This year's theme is Africa. We're learning about some of the countries in Africa, the animals and the habitats, and learning some African games and songs. Kai is at the main school (where I am) and Taiga is with the younger kids at the satellite classroom. Everyone is having a wonderful time, and nobody speaks any Japanese at all, all day!!

IMG_5613 This is the Rainforest Relay Race we did in the park! Balancing (?) boxes on our heads, we ran the obstacles, picking up all the lost African animals along the way.

Dancing the “Waka Waka” song!


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Our very first kendo tournament

The boys took part in their first kendo tournament last weekend. It was a practice tournament, to show all the newcomers (like us) how to do it. It was good fun. Taiga was a bit overwhelmed by it all and had a breakdown after his first match - overdose of adrenalin, I think. He bounced back though, and was great for the rest of the day. (Taiga is the one wearing dark blue on top and bottom)

Kai was a star, and although he didn't score any points, he looked good and often kept his opponents at bay. You can tell that this is his first tournament, and that he doesn't really know how to get a scoring hit in - it doesn't show that he's only been doing kendo for 3 months though! (says proud mom!) By the way, Kai is the dark one. The opponent in white is a girl, I think. In the primary years, the teams are co-ed. From junior high, I think they separate the girls from the boys.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kai learning kendo

just testing a video link here...