Friday, July 20, 2012

Fast Food Turned Slow

Here are a couple of our fast food favorites which we make at home when we have time... It is surprising how along it takes to makes these with 2 kids helping!

 Rainbow Pizza

French Fries

Some Favorite Activities

There are many activities that the kids will come back to time and again.  Here are some of the recent favorites:

Coloring books - with markers 

 Rivers, Roads and Rails - a favorite for while the little sister is napping.

Number Rods 

 Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head

Classic Books With Holes - Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush 

Wooden Teddy Bear clothing puzzles

A Treat For Me

Sometimes all you need is a quiet place to enjoy your Popsicle.

Space Study

With the eclipse a little while back we have had a chance to study a bit about space.  I have many activities we haven't finished yet as Mega is not the best helper when it comes to art projects. (There is a "waiting list" of things to do while she naps)  
However, here is one thing we have been able to do!
The figures are from the Space Toob. I've become a huge fan of the toob series of figurines!  

Zilla's job here is to match the space toob figures to the pictures in a set of flashcards.  The cards are from a dollar store (I think?) but I'm sure there are many similar sets around.

 It is amazing to me how easy it was for him to match things up and how much fun he had learning from the descriptions on the backs of the cards.  He still doesn't really understand sending a dog and a monkey into space, all alone.

Of course no study would be complete without a bunch of books to help the topic come alive and spark the imagination!

Bento By Daddy

My husband and I share the cooking responsibilities and that means we have also split the bento making responsibilities.  His are rather traditional Japanese while mine cater to what we have on hand and what Zilla feels like eating that day.  His are more artistic and take longer to make as he strives for balance in color, portions and ingredients.

This is rice with dried fishy things mixed in topped with a Mickey cut out of a seaweed sheet. On the right is deep fried cheese/pork bits arranged with lettuce to tomato to add color.

Exploring Easter Culture

Every year we do a number of activities during the season of Easter to help the kids really understand the meaning of the celebration.  Since we made a trip tot he US just before Easter this year we had a great chance to learn more about some of the cultural aspects connected to Easter which the kids have little to no exposure to in Japan.  For, without Christians there is really no reason to have to holiday!

Mega and Zilla enjoyed decorating the Easter Tree at Grandma's house so they were thrilled when we packed up some of the eggs to bring home to our own tree. Mega often redecorated the tree.

These are eggs with Christian Easter designs that I picked up at the dollar store. Zilla enjoyed looking for symbols from the Easter story in the designs while Meg took up the challenge of matching the two sides and then putting them together.  Sometimes I would put small "surprizes" inside which added to the fun!

Bento Lunch - Mommy Style

Here is a lunch I made for Zilla.  I'm not into all the fancy things that other mothers do but I try to give him a healthy and balanced lunch.  Thankfully we only have to make lunch 2 days a week! (They have a school served lunch on the other 3 days...)
In this box is Peanut Butter and Jelly rolled sandwiches, seedless grapes, tomatoes and cucumber sticks with a bottle full of cool water.

Summer Break = Homework + Dictates

I know that schools around the world, and even within the same area, have various ideas about what makes a good summer break from classes. I, of course, have my own ideas too.  It is often challenging to keep those to myself as not to negatively influence my children.

Today is the start of summer break for Zilla.  A 4 yrs. old this is also his first summer break from school.  The mothers were required to attend today to practice a dance we'll be preforming with the kids at the festival tomorrow.  There are also classes and activities held at the school during most of the summer and I've heard many of the children attend.  I look forward to having Zilla home with us so I'm not planning on sending him.

So far (I haven't finished looking through his bag yet) there are 2 major pieces of "homework" which need to be completed over the break.  The first is a flower project (I'll post about it once I get some pics) and the 2nd is a daily calendar.

The top page has squares with the dates of summer break and the kids are to add a sticker to each square (completing the picture) as the days go by.

Zilla's initial explanation about this project was "I have to do a calendar with poop stickers!" To those who don't have kids in school in Japan this probably sounds strange. Schools (and society) pay an undue amount of attention to poop.  The preschool told us from the start that we are to have the kids poop before they come to school each day.  The card we need to fill out on their pool days (splashing in a shallow pool at school) also wants to know when their last poo was.  Now, over summer break, we have stickers to put on a chart each day that he poops.  The poop stickers go right between the weather for the day and the sticker for brushing teeth.  In my mind this is "Too Much Information!" and none of the school's business!

The rectangle space next to the 3 stickers is for writing a bit about what we do each day. I don't mind this part as it will be a nice record of what we do this year. However, Zilla has already scolded me for writing in English as he is sure his teacher will not be able to read the comments. We are going to compromise by using both easy Japanese and easy English with little drawings so everyone can read it.

The column to the right (in the photo above) has some dictates for the kids (parents) to follow over summer.

Here is a translation:
Let's have a fun summer!
 - Go to bed early, wake up early.
 - Eat your breakfast.
 - Don't kick balls in the road.
 - Wash your hands.
 - Wear a hat when you go outside.
 - Don't eat too many cold things.
 - Don't go with strangers.

While all of these things are fine and good I think some of them should be at the discretion of the parents.  Or, at the vary least, there should be an explanation with the statements to explain why these are things the kids should do.  I don't see how following this list will make summer fun though.  I think it will make returning to the school routine in the fall easier on the teachers.

The back 6 pages of the book are additional activities including a place for pictures, ticket stubs, etc.  We have to turn the book in to the teacher on the first day back and there is even a space for her notes and comments.  Wonder what she'll have to say...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sunday AM Song & Dance

On Sundays we have a full day with much to do.  Getting the day off to a good start is key.  However, getting myself and the kids ready and to church (and Sunday School) on time is often a challenge.  My husband helps when he can but reality is that Sundays are the busiest day of the week for him so it is easiest for all of us to have an established routine that doesn't involve him.  A key part of that routine is getting the kids into worship mode with some great DVDs that they can watch (dance and sing to) while I do my things.
A favorite DVD is Praise World (プレイズワールド). While it is a bit dated the kids don't seem to mind.  The first part reminds me of a late 80s workout tape for kids.  There are step-by-step instructions with the moves for the song and then a sing and dance section.  Here is a video of a recent dance/sing along on a Sun. AM...

Here are some of our other favorite DVDs:

Cedarmont Kids
Action Bible Songs
Sunday School Songs

Psalty the Singing Songbook
Kid's Praise 4 "Sensational Servants"
Kid's Praise 5 "Psalty's Camping Adventure"

Pool Boy

Kids around us are super busy with many different clubs, classes and activities.  Comparatively we live a rather tame life.  Zilla's one "extra curricular" activity over the past year has been swimming lessons at a local pool.  To me, swimming lessons are great for many reasons but the most important is learning the life skill of swimming.
It is expensive (in my view of money...) to take swim lessons here and there are many times where Zilla has tried to talk me out of going... and it is a half hour walk to the pool each way - which we don't mind usually but when it is hot/cold/rainy/snowy we find it to be bothersome.
Anyway, as we are busy during the next few months we're taking an official absence from the pool.  In the past 14 months Zilla has gained much confidence and skill but at the same time he still hasn't learned to shut his mouth when he's in the water! :-) (<-- like me...)

Zilla is the kid in the dark blue swim cap

Here is a jumping in exercise that has taken him a while to get comfortable doing

The pool Zilla goes to doesn't have an open swim or family swim time so I'm hoping over the summer break we can find some pools to go to as a family.  Mega is a real trooper every week coming along to watch her brother swim and I know she'd love to get into the water with him!