30 October 2015

Lunch Time Viewing at Reia's Kindy

Today, the parents of the 1st years were allowed to come into the classrooms and view the kids eating their lunch. At first, this kind of lunch-viewing day seemed kind of odd to me, but once we were there I realized there were a few things the kids had learned to do. 
Reia was sitting down, fully aware of my camera ready and poised for a smile, but Reia looked a bit nervous and didn't give me many opportunities ( ≧Д≦)

The teacher played a little jingle on the piano which meant it was time for lunch. Then 5 children were selected to be the lunch-helpers for the day and they each wiped down a table. Then the girls and boys went and got their bags separately and hung it on the back of their chairs. When it was time, they all took out their cutlery sets, place mats, aprons and cups and waited for the next instruction. The teacher played another jingle on the piano which meant it was time to close their eyes and go to sleep. I was not sure what this part was for but assumed it was to calm everyone down before eating time. The bento boxes were handed out and they sand a little song before tucking in. It was all done very methodically and the kids were all well behaved. The teachers have trained them so well! 

Reia ate all of her rice first before touching anything else. She loves plain white rice, but will not touch it if you mix it with anything else, like furikake. Her bento was the only one without any furikake on it. I think she was a bit excited but also shy that we were there along with other parents being stared at.

After finishing her meal, she brought her plate up to us to show us what she had and hadn't eaten. Her Oma asked if Aila could have her leftovers. Reia laughed, said no and then swung her plate out of reach (*´艸`*)

Aila did not like being stuck in one place for the whole time and had to leave at one point to avoid a tantrum. She was enticed back inside onto a chair with some chocolate bread lol.

It was nice so see a little bit inside Reia's world and what she is learning at youchien :)

Saying hi to us
Waiting for lunch
During the "sleep" time
Getting her things organized
Starting off with the rice
Taking a second to pose for me
Aila in the corner with her chocolate bread
A bit too much on the fork
Looking but not smiling
Almost done with her rice
Yum yum yum
Not wanting to share the leftovers!

25 October 2015

Showa Kinen Park October 2015

This past Saturday, we hung out with our friends, Simon and Akane, at the park with our kids for their son's 4th birthday. It was a beautiful day and the park is HUGE so there are heaps of places to play. We first went to the Misty Forest and then the Bouncy Dome. We had never been to these parts of the park before so it was nice to go and explore. 
We ate a shared picnic lunch together and then let the kids play! They loved jumping on the big white "clouds" and then visited the dragon area and climbed those too. Reia was really getting into the climbing part and was determined to reach her Daddy on the other end of the dragon. Aila fell asleep after the domes and slept until it was time to go home.

Everyone was so exhausted after that day and we are all still feeling it! It was an awesome day to be out and about and create new memories with friends.

20 October 2015

Visiting Teaching Message October 2015

This months Visiting Teaching message is all about charity, the pure love of Christ.
After reading the message, the first thing that came to mind is how much I have been blessed by the love and charity of my Relief Society sisters here in Japan. 

My health this year has not been the best. I suffered a miscarriage in early January and up until then, I had been very sick with morning sickness. Out of all of my pregnancies so far, that morning sickness was the worst. I could not bear to be anywhere else but my room because of the smells throughout the house. Every room had a different smell and the fridge opening was by far the worst smell ever. I couldn't eat or drink and lost 10 kilos in about 2 weeks. My husband tried his best to take care of the girls by himself and maintain the house at the same time, but in the end it overwhelmed him. That, combined with my sickness and then a sudden miscarriage was a huge blow for us. Firstly, I never thought that would ever miscarry, and secondly, I am in a foreign country where the procedures and language are all different and can be frightening. As soon as it happened, we called the nearest sister to our house and she was at our door in minutes, ready to take us to the hospital and also take our girls for the night. Because of her, Jun and I were able to sort out everything at the hospital, recoup a little, and just mourn together. After the weekend ended, sisters started bringing meals over to our house and that continued for weeks until I was better. The YSA girls helped too. We would have help from the morning until night and they took care of my girls, me, the laundry, the cooking, everything. They were amazing and did not expect anything back in return. Because of the love and charity of these sisters, my little family was able to get back up on it's feet and move forward. I am now pregnant again and when my morning sickness came this time, just like before these wonderful women selflessly helped our family out with meals, cooking, cleaning and babysitting. They organized it all so fast and were happy to help.

I would be a fool not to mention that my Mother-in-Law has also helped tremendously with my current pregnancy. She is currently serving a mission with her husband in Niigata up north and she travelled hours by herself to come and help out. She took a week off from her busy missionary life to cook, clean, and take care of us all. A couple weeks ago, my own Mother made the long journey from New Zealand to Japan to help us for 3 whole months! She has only been here for a short while, but already her impact has been felt. The girls love having her around and playing black-cat with her. She is currently teaching Reia how to read! I am so grateful for these selfless, loving women.

I thought about this kind of pure Christ-like love and how my life would be so different if I was not a member of the church or if there was no Relief Society. During my miscarriage and time of need, I would have been alone in Tokyo as both my family and my husbands family were unable to travel at that time. I can't even begin to imagine what that would have looked like being alone with little to no support, apart from my husband's. To have the Relief Society in my life is such a huge blessing and the service we give to one another keeps going around and is passed from one sister to the next. 

This month we are reminded to have charity. President Monson said this about charity, “It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.” I know personally that this can be really hard to do sometimes, but we learn in the scriptures that we can “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love" of Christ and receive help to be more charitable. 

I love the scripture found in Moroni 7:45 which sums up beautifully what charity is. 
It reads: And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

May we all strive to have more charity and pay forward the charity that is given to us.

Because their aren't a lot of resources out there in Japanese for Visiting Teaching handouts, I started making my own. I printed these out on 89x127mm glossy photo paper and they turned out great! Please feel free to download these and use them for your handouts this month or as something to stick on the fridge as a nice reminder :)


13 October 2015

Undokai 2015 (Sports Day)

Yesterday was Reia's very first Undokai! It was mine also and I did not know what to expect. I thought it would be about 2 hours, 3 hours max. I was NOT expecting it to be 5 hours long! It went from 9am to 2pm but we were up from 3:30 watching the rugby and also making our bento to bring with us. 

Reia had a bit of a cold that day but she was way too excited to participate to worry about being sick. Oma is visiting with us at the moment so she came along with us for the experience. She quickly wilted under the hot sun which was blazing that day! It was seriously hot, I got burnt across the face. I didn't expect it to be so hot as it had rained the whole week before. It pays to check the weather report before leaving the house! We had no hats, no sunblock, and no shade. It was SO hot and I started to wither also in the last couple of hours. 

Reia was a bit tired in the morning but as she started lining up with her classmates on the grounds, her attitude quickly changed. They had their opening exercises and I could finally see what she had been practicing for weeks. She would sing some songs and do some dances for me at home, but it wasn't until I saw the whole thing with the music that it made sense. She did so well! She was 3rd from back of the line and I had to giggle as she went all out during the squatting parts.
All the little kids were so cute and tried their very best. 

Next, Reia did a short sprint against some of her 1st year peers and you could tell that she was holding back. A lot of other kids did this as well. They wanted to keep with the group instead of breaking away. The starting pose she did at the start of the race was hilariously cute. You can tell that all of them had been trained well by their P.E. teachers. She ran all the way to the end but I couldn't quite tell where she placed. It looked like 3rd or 4th but I couldn't tell with peoples heads in the way.

Next up was a pom-pom dance performed with all the 1st years. All of these items were executed so well and the kids stayed in their lines. Everything was so orderly! Big props to all the teachers and parent-helpers. My Mum was so amazed that no-one was shouting out crazily for their kids like they would in NZ. That didn't stop her from cheering on her first grandchild. 

There were lots of events that family members could participate in. The Dad's ran in a relay which was hilarious, the Grandpa's and Grandma's played a throw-the-ball-in-the-basket game, and the little kids ran an easy relay together with a parent. Aila did that one with Jun. She had to run to a ring toss, put a ring on the spoke and run to the other end of the grounds to get her prize. She got a yellow bouncy ball!

After Reia had finished the bulk of her items, she came to our mat and we ate lunch together way ahead of schedule. After lunch, Jun, Mum and Aila went home and Reia and I stayed for the finale as that was Reia's last item. We had nothing to do during the lunch break as we had already eaten, so we just walked around and played. I mostly just wanted to get out of the heat and sit in the shade! Then FINALLy after the longest, hottest wait ever, it was time for her to do the last game which was the suzuwari. The whole school split into four groups and they had to throw these hacky-sacks at the big dangling ball to try crack it open like a pinata. Once it's open, streamers and things break out to congratulate you. I felt for the men holding the staffs up as they would get smacked in the head occasionally by these sacks. Once all four teams cracked their ball open, the teachers released a whole bunch of balloons into the air and as they floated into the sky, one of the teachers said something over the microphone like "May your dreams be like these balloons and soar high in the sky..." A nice way to wrap up a very eventful day. 

Lastly were the closing exercises. They sang their school song and a finale song. At the end, each class got given a small present. Reia's was a lady bug frisbee. 

It was so cool to see her interacting with her mates. She has more boy friends than girls friends. We bought some ice cream after for a job well done. You would think that after a full on day of running around that she would be tired, but nooo. As soon as we finished our ice cream at home, she wanted to take her bike out and go for a ride outside. 

Needless to say, I was wasted and gladly went to sleep a little earlier than usual. Next year I will be more prepared for the weather and the length! It was a great day but so glad it is over lol.

Just arrived

With her class mates

Walking over to the grounds together

Lining up, getting ready to start

Still camera shy

She's got the asian squat down!

Getting ready for her pom-pom dance

Aila drawing doodles in the dirt

Happy Jamu-Jamu dance

Dancing with the first years

She's so happy, she's walking on air

Aila getting ready to run the toddler relay w/ Daddy

Having a break with her friends

On your mark, get set... Go!

She won a bouncy ball!

A much deserved long cool drink of water after that

Waiting for the next relay

The "Obento Run" where you have to assemble a giant bento box

Playing while we wait for her next and final item

Finally, it's time to play the last game!

Suzuwari or bell-breaking game

They cracked it open!

Let the balloons fly!

Waving bye-bye to the balloons (green hat)

It's finished!

Reia my darling, you did amazing and couldn't have made Mama any prouder :)