Friday, July 10, 2009

Etta's School Supplies
I've been thinking about this post for a long time. Since Etta started school, she keeps acquiring more school stuff. I mean, how much does a three year old need to go to school? But it seems like the preschools have everything down to a science and know exactly what they want. Let me start at the beginning...
I'd say the preschool is partial dress code. They have to wear the same blue shorts, strange hats (the hats are different color depending on their year), and hand made smocks in your choice of material. That's another thing, a lot of their supplies have to be hand made. Not too big of a deal for the Japanese moms since they all know how to sew. I however left my sewing machine in America and still haven't learned how to sew anything wearable. Therefore, I had purchased a few smocks but had to ask my mom to make several more for Etta. Next year Etta will only wear the smocks during field trips and will upgrade to button down shirts to match the oldest two classes. I didn't bother taking pictures of those since they are for next year. Let me describe some of the pictures.
Here's Etta's school backpack, which all the other kids have to have too. After the first day of school I noticed all the kids had zipper pulls and fun little patches on it to distinguish theirs from everyone elses. So, I have slowy been ordering iron ons and keychains/zipper pulls of things Etta likes. Of course it's all from America so it just takes that much more time to get here. Another thing in the picture is a little notebook that Etta's teacher writes in once a month to let us know how Etta is doing in the class. A little pouch that paperwork comes home in every day; and nearly every day something comes home for Eric to read and transcribe for me. Next, the yellow paper is for us to put Etta's temperature every day. Yep, every day. Plus, we put if she can go swimming that day or not and why.
A few things you'll find inside the bag: they have asked us to supply sunscreen for them to reapply after swimming. I certainly appreciate that they realize how fair she is. Next are her indoor shoes and the bag they belong in. Shoes have to have string attached to the back so they can get them on by themselves as well as names written on the heel. Most of the kids have the same Anpanman shoes.Next is her cup and cloth. The cup is for drinking tea at lunch, rinsing and gargling, and for brushing her teeth (more on that later). A large hand towel with a hook on it is rolled up and placed inside the cup. We have many since she needs a clean one every day, Tinkerbell, Totoro, Minnie Mouse, and lots of Marie from Aristrocats (she's pretty big here). This hand towel gets hung up inside the school for Etta to dry her hands after washing her hands. Of course this cup and cloth has it's own bag too. There is also a smaller hand towel that Etta is supposed to have in her shorts pocket or shirt pocket to dry her hands while outside.
On to the bento (lunch): she has a large princess cloth which is basically her placemat. She has a small rectangular lunch box that you can fill with pretty much what you want. It started out with two onigiri and now I give her one with tons of veggies on the side. No sweets allowed, not even fruit. Of course this bento box and cloth has its own bag as well. Also, Etta needs a fork (and a spoon which I had to aquire with it's own little carrying case), chopsticks, and a toothbrush. Just recently they started brushing their teeth after lunch. Why not? I don't have a problem with her getting an extra brushing throughout the day. It's a practice that is carried over into elementary school here, not sure if it goes into high school though.
Here is a sample of Etta's woredrobe. Her silly yet functional yellow hat now has a cute Strawberry Shortcake iron on. One of the shortsleeve smocks she wears during the summer. We have three others and my mom is working on a new Tinkerbell smock. On the smock is a little packet of tissues she is supposed to carry in one of her pockets. Of course a regular shirt is supposed to be under this smock. Last is a pair of school shorts. They are so functional and clean up nice, but for a brand new pair it costs over $20!
This bag is for Fridays only. It's a library bag. Etta gets to check out a book at the school's library once a week. Etta loves picking out a book and having it read to her for the week. Unfortunately it stopped yesterday because summer vacation is approaching.
She also has a swim bag. The school has a pool on the roof but it's for the two oldest classes, not Etta's class. But there are several small pools that are put up in good weather for the young class to play in. Inside this waterproof bag she needs a small towel, some form of hat and her swimsuit. Many other kids don't actually wear a swimsuit, just a little outfit of some sort. However, we send Etta's sun protective suit with her because it's the best option.
In yet another bag (which is at school during this picture) is a full set of back up clothes. Often the kids get dirty or wet and need to be changed. I've had Etta come home in Youchien clothes because she even got her back up clothes dirty.
I could save this last part for a whole different post but why not just keep going? Two Wednesdays ago I went to a cooking class for the mom's at Etta's school. It was highly recommended that all the first year moms attend. Well, it's tough since I can't really understand Japanese. But, I thought learning some Japanese cooking techinques would be fun so I signed up. Luckily one of the other moms took me so I wouldn't get lost. Turns out the cooking class was 80% nutrition and 20% cooking. I sat in the front row with my electronic dictionary listening intently. After about 30 minutes my brain was on overload and just sat watching. I caught about 10% of what the nutritionist actually said. Oh well.
On to cooking. Of course the recipe is written in kanji which I can't read. So, I just stood back and watched my group prepare lunch. I helped with peeling, washing, and a little cutting. That's it. Not much I can participate in when I can't speak a lot nor read. How frustrating. But, I did find a sauce that was used that I really liked Yakiniku Sauce. Yummy!
The next day we were informed that the recipe we cooked we would serve to our own kids the following week at school. So, all of Etta's classmates would be eating the same meal the next Thursday. Not a big deal, but I knew Etta wouldn't eat much of what we made at the cooking class. One dish was cooked broccoli with quartered tomatoes topped with cheese and mayo mixed together then baked. Surprisingly good, but Etta eats neither tomatoes or mayo. Next was cooked green beans and slivered carrots wrapped in bacon then cooked with yakiniku sauce. Excellent, but again Etta doesn't like sauce. Another was boiled potato chunks then tossed in curry sauce. I love curry, Etta does not. Then broccoli and carrots are stir fried in the yakiniku sauce rich in flavor, but in a sauce Etta would turn her nose up at.
I was supposed to make this for Etta on Thursday then come watch her eat it with all the other moms. I made some alterations. I just gave her cooked broccoli and carrots without the sauce (which she ate). I used turkey bacon to wrap the green beans and carrots because it's her favorite, but she still turned her nost up at it. She wouldn't touch the broccoli and tomatoes covered in mayo mixed cheese (no surprise). I put a seasoning from America on the boiled potatoes and was surprised to see Etta eat those. Of course she ate the side of rice with a packet of nori furikake I sent with her lunch. All the other kids pretty much devoured everything in the bento, not Etta! She's sukikurai (picky). Here's a picture of the bento I made for school Thursday.

Things not pictured Etta needs for school: a thermos to carry green tea to school in (aka water for Etta) and a leisure matt (a plastic matt kids use on field trips to sit on for lunch).
Time to wrap up. It's Saturday morning and we want to get out of the house. Hopefully something fun to blog about in the near future.


Tara said...

Wow! It's amazing all they need just for preschool, but it's pretty cool. Why do they have you take Etta's temperature everyday?

As usual, it's so fascinating to hear about life in Japan! :)

Jill said...

That is a lot of stuff!!! Goodness!! How does Etta like school there?