Thursday, November 30, 2006


Our normal bedtime routine is to have the girls change into their pajamas, Emi & Misaki will go potty while one of us changes Sakura's diaper, we brush their teeth, pray, everyone kisses everyone and then the three of them go up to their beds and go to sleep (usually!). If it's not too late we'll read a book together in the middle somewhere.

Although this routine is usually uneventful, lately the kissing section has taken on such a life of it's own that Chikara and I are never sure if we'll actually make it through. Why? Well, Emi kisses all of us in a certain order (anyone surprised?). She has kissed all of us in this order for at least a year - Misaki, Daddy, Mommy, Sakura and now Natsuki. The problem arises for her when Misaki decides that she doesn't want to kiss Emi (sometimes there is a reason and sometimes she's just being a typical little sister). This throws off Emi's order and she won't kiss the rest of us until Misaki capitulates. Misaki doesn't have an order, she kisses us as she feels like it. Lately Sakura has realized that there is a drama going on and she doesn't want to miss out on the excitement so she'll lay passively on the couch or refuse to turn her face towards her sisters or something along these lines which irritates both of her older sisters much to her delight.

Yesterday as we got to the kissing part of our routine, amazingly Emi and Misaki managed to keep the drama to a minimum but Sakura would not go so easily "into that dark night" so she sat in the corner of the couch and made each of us come and kiss her in turn. Finally it was Chikara's turn but he was holding Natsuki so he couldn't bend down which meant that Sakura would have to stand up to kiss him. She tried at least three time to strain her head up as high as she could with her little lips pursed for a kiss but when she realized it was futile she let out a sigh, rolled her eyes and said "Gosh!". Then she stood up and kissed Chikara, bounced off the couch and walked up the stairs as if nothing had happened.

One day this melodrama will end so I'm writing it down so that we will remember these sweet moments!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

strong mommy

I find that usually I use my blog to vent about things that bother me so I thought today for a change I would write about a good experience I had with Emi. It'll probably end up sounding like bragging but when you work really hard at being the best mom you can be and your kid notices it and tell you about it then I think it's worth writing about.

A couple of weeks ago when Emi came home from school one day we were talking about how her day went when she suddenly asked me why the other kid's moms were not "strong". At first I was puzzled because I wasn't sure what she was referring to. Just before that we had attended a sports day for the girl's preschool and the parents had participated in some events so I thought that maybe she was talking about moms who had weak muscles or something. When I ask if this was what she meant she rolled her eyes at me and said, "No, mom, I mean how come some other moms don't say no to their kids. How come they're not strong?". OK, these are deep thoughts so I'd better pay attention. I asked her if she thought I was strong and she emphatically said yes. Then I asked her if she thought that it was a good thing that I was "strong" and she said yes again. I was so happy. Sometimes I feel like I'm really strict with the girls trying to teach them all that they need to know to survive in this world. In general I have a tendancy to overthink things and especially with Emi I wonder if I'm squashing her inner person. This is something I won't really know until she's grown up and then the "damage" will be done. Usually I don't let these thoughts control how I parent but occasionally they well up and overwhelm me and I just pray that I'm doing the right thing.

But Emi, who watches and remembers everything, appreciates the fact that I'm "strong" and do my best to guide her and her sisters in "the way they should go". I can only hope that when they are old they "will not depart from it". This is really my prayer as a mom. (Proverbs 22:6)

So I write this to encourage all the moms out there. Your efforts are not in vain and whenever you feel like giving in to your kids on main life issues, don't! They may not appreciate it at the moment but in their hearts they are hoping that we stand up, take leadership and do it with love.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I wrote a really cool blog here about my shopping woes and somehow when I went to check the spelling on one of the words today I accidentally ERASED THE WHOLE THING! I am really sad. My mom read it so you can ask her what it said . . . I'm sad.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

you're not hungry, you're tired

I read an article today wherein fathers were encouraged to repeat "annoying" catchphrases when teaching their children life lessons. The article said that your children will be irritated by them now but the cliched-sayings will stick with them into adulthood and they will remember the wisdom you were trying to impart. My parents did this with gusto during our childhood and it is a little scary to me now that I can hear my mom's voice in my head saying these phrases in unison with me as I repeat them to my children.

My favorite phrase (and the one I use all the time much to the frustration of my girls) is "You're not hungry, you're tired". As children if we asked for something to eat before bedtime (or after bedtime) then my mom would say this to us with a sweet smile and that would be the end of the conversation. The reason I'm sharing this is because after Natsuki was born and I was nursing her around the clock, I also ate around the clock. Usually I wasn't so hungry in the morning but as the day wore on (and I was actually awake) my appetite would return so that by the late evening I was still hungry no matter how much I'd eaten throughout the day. This was fine since Natsuki was waking up twice at night and I needed to be able to produce milk for her. But it just occured to me last night that she's sleeping through the night but my late night cravings have not decreased. The other night I ate a whole bag of microwave popcorn - by myself - at 11pm and then went to bed. This is not going to help me with getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight which will hinder all my shopping plans when I go home!

So last night, when the hunger pains began, I repeated to myself "you're not hungry, you're tired, you're not hungry, you're tired" until they passed and then I went to bed. The irritating catchphrases worked! My mother would be so proud of me!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

my quirky girls

Thank you for your e-mails and phone calls with your guesses about the last post. Following are the correct answers. Drumroll, please!!

Misaki said: Will you buy me plip-plops for Christmas?
Translation: plip-plops = high heels! She calls them plip-plops because that's the sound they make as you walk!

Sakura said: No, I'll get my own hello!
Translation: hello = pillow! No matter how many times I've tried to tell her that it's really "pillow" she won't believe me and continues to call it "hello"!

No wonder I never know what they're talking about!!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Lately the girls have been coming up with their own pronunciations for words. See if you can guess what these words are supposed to be?

First up is from Misaki:
Will you buy me plip-plops for Christmas?

Next is from Sakura:
No, I'll get my own hello!

If you have a guess you can make a comment but otherwise look for the answers in the next post!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I'd like to buy cool boots for the fall and winter but I haven't actually been able to make myself go out and buy them. Why? I'm afraid it might be a colossal waste of time and money. If I was living in the States I would totally have gone out and got them by now but living in Japan presents unusual complications (anybody surprised?). In Japan, we take off our shoes almost everywhere we go. Do I really want to take the time to go around to different shoe stores trying on, rejecting and then finally selecting the perfect pair of boots, followed by taking more time to find the perfect skirt, dress shorts (I'm not sure if I like these but I see them everywhere) or jeans that go with the boots only to arrive at my destination, take off the boots and stand around in an incomplete outfit? But I'd be cute on the way there, right? I can't decide.

This probably sounds like a silly dilema but I haven't really bought myself clothes for the past seven years because I was either trying to get pregnant, actually pregnant, or trying to get back to my pre-pregnancy size so my wardrobe is pretty much a blank slate. If I'm going to build it up from now the first pieces need to be things that I could use all the time. On my budget I cannot use precious hard-earned (that'd be my husband's sweat all over them) dollars on something that would hardly be seen. Even if the boots make me feel better (or cooler, or younger) I still can't justify it. Grrrrrrr!

OK, whatever, I'll think about it some more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

cute stuff - part 1

Sakura (as I'm getting lunch ready)

Me: Are you my pretty little girl?
Sakura: No, I'm hungry!

Misaki (talking to Grammy on the phone)

Me: Tell Grammy you have the mumps.
Misaki: Grammy, I have the mumbles!

Emi (helping me decide what to have for lunch)

Emi: I want wiggle bread.
Me: Wiggle bread? What's wiggle bread?
Emi: You know, the round bread you buy at Costco.
Me: Oh, you mean bagels.
Emi: Yeah, bagels!

I called this post "cute stuff - part 1" because I'm sure there will be more!

Friday, November 03, 2006

christmas spirit

I'm trying to get into the Christmas spirit but for some reason it's not working. What is wrong with me? Every year I have started listening to Christmas music from the beginning of October when the weather changes. It annoys my husband so that's an added benefit but I think in October is when I realize I won't see my family at Christmastime and so the emotional roller coaster begins. Then usually by the end of October I gather my wits about me and decide to make "this Christmas the best Christmas ever" despite the fact that the odds are against me. I go shopping and buy new Christmas ornaments or lights and start thinking about Christmas presents for my family. Also, usually about this time we'll start planning Christmas events at the church and I get all excited about these, too. "This year we'll go all out", I'll think to myself.

This will hold me through most of November and then reality will set in. I'll see a show on TV that will be advertising the best "love hotels" to take your girlfriend to on Christmas Eve. It's like prom night for high schoolers! It totally takes away from my Christmas high. Also, at this time, I will realize that my husband will not have Christmas Day off from work. How could Christmas not be a national holiday?!?!

I put on my bravest face and put up my Christmas tree and lights and try to make Christmas alive to my kids by relating memories of Christmas past and showing sappy Hollywood Christmas movies. I make my own little Christmas bubble but as the actual day grows closer the feelings of doubt rise up and I start to panic a little bit. My kids don't believe in Santa! They've never even seen Santa! I'll be walking through the mall and just want to scream at people, "You're ruining Christmas, you're ruining Christmas". I suffer from the same bit of culture shock every year. It's pathetic, you'd think I'd see it coming by now.

But this is when I realize that I have to get a grip on my expectations of what Christmas should be. I stop and think to myself about what Christmas is really about. It's about Jesus' birth (hello!) and about family. Really that's all I need. Maybe the Christmas that my kids will remember will be different from what I experienced but they will have enjoyed it nonetheless.

And then in the blink of an eye, it's over. Christmas is done and it was more wonderful and the kids were more involved than the year before and I'm happy and so is my husband and seriously what more could I ask for?

Now I know why I haven't gotten into the Christmas spirit yet this year. I don't have to endure the emotional roller coaster because this year I will go and be with my family and have a celebration that my children will remember forever because it will be the most unique Christmas they will experience until the next time we go to Canada for Christmas. So I'm saving myself (and my emotions) for my mom's cooking, and eggnog lattes (decaf, of course) and pictures with Santa and snow on the mountains and people being nice to each other just because the Christmas spirit is in the air.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

health check

Yesterday I had to take Emi for a health check-up (lungs and heart, seeing and hearing). In Japan, there are a few times throughout childhood where the state offers free check-ups (yeah for socialized medicine). But the exciting part was that it would be held at the elementary school. I think I mentioned this before but Emi cannot wait to go to elementary school so she was thrilled. I, on the other hand, was a little bit less thrilled. As interested as I was at finally seeing the inside of the elementary school, it turns out that at the exact time I was supposed to be with Emi at the check-up, Chikara will be at work, Misaki will need to be picked-up from the bus and Sakura & Natsuki should be having a nap (which means they'll be cranky). This is one of those moments where I think that having only one kid would've been wiser. But it's too late for those kinds of thoughts so now I have to decide how to manage everyone's schedules.

After much deliberation I decide that Sakura will have an early (and short) nap and Natsuki will nurse right before we go and hopefully be distracted enough by what's going on to not cry. As for Misaki, I just pray that the check-up goes quickly so I can get to her in time or else they'll bring her back to the pre-school and we'll all have to walk over there to get her.

Everything went as planned until it was time to go get Misaki and Emi was still in the middle of her check-up. My friend, whose son is the same age as Emi, offered to finish Emi's check-up with her while I went to get Misaki so I push the double stroller with Sakura & Natsuki the few blocks to the bus stop and get Misaki. Once we got back to the school Emi had just finished and was coming out of the school! I had missed all the fun stuff!!!

OK, it's fine, I worked really hard and everyone did what they were supposed to do so I'm happy. Let's go home! At this both Emi & Misaki burst into tears. I always wonder at this point if it's OK for me to burst into tears, too. They want to stay and play at the school. After I explain why we can't do this they burst into tears again. This time it's because they want to ride on my friend's bicycles instead of walking home (3 blocks - it's not going to kill them). My friend's kids are already riding so I explain that there's no room so too bad. At this point, my friends make their own kids get off the bicycles and help my whiny, selfish girls up onto the kid's seats on their bicycles (reason: because they're so cute). Usually I would not let this happen but I've had enough for the day and my friends wouldn't understand anyways. In Japan, if your kids are crying, you give in so they'll stop.

I was happy to get home but I have to say that it was precious to see Emi at the elementary school. The other kids we know have older siblings at the school so they ran around and played but Emi stayed pretty close to me and watched everything that was going on. As we were about to go in, she warned me that we had to pay money (no we don't) so was I prepared for that (I said no!). When we got home I asked her about what she thought and she said she was disappointed that she didn't get to see her classroom and also that there were some crazy kids but she could "tolerate" them because she saw some nice kids there, too. What a monkey!

Next year will be interesting. It's really the first test of our parenting skills. Will Emi remember all the things we've taught her and follow them if she comes under peer pressure (from the "crazy kids")? I hope so.