Thursday, January 25, 2007

setting the record straight

While we were on our trip home we were able to see a lot of our friends. Many of them have just had their first or second baby (I guess we're overachievers) and in talking to these new moms, one thing I heard over and over again was how unprepared that had felt for how difficult the first month with a newborn would be. As I thought about this I realized how many times I have heard this over the last few years from other friends, reality TV shows, etc.

Before I had Emi I read a lot of different magazines and books on "Taking Care of Your New Baby!". Almost every one went on and on about how wonderful and magical those days would be when you brought your new baby home from the hospital. They especially went on about breastfeeding and how it was the most important thing you could do to bond with your baby. Then after I had Emi I have to say that those first few weeks were not exactly how I imagined they would be. Fortunately I was able to get good advice from Maria and my mom which helped things go smoother but I was disappointed with myself that I hadn't done better on my own.

Now that we are on our fourth baby I have realized one truth. Raising a baby takes work. They never really tell you this in baby magazines or TV and as a mom once you get past those first months you totally forget. Raising a baby is either depicted as sunshine and rainbows or hell. Although both of these will seem true at times, the reality is somewhere in the middle. I wish it was spelled out better so that so many of us would not doubt our skills as parents or fear for the future of our child (I've ruined her already!).

So if you're having your first baby anytime soon I will give you some advice I've learned along the way. Before you have your baby take a look around you at other moms. If you see someone who you think is doing a good job and you like the disposition of their baby then go and talk with them and glean some wisdom. Ask about their tricks (everyone has tricks!). Once your baby is born, be prepared to do some work getting your infant to nurse and sleep consistently and don't be disappointed if it's not working. With a baby everyday is a new chance to try again. Last, never go about childraising by yourself. There will always be people around you who will be more than happy to help you out and you should take advantage of their generosity.

I've found with a little patience with myself and my baby that the whole experience can be a lot more fun.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

feeling old

I got an e-mail this week that my 15-year high school reunion is coming up. I didn't realize that it had been that long so it was a bit of a shock. I actually stopped and counted the years just to make sure.


15 years.

I won't be able to go to the reunion in July, but I hope that over the next few months I will hear more about my classmates and what they are up to. One of the best of our class, David Andrew, passed away this year which has made me more retrospective. I got out my old yearbooks and read what my friends had written. It made me wonder what I had written in their yearbooks. Probably something embaressing. High school is like that.

I wonder how you are doing, class of '92.

our vacation

Since I've come back from Canada I've been trying to write a post that would include all the wonderful aspects of our trip. Needless to say this has been a lesson in futility. There are many unfinished drafts wherein I tried to include all the cute things the girls said or all the illnesses we had between the six of us or my feelings about seeing my family and being home for Christmas and it is just not possible to include all of this in a post. So here are some highlights...

Being Sick:
All six of us had a variety of illnesses during the 3-1/2 weeks that we were home. I have not been sick for at least three years (unless you count the fun symptoms related to pregnancy) and I got my first full-blown cold with glands so swollen that I could hardly swallow (although I ate the turkey anyways) at which point the organization of my family totally broke down. I was so out of it I couldn't remember if the kids had eaten. Thank God my mom was paying attention. Sakura even had roseola (we looked it up on the internet) which she graciously passed on to two of her cousins (Sorry Ariana and Felicity!).

International Flight With Four Children:
Busy. The flight to Canada went very well because we flew at night and for the most part the kids slept, ate or watched movies. Natsuki was the easiest. She was totally entertained by all the people on the flight and she smiled for anyone who would take a moment to say hello. The flight back to Japan was another story. This flight was during the day and two hours longer. We were so glad to get home and go to bed.

10 Kids In One House For Five Days:
Good! I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this was less of a problem than I anticipated. The four older children (Jairon, Emi, Ethan & Misaki) played very well together (Emi even learned how to play video games!), Ariana was sick most of the time and Natsuki & Xander were asleep most of the time. The only real drama was between Sakura, Kiara & Felicity but even that was easily resolved and forgotten. Plus I know the kids made some great memories together which was really the point of all this.

Too much fun! As always, I wished that I had more time and money but we maxed out our suitcase space so it worked out just fine. I love shopping in Portland. I really miss Target and Old Navy.

I was wonderful to see old friends whom we haven't see in awhile. Many of their families have grown (like us) so it was fun to parade our kids around and take pictures. Special thanks to Luke & Angela for letting us stay with them. As always, your hospitality really blessed us. And thanks to those of you who had us over for dinner and fellowship.

This is the hardest of all to write. Spending time with my family is always the greatest joy I have when I go home and it is also the greatest sadness when I leave. Japan has become our home but it would be made perfect if my family was here with me. I enjoyed being able to sit in your homes and talk about everything and nothing, watch our kids run around and do silly things, play games, eat and in general be a big family once again. Thank you mom & dad for hosting all of us. Thank you Jon & Maria for being so flexible and taking good care of us in Portland. And Hannah, I'm so glad we could come and visit your cute home on the coast. Thanks for taking care of details that made our Christmas so wonderful. Joel (the Magnificent), thank you for entertaining the children.

I have to say that having four children really changes how much we are able to do on our vacations but they are made more special when seen through your child's eyes.