Wednesday, February 28, 2007

look how far we've come

The book I quoted from in my last post was given to me by a Japanese friend of mine. When I mentioned that I liked parenting books she brought one other english book that she had. After reading the first chapter I was totally confused so I looked to see when the book was published. 1964! I had to check twice to make sure I wasn't seeing things.

With this new perspective in mind I read the whole book out of curiosity. I laughed to myself so many times that finally my husband asked me what I was reading. I read the first chapter to him and he actually checked the page to make sure I wasn't making it up.

The principles in the book aren't bad but they are presented as absolutes with no room for change. Also there is no explanation as to why you're supposed to keep to this rigid schedule. So I decided that for those of us who are SAHM's this might add a little levity to the day and the struggles we face in our parenting.

My First 300 Babies - Chapter 1

What a joyous occasion - Mother's arrival home with her precious bundle! Eager relatives and well-meaning friends excitedly await this homecoming, and they anticipate at least a peek at the hidden treasure so completely shrouded in afghans and blankets.
Now the time has come for the actualy unveiling of this new little member of the family. Father's peek through the hospital nursery window has been most unsatisfactory, so he especially appreciates a thorough, unhurried inspection of his new little one. Clicking cameras often play a part in this happy drama, for this event must have every means of preserving its memory for psterity. That's how important the advent of this new baby is!
After all this welcome home, our routine for the day starts, and it's time for the infant to continue the nap that has been interrupted by his homecoming. If he is asleep, he should not be disturbed, but if he is awake, his diaper could be changed before putting him down on his stomach in the bassinet or crib made ready for him. In the event the baby might be fussing after the ride home, a small feeding might be given before putting him down for this nap, but my experience has been, with few exceptions, that after the excitement of coming home and the distracting display of chatter and camers, these little ones are quite ready to be tucked into their baskets to continue their sleep until awakened at 2:30pm. I suggest that you take advantage of this peaceful interlude.
These instructions are based on the assumption that your baby has had a feeding prior to the usual hospital checkout time, and that his arrival home is around 11:30am. You may feel that it is too long a span from the 9:30am feeding to 2:30pm, but these little ones invariably seem to need the sleep more than the food on this particular day. Usually it works satisfactorily for all concerned to proceed on this day as I have suggested.
After the baby has been tucked into his basket, it is time to think of Mother and her need for relaxation. Her role has been an important one in this event, so her bed or a comfortable sofa should be her retreat. Not until 2:30pm does the baby have need for further attention.
Whether the baby is asleep or awake, 2:30 is the next regular eating time. If asleep, he should be awakened, his diaper changed, and a feeding given. No nursing or feeding should exceed 30 minutes. This is a most important rule to observe.
After this 2:30pm feeding, the baby is put down on a bed or any suitable safe place (but not in his basket), on his back (not his tummy), allowing him to spend this part of the afternoon as he prefers. He could be held or talked to if there is no fussing, for when unrest starts, holding and attention are not the answer.
My experience has been that the conduct of the baby after this 2:30pm feeding usually seems to follow one of two patterns: 1) he may be awake and willing to remain fairly quiet, looking around or fussing intermittently. If this is the case, not later than 4:00pm turn him on his tummy for a short nap, to be turned over and awakened not later than 4:30pm. 2) He may want to continue his nap on his back after this feeding, and that should be his privilege, but again he must be awakened by 4:30pm.
There is a possibility of a third mood in which perfectly normal babies indulge. After being fed and put down, within a matter of minutes fussing starts, or even a more vehement display. You can check for a bubble or a soiled diaper (that never really disturbs the baby-only parents), but after this inquity, allow our little friend to work out his problem in his own way, and try to be unmoved by his results. If this mood has persisted until 4:00pm (or slightly sooner) turn the baby on his stomach, and he may feel a short nap is his answer. Again, by 4:30pm he must be wakened regardless of how much fussing he has done previously or how short the nap might have been. Keep in mind that any of these three moods is normal and must be accepted, at least for the time being. Mother's undisturbed attitude will do much to better these stormy wake-times. (italics are from the book)

And this is my favorite part of the book.

After breakfast is over and the other children are in the playpen or in the room with the gate, or else out-of-doors or at school, and the baby is back in the bassinet for more sleep as his schedule indicates, as good time presents itself for making supper preparations. This could include preparing a molded salad and a dessert, browning meat to be used for Swiss steak or chops for the oven, or assembling a meat loaf or some casserole that is always improved by a few hours of refrigeration before baking. Also, a sink full of hot, soapy water is helpful to soak the dishes used in cooking and makes the cleaning up process simple. When supper time draws near and the demands are many, these early preparations are really a time-saver.

I don't know about you but now, in the 21st century, when my older kids are off to school and my baby is sleeping and my 2-year-old is playing quietly, this is when I make some time for ME!

Friday, February 23, 2007

love quiz

I have been reading a book about parenting and one of the chapters talked about love languages. I've heard this concept before but I haven't ever read in detail about it and it's really interesting. The idea is that there are five ways of expressing love and to each person one or two of the expressions will mean more to them than others. Although all five love languages are nice, each individual responds differently according to our own character. The book was challenging us as parents to figure out what love languages our children (more easily defined after age 7) and spouses respond to most so that we can express love to them in a way that means the most to them.

These are the five love languages:
Encouraging Words
Acts of Service
Gift Giving
Quality Time
Physical Touch & Closeness

Personally I respond most to Quality Time and Acts of Service. The others are nice but these mean the most to me. I've been thinking about Chikara and what he responds to most. I think that his are Encouraging Words and Gift Giving (mostly food) but I'm not really sure. Seems like I'll have to have a conversation with him sometime!!

My girls are not quite old enough to be able to be defined but I'm glad I read this early in their development so I can keep my eyes open for clues. I'm sure all of us want to our children to know that we love them but it seems like we won't know if we've been successful until they're 20 when they'll either love us or hate us and it's too late to go back and do it again.

I hope this is food for thought. If you're feeling brave go ahead and comment on what love languages speak the most to you!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


I don't know what came over Misaki today...

At the bus stop when I picked them up from school, Misaki came off first and she stopped on the last step and looked at me and said "I love you" and blew me a kiss!

And halfway through dinner Misaki looked at me and said "Thanks for making spaghetti, it's really yummy".

I don't know where this came from but she was really sweet today and it is these kinds of moments that make all the hard work worthwhile!

Also, she has finally stopped picking the owie on her arm! In October 2005 she fell and got a little tiny scrape on her right forearm. She sucks her thumb and I didn't realize that she'd started picking it as she was going to sleep. I don't think she even realized she was doing it. Then she got chicken pox so I really didn't notice one little owie as compared to the rest all over her body. Then I found out I was pregnant and had morning sickness so I wasn't really paying attention to anything.

About April 2006 I realized that she had had this same owie in the same spot for 6 months. I put a bandaid on it and thought that would be the end of it but I totally underestimated how uncommitted she was to stopping!!! About June I started a campaign to help her remember to stop picking it. She got a sticker everyday that she left her bandaid alone and if she got a sticker 7 days in a row then she could go out for ice cream with just me. I took her out twice so I thought I was finally getting through to her. But then I got near the end of my pregnancy and again I wasn't paying enough attention. About September I realized that again she had picked this little owie apart.

At this point I decided to just leave the whole mess alone. I wondered if she was continuing to pick it because I was giving so much attention to the situation. But no, she just kept picking away. I know it's really not a big deal but I don't want her to be 14 years old and get mad at me because she has a scar on her arm. Plus this is one thing (not realizing that there are consequences to her actions) that I see in Misaki that I think I need to help her change before she gets older and into elementary school. She doesn't really think through stuff before she does it. I don't know how many times she's fallen off a chair because she's leaned too far over but turned around and done the exact same thing again a week later! It'd be funnier if it was someone else's kid!!

But somehow since she had her birthday last week she's realized that she's growing up so I guess she's decided to try harder. She is very proud everyday to show me that she hasn't touched her bandaid. I'm very proud of her, too.

I'm still trying to get the photoshow I made of her birthday onto this blog. There's some problem with the program so I'm trying to work it out. Trust me, it will be worth the wait!

Monday, February 19, 2007

the never-ending cold

Misaki had a wonderful birthday this weekend. I made a photoshow that I'm trying to link to my blog but it seems like it might take until tomorrow so in the meantime I thought I would take this opportunity to complain about something!!

I find when my kids get sick enough to take to the hospital the medicine that is prescribed doesn't really work (or so it seems). Last week Emi had a runny nose and a couple days later started to complain that her ear hurt. She often gets ear infections so I took to the hospital right away. Her right ear was indeed red but not too bad so the doctor prescribed some medicine. Emi took it faithfully (even at school) but although her ear stopped hurting her symptoms didn't seem to change. By Saturday the medicine was gone and I couldn't decided if I should take her back to get more or not. On Sunday night, as we were going out for Misaki's birthday dinner, she started to cry and complain that her left ear was hurting. I gave her some children's Tylenol and she slept fine at night. She went to school this morning but when she came home her cheeks were red, she was a little warm and she was complaining that her ear still hurt. Grrr! So after naptime we went back to the hospital where they gave us more medicine because indeed now her left ear is infected.

So here's my problem. Why is she not better after taking the medicine prescribed? She didn't have the flu or anything really serious, just a runny nose that affected her ears. Shouldn't medicine that she took for four days in a row be able to take care of that? During that time she had regular sleep and ate well and I was careful with her playtime, etc. so that she didn't overdo it.

Since I never really took my girls to the doctor in the States I don't really know if this is the norm. I know there's not a perfect cure for a cold but it seems like any type of medicine prescribed by the doctor should work better.

Even now Sakura is upstairs hacking away even though she got medicine from the doctor today, too. I swear it's made her worse. She started with a runny nose from Thursday but I had some Children's Tylenol Cough & Cold on hand so I gave her that. It stopped her symptoms completely but by Saturday she'd finished what was left in the bottle. On Sunday her runny nose overwhelmed her. She hates to stop playing just to blow her nose so she used her sleeve (gross!) and by the afternoon the skin on her nose, below her nose and her left cheek were red and irritated.

As a mom it is hard for me to have the girls sick for long periods of time. Especially with four in the house they seem to pass the same cold around for months. But I feel that if I take them to the doctor, get them checked out and give them the medicine prescribed that they should get better. So here's my question - Is this just a Japan thing? Is the medicine prescribed here really not as strong? Or is the cold that a child gets really never-ending?

Friday, February 16, 2007

what a week!

I haven't written much this week because we've been pretty busy. I'd like to say it was because we were having Valentine's Day fun but that would be untrue. Since we've come home from our Christmas vacation I've been completely caught offguard by how busy we've become. I thought for sure I'd have a few months of relative calm before April came and Emi started elementary school but I was wrong (I'm noticing an alarming trend).

Monday was a national holiday and the girls were home from school so I decided to have a little birthday party for Misaki whose birthday is actually February 14th. Two girls from the neighbourhood who are friends with Emi & Misaki came over around 1:30 for cake and fun. The girls had a lovely time and after a couple hours they moved the party outside and played together for a few more hours. Since we didn't have lunch I didn't have to put in a lot of effort but Misaki still had a good time. We let her open one of her presents and she looks forward to coming home everyday to put it on!

Yep. We're party animals.

On Tuesday we went to our pastor's house and talked with them for about four hours. We are taking over the leadership of the music ministry of the church this month. Chikara and I have been brainstorming for months about what we'd like to do so we thought it would be a good idea to talk with the pastor before we started anything. We had a great conversation and now we're excited about what's going to happen next.

As energizing as the morning had been we were quickly brought back to reality after we picked up the girls from school. Emi was running a temperature and complaining about her ear hurting. We needed to get a calendar (we have no idea what day it is and we have so many events coming up - scary) so we did that and then took Emi to the hospital. By the time that was done it was dinnertime and I wasn't going to have time to cook anything so we bought McDonald's and took it home. None of the kids had had a nap so I didn't feel like taking them into a restaurant even if it was just McDonald's. Needless to say I was glad when everyone went to sleep. Emi responded well to the medicine so she slept through the night and was able to go to school the next day.

On Wednesday a new friend that I met at church came with her daughter to our home. Her daughter is the same age as Sakura so I had invited her over for a playdate and also so I could get to know her better. Her husband is from Denmark and she is Japanese so I figured that we would have some things in common. We really enjoyed the time together and our daughters played well. At first they were very quiet but as the day wore on they stopped being shy and began to talk as they played. It was very cute. She left after I picked up the girls from school so I put them down for a nap. All four girls were napping so I thought I would take a little power nap myself. As soon as I laid down, Natsuki started to cry. Of course! So again I was glad when the day was over and the girls went to bed. On a funny note, on the way home from the bus stop the wind was really strong and this happened to Misaki!

When Thursday came I decided to do nothing. Well not really *nothing* but as close to it as I could get. One project I did have for the day was to put together a page for a photo album about Emi for her preschool teacher. Every child in the class makes a page and then one of the mothers puts it together into a photo album which the class gives to the teacher at the graduation. Emi has done so much stuff this year and I had tons of pictures so I picked out my favorites, arranged them on the page and had Emi write some stuff to add to it. It turned out really well and I enjoyed working on it. It's been awhile since I did crafting type of stuff.

Today I woke Emi up early because she had a field trip to the Aquarium. I made a bento for her (American-style! Yes!) and drove her to the school on my bike. At the school I handed over my page to the mom who's organizing all the stuff for our class. I'm not really sure what I thought would happen but she just nodded at me and put it in a bag. I think I made her nervous. Then I went home and got Misaki up and ready for school and took her to the bus stop. When Sakura woke up I could tell right away that she was sick. Her breath has that weird "sick smell". Do your kids get this? I gave her some medicine right away. I'm hoping that she won't develop an ear infection too.

My goal for today was to give Natsuki a bath. I'm in that transition stage where she's not sitting up well enough for a regular bath but too big for her baby bath so giving her a bath is a challenge and I need to have total concentration. If the timing doesn't work out between her awake times and her sister's then she doesn't get a bath. Also I've been noticing lately that her cradle cap is starting to come off. I thought it would be a good idea to work on this and then give her a bath. I put baby oil on her scalp and rubbed it in and then took a comb and started to comb it off. Man, was it gross. Fortunately she didn't mind having her head combed so it was relatively easy as far as squirming and screaming goes. Now she has a lovely clean scalp that I can be proud of!

My husband came home early from work so he helped me tidy up the house and then I made dinner. Again the older two didn't have a nap and Sakura was already cranky because of being sick so they all went to sleep before 8. I've said it a lot this week but I love bedtime!! So now here I am finally able to write about our week.

I can't imagine what tomorrow will bring since it's Saturday - the day I dread the most.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

wasting my time

Yesterday I took Natsuki for her four-month well-baby checkup and her TB immunization (BCG). Yes she's almost six months old but we were in Canada when I should've taken her so the Government of Japan sent me a postcard telling me to bring her yesterday. The checkup and immunization used to be done at separate times and the BCG shot required two days. You would go in on like a Wednesday and they would administer a test shot to see if your child was already immune to TB and then you had to go back two days later and they would administer the shot.

The shot is actually a horrible thing. I've never seen anything like this and yet I've subjected all four of my girls to it. It looks like a round stamp that piano teachers would use to stamp your book when you've completed a song except that it has 9 little needles sticking out of it in a perfect square pattern. They hold your child's arm and then press this thing into their pink flesh until your child screams and then they do it again just below the first one. Then, while your child is screaming blue murder, you must hold your child in an awkward position until the injection site dries in a room full of other mothers and screaming babies doing the same thing. I swear I'm not making this stuff up.

I guess the City of Settsu (where we live) has decided to do the whole thing in one day. I guess somebody finally realized that you would know if your four-month-old had contracted TB and that you couldn't accidently have immunized your child for TB without knowing it. There are some smart people over there.

So I knew it was going to be that kind of day where you were just glad when it was over. I got Emi and Misaki off to school, took Chikara to his parents place so he could borrow their car, came back home and got Sakura and myself ready, picked up Emi & Misaki from school (it was a half day), prodded them to change their clothes while I fed Natsuki, put some make-up on, got everyone out the door and into the car, bought some lunch stuff at the convenience store, picked up a number at the Women's Health Center and finally drove to my friend's house (she lives near the women's health center) and dropped everyone off. Even this "preparation" part was tiring but I turned right around and walked over to the Women's Health Center with Natsuki.

We were number 19 out of about 40 so we waited for our number to be called. When we were called I handed over our Mother's Handbook (where they record all the stuff about Natsuki from her birth and childhood), the postcard that I had received (I had to fill out some stuff on the back) and another piece of paper I had to fill out in order to have the BCG immunization done. The community health nurse took my stuff and handed me a thermometer. Before you can do the BCG immunization you have to make sure you child isn't sick. So I take her temperature but the room is stinking hot so her temp comes out 37.3 (99.1) so she tells me to take it again "carefully" because it's too high. Fine. I take her to a cooler part of the room, take off her clothes, fan her for a bit, take her temperature again and it comes out 37.1 (98.8). I thought this would be bad but the lady takes it and says go on upstairs. Phew!

Upstairs there are a series of rooms 1-7 that we have to go through before we can go home. Room 1 is a waiting room where we, yes you guessed it, wait! As I knew this would happen a lot throughout the day I had brought a snack. The lady beside me suddenly asked if my name is Imashioya. I was totally shocked. It turns out that she is a friend of my neighbour and her son goes to the same preschool as Emi & Misaki. It was a nice surprise and so we chatted throughout the afternoon as we waited (I was glad I'd put makeup on!).

After about 15 minutes one of the community health nurses came and said that Room 2 was moving slowly so another community health nurse (from now I'll just use CHN) will just come in here to speak to us instead of making us move. During the time we've been waiting everyone's babies have been fussing and crying (and Natsuki spit up) so we're all glad to hear that they haven't forgotten us! The CHN starts talking about how our babies will be changing in the next few months. Stuff like staying awake longer during the day, eating food, rolling over, etc. She encourages us to play with our babies and help them learn how to roll over and develop muscles. Then another CHN comes in and talks about what kind of food to feed our babies and how to prepare it for them (she recommended oranges which I thought was weird). Honestly this whole part I could've done without. By now Natsuki is sick of laying around and she's tired so I was glad when the lady finally stopped talking.

Now we wait in this room until they call our name and we can go onto Room 3. In Room 3 we are interviewed by another CHN who tries to assess in 5 minutes whether we are good mothers or not. This lady doesn't read my chart but blah, blah, blahs for awhile about 4-month-olds until she realizes that Natsuki is almost 6 months old and then she stops and lets me go onto the next room.

In Room 4 I take off Natsuki's clothes except for her diaper and two CHN's weigh her and measure her head width and her length. Natsuki smiles through the whole entire thing. All the other babies are screaming and Emi, Misaki and Sakura all cried through this when I took them but Natsuki just smiles and even laughs. Natsuki's stats: weight-7325g (19-1/2lbs), length-63.5cm (25in). This puts her in about the 70th percentile.

Then we go into a waiting room for Room 5. Our babies are still naked except for their diaper and all the babies are crying except Natsuki who instead spit up carrots and oatmeal all over me. Good thing I was wearing layers! After about 10 minutes Natsuki is called so we go into Room 5 where we see the doctor. She takes all of a minute and a half to check out Natsuki who smiled and laughed through the entire thing and delivers a verdict of "good". I'm thinking that *this* is what I spent the last hour waiting for? Sheesh!

So now we go onto the waiting room for Room 6 where we get the BCG immunization. I thought for sure I'd have to wait for awhile again but it seems the BCG people have their act together and Natsuki is called right away. Natsuki cries as they do the shot but as soon as we leave the room she stops. I carry her and our stuff awkwardly to the next waiting room. As I enter I'm hit by a wall of sound. Every baby in this room is screaming their heads off. All the moms look at me with eyes that say "I loathe your quiet baby". Honestly I have no clue why she's not crying. Emi, Misaki and Sakura screamed through the whole entire thing when I did this with them.

Once her arm is dry I put her clothes. She screamed for this part but as soon as I picked her up she falls asleep in my arms. It's been two hours since I arrived at the Women's Health Center and I still have one more room left to go. I wait for 10 minutes for my turn. A CHN comes and brings me to Room 7. As we're walking she comments that my baby "fell asleep" like that's a bad thing and how could I have "let" her do that. In Room 7 they have little tables and chairs set up. I sit down and the CHN starts to go on about how Natsuki's schedule will change in the next few months and that there is a class on how to prepare food for your baby in March and I should seriously consider going. I'm nodding at her to be nice and it's about this time that she actually *reads* my chart and realizes that Natsuki is almost 6 months and is already eating food and her schedule has already changed. At this point she gives me a half smile, apologizes for keeping me so long and gives me back my stuff.

Yeah, I'm free to go. As I leave I remember that they are giving away children's books so I stop by to pick one up. As I'm picking one out the sweet lady behind the desk asks me if I have some "time". Seriously? At this point I was totally prepared to launch into a diatribe about how the whole day had gone but I just smiled and said no. I picked out a book and left.

I am so glad I won't be doing this again for awhile.

This is a picture of Natsuki's arm this morning. It's pretty faint but you can still see the mark on her arm. Poor thing.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

left to their own devices

Yesterday we had a recital at school so today was a holiday. This was probably to help the teachers recuperate - they did an amazing job. I made a little photoshow (my first so be nice) with pictures from yesterday. If you'd like to see it, send me your e-mail address and I'll e-mail you the link. For some reason it's not working from this page. Grrr, technology!

So today the girls roamed around the house and found things to entertain themselves while I did some other stuff. Following is the result.

The three of them built a fort and played under the kitchen table. They brought all the boxes of toys and arranged them around the outside of the table. They had so much fun and made such a mess.

Emi found some Where's Waldo stickers and put them all over her face while watching Aladdin.

I really need to pay more attention to my children when they're home!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

chubby baby

Natsuki has discovered her toes. She can play like this for hours. Personally, I love her chubby legs.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

in other news

This week I organized my photographs on PhotoShow Express. Maria makes the coolest photo shows for the kids birthdays or other events and I'm so envious of her cool program so I downloaded a demo version to try it out. Keep an eye out for a photoshow from me.

Because I was trying out this program I took some pictures of the girls around the house so I could see how to download pictures, etc. They turned out so cute so I thought I would share.

I cut Sakura's hair this week. This is after her bath.

This is what Sakura and Natsuki do all day.

They gaze fondly into each other's eyes. Yeah, not so much.


Emi reach two big milestones this week and while I'm excited for her, it's freaking me out a little bit. I guess this is what your first child does to you.

Last Monday or Tuesday when Emi came home from school she told me that her tooth was loose. She's been saying this for months ever since she noticed some of her friends at school has lost their teeth so I didn't really respond right away. But she kept saying it so I thought I would try to wiggle her tooth and prove to her that it wasn't loose at all. Unfortunately, I was wrong (yes, it happens)! Her tooth really is loose. Now that I have confirmed that it is indeed loose she feels that she has license to complain about how much it hurts and show it off to everyone we know.

I've been telling her about the tooth fairy so she's all excited about getting money for her tooth but it occurred to me that I'm the tooth fairy and there is so much I don't know about what I'm supposed to do. What is the going rate for a tooth? What do I do with the tooth after I take it? What if she wakes up and sees me? These are the questions I have.

Also this week Emi learned how to ride her bicycle without the training wheels. Many of her friends have already been able to do this for awhile so I asked Chikara to take the training wheels off her bike and spend some time practicing with her. So on Tuesday after she came back from school, Chikara took her out and they practiced together for an hour or so. Emi loves a challenge so after that she's practiced every day. On Saturday she was outside for four or five hours. Her powers of concentration are amazing. On Sunday when we got back from church she showed us her progress and...

...she can ride her bike! Can you see the smile on her face? She's so excited that she's able to do this and so are we. Chikara is especially proud since he was the one to teach her.

So this week Emi grew up right in front of my eyes. It's one of those happy and sad moments.

Friday, February 02, 2007

she's learning something

Me: Are you finished with your juice?

Sakura: Yeah, I'm all done.

Me: Can you bring it to me?

Sakura: No.

Me: Yes, you can, bring it to me.

Sakura: No, I want to leave it on the table. (she says with a smile - isn't she clever!)

Me: No, bring it to me now.

Sakura: OK... (and then as she's picking up the cup), GOSH!


Happy Birthday Daddy!