Saturday, September 26, 2009


Yesterday I made curry for dinner. I don't make curry very often because twice a month at church the kitchen ladies make it for lunch and because of that the girls aren't excited when I make it at home. But occasionally I run out of other options so I make it anyways and just ignore the whining. Case in point:

I serve curry and everyone sits down

Emi: What? Curry? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo...

Emi takes one bite

Emi: Humph. I like the curry at church better.

Me: Do you think Daddy likes my curry or the curry at church better?

Emi & Misaki together: Yours.

Misaki: Yes, that's because he doesn't want to break your heart.

Misaki is so adorable.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

more on socializing and other tidbits

Thanks for all your comments on my last post and I wanted to add a little bit more about our neighborhood. Kids always show up at our door asking to play with Emi and Misaki. For the most part they appear at times when the girls are allowed to play outside. If my girls haven't finished their homework or we have something we have to do then I just say no and usually kids just come back at another time. As Emi and Misaki have been able to understand how to be safe outside I've let them go farther and farther on their own so now they show up at other people's houses and ask to play, too. Recently they've also asked for the phone numbers of their friends so they can call and make sure it's OK to come over. I like this arrangement and up until now it's worked really well.

But I've never had a child show up, even after I just said no, and insist on being played with. Under normal circumstances I would've said no but she is shy and lonely (her mother works until late so she's with her grandmother most of the time) and I just didn't feel right about sending her away. Since the weekend we haven't gotten anymore calls and Emi says she's been playing with her at school. I wonder how this weekend will go.

My friend Henri wrote a really great response about what our responsibility is as Christians versus our responsibility as parents. This was the first time I found it hard to strike the right balance with Emi. How far is OK to go for this girl? Maybe it won't come up again but Emi and I need to come to an agreement about what is OK and if she's feeling overwhelmed then I need to be able to help her, too. We'll see...

In other Emi news, she really likes Star Wars. We've shown her Episodes I and IV and she thought they were so cool (Misaki was totally freaked out). She wants to watch the other episodes but Chikara and I don't think she's ready. She brings it up all the time and yesterday we had this conversation.

Emi: I want to watch Star Wars.

Me: No. We've talked about this. You need to wait until you're a "certain age".


Silliness abounds.

Also today is Day Two of The Last Potty Training I'll Ever Need To Do! I did a trial run in July to see how much Natsuki understood about using the toilet and the anwer was: not much. She would sit and that was it. Then during summer vacation, when I wasn't potty training her, she pee'd on the toilet 3 times. It was always during bathtime and she would say, "I need to go potty" and then I would take her and she would actually go. The first time I thought it was a fluke but after the third time I realized that she knew she wasn't supposed to randomly pee without a diaper or a toilet.

I've been thinking about what the next step would be and I thought that if she knows that it's not OK to just pee anywhere that maybe if I put her in panties when she's awake she'd be just as careful as when she's in the bathtub. So I did it yesterday from about 10am and she pee'd twice in the potty and there were no accidents! She got a sticker to put on her chart each time and she was so excited. I put her diaper back on during her nap but when she woke up it was dry. I feel like this is a huge step forward from July so we'll continue this way each day and see if Natsuki continues to improve. Right now I ask her to go every 30 minutes so if we got to a place where she tells me she needs to go I would consider that progress. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I find that between Emi and Misaki, Misaki is definitely more social. She exchanges phone numbers and she makes plans to meet friends after school way more than Emi does. Emi does occasionally but I find that kids just show up at our house and ask Emi to play rather than make plans ahead of time. It's not a big deal. They have both made and kept friends in their own way.

But on Thursday, Emi came home after school with a girl from her class and asked if they could do homework together. Sure. When the girl came in the house I said hello and Emi said (in English), "Mom, she doesn't talk". I remember that Emi had said that was a girl that was really shy and didn't speak much so obviously this was her. Usually we try to avoid speaking English in front of other people but this was the perfect moment for Emi to do this. So they came in, did their homework and then the girl, Misa-chan, went home. I praised Emi for reaching out to this girl and asked a little more about how she's doing in school, etc.

We had to go to the doctor after school yesterday (Emi's having a wart burned off - gross!) and after we got back Misa-chan called to ask if she could play with Emi today. Unfortunately Emi was going to have to do her homework in the morning, lunch, and then our normal Saturday afternoon quiet time so she wouldn't be able to play until 4pm. Emi explained all this and they made a plan to get together at 4pm. Then Misa-chan called back a half hour later to ask if they could get together after Emi did her homework. Emi gently explained that it was not possible. She was really nice about it.

Since then Misa-chan called one more time last night and three times this morning. Seriously, for someone who doesn't like to talk, she did an awful lot of calling. She didn't really pester Emi but Emi said that it's hard to communicate with her. I ended up talking with Misa-chan the last time to let her know that we were having lunch now and Emi would not be able to play until 4pm. She said OK so I thought that was the end of it when the doorbell rang. What?!? She showed up with her bento to eat lunch with Emi. We were all in our pajamas and I wasn't even wearing a bra. Fortunately I had just vacuumed the kitchen/living room so I let her up (I did put on a bra but we stayed in our pajamas) and we had lunch together with her. The other thing is that the girls had been begging me to get out some videos I had stored that they used to watch when they were little. I had promised that if they helped me clean up I would dig them out and they could watch one while they ate lunch. Unfortunately they're only in English. I debated putting on something in Japanese to be nice to the girl but she just showed up uninvited and the girls had earned this reward so I was kind of stuck. The girls ate lunch in silence watching the video in English.

Finally around 1:30 I asked her to go home because we had something (read nap) to do. We're usually out all day on Sunday so I make sure the girls take a rest on Saturday afternoons. She went home and then it started to pour rain so Emi couldn't meet her at 4pm anyways.

We moved around a lot when I was young and I never had really close girlfriends in elementary school so I don't remember but is this how girls interact with each other? The phone calls got ridiculous (in my opinion) after awhile. Emi was very clear the first time that she couldn't play until 4pm but the girl just kept calling. She's not handicapped, she's just shy (and maybe lonely)so I don't think that misunderstanding was the problem. After everything was said and done, Emi was pretty annoyed. We just don't behave like that in our family. If a friend sets a time to meet then we wait until that time, plain and simple.

We'll see how things go. We are trying to teach our girls to be understanding of other people and to be friendly especially to those without friends but we try to balance that by setting boundaries when things get to be to much. Emi had a friend in first grade who came over all the time but she was really bossy and pushy and eventually Emi had to give her up as a friend because it was exhausting to play with her. We got lucky because that girl moved but I know that's not going to happen everytime.

I get more and more nervous as the girls get older. What are their relationships going to be like in junior high and high school? I'm really praying that they find good friends they can keep healthy friendships with. I see the stuff we're dealing with now as preparation, for me as well as them!!

Monday, September 07, 2009

pics from July 2009

Emi and Natsuki smiling at our favorite sushi restaurant.

Daddy and Misaki like sushi!

Natsuki *begged* me to do her hair like this!

After Sakura's haircut. She looks like a model!

How can Natsuki possibly be sleeping in this position?

On July 25th was our neighborhood's festival so we got all dressed up (except for Emi who grew out of her yukata) and off we went.

Emi (It was a fight just to let me braid her hair!)




Eating Shaved Ice

The park where we have our neighborhood festival.

Only August left and I'm caught up. Yeah!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

pics from June 2009

I'm trying to catch up with blogging a bit so here are a few highlights from June. My mom came to visit us and we had Sakura's 5th birthday!

Natsuki doing her buttons!

The girls being silly at Sakura's b-day party. Notice the torn up shoji on the window behind them. Throughout the summer the shoji went from bad to worse.

Making Father's Day cards!

The dress mom made for Sakura. It's a little big so it'll fit her next year, too.

The quilt my mom made for Natsuki. It's Noah's Ark.

next up July...

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I had to get Sakura new inside shoes (uwagutsu) for when she went back to school on Tuesday and over the summer (only six weeks) she grew from a size 17cm to a size 18.5cm! That's three whole sizes. And Misaki's only in a size 19cm


Also, her mizuibo (some kind of wart) suddenly cleared up last week so her teacher let her go in the pool for the last day.

She's becoming such a big girl except that...

She wouldn't dance at the festival at her preschool. She totally freaked out and we ended up going home and putting her right to bed. I did talk with her about what it means to be a "big girl" and that in order to get the fun of being a big girl (going outside, allowance, etc.) that you need to take responsibility and sometimes do stuff you don't want to do (say hello to neighborhood people, DANCE AT THE FESTIVAL). We'll see if she understood.

5 can be a trying age.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

notes for next summer...

Is anyone else as happy as I am that school has started up again? Yeah for school!

I have to say that every year I get better at managing all the free time we have during summer vacation. The first few years I was totally discombobulated. When I was trying to manage a baby, a toddler, pool schedules (that are out of my control), lunches, dinners, baths, house cleaning (well, not really), potty training and whatever else came along, I was just glad that we made it through the day, but I think my older two kids were really bored.

This year was totally different since Natsuki turned 3. Yes, my baby is 3 years old! I can hardly believe it. She isn't potty trained yet. I've been working on it but she hasn't understood what she's supposed to do. I know everyone says that the summer is the easiest time to potty train but with everything else going on I didn't want to have to worry about accidents so I decided to put potty training on hold. Diapers are safer. But in spite of that Natsuki did pee on the potty for the first time two days after her birthday so go figure! Anyhoo, during Chikara's week off we took the girls to a water park (complete with waterslides, etc.) and an amusement park. Usually we only do one big outing because that's all the girls can handle but Natsuki being just a little bit older even than Golden Week made all the difference. She totally got the fun of what we were doing and she could adapt to a different schedule. Because of that Emi and Misaki had a lot more fun than they normally do and we did, too.

There are a few things I would do different for next year and I'm actually writing this post to help me remember (hopefully).

1. I would plan something for the last half of our vacation (after Chikara has gone back to work). The first four weeks were full of camps and fun activities plus Emi and Misaki had homework and art projects they needed to do so those weeks went flying by. But from August 17th we totally hit a slump. Sure it was hot outside but I totally lost momentum and looking back I wish I had a few more things planned.

2. One part of Emi and Misaki's homework is to write a daily diary. There's only room for one sentence but they also have check boxes for the weather, if they helped me, if they did their homework, etc. When I glanced at it it didn't seem all that complicated so I just left it to the end and we ended up having to take a few hours this last Monday to complete. A lot of the days have a blank because we could not remember what we did. Next year I want to remember to put it on the fridge the first day of summer vacation and then fill it out as we go along. All the rest of their homework went really smoothly which is an improvement over last year.

3. I want to spend one day alone with each of my daughters and do something they like together. Because Chikara is going to work more now it was really me and all four girls together all the time. Especially I feel Sakura got lost in the shuffle.

That's it. I'll probably have a new list of things that crop up next year but for now these are the improvements I'd make. What I wouldn't change for the world are these monkeys...

(Emi's not in a yukata because she outgrew hers!)