Haru and the Dogs


The relationship between Haru and the dogs has never been good. It’s not that Haru dislike our dogs. On the contrary, Haru loves the dogs, but she tends to be a bit rough on them. Because she still hasn’t mastered the fine coordination in her hands and fingers, she tends to grab things (like the dogs’ fur or their ears) so they tend to steer clear of her when they see her coming. They’ll often growl at her if she’s too close, or move to another part of the room. And the loud seemingly endless crying during her colicky days didn’t help matters much either. Lately however, I’ve noticed times when the dogs have warmed up to Haru. They’d either give her a little kiss on the cheek or sit next her, provided that she doesn’t approach or reach out at them first.

Tonight, there was somewhat of a breakthrough in the cold war between Haru and the dogs. I guess it was a rare moment when Haru was in a good mood, and the dogs were in a tolerant and playful mood at the same time. I was playing with Princess and throwing around her favorite squeaky toy, while my wife was preparing for Haru for her bath. Haru seemed to take interest in what was going on so my wife let Haru loose, completely nude. Shortly after Jenna joined in and before I knew it, all three of them seemed to be having a really fun time. It was such a rare moment, that I actually video taped it. I hope that when Haru is old enough to see the video, she doesn’t mind that I posted her nude self for all of the world to see.

First, just some random pictures:

A blury pic of Haru crawling

watching Baby Einstein

And finally the video



Haru laughing hysterically at our silly dogs

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Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’


It was only a month and half ago when I wrote how Haru started sitting up on her own, and it happened quite suddenly. One day she wasn’t able to sit without me holding her up, the next day she could.

Well like-wise, and almost as sudden, Haru pulled herself up into a full standing position and cruised around in her crib. Although really happy with the progress, we now have to be extra vigilant and make sure she doesn’t fall out of her crib.

Here is a video of the moment of truth:

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An International Education


I don’t plan to be one of those over-demanding and over-zealous parents, who put a lot of undue pressure on their kids to do better in school, despite being told by many people that I probably will be one. Whether it’d be a rocket scientist or a clerk at a Seven-Eleven store, It has always been my contention to let Haru do or become whatever makes her truly happy. Of course I do have my own hopes and dreams for her, and I will do my best to put her on the right track to success so that she can go for the bigger goals in life. And as an incentive to do and be better, she will be rewarded and supported when she accomplishes the higher goals.

However, there is and always will be a prime directive, no matter what she should decide to do in life, and that is to be at a minimum a bilingual (able to speak both Japanese and English fluently.) With the spoken language between my wife and me being 99.9% Japanese, and with me being Haru’s only source of English at home, this may prove to more difficult than planned. There are a lot of English language programs in Japan that will allow her to receive her education completely in English, but they aren’t without their own set of issues.

The main issues with foriegn taught education are:

EXPENSIVE!!

International schools aren’t usually for the Japanese public, but rather for children of foriegn expat professionals, who usually have extravagant CEO level salaries, and paid room and board while in Japan. As a matter of fact most of these schools will not admit kids unless they have at least one English speaking parent. Tuition alone for many of these schools can run between 10 to 15 thousand dollars a year. Add to that, supplies and materials for extracurricular activies, uniform fees (if any), text book fees, and transportation to and from the school, and it can easily add up to 20 to 25 thousand a year, which is nearly up there with some of the private universities in the States. And we’re only talking K-12 here. And although we are above the average household income line in Japan, we still would never be able to afford to send Haru to International school for the entire K-12 education period.

Culture

International schools focus on teaching in English. Many even forbid the use of Japanese in the classrooms in order to enhance the overall quality of education. However in the process, the kids get less exposure to Japanese language and culture and often only associate with those at school. Unfortunately this can introduce the lack of understanding of Japanese culture, popular culture, and the subtle nuances that encompasses it.

Accents

I find foriegn accents charming. Prior to moving to Japan, I didn’t know that I had an accent, but apparently I do. I was told that I have a Californian-American accent. Going to international school won’t guarantee that Haru will come out of it with the same accent that I speak. I personally don’t mind this, but I do have preferences which may not fit well with some schools. Being American, of course an American accent is always welcomed (as long as its not a Texas or an Oklahoman accent). A British accent would be very cute and charming, and I would also welcome that as well. If Haru was a boy, an Australian or New Zealand accent would be okay, but for a girl I think its a bit rough, but not completely unwelcomed. However, something like an east Indian accent might not agree with me. Not to say anything is wrong with it. I think east Indian English is perfectly fine, but for east Indians. For a girl who will probably wind up looking south east Asian like her father, it may lead to identity issues later.

Parental Involvement

I plan to get as invloved as much as feesibly possibly in Haruka’s education, to not only ensure she that she understands what’s being taugh, but to also make sure that what’s being taught is correct. However, in many international school environments, they require that the English speaking parent (me) get MUCH more involved in their child’s school activities and projects. Although this sounds good on paper, the reality ( and my take on this) is that the schools should be educating and giving homework to the child and not the parents or familes of the child. I read about a school in Tokyo where the homework and projects given to the kids were so intense, that it required the entire family to work throughout most of the night to complete them. I think all this serves to do, is to train the children to work excessive overtime (which is the accepted norm in Japanese society) , and spend less quality time doing more fun stuff with their families and friends, and being childrenas they should be.

My initial plan is to try to get Haru into an international pre-school, so that she can pick up English in her initial stages of language development. This way, she is exposed to English most of the day and she will be more compelled to speak to me in English, and to her mother in Japanese. Kindergarten has still yet to be decided. For the reasons above, we may just send her to a regular Japanese taught public Kindergarten, depending on our financial situation as well as Haru’s willingness to continue her English program at home. But of course, the Japanese school system is not without it’s problems either.

Crawling around in the living room

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200th Day


Haruka celebrated her 200th day with us last Satuday, and it’s hard to believe that it’s been 100 days since the 100 day ceremony we did last March.  Since then, Haru has grown a lot more hair on her head, has learned roll over more quickly, learned to crawl,  can use both hands and feet, cries a lot less, and gained about 5 or 6 more pounds (amongst countless other feats).

Yesterday, my wife spent the day away from the house and Haru for a change, while I stayed home and babysitted.  For the most part, babysitting was a breeze and a pleasure.  Aside from crawling all over the place, and trying to get into things, she was well behaved.  I spread some cusions on the floor so that she doesn’t hit her head on the floor, and she actually tried using them to try to stand up (see video in my previous entry.)  She seems to have plenty of strength to get herself on her feet, but not enough balance and coordination to stay up.  Perhaps in other couple of months, she’ll be able to stand up on her own.

Haruka is a very restless sleeper and moves around a lot in her sleep. The swaddle blanket she had been using since she was a month and half, has grown too small for her and so we are trying to get her to sleep without it.  This has proven to be a pretty difficult task, because often times we’d find that she had spun herself around 180 degrees, and pointed in the opposite direction.  And because of this, she often hits her head on the bars and wakes up in the middle of the night.  I even bought some cusions to put other bars, but she’s managed to take them off by herself.  She even discovered the web camera and she sometimes pulls it off its stand.  I often wonder if this is a sign of unbridled and untrained intelligence, or just plain boredom.  Either way, I think I need to get her something that’ll focus her attention on something more educational.

Trying to use my leg to stand up

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I scream for Ice cream!


Today my wife and I spent the early afternoon watching baby documentaries on the Discovery Channel. Normally we usually don’t care too much about watching baby shows, but this show was specifically about various developmental milestones, so we were both a bit interested in knowing how Haru measures up. As I suspected, Haru seems to be about 6 weeks to 2 months ahead of babies at the same developmental age. She’s literally learning a new skill every week now, which I’m not sure if its normal or not, but it defenately beats having the opposite.

Afterwards, we decided go for a walk to the nearby department store to pick up some stuff for Haru. I was initially looking for an activity center for Haru to play with, but unfortunately, this department store didn’t carry it so we may have to look for it at Toy’s R Us or a similar type of store. My wife picked some new cloths for Haru and I had her try on some hats. There was one in particular that looked really good on her, so even though its a bit big on her, I decided to get it for her anyways.

We also went to the kids play area to let Haru play with some of the toys there in the hopes that something might capture her attention. She seemed to enjoy the little plastic slide that was there, but its not something she can use right away, not without help anyways, so we passed on getting her the slide.

After letting Haru play around with the toys for while, we decided to get some icecream at the Baskin Robins at the food court. I gave Haru a couple of spoonfuls of my vanilla icecream to see how she’d react. She didn’t show any particular reaction favoring the icecream, bu she didn’t dislike it either. Maybe it was just a little bit too cold for her liking.

Showing a little bit of interest for a toy in the play area

Another toy that Haru took an interest to

Modelling her new hat

Another shot

Finally, a short video of Haru trying to stand up.

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Bananas about Bananas


Over the weekend, we gave Haruka her first taste of bananas. It’s also probably her first taste of something sweet, so she liked it a lot. I personally don’t care either way for bananas; I don’t like or dislike them, but my wife hates them. So we usually don’t keep them in the house. However, Haru seems to enjoy them a lot. I usually give her about 1/4 of a banana, mix it with baby formula, and mash it into mushy semi liquid juice. When she likes something she’d usually wave her arms around and smile or laugh a lot, so I know she really enjoyed the bananas.

In addtion to bananas, we took Haruka to a nearby park where she experienced her first ride on the swings and the slide.  Of course I had to hold her, but she particularly enjoyed  swinging on the swings.   I remember being taken to  Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey for the first time when I was a kid, and being afraid of the giant slide there.  It made me wonder how Haru would react if she slid down a slide like that.  She seems to like to be swung about a lot so she’d probably would enjoy it more than I did.

Progress-wise, Haru is making better progess with her crawling.  She has no problems getting around, but her led coordination is still a bit off.   But being hastey as she is, she is already experimenting with trying to stand up on her own.  She seems to have the strength but not the balance to do it, but I have a feeling that by the end of the summer she’ll be standing on her own.  Time to lock down the house!

 

Crawling up on mom’s lap

sitting on her play mat

Bite bite bite!!

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Found the pace…finally!


For the last four weeks or so, Haruka has been difficult to get to sleep. She’s been a real grouch, to the point where it’s caused a lot of stress on us, not to mention an immense loss of sleep. In the last week in particular, it got so bad, that she refused to drink her formula, and only drank breast milk. At times she didn’t even want me to hold her, and only let her mother hold her, which was a bit upsetting.

There are some visible signs of teeth on her bottom gums, so I naturally thought her grouchiness was due to teething. But I didn’t understand why it made her not want to drink milk. my wife has always been the voice of reason, and the cool headed one, but there was a point when my wife said that Haruka got so difficult that she wanted to put her into daycare. Having lived right next door to a daycare center for 4 years prior to moving into our current house, I was strongly against the idea. There was no way I was letting some fresh out of trade school 25 year old girl with only book knowlege on how to take care of children, raise our child.

Although I wanted to help as much as possible, my busy work schedule limited me from researching this any deeper. So the best I could is just hope Haru would get through this phase quickly. Luckily, my wife was able to find a solution.

She read that babies Haru’s age need sleep, and LOTS of it, because they are growing so fast that they use up their energy and stamina quickly. And although we were putting her down for regular naps throughout the day, according to her book, it wasn’t enough. Apparently, 6 month olds can’t or shouldn’t stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time. If they stay awake for more than 2 hours, everything becomes over stimulating to them, and consequently they have a hard time getting to sleep. Even the act of trying to get them to sleep becomes overwhelming to them. And because they’re so tired and/or sleepy, they don’t even have the energy to drink milk (which explained her tantrums when I tried to feed her).

So last week, my wife began putting her to sleep every 2 hours. And even though Haru would only sleep 30 minutes to an hour at a time, it made a world of difference. Haru was much more energetic, and very rarely cried when she was awake. When we put her to sleep, she’d fall asleep within a couple of minutes, which is something she never did before. Usually it’d take 5 to 10 minutes of screaming and fumbling around before she’d fall asleep, but now she’d just nod silently off to sleep, without any fuss at all. Not only that, her appetite seems to have increased as well, and now feeding her is no longer an issue. So now, life with Haru has all of a sudden gotten a lot easier.

In addition to Haru’s new found happiness, she has begun to crawl a little bit. She still drags along the floor a little bit, but she can move forwards now and she can move quite quickly. Her latest past time is chasing the the dogs around the living room. At times, she would even prop herself up on all fours and take a few scoots forward, so it looks like it won’t be long until she starts crawling at full speed.

Crawling around on the living room floor

Grabbing onto mom so she can stand up

Trying to grab the camera from me

Haru next to the doggy bed

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Finding Haruka’s Pace


Haru’s sleep schedule has been very eratic lately, which is nothing new.  She would wake up several times a night.  It got so bad last week, that I had to resort to sleeping on the living room sofa, because I was only getting a couple of hours of sleep.  I’m not sure what’s causing this eraticness, but it’s been quite difficult coping with it. 

Along with her irregular sleep schedule, her milk time has been quite eratic as well.  For some reason, she started to not like milk.  So trying to feed her has been difficult to say the least.  Before, she would drink milk right after her evening bath  like nobody’s business.  But lately she abslolutely refuses to drink any of it.  Even just showing her her bottle makes her throw a tantrum.  So instead of the usual baby formula, my wife would just breast feed her.

If my wife had the ability to produce several gallons of milk a day like a cow does, this wouldn’t be such an issue.  However, she’s always had a difficult time supplying enough to keep up with Haru’s appetite, hence we suppliment her daily doses of breast milk with baby formula.  But now with Haru’s sudden loss in interest for formula, we are at a loss for what to give her.  She does get solid food in the afternoon, so I suspected that her loss in interest for milk may be related to the switch to solids.  Moreover, she seems to be having an unfavorable reaction to mashed beans.  So this may be adding to her dislike for milk.

Haruka does seem to go through these phases pretty quickly, so I guess the only thing we can really do is to wait for this phase to pass, and hope that she regains her interest in milk.  She did drink a whole bottle of baby formula yesterday evening, so  and end may be near.

Haru and her new cup watching Baby Einstein on TV.

Haru’s new electric high chair

New headband

 

 

 

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