Standing Tall

In the last couple of weeks, Haruka has grown noticebly taller.  At first I thought it was just my imagination, until she started to be able to reach the top of the dining room table.  Also, until just recently, she was able to stand up with no problems underneath the dining room table, but now she often hits her head.  She’s growing so fast that forgets and she’ll hit her head if she stands up straight.

Haru in the kitchen…again

Always getting in the way

Getting into her diaper drawer and making a mess

chewing on a hanger

A Self Observance

I wasn’t sure whether to write this in my blog or Haru’s blog.  This is more about me, but it does pertain to Haru so it might be somewhat more appropriate to write it here.  It’s basically an observance I made about myself, and how much my attitude has changed towards certain things, especially in the last several months.

I remember back when I was in college, I had this friend named Lisa.  We had a lot of things in common, so much so, that our personalities were almost identical.  One thing we especially had in common was that we both despised small kids.  I remember one time we were at the airport and we saw this little boy about 4 or 5 years old, laying on the floor flat on his back, kicking and screaming while others carefully steered their bags and suitcases around him trying avoid stepping on him , while he was being an absolute public nussance.  At that moment, and almost in perfect syncronization, we both mumbled, what a spoiled brat!

At that point, if someone where to walk up to us and tell us that in several years time, Lisa would go on to half a healthy baby boy, and I would have a healthy baby girl, we would have thought that that person was insane.  The mere thought of either of us being with child was a concept that was completely unfathomable.

I’ve kept in touch with Lisa over the years.  I remember when she first had her son some years back,  I had asked her if her attitude changed towards children.  She told me that she’s still the same, and that she still disliked kids, but she loves her son.  At the time, I didn’t understand it.  To me, kids are kids.  Whether they’re your own or someone elses, it doesn’t change the fact that they are annoying, loud, and obnoxious, and not worth my time or effort.

Since then, and until recently my attitude towards children had remained unchanged.  Having the company of my two dogs gave me more pleasure than any little kid would.  They’re smart, give unconditional love, they don’t cry or throw tantrums when they can’t get with they want.  A far better companion that any little brat could ever give.  Then Haru happened and everything changed.

In all honesty, I still can’t say that I like kids.  I still don’t like them and prefer to be in place without children around, but I have grown a lot more tolerant of them.  Before, I couldn’t stand to be seated next to any small kids on a bus or train.  I would usually change seats if that happened.  But now they don’t bother me as much.  As a matter of fact being around them now, allows me to imagine what Haru would be like in a few years, and I often find that a pleasurable experience.

Despite the hard times we had to go through with Haru, having her around has been no short of greatness.  I often look back at the old pictures, and see how much she’s progressed in such a short time and  it never ceases to amaze me.  On top of that, I have been driven to reread all of the children’s books (both simple and complex) that I read when I was a child, so that I can understand them and prepare for when Haru starts to read them.  I know it won’t be for several years until she does start reading, but I’m also enjoying the process as well.

At the Bon Odori festival last night

Haru demostrating her walking skills

Haru’s First Day of Endurance

It was a 3-day weekend in Japan to celebrate national marine day.  On this day, people usually just go to the beach.  I personally don’t like beaches in Japan, because they are very polluted and overcrowded.  Instead, we decided to spent the day up at Twin Ring Motegi Motor Speedway, to watch my cousin compete in a 12 hour endurance race.

Basically, its a 12 hour car race around a 4.8km road course.  My cousin drove for two of the twelve hours in a car that was provided by the speed shop he takes his car to.  Its takes about 3 hours to get to Motegi from Yokohama, so thought it would be a good opportunity take Haru for her first long drive.

Surprisingly, Haru did well on her first long drive.  She slept for majority of the trip up to Motegi, and woke up just before we arrived.  She would have probably slept through the whole entire drive, but hunger gave her a rude awaking.

After replenishing her thirst and her appetite, we all headed to the paddock area where my cousin, his wife and Ren (one of his two son’s were.)  We were a bit concerned that maybe the loud noise from all of the race cars buzzing by my disturb her, but it didn’t seem to phase her in the slightest.  She even managed to fall asleep after while.

When it came time for my cousin to make his second run, we all headed up to the observation deck to watch the race.  Haru seemed to enjoy watching the cars buzz by.   Hopefully she come to watch when we race our car next year.

Haru preparing for her first long distance endurance trip.

Enjoying the speed of the baby buggy

On the top of the observation deck watching the race (a bit sleepy??)

another shot

Roi and Ren (Haru’s second cousins) take comfort in the paddock area underneath the tent.

Watching Formula1 on TV when we got home

The car that my cousin raced on Sunday

More on Children’s Books

Lately, I have been re-reading books that I had read when I was in grade school.  I finished two of my all time favorites, Tales of the Fourth Grade Nothing and its sequel Superfudge (both by Judy Blume), a few weeks ago.  I didn’t think I would enjoy them as much as I did when I was a kid, but on the contrary, I found them to be just as entertaining and funny.  And just yesterday, I finished A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.  I’m not sure what compelled me to buy this book, because all I could remember about it was how confusing and difficult it was to read, back when I was in the fifth grade.  I guess my fascination with stories about time travel (although this story has little to do with time travel) inclined me into buying it when I was browsing through the site.

But having read through the story again, I am definately glad that I did get it, because it is truly a wonderful story.  The only thing that I didn’t like about it was some of the religious overtones, but it didn’t engulf the story, nor did it preach to you, so it was easy to just read around some of it.  And reading this as an adult, I can see why it was one of those books that didn’t really register too well with me as a kid.  It’s truly complicated, even for an adult with stuff like Einstein’s theory of relativity, theories about the fourth and fifth dimensions, speculations about the space and time continuum, and of course trying to visualize what a tesseract is, I probably wouldn’t consider it a children’s book,  but more a book for young adults. I could see however, parents reading this book to their children and explaining the difficult parts to them, which I hopefully plan to do with Haru someday.

Currently, I am reading another book that I vaguely remember reading as an assignment for school.  Its called Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.  The strange thing is that I can recall very specific details with the book, like a diary entry where the main character, Charlie Gordon excessively used commas in his writings.  I guess I remember that part so well, because I use to do the same, and sometimes still do.  However, I can’t remember too much more about it other than a laborotory mouse dies at the end (which had a significant impact on the main character).

I guess I’m reading all of these childeren’s books in the hopes that in the future I can read them to Haru, and she’ll become interested in reading them on her own.  As I kid, I wasn’t much of a reader, other than manga’s from Japan, and the books that I was required to read at school.  I somewhat regret that now, because there are so many thing you can get from reading, even from a children’s book like the ones I’m reading.   So nowadays whenever possible I try to find a really good story regardless of it simplicity or complexity, and just read.  And the nice thing about living in this day and era is that whatever i don’t understand, I can find on the web.  And someday, I hope to write my own book.  I’ve attempted this several times since I was ten years old with no real great success.  But hopefully now I have the knowledge and skills to at least successfully complete one really good entertaining story, so that I can tell it to Haru when she is older, and have the pride of saying that I wrote it.

Haru in the kitchen with her mom.

Mischievous Haru

Mischievous (mis·chie·vous) causing annoyance, harm, or trouble.

Lately, Haru has been quite mischievous. When she is in full mischievous mode, we cannot take our eyes off of her even for a second. At times, we’ve found her chewing on live extension cords, playing with and putting soil from plants in her mouth, chewing on random pieces of paper or other objects, changing TV channels using the remote control with her mouth, intentionally knocking things off of tables to see how we’d react, etc, etc. The list goes on forever.

The annoying part is that I think that Haru is fully aware that what she’s doing is something that we disapprove of, and does it to seek attention. For example, Haru occasionally plops her feet up on the dining room table while sitting on her high chair. I’ve scolded her many times not to put her feet on the table.

Last night, when she finished her dinner, I guess she got bored and she started ooohing and aaahhhing to get our attention, but we just continued eating our dinner. She then plopped her feet up on the table. After I scolded her, she put her foot down and then put her other foot on the table and smiled at me as if she wanted me to scold her again . It was clearly a ploy for attention.

But the one mischievous thing that Haru likes to do the most is playing with things that are clearly not toys. Her favorite toy is an empty plastic wet tissue box.  As a matter of fact, she rarely plays with any of her toys; she’s more facinated with plain ordinary room objects, so I’d occassionally just give empty plastic bottles which keeps her entertained for a few minutes.

On a different note, Haru went for her 7 month physical exam yesterday.  Everything seems to be in check.  The doctor suggested that Haru may be slightly underweight, but nothing to be too concerned about.  I think that since Haru is so much more active than other babies her age, she probably burns more calories than they do.  I suggested to my wife tha she should include a snack time in Haru’s daily diet, to bring her calorie count up a bit.  Haru likes her little baby cookies and will happily munch them down with no problems, so that may be a good midday snack for her.

The doctor also noted that Haru is very active for age group and she will probably start walking before she’s 10 months old.  Also, at this pace, by the time she’s a 1 year old, she’ll probably be as active as a 1 and half year old.

Haru eating her baby cookies

after she finished her cookie

getting into the dogs’ water dish

Miss Potato Head Hits the Deck

As written in my previous blogs, Haru loves to stand up.  This has always been the case, every since she was 2 months old.  Back then, I would have to hold her up, but nowadays she’s been doing it on her own, and with great ease.  She’s even perfected moving around the room swinging from furniture to furniture, while alternating hands like a little monkey on a vine.  Occassionally she’d have some seemingly devistating falls, but she rarely let’s that discourage her, and she’d often be right back on her feet within minutes repeating the same daring stunt that sent her barreling to the floor earlier.

Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for another day at the office, I heard a loud boom come from the bedroom upstairs, as if someone had dropped a 20 pound sack of potatoes on the floor.  Seconds later, the boom was followed by a lot of crying -loud ear piercing crying.  Already knowing what had happened, I rushed up the stairs at light speed and busted into the bedroom to discover my wife holding a very hysterical Haru.  My notions were confirmed.  The loud boom that I heard was Haru, our 20 pound Miss Potato Head, hitting the floor.

Every since Haru learned to stand up in her crib, I had suspected that it’d be only a matter of time before she manages to crawl over the railing and fall.  So this incident didn’t come as a real shock to me.  Haru’s crib is a three stage crib, which can be adjusted to set the sleep height lower to the floor, and rails higher as the baby gets older.  Her crib was still set at new born level which is places the sleep height at about three feet from the floor.  This makes it easy to place Haru in her crib when she’s asleep.

When baby’s learn to stand, we’re suppose to adjust the crib height accordingly.  But since we’ve all been out of town for the past 2 weekends, it was hard to find time to take the whole crib apart and set at the right height.  The job takes about 30 to 45 minutes, if your in an air conditioned room, have all of the essential tools available to you, and knowing what your doing sure helps too. In my case, it took  about an hour.  The crib height is set at level two now which is about 6 inches lower than before.  This makes the railing come just above Haru’s shoulders, so unless she actually scales it, it would be impossible to crawl out again (crosses fingers).  And if by chance she does manage to escape, the fall won’t be as bad.

There is one last setting, if all else fails, and that’s the toddler height.  Basically, the sleep heigh is 2 inches off of the ground and rails would be about 4 inches above Haru’s head -almost like a play pen.  Unfortunately, at such a low height, it’d make it really hard to put Haru to sleep without dropping her in (which would undoubtedly wake her).  I guess the premise is that a toddler would be placed in the crib while awake and she would put herself to sleep.  We can only hope and dream that this is possible with Haru, but I have a feeling that the crib will be a t level two for a while.

By the way, Haru was not injured in her fall.  Just a bit shaken, and she still insists on standing up in her crib. What guts!

Peaking around the corner

more of the same

moving from furniture to furniture

Introducing: O-Mame-chan

Last Saturday, we spent the day at my grandmother’s house.  The weather was pretty hot so we though it be a good opportunity to take the dogs out and get out of the house for a change.

Haru woke up pretty early and in somewhat of a bad mood.  Normally, she’d wake up at around 6am and play around in her crib for a while until she got bored.  Then she’d yell for one of use to pick her up and take her down to the living room.  But this time she woke up a bit earlier than usual, and demanded that she be taken out of her crib immediately. 

Both of us being tired and sleepy, our reponse time was admittedly pretty slow, which only served to escalate Haru’s impatience.  I eventually got up and tended to her.  But instead of taking her downstairs to the living room, I placed her on our bed in the hopes that maybe she’d fall asleep and leave us alone.  No chance!  Instead she crawled all over the bed, grabbing onto anything (or in many cases anyone) that would help her stand up and jump on the bed.  I eventually got annoyed by the early morning rampage and sidelined her play time by putting her onher back, which didn’t make her too happy, and sent her into full fledge tantrum mode.  It soon became clear to me that she wasn’t going to let me sleep in on my longly awaited Saturday morning.

After our rude awakening, we all eventually got out of bed and Haru was fed tended to.  Before the weather got too hot, I trimmed the branches on the trees in the front yard, because they were dropping little rasberry-like fruits all over the street in front of the  house as well as the neighbor’s driveway.  After the quick yard work and Haru’s breakfast, we decided to pack up the dogs and head to my grandmother’s house in Tokyo. 

The ride  was uneventful.  We strapped Haru into her red Recaro baby seat, and she fell asleep a few minutes into the trip, so it made for a nice peaceful drive.  When we arrived, we let the dogs do their thing outside, and then headed inside.

Unlike the previous week, Haru seemed to be a bit more relaxed and  confortable with the surroundings.  She didn’t cry as much when someone she didn’t know held her.  She even managed to get in a nice long one hour nap.

For most of the afternoon, Haru seemed to be into everything.  Along with constantly wanting to stand up and cruise around, she also wanted to touch everything.  And of course, whatever babies touch has to tasted too, so she’d also put things in her mouth as well.  He activeness earned her a new nickname amongst my relatives.  They call her O-Mame-chan in reference to how active she is.  I wasn’t too sure what this meant; all I know is that the word mame means beans.  There’s even a product called Fujikko no Omamesan which is processed beans.  So my wife and I assumed that it meant that since Haru is always into something or on the move, that she’s like scattering beans.

Later that evening, we all went out for dinner.  Unfortunately, Haru still doesn’t do too well at restaurants.  I think that the noise and the people are still a bit over stimulating for her.  But luckily, she was so overwhelmed that I managed to get her to sleep pretty quickly.


Strapped in ready to go.

Haruka, her grandmother, great aunt, and second cousin, Karin

Haru being held by her grandmother

Look Ma No Hands!!

Haruka’s efforts in learning to stand has progressed quick nicely. It was only a couple weeks ago when I posted the video of her standing up in her crib on her own for the first time, and now she’s already moving around the living room clinging from furniture to furniture. But lately, Haru’s over confidence has gotten the best of her, because she often attemps stand up without using her hands. On a couple of occasions, I had to make a diving catch to stop her from doing a timber fall flat onto her face. But when she does manage fall, she’ll cry for several seconds, and then recover pretty quickly. I think the key is not to look at her or give her too much attention when she cries from falling or otherwise she’ll milk every last sympathetic bone in your body, and beg for more attention.

Lately, coming home from work has really been rewarding. It seems as if no matter what mood I’m in, Haru is always able cheer me up. When I walk into the living room, she always give me a big smile and crawls up towards me. Its quite a nice change from her colicky days, when I would come home to her blood curdling crying.

 Admittedly, I’ve also notice a change in myself as well. Up until recently, my come home routine would be to change out of my work clothes, sit on the sofa and read my email or the news on my laptop. But lately, my newly bought laptop would take a backseat to Haru, and I would lye on the living room floor and play with her until her bath time.   That in itself may sound monotonous and boring, but its a different experience everyday.  And Haru never ceases to amaze me with the things she learns everyday.  Just last night, Haru showed me she could do a high five, which was pretty cute.  i look forward to the day when she is able to talk so that she can tell me how her day was.


Let get physical!

A Memorable Memorial

Last Sunday, we all visted Soujiji Buddhist Temple to attend my grandfather’s houji (a Buddhist memorial service image is from a typical houji, not ours) to commemorate the 17th year since his passing. At first we were a bit worried as to how Haruka would react to the ceremony, as it could be daunting, even to adults who have never attended a Buddhist ceremony. In a nut shell, it consists of a Buddhist high priest dressed in a very eloborate costume (which could look frightening to some children), who casts a very long and monotoned incantation, while the monks chant along and do a ceremonial dance. There’s also a lot of drumming of large drums and gongs which also be a bit daunting to some people.

I was a bit worried that the whole service would be a bit overwhelming to Haru, but in contrast, she seemed to enjoy the whole thing. I guess the elaborate costumes, and colorful red and gold decore of the temple itself kept her interests. At times I tried to set her on the floor (because she was getting a bit too heavy to carry), but then she would whine because she wanted to see what was going on. And the drumming and gongs seemed to interested her as well. It was funny too watch sometimes because she would bob her head backand forth in time with the drums, as if she were head-banging.

Afterwards, we all had a Japanese course lunch at restaurant near the temple. All of the kids were there except for Ren, who was out sick with his mom. Ren’s brother Shiyu, who looks like a little pro wrestler, definately stole the show. The way he eats his food is definately entertainment at its finest. He literally shovels his food into his mouth with both hands as if he were a starving child.

Karin, Haru’s other second cousin kept busy demonstrating her cuteness with the others, while Roi hung out with his mother and father and talked about possibly going to Atlanta this summer with his aunt Kanan to investigate some English language schools. Seems like I’ve heard this song before, but that’s a different story.

My wife and I spent the whole time taking turns watching Haru, as all she seem to want to do is practice her new standing skills, which she has gotten quite good at. On occasions, she’d get over confident and try to stand up without grabbing onto anything. In most cases, this leads to her falling on her face, which then leads to her crying until someone picks her up and conforts her.

Unfortunately Haruka is going through a phase of being a bit shy around strangers, and cries when she is picked up by someone she in not familar with. Therefore, she seems to have a hard time adjusting to my mother. This was the same with my wife’s father as well, but eventually she got use to him, so I think its just a matter of time. Strangely enough, Haru took to Kanan (who would be Haru’s first cousin once removed -we were tring to figure this out all day) really well, and didn’t cry while she was being held by her. My wife suspects that Haru has a hard time with people who wear glasses, since neither my wife nor I wear glasses, and my mom does.

It’s always nce to see relatives; I just wish it could happen more often and not just during new years or at my grandfather’s houji’s. Perhaps, as out kids get a bit older, we can all meet more often.

Pictures from Sunday’s events:

Playing with the utensil tray

Playing with her new laughing toy bear “Emi”, which she got from her grandmother.

Karin -Haru’s second cousin once removed, Roi and his parents in the background

Haru’s other second cousin, and the future heavy weight champion, Shiyu (yes he just turned 2 years old).