Haruka’s growing so fast it’s almost impossible to keep up with her achievements and milestones these days.  It seems as if it’s a daily occurrence these days. But I was curious to see if she was on par with the average 3 year old, so I decided to look it up on the web and this is what I found: (my responses are in bold print)

  • The 3-year-old will ask more questions than a district attorney. Nothing is sacred and some questions will throw you for a loop!  Definitely on par here.  Evey other question out of her mouth is what’s this? or what does this do?
  • Continue reading books to your child. Admittedly, I need to do this more often.
  • Arrange times for safe running and exploring outdoors. Every minute of the day is running and exploring time for Haru
  • Playmates are important. Allow your child to experience interaction with peers. Three-year-olds are usually quite social and enjoy being with other 3-year-olds. This can be accomplished in a preschool, play group or just having another child over for a few hours.  Plenty of friends to play with.
  • It is normal for children this age to have imaginary friends. Parents can sometimes use the youngster’s imaginary “playmate” to their advantage (like getting your 3-year-old to do something you want them to do.) Michael Jackson and Harry Potter are her imaginary friends.
  • Limit television viewing. Do not use the TV as a baby sitter or as a substitute for interaction with your child. Watch children’s programs with your child when possible.  Guilty here.
  • Do not worry if the child becomes curious about body parts. This is normal at this age. Always use the correct terms for genitals.  Not so much here.
  • Children this age begin to recognize gender differences and will correctly say “I am a girl” or “I am a boy.”  No issues here
  • Discipline should be firm and consistent, but loving and understanding. Praise your child for his or her good behavior and accomplishments. No issues here
  • Three-year-olds like to do things for themselves. Not Haru, always wants mommy to play with her
  • The 3-year-old does not understand “tongue-in-cheek” comments and can not always tell when a parent is joking. For example, never threaten to leave a child at the store when he or she misbehaves.  Amazingly, Haru does understand when we’re joking sometimes, and she’ll even do it herself.
  • Your child may continue to use a security object (such as a blanket, favorite stuffed toy, etc.). This is normal and the youngster will give up the item when he or she is ready.  A lot of toys in our bed
  • Keep family outings short and simple. Children have a short attention span at this age and lengthy activities will cause them to become irritable and tired.  Please tell my wife about this!


  • Encourage your 3-year-old to make choices whenever possible, but the choices should be limited to those you can live with (“red shirt or green shirt.”) Never ask a toddler an open question (“Do you want to take a bath”) unless you are willing to accept the answer. Of course
  • Use the two “I’s” of discipline (ignore or isolate) rather than the two “S’s” (shouting or spanking). When disciplining, try to separate the child and his or her behavior (“I love you, but I do not like it when you touch the VCR.”).  Hmmm, don’t know if this will work with Haru.
  • Provide alternatives. “No, you cannot play with the telephone, but you can play with these blocks.”  This sometimes works
  • Avoid power struggles. No one wins! The 3-year-old still uses temper tantrums as a weapon. Respond to this behavior with the two I’s of discipline – ignore or isolate (time out!).  Definitely does not work with Haru.
  • Discipline should be consistent. Do not make threats that you can not carry out. If you say you are going to do something, do it!  Please tell my wife this.


* Can name pictures in a book.  In two languages too!
* Names at least one color. can name many colors in two languages
* Knows his or her own name, age and sex. yup, no problems here
* Begins to use pronouns.  Yup
* Able to put on his or her own shirt, but will need help with shoes and buttons.  sometimes, she still needs some practice
* May be able to ride a tricycle. never tried
* Can jump in place and stand briefly on one foot. Yes, Haru is very athletic
* Can (unfortunately!) open doors.  And lock them too
* More than 50 percent of the child’s speech is intelligible. There may be temporary episodes of stuttering during this time.  She’s getting better.
* Understands such words as “cold,” “tired,” “hungry.” Comprehends the meaning of “on or under”, and “bigger or smaller.”   Yup, and in two languages

Oral Health

  • Supervise brushing twice a day with a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Twice a day
  • Take your 3-year-old to the dentist, if you have not already done so. Done it, no issues
  • Limit juice and sweets. Please tell my wife this
  • Continue giving a fluoride supplement if your drinking water is not fluoridated. Some dentists recommend fluoride be continued through age 8; others recommend continuing through age 12 or 16. Check with your pediatrician and dentist. not sure if fluoride is in the water in Japan, need to look that up
  • Stop pacifier use WOW really?  at 3 years old??  Luckily Haru never used a pacifier.  I was always against them.


  • Appetite is perhaps a shade better than it was a few months ago, but it is still not what most parents (or grandparents) think it should be. “My child will not eat,” is a familiar complaint heard at the three year checkup. Remember, feeding problems may arise if parents make their child eat more than the child needs to, or shows too much concern in what the youngster eats.  Haru is ALWAYS hungry, but I think my wife does a good job with controlling when she eats.
  • The 3-year-old should pretty much be able to feed himself or herself. Most of the time
  • During meal time, the 3-year-old is sometimes very demanding of parent’s attention and may also dawdle! Definitely
  • Avoid nuts, hard candy, uncut grapes, hot dogs or raw vegetables. Control sweets and avoid junk food. Impossible!
  • Eat dinner together as a family whenever possible.  Always
  • Begin to teach proper table manners and encourage conversation during family meals. Most of the times
  • Turn the TV off during meals.  We really should


  • An afternoon nap is usually still needed by the 3-year-old.  Please tell this to my wife!
  • Fears of the dark, thunder, lightning, etc. are quite common at this age.  Afraid of the dark? yes sometimes. Thunder and lighting? not so much
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime and bedtime routine. Using a night light, security blanket or toy are all ways to help lessen nighttime fears. Please tell this to my wife!
  • Read to your child when possible before “lights out.”  I need to do this more
  • Nightmares can wake a child up from sleep. The nightmares can be triggered by changes or stress. Reassure your child and put him or her back to bed. yes, happens a lot, especially of she hasn’t slept much

Toilet Training

  • Many 3-year-olds are trained during the day but still do not stay dry at night. Others are completely trained. Remember, the age a child uses the bathroom by himself or herself varies and it is based only on a child’s readiness to be trained and the positive attitude of the parents.  She’s getting better, but sometimes forgets.
  • Avoid putting too many demands on the child or shaming him about wearing diapers. Instead, let your child no how proud and happy you are about any potty successes.  Not wearing diapers anymore, but definitely need to praise her more for the successes.


  • Your 3-year-old may continue to experience respiratory infections, such as colds, ear infections and sinus infections. These frequent ailments often become frustrating for parents. Unfortunately, most illnesses are unavoidable, especially if your child is in preschool or has older siblings who bring the colds home from school.  So relieved to know this.  Haru always seems to have a cold.  Every time she recovers form one cold it would only a matter of days before she catches another one…really annoying!
  • When your child is ill, the pediatrician will determine whether antibiotics are needed. Remember, most illnesses at this age are viral, which means antibiotics will not shorten the course of the illness Hmm, maybe we should try this.

So development-wise, I think Haru is pretty much on track.  As her physical exam a few weeks ago, the doctors said that her growth is well within the average, although there was a comment that her head was a tad smaller than average.  I contend that most Japanese children’s heads are proportionally too big for their bodies.

As for me, I think there are some improvements that need to be made on my part.  I will definitely start reading more books to her, before she goes to bed.  Maybe this will encourage her to go to sleep.

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Not a good week for electronics

This week was not a good week for electronic equipment in our household.  It all started with our digital camera.  The LCD display decided it didn’t want to work anymore.  We were still able to take pictures with it -that’s is until a couple of days later when it decided to give out completely.  So we’re in the process of getting another camera, but it’s not as easy as you may think.  You see…we had our beloved Canon Ixy for nearly four years now.  Almost every picture and video in this blog was taken with our Canon, so it had some sentimental value for me.  I also knew how to take fairly good pictures with it so it’ll be difficult to replace.

A few days later, the hard drive in my blog server died..AGAIN!!!  This is the third hard drive this year!  I figured that it’s got something to do with the heat.  It’s been hot all summer, and heat is never good for any machinery. Today, we went to the local computer shop and picked up another hard drive, and a case with a cooling fan. Luckily, I had backed up everything previously (lessons learned from the last crash), and was able to get everything back within an hour.

We also had some difficulties with our home router, but a simple reboot cured that.

In addition to the new hard drive for my blog server, we also bought a new bicycle, but this isn’t just any bicycle, this is an electrical motor assisted bicycle.  It’s mainly for my wife, as I will probably never ride it, but I did take a few spins around the block with it, and it felt weird when the motor kicked in.

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Getting ready for 7-5-3

In Japan there is an old tradition that originated back to the Heian Era called Shichi-Go-San, which literally means “seven, five, and three”  in English.  Basically, Shichi-Go-San is a celebration of the rite to passage for girls who are 3 and 7 years old, and for boys who are 5 years old.  Since Haru will be turning three in November , she will participating in the tradition this year.

So what we do do during this tradition?  Apparently, nothing too spectacular.   The children usually get dressed up in a kimono, and get their pictures taken.  Some families may even have a lavish dinner at home or at a restaurant, while the child wears the kimono.  We’ll probably just wind up going over to my grandmother’s house to show off Haru in her kimono, have dinner and call it a day.  Of course, we’ll also have pictures taken professionally to mark the occasion.

So today, we went to the local department store to try on some kimonos.  In the process, we quickly realized that Haru doesn’t look too good in pink…or perhaps the pink kimono she tried on wasn’t very good.  At any rate, we chose the red one, which she’ll be wearing in November whens he celebrates her Shichi-Go-San.

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Rocky: A True life Toy Story

Rocky is a little stuffed raccoon that my father gave me when I was a baby.  It’s probably the very first toy I’ve ever owned.  I’m not sure why I named it Rocky.  Perhaps I named it after Rocky the Flying Squirrel from the The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons (because he kind of resembles the squirrel), which were my favorite as a kid.  With my parent’s divorce and moving around a lot from city to city, Rocky was one of the very few constants in my life.  Every time we moved to a new town, I had to get use to a new school, a new house, and  make new friends all over again.  That was always very difficult for me, but no matter where we lived Rocky was there.  Rocky provided what little stability I had when I was kid.  He was my first and sometimes my only friend, and by far  my favorite toy of all time.  Still having it to this day is a testament to that.

I remember one time when I was about 5 years old I lost Rocky, and I cried for literally days.  I also remember that a little boy had a stuffed raccoon that looked identical to Rocky and I accused him of stealing him from me and took it back away from him.  But I was so in touch with Rocky that I soon figured out that that stuffed raccoon wasn’t Rocky.  It’s snout was was yellow and it was a bit more worn than Rocky was, so I gave it back.  I don’t remember exactly how I got I Rocky back after that; I think my mom eventually found him somewhere, but I remember how much I missed him and I never let him go after that.

A few years later, we got a little pet toy poodle that I named Toto (yeah, after the little Yorkie in the Wizard of Oz).  Rocky quickly became a second stringer to Toto, after all Toto was a real living dog.  As a matter of fact, Rocky became Toto’s chew toy.  I always took Rocky away from Toto if I saw him chewing on it and trying to destroy it.  But some times I would leave Rocky on my bed when I would go off to school, and Toto would grab him and try to tear him to bits.  Unfortunately, one day Toto succeeded.  Toto tore Rocky’s head eyes and nose off, and his felt hands and feet were chewed off.  Needless to say, I was devastated.  My mother tried her best to repair Rocky.  His head was sewn back on, and his nose was replaced with a small shirt button, but one of his eyes was never found.  After that I kept Rocky as far out of Toto’s reach as possible.

As a teenager,  I had Rocky on a shelf on in my bedroom.  Of course, I didn’t sleep with Rocky at my side like I did when I was a kid, but I did take it down from the shelf from time to time just to look at his tattered and torn face and body, especially on days when I was sad and depressed.  He reminded my of how much we been through together, and that there is no problem that can’t be solved, or trouble I can’t recover from.

I moved into my university’s dorms during my first year of college, so of course I couldn’t take Rocky with me (for fear of ridicule, but more for fear that I may lose him or that Rocky may be a victim of a college prank).  As with my other belongings, I packed Rocky away in a box and stored him away in the attic in my mother’s house.  Over the years, I had completely forgotten about Rocky and his whereabouts.  My mother had since, moved to Atlanta so I didn’t think that she would take Rocky with her…but she did.

A few nights ago, my mom surprised me with bringing Rocky to Japan.  This is perhaps Rocky’s first trip to Japan, and it felt strange to see him here.   He still had his tattered torn  face and shirt button nose, but it made be so happy to see my oldest and best childhood friend again.  He looked very fragile as if his head might fall off or something, and he looks a bit skinnier (undoubtedly from losing some stuffing from holes in between my mom’s  hand stitching on his neck.)  The fur was no longer soft and supple, but more hard and stiff.

I decided to give Rocky to Haruka, because she took to him immediately.  Strangely enough, she keeps calling him kitsune, which means “fox” in Japanese, so I corrected her and told her that his name is Rocky and that Rocky is a raccoon.   She was able to figure it out because she pointed to a picture of a raccoon on TV and said “racoon,  like Rocky”, but sometimes she still refers to him as kitsune.

I still have a lot of plenty of sentimental attachment to this toy which now seemed be  an old rag.  I want Haruka to enjoy him as much as I did when I was a kid.  But in the condition that Rocky is in, I don’t think he will survive another childhood.  I went online and found some stuffed animal repair shops on the web.  Apparently, some of these shops can completely refurbish stuffed animals by unstuffing it, washing the fabric, replacing missing eyes and noses, replacing or restoring any missing material, and then restuffing him.  I thought about having Rocky refurbished, but then I got to thinking.  Rocky hasn’t never been washed or cleaned before.  To me, all of my childhood memories and my tears from all of times I cried holding Rocky is on the fabric that makes Rocky.  To me, that is what makes Rocky …Rocky.  And if he is refurbished or washed, then Rocky will no longer be Rocky, but rather just another stuffed animal in Haruka’s collection.

Then it happened.  The other day, my wife took Haruka grocery shopping and Haruka wanted to take Rocky with her.  I told  Haru to leave Rocky home because Rocky is old and not feeling too well.   But she said she would take care of kitsune.  So I decided to trust her.

My wife, Haruka, and Rocky spent two hours at the grocery store while I ran my own errands.  The hole time I imagined Rocky’s head being torn off or losing his other eye.   Maybe I shouldn’t have let her take Rocky!  Or Maybe I should have at least told her to leave Rocky in the car!

After running my errands, I returned to store to pick up my wife and Haruka from the store, hoping that Rocky was still in one piece, or at least in repairable condition.  After a few minutes of waiting in the parking lot my wife and Haruka emerged from the store.  I glanced over at Haruka and she had a fully in tact Rocky in her hands.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

On the ride home, my wife told me about the “situation” they had with Rocky.  Apparently, Haruka stopped off in the toy section to play with some toys.  She  then told my wife that she needed to use the restroom so my wife took Haruka to the restroom.  After she finished her business, she told my wife “kitsune is gone!” The two of them had scrambled frantically looking all over the store looking for Rocky.  Eventually, they found him right where Haruka left him -in the toy section.  Rocky was way too dirty and damaged to be mistaken for a new toy, so someone must have figured out that the someone left him, and propped him up so that Haruka could easily find him.

This whole situation  got me to think that Rocky is no longer my toy, and that although I have a deep sentimental attachment to him, I need to let go and give Haruka a chance to enjoy him.  Perhaps eventually when she get older, she’ll appreciate how precious Rocky was to me and take good care of him.  But in order for her to have a childhood with Rocky without him falling to pieces on her, he’ll need to be fixed properly.  So when Haruka goes off to the States this weekend, I am going to send Rocky off to get repaired.

Haru and Rocky

Haru and Rocky

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Sit n’ Spin


I haven’t written in a while, and there are very good reasons for this.   First reason is that my wife took Haru to Yamaguchi to visit her grandparents and her cousins for a week, so I didn’t really have anyting to write about or any pictures to post. 

 The second reason is because it was golden week (a series of national holidays) in Japan and I was pretty busy doing some home improvement work like rebuilding our wooden deck, and cleaning out the garage.

But the main reason for not writing is… well …I guess it just plain laziness I suppose. But now that almost everything is squared away, and I’ve regained my energy and motivation, and so I’ve decided to write again.

In the last few weeks,  nothing too much has changed. Haru is finally starting to learn some English words. She knows how to say nose, mouth, eyes, and feet, along with the words she already knew how to say like bye bye, and banana.  I have been trying to make it a point to make her learn at least one new English word a week.  And although her pronunciation is not quite perfect, it is a lot better than most Japanese adults that I know. I think that if she keeps at it, she’ll become a pretty proficient English speaker.

My mother’s in town again, and as usual she came with a lot of clothes and gifts for Haru. One toy that my mother brought was a Sit n’ Spin, an interactive toy reminiscent of the Tea Cup ride at Disneyland.  However, from the quality of it, they seemed to have digressed from the quality of the original one that they sold in the 70’s. I remember having one myself when I was little.

The original was made of  thicker and sturdier plastic, and was able to support two small children, whereas the new one is a bit flimsy and barely able to support one 20 pound 17 month old, let alone two kids.

I remember that I used to be able spin around in my Sit n’ Spin so fast, that it used to make be dizzy and make me feel like I want vomit afterwards. On the new one, getting Haru to spin around even once seems to be quite a chore, even with me helping her. As a matter of fact Haru seemed to figure out that she could spin herself around a lot faster if she stood on it rather than sit on it.  It seems that the flimsy toy, now made out of Saran Wrap is just not up for the job, which is quite a disappointment, because I remember have so much fun on it.    

It also seems that they’ve come out with a musical version of the Sit n’ Spin that lights up and makes music.  I am so glad my mother didn’t bring one of those.  We have way more than enough toys that make an awful racket, we sure didn’t need another.                                                         

the old skool version of the Sit n’ Spins:

The old 1970’s version of the Sit n’ Spin


the 1980’s ‘Care Bears’ version

And the new version

the new and ‘improved’ version
And it seems that I’m not the only one who thinks that the new Sit n Spin is cheaply made and just plain crap.  Here is video review from a lady who shares the same exact opinion that I do about the new version:


In my opinion, there are some thing that were done right the first time and shouldn’t be made “better”.  Rather than adding all of the musical gizmos and noise making games to an already great toy, they should have concentrated that production cost in maintaining the sturdiness and ease of use of the older version.  But of course, I am an adult now so who am I know what kids nowadays like.  I just know that the older version was so much better and so much more fun and its a shame that my daughter might not know how much fun they really were way back when.

Haruka on her plastic tricycle

sometimes toys are overrated, and a roll on a nice soft comforter can be just as fun.

Crawling off of her ‘no frills’ version of the Sit n’ Spin.

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Pre- Pre-School


For the last several weeks,  my wife has been having some issues with Haru’s bad behavior.  Haruka has picked up a bad habit of hitting and biting.  And no amount of scolding from my wife helped matters much.  As a matter of fact, Haru seemed to mock her by either screaming back or just plain ignoring her.

Last night Haru decided that she wanted to bite me.  Even though her teeth are still baby teeth, they do pack a lot of power to point where it is quite painful.  So when she did bite me, I wasn’t going to have any of it and scolded her for it.  However, her reaction to my scolding was quite rude.  It was as if I did scold her at all.  She simply just turned away from me and starting watching TV.  Again, I wasn’t having any of it.  I wanted to be certain that she understood that biting and hiting were wrong and that she doesn’t do it again.  So, I took her and pointed her towards me until she was looking at me again.   This wasn’t easy and it took a few tries because she’d rather be watching what was on TV rather than listening to me scold her (which was understandable of course).

Eventually, I got her look at me and maintain eye contact.  I firmly scolded and made it absolutely clear that I wasn’t happy about her biting me.  Unlike my wife,  I didn’t use baby language to explain my point, but rather firm eye contact, and I elevated my voice a bit (not yelling though).  I could tell she was getting the point (or at least she new I was upset), because her she got very quiet as opposed to rambling back at me like she does with my wife (I guess this is her version of talking back), and she maitained eye contact.  She did try to walk away once, only to be greeted by me grabbing her and setting her down in front of me again.

She started to pout and looked as if she wanted to cry, but was desperately trying to hold it in.  This is the first time I’ve ever seen her do that. She’d usually just cry or throw a tantrum when she’s unhappy, but this time she looked as if she really didn’t want to cry.   So at this point, I knew that she was sorry for what she had done.   Hopefully she won’t forget this lesson.

Today, Haru starts her pre pre-school.  It’s more like daycare but only with the parent present.  Its basically just a class to  give her a chance to get out of the house, interact with other children her age, and do some activities.  It’s only once  a week, but it should be good for starters.


Haruka posing in front of the mirror

Haruka posing in front of the mirror

Haruka posing in front of the mirror

Haruka posing in front of the mirror

Finally, an “in your face” shot

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A Day at the Department Store

Over the weekend, we spent some time at the local department store.  Haruka didn’t really need anything, but it was good opportunity just to get out of the house.

As usual, we took Haru to Baby’s R Us, so that she could play with some of the toys there.  I personally have issues with buying Haru some new toys, but the problem is that she tends to play with it for the first day or so because it’s something new.  But after a day or so, it winds up in the corner with her other toys that she had gotten bored with.  It’d be so nice to find that ultimate toy that lasts well beyond the initial ooooh factor, but unfortunately at Haru’s age, nothing amounts to more than just a passing fad.  So for now, its just best to take Haru to the department store often so that she can play with the toys there.  And if she expresses a sincere interest in anything and actually finds something that she absolutely cannot live with out, I will be happy to buy it for her.  But so far that has yet to happen.  She usually plays with a toy for a few minutes, then tosses it aside for another toy.  One thing I have noticed is that Haru tends to be interested in objects that are not toys, for a longer period of time.  She loves her piano, and she is perfectly happy with playing with kitchen utensils as opposed to playing with her blocks, or plastic tricycle.  I don’t know if this is good or bad, but is does save me from buying expensive toys that get played with once or twice, and then  wind up in her toy chest, never to be played with ever again.

I know that when I was a kid, I use to associate an emotional attachment with some of my toys.  I use to think that playing with one particular toy too much would make the other toys jealous.  And if I didn’t play with a toy at all, that it would become sad and lonely.  I guess this is why I liked the move Toy Story so much, because it really reflected the way I thought as a child .  In a way, but not to such an extent of course,  I still grow emotionally attached to some of my personal belongings, but that’s a different issue.  Perhaps when Haruka grows older, she will start groing attached to her toys and playing with them more.

Haru showing off her pearly white teeth

showing appreciation for a toy at the department store

weighing herself…BTW, she weight 9.6 kg with all of her clothes on

playing with her mildly neglected toy duck, Mr. Shimizu

trying to get a kiss from Princess

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Haru’s Original Language

Haruka is getting smarter everyday.  Although her physical milestones like learning to walk, have plateau’d a bit in the last couple of months, her intellectual milestones continue to progress everyday.  At this stage in development, it important that she is stimulated with new things on a daily basis, because the neurons in her brain is making new connections, connection that will determine who she is and how she reacts to the world around her.  I want to make sure that the progress she makes within next year will be positive.

One very interesting that I’ve noticed about Haru is her language development.  Every since she was about three months, she liked to babble out loud to herself.  And as time goes on, those babbles would spit out an occassional word or two.  But until recently, this was pretty inconsistent and random.  Lately, it seems she has developed her own language.  To you and me, it just sounds like incomprehensible baby babble, but I’m sure to her, she thinks she’s actually talking.  But the really strange thing about it is that her baby talk actually has nouns in it.  For example, about 90% of the time, when I show Haruka a picture of herself, or hold up a mirror to her face, she would point to it and say “aaaawwwaaaa”.  At first, I thought it was just a fluke, but when I show her pictures of other people or hold up other object, she would just point to it and use other “words”, and somewhat inconsistently.  “Aaaaawwwaaa” seems to be a word in her own language that refers to herself (like me or I).  This leads me to believe that perhaps there is a primative form of pre-language that babies communicate in that only they can understand.  Or perhaps the pre-language is not universal and is specific to the to the individual.

At any rate,  I’m not really a scientist nor so do I have enough eduation in psychology to conduct proper research  and testing on this, but it would sure make for really interesting research.  And as far as Haruka is concerned, I am convinced that she is speaking her own language, which over the next year will be forgotten and replaced by a proper understood language.

Chewing on some snacks at her great grandmother’s house

toting her little doll around

speaking in front of a crowd

Finally here is a video of Haruka pretending to talk on the phone, and also playing the piano.

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A VERY Ugly Baby

Technical Note:  I am currently working on building my own YouTube server.  It’ll be called “MyTube”.   Its taken me about four days to build and its almost operational.  I’m currently working all of the bugs out of the open source software, and trying to find a reasonably priced hard disk to put it on.  If things go well, I should have it online early next year.

My mom is in town and as usual, she came with tons of presents for Haruka.  Most of them were clothes, but the one gift that caught everyone’s attention was this doll.  I’ve gotta say that it’s the most ugliest doll I’ve ever seen.   However, it’s an interesting doll that it come with a some pretty interesting technology built in it.   It came with a toy bottle and a toy pacifier;  and when the pacifier or bottle placed in proximity to the doll’s lips, it starts to move and make really creepy sounds.   I haven’t quite figured out how everything works, but from the looks of it, it seems to have an RF (radio frequency) antenna, similar to those in credit cards built in.  And the lips of the doll probably has some kind of RF sensor hooked up to servos in its eyes and lips.

Anyways, technical analysis aside, its one ugly doll.  I don’t understand why the dolls in States are so ugly and frightening.  The beady little blue eyes is enough to give any kid a nightmare, but Haruka seems to like it.  And ironically, although she doesn’t sleep with the doll, she has been sleeping more peacefully since it got here.  But that’s probably just coincidence.

I will begin my 4-day weekend tomorrow.  Other than going to Tokyo to see my mother, and grandmother, we have no particular plans to do anything.  Although a mixed blessing, since my projects at work have been postponed until next year, I will probably be able to take a longer than expected winter holiday.

Haruka holding her baby

playing with the doll

watching TV together

Haruka admiring the doll’s ugly face

Haruka and her grandmother

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So, Did BabyPlus REALLY Work?

It was about a year and half ago (or maybe more) when my wife started using this prenatal education device called BabyPlus.  We were both highly skeptical that a machine that really adds up to no more than a drum machine could give an infant such a intellectual head start in life.  But we bought it and my wife used it almost every single day and night for over 18 weeks until just before Haruka was born.

The claims that the company makes about the product is quite incredible.  And it seems that no matter which review you read, it was nothing but glowing raves about how the product produced such a perfect, well-behaved, and intelligent baby.  The amount of euphemistic reviews of the product often makes you wonder if there’s some kind of BabyPlus cult out there and that this device actually served to brain wash little babies into becoming cabbage worshipers when they become adults.  Either that, or these people were being paid to write hundreds of positive reviews on several internet sites using various aliases.  Or perhaps the product actually DOES work?  My personal assessment?  Well I will save that for the end, but first let’s look at the claims:

  • Babies are born more alert; often with very little crying.
  • Babies sleep better, and many will often sleep through the night in just a few weeks
  • Ability to self-soothe and put him/herself to sleep
  • ability to develop language quickly
  • meet milestones faster
  • larger vocabulary at an earlier

and so on and so forth.  Well, for those who have been following this site from its beginnings, you’d already know that Haruka wasn’t an easy baby to care for shortly after birth.  She was colicky (cried often without cause, and difficult to calm down).  She didn’t take to baby formula right away and often spit up.  So right out of the starting block, BabyPlus didn’t seem to be living up to its claims.

However, after a couple months, we did notice some changes.  At only 8 weeks, not only were we able to carry Haruka upright, she often wanted to stand up (of course with support).  That was the first sign that she was developing more quickly than the other babies of the same age.  Additionally, we noticed that she was cooing and making noises much earlier than most milestone calenders indicated.

However, although her physical development seemed to be coming along nicely, she was still quite difficult. Getting her to bed every night needed a minimum of an hour.  She could quite literally cry for several hours before she tired out and went to sleep.  Her colic persisted until about the fourth or fifth month, after which it died down quite dramatically.

At four months old, she was able to roll over in both directions, and sometimes even drag herself a few inches.  She was finally able to sleep through the night through a set routine of feeding, wrapping, and swinging, but still cried often and could not go to sleep on her own unless she was in a car or on her swing.

At about four and a half months old, Haruka was able to sit upright unassisted.  This was quite a surprise to everyone because she showed no prior signs or hints that she was even about to sit up on her on her own.  It was as if someone turned on a switch and she was sitting.

At five and have months old, she was able to grab a piece of furniture and stood up on her own for the first time.  At this point, she still had yet to learn to crawl, and was still dragging herself around the room.  A few days later, she was cruising around the room swinging from furniture to furniture.  It wasn’t until six months when she finally was able to learn to crawl properly.

After a short period of being able to crawl rapidly to get from point A to point B, Haruka was able to stand up unassisted at 8 months old, and it only took a week and a half until she was taking her first steps.  Three weeks later, she was running around the living room.

At this point, it seemed as if her physical milestones came far ealier than her intellectual milestones, until one day she was able to wave her hand and say bye bye.  Although not too clear at times, she does mumble the words.  She does say it while waving, and when she or someone else is leaving, which means she understands the context of the words and when to use them, as opposed to just repeating what we say to her.

Between ten and eleven months old, Haruka became a very skilled walker and a fast runner.   She even managed to crawl up some stairs on her own.  She has a pretty good understanding of what we are telling her, and responds to commands.  For example, she knows to claspe her hands together  before and after eating (a Japanese custom).  She also knows to bow to a person whom she’s meeting (a Japanese greeting).  However, she has yet to learn to self-soothe nor can she consistently sleep throughout the night.  She doesn’t cry like she use to; she cries only if she wants something, sleepy, or hungry…or obviously when she hurts herself.

At a year old now, she still has trouble staying asleep at night, often waking up several times a night.  Not too sure what’s going on here, but then again, Haruka has never been a very sound sleeper.  She is still unable to put herself to sleep, and requires one of us to hold her until she falls asleep.

So, Did BabyPlus REALLY Work?  In my opinion, Haruka would have probably turned out the same regardless of whether or not we used it.  I believe that all of her traits (both negative and positive) are purely genetic, and I think there’s more scientific evidence to support my theory than the claims BabyPlus makes about their product.  If you have a history of colic or difficult infants in your family, changes are pretty good that your infant will carry on those traits, and no amount of BabyPlus’ing is going to change that.  Any so-called benefits accheived from using baby plus is coincidental.

BabyPlus developed a very good money making product, because it successfully appeals to the emotions and hopes of the parent to be.  EVERY parent wants their child to be intelligent, and $120 is just cheap enough to be in reach of most household incomes, and yet pricey enough so that it’s not easily discredited  as  being just a gimmick or a toy.

Unless there was a way of cloning a fetus and raising them in two different wombs, one exposed to BabyPlus and the other unexposed, there is no way to prove or disprove the results or there lack of, achieved by this product.    Each baby is a different individual with different personalities, so there is no way to conduct a controlled experiment since the factors vary so greatly.  So unless there is conclusive scientific evidence to definitively prove the validity of the claims made by this company, there is no way really know for sure if it works or not.  If the baby displays even the slightest bit of intelligence, I wouldn’t automatically assume that its the result of the nightly drum concert the baby receives, and due more to good genetics.  Like-wise I wouldn’t blame a difficult infant, or an infant who meets milestones relatively slower than others on BabyPlus either.  I sincerely think that all this product serves to do is make noise, maybe at the very most, help put the baby in the womb asleep, or maybe keep it awake.

Would I recommend it?  Short answer is no.  That is to say not unless BabyPlus can produce more credible evidence to suggest that it does work, rather than just an internet forum flooded with testimonials from overly proud parents boasting of great results, whom I  suspect got some leading from BabyPlus.  My suggestion is to use the $120 to buy some books and maybe even Mozart and get the baby off to heardstart by playing music and reading to them while still in the womb.

Haruka at the park

Another pic…

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