Hinamatsuri


March 3rd is Girls Day or more commonly referred to as Hinamatsuri.  We celebrated Haru’s first Hinamatsuri four years ago, but we never did it again because its really a pain to unpack all of the little dolls and put them on their stands.  My wife has a seven tiered hina set that her mother kept for, and was subsequently handed down to Haru.   It’s a really nice set, but it takes up a tremendous amount of room, even when disassembled and pack away.   So we decided that we would break out the seven tier set one last time before we either sell it or toss it.

Admittedly, I didn’t bother assembling it this year, basically for  two reasons: 1.) each doll needs to be on a specific tier and I don’t know the order.  2.) I’ve done it once and I can’t be bothered to do it again.  Haru of course, loves the dolls and couldn’t wait to have everything together and take a picture with it.  It’s nice that she’s finally at an age where she can appreciate it without wanting to touch it or climb on the stands.

Lastly, Haru will be having an event at her kindergarten next Wednesday.  I’ve taken the day off to to able attend and take videos and pictures.  Its always nice to be able to take a day off  from work and spend it with family, so I am truly looking forward to it.

 

 

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Incompetent Parenting


No pictures today.  I wanted to really dedicate and focus on a topic that has really been bothering me for a very VERY long time now.  So if you are looking for updates on Haru, or pictures or videos, move on, because there won’t be any this time.

click “Continue Reading” below for the rest of this post.

Continue reading

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Terrible Three’s


 

The last few weeks has gotten increasingly difficult with Haru.  She has been defiant, extremely moody, and at times even somewhat violent.  At first, I thought it was my fault.  I thought that I might have been too strict with her and expecting too much of her.  After all, she is only three years old.  But after careful thought,  I don’t think I was doing anything out of the ordinary.  For example, Haru ALWAYS wants to be carried.  My wife tends to spoil her by carrying her around a lot,  but I ABSOLUTELY refuse to carry her.  I think at three years old, she is much too old to be carried.  She also tends to leave her toys all over the place, and when its time to clean up, she  insists that either my wife or I  help her clean.  Well, I always refuse to help her, after all, she is the one who made the mess, so she should be responsible for cleaning up after herself.  Up until recently, my wife tended to help with Haru’s clean up from time to time to which I always tell her that she is not helping the situation.

So initially, because of me not helping spoiling her, and with her mother hardening her stance with not catering to everything Haru wants, I thought this was the cause of her recent defiance towards us.  But in the last couple of days, Haru’s behavior has gotten substantially worse.  Not only does she insist on being carried ALL OF THE TIME, she’ll refuse to eat dinner unless her mother carries her to the dinner table.   She threw a HUGE tantrum last night, and wound up going to bed without dinner.

I was beginning to suspect that it may have something to do with what’s going on at her school (perhaps her teacher -whom I still have very little respect for), but out of frustration and just not knowing what else to do, I did some research to see if this is a common issue amongst toddlers her age.

I have been completely aware of the terrible two’s, but out of sheer ignorance, I thought we had already surpassed that stage, and that things would get easier as time goes on.  However, the terrible two’s is not a chronological event that is triggered when the child turns two, and then magically goes away when she turns three (or so I learned).  The terrible two’s can last for several years, and is most common within the ages of three and four.  According to this website, this is the period within the child’s life where she is trying to establish an identity independent of her parents’.   So in order to have of independent thought that is different from her parents’, she will develop a somewhat of a contrarian personality, or take the opposite opinion of whatever her parents’ have, even if she doesn’t believe it herself.  For example, I would ask her if she likes chocolate (which she does) but would say no, or say I hate chocolate.  And 15 minutes later, she would be stuffing her face with chocolate.

Now that I know that its just a phase, I do feel a bit better.  But this has got to be the most difficult phase by far, because not even bribery seems to work anymore.  If I tell her that we’ll take her to Disneyland if she behaves, she’ll just respond by saying I don’t want to go to Disneyland, and refuses to listen.  And when she is like this, there is nothing that anyone  can do to fix this other than to wait until she calms down.    I have a feeling that its going to be a VERY long phase to endure.

This is the video of Haruka refusing to come to the dinner table unless her mother carries her there.  As you can see, she actually runs to her mother at one point and then tries to pull her over to where she was and begs to be carried.


Fast Tube by Casper

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Its Showtime!


Haruka had her very first school performance last Wednesday.  I managed to squeeze a day off and make the performance, and it was well worth it.  Haruka had been practicing playing the melodica (a small organ-like musical instrument) for months at her school.  At first, I was expecting just a bunch of 3 years making a lot of incoherent noises with their instruments.  And to keep it real, it turned out to be only marginally better than my expectation (at least for Haruka’s age group), but the four and five year old groups were amazing.   If I closed my eyes, I would swear that it was a high school band playing rather than a bunch a of kindergartners.

This show really renewed my my expectations on what this school can do in terms of teaching children some amazing things.  I do wish that they would focus a bit more on behavioral control as well, because Haru has been pretty bratty lately.  She is currently being punished for being really disrespectful lately.  I have basically hidden all of her dolls (which she’s found already) until she learns to be more respectful.  So far, it’s kind of working, but she still has a ways to go.

 

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There Must Be Something In The Water


You usually hear the phrase “there must be something in the water” when people or animals display peculiar behavior patterns, but we never really take it literally because we assume that the water we are drinking is safe and free from contaminants.  But in light of recent events, we really can’t be too sure anymore that there isn’t something strange in the water.

The Japanese government announced today that the tap water in the Tokyo area and surrounding cities is not safe for infants, as the level of radioactive iodine in the water exceeds what is considered to be safe for consumption by infants under the age of 1.  Since we are in Yokohama, we are still pretty safe; our levels have yet to reach the high numbers that Tokyo is getting, but is it a matter of time before we’re affected too?

Personally, I don’t trust the Japanese government to tell me the full truth, and  I do believe that there is a cover up to prevent an onset of widespread panic.  Having said this, am I really that concerned?  The answer is yes, and no.

I don’t believe that there is an immediate concern.  We aren’t going to die tomorrow, or from drinking one, two, five, ten, or hundred cups of water.  However, I am very concerned over the long term effects that this may have on Haru.  Although she is hardly an infant anymore, she is still a growing child and susceptible to long term effects from contaminants (especially radiation) that she consumes now. I don’t want her to have thyroid cancer ten or twenty years from now from having consumed radiation tainted water, so in that respect, I am very concerned over the long term effects to her health.

Tonight for the first time ever, we allowed Haru to drink soft drink with her dinner.  99.9% of the time, we drink water, but since we can’t trust the government enough to tell us the truth about the safety level of what we’re eating or drinking, and I  don’t believe that the water is 100% safe to drink, we made this exception, which made her of course, very happy.

 

 

 

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It’s Been a While


It’s been a whiles since my last entry …I know.   I’ve been sick and very busy at work at the same time, and haven’t had too much time to myself.  Hopefully, things will calm down soon.

As for Haru,  not too sure if she’s just being her usual self or if she is becoming more and more difficult to handle, but the fact remains that she hasn’t been listening too well to us, and becoming more defiant lately.  Not sure if this is just a phase she’s going through, or if’s a response to me not being home and being less attentive to her when I am home, but I am hoping she is just going through a phase …for her mother’s sake.

I have been so exhausted lately, I literally begged for one day where I didn’t have to do anything and I could sleep in late to regain all of the sleep I’ve lost in the last week or so.  Today was suppose to be my day to myself, but I really felt bad for Haru, because she looked so bored and she wanted me to do something with her.

Although I am really not feeling well, and I really had no strength left to do anything, I though it’d be good idea just to take her out for a change in scenery.  So we went to the indoor play park we took her to on her first birthday.  I think the day was worth the sacrifice.  Tomorrow is Monday again, and I have to work until next Saturday.  No breaks…hope my health doesn’t get any worse.

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Milestones


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!


Discipline

  • 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.

Development

* 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.

Feeding

  • 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

Sleep

  • 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.

Illnesses

  • 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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Number 3


Today was Haruka’s 3rd birthday.  Since we went to Disneyland last Wednesday, we didn’t do anything too spectacular today.  I did buy her an ice cream cake from Baskin Robins, which she only mildly liked it.  I have feeling that maybe she was too full to eat all of the piece we cut for her, so maybe she’ll eat more tomorrow.

Haru’s been asking for a little doll called “Popo-chan” for the longest time.  Everytime we go to the department store or if she sees it on TV, that’ll be the only thing she’d talk about about for the rest of the day.  So the other day, while we were shopping for close that she’s be wearing to Disneyland, I sneaked away and bought he the doll she wanted.  It had been in the car the whole time just in case she started poking around in the closets and other hiding spots. Needless to say, she was happy about getting Popo-chan.  We originally planned to get it for her for Christmas, but she really wanted this one, so we decided to make it her birthday present instead.

Every year, I look back on old pictures to see how much she’s grown, and it never ceases to amaze me to see the change.  Last year, she was only able to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in English, and now, although she does not speak too much English she does understand a lot.  She’s got a pretty sizable vocabulary, but I think she is too embarrassed to speak it.

Three year’s with Haruka:

Haruka opening her birthday present:


Fast Tube by Casper

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7-5-3 “Shichi-Go-San”


We have a new sponsor!  Actually we have two new sponsors for this site.  I’ve signed up with some affiliate programs in the hopes that this site might  generate a little bit of revenue.  All proceeds will go towards Haruka’s education, so if you are in the market for some holistic vitamin supplements or a career change, please do do check out our sponsors on the navigator bar on the left.  My plan is not to flood this site  too many sponsors or advertisements, but I may sign up with a couple of more in the future.

Today was Haru’s Shichi-go-san, so we went to our local department store to have Haru’s hair made up and put on the kimono  that we order several weeks ago.  I must admit she looked rally cute once everything was done.  I was a bit concerned at first that she would not photograph well, or be unruly throughout the photo shoot, but she was very well behaved, and photographed fairly well.  Ultimately, we would up ordering a few sets of photos, which we will be getting back sometime next month.

Afterwards, we went to the nearby shrine and had Haruka blessed by the Buddhist priest.  We even managed to get a few more photos taken there as well.  After the visit to the shrine, we thought it’d be such a waste to take her hair down and her kimono off, so we decided to take a ride to Tokyo to my grandmother’s house just to show off the kimono.   All in all, it was a pretty good day.

Below are all of the photos I took.  We were told that were not allowed to photograph when Haruka was standing against the backdrop, for fear that the flash would ruin the pictures that the photographer was taking, but I am pretty good with taking photos without a  flash, so I managed to sneak a few shots as a preview to what the professionally taken photos will be like.

EDIT:

Here’s a video of yesterday’s events:


Fast Tube by Casper

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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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