Baby Therapy 赤ちゃん癒し効果

image1 (13)The best thing about having a baby is their healing powers. No wonder how shitty your day is, you can always count on babies to smooth things out.

Even Nina, every time she needs a moment, runs over to Luca and rubs his head, cheeks and feet with a dazed out look until she can calm down.

It’s sometimes the only way for her to calm down after a rough fight with Mila or a scolding (usually for the right reasons, I think).

Our house has gone from “Mommy makes everything better” to “Here, rub Luca’s tummy, that usually fixes everything.” It works better than anything I can conjure up.

Now the question is, what do I do to calm the other kids down when Luca grows up and will no longer accept bring treated like a petting zoo…..

I’m thinking of getting one of those super round chinchillas. They look like they may have comparable healing powers. I’m gonna need it.  Seriously.








Sumo diet ? 初めて見たお相撲さん


The other week, we were very lucky to see a performance by Nippon Sports Science University. They came to the Toa Payoh Stadium to show off some of their skills.

Japanese archery, Kendo, Japanese drums dance, judo and loads more. Pretty cool performance overall. I was hoping to get some interest for Japanese martial arts for the kids. Particularly the archery and kendo.

Miyuki: Hey, the archery was pretty cool huh?
Nina: …, it was OK

Miyuki: Wasn’t the sword fighting cool? Do you want to try it?
Mila: No, I don’t like getting hit.

Basically, I didn’t get anywhere. Oh well.

However, they were really excited about the sumo wrestlers and their performance.

Mila: Hey Nina, those guys are funny! (They had a comedic bit in their routine)
Nina: Mila, don’t laugh. Those guys are exercising because they’re too fat. They’re working hard to get healthy! Good for them, right?
Mila: Ohhhhhh, that’s why they’re on stage. Yeah! Good for them! Good job guys!
(Claps hands and shows excitement)

…..I guess I should have explained the whole sumo thing a bit better.  Those sumo guys are pretty fit and they exercise  A LOT more than mommy and daddy for sure. Pretty amazing stuff.









新菜:実良、笑っちゃダメよ。あの人達は太ってるから、健康になるために一生懸命運動してるんだから。 頑張ってるって、褒めてあげなきゃ。
実良:そうか、健康は大事だもんね!応援してあげよう!ガンバレ〜〜 (立って拍手)



Kendo match 剣道もかっこよかった!


Japanese Archery 弓のお姉さん。


The sumo wrestlers….aka dieting team…..噂のダイエット組、ではなくてお相撲さん


Japanese traditional dance. 日本舞踊、確かにきれいだったけど。

To Each Their Own – How kids learn languages 姉妹でもこんなに違う、言葉の覚え方

Nina and Mila are both little chatterboxes.  They both speak English (with their Singlish accent), Chinese (Mandarin) and have picked up some Japanese on the way.  However, how they process language is very very different.

A bit of a background.  Nina and Mila both started full time daycare (9-5) in Singapore at 18 months.  Unlike the Japanese or American counterpart, even daycare centers in Singapore  have academic requirements.  They are usually staffed with both a Chinese teacher and an English teacher and will split their day alternating between “classes” taught in English and in Chinese.  Once the kids start in the daycare enter, they pick up languages extremely fast.

What was interesting is that Nina and Mila learned at completely different speed and appears to have a completely different approaches to learning a language.


  • 1 year – vocal, but does not quite speak.  Vocabulary is developing, but she can’t string words together yet.
  • 1.5 years   – Can vocalize basic needs but weak on sentences.  She’s started her day care so she’s transitioned from English/Japanese household to English/Chinese environment for a good chunk of the day.
  • 2 years  – Introduction of Chinese seems to have helped her pick up her English.  Still struggles but is willing to speak and making leaps every day
  • 2.5 years  – Suddenly, something seems to have clicked.  Starts to speak both English and Chinese at a similar level as everyone else.  Starts to express interest in Japanese.
  • 3 – Speaks both Chinese and English.  Spent a summer in Japan attending regular day care in Japan which boosts her Japanese skill.  She seems to be able to learn multiple language at once.
  • 4year – She is speaking Chinese and English but not with much concern for grammar, at least for English.  Seems like her progress has stalled a bit and she’s cementing what she knows.  Maybe she has too much going in her head with multiple languages and different thought sometimes, hard to get cohesive through process from her.


  • 1 year – Already able to speak English fairly well using sentences.  She can understand some Japanese, but is still quite weak.
  • 1.5 – Starts in a bilingual daycare but does not enjoy it and apparently shuts off.  Her English is still pretty good, but she won’t pick up any Chinese.  According to the teachers, she’s well behaved but silent at school.
  • 2 years – Changes day care to join Nina, enjoying herself better.  At the end of the year though, we get confirmation that she barely understands Chinese.
  • 2.5 years – Her English skills are well developing.  She is still struggling with her Chinese but she’s started to take interest in Chinese.
  • 3 years- Suddenly, she went from being a monolingual child to bilingual child over this period.  Not only did she pick up Chinese speaking, she can read as well as Nina and better than some of her classmates.  I see her taking initiative to sit down with a book and essentially reading the Chinese book on her own.
  • 4 years – This year, she’s taking more interest in Japanese.  she seems to process one language at a time.  I’m making more efforts to introduce her to Japanese topics and books.  We’ll see how this goes.

Today, Nina is 6 and Mila is 4.

Nina generally has a good grasp of all three languages.  It helped that for a year, Nina went to a different day care that included Japanese class twice a week.  She developed a lot of interest in Japanese and is comfortable speaking with people in Japan.  The unfortunate thing is in the same day care, she hated the Chinese class for how intense it was and practically stopped learning it.  At six years, even I can tell that she avoids the subject.  Nina seems to learn language verbally.  She’s not a structure person, not so much the worksheet type but speak and learn.  She picks up multiple languages simultaneously, but seems to hit a plateau.

Mila, on the other hand, seems to focus on one language at a time.  She learned English first and once she was comfortable, focused on her Chinese.  She is very structured learner and is enjoying learning Chinese at school.  She doesn’t mind repetitive reading and in fact seems to love sitting with a Chinese book and rehearsing over and over again.  Even I can tell her Chinese is decent.  She’s showing more interest in Japanese this year and I’m hoping to make this the year of learning Japanese!  She seems to focus better when presented with writing or reading. In fact, even though Nina speaks Japanese better, Mila can read Japanese books better than Nina. I’m going to start pushing her to speak more Japanese this year.



  • 1歳:言葉はまだまだ。
  • 1歳半:保育園始める。自分の意志を伝えることはかなり出来るけど、言葉はまだまだ片言、一言ずつ。ゆっくりめかな~、とも思う。英語メインと日本語少々の家庭環境から英語と中国語半々の保育園環境に。
  • 2歳:英語と中国語の環境がいい方向に影響したらしく、ぐんぐん蓄積されているのが分かる。まだ中国語をアウトプットとして話し出すのには時間が必要そうだけど、英語はどんどん話せるように。
  • 2歳半:ほぼ同時進行で中国語も英語も話せるように。本人も得意そう。でも日本語はおいてきぼりっぽい感じに。私としか日本語は使わないし、それもどんどん少なくなってるから、仕方ないか。日本語強化しなくちゃな~。
  • 3歳:英語と中国語は安定してるよう。日本の保育園を日本語強化合宿だと思って一か月入れてみたら、楽しかったらしく、日本語にも興味を持って、家では日本語も喋るようになった。「てにをは」が弱いけど、そのへんはまた集中して教えるしかないか。でも保育園の先生曰く、園では英語だったらしい。
  • 4歳:英語と中国語は話せているけど、あんまり文法とかは気にしてない、というか、う~む、と思うこと多し。両方いっぺんに入れたからか、ものを考える時にどちらを使ってるのかで答えが変わっていってしますのを感じ取って、考え自体をまとめるのが難しいみたい。私でさえ、日本語と英語両方で考えてる時は気をつけてないと言語に考え乗っ取られる事あるから、子供には難しいだろうな、と見守りモード。しかも日本語まで入ってきてるから、ますますかな。でも3か国語ほぼ基礎は分かってきた感じ。


  • 1歳:英語はかなりもう形になっている。というかよく喋る。お姉ちゃんがいる影響かな、と思う。日本語は言われてる事は少しは分かる程度。
  • 1歳半:保育園に通い始める。中国語と英語半々の環境になるものの、なかなか慣れないようで、言語も英語オンリー。先生曰く、いい子にしてるけど、全く喋らないらしい。
  • 2歳:保育園を新菜と同じところに変えたら、楽しそうに通い始める。でも年末に中国語の先生にやぱり中国語はダメだと教えられる。様子見。
  • 2.5歳:英語は普通にボキャブラリーも増えてるし、アルファベットも覚えてきてる。中国語には興味は出てきたけどまだまだ。
  • 3歳:急に中国語を覚えだす。この一年で急激に進歩する。英語しかできなかったのが、中国語も話せるように。
  • 4歳:3歳と4歳までの一年で中国語は他の保育園の子より出来るように、読める漢字の数は新菜と同じくらい。私もビックリした。一人でもくもくと本を読んで、漢字を暗記してる。こつこつやるのが好きなタイプなのかな。日本語もプリントやドリルを一人でもやりたがる。書きながら、読みながら覚えていくタイプなので、正確に覚えていく。間違えは直せば一度二度で覚える。今年は日本語出来るようになれるようにサポートしていかなきゃな。








Nina and Her Saga For THE Shoes Part 3/新菜とハイヒール 第三戦

A few months later, Mila was actually doing so much of the chores she got her own chore chart as well.  Sometimes they were full on, and other times, not so much.  It was working out pretty well though, they learned to budget.  Clearly, Nina was the saver and Mila was the spender.  It was amusing to watch the girls debate what they should buy.  Nina’s first ever purchase was a box of milo and she sheepishly asked me if she would need to share with Mila.  I said no, she bought with her own hard earned money, she doesn’t have to share.  I could tell she felt guilty, and from that day on, when she bought a milo for herself, she usually bought one for her sister.

Though sometimes, she’d get mad at Mila for not returning the favor, I shrugged it off.  I had at this point, totally forgot about Nina’s initial reason to want her own money.

And the day came.  Now, December one year later, Nina, out of the blue (well, for me anyways) came up to me and said.

“Mommy, how much do I need for those shoes.  I’m going to buy those shoes”

“Huh? What shoes?”

“The high heel shoes, you know, the ones at the store.  The shiny pink shoes”

“I have my own money now.  I’m going to buy them”

“Uh….well…really? I explained to you those aren’t very good for you right?”

“Yes, I know, they hurt your ankle and your back, and you would have to set up rules on where to use them, but I still want them.  I worked hard.”


As I looked around for some lame excuse on why she shouldn’t buy them.  I searched online for better shoes.  Showed her various pairs I saw online.  She looked at me and said,

“They’re nice, but that’s not what I want”

Crap….I totally forgot about this.  And she’s super SERIOUS.

“OK, well, we can get those if that’s what you REALLY want, but that’s a big chunk of your piggy bank, can we at least look at the other options, see what else you CAN get, and if you still are into those shoes, then you can buy them.”

Nina, after few moments of silence said, “OK, I’m still getting those shoes, but maybe we can find nicer shoes. So we can go shopping”

After that, I started to text my friends with daughters trying to see if there’s any other options out there.  Hell, I wasn’t even sure if the original pair she wanted was still at the shop.  It was a  year ago.  The next day, we went everywhere, hit up every kids shop/toy shop and nope, no matter how I pitched for “better” “prettier” options, she didn’t budge.  She earned her just money and she wanted to use them.

At the end of the day, she looked at me with tears in her eyes.  “Why won’t you let me buy those shoes, I worked so hard!!”

Game Over.  I had to let her have them.  I promised to pick her up from daycare early the next day and to take her to the shop.  I had to warn her that it has been an year and those shops tend to turn over fast, but otherwise, she had every right to those shoes.

So she got them. And she’s super happy about them. The store shockingly still had them in stock and though they didn’t have the color she wanted, she’s very happy with her blue shoes.  Nina, your diligence, memory and your strong will power amaze me.

So if you see a young girl, in Singapore, wearing these wedges and being happy, don’t judge.  She bloody well worked hard for them.  Yes, I still have rules on where and how she can wear them, but I want to believe that her super strong will power and ability to work hard for what she wants is something very precious that as parent, I need to respect and help grow.

Nina, I love and respect that powerful heart of yours.


Nina paying for her shoes. Shiny!











それから一日見て歩きましたよ。何か所も。子供の服、靴のあるところはすべて、それにおもちゃ屋さんも。Cotton Onならワンピース、キラキラ靴とおもちゃ買ってもおつり来るよ~、みたいな事言ってみたり、女の子のいる友達に聞いてみたり。でもおめがねに適うものはなく。歩き回って、最終的には涙目で、「何で買わせてくれないの、がんばったのに。」






Nina and Her Saga For THE Shoes Part 2/新菜とハイヒール 第二戦


Chore Chart with her precious Piggy Bank

After we got home, once again, I forgot about the chore chart for few weeks.  Then Nina brought it up.  Asking again, for money.  After debating if it’s a bit too early, I said, “Why the hell not. It’s a good thing she’s asking to do it.  It may actually stick”

So I laid out some ground rules:

  1. The chores must be something where it alleviates someone else doing them. They cannot be your own basic needs. e.g. “eating dinner” or “brushing teeth” cannot be a chore as it’s the basic need.
  2. Whatever you earn goes into two buckets. Half is for the coin pig and half goes into your wallet for saving
  3. You can bring your wallet out on the weekends and spend as you like.
  4. If Mila helps you out with the chores, she gets to keep the change.  For example, if you earn 4.50 that week and Mila helped you out, she gets to keep the 50 cents.

And made a full chart with pictures.

And there it was.  The start of the chore chart.  At that point, I didn’t think this was going to last a month.







Nina and Her Saga For THE Shoes Part 1/新菜とハイヒール 第一戦

So, don’t judge.  I know the studies. I am fully aware of the social backlash and contempt concept of putting a young girl in high heels AND the possible physical effects of wearing them at a very young age.   I said NO.  I provided other options.  She didn’t budge.  This wasn’t just another, “I want.” It was more than that and I caved.  I respected her efforts, determination and I wanted her to know that I’ve got her back. So here’s the story.

A year ago, we passed by a terribly glitzy glittery store.  I usually walk right by them and don’t even look back.  Nina (four, at this time) stopped dead in her tracks and said,


“I want those shoes.”

I turned to see a pair of glittery wedges, around one inch high, with additional shiny jewels….in her size.

First reaction: “I want?”

Nina: “May I have those shoes please”(add lip quiver)

Me: “No, those aren’t really appropriate for you. ”

Nina: “But I really really want high shoes. You wear them all the time”

Me: “They’re not good for girls your age.  Your can hurt your ankles, (add whatever other reasons here).  You know, mommy didn’t really get to wear high heels until I could buy my own”

Nina: “How did you have your own money”

Me: “You work for your money”

Nina: “Can I do that?”

Me: “Sure, we can start a chore chart”

Nina: “OK, then I can put money in my Frozen wallet”

Me: “Yes, you will need to save a lot though ….those shoes are pretty expensive”

Seriously, they were 60 bucks.  Which I thought was a bit much for shoes that looked shiny but really, a child would not be able to walk around much in.

I thought our conversation ended there and we went home.  I was patting myself on the back about how a potential tantrum was avoided….Well….this was a beginning of a looong saga to her perfect shoes.






私 げ、暴れだす兆しありだ。「だめ、あれは新菜には早すぎるよ、色んな意味で(足首とか、子供にヒールはなんとか…理由をごにょごにょ)」










Birthday Party: Nina’s 6! The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt 新菜、6歳のお誕生日会。学校版

Our little big girl Nina’s turned six in January.  She’s just changed school and we wanted to bring another book to the birthday party.  We picked the book that helped her get through that first few weeks of school.  See how here.

For the birthday book, we picked The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt.  The book has fun paper cutouts so we decided to have the kids pick their own two colors and make paper cutout page. Similar idea to The Missing Piece party, but this time, the art was for the kids to take home.

As usual, we started with Marc introducing and reading the book to the kids.  The kids were very excited to see Nina’s daddy and cheered when he came out with the book.

For this party, I had brought bunch of origami papers for the class.  First, we handed out the black solid construction paper.   The kids got to choose two origami papers.  One for the background and one to cut out shapes from.

Initially, I wanted to see if I can get the kids to associate colors to “emotion words” and to choose the colors they thought resembled their own personality but the scene quickly went into chaos mode with fifteen children, so I gave up on that.  Maybe I’ll do it with just my kids one of these days.

Marc and I split up and went to each table with about five kids to show them few examples on how to cut paper and they got to work.  All in all, we had some great art work from the kids.  Hope they had fun sharing the art with the parents when they got home.

Nina and Mila were very proud of what they did and has been mass producing these at home.

Thanks to our lovely helper for the rainbow cupcakes.  Nina has requested cupcakes every year from our helper and it’s sort of turned into a family tradition.  With the grandparents far away, we are very thankful to have extra loving adult around.

** The new school specifically requested that  pics from schools are not shared on the internet, so unfortunately, not many pics can be shared, but some posted for reference.