Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bali Travel with Toddlers 1/チビx2連れバリ旅行記1

This was my third time going to Bali, but the first time with kids. Which meant our schedule had to be flexible and scuba, hiking, white water rafting and other cool activities were unfortunately out of the question. We traveled to relax and enjoy some quiet time. The first day was spent figuring out the closest supermarket, stocking up on breakfast food, milk, fruits and snacks, getting an early dinner and getting the tired kids (and parents) to bed. My sister and her husband arrived late in the night from the US (technically, 4:00 am the next day), so we left the next day open anyway, since we figured they would need to nap and recover from the long flight. Sadly, it rained the first two days. Unlike Singapore rain, where it pours for an hour then gives way to sunshine, Bali rain lasts all day long. Other than a few short hours in the morning, it rained cats and dogs. According to our villa’s owner, it hadn’t rained like this in a long time.
We walked around for a bit, ate by the beach and watched the rain fall into the ocean while the young couple went and got a massage in a local hut to recover from the flight. The great thing about a rainy beach is that no one tries to sell you anything.
Bali has ample food delivery options. There’s your Western choices (Italian, Fish and Chips etc.), but also your local warung can deliver if you want to stick to local fair. Not all Asian cities are delivery-centric, like Singapore, where delivery can takes hours and is crazy expensive. At least in Sanur, we didn’t have any trouble getting food at home. Always handy when you have hungry cranky children and bad weather.
There are also plenty of masseuses that can come and ease your pain. The villa had its own massage bed so we wouldn’t have to go out. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to use it.

The day of Christmas Eve, seeing that it was still raining, we hired a driver for the day. You do have to remember that they get kickbacks, so they recommend places that give them the most cash or take you to their family store/restaurants unless you specify a location. The batik and wood carving place we checked out were outrageously pricey, but we had fun walking around different stores anyway.

We checked out a few blogs and decided to go to Mila’s Warung for lunch. Every time we travel, we find a place with one of our kids’ names in the restaurant name and go. In Vietnam, we went to Nina’s café. In Bali, we found Mila’s Warung.

Mila’s Warung is not the easiest place to find in Sanur. In fact, one blogger said it took him two weeks to find a taxi driver who knew how to find it. We had to ask around several times, but it was well worth it. The food was quite good and the portions large, the atmosphere was very relaxing and charming. Mila, the owner came out to say hello and chatted with our kids for few minutes. This place is highly popular with vegetarian and vegan options. We’re not vegetarian or vegan, but since it’s so easy to throw your regular healthy diet off when you’re travelling, it’s great to have a tasty local place that offers you options. I’m terrible at taking food pictures, but there’s some good write ups with pictures here. Their non-vegetarian stuff was great as well. We had the steamed fish and beef dishes, as well as a tempe and tofu dish, with fried potato cakes for the kids (although they mainly just ate the fish and left the potato cakes for us parents). Nothing was too spicy and we enjoyed it. Glad the food was good, since Nina’s Café in Vietnam was just OK 😉

There are some cute cats that hang out at the restaurant. They provided endless entertainment for Nina, giving us extra time to eat our meal. Mila keeps the place very clean and you are supposed to remove your shoes when you enter the restaurant. We didn’t notice that and had to run back out to remove our shoes. How non-Asian of us! It looked like the restaurant is also Mila’s residence. As such, you walked through a bedroom to get to the bathroom. It was very clean, even without your shoes and you don’t have to cringe when you need to change a baby diaper. These are all good things in my book.

For dinner, we drove over to Kuta where a few friends from Singapore were also visiting. They were staying at a mansion owned by the company where one of husbands works. Gorgeous view and right on the beach with a great outside BBQ set up. They organized a big BBQ feast for dinner. There was champagne and fresh seafood. Nina ate her first squid and loved it, which was a surprise, but traveling is always a good way to introduce the picky kids to new food, so we were happy she enjoyed it. Sure beat the time we went to Krabi in Thailand and all Nina ate was fried chicken for five days. Thank you for hosting!

So here are a few Bali (and general Asia) travel tips with kiddies:

1. Take advantage of food delivery options and pick up a menu or two during the day. It’s usually cheaper and sometimes better than hotel food and you don’t have to suffer the pain of dining with cranky kids.
2. Massages are also often available to come to your villa if you want a nice evening massage after the kids go to bed. It’s not quite a spa, but it was good enough for us.
3. Mila’s Warung. No baby chair, but relaxed atmosphere with good food. Kids entertained themselves with the cat. Vegetarian and vegan options available and that’s rare. Amazingly large and clean bathroom. In fact, it was clean enough for my husband to change our one-year-old on the floor. It’s essentially Mila’s house, and she keeps it spotless.
4. Locate your closest supermarket and check diaper brands available just in case. You can usually find Huggies everywhere in Asia, different quality from the US, but OK. Pampers are also available in some areas, but I don’t see them as often as Huggies. But don’t get the Pampers made in Vietnam, you can tell from the package writing; you can really feel the drop in quality. Mamy Poko is a Japanese brand that’s popular in Asia and you can get it in most places. It has a decent reputation for quality. Merries is another Japanese brand and it’s more popular for Japanese moms.
5. If your baby is constipated, give them dragon fruits. That funny looking bright red almost cactus like fruit. It has thick rinds and you can get it anywhere. Not much flavor, but most babies/toddlers seem to like them. The fruit is either white or dark purple and they are both very good to help with BM. My kids eat it every day and they’ve never had constipation problems even when traveling. When you peel it, you don’t have to wash it if you are worried about the water causing problems.
6. If you plan on leaving a resort, don’t bother bringing a stroller. I just used our Ergo for Mila and put her on my back while Nina walked most of the time or was carried by daddy. After Singapore airlines lost my stroller (or pieces of it) twice, I’ve just learned to live without it on trips. The kids enjoy walking on trips, Mila learned to walk while in Hong Kong. I know some people may give me shit for this, but a child leash is sometimes good to have in heavy traffic (motorcycle) areas. Toddlers sometimes battle to hold hands, and personally, I’d rather have my kid fall on their bum and cry than be hit by a crazy motorcycle guy. Or just in case when you go on a day cruise, I take the leash for my sanity’s sake. Mila hasn’t needed it yet, but seeing how active she’s getting, I think I will keep the leash around for the next trip.


バリ、少なくともサヌールのいいところは食事のデリバリーが結構充実してる事。多分西洋人の長期ステイとかする人相手のビジネスなんだと思うけど、洋食でもローカルフードでも結構デリバリー出来ますってところが多い。で、夜は一番近いFish and Chipsお願いしました。ま、そこそこって感じだったけど、家で食べれるとやっぱ楽。子供が走っててもほっとけるし、先に寝かせちゃえるし。


ただ、お昼だけはお目当てのお店があるので行ってきました。Mila’s Warungへ。うちは旅行中、子供と同じお店の名前を見つけて入るのがちょっとした趣味。せっかく世界共通そうな名前をつけたので、探してみるのが楽しくて。ベトナムではNina’s Caféに行ったんですが、いまいちで(笑)でもMila’sはブログとかで調べると、ベジタリアンにも良くって、美味しいと結構評判ではないですか。と期待して行ってみたら本当に美味しかった。余り辛くないので子供でも食べられたし、お魚もお肉もベジタリアンのもの以外も美味しかった。うちは別にベジタリアンではないのだけど、普段野菜を意識的にとってはいるし、旅行中の炭水化物ばっかりになりがちの中では余計美味しく感じました。体が喜んでるんだね。少々めんどくさいロケーションではありますが、サヌールでちょっといい雰囲気のお店をお探しなら是非。裏からMilaさんが出てきて声を掛けてくださったり、ネコちゃんがいたりして、息抜きにはピッタリの素敵なお店でした。


1. バリは食事をデリバリーしてくれるところが豊富にあります。(少なくともサヌールエリア)ホテル食に飽きた、高い、でも子供連れて出かけるのが面倒な時は持ってきて貰って部屋で食べちゃいましょう。昼、外に出てる時に何件か目星のお店に聞いてみてメニューを集めておくと、スムーズに行きます。
2. ビラ等にも出張マッサージさんが来てくれるところも多いので、子供を寝かせてから来て貰って、おうちでスパ、も楽しいです。日中に気に入ったオイルとかゲットしとく手もありですね。私達の借りたビラはそれも想定していたのかちゃんとマッサージベッドが置かれてました。
3. 近くのスーパーの場所とおむつブランドとかを把握しておく。アジアではHuggiesが結構一般に手に入りますが、アメリカの品質とはちょっと違います。Pampersもあるところにはありますが、バリでは余り見なかったかな。Huggies率が高いです。ちなみにもし見かけても、パッケージがベトナム語になってるPampersは値段も安く、クオリティも酷いです。日本のブランドではMamy Pokoはどこでも買えますが、場所によってはMerriesも手に入ります。
4. Mila’s Warung お勧めです。ただし、ハイチェアーはないし、ポータブルブースターみたいなのもおける形の椅子ではありません。でも子供にも食べやすいし、ゆったり食事が出来るのでお勧めです。そしてトイレがきれい。子供のおむつも安心して替えられます。
5. お子さんが便秘になった場合、ドラゴンフルーツをお勧めします。ド派手な赤い大きな実に緑のとげとげのついてる丸いサボテンみたいな果物です。中はこれまたドクドクしい紫のものと白いものがあります。見かけに反してうすーい味で、子供には食べやすいです。厚い皮がありますが、結構ぺろっと剥けます。むいた果実は洗う必要がないので水の心配もしなくても食べられます。うちの子供達はこの不思議な果物を毎日たべてるからか、便秘知らずです。是非、困ったときはお試し下さい。
6. バリはベビーカーを押しながら歩けるほど整備されていないので、お勧めしません。エルゴ等のキャリアーの方がいいです。非難されるところかもしれませんが、子供がてを繋いでくれない時様に、うちは子供用お散歩リュックも一応持って行きます。特にバイクの多い地域に行ったときや船に乗る時は念のため常備してあります。実良がこれからどんどん歩きたがり、親と離れたがりになってきたらまた持っていくかな、と思ってます。でも二歳頃には落ち着いてくれるかな。新菜は三歳ちかいので結構歩いてくれました。やっぱり普段と違う場所って楽しいんですね。

Menu for Mila's Warung

Borrowed from Mila's Warung FB Page here.

Borrowed from Mila’s Warung FB Page here.
So cute!

Nina Checking out the pricey art scene in Sanur

Nina Checking out the pricey art scene in Sanur

Mila walking in the rain with mom and auntie

Mila walking in the rain with mom and auntie


Trip to Bali (Villa)  バリ旅行(ぷち贅沢プライベートプールビラ)

Happy Holidays! End of the year is quickly approaching and it’s been difficult to keep the blog updated. For the holidays, we did a little trip with my sister and her husband to Bali, since they’ve already been to Singapore several times and wanted to do something different.
The trip was fun, albeit lots and lots of rain. It’s rainy season in Bali, and we did underestimate the rain. We thought it would be similar to Singapore and there would be bits of sun in between the rain. Unfortunately, the days we were there, it just poured ALL day. I didn’t mind as much since I have been to Bali twice before and just wanted some relax time, but I felt bad for my sister and her husband who have limited vacation days. They will be there for another week and I hope they are blessed with better weather.
This was my first time using to find accommodation and it turned out to be a great find. The website works similarly to airbnb, where individuals can list their place for vacation and long stay rentals. It seems like flipkey has more villa type properties than airbnb, but I haven’t actually used airbnb before so this may not be an accurate description. I found a 2 bedroom villa with a pool in Bali, a few minutes’ walk from the beach, for a very reasonable price. If I was to look for that type of villa in a hotel, I would easily cost triple the price.
It was not as close to the beach as we had originally thought, but the villa was beautiful and fully equipped. The owner was able to accommodate our baby needs (cell phone, free wi-fi, car and driver, maid service, baby cot and high chair and as I found on the last day, washer and dryer discreetly hidden) and provide personal support during our stay. They helped prepare a wonderful Christmas dinner for the family for a fee so we could relax at the villa and not worry about getting food, cooking and cleaning afterwards.
There is definitely luck involved. If you have an inattentive owner, you may not be able to reach them and will have no service or concierge to help you get through your vacation. However, since you have some communication with the owner before you book, you can get an idea of how responsive and helpful they will be before you book. There is no option to change once you arrive and you decide you don’t like the place, but we lucked out this time.
At least some of the flipkey listings can be found on Tripadvisor if you need that extra boost of confidence. Here’s the link to the place we stayed for anyone who is interested.

It’s a great way to enjoy vacation if you don’t require all the amenities of a resort, or you don’t mind doing a bit of footwork yourself. We felt like there was a lot of personal attention and it was actually easier than a resort to arrange special needs tailored for our family. Highly recommend it if you are looking for a bit more luxury for a reasonable price. Also, the owner’s personal style is highly reflected in each villa.
I had a little chat with the owner of this place and they make a lot of effort to design and architect each of their rentals and that was clearly reflected. This one had a wonderful mix of Balinese taste and artsy feel to it that felt very homey. A lot of villas are quite sterile and modern and it was fresh to see such a personally designed space. I’m a terrible interior designer/organizer/decorator, so it’s a huge plus to have an opportunity to speak with and enjoy people who have an artistic vision for architecture. The way the owners used colors and patterns at the villa is totally out of my normal comfort zone but it was tastefully done and different, and I loved it. For anyone who’s done all the resorts already and tired of the similar design and space, you should definitely check out this site and see what you can find!




Best vacation nap spot

Best vacation nap spot



Japanese, but a British mommy? 母としての言語はどちら?

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend the other day.  She is Japanese, born and raised, studied in the US for several months as a university student, but otherwise spent most of her life in Japan.  She left Japan 5 years ago after marrying an Australian guy and since then lived in several English speaking countries before moving to Singapore about a year ago.  Her strongest language is Japanese. When we speak, most of our conversation including this one takes place in Japanese.  She is more natural conversing in Japanese, her parents only speak Japanese.  So it was very curious when she said, “I’m not comfortable parenting in Japanese”

We’ve all noticed that she speaks to her two year old daughter in English most of the time, but have never asked why.  It’s just what she does.  Recently, she’s been trying to switch to Japanese because she feels that it is important to boost her daughter’s Japanese language skill.  She’s more comfortable with Japanese anyways….wait, she’s NOT?? Why? Japanese is clearly her dominant language with everything else!

We boiled it down to her preference of parenting style.  She had her daughter in London.  At the time, she had American and British pre-mommy/new mommy friends and some Japanese mommy friends.  All in all, she felt that she related more with the non-Japanese friends on parenting terms.  Additionally when she spoke to her husband about parenting, the conversation took place in English. She read English parenting books and had an English speaking doctor.  All these factors shaped the kind of mother she is.  Her parenting language, despite it not being her first language, became English.  She knew what tones to use when, the appropriate time to switch from gentle to scolding.  She had lost that parenting voice in Japanese in the two years with her daughter. So here is a case where the language didn’t drive her thinking, but her preference drove the language.

What about her mother?  Well, who remembers what your mom really sounded like when you were two? The memories from then are fuzzy at best.  She remembers her mother’s scolding as being is lectures, poignant inquiries that made her think during her teenage years.  That tactic isn’t effective with a toddler.

She’s currently still trying to find her “voice” when speaking Japanese to her daughter, or rather, get more comfortable with hearing herself speak in Japanese as a mother.  She unconsciously flipped her primary and secondary language in such an unexpected way and didn’t even notice for two years!  It’ll be interesting to see how she feels about the whole thing three months from now.


確かにいつも二歳になる娘さんに英語で話しかけてはいたんだけど、まさか裏に日本語がしっくり来ない、という意外な真実があるとは。何故かという話を少しゆっくり聞いてみる事も出来たので、ちょい分析してみると、どうやら子育ての方針に対する考え方とタイミングが原因らしい。彼女は娘さんをロンドンで出産していて、その時の友人はアメリカ人もイギリス人も日本人(もちろんその他にもいたと思うけど、メインのところで)いたけど、子育ての考え方として、基本日本人以外の人の方が自分にあった考えで子育てを実行していると感じたみたい。もちろんここでそれがいいいかどうかは考査しません。人それぞれだし、文化的な考え方の差もあるし、子育てに関してはトライアル アンド エラーでやっていくうちに変わる事も多いので。とにかくその時の彼女の考えは西洋よりだったらしい。しかも旦那さんはオーストラリア人で、もちろん子育てに関しての会話は英語、お医者さんも育児本も英語の環境のなか、彼女にとって子育てに関してだけは主になる言語が英語になってしまって、普通の会話でさえも娘さんと日本語で話しかけるのが自分らしさに欠けてる気がするようになってしまったらしいんです。これって結構衝撃的ではないでしょうか?

例えば “Honey, Come sit here” の方が ”娘ちゃんこっちに座って“というよりしっくりするらしい。正確には、”娘ちゃん、こっちに来て座りなさい“というのか”娘ちゃんこっちに座ったら?“というのか、”娘ちゃん、座ってください“というべきなのか、どのトーンが英語で使ってるトーンに一番近いのか分からない感じ?




TCK – Third Culture Kid 日本語がない!!

TCK – or Third Culture Kid.  I had totally forgotten about this term.  I guess it’s been a while since I’ve considered myself a ‘kid’. As one person appearing in the video below says, I’m a ‘TCA’ – Third Culture Adult now, raising 2 TCKs. As parents, as these college kids’ parents have, we have all sorts of ‘how’ we think about on a daily basis.  Schools? Comfort food?  Language? I never assimilated to a single culture, American or Japanese. Different stages of my life brought me new associations.  TCKs are generally not attached to a location, but to the relationships we’ve built with different people.  We tend to suffer a bit in our youth, trying to find where we belong. As an adult, however, we are comfortable in our own skin and more open to accepting different points of view.  We didn’t have a choice but to accept change growing up, since it usually happened without our consent, so we are well practiced at adapting to sudden resets.  I think most TCKs and TCAs can sympathize with these videos.  Spending waaaaay too much time at the airport and immigration, running out of pages in your passport. We feel different growing up, and at times, that can hurt, especially during adolescence when we feel even more pressured to find a ‘place’ to belong.

Let me not preach about TCKs, that’s been done before.  Google, and you shall find. I want to bring this closer to home for everyone else though.

I’m going to compare what TCKs go through to the life changes that most people experience. When you are a child, your family is most likely your parents, grandparents, caretaker, siblings and cousins. Where they were, your home was. Mom’s Adobo, Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie, Grandpa’s pipes, your sister taking your CD player (oh, how times have changed!).  That’s your home. Then you meet someone, maybe live with them for a bit, maybe even get married.  I bet for most of you, it takes a while to shift your unconscious sense of family to your new partner.  Accepting that your spouse and you are the family unit now.  Your childhood family is still your family, but you have to accept that you have just created a new home that’s got its own boundaries.  Then you have kids.  Holy shit, your boundaries, your identity and your home change.  You may move to a new house, because you no longer fit into that tiny converted 1-bedroom apartment. Your relationship with your spouse will go through some transformation. Your relationship with your own parents change. And then there’s in-laws.  I’m sure I can start a discussion group for people just on that topic and it will continue on and on…and on.  Divorce? Time to find a new home. New priorities, new habits.

Well.  That’s what TCKs experience all their lives. Constantly re-defining that sense of self, getting attached, unlatching, making new priorities, and dealing with new relationships.

Marc was born and raised in NYC.  His family (other than myself and the kids) are in the US and he’s as American as apple pie.  Before moving to Singapore, the furthest he’s lived from home was Boston. And yet, when I turned to him today and said, “Where’s your home?” He said the same thing as these people in the video.  “Well, technically, it’s the US, but we’ve also made a home here, this is where you and the children are.” Funny, I thought I was so special I had my own acronym, then I find out that anyone that’s been through a family and life change can have a similar experience.  So we’re not so special after all!

Sometimes, when your kid is tired of feeling different and feeling homeless, maybe we can just tell them, don’t worry, you’re not so different. Everyone goes through it, you’re just getting a jumpstart on ‘adulthood’  : )    Maybe, even for a moment, we can make them feel like “everyone” else. Sometimes, you need that feeling.

** There’s an online magazine that’s devoted to TCKs, could be an interesting read.

TCK(サードカルチャーキッド)って、日本語で何て書くのかからないんですが、なんかないですかね?考えてるんだけどピタッと来ないわ。うわ~、これは日本語一本で別トピでやった方が良かったのかもしれない。次の一本は翻訳出来ない言葉のリストでも作るべきか。ちょい考えさせて貰います。言葉自身の説明は、幾つか他ブログでやっている方々もいるので、そちらに。みんなカタカナでサードカルチャーキッドって書いてるんだけど、長くて、一般的に使いにくくてあんまりしっくりこないんですよね。 日本で育った外国人の方が暫く前にブログをやられてたみたいですが、やっぱりカタカナで書かれてますね。 この人はビデオでやってますね。もうちょっと最近です。でもやっぱり一言で上手い言葉ないかな~。どなたか思いついたらご一報。 この方はもっと真面目に持論を展開されていらっしゃいます。不真面目な私とは大違いで、参考になるのではないかと。ご自身もTCKであり、二人もTCKを育て、社会学の博士号までお持ちの専門家です。






Who’s Yo Mama

It all started when Nina came home from school one day.  She was playing by herself, singing and laughing. Suddenly, I notice that she’s singing “Yo Mama~~, Yo Mama~~.” I look up and thought, dude, did my 2 year old just sing a Yo Mama joke with me in the room? Where would she pick that up from?  No one in the house makes them, we don’t watch TV. I haven’t even seen a Yo Mama youtube video since I’ve been here, OK, I haven’t watched one for years before that.  I pull Nina aside, give her a short lecture that it’s not a nice thing to say.  She says, “I learn at school.” I’m thinking, Really?  Singaporean Toddlers make Yo Mama jokes? Whatever, no point in questioning her further.

It continues for weeks.  I thought it was a phase, but it’s going longer than my liking.  I know she doesn’t get it, but are the teachers in the day care center addressing this? Is this start of bullying?  OH yeah, paranoid parent thought process kicks in.

So the next day when I go pick Nina up, I’m determined to talk to the teachers.  I approach the door.  I hear it.

“Yo Mama, Yo Baba, Yo Mei Mei”….. HUH?

Yup, it’s their Mandarin class.

They are not saying “Yo”, though that’s what I heard out of my toddler.  They are saying “Wo” or 我. I, me, in this case, “My” Mama.  I think it’s technically 我的妈妈 or Wo De Mama, but 2 year olds don’t necessary bother with the technicalities.

Nina’s teacher, or Lao Shi, pokes her head out and says “Hello, Nina Mommy, are you picking her up?”

Yes I am.  And I promise to leave my daughter alone when she’s practicing her Chinese.   I cracked up at my paranoid self and said sorry to Nina for scolding her.  She didn’t get it and if she ever asks me what I was talking about, I’m showing her this.


Parental Rant END.

My Brood/四人家族

There are four confused language speakers in my family.

Me: I’ve already given my short bio in the beginning, so I won’t bore with another.  One thing to add is that I suck at learning languages.  In 6th grade, I was required to take French when my English was still at an off-the-boat-level.  Well, it showed. My French grade dragged at the bottom of the class throughout high school and I dare not mention I even studied it. You’d think going through years of English boot camp would prepare me to learn a new language.  It did not.
Now, I’m very sheepishly attempting to learn Mandarin and it’s just as sad as when I was in French class. Yes, I should put more effort into using it and expose myself to more Mandarin since it’s available.  I realized I try to learn a language in the worst way possible.  I look at the characters (since Chinese and Japanese share a lot of characters), match the pronunciation, and make flash cards.  Oh, it’s bad.  I am that example of a Japanese middle school student.  I know what I’m doing is wrong, but I don’t know how to amend and do it right.  Well, if I make any progress on this depressing endeavor, I will update.
My English: “Native”, or what I call bitching level.  When you can bitch about your work/life effectively with a group of people and blend in at a bar, you’re fluent.  Some professional level speech, some cursing, some slang, all fused into smooth conversation.  You’re a native and not a business speaker.
My Japanese: I’m still trying to determine where it is.  In conventional terms, I’m a “Native Speaker.”  I’ve worked for a bit in a Japanese business environment, I can read a newspaper, I can have casual and loud conversations with a group of mommies at lunch.  I find my Japanese writing  to be either too formal or too casual, but not quite as frank as my English.  I haven’t found my “voice” when writing in Japanese.  I don’t have that problem with English. I’m a sarcastic, unorganized writer, as I am in person. I’m finding it hard to portray that persona in Japanese. It’s easier for me to hide behind the formality of Japanese writing.
So I don’t know where that stands. Is it the Japanese language that forces me to write in such a manner? Maybe.

Marc: He gets the best hubby and daddy award. He only speaks English fluently, but has some working knowledge of Japanese, French and Latin, in that order. I’m not sure if you can even have a “working knowledge” of Latin, but fair to say he studied some and enjoyed it. He has a knack for learning languages unlike me.

Nina: My almost-3-year-old, still in her semi-demonic stage, but other than the occasional exorcism moment, she’s a good kid. She’s sensitive, sweet, shy, funny and loud all at the same time. She goes to a day care with a bilingual (English and Mandarin) education program full day, 5 days a week and LOVES it. Even asks about her “school” when we are on vacation. We try to do the bilingual household thing where I speak mostly in Japanese and my husband speaks ‘American’ English. But since he understands some Japanese, he reads her books in Japanese. I’m used to using English and I often to end up slipping back into it even when speaking with her, but I’m working on that.
Nina’s English=Singlish. I don’t know if that’s the politically correct term, but her accent is definitely not American, and sometimes, she’s got that “la” thing on the back of her sentences. Her English is generally good. Grammar is still developing, but that’s age appropriate.
Nina’s Mandarin: Mystery. She understands, but doesn’t speak much. When she’s on the spot, apparently she does say something, but it’s limited and we don’t quite know where it’s headed. She was like that a few months ago with Japanese, but she has more exposure during the day to Mandarin, so we’ll see what she picks up. The challenge is also that I don’t quite recognize Chinese coming from her since I’m unfamiliar with it myself. She has also already decided that I’m not a Chinese speaker and adamantly refuses to speak Chinese with me, even if I try.
Nina’s Japanese: Starting to flourish. It helps that my friend introduced me to a really cool program called Douwakan. A children’s book shop owner and some of his associates have devoted time to selecting age appropriate books for children and they can send up to 3 books a month addressed to your child. It’s a bit pricey from abroad (Non-Japan), but I like the books they deliver and Nina looks forward to receiving her monthly gift. I firmly believe that the only reason I was able to keep up my Japanese was because I read a lot of Japanese books growing up, so early exposures to good books for the children is extremely important to me. She has an accent of some sort, can’t quite pinpoint which one it is, between the American and Filipino Japanese accent we have in the house, she’s a bit confused. Both my husband and our helper speak some levels of Japanese and they often speak it with her. I think she’s on the right track, she recognizes those that are Japanese speakers and gravitates towards them.
Nina’s 4th language: Gobbledygook. Nina has another language she speaks or yells, when she’s hyper. Probably a kid thing, but figured I’d include it. Maybe it’s her partial Mandarin, she’s happy when we repeat it, whatever it is.

Mila: She’s our baby. I go easy on her. Not to worry Nina, that will change. She’s just started to walk and she’s facing the challenges of life (i.e. her older sister) and thriving every day. She’s starting to respond to several languages and we are excited to see how her linguistic skills develop.

英語:これはもう一言で言うとネイティブスピーカー。私風に言うと、Bitching Level。つまり仕事・普段の文句をうるっさいバーとかで、愚痴って普通にブレンド出来るレベル。専門職語とグチと普段のだらだらを完全にミックスして喋れる事が条件。ビジネスだけの会話以外でも何でも違和感なくふるまえるレベル。書いていても、違和感なく、TPOに合わせられる。