Category Archives: Duel

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。


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.









The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt – Managing emotions with color 子供にお勧めの本 簡単な英語で感情と色を重ねる本

Our gentle Nina is a sensitive soul and often struggles with emotions running like a tornado through her head.  We’ve been working with her to express her feelings so that we can help her put things into perspective, but she still struggles to simply describe how she feels.  Her vocabulary is still pretty limited and she can’t fully verbalize what she is experiencing.

To help, I ordered a book from the US called “The Rainbow Book” by Kate Ohrt.  I had first read about it here.  I’ve always been fascinated by paper cutouts.  I also like the idea of associating colors with simple yet descriptive words to help children identify their feelings when they get hit by that emotional tidal wave.

What I love about this book is that all the words are positive.  For example, in the kids movie Inside Out, Anger is the red square guy.  In this book, however, red is associated with “fiery” and “bold” instead of “angry.” So I had the chance to talk to Nina about exactly how she felt about her first day of school, or after a fight with Mila.

Once I introduced her to the book, I’ve also used the colors as somewhat of a booster for her to calm herself down.  When Nina started her new school, she was nervous.  No surprise there.  She wanted us to stay with her.  Instead, I gave her a blue “diamond” from her toy box to take with her to school to keep in her pocket.  In the book, blue is described as “calm and peaceful” and I told her that when she feels nervous, angry, or lonely, she should squeeze the diamond, think calm thoughts and imagine the color in her head.

First day, she told me it didn’t help.  She kept squeezing the diamond, but it didn’t do anything.  I told her, well, if you don’t need it, then that’s good, but keep it handy so that when you do, it’s there.  She kept taking it to school.

One day, on our way back, she said, “Mommy, today, in the afternoon, I felt really angry.  This kid said mean things to me.  Then I tried to find the diamond, but it was in my other shorts (pocket). But then, I tried to think think think of blue and calm and breathe and I felt better!”

Now, when she’s angry or nervous or, in fact, when I’m angry, she’ll come to me and say, “I want to be blue, I like blue.” Then both of us can take the time to calm down ’cause you know what, sometimes, it’s me that needs that reminder and not her.  I’m the one seeing red and I need to remember that somewhere, I’ve got blue in me.

I’m always looking for new ways to communicate with my kids other than throwing sarcasm and crass comments – it’s who I am, and it ain’t gonna change.  If you are one of those parents that just need a different way to communicate with your child, then this book is a great way to introduce emotional concepts in an easily-relatable form.



でも子供と歩み寄ろうとする気持ちはあるよ、もちろん。ただ素敵ママにはなれないってだけ。そしてどんなママでもきっと子供とシェア出来る、と自信を持ってお勧めするのが、The Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt。残念ながら、現時点では日本語訳は出てないようです。が、簡単な英文で描かれているし、何より見てて落ち着くし、目に楽しい本なので、素敵ママにも英才教育ママにもおススメ。


例えば、赤を感情で表す、というと、恐らく最初に浮かぶのは「怒り」”Anger”だと思うのですが、この本では、あえて “Bold”「大胆、勇敢」と”Fiery” 「激しい、気性の荒い、という意味合いもあるが、情熱的のようなプラスな意味もある」と、「怒り」のようなマイナスイメージの言葉に収めていないのがいいところ。




子供にもすんなり受け入れられる本なので、応用も出来ます。新菜が新しい学校を始めた時、やはり色々な不安、興奮、など感じているのは分かるのだけど、どうしてあげればいいのか、私も戸惑っていた時。お守りとして、おもちゃの青いダイアモンドを渡して、The Rainbow Bookにあったよね、青は平和な気持ち、落ち着いた気持ちになれる色だよね、だから不安になる事があったら、ダイアモンドをギュッと握って、青い色を思い浮かべてごらん、と言って送り出しました。











本については、こちら (英語オンリー)


The “Red” Page from the Rainbow Book by Kate Ohrt


Nina’s “diamonds” she takes to school



Mila’s favorite, “Pink” page


Name and Multilingualism レタスちゃん?三か国語で子育て:名前編

In January, Nina started at a new daycare center.  So far, so good.  Few days ago, when I was picking her up, I noticed the teachers call her something different.  She didn’t seem to mind, she just responded.  I was wondering if it was a nickname or something.

Then I realized, the teachers were calling her Xin Cai -New Vegetable

As I wrote about here, Nina has a kanji to her name, 新菜。In Chinese, it is pronounced Xin Cai.  Hmm…now what.  Technically, there’s nothing wrong with what the teachers are doing.  Is it a weird name though?

I asked the Chinese teacher and she thought it was fine.  As a name, she kind of shrugged her shoulders and said, sure, it’s not traditional, but there’s so many characters that can be used it’s not like you would know she was being called “New Veggie.” If Nina cared, they can give her different characters.

Hmm….we named her Nina, so we prefer that she was called Nina. Nina then turned to me and said, “I don’t mind.  I like Xin Cai”


Well, I guess if you don’t mind and no one is making fun, then why not.  I asked her to let me and the teachers know if you decide that you would rather not be called Xin Cai and left it be.

Ah, the drama of too many languages and different meaning of the same characters.


あれ、もうニックネームとかついてんのかな~、と思って耳を澄ますと、どうやら、新菜の漢字をそのまま中国語で Xin Cai と読んでるっぽい。え、でも、それって、中国語だと、そのまま新しい野菜、って呼ばれてるよね。そこんとこどうなんだろ。からかわれたりしないかな、と思って中国語の先生に聞いてみると、ま、ちょっと変わった名前だけど、別に呼ばれたって漢字が分かるわけじゃないから大丈夫、なんだったら同じ読みの違う漢字を使う?と。気楽な返事が返ってきた。

うーん、読み方変えて、更に漢字変えたら名前の意味ないじゃーん。せっかく色々考えて名前つけたのに。(名前に関してはこちら)という一人ツッコミは無視して、新菜、ってもともと日本語の名前でニイナって読みだからそっちにしてもらって、いいかしら、と聞いてみてるところに本人、「私Xin Caiでいいよ」と。