Category Archives: Mommy Topics

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.








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)」










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。









My Brood, Our New Addition in 2016   家族について、ハーフの子供の名付け


2016 was another big year for us; we welcomed a new member to our brood.  Baby boy (LAST baby, this time, really, no, seriously) Luca.  We are officially outnumbered.  The photo?  All the babies at one week old.  I’m gonna have trouble explaining which photo belongs to which child later in life….

One of the difficulties of being a multicultural family, speaking several languages and having multiple identities starts before the baby even arrives.

How do we name our kids?

Especially when you have languages, such as Japanese and English, where the naming conventions are completely different. We also live in an English and Chinese speaking country.

At least with the girls, it was a little bit easier.  There’s a greater variety of girl names, especially in Japanese, and the rules are fairly flexible.  I insisted on a few things when we named our girls.

  1. They must have Kanji associated with their name
  2. The Kanji must give meaning to the name
  3. Anyone should be able to pronounce the name

And the bonus challenge, the Kanji in their name must link to the season they were born in.

Yeah, I made this harder for us than it needed to be.  Really.

So here’s the summary of the sisters’ names.

Nina(新菜) – Yes, new and green.  In Chinese, new vegetable.  Well, I hadn’t accounted for the Chinese use of Kanji.  As she was born in January, in the dead of winter, we named her “coming spring”. Nina is also a popular name in Marc’s family (his grandmother and two cousins), so this made perfect sense.

Mila (実良) – 実 is harvest. 良 is good.  There.  Good harvest.  In case there was any confusion, she was born in the fall.   We also applied the grander meaning of “harvest” to her name, since, as parents, we wish her to have a fulfilling life.

And here’s the boy.  There are not that many boy names that work in both Japanese and English. Honestly, I just couldn’t get into finding boys names.  So I left Marc to think about it for a while.  He came up with Noah.

Strangely enough, I liked the name Noah in English, but once I said it in Japanese (yes, with a Japanese accent, the only difference) I didn’t like it.  Sorry to all the half Japanese Noahs out there.  I know there are many of you, but it’s just a personal preference.   I tried to apply Kanji to Noah, then got depressed.  I prefer to use very simple kanji for names and not make it too complicated, and I couldn’t really find ones that appealed to me.

For some odd reason, “Noah” as a name is a recent import to Japan and has somehow been adopted as a more of a girl’s name.  The sound, I suppose, feels more feminine in Japanese.

After struggling with it for a while, we came up with Luca.  Another girl name only in Japan.  It’s apparently a very anime sounding name as well.  In fact, when I google it, a Final Fantasy character pops up. Well, I gotta see beyond that. I needed a name, and I needed it soon.

A more popular version of the English name Luca in the US would be Lucas or Luke.  Just so you can make the joke, “Luke, I am your Fatheeeerrrr” “NOOOOOOO!”

….Marc makes the joke anyway.

So it came down to the Kanji. Can we match Kanji to the name?  I ended up coming up with what actually fit in with the rest of my brood.


Neither Kanji is  commonly used.  琉 actually doesn’t really stand on it’s own and neither does 禾. So why use it?  Here’s the simplified reason. 琉 is the same character as 瑠.  They are just variations that developed over time.  瑠璃 is the only historical use of the Kanji, and though there are several theories on what 瑠璃 means, it is linked with lapis lazuri, which is a blue stone.   In Japan, it also stands for the September birth stone.  Wow, what are the chances?

“Ca” was particularly difficult and nothing really came to me. I actually didn’t know the character 禾 until my mother brought it up.  I looked it up and found that it means “rice crop”. The Kanji symbolizes the rice crop, heavy and ready for harvest.  OK, another seasonal term.  Perfect.  So put together, you get “September Harvest/Blessing”.  I was sold.  I pitched the spiel to Marc. He agreed that it worked, though he did think I let my personal predicament of having gestational diabetes, living the life without my favorite carb (RICE), affect how we named our son.

Marc did seem to like Noah better, but he couldn’t come up with the Kanji.  We also pitched the name to the girls (Their favorite was Christopher Robin Sky – from Winnie the Pooh and Sky, which is the name of a kid they play with in the playground) and between Noah and Luca, they preferred Luca.

Sure, right now, at 3 months, he looks more like “Konishiki – the Sumo baby” than “Luca”, but we like it.  So there.







  1. ファーストネームとミドルネームで日本語と英語(第二か国語)の名前を分ける
  2. 日本語と英語(第二か国語)両方で発音しやすい名前をつける
  3. 日本では日本ごの国籍を作り、まったく別の名前を第二か国語の名前でつける
  4. 言語の事は置いておいて、親が選んだ名前をつける。あまりハーフだから、とこだわらずにつける、という事ですね。