Tag Archives: parenting

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。


















Birthday Party: Mila is 4. It’s Rainbow and Hearts Time!  実良、4歳のお誕生日会(保育園)


Mila’s Birthday Cake. She saw it and immediately screamed, “MY BIRTHDAY CAKE!!” It’s your day, whatever you say!

Mila turned four this year and we have lots to celebrate!  I’m skipping around on the birthday posts since I’m organizing as I’m prepping for more.  This year, Mila didn’t want a book party, she wanted to have a “Hearts and Rainbow” party. Whatever the lady says goes.

In Singapore, it’s near impossible to find any rainbow themed party stuff.  Not even my trusted Daiso had much options.  So I turned to google and found some cute games  for a Rainbow party.  Took some ideas and added my own. Yup, I’m Japanese, when in doubt, turn to Origami.  It always saves the day.

So it came down to combination of two games.

Rainbow Race and Rainbow Punch Pinata looked simple enough that even me, the biggest klutz can make them. Take a look at the pictures for the how to on the bottom. I did most of the arts and crafts with the origami so the colors stayed consistent throughout.

We had to plan the party with 10 kids so we kept everything simple.  The Rainbow Race was a big hit and the kids played several extra rounds of it.  It helps that there is no clear winner.

Whoever finished the rainbow race and reached the other side first got to punch one hole in the pinata and get a toy.  We did two rounds of the Rainbow race/punch pinata.  Once the kids had the toys, that became their party favor.  All the kids were happy with the toys because of the element of surprise!

The whole party including the games was about an hour and a half and it took a bit of time for the teachers to calm the kids down.  They got to play few extra rounds of the Rainbow Race before getting back to their lessons.

Mila found her own cake when we passed by a cake shop.  She squealed, “Rainbow cake!  M&M cake! Oh please can I have that cake for my party!!” So that was it.  Ordered. The day of, they apparently had trouble getting M&Ms on the day of and had to run out to buy some, but all worked out well.


They have a shop in Liang Court and J-Cube but will deliver if you order over $60. It’s not too bad as far as birthday cake goes!
Happy Birthday My Little Princess!












The Rainbow Pinata starts with a poster board, exacto knife and a rice bowl.




Then comes the Origami papers in the back.  The origami paper is harder to punch than the tissue paper recommended, so right before the party, I added some cross cuts so the kids can easily puncture them.



Once the holes are covered, add the toys in a brown paper bag and stick them on the back of the holes so the kids can easily pull them out.  Each child got a chance to punch two holes and the toys they received were placed in the bag and became their favor.



The Heart Bunny Origami appeared in two places.  One is as a decoration for the cake plate and the other as pieces for the game.  The game pieces got the little googly eyes for some extra cuteness.



The Rainbow Race is super simple.  Everyone chooses one of six colors (more than one  kid can have the same color) I roll the dice of colors and you get to move up one spot if you get your color.  Whoever reaches the other side of the paper gets to go punch the pinata.  Then come back and rejoin the game.  I had prepared two rounds of pinatas so it was really hard to know who finished first.  That made it more fun for the kids.




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?