November 2009 Archives

thumb sucking

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If anyone follows our pictures of T, or hangs out with her for a minute, you'll know she's an avid thumb-sucker. We've known for a while that there will be a time when we need to force her to quit her lovely thumb. But in addition to being a comfort to her, along with blankie, the thumb is now quite a habit. She will agree to try and stop sucking while we read her a book at bed time, for example, but the thumb will head to her mouth until I say, "eh?" She's unconscious of her sucking. So we have a challenge ahead of us for sure. It's not just encouraging her to leave a comfort from babyhood, but also to break an addiction. [I use addiction as I've read how this habit can become so addicting that dentists install awful contraptions in older kids' mouths to force them to stop by making the thumb not fit in the mouth via the contraption - I'd rather push T now than face that!]

For a while, T and I had some mini-battles where I'd force her to stop for a bit. I'd take blankie away, or other things. But that was just sad. She was unhappy, and I was unhappy at making her so unhappy. To see her try and be frustrated made me want to figure another way.

I sat her in front of the mirror and showed her my teeth, then hers. The dentist already pointed out that her teeth are being pushed outward slightly. If stopped now, her mouth would go back to normal, but if not, she'll need braces, just like I had. This morning driving her to preschool, she got upset when I pushed her to not suck during the ride. I was strict. This afternoon, when I picked her up, I didn't say anything, feeling I had pushed enough for one day, so when she sucked her thumb in the car, I let it go. But she knew I saw her. And you know what she said? "Mama, I'm pushing my teeth in." Broke my heart.

So I'm going the positive route now. Meaning, I told her I'd buy her a giant present when she stopped sucking her thumb. She didn't come up with what she wanted, but she did say a party, like her birthday party. Maybe the word "present" reminded her, but she went on to recall her tea birthday party, including details about daddy taking her to the park (while mama prepped), then the nap (mama's requirement), how we decorated, then the people at the party. Clearly, her party still resonates with her which thrills me to bits. She not only remembers but cherishes it. That was the goal! Anyhow, now we're talking about throwing her a big party when she stops sucking her thumb...and she seems quite pleased about this.

Instead of scolding her and making her upset, I just have to say, "you want that party?" and she stops (for a bit). Of course she'll point out she's stopped whenever she's not sucking, but I try to explain she needs to stop 3 weeks and then forever, but I'm happy we found a goal that inspires her. Hmmm, gotta pull off another party someday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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I used to not really care about Thanksgiving, having not really grown up with it, but after these many years, I do enjoy coming together with friends and family to eat a nice meal. When I have hosted, it's always been very non-traditional, more Japanese. I now love the cozy feeling of this holiday, between Halloween and Christmas. It does encourage a pause to appreciate family, friends, and good health. Tis the season of merry-making!

This year, we're lucky enough to be invited to 2 different traditional meals. Last weekend was up in Russian River at Nik's. Boy, was that fun! We all dressed up - M and me were cheesy prom gals. After the meal, we spent most of the time making music. We even practiced and recorded one song since Nik can really play the guitar (I just hummed in the background).

music.jpg pic from Pixiemakers' Pre Tday set.

Today we are off to Alameda for more turkey. I must say, I'm loving not having to do much! Our friends just bought a cute house in Alameda so this will be a nice house-warming too.

Nihonmachi Little Friends fundraiser

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Dav and I went to a fundraiser sushi dinner at Tesla's preschool NLF the other night. We paid for a ticket, and I also volunteered to bring inari sushi. There was a professional sushi maker too. I decided to go to show our participation in the school activities, but didn't realize the depth and meaning of the fundraiser. I'm so happy we went; I was almost brought to tears during their presentation because it represented such a historical and longstanding community in Japantown. I never knew NLF was way more than just an awesome preschool.

This fundraiser was part of a long effort to purchase and renovate a historical building that is 1 of the 2 buildings the school is in. The fundraising started in 2002, and is close to meeting their $2.2 million goal, with the last bit for renovating a real Noh stage that the kids currently play on! Most of the people there were community members/organizers for many years. We were totally new, and later found out that it was rare that first year parents participate so the staff had been happy we came. I was too. I was frankly very inspired by all these people, both parents and alum, who worked together so hard for this history.

I had chosen NLF because I wanted Tesla to speak Japanese and learn Japanese traditions, and the minute I walked in the classroom for a tour, I fell in love. But this fundraiser made me aware how central this preschool is to Japantown, and how it brings in new generations.

The rows of sushi. The Noh stage that will be renovated as fundraiser contributors were honored. Click to see details.
Historical pictures of the building. The childcare scene while us adults had dinner. Tesla was so excited we were going to dinner at "her preschool" but was disappointed when she realized she didn't get to join. Luckily some of her classmates were there, but she still spent some time sulking on the lap of one of the caregivers.

I miss kotasu

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I grew up with kotatsu; it's such a symbol of winter in Japan, and it's very family-intimate. Basically, the whole family hangs around this warm blanket table all season long whether you are doing homework, eating dinner, reading, sewing, playing games, or just hanging out. It's the warmest part of the house. My grandparents had the kind where you could open a tatami mat to reveal a lower level, place the heating element, and sit as in a chair with your butt on the floor (legs under the floor level). This is traditional. More modern houses have just flat tatami, and that's not as comfortable for hours of sitting on the floor, but modern houses are way more insulated so there is less need to sit constantly around the kotasu, especially since the invention of heated rugs.

I recently ran across this blog post where Tokyo Kawaii posts about kotatsu, and included the perfect cartoon about it. It's Sazae-san, a comic and cartoon I totally grew up with so much that my cats, Wakame and Katsuo, are the younger sister and brother combo in this series. Everyone knows what I refer to when I share my kitties' names : ) If you think Wakame's hair cut is funny here, well, it was standard; my mom had that when she was small too. The series shows such a lovely (if not idealized) snippet of showa happy family life. You'll hear lots of "samui" which means cold (Tesla knows that word!)

The cartoon is about kotasu, and how everyone huddles around it, never wanting to leave. It brings family members close together. The intro song brings back memories since I heard it so many times. I love their traditional house with the fusuma (sliding doors), although the gender roles portrayed are quite traditional too. I agree with Tokyo Kawaii that Japanese modern houses are less freezing, but there's no central heating so small heating units are still key. Kotatsu is environmentally friendly and maybe the way of the future since central-heating is so wasteful. Either way, for me, it's such a symbol of winter, warmth, and family cuddling. In my ideal house, I'd have a tatami room with a giant table for meals, with the kotasu option. Even now, although we have a sofa and dining table, in evenings with friends, I tend to up on the floor.

Tesla's play

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Tesla loves playing/reenacting preschool now. She plays the sensei while Dav and I are the kids. Just today, after we all got home, we played, and this is what we did:
  • went to the classroom (her room)
  • pretend washed our hands with her tricycle handles
  • had snack time (alphabet letters that were fruit and crackers) - we had to say itadakimasu at the beginning, "more please" for seconds, and "gochisosama" at the end
  • clean-up time
  • pretend bathroom time where we had to stand in line for our turn
  • mama went to work and said bye-bye to her baby (Dav) while Dav held onto blankie and pretended to miss me
  • Tesla the teacher comforted him
  • Then suddenly I was a student again, and we had a Field Trip - Dav and I holding hands, T leading leading us to the living room to pet a pillow, then back

Was fascinating to peek into her day via play. We have our first parent-teacher meeting tomorrow and already have a written letter of all the stuff she's learned and does. The teachers are just amazing to me in all the details they care for- fun play, skills to learn, building confidence & friendships - I can see T blooming. I LOVE T's preschool!!!

Dogs with personality

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Believe it or not, I grew up as a dog person. My best soul mates were Becky and Jenny. I got cats in grad school since I lived where they wouldn't allow dogs but would allow cats. And I really enjoy living with non-human beings, so I got cats. I went to the pound for a cat, but found brother Kats protecting Waka the runt, so I brought them both home. Now, my dream is to have a dog once again, but always with cats. I'm totally smitten by cats.

Anyway....I met this wonderfully cool dog today, waiting for his master at Whole Foods. T barely noticed, but I did!

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In contrast, T's Mr. WanWan is awesome on his own. Yes, he's a stuffed one, but he's so perfect in the way that we can dress him up, make him sit, style his hair/ear (T puts her hair thingys on him), etc. He's the perfect do-as-T-says-Wanwan. Even when he's left behind by T, he still is has personality. Like this one. Drama queen Wanwan.

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Jack and me

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This was from summer...quite a while ago, and I forgot Jeremy had sent this to me. I love it for the contrast in height, and coordination in color (that was by chance). We met Jack, a.k.a. Mayor of Treasure Island, via the Regenbogens. Looking forward to his annual party which I've heard is one of the best!

p.s. my shoes have a little platform but doesn't appear to make much dif...

Wakame, my furry baby

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I haven't blogged about my furry buddies in quite some time. They're still a part of our family and sleep snuggled with me every night. I love them to bits, but they pretty much sleep all day, and with Tesla around, they don't get much camera time.

However, I do have some rather sad news. Wakame is alive and well...but was just diagnosed with diabetes. This was a huge surprise since her brother Katsuo is more chubby than she is, and I always thought it would be he to first have issues. I know he has a heart murmur even though it hasn't caused anything yet. In any case, they are getting old.

About a week ago, Waka threw-up at night, and that morning spent 15 minutes drinking water non-stop. I knew something was up and guessed what it might be according to the internet. I went to work, planning to call the vet to make a weekend appointment. But on the phone, the vet rattled off so many other possibilities, and made it seem urgent so I made an appointment for the next morning. I was concerned though, that I had left poor Waka suffering at home that day. Luckily, our fab friends/neighbors work at home, so I called Jeremy and asked him to go over and check. Not only did he check and confirm she was fine, but he pet her until she meowed to me over the phone. Now that's some nice caring!

I now have special food for her, and give her insulin shots twice a day. I am trying to be very practical about this; I've always vowed and prepped myself that should my kitties get sick, I'd focus on relieving pain, but would not do prolonging, expensive care such as chemo or operations. What a strange spot I find myself in now since diabetes isn't that bad. It's not super expensive to give her these shots, so I'm doing it, and she already appears much better. Of course having to give 2 shots a day makes it more complicated to travel and do all the stuff we are used to. And her condition makes it more likely she will have some other complication. So I am talking myself through this new situation, preparing myself for much harder decisions I'm going to have to make.

For now, I have her, and I'm treasuring all the petting, meowing, sitting together time I get with both Waka and Kats. Sigh...this is the hard part with pets. I'm sure I got lots more time with both of them, but not forever which is something I've pushed out of my mind for many many years.

From the Haunted House

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This is the best pic I took. The rest are from the pros, Jeremy and Elida. I know they got really good shots...so I'll link once they are up. But isn't this the cutest? Fia, T, and Firefly, running around together so happy in the garage dance area that was the end of the scary walk-through.

Tesla had abandoned her witch hat and her green face makeup slowly faded by this time.

Here is green witchy me:

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Update: here are Jeremy's pics.

Update2: Elida got me brewing my witch brew. But I realize now how off my green skin was to the nose. Totally unbelievable in light! At night, I think I got away with it but the pics show how bad/inexperienced I am with this. This is a little better, but need to do the neck for sure. Next year, I shall be perfectly gory!

Great shots of other gory stuff. And simply a neat pic of Dav here. All thanks to Super Elida.