A Little Bakery Called Juin

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While where we live isn’t the most ideal of locations since it’s located on top of a hill in a very hilly area, there is a one advantage to where we live: a little bakery called Juin. It’s run by two kind older ladies, and it’s the perfect place to run to on the weekends or early in the morning when we realize we’re out of toast for breakfast, or just need our pastry fix.

The bakery itself is small, maybe only a couple of people can fit in there at a time. However, they have a nice selection of bread and pastries. There’s even a schedule posted behind the register so you can know when they’ll have fresh loaves of bread ready. Some of the pastries they offer are even shaped like popular characters from kids shows.

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They even offer freshly made seasonal pastries, like the one above. This one is shaped like a cherry blossom with an actual cherry blossom in the center. The filling is cherry blossom flavored anko (red bean paste). Delicious!

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The Quest For Daycare Part 3: The Shopping List

The daycare gave me a list of things that Baby J will need every time she attends. I was missing some of them, so it was time to go shopping!

The list consisted of…

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Shoes since she can walk. Boots and sandals aren’t allowed, so I had to get her some real sneakers! I also got her some new pairs of socks because most of hers have gotten too small. She has pretty tiny feet though, so I imagine these will last her awhile. Even the shoes were 1.5 cm bigger than her feet even though I got her the smallest size, though I know it’s good to give her room to grow!

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A nice fluffy towel-like blanket for naps.

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Two towels for wiping her face with, and another towel with a string for wiping her hands with. They had a variety of characters to choose from. I almost got her some pretty Hello Kitty ones, but in the end I went with her favorite characters, Wan Wan and U-tan from the kids TV show Inai Inai Baa!.

 

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Two bibs and a cup. I got her a couple of new ones because we can’t have too many bibs! I was hoping they would have Inai Inai Baa! ones, but my only options were Hello Kitty and Anpanman, unfortunately.

In addition to the above, I’m also going to have to prepare 3 pairs of clothes and plastic bags for bringing dirty laundry home. The list also mentions formula and bottles, but after being away from her for a long period of time for the first time since October over the weekend, I think she’ll be OK without it (which definitely saves us some money!).

Chicken and Spinach Gratin Recipe

I really need to make this recipe more often! Unfortunately it takes a bit more time to prepare than a lot of my other favorite recipes. This gratin recipe is great on cold days when you want something to warm yourself up with.

I’ve edited the portions of how the original recipe is written on Cookpad a bit to reflect how I usually make it.

Ingredients: (Makes 3-4 servings)

  • 250 g of noodles of your choice
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 2 bunches of spinach
  • Any other vegetables that you would like to add, such as onions or mushrooms
  • About 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups and two tablespoons(450 cc + 30 cc) of milk
  • 1 chicken flavored bouillon cube
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • As much shredded cheese as you want (sliced cheese works too)

Directions:

  1. Boil the pasta and put it into a separate bowl for later.
  2. Cut the vegetables and chicken into bite-size sizes. Boil the spinach.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180º C (360º F) if you’re using a regular oven. If you’re in Japan and using the oven function in a microwave like we do, preheat to 190ºC.
  4. Season the chicken with some salt and pepper. Heat up a small bit of oil in a pot and cook the chicken.
  5. After the chicken becomes a cooked color, add two teaspoons of butter and any other vegetables you plan to include aside from the spinach. Cook well and then add another 3 tablespoons of butter.
  6. After the butter has completely melted, turn off the heat and add in the flour.
  7. Once the flour has covered everything, turn the heat back on and mix them all together.
  8. Add two cups (450 cc) of milk and the bouillon cube in. Stir until it gets thick. If you were frying the the previous steps in a pot, then just add all this on top of the fried stuff.
  9. Add another two tablespoons of milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta and spinach into the pot, and mix them all together.
  10. Butter a baking pan, and then pour the contents of the pot into the pan. Use as much cheese as you want on top. I like to pile it on!
  11. Bake in the oven until the cheese turns golden. It takes about 20 minutes uncovered for me, but I’m sure it’d be much faster in a real oven.

The Quest for Daycare Part 2: The Interview

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I had been anxiously awaiting this interview part of the process for the past few weeks. Although they called it an interview, it was more like an info session. Before the interview, I had to make sure to fill out a form and I had to make a copy of Baby J’s latest checkup. The form wasn’t too difficult, though I was embarrassed about my terrible handwriting. I think she was relieved to see that my language skills are high enough to be able to read and write in addition to speaking, since she spoke to me at her natural pace.

When we first went in I could see the people in the office gathering around the window and probably commenting about how cute Baby J is. I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit about one woman who covered her mouth with both hands in awe.

I was greeted at the door and then brought into their office, which was pretty hot. I had to keep Baby J on my lap the whole interview, which became a bit of a challenge as time went on. The lady brought some toys though, which was entertaining for J for a little while. However, for the most part J was more interested in the clear file that I brought to hold the documents I prepared. The lady went over the details on the paper I was given explaining the daycare and then showed the specifics of what types of things I need to pack for her each time she attends. She then asked about J’s daily schedule and eating. It turns out that she’s considered stage 4 (kanshoku) for solids, which is the last stage. Yay!

Unfortunately, there’s ten people on the waiting list. Not sure if that includes us or not, so a spot for us might not open up until the end of March if at all. In the meantime I can try my luck each month at securing a spot in their “emergency daycare” program. But first we have to have a trial run at the daycare. The lady scheduled us for the required half-day trial run next Thursday.

I was a bit surprised to hear that this daycare doesn’t accept breastmilk though since they don’t have a refrigerator. I gave up on pumping months ago so it’s not such a big deal, but this might mean that I’m going to have to buy some formula. I’ve started introducing her to cow’s milk, but so far she’s not impressed. I hope I can get her more interested in cow’s milk soon so we can avoid the cost of formula.

In the meantime though, I’m going to have to go shopping for all of the things Baby J will need! Hopefully it own’t be too expensive. I think I need to buy labels that I can stick onto her belongings too.

I Did It! I’m Parenting!

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Oops!

Our apartment isn’t that big, but we have had to put in some effort to baby proof it by reorganizing furniture. Most of the area that Baby J has access to is a “yes” space, and we usually just remove the small things that we don’t want her getting into. As such, we don’t put too many limits on her as far as the space she can explore.

However, our bedroom is a different story. We have outlets filled with plugs, some of which can be removed and some that can’t. It’s a pain to have to unplug and replug in things that we don’t don’t want her getting into every day. So, I’ve taken to trying to teach her that she can’t play with power plugs, despite how enticing they might be.

As one would expect, this hasn’t been the easiest of tasks. I’m trying to follow RIE parenting, so trying to teach her that she can’t play with power plugs has involved much physical blocking and repeatedly telling her: “I won’t let you touch that. It’s dangerous.” One time we even had a stand-off where she kept trying to grab for a plug about ten times. When it clicked that I wasn’t going to budge, she started crying. I emphasized with her (“You’re upset that I won’t let you touch the plug even though you want to play with it.”) and after some comfort from nursing, she was off on her way again to play with something else in our bedroom.

I’ve had to repeat the blocking a few times since then, but then the other day something different happened. She looked at the plug and was about to reach for it when I called her name. She stopped and looked up at me. I was standing a few feet away when I warned her: “I won’t let you touch that. It’s dangerous.” She looked back the plug and looked to be considering touching it. So I warned her again. To my surprise, she gave up on the plug and went to play on my futon.

Eventually, she made her way to the other power plug she’s not supposed to touch in the opposite side of the bedroom. I warned her again that she can’t touch it, and even more surprising than what happened just a few minutes before was the fact that she gave up immediately and crawled over to me with a smile on her face! I once read something along the lines that said that babies like having limits because it shows that someone is in control of the situation. I didn’t really buy it at first but now I have to wonder.

And then the next morning, the door to our bedroom was open so in she went to go greet daddy. She looked at the plug, considered it for a second, and then crawled on by without giving it a second thought. Success!

I know she’ll probably go after it again when she feels up to testing again, but for now I can’t help but feel proud of us both.

New Glasses

There isn’t anything more that Baby J loves than to steal our glasses and play with them. I wasn’t expecting her to break them though! I’ve been overdue for a new pair (I think I had that pair for like five years?), but the kind of vocabulary that would be related to glasses isn’t covered in Japanese class, so I’ve been a bit nervous about actually getting new ones. The whole process wasn’t too painful, thankfully.

I regretfully didn’t buy the Sailor Moon frames that a store called JINS released last year, so I decided to had to look around for another kind (though I’m waiting for them to announce this month or next month that they’re making new kinds of Sailor Moon frames…). A friend recommended Zoff, so I took a look at their website to get an idea of what kind of frames I may find. My attention was immediately grabbed by the advertisement for their Disney Collection Princess Line. Of course I checked out Ariel first and was immediately struck by how perfect they were!

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Even the little details were perfect! I loved the pearls. They are a lot redder in person than they appear online though, which made me hesitate when I was in the store, since I thought they would be a bit pinker. There’s also a gray version (“basic color”), but I wasn’t a fan of that. I almost bought the Jasmine glasses instead. In the end, I decided on going with the Princess color ones, as seen above.

I had gone on the weekend, so they were pretty busy. The sign by the entrance said it would take an hour for glasses to be ready. I was expecting it to be at least a half hour, so I made sure to bring something to read while I waited. I brought the frames I picked out to the front and they had me sign in using their iPad. I was surprised that the form was available in multiple languages, which leads me to think that maybe their stores in places like Tokyo have bilingual people working at them? The staff member who assisted me did not, however.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for the eye exam. I had heard from hubby that the eye exam might be the letter C going in different directions and I might have to say which direction it’s going in, but it was different from that. First they had me look into one machine that automatically adjusted itself, then I was seated at another machine where I was first shown something on the screen, and was asked which side was easy to read or if they were about the same. Next I was asked to read hiragana. They weren’t strings of multiple letters like I remember doing for eye exams in the States, but just a single hiragana character per line.

After the eye exam was done, I was shown a sheet and asked which options I’d like for the glasses. They had things such as making the lenses be thinner and therefore weigh less on the sheet. Hubby has glasses with transition lenses and I always thought those were pretty neat since you didn’t need a second pair of glasses. I saw online that the price for them was only 3,000 yen, so I jumped at the opportunity since it was so cheap. I think it’s not a very popular option though since the staff member seemed a bit surprised. I guess it might not be popular since you can’t leave the same day with the glasses. He told me it would take three days for them to be ready. That was fine with me! I had already been dealing with using my broken glasses for a few weeks at that point, and I decided that I could go a couple of extra days without new glasses.

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Coming home from shopping on a windy, snowy day.

It was well worth the wait! I felt like I had never seen so clearly in my life when I put them on. They had to adjust the way they fit a couple of times though, and I’m afraid I might have to go back for them to adjust them again. But the discomfort I still feel might be because these glasses are much heavier than my old ones. I think they’re very cute though!

As a bonus, it looks like the glasses are anti-glare too! In the end, my new glasses cost about 12,000 yen (about $105). Not bad!