Spring is Here!

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There’s still a few chilly and rainy days here and there, but in general the warmer weather is finally here and the cherry blossoms have finally bloomed. April marks the beginning of the new school year as well as the time when new hires start at their new jobs. Last week marked Baby J’s first full week at daycare, and this week is my official return to work. I’ve been working on small projects here and there the past six months, but from this month forward I’ll be available again for taking on big translation projects again.

Happily, I’m starting out strong. I’ve already doubled the minimum amount of money I was hoping to make this month while I build up my freelance clients again, and I’ve already got some more work lined up for the month. I’m grateful that I’ve been getting a steady amount of flexible work from this one agency over the past six months, so I hope this trend will continue in the following months as well.

Baby J has been doing great at daycare. She’s now very impatient to go in the mornings, although she still cries when I leave and when she sees me there to pick her up. Or at least, she has been. This morning was the first time she hasn’t cried! I wonder how she will be at pickup, or if she cried after I left. In addition to getting used to drop off and pickup, she eats all of her food and snacks; in fact, I feel like her appetite and how much she eats has only increased since she started going. Also, her naps at daycare have been gradually lengthening from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. They even said that she doesn’t need her pacifier and bear for her naps anymore! Hopefully she’ll be able to take 2-2.5 hour naps there soon. Speaking of naps, she’s definitely dropped her morning nap and is now down to one nap a day. It’s been a bit of an adjustment though, since she’s needed some quiet downtime in her crib even though she doesn’t sleep. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for us as well since we’re used to her only being up for 2 hours in the morning, and now suddenly she’s up for 4 hours or so! Good thing I’ve rediscovered my love for milk tea.

In addition to this nap transition, she’s been gaining a lot of new skills recently. I don’t know if it’s something she’s just started doing on her own, or if she’s learning by watching the other kids at daycare. Now she pushes cars, is close to figuring out how her puzzle toys work, and according to hubby she can now stack the stacking rings toy (whereas up until now she was more interested in eating the rings). She’s also started to drag things with her. This morning she even helped put her shoes on by pressing down the velcro part for me.

In general, I’ve found that following her daycare schedule has been working out for us: Lunch at 11/11:30 depending on how late breakfast was, nap at noon, snack at 3, dinner at 6, bedtime around 8. She’s been consistently waking up at 7:30-8:30 now, though I’ve noticed that she sleeps in until 9 on the occasional night when she wakes up in the middle of the night. Like I mentioned before, it’s been a bit of an adjustment having her up for more hours in the day, but it offers more flexibility on what we can do in the afternoon. Before we never had much time to do much because as soon as she was fed, dressed, and ready to go we’d only have an hour or so until her second nap.

While I don’t quite know what’s up with the one year checkup (I think it might be the “cattle call” kind where they all have to go to the ward office to get checked?), she did have to have an individual checkup for our application to daycare. Baby J is now 28.1 inches and weighs 16 pounds and 7 ounces. She’s still our little peanut, but it’s been amazing being her guide and watching her grow and learn every day.

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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!

A Late Thanksgiving

I know it’s December now, but I’ve been busy so I haven’t had a chance to write about Thanksgiving yet!

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Last year we tried cooking a whole baby turkey in our microwave oven. Despite hours of cooking, we unfortunately ended up with a lot of uncooked meat. It was good but when I saw turkey legs on Amazon I decided to give those a try instead this year since they looked like they would be easier to cook.

Thanksgiving dinner this year came out great! We celebrated on Saturday since hubby had to work on Thursday. I used a recipe I found on Cookpad for the mashed potatoes, and then I used this recipe I found on allrecipes to marinate the legs in mandarin oranges, although the legs already had a pretty smokey flavor to them. I got stuffing and cranberry sauce from Kaldi. With all of the foreigners who live around where we live, I was surprised they still had stuffing.

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Originally for dessert I wanted to make a cheesecake and blueberry pie tart, but I accidentally dropped the tart crust I had bought and Kaldi didn’t have any others. Thankfully, my husband bought a couple of premade cheesecake tarts from a store, and I made the sauce to put on top. It was delicious!

This year I’m grateful for how healthy and beautiful our little girl is, and I’m also grateful for how hard my husband works so that I’ve been able to stay at home with her.

Baby’s Second Cold

Baby had her first cold when she was pretty young and it wasn’t too bad. Recently though, hubby got sick and she caught it. It’s only been just a stuffy and runny nose though, so luckily it’s not too bad. However, a couple of nights ago she woke up a couple of times and was unable to be easily settled by offering to nurse like she normally is. It worried me, and since visiting the doctor is free for her, I decided to schedule an appointment using the automatic phone system that they have for scheduling appointments at her pediatrician.

What happened during the call was a bit unexpected. Right away I had to learn what they called the star key and pound key (komejirushi and sharp key). Aside from that hiccup, the rest of the process was easy enough. The next day we got seen right away during her appointment time. I learned that she’s now 6.6 kg (14 pounds 9 oz). Our little peanut is getting so big!

Ever since her pediatrician realized I can speak and understand Japanese though, he’s only spoken in Japanese to me despite having spoken only English the first time we met. While I don’t mind it (it’s nicer than the people who default to English and stay with bad English even when you’re speaking Japanese to them), it’s a bit frustrating since medical terms aren’t really my forte. Because of this, I had been considering just switching to another pediatrician since the only reason I started going to this one was because he could speak English. But I guess things are ok if I give my explanations in English, and when I didn’t understand a term he told me what it was in English, so that helped and I guess I’ll be sticking with him for now.

Speaking of English speaking doctors, we also had something similar happen when I went with hubby to a clinic back when he caught the flu last year. Since I spoke Japanese, doctor only spoke Japanese and I had to interpret even though I didn’t understand everything. Hubby went back to the clinic for his cold, and it turns out that that doctor does speak English pretty well. So that’s good to know for the future that there’s an English speaking general practitioner at our station.

Anyway, I got medicine some medicine to help her stuffy nose. Getting it into her has been a bit of a challenge though. Also she hasn’t had much appetite for dinner. She’s still really been into her yogurt though, so I’ve been mixing the powdered medicine (Japan sure loves it’s powdered medicine) into the yogurt. A couple days of that, and she’s seeming much better now, although I had to give her some more medicine this morning.

The funny thing is though that despite being sick, she suddenly slept for 5 hour stretches again. I’m not sure if it’s because she was sick, because I lowered the temperature in her room, or if it was just a coincidence. I was feeling like a whole new person! Last night was rough since she was up 3 times by 4:30 am, but then she slept in until about 9. Every night feels like a roll of the sleep dice, but it sure would be nice if the 5 hour stretches of sleep could keep continuing.

May the sleep odds be ever in our favor…