Spring is Here!

IMG_7567

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.

The Quest for Daycare Part 4: The Saga Continues

img_7176

If she fits, she sits.

Last week allergies were really getting me down and I’ve been busy with work, so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write very much recently.

It’s been over a week now since Baby J had her half-day at daycare. It did not go very well, but that’s no surprise. My neighbor has watched her a couple of times, but that’s about the extent that she’s been away from her daddy and me. She cried the whole time and didn’t eat very much. No wonder they charge the same amount as a full day!

Since we got that half-day out of the way, that made us qualified to make reservations for they refer to as emergency daycare (kinkyuu hoikuen). They take reservations for daycare spots for the following month on the fourth Monday of every month. There’s a lot of competition for it and I wasn’t sure if I had a chance at getting through the line. In fact, it took me calling over 150 times to get through! Thank goodness the redial button is just a tap away now, but I really wish I had an app or something that would auto-redial.

I was actually really surprised when I heard the phone ringing. When they picked up I asked how many days they had open still and it turns out that they only had 5 days with a spot available left for the whole month of March! Wow! Even though they were on days I wasn’t really I wonder if we got the very last spots for the month. They’re not the most ideal days, but some days throughout the whole month are better than none.

I was glad we got those days for March. Honestly I didn’t think we had much of a chance to get in for part time daycare since there were ten people waiting in front of us. So, I thought that would be the end of the saga for now.

Imagine my surprise though when I got a call from the daycare on March 1st telling me that they have space for us three times a week! Maybe it’s because I said my days were flexible? Starting in April, Baby J will be attending daycare on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays! Since she wasn’t too happy her first time at daycare, they want to make her second time there a half day too. I’m kind of afraid they’re going to make all five days this month a half day so she can get used to it slowly. It’s a good idea, but I had been looking forward to having whole days to focus on work stuff. Hopefully Baby J will adjust quickly and learn to have fun with her new friends though.

Her second half-day at daycare will be tomorrow. Good luck to us!

The Quest for Daycare Part 2: The Interview

img_6995

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.

The Quest for Daycare Part 1: The First Steps

There’s nothing more in the world that I hate more than calling a place. Which makes it all the more nerve wracking when I have to do it in a foreign language! I’ve been putting it off due to this anxiety, but a job opportunity came up that prompted me to finally start getting things into motion.

Since my last post, I managed to find a stamped copy of last year’s tax return (which I had been afraid I didn’t receive because I never thought I’d need it for something), and so I made up my mind to pursue applying to daycare as someone who is self-employed.

I made the first preliminary step to applying to daycare a week or two ago when I went to the ward office to inquire about it. I checked online already and knew that the only actual option for part time daycare was the one that’s nearby that I’ve taken Baby J to on occasion to play, but it seems like the first step is to go to the daycare and get your name put down that you’re starting the process in general. So I did that and got information on the nearby daycare, full time ones, and really expensive full time and part time ones. I was relieved to see that the daycare I want to apply to has “some openings”. It’s not very clear though. Of course the only way to find out any extra details was to call and find out.

After dwelling on it since that visit, I managed to work out what I want to do going forward and then I finally picked up the phone and called yesterday. I think they get a lot of non-Japanese there, so they didn’t seem that put off when I stumbled on a few things. I was told that the very first thing I should do is come to the daycare and pick up the forms that will have to be filled out for the interview portion of the process.

After she finally woke up from her nap, Baby J and I went over to the daycare. I got some details on the process we’ll have to go through to get registered. I asked about how many openings they have, and at the moment they don’t know. They also don’t know what days of the week those openings would be. I think that they did tell me that there’s around 40 people on the waiting list for their full time daycare right now. Wow!

The sheet they gave me with the info detailed everything about the daycare, and I was comforted to learn that they’re flexible about naps if the kids seem like they need it sooner than the noon nap time they have set for their daily schedule. Right now Baby J still takes two naps a day so I was a bit nervous about sending her somewhere where they only have the one long nap.

I can’t believe how much stuff she’ll have to bring every day! Lots of changes of clothes, lots of diapers and wipes, lots and lots of towels, and other things too. It looks like I won’t be stuck making a bento every day if I choose not to though, which is nice. They also have snacks we can pay for too.

While I was there, I got us signed up for an interview on the 16th. So now I’ve just got to make sure I get that form filled out and wait for the day to come.