Monday, December 27, 2010

Bloo Kangaroo Doll Carrier

I still have a love-hate relationship with my Babyhawk Oh Snap carrier, and am dying to try a Kanga-XT--although the price makes me cringe every time I see it. But I use the Oh Snap every day, and would have lost the use of both arms and maybe severed my backbone by now if not for it. DD definitely recognizes it as an essential part of baby care and has been wanting to wear her own stuffed animals on her back. My scarf does the trick, but these doll carriers by Bloo Kangaroo are totally adorable.
Dear R,

I haven't written one of these in a while, so I thought it was time, especially since you turned two pretty recently.

Slowly, slowly, you are losing your fear of people. You're still not big on walking by yourself when we're out of the house, but you seem to realize that all the neighborhood elderly people cooing at you are actually pretty nice, and will give me a grin and murmur a belated "bye" after the person has walked away.

Compared to other toddlers your age, you're a little slow in the vocab department. But I'm not worried, since you seem to understand every word I say, these days. And you want to know the names for everything: you'll point and ask, "Kore, kore?", which means "this, this" in Japanese. You may not know all your alphabet or colors yet, but you can correctly identify at least six different kinds of dogs (poodles, dachshunds, chihuahuas, shiba dogs, bulldogs, and corgis) and I bet you'd be able to name more, except that some dog names are rather long (king charles cavalier spaniel--whatever).

You definitely know when we're talking about you or, worse, laughing at something awkward that you've done, and you do not like it; I do remember my own parents doing this when I was a kid, and how that made me feel, so I've been trying hard not to even crack a smile if it's ever at your expense--like the other night when you were fidgeting and moving about on your seat while eating dinner and you somehow slipped off the cushion, and the entire bowl of spaghetti flipped over onto your startled face. I'm sorry, baby, but inside I was cracking up.

You like to call yourself "Baby Boo"; so do I. You do not like to be called a "good girl," but I can call you a "good bunny rabbit."

You still LOVE eating, which I'm always amazed and grateful for. Although to be honest, I don't think at this age that toddlers really need that much food. I mean, considering how much you consume and how little you move, you should be an extremely obese insomniac. But you're still pretty little--though my back doesn't think so, and wow am I creaking about like an arthritic old lady these days--and you sleep a decent amount. Your favorite foods are beef, octopus, and clams. Though on Christmas, you had your first taste of chocolate--pieces of candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate--and I'm pretty sure it was a hit, considering the desperate edge in your voice as you kept asking for more.

You thought Christmas was your birthday, part two. This would be a fairly logical conclusion. I mean, grandma, grandpa, and great-grandma came over, there was a fancy dinner (you were pretty excited at the sight of the whole roasted chicken and kept circling around it and wanting to touch it), you got presents, you were once again the focus of everyone's attention. What else would all that fuss be about?

You can now ride your tricycle and put on your socks by yourself. Not at the same time.

And this morning, for the very first time, you PLAYED INDEPENDENTLY. I couldn't believe it. I ran downstairs to grab something, expecting the automatic and unceasing hollering of "mama, mama"...but, nothing. I rushed back up, imagining I'd find you dead on the floor or about to do something particularly forbidden--like dangling Edward the Dog out the living room window--and instead, when I peeked around the corner, you were sitting quietly and calmly, trying to nurse your toy rabbit while stacking blocks at the same time. Multitasking AND independent play. My heart could have burst with pride. I couldn't help noticing how tenderly you cuddled Mr. Bunny in the crook of your arm and gently stroked his back, every so often. Now if only you could be that nice to our dog. You even proudly admitted at lunch today that "Wuta kick Eddie." You felt the need to confess this repeatedly.

But you're really a good girl, R. No, sorry, I meant a good bunny rabbit.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It is exactly 12 am, Christmas Day, in Tokyo...and I'm blogging. I really should be in bed, since R has been doing that annoying waking up earlier and earlier thing that she does every few months, just to keep me jumping. Can't sleep, though, because I'm waiting for a load of laundry to get done. Glamorous, huh. Where is my life? Well, my husband is working, of course. My daughter is sleeping, thank god, because yesterday around this time, she woke up screaming in a way that sent chills down my spine, and when I got to her and finally managed to calm her down, she declared that she was hungry. My parents are in England with my brothers and their families, and we had a Skype session with them earlier this evening, during which R got to meet her cousin M, whose the same age but unfortunately halfway round the world. M was adorable, baby Brit accent and all; my brother was pale and dazed, from the flu--so he claims--but then again he's also had my parents as house guests for the past week; my mom was annoying, as always, and spent most of the conversation comparing R with M (who I have to openly state could possibly be an alien child because she wakes up every morning at 9am--what the hell kind of two-year-old DOES that?), find R lacking due to my substandard parenting abilities, and even managed to throw in my face yet one more time how woefully lacking R's life is (compared to M's) because I don't let her watch television. Apprently, there is something called Pepper Pig that is all the rage amongst UK toddlers and M benefits greatly from an hour viewing of the pig's program every day ("He teaches manners," mom says.)

What have I been doing all day? When not entertaining the toddler, I've been prepping in the kitchen like a crazy woman because it stupidly occurred to me only a few days before that I should probably invite my in-laws over for Christmas dinner, so we can all spend some time together as a family and because I've been mooching meals off of them for months now and it's getting a little embarrassing. It's been a bit of a challenge: last-minute feast-making made from the limited food stuff available in my neighborhood supermarket. We're not exactly living in central Tokyo. It's a pretty small, old area. Hell, my mom calls it a "village," as if we should all be walking around in ski boots or toting hunting spears.

So tomorrow, there's going to be a big-ass chicken roasting in my teeny tiny Japanese oven--dear god, please let the chicken come out alright, preferably cooked on the inside. At least my in-laws should be duly impressed by the mere fact that I'm serving them a whole chicken. It's funny how I used to think of roast chicken as a comforting, easy weekday dinner. But when we were living in the US and I made it for A--who is Japanese, I don't know if I ever mentioned this?--he'd always glance nervously around, as if expecting hidden guests to leap out at any moment and yell "Congratulations on your newly wedded status!" or something equally momentous. So, it's a big deal in Japan. Heck, I was surprised to find whole chickens at the supermarket, since you won't even see bone-in meat on the shelves, on a regular day. I live in a "village," people, get used to it.

I really wanted to bake something warm and spicy for dessert, but I don't want to spend the entire day in the kitchen and I don't know if my oven could handle that big a work-load. It's about the size of a toaster oven, after all, and is used primarily as a microwave.

But aside from the fact that an hour ago, I dropped an entire bowl of shredded cheese on the kitchen floor--total bitch to clean up--and Edward the Dog rushed in to help clean up, except that he mostly just stepped all over the cheese, smearing it everywhere, and making the floor extra sticky with all his licky saliva, so then I had to wash his feet and then wash the floor...uh, where was I going with this sentence? Crap, now I have to go hang up the laundry, and it took me way too long to write this post, and I NEED to be in bed.

Good night and happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

wooden toy cake

Just got my Goods Land catalog in the mail yesterday and saw what would have been the perfect Christmas present for R...except that this toy features cake toppings with magnets in them. While R isn't the type to put non-food things in her mouth, she does love her berries, so I'm going to be my non-self for once--i.e., prudent--and hold off on this one. Ever since R's birthday passed and she had cake not once but twice, every cake she sees is labeled "Happy Wuta Tu Tu" cake and is examined closely and with much enthusiasm. She's also big on pretend and feeding people right now, so I know she would have had a great time with this toy. It even comes with two different magnetic icing choices--chocolate (shown in picture above) and strawberry--so it's a very customizable cake. And at only ¥3,150, the only thing I'm worried about is why it's so cheap and how much lead is hidden in this thing.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

if I had all the money in the world...

...I'd buy a lot of baby and kid clothes.
Seriously, there is nothing that makes me want to spend money like the stuff targeted at rich parents. Take the brand Oeuf (see the knit berets above; come on, are they not so crazy-cute you want to start typing in all-caps?)--I think I first heard about it when pregnant and searching exhaustively for a crib for R (we finally settled on the IKEA Gulliver Crib and it was totally great and totally one-tenth the price of the Oeuf crib). Then I fell in love with the Oeuf Coverall Hats that were made of this chunky, bright-colored alpaca yarn. They've since been redesigned, for some reason, but are still pretty sweet, in a more understated way. And about once a year, I remember my love of Oeuf's knit dresses and will visit the site, squint at the reduced-price sale items, and then move on.
Not surprisingly, Japan--the Land of Kawaii, itself--has incredibly tempting kids clothing, if you have cash to burn. But who does anymore? No, I take that back: There is this lovely, expensive children's clothing store in Tokyo and their online stuff is constantly sold out. Will try to blog about that shop and more stuff like it in the future. Because I don't know why but my blog never really feels like it's written by someone living in Japan, does it.

R's music recs

As I mentioned, R has very specific music needs. She requests songs by name--well, the names she gives them--and she can listen to a song she likes, literally, fifty times. Of course I'm not counting, but if you have a three-minute song on replay for two hours...okay, so math isn't my strong suit, but let's not get into that.

So here are R's favorite songs at the moment:

Aiuta, by GreeeeN

Jump in the Line, by Harry Belafonte

Sleigh Ride, by Harry Connick Jr. (definitely NOT the Andy Williams version--duh, mom)

Shabondama Tonda, not sure who's singing this one (it's a Japanese children's song about bubbles floating up and away, but according to my husband was written by a guy who's little baby had died)

I'm not sure what R's been singing lately. I don't recognize the tune. Apparently, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is so last-month.


This is R's new thing: tea. Has to be chamomile and in the drinking vessel of her choice. I wonder if other toddlers her age are this exacting. If I sing a song that does not agree with her mood, I am promptly silenced. There are certain clothes I wear that she also disapproves of. When we go for a walk, she gives extremely specific directions about which way we should go. Right now, the fabulous red goose-down jacket that grandma and grandpa bought her has fallen out of favor and if she must wear a coat, then it has to be the shoddy black hand-me-down that's so big, she keeps tripping over her own feet cause she can't see them.

This week, though, we had an exciting development: R actually PLAYED at the playground. I mean, she ran around, climbed the various structures, slid down slides, and all that other good stuff. Only thing was that it was pitch-black and we were the only ones out in the freezing cold, scampering about like crazy people.

When I was a kid, I remember reading about a little girl who was allergic to sunlight and her mom had to take her to the playground at night. I thought that was about the saddest thing I'd ever read. Now here I am, twenty years later, living the sad life. But no, it really was not that bad. There is something fun about being out after dark--take Halloween and trick or treating. Sure, winter isn't the best season for it. But having the whole playground to ourselves, R really relaxed and had a ball, screeching in delight, drawing pictures with her hands in the gravelly ground, spinning round and round while looking up at the stars. I have never seen her so at ease outside of the house.

And the great thing about living in Tokyo is that I don't feel nervous going out with R at night and playing with her in a deserted park. It's a densely populated city where most of the residents commute by public transportation, and I'd say the average worker leaves the office at 8 pm, so there are always people on the streets long after darkness falls.

Unfortunately, R seems to think "people" are bad. When we're out walking, she'll say "people" right as she turns to me, arms up, waiting to be whisked out of the slimy reach of...people. And as I just wrote, in Tokyo, there are always people. Lots of people. Hopefully, a good daily dose of this will eventually cure R of her fears.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

As a parent, you are allowed to have an okay day with your child, even a good one. But don't ever have a great day, and never think to yourself "Hey, I can do this"--or you will pay for it. I'm not talking crazy, here.

I foolishly blogged about what a great day R and I had on Monday. Foolish! Despite a happy dinner Monday night to the accompaniment of Sleigh Ride, on constant reply per R's request and which she adorably scrunched up her shoulders in pleasure at hearing for the first time, it's been steadily downhill from there. Also, A will be away this weekend to attend a friend's wedding somewhere outside Tokyo, so I have no weekend to hang in there for.

Teething again, but this time, it was reach-for-the-Motrin-but-yes-I-do-know-about-the-latest-recall-thanks bad. Today, R was so hysterical and clingy that I was sure I heard a shhhhtuck! noise every time I tried to separate her little body from mine.

I do feel that I am being punished, somehow, for having the audacity to not be a maternal woman. I don't have any natural desire to coddle, fawn over, or care for needy creatures. I in fact do not like needy people. Or animals. Which is why it's funny that I ended up with not one but two (or three, if you count my husband) extremely needy people in my home: R and Edward. Edward being the dog. If you are scoffing at that, you've never raised a puppy with severe separation anxiety. Edward came to us at the tender age of two months, and the first month, he wouldn't eat unless I sat on the floor, right next to him. The first three months, he lived in my lap. The first six months, I couldn't take a shower without hearing him screaming and clawing at the shower door the entire time. The first three years (or maybe more?), we couldn't leave him home alone uncrated unless we wanted to return to a thoroughly trashed apartment.

Now R. Sigh. She is such a great little kid. But her fear of everyone who isn't me, her inability to play for even five minutes by herself, her demand that I be her constant entertainment--today, I seriously thought about connecting my head with the Le Creuset casserole pot in order to get some alone-time.

Then just now, while I was rushing around trying to get dinner prepped, I felt eyes boring into the back of my head, turned, and found Edward standing at the entrance to the kitchen looking at me. You have to have a dachshund of your own to understand, but they don't stare at you like normal dogs do. They have a look. It's sort of mournful and condemning, and it makes you worry. I just checked and he's still looking at me. Maybe he needs to poo again.