Sunday, May 27

The 4 Kid Weekly Update

In order of appearance...

1. Sebastian enjoyed another school sports day. Lots of fun and he almost won the race! The school gets divided into two parts aka-gumi and shiro-gumi (red class and white class). His group always loses but not this year. I am happy to announce a tie! 7-7
運動会:Sports Day
2. Nicolai's chicken pox was very mild and I am happy (seriously happy) to announce that he can return to school tomorrow. Whew.
3. Colette is an 80% toilet user! Yay!
運動会:Sports Day
4. Luca has been on this planet for an entire month now (plus that little bit of time spent in utero).
mr. one month

Have a good week all!

Tuesday, May 22

A Pox Upon Our House

nico has chicken pox

Nico is holding up quite well but I hope you'll understand my absence. Chicken pox, four kids, one a newborn... fingers crossed that Nico does share it with the littles. Or with Sebastian for he has sports day on Saturday.
See you on the other side.

Friday, May 18

Our Little Giant

Though 95% of the time, Luca is busy doing this...
lil' giant luca
there are moments when he decides to see what is going on outside of dreamland.
I suspect that he thinks we are a dream and the life he lives as he slumbers is his true life. He laughs a lot in his sleep.
lil' giant luca
He is starting to connect with us more. Looking at us (or more like in our general direction) and, though I can never grab the camera quick enough yet, smiling. These moments are brief but fascinating to witness as they offer a glimpse of what we have to look forward to as Luca completes the metamorphosis from newborn to infant. Such a quick second in the entirety of his life but for us right now it is like watching a lily unfold, slowly, petal by petal.
lil' giant luca
And what a big blossom our little giant will be. He weighed in at 12 pounds this week. Our little sumo wrestler.

Thursday, May 17


3 weeks old
Three weeks? My hypothesis has transformed into a theory: time accelerates with each child. The first child multiplies the speed of time by about a hundred. So now regular time has increased in speed by 400 percent. Is it today or next week? Am I waking up or going to sleep?
I feel a little dizzy.
In ballet we learned to focus on one spot so not to lose our balance. I'm keeping my eye on this guy.
3 weeks old
It's been three weeks since this mademoiselle became a big sister.
3 weeks old
Though a bit of a blur, life with four kids has been a fun (though tiring) ride so far. Here's to all the weeks ahead of us, all the yesterdays just waiting to happen.

Tuesday, May 15

The Bug Hunters

monday afterschool special
(Examining a bush covered in ladybug grubs)
monday afterschool special
(Digging up pill bugs)
monday afterschool special
(Stalking a trail of ants)

With the warm weather comes bright green leaves, colorful flowers, and the kids' main occupation: bug watching (and catching). Already our insect tanks are full of beetle grubs, preying mantis eggs, and caterpillars munching on leaves. Every trip to the park is an opportunity to find new life. Spring is a little easier for us parents: the buzzing and feeding has not yet begun. Soon there will be cicadas and butterflies to be caught, drawn, then released. Preying mantis will be identified and fed painstakingly by daily catches of smaller insects. Beetles will be hunted and boasted of to friends. Though in my own childhood I limited my insect hunting to catching grasshoppers to live in Mason jar terrariums, Jason had a much greater interest in the insect kingdom that has infected his offspring.
Of course, we are not the only bug-crazed family on the block. Most kids in Japan (and their parents-though usually their fathers) spend the hotter months with a net in one hand and a bug tank in the other. It is a national pastime.
It has also led to Sebastian's new dream: to become a nature photographer. This comes, no doubt, from a combination of hands-on experience in the field and hours of BBC documentaries watched during the cooler months. He spends his quieter hours copying drawings from his many nature encyclopedias, focusing on seasonally-appropriate ones. And he is getting quite good at it. Lately he's been taking his own photos so he can draw them later. I really admire his dedication. And though his life may take a different direction, the lessons he is learning from his careful examination of the living world will no doubt be a part of his life forever.
(one of Sebastian's pictures from yesterday's bug-hunt)

Monday, May 14



We've been offline since Wednesday night. (It involved an ignored letter from the internet company that came during my hospital stay... no real trouble just the lack of response on our part.) It is funny being offline for such an extended period. There are so many things that we use the internet for in our daily lives: communication, instant knowledge, inspiration.  The first day without it was really interesting as there were never so many things we needed to know until we were cut off. By yesterday, we were chuckling to ourselves how off-the-grid we were.

Reconnected, we found we really did not miss much besides for wishing our mothers and all of our friends who are mothers a lovely Mother's Day. (by the way, Happy Mother's Day!)

And the bittersweet news that Maurice Sendak died.
Is bittersweet a strange term to use in the face of one of my favorite illustrator's death? I loved Sendak's work but that came second to my admiration for his actual self. He was a frank person and did what he wanted in life without bowing to anyone else's direction. For any creative type, he was a remarkable inspiration. I will never have the courage to be as blunt as he was but I hope that I can be as determined and confident as he was as I go along my own creative path.

I say bittersweet because anyone that has heard Sendak talk recently, be it on the Colbert Report or in the documentary made after they cinematized Where The Wild Things Are, would be aware that Sendak was deeply heartbroken following the death of his partner. He was upset by how quickly everyone around him  were passing on, including his faithful dog. A few months ago, a Fresh Air aired with a very intimate interview with Sendak. If you haven't heard the interview, please give it a listen. It is one of the best things I had the privilege of listening to in the past year.  It will make you cry. I think Sendak probably felt a great relief in dying, a release from both the physical and emotional pain he suffered for the last several years. And so it is with the full meaning of the words that I say: rest in peace, Maurice Sendak.

Tuesday, May 8


hi there
Luca is starting to bloom.

I know as a mother I am supposed to love every breath my children take but I have always been a little shy of that adoration during the first week or so. Now though as we move into Week Two, my heart swoons over this little boy. I love how he has transitioned from that hollow bird-weight of a just-born to something a little more hefty, a bit more opaque. It is a subtle change from just-born to newly-born, a shift that only perhaps a parent can detect. It is similar in nature to the change from just-married to newly-wed.

Let the baby-moon begin.

more napping

Saturday, May 5

Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日)

Kodomo No Hi  (Children's Day)
(picture by Lau Sew)
Today is Children's Day (aka Kodomo no Hi). Our motley collection of koi no bori (carp flags; see above-though those are not ours) are flying, the kids ate kashiwa mochi (bean-filled rice cakes wrapped in salted oak tree leaves) and chimaki (mochi wrapped in bamboo leaves), drank Kodomo Beer (sparkling white grape juice), and have run around the neighborhood with their friends, accepting snacks from random grannies. It's a good day to be a kid.

Luca and I walked with the gang to the park where I was dazzled by the bright green leaves decking out all the limbs of the ginko trees. Luca has not protested against the pouch sling yet and slept the entire time.  My injury was still a little sore but tolerable so I suspect it is getting better.

I forgot the memory card for the camera which is a shame since the neighborhood a few blocks over was having a little festival complete with cotton candy, candied apples, and shady looking girl band fan paraphernalia. Great scene for pictures, not so great for my easily-jacked-up kids.

It was our first time out as a family of six. It will get some getting used to, those stares of astonishment as people count all of us. It is similar to how people look watching clowns climb out of those tiny cars, especially since one of my crew is always lagging behind.  Just as May Day was an appropriate day to be sprung from the hospital (the medical establishment, if you will), Children's Day is undoubtedly an appropriate day to make our first appearance as a large(r) family. Stares and all.

It is good to have a reminder to celebrate childhood. With four kids between the ages of almost-9 to 0, we often get caught in the eddy of parenting: the scoldings, the feedings, the diaper changes and potty training, the refereeing, the PTA meetings, the constant questions and negotiations. It is so exhausting that it is hard to hold onto the one fact that should help us focus on what really matters: that this is so temporary we can never fully appreciate the experience until it is too late. Kodomo no Hi offers us a short reprieve from the vortex of everyday parenting. Though we should do it everyday, those colorful fish flags are our signal that it is time to pause and appreciate this early portion of life, to be silly and laugh and blow bubbles and eat mochi, to play soccer and tag, to love and appreciate such a precious and fleeting time of life.

Happy Children's Day!

Friday, May 4

From a seated position

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time sitting still for long stretches of time. The internet gets old quickly, there is only a certain amount of television to watch, and sudoku is at best minimally distracting. I don't like passive activities. I like to move, act, engage. But between the constant nursing, being a body pillow, and my injury, I have a lot of sitting in my life right now.  Instead of complaining, I have been seeking out things to do from a seated position. Prepping dinner is something I can do. Looking for recipes in our neglected cookbooks is another thing. And now I can add drawing to my list.
This peony was made using whatever I could reach. I have not moved once since starting the peony and it is already dry.
This kid sure can sleep, as long as he is in my lap. Not yet a fan of his rocking seat. But if I can draw a peony with just one hand and a limited supply of pencils and markers, just think what I will be able to accomplish with two hands. Oh, the possibilities.

Thursday, May 3

Small Victories

me and luca

Today's accomplishments:

I made breakfast, washed and hung laundry, made banana tofu pudding and some gluten-free sesame crackers to go with it. Will now make some norimaki rolls: avocado, tofu and umeboshi, and omelette for picky eater Nico.

I also ordered a sling from Amazon that will arrive tomorrow. I hope Luca will be happy in it as I am not sure how much longer I can sit still.

And there is a giant pile of laundry in the bedroom from where we decided to make the switch from cold weather clothes to warm weather clothes. Completing that task has moved into the fantasy realm. I am just pleased if we can get through the day well-fed and hydrated without too much bickering.  You know, the small victories.

Wednesday, May 2


Thank you for the lovely comments and warm welcome for Luca.

luca day 6

Back in the fray and yet not at normal capacity yet. I am trying to see the injury as a way of forcing me to take it easy. It is very frustrating to want to jump back into to my role and not be able to. My hungry hippo up there also anchors me, making me less available for the older ones.

I must remember that these nursing marathons and my injury are temporary. Too soon Luca will be chasing after his brothers and sister. So as hard as it is to accept sometimes, my injury is perhaps a blessing, a gift of awareness and patience. The chores can wait but this sweet little boy, he will not.

Tuesday, May 1

Home again, home again...

mr. luca

This is Luca Haru.

He was born on Thursday morning at 5:20 am. The labor went quickly and within five hours he was here. It was an intense labor since he weighed 4300 grams at birth, and was 54 cm long (not to mention the 40 cm round head...).  The labor was all natural with no interventions and no tearing (for those of you don't know what that means, let's leave it like that).
Like some post-term babies, he was born covered in meconium so he spent the first day of his life in an incubator. All was well but he wasn't drinking his bottles (formula, they didn't ask me for any expressed milk) so he was losing weight. Out of the incubator but still not into my arms. Very frustrating for a mother who wants to hold her newborn.
sleepy 3
Eventually he was released to my care but with instructions on how to give him formula and breastfeed him. They had little faith in my 9 years of experience breastfeeding but I just nodded then switched completely to breast milk. And I was right. He absolutely started thriving again and not only regained his birthweight but surpassed it by a pound. The nurses were in awe.
exit feast: before: this is all just for two people
So it was not as relaxing as I remember it being with Colette. The food was good and it was nice to have visitors but the best part of the whole deal is that we are now home. And on May Day at that.
Jason is off for Golden Week which is good because that big baby caused me to suffer from something known as Pelvic Girdle Pain. It is seriously a pain in the ass. The worst thing is that it limits my mobility and the best way for it to heal is by resting, something I don't like to do. So I'll be hanging around the house a lot for a week or two.  But I suppose it is okay since I will be in such sweet company.
luca face