Category Archives: Parenting Thoughts


For once, I am at a loss for words. I’m inching towards 40 and my mind is racing. How did that happen! Wasn’t I just….nope that was TWENTY years ago. One day thirty nine will still be young but for this moment…coming to terms with this new season is somewhat startling. So I wanted to reflect.

From Maternity Leave: Went for a Walk with Lotte

We welcomed baby Lotte to the family this last year and started the new chapter of no more babies. We’re still driving home from school singing of mangos, the color red and things that are down by the bay. This moment is just the best.

Sweetpea probably warrants a new blog name. She is growing in her confidence and abilities. She’s responsible, independent, smart but I worry has too much responsibility. Watching her grow is a beautiful thing.

From our Special Mom and Me Minute (How is She So BIG!)

Elle is determined to be ready for Kindergarten. She’s nervous about going but is so going to crush it. She still is as determined as ever. She sets herself a goal and it happens.

Achiever, Entreprenuer, Maker of Things, Inventor, Empathatic, Amazing.

Gretchen is a powerhouse. No longer the baby of the family, she DESPRETELY wants to go to kindergarten with Elle. “Look Mom I know my alphabet.” (Draws an “M”).

Yup She’s Wearing Her Shirt Backwards.

Lotte is this sweet sweet easy going baby. She smiles, tries to crawl, and is generally just happy.

Making Memories. The Best.

I don’t think I could wish for a better birthday.

Two to Three Kids!

We welcomed Gigi into our lives a little over a week ago. So far she is the most amazing baby ever.  Just a generally happy little girl.  She sleeps through Sweetpea and Elle’s anti-quiet playtime and generally goes with whatever is going on.  Before having her, 3 didn’t seem to bad. Now we’re a week or so into it all and … as a good friend said…having more children is still introducing a new person to your routine.  So yes things area bit slower, take a little longer, but so far so good.

Zoey_Negishi Park_Sept 2017_3
Elle LOVES Gigi

My only real concern is Elle.  She LOVES baby G.  She seriously thinks Gigi is her real live baby.  Allot of my time is spent protecting Gigi from Elle.  In an effort to make interactions positive, we’re focusing on gentle touches and loving sister…but not LOVING sister.  So lots of watching there.

Sweetpea is an INCREDIBLE help

Sweetpea argues with me to help more.  I don’t want her to feel burdened by siblings or helping but she seriously wants to.  I have to make an effort to not ask her for too much.  She will go and do so much.  I’d rather she still be four.

So that leaves me.  I thought I’d be honest.  Physically, consistent with the past, I’m about 10 lbs from my pre-baby weight.  That will go away soon due to breastfeeding.  I bring this up because the first indication someone sees is physical.  So it looks like everything is great.  The problem is sometimes there is more than physical.  For me, post baby can be a time of difficulty.  I do great on the physical return to myself, it’s the brain part that’s difficult.  I get anxious.  Post Sweetpea I didn’t realize that not everyone experiences anxiety/depression.  So this time, I’m focusing on establishing a routine, doing something every day for me, task management, organization, taking vitamins, getting out of the house in the mornings (when I’m anxious).  Things seem to be progressing better than in the past…which is so good.  I’ll be solo-parenting here soon so the better off I am…I’d really appreciate it.

“Let’s Compromise Mom.”

Probably not what I was expecting my then two year old Sweetpea to say.  I remember looking at her and thinking who. are. you???????? Oh yeah that’s right, you’re echoing things I say.  As Sweetpea has grown, so has her logic, her vocabulary, her curiosity, and her capability.

The Body
Mom, Can you tell me what this does?

This past week preschool had a “wear your favorite color” to class day…Sweetpea’s response, “Mom, I need something spectacular to wear tomorrow.”  We ultimately settled settled on a favorite dress…Then follow this by the excitement that it’s her day to do her laundry…It’s moments like these I remember but also forget Sweetpea is 4.  I forget what 4 is supposed to mean.

Sister Playing

Then I slow down from the hundred other things I’m supposed to be doing and watch a quiet moment between sisters.  I look at what they’re playing with and realize four and one are….four and one.   It’s me calming down and being patient.  It’s realizing that though I told someone to put their toys away (seventeen hundred times), someone probably didn’t register it or see their toys on the floor.  It’s realizing that the “water on the stone” still applies.  It’s remembering that Daniel Tiger is still an interesting show.

Stacking toy
One day this won’t be a major accomplishment or even a toy in our house

Thoughts on Three Girls

“George must be so disappointed”…Ok let’s start with how on earth am I supposed to respond to that? I have a wonderful growing girl who is trying to kick her way into this world.  How am I supposed to say to my baby that she is somehow less because she is a girl…?!!!?! I mean she’s a person (moral debate aside)…am I supposed to apologize for her existence?  Ok that got serious fast.  But seriously people!  We are so excited to have #3.

Welcome to the craziness Baby 3

I have read articles on how hard it is going from one to two and so on and so forth.  Ask me again in 3 months but for now the thought of three does not daunt me.  Sure there will be growing pains but all in all, I’ll babywear #3 (if she’s into that), hold Elle’s hand and monitor Sweetpea’s big girl-ness.  We’ll be a little bit later, a little bit slower, have lots of spilled milk, tons of amazing kid and/or adult temper tantrums, lack of sleep and general learning curve fun.  But in there we will be a family.  Sweetpea will try to parent, Elle will try to take baby 3’s attention and baby 3…well I’m thinking I’ve got another spunky kid…so maybe she’ll be difficult or not.   Sweetpea has already been telling me how if Elle tries to hit/bite/scratch baby 3 she will just pick up baby 3….um no.  Please not….yet atleast.  Sometimes I think having kids is about accepting the mess, the chaos, seeing the end goal and just realizing my “me” time has compressed to 5 minutes in the morning while trying to apply eye liner with a 1 year old trying to climb my leg.  (I WILL PUT ON MAKE UP….so if you see me with bright red lipstick and uneven eye liner just know that was my me minute).

Zoey_Kishine Park_May 2017_2
Elle wants so badly to keep up with Sweetpea

As I reflect on having three, I am so glad to have children a smidge later in life.  I am so enjoying the small moments.  In college and in my career circa my 20s having children and pregnancy were so negative, that pregnancy with Sweetpea though exciting (she was/is so wanted) was extremely hard to accept (I hate to admit that now).  At the time, I feel I had been trained that to be pregnant…you might as well just count yourself out…just horrible.  My job has since changed, my bosses fully accept (and wholeheartedly support) the fact that we’re expecting Baby 3, that I will require time to pump, that there will be baby sick days, that I will take 6 weeks off.  I feel that with this pregnancy, despite the fact that it has been significantly more difficult than the last ones, has truly been a blessing.  With each little kick I just feel so happy to have Baby 3.  It’s truly been a journey.

Sankeien Park_At Night_May 27th_1
It has been hard this time through to realize my limitations: reduce travel, reduce exploring, and just sloooooooooow down and then slow down more.

Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts

So to say life has been smidgen intense is an understatement.

  1. Moved to another country
  2. Had a second child
  3. Learned how to use the pressure cooker
  4. Found some awesome crock pot and pressure cooker recipes

(I really like the “Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts” concept.  Each paper cut/fun moment isn’t in itself difficult…but a thousand of them…sometimes it can be a bit much.  George mentioned this concept when talking about parenting…I think it fits well)

So until my camera is fixed, I will just write about my fun morning today.

We woke up at 5:45- 6am (or was it really 3am when Sweetpea joined the three of us in our queen sized bed?…I was almost kicked off the bed how many times?).  I know for certain that at around 6am, we all saw George off to work.  George thankfully had taken out today’s trash and walked the dogs.

Because Trash is Easy
Because Trash is Easy:  We have four trash cans.

Any rational person would think getting to preschool by 9 should (SHOULD) be a breeze.

…I really want to encourage curiosity in Sweetpea.  So while we are eating breakfast, she starts to teach me how food is processed in our body.  A very important part of the morning.  So we watched a 3 minute video on the digestive system.  We’ll see what I get taught later today on said video.  Our little sponge likes to teach me.  (Her latest interest is the Solar System and planets — Thank you Magic School Bus!).

You’d think 3 minutes wouldn’t impact the morning but somehow it was 7 and then 7:30 (wait yes I do…I talked to my sister amid seventeen thousand interruptions :)). Shower later, I insist on putting on my makeup (which might only be moisturizer and some eye make up with a side of … one-day-I’ll-look-polished *sigh*) while Sweetpea finishes showering in our non slip shower by herself.

Standing in my robe, I realize that a) Sweetpea is ready to leave, b) <<what is the blog name for baby #2?>> is ready and c) I haven’t made Sweetpea’s lunch for preschool.  I hate feeling disheveled.  I mean being a mom is the most rewarding and amazing thing I have ever done, but for goodness sakes I’m still a person here.  So fine.  It’s 8:45am.  We should be in the car now.  I take a minute to pretend to be put together.  Sweetpea picks out my earrings, bracelet and watch and we go to the kitchen to make lunch.  I REFUSE to spend hours making a cute lunch. I just don’t have hours to make that perfect bento box (and I get shamed for it by Sweetpea’s teacher…).

We get outside, it’s raining (thankfully I checked the weather so we’re good). We get to the car…yup.  I forgot Sweetpea’s lunch.  Back to the house.

Then preschool.  One of the mom’s offers to watch baby 2 while I drop off Sweetpea.  Can you ask any other day???!!! Here I am scrambling to repack Sweetpea’s backpack, it’s raining, Sweetpea just kissed baby 2 who is now screaming bloody murder, and we are staying calm.  It’s really not that big of a deal.  No one has died, nothing major got ruined.  It’s actually quite comical.  So yes baby 2 will be carried and not in the car seat.  So wrapped in her amazing blanket, we walk down the hill (after my friend realizes it’s a lost cause :)).  Oh you know my umbrella topples over, I tell Sweetpea to put her umbrella up…so she lifts her arm with her closed umbrella (touche child I didn’t say open it…the rain coat will do).

The clock at preschool says 9:23am.

I call my Mom to thank her for years of fun mornings.




Two Year Old Words

I realized recently that what is happening today with our little lady will be forgotten in time.  I wanted to write about some of the decisions we have made about our Sweetpea.  This post is for me to reflect on where I feel we are in the realm of parenting.  We are not perfect but we’re trying to thoughtfully make decisions.

So discipline.  I struggle with the concept of discipline for our independent, curious, smart, strong willed little lady.  I tend to think of discipline and parenting like a riverbed.  This riverbed in my mind’s eye has definite banks that prevent water from going over them.  It is possible for the water to go outside of the banks, but in general the water follows the path set in front of it.  The manner in which the water gets from point a to point b is not something that truly concerns me as long as water does not slosh over the predetermined banks.  So the parallel to discipline is I try to set rules that are the banks. Thou shalt not cross over them.  But the consequence is….? I truly have not been able to answer that yet.  I believe there is a major move either to spank and also another major move not to.  I tend towards the: not to.  So in an effort to help our little lady stay within her bounds we have a couple rules and phrases to reinforce concepts.


1. No Means No.

This means when I say no, I have to really think through the “no” and then defend it.  I’m not always great at this so it is a challenge to me to maintain consistency and have reasoning behind why I am saying no.  For example, recently we were at a red light and Sweetpea had dropped something in the car while buckled into her carseat.  She asked me to pick it up.  I absentmindedly stated that I could not pick it up.  Her response was, “We at red light.  We can pick things up at red lights.” — echoing words I had said in the past.  Touche little lady.  I try to subscribe to the idea that just because it’s difficult or more work for me to think through my thoughts, decisions, actions, that should not matter.  A thoughtful decision should stand.

2. Yes Means Yes!

I truly hate whining.  I think it is annoying and just awful.  So when Sweetpea asks for X and I say yes.  And then asks for X again within two seconds.  I stop and explain to her that Mommy said yes but sometimes we have to wait for X.  So please be patient and then you will have X.

3. Stop Means Stop.   <<<Pretty Pretty Pretty Please!!!!>>>

We are working on this one.  I REALLY want her to stop when I say stop.  She gets this about 50% of the time.  I try to use Stop in the realm of you’re about to get hit by a car kind of concept.  Sometimes we get it…sometimes we don’t.  So as my mother used to say, it’s water on the stone.  I’m hoping this one sticks sooner rather than later.

Phrases To Reinforce Concepts:

1. Listening Ears:

Daycare taught me this one.  The child turns on their ears by physically putting their fingers near their ears to simulate turning on their ears (or turning a dial or flipping a light switch).  I feel it’s another way of saying you need to listen to me, are you listening?  This has been an invaluable tool.  Situations often go like this: “Sweetpea we are going to go to the park.  When we get to the park, will you have your listening ears on?” She decides.  Usually yes seeing as she wants to go to the park.  We get to the park and her favorite trick is to runaway.  So she runs away.  I run after her.  She thinks it’s hilarious.  I catch up with her (out of breath) and sit down with her and we have a serious conversation about listening ears.  Something on the order of, “When we came to the park we agreed you would have listening ears.  I see that running away looks like great fun but I asked you to listen and I see that you have not listened.  You have two options: keep your listening ears on or we leave.  And by keeping your listening ears on, that means I need you to stop when Mommy asks you to stop. What would you like to do.” She then states she does want to have listening ears on and so it continues.  Note: this example I do feel that I might need to leave the park because I did ask her to have them on and she did not.  So maybe this example is not good but the point is having her listen to me.  I do think this is an area I need to improve on for myself. If I said something I need to stick with it.

2. Focusing Feet:

I feel as though my mornings have alot of intensity to them as do my evenings.  Focusing feet is my way of saying pay attention to where you are walking because we need to stay focused to stay on track.

3. Respectful Voices:

I really like this one.  I got this one from my very good friend and mother of four.  There are times when I get screamed at by our lovely Sweetpea.  Usually around something she wants intensely, like a cracker or a toy or some other item of imperative importance.  So what usually happens is we are driving home, and she wants something.  Rather than saying, “May I please have X” sometimes it comes out as “MOMMY, I WANT X.” To which I reply “Oh my, those are not respectful voices, when you have respectful voices and can ask nicely I can listen to you, but when you yell at Mommy I cannot respond to you.”  She continues to yell for a couple minutes about “X!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” To which I say, “I will not respond to you until you have respectful voices.” So she continues to yell and usually realizes she is getting no where.  The minute she says “Mommy, may I have X please.” I respond and usually give her what she wants.

4. You Can Do Hard Work:

(Also from my good friend mentioned above) Maybe I am wrong but I don’t think there is a switch that happens in life where someone goes from being a child/teen to an adult.  There is no ceremony really that says okay you now have confidence, independence, decision making skills and an ability to think for yourself.   So I try really hard to reinforce to her that she CAN do difficult tasks.  There are times she will be working on something and will be struggling on it (but I know that I have seen her do it or I believe the task is within her abilities).  When I see this, I try to say her I believe in you Sweetpea, I know you can do hard work.  Sometimes she will respond with but I am frustrated.  So I tell her okay then try wiggling it or turning it you can do hard things.  I find that she will watch something I do and then imitate.  I really don’t want to foster a “I give up the minute I confront perceived difficulty.”  I truly want to foster concentration skills, thoughtful consideration, and problem solving skills.  I do let her know if she needs help, that I am here to help.  So when she gets frustrated, I tell her, “If you need help you need to ask me for help.”  I don’t mean to say I just let her struggle, but I try to build her confidence in herself that she can do difficult tasks.

5. Hug It Out:

This is about 2 days old for us.  Recently I forget what our issue was but both Sweetpea and I were frustrated over something.  I forget what the something was.  So I told her we should hug it out so we could just get over our respective frustrations for each other and move on with a clean slate.

6. You Can Do ________:

I am trying to erase “DON’T DO THAT” from my vocabulary.  Instead, I try to say “You CAN hold my hand when we cross the street” or “You CAN put a little salt on your vegetables” and such.  I think having a positive boundary instead of a negative one is so strong.

7. I am so glad you made a decision that makes you happy:

I think decision making skills are extremely important.  We do subscribe to the concept of options.  So when presented with a behavior that is frustrating etc., we often say something like “You can either have listening ears or we are going to leave.” She often chooses what is more advantageous to her which is also usually what I want her to do.  We are trying to avoid praising her alignment with what we said to do and celebrate her ability to make a decision.  I just don’t want her to be 15 and choosing what someone said to do instead of choosing what she thinks was the better decision.

8. I have a Compromise/Deal for you:

This one comes from my mother. Life happens where we both want to do something or go somewhere and something is going to have to give.  Of late this usually revolves around treats.  I do not want her to eat chocolate, candies and treats all day every day.  So she might ask for just that.  I look at her and tell her “Ok, I have a compromise.  I see you want to have chocolate/candies/treats, if that is something you would like to have I need you to eat your dinner (or this portion of your dinner) first and then you may have one piece of chocolate.” I must use this enough because she recently told me “Mommy I have compromise you.” I looked at her and said, “Ok and what is your compromise?”….”I wear flip-flops.” I looked at her and thought well there’s no harm in flip-flops right now so this does not need to be world war 3 so we decided this was fine as long as she had listening ears….

9. Opening Doors

This is more of a concept.  Our little lady seems to want to read.  She oftentimes picks up books and gets frustrated and states “I can’t do it.” So we purchased some first time reading books (she loves them).  I feel that instead of waiting for the child to verbalize “May I have some reading books.” It is important for me to pay attention and look for clues and try to solve/anticipate next steps instead of waiting for the door to be knocked on.  I might miss the knock.  I also don’t want to negatively pressure her into going through doors when she isn’t ready or interested.  So I think this one is a delicate balance.

10. Pausing to Teach

I feel giving her the tools to do what she can is important but so is recognizing when she could use some coaching.  I’m not amazing at this but it’s something I working on doing.  I never wanted to be told what to do and so I tend to expect her to be the same.  I have to train myself that she is clearly not me (nor do I want her to be) so therefore I need to be sensitive to her needs.

Things I’m thinking about: 

1. Telephone Calls – How to ensure when I am on the phone Sweetpea does not feel left out or ignored

2. Conversations – Learning how to respect when others are talking

3. What does it mean to have a special day – If it’s someone else’s birthday should Sweetpea get a trinket too (so as not to feel left out or upset)?….I’m tending towards no but I am thinking on this one.

4. Space – Is it a good thing to allow someone space when they ask for space (even if they are 2.5 years old).

5. What do I do when Sweetpea actually pushes over those banks.  Life does, in fact, have rules and if you break them you can go to jail/receive fines etc etc.

6. What to do when Sweetpea completely acts out in front of other people and is completely rude and difficult.

Apparently I had a few things to say.

Free Range Mama(?)

Supporting Growth is Important
 Supporting Growth is Important (To Me)

There is one thing in this world that I am not a fan of and that is “definitions”.  I’ll go down the litany my 80s childhood fit into: organic, unschooled, vegetarian, catholic, breastfed, attachment parenting, stay at home mom (my mom’s article from 20+ years ago), older parents….in each “definition” I think there is a tendency to be wedded to one concept and not stray from it.  This inherently bothers me.  I believe in moderation.  I believe in finding your own way. I believe in creating wide boundaries and enforcing them (I haven’t figured out how to enforce them yet but we’ll figure that out).

~Side tangent, I think the rules might be 1) no means no, 2) yes means yes, and 3) stop means freeze/don’t move/danger-so-therefore-stop.~

So this last week when my mother-in-law got out a sticker book and showed by daughter were things were supposed to go, I stood back and watched Sweetpea thrive under her guidance.  I stood there thinking well shucks, I guess I’ve found a new avenue or definition to get rid of.

As a stubborn, independent person who demanded respect at 5, I never wanted to be told what to do.  Never.  The typical story where my mother tried to teach me and I looked at her like she was nuts.  Clearly what could a mother teach me!

****NEWS FLASH****

My daughter is not me.  She has a lot of my tendencies but she is also my husband and her own person. So watching Sweetpea excited to match the egg sticker with the eggs in the sticker book gave me insight into who she is(?).  Lesson learned (again): don’t set a definition on someone! It might not be right.

I Not A Kid Mommy

I saw a glimpse of myself recently.  I must have mentioned the word kid or Sweetpea must of heard it that day or was reflecting on the concept of “kid”. Out of the blue, Sweetpea looked at me and stated “I not a kid Mommy.”  I thought this would be coming soon.  Apparently I had a similar epiphany around the same age (“I my known person mommy”- me 31 years ago).  I looked her with so much pride.  She clarified, “I a big girl Mommy.”

I Can Do It
I Can Do It

I stood looking at my daughter telling, asking, pleading, that I respect her for who she is as a person.  Memories of adults dismissing me as a child flashed before my eyes.  I remember wishing evil on people who didn’t treat me like a person.  Some people say I was never a child.  I never thought I was.  I was a person.  A person to be listened to or atleast considered.

I looked at my daughter, thought of her independence, thought of her confidence and all I could think of was pride. I hope I can do half of what my own mother did.  She did not break my spirit.  I hope to re-enforce and help our daughter grow as a person.

One…Two…Three…Four…Matching Style

Or rather…4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Said with the most pride possible. Who could correct that! Excellent counting Sweetpea! I am so glad you are interested in your numbers! I say. As Sweetpea taught Kitty Bear how to count, I thought of a new game!

Use Paper Towels!
Use Paper Towels!

Using 5 paper towels, we wrote the numbers 1-5 and also some correlating circles. Then the goal was that we put the circle from our count game on the right paper towel. Sweetpea sort of got the idea but was more or less excited to hop on the towels. In the end it’s about exploration, learning, and curiosity (in my opinion). She has since asked to do “Counting” several times so I’m excited!

I am trying to remember if I did this or she did. Probably me.  It's the goal :)
I am trying to remember if I did this or she did. Probably me. It’s the goal 🙂

2 Year Old: I Can Do It Activities

1. Easel Time
In case you didn’t know, I’ve condensed from 1200 sq feet to 700! It’s amazing! We’ve discovered all types of ways to explore.

Portable "Easel"
Portable “Easel”

With a pink picture frame from Michaels (or something like this ) and a “chalkboard sticker” (which I also purchased from Michaels but cannot find online) I slapped the two together, and mounted with an adhesive hook.

Sweetpea loves it!

2. Cleaning
Somewhere along the way, our lovely lady has found a passion for cleaning. In an effort to make her feel empowered to clean whenever she’s interested…we made a 2 year old sized cleaning bucket.

Water bottle, bucket and towel
Water bottle, bucket and towel

All of which are from Amazon:
Red Spray Bottle
Cleaning Cloth, Reusable & Biodegradable

3. Sequencing
Small…Medium…Large. I’m still clarifying this one. Using these wall stickers recommended by we decorated Sweetpea’s play area and bedroom (we’re sharing a room). I realized half way through that I could incorporate counting and sequencing into this idea. So I tried using the leaves for numbers (I need to take one off the smallest one) and then spaced them out so she could look at them to determine which is the smallest etc.

What is the largest? Smallest?
What is the largest? Smallest?

4. I Can Do It
I am a major proponent of independence and helping when asked. In an effort to support this we’ve been doing things like opening/closing her child sized umbrella or opening the wrapper for individually wrapped string cheese. It’s amazing to see what she CAN do!

5. Counting

Teaching Kitty Bear to Count
Teaching Kitty Bear to Count

6. Pouring, Cooking, Sensory Fun

Our Work Station
Our Work Station

Quite honestly, this activity was composed of candle holder glasses, IKEA utensils ($5?), an old pitcher, an old pot we don’t use anymore, a plastic container we had on hand and a bag of lentils. And the table and chairs are from IKEA for $20 (great purchase)