Silence and Reflection: what’s been going on with me…

Crawfish Madarao view - summer

I haven’t written in months. To be honest, I thought it was longer and I vaguely remember writing what I wrote. It has been a difficult year and I haven’t wanted to write about it and everything not about it seemed wrong. Now things are improving, at least on the surface. Continue reading

Boundaries

I remember one time my sister and I got into a fight (or rather she was upset and I was not apologetic) about using her bath towel. We had bath towels that everyone used, but after using it one time, we would hang it by a hook by the shower. I usually didn’t pay attention to which one I had used only that I knew had a towel hanging there or not. Then I would use it 3 or 4 times before deciding I should have a fresh one. Personally I don’t care if I share a once used towel with someone I know so long as it was used on a clean body. My sister didn’t feel the same way and was especially disturbed that I could not honestly say how many times we had probably shared a towel (I wonder if she remembers this…)

Recently my husband asked me where my towel was and I said, “It was over there.” and he said, “no, that was my towel.” So I said, “oh, then I’ll use whatever one is left.” He was bothered that I did not specifically know which towel was mine which is funny since he is not bothered by much. I really didn’t know. So I asked about a blue towel and he was very disturbed because that is the towel that he uses to put on the floor outside the bathtub as a bathmat (especially since our baby splashes a lot). I thought since it was just washed, it doesn’t matter.

So I am starting to think it’s me, not them.

I wonder which way my daughter will lean? We share towels, spoons, food, and until recently, my body even!

Life around town with babies & kids: US vs. Japan

I may or may not write a review specifically about travel or the United Airlines flights I took, but right now I mostly want to comment on how the US is so NOT baby friendly! To be fair, maybe the US does not realize it. Before I had a baby, I never noticed all the little things that shops and restaurants provide for babies/kids in Japan, but now that I have a baby, I am all to aware of what is offered and not.

Large Stores: (grocery, furniture, clothing, discount, etc). 

Japan: 2 or 3 sizes of “buggy” with attached part for your shopping basket: baby size for infant to 12 months, seat for older babies and kids, and sometimes car or train or other novelty cart for toddlers and kids. Also sometimes it has the mini cart with a flag so your toddler or kid and “go shopping”, too.

I took this photo in the womens’ bathroom somewhere – there’s a urinal for the boys, too! …and a baby seat photo – so Mom doesn’t have to hold the baby while she pees!

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US: Kid seat attached to cart – only for older babies/kids. Sometimes without a safety belt. Changing tables available in some womens’ bathrooms.

Airports: 

Japan: Terminals 1 and 2 have kids areas. In Terminal 1 it is E concourse near all the star alliance flights (near a smoking room, but the smoke doesn’t get out and I think that is so one parent can do their thing while the other parent watches kids). Every womens’ bathroom has a changing table and kid seat in at least one stall so Mom can go to the bathroom, too. Every bathroom area has a family bathroom/handicap bathroom so Dad can change diaper, too and families with multiple kids can stick together with their luggage in a large restroom. SEVERAL lactation rooms for nursing moms or general privacy while feeding/changing (men also allowed) and the lactation areas have privacy doors or curtains. Often these rooms also have filtered mineral water for formula families. Always have sink with hand soap and garbages so you don’t have to take your diapers with you.

Kids Park in Terminal 1 – Star Alliance (E Concourse) (photo from the Narita Airport website, I keep forgetting to take a photo here):

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Nursing room before security at Narita (similar rooms are found after security in each terminal):

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These photos are from a rest area along the Kan-etsu highway in Japan. Private nursing and changing – men welcome. LOVE IT!

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US: … I found 1 changing table at SFO and another one at MSP. At SFO there was a room called a family room, but it was locked and there was a note to call a number, but no one answered and the room didn’t open, from what I could tell there was a sink, changing table and some floor space for playing. No baby seat in the restrooms and the handicap restroom was barely large enough for a wheelchair so my buggy and luggage did not fit. I had to leave my luggage unattended. I had to pee while holding my baby.

Hospitals: 

Japan: Kids play area in EVERY hospital I have been to. Nothing fancy, but toys & books on tumble mats. These are not kid hospitals, they are regular hospitals for all people and ailments. I’ve been to two hospital for myself since my daughter was born, once for my wrist and once for a female problem. In both cases, at two different hospitals, I was ushered to a special kid room while I waited to see the doctor. The attendant came to get me when it was my time – awesome! Womens’ bathroom with changing table and baby seat in toilet. Sometimes family/handicap bathroom.

US: I was at 2 hospitals in the US. Both are very large and one is very famous for research and cutting edge surgery. No play room (I hope the kids getting treatment at least have something). 1 changing table on the first floor in one hospital and 1 changing table in a family room at the larger hospital. Luckily it was located near where I needed to be since it is a huge complex. No baby seats so again, I must pee while holding my baby.

Department stores: 

Japan: Mostly these are only in Tokyo or Osaka, but all department stores have a kid area, usually with a large tumble mat space with big soft blocks. Sometimes also with video games and riding games. In the smaller towns like around Nagano, there are often a couple “rides” next to a photo booth. At Matsuya Ginza, I was told about the Garden level. This is separate from the kids floor with a play area, but it has baby room (for nursing and sleeping) and kid room (for being loud) and it has a changing room that also has a scale and flat height chart, so I got to check on my babies physical progress and then get a latte! If you run out of diapers, there was a diaper dispenser as well. All the same awesome bathrooms apply.

Mitsukoshi Kodomo Park (photo courtesy of www.TokyoStroller.com – Check out this blog!) This is NORMAL in Japan.

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US: … nothing. Changing table in some womens’ bathrooms. No baby seat, I must pee while holding my baby. (only from one experience, to be fair).

Restaurants: 

Japan: If fancy, just the highchair. If family restaurant or any mid level or fast food restaurant they offer boosters, high chairs, booster in booth with sides for new sitters, and sometimes bassinets for newborns. Most restaurants offer some kind of baby food for purchase and will give you hot water, juice and utensils to eat of mom and dad’s plates for free. Bathrooms have changing table and baby seat in stall usually. Sometimes family bathroom.

US: high chair usually available. Bathrooms may have a changing table. For my daughter who is adorable, we often got special service from the wait staff (free juice, fruits, and in one case cotton candy!).

I went to one hotel in the US and they did not have a bathtub or baby tub or baby crib/bassinet available. I am not sure if this is normal and I cannot compare to Japan yet.

I guess I could go on, but you get the idea. I was happy about Japan before, but after my visit to the US without my husband, I am so impressed and proud of all the services Japan offers. It is funny that Japan, a country that still has a large number of full-time moms has so many services no only for moms, but that both parents can enjoy, while the US, with a rising number of single working moms and two-dad families, offers almost nothing for male or female parents.

My experiences are mostly Tokyo and Nagano in Japan and Minnesota (Twin Cities and Rochester) in the US. Airports are Narita and SFO, ORD, and MSP.

Comments welcome.

When you DON’T want to be told that you look like your beautiful baby…

During a family bath a couple days ago, my husband lovingly says, “Oh, Fio DOES look like Mommy!” 

We’ve had ongoing talks about how she doesn’t really resemble either of us, so this was interesting to me and I was wonder what expression she had made or what reminded him of me. …I wish I hadn’t. He was looking at her butt and thighs as she tried to stand against the tub wall. Dimples on her plump butt and three rolls to her knees. 

I started cardio the next day and haven’t stopped. Sugar detox from Friday and healthy whole foods. This mama needs to get back in shape! 

Winter Fun!! …photos from February in Nagano

Iiyama snow festival (Feb 8-9)…

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Sledding (always!)…

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Igloo festival (late January through end of Feb)

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(did you notice her outfits change?? We went twice! We had to go back to see the completed shinkansen igloo!)

And finally the storms! (Feb 8-9 and Feb 14-17)

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Snow-locked Mada-pow: Winter Wonderland for locals only…

This weekend was set to be our biggest weekend since opening Crawfish Madarao. We had 6 reservations over the faux four-day weekend (Monday is an unofficial holiday or “sick day”- don’t tell your boss!) 

Jake and I began the weekend pumped for new visitors and a full-house in our humble mountain getaway. The forecast looked great for winter fun, the snow festival is on, and our pipes and water all running fine. THEN… The biggest snow storm in 45 years dumped on central and northern Honshu from East to West. Having lived in snow country for most of this season, we thought nothing of it, but our guests have to get out of the cities where snow is a rare occurrence. Some people got out, but no one got here. Alas our 6 reservations dropped to 1 and we’re in the red again. 

We knew it was a risk to open a B&B where more than half the year is “off-season” and the summer season requires a lot of advertising, but we didn’t consider that PERFECT winter weather, PERFECT MADA-POW is also disastrous weather. 

The snow festival is very local but super fun, I hope we can share with more people next year. 

The Igloo fest is ongoing for the rest of February.

Looking for the silver lining, without guests, we can go enjoy the festivals again today and report back to you for next year or later this month. With an extra 50cm on the ground at the bottom of the mountain and a little sunshine today, I am sure the sculptures will look amazing this afternoon. Off to see the life-size shinkansen at the Igloo festival and get Fio in the sled again.

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More photos to follow!!

Japan news: refreshing or threatening?

My husband and I are often working in the dining room during the day and the TV is usually on. A few days ago, 10 minutes of a 15 minute news program was taken up by the story of a missing 9- year-old girl. We both commented how special it is that the national news is taking so much time on this kind of story and the indication that this is very unusual in Japan.

The next 5 minutes were global headlines and a little campaigning for upcoming local elections in Tokyo.

The next show was a longer news program (like 20/20 or Dateline in the US) and the topic was a comedian who will retire to focus on being healthier to conceive a child. That was a 40-minute news program.

3 days later, I was playing with our daughter and the news was on. As usual, I wasn’t paying any attention to the TV, but my husband said, “they found the girl. Some guy in the building took her.” I showed concerned and inquired a little more about the news segment I’d missed. He left the room to get something and the next news story was about the comedian retiring to conceive a baby and going into detail about national statistics and Japanese women waiting to have babies. Then 5 minutes about Sochi Olympics, and another 5 minutes for other global headlines, Tokyo campaigning, and a brief comment on Thai elections.

It’s beautiful that they found that girl. It’s feels funny that this is the most important thing to report on followed by a woman’s choice to put her health and fertility ahead of a prominent public career: not just for one news segment or even one day, but really this was top news for three days. Japan is a generally apathetic and isolated country, and I’ve learned that even if I watched the news every day, all day, I probably wouldn’t know much more about the world or current events.

Print news is different, of course, but I think less and less are reading now. So if you rely on television, you’re totally isolated. Is this simple and beautiful? Keeping things at home and relevant mostly to your own country and area? Or incredibly ethno-centric and potentially dangerous?

…on a different note, I just wrote this while waiting at the doctor for a scheduled appointment. I waited 45 minutes to be seen for 10, but I only paid the equivalent of 2 US dollars thanks to my national health.

Indeed it is an interesting place to live and there is good and bad I. Everything or everyone. That’s not to stop us discussing what can be better, though. 🙂