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Monday, February 21, 2011

The Year of the Snow Bunny

This is the year of the rabbit, according to the Chinese calendar.  We woke up the other day to a snow covered scene that excited the girls.  Even more exciting was the mysterious snow bunny left in the parking lot in front of our house.  Whoever made it took a lot of time and effort to do so.  The facial features were quite detailed and if you look at the photos it is quite large.  I imagine that took a few hours of the early morning to make.

Anyway it was a surprise, seeing that we do not get much snow in winter time.  But this winter has certainly been a long and cold one, and we are awaiting its end, eagerly. 

Apparently the year of the rabbit is seen as a year of ease, comfort, and leisure.  It is a year of temperance, care free and happy without too much annoyance.  It is a stark difference from the previous year, the year of the tiger. 

Interesting to note the strong cultural ties between China and Japan in reference to such things as superstitions, astrology, and other mystical traditions. 

However, all mysticism aside, to be honest I really hope this year is indeed a rest from the storm of raising the girls in the midst of many other struggles.

So here`s to a new year, already underway! May it be a good year for all of you as well!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Turning the Page

Well, just one more month to go and we are in a new chapter.  Anna will be starting first grade in April. There a lot of preparations that still need to be done, clothes need to bought, and other various school supplies as well. 

The thing that I think I keep putting off is the mental preparation.  It hasn`t hit me yet...  I still cannot imagine it clearly.  My little girl, who I use to hold in one arm, will be going off to school all by herself.  Part of me is afraid to think about it.  The other part is shocked that we made it this far already.

Having three children keeps me busy, and I must confess that it is difficult for the oldest one.  They have a higher set of expectations placed on them and as a parent you lack the experience to guide them, because for you it is the first time too for everything.

My mistakes as a parent will ,no doubt, be apparent as my daughter enters school.  In Japan, school is serious business and I am far from serious when it comes to study myself.  I am confident in my daughter`s abilities, but fear for her weaknesses.  I can only hope and pray that she is able to engage herself and connect with good people.

As the time draws near and the page begins to turn, I feel my heart yearn for the time of her infacy, her precious little smile, and the look of joy and peace in her eyes as a new born babe, but it is passed.  We must go forward, despite our many failures and struggles, regrets and short-comings. 

We must turn the page and witness the events of the lives of our children, hoping to cherish it all, but weather the storm of parenting them through it all.

If you really want to see what you are a made of, taking care of three little girls will definitely teach you a thing or two!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Little Girl Drivers

This past weekend we went to one of our favorite parks.  The weather warmed up and it was fun to see the girls get out and have fun outside.  Winter is always hard on us, because the kids stay indoors most of the time and have lots of energy which is difficult to keep under control.  Surprisingly, February is the coldest month of the year in Japan, but the weather and weekend came together nicely for us.

The unique thing about this park is that the girls can actually drive around on little cars and motorcycles.  There is no track, so it is true open road.  It seems to be both scary and exciting for them, but they have really gained confidence in their driving skills as of late.  I laugh thinking about it.  I don`t remember driving Go-Karts before the age of 6 years old, and here my girls are riding around like it`s no big deal.

Of course there are the occasional "WATCH OUT"s and "I`m stuck Daddy!", but overall it isn`t very stressful for me.  I enjoy watching them figure things out, and I love to see the excitement as they drive around.

As you`ll see below, it is pretty cool that they can ride around freely.

Oh and don`t forget the horsies too!

And also I took some video of the girls chasing bubbles.  I focus on our youngest since she was the most excited chasing after the bubbles.

Just another day with the girls, they go bye quickly and there is something to cherish with each one, particularly the fun days...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Good Dad, Bad Dad

Got you, you little brat!

Some days being a dad is a blast! The kids enjoy being with me and I enjoy seeing them have a good time.  It brings me joy and I am inspired to be a better father and make the most of the years I have with my little children.

However, I must confess there are days I wish I could do over.  Days when I have to play the bad guy, when I have to raise my voice or punish, when I respond to their disobedience and bad attitudes by giving them a day filled with tears.

When I find out that bad behavior is going on and I try to find out the details, it turns into a dramatic situation.  It is kind of like when you watch a show on TV and the interrogation begins and you have the old good cop, bad cop routine going on.

I ask one, usually the crier "What happened?" and then move on to the culprit.  Asking the questions and demonstrating with angry gestures how mad I am.  e.g. ANGRY FACE, HANDS FLAILING, FOOT STOMP, etc.
Other times I will sit the culprit on my knee and talk to them sweetly and promise a reward for their change in behavior. An example being, "I know you did something wrong and I know you want to do the right thing, in fact, if you leave your sister alone and be good for the rest of the night I will bring you a treat home from work tomorrow."

The approach really depends on the situation, and I am sure I probably go against every book on "child raising" the way I parent.  Yet it works for now, and the more I see my girls mature the more I realize I need to modify my approach as well.

The key I think is growing together with your children, not trying to raise them perfectly.  If you stay flexible as a parent you will be able to understand your children and speak into their lives with more impact when the times comes.  Well that is my hope at least.

So again as I watch them go to sleep as I type this, I wonder what kind of daddy I will be tomorrow.  Good Dad or Bad Dad?  Recently I am little tired of having to play the bad guy...but somebody has to do it, right?