Posted on July 20, 2014 by Matt Apple
I owe my love of organic gardening to my father, who started growing his own vegetables on the Methodist Church property behind our apartment in the “oil crisis” of the early 1970s. From him, I learned how to compost, properly prepare the soil, plant both seeds and seedlings with appropriate trellises, water and mulch during hot weather, and keep away pests without using chemicals.
“Organic” has taken a bad rap in the US media, thanks to lacksidaisical labeling that allows certain percentages of chemically-based fertilizers and pesticides. My veggies may not look as pretty as the store-bought kind, but they taste sweeter, have more pulp, and have a high yield. More importantly, I know exactly what my kids are eating.
Filed under: eating, Japan, nutrition, parenting | Tagged: cooking, food, gardening, organic | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 4, 2014 by Matt Apple
Paternity leave just got a big mention in US media this past week, thanks to baseball.
New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took three days leave for the birth of his son in Florida. Radio talk show personality Mike Francesca took some pot shots at the concept of paternity leave, for 20 minutes straight, saying that he was “surprised” that men would even need three days off. In any profession.
“What are you gonna do? Are you gonna sit there and look at your wife in the hospital for two days?”
Filed under: gender roles, media, parenting, Paternity leave, roles, work | Tagged: baseball, Daniel Murphy, Mets, Paternity leave, sports | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 15, 2014 by Matt Apple
As I posted some time ago, we were fortunate that my oldest daughter was able to enter a city-approved nursery school. We were even more fortunate to have first choice on a new housing plot that wasn’t even technically on the market when we were shown it by the real estate company. To make a long story short, we built a house less than a five-minute walk from the biggest, and oldest, nursery school in our city. It’s run by the local Buddhist temple, has around 120 kids from infant to 6 years old, and is very, very well organized. Cost? Depends on your income, but in our case we pay roughly the equivalent of $650 a month for the oldest daughter. Our youngest daughter had to go to a private, non-approved nursery another 10-minute walk away, but thanks to the “point system” lottery to determine eligibility to enter nursery schools, our youngest was also lucky enough to enter the same nursery school as my oldest in April of last year. Needless to say, I probably should have posted this about 11 months ago….
Filed under: day care, festivals, Japan, parenting, school, Uncategorized | Tagged: child care, child-raising, day care, Japan, Japanese, nursery school | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 23, 2014 by takingleaveinjapan
Since my daughter was a baby, she’s been obsessed with rabbits (usagi, in Japanese). We first had a stuffed sheep doll for her, but she quickly became enamoured of a musical pink bunny whose cord she could pull to start up a lullaby. When my wife’s great-grand aunt brought a white bunny with a purple ribbon as an early birthday gift, my daughter was hooked.
I don’t think the bunny was ever meant to be an actual child’s toy – we had to repair it on more than one occasion, as my daughter enjoys throwing it up in the air and flinging it by its feet — but it quickly became inseparable from our daily life. Usagi-san’s ears were frequently subject to all sorts of decorations: hair-bonnets, rubber bands, arm bracelets, hair clips and anything else my daughter could figure out how to attach.
At some point I started to pretend to be Usagi-san and “talk” to my daughter to get her to eat food she didn’t like (which was basically everything from age 2 to 3). From that point, Usagi-san became a part of our family. Our eldest would bring the doll to bed every night and pat it on the stomach saying, “Ne-ne shite” [Go to sleep]. She would bring it to every meal and make it taste her food to make sure the food was OK to eat. She would pretend that Usagi-san was sick and give it medicine. Once she started nursery school, Usagi would also go to “animals nursery school.” After some time, she began to insist that Usagi-san was a girl and demanded that my wife make the doll a purple velvet skirt (which eventually stained the bottom half of the doll purple).
The climax of our eldest daughter’s relationship to her “baby” Usagi-san doll came during our first trip to a zoo in Kobe last spring. Continue reading
Filed under: baby toys, family outings, Japan, parenting, separation anxiety, trips | Tagged: baby toys, child-raising, dolls, fatherhood, Japan, Japanese, Kobe, separation anxiety, trips, zoo | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 18, 2011 by Matt Apple
One of the problems with maintaining a blog about child raising is that the child-raising itself takes so much time that thee is little time to blog about it. If I thought I had little to,e last year while on child care leave, I have even less time this year now that I’m back to full time work teaching.
Being a teacher in Japan leaves even less time, since the time demands include evenings and weekends. My current school requires me to be in charge of at least one sports-related club and my committee work requires me to sacrifice entire weekends from time to time. My school additionally has various entrance exams during the year — five of them in total — which require me to give up holidays. There are also Open Campus days, School “Experience” days, Entrance Explanation days, and other administrative-oriented events…most of which take place on the weekend so that parents and prospective students can attend.
So, when I was recently asked to work a second weekend in a row, to chaperone students to a speech contest, I requested that another English teacher take charge, arguing that I hadn’t seen my daughter in almost 8 days.
My request rankled a few feathers. Continue reading
Filed under: colleague reactions, family outings, Japan, parenting, work | Tagged: child care, child-raising, fatherhood, Japan, Japanese, parental leave, Paternity leave, work, workplace hostility | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 24, 2011 by Matt Apple
"Nyuenshiki" (entrance ceremony). The sign reads "omedeto" (congratulations).
Starting April 1st this year (the beginning of the school year in Japan), I went back to work and my daughter started her first year at a nearby private nursery school. Even prior to the official first day, we attended an “entrance ceremony” (nyuen-shiki) complete with teacher and administrator introductions (a bit too long for most 2 and 3 year olds) and a couple of songs for the kids. Followed by a photo session. We later paid a few dollars for nice photographs taken by the nursery school’s contracted photographer, both posed and random shots during the ceremony.
To be honest, I was totally confused by the Japanese nursery school system and left most of the paperwork up to my wife. Continue reading
Filed under: day care, Japan, parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged: child care, child education, child-raising, day care, education, fatherhood, half-Japanese, Japan, Japanese, kindergarten, nursery school | 1 Comment »