Tired Gaffaws & Fublunders

In an instant of extreme toddler tiredness,

my daughter asked,





Can I

Can I wear



your hee-highs?”


I would love to, if they wouldn’t ruin her back

and maybe turn her bony four-year old ankles

into hurting, falling on the floor.



I love when we, people

and our shorter people

coin the next new hot phrases

out of tired “his-maps”, you know, “miss-haps”?

like when I call Peter and Lori,

“Leter and Pori”.


So today,

even though it is a rainy mess outside,

I would very much like to wear

my “hee-highs”

and dissolve into fits of “taugh-ler.”





Being International, Some Signs

Here are some of the signs, or recorded proof that I am often out of my element, or struggling to make myself understood. Raising kids in Japan is not always the easiest, but it is good. Our kids know lots about travel, accents, longing, and belonging. Maybe much of this is true if you are international, expat, bicultural, or multilingual. Gimme your thoughts!


1. Your three-year-old suddenly loves using the word “boobies” with what she has deemed, “a French accent”. She also experiments with a clean British accent, at which point she lifts her chin and calls out, “Mother”–

2. She has understood the International Date Line for years.

3. Your son’s day care teacher uses a translate app to log his day, penning, “This is shit” to tell me about diarrhoea.

4. Only one person (a girl’s mom you tutor) calls your home phone. Because everyone else has learned it is useless to call.

5. All the day care parents think you have the most fashionable kids ever because on vacations and in care packages, there is Target, otherwise known as The Best Place in America, barring family and spiritual community.

6. You once called out, “Poor kid!” to a baby and his mother when you really wanted to say, “Wow, so cute.” (Your husband then scuttled you off at the next stop).

7. You sing each word to every Muzak song played at the grocery store, with a sophisticated air, as if to say, “I may be slightly illiterate here, but I know my American songs, you guys.” (Sometimes “you guys” is substituted for a more pizzazzy word, like “b—–s” or “jerks”).

8. You still stop to take pictures of daily occurrences like this man who is apparently a one-man recycling truck. wpid-wp-1403063711292.jpeg

9. You cannot ask anything or explain anything, but your smile lines sure get lots of use. They are now deep, deep grooves.

You can’t fake joy, you don’t want to just “get through the day”. I figure it best to start with a smile. I can always learn Japanese…right??

Here’s lookin’ at you,



Hugh Grant, Emerging Language, & Finger Puppets!

If I were doing a product review, or working at a fancy, income producing blog, I would shine the spotlight on this new company I’ve become rather smitten with.


I found Mudpuppy just now when I flipped over the (bright minimal) packaging which held together my kiddos’ finger puppets. They were a great find at this teeny mom-n-pop bookshop in my mom’s neighborhood of Mt. Airy. I loaded them onto the counter with my other quality splurges and enjoyed unpacking them, back in Tokyo. I used the word, “splurge”, only, these were just over five bucks and are really quite substantial.

Do you know what I mean when I write, “finger puppets”? You slide your index & middle finger in & voila! Legs. Use ’em as puppets to play with your baby or toddler. Sing, speak, read, or tickle, dance, to your baby. They are so visually appealing. Older kids/toddlers will admire the front and backs of the finger puppets and may start telling their own free-thought up stories or re-enact other tales.


I am already plotting a pirate party for my son, or perhaps these puppets would serve well as party props and then gifts following a Peter Pan party! I spot Smee, Hook, and the ticking of the croc.


I bought a woodland/forest animal theme, but there are terrifically scary monsters, enchanting mermaids, strong hometown heroes, les characters  classique de Babar, prancing pastel ballerinas, these awesome pirates, princesses, and really really cool robots. Robots! Muddpuppy also has shadow puppets…ooooooh, right?

Most homes are not in need of new toys. Usually, parents are hard pressed to find free space, or even a walkway in between scattered Legos or accumulated stuffed animals. Living rooms are no longer places suitable for adults and every home seems to be hurting for a spacious playroom. Just last night, my husband and I conspired on how to get rid of some of Kariin’s larger stuffed animals and we wondered what she would actually miss/notice missing if we do not call attention to the pitching fest/giving away spree.

We clearly don’t have room for space-eating fluff. But quality toys that promote language development? Toys crafted by artists? Toys like these Mudpuppy finger puppets, made of 90% recycled papers, free of phthalates (usually found in plastic/children’s’ toys which may cause hormonal/birth defects), and printed with gorgeous nontoxic inks? This is the kind of company I want to get behind and support. Plus, how room can finger puppets, even the entire collection take up? Small tools, big linguistic and creative benefits.

I know. I always bring up language. I’m a teacher and the mother to two bilingual kids. Promoting language is a big deal, big business, and big fun.

They’re just playing. How does that promote language? Well, we know oral language comes first. Storytelling, role playing emerges well before written language and should be given room and the space to grow. Making your home sing and buzz with sock puppets, finger puppets, stick puppets, shadow puppets is like hiring a petting zoo. It brings in materials for play. It gives kids the props they need to support original thoughts, creative windows of time. You’ll hear rich vocabulary and big ideas. This is different play than when they use characters from a movie to re-enact the same scene they’ve xeroxed into their mind. This isn’t merely Ariel or Elsa mirrored alongside the DVD, nor is it the sorta grunting, minimal verbal interaction of firing lasers and guns. This is when you will her them process all the language of their week, all the language from story time…if you support it. This convo reminds me of this post, here

I tell parents I work with to get back to the verbal language interchange. It never hurts to build up spoken language, especially if you are aware of using & explaining rich language and a wealth of stories. What is put in & planted will again emerge. Record it, celebrate it.

Literacy is supposed to be fun, right? Copy the great sentences and phrases your child cooks up. Read it back to them. Show them the connection between their verbal speak and the written word. Do what we teachers call a “Think Aloud”, as you sort of stumble through your thoughts like in a quirky Hugh Grant flic. Can you picture him bumbling around with you and your kids? You know, like, “Oh, right, right! I need a capital G here and oh, dear, what was the word you said after “and then”?” I hope you said this in your best & most British Mr. Grant impersonation. With all this playing, reading, & dictating, you’ll have a short scrip, what we teachers call “Reader’s Theatre.” And then you’d have to invite Mr. Grant to stay for tea & then a full dinner.

There are so many ways to play with these little puppets. I’m looking forward to seeing what my daughter does with them today. Instead of turning on the TV for that little after school/before dinner window, I’m gonna toss her these.

Boom http://mudpuppy.com

Why aren’t I in advertising?

Love & fun,


Tacos & Tacos

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter looked at me pretty funny. I said we would be having tacos for dinner that night.

To me, “tacos” involve crunchy shells, great handfuls of cheese, refried beans, terrifically spiced beef, lively salsa, the works, all rammed into that shell, daring you not to slop-up your sleeves or look toooo uncivilised about it. Basically, the best non-first-date food ever. Did I mention it’d been a while since I’d had them?

Back to the funny, raised eyebrow-are-you-serious-mom-look. To her, taco=octopus. This is a fun Japanese-English, er, Spanish overlap.

And her mama was so excited about eating tacos!! Huh?


In her sweet, pigtailed mind, she pictured long red tentacles, white suckers, and she, being fully aware, that as Jews, we don’t eat octopus (or squid, shrimp, pork, scallops, mussels, etc, etc), was obviously confused.

Here in Tokyo, octopus is quite relevant. Everyday, we pass outdoor fish markets and a small mom and pop market on the way to and from our hoikuen/preschool where the sweet little taco is wrapped in cellophane, its tell-tail bumps and color all the rage. Here, they come sliced in salads; here,  marinated taco is on many-a-menu.


I once witnessed a gorgeous eight-legged guy fished out of a large live tank, jut behind our sushi bar. The chef flung him onto plexiglass where the octopus was a bit of a show, sliding and roving on “dry land” until being thrown into boiling water. All this while I sipped my green tea and added another dollop of wasabi to my small plate. Of course I looked up to see that same poor octopus pulled out of his pot of death, its now purplish body immediately sliced-up. “Ding ding ding! Special taco available right now!!” Everyone called out for their share. It took me a few good swigs of my nama beer to get through the piece of sushi I’d been working on.

Side-note: The first time I visited a Japanese aquarium, I was taken aback. I am used to placards and conversation around tanks involving words like, “endangered, threatened, overfishing, beautiful, nature, wow.” You get the idea.

It was a very different experience at this aquarium in Shizuoka, Japan. Everywhere I turned, no matter the tank, I heard peals of “Oishii so! Tabetai! I want to eat that! That fish looks delicious!!!” Forget nature and preserving.

Sometimes taco=lunch.



Following up our deliciously messy dinner, the famous father-daughter duo cracked open another shell–

and dove into our new hardcover book, Dragons Love Tacos.

It was so good.