Time with Mayuki

I’ve not had a lot of time to write blog entries recently. Work is quite busy (trying to catch up the time I lost over the New Year holidays, which is tricky because work doesn’t stop in the meantime), and, apart from keeping my Japanese blog going, I’m also trying to spend time with Mayuki.

Yesterday, the three of us went on a trip across Tokyo, to Yushima Tenjin, the Shinto shrine where Yuriko and I got married. From there, we went to Ueno Park, and had a nice walk through it before heading home. Mayuki was a good girl all day; she didn’t cry, and she slept through the boring bits (train rides, us eating), and stayed awake through the interesting ones (the shrine, the park). The shrine let us borrow a room to feed Mayuki, which was very nice of them; it meant that Yuriko could feed her at leisure, and probably contributed to her sleeping while we ate. That, of course, meant that we could eat at leisure, too.

Ueno Park was nice. It wasn’t too cold, and the weather was very clear (we saw Mount Fuji on the way into Tokyo, just peeping over the mountains), so the park looked very nice. One surprise was that the Hotel Sofitel is gone. I wonder what’s going to go up in its place. (By “gone” I mean “gone”; there is an empty space where it used to be.)

Today, Yuriko went to a kimono class. She’s been wanting to study it again for a while, and so I paid for a course as her birthday present from last year. That means that I look after Mayuki while Yuriko goes to study; it’s a bit difficult to practice putting a kimono on with a small baby in tow. So I got more time with Mayuki today; she slept for about an hour and a half, but for much of the time she was awake and wanted playing with, so we sang songs, read books, and danced round the room. Well, actually, I did the active stuff. Mayuki just watched and smiled or laughed.

She did do one active thing. We have a mobile in the living room, a gift from one of my students, and Mayuki really likes it. Today, while she was staring at it, I turned round. She turned her head back around to see it. She didn’t follow it with her eyes; her head doesn’t turn that way. Rather, she remembered where it was and turned to look back at it. Or so it seemed, at any rate.

The kimono class is every week, and Yuriko really enjoyed the first session, so I’ll get lots more opportunities to spend time with Mayuki like that.

Bath Time

As I have mentioned before, Mayuki really likes her bath time. When Yuriko brings her to the bathroom, she smiles and laughs, although she does frown a bit when I undress her, doubtless because it’s a bit chilly at the moment. She almost never cries, though.

Once I get her into the bath itself, she starts smiling again. Over the last week or so, she’s started talking to me while she has her bath. Before that, she was generally very quiet while in the water, and more chatty afterwards. Now she’s chatty all the time. Actually, in the bath she tends to coo, and outside she tends to be more vociferous.

One odd thing is that she really likes having her cheeks washed. While I’m doing that, she smiles and chuckles; yesterday she outright laughed. Of course, she likes it less if I get soap in her eyes, but that’s more likely to happen while I wash her forehead. (When it does, I just rinse her eyes, and she soon stops crying and gets on with enjoying the bath — most of the time. Sometimes she wasn’t in a very good mood to start with, and that pushes her over the edge.) She also likes having her chest and stomach washed, but not as much as her cheeks.

By this point she’s normally getting a bit restless; perhaps she’s bored with being in the bath. To wash her back, however, I support her with my right hand under her chest, and hold her out of the water while I soap her up. As she gets more squirmy, this is going to become too risky, but I can still keep her under control at the moment. There are definite advantages to having large hands.

Once she’s out of the bath and dressed, we have a look at the clean baby in the mirror. She’s become much more interested in this recently, smiling and reaching out. I don’t know whether she realises it’s her yet, but probably not. I tell her it’s her, but I somehow doubt that she understands that, either. Then I hand her over to her mother to have her hair brushed, while I tidy up.

It’s normally the last thing I do before I go to bed, and Yuriko tries to get Mayuki off to sleep soon afterwards, so it makes a nice end to the day.

Two Babies

Today a couple of our friends came round for the afternoon. They live just down the road (they walked here), he’s English and she’s Japanese, and their eldest daughter was born a week after Mayuki, in the same clinic. They’re even nice people. With that many coincidences, it has to be fate.

Anyway, we sat around and talked, and amused the babies. They aren’t really old enough to play together yet, but at least they didn’t burst into tears at the sight of each other. Mayuki was actually a really good girl for nearly all the of the afternoon, smiling at everyone and doing her press-ups when we put her down on her stomach.

It’s interesting to talk to them because, obviously, we face a lot of the same kinds of problems, and so we talked about registering births with the British Embassy, renewing passports, and trying to change your name in Japan. They decided to hyphenate their two surnames. In England, this can, apparently, now be done over the internet. In Japan, to get her name changed, they had to go to court, several times, and fight the bureaucracy quite hard. In the end they won, except that they need a document proving that hyphenated names are legal in the UK. At least it shouldn’t be too difficult to get… (I mean, won’t his passport do?)

It’s really rather strange, because there’s a lot of opposition in Japan to changing the law to allow a Japanese married couple to have different surnames. However, when an international couple want to make their surnames the same, they throw all these obstacles in their path.

Anyway, it was a good afternoon, so we’re looking forward to the next time we meet them.

Mayuki Talking

Over the last couple of days Mayuki has started “talking” a lot more. Indeed, as I type this she’s carrying on a one-sided conversation with Yuriko in the next room. She had a period a few weeks ago when she made a lot of noise, but then she went quiet again. That phase also seems to be over now. She’s still not very good at consonants, but she has a good range of vowels, and I think she tries to imitate me when I make vowel sounds at her. She’s not very good at it yet, but there do seem to be differences between her default sounds and what she says after I say “OOOoooOOOooo” to her.

One advantage is that it seems to have reduced the amount she cries. When she wants attention, she calls for us first, and keeps that up for quite a while before she actually starts crying. We can take advantage of the warning to get to a suitable stopping point with whatever we are doing before going to see her. I do try to get to her before she actually starts crying; that way, she might decide that just calling is enough. The other advantage is that, although she sometimes stops crying instantly when given attention, it sometimes takes a little while, whereas if she’s just calling she’s immediately ready to play or whatever.

It will, of course, get even easier when she can manage words.

Four Month Check-up

Yesterday, Mayuki had her three/four month checkup. These are run by the city ward, so they are free, and happen once a week. This week was a bit busy, due to the New Year holiday, so Yuriko thinks that there were about 50 or 60 babies there, but Mayuki was the cutest. Of course, I suspect a lot of other mothers thought that their baby was the cutest…

The upshot was that Mayuki is completely healthy, with nothing to worry about. She’s relatively small, but normal, and all her development seems to be proceeding normally. Indeed, this morning, after Yuriko put the small wooden bear toys back on her bouncer, Mayuki played with them for the first time. She is still not very good at reaching for them, but she was clearly doing it, and deliberately pushing them, looking at them and concentrating hard on what she was doing.

She’s growing up…

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone.

We had a really nice New Year holiday. First, Mum and Ray came to visit us on the return leg of their New Zealand trip, then we went to Nagoya to stay with Yuriko’s parents for a few nights. A detailed report, with photographs, will follow when I have time, which will probably be the weekend.

In the meantime, here is a quick Mayuki update. She has rolled over from her tummy to her back several times now, and is very active in sucking her fingers and thumbs. She’s also getting even chattier, and capable of calling out in a loud voice without crying. Sometimes I think she’s trying to imitate the sounds I make to her, but she’s not very good at it yet, so I’m not entirely sure. She’s also started grabbing things more actively, and has reached the stage where she enjoys playing with us, and cries if we stop playing before she’s ready. Since she likes playing “flying baby” games, my arms often get tired before she does. She will have to learn patience, but I believe that will take a very long time…

This really has to be a short update, because I start work again today, and I’ve only just dug myself out from under the email that had built up during the holidays. So now for lunch, and then to continue working.