Ever wondered where your ancestors came from? What mix of races and nationalities you might be? If yes, join the club! I've been dying to take a DNA Ancestry Test for ages now and was thrilled to partner up with 23andMe to test myself and my husband. We were provided 2 of their Ancestry Kits free of charge in exchange for sharing our experience, which I'm so excited to do! Read on for more about 23andMe and the services they provide, then watch our fun YouTube video below, which will walk you through the testing phase and show us reading our results live! SO FUN!!!!
Ancestry Report ($99)
Ancestry & Health Service ($199)
You can find out more and order your kits here.
And now, without further ado, our video!!! We'll walk you through the steps of completing the test kit and give you our honest live reactions to our results!!! Don't forget to like, comment, and subscribe to our YouTube channel!
Don't miss our $500 value 11-product jackpot BEST STROLLER ACCESSORIES GIVEAWAY, running through March 15, 2017!!
Enter to win here!!!
No, a public Japanese-English bilingual school doesn't exist in New York City... yet... but could be in the works!! Just saw this posted in one of my Facebook groups:
We are in the process of gathering a list of families that are interested in being a part of the first ever Japanese dual-language program in a New York City public school. If the idea of your child learning and speaking both Japanese and English from K-5 is appealing to you, please fill out the information below for our list. This list will help us in getting support from the Dept. of Education and other organizations that we are looking to partner with in making the program a reality.
We have been very lucky to have found two possible partnership schools in District 14. At this point, it is paramount that we show them in person just how much interest there is in starting a new dual-language program in Brooklyn! This vision is not just to benefit families interested in studying Japanese; dual-language programs have been known to transform school communities. Our efforts to bring more dual-language programs is part of a larger effort to improve and provide for more high quality choices in our very own public schools. Our decision to move forward with Japanese in D14 is because 1) Williamsburg and Greenpoint has the 2nd largest Japanese population in Brooklyn and 2) how is it possible that Japanese dual-language programs do not exist in all of DOE?
If you have time to come (with or without your wee ones) either tomorrow / Friday of this week to PS 147, we urge you to please come! We would love to have your support in droves! If you can also come next Wednesday to PS 196, they have invited Councilman Antonio Reynoso to address our wishes for schools in our district. What an opportunity to let decision-making folks know now what we want for our kids in the near future!
OPEN HOUSES (General, not just for the J-E Program):
Thursday and Friday, 3/20 & 3/21 at 9am PS 147 325 BUSHWICK AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map Phone: (718) 497-0326
Wednesday, 3/26 at 9am PS 196 207 BUSHWICK AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11206 Map Phone: (718) 497-0139
Finally, fill out this Google Docs form if you'd like to be kept in the loop by the movement's organizer, Lanny Cheuk! If you're like me and have no idea what school district you're in, you can find out here!
I can't say I'm not terribly bummed they're pushing for District 14. I mean, Williamsburg/Greenpoint is like another state when you're way down in Bay Ridge!!
Are you raising your child bilingually in languages native to you and your partner? Did you study a language and want your child to learn it as well? Do you only speak English but want your little one to have an additional language under his or her belt? Do you want to have fun learning a language together with your child? If you answered YES to any or all of the above, I have a totally awesome company to introduce you to... Little Pim!!
Founded by Julia Pimsleur Levine (daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur - created the Pimsleur Method), Little Pim is a language learning system geared toward children ages 0-6 (the prime time for language acquisition). It's a complete at-home program (DVDs, books, flashcards, and CDs) that helps children acquire a new vocabulary and a near-native accent!
You can choose from the following languages: Spanish, French, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian,English, Portuguese.
My husband is Japanese, but works a LOT so we worry that my son doesn't get enough Japanese exposure. My Japanese is conversational at best, but I don't want to use it with him much because I don't want to pass along my bad grammar and accent. Suffice it to say I was SUPER excited to try out Little Pim's Japanese pak.
I know I know, the AAP recommends no screen time before 2 years old. And for the most part I adhere to that. But I have 2 exceptions: 1) when mama is REALLY sick (i.e. flu, mastitis, etc), and 2) when it's for the purpose of having foreign language exposure! So, Little Pim certainly falls into this 2nd category! We've been watching it together, as it's done in a way that gives you time to repeat the words and phrases and engage your child. It's really fun! But for the sake of taking pictures, he was on his own for a while and look how into it he is!! I promise you, it's not just because it's TV. He couldn't give a rats you know what about Baby Einstein or the nightly news! haha!
Now that you have fallen in love with Little Pim as much as I have, enter to win a 3-pak dvd set below (language of your choice)!!
If you can't wait, or if you don't win (boo-hoo!), you can get 20% off all products on the Little Pim website with the promo code "LPHOLIDAY" (hooray!!!). You can also find Chinese, French, and Spanish Discovery Sets in Toys R Us nationwide.
Oh yeah, did I mention what an AWESOME Christmas (or Hanukkah) gift this would be!?!?
Follow Little Pim for news and promotions (FYI, these are included for extra entry points in giveaway)!
Little Pim Website
Without further ado, the GIVEAWAY!! (Enter in the Rafflecopter box below, US Residents over 18 only please)
**Disclaimer: Although I did receive this product free of charge, I was not compensated in any other way to do this product review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased.
Three years ago I today we tied the knot, got hitched, jumped the broom, or whatever you like to call it! I walked down the virgin road (that's what they call the aisle in Japan!! HA!!) in Hawaii of all places!! I'd never been there before, but it seemed like the perfect romantic and beautiful halfway meeting ground for our family and friends to join from America and Japan (as well as from Canada, Australia, and England). And it was!! It was such an amazing experience, one that I hope I will never forget!! Thank goodness we have the photos and videos to help us relive it anytime we want!
For a regular run of the mill couple, a destination wedding can be special and exciting, but for an international couple with families on opposite sides of the globe, I think there can't be anything better suited!! Rather than a one day thing, we stretched it into a long weekend full of events so everyone could meet and get acquainted and have fun! I did all of the planning from my computer in Japan, and it was a lot of work but definitely not impossible and worth the TONS of money we saved by not hiring a coordinator! Also saved a bunch by buying my dress used online! I found the style and size I wanted at David's Bridal during a visit home to the States, then searched high and low and got a second hand one online for all of $200 (new was about $900)!! To make matters even sweeter, I re-sold it after my wedding and made a slight profit!!
I got a room block and booked the wedding reception at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, and the wedding ceremony at the Ocean Crystal Chapel on the grounds of the Hilton. I considered a beach wedding but knew I'd be one ball of stress worrying about the weather!! I fell in love with the chapel the moment I saw it on the internet, and booked everything else at the Hilton because 1) it's beautiful and 2) we wouldn't have to worry about getting everyone to and fro on the wedding day.
One of the first nights, we had our two immediate families meet over dinner. The next day we hosted the entire group (about 30 guests) on a charter bus tour of the main island. We went to the Dole Pineapple Plantation, cute North Shore town of Haleiwa, Laniakea (Turtle Beach), Sunset Beach, the Shrimp Fields and lunch at a Shrimp Shack, Kualoa Park, and Pali Lookout. It was an awesome tour and I got a guide for the bus that was Japanese-English bilingual which was sooooo helpful! That night we had the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner at Tiki's Grill & Bar - which was YUM-O and with a very fun and festive Hawaiian atmosphere. Everyone got a commemorative t-shirt and wore them for a couple of pictures which was fun! All were free and did their own thing the morning of the wedding, and the ceremony started in the afternoon followed by the reception, all at the Hilton. We got a bilingual non-denominational minister and a bilingual MC who ended up being a HUGE help and took charge of many things a coordinator would have!! While we were pretty good with budgeting, we were still able to get all the important stuff like photographer and videographer (Fisheye), DJ, yummy cake and food and BOOOOOOZ (no choice with those last 3 - Hilton catered - was delish but a pretty penny!!). The morning after we all went for brunch at Shore Birds and then everyone flew off to their respective homes across the globe and Ryoji and I jumped off to the Big Island for our hot and steamy honeymoon.
Bish bash bosh - we were married, our families and friends met and loved each other, and we all just had the best most amazing vacation of a lifetime!! I HIGHLY recommend this kind of wedding, especially if you have loved ones spread out all around. But you have to be comfortable with the fact that certain people (i.e. elderly grandparents, friends with tight budgets or tough work schedules, about-to-pop preggos, etc) won't be able to join. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding your destination wedding!! I'm very proud with how ours turned out, and didn't even come close to breaking the bank, thank god!!
Little Kenzo was born with 100% Japanese eyes. No crease or double eyelid or whatever you call it. They were just like daddy's and gorgeous! Fast forward 2 months and overnight he developed the double lid... in ONE EYE!! From the start, he'd get it in both eyes when he was super tired, but apparently after 2 months his left eye just decided it wanted to be different and the crease stuck. So he's totally gotten this Victor-Victoria thing going on where the left half of his face is Asian and the right half is Western. Hmph. He's still a cutie but I hope one of his eyes will change at some point so they'll go back to matching!
With a mommy and daddy of two different races (even if you're the same race!), it is really quite fascinating to see how the genetics play out with your children. While pregnant, everyone says "Oh, mixed babies are the cutest! Your baby will be gorgeous!!!" and we hoped so but deep down you really do worry. What if he gets Ryoji's tiny eyes and my huge nose? What if he gets my pasty complexion and Ryoji's features and looks funky like a Japanese albino (no offense to Japanese albinos!!). We were pretty certain he would have brown eyes, because let's face it, there is no one with a recessive blue gene in Ryoji's family tree! But, light brown or dark brown, who knows! And green or grey or hazel, how do those happen?
Of course we are a wee bit biased but despite the mis-matched eyelids, we consider our little Kenzo kawaiiiiiiiiii (cute)!
We had ourselves a little Christmas baby just over 2 months ago. Little Kenzo arrived at 1:19 PM on Christmas day after a grueling 50 hour labor. With the help of Hypnobabies, I labored at home with my husband until hour 40, when I finally reached the point where contractions were close enough by the midwife's instructions (2-3 minutes apart for a few hours) to head to the hospital. We delivered at Manhattan's St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital's Birthing Center which was a wonderful experience!! You labor, deliver, and stay one night postpartum in a private room with a jacuzzi and queen size bed where dad and baby can stay with you the entire time. It's natural births only there, so there wasn't even a suggestion about pain meds and the midwife and nurse were AMAZING at getting me through the labor and getting my little one to progress down and out. They had me (and my husband!!) doing lunges and squat/sways up and down the hallways. That was TORTURE but I guess it did the trick. After breaking my water (the only intervention) and 1.5 hours of pushing, out he came and straight on my chest for kangaroo care. We both got the OK from the professionals and were discharged a mere 28 hours after birth.
Yes, it was incredibly painful. Yes, it was exhausting. But I am glad I went the natural route and it was a truly empowering experience. I knew the pain was productive and not due to sickness or injury (well, maybe the pain immediately AFTER the birth was injury-related pain, haha), and I knew it had a definitive end point. Each "pressure wave" (what hypnobabies moms call contractions) worked its way up to the intolerable point, but only stayed there for about 30 seconds or so and then eased its way back down and gave me a minute or two respite before the next one. Anyone can get through 30 seconds of excruciating pain, knowing it will go away (and come back, yuck), especially with wonderful and patient coaching.
If I could have had an epidural with the 100% guarantee that it wouldn't slow down my progress and lead to the need for pitocin, wouldn't hinder my ability to push, wouldn't take away my right to eat and drink and move about on my own, and wouldn't ultimately end in a c-section, then yes, I most definitely would have gone for it! And it seems most women in America do go for it (and most doctors and nurses encourage or even push it). Unfortunately, the risks I mentioned are quite frequent with epidurals (if you haven't seen it, watch "The Business of Being Born" - an amazing documentary about childbirth in America). I do not judge anyone who goes that route, in fact, up until a year ago when I watched that documentary I had no doubt that it would be epidural city for me!! But in the end, it just wasn't worth the risk for me and luckily I was able to endure the "discomfort" (another hypnobabies term, which looking back, is freaking HILARIOUS).
I could not wrap my head around was the price tag associated with this natural birth and short hospital stay. A whopping $25,000 was billed to my insurance company!! After paring that down using their "contracted rates", $15,000 was paid out by my insurance company to the hospital and my midwives' practice, and $3,000 was owed by my own little pocket. My city/county/state employed teacher friends like to brag that they paid a mere $25-100 for each of their births. My UK friends brag that it's entirely free over there!! In Japan, childbirth is not covered by insurance, but your city pays you a healthy stipend after you report the birth (part of their attempt to reverse their ever decreasing birth rate), usually around $3,000 I believe, which basically covers prenatal visits, birth, and ONE WEEK (luxurious and relaxing) stay at the birth clinic. But America's ridiculously problematic health care system is no surprise, after all...
So, what was your birth experience like? Gimme the good, the bad, and the ugly!
Born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey and North Carolina, no one would have guessed I'd move to Japan for 5 years, but long story short that is just what happened. I am a product of the JET Programme, a teaching exchange program that sends native English speakers to Japan to teach English and increase international awareness at public schools and in the community. It was a wonderful experience which I owe my deep gratitude for because it was during my stint in Ibaraki Prefecture that I met my wonderful amazing husband. How we met is a rather funny story (gay night at the club Ageha in Tokyo), but basically we dated briefly before I returned to America, did a year and a half of long distance with various rendezvous in Vietnam, America, and Japan, and finally I returned to Japan to make sure he was really "the one". Indeed he was and within a few years we were engaged, had a magical destination wedding in Hawaii, and finally quit our jobs, traveled the world for 1 month (literally - 9 countries!) and settled in the Big Apple.
On my 30th birthday we decided it was time to work on expanding our family, and it took 4 months to get the thrilling double line on the pee stick, followed by 9 long weeks of intense morning sickness, ick. I'm currently sitting here at 39 weeks, already on maternity leave, with my wee little bun in the oven not quite ready to come out it seems, which gives me a nice period to relax, nest, and get this blog started! Hooray!
Being American but having lived in Japan for 5 years and having married into a Japanese family, I have come to be quite familiar with the good, the bad, and the ugly of both the Japanese and American cultures. That said, it seems there is always a new shocker right around the corner in my household. "You think you'll get diarrhea if your stomach gets cold?" "A baby's name can bring them bad luck depending on the number of strokes in the kanji character, and the day/time/location of their birth??" "Your company actually thinks we'd be cool with you moving back to Japan, without your family, for a couple of years???" I mean, wow! But no matter the issue, it really is fascinating to delve into the reasoning and history behind it, which usually leads you to a better understanding. Now, whether or not you agree with the argument and the solution is a whole other story, but these are some of the fun things we'll be covering in this blog! But not just US-Japanese cultural issues, but also ones more generally applicable to any parents - such as whether or not to vaccinate, how to choose a pediatrician, shopping for baby on a budget, finding mommy support groups, etc!
I hope you'll not just be a loyal reader, but also an active participant in the discussions! Please let me know if you have a topic you'd like to guest blog about, or one you'd like to see me post about. All opinions are welcome!!
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1). This blog is chock full of product reviews, family travel guides, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, and several guides focused on kid-friendly activities and guides to South Brooklyn, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey, as well as family-friendly destinations beyond the NYC area (check the menu bar!)