Thanksgiving 2013!!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. A day long regarded as a day to pig out on a decadent meal of American "comfort foods" and a day to give thanks for the ability to do so. I did both of these things.
Our Dinner

I made a turkey seasoned and stuffed with just bacon, garlic, and onions. (and some Costco no-salt seasoning) 
Wild brown rice and red and black quinoa, soaked overnight and then made takikomi with turkey broth, chicken bouillon, and diced celery and carrots. 
 Creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, corn, brussel sprouts, and gravy. 
 dinner is served!!

Dessert: a double layered kabocha and sweet potato pie, with a crust made of cheerio crumbs, butter and sugar, topped with some whipped cream (from the can!) 

Yasushi came home from work at around 3pm--he got the evening off for Thanksgiving, and he joined Chinami and I for dinner. When you work in the service industry that mainly caters to Japanese customers, getting American holidays off is a privilege, not a right, but this year we were extremely lucky, Yasushi getting the evening off, and me getting a paid holiday in between my usual days off for 3 consecutive days off.

I'm not just thankful to have a work schedule flexible enough to have been able to spend Thanksgiving with the two people that mean the most to me in this world....I am thankful just to be able to work. With little working experience in the US, the competitive job market in Hawaii, and the fact that I have to rely on the kindness of my neighbors, my husband who is working 60+ hours a week, and expensive childcare to take care of Chinami when I am working, I was not confident that I would be able to get a good job....but instead, I got a great job where I can lead groups of guests and hopefully make their day a little better, and I also work in an office with great co-workers, a coffee machine, and needlessly complicated communication systems and excel sheets. Oh, I am also thankful for the kindness of said neighbors. They have given Chinami so much love and taught her so much, sometimes I wonder if Chinami thinks she is really Tongan instead of hapa.

And then there's Chinami. I'm so thankful to be able to be her mother. I'm thankful for having had such a healthy, easy pregnancy, a peaceful home birth and more than enough breastmilk to nourish her and help her through all the difficulties of being a toddler. I'm thankful for every hug, kiss, and smile she gives me, and I'm even thankful for the times she tells me "no" too, because that's how I know that she will be strong and independent. I am also thankful because becoming her mother has helped me overcome many hurdles within myself that were holding me back, and for the first time in my life, I truly have confidence in myself, mentally and physically. I also am thankful to have access to the Internet and library, which gives me a wealth of information which I can use to better my life and my family's life, and work to break the cycle I was unfortunately

born into.
Anyway, with the cost of living the way it is here in paradise, we don't have much in the way of material goods. The money we earn that isn't spent on the bare necessities is mostly put away in hopes that maybe someday we can own, not rent, our home. And I'm fine with that, because I know from experience growing up, that no matter how much you spend on superficial matters and material things, it will not make you happy. Love from my family, working for my money, and being informed and confident, physically and mentally, make me happy.

And the bacon infused turkey was really, really good too. :D


Spirituality. 精神性について

In America, the Christian religion is very prevalent.  Growing up, I pledged allegiance to my nation...which is a (forced) act of patriotism, but within that I had to say the phrase "under God." (and we also had to listen to the national anthem, in which the lyrics glorify bombs and war but alas, this post will be about religion.) In court, you have to put your hand on a Bible and pledge that you will tell the truth "so help you God."

Growing up, I was never really "given" a religion. There were no specific rules or guidelines taught to me about what God we worship or which faith we "belong" to. My mother was Jewish, and my father Christian, much like Tommy Pickle's parents on the Rugrats. (Bottles, spoonfed purees, cribs and playpens and all!) Occasionally we would have a Seder for Passover or light a Menorah for Hanukkah when my grandfather was still alive and had his mental facilities, we celebrated Christmas but never in the Jesus way, in the commercialized Santa-Tree-Presents way. I never have been to a synogague in my life, but I did go to church with my paternal grandmother and with friends on more than a few occasions.

Knowing this, you might say I was lucky to have the freedom to form my own ideas and opinions regarding faith and higher beings. However, it was not so much "freedom" as simply a "lack of guidance".
In high school, I did try to seek out my own spirituality, and I was attracted to Paganism, Wicca, Druidism, and other nature-based religions. I was shamed and ridiculed by my FOO, and they even went as far as to prevent me from having friends that shared my interests. So I was forced to hide my faith, and by the time I went off to college, I was "non-religious" once again.

And then I went to Japan, where most families are non-religious. It is said that Japanese are born Shinto, get married Christian, and die Buddhists. Japanese often ask God for favors and say little prayers, but they are merely praying to their idea or vision of a God, not the Christian God.
In Japan, I went to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines regularly as both part of my studies and for fun. They are commonly popular sightseeing spots and it is customary to say a small prayer or buy an o-mamori, or good luck charm when you go. It is also customary to visit a local shrine within three days of the New Year to say a prayer.

Now I live in Hawaii, where Christianity is the most common faith. However, the second most common is Buddhism, and there are plenty of Jews, Pagans, Shintoists, and Tenri-kyo too. It's a fun mix, and everyone seems easy-going about their neighbor's different faiths or lack thereof.

Which makes me wonder why some people try to force their beliefs on others or stigmatize another person's beliefs. Why is one faith "crazy" or "misguided" compared to another? Don't they all practice some form of meditation, chanting, constructing of altars, lighting of candles, belief of an afterlife in which your loved ones are still with you in some form and not just "dead"?

I know what I believe.

I believe in the concept of a balance of energies and spirits in nature and the four elements.
I believe in the concept of a soul, and in reincarnation.
I believe in meditations and incantations as ways to connect with your faith.

At the present, I do not belong to one religion, and I am fine with that. I don't need to put a label on my faith to feel comfortable with it, and I wish more people would be more open to other peoples' spirituality, it would make the world a better place.








SIDS and co-sleeping: simple numbers and facts to think about.

Fact: SIDS is also called "cot death" or "crib death" in the UK and the US.

Fact: In Japan and most other countries around the world, co-sleeping is still the norm.

For the year 2010:
The population of Japan was 128,057,352.  The number of SIDS deaths was 147.

The population of the US was 308,745,538.  The number of SIDS deaths was 2,063.

Japan SIDS research site

US SIDS research site.

This is a very informative article, I recommend it! 


RIP "Poppy" Max Kaplan

August 8th, 1921 - May 5th, 2005
Hopefully, when you reach your final destination, whatever that is, you'll remember me. And remember that I love you very much. and that I admire you, for how smart you were, and I will never, ever forget the Kaplan side of me. Thank you so much for everything, for giving me apples when I was little, for watching me while my parents worked, for giving me Hanukkah gelt every year, even if it wasn't much, thank you for always telling me stories, stories that I can take with me and tell to my future kids, and tell them "this is what I am. This is what I came from." 
And thank you for caring so much about my future. When I was a little kid you hardly knew, you started to give me a future. Because of your planning, I can go to college, pursue an education and a dream. You made it possible.
Thank you so much. I was selfish, and I couldn't be by your side when you needed me, and you forgot me in the end...but thank you.

This is something I wrote right after I got the phone call that he had passed. 

I was studying for finals, finishing my second year of college at UH, both my parents and my boyfriend respectively 3,000 miles away, me all alone. 
I got the phone call from my mom.  I thought I still had time, that he would hang on in hospice for just a couple more weeks until I got there. I burst into tears, and my parents hung up on me instead of staying with me so we could talk through our grief together. That night Yasushi stayed on the phone with me for several hours as I cried, talked through my happy memories with my Poppy, and feelings of grief, regret, and sadness at his disease and the time we couldn't have together, and what he lost. 
I couldn't go to the funeral, and when I got back, there was no mention of my grief or efforts to give me closure. However, although I still was not sure at that point, now that I have truly been able to explore and affirm my own spiritual beliefs, I do not need any of that. 

Enough about his death. 

My grandfather, Max Kaplan was born into a Russian Jewish family, and he was born at home because "that's how they did things back then", however there was a discrepancy on what date he was actually born, and a while after he had become an adult, he learned that his birthday was actually August 8th, and not August 9th like he had always been told. Being from a strict Jewish family, he spoke fluent Yiddish and was raised on a Kosher diet and celebrated all the Jewish holidays complete with all those prayers and stuff in Hebrew. He had a finesse for languages and became fluent in Spanish and also knew how to speak several other Romance languages competently, which came in handy when he travelled to Europe. He worked as an Investigator for the City of Philadelphia and was named the "Ace of Investigators" for all the funds he recovered for the city. He also loved Jazz and wrote the book on jazz collecting, literally. He was invited to join MENSA but declined because he didn't want to pay the membership dues. 
He loved collection. He would write celebrities and ask for their autographed pictures, and he has several albums full of them, not just for himself, but made out to his daughter and grandchildren. In his safe deposit box, he also had signatures of past Presidents and historical figures. He also loved to collect rare colored diamonds. His job with the City didn't pay a very high salary, but he always budgeted strictly to make sure he had money to invest in both monetary assets and his collections, with enough to take a budget trip to Europe every so often. When he cut corners to save money, it was mostly from his own personal budget first. He took any free sample or commodity he could and was a couponer decades before it was cool. He wore clothes and shoes until they had so many holes they could not be repaired any more. And he did not spoil his children, or even his grandchildren, with useless material things like fashionable clothes and accessories, video games or junky plastic toys. He gave them the bare minimum at birthdays and holidays, and the rest, he saved for them in bank accounts, and when his daughter got married for the second time and wanted to buy a house, he made the downpayment so his future granddaughter would have a home to live in.  He did the same later, when they moved to the suburbs, he paid the rest of their mortgage so they wouldn't have to worry about it. He always told his daughter that he didn't need his money, that he only saved it so his children and grandchildren could live a good life. 
Poppy also loved cats. He always had a cat in the house. He met his wife, my grandmother, via a pen-pal service. She was from Cuba and wanted to learn English. They married, she moved to America, and had my mother. Unfortunately the marriage ended and Poppy never remarried, although he did have a very kind-hearted lady-friend named Lucille who became like a grandmother to me. 
Poppy used to love to play checkers with me and my brother, and we would watch TV together and he always told stories peppered with Yiddish phrases. I wish I could remember more of them, but my mind is blocking out a lot of my memories from those years because of the negative associations. We went to visit him in his assisted-living home, but all I remember is my parents laughing at him when he repeated the same story over and over because of his disease and then ignoring him and talking over him for an hour and then leaving, their obligatory visit done. 
After his Alzheimer's progressed, he would say "they will find a cure for it...the day I die!", he talked and even retained his Spanish through the advanced stages of the disease. His brain was so strong. 
I was so lucky to know him for the short time I did, and I will do my best to live my life while remembering all the things he taught me. I already started a bank account for Chinami, and although the cost of living is high and our salaries are modest, I am saving up all I can to buy us a home someday. We won't have many material things, all of that is nothing with nothing anyway, but we will have a good life, like Poppy would have wanted, and we will ALWAYS go in good health, and come back in good health. 


World Breastfeeding Week ~ my nursing relationship with Chinami

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!
Chinami has been breastfeeding for almost 13 months now.  She knows the ASL "milk" sign and is never shy to let me know she wants some! She loves breastmilk and I think sometimes uses the "milk" sign to communicate how much she loves it sometimes, rather than simply communicating a need.  Sometimes, in the morning, while she is having her first nurse after waking up, she will look at Yasushi and sign "milk" happily.
Yes, at 1 year old she "still" nurses, she "still" has "dream feeds" 2-3 times between 8pm and 8am, and she is a big, chubby, healthy, happy, smart little girl!
I am very lucky that I have had no problems breastfeeding.  A little bit of soreness the first couple weeks from a shallow latch, ice packs and nipple cream helped, and then one bout of mastitis at around 9 months, and that was it. I had an abundant supply as well and was able to pump a good freezer stash.
I had no special techniques or help, just read a lot of research and had my doula and midwife show me how, but mostly, it was Chinami who led the way. We let her latch on soon after birth, and for the next few days, we stayed in bed together, me recovering, her nursing whenever she wanted. After three days, my milk came in.
I always knew she was getting enough because I could hear her gulping the milk down, sometimes there was even too much and she would start coughing, which was adorable.
In the beginning, I nursed with her curled up in my lap and leaned over to her.  Now I mostly nurse her laying in bed before she sleeps or after she wakes up. She also can walk to where I am sitting, and if I lift my shirt, she will latch on.  She will also grab my breast and guide it into her mouth while asleep, which makes night feedings very easy for me!
If for some reason, I wasn't able to breastfeed (which medically is a rare occurrence) I would have used donor milk. I believe more widespread milk sharing would help so many families, particularly low-income families. If I hadn't been able to breastfeed, and didn't know about donor milk, I would have had a lot of trouble covering the cost of formula, and in that case I would have been glad to convert to cow's milk at 12 months. But more than the cost, having to heat and prepare formula as many as 8-10x a day for the first few months, and all that washing by hand, would have been absolutely exhausting!
Along with all the other decisions I made for Chinami, I am glad I chose to breastfeed. It's so simple, breast really is best. There is no scientific research that would suggest otherwise.
I hope that I have at least one more year to share this special bond with Chinami.


Hurtful attitudes.

In America, it seems there are still lots of people who it seems take offense to anyone different than them.
There was the recent backlash against the Cheerios commercial that featured a mixed-race family: a white mother, a black father, and an adorable little girl with a 'fro.
Ignorant bigots claimed that Cheerios is trying to push some kind of agenda, by simply acknowledging that not every household in America is some kind of 1950's Howdy Doody, Leave it to Beaver style family of WASPs.
In fact, the very idea that races "shouldn't mix" or that one "kind" of blood is more "pure" than others is, dare I say it, very similar to the attitude a certain German dictator had.  It's an attitude that is still prevalent in Japanese society, but that is not that much of a surprise with their "island" mentality and the fact that they have been a largely homogenous society since their beginnings.
But for America, a country that was built from immigrants and became the "Land of Opportunity" and a melting pot of different cultures and wears this as some kind of status symbol? It's an outdated, hypocritical, and dangerous attitude.
Of course, this isn't something I am just realizing now, of course, I grew up in America and around hurtful attitudes.
~ For example...
A couple of hurtful terms I heard being used by my FOO regularly growing up were "Schwarze" and "Mongoloid"  Of course, being young, I didn't know these words were hurtful....I got more of an idea as I got older and heard statements like "What if she brings home a Schwarze?" or "Ugh, I can't eat with those Mongoloids sitting at the next table!" and then there was that slanty-eye, ching chong ling long ting tong mockery that ensued when I tried to study or enjoy something in Japanese (or "Yipanese" as it was often referred to.) When I came home with a sense of accomplishment because I had washed dishes at work so my manager could get her office work done, I was told "Mexicans should be doing that, not YOU, why would you do that?!"
Looking back on this, I feel so sad that I was raised in a household with such negativity towards different races, or even the differently abled, and such ancient notions of castes or hierarchy.
I know I can't change the world or how I was raised, but I can change myself, and I can fill my home with positive energy and celebrate what makes us different instead of hating it.


Chinami's First Birthday

On July 13th, 2012, at 5:45 am, Chinami came into the world. And this past Saturday, her father and I and all of the people who Chinami has befriended this year celebrated her first birthday and her transition into toddlerhood.
We had a low-key BBQ at Magic Island Beach Park, under the trees and on the grass where she walked around barefoot, ate all kinds of delicious food, played with her friends, and after we had done all the grilling that could be done before it was time for Yasushi to clean up and get ready to go to work, we sang "Happy Birthday" and ate cake.
I made her cake myself using the following recipe:

  • 1 cup butter, cubed    1/2cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  •  6 c whole wheat cake flour 
  • 2 cups sugar 2 c honey
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 c greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • In a large saucepan, bring butter and water just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat; stir in the flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, applesauce, salt, baking powder, extract and baking soda until smooth.
  • Pour into a 16-in. x 12-in. x 2-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes.

The original recipe is here: 

I covered it with two tubs of Cool Whip and sliced strawberries, yellow peach, pineapple, kiwi, blueberries, and Okinawan sweet potato arranged in a rainbow. 
We sang Happy Birthday to her, and after that she became fussy, so I put her on my back in the carrier, and she fell asleep leaning against me. 
We went home after cleaning up what we could, and we left the leftover food for our friends and neighbors who were going to stay and play at the beach with their kids. When we got home, Chinami had woken up from her nap, so we went to my neighbor's house to enjoy some cake.
After seeing pictures of "smash cake" for my friends' babies on social media, I kind of expected Chinami to be playing with the cake, smearing it all over her face, etc, but maybe because of the baby-led weaning, she knows how to eat quite well and so she simply looked at the cake and fruit, picked it up, and ate it, chewing and swallowing, completely normally, enjoying it. I even sprayed some extra whipped cream on the cake, expecting her to squish it around and play with it, she just grabbed the lump and shoved it in her mouth! I was a little disappointed but my neighbor was impressed at how well she eats.  Apparently they had thought I was introducing solids in the "conventional" way and so whenever they gave her something they pureed it, until they saw me give her a frozen steamed carrot and saw her bite it, chew it, and swallow it with no problems. So for them, seeing a 1 year old eat so "normally" was an amusing event in itself. 
Then because she had whipped cream on her hands and around her mouth, we decided to take her out and hose her down -- one of her favorite activities. She had gotten a few presents from friends, even though I had told everyone no presents were required and not to feel obligated, Chinami did get a few great educational toys, and a beach ball with a sprinkler inside of it which we fired up right away next to the little kiddie pool her Daddy had bought her, and she had a blast, walking around the sprinkler, hugging the ball, laughing, squealing, etc. 
The previous night, as a pre-birthday present, our neighbor took Chinami and I to see the Elmo musical at the Blaisdell Center. I always watch Morning Musume videos, Sailor Moon, Dr. Slump, and other Japanese videos with Chinami, but when she goes to the neighbors' house, they like to watch Sesame Street with her, and they found that she absolutely loves Elmo! And when we saw the musical, I saw for myself how happy and excited she becomes when she sees that furry red character.  She danced, laughed, became hungry and fussy, but after some puffs, applesauce, and milk, she was back in action! 
On Sunday and Monday, she took very long naps, I guess her birthday was a success! 









How much money I have saved in one year.

Chinami is almost one year old!! And in this one year, I have made many parenting choices that benefitted the both of us...her, emotionally and physically...and me, physically, emotionally.....and financially!

From when I was pregnant with Chinami, I started taking control of my life and making conscious choices for the two of us. I chose to eat mostly vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein while supplementing my diet with prenatal vitamins and superfoods such as chia seeds and spirulina. I chose to homebirth with a naturopathic midwife. I chose to breastfeed exclusively, and practice baby-led weaning, skipping purees. I chose to co-sleep and wear my baby when going out. I chose to use cloth diapers and early potty learning. I also chose to delay vaccinations until age 2.
My choices were partly for health reasons.
My pregnancy and birth were normal and healthy. There was no need for me to go to an OBGYN or a hospital.
I gained 35 lbs during my pregnancy and lost it all in the first 3 months, and at 11 months postpartum I have lost an additional 10 lbs. My baby was 7lbs 13 oz when she was born and doubled her birth weight in the first 3 months.
By being breastfed, she had natural immunity to most infections and diseases, as well as being able to experience many different flavors from variety of food I eat regularly.
By being given real food from the start, she developed her ability to chew and swallow without choking naturally, and continued to be able to follow her own instincts and know how much she needed to eat.  She eats a variety of healthy foods, but there are some days when she doesn't eat much, and I know she is still getting what she needs from my milk.
By co-sleeping, she was able to regulate her breathing patterns, reducing the chance of SIDS.
By being worn regularly, her core muscles became very strong and it helped her reach her milestones. She rolled over at 3 months, sat up and crawled at 6 months, pulled up at 7 months, cruised at 8 months, and stood unassisted at 9 months and walks with help.

My choices were partly for financial reasons.
Even a used crib, with mattress and sheets would cost us about $200. We spent $20 on a used cosleeper that she only used for one month anyway before we felt it was safe to have her next to us.
Formula, in addition to being made from cow's milk, soybean oil, and corn syrup, is very expensive. http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/03/04/how-much-money-does-breastfeeding-really-save/ Buying formula, bottles, nipples and pacifiers would have probably cost me around $2,000 for the year, and maybe even more because she would have a higher chance of tummy problems and getting sick.

I was spending almost $100/month on disposable diapers in the beginning, and that was even with doing diaper-free time. If I had used disposable diapers for the entire year, I would have spent over 1,000 dollars easily. The $200 I spent on cloth diapers that I can use for at least 2 years and keep for my next babies,  is much more worthwhile.

By continuing to nurse her and supplementing with normal, whole foods, instead of buying processed purees in jars and trying to force-feed her, I have saved at least $500.

There are no studies and no scientific evidence that expensive gadgets and DVDs help babies reach milestones faster, increase IQ, or even make them happier. Chinami has a few toys like a small keyboard, a "laptop" that says the ABCs, a walker our neighbor generously gave her, stuffed animals that were gifts from friends, and a small stack of board books, but she really enjoys playing with wooden spoons, plastic plates and cups, and absolutely loves water bottles and my cellphone (I gave her my old defunct one but she still steals mine whenever she can and calls people!) All together, I would say her toys cost me about $20.

Another perk about living in a shoebox 1 bedroom apartment, no need for baby gates! She is always within 5 feet of me and I put a box of her plastic plates and cups at the entrance to the kitchen, blocking her from going in but more importantly, distracting her from whatever she was going to get into. The rest of the "rooms" have doors so we can contain her in the bedroom when we need to.

Chinami's 1st birthday is approaching fast and now I have to think about her second year.  She will nurse less and eat more, possibly go to a day care, and start learning to express herself more and more. But no matter how old she gets, I know there are so many things I can do for her that don't cost anything!


Weird uses of English words in relation to babies.

My basic philosophies in life are to keep things natural, simple, and frugal. However it seems that in America, people like to needlessly complicate things, and through aggressive marketing and criticism and shaming techniques, the "new way" becomes the "normal way" and the real "normal way" becomes the "poor dirty hippy old fashioned way" or "alternative" and they make new language to describe it.
This strange use of the English language is not limited to things concerning babies and childcare, many people know the infamous George Carlin routine in which he picks apart the way people attach meaningless words and change language to make things sound "more important."

A common theme I noticed in things concerning babies is attaching the word "delayed" to things. "Delayed" means postponing an action that should be carried out immediately, but it is often used to describe actions in which being "delayed" is normal and doing it immediately would be abnormal. For example:

"Delayed cord clamping" Clamping the cord immediately prevents the blood transfer from the placenta to the newborn, and can lead to many health problems. Clamping the cord after it stops pulsing, which can be anywhere from 5-30 minutes after birth, is what should be done for optimal health of the newborn. The reason it became the norm to clamp the cord immediately after birth was because of the narcotics they used to use to drug up the laboring mother, and they wanted to prevent all of those drugs from going to the baby, which makes it even more ridiculous to carry out immediate cord clamping after a natural labor and birth. 

"Delayed vaccinations" If a baby is fully breastfed and the mother has been vaccinated or has built up immunity to the diseases in question, you don't need to be injecting newborns with aluminum and everything else in the vaccine besides the actual disease cells. I'm still researching this subject and will probably do a limited vax schedule after Chinami turns 2. 

"Delayed solids" Most pediatricians will recommend starting rice cereal at 4 months and waiting until later makes you "delayed." A baby's stomach isn't fully matured until around 6 months or when the baby can sit up and loses the tongue thrust reflex. Force feeding goop from jars or Elmer's glue (wait, that's called white rice cereal...could have fooled me, has the same texture, taste, and nutritional value and spikes blood sugar to boot) to a 4 month old that is clearly not ready is ridiculous. Also, a baby can thrive just fine being exclusively breastfed up to and beyond 1 year, food before one is just for fun, to get them used to chewing, textures, tastes, and working on their motor skills. 

"Delayed potty learning" Oh wait, this is what "normal" potty training is in Westernized societies. A 4 year old with no developmental delays or physical disabilities, who can eat, run, talk in complex sentences and has a basic knowledge of phonics shouldn't be in a diaper. It is much more logical to introduce the concept of the toilet earlier and have it be a gradual process, or if you have the energy for it and don't live in a carpeted apartment, go diaper free and work on EC. 

There are some other terms that strike me as odd too.

"Extended breastfeeding." In our society, this refers to breastfeeding past the age of 1. However, the WHO recommends breastfeeding until the age of 2 as a minimum, and beyond as long as it is desired by mother and child. However in the US many pediatricians recommend switching to cow's milk after the age of 1, either because breastmilk magically loses all nutritional value after the baby's 1st birthday (just like how spinach loses all of its nutrients after your 18th birthday, right?), or because after baby's 1st birthday, she magically transforms into a baby cow. I'm not sure what the real story is but I know that most of the world goes a little bit closer to the WHO's guidelines. So perhaps weaning before 2 should be referred to as "premature weaning."

"Un-circumcised" This implies that the baby boy is lacking something, when really, he has simply been left with healthy, fully-functioning genitalia instead of having non-consensual cosmetic surgery.

"Sleep training" I hear this a lot, and actually don't really know what it means, because to me the concept of "training" a baby to sleep is ridiculous and right up there with "night weaning" or refusing to nurse a baby during the night so they will stop waking up looking for comfort or a small drink. Because all the adults doing this have never woken up for a glass of water or wanting a snuggle from a loved one, right?

Unfortunately, once something is rooted in language it can be hard to change...but at least things in this household are getting off to a good start! 

Food blog 2: 3 day Food Diary

This is my last week of working at the daycare, from next week I am babysitting a 13 month old early mornings and evenings instead, so my schedule and eating habits are likely to change again next week, but I have decided to do a food diary for 3 days.
Keeping a food diary is a good exercise for self-evaluation of your diet. Sometimes we don't realize our bad habits until we put them in front of us in writing. People sometimes do a food diary before they start a new lifestyle.
I am kind of interested in how much I am actually taking in because I have been slowly but consistently losing weight since giving birth to Chinami. I was 128lbs when I first found out I was pregnant, I gained an even 35lbs during the pregnancy and lost all of it within the first 3 months, and then kept losing steadily for the next six months, and as of now I am 115lbs. I am not following any kind of diet or exercise regimen, but I generally try to eat healthy and not snack mindlessly, and I walk from 30 minutes to an hour each day, and do 10-15 minutes of yoga in the mornings when I can.

Here is my honest diary from Monday, May 6-Wednesday, May 9. For fun, I also put what Chinami is eating.

Monday, May 6
7:30 am  1 banana (Chinami - some banana)
8:30 am (Chinami - puffed rice, breastmilk, water)
11:30 am (Chinami - sauteed asparagus, eggplant, zucchini in olive and sesame oils)
12 pm 1 banana (Chinami - some banana)
1 pm 1 bowl Don Quai ramen noodles with cabbage and choi sum.
5:30 pm  Raw broccoli, carrot, sweet pepper, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and Maui style potato chips with ranch dip (Chinami - tomato, broccoli, carrot, and stole a potato chip when I looked away for a minute)
12 am  Fish head stewed in ginger, shoyu, mirin, and white rice with quinoa, spring mix salad with Asian Maui Onion dressing

Tuesday, May 7
7 am  Oat squares and sliced banana with milk
8:30 am (Chinami - banana)
11:30 am (Chinami - cooked baby carrot)
12 pm a couple pieces of broccoli
1:30 pm leftover fish from Monday with mixed brown and white rice and toasted nori.
5:30 pm handful of candied dried coconut and a smoothie of soymilk, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries with 1/2 banana (Chinami - popsicle made of plain Greek yogurt and mixed berries)
9 pm small non-sugar fruit cup, potato chips
11 pm Taco night - sliced steak, spring greens, seasoned black beans and zucchini, tomato salsa, guacamole, cheese, plain Greek yogurt, and whole wheat flatbread

Wednesday, May 8
8 am Peanut butter and banana sandwich, milk with wheatgrass powder (Chinami - banana)
1 pm raw carrots, broccoli, sugar snap peas, sweet peppers, tomato, (2 cups veggies total) a handful of potato chips with ranch dressing, 1 Babybel cheese (Chinami - carrots) 1 can of ginger ale
3 pm sugar-free fruit cup
5:30 pm leftover from last night's tacos....one whole-wheat black bean/zucchini burrito with cheese, Greek yogurt, guacamole, and salsa, and 1 small bowl of rice with the taco filling and topping.
12 am  1 piece roast chicken thigh w/Costco no-salt seasoning, mushrooms, a couple bacon-wrapped asparagus stalks, and homemade tomato soup with v-8, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, chopped cabbage stalk, and whole-wheat macaroni.

Maybe in a future entry I will do a food diary with pictures! :D


Life with Chinami: What I do.  ちなみとの生活:私のやっていること。

When people ask what I do, the short answer is: I'm a mom.
But the long answer, is so very long.

I have been an active, spartan, workaholic since I first broke free and set foot in Hawaii ten years ago. I love meeting new people and being a part of my community. Looking back, I now realize this explosion occurred because I realized that in the real world outside my dysfunctional household, people actually have some respect and genuine kindness for one another. When I got my first job, I was so happy to be helping people and getting paid for it. In the few situations where I did make mistakes due to my naivety and inexperience, I wasn't berated and insulted for it, but I was taught with patience and respect. My coworkers and bosses admired my work ethic and that I never would complain or consider an aspect of the job "below me", and I was always willing to learn and build my skills. As I stayed in Hawaii and Japan one thing was constant...I was always looking to fill the gaps in my day. Food service, working with businessmen at a convention, hotel internships, tour guide, tutor, secretary, babysitter, English teacher from pre-K to adult, translator, English pronunciation coach for a Japanese theatre troupe putting on a production of RENT, sample girl in the supermarket, passing out flyers, karaoke singer, I did it all!

After I came back to the US in 2011, I spent a boring but enlightening time at my "parents" house, in which Yasushi and I did not work and kept our travel to a minimum. Then we came back to Hawaii and despite a growing belly, off I went again. Cosmetics salesgirl, pre-K tutor, dancing in Gagaku at 5 months pregnant and bon-odori on my due date. I laid low until the recommended 6 weeks after having Chinami, and then I started up again, going bon-odori, and looking for jobs, but now running into a big challenge: balancing my workaholic tendencies with my attachment parenting philosophies.

So, here's what I am doing now.

I do translations and transcriptions at home as a freelancer for a few companies. I am not very experienced in either so my workload is still pretty light and the payout low ($20-50/month at most) but it is interesting and stimulating work.

I also take care of a middle school student with special needs for a few hours a day. Since I don't drive (yet, when I get the money I will start going to driving lessons) I pick her up and take her to my house via the bus, and her mother picks her up from my house. I help her with homework, and then she can play on the computer or play with the neighbor's 4 year old if she is around.

Recently I made an acquaintance with the owner of a cosmetics shop in Waikiki, hoping to get some translation work. Instead, he called me out of the blue one day telling me that by the way, he has a 2 year old daughter from an ex-girlfriend, said girlfriend is in Japan and her grandmother is sick and can't look after her, can she stay at my home for a week or so overnight? She went to school from around 8-5, so from evenings I welcomed her into our queen bed and had a very busy few days suddenly acting like a mother of 2 (the child was also half-Japanese, half-Caucasian) This also fell during Spring Break, when I had to take care of my special-needs student during the day when she was off of school, some days from 9-5.

I also made acquaintances with the owner of a Japanese home child care facility for children ages 0-3. She needed someone suddenly, so from this month I have been taking Chinami with me and working mornings. Since I have to take Chinami with me, the pay is low, but it's something, and more than anything Chinami seems to enjoy playing and interacting with everyone.

And about a month ago, I got a job working at a booth at the KCC Farmer's Market. I use my Japanese skills, and I can leave Chinami with her Daddy while I do it, it's not too long of a shift. I look forward to it every other week, it is a great transition to go back into the "working world".

I also reconnected with an old friend, a famous Chinese chef who had me working for him as his secretary when I was at UH. He is retired now, but still puts together tour packages, cooking classes, and charity events using his name. He is up in years and never learned to use a computer, so I basically do any computer-related stuff for him. He pays me because he believes in paying someone for a job well-done, although he also has treated me to so many wonderful meals I would help him for free in a heartbeat. Someday I will repay him for his kindness, he is always one step ahead of me, but someday...!

If I am not working mornings, there are playdates, story times, and kids/baby time at the Japanese church. I also seek out other fun community events like free movie showings and invite friends along.

So there is my "long answer."  I am a Jack-of-all-trades, and a master of none. But my favorite job of all?  Of course, it's the one that only pays in smiles and a healthy baby.













Over one year of no-poo! シャンプーなしで一年以上やってる!

As a young child, I loved natural sciences like botany, and enjoyed playing outside in the nature of the Caribbean, making friends with cats, climbing trees, and my friends and I would play with bugs and seed pods and climb on "the rock", a giant boulder on the school grounds, during recess at school. I had no interest in "girly" things like beauty products and enjoyed reading all kinds of books and watching movies and kid's documentaries.

And then puberty was confusing...suddenly I wasn't a natural platinum blonde anymore and my skin was breaking out in pimples from hormones and stress. Being persuaded to bleach my hair, wax my eyebrows, and use all sorts of hair products, skin products, and makeup so I would look "presentable" was not helping.

I had no idea there were any natural alternatives for hair and skin care until I was in college. I think that if I were offered natural remedies and alternative hair care/skin care methods I would have gladly tried them, I always hated the smell of the harmful chemicals in bleach and nail polish and there is so much evidence out there that cosmetics are bad for your health.

So fast-forward to 2012, I was 25, 5 months pregnant, and setting up a new life in Hawaii. I wanted to keep things simple and sustainable for environmental, health, and financial reasons, and looking online for information about nutrition and natural remedies, I found out about no-poo, and so I decided to go for it.

I had already spaced out my hair washing to every 2-3 days because my long hair would get dried out if I washed it too much. I had a little bit of travel size shampoo/conditioner and I bought a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap to use as body soap, shampoo, face wash, dish soap, cleaner, etc, as we were starting out our life in Hawaii renting a room in a house until we could find an apartment and I wanted to keep everything simple and scaled-down. I used the Dr. Bronner's as shampoo and started to stretch out washings to every 4-5 days. On the 5th day, my hair often started to get greasy, so I then started to incorporate baking soda and apple cider vinegar into my routine as we moved into our apartment. I boiled water and mixed it with baking soda and put that in one bottle, and diluted apple cider vinegar with water and put that in another bottle. The baking soda solution was like my shampoo, and the vinegar was like my conditioner. I pretty much played it by ear, sometimes letting it go an extra day even when it was getting greasy, sometimes rinsing it with just water in the shower, sometimes using Dr. Bronner's, and sometimes apple cider vinegar.

It was a gradual process and by the time Chinami was born, I was able to just jump in the shower, wash my body, and get back out, and my hair would look no worse for wear, sometimes even going a week without even getting wet. Now, I feel like my hair is more manageable and healthy looking than it ever was. I used to have to use liberal amounts of leave-in conditioner to get a brush through it and even then it tended to look frizzy and damaged. Now, I use a boar's hair brush and the oils from my scalp are naturally distributed through my hair, I still use a little coconut oil on the very end as it is a far way to go from my scalp. I recommend a boar's hair brush to anyone with long hair, and anyone with small children. It goes without saying that I would never knowingly inflict pain on my daughter by brushing her hair roughly, but a boar's hair brush is virtually pain-free and is good for the hair as well.

The result? Nobody who sees me can guess that I haven't touched shampoo or conditioner in over a year! My hair is naturally clean and healthy. Right now in my bathroom I have my boar's hair brush, as well as baking soda, apple cider vinegar, and a spray bottle with water, coconut oil, olive oil, and a little alcohol to keep it mixed, which I use on my face, legs, and the ends of my hair. The only commercial products I have left are deodorant, and toothpaste, which I am also phasing out, but that will be a subject for another post.




髪の毛が長くて、あまり洗いすぎると少しパサパサになってしまうので、その時はもう2−3日に一回しか頭を洗わないようにしていました。旅行用サイズのシャンプーを使ってたけど、Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap (自然な万能石けん)を買って、シャンプー、ボディーソープ、お皿の石けん、お掃除などに使いました。その時はまだルームシェアしてたのでなるべく荷物を集めないようにしていました。自然石けんをシャンプーに使って、4−5日おきに頭を洗うようにしてみました。でも5日目になると頭の油がかなりたまってきたので、新しいアパートに住み始めたら重曹とリンゴ酢を使うようにしました。重曹と白湯はシャンプーで、リンゴ酢と白湯はリンス。1日多く洗わなかったり、シャワーでお湯だけで洗ったり、石けん使ったり、重曹つかったり、ほぼ感でやってました。




Throwback Friday!!

Me at 14, and me now at 26.

When I was 14, I often drank soda, ate Pop-Tarts or sugared, artificially colored cereal for breakfast and cooked and ate ramen noodles, cheese sandwiches on white bread, or hot dogs. I was convinced that I needed makeup on to be "presentable" and carried around red lipstick, a powder compact, and eyeliner in my bag, and my hair was regularly bleached and eyebrows waxed since around age 10, and I regularly had fake nails for a period when I was 12. I was confused by the mixed messages given to me at home and by society and had low self-esteem, and was starting to develop symptoms of depression, and later, anxiety.

Now at 26, I drink 1-2 liters of water per day, I eat cereal which is slightly sweetened or whole wheat toast for breakfast, and have at least one vegetable or fruit serving per meal or snack, and almost never drink soda or eat processed foods. I leave my hair and skin natural, using no commercial shampoo, face wash, conditioner, or lotion, and have no need for makeup although for fun I dip-dye my hair in Kool-Aid. I weigh 10 pounds less than I did when I was 14, and have a baby too. I am finally gaining confidence and healing the depression and anxiety I started feeling all those years ago.


Food blog 1: Read this article!

I have a bunch of "food blogs" in my rough drafts that I want to finish up and upload already....Food is one thing I am passionate about and one of the major things that has changed in my life when I moved to Japan and then back to the US, and then to Hawaii.
Today I am drinking my green tea and reading this article:

It is a long read, but well worth it. Japan had no shortage of colorfully-packaged, weirdly flavored chips, chocolates and candies, but they also had legal limits of how much sugar companies can use, and high fructose corn syrup and chemical food colorings are considered "gross" by many people.. Japan also had been using Stevia as an artificial sweetener, with Sucralose in second, and Xylitol in most of their chewing gums, for about a decade before America considered adopting the practice. And the thing is, Japan isn't the only country like that. American food manufacturers have very unique ideas...
What got me first was the part about soldiers "not eating enough" and them resorting to refined starches that they could "just eat and eat." I'm no scientist, but I was under the impression that physically and mentally typical humans had an innate ability to eat as many calories as they need at that mealtime. At least, I know babies do at birth because my daughter nurses until she is full, then she stops drinking, and then a few hours later, she nurses again. She doesn't nurse until she explodes like a water balloon and she doesn't let herself starve and refuse to nurse. Not eating your food because you don't like the taste is a first-world problem of the highest degree and not something the food supplier should be concerned about, and certainly not an excuse to offer sweetened refined junk instead of whole foods.
The section about the Lunchables is outright disgusting, I would sooner throw a slice of whole wheat bread, a piece of cheese and a piece of fruit into a bag than give a child one of those. Oh, wait, according to the food companies kids won't eat healthy food anyway, they will only eat sweets and junk. Funny thing about that, we had a 3 year old in the preschool I taught at who would outright refuse to eat her lunch, whatever it was, and when her mother came a couple hours later the girl would tell her mom she was hungry, and the mother reached into a purse and gave her some kind of snack cake, bread, etc. We outright told the mom to stop giving her that junk if she wants her to eat her lunch. She did, and after a few days, the girl was eating a variety of foods for lunch every day. Again, kids not eating "healthy" foods because caregivers will give them junk or sweets later anyway......first-world problem.
And then the section that just says to me: young people are starting to care about their health! But we can still get the old people! They're just going to die soon anyway!
I already knew before about Coca Cola's aggressive marketing in third-world countries. I watched a documentary before about advertising vans that would go places where people didn't even have cars, and tell the locals about how soda was so delicious, how Crest toothpaste made your teeth so white, and Tide laundry detergent made your clothes so clean! Which was obviously very calculated. Use Tide to make your water undrinkable, drink Coke, and then use toothpaste to keep it from rotting your teeth completely. Despicable and on the same level as Nestle pushing baby formula in countries where there isn't even clean water to mix the formula and wash bottles. They take advantage and prey on impressionable people who get sucked in by the colorful packaging and the fabricated statements about how whatever product is "the best".
Seems like an interesting book to put on my list. 


My "mother"'s blog. UPDATED

My "mother" is writing a blog, but oddly has deleted the first 2 posts in which she claims that I have Aspergers or ASD. Maybe it was because every comment she got pointed out the obvious inconsistency about a "caring mother" that repeatedly ignored a supposed feeling that something about her daughter was "odd" and never attempted to connect with her. Maybe it was because I commented with an honest, heartfelt letter to her that I will post below. Maybe it was because I posted a link to a handful of psychologists that specialize in ASD in my area, and asked her to pick one and make arrangements for me so I can finally get a diagnosis and give her peace of mind....I will never know why she deleted her own words that she claimed to "stand by". Unfortunately with the Internet, you can't just delete things after the fact and have them be gone.
Here is her first post.

Finally started this blog...
Well, it took me long enough to get here. And it's not like I don't have the time...these days I welcome ways to pass the days. I find myself in an "in between" phase of my life...past middle age, past my potential, past my prime physically, past the useful, productive years. I don't mean this to sound so negative...life is actually very good and I know how lucky I am. I have a great husband, two modest but lovely homes, a small but steady income, time to read, reflect, shop, dream, and indulge my interests. Good friends, great jazz, and I do enjoy a nice lifestyle with my soulmate, a truly wonderful human being. Our relationship could not be more loving. My son Dan, now 31, lives in LA, is totally independent and making his way in the music business and in a relationship with an amazing young woman. We have always had a warm, close relationship and that continues even though we are far apart. He is my heart, a young man with a great sense of humour, kindness and understanding. Just thinking about him makes me smile.
Well, I admit there are some big boulders on my good life's road... I have been reading and reading about Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome-5 books, countless articles online. Some of them are very clinical, dry and hard to read, while others are more fascinating. It began about 6 years ago when a friend who worked at the time as a counselor at a Mental Institution asked me if I'd ever heard of Asperger's...this was after he had met my daughter Samantha twice. I dismissed it at first...but gradually strted to learn about what this means.
My daughter married a Japanese man and lived in Tokyo for almost 4 years after graduating from the University of Hawaii. She now lives in Honolulu and they have a young daughter, 4 months old, Chinami. She has always been a brilliantly smart, unusually self posessed, dependable, independent girl...but her behavior and ways have always been odd. Since a very small child, she did not like to be hugged, she had an odd way of not looking at you, played independently rather than interacting with others. Precocious, docile, sweet, and with a long attention span, she just seemed gifted to us. At 5 her IQ was revealed to be in the genius range. As she grew she didn't make friends too easily, but she did make one here, one there, and we had a mobile lifestyle for a while before settleing in St. Maarten in the Caribbean for about 4 years. We attributed her "loner" ways and oddly un-childlike demeanor to the life she led, around adults a lot, and her high intellect. She had a speech impediment as well, and spoke very softly, almost inaudibly. She had some OCD-type quirks and had trouble with conversation...she would just stare sometimes rather than answer a question. She could not talk on the phone-just a grunted yes or no was as much as you could get out of her. When she discovered the computer she took to it wonderfully and was soon quite proficient...it seemed that written and visual concepts were so much easier for her than human interaction. Her language skills were always advanced, but in writing more than speech. We attributed this to her speech issues, thinking they made her feel "shy"....
When we moved back to the US, she was 11 then, we immediately got her a speech therapist, who worked with her. As with all things, she was diligent and worked hard on the lessons he sent home after weekly session. Within a year her speech was no longer garbled and improving day by day.
But as she entered adolescence she became even more insulated and less able to interact with her peers. She declared them stupid and not worth bothering with at all. On one hand she seemed to long for their approval; on the other she disdained them. It got worse and worse as time passed...the not bathing phase...the Goth phase... the Wicca phase... she never dated and had no friends. Eventually she made one friend, a boy who liked her, but she bored of him and dropped him. Finally in High School she made friends with a small "crowd" of what we'd call "geeks"...smart, odd kids who she liked and was accepted by, and we were thrilled. She had also developed another trait by High School. Her interests were narrow, a few things, but within them she was pretty obsessive. She had no patience for anything but these few interests...nothing anyone else talked about even sparked a polite response. In fact, we noticed from adolescence forward that she had terrible manners; no matter what we or anyone else said, if she wasn't interested in what was being said or done, which was 98% of the time, she had a wooden response, rude, nasty even. She seemed to have little empathy for others, and was overly sensitive to being criticized, or reprimanded. She would not converse, discuss, or interact with us at all...except once in a while about the few topics that she was interested in.
I could go on and on, but in short...everything I'm reading and have read about Asperger's indicates that she is a poster child for it. No one knows her better than I do, so my statement is based on her entire childhood's behaviors. Learning that a Spectrum disorder means not all people with it have all the earmarks makes it almost a certainty. She has enough of them to convince me that we accepted as odd-normal or unique behavior that clearly was not.
Lately she has decided that my husband and I "abused" her growing up. With the black-and-white viewpoint that Asperger's people have, which fits her as well, she could not comprehend opinions, conversations, kidding, the "gray area" in which we spent a lot of time. We could not know that she did not understand the nuance of expressions and meaning of what was being said. Her interpretations were based on a skewed, ASD view of the world...and not as they were meant. Even my brushing and styling her fine hair became abuse in her world. She was hypersensitive to that things I was doing, but I didn't know it and she was unable to communicate how she felt.
We made a lot of mistakes as the parents of an ASD child who did not know about ASD. Regrets? Many. But we DIDN'T KNOW. Had no idea what this was. I wish that we had for we would have made sure to alter our behavior and way of dealing with her so that she would have felt more secure and happier. She was so stoic, so uncommunicative, so removed that we never understood that, we had no feedback at all.
I hope she is happy now and has a great life. I wish her only the very best, and am truly sorry for not knowing how difficult things were for her. She has called me a narcissist. Although I like makeup, hair, clothes and shoes, I spent over 25 years as a professional singer who needed to look her best to make a living. Many women enjoy getting their hair and nails done. I am one of them. many women like nice clothes. I am one of them too. This is what she bases that opinion on. She has a narrow worldview, one that is not accurate, on which she bases her statements about us. Do we have flaws? Yes. Are we sometimes selfish and opinionated? Yes. But we are the ones who always encouraged both our youngsters to get out in the world, know and accept people of all colors, creeds, and backgrounds, know and appreciate other cultures, and open their minds and hearts to the vast panorama of people and experiences that the world holds. We supported their interests heartily, eagerly, and praised them for their talents, accomplishments, and efforts. Saying that we didn't is something I will never understand. Saying I did everything to please myself rather than her-well, every single person who knows me knows how untrue this is. I loved them both, placed them above myself, and tailored and limited my own career to be a better parent. If anyone should be upset at me, it would be my son Dan, who did not move with us to St Maarten but stayed in the US with his father (my first marriage) but yet he loves me unconditionally, understands the family dynamic. Sammi had everything, she had our attention and love as well as well as everything else we could give...except a knowledge of ASD...that we did not have to give.
More in my next post. But at least a place to begin to reveal the angst, hurt, pain and stress I feel at Samantha's rejection of me and her father.

To her, I guess this seems really credible, on the surface at least. 

Some of the things she writes are true.
I was a shy child, I had a speech impediment that caused me to be embarrassed about the way I spoke in front of my parents because they constantly pointed it out, whereas my friends in school didn't. I didn't receive any kind of speech therapy until I was in the 6th grade, and I improved quickly, and the speech therapist never mentioned that there might be a reason for my speech impediment.
I had OCD-type quirks like wanting to eat my meals one part at a time which is a perfectly normal phase that a lot of normal children go through.
I also became proficient at using a computer at seven. I mostly played games, played with the Paint program, and typed out school assignments on it. My friend's children and children I taught at work could usually do the same or more on their parents' computers, iPads or iPhones from as early as age 3. However I was never interested in IT or programming, and never had a particular aptitude for it, despite my "mother" deciding I did and trying to sign me up for a Computer Science course at UH, which I quickly dropped after the first class.

However, some of the things she wrote are only based on her perceptions and opinions, and are not the truth.

She wrote that I "never dated and had no friends" for most of middle school.
Middle school was an extremely tough time for me, being the youngest in my grade among peers that were starting to develop and go through puberty. I tried to act like my peers, putting on makeup and trying to be fashionable, which must have delighted my "mother" because she loved treating me like her doll, bleaching my hair and getting me fake nails. But putting on that fake facade in an attempt to "fit in" made me miserable. I had extremely low self-esteem and was bullied at school as well as at home.
But despite that, I made a few friends who accepted me for me, and the "nice boy that I dropped when I tired of him" was a nice boy at first, but over time became an annoying, overly clingy, obsessive Mama's boy which turned a lot of other people besides myself away from him. I also dated a boy named John briefly in 7th grade, and had some other typical 2 week pre-teen "relationships" but since I had just turned 16 in my senior year, I really didn't have that much opportunity to seriously "date" anyone and mainly focused on building solid friendships with a variety of people. As you can see, not dating in high school didn't stop me from finding the love of my life and getting married at a young age.
The fact that she can nonchalantly look back on this extremely difficult time for me and make comments about how "odd" I was and somehow insinuate that it was my own fault that I was getting bullied speaks volumes about how supportive she was of me.

She wrote this:  "She had extremely narrow interests", referring to the Asperger's trait of obsessive behavior.
I was interested in:
Japanese anime, Japanese culture and language, german language, culture and music, musical theater, drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, playing piano, designing costumes and clothes, dancing, playing video games, making music videos, graphic design, a cappella music, comedians, the occult, religion, classical music, meditating, writing, cooking, ice skating, bowling, poetry, role-playing games.......
I was always willing to try new things, but after a while I knew that I didn't like a lot of the jazz music, movies, or entertainers that my parents liked. I tried to tell them this but they refused to try and understand my feelings. I tried to share my own interests with them and they told me my hobbies were immature and I had no talent to boot.

She wrote I went through a lot of phases, which shows exactly how much she attempted to understand me. The "not bathing phase" I was rebelling against being treated like her personal doll, and also asserting my independence. Also, it is a part of who I truly am. I have been doing no-poo for one year now and for the first time I feel like I am truly being myself. The "Goth phase" oh, you must mean when I was depressed and suicidal. The "Wicca phase" I was interested in many different religions growing up, and still am, and I enjoy the friendships I make through mingling with different groups. Wicca and Buddhism are probably the closest to my own spiritual beliefs. I was constantly made fun of and mocked for simply following my own spiritual beliefs.

She wrote this: "Even my brushing and styling of her fine hair became abuse in her world. She was hypersensitive to that things I was doing, but I didn't know it and she was unable to communicate how she felt." She also said that I didn't like to be touched or hugged. 
So according to her, I had the Asperger's trait of being hypersensitive to touch and pain. I never had a problem playing games like tag, Twister, and various other games that involved touching, never had issues with wearing certain fabrics or shirt tags, live in Hawaii where hugging is a standard form of greeting, and on the pain front, I never overreacted to other kinds of pain, like having blood drawn, getting my ears pierced when I was very young, again at 8, again around age 12, and then again at age 18, having my eyebrows waxed at age 10,  getting a tattoo at age 18, etc. It was just her innocent brushing and styling that sent my Aspie hypersensitivity into overdrive, if you believe that.

She wrote this: Lately she has decided that my husband and I "abused" her growing up. With the black-and-white viewpoint that Asperger's people have, which fits her as well, she could not comprehend opinions, conversations, kidding, the "gray area" in which we spent a lot of time. We could not know that she did not understand the nuance of expressions and meaning of what was being said. Her interpretations were based on a skewed, ASD view of the world...and not as they were meant. 

Gray area? So all of these quotes were jokes? How hilarious! Especially when I would burst into tears in front of you, cry myself to sleep, self-harm, and even have a panic attack in front of you! 

 "You are an asshole and Yasushi will divorce you in a year if you get married"

"You act like a retarded 8 year old. Your friends may think you're nice, but the rest of the world thinks you're a jerk. You'll never see them after you graduate in two weeks anyway. Oh, now you're cryyyyying, because you'll never see your fwiennnnds agaaaaain, ha ha!"

"Good, you don't need any musical talent to be a chorus director!"

Who doesn't understand social cues? The person who lived in Japan for 3 years and integrated into society there or the person who verbally abuses their own daughter until she has a panic attack, and then rolls their eyes and asks them if they need to go to a crazy hospital?

She wrote this: "Sammi says now that she only acted as described around me- that I was the problem and her issues were only with me and that she was completely normal elsewhere. This is not the truth. She may not realize that many other adults who knew her growing up would disagree."
I know two adults with degrees in psychology who knew me since I was 12 who would agree with me.

She wrote this: Living in Tokyo, with its gentler, more polite culture was probably a wonderful easing into her work and adult life. Also, being diagnosed there with Anxiety/Panic disorder...those actually can be symptoms of Asperger's especially in early adulthood.
Saying that living in Tokyo is a wonderful way to "ease into" anything obviously knows nothing about living in Tokyo. If I was the hypersensitive, socially inept Asperger's patient you described, I wouldn't have lasted a month living and working in Tokyo. Also, you say yourself that your opinion of me having Asperger's isn't a diagnosis (after you insist several times that I definitely have ASD or Aspergers) so if you are wrong, what does that mean about my panic disorder and atypical depression? What would be the cause of that, then, if it isn't Asperger's??

So far, out of the several comments that have been posted and deleted (by her) no one has actually believed her, and her responses to the comments just dug her in further.

And then I commented, which of course, she deleted with no response.
Dear "Mother", 
I expect you are having a good holiday season, no doubt making plans to go to your second home in the Caribbean, just like you did last year, when we house-sat for you.  
I read your blog. And for some reason, I started to believe some of it. 
Even after I have been through about 5 therapists in my lifetime and diagnosed with atypical depression and panic disorder, I literally have hundreds of friends from all walks of life in the US, and now have a very active social life and hold down jobs that involve being sociable and dealing with people. 
You and some friend of yours who met me twice for all of a few hours, are the only ones in the world who suggested I might have Asperger's...
I doubted myself. 
So I went online and read up on the subject. I found a lot of information that contradicted your claims. But even then, I didn't quite believe them. After all, in our household, you were always right. So I took some diagnostic tests online.  
This one is the one you sent me yourself by email. http://www.piepalace.ca/blog/asperger-test-aq-test/  
Designed by Simon Baron-Cohen, and published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2001. 
I got a 19, which is well in the average range. If I had Asperger's, my score would be in the 30's or higher.  

This one is called the Aspie Quiz. http://www.aspietests.org/userdetails.php?target=raads/index.php 
My Aspie score is 53 of 200, and my Neurotypical score is 146 out of 200, making me very likely to not have Asperger's.  

I'm sure that because these are just online tests that they are inaccurate.
Since you were so adamant about me having Asperger's or ASD (you kept switching between the two) and seemed so genuinely remorseful about all the mistakes you made, maybe you could help me now.  

Find a legitimate psychologist located in Honolulu, pay them their fee directly and have them agree to share all information connected to my diagnosis and treatment with you, and I will gladly go and get a professional diagnosis and treatment if needed.  

But whatever the diagnosis is, there is still no excuse for the things you did to me when I was a child.  

You screamed at me and beat me with my hairbrush and my shoes, making me feel terrified, and worthless. 
You pushed me away when I would try to share my hobbies and interests with you. 
You told me I had no musical talent when I tried to sing like you. 
You called me a jerk, a moron, a scumbag, an asshole, a pig, a loser, sick, twisted, a wacko, a nut, and many more.You methodically explained to me, on a regular basis, how I had a horrible personality, and someday all my friends and acquaintances would someday know the "real me" and hate me. This haunted me and later echoed in my head when I had panic attacks.  
You slapped me across the face at home and in public, when I looked at you in shock and confusion.  
You mocked me or ignored me when I cried, even when I had a panic attack, you joked that I should go to the crazy hospital and asked me if I had asthma. 
You and Dan would laugh it up together after you were done with me.  
You were only nice to me when I was acting like your slave, running across the house to get you a soda from a fridge 10 feet away from your seat, or your doll, getting my 10 year old head bleached or fake nails on my small hands. You supported me with your wallet, while beating me down with your actions.  
I understand that your own mother was horribly abusive towards you. 
You may think that you had it so much worse than me, but the reality is that you did the exact same thing to me that she did to you.
You caused me pain and damaged my self-esteem to the point where it would later interfere with my marriage, and almost kill me. 
Why didn't you stop after the first time you lost your temper, and you saw the pain and fear in my eyes?  
Why didn't you stop after I cried and asked you how you could say such things to your own daughter?  
Why didn't you stop after you noticed I was self-harming?   

I hope when you go to your therapist, you will tell them the truth about what you did to me, and get the help you truly need. 
As for me, your words can not hurt me any more. I am healing, and I have a family to protect, and that is my main priority now. 
Maybe someday, only after you have gotten diagnosed and treated for whatever made you do what you did to me, I still have a small shred of hope that we might be able to be a family again.  

This is the last time I will try to reach out to you, as a concerned daughter to her mother, to urge you to try to make things right with me and with yourself.  

I hope you do the right thing. 

And by deleting it without even responding, she has shown her true colors. She won't answer my questions, doesn't try to explain the acts of abuse she committed, and most of all, she won't apologize for them. She does not show any remorse or empathy towards me, even though apparently she had been in the exact same situation, diagnosed with the same illness as me when she was around my age (or so she claims..)

Her reluctance to admit the truth and accept help is true to her two personalities. She makes every effort to appear "nice" and "normal" to the outside world and her superficial friends on Facebook, going as far as to cast off her own daughter as "sick and twisted" when really, she is the sick one who has just perpetuated a cycle of abuse and trauma. She mentions her golden child son several times in her blog, but strangely doesn't mention the fact that she paid most of his bills until he was 30 because he refused to get a normal salaried job.

This isn't the first time I've tried to help her and was met with hostiIity. I showed concern for her after I found that she had been repeatedly buying the same foods and letting them expire in the cabinets, a sign of early dementia. I cleaned them out for her and told my "father" with concern, but was met with a screaming rage over the phone. (Which, interestingly, she later posted on Facebook about how wonderful and clean I had made her cabinets.....I never got a face-to-face thank you or an apology for how she screamed at me and made me go into a panic attack.)

I just have to accept that she will never be able to to understand what she did, and more importantly why she did it. She will never be able to accept anyone's concern or help, much less try to help those she has wronged. If she truly wanted to take steps to repair our relationship, she would have at least responded to my comment.
She could have also honored my request for an official diagnosis. or even gotten me something like this online therapy session as a Christmas gift.
But no. Nothing.
But it seems it is not just her. Even when my husband sent a message to my father as a last effort, man-to-man, to get his wife some help, suggesting that we get family therapy, so that they could someday be my parents and Chinami's grandparents again, he was told that he "should rot in hell."
After being told that, he finally lost the last shred of hope for my parents to come around.

So now I am trying to let go of her hostility and negative energy. I will continue the healing process alone, by surrounding myself with lots of love and positive, peaceful energy from my family and friends, and continuing to be active in support groups for adults who were abused as children.

I am not fully there yet, but I am doing a lot better than I was in Tokyo, when I was in a terrible state mentally but didn't know the cause, and when I went back to my parents house and started to understand the cause but didn't know what to do about it.

Someday, I hope to be able to truly believe that I am not a horrible person, and I want to be able to put this experience in the past. I hope I can accept that her abuse of me was because of something in her that she could not control, and even forgive her so that she can enter the next life in peace.

I did make another last, last, attempt at getting through to her by commenting again on her blog, about how disappointed I was at her non-response to my letter, and her reluctance to admit the truth and get help for herself.
Her response?

Being abused and written off as "sick" by people who were supposed to love me was not my decision.