May 5, 2015


Parenthood, Photography


“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

We were at a birthday party for some of E’s friends from her kindergarten. Anytime you get a group of kids together in a large space, things always go a bit crazy. Luckily, there were games and activities planned for the kids to do to help them wind down before we had to pack up the party room and head home. One such activity involved making beaded jewelry.

My kids had more fun sorting and putting the beads back in the container than making the necklace. 

Catching up a little with this project since I am a few weeks behind.

I’ve been contemplating how much and what to share about my kids life these days. In my facebook groups, I’ve often encountered people asking how much we can share about our kids’ lives before we infringe on their privacy. It’s made me think about the issue and I still don’t know what to think about it. Social media and personal privacy on the internet is such a complicated issue that I’m not sure where I stand when it comes to my kids.

April 26, 2015


Parenthood, Photography, Updates


“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

These two…

I have no energy to think of something to write :) 

April 17, 2015


Parenthood, Photography


“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

E finished her second week of school this week. She’s having trouble adjusting to the new environment and all the rules that comes with elementary school but it’s bound to happen. Her kindergarten was a very relaxed environment with snack time, playtime at the park, and a very laid back classroom. It’s a really big change to go from that to one where there are rules for everything and you actually have classes where you study from textbooks and not with songs and games.

Hopefully, she’ll get into the rhythm of things in the next few weeks.

The Japanese thing is another problem we are now facing. She use to be fluent but has lost all of it during her time at her international kindy. It’s now coming back to haunt us since she’s having trouble following what is going on in class. I’m hoping that soon she will pick Japanese back up again.

April 12, 2015


Interests, Photography

I’m always on the lookout for a new project to do or make, especially since I don’t really know what I want to do with myself now that I have a bit more “me” time. I don’t want to fall into the rut of always spending my free time cleaning and taking care of home and family stuff and neglect the things that make me tick and feel alive.

Hence, the constant need to try things, to make things, to do things.

So one of the latest things I’ve discovered and have been working on is the 100 Days Project created by Ella Luna and The Great Discontent.


The project is fairly simple. Make something for 100 days. It could be anything you want whether it be painting, photography, inspirational quotes, cartoons…anything goes as long as it’s something that you want to make and you are interested in. It’s not a competition and there are no rules. You just create something, anything for 100 days.

And so just for accountability, I’m also going to share my progress on my blog.

For my 100 days project, I’m going back to film photography. Instant photos to be exact because the instant gratification of having the processed image in my hands make it easier for me to follow through than waiting for things to get developed at the shop.

For this, I’ll be using my Fujifilm Instax mini 90 and I plan to take simple everyday moments using this camera. It will be a nice change since I will have a physical copy of the photos I take and they won’t be just another photo sitting in my iPhone. Plus, since this is film, I will put more thought in what I want to capture as well as how I want to capture the image. It won’t be like with digital photography where I can take many shots and hope that at least one will come out when I look at them later.


I will be posting my images daily on Instagram under my public handle @hamstercentral using the hashtag #100daysofinstaxmoments so feel free to follow along if you like :)

So here’s my first week of photos.


01. E’s entrance ceremony
02. E’s first day of school
03. Labeling things for elementary school


04. K’s love for looking outside
05. Coffee meetings at Starbucks
06. The end of cherry blossom season

April 9, 2015


Parenthood, Photography


“A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015.”

Busily “cooking” and preparing for a tea party at a jidokan (indoor public playspace). 

Last weekend, we were invited to a birthday party of one of the kids who was in E’s birth group. We met the parents at a birth and labor class when we were in our 30-something weeks of pregnancy. We’ve kept in touch all these years and have watched our kids become big kids together.

Unfortunately, we live fairly far apart from each other so our kids only meet up once or twice a year. Even though we don’t get together often, when we do get together, the girls play really well with each other as if they’ve seen each other every day. It’s really great.

To make it more interesting, both S’s mom and I were pregnant with our second child at the same time. Neither of us planned it and we both didn’t even find out until we were well into our second trimester. She had a boy though while I had another girl.

Oh, and we’re both Jen! How funny is that?

April 7, 2015

E’s Entrance Ceremony

Japan, Parenthood

Yesterday was E’s elementary entrance ceremony and it was a big deal.


You know it’s a big deal because Jason went out and bought a suit and tie for this event. Anyone who knows Jason would tell you that him wearing a suit for anything is an event on its own.


Anyway, back to the entrance ceremony…

In Japan, it’s a big deal when your child enters grade 1. It’s like the end of their carefree days as a small child and the beginning of what will be their academic life as they go down the road towards becoming responsible adults. Everything changes when they become elementary school students.

To celebrate this big life event, many Japanese elementary schools hold an entrance ceremony on the first day of school, usually in the first week of April which often coincides with the cherry blossoms blooming. Also, everyone dresses up nicely for the entrance ceremony. Parents and kids both dress up in suits and nice dresses to commemorate this event. Thus, the reason why Jason wore a suit yesterday.


Upon entering the school, the kids find out which class they are assigned to. In E’s case, she was assigned to class 1 while all her friends from her previous school were assigned to class 2. It sucks that she’s all alone in her class but it might be good for her in the long run since it will force her to make new friends. At least I hope she does.


After registering E’s paperwork, she was given a name tag and went with all the other kids in preparation for the ceremony while all parents were ushered to gym, where the ceremony took place.


The ceremony was entirely in Japanese with a few times where there was English spoken but not too much. The Principal made a speech and welcomed the first graders to the school. Then the classroom teachers were introduced followed by the rest of the teachers the kids will have throughout their first year. After that, there was some more people introduced. I’m guessing those are community leaders and whatnots. I started to zone out a little since I didn’t know who they were.

There was also a performance by the grade 2 students and a small welcome speech by 2 grade 6 boys.

All-in-all, the ceremony itself went on for about 45 minutes. At the end, all the kids left the gym and parents were asked to stay to listen to the PTA leaders talk about the PTA.

After all the long speeches were done, we took class photos. All the parents of class 1 went up to the stage to stand for the photo and our kids sat at the front with the principal and teachers. After we were done, class 2 went and took their photo while we went back to the classroom.


The homeroom teacher spoke to the class and parents about stuff. I wasn’t actually in the room since it was too crowded and didn’t hear what was going on. It didn’t really matter anyway since it was also all in Japanese. At least Jason was in the classroom getting all the info.


The class then said their goodbyes to the teacher and everyone packed up ALL the stuff that was given to them from the school and headed home.


This was all the stuff that we were given by the school to take home and label. Text books, desk sets, math sets, etc. Every little thing that can be found in this set of stuff had to have her name on it. Every little thing includes each individual card from a card deck, every single crayon…which means I have my work cut out for me this week.


It doesn’t sound like a very exciting day from the way I explained it but it was definitely an experience for Jason, E, and I. E doesn’t remember any Japanese and just went with the flow of the class. She was talking with the girl who was her partner but that girl probably didn’t have E’s English fluency. She’s super shy and scared of being alone in the class but is making an effort to learn how to fit in.

Jason and I were just proud parents of our little first grader. It was as much a rite of passage for us as it was for her. It’s also mixed with worry about how E will fit in with her lack of Japanese. Hopefully, she will make new friends in the next few weeks who will help her out. We were already approached by several parents who introduced their kids to E in English. So that’s a good sign.

So now we wait and see how things go. Hopefully, she’ll pick up more Japanese in the coming weeks and gain more confidence as well as overcome her shyness so that she can make good friends in class.


Congratulations on your entry into elementary school, E!