Friday, June 6, 2014

Week 19 - The gender of our mango is....

I swear I went from a little bloat to full on baby bump in two weeks. I moved from "I think she must have had Mexican last night" to "Whoa! You're having a baby!" overnight. My coworkers that did not know came out with congratulations. One Japanese woman stopped me in the hallway and quietly asked if I was pregnant before covering her mouth and saying she thought I'd just gotten chubby.

Last week we went to the doctor for an updated ultrasound. It is the time where we may find out the gender. I'm doing peachy and our Japanese doctor says baby looks healthy. So on to the gender reveal!

But first... Old Wives' Tales.

1. Ring Test - I don't understand any of the "science" behind this superstition, but that didn't stop us from trying it. Take your wedding ring and tie a string to it about a foot long. Dangle the string over your pregnant belly. Movement in little circles indicates a boy and side to side indicates a girl.
Our result: GIRL

2. Body Clues - The phrase "A girl will steal your beauty" is the real kicker. Superstition states that if you are looking better than normal (i.e. getting that pregnancy glow, enjoying clear skin, healthy nails, and voluminous, shiny hair) than you are having a boy. My skin looks like I'm back in high school and my hair is weirdly greasy so...
Our result: GIRL

3. Way I'm Carrying - Having a baby bump high, closer to your naval, indicates you are carrying a boy. Another way I've heard this is: basketball = boy; watermelon = girl. I'm a pear-shape naturally so this one is a bit harder.
Our result: GIRL

4. Heartbeat - This one is pretty simple. If your baby's heartbeat is less than 140 bpm than you are having a boy. Higher is a girl.
Our result: GIRL

5. Cravings - This seems to be the number one question recently. "What are your cravings?" I have a hard time answering this because my eating patterns haven't changed a whole lot since before pregnancy. I enjoy sweets, but I've not had any of those "ice cream, pickles, and mayonnaise" moments. I have been consuming more olives than normal so maybe that's a salty factor. This superstition states that if you're craving salty foods you are having a boy and sugar sweets than you are growing a girl.
Our result: BOY

6. Chinese Birth Chart - Found online, this chart uses the mother's age and month of conception.
Our result: GIRL

7. Morning Sickness - I've written about this before so this one was quite easy. I had no morning sickness, evening sickness, or middle-of-the-night sickness. I count myself lucky in that regard after talking to friends and hearing the horror stories. An upset tummy indicates a girl.
Our result: BOY

8. Husband's Weight - This one is a bit difficult for us. The tale states that if a husband gains weight during the pregnancy then you are carrying a girl. If he doesn't gain a pound you are having a boy. Dustin runs for fun. Like thirteen miles on a Wednesday morning because he "felt like it". Ain't nothing packing onto those abs. Seriously though, can I get a little bit of sympathy weight over here?!
Our result: BOY

9. Baking Soda Test - The first time I read about the baking soda tests I laughed. I remember hearing of a similar Draino test a few years ago. (Find pre-1989 Draino and pee into it.) But we're all for funny science and chemical reactions right? Take a few tablespoons of baking soda and then add urine. A fizzy result like soda means you are having a boy. No result indicates a girl.
Our result: BOY

So when it came time for the ultrasound our ninja-baby was all over the place. Hands and feet everywhere! So we were unable to tell the gender. After some discussion we've decided that we aren't going to find out. We're just super-excited for this baby - boy or girl!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Recently I had a coworker lose a laptop in Japan. She scoured her traveling path and finally it was found by the taxi company a couple days later. Untouched. It made me think of some of the securities I have taken for granted while living here.

Let me tell you a story of a bus stop. Public transportation is very popular in Japan as the routes are extensive and the buses, surprisingly, prompt. Bus signs are provided by the city, but often, especially outside the major cities, they will not provide seats or an overhang. On my morning walk I pass such a bus stop where someone has put two little stools. For three years these stools have stood their guard over the bus stop. They are not chained down, dirty, broken, or vandalized. They just sit there.

I dare you to put two stools next to a bus stop in the U.S. and see if they are still there in excellent condition in two weeks.

Japan is unusual like that. No one really disturbs things that don't belong to them. There's not a lot of randomized anger incorrectly directed. For example, people leave their flowerpots out next to busy streets and no one messes with their flowers, picks them, or kicks the pot over. Can the same be said for our neighborhoods in the U.S.? It seems like everyone can tell a story of someone who had their Christmas decorations stolen.

The children walk unaccompanied to school. Some, as young as five, get on trains and buses by themselves for the daily trek. Very different from the daily routine of most American students.

Living in Japan has been an astonishingly safe experience and I am really going to miss that.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hiroshima Flower Festival

When I messaged some friends about joining us for the annual Hiroshima Flower Festival I was clear and vague. I was clear on how the festival wasn't really about flowers and was just a reason to have hundreds of food vendors, children games, musical performances, and a parade. I was vague on the size of the crowd. Spanning multiple city blocks, the Hiroshima Flower Festival boasts having more than 1.6 million visitors during the three day event. It should be noted that I only saw a few flowers.

But we go for the food.

I found it very interesting that the city had not closed the parade route entirely. Instead the cross roads were still open with operating lights. This slowed the parade and allowed a longer time to view each section, but the poor dancers end up doing their routing (a traveling routine at that) in one spot over and over. We watched one performance two times from start to finish and the light still had not turned. So the girls backed up and did it again...all in the space of one city block. Hearing the song a third time... and fourth time...

The side streets were closed and filled with thousands of people and hundreds of food vendors. So many amazing smells!


After the parade the main road became additional walking space. So many people!

So I talk about all these amazing smells and the food but then I only have one picture. Someone (ahem, Dustin) is playing with the operating system on our computer and I'm unable to pull the rest of our tasty finds. So here, have some dumplings a friend got.

We had a yummy vegetable and chicken filled falafel, fresh seltzer lemonade, potato croquettes, chocolate covered bananas, a whole roasted prawn, panko-fried chicken nuggets, and dry ice soda. I highly recommend festivals in Japan - even if you just go for the food.