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Overseas Life

Cloth Diapering in Japan

July 18, 2022

Our son has used cloth diapers since about 3 months of age.

We love that cloth diapers can be gentle on baby’s skin, cost-effective (especially for families that hope to have more than one child), leak far less than disposable diapers, make transitioning to toilet training easier, and have the potential to be environmentally friendly, depending on how you launder them.

While cloth diapering is not for everyone, we have had a great experience so far with cloth diapering our son (now 16 months), and are excited to share what we’ve learned!

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We Are Moving!

May 12, 2022

We are moving!!

This meaningful update has been in the works for a while, and a process full of hopeful anticipation and prayer.

We are so excited to finally share the news!!

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Keeping Warm in Rural Japan

January 23, 2022

When I tell people that it snows in Japan, they are often surprised! They seem to imagine that Japan is a warm, tropical island locale full of bamboo and monkeys.

In reality, Japan is geographically diverse, and has four distinct seasons and a multitude of climates. The scenery varies widely, from pristine beaches and fields of lavender to crowded cityscapes and deep forestbamboo and monkeys included!

For example, the area where we live in Hyogo has been said to resemble Germany or Switzerland. The mountains are covered with towering evergreens that are blanketed with snow for much of the winter season.

Yet, unlike 90% of Swiss residential areas, homes in Japan do not normally have central heating, and the walls can be thin and lack insulation. This is perfect for allowing wooden beams to breathe naturally, and has many benefits including decreasing damage during earthquakes, as well as increasing air flow and reducing mold during Japan’s humid summers. However, it can make for some very, very chilly winters indoors!

To learn more about just how cold it gets during the winters in Japan and the traditional (and not so traditional) ways to keep warm in a rural home without central heating, read on!

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Overseas Travel With An Infant

January 13, 2022

Overseas travel looks NOTHING like it did a few years ago. My husband and I are both seasoned travelers, having been to a combined total of more than 10 countries.

However due to the continually changing travel guidelines, under the pandemic that has stretched on for over 2 years, overseas travel has become a completely new experience.

There are still long queues, longer flights, and an array of pre-flight preparations to consider. Add to this extra regulations, unbelievable layovers, and the wildly unexpected, and you have today’s travel experience.

While single or married this might present its challenges, but add to the mix an infant, and everything has the potential to become just a little more overwhelming!

While traveling overseas with a baby does require more careful planning, it is manageable if you are willing to be flexible (and can deal with the possibility of temporary sleep deprivation – which most parents of infants are experts at already!).

Our most recent travels overseas took over 20.5 hours of flights and layovers from Japan to the U.S., and over 34.5 hours on return (that is not counting driving to and from the airports both ways!).

Based on our overseas travel experience, here are our tips for traveling with an infant overseas.

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Our International Love Story

July 31, 2021

In honor of our 5th wedding anniversary on July 30th, it seems like the perfect opportunity to share our love story with our readers!

The post below was originally written in February 2017, and appeared at a previous blog that is no longer in use. The title then was “Raindrops and Shared Umbrellas: On an anniversary and the story of a year’s happiness”.

Now firmly out of “newlywed” territory, I can say that marrying Masashi is something I would choose again and again a thousand times, and all of the challenges we have faced together have made our marriage even stronger and more beautiful than it was in the beginning.

Our love story is no longer just a story of a year’s happiness, but five years of numerous experiences and emotions, sickness and health, grounded firmly in love.

I enjoy revisiting what it was like at the beginning, and am thankful for how God brought us together.

To reminisce with us, please read below!

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Baby Stations & Breastfeeding in Japan

June 9, 2021

Our son Jamie is EBF, which means exclusively breastfed.

Although you might not see a lot of people breastfeed publicly in Japan, many public spaces are supportive of breastfeeding. The building where we grocery shop includes a breastfeeding area on the third floor, which can be easily accessed via elevator.

I have taken advantage of a few of these public “baby stations”, and they are very convenient!!

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2020: Suffering and Abundance

January 5, 2021

Everyone experienced last year differently.. and despite the popular narrative that 2020 is a year to “throw out” like curbside trash, it is also one for which I am deeply grateful. 

In 2020, we experienced many hardships. I lost three of my grandparents, and in June we miscarried our third child. Less than two weeks later, I became pregnant with our fourth child, Jamie. After 3 years of losses, secondary infertility, and barely holding on to hope, it is still hard to believe that I am nearly 31 weeks pregnant with our beautiful rainbow baby!

Last year we practiced flexibility and shifted the direction of branches of our business. We temporarily shut down some of our locations during the spring, and increased our online workload. We survived, even while many local businesses shut down (including several of my favorite restaurants!!).

We experienced distance from family and friends due to the pandemic, and canceled plans. 

I experienced the constraints of a pregnancy during COVID19-restrictions: more isolation, and void of a lot of the celebration that usually comes with preparing to welcome an unborn child.

Yet, intermingled with the challenges, it has been a year of abundance.

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Maternity Clothes: Best Brands

December 7, 2020

Now that I am nearing week 27 and have almost hit the third trimester, there is no hiding my baby bump! As a result, I invested in multiple maternity and nursing-friendly wardrobe pieces.

However, it has not always been easy to find clothes that fit my body in Japan! I have tried out a variety of different brands in the search for the best maternity clothes, and made purchases in-store, as well as on the internet and from overseas.

It is also crazy to me just how expensive maternity clothes tend to be in Japan, so if you are pregnant, it’s helpful to have a good idea of what brands work well for immigrants with bigger or more shapely bodies.

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Japan’s Pregnancy Freebies: A How-To Guide

October 6, 2020

One of the most fun things about pregnancy is signing up for maternity and baby freebies.. and there are so many available in Japan!

Through signing up for free in-store point cards and online registrations, we were able to collect 25 free diapers of various sizes, as well as sample packs of baby wipes, cookies, soap, laundry detergent, toilet cleaning wipes, disposable nursing pads, lotion, supplements, and more!

Following are some of my favorite freebies that we signed up for so far on our pregnancy journey:

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We’re Expecting! – Pregnancy in Japan

September 24, 2020

We are happy to announce that the Haruna family is expecting a baby! The due date is March 10th, 2021.

This is our rainbow baby, a term that is used for a baby that is born after an infant or pregnancy loss. Before conceiving this child, we experienced 3 miscarriages, as well as secondary infertility, over the course of about 3 years.

Getting here has been a long, difficult road.. and pregnancy after loss can be so much harder than one with no previous losses. Add onto that the uncertainties of a pandemic, and it has the potential to be even more challenging.

Yet, I am so thankful that God has blessed us with this child, and slowly the excitement has been growing.

In addition to new medical restrictions due to the pandemic, there are also many differences between giving birth in Japan vs. the U.S. If you are pregnant in Japan or just interested in the process and differences, please read more below!

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