Yokohama Photo Blog


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Panda Mom is traveling again!  First stop is Japan. Here’s a billboard I saw just as I came out of customs at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo: Upon checking in at the hotel, I saw this courtesy notice in the … Continue reading

Panda Mom Hits the Road

Panda Mom performing at a church concert

I’m hitting the road for the next week and a half for a short Northern California singing tour.  I hope I can update my blog while I’m traveling, but it might be a bit sporadic.  If you’re in Northern California and you’re free on Sunday morning, July 8, I’ll be doing a family concert at San Lorenzo Christian Church from 9:30 – 10:30AM (For directions, please check out my music website or the church’s website).  It would be so fun if you could stop by and let me know that you’re a follower of my blog!

Yes, I have another life and career!  Sometimes we moms lose our identity while taking care of our brood, but it is nice to do something occasionally to remind us that we are somebody besides just so-and-so’s mom.  I chose a career which I had hoped would allow me to work part time after having children, and it has.  Music has always been my passion, and singing for kids is even more gratifying!  Sometimes, I can combine family and music like this trip where we’re all traveling together, and it is even better.

Here I am performing one of my songs, “Shine the Light”:

Do you work outside the home?  Do you have a hobby or passion that is just for you?  Tell me how you remind yourself that you’re still…you.

Song for My Baby

Eternal Treasure CD by Junko available on iTunes.

For my post today, I would like to share with you a song I wrote for our firstborn while I was about 8 months pregnant with him.  As I wrote this song, I was looking at the wonderful baby shower gifts we had received from so many friend overflowing our little apartment.  Then the thought came to me that our most important gift for our child — and subsequently, children — would be the gift of prayer, as it says in Ephesians 3:16 & 17:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

By the time I finished this song, I was weeping…rather uncontrollably.  No, not because I was moved by my own song but with the thought that someday my baby will grow up and spread his wings and fly away.  Today, I’m looking at a young man who is 13 years old who just surpassed me in height.  It won’t be long before he truly is a grown up and leaves us.  However, that won’t ever stop us from continuing to pray for him everyday.

Please click on the title below to start the music player:


(verse 1)
The thank-you cards are in the mail
For the shower yesterday
Tiny clothes are folded up
And neatly put away
The stroller waits so eagerly
For the little one to arrive
Soon a full time job begins
That’ll last past nine to five

When you join our family
We promise from the start
To pray each day while on our knees
That Christ dwells in your heart
That Christ dwells in your heart

(verse 2)
I fear I won’t be good enough
To be called a mom by you
But I will love the best I can
Even in your terrible two’s
And when I’m up more sleepless nights
Than I ever thought I would
Still I’ll always thank the Lord
That you changed our lives for good


They say time goes by too fast
And soon you’ll be full grown
We’ll know we have done our task
When our faith has become your own

When you leave our family
No matter where you are
We’ll still pray for you each day
That Christ dwells in your heart
That Christ dwells in your heart

From Junko’s CD “Eternal Treasure,” words and music by Junko Nishiguchi Cheng, copyright 1999 Everyday Hero Music (ASCAP).  Arranged and produced by John Andrew Schreiner, sax by Greg Vail, guitar by Bob Somma.  Printed with permission, all rights reserved.

The Mozart Effect and Its Resulting Effect on Tiger Moms

We’ve all heard of the studies about the so-called Mozart Effect — a temporary increase in intelligence experienced after listening to a piano sonata written by the famed composer — which was first reported by researchers at UC Irvine, my alma mater, in the late 1990′s.  A Tiger Mom just can’t ignore such findings.  My baby is going to be a genius, for only $19.98 plus tax!  I jumped on the bandwagon along with every other mom and got my very own copy of “Baby Einstein” DVD.

This video was the first of its kind, showing toys such as blocks, toy trains, and stuffed animals being rearranged veeery slowly by The Hand while the greatest hits by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven played in the background.  My baby sat engrossed by the images on the screen for an amazing half an hour, giving me a much needed rest on the couch as I kicked up my feet.  I can still picture the little train going around in circles while Bach’s Goldberg Variations played and…well, then my memory sort of goes blank.  You see, something about that video just always lulled me to sleep, and I couldn’t help but drift off until the credits.

The study has since been debunked by further research, but that didn’t stop the creators of “Baby Einstein” from making a whole lot of money until Disney took over the cottage industry which followed.  Did I waste my money?  Well, I can tell you several things that were very positive about the video:

  1. The kids sat still for most of the duration of the video, giving me a little break.
  2. I got a nice nap every time we watched it
  3. I saw some fun-looking toys on the video which I then went out and bought, spending even more money.
  4. They still recognize those classic songs whenever they hear it, though they don’t always know the titles nor the composers.  I have the same problem with songs I hear at the gym while working out.

It’s been over a decade since we sat down and watched that classical music video.  I think I would have discovered by now whether our children are indeed geniuses.  In all modesty, I can tell you that my children are well-adjusted, sweet, and nice kids.  But geniuses?  I’m afraid not.  Oh well — this reformed Panda Mom now believes that a high IQ is so overrated.

They do appreciate music and can sing on pitch, for which I am very grateful. I occasionally even bribe them with $25 Target gift cards to sing background on my recordings. They both play the piano, and Josh and Meg play trumpet and viola, respectively and respectably. It certainly didn’t hurt for them to watch classical music videos for babies, but I’m not sure how much it helped.

If you’re watching your wallet, my advice is this: save your money for their college tuition or future therapy sessions instead.  Listen to classical music together if you like it, but be sure to add a little jazz and Gospel too.

I do know one thing for sure: whenever I hear the classical songs that were on the video, like Goldberg Variations and Minuet in D, I immediately start yawning.  It’s like narcolepsy — I could just fall asleep right there if I don’t exit the store right away.

Did you introduce your kids to classical music early on?  How did the experiment work out for you?

Practicing the Presence of God

Eternal Treasure cover art

Eternal Treasure CD

For my weekend post, I’d like to share with you a song I wrote during the Bovine Period of my life.  I often refer to my “Eternal Treasure” CD as my album postpartum.  Although this song wasn’t a top 40 hit, it expresses this mother’s heart fully and is one of my own personal favorites.  You can hear a sample of the song at iTunes or at CD Baby, but here are the lyrics:

Practicing the Presence of God

(verse 1)

She looks outside her window to watch the world go by

People doing lofty things as she tends to her baby’s cries

Well, it’s only for a season

She knows, but for some reason

Though she loves her family there’s a loss she can’t deny

Though her former days are over and things are different now

She vows to serve her Jesus in the best way she knows how


With her heart and soul and mind

Loving all the time

And practicing the presence of God

In her very special way

All throughout the day

She’s practicing the presence of God

(verse 2)

She thanks God in the morning

For the tiny feet and hands

Embracing them with a mother’s touch

In a way no others can

There is joy in daily living

When we’re called to do the living

In His grace and mercy

We can do as he commands

So to give back to Lord Jesus

For the deepest love she’s known

She will serve her friends and family

In the same way she’s been shown



Though her world may be so tiny

And surrounded by these walls

She will fill it with much laughter

And do her best to heed her call


Words and music by Junko Nishiguchi Cheng, copyright 1999 Everyday Hero Music (ASCAP), produced by John Andrew Schreiner

I’ll be back on Monday with a new post which — I hope — will make you laugh…or gag.  Not sure what I’m talking about?  Check back soon.  Have a wonderful weekend!