Thursday, June 30, 2005

1000 Women for Peace

Congrats to the phenomenal Yuri Kochiyama and Holly Near! Today, 1000 women were announced as nominees of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005. The announcement is part of a project to nominate, recognize and document the work of 1000 amazing women in peace building and social justice for the Nobel Peace Prize. I am lucky to have met two of the nominees.

Yuri Kochiyama is one of the most well-known and respected Japanese American activists today. At over 80, she is a tireless advocate for political prisoners, and is known for her friendship with Malcolm X, and was there cradling his head when he was killed. Tony & I were fortunate to meet and have dinner with Grace Lee Boggs (Maiya Grace's namesake--another phenomenal woman!!) and Yuri during the UCLA Serve the People conference in 1998. More recently, Tony, Maiya and I went to see her in April for a talk and book signing of her biography written by our friend Diane Fujino, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama. She also signed her book for us, Passing It On: A Memoir.

Holly Near, is my all-time favorite singer/writer/performer/activist. I own maybe 15 of her albums, tapes and CD compilations and have seen her in concert maybe 7 times. I was so fortunate to meet Holly several years ago at McCabe's Guitar Shop through Nobuko (my Great Leap partner and boss) and Derek, who worked with her back in the day. My friend Maria took me to see her in Pasadena when I was pregnant to celebrate my 40th birthday.

Anyways, here is the link to the website. Here is an article about the 12 women from the Bay Area.

The 1000 women reminds me of one of Holly's songs, "1000 Grandmothers." She tells a story of how wars would be prevented if women, the grandmothers, were sent in to negotiate world peace. Definitely something to think about since Bush, Cheney and the rest just don't seem to get it.

1000 Grandmothers
Words and music by Holly Near

Send in a thousand grandmothers
They will surely volunteer
With their ancient wisdom flowing
They will lend a loving ear

First they'll form a loving circle
Around the wounded wing
Then contain the brutal beasts of war
Sweet freedom songs they'll sing

A lullaby much stronger
Than bombs and threats to kill
A force unlike we've ever seen
Will break the murder's will

To the prisons we'll invite them
The most violent men will weep
When a 1000 women hold them strong
And pray their souls to keep

Let them rock the few who steal the most
And rule with youthful charms
So they'll see the damage that they do
And will fall into grandma's arms
2000 loving arms

If you think these women are too soft
To face the world at hand
Then you've never known the power of love
And you fail to understand

An old woman holds a powerful force
When she no longer needs to please
She can cut your shallow life to bits
And bring you to your knees
We best get down on our knees

And pray for a thousand grandmothers
Will you please come volunteer
No longer tucked deep out of sight
Will you bring your power here
Will you bring your power here

Peace. Out.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Baby Stats

Ain't she a cutie?

20 weeks (Approx 4 3/4 months)
15 lbs, 2 oz (total weight gain since Feb. 1st is 6 lbs 7 oz)
26 1/2 inches (total growth since Feb. 1st is 6 inches)

Just updated
* Updated Maiya's Home First Fotos for May
* Updated Newest Column Progressive Mama: Got Milk?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Midwife Hannah's legacy

Jenni, Maiya and Bubbe Fran at birth

When Maiya was born on her due date February 1, we were so lucky that Tony's mom was able to be at the birth. Fran flew down from Idaho on the morning of January 31st, not knowing until we called her frantically at the airport, that my water had broken that morning. She timed her arrival perfectly, I'm sure it was based on her many years of experience as a certified nurse midwife.

She came with us to the hospital, helped us get settled in, monitoring my contractions, walking with us for 3 1/2 hours, keeping me comfortable, reading mantras over and over, and generally keeping everyone calm. Whenever the hospital staff would come in and tell us something, or tell us nothing, we would look to her to confirm or give better explanations in helping us decide how to proceed. She knew that we wanted to have a natural childbirth. She promised me (or maybe she was just estimating to make me feel better) that I would have the baby on February 1st (as opposed to February 2nd), which was a relief to me, as I was in labor for what was seeming like an eternity (37 hours in total, about 20 hours of hard labor). We couldn't have been in more capable hands.

Maiya with Bubbe Fran, 1 day old

When Maiya gets a little older, we will tell her about what a special gift it was that her Grandma Fran was there to help bring her into the world. She will learn about her Japanese American heritage, and she will also learn that not only is her Grandma Fran a midwife, but her great, great, great, great aunt Hannah Sandusky was also a midwife.

Hannah was born in Lithuania in 1827 and came to Pittsburgh in 1861. She delivered 3,571 registered births before passing away in 1913. She was Maiya's Grandma Fran's Grandpa Leon's aunt, and was the birth attendant for her great-grandmother Fannie (AKA Freya) Davis (AKA Davison or bed David) when Fran's Grandfather Benjamin Davis was born in 1874. (I think I got that right).

Here is a link to the Jewish Women's Archive which documents Great great great great aunt Hannah's story.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Arghh. I have another column due this weekend. I've been one of the Thru The Fire columnists for the Rafu Shimpo for an unbelievable ten years now! If you know me, you know that I often write my piece after the deadline has passed and barely squeak them in before press time. Each time as I agonize over a column, I will promise to start earlier the next quarter.

And then I had a baby... Anyways, Maiya woke up at 5:30 am this morning and as I was nursing her, I started mulling over my next column because I realized it was due today. I thought I would just write about loving and being a new mama at 40, my new role as a lactivist, about Attachment Parenting, and why I do it. And then, as I started to think about angles for the column, I hopped onto the computer, opened up Word, stared at the blank page, and then decided to check my email, and surf around a bit. Four hours later, and I want to share some cool new websites I found this morning.

The Cow Goddess
Nurse Your Baby at Starbucks

And now, it's 10am and I reallllly have to start my column. But, Maiya has just woken up and is calling for milk! Oh well! Gotta run!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Two teeth... too fast!

Photo taken in Grandma & Grandpa's backyard, 5/19/05

Can't believe it, but at 4 1/2 months, Maiya now has two teeth! Last week, I put my finger in Maiya's mouth and felt the beginnings of a tooth!! Whaaaa? Oh, my gosh, I was so excited. I said excitedly, "Maiya, your tooth is coming in!" She beamed at me like a crazy girl, and started flapping her arms at me. The lower left tooth is now about 1/8th of an inch, and the lower right tooth is starting to pop out what's called a tooth bud, or a tooth cap, which "erupted" yesterday.

Poor little Maiya has had some serious bouts of crankiness as a result. She has been waking up earlier in the morning hours the last week or so. She has been mouthing everything in sight, and we can't hand her things to teethe on fast enough. She is nursing every 1 1/2 - 2 hours these days. I have been calling her "Droolie Andrews" for the past month (a name that I heard from my friend Mike describing his son Amani) as she has been like a drippy faucet. She's also been spitting up quite a bit, and I'm changing my t-shirt at least once a day, if not twice (I am finally wearing all those political and community t-shirts that I have been collecting for the past 10 years).

After the initial excitement of the first tooth wore down, I got a bit scared. What? Too fast! Gulp? Next will be the introduction of solid foods, then she'll be crawling, then walking and talking, graduating from high school, etc. Ai yah, she's growing up so fast! Wah! The good thing is that it's all gradual. Just in the last two days, Maiya has started sticking out her tongue and babbling. She makes sounds that sound like "Hey You!" when she is happy and "Ma ma ma ma ma" when she is crying her eyes out.

Today, we're off to the health food store to get some of the Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets, which I think have camomile in them. What I'm realizing is that the coming in of teeth, as with most things in life, is a process.

PS. Big congrats to Jim & Julie on their baby girl born Sunday!!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

'Lactivists' Taking Their Cause, and Their Babies, to the Streets

New York Times
By Amy Harmon
Published: June 7, 2005

The protest, inspired by similar events organized by a growing group of unlikely activists nationwide in the last year, brought about 200 women to ABC's headquarters yesterday. They stood nursing their babies in the unmistakably public venue of Columbus Avenue and West 67th Street. They held signs reading, "Shame on View," and "Babies are born to be breastfed." Ms. Walters, who remarked a few weeks ago on the show that the sight of a woman breast-feeding on an airplane next to her had made her uncomfortable, said through a spokesman that "it was a particular circumstance and we are surprised that it warrants a protest."

But the rally at ABC is only the most visible example of a recent wave of "lactivism." Prodded by mothers who say they are tired of being asked to adjourn to the bathroom while nursing in a public space, six states have recently passed laws giving a woman the right to breast-feed wherever she "is otherwise authorized to be."

An Ohio bill saying a woman is "entitled to breast-feed her baby in any place of public accommodation" passed last month over the objection of one representative who wanted to exempt businesses from liability for accidents caused by "spillage."

"I really don't know any women who 'spill,' " said Lisa Wilson, the mother of a 4-month-old in Fairview Park, Ohio, who helped organize a nurse-in at a local deli to support the bill.

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York, held a nurse-in on the Capitol's Cannon Terrace last month as she reintroduced federal legislation to amend the Civil Rights Act to protect women from employment discrimination for using a breast pump or feeding their babies during breaks.

Nursing mothers are pressuring businesses, too. Burger King has declared that mothers are welcome to nurse. Starbucks - the target of a letter-writing campaign that asked "What's more natural than coffee and milk?" - has, too.

The moves come as the number of American mothers who choose to breast-feed has climbed to about 70 percent in 2003, the last year for which information was available, from about 50 percent in 1990. Many otherwise apolitical women say they found themselves unexpectedly transformed into lactivists after fielding a nasty comment or being asked to stop nursing in public.

"We're all told that breast-feeding is the best, healthiest thing you can do for your child," said Lorig Charkoudian, 32, who started the Web site after being asked to use the bathroom to nurse at her local Starbucks. "And then we're made to feel ashamed to do it without being locked in our homes."

But Ms. Walters is not the only one who might prefer not to be confronted with breast-feeding at close quarters. Legislators, business owners and family members are debating how to reconcile the health benefits of nursing with the prevailing cultural squeamishness toward nursing in public.

In interviews and Internet discussions, hundreds of women recount being asked to stop nursing in public spots, including the Children's Museum in Huntsville, Ala.; a knitting store in the East Village; a Radisson Hotel lobby in Virginia; a public bus in Los Angeles; and a city commission meeting in Miami Beach.

"It's nothing against breast-feeding, it's about exposing yourself for people who don't want to see it," said Scotty Stroup, the owner of a restaurant in Round Rock, Tex., where a nursing mother was refused service last fall.

But the new generation of lactivists compare discomfort with seeing breast-feeding in public to discomfort with seeing interracial couples or gays holding hands.

"It's like any other prejudice. They have to get used to it," said Rebecca Odes, co-founder of "The New Mom" blog, who attended the ABC protest. "People don't want to see it because they feel uncomfortable with it, and they feel uncomfortable with it because they don't see it."

Whether to breast-feed in public, many nursing mothers say, is not simply a matter of being respectful of another person's sensibilities. They cite research by the Food and Drug Administration showing that the degree of embarrassment a mother feels about breast-feeding plays a bigger role in determining whether she is likely to do so than household income, length of maternity leave or employment status.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Plug for Tony in J-town tonight!

Tony's going to be reading some poetry and other fun stuff at a FREE community celebration tonight, June 9th at Centenary Church. Me & Maiya will be there for Part II (see below) and would love to see you there!

Part I -- puppet show 7:30pm
Part II -- Free community celebration 8:45pm

Part I -- Thursday, June 9th, 7:30 pm

It's World War II, and in camp everyone is treated as if they were the same, Tsuki, a young girl from Los Angeles, decides to prove she is not "an ant," but an individual. The Pink Dress Community Show @ Japanese American National Museum, 369 East First Street LA 90012 [To call for directions (213) 625-0414]

Based on an actual episode from the Maruyama family's history in a Colorado Japanese American Internment camp.
A puppet theater production. Presented by Triumvirate Pi Theatre in Association with the Japanese American National Museum. The 45-minute show is suitable for families with children in grades three and up. Made possible by the generous support of the Minnesota Arts Council and the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department.

Fees are $4 for children and special community members, please contact; AT THE DOOR AND THROUGH JANM TICKETS ARE $8.

Part II -- Puppet Power! A community celebration

@ Centenary United Methodist Church
300 S. Central Avenue, LA, 90013
(cross street 3rd and central)

TONY OSUMI, muralist and writer
SKIM, MC, Korean Drummer & poet
JADE, spoken word artist

And More...

Speaking -
Rev. Mark Nakagawa of the Centenary United Methodist Church
Maggie Vascassenno of the International Action Center

Celebrating the self-determination and
courage of youth during times
of adversity and oppression

Producing Organization TRI -PI Theatre For More
Information -- email

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Maiya's first visit to the OC

On Thursday, Maiya and I went down to Orange County to meet new friends and visit some old friends.

(1) After several years of following PegPower's life through her online journal, I finally met Peg in person! We went to lunch, walked around at the mall with our kids in strollers, and then went back and hung out at their house for a bit. I have to say, she is the sweetest blogger I know, and she is even sweeter in person. So genuine. Her girls, Ashlyn and Summer are just adorable. Peg really is a role model for me as she is a natural and awesome mom. I was paying attention to how lovingly and patiently she talked with her girls. I fell so in love with 3 year old Ashlyn when I complimented her on her cute hairpiece and she said to me, "It's not a hairpiece, it's a headband." And Summer, a one year old squealing with delight at just about everything.

(2) After leaving Peg's house, I went to go visit my childhood friend Kathy (we were best friends in elementary school until she moved away and we became pen pals), who lives about 3 miles from Peg. She wasn't home, so I left a little note in their mailbox. I wasn't looking forward to driving home in rush hour traffic, so I called my ex-boyfriend George, who it turns out lives about a mile from Peg. Maiya and I went over to George's condo for about an hour, and I visited with him and his mom, who I hadn't seen in over ten years. It was so nice to catch up with them.

(3) Then, as I was heading home, I decided to try calling my friend from college Lani, who also lives down the street from Peg & George. Lani was home, and so we dropped in on her as well. We were going to go to dinner, but by that time, it was quite late and Lani had eaten, so Lani heated me up some Progresso minestrone soup and we visited for a few hours.

So, that was Maiya's first trip to the OC, quite a full day, meeting new friends, and seeing old friends.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Happy Four Month Birth Day!

Four. Months. Old. Already. Seems like just yesterday I was giving birth to Maiya Grace. I just want to hug and kiss her when I see this picture which was taken a few weeks ago.

Milestones? Hmm. Maiya continues to grow and thrive. She lifts her head better and for longer stretches of time. She has found her voice. When she drops a toy, she will let us know. When you walk away and/or she wants to be carried, she will let us know. She is not shy about communicating her needs, especially when she is hungry, which is about every 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours during the daytime. She lets us sleep all night almost every night, but makes up for it by being very active during the day. She is showing more interest in what we are eating and what we are doing. She is not particularly fond of the car seat, although on Sunday, when we drove up to Grandpa Larry's house near Big Bear, she slept the entire way there. Coming home was another story. She loves going for walks in the afternoons with her mama. She smiles every time we pass a mirror, so I make sure to stop at mirrors all the time.

I am working on Maiya's photos for May. I have put up a new page of photos belatedly--new">April's First Fotos. You gotta check them out. They're just so cute.