Sunday, December 31, 2006

Photos of the Holiday Season

From our house to yours, have a happy and safe New Year's. To those who were planning to come to our New Year's Oshogatsu celebration, we're sorry we canceled it. There was just too much to do to get our house ready. Tony is still painting and working on finishing stuff on the house. We'll reschedule something again soon.

Omedeto gozaimasu!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry XMas from the KO's

Christmas Eve at the Ayala's

Christmas Night at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Maiya's new word today was "wow!" when opening up her gifts. Thank you to friends and family for spoiling Maiya with all the new toys, books and clothes. We need to have another yard sale to figure out where to put everything! My Rainbow Jello turned out well. It helps to have a fridge that is level and lots of counterspace. It also helps to do it at 3pm instead of 3am. Sorry to be a spoiler, but one of these photos is probably going to be our holiday photo, which I need to do this week! But, I'm working all week, so we'll do our best to get them out before the New Year! Happy Holidays to all. Hope you had a good one.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Meme... Again

I always do these things when I'm procrastinating. Right now, it's Rainbow Jello time and Maiya's napping.

1. Do you have a college degree?

Yes. It was a B.S. in Business with an emphasis in Human Resources. 20 years later, I took my first class in Early Childhood Education, and will probably take another in the Spring.
2. What was the amount of your last electric bill?
Probably about $130, but that includes trash pickup and sewage, and is for two months.
3. How many hours per week do you have to work?
Well, I work 32 hours a week officially that I get paid for, and I am also a full time mom and wife.
4. Have you ever attended a Toastmasters evening?
I don't think so. But it rings a bell, maybe I did 15-20 years ago?
5. Favorite place to attend Happy Hour?
None. But last week, the day our work audit was completed, I went with a group of folks to my first happy hour since college. Since I don't drink, I had a clear soda. If Maiya hadn't been home sick with Tony, I wouldn't have been able to go.
6. How many miles is your commute to work each day (one way)?
About 15 miles each way. Which can mean 40-60 minutes on most days. If it's after 10pm, I can do it in 25-30. If it's a bad traffic day, it can be 1 1/2 hours.
7. What time do you get up every morning?
I usually get out of bed by 7:30 or 8 am. But Maiya often wakes me up between 5am and 6:30 am, and lately it's been every day that she's up. When she sits up and starts playing with her stuffed animals I ignore her and go back to sleep. If she puts a book in my face, then I have to read it. Luckily, I've memorized many of her books and I can recite them without putting on my glasses.
8. What is your definition of sleeping in late?
Every now and again, I can get Tony to wake up and take Maiya to breakfast and I will go back to sleep until 9 or 9:30, but that's maybe once a month or less. Generally I haven't slept more than 6-7 hours straight in over 2 years, so I don't really sleep in late. When I was pregnant, I was either insomniac or I would sleep till 10am or 11am (even on work days!)
9. Have you found any gray hairs?
Please, they're everywhere.
10. Do you check your cholesterol on a yearly basis?
Hmm, no I don't think so. I think they did it when I got life insurance, and it was really good.
11. How large was your first cellular phone?
Pretty big, but not one of those foot-long ones that my friends had.
12. Does your employer provide good health insurance?
Well, I don't consider HMOs to be good health insurance. In fact, I don't think good health insurance exists these days, unless maybe in Canada or Cuba or other countries where it is free. My HMO coverage is through Tony's.
13. Did you use the internet to write a research paper back in the old days of high school?
Please. I did not get my first computer until 4 years ago and it's the same one we have now. I didn't even have a typewriter until my senior year in college. In college, I used to go to the library and put quarters in every 15 minutes in the pay typewriters, or I would go to work to do my papers.
14. Have you ever heard of the internet sensation... or visited?
15. Have you attended a high school reunion?
Yes, my 20th. I saw the guy I had a crush on and I told him. I asked him if he remembered me and he said, "Uh, yeah." I wasn't convinced he actually did, but he did give me a hug and introduced me to his wife who was very nice.
16. How many jobs have you held in your professional career?
6. That's 6 jobs in 25 years. They have all been professional administrative jobs since I was 16. Most of my jobs have been long-term relationships.
17. Have you ever been fired or laid off from a job?
18. What is your favorite drink?
I don't have one, but I like blueberry soda from Trader Joe's and Martinelli's.
19. What is the most expensive bottle of wine that you have in your residence?
We don't drink, but Tony bought a bottle of $2 buck Chuck recently to use for cooking. And our new kitchen has 4 slots for a wine rack, but it's got mostly sparkling sodas in it.
20. Have you been divorced?
21. How old were you when you stopped getting IDed for alcohol/tobacco etc...?
Well, I got carded for an R-rated movie when I was 25 years old, and I got carded for non-alcoholic wine from Trader Joe's when I was in my late-30s.
22. Favorite casino?
Haven't been to many. Enjoy The Cal, except for the smoke.
23. Are you happier now than you were in high school?
24. Did you ever have Hypercolor shirts?
25. Do you remember when Michael Jackson was black and attracted to older people?
I remember when he was part of the Jackson Five.
26. What music was in your cd/cassette player when you were 16?
When I was 16, CDs weren't invented yet. I had 45s and LPs. My first 45 was "Love Will Keep us Together" by Captain and Tennille. My first album was "Grease." I was into Joey Travolta, Kristy and Jimmy McNicol, and a whole lotta disco and Top 40 hits.
27. Favourite fancy/upscale restaurant?
I haven't been to any upscale restaurants since probably more than 10 years. Tony & I always go to the same old hangouts.
28. How long has it been since you attended a kegger?
College? Although I didn't drink in college either, not really. Never did like or drink beer. I drank some wine in college, but that's about it.
30. Where were you when you found out about 9-11?
Nobuko called me and woke me up and told me to turn on the TV. She said, "There's going to be a whole lot of oppression going on." I had a grant due the next day, but luckily they extended it a day since I was glued to the TV the next 2 days.
31. When's the last time you were at a 7-11?
No idea. My mom didn't let us go in them, she was scared something bad would happen. She also didn't like us to buy gas at night.
32. When's the last time you bought a 40oz of beer?

Ok, now it's time for Rainbow Jello production. It's a 7 layer jello that takes 20 minutes per layer. Presents are wrapped. Tonight is tamales with the Ayalas. Hope you have a happy holiday!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

‘Tis the Season for API Giving

Rafu Shimpo column for 12/19/06

Ah, the holidays. They come up so quickly, don’t they? It’s so hard to believe that 2007 is just a few weeks away. My husband Tony and I try to live within our means throughout the year so that we can support some of the Asian American and Pacific Islander nonprofit organizations who do such great work for the community.

This year, I thought I would share my Top 10 List of API organizations and causes that we have or will be supporting this year.

1. Great Leap: I worked at Great Leap for 7 years and am now on the Board of Directors. Great Leap is committed to producing art that nurtures the spirit to serve as a bridge across the divides of race, class and culture—opening dialogue, celebrating differences, and engaging people in a common goal. Under Nobuko Miyamoto’s artistic direction for over 28 years, Great Leap is at the top of my giving list for 2006. In 2007, look to Great Leap for Collaboratory 4, and “To All Relations: The Art of Weaving Faiths.”

2. Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress: Tony and I have been members of NCRR for many years. Along with leading the fight for Japanese American redress and reparations, NCRR continues to do amazing work, supporting causes of social justice, this year supporting Lt. Ehren Watada’s courageous stand against the war in Iraq and organizing the Southern California speaking tour of Watada’s parents. Save the date for the next Day of Remembrance on February 17, 2007.

3. Manzanar Committee: I volunteered with the Manzanar Committee for 8 years. The Manzanar Committee has sponsored and organized the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage for the past 37 years. Founded by the late Sue Kunitomi Embrey in 1969, the committee is currently planning the 38th annual pilgrimage dedicated to Sue’s activism and commitment to teaching others about the Japanese American concentration camp experience, set for April 28, 2007.

4. Center for Pacific Asian Family: CPAF’s mission is to build healthy and safe communities by addressing the root causes and the consequences of family violence and violence against women. CPAF is committed to meeting the specific cultural and language needs of API women and their families and provides transitional housing for API survivors who seek to establish independent, violence free lives.

5. Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance: KIWA’s mission is to empower low wage immigrant workers and to develop a progressive constituency and leadership among low wage immigrant workers in Los Angeles that can join the struggle in solidarity with other underrepresented communities for social change and justice. Founded in March 1992, KIWA has made a significant contribution to the empowerment of immigrant workers initiating the Koreatown Restaurant Workers Justice Campaign and Market Workers Justice Campaign.

6. Manilatown Heritage Foundation: The mission of Manilatown Heritage Foundation is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in America by preserving their history, advocating for equal access, and advancing arts and culture. In 1977, the elderly Filipino tenants of the International Hotel in San Francisco were evicted and the Hotel torn down. After almost 30 years of struggle, the International Hotel Senior Housing and Manilatown Center was opened last year. The center’s activities include exhibits, performances, film showings, classes and workshops, as well as a space where community members share stories, teach and learn.

7. Little Tokyo Recreation Center: Back in 1994, I participated in a charrette, kind of a brainstorming session with a group of young people who envisioned a gymnasium in Little Tokyo. Current efforts are to build the Little Tokyo Recreation Center as a multi-purpose, multi-generational center for basketball, volleyball, martial arts, as well as a space for cultural and community activities. The Rec Center is working on fundraising and obtaining site control next to the Little Tokyo Library, on Los Angeles Street, between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

8. Visual Communications: The mission of Visual Communications is to promote intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation, preservation and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans. VC was created with the understanding that media and the arts are important vehicles to organize and empower communities, and build connections between generations. VC is currently working on the “Save Our Stories” project to preserve, catalog and digitize 200 archival videotapes from Little Tokyo Redevelopment in the 70s.

9. Little Tokyo Service Center: I am including LTSC, not just because I work there, but because it truly is an agency dedicated to “helping people and building community.” LTSC’s mission is to provide a comprehensive array of social services, building affordable housing, serving low income and other persons in need, contributing to community revitalization and cultural preservation in Little Tokyo, and to provide resources to neighboring Asian Pacific Islander and other low-income communities.

10. Japanese American Community Services: I’ve been on the Board of Trustees of JACS for the last few years. JACS is a small foundation that provides financial support to "emerging" API groups and projects in the greater Los Angeles area, with a focus on community service, health and human services, cultural arts and leadership development. JACS can be traced back to Shonien, an orphanage and day nursery for Japanese immigrants in the early 1900s. JACS has supported the Little Tokyo Residents Association, South Asian Network, Nikkei Community Internship and many other projects in the last few years.

This is by no means a complete list. We don’t just support Asian American organizations, so I’ve added two additional organizations that are high on my priority list.

11. Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership: Back in 1998, we met the amazing Grace Lee Boggs, a movement activist in Detroit. At 91 years young, Grace has inspired us to challenge ourselves to look at our activism in different ways. The Boggs Center’s mission is to help grassroots activists develop themselves into visionary leaders and critical thinkers who can devise pro-active strategies for rebuilding and re-spiriting our cities and rural communities from the ground up, demonstrate the power of ideas in changing ourselves and our reality.

12. Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research: The Southern California Library is a vital community resource in the heart of Los Angeles dedicated to education for social change. The Library offers unique and accessible collections and programs on Southern California's social and progressive history.

So there’s my 2006 List for API Giving. These wonderful organizations are all non-profit, so donations to them are tax deductible. And while my list is based on my family’s principles and interests, I encourage Rafu readers to consider contributing to these organizations or to make their own lists.

As we reflect on our good fortune this season—we have good health, a house to live in, plenty of food to eat, careers we enjoy and a beautiful daughter—it’s time to sit down with some hot cocoa and start writing checks to our favorite organizations. Omedeto gozaimasu!

Jennifer "Emiko" Kuida has been active in the Japanese and Asian American community for the last 15 years. Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo. © 2006

Thursday, December 14, 2006

New camera, new pix

Maiya, Daddy & Pam-Pa

Maiya and Bew (Uncle Bill)

Eating tangerines, olive bread and avocado cilantro hummus
after going to the Farmer's Market on Sunday

Yay! We finally got a new camera! Actually it's not so new, but it's a big improvement over our old camera, the Canon PowerShot S200 which has not been working right since last December! Uncle Bill gave us his Canon PowerShot S 410 digital camera with accessories, and we love it! So, lots of new photos and video clips coming with the new camera.

Lately, Maiya has gotten attached to stuffed animals, no one in particular, but she has a few favorites, Chango (she has 3 monkeys of different sizes and fluff) and this yellow Ducky with Rabbit Slippers and a shaker (see photo above with Uncle Bill). Yesterday, we went with Auntie Keiko to the mall to do some Christmas shopping, and she got her first Elmo doll, which just might become her favorite, since she squeals whenever she hears him or sees him. Note for parents of toddlers: Check out those little car carts at the mall, Maiya got in one and stayed in it for 3 hours yesterday. She was sitting up, turning the steering wheel and was having a great time controlling it!

Well, I got a million things to do and couldn't sleep, so here I am. It's 2:30 am and a work night, so I think I better head off to bed. But before I do, one more picture of our cutie pie!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Winding down November

For Thanksgiving, we went over to Uncle Meg, Aunt Janice and cousin Tina's house. Afterwards, we went to the Ayala's. Nice day.

Maiya on Thanksgiving at the Ayala's.

On Saturday, I had a yard sale, after clearing out some of the things we just don't need. I decided to donate the sales to Great Leap. $90 is not bad, considering that most of the things I sold between 50 cents and a dollar. I was practically giving things away. Afterwards, we donated about 5 boxes of leftovers to the Boys and Girls Club. It was nice that both my sister and brother's families came over to lend a hand and hang out during the yard sale.

Anyone want to buy some stuff?

From left: Jenni, Maiya, Kyle, Saori, Kevin, Tony hanging out at the yard sale.

After the Yard Sale was over, Mike, Laura and Amani came over and Tony made a delicious meal in the new kitchen. We've been having a lot of great meals this past few weeks. Tony's been outdoing himself meal after meal, and I've been happily washing dishes and keeping the kitchen clean.

Mike handling two at once!

Maiya and Amani coloring at Maiya's new activity table.

It's been so nice to be doing dishes and laundry at home. What a luxury! I've never spent so much time in the kitchen before. This morning, I even baked pumpkin muffins. Hope your weekend is going well. I can't believe we finished up November and are now into December!