Monday, March 26, 2007

Backyard fun

Spring is here, and we've been having a lot of fun in the backyard in the last few weeks!

Daddy chasing Maiya with the ball! Yes, she's squealing.

Daddy being silly wearing the flat ball on his head.

Maiya and Amani taking a break and hanging out.

Maiya and Amani eating apples and chicken stew.

Laura with Baby Lela.

Maiya playing with her new kitchen from our neighbor's daughter.

Here's a sandbox we picked up off the street with a FREE sign on it.
Maiya loves putting sand on plates and serving it to us.
She hands it to me and says, "Mama eat."

Trying not to confuse "real" food with "pretend" food. So far, so good.
Maiya's enjoying PB&J sandwiches with apples and "sand" ice cream.

Endless fun in the sandbox.

Yesterday, we had a feast for breakfast. Hector & Erika came over for some blueberry/banana pancakes, strawberries, scrambled eggs, homemade salsa, teriyaki hot links, turkey sausage, mushrooms and spinach, and rice. It was so delicious, we barely needed lunch and dinner. Afterwards, Maiya played in the sandbox, almost all day. I foresee that we'll be spending a lot of time out here in the coming summer months.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

5 Hours at KidSpace

Last weekend, we met 5 of my coworkers, their spouses and kids (9 months - 3 years old) at the KidSpace Museum in Pasadena. We got really lost going there because the directions on their website are not correct (take note). Anyways, I had been hearing about it for a long time and wanting to go. We had a fun day. Unfortunately our timing was a little off with Maiya running our show, so we didn't really get to spend much time with friends from work, so the pictures make it seem like we went by ourselves. Next time I will be sure to get a group picture when we arrive!

Maiya looking at the insects and shouting, "pica pica pica" which I thought in Spanish meant bugs or insects, but it actually means bite, but it's something that all the kids at childcare say when they see the humongous roaches outside in the playyard at childcare.

We spent a lot of time, and when I say a lot, I mean hours, at the outdoor play area for kids under 4. They had cool water toys and of course Maiya's favorite, slides. She wanted to ride the mini-tricycles, it seemed, but once she got on the helmet, she didn't want to ride.

Back inside, Maiya and Tony went up the climbing towers, it goes several stories high. I don't know how high, but about mid-way, I saw Tony crawling through it because the levels were so close together. A long time later when they re-emerged, Tony came out sweating.

We also spent a lot of time in the indoor kids play area, it was so fun to see Maiya squeal with delight when we entered the room of all soft and cushy things and lots of shopping carts to push and cushions to bounce off of. Here we are reading a book under the canopy, and wondering if the girl will ever nap. By the way, if it looks like she is hoarding toys, she is.

Here are Josh and Jolynn, along with their one year old Tomie. They organized the outing on our work/parents club listserve. Here they are on their way out of the museum. I think their family kind of looks like ours. Jolynn is JA and Josh is a hapa dude like Tony, which makes our girls both 3/4 JA. Josh had come up with a term for them, which I'm trying to remember at the moment. Something like "hapa hapa" or "half a hapa." Another famous "hapa hapa" is my former boss and friend, Nobuko.

Here we are outside in the parking lot. Because we were having a family dinner about 20 minutes away, we ended up hanging out about 2 1/2 hours after we were done with the place. While it was tiring, it was nice to have no agenda and to just hang out. Tony took a whole roll of film camera, and lots of video, and i took a ton of digital pictures. Maiya had been carrying this red balloon for a long time, running with it and then just as we were trying to take pictures, the balloon escaped into the sky. We had been trying to tie it onto something, but Maiya insisted on holding it and wouldn't let us put it around her wrist. So, here we are saying goodbye to the balloon.

Here we are in San Gabriel after dinner for Uncle Bill's birthday. Unusual for Tony's family, we went to someplace new and different, a Chinese food restaurant that Uncle Bill had read about in the newspaper. Maiya was of course, having a good time being the center of attention. Her legs aren't short, they're just bent in that photo, in case you are wondering.

Ok, that's the report for last week's day for Maiya. I'm enjoying finding the balance between doing stuff as a family that combines activism, cultural and kid-friendly, and I think we're doing pretty well. I'm off to continue nursing my weeklong illness (see comment from my last post if you care) and do some homework for my online class (which I'm dreading because it's getting crazy).

Monday, March 12, 2007

APIs Against the War this Sat.

Supporting Ehren Watada (waiting for 2nd courtmartial) & Agustin Aguayo (who just received 8 months in military prison for refusing to fight in Iraq)... we plan to join the March to End the War this weekend. Can't believe it's going to be 4 years since the war started. Peace. Out.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Here is video of Maiya singing in the car. After the Marathon, after having dim sum in Chinatown. Tony seems embarrassed by the fact that I put this on YouTube. He thinks it's something only a mother could love.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tony Bikes 23 miles (& Blogs About it)

I made it—all 23 bike-peddling miles. The week before I was worried I wouldn’t make it. I even told my friend and day’s riding partner, Glen Kitayama, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get something to eat with him after the ride. Turn down food? I surprised him. He’s done the ride 10 times, but I had visions of cramped legs, gasping for air, feeling nauseous, and losing bodily functions.

Friends asked if I trained for the ride. I told them I didn’t want to over train and burn out, so I’d stopped lifting weights in my early 20s, stopped bike riding in my 30s, and was resting and carbo-loading nightly for the last 15 years.

Truth was, I hadn’t ridden more than 20 miles since the 80s and it’s been over 12 monthly $50 payments to the YMCA since I last got on a stationary bike. But for Great Leap, I’d do it. No problem.

I got up at 4am and tried not forgetting anything like my helmet, water and an extra inner tube. I did forget my air pressure gauge and was too scared to fully fill up my 100 psi tires at the gas station. Better to ride with some extra effort than blow up a tire and have to change.

At 5am I parked in front of Foshay Learning Center on 37th and Western to meet Glen. I started teaching Foshay over 11 years ago. He thought I was going to be late and brought a book to read. I told him I was worried he’d be Nisei and show up 15 minutes early.

It was dark and cold. Glen had nice long-legged riding pants, a long sleeved riding jersey and a windbreaker. I had denim shorts and two t-shirts on. He also had a really fancy 24-speed road bike. I had my Brompton 3-speed folding bike. It’s world renowned as a “folder,” but not an asphalt burner.

By 6am we were in a giant line/mass of people near the starting line in Exposition Park. After 4 minutes of fireworks (not so cool for neighborhood folks trying to get some sleep) everyone inched their way forward. Around 6:15am with music and a PA system blaring we crossed the starting line and headed east on King Blvd. All kinds of peoples were riding: kids on BMXes, dudes on cruisers, ladies on mountain bikes, college students on city bikes, families towing toddler trailers and your standard roadies with black tights and colorful jerseys.

Glen said the key to the ride is not falling. Not only are there lots of riders, but it’s especially dangerous when you hit a hill and some riders slow down or stop and others come up from behind. It’s a bad combination. He also warned me about taking turns in the same arc as others.

By 6:25am I saw my first accident happen and it wasn’t pretty. Somehow a lady lost control on a straightaway and did a header. Her friend braked hard and another rider bumped into her and yelled, “Don’t stop like that!” The whole thing kind of freaked me out for a minute because everything was cool and people were bopping along all pumped up, and then suddenly, Bam! Crash and burn.

The first 4-5 miles around King, Central Ave. and Jefferson Ave. were around where some of my students live. It was early and only a few people were out cheering.

This was also around the time my butt bone started hurting. I raised my seat a bit and it helped, but for the rest of the day it was tender. Not bad, but a little uncomfortable. Luckily I never got winded. My legs got a little heavy about a third of the way in, but then it went away.

The toughest part of the ride was a sharp left turn onto 5th Street off of Figueroa. It rose west over the 110 Freeway. It was a steep hill and it bottled necked with slowing riders. About half of us got off our bikes to walk, but Glen was one of those who kept peddling and wove their way up. Later on 6th Street it was up a mixture of downshifting uphill and coasting and tapping the brakes downhill.

Volunteers were out in numbers and started handing out water and Gatorade. I was eyeing that Gatorade. All I had for breakfast was water and a banana. Unfortunately, the Brompton has tiny 16-inch wheels and a short wheelbase. It’s quick steering and doesn’t lend itself to no-hands or one-handed riding. Not wanting to crash, I passed on those little green cups and the sorority girls passing them out. I thought it would have been cool to ride by, grab one with one hand, swig it down and throw it away like they do in the movies.

It was somewhere on 6th Street that Glen said that we were past the halfway mark. I felt good physically and knew I’d make it—if I didn’t fall. That’s why I didn’t mess with that Gatorade.

The course weaved back and forth through East Koreatown and Pico Union along Olympic, Pico and Venice. When we hit Normandie, I knew it was straight down to Exposition and over to Vermont to the finish. That’s when my fear of nausea and rubbery limbs faded. I started thinking about food again. Our plan was to go to Tak’s Coffee Shop, a Japanese American breakfast joint over in the Crenshaw Square.

On Exposition, just before Vermont, the pace slowed with riders. I saw a yellow archway and asked Glen if that was the finish line. It was! We crossed the finish line and a young Asian kid holding a bullhorn and dressed in Jr. ROTC camouflages meekly announced something like, “Keep moving forward, people.” It was a little anticlimactic. Glen and I laughed. No double overtime Chick Hearn ending and no yellow ribbon ripping across the chest, flashbulbs popping or giant digital clock documenting the moment. But I was happy. I wasn’t chafed.

At Exposition Park, another line 15 bikers wide formed and it took almost 40 minutes getting our medals and making our way out. As we headed back to Foshay to get the cars I hoped to run into a few of my old Kindergarten and First Grade students who are now in high school.

A short drive later we slid into a booth at Tak’s for some hot links, eggs, rice and sourdough bread. Jenni’s Auntie Keiko works at the restaurant and without us knowing, kindly picked up our tab. “Very Nisei” Glen said.

I had a great time riding and hanging out with Glen, who was cool enough to ride at my pace. Of course raising money for Great Leap sweetened the day. I’ll ride again next year. Maybe Jenni and I can borrow a bike trailer and bring Maiya along.

Monday, March 05, 2007

LA Marathon with GL

It took 45 minutes to park. People were finished before we even started!
Maiya rode in the stroller more than halfway through the 5K.

Here were are on San Pedro Street near the old Japanese produce market. Maiya walked from 9th & Central to 11th & Grand at her own pace, waving to Fashion District workers cheering us on, then I carried her to Figueroa & 12th.

At the 5K finish line with Shobo, Nobuko & Donna. Notice we're all alone. We were almost the last people there. They were pulling down cones behind us.

We made it! We love LA!

Meeting up with Great Leapers who biked 23 miles at Empress Pavillion.

Comparing medals with daddy back at home!

We helped Great Leap raise a lot of money and we had a great time. We didn't see any TV cameras on the 5K, but we saw lots of families, hundreds of people walking from Ability First and Runners for Justice. It is possible that Maiya was the youngest walker of the day (we saw lots of babies in strollers though) walking about a mile by herself, and crossing the finish line on foot. On the other side of town, Tony did great finishing the 23 miles bike ride in about 2 hours with no training. We're looking forward to doing it again next year!