Sunday, September 30, 2007

More Maiya Videos

Maiya eating yakisoba with a hashi tonight at dinner

Maiya talking on her cell phone with Auntie Keiko, Mamas (Grandma Machi) and Amani's family

You can really tell how Maiya is growing up in these videos. Stay tuned. We've been shooting video and photos just about every day lately. We've got tantruma, another trip to the Aquarium, and lots of fun reading and playing at home.

BTW, the Save Little Tokyo Petition is over 2,500 signatures in less than one week. Won't you sign it too?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Save Little Tokyo - Petition

Have you signed the petition to save Little Tokyo?

As you may already be aware, several recent property transactions have put the future of Los Angeles' Little Tokyo in jeopardy. Japanese Village Plaza was sold to American Commercial Equities in late July, and on August 17, the New Otani Hotel and Weller Court Shopping Mall were bought by 3D Investments—the SAME company that bought the large chunk of San Francisco J-Town from Kintetsu Enterprises last year.

Little Tokyo community members have a history of being actively involved with the changes in Little Tokyo, and we are proud of our community's achievements. It's time again to make our voices clear - Little Tokyo is our home. Little Tokyo is our history. Little Tokyo is our future. And the people who share that home should have a say in what happens to it.

What you can do:

1) Sign the following petition. Doing so will send a message to 3D Investments and American Commercial Equities that they can not buy and develop land in our neighborhood without taking into consideration the wants and needs of the existing community. It will put current property owners and potential buyers on notice that our community is organized and not afraid to take action to ensure that they act responsibly and remain sensitive to the historic and cultural importance of Little Tokyo.

2) Attend the Little Tokyo Community Council's Town Hall meeting at 6:30 PM on Thursday, October 4, 2007, and the Japanese American National Museum. This meeting will be an important opportunity for Little Tokyo's stakeholders (that's you!) to make their voices heard and demand what is due to them.

Please don't miss out on this opportunity to demand respect and justice for our community!

Your friends at J-Town Voice

P.S. By the way, the mural images are from Tony's "Home is Little Tokyo" mural unveiled in 2005.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Amani "3"

Maiya sings Happy Bday to Amani

Everyone else sings Happy Bday at Amani's party

Pinata pull-apart (an age-appropriate, anti-hitting version of the pinata)

Maiya and Baby Lela

End of the party stomping on the ice from the cooler

Everyone likes the cool party favor shades

It hardly seems like it's been 3 years since Amani was born. I was lucky to be present at his birth, just a few months before Maiya was born. We love you Amani!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Maiya Nods, Tony Giggles & Jiggles

What happens when Mommy has to work on a Saturday afternoon (LAUP Preschool conference booth)

Daddy thinks falling asleep while eating lunch 2 hours after naptime is funny, real funny. My favorite part is when the bread falls out of Maiya's mouth. Tony's laughing so hard, but you know she gets it from him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Goodbye Uncle

From left: Dad, Mom, Auntie Kaz, Uncle Yoshio, Auntie Kumi
Rosarito Beach, Mexico 1995

I'm sad to say that my Uncle Yoshio passed away a few days ago. My parents went to go see him on the morning of our family reunion a few weeks ago. He had been very ill for many years and I think it's been maybe 10 years since I'd seen him. He was a hard-working J.A. gardener, like many of his generation. After the reunion, my parents gave us cuttings from one of his plumeria plants from his yard. What is significant is that he is the first one in my family to pass away since my grandma died in 1988. My condolences to my Auntie Kumi, my cousins Tina and Nina, and their families.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Maiya-ism #1 & #2

MaiyaGrace-ism #1:
I had to take Maiya to the doctor a few weeks ago and make sure she didn't get scabies at childcare. She didn't, thank goodness. Afterwards I asked her:

JK: Did you like seeing Dr. Choi today? She's a nice lady, isn't she?
MG: You a nice lady, Mommy!!!
JK: Thank you! Is daddy a nice lady?
MG: No, daddy is my daddy.
TO: How many daddies do you have?
MG: 2, 4, 6, 8!!!!
Laughter follows.

MaiyaGrace-ism #2:
To get Maiya to eat her veggies (or whatever is being left behind on the plate), Tony or I will grab our fork and poke a tomato.
JK: Family tomato!
Then everyone else grabs a tomato with their fork, we meet at the center and make a kiss when all 3 tomatoes touch, and then we eat them.

The other day, Maiya grabbed a green bean, and said, "Family beans! Kiss!"
Laughter follows.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Family Reunion... 37 in 107

Okazaki Family Reunion / Murrieta, CA 9/3/07

One day in May 2007, I started thinking about having a family reunion, similar to ones that have been done with my dad's cousin's families. I emailed some of my family and cousins whose email addresses that I had. As with email, it took us awhile to settle on the format and the date. Then my cousin Russell, put together a yahoogroup listserve. Finally, Auntie Taka said, let's just set a date. Sooner the better. Then my cousin Rod and his wife Wendy generously offered their home in Murrieta. My cousin Roxane set up an Evite page so we could organize the food and activities, and we were a go.

When we were growing up in the late 60s and early 70s, our family got together every 2nd Sunday for Omatsuri, which was going to the church service at my grandma's house. As kids, we would play on the bunkbeds in my cousin Cherie and Jayne's bedroom. As we got older and grew into teenagers we stopped going every month. But aside from jumping on the beds, my best memories of those 2nd Sundays was the potluck-style lunches served by grandma's church after the service.

The Food - It's not a family event, without starting with good food. Some of the food included spinach dip, veggies and fruits, teriyaki chicken and teriyaki salmon, tri-tip steak, hot dogs, BBQ veggies, chicken casserole, California rolls, sushi, red rice (sekigohan), gobo, somen salad, veggie stew, asparagus, chinese chicken salad, cake and ice cream sundaes.

The program. We had thrown around a lot of suggestions and ideas for activities for the reunion. In the end, people put together things of their own, Uncle Fumio asked me to emcee, and we had a program. We started with introductions of everyone, and an amazing 37 of us attended, with 9 months old Kimiko being the youngest member of the family. Traveling the furthest were my cousin Jackie from Hawai'i, and my cousin Ryan's son, Ryan Michael and his girlfriend from Ohio.

Cousin Marlon's wife Hiroko translated some writings of our Great Grandma Yone from Japanese to English. Grandma Yone was a Head Minister of a church in Japan and with my Grandma started something like 13 churches from Portland to Los Angeles back before World War II, so Hiroko also translated some of her writings.

Then Auntie Taka read a very touching story about her camp life in Heart Mountain, Wyoming and wrote about her 9-year old sister Sumi, who died in Crystal City, Texas, shortly after being reunited with our grandfather during the war. Auntie had circulated the story on the yahoogroups listserve, and so my Uncle Fumio, her younger brother also wrote some of his memories, which included their life after camp in Seabrook Farms, New Jersey, where my grandparents worked after the war. (Our family's camp experience is one of 110,000 Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in 10 concentation camps during WW2.)

My mom got up with a photo of all 13 of us cousins in 1974, the only (??!!??) photo she can find of all 13 of us. She asked for everyone to list their ages and birthdates so we can put together a family roster.

Then, Uncle Fumio, Auntie Taka and my mom, stood and sang some childhood songs in Japanese, kind of amazed that they could remember the words to the songs.

At that moment, I was sad that my mom's oldest sister, Auntie Kumi and her family weren't able to attend the reunion that day. We ended the program with a celebration of Auntie Taka and Uncle Rick's 53rd wedding anniversary.

The pool. Did I mention that it was 107 degrees that day? And that there were 37 of us? Well, we all fit into the pool at Rod's house. They had a cool shallow end that was about 1 foot deep and big enough to seat us all. Because of the heat, we ended up spending much of the day playing in the pool. With 8 small children, that was a good place for us all. We had a blast.

So I think everyone who came ate a lot, learned a little about our family's story, and had a fun time. For those who couldn't make it, Auntie Kumi and Uncle Yoshio, the cousins (Ryan, Tina, Nina, Cherie, Roxane), and the next generation, we hope you can make it to the next one. We MISSED you! Seems like people wanted to make this an annual reunion, and are already throwing out possible dates and locations for 2008!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Blog backup

Seems like I just don't have the time to blog about all the things that have been going on in our life. If I had more time, I'd blog about:

* Brunch for Auntie Keiko's bday at our house. Enjoying playing with all of Maiya's cousins

* Tofu Festival - 20,000 plus people in 2 days in J-town produced by LTSC where I work. It was a hot, hot day--I worked 9 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday. Maiya wearing "Soy Friendly" and Amani wearing "Planting seeds for our future" shirts.

* J-town - the loss of our J-town to luxury condos, and sale of JVP, Weller Court & New Otani

* Me & Tony's 9th wedding anniversary - celebrations at Tokyo Table, Furaibo and Tony's new favorite coffee shop, Tokyo 77.

* Cleaning out and organizing our garage, den & closets of clutter. Taking down our rusty shed. Goal: parking in the garage!

* Bye bye fishies - after losing our 2 goldfish, we got about 20 guppies, but they didn't make it either

* Milestones of Maiya - more talking, more decisive, more playdates, more video, more art

* Starting a new ECE (Early Childhood Education) class I'm taking one night a week called Language Arts and Literature for Young Children at the local college.

* BBQ with Tony's Aunt Liz' family visiting from Idaho and his godsister Beth's family on Saturday

* BOLD - Birth on Labor Day - the amazing play about women's birth stories produced by the Doulas of Southern California on Sunday. The play will be performed in 37 locations this month around the country. It inspired me to want to have a natural water birth at home (although it didn't convince me to decide whether or not to have another baby/toddler), and it also inspired me to learn more about being a doula, or at least to do some advocacy for educating healthy birthing choices and support for low-income and teenage moms.

* First annual "Okazaki Family Reunion" - 37 of us on Monday. Touching stories from Auntie Taka and Uncle Fumio. 6 Nisei (generation), 8 cousins plus spouses, 16 next generation (ranging from 22 years to 9 months old), lots of great potluck food, 107 degrees, and a pool big enough to fit us all!

* The crazy heat- but can't complain too much living on the westside

* Never ending bills, laundry, dishes

* Diaper-free Maiya! This is a BIG one, it is the most life-changing experience and it is the milestone that we have been looking forward to but is a reminder of how quickly she is growing up and how these days need to be cherished, every moment.

If you have any requests for details on the above blog topics, please vote on any ones you'd like to hear more about because I may not get to them all.