Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Space, My Red Face

NaBloPoMo#29: Last year, I started a MySpace page for Maiya, but they shut it down because she was under 14. I didn't have the energy to reload all the photos and make all the connections again. But I found out that Tony's mom Fran was on MySpace, so I went to check it out. Maiya saw her avatar, and said, "That's Frannie Grannie" when she saw the picture. Anyways, I thought I'd join again. So, here we are: MySpace/kuidaosumi. Will you be our friend?

Only one more day to go. It's interesting how I am willing to show my 1984 prom photo to the entire world wide web, but get 4 guys gathering around my cubicle this afternoon looking at the picture and laughing and I am embarrassed beyond belief. Also, because Dean actually knew my prom date, and thought Janet would have known him too. There's that small JA world again. I think I feel less exposed when I'm not around when people are laughing at my picture and reading my stuff.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

MMD (More Maiya Dancing)

NaBloPoMo#28: Because it's been awhile since I've posted on Youtube/kuidaosumi, here's a video from today's dancing frenzy courtesy of me, Maiya & Elmo Makes Music. My excuse for the shaky camera is because I was dancing too!

Not sure why it's so dark, maybe if you go directly to YouTube. If I get a chance, I'll post another tonight after my class.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

O Bento Lunch!

NaBloPoMo#27: Inspired by websites like the Vegan Lunch Box and Lunch in a Box.Net, I made this lunch for Maiya today. Actually looking at the picture now, it looks a little plain in its presentation, but it is all organic. For lunch, Organic Whole Wheat Bread flower sandwich with organic peanut butter and organic blueberry jam, cranberries, organic mangoes, organic fuji apples and organic soy milk. And for snack, a homegrown tangerine, organic string cheese and organic eco-shaped cookies and organic brown rice crackers.

I am having a lot of fun with my new cookie cutter molds and pancake molds. I have memories of my mom making little 1/2" animals with American cheese and bologna when we were kids. I just can't believe that it's me, doing these kinds of things for my child. It's not something I ever imagined I would even think about. But with a good cookie cutter, it's as fast as cutting a sandwich in 4 pieces.

Tonight, we let Maiya stay up late watching the finals show for "Dancing with the Stars." When I told her we were staying home tomorrow, she requested dinosaur and teddy bear pancakes for breakfast. My pleasure.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Disaster Den

NaBloPoMo#26: We just got home from dinner at Junior's Deli & visiting Uncle Bill. Tony's giving Maiya a quick bath and then it's bedtime duty for me, so I only have a minute for this blog entry. So, I thought I'd post some photos of the disaster den. It's our room that needs more than a 4 day weekend to make a dent in the clutter. Often when we "clean" the house, this is where the crap gets piled. It's not that big a room, but it is our office, den, storage, and Maiya's playroom. We've kicked around the idea of sending in these pictures to HGTV. What do you think? Can we tackle this room alone, or do we need professional help?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kiddie Art aka Emergent Writing

NaBloPoMo#25B: Here's some pictures of Maiya, 2nd generation artist. You will see she is both a lefty and a righty. I love watching her create. I have been labeling her drawings as she tells me what each one is. Her scribbling (aka emergent writing in my ECE class) now takes the shape of animals, friends and family, usually round or oval circles. Big ones for adults and small ones for kids and babies. Lately, she is also into characters from's coloring pages. We're dating them since their structure is changing as she grows and develops.

Last Day of the T-weekend

NaBloPoMo#25A: It's been a lovely 5-day weekend. Very productive in terms of getting the house and garage thinned out. We got 2 calls on the table, but no takers. Still massive work needs to be done in the den, but we've been home for the most part, evidenced by how often we are needing to do the dishes.

Yesterday after I went to the gym during Maiya & Tony's nap, I stopped by this new cake decorating store by our house and picked up flower & butterfly cookie cutters, more cupcake liners, and I made a peanut butter & jelly flower sandwich for Maiya's lunch tomorrow. Last night we visited Mike, Laura, Amani & Baby Leela for dinner and that was nice. This morning I made our weekly pancakes--a blueberry dinosaur and teddy bear using my new pancake molds, which I am still trying to get the hang of.

Maiya seems to have caught a cold today, so we stayed home and watched 3 movies from Grannie Frannie's animal video collection: "Babe," "The Jungle Book" and "Bambi." As a family, we really enjoyed Baby. I did some fast-forwarding on Bambi, before me & Maiya took a good long nap. While Tony was at TJ's, I did dishes, laundry and trash while Maiya watched The Jungle Book.

Ok, well tomorrow is back to work. Can I have a few more days? Please?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

7 Random Things About Me(me)

1. My most frequented vacation spot is... Detroit. Since 2000 I have been to Detroit 9 times. Our dear friend, Grace Lee Boggs, of the Boggs Center is a 92 year old movement activist, who Maiya Grace is named after, lives there. After meeting Grace in 1998 at the Serve the People Conference at UCLA, Grace invited Tony & I to participate with Detroit Summer, and we helped to conceive and design 2 murals in Detroit. Then Great Leap, where I used to work, did a multi-year arts residency project called "I Dream a Garden" with the urban gardening movement. On one of my trips, I took Grace to the "Animating Democracy" Arts and Civic Dialogue conference in Flint and was able to introduce her to the national arts activists community before her keynote address.

2. I happily took a more than 50% paycut and gave up all my benefits and retirement plan 10 years ago in order to move from a corporate legal management position that I had been in for 12 years, in order to run Great Leap, a nonprofit community arts organization (with no experience whatsoever in the arts or in running a small business). It was a leap of faith, and one that I never regretted.

3. I bought my first condo at age 25. I wasn't making that much money, but I was a serious saver, so I saved enough for a downpayment on a 3 bedroom 2 1/2 bath condo with a 2 car garage. I took in 2 tenants to help me pay the mortgage (one was my sister, and one was my friend Alyce). I eventually became the president of the board of directors and helped to win a $1million lawsuit against the developer.

4. After having been a gymnast for over 5 years, I made the gymnastics team in high school, but I was the only person on the team who never got to compete once in two years. I could not do several of the required competitive moves, like a back handspring, a backroll to a handstand or a back hip circle on the uneven bars. I just didn't have the muscles to swing my little 95 pound body around the bar. I was proud to be the most flexible person on the team, able to do the splits in 3 directions, but in competition, no one really cared if you could do the splits or not.

5. I didn't eat ANY fruit or cereal or milk for over 10 years, probably closer to 12-13 years. This was probably from high school, through college and the few years after that. I still don't drink milk, much preferring soy, but that's not that unusual I guess. Then later, in the late 90s I didn't eat meat for several years. I started eating meat when I got pregnant for the protein. I am thinking about going vegetarian in 2008. It's not so hard since I don't like meat, never really have.

6. I have been a JA community activist since 1992.

7. I have been blogging since 2002. Here's another snapshot from Dec. 02. It's fun to have that digital archive to go back and reflect on life 5 years ago.

NaBloPoMo#24: This blog is from Yam's tag. I don't have the energy to tag more people to pass it on, but feel free to do your own if you like. I have another ABC Meme in the works which I'll try to get to before the NaBloPoMo is over. Tired and going to bed. Toodles.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Declutter Friday

NaBloPoMo#23: Every year, I try to take advantage of that extra day off after Thanksgiving. Never made it to the gym today, but took a nice heavy nap with Maiya. I cleaned up the kitchen and emptied all the expired (2006) food from the fridge. Tony slept until noon and made turkey soup today. This afternoon I worked on filing in the disaster den, and we spent a few hours cleaning out the garage and loading up things for the thrift shop. You could barely walk in there lately, but now, we are 1 dining room table, 1 microwave/tv cart and 2 boxes away from parking in the garage after over 2 years!

If you're interested, this is such a deal. It's our Danish dining room table now on sale (again) on Craigslist. It converts from a round table to an oval by pulling out the leaf which is hidden inside.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Tonight at Grandma & Grandpa's house with the cousins

Giving thanks for family, friends, good food... I don't eat turkey, but that doesn't mean I didn't stuff myself. I can make a delicious meal out of all the yummy fixins. And tomorrow, I plan to participate in "Buy Nothing Day." Also, my sister's in-law's family decided to cancel their gift exchange. They're going to do "kids only" gifts. Instead, they are donating money to a needy family--a family at our childcare center with 3 daughters who just lost their apartment in a fire. I thought that was pretty cool.
Ok, I'm tired tonight so I'm going to keep it short. NaBloPoMo#22.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Prom Story - 1984

NaBloPoMo#21: I didn't actually go to my own prom back in high school. I had asked someone from my church (I was a Southern Baptist at the time) who turned me down, who later turned out to be gay, but neither of us knew it at the time. Well, maybe he did, but he didn't come out till many years later.

When I was in my 2nd year in college I met a younger man. He was a high school senior who picked me up at my cousin's church dance in Boyle Heights and we dated a few times before he invited me to his prom. He was the first JA guy that I ever dated.

I was so excited. My mom and I went dress shopping at the mall (it was a size 3!). I bought nail polish and corsages that matched my dress perfectly. I had our names engraved on wine glasses, and even tied matching bows on the glasses. My of-age roommate bought us a bottle of champagne.

The prom itself was not as exciting. It was in a hotel downtown and we didn't spend much time there, because he and his friends had gotten a cheap motel room on the beach in Santa Monica for the "after-party." Those motels are long gone. I recall he was doing drugs in the bathroom with others and he wasn't speaking to me, while I hung out with his best friend's date, who like me, didn't really drink or smoke.

He dumped me after the prom without explanation. I recall leaving messages for him asking for the pictures, but never heard back from him. But it's a small world. Ten years later, I was working at a law firm, and my coworker turned out to be dating one of his friends. I think she had asked me to review his resume since he was looking for work in a law firm or something like that. I tell you the JA world is very small. The funny thing is that she told her boyfriend, and somehow his mom found out and made him give me the photos.

Talking about it being a small world, it also turns out that Tony who I didn't meet until 1995, was at the same high school and was actually at that prom. So, here's my prom photo above, Prom 1984. Now show me yours (if you dare)!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goodbye is not Sorro(w)

Bill & Al at Manzanar Pilgrimage in 2000

Bill & Al hand-making "No More Manzanars" political buttons in 2003

NaBloPoMo#20: I met Bill Sorro in 1997 at the Manzanar Pilgrimage. He and his buddy, the Filipino poet Al Robles, drove to Manzanar with a bunch of student activists from City College of San Francisco. That was the first year that we did the Manzanar After Dark (MAD-ness!) program and camp-out, which I created in order to make the pilgrimage events more relevant for young people, with an evening program that centered around intergenerational group discussions focusing on the camp experience and making connections to current day issues, and an open mike with spoken word and performances.

Bill and his group quickly got involved with the organizing of the MAD program and brought 2 vanloads new student activists each year. Over the 8 years that he came, he brought his sons, Guilio and Joaquin, who are among my most favorite spoken word artists/activists/teachers, as well as countless numbers of students eager to learn about the camp experience.

Tony and I immediately connected with Bill. He was one of those revolutionary activists from back in the day. He was involved in the tenants struggle fighting against the evictions of the I-Hotel in San Francisco in the 70s, and was a founder of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. He was passionate about sharing his stories about the I-Hotel (and more) with us and he was an amazing man who made us laugh and taught us about the people's history.

Here is a quote Bill sent me after 9/11 which is still displayed on my original geocities website from more than 5 years ago:

"We too, are trying to figure out our 'collective' moves and response in the wake of 911. Sure did change the course of World History real fast didn't it? Anyway... in spite of the ever present dangers of the country moving quickly to the far right. We got to keep on keepin on... Intensify the Struggle in all our areas of work... we have to dig deeper within ourselves not to let the false patriotism, jingoism and other ideological bullshit push aside all the important gains that we have made in our struggles for civil rights and civil liberties. Sound like 'old hat' don't it? But yes indeed... Freedom IS a Constant Struggle." - Bill Sorro

The last time I saw Bill was at the 2004 Manzanar Pilgrimage (I didn't go in 2005 because Maiya was only 2 months old at the time). I didn't know that it would be our last time seeing each other. He passed away this August in San Francisco. Bill will always be in my heart, especially on the last Saturday in April at Manzanar. My best to Bill's family--Rest in Peace...Out!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not fair! Not fair!

NaBloPoMo#19: I was at a Great Leap Board meeting tonight. When I got home, Tony told me that when he and his dad were sitting down to dinner, Tony turned off the TV and Maiya had a huge tantrum. She was watching Jay Jay (The Jet Plane cartoon). He said she went crazy and was yelling over and over, "Not fair! Not fair!" She flung herself into our bed and pulled up the covers.

Granted, she's the child of activists, and we have taken her to a few protests and peace marches and rallies, but we did not teach her that phrase. We've never heard it before (I'm guessing she learned it at childcare today), but Tony said she was using it at bath time as well. Anyways, he sat with her and worked things out. Tony said he wanted to honor her feelings, so they talked about it. When I came home, she was happily coloring pictures of Jay Jay that Tony downloaded from the web.

It's not easy being 2, people always telling you what to do. We're just trying to negotiate it as best as we can. Either that, or she was talking about the war in Iraq. Or Afganistan. Peace. Out.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Danika's Sweet 16

On Friday night, we had dinner at Billingsley's in West LA to celebrate niece Danika's 16th bday. Nice to see everyone--they're growing up so quickly both going to the same high school--third generation at Uni. Me & Maiya shared a spaghetti & chicken parmesian. The best part is always the salad with Green Goddess dressing. Happy Wishes to Danika!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Joy of Cupcakes

NaBloPoMo#17: One of the things I enjoy about parenting is the opportunity to create different ways of learning and fun for Maiya. The other day Maiya was asking to make cupcakes, so I downloaded a recipe from the internet, but was kind of intimidated by the fact that I lacked all of the ingredients, and decided that maybe I would try first getting a box of carrot cake mix from the store. Tonight, after dinner, we made cupcakes for the first time.

What fun we had! Maiya helped pour the mix, the water, the oil, watched me crack the eggs, and helped hold the mixer. She placed the paper cup liners in the pan one-by-one, and watched with anticipation as we poured the batter into the pan, counting each one as we went along. It's early math and developmentally appropriate. And the joy and excitement while watching the cupcakes rising in the oven.

Of course, just because it's joyous, doesn't mean it goes without tears and meltdowns. She's 2. While it was baking, I was doing the dishes and she was sitting on her stool watching them rise, and I was warning her to keep from coming too close. She wants it now. I tell her she has to wait 7 minutes until the timer buzzes, and 5 seconds later, she has turned back the timer so it buzzes. I snap at her, that now I don't know how much time before it's done.

Maiya starts turning the oven light on and off. Mama 's warning begins: Ok, Maiya that's enough. Either turn it on or turn it off, it's not a toy. Ok, that's it. If you touch it again, I'm taking you out of here. So she touches it again, looking at me and daring me to do something about it. So, I'm taking her out and she's going limp on me and crying. Tony comes and takes her outside for a few minutes to look at the moon.

Then after they're done, we're very excited. We wait 10 minutes for one to cool off to test. We go and look at it and I take the knife and cut it in 4 pieces. The girl goes nutso. No Mommy, Mine! No Cut. Meltdown! Screaming and crying dramatically, like her life is over. Tony comes in and takes it away from her because she is trying to grab more than one piece. I explain later that we are testing it and it is a family cupcake, and that later when they're cooled off, we are going to frost them and she can have one. I decide that we will take a shower or bath while we are waiting for them to cool off.

Later, we're showered and clean. I frost and give her a cupcake. She is so happy. This might be the happiest moment of her 2 3/4 years of life. Ok, may be a slight exaggeration, but she is thanking me and telling me how much she loves it and how good it is. The girl enjoys every bite. She has frosting on her forehead and eyebrows and crumbs all over her face. I'm tired, but happy, too. She won't be 2 much longer, and I'm sure that we're creating memories and starting a tradition of us spending quality time together.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Media & Iraqis

NaBloPoMo#16: Here's an important article written by our dear friend Shea in Detroit, who is part of the Boggs Center. It's very enlightening. I also spent the night at Kellie's house years ago when I was there for an arts project for Great Leap. She made the most delicious mung dal dish.

The Media and Iraqis
By Shea Howell
Michigan Citizen, Nov. 18-24, 2007

I’ve been working with a colleague at Oakland University, Dr. Kellie Hay, studying the mainstream media coverage of Arabs. We have been comparing the way the Palestinian people were described in the New York Times and Detroit Free Press before 911 with the way Iraqi people are portrayed today.

Much of what we found was both disturbing and predictable. Even though Palestinians and Iraqis are very different people, engaged in very different struggles, with very different histories, the media continues to use the same dehumanizing and limiting categories when describing Arabic people. The frames and labels used to depict Palestinians continue today in the portrayal of Iraqis.

As you read daily papers or listen to the news, you might want to consider some of what we found.
First, we found that when American troops are killed, their deaths are attributed to some one: Iraqi militants, al Qaeda or insurgents. By contrast, the deaths of Iraqis, when they are reported at all, simply happen. No one is ever identified as causing them. They are simply reported as facts, without any assignment of responsibility. A typical sentence is “173 Iraqis were found dead.”

Second, we found that Iraqis were rarely identified as individuals, acting on their own behalf. Rather they were almost always reported as mass groups: “mobs,” “crowds,” and “thousands.” These mobs were often described in terms associated with forces of nature rather than with human beings. The mobs “surged,” “flooded streets,” “erupted” and “ignited.”

In many cases, these mobs had their origin in mosques. Frequently, stories emphasized mosque doors opening and mobs flooding the streets. In fact, in the four months period we studied, mosques were either the object of violence, places that were attacked, shot at or bombed, not the source of violence. Curfews were justified to keep people away from mosques because they might “incite” people to violence.

This association between Islam and violence wove through all the stories we read even when, between the lines, it was clear that religious leaders were calling for peace, for calmness, and for respect across differences.
One of the most interesting images to emerge in the study was that of Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite leader most associated with the poorest people in Iraq, and usually noted for his anti-occupation stand. The mainstream press labeled him a “firebrand,” “rebellious,” and “anti American.”

In the incident we studied, the bombing of the Mosque of the Golden Dome in Samarra in 2006, al-Sadr and the Shiites were the people most aggrieved by this tragedy. After the bombing, al-Sadr joined with other religious leaders to appeal for calm. Yet, within three days press reports had shifted from acknowledging him as a victim to describing him as a cause of the violence that followed. There was never any attempt to allow Sadr to speak in his own words.

This obscuring of the role of religious leaders, especially al-Sadr, in responding to violence is one reason why the mainstream media has been unable to convey the role he is playing in the current decline in daily violence. At the end of August, al-Sadr declared a unilateral cease-fire. CNN reported on September 1, this “’declaration holds the potential to reduce criminal activity and help reunite Iraqis separated by ethno-sectarian violence and fear,’ the U.S. military said.”

Following long-standing patterns in reporting on the Arab world, we find no discussion in the mainstream press of the critical role Iraqis, especially al-Sadr, are playing in restoring daily life. By denying Iraqis a voice and vision, the “objective news” distorts our understanding of the possibilities for peace.

Peace. Out.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nice Room, New Moon (#15)

The other morning in bed in our room, Maiya sat up.
MG: Dis a nice room.
JK: This room, our bedroom?
MG: Yes.
JK: This is a nice room. What do you like about it?
MG: The righting (pointing at sunlight filtering thru the curtains).
JK: The lighting?
MG: Yes, and the red (flowered comforter cover), the white (lamp), blue (pointing at my robe on the hook on the wall), the brown (pointing at the dresser), and ABCs (pointing to the letters on the warning label on the bed safety rail).
JK: You know what else is in this room?
MG: Daddy (sleeping), Mommy and MG.
JK: Yes, dis a nice room.
Lately, Maiya has really been into the moon. When we're driving home from work, she will yell out when she sees the moon. But we hadn't seen the moon for more than a week. Yesterday when we were getting out of the car she was talking about the moon and I said, "Well it's been awhile, so I'm sure we'll see it soon." So last night, right before I left for class, Tony and Maiya were sitting on the front porch when she yelled out,
MG: Mommy! The moon! La luna!
TO: What kind of moon is it?
MG: Nana moon.
TO: She said it's a banana moon.
Eating a grilled Gruyere cheese sandwich for dinner.
MG: Mmm. Daddy this is good. Thank you for making this daddy.
TO: It was my pleasure, Maiya.
Possibly her first 9 word sentence.
JK: Do you want a snack?
MG: Yes, I want apple juice in choo-choo train cup.
And finally, in the car driving home tonight after going on and on about the moon:
MG: Mommy, I happy!!!
Every day with Maiya is a joy.

Oops Eeps

Oops Eeps. I totally forgot to blog yesterday. But I was swamped. The night before, I worked until midnight on a grant proposal and then ended up only getting 3 hours of sleep, with Maiya waking us up having peed in her sleep and having to change sheets at 6:30 am. I was off yesterday, made pancakes in the morning, had lunch with Auntie Keiko who was playing and watching TV with Maiya, and spent the whole day "trying" to study for a test and write a paper for my class and doing 3 loads of laundry. Maiya peed on the floor about 4 times yesterday, each time being about 6 inches away from the potty. Argh. And, I almost forgot to take my grant proposal to fedex yesterday-I remembered about 4pm, ran over to the dropoff, went to the market and came back at 5pm to finish my paper at 6pm, and ran over to class at 6:30 pm. Anyways, got home from class at 9:30 last night, put Maiya to sleep and fell asleep myself by 10pm. So, oops eeps. Can you tell I'm cranky this morning?

So we'll make this NaBloPoMo#14 for yesterday, and I'll do another tonight for #15.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Human Tetris

NaBloPoMo#13: Oh my gosh. You have to check out this Human Tetris video clip. It has circulated throughout our office. It is the funniest thing I have seen in years. I can't remember when I laughed out loud so hard. Those crazy Japanese guys.

Clear. Not clear. What a crackup.

Monday, November 12, 2007

3 for Kindergarteners

Kids of the World

Birds of the world
do you have enough to eat?

And fish of the world
is your water sweet?

Trees of the world
do you ever cry?

Rivers of the world
are you free to run by

Kids of the world
do you dream?

People of the world
do you dream?

Little Seed

Little seed, little seed.
What do you need?
Water please, water please.

Little Plant, little plant.
What do you need?
Sunshine please, sunshine please.

Little girl, little boy.
What do you need?
Water, sunshine and love please
and love please.

People of the World

People of the world
life is not a mystery.
We do the work
and we make the history.

Tony wrote these poems and others like it when he taught kindergarten back in the 90s. I still love them. And now we can share them with Maiya. NaBloPoMo #12.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lego is the new Elmo

NaBloPoMo#11: In October, Maiya became entranced with Legos. Where before she would watch Elmo for an hour, she can do Legos with intense concentration for hours. Above are some of her projects (and mine) over the month of October.

At first her favorite thing was the single piece squares, then she graduated to the doubles, then the L's, then started stacking towers, building windows and fences, taking over and adding flowers to my projects or taking the roof off my house and making her own garden. She also will play for 1 1/2 hours, and then take apart a project one piece at a time, tossing them back in the box, cleaning up and putting the box back in her room.

I think it's great creative play time and developing her fine motor skills, but also has elements of pre-math, early science, logic and sorting, and learning about how things go together. Ok, it's Sunday. I've got to do some reading for my class.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


Lindsey, Maiya & Lauren

NaBloPoMo#10: Maiya and her BBF Lauren were in the same group at childcare for two years and played together every day until Lauren went to preschool at the end of September. Every morning when I dropped of Maiya, Lauren would run up and the girls would give a big hug and run off together laughing and giggling. The girls missed each other so much so we scheduled a play date at a park in West Hollywood last month. We met again this morning and hung out together in the park.

Ok, I got to run. It's Saturday night and Tony's waiting for me to watch a DVD. He went and bought a new 40 inch LCD TV last night. He says that it means he will stop his endless searching and surfing for TVs. Time will tell!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Taiko=Love & ART=LIFE

NaBloPoMo#9: I love taiko. I always have. Tony and I call it the "music of our people." Tonight, Maiya & I were joined by my brother Darin and his family to see San Jose Taiko in concert at the JACCC. They came to my office after work, and we all walked down to TOT in Little Tokyo for dinner. At the restaurant, we saw friends from Bombu Taiko (I played with them as a beginning taiko player for about a year), Kenny Endo (who I met through Great Leap/Bindu Records years ago), and some activist folks from the community.

I have to say, the kids did pretty well during the concert. They all sat fairly quietly in our laps in the first half of the show. By the intermission, they were kind of antsy and needed to run around and play a bit, especially as it was running into bedtime. During the second half, Maiya & Kevin were standing up and dancing around, drumming a little in the air, so we spent a good part of the second half in the lobby. We did go back inside to see the finale and the encore, and by then the kids were running up and down the aisle.

Darin, Kevin, PJ, Saori & Kyle

After the show, we hung around awhile and got to catch up a little with PJ, the Artistic Director of San Jose Taiko. She is so much fun to watch because she looks like she is having so much fun performing. I met PJ years ago through Great Leap when she and Nobuko spent 5 years creating the Triangle Project-- I wrote a column called "My Journey with the Triangle Project" about the birthing of that incredible show.

I enjoyed spending time with Darin, Saori and the kids (they drove out from Ventura County on a Friday night), enjoyed seeing old friends from the taiko & arts community, and enjoyed sharing a night of API performing arts with Maiya. Even though I am really "into" early childhood education right now and I know I'm doing good work for low income families for a great nonprofit, I realize that I have missed working in the arts the last 3 years.

I miss the energy of producing a show, being part of artistic creation, being backstage just before and during a show, the stress of selling tickets, lining up sponsors and funders, writing press releases and doing PR (oh wait--the stress part I don't miss), greeting friends and supporters during a show, interacting with incredibly dedicated and creative community artists, and the relief of a successful production as it comes to an end.

Maybe it's time for me to start seeing more productions. I know that I'm looking for kid-friendly shows to see and look forward to giving Maiya more artistic experiences as she grows up, because ART=LIFE.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Read to Me LA

NaBloPoMo #8: A few weeks ago, LA City Mayor Villaraigosa came to the Echo Park Library to read to our LTSC Angelina Preschool kids as part of the Read to Me LA initiative and to mark the opening of the library's Adult Literacy center. It was pretty cool. We invited the parents from our Family Literacy program. It was exciting to the families to meet the Mayor. I like that he spoke to the families in Spanish first, then translated into English.

LTSC Angelina Preschool kids

"Read to your kids 20 minutes a day."

The Mayor with our Family Literacy Parents
and staff of Angelina Preschool

Fatima from our FamLit program interviewed
by the LA City News Channel

Since it was my day off, I came and brought Maiya to the library. It was fun for her to mix with our Angelina kids. Afterwards, Maiya & I stayed and read books, while she re-arranged all of the chairs in the children's section. Several photographers were taking pictures of me & Maiya reading, and we were filmed as well. I was hoping they didn't notice that Maiya had selected a Sponge Bob book, even though I was trying to read her "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." That night, I brought books to my Language Arts for the Early Childhood Education class.

It's funny how my work, my schoolwork, and Maiya's development all weaves together these days. The Read to Me LA's main thing is to read to your infant, toddler, or preschooler at least 20 minutes a day. Piece of cake.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Meez, virtual and real

NaBloPoMo #7: I'm really tired tonight. So I'm just going to put up my avatar that I made of myself awhile back on Meez. Yes, that's me, mama in the orange crocs, blue jeans and peasant style top and typical Asian woman hairstyle at a protest march. The only difference is that Maiya probably wouldn't be dressed in all pink.

Here's a real life picture of Maiya at the May Day Immigration Rally wearing her ACTIVIST t-shirt back on 5/1/06. The sign on her stroller says, "Another Baby for Immigrant Rights!"

And with that, I'm going to call it a night. See ya tomorrow. Peace. Out.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Two things I'm excited about...

NaBloPoMo #6: Jumping up and down tonight for two reasons:

1. After a four month hiatus, our main website, is back up on the web! Thank you Eugene, our wigglefish friend who has been hosting us for the last 5 years. When I saw our old homepage again today, I felt happy, comforted and home. Years of photos and 10 years of me and Tony's writings on there.

2. I just won my first eBay auction, 3 Pancake Molds! Yippee. I've been trying to bid on things for the past few weeks, but keep missing the deadlines, or being outbid in the last 5 seconds. I've been making blueberry, banana and chocolate chip pancakes for the family almost every weekend. Thanks to Sharon & Eddie for introducing me to pancake molds with their Halloween pancakes. I also recently bought a star-shaped cookie cutter, so we've been making "starfish" sandwiches as Maiya calls them. Here's my new toy!

Here's video from back in April of us making pancakes. It was when Maiya really/barely started talking.

So, who wants to come over to our house for pancakes this weekend?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Toddlers for Justice!

NaBloPoMo #5: Tonight after work, Tony, Maiya & I walked down to the Candlelight Vigil in Little Tokyo to support Lt. Ehren Watada for his courageous stand against the war in Iraq. Watada was the first commissioned officer to refuse to fight in Iraq on the basis that he believes that this is an immoral and illegal war. Unless the charges are dropped, he faces a court martial and 4-6 years in prison for his stand on November 9th.

I love bringing Maiya to these types of events. She is often the only child there, but she gets to participate in social justice activities, and see the examples of people who will come out on a chilly Monday night to proudly hold up a banner, raise a picket sign, hold a candle, honk their horns in support (to which she yells beep beep) and to see every day folks joining together for a common goal.

About 25-30 people came out tonight, including all of our usual friends and organizers from Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, as well as friends from my office. Afterwards, 11 of us went to dinner at Mr. Ramen. Here we are with Mary and Craig.

Toddlers for Justice! Peace. Out.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Choices for Children

NaBloPoMo #4: Because of the time change, we woke up early and went to get our cars washed at 8:00 this morning. Then we went to Teddy's for breakfast. Tony went to Costco to look at TVs (big time obsession of his) and gassed up my car. Maiya was a little cranky, but we colored a little and then went to take a nap. Again, I slept about 1 1/2 hours.

We got up, and took showers and then went to the Mid-City area for an Alfie Kohn Salon to talk about the book "Unconditional Parenting" with the WLA Attachment Parenting listserve group. I've been on the listserve for a year or so, but haven't made it to any of their Friday park days. It was pretty cool. There were about 9 couples, all kind of older parents like us, and there were about 10-12 kids ranging from almost 2 years to 3 1/2 years old, with the majority of kids right at Maiya's age, with parents living through the same kinds of issues that we deal with, like tantrums and trying to parent mindfully and unconditionally, without bribes or time outs, or too much praise and rewards for being "good."

The main idea of the book is that children respond to unconditional love, respect and the opportunity to make their own choices. Instead of trying to get kids to "behave," or "do as they're told," Alfie Kohn's book asks, "what do children need, and how can we meet those needs?" Then working with children rather than doing things to them. One of the things we talked about was alternatives to rewards and punishments.

1. Use the least intrusive strategy. - Be gentle and kind as possible, and avoid getting pulled into a struggle (which happens a lot with a two year old!). This works with passive resistance like when they ignore your requests to put away a toy and keeps on playing. Sometimes backing up and giving space, allows them to put away the toys when they're finished. I've tried this, and it often works.

2. Be honest. Acknowledge when you are asking them to do something that isn't much fun. Try to see things from their point of view.

3. Explain the rationale. "Because I said so" is not a reason. So explaining why we need or want the child to do something. "Let's get in the car because Daddy made dinner for us and is waiting for us at home."

4. Turn it into a game. The example in this book is about brushing teeth by turning the toothbrush into an airplane... I think I need to be more creative to make this one work.

5. Set an example. Adults don't have to follow the same rules as kids, but many should. If we're asking kids to clean up after themselves, we should too. It's easier to get kids to do something that they see us modeling.

6. Give them as much choice as possible.

I liked these 2 rules when you get big tantrums:

#1: If you're in public, ignore everyone around you. The more worried you are abou how other people are viewing your parenting skills, the greater change of you responding with too much control and too little patience.

#2: Imagine how this is from the child's point of view. The child may be afraid of their own rage and being out of control. Focu on providing comfort and using minimum control to make sure that people aren't in danger. Let the tantrum play itself out, and then later address the underlying causes.

Ok, enough parenting stuff for today. I'll close with a little plug about a Candelight Vigil for tomorrow night to support Lt. Ehren Watada for his opposition to the War in Iraq. (First & Alameda in Little Tokyo Monday, 11/5 at 5:30 pm). Peace. Out.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pumped Up

NaBloPoMo #3: Today we celebrated my nephew Kyle's 5th Birthday at Pump it Up, it was our first time there. Here is Kyle with his brother Kevin.

Maiya didn't go in the bouncer or on the inflatable slides, but she did have a blast running around and watching her cousins come down the big slides. Afterwards, it was pizza, junk food and cake. Today, her favorite person was her cousin Kaylee. They've spent 2 1/2 years aware of each other but not really playing together, but today it was "Kaylee, Kaylee, Kaylee." So cute!

So in addition to celebrating Kyle's birthday, we went to my mom & dad's house afterwards to also celebrate me and my brother Darin's birthdays, but mostly just to hang out. We ate so much crap today, and the kids were pretty pumped up all day. None of the 5 cousins had naps today and it was showing by 5 pm. Anyways, it was great fun.

* As a f/up to yesterday's post, the only thing I accomplished on my very ambitious To Do List was 2 loads of laundry. But, I made lunch for me & Maiya, got in a good 1 1/2 hour nap, cleaned the kitchen, danced around the living room and listened to kiddie music all afternoon. During/after dinner, and at 20 minutes to 7pm, we decided to go see a 7pm movie a few blocks from our house, and took Maiya to see The Bee Movie, the animated movie with Jerry Seinfeld. Maiya enjoyed it a lot, and it was my first time taking her to a movie (she & Tony went to see Ratatouille a few months ago). Afterwards we hung out in the bookstore and read Dr. Seuss books and I got an ice blended from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Friday, November 02, 2007


NaBloPoMo #2: Today I am 43 (years). Maiya is 33 (months). If I live to be 90, then I am not even halfway through my life. Anyways, I'm kind of liking the idea of blogging every day. I have lots of things to say. Today I took my birthday holiday off from work. Maiya loves being home. She's watching "Chicken Little" for the umteenth time and watched the entire H.R. Puf N Stuf DVD this morning while I was blogsurfing. I know, I know. Bad Mama.

Things I Should Do Today:
  • Trader Joe's (no food in house)
  • Laundry (it's already in the machine)
  • Car Wash (it's bcoming a hazard since I can't hardly see out the back window it's so dirty)
  • Get gas (before we run out)
  • Lulu's Natural Juice Fountain (I promised to take Maiya Wednesday but she fell asleep in the car so I went home and cut her nails instead)
  • Study for my class (ha ha ha ha ha! No!)
  • Go to the library (need to get Concept books for my next Book Bring assignment)
  • Read "Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason" (we're going to an Alfie Kohn Salon on Sunday with the West LA Attachment Parenting group)
  • Costco (haven't printed photos since August)
  • Workout at the Y (check. Went last night!)
  • Go to Korean Spa (I usually try to go during my birthday week)
  • Order San Jose Taiko concert tickets for my Darin's bday present (meant to go to the box office but forgot)
  • Go to Lakeshore (to buy supplies for our infant/toddler program)
Well, I'll be lucky if I make it to Trader Joe's, dance with Maiya and finish a few loads of laundry. We're going to see Mike & Laura and the kids tonight, take our first trip to Pump it Up for my nephew Kyle's bday tomorrow (hope Maiya changes her mind on the socks required issue or she can't join in). Now Maiya is walking around with my new iPod Nano watching Sesame Street. Oh remind me to blog about Mother's Club-went to see their new all eco-green Family Learning Center in Pasadena - it was awesome and the possibilities are mind-boggling. Life is good. Two down, 28 days to go.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Madness 07

NaBloPoMo 11/1: Halloween. It's never been one of my favorite holidays. I'm not a big costume person. I don't decorate the house. We wanted to go to the Tanaka Farms organic pumpkin patch, but never made it. I thought about buying a pumpkin, but never got to the market this weekend. The last two years I threw together costumes for Maiya on Halloween night.

Halloween 2005 - Sushi Chef
Halloween 2006 - Butterfly

As a parent/feminist trying to raise a healthy child, I am wary of Halloween. Don't get me started on the early sexualization of girls with wench, French maid and seductive witch costumes. (See Newsweek article Eye Candy.) Then there's the princess costumes and the whole corporatization and Disney or other corporate or movie-tie-in characters. I'm not into the hero-type police "man," Superman, Spiderman costumes for boys either. Yesterday I saw two boys with police officer costumes and plastic guns in holsters. Now that's scary.

Then there's the issue of Maiya, who lately often refuses to wear pants, socks, shoes, jackets, long-sleeves, etc. It's been all about the dresses or skirts and purple Crocs only--so I had been stressing about her willingness to wear a costume. Then there's the candy thing--Maiya has hardly ever had any, and it's a slippery slope that we don't really want to slide into the junky food.

That said, I was kind of nervous about this Halloween and thought we might just skip the whole Trick-or-Treating thing this year since Maiya was saying that she didn't want to wear a costume. This morning, we went to our childcare program so that I could help get the toddlers organized to go trick or treating (non-candy snacks--crackers and cookies mostly) in our office. Here is Tomie the Cat, and the kids gathering in anticipation and chaos.Maiya was excited to go to the office and take her plastic pumpkin "basket" as she called it, but she was clingly and didn't want to wear her Ladybug costume (from Evelyn & Naomi). So she went with me as I took pictures of all the kids. I was a little sad for her since she looked a little overwhelmed and the kids were having so much fun.

Tonight I had class, but after checking in with Maiya who was cranky all afternoon, we made plans for her to help daddy pass out candy. I told her what to expect and just before I left she was starting to get excited about people coming over and even put on the costume.

When I got home from class early, Tony & Maiya weren't home so I went out to look for them. I found them across the street. Maiya was wearing her costume AND a jacket. I was thrilled!

At our neighbor Joe & Karen's house
At our neighbor Sofia's house
Ladybug Ladybug, Fly Away Home