Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer of Obon (WLA)

The Summer of Obon continues... here we are last Saturday night at the WLA Obon. From what I understand, it has really grown a lot in the last few years. It was sooo crowded. Long lines, good food, hard to find a place to sit (we had to take turns sharing 3 chairs), and tight spaces for walking, especially during the taiko performance. What I liked about their taiko group is that it was a mix of young people, but seemed like a lot of seniors, the most I've ever seen at once. We went with Scott, Emily & Tula. Note Maiya sporting her new jinbei, a gift from Grandma Machi (check back to the pix from the Nishi Obon a few weeks ago when we discovered Maiya's one size fits all happi coat from when she was a baby no longer fits).

Welcome to WLA Obon!
A little bit of shave ice...
Waiting in line for the bouncy machine...
Waiting in line for Blueberry Imagawayaki...
A little bit of bon odori...
A little bit of love...
Walking back to the car... we really enjoyed ourselves!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Goofing Around at Venice Obon

It seems it's been a long time since we went to the Venice Obon, having been to 2 more this past weekend. We went with Mike, Laura, Amani & Leela.

THE FOOD: We were pretty hungry. Most of the food was ok to me, although our friend Scott who grew up there said that yeah, the snow cones are a problem (hard ice), but that they have the best teriyaki chicken anywhere. And pretty much everyone tells me not to get the chili rice anywhere since it's canned (although let me know if you know of one that is homemade and I'm there), but it's obon, and that's what I do, eat chili rice. And the won tons were pretty tasty, but needed more salt. Tony said that the udon was really tasty. Maiya had a hot dog, and we both had corn.

THE GAMES: For Maiya these days, it's ALL about the snowcones and the game prizes. She actually gets mad if it's a game you actually have to win, much preferring the "everybody wins something" games. Although I'm going to start checking in advance if the prize in those games are candy. Anyways, right off the bat she won this rainbow slinky, but of course you know they had to stretch it, fight over it and get it all twisted up before the night was even over.

THE DANCING: We did enjoy the dancing for a bit. Lily, Kent, Lisa, Kai, Miya, Julie & Matt were there, watching the dancing, camped out with their blanket, cooler and beach chairs. We joined in the Tokyo Ondo (I think that's what it's called.) For once I felt like I was able to keep up, and not feel like an utter fool. For me, it's good to watch the good, casual dancers. Sometimes it's easier to follow and less demoralizing to follow the non-professionals in happi coats and t-shirts, rather than the graceful ones in kimonos. Maiya and Amani were running around and getting in the dancers' ways, so I had to multi-task trying to keep up, and also shepherding them back into the right line. After one dance, it was time to get the kiddies home.

Ok, getting late. Time to go.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where did my $72 go?

On Sunday, when I left my house, I had $72 in cash with me. When I returned home, my little change purse was empty. I couldn't believe where the money went. So, I mentally went through my day and made a list, to see if I could account for the $72. I did, and here it is.

Farmer's Market (15 minutes, $28)
$11.00 - 3 baskets of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
$2.60 - bundle of grapes
$2.40 - 2 grapefruits
$12.00 - 2 bouquets of gerbera flowers (gift)

Higashi Obon (2 hours, $44)
$3 somen
$3 rainbow snow cone for Maiya
$3 blue raspberry/mango snowcone for me
$2 cupcake for Maiya
$5 mixed rice takeout
$4 Farmer's market (bag of zucchini, box of strawberries, cantaloupe)
$0 White Elephant sale
$7 teriyaki chicken plate
$3 games
$4 raffle tickets
$10 Obon tshirt for Maiya

Monday, July 28, 2008

My Name is...

Ok, please indulge me for a proud parent moment that I have to share. Maiya wrote her name, for the first time last week!

Tony's dad has been in the hospital, so we had asked her if she wanted to make Grandpa L. a drawing. She did, on a small piece of paper, and afterwards she turned it over and was busy at work. She looked up and said, "I am writing my name." Huh? Both Tony and I peered over to look at what she was doing and she had written a teeny tiny little perfect M. "Ohhhh!!" we said as we looked at each other with our eyes big with surprise. I knew she could do an M, and I have seen her do T's and P's, but until now, to our knowledge, she has only ever traced her name at preschool. And so we sat back and waited quietly and patiently for the rest, without our help. One letter at a time, and with as much concentration, she looked up when she finished and said, "Maiya. M. a. Biiig Y. a."

Yes, my sweet little big girl, growing up way too fast. You wrote your name.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cupcake Crayons - Part 2

Although no one seemed to be all that interested in this project, especially Tony, here it is, right before all the broken crayon pieces went into the oven.

Here they are, after melting in the oven. They look a little bit like Reese's Peanut Butter cups, especially the brown one.

Here is MG, drawing with her new crayons. They were kind of cool. Because of their width, they go on in big strokes, or with changing colors, if you use the sharp sides of the edges. In a way, they look a little like pastels, because they tend to cover a bigger surface.

MG wanted everyone to know her favorites were the red ones.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Funola with Crayola - Part 1

Can you tell what we're doing? Just another green recycling crafty project, saving some broken down used crayons from the landfill!

We started a few weeks ago on my day off. Some people wonder how I find the time to blog, much less spend a morning with Maiya peeling the wrappers off of broken crayons. Believe me, it was very time-consuming, and no less than 3 baskets of unfolded laundry sat on the living room floor, as well as a sink overflowing with dishes. It's really all about priority. I love busy, obsessive, mindless work.

Stay tuned for photos of the finished product!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nishi Obon weekend

This year was me and Maiya's first time to the Nishi Obon. Tony went years ago to help set up when he worked at A3M. Maiya's preschool class sang some songs and the older girls did some very cute odori dancing on the entertainment stage. Tony and Uncle Bill went to Far East Cafe earlier for lunch, and then Maiya and I stopped at JANM for about 10 minutes and saw as she calls him "Manju Man" do a quick demo and then we got to decorate a kiddie apron for Maiya. We got to Nishi, just in time, the kids were already on stage taking pictures.

In addition to Uncle Bill, Grandma Machi and Grandpa Walt also came to see Maiya's class sing. Here she is finagling Grandma Machi into another "everyone wins" game that I had already done with her. We also went on Sunday, as I took a shift at the Snow Cone booth. From now on, whenever I buy snow cones, I will try to have exact change ready, and know my order when my turn comes, especially when there is a long line of people waiting for their shave ice.

See my cross-posting about the Obon on the Little Tokyo blog.

Breakfast @ Tony's

We've enjoyed doing brunches at our house from time-to-time. Tony cooks a mean breakfast, and when I say mean, I mean, yummy. Here's another recent brunch at our house with Uncle Bill, my parents, and my brother Darin's family. My mom brings her famous Fruit Platter, which everyone loves.

Here's a cute picture of Maiya and cousin Kevin (one month apart), sharing the same seat and enjoying the same food, except hours later, for a late lunch of leftovers. Trying to catch up on the back blog... more to do, but we're getting there.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fun with Yogurt Cups

When Maiya was a baby, I started saving yogurt cups, choosing to re-use, before recycling them. Before long, we had a bunch of them. They provided her with hours of fun. We also use them in the bathtub every night. Here's Maiya at 20 months with pyramid yogurt cups.

In 2007, cousin Kieth (5) is measuring the height of the stacked cups with Maiya (2 1/2) and cousin Kyle's (4) help.

A few weeks ago, we tried lining them up along the pattern of our living room rug while watching "Be Kind, Rewind," which was a pretty great movie, by the way.

Then, her anal mother decided to sort them by type, partly because I'm into stupid, meaningless, time-wasting tasks, and also I wanted to see what yogurt flavors are our family's favorites. In my defense, I'm also developing Maiya's "emerging math" skills, which includes sorting, classifying and stacking.

Anyways, in first place was blueberry, followed by peach, then strawberry, vanilla bean, raspberry, lemon, passion fruit, lime, cherry and finally, maple. I was surprised because there is only 1 cherry, and cherry is one of Tony's favorite flavors. But he explained it's because Trader Joe's doesn't carry cherry, and we usually get our yogurt at Trader Joe's.

Here we are doing our pyramid stack. Whenever Kyle comes over, he asks to play with the yogurt cups. This little video is funny because after they fell, my brother Darin said something about Maiya knocking over the cups, but when we viewed the video, it turned out that he was actually the last one to touch them.

Ok, well it's getting late. I don't know what the hell I am doing up writing about yogurt cups at 1 am.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Backblogging the 4th

Our friends Mike, Laura, Amani & Leela came over on the 4th of July. We ate BBQ turkey, potato salad, and a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember (that's what happens when you are 2 weeks behind on the blog).

MG & Amani hanging out in her room and talking
Rub a dub dub, 3 kids in a tub
Walking to the Marina for fireworks
Watching fireworks in our PJs!

It was a warmer night than we had thought, and we walked about a mile I'm guessing. It was long walk, especially considering it was so late at night. By the time we got home, it was 10pm. Now, every few days, Maiya says that she wants to go see fireworks with Amani for "forf July."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I've written a few blog entries the past few days on the Little Tokyo Blog. Check 'em out!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Swimming and Nails

With new friends, K and L

Nothing says summer more, than watching little kids in their first swimming class. The photo above is Maiya, a few weeks ago at her first swim class at the Y. She is in Pike's, the beginner's class for 3-5 year olds. And the difference is, that we are not in the pool with her anymore, instead, we are outside the pool area watching with all the other parents in 2 rows of folding chairs. I had been taking Maiya swimming twice a week for the weeks before the class, to get her comfortable in the water. She loves swimming, and it's amazing she doesn't swallow more water because she is always laughing and smiling and shrieking with her mouth wide open when swimming. I was amazed at her fearlessness jumping in the water like a flying squirrel, and watching her paddle by herself across the shallow end of the pool and back with the floaties on.

A few minutes before she started crying in the pool

Anyways, she did great the first 2 weeks of class. But then, her little pinky fingernail came off in an unrelated injury last week, and it has put a bit of a damper on her swimming at class, hanging in the wading pool at preschool, taking baths/showers, washing hands. Her swim teacher thought it might be stinging because of the chlorine. Anyways, since Dr. C cut the remainder of her fingernail off last Friday, we decided to take today off from swim class since her teacher is out this week, and because she seems a little bit freaked out by water these days, but I'm hoping that she will be ok by Wednesday, because there's only a few weeks left.

Being very brave with Dr. C.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Planting our Garden 2008

Yay, we finally planted a little garden! Inspired by our work with community gardening in Detroit for many summers, I planted a small vegetable garden (2 feet x 8 feet) in our backyard for several seasons. But I would spend about an hour a day in the backyard. It just got so hard to keep up for me with my busy life, so I eventually stopped gardening, always intending to come back to it.

By composting and burying my kitchen scraps, I was able to make my hard-packed soil nice enough to even grow things I hadn't planted, like wild cantaloupe, onions, etc. In those summers I grew gorgeous tomatoes, foot-long zucchinis (at right circa 2003), cucumbers, nasubi, peppers, lettuce, etc.

Our beautifully hand-tilled soil had turned back into hard rock dirt over the years and I haven't gardened since. But, this year Tony picked up some organic tomato and zucchini plants at the Farmer's Market, and we picked up a free shiso plant at the Venice Carnival, so I thought I would try container gardening this year. I thought that might make it fun for Maiya too. Some of our rose bushes died over the last few years, so I thought I would move the garden to a sunnier place in the yard.

I know it's a little late in the year to start, but we will see what happens. I don't know how stuff grows in containers, but we will see. We had been throwing our kitchen scraps in these containers, so it was amazing to turn over the dirt and find nice compost at the bottom.
And finally, here is Maiya with our first strawberries of the year. I had planted some annual strawberry plants about 6-7 years ago under our Sago Palm, and surprisingly, with a little water, they still come back each year. Maiya has fun looking for them and sharing them with friends.

If you have any tips for container gardening, let me know. I'll need all the help I can get.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Seeing Friends at Senshin Obon

The Senshin Obon is one of my favorites because we see so many friends. People from the community, friends we went to Cuba with, friends, artists and activists that we like to hang around with. This first photo is a collection of those friends.

Here is Maiya with Asiyah, Nobuko's granddaughter, visiting for the summer from Michigan. She was a pretty good dancer! I was inspired to find someone to teach Maiya the dances, and I think I'd like to finally learn myself.

It was also funny because Maiya is now going to events and people who I don't know, seem to know her! These young college-age type folks said, "Hi Maiya!" It turns out that they're active in J-town Voice! and have seen her at meetings when she's gone with Tony. She also saw Ms. Susan and Ms. Elaine, teachers from her preschool, dancing in yukata and kimono, and she was very happy/surprised to see them. Here she is, playing on the ground with Sam (son of friends Rich & Joyce), who is 1 month older than her, and who we see every year at Obon.

I do love this photo. They were dancing together and having a great time.

Next week will be the Nishi Obon... Maiya will be singing onstage on Saturday, and I'll be working the Snow Cone booth for the preschool on Sunday.

P.S. What do you think about our new look? Please let us know! We may be tweaking some more...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Before & After

So, last Saturday afternoon I said to Maiya on a whim, "Hey shall we go get our hair cut today?" To my surprise she said, "Sure!" I have been asking her every now and then for the last year and the answer was always no. But my hair was beginning to drive me crazy so I thought, "Let's go get 'mother-daughter' haircuts." So, I grabbed my wallet and we walked down the street to Fantastic Sams. About 20 minutes after we got there, we were finished.

One thing that I need to remember next time are to make sure to tell the ladies in advance that we don't want a lollipop for the child as a treat for being "good." We don't give treats, especially sugar ones, as a reward for behavior. I didn't expect her to get upset because we waited until she was ready to make the decision to go herself, but it WAS her FIRST haircut (besides the 2 times I've cut her bangs--once a few weeks ago, and once about 3-4 months ago). Anyways, she was very fine, a little shy, but no problems with a strange lady coming towards her face with scissors. She looked like she enjoyed sitting next to me and having them give her special attention.

So, here's Maiya's before and after pictures:
The "After" pictures are without a shampoo, so we both look a little choppy. Also, a funny thing is that most people don't notice my haircut (except for people at work who see me every day), but practically everyone notices Maiya's. They said something about it being her baby hair. So now, I'm wondering if evening out the 2 layers (outside long, inside short), will help it to grow faster and thicker. Anyways, here's Mommy's before & after pictures, the "behind" shots were taken by Maiya herself:

By the way, I just noticed that we haven't had any comments for almost 2 months. Is anyone out there reading? Or is everyone on summer vacation or just checked out? Ok, over and out. Peace, y'all.