Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama: Surreal tonight

Obama's speech tonight in Denver was incredible. It really blew me away. On the 45th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. The crowd in the stadium was unbelievable and amazing. If you didn't see or hear it, I've linked the text of the speech above.

"Change happens because the American people demand it – because they rise up and insist on new ideas and new leadership, a new politics for a new time."

Peace. Out. Vote.

Pix @ the Beach

Some pictures from Grandma Machi's camera last week...

Monday, August 25, 2008

10 Days Fly By

Well, it's the last night of my 10 day vacation. Unfortunately, we weren't able to go anywhere this year for vacation, but I did manage to make it to the gym 5 times (yay!) and me and Maiya got to put on our bathing suits 7 times in the last week.

Saturday: Celebrated Cousin Tina's Bday at Uncle Bill's

Sunday: Family BBQ for Ryoko at my mom's

Monday: Beach day with my mom, Ryoko, Gayle, Kieth and Kaylee

Tuesday: Maiya and I took the bus to Santa Monica Pier with my mom, Ryoko, Gayle, plus Auntie Keiko and then had lunch on 3rd Street Promenade

Wednesday: Swim class

Thursday: Me and Maiya went to the local water park, "Mushroom Pool" as Maiya calls it

Friday: Tony, Maiya and I did a picnic in the park where Tony and I had our wedding celebration on our 10th wedding anniversary.

Saturday: Maiya's preschool 25th anniversary reunion BBQ and family swim time. Visit from Cousins Marlene and Bob.

Sunday: Went to Farmer's Market and spent the day at Tony's dad's house in the mountains

Today: This morning, I made cinnamon waffles with berries and we tried to go to the water park with Mike and Amani this afternoon but it was closed, so we hung out in Uncle Bill's backyard with the water hose and ate PB&J sandwiches and frutas all afternoon, and then Tony came later and brought Tommy's.

I haven't blogged about this much, but it's been a difficult time for Tony's family. His dad has been in and out of the hospital several times this summer. We've been spending time just about every day at Uncle Bill's house, and Tony has been busy taking his dad to doctor's visits, dialysis and other appointments every day.

In the meantime, life goes on. Janet had her baby Saturday (yay!), Maiya needs a nap, we need to eat, do laundry, clean the house, buy audio equipment (Tony), blog (me). The Olympics are over, and now it's Obama's turn. I go back to work tomorrow and we'll continue as we've been going along this summer, one day at a time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rating My Space

Have you seen the website/new HGTV show RateMySpace? We've been addicted to HGTV for the last few years, not easy since we don't have cable, but we've been spending a lot of time at Uncle Bill's house lately. I discovered the website one night, and actually stayed up until 4 or 5 am, putting up our recent kitchen renovation. I was amazed to see like 1,800 people actually looked at our kitchen and made comments on it.

I put up our unfinished living room/dining room on the website, asking for suggestions to deal with layout, lighting and storage issues of our living room/dining room. You can find me under JenniK. If you like, please rate our living room/dining room, we are open to any suggestions.

Partially finished living room/dining room

Totally revamped tiny 1941 kitchen

Friday, August 22, 2008

Celebratin' the Decade

I can't hardly believe it, but 10 years have passed since Tony and I got married! I made this little video for our anniversary 2 years ago, but I thought I'd share it again now since it shows our unique wedding.

We had a small wedding on 8/22/98, just us, with my best friend Maria, who brought us a flower, her husband Eduardo who took pictures, and their daughter Hope. Then the next day, on 8/23/98, we had our Feast of Celebration potluck picnic, with about 200 friends, artists, activists, and family.

Our budget was about $2,200, which included the rings, and my dress, which was $37. Instead of wedding presents like china or silver, our friends helped organize the folding of 1,000 origami paper cranes, and also brought things like a helium tank, easy-up tents, catering warming trays, arts and crafts supplies, that added to our celebration. I'll end this post with a poem Tony wrote way back when.

Two Lovers
two lovers in love
two birds building a nest in a grapefruit tree
two dancers doing the Tanko Bushi
two hands raising a red banner
two eyes dreaming of a new day
two wheels on the J-town Express
two fists pounding out their history
two feet taking each other down First Street
two arms holding up the sky
two grains of rice in a Feast of Resistance
two lips--one kiss

Happy Ten Years Tony O, I love you, I love you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Family Get Together

Maiya's 3rd cousin Ryoko from Japan, is going to be here in California for a year of college, and is staying with my mom for a week. So my mom hosted a mini-family reunion get together to meet Ryoko on Sunday. We met her dad and other relatives on my Grandpa's side of the family when we went to Japan on a family trip back in 1992 or thereabouts.
. Shout hooray!
Hug a cousin!
Rick, Taka, Kumi, Machi, Walt
Trying to get it together for a group photo with 9 kiddies.

Of course, my camera went off before we all got it together. It's the only one I have, so I'll share it. Me and Maiya met my family and Ryoko at the beach and the Santa Monica Pier this week, so I'll get those photos off my camera and share them too, so stay tuned.

Michelle Reads Olivia!

Here's an AP Photo of Michelle Obama reading "Olivia," one of Maiya's favorite books!

Here's an article about her. I'd be so happy to see her family in the White House.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How does your garden grow?

It's been like a month and a half since we planted our container garden. Two tomato, cucumber, zucchini, shiso and basil plants. It's going ok. The two tomato plants started off well, then kind of stopped growing once the tomatoes blossomed, the first one is almost ready. We had one very large zucchini about 3 weeks ago, and it's just now starting to grow some more. Same with the cucumber plant, only 1 has grown but no flowers on the way.

Watering the tomatoes

What's been doing beautifully is our strawberries. We're collecting 10-20 every day or two.

Full basket of strawberries

The lone cucumber

Gassed up @ $34

Finally broke below the $4 mark for gas on Saturday. Paid $34 to fill the Honda. Better than the $90 it was costing for the Lexus.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

at the car wash, yeah...

So, my vacation started on Saturday. Unfortunately, my plans to take a trip didn't work out, but on my first day off, I woke up early, left for the gym at 8:30, did 14 laps at the Y, then worked out at the gym for over an hour. Then, I stopped at the bagel store, spent $9 on bagels and cream cheese and got home by 10:30 am. I was asking Tony to join us and have a family car wash day, but he decided to take a nap, so me and Maiya went out to wash the cars. First the Honda...

Then the Lexus,
We had a lot of fun. This is part of what I just love about summer. Being outside, getting all wet, exercising my arms, and enjoying the day with Maiya. Later that day, Tony was outside and our neighbor told him that he had seen "the girls" washing the cars. Then he said to Tony, "You're doing something right."

Anyways, I figure that I saved $28. The money I saved on car washes will buy me bagels at least 2 more times.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Keiko @ 70

Another yummy brunch... this time for Auntie Keiko's 70th bday celebration last weekend.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

5 Princesses

Back before I had children, I planned that I was going to make it a priority not to dress my baby in pink or blue. A son would be exposed to dolls and a daughter to trucks. That works fine when your baby just lies there, allows you to pick out its clothes and toys and friends and experiences. But then, they start to grow up and have their own ideas and interests. And so, it is, that I find myself with a 3 1/2 year old in preschool, who when given free choice play time, will almost always go to the house area, put on a fuffy dress and be a "princess." But I haven't given in to it yet. While you won't find a princess dress or tiara in my house, I'm not going to deny her being a part of it either.

So, last week when my good friend Mary came to visit with her 2 girls, and then we went over to our friends Steve and Maile's house for dinner to join their 2 girls, it was a powder puff of an evening. Here we are with 5 little girls between 3 & 7 years old, and a flurry of dresses, dancing around and happy squealing. And even so, I know that we will raise strong, confident, smart, sensitive and bright young women in the years to come.

Eve, Grace, Marissa, Lauren and Maiya

NCRR in Nisei Week Parade!

We can't be there, but I wanted to share because it's very exciting:

The Nikkei for Civil Right and Redress(NCRR) is being honored at this year's Nisei Week for their years of commitment to redress and reparations and the battle for civil rights in this country. They are forming an NCRR contingent in the Nisei Week parade to carry these banners:

Home is Little Tokyo!
Peace & Justice
Civil Liberties for All
Stand Up for Justice!
Redress for Japanese Latin Americans
Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress

The Nisei Week parade starts at 5:00 on Sunday, August 17th and winds through the heart of Little Tokyo.

Join the celebration of our community and the enduring spirit of peace and social justice.

Pictures to follow...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buckwheat Honey Blueberry Corn Muffins

I've been baking a lot the last year with Maiya, but mostly stuff from a box. But as I've said before, I don't cook, and something always goes wrong when I try to guess about recipes. Recently she started getting out her cooking/baking stuff when she helps me bake stuff. So here's what happened last week on my day off:

Opened box of blueberry muffin mix.
Dumped it in.
Poured a cup of milk.
Took a phone call.
Came back.
"Mommy, look i poured the milk in by myself!"
"Oh! Let me take a look."
Sure is watery looking.
Check box.
Oh! Supposed to be 1/4 cup milk, not 1 cup.
Hmm. How to fix. How to fix.
Oh! Get another box, double the batch.
That might help.
Grab box from pantry.

Open it. Maiya pours it in.
Hmm, why is it yellow?
Check box, it's cornbread mix, not blueberry!

Ok, well, Maiya stirs with her little whisk.
See what happens.
Hmm, still pretty thin.
Check cupboard, no more box mixes, but buckwheat pancake mix.
Hell, pour some in.
Add honey. Add some frozen blueberries.
Uh oh. One box says 10-12 minutes, the other says 13-15 minutes.
What to do. What to do.
Setting timer. Maiya has a fit, wants to do it herself.
We fight over the timer, it accidentally gets set at 15 minutes.
15 minutes later, a
ck again! I meant to set it at 10!
Oops they are browned on top, and burned on the bottom.
And instead of 5-6 muffins, we have 16 big ones and 12 small ones.
So we eat the tops and toss the bottoms.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Letty & Paul's Dodgerversary

Last Sunday we went to celebrate Letty and Paul's 2nd anniversary at a Dodger game! See their wedding reception at Dodger Stadium Club back in 2006. It was Maiya's first time to see a Dodger game, and my first time in over 13 years. We got to see Manny Ramirez, the new guy, hit a pretty amazing homerun on his 2nd day with the Dodgers winning 9-3. Overall, it was a very fun game, lots of excitement and we enjoyed the Dodger dogs, frozen lemonade and hanging out with Letty, Paul and their family and friends.

The Happy Couple!Sharing snacks and water with Daddy
Hector, Erika, Mr. & Mrs. Ayala watch the game
Grateful to be on the shady side of the reserve section
Jenni & Maiya posing a little
It's time to go home now!

Happy A-Day to Letty & Paul and thanks for inviting us to your celebration!

Twice around the block

In addition to going to the Dodger game last Sunday afternoon, we had an even busier evening. After the Dodger game, we went to Devin's 3rd bday party at the airport park for dinner. Maiya had an angry meltdown because we had to leave just before the cake part, and she was screaming about the injustice of having to leave without the cake. So, to somewhat calm her down before leaving her with Uncle Bill all evening, Tony took her for a ride on their new vintage bike. She was so happy, I dare you to find the dried saltiness around her red puffy eyes.

After the bike ride, we left her with Uncle Bill, who had rented a Dora DVD for her. That kept her going for 6 hours while we went out to the Ford Amphitheater for the Tia Chucha Cultural Center fundraiser. Nobuko performed, as well as Charles Wright (Express Yourself), and we also got to see Olmeca and Upground. It was a pretty awesome night of performances. I think my favorite was Upground, a bunch of young guys from East Los, as they called it. I think someone told me that they all went to Roosevelt, where my mom went to high school in Boyle Heights. When we got back at 11:30 pm, Maiya and Uncle Bill were on the couch, still watching Dora, for the 3rd time that night. Say "Adios, Dora!"

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Last Obon in Gardena

Whew! We made it through Obon season. Including the Venice Community Center Carnival and counting Nishi's 2 days twice, we ended up going to obon 8 times this summer. Tony had suggested that we go to them all, but I think 8 is enough to make an impression on a 3 1/2 year old that these represent part of our JA culture, and part of our K-O family tradition to dance a little, play some games, and eat a lot.

Gardena was very crowded with very long lines. But, the booths were pretty efficient, and the long lines moved surprisingly fast. We got the teriyaki chicken bowl, which was small, but very good. Snow cones were just ok. Corn was pretty good. Tony enjoyed the beef, and Grandpa Larry got the sushi. For once, I didn't get chili and rice. I did stand in the longest line, which went out to the street, and that was the Dango booth, but I ran into an old friend Glenn, so catching up with him made the line go faster. Gardena was different in that it was in an actual residential neighborhood, and there were tons of families with babys and small children. No stage, but it was probably the longest street for dancing that we've seen and a huge outdoor bingo.

As I mentioned before, I do have a new appreciation for all the volunteer time that goes into running these events. I saw Gail, who we worked with on the Aloha Mural 10 years ago, working at 3 different food booths, Venice Carnival, Venice Buddhist Church, and West LA obon. That's some extreme dedication. And, from what I can see, there is enough young energy to continue obons into the future. Even for me, who's been going to obons for 15 years, I finally took my turn selling snow cones, and you'll see me out there again next year. It's been a great summer, catching up with old community friends, and joining to celebrate our ancestors with a modern day flair. Anyways, this ends my summer of obon observations, but I'll stop here with a little poem for my girl:
Gardena Obon
Playing games with Daddy
Sharing snow cone with Grandpa Larry
Dancing bon odori with my Mama
Jumping in the bouncer!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Adoption celebration!

Here are Maiya at her best friend L's adoption party a few Sundays ago. Maiya and L have known each other since they were 9 months old and grew up together at their childcare. L left first to go to preschool, but we found that both Maiya and L would talk about each other constantly, so we have been doing occasional play dates since then at the park, and at their downtown loft, which we pass everyday on our way home from work. L and her sister (also) L were adopted by their 2 daddies recently and we were happy to go to their adoption celebration party. When J and B spoke at the party about their growing family (they are also foster parents for a 4 month old baby girl), it was such a touching and beautiful moment.

Higashi Obon is hot!

When I tell people that we have spent our summer going to obons, they always ask which is the best. There is no way to answer that question, but to say that they are all so different. One may have great entertainment, but so-so food. Another may have great community spirit. Another has great teriyaki chicken but lousy shaved ice. They are each special for different reasons.

After Lauren's adoption party, Maiya and I walked down the street to the Higashi Obon.

It was a hot Sunday afternoon with a warm breeze, and our only daytime obon. Many open in mid-late afternoon and peak around dinner time and during the bon odori dancing. Higashi, which has a terrific entertainment stage all weekend, started at noon and runs until nighttime. So, when we went, it was slow, mostly because it was hot and everyone was either indoors with the air conditioning, or under cover of the many easy-ups provided. So, it seemed very empty with no lines, which actually was great, since we didn't have to wait in any long lines.

My first purchase was at the Bombu and Kitsune Taiko somen booth. I was happy to support since I was part of Bombu during its first year when I took a taiko class at Higashi 5 years ago. In fact, that reminds me that I performed disasterously with Bombo at Higashi's obon back in 2003.

I have to say, and Maiya might agree, that Higashi had by far the best snow cones of all the obons we've been to. They had the widest array of flavors, including things like Kiwi and Mango. Maiya walked up and ordered the "rainbow." The girl may not know many Disney characters, but she knows how to order a snow cone. I had a blueberry raspberry and mango, and it was fantastic. When Maiya's snow cone melted into a bowl of sticky purplish-black thick gooey liquid with parking lot dust, she put the bowl up to her face, drank it up and said, "Mommy, I drink like Japanese!"

We were there for the Hawaiian dancers, having missed the preschool kids performing, by just a few minutes. Here they are doing a Maori dance, which was featured in the movie, "The Whale Rider," according to the emcee. Later, when we were on the other side of the temple at the Farmer's Market, I got the most delicious cantaloupe ever for $1. I heard June Kuramoto playing koto on the loudspeaker and thought it was a CD, but then when we went back, I realized she was live up onstage playing so beautifully. Maiya was drawn to the music and we sat down right in front on the curb.

For a 3 year old, Obon is really about the games, which I think I've mentioned before. At 50 cents a pop, they definitely had the best games, with no lines. My only complaint, again, would be the use of candy as a consolation prize when the kid doesn't win a plastic prize. Maiya did pretty well at the tic-tac-toe softball toss, so look for her on a softball field in years to come. I did pick up a pretty delicious chicken teriyaki plate for Tony on the way home. All in all, a very enjoyable time. Less enjoyable was the post-obon hot summer meltdown that occurred on our way back to the cooler westside, just prior to a mama-welcomed car seat nap.