Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Reflecting on September

Hey folks - September flew by. We spent just about every evening with Tony's dad in the hospital again for almost 2 weeks, and it seemed like we got home after 10pm every night. Been swamped at work with an audit, and busy weekend activities. I spoke on a Nikkei in Cuba panel at JANM early in the month. I continued to work out at the gym twice a week, until I hurt my neck and spent an entire day in bed. I also managed to see two GREAT shows Kristina's "WONG Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" closing 10/5, and Dan Kwong's "Be Like Water" closing 10/12, both by artists I've been friends with for many years. And I quickly got addicted (yes!) to Facebook.

Maiya had a few "firsts" in September including moving from the Sunshine Room to the Rainbow Room at preschool, starting Odori Japanese dance class, Jr. Blastronauts at the Y (photo below), and first sleepover date (first night away from Mommy & Daddy ever) with her cousins. Here's some of the September pix off our camera.
At a downtown park with Lauren & Lindsey
At Amani's 4th Bday with Amani & Leela
I AM A ROBOT. I AM A ROBOT.
Daddy's moving furniture again. I'm helping.
Fieldtrip to Kidspace Museum
New kids sports/exercise class at the Y with Daddy

So, September has come to a close. Happy Rosh Hashanah! To the new year and to good health. After seeing SICKO, you can't ever take your health for granted.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What do we want? Rec Center!

Back in the mid-90s, I was part of a younger adult-oriented charrette sponsored by the LA Community Redevelopment Agency to brainstorm and help create a vision for the future of Little Tokyo. I wasn't very active in the meetings, but our group of mostly 20-somethings focused on the need for a gym in Little Tokyo that would bring young people (back) to Little Tokyo for things like basketball and martial arts.

Then, in 2000, Tony and I joined the about 500 community folks in a march and rally through Little Tokyo to support the Rec Center in Little Tokyo. I think the chant went something like...

What do we want? Rec Center!
When do we want it? Now!
Where do we want it?
Little Tokyo!

I even wrote a few articles myself when I was a columnist for the Rafu Shimpo: Then in 2004, when Tony was designing the Little Tokyo Mural, he included the Rec Center in the design. Here's a picture in our garage in July 2005 with Maiya when she was just barely 5 months old.

Fast Forward to Tuesday, 9/23. Great news! The LA City Council voted unanimously to approve a Memorandum of Understanding for Little Tokyo Service Center to build the Little Tokyo Rec Center near St. Vibiana's Church and the Little Tokyo Public Library. Here is an article in the LA Times yesterday.

All I have to say is, it's about time!! Let's get this party started!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Baker's Clay... Baking Bread

We borrowed Lianne's breadmaker since she only used it once. I really never knew how easy it was to make homemade whole wheat bread with a breadmaker. The hardest part was the 4 stores I went to to buy all the ingredients, price comparing and trying to get as much organic, bin and fresh ingredients as possible. It's literally toss 9 ingredients in (tossing order is important, as is keeping yeast separate from salt and liquid) and press a few buttons.

A few weeks ago on my day off, we made the first batch. Maiya was busy when I was getting everything ready. As soon as I hit the start button and set out to wait the 3 1/2 hours for the bread to bake, Maiya all of a sudden wanted to "help" me make bread. So I got on the internet, and 3 minutes later I had an easy recipe for Baker's Clay.

Baker's Clay
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water
food coloring

I split it up in half and made one green batch and one orangy batch. We pretty much spent ALL morning playing with this dough. Maiya got out all her baking tools. (By the way, her toy measuring spoons are more accurate than my 25 year old measuring spoons.) You can either put it in a 250 degree oven for an hour, or let it sit and air dry for 48 hours. You can also paint, decorate or shellac when it cools, but I covered it and put it in the fridge to use again later.

And, 3 1/2 hours later, voila! We had fresh mostly organic whole wheat bread. It was delicious. Me and Maiya ate over half a loaf in one sitting with butter and fresh Ollalaberry jam. Yum!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Made Up Stories

Made Up Stories is one of several games that Tony created with Maiya. They usually take place when we are in the car. The way it works is that we all take turns making up short stories that end with "Just Kidding." When I'm not driving, I'll write them down. Or, if it's just the two of us, I'll write it down as soon as I get home. At 3 1/2 years old, Maiya's stories often revolve around animals and poop. They're great for developing Maiya's language skills such as pronunciation and vocabulary, but they also build and exercise her creativity and keen sense of humor.

Maiya's Made Up Stories from 8/24/08:
  • One time I went to the beach and I met a bad crab. And he talked to me and he talked to me in Spanish. I'm just kidding.
  • Last time I swam with my turtle and I saw an ant. Just kidding.
  • Last time I saw a mouse on the TV with you. I'm just kidding.
  • One time I went to Granny Franny's and I saw a poo poo on the car. Just kidding.
  • Last time I saw a dragon at my house and he bumped his head. I said, "Dragon, why are you in my house?"
  • One time I went to Granny Franny's house and I saw a dog and he pooped on my head. Just kidding.
  • Last time I went to the beach without you and I couldn't find you. Just kidding.
  • Last time I went to my house and I saw a bird in my house pooping on my dragon. Just kidding. Actually the big kid sister's and brother there too with the babies.
  • One time I went to Grandma Machi's house and I saw a lizard on my food and I yelled, "Grandma, I saw a lizard in my spa me (spam musubi).
  • One time I'm driving in my small car all by myself with no _____ and I saw a butterfly on it and I waked up and I said, "Stop butterfly!" and he got away.
  • One time I went to my house and saw a mama lizard in my belly and I say, "Awww," and I say, "Just kidding."
I got a lot more to share, but I'll save them for another day. We also have great dreams and stories she dicates for her diary.

Blog To Do List

Topics on my back blog:
  • Nikkei in Cuba program
  • Making home-made bread
  • Baker's clay
  • Made Up Stories
  • Dan's fantastic play "Be Like Water" - may put it on the Little Tokyo blog
  • Tomatoes
  • Rhyming words
  • Book club
  • Palin
  • Why I like Obama so much
  • Maiya's drawings
  • Amani's 4th Bday
  • Pet Peeves (from Cherish This! inspiration)
This list is more for me than anyone else.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Media Matters

A great article written by our friend Shea who is the Chair of Communications at Oakland University north of Detroit.

THINKING FOR OURSELVES
Media Matters
By Shea Howell
Michigan Citizen, September 14-20, 2008

The Republican convention revealed two fatal weaknesses in the mainstream media, Most coverage substituted personal drama for substantive discussions of issues. Personalities were hyped over politics.

At the same time the media failed to cover police repression of dissent, the most brutal at a political gathering since 1968. The images of heavily armed police beating protestors, charging peaceful gatherings and throwing reporters to the ground came to the public only through independent media. The mainstream press, cowed and manipulated, missed what may well be a major turning point in government response to basic rights of protest.

Republican strategists skillfully exploited the media tendency to focus on personality rather than politics to ward off any serious examination of Sarah Palin. Selected to shore up McCain’s lack of appeal to far rightwing sectors of the Republican party base, and signaling his willingness to embrace divisive and extreme views, Palin came wrapped in a strategy designed to portray her as a classic American archetype: tough frontier woman. The image of her standing tall against the onslaught of the wilderness strikes deep chords in many Americans, feeling besieged by forces out of their control.

Key to portraying this tough gal image is an orchestrated effort to position her in opposition to a hostile media. The outlines of this strategy emerged shortly after her selection. Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager , told Fox News that the media would not be allowed to bully Palin into giving interviews. Why should they throw her into a “cycle of piranhas?”

One of the piranhas seemed to be CNN reporter Campbell Brown. In an interview with Tucker Bounds, a McCain spokesperson, Brown tried to get an example of Palin’s executive experience. Bounds became agitated and continued to recite vague qualifications. Shortly after the interview, Maria Comella issued a sharply worded statement from the Republicans canceling McCain’s appearance on Larry King. "After a relentless refusal by certain on-air reporters to come to terms with John McCain’s selection of Alaska’s sitting governor as our party’s nominee for vice president,” she said, “we decided John McCain’s time would be better
served elsewhere."

In this strategy the media represents the forces of an uncertain, fearful world against which Sarah stands tall. In this way every questioning of her experience or her extremist views is transformed into an opportunity to show how tough she is. Thus she and McCain are transformed into strong, father-mother figures, standing up heroically against a wild, unpredictable world.

In this strategy actual positions and political policies become secondary. The American public is assured that, as uncertainty about the economy, jobs, and a hostile world grows, it can count on McCain and Sarah to ride to the rescue.

Meanwhile, outside public view because it was not covered by the mainstream media, the combined police forces of the Twin Cities, the FBI and Homeland Security targeted peaceful, lawful dissent. Nearly 300 people were arrested in the first day of the convention. Invoking the Patriot Act, independent journalists were targeted for arrest, their equipment seized. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now and two of her reporters were arrested. SWAT0 teams invaded the house where I-Witness, the group responsible for documenting much of the police brutality in New York at the 2004 RNC, was staying.

These actions have led to a groundswell of protest. Over 60,000 people signed petitions for the release of those jailed and the ACLU will be fighting much of this. But behind this fight a new and dangerous pattern of infiltration, repression, intimidation and outright brutality is emerging. The inability or unwillingness of the mainstream media to report on any of this shows just how weak these piranhas really are.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Maiya's Morning Madness

What parent doesn't have a hard time getting out of the house in the morning? This year, Tony leaves by 7am, before Maiya wakes up, so it's up to me to get us out of the house. It takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, depending on what I have done the night before, and what I skip out on.

On Friday, it took an hour and a half. I was having such a hard time getting myself ready and getting her to stop playing and get ready to leave, so we made a list with pictures to help motivate her. Since we don't do rewards and want her to feel her own sense of accomplishment, ie., doing it for herself, not just to please or "obey" me, I felt funny about doing this list. It reminds me of having a chart on the wall with stickers. But anyways, she liked my primitive drawings (very age appropriate), and even though it took extra time to draw these pictures, I do think it helped for her to see her role in getting us out of the house faster, which would make me less of a grumpy, barking maniac (haiyaku! andele! hurry! come on, move it, move it!)

Anyways, Maiya's big news for this week is that she has moved up from the Sunshine Room to the Rainbow Room at preschool. She's very excited to be a big kid now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Weekend @ the Lake

Maiya and I got to spend the Labor Day weekend up at the lake where my sister's family spends the summers and many weekends. We went 3 years ago when Maiya was just 5 months old. This time she had so much fun hanging out on the dock, going for boat rides, swimming in the water, digging on the beach, playing with her cousins and eating way too much. It was nice to get away for the weekend, I wish Tony had been able to join us.

Putting on sunscreen
Hanging out on the dock feeding the ginormous catfish
Riding on Joy's boat going very fast! Maiya loved it.
Sharing a "biggie" board on the swim step with cousins
Kieth and Kaylee (in matching swimsuit and unicorn horn hair)
I want to swim! Sitting in the dump truck after playing "Spoons"
Kieth driving Kaylee and Maiya on the pedal/paddle boat
video
Getting on board
video
Surf's up dude!

Thanks Auntie Gayle & Uncle Lee for having us!