Sunday, November 11, 2012

Children's Day @ School 2012

Children's Day is a big deal at Maiya's school.  It's the day where when the Nihon Buyo (traditional Japanese dance) classes put on full kimonos and makeup and share their dances.  Maiya and Eve were the only 1st grade girls in their class.  It took almost 2 hours for hair, makeup and dressing all the girls, for a 5 minute performance.

1st and 2nd grade girls
1st graders perform Kaeru no Uta Ga and Beethoven on Pianica

And a little J-pop "Oha Raku"

NaBloPoMo12 #11
(Backblogging May 2012)
Happy Bday to Darin, Maura, Erin

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Children Deserve a Future

Contingent walking from LTSC
I've been working in the Child Development field for almost 8 years, as a parent, and 7 years at LTSC.  We have had a lot of successes with families in our Family Literacy program, with parents learning to speak English, gaining confidence and self-esteem, and several of our parents putting themselves out there and testifying before Commissioners at First 5 LA and School Board members at LAUSD Board meetings.  I am so proud of them, and inspired by their courage.   I have done it countless times myself, almost monthly it seems, and each time I am a shaking mess, 
We have gone to rallies, marched from Echo Park to downtown over the years, and in April this year, 55 people from LTSC, parents, children, teachers, directors and friends joined us at the march and rally to save Childcare from budget cuts with another 3,000 people who attended.  My programs were cut $200,000 last year, and this year they were cut an additional $100,000 so when they say that budgets are balanced on the backs of poor families, immigrants, and children, these are the babies, toddlers and preschoolers we work with every day.  

So, enough of my soapbox, here are some pictures of the Childcare Rally in April.  
LTSC Staff, Parents, Children!
Me and Maiya... LTSC Grace Iino Child Care Center Alumni (2005-2008)
Disa, who was Co-campaign manager for Meghan Sahli-Wells
Angelina Preschool teachers
Grace Iino staff and families
Child Development, the personal is political
Peace. Out.
NaBloPoMo12 #10
(Backblogging April 2012)

Friday, November 09, 2012

It's as Easy as...

...riding a bike.  So we have been doing the Walk and Roll Wednesdays since last year.  I've been volunteering to help with the kids walking to school, once a month.  But, Maiya hadn't been able to ride her bike without training wheels because we really just hadn't spent much time on the bike.  Maiya had gotten pretty good at riding her Razor scooter.  Anyways in April (yes I know that was 7 months ago), Tony took the training wheels and the pedals off the bike and let Maiya go on it.  I saw online that it said to let them go for about half an hour, and once they got the hang of it, it's time to take off the training wheels.  Well, they remained off for several weeks, or even a month.
She got pretty good at it.
Here she is practicing still... and sporting a skirt on her
shoulders like a shawl, for some reason.

Finally, after CicLAvia in April where Maiya took her scooter, we went home and I figured out how to put the pedals back on.  Much easier than I thought it would be, and immediately she was off!  That's my girl.  Peace. Ride. Out.

NaBloPoMo12 #9
(Backblogging April 2012 posted on 11/10 catching up on 11/9)

Thursday, November 08, 2012

CicLAvia @ MacArthur Park - April 2012

For our 3rd CicLAvia in April 2012, Maiya and I drove down to MacArthur Park and again brought our scooters.  Maiya had just learned how to ride a bike that week, and I was concerned that she would be a little unsteady with all the thousands of bike riders en the route.  We joined Great Leap, for their performance of "Cycles of Change," bicycle stories directed by Dan Kwong and based on peoples personal stories created in Collaboratory workshops.
 The performance, "Cycles of Change" with George and Danny on taiko and percussion.
These photos tell a story all by themselves.  
I'm going to call it a blog and sign off NaBloPoMo12 #8!  Peace. Out.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Grace's Groupies in SF

So it's been 10 years since I've been to San Francisco, when we went up with NCRR for a Report Back on our trip to Cuba in 2001.  When we heard our friends Grace Lee Boggs and Scott Kurashige (aka Tula's dad),  were going to be in San Francisco on a speaking tour of their new book, The Next American Revolution, Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century in March 2012, we decided to drive up to San Francisco to see them.  It's been two years since the US Social Forum, which was the last time we saw Grace and visited in Detroit.  Since it's late and I'm tired, this will have to be another photo caption blog post.  These are the top 13 out of 118 photos from the trip.
By kismet, our friend Joe Reilly was in Berkeley performing a
children's concert at La Pena Cultural Center that same morning.
It so happens that we met Joe through Grace at the Boggs Center, and our other friends in Detroit,
who at the time were part of the Long Hairz Collective.
Joe's latest CD is "Let's Go Outside," is one of his many works with
children, animals, nature and all things eco and Michigany.
Maiya with Daddy at the La Pena Cultural Center mural
One of a dozen or more self-portraits taken from the backseat.
I think this is one going over the Oakland Bay Bridge.
Maiya Grace wearing her Grace Lee tee
Visiting with Grace before her talk
Event sponsored by the Chinese Progressive Association (or whatever CPA stands for).
I liked how progressive and diversely API the crowd was, numbering around 400 people.
The previous day Grace had engaged in a conversation with
Angela Davis at UC Berkeley at a woman's conference with 1200 people attending.
Shea, one of our favorite and most knowledgeable Detroit-based activists
who we met in our summers volunteering with Detroit Summer
View from our hotel room
Grace Lee and Maiya Grace at an after party in Grace's hotel room
Tony talking with Grace about education or activism, I'm sure.
One of Daddy's original 3x5 cards

Meeting Tish!!!!
So, there's another one of our short trips, barely gone a day and a half.  I think we left at 4 am, and got up there in time to see Joe's 10am concert, then drove across the Bridge to SF to see Grace in the afternoon.  We then drove out to Grace's hotel near the airport to hang out, then back to our hotel near Chinatown.  The next morning, I went walking around San Francisco and loved it, and walked over to visit/meet Tish, one of my favorite blogger friends (and first blogger friends back in the days before FB when everybody was blogging) who I have been good friends with for 10 years, but had never met in person.  Something non-bloggers don't really get.  Tony and Maiya came to pick me up and ended up hanging out with us, just talking and catching up.  It was a great visit, and one that I hope to do again one day soon.  

Our only regret is that we didn't have time to see Manilatown, home of our Manzanar friends Al Robles and Bill Sorro, both who passed away in recent years, or our friend Jiro Kobashigawa, Tony's former landlord, an Okinawan activist, poet, artist, writer, who passed away this summer at the age of 97.

Peace. Out.
NaBloPoMo12 #7
(Backblogging March 2012)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Vote Vote Vote

Election 2012...

All I can say is "whew!"  I know there have been elections that were devastating, prop 109 (was that the number?), prop 22, comes to mind... or the stolen re-election of George Bush.  Anyways, relieved at the outcome... I started checking my computer at work about an hour before I left the office, and when I saw the early returns, I couldn't breathe.  Stress, worry, fear...

I almost went with Jill Stein, of the Green Party, who I think I was aligned with on 99% of issues with her, and something like 84% Obama and 2% Romney. But as they said on KPFK, I did like many progressives, and voted with the politics of fear.  Anyways, I was happy to see that Tony and Maiya together voted for Jill Stein, but then I had to explain to Maiya when she didn't win, about corporate media, the debates, and how most people have never even heard of Jill Stein.   I joked on FB, that if Roseanne Barr had stepped aside and backed Dr. Stein, then she would have gotten a whole 1% of the California vote.

Once I realized that Obama had won, I could scarcely believe it.  People were so excited on FB, but mostly I was just able to breathe again.  Then I remembered, oh the propositions.  I didn't have a good feeling about anything I had supported.  Over the past few months, we have been meeting at work regularly on Prop 30 outreach for our residents, families and clients.  In my own programs in child development, we were doing voter registration awareness, education on Prop 30 and 38, and had been following both very closely from many angles, for both parents and staff.  On its own, Prop 38 was so positive and would have reversed 5 years of budget cuts to child development and provided so much benefit to children and families, but I knew it couldn't beat Prop 30.  I talked to so many people who went to sleep not knowing whether Prop 30 had passed.  I was on refresh on my computer for hours, checking in every 5 minutes on the state's election returns.  I finally realized I needed to take a break, and went to work on my blog.  Anyways, I hope there is a next time for some proactive support for early childhood education, and that the 2 1/2 million people who voted for it will consider it again next time around.  It just shows that the field needs to keep at the message of how important early learning is, and how it impacts future learning, success in school, in college, and as  the next generation's leaders.

Another race that was really important to me was Prop 37, but with $45 million spent by Monsanto, Pepsi, Dupont and others, including many health food companies that started out as alternative foods, but have since been bought out by corporate food giants, it wasn't a complete surprise.

This morning, Maiya was asking me about the propositions.  I knew that she knew what 37 was about because she said that daddy had told her about it, but I was kind of floored when she said, "what happened with 34?" and I said, "do you know what 34 is?" and she said, "yeah, isn't that the dealth, I mean the death penalty one?"  I was surprised, but then I remembered a conversation we had about the kinds of people that are sometimes on death row and it turns out that they weren't really guilty and that many times they are people of color.  Anyways, trying to keep it age appropriate and in simple terms, but sometimes, my kid seems older and wiser than her 7 years on this planet.

Big congrats to Al Muratsuchi, who I have known for 15-18 years, back when he was fighting the JACL to support the New Otani hotel workers' efforts to unionize, and to Eric Mar in San Francisco, who was battling against known and unknown real estate developers who poured massive amounts of money in attack ads against him.  And also to the new and surprising firsts... new APIs to Congress and the Senate.

Anyways, I know most people will be happy not to see any more political commercials, but because I haven't watched much TV and chose to keep the radio off, I haven't been inundated with political ads, but I am glad it's over.  In all, with the election of my new friend Meghan Sahli-Wells to the local city council in April, who is the breath of fresh air that makes me happy, politically speaking, it has been a pretty good year.

Peace. Out.
NaBloPoMo12 #6
(Posted on 11/7/12)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Jenni's Day Off

Had the day off today for my birthday holiday.  Took Maiya to school, then went to the gym and did 27 minutes on the treadmill.  I could have gone longer, but I had to get home to shower and head to the eye doctor.  The good news is my eyes are getting better, which explains why I cannot read anything close, since my contacts are too strong.  
Then booked it out to J-town, on my day off to have lunch at Toranoko with my cousins (from left to right above) Roxane, Cherie, Jackie, and beautiful cutie Harper (Jackie's grandbaby).  Planned on FB last night, it was a last chance to get together for Cherie, who heads back to France tomorrow after visiting for a week and a half.

This girl is such a cutie pie!
After lunch, I went back to pick up Maiya from taiko class, one of her after school classes.  When we were considering Japanese immersion education for Maiya, one of the main considerations for me was the cultural awareness and activities that go along with the language learning.  We are so fortunate that Maiya is able to not only learn to speak, read and write in Japanese, but she is also learning traditional Japanese dance, making Japanese and Japanese American friends... and learning taiko.  How many elementary schools have after school taiko programs?  I must admit, as a former failed taiko player myself (Bombu Taiko), I had hopes that she would be interested in taiko.  After two months of taiko class, I think she is already much better than I was after a year of playing taiko, and she definitely has better form and rhythm than I ever did.

Anyways, after school, I cleaned up all the Halloween decorations in the yard while Maiya did homework, then we went to dinner at Howard's Bacon and Avocado Burgers for turkey tacos, and then to Baskin Robbins to use a $2 off coupon.  And there, if anyone was interested, is a nutshell of my day off, and NaBloPoMo12 #5.  Peace. Out.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Yellow Belt Day

Maiya has been taking self defense class in the afterschool enrichment program since Kindergarten.  She really enjoys the class.  In March 2012, after about a year and a half after starting, she received her Yellow Belt, the only 1st grader to test for it.  She worked hard, going to extra classes on the weekends.  These pictures are from the day of the Yellow Belt test.

Here's a video from Maiya's Yellow Belt test day sparring with some of the beginners.

She will test for her Orange Belt around Thanksgiving, she says.  And that's NaBloPoMo12 #4.  Yay!  Peace Out.