too many -versaries to remember!

i forgot, once again, that my blogiversary was on the 10th. it's not that i don't love my blog; i do. it's been a wonderful record of the last four years of our life.

around this time of year i enjoy reading old entries, like this one from august 27, 2005 :: "at this rate it will take me a good five years to get the house in order, but it's a start." can you believe i said "five years"? do you know what that means?! i only have a year to get the house in order! yikes ... i guess it's good to have these little reminders to get my butt into gear.

but another part of me hates this time of year. i seem to always have a mental and emotional breakdown in august. not a good month for me. if given the chance to reflect on my emtional state in this blog, i would most likely go on a downward spiral to the dark depths of my soul, and i'm not ready or willing to do that. so i tend to neglect the blog or only write "fluff" posts during this time of year.

but one of my goals for this year is to stop dwelling on the negative in the past and to put my energies toward living in the present. and you know what? this blog can be a tool for that purpose; to record the present.

so, here's to another year of blogging!


45 months.

maya @ 45 months (3-3/4 years old)
maya @ 45 months :: august 4, 2009
  • wants to wear dresses all the time. probably influenced by all the girls at her preschool.
  • we started going to our new farmers market down the block from our house and now she thinks the farmers market "lives" in that parking lot.
  • always yells out "my school! my school!" when we pass by, which is often.
  • enjoying splashing around in the water but isn't much about swimming (i.e., dunking her face underwater), although on a good day she'll let me pull her around while she blows bubbles and kicks her feet.
  • can write ian's name and most of the alphabet correctly. she asks about the spelling of certain words, mostly names of people she likes (i.e., ian's friends).
  • drawing cats and dogs and princesses.
  • finally got to spend the night in ian's room.
  • her favorite song is the "ABC song" but one day towards the end of the month she was upset because she "lost" the letter O in the song. it was really because she kept singing it, as most kids her age do, "ellamennow."
  • it seems at some point she decided she does, in fact, have a favorite blanket :: the light green baby gap "wan wan" (i.e., puppy) blankie that once belonged to ian.
  • she loves to stop by a bush near her preschool that attracts a lot of little yellow butterflies. she tries in vain each day to have one walk on her hand; she's only been successful once so far. (on occasion i gently catch one for her so she can see it up close.)


obon festival

@ gardena buddhist church obon

i spent my childhood summers in japan. my memories are filled with time spent with my maternal grandparents, going to japanese school (not all good memories), semi-tori (cicada catching) with my cousin, the humidity, and summer festivals. the obon festival was something i attended from year to year and it's a tradition i'd like my kids to embrace as well. it just seems like ian and maya don't have the same kind of summer traditions i did and i'd like them to have fond memories of their summers as i do.

but in order for them to embrace the tradition, i need to take them to an obon festival every year! sadly, in the last 20 years or so i haven't attended any of the many festivals here in the los angeles area. the one i used to go to is the gardena buddhist church obon, and it's the last one of the season in our area.

i couldn't convince ian to come with us (he opted to play at a friend's house) and jordan had a paper to write, so it was just me and maya. i dressed her up in ian's old jinbei-san (even though she wanted to wear a dress) and we headed to gardena for a little cultural mom & daughter time.

taiko drumming

the main attraction of an obon festival is the obon dancing, which usually happens in the evening, but we couldn't stay that late. instead, we enjoyed some food (shaved ice and sata-andagi donut holes), watched a bit of taiko drumming, and played a couple of games. the festival seemed smaller than i remembered but it was just the right size for our afternoon outing.

project365 :: 08.01.2009
walking through the church grounds and looking at all the people around me, i felt a tad bit out of place. not because i looked any different from the people around me, but because i didn't feel like part of the community.
the japanese american (ja) community has strong ties to each other through many activities for the young and old, annual traditions like obon and nisei week, and families that go back three and four generations in southern california. my step-dad's side of the family has been here for about four generations and my step-sister is pretty tied in with the goings-on in the ja world.
but i've never been a part of that. at the same time, i was never a part of the chuuzai-in (temporary transfers from japan) crowd either. it didn't help that i grew up in manhattan beach with so few asians around me (much less jas). in many ways i feel awkward being at these kinds of events because i know what they're about, but i don't know the ja way (sometimes japanese traditions change or are tweaked over the generations after they've crossed the pacific), or i think i should know about something but i don't and the jas do. basically, i feel in limbo between being a "real" japanese and being ja. and, no wonder. i'm not ja and i'm not really japanese. and my kids are really neither because they don't see themselves as ja or japanese (at least, i don't think ian does and maya needs more time before she even figures out she's not a fairy princess).
i don't think about it often, but there are times when i contemplate cultural self-awareness and what that means for the kids. i want them to be informed about their japanese and jewish heritages but they don't have very good role models in rupert and myself, unfortunately. it's hard to ask your kids to take their cultural backgrounds seriously when you're not very in tune yourself. figuring this all out is another thing to add to my long list of parenting to-dos. at the very least, taking maya to obon and exposing her to it was a start. a pretty tasty start.


the closest i'll get to meeting one of my heroes

facebook is useful. very useful. through a friend on FB i found out hayao miyazaki was going to be in town for a talk (with john lasseter, no less). i found out just in time to get tickets the day they went on sale (i hit the "buy" button right at 9:01am), which was a good thing since they sold out by mid-morning apparently.

if you don't know who hayao miyazaki is i'm not sure we can be friends ... just kidding ... sort of. miyazaki-san is the director of some of my favorite movies :: nausicaa of the valley of the wind, totoro, princess mononoke, howl's moving castle, etc. i never get tired of watching any of his films and i doubt i ever will. it pleases me bunches that ian and maya repeatedly watch some of miyazaki-san's movies (especially totoro and spirited away). along the same line as pixar films, miyazaki films can be enjoyed and appreciated by adults and children alike.

anyway, rupert + i made it a date night (along with our friend H who told us about the event) and headed to the samuel goldwyn theater in beverly hills last week. as we walked in we were given the chance to write a question that might be read by lasster and answered by miyazaki. being the smart cookie that i am, i thought this opportunity might present itself, and i came prepared with a question in mind.

the talk itself was lead by lasseter asking some questions, interspersed with extended clips from miyazaki's movies. the nice thing about that was watching them on the big screen; i've only seen a few of miyazaki's movies in a theater setting. the bad thing, however, was that they showed dubbed versions, which irked me. some of the voiceovers are so awful (especially jiji from kiki's delivery service -- truly awful -- sorry phil hartman). as rupert explained to H, "we're not allowed to watch these movies in english at our house." but, despite the dubbing, you know a movie is good when, even though you've seen it a hundred times before, you think, "hey, i was watching that!" when they stop the clip.

at the end of the talk came the q&a session. i sort of gave up on my question being asked (i've never been lucky like that) so i was pleasantly surprised, and slightly uncertain, when lasseter said the last question was from "yurak matuma[mumble mumble]?". of course, once he read the question i knew it was mine so i got very excited and craned to hear what miyazaki said.

my question was something along the lines of, "rumor has you retiring after every movie since princess mononoke. what keeps bringing you back to film making?"

his answer was something like, "to be honest, the first time i said i was going to retire was after nausicaa. but i only told my wife. now no one believes me so i'm not saying anything about retiring anymore." so he really didn't answer my question!

regardless, it was a thrill to see miyazaki and lasseter in the flesh, even if they were about the size of my thumb since we were sitting at the back of the theater. i never thought i would get the chance to be in the same room as miyazaki so i was in absolute heaven. too bad they didn't allow cameras at the talk, otherwise i would've snapped a million pictures. instead, i leave you with a self-portrait taken later that night at home.

project365 :: 07.28.2009

what i made for dinner :: chicken with balsamic barbecue sauce

summer = bbq, no? it's easy, your kitchen stays cool + you get the husband involved in dinner-making.

since i still have the giada cookbook (giada's kitchen) i prepared a simple dish for rupert to grill. instead of a whole chicken, though, i used four pieces of boneless thigh and eight drumsticks. there was plenty of sauce for all of that chicken.

chicken with balsamic barbecue sauce
(4 servings)
ingredients ::
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 chicken, cut in serving pieces (2 breasts, 2 thighs, 2 legs, and 2 wings)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions ::

  1. combine all the barbecue sauce ingredients in a small nonreactive saucepan and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by one third, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. place a grill pan over medium heat or preheat an outdoor grill. season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  3. transfer 1/2 cup of the sauce to a small bowl. grill the chicken for about 10 minutes per side, brushing the chicken with the 1/2 cup barbecue sauce for the last 2 or 3 minutes. transfer the chicken to a serving platter and let it rest for at least 5 minutes. serve with the remaining barbecue sauce alongside.

note :: if you prefer not to grill, the chicken can also be baked. place the chicken skin side up in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven. remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the barbecue sauce all over the top of the chicken. return the baking dish to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.