Saturday, June 23, 2007

LA LA LA Day 3, 4, 5

On Wednesday we stopped by at Jim & Cindi's new house to say hello and wash our clothes (thanks very much, Cindi, that was a lifesaver). There are many, many wonderful things about their new house, but this may be the one I like the best: it's a tatami room with a built-in kotatsu over a recessed floor. Maybe someday, if we don't ever move to Japan, and we have a lot of money that we don't know what to do with, we can build a room like this too?!

Izumi and I next to the fish tank built into the wall between the living room and Jim's office. It's a very cool tank with interesting, exotic fish in it, but you can't really see it here so you'll just have to take my word for it. I'm mostly inserting this picture so you'll know that I really was on this trip!

After our laundry was done, we went to spend a little time with Alex, Kristen Joy and Olivia. We had some take-out from El Pollo Loco (yum!) at their house, and then went for a walk to a park. Here's Izumi in mid-crawl in the foreground, with the rest of the gang behind.

There was no question "if" the kids would all end up climbing on Alex, it was a matter of "when"...

Next stop, Alex & KJ's favorite frozen yogurt shop; a necessity on a hot summer day!

Next up was dinner with Cat & Darren but they weren't quite ready to meet us so I took the kids on a quick trip to M & L Fabrics in Anaheim. I was transported back to the day Clehrence (Clarice) and I went there and ended up with some green fur that she made into a stunning jacket. On the other hand, I bought some quilted silver fabric and turned it into a hideous jacket; you can't win 'em all. Anyway, it was just as stuffed with fabric as I remembered, though it was a bit limiting to try and navigate the place with two little kids in tow (I say, as if there are many other places that aren't that way). In fact, I didn't even approach the flat fold stacks, which were much taller than me. I was afraid that I would find some fabric to love at knee-level and never get it out, or worse yet, start a fabric avalanche and crush my children. Fortunately, I discovered the bargain basement back room. Watch this space to see what that fabric will become! Getting to the subject of this photo, we met Cat & Darren at Niko Niko Sushi, which certainly wasn't super authentic but did give us an enormous bowl of edamame for three bucks, and had a really delicious carrot-miso dressing for the salad (note to self: try to make that dressing).

Then Cat & Darren took Koji swimming, and even invited Darren's nephew Dyson along for the fun. Izumi and I played poolside; it was a little chilly for her since she had a runny nose.

Here's Koji and Dyson, and the end of Day Three!

Day Four, we met Cat & Darren again; we went to a park in Brea to play with Dyson and then back to their place for lunch but I didn't take any pictures. Cat did, so maybe someday I'll backpost something, maybe. Then they had to get to a beach party, so we went back to Jim & Cindi's for a swim and dinner.

Jim, Cindi and Chibi, our great friends and wonderful hosts, too!

This was Koji's gang while we were at Jim & Cindi's: Jamee, who's five, Koji, who's four, and Joy, who's three. It worked out very nicely.

Day Five, we just couldn't get enough of Jim & Cindi so we went back to their house again! For hours, Koji and his posse, as introduced above, jumped in the pool and then climbed back out to jump in again.

Back in the day when I used to work for Cindi, Ali was still in high school but now she's a tennis coach AND good with babies, too. Thanks for giving me a break, Ali!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

LA LA LA Day 2

We drove down to Irvine to visit Nara, Miye and Emmi and meet Joshua today. Here's Emmi ready for some breakfast.

Izumi didn't waste any time locking onto this baby doll stroller for some walking practice in their back yard.

Miye, Koji and Emmi making good use of the hose.

Izumi made good use of the puddles the bigger kids left behind.

Joshua was born in April, on the 21st. If only he had come a few hours earlier, he and Koji would have the same birthday!

Miye and Koji started a little band.

The only way for Nara and I to have our picture taken together was to let Koji do it. He did a pretty good job, although I don't think this is the most flattering angle...where's that little tripod I used to always carry around?!

We left there to give them some nap time and to head off to our next friend's house. First, on the way to Whittier, we stopped at Cream Pan, a Japanese style bakery in Tustin. Everyone who worked there was Japanese, as was the atmosphere of the place (how can I say that when there wasn't anything to it but a glass bakery case, a refridgerator case of drinks and a bunch of baking equipment...but it's true). Somehow I bought 20 bucks worth of sandwiches, pastries and cookies, telling myself that they were a gift for Riva and Will. Well, they were, except for the ones that I ate! As the reviewers on Yelp said, the strawberry croissant is delicious, though I actually liked the chocolate cream horn better. I didn't love the croquette sandwich, but then again, I didn't get around to eating it until the next day and by then it wasn't very appetizing. Better not to buy more than you and your friends can gobble in a day...and better to call first, since they're closed on Mondays and every other Tuesday.

Riva improvised this "pool slide" for Koji and Mikayla out of their various backyard equipment. Nice work, the kids really liked it!

But all Izumi needed was a bucket!

Post-swim, the lovely and mermaid-ish (I mean nice, cute mermaids, not the nasty ones in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) Mikayla.

Here's a picture of Izumi, or is it Mikayla? That's right, it's Mikayla when she was just a few months older than Izumi is now. I thought the resemblance, at least in profile, was striking, so I had to take a picture of this picture!

Tyler spent some good portion of our time together trying to make a move on Izumi. At first, she was put off and even moved to tears.

But it didn't take long for his charm to win her over!

Here's all the kids in a row and actually sort of looking at the camera even.

When Will came home, he got out some of the temporary tattoos he's collected at the trade shows and stuck them on the kids.

Will and Tyler; what you can't tell from this picture is that their bellies are full of chicken, rice and broccoli casserole, which was so good that we nearly polished off an entire 9 x 13 pan full. Thanks for a fun and delicious day, Riva & co., and so sorry that you aren't pictured, know how it is when you get carried away with trying to capture the kids on film!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


On our first day in LA, we went to visit Sahara-san, a friend from Koji's school who had just moved back in March. Seeing them in person and getting caught up on their new life was fun, although it reminded us that we miss them.

Being with Kai-kun must have been a relief for Koji; it's been more than two weeks now that he's been out of school and away from the friends who understand the ways of Power Ranger style posing. For several days after, Koji asked, "Are we going to Kai-kun's house today?". I'm sorry I had to say no. Maybe next time we won't have such a tight schedule (HA~!).

Next we were off for visit with Erika, who was gracious and accomodating to grant my request that we search for Sarah Jessica Parker's new line of clothes at Steve & Barry's. Not only did she go, she patiently looked at nearly every item in the store with me, helped keep the kids entertained, found an excellent "karate" shirt for Koji, bought some non-plumber style jeans, AND posed for this picture taken by Koji. Wow.

The fun didn't stop there though! Next we were off to Famima, the American version of my favoritest Japanese convenience store, Family Mart, now "conveniently" located in Culver City...?! We procured some onigiri (rice balls), some cracker & frosting sandwich thingies and some Calpis drinks, which we spirited back to Erika's place to share with Thomas. Poor kids, I didn't get them back to the hotel and to bed until 10 (Pacific Time...that means they felt like it was midnight, which it was back in Skokie!).

But it was a dandy first day in LA!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Excuses, Excuses...

For many reasons, lately, I haven't been able to keep up my blog the way I'd like. Then again, that's been the case ever since we came back from "The Room," which was 18ish months ago. So you'd think I would just accept my inability to keep up, but I don't! I can't!

Moving on to my latest excuses, um, reasons for not taking time to blog, no, make that REASON because there's only one:

Koji's out of school. Somehow, this long expected event known as summer vacation has taken me completely off guard, and I can't get used to it. He's been out for two weeks and I'm just now starting to think that maybe perhaps it's not a tragedy. It's possible that we might even have fun and enjoy our extra time together. For example, we've been in the backyard a lot over the last several days, playing on the swingset and picking sour cherries. We even made a cherry pie!

But, anticipating meeting our little friend Olivia during our upcoming trip to LA, there were also a few hours that I stuck Koji in front of Wii and had a date with my sewing machine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that though I had to dust my machine off, I hadn't totally lost my touch for putting clothes together. Phew! It was great fun to be sewing again, and I have a feeling I'll be doing it again soon, considering Aogu's reaction when I showed him this finished product: "Maybe next time you can make something for Izumi?"

P.S. Happy Happy Birthday to a friend of my youth (ha! shows how old I am, that uni friends are now "friends of my youth," as if my youth is over, which I don't want it to be but it probably is since she's 35 now and I'm hot on her heels) who has many distinguishing and exceptional qualities, and is 1/3 of Lawn Club. I am so pleased that I will be able to celebrate in person with her soon!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Karaoke Scene, I'm Back!

Did anyone notice that the last time I mentioned "karaoke" here was over two years ago?! This is a truly sad state of affairs because, though you may mock or even laugh hysterically, I really like karaoke (warning: if you actually click on this link, you may end up learning more about karaoke than you ever really wanted to know). A quick sidenote: the reason I like karaoke is that I've mostly experienced it Japanese style, in which one rents a small room outfitted with seating, a karaoke machine and mics so as to "perform" only to/with one's friends. I can't get excited about the American bar-style adaptation, which seems to require inebriation and to result in humiliation.

The point here is that I think I am on the edge of re-entering the world of karaoke! Here's what happened: about a week ago, at a good-bye party for a couple of the moms from Koji's school, I let everyone know that I wanted to follow up dinner with some karaoke. Fortunately, some of the ladies were up for it, though dinner wasn't over until almost 11. We went to Ding Dong Dang in Arlington Heights, which is a Korean place that has a lot of Japanese songs in their karaoke system. All of the ladies were suprised to find that I was a "mic hog," and we (I?!) had such a good time that we didn't leave there until 2:30 a.m.

After that, a few of us cried "encore!" which resulted in a trip to Sankyu in Mount Prospect less than a week later (does anyone reading this remember Sankyu? Ages ago we took a few housegroup friends there and had a great evening of singing and eating Japanese food in the pink room).

It's a good thing that Izumi likes karaoke too (here she is "singing"!) because I foresee more of it in my future. Yoko-san, one of the moms from Koji's school, wants me to form some kind of karaoke club, which would involve karaoke outings once a month for all moms who just need to sing. Check this space in September for news about our first outing!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Nagashi Somen (A River of Noodles)

Koji's preschool knows how to host a party! On his last day of school, we all went out on the lawn for a lunch of nagashi somen. Somen is a type of noodle, a little thinner than ramen, if anyone is particular about noodle thicknesses. It's often eaten during the summer, cold, and after being dunked in a bit of cold broth (which probably sounds unappetizing but actually is quite refreshing and delicious). However, as you see below, we didn't just sit around dunking noodles: we had to catch them first!
Adults took turns sending the noodles down the water-filled half-pipe.

The kids waited next to the pipe with their chopsticks and cups of broth at the ready.

The adults' other job was to monitor the noodle level in the kids' cups and occasionally say, "Stop catching the noodles and eat a few!" Obviously, catching them was way more fun!

Fortunately, Izumi wasn't tall enough to get next to the pipe. She had just as much fun to trying to "catch" the noodles that missed her mouth when I scooped them in.

When everyone had eaten their fill, some noodles were left but I hadn't eaten yet, so I said, "hey, give me a turn!". Now I'm wondering if I should rent this contraption for our next backyard party?!