Feb 27, 2014

little traditions

I find it incredibly exciting that with the arrival of a new child comes the opportunity to create brand new family traditions. Growing up, my family was not driven by tradition and events. Sure, we celebrated mainstream holidays, but it was never a monumental undertaking. But there were the little things, and looking back, I can see that they were family traditions in their own right.

There was the boisterous greeting that my American grandfather would always use when he saw me. "MWAAAA!" he bellowed, as he wrapped me up in a huge hug. He called this our special language, and it was--a sacred conversation between grandfather and grandchild.

My Japanese grandmother would pull on my earlobes before bedtime, assuring me that the longer the earlobe, the better my prospects for great wealth and health in the future. If ever she forgot to do this during our bedtime routine, I quickly reminded her, as the night didn't feel complete without this little gesture.

With a toddler, routines are constantly shaken up, and these little traditions that we develop can be quite transient. For Julie, there is her morning walk with Daddy, the long trek (for little legs) to go see the horses after the local farmers market, our evening sling-cuddly time, and the way that we wind down at bedtime. I read her one story, and then she takes the book and reads it to herself, while I comb her wild curls with my fingers. When she is done, she turns around, murmurs "Mommy" with a smile that could melt the weariest of mamas. As quickly as these little traditions develop, they can fade away just as swiftly, leaving behind only a sweet memory, and a slight ache in my heart--a constant reminder of just how fast it all goes, and how precious this time is.

Feb 26, 2014

10 things i'm grateful for

1. Amasake. I mean real amasake--from Japan, with some rice left over in it. Just sweet enough, creamy, with a splash of ginger or lemon juice. I'm officially on the hunt for a good homemade recipe, but in the meantime, I'm grateful for care packages from mom all the way from Japan.

2. Perfume (the natural kind). One spray always makes me feel fresh and girly.

3. These baby wipes. I'm really not sure how I lived without them most of my life, as I now use them for everything.

4. Soup for breakfast. Try it, it's amazing in the winter!

5. Cream of buckwheat. This is Julie's breakfast of choice, but she doesn't mind sharing. So good with some vanilla almond milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup.

6. Exercise DVDs. They make it much easier to not make excuses, and some are not so bad. I have my eyes on this one.

7. Foggy mornings. There is something so cozy about them. I love wrapping myself in a thick sweater, and zoning out with some tea.

8. When the laundry finally gets folded.

9. Our air purifier. I swear it's warded off many an illness, is enormously helpful for people with pets (we have two cats), and makes for the best nap time white noise for Julie.

10. Juice bars.

Feb 24, 2014

babywearing wishlist


1. Babyhawk Mei Tai This looks so comfortable and beautiful.
2. Sakura Bloom Ring Sling This is the sling I am pining for right now.
3. Ergo Baby We love our ergo to bits and pieces.
4. B.B. Woven Wrap I would love to try a woven wrap! They are so versatile.
5. Solly Baby Wrap These are lightweight, and come in the prettiest colors. Maybe for our next one?!


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

That look on her face when she hears her Daddy about to come through the front door.

Feb 22, 2014

what julie ate

Breakfast: Cream of buckwheat with coconut oil and kelp flakes, green smoothie
Snack: Apples, almond milk
Lunch: Oatmeal, tofu with carrots, zucchini, nappa cabbage, and miso, olive oil
Snack: Brown rice cakes with tahini, banana
Dinner: Brown jasmine rice with natto, nori seaweed, parsley, flax oil, strawberries

the joys of babywearing

When I was pregnant with Julie, I tore through baby books like there was no tomorrow. Pregnancy put me in an entirely different mind frame. Before Julie was even a possibility, I had this idea of how motherhood would not change my lifestyle much. How wrong I was! As the days flew by toward her arrival, I read, meditated, soul searched, and slowly, a parenting style that felt true to me emerged. It did not look anything like what I had expected it to. 

I don't like to confine myself to any particular labels when it comes to parenting, (and most other things, I suppose.) as I feel it limits me from discovering amazing options that may lie outside of my comfort zone. James and I parent with our hearts and intuition, and try hard to keep an open mind. We don't adhere to methods just because they are the golden standard of the day. What we do these days takes a lot from Attachment Parenting and Waldorf education, but we don't "follow the rules" 100 percent. That's a lot of pressure! Truly, what's right is ultimately what works for us as individuals, and I have no desire to contribute to the defensiveness and judgment that unfortunately can come up in this sensitive subject. That being said, I am so excited and passionate about this parenting journey, so there will be much talk about it. Consider yourself warned :-)

One of the things that really works for us is baby wearing. When Julie was born, she couldn't nurse well until an incredible lactation consultant discovered that she was tongue and lip tied. This makes for horrendously painful, endless nursing sessions, where the baby is not getting milk fast enough. And it makes for one cranky baby. During these trying days, I happened to read a thought provoking book called The Continuum Concept. And this is where our baby wearing adventure began. 

We started with a moby, and after a couple days' learning curve, fell in love with it. Next, we dabbled with using a baby bjorn for a couple days, (this didn't work well for us) moved on to an ergo, added a maya wrap to our stash, and recently upgraded to a toddler carrier called the kindercarry. And now, I am pining for a sakura bloom ring sling big time. The moby was fantastic for those early weeks and months, where she was happiest being cuddled full time. She would sleep best while being carried, which gave me so much more freedom to run errands, take a walk, etc. I can't say enough good things about the ergo. It's easy to use, and converted James to loving babywearing. At 19 months, Julie prefers the maya ring sling when she wants to be carried. She loves to be carried on my hip, as I clean the house, get the mail, or dance around with her. For extended trips outside the house or long walks, the kindercarry is the most comfortable. Babywearing is like an extended hug. Your baby is close enough for constant kisses, and she can see the world from your vantage point. When they start to get heavy, wraps and packs really help to take the burden off your arms and back, as well. Do you have any favorite baby wearing slings or packs? I'd love to hear.

Feb 17, 2014


" A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014".

Her newest obsession is leaves. She painstakingly picks out her favorite ones, like a little nature connoisseur, and offers them up proudly. Grandma is the lucky recipient here.

Feb 16, 2014

10 things i'm grateful for

1. My husband, my hero--he drove me an hour to and from my friends house, as I am still nervous about driving, and so I could have a lovely lunch/catch up with her

2. Three boxes filled to the brim with hand-me-downs from said friend. Because of her generosity, we have barely had to buy anything for our daughter

3. Soy kielbasa and cabbage. Sometimes the simplest meals are the very best

4. Getting to see Julie begin to interact with other children

5. A new blender and water filter. My amazing family is generous beyond all belief

6. The days are getting longer again, and it's light enough to resume evening walks

7. A steaming cup of rooibos tea with vanilla coconut creamer and coconut sugar at the end of the night

8. This book: The Honest Life. It is full of so much inspiration for greener and more balanced living

9. Julie's new step stool. Now she actually runs to go wash her hands!

10. Sleep--I don't get nearly enough of it, which makes it all the more sweeter when I catch a few extra hours

our favorite green smoothie

I've recently started making green smoothies my breakfast, and they are surprisingly filling and absolutely addicting. This smoothie is packed with vitamins and minerals, and is a lovely way to set the tone for a healthy day. With a high powered blender, it's easy to blend up a huge amount of fruits and veggies into a delicious drink in very little time, especially if you wash and store your greens in bulk. Julie also enjoys a green smoothie ("Soomy!") with her breakfast. Here is the basic recipe.

Breakfast Green Smoothie

2 servings plus a baby size serving

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
1 cup frozen strawberries (blueberries and raspberries work well, too)
2 cups kale
1 banana (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Blend all ingredients and guzzle.

This is just the basic recipe I blend. Some days I like to add dried goji berries, and switch up the frozen fruit. Peaches and mangoes work nicely. The greens are also interchangeable. Kale, collards, romaine, parsley...Whatever feels right on any given day. Enjoy!

Feb 13, 2014

what julie ate

We have been making some changes in Julie's diet, which I'll go into more detail about later. She's a picky eater, which I figure is fairly common in toddlers? Although I know this, it's still disappointing when she turns her little nose up at the food I spent hours preparing. Oh well! For all the picky little eaters out there, I can't recommend Simply Natural Baby Food enough. Julie's liked everything I've made from this cookbook so far. The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by the same author also has some great recipes and ideas.

Breakfast: Cream of buckwheat (so good!) with coconut oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla, vegetable soup
Snack: Apples with almond butter
Lunch: Barley, split pea soup, parsley
Snack: Brown rice cakes with tahini, strawberries
Dinner: Quinoa, tofu with carrots, zucchini, and cabbage, flax oil

when life throws you lemons

2014 started off on shaky ground for us. There was roseola and croup and a never-ending cold for the whole family, and subsequently, what felt like a couple months of hibernation. I was just starting to regain my footing in the world outside our home, and then we got into a car accident, which shook me to my very core. To have my baby in the backseat while a truck was barreling toward us was simply terrifying. Thankfully the only thing that really suffered was our car. Everything else was minor, and Julie was completely fine. But as I try to regain my nerve to drive, and while I'm at it, attempt to navigate being around other people again, I am doing a lot of soul searching.

It's been seven or eight years (really?!!!) since I landed on the west coast, after having left my life in Japan. In that time, I have only been able to visit Japan once, and New York a couple of times. It's a long time to be away from loved ones. As I see the break neck speed with which Julie is growing up, it only reminds me of how very quickly time passes, and just how precious each and every one of these moments that make up life are.

Sometimes it takes something drastic to wake up. The accident shook me up, but it also made me exceedingly aware of just how tangled up in small things I get. Baskets of unfolded laundry or a pile of dirty dishes before dinner needs to be made can bring me so easily to tears. Or perhaps it's a day that Julie is teething and cranky, and yells at me. Maybe it's the stack of bills that we just can't pay at the moment. Sometimes these things get me down to the point that all the good in our lives is shoved into the background.

And then, there is the moment when I wake up from the illusion, remember who I am--so much more than all of my worries--and start over.
Here's to the lemonade.

Feb 10, 2014


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014."

This lucky girl is blessed with the sweetest, most loving Daddy in the world. Their bond is incredible. He takes her on daily walks, holding her close to his heart, the two of them bundled together in the chilly morning air.

Feb 3, 2014

10 things i'm grateful for

1. Dedicating myself anew to healthy living--it's been nice getting re-acquainted with green smoothies

2. Julie is almost over this monster cold, and we are slowly re-entering society

3. My yearly read of "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" series. It just never gets old

4. Rain! It's been months and it was much needed

5. Our fridge is stocked with beautiful, organic food. We are blessed to be able to eat this way

6. Julie is getting up only once or twice a night now. Trust me, this is huge

7. My endlessly giving and endlessly supportive family

8. Morning meditation. It changes the tone of the entire day

9. Face time and Skype. With long distance family and friends, this makes all the difference in the world

10. Mushroom barley soup from the Candle Cafe cookbook. It's kinda perfect


"A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014".

These days she is happiest on an open field. I set her down, and she takes off as fast as her little legs can carry her. Every once in an a while she picks a spot to sit and take it all in, enamored by all that the world has to offer.

Feb 1, 2014


I've been reflecting a lot on language and culture these days. Julie's eighteenth month has ushered in an explosion of new words and comprehension. We've reached that stage where we really need to watch our language, as she mimics everything--especially those words that we would like her to never learn! But there is also the joy in hearing her use new words in context, while stomping around the room with glee and pride.

Just this morning, Julie pointed at the cats and murmured, "Kitty", "Neko", "Gato", "Le chat", and then flashed me a knowing smile. I felt a little flutter in my heart.

Julie is our world baby--Japanese, Mexican, and a mish-mash of various European countries. She loves her Baa-ba and Abuelita, and knows that the English books are for Daddy to read, while the Japanese books are Mommy's specialty. I always knew that I would raise my child to speak Japanese, as it is such a huge part of who I am. My mother did the same for me, and it is one of the most precious gifts that she gave me. By gifting me with a second language, she opened the door to another culture, and all the amazing people and experiences that have come with it. I would not be who I am without my other culture. I know she must have struggled to keep up with teaching me sometimes, as we lived in small town America, with not many Japanese people to speak with on a regular basis. It was also a less accepting time, and children's curiosity is often akin to brutal, unpolished honesty. I so desperately wanted to fit in and not stand out, that I would frequently resist with all my might. In public, I  responded to my mother in English. Thankfully, she persevered, and for this I will be forever grateful. In turn, I will do all I can to pass this gift on to the next generation.

Expressing oneself through different cultures and languages can be difficult. There is a constant adjustment and re-adjustment of self depending on where you are and who you are speaking to at the moment. Sometimes I get tongue tied, and I feel lost between cultures, not knowing where and if I belong. But these days, I mostly relish living in that grey area between cultures. With growth comes a certain confidence and peace. My deepest desire is that Julie will experience all of this, too--the questioning, the longing, and the sweet knowing that comes through the journey. I hope she comes to find there is such beauty in that land of in between, and that she has the language to navigate it all with grace.

what julie ate

What to feed a toddler when they are sick and not wanting to have anything to do with food, except to throw it with gusto to the ground? A sick mama who can barely drag herself around to make said food doesn't help...I'm open to ideas! Dinnertime did morph into a full-on dance party, so there was that bright side...

Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with raisin soak water, almond butter, cinnamon
Lunch: Buckwheat groats with collard greens, chickpeas, avocado, apple
Snack: Homemade oat and rice crackers with hummus, coconut water (she hated both. Ha!)
Dinner: Quinoa with natto, parsley, nori seaweed, miso, sesame oil, broccoli

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