May 28, 2014

my favorite time of year

 Coming from New York and Tokyo, I can proudly proclaim that I have survived a wild variety of seasons. In New York, it is the freezing winters, when the streets settle into a hush, ice dancing across windowpanes, and car steering wheels too cold to handle with bare skin. In Tokyo, it is the summers, heavy with perspiration and full of a tranquilizing kind of humidity. And then there are the NY autumns--the season of new beginnings and fiery leaves. It would make anyone long for the east coast, I think. One mustn't forget Japan, with its explosion of cherry blossoms in spring, and accompanying celebrations amidst the falling petals--its loud revelry in stark contrast to the dainty pink blossoms that are blooming everywhere.

All of these seasons have their charms. But my favorite these days is the small window when the jacarandas bloom in California. One day, the trees are as green as can be, and the next, they are covered in the most beautiful purple flowers I've ever seen. In a part of the country where seasons are not pronounced--where winter is laughable to the New Yorker in me, and balmy days are to be expected year-round--it is a welcome reminder that time flows here as in everywhere else. Another spring has arrived, and with it, another chance to gently shake myself awake to experience life in the present moment.

May 24, 2014

10 things i'm grateful for

1. I know I already said this in my last list, but can I just say it again? Gelato! And on any kind of day if you're eating the kind of gelato I'm referring to. It's otherworldly. This is some artisan gelato that this place makes. If you're on the west coast and need a recommendation, send me a message and I will gladly steer you there.

2. One year old birthday parties. A sweet friend's adorable daughter had a birthday party today, and it made James and I smile so much! The cutest!

3. Dreaming of cupcakes for my husbands upcoming birthday. Please consider this book for all your cupcake needs: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. You cannot go wrong with any of these perfect little pastries. Thank you, hubby for having a birthday so I can make these.

4. A clean kitchen, thanks to said hubby.

5. My toddler is asleep, dinner is cooking, and I have an evening to lounge away with a magazine and some knitting.

6. We went out for lunch as a family of three, and it was a blast. We're getting to the point where going out is not a complete fiasco, as she enjoys it, as well.

7. Roasted brown rice tea. Easy on the bod, easy on the taste buds. It brings me back to snack time in Japan, when my mother would bring me rice crackers and a steaming cup of tea. Being a mother myself now, I can also look back on those loving gestures with infinite gratitude.

8. My kooky cats. Not to sound like a crazy cat lady, (ok, I actually am well on my way to becoming one of those) but I think cats are these fascinating creatures. Such personality! Our cats are hilariously weird, super cuddly, and very very patient with Julie.

9. I am obsessed with these chocolate covered frozen bananas that they sell at Trader Joe's. Simple desserts are often the best, I think.

10. The humble chia seed. (I'm just realizing that my gratitude lists are overwhelmingly about food. Anyway...) Chia pudding literally takes no effort to make, it's incredible for you, and can be made into chocolate or vanilla varieties. I like it for breakfast best.

May 23, 2014


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

Mesmerized by the jacarandas in full bloom. 

Last week's favorites--little sleep, no frills mum, lamb loves fox

May 20, 2014

what we ate

Now we are getting to the point where Julie can eat most of what we do, if only a little less "spiced up". It makes a world of difference to not have to prepare two different sets of meals! This makes for a happy mama AND a happy toddler, as my food has always looked terribly enticing to her, even when she couldn't eat it. Isn't that the truth, though--other people's food always looks better! Right?!

Breakfast: Millet porridge with daikon, carrots, onions, and miso
Snack: Green smoothie
Lunch: Quinoa salad with jicama, black beans, and cilantro (mama), quinoa with natto, ground flax seeds, and broccoli (Julie)
Snack: Grain and seed crackers with hummus, strawberries, almond milk
Dinner: Sweet potato lentil soup from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone (one of my top 5 cookbooks!) over brown basmati rice, dark chocolate (mama)

May 17, 2014


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

Kissy bugs all around me. I really love this family of mine.

May 14, 2014

10 things i'm grateful for

1. Gelato on a scorching day. Oh spring, where did you go??

2. Our new balcony garden. We are all thrilled about it! There is something about tending to nature that calms the soul.

3. I recently started using this perfume, which promises subtle shifts in mood (yay flower essences!) and I have to say I have been feeling much happier and calmer these days.

4. I finally got a pair of these shoes, and they are insanely comfortable. Considering the fact that we walk somewhere every single day, it makes a world of difference.

5. The infinite uses of soap nuts--laundry detergent, body soap, shampoo, house cleaner...Amazing stuff.

6. My high powered blender makes a mean green smoothie. We've been making a lot of those lately, most of which gets immediately consumed by Julie, the smoothie fiend.

7. The joy of eating a freshly steamed artichoke, dipped in garlic aioli

8. Shea butter. This is the one and only thing that has helped Julie with her eczema. It also comes in all sorts of yummy (natural) scents as well, for those who have an aversion to the unscented version.

9. A high chair that can be wiped down vs needing to be thrown in the wash. That gets gnarly fast, so we made the switch and couldn't be more pleased.

10. There is this park nearby that we just can't get enough of. There are horses, rolling hills, and it is never crowded. Some places just have a special kind of energy...

The Collective-1

Just to let you know--this week I got to do a guest post for the lovely ladies over at Bugs & Peanut.
They have an awesome blog about parenthood, among many other things! I'm so excited about it :-) Their Collective project has many amazing women contributing to it, chronicling the completion of their bucket lists. Here's the link to my first entry. And do check out all of the wonderful entries! I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day!

May 10, 2014


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

Her first taste of "ice cream". Frozen blueberry mouth. 

May 8, 2014

from the bookstack

Ever since I can remember--before I could even read--I have loved books. And on that wonderful day, when I was able to make sense of the letters on the page, and how they come together to form infinite combinations of verse, there was no turning back from a lifetime of blissful immersion in the written word. I was the child who read books under her desk during each and every class. When given the option of reading or another activity, books always were the clear choice. I find myself now with an ever growing library (not to mention a full Amazon wish list), and love nothing more than to share my love of books with others. I am often called upon to recommend books to friends and family; thus this little series is taking form.

1,2,3...The Toddler Years
by Irene Van der Zande with the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center staff

Julie and I have been having one of those weeks. It has been long and trying, and I have been finding myself raw and depleted by the end of each day. She's on the threshold of mastering so many new and exciting things, and I know such transitions can be marked with a mountain of frustration along with the joy. Unfortunately, I am not the most patient person in the world, to phrase it mildly. Tantrums and whining test my limits quickly, and gentle, empathetic responses do not come naturally to me in these situations. Still, out of all the parenting ways out there, attachment parenting and non-violent communication resonate for our little family, so I am working hard to cultivate a kind and compassionate attitude in the face of toddler mayhem. Through the hugely inspiring parent and child class we attend at our local Waldorf school, we've gleaned some wonderful information, including some knowledge of the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) philosophy. This philosophy, which emphasizes respect for babies and young children, the validation of feelings, and gentle conflict resolution, has been invaluable to us.

I finally got my hands on "1,2,3...The Toddler Years", and tore through it in a night, furiously highlighting and dog-earing all the while. The book explains with clear examples how RIE can be put into practice in real life. Real situations from the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center are used to demonstrate specifics, such as dealing with tantrums, setting limits, and helping little ones navigate the volatile terrain of playtime conflict. The cornerstone of this philosophy rests on helping toddlers to name their feelings ("I can see that you're really upset about..."), recognizing their right to their feelings, and remaining sympathetic and kind even while setting firm limits. The book also explains how we can give our toddlers choices within the boundaries we set ("Would you like to drink out of the red cup or the yellow cup?"/ "Would you like to walk here by yourself to clean up, or shall I carry you?"). It was eye-opening stuff to me, and gave me so many ideas for how to regain some peace in our days. The book was also a fantastically easy read, with short chapters--perfect for the frazzled parent who has no energy left at the end of the day. This is a great book for parents or caregivers who want clear scenarios with real life dialogue, easy reading, and who want a concise intro to RIE. Happy reading!

May 4, 2014

10 things i'm grateful for

1. That rare morning when I am awake before the rest of the family, and can revel in the hushed peace of those hours alone.

2. A veggie burger from The Counter. If you are anywhere near one of their restaurants, please please have one. They are beyond wonderful.

3. Finding hidden gems in our neighborhood. We found the perfect little plant nursery yesterday. It was tucked away on a little side street, mere blocks from the hustle and bustle, but was perfectly serene and beautiful within its gates.

4. Hitting upon the rare meal that my toddler adores. I made this vegan mac and cheese yesterday from the incomparable Chloe Coscarelli ("Chloe's Kitchen" is the book), and she was grabbing fistfuls of this stuff. James was pretty excited, too!

5. Sunday--Pancake Day. I hereby declare this a lifelong tradition.

6. A TV show that James and I can agree on, and get totally addicted to. We marathon watched the first season of "Girls", and it was so well written and acted, and bizarre in a good way. I know I'm late to the game, but...

7. A moment to play the piano. Recently, Julie has been tolerating, and I daresay even enjoying my rusty attempts to play childhood pieces. It's nice to have the chance to indulge in creative pursuits again after a very long hiatus.

8. Those moments within a marriage when you see your partner through fresh eyes again. James started teaching me the guitar last night, and it is always such a joy to see these new aspects of him. It turns out that he is an awesome, patient teacher.

9. Having a badass musician husband.

10. Simplifying, and making space in my life for things that I truly love. I'm starting with shoes--the old ones that have expired years ago--and proceeding through our entire space. It feels great to have more room for energy to flow.

May 3, 2014


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

Wandering through a secret garden.

May 1, 2014


This is my audition entry for the Sakura Bloom Sling Diaries. I had such an amazing time writing and photographing it. They are an incredible company, and such a pioneer in revolutionizing babywearing.


Living takes courage—there is no doubt about it. For much of my life I have fought against an undercurrent of uncertainty. Being whisked away at a young age from all that I had ever known and loved, to a culture that was merely mine by heritage, and having no choice but to assimilate quickly, with my fears hushed, left its indelible mark. So, too, did the subsequent coming and going from culture to culture, as I strived to find the self that I had lost through those chaotic years. A broken record cycle of Japan to America, as I searched for anything to bridge the cavernous space between family members and friends on either side of the cultural divide.

I tried so hard to fit in wherever I was at the moment, and the fear of displacement was real, and paralyzing. And yet, with every fear, there was always that beautiful moment, when I realized that I had become free of it somewhere along the journey. Sometimes it is only in retrospect that we see just how courageous we have been, and how heartbreakingly gorgeous the road we travelled was.

So it is with motherhood. As I hurtled through the door, leaving behind many years of infertility, and the desperate sadness that you might never come to be, I came face to face with you—the dream that was everything. And I was reminded anew of these hard earned lessons. Those years of coming to peace with who I am required  courage. And now, I find that with this new chapter that has you—my sweet daughter—at the heart of it, that I am called upon to be more vulnerable, stronger, truer, and braver than I ever have before.

Courage lives on in the gentle re-affirming that I am enough as I am—tangled, unwashed hair, eyes swollen from exhausted tears, birthing scars, and in those moments when the role of motherhood feels too vast to handle. You are my greatest teacher. You have taught me that my courage is limitless, for I would brave anything under the sun and beyond for you. I am learning to laugh in the face of the illusion of control, to loosen the guarded edges of my heart, and to love myself unconditionally, as I hope that you will love yourself always.

I want you to know with every molecule of your being that the courage it takes to be true to yourself is everything in life. Do not be afraid to travel the world and to be wholly out of your element, to live the line between certainty and uncertainty with gusto, because you know that you are loved, that you are worthy, and that the universe needs the unique spark that only you possess. Embrace your courage, as you are reminding me to, one moment at a time.

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