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Kimie Obachan

26 Sep

My grandmother, Kimie-Obachan (obachan means grandma) passed away on June 13 2014, at 10:13am. She was 91.

Papa, my dad, her eldest son, was the last to see her.  Papa took a bullet train to Fukuoka, and as it was as if she waited to see him for the last time. She took her last breath a few hours later. She left as if she fell asleep.  Very peacefully.  Papa, was her pride and joy.  He was a good son.

As I mourn, I feel sadness, and guilt.  I’m so sorry, obachan, that I didn’t see you enough…  Yes, she lived a long, peaceful, good life. Yes, she did not suffer, like my other grandma who had suffered from battling cancer for her last years. She really had a great life, and the natural cycle of life is inevitable. I know that what I feel now is my own selfish regret, regrets that is now too late. We always lived far, even in Japan, we were an airplane ride away.  Then I moved to the US, and we became much more distant. It wasn’t just the physical distance, but I got older, and life just gets filled – I can not say that I was close to her, and now I regret that I didn’t make more effort to call her or write more letters.  

My memories of her are all from my childhood.  Back when we (my family) spent the summers in Kyushu. I remember the house, the park, the river in the back. I remember going to the local fish market and her teaching me how to prepare them in her kitchen. I remember the time when she taught me how to make green tea out from scratch. I remember it was a long process, from picking the green tea leaves off the bush, to actually getting it to a tea form. She was a teacher, a kind of a teacher that after all these years, the students she taught so many years ago, still comes by to say hello. I always loved to receive her letters, with her perfect handwriting. She was a tough lady, as long as I can remember, gardening vegetables and flowers. She would pick up spiders and bugs with her bare fingers when I freaked out. She made the most awesome ume-shu (plum wine) with the plum from her tree. Lastly, she was a traditional, submissive wife to grandpa, who passed away 6 years ago. She was the little lady that stood by her husband, cooked every meal, and poured tea during the day, and sake in the evening, for him, every day. She lost her hearing in the last few years, but I always remember her cute giggles. She was crafty, and full of knowledge about many things. I wish I had taken more time to talk to her about our family, about Kyushu, and about our traditions. I have so much more to learn from her. I am sad that my kids will never have the chance to learn from her, but at least they were able to meet her once. The last time I saw her was in 2009, when we dropped her off at the nursing home. Even after we drove off, I can see her waving her arm until we turned the corner. She was not the strong grandma I remember as a child. I remember feeling the reality of “cycle of life” as I held my baby and seeing little grandma waving…

Kimie Obachan, you were a lovely lady.

Kimie Obachan

Kimie Obachan


Scott –

5 Jul

Scott –

We found out today, that you had passed away earlier this year…

I have been thinking about you all day, looked through albums, and thought about all the fun times we had.  I have only known you for a short period, but I remember having great times with you.   You were happy, fun, and always cheered everyone up.  You always brought laughter.  As I flip through the pictures, I can hear your voice.  I am so, so sad that you are gone.  I wish we kept in touch, I wish we had known you were sick, I wish we saw you again…

I am glad to have known you, even for a short time, and thank you for leaving us with such fun memories.

Scott and Me 2001

Scott and Me 2001

Love you, and miss you –


Drive me crazy!!!

12 Jun

Why do kids bring so much joy, but can also drive you so crazy?!

I was driving today, with both the kids in the car.  I think they do this on purpose, I don’t know for what purpose, but to drive me crazy.  They start with something so simple and minute, that it doesn’t even make sense that they start arguing…but they do…and always escalates into a full screaming fight.  I’m driving, trying to focus, and try to ignore the screaming match happening in the back seat…then, it builds up to such an aggravated energy, that I scream at the top of my lungs, like a crazy woman, “GODDD STOPPP!!! *&^%$!!!”  Then, immediately after, I decided to zone out of this crazy zone, and did not speak for the rest of the ride.  They, for a moment, shut up with a little shock, but they kept on.

Mia: Stupid!

Noa: No, you are stupid!

Mia: I’m gonna throw my shoe to your eye, so your eye gets dirty!

Noa: You are a female dog! (he means to call her a b**ch)

Mia: Mamma, Noa called me a female dog!  Tell him something!

Me: silence

Mia: I’m going to pee on your face!

Noa: I’m going to fart on your face so bad that you are gonna cry!

Mia: Mamma!!

Me: silence (although their argument was funny, I didn’t give in.)

I got to my destination before it went on any longer.  Wow!  Parenting always tests your limits for sure…

2013 – 2014 school year, finished!

12 Jun

June 5 2014 was officially the last day of school… for both Noa and Mia.

First, Mia –

Mamma and daddy decided to put you in preschool after realizing you were bored at home, and that you were more than ready.  We were still apprehensive about letting you go, but we found a nice preschool.  After touring the facility and meeting with administrators and teachers, we were confident that you start at this school.  When you started, it was already in January, half way done with the school year, but hey…  We started you with the VPK program, which was 9am – noon, and in March, we extended the hours to 3pm.  There were mornings that you were excited to go, there were days that you just didn’t wake up, and there were days that you just decided you didn’t want to go.  The attendance was not perfect.  However, you learned many things that you wouldn’t have, if it were not for this experience.  Of course you learned your ABCs, numbers, and the basics.  You learned some new songs and rhymes that I never taught you.  You even had homework (which you were very enthusiastic about!)  But the most important thing you experienced was facing your shyness and making new friends.  This is one of the reasons why we wanted you to go to preschool, was so that you can over come your extreme shyness before starting kindergarten.  You did struggle with this at the beginning, and still do, in new circumstances, but with the help of loving staff at the school, you were able to make friends on your own!  We are very proud of you!  It’s a small school, and the staff was so loving, they greeted you with a hugs and kisses.  I am so happy we chose this school, and grateful to all of the ladies that made my little Mia feel comfortable in this new journey.

Mia's Preschool Graduation

Mia’s Preschool Graduation


Noa –

You made it through 2nd grade!  You had a successful year once again, and I am very proud of you.  Homework was a struggle, many times torturous, and we dreaded the hours after school…  It’s not that the homework was hard, but its that you gave me a hard time to start and finish this task, which was a struggle.  It’s such a simple concept…if you got on it right after you get home, and didn’t fight with me on it, you would have the rest of the day to do whatever you want…  I’m just so relieved that I am done with this daunting task (for now.)  Wow, and you had that big science project too…which I take full credit for…  The education system which puts this kind of stress onto students and parents for the sake of getting a “good grade” is totally questionable (that is a different blog post.)  Anyways, your grades were A-awesome, so I guess it was all worth it!?  No, really, you scored high on the SAT as well, which I am super proud of.

Your 2nd grade was a good year for another reason, which had everything to do with your teacher, Mrs.R.  After the not-so-great teacher we had last year, I couldn’t have asked for a better one this year.  Mrs.R was like Mrs.S (from this post:   )  She is a true teacher.  She is sweet, but also knew how to discipline with calmness.  She pushed you with positive encouragement to do better.  What I love about her is that she kept constant communication with me, which is so vital.  She informed me on your weakness and your strengths.  I left you with comfort that you were in good hands.  I am so grateful for having her as your teacher.

This year, you have become more like a big boy, talking like one too (almost like a teenager!)  This year you were into Minecraft, Plants vs Zombies, and Pokémon.  You made new friends, and had your first sleepover away from home.  You also started eating…a lot!  You asked to go to Chipotle after school, very frequently, and are able to finish a full loaded bowl on your own!  ( I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about this for another couple of years, but you already eat as much as an adult!)  Another accomplishment this year is that you participated in soccer for a season.  Soccer was all new to you, but you learned the basics and about working as a team.  We are very proud of you for trying out new things.


Noa's 2nd Grade Graduation

Noa’s 2nd Grade Graduation


All in all, It was a great school year for both of you.  I plan to relax as much as possible over the summer break, because I know this fall, when you guys are in kindergarten and 3rd grade, I’ll have to be ready!


Silly conversations…

2 Feb

Here’s a silly dialog I had with my 8 year old son, Noa, while watching the Superbowl.  I was doing house chores while I had the game on tv.  I came back to the room to watch…

Me: Did I miss the H&M commercial with Beckham?

Noa: No, I didn’t see it.  Why do you need to see it, mama?

Me: Um, because I want to see it.

Noa: I hate him.

Me: Why would you say that?   You can’t hate anyone you don’t know personally.  Besides, you have no reason to hate him.

Noa: He’s a distraction to girls.

Me: (His comment caught me by surprise, and I chuckled.) What? A distraction?  You say the funniest things.

Noa: I wish I can slap you on your face.

Me: Why???

Noa: You need a slap on your face to put your head back on right.

Me: David Beckham is one of the best soccer players in the world, and besides, he is very good looking.  That’s why he is a distraction to the girls.

Noa: Whatever… you are distracted.

Daddy: I agree.

Me: …Don’t be jealous…



2014…New year, New things

1 Feb

New Year has begun, and January is officially over – already…

I am happy to say, new things are happening…

Noa joined a community soccer league!  He has been bugging us to learn soccer for months now.  On the day of the tryouts, we drove to the park.  As we walked towards the field, he started saying, “Umm, I don’t think I want to do this any more…”  I think he got a little nervous, seeing bunch of people on the field.  We told him “let’s just try it out, and see if you really like it.  Just have fun.”  He saw a few of the kids from school, and by the time he took the skill tests, he was comfortable on the field, and doing pretty well.  Tomorrow is his first game!  He is pretty psyched about it, and we (mom/dad) are more excited for him.  It will be good for him to be able to participate in a team sport.

Mia started preschool!  We have been pretty hesitant about this – to let our little girl leave our side – but we finally did it!  She didn’t want to let go of my hand in the morning, but the teachers told me that she was fine soon after we left.  We (mom/dad)  are sentimental about this change, but so excited that she is happy and proud about this new routine.  This is a big step for her, and for us.  She even has homework, and brags to Noa about it.  Noa stares at her (like she is crazy to be happy about homework!)

I want to make this year, a year of progression.  I am happy that we started the year off with new routines.  2014, here we go!

Redd, the Elf

7 Jan

It is December…  Christmas is only 24 days away…

My kids have been driving me to insanity lately.  They are 8 and 5, and at the “lets drive mama and daddy nuts every day, and create chaos!” stage.  Christmas toy catalogs come in, and they are busy going through it every day.  When I ask what they will ask from Santa, they point at most of the items on the ads.  Every time there’s a toy commercial on TV, they tell me they want it for Christmas.  I tell them if they behave, they will get what they want.  However, that will go in one ear and out the other and leave me yelling after them.  And this is every day.  Until last year, they were not this bad, and they were still manageable.  This year, I am really fed up.  I feel like they taunt me.

As my last resort, I have decided to spend $30 on the Elf on the Shelf this year.  I’m not sure if it will work, but I’m sick of bribing them with toys to behave good.  So here’s how it went down…

Mia and I picked up Noa from school, and on that ride back, is how it began.  I wish I recorded, because it was priceless.

Me: Hey, you guys know what Elf is.

Noa: You mean those little guys that are the Santa’s helper?

Mia: Like the movie? Elf?

Me: Yes, the Santa’s helper.

Noa: Of course I know what they are, you think we are dumb?!

Me: Hey, watch out.  Anyways, we are adopting one.  Santa is going to send us an Elf soon, to our house.  He will watch you guys to see if you will be on the good or naughty list.

The kids went completely silent.

Noa: NO!  Please don’t let him come!  I know I’m going to be on the naughty list!  Mia is going to get me on the naughty list!

Me: All you guys need to do is to behave good.

Mia: That’s creepy!  I hate Christmas now!

Noa: Me too!  I love Halloween much more because you don’t even have to be good and you get lots of candies!   Is he going to follow us, like everywhere?  I can’t take a bath if he is watching!

Mia: (almost in tears) Where is he going to sleep?  I don’t want him to come!

At this point, I am trying very hard to keep a straight face.

Me: Mia, he is not going to be a big elf like the movie.  He is a good elf, and he is going to be small.

Both the kids were really concerned the rest of the drive home.

“Is the elf really coming?” was the question of every hour until a few days passes by… and I introduced them to the “elf.”

I told them the package from Santa came in.  They were really hesitant to get close to the package.


I first read the “letter from Santa”  My son was suspicious, saying “Santa has the same handwriting as you, mama!”  I just ignored that comment and carried on with the letter.

Letter from Santa

Letter from Santa

Then read the “Elf on the Shelf” book.

Then we brainstormed for a name… and decided on “Redd.”  I placed the book on our shelf, and told the kids that Redd will come to life when we are sleeping, and not to touch him.

Noa: How is he going to get out of that box?  He’s tied up.

Me: Don’t worry, he has magic powers.

The kids stared at Redd side ways, and walked briskly passed him for the rest of the day.  Noa did his homework without any hassle that day, and both kids noticeably tried their best to behave good.  They seemed like they are nervous.

Next morning, the kids woke up to “evidence that Redd got out from the box” and another letter from Santa.

Redd got out!

Redd got out!

Letter from Santa 2

Letter from Santa 2

They checked my phone for the pictures.  I was still in bed just listening to the kids’ conversations. (and chuckling under the covers)

Mia: Oh my god!  Look Noa, he’s real!  Look what he did!  Oh my God!  How does he know your password (to the phone) and how did he take the pictures?

Noa: Where is he?  This is so creepy!

So the kids and daddy looked around the house for Redd.

And so this went on for the remaining days until Christmas Eve.

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On Christmas morning, the kids woke up to presents under the tree and also another letter from Santa.

Letter from Santa 3

Letter from Santa 3

Mia has been telling me that she misses Redd, ever since he “went home to the North Pole.”

Some of the funny comments I heard my kids say:

“I think I smell Redd on my doll.  I think he was playing with them”

When I told my kids to finish the cookies, “No, Redd took a bite, and now his saliva is on it.  That’s gross!”  “Santa took a bite too.  Eew!”

The night I baked flan and left it on the kitchen counter to cool down, “Mama, hide the flan so Redd don’t eat it tonight!”  The morning after, they freaked out because it was no longer on the kitchen counter, and I had stored it in the fridge…

Mia was inspecting her candy stash to make sure Redd did not take them.

After Christmas, we went to Target, and we saw a big banner for “Elf on the Shelf” The kids were both so surprised, yelling out, “Look, that’s Redd, what is he doing in that picture?!”  Mia whispers in my ear and says, “I think Redd is a model, because he’s in the store picture…”  I told them “It looks like him, but you know there are many elves in the North Pole, and they all look alike.”

Now that Christmas has came and went, I am really really glad that I did this.  It was extra work for me, but I enjoyed it, and the kids’ reaction was priceless!  At the end, the kids really loved having Redd with us.  I truly felt the “magic” through my kids.  Such precious time…I know it’ll only be a few more years and I can’t use this trick any more.  So until then, we will be welcoming Redd every Christmas season. 🙂