December 19, 2008

What dat mell?

Yes, Nami, it smells over here, too. My niece had a bit of trouble with her th's and s's but not with her olfactory senses. We noticed something nasty when we got home on Wednesday, but today it was even worse. I came home from dropping Mermaid off at school and noticed it again. Kicked around a few rocks, picked up some flowerpots. Then noticed the toilet paper gurgling out of a pipe in the landscaping. NASTY!

But, it was so nice to just have to call maintenance and have them there in 5 minutes flat. I LOVE RENTING!!! Now if they'd only come back and clean up the stuff that spilled.

December 17, 2008

The One and Only Hike

Before the flooding, we did go on the Hauula loop trail with Ben and Yuki and their kids. Ben is my younger brother. He and Yuki ran/walked the Honolulu marathon. Wow! They are super cool. And their kids are super awesome. Boo! (that's for Ken-ken. He likes to frighten people.)

the kids found some hiking treats on the trail.

The Rains Came Down

If you hadn't heard, this was our most memorable vacation ever. My mother in law's house was flooded last Thursday and we've been working hard to clean up ever since. We had some camera issues so I don't have any pictures, but check out here for a video my friend took in front of our house and inside hers.
And they know how to use 'em. Monkey and Ada spent Thursday morning pulling out nails after the guys ripped the dry wall out. They also learned how to use the screwdriver to pull out screws. They had a blast. Monkey told the shuttle driver this morning about it when he asked what we did in Hawaii. He looked mystified while Jesse and I just giggled not bothering to translate or contextualize for him.

Now the best part about flooding your house is getting rid of your stuff. And the best person to be when you are getting rid of your stuff (especially childhood memorabilia) is Mermaid. She brought home numerous treasures. J's shark teeth collection (he finally threw away his wisdom teeth. anyone want to join me in a chorus of "ew. gross." ?), rock collection, art pads, pencils, notepads, etc. You get the drift. She would dive into the piles of stuff, sifting for anything shiny, cute, jewelish, basically useful to a six year old kid.

We got in on the red eye and this morning had the feel of a frat house after a big party. I put Mermaid in the bath, went to lay down, realized I hadn't heard her, went in and found her almost asleep in the tub. I got her out, dressed, and fed, then went up to sleep again. Found her curled up by the heater three hours later. Woke J up around 1. "Are you going in to work today?" We were just missing the red plastic solo cups, the smell of vomit, and we had left our house a little too clean. But, you get the picture.

December 3, 2008

No one there is that doesn't love a thicker wall

If you haven't heard, we're flying to Hawaii this week. The person happiest that we're leaving would have to be our neighbor. She made another visit to complain about the noise. She made the huge mistake of telling me that she was trying to take a nap (it was 2:30 pm. like I wouldn't have killed for a nap myself). We had just gotten in that morning from driving 8 hours in traffic and I was exhausted and knew there was no sleep for me until later that night. Usually I'm conciliatory, but not then. I laid into her about how this was my home and if my kids wanted to walk around and play in their home, they had every right to do so. I was not in my finest form, but it felt good to stand up for myself. Unfortunately, now I have to make some sort of peace offering because I really don't want to live next to an antagonistic neighbor.

So everyone should be happy for the next 10 days. We get to stomp around Pammy's house and raise our terrible ruckus (kids asleep by 8, no tv, no loud music. I know, we're a earful). And our neighbors get to listen to silence. Does anyone want to borrow a key and run up and down our stairs a couple times a day just so they don't miss us too much?

Thanksgiving Weekend

I'm in the embarrassing spot on the bottom of the familyblog roll call. It's time I rectify that, though I do have a paper to write, a couple of assignments to finish, and some bags to pack.

We finally made the drive up north for Thanksgiving. Yummy food, super fun family, some trainspotting, and even some q-time with the hubby. He was my entertainment while I drove the whole way home. But you're really here for the pictures, so here are a few. I'll post some more as the week goes by since I have a feeling I'm going to be a tad busy.
in Santa Cruz

November 23, 2008

Kayaking Laguna

Friday afternoon we decided to go on another kayak expedition. There was no swell, so it was perfect for a beach launch. We put in at Heisler's Park in Laguna Beach and paddled north to Cameo Cove. The only way to the beach there is by water since Emerald Bay and Cameo Cove are gated communities. We had walked on the rocks to Emerald Bay several years ago, but never past it. The water was incredibly clear. Some divers we met said that visibility was 20-25 feet. Practically unheard of in these parts. We could often see the bottom and even Mermaid saw some orange tang. Super cool. Probably the best part was Seal Rock. It's visible from the beach we always go to, but too far to swim to. It's iced in bird poo and the smell is pretty atrocious when you get near. Look what we saw when we got a little closer. Lots of babies. The big papa was keeping lookout(totally blurry, but there's a bunch of seals on the rock). The lingering smoke provided a stunning sunset. Jesse is drying out the pieces to store until after the new year. We're traveling a lot the next month or so (or more). The kids may complain, I might be hesitant at times, and Jesse may wish he had gotten a single, but I think we've all really enjoyed our family kayak.

November 20, 2008

I heart you Muji

I'm having muji withdrawals. I ran out of my 600 yen face scrub and have spent three times as much trying to find an american replacement. It's time for a new calendar. I like the ones sans kittens. I need some new tops, not tshirts. The kids need leggings for winter. And those groovy short tights. Ok, so I actually go to akachan honpo for those, but still. I might make a trip to NYC, just to go to soho and their muji. I might have to make a Mitsuwa run soon, and see what they've got there.

November 19, 2008

Getting Crafty

If you haven't noticed, I'm a little bit befuddled by blogging post Japan. I'm just not sure where to go with it. Our schedule is annoyingly monotonous and I've been pretty swamped with school (mine, not just Mermaid's and Monkey's).

But I think I turned a corner today. I dragged the Monkey on an excursion to Jo-Ann's because I've made PLANS! I'm getting crafty! Oh Yeah!

Both families have drawn names. I drew my niece Kjr and my super cool sisinlaw Amy. I've decided to blatantly copy things I've seen online. Namely And the beauty of it is that neither my neice (she's only 4) nor my sisinlaw (nonblogger) ever look at my blog. Not much chance of spoiling surprises here. So here's the first creation. One slipper. I haven't finished the other one yet, but it's on my to do list for tonight. And a big thank you to Mrs. Fuji who taught me to crochet, supplied me with hooks, and gave me the confidence to try this even though I've only made flowers.

More projects in the works:
*reusable cloth sandwich bags using my kawaii fabric supply.
*more slippers for my kids since they seem to like them.
*a new Christmas dress for Mermaid since she's grown about a foot since last year.
*new stockings. Our old ones are either in the Christmas decorations box here or gracing someone's fireplace in Japan (sorry mom).
*I'm also thinking of something for Jesse, love of my life. But he definitely reads my blog, so not even one little clue.

November 16, 2008

Week in Review

It has been a short, but filling week. School. Homework. Then Saturday we decided to have an adventure and include some garage saling. This is after we spent an hour and a bit cleaning and decluttering. I guess we did make some room for new stuff. Jesse found a whole bunch of tools and junk drawer stuff that everyone needs, but hates to buy. And the girls were given three used handbags. The crazy part is that one is a suede Coach bag and the other is a snakeskin Oleg Cassini bag. I mean, these aren't super expensive, but they're not cheap. I mean. My goodness. The girls are giving me the Coach bag for Christmas.
"But then you'll know what you're getting!"
"That's ok."

Then we went to the beach because it was 92 degrees or something crazy hot like that. We saw some pretty cool tide pools. The water was freezing. But I managed to get a little sunburnt.

The downside of this week-
The Santa Ana's are blowing.
And parts of orange county are on fire (not close to us). But we're getting lots of smoke and my eyes sting and I can't breathe very well.
And there were protesters outside of church yelling at us even though we have an Obama Biden sticker on our car. And Jesse didn't follow the directions to keep your windows rolled up so I heard someone calling us mormon bigots (which felt like a bit of bigotry itself as he has no idea how I voted, if I contributed anything to prop 8, or how I feel about anything and I really don't think mormon bigots drive turquoise ford escorts). And they scared the mermaid, which upsets me even more (and isn't it great when you have a new reader who wants to know if we'd read the signs because she would like us to tell her what they said).

November 13, 2008

Discounts and FREE STUFF

Did you see the Snapfish Freebie on Oprah? Log on today or tomorrow and get a free photo book (Christmas present anyone?)
The catch is that you have to order it by Sunday, the 16th. Kind of a lot of work, but worth the 29.95 of freeness in my opinion.

And, I got an email with a code for 30% off at the Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic. It's only good for in store, but might be worth the trip. It's good until the 16th of November. And 5% of your purchase will go towards charity. Pretty decent deal. I've been eying a sweater at the Gap. Hmmmm. Anywho, drop me a line on my emaill (see my profile) and I'll forward the coupon to you.

What other freebies do you know about?

Montana de Oro State Park

November 12, 2008

Morro Bay

We celebrated Veteran's Day by camping with J's twin brother Christian, his wife Da and their little Enzo. We also got J's sister Kaity and her family to come: Danny, Gio, and Zeke. We spent the first night at Morro Bay State Park. We brought the kayak, but it was so windy it had one voyage and then no one wanted near it.

The second night we spent at Montana de Oro State park, also near Morro Bay. The boys went surfing Monday morning. We went to meet them and took the kids extreme hiking. We ignored the habitat restoration sign because it sure looked like a trail (which was WRONG. WRONG. WRONG. The trail was at the far end of the parking lot without a sign to mark it. Next time we'll know.) Ended up taking the kids down a cliff and up a gully. Zeke felt in need of a hug after the ordeal. If you haven't been up, I'd suggest making the drive. It's really beautiful. We all had a lot of fun. J is new to car camping since he grew up on a small island. He's trying to figure out the allure of it. He did like the foil dinners we made.

We spent Tuesday in Santa Barbara and dragged everyone on a death march into the mountains. Of course we didn't have enough hiking treats, got lost at least 3 times, and carried most of the kids off the mountain. This picture is at the end of the hike. Don't they look miserable? (Our kids slept like logs that night!) Mermaid is looking forward to adventures with cousins her own age. She did not like being the big kid.

November 6, 2008

Gimme Some Candy

Way too much candy. I organized it like I saw on designmom. J thought it was a horrible idea. The kids did take the display to mean it was a free for all. We had so much candy, I tossed a red snickers bar because it didn't go into any of my groups (I also tossed laffy taffy and airheads and most of the tootsie rolls just because I read they're really bad for kids' teeth).

November 4, 2008

Have you voted?

The lines were 2 hours long when I went, but now there's no one there. I've been so excited to see so much involvement this election cycle.

If you haven't voted yet, go!! Even if it's a provisional ballot, GO! VOTE!

Civics for kids

Tonight at dinner we discussed the upcoming elections. We've been trying to impress upon the kids the importance of voting. And that this election is special since there's a good possibility that the first African American will be voted into the presidency.

Mermaid said, "I'd vote you Daddy."
Monkey said, "I'd vote for Heavenly Father." And then added, "I think Daddy would win. He runs fast." (run for office. get it?)
And Mermaid has been noticing all the election signs around school, so she made her own.
"Vote for princess."

October 31, 2008

I always have treats in my trunk

Trunk or Treat was a howling success no thanks to my black mood. I hate it when I do this. I put tons of energy and work super hard and then resent it and don't enjoy myself. It helped that I dressed up as a witch.

My mom made the fabulous fairy dresses with detachable skirts. Brilliant! The girls and I carved their pumpkins earlier that day. Not incredibly scary or spooky. You can see heart eyes, noses, and mouths if you look closely. As Jesse noted, most holidays end up looking like Valentine's Day around our house.

I made some chili for the cook off. It needed more beans, but I'm a novice at this. Our ward doesn't give out prizes like the Westchester 1st (very cool aprons). See Sara's post for all the pretty pics of their trunk or treat. How come we can't have designers on our activities committee?

Scary Lunch

I bet you were wondering where FUN MOM has gone. Well, she made an appearance this morning to make the spookiest lunch she could manage on short notice.
Can you tell it's a sandwich with a face cut into it? Boo juice and Witch Noses (mandarin orange slices). Thanks to whoever gave out halloween pretzels at the trunk or treat last night.

October 29, 2008

Get a Job

Or don't. J's on the market. For a job. Tonight we went over his timeline of when to turn in various applications. Then I mentioned that I did have other things to do, like my homework. He gets a little caught up in this job mania (he calls it providing for the future of our family. I thought that was why I was going back to school.)

As excited I am of the prospect of possibly getting a job (trust me, all your good wishes mean nothing in these horrible economic times) I've really come to adore grad student life. Ok. I really want a bigger house and something besides industrial carpeting. But leaving our life here is almost unbearable. Especially if we're moving to middle of the country, not close to any family, gun totin', red leanin', (but cheap housin') America. Oh. I forgot. That's where I grew up (did have family close by. Was that 22 in the closet loaded, Grandpa?) Jesse's excited about living somewhere new. I'm afraid I might be moving back to the 'burg, except it's in Ohio. Might be fun living in a swing state. ok. google professor, images and it comes up with this. Am I the only one who had one of these growing up?

October 26, 2008

Tour Newport Bay

I promised pictures. So here they are! On Friday, we did a tour of Balboa Island, Lido Island, and parts of Balboa peninsula. The kids were bored about 20 minutes into it, but they were stuck in a boat with nowhere to go. Mermaid resigned herself to her fate and Monkey took a nap. It seems fitting that we saw a loose seal (probably a sea lion) but in this area, they're all lucilles. I would hate to have that thing poo on my pretty boat. We stopped at the Lido playground. I haven't seen a merry go round in years. And there's a reason why. They are so dangerous. Nobody got hurt this trip, but I remember kids breaking their arms on them when I was little.

If you're dying to know about our boat, it's a 20 year old Klepper. The wood frame comes apart in pieces and the skin comes off of that. It stores in two large bags in our closet, which is how we fit a kayak into our house. They run a pretty penny $3000 new, but 20 years will depreciate even these lovely boats. We are looking forward to some longer trips; Catalina, Big Sur, a lake would be nice.
Thanks to Adam for the waterproof housing for our camera.

October 23, 2008

Picture Day

Here's my girl. First grade mug shot. I love how she looks so much like Jesse when he was a kid. Of course, she's way cuter. I don't have a picture of little J, but here's one of me in 2nd grade.

Heat Wave

I know it's autumn in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere. I've seen friends' blogs with pictures of snow. BRRRRR! I have this display on my table to remind it is October. But yesterday it was 98 degrees. WOW! Now I somewhat pine for cooler temperatures (I like sweaters but I hate being cold). lawn was reseeded a week ago and really needs this warm spell for optimal growth. So instead of enjoying the fall colors. I'm watching grass grow. (really. I check it every day. at dinner last night I couldn't stop talking about how exciting it was that the grass finally started growing.)

October 22, 2008

Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree

The Pumpkin Patch cousins told me a couple of years ago the trick to making pumpkin puree. Throw the whole pumpkin in the oven at 350 for about an hour. When fork tender, pull it out. The skin peels off with a fork. Cut it in half and remove the seeds and guts. I put the flesh in a colander with a plate to weigh it down a bit to get rid of excess moisture. This Illumina is so sweet. I may just snack on it a little while before I make a pie.

October 21, 2008

Scout Bekah

Though I tried to lay low, I got a calling last week. I'm the Bear Scout's den mother. Don't they know I'm the kind of mother who eats her cubs?

So, I'm supposed to teach the boys how to do an outdoor flag ceremony and participate in that ceremony. I'm really hoping the whole ward is doing this because I don't have a clue.

Here's a confession. I'm not very patriotic. Here's another. By some odd coincidence, all the boys I dated were Eagle Scouts.

My mom said "at least you're not in primary."
I said, "I'd rather teach the Sunbeams."
She said, "Oh. . . good luck."

Week in Review

We've taken the kayak out twice so far. Super fun. Our next kayak adventure will be "Yachts of the Rich and Famous." Meaning, we're going to tour Newport Bay and this time I promise to take pictures.

Mermaid had a Fall Festival at her school. She wore her yukata anticipating a matsuri (festival). Sorely disappointed. "Festivals in Japan are way better."

I got a B on my midterm test. There were 100 multiple choice questions. I did not study that hard. I am unashamed. Maybe I'll study more for the final. Maybe. I will turn in a stunning paper. Next semester, I'm just taking one class. Not online.

Mermaid got her progress report back. She has several areas that "need improvement." I think everyone needs to take a step back and remember that she's only 6 and if she's anything like her parents has 15+ years of school left. I'm considering burning her grades for at least this year.

October 20, 2008

Borax-who'd have thunk it

It's funny how it takes Grist to tell Jesse to tell me to try Borax. I noticed a box of it at Target the other day and threw it in my cart. For $4, it's worth a try.

It's been around for ages, but I'm not sure if I've ever used it. WHY? I don't know. Because it works like MAGIC! Sprinkle in with your whites-gleamy sparkly clothes. Clean your tub and sink to glistening brilliance. This stuff is good.

Oh right. It's totally cheap and way less toxic than almost everything else we use to clean. Go get some. Go.

October 16, 2008

$3.35 a gallon

$62 a barrel. Really. I'm sorry that the oil companies bought at $142 a barrel. Sorry for them. But not sorry for the insane windfall profits those same companies made last year and are planning on making this year because you know they're buying, buying, buying right now.

So gas stations in orange county, better lower your prices real soon or people are going to get really mad.

October 14, 2008


I haven't had Birkenstocks since I was in high school and wore them paired with wool socks. Yes, I know, the 90's were pretty sad. But now if Jesse gets an interview at Linfield, I'm so ready. The economic downturn has done wonders for my wardrobe. So many stores are going out of business (including Shoe Pavilion on Barranca) so I got a pair of Birks (originally priced at 69.99) for $14. And a pair of fancy black boots for $16.99 (originally 169.99). Luckily, they're made of leather so I can boil them into a broth if J doesn't get that job.
Other stores that I've seen that are going out of business in the Irvine area: Mervyns and one of those home stores like linens n things by Old Navy near the mall. Any other deals out there? Do tell!

Little Bear

The Mermaid has started reading her latest trilogy, the Little Bear books. She and I think that Little Bear is pretty kawaii. And he has such great ideas. Mermaid is supposed to dress as her favorite literary figure for school on the 31st. I've convinced her to dress up as Little Bear when he goes to the moon. It seemed so much easier than Laura Ingalls or any of the Disney Princesses she so admires. I have a feeling that when her Rose Fairy costume comes, she'll prefer wearing that. But I'll keep a cardboard box and coat hanger on hand just in case.

October 12, 2008

Live Oak Canyon Pumpkin Patch

Have you been? We went yesterday and spent hours on rides, three times on the pony ride, twice on the bounce house, twice on Rat Race, what felt like hours on the slides. The kids had so much fun! We met up with Kaity and Danny and kids to make it a cousin party, too. Nothing warms the heart more than to see your girl be the designated driver for Zekey. Or to watch your 3 year old on the Euro Bouncer. And nothing like your husband on the Euro Bouncer to get you hoping he doesn't throw his back out.

October 10, 2008

I Like to Ride My Bicycle

This is big! The Mermaid has learned to ride her bike w/o training wheels. This is her third bike, but it was worth it. What a huge accomplishment! Meanwhile, her dad has taken to salvaging (stealing, lock picking) abandoned bikes. You can hear Miles in the background. Telling her not to go too fast. It's pretty cute how he's looking out for her.

My Method-Grapefruit

I know there's so much more going on than keeping house, but if you must...
I HEART Grapefruit Method. I love to clean my sink with it. I use it in my kitchen and on my kitchen floor. I love the way it smells. And it cleans quite nicely, too. I love that it's gentle on the earth and on me. I also love that it's at Target. Convenient. And Yays to Big Boxes who put good stuff on their shelves. Love that!

Cousins in Cali

So fun to see the Mikey and Nami. It was actually hot at the beach! Yay for socal!

October 6, 2008

You gotta know when to hold 'em

Think of me as little miss silver lining, but what stock would you invest $1000 into right now? It seems to me like a darn good time to buy. I must have a bit of gamblin' blood in me.

October 3, 2008

I heart my blender

I know it's not an incredibly inspiring picture, but this is our 4 speed vintage Osterizer blender. It was made before chrome made a comeback. I'm not sure how old it is, but it's definitely not new. (you can see our vintage toaster in the background. I keep it unplugged because I'm afraid it's going to start a fire)

But it is oh so powerful. This is smoothie making, oatmeal grinding, pesto magic in glass. My mom got it at a yard sale and gave it to me probably 5 years ago.

We've been making smoothies a lot here since it's been 90 degrees! (what's up with that?)

Here's my favorite recipe thus far:
6-8 cubes of ice
a couple scoops of OJ concentrate
Can of peaches
Trader Joe's mixed berries
handful or two of spinach
fistful of baby carrots
enough milk or soymilk to keep you from burning out.

Read Mermaid, read!

Mermaid just finished The World of Dick and Jane. I've never read them before, but Mermaid LOVED them! They are super easy and about as sweet and innocent as the Mermaid herself.

Reading has been challenging to teach her because it has always been so easy for me. My earliest memories are of stories I read. It was never a struggle. So finding stories, even if they're simple and silly, that she loves is amazing. Her reading confidence improves every day. I love watching this girl becoming a reader.

October 2, 2008

Monkey: "Hey Mom. Since you don't read your scriptures, can I put them in this box?"
She meant the teabox on display.
The answer was no.

October 1, 2008

Got me a good one

Sometimes I feel like I'm just figuring out this marriage thing. Jesse brought these home on Monday just because he knew I needed them. I'm glad he's got it figured out.

September 28, 2008

Ant Eradication

Sometimes keeping house means asking the little pests to leave. Jesse wants me to do it in a green non toxic way. Well, I tried the corn meal, we have a cinnamon barrier in front of the door, and I've put dryer sheets in crevices. The vinegar is supposed to kill their trails, but I only have sushi vinegar, so they might actually like it. Don't tell Jesse, but I'm off to Target tomorrow for some toxic, horrible for the environment substance to spray around the perimeter of the apartment. They are ruthless. And the cinnamon just doesn't compete. And just so you know, it's not just a couple of ants, they are swarming. ( do ants swarm?)

September 26, 2008

Everything I need to know I learned in 1st grade

Mermaid's school gives out little tickets for good deeds. At the end of the week, someone from each grade gets their ticket pulled and receives some sort of prize.

"I saw Mrs. R give a girl a ticket for picking up trash, so I decided to pick up trash the next chance I got. So I picked up trash at recess, and I got a ticket too! And then I saw more trash, but I had already gotten my ticket, so I didn't pick it up."

And today I got a call that she had a fever and should come home. I asked her how the teacher knew she was sick and she said "I was groaning a lot and I tried to put my head down." The nurse said she shouldn't come back to school tomorrow, but she's been fit as a fiddle since she got home. But I'd probably die of embarrassment if we had a repeat groaning performance tomorrow. So she's coming to playgroup with G. Whee.

September 22, 2008

Miraculous Mozart?

The miracle of Mozart is not necessarily that your infant will be a genius. The miracle is that while it's playing in the background, children will eat breakfast, put their shoes on, brush their hair without complaining. And though it seemed impossible since they woke up at 7:30, they are out the door at 7:45 and no one is yelling or crying. And, we get the Mermaid to school before the 5 minute warning at 7:55. How?
Mozart in the morning.
Thank you.
Wir Danken Sie, Herr Mozart.
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