Category Archives: Life

Happy Friday + Randomness

young-authors-day

Happy Friday! A couple of days ago, I attended an event called “Young Author’s Day” at K’s school. It’s a big deal — the entire school participates and all the students are shuffled into groups of about 10 kids from various grades. Each student takes a turn reading a story he/she had written, and my favorite part is listening to the “About the Author” section. They all invariably include information about their family, a hobby and a totally random factoid like how they like to eat cereal for dinner or are completely opposed to school uniforms.

K’s group was exceptional. The fifth graders blew me away with their poetry (their haikus made me want to delete all of mine from here), and K recounted how M and I got engaged, which the teacher found hilarious. There was one girl who read a story about finding a lizard in the middle of the street and how she ended up keeping it as a pet (a true story).

The first grader who went last stole my heart though. I saw how her hands trembled as she clutched her book with the green construction paper cover. Her cheeks blossomed into the color of the brightest of pink peonies, and her voice was so soft, barely a whisper, that all the kids tipped to their sides, cocking their ears to catch the small gasps of quickly strung together words. I remember being that little girl. The one who refused to go until there was no choice, the one who hoped that reading the story super fast would make it less frightening. I couldn’t quite hear the story in its entirety, but I saw her carefully drawn illustrations of a fox and clouds, and a little girl that looked very much like her. She beamed with relief and pride as the group enveloped her in applause and hands shot up to praise her efforts. What a beautiful, beautiful thing.

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Have a delightful weekend, my friends! I am going to RELAX. So, so, so, so excited about this.

At Mockingbird Books
I’ll be doing a reading
I feel like that girl*

I’ll be doing a storytime reading of Little Kunoichi at one of our lovely local bookstore this weekend – there might be a little bit of trembling involved…

Happy Friday + Randomness

white-peony

Happy Friday! I’m rapidly approaching the finish line for book #2 on the heels of launching book #1, and I have to confess, I haven’t been exhausted like this in a very, very long time. Luckily, I’m surrounded by energizing forces like the gorgeous blooms above, and I get emails with “poems for book?” in the subject line from my sweet girl:

Mama,

Choose between these.

                        sewing, the loud rumble rumble it makes that is very distracting
                                                 but it’s worth it cause soon,
                        sitting in your closet or on your bed is a brand knew outfit
                                      or pillow in the shape of a heart or a moon
or
                                      writing a book is a challenging thing
                                you don’t now what kind of feelings it will bring
                                    and it might not make any cha ching
                                                             but…
                                               it’s a very very happy
                                      and you might start feeling snappy
                                              or even slaphappy or sappy
i hope you put one of these in your book!!!!
p.s. if you don’t like ether one i have more way more!!!!
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Yes, email. M set K up with her own email account recently and she uses one of my old laptops to send me short digital missives from her room upstairs while I work in the living room. Heart emoji.
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As always, when I push myself a touch too hard, my health starts to get wonky, so I’m going to take Monday off to catch my breath and find my footing. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a giveaway – it’s a good one! Have a lovely weekend, friends!
I like poem 2,
but poem 1 is great too
which one do you like?

Happy Friday + Randomness

She asked, “Why do you love me?”

I said, “Because I do.”

She asked, “But why? How can you love me?”

I said, “I just do. I love you because you’re you.”

It took a long time for me to shape those words to answer those questions. My daughter and I…it has been a season of stilted talks between us, weeks of bickerings and posturings and righteous lectures and easily trampled emotions. Not always, of course, but enough times to make me question my ability to parent. I tend to assume she knows intrinsically that I love her unequivocally and unconditionally, and I forget to say the words out loud and focus too much on being right. My little girl is not so little anymore and I watch as a fledgling woman-to-be unfurls her slender neck, gazing uncertainly from her precarious vantage point, fighting to become who she intuits she ought to be.

I worry that she will think my love is subject to performance because the phrases that spill out of my mouth command action and tangible results: put-away-your-shoes-don’t-eat-with-your-mouth-open-have-you-done-your-homework-and-fed-your-frogs-hurry-hurry-hurry. When she was a baby, it was so easy to wrap her up in my unfettered affections, kissing her toes and fingers and cooing at her because she simply existed. It is a fact: I don’t know what I’m doing with this enormous responsibility I’ve been given to raise a human being and I’m swashbuckling haphazardly…

Being a mother is about having my deepest fears and my severest shortcomings reflected back at me.

It is about heartbreak and helplessness.

It is about trying to find the balance between letting go and holding tight, between trusting and guiding.

It is about hoping the biggest hope that the world will be kind and gentle to my baby, my raw and still unformed child.

Being a mother is about surrendering so fully to joy, my heart composes operatic arias of forgiveness

It is about finding courage and facing truths in my weakest moments of doubts

It is about offering up wisdom I didn’t know I possessed, alerted by unbidden instincts

It is about a love so voluminous and vast and boundless, I might soar out of my skin, crack wide open, only to be enveloped whole again.

I didn’t know any of this until I became a mother.

In gratitude to all mothers, would-be-mothers, surrogate mothers, and everyone in a mothering role.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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On a vaguely similar note but not really, I was interviewed by Nick of Picturebooking and you can listen to the podcast here. I must admit that I’ve been too scared to listen to it since I’m sure I said things that will be misconstrued or ridiculed, but it’s always good to do things outside of our comfort zone, right? That’s what I’ve been telling myself at least. I talk about my mom and K, and Little Kunoichi, who I consider my second baby, so it seemed appropriate for a mother’s day post.

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

 

Happy Friday + Call for Pattern Testers [CLOSED]

in-progress

The house: a disaster. The food: completely reliant on Trader Joe’s frozen food section. The “studio” (aka my bedroom where I sew): unspeakable.

And in an effort to walk my talk, I’m calling uncle and reaching out for help: is anyone out there willing to pattern test for book #2? I’ve already roped in a few wonderful folks, but I definitely need more testers as the sewing book I’m currently working on has over 20 projects. If interested, please email me: sanaeishida13[AT]gmail.com. These are super simple (I hope), beginner-friendly projects and I want to make sure I’m not writing up gobbledygook!

[Update: Oh my goodness!! The response has been overwhelming, and I’m beyond grateful. I have more than enough at this point and will contact you individually over the next few days. THANK YOU!]

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Okay, I feel better after typing that. Some housekeeping: Furoku membership sign ups will close at the end of today, and I’m so so so close to getting it done but I’ll need just a few more days for furoku #2.

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I was giving K a synopsis of The Age of Miracles (such a great book!), about how each day keeps getting longer and longer.

She said, “Maybe the sun had too much caffeine.”

Love that.

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Happy Friday, and have a lovely weekend!!

I’m behind behind
Not trying to humble brag
Thanks for being kind* 

*I’ve had to ask way too many people for favors (for babysitting, for extensions on deadlines, for moral support, for a hug) and I feel lucky to be surrounded by kind souls. That includes you, my friends.

P.S. I’ll be posting on Tuesday of next week instead of Monday to celebrate the official launch of Little Kunoichi!!!!!!!!!!!!! Ack!!

Here and Now

 

ima-koko

I am dying. Dying of excitement for my book launch, of course, but also in the literal sense. Three years ago, when my thyroid condition — aptly named Graves Disease — was at its most acute, my mortality was a daily reminder since my immune system kept shutting down. Compared to that period, I feel practically invincible these days. I eat a lot more vegetables and I rarely get sick, but it still doesn’t change the fact that I am schlepping toward my demise, albeit slowly, every day. We all are. It’s the one certainty in life: we have an expiration date.

I took the bus to a meeting in downtown Seattle yesterday and observed my fellow passengers. The vast majority sat or stood with head bent, earphones blaring, transported elsewhere via their tiny screens. Except for two people. A lovely young woman wearing a striped shirt plunked herself next to me and pulled out a thick, hardback book from her designer bag. I cast sidelong glances as her aqua-painted nails flipped each page as she read. Flip, pause, pause, flip. She was a fast reader. And directly across from me, a man with an unruly tuft of beard sprouting from his chin (sans mustache) rested an obviously brand new copy of Remains of the Day on his rounded belly. I watched as he sank deeply into the chapter, occasionally turning the pages back to double-check on something. Maybe he’d forgotten a detail? Maybe he was verifying continuity?

At any rate, these two stood out in the sea of digitally-immersed passengers. Books can be distractions too, but I’ve always connected more deeply to myself when I read. Perhaps that’s just me.

k-dog

I’ve been thinking a lot about presence. The here and now, if you’ll allow me.

M said the other day, “When we have some money saved, we’ll go on a nice vacation.” Something fun to look forward to, to be sure, but then I wondered if that statement is actually saying “We’ll be happier/better when we have some money saved and we can go on a nice vacation.” It’s how most of my thoughts seem to be structured.

“I’ll feel content when I look more fit and this funky cyst on my cheek is gone.”

“I’ll be better when I have a regular income.”

“I’ll be happier when I finally get the house organized.”

I know that I’ve been annoyingly bringing up how I have so many deadlines, and last night I was furiously typing away while half-focused on cooking dinner, trying to meet an upcoming deadline. Then my neighbor texted me, inviting us to have an impromptu picnic dinner out on our shared front yard. “It’s so beautiful,” she declared, “we need to be outside.” The evening was glorious and balmy, borrowing summer weather for a night. I abandoned the laptop and my barely done soup, and she fed us chicken and green beans and crock-pot pinto beans. I contributed roasted potatoes, watermelon cubes and Sardinian crackers from Trader Joe’s. We sat on batik blankets, kids and parents clustered tightly together, chatting easily the way people who have lived in stone’s throw proximity for years can seamlessly discuss memories and future plans. But we were present, in the here and now (or is it “there and then” since I’m referring to the past?).

k-creature

A diagnosis for a debilitating illness is like a clarion call, a sudden honing of the psyche to bring to fore what really matters. When my endocrinologist told me how serious my condition was, I recalled the astonishing clarity I gained when I first inserted my contacts after squinting at everything for months because I was too embarrassed to wear my clunky glasses in middle school. I felt ridiculous that I’d been walking around blind for so long. Three years ago, I may have looked and felt like a hospice patient, but it forced me to take stock of priorities: Health. People. Truly meaningful activities. Everything else felt inconsequential.

It’s funny how remission and the passage of time will slough off the sharp edges of focus. Nowadays, I’m just as digitally-immersed and paradoxically disconnected as all those people on the bus seemed. I obviously need to learn the same lessons over and over and over.

I don’t know how much time I have left and though I’m certain that I’ve been able to push back my expiration date a good chunk by changing my lifestyle, I’d like to be better at pausing and being nowhere else but here, in that elusive moment. Not my forté, I admit. I’m a natural born planner and a worrier and a get-caught-up-er. But I want to be able to have spur-of-the-moment al fresco dinners, and leisurely read books that connect me to myself, and snuggle with my loves. I’m not aiming to shirk responsibilities or to go off the grid to meditate with a swami. I just want to stop chronically prefacing every idea with “I’ll be happier/better/more content when…” and be okay with what I’ve already got going on. I want to squeeze the good stuff out of the months, days, hours, minutes, seconds…like an industrial strength juicer to get all the vitamins and electrolytes and energy-boosters. And I also want to face the less-than-good stuff — the hurts, the frustrations, the disappointments and anger — without flinching and without falling into a self-imposed tunnel of gloom. A challenge of the highest order, don’t you think?

I’m just thinking as I write, as usual.

P.S. The topmost graphic is actually Japanese calligraphy from a book by Mistuo Aida that a friend gifted me almost twenty years ago. It translates to “Here and Now”.

P.P.S. The other drawings are by K, which I keep in my journal. They make me happy and seemed to go well with the calligraphy.

Happy Friday + Randomness

seattle-mag-lk1

Happy Friday! Hey, Little K’s in a magazine! The book got a nice write-up in the May issue of Seattle Magazine, available on stands now. I loved that the fact checker asked if the islands and body of water shown in the first spread actually exist. The answer is no, and in fact, I forgot all about it until now, but I made it so that the islands form the Japanese character for “people” or “hito“. I don’t know, I thought that would be fun. I showed you the progression from sketch to final here. The other two books featured — Arrow to Alaska and Elliot the Otter — are also Spring titles from Sasquatch, so I’m in great company!

I’ve been burning the midnight oil behind the scenes on various book-related projects, and thanks to all the great productivity tips I got from you, I accomplished an enormous amount this week and I tell you, the timer trick is the way to go. I’m prone to procrastination and am an incorrigible over-planner so it can be a deadly combination.

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The winner of the pullover giveaway is Melinda, congrats!

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Thank you so so much
Love that furoku members
are growing slowly*

*I’ve never expected nor wanted a ginormous response, and for me, this gradual and steady pace feels just right. There are no guarantees, of course, but it’s starting to feel like I’m actually going to achieve my end-of-the-year goal!

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

2015-kspring-break

Happy Friday! That image up there pretty much sums up our spring break: sleeping in and blissed-out exhaustion from nonstop fun.

What’s odd is that despite being a rabid and chronic scheduler, I had virtually nothing planned, and what I did have planned shouldn’t have been fun — namely an appointment with the orthodontist:

ortho1

There’s a striking pair of walls lined with silver boxes at the ortho office, and each box contains teeth molds for all the pediatric patients (sort of creepy, sort of cool). K and I love the orthodontist, is that weird? She’s down-to-earth, great with kids, and she’s made the whole braces process a breeze for K. She even pre-ordered a copy of Little Kunoichi!

When we first consulted Dr. B almost two years ago, I noticed a before-and-after photo on the her desk. It depicted a close-up of some serious orthodontic work and showed only the mouth. The dramatic and awesome dental transformation amazed me, and when I remarked on it, she revealed that the photo was actually of herself as a teen. “It changed my life and it’s the reason I became an orthodontist,” she said. I liked her immediately.

K has had her braces for over a year and a half and soon, they’re coming off! Which means K will get retainers. As if that weren’t good enough news, the orthodontist has animal print options. She’s just out-of-this-world fantastic like that and K fell in love with her even more:

ortho2 ortho3

So the appointment was fun and she chose tiger stripes, natch. Not-the-greatest ipad photos, but the spotty socks with the stripey shoes make me smile.

And then somehow our week filled with activities organically, and the highlight was the Queen Mary Tea Room, to which I took K and one of her closest friends:

queen-mary-tea-room1queen-mary-tea-room4

They gussied up in party dresses, brought dolls with them, and enjoyed high tea in an elaborately kitch Victorian decor. They sipped Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos tea, wolfed down miniature scoops of sorbet, finger sandwiches, purple cotton candy and fruit dipped in chocolate. Notice the raised pinky. Very important.

queen-mary-tea-room2 queen-mary-tea-room3

They were gaga over the whole experience. That’s a pretty timer they had for steeping (3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes). There was swimming and impromptu playdates and mama-daughter time galore, and I just scored tickets to go see Robinhood for tomorrow and will take K and another friend.

Best. Spring. Break. Ever. At least, that’s what K said. I didn’t get a whole lot of work done, but it’s been undeniably bonding. And that’s what counts, right?

Happy weekend, everyone!

Braces will come off
Only five more weeks to go
Finally: chew gum!*

*K has lamented all the treats she missed out on Halloween and Christmas and Easter and at the top of her post-braces wish list is gum.

 

My 8-Year-Old Fashionista

animal-parade

A few weeks ago, my mom sent K a box filled with thrifted animal print clothes. Dresses, skirts, jackets, scarves, lingerie (??), hair bands, and even a backpack, though I don’t think a lot of it is meant for kids. Needless to say, K belted out a yelp of joy, and since then she’s worn nothing but outfits from that box (except for the lingerie, which is all sorts of wrong on multiple levels).

It’s a sight to behold. From head to toe, she’s generally decked out in spots and tiger stripes, and she looks as though an inspired scientist decided to create the ultimate big cat hybrid. The leg warmers up there weren’t part of the package, but they were also a gift from my mom when she last visited. They are worn frequently. Simpatico they are, those two.

As you might have guessed, this profound and torrid love affair that K is having with all things animal print is throwing me for a loop. Once she identifies her thing, she’s all in, no holds barred. I’ve maxed out on the number of feline-fur-patterned outfits I can pump out, and really, I’m wary to add anymore to her already over-the-top collection. So I’m going to patiently wait for the linen phase to start. What’s that? You don’t think it’ll ever happen either? Sigh. I think some millenial version of goth fashion might be next.

What you see in the image above are her utmost faves from the box (I’ve started to italicize it in my mind). I was going to take a photo of K wearing all of them at once as she often does, but…well, it’s a lot to take in. Did you ever have that? Some fashion item or print you just couldn’t get enough of? I seem to recall going through a big head-to-toe denim phase…

It’s officially spring break! I have minimal childcare this week, so I’ll be focusing on having fun with K and posts may be going up later than usual. Happy spring!

Happy Friday + Randomness

2015-spring-sewing-wishes

Happy Friday! Friends, I miss sewing for myself. Yes, my sloth-like progression with the Ginger jeans is still lurking in the background, but as each day greets me with promises of summer, I find myself having fantasies about pretty spring dresses, floaty tops, tunic-style t-shirts…so I thumbed through my Japanese books and monster patterns binder, and that up there is my imaginary sewing plans. Once book #2 is wrapped up (about 2 more months!), I am going to stitch myself a high quality and super versatile wardrobe, and that’s a promise I’m determined to keep. I’ve been wearing the same five clothing items every week for the last few months to conserve mental power, and I’m becoming frayed around the edges literally and figuratively. These patterns/books may help me look less Pig-Pen-ish:

Butterick 5781
McCalls 6359
Vogue 1247
McCalls 6752

Pleated-Bodice Dress
Jersey Top with Cape Sleeves
Tank Dress

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I just love all of K’s comments about this particular phase she’s going through:

M: Hey, I saw you talking on the phone with your friend. What were you guys chatting about?*

K: None of your beeswax, Daddy. Tween business.

*This is a new thing: K and one of her friends call each other from time to time using the moms’ phones and have meandering, seemingly endless conversations. A preview into teenhood…

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Happy, happy weekend, everyone!

It’s spring break next week
We’re not going anywhere
Can’t wait to sleep in

P.S. The winner of the fabric giveaway is Bonnie! Congrats!

Happy Easter + Randomness

2015-easter

Happy Friday! Do you have big Easter plans? Every year, we get together with our neighbors and have an epic egg hunt followed by brunch in our yard (weather permitting). We’re all transplants and it’s become a much-anticipated tradition. There are usually at least 10 kids running around, and it’s a madhouse in the best possible way. I keep wondering when K will be too old for egg hunts…I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re still good for a couple more years.

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Sometimes K stumps me with her questions:

Mama, would you rather be rich with one arm or poor with three arms?

It seems like it would be useful, but I’m trying to figure out how I would use three arms…

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Have a wonderful weekend everyone! I’m off to go prepare for the egg hunt/brunch!

Plastic eggs and sweets
Bacon, pancakes, food galore
Easter fun fun fun

 

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