Feeling so grateful. #SundaySalutation

So, the last few months and weeks in general have just been amazing. School started up smoothly with no problems, Chinami loves school and excels in pretty much anything she tries. Kairu loves his part-time preschool as well and the Japanese church group, the sports/motor skills clinic, and library storytimes I take him to.

Weekdays are usually pretty nonstop especially since Chinami has Japanese school until 5pm, but weekends are our time to go out to friends houses, community events, or if nothing is going on we just walk around the neighborhood, swim in our pool, or have an ukulele/piano/accordion/etc jam session at home.

We finally got to watch Avengers Endgame on Labor Day, an impromptu potluck with friends which was amazing, and then a few days later I turned 33 and we invited a dear friend for a homemade tomahawk steak and sashimi spread made by my "presidential" chef hubby, and watched Battle Angel Alita, and was gifted a nintendo switch by my family. On Friday, the kids and I went to a local kid friendly karaoke bar for dinner just for some fun and lots of singing. A week later, this past Friday night I hooked up a projector to my laptop and we watched Phantom of the Opera for the Friday 13th/Full Moon.

And now today, my husband and kids went to Ala Moana beach to play while I worked at the local Japanese radio station, at the Japanese cultural center building. My job is recording, editing and broadcasting a radio program from Japan with a 30 minute delay here, then DJ 15 minutes or so of music until I make the mixers switch to our other studio.
On my walk home I stopped by the Japanese supermarket that's also less than a block from our home, and picked up some things for our dinner tonight.
Satoshi winning the Alolan League is making worldwide headlines and trending on almost all social media. My kids are conversing with each other in Japanese as they play Pokemon on the Nintendo Switch.  Tonight I work in a call center where I'm expected to have a near native level of Japanese.
And I just feel so grateful that I'm here, living this life.
20 years ago, when I was 13, I became interested in Japanese anime and wanted to learn the language. Some people supported me, others just falsely claimed they did while simultaneously calling it a "phase"....or referring to my hobbies with racist slurs.

But just like Satoshi never gave up on his dream, I am here living mine...in Hawaii, with my happy, hardworking healthy little family.

Which makes me think of another aspect I really liked about the Sun+Moon arc of the Pokemon anime....Musashi and Kojiro both came from absent/abusive families and for the first time, in the Alola region, they were able to find a place resembling a home, a caretaker, and run a legitimate successful business. It really hit home for me since for me Hawaii was the place I found my dreams and my home as well. Yes, I have to work nights and a second day job and rent our guest room out, but it's worth it for this amazing life!


Intermittent Fasting Update - 2 months and 10lbs down!

I've been doing Intermittent Fasting for two months, and I'm happy to say my weight is down to 118, which means I've lost 10lbs or over 5% of my body weight in just two months! It was pretty effortless since I mostly slept during my fasting days.
I've also been trying to incorporate more exercise into my days. Sundays and Mondays I focus on family and resting, Tuesdays are tummy days so I try to fit in a few sets of crunches and V sits. Thursdays are thigh days so I do squats and wall sits. Wednesday and Friday I do 20-40 minutes of yoga, and Saturday I do 7 minute workouts.
However, summer has started which means I'm with the kids a lot more, which makes it difficult to do a 24 hour fast. So from June, I've decided to adjust a bit and just aim for doing 18 hour fasts 3-4x/week instead of 20-24 hour fasts twice a week.
It's so exciting watching my weight steadily go down and I feel so strong and healthy on the days I exercise. Now I just need to remember to be patient. I gained 18lbs gradually over 1-2 years, and it may take me as long to get it down to my goal, and as always, health is a life long commitment, not a temporary fad!


One month of Intermittent Fasting - Why, How, and results!

I often hear "gaining weight is easy, but losing weight is difficult." I've never actively tried to do either, but I grew up watching my mother struggle with yo-yo dieting, trying all the "fad" diets (Remember Atkins? and its still trendy successor Keto? and now gluten-free/paleo/etc) and getting down to around my size, then ballooning back up to "plus size" in no time. To me, it seemed like the problem was less about gaining or losing weight, and more about imposing unsustainable, unnatural restrictions on yourself only to go back to the exact same habits later, and be surprised when you return to the exact same state as before.

A little over a year ago, I started working for the call center and commuting 4 miles each way by bicycle. At first, it was kind of hard. My legs and core would especially be pretty sore the day after I worked. And then after a while, it became routine. And now, I have no problem riding 4 miles in 30 minutes, 6 times per week. And I generally enjoy making healthy meals with half the plate being colorful fresh vegetables most of the time.

However, sometime over the past few months, my weight crept up. Maybe it was the holidays, maybe it was the office snacks (always having a sweet treat with my coffee in the morning!) maybe my weekend glass of wine, whatever it was I needed to make a change. My weight which had hovered around 110-115 for the past 6 years or so except for pregnancy and immediate postpartum, had crept up to almost 130. For reference, when I lived in Japan I was at 125, and when I was in high school guzzling 2-3 sodas per day and thinking cheese/french fries or cheese/white bread was a legit meal I was 135. My pants were getting tight, my belly had a distinct soft layer, and I knew that it was time to do something.

So where could I make a change? Doing something like giving up all sweets, alcohol, etc. was unsustainable. I enjoy socializing and enjoying all kinds of foods and special occasions with my kids. Enjoying some cookies or cakes or a glass of wine on Saturdays wasn't the sole factor.

When I was at work, I usually snacked, ate something sweet with coffee for breakfast, and when I came home, I would eat something again before my nap. I realized that even though I was riding a bicycle I was still sitting for 10 hours, and then taking a nap at home. Was it really necessary to be eating at such regular intervals? Why did I just keep getting hungry again after a few hours?

Then I read about Intermittent Fasting. I read about the science behind fasting, the way it can regulate and reset digestion and blood sugar, and burn fat. Everything I heard so far about eating 6 meals per day, "keeping metabolism going" and "starvation mode" seemed a little far-fetched by comparison.

If I did a 24 hour fast. I could simply stop eating from after dinner before I went to work on Monday, and keep fasting until dinner on Tuesday night. On a fast, you were allowed to drink green tea and black coffee. On Tuesdays, I usually slept and recovered from Sunday and Monday nights work. If I fasted, my body would have a chance to recover as well.

I decided to try it, starting on April 2nd. Surprisingly, I only drank lots of water, a few cups of green tea, and a cup or two of black coffee, and I did get hungry for 10 minutes or so a few times, but I was able to fast for a whole day with very little difficulty.
I was surprised, because I always thought of snacks and chocolate as "fuel" or "quick energy". However, I found out that while I was fasting, I actually felt LESS hungry, and I felt like I had MORE energy, than while I was eating a cookie or a chocolate every couple hours!

I enjoyed the fast so much that I decided to do a shorter 18 hour fast from Wednesday night to Thursday. And on Wednesdays and Fridays, instead of eating the minute I woke up, I decided to wait until I did the 25 minute walk taking Chinami to school and coming back.

And then I did the same routine the next week as well. 24 hour fast, normal day, 18 hour fast, delaying breakfast until after a bit of light exercise.

After 2 weeks, I had lost 3 lbs, and I felt much better and more energetic.

And now, after one month, I am down 7lbs and have a lot more energy.

If I continue like this, I can see myself being able to cut down to 110lbs or so within another 2-3 months. And coupled with the addition of light exercise in addition to my regular 30-60 minutes of cycling and or walking every day, (planking at the park, yoga in the morning) this could mean an amazing transformation for my body. It's all very exciting, and above everything, it's sustainable. It's not some impossible harsh diet that I'm going to quit as soon as I've reached my "goal". I can keep fasting in my routine for life, tapering to a shorter fast or just once per week to reset and rejuvenate myself once a week.

I hope to update this blog next month with more progress!

Links about Fasting+Science:


#ThrowbackThursday February anniversaries

http://33sammi32.blogspot.com/2016/02/take a little time and reflect on our family's February milestones.

In February 2019....
It has been 14 years since Yasushi and I met, and 11 years since we got married.
7 years since we started our life in Hawaii, and also 7 years since I stopped using shampoo in my hair (no-poo, google it!)

It has been 6 years since I went NC with my parents, after trying to suggest various types of mediation and therapy, only to be met with hostility and psychotic threatening/stalking behavior.

It's been 4 years since Yasushi was promoted to head chef at his workplace. In the revolving door of restaurants in Honolulu, his restaurant has not only managed to stay afloat, but he has curated and prepared multi-course meals for various prominent figures and celebrities such as our mayor, Hakuho, and of course, President Obama and his family.

And even though I started working at my company (one of the biggest names in Japanese travel) in October 2013, the achievement award ceremonies are held in February, so just yesterday I received a lei, a certificate, and a monetary bonus commemorating my 5th year working for the company.

For such a short month, February has a lot of big milestones for us.

And 3 years ago, around this time, I was hugely pregnant and anxiously preparing for the homebirth of our son Kairu...and now, I'm excitedly preparing for his 3rd birthday party. As always, we have a BBQ at home, local style, inviting all the ones in our life who have given us and especially Kairu love and support for the past 3 years, and treating them to delicious food like grilled steak and a sashimi boat cut and served by our very own chef dad. The kids play, eat, and of course there is lots of cake at the end.
I've been gradually getting better at the planning end, and for Chinami's 6th we did a Coco-themed party with a home made banner "papel picado" style, yellow tissue paper flowers, a white guitar shaped pinata, tamales and tequila (for the adults!) and a bluetooth speaker playing the Coco soundtrack on loop. Kairu has been obsessed with "The Greatest Showman" since we saw it last year, so I started to plan a circus themed party....and then just a couple weeks ago, Kairu watched Bohemian Rhapsody with me, and now he's obsessed with Freddie Mercury! So it's going to be an interesting party, dedicated to our own greatest showman and rockstar! I hope everyone likes red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese/white chocolate topping!


A New Year!

2019 has started and it's already February.
The end of 2018 was spent with friends and lots of fun. I had my annual Kohaku viewing party on New Year's Eve, and this was the first year in 5 years I didn't have to worry about going to work at 4am the next day, so I ended up staying up way past midnight, and the kids tried their best but fell asleep before the big moment. New Year's day the kids, our dear roommate from Japan, and I went to mochitsuki, Gagaku performances, ate osechi for lunch, and visited the shrine. It was a great local style and Japanese style start to the new year. 
This year, for some reason I feel like I got a head start going in. The first month of 2019 my work schedule stabilized and I started earning almost 3x as much as I was earning back in the beginning of 2018 when I still did airport runs, plus for my commute I get to ride my bicycle 4 miles one way, 6 times a week which is amazing exercise. Now that it's February, I have a pretty good handle on my routine and am somehow able to do 3 overnight shifts per week while still taking care of my kids during the day, and keeping Kairu in preschool for just 2 days per week. 
I've also been itching to really tidy up our home, and the #konmari wave of January really gave me the extra push. I've decluttered a good amount and still have a ways to go, but I'm happy with the progress I've made. 
2019 is really the first year in a while that I haven't really made a clear resolution. We have some goals as a family, mostly financial that we would like to achieve in the next few years such as going to Japan as a family and maybe a new car in the next couple years. 

But personally, while there are some big things I would like to start doing, I'm feeling really secure with myself and satisfied to keep taking it one day, one small thing at a time. Physically, I'm in excellent health and my lifestyle is keeping me on track to many more decades of the same. Mentally, I've done a lot of healing personally. Life's definitely too short to worry about people who would willingly harm you and your family repeatedly.  With Kairu turning 3 next month, I've also gotten to a point where I don't feel overwhelmed by everything, I can take time for myself and feel okay about it. 

All in all, life is definitely a lot more fun when you have less to worry about! #blessed


Ready for Christmas!!

Growing up in Pennsylvania and spending time in Japan, I know what winter is supposed to be like. Snow, pine trees, hot cocoa and soup, etc. So for some people spending Christmas in Hawaii would seem a bit monotonous. 
But Hawaii has its own unique winter. The temperatures drop just enough to make fuzzy blankets and hot showers at night feel good. During the day we have trade winds and light rains that almost look like snow when you see the drops fluttering around in the wind. 
Honolulu has its own unique holiday events, in addition to all the amazing unique traditions and cultures shared by the families that live here. Every year I enjoy watching parades, seeing the City Lights display, riding a christmas trolley, and taking pictures with a Santa who wears an aloha shirt. Our condo and surrounding buildings on our street have fantastic light displays, and this year I even joined in decorating my lanai window with a simple yet bold design--a string of lights taped up into a triangle shape, with a color-changing star at the top. From the street, it looks like I have an amazing Christmas tree in my window! My actual Christmas tree is a "pop up" style rainbow tinsel cone that we decorated with all of the usual ornaments like my signature spelling of "LOVE".
We have a big stack of presents by the tree for all of us, not including the loft bed that needs to be put together. Since we usually don't spend money on things like furniture and such, many of our Christmas gifts are household items. On my husband's birthday, I upgraded our coffee table from a low folding wood one to a nice false marble lift-top table, since Yasushi prefers sitting on the sofa to sitting on the floor. I still have the old one folded up just in case for parties and such, so it's not a waste. For Christmas, Chinami is finally getting a loft bed, which will really optimize and organize our bedroom space. I think I'm a bit more excited than anyone for it!
Of course there are things like video games, etc. non essentials, non practical items I would love to buy but this year seeing family and furniture came first. 

2018 was definitely a great year and a year where we came first. We welcomed some great people into our home, we had an amazing family vacation where my children could get in touch with their roots on my side, and I took another step forward in my career and in my personal pursuits. Speaking of which, once again a door shut and a window opened. In December, I was told my hours would be cut, and instead of working 2 overnights and 1 morning shift, I would only be doing 2 overnights. However, the following week, one of our overnight ladies announced she would be leaving us, freeing up two overnight shifts, one of which I was able to take over starting next January. So instead of being uncertain, having Tuesday and Thursday free but not sure if I would be able to find a job to occupy the strange hours, and having a pay cut, I got another pay raise (more hours than before and at the higher overnight rate!) and Tuesday and Thursday can remain as "rest" days. 
So that is part of the reason that I am here on Christmas Eve, awake past midnight despite having worked overnight shift yesterday. Doing overnight shifts two days in a row(and then again one day later) is not going to be easy, but it's the best option for me to be able to provide for my family and still have time to spend with my kids and pursue my own personal projects in 2019. 
Merry Christmas to my beloved family, and may 2019 bring you peace and success. 


Reflections as we near 2019

After we returned from our trip, the time seemed to fly by. Soon, Halloween was already upon us, and instead of doing a Dias de Muertos /Coco theme, the kids and I decided on the Greatest Showman. It gave me a chance to wear the amazing sparkly dress I got as a gift from my dear "aunty" Rachel X when we stayed with them in Pennsylvania (I wore the dress plus gave myself a beard with face paint, easiest costume!) it gave Kyle a chance to shine as the star of his first real Trick or Treating excursion (he walked it this year!!) and Chinami was an amazing "Ann", it was perfect! And since Yasushi was off work this year, he was able to join in the fun and have his first Trick or Treating! Since he is tall, he played "the elephant" using the hat Kyle had used for his very first Halloween at 7 months old. The kids' costumes came together at the last minute, using lots of tacky glue and other sneaky techniques but we got lots of compliments!
After Halloween it was already November, and just like that, it was already Thanksgiving in just another week or so! Yasushi's workplace closed for dinner on that day, so I went shopping little by little during the week to amass all the ingredients we needed for our family feast -- a turkey of course (7.99 for a 15 pounder from Safeway with an in app coupon) some mixed wild rices and quinoas for our "stuffing" which is really takikomi wild rice with the turkey neck/tail/giblets, celery and carrots, creamed spinach which was my favorite dish at Boston Market and something unique to my American heritage, some brussels sprouts and corn, and this year instead of having mashed potatoes and doing sweet potato/kabocha pie and the like, I changed it up a little and just threw a bunch of different kinds of sweet potato (traditional orange yams, Japanese yellow satsumaimo, and "local" Okinawan purple) and some kabocha for good measure into the oven all wrapped up in foil when I put the turkey in. And for dessert, we had a special "new" family dish-- pumpkin butter mochi! Kyle has always loved butter mochi, since he was just a baby and his uncle Brandon brought some over and he just couldn't stop eating it!! At his 2nd birthday I made a butter mochi bus-shaped birthday cake with donut tires. And so I thought for our family Thanksgiving it would be appropriate to incorporate this piece of our family culture into the menu, and got us some butter mochi mix, and some canned pumpkin, and did a little adjustment and made it all work.
This year, I worked overnight on Wednesday, plus we were invited to a lunch potluck, so more than ever it was so important to prepare as much as I could ahead of time. On Tuesday I started the dry-brine on the turkey and put it in the nylon baking bag. On Wednesday I made sure all the ingredients were put together and grouped in the fridge, and on Thursday in the hour between coming home and leaving for the potluck I double checked and made sure everything would be ready to shove into the oven and push the "on" button on the pressure cooker when we got home around 1-2pm so I could nap for an hour or so before waking up again to check on things and clean up, and heat up the creamed spinach.
At the potluck, they had a microphone and amp set up for anyone to jump in and do some entertaining. So of course, with a little hesitation, I jumped in and sang a song. Kiyoshi no Zundoko Bushi. And so now everyone at the church knows that I like to sing Enka. I mean it's not something I actively keep a secret, I just never had the opportunity to bring it up, and now even people I don't know already know I sing Enka. After that a bunch of people had brought ukuleles and we had a good old fashioned kanikapila or "jam session", me with my accordion for the first time in years playing with others. It felt good!
Yasushi's friend from work came to have dinner with us and he brought us some wine. And luckily our roommate arrived home before we all passed out so I was able to make her a plate as well.
And just like that, now it's December. We have our Christmas tree up, and I even decorated our balcony door as well! This Sunday is the day of the JLPT test, which I signed up to take the N1 since it's been 10 years already since I passed it the first time.
I feel like the last few years I have lost focus on myself. But now I am getting back to my old passions. And I'm in a place now thanks to my overnight (premium pay) job where I am going to have more time to give the things I used to do another try. Sure, a lot has changed in the 6 years since I became a mom, but we'll see if I can adapt.