Family outings

Another year has gone by so fast. In the past few months, I started another regular job at the local Japanese radio station which means I pretty much work full time....however my son still only goes to preschool 2x/week, and Yasushi is still the head chef of a popular restaurant, and it's not like we have the grandparents around to help out, so there are a lot of things that always need to be done!

I work hard but I also make sure to care for myself and make lots of fun memories with my rapidly growing children. As I enjoy spending time with my family,  and celebrating various holidays and festivals , I can't help but be reminded of the lack of such memories I have from my own childhood, and the memories I do have instead. Being a parent after the kind of upbringing I had is a constant journey of healing and learning like that.


Ever since I was little, I have always had an interest in learning about all kinds of culture and especially music. However, going out with my parents rarely did much to fuel my creative fire. I have very few memories of us enjoying and sharing quality time and learning together, and more memories of my parents merely dragging me along to work related events, loud, dark , crowded concerts of music I didn't like, or boring dinners at some strangers house. Sometimes I would end up feeling sick from the loud noise or the beginning of CPTSD related anxiety. As I got older, other family members and friends would take me out to sports events, science museums, church, carnivals, farm festivals and other things that normal kids and families did. Even if I wasn't super interested in everything, I was never forced to do anything and I was usually able to find something interesting about the event and appreciate the kindness of those friends and family. They would also listen to me when I talked about my own hobbies and interests. It was something I really needed as my home environment became less and less supportive and encouraging of my individuality.

Being the child of musicians, its not surprising that I have a bit of musical ability and a strong affinity for all things music. I always loved to sing, but my parents idea of enjoying music at home was playing recordings of their favorite music very loudly while I was trying to concentrate on something else. If I sang to myself or listened to some music I liked, I was usually belittled and criticized. After a while of this, I started to feel intense shame when trying to enjoy music at home. However, due to that thing called passion, I never stopped trying to enjoy music and sing. I always joined the school chorus and musicals, even though I had no confidence in my singing, I always felt good when I sang.

So when I moved out on my own, I finally had freedom to enjoy the things I loved without judgement and criticism. I joined campus clubs, music ensembles, and volunteered and participated in many kinds of cultural events. My parents called me untalented and my hobbies stupid and childish, and told me that I would never make it out there in the real world if I didn't change myself into something that they saw as acceptable. However, now that I was living on my own, in the real world, I only formed a wide circle of all kinds of supportive friends of all ages who shared the same interests.


And now here I am, a mom of 2 bilingual, bicultural kids who are 7 and 3, and learning how it feels to enjoy things as a family and cultivate a healthy, supportive home for my children. I'm so grateful for all the time we can enjoy together doing various educational family-oriented activities. Even though we don't have a lot of money to spend on leisure activities, there are always plenty of things to enjoy for the whole family that are cheap or free. I take my kids to outdoor concerts by all kinds of local and international musicians of all genres, zoo/aquarium/museum free admission days, library movie showings and story times, volunteer opportunities like park clean ups and nursing home visits, and cultural festivals and parades.

During the summer, Avengers Endgame came out in theaters and became the #1 highest grossing film of all time. I had never seen an Avengers£ film so I decided we would try watching the first Avengers movie. We enjoyed it so much that I decided once or twice every week we would watch a movie together and move through the MCU timeline until we watched Endgame.

Soon after that, we prepared for Halloween. Naturally, our costumes were little Iron Man, Captain Marvel and mommy Captain America holding the team together. We wore our costumes proudly going out to various movie showings and festivals during October, and on the night of Halloween we joined our hanai extended family for trick or treating in Kahala.

And just a short month later was Thanksgiving. Of course I planned out our dinner at home with family, but in the afternoon we were fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a delicious homemade lunch at the Japanese church, and Chinami and I were the honorary entertainment, Chinami played and sang ukulele and I sang a couple Enka songs and we sang Speechless as a duet as well. Since we regularly have ukulele/piano/karaoke singing jam and practice sessions in our living room, it's great that we have these little performances to work toward. I always feel so proud and impressed when I watch Chinami sing and play music. The lunch was an amazing mix of traditional turkey and stuffing with makizushi, tsukemono, nimono and all kinds of traditional and Japanese dishes. And our dinner menu was the one I customize and fine tune every year for our family. This year we received gifts of Japanese sauces from a restaurant distributor and we had new crop rice from Japan, so I decided I would try marinating the turkey in a half gallon of teriyaki sauce and a bit of usukuchi shoyu for a day and stuff it with whole ginger while I roasted it. It was amazingly juicy and flavorful and the skin was sweet and salty! I made butter shoyu kale and cabbage, roasted some cauliflower tots and topped with kewpie mayonnaise, furikake and minced takuan, and we had salad and fresh local sashimi as well as the good rice. For dessert I made pumpkin butter mochi and purple sweet potato pie. In previous years I made wild rice and quinoa takikomi flavored like stuffing, and two layer green and orange sweet potato kabocha pie....our traditions are evolving to fit with our family's tastes. We also had plenty of drinks, snacks, movies and games to enjoy with friends and our roommate.

The day after Thanksgiving, we enjoyed a day of joining an ukulele jam group up in a beautiful home in the hills overlooking Koko Head and the ocean, and at night we joined a tree trimming party at a condo building in Waikiki, and even watched a little bit of the Waikiki holiday parade before going home for the night.

And now at our own home, our own decorations are up and our schedule is quickly becoming packed with the various parades, concerts, parties, and such for the Holiday season. We already spent this past week at two parades, a Christmas party for children at the Makiki district park, and donated to a charity event while watching performances at Ala Moana shopping center. This week promises more of the same, and during the school holidays we can enjoy at home activities like candy house crafts, Christmas movies, and such.  After Christmas,  we close out this year with our traditional Kohaku viewing party and start the next year with mochi pounding at Japanese church, and Gagaku and sechi-ryori lunch, and a blessing at the shrine.

I'm so grateful to be able to enjoy another full year with my family. I was so happy with 2018 already, but 2019 kept the positive trends going, mostly thanks to starting intermittent fasting and my new second job. My wish for everyone is the drive to do better for themselves, so they too can experience how amazing it feels to be healthy and happy, surrounded by a warm environment and supportive tribe.

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