Tuesday, May 24, 2016

and this is four!

All week, I've been obsessing about the weather. Would it rain? Cloudy? Super windy? Why?

Well, because it was time for Rain Dragon's  Red Egg Birthday Hunt!  We invited her whole class (and some other friends) and a wet egg hunt was not preferred.  

But, thankfully, the sun shone and our backyard looked like this:

We learned from last  year to rope off the egg searching area so that no one got a head start!
strawberry souffle!
And other outdoor objects found a new use:
The Totoro House (renovated due to damage done by snow) housed some special eggs...
Everything and everyone was ready and waiting....
I try to explain the rules to a bunch of 4 year olds!

For the Red Egg Hunt to begin! GO!
the crazy chaos!

Some kids went one way:

Other kids went another:
Rain Dragon might have had a good idea where a bunch of eggs were hidden...

The labyrinth was well searched:
Unlike last year, the planets were on the ground. 
Until all the eggs were found!

After all that excitement, there's nothing like some good high-sugar cake to keep things livened up:

a Totoro cake, of course! Like all our projects now, a collaborative effort! Rain Dragon made the ducks and placed all the decorations (which is why they are all facing different directions).
For a happy birthday song and wish for my favorite four (!) year old:

i can't believe she is 4!
What did she wish? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was to have her birthday girl status everyday because she definitely took advantage of it:

She got her friend to push her all around the yard and race around the labyrinth!

Happy 4th Birthday, Rain Dragon!





Monday, May 23, 2016

On my desk Monday



Okay, not really in my desk, but floating in my living room are the leftover balloons from Rain Dragon's birthday party! More on that tomorrow...

Monday, May 16, 2016

home improvements

One of the things I have slowly realized that as a mom to a, um, persistent  child is that I cannot be a perfectionist when it comes to home projects. Rain Dragon insists on helping and, since really I am doing these projects to make her happy, I have learned to embrace my child assistant. 

A prime example is my our water barrel project. Not content to have a plain brown water barrel, I decided it should be decorated and designed it according to Rain Dragon's wishes ("Totoro!" she said, "and soot sprites! And ducks!").

However, she was not content just to be the design inspiration. She wanted hands-on work:



as well as collaboration:
can you tell what she painted?
 She was quite proud:
 "I paint ducks the best," she says.
And, I admit, she has every right to be.  When it was all done, my brief moments of frustration/disappointment at not creating my original design disappeared. Because, now, I  think it's beautiful--more beautiful than if I had painted it all myself perfectly.


What do you think?


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Whirlwind in Washington, DC: Part 2

So, as I mentioned earlier, I borrowed two dresses for the APAICS Gala (because just like my newbery dress and my Today Show outfit, I can never quite decide what to wear).  In the end, in the interests of time (wanted to make sure we made it to the gala before the locked-down for security), I wore the black dress as the other one was a bit more complicated to put on. I was a little sad about that as the other dress was really beautiful and I thought it would be unlikely I would ever get to wear it. 

However, fate had other plans for me! Just as I returned from the APAICS Gala, I received a message from Carol Rasco, the president of Reading is Fundamental. She saw on social media that I was in town and wanted to know if I wanted to attend RIF's 50th Anniversary Gala the next night:

Wow! Strangely enough, about a month earlier I had sent an art donation for their silent auction (I always try to donate as RIF is an amazing organization). When I sent it in, I remember thinking, "Gee, it would be fun to go to that Gala! Maybe someday!" Well, I guess that day was... now!

So, I put on that second gala dress and went!

In my fine (borrowed) feathers! 
No, POTUS at this gala, but who needs him when you have the Hungry Caterpillar:

Yukari Matsuyama, the manager of Children's and Young Adult Cataloguing at First Book, a big bug and me!

and Clifford:
they set up formal pictures with him that you could get prints of right there. I like to call this my RIF prom photo.
I admit, I latched onto all the people at First Book because they were all so awesome! They knew I was going to the event solo, so they brought my books so I would see some familiar faces!

The super, super nice people of First Book!
I did see other familiar faces, but mainly in the art for auction:

art from my friend Jarrett Krosocka, the bids for it went pretty high!

Everything about the gala was beautiful--the program, the food, 


and, especially, the people:
President Carol Rasco
As an author, it was quite moving. We make books and just kind of hope that our books reach the kids that need them. But it is really organizations like RIF and First Book that get the books into kids' hands. There were so many touching stories about how RIF has provided (and still provides) the only books in some households. And how their books are the biggest weapon against the "summer slump"; a time when so many kids fall behind academically--sometimes with catastrophic consequences. 

RIF honored ten people with "Legacy of Literacy" Awards, whom Carol called "RIF's heroes."  

Read all about them HERE!
And then there was the live auction--where people pledged at different sponsorship levels. It was really exciting!
can you see the top of my head?
And then lastly, to end the event, there was a "good night" reading of The Wonderful Things You Will Be--read by Lynda Bird Johnson Robb who (if I have the story correct) has been involved with RIF since her teenage years:

such a sweet book
Oh, wait, I forgot to mention the dessert. Can't forget that...definitely worth mentioning:
there was much, much more--including cotton candy--but I forgot to take photos!

All in all, it was an amazing privilege to be in the company of so many people who believe in childhood literacy and know its importance.  It was a beautiful celebration for a truly beautiful organization.

me and Carol Rasco, president of RIF

Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me! Happy 50th Birthday, RIF!















Monday, May 9, 2016

Whirlwind in Washington, DC: part 1


So, this is me outside the White House:


And, this is me inside the White House:


And this is my art inside the White House:
the cover of the new book hanging out at the White House

What is going on? Well, I was selected by the White House as one of their "Champions of Change" for Asian & Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling!
Do you see me? 
That meant, after a whirlwind of supplying appropriate materials (the designer my publisher had to get me the high res file of the art in an hour!) and security clearance, we (brought the family) zoomed (really, drove at a snail's pace because of the traffic) to Washington, DC where there was a reserved seat for me:

I stole this sign so I can frame it...
So that I could participate in a Champions of Change panel:
the panel was live-streamed HERE, but I think I sounded like a doofus, so don't worry about watching it
And met all the other awesome champions:
Quang Do, Jason Fong, Fawzia Mirza, Tanzila Ahmed, Leslie Oh, yours truly, Kayhan Irani, Jenny Yang and Selu Alofipo

Then, after that, I rushed over to the offices of First Book, to meet my friend Alison Morris and throw (and I really mean throw as I got lost going to the office and was really late!) on a super fancy (borrowed) dress.  Why? Because we were headed off to a GALA. Yes, a gala--something I have never attended before (fancier than my own wedding)--to be specific the APAICS Gala:
Allison and me!  I am wearing one of the two borrowed dresses I brought with me. I ended up wearing this one because of time constraints! 
Where I met some old friends:
Me and actor Micheal Tow, who while he has had much bigger roles I loved best as Ba in Wheelock's production of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
And celebrities:
It's Hudson Yang, the kid from Fresh Off the Boat! 
But, I have to admit that meeting fellow Champion of Change, Jason Fong was the most heartwarming. 

Because during dinner, his father (Jason is only a high school student! And a Champion! I feel like a slacker!) showed me this photo:
Apparently, four years ago, Jason came to one of my booksignings and is an avid reader of my books! Isn't that awesome? I was so honored!

Then, there was dinner:

which was surprisingly really, really, really good. I was expecting lame banquet fare!

And some honors were  given, including one to Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang (Masters of None).  I really tried to meet them but no luck! Oh, well. 


And then last, but not least, President Barack Obama spoke. Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yes, the President of the United States was at the Gala:

Such an eloquent speaker! I'm going to miss him. 
I had a pretty good view while he was speaking, but when he stopped and shook hands for a couple minutes, this is all I got: 
No chance of meeting him! Smiley
But, hey, as a Champion of Change, I did get kisses from him! 
the chocolate candy kind, of course. But official presidential ones! I don't think I'll ever open these.

How many people can say that, right? Smiley