Archive | October, 2012

Grandma + Grandpa in Berkeley

20 Oct
© Photos by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

Grandma and Grandpa with me in front of the Berkeley Rep Theatre

Grandma and Grandpa rearranged the end of their 4-month trip East Coast trip to come out to Berkeley to watch Papa in Chinglish… and of course, to hang out with me!!!  They agreed to babysit me on their second night in town even though they were still jetlagged!  I must’ve been a good kid because they agreed to babysit me again for closing night tomorrow!  I think Grandma and Grandpa were pleasantly surprised by how comfortable I am with them and how easy it was to look after me.

© Photo by Brian Nishii

Proud Stepdad and Mom on the set of Chinglish

It has been so much fun hanging out with them.  I love the fact that Grandma speaks to me in Japanese and that Grandpa knows where all the great spots are to watch trains in the area!

© Photos by Ardith Ibañez Nishii

3 Ultimate Train Fans!… The engineer let me on the train and I got to blow the whistle! (Jack London Square // Oakland, CA)

© Photos by Ardith Ibañez Nishii
I heart Grandma!

ABC in Berkeley

5 Oct

ABC in Berkeley

Today, Cedro is 2 years and 2 months old! What a great time and place in his/our lives!

The ABC Nishiis have been thoroughly enjoying Berkeley and everything NorCal has to offer. For starters, the weather is PERFECT. Not too hot. Not too cold. Where we live in downtown Berkeley is a nice mix of urban and suburban. We can easily walk to plenty of restaurants and shops (such as our new favorite grocery store, Berkeley Bowl) or hop on BART and be in downtown San Francisco in mere minutes. We can also walk to Cedro’s new school, but we tend to drive him there more often than not like the Angelenos that we sorta-kinda are!

So let’s talk about St. John’s Childcare Center for a minute. WE LOVE THIS PLACE! They had us all at “Hello”. Maybe because the head teacher of his class is half-Filipina?… Sold!… But truthfully, there are so many reasons why we love this school, not the least of which is how much Cedro has enjoyed it and has thrived there. On Cedro’s first full day at the school without either of us, we weren’t really worried about him. Nevertheless, we received text messages and photos of Cedro to assure us that he was doing really well! What a nice touch.

He has grown so much since we arrived 2 months ago. He is more independent and has become interested in so many new things. His class has about 16 kids but probably on any given day there are only 10 or less. There are generally 3 – 4 staff members in each room who are all so sweet, loving, attentive, patient and strong teachers. The vibe is very Berkeley — diverse, mulit-cultural, great mix between hippie and yuppie with a nice family feel. No pretense. The classroom is full of different learning stations while there’s a great playground, garden and an abundance of toys and sports equipment outside. They also often go on walks in the neighborhood. So far, he has only cried a couple times at drop-off but for the most part he is so happy to be there. He plays well, sleeps well, eats well. He is learning so much! It’s a shame we have to leave! We are so thankful to Berkeley Rep Theatre for facilitating Cedro’s placement. We thank our lucky stars every day that he is in such a great school!

On the flip side of regular school time is the constant germ-a-thon that goes along with being exposed to so many young kids. Ah well! C’est la vie! It’s building his immune system, right? Cedro can’t seem to kick this cough that has persisted for half the time that we’ve been here and the poor guy had a puke fest during his Tita Ging’s bday weekend here in Berkeley. Thankfully, we found great doctors in the area! (Thanks again to Berkeley Rep for taking the initiative to provide us with a list of recommended family services.) Berkeley Pediatrics is outstanding! Cedro is in love with Dr. Grace So. She is very sweet and helpful. Cedro is very comfortable with her. (OK, she also scored some bonus points for having tickets to watch Chinglish without knowing that Brian was in the play!) During Cedro’s weekend puke-a-thon, Dr. Lisa Kalar was on-call and walked us through the process of getting him better. The next day, she called us a couple times until she got through to us to follow-up and make sure that Cedro was OK. Wow! What service! Another reason we wish we could stay in the area!

Northern California is home to me. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by familiar faces. I am thrilled to be nearby as my best friend, Chris, prepares to have her first baby! It has been 7 years since we lived in the same city and now I am here just in time! If she doesn’t deliver on her own in the next few days, she has an appointment to be induced next week. Wow! Wow! Wow! (I repeat, “I am so glad Brian landed this Berkeley Chinglish gig!”)

Alameda is only a short drive away, too. We have been having fun play dates with cousins and old friends. And let’s not forget how amazing it is to live relatively close to Lola and Lolo! As usual, they have been so helpful with any babysitting for Cedro, especially the kind that involves leaving him with them in Sacramento for almost a week while Cedro’s school was closed and so we could enjoy the Chinglish opening night without worrying about getting a sitter! They drop everything for him! And you can bet that any visit involves some special surprise like Cedro’s first tricycle or something train-related like a visit to the Railroad Museum or ride on the steam train at the Folsom Zoo!

Being in the Bay Area means that I am revisiting places that I used to go to as a child, like Fairyland in Oakland or the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. It’s very special to experience these places once again with my own little boy. It certainly is a magical time and place for us. We seem to have landed in Train Heaven on Earth. Brian’s days off usually involve some excursion up to Tilden Park for a mini steam engine ride with Cedro or adventure into the city to watch and ride the trolley and cable cars. From our apartment, we can hear the sound of the Amtrak and commuter trains in the distance. Cedro often cups his hands behind his ears and calls out to us to make sure we notice the passing trains, too. And of course, Cedro has learned to identify the BART tracks along the freeway or elevated along the boulevards. (It blows my mind that these are the same trains from 40 years ago. There are pictures of me with my parents shoulder to shoulder with hordes of people at the opening of the Daly City BART station.)

It feels almost like a vacation to be here! But both Brian and I are working hard. I am so proud of B. He has waited so long to perform in Chinglish (understudying in Chicago and Broadway) and now he gets to be on stage 6 days a week as Peter Timms, a British teacher-turned-consultant, fluent in Mandarin. I have lost track of how many times I have seen the show here in Berkeley, but I never get sick of watching Brian up there. He has to navigate between funny and serious and sometimes heart-wrenching moments. He certainly brings a sense of gravitas to the character. He’s not just a pretty face, people! You should’ve seen me when I first saw him on TV in an interview in Mandarin! I accidentally woke up my pregnant best friend; I was screaming so much! The fact of the matter is that it’s a great show and this cast and production are so tight!

As for me… between rubbing elbows with literary icons like David Henry Hwang, reliving my childhood in the Bay Area, and reconnecting with family and friends, I have time to tackle my own freelance design projects now that Cedro is in daycare for most of the week. It has been enriching to reclaim my career as a graphic designer and ride the wave that started back in LA when I was freelancing for Belkin.

I’ve gone on and on and painted an idyllic picture of our life here. Truth be told: it’s stressful to be on the road constantly, to live in small spaces with a 2-year-old, to wonder what we’re going to do in the long gap between the Berkeley and SoCal productions, to wonder what we’re going to do after this international tour is over in March!

But for every question or ounce of anxiety there are a million moments of happiness and reasons to feel lucky and blessed.

Our Superstar Cedro