Friday, March 31, 2006

Scenes from the Home Front

Setting: Home, Working Momma's day off.
SAHD is in kitchen, prepping dinner.

WM (from baby's room across house): Honey, can you come here? The diaper thingy's full!

Back in the kitchen, after changing the bag thingy and throwing out the sack of diapers.

SAHD (chopping garlic): Sweetie, remind me, I gotta show you how to change the bags in the diaper thingy.

WM (smiling sweetly): But honey, that's a daddy job. I'm the mommy.

SAHD (avoids chopping off his fingers): Let me take a break from cooking dinner and wipe my hands on this dishtowel that I just washed in the laundry so we can have this conversation. What do you do, again?

WM (smiling sweetly): I'm the mommy. I got boobs, babe. Do you got milk coming out of your nipples?

SAHD: No, but I have a blog.

Seriously though, reader The Queen's Dad gave me a link to an interesting SAHD website/bulletin board, particularly a thread on SAHD burn-out after he read my little existential-angst-on-my-birthday post on my solo blog. I so do not have it bad in any way, shape or form—some of these brothers seem to be married to reincarnations of stereotypes of dads from the 1950s in women's bodies. Any SAHDs, or even non-SAHDs, have stories out there about butting up against gender roles, especially ones that are Asian-culture-based?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hi, my name is iDaddy and I'm a gadget-aholic.

Hi, my name is iDaddy and I'm a gadget-aholic.

Okay, I'll admit it...I love gadgets, especially tech gadgets. If anything new comes out, I've got to have it. Maybe it's the Asian in me?! My wife hates it! She hates it even more now that we have our Pogi. My wife's latest rant--"Why does a 7-month old need an iPod?" I'm obsessed with baby gear and gadgets. Even before he was born he had 3 strollers! And with summer just around the corner I have plans to get that Chariot jogging stroller I've been eyeing.

Yesterday, I saw a report on CNN about the market for luxury baby gear. They showed a clip of shoppers at Barney's buying $400 D&G dresses and $200 cashmere sweaters for their babies. I'll be the first to agree that if you have the means, go ahead and splurge. It's your money, and you can do what you want with it.

Now, we don't have the kind of money to spend $200 on a sweater but our Pogi does have his share of designer clothes and high end baby gear. We'll hit Century 21 in NYC or make a trip up to Woodbury Commons to get some deals. Or we wait for the current seasons' collections to go on sale for him to wear next season. As for gear, I'm the type of person that believes you get what you pay for, so we'll splurge a little on quality.

But is it for the babies or is it for the parents? And at what point does this spoil a baby? Surely, our Pogi wouldn't have a clue whether he's rolling around in a $900 Bugaboo or $20 umbrella stroller from TRU. Or whether he's wearing a Burberry cashmere sweater or a sweatshirt from Wal-mart. All he cares about is being comfortable and warm.

Growing up, I didn't have expensive clothes. In fact, my Mom made my clothes and even put my initials on most of my overalls. Looking back at pictures, the clothes were actually cute! But at that age did I care that my Mom made my clothes instead of buying me designer clothes? Hell, if it weren't for pictures, I didn't even remember what clothes I was wearing or what stroller I was rolling around in.

So, where do I stand? I'm all for buying designer clothes and high-end gear for our Pogi. I think he deserves the best that we can afford. But I (I say, "I" because my wife doesn't think we should spend too much on him) need to find the balance so that when he gets older, he doesn't "expect" the designer clothes. Although, judging by the kids we run into at the malls, it's inevitable when he reaches middle school--hell, even elementary school!

Monday, March 27, 2006

F1 and Guitars

James Chiang is a childhood friend; our parents knew each other from way back in the day and for a brief spell, we both grew up outside of Boston as kids (my parents still call him Jimmy in fact). We lost touch for, well, decades, but ironically, we both ended up in the Bay Area in the 1990s; now we both live in S.F.

I barely have much of a memory of what James was like as a kid (I barely remember what I was like as a kid), but as an adult, I think he leads a fascinating life. I saw this because he's a professional photographer by day and his great hobby/passions are 1) F1 racing and 2) electric guitars. The last time I was at his loft in SOMA, he had at least a dozen or more mounted on his walls with an eye to both historical significance and design.

I mention all this because James is one of the few people I know who grew up under similar circumstances: oldest sons of immigrant Chinese parents, raised in middle class, education-first environments, blah blah blah but neither of us turned out particularly conventional (i.e. we're not dentists, attorneys or middle-management) and instead, pursue particular kinds of creative interests, almost obsessively (and likely to the considerable detriment of our bank accounts). It's just nice to have confirmation that not everyone follows the same path, or that it's strange if you detoured off it. For those of you who are children of immigrant Asian parents, you know what I'm talking about.

In any case, check out James' portfolio at his site:

What He Said

Peep what John Watson had to say on the subject of "Being Daddy."

Deep thoughts, yo.

[Thanks to Irene Nam for the head's-up.]

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Well, it's only funny when we say it..."

So I turned 32 last week, and got a homemade birthday card from my SAHM friend who is currently building her eBay empire based on her love of iron-on transfers, Superman, and all things '80s. The front of the card featured this photo of her darling daughter (proudly wearing her product, of course), with the subtitle, "Another birthday?" Inside is the punchline: "Don't sweat it!"

["Don't sweat it!" Get it? Asians? And sweatshops? Get it? And child labor? And she's sitting at the press like she's... Oh, never mind.] Well, that one's never gonna make a Great ExpectAsians card....

Not about to put my friend out there (with her permission, of course) without being willing to embarrass myself, here's a pic from Halloween, when we dressed our babygirl in a kimono and Grandma's wig and called the ensemble "sushi bar hostess." (I had really wanted to pair the wig with a little baby sportcoat and call it "Asian American anchorwoman," but I couldn't find any cheap size-12-months businesswear. Oh well, maybe in a few years. We've still got the wig.)

So, what painfully non-p.c., self-stereotyping inside-jokes—that you'd get pissed off and e-mailing Angry Asian Man about if "somebody else" did it—have you played on your poor, unsuspecting, trusting mini-me's? (C'mon, don't lie, you know you've done it!)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Jin's Gonna Be a Daddy!

Okay, maybe it's the bald ex-boyfriend's and not his. And yeah, even if it is his, the way the show's pacing is, it won't be born for like, 4 seasons, if the writers even let it come to term.

Whatever—Jin's gonna be a daddy!

What the fuck are you babbling about, you moron, you ask?

C'mon, you don't watch "Lost"? What kind of Asian American are you?! Heh.

Anyway, as those of you who, like me, watch way more t.v. than the parent of a toddler should (damn you, TiVo!) already know, last night's episode of "Lost" (ABC, Wednesdays at 9 p.m.), "The Whole Truth," centered around everybody's favorite bundle of race, class and gender role problems, I mean, married Korean couple on t.v., Sun and Jin Kwan (played by Korean actress Yunjin Kim and Korean American actor Daniel Dae Kim, respectively).

To bring non-viewers up to speed: rich-girl Sun was gonna leave son-of-a-fisherman-turned-dad-in-law's-goon Jin, learning English from her rich (and bald) ex-boyfriend (well, he's not really...but this is just less complicated, trust me) in preparation for a dash to America. She got cold feet and they both ended up in the crash on the island. Jin's got gender-role and class-insecurity issues a-plenty. After some rough patches, including attacking the black single-father (now his friend) for "stealing" his father-in-law's watch, being accused of setting a raft on fire, finding out his wife secretly knew English, setting off on the rebuilt raft and then getting captured by other survivors, Jin's back with his wife, trying to work through all his macho controlling crap. It's resurfaced a bit though, with last night's freak-out over Sun being out in the jungle alone (she was recently the victim of a fake kidnapping, again, if you don't watch, never mind, it's too complicated...) and the flash-back revelation that, when told Sun was unable to have children, he freaked out and accused her of knowing about it before the wedding. Turns out that the doc lied, though—it's Jin with the infertility problem, he just doesn't want the known tough-guy to burn his office down. So, finally, Sun tells Jin the truth (well, that part anyway), and promises that she was never unfaithful. Happy dad-to-be chalks it up to an island miracle. With all the facial expressions that Sun throws around, you really can't tell if she's lying or not—Did she sleep with baldy and thus could it be his? Or is it really a "miracle" and is she as surprised as Jin?

This shows throws so many curveballs that it could be anything (and fans have filled up bulletin boards registering their opinions on all sides already). I'm hoping it's Jin's, and I'm hoping the character continues to shed all the insecurity-induced macho tendencies. It'd be nice to see an functional Asian/Asian American family, and an Asian/Asian American dad, on t.v. (not on a cartoon!), even if it takes a few seasons. Besides all the crazy storylines and stuff, I love this show for all the little things it sticks in. The cast of characters' diversity is just a given, with black single dads and sociopathic Latina cops and fat Latino mental patients and Iraqi commandos played by South Asians and Nigerian crimelords turned priests.... And don't you just love that the only married couples are the Koreans and the middle-aged interracial couple (white guy/black woman)? And what other primetime American dramas have entire episodes with over half of it in Korean (or Arabic), with English subtitles? And his shirtless scenes have already landed Daniel Dae Kim a spot as one of People Magazine's Sexiest Men Alive. Heh. Who woulda thunk it?

So anyway... Jin's gonna be a daddy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Collective Seoul

As a Korean-American guy, born in NYC and raised in a predominantly white environment, I have often felt the pull of being trapped between two cultures. I would imagine many of you whom are either Asian-American or are raising part-Asian children can understand what I mean by that.

Personally, I cherish that duality in myself. Growing up, I used to make turkey and kimchi sandwiches all the time. Sometimes, it would be bologna and kochujang sandwiches. And though now that type of cultural melding of foods is considered "fusion," back when I was a 6-year-old kid, I liked to think that, by combining the best of both cultures, the sum of the parts was greater than the whole.

Now, despite the fact that I'm about as American as apple pie, I've still got a great sense of Korean pride. When the World Cup or the Olympics are on TV, I always find myself rooting for the Korean team. Part of the reason is obviously due to my family's Korean heritage. However, another part of it has to do with rooting for the underdog (Those of you familiar with the Korean concept of HAN may understand how poignant it is to root for the underdog, especially when that underdog is related to anything Korean.)

Why am I babbling about all this today? Because recently, Korea beat the U.S. 7-3 in the World Baseball Classic. Keep in mind that the U.S. team is a collection of Major League Baseball All-Stars. The best players on the Korean team aren't even stars on their own home teams! But collectively, the Koreans persevered and basically spanked the snot out of the U.S. team!

When I heard the news, I practically jumped for joy and looked around for someone to high-five. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone so I just high-fived myself. Then, I started thinking about how interesting it was that I could feel such enormous pride for the Korean team. I barely speak any Korean. I have virtually no family living there. And when I go back to Korea, people still very much consider me a foreigner.

And you know what? I realized that, paradoxically speaking, all those things are relevant only in the sense that they make me MORE AMERICAN.

Because isn't it true that the greatest thing about this country is the fact that we're ALL from somewhere else? That this experiment in democracy and melting pot of ideas is what makes this country so great?

As future American generations become more racially and culturally mixed, I think the actual notions of race and culture will be diminished. And while I think that's a beautiful thing, I hope that everyone always remembers where they came from. Because as a wise man once said, it's only by looking back that we can see where we're going.

But is it me or do other people feel the same way also? Is it strange that I consider myself a very patriotic American but I always find myself rooting for the Korean team? What about those of you who are half-Asian or raising half-Asian kids? Do you think my 3rd-generation daughter will feel marginally less pride in her Korean heritage? Is there a law of diminishing succession?

Talk to me, people. An inquring mind wants to know...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Daddy Status

I've moved from impregnator to actual daddy. I wasn't what I expected but a miracle nevertheless. Perhaps cursed by a very uneventful and smooth pregnancy, delivery was a bitch and although I didn't endure any of the pain (I was at the risk of invoking a bad Denzel movie, ready to go John Q. Public). We went in at 7 am and my wife had a C-section at 11:17 pm. For much of early labor, my wife didn't even know she was having contractions they were so mild. Then came the used car salesman who filled in as our OB/GYN complete with bald spotted gray hair. Since we are blessed to be in an HMO medical group, the doctor we've been seeing for nine months was replaced by Dr. Joe Random - who must have had a tee-time the next morning.

First thing he wants to do is "get things going" by breaking my wife's water, and then threatens to send us home if he can't. After talking with our friend in family medicine, he tells us the only risk is infection after 12 hours. So we do it on Joe Random's lunch visit. Then he suggests pitocin. Then making an appearance 10 hours later, he says labor is going too slow, even though the nurse had just said it was moving great with her fully effaced, dilated, and head crowning. What do you know, he says my wife has a fever and must have an infection, so we must have a C-section. He says we would be jeopardizing the baby if we didn't go C-section, so we have little choice. We find out the baby was facing up (the wrong way) which is useful information that we think might have been able to glean previous to actual delivery. Thank goodness for Jack Johnson and his Curious George Soundtrack.

I didn't want to watch the C-section since Lamaze class had provided a tasty sample and a woman that had gotten one said at one point they removed her uterus, until I saw them lift the baby. From a figment of imagination to body and whitish-blood streaked flesh.) I was in the room and held my wife's shaking hand, chills from the mega-grade epidural. Such an indescribable walk to the nursery with my newborn son.

For once I find back and shoulder hair cute, as I look at my little George "the Animal" Steele. But his face is all Squirt, the kid surfing turle, from Finding Nemo with the buggy eyes, nearly non-existent nose, and beaky mouth (cute even when its gaping from crying.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

TV Alert: Triple Whammy on Nanny 911 Tonight

Via Mixed Media Watch comes news of tonight's triple whammy on "Nanny 911" (Fox, 8 p.m., Fri. 3/17):

Not only is the George family an interracial family (whammy number 1), but 26-year-old Jeffrey is both black (whammy number 2) AND a stay-at-home-dad (trifecta!)!

Now normally, I hate watching these kinda shows--do I really wanna throw away an hour of my life watching, typically, a couple that can't communicate worth shit and a mom and/or dad (typically) whose attitude is the number one contributing factor to the family's problems? Sure, it can be cathartic ("At least we're not on SuperNanny911!"), but all those screaming, abusive, rolling-on-the-floor-while-holding-their-breath-and-simultaneously-beating-their-sister children tend to have a paranoia-inducing effect that outweighs the catharsis.

MMW makes suspicious note of the program's website's description of tonight's victim, er, star, as knowing "what it feels like to be imprisoned" because being a SAHD of three kids under 4, while his (white and decade-older) wife Theresa is "bring[ing] home the bacon," is akin to being "under house arrest." I don't know which is more ominous or (unsurprisingly) upsetting, the whole prison metaphor being employed where a black man's concerned (MMW's point), or their reference to "domestic diva Martha Stewart" vis-a-vis house arrest and homemaking duties. Obviously, that one's foreshadowing some dumping on the brother's household-management skillz, and probably SAHDhood itself.

Hmmm.... What's gonna come off worse? That their kids' problems stem from being raised by a SAHD, by a black man, or in an interracial family? Hopefully, I'm just being overly cynical, right? I mean, t.v. wouldn't play a brother like that, right?


Heh. Stay tuned.... (Or not.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Food to Ponder

An article in the McPaper (USA Today) today, which I was reading purely because I was looking at player info. for my NCAA tournament player draft (six billion times more fun and interesting than the brackets that bust in like a day). Anyway, its an editorial showing how conservatives are breeding like crazy and liberals are more likely to have one child or none.

It foretells of not 4 but 40 more years of Bush-es. They would be wrong because the planet wouldn't last that long and they could have hospitals because there would be oil dregs everywhere. This reminds me of watching the reality TV show about the Duggar family with 16 kids ...and counting. I shook my head at first learning of them but I have to say it was fascinatin to watch. At first, I was quick to judge them as religious fanatics pumping out babies for Christ (and big shock, they are Fundamentalist Christians.) Yes, the father's name is really Jim Bob. But the shining light had to be the mother and the level of organization and faith that it took to run that family. It wasn't a fiasco, they never seemed to allow the demands of bulk parenting overwhelm them, and their kids learned some interesting lessons about sharing and responsibility. As an educator, my biggest concern was the home schooling. Their world was so insular and I didn't see how the mom or dad could find time to teach them anything or plan what to teach other than, "hey come look at the house being built." I would worry about their socialization with peers and perceptions of "different people" and how their entire world is mediated through their parents, vaguely David Koresh-y. I guess daddy is running for senate. Gee, don't you have enough on your plate or some children to maybe give some attention to?

Monday, March 13, 2006

You Dim Sum, You Lose Some!

I don't know what's happening with my little 17-month-old daughter, the Peanut. A month ago, she was the easiest kid in the world to feed. Whenever it was mealtime, we'd just stick Peanut in the high chair and she'd just eat whatever we were eating. She wasn't picky about her food and we were amazed at the sheer diversity of food that she enjoyed without a single complaint!

Now? She won't eat anything! She's weaned herself off milk, hates baby food, and abhors almost everything we put in front of her?

The one exception? Dim sum. The kid eats ANY kind of dumpling you put in front of her---shumai, gyoza, mandoo! You name it, she eats it!

It's funny. On the one hand, I'm glad she enjoys eating Asian food. On the other hand? If things keep up, I'm going to have to open my own Chinese restaurant. Maybe I'll name it "Golden Peanut." Catchy, isn't it?

But I really am starting to feel like a short-order cook at a Chinese restaurant (which probably isn't even that good of a description of how I'm feeling because all the short-order cooks at Chinese restaurants these days seem to be Mexican. But you get the point, right?)

Anyone else have a picky eater on their hands? How do you deal with it?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Stick It!

I’m not a fan of needles. Ever since I was a kid, I’d scream every time my parents even drove NEAR my pediatrician’s office. It didn’t help that my doctor had the bedside manner of a malevolent robot, and the nurses administering my shots were terrifying, white-clad monsters encased like sausages in support hose. (Plus, no post-shot lollipops.) My parents would try to console me as best they could, and actually managed to convince me that shots administered in my buttocks wouldn’t hurt if I didn’t struggle, because my booty was nothing more than nerve-free padding.

Now, when I see Owen crying upon being stuck by a big, fat needle, I can’t help but wince. I know that he’s a braver kid than I was, and that the staff at his doctor’s office are terrific and super-kid-friendly. Still, when I see Owen getting vaccinated, I flash back to myself scrambling away from a nurse trying to inject me in my arm, shrieking: “I WANT IT IN MY BUTT!!! I WANT IT IN MY BUTT!!!”

Owen getting stuck.

Supernanny wants YOU! (Who, me? Couldn't be!)

Via Angry Asian Man comes this casting call:

ABC's hit show SUPERNANNY is currently looking for Asian-American families with children (infant to teens) to take part in its hit television series featuring Jo Frost, one of the United Kingdom's top nannies.

Using the expert techniques that have made ABC's SUPERNANNY a hit show, (and her book a New York Times bestseller), Jo Frost works with families to help tame even the rowdiest infants, kids and teens, restoring balance to American households. Jo offers hands-on advice to parents on how to achieve the best possible work/family balance, get the best out of kids, (while still letting them be kids), and guide the family unit to a positive place. The series is an intelligent, informative look at childcare and parenting in the 21st century.

What are the parenting challenges particular to Asian-American family life? How are the issues in the APA family exactly like every other family? Supernanny is interested in showing our national audience the ups and down of parenting in families of all ethnic/national backgrounds; we haven't yet had an Asian-American family on our show and we're actively looking!

Interested families should email us at , or go to keyword "supernanny," or call 1-877-NANNY-TIME.

AAM writes that "it would be kind of interesting to see an Asian American family on the show."

What, and expose all that model-minority/inscrutable-Asian stuff for the lies and stereotypes they are? On national t.v.? By letting our kids have tantrums on the floor and beat us into submission? Heh.

Well, any takers? MetroDad, Peanut still kicking your ass?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Daddies, Do Let Your Daughters Grow Up To Be Fashion Designers

Chloe Dao wins Project Runway. I'm still tripping over the fact that she's one of eight girls in her family. 1) Poor mom! 2) You think they were trying for a boy? You know they were. Anytime I see an Asian family with more than three daughters...and then a young son, you probably much know the deal.

I digress. Yay Chloe. And holler at my girl Diana Eng too and buy one of her "Fashion Nerd" buttons.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Daddies, don't let your babies grow up to be cheerleaders

By now, you've probably all seen video of the Southern Illinois University cheerleader who fell on her head from the top of a pyramid configuration during a basketball game on Sunday, breaking her neck and sustaining a concussion—but not without continuing to cheer and do all her arm movements while being carried out, strapped down in a neck brace on a stretcher. I'm no doctor (I'm just married to one), but watching the newsclip the other day, I couldn't help but think that that couldn't have been good for her condition.

Well, the perky convalescent was on the Today Show this morning, and as they cut to her sitting on the couch in the upcoming-segment preview, she started doing jazz-hands and all those arm movements again, in her SIU cheer outfit and matching neckbrace. I'm sure the doctor who accompanied her was thrilled. (I had to restrain myself from yelling at the t.v., "Stop it! Stop moving! Stop it!") When I was able to focus on anything but the jazz-hands, I noticed her face. Uh-oh, I thought. She looks Asian, hapa at least.

And then they introduced her. Yep. Kristy Yamaoka, the cheerleader with so much school spirit she wouldn't let something as minor as, say, a broken freakin' vertebra and being strapped to a backboard keep her out of the game. (Did no EMT whisper to her, you know, these straps and things, don't you get the message that YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO MOVE?!) My favorite part of the interview: Katie goes, how are you feeling, and Kristy goes, Oh, I feel fine, 'cause of the support of all my fellow cheerleaders, etc. Yeah, it's not the freakin' MORPHINE or the CONCUSSION or anything.

Just the other day, la dra. was remarking to my mother-in-law that The Pumpkin would never be allowed to be a cheerleader, 'cause didn't you see that crazy girl who fell off the top of the pyramid and broke her neck and still kept cheering? And we didn't even know she was Asian at that point. Because, with our luck and the curse of genetics, The Pumpkin is not going to be starting for the WNBA any time soon. We come from short people—short Filipinos, short Japanese, short Jews—there just ain't no gettin' around it. [Though, as our kindly elderly white neighbor lady put it once, when we tried to explain our baby's petiteness via our own "small" stature, looking me up and down, she said, with no hint of shyness, "Well, I wouldn't say 'small.' Short, maybe, but not small. You could stand to lose a few pounds." Aren't old people great?] Barring any freak mutations, The Pumpkin, who at 16 months is still barely 18 pounds and will probably be sitting rear-facing in the carseat till she's five at this rate, will probably be what Ji-in of Twice the Rice calls "a pocket Asian." "Pocket Asians," she writes, "are the wee, small, petite ones.... The wispy, tiny ones I could pick up between my thumb and forefinger and tuck into my pocket." Heh.

They are also the type who end up on cheerleading squads and everybody goes, gee, Mari/Liane/Sujin/Mai/Debbie, you're so tiny and light, why don't you be on top of the pyramid/be the one we throw really high into the air/be the one most likely to crash head-first into the boards/turf/ground?

And for our dear Pumpkin, to that, we say HELL NO! You ain't throwin' my baby up in the air and cracking her head open like an egg in the name of school spirit, just 'cause she's a short, cute little Asian girl. Soccer, great. Field hockey, whatever. Football even {we're liberals after all, let's challenge those gender roles). But over my dead body is she going to be not-quite-dressed in some little skirt thingy (did you notice the gratuitous crotch shots of the poor girl getting wheeled off the court?) and thrown all over the place "because she's so tiny and petite!"

So put those pom-poms away, aight? And Kristy? Kiddo? Really, if you're wearing a NECK BRACE, maybe, all the moving around, not such a good idea, 'kay? Just a thought.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Doll Thing

If you're a parent of color, an Asian American parent, and/or a parent of a multiracial child, I'm sure you've tackled this one (or will when your kid's old enough): The Doll Thing. Sure, you've got your library stocked with multiculti picture books, there are a couple ethnic-pride onesies in the kid's drawer, you make sure you're as surrounded by the diverse faces of family and friends as possible... And then you go to the big-box toy store....

I've already written at length about trying to find toys that reflect back at The Pumpkin, or at least reflect some sort of diversity, on my solo blog, so you can click here to read that. (Though, if you've visited it before, you know the whole "Apple doesn't do comments" thing, so you can post comments about what I wrote in that post here on this RD post, if you wanna.)

But I'm bringing this up today because Jenna at BabyGadget is currently in the same quandary, looking for an Asian baby doll for her own hapa baby, and has posted the not-quite-satisfying results of her search (with pictures!) [via Blogging Baby].

[On a related note, Dutch, he of the "buy locally handcrafted wooden toys" school, recently posted a funny bit on The Blogfathers about his misadventure taking his babygirl into a Toys R Us. The title should give you a clue: "I have seen the future, and it's either really pink, or kind of slutty." Heh. And you can tell already that he's talking about that nasty Bratz line, which, problematically, happens to be one of the easiest places to find Asian-ish (or I guess in this case really they're "Oriental") "fashion dolls."]

So, in trying to find dolls that reflect back at our little ones, what's your story? What are your faves? What's on your "um, no, I really don't think so" list?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Top 10 Grossest Things I Learned in Childbirth Classes

Pardon the "first time" flashback experience with everything pent up and coming out all at once. But on a lighter note, here are ten least appetizing nuggets that I always seems to glean right before dinner break during our childbirth classes. Enjoy!

10. Vernix - the cheesy white stuff that coats new borns like stucco
9. a used up placenta
8. the board used to type down junior for circumcision, ranked slightly above the turtleneck effect of being uncircumcised
7. the rectal thermometer on our registery
6. the bulb-y thing used for baby snot
5. the big needle used to inject into the spinal fluid for an epideral
4. the idea that my wife may also expell her bowels as she pushed
3. raw, sore, bleeding and nearly bitten-off nipples from an improper "latch"
2. Watching a C-Section on video (skin, then tissue, then uterus)
1. Episiotomy (the words cutting and tearing should just not be placed anywhere near vagina)

Time Off (I didn't really finish this from a week and a half ago)

With the holiday, I have some time off to think. I'm not sure this is a good thing. Of course being an English teacher, is it really downtime when I get to read essays? In two and a half or so weeks, my life changes. The idea was too big to get my head around so I've kept myself busy going to baby classes and building baby things - tan and blue plaid Burberry I mean Graco Pack n Play being the coolest with its reverse umbrella fold action. Baby thoughts have typically come in two permutations: the "awh, doesn't adorable baby have daddy's full lips and high cheekbones" fashion or the flash into the future of little man taking all-league honors in baseball and football while maintaining a 4.3 with generous helpings of community service.

With down time, I guess, comes some downer thoughts. Crap, who can afford a baby these days with a mortgage in a slowing housing market on two teachers salaries? Am I stable enough to help support a family? Do I make enough money? Am I professionally fulfilled? If not, can we afford for me to change? How do I maintain a social life? How will I function getting no sleep? Which all boils down to the overaching query of ... Am I ready?

Of course, the answer unless I was mighty cocky, which I can be sometimes, is invariably no. As only child of a brave immigrant who braved the United States alone, I have virtually no extended family. I have very little experience with small children and virtually none with babies. Shoot pets are a stretch unless you count a dead canary and tropical fish. I'm used to being #1 in my life and have willed myself to #1 in my wife's. I hope I'm willing to relinquish the title but don't have much experience.

I look forward to the sense of fulfillment and richness, adjectives that seem only to be applied these days to mooing over nogat in a candy bar. I guess I'm talking about weight, or its opposite, Kundera's "unbearable lightness of being." I teach to feel needed and take on responsibility, a larger responsibility than my own. Something more tangible than a bumper sticker or an email forward or a political vote for that matter. It makes the inevitable crappy paperwork, idiotic phone calls, answering to high authorities who might not really know what they're doing, and distasteful office politic mean something to me. I'm not sure how other professions do it. The other ones I had never equaled enough in my equation.

But having my own, rather than teaching other people's children, is about to scramble my equation. How much weight (or time or money or attention and concern) will I give my own child as opposed to all the rest? [This school is needy enough for me to teach in but would I ever send my own child here?] Does my will to do good now become think globally and act locally, I mean very locally, like inside the fancy Italian crib I just finished assemblying? Is it selfish or natural or both? Do I then become everyone else, looking out for my own?

[Started 2/21, finished 3/6, moved up in queue. --Ed.]

Past Due

Our little guy was due yesterday. Didn't show. He now makes my wife's stomach very lobsided. At times squarish like regifted package that was never opened. My wife is disappointed and can't wait for our little kicker to get off her pubic bone. Me, it buys a few more days to get ready, arrange furniture, prepare more to be off at work, and bone up on baby procedures. Our guy was suppose to be born the same day as one of my guy friends. A sigh of relief for that -- love my friend --but way too neurotic, way way too neurotic. No being born under the weight of unrealistic expectations in the fourth phase of worry. Let him blaze his own trail.

For Our Sistas Holdin' It Down and Gettin' Paid (wanna get published?)

Just got a notice from some college classmates about a book they're editing about Asian Pacific American women and work, and they're looking for first-person essays about a variety of topics that fit under that rubric. Of particular interest, I'm sure, to readers of this blog is the intersection of work and famiy. The entire call for submissions is reprinted below, but pass this on to interested sisters/mothers/daughters/partners/baby-mamas/etc. (they're looking for a multiplicity of voices and experiences, including those of "new" writers).


Asian Pacific American Women's Experiences at Work

Edited by Angela Tolosa, Savitha Reddy, and Sonal Patel

Slated for Winter 2007

Women of Asian Pacific descent have been making strides in the workplace for over 100 years in the United States. As a "double minority" population, they have faced successes and challenges that define and question the construction of Asian Pacific American female identity. This anthology will reveal women's experiences and insights on "how to make a living" – however that is defined – in society today and over the years.

The editors seek personal essays written in first-person that expound on the real-life trials and tribulations of cultivating a profession and/or career. We are looking for creative and thoughtful personal essays from women of Asian Pacific descent of all classes, ethnicities, abilities, sexualities, religions, and nationalities. Submissions from emerging as well as established writers will be accepted. We welcome and will consider new ideas in addition to the topics suggested below.

Possible topics include:

• History of APA women in the workplace

• Career advice (i.e. How to make it as…a corporate attorney, actress, journalist, etc.)

• Climbing the ladder – leadership and management in the workplace

• Family and career

• Interracial workplace dynamics

• Entrepreneurship

• Working abroad

• Education

• Networking

EDITORS: Angela Tolosa, Savitha Reddy and Sonal Patel are native New Yorkers who have worked in the fields of corporate law, education, non-profit management, and Asian American issues for over nine years. With her background in public television, Ms. Tolosa works in special projects and development for the Center for Court Innovation, a think tank that promotes and implements court reform both locally and beyond. Ms. Reddy is now a practicing attorney at Holland & Knight in New York, where she focuses on corporate and securities law. An experienced litigator, Ms. Patel is the director of the Immigrant Students Rights project of Advocates for Children of New York, the leading educational advocacy organization in New York City.


March 20, 2006 Submit statement of intent

May 1, 2006 Submit paper

Early submissions are appreciated.

LENGTH: 3,000-6,000 words

FORMAT: Essays must be typed, double-spaced, and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address, and a short bio on the last page. No simultaneous submissions. Previously published essays will be considered. Essays will not be returned. Essays will not be published without the writer's consent.

SUBMITTING: Electronic submissions are preferred. Send essay electronically as a Word or Rich Text Format file (with .doc or .rtf extension) to Write "Pioneer Anthology" in the subject line. If email is not possible, mail four (4) copies of the essay to Pioneer c/o Angela Tolosa, 160 West 66th Street, Suite 20A, New York, NY 10023. Please direct any inquiries to

PAYMENT: $50-$100 plus one book


REPLY: Please allow until September 1 for a response. If you have not received a response by then, please assume your essay has not been selected. It is not possible to reply to every submission personally.

Rice Kings at the Academy Awards

Having, at one point or another, personally dated every single color of the rainbow, I'm not really one to comment in regards to peoples' racial or ethnic preferences when it comes to dating. But watching the Oscars last night? I have to ask one thing...

Was it just me, or did all the White guys who were nominated (or won) for their work on "Memoirs of a Geisha" have Asian dates?

Seriously, I must have counted at least six Rice Kings in the audience! All geeky white guys with Asian dates who vaguely resembled not only each other but also what I would imagine Sandra Oh and Margaret Cho's illegitimate love-child to look like. Interesting, no?

Did nobody else pick up on this? Or am I the only one?

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Grandpa gets away with anything, eh?

Thanks to Angry Asian Man for the head's-up about the ad Canadian coffee-and-donut company Tim Hortons started running during the Winter Olympics, which you can check out yourself by clicking here.

Part of the chain's "every cup tells a story" campaign, the ad shows a Chinese immigrant grandpa coming to his grandson's hockey game (coffee in hand, of course), to the surprise of his son. Said son, of course, is shown in flashbacks being discouraged from hockey by his dear old dad in favor of, what else, studying. "He's better than you," Ah-gong says. "How would you know?" our north-of-the-border Rice Daddy brother retorts. Gramps proves he cared back then, decades late, by pulling out a weathered hockey photo of his son from his wallet. Years of first-vs.-second-generation-cultural-conflict bitterness melt away as the son looks at the photo and says, "Thanks for coming, dad." To which the coffee-slurping hockey fan replies...

"Give me my picture back."

Funny, eh?

(Read here for a Canadian journalist's slightly bitter answer to that rhetorical question. Hint: he dubs Ah-gong the archetype of the "Anti-Hockey Grandpa." Somebody's got issues....)


Owen, our fifteen-month-old son, speaks more Cantonese than English. Although Michelle and I speak to him in both English and our best approximation of Chinese, Owen’s grandparents converse with him almost exclusively in their native tongue. Our little guy understands English, but prefers to communicate in Cantonese – probably because of the forceful, monosyllabic nature of the language. “Nai-nai!” he shrieks when he wants milk. “Mo-mo!” he screams when he wants to wear a hat. “Dung-dung!” he cries when he spies a lamp.

(Owen loves short, declarative words. After hearing his mother curse upon accidentally burning herself at the stove, he began happily chanting “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!”)

When Owen beams at strangers in restaurants and supermarkets, they frequently gravitate to his chubby smile and his furious little hand-waves, and try to start conversations with him. “What’s your name, young man?” they ask. “Dung-dung!” Owen responds, referring to a light source behind them. “Dung-dung!” I often feel the need to explain that my child isn’t named after excrement.

I love the fact that when Owen goes to pre-school, no one will understand his particular brand of Chinglish. That way, when he unleashes another torrent of “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK,” we’ll just tell people he’s saying something nice in Chinese, like "flower" or "friend."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Happy Girls' Day!

It's March 3rd, Hinamatsuri (the doll festival), or as I knew it growing up, Japanese Girls' Day. My parents still put up their Empress and Emperor dolls on the fireplace mantle every March, and when The Pumpkin turned one last October, I made a special request of them for her own pair of dolls. So the other day, we unpacked them, figured out where all the little costume parts went, and set them on their pedestals on the table in the foyer, where they will stay for the month.

My dad (who's white, btw) always used any excuse to give gifts to me and my mom when i was growing up, so even though Girls' Day is traditionally celebrated for only young girls in a family, Girls' Day in mine meant presents for my mom. Boys' Day (May 5) meant hanging up a carp kite in the backyard and, of course, presents for me and my dad. [He even gave us cards, at least, on St. Patrick's Day. And of course there was the time I was scarred for life when, on April Fool's Day, I opened a box with my mom's present in it—lingerie. Shudder.] And so, the other day, a box arrived with gifts for their daughter-in-law and granddaughter, continuing the tradition.

Me? I forgot to get my ladies' gifts. D'oh! So here, for everyone to see, is my gift to them—Happy Girls' Day to the most important girls, to the most important people in my life. And to all you lucky dads of daughters out there (and moms, and daughters themselves), Happy Girls' Day, too....

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What Daddies Do for Entertainment

A friend just put up an amusing flickr set: Crib Match: Peanut vs. Cookie Monster. Pix by mommy, captions by daddy, but c'mon, you know whose idea it was. Check it out!

Rice Daddy Roll Models: David Mas Masumoto

This is the first in an occasional series where we pay tribute to our role models, both real and fictional. [And yes, that does say "roll" in the title, it's not a typo, it's a bad pun, we can't all be as funny as MetroDad! Role model, roll model, rice daddy, sushi roll, get it? RolL model? Get it? Sigh. Yes, I know, I'm sad.]

I had the privilege of taking a memoir writing workshop the other night with the Central Valley's own farmer-poet David Mas Masumoto. Mas is a sansei, or third-generation Japanese American, and the third generation to work his family farm, growing peaches and grapes outside of Fresno. He has documented his experiences in a beautiful, thoughtful series of books, including Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on my Family Farm, Harvest Son: Planting Roots in American Soil, Letters to the Valley: A Harvest of Memories, and Four Seasons in Five Senses: Things Worth Savoring. Through it all, as he writes of his struggle to renew his family farm, save his heirloom peaches in a world dominated by agribusiness, and pass on a legacy to his family and community, it becomes clear that at the intersection of all the identities from which he writes—Japanese American, farmer, writer, Valley native, husband, grandson, son—father is hardly the least among them.

Indeed, as he writes about his own father and what he learned from him and about bringing up his own children, Nikiko and Korio, on the family farm, he often makes an analogy, both spoken and unspoken, between fatherhood and farming. Early in "Epitaph for a Peach," he writes,

"I had no training to be a father, I could only hope I'd learn quickly, on the job. As I grew my first cover crop, I had a similar feeling. I hoped an enriching harvest would follow. Babies and planting seeds: they demand that you believe in the magic and mystery of life."

In "Four Seasons in Five Seasons," he writes of guiding his 10-year-old daughter through the "farm kid's rite of passage" of learning to drive a tractor:

"I remember watching watching both Niki and Kori as youngsters when they drew pictures of people. Big heads and large hands because that's how they saw the world and how it felt to them. My contribution—enlarge the feet, shrink the heads, and hope for bigger hearts. I want them to feel a lot—the 'give' in peaches and the 'chill of fog down to the bones.' I want to teach them the inexact farmer science of measuring moisture in the land by squeezing a handful of dirt.... Will my children be the last generation to know how to measure moisture in raisins by rolling them in their hand? It's like cooks who teach their children how to determine the consistency of dough by rubbing it between the thumb and fingers. Niki and Kori have grown up in a tactlie world surrounded by a growing nontactile world. But that's not totally true. Perhaps everyone's sensibility about touch has changed; after all, fast food is to be eaten with our hands, though few of us think about that.

"Nikiko knows the farm, while Korio is still learning. As she climbs back on the tractor, determined to learn this craft, I can't help but stare off into the unknown. I can't see their children learning about tractor clutches. It's not that they won't—I just can't see it."

It seems to me that, for Mas, being a farmer and a father are inextricably intertwined, and what makes him good at one makes him better at the other. Before the other night, I knew him only through his writing. But after the workshop, where he exhorted us to keep writing, to keep asking the hard questions of ourselves, to keep going after and telling the truth, I see yet another level to him, and to this thing called fatherhood. Stories are not just things we tell to pass the time or even to explain the present—our stories are who we are. And as fathers, as parents, the stories we uncover and the stories we pass on to our children will be part of them too. Mas has taught me that, just as much as a tree or a plot of land or how to drive a tractor, our stories are our legacy.

iDaddy in the house!

Thank you DIASL! My first "real" blog! Allow me to introduce myself...iDaddy. Why did I chose that SN? I'm obsessed with Apple. I guess it stems from my early childhood in the early 80's typing away on my Apple IIe, playing games like parachute, and coding in BASIC. It was so easy back then:

10 Home
20 Print "Welcome to Rice Daddies"
30 Goto 20
40 End

Fast forward a little to the Apple IIGS, and then our Apples were replaced by the PC. Only within the past three years did I make the switch back to Apple, and then my obsession began with the G5. One iPod turned to two, and then to three--along with the countless accessories that make the iPod such a cool gadget. What does this have to do with being a dad? Well, just like I grew up with Apple, I want Pogi, our 6-month old son, to grow up with it as well. He already has his own iPod and he loves plugging away on the G5. I got him the cool
ipodmybaby onesie, and hopefully, our shares of AAPL puts him through college!

BTW, that's not his real name. It means handsome in Tagalog. Oh, forgot to mention my credentials for being a Rice Daddy! I'm Filipino, as is the wife. She was born in the Philippines, but I was born in Italy, being a military brat.

Continuing with the introductions, I'm a 32 year old IT professional working as an Army contractor in Northern Virginia. I'm a first time Daddy and having a blast! I love coming home to him and seeing him smile ear-to-ear when I say his name.

Thanks again for letting me join this great group of Dads. Long live Rice Daddies!