Thursday, August 31, 2006


From our hapa homegirl and head Kimchi Mama CityMama comes word of the beta launch [last week, actually, so y'all probably already know, but I still wanted to give CM a shout-out here] of a new online parenting community that she's writing for: ParentsConnect. It's packed full of moderated message boards on all kinds of subjects, plus topical blogs written by "Host Parents" from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. It looks like they've taken pains to make sure that dads and people of color are represented, too, so check it out, join the discussions, and help this new community resource grow!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

News Flash: Yeti Eats Chow Mein

photo by jamiey via flickr

Today, Defective Yeti, one of my favorite dad bloggers, was man enought to step forward and admit that, until recently, he had not ever had a taste of that yummy goodness known as chow mein. Props to DY for taking that first step to recovery, and may his long life be filled with many heaping plates of noodles.

Now, if there are any RD's out there in Seattle that can help him make up for lost time....

Monday, August 28, 2006

What do you mean you don't know A Flock of Seagulls was a band?

Home with a sick first grader today. Day eight of an eleven day single-parent adventure with Ms Thisislarry being in Bangalore for work.

A colleage forwarded this great list of things to know about the mindset of incoming college freshman, published by Beloit College. So, that's what's it's like to be born in 1988. Zowie, that was a year after I was a college freshman myself.

Already, I'm not getting at least 20% of it. Scary. When Beloit comes out with the mindset of those born in 2000, I hope I'm at least one for five.....

Friday, August 25, 2006

Proud Moment

In eight short months there have been moments when I've proudly stood by and watched my son do something for the first time. There will be many more. Today, as a son, I stood by in a proud moment and watched my dad get some recognition for a discovery he made yesterday.

While doing research he came across an old song book which answers the question that nobody could answer for almost a century: Who wrote the lyrics to the Korean National Anthem?

Phone calls were made, the right people were notified, and soon Koreans everywhere will know that Yun Chiho is the true author. As for me, I knew the answer before I even knew that the question was being asked! Spending time with his grandson for the first time, solving Korean national debates - it's all in a day's work for this historian-dad of mine.

In the picture above, my dad is being interviewed by KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) who will be airing the story in the LA area tonight or tomorrow night. Soon after it will air in Korea.

Now I just need to learn the song for myself, so I can add it to my repertoire of national anthems that I sing to my son at night.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Survivor Race Baiting

On the subject of racial relations, the next Survivor has decided to segregated its teams by race and there are Asian, Latinos, African Americans and Caucasians (what couldn't get enough Native Americans?). My view -- bad idea. Its already unfair when a Margaret Cho or a Lucy Liu or a George Lopez has to represent an entire underrepresented minority group on television by default. Whatever they do, even if they are themselves, they aren't representing all of us. Shoot, there was a whole book written Enlightened Racism about how the Cosby Show didn't accurately represent the African American population because the Huxtables, even as family loving role models, were too positive! Now once this doomed to failure, a handful representing an entire population model, starts toying with "reality" television then what. If the Asian team gets lost or won't share, oh look out. Talk about pressure.

*Disclaimer, although I have now referenced Dat Pham, my friend being on Amazing Race, The Duggar Family show, and now Survivor -- I cross my heart and hope to die don't watch much reality television (I'd never seen any Amazing Race, American Idol, Survivor, or Last Comic Standing until last week.) No really. Okay, I love Ultimate Fighter - Kendall, the Hawaiian, is an ass but kicks ass!

Elmo is a brother (& other lessons in race relations)

There's an interesting article in today's New York Times. It's an interview with Kevin Clash, the African-American puppeteer who not only created Elmo but also has been portraying him for the past 20 years. Mr. Clash has been promoting a new book he's written about his life with Elmo and how "being" Elmo has allowed him to break down racial stereotypes.

Personally, I am absolutely loving the fact that Elmo is black. I think it's so cool and I can't wait to discuss this with the Peanut as she gets older. I think it would be a great way to teach her that what's important in a person has no relation to the color of their skin.

Between this article and Mel Gibson's recent anti-Semitic tirade, I've been thinking a lot about racism and racial stereotypes in America.

Personally, I've always thought prejudice was such a waste of time and energy. After all, why discriminate against someone based on their race or religion when, if you take the time to get to know them, you can find so many other things to hate them for? If there's one thing I've learned during my time on this planet, it's that assholes are like Baskin Robbins ice cream. They come in many different flavors.

People will always find a reason to hate other people, my friends. North Koreans don't get along with South Koreans. Irish Catholics don't get along with Irish Protestants. Hell, even in NYC, downtown people and uptown people can't stand each other. Yet somehow, in the fantasyland version of utopian America, we expect everyone to get along like fairies and elves.

Here's a news flash for all of you...fairies and elves hate each other's fucking guts. As Dennis Miller once said, elves refer to fairies as "flying Tinker Bell nancy boys," and fairies call elves "rainbow-humping suck pots."

Now, back to Mel Gibson.

Is anyone really surprised by his anti-semitic comments? After all, Mel Gibson's father is one of the staunchest advocates of the theory that the Holocaust never existed.

See, my friends, that's where we get to the crux of the problem. As I've often said before, parenting is the most important job any one of us will ever have. Kids absorb absolutely everything we do or say. Even now I have to be careful around the Peanut. Even though she's only 22 months old, I'll often catch her climbing onto the couch, sighing, staring blankly at the television, and then sticking her hand down her diapers. Shit, I wonder where she picked that up from!

As Korean immigrants, my parents came to the U.S. fearing the unknown. Naturally, there aren't many black people in Korea so it was quite an event for them when I started inviting all my black friends over for sleepovers. Although they probably locked up all their jewelry when this happened, they generally thought this was great. Would they have been as happy if I had brought home a black girlfriend? Hell, no!

In fact, I sometimes like to mess with my parents and ask them whether they'd be happier whether my younger brother married a black woman or a gay Korean. You should see their faces. It's like they're struggling with Fermat's Theorem. Now, I don't blame them for their fear and prejudices. Again, it all comes back to the fear of the unknown.

That's one of the main reasons that BossLady and I make the sacrifices we do in order to have the Peanut grow up in a multi-cultural city like New York. Our friends and neighbors make up a wide diaspora of the rainbow. Our building is two blocks away from several low-income housing projects and we're surrounded by little enclaves filled with recent immigrants from China, Eastern Europe, South America, and places in Africa that you've never even heard of. When the Peanut goes to some of the local playgrounds, it's like a fucking casting call for a Benetton ad. Even the homeless people that sleep right outside our building's doorway come from a wide variety of nations!

And I absolutely love it.

Raising the Peanut in a multi-cultural and multi-racial environment is how we plan to teach her lessons about racism and racial stereotypes.

But I'm curious. For those of you with kids, how do you teach your kids about racism? Do you lead by example? Or do you sit them down and try to explain the concept?

In passing, I leave you with my favorite quote by Denis Leary, "Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list."

Monday, August 21, 2006

What We Did This Weekend

One of The Pumpkin's little friends from the kiddie gym had a party for her second birthday on Saturday. There was a wading pool, a pinata, lots of toys and other kids to play with, and, of course, cake and ice cream—babygirl had a blast. And I had a good time too. So far, I've experienced my current town-of-residence as a pretty conservative, segregated, homogeneous place, but this weekend I got to see a side of it I hadn't experienced before, a side that felt, to a guy raised in a multiculti city and an interracial family, like home. The Pumpkin's birthday-girl playmate was internationally adopted from China by her white mom and Filipino-Mexican-American dad, both natives of this town. At the party, there were white people, Pinoys, Chicanos, racially ambiguous folks who could've been any combination of the above, and you couldn't tell who was related and how. I think that we were the only people there who weren't family or long-time friends, actually. It was nice.

But, of course, I have to tell you about this (and I already told the birthday girl's mom that I was gonna blog about it): Not long after we first got there, and everybody was ooh-ing and aah-ing over The Pumpkin's cuteness, a young Latina (who, again, I have no idea if she was related or just a family friend) commented on her adorableness to me. Then, she goes, "So, did you guys go over there and get them together?" Took me a sec to register what she was talking about, and another beat for me to stammer out that no, they were friends from the kiddie gym. I mean, I know she's 3/4 Asian and I'm hapa, but she still looks like me, doesn't she? Heh.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Grand Naming Conventions

I saw a posting on Blogging Baby about what to call the grandparents. It was interesting to see all the different names, especially from multi-cultural families.

Growing up, my parents called my dad's parents nanay and tatay, which mean mother and father in Tagalog. My sister and I grew up calling our paternal grandparents nanay and tatay, along with all our paternal cousins. Our maternal grandparents were called lola and lolo, which mean grandmother and grandfather. Great aunts, uncles and respected elders were referred to as lola (name) and lolo (name).

Since my son is half-Filipino/half-American it works out very well. My parents are called lola and lolo. But it could have been more complicated on my wife's side since her parents spilt up when she was young and both remarried. My wife's parents also have 4 other grandchildren. So her mom and step-dad are known as grandma and grandpa. And her dad and step-mom are known by their nicknames, Binno and Kugs. My father-in-law got his nickname from early childhood when his younger brother kept pronouncing his name Binno, instead of B.J. (Billy James). His wife's nickname is a derivative of her last name.

Hopefully, I'll be a grandparent some day and they'll call me Lolo Newbie. ;)

What did you call your grandparents? What do your kids call (or will call) their grandparents? What do you want to be called when you're a grandparent?

Monday, August 14, 2006

Soccer Dad: Vacay Torpedoed by Sore Bunghole

Ah the wonder of kids. It's easy to get caught up in "every day is a miracle" type of groove. But nothing shines a klieg light of reality to a glowing parent than a stomach bug.

A week before our vacation, Maceo was sent home from daycare because of diarrhea. So we're thinking: a couple days on the "B.R.A.T." diet thing (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast, plus lean meats and other healthy stuff) and he'll be good to go for our road trip. Well, five days later, he's far from regular, still shooting dirty brown dish water from his poor sore hole. We filled a Diaper Genie in two days. The diaper rash got bad--his butthole looks like Ronald McDonald puckered up and planted a big one on his starfish. Advice nurse says it takes 7-9 days for diarrhea to completely exit.

Now we're getting nervous, we don't want to drive him five hours with his bunghole and intestinal tract in disrepair. We postpone our vacation a day to make sure he's 100 percent. Though his rear end is healing, he's still crapping more than his fair share. Then today he got a fever. A day late and faced with a new potential malady ahead, we cancel our vacation to nurse our little guy to health. Dag!

I implore Desitin to investigate a new line of diaper rash soothers: Desitin Pookie Popsickles. Pull one from the freezer, roll them around the affected area. Cools, soothes, relieves with healing lanolin and protective zinc oxide. You see? With vacation shot and no work, my brain is left with nothing but time.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

"oriental mom going to work.jpg"

So I was on Google Images looking for something to illustrate a post on d.i.s.l., and I was using the search term "going to work." Amidst a page of random thumbnails with "going to work" somewhere in their file titles was this one, titled—yes, you read that correctly—"oriental mom going to work.jpg."

Ori-what now?! I had to click on it, just to see [and of course had to share with y'all, 'cause who else am I gonna tell about something like that?]: the captionless photo is illustrating an informational page (copyright 2001) about—wait for it—"an on-going, educational and support group for new and experienced mothers." "Transitions: Mothering Today" at Redlands Community Hospital in Southern California "is designed to help moms effectively handle demanding lifestyles of today. You will glean informative tips and practical skills from other mothers that have made their lives easier and more rewarding. Your children are welcome to come with you." Guess Orientals are welcome too. Good to know!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Family Fun This Saturday for SoCal Rice Fams

FYI for all my rice daddies, rice mamas, and rice kiddies in the LA area: the Japanese American National Museum in downtown LA (369 East First St., LA 90012; 213-625-0414) is holding its 8th Annual Courtyard Kids Family Festival this Saturday, August 12, from 1 to 7 p.m. This year's theme is "Every Day is Children's Day," and the arts and crafts, play area, book readings and signings, and musical performances are free [food and admission to the museum galleries are extra, however].

The festivities include a book signing by hapa artiste-provocateur-extraordinaire Kip Fulbeck, of his hapa portrait study "part asian • 100% hapa," the exhibit of which the JANM is hosting concurrently.

Also on hand to sign books will be the author of the marketing-tie-in novel for Jess, American Girl's hapa nikkeijin Girl of the Year. You can even enter a raffle to win a Jess doll! Heh. [If you don't remember my reaction to Jess, and to American Girl in general, here's a link to my post from April, and a link to an article in the JACL's Pacific Citizen newspaper that quotes your truly on the issue.]

In all seriousness, for those living in or visiting the Greater Los Angeles Metropolitan Area, my dear hometown, the JANM is great place to stop by. I've been a member since the museum opened, and once, in an early exhibit on America's concentration camps, we even found my grandfather in a group photo from Tule Lake. The museum's website hosts an interactive children's section called the "JANM Kids Bento Box," and in conjunction with the hapa photo exhibit, Target is hosting several "Free Family Saturdays" with special activities and free admission to the museum (Sept. 9, Oct. 14, and Nov. 11).

ADDENDUM: Eliaday just reminded me that LA's Little Tokyo is also hosting the soy-licious annual LA Tofu Festival both days this weekend, so check out the website for more info. Befitting the festival motto "It's Hip to be Square," they've got everybody from Blackalicious rocking Saturday night's concert to cooking demos with the o.g. Iron Chef himself, Masaharu Morimoto (and others). [Eliaday writes that she and baby Tae rocked both the Tofu Festival and the JANM Courtyard Kids Family Festival last year—check it out here.]