Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chinese Boys are not Normal...

Sometime around Valentine’s Day I was chatting with my 5 year old daughter about what the holiday means. I can’t recall how we got onto the topic of marriage but I was teasing my daughter. Now my mom is very traditional who wants all her kids and grandkids to marry Chinese (well she got 1 out of 3 for her kids). So I playfully ask my daughter, “Grandma will want you to marry someone Chinese, so when you grow up are you going to marry a Chinese boy?” She replies, “No.” “Why not?” I ask. “Because they’re not normal,” she replies matter of factly.

Huh? That wasn’t the response I expected.

First of all, I don’t have any problems with interracial relationships based on mutual respect of the individuals and I grew up in a pretty mixed family. And neither will I pressure my children to marry a person of a certain race or ethnicity. IMHO, it’s all about the individual. However, we know Asian men are unfairly represented in American society and myself, my fellow Ricedaddies here and many other individuals are working to counter that. But I didn’t think I already need to start doing that with a 5 year old.

“Because they’re not normal…” What could possibly be going on in the mind of a 5 year old to cause her to say that? Did grandma already start pressuring her? (My mom’s insistence only served to push me away from Chinese girls when I was growing up, rebel effect if you will.) Was it something someone told her? Something she saw? Did William Hung come to Arizona???

“Why are they not normal?” I finally decide to ask her. “Because they aren’t…” Gah, typical 5 year old response, got to change strategy.

“Are your brothers normal?” (Oops, took a risk, maybe normal wasn’t a good term to apply to my sons, hehe.) “Yes.”

“But aren’t they Chinese?” “No.” “Is Daddy Chinese?” “No.” OK, now I am really confused. I need reinforcements. “HONEYYYYYY!” and I explain it to my wife when she arrives.

“What type of boy do you want to marry?” And without hesitation she names her oldest brother whom she absolutely adores.

OKAYYYYY… As my wife and I discussed it later, she concluded our daughter wasn’t identifying herself as Chinese because we don’t speak Chinese at home and the “real” Chinese people are the ones she meets at Chinese school. And my wife thinks the “not normal” part comes from the Asian boys she has had contact with. To be fair, I don’t think they aren’t normal at all. But they are her age and in my daughter’s perception just aren’t as good as her gold standard oldest brother. (Argh, I think her standards might be pretty darn high because her oldest brother really did a good job of playing with and caring for her. Maybe I should feel sorry for her future spouse… Or [evil laugh] I could do more damage by having her watch My Sassy Girl!)

But that leaves the question open about her own self identity and I wonder how my sons view themselves. (My guess is that they feel they are just who they are at this point.) My wife and I have never directly brought up the issue of identity before because we didn’t feel the need to at this age. But without any real domestic Asian American culture around where we live, maybe we ought to start planning a strategy to show that Asian Americans aren’t foreign and foreign Asians are normal.

The kids have some exposure to some foreign language media, are learning Chinese, etc. But what is lacking is unbiased media with Asian Americans speaking English and doing what Asian Americans do. (The last time they had that was watching Survivor: Cook Islands with me, LOL!) So I guess it’s something we need to work on.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Soccer Dad: Run the Lines

So to keep readers from thinking Rice Daddies has transformed into a kiddie book circle, I thought I’d update y’all with something scintillating…like my ankle. It’s been five months since that awful day and all medical intervention is finished. I got the screws (pictured) removed a few weeks ago and the staples out last week. The incision is closed and healing well, so I went out for my first real workout. Did some calf raises, squats, leg presses and such. Hit the treadmill and jogged for ten minutes! It felt awkward since it’s still tight but that will change as the muscles build up and my balance comes back. Up until that day, if I had to chase down Maceo, I was doing this Pegleg Pete Pirate Walk (PPP-Walk).

After the gym, I hitched up the dog and went to the local high school where I ran the bleachers. The new turf field looked tempting, so I went down and ran some touchlines. Side to side, backwards, forwards, up and back. My lungs definitely need to get to speed but it was such a relief to work up a real sweat. It rained but I stayed out, enjoying the coolness. Then I soaked the ankle in our pool.

The picture is of the hardware. Remember those two long screws? When the doctor opened me up, he saw that i had broken both of them. The screws were drilled into my fibula and tibia to reduce motion—it was impossible to do the Kimchi Squat™—and breaking them off is a common occurrence with active people who accelerate the healing process. No biggie, he said.

A soccer pal rang me up on Sunday. It’s the same chaos as always at our regular game, he said. Can’t wait to get out there—probably a month and a half.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Book Review Contest: Momotaro

Title: Momotaro
Illustrator: George Suyeoka
Reviewer: peachboy

I wish that I could list a whole bunch of multicultural books from my childhood. Alas, nothing by bell hooks in 70's. Amidst the Dr. Seuss, Beverly Cleary, and Frank Baum, is this one: Momotaro (peach boy). If you ain't hip to this, it's the Japanese fable of a boy that emerges from a peach, grows up, and kicks much ass fighting ogres and saving villages.

I dug this book for several reasons, maybe then articulated as "The drawings are cool and the people look like us." Today, I still enjoy the graphic quality of the illustrations -- color-saturated, with bites of Hiroshige. My grandfather's name was Momotaro. His fifth and youngest daughter, my mother, is Momoko. Her husband, my father, is a now retired peach farmer. How could we not see our family in this book? It is a must-read for our babygirl in the coming years.

The Rice Daddies Blogaversary Children's Book Review contest is ovah! Thanks to all who submitted reviews. Stay tuned for an announcement about winners and prizes (from Kane Miller Book Publishers) coming soon!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book Review Contest: The Snowy Day

Title: The Snowy Day
Author/Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats
Reviewer: eliaday

When we were living in southern California, I just couldn't get used to having Christmas with no snow. For my daughter's first Christmas, I gave her a copy of Ezra Jack Keats' The Snowy Day. I have always loved this book - because I always wished that one morning *I* would wake up and find heaping mountains of snow to climb up and down and explore.

I forget that to my daughter - the piles of snow outside now in Massachusetts do probably look like giant mountains. The Snowy Day reminds me of the beauty of the simple things in life - a day spent outside with your best friend in the snow, telling your mom about your adventures, and having them start all over again the next morning when you wake up.

We could all use a few snowy days in our lives.

(I can't help but add that issues of race and class could be addressed through this book. I never really noticed race in this book when I was little. What I did notice was that Peter only had to go across the hall to get his friend. I thought that that was just about the coolest thing - to live in an apartment building.)

Your chance to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest and win some great new books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers ends tonight. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Book Review Contest: The ValueTale Series

Title: The ValueTale Series
Authors: Spencer and Anne Donegan Johnson
Illustrator: Steve Pileggi
Reviewer: Carol

One of my favorites was the ValueTale series. They are out of print now, but when I was a kid, we had the entire set. There were about 40 or so books and I read each and every one of them. Each book was a biography of a historical figure who embodied a particular value, such as courage, kindness, determination. Some that I remember the best are: The Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Value of Determination: The Story of Helen Keller, The Value of Giving: The Story of Beethoven, and The Value of Caring: The Story of Eleanor Roosevelt. I read these over, over and over again.

I think what appealed to me (besides the illustrations and the not very historically accurate anthropomorphic sidekicks) was that I could as a child relate to these individuals as people, not just get rote awareness of their historical accomplishments. And I still enjoy biographies (although these days, it's more television-based) as a way of learning and understanding history. To this day, I credit the series for my first exposure to a number of scientists, philosophers, artists, athletes, activists, humanitarians, politicians and many other backgrounds. Some of these were people of color, or from different countries/cultures, some were women - so it was also an early introduction to recognizing that everyone can contribute, do great things, overcome obstacles, help others, be good people.

Your chance to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest and win some great new books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers ends tonight. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book Review Contest: Morris Has a Cold

Title: Morris Has a Cold
Author/Illustrator: Bernard Wiseman
Reviewer: Kerri Aldrich

I used to love Morris the Moose books as a kid, though as an adult I
couldn't remember why. Then I started reading them again with my
daughter, and it hit me. Morris is a 5-6 year old child! He is so
very literal, and in his mind words should mean exactly what they say.

In Morris Has a Cold, Wiseman accurately portrays a day in the life of
a parent (or caregiver) and a sick child, minus the woods and antlers
and such. :) When asked by Boris the Bear how his throat feels, Morris
touches it and replies, "hairy." When told to eat his soup by putting
his spoon in his mouth, Morris obeys....and puts the entire spoon in
his mouth. The illustration on that one is priceless and makes me
smile. After spending many weeks of this very new year already tending
to the needs of one sick child after another, I can completely relate
to Boris's declaration at the end of the story, once he's nursed Morris
back to health, of "DON'T EVER GET SICK AGAIN!"

I think I'm also attracted to these stories because Bernard Wiseman
both authors and illustrates the book, and does both very well. The
words and the pictures compliment each other superbly, but also each
tell the complete story on their own. Makes for a fun reading
experience all around.

You have until tomorrow night, February 23, to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Book Review Contest: Little Miss Shy

Title: Little Miss Shy
Author/Illustrator: Roger Hargreaves
Reviewer: Superha

I was never much of a reader growing up. Just ask my sister. She’ll tell you that I spent more time outdoors than in. In fact, I ne’er did see a basketball, tree, or bike that I didn’t like. I used to tease my older sis about her bookworm tendencies. I was a true tomboy… a terror on two legs, really. I’ve mellowed out since then. But I do remember that one of the only series of books that I really enjoyed were the “Little Miss” and “Mr. Men” books by Roger Hargreaves. Almost everyone can find a part of themselves in at least one of the characters. He’s got a ton of them (meet them all on the Mr. website) [and see Superha's blog for a full hyperlinked character list--somebody was busy last night!--ed.].

“Mr. Tickle” made me laugh (it’s also the most popular “Mr. Men” book), “Little Miss Chatterbox” was cool because my Mom actually got “Little Miss Chatterbox” matching t-shirts for me and my sis, and “Little Miss Shy” is just so darned cute. Seriously, how could anyone not love her bashful little face? And those teeny tiny bangs?

I think I loved the intricate weaving of the storylines, the profound lessons, and the complexity of the syntax in Hargreaves’ books. Alright, in all honesty, I loved the simplicity of the tales, the exaggeration of all the protagonists’ characteristics, and the way everything comes together at the end. Each book is only about 30 pages long and half of it is illustrations (the drawings are fun and easy for kids to understand). It wasn’t a big time commitment on my part. I could read one of these and still hit the sidewalk with my skateboard before the sun went down.

I bought a bunch of these books for my daughter Ashley just before her first birthday. I would read them to her and act out all the characters. It felt so amazing to read something to your child while at the same time remembering what it was like to be one yourself. Since Ash is one rambunctious little girl, the theme for her first birthday party was actually “Little Miss Trouble” (we handed out copies of the various characters as party favors). But I do hope that Ashley takes to books a bit sooner than I did. I wish I had started reading earlier on in life. I eventually went on to take advanced english literature and journalism classes in high school, major in english and communication in college, and become a TV news reporter so I guess I ain’t half bad (I know, I know… ain’t ain’t a word).

Anyway, “Little Miss Shy” is a wonderful book about a super introverted little girl (she’s blue but I’m guessing she’s a girl or perhaps an uncredited Smurf?) who’s so shy, she won’t even leave her house called Thimble Cottage. She grew her own food so she wouldn’t have to go shopping. Then, one day, she received a big knock on her door from the postman delivering an invitation from Mr. Funny to attend a party full of … people! Oh, no. Not people (Soylent green is PEOPLE, but that’s a different story altogether)! Poor, Little Miss Shy. She’s up day and night worrying about the party. She even cries because she wishes she weren’t so shy. I like that many of Hargreaves’ stories have something that most kids identify with. Stories like this have helped so many children over the years. I enjoyed “Mr. Tall” because I was always one of the tallest girls in class growing up. I think I’ve been about 5′9″ since the 5th grade. I also have a “Mr. Tall” t-shirt that I wear occasionally. But enough about me. Back to the book. Does Little Miss Shy overcome her fear and go to the party anyway? And is there someone out there even more shy than Little Miss Shy? In perfect O. Henry fashion, there’s a great twist at the end of most of these books. I won’t give it away here, but you and your own “Little Miss Fun” or “Mr. Mischief” will definitely enjoy it.

You have until this Friday, February 23, to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Monday, February 19, 2007

d.i.s.l. (yeah, me) co-hosts on Addicted to Race about anti-racist parenting

So I'm the co-host of this week's edition of Addicted to Race, "the podcast dedicated to America's obsession with race," produced by the same folks behind Racialicious and Anti-Racist Parent.

Dr. Lo Siento's ARP column about choosing to live in a more racially/ethnically diverse community because of the considerations of raising a child of color, which I cross-posted here [while he was off relaxing in freakin' Hawaii], provoked a lot of interesting reactions. This topic is definitely something la dra. and I talk about often, so I took the opportunity to use my co-hosting gig to talk a little more about this. It seems that a lot of folks in our corner of the parentblogosphere are thinking about these and related issues lately: take a look at these two posts from frequent RD commenters Rachel and Carol. Go take a listen to my podcasting debut here, and then, if you're so inspired, call 206-203-3983 to leave a voicemail comment for inclusion in next week's episode (we'd love to get more voices of parents on the show).

Book Review Contest: Goodnight Moon

Title: Goodnight Moon
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Clement Hurd
Reviewer: Christina Williams

As a child I loved the book "Good Night Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown. When my mom read it to me we would always try to look for the mouse in each double page spread. Now I read this book to my two year old daughter and we look for the mouse again. By the time we get to the end of the book I am whispering the last sentence as if it's about to disappear into the air and be a part of her dreams. This book is about a little bunny who, like most kiddies, tries to put off sleep for as long as possible. As the evening wears on the little bunny says good night to all the things in its room until it is sleepy and ready for bed. The simple illustrations by Clement Hurd, in a basic four color scheme of red, blue, green, and yellow are delightful and sweet. Look to see how the moon travels across the window and how the hands on the clock have moved, or how the lighting gets dimmer with the turn of each page to illustrate the passage of time. As an added bonus, check out one of the "paintings" in a double page spread and you will find it is an illustration to another story by Margaret Wise Brown called "The Runaway Bunny", also illustrated by Clement Hurd.

We love this book, in fact, my daughter almost always has to read it multiple times in a row -thereby defeating the purpose of "winding down to bed", but it's worth it.

You have until this Friday, February 23, to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Friday, February 16, 2007

Book Review Contest: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Title: Where the Sidewalk Ends
Author/Illustrator: Shel Silverstein
Reviewer: Stephanie

As a child, I was not much of a reader. I preferred to play outside in the dirt, ride my bike with my next door neighbor and play board games. My sister and mother have been lifelong readers, and I think that it was a disappointment to my mother that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about books as she was. The one exception was the book Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. Filled with fanciful drawings and funny, ridiculous and sometimes very poignant poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends is a wonderful book for children of all ages.

One of my favorite poems from the book, titled “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout would not take the garbage out,” is about a little girl who didn’t finish her chores.

Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout
Would not take the garbage out!
She’d scour the pots and scrape the pans,
Candy the yams and spice the hams,
And though her daddy would scream and shout,
She simply would not take the garbage out.

When finally the garbage touched the sky and no one would come over to play anymore, she decides to take out the garbage. Of course, it is too late and now she has to live with the consequences.

Another one, “Listen to the Mustn’ts,” is just beautiful.

Listen to the MUSN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me –
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

My mother and sister are still both readers, and as an adult I have joined the ranks of those who love books. I now spend time reading daily to my almost five year old daughter Leah (her current favorite being the Junie B. Jones series) and I plan to introduce the wonderful poems of Where the Sidewalk Ends to her soon.

You have until February 23 to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Book Review Contest: little blue and little yellow

Title: little blue and little yellow
Author/Illustrator: Leo Lionni
Reviewer: Rachel

When I was a kid, one of my favorite picture books was little blue and little yellow by Leo Lionni, and recently I bought a copy of it for my daughter. The illustrations are just blobs of tissue paper. I really wish I'd thought of that first.

In the book two tissue-paper blobs, little blue and little yellow, play together, then hug each other until they turn green. Their parents do not recognize them initially, but later learn to accept their friendship. Little blue and little yellow teaches a simple lesson about colors, and another, more subtle lesson about prejudice. The story is bittersweet, and I love the mid-century simplicity of the art. The language is simple and there are just a few words per page, so it's perfect for the toddler.

You have until February 23 to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dr. Lo on ARP: Raising children in a town without ethnic diversity

So normally I'd just wait and have Dr. Lo Siento crosspost his latest piece from Anti-Racist Parent himself. But he's in freakin' Hawaii at a medical conference (one last hurrah for him and his wife before little Maximus arrives)--my wife was covering for him yesterday, and he calls her at the clinic, ostensibly to check on his patients, but really 'cause he was bored. In Hawaii! Dude, whatever... Anyway, his latest piece went up on ARP this morning, and already there are some, uh, interesting responses. So I'm reposting it here, and also encouraging y'all to go over and comment over there (but comment here too!).

My wife and I currently live in Central California which is different for us since it has that small town sort of feel. The majority of the population is Caucasian and Latino. Overall, there is a large conservative population here.

As a future parent, Jenny and I thought about whether we could raise a child in this area. It is completely different from what we are used to, being that I am from Orange County and my wife is from Chicago where there is significantly more ethnic diversity.

Unfortunately, we have had a few experiences here where we felt like we were being treated differently because of our ethnicity. There have been times when we were in restaurants where we were the only non-Caucasians(very weird feeling) and felt that service was poor toward us more than the other customers. My wife was blown away the first time it happened since she had never felt that way before growing up in Chicago. It’s hard now because anytime we are waiting longer at a restaurant for service, my wife feels paranoid that it is because we are Asian.

She has often raised the issue that are we taken advantage of because people know that we won’t cause a commotion or we won’t complain if they make us wait longer than someone else. Is it because Asian-Americans are stereotyped as being submissive and docile? It’s hard to say, but I don’t want my child to become paranoid that he is being treated differently because of his ethnicity. It is so hard to think about how we can protect our child from all the racism and prejudice in the world.

Does it make a difference to live in a city where there is more ethnic diversity? This is a challenging question that we deal with when thinking about raising our soon to be born baby. I can say that we have decided to move back to Orange County in a few months for this as well as other reasons. More importantly, I hope that at home we teach our child appreciation and respect for all cultures and that he should take a stand against discrimination whether it’s directed towards him or someone else.

Book Review Contest: The Funny Little Woman

Title: The Funny Little Woman
Author: Arlene Mosel
Illustrator: Blair Lent
Reviewer: Mommy de Gallo

I absolutely loved this book when I was growing up. Making "rice balls", rice paddles, Jizo, and oni were all things that I could relate to. I had the hardest time finding this book for my daughter because I could not remember what the exact title was. I was fortunate to come across it in a thrift store, and it has quickly become a favorite in our house. Tee-hee-hee!

You have until February 23 to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Book Review Contest: Panda Cake

Title: Panda Cake
Author: Rosalie Seidler
Reviewer: Kim

"A panda cake, a panda cake, mama is making a panda cake!" And mmm... with ingredients like apples and roots and bamboo shoots, you know that this will be a tasty treat! Unfortunately, when mama sends her two panda sons out for supplies, the elder Willy chooses to "borrow" a few things from the other animals so he can spend her hard-earned panda cash at the local fair. When little brother arrives home to mama, not only is he carrying all of the freshest ingredients - he's also soon followed by some angry critters! Mama chooses to make the best of the situation, inviting all of the animals to stay and partake in the yummiest cake they've ever eaten. And by the time Willy gets home from carnival, there's not a single slice left for him!

Although I always liked the story of Panda Cake, it's the simple black and white illustrations of the portly pandas that made me fall in love with this book. I read it to my 15 month old daughter frequently and she seems to enjoy the rhymes. My husband, however, has made it his duty to point out the one slight... flaw in the book. Sure, Willy can take apples from the pig's tree, or cherries from a bird. And yes, they can still enjoy the finished product. But having the goose gobble down a cake made from it's own eggs??? I suppose I never picked up on that detail as a kid! Regardless, I still treasure my childhood copy of the book. Cake, anyone?

You have until February 23 to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Book Review Contest: Trouble for Trumpets

Title: Trouble for Trumpets
Author: Peter Dallas-Smith
Illustrator: Peter Cross
Reviewer: Kim

Trouble for Trumpets is a timeless story of good versus evil: "As the Trumpets, summer creatures who live in a world of warmth and sunshine, prepare to hibernate, the Grumpets, winter creatures who live in the dark, frozen mountains of the north, prepare to take over their land." What makes this book an amazing read, however, is the amazing artistry of Peter Cross. First off, who wouldn't love a Trumpet (or Grumpet, for that matter) - they're a cute cross between a hippo and a teddy bear, with English style to boot! The tale is narrated by Podd, a watchman of sorts for the Trumpet folk. As he helps to defend his people from Grumpet attack, you're drawn into page after page of intricate scenes detailing everyday Trumpet life. With influences ranging from Magritte to M.C. Escher to Rube Goldberg and more, you'll find yourself spending hours looking for the hidden oddities / faces / jokes in every realistically-but-magically drawn page. I swear that everytime I picked up this book, I found yet another new thing to amaze myself. My grandfather gave me this book before he passed away so it holds a great deal of sentimental value for me; when I went online recently to find a copy for a relative, I was amazed to see that it fetches quite a bit. (Somehow, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a second copy at a local used bookstore for just $5 - woohoo!) Anyway, I highly recommend skimming through a copy if you're ever lucky enough to snag one!

You have until February 23 to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

ARP wants your tips for anti-racist parenting

From Anti-Racist Parent, where both I and Dr. Lo Siento are proud to be columnists, comes this call for anti-racist parenting tips. Writes site founder Carmen Van Kerckhove:

What’s your best tip for anti-racist parenting?

I’m putting together a free e-book called How to Be an Anti-Racist Parent: Real-Life Parents Share Real-Life Tips that will be made available to everyone who visits this blog.

May I get a tip (or several, even!) from you? Here are some possible topics to get you thinking:

•What books, activities or toys do you recommend for children?
•How do you handle awkward questions from strangers about your child?
•What books or videos/DVDs do you recommend for parents who want to educate themselves about racism?
•How do you instill a good sense of self-esteem in your child?
•How do you work with teachers to create the best possible learning environment for your child?
•How do you teach children about racism in an age-appropriate way?
•or anything else you’d like to share…

Let other parents benefit from what you’ve learned by sharing your tips, stories and recommendations with us!

Here’s how to do it:

Email your submissions to, and be sure to do the following:

•Write “parenting tips” in the subject line
•Specify what name you’d like us to use, or if you’d like it to be anonymous
•Include a URL to your blog or web site, if you’d like
•Keep each tip, story or recommendation to 500 words or less

If chosen, your tip — in your own words — will be published in the e-book next month. It will be made available to everyone who visits this blog.

The deadline for submissions is 5 pm Eastern, February 28, 2007.

Thanks so much!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Heir and a Spare, a Barbie Doll and an...

Accident. Nope, just kidding! My wife and I actually did want 4 kids. I always wanted a large family because I enjoyed playing with and taking care of kids. I think being one of the older cousins in my family contributed to that since we older ones had to take care of the younger ones at family gatherings. My wife was the opposite, she was on the younger end of her cousin chain so she didn’t have much experience. In fact, I used to rib her lack of babysitting skills.

Somehow I must have rubbed off on her because she decided on a big family too. She told me one day while she was waiting to pick me up at the airport she saw a family with 4 kids. The sight of each child, their heads step laddering down in height from oldest to youngest was too cute. That did it for her, 4 was the magic number so our plan was 2 boys and 2 girls.

I admit I was relieved that the first was a boy (the “Heir”), if just to placate the more traditional elements in our families. So we were ready for number 2 to be a girl but the ancestors must have been pleased to have another boy (the “Spare”). Now we really wanted a girl so much that my wife got some book on strategies for gender selection and it must have worked because my wife finally got her “Barbie Doll” to play with. But ancestors got the last laugh because we got lazy on #4 and another bouncing baby boy arrived.

Am I crazy for wanting 4? I don’t think I am. I mean, most Asian families used to have many kids, my Ma-Ma (paternal grandmother) was youngest of 13. When I grow old and look back on things, am I going to regret not spending more hours at work or having the family we always wanted? So I just smile and tell people 4 is just a small family.

I admit it drives me crazy when people discuss having children as a material tradeoff. Sure I can understand if it is about lack of time, but most people seem to view kids as a cost forcing them to lose out on a better car, a fancier house, etc. (I remember one person who basically said they bought a new house so they can’t afford another kid and because they wanted a lot of upgrades…) Ugh, kids are not UPGRADES to attach price tags to! If you and your spouse really want “X” number of kids, I say just do it. Affordability is all relative; look I am just as poor with four kids as I was with one! And your child won’t miss a few less toys when the best toy he/she could ever have is a sibling. But the person that really drives me crazy about this is…

my very own mother!

She is absolutely obsessed about the costs of raising our kids (and she raised 3). How could we afford this or that she would constantly ask. And how could we pay for 4 college educations? (To me, it isn’t about raising the funds for good colleges, it’s about raising good kids.) While she thinks of herself as very traditional (and once wanted 10 grandchildren) what’s with the Material Girl routine now? Seems she isn’t alone, Asian families across the world are shrinking in size despite greater prosperity.

I have a suspicion that whereas my grandparents generation prided themselves on large families and would expect their children to care for them, my mother has decided that the almighty dollar is more reliable. I remember since I was little she would keep asking me (and my siblings) if I would care for her in her old age over and over again, which I thought was silly but maybe that is just her insecurity. And yet she really enjoys the grandkids immensely.

I guess I subscribe to the traditional view that family is wealth. We seem to having a good time and I don't miss the better car or fancy house.

Book Review Contest: The Story of Ferdinand

Title: The Story of Ferdinand
Author: Munro Leaf
Illustrator: Robert Lawson
Reviewer: Naomi Shapiro

I always loved this story about the bull who didn't like to fight, preferring to smell the flowers and lounge in the shade. Seems entirely reasonable to me! My daughter turns three next month and she loves it, too.

You have until February 23 to enter our Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest to win some great new books. Click here for details and send your submissions to

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Moved to the beta the New Blogger..., if y'all have any problems, like with posting comments or anything, due to the changeover, please let us know.

And fellow Rice Daddies, please switch your accounts over to the New Blogger/Google Accounts a.s.a.p. so that your posting access is uninterrupted. Thanks, everybody.

See, we're good losers, part one

Remember that friendly little competition we had with the Kimchi Mamas? You know, the one that y'all helped us lose by a measly one contest entry? Well, we're no sore losers, so, as agreed upon, go check out the first of three "most embarrassing parenting moments" our team owes them, courtesy of our own Henri. More to come...we promise. Heh.

Speaking of contests, don't forget to enter our blogaversary children's book review contest, with entries due by Feb. 23 to win some awesome new kids' books.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Time to be Baseball Daddy

I know a good portion of the nation is under heavy snow but here in Arizona the Little League baseball season is already gearing up. I am a Baseball Daddy as my Number One Monster has displayed some pretty good hitting talent and we are getting pretty excited about another season.

Last weekend they held tryouts. For those of you unfamiliar with Little League baseball the spring season is the competitive one that leads to State Championships and the Little League World Series. In the interest of fairness, our league employs a draft hence the need for tryouts. As protective parents you might be thinking how horrible it would be to place our nervous kids who probably didn’t swing a bat all winter in front of 100+ parents and 2 dozen managers with pencil in hand rating every misstep of our kids in hitting, catching and throwing. Yeah it really is that bad and the anxiety shows; 90%+ of the kids at the tryouts whiffed on all 3 machine pitched balls.

So for my son, the competitor in me scouted the pitching. I told my son waiting in line that the pitch would be coming in high to him so he needed to position himself at the back of the batters box to let the ball drop more. He said “OK.” Alright, I go back to the stands and wait for his home runs...

Unfortunately my son “left his brain at home” as he tends to do and when it was his turn he backs away from the plate to the outer side of the batters box instead. I yelled from the crowd to back up (not something you want to do often as managers might think you are a DIA (“Dad Is an Ass” in Little League parlance) and not draft your kid because of that) but Number One Monster misunderstands again and backs up even further away from the plate. Aiyah!

They say sports is 90% mental, lemme tell ya, it's absolutely true!

Well, he lucked out in that his skill overcame his deficiency in brain cells and he lined two of the three balls squarely (the one he whiffed on was way high as I had feared.) He further lucked out in that no other hitter his age hit as well as he did. So tryouts done, now comes the networking…

Because my son is 9 he is eligible to be drafted into the older minors division, AAA (where the pitching is faster and more consistent) over the younger minors division, AA (where the pitching can be downright atrocious but hey that is what it is with young kids learning to pitch). Last year he was lucky to be drafted into AA, did well and had a great time. But to face the same loopy pitching would unbearable, my son gets discouraged when he walks on 4 pitches again and again (plus there is at least one PITA AA manager I don't want him to get drafted by.)

So I need to talk to a AAA manager to draft him because at this point all these managers know about my son is his Tryout Number and at best 100 seconds of watching him. I thinking it can’t be too hard, he did well in tryouts. I managed to talk to my only acquaintance who is a AAA manager and he tells me the league initiated a rule limiting each team to one 9 year old and his son would take that slot (and that is how most young kids get drafted up, their father is the manager). Doh!

So now what to do without looking like a DIA?! I don’t know any of the other managers. Maybe I need to get my wife involved, some managers draft by the time honored GLM principle (the “Good Looking Mom.”) Nah, just kidding but seriously I have to figure how much of a pushy parent I want to be.

To be continued...

Book Review Contest: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Stone Fox

Title: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Author: Judi Barrett
Illustrator:Ron Barrett

Title: Stone Fox
Author: John Reynolds Gardiner

Reviewer: Honglien123

I SO do not want to work today and I'm currently on a conference call. The odds of me paying attention are very low anyway. I saw your post on Rice Daddies and while there are several books that I will be shoving into my children's faces when they get old enough, as soon as I became pregnant, there were two that I specifically went out to buy for them because I loved them so much as a child. One of the books, I've already shared with the kids, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, about a small town called Chewandswallow where food comes down from the sky. It's a fun picture book that I loved when I was in elementary school and so I bought it and read it to my daughter everyday when I was pregnant with her and every now and then she'll request it. Food coming down from the sky, what's not to like?

The other book I had to get, since my copy had long since been lended out and disappeared, was Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner. Stone Fox is about a young boy named Willy who lives with his grandfather and his dog Searchlight on his grandfather's potato farm. One day, Willy's grandfather becomes ill and Willy finds out that there are property taxes due on the farm. While Willy and Searchlight work hard to keep the farm running, their only hope of earning enough money to save the farm is for Willy to win a big dog sledding race where he has to go up against a large silent Native American man named Stone Fox who wants to win the race for his own noble reasons. I had to buy this book for my kids and I will read it to them when they are ready because it was one of the first books to really hook me onto reading. I read it in fourth grade, but I remember so clearly being able to see in my mind Willy and Searchlight training for the big race. I remember admiring Willy for working so hard to help his grandfather, not because he had to, but because he loved him and that's what you do for people you love. This book speaks volumes about love, loyalty, and compassion; even the reason for the taxes is explained in a manner that makes them seem fair. It is a book that didn't hold back any hard realities about life and assumes that the child audience reading it is smart and mature enough to handle all the issues that Willy faced, even down to the heartbreaking ending. Reading Stone Fox as a child took me away from my world and put me in the shoes of a young boy who had problems so much bigger than my own, but who managed them with levelheadedness and determination. I was rooting so hard for Willy that the ending took my breath away and made me cry for days. In fact, I'm tearing up as we speak just thinking about it.

Of course I have to share this book with my children and with you. That's the real reason why I'm telling you about it. =)

Thanks to longtime RD reader Honglien123 for being our first contest entrant! Don't forget, you have until Feb. 23 to send us a review of your favorite children's book from your childhood that you want to share (or have already shared) with your kids, for a chance to win some great new books. For complete details, see this post.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Have no Fear, Monster Daddy is Here!

Hello Fellow Rice Daddies and fans!

I’ve been a fan of this blog for some time and I decided to take the plunge so this is my very first blog entry ever!

I guess you may wonder why I decided to call myself Monster Daddy. Is it because I have four (eek 4!!!) kids? Is it because my four kids are monsters driving me to premature heart failure? Is it because of the way I treat my kids when they act up? (No, but sometimes the thought crosses my mind, hehe…) Actually, it’s from Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, Elmo and Zoe monsters (yep Elmo and Zoe’s “race” per Sesame Street is actually monster). My wife adores these characters and we took to the habit of calling our kids monsters (and most of the time it is with affection…)

So who am I? I am a 2nd generation ABC who was lucky enough to be married to another 2nd generation ABC and living in sunny Arizona. 2nd generation meaning we were the first generation born in America so our children’s grandparents are the ones who immigrated to America. I think of my kids as lucky to be 3rd generation Americans, growing up my parents were too busy trying to adjust and eek out a living to know what is baseball, SATs, prom, spring break, etc. (not that I fault them for it, er well not anymore…)

My oldest is 9, the youngest is 2, in order; boy/boy/girl/boy. So have no fear, I am surviving with four and by now I probably have lots of stories to share. But aside from the fun stuff, I feel it is important to recognize that Asian American parents face some unique circumstances in America. I can only offer my perspective but I feel we are doing a good job with the kids (they haven’t dropped out of school… yet!) so I hope it is worth sharing.

Thank you for this opportunity!

Happy -24th Blogaversary RD!

Well, for reasons peripherally related to my day job, I had a chance to imagine a magazine which didn't exist. I came up with a riff on Rice Daddies, and how it might have existed circa 1982 as a xeroxed zine.

Happy -24th, Ricedaddies!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Rice Daddies 1st Blogaversary Children's Book Review Contest

A year ago today, a bunch of Asian American guys who happened to be dads—or a bunch of dads who happened to be Asian American—dubbed themselves the "Rice Daddies" and started the blog you're reading right now. We wanted a place where we could write about being dads, and what it meant to be Asian American dads raising a new generation of Asian American kids. Over the past 12 months, we've been funny, we've been serious, we've been sappy, we've been controversial—new dads have joined us to tell their stories, and you, our readers, have been here to read and comment and listen and talk back. Like a dad of a newborn, we didn't always think we'd make it through the first year, but we did—we're here, still kicking, and ready to keep embarrassing our kids and partners for another 12 months and beyond.

To celebrate our first blogaversary, we're having a contest. Send us a review of your favorite book from your own childhood that you want to share (or have already shared) with your own kid(s) and we'll publish them as we get them. Each reviewer [you can submit more than one review, but you'll only be entered once] will be entered into a random drawing for a chance to win some awesome books from Kane/Miller Book Publishers. With the motto "open-minded books opening young minds to the world," Kane/Miller has been bringing acclaimed international children's books, often in translation, to a U.S. audience for years. You probably know them for such classics as Japanese author/illustrator Taro Gomi's "Everyone Poops," and they have titles from countries on every continent except Antarctica. We're pleased to partner with Kane/Miller to provide a selection of titles from Asian countries of origin as prizes in this contest.

So, you have until the end of the day Friday, February 23 to get your submissions in to, with an Amazon link, whatever name you want to be called, and your URL if you have one. Winners will be announced on Monday, Feb. 26. Again, multiple submissions are welcome, but each reviewer will only be put in the drawing once.

We can't wait to read and share your book reviews here, and thank you for helping us celebrate our birthday!

Monday, February 05, 2007

And the winners are... Crap. Not us. Oh well.

After the close of last week's great Rice Daddies/Kimchi Mamas The Motel/Red Doors DVD giveaway contest, we tallied up the entries, subtracted the duplicates and the entries by members of the RD/KM family, and ended up with this:

Rice Daddies, 16. Kimchi Mamas, 17.

Crap. By one entry, we lost. But you won. Well, five of you did. For telling stories to the whole internet behind their mamas' backs—and for being lucky enough to have their names picked from among 16 slips of paper in a rice cooker by my 2-year-old daughter— the following people have won our super double DVD/poster prize packs:

Ashley Tsai
Henry Tsai

Congratulations. You'll be hearing from us by e-mail to get your snailmail addresses for delivery. Click on over to Kimchi Mamas to see who won on their side, and stay tuned over there to see which three of us get pressured into posting our most embarrassing parenting moment. Thanks to all who entered both contests, to Deborah at Palm Pictures and Michael at Blanc de Chine films, to filmmakers Mike Kang and Georgia Lee, and to Eliaday, Citymama, and Instant Yang for making this happen (plus thanks to Angry Asian Man, Racialicious/ARP, Babble/Strollerderby, and anyone else who linked to the contest).

The stories you've shared on both sites have been both heartwarming and hilarious. Though the contest has ended, we encourage you to continue adding your own stories to the comments of either this post or the original one.

Many of you who entered our contest were new to the site, or at least were new commenters. We hope that you come back, and that you tell others about us. You may be an old hand at this parenting game, you may not have even started thinking about the prospect of having kids, but wherever you are in life, you are welcome here.

Tomorrow Rice Daddies turns one year old. Check back here for a cool new contest with awesome prizes, and for the beginning of another year of adventures and misadventures with a bunch of AsAm dudes dadding.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Asian Americans: Please Help Save A Life

One In A Million
We all like to believe that our children are one in a million. But what if it were actually true? What if your child had a rare blood disease and their only chance for survival was finding that one in a million match? Now imagine you're the parent of 2 year old Harrison Leonardo who has Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), needs a bone marrow transplant to survive and the odds are even worse. Of the 1.4 million registered donors in the National Marrow Donor Program, none are a match for Harrison. What makes it difficult is that bone marrow matches rely heavily on hereditary and ethnic factors. Of the 1.4 million only 6.6% or roughly 425,000 are Asian American. What makes it seemingly impossible to find a match is that Harrison is half-Filipino and half-Caucasian. Narrowing down the field, there are 34,000 Filipinos and only 11,000 multi-ethnic Asian Americans registered as donors. Neither his parents, younger brother or anyone in his extended family are matches. Harrison and others like him are in desperate need of finding matches within the Asian American community at large. I didn't realize how difficult it was to find a bone marrow match until I heard about Harrison's story on and checked out his web site at Sure I've heard and read stories in the press regarding bone marrow donor drives. And please pardon my medical cluelessness, but I always thought they were somehow related to blood drives and it was as simple as matching blood types. Now I know that it couldn't be further from the truth.

Hidden But Deadly Problem
In 1989 two Asian leukemia patients, Amanda Chiang, 9 months, and Judity Jang Berkoltz, 32, were in desperate need of bone marrow transplants. Neither were able to find a match within their own families and turned to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP), hoping to find a match with unrelated marrow donors. At the time there were only 123 Asian donors listed on the National Registry. Their families and friends were able to recruit some 2,000 Asian American marrow donors, but none were compatible matches. Unfortunately, their deaths highlighted a hidden but deadly problem within the Asian American community. But it also gave birth to the Asian American Donor Program (AADP) and other organizations like it.

What If It Were My Son?
What really got to me was thinking about my own 1 year-old boy who is half-Filipino and half-Caucasian. What if he contracted a rare blood disease and we were faced with a similar situation? How many potential donors would there be for him? Now ask yourself how many potential donors would there be for your child? Needless to say I become a registered donor this week and I encourage every one of you to do the same. You need to be between the ages of 18-61 and in good health. After filling out some forms there's a test kit where you swab the inside of your cheek to get some samples. It's as simple as brushing your teeth but with a cotton swab instead. You can even have a test kit sent to your home for free and send it back in a postage paid envelope. It's quick, painless and you could potentially help save a life. Please do this right away as it takes 4 weeks for the test results to come back and Harrison doesn't have a lot of time. Normally it takes 10 weeks, but they're expediting the process in hopes of finding a match sooner. Below is more information on where to go or order a home test kit.

Cross Country Donor Drives And Home Test Kits
Part of the effort to help save Harrison and others are organized donor drives across the country.
IN NEW YORK for more info including additional drives or to receive a home test kit, please contact DKMS AMERICAS at 1-866-340-3567 or emailing
IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA please contact Marc Loresto at Asians for a Miracle Marrow Match (888) 236-4673 X172 or visit the A3M website for more local drives in the LA , San Diego and Orange County areas
IN HAWAII please contact Roy Yamashiro at the Hawaiian Bone Marrow Registry (877) 443-6667 or visit their website at
IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Bay Area) please contact Cynthia Carlson, Recruitment Specialist at the National Marrow Donor Program or Carol Gillespie, Executive Director of Asian American Donor Program or
IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Merced to Oregon Border) please contact Bloodsource in Sacramento at 1-800-995-4420
IN ARIZONA please contact Oscar with NMDP at 602-242-5459 or

Spreading The Word
Besides registering as a potential life saving donor, I also encourage all the Rice Daddies and Mommies out there to help spread the word. If you have a blog or web site please include a link to Harrison's site or to one of the organizations above. With your help we can help save Harrison's life, the lives of others like him and possibly the life of your own child.