But We Already Read an Asian Book

At our Book Club meeting tonight, a woman said something that I can’t seem to shake off. Now, before I get into it, please understand that I’m not mad at this woman herself. I’m annoyed at the comment she made. Also – I don’t think she is any more or less prejudiced than I am and people in general. She is funny, a wonderful human being, and I really do love her. I don’t think the less of her and will continue to enjoy her company.

Ok. So enough disclaiming.

Tonight, we were throwing out books to consider reading for the second half of 2014. We all contributed several selections and I mentioned the book, When My Name Was Keoko, from my last post. “It’s about two Korean kids during WWII and the Japanese occupation of Korea,” I said.

“But we already read an Asian book!” my friend replied.

In shock, I exclaimed, “What? We’ve read hundreds of books about white people and I’ve never complained! But we can’t read two books with Asians in it?” I tried to keep my voice light and easy. Teasing. I wasn’t really mad – but I also wanted to get my point across.

“I read stories about white people all the time! I’m surrounded by white people! Hapa Papa’s half white! I don’t complain! Sheesh! But we can’t read more than one book about Asians? I also recommended a book where the main character is half black. Is that too many books about colored people?” We all laugh at this.

Realizing the pickle she got herself into, but also joking along, my friend says, “Well, we did read The Help a few years ago, so I think we’re okay.”

“Besides, it’s about the Japanese occupation of Korea during WWII. I never knew about that, did you?”

Another woman said, “No, I didn’t. That sounds interesting.”

“Well, I’m sick of reading about WWII, too,” muttered my friend.

“Yeah,” I agreed. “I’m sick of reading about the Holocaust.” (We have read a LOT of books about the Holocaust in recent years.)

From there, we moved the conversation along. The whole time, no one was offended and there really was a lot of laughter and gentle poking fun. And to be fair, this woman has recommended several books with people of color in the past. But the incident still bothers me because it is indicative of our culture at large.

As much as I appreciate Asian American History month or Black History month, I often feel as if it lets folks off the hook. Like, “Oh, we have a separate month where it’s an anomaly to talk about people of color. But when that blip is over, we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming and talk about real people and real stories. You know, about white people.”

Stories about people who are not white should not be relegated to some “colored” or “very special episode” ghetto. Just because we’ve heard one “Asian” story doesn’t mean that we’re done with our quota for the year. I mean, for crying out loud. How many times have we heard the good girl meets bad boy story? Like, at least a million times. No one is claiming that we shouldn’t have any more of those. (Although, maybe we should.)

Look. Are white people’s imaginations so utterly pathetic that they can’t possibly imagine identifying with a character that is not the same race as them? I mean, millions of black, brown, red, and yellow folks do every single fucking day. Just because we’ve had more practice doesn’t mean our imaginations wouldn’t like a break now and then.

I know we’re always given complete bullshit marketing answers about how white people don’t consume movies/books/shows with POC main characters. I get that companies are in the business to make money. But seriously? Aren’t there billions of non-white people in the world? Have some gumption, story tellers. PLEASE.

In the meantime, I will go out of my way to actively buy and purchase stories with people of color. It’s the least I could do.

Spring Break Fun

Every year, we pack up the whole family in our Swagger Wagon and make the trek down to LA and San Diego to visit family and friends for about 9-10 days. By the end, the kids are super homesick and we’re exhausted, but it’s always a good time. Here are some of the highlights from this year:

1) I used to stress out about when we would get to see Hapa Papa’s family but I don’t anymore. If they have time to see us, great. If not, well, we made an effort to drive to LA – they can make an effort to see us. And they do! It’s great. Once I stopped stressing out about it and started setting up meetings with my own friends and then just letting his family know our availability, things were much better. I was far less grouchy.

2) The house we rented this year was FANTASTIC!! 2 bedrooms (KEY when you have an infant), 1 bath (with tub), full kitchen with dish washer, a living room, dining area, washer/dryer, spacious front yard, and plenty of free and easy parking. WONDERFUL.

3) As usual, we met up with a few friends (quality vs quantity) and the best times were had when we were at either their house or ours. Meetings in restaurants tended towards chaos and the utter inability to hold an actual conversation.

4) Seriously, I cannot stress enough how awesome the place we rented was. I didn’t realize how stressful our last place was until we stayed in a stress-free environment this year. Totally worth the uptick in cost.

5) As always, San Diego is my favorite part. It’s the portion where I can actually call a vacation. (Everyone with small children knows that traveling with said small children is NEVER called a vacation. In fact – it is several times more work!!) We stay a few days with my dear elementary school friend, CB, and her family. She plans out all our meals, activities, and all I have to do is show up. It is MARVELOUS.

6) Of course, I also got to see some other friends in San Diego. Our yearly visits are a treasure.

7) What I found most awesome this year was my complete lack of doing anything. We saw friends and family. That’s it. No outings. No zoo trips. No sight seeing. Nada. Just seeing and enjoying people. My favorite. We’ll make a separate trip this year for Disneyland where we will see no one and immerse ourselves with four days with the brainwashing money-making machine known as the House of Mouse.

8) The trip back up from San Diego took almost twelve hours. That’s right. TWELVE. Between the three children (two of which are potty trained), we had five poop stops, (three of which were within the first two hours), two food stops, and one general rest stop. Because they’d been cooped up for so long, we stayed a bit longer at the rest stops to give the kids adequate “airing out” time.

I swear it was easier when the kids were still in diapers but we finally made it home. The kids were all asleep and transferred beautifully to bed.

9) My house was a disaster (which always makes me cranky) but I did some minor cleaning and I feel much better.

10) I picked up some parenting tricks (well, I will be attempting to apply said parenting tricks) and imparted a few of my own. This ALSO makes me very happy.

How was your Spring Break?

How to Throw an Easter Egg Hunt

A few readers have asked for some more details on how to throw our Easter egg hunt and I thought, sure! Why not? But in addition, since I’m a giver, I’ll even throw in my general party plan as a bonus! (Don’t say I never give you anything.)

So without further ado (ado, ado, ado!), here is the basic outline of what I do for a party.

1) Costco for everything.

This includes food, drinks, plates, cups, fruit, EVERYTHING. I buy most of the items pre-made (the freezer section is the best!) but I also make a few of my own things, too. Here is a general idea of what I tend to buy. (As most of the attendees at my parties can attest, this is usually the food I provide.)

– Fruit (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes)
– Cheese (either the pre-cut cheese platter, or I go for the Tillamook Sharp White Cheddar – DELISH)
– Salami
– Azuma seaweed salad
– San Pelligrino lemon and orange sodas
– Crackers/chips/kettlecorn
– Guacamole/Salsa/hummus
– Sandwiches (either the party platter or I make my own)
– Salad (usually one that I make)
– Dessert

Two really easy sandwiches (recipes totally stolen from my friends who put on great parties)

a) Chicken Salad Sandwich

– Costco Torta bread or croissants
– Costco rotisserie chicken salad
– lettuce (if you’re feeling fancy)
– cut in half

b) Pesto/Salami Sandwich

– Costco Torta bread or croissants
– pesto sauce
– salami
– cheese
– cut in half

2) Make it a potluck. (Unless it’s a birthday party. That would be rude.)

3) Turn the garage into a play area for the kids. Seriously, the best idea I ever had in terms of space. (This comes in particularly handy during the cold and wet winter months when the kids can’t play outside in our backyard.) I lay out some foam floor tiles (affiliate link) and old bed sheets that I duct tape to the floor. That way, kids don’t have to put their shoes on and keep their socks relatively clean.

I group together a bunch of small tables (I have even used 18-gallon storage bins) and kid chairs and set up several activity stations. I usually have a play dough station with assorted play dough toys, a sticker and coloring station, and a bead and necklace station. They’re easy to set up and gives the kids something to take home.

4) Invite people over and let the kids run amok. 

That’s it. I mean, of course, Hapa Papa tidies up and we try not to look like we normally do (which is somewhat a disaster), but in general this is what we do. Pro tip: Ask guests to take off their shoes. Makes it a lot less messy!

As for the actual Egg hunt, here’s How to Throw an Easter Egg Hunt:

1) Choose a location. This depends on the weather, how many people you invite, and how big your house is. I usually choose a not overly popular park on a Sunday. (I’m hoping there will be fewer soccer/baseball games and that people are at church.)

2) Make it a potluck!

3) Have attendees bring 20 eggs per participating child. (ie: If you have 2 kids participating in the hunt, bring 40 eggs.)

4) Provide extra eggs. There is nothing sadder (at an egg hunt, anyway) than running out of eggs. I usually provide several hundred for my egg hunts, but that doesn’t mean you need to be that extreme. However, should you go the crazy route, I highly recommend going to Oriental Trading Company (pardon the somewhat sketchy name). They sell 144 eggs for $8. $8!!! That’s RIDICULOUS.

5) If you have it at a park, bring anything you would normally have at a BBQ. Pop-up tents, easy ups, blankets, etc. Those make life much easier – especially if the weather is hot and the park doesn’t have a lot of shade.

6) Have a stated start time and stick to it. I had the party start at 10:30am, but the egg hunt didn’t start until 11:30 because I knew people would be late. However, I warned people in the invite that we would start the egg hunt on time (to respect all the people who are punctual) and I asked participating parents to bring their eggs by 11:15 so we would have time to “hide” the eggs (aka: throw them all on the lawn).

7) Mix up the eggs! Otherwise, your kids end up getting all the same stuff. While that might make the kid who managed to get all candy in their eggs really happy, that might make the other kids who only got stickers sad.

8) Here are some great suggestions (which I got from the person who organized the first egg hunt I attended with Cookie Monster) for things to put in your eggs that don’t involve candy (of course use your best judgment and avoid things that are chocking hazards):

– Money, coins, fake
– Marbles
– Stickers
– Small toy cars
– Dice
– Small Tops
– Decorative shoelaces
– Hairclips
– Beaded safety pin
– Beads
– Finger puppets
– Squeeze ball
– Fun coupons
– Seashells
– Polished rocks
– Doll clothes
– Crayons
– Lip gloss
– Erasers
– Whistle
– Nail polish
– Keychain
– Jewelry
– Pencil grips
– Temporary tattoos
– Video game memory card
– Small action figure
– Small note pad
– Plastic links
– Coin purse
– Pedometer
– Small plastic animals
– Bookmark
– Rubber stamps
– Makeup
– Playdough
– Silly Putty
– Socks
– Bandanna
– Earphones
– Charms
– Lanyard
– Small stuffed animal
– Mini bottle of bubbles
– Body glitter
– Superball
– Fortune teller
– Fidget toy
– Wristband
– Confetti

That’s it! Well, ok. Not really. I usually send out an Evite and ask people to tell me what food item they are bringing in the comments. Now, that’s it. Everyone seemed to think that the party was difficult, but it really wasn’t. All I did really was set a time and place and tell people to come. I only provided the idea and some food and eggs. That’s why it’s my favorite event – so little work yet SO MUCH FUN!

Anyhow, I realize this was a very specific post, so it might not have held much interest for the non-Easter Egg Hunt planners. But hey, if you ever do, this would be the post to reference!