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Monday, March 29, 2010

A Pale Shade of Yellow

I was thinking about all the times since I have lived here in Illinois that people have asked me a certain question. This question is usually preceded by an apology of sorts like, "I'm sorry, but do you mind if I ask you a question?" or something to that effect. I always think it's going to be some great big inappropriate question that would necessitate an apology before being "Do you really think you should be eating those french fries?" or "Have you ever had a communicable disease?"

No, it is always the same..."What are you?" or "What is your background?" Okay, here in the suburbs of Illinois, I am sort of different. I am a mixture of Okinawan, Japanese, Irish, and Scottish. And, believe me, in Hawaii there is a big difference between Okinawan and Japanese. Growing up in Hawaii this is pretty much the question asked after hello. Usually, "So, what you?" Most everyone back home is a mixture of this and that or that and this with a little bit of something else mixed in.

There are a couple of times that this has really been strange. Once while giving a tour of a mansion at an old job, this couple (the guy was white and the girl was Chinese) asked me the question. I followed my answer with, "Hey, so this (making a circle with my finger around my face) is what your kids will look like some day. Hope that's okay?" They giggled and said yes. I must have done my makeup well that day.

Another time, I was actually in the recovery room of the hospital after some surgery. There were three nurses at the desk facing me. They looked at me continuously and whispered back and forth. I was ready to ask what was going on. I thought that perhaps they did something wrong. You've all heard those stories, wrong person operated on, wrong leg amputated, etc. Finally, one of them walks over to me and says, "I'm sorry. Can I ask you something? We were all trying to figure out what you were." Okay, they knew my name...Irish first name not spelled the original Gaelic way (Siobhan), Irish maiden name not pronounced the Gaelic way, and name after hyphen: Mexican. I can see their confusion. I told her what I was, she thanked me, and went back and told the others. They all nodded, "Ohhhh." Whatever, nurses.

My favorite of all of these was when I was in a church meeting and a very kind man asked me the question. He was asking because his own wife was Mexican with a tiny bit of Japanese in their family background. I answered him with, "Tom, I'm Japanese, Irish, and Scottish." He replies, "Oh, what's that like?" I looked at him and said, "Sort of a pale shade of yellow." Everyone started to laugh and I think he realized that his question was absurd. I am still not quite sure what he meant, but living here in the Midwest, I guess a lot of people must wonder what that's like.

Fortunately, I think being of my background gives me some space. Let's face it, most of my friends are white. That's who lives here. I have never felt any discrimination and wouldn't put up with it if there were. The other thing that I am allowed is the freedom to say things to some people because I am not white. I can say things to a non-white person that coming from me is okay, but coming from a white person would not be okay.

So, the bottom line is I am an American, born and raised in Hawaii to a mother whose grandparents came to Hawaii from Okinawa to work on the sugar plantations and to a father whose Japanese mother, against the wishes of her parents, married an Irish/Scottish white man from Ohio. Now I live in Illinois and am married to a man who is of Mexican heritage and doesn't speak a lick of Spanish. Actually, My Little Guy is getting pretty good at it...he can count to 15 in Spanish and say a few words. They've been learning in preschool. He is probably the only child in these parts, besides his big sister, who can (with a little coaching) count to ten in English, Spanish, Japanese, and Hawaiian!

My Oldest is a mixture of me and his father who was white, but we don't know much more since he was adopted and is now deceased. Ahh, and My Girl and My Little Guy well in these parts, aka our house, they are known as McMacMexanese. I'll have to tell you about how my half Mexican children think they are not Mexican on another day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Leprechauns Destroyed Santa

The fantasy has ended for My Girl...yes, she figured it out. DISCLAIMER:Do not let any of your believer children read this. Really, they shouldn't be reading this blog anyway. I am not always appropriate.

I guess I need to explain a little about the leprechauns. We put out our stockings on Christmas and Santa fills them. He even fills mom's, dad's, the dog's, the bunny's, and even the fish's stocking. Not that a fish would have a stocking, since he has no feet. On Easter, we place the Easter baskets out with a carrot for the Easter Bunny and he eats some of it and leaves treats. We had never before done anything for St. Patrick's Day, until we moved into our house in 2004. Our new neighbors, and now very good friends, had these rotten leprechauns that would visit their house each year.

I can tell you why the leprechauns never visited our house before this...March 17th can end up on any day of the week. Not like Easter, always on a Sunday. Not like Christmas, usually preceded and followed by a day off. Well, St. Patrick's Day, as much as I would like it to be, is not a day off for most people. Although, I have known more than a few who call in sick the day after, but that's a whole other story.

So, our great friends next door have these havoc wreaking leprechauns. When the children are asleep on March 16th, these little rascals make a total mess. They knock over chairs, turn over tables, and last year they even shaved off half the beard of the man of the house while he was sleeping (see what I mean..over achievers). They also leave treats like gold chocolate coins and Lucky Charms cereal. So, the first year we move in and St. Patrick's Day comes around and My Girl hears the kids talking about what the leprechauns had done to their house, what happens? She says, "Why don't the leprechauns come to our house?"

What do you say? My wit kicked in and I said, "They must have done so many crazy things next door they lost track of time, the sun came up, and they had to hide. You never know what'll happen next year." For the last 3 years I have been up in the middle of the night on March 16th making a mess, throwing green confetti around, criss crossing green yarn across bedroom doors, etc. This is why St. Patrick's Day should be a holiday. You can't clean that up before school and work on a weekday.

A couple weeks ago as we are driving to some activity My Girl says, "Mom, I think the leprechauns are really you and daddy." I wanted to say, "Daddy, no way. It's all me, girlfriend." Instead I ask, "What makes you think that?" She says, "Well, I know there are no little green men running around our house making a mess." Thank goodness! I started to have that feeling all us moms get. You know, when you see your child on stage at a Christmas program or watch them do something monumental like ride a bicycle solo for the first time. You begin to tremble with the realization that one of your babies is growing up. You want to giggle only because you are so delighted, but it usually ends up being a mixture of tears and the giggle you can't contain. Unfortunately, this ends up sounding more like a bawling laughter.

I waited for a few seconds and said, "What do you think?" My Girl says, "I think, I know, it's you." Then, I waited and held my breath in anticipation of the next question. "Are you Santa, too?" I wanted to cry. My baby is growing up and I have absolutely no power to change it. This control freak is done for.

I went into the explanation of how Santa is the Spirit of Christmas, how it would be physically impossible for one man to get to every house in the world in one night, and blah, blah, blah. Of course, she said she knew that she had seen some of the toys she received this year at Target. If there were actually elves making toys, I'm sure they would be better quality and they probably wouldn't take a half hour to untie from their boxes.

My Girl has now joined the ranks of those that know "The Secret." She is now officially in training through St. Patrick's and Easter and will be out of probation once this Christmas rolls around. I am hoping this means I can go to bed at a reasonable hour and she can take over. Who am I kidding? This just means I don't have to wait for her to go to bed. So, if your little ones are still believing, let them! And, cherish each and every 2 a.m. stocking stuffing session while you can.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rainbow & Cloud Cupcakes

I love Family Fun magazine. So, the other day I see these on the last page and so do the kids. Of course, we have to make them. Oh, the uses for these babies. Stick a little gold chocolate coin in the top and've found the leprechauns treasure at the end of the rainbow. Got a little girly girl who loves colorful rainbows and you've got the perfect birthday cupcakes. Need a snack while you watch the Gay Pride Parade...fabulous. What else? Let me know if you come up with other ideas. My creative brain just collapsed.

Here's the recipe for those of you who want to go somewhere over the rainbow.

Rainbow Cupcakes
1) Prepare your favorite white cake mix, then divide the batter into six small bowls. Add food coloring to make the six colors of the rainbow. Purple: 9 drops red & 6 drops blue; Blue: 12 drops blue; Green: 12 drops green; Yellow: 12 drops yellow; Orange: 12 drops yellow & 4 drops red; Red: 18 drops red. Mix each until the color is evenly distributed.

2) Line your muffin tins with 16 baking cups. Evenly distribute the purple batter among the cups, then the blue, and so on, following the order listed above. Try to cover the color below as much as possible with the back of a spoon.

3) Bake the cupcakes according to the cake mix directions. Before serving remove the paper wrapper and top with a cool whip cream cloud. I would use cream cheese frosting if you wanted to transport it somewhere.