Hello! I’m Virginia, aka Mandarin Mama, and I am mostly a stay-at-home-mom to three beautiful children. In my previous incarnations, I have been a lab tech, marketing director for an internet start-up, president of the same internet start up, then a financial advisor. I still have a financial advising firm with my mother, but the focus of this blog is not that (particularly since I do very little work for the company now).
I am married to my awesome husband, Hapa Papa, and we have a 4.5 year old boy, Cookie Monster, a 2.5 year old girl, Gamera, and a 6 month old baby boy, Glow Worm (whose previous moniker was Baby3). If you happen to know us In Real Life, I humbly ask that you please refer to my husband and children by their pseudonyms online. I may have made the choice to be “out” (so to speak), but they haven’t. I will post pictures and stories of my kids now, but when they get older, that will likely happen less and less.
We live in a suburb in the SF East Bay Area and are surrounded by parks, schools, and families. I freely admit we live in a lovely, insulated bubble. I grew up in the town next door and fully enjoy this area. At the same time, I realize that we are incredibly privileged to be immersed in such wealth and beauty. I don’t really feel guilty about being privileged, but I also recognize that part of our responsibility as people with privilege and influence is to make sure that other folks get the same breaks. This is, of course, great in theory, but when NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) happens, I know I will surely stumble and sometimes, react out of fear. I only hope that I have the grace to admit this and try and change this when it inevitably happens.
Hapa Papa grew up in LA by Dodger Stadium and is a relatively recent transplant (since late 2005) to the Bay Area. Although I suppose it’s been quite sometime since he’s moved up here, I will always consider him an LA person. Since I lived in LA for about a decade (I moved back up in mid 2004), I find that though I sometimes miss the life I used to have and I definitely miss my old friends, I really don’t miss LA at all. (Something I never thought possible.)
I’m Taiwanese/Chinese American and speak both English and Mandarin (mostly fluently). Hapa Papa is half Japanese (via Hawaii, 4th generation) and half German (via Ohio, Who knows which generation) and in my opinion, can barely speak English (but that is because I am a vocabulary snob). This obviously makes my kids 75% Asian and 25% Caucasian (although phenotypically, it’s all over the place).
I am raising my kids to be bilingual in English and Mandarin and thoroughly intend to raise them to identify with as much Taiwanese/Chinese culture as possible. I realize that is a huge bias and of course, they are free to choose however they want to identify. I can’t help if I have personal preferences that are obviously so much more awesome than whatever they choose for themselves. (KIDDING!) I would ideally also like for them to know more about their Japanese and German heritage, but since my husband’s family was basically raised “white/American,” I don’t find it a pressing concern. Again with the bias. So now you know.
Anyhow, this blog is mostly chronicling my adventures in raising my children, to the best of my ability. I would like to focus on aspects of raising multi-ethnic kids in a culture that is predominantly “white” and mono-ethnic – but hey, mostly, it’s about raising kids. I don’t spend the majority of my days thinking about how race and gender constructs in society affect my day to day life while wiping my children’s behinds (which, I think is common for most people of any color/sex), and my blog will reflect that.
However, I do recognize that there are overall lifestyle choices I make for my kids that WILL influence how they see and understand our dominant culture, and that is always ripe for discussion. I don’t claim to be a spokesperson for my peoples or my kids, and like all things, no matter how right I think I am, I doubt my way is the only way or the only “right” way. In the end, I speak for myself (much to the chagrin of all those around me) and when I speak, I am often brash, arrogant, unyielding, crass, and can raise the rating of any room to NC-17. Occasionally, I can be sensitive, kind, and compassionate. Don’t count on that though.
You have been warned.