Sometimes Showing Up Is All You Can Do

Lately I have been having a hard time writing posts. It’s not that I am out of things to say (although that certainly is a minor worry of mine), it is more that I do not feel inspired nor inclined to put in the mental effort of crafting thoughts into a coherent and interesting piece.

A tiny and ever increasing little voice in my head seduces with words like, “Why don’t you take a break? This isn’t work or anything important. Who gets hurt if you don’t post? What’s the big deal? It’s just for fun. Just skip today. Or a few days until you get back in the mood to post.”

I want to listen to this voice.

Currently, another, louder, more insistent voice is holding a slight edge. “Get up,” she urges. “If you give in now, it will be easier to give in the next day and the next. Pretty soon, you’ll blink and it will be months from now – maybe even years! Then it will be even HARDER to continue writing. And you want to write, don’t you? So get your ass up and write something. Anything. Even if it’s crap.”

So here I am. There is a post for today.

Writing on this blog three days a week is part of my goals for the year – one small goal in a series of goals I’ve set for myself. True, nothing bad will happen if I don’t do it. But that’s like most things we want or work towards in life, right? But then again, if I do nothing, nothing I WANT will happen, either.

I used to believe many lies about art and creating art. Shoot, it doesn’t have to be art – it could be anything (like getting in shape, studying, a career). I erroneously thought that art required inspiration and without inspiration, it would be hack work. That anything that was “forced” and didn’t come in a flurry or an immediate “in the zone” effect was worthless because it required effort – and True Art was supposed to be effortless. Furthermore, not only was art supposed to be effortless, it was supposed to come out perfect right out the gate. (While we’re talking about stupid art myths, how about we add the “tortured artist” to the list?)

What a load of tripe. (Mmmm… tripe.)

Most art and anything worth attaining is acquired by hard work. Yes, talent has some say in the matter, but talent can only get a person so far. (A post for another day.) And sometimes, the hardest part is overcoming inertia and just showing up and hacking away until you press pass a block. Maybe the block will last a minute. Maybe it will last years. But unless you show up, putting in the time, pounding out words (in my case), IF and WHEN inspiration strikes, you might not be in the place (talent or expertise-wise) to take advantage.

I highly recommend reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Amazon affiliate link). Here’s a sample:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance…Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

This book wormed its way into my brain and I am glad. It helps add fuel to the voice which urges me on, pushing me past the dreaded blank page. “Want to be a writer? Then write.”

So here is my exhortation for you this Monday: Want to be a writer/programmer/analyst/consultant/parent/musician/runner/etc.? Then write/program/analyze/consult/parent/compose/run.

Somehow, it always comes back to this for me: Fake it til you make it.

The Prodigal Father

A lot of people have been sharing articles by Matt Walsh lately and I totally understand why. After reading a few of his blog entries, I find myself, more often than not, agreeing with him. I even subscribe to his blog so he shows up in my Feedly blog reader.

However, I have always felt a little uneasy when I read his blog and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until recently. Walsh’s writing taps into that part of myself that I try to tamp down because it is hyper critical, scathing, and lacking in grace. This not a knock against Walsh. I think many of his entries are truthful and true and at any rate, I don’t think he is a cruel or graceless person. In fact, I think he is like many of us, frustrated with “the way things are,” intelligent, a good writer, and generally, a good person. (Not that it really matters what I think of him anyway.) Really, it is likely just me and my own personal hang ups.

You see, Walsh’s writing reminds me of the elder son from the parable, The Prodigal Son.

My college Christian Fellowship was obsessed with this parable. We heard months worth of talks on the parable. Did numerous Bible studies on it. We even referred to it by a way cooler name: The Prodigal Father. Most of it was cribbed from The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen.

Here’s the tl;dr version: A rich man had two sons. One day the younger son goes to his father, and says, “Hey, let’s pretend you’re dead and you can give me my inheritance now, ok?” The father agrees and the younger son goes whoring it up and spends all his money. He finds himself eating from a pig trough and realizes that even the servants in his father’s house eat better than that so he decides to go home and beg to be a servant.

When he nears his home, his father sees him from a great distance and comes running out, rolling out the red carpet, rejoicing that his son has returned to him. The man throws a huge party and kills a fatted calf.

The older son, who had stayed behind is super pissed off when he hears of his brother’s return (especially when he finds out about the party). He goes off and sulks and when his father chases him down and asks him why, he answers:

“Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!”

“My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

– Luke 15:29-32 NIV

Look, I’m not saying Walsh is the elder son in real life. I have no idea! I don’t know the guy and really, his spiritual state is between himself and God. All I know is that Walsh’s writing pushes a button inside of me and that button says, “Elder Son Alert!”

It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but there it is. I’m a lot mellower about it now, but I’m still a stickler to the rules at heart. I’m a douche bag extraordinaire when it comes to finding fault with EVERYTHING and I get pissed when I think people are getting away with stuff. (Of course, I conveniently forget when I get a free pass, but details, details, people!)

Anyhow, not sure what my point with this post is, but ultimately, I don’t want to be either son. I want to be like the father, who is prodigal (ie: wastefully extravagant) to both his ungrateful children. The father lavishes love and resources on both his kids even though the older son seems to think his father is a horrible slave master and the younger son only comes home because he is hungry. I can only hope to love my own children this way – let alone random people.

I leave you with some shameless self promotion. Back when I was a senior at UCLA, I wrote a song from the elder son’s point of view and my awesome and talented composer friend, Chris Wong, made it sound much better. If you don’t want to sit through the video for the lyrics, I’ve posted them at the end.

I spent too many hours figuring out how to make a lyrics video for YouTube last night so I am not only proud of this song but of the video. I’m surprised I could even make it happen considering it takes me at least ten times longer to learn anything new nowadays – let alone succeed at it. But hey, old dog and new tricks.

Also, this recording is more than fourteen years old! WHAT?!

The Elder Song

Oh, God
What has become of my system?
What has become of my life?
It has fallen down.

Oh, God
What will become of my faith?
What will become of me now?
I am down.

Free falling
down
down
down

Oh, God
How could you allow this to happen?
How could you stand by and watch
Me break down?

Why did you do this?
Why have you made me fall?
Was I not faithful?
Did I not follow your call?

Why won’t you give me?
Why won’t you bless me?
What a miserly God

Did I slave for you?
Did I slave for you?
All these years?

Oh, my God
Where have I pushed you away to?
When did I leave home behind?
I was slaving away.

Oh, God
I see you embracing my brother
I hear you choke on his name
and I wonder

Would you do the same for me?
Would you do the same for me?

– Mandarin Mama

Yes, Another Post Wherein I Talk About Books

Since I love books, it only makes sense that many of my posts are going to be about books and their authors. If you don’t like reading, so very sorry. However, I’m sure you know people who enjoy reading – and maybe they would enjoy some of these books and their authors. Since I’ve had a reader request for YA books/authors, and YA is one of my favorite genres, we’ll focus on that today.

YA (for those of you not in the know, stands for Young Adult) is one of my favorite genres because more than any other genre, it focuses on story and plot and has a fast pace. The language is usually very clear and simple (which is not the same as simplistic) and there (usually) isn’t an excess of sex and/or violence. The protagonists are usually in their teens and while that may make for some annoying quirks in the characters, it also allows for a lot of growth. Also, there is the unfortunate tendency to have long, belabored love triangles that don’t resolve until the end of a trilogy. The trend lately has been dystopian (thanks, The Hunger Games), but there was YA long before that came into fashion.

Here then, are some authors and books I recommend. As always, the links are Amazon affiliate links.

1) Neal Shusterman – Fantastic writer of some incredibly moving and poignant series. The most famous of his series starts with Unwind, a world in which abortion is outlawed but between the ages of 13-18, a parent can choose to “unwind” their child by transplanting every single part of their body into willing recipients. There are three scenes in this book in which I defy you to not break down and weep hysterically. I also highly recommend his series that starts with Everlost.

2) Marie Lu – A newer author, so far she has only written the Legend trilogy (the final book dropping on November 3). I appreciate that she is an Asian author as well as the fact that her characters are of mostly mixed heritage. But that’s not why I like her writing. Her characters are tightly written and I particularly love June. It is also a rare thing when the second book is better than the first. I can’t wait for the conclusion!

3) Agatha H. and the Airship City by Kaja and Phil Foglio – Originally a web comic, the two books are the novelized form of a few of their stories. Steampunk in all its glory – and most importantly, the main character is a girl genius whose primary goal is NOT A BOY. That is supremely refreshing. I HIGHLY recommend both books. It took me a few tries to get into the first book initially but once I got past the first few pages, I was hooked and read it in all one sitting.

4) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I have no idea whether or not Wein has written anything else. But OMG, this books is amazing (and NOT a dystopia). WWII, spies, women, and friendship. Oh, and the judicious use of ALLCAPS makes it my kind of story! FANTASTIC. Although I initially was reluctant to start, once I did, I never looked back. I really cannot tell you more without spoiling the whole thing – and it’s so worth NOT being spoiled. It’s one of those books that you have to re-read immediately (or at least, flip back through the book) to catch all the hints/red herrings. This book makes full use of the unreliable narrator trope. AWESOME.

I will not lie. I sobbed gross, messy, snotty sobs near the end. Gross. Messy. Shameful. Sobs. I cried so hard, I woke up Hapa Papa who sleepily pet my hand to tell me it was ok. (What a darling.)

I stayed up until 2am TWO NIGHTS IN A ROW. I had two small children at the time. It was worth it.

5) Megan Whalen Turner – Her The Queen’s Thief series is excellent (and also not a dystopia). It starts off with The Thief, which is good, but the rest of the series just gets so much better. The main character, Eugenides, is hilarious and has some of the best lines. My absolute favorite in the series is The King of Attolia.

6) Paolo Bacigalupi – Again, I appreciate an author who writes as if people of color are also in this world. He doesn’t make a big deal out of it, but it is so refreshing. I can’t wait for the day when that is no longer a distinction to note. But until then, it’s another plus in Bacigalupi’s favor. However, the reason I enjoy him has nothing to do with that. His stories are exciting and wild. My favorite is The Drowned Cities. Technically a sequel to Ship Breaker, it is not necessary to have read the previous book. SO GOOD.

7) Shannon Hale – She may be more famous for Austenland, but I found her through The Goose Girl several years ago. Again, I’m a sucker for a female protagonist – especially if it’s an alternate version of a familiar fairy tale.

8) Tamora Pierce – It’s been awhile since I’ve read her books but there is a scene from her book, The Woman Who Rides Like A Manthat consistently stays with me. Ok, it’s not a particular scene, but the whole section is imprinted on my brain. I constantly forget who wrote it and what it was about, but every time I think of a fantasy novel with a strong female lead, it pops into mind. Make of that what you will.

Side note: Many of these books I heard of from Orson Scott Card, one of my favorite writers. I have found that in general, I trust his recommendations and I would urge you to check the reviews out for yourself. I have found that if an author I like is genuinely recommending a book (versus just pimping out a book or an author to get reciprocal props), it is definitely worth looking into.

You’ll note that I left off some of the more famous series such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. These books are doing so well and are made into movies so I think they’ll be just fine. The books are excellent, of course, but they hardly need my signal boost. I focused on some lesser known authors and I hope you give them a shot.

As always, once I get going on books, it’s almost impossible for me to stop because there is always just one more book that I need to tell you about. I love books and love to tell other people about them. If you want more recommendations, just check out my Goodreads young adult bookshelf.

What about you? What books or authors did I leave off that you think I’m clearly an illiterate son of a whore for doing so? What would you recommend I read? Let me know it the comments.

Wait, How Is This My Life?

When I was free and unencumbered with children, I would read articles by SAHMs about how they would have to do laundry every single day. I couldn’t fathom it. I only did laundry when I ran out of socks or underwear (my two limiting reagents). As a result, I had at LEAST a month’s worth of socks and underwear just so I only had to do laundry once a month. It’s not like I sweat a lot or was in any way physical so my clothes really didn’t get very dirty.

Fast forward to now and wouldn’t you know it? I do laundry almost every single day. Sometimes, multiple loads. I don’t even understand HOW? I mean, I wash the cloth diapers every day because right now, I have two kids in diapers and use a lot of them as burp cloths. Fine. That’s to be expected. But how do I have multiple loads? My kids have a reasonable amount of clothing. So do Hapa Papa and I. And yet, there it is. ME DOING MULTIPLE LOADS OF LAUNDRY EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Yes, that was CAPSLOCK worthy. Because seriously? WHAT THE HELL AM I WASHING?

And it’s not just the laundry. I am constantly doing dishes. Now, part of that is because I only have so many bowls and plates and utensils that are kid friendly. The other part is that I’m home all day so we use dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Occasionally, I’ll use the dishwasher if we have a lot of people over or I’ve been lazy all day and just wait for the end of the day. But usually I hand wash because there’s a much faster turnaround and if I waited until the dishwasher was full, I’d wait forever.

Now that I think about it, I am doing more dishes now because I am finally forcing my kids to feed themselves so instead of a communal bowl from which I shovel food into my kids’ mouths (and mine), we now all behave like semi-civilized people and all have our own bowls, cups, and utensils. I may have to rethink this strategy since it causes me more work. I just have to decide whether it is more work to wash dishes or to feed my children (who have perfectly functioning hands) while holding a two month old. *sigh*

Don’t get me started on vacuuming! Thankfully, I have a handheld vacuum that I can use to hoover up the endless supply of crumbs (I cheat and vacuum the table) that find themselves over EVERYTHING. And it’s not just because of the kids. I seriously can’t tell whether Hapa Papa or one of my kids ate somewhere because they ALL leave crumbs. I get why my babies do. It’s Hapa Papa that I’m having trouble accepting. Of course, I’m spotless and crumbs never fall from my lips. I am a swarm of locusts and all food is efficiently consumed with no waste whatsoever.

I know I tell the kids to pick up their toys (I’ve gotten a little slack with this since it’s hard to enforce while nursing), but lately, Cookie Monster and Gamera think it’s hilarious to launch their cars and planes and trains into the air and smash and crash them into EVERYTHING so they’re all over the floor, in couch cushions, under the couch, under the table, etc. Then, they’re obsessed with “Eggy prizes” (basically, stuff in Easter eggs) so now I have a bunch of old Easter egg halves and teeny tiny toys all over my carpet. WHY DID I KEEP THESE STUPID EGGS? Oh yes, because I’m cheap and intend to use them for next Easter.

I would read articles of mothers eating their children’s leftovers as their only sustenance and think, “That’s insane! I LOVE food! This will never happen to me.” And yet, now, I have their leftovers for lunch because they rarely finish everything on their plates and it seems wasteful to throw it away but stupid to keep because it’s not really enough for another meal. When my kids spit something out or drop something on the floor, I don’t even think twice about shoving whatever it was into my mouth because it is faster and easier than getting up to throw it away in the garbage. (Ugh. I want to gag just thinking about this, but yet, it doesn’t bother me while it’s happening. Laziness trumps yickiness.)

I’m not really complaining (I don’t think). I don’t really mind doing these things because I prefer an ant-free house that is reasonably tidy and clean and non-sticky. I also like clean dishes, diapers and clothes and not stepping on a toy in the middle of walking across my home. I see doing these activities as a holy thing (when I really think about it, not while I’m in the middle of wiping up another mess) because it is a way to love and serve my family.

It’s just that when I stop and actually examine my daily activities, I’m a bit bewildered. I went to college for this?

Two years ago, I was reading Christianity Today’s Hermeneutics blog and one of the writers referenced a book called, The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work,” by Kathleen Norris (note: Amazon affiliate link). It changed my life and perspective forever about what I and millions of other women (and let’s be fair, men, too) do on a daily basis.

Norris calls all the cooking and cleaning “Women’s Work” because that is historically what it is called. What she addresses is that because this type of work has been historically performed by women, it is thus looked upon with contempt and deemed worthless. Norris posits that our daily work of laundry, cooking, cleaning is actually worship and holy. That what we do to take care of ourselves and others can be both an act of indifference or an act of supreme love. That the work which is looked down upon in the eyes of society is actually a beautiful and vital thing.

Our society values the grand, big gestures. The sweeping acts of bravery and heroism. But there is a heroism in the small, every day acts, too. In fact, I would argue (as does Norris) that these small, daily acts of cooking and cleaning are in fact, more necessary than the big acts of history-making. After all, whether or not you are doing something epic or mundane, you need sustenance, clean clothes, and clean living spaces.

I cannot tell you how happy and joyful this book made me. After all, who wants 90% of what they do all day to be deemed as lowly or simple? Now, to be honest, I’m not cleaning a toilet and thinking to myself, “OH JOY!! What wonders this be!” However, I do feel as if I am contributing something of worth to our household even if I’m not the one making the big bucks. After all, I may use Hapa Papa’s paycheck every day, but he damn well uses the toilet every day, too.

Anyhow, the beauty of these small, daily activities is that it is not limited to just SAHM or parents. Most people (unless you are so rich you have a housekeeper, chef, and someone to wipe your ass) have to do some measure of tasks that can feel like drudgery. Be encouraged. You are doing something important and nurturing, if for no one other than yourself.

Here, Have Some Lists

I’ve been single-parenting it this week while Hapa Papa’s been in London on vacation for work and quite frankly, I’m pretty exhausted. Usually, my mom would come over and help but she’s in Taiwan until Sunday. What the hell, family? What’s with the lack of consideration for what’s convenient to my life? Ah well, pretty much as soon as Hapa Papa walks in the door all rested and refreshed from his relaxing trip without me 10 hour flight, I will hand him Glow Worm, kiss Cookie Monster and Gamera, and run out the door to the nearest spa for a full body massage. I might remember to greet my husband on my way out.

Anyhow, as a result, you get a listy and bookish post today. Yay! However, rather than give you a list of books (and I still may but I may also let you flex your Google-Fu), I proffer you some authors you should check out in my favorite genre of science fiction and fantasy. Of course, YMMV – particularly if you don’t care for SF/F. As usual, all Amazon links are affiliate links.

1) Orson Scott Card – Most famous for his Ender’s Game Series (approximately 15 books set in that universe), he is one of my favorite authors. I avidly read his columns that review anything and everything on his site. His Ender’s Game movie is coming out in November (and hopefully, won’t ruin the book for me forevermore). Even though I love his science fiction, oddly enough, my favorite book of his is Enchantment, a modern fairytale of sorts. Card’s characters all have smart-ass mouths and the banter is quick, self-effacing, and often full of love. I wish I talked like them.

2) John Scalzi – His most well-known series starts with Old Man’s War and he is lauded for writing “accessible” sci-fi. In other words, you don’t have to be some hard-core geek to love his writing and his books. You just have to like reading. Bonus: Scalzi is hilarious and his fiction includes copious amounts of funny moments. However, what wins me over are his more surprising poignant moments.

3) Brandon Sanderson – Sanderson stepped in to finish Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series after Jordan passed away. However, Sanderson is an awesome author in his own right. Be forewarned, though. Most of his books are door-stoppers and usually top out at 100,000 words. But you can’t beat his unique magic systems, world-building, and immense scope. For an easy intro to his work, I would start with the normal length, free-standing Elantris. Then, I would move on to his Mistborn trilogy. Mind-blowing. However, my favorite is still Warbreaker. I can’t articulate why, I just do.

4) NK Jemisin – Jemisin is one of the few black female fantasy authors and I fully appreciate how that influences her writing. Fantasy, more so than other fiction in general, is often lily-white. Jemisin challenges that default and her writing and worlds are the better for it. I would start with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

5) Kate Elliott – I LOVE Elliott’s writing. Her worlds are also not in the default European setting and I really appreciate that! Plus, like Jemisin, she includes non-heterosexual pairings and considers them normative. Like Sanderson, is incapable of writing a short book, but I don’t mind at all. I love her writing. (My brother, on the other hand, is bored to tears by her.) I would start with Spirit Gate even though she is more well known for her Crown of Stars series.

6) Lynn Flewelling – Another fantasy author that includes non-het pairings in a positive fashion (I think she is famous for this, actually). I would start with The Tamir Trilogy, a truly creepy and horrific series that I still get the heebies thinking about. But it’s SO GOOD. *shudder*

Obviously, this list is not all-inclusive. I tried to include some famous authors as well as authors you may not have heard of. I may do another SF/F author list in the future but for now, since my brain is running on empty, this will have to do. If you want to see more of my SF/F books, check out my Goodreads shelf and filter by rating.

You know what? This post did not go as quickly as I had anticipated. *Shakes fist at sky.* I actually did some WORK! BOOOOO!!! 

Anyhow, like I mentioned, this is not an all-inclusive list. So, calling all my fellow SF/F geeks. What authors would you recommend?

Now That I’m Done Judging, Perhaps I’ll Actually Be Helpful: New Baby Series Pt 4

Alrighty, folks! Lazy post today. (I think I’m allowed. I just had a new baby, after all.) We are finally at the last of the series (and hopefully, you haven’t been bored to tears and found some of the information useful). Here are several sites and books that I found invaluable when I first had Cookie Monster. I referred to them less and less as I had subsequent children (mostly because I stopped caring and worrying about every little thing). Although, the Ferber book has been constantly referenced in the last 3.5+ years since as soon as you get something down, your kids change. (Those bastards!)

Anyhow, thank you for being patient with this series, and rest assured, folks with no kids (and with no intention of ever having them), this is the final section!

Disclaimers: As usual, all the opinions are mine. YMMV. I used Amazon Affiliate links.

Helpful Books:

1) Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems – Richard Ferber

2) The Happiest Baby on the Block – Harvey Karp

3) The Wonder Weeks – Hetty Van de Rijt

4) NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children – Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman

5) What to Expect: First Year (and Toddler Years) – Sandee Hathaway

Helpful Sites:

1) Babysteals.com – I would sign up for it now because you often see deals ahead of time (eg: Ergo for 50% off). However, very dangerous because they have a lot of cute things!

2) Albeebaby.com – great site for deals on strollers, car seats, etc.

3) craigslist.org – Sounds stupid, but I would buy a LOT of stuff used. I wish I did. Especially for toys. Always search for the RICH areas/neighborhoods. They give things away practically for free.

4) nickisdiapers.com – great for cloth diaper deals and information.

5) amazon.com – Clearly a no-brainer – but also for the amazon Mom function! Like amazon prime but FREE!

6) http://parents.berkeley.edu/ – So much helpful information. A lot is Bay Area specific, but I’m sure the parenting advice can be universal.

7) kellymom.com – Super helpful re: breastfeeding and parenting.

Ok. Now your turn. What were some helpful books and sites that got you through the first years? Let me know in the comments.

Where Are the Characters that Look Like My Kids?

Having been forced to watch HOURS of PBS and SPROUT programming, I have found there to be a lack of diversity on many children’s programs. (I know. Amazing observation.) Also, I know I wouldn’t have ended up watching so much of this if I were a better parent and never allowed my children to watch TV, but that ship has sailed.

Anyhow, it’s not so much that the programs don’t have people of color IN the show, but more so that they are not the MAIN character or person with agency. They’re there, but as sidekicks or very minor, secondary characters. (Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. eg: Dora, Diego, Ni Hao Kai-Lan) Otherwise, the POC are in very special episodes like “Let’s learn about Chinese New Year!” or “Let’s learn about Cinco de Mayo!”

Disclaimer: By no means am I an expert on this subject. I have no studies or reports to back up my statements. I am just going with what I see on a daily basis. (And I don’t really watch too many kid shows in general, so again, not an expert on kid shows.) Also, I have linked the shows to Amazon affiliate links. I honestly don’t expect you to buy these DVDs (it’s free on PBS!), but hey, you never know!

Ok, back to illustrating what I mean. For example:

1) Super WHY!Cookie Monster adores this show. But there is really only one black girl (although she is a princess) and perhaps Wyatt may be part Latino (but that is never clear or obvious). If there are other people of color in the show, it is only in very special books where they are in another country or it’s a festival or whatever. It’s rare to see POC around just in every day situations and not as an anomaly.

2) Wild Kratts – Again, Cookie Monster LOVES this show. But even though there are two brilliant women in the group, Aviva, the Latina inventor and Cookie, the black navigator, they are mostly background. The main agents of the show are two white males. Of course, it’s based on two real white males, so I understand. Again, I’m not lamenting the fact that there are so many shows with white men in it as main characters. I am lamenting the LACK of POC as main characters. I certainly do not begrudge the success Chris and Martin Kratt experience.

3) Curious GeorgeGamera LOVES Curious George and watches this show endlessly on the PBS Kids! app. I think the reason I include this show is because although there are people of color represented (and some are main characters), there is no context for this city. I know it’s supposed to be ANY city ANYWHERE, but it really isn’t. It always seems like it’s in Brazil or some South American country, but then it ISN’T. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that. There’s just SOMETHING that is a little off about the show. That’s all. I could be crazy about this one.

4) Thomas and Friends – Please keep in mind, Cookie Monster watches hours of this show (and its fan made videos) on YouTube every day. I totally appreciate how it allows me to not parent. I know the show’s set on an island near/owned by England, but seriously, not everyone in England is white. I swear! They have POC, too! So why aren’t there any on the fucking island? Every once in a blue moon, you see perhaps an Indian, but they always have accents. Come on. Really? You can do better.

I could list more, but I’m lazy and quite frankly, I can’t think of any more off the top of my head. And that is usually the basis of whether or not I do things. Ease of completion. 😀

Now, onto some shows that I think do really WELL in this area.

1) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood – When I first started watching the show, I was boggled at why my kids, let alone ANY kids, would watch this drivel. But then, I realized, they repeat the same theme/song throughout the whole 30 minutes in different contexts and it’s super catchy. However, what I MOST appreciate about this show is that there are black people in it! And in mixed families! And not all the black people are related to each other! What a revelation!! No, seriously. I find it FANTASTIC.

2) Caillou – OK, I know many parents find this show utterly annoying, but I really like it. I like its slow pace and that it really is similar to the life of a toddler and being a parent of a toddler. I think that’s why so many kids love the show – because it accurately portrays their experience. Anyhow, I do enjoy how there are many different families of color and that people of color are portrayed in normal, every day situations. Yes, sometimes there is the highlighted very special Chinese New Year episode with “chinky” music, but for the most part, Asians don’t have accents, and people of color are described as old friends and are treated as such.

3) The Legend of Korra – Ok. Technically, not a preschooler’s show. So sue me. And yes, I realize that the racial constructs are NOT in the same world as we live in. But I don’t care. It’s pretty fucking awesome to see people of color be main characters, have agency, and kick ass in both physical and intellectual endeavors. Also, fucking awesome show in general. (Particularly since it’s anchored in a lot of Chinese and other Asian culture. Which just makes it more awesome.)

4) Young Justice – Alright. Again, not a “kid’s” show. But they’re super heroes – and SO MANY of them are of color. And they’re not just side-kicks. They are legit super heroes in their own right. And plus, AquaLad? OMG – yum!! Of course, because this show was so awesome, it was canceled. Fucking Cartoon Network. 😦

Now, if you’re still with me (and if you don’t have kids and are still reading – bless your hearts, you crazy people, why are you still reading this?), please understand that I’m not dissing these shows. I think for the most part, they’re perfectly fine. But they could be BETTER, with very little effort (I think). Plus, think of all that niche marketing!!

What shows do you think are especially good at diversity (whether socio-economic, racial, sexual orientation, etc)?