Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Meltingpot Has Moved

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

It's official, we have moved locations. The Meltingpot has a new address. Actually it's the same URL, MyAmericanMeltingpot.com, but if you subscribed to this location with the blogger host, you'll need to re-subscribe. Can you please do that for Ms. Meltingpot? I would so appreciate it.

And in the meantime, let me know what you think of the new look.

Peace!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Babygirl is Bilingual! and Goodbye...for Now

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I woke up this morning with babygirl by my side as usual. And as usual, we went through our regular morning snuggle routine which includes me asking babygirl to point to her nose, eyes, mouth and ears. Usually this game means I take babygirl's hand and guide her to the different parts of her face. Then she  responds by grabbing a handful of my face, usually my lips, and tries like the devil to pull them off. This is followed by uproarious laughter. Hers, not mine. I know, sounds delightful, but I just assume one day babygirl will reward me by actually pointing to her nose herself.

Well, Meltingpot readers, today was that day!

Preparing for my usual lip twist, babygirl shocked the sugar out of me when she very deliberately pointed to her nose when I asked, "Where's your nose?" I then scared the sugar out of her when I  screamed squealed in delight. Now,  el esposo was close by. And since he believes I carried babygirl for nine months and birthed her without the use of pain reducing drugs for his sole pleasure, he had to show me that babygirl could do the same in Spanish. "Donde esta la narîz? he asked sweetly. And wouldn't you know it, babygirl pointed right to her nose.

And there you have it. At exactly one year, babygirl has proven to us that she is bilingual. El esposo and I are so proud :)

And now to totally switch gears and to explain the 'Goodbye' in the headline. Don't worry dear readers, Ms. Meltingpot is not going anywhere for good. I'm simply taking a short hiatus while I upgrade the Meltingpot. My goal is to have the new & improved Meltingpot ready to debut in time for the BlogHer2012  conference, which I will be attending in New York City. (Will any of you be there? I'd love to meet you in person.)

So, feel free to check out the archives if you really want to read more Meltingpot entries. Or feel free to follow me on Twitter @LoriTharps. And be sure to check back on Monday, August 6 for the big reveal.

Thanks for sticking with me here on The Meltingpot and by all means, if there's something you'd like to hear more or less about here as I revamp, please leave me a message in the comments section.

I appreciate you all.

Peace!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

They Don't Make 'Em Like That Anymore: RIP Sherman Hemsley



Hello Meltingpot Readers,

I am very sad to report that the man who will always be remembered as George Jefferson, aka Sherman Hemsely, died yesterday. He was only 74 years old. I just found out that Hemsely was a Philadelphia native, so the Philadelphia Inquirer posted a great article covering his childhood in South Philly, his early career and rise to fame.

I don't know about you, but The Jefferesons was one of my favorite shows to watch as a child. And as I reflect on it now, I am amazed at just how good it was. Even the theme song was the bomb. (Yeah, we're movin' on up...)

I mean here was a 1970s sitcom that revolved around a proud Black businessman who was openly hostile to White people, was rude to the help and was vocal about his beliefs that Black was always better. And he was damn funny. Sidekicks on the show included a bumbling white British neighbor, an interracial couple and a sassy maid. Can you imagine if somebody pitched that concept in Hollywood today? Nobody would touch it. Yet, twenty years ago, The Jeffersons was one of the most popular shows in prime time. Why is that? Why have we regressed in our ability to push the envelope, feature multiracial casts and perhaps explore some newsworthy issues with our television programing? Pardon my pom poms but, Come on People! Can't we do better?

What happened in the 90s that made television so reductive and stupid? If you have the answer, please speak up. I want to know.

You know I'm listening. And here's something for you to listen to while you ponder the problem. Enjoy.


Peace!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Babygirl's Birth Story: One Year Later

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

I can not believe that it has been an entire year since babygirl joined our family. But it's true.

One year ago today, it was the hottest day on record here in Philadelphia. I was 37 weeks pregnant and we didn't have (still don't) air conditioning in our house. So, we decided to spend the day in public spaces with lots of free air conditioning. Our first stop was the Franklin Institute, which is Philadelphia's awesome science museum. We're members, so we felt completely okay hanging out there for close to eight hours letting our boys basically treat the place as their very own indoor playground while I rested my cumbersome body on any, and every available bench.

After the museum, we were hungry, but it was still daylight so we couldn't go home. Instead, we went to Bobby's Burger Palace and gorged on burgers, fries and the most sinfully delicious pistachio milkshakes. After that, there was still a shred of sunlight and the heat was still unbearable, so I suggested we go grocery shopping before rolling on home. Grocery stores are delightfully chilly.

By the time we made it home, the sun had finally set and the heat in our house was tolerable. El esposo didn't really care though, because he had a date with my brother. The two of them had been waiting for months to attend a soccer game between Real Madrid and Philadelphia's home team. It was just an exhibition game, but still, el esposo rarely gets to see his home team play live, so he was chomping at the bit to drop me and the kids off so he could leave already. Of course, just as he was about to walk out the door, my water broke. Or at least something happened that involved a mysterious wetness where wetness shouldn't be. I wasn't 100 percent sure and I knew how much el esposo wanted to see that game, so I didn't tell him.

I just suggested he keep his phone handy in case 'something came up.' Am I crazy, dear readers? Yes. As it turns out, my water had broken, but it took me another hour, three unreturned phone calls to my doctor, one long conversation with my mother and a google search on the Internet to determine it to be so. And you'd think with this being baby number three, I could tell if my water broke or not, but it was just so different. With the other two, the water breaking was an unmistakeable cannonball splash of water. Babygirl was a different story. Just a tiny trickle. So delicate. So feminine.

But back to the drama. Once I realized my water had indeed broken, I called my cousin, who was my back-up birth partner, to come pick me up. Only she wasn't home. She was out shopping. But she managed to make it to my house in record time, collected me and the boys and we were out the door in no time. We dropped my kids off at my sister's house en route to the hospital and then gunned it the rest of the way. I wasn't in any kind of pain, but I was terrified that I'd have a super speedy labor and have to give birth in the back seat of my cousin's Toyota.

But I didn't. I made it to the hospital and managed to joke my way through intake. My spirits were pretty high because there was air conditioning in the hospital. Really good, strong, air conditioning. Ha! I outsmarted mother nature. Then came the labor pains, brought on by that delicious hamburger I had eaten earlier. Sweet baby Jesus, Meltingpot, Readers. I vowed to never eat a hamburger again. Before giving birth to my babygirl, I had to give birth to that burger. Sorry, that was probably too much information. But needless to say, it was on.

Of course I called el esposo to tell him what was happening. Actually, my cousin called him for me. I felt horrible that he was going to miss his game. But, I figured the birth of his daughter would make up for it. Apparently, he didn't quite feel the same way. My darling husband decided to stay for the first half of the game before coming to the hospital. He figured he'd make it before any of the good stuff started happening. While I'd like to be mad at him for choosing soccer over his daughter, he was right.

By the time el esposo made it to my room, I was no longer able to smile and joke with my cousin or the nice nurse who was trying to get me hooked up to all of the bells and whistles and machines required for a hospital birth. She was shocked but encouraging when I said I wasn't interested in an epidural. I was ready with my pseudo-self hypnosis plan, my ipod full of inspirational music and my ear phones. El esposo ran into the room and I gave him a thumbs up. I had promised I was going to handle this labor without going psycho like I did with my boys. And I did. I 'relaxed' through the pain and kept my focus on finally seeing my daughter's face. I was as cool as a cucumber, up until the pushing part.

Somebody once described giving birth to a baby as something akin to pushing a bowling ball engulfed in flames through your lady parts and I'd have to agree. So, at that point in the process, I screamed like a fool. El esposo left the room. My cousin talked me down from the rooftop of hysteria where I'd landed. The doctors gave me a stern talking to and told me to calm down and push the baby out already. I hate being patronized and yelled at, so just out of spite, I got babygirl out with three good pushes. Total labor time, three hours.

Babygirl weighed just six pounds and a wee bit at birth. She had a head full of black shiny hair and grayish black eyes. She was precious then and she's just as precious now. But she's not a wee thing any more. She's juicy and delicious and full of baby love. She loves to crawl, is enchanted by her two older brothers and has not a single tooth. Happy Birthday, babygirl!

Do you have a hilarious birth story? Let's hear it. I'm so listening.

Peace!


Friday, July 20, 2012

"Asian Soul Food?" Yes, Please!


Hi Meltingpot Readers,

If there's two things I love in this life it's food and Asian people. Seriously. It seems in every major time period of my life, I've always had a really good Asian friend. In childhood, my best friend was Japanese. In high school, I hung with some cool Filipinos. In college, seriously, all of my friends were Asian; Korean, Thai, Indian, Japanese. In my twenties, I bonded with a way cool Chinese chick. And you might know if you read this blog enough, that I have a serious crush on the coolest Asian dude on the planet, Kip Fulbeck.

And it goes without saying, that I love food. I love eating my way through different cultures. If I can't travel, I can still sample the flavors of other worlds and I love that. So, imagine my utter delight at discovering Roy Choi and his Korean tacos. Sadly, I haven't tasted his food, only read about it, but then I found out that Choi is not alone in creating his meltingpot medley of Korean and Mexican cuisine. Check out this article in the Atlantic and try not to cry and have your mouth water at the same time.

Choi is part of a tsunami of rule-breaking Asian American chefs who have created a new genre of cooking in America: a robust and astonishingly creative blend that draws on Asian, Latin, and Southern foods. Its growing ranks of practitioners bring sterling chef credentials and modernist cooking techniques to bear on the foods of their forebears.


What they're making is not just "modernist" Asian cuisine. It's a type of cooking that has filtered through the multiethnic influences of their upbringings: taco stands, fast food joints, barbecue shacks, hip hop, and graffiti. Theirs is not the "fusion" cooking of the late '70s and '80's, effete creations of European-trained masters who melded cultures with delicacy and nuance. Nor is it the cooking of Nobu Matsuhisa or Martin Yan, talented newcomers who tutored America in Asian ingredients and flavor combinations. This new wave of chefs is dishing up what I call Asian Soul Food: a gutsy, high-low mash up of street food and haute cuisine, old country flavors and new-fangled cooking techniques."

The story of the food and the way it came to be is a meltingpot masterpiece, don't you think? I love how food can be the connector between cultures. I love how these warring cultures on the streets have found a way to cozy up on the plate. It gives me hope. And a hunkering for a taco. Get me to Los Angeles, please. 

What's your favorite culinary mash up dish? Kinky gazpacho perhaps? I'm kidding. But, really. I'm listening.

Peace!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Much Ado About Spanking

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Have you been following the latest news stories about spanking causing mental illness? I've seen links to the story all over the Internet, on Twitter and facebook. I wanted to ignore it because it seems like every year there is a new study that tries to definitively declare that spanking is bad. Or good. And of course, that definitive answer is always debunked and debated until the next study comes out. (By the way, the study that says spanking causes mental illness is very misleading. Read this article to understand why.)

I have never wanted to out myself as a spanker. But, there I just said it. I have spanked my boys. I don't spank on the regular or very often. I'm kind of a spanker as a last resort. In fact, before my first son was born, I swore I'd never lay a hand on my children. I even wrote a story about the dangers of spanking for Essence magazine and believed every word I wrote. But then my boys stopped being adorable little babies, and spanking joined my toolbox of discipline tactics. You can stop reading right here if the idea of Ms. Meltingpot spanking is too distasteful. I apologize. But I think we should talk about this out in the open.

This is such a difficult topic to discuss. And it is so fraught with race, class and culture issues. I think many people believe spanking is an evil confined to the poor and colored communities. But we all know this is not true, especially if 50 percent of Americans admit to spanking their children sometimes. But there is a difference between spanking and abuse. But the problem is trying to legislate  the difference and then implementing those rules. Many countries, 32 in fact, have outlawed spanking, including Spain, Israel and Sweden. But, I can attest to the fact that I have seen many Spanish mothers beating their kids with a bedroom slipper, so the laws may be in name only. El esposo tells me his mother slapped her three boys whenever they got out of hand as did many of his friends' parents, and hair pulling was another favorite method of discipline.

El esposo doesn't spank our children. He won't. But he's good for a hair pull to keep them in line. I think hair pulling is crazy. He thinks spanking is ridiculous. Our kids dislike both methods, but, that's the point. And here's my point. Can't good parents choose their own methods of discipline? The ones that work best for them and their children? Spanking has been used since the beginning of human existence to deter bad behavior. I hate to use the "I was spanked and I turned out okay," logic, but if you use that to consider how many generations of folks have been spanked the world over and humankind is still churning, that says something right?

Make no mistake. I don't endorse spanking. I don't like spanking. I don't think it should be used in most situations. I just think people shouldn't feel like their going to make their kids grow up to be bi-polar or sociopath killers if they choose to spank. Discipline is one of the hardest parts of parenting. And it's one of the things many parents aren't willing to put the time and energy into, because it is so hard and so unpleasant. Perhaps if we could speak more openly about our trials and tribulations with discipline we might discover better ways than spanking to keep our kids on the right track.

What do you do about discipline in your homes? Time outs? Taking away toys? Grounding? Spanking? I'm so listening and taking notes.

Peace!

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Other Mothers of Manhattan



Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Boy, did the cover image on yesterday's New York Times magazine take my breath away. The cover line reads, "The Other Mothers of Manhattan." It is a photo essay of Manhattan's nannies. It is the real-life version of my novel, Substitute Me. The accompanying essay is by Mona Simpson and it is hauntingly familiar, all of the issues it raises. But the best part is this audio slide show. Check it out and let me know what thoughts come to mind.

I know I too hate the word nanny. It sounds so elitist and not a word I am comfortable using. And yet to call a grown woman a babysitter doesn't sit well either. What do you call your child's caregiver? What do you think of this story?

I'm listening.

Peace!