Wow, James is 5 months old today, and we can’t believe how much joy he brings to our family each day! Our baby James, the perfect mix of half Chinese, a quarter Italian and a quarter Irish, pow! I want to share a little bit about my heritage so that James will always know his Chinese roots.
I am very proud to be a Yee. My maiden name means “extra” in Chinese and my family has been known to always have a bounty of love, creativity, generosity, effort, passion, and tenacity.
My mother Janet May Ha Huie grew up in Hong Kong with her father Chung Fung and mother Li Ching. They made the long journey to Oakland, California in 1963. My mom had the most incredible ability to love unconditionally, always sharing her warmth and kindness for anyone she cared for. I love that James has her dimple on his right cheek.
Mom always put her family first, made sure we were well fed, safe, and loved. She always looked forward to spending time with our family; especially traveling together in our Toyota Minivan each weekend to watch my amazing big brothers Sydney and Blandon play tennis tournaments. They were both nationally ranked junior tennis players and even had successful tennis experiences in college; they were the most exciting players to watch!
Our mom was an exceptional cook, and each of her dishes was made with love. She knew each of our favorite foods and loved to see our glee when we got the chance to enjoy them. Some of my favorite dishes that she made are spaghetti with garlic bread and almond jello, yum!
My dad says that I get my passion for cooking from my mom, she certainly has taught me how to appreciate all kinds of food, especially during our weekend trips to Chinatown and feasting on Chinese steamed custard buns.
Sadly, we lost this extraordinary woman over 20 years ago due to stomach cancer. I know her strength, compassion and personal connection she had with others will always reside within all of us. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. Our mom was admired for her artistic talent, and she loved to create the most beautiful flower arrangements for our home, with the orchid being her favorite flower.
My father Rick Kwock Kuen Yee and his father Bing Chow, mother Kam Kwei, brother Brian and sister Carol emigrated from Guangzhou China, where they lived in the Toisan village until 1962. They moved to Hong Kong for a few months and then made their roots in Oakland Chinatown in California. Both of my grandfathers cooked in Chinese restaurants when they arrived in California.
In fact, my grandfather’s were ironically rivals in the kitchen and didn’t know their children were dating! My father’s parents owned a Chinese restaurant called Bamboo Terrace for 8 years in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
I guess you could say my passion for food has always been a part of me; it’s a natural gravitation that I’m very proud of. My dad has risen above many adversities and challenges in his life, he has worked very hard to provide the best life for his family, I’m proud to say the man is my hero.
Now that my dad is retired, he is an avid tennis player and proud grandpa. Both my stepmother Lynne and my Dad always love spending time with their 5 grandsons (Jacob, Aidan, Zachary, Hudson and James) although they have wished for a granddaughter!
It’s been a tradition in my family to welcome a new member of the family with a Red Egg and Ginger party. I was excited to finally share this experience with Jason for our baby James. Typically this happens anywhere between 1 month to 3 months of the beginning of the babies’ life, or sometimes at the 100-day milestone.
There are some thoughts for the Chinese culture that the mother and child should stay home for at least the first month after the child is born, to stay protected from anything that may harm the health of mom and baby.
We were ecstatic to celebrate this special occasion with our Bay Area family and friends. During the party, we always have lots of delicious Chinese food like chow mein, fried chicken, broccoli beef and pork fried rice, yum!
You may be wondering why the celebration is called “red egg and ginger.” The hardboiled eggs are dyed red for good luck and happiness, and the eggs signify fertility, birth, and life. The ginger represents the family’s strong, deep roots that the grandchildren perpetuate. Cool huh?
During the party, the eldest family member, who happens to be my dad, performs a ceremony to welcome the baby into the family and community. My father rubbed two red eggs around James’ head as I held him to signify hope for a smooth round (nonbumpy) shaped head, haha.
My dad then pretended to shave hair from James’ head to signify growing up, getting ready to be in society and so that once it grows back, it will be plentiful. The last part of the ceremony is for the youngest kids (boy and girl) to carry the new baby on their back and walk around the house as to go “play” for the first time. This also means adding more kids to the family (we’ll wait on that part, ha!).
My cousin Taryn and nephew Hudson carried James in a double happiness wrap, which has been used for all of the children in our family. James was also given lucky red envelopes filled with money from our guests. We just started a college fund for James, so we were so grateful to be able to continue to help him with his future!
We asked my dad to give James a traditional Chinese name based on his character and how we would like him to be in the future. We wanted James to have a name that would signify intelligence and strong leadership. With careful consideration and research, my dad selected the perfect name for James; Jiàn Háo. Typically the names are pronounced by the middle name and then the first name. Here is the meaning:
Jiàn (Mandarin) or Gihn (Cantonese): Healthy and strong.
Háo (Mandarin) or Hòuh (Cantonese): Grand; a leader, a person outstanding in intelligence or talent.
Now that our little cutie pie is 5 months old, he’s been so much fun and hitting some big milestones. James is a pro at tummy time, now being able to hold his head up 90 degrees, gazing around and squealing with joy and sometimes frustration when he starts to get tired.
Oh boy, James is also learning about his fingers and toes! He is getting good at grabbing fingers, his feet, blankets, and my hair, ouch. He also is sticking his fingers in his mouth and drooling, a lot! James is also quite the Houdini at night, he is very active and wiggles his arms out of his swaddle wrap and then moves around the crib.
The first few times this happened, I couldn’t remember if I had set him down the same way, come to find he has been turning himself around! My favorite milestone is the increased amount of cooing and giggling. James loves to chat with us when he wakes up in the morning and of course during dinner.
During our visit to the Bay Area, I was able to catch James first real tickle giggles when he was playing with his Auntie Imelda, I had never seen him laugh so much in delight, it was so wonderful! We are looking forward to many more visits to Northern California so he can see where mommy grew up, try her favorite food spots and visit our ever-growing family. We can’t wait to see what milestones and adventures are coming up next, stay tuned!