Name: Sophie Beach
Name of blog: Hao Mama (haomama.us)
What is your family structure? How many children/pets?
My husband and I have a seven-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter. We share a home with our 15-year-old cat, Lulu.
What inspired you to start your site Hao Mama?
My husband is a native Mandarin speaker and I spent many years learning the language. When our son was born, we were committed to raising him bilingually but we were worried about how to create a good environment for it living in an English-speaking country. So I spent an inordinate amount of time in my early days as a mom searching for books, songs, websites, anything that could help make learning Chinese fun and natural for our new baby. There are a lot of great resources out there but they are hard to find. So once our daughter was born, and I began to revisit those resources for her, I thought it would be useful to share the information I had gathered for other parents who are in the same boat. You can read more about my reasons for starting the site here: http://haomama.us/2009/01/02/hello-world/
For our readers that do not speak Chinese - what does Hao mean?
It means "good". The name of the site is taken from a popular children's song my son used to sing to me all the time, a very sweet song about a child offering his/her mama a kiss and a cup of tea when she comes home from a long day at work.
What are some of your favorite sites for Chinese cultural learning?
For information about Mandarin immersion education, the Mandarin Immersion Parents Council in San Francisco has great info (http://miparentscouncil.org/). For buying books, CDs, and other cultural products, ChinaSprout is great (http://chinasprout.com/). I also find a lot of great videos and songs on YouTube or Youku (the Chinese version of YouTube). When I want to hear from other parents raising kids in a culturally/ethnically/linguistically mixed family, I like Hapa Mama (http://hapamama.com/), Multilingual Living (http://www.multilingualliving.com/) and InCultureParent (http://incultureparent.com/).
If you could pick one of your articles (either written for your site or written for another site) that you are very proud of - which would you pick?
I usually don't write personal essays but last year after an especially poignant conversation with my son I wrote an essay about my children's relationship to China since their father lives in political exile and cannot return to his country. It was published on InCultureParent: http://www.incultureparent.com/2011/08/why-doesnt-china-let-baba-go-home/
Anything else that you would want our readers to know about you?
I had high hopes for Hao Mama but given my day job (editing a news website about China) and my two busy kids I almost never have time to update it. For that reason I'm always especially grateful when someone reads it. I love hearing from people who have found it and I love the online correspondence I've developed with some of the readers who are active on their own blogs or twitter writing about similar topics.