Book: Beyond the Tiger Mom

I can’t believe it, I’m finally done with reading the 1st book of the year! I found myself so tired every night that I have no energy to pick up my Kindle to read. But I’m quite glad I have read this book and manage to finish it within 3 months (LOL, so slow).

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age is written by Maya Thiagarajan who was born and raise in India until her teens, where she moved to America to study and later on to teach. After 15 years in US, she moved to Singapore in 2010. Her kids were 5 y.o and 18 months when they moved over. So it is interesting to see how she compares the parenting style in the West and East, particularly for education, which she dedicated a large part of the book to.

I have never stayed in the “West” before, so I do not know the parenting culture “there”, though I have read some of the styles before while trying to be a better parent myself. So I was presently surprised to read in her book that in the West, adults (like teachers) are often held responsible for kids performance in school. Or parents will actually come out with excuses for kids that did not do well. This is really so unlike our Eastern culture. I also agree with some the observations she made on “Eastern” parents. Like our “love” for drilling in education (particularly math) and filling our kids time with enrichment or tuition classes. She went on to explain the pros and cons of both style in education (reading, math and exam preparation), playing and resiliency.

However, I think a lot of Eastern parents are also changing and adapting more Western style parenting as the world becomes more connected and parents get to learn more of different parenting style.

For example, she mentioned that Eastern parents and preschool are not focused on reading aloud and discussing stories but more on phonics and sounding out words. Parents are reading things like Ladybird and Oxford readers to their kids so as to teach reading rather than the letting the kids explore in the fantasy world.

I do not deny many parents are making their kids read the “Readers”, especially when they reach the “Kindergarten” age. However, I think there are also many parents who read freely interesting stories to their children. Even when I was young, my Mum will try within her means to read to me and bring me to the library. In fact, I think reading is quite a common hobby in the past before technology took away our time.

Besides, there are growing number of parents who are also letting their kids go the non-tuition way for their education. An example is Christy from Kids ‘R’ Simple (hop over to her blog to read on how she is doing it).

In short, if you want to get the “best of both worlds”, you can read up this book as she makes the comparison and provide useful tips to implement.

Disclaimer: We received this book for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received and all views are my own.

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Book: Baby Proof

In my previous post, I was sharing that I’m going to get back to reading. Here is my achievement after 2 weeks.

My first read of 2015: Baby Proof
My first read of 2015: Baby Proof. Bought years back before the birth of Zai. Look at how the pages have “aged”.

The story is about the female lead Claudia Parr who has given up on finding a man to marry cause many of her boyfriends broke up with her upon knowing that she doesn’t want children. Until she met Ben who shares the same thought as her.

Spoiler Alert!

However, Ben had a change of heart a few years into their marriage. He decided that he wants children after all and is willing to take on full responsibilities of taking care of their children (or so he says). Claudia still doesn’t want a kid and so they ended up having a divorce because of this! Of course the story went on to talk about how they ended up back together again.

Reading the back cover I thought this will be an interesting book. However, it was rather disappointing. The author went into story quickly, so there was no build up. Afterwhich, she did a little recap of Claudia’s past, went on to talk about Claudia’s friend and sisters and also on Claudia’s new relationship. So there wasn’t a really great following also. Generally nothing I resonate with and nothing engaging enough except for the fact that you want to find out if she went back to Ben and how she do it.

Thoughts
But there is one thing that is interesting. They mention that some couples want to have kids early in their marriage life so that they can enjoy life earlier when the kids grew up. Some couples want to have kids later as they want to enjoy life as a couple first. For Ben and Claudia, they find that if you don’t have kids, you can enjoy life throughout.

Well, I have never thought of it this way before. Maybe because I love kids, so I never thought of not wanting kids unless I’m not able to conceive. But I find that the thought is technically right. But as a parent, I will say there are joys in parenting that cannot be found elsewhere. As much as I miss our couple time, I’m also glad that we have 3 little ones to bring us joy and tears.

The love among the siblings. One insist on napping with TT. One planting a kiss on him.
The love among the siblings. One insist on napping with TT. One planting a kiss on him.

So, that much for my first (disappointing) read for 2015. I hope that I can continue this momentum of reading throughout the year and make it part of my routine!

Parents Only Activity: Phantom Joker Escape Review

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to introduce more activities for parents to fit into their busy schedule. One good activity that I recently did with Chubby was “Escape the Room” at “Phantom Joker Escape”. Sorry for the lack of photos as we aren’t allowed to bring any belongings into the room.

Why “Escape the Room” for Busy Parents?
Apart from the fact that “Escape the Room” is the “in” thing, here are two reasons why I think “Escape the Room” is for Busy Parents.

  • Time for each game is short.
    You are often given only 1 hour to “escape” out of the room. Once time is up, you will be ushered out of the room even if you can’t “escape”. As such, planning of schedule is easier. For example, you can slip out of the house while the kids are taking their afternoon nap to play the game, and be back when the kids are about to wake up.
  • Work together as a couple/team.
    This is not a single player game. You will need to work as a team to find your way out. Who is better to play with than your partner? Of course, you can still call along a few more friends to increase your chance of escaping. As we all know, bonds get build when we work together to have a common goal. So for a while, apart from the kids, you have another common goal to work towards to. Isn’t it great?

Why “Phantom Joker Escape”?
I must first disclaim that I wasn’t paid by “Phantom Joker Escape” for this review and I have no ties with them. The main reason why we chose “Phantom Joker Escape” was because it is near our place. But after playing there, here is my take on why “Phantom Joker Escape” is a good place.

  • Story Base.
    Unlike most “Escape the Room”, the “Phantom Joker Escape” has a very strong story line. (You can read more about them here.) Maybe because I’m a sucker for story, I find the whole game play is more interesting in this way. But on another note, this makes me want to go back and play the next episode. Sounds good, but not so friendly on our pockets.
  • Uses lots of technology.
    Ok, I don’t have lots of experience playing “Escape the Room”. The other experience I had was in KL (which calls for another post on its own). What I realize is that, they uses more “high-tech” things in “Phantom Joker Escape”. The “high-tech” stuff makes the game play quite cool. But there are instances where the “high-tech” stuff fails. I can’t say more as I don’t want this post to be a spoiler.
  • More than just puzzles.
    I have completed only the 1st episode at “Phantom Joker Escape”. But in that episode, my agility was required apart from my brains. So another factor to make the game more fun!
  • Allows online booking without charge.
    The website of “Phantom Joker Escape” allows checking of their schedule and make a booking online. So you don’t have to make wasted trips. Besides, there is no booking fee and there isn’t a need to prepay while doing the booking. Cool right?

Details:

  • Location: 146 Neil Road Singapore 088875 (Nearest MRT: Outram NEL)
  • Operating Hours: 1st Game starts at 12:30pm , Last game starts at 9:45pm
  • Pricing: $22 on Weekday and $28 on Weekends

Have you played at “Phantom Joker Escape” before? If so, what are your thoughts? Or have you played in other “Escape the Room” in Singapore? Feel free to share with us here.

*Disclaimer: I didn’t receive anything in exchange for this post. No monetary no free entry. In fact, I paid the $28 myself to play at “Phantom Joker Escape”. All opinions are 100% my own.

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

When my friends saw me reading this book, they asked if I really want to be a Tiger Mother, to which I reply “I am a Tiger Mum. My son was born in the year of Tiger, not me”.

Jokes aside after reading through this book, I really think I’m not cut out to be a Tiger Mother. I mean a real Tiger Mother, one who uses real strict parenting style. Personally, I didn’t grow up in a strict Chinese parenting style. I mean my parents never pushes us to do anything. They pretty much left us to do what we like, probably also because they have been too busy making ends meet when we were young. But whenever we request to learn somethings, they will allow us to. For example, my Mom brought me for art and ballet lessons when I was really young. I remember I started dancing at the age of 4. The art lesson was even earlier,  I only have very snapshot memories of it. But I wasn’t the arty kind, so I remember I told my Mom that I don’t like to go for art lesson and she left me at it. As for ballet, it was my love for a long time. I danced till my late 20s. However, I wasn’t the best dancer in class. I just manage to pass all my graded exams with a decent grade. I also remember that I requested to learn piano when I saw my sis learning. However, I gave it up when I was 16. Mom nags a bit but pretty much left me to it, although at times she will still nags about the money she spent buying the piano. It was a huge sum considering that we are just making ends meet at that time. My Mom hardly scold me too, I only remember a few times when I did badly for tests and it was due to careless mistakes.

So I was very surprise when Chubby told me that his Mom actually scold him using really nasty words when he was young. Always saying that he was useless and all. I know Chubby must have really hated it (no, he loves his Mom, but cannot appreciate the scolding) and went into a stage of rebellion at some point of time. So I think Chubby had a closer experience of strict “Chinese Parenting” then me.

With that I really think that the Tiger Mother style can only be applied to certain kids with certain personality traits. Some kids like Chubby and the author’s own 2nd daughter wouldn’t adapt well to this kind of parenting. Besides, I’m not an ambitious Mom, I don’t need my kids to live a glamorous life. I just wish that they are doing what they like and find a meaningful purpose in their life. So nope, I’m unlikely going to follow the Tiger Mother style, although there are still some parenting tips that I can pick up from the book. However, I have to agree with the author that this is not a parenting self-help book, but really a memoir. Its a good read of how the dynamics are between the Mom and her two kids.

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One thing that really strike a cord in me is her talk about generation decline. In Chinese we always say 富不過三代, which means a wealth will not pass through 3 generations. She put it in a family concept too. According to her the first generation, which is her father, are the immigrants to US. They are not rich so they are very frugal and will ensure that their kids are successful through their strict parenting. The 2nd generation, which is her, are the successful personnel and will be richer. They are still frugal but is not as frugal as their parents. They will occasionally splurge on certain things. While the 3rd generation, which are her kids, are the ones that will enjoyed the fruits of the two generation labor. For example, they will get hard cover books, expect expensive brand name clothes and all. This is the generation that seems to be on the way to doom, which is why she is determined not to let her kids go down that path.

Well, I couldn’t say it applies exactly in my family. We are probably the .5. My grandparents are migrants from China. But they are not highly educated in the first place, which is probably why they ended in Singapore rather than the US. But they do live frugally. So I will say they are the .5. For my parents, they are better educated, but nope they didn’t become the professionals yet. They are the “blue collar” workers and still live frugally. So they are like the 1.5. While my generations are they ones who are more successful. Most of us are professionals, we are slightly richer. However, we are not as frugal as the author herself. So we are the 2.5. But I have to say our kids will be like her kids and maybe even worst.

This is because my kids are the ones who get broad books. Not only that, DVDs, expensive toys and even brand-name wears. Birthday parties are common too. I think because we are working parents so to compensate the time lost with them, we tend to splurge on them.

After reading all these, I’m determined too that I will not let my kids go down that path. I will still get them toys and all, but I will tell myself to control and not splurge. And more importantly to teach them the concept of money. Coincidentally, the boy school is holding a “food fiesta” today. Where his class is tasked to make popcorns and sell them. He may be a little too young to understand much now. But its a first step.

Last month, I also read in YP a very useful tip for his age. As they don’t get pocket money now, one way to teach them to “save” is through using their normal treats as an exchange. For example, if he wants a toy badly, we can say okie we are not eating ice-cream today so as to save for that toy. I have yet to try it on my boy yet. Cause (luckily), there isn’t anything that he wants so badly. But I will keep this in view and apply it when the opportunity comes!

So what’s your view on Tiger Mother and any tips in teaching money concepts to young kids?

The Hunger Games Trilogy

Spoiler Alert!

The Hunger Games Trilogy

I actually finish reading them like a month back, so I hope I can still remember what I want to blog about. I admit I started reading these because of the raving about the movie and from a colleague who told me that its a really nice book. She finish reading the trilogy over a weekend. So I was tempted. And the best part came when my sis manage to borrow the book from the colleague. I get to read for free, why not right?

Well, basically the book is set in the future where a war has broken out in the present and the country is now divided into the capitol and 13 districts. The people in the capitol are rich while those in the 13 districts are poor. So there was an uprising started by district 13. District 13 lost the war and was eliminated. So leaving with just 12 district. And to avoid such an uprising from happening again, they make the district conform to strict rules and make them really poor. So that survival is on their mind rather than other things. And there is also a Hunger Game which is organised every year. And each district is to offer one girl and one boy as their tribute. The tributes have to fight it out in the game just so only 1 of them will survive.

Naturally, the girl who is the main lead, won the game. If not how the book continues to be a trilogy right? So slowly the book progresses and soon it leads to an uprising against the capitol in the next two books. No details here as I don’t intend to add too much spoiler in it.

Well, the first book was really engaging. I finish reading pretty fast. The next two books were a little slower.  I think how she survives in the game was really engaging and whether is there any mind games involved. When it comes to the uprising, the progress of the book were a little slower. And her “love life” seems to take over a fair bit too, which is quite tiring as it keeps on going in circles. So I will give a high rating for the first book and an average rating for the other two. But you will have to read all three books to have a closure and know the ending of her “love life”.

Book: Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Mercy by Jodi Picoult

Finally I found time to read again. I really miss reading. But with so many attractions on the phone and time with the kids, reading time has definitely been greatly reduced. Nonetheless, I hope I can sustain my reading time. Short as it may be, slow as I may read but I hope it continues.

Back to topic. This book is about 4 person (2 couples) in general. The first Jaime and Maggie Macdonald. Jaime killed his wife, Maggie, upon her request since she is suffering from cancer and don’t want to prolong her agony. He chose to kill her at a small town which is “run” by the Macdonald(s). So he reported to his cousin Cameron who is the police chief of the town about his murder. And of course Cam have to do all the legal matters of bringing him into custody and to court. Cam’s wife, Allie, on one hand wants to stand on the side of Jaime as she felt it is Jaime’s way of showing love. So the book works around the preparation of the court case and also about Cam’s betrayal to his wife when he fell in love with a woman, Mia, who travels alot and just came into town.

Well, a few points from the book that started me thinking. Mercy killing. Who is to decide? I remember having a discussion with Chubby on this topic before. We cannot come to a conclusion. Cause really, how do you really differentiate Mercy killing from murder? It was very selfish of Maggie to request Jaime to kill her when she jolly well know what kind of music he will face after her death. But I can probably understand why. I mean after all, it takes lots of courage to commit suicide. Its so much easier to ask somebody to do it for you.

As for betrayal of marriage, humans are generally attracted to things that they want and they don’t have. Like the reason why Cam is attracted to Mia is because she is carefree and is able to travel around the world. Not like him who is stuck at the post because he is the next in line to “inherit” the post. Mia is attracted to Cam because he is the police chief. Providing her the “stability” she needed. Its an irony how if they really get together, they won’t be getting what they each wanted from each other. Will I one day be attracted to somebody because they have what I don’t but longed for? Its a difficult question. Nobody has an answer. We just have to remember our marriage vows and of course the kids.

So what is your take on Mercy Killing and “Straying”?

Book: Eclipse (Twilight Saga)

Eclipse

Its been a long time since I last finish a book. I think has it been a year? I was so caught up in “looking after” Zai that I couldn’t even find time to read. Finally now that I’m in my confinement, and I spend a good (consolidated) few hours everyday in “bed” breastfeeding Loi Loi, that I finally can have sometime to read. Reading is such an enjoyment. I should go back to reading. Plus I have more than 30 books which I have bought and not read yet. Most have turned yellow. Opps.

Anyway back to “Eclipse”. Seriously I don’t know why I’m still reading the Twilight saga. I never really enjoyed the series. Too lengthy. Always beating about the bush and all. I guess I just read for the sake of reading it since I have already bought it.

As expected, she has not turned into a vampire yet by the end of the book. Its just another round of “protection” from her two “lovers”. Its draggy and not much twist. So I’m gonna take a break from the saga again and go read other books. 😛