26 Paraprosdokians

Winston Churchill loved these dorky little sayings, called Paraprosdokians.  Thought they may be good for a laugh.

“Figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected;  frequently used in a humorous situation.” “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it,” is a type of paraprosdokian.

1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left..
7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
8. Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’
13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
17. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a  parachute to skydive twice.
18. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
19. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
20.  I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
21. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
22. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
23. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
24. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
25. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
26. Where there’s a will, there’s relatives.

Teach something

Teaching has its pros and cons.  It is very rewarding and incredibly frustrating, all at the same time.  I have been teaching full time for a few months now in China, at a Korean school.  The experience of teaching has taught me about the importance of sharing information, and the dynamic way in which you must allow each lesson plan to change, and let the class help set the pace.  It has been amazing to adapt myself to the new role, and I realized it is something I have done in many other professions.

Although I am still new to the profession, I find myself enjoying it when you can see the little light bulb pop on, and the light of understanding shines through the eyes of a student.  On the other hand, the some of the kids couldn’t care less, need to be constantly told to stay on task, and even disciplined because they are creating a disturbance.  Up until last year it was legal to beat the kids for educational purposes in Korea… it still is accepted in China.

It is easy to get angry, it is easy to feel disrespected.  but it is better to let it go and embrace the moments when they actually get what the hell you’re talking about.

I digress…

People love to teach.  It gives them a sense of importance, but more importantly, a sense that they matter.  That their opinions and experience matter, and that they can share a part of themselves with others.  You don’t have to quit your job to teach, in fact, many times you will realize you may already be teaching someone.  If you have children, you will find you are constantly teaching them new things.  It does not have to be a lesson, but if you take the time to show them something new, they will be better for it, and so will you.

If you have experience, or are good at something, you would be surprised at how happy it can make you to share a bit of yourself with another, even a stranger.  Teaching can be done in moments, even just by sharing some good will when you can tell  someone is having a bad day, they may learn that the problem is only minor, and there are more important things in  life.

Learn Something

We have the ability to learn.  Our brains are wired to continually want new stimulation, new experiences, new sensations.  We yearn to learn, and yet unless the process is forced on us, we choose to do what we know.

During our childhood and adolescence, we have structured learning, and are taught many of the basics to survive in our respective societies.  We learn about many things to prepare us to enter society on our own, and once we do so, we stop the process.  We fall into routines, we do what we must and no more.

One of the best ways to rediscover your true self is to learn something new.  We may at first feel uncomfortable, but generally will thrive during the experience.  Many people enjoy nature shows and documentaries.  If you are going to watch television, this may be your best choice, but you really don’t have to do anything, and as such, after the show, you may glean a few tidbits of information, and go back to your routine.

Many will try to learn top play an instrument, or a new language, but if it is self guided, we soon put it off, leave it in the closet, and hope to make it up later.  As time passes, this becomes easier to do, and harder to keep up, and any initiative is lost.  A structured environment is easier to maintain.  There are many classes at local recreation centres, and community halls, which are very reasonably priced.  To learn a language, try to find a native speaker and “trade” lessons for your language.  You may also make some new friends!

The idea is to create a new aspect of your life, you will either enjoy it, or try something else, but at least you gave it a shot, and are better for the experience.  As you begin to learn the new thing, you will start to crave more, and it may just help keep you young!  Some recent studies have shown that continued learning may actually stave off brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and even slow down memory loss.

Step outside your comfort zone

CONCEPT THREE OF: How to kill yourself by living

Too often we find ourselves, or rather, we put ourselves into routines.  They become familiar, and as such, comfortable, even if they are unpleasant.  These routines begin dictating our lives, and when we deviate, we feel uncomfortable and agitated on a subconscious level.  Many of these routines are not even healthy or beneficial, like watching TV.  It becomes necessary to watch a certain amount, it becomes addicting to watch certain shows.

Comfort zones can also be people and relationships.  Many times, families become under stress when you get into too many routines, many of which involve fighting or blaming.  Stepping outside the norm will usually help.  A couple with difficulties may “fall back in love” after a trip or vacation, or even just going out on a date, breaking their usual patterns.

Humans are constantly classifying and organizing everything in their lives.  We learn it from early childhood, by naming things.  It is human nature.  We call or name something to give it rules, to understand it or to define it with a purpose, and organize these things into groups.  We continue this behavior in every aspect of our lives, and only by looking at things differently, or changing our habits, do we find the magic of the world.

We go to work because we want to survive and thrive.  We want to eat, live comfortably, and fill our lives with things.  We opt for many new tangible “somethings” over an extended vacation or travel.  Sure, we dream of travel, and may even do some, however, most times traveling is only location based.  Many times we will take trips like cruises, or “all inclusive”, visiting these wondrous places almost like we are watching TV… we are there, but we are disconnected.  We buy these things, we visit these “safe” and “known” places, and we feel a small amount of gratification.  That gratification is fleeting, however, and we slip back into our comfort zones, and dwell in prisons we constructed ourselves.

Step outside your comfort zone

Do things you normally wouldn’t do, that make you feel uncomfortable, and that may even help someone else!  When waiting in line, connect with someone! Don’t worry, you don’t have to talk for too long, and keep the conversation light, but you will be amazed how easy it is to do, and how you can make someones day out of it.  This is just an example, one you could start today, but what’s important is to become aware of what you are doing, and if you find it is not making you happy, change it up.  This doesn’t mean quit your job, kick out your dead beat teenager, this means change the nature of the relationship with the stress factor.  Spend time doing something new with your partner, and you will discover new joys in the same old same old.

Some will take more drastic steps and relocate.  This is a great thing to do, but be careful you are doing it for the right reasons.  If you plan to move, embrace the new area or culture, don’t try to bring your comfort zone with you.  Try new things, be present, and step outside the mundane!

XAMPP vs. MAMP: Localhost server on Mac

I switched to a Mac recently, and was going through the process of getting it “just so”.  After quite some time on a PC, I was learning the ropes on the Mac, found some things waaaaaay better and some pretty stupid.  Overall, however, I was quite happy.  I had used XAMPP on my old machine and had found it very easy to set up.  I thought things would be the same on the Mac… I though wrong.

Why use a local host?

Many, myself included, use it because you can test and build quickly, without using FTP, and without waiting if your connection gets slow.  Also, you can play and make changes without messing with the live site.


I consulted my good friend Google and read a whole bunch of articles on how to set up XAMPP, and almost every one of them had comments with users having issues at one point of the set up, or another.  It mainly dealt with permissions, and had some interesting fixes that worked for some and not for others.  I found I could get it all set up but then not upload themes and images!  Sure I could drag them into the folders in buried in the local files, but that seemed more like an ointment instead of the heavy duty antibiotics required to FIX the issue.  I’m not an idiot, but I’m also not a complete guru when it comes to “deep tech”.  I found many of the steps necessary to MAYBE fix it were a little advanced for people who just wanted to set up something to build or test websites before they went live.

MAMP: Mac, Apache, MySQL, PHP

After several attempts resulting in complete and utter failure, I started exploring other options.  MAMP to the rescue.  SUPER easy set up, all permissions in place, It took next to no time at all.  Sorry XAMPP, but for a Mac, MAMP kicked butt for an easy set up.  As much as I can recommend XAMPP for PC users, I had way too many issues to ever touch it with a Mac again.

Overall, (machine depending) both are great options for a local web host.  There are some great articles out there with detailed information and set up instructions for the respective programs.  A couple of searched will get you where you need.  Both programs are free, so thanks to the Dev teams on that!

Check out MAMP for Mac

Check out XAMPP for Windows

Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics

CONCEPT TWO OF: How to kill yourself by living

This is a complete no brainer.  If you want to kill yourself by living, quit smoking.  If you want to simply kill yourself, fill your boots.  If you don’t smoke, or have already quit, count it as a WIN and move on!

This is a hypocritical chapter, as I am STILL smoking.  I know it is stupid.  I know it is expensive, is hurting me, my family, and does absolutely NOTHING to better my life.  I really hope to update this post SOON saying I have quit…

Why do we smoke?

We smoke to feel like non-smokers.  Even a few minutes after we putt out the smoke, we start to withdraw and get that little nagging feeling… but, for those few minutes while smoking, we actually feel like normal people.  No craving, just like before we started in the first place.

We need to come to the realization that smoking DOES NOTHING FOR US.  It does not help us on that phone call, it does not help us when we are bored or to calm us down, it simply feeds the DRUG addiction.  A great book to check out is Allan Carr’s “The EASY way to quit smoking”.  I had some success with it (then fell back into the trap) and have just started reading it again.  It is a great book because it really helps you get past the mental part of the addiction, which, after a few days, is the REAL reason we going back to cigarettes.

Escape your prison.

Smokin’ quotes

  • Cigarettes and coffee: an alcoholic’s best friend.
  • It is easier to stay out than get out.
  • Sooner or later, everyone stops smoking.
  • The believing we do something when we do nothing is the first illusion of tobacco.
  • Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics.
  • A cigarette is the only consumer product which when used as directed kills its consumer.
  • I tried to stop smoking cigarettes by telling myself I just didn’t want to smoke, but I didn’t believe myself.
  • Nicotine patches are great. Stick one over each eye and you can’t find your cigarettes.
  • I kissed my first girl and smoked my first cigarette on the same day. I haven’t had time for tobacco since.
  • Cigarette: A fire at one end, a fool at the other, and a bit of tobacco in between.
  • To the average cigarette smoker the world is his ashtray.
  • Cigarettes are killers that travel in packs.
  • The best way to stop smoking is to carry wet matches.
  • I’m not really a heavy smoker any more. I only get through two lighters a day now.
  • Some things are better eschewed than chewed; tobacco is one of them.
  • To cease smoking is the easiest thing I ever did. I ought to know because I’ve done it a thousand times.
  • My smoking might be bothering you, but it’s killing me.
  • I have made it a rule never to smoke more than one cigar at a time.
  • If we lose the battle against tobacco, we will lose the war against cancer.
  • If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go.
  • If we see you smoking we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action.
  • Smoke your pipe and be silent; there’s only wind and smoke in the world.
  • Smokers don’t get to smoke. They have to smoke.
  • The only safer cigarette is your last one.

Quotes from coolnsmart.com

You are what you eat

CONCEPT ONE OF: How to kill yourself by living

This is a pretty simple concept.  You are what you eat.  One of the best ways to feel better and get yourself into a better state of being is to modify your diet.  Too often we turn to “convenience” foods, which are actually quite inconvenient to our wallets, our health, and even our time!  When shopping, use a basket instead of a cart.  Shop more often, get FRESH ingredients.  More and more, processed foods are being found everywhere, and most have little nutritional value.

After two months of living in China, I lost 20 pounds.  Sure, I was walking more, but it was mainly a change in my diet.  I could not read the boxes here, so I had little or no clue what they contained.  I could, however, recognize a carrot.  I found myself at the market daily, picking up fresh food for only a day or two, instead of opening the fridge and staring, or worse, opening a cupboard and seeing what I could microwave so I didn’t miss any TV.  Daily shopping may not conducive for you, but trust me, buying fresh is the best way to increase your energy, lower your spending, and even get the whole family involved.  Bring your kids, have them pick something fresh and cook it with them.  Visit a farm sometime (many farmers that sell produce would be happy to let you see how they grow) and maybe you will start appreciating the process.

Try to buy local

I remember back in Canada, staring at a couple heads of lettuce.  One was local, organic and looked phenomenal.  The other was imported from California, and probably had been out of the ground for at least a week before it showed up on the shelf.  The dilemma, however, was that the local lettuce was an extra dollar.  When it is written, it seems ridiculous that a dollar would weigh so heavily on what should have been an obvious decision… but it did.  Funny how I had no problem the day before spending almost $10 at McDonald’s for “food” that, when left out, isn’t even touched by insects…  I also had no problem spending five bucks on the latte I was holding while deliberating about lettuce.

If it’s in a box, DON’T EAT IT!

This is a bit of a sweeping statement, but makes sense for the most part.  Almost everything in a box or can has been processed, had colouring and preservatives added, and really won’t do you much good.

Fat is a drug

There have been many studies that say eating fatty, salty foods will make you crave MORE fatty salty foods.  Bet you can’t eat just one… true.  I found many times where I would “slip” and eat chips, pizza etc. and my body would want more the next day.  It’s a cycle that can be broken.  Eat fresh for a week, and your body will crave salad.  Seriously.

Eat your veggies

Fruit and Vegetables are the most important things we can eat, yet we look at them as “side” dishes.  Eat your veggies!  A good way to get more is to snack on them during the day (which will help you decrease your portion sizes too) and try splitting that chicken breast or steak between two people, and fill up on veggies.

Incorporate more fish

Most of the world eats a lot of fish.  Why don’t we?

Learn about your food

We take WAY too much for granted.  We think that if something is being sold, it must be ok, because why would they sell something that would harm people.  Ummm…  THEY STILL SELL CIGARETTES!  There is a ton of information out there about food and nutrition.  You don’t have to become a calorie Nazi or anything, but the more you learn about the horrific things corporations and governments are doing to our food industry, the more you will veer away from your old favorites.

There are more recipes than can be counted on the internet.  Search some out.  You can get ideas from them, you don’t have to do things exactly as they say… there won’t be a test.  You can just search the ingredients, you’ll be amazed what you find (i.e. “chicken” “mushrooms” ) and Google will do the rest.

Have fun

Food is a necessity, but it is also a way to connect with your family or friends.  Cooking, tasting, sharing are all wonderful ways to get closer to those you enjoy spending time with, and can strengthen your family’s bond.  Learn some stuff, eat some good, and make sure there’s wine!

Photo credit: Carl Warner.  Check out his collection of foodscapes, they’re awesome!

Love is all that’s real [INTRODUCTION]


Love is all that is real.  The rest is a series of inputs from your senses being interpreted by a nasty little gnome in your head named your Ego.  If you want to really kill yourself by living, you will need to understand that EVERYTHING in your life is only being borrowed, that EVERYTHING can be taken away, and that said EVERYTHING means NOTHING.

I am not a Guru, I am not a genius (in fact I just had to spell check “genius”), but I am special and unique.  I have never met anyone who was not special… even those I didn’t particularly like.  If you want some real insight into love, being, and consciousnesses (had to spell check that too) , check out Eckhart Tolle, that dude will blow your mind.  All you’ll find here are some good ways to kill yourself by living.


The Ego (again, see Tolle) is the voice in your head.  Go, ahead and tell yourself you don’t hear voices in your head… see??? Voice.  The Ego is a very talented gnome.  He/She (from now on I will speak of the Ego in the masculine) is the best liar you will ever meet.  No one can lie to you better that yourself.  He is a part of you, but he is NOT you.  You are not the voice.  You are not your inner monologue.  You are beautiful, you are present, you are love.

He is constantly creating problems, problems that don’t exist, and don’t really mean anything.  Problems like “she did *** and I’m angry” or “he made me feel ***” or “I will fail at ***”.  He is the reason for all your stress, for every fight with your spouse… he is the reason for all wars.  He is the voice that just wont shut the fuck up for a minute.  He comes with a mute button, but he hid the remote.

The Ego is really the beginning and the end of your problems, and by silencing him, you have solved every problem you have ever had, or will have in the future.  Sure, there will still be moments of danger, but they in themselves are not problems.  If you have ever been in a life or death situation, you probably remember it with clarity.  There were no problems to be solved or obsessed upon, there was either an action, or there wasn’t.  You either did something or you didn’t.  But either way, you were there.  You were completely present in the moment, and only that moment existed.  You may have also had a similar moment of clarity during a very peaceful or joyous event.  You weren’t thinking about anything, you were the perfect witness.  You were present.  Again, for more on this topic, Tolle.  Especially his book, “The Power of Now”.

Love is all that is real

Anger, hate, fear, these things seem to be connected more to your thinking than to actual states in your consciousness.  They are usually directed at something, and grow with the amount of focus you give to the offending object or person.  Love seems to stem from another place.  When you feel it there is a connection, instead of a separation.  Love comes in many forms, but it always manifests as a state of peace and presence.  It is real.  It is present.  It doesn’t come from thought, although it can be triggered by it.

Love doesn’t necessarily just mean the connection between a man and woman, parent and child.  It is just as evident while walking on a warm day under trees, breathing the fresh air.  It is evident anywhere you are comfortable enough to be at peace, and present enough to find the mute button on the ego.  A child has a much easier time being present, and seems as such more happy than adults.  The ego is there, and manifests itself more quickly (like a temper tantrum) but also fades just as quickly, as the child returns to the present.  A child is happier because they are engrossed in what they are doing, they are experiencing each moment.  I watch my daughter at eleven months and this confirms it for me!

Our minds take more control of our experiences as we get older, we stop actually experiencing things and begin thinking about what we are experiencing instead.  It’s madness!  We almost have to force ourselves to enjoy something, to experience it without thinking about other things or problems we imagine we have.  If you find yourself at the grand canyon, the Great Wall of China, or even a beautiful beach, after the first influx of visual stimuli, you soon start to think about emails you need to send, bills you have to pay, and so on.  Let go, and start really enjoying yourself.  Find yourself in the present moment, and you will find love everywhere you go.


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Cooking with Jerry- A lesson in Chinese cuisine

As a Canadian, I have fond memories of going to the local Chinese Buffet restaurant and eating a ridiculous amount of  sweet and sour pork, fried rice, chicken balls, even some beef and broccoli and chop suey.  How ethnic!  Chop suey!  After being in China for over a month now, I can safely say that none of the above qualify as anything remotely close to the food I have eaten over here.

I, as a self proclaimed super-foodie, am very interested in different foods, flavors, and techniques from around the world.  I have eaten many wonderful thing in the time I have been here, and last night, I was honored to spend the day with an amazing chef, and cook a meal, from market to table.  My parents have been here for over nine years now and have made some amazing friends.  Jerry and his family definitely qualify as amazing.  Jerry works as a chef at a private Kindergarten, and his food has become VERY popular… kids are always excited to go to school, mainly for his food!

How to speak “Foodie-nese”

I was invited to cook some traditional Chinese dishes, as well as some of his specialties.  We met in the morning, he with his daughter Amy, to interpret and translate.  We arrived at his home, has a quick lunch consisting of small, whole fried fish (head, tail and fins!), rice, and a gorgeous pumpkin and shrimp dish.  Amy’s English is very good, and we talked about this and that, she explained a few things, then said she had class to teach and had to leave.  Uh oh… Jerry speaks NO English, whatsoever, and I speak an unintelligible version of Chinese consisting of only about ten words.   Although this could have been disastrous for some some, we were fortunate in the fact that we could speak the language of food.  Smell, taste, action, touch.  We had a great time, and part of the fun was the challenge of getting whatever point we had across to each other.

The Market

We stepped outside of the apartment building, a bright sunny day, with just the beginnings of the chill of Fall.  Behind the building was an alley PACKED with outdoor markets, and stretched for blocks.  Fresh fish, caught in the morning, fresh vegetables, picked within days, nuts, fruit, every type of animal and meat you could think of!  To my western sensibilities, some of the storage and display practices were not “foodsafe”, were questionable, but I had to remind myself that the items were so fresh that what I might consider “safe” is somewhat ludicrous.  No plastic, no fridges, no isles of frozen food or boxes of preserved “somethings”.  This was raw… fresh… food.  Our idea of “safe” stems from our food sitting around for weeks being shipped, handled, processed, and eventually sold.  The seafood was on beds of ice or live in containers, with little tubes blowing air bubbles for circulation.  The meats were either cooked, or butchered on the spot.  There were some snack stuff as well, some unidentified root vegetables, and some big assed carrots.

As we walked, we would try things, little tastes of different fruits, veggies, breads and nuts.  He would tell me what they were.  One way we found to communicate was me guessing ingredients.  For instance, there was a beautiful bread that looked like corn bread.  I would point to the bread, point to corn, and say “Shen me” (What? What is?) and he would either affirm or go pick up something else.  In this case I had been wrong, the bread was made from a very commonly used ingredient “red bean”, which you will find in breads, snacks, gelatin and mooncakes.   And so, with enough gesturing, pointing, and tasting, we could get our points across.  Having an iPhone with a dictionary app helped a bit as well, for tricky concepts.

The Kitchen

It is official.  I HATE Chinese kitchens.  I have no idea how they put together the lavish meals they sometimes do.  How they use the space to pull off culinary miracles.  So far, I have seen a few kitchens (mine included) and they consist of  one or two burners (gas), one hotplate, and a ricemaker/ pressure cooker/ wonder gadget.  There is a sink that is way too low, and the counters are also low and are more of a shelf than they are deep, and there really aren’t many of them in there.  I have been cooking in one now for a while, you do find creative ways to achieve your dishes, such as roasting pork loin, or baking cookies, in a toaster oven.  They use one knife for the most part.  A large, cleaver style, and I was blown away by the knife skill shown.

The Menu

The dinner we had would not be considered everyday Chinese cooking.  Jerry went all out, and had actually spent a few day prepping in advance.  I was truly honored.

Some of the items we had were:

  • Steamed abalone in a seafood sauce
  • Sweet chicken wings
  • steamed crab
  • Egg white battered fried jumbo shrimp served on shredded fried potato
  • Century eggs (Still don’t really like them)
  • Eggs and veggies cooked with a Vine Pepper oil
  • Shrimp and vegetables
  • Tomato pork and pineapple
  • Battered pumpkin “french fries”
  • A squid and pepper dish (The prep on the squid was very interesting, with some scoring, skin peeling, and trimming, oh my!)

Here are some more with a bit more detail.  I have no idea what the names of the dishes are, so I made some up…

Chainsaw chicken

Basically, you take a whole chicken, and chop the hell out of it.  The bones are not removed, it is just cooked in small bits with what I think were water chestnuts, in a sweet savory sauce.  The sauce was devine, it was cooked down with anise, a beautiful wine vinegar, and chicken stock.  Absolutely gorgeous.

Pork and shrimp stuffed pumpkin

This is my Mom’s favorite dish, and I can see why.  Pork and shrimp is diced, and mixed with ginger, garlic, and a kind of green onion.  These three were used in many of the dishes.  The pumpkins in China are smaller, and the skin is edible.  The Pumpkin is stuffed, them put in a pressure cooker for a couple of hours to get happy.  Man was it ever happy.

Inside out fish

This was fun to make and delicious!  Jerry and I did a fish each (his turned out a LOT nicer than mine) and it was interesting to go through the whole process.  The fish was caught that morning.  We got them from the market, and cleaned them.  My experience cleaning and prepping a fish was very different from what we did.  In Canada, with a big salmon, you remove the head, cut up the belly, clean the sucker out and scale.  Remove the fins and tail, and either filet or cook whole.  “Whole” now has a whole new meaning.  For the small/ medium sized fish, you take two chopsticks, shove them deep down into the fish, weaved through the gills, and twist.  You then pull out the stomach and gills with the sticks and rince.  Scale with a knife and voila! Ready to cook!  We then cut and peeled back the meat from the bone, and marinated in a soy based sauce.  After marination, we battered and fried! It was amazing.

This was one one the most honest and fun days of cooking I have had in a long time.  Without the ability to easily talk, even the simplest instruction or identification of ingredient was a challenge.   Dinner was amazing, and the company was great.  Both of our families showed up for the meal after work, and his brother came to give us a ride back to Kai Fa Qu at the end of the night.  Next time we make noodles from scratch, Chinese Gyoza, and Kimchi!

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Thank you Jerry!

Feeding your child in China

No more Timmy’s for Ayla!

As we settle into a bit more of a routine here in China, as we start to get used to the change, as we start to get on with things, we also start to notice some verrry interesting differences in child rearing.  Our choice for feeding Ayla was “baby lead solids”, or should I say, it was Ayla’s choice.  As with most North American parents, we had a whole lot of people and “experts” telling what we should feed her, how to do it, what to introduce first, and what to avoid (read Introducing solid baby food).  We tried to do what they said.  Ayla had different ideas.  No purees, no spoons, just put in front of her, and she takes care of the rest.

Recently we went to a wedding.  Weddings are BIG deals here.  The music before the ceremony starts like the beginning of an epic film, there are the special professional photographs blown up to life sized proportions, spanning the room.  It is a very interesting experience, and when it is over, it is OVER.  You watch, you eat, you have a cigarette or a shot of Baijiu with the groom (he drinks water), or you have a chocolate opened for you by the bribe.  That’s it.  It is a grand affair, and when when you are done eating, you leave.  There are still drunk Uncles, and they usually sit at your table… but I digress.

So we are at this wedding, and as we eat we feed Ayla.  We cut some food (the food here is so good) and put it on a tray in front of her.  She goes at it.  She is very popular here, and attracts a lot of attention where ever we go.  Constantly.  So when she started feeding herself, we received even more attention.  I wasn’t entirely sure why, and one of the Chinese at our table said she was very independent to be able to feed herself.

At the table next to us, there was a boy about 8 or 9 years old.  He was also eating, but being fed by a grandmother on each side, via chopstick, while he played on his PsP.  He was being fed!  I couldn’t imagine a nine year old not feeding himself.  It was very alien to me.

In China, babies seldom leave the home, and are usually being cared for by a grandmother as well as the mother.  They are very well cared for, but many of the younger Chinese today now feel they are being to sheltered, not given enough responsibility for themselves, and end up too dependent on their care givers.  So as strange as it was for me to see a boy being fed, it was just as strange to them to see a baby feeding herself!  I asked one mother, she was happy to give her thoughts.  She let us know that their children are very sheltered, and do very little, until they are older.  Feeding themselves is almost unheard of, maily because it is dirty.  They get food on their clothes!  They get bits on their face!  They get messy, and it can lose face in front of others.

While living in China, I will be doing a series of articles called Asian Adventures.  I will be comparing and reviewing both methods of parenting, adding my own opinions, but I want to be clear when I say that NEITHER METHOD IS WRONG.  Everyone is entitled to raise their kids their own ways, and these are only my thoughts.

Chinese VS Western feeding

The underlying issue is not necessarily that one is better than the other, that one is wrong, and one is right.  Both accomplish the goal of feeding the child, and in my book, means success.  Chinese parenting in general may shelter the child, and as they grow, may use negative reinforcement to achieve the desired lesson.  Where my mother always told me I was doing great, and when I failed, she said “at least you tried”, a Chinese parent will not accept failure.

These are two very opposite philosophies.  The Westerners may feel Chinese parenting qualifies as child abuse.  The Chinese may feel that Western parenting is lazy, and allows the child to grow up to be rude, lazy, and that Western parent seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly.  Perhaps that is another reason they don’t allow them to eat on their own at a young age, not eating cleanly may be looked at as a failure, as the child got messy, and did not get all the food in her mouth.  I will cover this in more detail in later posts, as there are many benefits to both styles of parenting.

In this case, however, I personally feel that the Western method is more beneficial to the child.  The reason I say this is not just that it allows the child to learn to feed themselves and gain independence, but it also adds many other little pieces that help promote overall mental stimulation.

  • She develops fine motor skills more quickly, having to pick up small bits and bring them up to her mouth.
  • She develops a knowledge of how much can actually be shoved in her mouth with out choking!
  • She is allowed to see feeding, and recognize food, as fun.  Food is a good thing, enjoy it!
  • She can develop more critical thinking skills on a base level, picking the food off the tray she likes the most.
  • She learns and will start to connect texture, taste, and color, with food she likes and dislikes.

I am excited to learn more about the Chinese style of parenting, and perhaps I will incorporate some of their practices into my own.  But as a foodie, I say get dirty Ayla, love your food, play with your food, and most importantly… eat your food the way you want.  Explore it, and learn to love it like Daddy does.

What are your thoughts?  Please tell us in the comments!