The first Parent Effectiveness Training Course will be happening in Shanghai in Lujiazui.


Location: SEIPS Teacher’s Lounge,

When: 9am-12noon.

Dates: 8, 15, 22, 29 April, 6, 13, 20, 27 May (every tuesday)

Because I am relatively new to the Shanghai community, i’ll be offering the first session for free. I think even in the first 3hours, there will already be something new for you to use at home.

The first session will be a good introduction to the following 7 weeks, you’ll get a sense of the format of the course, and also get to know me as an instructor. You can decide if you want to proceed with the course after the first session. No hard feelings if you decide not to join!!


So help me tell your friends. Have them register for the first session on 8 April with me at antakusuma@yahoo.com.sg.

Course fees:

RMB 2400 

Includes writing materials, a PET Textbook and PET workbook.


Free free free! Pick up from Shimao Riviera.


Free! Pick up from Shimao Riviera Garden.

Free! Pick up from Shimao Riviera Garden.


Free! Pick up from Shimao Riviera Garden.

Free! Pick up from Shimao Riviera Garden.


For sale: ikea rocking reindeer
Price: 100rmb
Condition: excellent

For sale: ikea rocking reindeer
Price: 100rmb
Condition: excellent


Gearing up for Jinqiao 8km

I’m on this training schedule that I found online. Last week I did two 4km; one of them is an interval at the gym (ie fast pace + slow pace), and today I did a 5km outdoor run. My Christmas present from the husband was a Nike plus GPS exercise watch, it’s very nifty if you’re into running outdoor and cannot figure out how fast or how far. It’s a running watch for beginners (not ironman). And it looks pretty.

The watch malfunctioned during the first 1kilo, perhaps due to the slightly polluted air today. But I could sort of guess how far I was running.

Jinqiao 8km is 3 months away.

Keep calm, go running.


Chap-chye Goodness

Chap-chye is a hokkien phrase that means ‘mixed vegetables’. It’s a dish that often appears in many different Asian cultures and has a wide variation in terms of how it’s cooked. The picture above is my interpretation of the dish- I make it with preserved beans and I stew it until it’s all goey and soft. And I like it better when I eat it the next day, when the flavour has deepened. It’s my comfort food.

YUMMY….


Kindle madness!!

Why, why on earth did I get a kindle? It’s a rhetorical expression. It’s the best thing in the world. I am no longer at the mercy of bad printing- small words, tightly spaced, printed or dark grey paper. Now it’s any font size and any spacing I want. It’s light, super portable, and has a long battery life of up to 8 days! Just about the average time to finish a novel. 

Only bad thing is that I read everywhere, anywhere, all the time. The crevices of time I can find, even those in between the salmon searing in the pan. 

I’m unto Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at the recommendation of two Bootcamp ladies. Super hooked and super excited that there are 7 books in the series, each about a thousand pages. That translates to night of entertainment. 

Anyway, got the kindle for 749rmb from taobao. Taobao rocks.

Kindle madness!!

Why, why on earth did I get a kindle? It’s a rhetorical expression. It’s the best thing in the world. I am no longer at the mercy of bad printing- small words, tightly spaced, printed or dark grey paper. Now it’s any font size and any spacing I want. It’s light, super portable, and has a long battery life of up to 8 days! Just about the average time to finish a novel.

Only bad thing is that I read everywhere, anywhere, all the time. The crevices of time I can find, even those in between the salmon searing in the pan.

I’m unto Outlander by Diana Gabaldon at the recommendation of two Bootcamp ladies. Super hooked and super excited that there are 7 books in the series, each about a thousand pages. That translates to night of entertainment.

Anyway, got the kindle for 749rmb from taobao. Taobao rocks.


Training starts today!

As part of my Get Fit programme of 2014, the husband and I have decided to sign up for a 8km run that will happen in middle of April. I have never ran more than 3.2km and that was a long time ago, when I was 17.

Let me digress…I came from a junior college that was (is) known for it’s long distance running; in case you’re wondering, I was not one of those who contributed to that reputation. We were right by a beach, separated by a highway. To get to the beach we had to cross an overhead bridge, and on the way back via the bridge again. In a bid to get all the students in shape, the school would organize about 3-4 runs each year. There was the 3.2km, the 5km, and the 10km routes. I only ever did the 3.2km run, not the 5 or 10 because I was not in the ‘fit’category. On top of these additional running, there’s a mandatory physical fitness test that includes a 2.4km run. All in all,  was a lot of running…. After I passed my final physical fitness test just before graduation, I was so bloody happy to get it over with that I never ran another day except for the occasional spur of the moment. 

So putting that in context of the 8km run, is like trying to eat an elephant. And the only way to do that is one bite at a time. I did 4.2km today in 39minutes, at a talking pace (apparently if you can’t talk while you’re running, you’re running too fast). So let’s hope the good weather persists for training to be consistent!

Training starts today!

As part of my Get Fit programme of 2014, the husband and I have decided to sign up for a 8km run that will happen in middle of April. I have never ran more than 3.2km and that was a long time ago, when I was 17.

Let me digress…I came from a junior college that was (is) known for it’s long distance running; in case you’re wondering, I was not one of those who contributed to that reputation. We were right by a beach, separated by a highway. To get to the beach we had to cross an overhead bridge, and on the way back via the bridge again. In a bid to get all the students in shape, the school would organize about 3-4 runs each year. There was the 3.2km, the 5km, and the 10km routes. I only ever did the 3.2km run, not the 5 or 10 because I was not in the ‘fit’category. On top of these additional running, there’s a mandatory physical fitness test that includes a 2.4km run. All in all, was a lot of running…. After I passed my final physical fitness test just before graduation, I was so bloody happy to get it over with that I never ran another day except for the occasional spur of the moment.

So putting that in context of the 8km run, is like trying to eat an elephant. And the only way to do that is one bite at a time. I did 4.2km today in 39minutes, at a talking pace (apparently if you can’t talk while you’re running, you’re running too fast). So let’s hope the good weather persists for training to be consistent!


Roast Beef wrapped in Parma and shitake (recipe included)

My resolution, made mid-way last year, was to be able to put together a decent western meal. So far I think I’ve got some decent recipes up my sleeves. Beef, however, is my Archilles’ heel. I cannot make a decent beef stew after trying tonnes of recipes and changing the cooking technique. The last beef bourgunion I made I won’t even feed to beggars.


But this roast beef, this is the bomb. I have never cooked roast beef before. Handling one major chunk of meat scares me. But thanks to some encouragement from a girlfriend, I made something delicious. The husband and I finished almost 1kg of meat between us!

The Ayi wouldn’t eat a morsel because it was too bloody- bloody good I say!

The Passage by Justin Cronin 

4 stars 
Suitable for ages 18 and above

I liked it more after I finished than while I was reading it. It was only after I completed the book could I then appreciate the effort Cronin put into establishing his characters and the detail of each event. The story requires some patience because it spans over almost a century, with links everywhere so i won’t call it easy reading. The story is quite depressing, don’t read over festive periods or if you’re expecting a pick me up. 

It does, however, leave me wanting to pick up the sequel, or hope to watch some kind of movie/mini-series. But not before I read something a little more light-hearted, like the sequel to Fifty Shades, to purge the depression.

Read more about The Passage and it’s synopsis here : http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6690798-the-passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin

4 stars
Suitable for ages 18 and above

I liked it more after I finished than while I was reading it. It was only after I completed the book could I then appreciate the effort Cronin put into establishing his characters and the detail of each event. The story requires some patience because it spans over almost a century, with links everywhere so i won’t call it easy reading. The story is quite depressing, don’t read over festive periods or if you’re expecting a pick me up.

It does, however, leave me wanting to pick up the sequel, or hope to watch some kind of movie/mini-series. But not before I read something a little more light-hearted, like the sequel to Fifty Shades, to purge the depression.

Read more about The Passage and it’s synopsis here : http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6690798-the-passage

AQI is 28!! A good day of non-polluted air is rarer than winning the lottery in Shanghai.

I’ve missed this view.

AQI is 28!! A good day of non-polluted air is rarer than winning the lottery in Shanghai.

I’ve missed this view.


Why your kid may be annoying and whiny- A letter to Lyz Lenz

I write this in response to a blog entry -
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3248085 How to Raise A Kid Who Isn’t Whiny or Annoying.

As a mother who scours Pinterest for crafts and loves putting together birthday parties, I felt slightly uncomfortable, offended even, by your ‘How to’ blog entry. I do not understand the implications exactly, but it appeared to me that you are saying parents who go the extra mile and fuss over ‘first world problems’ with their children will cause the latter to become ‘annoying’ and ‘whiny’. I do, however, appeciate that you meant for the entry to carry self-deprecating humour, and that the original context was in your own blog. But when it is a ’How to’ in the blog section of Huffingtonpost, the medium changes your message. Clearly it has influenced many people, because there were so many ‘likes’ and positive comments.

This entry is a personal opinion that I’ve gathered from own personal and professional experiences- having spoken to numerous parents, worked with them on many problematic family situations, as well as having my very own ‘whiny’ children. I have several reasons to conclude that being whiny has no relationship whatsoever to a parent’s love for crafts.

Here’s why…

1. First things first, understand the unmet needs behind the child’s problematic behaviour. When your child acts in a way which annoys you, such as rolling on the floor when you turn off Mickey Mouse, think about what message your child is trying to send you. Is she lacking fun? Is she feeling bored because she is not entertained by anything else. Is she requiring your attention? Chances are, your child is not going to come up and tell you, “Mummy, I need to be stimulated  in other ways”. I wish it was that easy.Because these problematic behaviours are signs, not an end behaviour to be ignored.

Instead of walking away because these are ‘first world problems’, speak to her about it. When you address the unmet needs, the problematic behaviour goes away. When I say ‘address’, I don’t mean that you have to meet her needs in a way that sacrifices your own needs. What I mean is, you’ll have to talk her through it. It’s an opportunity for your child to learn how to problem solve. How to have fun without television?

2. Labeling a child as ‘annoying’ and ‘whiny’ is hurtful and regressive to her behaviour. Labeling is one of the most self-fulfilling prophecies of all times. It disregards her unmet needs (see point 1) and it puts a name to her problematic behaviour which, as I said, is a symptom of her problematic feelings.

Behaviour affects feelings, and feelings affect behaviour, psychologists would agree. If you tell her that she whines every time she feels upset, she will make the connection quickly and will whine every time she feels upset. It can become an apocalyptic characteristic that she will carry on throughout her adulthood. So instead of helping your child, you are reinforcing your child’s undesired behaviour. What helps is if you show her alternatives that are acceptable to you to express that feeling of being upset. (See point 5 for an example of an alternative)

3. Your child is 2 years old. My guess is that you wrote the blog entry based on a hypothetical assumption that your 16-year-old child will be whiny if you don’t put up these fancy parties in the future. Good news is, if you are realistic and honest with your child about your own capabilities and needs, your child will not expect an over-the-top party.  

4. Your child is 2 years old (I am making a different point). Two-year-old children, in fact most children before their voice breaks, up to the age of 15, do speak in a high-pitched tone to convey their needs. But I get your point, you meant whiny as an overarching label to describe an undesirable behaviour. However, be mindful of when he or she tries to tell you something seemingly unimportant, because it is actually a reflection of a deeper issue.

5. Your child’s personality can define the way they communicate. Some children ‘whine’, some whine less. Their sensitivity to feelings, the way their interpret you or the world, has a bearing over the way they behave. Speaking with a high-pitched voice is the way they are hardwired. If it annoys you, tell them that. And teach them alternative communication skills that are acceptable to you. For example “Breathe in and out. Speak in a lower pitch and volume. Use words like ‘please’.” Say ” Mummy will be able to help you better when I hear your message clearly.”

6. First World problems are real problems too, and they will not go away. This is not Districts 1-12 vs the Capital (referencing Hunger Games) fiction, it’s real life. In fact, ’First World problems’ have become such an important part of the puzzle-piece that to ignore it will be doing your child a disfavor. The gap between the have and have-nots. The technology that has crept into our lives, the things that are now available to us that weren’t around before. Never dismiss annoying behaviours as a ‘first world problem’ because these are communication signs. You don’t want to miss it and have your child give up on communicating with you altogether.

It is entirely possible that 10-15 years down the road, you still find your child whining even though you haven’t put up a single fancy birthday party. Because these 2 are unrelated. It’s not about you being unable to make a decent birthday cake, which i’m sure you will if you find the right recipe and have the right tools, it is about them having a moment and we being there to address it.

From a mother to another- I can understand and empathize with your need and your want to provide what is best for your child while balancing the being-a-responsible-parent aspect of it. We don’t want to knowingly spoil our children, none of us will. There is no parenting standard that I’m advocating here, because there are so many variables at play- socio-economic differences, education, culture, country, gender of parents and children, time, creativity… So you are absolutely right about not comparing yourself to the thousands of Pinterest moms who spend weeks working on their children’s parties, just as I don’t compare myself to parents who spend thousands of dollars on their children’s birthdays. But if there is one thing i advocate, it’s honest parenting. Understand yourself as a parent, and be true to it. Do what you can for your children with joy in your heart. Similarly, don’t withhold from your children for the sake of abstract disciplinary measures. Your child and children to come deserve every ounce of love from you, including the ones that you think you need to withhold.

I wish you all the best in your family life.

Read more of Stella’s parenting articles on www.virgoparenting.tumblr.com.


Gingerbread House Activity at school

The school recommends that parents volunteer their time for classroom activities without being very clear about how we can volunteer. I think it’s great though that they don’t enforce it like some of the schools do.

Anyway, my volunteer for the year is the Gingerbread House. I used this recipe http://www.simplyrecipes.com/m/recipes/how_to_make_a_gingerbread_house/ but I cut out an extra door, 2 windows and added in some mini-gingerbread men into the house. I didn’t want to spend money on extra candies so I used leftover fondants from their birthdays and cut them out into little shapes. Fun fun fun!

At school, the children were divided into groups and each group got to decorate 1 panel of the house. The son was especially creative, he cut out his class name using cookies and stuck them on the front of the house.

A quick tip on the royal icing… Egg whites are better than using meringue powder. The latter produces a very thin liquid so it doesn’t glue very well.


Boot Camp: Fun but not for pussies

As I said, the goal this year and next is to get fit and healthy. I’ve just started boot camp- an all rounded exercise programme that is cardio, strength, core-strengthening (whatever all these words mean), basically we get a good sweat out and work different parts of the body. The husband says it’s just like his army training! It’s my second or third month doing this and I can’t believe the improvement I feel in my fitness level. It’s a whole lot of fun too because we are all girls and we have a lot of common topics.

That man in black, he is Roy Beale aka Englishman Roy aka Boy Toy Roy. He is our boot camp PT and he makes us work hard, seriously I shake in my boots when I think about some of the exercises. But I also like how he is aware of our limitations and don’t give us too much flak for ‘taking it slow’ on some days. 

I know it doesn’t look like we’re doing much in the picture, but the reason I could take this picture was because we were in-between exercises. I assure you that just 2 minutes before i was huffing and puffing after sprinting 3 mega rounds- we go one after another at 3 seconds intervals and the one at the back has to chase the person in front, so it’s super duper exciting. Today I pushed myself with the running, or rather I was being pushed because 2 of the fittest people were behind me! 

I want to share Roy’s details because he is a great PT. He still has slots in his schedule so just drop him a line at 187-2193-9244 if you’re interested in setting up a trial session. Or you can, join us at Shimao Riviera every Mon, Weds, Friday 9-10am. We meet at Tina’s around 845am.

Boot Camp: Fun but not for pussies

As I said, the goal this year and next is to get fit and healthy. I’ve just started boot camp- an all rounded exercise programme that is cardio, strength, core-strengthening (whatever all these words mean), basically we get a good sweat out and work different parts of the body. The husband says it’s just like his army training! It’s my second or third month doing this and I can’t believe the improvement I feel in my fitness level. It’s a whole lot of fun too because we are all girls and we have a lot of common topics.

That man in black, he is Roy Beale aka Englishman Roy aka Boy Toy Roy. He is our boot camp PT and he makes us work hard, seriously I shake in my boots when I think about some of the exercises. But I also like how he is aware of our limitations and don’t give us too much flak for ‘taking it slow’ on some days.

I know it doesn’t look like we’re doing much in the picture, but the reason I could take this picture was because we were in-between exercises. I assure you that just 2 minutes before i was huffing and puffing after sprinting 3 mega rounds- we go one after another at 3 seconds intervals and the one at the back has to chase the person in front, so it’s super duper exciting. Today I pushed myself with the running, or rather I was being pushed because 2 of the fittest people were behind me!

I want to share Roy’s details because he is a great PT. He still has slots in his schedule so just drop him a line at 187-2193-9244 if you’re interested in setting up a trial session. Or you can, join us at Shimao Riviera every Mon, Weds, Friday 9-10am. We meet at Tina’s around 845am.