Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Are Parents Too Overprotective in the West and Too Lax in the East?


Are Parents Too Overprotective in the West and Too Lax in the East?
One of the things that I really love about having babies in China is how attentive complete strangers are to my children. The fruit seller at our apartment complex entrance is always asking about my kids, for example, even if I am there without them—she even knows their names! It warms my heart.   I’ve likewise been amazed by how warm and interested wait staff are in Chinese restaurants. Now that we have two children, it’s not unusual for a waitress to ask first about our children’s ages and genders before even taking our orders.  Read more »

Does Religion Matter? Juggling Two Faiths in One Family

We are religious in the sense that my husband, Marvin, and I believe in a higher entity--God/Allah--that connects all of us.  Read more »

Amazing Portraits of Biracial Kids

Beautiful portraits of half-Chinese kids (c) Karen Patterson   As a foreign mother with a half Chinese baby in China, it became very apparent that many of the Chinese around me – known and strangers alike – had some very interesting stereotypes that they seemed to assign to ‘hunxuer’, or half-Chinese babies and kids.  Read more »

Tanabata Festival: July 7

Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. The cultural festival dates back approximately 2000 years and has its roots in a Chinese legend.  Read more »

Is It Ok to Leave a Sleeping Baby Home Alone?

My daughter loves to sing. I’m not surprised. As the daughter of two musicians, she has had music around her since conception. Lately, my mother-in-law (MIL) has been teaching her Chinese children’s songs and it’s so lovely to hear her little voice singing the words. One of these songs is called “Good Little Rabbit 小兔子乖乖” and she’s taken to singing it every time anyone comes through the apartment door.  Read more »

Do WASP Westerners Deserve Visibility in a Foreign Culture?

I’m rarely riled by critics, but recently a couple of comments really got under my skin. They were in response to a piece I wrote about my mother-in-law’s journey to Canada—her first trip to the West. The comments accused me of having a superiority complex over Chinese culture, being “improperly” bicultural, having a problem with “Chinese-ness,” being embarrassed by my mother-in-law, disliking the Chinese, and “having trouble reconciling my upbringing with my Eastern home.  Read more »

18 Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year with Crafts, Food and Children’s Books

The Lunar New Year (also known as the Chinese New Year, Tet in Vietnam and Seollal in Korea) is the most celebrated holiday of the year across many Asian countries. The New Year flushes out the old and welcomes in the new, making space for happiness, wealth, luck and longevity. It’s a time to spend with friends and relatives and stresses the importance of family ties.  Read more »

Don’t Kill That Spider! Superstitions in a Multicultural Family

People keep saying when you marry someone you actually marry their family. But when you marry someone outside your culture, it’s not just a new family you’re getting. The package contains a lot more.   You have a new cuisine to master (and even some new cookware to prepare it with) and new dishes on your weekly home menu list. You have new types of snacks piling up in the pantry and new drinks (some which you never tried before or didn’t know even existed) in the fridge.  Read more »

My Chinese Mother-in-Law Comes to Canada: A Foreigner in A Foreign Land

Since moving to Beijing and marrying my Chinese husband, it has been one adventure after another as I navigate this Chinese culture as a foreigner while also navigating the demands of a relationship. If there’s one main thing that I’ve learned to do since moving to China, it’s this: when we are in a foreign environment as opposed to our home countries, we must suspend all former perceptions of what is “normal.  Read more »

Cross-Cultural Differences in Discipline in Japan

My kids and I were hanging out at the cafe next door when a mom and her three-year-old daughter from the playgroup we go to popped in for coffee and cake. My daughter was so excited to see the familiar face of her playgroup friend that she grabbed a high chair and propped it up next to her. That girl brought along her dolly and my daughter wanted to play with it as well, despite the former’s obvious possessiveness with her doll.  Read more »

Sleepovers at Nainai’s Make Me Uneasy—Is it Culture or Me?

It was a moment of weakness.   My mother-in-law (MIL) and I were walking to the post office with my (then) 17-month old daughter in the stroller being pushed in front. My MIL was busy telling me about her long-time friend whose daughter is living in Australia.   “Xuan Xuan lets her mother take their son back to China for two to three months at a time while she stays in Australia to work!” she said, as though it were absolutely normal.  Read more »

The Estranged Japanese Dad

On my first day, working as a housekeeper for a Japanese family of four, a husband and wife and their two sons, the mom requested I prepare dinner for them after I finished tidying up and doing the laundry. “Should I prepare dinner for four?” I asked. “No, just three,” she replied. “My husband doesn’t come home till midnight. It’s usually just me and the kids for dinner.  Read more »

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival is a popular traditional Chinese festival, probably the second biggest one after the Spring Festival. It is held on the lunar August 15th, close to the middle of the autumn, so called “Mid-Autumn”.   The day is also known as the Moon Festival, as at that time of the year, the moon is at its fullest and brightest.  Read more »

Thanks to Chinese Potty-Training We’re Done With Diapers at 19 Months

I never fully understood the real feeling of pride until I had a child. There are depths to the feeling that I’d never mined. It’s like a geyser of emotion sometimes, flowing out of me in an arc of absolute wonder. I’m so proud of her, so often. It saturates my entire being.   We live in China and have been pushing the EC method or “Elimination Communication” method since she was four months old.  Read more »

Cross-Cultural Parenting in Japan: Differences in Affection

My two-year-old daughter and I have a routine we do every now and then and it goes like this:   “Who loves you very much?” “Mama!” “Who loves your curly red hair?” “Mama!” “Who loves you even though you’re very naughty? “Mama!”   Sometimes, just for fun, I’d ask silly questions and she would still answer “Mama!”   We have another routine in which I ask her, “Can Mama give you a machine gun kiss?” She’d pause and think.  Read more »

The Cultural Dilemma of American Summers for Immigrant Parents

I don’t know how to run a lemonade stand, make ice pops or build a sandcastle—all time-honored traditions of an American summer that I am struggling to acquire alongside my three-year-old Indian-American daughter. Among the many cultural dilemmas that we immigrant parents in the U.S. navigate when raising our children in a completely different culture is how to engage in the everyday rituals of our adopted homeland so that our children can fully embrace their hyphenated heritage.  Read more »

Travel to Mumbai, India with 5 Children’s Books

Intrigued when you hear India? Excited about a trip ahead? Find out about the colors, chaos and everything else that’s India through these books that are as whimsical and exotic as the country itself.     Excuse Me, Is This India? by Anita Leutiwiler and Anushka Ravishankar A mouse peeping out of an auto-rickshaw is the image on the cover.  Read more »

How I Moved to Thailand with my Family on Less than $1000

With my baby strapped to my back, I lugged a pair of oversize travel bags up to the Eva Air check-in counter. They contained all the belongings I deemed important enough to make the trip to Thailand, and we wouldn't be coming back. Both overshot the weight limit by a mile, so with my husband's help I steered the bags off to the side and started to unload, shaving down the “absolutely necessary” list a little bit more.  Read more »

Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don’t Think I Speak Mandarin

Now that I’m the exclusive English-language source for my daughter in our home, I do a lot more talking than I used to. Every new language brings out a different side of our personalities and I’ve discovered that I’m a bit less chatty in Chinese, not to mention a lot less funny! (It took my husband travelling back to Canada with me to realize that I have a pretty good knack for making people laugh.  Read more »

Tanabata Festival: July 7

Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. The cultural festival dates back approximately 2000 years and has its roots in a Chinese legend. Princess, Orihime, a weaver, fell in love with a cow herder named Hikoboshi. They were so madly in love that they forgot about their work. As punishment, Orihime's father, the emperor of the heavens, moved the lovers to opposite sides of the Milky Way and allowed them to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.  Read more »

Somen Noodles with Cold Miso Broth

Here’s a great Japanese recipe that’s perfect for hot days.   Makes 2 servings so definitely double or triple this for your family as needed!  

Miso dipping broth:
2 1/3 cups Read more »

Japanese Celebrations: A Children’s Book

Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns, and Stars! by Betty Reynolds   Japanese Celebrations: Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns and Stars! is a fun and educational book for children about the customs of Japan. It is full of colorful pictures with a playful quality depicting the practices of various Japanese holidays throughout the seasons.  Read more »

Tanabata Craft: Wish Tree (Tanzaku)

Tanabata is the Japanese star festival. It's a time when people make wishes for the year ahead. All wishes are written out and hung in bright colors on a bamboo branch. This festival is so colorful and vibrant, just have a look at some of these pictures from one person's home in Okinawa for Tanabata.   Materials: Bamboo branch or any tree branch if bamboo is not available Construction paper or other colored paper Scissors Hole punch String or thin ribbon Pens   Instructions: 1.  Read more »

How I Got the Canadian Mother’s Day I Wanted in China

Today is Mother’s Day. At least, it’s Mother’s Day in our house, long after the real Mother’s Day has come and gone. On the actual Mother’s Day, I arranged for my husband and I to take my mother-in-law out for lunch. Or so I thought. After all, my own mother is all the way in Canada. All I could do was wait for the evening and then phone my mother to wish her a happy day on her Mother’s Day morning (12-hour time difference).  Read more »

Thailand Solo with Two Kids: Where Homesickness Set In

We are now in Bangkok after two weeks on the beach in Koh Chang, a large island in the gulf of Thailand.   Thailand was our first journey away from friends and without Scott. My hope was that it would be an easy transition, filled with long lazy days at the beach, eating tropical fruit and enjoying the ocean. It was that but it was also a big look in the homesick mirror for the kids and we hit our halfway mark while there….  Read more »

China Bumps & Triumphs: What Ties This Expat to China

  Our Beijing apartment is filled with small items that I’ve tucked into my suitcases from Canada over these past five years—items that remind me of home and the life I left overseas. Of course, my life is here now. The cheap green vase I fell in love with a decade ago and the framed drawing by my longtime friend in Toronto that has travelled with me between rented apartments and ex-partners, both sit proudly on the shelf before me.  Read more »

Best Asian-American Children’s Books

May is Asian-Pacific American heritage month. It is the perfect time to showcase some of the truly amazing authors in Asian-American children’s literature, who have consistently produced works that bridge cultures.   The reading list includes authors and books that highlight Asian heritage through great stories. This kind of literary exposure can be very enriching as it helps children develop a deeper understanding of cultures and hence an appreciation for the diverse communities in which we live.  Read more »

Homeschooling in Myanmar: Visiting Bagan

A few weekends ago, we piled into my friends' van and drove eight hours to Bagan, the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Pagan (9th – 13th C.E.) located in the Mandalay region of Myanmar. At its height there were over 10,000 pagodas in the Bagan plains alone. Today there are only 2200 pagodas still standing.   From Yangon, we drove along the new highway built from Yangon to Mandalay, reportedly the only highway of its nature in Myanmar.  Read more »

How I Reclaimed My House from My Mother-in-Law

I am standing at my kitchen sink here in Beijing. I’m about to wash the day’s final few dishes in a kitchen that I can now spin around in knowing every item is placed exactly where I want it; every cupboard has been cleaned and ordered, the floor is clear of clutter and my beautiful spice rack containing gems like oregano, curry powder and basil is, once again, front and center beside my stove.  Read more »

Traveling to Myanmar with Kids

We are now staying with our expat friends in Yangon, Myanmar, where we are witnessing a culture undergoing change at warp speed. Our friends have been coming here for nine years and finally moved their family of four here permanently last year. They have witnessed the “before and after” of the EU and U.S. lifted sanctions in 2012, and through their eyes, we too are seeing how a country once shut out from the rest of the world is being stretched to accommodate the influx of people, cars, ideas, trends and multinational corporations from all over the world.  Read more »

Tibetan Singing Bowls and Hidden Kitchen Instruments for Kids

It was love at first "ring"! I can still remember the first time I ever heard the beautiful sound of a Tibetan Singing Bowl. I had never seen or heard of one before and the tone that it produced was immediately calming and intriguing. I was fascinated that a bowl could produce such an amazing sound and so magically!   Singing bowls are often referred to as Tibetan or Himalayan Singing Bowls and their origin can be traced back to the 10th-12th century AD to countries such as Nepal, Tibet, India, China and Japan.  Read more »

How My Chinese Mother-in-Law Replaced my Husband

I sat around a table of couples in my husband’s hometown this spring, all his former classmates and their wives. Each pair had children and shared lots of stories of life with a baby. Our daughter was only five months old at the time. We were just beginning the journey.   What makes our journey unique, however, is our negotiation of roles between Chinese father and Canadian mother, and specifically surrounding gender equity.  Read more »

Adventures in Homeschooling in India

Did you miss Chandra's first post Around the World in One Semester? It explains her family's adventure.   Tara has been a good sport about being at the ashram so far, but she got a stomach virus a couple days ago and began to hit her ‘wall.’ The expected, “I want to go home,” declaration came out and she has begun talking non-stop about all the foods she misses: ice cream, Caesar salad, root beer, pasta.  Read more »

Korean Barbecue with a Twist

Here’s a recipe for a simple family dinner, that is always a top favorite with my kids. Even though we’re a part Moroccan household, with one gluten-free daughter, we eat a lot of Asian food, not only cause we love it but also because so much of it is naturally gluten free.  I have never been to Korea so can’t make any claims to the authenticity of this dish, but I can guarantee its tastiness and kid friendliness  Read more »

A Multicultural Book for Mixed Race Kids

Review of I am Flippish By Leslie V. Ryan; illustrated by Adolph Soliz   “Why don’t I look like you?” is a question every parent, especially mixed families, must have encountered (or will encounter) at some point in time. “I am Flippish,” a story set in a very practical context, addresses this for all of us.   The author, Leslie Ryan, sent me a copy of this book.  Read more »

Dragon Craft from Paper Plates

Materials 4 white paper plates Paint—you definitely need some red Streams or tissue paper Pom poms for eyes Pipe cleaners Construction paper Stapler, glue   Instructions Let your kids paint each of the 4 papers plates in different colors. Make sure you have some red and gold (yellow) in there. Red symbolizes good luck and gold wealth.  Read more »

My Chinese New Year: Welcoming the Year of the Snake

As a first generation American, you always watched other families sitting around a Christmas tree or carving a turkey, consoled by watching reruns of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” But Chinese New Year—that was different. That was my holiday, the one that made waking up early exciting, slowly lulled awake by the smells of burning incense, and the 10 special dishes my mom prepared, dishes with names that alluded to prosperity and luck.  Read more »

The Story of the Chinese Zodiac

“Many moons ago,” the story begins, “the people of China had no calendar.” So the Jade Emperor set out to rectify that. He created a calendar based on animals, giving each year a different animal. But he wasn’t sure which order the animals should come in, so he held a race for the animals to cross a wide river. As the legend of the Chinese zodiac unfolds in the pages of The Great Race: The Story of the Chinese Zodiac by Dawn Casey (author) and Anne Wilson (illustrator), we learn how each year became a different animal.  Read more »

Nirvana Day Craft: Lotus Flower

Nirvana Day is a Mahayana Buddhist holiday commemorating the death of the Buddha. It is observed on February 8 or 15. Nirvana is the idyllic spiritual condition, the ultimate goal of a Buddhist. The day itself is spent in meditation, reflecting upon those who have more recently died, and special food preparations are made. Sometimes gifts of money or clothing are exchanged.  Read more »

A Recipe for Lunar New Year (From My Kindergartner)

I woke up Sunday morning to quite a bit of banging in the kitchen. I was a tad concerned about someone getting hurt or something catching fire, as we don’t normally leave the kids in the kitchen unsupervised. They knew better than to use the stove though, right? But my kindergartner does tend to possess a degree of independence and ignore-the-rules confidence, especially when she feels she is doing right.  Read more »

Homeschooling on the Road

My husband, two children (Tara age 12 and Tejas age four), and I are now settled in at a small Ayurvedic Ashram near Mangalore, South India, where we will spend three weeks receiving Ayurvedic treatments. Ayurveda is the Indian traditional medicine, said to be at least 3500 years old. Our treatments will focus on cleansing and rejuvenation.   In preparation for our five months on the road, knowing Tara would need to complete the second half of her seventh grade year, I searched around for online homeschool curricula that would best fit our needs.  Read more »

Lunar New Year Craft: Balloon Lantern

Inspired by this amazing photo of Chinese New Year decorations, we set out to make lanterns for the Lunar New Year. Ours is a faux lantern as it’s purely decorative and not made to house a candle. Source: Flickr –zTransmissions Materials: Balloon (inflated and knotted; the color doesn’t matter as you will take the balloon out at the end) Tissue paper (red is traditional) Glue Paint brushes Red or yellow ribbon Scissors Instructions: 1.  Read more »

Japanese Music and Dance for Children

Every year at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum families are invited to “ring” in the New Year Japanese style, by participating in the auspicious Japanese tradition of striking a temple bell. According to Japanese custom, striking the bell symbolically welcomes the New Year. It is hoped that with each reverberation, the bad experiences and ill luck of the past will be wiped away, giving space to a joyous and fresh New Year.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in Vietnam: French, Vietnamese and English

Welcome Elka and Thien!   Where are you from? Elka: I was born in England. My dad is British and my mother is German. When I was very young, we lived in Africa, then moved to Canada.   Thien: I was born in Ben Tre, Vietnam and immigrated to Australia at three years old. I then moved back to Vietnam in 2003.   Where do you currently live and what countries have you lived in together? Elka: We met in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and have never lived anywhere else together.  Read more »

Around the World in One Semester

My family and I have embarked on our long awaited five-month trip around the world.  First stop is Bangalore, India, to rest from the 20-hour flight and regroup before heading to an Ayurvedic Ashram for three weeks of rest and rejuvenation. My husband, Scott, and I are traveling with our two kids, Tejas age four and Tara age 12.   We have been planning to take this trip for a few years now, but it wasn’t until a request came in on our VRBO page from a nice family who wanted to rent our home for five months, that the trip began to take shape.  Read more »

Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Z        This page is a way for all of us to share resources for books, websites, music, apps, games and more for raising our bilingual children. These are reader recommendations on resources by language. Many of these products we have not looked into ourselves and therefore they are not endorsements.  Read more »

How Photography Unleashed My Teen’s Inner Traveler

What would you do if you knew you would have just enough money to make sure you and your family would be OK for the next four years. I’m not talking buckets of cash, just enough to allow you to think about what really matters, not so much that you get distracted and take your eye off the ball. I asked myself that a year ago and this is how I found myself, post-divorce, with my two daughters in Southeast Asia, happier than I had been in years.  Read more »

Indonesian Yellow Coconut Rice (Nasi Kuning)

When I was growing up, fragrant yellow coconut rice was right at home sitting next to the roast beef, honey-baked ham and Yule log cake served during Christmas dinner.   Every year, my mom would make nasi tumpeng, a unique Indonesian rice combination. She would start by making rice flavored with coconut, turmeric and other herbs, which she would shape into a conical pyramid and place on a bed of folded banana leaves  Read more »

Kids Reading Around the World

Reading fosters children's imaginations, grows their vocabulary, primes them for academic achievement and supports numerous brain-related functions like speech, logic and concentration. Reading is also an accessible and powerful way to connect children to the world, not just the world they know but the undiscovered and unknown. Books about diverse cultures and countries empower children to view the world with curiosity and understanding, enriching and broadening their minds and preparing them for a bright future in a globalized world.  Read more »

Children’s Favorites: Ice Cream around the World

What treat do children have in common in every country around the world? Ice cream! Ice cream! We all scream for ice cream! InCultureParent takes you from Indonesia to Ecuador to look at how ice cream worldwide is sold and enjoyed--from cart to mouth. See how other countries and kids enjoy this universal treat. 0 2 30 Little girl in Japan © Decellio - Fotolia.  Read more »

Don’t Touch My Child! Lessons from Asia

The American psyche is still reeling 33 years after the disappearance of little Etan Patz on his neighborhood corner. Kids have never been more coddled and cooped up. Activities like biking to school, which were once commonplace, now risk getting parents reported to social services, publicly ostracized, thrown in jail and on occasion nearly punched out by well-meaning grannies.  Read more »

Dragon Boat Festival Recipe: Red Bean Pastry

For years, Dragon Boat Festival was rarely celebrated outside of China. It’s a wonder, because the beauty and excitement of sailing dragon-decorated boats down the river are unrivaled in other holidays. Pretty much every recipe I found for Dragon Boat Festival (June 23, 2012) was for zongzi, steamed rice dumplings. However, as these recipes were outside my culinary realm, I kept digging  Read more »

Fast Food Showdown: A Singaporean Reflection

When we started looking into moving to Southeast Asia, specifically Singapore, we were lucky enough to have friends of friends we could talk to about what to expect. My approach to mining these valuable resources made mountaintop removal look gentle. I will be forever grateful for the long email exchanges and Skype phone calls various folks endured, where conversations were more akin to military interrogations.  Read more »

Best Asian-American Children’s Books

May is Asian-Pacific American heritage month. It is the perfect time to showcase some of the truly amazing authors in Asian-American children’s literature, who have consistently produced works that bridge cultures.   The reading list includes authors and books that highlight Asian heritage through great stories.  This kind of literary exposure can be very enriching as it helps children develop a deeper understanding of cultures and hence an appreciation for the diverse communities in which we live.  Read more »

Lotus Lanterns for Wesak (Buddha Day)

Wesak, Buddha's birthday, is celebrated differently in various Asian and predominantly Buddhist countries. Wesak is tracked on the lunisolar calendar, and this year falls on the fifth of May, which is also Korean Children's Day. Paper lanterns shaped like lotus flowers are a common component of the incredible lantern festivals on the Buddha's birthday in Korea, where the holiday is called 석가 탄신일 (Seokga tansinil) "Buddha's birthday" or sometimes 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal) "The Day When Buddha Came.  Read more »

Wesak Recipe: Tofu and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce

Wesak (also called Vesak), a Southeast Asian holiday, celebrates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha. Wesak is one of the most important Buddhist events and is celebrated with color and gaiety. While Wesak food varies by country, it is proper for food to be vegetarian. This dish was simple to prepare and delicious! If your children do not like spice, you may want to omit the cayenne  Read more »

When Relocation Adds a New Language to the Mix

I am now faced with another move 18 months into our Asian adventure, having not yet finished arguing with myself over how much to encourage (hyper-parent) my kids to learn Mandarin on top of our three family languages. We are relocating to Bangkok. This opens up a whole world of new possibilities. First and foremost, it means I will be able to afford daily massages, as we will no longer be living hand to mouth.  Read more »

Lunar New Year: January 23, 2012

The Lunar New Year (or Asian New Year) is the most celebrated holiday of the year across many Asian countries. On the first day of the first new moon after the winter solstice in the lunar calendar (January 23, 2012), countries like Korea, Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Asian communities in many Western countries will celebrate the New Year. The New Year flushes out the old and welcomes in the new, making space for happiness, wealth, luck and longevity.  Read more »

Arranged Marriage 101

I’ve realized the term “love marriage” is absent in the West. In India and a few other countries in South Asia, it would denote one of the two possible ways leading to a union, the other being arranged marriage. Love is probably the last thing on the checklist when two people are arranged to live together for the rest of their lives. Strange but true.  Read more »

Travel the Globe with the World Atlas

Barefoot Books’ newly released World Atlas for children, written by Nick Crane and illustrated by David Dean, is one of those books that will grow with your child over time. It is stuffed with factoids and information about our planet, with colorful illustrations that will continue to entice children to explore its pages. Did you know that dates have been around for so long that no one knows what region the palm tree is native to; or that polar bears are the largest predator on earth, weighing up to 1,499 pounds?   The Atlas aims to present a snapshot of our planet today and how people in different parts of the world interact with it.  Read more »

What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation

My eight-year-old daughter did something a few weeks ago that surprised me. She asked me what “Asian” meant. In Britain, Asian is usually taken to describe people of South Asian origin—Pakistani, Bengali, Indian and Sri Lankan, unlike America where Asian generally denotes East Asians. People my age and older have been grouped into one of a few broad categories: white, black or Asian, with little ambiguity about this.  Read more »

We Are Not So Different: Why China’s Recent Hit and Run Tragedy Shouldn’t Shock You

Disclaimer: Viewers beware. Link to article also features graphic video of incident. You can stop the video in order to read article if needed. A few days ago, a toddler was struck by two vehicles on a road in China and eventually died because no one stopped to help. My initial reaction? Total shock followed by immediate outrage coupled with an attitude of “this would never happen where I come from.  Read more »

Language for Family Ties or Competitive Edge?

When we decided to move to Singapore about 18 months ago, people’s reactions fell into roughly three categories: 1. People who knew pretty much nothing about Singapore: “Are you insane?” “What language do they speak over there?” “Is it safe? Don’t they hang you for littering?” 2. Those who had been to Singapore or were planning on it: “I am so jealous, you are going to eat so well.  Read more »

Giving Birth Naturally in Hong Kong, the Land of the Lucky

In a country where women routinely consult the Chinese zodiac to determine the most auspicious date for the caesarean delivery of their babies, I was preparing for a natural childbirth in a private English hospital on the top of Hong Kong’s highest mountain in the days just after the British handover of the colony to China. The handover had taken place in July, but in September, the lights from the handover celebration that drew millions and was watched on television all over the world, still bathed the city in brilliance.  Read more »

Top 10 Most Imaginative Playgrounds Around the World

"The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground." - G.K. Chesterton Playgrounds are the heart of a community’s gathering place and the play zones for old and young imaginations alike. They are the spaces where children meet the outdoors, challenge their physical abilities and stretch their imaginations.  Read more »

Celebrating Japanese Culture with the Obon Dance

We went to the Obon Dance at the Puna Hongwanji tonight. I love first walking up to the temple grounds, totally transformed by the strings of lanterns glowing in the night, the tall yagura platform calling everyone's attention to the circle.   It is always great watching the elegant old ladies from the Japanese dance schools in their matching kimonos and perfectly coifed hair lead the way, their hands so graceful, their faces so calm.  Read more »

Mongolia’s Naadam Festival: July 11-13

The Naadam Festival is the major Mongolian holiday. Naadam, meaning game or competition in Mongolian, features the three sporting passions of Mongolians: wrestling, horse racing and archery over three days of festivities. Naadam is not just limited to sports but is a carnival of music, dancing and food.   All three sports have their roots in the historical warrior tradition of Mongolia.  Read more »

Mongolian Matching Game

Mongolian children have traditionally played many different games using animal bones. One common game is the first player gathers all the bones (usually ankle bones of goat, sheep and horses) and throws them on a flat surface. The player then looks for pairs of matching bones and flicks one of the matching bones to hit the other matching bone. If they touch any other bone, then they lose their turn.  Read more »

Mongolian recipe: Khuushuur

This simple Mongolian recipe is popular at Naadam. Khuushuur uses straightforward

Ingredients that can be found tucked away in your kitchen cabinet. Served best warm, they are also a great alternative to the potsticker or empanada (yum).


Main I

 Read more »

Korean Recipe: Hoddeok

Hoddeok is a “traditional” Korean street vendor food. Korean people love to eat this delicious snack especially in the cold winter. It tastes best when it is warm. You can find the

Ingredients for this recipe easily anywhere, so I highly recommend this one. Do you like sticky buns or pecan rolls? If so, I bet you will love this  Read more »

Vesak Craft: Make a Paper Lantern

A popular craft for kids on Vesak is making a lantern. This is a craft for a simple one below but you can go more elaborate with different colored paper, ribbons and streamers if you desire! Materials: Popsicle sticks (or an easy alternative requiring no glue is bendy straws that fit together) Glue (a hot glue gun works best) Piece of cardboard String Tissue paper, any color (or another type of thin paper) Instructions: This craft is traditionally done using bamboo.  Read more »

Mother’s Day in Mandarin at the Chinese Speech Tournament

My daughter Hao Hao was once a timid child who cried at every little thing. She even got kicked out of sports camp because she dissolved into a flood of tears every time she got "out" in softball or tag. Once when she was at Leslie Science Center, she cried on a hike through the woods because she was afraid of the spider webs on the trail. Instead of giving in to her tears as the teachers and moms at Chinese School tended to do, the Leslie Science Center instructor simply handed her a butterfly net to empower her to wave away the spider webs as she marched down the trail, head and butterfly net held up high.  Read more »

Korean Craft: Make a Traditional Sam Taeguk Fan

The Sam Taeguk symbol is found on traditional Korean fans. It is a variation of the Taeguk symbol found on the Korean national flag. The Taeguk is comprised of two colors, red and blue. The red represents heaven and the blue represents earth. The symbol represents harmony similar to a yin yang symbol. The Sam Taeguk includes yellow to represent humanity.  Read more »

Hungry for Some Korean Bee-Bim Bop

When we started investigating a Korean-themed book to cover in May, the suggestion that came up over and over from many Korean-Americans and others was Bee-Bim Bop, by author Linda Sue Park and illustrator Ho Baek Lee, so we took heed. Bee-Bim Bop is an adorable, sing-songy book about cooking this favorite (at least one of my favorite) Korean dishes, bee-bim bop, which means mixed-up rice in Korean  Read more »

Vesak Recipe: Fried Meehoon

Editor’s note: On Vesak, it is prohibited to kill any being, so everyone eats vegetarian. Here’s a recipe from Malaysia that is popular on Vesak. This author’s food blog, Pure Glutton, is guaranteed to make your tummy rumble with its pics! Fried Meehoon (vegetarian version)


300g/1.5 cups meehoon (dried rice vermicelli)
150g/1 cup beansprouts
150g/1 cup shredded carrots
150g/1 cup mustard leaves (sawi)

 Read more »

Vesak (Wesak): May 13 (date varies)

Vesak (also known as Wesak) commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death with a colorful, fun festival. Casually the holiday is often referred to as the “Buddha’s birthday.” The exact date of Vesak changes according to the varying lunar calendars used in different traditions. It is primarily celebrated within Theravada Buddhism (practiced in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, etc.  Read more »

A Lion’s Mane: Story of the Sikh Turban

How often did the covers of the books you read as a child have children who looked like you? Did these children's books offer you a sense of belonging or importance? As our children enter into such a global community, it is clear that having access to authentic literature representing their heritage can only help ease the numerous challenges of peer pressure and elevate self-esteem.  Read more »

Vaisakhi Recipe: Sarson Ka Sag

Sarson ka sag is traditionally a Punjabi dish, often made on Vaisakhi but not exclusively. It’s totally delicious, vegetarian and incorporates one of the world healthiest veggies—mustard greens—in a way that even your kids might eat. Mustard greens are an excellent anti-cancer vegetable, can lower cholesterol and have been known to be beneficial for colds, arthritis and depression  Read more »

Vaisakhi Craft: Make a Flag

One element of the celebration of Vaisakhi is a parade. A fun thing for kids to do is make their own Nishan Sahib, the Sikh holy flag, to carry in the parade. The Nishan Sahib has an Adi Shakti on it, which is the symbol of the Sikhs.   Materials: A rectangle of white construction paper Orange paper A print out of an Adi Shakti (included below) A stick or rod about 1 1/2 feet long Scissors, glue and strong tape   Instructions: Cut the white poster board into a rectangle, about the size of a piece of printer paper, to use as the base of your flag.  Read more »

Holi Crafts: Messy Paint and Hand-Traced Flowers

Let your kids get messy and colorful in the spirit of Holi. A large paint canvas or poster board will do. And let them go to town with their hands, brushes if they desire, and paints. We have created a couple paintings for our house like this.   Craft 1: Make a Painting   Materials: Canvas or poster board (large!) Paint   Instructions: First, change the kids into old clothes that you don't mind getting ruined.  Read more »

Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan

In Mongolia, there's an oft-quoted saying that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years—a serious endorsement in a country where wrestling is the national sport. I moved to Mongolia when my first child was four months old, and lived there until he was three.   Raising my son during those early years in a place where attitudes to breastfeeding are so dramatically different from prevailing norms in North America opened my eyes to an entirely different vision of how it all could be.  Read more »

Out of the Way! Out of the Way!

Editor's Note: I set out this month to find a book on Holi to review and found what seemed to be a great one: Holi by prolific writer Uma Krishnaswami. The only problem with this book was getting my hands on it as I wasn't able to find a copy at my local library. In my search for the book, I was introduced to many other books by the same author who is inspired by her Indian heritage in her writing.  Read more »

Happy O-Higan!

One of my favorite holidays in Japan and Buddhism occurs not once, but twice a year around the spring and fall equinox: O-higan. The holiday literally translates as "the other shore." In Buddhism, this is a frequent metaphor for parting this shore of ignorance, hatred and greed to the other shore of nirvana, peace and so on. The holiday arose in Japan because the spring and fall equinoxes are both pleasant times of the year, and people can devote more free time to things like Buddhism.  Read more »

Holi Recipe: Thandai (Delicious Almond-Spiced Milk)

Thandai is a refreshing milk-based drink, accented with bold flavors. It is traditionally consumed in Northern India during the festival of Holi. You can find many variations of this recipe and nothing is quite set in stone so feel free to experiment with spices and proportions.  



4 cups of milk (whole milk is best but you can substitute for low fat or soy)
½ cup almonds
1 T poppy seeds
1 t black peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods, crushed

 Read more »

Chinese New Year Recipe: Yuanxiao (sweet rice balls)

Yuanxiao, or sweet rice balls, are traditionally eaten on Lantern Festival, which is the last day of the two-week Chinese New Year holiday. Lantern Festival falls on the first full moon of the new year and people traditionally go out on the street at night carrying lanterns, and light fireworks and visit friends and family. They also eat this sweet dessert, which has a round shape symbolizing family unity and happiness (and the full moon)  Read more »

Stupider Than a Potato: Life With My Chinese Mother

I spent Christmas in Hong Kong with my brother and my parents. It was the first family holiday (minus my two sisters) we had in a very long time. We were walking around in Mong Kok the day after Boxing Day, strolling down the narrow path flanked on either side by busy stalls selling handbags, t-shirts, knick knacks and souvenirs on Ladies Street. The sky was clear and the sun was in our faces.  Read more »

Chinese New Year: February 3

The Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday of the year in China. It takes place on the first day of the first new moon after the winter solstice in the lunar calendar (February 3rd, 2011). Socially, it is a time for being with friends and relatives and the greater significance is of flushing out the old and welcoming in the new. This holiday, more than any other Chinese holiday, stresses the importance of family ties.  Read more »

InCultureParent’s Essential Chinese New Year Reading List

Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac By Ed Young (author and illustrator) Review by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang Beautifully written retelling of the story about how the 12 animals of the zodiac were chosen and why the cat and the rat are no longer friends. It really portrays the personalities of the cat, rat, ox, and other animals and ties their personality to how they run their race.  Read more »

Little Buddha at Home

My daughter has recently reached four years old, and has blossomed mentally and physically. What surprises me at this age is how her mind has matured and how she picks up on things that I might overlook. Recently, she started to imitate the Buddha seated in meditation as a joke. I don't know exactly where she picked this up, but in the bathtub she'll cross her little legs, put her hands in the proper mudra (gesture) and sit very straight, just like you see in statues of the Buddha.  Read more »

5 Crafts for the Chinese New Year

There were so many adorable and fun crafts for the Chinese New Year, it was impossible to pick only one to showcase this month. So InCultureParent has put together an overview of some of the best crafts we found for the Chinese New Year. They range from very easy (fingerprint cherry blossoms) to medium-difficulty (dragon mask) and many can be made with materials from around the house (e.  Read more »

Careful With the “R”! Japanese Language Mistakes

A Japanese friend wanted to learn English so she started watching CNN while on the treadmill at the gym to train her ears. It was during Obama's presidential campaign so words like "voters" and "election,” were jumping back and forth among the announcers and repeated all the time, so she was able to catch them.   One day she asked me, “I understand the meaning of "vote" but I don't quite understand the meaning of "election," with heavily-accented Japanese.  Read more »

Japanese New Year: January 1st through January 3rd

The Japanese New Year, shogatsu, spans several days from December 31st to January 3rd. It is the most important holiday of the year in Japan. While the New Year was originally based on the Chinese lunar calendar, in 1873, it changed to the Gregorian calendar. To prepare for the New Year, people clean their houses and decorate. Kadomatsu are a common decoration made from bamboo, pine branches and strips of folded white paper.  Read more »

Japanese New Year Recipe: Ozoni

Ozoni, or mochi soup, is a Japanese holiday meal traditionally prepared on New Year’s Day. After baking, fresh mochi is put into a bowl, and soup and cabbage are ladled over it. I remember watching my mom make ozoni once by boiling pork bones to create a soup base then adding napa cabbage. There are many different variations of ozoni–what follows below is my recipe  Read more »

Celebrating Guru Nanak’s Birthday at Gurdwara

I don't believe in the Beatles. "I just believe in me." John Lennon had it right. Little did he know when he penned the lyrics to "God" in 1970 that he was echoing the very same sentiments that Guru Nanak, the founder and first Guru of the Sikh religion, professed nearly 500 years prior. "There is neither Hindu nor Muslim. So whose path shall I follow? God is neither Hindu nor Muslim, and the path which I follow is God's.  Read more »

Ringing in the New Year the Japanese-Buddhist Way

New Year's is a huge festivity in Japan, larger than any other holiday observed there. After my first experience in 2008, I couldn't help thinking that it was Christmas and Thanksgiving in the U.S. all rolled into one three-day festivity. Japanese New Year, or shogatsu, inherits much of Chinese tradition, but is fixed to the Western solar calendar, and has evolved into a holiday that is uniquely Japanese.  Read more »

Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories

Japanese Children's Favorite Stories By: Florence Sakade and Yoshisuke Kurosaki Review By: The Editors   First printed the early 1950's, this is the third edition of the book. It contains ten classic Japanese fairy tales from the original printing together with ten newer stories. The stories are full of fantasy and provide a window into another culture without needing experience in the culture for children to appreciate them.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in Thailand: Portuguese, Cantonese, Thai and Japanese

Welcome Simone and Ewan! Where are you from? Simone: I was born in Brazil and my parents are Japanese. Ewan: I was born in Los Angeles, CA to Chinese parents and we moved to Hong Kong when I was three. We came back to the U.S. when I was a freshman in high school. I went to high school and college in the U.S. then went to Japan after college.  Read more »

Baby-Making the Hindu Way

I had my parents quite nervous about whether or not I would ever get married and have a family. No one was quite sure when I would run off to the Himalayas and I know there was some heavy betting going on with high odds that I was going to do just that. Well, I am glad I didn't run off, as there was never any need to and I am glad I decided to get married and make babies.  Read more »

Bringing Diwali to Life for Children

Diwali: A Festival of Lights and Fun (Diwali: Kushiyon Ka Tyohaar) By Manisha Kumar & Monica Kumar (Authors), Sona & Jacob (Illustrators) Reviewed by Meera Sriram   (Reprinted with permission from   This bilingual book on Diwali is from Meera Masi, a Bay Area based cross-cultural publishing house with a mission to pass on the heritage of India to immigrant children, through books and other products on Indian languages and culture.  Read more »

Diwali Recipe: Kheer

As much as Diwali is a festival of lights, it is also a festival of sweets. There are so many amazing sweet dishes made in celebration of Diwali. Here we present one of them, Kheer, an Indian rice pudding. Serves 4

1/2 cup basmati rice, washed and drained
4-5 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon rose water (optional but worth it)

 Read more »

East Meets West Parenting

Buddhism began for me as it did for many converts in the West: I saw an inspiring TV show about Asian philosophy at the age of 16, read some books and began meditating. But by college I felt myself wavering and leaving Buddhism for something more stimulating only to get bored again and move on once more. It wasn't until I met my wife, a Japanese girl studying English in college that things gradually changed.  Read more »

A World Apart from my Mother-in-Law

It wasn't until we adopted our daughter Willow that the full scale of the communication gulf between my husband's parents and me became plain. Born in southern China, educated as engineers in Hong Kong, and having raised their two sons in suburbs of Boston and Houston, my parents-in-law had a range of life experiences I would never fully comprehend.  Read more »

Diwali: November 5th

Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is one of the most vibrant and exciting Hindu celebrations. It is full of color and reverie, representing the philosophy behind it. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil and awareness of one's own inner light against a backdrop of fireworks, sweets, new clothes, decorating and cleaning homes, lighting lanterns and diyas (small oil lamps made of clay), exchanging gifts and drawing henna designs on hands.  Read more »
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