My Childhood Health Hazard: Tiger Mom, Revealed.

Have you read that book ‘Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother’?  I have.  I can honestly say I could write my own version. Warning: this is my story and my story only.  This is not a post about how you should be, how I want to be, how you should parent – or not parent.  This is not a post to offend anyone.  This is my own story. 

What exactly is a Tiger Mom?  (Here begins the longest run-on sentences – my apologies to the grammar nazi’s out there).  To me, a Tiger Mom is a full Chinese (or Asian), traditional, parenting by brute-force, driven by success, makes no exceptions, uses verbal and physical force to establish a point, excuses and complaining are not allowed – ever, playdates are rarely accepted, friends of status are friends to keep, image is everything, appearance is everything…and the list could go on but I will spare you.  HOWEVER, as a daughter of a Tiger mom… dominance is not OK, playing piano or instrument is a necessity – not only that, but to practice for at least one hour, if not two, per day, sweets/candy were only given on occasion, being anything but thin is to be obese, there is no such thing as being in second place, fear is instilled if you do not follow directions or orders correctly, you are never good enough, there is always something you could do better, you could always look better, there is always something to nitpick, if you’re not good anything – you keep trying until you are (or blue in the face), emotions are not spoken of freely, you are to always look and act the part, especially in public, any ‘f’ ups are not acceptable and could potentially embarrass her which will result in a slap across the face or spanking, asking for water when you are extremely thirsty and under the age of 3 results in your hand being placed on the cutting board with a knife held up against your fingers with her yelling at you saying that if you don’t stop asking, she will cut off your fingers with the knife one by one, if you misbehave in any way – she will grab your arm and squeeze your arm until her fingernails dig into your skin creating wonderful little scabs in shapes of fingernails… and the list could go on.

 Hmm… well let’s just begin by saying, I am grateful for many different aspects of how I grew up.   All things listed above are not shared by every tiger mom, just by the one that I know best, my own tiger mom.  How about we start with the things I’m grateful for to ease things into the core of it all.  I am grateful for … having two parents to raise me, that my parents decided to have two kids after me – those being my sisters, for teaching me discipline, introducing me to sports, introducing me to music, teaching me what hard work means, learning how to be independent, understanding sharing and to be disciplined, to learn how to just do things – things you don’t necessarily want to do, and of course, fake it until you make it. 

Now for the fun stuff.  Let’s just say it was really difficult to grow up in my household for a number of reasons.  Many of which, I will not mention.  However, I can say, that the Chinese culture can be unforgiving in a number of ways.  The ‘American’ way of parenting versus the ‘Chinese’ way of parenting often conflict.  Again, I must emphasize, I am in no way saying how someone should parent, or the right or wrong way to go about things.  It’s just my observation.  From what I’ve seen, it seems that Asian parents more often than not, are more commanding and demanding.  You are not given a choice.  Appearance, how you looked and acted visually and politically was what mattered most.  Isn’t that ironic?  People do this on a daily basis and often times, to this extent – to keep the peace of course.  However, people can read through this quite easily more often than you think.  To be the ‘perfect’ family is not the norm.  Every family has it’s struggles, hardships, and stressful times.  Here is my question, how much should you pretend – and how much should you be genuine when it comes to your private versus public life?  Please note, this does not include work or career settings.


More to come…  these are thoughts for now… our wedding is in FIVE days!  Woot woot!


Ten Wedding Vows Based on Relationship Science

Ten Wedding Vows Based on Relationship Science

Samantha Joel Headshot  Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto

I study romantic relationships. I’m also engaged. So, of course, I’ve given a tremendous amount of thought as to what it really means for my partner and I to marry one another. Researchers have found that weddings are deeply significant life events, but we don’t really know why they’re so meaningful. Marriage may simply be about celebrating a milestone: recognizing the relationship that a couple has built together and the love that they share for each other. But weddings are also very future-oriented, as the couple publicly promises to maintain their relationship for life. I suspect that it’s really these vows — the solemn promises that the newlyweds make to each other in front of their closest friends and family — that are at the crux of why weddings have such an emotional impact.

No pressure. As my partner and I sat down to think about our own vows, clearly we had a lot to consider. If these promises are the essence of what it means to be married, then what exactly do we want to promise each other? We could always go with the traditional marriage vows: for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better for worse… but, these seemed a bit too vague for our tastes. We decided that we wanted to make more specific, behavioural promises: things we can strive to do for each other that would help us to not only remain together, but also happy and fulfilled in our marriage.

Conveniently, I had decades of research at my fingertips to help us figure out what it really means to be a good spouse. Why not harness those resources for our wedding? In other words — and this may sound completely over-the-top nerdy to some — we decided to write some research-based vows.

Below are the ten promises that we’ve decided to make to each other. We believe that each of these promises is going to help us to achieve long-term marital bliss. Here’s why:

1. “I promise to respect, admire, and appreciate you for who you are, as well as for the person you wish to become.”

Research on positive illusions shows that it’s helpful to see romantic partners in a positive light — to appreciate their positive qualities rather than ruminating about their flaws. Not only does this sunny outlook lead to better relationship satisfaction, but positive illusions help partners to feel better about themselves.1 So, in the first part of this vow, we’re promising to always see the best in each other.

In the second part of this vow, my partner and I are promising to support each other’s attempts to grow and improve ourselves over time. This is called theMichelangelo phenomenon, and research shows that supporting your partner’s changes to their self in this way is very beneficial both for the partner and for the relationship.2 Importantly, I’m not promising to help my partner improve in the wayI want him to improve, but in the way he wants to improve himself, and vice versa. It’s all about supporting the partner’s own personal goals.

2. “I promise to support and protect your freedom; because although our lives are intertwined, your choices are still yours alone.”

This vow draws from research on autonomy. Although humans are social creatures who both need and enjoy relationships, it’s also important for us to maintain our individuality. In particular, we need to feel like the decisions we’re making are truly coming from us. When people feel forced or coerced into making choices — like they didn’t have any real choice in the matter — they’re less happy and less fulfilled. And, as you might have guessed, that lack of happiness is problematic for relationships.3 In this vow, my partner and I are promising to avoid pressuring, guilting, or otherwise coercing each other into making decisions, striving instead to always respect each other’s right to make choices for ourselves.

3. “I promise to seek a deep understanding of your wishes, your desires, your fears and your dreams.”

This vow draws from research on responsiveness, which involves sensitively meeting your partner’s needs. Striving to meet each other’s needs is a cornerstone of healthy relationships.4 However, you can’t meet a partner’s needs if you don’t know what they are. Understanding one’s partner is the first step to being responsive, which is why we each promise to seek a deep understanding of one another.

4. “I promise to always strive to meet your needs; not out of obligation, but because it delights me to see you happy.”

Once we figure out what each other’s needs are, my partner and I promise that we will try our best to meet those needs. Of course, this can be easier said than done. Sometimes, giving your partner what they need involves difficult sacrifices on your part.

Research on sacrifice shows that it’s important not to make sacrifices for avoidance-based reasons, such as feeling as though you “should” be giving something to your partner. Both partners are better off when any sacrifices are made out of approach motives, such as genuinely wanting to make your partner happy.5 So, with this vow, my partner and I are promising each other that when we do sacrifice for each other, we’ll do it only with love and care, and not with reluctance or resentment. If and when we can’t make sacrifices for the right reasons, it’s probably better not to make the sacrifice at all.

5. “I promise to be there for you when you need me, whenever you need me.”

This vow is based on what it means to be a good attachment figure: the person in your life who you most strongly rely on for support. With this vow, we’re promising to reliably be there for each other when one of us is distressed: to be each other’s soft place to fall, or what researchers call a “safe haven”.6

6. I promise to nurture your goals and ambitions; to support you through misfortune and celebrate your triumphs.

This vow covers the other side of being a good attachment figure: being there for your partner when they’re not distressed. Basically, my partner and I both want to know that we can take risks, make mistakes, and come home to a supportive partner at the end of the day. Letting your partner go out and conquer their goals, knowing that you’re there in the background cheering them on, is called being a “secure base”.7

7. “I promise to keep our lives exciting, adventurous, and full of passion.”

Here, we draw from research on self-expansion theory, showing that couples are happier when they engage in new, interesting things together.8 Basically, we’re promising each other not to let our relationship fall into a rut.9 We’re going to keep courting each other, keep travelling and exploring together, and keep sharing novel and interesting experiences with each other for the rest of our lives.

8. “I promise to persevere when times get tough, knowing that any challenges we might face, we will conquer them together.”

This is the closest that our vows come to representing the traditional vows about being together “for better, for worse”; in other words, to stay committed to each other. Research shows that by having this committed outlook — where we intend to stay together through thick and thin — we should be better able to deal with any adversity that might come our way. This is because, when a couple sees themselves as a permanent partnership, their perspective on problems tends to shift from being about “me against you” to being about “us against the issue”. Researchers call this “transformation of motivation”: commitment helps people to stop treating conflicts as zero-sum, instead keeping the wellbeing of their partner and their relationship in mind.10 So, by acting like a team, we’ll be in a better position to face challenges together.

9. “I promise to treat you with compassion over fairness, because we are a team, now and for always.”

This vow draws from research on communal orientation. Being communally-oriented means that you contribute to your relationship based on what is needed and based on what you have to give.11 In other words, it’s about being a team player. With this vow, we’re promising not to “track and trade,” keeping careful tabs on each other to ensure that we’re each contributing to the relationship fairly and equally (“I did the dishes yesterday, so you should do them today”). Instead, we’re promising to always strive to contribute what we can, based on the needs of our partner (“You got home very late and had a stressful day — I’ll do the dishes tonight”). We trust that our respective efforts will more or less balance out in the long run. Communal strength, or this willingness to give to the relationship without much concern for what you’re receiving in return, is associated with a whole range of positive relationship outcomes.12

10. “I promise to show you, every day, that I know exactly how lucky I am to have you in my life.”

With this last vow, we draw from research on the emotion of gratitude.13 When people feel appreciative of their partners, they’re happier and more committed to their relationships. And when people express gratitude to their partners, their partners feel appreciated, that makes those partners feel happier, more committed, and more appreciative themselves. It’s all a wonderful cycle of goodness. So in this vow, my partner and I are promising to never take each other for granted, but rather to appreciate what we have and express that appreciation to each other often.


After the wedding, we’re planning on getting these engraved and hung up in our hallway, to remind ourselves regularly that we made these promises. Clearly, actually following them is the real challenge. But the effort we put into keeping them will undoubtedly make our relationship stronger.

And by the way, if anyone else likes the idea of having wedding vows that are based on research, feel free to use these. We’re happy to share!

This article was originally written for Science of Relationships: a website about the psychology of relationships that is written by active researchers and professors in the field.


See the article – Click HERE!



Warning: Wedding Politics (and finances) may cause and increase in consumption of alcoholic beverages or junk food.

Yes, I said it.  I know this is supposed to be a food blog, but this post is not really about food.  I suppose the subject of this post could promote eating habits that may not be wanted.  Oh well. Wedding stuff.  Yes. This is where it gets real.  Most people think wedding planning is fun – I beg to differ.  The frustrating F’s.  Finances and Family politics.  I’m going to break it down – from my perspective of course, and what is happening with us.  Please note: this may not be the case for you.  If so, you are one lucky SOB.  No joke. 

Ok so you get engaged.  SWEET!  It’s exciting right?  Everyone’s super happy for you, and literally, not even 12 hours later, people are asking THE dreaded question…”So how is wedding planning going?”  My first thought is… wait, are you serious? I can’t just enjoy the fact that our relationship took it a step further into a truly wonderful state which we are still in total bliss about! No.  No you cannot.  Where are you having your wedding?  Have you picked a venue?  Have you chosen your bridesmaids?  What are your colors?  Have you gone wedding dress shopping?  What does your dress look like?  How many people are you inviting?  And so fourth.  You get the idea.  Not even 24 hours later, these were the questions that I was being asked.  Can’t a girl breathe a little?  Maybe soak it all up for a couple days?  Lesson learned – if one of your friends just got engaged, let them breathe a little bit and then ease it in.  I, am of course at fault for doing this at times, and it is merely from an excitement stance.  Therefore, I apologize!  

Next, the wedding planning starts.  Literally once you pick the time of year you want, or the location you’d like to have it… the rush to lock in your date at the venue of choice is SO important.  It’s funny because Tom was actually getting frustrated with me because I was pushing to get this done first, and to get it out of the way.  He soon realized why this was the case.  Places book up FAST!  Things to also take into consideration is if your family or your fiance’s location.  Will you pick a destination location?  Or will you pick a location that is accessible for both sides of the family to attend?  Do you want a big wedding?  Or small and intimate?  In this case we wanted a small intimate wedding.  Big weddings become a blur.  Sure, my parents had a 400 person wedding.  But do you think they remember anything of the reception?  Probably not.  Do you think they knew everyone there?  Definitely not.  We are not a fan of having a wedding where your mom and dad invite their colleagues, friends, coworkers, executives, 25th cousins etc….   Why do these people need to be there?  Obviously for the parents or whomever to flaunt their stuff.  Again, not our style.  We decided to keep it small.  We wanted to remember and cherish every person and situation that happens on our day.  

So, the other dreaded subject and factor comes up… Finances.  Dear goodness this one is a killer.  In the bad way, not the good way.  This determines everything.  Literally…  How much can you afford by the time your wedding day comes around?  How much can you save?  Will you have help?  IF you have help, will that person make demands?  If you have demands from parents, how do you handle them?  This is the major kicker.  This is what could make me want to take a shot of gin – and I despise, gin with a deep passion.  But no, I haven’t.  Here’s what happened to us.  We decided to keep ours low-key (or try to), low-cost, and small.  We basically have been planning it like we are to pay for everything.

A couple family members pitch in – Tom’s side helped and they said here you  go towards the wedding.  No requests, suggestions, or anything.  They are quite experienced with the wedding deal having three children married, and two of the three having children now!  So, we are so lucky that Tom’s side of the family has been so laid back and understanding of everything.  Fast forward two months.  On my side, a family member whom I will not name, gave us a contribution to our wedding.  Upon receiving it, that VERY moment, I of course said thank you at least a dozen times, but also asked if there was anything specific this was to go towards.  Venue? Dress? Decorations? Photographer?  This person said, no there is nothing specific.  You can do what you would like with it.  This person said this multiple times because I asked multiple times to be sure.  I was hesitant because I had a gut feeling there was a hidden agenda.  Something in me said that this is not going to end well.  Granted, at that point, you are torn between 1. this is generous and would help a ton. and 2. something bad is going to happen.  We decided to go with number 1 since I asked probably 10 times – are you sure? There were absolutely NO ties to what we were receiving, otherwise, we wouldn’t have accepted it.  

Fast forward THREE months.  By now, we had already picked out our location, venue, photographer, ordered the dress, made our guest list, created our wedding website and our invitations.  I receive an email DEMANDING that 1.  I have to invite 15+ people, most of whom I never see, or haven’t since I was 12, 2. our chosen officiant should not be our officiant (basically because of a personal vendetta and bitterness), and 3.  that my sisters NEED to be my bridesmaids and I am “wrong if I don’t do it”.  Oh and the best part… ‘IF I choose to disregard the above information, the check needs to be in my hands by the end of this week.’  Please note, it was Wednesday. I read this email and of course my first reaction was PISSED.  Many, many thoughts were running through my head, many of which were inappropriate words which I will not state for good reason. As I eventually calmed down, and consulted a few people I hold very close and dear to me, I came to the conclusion that is this: if we were to have known that there were any terms to the money given, we would NOT have accepted it.  We accepted based on the the terms at the time.  Threats are not accepted.  Usually this doesn’t go over well with most people.   

I spent many hours, days, weeks trying to figure out how I could try to meet everyone in the middle.  Also in the midst of the chaos, I’ve noticed my craving for french fries, cookies, ice cream, wine and pasta increase TONS!  How could I work things out so that at least there was some effort on my part to please them?  I tried, I really did.  But every single time I did, something else was requested, or not good enough or someone else was upset about something or another.  It started to feel like an endless cycle of failures, and disappointments. I realized that nothing I could do could make it exactly right for anyone.  Literally.  You could call this giving up, sure.  You could say I said ‘F it’.  While I didn’t make such a dramatic, prominent announcement in my  effort to change the way I was dealing with everything… I just kind of did everything how we would like it.  We want it to be our day, right?  It’s not a family friends day that I knew back when I was 12, it’s not my tennis coaches day from my middle and high school days, it’s not my 5th cousin’s day, or my mother’s day – it’s ours.  That’s it, right?  Ha, if only it was this simple.  Easier said than done of course. 

All in all, we want to make this celebration a day to remember, and specific to us.  EVERYONE has an opinion, and an idea of how it ‘should be’ done.  Parents will be excited, and wanting to plan things how they would like.  It is true, it is a big day for them as well.  But all in all, what matters most?  I can tell you what everyone says to me.  It is your day, make it about you both.  In the end, the most important thing is the marriage between two people, and two families coming together to become one. 


I’m still craving french fries, noodles and chinese food.  Darn it. 



Wedding Preparation and Planning is FUN!! Said NO ONE EVER.

Ahhhh dreaded wedding day preparation!  This includes weight loss, buying all of the right props, signs, programs, flowers, decorations, accessories, hair, make-up and the list goes on. It seems to add up very very quickly.  The main thing for me is the weight loss deal.   I go back and fourth on this…

On one hand, I know I will be photographed a lot and of course you want to be in great shape for them.  On the other, I am who I am and that’s all there is to it.  I am doing my best to eat healthier in general of course, primarily for my diabetes.  Eating more veggies, lean proteins, soups, are all very important to me.  Of course, doing my best to steer away from the sweets, carbs etc.  I think I will also stop drinking anything alcoholic as well.  Might as well, right?  

Anyway, I find that all of the little things are starting to add up more and more.  After wedding dress, bridal shower dress, shoes, hair pins, bracelets, necklaces, earrings etc.  GEEZ!!  

Keeping my portions small, working out four times a week, and stretching as much as I can.   I suppose I can only do so much.  Sometimes it’s discouraging.. and sometimes I don’t care enough to take it a step towards extreme.  It depends on the day….

Lastly, I apologize for not getting more recipes out.  I haven’t been cooking as much since I’ve been eating so much less, and more simply.  I’ll get some out there soon… 


Stay tuned. 

Diet & Exercise Crucial Combo

Diabetes – Check-in, Gympact App, Diet, Exercise, A1C Result

Well hello! I know I haven’t been posting many recipes lately, and I do apologize for that. I have been changing my diet, exercise schedule and attitude about everything. Not to mention, getting the lab tests done for my Diabetes!

As you know, I was a bit worried about the last a1c reading I had which was a little above 7. I decided I needed to change to improve this number. The doctors also told me that in order to have kids in the future, my a1c needs to be below 6. I’m not going to lie, this freaked me out a bit. So I switched things up for the better and saw a huge difference!

Fruits & Veggies - All Day!

Diet – Veggie Up!

I have been cutting down a lot of foods I eat and sticking to tons of veggies and a small amount of protein. I’ve also been on a huge seafood kick lately – for some reason, I feel better eating seafood than I do when I eat chicken, pork, or beef. That doesn’t mean that I don’t like it, my gut just feels better when I don’t!

We have also been extremely busy in preparation for the wedding… and oddly enough, I have lost some of my appetite due to stress. Fear not, of course, I am still definitely eating! Making more veggie/fruit smoothies for morning – not juicing – but smoothies, to make sure I get all the fiber, vitamins and minerals from the meat of them. I attempted the all smoothie diet for a couple days and that didn’t go over so well. All in all, I’ve made it a point to eat tons more veggies – specifically via smoothies and simple soups.


Exercise – 30-Minute-Minimum – Gympact

I’ve also increased exercise. I downloaded this app called Gympact. This is an interesting app. Basically you set a goal whether it is to work out 2-7 days a week (minimum 30 min workout, double days do not count), or eat more veggies. Every time you reach your goal, you MAKE MONEY. Granted, it’s not a lot, it may be $1 or $2, but hey it’s better than nothing! IF you MISS a day after week’s end (Monday through Sunday range), you will be CHARGED MONEY. This value can be changed such as $5, $10, $50 etc. You have the option to take a break if you’d like as well. So, if you’re sick, on vacation, injured etc., you can pause your regime on the app. So far, my goal is 4 days a week at the gym.

My personal goal is do at least 30 minutes of cardio at the gym, and then 30 minutes of weight lifting. I am seeing a HUGE difference with the combo. Cardio immediately decreases the blood sugar, whereas lifting weights is more of a prolonged decrease over time (2-4 hours). Not only have my blood sugars been so much better, but my energy is much better throughout the day!


Lab tests were done on Monday, July 21st. The results came back Tuesday. What was my a1c? 6.2!! My average blood sugar has been 131. It is so relieving to know that the hard work pays off. Lab results don’t lie (usually). I’ve got to remember to keep this up and to strive for the next goal… I would like to see my average lower, so this is what I’m striving for – 5.8 a1c.

I’m excited about the progress I’ve achieved thus far and am ready for the next goal! Let’s do this!


A darn good spot for good food, good beers, and a good view!

Taps located in Petaluma. This is a good brewery with delicious food! Definitely not your average brewery with pub food. A wide variety of beers on tap with delicious, quality food. We had the salt & pepper wings which are awesome. I am a sucker for chicken wings, and salt and pepper. Winning!

We split the chuckwagon burger – bison, pork belly, hush puppy strings and mustard BBQ sauce (which I am now determined to learn how to make). Let me just say, Wow! Not too greasy, and you can taste every ingredient with every bite!

For drinks I had the spiced chai cider made by Schilling. That in itself is dessert! I’m always one to order a beer but wow this cider was too good. The kind that is not too sweet, bubbly, a little bit of a bite, and the hint of spice. Yum. I will be back for this!!

So if you’re in the north bay, coming back from wine country, or looking for a good spot to stop for lunch or dinner, check it out! You won’t go wrong.



My new snack addiction…

Ok.. Snacking isn’t always bad but I LOVE chips. I love the saltiness and the crunch – yes, I plead guilty. Recently we went to Costco (we love that place) and found these chips made from chickpea flour. We didn’t open them for a week or so and when we did – we nearly ate the entire bag!!!!! Gluten free, vegan, dairy free, lightly salted… Done and done. Try them. Get them. But beware… You might get addicted to them too!!