Amanda Gates
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A Musings - November 2011

When I first read about Amy Chua and her book in the Wall Street Journal, I jumped on the “this woman is ca-ra-zy” bandwagon. But then, the more and more I read about her, the more I wondered if she was just misunderstood? (Or was she just acting ca-ra-zy to sell more books?) Now that I’ve read the book, well, I’m still conflicted in my feelings.

When she says that accepting the best from your children is the only way a parent should behave, well, that makes sense. When she says that people don’t get good at things without practicing, that makes sense, too. She made me think that yes, maybe we Western parents do coddle our children a bit. Maybe we do make them feel entitled. Maybe they do become more disrespectful or rude. Or, by not making them practice, by not expecting the best grades through rigorous homework schedules, by instead letting them make their own choices, we’re in fact being lazy parents. Hmmm.

However, there are other times when I can’t believe the words she’s writing down. Sometimes they’re so out of this world, I laughed assuming she was joking (“Playing the drums will lead to drugs.”), but I’m not so sure she is. For example, this is what she says about her dogs, yes, her DOGS:

“My dogs can’t do anything—and what a relief. I don’t make any demands of them, and I don’t try to shape them or their future. For the most part, I trust them to make the right choices for themselves. I always look forward to seeing them and I love watching them sleep. What a great relationship.”

That’s how many Western parents feel about their children - trusting them to make choices and looking forward to seeing them.

And the fact that she spent the weekends driving her child two hours to and from New York City for a one-hour violin lesson? Um, no. What the heck was she doing for herself? But then, she doesn’t believe parents should do much for themselves, I don’t think. She’s not “getting pedicures or massages,” and seemed to judge those of us who do. But, she also seemed run a little ragged; I think she could use a good massage every now and then.

When it came to practicing piano, my own mom was a bit of a Tiger Mother. While I wouldn’t have to sit there and practice for five hours a day (and I could still go on sleepovers), there are many, many times during the first 5-6 years where I would sit at the bench for hours refusing to practice and she would yell and yell at me. She would slam doors. She would stomp around. For some reason, to her, piano was very important. However, one day she was so mad she slammed her hand against the wall. She sprained and bruised her thumb. That was the day, she told me later, when she realized it wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it to our relationship or my wellbeing. She rarely yelled at me after that and she let me quit having to do the recitals (my stage fright was nearly immobilizing). She switched me to a more laid-back teacher. And I kept taking piano lessons for 5 more years. And then she let me quit. And to this day, even if I can’t play very well anymore, I don’t regret quitting (or taking lessons, for that matter). And later when I started band playing the flute, she never pushed me to practice – I practiced for me. And the flute was my choice. I stayed in band for six years and enjoyed nearly every minute.

I’m glad that Chua had her younger daughter Lulu to throw her for a bit of a loop. If both her children accepted their fate like her older daughter Sophia did, Chua would be singing the praises of Chinese parenting as loud as she could. I appreciated her struggles with her younger daughter. I still think she went too far, refusing meals and sleep until practice was done, but at least she learned different children respond to different parenting methods.

In the end, it was a good book. She’s humorous, sarcastic (I think) and a good storyteller. I got great insight into another way to parent. And while I don’t agree with very many of her methods, I do think both sides can learn a bit from each other.

Posted: Wed, 11/23/2011 - 09:49 |

(Disclosure: Tiny Prints has offered me 50 holiday cards for writing about their collection of cards.)

I first came across Tiny Prints right before Father’s Day. Another site I read, Money Saving Mom, alerted its readers to a free Father’s Day card from Tiny Prints. A Father’s Day card that could be personalized with a picture of his little boy? Um, yes, my husband would love that. And you know who else would, too? My dad. I perused the Tiny Prints website and the designs were darling. Nothing cheesy, nothing kitschy, just super cute. I created my cards and they were mailed to me within days. I was so excited to give them to my husband and my dad; and they loved them!

Well, here comes Christmas, and honestly, I’m not one to send out Christmas cards. Not at all. However, I got to perusing Tiny Prints again and fell in love with the Christmas card designs. Once again, they're unique yet classic feeling. I like those with multiple photos and ones that don’t overuse (or use at all) red and green. I've included a couple of my favorites.


Which do you like best? And, seriously, where do they find such adorable families to be on their cards? We're pretty cute over here, if you ever need more models!


Do you send out holiday cards? Do you like getting holiday cards in the mail? (I love getting them and put them up on the fridge!)




Posted: Fri, 11/11/2011 - 15:14 | Comments: 2

WARNING: This post may contain spoilers, because, frankly, I’m like FIVE years behind the rest of the world here. If you're even more behind than me, don't read.

I finally finished Mad Men, or at least I’m all caught up. It took about three months of watching three episodes on some nights and catching one during naptime here and there. I have some feelings about the show, but the feelings I had at the beginning definitely weakened by the end.

The Sexism: This was the most jarring issue when I first started watching the show. I seriously almost turned it off for good. I could not believe the disgusting behavior of these men. When one guy, during a company party, chases a secretary around the office to then tackle her and see the color of her underwear? Are you kidding? Puke. But, I became desensitized or something because by the end of season 4, that stuff rarely bothered me anymore. But thinking that’s what women went through in the workplace back then? How frightening.

Pete Campbell: I hate that guy. That’s all.

Joan Harris: Love. Her clothes, her hair, her voice, her personality. Love.

Betty Draper: She’s a special kind of psycho, isn’t she? At first I felt bad for her, stuck in that house with those kids all day while her husband gallivants around. Of course she’s lonely! Of course she’s depressed! But, now, I just think she’s psycho. I see a Don/Betty reunion of some form in the future, too, with the way Season 4 ended.

The kids: Should we look more closely at kids who were born in the 50s and 60s to these parents? How are they even normal today? With the smoking and drinking during pregnancy. Being completely ignored most of the time. Being smacked. Left alone in the house sleeping while their parents go next door. Wow.

Colin Hanks: He played a very small role in only a few episodes, but I really enjoyed him as the priest. It’s amazing how similar he is to his dad. The head tilts and the mannerisms are uncanny.

Peggy Olson: I have mixed feelings about Peggy, too. I like her for the most part, but I think she feels entitled to more than she really is. And seriously, how can she work with and even look at Pete? She seems to have more emotion over some things (a campaign, her job) than she does about others (a baby, her relationships). I guess she fits in with “the boys” that way.

Don Draper: Now to the star of the show. I have complex feelings about Don, but then, he’s a complex fellow, with his split life. Don is not a good husband. I’m still trying to figure out why he’s so unfaithful. Is it because of his past life? Because, when he first met Betty, as we saw through flashbacks with Anna, he was a different man then. I don’t think that Don would’ve been unfaithful. However, he constantly lives a lie, so maybe continuing to lie goes with the territory?

Also, I think the flashback of how Roger and Don met explains a bit, too. It shows Don had some of his same willfulness that he does now, but it also makes me think that by spending time with Roger in his toxic environment, it made Don who he is today: a drunk, unfaithful, heartless (at times), self-involved, engaged to his secretary. They’re taking a similar path, just 20 years apart.

My friend asked me if I wondered how Don even got all those women. Because, really, what’s so freakin’ special about him? I never even gave that thought until she said something, but now I agree. He broods and barely speaks. He’s charming for all of two minutes and they fall into bed with him. Anyone he wants. And I can’t figure out why.

Jon Hamm: However, Don Draper is making think Jon Hamm is awesome. Being late to Mad Men, I was introduced to Hamm via 30 Rock and SNL and he was hilarious. So, I’m impressed he can play well two completely different roles. You see some of that in early Dick Whitman/Don Draper days – or any scene where he doesn’t slick back his hair.

I think the show is a touch slow in places, but I enjoy it and will continue to watch when the new season returns.

Posted: Mon, 11/07/2011 - 15:03 |