Stools & more

After Morton’s this evening, we went to Marina Square and I added another ceramic stool to my collection! I think I’m slightly obsessed with these stools or just chairs in general but, I don’t have a lot of surface area in my house! HJ knows me best – every now and then, I get into a “mood” and feel like decorating the house all over again. Today was one of those days…

  • Left: newest addition that is now in my master toilet from LIM’S
  • Top right: this is the smallest one for Nat’s basket of shoes from LUSH
  • Bottom right: for more of Nat’s toys and/or to put drinks from Taylor B

And… I’m already thinking how to fit more in my balcony!

So as I look back rather fondly on my decor journey, I decided to snap a few photos of the living area for documentation purposes. Who knows, things may get messier as Nat accumulates more things.

  • Sofa – from DONE by Modus Natura. It came in a set with a single-seater but that’s in Nat’s nursery. Now the sofa has a throw lining the seating area because Nat keeps climbing up and down and may scratch it in the process.
  • Rattan chairs – these were meant for the balcony but we put them here as they can’t be exposed to the harsh elements outside. They were literally from a van that sets up shop around Toa Payoh and/or Ang Mo Kio so it was by pure chance that my mom and sis came across them. They are my fave part of the living because rattan chairs like these are a dying trade.
  • Frames – the posters were ordered from Etsy because they’re our 3 favorite cities as of 2016 (London, Berlin and Prague). Japan, our current favorite country isn’t represented on our walls [yet] but … it will be in the works soon.

This area is opposite our sofa and it is usually designated as a TV wall for most people but we don’t have a TV (yes… we binge on Netflix on our laptops).

As such, we placed a display/book shelf from Scanteak and next to it is what I call a “scoop chair”. It’s another sign of my chair obsession because it was meant to be for HJ to wear his shoes but there’s no space near the door so it is now next to our balcony door.

The good thing about the shelf is that it can be positioned upright (vertically) so if we need more space in the future for say a small writing table for Nat, then we have the option to change the current orientation of the shelf from its horizontal form to stand upright.

The last bit of our living area is near the entrance.

  • Shoe cabinet – this was our 2nd one from IconicHAUS because our 1st one from Scanteak had sawdust coming out of it after a few months! So it was very tough trying to find a replacement with a similar wood shade that can match everything else but thankfully we did.
  • Mirror – it looks black here but it’s actually a dark metallic bronze finish from Crate & Barrel. I’m ashamed to say that this is the most dangerous and not child-friendly furniture because we have yet to secure it to the wall. It’s held in place by stoppers on the ground but… I know we have to get it fixed to the wall soon (before Nat becomes even more active and crashes into it).

So that’s just a snippet of our living room. I think it’s quite obvious by now that I am not a fan of build-in fixtures because I like to have the flexibility. This meant that most of the items had to be sourced and purchased individually from a variety of places.

The overall style I had in mind was a blend of modern and eclectic. In terms of colour, we stuck to 3 main colours of black (furniture), grey (curtains) and shades of white (walls) with woody accents (more furniture pieces). So every room will also have these similar shades/elements. Finally, the eclectic parts are featured mostly via the accessories.

Up next… I’ll continue to mull over my balcony, which is always seems to be a work in progress!


Week 1 of 2018

How apt… and quite funny too but yes, it pretty much sums up how it feels to have completed the first week of a new year. I regret not piling up my stash of Somersby or Kronenbourg the last time we were at Changi duty free. Every work day this week ended after 6pm but I don’t mind. I actually prefer work to the chaos beyond the office. Then on some days, I’m just tired of mom-ing. I don’t think I do very much, but even the little I have to do, feels tiring.

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-07 at 8.20.50 PM.jpeg

2018 is the year that I have to seriously think about where I would like to get posted to in 2019, which is also dependent on what’s available for me. Throughout my entire career (since 2012), things were pretty much decided for me i.e. being posted to my first school and then to HQ. I simply went with the flow and made some smaller decisions along the way.

This year is different in the sense that I have to first know what I want for my career plans and then, pursue it. To be honest, all I can think of is running away to Japan, or London or Germany (my favourite places), for another vacation… because sometimes, I am so avoidant, I just want to escape and delay the inevitable. Sadly, I can’t.

On the home front, some days it feels more tiring than the work front and I can’t see beyond the week as far as Nat is concerned. Okay, maybe the month because I know when is his PD check-up next month.

There was one day, HJ, feeling really exhausted, looked at Nat and asked me, is this all worth it? (A bit late right hahaha) but yes, despite how tired it may be, I would not have it any other way.

It also reminded me that since Nat is our gift from God, we are but stewards of him on this earth i.e. it’s our responsibility to take care of him until the day comes where either of us will be called back to heaven. So that certainly puts things into perspective, esp. on those days when we just don’t feel like being parents.

Yet, some part of me does miss the freedom and the ability to do whatever I wanted without having to trouble my mom to take care of Nat if need be.

So I guess like the picture says, I have to just continue winging it… for the rest of the year.

Balcony Safety

So after delaying for a year, we’re finally ready to install invisible grilles to our balcony. Last year, we didn’t feel the need to do it yet because Nat was a newborn and we were just coping after confinement ended. Now, our boy is 13 months old and wants to climb everything. We currently don’t let him play unsupervised on the balcony but I would like him to be able to roam and play there. So, the inevitable is going to happen.

We went back to Legate to get a free quotation. They did the invisible grilles for some of our neighbours and also came to our place in 2016 to give a free quotation then.

Currently, I am probably going to go with the Premium A+ 316 stainless steel grilles from Korea (with 5 years warranty).

We’ve just started the process so if everything works out, this would hopefully be completed before the end of the year.

It took us one year because we really did not want to have stainless steel cords blocking our balcony night view of the skyline.

THIS is the to-die-for unobstructed view that we have because we’re on the 20th floor. Nothing is more calming than enjoying the breeze and watching this at night.

We also told ourselves that we can keep the balcony door locked when Nat is crawling/waking around the living room. There are also adults around who can supervise and ensure that he does not venture out into the balcony.

Yet, we decided that it’s still safer to intervene and tweak the structural surrounding than depend 100% on adult supervision. I’ve learnt that we all have slips from time to time – turn away for a few seconds and baby falls off the bed. This has happened at least twice since Nat was 6 months old. Despite knowing that one should not to leave baby unattended at all times, I’m sure this isn’t upheld every second. Sometimes, someone can be sitting just behind Nat and watching over him but somehow he can fall backwards in a split second and hit his head in the floor?

So yes, I am willing to spend approx. $1500 to “encase” my balcony, in an aesthetically-pleasing way, such that no toddler or animal (my family dog, Cookie) can fall from the 20th floor and for a peace of mind.

On a side note, Legate has an array of products to offer – grilles, blinds, windows and even artificial turf carpets.

I explored adding an artificial turf to our balcony for Nat to play there but have decided not to because installing the invisible grilles is the more urgent task.

Sigh. A kid really does change how one thinks about things.

$1500 can buy me a new Apple laptop? That’s how much our Japan air tickets costs for 2 people.

But, safety first.

– CK


One day, HJ said to me that he thinks Nat isn’t crawling enough i.e. I “protect” him too much because I don’t want him to knock his head. So I tried to find out about the crawling and whether it is really that crucial? There’s of course two sides to the coin on this. Some experts will attest to the importance of crawling while others say that skipping it altogether is no issue. Choosing to err on the side of my usual caution, I decided to let Nat have more floor/crawling time daily.

This article presents both sides to the issue but, “no matter where experts stand on the crawling issue, one point they all agree on is the importance of tummy time”. 

Previously, before we shifted out his playpen, Nat had a lot of tummy time on the play-mat. So we decided to take out the play-mat again but open it in Nat’s room instead since the playpen is occupying the living room. This way, he will get his individual playpen time and also some floor time.

I guess HJ was right in the sense that my mom and I are too “protective” of Nat because he had already fallen off the bed twice – once when he was 6 months and the most recent time was when he turned 9 months. So we’re really paranoid about letting him crawl on the concrete floor. At least, with the play-mat, there is some cushioning should be fall and hit his head. Last time, we all just crawled on whatever type of flooring there was in our homes. Nowadays, I can’t help but notice that we tend to be more anxious about potential injuries and baby-proofing our homes when our parents were not so uptight about them when we were babies/toddlers.

– CK

Mouth Injuries 

Yup… besides rolling off the bed once, Nat recently also knocked his mouth/gum against a table top (ouch!) when we were out. Thankfully, it was nothing serious and he recovered after like a minute. Then I went to google and realized there’s quite a number of things to look out for when it comes to baby safety – especially now that Nat can sit, crawl and hoist himself up. This absolutely charming boy is also very mischievous and dangerous!

So related to mouth injuries in babies, besides keeping them away from sharp/hard edges, ensuring they don’t crawl or run with a toy in the mouth is another thing. As it is, I ensure that only soft items are inside Nat’s playpen when he’s sitting inside and playing alone.

If the inevitable happens, which is a knock/fall and there’s some blood, the same first aid rules apply -> use a cold wet towel or if not available, a wet-one and put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding. Should bleeding persist after 5-10min, it would warrant a trip to the Doc and especially so if cut is a big one. As much as we would want to pry open their mouths to examine the inside, doing so may spilt open the wound and cause bleeding to continue so that’s another thing to take note.

Cot-wise: We have lowered the platform to the lowest so that he doesn’t hoist himself up and over. He probably doesn’t have the strength yet but we also don’t want to take any risks. As it is, his cot bumpers are quite useless because he will pull them down and keep knocking his head. It doesn’t hurt at all and we always joke that it’s because he has his father’s skull – big, hard and relatively numb to pain.

Having his playpen out in the living room is the best arrangement we have thus far because every part of it is so soft so whatever monkey antics Nat gets up to doesn’t result in any physical injuries.

Anyhow, like HJ said, some accidents are bound to happen and we can’t protect him from everything. He has to learn certain painful consequences of his actions but I guess I’ll still try to reduce the likelihood of such things happening.

– CK

Baby Furniture Rearrangments

Ever since Nat started sitting up and getting on his fours, we decided to shift around his furniture. As such, his playpen is now in our living room (-.-) while his playmat is now at my mom’s place. His crib is still in our room but soon…… we’re going to move it into his room. I’m prepared to move him this weekend but HJ would like him to snooze in our room for a while longer haha so maybe, we’ll experiment around 8-9 months?

So the main impetus for this is that Nat is rarely on his tummy nowadays, he’s always either sitting up or on his fours trying to crawl.

Moreover, since he’s over at my mom’s place 3 days a week, we decided to just leave his playmat there permanently. Then on the days he’s at home, he’ll be playing in his playpen or on our beds.

The perks to this arrangement is as such:

  1. Safety – The playpen is a much safer alternative compared to our beds or the playmat because if he loses balance and falls forward or backwards, he’s already on the playpen mattress. This was the mattress that Nat used to sleep on when he was between 1-5 months before we lowered it.
  2. Convenience – We can still see what he’s doing inside the playpen when we are at the dining area or kitchen. Then when our helper takes in the clothes to fold, she also does it on the sofa so someone is always looking out for him at any one time. Then when it’s time to read his books, we just lift him out of the playpen as the sofa and rattan chairs are all located next to it.
  3. Dog-friendly – Previously, with the playmat, we had to fold and keep it whenever Cookie came for fear that she may mistake it as her pee pad, which she conveniently picked her toilet to be smack infront of my living room display shelf. Now, with this playpen, Nat can still have his playtime while the dog is freely roaming about so both of them can do their own things concurrently.

The downside to this arrangement is…

  1. Clutter – Our living room floor space now has a playpen smack in the middle. Though it has wheels, there’s only so much place left to wheel it aside.
  2. Empty nursery – Nat’s crib being in our master bedroom while his playpen is now outside in the living room means that his diaper trolley is also occupying a corner of our room. Thankfully there’s ample room to walk from our bed to the toilet after fitting in his crib, diaper trolley and a stool. On the other hand, there is a blank space in his room, which is meant for his crib. Hopefully we can move him out soon (say at 9 months?)


Sigh… it’s like the balance between baby-related necessities and household decor is a tough one to maintain. Previously when deciding on any household items, it was always form vs function. Now, it’s form vs function vs baby haha!

Originally,  I was prepared to shift him out this Friday (always experiment when the next day isn’t a work day!) but HJ read some articles about how it is recommended for baby to sleep in the same room for the first year. So now, I guess 3 of us will be stuck in the same room for the next few months.

I mean the biggest perk of having his crib next to us is that if Nat were to suddenly wake up at 5/530am, soothing him back to sleep is much easier compared to if we had to walk out into the adjacent room. However, I think there is merit to having Nat sleep on his own. Who knows? Maybe after a few minutes of fussing on his own, he can fall back to sleep again. Currently, we have to fight the urge to sooth him the moment he cries because if left on his own for 1-2 minutes more, we notice that he actually just goes back to sleep.

To date, we are still trying to be consistent in upholding the following when it comes to nap/bedtime:

  1. Minimal assistance in helping him sleep i.e. let him fuss for 10 minutes or so, which further tires himself out so he’s really on the verge of sleeping
  2. If we have to intervene, keep patting to approx. 5 minutes such that he is drowsy but still awake so he can fall asleep on his own

It’s hard, because it’s so much easier and faster to just pat him until he’s 100% asleep but no, the ‘struggle’ for them to fall asleep without much help from us is a necessity.

– CK

Weekly Adjustments 

Sometimes I feel that my part-time arrangement requires more adjustment? Weeks are divided into 2 and I find myself having to recover from a long weekend syndrome every week. Then I read this article on mom’s returning to work and I guess the main takeaway is – “it’s important to remember sometimes you just can’t do it all, and that’s okay.” 

Things at work will never be the same as they were before Nat. There’s a new office, new colleagues, new pieces of work and my new work arrangement. 

Things at home will also never be the same as they were while I was on leave – I was at home daily and everything related to Nat (his feeding/sleeping/waketime schedules) was managed by me. 

This was probably why in the first 1-2 weeks, it felt like I didn’t much control over things and that made me want to control even more. In particular, Nat’s daytime naps because if not structured properly, his nighttime sleep may be affected. 

This made is quite difficult for my mom and helper too because they were the main caretakers on the days I’m at the office but I found it impossible to just let go 100% because once it’s 7pm, we are the ones that go home with Nat and take over from there. 

In the end, we arrived at a consensus to monitor/structure it such that he doesn’t nap longer than 4 hours. Technically, babies around Nat’s age (7 months) need around 3 hours of naps but in view of how he has greater sleep needs, we’ll use 3-4 hours as a gauge. 

Anyhow, back to the weekly ‘bipolar’ struggle. It’s getting better but still feels strange. Maybe it’s just me. Every Friday I hit a low because I know that it will be 4 days before I go back to office. Then I want Mondays and Tuesdays to pass by faster so that I can get out of the house. 

To be honest, there’s also not much guilt, which the article points out that more often than not, it’s self-imposed. In fact, there’s no reason why there should be any guilt. Some people prefer to stay home but others, would rather not. I guess I am more like the latter. 

– CK 

Finding THE Playmat

I’ve put this on the back burner for weeks… whether we should get a rug, mattress or playmat. Then after hours of research coupled with a lucky find over the weekend, we found the perfect playmat for Nat (and our home) – the PE Parklon Folding Mat. It’s thin but firm enough and best of all, it can be folded and kept away!

So the discussion whether to get a playmat was reopened after Nat started flipping almost everywhere – on our bed, the sofa, his crib. The safest place for him to do all his antics was the floor but we only had a small quilt-like cushion for him to lie on.

We went back and forth with the options below but each had its own issues.

  1. Old school mattress: This was the surface that HJ and I learnt how to crawl. In those days, there weren’t all these fancy playmats. It was either the good old mattress or the floor.
  2. Comforter/quilt: My mom has a spare quilt that we could let Nat lie on or do tummy time. However, while it is fluffy, it’s not firm enough to cushion any impact should his head hit the floor.
  3. ‘Permanent’ Playmats: These range from those puzzle pieces to one-piece mats. I was looking at Parklon Bumper Mats from small small world’s estore. However, my main gripe with these mats is that they tend to become quite ‘permanent’ in the living room. If one is okay with that or intends for that to happen, then no issue there but… I really don’t want to have Nat’s playmat left permanently in our living room. No doubt the Parklon Bumper Mat can be folded and kept in a carrier bag but I rather not keep doing that because it may end up having crease lines after repeated folding. I also don’t think it’s meant to be folded too frequently. Cost-wise, I was really reluctant to spend $120++ on a playmat.

So we were stuck until I found the foldable version of the bumper mat – sold on smallsmallworld and Agapebabies. At less than $90 (before discount), it is more affordable vis-a-vis its bumper mat cousin. We were also very lucky because there was a 15% promotion of all Parklon mats last weekend so that was when I decided it was the right purchase. Material wise, the foldable one differs from its bumper mat cousin as it is made out of PE vs. PVC, but both of which are safe and non-toxic for babies/toddlers so PE or PVC didn’t really bother me.

From Agape Babies


The mat comes with a bag and can be kept neatly (above pic) when folded. Actually, I didn’t think we had much choice because it was the only playmat that met all my criteria:

  1. It’s thin yet firm enough to cushion any impact even though it’s only 8mm in thickness. The other bumper playmats range from 10mm to 15mm but a difference of 2-5mm didn’t really bother us because it’s mm and not cm.
  2. It is not meant for heavy usage (the description of the mat also states this) and is supposed to be folded. This sealed the deal for me! Nat is usually having his reading/tummy/play time 2-3x a day at most so it doesn’t need to be open at night after we wash him up and put him down to sleep. I also bring my mom’s dog over on weekday afternoons so even if she’s toilet trained to do her business on her pee pad, there’s no way I want to risk having a carpet/rug/playmat permanently laid out in the living room for fear of pee/poop accidents.
  3. The top surface is strangely flat/smooth and not embossed, unlike its bumber mat cousin so cleaning is very straightforward. Note: the design of the foldable mat is one-sided whereas the bumper mat has two-sides. It being one-sided was fine with us because if the under-side is going to come into frequent contact with the floor, we won’t want to flip it so often either.
  4. I love the design – okay, this has nothing to do with its functionality or price but really just my personal preference. It’s subtle, not too ‘kiddy’ and doesn’t clash with my living room decor/furniture. Coincidentally, Nat also has quite a few ‘twinkle star’ items such as his carrier and onesies so now he has a ‘twinkle star’ mat 🙂

Now, we can literally see how our decision to not have 1) a coffee table and 2) a TV are the two best decor-decisions we’ve made with regard to our home. The lack of a coffee table allows us to have the whole living room space for Nat’s mat amongst other things without having to shift anything away. It also provides ample space at night to do our circuit workouts/stretches. As for the TV, I think we’re quite happy as Netflix junkies and do not want Nat getting distracted with screen time.

So this finally concludes the playmat issue!

– CK

Baby Room Reorientation 

So this happened because we were all worried about Nat potentially flipping and going over the higher platform of the playpen at night. The mattress on the floor idea was thrown out the window the moment we saw a cockroach yesterday. So HJ came up with the idea to swap the cot and playpen, at least this way Nat will sleep safely in his cot in our room and we still have the playpen in Nat’s room to change his diapers/clothes and for him to nap in the mornings.

This is the best we can do within the space constraints of the nursery. 

Playpen – currently used to change his diapers/clothes on the platform. We’ll eventually lower the platform for Nat to play inside. 

Diaper trolley – I insisted that even if the cot was coming to our room, there was no way the diaper trolley was entering our room as well so thankfully it still serves its purpose next to the playpen. 

Feeding chair – This huge piece of furniture, that was part of my living room sofa set but can’t fit in our living room is most frequently used by HJ to do the 630am wake-up feed. When Nat was a newborn, this was also where HJ read his Winston Churchill book to Nat, of which it always made the latter fall asleep. Some nights I also hide in the nursery and watch my online shows on this chair so we’ll definitely be keeping this here for as long as possible. 

Side table – Currently housing Nat’s night lamp, bottle warmer and basket of wet ones (kept in the shelves of the side table). Eventually we’ll move the wet ones someplace else and keep Nat’s toys there so it is within reach for him. 

Bookshelf – My favorite part of Nat’s room that contains his books and other miscellaneous items such as his medication box and memorabilia box for cards and such. 

The current downsides to this new arrangement that needs some adjustment is… 

1) I need to walk a bit more and avoid the corner of the cot before I reach the toilet. 

2) If Nat needs to be patted/soothed to sleep, we may have to stand and do it whereas previously I could sit on my small rattan chair next to his playpen, which was shorter/smaller. 

The main pro? 

1) The side of the cot can be adjusted upwards so he can’t fling himself over. In the picture above, the side is up.

Good news is today is night 1 of this new arrangement and Nat was able to fall asleep in his cot with no big issue.We’ll see how the rest of the night turns out. 


– CK 

Shoe Woes No More

So after what was a very intense weekend, our termite/shoe woes are over! 🙂

It was extremely tough trying to find a shoe cabinet that met all our criteria.

  • Height: more than 100cm (my previous one was approx. 1.2m)
  • Length: maximum 100cm (my previous one was approx. 90cm)
  • Colour: teak and walnut only (to match my existing furniture)
  • Design: need to have doors & shelves that are adjustable and base should not come into contact with the floor (so I can clean underneath it)
  • Price: not more than SGD$900

The reason for such restrictions is because I have a 1.9m mirror to the left and a shorter display shelf to the right so if the shoe cabinet is too short and/or narrow, everything would be out of proportion.

Below is the list of places that I went with my mom within a span of two days to find the right cabinet.

  1. Teak Avenue:
  2. Mountain Teak:
  3. Ethnicraft:
  4. Wihardja:
  5. Picket & Rail:
  6. Tropicana Living @ Thomson Plaza
  7. Crate & Barrel @ ION Orchard
  8. Home & Giving @ Star Vista

However, most of the places had cabinets that only met some of our criteria. Almost everywhere had really nice sideboards/consoles or display cabinets but those were not what I needed. I guess nowadays most people have built-in shelves and cabinets to store their shoes whereas I belong to the “no built-in” camp haha

We finally found THE ONE at Iconic Haus, the place where I purchased my dining table set last year. Gigi, the person who served us was very helpful. Before going down, I called to enquire if they had any shoe cabinets and if they did, I requested if she could snap some pictures to show me as opposed to making a wasted trip down. The moment I saw the photo she sent, I knew that there was a 90% chance that it could be THE ONE!

In the end, ordering a brand new one (SGD$942.20), would be delivered only in end-March whereas if I took the display piece, I’ll enjoy a 10% discount and they would be able to deliver before CNY! I had no issues with this as the display piece was in v good condition. Here it is 🙂

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It comes with a top drawer and a display shelf that is currently sparsely populated with rabbits. Nevertheless, am just glad it is in time for CNY because my Dad was getting quite worried that our shoes were all over the living room.

– CK