Travel Fever

Only a month of 2018 has gone by and I’m in need of another escape from reality. I know this mood swing will pass but I just feel the urge to do what I want, without having to consider so many things. In line with that, I can’t wait for our upcoming vacays – a short trip to Ipoh in March (w/o the kiddo) and a longer one back to Japan June (w Nat!). Yep, it’s our 1st overseas trip with him… he’ll be 19 months old and we chose Hiroshima because in my gut, Japan felt right and we’re both having withdrawals from our Japan trip in Dec 2017.

Ipoh was a recent, rather last-minute decision despite it being on my mind for weeks.

We just wanted to go somewhere nearby for a 3-day trip during the March term break.

  • Malacca was one of the choices but I don’t think I can last 4 hours on a coach.
  • Bangkok was also considered but HJ explicitly requested for a place that isn’t too chaotic and city-like.
  • I thought of Phuket, but we had gone there in 2015 so I didn’t feel like going back so soon.
  • There was just something about Ipoh – it’s history, food and the fact that it’s not as touristy as Malacca or Phuket that drew me towards it. So Ipoh it is then!

More on how I ended up deciding on Japan with Nat in another post because Netflix and supper awaits.

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Tired.

I totally LOL-ed when I saw this quote/pic on Pinterest that said, “the bags under my eyes are Prada”!? Yup, and it’s only Tuesday. I strangely feel more tired on weekends. This is a pic of me, eating ice cream and ‘hiding’ in Nat’s nursery while he was getting washed up on Sunday night. The question we both have is, why do we feel more tired when we actually get to sleep continuously from 11pm-630am??

Then I think back to the early parts of 2017, when strangely I had the energy to take care of Nat round-the-clock. I also have no idea how I managed to wake up to pump 2x a night at 1 and 4am. Those days are long gone now and yet, I’m still tired.

The culprit… is the rushing.

Every morning, we rush to work. At work, we are rushing for meetings and/or to finish up pieces of work. I’ve also not managed to leave at 530pm on the dot since Jan, so I’m rushing to wrap up things so that I can zoom back to my mom’s place for dinner and to pick Nat up. Then we rush back home to wash him up so that we can start his bedtime routine such that Nat goes to sleep by 9pm.

So the only time we’re not rushing anymore is 10pm onwards and the whole cycle begins again the next day.

It was also much easier taking care of Nat when he was a baby, under 1 year old! Toddler-hood is no joke and I know this is just the beginning.

My short-term quick fixes –

  • TEA every morning for the caffeine
  • Concealer for my eye bags
  • BRANDS Chicken Essence on some weekends to last 12 hours being Nat’s Main caretaker

I’m already tired trying to analyze why I’m tired.

Good night world!

– CK

Toddler Crib

How shall I explain this… a friend at work shared that one sleeping arrangement is to align the crib next to the bed and remove one side or fix the toddler guard so there’s still some access if night soothing is needed. I tried it. Result: it works…… but only from 9pm-5am, before our friend would crawl over me and find a nook between our bodies to continue sleeping?!

The scary but funny thing is that some nights when I wake up randomly ard 3am, I open my eyes and feel a small sense of victory when I see Nat in his crib.

Sadly, this victory is premature and short lived.

Fast forward to 6am when it’s time to wake up, I turn to my left and I see my son. In my mind I can only wonder, “how did he end up here?!”

HJ has no idea either. Basically, Nat sleep-crawls over my body to end up between us. That can be the only explanation.

Nonetheless, we’ll leave this as it is for a while more because it is better for our backs. When Nat slept on the floor, and if he woke up randomly at 4/5am, he would only be soothed back to sleep if I went down into the floor and sat/laid next to him.

To secure the crib to our bed, we lock the wheels permanently and HJ also used cable tie to attach the crib’s legs to the legs of our bed.

I guess I’ve also undergone a mindset shift? Last night, after he fell asleep on my bed, I didn’t move him to his crib. I guess I didn’t mind him sleeping next to me from the start. I had spent the night out meeting a friend for dinner and didn’t see Nat the whole day.

Like what some of my friends told me, it’s true that our kid(s) are only this age once and before you know it, they’ll be so fiercely independent, you’ll wish they didn’t grow up so fast.

So I think I’ll just (try) to embrace my son’s stickiness to us while he actually wants to be close to us.

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.

The year in summary

2017 in a grid. Let’s see.

• Took no-pay leave and spent two extra months at home with Nat

• Went on part-time scheme and worked 3-4 days per week

• Actually did some proper exercising and lost 18kg

• Attended Yoga and Pilates, something I’ve wanted to do but never got round to it

• Turned 30 years old and;

• Traveled to four countries in the second half of the year!

2018 already looks to be a really busy year…

I’ll be returning to work full-time, and would have to start finding a school where I’ll be posted to in 2019.

Nat would be one, going on two – so here comes the whole new ballgame of dealing with a toddler!

I just hope that HJ and I will be in good health so that we can do whatever we need to do for our family.

As for everything else that I’m anxious about… I know they will sort themselves out somehow.

As each year goes by, I’ve come to realise that life is indeed too short to be worried about numerous small things so in the same vein, I will try not to be ruled (so much) by fear in 2018.

Here’s to a more daring and fulfilling 2018!

– CK

Montessori Method?

So for 2 months now, Nat has a habit of waking up 1x in the night where he would stand in his crib and clamor to join us in our bed. Even when he’s drowsy already, he will cry once he realizes he’s being put down in his crib. So I did an experiment last night by letting him sleep on a mattress on the floor. He slept from 10pm to 7am without a single sound?? Maybe this is the start of a mattress ‘bed’ and the end of the crib.

As last night was the first time, I slept next to him on the floor for a while before moving back to my bed.

We combined both his crib mattress and his old playpen/travel cot one so there’s more space if he rolls or moves in the night.

All because I did not want him sleeping next to me in our bed as the only workable option. Everyone has different preferences but personally, co-sleeping next to baby on the same adult bed is my last resort, only for times of desperation i.e. at 4am on a workday.

So what exactly is this Montessori method?

One aspect involves babies sleeping on a mattress from a young age inside their own room, that has been designed with furniture that is suited for them. The idea is for babies to have the freedom and independence to roam freely in a safe environment. It may suit or may not suit your baby as per what this article says.

In theory, I really buy it. However, I only found out about this after we bought his crib. So for his nursery, other than the leather aka lounge chair that we had no choice but to put it there since it was too big for the living room, every other furniture was intended to be “Nat-size”, such as his shelf and side table.

I don’t know how I’m going to move him into his own room in the near future but for now, if this mattress method works and does not result in Nat co-sleeping with us on our beds – I’m going to continue trialing it for the next week.

– CK

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

What one doesn’t see

So while a baby and dog may look real cute in photos, trust me, it’s not always the case. Last week was my mom’s turn to take a break so HJ and I took leave to take care of Nat and Cookie, the family pet. I can’t say this in any better way – I am SO GLAD I can go back to office tomorrow! I really salute the moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas who stay home to take care of young kids and/or pets. Really.

This is just a snapshot of what usually happens with a baby and dog in the same small house.

  • Baby tearing tissue paper
  • Dog and baby almost scratching each other during play time
  • Dog hiding under bed and refusing to come out because of a thunder storm
  • Dog mistaking rugs for a pee pad and staining almost all of them

What isn’t captured is Cookie barking whenever our neighbour comes home because she thinks they are the “enemy” and then barking at 2/3am because she is afraid to sleep alone in the living room. After barking at such unearthly hours, our friend, Nat is woken up and has to be soothed in our adult bed.

Moral of the story: I know this cannot compare ever to having 2 kids but if this is anything of a preview, I am definitely not cut out for taking care of so many small beings.

This is a rant post.

I need to go back to work tomorrow.

To my mom who has to look after both baby and dog daily, I don’t know how you do it but you’re a superwoman.

– CK

Tokyo and Kyoto in a week

Japan – you have been awesome! Will share briefly how we covered Tokyo-Kyoto-Nara & Yokohama within a week in this post. Now, at least HJ is open to more trips when he previously stayed away after the 2011 nuclear plant incident. Osaka-Kobe-Hiroshima next time? We’ll see. I really don’t fancy Osaka that much but it’s an inroad to Kobe and Hiroshima, which I’m more interested in.

Day 1: 28/11 (Tue)

  • Departed Singapore for Tokyo
  • We chose a night flight so that we can snooze on board and start touring once we arrive

Day 2: 29/11 (Wed)

  • Arrived in Tokyo early at 7am
  • Visited the Yasukuni Shrine after we stored our bags at our hotel near Shinjuku station. I missed this site during my previous trip to Tokyo in 2011 so it was a must-go for me in view of its historical significance. 
  • We didn’t go to the Meiji Shrine as it was not on HJ’s must-see list and I had also visited the shrine in 2011 but if you stay near Shinjuku or Shibuya, the Meiji Shrine is quite nearby!
  • After checking in, I bought HJ to see the main tourist spots in the city around Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku since it’s his first time in Toyko.

Day 3: 30/11 (Thurs)

  • Left Tokyo for Kyoto via Shinkansen, which was where I wanted to spent the bulk of our trip (3 days, 2 nights in total).
  • Kyoto has A LOT of temples but we narrowed down to a few must-sees that was near our hotel. They are the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the Kiyomizudera Temple, both of which can take up the whole afternoon and evening if you take your own sweet time.
  • We also managed to visit a few malls i.e. Takashimaya in the evening. The big malls close daily at 8pm, which is quite early compared to Singapore standards so one way is to go shopping first and then have dinner after 8pm since most food places open until 10/11pm.

Day 4: 1/12 (Fri)

  • We set off early to visit the must-see Arashiyama bamboo forest and the Kinkaku-ji temple (golden pavilion), which is in the same area as the bamboo forest so these two sites should be done together. 
  • If we had more time, I would have visited the Tenryu-ji temple, another UNESCO heritage site that is located quite near the bamboo forest. One can visit the temple first, and then exit via the garden, to enter the bamboo forest grove.
  • In the afternoon, we took a day trip to Nara (45 minutes away by train on the JR Nara line) to see wild deers roaming in Nara Park. The sun sets around 430pm during the winter season so we had to ensure that we reached Nara by 3pm so that we could spend some time in the park with the deers.
  • The famous Todai-ji temple (with the giant Buddha) is also located in the park and closes at 5pm.
  • We spent the evening having dinner and did some souvenir shopping in Nara before heading back to Kyoto for the night.

Day 5: 2/12 (Sat)

  • For our last morning in Kyoto, we decided to go to the silver pavilion – Ginkaku-ji temple, after having visited the golden one.
  • Near the temple is also the Philosopher’s Path, which is famous for being lined with peach blossoms but as it was the tail-end of autumn, we got to see a myriad of orange and red leaves instead.
  • In the afternoon, we headed back to Tokyo via Shinkansen and spent the rest of the evening shopping for more souvenirs at Tokyo station, Ikebukuro and Sunshine City.

Day 6: 3/12 (Sun)

  • On our second last day, we decided to go to Yokohama, specifically to visit the Ramen museum and Nissin cup noodles museum.
  • If we had more time, maybe I would have visited the Kirin beer museum? However, between the 3, HJ preferred the food-related ones.

Day 7: 4/12 (Sun)

  • Half a day in Tokyo and flight back to SG

In retrospect, if we had 1 more day, to really max out the 7 day rail pass, I might have included a trip to Mt. Fuji.

Between Mt. Fuji and Yokohama, we chose to do the latter instead because HJ did not really want to take a a 2.5 hr bus ride to Mt. Fuji to and fro Tokyo. After all, I had also been to Hakone and Mt. Fuji on my previous trip in 2011 but Yokohama City was the first for the both of us.

So visiting Tokyo & Kyoto 6-7 days is very doable. It just needs advanced planning and scoping of the sites depending on what you want to really see and do. Based on the sites that we planned to visit, buying the nationwide rail pass (SGD$345) was more worth it vs. paying for one-way trip tickets. The pass also included the Narita Express ticket and it can be used on any JR Line.

Between the two cities, we definitely preferred the slower pace of Kyoto! Am so glad we spent almost half the time there.

We will surely be back to Japan in the near future! HJ says next year – that’s too soon for me but I definitely won’t wait 6 years to come back unlike my previous trip in 2011!

CK

Last trip without Nat

We’re in Japan for our end of year trip while Nat is having his own ‘vacation’ at my mom’s. This is our longest time away from him – 7 days. He still seems rather oblivious? Actually, Nat has never been very clingy but after 6 days, we are eager to see him ! For our next trip in 2018, guess he will be traveling with us…

Generally, 2017 has been an awesome year vacation-wise.

We managed to go to Hanoi (June), Hong Kong (Aug), Penang (Sept) and now Japan.

Partly, it was to make up for a whole year of being in Singapore when I was expecting Nat.

HJ also does not want to travel with Nat yet because it’s very different, traveling with and without a baby. Bluntly speaking, dealing with a carrier, pram, milk powder and diapers isn’t what we have in mind when we think of a vacation.

Yet, I think after a year of reliving our 2015 travel days, I’m ready to bring Nat along with us next year. He’ll be 1 year plus and not really a baby anymore. We’ll see how it goes…

CK