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@#$%^& In, @#$%^& Out 16 November, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2, Learning Training, Slice of Life.
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I don’t know about you, but my 4yo and 6yo seem to pick up what mummy and papa say quite well. And sometimes they remember words from last time too.  Omg.

They say don’t talk down to kids, and don’t lie to kids.  Dear1 and I have been consciously trying to do that since Baby1 was born, and we’ve maintained the same stance to Baby2 too.  We always try our best to talk the same level with them, and we rack our heads to warp the unmentionables into factual statements so as to avoid telling any white lies. But at the end of a tired day, or when you are in a rush, tempers flare, your own emotions run high and @#$%^& comes out from your mouth unknowingly. Don’t think kids don’t pick these up, because they do.  Before you know it, they internalise this, and @#$%^& comes out from their mouths too some time later.  OMG!

The ‘experts’ say children are like sponges, so read to them, play with them, bring them outdoors and explore, teach them new languages, sign them up for abacus and creative thinking and programming and music and singing and arts and science and math.  But few experts emphasize the importance of how adults should watch ourselves when we interact with children.  I say adults because I mean ALL adults, not just the parents.  You, mummy and daddy are definitely at the front of the line, but same goes for the grandparents and teachers and aunties in school and stall owners and bus driver and the auntie who chat up with us on the bus.  Basically, anybody who comes into interaction with children.

Children are like sponges – they take in what they see and hear, and translate these into their own protocol.

As a FTWM, I frequently excused myself when Baby1 and Baby2 misbehaved. Half of myself and my time was fully committed to work, 9 hours for sleeping and recharging my drained-out cells, and the remaining 3 hours to Dear1 and the 2 kids.  Do housework, coach spelling and homework and piano practice, cuddle everyone, cook.  I didn’t want to waste any precious time to be the black face and correct the kids’ misbehavior.

The moment of truth came during our 2 weeks holiday in Japan earlier this May.  Before the end of the first week, I was super maddening angry with both kids.  For the first time in 4 years since Baby2 was born, we spent the whole 24 hours together everyday with both kids, and I realised to my utter astonishment that they have soooooooo many bad habits.  Where did they learn these from!?  I knew there were bad habits, but why are there so many!?  How will they grow up from here?  I was crushed.

After a painful cut, I am now a SAHM.   There are various competency levels for SAHMs, and I am still pondering on the kind that I want myself to be.  But I know for sure that apart from imparting knowledge to my 2 girls (I mean, I have to make good use of my 15 years of education right?  What better way than to be an educator to my own 2 girls), I want to teach them manners and respect and gratitude as well as other life skills.

And while doing all that, I need to constantly keep myself in check, in my words, in my actions and how I carry myself in front of them.  Gambatte, mummy!

– Dear2

Zootopia Try Everything 7 October, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Slice of Life.
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When Zootopia was released, I’d thought that was just another entertaining animation.  There are so many movie animations for kids these days, and one more seemed another senseless one.  But after we watched it, hey, it seemed to be pretty meaningful – small little bunny who aspired to do BIG things, and eventually succeeded.  Simple idea but presented in a zoo-zoo way, nice!

And recently when Baby1 came home with the lyrics for her year-end concert, WOW, the lyrics for <Try Everything> seemed very meaningful!

I messed up tonight, I lost another fight
I still mess up but I’ll just start again
I keep falling down, I keep on hitting the ground
I always get up now to see what’s next

Birds don’t just fly, they fall down and get up
Nobody learns without getting it wrong

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
‘Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
‘Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again
No, I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Try everything
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Try everything
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Try everything
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Look how far you’ve come, you filled your heart with love
Baby you’ve done enough, take a deep breath
Don’t beat yourself up, don’t need to run so fast
Sometimes we come last, but we did our best

I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
‘Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail
I won’t give up, no I won’t give in
‘Til I reach the end and then I’ll start again
No I won’t leave, I wanna try everything
I wanna try even though I could fail

I’ll keep on making those new mistakes
I’ll keep on making them every day
Those new mistakes

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Try everything
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Try everything
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Try everything
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Try everything

These lyrics tugged at my heart strings, especially when they will be sang by the K2 kids who will be ‘graduating’ from the childcare centre at the end of the year, moving on to Primary School next year.  For a 6-year old who has been in a childcare facility for the past 4 years, she may not fully comprehend the scale of what ‘Primary School’ means, but for us parents, we all know very well that this will be the beginning of formal education, of chasing that academic results, of coming to the society, of really encountering peer pressure.

As parents, what kind of parents are we, and what kind of parents do we want ourselves to be? There are soooooooo many parenting resources and articles and hearsay nowadays.  During our parents times, parenting advice mostly came from their Da Gu’s Third Aunt, or from San Jie handling her own 4 children, or from the next-door neighbor, or from the aunties at the vegetable stall.  If you had a “how far away is the sun from earth” question, your dad will probably ask you to “go library and find the answer”, or “ask your teacher”.  Today, we’ll just quickly google the answer, or for the indirect questions, pose it on social media to seek mass help. Apart from these help that we actively seek, there are lots of content explosion which some inevitably lands into our line of sight too.  The will and wisdom of the modern parent needs to be so much stronger now!

Try everything. Of course we won’t be asking Baby1 to try everything.  Why try drugs, smoking, gambling, alcohol, promiscuous sex, if we’ve already know that these are wrong. For other things, we’ve been through the education system, so we know that you’ve-better-study-hard-to-have-a-good-life, and we know that you-need-to-do-this-to-achieve-that.  Sounds right?

When Joseph Schooling won the first Olympic Gold for Singapore, everyone was surprised. No Singaporean had achieved such big goals before, so I’m pretty sure Joseph’s parents did not have a prior glamorous Olympics record themselves. But try did Joseph, and win did he.

As parents, we are continually learning, and continually applying. We just want the best for our children, (albeit the definition of ‘best’ defers from person to person), and we just want our children to grow up well.

I am very nervous about Primary One, because that’s a whole wide world out there.  We will not be able to shelter Baby1 24/7, and she will need to learn independence and navigate herself among the masses.  Apart from courageously try everything and not be afraid to fall (like in the lyrics), we also want to instill in her, knowing what is right and wrong, and to always do the right thing, and learn when to say ‘No’.

For the ‘graduating’ K2s, take heart! Birds don’t just fly, they fall down and get up.  Arm yourself with lots of courage and prepare to embrace the world!  Mummies and daddies will always be behind you!

– Dear2

 

Just for Thoughts 3 October, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Slice of Life.
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Recently the kids borrowed a book titled from the library, and money is defined as “what you exchange with time and skills.”

Money = what you exchange with time and skills.  How fitting is this description!

As a working mum, I sacrificed the bulk of my day times, for 5 days a week, working hard in the office.  Not physically toiling, but the drain of brain cells, and the eyes barely able to maintain opened, every work day, is no exaggeration.  Every week day, all I want to do when I reached home in the evening, is to quickly pack the kids to bed, shower, and hit for the beds.  For everything else, can we leave these for the weekends?

I was engineering trained, but had been working in non-engineering fields since graduation. For the past 9.5 years in the same company, I gained much experience in my work, and was able to put these knowledge and skills efficiently in my work.

So, yes, I gained money through the exchange of my time and skills, but that was about it.  There was no love nor passion in what I do, and I was finding it harder and harder to explain to my kids on what I do.

How do you tell your kids what you do, when you don’t actually believe in what you do?

How do you encourage your kids to be serious in their learning, when you were an all As student but ended up disillusioned and passionless in your work?

Since young, our parents and uncles and aunts liked to tell us to “study hard, so that next time can have a good job”.  But “good job” in those days meant an office job, as compared to manual work. For our parents’ generation, the baby-boomers generation, pushing their children to tertiary education was their goal and pride.  Once your child has the paper qualifications, his/her future is secured.

But for the majority of us born in late 70s to 80s, 99.99% of us do not become doctors or lawyers.  With the paper qualifications which our parents painstakingly acquired for us, we became office workers. Our parents were satisfied, because we did not have to take on the manual work like what they had suffered in those days.  We bring money home.  We formed our own families.  We pushed our children to take up many enrichment courses for fear that they fall behind their peers.  We spend what we earned so as to keep up the societal norms.  We did not realise that we were already in the rat chase, constantly chasing after that piece of cheese.

In this pursuit, how do you respond to your child when they ask you “why need to study hard?”

“So that you become a useful person” is the kind of response that I would like to tell Baby1 and Baby2.

“Like mummy and papa” is what I would like to add too.

In order to nurture and inspire our kids, let us parents lead by example by leading fulfilling lives ourselves.  Of course, the ideal situation is a job which you love and which pays a lot. To achieve the latter, you’d better be good in what you do!

– Dear2

Minimalist 28 September, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Dollars & Cents, Shop till you drop, Slice of Life.
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It’s fascinating to know how much clothes we’ve actually got, every time when I clean out the house.

Every now and then, I’ll want to buy new clothes.  Perhaps more tee-shirts to wear at home.  Perhaps a couple more polo tees for my weekend wear.  Hmm, the kids should get more clothes too; we definitely need to go Tung Chung Outlets get some kids wear during our Hong Kong holiday next month!

But halt!  During the ‘Spring Cleaning’ this past week, I’ve uncovered mannnnnnnny items which we’ve long forgotten about!  Really out-of-sight, out-of-mind, haiz.

First and foremost, 3 new pairs of army white socks still pristine in their packaging.   Dear1 was contemplating of making a special visit to e-mart to replenish these.  Thanks to procrastination, we haven’t actually got down to e-mart before these 3 pairs were uncovered, sitting snugly in the shoe cabinet some more!

From our wardrobe, I found:

  • 3 packs of facial cotton.  OMG, since when have I been using facial cotton!?  I’ve got no idea, but it seems such a waste to discard this.
  • 2 home tees, not worn before. Omg, why!?
  • 4 pajamas.  Hmm… didn’t realise that I’ve got this many.  And Dear1 always keep asking me to buy more, grr…
  • x number of nightie. Urgh, Dear1, we’ve really got to stop buying more night wear for me.
  • Dear1’s underwear, all looks new.  Omg, to think I always ask him if he need new ones every time we are at a Departmental Store.
  • 4 bottles of hair serum, and 1 bottle of hair conditioner.  OMG.

Around the house, I also found:

  • A pack of kitchen towels, not opened yet.
  • 2 floor mats which look brand new.
  • Ah yes, I didn’t forget the new bath towels which we got earlier at a sale – so, there’s still 2 of them.
  • Oh, here are the torchlights, we could use them for travelling, no need to buy torchlights again
  • Hmm… 2 cute pillow cases.  I can use these to make the bolster case for Baby2!

I did major cleaning of the ‘insides’ this past week, de-cluttering and throwing out the things which we REALLY do not need.  I don’t think Dear1 and I like to buy things; compared to some people, I think we are really not fashionable nor have the material need to want to possess branded goods or the latest tech gadget.

But over the years, we’ve seem to have accumulate quite some bulk to the house. I tend to buy things when they are on sale, so like the hair serum and extra towels, these were either got at a good discount, or when we needed to make up the minimum amount to qualify for the discount.  Unknowingly, many of these items became ‘spares’, sitting in the cupboard waiting for their use turn, sometimes idling there for a couple of years until the next spring clean, which they are eventually discarded as they’ve expired, opps!

I want to go on a minimalist lifestyle.  Recently I came across this clip of a Japanese guy who advocates this.  The furniture in his house looks like they’re all bought from Ikea – the compact and cheap type.  He digitized all his photos and music albums and books, converting his entire hobby collection to a mere hard disk.  And he’s only got like 15 pieces of clothing, including 5 underwear and 5 pairs of socks!?

The minimalist lifestyle is not about having less; it’s about knowing what you want.  Don’t we all have a bag too many, x number pairs of shoes, work clothes, glam clothes, weekend clothes, home clothes, PJs, but still think we need more clothes?  And I won’t even go into the collector’s items; I personally do not believe in collecting anything, lest they just accumulate dust (and which I need to clean).

Singapore throws out xx tonnes of waste every day.  I can’t even imagine where these trash goes to.

  • Know what you need (Is this item really what you need? Before buying, confirm that we REALLY don’t already have one sitting somewhere in the house?)
  • Reduce
  • Reuse

I shall try to follow these mandates, and set an example to Baby1 and Baby2 too.  :)

– Dear2

School Dental Centre 21 September, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Baby, Dear2, Sports & Health.
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When Baby1 was in N1, we were very concerned that the childcare centre that she attended did not seem too keen to teach the 3 year olds on oral care. “If childcare will start to teach the children self independence, like eating on their own, keeping their own bags etc, shouldn’t teeth brushing be taught early?  Plus the kids have their meals and milk in the centre.  Plus shouldn’t good oral practice starts from small!?”  We tried to persuade the centre to start inculcating teeth brushing after meals, but the centre only acceded to train the kids to rinse their mouths, and only after lunch before bath. Duh.

Dear1 and I truly believed that good oral care should start young, so we made sure that Baby1 brushes her teeth every morning since then.  Night brushing was challenging, as we counted on her dozing off and having a good night/ uninterrupted sleep while drinking her bedtime feed.  At both the grandparents’ places, we prepared her tooth brush and mug, and constantly reminded the grandparents to brush their teeth, but gramps being gramps, they seemed to encounter different types of difficulties in enforcing the brushing of teeth, haiz.

The last part of oral care have to be regular visits to the dentist.  I am one who is okay with dentist visits.  Of course it’s usually uncomfortable, and always bloody and painful, but I like it when the dentist always removes all the hard plague, something that I could never prevent from ‘growing’ despite my rigorous daily brushes.  Dear1 is more squeamish about dental visits.  Something about the “eeeeeeeh……… zzzzzzzhh…..” of the machinery sounds that Dear1 couldn’t stand, (or simply a childhood fear which is surprisingly very common among many adults?  keke).

Dear1 suggested that we bring the kids along when we go for our (supposedly) yearly dental check-up.  I said “Are you sure?” and “Am I really up to it?”  One: What if Dear1 freak out during his visit?  Two: What if I freaked out during MY visit.  Luckily at this point, I chanced upon a mummy’s blog about the School Dental Centre.  This mummy’s eldest child is about the same age as Baby1, so I was very curious to see how other mummies tackle this issue (which we have to start SOON!).

The School Dental Centre is located in HPB Building in SGH.  It seems to be providing dental services to school-going children, but pre-schoolers can visit them too.  We made an appointment for Baby1, which the earliest Saturday slot was a couple of months later.  Since this is just our first introduction to dentists for her, we were in no hurry.  In fact, a few weeks leading up to the BIG DAY, we borrowed a couple of books relating to dental visits from the library.  Through the picture books, we preempted Baby1 of what’s to happen during the visit.

On the actual day, true enough, Baby1 was scared to the max.  The Dentist was all nice and friendly.  There were many other kids around but that didn’t make Baby1 any braver.  Nor the many colorful cartoon stickers on the walls or equipment liven the atmosphere any more.  Baby1 wouldn’t sit on the chair no matter how we coaxed (or threatened, when all patience and encouragement failed).  She finally relented when the Dentist allowed her to sit on Papa while Papa sits on the chair, phew.

The Dentist did a very swift check (lest Baby1 decides to back down).  Luckily her teeth was in very good condition, which we all kept praising her (and fueling her pride) afterwards and continually even till now, keke. The Dentist also showed her the proper techniques for brushing teeth (seems like the protocol).  Before we left, the Dentist whipped out a box of stickers for Baby1 to choose.  That was the WOW.  For braving the ordeal, all the kids get to bring home a sticker!  How encouraging!  With the permission of the Dentist, Baby1 took 2 stickers, one for herself and one for Baby2 who had been silently watching the whole process with us.  Dentist said Baby2 should come too (though she was only 2 yo then).  We made two appointments for both girls approximately one year later.

Since then, we have been to the School Dental Centre for three times for the kids’ yearly checks.  Next year, Baby1 can no longer come here, as she’ll be in Primary School which the school will take over the yearly dental check ups. For Baby2, she’s still very much looking forward to the next year’s visit, because she’ll get a sticker after the visit!  Keke!

We highly recommend the School Dental Centre for kids.  Baby1’s going to be 7 yo next year, and she’s still having her entire set of her baby teeth, plus 3 molars sprouting at the back.  All kudos to the nice dental experiences (frankly, I think the reason why many adults still have phobia of dentist, must surely be due to bad childhood experiences, hush hush), she’s proud of her pearlies and always takes care to brush them well.  And it’s only $9 per visit (for Singaporeans), so do book an appointment for your kid soon!

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 4 Kidzania and Disneyland 17 August, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Travel & Discovery.
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We arranged the most fun kids activities for the last league of the trip, in case the kids can’t have enough and want to have more for the remaining part of our trip, disrupting our plans.  So last league it shall be.

We’ve been to 2 Kidzania thus far, and every time it was fun!  But today we’d only had a very small window, being a long travelling day out from Kinosaki Onsen. Although we set off in the morning, by the time we reached LaLaport Toyosu, with our luggage in tow, it was 4pm.  We bought the two-hour tickets, with an additional one hour thrown in for us (gee..), and left all our luggage at the Kidzania luggage hold (nice! as we couldn’t find any luggage deposit at the mall or the train station).

A very familiar Kidzania City, this time in Tokyo. We saw quite a lot of school kids here.

A very familiar Kidzania City, this time in Tokyo. We saw quite a lot of school kids here.

The activity stations in Japan’s Kidzania are slightly different from the ones in KL or Bangkok.  In Japan, each activity spans about 30mins, and younger children can participate in most of the activities.  Longer time means that the kids get to enjoy the role longer and have more time to understand the profession.  At 3.5 years old, Baby2 had a wide selection of professions to choose from, which means that Dear1 and I did not have to split up to take care of Baby1 and Baby2 separately like the last times.  Also means that the two sisters get to participate and have shared experiences together too.  Nice!

For the 3 hours, the girls role played four professions – ANA Flight Attendants, Takyubin delivery man, nursery taking care of newborns, and as Department Store Sales Assistant.  At the end of the day, they went to the bank to cash out the initial 50 Kidzos.  The bank even gave them each a wallet to keep the monies.

Waiting outside the TA-Q-BIN store. Baby1 and Baby2 were the only 2 "workers" and so they received the full attention from the staff who was also trying his best to speak English to the children.

Waiting outside the TA-Q-BIN store. Baby1 and Baby2 were the only 2 “workers” and so they received the full attention from the staff who was also trying his best to speak English to the children.

The children got to take a ride in the TA-Q-BIN delivery van.

The children got to take a ride in the TA-Q-BIN delivery van.

The age limit typically starts at 3 years old which makes Tokyo Kidzania much more child friendly than the other we've been to. Also, the longer duration for each activity meant more time for the children to be immersed in their job.

The age limit typically starts at 3 years old which makes Tokyo Kidzania much more child friendly than the other we’ve been to. Also, the longer duration for each activity meant more time for the children to be immersed in their job.

By the end of the day, both kids were tired and hungry, and we towed the luggage in search of the Mystays Maihama hotel which will be our one night stay before we head to Disneyland tomorrow.

We were up early next morning, and dropped the luggage at the Disney Welcome Centre before entering Disneysea which opened at 8.30am.  It was a bit of a walk from our hotel to Disneysea, but all that to save money as one night stay in Disney Hotel costs ~$650 and we really only needed the room for sleeping at night. :p

Doing early check in at the Welcome Centre. Our luggage will be forwarded to our rooms but we still had to carry our valuables. Poor Dear1 carried around his laptop for the whole day.

Doing early check in at the Welcome Centre. Our luggage will be forwarded to our rooms but we still had to carry our valuables. Poor Dear1 carried around his laptop for the whole day.

Dear1 and I had been to Japan Disneyland during our 2008 honeymoon, and had brought Baby1 to Hong Kong Disyneyland in 2011.  Since Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, we scheduled today to be Disneysea first, and saved the most most most fun part for tomorrow!  Boy, it was a good plan indeed.

Disneysea looked cooler and more adult-like as compared to Disneyland.  Everywhere it’s waters so there’s a lot of walking to get from one land to the other.  As a newer park compared to Disneyland (this year, Disneysea is celebrating its 15th anniversary), the robots here are more advanced compared to those in Disneyland.  Dear1 and I were quite awed by the technological advances, keke.

Dancers parading at the morning show.

Dancers parading at the morning show.

For the kids however, the technology did not seemed too impressive.  Perhaps it was the theme that inclined towards older kids as well. For instance, we made sure to rush for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as our first stop for the very popular Fast Pass. Alas, it was a long round and round and round down until we reached the dark dark Underworld, and being dark and scary, the kids’ very first impression of Disneysea was not so impressed.

20000 leagues under the sea was the first ride that we went to. It was a bit too dark and scary for the children.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was the first ride that we went to. It was a bit too dark and scary for the children.

Dressing up with many Disney character hats at the shop. Hello, Chip and Dale!

Dressing up with many Disney character hats at the shop. Hello, Chip and Dale!

There weren’t many colorful or fun rides suitable for kids too.  The Flying Carpet Ride was perhaps the most colorful ride in the whole of Disneysea, LOL.  We also enjoyed the fuzzy logic ride of the Aquatopia.

The children enjoyed the Flying Carpet so much that we went twice.

The children enjoyed the Flying Carpet so much that we went twice.

Aquatopia was fun with its random movements.

Aquatopia was fun with its random movements.

We had Chandu's Tail for a snack when the children got hungry. Keke.

We had Chandu’s Tail for a snack when the children got hungry. Keke.

For dinner, Dear1 specially made a reservation at Mickey Cafe where we’ll get to dine with Chef Mickey, so by 6pm, we took shuttle bus over to Disney Ambassdor Hotel.  The dinner was considered over-priced as the buffet spread was neither sumptuous nor delicious – it was just a very so-so buffet.  And Chef Donald, Daisy and Minnie only came by our table to take pictures a total of 3 times.  Overall, I’ll give this a miss the next time if we come to Disneysea again.

We reserved Chef Mickey for dinner.

We reserved Chef Mickey for dinner.

Minnie gave us a surprise by popping up from behind our sofa seats.

Minnie gave us a surprise by popping up from behind our sofa seats.

Chef Donald came to say hello too. We had interactions and photos with Donald, Daisy, and Minnie throughout our dinner.

Chef Donald came to say hello too. We had interactions and photos with Donald, Daisy, and Minnie throughout our dinner.

We timed the dinner seating to be leisurely ahead of the fireworks, so that we could return to Disneysea for the much-anticipated fireworks.  By this time, both kids were tired out, and both of them fell asleep along the way.  Dear1 and I considered to check in to the Hotel now, but Disney’s fireworks is a must-see! So we painstakingly carried both sleeping babies back to the park, only to hear the announcement that fireworks display has been cancelled due to bad weather, boo hoo!  It was probably due to the strong winds which we had been feeling the whole of today, sobz!

Heading back to Disneysea to catch the evening show.

Heading back to Disneysea to catch the evening show.

Goodbye Disneysea. We had great fun today.

Goodbye Disneysea. We had great fun today.

We took the monorail over to the Disney Hotel to do check in, which was just a stone’s throw away from Disneysea, keke. This morning we had dropped off the luggage at the Welcome Centre, so we needed to do the proper check in now.  The kids stay fixed at the mini tv at the hotel lobby while papa did the check in and waited to collect the items which we had purchased from the stores earlier this afternoon.

The Disneyland Hotel was spectacular. It really felt like we were returning to our castle after a long and fun-filled day.

The Disneyland Hotel was spectacular. It really felt like we were returning to our castle after a long and fun-filled day.

We booked the Twinkle Bell Room, and boy was it cute!  The room’s furnishings were simply cute and I’ll highly recommend Disney Hotel to families wanting a memorable hotel stay!

Our Tinkle Bell Room!

Our Tinkle Bell Room! There is one more cozy bed on the right, outside the picture, where Baby1 slept for 2 nights.

Look at the giant pencil used as the leg of the bedframe.

Look at the giant pencil used as the leg of the bedframe.

Next morning, we were ready at the gates of Disneyland by 9am.  As usual, it was crowded to the max, keke!  Today, we had a lot more fun at the colorful and lively park.  We couldn’t get enough of the  Monster Inc Ride, Go Kart Ride, Spinning Teacups, Carousal, Small Small World, various parades and shows, and we even had a go on the Roller Coaster.  Yes, roller coaster!  We kinda tricked Baby2 into thinking that only brave children gets to go on this, so when she passed the minimum height requirement and got a wrist band for it, it boasted her confidence so much that she can proudly recount afterwards how she cried but was only whimpering, when she was really scared throughout the ride, clutching mummy’s arm tightly, haha.

Waking up the next morning and being greeted by the wonderfully sculpted garden outside our window.

Waking up the next morning and being greeted by the wonderfully sculpted garden outside our window.

Getting ready to enter Disneyland. Hotel guests have early entry, but there were so many fellow hotel guests.

Getting ready to enter Disneyland. Hotel guests have early entry, but there were so many fellow hotel guests.

The iconic Cinderella's Castle.

The iconic Cinderella’s Castle.

We had the chance to see 3 parades in 1 day. This was the morning Easter Parade.

We had the chance to see 3 parades in 1 day. This was the morning Easter Parade.

Spotting Tinkle Bell during the regular day parade.

Spotting Tinkle Bell during the regular day parade.

Like yesterday, today Dear1 made early dinner reservations at the Golden Horseshoe.  This was so much more worth it!  The Show was super entertaining, the dancers were superb, the meal was more high class, and we got to bring home a Mickey handkerchief as part of the magic show.  After dinner, the fireworks was again cancelled today though the weather was much warmer today, sigh… We watched the dazzling display of lights at the Night Parade, and bid goodbye to Disneyland (and Japan). We went back to our Tinker Bell Room for one last night before setting off to the airport early next day.

We reserved a dinner show at the Diamond Horseshoe.

We reserved a dinner show at the Diamond Horseshoe.

Mickey shaped food for the children.

Mickey shaped food for the children.

The show was very entertaining, and we had pretty good seats, second row from the stage.

The show was very entertaining, and we had pretty good seats, second row from the stage.

A handkerchief as souvenir from the dinner show.

A handkerchief as souvenir from the dinner show.

This is the roller coaster that we all took together. Brave Baby1 and Baby2!

This is the roller coaster that we all took together. Brave Baby1 and Baby2!

The third and last parade of the day, the Electric Parade. And farewell to Disneyland and Japan.

The third and last parade of the day, the Electric Parade. And farewell to Disneyland and Japan.

So, that was our 13-day Japan trip. Dear1 and I gave ourselves a pat for planning such a fun trip for the family.  We got to have different experiences in this trip, got to eat many yummy authentic Japanese food, and most importantly, both Baby1 and Baby2, and ourselves of course, have such fond memories of this trip.

Love you, Dear1!

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 3 Kinosaki Onsen 16 August, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Travel & Discovery.
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Taking the early morning ~3hr train from Shin-Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen.

Taking the early morning ~3hr train from Shin-Osaka to Kinosaki Onsen.

Kinosaki Onsen is a small area with many onsens, and the locals are known to hop from one onsen to the other after their dinners.  Hmm…. I find this inconceivable.  Since Dear1 was so keen on this, we’ll just have to go have a look. And luckily we did!  All of us had so much fun and nice memories here!

Lots of ekiben to choose from for breakfast at Shin-Osaka station.

Lots of ekiben to choose from for breakfast at Shin-Osaka station.

We had a hearty breakfast on the train before the children took their morning nap.

We had a hearty breakfast on the train before the children took their morning nap.

We had ekiben in the Shinkansen (which the kids learnt what a bullet train is now, keke) and changed a couple of trains before finally reaching our ryokan, Morizuya.  As the room was not ready yet, Baby2 had her nap at the nearby shelter where Baby1 played at the playground.

We arrived at Kinosaki Onsen. Wah... It really is a peaceful and relaxing town.

We arrived at Kinosaki Onsen. Wah… It really is a peaceful and relaxing town.

Baby1 went to play at the local playground while Baby2 took a nap.

Baby1 went to play at the local playground while Baby2 took a nap.

At 3pm exactly, we checked and were awed by the large selection of colorful yukata, waist bands, hair accessories, bath bags and slippers provided by our ryokan.  Not to mention the unfamiliar instructions of the dos-and-don’ts when you visit any of the 7 complimentary onsens.  Bravely, we set off prettily for the first onsen, clog-ging cautiously down the street. Wow, by then, it was about 4pm and you really start to see men and women and kids dressed in yukata coming out and clog-ging down to the various onsens.  What an interesting sight!

Our room on the second floor of Morizuya, overlooking the main street.

Our room on the second floor of Morizuya, overlooking the main street.

We got to choose from the wide variety of colourful yukatas. There is only 1 standard design for males.

We got to choose from the wide variety of colourful yukatas for the girls. There is only 1 standard design for males.

Hmm… perhaps let me share some of the (embarrassing) lessons I’ve learnt from the total 5 onsens we’ve visited here.

  1. First and foremost, don’t be embarrassed!  Japanese onsens are stripped fully naked.  But your body and mine are just outward physicals, you have what I have, so there’s nothing fascinating about some one else’s bodies.  That was what I frantically briefed Baby1 and Baby2 just before we stripped down, LOL.  In case they start to stare or worse, comment at anybody, opps!
  2. Of course, the male and female baths are separate, so our plan was for me to bring the girls along to the female bath, and Papa goes (enjoy) himself at the male’s.  So I had to (1) enjoy the soak, and (2) bath three people afterwards.  Sounds busy ya, haha.
  3. I was really trying to enjoy the hot soak, but with a scared Baby2 not daring to enter the hot pool, and a cautious Baby1 whom I had to continuously encourage to enter, albeit inch by inch, I had probably a maximum of 10 mins soak at each bath before we had to go.  But at the end of the 5 onsens, Baby2 can proudly say that, hey, she had entered ONE pool, and Baby1 excited recounted her various “swimming” experiences.  :)
  4. Inside the pool, no hair accessories and no towels please.  Initially I had thought the ladies were looking at us constantly because I was the only mummy handling two very cute little girls.  But luckily one brave auntie came up and reminded that no towels in the pool that I realised to my deep embarrassment what the stares were about!
  5. I said luckily because that incident happened at the first Onsen.  Subsequently, after shedding my embarrassment, I was better able to enjoy the experience. Another auntie kindly told us that the outer pool was cooler, so it’ll be easier for the little girls.  Thanks for the tip!  Otherwise I would never have thought of bringing the kids outdoors into the freezing wind.
  6. However in one of the bath, the water was so hot that everyone’s skin were scorched red.  Again, luckily I did not insist that Baby1 enter the pool.  I barely could enter only up to knee height!
  7. The bathing process was part of the onsen experience too.  After the soak, people will have their full bath here.  And so we followed suit.  We each got a small stool, like the locals do, and washed and bathed seated down.  Interesting!
  8. After bath, it was suiting up again.  Yukatas are a large piece of clothe secured only by the strings and waist band.  And we had to trot back to the ryokan in this, so better secure tightly!  Times three of that, please, for myself, Baby1 and Baby2.
  9. By the time we came out from the bath, Dear1 will be relaxing at the resting area waiting for us.  Ah, what a relaxing bath.
  10. And we repeated this 4 times over 2 days.  Before and after dinner, on our 2 nights at Kinosaki Onsen.  And 1 last time at our ryokan before breakfast on the last day. :p

Our Day 1 dinner was a wonderful kaiseki spread.  The food just kept coming in, and we were worried that we’ll be too full to go bath after dinner.

The beginning of our kaiseki. We didn't take much photos throughout the dinner. Just keep eating and enjoying the sumptuous meal.

The beginning of our kaiseki. We didn’t take much photos throughout the dinner. Just keep eating and enjoying the sumptuous meal.

After dinner, we strolled along the street in the cool night breeze.  And after we tucked the kids to bed, Dear1 and I had some cold beer on our balcony which overlooks the street,  watching people clog down the streets to their onsens.  Nice~

After dinner, we went to our second bath at Ichinoyu.

After dinner, we went to our second bath at Ichinoyu.

The next day, we took the Kyoto Tango Railway to Amanohashidate which is one of Japan’s top three most scenic sights.  We had wanted to rent the bicycles, but they didn’t come with any suitable for kids, so we cross the (harbour) by ferry.  Took the (tram) up the hill (chair lift are not suitable for our young kids), and bent over to see the “path leading to heaven”.  It was an amazing sight!

We took the special TENKU-NO-SHIRO TAKEDA-JOSEKI train from Kinosaki on our way to Amanohashidate.

We took the special TENKU-NO-SHIRO TAKEDA-JOSEKI train from Kinosaki on our way to Amanohashidate.

The sandbar connecting the 2 land masses is one of the top three scenic spots in Japan. This is the view from Kasamatsu Park.

The sandbar connecting the 2 land masses is one of the top three scenic spots in Japan. This is the view from Kasamatsu Park.

We wanted to cycle across the sandbar but couldn't find suitable bicycles for the children. So we just went for a short walk along the sandbar instead. Those are pine trees.

We wanted to cycle across the sandbar but couldn’t find suitable bicycles for the children. So we just went for a short walk along the sandbar instead. Those are pine trees.

Back at Kinosaki, we went for our third at Kounoyu before dinner.

Back at Kinosaki, we went for our third at Kounoyu before dinner.

In the evening, it was bath, dinner, bath and beer again, keke!

On our second night, we had winter crab soup for dinner. The sashimi was super fresh and delicious too. Yumz.

On our second night, we had winter crab soup for dinner. The sashimi was super fresh and delicious too. Yumz.

Dinner for the kids too.

Dinner for the kids too.

The next morning, we woke up slightly earlier to have a bath at the onsen inside the ryokan, before checking out to embark on the last league of the trip – fun activities for the kids!  Stay tuned!

– Dear2

Japan 2016 – Part 2 Osaka 15 August, 2016

Posted by dear1dear2 in Dear2, Travel & Discovery.
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Umihotaru is like a building in the sea, along the expressway that links Kisarazu to Kanagawa. We stopped at Umihotaru for lunch.

Umihotaru is like a building in the sea, along the expressway that links Kisarazu to Kanagawa. We stopped at Umihotaru for lunch.

After we left Mother Farm, we took a bus to Umihotaru where we stopped for a quick lunch before checking in to Shin Yokohama Kokusai Hotel and had dinner at the nearby Ramen Museum.  In this trip, we would experience 5 different kinds of accommodations in 6 ‘hotels’ – Farm stay, hotel, home-stay, ryokan and theme park hotel.  Each style is quite different from the other, and I think we all had fun with the various experiences!

The Ramen Museum is essentially a rustic ramen foodcourt.

The Ramen Museum is essentially a rustic ramen foodcourt.

Yummy ramen for dinner.

Yummy ramen for dinner.

The next day, we took started our 7 Day Japan Railpass and took the Shinkansen from Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka. Shin-Osaka was our base for 4 nights. Being a home-stay, this is the only chance for us to do major laundry washing and drying. We had tactically planned this for the middle part of the trip so that we only have to pack half the amount of clothes for the 2 weeks trip. Brilliant!

We happen to catch a view of Mt Fuji during our Shinkansen ride from Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka.

We happen to catch a view of Mt Fuji during our Shinkansen ride from Shin-Yokohama to Shin-Osaka.

Day 1 of our daily trips was to Dotonburi.  This was a super touristy place – lots of shops and lots of (Chinese) tourists.  Being not so into shopping, we spent the time eating instead.  Gyoza, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, Pablo cheese tarts, macha ice-cream, and finally super yummy udon, wow, all the delicious authentic Japanese foods, we like~

Visiting the iconic Dotonburi for shopping and dinner.

Visiting the iconic Dotonburi for shopping and dinner.

We saw lots of macha flavoured food along the shopping streets. It was yummy.

We saw lots of macha flavoured food along the shopping streets. It was yummy.

A simple kitsune soba dinner at Kawafuku was delicious.

A simple kitsune udon dinner at Kawafuku was delicious.

On Day 2, we traveled out (of course by Japan rail pass) to visit the Golden Shrine, Bamboo Forest, had Tofu spread at Ine, and visited and the Red Tori Gates.  As there wasn’t much travelling in between the places of interest on this day, Baby2 has her afternoon nap at the Tori Gates , while Baby1 went around taking photos on her camera with Papa.  Good one-on-one bonding time between father and daughter.  :)

There is too many people at Kinkakuji to have a good time there.

There was too many people at Kinkakuji to have a good time there.

Yudofu is a cuisine at Kyoto. I thought it was decent. Dear2 thought it was "exotic".

Yudofu is a cuisine at Kyoto. Dear1 thought it was decent. Dear2 thought it was “exotic”.

Visiting the bamboo forest after lunch.

Visiting the bamboo forest after lunch.

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Photo taken by Baby1 at Fushimi Inari Shrine.

Day 3’s morning plan was a bit messy and hectic.  The initial plan was to go to the Mosaic Ferris Wheel near Kobe Harborland, then rush down to Kobe Sannomiya for some much-raved Kobe beef.  At the Mosaic Ferris Wheel, we saw a long queue of kids entering the Anpanman museum, but finally decided just to visit the shops in search of Classmate J’s birthday present.  By the time we reach Sannomiya, the designated restuarant was full (we didn’t make a prior reservation, sobz) and we settled at an over-priced and very average restaurant.  For the second half of the day, we conquered the 6-storey Himeji Castle.

On our way to the Mosaic Ferris Wheel. Anpanman Museum is on the right.

On our way to the Mosaic Ferris Wheel. Anpanman Museum is on the right.

Wow. Who knew Anpanman Museum could be so much fun. We bought an Anpanman and a Shokupanman.

Wow. Who knew Anpanman Museum could be so much fun. We bought an Anpanman and a Shokupanman as snack.

We visited Himeji Castle after lunch. Children took a nap on the 40 min train from Kobe to Himeji.

We visited Himeji Castle after lunch. Children took a nap on the 40 min train from Kobe to Himeji.

We climbed all the way to the top. Well done children!

We climbed all the way to the top. Well done children!

For Day 4, we took the rail to Nara.  Nara is an area with many many many shrines.  From our honeymoon experience, Dear1 and I concluded that all the shrines are more or less the same (keke), so we decided to just skip the shrines here and head straight to the fun part – deer feeding at Nara Park.  Before we head over, we made sure that we are in queue for the awesome Unagi spread at Edogawa, the day before’s disappointment of not eating mouth-salivating Kobe beef still brews sorely for us.  After a satisfying lunch, it was finally feeding, where the kids had much fun being chased by the hungry deer. Dear1 even got licked by one persistent deer, eeks!!

Yummy unagi rice at Edogawa. Certainly one of the best meals of the trip.

Yummy unagi rice at Edogawa. Certainly one of the best meals of the trip.

Bought the famous mochi at Nakatanidou. Also saw the mochi pounding performance live.

Bought the famous mochi at Nakatanidou. Also saw the mochi pounding performance live.

Feeding the deers at Nara Park. The deers recognized the biscuits right away and chased after us. They also knew when we were out of biscuits.

Feeding the deers at Nara Park. The deers recognized the biscuits right away and chased after us. They also knew when we were out of biscuits.

For the afternoon, we went to Yodobashi-Umeda and Hankyu shopping mall at Umeda.  There were shops and shoppers everywhere, but we had long decided that lugging 2 kids along is never an enjoyable experience for us 4.  However we have to join the Japanese crowd at (depachika) for dinner purchasing!  You see all these people peering at the exquisite foods and wonder that they can’t all be tourists like us too!?? We joined the long queues and bought a wonderful spread of the local delicacies, some for dinner, and some for souvenirs to bring home.  Coincidentally, today Dear1 realised that there’s a supermarket nearby our accommodation.  What the!?  We had been searching high and low for days for one, and only discovered this on our last city day, LOL.  After dinner, we strolled over and stocked up with more local tidbits to bring home as souvenirs, just nice as we had to pack the luggage today too.  This concludes the city-stay part, which means no more major shopping from this point on.

We bought Bake Cheesetarts and other yummy and exquisite snacks at the basement supermarket at Umeda.

We bought Bake Cheese Tarts and other yummy and exquisite snacks at the depachika at Umeda. Also bought takeaway dinner to eat back at our apartment.

Visited the supermarket nearby our apartment after dinner. Everything was so much cheaper. If only we had discovered this gem earlier.

Visited the supermarket nearby our apartment after dinner. Everything, such as canned coffee and yogurt drinks, was so much cheaper. If only we had discovered this gem earlier.

Setting off to Kinosaki Onsen tomorrow~

– Dear2