Saturday, August 17, 2013

Our family Hong Kong trip: getting there, (almost there) Disneyland, and Lantau island.

Hi friends! We just went to Hong Kong and back, with our two ninjas in tow. Ashton's first time taking a plane. Can you believe we made it unscathed!
With the SGD-HKD exchange rate still at an attractive 1: 6.05, and with HK's summer sale still on-going, it's little wonder why so many of our friends are in HK around the same time as us.
Instead of categorising our trip according to days, I decided to group the truckload of photos according to our activities. Warning: all the photos could hurt your eyes!
The boys waiting at the airport before boarding Cathay Pacific.

The playground at Terminal 1 is awesome! Parents can have their meals in peace while the kids get busy.

Landed safely in HK. Reached our hotel. If you're wondering where to stay in HK Kowloon, my colleague recommended to me, and we highly recommend Langham Place hotel. It is conveniently situated at Mongkok, a stone's throwaway from MTR station and lots of street shopping like Argyle Centre and H&M.

Being frequent travellers to HK because my relatives stay there, we have stayed in many different hotels before. Among all the hotels we have stayed at, I would say the staff at Langham Place are very accommodating and service was excellent.
We were provided complimentary breakfast which is uncommon in HK hotels, and were granted late checkout on our last day due to our late flight timing.
Even the bellboys were very knowledgeable about directions and have suggestions for us on where to go / visit.

Even my in-laws, first-timers to HK who barely speak any Cantonese, had no problems communicating with the good people at Langham Place. Definitely thumbs up!!

Thank you Langham Place for making our stay nothing but pleasant.

Getting dressed and ready to head out to Disneyland as our first stop on our Day 1.

Took the MTR as all of us could not fit into 1 taxi. So convenient.

At the Disney line MTR.

Reached Disneyland. The weather was SUPER SCORTCHING hot can!! Until we all were starting to see stars. Reminded me of St Kildas beach in Melbourne during the hottest days of Summer.
Holy cow.
The kids couldn't endure the blazing heat especially Adam who was looking super irritated the whole time so we made a U-turn and headed to Disney Hotel for some drinks to cool down.

Super disappointed because this trip was 50% for the kids to visit Disneyland!!! Arghhhhh :(
Adam kept asking to meet Mickey Mouse and gang (as I showed him photos from his 1st HK trip).
Bummer max max max.

"No fish, prawn also can" pleasssee. At the lobby of Disney Hotel. At least we escaped the heat and managed a family shot.
Since we had time to kill, next stop: going to Lantau Island.

At the 360 Cable Car station.

Not the China Golden Week, but can you see the snaking queue behind Adam?
We ended up queuing for 2 bloody hours just to get onto one cable car.

The Crystal Cabin had better make all the waiting worth it. If you have plans on taking a cable car ride to Lantau Island, the Crystal Cabin carriage is about SGD$10 more expensive than normal cabin, but the queue for it is slightly longer than for the latter.

Ok, that's all for this post.
Will share about our experiences shopping and eating in my next post, especially about trying Michelin-star restaurants. Stay tuned :)  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My 4 year-old is going to be the death of me.

Took the day off today to send Adam to school and do a little bit of luggage packing.
We had a minor scare yesterday. Adam's teacher called me to inform that they saw 2 ulcers in his mouth and we were told to fetch him home.
Good Lord, not on the eve of the eve of our holiday, surely?!
I brought him to the doctor's, and because he wasn't running a fever and there were no rashes on his body or limbs, we were given the clear to return to school today.
Here he is at the back of my car. He's very happy when I told him "no need to take school bus today, Mummy will send you" :)

Waiting around for temperature-taking and daily checks by the teachers.

Queuing in line for assembly at 8:30AM.

He's next class neighbours with my niece Noelle.

Well, it's not the ulcer-scare that's making me on the verge of crying.
I received disturbing news from Adam's form teacher this morning. She gave feedback that there are times when Adam misbehaves and is disruptive to the class, for example, there were occasions where he played by himself and laughed loudly during lessons and did not comply with Teacher's instructions.
His teacher was worried that I would get angry and assured me that so far he has not been to a Naughty Corner yet.
I reassured her that it was perfectly Ok for him to be punished or disciplined if he misbehaves again, and told her to go ahead and be more firm with him.
At swimming lessons, I too, observe him sometimes not paying attention to what Desmond is telling the kids to do and I have to repeatedly march over and give him a stern warning.
I told Andy about these incidents and Hubby's response? "If there's such a thing as a Naughty Chair or Naughty corner, then Adam must have slept in the Naughty Cot since Day 1 of life".
Good gosh. If he's like this as a 4 year-old, I don't know how to deal with him when he's a teenager.
I swear, this child is going to be the death of me.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Baby Ashleigh's 1st Birthday

Today it rained a little so swimming was out. We left Ashton with my in-laws and headed to Downtown East, where we bunked Adam at Explorer Kids for an hour.
That gave us a golden hour of peaceful, uninterrupted breakfast at Coffee Bean.
After that, we had a party to attend.
Our neighbours Iris and Garren's baby girl, Ashleigh, turned ONE so we went along to join in the fun :)
Ashleigh is born 2 weeks earlier than Ashton, and both babies share the same first 3 letters of their names.
my pretty neighbour Iris and the birthday girl Ashleigh

Mummies and our A-babies.

Ashton and Adam. Just brought Adam for a haircut yesterday just in time for our HK trip next week.

Why do you look so fierce, baby?

My next-door neighbours Peifen and her brood.

A hit with the kids - everybody say BOUNCY! Best $200 spent at a kid's party, ever.

HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY Ashleigh!
Hugs & kisses from Adam and Ashton :)
p.s. Adam will be having his National Day celebration and Sports Day in school next Wednesday and we'll be flying off to Hong Kong that very evening. Yes, we're bringing both kids. *sweat*
Thankfully, my in-laws are going with us. Phew~
I'm still packing their stuff sporadically and I've bought more clothes for them than I ever would throughout the entire time spent overseas.
So many "in case" stuff to pack!! So hardcore. zzzZzzz

Monday, July 29, 2013

Less is more: achieving that dewy look.

My poor Adam is down with fever for 2 days in a row now, and I foresee it's gonna be another long night of sponging, temperature taking and Panadol-feeding.

I decided to use this time to do a bit of blogging and found some backlogged photos of my recently purchased mineral foundation. Makeup is seldom talked about on my blog, not because I don't apply makeup, but because my makeup regime is mostly barely there.
I'm lazy and my mornings are crazy. And I'm a sucker for the dewy, un-made up look.

My package from Everyday Minerals arrived in the mail!

From left to right: Matte base mineral foundation, concealer, and Kabuki brush.

Everyday Minerals foundation coverage:

Although it is in powder form, I am surprised at the amount of coverage it provides even when used alone.
I use it alone on days when I want to let my skin breathe, and over Maybelline liquid foundation on days I need more coverage.

If used alone, I first apply a thin layer of sunscreen makeup base, then I use concealer on my freckles and dark circles.
After that, I use the Kabuki brush to pick up the powder, and then press on gently but firmly on the middle of my face and slowly dust in a circular outward motion.
Repeat the steps on entire face until desired coverage is achieved.

I like that it doesn't clog pores and plus I'm a big fan of mineral and natural makeup stuff... so... I'm quite easily sold on this one.

I've only used Everyday Minerals for as long as I can remember as my mineral powder foundation and have never tried other brands from Sephora because I'm very happy with EDM.

 Next up, I would like to share with you my favourite drugstore brands of basics:
Bourjois concealer stick in 1 shade lighter than my normal skin tone; MAC concealer in NW25 (1 shade darker than my skin tone); Maybelline Dream Matte mousse foundation, and lastly, Maybelline Pure Eraser Mineral liquid foundation.

Maybelline Pure Eraser Mineral liquid foundation coverage:

 It's very sheer and does little to provide you any coverage, if at all.
However, I am into my 4th tube now, and I love it as a base for my EDM powder when I need extra-lasting coverage from morning till dusk and no touch-up.
Plus, it comes with SPF27 PA+++ so I can basically skip sunscreen.
I like that it comes in a twist tube with a sponge applicator for easy application.
Firstly, I apply dots on my forehead, nose, and cheeks and blend with a separate sponge.
Just a small amount goes a long way because after that I will still dust on my EDM powder.
Once blended onto my skin, I apply concealer: the darker shade first on the freckles and dark circles, then lighter shade on top to achieve the shade closest to my skin tone.

Once concealer is applied, I dust on my EDM powder to set but I use lesser amount than I would if I used EDM alone.
 Next, my new purchase from Watsons: Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse foundation.
I bought this simply because I was itchy-backside and wanted to try something new.

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse foundation coverage:
 Due to its mousse texture, the application can be tricky but the trick is to start off with as little as possible and build your coverage up.

It provides more coverage than Maybelline Pure Eraser mineral foundation, but the downside is that it does not provide SPF and also, it doesn't look as natural as EDM or Pure Eraser foundation due to its thicker coverage.

But I would use it for functions and dinners.

Yeap so that's all to my barely make-up face.

I like drug store brands for the convenience since I hardly go to town.
I also like fuss-free make up that do not take up a lot of my precious time in the mornings.
 Now it's time to tend to Adam again. He's coughing non-stop and lost his voice.
Vomited some phlegm out, twice, in the span of my typing this post.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that Ashton does not fall sick too.

I'm ready to crash.
 Good night!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

No-maid: Week 2.

We've been through several more biodata, but still couldn't find a suitable candidate. As it's now the Hari Raya fasting month followed by Raya itself, it's hard to get an Indonesian now.
We looked at Myanmese maids but most of them are very fussy and not willing to look after babies and young children.
Sometimes I wonder whether these maids are genuinely here to earn a living or to have an all-expenses paid holiday. Throw in free medical checkups every 6-monthly.

We showed some interview video clips to Adam, and he had explicitly declared that he does not want another maid.

It's hard to blame him I guess, especially when our previous maid liked to mimic the children crying or whining.
Or when she starts singing out-of-tune music. It makes him extremely annoyed.
When we sent her off to the airport, he wasn't sad or emotional or sad at all.

Right now, we're still trying to find the balance between work, family and housework.
Everyday is like a race against time - soaking and washing kids' clothes, adult clothes, boil water, mop the floor once every 2 days, wash and sterilise bottles, prepare Adam's uniform and school bag.
We've engaged a part-time maid to come in on Sunday when Adam is at swim class, to do the major chores like scrubbing toilets and general cleaning.

I've never been one to baby-talk to my children, and I always make it a point to listen to Adam's opinions and decisions, especially when it comes to family matters.
I feel it is important to respect and listen to our children's needs, so when Adam resisted the idea of having another maid, Andy & I discussed it and decided to KIV the maid plan for now.

I just hope I can continue to cope! What worries me is when the time comes for me to supervise Adam's school-work or attend to Ashton's growing needs, I cannot split myself into so many persons.

AIYO my slitty-eyed baby Ashton Tan Tian Yang.

Mr Adam Tan Tian Kai #likeabigboss

Adam snapped a photo of me using my Canon Powershot. This boy loves taking photos, just like me!
I'm about to go wash the kids' clothes :P
It sure is exhausting as hell, but the smiles on my children's faces make my daily fight and struggles worth while. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Story about my maid, and how I manage without live-in help.

When my maid initially told me she did not intend to extend her WP but instead wanted to go back to Indonesia, I was in a panic.
Who was going to get the chores done?
Who was going to help out with the kids? Especially at meal times with family and friends?
Who was going to keep tabs on the perishables in the household?

However, when push comes to shove, you will somehow find your inner strength.
It's been a week without maid for us now.

On retrospect, I thought of the advantages of having live-in help, but also examined the cons of it.

Advantages of live-in help:

- Housework is taken care of, obviously.

- Can spend the time on kids instead of doing chores.

- Having an extra pair of hands at home who can help to receive parcels / deliveries / open door for groomer to pickup & dropoff Mavy / etc.

Disadvantages of live-in help:

Ever heard of the saying "Too many cooks spoil the soup"?
This is what happens when you have 3 women overseeing to the care of your children and household: my MIL, helper and I.
Whenever an instruction has to be passed down, it must be repeated at least twice to the different people. There is also miscommunication, the most common being "I dunno Mam, Ah Ma didn't tell me".
Sometimes, I feel that rather than instructing over and over, it would be faster to accomplish the task myself.

Initially, she was quite good in her work and attitude.
But subsequently, she started getting lazy and even started comparing with other maids on her off days (her friends / relatives who work as maids in Singapore).

- She told me her ex-employer would often drive her and another maid (they had 2 maids) up to KL where their 2nd property was.

- She also said her cousin, who has been working in a family in Singapore for 10 years, is very lucky as her employers bring her travelling on their family trips. Most recently to Hong Kong.

- She told my MIL that her friend, who just came to work in Singapore as a maid, is getting $500/mth with 1 day off per week.

- More things got damaged / lost in the span of her living with us than without.

- Detergents and soap get used up more quickly because she is quite wasteful.

In the grand scheme of things, such matter may seem trivial, but they can indeed be helluva annoying.

So how do I cope without a maid?
- I do the chores in instalments - when the kids are sleeping / when Andy is playing with them.

- I buy diapers / milk powder and household detergents in bulk so that I do not have to frequently keep tabs on them running out.

- Andy helps out in the night when we are all asleep because he sleeps late while I sleep early.

And introducing.... a mighty hardworking machine called Rainbow:

Child labour

Sucking every nook and corner

Rainbow comes equipped a special nozzle for washing of mattresses, and an assortment of other brushes / nozzles which have bristles made of horse hair.
Short of performing kinky favours, it pretty much does everything from mopping of floor to cleaning of mattress to purifying the air.