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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

(2036) Paris 2016

Day 0: flight kix-inc
Short 2 hr flight, movie only watched halfway fathers and daughters. Bb slept most of it. 
2 hrs at inc airport. Lots of shops but nothing seems cheap. Note to self- Gate 48 has no wifi
Inc-cdg 
We got like a lousy old plane with videos set to repeat in 17 channels. B-777!!? 12 hours, I watched Brooklyn/我的少女时代 on continuous repeat and read 3 books. 
Zzz I hope this is not the case for the return flight. Even the short 2 hour kix-inc flight had better equipment. Asiana's food was almost 5stars until we got dinner. Unappetizing and tasted like airplane food. Happy to get the last rows but the korean obachan kept using my seat to stretch. (-.-!) CAs were very polite and helpful. 
Reached cdg at last at about 6.40pm got out of airport at 7.30? Cab ride to city took about an hour due to jams, cost €55 fixed rate. Driver was polite and helpful. 
Apartment was tinier than expected but at least all 3 of us fit on the bed.
 We unpacked whatever we could to maximise the space and finally showered and went to bed at about 11pm. Sun only set at 9.30pm! 

Day 1: We woke up at 5am, had cup noodles for breakfast, checked mails, got changed and finally left the house at 8.30am. Was supposed to collect the pocket wifi at the post office but it was closed! A lady saw us pacing the entrance of the post office and stopped to help us. She told us it was a holiday that day .. (Whit monday) argh! So we had to make do with no wifi and a map that was still open in my google maps to make our way towards Jardin du luxembourg. On our way, we saw a eric kayser and bought some bread in our terrible french and big smiles. Most pple were friendly to us. (Perhaps bb being there helped). Sat in a small garden of Musee Cluny to eat and watch a cat. 

Jardin du luxembourg - The gardens were huge. Lots of joggers and police. random chasing bb ard and then we headed towards the children's area. Playground was expensive so we gave it a miss. €1,90/ child and €2.50 /adult! We gave bb a ride on the pony instead (€3,50) . 
After that we headed out of the park for lunch. There was supposed to be a
Cafe in bonpoint but it's closed. ended up browsing and overspending a crazy amount of money on the softest and lightest piece of leather jacket EVER! I can only think luckily there was some tax refund... Found a good place for lunch, where the waiters were friendly to bb. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187147-d2215946-Reviews-Au_Chai_de_l_Abbaye-Paris_Ile_de_France.html) Trudged up and down Saint Germaine and we found ippudo! I guess we have to fulfil our one ippudo per country mission, now that we've found it. We'll head back on our last few days. We had the best crepes at La creperie des canettes. After traipsing up and down Saint Germaine, we finally found Monoprix on our way back, and did some grocery shopping. Took a train back, (4stops) and a scary looking man helped me opened the train door (the switch was manual) to exit. But he smiled at me when I thanked him (merci!) and hedidn't look so scary anymore :) 
We reached back at our apartment at abt 6+pm, I dropped for a nap and finally woke up at about 1am.. I think i'll go to bed now..

Day 2: This is what happens when you don't record the days as it happens. I don't remember the order of our events anymore. But I'll try to piece the days together from our photos.

We woke up at 6am again. Ate homecooked noodles and finally got our pocket wifi after some conf calls. The day was sunny and warm. We headed to Marcel (http://www.restaurantmarcel.fr/) at Montmartre for brunch and it was a great place! Friendly to bb and the food was good. Incidentally, it was near sacre ceour and I've never been there so we slowly made our way there after lunch. We could see Eiffel tower from the Sacre Ceour viewpoint, and the church was very majestic. Found a free (?) carousel and playground when we walked down from Sacre Ceour so we let bb chase the birds and play for a while. After that, we all urgently needed the loo so we had to buy some food in Pret A manger to get the toilet code to enter. After that, we walked from MontMartre area to Opera area to find the apple store because my cable was spoilt. The store was amazing! except no loos... Luckily, there was Galeries Lafayette, loos were clean and spacious and free! We walked around the shops slowly until they closed and made quite a few purchases. No one was really hungry so we just headed home for some light dinner and then bed.

Day 3: Found a market near our apartment from the Markets in Paris book, so we headed there (Moffartard Market). It was a row of shops, from fresh food to rotisseries to cafes and bookstores. We bought some books for bb, and some poulet and porc for dinner and ate lunch at a place called La Verre A Pied. It was very homecooked food, and not too expensive and again - friendly to bb. Went home to put down our shopping and headed back out to the Notre Dame area to find the bookstore Shakespeare and Co. (https://shakespeareandcompany.com/) It's a super old bookstore, but they've put up a cafe beside it, so it's very crowded and touristy now.

We were supposed to head to the LV store at St Germain des Pres to get my back but it turns out that the bag was only available at Champs Elysee and it was raining heavily suddenly so quite a drag to be walking around. With only 1 piece available in Paris, I decided it was too much of a risk to wait so we went down by metro and the store was saying they couldn't find that bag even though their inventory system said it was there. No loo to be used there as well and the sales assistant said she would try to find the item again and after much waiting, she found it!! YAY! she checked the label and said it was only in that morning which was why there was much confusion of where it was. PHEW... the rain was still very heavy when we left so we sat at Mcdonalds for a while (to use the loo as well) and let bb get a bite. In the end, we decided to just wait out the Uber surge pricing as well since we didn't want to lug the big box from LV around on the subway as well.

Day 4: Mission to get Antik Batik stuff for A. Again.. rainy day after we were out. We went into a michelin guide restaurant Le Ferrandaise (because we walked past it before) and took their 3-course set and a mini lunch set for bb (came up to 37+37+16euros) . (http://www.laferrandaise.com/) The food was so-so but service good.

It was still raining so we headed to Le Bon Marche. I thought I had maxed out my shopping so we basically went to find the elusive loo (3rd floor near tax free counter) and walked around. The Repetto store had a limited edition shoe (Darn it!!) and kept me thinking about it over the weekend. We spent most of the rest of the afternoon in the Epicerie to get souvenirs and food. Then we trekked about 4km back to our apartment from Le Bon Marche. Super sore legs and tired bb after that.

Day 5: My sis went to do the laundry early in the morning (because bb had run out of warm clothes - the weather was turning out colder than expected.) Just search for Laverie or laundry service in Google Maps. It was 4euros for 6kg and 1euro for 9 minutes of drying. This site pretty much sums it up : http://www.eurocheapo.com/blog/paris-tips-for-doing-laundry-in-paris.html
There's a list of laundromats: http://www.francetravelplanner.com/go/paris/shop/laundry.html

In the meantime, we waited for the plumber at home. The shower water was not flowing down the drain properly and we were tired of standing ankle deep in the dirty water every shower and worried about flooding the shower room. So I had informed the landlord and she asked the plumber to fix it. It took all of 10 minutes, for him to clean the drain hole of all the gross stuff. Bb tried to give the plumber a haribo for his work and he laughed and said "c'est gentil". Very funny haha.

After that, we headed to HolyBelly - near Gare d'L'est. There was a short queue, but luckily we were there early because after we went in the queue became very long. The food was asian/western fusion (http://holybel.ly/) and pretty refreshing, besides bb finishing up whatever I shared with her. After that we slowly walked to Place de la Republique, and bb spent some time feeding and chasing pigeons. We wandered down some jewellery wholesale street and also a street full of pastries, so we sat down and tried some cupcakes. Walked towards the Pompidou, saw Fontaine Stravinsky, and it was time to find a loo. Had no choice but to use the public loo. (It was erhhh..) Walked to Forum Des Halles, checked the Nike store but everything was more expensive than Japan. In the end we sat at Jardin du Forum Des Halles while bb climbed a giant sculpture called Ecoute. Found a kitchenware store so we went in to explore.

Somehow, we managed to walk to the Lourve at about 5pm so we let bb feed the pigeons and ducks and took pictures. Again - we would have loved to sit there for a longer time but there were no loos and we headed to a nearby Mcdonalds for the free loo. LONG QUEUE! But I guess bb was hungry so we bought some fries and rested there abit, while waiting for the Udon place Kunitoraya to open. (http://www.kunitoraya.com/) 17Euros per bowl of udon! My sister's noodles had good soup, but curry udon was abit weak. Apparently the street was all Asian food, there were some other udon/ramen shops there as well as korean food. We headed back by metro, because it was almost 9pm. (Despite the sun not set yet..)

Day 6: Woke up early again and we headed to Cafe Pouchkine at St Germain des Pres (from the Japanese guidebook)  (http://cafe-pouchkine.fr/). It turned out to be a Russian cafe, and we had brunch (quite expensive..) The food was pretty good though. We sat there for about 2 hours, then started heading to the museum areas.

Headed to the Lourve again (it was the night of free museum visits) but because we wanted to buy the souvenir mug (requested by hb). This time we went by the tulleries way, and spent some time in the carrousel shops and museum shop. We wanted to get some food at Mcdonalds but turns out it was pretty expensive compared to Mcdonald's outside the Lourve. So bb fell asleep at the table, my sis got hungry after a while and we decided to get afternoon tea at Mariage Freres.  (http://www.mariagefreres.com/FR/adresses.html) It was expensive but very yummy. The pot of tea we ordered kept us there for 2-3 hours. (bb did her writing since she said she didn't want to eat) And they provided free coupons to use the Lourve loo (it costs 1.50euros otherwise) so ask the staff before heading to the loo.

After that we fed pigeons at Jardin des Tulleries until it was time to head to Musee d'Orsay for the free entry. There was such a long queue! but mainly due to the bag checks. Otherwise it was quite smooth and we had a chance to finally visit this wonderful museum for free. There was a live orchestra performance as well. We finally ended our museum visit at 9pm and took the metro home. Bb fell asleep halfway through her udon. It's been a long day for her :)

Day 7: Sunday - Bastille market day. It was a super rainy day. Bb insisted on using my umbrella so I had to depend on my hood of the leather jacket. Now I know why everyone wears leather in Paris. For the unpredictable showers ... There were some amazing oysters, had some mussels and crepes. bb didn't have much breakfast so we got her an orange juice and Pain au chocolat. We wanted to go to the park but the rain got so heavy we had to head home (me sans umbrella). It was quite miserable.

Rested a while in room until dinner time and we headed down to Rue Moffatard for dinner. Chez Ann (https://www.facebook.com/Chez-ann-sisters-325481027498407/) It was a Chinese hand pulled noodle shop, and only 10euros for their set meals. Very good find on a rainy and wet day. Their guo tie was great! Bb insisted to take the umbrella when it started raining again and I got so fedup.

Day 8: Woke up feeling feverish .. (think it was the rain :(.. ) but we were supposed to get to Le Bon Marche for my blue green repettos! (http://www.lebonmarche.com/produit/190131_ballerines-a-rayures-cendrillon.html) We took the train there (seeing that it was a horribly wet day again) and ended up buying not just 1 pair. At about noon, we went to the Rose Bakery next to the shoes section and got the last 3 seats, and suddenly the queue built up. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g187147-d189255-r156655769-Le_Bon_Marche_Rive_Gauche-Paris_Ile_de_France.html) The lunch was quite organic and brown.. not great for me, but bb seemed to have enjoyed it, albeit in a slow slow way. The peanut butter chocolate cake was good! but my sore throat feverish feeling didn't add to the enjoyment i guess. After lunch, we continued shopping, bought some stuff here and there in the dept store before heading to the tax free area.

We headed for home at around 4pm, by train, then later on to see the Phildar shop (turns out to be a clothes/yarn shop instead of yarn) near our place. Also, we discovered a pharmacy, which was great and got some cough drops plus we discovered throngs of Koreans crazily buying cough syrup and other products off the shelves (like avent, avene etc) Bb went to feed pigeons at Place Monge and we took turns to go into the store.

Day 9: Had medicine the night before so was feeling half ok. We slept in cos I'm sick. Finally we woke up and headed to Ippudo Paris for lunch. http://www.ippudo.fr/ It was good, tasted like the real thing, but no sides like the spicy beansprouts and tea. Basic ramen was 13 Euros. There's a Japanese staff, and some french staff who could speak Japanese. Service was good, think they are still in their training phase. We went at 12noon, opening time, so we headed in without a queue but the place filled up very quickly. After that, we headed out and wandered around that area, (Mont St Michel?) and headed home for my sis to pack. I napped for a bit after medication and the whole day was quite wasted. My sister left in a uberx cab to Gare du Nord and we were left to fend for ourselves for dinner. I went to the supermarket, found some coconut water to reduce the heatiness and also a slab of fish to make into some sort of stew to eat with our rice. Maybe bb was hungry as well, she asked for more rice and ate 2 dishes of it. (I think she thought it was curry)

Day 10: We went down to La Creperie Josselin at last. It was abit of a longish train ride, and bb started wailing when she didn't get to open the train door via the manual handle. So whiny... and overdramatic. http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/france/paris/restaurants/reviews/la-creperie-josselin-483740 The service was good, and it was actually very empty, maybe because it was a weekday afternoon, about 2pm? It was so empty we were the only customers left inside at a point, and we sat there slowly eating the lunch set and then drinking tea after. Since daylight was until 9pm, there was no rush, we slowly made our way to the Eiffel Tower at about 4+pm. It was a 40minutes walk with abit of a rest in between when bb saw a park and wanted to run in it. We had no intention of climbing the tower so we basically headed for the loo queue the moment we reached there. Think we waited about 30 minutes or more. I blame the tea. After that we sat on the grass in front of the tower for 40 minutes or so, and just did nothing for a while. At about 7pm, we finally decided to leave, and luckily, there was a direct train to our apartment.

Day 11: We woke up 8++, I had work calls, then we had pasta with sausages for breakfast to try to use up all the fresh food in the fridge. Bb asked for pasta surprisingly, so we had a filling meal before we headed out. I didn't have any plans on where to go at first, until I remembered we haven't gone to the cemetery. Pere Lachaise cemetery was on my list of places to go but it was all rainy and quite far so we didn't have the chance to go until today which surprisingly turned out to be very sunny.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A8re_Lachaise_Cemetery) We alighted at Gambetta station via advice from wiki, which was really a good move as we were moving downhill most of the way and bb didn't complain too much. But, because it wasn't the main gate, there was no map, I couldn't look at the signboard because another woman was hogging it, so we were really just strolling through the cemetery. We finally managed to chance upon Jim Morrison's tombstone, by following a group of students, and accidentally upon the grave of one of the victims from the terror attacks at Bataclan last November. Most people who happened upon the grave paused for a few seconds, perhaps with thoughts of RIP and OMG.. and with renewed vigour to live life to the fullest. We strolled around the cemetery until bb happened to chance upon the loo at the right moment. Beyond that it was actually near the entrance already. It was about 3+pm, semi peckish, but I wasn't sure what there was to see nearby. In the end, we slowly walked toward a bus stop, to take our first ever bus trip in Paris, to head back towards our side of the river.

We took bus 69, and it was quite interesting. The ride cost the same as a metro ride, except you could look at the scenery. I originally wanted to stop near the Musee d'Orsay, but the bus stopped at somewhere near to Pont Neuf which we haven't been yet so we hopped off, and strolled towards the Seine where there were the secondhand book sellers along the left/right bank. There were alot of children's books! and the old books were in great condition. I really regret not having the luggage space to bring them home... but what would I do with all the French books? We strolled past a Thai food place, a cute dog with it's cute owners, the Palais de Justice, until we reached Shakespeare & Co, and we sat at the cafe next to it to have crepe/profiteroles because bb said she was hungry. It was only about 4pm and too far from dinner. The only problem with only the 2 of us around is that we can't leave our stuff at the table when bb said she needed the loo. We strolled to the Notre Dame cathedral after we finished our food and sat around for a while watching roller bladers and people queuing to enter, and listening to the church bells chime at 5.30pm. Craving for some thai food, but the restaurant only was opening at 7pm, it was still 6pm, so we decided to head back and cook up the rest of our food in the fridge instead. Also, to pack, because we will head for Dijon tomorrow!

Friday, April 15, 2016

(2035) The grass always seems greener on the other side

Here I am, watching my child through a glass panel while waiting for her to finish her swimming lessons in the middle of a Thursday. I am surrounded by mostly mothers, two grandmothers, a father. I have always wondered, how do women working full-time in Japan handle parenting responsibilities, such as after school activities, if they are not lucky enough to have a grandparent live near them?

The past two years at my child's preschool required so much weekday parental involvement (which is usually fulfilled by mothers) in their school activities such as Sports Day, Halloween party, Christmas party, etc. where parents are expected to help the school put up decorations, plan decorations and costumes and so on, that I'm amazed the working mums of my child's classmates still kept their jobs.  True enough, at the end of the first year, 2-3 mums in the class had thrown in the towel and resigned to be full time stay-at-home mothers. I was so fed-up with all the volunteering expected of parents that I decided not to register for kindergarten. I would rather piece together some form of education with classes like dance/swim + some home schooling than feeling the pressure that I'm not contributing enough to the school. 

I am lucky (and of course very thankful) to have established a work-from-home full time arrangement with my previous/current employer, and I have been able to do this for the past 7 years, including the past 3 years after my child was born. It was a struggle juggling both motherhood and work at first, but it was partly my own hardheadedness that forced me to carry on - I wanted the best of both worlds and did not want to miss out on any part of my child's first few years and I did not feel that paying for childcare was justifiable with me working from home full time. Also, horror stories about the waiting list to get into childcare in Japan (see
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/07/national/angry-blog-post-sparks-movement-for-improved-day-care/#.Vw-iHKSLTiA) was enough to deter me from even trying to apply for a vacancy in childcare.

I have always received either disbelieving looks or amazed reactions from people who hear I'm a work from home full time mother but having been in this situation for the past 3+ years, I can only say, I did what I had to. (Our mothers ran full households with more children without help in the past.)  Perhaps the motivation to look strong overcame whatever hurdles I actually encountered. However, I was getting burnt out, with both work and being a mum, and this style of work meant that I was forever a contract worker, doomed to a life with no career progression. There were too many late night calls, and too much OT when we had to meet project deadlines and work life balance was at an all-time low. I was dreading to wake up in the morning and when I got the news that our team was not getting a contract extension from our client, it was almost a relief, because it meant that I did not have to resign, but to just wait for the end to come.

Finally, I felt that my guilt about not paying full attention to my child was somewhat alleviated, I could let her run in the park without looking at my watch the whole time thinking "let's go, I have a call in an hour!" I had time to recharge, and enjoy my hobbies but of course, without a salary, my spending power was much reduced. I now have all the time in the world to worry about the lack of money to spend. I used to envy full time mothers for their 100% time availability, but now I can’t help but wonder how they coped on single incomes with their daily strolls which almost always inevitably ended up at cafes. Perhaps they had always been envious of me having work and income while seemingly enjoying full-time motherhood. I missed interaction with my ex-colleagues, and although there’s no missing the late night calls, I had become a habitual late sleeper and it was very difficult to wake up on school days.

All the online fights about who has it harder – stay at home mums or working mums – seems irrelevant after having tried being both. The working mums have lots of time to themselves, but they miss most of their children’s antics being at work, while at night they are too tired to enjoy time with their kids. The stay at home mums get to witness their children’s growth but have a ton of other household worries and are always wishing to have more time to themselves. No one has it better, every mother has it as hard; and the grass will always look greener on the other side as we struggle to get to the next day in one piece and alive.

I am glad that Im back in the workforce, and my worries are back in the realm of “will the weekend please come soon!” I am trying harder to worry less about time, even with work, because I am the adult, and I should be the one who makes my schedule work and not be rushing the child through every activity. The new job has given me most evenings free, no more late-night calls, and I get some quality time both to myself and with my child who has learnt to be largely independent in entertaining herself. With some planning, I squeeze most of the calls in the same days so that I can have at least one call-free day each week to focus on the homeschool or have an outing together. The grass might still look greener on the other side on some days, but for now, our own grass is green enough for me. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

二千三十一: Tiny Books for Tiny Folks

I've been working hard to launch this idea I had, and it's finally up!

Tiny Books for Tiny Folks

I was looking for English books for bb in the public library and the library had only 1 miserable shelf of books so I was forced to buy books for bb instead. and I thought - other mums who are looking for english picture books must be having the same problem - books are expensive, we are running out space to put them, and once they grow up the books have to be disposed of, why don't I be the library since I bought so many books already anyway?

so here we are, the library. The price is super reasonable, can you sacrifice a 1000yen lunch a month to just pay for borrowing 5 books to read to your child? (including postage back and forth) really, it's barely covering postage, and a little bit of funding for books, I'm not even earning anything out of it after all expenses. We have currently more than 270 books - take a look at the catalog here:
https://tinybooks.libib.com/i/tiny-books-for-tiny-folks

The Facebook page is here:
https://www.facebook.com/tinybookstinyfolks/

The basic service is up and running, registration -> reservations -> loans & returns, monthly newsletters, and I'm trying to have more members before we do more ($$$ is not unlimited). So.. If you live in Japan and are looking for a cheaper alternative to read lots of English books to your child without buying lots and lots of books, do check my site out!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

二千二十九: In Between Employment

First official month of unemployment.

It was kind of therapeutic, I could fetch bb without the stress of having to rush back for work, we could take our time walking, I stopped shouting at her so much to hurry up. We went to Legoland, her school's halloween party, tried to bake more.

We also did bb's 七五三 because her grandparents insisted.. it was an expensive affair (about 60,000yen??) . Photoshoot at the studio including rental of her kimono, she enjoyed the hair and makeup but refused to smile at the camera and doing the Chandler look thing whenever the cameraman told her to smile. In the end, she looked the same in all the photos so we just picked one of it to give to her grandparents. The family picture looked ok. so we just took one of us 3. In the temple, we took more pictures with my camera, nothing really good since the camera was not in very good condition. We paid another 10,000yen for the prayers process - parents/kids all went up into the temple area to get blessed by the priest with chants of "good health and good studies" . Quite interesting, but to a very cynical me, all these "traditions" have become too commercialized. All are just opportunities to get money from the pampering parents, but what about not so rich kids? How will they feel if their parents cannot afford all these celebratory actions supposedly to uphold traditions? I would think that teaching the kids their heritage and the stories behind these traditions is more important than spending all these needless money taking photos and renting clothes every 3,5,7 years old for the sake of "tradition". But it's hard to argue with the elderly unless we escape to another country...

I tried to spend abit more time creating flashcards for bb to learn, especially Chinese words. I'm very keen for her to be able to read and write Chinese, no matter how basic, because China is going to be a global superpower and why pay money to learn as an adult when she has all the practice she can get with family? English is ok with school, but I'll have to put in more effort teaching her next year when school ends. She's already muttering in Japanese when she plays with her toys at home so I think her other languages will be taking a backseat unless I aggressively continue to practise with her.

Finally got my first certificate from Coursera. I was waiting at the station for bb during her ballet classes and just reading and thought to use the time listening to the lectures as well, and earned an Introduction to Philosophy certificate.

There was also bb's school sports' day which was quite fun (we didn't participate last year as we went to Hawaii).  But not sure what the fuss is about that people need to go and snatch for floor space early. They did some mass exercises, parent-student competitions etc., a very mild version of the real sports day in normal Japanese schools. At the end of the day, all the kids received a medal and a packet drink.

Also managed to wean bb off the ipad by deleting the youtube app. Added quite a few more educational apps instead. Since she couldn't watch Youtube, she started using the apps to draw etc, and I set the no ipad during mealtimes rule so she stopped watching the ipad with her meals. She does however, keep turning around to watch the tv..


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

二千二十八: R&R

Hooray! Holiday time!

We headed for Bali on 2-Sep, stayed at Seminyak at Mutiara Resort, in a 1-bedroom villa and it was pretty good! Daily breakfast for 2 cooked by a staff member in our kitchenette, and with a small pool in the villa, bb got all the swimming she wanted and we went to bed every night at 11pm somehow (I didn't even swim much so the reason for this is a mystery to me except that maybe the bed and aircon made me super comfortable). Mum, my sis & Calvin joined us for about 5 days of the trip and bb was happy to join mum to bed most of the nights which allowed us to sleep soundly for a few nights at least and have her out of our hair. It was hot, but very clear blue skies for all 10 days, and the roads were super dusty. Food was extremely cheap, but being in the tourist stretch, the food was slightly more expensive by Bali standards but still cheap nevertheless. We ate so much food every day just because we wanted to try all the different places at the low prices with good taste. By the last 2-3 days, everyone got a cold though and the flight back felt hellish (bad sore throat, bad fever, bad nose...). Luckily Garuda was a pretty good airline, at least food was good and movies were abundant to choose from.

After the holiday, I had to face the reality of not having to be online all the time to be "at work" and that my time was mostly mine (I still had to fulfill my final month of work contract). It was fantastic! I had time to read, I had time to clean up the house (just more than before) and I had time to check up materials to make to teach bb all the basic stuff in preparation for our home schooling foray next year. I also had time to catch up on my dramas online and also to think about what I wanted to do for the next few months mainly.

For the birthday this year, not much planned, just had a quiet lunch at eternite with Ryo the day before. After lunch, we just walked around the shops abit, bookstores etc before going back to pick bb up. On my real birthday, it was just bringing bb for her jab and my dental appointment haha. Old age... birthdays get less and less eventful.

Monday, August 31, 2015

二千二十七: 8 years 8 months

Last month working with the UAT team.
It's been 2007 Jan - 2015 Aug = 8 years 8 months. Colleagues became friends, and most of us were about the same age so we all went through life stages together - marriage, kids.
The main sadness is because the team of colleagues/friends will not be working together anymore. (T.T) 
This last month is more of just making sure the team from the other company taking over our jobs have everything they need (I don't think they will ever have what we have, experience). Although with all the unwillingness for this to end, a part of me couldn't wait for this to end as soon as possible. So that I can stop all the late night work, so that I can stop being so impatient with bb, so that I can pay more attention to bb, so that I can pay more attention to my hobbies and myself and also maybe to Ryo, and so that I can have a good rest from working overall. It wasn't easy to be sacrificing so many nights every time there was a release due to horrible work by engineering, with our last minute shortened test schedules. It was easy before bb, because it was just my sleep, but with bb, it was all our schedules (Ryo had to stay up to look after bb who was staying up because I was up..) To tell the truth, I was also tired of doing the same thing day in day out. I dreaded waking up to work, especially during the test periods, and there was just no motivation anymore except not to let down my teammates. 
So the whole of August was spent waiting for the end to come. 
Outside of work, we had a road trip with our neighbours to Nagoya, over 16th-17th Aug, stayed at a nice place with a good bed (of course I KO asap as usual in a hotel room), saw Nagoya Castle and had a good dinner at an izakaya with lots of Nagoya specialties. We drove to a water park, which bb & Ryo enjoyed alot, but just an opportunity for me to laze around as I didn't feel like queuing for rides. 
There was also Bon-Odori at Meriken park. This year seemed to be a downsized version, with alot lesser food stalls and the neighbours had a new bb with them so it was hard to fully enjoy the event. 
End of August, James came for a conference and we had a chance to catch up. Feels like forever since I got back from SG, it was nice to have someone to chat with about what we're both doing at that time. 
With the reduction in work (and also lack of motivation overall at being jobless soon), I tried to bring bb out more, to legoland, to the shops, just out. Although once a week is more than enough, haha. 
September - time to grow another year older.... 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

二千二十二: Old Friends and a Holiday

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LokLok! - a Penang delicacy

After CNY, March was a slow month where I caught up with lots of old friends (>10years of friendship?). From uni, from JP, and I managed to take my first short break without bb!

in summary - because I'm blogging this in retrospective very very late:
- Met James / Shu Fen after like ... 12 years? I haven't met them properly since I left hall, besides James being at my wedding and although we are connected on facebook and we sort of know what's happening in all our lives, but it's just not the same as meeting up. Met the kids, met James' wife, had a good chat/playdate.
- Met Robert after 10 years? Last seen in Capcom until he resigned from his job, and I think he moved to Tokyo, and then by pure chance he was in SG for work so we met for dinner and drinks. Brought him to see the merlion, eat chicken rice, and basically took silly pictures today as tourists and had a good catchup.

Holiday!  I had to use up my miles by Dec-2014 so I redeemed my ticket to Penang since I haven't been there before. Umera was ok to go with me and she had a good friend who lived there and brought us around the whole time. (Thank you Ashley!) Penang was a fantastic place with good food. Lots of good food. We were eating all the time. I was supposed to facetime with bb in the night before bed but I kept forgetting, (oops...) but anyway she didn't seem to miss me so it was still ok. My parents and sisters kept her occupied and entertained very well! I'll definitely go again in future if I get a chance to.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

二千十九:A Warm & Cold Xmas

bb had her first ever performance. It was pretty fabulous, for 2 years old, (ok proud mum rambling on) but you can see for yourself.



After that, it was the last day of school on 12-Dec and we had to take off all the xmas deco from bb's classroom after school. It was a relief for school to end, so that I could have a holiday and bring bb to Singapore and no more fighting in the mornings to wear clothes and get ready for school.

We spent xmas and new year's day in Singapore. There was a few gift exchanges, etc, but seriously I abhor all the consumerism. You always get left with some stuff you don't know what to do with, although the really good friends will know exactly what to get which doesn't lead to waste. I appreciate all the sentiments, and of cos stuff for bb is always welcome, but I appreciate you making time to spend with me even more. A good meal treat is more than sufficient as a gift for sure.

This year was mild, and of course her godpa barely had time to spare for her. I kind of understand why we are shunned aside, now that he's attached. Because we're not as rich I guess.. and going out with us holds no benefit for him, unfortunately. What a materialistic world. I don't understand how spending time with a good friend living overseas will take time away from meeting with someone you meet with on almost a daily basis. But at least I met up with more friends this time, instead of prioritising my time for someone who didn't really want to meet. I had a good rest (from bb) with mum taking care of bb daily, put on some weight with lots of good SG food, had a taste of more normal working life in the office. I'll see everyone in Feb again, which is definitely too soon, but feels like it can't come soon enough. Although I know more of what to be doing this time. Spend more time with people who really care.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

二千十六:32

Oops.. forgot to do the post more so that I can read more in future.

First - the yearly birthday post.

Ryo made a big effort this year. I think it's sort of because I asked him (hinted?) a few weeks before the birthday if we could ask his parents to watch bb and kinda reminded him of my birthday. Then I saw the Cirque du Soleil advertisement and thought that since I haven't watched it before, why not? & asked Ryo if he was interested to watch and checked for seats on my birthday. Apparently tickets had been on sale since forever and there were not alot of seats left. Anyway, we took whatever best we could, and Ryo made secret arrangements for the lunch before the show. I wasn't feeling very upbeat about this birthday, to be honest, it was the first time I actually felt the pinch of getting old. Or just felt very jaded, tired, exhausted, blah blah etc. Because of bb? maybe. but it's just a combination of factors. I felt very underachieved, very unmotivated, very much felt like I'm wasting my life. I almost forgot that it was my birthday the next day until I got messages here and there from friends.

We went to Restaurant Varier (which accidentally happened to be just a short walk to the circus, because Ryo didn't know where the circus event was actually) and it turned out to be an almost 10 course lunch of french food. A very very very yummy lunch, it turns out, and bb was in the care of her grandparents, so we slowly ate, I could actually taste my food properly for a change. Alot of sweets and desserts towards the end & I got surprised by the candle on my cake. I'm not happy about my age but I did enjoy all the food. & I can always pretend to be 31 forever.

The Cirque du Soleil performance was amazing. It was alot of comedy and acrobatics mixed together, but no one seemed to really understand the miming or the acting of the performers. I was the only one laughing for most of it.

We went to Yodobashi to let me get my iphone 6 cover then we went back. Ryo went to pick the bb up from his parent's place, and I went home to try to make some dinner as we had to clean up the fridge of fresh food before the Hawaii trip. I had asked Ryo to call his parents ahead of time to tell them we didn't eat dinner, but as usual he ignored me and didn't call and they cooked alot of stuff but I was already cooking dinner also. super guilty.

Very mixed feelings.

I hope my thoughts clear up soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

二千十五:Looong weekend

It was a fantastic weekend!

I took leave on Friday because bb had her school excursion, so we went to Kawasaki World (all at Meriken Park so it was a convenient walk from home there in the morning.) I can only say it's not a great place for toddlers, not sure if they understood anything, more stressful for the mums to have to watch them in a public place. Since we are kinda preoccupied with watching our own kids, it was not really a good chance to interact with other mums. By lunch, almost all the mums and toddlers were exhausted, most were starting to throw tantrums, or wanted to nap. So we ascended Port Tower and bb suddenly began her tantrum. Whining, lying on the ground.. sheesh. With her teacher around I couldn't be more fierce, and was super exasperated.

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bb trying to sing?
After it ended, I had high tea with some Kobe mummies at the Kobe Oriental Meriken park hotel. Bb didn't nap as hoped, unfortunately, but at least she had fun with the other babies running around. (the high tea venue gave us some good seats with a space for the kids to run w/o disturbing other folks.) And finally, when we left the hotel, she fell asleep on the way home.

On Saturday, Ryo had to work, so I brought bb to the bear cafe and we had tea time together. She was kinda hungry I think, so she quietly ate bread while I read my book and ate my pastries. It was quite a good lazy afternoon. Ryo joined us after work for dinner and we went for some Korean food. BB had not napped so she was hyperactive during dinner and refused to sit and eat quietly so it was a very rushed dinner.

Sunday - we woke up late, and I was kinda thinking if we should go to Universal Studios. Since we had nothing planned, we decided to just head there. Even though it was 3+ pm when we reached, there was a Halloween event going on, and the park was opened till 10pm! BB enjoyed all the elmo items and toys all over the place, it was great fun for her, but of course the rides queues were crazy and she was still too young to enjoy most of the rides as well. The adults of course can't take any rides with a bb around, so we just enjoyed ourselves walking around the park and watching the performances. The zombies were quite cool, they were dancers in disguise, so everything the park blasted Thriller, they got into formation and danced on the streets.
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Sesame street performance
Yesterday, there was the SMAP concert. The last concert I went to was in 2005?? 10 years ago as well, but this is the first concert I successfully balloted via the official fan club ballot. It was quite fair I suppose, 9000yen (about S$130?) for each ticket and the system assigned seats. I was lucky to get the Arena seats - which was next next to the side stage, and just under their cranes, so my idol came so close overhead so many times!! It was fantastic, 4 hours long, and the Radwimps concert was a really quiet affair comparatively. The only thing was that the crowd was alot of obachans... and alot of grouchy obachans to say the least. bad experience with one of them, I would have pushed her down if she weren't so fat and anal. But that aside, I will definitely want to go again. IT WAS SUPER SUPER SUPER!

Last weekend, we went to a campsite at Awajishima for a stay at the log house with PS & Yusuke. We had bbq, fireworks, onsen, all in all a pretty good time, probably can make this an annual thing if possible!
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bb playing with sparklers

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