I Never Expire

June 28, 2017 in Commercial Break 4 Cheesed

I am 33 this year. Typing this alone gives me a little bit of a shock. Admittedly I have not really liked to mention about my age because I feel that doing this is putting a lot of limitation and attracting unnecessary stereotype on myself.

There was once, during an influencer selection for a campaign, I had to tick “NO” at the “are you under 30” column and then I was immediately rejected from the job HAHAHAHAHA. Ouch.

If only the world operates without the label of age. Imagine that! You will no longer need to shop for age-appropriate clothing, answer to your relatives why you are not married at 28 during CNY reunion dinners, have awkward “how old do you think I look” guesses, and hesitate to buy all the Hello Kitty stuff lol.

If I am not bound by the label of age, what do I want to do?

Oh boy… lots and lots. .

FIRST I WANT TO WEAR A FURISODE AND DO A 成人式 PHOTOSHOOT. It was a chance I missed a dream that can never come true… 😢)

(Furisode is style of kimono worn by young unmarried women in Japan, particularly for the Coming Of Age ceremony – Seijinshiki (成人式) at the age of 20 for a girl. It usually has very bright colors like red and pink, with cute embellishment. I wore it for a tourism job last year and the kimono shop owner said that it is an exception only because I was doing it for PR purpose. It would be too weird for a married, let alone pregnant woman to be wearing Furisode lol. Usually married women in Japan can only wear very tone-down Kimono that’s simple and dull in color…😢)

(Age 32, pregnant. lolol)

And then, I want to tie twin tails and wear pastel gingham dresses, walk down Harajuku and queue up after all the teenagers for cotton candies. And then I’ll do a summer course in a Japanese high school. I’ll pick one with really cute seifuku (school uniform). And then go chase stars and fangirl over all the cute Japanese actors. And then I want to go dating with the danna in Disneyland wearing matching head gears like Bakkapuru (Baka Couple) lol.

All of these have become dreams of the distant past that is not gonna happen because I am aware of my own age. Of course I can pretend to be 22 (and I am quite confident that I can pass off if I try hard enough HAHAHHA), but… I guess this is how self-consciousness works haha.

People always have social expectations of what you can or cannot do at a certain age. How you should behave. What you should be wearing. What you should have achieved.

But why should they? They are not you. You are the only one in this world who should be in charged of who you want to be.

I just watched this video about how most Asian women are believed to have an “expiry date”, where she becomes less attractive and less desirable as she ages.

In Japan this is especially true, as unmarried women over 25 is referred to as “Christmas Cake” – nobody wants anymore after the 25th. Although the average age of Japanese women getting married is higher and higher nowadays so they changed the term to “Toshikoshi Soba” (年越しそば), a type of noodle that Japanese usually eat on the 31st of December. So now Japanese women’s expiry date is stretched up to 31 year old haha.

Watch:

Can you imagine if we actually get an expiry stamp just like the women in this video? It indeed reflects the sad truth that “getting older” is really seen quite negatively by women especially in Asia.

In SK-II’s survey, apparently 1 out of 3 women in Asia feel that there’s a pre-decided timeline for how to live your life and when to do things (marriage, career, education, kids etc) that they are expected to follow. I too, was one of them who felt the pressure. No one particularly rushed me to find a partner or to get married, but I felt that I had to rush, for no particular reasons.

I am so unbelievably lucky to have met the danna, got married at 28 and had the first child by 30 (thank you Hakone!!). But had I been less lucky, I could have met any regular a-hole and settled down just because I felt the need to, and have an unhappy marriage just to regret it years later.

The survey also shows that only 2 out of 10 women in Asia describe themselves as comfortable with the idea of getting older. Am I worried about getting older? Yes, sometimes I am. But then I will ask myself this: Am I happier now than 10 years ago?

The answer is a resounding yes. So I guess getting older does not matter so much to me in this case. Staying happy does. Doing what I love does.

The society needs to change. It is a wonderful world with soooooo many things to pursue, and marriage is only one of them. You own your freedom. Seeing the world, doing what you are passionate about, falling in love… it doesn’t need a sequence.

Thank you SK-II for the inspiration, always. I still remember the Dream Again video by SK-II that made me so teary, because I can so so so relate to it. Thank you for reminding us women that we can always dream, whoever we have become, whenever we want.

Find out more with the hashtags #INeverExpire #changedestiny #inpartnershipwithskii #skii @ski . 🙂

Setouchi: Matsuyama

This is Day 1 of our Setouchi X HomeAway trip. (Read previous post here .)

Highlight of the trip.^^

I am so thankful for HomeAway because it helped me unlock my 28th Prefecture: Ehime.

First time in Matsuyama Airport!

So Chanwon and I took a flight from Changi to Haneda via JAL, which landed at 5am in the morning ahead of time, and we were in luck because we had to rush over to the domestic departure after a loooong line clearing the immigration, for our connecting flight to Matsuyama. We got there just in time!

MATSUYAMA

Matsuyama is the capital city of Ehime Prefecture. And when you mention Ehime, the first thing that comes to mind is… mikan (蜜柑) – The Japanese orange/mandarin.

So basically you get mikan everything here in Ehime. Mikan Sake, Mikan Chocolate, Mikan Juice, Mikan Rice… I’m serious. The Japanese school canteen serves Japanese-orange mixed rice. Haha.

Guess what welcomes us right at the arrival hall of Matsuyama airport? That’s right! A Mikan Juice Tower!

Completed the most important mission at Ehime prefecture 5 minutes after landing, and that is… hunting for my Gotochi Kitty!!

Bought four of it (and a couple more on the following days).

Of course, Mikan kitty.

Mikan Juice Factory

So, what was first on our itinerary?

We went straight to 10 Factory, the ultimate Mikan juice specialty store in Matsuyama.

Check this out!! This is the Mikan Family Tree (a sort-of accidental pun here?!), apparently! There are so many types!!

A whole rack of mikan juice, and there are many many different types of mikan juice which… you are gonna have a huge dilemma deciding which to get because… how do you even know they taste? XD

There’s a label stating the subtle nuances between each species, some sweeter and some more tangy…

We ordered our freshly squeezed juice from the bar. Blogger at work. 😛

Check out the colors! Different mikan species also produce a different shade. Mine is more citrusy and slightly more sour than Chanwon’s, I loved it!!

Haha there’s my shopping in the metal basket: Mikan Handy Jelly.

They have recently opened a branch in Ginza, Tokyo! So if you love your mandarins, you can now get it from Tokyo. 🙂

 

We headed for lunch after, at an udon place called Kotori. There’s only one item on the menu in the shop, which is… udon. Hahaha. Apparently this little restaurant has been around for decades and is very well-loved by the locals.

We had a bit of extra time after lunch, so we went shopping!!!

Omgggggg I was soooo happy because I totally did not expect to shop here in Ehime judging from how packed our schedule was and also… I kept thinking Ehime is not Tokyo and I probably won’t get a chance to buy fashion stuff but… in the end I bought SO MUCH STUFF, like, more than I ever bought in Tokyo because it was sooooo cheap (a top for 1990 yen?! A dress for 2990 yen… A bag for 3990 yen!!!)!

 

Matsuyama Castle

Matsuyama Castle is easily ranked in the Top 5 castles in Japan. (The first is of course the unrivalled Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture, which I peeked from a far on my birthday this year.)

You will have to take a rather thrilling ropeway up the hill to reach the castle.

After a while, all the Japanese castles may look the same, but each has its own amazing stories to tell.

Matsuyama Castle is one of only 12 surviving castles built before the Edo period (1627), resting on a hill top high up so you get a breathtaking view of Matsuyama city.

And and and…

This is how it looks during sakura season. *sigh* So beautiful. T.T

I suspect every castle in Japan is surrounded by cherry blossom now. There must be an angle somewhere where you can capture a photo like this!

This is when you can’t find sakura so you settle for second choice HAHA.

This is when, you spotted sakura in disguise. HAHAH. I’m serious. This, is a Someiyoshino tree. When I saw the name tag I just went up and hugged the tree. Either I was a little crazy or I was missing the baby at home…😂

 

Dogo Onsen (道後温泉)

Dogo Onsen is said to be the oldest hot spring in Japan, and is visited by the most prestigious guests in Japan – The Imperial Family.

This is the Dogo Onsen Honkan, a public bath house from the Meiji period. Fans of Ghibli would have to make a pilgrimage here as it is said that this was an inspiration for “Spirited Away” by Miyazaki (along with Kusatsu in Gunma Prefecture and also Jiu Fen in Taiwan).

Spot something?

Yup that’s us.

You can take a tour (with a small fee) to visit the Yushinden, a special room reserved the visiting emperors. The room includes a bath and toilet for the emperor’s exclusive use. The toilet is basically a wooden box served as the toilet bowl, where the imperial doctor would then retrieve the emperor’s “Imperial Golds” for his health inspection lolol.

 

IYO CITY

Shimonada Station 下灘駅

If you have watched Jdramas before, you may have seen a scene that goes something like two lovers standing at a quiet train station overlooking the ocean, with silent goodbye and heartbreak in the air…

Shimonada Station in Iyo city, Ehime Prefecture, is voted one of the top 3 train stations with the most scenic view, looking right at the Seto Inland Sea. How romantic…

This station is about 50 mins from Matsuyama Station, and it is actually an unmanned train station (無人駅)but due to its popularity with tourist, a rare train will stop by just to let the passenger take some photos.

This station was a shooting location for many tv dramas movies, and have also been featured in various anime!

There’s a Love Love Bench for photo opportunity, Chanwon and I borrow each other as the lover haha.

Macam movie poster!!!!

Pass or not? Teenage Jdrama about hope, dreams and first love HAHAHA.

There’s a Shimonafa Coffee Truck right across the road from the train station. It’s so scenic that we started to fake a ViVi magazine shoot haha.

❤︎

 

UCHIKO

After that our host fromHomeAway came to pick us up at Shimonada station and drove us to Uchiko, where we checked into our 120 year old ryokan-style accommodation.

And then it was dinner time!!

The restaurant we went was called “Enoki”, it is just a few blocks a way from our accommodation.

I didn’t have photos of the food because I was concentrating on eating. The food was so good that Chanwon, who does not eat most vegetables, told me that this day was the day she ate the most vegetables in her life lol.

Sauteed Asparagus, soooo good!

 

Supermarket

Uchiko is a small town which I don’t expect a lot of shopping to be done other than the usual local specialty. But don’t worry. It is Japan. Every corner you go there’s shopping. If all else fails there’s still combinis. 😀

I did my research, and found out that there was a (in fact a few) supermarket and a mega drugstore just 15 mins walk away from our accommodation. We we walked there and had a mad shopping rush before the store closed.

Yeap. BUY ALL THE CALBEE FURUGURA!!!!

My shopping is quite crazy because I basically buy EVERYTHING. From salt, miso, canned tuna, potato chips to cotton buds, toilet fragrance and sanitary pads. Everything. If I can buy the whole store I will. Hahaha.

And that’s all for day one.

There are still many posts to come! Meanwhile, if you are planning your holiday soon, do check out HomeAway to book your vacation home.

Don’t forget to use the code “HOMEAWAYCHEESIE” for 8% off!!

www.homeaway.asia

How to survive Japan on $10 a day

When I was 14, I had a dream. My dream was to visit Japan.

However that dream was held on for 10 years. One whole decade. I was 24 when I first visited Japan. And the reason why it look me so long was that Japan was way too expensive for a regular Malaysian fresh grad like me.

Yearssssssss later, I still get people telling that they are putting Japan on hold as their travel destination because it is too expensive to travel to.

So today I would like to change a little of that misconception, because nowadays, honestly, I sometimes think that certain things in Japan are so insanely cheap that I feel worried for them. Gyudon chains are rivaling to bring the price down down down down, supermarkets are all fighting to offer the lowest price. Want more customers? MAKE IT CHEAPER!!

I was like  オイ、日本!大丈夫かよ?!(Oi  JAPAN!! Are you really okay?!)

 

So, let’s say you have gotten your flights and accommodation sorted out (which budget hugely relies on how wise you are, since it could vary greatly depending on season and level of luxury) and have splurged all your glorious yen on shopping. Now you are left with a budget of S$10 (¥800) a day for the rest of your trip.

Here’s how you do it (in short):

1. Go window shopping.

2. Go for sightseeing nearby by foot

3. Spend ¥200 each for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

4. You are still left with ¥200 to buy yourself a nice dessert from 7-11 for supper, or to spin a Gatcha Gatcha machine.

5. Go H2o. Tap water is safe for consumption in Japan.

 

The big question is now, HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO SPEND ¥200 ($2.5) FOR A PROPER MEAL?

It is. I tried.

So here are some of the things you need to know:

1. Combini

I always had an impression that combini are relatively pricier because of the premium you pay in exchange for convenience. But it isn’t always.

You can get an onigiri for ¥100+ but obviously that doesn’t really qualify as a proper meal. Most bentos go for about ¥300-500.

However I discovered something awesome, and it is hidden in the frozen section, where most tourists will just skip through.

If you stay in a vacation apartment with a microwave, here are some of your options:

Cha-han (fried rice): ¥108.

$1.40!!! RM4!!!

I bet you can’t get fried rice that tastes so awesome even in Singapore/Malaysia for that price.

I felt like being a little luxurious, so I added mentaiko on top (¥200+ per pack, I used only 1/5 of it).

So that was my less than ¥200 meal. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Other options:

Rich Cheese Carbonara Pasta and Sea Urchin Cream Pasta. Waaaaaaa sounds like a fancy deluxe meal!! It’s ¥238 for Carbonara and ¥399 for that Sea Urchin cream pasta.

I had the Sea Urchin cream pasta twice because it was too yummy.

Where to find USD2 Carbonara (that doesn’t taste like rubbish) anywhere else in the world? It is of a very good size too, I shared with with Junya.

 

2. Don Quijote

(called “Donki” in short by the Japanese.)

By now you should already know about this legendary Japanese discount store. It is most famed for its cosmetic/snacks/lifestyle goods, but did you also know that it has a fresh grocery section?

Check out some of the grocery prices and you will have to find your eyeballs from the floor.

Let me show you how to shop for under ¥100.

¥28 bean sprout. $0.36.

¥28 tofu. This is getting too ridiculous. Seriously like… WEI, NEED TO DO UNTIL LIDDIS OR NOT?

Well, wait for it.

¥39 Natto. And it’s for a pack of 3 boxes. That’s ¥13 per box. I don’t even. (anyway the catch is each person is limited to buying only maximum of 2 packs. The third pack onwards will cost ¥48 lolol as if it makes a difference.)

Honestly I don’t even remember the last time I paid anything equivalent to ¥13. Probably for usage of public toilet in Malaysia.

One of my favorite soy milk, usually selling ¥100+ in combini, but only ¥78 in Donki.

If you have a fridge in your hotel/apartment, buy the value box of 1000ml for 45% cheaper.

1000ml 100% grape juice at ¥98.

Matcha drink for ¥50.

At this point I wanted to beg Japan to stop being so cheap because my heart is aching. Like… STOP BEING SO RIDICULOUS. JUST TAKE MY MONEY.

Fancy some alcohol? All sort of fruity cocktails at ¥108.

Feeling peckish? Calbee Ebisen at ¥78 each.

Think you have to give up on ichigo because Japanese fruits are just insanely priced? Here’s a more budget one. Tochiotome at ¥398. This is not the cheapest one I’ve seen though.

 

4. Depachika/Supermarket

Depachika (デパ地下), the basement food market in Japan (if you stay in the city center) or supermarkets (if you stay a little further out).

They are the best place to score for a nice dinner at a cheap price. Food stuff at the food market is relatively expensive, but not when you go at the right time. In Japan there’s the “Depachika War” during 7-8pm, where housewives start to gather around the food corner for the shop staff to place the red and yellow sticker on their ready-to-eat packaged food.

(image from Google)

Yes! We are all waiting for this sticker! Most of the food stuff will get a discount sticker when the supermarket is about to close, from 50 yen off to half price!!

The good thing is that unlike the combini, you get a wider variety of food from Chinese dishes and onigiri to roast meat, yakitori, steak and more!!

You can buy them for your dinner or even for next day’s breakfast/lunch!

 

5. Lawson 100

Lawson 100 is like DAISO, except that it sells food, including fresh produce.

(image from Google)

Most of the things are 100 yen. One whole Daikon, 100 yen. One pack of mixed vegetables, 100 yen. Even their eggs are 100 yen!!!! I saw a pack of 10 fresh eggs, 100 yen. Each egg is ¥10.

Just..😯

Sometimes as a housewife, I think I will save SO MUCH money if we lived in Japan.

 

So, you get the idea.

Basically you can conjure up a damn awesome meal for the whole family for… something like 500 yen? And judging from the prices you have just seen, it is damn well possible to spend 200 yen or even less per meal if you cook at home. I always love TKG (tamago kake gohan), so all you need is a bowl of rice (less than 100 yen for sure), break an egg (10 yen), a choice of natto topping (13 yen). That’s 123 yen, feel free to grab that 50 yen Ocha from Donki.

True, if you live in Japan, you gotta pay a lot of things… this tax that tax, salary is so-so… they all add up. However as a traveler to Japan, the choice is all yours. It is entirely possible to spend your days very very very luxurious, or super, super, super budget. In fact I’d say you could spend less than if you visit KL or Singapore. Of course that’s IF you can resist the urge to buy allllllllll the limited edition Japanese snacks hahaha. I know I can’t. 😛

I hope that people who used to have an image of Japan being an expensive to travel to, can see it in a different light after reading this blog post.

Well, if all options failed, Sukiya’s breakfast sets start from 220 yen.

Now you only need the discounted air tickets.

Do share if you know any other hacks to survive on $10 a day in Japan!

Get HomeAway in Setouchi

You know, sometimes I wish that I can live 100 lives, so that I can spend each life living a different existence in different places in Japan. As a farmer, as a fisherman, as a sushi master, as a popular comedian, as a ninja, as a Shiba Inu lolol. That is how amazing Japan is. Allow me to borrow their tourism tagline: Endless Discovery. Because one life is not enough.

#GetHomeAwayinSetouchi is the hashtag for my most recent trip to Japan together with my co-traveler, Chanwon.

What is HomeAway? What is Setouchi? You have been following my Instagram feed for the past week but you still have no idea what where how why. Hahahah. Relax. In this post I am going to explain it all, the beginner way. Because this blog’s mission is to spread the love for Japan to the world. And today I am going show you how traveling to Japan does not only stop at Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hokkaido, and also how to experience the most authentic local ways of life and get a peek into the historical wonders in the lesser travelled parts of Japan.

What is Setouchi?

I myself, was confused when I was told to go on a trip to “Setouchi” (瀬戸内). I was like YAY I WANT!!! YESSSS!!! And then like, wait… where is it? (Anyway, don’t care. The less I know about the place the better! A whole new world for me to explore!)

I know that every time I see 瀬戸内, I see lemons lolol. I saw Limited Edition Setouchi Lemon Pretz sticks and also Setouchi Lemon mixed juice by Kagome before. I also know that 瀬戸内 is related to the sea.

 

Alright, let’s get back to basic. Let’s take a look of the map of Japan. Most people know where Tokyo, Osaka and Hokkaido are. So here’s a map of Japan with their major cities (in blue) and regions (in red) marked:

 

Do you see the island marked “Shikoku“? Japan is made of four main islands (excluding Okinawa). Most people know Hokkaido, Honshu (where most major cities like Tokyo and Osaka are in), and Kyushu. Shikoku is often quite a forgotten island.

There wasn’t any cities labeled in the map for Shikoku, probably because they aren’t famous enough haha. Just like its Kanji, 四国, Shikoku is made of 4 prefectures, namely Ehime, Kagawa, Tokushima and Kochi. (Just to boast a bit, I memorized this by heart because I spent a whole day studying the map of Japan, and I know where exactly all 47 prefectures are lol.)

 

So, where exactly is Setouchi?

Let’s have another look again.

Actually, Setouchi is not a place or a prefecture. If you take a look at area of Hiroshima and Shikoku, you will see an inland sea in between, and the sea is called “Setonaikai” (瀬戸内海), and in English, the Seto Inland Sea.

The areas surrounding the Seto Inland Sea, is called Setouchi. So, just like the recently made popular region, Tohoku, Setouchi is also a region. Tohoku’s tourism campaign is very successful, so I think that different regional/prefectural offices in Japan are rivalling to promote their very own local cities. Which is a good thing!! Yes! More tourists to the suburbs of Japan! 😀

And just like Tohoku, Setouchi is made up 7 different prefectures.

Namely Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama and Hyogo from the north of the sea, as well as Ehime, Kagawa and Tokushima from down south.

And now, officially introducing HomeAway’s latest destination: Setouchi, Japan’s Sparkling Inland Sea.

You now know where it is!! 😀

Just to recap, here are the 7 prefectures in Setouchi:

And this time, we were going to Ehime Prefecture (only).

(I know right??? Only ONE prefecture and we already felt that we did not have enough time to explore allllll the beautiful spots in Ehime alone! This 47-prefecture bucket list is indeed a life-long mission!)

Sorry for the very long introduction. Let’s get to the real topic!

So the mission of this trip, was to explore the wondrous destinations in Ehime prefecture, while experiencing the most local ways of lodging, dining and shopping.

HomeAway is a vacation rental platforms that provides a whole home experience for families who loves to enjoy more space and privacy. I have stayed in two listings with HomeAway in Osaka and Tokyo before.

That time, it was simply an alternative to hotels for our family (as hotels were mostly fully booked or ridiculously expensive during sakura season). But this time, it was more than that.

It was for us to discover new places, for me to conquer yet another prefecture and check it off my list, and also, to witness the amazing works of historical wonders and immerse myself in the most authentic and traditional Japanese lifestyle.

How often do you get to stay in a 120-year-old historic home built during the Meiji Era? I did. (In fact I was told that we were the first to stay in this listing on HomeAway!!!)

Private vacation lodgings and even farm stays are getting more and more popular in Japan. I’m so happy that HomeAway and Setouchi is collaborating to make the adventure one step easier for foreign travelers! There are many of amazing private lodgings and ryokan in the suburb Japan, but usually their websites are either in Japanese, or they do not have a comprehensive online booking system (I tried calling TWELVE ryokan in Shirakawago to book two nights for my friends who were very last minute and were desperate for my help cuz I was their only friend who speak Japanese lol). So HomeAway is bridging this gap so that more of us can discover the hidden beauty of the suburbs of Japan.

 

We stayed in 3 different listings during our 4D3N trip in Setouchi.

Machiya COCORO 

We spent 3 nights in Uchiko, a rustic little town with a historic preserved district. We met our host in the afternoon and checked into their cafe.

Wait what? Cafe?

This was our first accommodation. The original building was built in Taisho era (about 100 years ago) as Machiya (townhouse). It is now renovated to accommodate visitors, and apparently we are the first guests from HomeAway!! 😀

The first floor is a cafe open to public for dining (although it is quiet almost all the time), and the entire second floor was our accommodation. After 6pm, the cafe closes and we would have the privacy of the entire building!

The living room is soooooo spacious until!

Don’t know what we are trying to do here lol. To show how comfy it is hahahha. If you have more guests, they can sleep on the futon in this spacious living room!

The bedroom houses two semi-double bed perfect for travelers like us.

You can never guess that this building is 100 year old because it certainly doesn’t look like one!

Bed is freshly made and the room is clean with brand new amenity provided.

Love love love!

And the view from our bed room…

It directly overlooks the courtyard of this building. The only thing is that the bathroom (with a wooden bath tub) is on the first floor, so you will have to go downstairs and walk over the courtyard for your bath. If you only need to use the toilet, there’s one next to the bedroom on second floor!

 

COCOROKURA 1

The second accommodation was just a short walk from the first. This building is even older (built in the Meiji era), but has undergone intensive refurbishment 6 years ago to look sparkly new!

Already in love the moment I stepped into the entrance.

Haha look at this Chanwon who planned her outfit to blend perfectly into the picture!

This place is so Japanese yet… infused with the Western elements? The spacious double beds in the attic and the wooden setting reminded me of quaint cottages in Europe. But upon stepping into the house I was charmed by the scent of Hinoki (Japanese Cypress wood), which makes the home the quintessentially Japan.

There are a few things I really love about the house:

1.The courtyard

Ample sunlight gives the house a very cozy feel, and the little garden makes it feel like a holiday villa!

 

2. Efficient storage space

This may not be useful for our one-night sojourn, but I was so fascinated with the way everything is optimized for aesthetics, utility and efficiency! 😀

 

3. Ofuro (bath tub)

Oh. Nothing beats a good bath tub especially in the cold climate.

Hotel bathtubs are good, but the cypress wooden tub gives it a whole “onsen” feel!

 

COCOROKURA 2

This is the final accommodation we stayed on our last night in Uchiko. Actually it is in the same building as the above, just next door! ^^

The interior is pretty much the same, just slightly different layout 🙂

It has the same star-case storage! ^^

This is Onishi san, our very gentle and charming host for all three nights. He not only helped us with all the lodging matters and showed us around the area, he also cooked our breakfast daily and it was sooooo delicious😱. Chanwon was like omg… so multi-talented haha. (By the way his daughter’s name is also Sakura!!😍)

Anyway I will be slowly posting our journey in Setouchi in the coming posts. Meanwhile, if you are planning your holiday soon (not limited to only Japan!), do check out HomeAway to book your vacation home!

Don’t forget to use the code “HOMEAWAYCHEESIE” for 8% off!!

www.homeaway.asia

Happy vacationing! ^^

 

36 months VS 13 months

June 11, 2017 in Baby 14 Cheesed

Sakura is 13 months today and Junya turns 3!!!

Neither of them is a baby anymore😭

For Junya

1st month , 2nd month , 3rd month , 4th month , 5th month , 6th month , 7th month 8th month, 9th month , 10th month , 11th month , 12th month , 13th month , 14th month 15th month , 16th month , 17th month , 18th months , 19th month , 20th month ,21st month , 22nd month , 23rd month 24th month , 25th month , 26th month , 27th month , 28th month , 29th month , 30th month , 31st month , 32nd month , 33rd month , 34th month and 35th month here.

My baby boy turned 3 today. It really feels like I’m fast-forwarding my life and living in 8X speed.

36 months also feels like graduation. Many baby products are made for 0-36 months. Some of the baby apps end at 36 months. Because after the 36th, it feels like the big puzzle is now clear enough for you to figure out and putting small pieces together.

So he really really isn’t a baby anymore. He is a big boy who can do many things on his own.

Although he still feels so much like one, when I look at his peaceful sleeping face.

There are many new things that happened in the month before he turned 3!! Most of the time he is learning about independence, and here are some of his new challenges/milestone before turning 3:

1.Sleeping in own room

On his own bed, in his own room (room-sharing with Sakura). When we first moved in to this new apartment in Singapore, our plan was to have the kids eventually sleep in their own room. We started by putting Junya there with all his toys and books. It was ok for a week, until we started waking up every single morning with him lying next to us. After that he was very reluctant to sleep in his own room until I suspected whether the room was “clean” enough 😒.  (You know… got “dirty things”?) Or really got monster in the closet😒. So we gave up and moved his bed into our bedroom, and four of us slept in one room again.

But on Sakura’s birthday last month, I decided to just make a big leap and give it another try. This time I threw two petits into their own room altogether. Surprisingly it worked until now.

I guess Junya feels that it is fair enough that Sakura too has her own bed and is not special enough to always get to snuggle between mama and papa.

So yes, this works perfectly, that I successfully get both the kids to sleep in their own room.

(His fav pajama)

But soon enough I discovered another problem: Sakura usually goes to bed first. If Junya creeps into his bed, he may end up waking the little sister up because he just talks SO.MUCH. So now I have to wait for him to fall asleep on the couch in the living room and then carry him to his bed, half the time. -_-.

 

2.Fully feed himself

He has been eating on his own for about a year now, ever since Sakura was born. He just had to do it because I really, really don’t have octopus arms to be feeding Sakura, Junya and myself all at the same time. He feeds himself every time until his popo (grandma) comes to visit, of course. Then all of a suddenly his arms just decide to lose their functions to pick up chopsticks/spoons/forks😒. Can anyone tell me why grandparents ALWAYS want to chase the grandkids around and feed them like they are babies?😑

 

3.Go to toilet by himself

Toilet training was a bit of an ongoing battle for both me and Junya since he was 18 months, so I decided not to pressure on to this matter until very recently. The school did not encourage toilet training for the first term (maybe they think it will put extra stress on the child’s new school life?), so he was on diaper full time during school. I mean, it wouldn’t be very nice to have the teacher clean up after your child’s excrement all the time lol.

Recently though, I notice that he actually will go to toilet by himself when he was pants-less at home, but as long as he had his diapers on (in school), he would FOR SURE let go in it. So one day I just decided that this is it. It’s time to save some diaper money. I told the teachers that I am starting him on training pants the next day, and prepped him repeatedly by telling him, “Junya, you are on training pants today, it will get wet if you pee in it. You will tell teacher when you need to go to toilet, okay? You can do it.” He nodded.

And miraculously he followed through and made no mistake. It took only one day to have him fully toilet trained in the day.

So yea, I guess when they are ready, they are ready. Parents, just relaxxxxx.

I really saved a lot of diaper money lol. Sakura’s turn soon HAHAHA.

 

4. Get changed by himself

Junya can get dressed fully by himself. His shirt, underpants, trousers, socks and shoes. It’s just that 50% of the time he gets it: inside out/ front-back opposite/left-right opposite -____-. And going to school in the morning is a race against time so I still end up dressing him most of the time.

Plus, if I ask him to choose his own outfits, he will FOR SURE 100% choose his Gudetama shirt. -_-

Erm…

5. Into the pool

It may not mean a lot to other people but I was so, so happy when he finally can jump into the pool on his own without clinging on to me like I was about to murder him.

He was even willing to put on the goggles!!

If there’s one thing I wish Junya will excel in, it would be sports. Both the danna and I really don’t care so much about academic success (for now lol. Who knows we will turn into Tiger mom and dad later on!!!), for it did not mean anything much to us in our lives. My straight As all my school life (HAHA sorry ah humble brag) did not contribute much to who I am today, while the danna’s lack of any As at all did not make him a less capable person he is now. So yea, “A”s don’t mean anything to either of us.

Perhaps it is a Japanese thing, but the spirits of sports is deeply connected to the success in one’s life. I admire little school kids in Japan who go on outdoor adventures, and seeing them working and training hard in sports makes my heart flutter. Not to mention all the touching moments I see on TV during sports events, the Samurai Japan, Nadeshiko Japan, legendary figure skaters… all brought tears to many many people. Sports makes one strong, physically and mentally. That’s something that I don’t have and unlikely to ever have.

This is a video that went viral in Japan which gets me all teary every time I watch it, sharing it here!

You can watch it from 2:10 onwards:

Junya will be 6 when Tokyo 2020 Olympics takes place. I hope that he would be inspired to take on more interest in sports (unlike his mama hahaha).

 

JunJun says

(lying on his bed)

Junya: Mama I’m the small robot I cannot move. Mama you fix me!!
Mama: How? Ok I use a screw driver to open you up?
Junya: ok.
Mama: What should I do?
Junya: you put battery ok. I no more battery.
Mama: *inserts imaginary batteries into son’s back* It’s all fix now!
Junya: no mama! You cover! You cover the battery.
Mama: *puts back imaginary battery cover* -_- Ok all done!
Junya: mama you press start.
Mama: *presses imaginary button* lol
Junya: *starts moving*

*

Mama: Can you hold this bag for me? I have many bags and they are very heavy.
Junya: Mama, it’s not so heavy. Ganbatte!!
Mama: 😞
*

(lying on his bed being lazy)

Mama: Junya get up! Let’s eat dinner.
Junya: *not moving* mama I dropped into the river. You pull me up.
Mama: 🙄

 

For Sakura

Read Sakura’s 1st month, 2nd month , 3rd month , 4th month , 5th month 6th month , 7th month , 8th month 9th month , 10th month , 11th month and 12th month here.

Vocab

Remember last month I wrote that when I said some words, she will try to mimic although totally not accurate at all? I said “banana” and she would say “appa“.

Actually I finally found out what appa is.

It is “oppai” (boob in Japanese). She says “appa” while pulling and tugging my shirt, means she wants to nurse. That’s the word she says the most now lol.

She can also say “ah ter”, when she wants water. And “tttt” (phonic for T) for “star”.

 

Nod

After months of head-shaking, she finally learnt how to nod! One day I saw her doing an awkward neck exercise, turned out that she was practicing nodding!😂

Itadakimasu

Surprisingly, she picked this up without us teacher her! One day I found out that she put her hands together when we say “itadakimasu” before eating. I guess she learnt it by observing us at meal times ^^. She will also do it when I say “gochisousama deshita”.

Pointing

She has also turned into a single-handed Chinese zombie, like Junya when he was 11 months old. She is stretching an arm pointing to a random item at all time ^^.

Standing

She can now stand on her own!! She can’t walk on her own yet but she can walk pretty stably while holding my hand. ^^

Time to break out those fancy shoes! 😀

 

Eating

Sakura eats 3 full meals a day. Whatever I prepare for her, she usually finishes all. And then half an hour later I will either nurse her or give her a bottle of milk on top of the snacks in between. And whenever she catches us eating anything without offering her, she will be barking at us in a loud voice (“AHHH!”) until we share some with her😂…. In fact I am pretty sure that she eats more than Junya.

But… why isn’t she gaining any weight? T____T.

 

Sleeping on own bed

Sakura now naps and sleeps on her own bed (next to Junya)!

She typically goes to sleep at about 8pm, and will for sure wake up once before dawn (around 4-5am), I’ll have to pat her to sleep, and then she wakes again about 6am to drink milk.

 

Weaning Koala

One of the parenting questions I get asked the most is, when and how are you planning to wean?

Answer is, I don’t know.😂

When? I don’t know when I will be finally emotionally ready.

How? This one I may be able to share my personal experience.

Sakura was breast-fed since day one and had never taken a bottle until almost 1 year old. I have tried many times, she either spat it out at once, or chewed on the teat like a teether. She just won’t take it more than 1 sip.

I thought it may be the bottle’s problem, so I tried switching to straw cup. She would sip, and then spit it all out -______-. It was a lot of work every time I have to feed her.

The only way that worked (a little) was to let her drink from the bottle without the teat. For some reasons she was okay with this, but still she won’t be able to finish the whole bottle.

God knows how much formula I had wasted testing and trying all sort of methods -___-.

Recently I found out that she will take the bottle and drink at least half of it if I carry and rock her like a small baby lolol.

 

For Mama

Weaning

Read my previous post on how I successfully maintain my milk supply while traveling without my baby😂.

 

Traveling without cheesiepetit

I thought hard and long before I accepted the work trip to Japan. One, of course I needed to still have an income. Two, IT IS JAPAN. No question asked.

It would be the first ever time I am leaving Sakura for more than 30 minutes.. since the day she was born. So it was a big leap of faith. And to have things transiting smoothly, I started training her a month prior to my trip. Sleep train, bottle train, and to have her get more comfortable with people other than me.

Then, I had to trouble my mom to come all the way from Seremban to SG to help me with my petits because she was the only one who could take care of the kids (the danna had work commitments). And in order to help me jaga my kids, she had to trouble other relatives to jaga the two dogs… so it is really quite 大工程。

Before I left for the departure, Junya hugged me very tightly and said goodbye to me with a smiley face.

Bye bye mama. Ganbatte mama. Love you mama.” Just like what I say to him every day before school.

He didn’t seem to be upset at all. He’s quite cool like that.

Sakura on the other hand… she had no idea what was happening. Why mama will disappear for a few days… why she cannot smell mama anymore… why she only can drink from a bottle now… T__T

I said goodbye to her but she didn’t want to let go of me before I left, so I had to put her down, had papa carry her from the back while I ran away the opposite direction.

My heart aches as I was overwhelmed with a thousand worries.

I could not sleep at all on the plane 😭😭😭.

 

And then the next day I texted my mom to ask how she was.

“Very good! No cry at all, drink milk and sleep.” she replied.

My face was like:😮

Good good good, may it hasn’t sunken in yet.

Then later in the night, my mother reported to me again,

“She’s fine! No cry!!”

I was in disbelief… I replied, “no cry… at all?!😮 IMPOSSIBRUUUUUU“.

The next next day, her reply got even shorter, she was just like, “fine!”😂

I thought my mom probably just didn’t want me to worry so that I could enjoy my trip. So I asked the danna. He said, “totally no cry and drink milk very well.

I was relieved and slightly disturbed at the same time. Sakura… can live without me?🤔

She doesn’t need me?😮

SHE DOESN’T MISS ME?😥

Or… it is my problem?(that she only cries when I’m around?)😭

 

Moral of the story is…

Your kids will never miss you as much as you miss them. (sad but true.)

Haih.

NEVERMIND. That means more Japan work trip for me! WAHAHHAHA.

 

3rd Birthday for Mama

So it has been 3 years. Today I am celebrating my 3rd birthday as a mother. I have cried lots, but I laughed and smiled more. Sometimes I feel so tired and I wonder if this will ever end. Or I am just gonna die a tired mother. Sometimes I thought I was gonna just collapse and lose it all. Sometimes I wonder if I am doing enough, or good enough. Sometimes I hated being a mother, but most of the time I love it and am proud of it.

Sometimes people say that you shouldn’t compare yourself with other mothers because that’s how pressure and stress happens. I feel that it is just a lazy excuse to not do any better than you are now. Kyaraben is probably unnecessary and may be all for the social likes, but how awesome is it to master a new skill? And it takes A LOT of effort and time. I know because I didn’t have that kind of dedication to continue lol.

So I compare anyway. All the time. Or rather, I call it “reference”. Every mother is an inspiration to me. If I see other mothers who are doing less than I do, I feel good that I am doing extra, or learn to be more chill like they are. If I see other mothers who are doing more and better than I do, I take their tips and push myself to improve. Because you can never be the best, but you will always try to be the best for your kids, and you are the best.

So let’s all be the best for nobody else, but our kids.

Stored in Baby | 14 Cheesed

Why I was secretly squeezing my own boobs all the time in Japan

Please don’t flag my blog for having suspicious content based on the title above. In fact, This blog post is gonna be so useful for many people, that I think it deserves a medal.

So, if you followed my Instagram for the past week you’d know that I have been away for a trip to Japan without the cheesiepetits.

One of the hardest thing for me to be away other than emotional guilt, was to maintain my milk supply while I was not with Sakura. I was not ready to give up breastfeeding just yet. Our travel schedule was quite packed so it would not be very wise to keep asking for toilet breaks to pump. Plus there’s no way I would be bringing a breast pump. So I devised a plan:

1. First, cut down day feedings. Two weeks prior to the trip I nursed Sakura only before her sleep and when she wakes up, so this way I won’t be getting engorgement during day time, yet still able to maintain the supply. Good tactic!

2. During the trip, express at the times when feedings are due (ie: before Sakura’s sleep and when she is supposed to wake)

So I went on my trip feeling confident that I could do this with ease.

Just so I thought my plan was perfect, I encountered a few hiccups right away:

1. My hand-express yield very shockingly little. Well, this was unexpected. Because I have never done it before!!! The first night I expressed only 60ml. Then 80ml in the morning. My face probably went pale when I saw it lol. Judging from the momentum, I was going to lose my supply very soon.

2. Since that hand-expressing was so inefficient, I ended up spending a lot of time in the toilet. Usually at least 20 minutes, which was not conducive at all for traveling.

3. I forgot about it sometimes. You know, it is not easy to wake up 6am to express when you are not sleeping next to your baby T__T. The other night, we went to a snack bar for Karaoke until 11pm (I was supposed to express by 8pm)!!! And I was panicking that my boobs were gonna explode.

4. Expressing is SO MESSY! And so tiring T_T. Hand-express means that you will need to hold a container (if not the milk is gonna be splattering everywhere omg… So you can only express one breast at a time. The ONLY way to do it without messing anything up is to do it inside the bathtub full of water. You can express  to relieve while enjoying the hot bath and also letting the warmth ease your engorgement AND adding nourishing natural milk essence to the bath water at the same time… HUH THAT’S LIKE 50 BIRDS WITH ONE STONE?! Best. Idea. Ever. You are welcome. Except that… I was sharing the bath with my co-traveler Chanwon, and it won’t be very nice if she knows that she is soaking in Cheesie Milk Bath (sounds gross and unsanitary..!? HAHAHAHAH), so… this method was out.

I had to do something before I run out dry.

So one morning I woke up late and had no time to express before heading out for our activities. Worrying about engorgement, I stuck two breast pads into my bra and headed out. During a short toilet break, I went to the cubicle to express but I did not have an empty bottle with me, so basically I was aiming at the toilet bowl and boy was it hard!!!!! (Come to think of it boys probably do it a looooot easier at aiming the toilet bowl. I know Junya does it perfectly  HAHAHHA.) While wiping drops of milk all over the the toilet cover, I thought, screw it, I’m just gonna express into the breast pads what the hell.

AND THAT WAS WHEN I SAW THE BEAMS OF ENLIGHTENMENT.

Yes. Express into the pads!!! I can’t even count the merits:

1. You can express both breasts at once.

2. You won’t mess anything up.

3. You can do it very discreetly.

4. YOU CAN DO IT ANYWHERE IF YOU DO IT DISCREETLY ENOUGH.

5. You can relieve engorgement at any time, a little at a time without having to excuse yourself go for a long toilet break.

6. You can do it all day, all night long as you wish to boost your supply.

7. Your breast pads will be very full and it will make your bosoms look wonderful.

(in fact nobody will need chicken fillets anymore. Milk-filled breast pads will be the new bra-inserts! Omg do I see a business opportunity here??)

I am a genius.

I am guessing this is how toasters and rockets are invented. Sort of. Although probably of different scale, with or without the involvement of boobs.

Boob problem solved.

Thank god for breast pads. (I was using Pigeon, in case you are wondering. Never a single leak.)

(This may as well be and ad for breast pad godammit.)

(It is not.)

So basically I was squeezing my own boobs all the damn time, and if someone who did not know the reasons behind it saw what I did, they will either think I was a hentai freak, or I was Mitsuha in “Your Name” who just got body-switched with Taki.

It saved my life (the life of my milk supply at least). Please don’t tell the trip organizers and my sponsors, but I have secretly expressed on car rides, on flight, in our room (when I was too lazy to do it in the toilet), while doing my make up (and have no extra time), while watching TV and feeling bored, and sometimes just when nobody is looking.

No one will know if you don’t tell. Shhhh.