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22 months

April 11, 2016 in Baby 7 Cheesed

Junya turns 22 months today. ^^

(Also read  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 and 21st month here.)

 

For Baby

JunJun Must Do Everything

“JunJun Does Everything” started the previous month, but this month he made sure that he has to be the one who does everything, with no interference whatsoever.

Last month it was “JunJun squeeze” (peanut butter), but this time around it was “JunJun squeeze. Dowan mama. Mama go out. Bye bye.

-_-

He also insisted holding his own cup/glass/mug and I am not allowed to help him hold in any way. At all.

 

Baby Again

The first half of 21st month was a nightmare because Junya was a baby again. He woke up at least 2-3 times a night crying for milk. 2am, 4am, 6am. Exactly like a new born, except a newborn who can tell me what he wants.

I want miruku. I want miruku! Mama make 200 (ml) miruku“.

And he won’t stop until he got his milk. I secretly feared for my life. How long is this phase gonna last?!? If it lasts till the new baby comes out, it will be as if I gave birth to TWINS omg. T__T

It was tough to wake up every 2 hours to make milk but that wasn’t the problem. I was more worried about tooth decay because of all the sugar in the middle of the night and no brushing. The danna insisted that the night feeding has to stop, so I let him “cry it out” again like baby time. Very very luckily, it took 3 days (of 45 minutes of tears and hand-pulling “mama make milk!!!” and massive heartaches) and now he sleeps through again.

 

Nap Time

We travelled to Singapore for a short stay, which means that he had to skip school. Now his schedule is all messed up again. In the morning he plays with me and he usually only sleep 1 or 2pm, and sometimes he just dozes off during lunch lol.

But these few days he’s been napping 3 hours (longest 4 hours!!!) in a row, which is why I have time to write this blog post lolol.

 

Fickle Diva

He knows exactly what he wants…. Or not.

I used to let him have options to make things easier but nowadays it just becomes a headache -_-. During teeth-brushing time, I’ll fetch him the toothbrush, and he’ll be like “no, dowan pink. I want blue.” When I exchange the blue one for him, he will be like “no, dowan blue. I want pink.” And laughs.

-_-

*repeats 5 times*

-________-

Tooth brushes are ok. I mean, you just have to make like 15 extra trips to the bathroom. The real pain is when you make him milk. “No, dowan cold. I want warm.” And when you heat it up, “no, dowan warm.

-_________________-

 

Who Dat?

Oh, it has started.

*Points at random stranger* “Who dat??? Who dat???

*Points at every single random object* “Who dat??? Who dat???

 

I Don’t Mind

He’s not very good at cutleries yet, and sometimes eating with hands is so much more efficient. Every time I encourage him to pick up the spoon and fork and explain to him that “it’s messy eating with hands” (soup pasta with fingers, anyone?!?), and he shakes his head, looks at me innocently and says…

I don’t mind.

 

Because?

Random lectures he gives me at 21 months old:

Rubbish don’t touch. Because kitanai (dirty).” while shaking his head vigorously.

Scissors be careful. Because dangerous.“while shaking his head vigorously with a concerned look for his mama.

 

JunJun Loves?

Mama asks: “Who does mama love?

JunJun.

Who does JunJun love?

Pancake.

 

Toy Upgrade

Now that he needs to spend more time on his own while his mom is doing all the mundane chores, I have also upgraded his toy collections. He loves miniature toys, especially food stuff which he can make stories with!

He looooooooves his Gudetama Rement breakfast set.

Recently I got him his first Sylvanian Families collection. We both have lots of fun playing, although I must admit I’m probably more obsessed than him with the collection lolol.

 

 

For Mama

“Happy Birthday To Mama”

JunJun celebrated mama’s birthday with bday songs and kisses ^^

 

Pokemom

Due date is one month away and I am still traveling non-stop (don’t tell my gynae!!). Many of my readers were absolutely right with their comments – that it is really a psychological barrier that a mother thinks that she needs a helper, and let people around her convince that she needs one. Just forget that it is even an option.

Honestly when I was used to having one, I was absolutely horrified to imagine a life without one, and think that I would probably suffer nervous breakdowns and my life would be miserable. But now that I have done without for over a month, I wondered why I had one in the first place (I still think that it was one of the worst decisions I’ve made, but it’s okay, we always learn! Never try, never know!).

The house isn’t as messy as I thought it would be. The cleaning up doesn’t take as long as I think it would. Yeap sometimes you have to heat up frozen food for dinner. Sometimes your son demands to have a diaper change while you are half way washing the dishes and have a million things to pick up from the floor.

But my life isn’t miserable at all.

I get frustrated that things keep getting messed up after I put them back into place. But the frustration lasts only like, 10 seconds, instead of a nagging worry that was constant and lasted forever compared to last time when I lived with a helper. It is very cliched but it is true that when you see your child smiling happily at you, whatever negative emotion just dissipates in an instant.

And the mostestestest important thing is that now I can be 100% sure that he is under my very own care, and that I am 100% responsible for his very wellbeing. And that puts my mind so, so so much at ease.

I am really looking forward to the new challenge of being a mother of 2. Mothers are like Pokemon. We keep leveling up. We are Pokemoms! (If you don’t hear from me for the next couple of months then you know Pokemom K.O. liao lolol.)

Stored in Baby | 7 Cheesed

Little Harajuku – Hoppe Chan

Do you know “Hoppe Chan”?

If you haven’t heard, Hoppe Chan is currently the most popular character among elementary and junior highschool girls in Japan.

From Hoppe Chan’s official website.

It is so popular that there’s a loooong queue outside the Harajuku shop.

There are even magazines just dedicated to Hoppe Chan!!

 

And this superstar character, has just made its debut in Kuala Lumpur!!

Little Harajuku is a new accessories shop located at 3rd floor, Berjaya Times Square, coming all the way from Japan!!

The official opening launch was on 2nd April, my birthday!! Was honored to be invited for their ribbon cutting ceremony.

Hoppe Chan’s logo.

Came here with JunJun!!

Even before the opening, there were a lot of Japanese mothers with their kids waiting outside the shop waiting to go in!! And the kids went craaaazy shopping. It really looks like it’s a big hit especially with little girls!

JunJun with his first moustache Hoppe Chan.

Shopping with JunJun.

Junya chose his Hoppe Chan. He really does love pink a lot XD.

“Mama!! Hoppe Chan Ice cream!!!”

Did you know in Little Harajuku, they are selling a selection of Limited Edition Malaysian Hoppe Chan items??? For the first time there’s a Japanese product that is available only in Malaysia! Awesome!! 😀

I’ve had a look around, and even though I am a mother now, I think I know why all the girls fall in love with Hoppe Chan, just like many other cute Japanese characters.

This is the Odango Hoppe Chan series, one of my favorite!!

Sakura Odango Hoppe Chan.

Most of the products are made in Japan, which explains the price tags and high quality. And collectibles in Japan are also usually priced around this range.

Deco mirrors and accessories!!!

More Hoppe Chan accessories like socks, coin pouch, band aids and many more!

Hoppe Chan T shirts

Some of the Hoppe Chan accessories are really affordable though!! Like this deco nail set is only RM11!

Other than Hoppe Chan, Little Harajuku is also selling many affordable kids toys and accessories!

Star glasses

Lots of hair accessories!

Fancy hair extension clips.

Chanwon who loves all cute Japanese things came all the way to help me babysit Junya ^^. Our floral headbands are also from Little Harajuku <3

Neko Mimi headband

Even Hoppe Chan schoolbags. Haha i know it is for elementary school students, but…. I totally can use one too! XD
Head over to West part of Times Square, 3rd Floor for your first Hoppe Chan collection!
And check out

Little Harajuku’s FB page

Little Harajuku’s Website

SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence

April 6, 2016 in Commercial Break 2 Cheesed

The forever revolutionary SK-II!

They have so many new launches and it’s always very exciting to attend SK-II’s events.

The latest one is the launching of SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence at the SK-II #changedestiny World at KLCC.

With gorgeous Daiyan Trisha who is also a fan of SK-II.

Ladies in white!

All the guests received a pretty box called #auragoals Beauty Bites, and… what is it??

It’s actually all the skin problems you may have @.@. Only SK-II can make skin problems look so delicious!! XD

The brown macaron could be your skin under sun exposure!!

And underneath the creamy surface, they could be spots you don’t realize!!

And marshmallows are blocking your skin’s aura, making it dull.

And the solution:

SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence!

There was a demo done live on that day using white bread and a toaster. (Omg must they make everything so yummy?)

Different essences were applied on one side of the bread, and then toasted in a toaster. Here’s the outcome!

That’s really quite amazing!

Lastly there were performances by Yuna too, who totally captured everyone’s attention!

So! I’ve been adding the SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence into my daily SK-II routine, and it was exactly what I needed, because I have the Clear Lotion, Facial Treatment Essence and R.N.A Power series, now this Aura Essence is a perfect addition!

Of course we girls want to look fair, but without that radiant skin from within you will just look fair but dull and pale.

This new SK-II essence focuses on whitening technology, re-coded with Pitera infused Genoptics Aura Complex to reduce your skin’s hidden and visible spot formations to reveal a spotless aura glow.

What I love about the Aura Essence is the new and specially designed auto-fill dropper! Did you know that in a consumer study, SK-II found that 60% of consumers only use 2/3 of the recommended dosage which results in lower efficacy for the skin?

With the new dropper, you now know exactly how much to use! It’s quite magical how it works! Every time you close the cap it will auto-refill, and you can squeeze one full drop, which is the recommended optimal dosage for best result!

One pump may feel like quite a lot, and after you have applied the essence over your face, there may still be leftover on your palm! What I will do is that I will apply the extra essence on concerned area like the cheeks (where some of my spots are). And the lightweight, milky essence spreads easily and can be quickly absorbed by skin so one pump is actually just the right amount!

There’s an instant glow after application and all I needed for the day make up is sunblock or tinted sunblock, a little bit of concealer, get my brows done, some cheek and lip tint and optional eyeliner, that’s all!!

Check out the latest SK-II Genoptics Aura Essence at all SK-II counters!

 

One day as a mom of 1.5

April 3, 2016 in Baby 14 Cheesed

Almost about 2 years ago, I wrote a blog post on “One Day As a Mom“, when Junya was first born.

Now I am writing as a mom of a toddler and a soon-to-be-born baby. So… technically not mom of two yet XD.

Thank you for sharing all your experiences in my previous post, thank you for the emails, messages, and comments. I never expected that so many mothers are facing similar helper situation and were stuck in the same emotional stress. Thanks for letting me know that you guys are doing so well and that I can do it too.

I have been coping for more than two weeks (one month actually, if I count the two weeks we spent in Japan!) to take care of the house and Junya and the pregnancy almost all on my own, and the moral of the story is… as cheesy as it sounds:

Never try, never know. 

If you think you cannot do it, you really forever cannot. And don’t let people scare you into thinking that you can’t do it.

In fact, I felt really thankful for her to choose to not come back, because if she did, I would still be torn between complicated emotions and not realize that it was really, really not how I wanted our family to be. It is truly a blessing in disguise.

Because I am so much happier now.

All the mothers who chose not to have a helper anymore after similar experience told me the same thing: they are tired, but happy. In fact that should be the title of this post.

TIRED BUT HAPPY!!!!!!!!

Because that is exactly how I feel now. The danna came back from Singapore just in time for my birthday last night, and I just felt so so thankful. He must have been really worried (probably guilty too) about me handling all these by myself, and must have been thinking for many different kinds of solutions to this situation as well, so that our family can always be together (I’ll be traveling to Singapore tomorrow so we can stay together for at least the next week!)

It also make me realize how many 贵人 I have in my life to offer selfless help during times like this. My own mother of course, Junya’s school, good friends who helped me babysit Junya when I had work, and clients who are ever so understanding to accommodate meetings to my convenience and let me go back early from events.

The first day I was alone, it was for real one of the worst nights I’ve ever had. They say moms have it the worst when their children are sick. Well, try having a sick child, and being sick yourself T__T.

I was down with a bad flu and barely had the energy to even get out of the bed, when Junya had a massive vomitting in the middle of the night all over the bed, himself, and me, and waking up every 15 minutes crying. I dragged myself up to shower ourselves, change the bedsheet, put on fresh clothes, only to have to do it all over again when Junya vommitted the second time. And then the third time. I already ran out of bedsheets and had to make do with towels and for the rest of the night neither of us got any sleep. The very next morning I had a whole wardrobe of puke-filled laundry to do and two of us were feeling like headless zombies. I don’t ever wish any mother to have to experience this in their lives. At least don’t get all sick at the same time T____T.

But we soon recovered and things got so so so SO much better then.

So here’s just to document my daily life as a mother of 1.5, so that few years later I can come back to this post and totally point and my old self and laugh: “Goddamn amateur LOL” because I will be SO DAMN PRO BY THEN. You just wait, weakling me.

 

One Day as a Mom of 1.5

07:00

I don’t even have to wake up extra early. Unless Junya wakes me up any earlier. I change Junya, myself, make the bed, fill Champon’s food and water bowl, make myself some shabby breakfast (cereal and milk and bread) and Junya’s usual breakfast (porridge cooked overnight or yogurt and bread), throw laundry into the washer, feed the both of us, put on 2 minutes make-up (TOTALLY POSSIBLE lol. But my hair is always shit and in a ponytail la), and then send Junya to school by 08:00.

If we have extra time we would FaceTime papa, because that’s the only time papa is not at work yet and JunJun is still awake.

 

08:30

Reach Junya’s school and drop him off.

I am just so so thankful for his school. Initially Junya went to school for only about 3.5 hours, but after knowing my situation, the school let me extend and keep him there until after lunch time, which is usually 1-2pm. So I actually have the whole morning to do my own stuff. So for this new term I have enrolled him for extension so I have the flexibility to do my stuff. It’s all working out quite perfectly.

In the afternoon the teachers will send me pictures of him doing activities in school. It’s just such a relief to know that he is taken great care of by a great professional team instead of being paranoid worrying dunno what he’s doing at home with the helper while I am away for work. Thank you Daisy, you don’t know how much you have helped me!!!

 

09:00

I get back home to do some work, or use these few precious free hours to run all the errands. Go to the bank, attend meetings, do the groceries, go for morning work events, or even sometimes for pampering like eyelash extensions! Quite a luxurious life lol. It’s an investment cuz in the end you save time for make up hahahah.

Actually to be honest every day by 9AM I feel like I just battled a war lol. I’m not someone who enjoys driving (especially rush hour in KL) so if I have to do more driving after that it is really quite torturous T_T.

I will also tapao lunch for myself cuz really very lazy to cook T__T. I do feel a bit guilty cuz now I am eating for two, not just myself.

So on a good day I do make some quick cooking and will have that for both lunch and dinner.

Quick spinach risotto (with boiled rice) in consomme powder and butter, air-fryer grilled herb chicken (to save time) and avocado.

Keeping it for Junya’s dinner also.

 

13:00-13:30

Pick up Junya from school. His nap schedule is unpredictable (depends on how tired he was the night before and how early he wakes up).

Sometimes he does nap in the school or car and that’s the difficult part for me now. I can barely even bend down to pick something up (when nobody is looking i just use my feet to pick things off the floor LOLOL) so the hardest part is to pick him up from nap and carry all the way to the car and back to our house and bend down to lay him on the bed, if there are groceries then it’s game over lol.

 

14:00

If Junya naps at home

I am very lucky when Junya can tahan his whole school time and then nap at home, which meaaaaaanssssss I have another 1-2 hours free time to do stuff!!!!

That’s when I get to actually do some cleaning. Air laundry, magiclean the floor, wash the dishes etc.

Then brush Champon and discuss with him about life in general.

AND THEN STILL GOT EXTRA TIME TO DO MY SOCIAL MEDIA NONSENSE LEH. Lihai or not!!! Looks like I don’t even have to quit my job lolol.

 

If Junya naps in school

Then… I just have extra work and just have to do it double the speed. XD

Sometimes my little helper decides make himself very useful with the house chores, but always end up giving me more work to do XD.

He has somehow outsmarted all the safety-locks for drawers and cabinets -_____-. And that’s when you are constantly on a “picking things up with your feet” mode.

Note to self: When it comes to housekeeping, I realize it is so much easier to never let things pile up and adopt the “use one plate, wash one plate” approach. If I keep things tidy little by little frequently, it is much better than having to wash a whole sink full of oily dishes. It could be a little depressing to see things pile up.

 

15:00-16:00

Junya (wakes and) eats his snack. Put a few toys on the table and he can be there for a good 20 minutes while I go prepare dinner.

Fold laundry while Junya plays with Champon.

I have also realized one thing.

Ever since the helper is gone, I noticed Junya has become more independent. Before that he always needs a play companion, either mama or the helper had to sit down and play with him, build blocks, do coloring/drawings, etc. But he is now capable of playing with the toys by himself or the Shiba.

I always thought (as with most mothers who hire helpers) that if a helper is around to do the house work, the mother gets to spend more quality time with her child together, playing, reading, etc. But I realized it is the opposite. When she was around, I had extra time, but I always ended up doing my own work. And I admit sometimes I even just wanted to take a rest and be lazy. And now that she is gone, instead of having no time for Junya because of all the housework, I actually spend EXTRA time with him because while i’m doing housework he is always around me anyway. We communicate and learn new things. “You wanna see how a chicken is grilled?” “You want to wash your own water bottle?” “Can you please help mama throw this in the garbage bin?” True, sometimes his help is totally the complete opposite of “help” and is just giving me more work to do, but that’s how he learns.

And he understands. When I told him i have to wash the dishes/cook his dinner, he does not ever protest and ask me to play with him instead. Honestly I am a little impressed. I didn’t even realized things could change so much in a short time.

I suspect that is also the reason why in Japan the kids are sooooo good with helping their mothers with housework. I know 4-year-olds who could air the laundry, fold clothes, and look after younger siblings, instead of having everything done by the nanny/helper.

 

17:30

Eat dinner with JunJun.

Either we eat the same thing I made for lunch, or I just cook something ridiculously Cheat One™ easy.

Throw cooked mixed grain rice (with konbu, hijiki, barley, etc, you can buy the mix grain packs from Japanese section in the markets), into pot, add water, add Konbu Cha powder for taste, add Aosa (a kind of green algae), and then eat with salmon flakes, or batch-made frozen hamburg, tamagoyaki, etc. Don’t even need to cook extra veggies or meat dishes. I eat right from the pot so I also have less dishes to wash lol.

And then wash dishes and clean up the mess. -_-. This is maybe my least favorite part of the day lol.

It is impossible to be mess-free because Junya now says things like “don’t want mama feed. JunJun feed.” And he has a lot of creative ways of eating, trust me.

 

18:30

Shower (if no time) or go for a long bath (if damn free) with Junya. The danna says that the Japanese culture of the whole family going into ofuro (when the kids are young la) together is a very important “naked bonding”. I sort of understand that. JunJun is just extra adorable in the shower and I get to relax (with all sort bath salt!!!) for a good 20 minutes. 🙂

After shower, we play a bit, he brushes his teeth, we watch some videos, read some books, sing some songs.

Sometimes I even have time to catch Japanese drama (omg I’m probably very late but I just discovered the website www.kissasian.com that lets you watch alllllll the Japanese drama and anime it’s too awesome T__T). This one is “Beautiful Life”, which inspired the whole hairstyling industry in Japan 15 years ago. So nostalgic T_____T. Brainwashing JunJun from 1 year old lol.

 

20:00-21:00

JunJun goes to sleep (hopefully).

If he is tired sometimes he falls asleep on his own. I will tell him I’ll have to wash his bottle, and take exxxxxxtra long time to wash so he’ll just doze off lol. Damn cheat this mama.

If he is not that sleepy I’ll end up having to spend extra time with him on the bed, but that’s my favorite part of the day anyway, because it’s all hugs and kisses and repeat again until he falls asleep hehe.

 

21:00 or anytime after Junya’s sleep time

I blog. You are welcome. 😀

 

And that’s my day, as a mom of 1.5. Totally awesome.

There are challenges, of course. Like when I have work during evening time or weekends and it’s not a kid-friendly event. Sometimes I turn it down, sometimes I am really lucky because I do have awesome friends, who stays in the same apartment and are so willing to offer help.

Eve babysits Junya, feeds him good food and he plays with her kids. And I can always trust her because she has always been an awesome Senpai mother.

So, I am truly thankful. For now, everything is going perfectly well.

I am writing this because I read about all the other mothers who were facing the same issue. For those who live with helpers and have a happy life, of course that’s perfect for you. But for those who are struggling emotionally and are considering living without one, I hope this blog post can give you some encouragement, if you decide to be taking care of your child fully on your own. Because once you try, you will know that you can do it. And with a happy heart.

We have all our privacy again. Our family feels like a family again. I can let my guard down again. We can walk around in underwear again. I am so so so so much more relaxed again. I feel like my son’s mother again.

I am tired, but happy.

And I think that’s what everyone who has gone through this will tell you.

I think that once the universe makes one a mother, it also gives you a special power that nobody else has. There’s nothing we cannot do!!

True, I have many other challenges to face once the new baby arrives (nobody can send Junya to school anymore and that will be the biggest problem), but that’s for the next post titled “One Day as a Mom of Two”, if I ever have the time to write one. XD

 

Stored in Baby | 14 Cheesed

The Helper

March 31, 2016 in Senti-Emmental 104 Cheesed

I am taking a break from blogging and work.

Or at least taking it at my own pace and not to worry about deadlines and going for meetings once I clear all my existing work. It kind of sucks because this Monkey Year is supposed to be the most prosperous for my career hahahha but I guess it will prevail in some other way that I never forsee?

But it was a conscious decision to make. I am going to deliver a new baby in May and things will have to slow down a little for me, with a 2-year-old and  new born. So I think it is time I be a little more realistic.

The bigger reason for this decision is that, two weeks ago, our helper has run away and I won’t be getting any help at least for the time being.

She returned to Philippines to see her family when we were away to Japan, and texted me that she has decided not to return to work for us anymore before her contract ends. Although she didn’t technically “run away”, but it was treated as a runaway case and I had to make the police report and pay a hefty compound.

She could not have inconvenienced our family at a worse time, honestly. She was aware that I am now 8 months pregnant, and by the time we returned from Japan, the danna would immediately have to leave for work in Singapore, and I would have a lot of work to catch up with. She knew these, yet she chose to dump her work responsibilities and put us in a difficult situation. Now that she is gone, I am left alone with Junya with no help. And I have work.

She chose to break the news to me the very night before we fly back to KL. She texted me on LINE and told me that she will stay in her country and not come back anymore, because she needed to take care of her son (she is a single mother with a 4-year-old).

Suddenly, there were so many mixed emotions all at once. I felt angry, shocked, betrayed, relieved, empathetic, all at the same time.

Don’t panic, don’t panic. We will sort this out“. I told myself. Junya was sleeping, and I was packing for the flight in a few hours time.

I did not beg her to come back nor throw vulgarities at her because I knew it would be pointless. At least she had the decency to inform me about it instead of giving me a big surprise when we return home. That much I appreciate. Besides, I have lost trust for her and even if she returns I wouldn’t take her back, for someone who could be so irresponsible for her job.

I sat down and think for a while. I made long distant calls from Japan late at night to cancel some of my immediate events and meetings, so at least I don’t have to deal with work for now. One thing at a time.

Initially I felt a little bad. I mean, she must have missed her family very much. She texted, “I need to take care of my son, he is so thin now. I hope you understand“.

I do, actually. I have a son too. Just a short while ago I just blogged about how messed up this world is, that helpers have to leave their children for yearssss to work for a better future and their employers, too, have to leave their children to other caretakers to work for a better future. How we wish we all can just spend ALLLL the time with our children without having to worry about a better future. If I were in her shoes, maybe I would have betrayed someone just to be with my son again, too.

But later I found out from one of her helper friends that the reason she chose not to return was because of boyfriend trouble. She was supposed to get married to a nice man when she finishes her contract (and I knew about it and agreed to let her go back if she wishes to), but she met another guy recently (!?! when?!) and now is in a love triangle drama.

That was when I lost it. She knew that using her son as an excuse would get me, because I could and always sympathize. And that was when I thought, to hell with helpers. I can do it myself.

And honestly? A helper was one of the worst things we have ever brought into our family.

Of course, I was being really emotional. First of all I really could not believe someone could do such a thing to us. I mean it happens to many people and I hear about it all the time, but perhaps they met really horrible employers. Everyone who knows her knows that our family did not ill-treat her.

She was allowed a smart-phone from the beginning, had access to our internet 24 hours, and when she finishes her work, which is typically around 8pm, she can go back to her room and talk to her family and friends, and Skype with her son however much she likes. Everyday. We just thought that it is quite inhumane to limit a normal person’s contact with their family members. There was no reason to. We never invaded her privacy of stepping into her room. Occasionally she was also allowed to meet her sister and friends for lunches and go for her agency’s maid gatherings. She went back to Philippines four times to see her family while working with us in a short year, once when her grandfather passed away, and three times when we had to go back to Japan for a few weeks.

All things considered, I really think we were not being unreasonable as far as being an employer is concerned. Some friends were shocked at how much freedom we gave her, and warned that we would surely regret it because they will just take advantage of your kindness and ask for more instead of appreciating it and giving the same back to you.

For the first three times she went back to Phillipines, I withheld one month of her salary, but this time around I trusted her and let her withdraw all her money since she said her son needed it, and that’s when she was gone.

Friends gave us the “I told you so, dumbass” sympathy. That we were simply screwed over for being too nice (and dumb).

But back to the very beginning.

The danna and I thought long and hard before we decided to hire a helper for our family after Junya was born. I was doing okay on my own, but it would be nice if I had extra help. We decided we would try to have one since both of us would continue to be working. But we had no idea how this whole thing works. It was our first time.

We sought advices from many friends who have helpers in their family. Some of the most common advices we got were:

“Golden rule: Don’t treat them too bad, don’t treat them too nice, and you’ll be fine.”

“Never ever allow handphones. Don’t let them mix with other helpers.”

“Don’t expect too much. You just have to close one eye for all the things she does.”

“CCTV. MUST.”

“Never trust them too much. They got many funny funny pattern you can never expect.”

The danna politely thanked them, and rejected all these advices secretly.

I mean, none of the advices given were along the lines of

“Just be sincere and kind.”

or

“Give all your love and you will receive the same back”

You know, like how people give advices when it comes to a new relationship or a new pet you bring home. It’s quite sad, don’t you think? To already harbour all these hostile and on-guard vibes before you even welcome someone back to your house.

Honestly? We had lots of fights over this whole helper thing. The thing is, there’s no such thing as a live-in maid in Japan, and no regular Japanese kids grow up with foreign maids in Japan. So the advices were deemed unthinkable to the danna.

How can we treat someone in our family less than how we treat ourselves? They are not any less a human. How can a person not be allowed the freedom to communicate daily with her family? This is not prison. How can a helper eat a separate set of food and not on the same table with the rest of the family?

The danna was not having it. The “treating a maid like a maid” culture just did not make sense to him. I tried to explain to him that in Malaysia, things may work a little differently, and then I proceeded to tell him all the horror maid stories I have heard through friends, be it made-up by someone or happened for real.

The biggest disagreement we had was regarding installing a CCTV. He said there’s no way we will have cameras in our house. I explained that it is a norm for all families who have helpers. And then he asked me, “for what? for checking and monitoring what she does every day?” and I said yes. And he said, “How do you even explain to Junya in the future that we needed a CCTV in our house? Is that what you want to teach Junya? To constantly be wary and suspicious of someone who stays together in our house? And what are you gonna do? Be paranoid and check every single hour?”

I was speechless. He had a point.

I started to wonder how screwed up this whole maid concept is. He was right. How can you consciously choose to treat someone less than best? On the other hand, if you hire any employee, how can you not expect their best work and why must you have to “close one eye” just in fear that they will do something bad to your family?

How can you live with someone you have to be suspicious of all the time, in the same house? If you don’t, then what is the point of a CCTV? I mean, just think about how messed up that sounds.

So what if there is a CCTV. or CCTVs. Tak kan you install one at every corner. For sure you are not gonna have one in your bedroom (do you??????). If they still wanna do something sneaky, they will, regardless of having CCTV or not.

In the end, the danna, being overly trusting as usual, said that we would give our best to our helper from the very beginning, and treat her as a real family member. Just like how you would to any employee. Give your trust first, if you want trust from someone. That was the rule for our family. I liked how it sounded, so I happily and optimistically agreed, and we hired our helper.

To be fair, I think our helper was pretty good with regular house chores, and she was good with Junya. I slowly let my guard down and decided to take a leap of faith and give her more and more trust (but never 100%) as she eased into our family. And there was no major incident that happened, luckily, but over time I did find out some of the little things that really annoyed me.

For example this:

One day I was going through Junya’s milk bottle and I was horrified. Only weeks of negligence can cause this. Or was it laziness? Would she be so careless if it was her own child?

Mothers whose helpers are washing the dishes, please go and check your baby’s milk bottle. Like right now. How long have you not looked at it? I hope that yours is not like this. Because IMAGINE ALL THE BACTERIA YOUR BABY HAS BEEN INGESTING???

I only had myself to blame. It was my own fault because I have not washed Junya’s bottle in a long time. But if I had to do every little house chore myself, then what’s the point of a helper? If I have to check every single thing she does, I may as well do it all myself?

Another issue was food wastage. She had free access to our entire kitchen, and sometimes things like this happened:

These were what I found in the garbage bin. Apparently that was how she cut cherries for Junya’s snacks. Just slice off 2 or 3 cuttable sides, and throw away the whole thing.

(?!?!? Even a noob knows that you cut it around the core, peel off the seed so you can EAT THE ENTIRE CHERRY?!?)

I was so shocked because imagine the 99% of other times that I did not look at the garbage bin, what could have she thrown away? And food wastage is a big, big BIG sin in Japanese families.

As they always say, when it comes to helpers, they “可以偷工减料就尽量减”。And that they “是永远不会跟你省钱的”. I shuddered just thinking about other things that I didn’t manage to find out.

These were just some of the many many other minor incidents, sometimes I politely showed her to do something the way I wished, sometimes I just 忍痛 and just kept quiet, and tried to do as many things myself as I can. Because I can’t be scrutinizing every single thing she does. If I do it will just make things very awkward because she will feel that I do not trust her enough. Sometimes I had to pretend that I didn’t care.

I made sure I cook 100% of Junya’s food, so that none of the工 can 减料. I checked Junya’s stuff periodically to make sure everything was hygenic. Some of the less than perfect house work I could ignore, but when it comes to my own child’s wellbeing nothing can be compromised.

One day I accidentally found out that she has been buying her own groceries without my knowledge. Sometimes I sent her out to buy groceries, and it must have been going on for a while. She would buy the family things, and then a separate grocery for herself and hid it in her room thinking that I wouldn’t notice. (I did because it was so strange that she always rushed back to her room first whenever she came back from the market.) The thing is, she did not hold any cash. We banked in all her salary every month, so where did she get the money from??!

I told the danna about it, and as his usual annoyingly overtrusting self, he gave her 500000% benefit of doubt (maybe her sister gave her cash when they met up? Maybe she brought back from the Philippines?). We did not question her about it, and I just tried to be extra careful with my wallet and cash. If none of our cash went missing, then it must be her own money. And basically if any money was missing, it was my own fault for being careless. A few times I did have cash missing, but the danna was like “are you 100% sure you didn’t miscalculate?” And yes it was indeed possible, being the super careless person like I always am.

And then I had to find out, accidentally again and again, many little things that really made me want to trust her less and less. Once when she went back to Philippines, I checked her room to make sure she didn’t take everything and still had the intention to come back. I was shocked to find my clothes, my make up, some household stuff she took the liberty of taking for her own use (I really hate to use the word “steal” for someone who lives in our house). And by the way, it was disgusting how filthy her room was, for someone who does housework for a living. I guess it’s the same thing as how chefs usually hate cooking at home.

Fine, some of the cosmetics or outfits were things that I didn’t use anymore or probably don’t even remember having, and she must have thought that I get so much sponsored stuff all the time so it’s pretty much free stuff anyway, therefore it’s nothing wrong that she could take for her own use… I guess? But still, not having the courtesy to ask for permission was really disrespectful.

(By the way regarding this issue the danna was like “I guess she really really wanted them? Why don’t you just give her more stuff? Then she won’t take anymore.” Awesome logic.)

But these are just really petty things. I supposed this is what our friends meant by “closing one eye”. I can forget about all these trivial incidents. But the trust and respect that I have built towards her was also slowly crumbling.

It caused so much tension in the family. I began to become more wary of things. Since there was no CCTV, I could only assume that she was doing everything I wish she did.

My imagination started to run wild. I started thinking of all the other possible secretive things she could have done, or other negligence she could have made.

When I had to go out for work and left Junya with her, it was torturous. Every single second I wanted to go home ASAP. I mean, for someone who can do small little sneaky things behind my back, who knows if she really did feed Junya all the food that I cooked? (Or feed half way and just throw away?) Did Junya really finish his lunch as she cheerily told me so, or was it just so it’s easier for everyone or just to 打发 me? Did she really watch him the whole time instead of chatting with other people or playing games on her phone when I was out?

I would never know.

Whenever I asked her, I just had to take her words for it. There was no way I would ever find out. And sadly, I only took half her words for it most of the time. If she really had given her 100% best yet did not gain my trust back, she must have felt really sad too. Anyway she must also have felt that I have become less trusting, because I started taking charge of more things myself, and started to let her be with Junya alone less and less. Our relationship was becoming a little strained.

And I fought with the danna SO. MANY. TIMES. Because of all these issues. More and more small incidents happened, and the danna said it was partly because of my attitude towards her changed and she must have sensed it. And I was like, how could I ever give even more trust to someone who does so many sneaky things?!

For one I am really REALLY bad at confrontations. I never questioned her about all these things because what’s the use? It will cause so much awkwardness and it could even lead to everybody’s ultimate nightmare – that they feel upset with your words and take it out on your kids as a revenge.

The emotional stress became unbearable. I was so tired to constantly be on watchful mode. A few times I cried to my close friends and told them I was feeling so so so so messed up inside. One moment I wished she was gone, but then the next moment I looked at the clean house and fresh laundry, and I suddenly felt very thankful for her. What would I do without her? She was just doing her job! And I started to feel guilty for my own pettiness. I mean, she was considered a really good helper compared to many other scary stories I have heard.

And then the very next moment I was feeling real shit because I knew I couldn’t do without a helper at home and I couldn’t imagine a life without one. I mean, honestly?? I have not swept the floor for one year.

So my emotions rotated between angry – thankful – guilty – shitty – worry , and repeated over and over again THE WHOLE DAY. Every day. I felt like I have gone mental.

I told my friends I did not know which one is more stressful: to not have a helper and deal with the physical stress, or to have one and face the emotional stress. They were like are you serious, of course having to deal with all the housework is much shittier. And why are you even stressing over a maid?!

I don’t know about other families, because most of them seem to do so well with one or even more helpers at home. But not ours.

In our dominantly Japanese-cultured family, it simply did not work. I have talked to a few of my other Japanese friends who stayed in KL and SG, and none of them said they could accept the concept of a helper at home. They were envious that we (mothers with helpers) do not have to do any of the mundane house chores, but if given a choice, they still won’t be hiring one.

To be honest, I even feel a little ashamed that I have one. It made me feel less of a mother. Did I really need one? Am I less capable of other mothers who did it all by themselves? Am I just plain lazy????

Having a helper made my life easier, but not better.

In fact, I think I haven’t been feeling truly happy since she arrived in our house. Now I know why I felt extra liberated and blissful whenever we are back to Japan.

Because we are family again. Just me, the danna, and Junya. The three of us.

And then I realized I have not really treated her as part of our family as I promised myself to. I tried real hard, trust me, I did. But I could not. She was completely an outsider in our house. One who could not fit into our family culture. A family member does not do sneaky things behind your back betting on luck that you will never find out. And on the other hand you don’t always be wary or distrustful towards a family member.

Which was the complete opposite of what we thought life with a helper would be. Then I started wondering what was the point of having one. If I am so unhappy with one, I may as well not have one?

And why can’t we just have robot helpers to do stuff for us??! I mean SERIOUSLY, WHEN IS SOMEONE INVENTING THIS ROBOT HELPER?!?

For the amount we pay to hire a helper, may as well buy a robot who can do most of the jobs, right? I’d gladly pay RM40,000 for this robot, like RIGHT NOW (in instalments). I mean, that’s what you roughly pay for a helper for a contract of two years anyway, plus the ridiculous agent fee.

Besides!!! Robot Helper is probably just a one time fee, which lasts a lifetime, with occasional maintenance? TOTALLY WORTH IT.

Plus, think of the differences between a human helper and a Robot Helper:

  1. A Robot Helper will never wear your clothes without permission.
  2. A Robot Helper will never peel half the prawns and secretly throw half away just because prawn peeling gets too troublesome.
  3. A Robot Helper doesn’t put on full make up and take selfies in the toilet.
  4. A Robot Helper will never compare with other Robot Helpers about their salary. BECAUSE THEY DON’T GET ANY.
  5. Which means, you don’t have to pay your Robot Helper salaries.
  6. A Robot Helper will never request for things, and if it really does, you can always say no without worrying that you will hurt its feelings.
  7. A Robot Helper doesn’t have relatives who die one after another so they can go back to their country to see them. Seriously, 真的有这么多亲戚给你死咩.
  8. A Robot Helper doesn’t get PMS so YOU DON’T HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOUR ROBOT HELPER’S EMOTIONAL SHIT.

 

Conclusion:

Human Helper: 0

Robot Helper: 99999999999999

When can I buy one?

 

Anyway, rant over.

Maybe I am a wizard because the universe gave me exactly what I asked for. Which is maid problems begone. And true enough, she was gone, forever. Which explained why I actually felt a little relieved amidst all the anger when she told me that she was not coming back anymore.

The lesson I learnt in this incident, was not about trust or faith or luck and all those moral bullshit. It was how much I didn’t want a helper in our house subconsciously. I just didn’t believe I could do without one, and I let people talked me into believing that I couldn’t do without one. And I hated myself so much for it.

I don’t think I will get a helper again after this experience. At least for now.

My friends all think that I have gone insane because… Let’s face it. I am just about to have a second baby and I decided to take it to war all by myself lol.

But I really, really, really don’t want to live like that all over again anymore.

I could not believe I allowed myself to sink so deep into emotional distress over a helper.

 

Of course, people can give us all sort of other advices.

“Getting a good helper is pure luck. Pray for better luck next time!”

“Next time choose an older one who preferably have many kids so they will have to depend on your family for salary and won’t run away.”

“Told you. NEVER treat them too nice.”

“Set your boundaries for the next one. Never bring her out. AND NO PHONE.”

 

But that wasn’t what our family wanted. That’s not how we wanted to treat someone.

I refuse to subject myself to all these emotional stress that comes together with hiring a helper anymore. There was no way you could not give any trust to them, and there’s no way you can trust them 100%. And it’s just wrong to trust someone half-heartedly. It is a lose lose situation from all aspects.

I know a lot of friends who told me that their helpers are like family, and they trust them with all their hearts, and their kids cry and miss so much when the helper decided to return to their country, etc. But to me maybe they are just fortunate enough not to find out some of the most shocking and gross things they did not know. Maybe these are also the people who are fortunate enough to be able to not care about finding out. (Ignorance is bliss.) Or maybe they are truly fortunate to get really god-like helpers.

I don’t want to bet on my luck for a good helper. We have tried our best and our best was not enough. And her best was not enough for us too. There was simply too big a culture gap.

Of course some families prosper and live a very good life with the help of helpers. Maybe given time I would even try again. But for now I have decided that the helper culture just does not fit our family. Dear Helper, it’s not you. It’s me.

I want to be fully responsible for every single action I do regarding my children. And if anything goes wrong, it is all my fault and I don’t have to blame someone else for it. If I make a mistake, I will just blame myself and learn to forgive. But if someone else did, then I had two people to blame – the person and myself. And it’s probably harder to forgive, too.

The families in Japan never have any helpers. They have Roombas and kick-ass washing machines and awesome kitchen knives. Some Japanese mothers have two, three, four kids, and all of them do without helpers. It is the norm. And they cook gourmet meals 3 times a day plus bentos. With or without cute characters. And some have work at the same time.

Heck, my grandmother had 11 children and she probably didn’t even have a rice cooker.

And I am a mother just like every other mother in this world. There’s nothing I can’t do out of love for our children.

Sakura and all things pink 2016

March 30, 2016 in Japan / Shoutouts 2 Cheesed

Sakura 2012

Sakura 2013

Sakura 2014

Last year we missed sakura in Japan due to busy family schedule. But this year we are back in spring time, although not in time to catch full bloom but I did get to enjoy allllll the sakura and spring special editions!

Gari Gari Kun Ice Cream, Sakura Mochi edition! I just looove his expression lol.

Starbucks Sakura edition.

Even the cups have a hint of pink!

JunJun’s first Starbucks – Strawberry Sakura Latte!!

Sakura Jelly and white ichigo!

That’s what we do every year when I get to meet up with RinRin in spring!

Sakura roll cake from the combini.

Even Redbull is in pink!!!!! This one is for the danna when he drives haha.

Even beer has to be pink T___T

This one is not really related to sakura, but there’s a Sailormoon X Isetan Pop Up Shop selling Sailormoon cosmetic and fahsion stuff, which I missed T___T.

From the airport! Sakura Kitty flask!

Sakura Mt Fuji Kitty tea cup

Sakura Millefeuille

Sakura Matcha KitKat

 

Shinjuku Gyoen

I knew that I was gonna miss sakura again this year because I couldn’t stay long enough since I won’t be allowed to fly anymore by the time sakura blooms T__T.

But I was hopeful!! Every year there are a few species of sakura that blooms extra early, so this trip my mission was to search for sakura for hanami.

Miyabi was sooooo nice in helping me check almost everyday on sakura forecast to help me find my sakura!!! I was too late for Kawazuzakura (which typically blooms late February), but we decided that we would give Shinjuku Gyoen a try since there were many different species of sakura trees there.

We were determined to search for whatever hana we could mi!!!!!

All the sakura omiyage selling at the park!!

Sooooo much pink!

Sakura senbei

I bought Sakura mochi. Just looking at the packaging makes me happy!!!

We spotted a few trees but there were barely budding.

A few ume (i think!) were blooming beautifully though!

Tsubaki.

And as we walked further down, there was a lone tree. Big, giant, pink tree. The ground was dotted with pink too.

It was Kanzakura (Winter Sakura).

It was my first time seeing Kanzakura. It was too beautiful T_____T. I was too happy T___T.

Sakura mission completed for year 2016.

Thank you Miyabi for entertaining my stubborn requests T_T.

<3

A sakura petal.

JunJun was napping in the stroller for almost 3 hours, and it was the coldest day ever in Tokyo. I had to keep checking if he was still breathing @.@

Miyabi and I waited in the cold for Junya to wake up, cuz it was too precious for him to miss!

Finally, JunJun’s first hanami! ^^

Hopefully we get to come back next year with Junjun and baby sister again ^^

See you soon. <3

.

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Lifestyle Shoutout

WAKUWAKU JAPAN: KAWAII ASIA

As I have mentioned in my previous blog post before, Kawaii Asia is a fashion/entertainment programme that brings veiwers the latest news on Japan’s Kawaii culture.

Kawaii Asia features six popular models, including Harajuku models from Asobi System – bringing you the latest news on Japan’s “kawaii” culture. They are showing tons of info on kawaii items and kawaii spots around Japan, as well as tie-ins with Japan’s biggest fashion events, Tokyo Runway and Kobe Collection.

Timeslot: Every Friday 19:30 – 20:00

On WAKUWAKU JAPAN, available on Singtel TV on Channels CH268/520/616, and StarHub TV on CH831

Don’t forget that you can get the kawaii goods introduced on the program on Tokyo Otaku Mode!!

Cute items like the sleep aid puppy and Rainbow Alpacasso I received earlier, and more!

Sushi socks, anyone?

Check out Kawaii Asia!!

By the way, “WAKUWAKU magazine”, a web magazine featuring a lot of fun information about Japan is now released.

Check out their daily updates on Japanese entertainments, cultures, and WAKUWAKU JAPAN TV program information. Don’t miss it!

Stored in Japan / Shoutouts | 2 Cheesed