Whitening… Ageing…

Had dinner with some friends one evening and the issue of skincare specifically whitening products was brought up. The person who raised this said that this is a segment he would not prefer not to pursue business in. I was taken aback because I thought that the area of whitening products would clearly be a lucrative business. This of course piqued my interest and I asked “Why?”

His response was one that I didn’t quite expect, he said that personally he had as issue with promoting products for people in pursuit of a fairer skin. On the other hand, I didn’t have an issue. I just felt the reason why people would even go into whitening products is not to lighten the skin-type but more for reducing the spots due to pigmentation. Well, at least that’s what I would do for I did freak out a little when I saw spots appearing on my skin.


These days…

These days, I haven’t been at my best. I feel rage, I feel sadness, I feel a sense of loss and some days, hopelessness. I feel a whole range of emotions ranging from anger to then just pure tiredness.

I hope this is just a phase… a black hole that I have just stumbled upon and then I WILL myself to pick up, stand up, dust off the dirt and then move on. This is how I’ve dealt with setbacks and this is how I will continue to deal with it.  I know I can, I know I will be able to get through this. Just like I have done so before…..

Hokkaido for CNY 2018

This Lunar New Year has been quite a muted affair for us as we decided to make a trip out of it instead of staying in for the festivities. Partially because the Man has been on the road quite a fair bit and family holidays are probably the best time we see each other every waking moment so late last year, he decided to book us three for a winter vacation.

The challenge we did find was where? Okay, so #firstworldproblems. But the highlight of the trip was for me to eventually head back to the slopes and for the little one to eventually learn skiing. The Man did some research and found out that because Bub was under 4, many of the ski resorts would not allow her to join in the group classes (we later found out it was because of insurance undertaken by many of the schools). So the only way that we could possibly let her learn skiing was through private lessons.

So the nearest place that offered skiing/ snowboarding with child-minding services would be Club Med in Hokkaido. We last visited Club Med Sahoro nearly 12 years ago and had quite a fun time learning how to snowboard then. We knew that the premises would be slightly dated given that it has yet to undergo a major renovation. That said, we weren’t highly impressed with the rooms then and I don’t think it would impress us 12-13 years on.

That’s when the Man (through more planning) discovered Club Med Tomamu, a newly opened sister resort also opened in Hokkaido. The place looks spanking new and huge! So he decided to book it for our #limfambamvacay! I will share more about our Club Med experience in the next blog post but for now, I really do want to share about how traveling to Hokkaido (that looks relatively near) is actually quite a “pain”.

Apparently, we have been told that ANA and Singapore Airlines operate direct flights to Hokkaido during the winter season. When the Man tried to book our flights via Singapore Airlines, it turned out to be crazy expensive. Since we were already going to splurge on the all-inclusive stay at Club Med Tomamu for our trip, we decided to take JAL Premium Economy for the holiday which suited our family budget.

It took us almost a good 14 – 16 hours to get from Singapore to Hokkaido. Our flights from Singapore to Tokyo was about 8plus in the morning and by the time (inclusive of transit time and traveling time on the road) we arrived at our hotel in Sapporo, it was nearly 12 midnight. The Bub was really tired and I had to carry the child in the cold while the Man juggled with our 2 large suitcases and 2 snowboards.

Our trip was all of 9 days but we broke it up and stayed in Sapporo for 3 nights and another 5 nights at Club Med Tomamu. The break was quite good as we took it slow and easy in the city before heading out to the mountainous area. The train ride from Sapporo Central Station took us about 2 hours and there was a shuttle from the resort that brought us to the door-step.

For our return, we left Club Med Tomamu at about 9am in the morning on Sunday and only arrived back in Singapore at 1am, Monday morning. The journey felt incredibly long probably because of the transit time again and also partly because the Bub fell sick on the way back with a sore throat and a high fever. That said, we made it back home in one piece even though we are really quite tired.

Also, last we checked, Scoot also offers direct flights to Hokkaido. But there are pros and cons in taking low-cost carrier flights so do weigh your options. 🙂

Will be summarising our little trip to Hokkaido and Club Med Tomamu real soon (where the Bub learned skiing) on the blog but for more current updates, do follow us on our Instagram Account: Sophie_x_mama.j0.

That’s it for now, nights!

New routine for Saturdays

Most of our Saturdays used to be filled with play-dates with our BFF but since the start of the year, the Bub decided that she wanted to learn ballet. Since the Man has his round of golf on Saturday mornings often leaving us both to our own devices and coupled with the Bub’s desire to learn ballet, I decided that maybe it’s time to let her take on a new activity to fill up our weekends. Trying to find things to keep a toddler occupied can sometimes be quite mind-boggling as well.

Thanks to a recommendation from another Mom, we managed to find a ballet school that’s quite close to home and the timing also suited as well as it was in the morning. The Bub did a trial class with the school last year and had a great time prancing around in her tutu skirt with the rest of the other girls. Right after the lesson, I asked if she wanted to continue, to which she answered “YASS!”. So I signed her up.

It’s been about 3 weeks since we formally started her on lessons and she is having a good time at class. Her coordination seemed to have improved but she can’t still exactly articulate fully what she is actually learning during the class so I’m hoping when it’s time for the parent to sit in and observe what the child did during the term, I am able to see how the Bub did.

One thing I did notice that has improved for the Bub is that she is usually famished straight after ballet lesson which finishes at 11.30am. It actually is a good timing for we head off to lunch and I don’t need much cajoling for her to finish off everything that I place on her plate until she tells me she has enough. Win for me!

Now, the next part of my post relates to a “What in the world am I thinking of?” kind of moment. The Man and I often talked about this.. letting the Bub have a care-free childhood, one that’s filled with play so we really did refrain from signing up on too many enrichment classes. But then, there’s swimming where it’s an essential life-skill that she needed to have. There’s also Berries. That’s non-negotiable as the Man strongly felt that learning Mandarin and having the ability to speak it fluently is an essential skill in today’s world. So for the past year, those were the 2 classes we have signed the Bub up for.

Then, there came Ballet. That was what the Bub really wanted and given that we often have to fill up Saturdays with things to do, I might as well let her take something she really wanted to do.

And the last class that I am now thinking or rather have signed her up for is Phonics. Why phonics? Although it’s already built in to her new school curriculum, I realised that her foundation to phonics isn’t quite as strong yet. She recognises all the letters in the alphabets but not the sound that each letter makes. If she possess a basic understanding of phonics or have a foundation in phonics, she would be able to go on to reading and recognising the words faster when she starts formal primary education. Or so I thought.

We recently did a trial session for phonics at School of Concepts and parents had the option of sitting in for the first lesson with the rest of the sessions being a drop-off class subsquently. I appreciated the fact that parents could sit in the first session to understand the principles behind the school’s methodology; understand how the teachers ran the lesson as well as to observe how the chilid would behave during the session.  Sophie attended the lesson with 2 of her friends from her previous school. There were loads of screaming throughout the 45 minute session but the teachers were very patient and managed to draw their attention using interesting props to teach them about the letter ‘A’ and the sound that it makes.

We’ve decided to let her try out a term at SoC for a while and see how that goes. From the looks at how she is enjoying herself during the first lesson, I’m really hoping that this will get her all excited about learning something new in a non-threatening manner.


Cute Disney Dim Sum at Crystal Lotus

At the start of 2018, we made a trip down to Hong Kong and stayed a total of 3 days/ 2 nights at Disneyland. This time round, we decided to check ourselves into the Disneyland Hotel (which is the main hotel for Disneyland). Even though it was slightly older than the Disney Explorers Lodge Hotel, the benefits as a guest of the Disneyland Hotel room package was quite attractive. We received complimentary fast passes for several rides in the park itself as well as a reserved sitting area at the Night Parade. The hotel also house one of the must-visit Chinese restaurants in Disneyland so I’m glad we didn’t have to move too far in order to get decent Chinese food.

One of the things I had wanted to do was to try out the Disney-themed dim sum available only on weekends at Crystal Lotus Restaurant. But as our trip didn’t extend beyond the weekend and I didn’t want to miss out on trying the utterly cute and possibly over-priced cute Disney dim sum, there was an opportunity to preorder these items if an advance notice of 24 hours was given. So bascially, that was what I did.

Here was what we ordered for our lunch:

  • Duffy and Shellie May Steam Sweet Buns, 2 pcs: HKD 78
  • Three Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Buns, 3 pcs: HKD 88
  • Little Green Men Pork and Vegetable Buns, 3 pcs: HKD 88
  • Mickey’s Seafood Glutinous Pancake (with Hot Sauce), 4 pcs: HKD 78

 Of all of the dim-sum served, the most intricately designed ones were the Three Green Men and the Duffy and Shellie May buns. They looked almost too cute to be eaten, but we did anyway.

The Bub had a fun time plucking out the eyes from the alien buns and the ears off the bears. She even nibbled them. That to me is quite a feat as she is no fan of steamed buns.

She did enjoy the Mickey shaped seafood glutinous pancake and finished one piece of it on her own. Again, she’s no fan of sweet stuff so if this came in the shape of a waffle or pancake, it will be left untouched on her plate.

Overall a fun dining experience to remember by one’s Disney holiday. The dim sum was cute to look at but beyond that, taste-wise would not leave a lasting impression.

BRUNO @ Home: Cheesy Egg Toast

Some of my colleagues have asked me what is it like working on 3 days, is it difficult to adjust and do I really work 3 days? Well, I have to say the experience of working 3 days is actually quite pleasant. I work 2 days and get 2 days off and then work 1 day and get the weekend off. It does offer me a fair bit of flexibility. That said, for someone who doesn’t quite sit still at home, I do find myself trying to pack my calendar to make the most of the 2 days that I don’t work. Also, if you are thinking ”Wow, that’s a pretty good deal to have!”, I have to add that the pay does commensurate with the number of days that I work with okay?. :p

Thankfully, I have a fellow pal @ Mama Libby to keep me company on the 2 days that I don’t work and this is what we got up to this morning. Whipping up a simple and quick home-cooked breakfast on our BRUNO that’s also fancy enough to impress friends with over brunch. 🙂

Try it and do follow our undomestic adventures over on Instagram > brunohotplatesg


New Year, New School

Hello there….

If you have been following our blog for a while now, apologies for not updating it frequently. Instagram seems to be a quicker way for regular updates and a channel that we are using it much often for the past couple of months. Follow us there if you haven’t already >> IG Handle: sophie_x_mama.j0 (I know, it’s super long and it’s not snazzy or the coolest).

With just about 3 weeks into 2018, there are a couple of new things that we are embracing with regards to our routine. One for sure is the change of the little one to a new school. Truth be told, we didn’t really see a need to change schools for a while since she settled in really quite nicely in her first school from Infant Care, Toddler Care and then on to Nursery One. But there were a couple of personnel changes in the school that prompted us to search around for other schools.

The search for a new school was left for me to settle and with newfound knowledge of what we should look out for in the Bub’s new school, I began my search around the neighbourhood. Shortlisted a total of 4 schools and the last one which we eventually decided upon – came as a surprise to me for I didn’t think that the Man would select it, but, well, he did.

I thought I’ll just share the process:

  • Curriculum: This time round, we were a more particular when it came to the child’s curriculum. For instance, what is the school’s philosophy; how are the lessons structured; what will my child be learning during the school term, will my child be exposed to equal amounts of study, play and then languages, etc. How about phonics lessons for the child? Was that being built into the curriculum, etc. It was interesting to see how each school depending on their discipline mapped out the lesson plans for the children.
  • Extra-curriculum lessons: Some schools that we looked at offer the parents the option of signing up for additional classes which could range from speech and drama lessons to sport. We liked that it offered the kids additional enrichment which we didn’t need to have the burden of sending the child to on a weekend for a small fee. This is of course completely optional for parents to consider and when Sophie was in her previous school, we signed her up for additional sports ball classes which she really enjoyed as it exposed her to different type of ball games and introduced her to some semblance of being in a team.
  • Activities during the day: One of the things that the Man is most particular about is whether there was time in the child’s programme that were carved out for outdoor play. He wasn’t too keen for Sophie to be cooped up in an air-conditioned room the entire day if that could be helped. So this time round, we went beyond the pre-schools housed in offices to check out pre-schools that operated out of terrace/ stand-alone houses.
  • Meals and Medical quarantine, etc: Lastly, if you are concerned about the meal planning as well as how the school handles their health-checks/ quarantine methods, it’s best to ask the school administrator/ principal during the session as well.

It sure ain’t easy pulling the child from an environment which she had already been used to, classmates who have turned friends, teachers who had nurtured her since young into a new school. That was also a factor for us to consider before we eventually pulled her out. I found myself worrying if she will fit in and whether we made the right decision to pull her out of her comfort zone.

It did help greatly that her mini BFF is already in the same school but then again, it pose another set of challenges as to whether the two of them will get sick of each other, will one feel like the other is imposing into her space, will they continue to fight all.the.time?

So what we did before making the final decision is to bring the little one along for the school visit. At her age now, she’s definitely more aware of her surroundings and environment, so it was important for her to also agree on the change and also to look forward to going to a new school. It did help for the Bub joined in part of the lesson when we did the school tour, she also played with some of the kids who were going to be her new classmates and built rapport with the teachers there. Seeing how quickly she adapted to a new environment during the school visit did put me to ease.

I’m pleased to share that one week has passed since she joined her new school and her teachers shared that she’s adapting well to the new school environment and making fast friends with the kids there. So that was definitely reassuring for me. She’s also gotten a lot more vocal and I’m quite impressed with the activities/ work that she has undertake during the course of the week. Let’s see how she will progress in the coming months ahead but so far, so good! 🙂