Goopy Goodness! (Indoor Activities for toddlers)

This past long weekend we had grand plans of bringing Elliot to the zoo and to various outdoor playgrounds to enjoy time as a family. Alas, the dreaded haze returned to Singapore and clouded what was meant to be a wonderful weekend together, casting a shadow over our outdoor plans.

But no matter. We didn’t want to let a little haze get in the way of family time. Friday was spent roaming around Plaza Singapura super duper early. Let me share with you a little tip, that I noticed a few other families also seemed to do: Malls in Singapore are mostly empty before 11 am. Go to a mall early and you get the whole place to yourself. You can run like a crazy toddler (or woman) through an empty floor, sit for as long as you want on the coin-operated mechanical kiddy rides. Because Spotlight opens early as well, we enjoyed roaming the aisles looking at the colourful fabrics and home crafts. We left just before 12 noon and hardly encountered much crowd.

E having fun at Spotlight!
E having fun at Spotlight!

On Saturday, we got up early and spent the entire morning making goop.

I found the recipe on my favourite parenting channel on YouTube, What’s Up Moms – they called it Non-Newtonian Fluid, but I just call it goop!

Goop is incredibly easy to make. To me, DIY kids activities need to require as few ingredients / materials as possible, be as easy as possible to make and quick and easy to clean-up afterwards.

So after researching many, many, many DIY kids activities, I finally settled on making GOOP!

The result was SOOOO much fun, I really can’t wait to share it with everyone.

1) Corn starch
2) Food colouring
3) Water

1) Measure out 1 cup of corn starch into a plastic bowl
2) Mix the food colouring with 1/3 cup of water
3) Pour the coloured water into the corn starch
4) Use a tablespoon to mix it up
5) PLAY!

I know it seems extremely easy. It really was! And it was so much fun. The end result is this gooey viscous liquid that “solidifies” when you touch it or hit it but then melts when it is left alone. Maybe some of you might have made this in school, unfortunately I didn’t!

E loved playing with it, because in his own words, he was “making cake”. But he didn’t like touching the goop with his hands. That’s why he decided to use a spoon and a measuring cup instead. I, on the other hand, was content to dig my fingers into the thick liquid – playing with the unique viscous texture! Needless to say, it was fun for everyone!

The viscous liquid took shape in my palm
The viscous liquid took shape in my palm
E spent about 1.5 hours playing with it. He said he was “making a cake”.
It looks like a liquid, but it's pretty thick!
It looks like a liquid, but it’s pretty thick!

Do let me know in the comments if you have tried this out!



It is undeniable that Kyoto is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so, like our food choices, we were overwhelmed with places to see, things to do. However, with a toddler, we were really limited to what we could actually comfortably and safely explore. So we decided not to stress ourselves out by trying to see everything – we told ourselves that we could always come back. So here is #TravellingtoKyotowithaToddler Tip 6: There are numerous open parks in Kyoto for kids to run around. The kids will enjoy running around in the open space much more than being strapped to a pram. Yes – we learnt this the hard way.


The Kyoto Imperial Palace is surrounded by the Kyoto Imperial Garden which comprises many sprawling gardens, tended to with traditional Japanese restraint. We easily spent a few hours walking around. The only problem was the gravel grounds which made pushing a stroller a real pain. But there’s nothing that could have been done, except if you planned beforehand and brought the toddler out in a baby carrier, if the kiddies are still light enough. Mr E hated the carrier since he was a few days old so it was never an option for us. Oh and #TravellingtoKyotowithaToddler Tip 6: Do register for the Kyoto Palace tours a day or two before because it is absolutely impossible to get a slot if you just appear on the day itself. I don’t think they allow children (you may want to double check) so I one of the adults may have to sit out the tour.


On one of the days we bravely embarked on a five-hour walking tour throughout Kyoto called the “Walk in Kyoto, Talk in English” tour. I love going on guided tours because if the guide is good, they really open your eyes and show you a whole new perspective to a city. Luckily for us, the guide we had was as wonderful as we hoped. Our guide, Shomi, who said that the easiest way to remember her name was to think, “Shomi (show me) Kyoto!” was fluent in English and was as witty as she was knowledgeable about the old city’s history and culture.

During the five-hour tour, we visited the Higashi-Honganji temple one of the largest temples in Kyoto (or in Japan? I can’t remember) made completely out of wood. She also shared how when the temple burnt down, during the rebuilding, devotees who had no money offered their hair because apparently to strengthen the hemp ropes. Because the main hall had been destroyed in a fire in the past, she pointed out how elements of water had been incorporated into the architecture in an effort to ward off fires. After the temple, we also visited a few shinto shrines, Gojo-rakuen (the former Geisha town), tofu, fans and pottery workshops.

Rope of hemp and hair
Rope of hemp and hair at the Higashi-Honganji temple

While the tour was very interesting to us adults, it was quite taxing on Mr E who had to eat his lunch on the go and missed two naps. He tried to nap in the pram but was often jolted awake by the gravelly grounds of some temples and parks. As you can see, he was not in the best mood when we were at the temple and had to be dragged along the wooden floor. But cest la vie. This holiday was not meant for him alone to enjoy! #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 7: Don’t plan the whole itinerary around the child. Do what you want to do as well, the child will adapt and go along. He’ll survive.  He needs to learn that he’s not the centre of the universe. If you do happen to go for the “Walk in Kyoto, Talk in English” tour, bring lots of biscuits and water and also a lunchbox because they only have a 20-minute refreshment break, no actual lunch break.

Mr E the Lazy Legs!
Mr E the Lazy Legs at the Higashi-Honganji temple
Elliot and me during the
Elliot and me during the “Walk in Kyoto Talk in English” tour



The family posing with the owner of a 50-year old sweet shop!


So after the successful five-hour walk we decided to attempt another walking tour – this time around the Gion district, famous for its mysterious residents, the Geisha. Run by the WaRaiDo Guide Network, the same company as the “Walk in Kyoto, Talk in English” tour, we were not disappointed by the quality of the commentary and the guide’s rich historical and cultural knowledge.

She went in-depth about the identifying traits between a Geiko (the term for Geisha in Kyoto) and Maiko, the gruelling training process, how a patron goes about engaging a Geiko or Maiko for their tea party, where the Geiko and Maiko entertain, how to identify a teahouse (where a Geiko or Maiko entertain), how to identify a Geiko house and much more. It really brought the whole Gion area to life. I just LOVE tours. I truly feel as though I see a place with new eyes while walking with an experienced guide.

I cannot recommend these two tours enough. I guess if you only have time for one, do the Gion After Dark Walking Tour simply because the Geisha culture is just so fascinating.

#TravellingwithaToddler Tip 8: I do strongly suggest you let the child run around like crazy before so he / she is thoroughly exhausted during the tour. After spending the whole day in the stroller, Mr E was NOT impressed when he found out he had to spend another two hours constrained. He was understandably cranky and let it show. If you know him, he generally doesn’t cry in public or throw tantrums or complain, however, embarrassingly, he did make it known that he was unhappy that he had to spend another two hours in the stroller right in the heart of the Gion district, which is the LAST place you want your child to cry.

The picturesque Gion district. This famous bridge was featured in Arthur Golden's
The picturesque Gion district. This famous bridge, Tatsumi Bashi, was featured in Arthur Golden’s “Memoirs of a Geisha” where the Chairman meets a young Chiyo
Do not be fooled by their dull appearance. These non-descript teahouses have hosted colourful parties between Geishas and their patrons for centuries
Do not be fooled by their dull appearance. These non-descript teahouses have hosted colourful parties between Geishas and their patrons for centuries
The wooden tablets by the door indicates how many Maiko live in this Geisha house
The wooden tablets by the door indicates how many Maiko live in this Geisha house
Teahouses only organise parties between Geisha, Maiko and their patrons. They do not cook food on their premises. As such, they often order food from surrounding restaurants. These restaurants send courses after courses of ambrosia to the teahouse on bicycles! The bicycle delivery boy must then whisk the food, freshly prepared from the kitchen, to the teahouse quickly. Imagine what will happen if he fell or tripped! I dare not!
Teahouses only organise parties between Geisha, Maiko and their patrons. They do not cook food on their premises. As such, they often order food from surrounding restaurants. These restaurants send courses after courses of ambrosia to the teahouse on bicycles! The bicycle delivery boy must then whisk the food, freshly prepared from the kitchen, to the teahouse quickly. Imagine what will happen if he fell or tripped! I dare not!


Nara Deer Park was highly anticipated by all of us. The thought of free-roaming deer coming up to us in a beautiful idyllic park was just too exciting. Of course, hundreds of other tourists also found the idea of free-roaming deer appealing. We travelled to Nara by train which took about an hour and a half. Not too long, but I suggest you bring snacks and some sort of entertainment to amuse your child. It then took another 20-30 minutes bus ride to the Nara Deer Park.

Little did we realise, just how aggressive these deer actually are. While they do not attack people, the bolder of the lot would actually go up to people and grab their food. My father had some food in a paper bag and the deer snatched it out of his hand and ate ALL OF IT. The paper bag, the paper wrapping and the sausage roll. We were traumatised. Luckily the deer were quite gentle with Mr E.

Mr E at Nara Deer Park
Mr E at Nara Deer Park

While at the Nara Deer Park we made a rookie tourist mistake. We were so tired we just decided to eat at the restaurant nearest the park. BIG MISTAKE. The restaurant was so overpriced and the food so ordinary that it kind of spoiled our day. Luckily, after lunch we walked through the park and found a nice area away from the busy main thoroughfare. There were not many deer there because most of them were bent on snatching food from tourists so it was quite a lovely place for Mr E to run around uninhibited. Incidentally, there was a group of Japanese school children who were playing games in the open field where we were so Mr E ran straight up to them and tried to join in. I must give credit to the Japanese culture of tolerance and politeness, the school children were so polite that they didn’t push him away and let him run around amongst them.

#TravellingwithaToddlerTip 9: Do NOT eat at the restaurants at Nara Deer Park. I suggest eating at the main Nara town, it is much prettier and there’s so many more cost effective options. Head to the park after lunch and maybe bring a picnic – tucked safely in your bag – and then walk about 10-minutes into the park to find a quiet area away from the deer and enjoy the rest of the day. 

Wow, I just realised I’ve written a whole novel. Thank you if you have gotten through all three posts. In short, Kyoto is truly perfect for children. Especially Kyoto in Spring or Autumn. The weather is mild and the gardens are all rich in colour. While I did encounter some nasty eggs, most Japanese are pretty gentle and polite which makes travelling all the more safe and easy.




Naturally, when it comes to eating in Kyoto, we were spoilt for choice. One thing I have to say was, we were surprised to find that tatami mat restaurants became a problem for us. You would think that tatami mats were the perfect solution to dining out with kids!

So the first tatami mat restaurant we went to was a complete eye-opener. It was our first proper Japanese lunch in Japan with Mr E on our first day in Kyoto. For some reason, Mr E went NUTS. It was a whole new experience for him – having adults sit on the floor with him, he just went insane. If you know him, you’d know he’s a pretty well-behaved kid, especially at the dining table. So we were shocked when suddenly he went crazy, He was running around the room, grabbing everything he could get his hands on – spare chopsticks, napkins, decorative stones, slippers, umbrellas… We then realised that having a child sit on a tatami mat gives the child a false (or perhaps true) sense of freedom. The only reason he is so well-behaved at other restaurants back home in Singapore is because he’s literally constrained in a high chair, he can’t escape. So #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 4: If your child is like mine, inquisitive, try your very best to avoid restaurants with tatami mats, where possible. Or just ask to sit at a table with chairs rather than on a tatami mat. OR if all else fails, just ask for a private room with a tatami mat – they normally agree because it’s always safer for everyone that an over-enthusiastic child be kept inside a private room than running wild outside disturbing the other patrons. 


As you can imagine, it was almost impossible to avoid restaurants with tatami mats in Kyoto – so after a few meals, we improvised. Some restaurants provided these little wooden chairs that kids would sit on on top of the tatami mat. The next day, we had lunch at this very famous 600-year-old udon shop, Honke Owariya  near the Imperial Palace. Before going in, we gave him a stern lecture about how he had to respect the restaurant, its owners, its workers and the other patrons by behaving. He seemed to understand.

The family outside Honke Okinawa
The family outside Honke Owariya

Actually, I’m not sure how much he cared about embarrassing us and himself, but he was pretty well-behaved in the restaurant because we decided to restrain him in the little wooden chair they offered children. We used his belt and created a makeshift safety buckle so that he thought that he was constrained to the chair (just like in high chairs where they have the safety buckle). That kind of worked for a while. It also helped that he was and IS obsessed with udon. So he just sat there quietly devouring up his udon.

The udon set that I had from Honke Owariya
The udon set that I had from Honke Owariya
Mr E finishing up his udon straight from the bowl, in true Japanese form
Mr E finishing up his udon straight from the bowl, in true Japanese form. Can you see the little baby chair he sat on?

To be honest, the udon at Honke Owariya wasn’t as life changing as we expected it to be. I guess that really is the true burden of being a 600-year-old udon shop: the extremely high expectations. The udon we had was undeniably springy and soft, but the soup just wasn’t as tasty as we expected it to be. It was nonetheless very cool to have eaten at 600-year-old restaurant. Given that my nation is only JUST turning 50, I don’t think I’m in any way qualified to comment about the cuisine of a restaurant and culture thousands of years older than mine.

ANYWAY, since we are on the topic of food, I am so thankful that Mr E is truly in love with Japanese food. It made feeding him SO easy. Japan has some of the freshest produce in the world so all of us, not only Mr E, were spoiled for choice. Almost everyday, my dear mother would go to the grocery store to buy fresh cherry tomatoes, fresh cherries, straw berries and one day, we even enjoyed super sweet Japanese grapes with the extra crunch inside and were just at the verge of fermentation. Oh my, DELICIOUS.

Ok, to round off this food section, I guess there were THREE standout restaurants for us that impressed me because of the quality of their food and their service toward families with kids.


If I had to rate the restaurant with the best cost to quality ratio, it would definitely be Chojiroa sashimi and sushi restaurant we had on our first night in Kyoto. It is a casual dining restaurant located right in the heart of city, near Gion. Luckily, we asked the ryokan staff to make a reservation for us because when we got there at about 7:30 pm, the queue extended out the door. Luckily we got a booth seat with a high chair for Mr E. We ordered via an iPad which made communication very easy. The prices were at least HALF the prices of restaurants in Singapore so we were going nuts. We just kept ordering and ordering. The staff were so very very friendly and kept playing and talking to Mr E. It really was a very family friendly restaurant but with excellent food. You see, I normally don’t like unagi in Singapore, maybe because the ones I have tried in SIngapore are not as fresh and a bit chewy, but when I bit into the unagi at Chojiro, I could not believe it. It was sweet and so soft that it literally melted in my mouth like butter. The unagi I have had in Singapore has been rubbery and fishy, a complete opposite to the unagi I tried at Chojiro. The rest of the sushi and sashimi we ordered were no less incredible. And to top it all off, the cost of the whole dinner, where we were literally ordering without control, was only S$100. My father commented it would cost at least three times more in Singapore. Oh and please don’t ask me about food photos – I don’t think I have the capacity or restraint to be a food blogger because I can’t bear wasting time taking photos of food.

Chojiro sushi and sashimi restaurant
Chojiro sushi and sashimi restaurant


The next restaurant I would definitely go back to in Kyoto is Hiro Yakiniku Restaurant also in the heart of Gion. Sorry, again, I really don’t have photos of the food because I really wasn’t setting out to blog about my meals. But trust me, it was INCREDIBLE. It came recommended by a very discerning luxury magazine editor friend of mine so we were assured the quality of the meat was amazing. The restaurant put us in a private room which gave Mr E freedom to run around the room as fast as he could ignoring our shouts of, “Don’t go near the fire!!! Don’t go near the window!!! Don’t touch that!!” But otherwise, it was a lot of fun and the beef was, as I shared earlier, INCREDIBLE.

I believe there were three yakiniku sets we could choose from OR we could choose from the a la carte. The glutton in me ordered the set dinner, but in retrospect, maybe we should have ordered a la carte simply because when you order the set menu you can’t choose the meat they will give you. So while the restaurant was discerning with the quality of the meat they served, they were undiscerning with the part of the cow they served. So we were presented with beef heart, beef liver, beef stomach, alongside the more palatable parts. My father was in gizzard heaven because he normally doesn’t get the chance to eat all these innards, so he was eating them up! During dinner, i mustered up enough courage to try beef liver and surprisingly it wasn’t as strong tasting or awful as I thought it would be.

Hiro yakiniku restaurant
Mr E and Kung Kung at Hiro yakiniku restaurant


Finally, the last restaurant I’d like to mention is one that we happened upon by chance. We decided to spend our second last day in Kyoto walking through Gion again – we decided it was too much trouble to go to Kobe just to eat Kobe beef. Although we didn’t go to Kobe, we were still bent on eating Kobe beef and after getting rejected by a few top restaurants because we didn’t have reservations, we dejectedly trudged through the streets looking for a restaurant that had good food. Note to self and #TravellingwithaToddlerinKyoto Tip 5: ALWAYS make a lunch / dinner reservation before you head out for the day. Get your concierge or hotel staff to do it. You do NOT want to be pushing a stroller around Kyoto looking for food. Not only is it a waste of your precious holiday time, it is tiring and demoralising. So after about 20-minutes of walking around, my father gestured for us to go into this small restaurant by the street corner. Tired, hungry and cranky and that was me, not the baby – we went into this tiny restaurant that literally only sits about 20 people max. There was only ONE guy manning the whole restaurant. We secretly suspected he was the chef, waiter, dishwasher and proprietor all rolled into one. We also guessed he probably inherited the shop from his father and had decided to follow his fathers footsteps. Apparently, Kyoto people hardly sell their landed property, especially the old-style houses. It’s really unheard of in Kyoto to sell the house that your parents left you. Back to the nice chef proprietor, he was also one of the nicest guys we’d met in Kyoto. Seriously. SOOOO NICE. He graciously allowed Mr E to run around the restaurant, walked us upstairs to show us where the bathrooms were – which amazingly included a baby changing station, filled up our teacups, washing plates, cutting vegetables, cooking noodles… All with a big smile on his face.

Ok, so maybe we also made his day because if we didn’t walk in, there would only be two other people for lunch that day.

So, before I get ahead of myself, I must go back to why my father chose this restaurant. He said he saw a big picture of marbled beef outside the restaurant. So we assumed it was a steak house / restaurant selling grilled beef. We were so excited, but also starving so at that point would eat anything. So when we went in, we expected to be hit with pages and pages of beef in his menu. Unfortunately, the only menu he had in English was a typed-out A4 sheet that said something vaguely about a set lunch with fish, leeks and green soba soup. Imagine our disappointment. Fish and leeks? And green soba soup. So with much confusion and feeling extremely disappointed, we ordered four bowls of green soba noodle soup. He graciously took our orders and started work.

It was an hour into the meal preparation that we realised our tragic mistake. Things take a bit longer when you are the restaurant owner, dish washer, waiter all rolled into one. We were running after Mr E on the second floor when we stumbled upon this beautiful menu in Japanese with glossy pages of deliciously marbled beef. It was like a hallelujah moment. I felt as though a light switch went on, or some hallowed stage light suddenly turned towards us. The same marbled beef we saw outside the shop. YES, it was true! This really was a yakiniku or steak house. It wasn’t a mirage we saw out there in the wilderness where people without lunch reservations go to wander! It was just unfortunate that his English menu was a bit confusing and wasn’t clear! And also because he couldn’t speak English. This poor man so kindly prepared this crazy stupid tourists leek and green soba noodle soup when they were in a premium steak house!!! He was probably thinking, “These poor poor Chinese tourists. They have no money and are so desperate that all they can afford to eat is leak and green soba noodle soup.” So we quickly ran downstairs and pointed to this brochure, “Is this true?? Do you really serve beef??” And he nodded and said yes. And we said, “Yes! Please prepare this for us!” Unfortunately, we only ordered one set because if we got him to prepare four sets, we were afraid we would be there until dinner. Anyway, my point is, the beef set that finally came was AMAZING. It was made from Kyoto beef (not Kobe) and prepared on hot charcoal – a traditional Kyoto style of cooking on a hoe. It was amazing and such a cultural experience. Apparently Kyoto beef is rarer and finer than Kobe beef, it certainly tasted ambrosial! I felt SO UPSET that we didn’t realise our mistake one hour earlier, otherwise we would all have our own charcoal Kyoto beef set, instead of crowding round my father’s. Lesson learnt. It was a great experience, one we are likely to remember for some time to come!

Unfortunately, the only evidence we have of this restaurant is this matchbox that we collected as a souvenir. So, your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to read the words on this matchbox and tell me the name of this restaurant so I know that it is much more than a wonderful desert mirage!

[EDIT: I just realised the matchbox I initially put up was for Honke Owariya. I am looking for another clue and will put it up when I can find it.]

Thanks for reading!!!

Part 1: This Little Kiddy Goes To Kyoto

In May, when Mr E was about 20 months, we brought him to Japan for his very first family holiday. Of course, because the thought of a week alone with Mr E in a foreign land felt just too physically and emotionally daunting, we brought reinforcements: The Grandparents.

Grandma and Mr E about to board the plane to Osaka!
Grandma and Mr E about to board the plane to Osaka!

We decided to go to Kyoto over Tokyo because we wanted a city that was a bit slower in pace. We were also drawn to the fact that Kyoto is literally just filled with temples and parks, making it a safe place for an inquisitive toddler to run around in. I use the word literally, literally. It is literally filled with temples and parks! I’m going to share with you how we travelled to and around, where we stayed, what we ate and what we saw in Kyoto in a series of three blog entries. So let’s start with travelling to Kyoto and where we stayed!


It seemed we weren’t the only ones who thought that Kyoto would be a lot more family friendly than Tokyo. The Singapore Airlines flight from Singapore to Osaka was carrying more than the normal load of babies and toddlers. About an hour into the flight, we became fast friends with a French family who were seated at the bulkhead seats across the aisle from us. They too embarked on inter-generational travel as the boistrous one-year-old boy introduced us to his charming mother, father and grandmama. They too were enroute to Kyoto for a family holiday.

To be very honest, the aeroplane ride to Osaka was horrible. Mr E was restless and frustrated. When the air stewardesses first set up his bassinet, he couldn’t wait to hop in and lie down because it was such a novelty to him. Our relief was short-lived when ten seconds later he wanted out and wanted to run up and down the aisle. The stewardesses were less than amused and warned us that we had to keep him off the aisle when they were serving the meals. I think he just wanted to reach across the aisle for his French friend most of the time. But was prohibited from doing so by the stewardesses which further added to his irritable mood. All I can say is, thank goodness for Peppa Pig.

We arrived in Osaka at night. Oh which brings me to #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 1: Don’t be a hero. You are already a hero for travelling with a toddler. To make your journey as comfortable as you can for you and the child, if you arrive at night, book the airport hotel. So luckily we did, and we spent the night at the Kansai Airport Hotel. It was a God-send seriously. We literally just stumbled out of the aeroplane and into our beds. It seemed an Indian family that also travelled with their toddler on the same plane as us had the exact same idea with us giving each other sheepish awkward smiles as we recognised each other in the hotel lobby and walked towards the same lift.

The next day we took the train, which was just outside the Kansai Airport Hotel, to Kyoto. It was so easy. We just pushed our airport trolleys into our rooms the night before, and then pushed the same trolleys out of the lobby and into the train station. SO CONVENIENT. It was at the train station that we bumped into the French family again. Seriously, Kyoto is a baby magnet. When we reached Kyoto, I noticed many other tourists pushing around strollers or carrying their babies in slings. It’s just that easy to travel around in Kyoto with your child.

When we reached Kyoto station, we decided to go with the easy option of just hailing a taxi to the ryokan that we booked. The cost of a daily bus pass in Kyoto is about 500 Yen (approx S$5). The staff at the ryokan advised that the cost of a taxi from the station to the ryokan would be about 800 Yen. So we decided that since there were four of us plus a toddler, it would be actually cheaper to hail a cab. I guess that brings me to #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 2: Again, don’t be a hero. Actually, sometimes, the more comfortable option may be the more economical one. One of the best things about cabs in Kyoto is that they are so polite and so accommodating. Even though some drivers may not speak English, they will try their best to communicate with you – to find out where you are going. I guess that also brings me to #TravellinginKyotowithaToddler Tip 3: Try to get the name of the place you want to go to written in Japanese before you get into the cab. While this is a probably a universal rule, it is even more true in Kyoto as most of the drivers can’t speak English and unless you have great Japanese pronunciation, you’d probably mangle the attraction name, causing embarrassment to both you and the driver when he finally figures out what you are trying to say and says it in a completely different way.


We stayed at the Ryokan Sakura Honganji, just a 10 minutes cab ride away from Kyoto station. As we’d never stayed in a ryokan before, we were quite excited. Nat and I booked a traditional tatami room and my parents booked a Western room. When we first entered the ryokan, we were pleasantly greeted by this sunny chirpy lady. She told us that although we were early, check-in time is at 3 pm, she’d be happy to keep our luggage for us and deliver them to the rooms, as we headed out for lunch.

The ryokan itself was decent enough. It was filled with Americans, most notably, American university students when we were there. Also – it did not have wifi in the room. We had to use wifi downstairs. It kind of reminded me of my boarding school days where we would all huddle around the living room trying to detect a faint wifi signal. The wifi signal was strong – just inconveniently located downstairs.

Sleeping on a tatami mat was interesting. I’d slept on floors before, but I wasn’t used to such a thin mattress so it took some time getting used to. Nat thought it would help his back, but after five days, he realised it probably made it worse. The only one who was absolutely thrilled with the tatami mat was Mr E. He loved the fact that during the day, the whole tatami mat area was transformed into a free-for-all play area where he could run and jump up and down to his hearts content.

Breakfast wasn’t exciting. Luckily, we only tried breakfast once – just out of curiosity. The salmon was hard and the soup forgettable. I guess it wasn’t a traditional ryokan with a 95-year-old lady stirring rice porridge in the kitchen like I had dreamed about. Most of the staff in the ryokan when we were there were in their early 20s, a few generations away from my fantasy of a 95-year-old innkeeper who cooked food passed down from her grandmother. BUT, to make up for it, apparently there’s a famous ramen shop just 1 minute from the ryokan. Unfortunately we didn’t get to try it, but apparently the queues are pretty long.

I must say I liked the location of the ryokan. It was located right in the heart of a residential district with a playground just down the road and people cycling too and from work. It was also very quiet in the evenings which made retiring for the day very easy and peaceful – we didn’t have to worry about waking up to shattered wine bottles.

At the end of the day, I realised that the kids working in the ryokan weren’t too bad. At least they could speak good (almost fluent) English, I doubt my imaginary 95-year-old innkeeper can!

The staff at the Ryokan Sakura Honganji
The staff at the Ryokan Sakura Honganji

Stay tuned for Part 2 to find out what this little kiddy ate in Kyoto!

A Walk in the Park

Our after dinner routine often begins like this: “LET’S GET READY! READY! GET READY! YOU GOT YOUR HELMET? YOUR SHOES? LET’S GO!!!!!!” Often spoken as loudly as the capital letters imply.

And then E-Man runs to put on his shoes, grabs his helmet, gets put into his car seat and then our little red hatchback flies off into the night. No quiet time or winding down time for this family.

We often reach the park at around 9 pm. I know, most other toddlers are in bed before eight, but ours goes to bed about 10, well, ok 10-ish. I finish work late and because he has nothing better to do during the day than to sleep, eat, poop and play, so the night is family bonding time.

We almost always go to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. It’s a beautiful space with a waterway running through it.

We often spend our time playing with this spinning top catapult that you catapult into the air so you can watch it fly with the breeze with its inbuilt LED light flickering away amongst the park lamps.  E-Man loves this especially because he gets to pick up the top wherever it lands. Sometimes our spinning top catapult attracts other young kids who stop and watch us play. Sometimes I let them have a go as well. Most other times we bring our big bottle of bubbles and let E-Man run after the bubbles.

E-Man at Bishan Park
E-Man at Bishan Park. Can you see MacDonald’s across the waterway?

We aren’t the only ones in the park.

Once, as we walked towards the space we often occupy, we met an older couple dancing in rhythm with a ball and racquet. We were all mesmerised for a while. It looked a bit like tai chi or qi gong, but yet different. I had personally never seen anything like that before. E-Man loved it. He watched them for a while, enjoying the traditional Chinese music blaring from their small transistor radio.

After a while, when they stopped for a break, we went over to talk to them. Conversations always flow easily with a baby in your arms. They let him play with the ball and we realised the ball wasn’t as light as it seemed. They explained what they were practising was called rhythm ball”, a form of tai chi (I think). They even gave me the opportunity to try out their steps. It was certainly not as easy as they made it look! They actually told me that there’s a lady who teaches a group of rhythm ball enthusiasts every Friday and Saturday evenings from 8 pm. I actually went to the park once during those times, but didn’t see anyone, sadly.

Another reason we like the park is because we get to see and meet so many dogs! E-Man is a HUGE animal lover. Every time he sees a little dog he HAS to go up and grab it. Much to the delight of the owner. They just love seeing a little baby run up to their dog to give it a big hug.

E-Man with me and Peaches, the dog my sister was dog-sitting
E-Man with me and Peaches, the dog my sister was dog-sitting

We also play catching and hide-and-seek. I can’t imagine anywhere else in the entire world where a baby can run completely uninhibited in a public park at 9 pm at night.

Oh, I guess at this juncture I should explain why he has to wear a helmet to the park. Yes. It’s because he runs TOO freely that sometimes he topples over. Most of the time it’s my fault because I play a serious(ly fun) game of catching with him. The park is so big and wide and safe that we just run like crazy people everywhere and once he ran too fast and toppled over head first on the path. I heard a thud. Do not judge me.

Needless to say, he has worn a helmet from that time on. It’s actually become a ritual for him. Like he knows that before he gets out of the car, he needs to put his helmet on. Then when he gets back into the car, he gets to take it out.

A few times since then, while playing hide-and-seek, he has accidentally bumped his head on a pole, which was completely pain-free. He even noticed the difference the helmut makes and insists on it when he goes out now.

Apart from the dog-walkers and rhythm ball dancers, I’ve come across late night picnic goers, cyclists, sword fighters, Thai boxers (I think?) and people just sitting on benches talking on phones.

It’s a really safe space for the community. I must also confess that there’s also a large MacDonald’s in the park. I’m not sure what the health conscious amongst us have to say about that, but we personally like it. We can go in and buy a cone anytime we want or even, I confess, chicken nuggets.

E-Man is also thoroughly tired out by the time we get home at 10. So by the time he gets home, he is completely spent and ready for bedtime. Really, raising E-Man is a walk in the park.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go!

HAPPY NEW YEAR DEAR FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!! It’s been a while since my last entry mainly because I started a full time job in November.  So far, it’s been very exciting and interesting, and I don’t regret the transition at all.  Having said that, I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to take up consulting work for six months.  It gave me wide exposure and flexibility with my time that I would not have had with a full time job.  It also allowed me to pursue interests and classes that I could not have were I desk bound.  For that I am truly thankful.

The past two months have indeed been very interesting.  When I shared my news with some family and friends that I went back into full time employment, the top two questions I received were, “So?  Do you have better hours than your previous job?  Do you get to spend more time with your baby?”  And then I have to explain that no, I was under no misconception that I would have better hours.  In fact, I started the role knowing that the hours would be long.  But I believe that in any situation in life, if you are in the position to do so, in order to find meaning in Work, there should be a delicate equilibrium of not only toiling but also learning.  I am also of course very grateful that I was offered this opportunity to pursue my passion in marketing & communications.

Working full time has actually made me a better manager of my time.  Every minute, every hour is precious.  From the half an hour I spend with E-Man in the morning to the few precious hours (if any) I get to spend with him in the evening.  In fact, I feel that now that I work full time, I actually spend more quality time with him than before.

So how have I been managing my EXTREMELY active toddler during the time that I have with him during a busy work week? Honestly, it has been a walk in the park.

Really?  Yes.  Literally.  We try to go to a nearby park a few times a week for an hour each time.  One thing I want to say is that I feel so blessed to live in Singapore – where walking in a public park at 9:30 pm feels no less safer than walking in the park at 9:30 am.  We mainly go to Bishan Park weekday evenings and then maybe the Botanic Gardens on the weekends.  During this time we play catching, throw balls and talk to other park-users.  There are joggers, dog-walkers, dancers, sword-fighters and many, many other children.  I’m going to write a separate post about our time in the park because it truly is a quintessentially Singaporean experience and one that I would like to document and share.  After all, it is an experience not many other people in other parts of the world can understand.

Apart from walks in the park, we visit the various shopping malls after dinner, read books together, play hide and seek and, another personal favourite, throw baby dance parties!  Baby dance parties are a lot of fun.  It’s when we blast pop music and dance our hearts out in the living room.  E-Man goes nuts, he loves it and I must admit, so do I!

E-Man and me at Marina Square
We decided to visit Marina Square one evening after work! Thank goodness shopping malls close late in Singapore.

Figuratively speaking, it is not a walk in the park balancing work and baby.  It takes discipline and hard work and more energy than you know you have.  There are other times I work late and miss his bedtime, go out with friends or hole myself up in my room watching YouTube videos.  But we try to spend time with him – and as the great philosopher PINK once said:

You gotta get up and try, try, try
You gotta get up and try, try, try
You gotta get up and try, try, try”

And that’s what matters, right? 🙂

I would love to hear from other working mothers.  How do you manage your time between work and family?

A Break Away from Baby

When I was five months pregnant with E-Man, my husband and I spent two weeks in Italy on a babymoon.  It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had.  We travelled all the way from the South of Italy to the North.  We walked through the sun-dappled cobblestone streets of Capri and enjoyed the warm, slightly salted Mediterranean spring, braved the crowds at the Vatican, nearly got mugged in Rome (luckily we had only 20 Euros in our wallets and the mafia men weren’t interested, thankfully), lived in a stone-wall villa in Tuscany, tried to hold up the leaning tower of Pisa, shopped at the Prada Space Outlet (I mean, how could you not?) and braved the small meandering roads through to Bellagio, Lake Como, to enjoy the most beautiful views I had ever seen in my life.

The sun-kissed Capri island

At the end of our two week long journey, half of which was spent with our good friends who were on honeymoon, we met a very distinguished looking middle-aged couple at the airport in Rome.  They looked how I would like to look when I grow up.  The husband wore a navy blue blazer with kaki pants and the wife wore a beautiful silk headscarf with, if I remember correctly, a soft silk blouse with black (the actual colour eludes me) pants.  They looked great.  Calm.  Peaceful.  Happy.  They had just spent a good week by the seaside in Italy and were glowing.  I decided to describe their attire because they looked so put together compared to my husband and me who were in t-shirt and jeans.  They had time to iron their airplane outfits.  She even wore perfectly applied red lipstick.  I was lucky to even have crudely applied lip balm on.

Anyway, after waiting in line to check-in to our flight, it was established we were all from Singapore.  We soon started chatting and sharing our adventures.  During our conversation, the lady shared that they had four children.  Four children??  I looked at her, amazed.  But you don’t look frazzled or stressed.  Well, of course her children were now all teenagers or older, so that helped, but she then let us in on a secret.  She said, with the confidence that only a mother of four well-raised teenagers can have, that the secret to a great marriage was that they always went away on holiday as a couple after the birth of each child.  And continue to have couple holidays when possible.

Honestly, it was one of the best pieces of marriage advice we’ve received!

So, even before the baby was born we booked our trip to Bali.  The budget airlines were booked, our resort was booked, even my spa treatments were arranged.  We were going to go to Bali in January 2014.

HOWEVER, once E-Man came I discovered breastfeeding.  Yes, I was so ignorant I didn’t even think about engorgement and pumping.  As I had shared in my earlier posts, E-Man had trouble latching and I began my exclusive pumping journey when he was just two weeks old.  Going to Bali, while still exclusive pumping would mean:

1) Bringing my stupid breast pump
2) Deciding how and where to freeze all the milk – and whether I should pump and dump or pump and keep and how to transport all the milk back
3) Not being able to do ANYTHING but sit in the hotel room or some other clean place and pump every 3 hours
4) Having a massage while slowly getting engorged – NOT my idea of fun
5) Having to come home early from dinner or shopping just to pump – it’s not like I can pump just anywhere in Bali
6) Waking up in the middle of the night during your holiday just to pump – OMG

Bringing the 4/5 month old was out of the question as well since he doesn’t latch on demand, I would still have to pump and it’ll become more of a headache.  So we decided to postpone our trip until October this year.

Fast forward six months and we just got back from Bali.  Four days and three nights in the land of the gods.  We stayed at The Chedi Sakala basically because I saw the pictures on a website and they looked AMAZING.  I testify that it’s critical to invest in great photography for your product.  Seriously.  I literally just booked The Chedi Sakala not caring where it was because I just loved the photography.  It’s a full-suite luxury hotel, you can’t expect anything less from GHM Hotels, which means all rooms come with a separate living, dining and kitchen area.  It is actually perfect for families with young children because you can store and heat up their food in the little kitchenette.  Thanks to a friend, we got upgraded to the Cabana Suite which meant that we could jump into the pool from our balcony.  We’ve never stayed in a hotel like that before and we loved not having the hassle of changing into our bathers, looking for the sunscreen, packing the sunscreen, packing the sunglasses, packing the hat, packing the mobile phone, looking for the key card, packing the key card into a bag and walking 10 minutes to a pool.  No, staying in the Cabana Suite meant that you just changed into your bathers in your room and jumped into the pool.  Awesome.

The living room!
The living room!
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The bedroom!
We could jump from our room to the pool!
We could jump from our room to the pool!

Oh wait, sorry for spending so much time describing the hotel, job hazard.

So we also went to the Rock Bar which was INCREDIBLE.  Truly worth the hype.  I also discovered how important it is to invest in a good DJ.  The DJ playing that day we went, 3 October, was really good.  The music was trance-y chill-out lounge-y ocean music.  The music she chose perfectly complemented the crashing of the waves onto the rocks.  Hard to describe.  My mobile phone pictures do not do it justice.

Rock Bar at AYANA Bali
Rock Bar at AYANA Bali

Luckily for me, my husband likes shopping and eating as much as I do so we spent all our time eating and shopping.  And travelling to eat and shop.  HAHA.  Yay!  Oh and we decided to go beach parasailing on a whim.  It was SCARY and exhilarating.  Don’t do it if you are afraid of heights, though.

It’s been a really crazy six months.  I’ve been working three consulting jobs, starting up a business, going to part-time night school to become a tour guide (out of interest), trying to spend time with the baby and at one point of time trying to write a book (but I’ve since shelved that).  The long weekend was seriously much needed!

The best part about the trip away was coming back to Little E-Man.  While this is cliche, it’s SO nice to come home to your child.  Although he was sleeping when we got back Monday night, when I saw him on Tuesday morning he gave me this HUGE big smile and came to me as though we hadn’t even left!  🙂 Wonderful.  On to the next adventure!

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, at exactly this time (time check: 11:15 pm), I was lying in my hospital room in Mt Alvernia‘s Our Lady wing recovering from an emergency c-section.  I remember just lying there, physically and emotionally exhausted, hooked up to painkillers delivered by IV drip and unable to move the lower part of my body.  The baby was by himself in the nursery and my husband was just walking around the room really not sure what to do.

I haven’t blogged in a while but I thought to celebrate E-Man’s 1st birthday today, I would share his birth story.  If you know me, I love hearing birth stories — they remind me of how strong women really are!  Really, we created a human being, we are capable of anything.  I would like to preface this entry by saying the choices I made were personal and strictly based on my own preferences.  No two births are the same – just like no two women are the same.  That is what makes this world so beautifully unique.  I would love to hear your birth story, but please do not criticise mine.

So it all started on 14 September 2014 when I went in to my doctor’s office for a check-up.  I was literally 40 weeks and there was no sign of a baby at all.  He recommended an induction before I hit 41 weeks because apparently the possibility of foetal death raises after 41 weeks (albeit marginally).  I then decided (well, I had spent a week thinking about it), that I would induce him on his estimated due date (EDD) which was 16 September since it was also Lee Kuan Yew’s birthday and that it would be kind of cool for E-Man to share the same birthday as Singapore’s first Prime Minister.

My doctor agreed and everything was set for a 16 September delivery.  I went in at 2 am on 16 September where the labour ward nurses inserted a pill up my cervix and I was hooked up to a monitor the whole night.  Surprisingly, I managed to get some shut eye.  Nat on the other hand was too cold to sleep.  Even with a spare blanket and a jacket he was freezing.  I think the temperature is specially set for perpetually hot pregnant women.  At about 6 am I was woken up, placed on a wheelchair (I don’t know why – because I could walk) and wheeled into Labour & Delivery.  There, I was orientated into my own private birthing room and started to get comfortable – I had my fully charged mobile phone, my iPad and my books next to me.  At about 7:30 am, the Nurse Manager did a quick check of my cervix and I was 3 cm dilated (you can start pushing at 10 cm – so at least I was a little dilated!).  FANTASTIC.  Everything was moving as planned.

Oh and by the way, it was only during my last few weeks of pregnancy did I realise how painful cervix checking is.  I am not a biology student so I never realised how far UP your cervix is.  Ok, too much detail, but let’s just say it’s not anywhere easily accessible.  And I do NOT know why this LITTLE detail of the cervix check is omitted in other people’s birth stories.  I shall leave it in mine because it was quite a relevant re-occurance, obviously.

At about 8:30 am (can’t really remember), the Anaesthetist came in to deliver the epidural.  I agreed with my OB that I would have epidural early because literally, the only thing in my birth plan is PAIN FREE.  So she came in, put the epidural in – which didn’t hurt at all – and went on her way.  I was very lucky in that the epidural had no side effects on me.  I was having a merry time watching my Hollywood and Bollywood movies.  Haha.  

At 9:30, the OB came in and broke my water.  I think at about 11:30 or 12 he came back again and checked me and lo and behold I was 5 cm dilated.  He commented that he thought the baby will be out before dinner.  It was fantastic.  The nurses started bringing in all the equipment to deliver the baby.  I felt very successful!  The contractions were coming strong but I felt nothing and used the time to Whatsapp friends and family with hourly updates.  I was so excited.  I remember hearing the screams from other women in other rooms.  Some were terrifying as though they were getting stabbed.  After each scream, I would turn to make sure I had plenty of epidural left.

Lunchtime came and went.  I hadn’t eaten the whole day and was suitably famished.  I couldn’t even drink water, I could just have tiny sips.  But luckily my movies kept me distracted.  After lunchtime, the Nurse Manager checked me again and commented that I had not progressed past 5 cm.  She rang the doctor and he said to just let me progress naturally. I started to get impatient.  I was looking forward to having the baby out before dinner so that I could eat dinner and watch this current affairs show on Channel NewsAsia which was going to feature North Korea (one of my favourite topics) at 8:30 pm.  I remember this very clearly because I really wanted to watch it.

3 pm came and went.  4 pm and then at 5 pm the Nurse Manager said she received a call from the OB asking about my progress.  I was still 5 cm.  So he recommended pitocin.  I knew what it was from watching countless birth videos on YouTube and agreed to using it if it was going to speed up this labour.  I’m such a typical Singaporean – everything must be fast, fast, fast!


I was put on pitocin and still nothing.  At 7 pm I was checked again – this time the nurses shift had changed and I was becoming very very impatient.  I had progressed to 6 cm.  Small whoop!  But then the whoop quickly changed to panic when the nurses noticed that the baby’s heart beat had slowed down at 8 pm.

I told myself, ok, it’s already 8 pm.  I guess I could watch the North Korea documentary at 8:30 pm here and then deliver after.

Really, why I was so fixated on this documentary, I don’t know.

When the baby’s heart beat dropped, the nurses started to panic.  They quickly put an oxygen mask on me and made a call to the OB to come quickly.  At one point I commented, “I don’t need this oxygen mask.  I can breathe fine.”  To which the nurse replied, “It’s not for you, it’s for your baby.”  Oops, and I panicked even more.

The doctor came at 8:45 pm.  Again, I remember this time because I was in the midst of my North Korean documentary and had to decide whether to focus on him or the TV.  HAHAHA.

I started to focus on him when five other nurses came in PLUS a new Anaesthetist.  I really never had a c-section in mind at all and started to panic yet again.  He said that, as we had discussed, the moment there was a valley in the heart beat chart (meaning the baby’s heart beat drops) it’s time for a c-section because our end goal is to get a healthy baby.  I really wasn’t mentally prepared for the c-section. I started to tear up and cry uncontrollably.  Nat tried to comfort me but the nurses told him that he needed to move our bags out of the room to the recovery room and get changed into surgery scrubs.

I remember so many things happening around me.  There was a flurry of activity.  I felt as though I was in the eye of the storm.  The nurses sprung into action, preparing me for surgery.  The Anaesthetist kept reassuring me everything would be fine.  She was amazing.  Seriously.  I was quickly wheeled into the operating theatre.  I remember crying all the way to the operating theatre.

In the operating theatre I cried even harder.  I was just SO freaked out about getting cut up.  Being a person that thrives on achieving milestones and goals, I was disappointed I was unable to achieve my goal of a pain-free natural delivery.  Anyway, the baby had to come out one way or another and he obviously wasn’t coming out naturally.

The operation wasn’t painful but it was quite scary.  The force that the OB had to use was terrifyingly strong.  Nat and I like to describe it as it felt as though the doctor was a mechanic working on a car.  Seriously.  And just before the baby came out, the Anaesthetist and Nurse gave a big mighty push from the back (a push so strong they had to ensure their feet had support). I must say one comforting thing was how calm and relaxed the doctor was throughout the entire procedure – which made me panic a little less.

9:50 pm Baby E-Man came out.  At first he was silent and the whole room seemed to be waiting in anticipation.  And then we heard it.  The strangest sound ever.  Over the course of the day I had heard many babies cry.  They all sounded nice.  Except mine went, “oohh-wehh oohh-wehhh oooh–weehhh!!!” He only did that for a while and once he was bundled into a burrito he was placed on my chest and kept silent, you could see that he was absorbing his new environment.  I felt at that moment I had delivered an old soul.

I stopped crying when they gave me the baby and the lovely Anaesthetist took a picture of us.


Very quickly though Nat and E-Man left the operating theatre for the nursery where he was weighed and measured.  One of the nurses wheeled him in his little trolley with Nat following along.  When they got to the nursery, Nat remembers the nurse counting his fingers and toes for him.  According to him, she went, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – 10 fingers and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – 10 toes. Ok?”


Nat went back to the recovery suite to wait for me.  And I just lay there in the operating theatre thinking about how insane the entire day was and how incredibly helpless I was feeling.  Oh, if only I knew at that time that unexpected situations and feelings of incredible helplessness are common themes that would re-occur in the year to come and I expect for the rest of my life as a parent.

Now, if you would ask me, if I had to do it all over again, knowing the things I know now, what would I do?

1) I would probably wait a few days more before getting induced.
2) I would probably wait until I was about 4-5 cm dilated before I get the epidural.  Nah, I’m not a hero.
3) I would probably put more exciting movies in my iPad – I remember getting a bit bored.
4) Nat would probably bring an extra jacket and blanket.

I would not really change much else.  Mt Alvernia is really such a wonderful hospital.  The rooms are new and very luxurious, the staff are unbelievably caring and professional and the location is perfect.

I know it took a long time to get here.  Sorry, when I was typing this entry out I really felt like I was re-living the entire experience.  I would be very interested to hear your birth story.  Again, as I shared, I’m not here to criticise anyone’s birth plan and I also hope that no one will criticise mine.  The end goal is to get a healthy baby out and that’s what I did!
2014-08-09 10.42.57-1

Top Four Favourite Baby Board Books

As there recently seems to be a renaissance in reading here in Singapore, especially in children’s literature, I thought I would share a few of my favourite board books for babies.

To be honest, I sometimes also read “older” age group books to E-Man because there is a limit to how many times I can say “goodnight room, goodnight moon, goodnight cow jumping over the moon…” without going crazy. I will share these older age group books later on, but for now, in no particular order, here are my top four favourite board books for babies!

Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, That's not my penguin and On the Night You were Born
Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, That’s not my penguin and On the Night You were Born


On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman 

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

“On the night you were born,
the moon shone with such wonder
that the stars peeked in
to see you
and the night wind whispered,
‘Life will never be the same.’

Because there had never been
anyone like you…
ever in the world.”

Inside of "On the Night You were Born"
Inside of “On the Night You were Born”

On the Night You were Born is a book that is written for parents as much as it is for their children.  In beautiful rhyming verse, Nancy Tillman captures the strong maternal (and paternal) instincts that most parents feel at the birth of their child.  I remember at the birth of E-Man, when he entered into the world, the operating theatre was silent, just waiting to hear his cry.  And for those few moments, the world stood still, as all we could think about was the miracle of new life.  Nancy Tillman perfectly articulates all we want to say to our children; all our unspeakable joy, gratitude and happiness as new parents.

On the Night You were Born is a book that can be read and re-read until our children are adults.  It is sheer poetry.  It can serve as way to recount the story of our children’s birth as well as an affirmation of their value and self-worth, “So whenever you doubt just how special you are / and you wonder who loves you, how much and how far, / listen for geese honking high in the sky / (They’re singing a song to remember you by.).”

Needless to say, I have teared up a couple of times while reading this book out loud.


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This book was a gift by an American friend.  It is a Classic American children’s bedtime book that was first published after the War in 1947.  The vintage illustrations are poignant reminders of how simple life used to be.  In the good old days there was knitting to be done and mush to be eaten.  I like Goodnight Moon a lot because the sentences are short and most importantly, they rhyme.  When E-Man is older, I can imagine asking him to point out the “three little bears sitting on chairs”, “the two little kittens” and “a pair of mittens”.  Goodnight Moon is a great book if you are looking for a quick story to read.  There is also something powerful and enchanting about reading a book, knowing that millions of other mothers have read the same lines to their little ones across the world.  As though you are united in your love for your child and for the written (and spoken) word.

“Goodnight stars, Goodnight air, Goodnight noises everywhere.”


The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I should include this book in my list since it is probably on everyone else’s.  Anyway, I put it in because it is obviously one of our go-to books.  E-Man loves turning the pages and reading it on his own.  I remember reading The Hungry Caterpillar at my cousins’ house as a young child.  I personally did not own it, but my cousins did, and I liked reading it.  E-Man loves turning the pages of this book himself (actually he likes turning pages of almost every  book you give him).  The illustrations are timeless and I love how the book teaches children the days in the week, numbers, food and also the life cycle – all in a vividly coloured shortly phrased board book.   Amazing!


That’s Not My Penguin… by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

That's not my penguin...
That’s not my penguin…

So if E-Man could vote, he’d probably choose That’s Not My Penguin.  This book is actually a wildcard entry.  It secured a place in the top four simply because E-Man just recently took up significant interest in it.  I bought That’s Not My Penguin when E-Man was only three months because I thought he would like the textures.  He did.  Then I got sick of the book because the book is basically all about textures and images, not so much the story.  So I relegated it to the bottom of the pile.  Then just a week ago, we took it out and behold, E-Man loved it.  He would turn the pages and go straight for the textures.  He has also woken up in the middle of the night and just entertained himself by reading the book by the soft light cast into his room by the street lamps outside.  We could actually hear him talking to himself as he turned the pages and felt the textures on each page.  It must be riveting stuff.  Oh if you can’t see in the picture below, the wings of the penguin are velvety.

That's not my penguin...
That’s not my penguin…

So yes, it’s a worthwhile investment, simply because babies like texture.


So that’s the end of my top four favourite baby board books.  I was just thinking about it – baby books are actually a great baby shower gift if you don’t know what to buy because they last a long time and can be used and re-used and hopefully even passed down through the generations.

Do share with me what your favourite baby board books are in the comments below!

So you think you need a baby walker?

When Baby E was about five months old, my mother bought him a little walker, convinced that he would need it when he turned six months. Oddly enough, the hyperactive baby that he is, didn’t quite like the walker because he couldn’t figure out how to move in it. Even though his feet touched the floor and the wheels were in full working condition, he would just sit there looking annoyed that we put him in this blue coloured contraption.

He preferred to be free. Since learning to crawl at around six and a half months he has become a champion crawler and has recently, at nine months, mastered the art of going up and down steps.

But of course, just crawling has its limitations because one’s head is generally focused on the floor and one’s elevation and view of the world is a lot lower than one would like. So, at about nine months he came up with his own “walker”.

Baby E's own makeshift walker
Baby E’s own makeshift walker

Yes.  He started realising that the space between his IKEA highchair (that incidentally my mother picked up from a garbage pile somewhere – yes we take reduce, reuse and recycle very seriously) was just perfect for him.  So this is how he has been moving around recently.

Baby E walking out to the patio in his makeshift walker
Baby E walking out to the patio in his makeshift walker


The good thing about this, is that he keeps himself entertained and this mode of transport and entertainment can be easily replicated anywhere.  He started pushing chairs at my grandmother’s house last week.

Baby E pushing chairs at great grandma's house
Baby E pushing chairs at great grandma’s house


The bad thing is that if the chair is not stable, it can topple over.  Also, it is very very noisy and can scratch the floor.  Lucky nobody has complained and luckily all our chairs have felt protectors!

No, a rocker is not a good chair to push around
No, a rocker is not a good chair to push around

The funniest part about it is that he is VERY VERY serious when he is pushing the chairs around.  As though he feels it is his duty as a baby to push the chairs around.  He can be laughing and smiling before, but the moment he decides its time to push the chairs around, he puts on this serious look on concentration.  I guess that’s why he hasn’t really fallen yet!

Do tell me how your pre-walker gets around!  I’m interested to know! 

I knew nothing about babies when I became a mother. I still don't. Seems like Baby E isn't the only one taking baby steps!