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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.


Patience Pancakes

So this morning I made pancakes.  You might be wondering what the big deal is.  Well, it is a big deal because I don’t cook or bake and the last time I made pancakes on my own was when I was still living in Sydney in 2010.

Pancakes, as everyone knows, are one of the simplest things to make.  All you need is flour, baking powder, milk, butter, eggs, salt and sugar.  So I pulled up a recipe online and started following it.  Seemed simple enough until I got to the end and I started freaking out and panicking.  The pancake mix looked NOTHING like what I had envisioned.  It didn’t even look like the mix my grandmother makes which is a lot whiter.  Mine was a yellowish thick paste.

I wanted to literally throw the whole mix into the drain and throw a tantrum on the floor — Obviously it isn’t healthy for a grown-up mother to take cues from her infant son.

Then, my long-suffering husband came to the rescue.  He wisely said, “You don’t even know what it is meant to look like!  Of course you think it’s a failure!”

And then he took out a frying pan and started frying them and they turned out quite delicious.

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After he did that, he said, “I know what your problem is.  You have no patience.  You don’t even want to wait to see whether it works.”

Wise words and something that he has been telling me for a long time.  I give up too easily.  When the baby was having a crying fit last night, I gave up and handed him to my husband.  I have unfinished scrapbooks.  Unfinished projects just lying around the house.  I start things and never finish them because, firstly, I don’t know what completion looks like, and secondly, I do not have the patience to follow them through.

It could be that I am a product of Generation Y — with my demand for instant gratification.  But I am also a product of my own selfishness and self-centredness.  Impatient people like myself are usually impatient because it doesn’t feel good or it doesn’t suit our plans to continue.

Anyway, I have no clue what it is like to raise child.  I’m just grateful that I was able to keep him alive each day (I have a lot of help though — it really does take a village to raise a child).  I was just about to say that I don’t know what the end goal is supposed to look like and then suddenly this Bible verse popped into my mind:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

So this is the end goal: To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God.  Yes, this is success.  It is not about earning a million dollars or becoming a successful businesswoman or raising a successful businessman / professional.  If at the end of my life, I can say that my family and I have acted justly, loved mercy and walked humbly, then perhaps, I would have finally finished life well.

Interesting what a batch of pancakes can teach you.  Patience Pancakes indeed.

Happy Father’s Day!



To my dear husband

Thank you for loving me and E-Man so much.  Thank you for putting up with both our tantrums and tears.  Thank you for your patience in guiding us to become better people.  Thank you for showing us that the world can be a better place, so long as we decide to make it that way.  Thank you for never ever speaking harshly to us.  Thank you for staying up late with both of us as we work through our individual frustrations.  Thank you for believing that both of us can be the very best that we can be.  Thank you for working so hard that both of us can live comfortably.  Thank you carrying us through the difficult times.  Thank you for showing us that leadership begins with service.

Happy First Father’s Day!

To my fellow Mothers of Boys: We need to take back our boys

Fellow Mothers of Boys.  It is time we stood up for our sons, and with our sons, so that we can create a different tomorrow.

I am tired of hearing people say Be a Man and Big Boys Don’t Cry.  I am sick of it.  When we tell our boys this, they internalise their frustration and their emotions which can, at the very worst, result in abusive, controlling a**holes.  We confuse our boys.  We tell them not to cry, then we call aloof.  We tell them to be good to their mothers, then we call them mama boys.  We tell them to be gentle, then we call them a wuss.  It’s wrong.  It’s insulting.  It’s hurtful.  And it should stop NOW.


To be honest, when I found out I was having a boy, I felt like all my dreams of princess dresses and dainty tea parties went out the window.  I don’t have brothers and most of my cousins are girls.  So I’ve never grown up with a boy (except for my cousin Matt who is much younger and we just made him do whatever we did).  I don’t know how little boys play.  I’m not a sporty person and the idea of driving around in a car filled with dirty rugby jerseys and socks is not something I ever envisioned as a mother.

Of course, Baby E could grow up to love tea parties and that’s fine too.  He might like to be part of his school’s dance troope or like cooking.  It would be pretty cool if he did — imagine all the dinner parties I could throw with my son as chef!

So here I am with my son.  My extremely energetic son.  With him, it’s NON-STOP.  He needs to move, to stand, to explore, to touch, to taste, to break.  He cannot sit quietly for a second.  He cannot stand being still.  He is charged with testosterone that’s for sure.  After speaking with other mothers and on forums, I realise that yes, boys are ALOT more active and curious than girls.  There are ALWAYS exceptions to the rule, but in general, boys have way more energy to spend.  It’s evolutionary – they were the hunters, girls were the gatherers.  Hunters need to constantly be looking for prey, they need energy to run after animals, to run away from animals to FIND animals.  

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So as a mother of a testosterone-charged boy, I need to ensure that this energy is harnessed positively, not negatively.

I have a lot to be thankful to my feminist predecessors for.  They have been responsible for giving me suffrage, giving me the right to earn a living outside the home and for giving me the confidence that I have to speak my mind.  To them, I am forever grateful.

But now, I feel we need to take back our boys. 

Our men have all this energy and strength and yet we emasculate them.  Mothers of Boys, we have our work cut out for us.  Hear my battle cry!!  We need to teach them that there are times to be gentle and times to be tough.  We need to teach them that it is ok to cry.  We need to teach them that women are both the weaker AND the stronger sex.  We need to teach them when to stand their ground and when to give in.

Men who have unharnessed energy and strength sometimes end up with bad company.  According to Google, there are 14 times more men in prison than women and men are nine times more likely than women to join a gang.  These statistics are startling.  The recent incident of Elliot Rodgers who killed six people last Friday night did so because he was frustrated he was still a virgin at 22.  Then just today, I read that a 24-year-old man attacked members of a J-Pop band with a saw during a concert.  From Columbine to Newtown to Anders Behring Breivik to Elliot Rodgers – all these mass shootings have been carried out by psychotic men.

Big boys don’t cry, big boys don’t whinge, big boys don’t show weakness.  Boys play with guns, not dolls.  Boys play fight, not play house.  All the games that are marketed to boys are about shooting, killing and fighting, and you wonder why our boys are violent.  We made them that way and now, we have the future in our hands.  We can change it.

We can teach them to love music and dance to the rhythm of the strumming guitar.  We can teach them to create works of art that we can hang on our walls.  We can teach them to play in the rain.  We can teach them to explore the world around them.  We can teach them to cook by stirring a pot filled with flowers.  We can teach them how to enter a world of make believe.  We can teach them how to keep a good and tidy house.  We can teach them to read and write poetry.  We can teach them how to help others who are in need.  There is SO MUCH we can teach them!  The options are endless and the potential is limitless.

Imagine a world filled with men who are kind, gentle, grateful and loving, but with the energy and strength of an army.  Imagine the good that can happen.  It starts with me, and it starts with you.  

Mothers of Boys.  It begins with us.  Let’s take back our boys!

Our Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat

Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat
Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat

I thought today I would review my Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat.  As I had previously shared, I had done zero preparation prior to Baby E’s arrival.  This included buying a pram.  I don’t know what was going on in my pregnant mind, but obviously I didn’t think buying a pram was very important.

So when the baby was born, I realised that a pram was one of the more important items to have, especially when we went out.  For a while we used to carry around a little moses basket which we would then balance on two chairs at restaurants.  It worked well especially when he was a newborn but it wasn’t a sustainable solution.

So after about two weeks of research, we decided to get the Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat.  Now, I know I placed it on one of my top six must haves for babies zero to six months, but I thought I would share a more in-depth review.

By the way, please note there are different variations of Quinny Zapp Xtras.  Mine is the one with the folding seat.  I specifically looked out for it because I didn’t want to dismantle the seat each time I put it in the boot!

Baby E in a Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat
Baby E in his Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat



1) It is one of the more “affordable” designer prams out there.  In Singapore it retails from around S$500-700.  It is not a cheap and cheerful pram, but neither is it an expensive $1,000-2,000 pram.  It’s averagely priced but looks sharp and smart.

2) It folds up small and compact.  It can easily be placed in your car boot without taking up too much space.  That means you can place other things in your boot as well.  I will definitely take it travelling with me because it can fit in an airplane overhead locker.

3) It is relatively light, compared to other designer prams.

4) It is reversible.  This feature was one of the main reasons I chose it.  When Baby E was one to six months old, the pram seat was always facing me so that I could see him when we were out.  I would find it very stressful to have a newborn facing away from me since they are so quiet all the time you don’t know what is happening.

5) The buckle is a puzzle buckle which makes it harder for toddlers to get out of.


1) The diaper bag storage space is SOOOO small.  Seriously, this is one of my pet peeves about this pram.  I have quite a large bag and I have managed to squeeze it in a few times, but that often means that I do not have ready access to the items inside.  Anyway, the bottom of the storage space has recently torn (maybe because I squeezed my bag in) and I can’t put anything inside anymore. SO ANNOYED.

2) The frame itself is VERY light.  Which means you can’t really hang your diaper bag from the handles either.  So basically you end up just slinging your bag around your shoulder and pushing the pram.  Definitely not a hands-free pram.

3) You can’t open or close the pram with a baby on your hip.  It’s not like the Baby Jogger City Mini where it is a one snap close.  I think it’s at least three tedious steps that require both hands.

4) The handles are not adjustable and are made for parents who are less than 6 ft.  The handles are fine for my husband and I (less than 6 ft) but I think that if you are any taller you are going to have problems.

5) The parent-facing setting of the chair is fantastic, I love it.  But the chair doesn’t go upright.  Basically there is only slightly reclined and fully reclined settings available when the chair is facing the parent.  But there is no fully upright setting available.

6) This is an urban stroller through and through.  The wheels are not meant for jogging, trekking or any sort of off-roading.  Works for me because I don’t do any of that sort of physical activity but if you want something a bit more rugged, then you are better off choosing a jogging stroller.

7) The wheels don’t have suspension.  But seriously, do you really need wheels with suspension?


So is it a pram I would recommend to my friends?  Well, I would say, get a Bugaboo Bee or a Stokke Scoot if you want an urban stroller and can afford it because, quite frankly, they are so awesome and sexy.  But if price is a consideration, I think the Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat gives you pretty good bang for your buck.

FYI: There are also two different kinds of Quinny Zapp Xtras, the American model and the European model.  Don’t ask me why.  Mine is the American model so it has a small slash non-existent foot rest.  The European ones have a small space for the toddler’s feet.

Let me know what your favourite pram is and why!  Also, if you do have the Bugaboo Bee or Stokke Scoot or even the Quinny Zapp Xtra with Folding Seat, I’d be interested to hear your opinion!