Sunday, May 28, 2017

When Should the Siblings Have their Own Rooms?

Interestingly, while some of our friends shared with us their challenges from co-sleeping to no co-sleeping with their children, our situation was the other way round! You may read about our "journey" from no co-sleeping to co-sleeping.

Then 3 years ago, we finally managed to get them out of our room to their own bedroom. You may wonder why at that point of time, we didn't just separate our boy and girl into two separate rooms. Well, this leads to another frequently asked question by our friends - how do we make our children go to bed at 8 p.m.? Our strategy is: to sit inside their room to accompany them until they fall asleep. Ok, please don't laugh at us. Perhaps, this is one way that I am trying to make up the loss of time spent with my children as a full-time-working-parent. So back to the question why we didn't separate our children into two separate rooms... I cannot split myself into two at bedtime, so it is partly for my convenience to get the children share a bedroom.

In fact, until now, they still do not mind sharing the same bedroom. They have their own territory marked out by their beds.

When should the siblings have their own rooms? This question came to my mind some time ago as they are now in primary school. Though they have not requested to have their own rooms yet, I start to plan ahead to prepare for that day. That means we have to get some new furniture for the children. Online resources like provide some ideas on where to get furniture.

As of now, while the children are still sharing the same bedroom, it is important for them to respect each other's boundary. 

If you have children of opposite gender, what is your thought on when they should have their own rooms?

Disclaimer: This post is brought to you by

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Shoe Storage and Shoe Care with is:SHOE Singapore

[Sponsored Review]

When DaDi and I got married and moved to our new house N years ago, the size of our shoe cabinet was just nice for two of us. Well, I admit that my shoes occupied most of the space in the shoe cabinet. And now, this shoe cabinet is still around. But as the number of people in the house doubled, I had to put some of my shoes somewhere else (for example, in my workplace), so as to accommodate the children's shoes in the shoe cabinet. Recently, the kind folks from is:SHOE Singapore introduced a great solution to my shoe storage problem, and they also raised my awareness on how to take good care of our shoes!

One feature that I like about Elenor Prime Shoe Storage Box is that the boxes are stackable. Available in white, grey or pink, the see-through design fits my household decor perfectly. Other than serving aesthetic purpose, this design is functional for us - we do not need to play "open treasure box" game to find which shoes are kept in each of these boxes! Check out is:SHOE shoe rack and shoe storage solutions.

Other than shoe storage issue that I faced in the past, another shoe-related problem is - the "fragrance" from our covered shoes! Using is:SHOE Remove, an active carbon shoe insert, the moisture and odour can be removed. There are also different colours that we can choose!

In addition, with Shoe Aromatic Fragrance, we no longer have to hold our breath when we open our shoe cabinet! It is lovely to be greeted by the refreshing smell of lily, ocean, jasmine, rose or lavender whenever we open our shoe cabinet! Of course, these sachets can also be placed in any part of household, workplace or in the car.

is:SHOE also offers other shoe care products.

Adjustable Shoe Tree is useful for the my covered shoes, it helps to maintain the shape of the shoes. For a pair of leather shoes that I have not been able to wear as my feet are too big, I mean, the shoes are slightly too small, the shoe tree is able to stretch the shoes to make them more comfortable to wear.

Recently, we bought new running shoes for the children. Hao Hao chose the white colour shoes, but I was worried that his white shoes had to be washed often as I reckoned that white shoes would get dirty easily. Thankfully, is:SHOE also sent us Jewel Shoe Eraser. Hao Hao tested the eraser, and he was very happy to see that the stain was removed!

I love to wear my canvas shoes, but when it rains, the canvas shoes get wet, and this makes me feel very uncomfortable. One interesting product that was introduced to us was is:SHOE Repulse : Hydrophobic Spray. As the name implies, it prevent water or other forms of liquid from making our shoes wet!

Before applying the spray, I used is:SHOE Horse Hair Shoe Brush to remove the dust and dirt on my canvas shoes. 

It was interesting to see the water droplets stay on the surface of the shoes! I am thinking of making DIY canvas shoes for myself and my children, and I feel that this spray would be useful!

Check out is:SHOE Singapore for more shoe storage and shoe care products!

is:SHOE Singapore

Disclaimer: We received shoe storage and shoe care products for review purpose. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and photos are mine.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

8 Tips for Planning Kyushu (Japan) Railway Trip with Children

Last year, we brought our children to Okinawa (read our travelogue here), the southern most prefecture of Japan. It was the children's first time visiting Japan, and it was my first self-driving overseas trip! Now, I am researching on another part of Japan - Kyushu! Yes, we are venturing to Japan again this June! We do have concerns after the Fukushima nuclear accident. Therefore, we decided to bring them to parts of Japan that are further away from Fukushima.

Where is Kyushu? It is located at southwest of the main Japan island.

background image source: Google map

"Are we driving?" the children asked when they heard that we would be visiting Japan again. No, we are not driving in Kyushu. When one of the main attractions in Kyushu is the interesting sight-seeing trains, and when most of the places that we plan to visit can be reached by Japan Rail, I would rather relax in the train and admire the beautiful scenery, as compared to driving long distance! I think my children would be thrilled to take a train like Limited Express Aso Boy! Well, I admit that I am more excited than my children! Keeping my fingers crossed that I can manage to reserve the seats!

image source: JR Kyushu Railway

Here are our 8 tips for planning railway trip in Kyushu, and some of these tips are also applicable when you travel to other parts of Japan.

Tips #1: Booking air tickets to Kyushu
The only direct flight to Kyushu (Fukuoka Airport) from Singapore is Singapore Airlines. All other airlines require transit. Flying with Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways would require transit in Tokyo, which means that you need to fly further to the North, and then head back to the South. Alternatively, you can fly by Cathay Pacific with transit at Hong Kong, or by Thai Airways with transit at Bangkok. After experiencing transit for our Taiwan and Okinawa trips, I can tell you that it is not a very good idea to transit with children in tow.

In February, we booked Singapore Airlines at SGD680+. Well, this is not the lowest possible fare, a few weeks later, the price dropped to SGD610+, but within a few days, the fare increased to SGD1300+! However, there is one slight problem with flying with Singapore Airlines - there is one flight every day, which departs at 1+ a.m.! I hope we can survive the red-eye flight!

Tips #2: Booking accommodations in Kyushu
As I mentioned in my post on "10 Tips for Planning Okinawa (Japan) Self-drive Trip with Children", many hotels and ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) charge per head, including children. Looking for an accommodation for a family of 4 or even bigger can be quite challenging.

I booked one of the accommodations through a Japanese booking platform called One thing that I like about this platform is, there is no need to input credit card number! We can pay at the accommodation when we check-in. But of course, if you have to cancel the booking, it is a basic courtesy to cancel the booking in advance.

Another accommodation that I booked is Toyoko Inn, which is a chain of business and budget hotel. It is one of the hotels that allow two children below 12 years old to sleep-share with two adults in a twin room without charge. What's more, there is simple buffet breakfast that is free! We enjoyed our stay at Toyoko Inn Okinawa Baha Shintoshin Omoromachi during our Okinawa trip, you may read our review here.

Tips #3: Get the Japan Rail Pass
As I mentioned just now, one of the main attractions in Kyushu is the interesting sight-seeing trains. To save money, it is a must to get Japan Rail (JR) Pass! There are different types of Japan Rail Passes, each covers different area in Japan. Since we will be travelling to northern half of Kyushu, we will be getting JR Northern Kyushu Pass. Adult pass is 10000 yen (about SGD124), while child pass is 5000 yen  (about SGD62).

We are planning to visit a few prefectures - Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Oita. If we do not have JR Pass, the total train fare per adult would be about 25000 yen! Getting JR Pass would save about 15000 yen (SGD186) per adult, that is a substantial amount of saving!

Where can we get Japan Rail Pass in Singapore? You can check out the information from Japan National Tourism Organisation. We do not get the actual Japan Rail Pass directly in Singapore. Instead, we would receive an exchange voucher, and then we have to exchange for the actual pass when we reach Japan.

Tips #4: Get the prepaid SIM card / Wifi router
We used Wifi router from the car rental company during our Okinawa trip. While the Wifi router allows a few devices to be connected and it is cheaper than SIM cards, it is not very convenient when we are separated. This time, we are going to get Yokoso SIM card. We have used prepaid SIM cards in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and find that it would be more convenient in the event when we are separated. But of course, whether to use prepaid SIM card or Wifi routher would depend on your preference.

Tips #5: Tax-free shopping
Currently, the consumption tax in Japan is 8%, and the tax-free purchase amount at the same store in a single day is more than 5000 yen. Even consumable items like food and beverages are eligible for tax-free procedure! Take note that the general items and consumable items are considered for tax free separately. Check Japan Tax-free Shop for the list of tax-free shops!

Tips #6: Using the coin lockers at train stations
For railway travel, having a big luggage in tow can be very troublesome. Fear not, there are coin lockers at train stations to deposit your luggage. The fee ranges from 300 yen to 600 yen depending on size.

This website is very useful to locate the coin lockers:

Tips #7: Useful websites on Kyushu
Here are some informative websites on Kyushu travel.

In addition, I find these websites useful for travelling in Japan:

Tips #8: Useful smartphone applications for Japan travel 
Here are some smartphone applications that I find useful for travelling in Japan, and they are free!

Google Translate (iOS / Android)
You can snap a photo or speak, and the app will translate for you!

Japan Connected-free Wi-Fi (iOS / Android)
Sign up an account or log in on the day before you travel to Japan, then you can connect to free Wi-Fi in Japan for the next 90 days.

Travel Japan Wi-Fi (iOS / Android)
Another free Wi-Fi connection app in Japan. Check out the places to get the premium code in order to enjoy more free Wi-Fi spots!

Gurunavi (iOS / Android)
Search for good food when you are planning your trip, or when you want to locate nearby eateries when you are in Japan. (iOS / Android)
This weather forecast app is in Japanese. You can set the areas that you are visiting, and check the weather on the go!

Google Map (iOS / Android)
Build your Google Map before your trip, so that you can use your customised map to locate the places that you want to visit.

Jorudan (iOS / Android)
Transit planner which searches for the route, fare and schedule of trains and airplanes in Japan.

ロケスマ (iOS / Android)
This app is in Japanese. It can locate eateries, shops (e.g. convenient stores, supermarkets and 100 yen shops) and service facilities (e.g. petrol stations). 

Stay tuned for our Kyushu (Japan) travelogue!

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