Tuesday, 6 December 2016

My birthday weekend

Unlike during my childhood, the last several years I didn't really enjoy my birthdays that much. It's not that I didn't want to get old, but as an adult, I just felt bad that everyone had to buy presents for me and sing "Happy Birthday". I usually don't like to be the centre of attention.

But this year, I really enjoyed my birthday because my boys enjoyed it very much. My birthday became an excuse to have fun together and celebrate this happy family.

Thanks to Paul, I had a nice sleep in and brekky.

On my birthday, Paul took the day off and we went to Mornington Peninsula. Paul's parents came with us too. Paul found a lovely pie shop called Johnny Ripe in Red Hill. With a 2 year old boy, having lunch at a nice restaurant can sometimes be just torture, so this choice was great and their pies were really lovely.

After that we went to my favourite homeware shop "Red Hill House" in Red Hill South and bought a couple of things there, then we went to a farm called "Rain, Hayne & Shine" in Balnarring. This place was really great!

It was a Friday, so not many people were there. Nico had his first pony ride and he really enjoyed it. There were many baby animals and Nico loved touching and holding them. It sounds like Nico's birthday rather than mine, but when Nico enjoys himselves, we enjoy ourselves most.

The next day, we went to Brighton beach. The last time we went there, Nico was still a tiny little guy in his pram and he was just gazing at the beach. This time he enjoyed digging in the sand and putting his feet in the water. We had a lovely walk along the beach too.

For dinner, we went to a new restaurant called "New Shanghai" in Chadstone shopping centre, with Maria, my sister-in-law and her family. It was my favourite Chinese restaurant in Sydney. The original restaurant was in a dingy looking shopping arcade in Chatswood but now they have shops in Brisbane ,Shanghai and Melbourne too! Their fried pork bum is really yummy!

marimekko placemats I got for my present

My birthday wasn't only about presents (although I got some really lovely presents) but more about spending time with my favourite people. I'm already looking forward to my next birthday!

With love,

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Little Keeper's Market

Now we've finished our (maybe) annual Little keeper's market this year. Phew!

When we organised this market in April, some people asked if we were having it again, and we said "maybe before Christmas". It wasn't a promise or anything, but I was feeling a little bit of pressure that we had to do it. Now I'm so glad that we could do this again. I feel free from the pressure!

Last time, I organised the venue, stalls and my sister-in-law Maria helped me with the preparation. This time Maria got even more involved, and she organised the venue and stalls!

Yet Paul and Maria were still calling this market "Allie's market", so I felt a bit strange. This is becoming more "everyone's market". We could raise some money for wonderful causes (this time we raised funds for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and El Salvador Action Group) with everyone's generous offer of money, time and effort. Our friends helped us with coffee making. Paul's parents, their friend and Paul's uncle did the sausage sizzle. Fr Dave at St Benedict's offered the venue for free and our lovely friend and one of the stall holders, Charmian donated all her workshop money. How generous they are! The people who came along to support this market were great too! Some of them brought their family and friends too. Paul's workmates also came to support us. Some friends helped us with packing up and cleaning the venue after the market too.

The preparation wasn't easy, but I think this became a really great event.

Are we doing it again? Well I don't want to make a promise, but I hope so! We had great fun ourselves in the end :-)

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Our little boy turned 2!!

Last week, our little boy, Nico, tuned 2. My sister visited us from Sydney and spent whole weekend with us. We went to Healsville Sanctuary on Saturday, an indoor play centre on Sunday, and Collingwood Children’s farm on Monday. It was full of fun!

I was so excited about his birthday and was singing and dancing whole week. He doesn’t get new toys often, so we knew he’d get super excited about his presents.

It’s funny that now his happiness is our happiness. We enjoy Nico’s birthday more than our own birthdays. He changed our life completely.

Since he came, I lost my

Sleeping time


Some pleasure – shopping, movie, catching up with friends, fine dining etc…

But I found none of them are important compared with the time with my little guy. He sometimes makes me cry and upset, but he always makes me happy.

Thank you very much for coming to our home and making us your parents.

We love you so much!!!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Handy Japanese baby goods!

I think Japanese people are the "laziest hard working" people. They love something handy, so to make things easier, they try their best to make something convenient. Whenever I go to Japan, I check the local pharmacy's baby section to see what's available there and end up buying heaps of handy baby goods.  When I read a Japanese person's blog and found that she's starting a Japanese baby goods online shop in Australia, I thought it was a great idea. As far as I know, Australian people are sometimes a bit lazy too, so they should love these handy Japanese goods!

photo from "Little Snook" This 360 degree tooth brush looks amazing!

Then one day, I got a message from the online shop owner. When you get message from your favourite blogger, it's like you're getting message from a celebrity! It was a lovely surprise. I know how hard it is to start up business in a foreign country, especially when you're a mum with small kids. She has 16 mo boy and works a couple of days a week too. We decided to meet up and exchange some information while our kids made friends.

I wanted to ask her a lot about her interesting products but we ended up chatting about all sorts of different things. I always liked her Japanese blog because her writing was always positive. It is really nice to see someone with good vibes. It was a shame that I had to admit I was a bit lazy with my business, using Nico as my excuse, but I got good energy from her, so I will try my best again ;-)

Are you interested in Japanese handy baby goods? Check her online shop "Little Snook".  If you like her products, please share this with your friends! Word of mouth is really important for new small businesses. I hope her new shop will be loved by many Australian people for a long time!

With love,

Monday, 12 September 2016

Big decision as parents

Recently we had to make a big decision as parents. Probably it’s not a big thing for some people, but at least for me, it was really heartbreaking, hard decision.

About a week ago, I noticed Nico often touching his front tooth. I thought some food was stuck but when I saw it, I noticed that his front tooth had a crack. He used to like rice crackers or apples, but when I gave him those, he started crying after one bite. I told Paul about it and he said maybe Nico did that when he bumped his face on ground in front of our house when he was playing with a ball with Paul. Because Nico was crying so hard after eating something hard, we decided to take him to a dentist. She told me his front tooth was split and we have two choices.

1. Pull out the tooth and not worry about it anymore.

2. Fill the root with medicine and put crown over the remaining tooth, which leaves some possibility for infection and when it happens, it’s worse.

The dentist told me it’s totally our personal decision, but from her explanation I knew what’s best for Nico – pulling out the tooth. When I imagined Nico having no front tooth until 6 or 7 years old, that made me cry. He’s not even two yet!! The dentist said that it’s normal and I was a good mother. She said I cried because I care about Nico.

I told her that I’d talk to Paul and make a decision.

I wanted to keep his tooth. He looks cute with his tooth. I don’t want him to change - so I tried to think of a good excuse to keep it. “I feel sorry for him if he didn’t have his front tooth in all his childhood photos.” “He might be teased at kindy." "If he worries about it, he won't want to show his teeth, so he might not smile. ” I told a couple of people these things, but their reaction was “small kids don’t care about those things!” --- and then I realized I wanted to keep his tooth for myself, not for Nico.

I didn’t want to feel sorry for him when I saw him with no front tooth. People might think it’s strange that he has no front tooth. We might not get any more compliments about Nico’s looks.

Paul’s way of thinking was more simple. He didn’t care about Nico’s looks or those things. He only cared about Nico’s health, so he preferred pulling tooth out. I knew it.

Paul said to me that wanting to keep Nico’s tooth is not a selfish way of thinking. He said that some parents might choose pulling out the tooth only because they don’t want any trouble or it’s cheaper. But I knew what’s the right thing to do.

We don’t need to think about what other people would think about Nico’s looks. The most important thing is Nico’s health. Besides, to us he’s the cutest little kid even without his front tooth!

So we made a big decision. He has to go to hospital for the procedure and have general anesthetic. It’s going to be a big thing for his little body. I’m pretty sure that we made a good decision – but when I see him laughing with his mouth wide open, I probably can’t stop thinking about his cute little tooth.

I still remember when we saw this white thing in his gum for the first time. From teething, he (and I) had some sleepless nights. I was really annoyed when he bit me with his sharp teeth when I was feeding him. But now those things are very good memories. I love every part of Nico and I really love Nico’s little front tooth.

When I was looking at Nico’s old photos, I noticed that he looked super cute even when he had no teeth. It’s really heartbreaking for me, but I will be okay. At least I can be proud of myself making the right decision.

With love,


Friday, 2 September 2016

Let’s talk about Fathers

Father’s Day is coming up soon, so I will talk about my dad today… Well Japanese Father’s Day is in June and we celebrated it when we went there, so probably I won’t do anything for my dad this Sunday –instead I will do something for my father in law and my son’s father, but it’s nice to talk about it anyway.

When I was little, I was such a daddy’s girl. I was wearing a harness for my hip problem from 3 months to 10-months old, so my dad was carrying me all the time and my mum worried that my sister didn’t get much attention from him –of course he loved us equally though.

I really loved chatting with my dad in the bath. We made a story about a little girl called ‘sacchan’. It was often about her adventure in forests. From those days, I developed my creativity and love for writing stories.

However, my teenage phase pushed him away a little. When my dad and mum had arguments, my sister and I were always on mum’s side. My teenage phase lasted until late 20s (too long!) when I could really appreciate what he’s done for me. In those days, my mum was in so much pain from relationship with my dad – it’s not violence or anything, just my dad had his own way to do things and he was terribly stubborn. She sometimes cried over the phone. I wanted to blame my dad like I did before, but instead I tried to understand him. I was old enough to do so. Then I found that he was probably lonely in the family last 20 years. I wrote a letter to him thanking for everything he’s done for us. Gradually he changed and now my mum and dad are happy enough.

The last thirty something years, I didn’t do much for my dad. But I still remember how happy he looked when I introduced Paul to him. As soon as he found that Paul had Irish backgrounds, he stood up and shook Paul’s hand (My dad was an Irish literature professor). Now Paul is his favourite son. He loves drinking with Paul at dinner and chatting when we visit. The last 20 years, no one listened to his stories at home but Paul listens to him with all ears. My dad looks really happy.

And what's more, my dad really loves our son Nico. After our two week stay, my dad pretended like he had enough and was happy to have a quiet life back, but he wanted to come to the airport to see us off. When I have chat with my mum over Skype, he pretends like he’s not interested, but he constantly asks my mum to show Nico something they got for him.

I wasn’t a good daughter for him except for the first ten years, but now my husband and son are making him really happy and I can be proud of myself for bringing them to his life.

I hope he will live long so that I can make up for the lost twenty years.

Happy Father’s day!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Flight with a toddler (20 month old)

If my parents didn't ask us to come to Japan, we didn't really want to go this year. It's not that we don't like going to Japan, actually we really want to go there as much as possible, but if you know our son Nico in person, you'll know why. He's a lovely and happy child, but too wiggly! He can't stay still in one spot for more than 30 seconds. 

Last time when we went to Japan, he was only 8 months old and wasn't walking yet. We knew this time would be harder... So we tried to make it as easy as possible. We decided NOT to use direct flight - Jetstar.

Melbourne Domestic Airport

Direct flights sound easier, but not with Jetstar. We had a terrible experience last time with them. We booked a night flight, but they changed it to a 10am flight the next morning, and then that was delayed even more to 1pm, so we arrived in Tokyo nearly 12am. We were really exhausted. To make sure our night flight was really a night flight, we booked Qantas this time. Qantas doesn't have direct flight from Melbourne to Tokyo, so we had a transit at Sydney.

We left Melbourne around 9.30am and arrived in Sydney at 11am. This short flight was actually the hardest part of our trip. Nico slept in our car on the way to the airport, so he was wide awake on this flight. He kept moving around non-stop between Paul and me and the empty seat. We were prepared for this though. I read some tips for flights with toddlers and bought new small toys for him. I also wrapped them up to make it exciting to open. We gave Nico one of them during this first flight. He really loved it! Also we saved Nico's favourite Gibli animation (Kiki, Totoro, Spirited Away and Howel's moving castle) to our iPad and it worked well too. He sat down and watched it for at least ten mins.

In Sydney, we caught up with our friends and had lunch together. Then we went to my sister's home to have a nap before our long night flight (9 hours). Actually Nico fell asleep after lunch so by the time we got my sister's place, he didn't really want to go to sleep, but at least we Paul and I could have a little lie down while my sister was looking after Nico.

my sister and Nico

We left my sister's place around 5pm and had dinner at the airport. We knew that dinner would be served on the flight but the flight was 8.30pm and we knew that by the time the dinner was served, it would be nearly 10pm. We didn't want to interrupt Nico's sleep.

When we got on this flight, Nico was pretty tired and was ready to sleep. We got 1 extra seat so he put his legs on my lap and head on a cushion (it was actually my feeding pillow) in the extra seat and went to sleep after a feed (I still breast feed). He woke up a couple times for a feed, but slept nearly whole time! It was a good surprise for us how easy it was.

breakfast time- Paul was still sleepy....

The flight back was easy too! We could get two extra seats this time, so Nico could sleep pretty well and I could sleep well too. We didn't need to give him a toy nor iPad. The arrival time was around 6.30am so the flight attendants started to wake passengers up for brekky around 5am (4am Japan time). Nico always wakes up quite early so it worked well too.

Nico had an afternoon nap in the stroller we borrowed at Narita Airport

Our transit this time was at Brisbane and waiting at the airport was the second hardest time for us. We wanted to sit down and have a rest after long flight, but Nico wanted to move around. Well at least at the airport, we had space for him to run around. Also we could borrow a stroller there (our stroller was in checked luggage so we had no access during transit) so it was good. Our boy wants to be carried all the time so having no stroller can be just torture. We gave him another new toy there too.

having dinner at Narita Airport

Because we had to wake up early for brekky,  Nico was pretty tired by the time we got on the next flight at 10.30am. Nico slept for two hours from Brisbane to Melbourne. What an easy flight!
From Melbourne to Tokyo, it takes about 10 hours by direct flight. Like I said before, direct flights sound easier, but actually breaking up that 10 hours was much easier for us. If you're on the same flight for more than 10 hours, that means your kid will just be awake for longer hours. Just playing with kids in a small space for an extra 1hour will make you really exhausted.

If we can give someone tips for flight with toddlers, we'd say..
1. Choose a night flight as much as possible. If you have to fly during the day time, choose a flight around your kid's nap time.
2. If the flight is longer than 10 hours, break it up by using transits
3. Prepare some new toys
4. Ask check in staff to give you a whole row ( two extra seats) - it's sometimes difficult but you can still ask!
5. Get your kids ready for bed before the long flight - give them dinner, brush their teeth etc. If you try to have dinner with the other passengers, you and your kids won't be able to sleep until all the trays are cleared..

Personally breast feeding helped us with this trip (and the last trip) quite a lot. I was going to wean Nico before this trip but I'm glad I didn't. Whenever he was unsettled, I just fed him and he was happy. Feeding while taking off and landing helped Nico with ear troubles too.

there was a play space at Narita Airport..
It's good to make you kids tired before long flights!

We think Japan is one of the easiest flight destination with toddlers because you can choose a night flight. If we go somewhere domestic and it's 3 hour day flight, it would be harder than this 9 hour night flight.

Through this experience we got a little confidence in flying with a toddler. But we've seen mums with two kids or parents with a baby and a toddler on a flight too. Probably we haven't experienced enough to talk about this topic yet!

with love,

Monday, 1 August 2016

Kids-friendly Japan Trip- Mount Takao

If you're visiting just Tokyo and still want to enjoy beautiful Japanese nature, Mt Takao is where you should visit. It's only about 40mins by train from central Tokyo. You don't need any hiking gear, you can even go there with a toddler in a stroller (if you wish, with baby in a pram too!)

Can you find Paul in this photo?

This is where I used to go with my kinder and school for excursions. A cable car will take you to the halfway point of the mountain, where you can enjoy some attractions, a monkey park, a botanical garden, lookout and Yakuoin Temple. From there, you can walk up to the summit, but you can also stop there and go back. Of course you can climb the mountain from the bottom too-you'd better prepare proper clothes and shoes for this though. There are many routes to go up to the summit and you can choose which one depending on your hiking experience. It's a mountain that even school kids can climb so I'd say it's a"kids-friendly" place.

Since it got three stars in the Michelin guide book, it became really popular for international tourists. My mum told us that we would have to wait for a cable car for long time especially in autum leaves season..

But the day we went was quite foggy and had light showers, (well the forecast was fine!) so there were not many tourists and no long queues for the cable car. The only thing we got disappointed was that we couldn't see the view from the mountain (you can usually see the city) but we really enjoyed the fresh air in the rain.

We had rice cakes near the monkey park and it was really yummy!

Nico really enjoyed seeing many monkeys.

Lovely walk in light rain.

At Yakuoin temple

We didn't go to the summit so it took us only about two hours to go up and come back. We had Italian lunch near the train station.

Hopefully we can go there again when the weather is better next time. We're looking forward to climbing the mountain with Nico too when he gets 5 or 6:-)

with love,


Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Kids-friendly Japan Trip - Kodomo no kuni (Kids world)

I can't recommend this place enough. Nico, my parents, Paul and I really enjoyed this theme park called Kodomo no kuni. But it's not like Disney Land where you have to spend heaps of money for the entry, food and souvenirs. This park was founded in commemoration of the Royal Marriage of Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko (the present Emperor) and focused on developing kids' sound mind and body.

They don't have a big roller coaster but they have a 110m-roller slide!

My favourite American-Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi was involved in the project of making this park and they have his "Octetra" and a special slide he designed too!

You can enjoy nature walk in this 250 acre park but they also have little trains going around the park. You can rent a bike too.

Mini steam locomotive

Farm (they are making soft serve there!)

Lots of play equipment

Lunch time..

I went to this place many times with my school and I still remember I had lots of fun there, but didn't realize that it's such a great and special place until I became an adult and went back there with my own kid.

It's not easy access from central Tokyo but I'm sure your kids will love this place! 

Kodomo no kuni

Website: http://www.kodomonokuni.org/english/
Open hours    9:30-16:30
Closed on Wednesday (NYE and New Year's Day)
Entry fee: Adults 600yen
                 School kids 200yen
                 0-2yo Free!