Miss K is Turning One!!! - Presents you can give instead of toys


A year ago, we welcomed our 3rd baby into the household. One year on, Miss K has grown into a little cutest pudding in the world, always melting my heart with her charming smile (with only two bottom teeth!).


At 11 months right now, K is able to crawl at lightning speed and stand briefly without support. She can also say a few words, such as "Mama", "Papa", "Korkor", "Bye Bye" and "Bird". Alexis is still waiting patiently for K to call her out loud one day!

Since she is turning one, preparations for her celebration are definitely on its way! I've got the cake, cupcakes and macarons booked for the day already and my wonderful Mother-in-law has volunteered to cook every glutinous rice!

I would need to put up some goodies bags, order some balloons and then maybe fix some chicken nuggets, fish balls etc for the small group of guests.

One thing that I really dread though... is the moment of opening presents because there would be SO. MUCH. TOYS!

It's not that I don't like toys, but I think my kids have too much of them. The thing about those musical toys and all, is that the kids lose interest over it as soon as I finish spelling my name. 😑 I think it is similar to other children as well?

Today, I am compiling a list of stuff you can gift to children, instead of toys. Let's go!


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1. Books

I cannot emphasize how much I would love my kids to receive books as presents. A good story book would be the cherry on the icing, but other alternatives like colouring books with accompanying set of crayons and activity books would be a wonderful gift too!



Many months ago, our family received this really nice storybook from Gabrielle herself. Titled The Special Bear, the story talks about how this little bear always feel very bad about himself because he wasn't made perfect - he had only one arm, and he was patched up all over.

All his toy-friends laughed and made fun of him, and he hated how he looked. However, he was bought by a lovely lady who saw him as a "perfect" bear for her daughter. His life then changed dramatically, feeling loved and cared for even though he was hardly as perfect.

This story teaches children that everyone has flaws, and even though we are not perfect, we should love people for who they are. And of course, having a kind heart is more important than how "perfect" one looks.

The words used in this book is simple and straight-forward, allowing children from the age of 5 and up to start reading by themselves. Our 2-year-old Alexis loved the story as well, as it was easy to understand. There are also activities at the back of the book for parents to engage their children with too.

The Special Bear is available at Amazon, Armour Publishing and Coffee & Toast Mama Facebook Page at only $14++.

If you are not great at selecting books, you can also purchase a subscription from Josh & Cherie. We received a subscription over Christmas and the kids LOVE the books they have selected for them. (They've got Mandarin books as well!)


2. QueenBEE Secrets Balms



QueenBEE Secrets Balms are one of my favourite balms to bring around because of the compact size and it is absolutely efficient in soothing bug bites and lip cracks when we were in Japan. A couple of months ago, we received these three QueenBEE products - the Body Bee Smooth, Baby Buzz and Anti Bug Balm.

More details below:

QueenBEE Secrets BUSH BEE - Anti Bug Balm

With Organic Lemon Scented Eucalyptus essential oil to naturally repel bugs and sooth minor bites and abrasions. Lemon Scented Eucalyptus oil is pure and repels insects naturally.

Love level: 💖💖💖💖💖

I love this Anti Bug Balm because it is really useful for our outdoor trips! We usually bring it to the zoo or picnics with us. Regular applications really do keep bugs at bay - the kids barely complain of mozzie bites these days. (fingers crossed!)


QueenBEE Baby BUZZ

The Baby BUZZ is made from unrefined beeswax and gentle Paw Paw. We brought this to both Taipei and Tokyo with us and it works wonders in healing my cracked lips and soles! There is also Bee Honey Kissed and BEE Kissable specifically for lip care, but personally, I thought Baby BUZZ was good enough for all usage.

QueenBEE Body Be Smooth

Okie to be accurate, this Body Be Smooth balm is more for the mummy than the baby, but since I am at it, maybe give me a minute to run a quick introduction on it? The QueenBEE Body Be Smooth Balm is 100% Natural and Handmade.

It smoothens the skin texture and helps with cellulite and stretch marks with Ginger, Lemon, Juniper Berry and Lavender essential oils. However, it is recommended that this balm be used between 18 to 40 years old and to use it only after childbirth.

Interested in getting your own QueenBEE Balm? You can get them at Qoo10 or Lazada! Psst. I have an Instagram giveaway coming up soon so do follow me at @hellomrstan and QueenBEE Secrets Facebook Page to stay in the loop!

3. Strap Stop
If you've never heard of Strap Stop, ladies and gentlemen, this could be one of the best gifts you can give to your friends because this is essentially *the* life-changer for our family. How does Strap Stop works? It's simple. Basically, it acts as a horizontal strap, pulling the pair of parallel shoulder straps together so that children cannot sneak their arms out of their straps!

It may seem like a really small problem when we talk about it like this, but trust me. There is a huge problem that follows with kids taking their arms out of the strap. For one, my kids would be able to escape from their high chairs and stroller... and stand on their seats.

Without the arm straps restraining them, the hip straps is as good as useless - which can be really dangerous whether on strollers, high chairs or car seats.

The Strap Stop is exclusively available at Agape Babies, retailing at a mere $24.90. Somebody please give a useful gift already!

4. EZPZ Mat

Alexis using the Mini Mat in Coral from MumsPick - $48


The EZPZ Happy Mat is really a great gift my kids have received. First of all, I love its suction power. The relatively flat surface meant that kids cannot lift the placemat up easily and fling it everywhere.

My kids are more used to eating from a bowl than a plate, but with the 1" "wall", Alexis still found it easy to scoop up her food. I love how the plate is segmented into individual portions where I can display a variety of food for her visual stimulation.

The EZPZ Mat is now available in not only vibrant colours like the one we have, but Nordic colours as well! 😍😍



Also, you can consider getting the EZPZ Happy Bowl as well, if your kids eat off from bowls like mine.


Cleaning is really very straight forward with the EZPZ Mat as well - simply wash them with warm soapy water. It is made from 100% silicone and is BPA, PVC and lead free. Silicone does not support the growth of fungus, mould nor bacteria, making it an ideal material for young children. It is also a great investment since silicone doesn't melt nor corrode, even at high temperatures.

Our EZPZ Mat is from MumsPick and you can enjoy 15% off when you key in the discount code HELLOMRSTAN upon check-out!

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So there you go, 4 great ideas for useful presents, so you will never need to resort to buying clothes and toys for your little friends anymore! Psssst. I do have some giveaways from these wonderful retailers so stay tuned!

Disclaimer: All featured products are provided for by their respective retailers for the sole purpose of review and feature. All opinions are entirely our own.

[Discount Code Inside!] Lazada 3rd Birthday Surprise Box


Lazada is turning 3 years old this month and they've lined up a huuuuge range of surprise boxes for all of us!

For just these three days (21st March to 23rd March), you will be able to purchase these Surprise Boxes, filled to the brim with all sorts of goodies, at a whopping 90% off retail prices!

Arriving at my doorstep was the Avent X Lazada Surprise Box and boy! It really kept me very excited while unboxing it because it felt so heavy!!! This Avent Box is great for children ranging from 0 months all the way to 1 year old, satisfying their feeding needs one step at a time.

My Favourite Products

It is really hard to be picking out three favourite products, because I personally find all of them really useful! Here, watch the video below and you will get what I mean:



So there you have it! If Avent is not the thing for you, there are many other brands that are collaborating with Lazada in these 3 days' fiesta.

And many more!

Start shopping now! Remember to key in WOWJACQ18 upon check out to enjoy 18% off your bill.



Tokyo For Children: Ueno Zoo



Phew, it has been almost a month since we came back from Japan, and while I had the intention to write on some of the must-go and just-forget-about-it places, I got caught up with the whirlwind of work + kids aaaaand... you guys know the usual story. Haha!

Following my previous post on visiting Tokyo with three kids in tow, here are some places that I thought are more kids-centric that you can bring your little ones there.

Generally, with the subway, I think we can reach most touristy spots rather conveniently. Here's the Ueno Zoo I am going to cover today!

The Ueno Zoo is Japan's oldest zoo built since 1882. Inside, it houses 400 over species of animals,
having more species on exhibition than any other zoo in Japan.

Dylan watching the panda having his late lunch

The Ueno Zoo is very stroller friendly. You can either bring your own stroller, or you can rent one (albeit not very comfortable...) from the zoo itself. We are more used to babywearing, so Alexis is usually propped up behind Papa Bear's back while I would be carrying Miss K.

Of course, our strong little man will be walking on his own, exploring the places with us.


I think babywearing with thick jackets between us really brings the difficulty one level up. As you can see, our usual size adjustments is simply too squeezy for the little girl, although she thinks it is very comfortable and snuggly. 😂😂

It is also hard to secure the shoulder straps on the shoulder - Nian's kept sliding off because his jacket was too smooth! No wonder we don't see many people babywearing that day...?

Looking for the polar bear through the little windows



Just like in Taipei, a lot of places in Japan has souvenir stamps for children to collect! I DIY a little notebook for them previously when we went Taipei, but this time, I conveniently forgot about it because we were rushing to ensure that our work-work was completed before we embarked on our two weeks holiday.

Nevertheless, there are activity books for the kids to retrieve for free, and in it, there are designated spaces for them to stamp the mega stamps!




All in all, we spent a great 7 hours at the zoo! I mean, you can't expect it to be a quick trip because the place is really huge, separated into an East and West portion. Just look at how tired the kids are towards the end of the trip 😂


That's us walking across the link bridge that connects the two portions together. There is also a tram that you could take, at an additional cost, but since the weather was cold and crispy, we decided to take a walk.




This is a stork! I have never seen storks in real life, so I was really pretty intrigued by it. Hehe.


There were also sheltered displays where you can see smaller animals, such as the little monkeys and armadillos.




Useful information: 

* The nearest subway stations are the Subway Ueno Station and the JR Ueno Station
* Opens from 9.30AM and closes at 5PM, closed on Mondays
* Free for children below 12 years old, 600 yen for adults
* The Ueno Zoo is really close to Asakusa Sensoji, so you might want to plan your trip together

Is this worth a trip?

I would say yes, since the entrance fees are really affordable and children enter for free. We usually try to add in a zoo in our itinerary whenever we travel, since our kids enjoy looking at animals and we are pretty much limited to the Singapore Zoo when we are at home.

If you have younger children, I would think Ueno Zoo is a great destination to explore.

[Giveaway!] PSLove Non-medicated Heat Relief


So... this happened to me over the weekend. 😰😰 I wasn't quite sure how I got myself a stiff shoulder, but I think it is largely because of a bad sleeping posture (I think I was too sound asleep I didn't realise I was in an awkward position?) and probably because of my constant carrying of Miss K, on my left arm especially.

The silver lining though, was that I received some Non-medicated Heat Relief patches from PSLove a couple of weeks ago and well.... what a great time to test it out right? 😂


The PSLove Company retails three different heat patches: The BackHeat, NeckHeat and MenstruHeat


The MenstruHeat is the hottest, followed by BackHeat. NeckHeat being the mildest as the skin around the neck and shoulders tend to be more sensitive as compared to the back and tummy.

What I like - #1 Non-medicated, which means it is suitable for everyone

Heat therapy is clinically proven to be able to relief pains and aches. I like it that it is non-medicated, making it a fuss-free experience for people who might be allergic to any types of medications.


#2. Consistent heat flow

You will only need 5 minutes for NeckHeat to heat up, after it is being exposed to the air. It stays heated for the next three hours or so (based on my usage experience) and the heat produced is very consistent.

I usually use an electric water bag on my back and tummy during days when I over-exert myself, or when the dreaded menses is looming. The electric water bag tends to get hotter and hotter, so it can get quite dangerous as sometimes you might get scalded if you are not careful.

#3. No electrical wires to keep you confined to a particular area

You also don't need electricity for these non-medicated heating pads, which means that you can walk around the house and not get confined to the bed!

#4. No odour

I think this is quite important for me now as even with a sore shoulder, my life as a mom goes on. Because I would need to carry the baby regardless of a hurting shoulder, it is important that the heat pads that I use contains no odour as I wouldn't want to irritate her sensitive sense of smell.

This might be useful to you too when you might need a relief in confined areas, like offices, classrooms or buses, cabs and aircrafts. I have used medicated pads that have very strong smell that it really overpowers everything else, and my friends and colleagues will ask me, "Eh, you tak goyok again?" (stick medicated pads in hokkien lol)

So generally, it keeps your hurting shoulders / tummy / back discreet, while relieving the pain! 

***

You might also like to know that unlike the typical medicated pads that we usually use, which involves very, very, VERY sticky adhesive and bloody painful when peeling out, PSLove's heat pads are all made from medical grade adhesive so that there is minimal pain when you need to remove it.

We are advised to remove the heated pad after every hour of use, to allow the skin to breathe. However, I realised that the stickiness of the pads fades off by the third pull, making it hard to stick on the skin subsequently. 

Personally, I didn't feel like the heat pads are that hot that you need to remove it? But I know that different people have different heat and pain tolerance so please feel free to remove it if you feel any discomfort!

Also, I would also advise against wearing it to sleep as you might be too deeply asleep and might get lightly burnt (I would think the heat is equivalent to sunbathing lol) if you forget to remove it.

All in all......

I think that PSLove's non-medicated pain relief pads are a great find for me! While my shoulders are still stiff after a single usage, I would say that it indeed felt less stiff and painful when I had heat applied to it. I just wish I had a masseur to nudge those knots away 😂

It is also very affordable at only $2.45 eachMenstruHeat is available at selected Guardian and 7-11 stores as well.

Giveaway!

I have THREE sets of heated pads to give away! Each set consists of 1 BackHeat and 1 NeckHeat worth $5. To take part, simply follow these 2 steps:

1. Share this post on Facebook and make it a public post!

2. Leave me a comment with the following details:
i) Your email address
ii) Your Facebook link
iii) Tell me what type of pain is the most buay tahan for you. Is it menstrual cramps? Is it shoulder aches? Neck aches? Back aches?

Giveaway ends 12 March at 12PM. This contest is opened to Singapore residents only. Winners will be randomly selected and will be contacted via e-mail.

3 fun ideas for kids' gathering!



Have you ever had the headache of thinking what you can do with a huge group of children whenever there is a party? Today, I've compiled some of the very interesting activities that our children have done together with us. I hope they will be useful when you are planning your own party / gathering!


#1 DIY Sushi and Onigiri

During Christmas last year, my sis-in-law hosted a party at her place and she prepared a DIY lunch for the guests. It was very fun because the children get to play with their food (😂) and adults get to eat in peace (probably? lolol).

Nevertheless, it was a very engaging session for my kids and I, and it was enjoyable for my mother-in-law, who was watching the mess unfold from afar.. haha!

If you would like to host a DIY Sushi and Onigiri session with your children, here are some items you would need:

* clean picnic mat / mahjong paper (I won't recommend newspaper because kids tend to pick up the food dropped and newspaper isn't exactly clean)
* disposable paper plates, spoons and forks
* wet wipes and tissue paper
* rice moulds from Daiso

Ingredients:

* cooked crab meat, in whole pieces and shredded variety
* cooked corn bits
* cooked shrimp
* tamagoyaki (ready-made ones available in some Cold Storage stores)
* cooked rice
* seaweed sheets
* Aburaage tofu pouches (if you like Inari sushi. Available at certain Cold Storage stores)
* wasabi paste
* salmon sashimi

Steps:

Making sushi:
Using the rice mould from Daiso, make the elongated rice balls using warm rice. Then top with whatever ingredients you like, finish up with a strip of seaweed!

Making inari sushi:
Open the tofu pouches with clean hands, fill it with warm rice, top with desired ingredients and chomp it up!

Handroll:
Using a bigger piece of seaweed, fill the middle part with some rice, Japanese cucumbers and carrots. Finish up with the ingredient of your choice and roll it up from the corner.


Here's a really creative tamago-caterpillar "sushi" made by my nieces, along with an tamago inari sushi at the background. I forgot to mention that you can buy character punches from Daiso to make cute faces on the seaweed too!


#2 Bake and Decorate!

I love baking and decorating with my children because it offers them another outlet to express their creativity, apart from using paints and colour pencils.

In one of our gatherings, my sis-in-law prepared snow man cookies for the children to decorate with icing. I have a recipe below for you to make Gingerbread man cookies using your Friso milk powder at home!


Dylan and I had the opportunity to try out the recipe at Friso's pop-up store last December. Because of Friso’s LockNutri technology, it is able to endure high temperatures, without breaking down the milk’s natural nutrients.

Check out the video of us at Friso's baking class!


And this is our little boy's finished product. Have you seen a child's sense of satisfaction when he eats whatever that he has made? You should try it to experience it yourself! 😋


#3. DIY an aquarium!

We have had lots of DIY activities together, but this one is really one of my favourites because the after-product is so pretty! All credits to my sis-in-law for this activity, as she was the one who stayed up overnight to prepare the items before our get-together.

Here are some items you will need:

*a recycled plastic takeaway box
*printed background scenery
*printed fishes (print them in mirror image too)
*light stick
*blu-tac / glue gun
*strings

Steps:

1. Before setting up the children to DIY, you would need to do some background work. Measure the sides of the takeaway box and print the scenery based on the measurements taken.

2. Print the fishes, putting their respective mirror images on each other so that both sides are printed. Laminate the fishes and cut them out carefully. Also take the time to cut out little bits of string so that the kids won't need to use any scissors at all.

3. Kids take over from here! Choose their favourite fishes / shells / treasure box etc and secure them with blu-tac for those that reside at the bottom of the sea. The blu-tacs act like a little stand to keep the laminated pieces upright.

4. For the fishes, the children will affix one end of the string to the fish, and the other end to the ceiling of the box. You can use blu-tac or glue gun for this step.

5. Break the light stick and slot it into the takeout box! Secure it with more blu-tac (you will realise how useful blu-tacs are in this activity hahaha), or glue gun. Try not to buy something that is too long, as it will be difficult to make it fit.

Give these activities a try when you have a kids' gathering the next time round! It is very engaging and it gives a child a different experience, which will help them grow. If you have any other fun ideas to share, do leave a comment too!!

This post is in collaboration with Friso Singapore.

Exploring Amazonia!


A couple of weeks ago, before the Chinese New Year break came along, we brought our kids to Amazonia to have some fun! I've always heard about Amazonia, but we never really had the chance to explore it until recently.

You see, Dylan has just started his music class at Great World City, and coincidentally, it was only two doors beside Amazonia! Not much excuses not to drop by anymore, huh. 😏

First impressions

I've always heard about Amazonia's amazingly huge slide that I've always thought the kids will love, but what took my breath away was the sheer size of the indoor playground. It certainly didn't look exceptionally huge from the front, but when we were led through the sales and locker area, boy. That was when I knew I was wrong!

Shoe cabinets, lockers and sales area where children can shop for their favourite dino toys to bring home


Jungle Play Gym, Mini Golf and Spaceball!


After a short walk through a narrow corridor, we were first greeted with the Amazonia Bistro on our left.. and to our right, it was the renowned mega triple slide that made my kids squeal in excitement!

Happy children bouncing on the trampoline 😆😆



Aaaaand, how can they miss out the huuuuge ball pool? They loved it so much, they actually spent a grand 30 minutes at it!

Personally, I love it that it has a huge range of activities for the children to indulge in. Apart from the huge play gym, there are also Putters 3D Mini Golf that really set Dylan's adrenaline pumping because it was so dark and mysterious~


The Spaceball room was also full of excitement for the little ones, and while we were worried that Little Miss K may be afraid of the loud noises generated by the air gun, she was on the other hand, enjoying the little "war" we had between ourselves, hahaha.

Dylan concentrating on shooting the target. You get points for accuracy!

The game is played in the dark, with loads of neon paint glowing everywhere! It was really a one-of-a-kind experience that we have never experienced it before in other indoor playgrounds. Do take note though, you will need to pay for both the Spaceball and Mini Golf activity, on top of the entrance fees, if you visit them over the weekends, unless you meet a minimum spending of $70.

However, it is included in your admission fees if you visit from Mondays to Fridays.


If you have younger children who probably have difficulties climbing up the huge play gym, fret not because they have a smaller Jungle Gym area where they can hang out.

The Jungle Gym area has its own ball pit, mini slide, mats and lots of other small knick knack to keep our younger children busy, giving you some time to sit back, breathe and relax a little.

Amazonia Bistro


After hanging out at the playground for almost the entire day, we were all hungry! Like the bigger indoor playgrounds, Amazonia has a bistro that patrons can grab a bite or two, without having to step out of the playground at all.

I was quite surprised to see the food offered, there were Hainanese Chicken Rice, Sweet and Sour Chicken and other delicious Asian cuisine.. and they actually tasted very good, even Nian was surprised. We also took the chance to try out their thin-crusted Hawaiian pizza, since the kids love it. I would say that the food quality really surpassed our initial expectation!


Parties!!!


While walking towards the Glow Golf, we passed by two of their 4D Party Rooms and we cannot help but to venture inside to look around. One of it is this beautiful princess-theme room, perfect for our little girls who always dream to be a princess!

Personally, I love the pumpkin carriage dining table that we were seated in there. Alexis couldn't help herself, saying that she is Cinderella. 😂😂 Not like I've ever asked her to do any housework!

For our boys, there is a racing theme room to keep them all perked up and excited.


Would you look at the racing car seats! I can almost imagine my kids having their parties inside, with a full package of cake, food, juices, matching themed cups and plates, goodies bags, an experienced play host and three hour playtime for everybody!

The birthday child also get to enjoy 20% discount on the entrance fee for the entire year, and his/her friends would enjoy a complimentary 1-hour free pass for their next visit too.

All in all, we spent a good four hours at Amazonia, going through all their fun offers and enjoying a meal at the Bistro. The kids are definitely looking to go back there again really soon!

Amazonia Family Fun Centre
#03-08 GREAT WORLD CITY
1 Kim Seng Promenade Singapore 237994

Opens daily from 10AM to 9.30PM

Admission Fees:
Babies – Free per baby tagging with minimum spending of $10 (below 1 year)

Toddlers – $22 per child with complimentary Spaceball or Mini Golf from Monday to Friday. Minimum single receipt spending of $70 to enjoy complimentary Spaceball or Mini-Golf on weekends.

Children – $33 per child with complimentary Spaceball or Mini Golf from Monday to Friday. Minimum single receipt spending of $70 to enjoy complimentary Spaceball or Mini Golf on weekends.

Adults – $1 Per Adult for the first 2 Adults accompanying 1 Child.
Unlimited playtime on weekdays and 2 hours playtime on weekends

*Do note that socks are required to be worn at all times

Disclaimer: Our family is invited by Amazonia for the purpose of this review. All thoughts are our own.

Tokyo for Children


Hey guys! I hope everyone has been well so far. The Tan's have been very busy as usual, as we juggle between work, house and our three children. Over the Chinese New Year break, we brought our troopers to Tokyo, Japan, for a fortnight to experience some winter!

I think children these days are very lucky, don't you think so? Nian and I always say that we used to be pretty old before we first sat on an airplane... and our kids travel as young as 6 months.

Do you have plans to bring your children to Tokyo soon too? I understand that some parents are concerned about the radioactivity level since the Fukushima reactor broke down a couple of years back. If that is your concern, I would think Korea is a nice place to visit to experience winter too.

Why Japan?

When it comes to experiencing winter, I guess being around Asia, the few countries that are probably easier to navigate around on our own and a relatively manageable flight time (this is quite important for us!) are Korea, Japan, some parts of China and Australia. China is out for us because... I have a morbid fear of that country when it comes to food, drinks and crime rate. I don't think it is a suitable place to bring our children to lol.

As we were planning for a holiday during the Chinese New Year period, Australia's in summer right now, so no winter party for us. So we were really down to choosing between Japan and Korea. The husband prefers Japanese food, and we had a slight upper hand of having lesser language barrier, so Japan became the decided country.

Pros and Cons of Japan

I think I wouldn't need to elaborate on the pros of Japan - everybody knows that! 😂 I would, however, elaborate (or probably, hype) on what I really, really love when I was there.

💛 Great food and food hygiene



I have never seen anybody handling any food without gloves. The packaging was beautiful, the display was eye-catching.. almost everything was delicious! I mean.. just look at this *bucket* of Omakase Sashimi we had!

Our older kids take sashimi like us, even though it is raw. Thankfully, they have a pretty strong stomach so as long as these are properly prepared, they can eat them without issue. Our youngest 10-month-old, of course, wouldn't be fed raw food. However, she eats the rest of the food like a pro!


Baby eats the cooked shredded lobster in this Omakase sushi set.


Baby eats udon and egg in this spread.


Baby eats soba in this one.

I don't go through the hassle of cooking for my children, even for the youngest one, when we are travelling overseas cuz seriously... there is a reason why we call this a "holiday" ok 😂😂. Apart from the food that they share with us, we also prepare instant cereal and porridge where it can be prepared by just mixing hot water.

So, unless your child has dietary restrictions, I feel that you can really let them eat almost everything! You know, as compared to.. Bangkok perhaps? I would be inclined to let them stay away from street food if they are not freshly cooked kinda thing.

💛 Generally stroller-friendly

Most of the places we go to have very little stairs, and most of their subways, if I remember correctly, have lifts to bring you to different levels. That being said, though, I would still recommend parents to babywear their children if possible, because certain places are just too crowded to be pushing a stroller around.



Like Harajuku. WTF would you look at the crowd? I am not quite sure how I would manoeuvre my stroller through this!

💛 Low crime rate - 'nuff said.

💛 Availability of rest rooms - which is really great because hey, we all have kids who want to go toilet only when you tap into the station, don't we? You would be pleased to know that most subway stations and JR stations have restrooms located inside the paid area, so you won't have to tap out to relieve yourself.

💛 Generally courteous and helpful locals
Except for the grouchy cab driver we met on our first week of stay. Story below!

💛 A lot of tourist attractions are actually free of charge!

Yes, many, many places are free of charge. In fact, the only places that we spent money on entrance fees are Disneyland, Disneysea, Ueno Zoo and Legoland Discovery Center. Everything else was free.

Of course, nothing / nowhere is really perfect. Some of the cons I feel towards the Land of The Rising Sun are:

💔 High expenses

I think the high expenses puts me off quite a bit, especially when it comes to getting a taxi. This is my third time to Tokyo, but it is the first time where we travelled free and easy.

Having three kids in tow sometimes meant that we really NEED the additional convenience because.. imagine 2 adults hauling 3 kids, 2 luggages and 2 hand-carries? Not quite sure if we should use the left hand to pull the luggage, right hand hold one child... and then what's gonna happen to the hand-carry!

We only took the taxi twice in our entire stay, and both times were because we needed to deal with the heavy luggages.

Our first taxi ride was a short 5-minute ride to our AirBnb because that day when we reached, the wind was howling, the kids were screaming that they were cold... and we had absolutely zero directions to our apartment because we didn't have any maps and our Google Maps was not working because we had no Internet connection. 😱

Our Airbnb had portable wifi and we wanted to save some money on SIM card.. anyway, after 5 minutes of trying to figure out the right direction, we decided to just hop onto a cab. We knew we were really near, yet we had no inkling where the exact place was.

Thankfully, we decided on the cab because we were travelling in the exact opposite direction of where we should be walking! The 5-minute cab ride turn out to cost about SGD$10.

The second time we took a cab was when we transited from our accommodation at Roppongi to Magome. It was a 20 to 25-minute drive where we met the grumpiest driver because he absolutely couldn't tolerate my terrible Japanese ("Watashi wa... ano.. Magome ni... iki... ikitai?") 😂😂 He tsk-ed me really loudly when I gave up speaking Japanese and reverted to English.

That cab ride costs us almost $50SGD. I have never taken a $50 cab ride in Singapore ever. Even in a 25-minute journey!

***

💔 Space / Convenience / Affordability - You can only choose two

If you decide that you need more space because you have a big family like us, then you must be ready to pay more per night for accommodation.

Our kids huddled in a single foldable bed playing their Lego because there are no more floor space! LOL
Our Roppongi apartment is perfect for convenience because we are just a stone's throw from the subway station, and we only paid about $80/night! Downside was that I was sleeping beside the sink and refrigerator for the next 3 nights 😂

Then when we moved to Magome, which is a more residential area where more locals lived, we had a really spacious apartment with a separate living area, bedroom, laundry room and toilet. It felt like a relief after being holed up at our tiny one-room studio apartment at Roppongi. Downside was that we had to walk 10 minutes to the subway station, which included several uphills and downhills.

The secludedness of the area also meant that it would be almost impossible to catch a cab at the area to send us to Haneda Airport when we were about to depart. That day, we left 2 hours early even though our apartment was a mere 10 minutes drive away from the airport.

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💔Damn difficult to locate the exact place!

OMG THIS. I really think it is not easy to locate the exact place of an apartment / restaurant, unless it is super huge and has super prominent signages. You know how addresses narrow down from the street, to the block.. and then to the unit number?

I think the Japanese addresses doesn't really work the way our addresses work? For example, we had an address like this:

7-8-7 PAL Roppongi 402
Minato-ku, Tokyo

So when we showed it to our very helpful taxi driver whom we first met upon arrival, he enthusiastically keyed the address into his GPS... but when we got off....


This was the *exact* scene we saw. We were like...


"dafuq is 7-8-7?????????"

And then we realise, we had to look for something tiny like this, which can be located anywhere on the ground floor of the building, as long as it faces the road. That means that for some places, it can be located on the left, others right, some placed higher/lower than others...


Oh god, it is almost Mission Impossible because we really don't know where to look, and you would realise there are only two numbers below! Not sure if this is read as 21-9-2 or 2-21-9 seriously 😂😂

Every single place we went to, apart from the bigger amusement parks, we had to try to locate *the* place we wanted to go. I thought the hardest to navigate were places like Shinjuku because it is a battle of display signs... and everything is in a different language that we were comfortable in.


All we wanted was to look for Ichiran Ramen 😭😭😭

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When choosing a place to stay: Great locations

Since Tokyo is really huge and most of the time you would require to take the subway, I would recommend staying as close to any subways as possible. However, if you do have the luxury to choose, the most convenient subway stations are:

- Shinjuku
Shinjuku is probably the most convenient place to stay as it gets you to popular places like Harajuku, Shibuya, Yoyogi Park, Meiji Shrine etc. in less than 5 quick stops

- Roppongi
Roppongi is a great place to stay because it has its own entertainment area; travelling to the Shibuya area is also rather convenient with the Oedo Line as well. Running through Roppongi is another line, Hibiya, which connects you to Ginza.

When we stayed at Roppongi, it only took us about 45 minutes to get to Disneyland, which I think is not too far. There are also lots of fun places (like animal hospitals that you can walk in to see those adoraaaaable pets!) and great eats.

- Asakusa
The Asakusa area connects you to Ueno Zoo and Tech City Akihabara really quickly. It might be a good place for you to stay if you are arriving/departing to/from Narita Airport, because the distance is pretty near.

Other slightly off-town areas that can bring you to town rather quickly are Meguro, Ebisu and Gotanda.

In those two weeks in Japan, we covered these places:

* Tokyo Disneyland
* Tokyo Disneysea
* Ueno Zoo
* HARRY Hedgehog Cafe
* Miss BUNNY Rabbit Cafe
* Legoland Discovery Center
* Asakusa Sensoji Temple
* Yotsuya-sanchome Fire Museum
* Owl Forest at Harajuku
* Shinjuku
* Shibuya

Notable eating places are:

* Gram at Harajuku (limited edition fluffy pancakes that is served only to first 20 customers, three times daily)
* Aoi Marushin at Asakusa (Tendon and tempura)
* Ichiran Ramen at Shinjuku
* Isari Juhachiban (sashimi and sushi)

I look forward to writing up more in-depth reviews about these places, there are plenty of them that we really loved, while there are some... I think you are better off giving it a miss. Stay tuned to them by liking my Facebook page! 😊