Monday, 22 August 2016

Our First Home (1): Master Bedroom & Bathroom

Getting our first house together was a looong (too long >_<) and tedious process. We knew we wanted a resale 5-bedroom HDB flat because we liked being able to choose the location, level, view and structure of the house. We searched and by the grace of God, found the right one slightly below valuation =)

We placed a deposit in December and had to wait 3-4 months for the actual transaction (that's the norm for resale flats). Our renovations started at the beginning of April and were promised that it will only take 2.5 months. However, the whole renovation was only completed at the end of July! Four whole months! *grr*

Thankfully the renovation was completed (honest review of our ID & company in a separate post) one week before our rental contract was up (lucky we rented!) and we moved from our rental place to our new place at the end of July.

Since a lot of my friends/ readers are or will also be going through the same process, I thought I'll document our journey before and after for your reference =)

Our home is still work in progress but I thought I'll start with our master bedroom because it was the first room that I had finished after we had moved in (it's the room I spend the most of my time in!).

[BEFORE]

One of the corners of our room after the owners had moved out
Left: entry into the bedroom;
Right: The bathroom before renovation
After demolition

[AFTER]

OUR MASTER BATHROOM

The husband wanted a black and white bathroom so our Interior Designer (ID) came back with a few designs and we picked the one we liked the most:

3D Mock Up courtesy of our ID

Our ID brought us to pick our tiles and though I wanted more colour in the bathroom, I was out-voted by the hubby and our ID *sigh*

Contractors in the midst of putting up the tiles

Although we bought the accessories (e.g. toilet bowl, towel rack, shower, sink, tap and mirrors) ourselves from various shops, our ID provided the installation for free.

We were quite pleased with the final look!

Our master bathroom =)
Tons of hanging space above our toilet bowl
Our shower area with my chosen side rack to put our toiletries

The glass divider was supposed to have a door but we did away with it so that the toilet will not feel so cramped (it's already sooo small; I'm not complaining though, I have less to clean!).

We chose black and grey for our doors to go with the black, grey, blue and white colour scheme of our house.

The bathroom door (left) and the master bedroom door (right)
(all the room doors are the same)

OUR MASTER BEDROOM

I've always wanted a walk-in wardrobe and since we couldn't knock down the kitchen wall to open up the kitchen (will talk about that later), we used the money we saved from that to build our mini walk-in wardrobe =)

3D Mock Up of our bedroom courtesy of our ID
Actual drawings of our wardrobe dimensions by our ID
(who did not take into consideration the limits of our floor area until it was time to install and ended up having to switch the original design and rebuild it. This was just one of the many delays of this project..*sigh*)
Choosing the colours of our wardrobe
(black and blue, in sycn with the rest of the house)
The wall that divided our bedroom into two

In all fairness, although our ID took forever to get our wardrobe done, at least it was done really well.

Before and after!

The moment we moved in, I couldn't wait to organise our wardrobe (yes the OCD kicking in *laughs*)! Took me a good 4-5 days to get it organised just the way I like it #theMadelineStandardofOrganisation =)

Left: My side of the wardrobe (all colour-coordinated and neat;
Right: Hubby's side of the wardrobe (with a shelf and drawer that's mine). Less colour-coordination but at least he attempts to keep it relatively neat =)

Surprisingly, it was the hubby who decided that an open wardrobe would look nicer. I'm not complaining; I get to see (and display) my beautifully organised wardrobe any time I want! *laughs*

Clockwise from left: The look of the wardrobe from the bedroom door;
Keeping things clean and organised with cloth boxes that are labelled clearly so that you'll always know where everything is;
My little beauty corner =)

If you have an open wardrobe like ours, it's good to buy cloth boxes from Ikea, Japan Home or Mini So like I did because they will keep your things free from dust and make your wardrobe look less cluttered.

For the icing on the cake, I put the full length mirror at the corner next to the bathroom. And this is no ordinary mirror; it stores my entire collection of accessories!

My super awesome full length mirror
(bought on Qoo10 by the bro-in-law but they decided later that a dresser fit their lifestyle more so this became mine =D)
Look at all the storage!
There's even a place to store your rings and studs!

Gotta say, getting ready every morning is a real pleasure =)

For the rest of the room, we kept it relatively simple (I'm no minimalist and don't ever want to be one so to me, this is simple).

Our combi blinds from Korea that we got from Contempo at a good price during their annual sale
(They made a mistake with the measurement of the blinds in our room but were willing to fix it for us free of charge)
Our bed
(the same one we've been sleeping on since we got married)
The thing about resale flats is that at least it's big enough to fit my queen bed AND a toddler bed.
Was super happy that it fit just right, with some space on the other side for our safe/ side table.

I was a bit apprehensive that our room will feel cramped since we were wanting a lot in just one room. However, although it looks pretty cramped in the photos, our room actually feels quite spacious =)

Our small TV Console that can accommodate our DVD player, TV Box and Speakers with more than enough storage for everything else
(we don't have cable TV in the room so I've been catching up on all 10 seasons of FRIENDS on DVD)
The aircon installation guy told me that the heat from the TV could cause condensation in our aircon and affect its functioning. His recommendation was to install a shelf, which was what we did.
My kids enjoying a movie in our room

Totally love our master bedroom! Hope that you had enjoyed touring it =)


Continue to >> Our First Home (2): Kids Room


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This post is part of my series on Our First Home where I'll share our renovation and home decoration ideas and review our renovation company and various vendors.
Join us on our journey as we make a house our home =)


You can also follow me on Instagram via the hashtag #houseofkmjj! =)

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

My Boy's First Week of School

We have registered our boy in a pre-school across the road from our block in January this year, after we had confirmed our purchase of our first home (more on that coming up!). We told them that we'll only be able to start in July/August, after we have moved in. They were ok with that as we had placed a deposit with them.

After we moved in end July, we decided that he should start on 1 August. As this was not my first time sending a kid to child care (read about our hunt for a childcare and my girl's first week of school) so I kinda knew what to expect...

Tears, and more tears. That's what.

Sigh.

Day 1

Knowing that my children are more well-behaved with me than with the doting mum-in-law (I'm the main disciplinarian in the house), I would be responsible for bringing my boy to school, at least for the first month.

We got the boy to put on his shoes to walk to school and he was extremely excited because he thought that I was going to bring him out "gai gai". I got him to carry his school bag and walked with him to his school.


The child care recommends that the first 3 days be half days and that parents are allowed to enter the premise so that the child can slowly ease into an unfamiliar environment.

After the children sang the National anthem and took the pledge, the teachers took the N1 and N2 children out for a nature walk around the neighborhood (they also said hi to the elderly folks along the way which brightened up their morning).

Walking with his peers
(Halfway he cried to be carried and I couldn't carry him the whole journey so he had to walk reluntantly while wiping away his tears)

It was not easy for any child to transition but my boy's difficulty was mainly due to the defined structure that he now had to follow whenb he had been so carefree the last 2 years, doing whatever and whenever he likes. He didn't want to join in any of the activities, preferring to play by himself at the toy cupboard.

Entertaining himself with all the toys in the school

His teacher told me to let him be; they usually allow them to have more freedom in the first few weeks so that they can get used to the environment.

When it was time for lunch, my boy ate everything in his bowl and even asked for more. The teachers were very pleased because it meant that at least they weren't going to have problems with him at meal times.

Eating from his bowl independently and enjoying his apple after he was done

We decided to not bathe him because he hates baths in general (for some strange reason). And since he's only there for half a day, I decided to bring him home.

I thought that went quite well for a first day but I knew not to celebrate yet. There's more to come.

Day 2

The teacher told me that I can start releasing him so I spent an hour with him in the school before telling him that I needed to eat my breakfast (which was true) and that I will be back to pick him afterwards. I hugged, said goodbye and walked away. He cried immediately and it was a terrible feeling but I knew I had to do it.

I know some people prefer to just secretly disappear when the child's not looking but I find that that will make the child more insecure. It's better to tell them upfront and when they see that you did fulfill your promise to come back, they are more willing to trust you the next time.

I had a long and leisurely breakfast by myself at the nearby coffee shop where I actually managed to finish a whole blog post (blogging on my phone comes very naturally to me now). Feeling accomplished, I walked back to the child care to take a peek at how my boy is doing.

Watching him feed himself while staying hidden behind a cupboard
Teacher interacting with him

When he wasn't looking, his teacher had a chat with me and told me that he only cried for a few minutes after I had left. She thinks he's doing very well. I was very heartened to hear that!

He caught me peeking at him from the side and gave me a sneaky smile but did not run to me. Good boy =)

He was delighted when it was time to go home and happily waved goodbye to his teachers.

Day 3

I was going to continue working from home today but since he had done well the day before, I decided to drop him off and pick him after noon (since he's still on half day).

When I handed him to his teacher, he started crying and I had to do the same thing that I did the day before, say goodbye and go. It was so painful =(

I got held up at the office so when I came to pick him up close to 1pm, he was already asleep with the rest of the kids! Not wanting to wake him, I told the teacher that I'll come get him later in the afternoon. I was pretty thrilled with his progress so far but I knew from experience that this is just the beginning.

Day 4

The daddy and I both dropped him off this morning because the long term plan is for the daddy to send the boy to school while I send the girl. Unfortunately, he knows his daddy dotes on him too so my boy regressed, cried really hard, tried to hide behind his daddy and refused to go in. He didn't behave like this when I brought him to school! *sigh*

Crying and not wanting to go to school
(I feel you Baby Boy, I don't want to go to work too)

Apparently he behaved equally badly when the mum-in-law came to pick him. So much so that even his teacher commented that there is a stark difference in his behaviour than when he was with me. Smart boy, he knows whose button he can push and get away with (-_-).

Day 5

After all the hoo-ha yesterday, I decided that I will continue bringing my boy to school alone to ensure he behaves well.

I will also have to dress him in his uniform (usually mum-in-law takes care of dressing the kids; I know, I'm spoilt) because he kicks up a big fuss every morning and refuses to wear it. He now knows that whenever he's wearing his uniform, he has to go school. Smart boy =/

By the time we got into the lift alone, just him and me, he makes that "I'm trying so hard to be brave but I wanna cry cos I'm scared but I can't" face which really kills me. Poor boy.

I have to say, I'm proud of boy for being so brave and walking to school with me (without asking to be carried) even though he really didn't want to. He's really growing up!

And the school is good for him; I noticed that he is speaking a lot more, joining other children in activities, doing things independently, etc. All the things that I had hoped when I first made the decision to send him to school.

Hopefully he will continue to love school and we will have less problems with him every morning..

Although who am I kidding? My kids are night owls like the hubby and I. They'll never be completely ok with waking up early and going to school just like we will never be completely ok with waking up early and going to work. But well, that's just the life of night owls I guess *laughs*

And this is only the first week. More whining and crying to be expected once the boy realises this is going to be forever and not just a one time thing. Wish me luck *cross fingers*

Monday, 25 July 2016

MiaMily HIPSTER Baby Carrier

It has been a long time since I had reviewed a carrier. However, I couldn't resist trying out the MiaMily Hipster, which has been tested and approved by The International Hip Dysplasia Institute and Baby Carrier Industry Alliance as a hip healthy product. I've often gotten feedback that Hip Carriers are not good for baby's hips so this intrigued me to give it a try.

MiaMily Hipster
(Retail price: S$199)
Swiss brand MiaMily's 2-in-1 Baby Hip Carrier

I was given the ruby red, which was really striking and great for carrying both boys and girls.

The MiaMily Hipster, laid out horizontally
The hip seat, which can be attached to the double shoulder strap
Small pocket on the waist belt for putting tiny stuff
Inner portion of the waist belt is well cushioned for your comfort
Front pocket of the double shoulder strap
(it'll be better if the pocket has a zip on top though otherwise things such as cards or phones might drop out)
The pocket can be removed to give your child greater ventilation
(but that would mean no pocket for your things)
A simple white hood for projecting your child's head
These white strap pads aren't the prettiest but they get the job down by protecting your straps from a teething baby or giving you additional support on your shoulders should you need it.
Would be better if they were of a nicer colour or design though.
The MiaMily Hipster comes with a foldable bag to put your carrier when you don't need it and folds up when you do. I thought that this was something very useful that other hip seat carriers do not come with.

This is not my first time using a hip seat carrier so I'm quite familiar with all the different ways that you can carry your child with it. There are 9 different ways you can carry your child with a MiaMily Hipster but these are my favourites:

1) Front Face-to-Face

Carrying my boy at Koh Samui International Airport while waiting to clear immigration

2) Front-Facing

I know this position isn't the best for his hips but my super active boy loves it as he gets to see things other than my chin.
I try to limit carrying him in this position for short periods of time.

3) Back

Carrying him like a backpack.
Great on the shoulders for me but not so comfortable for him because my hair keeps flying into his face
(you can tell he's not really happy about it)

When using the MiaMily Hipster, I did notice that it does provide more support for my boy's legs as compared to my other hip seat carrier (which causes my boy's legs to droop more). However, I also acknowledged that the support is still less than other cloth carriers so do weigh the pros and cons when deciding between the different types of carriers. Do also note that hip seat carriers are not suitable for very young babies who are not able to sit up by themselves.

Well as you can see, all my favourite positions require the shoulder straps as I prefer to go hands-free. However, you may prefer to use it without the straps as some kids don't like to be strapped in.

With my boy getting more and more active and climbing out of our strollers even though we had strapped him in, it's useful to strap him tightly into a carrier so that he can't get away (this is especially useful if you're shopping in a store full of breakables and you don't want your hyperactive toddler to destroy anything). One of the reasons why I still put my boy in a carrier even though he's getting almost too big for it.

The other reason is that I really love having him so close to me! I really miss the days when he used to breastfeed and sleep in the carrier! Nowadays he's only in it when we need to restraint him. Ah well, at least I can still carry him in the MiaMily Hipster. I think that I will really cry when I can no longer carry my boy in a carrier any more. They really grow up too fast!! *sigh*


P.S: Follow My Baby Carrier Reviews as I personally put various baby carriers to the ultimate test! Do also keep yourself informed of Babywearing Safety tips when buying or using baby carriers =)

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Disclosure: A complimentary baby carrier was received from MiaMily for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received; all opinions are my own.

Monday, 18 July 2016

My 2.5 Years Postpartum Weight Loss Report

Let's be honest, I'm probably the least likely person to give advice on this but seeing as I had gained a grand total of 28kg after two pregnancies and have lost 23kg (back to my pre-baby-number-2 weight), I should probably share so that you'll be encouraged =)

The first 18kg in the first 6 months after I had given birth to Baby Boy was relatively easy for me. I was breastfeeding and doing pilates regularly.

And then my weight loss stalled and try as I might, I didn't make much progress after one year. In fact, I sometimes gained some of the weight I had lost (which is not surprising since muscles are heavier than fat).

Me at Phuket last year, struggling to continue the weight loss

To encourage myself, I told myself that I should love my body because decades down the road when menopause hits, I'm going to want this body back.

So I did. I stopped fretting about absolute weight loss and focused on training my abs. God also encouraged me that if I had lost the weight too quickly, I would gain them back quickly too.

And slowly but surely, I had lost a grand total of.. 2kg (actually more like 4kg since I had gained some weight). After all that effort of limiting the amount of CNY goodies that I ate this Chinese New Year too! Well, at least I am now in the acceptable weight range and no longer overweight! *cheers*

20kg down, 8kg to go

Then my weight loss started to speed up to my surprise, I had lost 3kg more since Chinese New Year! It may not sound like a lot but it was enough to get me from XL/L to L/M! Time to buy new clothes! =)

Many of you have asked me what I did to reach this point in my weight loss journey so here's sharing the changes I made in the last 6 months:

1) EAT BROWN RICE

I was having a conversation with a health-conscious-gym-nut colleague (packs his own lunch every single day! *gasp*) who convinced me that white noodles (which I love so much!) is worse than white rice in terms of calories! That thought bothered me a lot, hence, I bought brown rice and started to eat it everyday.

The brown rice that I eat every evening for dinner.
As brown rice is a lot more filling, you don't need to eat a lot of it to feel full (unlike white rice).

The awesome Chef Grandma (the mum-in-law) also packed lunch for me to eat at work. This saved me a lot of money as I had recently started work in Orchard and the food here is crazy expensive.

My homecooked meal that I bring to work at least twice a week

It's not easy to find brown rice in Singapore so I've had to eat white rice or noodles whenever I can't find brown rice. As much as possible though, I eat brown rice because not only is it more nutritious, it keeps you full for longer (which means less snacking!).


2) REDUCE PORTION SIZE

Share a bowl of noodles or rice with your child whenever possible so that you can reduce your food intake. Over time your stomach will shrink and won't be able to eat anything more even if you wanted to (this happened to me!). It helps to tell yourself, "that's enough, I can't eat any more" so that your brain gets the message. We really don't need all the calories that we eat anyway!


3) REDUCE INTAKE OF DIET COKE

For those of you who know me, you'd know that I love Coke Light!! I love it so much that I drank it everyday, even during confinement when I wasn't allowed to. Everyone keeps telling me that even though there are no calories in Coke, it will still lead to weight loss because of the high salt content. It causes A LOT if water retention, especially at the belly area! But did I listen? No.

Not until I switched to brown rice. I found that I craved for Coke Light less and less. To the point that I don't stock my fridge with them any more and whatever is in my fridge has expired!

Of course, there are moments of weakness when I caved but c'mon, I'm human. Let's get real *laughs*


4) DRINK WATER WHEN YOU'RE HUNGRY

My huge 1.5 litre pink water bottle

If you've just had a heavy meal and minutes later you're hungry (should not be the case if you had brown rice), drink water! Sometimes your body misinterprets thirst for hunger. I brought my huge 1.5 litre bottle to work and drink whenever I feel hungry or stressed.


5) INTENSIFY YOUR WORKOUT

I now know, having discovered my love for Pilates, that the key to consistent exercise is finding one that you love and sticking with it. Nobody could believe that it has been almost 3 years since I had started Pilates, and I'm still going strong. I love it!

However, you'd stagnate over time if you keep doing the same movement over and over again. If you've been doing the same exercises for a while now, it is time to up the tempo.

A fellow Pilates friend took this photo of me doing a plank on the reformer.
This is actually the easiest plank; we do a lot harder ones during Weight Loss Plus, which includes lifting our legs and moving our arms up and down while in the plank position.

For me, I signed myself up for Weight Loss Plus Pilates classes instead of the usual Weight Loss classes, which had gotten too easy for me. The exercises really pushed me and at the end of most classes, I was panting like crazy and wondering why I put myself through such torture.

Well, this. That's what!

I've got abs! Think the last time I had them was in Junior College!
(Yes I know, I still have some fats on my tummy to lose but for now I'm going to celebrate! Step by step *grin*)
I never dared to wear a midriff ever since I've given birth until now.
After 2.5 years, I finally feel like I'm confident enough to wear a bikini again =)

Of course, what worked for me may not necessarily work for you. And it did take me 2.5 years to lose all the weight from Baby #2 (you may need longer or shorter) *pfffft to all of you who lost weight simply by sneezing!!!!*

And, it's ok for your weight to stagnate. Muscles weigh more than fats and it will take a while for your muscles to build up. Just remember that once you have developed the muscles, you will lose weight just sitting because the muscles are still consuming calories. It will be worth it in the end!

25kg down, 5kg to go!

To tell you the truth, I'd be happy if I had just lost 3kg! Break the mould that you'd be stuck at a certain weight and all that. It's time to up my exercises at home! Will update you again, hopefully with a good report =)
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