How we survived flying 15 hours with the kids and coped with the jetlag – JahBella in the US (May 2017)

We finally embarked on our long haul journey to the US 2 days ago..well between the option to take a direct flight (15 hours to San Francisco) or a 1 stop option (20 to 24 hours) we were spoilt for choice and many people were kind enough to give us their 2 cents worth on which might work better. Many parents felt that a 15 hour flight at a go without an option to get off the flight and stretch or run it off, was a recipe for disaster. However we decided to give it a try anyway since we preferred the arrival time at 9am.

So here’s how we made it work for this flight in particular and how we broke up the flight for the kids and kept everyone relatively sane
Time in US shown in brackets 

First half of the flight 

Our flight took off at 925am (SFO 625pm), we kept the kids awake although it didn’t take much effort to, since they were really raring to go. Lunch on board was served at about 10+am (SFO 7+pm), I guess u can consider that dinner if u wanted to. The kids spent the next 2 hours, eating and watching their inflight entertainment. By the time meal service ended at about 12+pm (SFO 9+pm), the kids didn’t mind going to bed. Thankfully they are used to a naptime in school at about this time. Lights in the cabin were switch off which made it a lot easier for them to doze off. The kids slept for almost 4 hours! Which meant they woke up at about 4pm (SFO 1am). 
2nd half of the flight 

I had tuned my watch to SFO time by now and of course panicked a little (a lot) knowing that they are awake at 1am SFO time! But I really didn’t have much energy to fight them on it (haha what else could I do). Somehow their wake time was actually pretty perfect because the crew started switching on all the lights in the cabin anyway and began serving breakfast. The kids took their breakfast and then continued watching their shows. By the time the meal service ended at about 7pm (SFO 4am). The kids were starting to get groggy again and I told them that they had to sleep for abit. Shockingly they didn’t fight me! So with the cabin lights dimmed again, they took another nap from 7pm to 930pm (SFO 4am to 630am). I could tell when they got up at 930pm (SFO 630am), they were getting a little edgy and impatient but we were only 2 hours away and that 2 hours was manageable with abit of bribery (candies and snacks). The choice of a morning arrival worked in our favour because the kids had all morning to work off whatever sugar they had consumed and they had obviously adjusted to the time difference by the time we landed in San Francisco.

Conclusion

A 15 hour flight is perfectly manageable if the time of the flight is used effectively to tune their body clocks. The arrival in the morning worked in our favour because it was easy to keep the kids up for the rest of the day when they were so excited to get started on their holiday. I’m not sure if the same can be said if we had arrived at night instead. I’m guessing it would be quite hard for them to sleep through the night then. For the record, we made sure the kids were engaged after we landed so there was less chance of fatigue and restlessness setting in and the kids took a nap at about 4pm SFO time. We dragged them up for dinner at 630pm, bedtime was a breeze at 10pm and they slept through the night. Safe to say, they are completely on SFO time now and we will be attempting the 1 stop flight on the way home so more on how to cope with that to come (if we do cope with it successfully of course, wish us luck!!!) 🙂

More on how we occupied them upon our arrival into San Francisco..haha a pretty nail biting experience for the parents :p

JahBella’s Mummy

We are back! With a kid activity review no less – Kidzania Singapore 

Hi everyone! I know we have been very quiet of late (for the last 3 months to be exact). Our family has been plagued with one family emergency after another since February and to be very honest I just haven’t been in the mood or had the energy to write much. 

However a little episode with my handphone’s memory being wiped out this past week, reminded me of the reason I write. I lost all my photos from Jan to April 2017 😦 Exactly the period I stopped blogging for. So here I am again, determined to not lose any more of our memories.

We were originally supposed to be on a family trip to Bangkok this last weekend. A city that we used to visit as a couple every year and one that we have not been back to for almost 10 years. We had promised the kids, many fun activities and they were particularly looking forward to Kidzania Bangkok. We also figured it would be a cheaper first time to Kidzania, just in case they didn’t take to it and were afraid to try out the jobs. But as luck would have it, life threw us a few curveballs and the trip was cancelled.

Thank goodness we have a Kidzania right in our own backyard so that we could still keep our promise to the kids albeit a more expensive experience.

We bought our tickets online (few dollars cheaper than at the door) and crossed our fingers and hope that it wasn’t too crowded on a long weekend. We have heard/ read the horror stories of the weekend crowds and were a little worried on how diluted an experience the kids would get.

We got to the check-in counters (resembling an airport) at 10am and were quickly tagged to our kids with matching ‘watches’. This meant that our kids could not leave the place without either one of us and I later found out that I could access all our professional photos just by tapping my watch at the photo shop. Our whole family was synced up!


First stop for the kids was the bank, to activate their debit card and bank account where they would store their salary or pay for activities. As we started to walk into the bank with the kids, a staff stepped forward and say “Parents, please wait outside”. Haha what a shock to the system..:p


Jah and Bella came out of the queue a couple of times to ask for us to join them but eventually were convinced that they could just queue together and it would be fine. Jah completed his banking fuss free because he knew his birthday. Bella on the other hand was sent out to ask me for her birthdate before she could complete her transaction. 


We headed to the Qatar Airways Pilot and Cabin Crew jobs first and took a queue ticket for 11am. We wanted to try the Paddle Pop Job which was right next to it but the lady told us to come back after the airline job because we wouldn’t finish in time for our 11am slot. I love how the other jobs were very aware that the kids were all probably holding an airline queue card and made an effort to help us plan rather than blindly taking us in for the job. 🙂

To kill time, we ended up at the Spritzer water filtration job, honestly not the most natural job that I would have chosen but the kids were willing to give it a shot and we were all in for a surprise. The facilitator in charge was a dream! She managed to engage the kids and made things so fun for them even though I’m sure the subject wasn’t the most interesting or exciting. They will laughing, giggling, high fiving her and running around (not sure that’s allowed in a real lab though :p). They loved it so much that it helped them relax and got them very keen to try on the rest of the jobs…phew!! A big thank you to her!!!

We headed back to the airline job and Jah and Bella were quickly ushered off to their training while Joel and I made ourselves scarce, in case they came running out to look for us. The pilot and the cabin crew had to be separated so we were worried that Bella would freak out because she would only do a job if her Brother did it with her. We were not allowed to see how the pilots did their job but one parent would be invited on board so that the cabin crew could serve them. Jah later told me that his pilot job was very fun and he wanted to come back for it again 🙂

We spent a good 5 hours at Kidzania that day. I was surprised the kids lasted so long but then again you really do need to spend that amount of time, given that most jobs last 20-30 mins minus the queueing time and we were there on a relatively quiet day.
The kids also attempted the following jobs

Paddle Pop Ice cream Maker (Free Ice Cream!!!)


SCDF (You get to ride in a fire truck and rush to a hotel fire to put it out)


Candy Maker


Abbott Milk Lab (Bella was really tired by this time and the only reason she decided to join the 30 mins activity was for the money. Yes I kid you not! She was just waiting to be paid so that her Brother would not have more money than her, in his account)


KFC (They initially wanted to do the CSI job but changed their minds because they needed a mid day snack and yes they earned their mid day burger :p)

And this was probably 1/3 of the career options they had. The kids had so much fun that Jah is already planning for his next visit and has also asked for a trip to Kidzania as his birthday treat.
It helps that there is some semblance of continuity for the kids too because they get to bring home the debit card which they activated and keep their salary in the card and reuse it for their next visit! 

Honestly, it was also really funny to see how parents (yes us included) have a tough time letting go and wanting to solve every problem for their kids (queue cutters). It was tough not knowing what was being said in the rooms and not knowing if your child is misbehaving or following instructions correctly because you can’t hear a thing. In fact at some point, I felt like the kids were coping better than us…however it all changed at the 3 hour mark for me because by then I was really too tired to care or hawk over my kids anymore haha so not only was this a lesson for my kids in independence..it was definitely one for Joel and me too. 🙂

Oh and did I say it yet? I’m happy to be back…

JahBella’s Mummy

Ezpz Playmat [Review and Mumspick Discount Code]

Jah and Bella love to paint, I mean which kid doesn’t love to play with paint right? Problem is, everytime these kids go “mummy can we do painting today?” My answer is almost ALWAYS “ermm no maybe next week ok?” Trust me, it’s not because we don’t have the paint supplies on hand in fact we probably have too much paint supplies, stashed away somewhere at the back of the storeroom. Because every time mummy goes online shopping, it always seems like a fantastic idea to stock up on art and paint supplies for the kids to indulge and play with. Except that paint time never really materialises at least not on a regular basis when I think about the process of hawking over them as they paint and envision cleaning up after. 

What could go wrong you say? Well how about how my heart drops when the plastic cup of paint water threatens to topple over when they reach over to rinse their brush or over enthusiastically stir their brushes in the cup. Or when they splatter their paint all over the table or accidentally paint the table as they try to colour near the edges of the paper. Which is also why I make them paint while sitting on the floor which is absolutely horrible, not just their posture but gives us pins and needles all the time. 

I know I know, mummy is such a control freak right? :p

But problem solved today when I was introduced to the Ezpz Play Mat. Similar to its other products in its range like the Ezpz Happy Bowl or Happy Mat which is made of a high quality silicon that suctions itself to a table (oh what I would give to have a product like that available when Jah and Bella were little!!! and meal times involve swinging arms and flying plates!) The Ezpz Happy Mat is perfect for painting, Lego sorting, beadwork and necklace making, drawing with dry erase markers or crayons, cookie decorating. 

The kids were super excited that they were allowed to sit at the table to paint, without mummy constantly nagging at them to be careful with the cup of water. Or to watch where they are painting (yes mummy is very naggy sigh)


As you can see from the photos, I could fill the centre of the flower design with water for them to wash their brushes and they could use the 5 smaller ‘petals’ for their paint. We used the empty space on the right as their work space. The kids used it to work on painting their leaves and then we later used that space to place half an A3 paper for them to paint on. Yes halving a A3 drawing block paper fit nicely into that space. 🙂 


Oh sure we had abit of splattering especially with Miss Bella but nothing that I couldn’t deal with and the aftermath was really quite clean and decent.


In fact cleaning was quite a breeze too because I didn’t have to carry paint brushes, cups and paint palettes on multiple trips and could just stack the play mats and take them to the sink at one go. The mats are bendable so you can still wash them pretty easily even if you have a small sink or wash area. We spent a good 1.5 hours just painting and I just sat there and watch them which made painting so much more enjoyable (for me :p)


For those who are inclined to involve your kids in baking, I think the mat will come in really handy for those little hands to help with kneading or decorating cupcakes or cookies. In fact the play mat is washer, mircrowave and oven safe too.

I foresee using the play mat when Bella gets into crafting and putting together her own little necklaces and stuff but for now painting is going to be so much more fun! 

If you are keen to try out this product or other similar products in the Ezpz range, head over to Mumspick website https://www.mumspick.com/ to check it out.

JahBella’s readers are also entitled to a 15% discount on Ezpz products on the website (with no minimum order) from now till 6 February 2017. Just key in Jahbella during checkout for the discount. 🙂

Happy Shopping!

JahBella’s Mummy

Disclaimer: JahBella received 2 Ezpz Play Mats for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Cheung Chau with Kids – Hong Kong Oct 2016

With the typhoon just passing Hong Kong a day ago, I was closely monitoring the weather just to make sure that there was not going to be any residual rain that was going to spoil our plans for Cheung Chau. Being the avid TVB drama fan, I always wondered what it would be like in Cheung Chau, Lamma Island and the likes. So we decided to do something a little less city-ish and try out Cheung Chau with the kids.

We took an MTR from Jordan near our hotel and reached Central MTR in less than 15 minutes. From there, it was a short walk to the Central Ferry Pier where different lines/ routes departing from different pier numbers. We headed towards Pier 5 where the ferry would take us to Cheung Chau. We left our hotel at 745am and were at Central Pier 5 by 825am. In fact we made it just in time for the 830am ferry. Do check out the ferry schedule beforehand though because there are 2 types of ferry..the fast express one and the normal one which leaves at different time slots. We were initially targeting for the 9am Express ferry but figured the extra wait time at the ferry terminal versus the longer journey time on the 830am ferry would have us reaching Cheung Chau about the same time anyway and we preferred to be on the move. 


We quickly purchased our tickets and ran for our ferry just as the bells were ringing (haha a familiar sound that I often hear when watching my tvb dramas :p)

We got to Cheung Chau nice and early and most shops were either still closed or just opening up. I had planned for us to have some authentic hole in the wall dim sum breakfast so we headed in search of 漢軒茶樓 (located at 58 Hing Lung Back Street). It is located in the right side of the next alley which runs parallel to the Main Street. You have to know what you are looking for because the looks from the shop front will send any sanity loving parents of young children running in the opposite direction. :p It is a really small cramped shop with a stove full of dim sum basket at the front of the shop and tables cramped up inside. The owner was very nice when I said I needed four seats and found us a table with empty seats immediately but of course we had to share it with a couple of uncles leisurely reading their newspaper and enjoying the morning tea. We were abit uncomfortable at first and were worried that we or the kids were disturbing them but they silently move the utensils and pots or cups around and it almost felt like a silent acceptance and their way of looking out for us. I was hungry and determined to have my breakfast there and I suppose a part of me stubbornly wanted my kids to get through this and be tossed out of their comfort zone if only for awhile. We ordered the food from the stove in the front and the aunties there were very nice to give us recommendation so we just ordered some stuff which tasted really good and was really good value too!


Now this may seem random but parents with potty trained kids would know why this is important..we were almost through our meal when Jah decided that this was a good time to need the loo. Nope not the kind of need where mummy equipped with a pee bag was ready for. Joel had this look of horror on his face! Where are we going to find a toilet on this island! Luckily I remembered seeing a toilet sign while we were searching for the restaurant and I immediately took off and started backtracking with Jah (wonders of a mother’s subconscious mind haha) Needless to say we found the toilet and Joel’s fears were unfounded because it was really really clean! 

For those with older kids, there are lots more to do on Cheung Chau like hiking and visiting the Po Chai Cave. However we didn’t think the kids would be able to handle a hike of that distance and then make their way back (which usually calls for an entire day trip). So we focused our time within the few alleys of the main street, basically in search of different types of snack and food. We had planned to visit a lot of shops but Joel would complain to you that he wasn’t expecting it to be an eating expedition and really wasn’t ready to stomach so much.

We tried Giant fishballs which were available at almost every corner. Kind of wished I had waited abit longer for the ones that sold the curry ones to open. We also stopped at a shop for shaved ice, mango mochi and fried chips with your choice seasoning. Although I have to say the chips were rather hard. But the kids were really happy so…:)

Joel needed his coffee fix and was surprised to find a little shop selling freshly brewed coffee.

I wanted to try some ping tang hu lu (candied haw) and put zai kou (red bean cup ‘jelly’..honestly I felt abit disappointed because the ping tang hu lu in this instance was really iced fruits and the put zai kou was kind of tasteless. Looks like I will have to head to Taiwan for the real ping tang hu lu?


After all that snacking, we decided to head for lunch (yes Joel was about to kill me ahha) but there was no way we could have done any hiking in those sunny humid conditions as you can see from my kids going on strike in one of the above photos. (Probably should have brought our carriers for this) 

We headed to New Baccarret (one of the many seafood restaurants) on the main thoroughfare. Most of them would come with standard sets that you could order or you could do it ala carte. I asked for an English menu and then started to wonder if there was a difference in pricing hmmm but I really was too tired and hot at that point to bother. We ordered fried rice, some prawns in garlic sauce and fried calamari. The prawns and the sauce was ohh so good! 



We made it in time for the 1pm ferry after that. Half glad to be making it back to city life and an afternoon nap but also half glad that we tried this. I would come back with the kids again especially when they are abit older and ready to do alittle more exploration of the island. But it was a good experience for what it’s worth 🙂


JahBella’s Mummy

Jah’s 5 year old eye review –  Lazy Eye and Tips on how to get your child to patch his eye

I didn’t intend to write this post at all. We did document Jah’s eye review in Feb 2015 (few months after he turned 3). But I was expecting this eye review to be rather routine. Although bad mummy didn’t realise that it had been almost 2 years since his last review sigh! 

Honestly I had intended to bring him in 2017 just prior to him going to Primary 1 to get him prescribed for a new pair of glasses. However we decided to bring him earlier after an eye checkup was conducted for the K1s and K2s in his school by the Health Promotion Board. So armed with a referral letter in hand which showed his vision was not ‘perfect’ even with his specs on, we headed to his opthamologist.

As usual, a series of tests was conducted first before we got to see the doctor (reading letters of varying sizes off the screen while each eye was covered, checking eye responses with a torch in a darkened room while he watched a show on tv and then putting on lens with increasing degree until he could read the ‘fine print’). It took us about 15 minutes or so but phew that he cooperated through most of it and only becoming abit restless towards the last few lines. 


When we finally saw the doctor, she told us that his astigmatism degree in each eye had gone up by about 25degrees each (so 250 in his right eye and 25 in his left). Not too bad I guess? She asked if we wanted to get new glasses made since he has been using the same one for the past 2 years and if we did then we would have to do the eye dilation so that she could pinpoint the exact degree with more accuracy and write him the prescription. However she mention that the dilation was likely to give a very similar reading since the increase was only 25 degrees in each eye. I was about to say sure let’s do it and get him his new glasses for the new school year when she had more news for me..

She reveals the dreaded info which we had kind of been hoping to avoid..”he has developed a lazy eye in the weaker eye so we will have to start patching his eye 2 hours every day.” 
So let’s backtrack a little here..Jah has had very high astigmatism in 1 eye which was detected when he was 3. The result of very high astisgmtism especially in 1 eye if left untreated (no glasses worn), is that he would develop a lazy eye in the weaker eye. This is because the brain would start to ignore the ‘signals’ from the weaker eye and form a preference for the stronger eye. This would eventually lead to a severe deterioration of the vision in the weaker eye. 

We had opted to make him wear his glasses since he was 3 despite him having to put up with kids who think the glasses are a plaything or hearing comments from kids and adults about it, to avoid the lazy eye.

But it looks like despite all that, the lazy eye has found us. 😦 That being said, his lazy eye seems to be at a very initial stage where hopefully early detection and intervention will see some progress or stop any deterioration. 

So yes back to present day where we would have to patch his left eye for 2 hours everyday for the next 4 months until our review with the dr again. We decided to push the dilation test to 4 months later and get his new glasses then. If we have learnt anything as a parents, it is dealing with one unknown at a time. So rather than throw him off with a dilation test today, we decided to focus on talking to him about the eye patching and why it needed to be done. Ok granted I added quite abit of fluff :p

So if you have a kid who needs to be convinced to patch his eye..here are some of our tips on how we tried to handle it..

1) We had a choice between regular plain patches and patterned ones (price diff $10 per box of 50). We chose the patterned ones to make it more fun and attractive. Then again once he saw the 2 options, there was really no turning back for us :p


2) We explained that we needed to train his other eye, help it gain strength like building his muscles in the gym so that he could battle and gain X-ray vision. Yes the whole works about there being hidden power in that eye that needs to be uncovered..this is more boy-centric but u could possibly try magic and fairy power of some sort with girls?

3) We explained the schedule to him of when and how long it needed to be done. We told him that we will only do it after school when we are at home. He will not wear it in school and he will only wear it out if he is comfortable. (In fact he asked to go buy food with us this evening, in his eye patch). He did ask why people were staring at him but I explained that some times people stare at things that they don’t understand and that if anyone asked him what happened to his eye, he can either tell them he is increasing its power or ask them to ask his mummy. But avoiding the patching at school, will help to prevent any teasing and help us to monitor his own reaction too. 

4) We spent the first 10-15 mins after patching his eye paying close attention to him as he might be disoriented from having one eye covered and only using his weaker eye. Try to spend as much of that 2 or 3 hours of eye patching time with him, doing activities together or just watching a show together. This will help him enjoy patching time more because he gets to spend time with you and again you get to monitor his reaction. Jah got abit agitated initially because he wasn’t used to the adhesive and it was making him itchy but spending time with him and addressing it, helped him to calm down. By the 1st hour, he was really happy to declare that “I’m feeling used to it now mummy.” Phew! 


5) If your kid has sensitive skin like Jah then apply some moisturiser to his face after removing the patch so avoid any rashes from flaring up.

Hopefully these tips will come in handy..:)

Super thankful for a good first day and for a awesome boy who cooperated in fact we did some painting in the 2nd hour and he wore the patch with no complaint for almost 3 hours. He even helped me to remove it while I ‘splashed’ it with water, to help it come off more easily.


Hoping the rest of the journey will be as easy too and that we make good progress with early intervention 🙂

JahBella’s Mummy