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

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

Hong Kong Oct 2016 – Victoria Peak, Madam Tussaud’s and a little transportation tip

We made our recent Hong Kong trip right on the tail of 2 typhoons in the region. In fact we nearly had to call off our trip due to that uncertainty. But I was pretty insistent on taking the trip and yes some would have called me mad, given that flights were cancelled the morning before our departure due to a Signal 8 raised in Hong Kong and we didn’t really know what kind of weather we were getting ourselves into once we got to Hong Kong. The upside, I became quite the typhoon tracker expert after this trip :p

In any case, the airport reopened and flights resumed and we got to our destination safely and landed in dry and sunny conditions! Phew!

We decided to stay at Nathan Hotel on Nathan Road this time around. Given that it was going to be a really short trip, we wanted somewhere very central for food as well as a short walking distance to an MTR (3 mins walk to Jordan MTR). 

We were fortunate than our room was ready for us at 11am despite check-in being only at 2pm. Apparently many guests checked out the night before or in the wee hours of the morning before our arrival because they were able to get on their newly timed flights. We comfortably settled lunch in the vicinity and then the kids got their much deserved nap time, after enduring a 3am wake up call from their parents. 


We were still pretty tired at about 5pm but we didn’t want to waste the night so we got everyone up and about and decided to head to Victoria Peak for dinner.


How difficult could that be right? We took a train from Jordan MTR to Central MTR (10-15mins ride?) and it was a relatively simple 10 mins walk from Central MTR to the Peak Lower Terminus where we would take the Peak Tram up. 

That is until we turned the corner and saw how long the queue to purchase a tram ticket was. I didn’t take a photo because I was absolutely shocked. I’m honestly not sure if this is the usual weekend crowd or it was a result of people being trapped indoors for the last 48 hours due to the typhoon. Well we had 2 options – turn around and run for the hills (no pun intended) or queue (it looked like a 2-3 hour queue at least). It was 6pm..kids were pumped up for a tram ride which we probably oversold to them and we were too hungry and still tired to recalibrate.

Luckily we saw a sign that said express tram ticket but it involved us purchasing a package that included a ticket to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Musuem. Well at that point, anything to beat the queue and get out of there so we paid 10x the price literally and were on our way.

Well almost, we had to queue another 30-45 mins or so to get on the tram because they were alternating entry between big groups and independent travellers. Well ok still on track for dinner at 7pm at least…


The kids were intrigued by the tram going uphill so steeply (like a rollercoaster they say) though I would say that a day time tram ride would probably have been better for them visually. But that’s a toss up between the visual impact of going uphill and seeing the lights and the skyline which pops out at you in the night.


We got to the peak station and managed to settle dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company before the crowd started thickening..honestly the food was rather disappointing and everything just well tasted fried..I mean I know it’s fried food but it was tasteless and just tasted like oil..really different from what we remembered from the US.

We were quite fortunate that we ended up buying the package because the kids were pretty keen to check out Madame Tussaud’s (who would have thought). We moved through the exhibits pretty quickly (spent about 30 mins or so?) but the kids were quite happy to pose for most (some) of the photos :p

We made the customary trip to the viewing area but ended up leaving within 5 minutes. The droves of tour groups up there, was pure madness! Guides were screaming and waving, and people were crowding walkways to pay, to get their photos taken. Not to mention that the vents from the restaurants seems to be spewing smoke out into that ‘confined’ space. Really a far cry from what I remembered it to be almost 15 years ago when we were up there for a school trip.

We finally made our way down to the peak station (our package came with a return ticket) at about 930pm. A sign told us that the wait time to get onto a tram to lower peak terminus was about 1 hour. We decided to forgo our ticket and walk over to the cab stand which also looked about an hour Long 😦 and didn’t seem to be moving at all. But we were kind of stranded at that point and had to just wait in line for a cab. 

So here’s a little tip 😉 while waiting for our cab queue to move, I started googling for a taxi app and found one that was in English! The app is called HK Taxi and it is a bright red app. You could indicate the extra tip you are willing to pay to entice a cab to take your booking. I eventually up my tip when no one was taking my booking after trying for 5 minutes and scored a cab rather quickly. The app is best used if you have a local phone number which we did because we got a local Sim for data and it came with some free call credits. The driver called us immediately to tell us that he was 5 minutes away, asked us to look out for his cab number and hop in because he was not allowed to stop in that area to wait. I spoke to the cab driver in Cantonese but I’m sure they would be able to cope with some English, given that they ask you what your preferred language is when making the booking. We managed to get out of the area by 10pm phew! and thank goodness the kids were all still in good spirits when we got back (especially because Jah caught his first Haunter Pokémon while we were driving down the peak) :p

What a wild 18 hours we’ve had so far! 

Stay tuned for more of our Hong Kong 2016 trip!

JahBella’s Mummy

Parents Need To Learn To Censor Themselves

It’s been awhile since I had last done one of our very over due holiday post and I was hoping to publish one this week but I’m afraid this rant has to take precedence.

This truly has been bugging me for some time and especially so in the last couple of weeks because we have had to deal with some nasty words that are being used at home. 

Yes the children have been repeating certain words or phrases which they have picked up from somewhere. Words that we don’t use at all at home, not even in one of our angry moments when words slip so we know they are not ‘acquiring’ these phrases from home. While we know they have expanded their (unsavoury) vocabulary in school, we have total confidence that it is not from their teachers especially since the kids are able to pinpoint the source when they are questioned after being reprimanded. Ok before u let your imagination run wild on what words are being said/ used/ heard, let me clarify that some examples are like words/ phrases such as stupid (used directly on a person), shut your mouth/ shut up, you have no brains is it and fat witch (used on a person of authority). Perhaps these words may seem mild to any normal person and I may look like I’m overreacting but when I try hard to censor myself, the words I expose my kids to and teach them to be respectful, it just kills me that it gets undone just like that. Just because another parent is free with words that he or she uses with/ on his or her child. That being said, I recognise that I have no right to judge or question how someone else is parenting their child so I can only choose to deal with it by reprimanding my child, explaining that these words are not acceptable even if their friend is saying it and hope that a parent’s influence is larger than peer influence. 

So then what am I ranting about? 

Yes I am ranting about how parents really really need to censor themselves, not in front of their own kids (honestly I can’t help if we differ in opinions on the type of language that should be used) but please censor yourself in front of or when speaking to other people’s kids. 

I honestly hope that fellow parents can have alittle more consideration and watch your language/ questions around other people’s kids. I think I have mentioned this before, I absolutely hate it when someone ask me or exclaims “oh why does he wear glasses” or “oh poor thing so young and he is wearing glasses”, right in front of my child. For your info, he is a living person and he can hear you. He also happens to have feelings, a sense of self worth and also understands English. 

I also take offence when you approach my child and ask him questions about his appearance/ skin condition/ size. Unless you are a family member or his teacher, you have no business asking if all you are trying to do is satisfy your own curiosity. Because whatever your intention, good or bad, the child will not be able to discern. All he understood from the question, is the fact that an adult asked me about my appearance therefore there must be something different or wrong about it. And the last thing I want for my child is self confidence issues just because you were curious. 

Just as no one (at least most people, safe for the ones with no EQ) would go up to another adult and ask why do you have pimples or why is your skin so oily or why are you so short? I think kids should be accorded with the same ‘respect’. Why should it be ok to flat out ask a kid such questions which serve no purpose to you anyway. Trust me I too am curious a lot but there is a line and some lines should not be crossed.

So yes bottom line, this is a rant and a reminder to myself and to other parents that kids are humans too, they have feelings, they are very aware and we as adults and as parents really need to learn to censor ourselves. Not just with adults because it is the politically right thing to do but also when speaking to or around a kid (because it is the decent thing to do) And to be absolutely blunt about it, if you can’t then I would rather you not speak to me or my child. 

JahBella’s Mummy