Thursday, February 28, 2013

Little Ski Bunnies

Along the upper village

Niseko was a gorgeous town to be in.

It was always an picturesque scene of glorious snow covered streets and ethereally blue skies.

Every morning when we wake up, it is like getting up to a perfect winter wonderland. The drive way to the apartment is always filled with inches of powder snow. It was fantastic.

We would always wake up and hastily cook some breakfast so that we can feed the tykes before they go off to ski school.

Fortunately, the ski store was still open when we arrived on Day 1 so we conveniently went in to do our fittings. Trying to get gear for three kids and two adults is no joke. I mean, even filling up the forms  took 15 minutes. Thankfully, the aussie peeps at Rhythm got it downpat. And they were absolutely great with kids. They made it so fun, that these kids wanted to hang in there after they got everything.

We booked them into ski school as soon as our trip was confirmed. Fortunately, we managed to get them enrolled in NISS, a school that is run by Aussies who are veterans in the Niseko slopes. The lessons were held at a different part of the mountain called Hanazono, a 15 minute bus ride away. All we had to do was to drop them off at the office near the Ace ski lift and they would be taken care of all the way.

They were very professional and made us feel secure leaving our kids with them. The children happily said their goodbyes every morning when we dropped them off so I guess it's a testimony to how safe they felt with the school. One morning, Kate was sick but she asked to continue her lessons. The lady at the counter was rather reluctant but the little one wouldn't have it any other way. So in the end, she took our numbers and told us that if all else fails, they would call for us over the PA system all around the mountain.

Who's ready for ski school??
Every morning, we made sure they were well rugged up before they left. We would walk them over and even though it was only 300m away, it seemed like it was a much longer walk when you are in ski boots. Fortunately they were in pretty good spirits. It helps that they were eager bunnies in wanting to attend their classes.

Going up the magic carpet
Kate and her friend Izzy. Two adorable little snow bunnies.
Little K was put into a class with another French boy called Izzy. Because they were so little, they pretty much had a private lesson. We had a glimpse of what she did and it was so so cute. By the end of Day 1, she was able to walk with her skis and was pretty confident going up the magic carpet and skiing down a small slope. The school has a creche inside the main building so they were brought in pretty often to keep warm.

Whilst the kids were learning to ski, D and I were hitting the slopes on our own too. Putting them in lessons meant that we didn't have to worry about their safety when we were skiing/snowboarding. And at the end of each day, we would pick them up from the school where they would regale us with stories from their day. It was always happy tales.

At the end of Day 4, we took them up the beginners slope to see what they have picked up and it's incredible how quickly they've each picked up skiing in just 3 lessons. Something that we adults took longer to learn. Definitely a good start to our winter adventures. We are definitely going back for another round this year. =)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Our Hang out

Over the CNY period, we were busy with house visitations and plenty of face stuffing. And yet we still found time to have friends coming over to our new pad for a bit of a hang out.

There is still plenty to do in this space of ours. I mean, we still haven't bought the floor lamp, the arm chairs, the coffee table has yet to arrive and we have so many things to hang on the wall!! (Ok... breathe)

I have to say I was slightly worried to receive guests cos it's still so incomplete. (sigh.. the older I get the more I ask for perfection!) But yet, thankfully, we went ahead because there is nothing like a warm toasty home with friends you love dearly around.

They didn't see the imperfections. In fact, everyone seemed to be having a rather good time eating up a storm, entertaining the kids and just chilling on the couch. What more can a host ask for?

And you know we had fun cause I forgot to take pictures. *smacks head* so here's one of the steamboat spread that we had!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Niseko - Powder Tracks


I don't even know how to begin this post. It's taken me a while to write this as I've lost the pictures when my phone was stolen. Sigh. Thankfully some of them were uploaded to Facebook. Anywayz... 

Back then when we were skiing/snowboarding in Melbourne, we've always heard about the wonderous powder snow that is at Niseko. Every person who has been there would always rave about the volume of powder in Japan. We were intrigued but before we had a chance to explore Japan, we were expecting and next thing we knew we had three kids. Ha!

Niseko turned out to be so much more than what we thought it would be. Other than the glorious cover of powder, the food there was outstanding. Not once did we have a bad meal there. Plus, it was a complete town so if you are not skiing, there are still plenty of activities to keep you occupied. We definitely had a fantastic time there.

But first up, let's start with the accommodation. Our trip started on the wrong foot because we missed our bus ride to the mountains. It was snowing that morning and we got the pick up point mixed up. Haiz. So the husband had to arrange for a private bus to get us to our destination. 

Two and a half hours later, we arrived at our apartment, Powder Tracks. I had booked a one bedder as the kids are still able to sleep on the couch. Hence, we could save some on the accommodation costs. It wasn't the biggest but it was ok for 5 of us to sleep in for a couple of nights.

I liked that it was clean and clearly very well looked after. A seven year old development that is being managed by Hokkaido Tracks. We were received by one of their staff who ran us through every detail of the apartment. It was very fuss free. I liked that it was very well thought of. There was a drying room for our gear,  and free washing machines and dryers for the guests usage. Brilliant!

Upon entry, the kids were very excited that it was a loft! Didn't take much to get them excited. =)

Here are some pictures of it! Next up, more snow!

Washing Room 

Drying Room

Mama, Dada and Kiddo Skis

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dong Chiang Dong Chiang

A belated Gong Xi Fa Cai, everyone.

We love this time of the year where mandarin oranges, loud ching chong music, samfus and cheongsams, as well as red packets are abundant. There is a usual routine that we follow. However, this year as it falls on a long weekend, it took a little twist.

We took a long drive (CNY EVE HAS THE WORST TRAFFIC) up to a kampung close to Melaka where the husband's paternal relatives still reside. It's an old wooden detached house that was very similar to one that I grew up in so it's great for the kids to still experience such an environment in this time and age. Once the reunion dinner was over, the kids got to play with fireworks. A definite favourite for them. There is always a huge box of different fire works for them to play with. It's such fun seeing them light it up and quickly scurrying away to see it blast off.

We stayed the night before heading back early the next day for our annual visitation. But not before the kids spend some time offering oranges and well wishes to their Daddy and in return they get an ang pow and warm greetings back. It was a small tradition that we started when they were little and it's nice to keep it going as they get older.

Right after, it was off to my aunt's for a feast of hainanese food. It's the one meal we look forward to every single year. We were famished by the time we got there so the food was extra tasty. Caught up with my siblings and cousins, whose company are the best thing since our childhood days.

A few hours on and we have to move on to another household. And it was more chit chatting whilst the kids were playing with their cousins. I love how we are all together a few times a year. Moments like these are fleeting these days with all of our busy schedules.

Hanging out with Lao Koh

We have more gatherings this weekend. Let the Lo Hei continue.

Friday, February 08, 2013

In No Hurry

It's the time of the year where we pull our socks up (both me and the son) and get really serious about practising. Yes it's exam season for my strings pulling son and somehow, by default, I get dragged into making sure that he is 1. doing it and 2. doing it right.

A year ago, I made a conscious decision for him to change his teachers. I deemed that learning music should be an enjoyable process and not like being in drill school. I opted for a young chap who's a music protege, with little teaching experience but with a mild and friendly disposition, that is able to engage my son's interest. In doing so, I can see that he's started to enjoy attending lessons and in turn, play the violin in a much more confident and precise manner. 

Teacher S recommended that he takes his second grading this March and so we have been going through the different aspects of the exams. The husband, without a music background, left it all to me to make sure K knew what he was doing. 

Overall he's been rather cooperative. You see, he has three songs that he needs to perform. Two of which he was good at but the last one, was the tricky one. He would always squirm out of it whenever I ask him to. 

Being constantly distracted by the other two kids, I normally just let it go but with the exam in a month, I knew I better sit down with him to work through it and thankfully I did. We sat and listened to the CD, looked at the score and slowly worked through the technicalities of the parts he was not familiar with. And after weeks and weeks of hmms and huhs... he got it. Within 30 minutes. 

Which kinda taught me a good lesson that sometimes I really need to slow down and spend quality time  with them one on one, instead of rushing through most things all the time. 

Lesson learnt. =)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Possibly the Best I Ever Have

I was busy prepping for the school run last Thusday when the husband rang and said with a cheeky tone, "Babe, what do you think about a weekend in Tokyo?"

Saying that my eyes almost popped whilst I tried to gather my composure was an understatement. Ever since our last trip in early January, he knew that I was craving to head back to explore the city. And that it would be a perfect couple getaway too as I knew my way around, as he had a work engagement to go to.

Next thing I knew, he got my passport details and booked us a flight the following night. Last minute babysitting was arranged (thank God for grandparents) and we were set for 2 days in Tokyo. A city that I really really love. (And just came back from!! Will post that up soon!)

The two days were perfect, albeit being a little tiring because of the night flights. The weather was beautiful. We could've walked around sans outerwear. We made new discoveries and also visited plenty of old favourites. The days were very full. (will go into details in another post)

I relished moments where I held onto the nook of his arm as we made our way through the streets. It was times like these that remind me how much this man means to me. How he speaks straight to my core and knows what I need even at times when I am not aware. And how he would indulge me in a short trip when he could've just saved the price of the air ticket. Just so that I can live out a little bit of my little fantasy.

Somewhere along the way, he asked, "Are you happy with your life now?" It was an umami moment where I went Ahh... I don't think I can ask for more.

After all, even with the years we've spent together,  we still like each other's company and we very much enjoy doing things together. We found a good rhythm individually and as a couple. The love at the beginning is of a different intensity now.

I like that we are done with the early child raising stage. And that our children know that it's important for mommy and daddy to have personal time to travel and go on date nights . Also, seeing the fruit bore from our years of parenting has made me a more settled person. I too acknowledge that he makes me feel very safe and secure. The trust I have in him transcends through everything he does.

Like the term, life partner, I have found one in him.

So yes... my darling, more weekend trips please. =) You know what they say, happy wife, happy life. *wink*
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