日本

Lydia & I have many things in common. Some of the similarities we share include a love for food, and our desire to travel to Japan. A few months back, we managed to tick that off our bucket list! There’s so much to love about Japan – some which have to be experienced first hand, and others that can be described with words & pictures. Here’s my attempt at the latter…

As briefly mentioned earlier, we love food. Japanese food? All the more! Whether it’s the food you get at the convenience store, street food, bar food, or sit-down restaurant food – it was mostly (if not all) unique, well presented and most importantly delicious! Admittedly, our trip was planned mainly around what we wanted to eat, and we were not disappointed! We spent most of our time in Osaka, and despite having quite an elaborate plan – did not manage to sample everything that we had set out to try. Some of our “hits” were ‘okonomiyaki’, ‘takoyaki’, ‘taiyaki’, ‘Matsusaka’ (a type of Wagyu) beef, ‘gyoza’, and of course – (nigiri) ‘sushi’.

And then there are the buildings/architecture and greenery – all of which reflect the Japanese way of life. We experienced all of these in the highly cultural Kyoto, which is just a train ride away from Osaka. We stayed in a ryokan (minus the hot bath), strolled on cobbled streets, and explored beautiful temple gardens.

One very fortunate experience we had (which deserves special mention) was to chance upon geishas!

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All in all, it was a great trip for both Lydia and I. We’re hoping to go to Japan again in not-too-distant future, this time with our two boys in tow. For now, we’ll just have to make do with looking at the photos and videos we’ve taken over the course of our trip there. Sayonara!

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Family Time

One of the difficult things about having migrated to Australia is that our family members are all back in Malaysia. We’ve been very blessed that we’ve been able to travel back at least once a year since moving here some 5 years ago. We’ve also had the privilege of having all of our immediate family members visit us – the most recent (March), being Lydia’s brother’s family.

It was great being able to host them – this being their first time in Australia (exception being Lydia’s brother, who has been here before), not to mention our niece and 2 nephews’ first time flying!

Over the course of their stay, we ate everything from burgers, hot dogs to fish & chips, went fruit picking, had fun at playgrounds and play centres (the kids, obviously), went to the museum and to the zoo! Zac had lots of fun spending one full week with his cousins Rachel, Daryl & Caleb – something he doesn’t get to do too often.

2 months later, we were back in Malaysia – where Zac and Toby got to spend quite a fair bit of quality time with another cousin of theirs, Kayla. The last time we were back in Malaysia, Kayla was too young to interact with Zac and Toby. Not this time though – with the cousins playing very well with each other.

This was also the first time that my parents had full care of our 2 sons over the course of a week! I think they did splendidly well. Zac and Toby definitely enjoyed their stay with them, and I’m sure the feeling is mutual. And where were Lydia and I? Find out, in one of our next posts…

2017

Just in the blink of an eye, it’s 2017 (and almost a year since our last blog post). One of the changes we’ve had to deal with this year is not having our parents around to help us with our 2 boys, as they did for most of 2016.

We prepared ourselves, and for most parts, we coped. But every day was just this routine of getting things done, with little respite. Caring for the boys, while juggling all our other responsibilities was definitely challenging. It wasn’t long before we knew that something had to change.

Long story short, we made some changes – expectations, responsibilities, commitments – and we’re much happier now. One of the things we told ourselves we needed to keep doing, was to spend quality time together as a family, as well as hang out with people in the same phase of life i.e. families with young children.

Here are some photos from a recent beach outing with some family friends. It was a great time for the kids (as can be seen in the photos), as well as adults. A good reminder that there is so much more to life than what we see through our natural eyes. So, here’s looking forward to the remainder of 2017!

Brotherhood

Being the eldest, and only son in my family – I guess I can’t say I know what it is like to have a brother.

Ever since Tobias came into our world we (have been really busy – hence the long hiatus from blogging, and) have had given the privilege of seeing a precious bond develop between Zachary and Tobias. Sure, there are times when we have to stop Zac from squeezing Toby too hard, or putting his weight on him; but generally the brothers get along very very well.

Here are but a few snapshots of them interacting

Journeying Together

5 years on, and we’re still at it
Not a destination, more a journey.
Some days are easier than others
But everyday, we conciously decide to stick together.

We’ve come a long way, with more ground to cover
But one thing I can tell you for sure, my dear.
I’m looking forward to every moment of it
Not just the destination, but the journey we’re on.

Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary, dear!

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Spring-ing into action!

Spring is here! And with that – warmer days, and more outings for the family. With baby #2 on the way, we’ve also made a conscious effort to do more with Zachary, before he has to start sharing the love with his sibling.

First up – our first train ride together as a family on Puffing Billy. Zachary is very much into trains at the moment, so we expected him to be really excited to see a real life steam engine. To our surprise, he didn’t even want to be near the steam engine! Fortunately, he did enjoy the train ride. For anyone planning to take their 2 year old on Puffing Billy – my recommendation is to wait till they’re at least three or four, for them to fully enjoy and appreciate the experience.

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We also took the opportunity to take Zachary on more bike rides. He’s quite adept with his balance bike now – able to confidently go short distances with both legs off the ground, especially when going down slopes.

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Lastly, was the sun, the sand, and the sea! The last time we went to the beach (summer of 2014), Zachary did not even want to set foot on sand. This time around, he was more than happy to, and in fact, was reluctant to leave even after spending close to an hour there.

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It is rewarding watching Zachary grow, and so much fun interacting with him at this age. While Lydia and I look forward to the many things he’ll learn to do, we’re reminded to enjoy every bit of him, now.

Two

Zachary turned 2 last month! We had a low-key celebration, compared with his first – which was back in Malaysia, and with all our immediate family members.

We started off in the morning with a breakfast treat, and soon after proceeded to open his cards and presents throughout the day.

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A stack of pancakes heaped with strawberries and bananas – both of which are Zachary’s favourites

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A special birthday card from “Gong-gong” & “Po-Po” – which doubles up as a sticker activity book

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“Piggy” the hand puppet, from Mummy and Daddy

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Wooden railway set from “Pa-Pa” & “Ma-Ma”

In the evening, we had Zachary’s godparents Ben & Jerica over for dinner and cake.

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Cake from Little Madame’s Gateau

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With mummy. Probably the best birthday photo we have of Zachary with a birthday cake… somehow, he doesn’t like the attention showered on him at birthdays

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Opening the present given to him by his godparents

All in all – I’m pretty sure that Zachary had a ball of a time on his birthday!

And oh, Zachary’s 2nd birthday is not the only “2” we’re celebrating… We’re expecting baby #2 towards the end of this year! 🙂

Autumn Outing

It’s been ages since Lydia & I went for a hike/bushwalk (Grampians – Dec 2013), and even longer since I last blogged about one (Falcon’s Lookout,  Werribee Gorge State Park – Nov 2012). Hiking/Bushwalking was something that we used to do at regular intervals when we first moved to Australia, but rarely even thought about after having Zachary – for obvious reasons. Seeing that Zachary is now quite a good walker, we took up his godparents’ offer to go for a simple bushwalk somewhere in the Dandenong Ranges on Labour Day.

After brunch at Shannon Bennett’s Piggery Cafe, we headed to our destination of the day – RJ Hamer Arboretum. Knowing that we (Lydia & I) weren’t all that fit, we were careful to choose a trail that (we thought) wouldn’t be too challenging. This was of course bearing in mind that we would have to carry Zachary for parts of the walk. We ended up covering more than 3kms in about an hour and half, which included quite a fair bit of uphill climbs. In short, we didn’t just survive the walk – we enjoyed it! Best of all, it was great seeing that Zachary enjoyed the great outdoors just like the rest of us. Of the 3kms we walked, Zachary probably covered 500 metres (with the remaining 2.5kms being carried by yours truly).  Not a bad feat I reckon!

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Here’s a photo of all of us at the at the end of the walk, just before we headed off to Cafe de Beaumarchais for our afternoon tea (don’t ask if we effectively gained or burned calories today…). Hopefully it won’t be too long before our next bushwalk! Till then…

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Chinese New Year 2015

Today is the last day of Chinese New Year. This year was special, as we were able to make it back to Malaysia to celebrate with family. It was really great, especially for Zachary – as the nearest thing he had experienced prior to this, with regards to Chinese New Year festivity was Crown’s annual Chinese New Year Festival.

Due to a combination of a lack of leave and an abundance of work, I was only able to spend 5 days in Malaysia. Lydia and Zachary were more fortunate to have spent 10 days there. It was pretty hectic for us, having to travel to various locations to visit relatives. Fortunately for us, Zachary was pretty well behaved. Needless to say, Zachary was very much the focus of many of the people we visited.

One of the highlights for Zachary, was being able to meet and play with his cousins. On previous trips, he was too young to interact with them. This time around, they happily played with each other.

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It’ll be a while before Zachary gets to see most of his extended family again, and I’m sure he’ll be missing them as much as they miss him.

Last but not least, here’s a candid photo of the 3 of us. Have a blessed new year ahead!

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