Thursday, September 20, 2018

Our 1000 Square Feet Home Sweet Home

It's been a while since I write anything here. I thought mom's life will become less busy once the kids are older turned out it's not true with homeschooling and chauffeuring the kids to their activities. I was cleaning the garage the other day and came across my journal reading the silly moments when the kids were under 5. It makes me want to write again so in the future I can go back and read.

This post has been in my draft folder for a long time. We moved to this small 1960 house more than 3 years ago. We love the open plan, the big backyard, and the fact that it is small and fit our budget.  We slowly renovating it a home that fits our need.

Living in a small space force us to be intentional of the stuffs we bring inside the house. We can't waste any space either. It has to be functional. When you first come in, you will see this space, where I spend time blogging, paying bill, or working on my tax.

The kitchen and living/ family room is where we spend the majority of our time. the kids still prefer to bring their toys out and play here. 
We (well... the contractor) teared down the wall to the kitchen so we have open layout.  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Japan Travel in one week itinerary and tips

Thanks to our family and friends who went before us and gave us many useful information so we managed to explore this beautiful county on our own. If you are thinking of visiting Japan for the first time below are the list of things to do and a few tips. Most of these information were given by my kind friends Rini and Yunita. Thank you!

3-6 months before:
  • List down the areas/ cities/ places you want to visit. Some people like temples, some like outdoors, shopping, eating, or amusement parks. The beauty of traveling on your own is you got to choose which places you want to go. If you are visiting for less than a week, focus on 1 or 2 cities. For first time visitor, my take would be visiting either Tokyo and Fuji mountain area such as Hakone or Lake Kawaguchiko or Osaka and Kyoto area. If you are visiting 7 to 8 days like us then you can visit all four of those cities.
  •  After deciding which places to go, book your accommodation as early as you can. Many hotels are fully booked months ahead of time especially during holidays or cherry blossom season. Some well known hotel chain with washer/ dryer like "Tokyu Stay" is fully booked 6 months prior. We use to book our accommodation but other travel sites such as or airbnb should work too.
  • If you want, you can book a free service travel guide in Japan through this website. We use this volunteer guide service on our one day in Tokyo.  As exchange of their service, the tourist usual pay for their transportation and meals. Our volunteer guide was very helpful and courteous. We won't be able to go to many places in one day without his help.

1-3 months ahead:
  • If you are planning to stay for a week and travel to different cities; it is worth it to buy JR Pass Rail than buying individual train ticket. You can buy it online or if there is a Japanese travel company in your city; you can buy JR Pass from them. When you purchase the JR Pass, make sure you use the same name on your passport. When you activate your JR Pass, the staff will match it with your passport so it is very important to have the exact same name. 
  • Rent wifi online. We use this website. We used google map to navigate our way in Japan. Our trip wouldn't be possible without wifi. You can also rent wifi at the airport but it will be more expensive. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Day trip to Hakone from Tokyo

A day after we got back from Kyoto, we decided to go for a day trip to Hakone. We use early morning bullet train to Odawara Station then bought "Hakone Free Pass", a discount pass that provides unlimited use of transportation: trains, boats, cable cars, and busses in Hakone area. 
 Trip to Hakone with kids
 A day trip to Hakone
 Hakone travel with kids
I love how the Japanese manage to plant greenery despite having limited outdoor space:
Japanese small front yard
First destination in Hakone:
1. Gora Park - free admission with Hakone Pass Gora Park in Hakone

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Kyoto Day 4: Kiyomizu-dera temple, Nishiki, then back to Tokyo

This was our last day in Kyoto. We could choose either spending the day here or leave early and spend the day at Tokyo. We decided to spend the day in Kyoto to visit UNESCO World Heritage site: Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
Travel Kiyomizu-dera temple

We knew the temple would be crowded with tourist so we arrived early to avoid the crowd. It was my birthday so I thought it would be fun to get a makeover.
Kyoto travel with kids kiyomizu dera
The before (above) and the after Ta Da.... I was the first customer at the kimono renting store nearby the temple. They told me if I didn't come that early they won't be able to accommodate me because they have a long list of reservation that day. So if you know ahead of time you want to rent kimono in Kyoto better make reservation first. Renting Kimono in JapanThey have professionals to help me putting on the kimono and styling my hair. Surprisingly, the kimono was comfortable. The sandals made of memory foam not wood so it's easy to walk on.
 Travel kyoto with kids
Stunning historic site with impressive architecture details

Monday, November 13, 2017

Kyoto day 3: Kyoto Aquarium, Railway Museum, Nishiki Market

According to the weather forecast; it's going to be rain the whole day that day so we reserve that day to visit Kyoto Aquarium. Originally, we were going to the famous Osaka Aquarium but going there would take us at least two hours while this one only 10 minutes from our hotel by foot.
 Kyoto travel with kids Kyoto Aquarium

Travel Kyoto Aquarium
Group of Japanese school children on field trip. Aren't those yellow bags lovely?
 Japanese school kids
 Dolphin show at Kyoto Aquarium

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five Things to Eat at Dotonbori, Osaka

 Food to eat in Osaka
We won't be going to Osaka if not because of our friends who persistently told us to visit Dotonbori. "Really? Is it a must?"I asked; "Yes, she replied." So off we went by train. After all, we had JR Pass  and it's only about one hour away from our hotel in Kyoto 
 What food to eat in Osaka
 Found this cute car at the train station. I wouldn't mind trading my minivan for this.
 Where to eat in Dotonbori, Osaka
 Found a temple nearby Dotonbori

Temple at Dotonbori
 Our guide for the evening armed with google map: touring Japan with google map
 After about 10 minutes walk from the station

Friday, October 27, 2017

Kyoto Day 2: Fushimi Inari and Osaka

We don't have time to visit every single landmarks in Kyoto so we asked around and read online reviews and chose the places we ought to go and Fushimi Inari made the cut.  Kyoto Travel with kids: Fushimi Inari 
Kyoto Travel with kids Fushimi Inari
I read somewhere if we arrive early, we can avoid tourist groups who usually come around 9 or 10 AM Kyoto travel with kids: Fushimi Inari
We then hike way up  to avoid the crowd.
Kyoto must go to place: Fushimi Inari
We were surprised to see bamboo forest on the top of the hill. If we've known this earlier we won't go to the crowded Arashimaya Bamboo Forest.
 Hiking at Fushimi Inari

The road less traveled

Friday, October 6, 2017

Math Story Problems for third grader - Part 1

 Math Story Problem for third grader
I notice that my 3rd grader needs more practice to solve math story problems so I made some extra problems for him to do each day. You can download the printable or PDF version here

3rd grade Math Story Problem
Unit measurement: Dozen 

1. Beth bought 1 dozen eggs. She used 5 eggs to make breakfast for her family. How many eggs were left? 

2. 1 dozen egg cost $5. Mommy bought 2 dozen eggs. How much money does she has to pay?

3. Wesley bought ½ dozen pens. A dozen pens cost $10. How much money does he has to pay? 

4. Max has $40. He wanted to buy a dozen fishes. Each fish cost $3. Does he has enough money? 

5. Papa bought 1 dozen eggs. He used 4 eggs to make breakfast and 2 eggs to make dinner. How many eggs left? 

6. 1 dozen egg cost $6. Mommy bought 5 dozen eggs. How much money does she has to pay? 

7. Mrs. Allen had 2 pans that each held a half dozen muffins. How many muffin she could bake a one time? 

8. Max has $40. A dozen card cost $18. Does he has enough money 2 dozen of Pokemon cards? 

Unit measurement: Pint, cup, and gallon 
1. Andrew wanted to make bread. He had 1 pint of milk. The recipe called for 2 cups of milk. Did he have enough milk? 

2. Mama need 2 pints of milk to make pudding. How many cups of milk did she use to make the pudding? 

3. We need to buy a gallon of milk. The stores only sells milk in a quart box. How many boxes do we need to buy? 

4. To make macaroni, we need ½ gallon of milk. How many cups of milk is that? 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Kyoto Day 1: Arashimaya Bamboo Forest, Iwatamaya Monkey Park, Gion

We wake up very early in the morning after touring Tokyo the day before to take Shinkansen/ bullet train to Kyoto at 6 A.M.
 Kyoto Travel with Kids
Inside the bullet train: we only took two carry on luggage with us and left one luggage at our hotel in Tokyo, where we gonna stay two more nights after our Kyoto trip. The perk of traveling by ourselves is the flexibility of choosing where and when to go instead of depending on the tour/ other people schedule.
 Inside the bullet train

They allow children under 6 years old to travel for free so we only bought 3 tickets. If the train is not full we can sit at any empty seat. We bought sushi breakfast at the train station before hoping in the train.
 Travelling to Japan with kids in bullet train
Once we got to Kyoto Station, we bought the daily bus pass and went straight to our hotel. We chose this hotel because of its strategic location (close to Kyoto Station), new, clean, and has washer and dryer. The only con is it doesn't have onsen. I was told however, there are onsen places that we can go nearby the hotel.
Kyoto Travel with kids apartment hotel
After dropping off our luggages, we went straight to the West part of Kyoto, which takes about 1 hour by bus. Didi was so happy having to seat behind the driver.
 Kyoto travel with kids by bus

Not long after I took this shot the bus driver was pointing a sign to us . Turn out we are not allowed to take picture inside the bus to avoid distracting the driver and other passengers. Oops sorry. First stop: Arashimaya Bamboo Forest 
 Kyoto travel: Arashimaya Bamboo Forest

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Faithful to the end: Kara Tippetts, Joey Feek, Nabeel Qureshi, Emily Choi, and Ava Lee

Cancer has affected so many people. According to statistic, about 40% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes.  I know many people who are affected by this horrible disease.

Thanks to the internet, we got to know some of godly and courageous men, women, and children who battled cancer and though they lost the fight, they show the rest of us how to fight, rejoice, and stay faithful to the end. I pray that when our time come, we will still sing Him praise to the very end.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Joey and Roey's: This Life I Live

Nabeel Qureshi's vlog

Kara Tippetts' blog: Mundane Faithfulness

Emily Taylor Choy

Ava Lee 

and of course our very own, Brian Tan