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As much as I love April since it is the month I was born and wedded, I have to say that this past month has been a trying one for me.

It was one that saw me in tears, saw me frustrated, saw me lose my cool, saw me blow my top, saw me become someone I didn't want to be and saw me at my worst. I can blame many things for all of this you know, let's see, I was a full-time solo parent to three kids on most weekdays, I had to be a naggy mum with exams around the corner, I wanted to keep up with our no-tuition lifestyle, I rushed between schools to do parent volunteer work, I took on a freelance writing job, I had to go to the hospital to do a swab because of a fungal infection and I only did that after bearing the pain for weeks, only to realise that it wasn't going to go away on its own and I had to do something about it.

Yup, as usual, I try to bite off more than I can chew and I always have that positive thinking that "I can do it". But in truth, can I, really? I mean, I am still a human with only two arms and legs and even if I have the passion and heart to do something that I love, perhaps there's a limit to how much I can take up and if the kids are still going to be my priority in life, then something's gotta give. You can't have the best of everything, can you?

In April's "Happiness is...", it's about knowing and accepting that while I may never be perfect in what I do, especially in being a mum, it's enough just doing my best.




We made our way to Sakura Hatsuri at Gardens by the Bay on the last night of the event. Yup, it was nice to talk a walk at night where it wasn't so crowded and we brought my in-laws here too for them to experience the romantic blossoms after having a hearty family dinner at Satay by the Bay.

I keep reminding myself that it's good to take a breather outside when things get heated up at home. For instance, when the kids quarrel, when we start to have arguments, when one party starts to storm off in anger, when we fail to resolve things amiably without having to raise our voices, that is when I think it's actually better if I take all the kids out so that we can take a break as we scoot, stroll, eat, play, run around and just let the outside world broaden our perspective and cool us down.



To be honest, I think that it's easier bringing the kids out for a meal rather than having to buy groceries, cook and wash up at home. It takes a lot of effort on my part and the process of preparing and cooking is so much longer than the time it takes for us to gobble everything down. We have so many kopitiams, food courts and shopping malls near us so why do I still bother to cook for them when I can better use the time to help them with revision, play with them or just rest more?

Well, I guess I just want them to remember the love contained in all these simple, homecooked dishes when they grow up. Of course, I also wish for them to eat healthier food but I think the main reason still boils down to love. Even though I keep cooking the same dishes over and over again, I can see how much they still enjoy the food and are always so sweet to give me their thumbs up and say "Thank you, Mama, for cooking for us" before they start eating. So even though I might not be a domestic goddess or a great chef, and I don't have the heart to hunt and try out new recipes, I guess my best is enough for all of us for now.



We made it to the preview of Jewel Changi Airport! Yup, the kids and I were lucky to get tickets at the last minute and we changed all our plans just so we could make it here. Like I said, it's nice to get out of the house with the kids and to be able to explore a new place together, that's even better. We didn't check out the retail part of the mall at all but instead spent our entire afternoon picnicking at the Canopy Garden, admiring the Rain Vortex and checking out the beautiful Topiary Walk.




We fell in love with the garden paradise in Jewel and will definitely be back again to explore more - probably when the crowd dies down a little. It's like our airport keeps getting better and better along the years and no matter how good it is, there is still always room for improvement. As time and technology evolve, changes have to take place too.

It reminds me that as a mum and as a person, I can always strive to be better too and learn from past mistakes. As the kids grow up and as we move on to different phases of life, my parenting style has to adapt accordingly too and I can't think that there is a one-size-fits-all method here. Every child is unique and every phase that they are in also presents with itself a different set of challenges - all I can do is try my best to understand, to listen, to show empathy and to be not just their mum but their best friend too. It's what my hubby reminded me one day, that our kids will be our soulmates next time and I think I would really, really love that.


The boy has started his art lessons at heART Studio and even though he still likes me to accompany him on some days, he has also shown signs of independence on others and told me that it's okay if I take my leave and just observe him from outside. Awww, my koala will soon be a koala no more and when the time comes, he will be the one smiling while I might just shed some tears secretly.



For the first time, we had the chance to visit Google's office and it was an awesome experience for all of us as the kids were taught about internet safety. Even though my kids do not have their own mobile phones or tablets yet, I know it is inevitable and it's only a matter of time before we have to deal with this issue. This was a good start for us and I learnt so many precious tips from the parents' workshop too. It's gonna be a tricky issue for many of us parents once our kids start to be technology savvy and risk getting addicted or putting themselves at risk online but it's something we just need to learn along the way and try our best to tackle. Let's all learn together, shall we?


So we also celebrated my birthday last month and I've dedicated my last post to it. I hope it is true that with age comes wisdom and I think it's good to remind myself that it's okay to fail once in a while but the important thing is to pick myself up and fight harder, stronger and better. My kids deserve my best and even if I doubt it on some days, my best is more than enough for them already. Don't be such a perfectionist in life, yeah?


One of the biggest highlights of April has to be the launch of my writing column in Lianhe Zaobao and while I'm not sure where this road will lead me eventually, I'm just thankful to get a chance to make my dreams come true. Stay tuned for my sharing on every third Monday of the month, okay?


I don't really get to see this man much on weekdays due to the nature of his work but when I do, I cherish it a lot even if I don't say so. We had a rare hour off when the kids were in art lesson and went on a date at Sakae Sushi to eat his favourite chawanmushi. After that, we also queued up to get my favourite bubble tea too. Hee. Fair fair mah. Let's see if we can make time for more couple dates!


Despite my hopes, frequent nagging and good genes, the big girl ended up doing not so well at her eye screening test and a visit to the optometrist confirmed that she is now myopic. Oh well, I guess it just needs a little time for us to get used to and I have to say that she does look pretty decent in the purple specs that she chose for herself. I don't want to keep saying the words "I told you so" or keep hoping that it didn't happen because the fact is that it did. As her mum, even though short-sightedness and having to wear specs is something really foreign to me in my 36 years of life, I am going to do my best to support her in this journey and we will take things slowly as time - and her degree - progresses.


For the first time, she also attended a 3D2N camping trip and it just felt so weird having just two kids around me. Yup, something was missing when she was not around and I felt the longing for her. Even though we got into bickers and lots of backtalking soon after she was back, it's still nice knowing that the family was reunited and all the kids were together again. That's the thing about family, right? You have your good and bad moments, you go through ups and downs, you love and you fight, you give and you snatch, you dote and you scream at each other, but no matter what, you will always be there for each other. Always.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how to parent an adolescent and I find it the hardest of all, given our strong wills and stubborn streaks that run in the family. But I know that step by step, we will get there and as long as we all keep trying our best and never stop loving each other, we will be fine. Till more updates next month! I can't wait for the June holidays to be here so that we can play more, laugh more and relax more. How about you?
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As much as I love April since it is the month I was born and wedded, I have to say that this past month has been a trying one for me.

It was one that saw me in tears, saw me frustrated, saw me lose my cool, saw me blow my top, saw me become someone I didn't want to be and saw me at my worst. I can blame many things for all of this you know, let's see, I was a full-time solo parent to three kids on most weekdays, I had to be a naggy mum with exams around the corner, I wanted to keep up with our no-tuition lifestyle, I rushed between schools to do parent volunteer work, I took on a freelance writing job, I had to go to the hospital to do a swab because of a fungal infection and I only did that after bearing the pain for weeks, only to realise that it wasn't going to go away on its own and I had to do something about it.

Yup, as usual, I try to bite off more than I can chew and I always have that positive thinking that "I can do it". But in truth, can I, really? I mean, I am still a human with only two arms and legs and even if I have the passion and heart to do something that I love, perhaps there's a limit to how much I can take up and if the kids are still going to be my priority in life, then something's gotta give. You can't have the best of everything, can you?

In April's "Happiness is...", it's about knowing and accepting that while I may never be perfect in what I do, especially in being a mum, it's enough just doing my best.




We made our way to Sakura Hatsuri at Gardens by the Bay on the last night of the event. Yup, it was nice to talk a walk at night where it wasn't so crowded and we brought my in-laws here too for them to experience the romantic blossoms after having a hearty family dinner at Satay by the Bay.

I keep reminding myself that it's good to take a breather outside when things get heated up at home. For instance, when the kids quarrel, when we start to have arguments, when one party starts to storm off in anger, when we fail to resolve things amiably without having to raise our voices, that is when I think it's actually better if I take all the kids out so that we can take a break as we scoot, stroll, eat, play, run around and just let the outside world broaden our perspective and cool us down.



To be honest, I think that it's easier bringing the kids out for a meal rather than having to buy groceries, cook and wash up at home. It takes a lot of effort on my part and the process of preparing and cooking is so much longer than the time it takes for us to gobble everything down. We have so many kopitiams, food courts and shopping malls near us so why do I still bother to cook for them when I can better use the time to help them with revision, play with them or just rest more?

Well, I guess I just want them to remember the love contained in all these simple, homecooked dishes when they grow up. Of course, I also wish for them to eat healthier food but I think the main reason still boils down to love. Even though I keep cooking the same dishes over and over again, I can see how much they still enjoy the food and are always so sweet to give me their thumbs up and say "Thank you, Mama, for cooking for us" before they start eating. So even though I might not be a domestic goddess or a great chef, and I don't have the heart to hunt and try out new recipes, I guess my best is enough for all of us for now.


We made it to the preview of Jewel Changi Airport! Yup, the kids and I were lucky to get tickets at the last minute and we changed all our plans just so we could make it here. Like I said, it's nice to get out of the house with the kids and to be able to explore a new place together, that's even better. We didn't check out the retail part of the mall at all but instead spent our entire afternoon picnicking at the Canopy Garden, admiring the Rain Vortex and checking out the beautiful Topiary Walk.



We fell in love with the garden paradise in Jewel and will definitely be back again to explore more - probably when the crowd dies down a little. It's like our airport keeps getting better and better along the years, that no matter how good it is, there is still always room for improvement and as time and technology evolve, changes have to take place.

It reminds me that as a mum and as a person, I can always strive to be better too and learn from past mistakes. As the kids grow up and as we move on to different phases of life, my parenting style has to adapt accordingly too and I can't think that there is a one-size-fits-all method here. Every child is unique and every phase that they are in also presents with itself a different set of challenges - all I can do is try my best to understand, to listen, to show empathy and to be not just their mum but their best friend too. It's what my hubby reminded me one day, that our kids will be our soulmates next time and I think I would really, really love that.


The boy has started his art lessons at heART Studio and even though he still likes me to accompany him on some days, he has also shown signs of independence on others and told me that it's okay if I take my leave and just observe him from outside. Awww, my koala will soon be a koala no more and when the time comes, he will be the one smiling while I might just shed some tears secretly.


For the first time, we had the chance to visit Google's office and it was an awesome experience for all of us as the kids were taught about internet safety. Even though my kids do not have their own mobile phones or tablets yet, I know it is inevitable and it's only a matter of time before we have to deal with this issue. This was a good start for us and I learnt so many precious tips from the parents' workshop too. It's gonna be a tricky issue for many of us parents once our kids start to be technology savvy and risk getting addicted or putting themselves at risk online but it's something we just need to learn along the way and try our best to tackle. Let's all learn together, shall we?

So we also celebrated my birthday last month and I've dedicated my last post to it. I hope it is true that with age comes wisdom and I think it's good to remind myself that it's okay to fail once in a while but the important is to pick myself up and fight harder, stronger and better. My kids deserve my best and even if I doubt it on some days, my best is more than enough for them already. Don't be such a perfectionist in life, yeah?


One of the biggest highlights of April has to be the launch of my writing column in Lianhe Zaobao and while I'm not sure where this road will lead me eventually, I'm just thankful to get a chance to make my dreams come true. Stay tuned for my sharing on every third Monday of the month, okay?


I don't really get to see this man much on weekdays due to the nature of his work but when I do, I cherish it a lot even if I don't say so. We had a rare hour off when the kids were in art lesson and went on a date at Sakae Sushi to eat his favourite chawanmushi. After that, we also queued up to get my favourite bubble tea too. Hee. Fair fair mah. Let's see if we can make time for more couple dates!


Despite my hopes, frequent nagging and good genes, the big girl ended up doing not so well at her eye screening test and a visit to the optometrist confirmed that she is now myopic. Oh well, I guess it just needs a little time for us to get used to and I have to say that she does look pretty decent in the purple specs that she chose for herself. I don't want to keep saying the words "I told you so" or keep hoping that it didn't happen because the fact is that it did. As her mum, even though short-sightedness and having to wear specs is something really foreign to me in my 36 years of life, I am going to support her in this journey and we will take things slowly as time - and her degree - progresses.


For the first time, she also attended a 3D2N camping trip and it just felt so weird having just two kids around me. Yup, something was missing when she was not around and I felt the longing for her. Even though we got into bickers soon after she was back, it's still nice knowing that the family was reunited and all the kids were together again. That's the thing about family, right? You have your good and bad moments, you go through ups and downs, you love and you fight, you give and you snatch, you dote and you scream at each other, but no matter what, you will always be there for each other. Always.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around how to parent an adolescent and I find it the hardest of all, given our strong wills and stubborn streaks that run in the family. But I know that step by step, we will get there and as long as we all keep trying our best and never stop loving each other, we will be fine.
Till more updates soon!
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It's funny, didn't I just write a post on turning thirty five and yet in the blink of an eye, another year has passed? It kind of scares me to think about how fast time passes and makes me wonder if I'm doing my best to make good use of each day that I have.

Does losing my cool, raising my voice and getting into heated arguments with the kids mean that I'm wasting and not making use of my days? Well, I hope not because I have a feeling that is something that will stay and will continue to happen, no matter how much I dread it. The kids will always find a way to push my buttons, test my boundaries and stretch my limits, and having three of them versus one of me on most days means that I will need to learn to handle it on a constant basis.

Not easy. Not easy at all.

I've been doing a lot of reflection this month because there were days when I felt like a failure and despite being nine years into this motherhood journey, I don't seem to understand how to be a good mum on some days. I said and did things which I regretted and the sense of guilt inevitably crept in. The good thing is the kids still seem to love me to the moon and back no matter what I do and the way they tend to forget and forgive is what every adult needs to learn to do.

So, as I turn another year older but not necessarily wiser, I'm hoping to be able to steer myself into the right direction and be able to find my bearings once again. Even though I might still get lost on some days, I hope I will always be able to return to the place that I wish to be in - to be a good mum, a good wife, a good daughter and a good friend.


For this year's birthday, I received these cards and paintings from the kids and hubby which really brought a smile on my face. Okay, I might have taken out the water colours and asked if anyone would like to paint something for me, but oh well, it's a way of loving myself and making me feel special, right? Haha. The big girl, as usual, had made her own card for me and in it wrote the words "You're the best Mama in the world. There is no other mum that I could wish for" which melted my heart instantly because for all the bad moments we've had, this girl adores me and I love her more than I can say too.

Oh, I also asked the girls to each design a round piece of shrinky dink and guess what I did with them? I punched holes and turned them into one-of-a-kind earrings for myself. Woohoo! Love them!

We also went to Swensen's to have a nice family meal and the hubby wanted to get me a small brownie for a simple cake-cutting ceremony but I settled on a sweet chocolate treat instead. It felt so good just to be surrounded by these people who love me unconditionally and whom I love with all my heart too.

For the first time in a long time, I also celebrated my special day with two of my jie meis and they treated me to a yummy seafood dinner in Melben. Yumz! This was followed by a rare KTV session with two friends, sans kids, and wow I don't even remember when was the last time I sang for three hours straight without the kids. What a treat!

I never thought that blogging would lead me to finding true friends - not when I am already this old - but these two fellow mums have been nothing but blessings to me in every way. We confide in each other, we celebrate each other, we meet up for our kids to play and for us to stay sane, we support each other and I'm just so, so thankful that this road led me to these like-minded mums who I treat more like sisters since a couple of years ago. If you have not, please hop over to A Million Little Echoes and Life's Tiny Miracles and show your support for May and Angie who blog from the heart and are inspiring mums I look up to.

My parents always help me to celebrate my special day year after year and this year, I suggested to take them and my in-laws out for a simple zi char dinner. BUT, my hubby suggested that we hold a gathering in the comfort of our home instead so that the more people could come, the kids could swim, the adults could chill and everyone could enjoy his perfectly cooked BBQ food. Yup, he's an expert at it and he always goes to the expense of buying live seafood from Sheng Shiong, marinating everything on his own, this time he even prepared steamboat and cooked a big pot of soup, plus he also didn't forget to get a cake too. Awww, no wonder I love this man so much. The best thing about my birthday night was that my 85-year-old grandma came over to join in the party too and we had a few rounds of drinks together! Yup, she doesn't remember who we are, says the funniest things yet holds her liquor well, and I was just so happy to see her happy that night.


I think the best thing I received for this year's birthday was the chance to make my dreams come true when I was given the opportunity to write my own column in Lianhe Zaobao. Yup, you can read my first post here. It's something that I don't take for granted but instead cherish very much because it's what I have been hoping to do since I was a kid, like a passion that has long been neglected but has just been rekindled. Sure, it might just be a monthly column - which is also the most I can commit to considering how the kids keep me on my toes 24/7 - but I am definitely looking forward to putting my heart and soul into it and sharing heartfelt parenting experiences with all of you out there.

I guess that's all for turning thirty six for now. May this year bring me strength and knowledge, teach me to love myself and others more, allow me to inspire as I get inspired and let me make the most of every day. Thanks for all the birthdays wishes too, people!
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我常常在想,时间一定是有翅膀,不然,它怎么能飞逝得那么快,让我往往措手不及。如果我有超能力,我所要拥有的特异功能就是能让时间停止,甚至把它倒流。但是,梦归梦,现实归现实,如今身为三个孩子的妈妈,我更加感叹时光的匆忙和岁月的流逝。

还记得我初次当妈妈生下大宝时,我们一家身在瑞典,离新加坡十万八千里。当时的我懵懵懂懂,对于照顾孩子的事什么都不会,只能不断地尝试、不断地从失败中学习,才能和孩子一步一脚印地慢慢成长。有一次,我们和朋友一起出外用餐,当时我抱着未满一岁的大宝,说了一句 “不知道要等多久才能和你们一样,孩子学会走路了,让她走在中间,一边牵着爸爸的手,另一边牵着妈妈的手。“ 朋友笑了笑,只回了我三个字: ”很快的“。

真的,转眼间,大宝已经九岁了。现在的她,精力充沛、健步如飞,有时想跟上她的脚步都难。不仅如此,我们家中也迎接了二宝和三宝,二宝现在六岁,三宝则三岁。成为三个孩子的母亲,是我这一辈子最大的成就、最大的骄傲。选择当一名全职妈妈的我,虽不能称得上是好妈妈,但至少能靠自己的本事来照顾好三个孩子和打理一个家。这份即呕心沥血又带来无比快乐的工作,是我有生以来做过最难、亦最幸福的差事吧

一天仅二十四个小时,说起来其实真的是不够用。丈夫因从事海军而常常不在家,所以家中的事务都由我独自打理。有时,堆积如山的家务事把我压得喘不过气,而教导孩子这件事也常常让我摸不着头脑。我每天早上都提醒自己,今天不要大发雷霆,不要大呼小叫,不要过度碎碎念,但是面对常常在挑战我的极限的三宝,这仿佛比登天还难

十月怀胎,一朝分娩,养育儿女却是一辈子的事。为人父人母,也是一条漫长的学习道路。当妈妈九年了,我却好像似懂非懂,只觉得眼前的路还很长,该学习的东西还有太多太多。我希望每天能有多一点时间好好去了解孩子、陪伴他们、享受他们,也希望自己能有多一点时间去调适心情、学会解压和做自己喜欢做的事。现在的我,正努力学习掌握自己所拥有的时间,把重要的事摆在第一位。譬如说,打扫房子不比念睡前故事给孩子来的重要,使用社交媒体也不比睡个好觉来饱足精神重要。我要学会释怀、学会放下、学会不让自己轻易感到愧疚,才能更充分地把握有限的时间。

最近,大宝和我分享了课堂上所学的一首流行歌曲 ,歌名是《时间都去那儿了》。其中,有一段歌词深深触动了我,让我不禁感概万千,热泪盈眶。

时间都去那儿了,
还没好好看看你眼睛就花了。
柴米油盐半辈子,
转眼就只剩下满脸的皱纹了。

时间都去哪儿了(感人MV) - YouTube
(如果你看这个MV的时候哭了,不要怪我哦,因为我也一样落泪了。很写实,很感慨, 很让人有感触,对吧?)

我真的常常在想:时间都去哪儿了呢?明明才刚产下幼小的婴儿,如今要把她抱起来都难。明明刚听到他第一次叫“妈妈“, 现在却从早到晚忙着和我抬杠。明明在享受哺乳所带来的幸福感觉,现在只能怀念那一去不返的经验。过去的一切虽仍然历历在目,但是,随着岁月的流逝,我,还会记得吗?

十年后、二十年后,我希望我能高喊:我做到了,我已把握时间,充分地过着每一天。我要孩子们记得的不是我的唠唠叨叨,而是我对他们坚不可摧的爱。我要知道我们一家人不仅是天天忙着生活,而是真真正正地活着。到时满脸皱纹的我,回顾自己的心路历程,要心存感激,而非后悔。 



也许,我们不须要拥有特异功能,因为让时光停下脚步的最好办法,就是懂得珍惜活着的每一分每一秒。

Note: A shorter version of this article appeared in my column titled 快乐妈咪 in 联合早报副刊 on 22 Apr 2019. Do keep a lookout for my post next month, yeah?
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I love being with my kids a lot.

I do mean a lot, to the point that some friends tell me I need to learn to let go and get away from them once in a while, that the hubby and I should go on a couple trip and leave the kids behind, that I might be too obsessed with this stay-at-home mum job that I end up forgetting about myself.

Maybe, just maybe, there is some truth in it. Yet, I don't think I would wanna trade what we get to experience now for anything else in the world.

Don't get me wrong, my kids are just ordinary kids who take turns to drive me up the wall and make me want to hide in the loo a little longer to have some peace. They fight, they squabble, they scream, they cry, they whine and they complain about each other all the time. But, even if I shed a few tears on some lonely nights because I feel that this job is really a tough one, it doesn't mean I crave to get away from them just so to have me-time and to be honest, I still can't imagine going on a couple trip with the hubby and not have any of them by our side. It's not what's healthy or healthy or what's right or wrong, no, I don't believe in that. It's just what makes you happy deep down and you know it better than anyone else around you.

In March's "Happiness is...", it's about enjoying each other's company because we had almost ten days of school holidays to make use of and boy did we treasure every day of it.







I'm not sure if you can tell, but we've been attending so much less media events this year. For one, I'm getting jaded about having to take photos and videos and write reviews for every one that we go, so we've been very selective about what we take up. That also means we rejected a number of them which led to us being dropped from the list subsequently. I think if it was five years ago when I was all caught up in the blogging world and trying to better myself each day, I would have been affected by all of it. But now, I look back on hindsight and these years of experience of being a mum blogger have given me wisdom and taught me to be able to 拿得起,放得下, so I don't let myself be bothered about trying to stay in the game but to let this blog be a platform for me to keep it real and share more freely about what I truly believe in.

Okay, that doesn't mean we don't attend any events at all because some are really fun for the kids lar. For instance, they had a blast at Sentosa FunFest where they came up close with larger-than-life inflatables of cute Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty and Gudetamas, conquered obstacle courses and had fun in the foam pool.



I booked our tickets for Disney on Ice previously and same as last year, we took up the cheapest category tickets ($25 each) because we find that the view from there is good enough already. Even though I still took a few photos and videos, I did it for our memory keepsake and it actually felt good to be able to concentrate on enjoying the show as opposed to having to take snippets to post on IG stories. We were blown away by the new Moana segment this year and I think she might just be my favourite Disney princess because of her spunk, her unique and not the kind of classic princess-y look and her never-give-up attitude.

It's the first time Asher sat through the whole show and managed to spot Mickey Mouse and say his name too. Awww, wasn't he just a baby when we watched it last year? But, this boy still insists on sitting on my lap and I just let him too because for how long more can we do this? Read my previous post "While I still can".



The Books Box Sale is one that we don't miss out on too because there are just too many good books not to be missed. We returned home with 44 new children's books even though our library was already full. When there's a will, there's a way, right? In the end, I managed to store my old books, mainly both English and Chinese novels which I don't really read now but don't bear to throw away, in a cupboard so as to make more space for their books. Yup, these kids love to read nowadays, even the youngest one, so I definitely want to let them keep up with this habit and maintain their love for books and knowledge.


We are still on the tuition-free route and the only enrichment class that we've stuck to for years, other than our sponsored Heguru lessons, is their art class at Heart Studio. I still believe that two enrichment classes per week is the maximum I want to let my kids take up because we ought to leave more time for free play and family bonding, so we will try to keep it at that for now. That said, there are usually no art classes during the school holidays because of their holiday program so we get a couple of weeks off (or one month off during June and December) and it's good knowing that we don't have to rush off to anywhere but can be spontaneous to travel to any place we want to and spend as much time as we would like to.


The kids and I had a movie date where we watched Wonder Park, which talks about how a girl's imagination came true when the theme park she designed came to life. I enjoyed this animated film a lot, just like how I enjoy our movie dates nowadays because all three of the kids are accustomed to the whole experience already and seem to enjoy watching shows as much as I do. We also have our movie nights at home where we choose a movie from Netflix to watch together and this month, we just watched Home Alone! Haha. Yesh, a show I loved from my childhood and it still made all of us laugh so much when we watched it together too. I never thought I would re-watch it with my kids, you know, and it's such a sweet feeling as we munch on snacks and watch a classic show together.





We had our first visit to Paya Lebar Air Base and it happened because our friend shared a lobang with us and we managed to sign up just in time for this RC excursion and got the last few tickets. Each of us paid $2 only, you know? That included a two-way bus ride, snacks and drinks, and the chance to learn all about our air force, get to try out rifles, dress up as firemen, board a real F-15SG fighter jet, watch our sniffer dogs do a live demo, learn CPR and lifesaving techniques and so on. It was a real eye opener for all of us and I must say one of our best weekends outing ever. Gotta keep my eyes peeled for more of such opportunities in future!





Weekends are still my favourite days because we get to think of where to visit, what to play and how to relax. It's usually outdoors for us because we love to be out under the sun or in the wild. We visited Trapizza and Nestopia in Sentosa and the kids had a fun-filled morning eating pizzas and pancakes followed by climbing over ropes and going down tunnel slides. I must say it was a super hot day and all of us were perspiring profusely, yet we were the last family to leave because I just wanted to make full use of our precious Saturday morning. Oh, and we took the cable car after that too because the kids love the ride so much, and that was our third time in March already (thanks to our Faber License!)

Unlike the sisters who had only a week of school holidays, the boy got to enjoy two weeks off because his school was closed. That meant that the two of us had the chance to go for breakfast every morning and just enjoy our time together. I love seeing how he is hitting milestone after milestone, for instance he can now ride his tricycle on his own already. I still remember his feet couldn't even touch the ground when I first bought this for him. Awww, they get big and tall and strong so fast!




KidZania remains as one of our favourite places to visit because the kids always have so much fun there - even if the crowd is huge and the queues are long. The best thing is the 3yo now gets to join in every station with his sisters too and it's a good chance for him to learn to be less dependent on me and be willing to try out new things. At the KidZ & Heritage event, they were thrilled to ride a trishaw around the city and also became coolies who delivered rice sacks. I hope they learnt a thing or two about our Singapore history from that trip and learn to appreciate what our pioneers have built for us.



Last but not least, we also managed to squeeze in a 3D2N Club Med Bintan trip in March! Yup, this was booked last minute as usual when we could confirm the hubby's leave. Family holidays always make us feel so excited and it doesn't matter if we are going to a kampung or a luxurious hotel, I think we are all very happy as long as we are together. It's the company that matters, right?




For those three days, we partied, we played, we laughed, we got up close with nature and we bonded over simple activities like going to the beach or playing ball games as a family. Those moments were special to me and I hope it meant something to the kids too. I think all they want is our presence at times, and I'm glad we gave it in full to them for those three days. We also went for a foam party on our last night where we danced to the music, got ourselves all soapy and happy, and didn't take any single photo to remember it because we chose to use our hearts, not our phones.




The girls also took a leap of faith by going on the trapeze and attempting to do a knee hang, as well as performing a dance on stage in front of everyone at the Mini Club show. I could sense their nerves and also their excitement, and was most thankful that they plucked up enough courage to do both and gained some invaluable experience and precious memories too.



The last afternoon of our holiday was a fun-filled one spent in Safari Lagoi, which was an excursion we booked at the last minute. Yup, this family is very spontaneous hor. Anyway, it was a blast for all of us because we thought we would only see a few animals but it turned out that we got up close with chimpanzees, rabbits, deer, pythons, crocodiles, sun bears, cockatoos, guinea pig, komodo dragon, chickens, ducks, swans, giant turtles and check this out - seven elephants too! The kids got to carry rabbits and stroke them, feed grass to the deer, picked jambu from the trees to feed the cockatoos, shake hands with the chimpanzees and more. It was more than what we bargained for and we even took a boat ride along the mangrove swamp to end the holiday with a perfect dinner at a kelong restaurant before taking the ferry back. It was a holiday that filled our hearts with joy and gratitude, rejuvenated our souls and left us with such awesome family moments to remember.

March was definitely a fulfilling month for us and even though we won't be travelling again soon, I still can't wait for the next school holidays to come because that is when I will get to enjoy my babies 24/7. Till more updates in April!
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My kids love to play pretend. It's amazing seeing how they can come up with creative ideas, think out of the box and see infinite possibilities when given the opportunity to play imaginatively.

You probably know by now that we love doing arts and crafts together and I've shared many of our works in my Creativity 521 series over the years. I was recently inspired to let the kids play dress up, invent their own game ideas and turned a space in our home into a whimsical playground. All it takes is imagination for magic to happen, right?

Thanks to our new playground set from Friso, we now have a play slide, play tents, play balls and play mat - and lots of room for our imagination to soar. Come join us on our magical journey as we share with you some of the wonderful places we travelled to in our imagination!


So Easy To Set Up

The playground set didn't take us long to set up and the kids did everything themselves, except for the slide that needed a little bit of help from the hubby and I. Within 15 minutes of unboxing everything, our play area was ready! I just love the splash of colours it added to my home. The place looks so kid-friendly and inviting now.













Of course, the kids are over the moon because this is the first time we have a playground in our house! If you're worried about space, it might be good to know that the foam play mat can be easily disassembled and the tents and tunnel can be folded up to keep in a small bag.

The only one that does take up space is the slide but it's our favourite of all so we will definitely make space for it.




In our desire to let creativity flow, we decorated our playground set using different themes and came up with new ideas to play. Yup, mum and kids together. It's a good way for us to bond, I loved how we spent hours creating the DIY props and talking about anything under the sun, how we role-played and pretended to be anyone we wanted to be, and how we created not just a day of fun but a lifetime of memories too.

Imagination at Play, Theme #1 - Under the Sea

This "Under the Sea" theme was perfect for my boy who loves to splash in water, just had a visit to the aquarium, loves fishes and has a dad who works in the submarine.

Materials used:
1) Blue cloth
2) Cutouts of fishes
3) Crepe paper
4) Sticky tape
5) Scissors
6) Vanguard sheets
7) Markers
8) Badge

Firstly, we used a blue piece of cloth to cover the play mat and stuck cutouts of fishes onto the balls. We now had a sea of fish!



Next, we transformed the slide into a cliff and the tent and tunnel into a cave using crepe paper. It definitely sounds exciting to jump down a cliff and climb through a cave as you go on a quest under the sea, right?



The big girl used a marker to write down the names of places - Cliff, Cave, Sea and Commanding Station - on a piece of vanguard sheet. She then cut them out so that we could label the places accordingly.



Costume: Now, it was time for our little diver to get into action! See how mighty pleased he was with his new snorkel mask? He could hardly wait to start! He was dressed up in his swimming suit which had a label that says "DIVER in the making".


Game play: The three-year-old is training to be a diver but he has to first climb up a cliff and dive into the ocean. Then, he has to retrieve the fishes according to instructions and head across the cave to pass the correct one to his commanding officer - that's me. When his mission is accomplished, I present him with a diver's badge and give him a congratulatory hug. See our video below for how it went and don't miss that big smile on his face at the end!


Imagination at Play, Theme #2: Fantasy Land

As for the sisters, they have always been in love with fairies, tiaras and rainbows so I couldn't have thought of a better theme for them than "Fantasy Land".  I was surprised to see that the nine-year-old was the most excited one, and she came up with many of the amazing ideas too. I loved seeing how their faces lit up whenever they had a chance to be creative, and it felt as if we could achieve the impossible if only we let our imagination take us far.

Materials used:
1) Vanguard sheets
2) Coloured paper
3) Crepe paper
4) Blue cloth
5) Markers
6) Cutouts of stars
7) Assorted ribbons
8) Bucket and backdrop stand
9) Glue
10) Scissors
11) Paintbrush
12) Double sided tape
13) Balloon sticks for wands

To create the sky where our fairies would live in, the big sister drew clouds on a white vanguard sheet and cut them out along the outline. She draped a piece of blue cloth over the play tunnel, and applied the cutouts. We now had a beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds.



The little sister helped to draw a sun, and she was the one that requested to draw in the smiling face and even added highlights in the eyes too. This was then cut out and stuck onto the play tunnel which was going to be the home for the fairies.


Next, we did the hardest but most fun DIY prop of all - the RAINBOW! We created this by sticking two white vanguards sheets together with one overlapping the other, cutting it into an inverted U-shape and then forming seven lanes which we filled with the different colours.


We cut out small pieces of crepe paper according to the colour sequence, used a paintbrush to apply glue on the base and then stuck the paper over it one by one. Yup, it was really fun to do and I loved this opportunity to get to craft with the girls once again. They were very proud of the end result. I think it looked gorgeous and transformed our play slide into something magical.



We also turned the play mat into a galaxy of stars by pasting star cutouts onto the balls. Magical ribbons were hidden among the stars which we used in our pretend play later on.

As for our last prop, one of the play tents became a magical well. We created this by drawing a brick design onto a piece of vanguard sheet and hanging a bucket overhead by using a backdrop stand.


Costume: The girls became fairies by putting on their beautiful gowns and wings! We did the pink wings from scratch using cardboard from before (you can see how we did them here). But where are  their wands (made using balloon sticks and ribbons) and flower crowns (this is how we DIY-ed ours using floral wire and artificial flowers previously)? Read on and you'll understand!


Game Play: Together, we came up with a script and storyline for pretend play in our Fantasy Land. The girls are the fairy sisters who live in the sun and one day, they hear someone crying for help and spot a lady trapped in a magical well - yeah, I am the damsel in distress. They scurry to save her by climbing over a rainbow and entering a galaxy of stars where they have to fish out the magical ribbons and tie them together. Once their magical "rope" is done, they fly across the clouds and help to pull the damsel out of the well. She turns out to be their fairy godmother who had set up this test to determine if the fairies have kind hearts and eventually she bestows them with their magic wands and crowns.




Here's the video which includes how we set up our playground, how we came up with the DIY decor and how we went through our pretend play for each of the themes. (You don't want to miss seeing how I cried for help when I was trapped in the well or how one of the fairies got stuck in the sky, so do watch it now!)

The Magic of Imaginative Play - Under the Sea - YouTube


How fun, right? We shared so much joy and laughter during the whole process and I knew this day would leave behind many precious memories for us. It also reminded us that as long as we hold onto the power of imagination, we can go to any place we want, do anything we like and, in a way, make our dreams come true.



We can't wait for our next imaginary play session! Don't forget to get your Friso playground set today and join us in letting those creative juices flow as we enjoy precious bonding time with our little ones. 

From now to 30 April, you can get your Friso playground set for FREE with every $380 purchase of Friso products*. Yes, sounds awesome, right? I have a feeling your kids will love this too. Redemption details can be found at https://www.friso.com.sg/thebestplayground. For terms and conditions, go here.
*Excludes Frisolac Gold 1 and Frisolac Gold Comfort

Image credit
This article also appeared in theAsianparent.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between Friso and A Happy Mum. All images are my own unless stated otherwise. All opinions are mine.
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I didn't sleep in an air-conditioned bedroom when I was a kid. It was considered a luxury at that time and since we had no aircon unit in our home, I grew up being used to sleeping with a fan beside me and the wind blowing in my face.

Fast forward to decades later, times have changed and it almost feels like every house has aircon because our weather is just so unbearably hot and humid. From a luxury, having aircon has become nearly a necessity and is not as costly as before. Now, we have an aircon unit in every room of our home and even though I still don't use mine and prefer to sleep with just our ceiling fan, I have to admit that my girls sleep with the aircon switched on every night.

Why? Firstly, there is limited space in their 8sqm pink bedroom and due to the fact that we have a bunk bed set up, it is impossible to install a ceiling fan without risking the girls getting injured. A standing fan might not have done the job too since we have one kid sleeping on each level and the room gets pretty stuffy at times. Secondly, my firstborn was born right in the middle of winter in Scandinavia and she prefers being in a cool environment. That means since we moved into A Happy Home, they have pretty much slept in an air-conditioned room every night - well, except for those nights when Papa is away and they decide to gatecrash my room.

That said, I have to say that we are not so diligent when it comes to getting our aircons serviced regularly, which is probably a mistake on hindsight. In recent months, we've realised that the aircon unit in our study area was starting to drip water whenever it was turned on. Subsequently, the aircon unit in the girls' room stopped emitting cold air and the room felt warm, despite how I tried to fidget and play around with the remote control settings (do you do that too?). Little did I realise that by making our aircon units work harder since they were not running smoothly, it was causing our electricity bills to rise. Yikes!

Thus, I was so glad when we did the long overdue task and serviced all the aircon units in our home last month. It was a huge relief for me seeing that all the units could finally operate smoothly, thanks to 25 Degrees. We even did a chemical wash for the aircon unit in the girls' room - you won't believe all the filth that was removed - and now, I don't even need to set it at a low temperature or increase the fan speed in order for the room to feel cool. Phew.

In this post, I will be sharing with you more about the experience we had with 25 Degrees and for those who are keen, I will be running a giveaway where not one, not two but FIVE of you will get all your aircon units serviced and even receive a chemical wash too! Don't worry if you have no idea what it is, I didn't too but boy does it work wonders. Read on for more details.


The first question I asked when the aircon experts from 25 Degrees arrived in my home was "How often should aircon servicing be done?" The reply was "Optimally, once every three months." Wow, no wonder our aircons were clogged, leaking and malfunctioning - we haven't done any servicing in two long years!

I have to admit that I don't climb up high to clean our aircon units myself, not the exterior and not to mention the interior. With the hubby being away often, I kind of assumed that this is a man's job and with so many other things to clean in the house already, this is one of those that I don't do anything about. After all, we don't turn on most of the aircon units often and the dirt trapped inside can't be that much, right?

Well, I was wrong. Just take a look at the filters of the aircon units in our home which are NOT turned on regularly. What looked seemingly clean and nice on the outside turned out to be a perfect place for dust to accumulate on the inside.





These were the filters from the aircon in our master bedroom. Yup, didn't I just say we sleep under the fan and the aircon is only occasionally switched for a short while on to cool the room? I guess that didn't stop the fact that dust and dirt would continue to enter the aircon units and eventually lead to blockage of the air flow.




Our aircon technician from 25 Degrees was Senthil, who boasts over 15 years of experience in the aircon servicing industry. I was impressed not just by his friendliness and good command of English, but more by his meticulous nature and how he took the time and effort to thoroughly clean every single aircon unit in our home. It took over two and an half hours - the chemical wash already took up one hour - but I would rather that we spent adequate time to let these guys do a proper servicing job than to rush through it haphazardly.

I've never seen an aircon servicing job being done in front of my eyes so this was something new for me. It was amazing how he could swiftly find all the screws - which we didn't even know existed - on the aircon units and remove the outer cover within a couple of minutes. This was followed by using a vacuum cleaner to clean the surface of the parts and the drainage pipe, which can contain gel-like substances due to the build up of mold, algae and dirt coming in contact with the drainage water. A clogged pipe is one of the common reasons to a leaking aircon and it turned out that our leaking problem was easily solved after this inspection and servicing was done.


While the vacuuming was being done, Senthil also took the aircon cover for a wash in the bathroom and used a brush to help to get rid of the trapped dirt too. Before he assembled everything back, he used a cloth to make sure that all the parts were wiped dry first.


Each unit took him about 20 minutes to complete and I have to say that he maintained his professionalism from the first to the last. He also turned on each of the aircon units after they were done just to make sure that the air was flowing smoothly and everything was in good order.


Now, let's move on to the more interesting, and amazing, part - the chemical wash!

Firstly, I have to tell you that I used to set the aircon temperature in the girls' room at 25 degree celsius when we first moved in. The fan speed was set at low because it sufficed to make their cosy room feel cool and comfortable to sleep in. Everything went well for some time but gradually, they would come out of the room after a while during bedtime to complain about the room being stuffy and hot. And what did I do? Well, I kept adjusting the temperature lower and increased the fan speed to the maximum too. That is just common sense, right? Or so I thought.






I couldn't really believe my eyes when Senthil opened up the cover and I saw at once just how utterly filthy the unit was. I mean, the filters, cooling coil and fan were totally choked with dirt and dust. No wonder the air was not flowing smoothly, not to mention the bad quality of air that we were getting. With the fan blocked and not working effectively, air ventilation in the room was greatly reduced too. Just see for yourself how much dirt we had inside.



So when I first heard that they were going to perform a chemical wash, I thought it would be involve the technician climbing up with some chemical solution to clean the aircon interior, wipe the different parts, get rid of the impurities and that was it. Well, he did climb up the ladder but guess what? He brought down the entire aircon unit with him.



I am serious. Senthil had to climb out of my window ledge to get to the aircon compressor to turn off the gas supply, then use pliers to cut some tubes and a spanner to turn the bolts and he really took down the whole aircon unit. Wow, that was something new to see. According to CY, the founder of 25 Degrees, some companies that offer a chemical wash would only wash one side of the aircon coil so that it all looks nice and clean from the front. However, if you were to check the back of the coil, a lot of dirt would still be trapped behind. So what 25 Degrees guarantees to do is to ensure that both front and back are thoroughly cleaned, which is also why a chemical wash typically takes time.




Once the parts were dissembled and taken to the washing area, Senthil used a chemical solution to spray onto them and it practically worked magic! Previously, the coil (in the above picture) was all black, dirty and dusty and after a few sprays and quick wash, it regained its shiny, clean, bright metallic look.

As for the fan, this was washed with the chemical solution too and you can see how much filth came out with the water. Eeewww, right? By the way, Senthil was all sweaty and wet from all the washing and hard work at this time, but he continued with his job silently and diligently, even complying to my requests to hold the parts still so I could take some photos. Thumbs up for his attitude! Well, I would definitely like to have him back again when we need to carry out the next round of servicing.


As for the assembly part, not to worry because everything would be restored for you just the way it was. Except that you now have a much cleaner aircon unit which looks and works as good as new. We tried it out once the unit was put together and it took just a few minutes for the air in the room to feel cool - and I didn't even need to set it at a low temperate. Gosh, why did I wait so long to do this and foolishly paid more electricity bills while reducing the lifespan of our aircon?


Guess who are the happiest now that their room feels cool once again? Well, these two, of course. They've been playing pretend in their rooms more often and no longer come out at night to complain about feeling hot, which is of course a good thing for us as parents.


My wish is that they can have a good night's sleep and be able to rest well every night, now that they have to wake up so early to go to school.

It seems like that wish has come true for now, thanks to 25 Degrees.

******

For those of you who are in need of aircon servicing and are looking for reliable technicians, I will definitely recommend 25 Degrees and in fact, we will stick with them for all our aircon needs in future. For all A Happy Mum readers, quote 'Summer25' to receive 20% off their servicing package.



******

EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAY!

Win a one-time servicing for all aircon units in your house and a chemical wash for one aircon unit (each package is worth $300)! Thanks to the generosity of 25 Degrees, I will be choosing FIVE winners in total, so hurry and join in now.

THREE winners will be picked from Instagram and TWO winners from Facebook. You are allowed to join in both contests but one household is entitled to at most one prize only.

For Facebook (contest link here),
1) Leave a blog comment in this post to qualify.
2) Like A Happy Mum and 25 Degrees Aircon on Facebook.
3) Like my post and leave a FB comment on why you want to win and tag at least three friends.
4) For a bonus chance to win, share the post on FB with your family and friends.

For Instagram (contest link here),
1) Leave a blog comment in this post to qualify. (You only need to comment once to qualify for both FB and IG) 
2) Follow @ahappymum and @25degreesaircon on IG.
3) Like this post on IG and tag your friends, one per comment. The more you tag, the higher your chances of winning.
4) For 5 bonus entries, repost my post,tagging me and #ahappymumgiveaway.

It is mandatory to complete steps 1-3 to qualify for each of the contests. You can choose to join either of the giveaways or BOTH to double your chances of winning. The giveaway ends on 21 Apr 2359hrs. The winners will be chosen and contacted via DM, they will have to reply within 48 hours or new winners will be picked. This giveaway is open to all readers residing in Singapore and aged 18 and above. It is in no means endorsed, administered or affiliated with Facebook or Instagram. Best of luck, people!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with 25 Degrees Pte Ltd. All photographs and opinions are my own.
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I'll say it. I love to carry my kids. I love to hug them, kiss them and hold their hands. I love to keep them close to me in every way I can.

Now that my youngest has turned three and is growing up fast, I get comments from others when they see me carrying him. "So big already, still want Mama to carry ah?", "Ah boy, come down and walk yourself.", "Shame shame, so big still behave like a baby", "You cannot spoil your child. Let him stand up and walk." and the list goes on. Yup, we get plenty of unsolicited advice when we go out on the streets and that's how it has been since my first child.

I usually return with a smile though, because I know they are all concerned for us and doing it out of good will. Friends, family, strangers - they comment because they care and because they genuinely mean good for us. That's what I believe in.

We used the baby carrier a lot for each of the three kids, especially when we went on holidays, when we went to places which were not pram-friendly, when the baby needed to have a good nap but we were out, and when I just wanted to be hands-free so that I could multi-task - that's what all mums do - with a baby on my chest. I don't use our toddler carrier nowadays but I vividly remember I did it often when the boy was two. Even though he weighed only 10kg then - less than half of the maximum weight of 22kg - there would be people who would ask how old he was and why he was still being carried around. Well, I have two other kids to handle and you have no idea how having one snug in the carrier did wonders for me.

Maybe you just saw the tired side of him. Or of me. He needed a nap, I needed a break.

Maybe you don't know us and have no idea how he is a free-spirited boy and loves to run around, jump all over the place and play so much till it depletes his energy.

Maybe you are not me and you don't know how I feel as I witness my children's milestones passing by faster than I can stop to truly cherish them.

Yup, I think it's the last one that really makes me hold onto these kids tighter. Once gone, never return. You know what I mean?


Being a mum of three has taught me many things.

For one, I know now that carrying my child doesn't spoil her. On the contrary, it makes her feel happy, thankful and most importantly, loved.

I also know fully well this won't last too long before I run out of strength to throw him up into the air, play a game of Super Baby or let him fly around like an aeroplane. Even carrying him around for more than five minutes would be a feat.

I see my two elder ones and realise that even though we still hug and kiss every day, it's no longer the same as before. It gets less as time passes. Also, carrying them is not really an option now so our cuddles have to be mostly done in bed or on the sofa.

Friends have told us that their kids stopped wanting to hug them, give them goodbye kisses or even hold their hands in public when they go out. Yup, they get self-conscious in front of peers and start to shy away from mushy stuff, which is just a part of growing up that you and I can understand too. But, as a mum now, the difference is I hear these stories with a tinge of sadness and wonder when my time will come.

All I can do now is cherish, isn't it?

******

Dear Asher, 

I always call you my little 'koala' because you stick to me so much and won't let me out of your sight. You insist that Mama carries you, you tell me that I need to wait outside of school for you and not step away, and you follow me wherever I go. Yup, I do mean everywhere.

You are an affectionate boy who showers me with love in the sweetest way. You use your hands to cup my face every now and then, looking into my eyes so tenderly, and then plant the sweetest kisses with the sweetest words "I love you, Mama". You push away Papa when he gets close to me because you say that I am yours. Whenever we go out, you will reach out your hands when you are tired and say "妈妈,抱!" (Mama, carry). And you know, I don't really care about what others say, I do it because it makes you, and me, happy.

One day, you might not need or want me as much as you do now. One day, your heart might not belong to me only but to another girl. One day, you will be busy running away from me, not to me. One day, you might just stop wanting to have all these tender moments with Mama because you will be a big boy - and maybe not Mama's boy - already. 

That's when I hope that you will remember how we used to be so close, how Mama held you close to me every day, how we were always there for each other, how you were mine and I was yours, how we would do nothing but snuggled and yet felt like the happiest people in the world, how we shared a bond so deep and so strong that no one could ever tear us apart.

You might be three now but before I know it, you will be 13 and then 30. We have to make each day count because life is just too precious to be wasted, you know that? I love the newborn, baby you but I also love the toddler and now pre-schooler you. Seeing how you've grown through the years makes me lament the passing of time but also makes me look forward to seeing how you will develop further and become a fine young chap. 

For now, I will treasure every time I get to hold you near, carry you and whisper the words "I love you, baby" into your ear.

While I still can.

Love,
Mama
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It's easy to say that we want to see the big picture in life and learn to enjoy the things that really matter. It's hard to do it when we get caught in the mayhem of everyday life and are always rushing to and fro, always busy with errands and chores, always picking up after somebody, always can't seem to stop nagging, always having to raise our voices because no one seems to listen, and always feeling like we screwed up today but console ourselves that there's always tomorrow to make up for it.

In the month of February, it's about reminding myself that "Happiness is..." about seeing what truly matters and learning to close an eye to what ultimately doesn't.

******

Delaying the kids' nap time a little, being under the hot sun and getting mosquito bites. Don't matter.

Spending some time in the afternoon to take a walk and do things that the kids like to do. Matter.

I've been telling that to myself for a while now, stop being so frustrated when they sleep a little past their nap time or bedtime. It doesn't kill anyone. Yup, it's not hard to tell I am one of those mums who fail terribly at getting the kids to sleep early. I've no idea how some kids can be in bed by 7pm every day but the fact is we are happy with our routine and as long as it works for your family, just do it because there ain't no right or wrong way.


Getting lost in a run and not being able to complete a race route that you've been looking forward to. Don't matter.

Staying together as a family, cheering each other on and being the last but happiest family to cross the finishing line. Matter. 

So we took part in the Safari Zoo Run 2019 and I shared about our unique experience previously here. It would have been easy to get annoyed and start pushing the blame to each other - in fact, we almost did - but the harder thing is to look beyond all that and remind ourselves that as long as we stayed together, it wouldn't have mattered that we had no sense of direction and were not sure where to go. It wasn't about being the first few to finish the run or making sure we got our medals; it was about letting ourselves enjoy the experience and have a good family day out. And that, we did.


Wearing old clothes during CNY, getting fat on goodies and losing money during mahjong or card games. Don't matter.

Celebrating CNY with loved ones and letting them know how much you treasure them. Matter.

CNY remains as my favourite festive season of all and it was the highlight for us in February where we had numerous gatherings with family and friends. For some of the friends, we only catch up with them once a year so we always look forward to these meetups where we will talk about the good old times and be amazed by how our kids are growing up so fast.

This year, we also made our way to River Hongbao for the first time and I have to say that the fireworks were so spectacular - one of the longest we had ever seen! We also watched Jack Neo and Jackie Chan's new movies, feasted on a lot of new year goodies, lao yu sheng many times and had yummy steamboats too. It was definitely a good new year celebration!





Seeing the kids squabble much too often which drives you up the wall. Don't matter.

Letting them learn to resolve their own conflicts and avoid stepping in to mediate, or worse, dictate. Matter.

I concluded that no matter how much they promise me that they will be 相亲相爱, get along well and not pick a fight, the truth is there will always be something to quarrel about. If not between A and B, it will be between A and C, if not then A and B, or worse, all three together. The last scenario doesn't usually happen but there will always be two parties who find fault with each other and start to complain, scream or fight. It's my destiny to live with it. Haha.

Sometimes, I get weary and short fused and my first reaction would be to ask them to stop and if that doesn't happen, it escalates to yell, command or punish. Yup, mean mum appears and even that has no effect on them sometimes. I remember a friend telling me once he lets his kids resolve their own issues most of the time so I try to remind myself that and take a step back if I can. It might sound irresponsible when I utter the words 自己想办法解决 to them and ask them to solve their own problems, but it does work from time to time, especially for the older ones and they have surprised me at times by how they learnt to give in or take turns with each other.

For instance, we played with this new bubble toy that allows you to catch the bubbles if you put on the glove. Yup, apparently this magic bubble is thicker due to the more saturated soap solution and lasts better than normal bubbles so you can hold it. There were only two gloves in the set and as they say, three is a crowd and we happen to have three kids. So they had to learn to take turns to be the catchers and the blower.



Taking insta-worthy pictures of the kids at every outing you go. Doesn't matter.

Seeing what makes your child special and taking time to appreciate the things he/she does. Matter.

Being a blogger and a mum who is active on social media means I am constantly thinking of what pictures to take to post on these platforms, what angles to write for my next post and what experiences I can share that will benefit others. It's like this virus that is inside me and I find it hard to shake it off. The hubby has commented on more than one occasion that I should stop taking so many pictures/videos and immerse myself in those moments more. Yup, the wise man speaks. I still find it very tough, especially when I do up all those growing up video compilations and everyone feels thankful that I captured all those fleeting moments and we have something to remind us of those precious years.

We were at a chalet getaway and every time we go there, hitting the beach is a must! These kids love to pick seashells, feel the sand under their feet, touch the waves and most of all, hunt for living creatures like crabs, shrimps, mudskippers, sea stars and more. We always release them to the sea but it's the process of finding them that thrills them.

Once, I asked them to let me take some shots of them and subsequently I tried to keep my phone so I could build more sandcastles and be present with them more. Well, I did whip it out to take a couple more shots after but let's just say it was quite controlled already. Then, when I was busy with the little one, I noticed that the big girl had wandered off further and had be alone for some time. When I walked over to her, what she did brought a big smile on my face.


Yup, she's usually the one who loves the sea creatures the most but this time, she took time to do something more meaningful. She gathered all the rubbish she could find and wrote a message on the sand to remind others not to pollute the ocean. It was her own initiative and her own effort, and I absolutely loved seeing this nature-loving, kind-hearted part of her.


Our house is constantly in a mess - there are always toys strewn all over, we always have clothes on the sofa and the floor is never clean. Don't matter.

Seeing how the kids make a mess in order to grow their imagination, seeing how they play pretend and come up with creative stories, seeing them having a good time with each other. Matter.

I've kind of acknowledged the fact that if we choose not to have a helper, we will seldom have a clean house. Yup, I was never the OCD type and I'm very good at turning a blind eye to messes. Thankfully, the hubby doesn't complain about that because we are similar in that sense.

Yes, I do make the kids do chores and learn to clean up after themselves but it doesn't always happen and with the three-year-old around, it's like he's a whirlwind who makes a mess within three seconds of me clearing up any part of the house. So, 算了咯,不重要吧. Messes have become a part of our lives. These kids love to play pretend a lot and they come up with their own characters, own script and own storyline. It's quite cute to see, actually.



Trying out new recipes, making the food presentable or taking nice pictures before every meal. Don't matter.

Making sure the kids get homecooked food cooked with love by Mama, no matter how simple they may be, and that we have a hearty meal together. Matter.

Okay, we do take pictures but not during every meal and we usually do so just to let the hubby know what we cooked tonight and ask him if he's returning home to eat later. Yup, he seldom gets to eat with us on weekdays. If you've seen my IG stories, you will know how simple my homecooked food is and how it's nothing to boast about.

But you know what? These kids love it! Yup, I did try one or two new recipes and they were like "Mama, can you just cook those things that we like?" These would be dishes like soup (any kind of Chinese soup), stir-fried vegetables, fried fish, sesame oil chicken, steamed egg (they super love my steamed egg, haha) and other very basic stuff. So nice of them to be so easily contented, right? Haha.

Mealtimes are for us to bond, talk and share about things that happened in the day and I always make sure that we are free of distraction from electronic devices. Yup, no phones and TV for sure. Seeing their happy faces makes everything so worthwhile!



Seeing that the boy suffered bad cuts on his face when he went scooting with Daddy. Doesn't matter (after I made sure he was feeling okay and that the injuries were not serious).

Letting him have a good time and carrying on with plans that you know would cheer him up, as well as showering him with love and assurance. Matter.

It was so hard to hold my tongue and I did nag at the husband for letting the boy get injured when they were out. I tasked him to bring him to scoot to buy breakfast back but he brought out his adult scooter too to scoot together and I was adamant that the accident wouldn't have happened if he didn't do that. But, how are we to know what will happen in the next minute? How can accidents be totally unavoidable?

With the elder two having suffered stitches when they were young, I think we have learnt to be more calm in dealing with such situations. It's not that our hearts don't ache - they do - but we don't panic as much as we did the first time. In any case, this boy suffered deep cuts with one near his eye but he was still laughing and singing so we brought him out for a fun day at Wild Wild Wet where we stayed for over six hours and everyone got sunburnt. Haha.



Not having fanciful dinners, romantic cards, luxurious roses or exquisite jewellery for Valentine's Day. Don't matter.

Knowing that your other half loves and values you, as well as spending this day with the gems of your lives. Matter.

Our Valentine's Day was spent with the kids where we had a nice Japanese dinner together. The hubby gave me a surprise gift he bought on the spur of the moment (because they were on sale lar) - matching Liverpool jerseys. Haha. Very practical. I'm not the type of girly girl who likes to pamper herself or who loves flowers/makeup/jewellery (I will tell him it's a waste of money), so this was actually a very apt gift for me since I like to wear comfy clothes.






Eating out on some days and having fast food, fried food or not-so-healthy food. Don't matter. Don't beat yourself up about it.

Eating out because it preserves your sanity. Matter.

We eat out at least twice a week because of their classes or because I'm just too tired or lazy to cook. I really don't see anything bad about it and in fact, I think it's quite a feat and I have become an expert in dining out in food courts and kopitiams with three young kids.

I do allow them to have fast food on some days which makes them totally excited every time. Come on, I admit it, I love McDonalds' breakfast and I love KFC chicken since I was a kid too. Not depriving them, and myself, means we all end up a little happier at the end of the meal, which also motivates me to get myself to the supermarket so I can cook for the next day.



Having stretch marks, bulging tummy and battle scars from giving birth. Don't matter. In fact, be proud of them because you went through the most amazing miracle on earth.

Keeping fit, staying healthy and being able to keep up with the energetic kids. Matter.

I've been dedicating half an hour or so of me-time to working out nearly every day in the hope of becoming more fit, toned and healthy. It's not about being able to wear a bikini confidently or fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans (that is not impossible because... the hips!) but more of trying to stay fit at this age and be able to maintain a healthy living lifestyle. Yup, so nowadays, I remind myself that it's more important and worthwhile to get myself up and moving instead of sitting on the couch scrolling through feeds. I found a workout that I like after trying out a few, for instance I don't like running, swimming or HIIT workouts as much but Latin dance, I am loving it! So if you haven't found something that keeps you motivated, just keep trying till you do, okay?

This last photo was captured by the boy who loves taking my camera or phone to take pictures nowadays. I am always so scared that he drops them and destroys my livelihood, but then again, they can always be replaced but him knowing that I am here to guide him, teach him and let him try - that is priceless.
Remember what truly matters.
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The Safari Zoo Run is one of our all-time favourite runs and we've always looked forward to it year after year with no exception. That is mainly because the kids adore animals and cherish every chance they have to get up close with them. In addition, we enjoy family walks as a whole and see it as a great way to bond, and it adds so much more meaning knowing that we are doing it for a good cause and helping to conserve wildlife.



The run took place last Sunday and I have to say that it didn't start off too smoothly as we had to deal with a tantrumy kid who was still feeling the after effects from having been out in the sun the day before, as well as being concerned for one who just suffered two bad falls and had wounds on his face and legs. Nonetheless, we made it in good timing and arrived at the venue before 9:30am, which was supposedly the flag off timing for our 4km leisure walk. It didn't take too long for the hubby to find a parking lot and we swiftly made our way to the main event venue.



As compared to last year's 5.5km walk, this was going to be significantly shorter but we were still pretty excited as we heard that the course would include River Safari for the first time ever. Actually, we just visited River Safari last month since we have the 4-park annual passes - which by the way are totally worthwhile to buy if your kids love to visit the parks - but it's not the same as when you go through it with dozens of other families as part of a meaningful walk, right?




We were feeling thankful for the bright sun and good weather as we made our way to the starting point, only to realise that the queue was far away because it was sooooo long! There were over hundreds of families who were joining us in the same event and it was initially a heartening sight as I appreciated seeing fellow Singaporeans coming together to walk for a good cause and enjoy a family weekend. I heard from the organisers that this was a record breaking year with over 6,000 participants who joined, woohoo!

By this time, everyone of us was in a good mood and we were all feeling ready to go! Except that the queue was not moving much. Nope. Not even after we took dozens of photos and wefies. It turned out that for the first time, we had to wait over half an hour just for the flag off to happen and after such a long time under the hot sun, it was understandable that many of the kids in the queue were starting to whine, grumble and feel tired even before the run began. We had to keep assuring ours that it was going to start soon and we would be on our way before we knew it.



When the horn sounded for our wave - we were in the third - we were only to happy to move off and start our leisure walk! See the route below? By right, we would be walking through the Zoo, then the Night Safari and finally River Safari which was where the finishing point would be. For me, the thought of running through Night Safari in the day was the highlight because come on, who gets to do that, right? I still remember how we came up close with Chawang, Sri Nandong and their calf Neha last year and spent a good amount of them watching them frolicking in the mud. It was such a vivid memory that stayed with me ever since.





As always, the best part of the Safari Zoo Run is in being able to admire the animals and stop whenever you want in order to take a closer look, take a famfie or just take a quick break to catch your breath. That's the point about not participating in competitive runs but instead in this leisure run so we could walk at our own pace and take things a little slower.



We have always been in one of the last couple of waves in the previous years - yup, we are definitely not early birds and will miss the worms - but based on our experience, we were still able to let the kids stop to look at the animals they like and learn a thing or two about them along the way. So, we had presumed that this would be the same too. Why not, right?




I guess it was a mistake on our part to stop too many times in the front part of the journey because we likely ended up being one of the last few families in the walk. I was looking through our pictures and videos from last year and it seemed that the route was much clearer at that time due to the placement of traffic cones (to prevent participants from detouring and going into the small paths) and help of marshals. This year, we were free to roam into the various animal exhibitions and could easily count how many marshals we passed by too.



At our first water stop, we made sure to fill up all our green water bottles which we had received in the race packs. I find it such a great initiative that they are doing away with the disposable cups because we have seen hundreds, even thousands, of them being thrown away after the run. It might be a little more troublesome for competitive runners to bring their own bottles but since ours was a leisure walk, we made sure we brought along one bottle each to keep everyone hydrated. I like how the staff allowed our kids to fill up their own water bottles too, it helped to make them feel important and responsible in a way.


We were thrilled when we finally saw the 1km signboard which meant that we had fulfilled one quarter of the run already! Next up, we would be moving onto the Night Safari, right right?

Alas, at this moment, we came face to face with a lady marshal and she directed the hubby to lead us to the River Safari. We were feeling confused as we made our way to the Zoo entrance and I was bewildered by why we would skip the Night Safari entirely. So we debated for a few minutes and made our way back to the Zoo again in search of another marshal (there were almost none of them in sight). When we finally found a guy in that bright red shirt, he then frankly told us that he was not sure of the course and couldn't be of much help. So many question marks appeared in my mind and as I tried to contact our friends and the organiser to ask for help, precious time flew past again and it was at this moment that I had to accept dismally that we were officially 'lost' and were not going to complete the run. For the first time ever.

In not wanting to deprive the kids of their medals, we decided to skip straight to the finishing line and it was there that we bumped into some of my friends who also gave feedback about the route being cut short or that they were told to skip one of the parks too. I guess it all boiled down to the timing issues and they had to wrap up everything by a certain time. Still, I didn't understand why we could complete a 5.5km walk last year at a similar pace but be unable to finish a 4km one this year and it somehow made the kids and I feel a tad disappointed. Well, at least we made it to the photo backdrop for this family shot with our medals! Haha.

The good thing about joining a Safari Zoo Run is that you gain entry to the parks - in this case, the Zoo and River Safari - for the entire day after the walk. It wouldn't matter much to us as we were annual pass holders, but since we were there, how could we pass up the chance to explore more, right? At this point, I just wanted to make the kids happy so we made our way back to Ah Meng restaurant for a chicken rice lunch and we subsequently explored more of the Zoo and visited the Dragons and Beasts exhibit.



This time round, we were truly able to take our own sweet time in interacting and admire the wildlife. Haha. Yup, perhaps we could have made it in a better timing if we had rushed the kids earlier on during the run and not stop to stare. But if that had happened, how would the Safari Zoo Run be unlike any other run then?

By the afternoon, it was plain to see that the kids were feeling a little tired already but when asked if they would like to go and check out the River Safari, the answer was a big "Yes!". It wasn't without hiccups though because we had to mediate conflicts and handle a big meltdown in the middle of it all, but that's just like any other day in parenthood, right?




Thankfully, our River Safari is mostly sheltered so that allowed us to escape from the scorching heat and everyone felt better shortly. The littlest, despite feeling the fatigue, skipped his nap so that he could see more fishes, monkeys and reptiles. I would have wanted to visit Kai Kai and Jia Jia again - we just saw them last month - but the queue was so long that we decided to give it a miss this time. Still, we made time to take some shots in front of the giant tanks because it's always a joy just sitting there and watching the fishes swim past.



At 4:00pm, we had a tea break and sat down to enjoy a cuppa, fruits and the famous Panda Pau from Mama Panda kitchen. While most of the kids from the run were already home by this time, ours were still running on high levels of energy and they wanted to watch the new animal show "Once Upon A River" which we did previously and deemed it as one of our favourites. So, we stayed on!


The show was jam packed with visitors but thankfully, we managed to find a spot at the side where we sat down to enjoy the show, whose performers included an iguana, a prairie dog, an otter, pelicans, a hornbill and our favourites were the capybaras! We even got to feed the capybaras, stroked them and take a wefie with them. Awww, cute!


Soon, it was 5:30pm and we were with the manatees trying to let the kids say "Hi" to their team mascot, Canola. She is one of the four mascots for Safari Zoo Run alongside Ah Meng, Chawang and Sunny. The hubby even tried googling to find out which one of them is Canola, okay.

Anyway, it so happened that this was the time for the manatee feeding session so we decided to hang around and watch them devour the plants. Yup, they are primarily herbivores and together with dugongs, the only plant-eating marine mammals. I have to say that the baby manatee was really adorable to watch! This was a highlight for the kids and a great way to end off our day too.


Was it a great day? Yes, I will definitely say so, judging from the big smiles they had at the end of everything. Despite everything, we still enjoyed ourselves, had an awesome time and will definitely love to come back for future Safari Zoo Runs. Come next year, we will learn our lesson, focus on our path more and get distracted less.


When the parks were closed, guess what we finally did? Cross that FINISH line. Yup, gotta do it the right way so that we can finally say that we earned our medals, right? I bet we were the last family to cross it that day and that has to be a fond memory in some way too. So, hip hip hooray!


Disclosure: We received a media invite to be part of Safari Zoo Run 2019. All pictures and opinions are my own.
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