When I was doing research for our Bangkok trip, I came across both Safari World and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World. It didn't occur to me that I should just choose one and forsake the other just because we only had four full days to spare. On the contrary, I was happy to include both attractions into our itinerary since knowing how much my kids love animals and marine life, it would be a much more enjoyable experience for them than going to museums or shopping malls.
I was told that we would spend about two hours or at most a little more than that to explore Sea Life Bangkok, therefore we decided to make squeeze our way to Chatuchak weekend market and have lunch there before heading over to the aquarium. Since it opens at 10am and closes at 9pm daily, unlike some other attractions which close early at 5pm, I reckon we would definitely have enough time to take things at a leisurely pace and perhaps even visit the night market after dinner.
You know what? It turned out that we spent over SIX long hours at Sea Life Bangkok. Yup, six! That is because these kids love to admire each and every exhibit and would not leave till they have spotted every species of fish there is to be seen. Considering that Sea Life Bangkok is the largest aquarium in South East Asia and spans an area of over 10,000sqm with hundreds of fishes on display, I guess it's no wonder that my kids had a blast and it was such a good thing that we made it here with lots of time to spare. In this post, I'll share with you more about our experience including the beautiful marine life we saw, the different zones to explore, the unique glass bottom boat ride and even a 4-D show that visitors can look forward to!
Conveniently located in the basement of Siam Paragon, Sea Life Bangkok is easily accessible and you just have to take the BTS to Siam or inform your driver to drop you at Paragon.This is also the mall where Kidzania is located so if you plan to visit both of these places, it will be good to stay somewhere nearby too. Madam Tussauds sits right beside Sea Life Bangkok so if you are keen on that, you can get a combo ticket on Klook to enter both attractions too. I was so thankful I had pre-booked our tickets because it saved me the hassle of waiting - there was a long queue on the day that we came because it was a Saturday!
The girls were thrilled to receive a penguin mask at the entrance - which they called it their spy goggles - and they wore it for the entire time that we were there, pretending to be spies and spot all the fishes, even those that were camouflaged really well. Another kid-friendly feature was the Dive Log Book that you can get at the start of the journey. Inside, there is a total of nine emboss stamps that you need to collect during your visit and every completed book earns you a special badge at the end. My kids were ecstatic every time they spotted this stamp station and you can also learn about some fun facts with every stamp - they all come in the shape of fishes - that you receive too.
Every exhibit comes with a comprehensive information boards which is in both Thai and English so the kids are able to read about the fishes they see in the tanks and build up their knowledge of the marine kingdom too. Next, let's take a look at some of the different zones you can visit in the aquarium!
This is where the journey begins at you set sail on an amazing underwater journey. What welcomes you at the start of it all are the Giant Spider Crab and Giant Pacific Octopus. There are also exhibits of delicate, colourful shrimps and lobsters and if you are lucky, you can even catch the feeding sessions too.
This was one that I particular liked because we were able to take a 'Shark Wall' where five different types of shark were literally below our feet. Yup, all that separated us from them was a thin piece of glass! While the kids were happy to play all the interactive games on the wall and learn about shark facts in the process, I was just contented to sit down and watch the sharks in action.
GLASS BOTTOM BOAT RIDE
The glass bottom boat ride was a unique first experience for the kids who were excited to know that they could see through the bottom of our boat - even though it was just a small rectangular shaped viewing panel. Each ride takes about ten minutes and there will be an English-speaking staff on board who will introduce you to the types of fish you can see, including sharks, stingrays and more. Life jackets are compulsory and each ride costs 350 baht per person (it's much cheaper if you book it as a combo with your admission tickets on Klook).
Did you know that corals are animals and not plants? I always find them to be so intriguing and strikingly beautiful and it was nice that the kids had a chance to visit the colourful coral reef in Sea Life and come up close with different types of corals. I loved the tunnel where the little ones could crawl through and have a photo opportunity with the corals and fishes.
It's a well known fact that when it comes to seahorses, the males are the ones that get pregnant and give birth. Yup, while they are still the sperm producers, the females will transfer their eggs to the males' abdominal pouch and incubate them for 24 days before giving birth. How fascinating and amazing, right? It's great to know that Sea Life dedicates a whole section to this magical seahorse kingdom though some of them can really be hard to spot when resting in their tanks.
The tropical rainforest leads you to a lower level in the aquarium and as you walk through the lush forest, you can see cascading waterfalls, spot poisonous dart frogs and be surrounded by huge tanks with giant freshwater fishes such as the arapaima.
By the time we reached here, it was already nearly three hours since we started and boy, those legs were aching! The toddler was sleeping in the carrier and since he is not all that light at 13kg, I was glad to find a place to rest my aching back and shoulders. Yup, there is a small cafeteria just after the tropical rainforest and you can sit down to catch your breath, get some drinks, enjoy a chicken pie or have ice cream treats too. The interesting part was that there were some snake exhibits at the cafe so the girls were happy to just stand in front and admire these slimy creatures while chomping on their sandwiches.
Moving onto the second half of the journey, the rock pool was one of our favourites because the kids got to come up close and touch the sea stars and even a shark's egg shell! The pop up tank was also a huge hit because they wanted to pretend to swim with the fishes and since there was no one there in the queue, these kids just kept 'swimming' and 'swimming' and it was hilarious and fun to watch them enjoying themselves.
Inside the tropical ocean zone is a towering 8-metre tall aquarium that contains many different types of fishes and corals. I love huge aquariums and am contented to just sit down and admire the different types of fishes swimming around - even though I usually cannot recognise more than one or two of them. We were lucky to catch the feeding session too and the diver on duty was so sporting as to give the kids high fives from inside the tank and even attempted to do underwater bubble ring tricks too!
The ocean tunnel is one of the highlights of Sea Life Bangkok so make sure you don't miss it! Even though many aquariums, including our own in Singapore, feature tunnels, it still feels quite surreal to be able to walk through schools of fish and have sharks swimming right towards you.
What makes the exhibits more extraordinary are the Thai relics and statues that are featured both outside and even inside of the tanks, which gives them a historical and cultural value. See the two pictures below? We particularly loved the last one!
No aquarium feels complete without the presence of the enchanting and spellbinding jellyfish and I love how they always seem to illuminate the surrounds. The girls are always in awe of their beauty and here, they even attempted to swim with the jellies too!
PENGUIN ICE ADVENTURE
At the end of the journey, these stunningly adorable animals will see you on your way out and if you are in luck, they might even flap their wings at you - yup, say Hello to the gentoo penguins! These penguins were so mesmerising and we were in awe just watching them dive into the pool. Once, the kids had this serviette in their hands and this cute fella just dived straight towards us and tried to 'eat' the serviette, thinking that it was fish!
I always look forward to school holidays. Even though having three kids with me 24/7 can drive me nuts on some days, not that they don't when they come home on school days, I love the fact that we get to sleep in late, have brunch instead of early breakfast, go for late night shows and supper, be free to do anything in the day and evening, explore new places and see new sights, find time to catch up with friends and family, and just do things that bonds us together as a family.
The thing is, holidays come and go too quickly in my view. I thought a month-long holiday in June sounded pretty lengthy but before I knew it, it was already time to nag at them to complete their holiday homework for school was starting the next day!
I used to be the kind of mum who would try to bring the kids out to explore almost every day. Yup, not sure where that energy came from but I just wanted to bring them out to museums, Science Centre, kids' events, movies, Sentosa, Universal Studios, zoos and anywhere that promised a day of fun. Over the years, I've mellowed a little or perhaps, just grown wiser (and more tired) with age.
We don't need to keep ourselves occupied every second just to make the holidays count. We don't need to go to holiday programs or kids events because there are just too many of them. We don't need to do a lot or busy ourselves till we get exhausted in order to feel that we are not wasting the precious, free time we have. On the contrary, spending some of our days in the comfort of our happy home, doing nothing much but just enjoying each other's company, is something that I cherish so much more now. In June's "Happiness is...", it's about making the most of the holidays.
My grandma, my beloved grandma, doesn't remember who we are but she is always happy when we bring her out for meals. She don't know which kids belong to who, she forgot my name, she doesn't remember if she ate or bathed, but she is still the cutest grandma and I love that we got to hang out with her more during the holidays. Besides taking her out for meals, we also brought her to explore Tampines Hub along with my parents and in-laws and spent a good amount of time admiring the plants at the eco garden.
My mum also mentioned that my granny loves to watch movies so we thought it would be nice for all of us to go and catch Jurassic World 2 together! I mean, come on, my 2-year-old toddler and my 84-year-old granny in the cinema watching dinosaurs together - that's gonna be epic.
Alas, after we booked tickets and went into the cinema as a big group of 10 people from the young to the old, something expected happened when we were at Golden Village in Tampines. Around 20 minutes into the show, the colours started to run and the screen was appearing in red and green, things started to flicker and basically go haywire. I must have watched hundreds of shows in my lifetime but never has anything like this happen! Why must it be now when my popo was so much looking forward to the show and this was such a rare opportunity for us? Sob. Anyway, the movie was disrupted and all patrons were asked to leave and get the refund from the front counter. I had to queue up for half an hour just for that but the consolation was they gave us a full cash refund and additional set of complimentary tickets (which cannot be used for selected movies).
We couldn't get good seats for a later show because they were all too packed and anyway, my grandma was getting tired by this time so we had to reluctantly say byebye and send her home. Awwww.
The good news is my mum totally made full use of the free passes and she took my grandma to the cinema again very soon! But, since the passes couldn't be used for Jurassic World, she decided to watch something that she really wanted to........ Incredibles 2! Haha. Yes, my mama and my mama's mama went to watch Incredibles 2 together and they loved it. So cute, right?
On our side, we also made it to watch BOTH Jurassic World 2 and Incredibles 2 in the month of June! The latter was a surprise for the kids and I brought them all the way to Junction 8, which we seldom visit, on a solo parenting day. It turned out that we finished the show late at 9plus at night and by that time, most of the restaurants were already closing.
So, we dabao-ed the last few packets of Nasi Lemak from Crave, found a bench outside NTUC and while people were passing us by, the four of us just sat there to finish our dinner-cum-supper. I don't know why but simple memories like this always stay etched in my mind and they remind me of all the fun times I had with the kids - while they were still young, still sticky and still willing to follow me everywhere I went and do whatever I do. Haha.
We had a fun day out with One Faber Group in Faber Peak and Sentosa (you can read all about our adventures here) and did so many things within a day! From climbing to the peak of Sentosa Merlion, having karaoke sessions in the cable car, riding down the slopes on Luge, enjoying an aerial view of the island on Sky Tower, coming up close with birds, reptiles and butterflies in Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom as well as admiring the spectacular award-winning Wings of Time show, it's no wonder the kids are still talking about all the fun-filled activities they did and how they yearn to go again! Gosh, their energy is limitless when it comes to having fun!
It's always nice to find time to catch up with friends and I'm glad we did so at Pororo Park, thanks to Life's Tiny Miracles for the birthday invitation! I kind of think that this park is more suited for the younger kids and was thinking that it might be too kiddy for the big girl already. Thankfully, she had fun playing with her friends and the sister, and was also happy to look after the baby brother and accompany him on the train ride too. I asked her if she thinks she will outgrow Legoland soon too because by the time her brother hits primary school age, she will be a teenager already. Her answer was "No!" and added that she would be more than happy to just be with her younger siblings and keep an eye out for them. Well, we'll see what happens then!
The three of them also went on what might be their last kiddy car ride together because the big sister is growing too tall and outgrowing her love for such rides. It took me long to persuade her to do this but they didn't have height limits for the ride at AEON Mall in JB and it was so cheap lor (RM10 for 10 minutes). So she found a motorbike that fitted her and it was still nice to see that she was all smiling and grinning away when she was playing with them. But deep down, I knew that my baby girl is growing up fast and lifestyle habits are gonna slowly but surely change for her, and for us, as time passes.
IKEA has always been one of my favourite places to shop and I like to bring the kids there for lunch and to walk around even if I don't have a dire need to buy anything (we usually end up buying something though!). I love how the kids are free to play around, sit on the furniture, come up with their own pretend games and even cook up a storm in the play kitchen. Here, they were playing camping under the bunk bed and pretending to be in a safari. I was the hunter and the one who kept getting different animal stuffed toys to hop in and give them a scare. Wahaha.
The Sesame Street March activities were something that the kids enjoyed immensely and since we had the passports already, we made sure we came back here in June to continue to collect stamps and stickers. In fact, we came not once but twice just to make sure all three of them collected all of the stickers that could be collected - not as easy as it seems when you need three copies of each.
The kids enjoyed the musical performance, they loved playing with the kinetic sand, they were impressed by the cardboard exhibition, they were excited to jump and slide on the bouncy castle - and get into ball rights with the crew - and they had fun on the Bobsleigh rides even though it lasted merely a few seconds each time.
I didn't bring the kids to that many playgrounds this time round but we did check out the one at Tampines Hub. Yes, I brought them back on my own for a second visit again because the last time I was here with the extended family, I saw that there is a water playground, dry playground, bouncy castle and other activities for the kids lor. Alas, we brought along all our water toys and swimsuits only to discover that it was closed for the day for maintenance! Aiyo, so suey. Thankfully, the dry playground was quite fun and the little ones were kept occupied for long before we made our way to another mall with a water play feature for another round of free play! Aren't we lucky to be living in kid-friendly Singapore?
It's been two years since we flew on the plane and that was during our visit to Taiwan (read about our Leofoo Resort/Village and Flying Cow Ranch experiences) when the boy was six months old. It's seriously quite expensive to fly and gets worse as the number of kids increases, so we do try to keep our holiday expenses to a minimum. Yeah yeah, gone are the days in Europe where we can visit three cities in a day and go for last minute cruises around the Baltic Sea or Mediterranean without spending a bomb.
So, you can imagine how thrilled we were to know that we were going away for a holiday during June! It might not be far but this visit to Bangkok was one that all of us needed, especially myself because I was getting bogged down with life as a whole and not feeling the usual positive self. We had to cut the vacation short to 5D4N even though we initially wanted a full week as the hubby had to accommodate last minute changes in his work schedule. Thankfully, it all went well eventually and our itinerary was a kid-centric one which delighted all the little ones and kept their love tanks full (I hope).
I have so many adventures and experiences to share with you from the trip but since I've already done an overview in my itinerary post and will also be sharing detailed posts about all the attractions like Kidzania Bangkok, Safari World, Sea Life, Open House and Asiatique, you just go and read those posts too when they are up, okay?
As a last surprise for the kids, two days after we returned from Bangkok, we went on a road trip to Kluang! The kids were clueless about where we were going so they could only keep guessing along the way. Haha, yup, I like to keep my kids in suspense sometimes, that's why surprises are so fun mah.
I knew this place was one that they were going to love, even though it might be a huge change from the five-star hotels that they stayed in Bangkok. Yup, we were going to a farm called UK Farm Agro Resort! I'll be writing on our experience soon so you gotta once again wait for my post (it's really hard to find time to blog, you know) but basically, the kids were very thrilled to get to feed all kinds of animals like goats, lamb, chickens, ducks, deer, ostriches and even get to cuddle with their favourite bunnies too!
The month of June was definitely a good month of break for the family and I was so hoping that the holidays would last longer! Yup, I'm the kind of SAHM who finds sending and picking the children more tiring than having them home all day. In other updates, the little sister will be going to Primary 1 next year (phew, thankfully can follow in Jiejie's footsteps and skip all the drama of being born in the Dragon Year) and the boy will be starting 3.5 hours of nursery too (he keeps saying he doesn't want to go to school and wanna be with Mama).
I have so many more posts to write, so many videos to catch up on, so many things I wanna do but I remind myself that the kids are always my priority - especially when they all still need me so much - and everything else just has to be done one by one, slowly but surely. Hope you had a great June holidays and are off to an amazing month of July too!
Whenever we go on a holiday, we always try to make it a point to visit the zoo. This is because the kids, who take after us, love animals and every visit is bound to be a learning experience filled with fun and laughter. So far, we have set foot in zoos and safaris in Singapore, Bali, Taiwan, Prague, Zurich, Vienna, Stockholm and more. Thus, it was only natural that our Bangkok trip (read about our full itinerary here) included a visit to the popular Safari World.
In this post, we share with you all the sights we saw and fun experiences we had in Safari World. For those of you who are planning for a family trip to Bangkok soon and would love to visit the park too, don't forget to book your attraction tickets via Klook to enjoy discounts!
Safari World started in the year 1988 and has developed into a popular tourist destination that now consists of two parks - Safari Park and Marine Park. It is open all year round from 9:00am to 5:00pm so it would be good to plan your visit such that you can arrive early and have the whole day to explore both parks. For us, we came here straightaway after our flight landed and we arrived at about 10:30am after over an hour's drive. Yes, it might sound exhausting but we really wanted to make full use of every day we had on this 5D4N trip.
Even though Safari World's website is not a very comprehensive one and only provides the basic information, it won't be hard to navigate your way around the park because of the maps provided (you can also find it in the brochure given at the entrance). Guide maps like the one below, which you can see in the parks, indicate clearly the locations of the various animal exhibits, the show venues, restaurants, toilets and other facilities available.
There are also directional signboards that are written in Thai, English and Chinese to help visitors to find their way around easily.
The animal shows are one of the highlights at Safari World so if you can, do try to include at least a couple of them during your visit. We wanted to watch the Elephant show but alas the show venue was too far from where we were at that time (11:40am) and though we were right outside the Cowboy Stunt show, the boy heard the loud noises which included gunshots and cowboys yelling yeehaw so he got scared and didn't want us to enter. However, we did manage to catch the Dolphin show which was pretty awesome and impressive, which I'll share more of below.
First, I want to tell you more about the unique highlight at Safari World and that is... there is a drive through where you can come up close with the animals! You can either rent a car and drive in yourself, arrange for a private car transfer, take a taxi and ride in, or go on the coach tours offered at Safari World too.
For us, we were very blessed that our local friend was able to meet us that day so he took us for a ride in his car. Since we wanted to take things at a leisurely pace, we took our time to stop and admire each and every animal species, even winding down our windows so we could have an clear, unobstructed view and even be able to say "Hello" to all the friendly animals. This was probably something we couldn't have done if we were riding in the coach. Phew!
I can't tell you how ecstatic the kids were to see the animals and they just kept talking all at once and scrambling to see the animals on either side of the window. Every time they spotted an animal - it doesn't matter what animal - they would squeal in joy and ask everyone to come and see too! Thankfully, no one seemed whiny or tired after the flight and we were off to a great start for our expedition.
Now, our hearts started to beat a little faster when we entered a tall gate which was fenced up at both sides and saw the words "Do not wind down your windows". Guess who we were going to meet?
Yup, the lions! Alas most of them were sleeping and though I was hoping that they were just tired after the feeding show in the morning, it would be hard to deny that they seemed a little drugged and all they wanted to do was lie down and rest. We did hear that Safari World got into some controversy a few years back over its treatment of animals but I sincerely hoped they had learnt a lesson and started treating the animals the way they deserve to be treated.
On the other hand, the tigers seemed much more alert and would look at us when we drove past. A couple of them were also walking around or swimming in the waters and it was definitely a first for us to get so up close to these supposedly ferocious, man-eating creatures.
The whole drive through took us about 40 minutes and subsequently, we explored the rest of the park on foot. For those of you with young kids, you can consider renting these dolphin strollers which are cute to the max and very affordable too!
Our first stop was to find lunch since it was almost noon and it took us a while because there were just so many distractions along the way. From animal statues which make great photo opportunities....
and a colourful train that kids can climb on board...
to a river filled with colourful boats and graceful swans...
and roaming animal mascots too!
Note that these mascots kind of expect that you give them a tip after you take a photo. It doesn't have to be a lot and a little will go a long way to make their day.
We checked out one of the restaurants and saw that they were serving a normal lunch buffet. However, the prices were considerably exorbitant and a lunch would cost our family of five over a thousand baht. So we decided to give it a miss and see what else we could find. And thankfully we did so because we soon came across these 'Fast Food' stalls near the river which were selling local delights at much affordable prices.
For instance, we ordered this Pork Leg Rice for just 80 baht, which is just slightly over SGD3. Cheap, right? It was also quite tasty and very filling too!
Our favourite was the Rungsit Boat noodles (beef/pork) which had such an authentic Thai flavour to it and even the kids loved it so much that we ordered a second helping. It was fascinating to see how the Thai ladies would cook the noodles on their boats, pick out the raw vegetables and serve you a bowl of piping hot soup noodles. You can choose if you prefer bee hoon or kway teow and if your kids are like us and love fishballs, you can also ask for a bowl of fishballs soup too. Yummy!
We also ordered a plate of Phad Thai and drinks and to total up, the whole lunch cost us less than 400 baht which is pretty amazing considering that we were at a tourist attraction. Yup, you can never find food at such prices in Singapore attractions.
After lunch, we continued with our exploration enthusiastically and more energetically, woohoo! There was this Adventure Island where you can play in carnival games and win prizes too. Note: Prizes means stuffed toys and more stuffed toys. The good thing is the games are not expensive so if you have time to spare, you can let the kids have some fun here.
Right outside Adventure Island, we saw a crowd forming and went to take a look at the commotion. Well, they were doing the touristy thing by letting park visitors take photos with real live orangutans and tiger cubs, which they will put it in a nice frame and let you bring home.
Very touristy, right?
Well, and so....
We did that touristy thing. All because the kids said they would like to take a photo with a tiger, which seemed totally cool and horrifying at the same time. Even the two-year-old said he wanted to join in too and the hubby suggested that we just let the kids do it, which made it sound even more horrifying to me. Haha.
Unlike what we see in some other zoos, these tiger cubs looked very sober, not groggy, and they were also able to focus on drinking their milk from the milk bottles. Yup, sounds cute, right? Wait till you see the size of the supposedly 'baby' tiger that my kids carried.
Yup, it was big and long enough to lay across all of their laps. The big girl was tasked to take the bottle and feed the cub (you can see that its eyes are open!), the little sister was to hold its body, and the toddler was asked to just sit in the middle and smile. Haha. The big girl got scratched a little at the end of it because the cub's nails were so long! But if you were to ask her if she would do it again, she would definitely say yes. I mean, how many times does this kind of opportunity come across in your life?
Anyway, for those of you who wanna know, it costs 700 baht to do this but they do give you quite a pretty Safari World photo frame (made of cardboard, okay? Don't expect too much) along with your photo.
After that, we had slightly over half an hour to spare while waiting for the Dolphin show to begin. Not wanting to waste any precious time, we decided to continue exploring instead of going to the amphitheater to get good seats. That was when we came across this boat ride called River Safari. It reminded us of our own Amazon River Quest in our Singapore River Safari and the lady at the counter told us that this was a 'very nice' ride which would allow us to see 'many animals' and thus strongly recommended it.
It took us a while to consider because the price tag at 350 baht per person (over SGD14) for a 15-minute ride was steep. Even though the littlest did not require a ticket, it would still amount to a significant sum and we were hesitant if we should do it. Well, we shrugged our shoulders and said "Let's just try" and paid the price before making our way in.
It was likely a sign when we saw that there wasn't much people taking the ride and no one was in the queue before us. Nonetheless, we set off with high hopes of seeing some animals that we otherwise might have missed if we were not on the boat.
There were NO ANIMALS. Okay, no real ones. All the animals we saw on the ride were fake animal statues and that was clearly one thing that we were not informed of when we bought the tickets. I'm not sure if we should laugh or cry and the only consolation was that these..
Weekends are precious family time to us. That is because we don't get to spend time with the navy hubby on most weekdays so weekends are extra special and important. Being the sporty and outdoorsy type, we love to bring the kids to try out new experiences, come up close with nature and create fun, lasting memories as a family.
There aren't that many places in Singapore that can keep us occupied for a whole day, and I do mean over 12 hours when I say that, and still make the kids yearn for more. Over the first weekend of June, thanks to One Faber Group, we had the opportunity to visit some awesome places in Faber Peak and Sentosa and it was such a phenomenal experience that I think the kids will be talking about it for a long time to come. From riding on cable cars, scaling Sentosa Merlion's head and whizzing down Luge to spotting butterflies, feasting on local delicacies and admiring a breathtaking night show set against the open sea, we did so much in the span of a day and despite the scorching weather, every bit of it was so enjoyable for everyone.
In this post, I will be sharing with you more about the attractions we visited, the fun activities you can look forward to at each of them as well as some exciting ongoing promotions. If you are wondering where to head to for your next family visit, this might just be for you!
Before we start, here's a video where you can take a look at all the fun we had and things we did!
Family Fun Day with One Faber Group - YouTube
SINGAPORE CABLE CAR
The first time we went on the cable car as a family of five was over a year ago. The fact that the baby boy loved it so much and couldn't stop squealing in joy during the ride made it an obvious choice for us to sign up for the Faber Licence membership which grants us unlimited rides on both the Mount Faber Line and Sentosa Line all year round. Since then, we've been taking the cable car quite frequently but guess what, it still never fails to thrill the kids every time.
They love to pretend that they are on a mini roller coaster ride, they love to have a private karaoke session inside our cabin, they love to look out over the sea and enjoy the aerial view of Sentosa - like how they will always spot the majestic Sentosa Merlion, the unmistakable Battlestar Galatica ride in Universal Studios and the charming dolphins in Adventure Cove.
After every ride, the boy will never fail to say the same three words. Yes, every single time. He will put up his index finger to his cute little face, give that doe-eyed expression and say sweetly "One more time?"
I remember that we went up the towering 37-metre tall Sentosa Merlion for the very first time back in 2014. It was such a memorable experience for our family and when my kindergartner, who was just a toddler when she visited, had to do a Show and Tell presentation this year, she chose to talk about the Singapore Merlion as one of her favourite Singapore landmarks. It made her feel proud to be able to relate her experience to her teachers and classmates in school.
At that time, we could only go up to the Mouth Gallery as the Head Gallery was temporarily closed. After patiently waiting for another opportunity to visit, this time round, we were thrilled to get the chance to set foot on both of them! It actually felt quite surreal to finally be standing on the crown of this iconic Merlion and enjoy a panoramic view of the island - even though you can't really tell you are on the head when you are there.
There are also new activities available at the Merlion which make use of interactive, virtual reality elements. For example, you can colour your own Merlion and watch it come to life on the big screen, you can play a VR game to learn about the symbolic design of the Merlion, and you can scan a QR code at the entrance and let the kids take part in an interactive web game (which can also be downloaded at https://buildxcape.com/).
It was also an educational experience for the kids to watch a four-minute animated video about how Singapore used to be a fishing village before being discovered by Sang Nila Utama back in 1299. You can even see the Merlion swimming around in the sea!
The biggest highlight for the kids at the Merlion was receiving a shiny prosperity coin as a keepsake. Yes, thankfully they could have one each, if not, I bet they would be snatching over this meaningful treasure!
SPUDS & APRONS
We took the cable car back to Faber Peak for our lunch at Spuds & Aprons. You can choose to have your meal in the comfort of the air-conditioned Dining Room or relax at the alfresco Garden. The view from the top of the hill was stunning and we were very impressed by how the design of the bistro was done in order to accommodate the tall, heritage trees on Faber Peak - which can be seen growing through the floors and ceilings. See what I mean below?
The kids were thrilled to find a koi pond and even more so when they could feed the fishes (fish food is sold in the souvenir shop next door). It was definitely a good way to keep them occupied and happy before the food came!
Talking about the food, you would expect that it would cost quite a little since this is a tourist attraction after all and you get to enjoy the lovely views from the top of the hill. On the day that we visited Spuds & Aprons, the restaurant was serving a limited menu due to ongoing renovations for a new dining concept that will be launched this September. Hence, the menu didn't have as many options as I would have loved to see and there wasn't any kids menu available too. Nonetheless, we tried out some of the more popular dishes including Stress-free Angus ($42), Tobiko Crusted Cod ($36), Oven Roasted Mustard Marinated Chicken ($23), Happy Chicken Wings ($20) and Signature Crab Linguini ($26).
Our thumbs up unanimously went to the Tobiko Crusted Cod because the cod fillet was tender and cooked perfectly, the green tea soba noodles were springy and made a nice combination with the zest from the ponzu sauce. The char-grilled Angus Ribeye would rank second but the Crab linguini, which was supposed to come with a crispy soft shell crab and chilli crab sauce, didn't exactly live up to the hubby's expectations. Thankfully, the drinks helped to make up for it and the hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed our Yuzu Mutley's Mojito and Lychee Jell-O-Bomb-Tini.
On a side note, I have to give credit to the staff for being prompt to respond when the toddler accidentally spilled his cup of orange juice and they were so kind as to give him another full cup too - which totally made his day.
If you haven't been to Faber Peak yet, you totally should because not only is it a nice place to dine and chill out, there are plenty of photo taking spots and touristy things to do too - for instance, you can ring the Bell of Happiness, write on a Wishing Bell, take a photo in the stationary cable car or on a flight of rainbow stairs too!
BUTTERFLY PARK & INSECT KINGDOM
If you've seen our video about our visit to the Carnival of Butterflies previously, you would know how my kids lovvveeee butterflies, and in fact all kinds of creepy crawlies. They love to see them, they love to observe them, they love to hold them and they can just spend the whole afternoon interacting with them. Did you know that butterflies only have a two-week lifespan? Such fleeting beauty makes them even more magical and beautiful, don't you think so?
Anyway, the kids were thrilled to be visiting Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom for the first time and this was something that they looked forward to all week before our visit. We managed to learn about the differences between moths and butterflies, how to distinguish them, and also came up close with cocoons and chrysalises too. The little girl had the chance to hold one of the latter in her palm and could even feel it wriggling its body too!
As for the butterflies, we must have been a tad unlucky that day because we only spotted a couple of alive ones flying around - we also spotted dead ones being eaten up by ants. Sob. I was half thinking that the girls were gonna be so disappointed because they had imagined they would see dozens of butterflies. Thankfully, we managed to have an animal encounter which was really fun and exciting. Guess what animals we came up close with?
Parrots! Huge ones too! They were pretty heavy but luckily the girls could carry them long enough for me to take pictures. By the way, we had to pay a token fee of $5 in order to take the pictures but since the staff allowed us to take as many as we liked, we thought that was a really reasonable price. There was another place near Madam Tussauds which quoted us $25 for one photo!
The surprise came when the hubby was told he could carry this gigantic iguana for the photo taking too, and trust me, it was humongous! There were other visitors who got scared by its sheer size and the hubby was one of the brave ones who picked it up without squirming at all - some of the others gave up when they felt its skin. Watch my video above to see more of this gentle giant! I was so happy we managed to take this family shot, even though the inquisitive toddler couldn't stop staring at the animals.
Being the bug lovers they are, the kids were also excited to get the chance to spot all kinds of creatures in their enclosures - from spiders and worms to stick insects and scorpions. We even saw a real-life tarantula too!
If you are interested to find out more about butterfly and other insects, there is an informative gallery at the second half of the journey that showcases the different types of species. It also makes a good way for the kids to wind down after the fun, exhilarating first half too.
This was something I've been wanting to try again ever since we did it for the first time a couple of years ago - whizzing down the slopes on the Luge! This time round, I had one more kid with me which meant that we can't split up evenly (yes, happens when you have an odd number of kids). Thankfully, the firstborn is now tall enough to ride solo (you have to be over 110cm and at least 6 years old) so it was a milestone for her on a personal level too.
Even though the queue was long on that day and we had to wait over half an hour for our turn, I was so glad we managed to do it! It wasn't without difficulty though, because the toddler was falling asleep and we had to keep coming..
When we were planning for a holiday, we initially thought of flying back to Europe to reminisce the good old times but taking a family of five on a vacation that far just didn't seem that friendly on our pockets. It wasn't hard for us to decide that we wanted to bring the kids to a place that wasn't too near yet not far away so that we wouldn't have to spend too much on air tickets.
Bangkok was quit the obvious choice for us but as the only time the hubby and I had been to this capital city together was before we even got married, I had no idea if it would be a suitable one to visit with three young kids in tow.
Let's just say my perception of this city changed almost entirely after our visit because..... it turned out to be a fun-filled paradise for the little ones with all the family-friendly attractions. The kids had such a blast, thanks to our child-centric itinerary that didn't involve shopping or massages, and we are pretty sure that we will visit again in the near future.
If there are a few things I learnt about Bangkok from this short 5D4N trip, they are:
1) This city is much more family-friendly than I expected and there are many activities to keep the little ones engaged and entertained. 2) 5-star luxury hotels are suddenly quite affordable (we booked ours for less than SGD300 a night). 3) The streets, though busy, are not as dangerous as I thought. 4) The BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), or so called the Skytrain which is very much like our MRT, makes it easy and convenient to travel from place to place. 5) The stations are stroller-friendly and accessible via lifts. 6) Taking the taxi is really cheap (we took a 20min ride near midnight for less than SGD4), just make sure you ask the driver to charge by the meter. 7) The flight takes merely 2 hours 20 mins and even faster if there is no turbulence. We didn't even have much time to finish our flight meals, haha. 8) It definitely makes a great family travel destination, even if you have young kids!
In this overview of our trip, I will share with you our itinerary and in the next few weeks, I will be writing more detailed posts to share about our experiences and all the fun places we visited, so stay tuned if you wish to find out more.
We stayed in two hotels which are both located in the city area, namely Grande Centre Point Ratchadamri and Oriental Residence. The former is a short 5-minute walk from Ratchadamri BTS and it is a luxury hotel that boasts of a widespread, delightful continental breakfast and kids facilities such as a playroom and small indoor playground.
The latter, which is a 10-minute walk from Ploen Chit BTS, is one that we fell in love with because it feels like a home away from home and our cosy two-bedroom suite was simply heavenly. I will be sharing a review about it soon so you can have a closer look around the suite and read about how we celebrated Father's Day too.
DAY 1 - SAFARI WORLD AND CENTRAL WORLD NIGHT MARKET
We landed at 8:00am on the first day and made our way straight to Safari World! It comprises of two parks - Safari Park and Marine Park, and there is a drive-through section where you can drive your own car in, take a taxi in or go on their coach tours. Anyway, I have to tell you how happy I am to realise that we get to enjoy significant discounts whenever we book our attraction tickets on Klook. We booked our Safari World tickets here and as you can see, it is pretty straightforward and hassle free to select and purchase the package that you prefer. We were very thankful that our local friend, Art, was able to meet us and accompany us for the day! I will share with you more about what we saw and did soon (for one, we went into a tiger's den and came real close to the ferocious animals), you bet the kids had lots of fun!
Alas, we got caught in a jam in the evening when we were making our way to the hotel. Our friend told us that the roads are usually very congested, especially on Friday evenings (which was exactly when we got stuck) so taking the BTS might get us from place to place faster. It took us over two hours to get back to town and by the time we wanted to head out for dinner past 9pm, many of the restaurants were already closed. It was a blessing in disguise because in the end, we walked a distance to get to Central World and there was a bustling night market right outside the mall.
We had Tom Yum soup, Phad Thai, grilled fish, grilled prawns (which were huge!), satay, kebabs, fried chicken, ice cream served in fresh coconuts, and lots of fresh fruit juices! It was truly a satisfying, and not expensive, meal in exactly the kind of environment that the hubby likes. It also reminded me of the time when we brought the kids to a night market in Taipei a couple of years ago and that gave us many fond memories too. We really ought to immerse more in the local culture whenever we travel, right?
DAY 2 - CHATUCHAK MARKERT AND SEA LIFE
Talking about local culture, I think the one popular tourist destination that we couldn't miss out was Chatuchak weekend market. Seriously, I already knew the crowd would be crazy and it would be quite crazy to attempt to bring three kids to squeeze with everyone. But still, WE DID IT! It wasn't really for the shopping, it was more so the kids could understand more about the local flavour and not just visit attractions. Yup, we took the BTS to and fro, found our way to the market by following the crowd, squeezed through the stalls for a couple of hours, tried to bargain for some shirts and matching family tees, ate at the roadside stalls (we had sticky mango rice and fishball noodles!) while standing under an umbrella and braved the sudden downpour.
After that, we went on to visit Sea Life which is located inside Siam Paragon. We knew the kids would love this place inside out but we didn't expect that it would take us six hours just to finish exploring it. It kind of reminds me of our S.E.A aquarium but bigger and better. We even had the opportunity to ride a glass bottom boat ride and watch a 4-D show too (more to come in my write-up!). Our tickets were booked via Klook and not only did we get the package at a cheaper price, I could also cut short on the waiting time (the normal queue would have taken me half an hour) because they had a separate queue for online bookings and I was the second one there.
DAY 3 - OPEN HOUSE AND ASIATIQUE
On our third day, after having a hearty breakfast, we checked into Oriental Residence and spent a good part of the afternoon just enjoying our suite. We ordered in-room dining, watched TV, let the little one take a nap on the comfy bed while the other two played hide and seek, celebrated Father's Day before we made our way to explore the vicinity.
Thanks to the recommendation of our friend Eddie who blogs at Stranger in Bangkok and has lived here for the past nine years, we had a meet up at this place called Open House in Central Embassy which has a very unique concept that allows guests to shop, eat, read, relax, chill and there is also a playground for the little ones too. Yup, everything in one place!
After dinner, we made our way to Saphan Taksin BTS and boarded a free boat ride along Chao Phraya river to Asiatique The Riverfront - Bangkok's fusion night market. It turned out to be one of the best decisions ever because there was a carnival and the kids enjoyed themselves much at the activities which included a Giant Drop, VR ride, game stalls, ATV ride and more. The kids and I also took a ride on the iconic Ferris Wheel too because well, I just had to!
DAY 4 - KIDZANIA
The next day was a highlight for the kids because we had a whole day of fun at Kidzania Bangkok which offers over 70 activities! Admission prices were also much cheaper as compared to Singapore and you can get them at even lower prices when you book on Klook (each ticket costs just slightly over SGD20!). I will be writing a separate post to show you more of the activities we did and how they differ from our Kidzania but the best part has to be that the place is toddler-friendly and even offers a long list of activities for my 2-year-old to join in!
Our last dinner in Bangkok was supposed to be at Little Zoo Cafe with our friends who just arrived the day before since I knew the kids would all be ecstatic over the furry animals. Alas, things didn't go as planned when we realised that we might have to wait for hours for our turn. Yes, the queue was that long! It didn't help that it was raining and more people were flocking to the cafe, so we decided to skip it this time round and made our way to a nearby Japanese-Korean restaurant called EbiSensei near Siam Square to enjoy a BBQ buffet.
DAY 5 - HOME SWEET HOME
The day before we departed, we had a nice family time at the pool, enjoyed a beer and a mocktail while the kids also played a game of table soccer. As you can sense by now, we don't like to rush things through and our itinerary is rather sparse so that we can have ample time to explore each place instead of cramming many different destinations or activities within the same day. When it was time to get to DMK airport for our return flight, we booked a taxi through the hotel concierge and the one-hour ride cost us 800 baht (over SGD30). However, it was a huge, comfy car with lots of space for us to stretch and relax even after putting in all the luggage and barang barang. In addition, the uncle who drove us was so nice and smiley so we had a really pleasant ride to the airport as we bade farewell to the city.
Well, that basically sums up what we did on our 5D4N trip to Bangkok and I'm glad this holiday turned out to be a smashing success even though everything was planned at the last minute (as usual, it's what happens when you are a navy wife). I'm really excited to share with you more of our experiences and travel tips so check this page for more updates in the upcoming weeks!
Bangkok Itinerary Day 1 - Safari World and Central World Night Market Day 2 - Chatuchak and Sea Life Day 3 - Open House and Asiatique Day 4 - Kidzania
Disclosure: We are very thankful to have sponsors for this trip, including Oriental Residence who hosted our stay and Kidzania Bangkok who hosted our media visit, as well as Klook who collaborated with us for the attraction tickets. All the links to Klook are affiliate links. All photos and opinions are purely our own.
"LIFE isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to DANCE in the rain."
You know, no matter how many happy pictures I might post on the blog and on social media, the fact is life is never a bed of roses for anyone. I face the same trials and tribulations that all mums do and some days can be more trying and tougher to get through than the rest.
May was a period filled with challenges and also a time when I found myself tearing up more than usual, to the extent that I started questioning if I was a good mum or if I was even doing things right as a parent in the first place. Yup, to be frank, I was sobbing into the pillow on Mother's Day itself because one of the kids broke my heart and it makes you realise that life doesn't give you a break just because you think it is a special day.
Then again, the rainbow is only so beautiful because it comes after a rain, right? I mean, it might be nice to have a journey only full of ups, unicorns, cupcakes and all things nice and sweet. But how else will you be able to better appreciate it unless you go through the downs and all the moments that strove to tear you apart? That is why I believe that a life full of ups and downs is exactly the life that is meant for each of us and that is also how we learn to better cherish the beauty of joy, love, health , friendship and family.
So when the storm comes, and I know it will keep coming, I'm going to try to learn to dance in the rain instead of waiting for it to pass. I want to make use of all the bad moments and turn them into the best learning experiences. For every tear I shed, I want it to be worth its while. For every time I break down, I will rise up higher, better and stronger than before.
And you know what gives me the motivation to keep going when the going gets tough? It's the happy moments, the moments when the kids make me feel loved more than anything I've felt in my entire life, the moments when things seem to be fall into place and I seem to be doing an okay job, the moments that make me burst out in laughter and warm my heart so deep and so real, the moments that remind me these kids need me to teach and guide them in life just as they have taught me about living unknowingly, the moments that I know I live for because they remind me just how purposeful, blissful and beautiful my life is. Here's a look at May's "Happiness is..." and what we did this month.
On Mother's Day, the kids presented me with flower pop-up cards which we learnt to make together, notes, flowers and rings and bracelets made using pipe cleaners. We had a simple dinner celebration at home with our parents as well as the extended family just to give all the mothers a pat on the back. Haha. I don't wish for this day to be overly special nor do I crave for a lavish celebration, but I do hope that the kids will always remember to write me a note and say "I love you, Mama". Do you think that would be too much to ask for? I'm not really sure, you know, but let's see how it goes.
The hubby, being the sportsperson he is, took us out for a sporty family day at Temasek Club. We played badminton, we played ball, we skipped, then we went for swimming and water play before we made our way for karaoke with the in-laws. Yup, it was such a jam packed but fun-filled day! I swear I can fit into smaller jeans if we do this regularly, the only thing is it's so hard to make it a weekend habit. Haha. #excuses
The kids had lots of fun and couldn't stop laughing at themselves when they tried to go superman style facing up into the water when they were sliding. It was because I suggested for them to try something different and I wanted them to know that sometimes it's okay not to follow the rules, so long as you don't endanger anybody. It ended up that the three of them kept screaming in joy and taking turns to do it over and over again that I ended up catching some of their best and happiest moments on camera. Woohoo! That reminds me, I have so much catching up to do for their growing up videos but gosh, time never seems to be enough, does it?
I was using ice cream sticks to teach the toddler his colours and let him try sorting them out when I saw that the little sister had her own ideas instead. She proceeded to use the sticks to piece together so many different pictures and it was really awesome to see how she could make use of her own creativity. Goes to show that sometimes, we parents just need to take a step back, watch, hold our tongues and just learn to let go, right? Yup, I think I'm still working on that and I've a long way to go.
The K2 girl was assigned a family project and she wanted to do a painting on Singapore landmarks, namely the three that she chose herself - the Merlion, Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Flyer. We took a few weeks to complete this, thanks to Teacher Syafiq of Heart Studio who helped us to get started, and it was wonderful seeing how this girl had the passion to do what she does. She had to do a formal Show & Tell session on her finished work and I was so proud that she could memorise almost everything from her cue cards and she proudly told me she was the first one in her class to do the presentation. Awww, way to go, Ariel!
These two younger ones have been bickering more often nowadays yet they also show their love for each other in the sweetest ways. She never fails to give him a kiss when she goes to school, he never fails to look and ask for her when she is not around, they hold hands and play hide and seek when we are out, she picks him up whenever he falls, he looks for her for a hug whenever I chide him, and even though they also snatch over toys or even get into fights at times, I'm just so glad they have each other to spend most of each day with.
Guess where we went, like AGAIN? Haha, yes, LEGOLAND Malaysia. Like I said, it's one of our favourite holiday destinations and before the kids outgrow all the kiddy rides here, I hope we can still come here often. This time round, it was made even more special because we came with our friends and their kids (who all knew my kids because they are from the same schools). We stayed together in a 3-bedroom apartment in Somerset Medini (each family ended up paying less than a hundred bucks per night), we visited the parks together, we drove out for seafood together, we played in the arcade together, we played card games and chilled out over beer and cider when the kids were all asleep. This is the kind of holiday which will stay etched in our minds for a long time to come and I know the kids were all so happy to be with their friends.
It was also a milestone for Asher who went on his first drive! Okay, he did it at least four times in the end but you know how special the first time always is, right? This boy, who could barely reach the pedal with his foot, amazed us by not being scared to go in along, by how he kept trying to start the car when it stopped, by how he could maneuver around the bends like a pro and how he was focused the entire time. You should see how the hubby and I were ecstatic cheerleaders as we kept screaming and cheering for him at the side. Yup, it's really awesome to be here for all their little milestones in life and these are the moments that really warm my heart and make me smile from within.
The hubby turned a year wise this month and he is just year short of turning 40. Haha, oops, I just revealed his age. Anyway, we bought him two pairs of shorts, an expresso cup and lots of coffee capsules but the fun part was when the girls and I came up with his treasure hunt where we gave him clues to hunt for his present. He would have to guess a place in the house each clue referred to, move there and look for the next hidden clue, and solve a total of five clues before he could find all the gifts stashed away in the..... washing machine. Haha. It was really fun and the girls loved preparing every bit of it!
It might be his birthday but the hubby decided to reward the girls and I too by kind of 'forcing' us to go and watch Toruk even though I said repeatedly I didn't want to. I mean, what kind of wife am I to spend the hubby's birthday afternoon away from him to watch a show that, in my view, costs a bomb? Well, that's the thing. He insisted he wanted to be with the boy and proceeded to book the tickets so that the girls and I had the luxury of watching this 2-hour show in peace while they go for water play nearby. Very sweet of him I know, I just think it might be more worthwhile to keep that money for JJ Lin's concert instead. Haha. Still, thanks for the opportunity for this long missed girls outing, dear!
Last but not least, another fond highlight of May was when I finally sat down to do something fun with the kids - DIY lava lamps! Some of you have been asking about this so I hope I can write a post on it soon. The kids had so much fun doing this over and over again and it was nice to remember how the simple things in life can bring about the best kind of joy.
So, it's the June holidays now and I'm the kind of parent who loves school holidays because it gives me more time to be with the kids, to sleep late with them and wake up late too. Haha. What's not to like about it? I have more hands to help me with the chores too, like how I've already told them tomorrow is laundry day and they are going to help me hang and fold the clothes.
That said, we do have a family vacation coming up next week and for the first time in two years, we're gonna take the plane together! Till more updates on that and do stay in touch with us on social media too!
Being a mum of three, I have dealt with my fair share of public tantrums, I have battled wild, unrestrainable behaviour from these sweet-looking beings, I have come to realise that motherhood throws you more curveballs than you can ever count and nothing ever goes as planned. Thankfully, it seems like most of us mums seem to know how this feels and knowing that we are not alone on this boat gives us the strength and courage to go on.
One thing I've always reminded myself when it comes to motherhood is - never judge another parent, not a dear friend who just became a new mum, not an acquaintance whose kids are behaving like terrors, and definitely not a stranger on the street who might just be having a really bad day.
The truth is, no mum is ever perfect. Be it working mums, stay-at-home mums or work from home mums, we are all just trying to be the best that we can be under our own unique circumstance and no parenting philosophy should be deemed as more superior or more effective than another.
There is a topic I've wanted to talk about for a long time but didn't quite know how to approach it so it has been sitting in my drafts all this while. It's about how I emphasize that mealtimes are for family bonding and how I try to make it a time when the family not only sits and eats together, but we talk, we laugh, we learn and most importantly, we bond.
You see, we dine out quite often and there are some scenarios the kids and I witnessed which are etched so deeply in my mind that I keep reminding myself that this is not how I want our family to be. I'm not meaning to say if it's good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, but I am saying that this is not the path I wish to take when it comes to our mealtimes.
1) We were at a Chinese restaurant celebrating my mil's birthday. Seated at the next round table beside us was a family made up of grandparents, mums, dads, and a couple of teens and kids. Out of 10 of them, 8 were using their phones or tablets. It wasn't just for a brief while, but a considerable period of time during that reunion meal. Guess who were the ones without? Well, the grandparents.
2) The kids and I were eating zi char at a coffeeshop in our neighbourhood. I'm usually so occupied with trying to feed the toddler and nag at the elder ones to eat their food while gulping down a few mouths of my own food that I don't really have time to observe other diners around me. But this time, there was this mother-and-son pair seated beside us that caught our attention. Not because of what they were saying, but because of what they were not. The son, a teenager, had his headphones on the whole time during that meal and thus didn't speak a single word to his mum. When we finally heard him speak, it was to say "I'm done" and he proceeded to leave the table, leaving the mum to finish up her food before she left too.
3) We often see this pair of elderly with their granddaughter at this food court that we go regularly. From the looks, built and the uniform, the girl looks to be in kindergarten and around 5-6 years of age. Perhaps it's not so bad that she is constantly on her iPad throughout the meal, swiping across the screens and selecting videos to play on YouTube, what affected me more was how the granddad would feed her every mouth of her food, till the very last drop, while she just uses her hands to control the tablet.
There are many more cases that we've come across but these were the ones that made a deeper impact in my mind. You know, I can really understand if parents give the kids the phone or tablets for a while, for instance when they go and buy food, when the kids have finished eating or if the parents have something urgent to discuss. By all means, go ahead. Or if it's been just a really tiring or terrible day and you need to have some quiet time to eat your food, I get it too when you turn to the electronic babysitters for help. But to make it a habit throughout mealtimes, to the extent that the family interacts less and less with one another but instead more and more with the devices, that is a no-no for me.
That is why, as best as I can, we ban all phones and TVs (we don't have iPads so that is no issue for now) whenever it is time to have a meal together. It's not really a hard and fast rule because sometimes the hubby needs to answer to his boss urgently, sometimes there is a really nice show on TV that we would like to watch, and sometimes I whip out my phone to take videos of the kids and their silly antics. Nonetheless, for most of the time at least, we are device-free during mealtimes.
So what do we do when we eat?
Be it during homecooked meals or when we eat out, we do the same - we talk! Well, we try not to have food in our mouths when we do so but we always chat as we eat. A simple way to start is to ask the kids about their day, what they did in school, any interesting incident that happened to them or their friends and so on. I would also share with them about my day, what I did with the brother in the morning, any plans for the rest of the day or any errands to run so they could anticipate what to do next. At times, we would also talk about the headline news or community events and try to keep up with what's happening outside of our household. They also like to ask about family history, science and logic, jokes and riddles and basically just anything under the sun.
The amazing thing is most of the time, I don't really have to prompt much because they always have so much to share! Yup, it's usually stories from their schools or about their friends, a movie we just watched, or a memory that we shared and they can talk about it for the longest time (and I end up having to nag at them to remember to eat their food too, lol). Still, I love hearing all their stories and it's what makes me understand them more, be aware of their emotions and stay updated on their everyday happenings too.
I seriously can't think of anything bad about device-free meals and it's surely the way I wish to keep things for now. Habits need to be cultivated and I'm hoping that by keeping this up and instilling it in our family culture, the kids will grow up knowing that this is the way it should be when we eat at meals - to give the family your undivided attention, to make them feel valued and appreciated, to remind yourself of your priorities in life and the need to put first things first.
Talking about phones and technology, for those of you who missed it, I went on a live interview with Guo Liang and Mei Lan on Channel 8's 狮城有约 Hello Singapore.
I wouldn't have travelled across the island to Mediacorp with three kids in tow (thanks to the staff for helping to keep an eye on them during my recording) if it wasn't for a topic that was close to my heart. Yup, we don't get paid for going on such interviews even though they do reimburse our travel expenses. It's really about having the interest and passion to share on the topic and this was one that I knew I couldn't bring myself to reject.
It would probably take me another lengthy blog post to explain why my beliefs are anchored this way and a good part of it was due to the fact that I gave birth in a foreign country and witnessed the differences in culture when it comes to kids and technology. To be clear, I'm not against technology (hello, family blogger here!) but I do think it is imperative that as parents, we learn to embrace it and wield this double-edged sword in order to forge, not destroy, family bonds.
To watch the full interview which is conducted in Mandarin (是的，讲华文哦), go here.
You are the best Mama in the world, we mean it when we say it. We see how hard you work for our family, we see how exhausted you are from taking care of us, we see how your tears fall quietly and you wipe them off when things get a little too much to bear, we see how you try best to put on a smile so that you don't make us worry for you, we see how tough it gets when the chores are so demanding and your hands are never enough, we see how difficult it gets when Papa is often away and you have to face us around the clock, we see, we hear, we feel, we know and we understand it ain't easy being you.
That is why we hope you will know that when we say you are the best Mama, we don't expect you to be the perfect mum, if there is such a thing in the first place. Just like how we have our classic tantrums and extra whiny days, you have your bad moments too and you know what, it is TOTALLY okay. Don't beat yourself so much over the little things you do wrong because the truth is they don't bother us more than they bother you and us being kids means we forgive and forget easily. We don't mind and don't remember the 'bad' things you think you did but we do know how hard you try to be a good mum for us. You love us so much that it hurts you at times, you are willing to give up everything for us and you are the one who keeps our world spinning. That is the reason why, in our eyes, you will always be the best.
So Mama, please know that it's really okay and don't feel guilty over the things that don't matter the next day or things that only make you human. You are not a saint, you are not a robot, you are just our very ordinary yet somewhat extraordinary Mummy. Guilt is not an emotion we am familiar with so we don't you hanging out with it too often too, yeah?
It's okay that you decide to watch Netflix after we go to bed instead of catching up on your rest. We know you need your downtime and it's the only time you can enjoy some peace and quiet in the house. Even though it makes you more tired when you wake up in the morning, you always make sure we have our breakfasts and that we get to school on time. So Mama, it's really okay.
It's okay that you don't cook for us every day and that we need to eat out or have takeaways. We see how much effort goes into each simple meal you prepare and that cleaning up can be a real hassle. We know some days, you feel more tired than usual and you just don't have the motivation to cook. Anyway, we love dining out with you and a little more salt and flavouring isn't a big deal. So Mama, it's really okay.
It's okay that our house is messy on most, if not all, days. We know we contribute to the bulk of the mess and we don't expect you to clean up after us too. Yes, we know your constant nagging for us to learn to be responsible will do us good someday and we are aware that we need to do our part to help too, so please don't take it all upon yourself. It takes time and we are okay with living with unmopped floors, dirty windows and bedsheets which haven't been changed for weeks. So Mama, it's really okay.
It's okay that you don't have much time to teach us or do art and craft with us nowadays even though we know you earnestly wish to. Life was much easier when the number of kids was not more than your number of hands and you had more pockets of free time with us. You don't have to feel envious by seeing how some of the amazing mums out there seem to hold it all together and have time to teach, homeschool or craft with their kids. You teach us all about life and what it means to be a good person in your own ways and we don't ask you for more too. So Mama, it's really okay.
It's okay that we don't travel as much as before or that we don't go on long family vacations nowadays. We know that these holidays cost you and Papa a bomb and actually, we have never complained that you don't bring us to see more of the world. It was you who felt bad that as more kids came, the travels reduced but you know what, we are happy to go anywhere as long as we are together. Even a trip to Sentosa is good enough for us and means more than you know. So Mama, it's really okay. It's okay that you don't have much one-on-one time with us because we are always together and it's hard for you to find a caretaker so you can whizz one of us away for a quick date. It will likely get better when we get older and more independent but for now, let's just enjoy the time we have to spend together, especially during our mum-and-kids outings. We love being together with our siblings too (even though we get into fights and arguments so often). So Mama, it's really okay.
It's okay that you can't be absolutely fair to us all the time, even if you try to. Like how only big sister has a scrapbook with her baby pictures, how little sister gets a massage from you every night on her scar, how didi gets to be breastfed for the longest period of time etc. It's also okay for you to ask us to give in sometimes just because you want the fighting to stop. Oh by the way, the bickering only serves to bond us closer to each other at the end of the day so don't worry so much about it, yeah? We promise to love and take care of each other, and we know that you try your best to be impartial and that your love for us is all the same. So Mama, it's really okay.
It's okay that you lose your cool at times and that you shout at us, reprimand us and punish us more than you intended to. We know it's hard to discipline young kids like us and even if we might talk back or refuse to listen to you, deep down in our hearts, we still know you did it for us. Sure, we don't like you to shout at us so much but we know that we are usually the root cause of your emotional turbulence and that we take turns to upset you. You know, it's okay to let it go, to tear, to cry, to bawl, to scream, to punch a pillow, to shout it out, to have an ice cream (or two), to walk away to calm yourself down. You are just like us, Mama, and we don't want you to bottle up all your negative emotions too. So Mama, it's really okay. ****** You see, Mama, no matter what you do, it doesn't change who you are and we know that you LOVEus with every breath you take and every beat of your heart. No matter how tough a day we've had together, how many wrong things we did or how many tears we've shed, we will always remember to hug and kiss each other good night and say "I love you". Because love is the one constant in our family and we want you to know that we love you so much, no matter what happens. So yes Mama, you are more than enough, you are more than what you think you are and you will always be the best Mama in our hearts. We love you to the moon and back a million times. With hugs and kisses, Your adorable kids
It's a little ironic that in our pursuit of happiness and all the good things in life for ourselves and loved ones, we tend to lose sight of the things that truly matter along the way. We think so much about the destination that we forget to admire the scenery along the journey. We hurry through our daily lives, stick to our routines and sometimes, everything becomes a frenzy that we wonder what we've achieved at the end of it. We think far ahead but fail to cherish the present, the today, the now. We forget that that each day is a gift, a gift for us to treasure, to laugh, to love, to live.
The month of April has been an exciting, reflective and meaningful one for me. I turned a year older, I celebrated a decade of marriage and most importantly, I decided to stop in my tracks, take a look at things from a bigger perspective, think about the things I am doing too much/not enough of, and to remind myself of what truly matters to me in my life now.
In this month's "Happiness is...", it's all about taking a step back in order to move forward.
It's easy to forget but I tell myself that while my kids are still young, I wanna let them take priority over other things in my life. That includes blogging, scrolling through social media feeds, trying to read a novel I started on last year, Netflix, couple dates, couple holidays, and so on. That means nowadays, I try my best to not let myself be distracted by the phone or any other matter when I am around them. I want to be fully present, not just with my body but my soul and heart too, when they are beside me. To give them the full attention and undivided love they need, and deserve.
We've been keeping up with our mum-and-kids date nights since the hubby works late nearly every weekday. We watch movies, we visit playgrounds, we go for ice cream treats, we have Sunday breakfast at McDonalds when the hubby is out playing football, and we just enjoy each other's company - provided they are being cooperative and not throwing tantrums or fighting when we are out. Lol. It won't be long before they start wanting to hang out with friends more than mums, right?
I've also been yearning to take them on one-on-one dates and have been thinking of the things I can do with each of them, based on their interests and loves in life (which can be quite different). It's going to be hard because I will need the hubby to look after the other two (good luck, dear!) but let's hope that we can try it out soon.
Weekends, as always, are very precious for us because it is the time when we get together as a family. I have been nagging at the hubby to put away his phone more because the kids don't get much time to interact with him all week so they have been asking me why Daddy has to work such long hours and why does he still use his phone on weekends on they are around him. Oh well, it's gotten us into arguments but I guess he will see things from our perspective somehow.
It's also a reminder that work should never take importance over family and no matter how bogged down he gets at work (I can tell he suffers from high levels of stress daily), it shouldn't affect the relationship with the kids. Likewise for me, chores are my 'work' and part of my daily life as a SAHM, they are never ending, they are tedious and they wear me out. But it should never seem like these so-called tasks are more crucial than me being with the kids. You know what I mean?
I am relieved that we still make time to go outdoors and we had a good Sunday at East Coast Park eating at the food centre, fishing at Bedok Jetty and going on a one-hour ride on the family bike where we just pedaled, pretended we were on a roller coaster ride and sang our hearts out to familiar pop song tunes. That was definitely a moment when we took a step back from the hustle and bustle of life, together as a family.
Talking about taking a step back, it's always awesome to go on a family staycation in Singapore and we haven't done that for a long time. Thanks to kind folks at Shangri-La, we were granted a weekend stay on my actual birthday and the kids had the chance to play at the new Buds playground (read my review here). I can't say I totally rested during that trip because truth be told, any blog collaboration means that I am always running around with my camera in hand, trying my best to capture every moment be it in pictures or on video clips. The worse thing is since I'm not a very good photographer, I try my best to take as many pictures as I can just so I have a huge selection to choose from. Yup, I went home with hundreds of photos and dozens of clips so I could work on that one review post. Not easy as it looks, yeah?
Birthdays, in recent years, are celebrated with the kids, the hubby and my parents. I guess they are the ones closest to me and it's nice to just know that they look forward to celebrating this day with me. The kids give me the sweetest cards and I always look forward to seeing what they will draw for me. For now, they always love to draw our happy family, which I hope means a lot because it shows that they are happy to have me as their mum, just like how I know I am blessed to call them my own too.
It's been a while since I went on a live interview but given how this topic of kids being addicted to smartphones is one close to my heart, I decided to take it on when the editor at "狮城有约 Hello Singapore" rang me up. I've rejected a few requests in the past few years because I didn't feel strongly about the topics and it's hard for me to get a babysitter or get the hubby to take leave last minute. This time round, the good folks at MediaCorp offered to help me keep an eye on the kids in the waiting room while I was in the recording studio, which would take around 40minutes at most. I really wanted to share my views in this matter and in my heart, I knew this was an opportunity that would not come by easily again. Therefore, armed with the big sister's homework for the day, as well as biscuits and candy as distractions for the younger ones, the four of us made our way to the new MediaCorp campus all the way across the island. You can watch a recap of the interview conducted in Chinese at https://bit.ly/2Ha90AY.
In the home, I've been trying to cut down a little on the chores that I have to get through each day and besides closing one eye to dusty floors and messy rooms, another way is for me to outsource them to the kids. Haha. Yup, the 5-year-old was excited to help me prepare our meals and that she got to handle a sharp knife and peeler for the first time. I do think these are important life skills which they pick up in the process and these should matter more than getting full marks in spelling tests, shouldn't they?
We also went to carnivals and had fun at the game stalls, for instance the girls were so thrilled to go into a big bubble in the water and laughed non-stop as they rolled around, the toddler went into a bouncy castle and was the gentlest jumper there, he then played a game of fishing and caught the biggest prize which was a Nemo stuffed toy, and we also tried our luck at this Thunderbolt game which has 36 squares and using 18 tiles of your choice, you have to form at least one straight line (be it horizontal or vertical). It wasn't really about winning for me, it was about playing and having fun together as a family, and making all these priceless memories with my kids during their growing up years.
You probably can also sense that I'm taking a step back when it comes to blogging, even though I know that I won't be able to give it up because writing all my heartfelt stories is a way to keep me sane, to remember and be able to get through those trying moments and to connect with so many of you like-minded mums out there. So, I guess my posts might not come as regularly as before but they will still keep coming whenever I get inspired (and find pockets of time to be able to sit in front of my computer), yeah?
That said, I've taken on another role and that is as a committee member in the Parents Volunteer group in the big girl's new primary school. I was already active in her previous school but this time round, I decided to just roll with it and might as well join the committee. Haha, as if I am not busy enough with three kids and blog, right? I guess I just need a change in lifestyle and a challenge for myself too. Anyway, that means I now need to go for regular meetings with the Principal, Vice Principal, Teachers in charge and fellow members (and I have to bring along a 2yo to the meeting, which I'm very thankful that they allow me to). Real adult interaction for the first time in a long time. Haha. I even had to do a Powerpoint presentation for Teacher's Day because I'm in charge of coming up with gifts for a total of 150 staff. That saw me running around to places like Art Friend and Popular in Bras Basah, Spotlight in Plaza Singapura and a few other places for inspiration - which the kids always saw as an adventure since I have to lug them with me, even on weekday nights.
We have this huge family event coming up soon and as the props I/C, I've been spending my weekday mornings at her school just doing lots of cutting, pasting, sticking, and coming up with all kinds of props needed for the actual day. It is tiring yet fulfilling to be part of a team of committed parents who have the heart to serve (not in order to get our kids into the school because all our kids are already in lor) and I've been inspired by them to put in my best effort for these events. Yup, so Asher goes with me every day and it's nice to see him interacting with other adults and their kids too (who always come and look for us at recess time and they will play with him). The biggest reward is knowing that the firstborn is proud to see Mama putting in so much effort for her school and there is this sense of indescribable joy that we both feel and I think it's something that will bond us too.
Last but not least, the hubby and I celebrated our 10th year of wedding anniversary in April 2018. It's a huge milestone, isn't it? We went for the earliest showing of Avengers at the movie theatres (at 820am!) after dropping the girls in school and getting the in-laws to look after Asher, then made it back in time to pick Ariel before noon.
At night, we went for a nice dinner at House of Crab, who so happened to be celebrating their 10th anniversary too and there was a special promotion ongoing - 2 crabs for just $52!! It was a yummy dinner filled with lots of love - and noise - because the kids were all with us. But, I guess that was the best way to celebrate our special day. The kids and I went to IKEA to get this surprise magnetic board for the hubby and we printed some of our photos onto magnetic paper from Canon too. Each of them also drew a little something on shrinky dink paper which we turned into magnets too.
It would probably be a lie to say that I wasn't at all sad to know that the hubby didn't get anything for me at all. It's not that I needed anything and I have told him before that flowers and lavish gifts are not my kind of thing, but I was still hoping for a handwritten card or just a little something for keepsake since we made it through a decade of love after all.
I guess he got the hint so he did say he will make me a card, which might jolly well arrive a year later, but we'll see how that turns out. Haha. He did point to himself and said he is my best present which is annoying yet true. Yup, I guess as long as that we are together in love, willing and able to work through our differences hand in hand, that we never forget why we got married in the first place, that we both have a desire to keep this family happy and closely-knitted, that we remind ourselves just how rare true love is in this world, that is more than what I can ask for. Till more thoughts on happiness next month!
Hello! I might be blogging a little less recently but just so you know, I will definitely keep it going because this passion remains strong. However, I've been trying hard to prioritise the things I should/need to/want to do and although there is a long list of stuff I wanna check off my to-do list, the fact remains is that I only have 24 hours a day and the bulk of it is already dedicated to looking after and just being with the kids.
Anyway, I still haven't given up on making their growing up videos though I have quite a few years of memories to catch up on. Haha, yes you read right, having three kids now means I have years of video clips and photos to go through and this will take me a long time, but I am gonna do it. This is because we love to sit together and watch all these precious clips and they never fail to bring huge smiles, and sometimes secret tears, on my face. The kids enjoy watching themselves a great deal, especially when they see the younger versions of them that they can barely recognise. Yup, where does all the time go??
Here's the latest compilation for dear Asher, who is now my two-year-old boy that talks a lot (of gibberish sometimes), loves cars and balls, is a darling to the big sisters and is a joy to wake up to every morning (and every middle of the night cos yes, this boy still wants Mama's milk). Love you so much, my baby boy!
Asher is 2 - YouTube
Dear Asher, Happy turning TWO! I hope you had a blast at your Dory party! You know why Mama thought of this theme for you? That is because you won this giant Dory stuffed toy at LEGOLAND during our last visit and it reminded me of what a lucky boy you are and how blessed I am to have you. Moreover, since you love to splash around so much, I thought a pool side party would be a perfect idea for you and while you play games with your sisters and cousins, the adults could tuck into BBQ food! It's such a simple but wonderful day to celebrate your big day, isn't it? I am so glad everyone enjoyed it! On your actual birthday, Papa took leave and the five of us made our way to Jurong Bird Park. That is because you are also fascinated by birds (and we wanted to make use of our annual passes before they expire) so I knew you would totally enjoy this. It was the first time we were in Lory Loft and even though there were not many birds, we still had such a fun time feeding the handful of them and boy, they looked so beautiful with their vibrant and colourful feathers! You were a brave boy and weren't really scared of them even though you might not be as daring as your big sisters too. Talking about being bold, we took you to Universal Studios recently and you were so afraid during the Madagascar Crate Adventure, even though it wasn't your first time already. You insisted on sitting on my lap, which isn't allowed, so I had a hard time trying to calm you down when you started to cry and thankfully, we still managed to make it through the ride. The funny thing is you came out saying that you wanna go again! Haha. Yup, that's my boy. I hope that you will slowly but surely learn to be adventurous, to take risks at times, to be resilient and be able to conquer your fears.
Mummy is so happy that we have so much time to spend with each other every morning after sending your sisters to school. Such one-on-one moments are precious to me and even though I feel guilty that I haven't been crafting or teaching you much during those periods, I know we are just happy to be in each other's company. Thanks for being a gem when it comes to waking up early so we can walk your Jiejies to school and for being my best companion when it comes to grocery shopping. Haha.
It's nice to see how you've been trying to feed yourself independently and you've even started using chopsticks too, much to the amazement of many people around you. Many passers-by come up to me saying they are impressed by how you can eat on your own, and a handful of them are taken aback when they see how you can gobble up the xiao long baos when we go to Ding Tai Fung. Lol. Yup, you have joined in our xiao long bao lovers gang, which both your sisters are part of, so it seems like 10 baos are no longer enough for us to share. Haha, oh well.
You know how your laughter and smiles have the power to brighten up my day, right? It's so nice to see how happy you are each day and you remind me that happiness can be all around us and if we just open our hearts to it, we will find it. A pretend kiddy ride on my tummy, a nursery rhyme, a game of hide and seek, splashing water on each other, blowing raspberries are the things that can make you laugh non-stop and I really love how life is so simple when you are with me. I hope you know how awesome it is to have not one, but two big sisters who dote on you and run to you every time you cry or whimper. Yup, these two girls really spoil you and even though sometimes you become unreasonable and will snatch things away from them or even bully them, I have no doubt they will continue to shower you with lots and lots of love and care. Just because you are their one and only didi and they love you so very, very much. Seeing that your vocabulary has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few months and that you've suddenly picked up dozens of new words, it's a relief because though we try hard not to compare, both Papa and I realise that your sisters were speaking in strings of sentences when they were your age. Nonetheless, we know that each of you has your own unique strengths so as long as you are healthy and growing up well, that is more than what I can already ask for. But, it's still nice to know that we can talk so much more nowadays and you can greet everyone in the family, say out numbers and colours, and you say the funniest things that make all of us burst out in laughter too. My favourite is when you say "I love you", in your own endearing way with your cute little pout, to me every night because that is what makes motherhood so fulfilling. Thanks for being such a wonderful addition to my life and I am so, so happy that I decided to go for three. Haha. You make a huge difference and you've only changed our lives for the better. We love you so much, dear Asher, may you stay healthy, bubbly and loving always! Happy turning TWO, my baby boy! With lots of love, Mummy