Let's have Ice Cream - Ariel is 7!

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 27, 2020
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We were brainstorming for the little sister's birthday theme and decided to choose something that she really loves - and likely every child will too. Well, okay, even I love it very much and I think you might too. It's something that reminds me of her and is sweet, colourful, addictive and yummy! Yup, we are talking about ICE CREAM, of course.

I was kind of worried that other than letting the kids indulge in ice cream, I might not be able to think of anything related that is fun and enjoyable for them to do. She then told me "Mama, it's okay, We can just come up with one or two very simple activities to do and that will be enough for me." Awwww. Yes, even though I plan and organise parties for each of my kids every year, the thing is they don't demand for a big-scale one and on the contrary, they are happy to just celebrate with a small group of friends while doing very simple stuff. Her words gave me motivation and even though our party indeed turned out to be a simple one, I could tell that she appreciated all the effort that went in and best of all, she had a BLAST.

Here's sharing more about Ariel's Ice Cream Party which was held on the very day that this baby girl of mine turned SEVEN.


THE INVITATION

We designed and printed these hard copy birthday invites for Ariel to give out to her primary school friends before the year end school holidays. It wasn't easy trying to get hold of the parents because not all of them were in the class chats and there was no way I could get hold of their contact numbers. In fact, it turned out that nearly half of them did not reply to inform if they could come or not although we wrote the RSVP date and my number. Sob. Well, I reckoned most of them were busy and it could have just slipped their minds. Thankfully, the birthday girl was understanding about it and she was cool to just make do with whoever could turn up.


THE SETUP

Considering that this party was held in less than four days after we got back from holidaying in Club Med Bintan and a day right after Asher's 4th birthday party, I think we did pretty well in terms of the party decorations. 

The wall bunting and personalised name printout were done and put up a couple of weeks beforehand because they help to give a sense of anticipation and make everyone look forward to the party. Plus, these DIY decor are always done on my home printer so I gotta make the most of them after using so much ink, right? Haha. That is why I usually leave them on for a month or so and I feel that looking at them makes me happy too - though I might also lament that time passes by too quickly at times.

I bought these giant ice cream balloons online and they came in a pack of 10 although I initially thought there would only be one or two. What was so fun was that the kids and I came together to blow them up - yes, blow, not pump - and they did a most amazing job by persevering and not giving up. Haha. Ariel did the most of all and she was so excited that she would be giving out a balloon to each of her friends who came to the party.


As for the dessert table, it is as usually kept simple but nice, just the way I like it. Since I bought this foldable table a year ago, I think it has and will be used for our dessert corner in the years to come. I love that we get to set it up right in front of our pretty 'brick' wall too - though it always takes lots of shifting of stuff before we can create enough space. Haha.

Besides the cupcake stand with ice cream toppers, Ribena and mineral bottled water with personalised labels and the light box, we also used their ice cream kitchen toys and ice cream erasers as decorations too. The erasers look so cute, right?






For the party favours, we gave out colourful pencils, a pen with an fluffy ice cream chain, a stick on tattoo, a flashing bracelet and a ice cream making mould. Ariel was the one who helped to pack and tie all of them nicely together because that should be the responsibility of the birthday boy/girl, right?




THE FOOD 

Since we held the party in the late afternoon, it was more of a tea party so we prepared finger food for the kids. Yup, call me ngiao but we have stopped ordering buffet lunches for such parties and in fact, request for parents to drop their kids off. The thing is, I find it much better when it comes to letting the birthday child bond with his/her friends and it is not surprising that most of them are actually not interested in the food. What excited them were the activities and the chance to gather with their friends to do something fun together.




Right, that does not mean I wanted to get them go hungry too so we did prepare cupcakes, an ice cream cake from Swensens, lots more ice cream, puddings, fresh fruits, chocolates, nuggets and fries. I loved it when the kids gathered together and started telling me lots of stories about themselves and things that happened in school. It's nice to be 'in the loop' and get to know my kid's good friends. I had a parent telling me how he thought I was super brave to ask for the kids to be dropped off because it meant that I only had two hands to deal with ten kids. Haha. Well, it wasn't that hard after all once you got the hang of it and the most important thing was that I hope everyone of them had fun!




THE ACTIVITIES

#1 - Colour your favourite ice cream

Our first activity is always.... colouring! Like I said before, it is a good way to keep the kids occupied while waiting for the rest to arrive. Ariel chose her favourite ice cream colouring page and was happy to start adding some colours to it.


It is also a good way to let the kids settle down and get acquainted with each other. We did a round of self introduction too so that everyone could know each other. After all, some of them came from the same primary school, a couple were our childhood friends and another was Ariel's bestie from kindy.


#2 - Make an ice cream clay model

When everyone arrived, it was time to move on to the second activity! Yes, art is something that both my girls enjoy so they both wanted a clay making session. Using modelling clay and some sample images that I printed out, the kids were tasked to make their favourite ice cream within 15 minutes. I loved seeing that look of concentration on their faces and how each of them would put in their best effort to make something creative and imaginative.




Check out their creations! I must say these were really quite amazing considering that the time limit was so short. We had a voting contest to see whose clay model would emerge as the winner with the most votes! This was done without revealing which ice cream was done by who so that it would be a fair contest but I think the birthday girl was lucky because she emerged as one of the top two winners - we had a tie! Can you guess which was made by her?



#3 - Catch the 'scoops'

The next activity required the kids to work in pairs and was a test of their teamwork as well as reflexes. The idea was simple - one person would toss as many colourful pompoms within a minute and the other would try to catch them in a cup. Was it easy? Not at all, especially for kids. Some of them could do it better than the rest but it was good to see that no one gave up or refused to try. The hubby gave a live demonstration on how to catch as many pompoms as possible and the kids were motivated to try again and again to better their scores. Fun!




#4 - Shoot the cones

I asked Ariel if she wanted to shoot with a gun or bow and arrow, she chose the latter and so we decided to come up with this activity. I printed out pictures of ice cream clipart, made them in different sizes, allocated each of them a score (the bigger the ice cream, the lower the score), cut out and laminated them before sticking them onto my kitchen glass.

All the kids needed to do was to aim and shoot - if your arrow hit an ice cream cone, you get the points! Each of them was allowed to have three tries before passing to the next person. The kids loved this game so much that we ended up leaving the cutouts on for weeks and even let our parents try it too when they came over to celebrate Christmas. Haha.





#5 - What's for dessert?

The last game was one of Ariel's favourite because she loves to draw and guess. I printed out a stack of cards, each with a dessert / snack /  fruit / food item on it. These included sandwich, burger, sunny side up, jelly, strawberries and even ice kachang. All they had to do was take turns to draw to let their friends guess the item and the person with the most correct guesses would be the winner. Some of their drawings were really cute, including how their interpretations of a durian and marshmallow.





THE CEREMONY

A birthday party is never complete without a cake-cutting ceremony, right? One of the things my kids still look forward to is blowing their candles on their special days, and I'm happy to let them do that every year for as long as I can. In fact, they also blow out my candles and the hubby's candles during our birthdays too, haha. I guess that is the norm and that is a blessing because it means we have our kids to celebrate with us, right?

We had a duo flavours Swensens ice cream cake and the birthday girl chose her favourite chocolate and cookies and cream flavour. Yum! I love that ice cream cone on top and that it came with some strawberries too. You should have seen how the kids' faces lit up when I announced to them "It's ICE CREAM time!" That said, I also bought wayyyyyy too much ice cream that day and more than half of them are still sitting in my fridge three months later. Psssstt, we just had Haagen Dazs ice cream tonight after dinner. Hee.



Here's a big THANK YOU to all the friends who came to celebrate Ariel's special day with her and I hope you had as much fun as she did and brought home some very precious memories in that huge ice cream balloon too.


Dear Ariel, happy turning 7 and it's so nice to see your sunshine smile every day, my little cutie pie. I hope you will stay bubbly, kind, sweet and loving towards your friends and family. Remember that we love you to the moon and back and that you will always be our precious, darling baby girl!



Till the next birthday party! Now, who wants some ice cream too?

***

Read more on Ariel's birthday parties here:

Ariel is 6 - The Ocean is Calling
Ariel is 5 - It's a Shopkins Tea Party
Ariel is 4 - A Royal Princess Party
Ariel is 3 - Sofia the First Birthday Bash
Ariel is 2 - Let's Get Frozen
Ariel is 1 - Turning One Under the Sea


我们都不完美

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 24, 2020
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我自认是个对自己要求很高的人。即使不是完美主义者,我待己苛刻,总想把每一件事做得尽善尽美。当上母亲的那一刻,我下定决心把最好的自己呈现给孩子,让她在一个充满阳光和无限爱的温室中,茁壮成长。


如今,大宝10岁了,最近老把 “我已经不是小孩了” 挂在嘴边。也许是我们性格相像的原因,在起争执时,双方难免说出一些让自己后悔不堪的伤人话。有一次,她气急败坏地对我说:“你不是一个好妈妈,我不喜欢这个家。” 听了,我的世界顿时垮了下来。即使我知道那纯粹是气话而不是有心的,但我依旧耿耿于怀。难道,我日夜不停为这个家奔波劳累,换来的却是撕心裂肺的痛?那一夜,我的泪水不听使唤,夺眶而出。

原来,我再怎么追求完美,也永远当不了一名完美的妈妈。因为,在这个世界里,根本就没有所谓的十全十美。

随着岁月的流逝,跌跌撞撞一路走来,人成熟了,心境也改变了。我渐渐学着对自己宽容一些,犯错的时候,也不要过于埋怨自己。人非圣贤,孰能无过?最重要的是勇于认错,从失败中学习。记得有一次,丈夫出外公干,精疲力尽的我为了鸡毛蒜皮的小事对三宝大发雷霆。让自己冷静下来后,我走上前对他们说:“对不起,妈妈不是故意大吼大叫的。你们学习做好孩子的同时,我也正学习怎么当一名好妈妈。原谅我,好吗?“ 一句诚心的道歉起了巨大的作用,那晚,三宝和我紧拥在一起,答应要共同努力,携手迈向更好的明天。


妈妈们都不是超人,而是普通人,我们总会有烦躁、痛苦、焦虑和悲伤的时候。这些负面情绪是必然的,与其试着把它们隐藏或埋没,我们更应该做的是坦然面对和学习如何自我疗愈。

很多读者常常发电邮问我:“你真行,没有帮佣,自己带三个孩子,照料一个家,又能腾出时间做手工、弹琴、跳舞等。你是怎么做到的?” 我每次都坦诚告诉他们,在社交媒体所看到的内容并非全面,因此不能做假设,更不应把自己和其他妈妈相比。每个人都有自己的故事,而每个故事也总有它的喜悦和幸福、挣扎与辛酸。看不到,不代表不存在。说穿了,其实我们每个人都一样,天天都在努力做好自己。


就如世上无完美的父母,也绝对不会有完美的孩子。我们对自己放宽的同时,也要学着接纳孩子的一切,无论他们在快乐、难过、乖巧、顽皮、温顺、粗暴的时候,都要明白父母对他们的爱是无条件的。

孩子,永远是父母的心肝宝贝。在儿女的心中,爸爸妈妈也是世上最完美的。我想,这不完美中的完美和忐忑不平的人生道路,才是最真实、最值得我们珍惜的。

This article appeared in my column titled 快乐妈咪 in 联合早报副刊 on 23 Mar 2020. Do keep a lookout for my posts on every 4th Monday of the month, yeah? 


Enjoying the goodness with Tian Yuan Xiang (田原香)

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 18, 2020
in

My affinity with chicken essence started when I was a child.

My mum and grandma used to tell me "Chicken essence is good for you, 很补的" and I started drinking it when I was just a young kid. Surprisingly, I liked it more than I thought I would. As I grew into a teen, I began burning the midnight oil and experiencing the stress of examinations, I remember my mum would tell me on the morning of my major tests "I'll warm a bottle of chicken essence, okay?" It was not just the essence she warmed; it was my heart too. 

When I was pregnant with my firstborn and living in Europe, my aunt taught me how to make my own homemade chicken essence - tenderise chicken breast meat, invert a small bowl in a large bowl, place the chicken meat around it, steam for two hours - since we couldn't lay our hands on readily prepared ones. I made it a point to drink it every week because I truly believe in the nutritional benefits not just for myself, but for my kids too.

Till now, drinking chicken essence not only boosts my day but gives me a fuzzy feeling too because it reminds me of those days and how much I am loved. So, I decided to pass this feeling to my kids and let them try out the goodness of chicken essence too! I was not sure if they would embrace it like I did but I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best. 

You can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when not just one but all three of my kids gave their thumbs up and asked me for another serving! 怎么可能?I honestly didn't expect that and was happy to see that the kids liked it as much as I did, if not more. Thanks to Tian Yuan Xiang (田原香), I can safely conclude that we are now a family of chicken essence lovers!

INTRODUCTION

Established since 2005, Tian Yuan Xiang (田原香) is the leading brand of double-boiled chicken essence (滴鸡精) in Taiwan and it has also branched into Hong Kong, Singapore, Macao and Guangzhou. With a strong belief in the benefits of double-boiled chicken essence, which is a time-consuming ancient method, Tian Yuan Xiang uses charcoal burning to ensure that every drop of pure chicken essence is extracted and that its authentic taste is preserved. 


Do you know what I fear most about chicken essence? The fishy smell!

I recall letting Angel try it once when she was much younger and she immediately said after her first mouthful "味道很重!I don't like the strong taste!" I knew it then that she didn't like the fishy smell too. I mean, who does? I was half expecting her to say the same thing again this time but to my amazement, she actually finished a whole sachet on her own in a matter of minutes and said to me "It's nice, Mama, like chicken soup." That was a strong testament from this 10-year-old whose taste buds can be hard to cater to at times and is reluctant to try out new food.

Unlike the traditional canned chicken essence, Tian Yuan Xiang's chicken essence tastes more like homemade chicken broth without the strong fishy smell, which makes it not just healthy but delicious too. All my kids agreed that it gave off a nice aroma and they liked not just the smell, but the taste too.


 So, I mentioned sachet and not can or bottle, right? That is because the chicken essence is...... FROZENI know, right? I was also surprised to see that they were frozen and kept in separate packets within a box but I also knew that means the nutrients and freshness of the chicken essence have been preserved as best as possible.

It's our first time trying out frozen chicken essence and these can be stored in our fridge for a good 6-month period. By the way, Tian Yuan Xiang's products contains ZERO preservatives, yeah? There is also no artifical spices or colouring so that gives me a peace of mind as a parent. Their chicken essence, which comes from free-range chickens raised without chemicals or hormones, is also not diluted with water. Yay! That means every drop within is pure, natural goodness, how wonderful is that? Being double-boiled, it also contains essential amino acids and high quality micro-molecule protein which can be easily absorbed and boosts energy more quickly.  



In order to meet the diverse needs of different groups’ needs, including children, teenager, female, male, and elders, Tian Yuan Xiang has developed customised, unique flavours by engaging certificated traditional Chinese physicians and dieticians. With an emphasis on quality control, their chicken essence is certificated by Taiwan Health Department and also Halal Certified.

CHICKEN ESSENCE FOR CHILDREN

We tried two flavours of Chicken Essence for Children, namely Chicken Essence for Digestion (四神) and Chicken Essence for Appetite (九尾草).  Chicken Essence for Digestion (四神) is suitable for toddlers and kids from 1 year old and Chicken Essence for Appetite (九尾草) is suitable for children 3 years old and above.

The Chicken Essence for Children contains herbs such as 山药 (Chinese yam)、茯苓 (Poria)、芡实 (Euryales Semen)、莲子(Lotus seed) which are believed to be help nourish the spleen and stomach, expel phlegm, boost appetite and aid digestion. Each box of Chicken Essence for Children includes 10 packets of Chicken Essence for Appetite and 10 for Digestion, making it a total of 20 packets of 60c.c. each. Just so you know, three and a half whole natural chickens are used for each box and I think that's a lot of goodness, right?

Can I drink the chicken essence too? Yes, it's family-friendly and suitable for both the young and old which means the kids and I can share the good stuff! Note that both flavours are not suitable for women who are having their period and Chicken Essence for Appetite is not suitable for pregnant women or those in postpartum care. Most of you know that I have been trying to cut down on carbs since early this year in order to lead a healthier lifestyle. That also means I have been eating more of chicken every day - I have not had red meat for a couple of months already. Being low in calories and cholesterol - a sachet of double boiled chicken essence is is less than 30Kcal - I am more than happy to drink some chicken essence whenever I can too.

By the way, the chicken essence can also be used for cooking! If your kids still find the taste or smell too overpowering, what you can do is add it into their porridge, soup or use it to stir fry your vegetables too. In this way, the kids can still reap the benefits of the chicken essence too.

HEATING METHOD

There are two ways to heat up the frozen chicken essence. Without unfreezing it, either place in in a bowl in a microwave and heat for 1-3 minutes or use the double boiling method and place the bowl in hot water to heat it up directly.



We don't have a microwave in our home so I used the double boiling method by placing a ceramic bowl inside a pot of water. It takes only a few minutes for the chicken essence to be fully heated up so there isn't much hassle or effort required, especially since you do not need to thaw it beforehand too.

Here's something you might not know yet. The best time to drink chicken essence is in the morning on an empty stomach! You should also drink it before 4pm and not before going to bed, since that will probably lead to sleeplessness. Still, I know of someone - right, the hubby - who can drink a cup of black coffee and yet fall asleep immediately so I think it works differently for everyone. If you are having a fever, inflammation or stomach flu, avoid drinking chicken essence. Otherwise, you can consume 1-2 packets a day.

I do think chicken essence helps to make me feel 精力充沛 and chase away the fatigue, which is crucial for me as a stay-at-home mum since I have endless 'battles', including mountains of laundry, piles of toys and stacks of dishes, to fight each day.


As for the kids, I initially wanted to let the girls try the chicken essence only. Ariel is usually the more adventurous one who likes to try new food so it wasn't a surprise that she liked both flavours of the chicken essence and finished them up pretty quickly. Angel, as mentioned above, can be picky at times but the chicken essence tasted like broth to her and being the soup lover of the family, she naturally liked it too.

The one who surprised and impressed me the most was, however, the four-year-old boy! What happened was I heated up a sachet so that I could take photos and subsequently drink it. He saw it on the table, asked if he could try and when I walked back to the table a minute later, it was ALL GONE! Oh wow. "Yummy!" was all he told me after licking his lips. Haha.



In fact, he has already drunk it a few times because he likes it so much and even told me "Mama, I don't need the spoon. I can just drink it from the bowl!" And he proceeded to do it noisily and happily, enjoying every drop of the goodness of chicken essence. The good thing was he drank it before having his lunch and yet his appetite was so good that he finished more than his usual portion too. Yay!

So, it is quite evident that my kids all love Tian Yuan Xiang's chicken essence and it is not just packed full of nutrients and beneficial to their health, but appetising and tasty to drink too. I guess I will save up all the goodness in our freezer for their enjoyment and hopefully, they will experience that warm, fuzzy feeling that I had too and know how much they are blessed and loved.

******

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT FOR A HAPPY MUM READERS





For all A Happy Mum readers, you can now enjoy an exclusive discount of $15 off at Tian Yuan Xiang. Simply make your online purchase HERE and enter the code "S03G18" which will be valid from 18 to 31 March.

Let's all enjoy the goodness of chicken essence together and drink on!

Tian Yuan Xiang
101 Thomson Road, #B1-24A United Square, Singapore 307591 (Novena MRT)
Tel: 6200 6789 
Opening hours:  Sun-Thu & PH -10:30am-09:00pm, Fri, Sat & Eve of PH - 10:30am-09:30pm
Website | Video | Facebook | Instagram

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between A Happy Mum and Tian Yuan Xiang. All photos and opinions are my own.


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