It's Back to School Time! - Happy Halloween 2021

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 01, 2021
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Halloween 2021 was an occasion that we, especially the kids, had been looking forward to. After the highly successful DIY party last year which saw the kids dressed as Zombie Spider, Girl Devil and Scary Pumpkin as they battled against Beast X to save Blackie the Cat, I was feeling doubtful if I could pull off anything now that I have a baby who clings onto me 24/7.

The kids were so sweet as to offer to chip in to help, saying "We don't need it to be complicated. No need many games. Just one or two will do. It will still be very fun!" Well, how could I, the fun-loving mum who gets a kick out of party planning, disappoint them, right? So I spent a couple of weeks brainstorming, getting the props, designing the games, setting up the decor and putting everything in place. 

Inspired by Squid Game, which my kids know of but are not allowed to watch, our theme this year was "Back to School" and my aim was to let the kids try out a series of childhood games which were popular back in those days. Yup, sounds fun already, right? Let's have a look at how it went!


The Setup

We decided to do a main backdrop and keep other decorations simple this time round. Most of the materials were bought from Daiso which is my favourite place to source for party supplies.

Besides getting some ready-to-stick banners which includes a 'bloody' one that had a handprint and was perfect for our fridge, we also bought some skeletons, a giant spider and ornaments too. The highlights had to be our R.I.P. grave which was done using a recycled cardboard box and toilet paper for the wordings, and our main backdrop was a gigiantic spider web which we made using garbage bags and twine. Not bad for creativity, right?



For the wordings, I downloaded a Halloween font and printed out the letters. Since there were drips of 'blood' below every letter which made them difficult to cut out, I came up with a smart idea to colour the empty space black using a black marker so that it blends in with the background and there wouldn't be white space in between. Good idea, right?


The kids had fun helping me to set up and even though it was not elaborated or fanciful, there was a sense of achievement when we saw everything in place. 



To jazz up the Halloween mood, I also ordered these themed macarons from Annabella Patisserie and bought some chocolate balls from Marks & Spencer, which were awarded to the kids as points for every game they play. Having a scoring system and colourful treats made things more colourful and exciting!


The Makeup 

Other than our usual sticker tattoos and face/hand painting, this was the first time we bought fake blood to use in our makeup too. The girls had fun experimenting with it and I think the dressing up part is one of the main reasons why Halloween is so fun.




I have to give credit to the boys of the house, namely Asher who was so game to dress up as a clown and let us paint his face, as well as the hubby who was kind and generous enough to let the kids draw anything they want on him - which was how he ended up with a purple sword on his forehead. Haha.

The Characters

Now, let's meet the characters! Since the theme is back to school, we decided to come up with a string of school related characters. Presenting to you...

- Miss Popular

- The Teacher

- The Einstein

- The Class Clown

- The Bully

- The Cutie Pie

You have to watch the video below to see how we did a catwalk and got into our respective roles. It was hilarious and we couldn't stop laughing.

Apart from the clown wig and nose, all the other outfits were put together from our wardrobe and Halloween stash. Yup, I think I managed to keep everything, including games props and decor, below $80. Woohoo!


The Introduction

Being the game master, I usually give a short brief before everything starts so as to get the kids in the mood and give them an overview of what was going to happen too.

Besides telling them that they were gonna play a series of popular childhood games that Papa and Mama used to play when we were young, the main emphasis was on how it is okay to lose (unlike in Squid Game), how failures are part of success, how we can motivate each other to keep going and how determination plays a crucial role when the going gets tough. Yup, I take every opportunity to impart values and lessons in my kids, haha.

My wish is for them to treasure the simple joys in life and always remember that we do not need expensive toys or technology gadgets in order to have fun. It's never about what you play but who you play with that matters in the end.

I also gave the kids a mission for the night and that was to save our class pet from the bully! Yup, as usual, the hubby is the antagonist and is up to mischief. This time, he has stolen our beloved dog and we need to stop him from bullying, and then befriend and teach him to be kind instead.

Let the FUN Begin!

Now, let's get to the games! There was a total of eight fun games for the kids to play.


Game #1 - Five Stones

I remember playing this fun game with my friends right after PSLE so I wanted to let the kids try it out too. After demonstrating the different stages to them, they took turns to try, earning points for every stage they cleared successfully.


Game #2 - Marbles

If five stones is more for girls, then this one is more for the boys and the hubby used to play it as a kid too. I had to google for the game rules so I could show the kids but it was fun seeing them using their shooter to knock the marbles out of the circle.


Game #3  - Yo-Yo

Everyone loves yo-yo, right? It's amazing how a simple round toy with a string wrapped around can bring so much joy. This was one of the kids' favourite games of the night and they had fun just trying to keep the yo-yo going up and down, no tricks needed!


Game #4 - Zero Point

Was this one of your favourite games in the past? Well, it was definitely mine and I had such fond memories of playing it with classmates back in those days. I taught the kids how to make a rope using the rubber bands and we had fun jumping although I realised they all needed more training on how to jump higher. Haha. I was very happy to play too because it brought back memories - the difference is now I end up landing like an elephant and can no longer conquer one inch.



Dinner and Dance Time

We had an interval after that so that the kids could enjoy their dinner first. Same as last year, we ordered McDonalds and they said they wanna keep this as a tradition. Haha. Okay, as long as you guys are happy! As our food was delayed, we took the chance to do some dancing first because that is also another family tradition of ours.


We danced to two old school songs, namely YMCA and Macarena, and you can catch snippets of our dance in the video below too. It's always fun dancing in our Halloween outfits and I am glad the whole family is spontaneous enough to do it together.


Game #5 - Bubble Glue

Moving on to the second half of the night, it's time to blow some bubble balloons! I remember doing this many times as a kid and the distinct smell of the glue. Haha. It's nice to let the kids play once in a while too while reminding them to blow out, not sniff in. They had a go at blowing the biggest balloon ever and amazed me by how determined and cautious they were in not letting it burst.



Game #6 - Chapteh

This is one game I concluded we are all very bad in because we couldn't even hit the chapteh more than a couple of times. It's not easy to aim and coordinate using our feet. Oh well, at least we tried and hopefully we can be better next time!


Game #7  - Blind Man Bluff

The kids and I have played this a few times and they are always very ecstatic and love this game very much. This was the first time the hubby joined in and we had fun taking turns to be the blind man and catching the rest. We made a rule that you have to catch the person, feel the hand and make a guess at who he/she is. It was really fun! This eye mask I got from Daiso was perfect for the game too, it looks cute, right?



Game #8 - Treasure Hunt

Time for the finale, it's time to solve some mysteries and go on a treasure hunt! 

While I stayed with the kids and carried the baby with me everywhere as I filmed them playing, the hubby was tasked to go hide the treats and then hide himself for the final part of the game. He had done a voice recording prior to this game and it revealed to the kids that their class pet has been kidnapped! When they heard it, they looked around and were surprised to see that our dog was gone! In order to save him, they had to solve clues to reveal the final hiding spot so they could save their pet from the class bully. Good storyline?



One by one, we solved the clues and moved from place to place. We were led to go downstairs and as part of the finale Trick or Treat, the kids got all dressed up, feeling excited to go out in the night. We went all round picking up dozens of treats which were probably gonna last us for months, haha. The joy is in finding them more than eating them, you know what I mean.

This finale game was the one that took me the most time to prepare. I came up with rhymes relating to monsters and each of them pointed to different spots in the house. I hid the clues them the night before the party and had to make sure that the kids don't stumble upon them by chance, including the hidden treats for them. Surprises are what make these games so fun too! Some clues were easy to solve while others were more challenging and it was good seeing them working a team to think of the answers. 






The game ended when we found the last clue and discovered the bully's hiding spot. The kids said "Bully, no bullying!" three times (Dora lover, anyone?) and he regretted his actions and gave our pet back to us. So the kids hugged him, became friends with him and everyone lived happily ever after. Hee.



Movie Night

Wait, we are not done yet! As yet another Halloween tradition, we cleaned ourselves up and got ready for a movie night! It's always a family-friendly Halloween movie and they had chosen to watch Night Books this time, having patiently waited weeks for this day to come. We huddled on the sofa, ate our Vampire Fangs crackers and enjoyed each other's company after an exciting and fun-filled night of celebration.



So, that was how we spent Halloween 2021. Everyone had a blast and we will definitely remember this not-so-spooky but super fun night for a long, long time to come.


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Here's the long-awaited video that showcases the happenings from that night. It will absolutely make you laugh in your seat so sit back and enjoy! Thanks for reading all about our party too, till the next Halloween!


Happiness is... finding calm in the chaos

Posted by ~Summer~ on November 10, 2021
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The month of September was quite a chaotic and turbulent month. 

Apart from having to look after four kids day in day out, plan activities for the one-week school holidays and help the firstborn prepare for her PSLE which has a new grading system, it was also the time when our country made the decision to open up and turn the pandemic into an endemic way of life instead.

There was plenty of disorder, confusion and panic, especially among the parents with Primary 6 kids who were due to sit for their national exams in a matter of days after the announcement. We saw cases hitting over 2,000 per day for the first time just days before the written exams, I had friends whose kids had to be put on quarantine as they were identified as close contacts to a positive case, and we heard of those who had to skip exams or go through lots of tough measures and stringent tests just to be able to sit for the papers while on QO and LOA. Every day, I was hoping with all my heart that things would go smoothly for the big girl (read my heartfelt letter to her here) and despite this being a tough year, I wish that she would be strong and resilient enough to deal with life's curveballs.

That said, I also wanted the kids to be able to relax, have fun and spend time playing since it was the school holidays after all. Every weekend was also dedicated for rest, play, hiking trips and family time, even if it was during the major exams. I don't believe in last minute work so instead of stressing the kids to cram for exams, I prefer for all of us to take a breather, take things easy and have faith that our consistency throughout the year will pay off. 

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about finding calm in the chaos and being able to focus, unwind and find peace in our hearts even when things get a little crazy around us.

******



We went for an impromptu picnic in East Coast Park after getting some takeaways for dinner. It was nice being surrounded by the greenery and being able to feel the sea breeze. Even though there were ants crawling over our seats, we were just happy to be able to enjoy a family meal together. Yup, it's always about seeing positivity in every situation, right?

During the weekend just before the big girl's PSLE written papers, we had a super fun online camp with Kaya and Roti which involved scavenger hunts, fun games, storytelling and singalong, and the best part was building our very own tent in the comfort of our living room! The kids said it was one of the best day ever and it was ended off on a happy note when we cooked instant noodles (I used chicken broth to cook it and added vegetables and mushrooms) to be in line with the camping theme.

The girls asked if they could really sleep in the tent - which was done using chairs, beanbags and blankets - and I said "Sure, why not?" It was so cute when they went "This is like a hotel, we no need to go for staycation!" and goes to show how kids are actually easily contented and it doesn't take much to make their day.

You know what always makes a dull day brighter? Why, chocolates and cakes, of course! Please tell me I am not the only mum who secretly snacks when the kids are in bed, haha. We are always thankful to receive media drops on our doorstep and don't take them for granted. Food always makes my day and besides the nice clients, I also have to give thanks to friends who sent over goodies to wish the big girl good luck for her exams. We were very touched by your kind gestures and the are so blessed to receive your kind thoughts! 

Friendship and kinship - these are the two things that keep us sane during the pandemic and give us hope that things will get better soon so that we can finally reunite and gather. Don't you think so too?

There are some things that never change and some traditions are just worth preserving. Just before PSLE, it was Mid Autumn Festival and I decided we all deserved a break and needed to do something fun. Having bought a pomelo that morning, I got the kids to learn how to peel it and after packing that in a container and getting some herbal tea too, we armed ourselves with lanterns and set off to our neighbourhood for an evening mum-and-kids stroll.

Of course, no celebration is complete without sparklers - actually I have no idea why it has become part of the tradition but the kids are always excited to play - so it was a surprise for them when I took out the boxes of sparklers. The kids ran around, they used the sparklers to write their names in the air, they danced and we made a wish for the big girl's PSLE while taking the chance to reassure her that come what may, we will still be very proud of her.

It's tough to dine outside during the pandemic, especially when I am usually alone with four kids, so home cooked meals are still the best. Don't get it wrong, I don't cook every day and sometimes we order takeaways too. But when we do whip up some simple dishes, there is always a sense of achievement and it's nice to enjoy a peaceful meal in our little messy but cosy paradise instead of jostling with the crowd in eateries or kopitiams. Less chaos, more calm.

Babies. No matter how turbulent it may be in the world out there, they are always so perfectly contented in their little bubbles, right? As long as they are fed, cleaned and get enough sleep, all's good in the world. Haha. On days that feel a little overwhelming, I actually like to join this little boy in his bubble and remind myself to count my blessings and take pleasure in the simply joys in life. One thing I am very thankful for is having this baby who cheers everyone up and frankly speaking, he is the happy pill that we all need.

Ariel always tells me "You made my dream come true by having another baby!", Angel says "I wanna be a mum next time too" and Asher says "It's so nice to have a Didi, thank you Mama!". Yup, how sweet, right? I wish all of them would know that they are the ones who made my dream of being a stay-at-home mum come true and I would do anything in the world for them. The good thing of having more kids is seeing how they bond, play and share secrets with one another. Sure, the bickers will never stop but the love will only run deeper and deeper too.

As much as it is actually nice to stay home, on some days, we just need a breath of fresh air. We've been visiting Gardens by the Bay for afternoon strollers followed by a picnic dinner, which is actually just dabao and eat on the stone benches or grass patch. We chanced into the Children's Festival and the kids were happy to run around finding answers to a quiz. It's disappointing that they couldn't bounce on any of the giant inflatables but I think we can all understand the rationale so for now, all we can do is hope that life can resume someday and we can all play merrily again.

I was writing about how I was thankful to have these two Ox babies in one of my IG posts. Even though the age gap was something I initially worried about, it turned that that being 11 years apart means the mature big sister can take care of the baby well and cutie brother has the power to bring smiles to her and cheer her up. A reader was telling me how she also has a big age gap with her little brother but he was the one who helped her through her emo teenage years and I'm hoping the same for these two too. For now, it's just so sweet to see them bond and the Jiejie still likes to go on kiddy rides because she can now take him and have a reason to do so.

The boy and I were practising for his spelling when he randomly decided to draw a rainbow and write a sweet message below. Yup, it's little actions like this that melt my heart now and then and remind me on why this motherhood journey is so worthwhile. Oh, and his handwriting has greatly improved which is a relief for me too!

Together with my two little chefs, we made pancakes one morning to surprise the big sister! Okay, she actually saw what we were doing and had to help look after the baby so we were free to do this, haha, but it was still a treat for her to wish her good luck for her exams! We made heart shaped pancakes and two of them also decorated with blueberries and strawberries to show her our love. Sweet and yummy!

Cute, right? Haha. It always makes me happy seeing this boy enjoying his food, even if it means making a huge mess. Turning six months old means we have embarked on his foodie adventures and he is trying new food every couple of days! It's fun seeing what he enjoys most or what he doesn't like so much. While having to prepare his puree or porridge daily means I am kept even busier, there is something heartening about seeing babies eat and knowing that he is growing up well is the most important thing to me.

We went shopping for school bags at Ergoworks and yup, these three are blessed to receive these cool and stylish ergonomic bags to get them ready for the next school year. It's still hard to believe that they will be starting their Secondary 1, Upper Primary and Primary 1 journeys respectively but I am hoping good things are in store for all of them. Is it just me or do fellow mums also feel that times passes by too fast and we sometimes wish that our little ones can stay little for a while longer?

Even if it gets noisy and merry at home, this one still manages to sleep when he wants to. Seeing his peaceful sleeping face is something that makes me happy and calms me down every day, especially when things get rough. It reminds me to take life a little slower, to enjoy such fleeting moments and to cherish having my loved ones besides me.

We bade my beloved Popo farewell as we scattered her ashes into the sea. It was my first time experiencing this and well, emotions got the better of me once more but I knew I wanted to do it. Yes, and I brought all the kids along with me too since it was the September holidays and they said they wanted to accompany me and have this memory to hold onto. We will always, always miss you, my dear Popo, I truly hope you are in a better place now but please know that you will live on in my heart forever.


Popo's demise and the never ending pandemic made me realise that I needed to cherish my parents more. So even though we do meet up regularly, I try to make them happen even more nowadays, even if it means we order takeaways to eat at home when the hubby aka masterchef is not around to cook for us. The kids played with my dad in the pool and he was Mr Shark, which delighted them so much as they ran around laughing and screaming ecstatically. Like how I have such fond memories of growing up and playing with my grandma, I hope my kids will have such eternal memories to hold onto too.



Last but not least, the younger siblings and I also curated a PSLE care pack for the firstborn! We did it secretly by going to Popular to get some stationery and her favourite Sumikko Gurashi stuff and then designing handmade cards for her. Ariel and Asher wrapped the present entirely on their own and they even built a fort out of blankets and pillows when doing so just to ensure that the big sister could not peek in. 

We asked her to close her eyes and then we presented the gift to her, It totally made her beam from ear to ear and she exclaimed "Best Day EVER!", She was pleasantly surprised and loved the cards that the siblings wrote for her. This was one of the sweetest moments to witness and I hope it gave her all the motivation, encouragement and assurance that she needed to navigate the rough waters ahead of her. 我们永远支持你哦!

Staying calm in the midst of chaos is never easy but I think having a closely knitted family makes all the difference. We are so blessed and thankful to have each other because come what may, as long as we stick together, I know we are gonna be all right. In fact, we will be more than all right. 

Till the next post of "Happiness is...". Stay safe and take care, everyone!


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