Happiness is... enjoying each other's company

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 17, 2019

I love being with my kids a lot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March was definitely a fulfilling month for us and even though we won't be travelling again soon, I still can't wait for the next school holidays to come because that is when I will get to enjoy my babies 24/7. Till more updates in April!

The magic of imaginary play

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 12, 2019
in ,

My kids love to play pretend. It's amazing seeing how they can come up with creative ideas, think out of the box and see infinite possibilities when given the opportunity to play imaginatively.

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

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

So Easy To Set Up

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

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

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

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

Imagination at Play, Theme #1 - Under the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagination at Play, Theme #2: Fantasy Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit
This article also appeared in theAsianparent.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between Friso and A Happy Mum. All images are my own unless stated otherwise. All opinions are mine.

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