Happiness is... making time for play

Posted by ~Summer~ on January 05, 2022
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With the easing of restrictions and completion of exams, November was a time for us to celebrate, let our hair down, spend time as a family, find ways to relax, have fun and enjoy life. 

Yup, you have no idea how relieved I was when the year end exams, especially PSLE, were over and the kids and I could look forward to the start of the school holidays. I really, truly love school holidays even though it means the house is always rowdy, messy and chaotic. That is because when you look past the bickers, fights and backtalk, these are the moments filled with warmth, love and joy.

Moments that remind you on why motherhood is so worthwhile. Moments when the kids yell for "Mama" one after another and can't seem to do without you. Moments when you wind up in bed all exhausted yet would willingly do everything you did over and over again. Moments that might never come back again when the kids are all grown up and you will look back and miss these days so, so much that it hurts.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about making time for play and cherishing these simple moments of being together, making memories and enjoying each other's company.

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I love seeing the kids together on a kiddy ride. Yup, the girls might be getting too big for that but they happily do it for the baby so that they can take care of him. They were all in this big bus one day and it somehow made me emotional seeing them like that. I could feel their glee and you know what, we didn't even insert a coin but they were contented and happy just to sit together like that.

How many annual passes do you have? For us, it's just one and that is Friends of Wildlife membership card. It's the only one that we willingly renew time and again because the kids can never get tired of visiting any of the four parks. This time round, we joined in the Ranger Buddy activities and the kids were thrilled to collect badges at the end of their quest.


Somebody was also very thrilled to go on his first ever carousel ride! Yup, this was at KidzWorld and since members can enjoy 20% off, it was really worthwhile getting the rides. Baby Ansel was so happy throughout and I'm just glad that I will get to enjoy many more years of such rides with him because there's something magical about merry go rounds.


As you probably know by now, we are avid movier goers and while we have been watching Netflix for our weekly movie nights, it is still nice to go to the cinema to catch a family-friendly show every now and then. I am glad to know that we can now go to movie previews once more and every invite that comes in is greatly appreciated and not taken for granted. 

Many people asked me how I manage to bring four kids to the movies on my own and the key is in training them from young! Haha. Yup, they all started when they are babies and mine also like to crawl around, walk around, stand up and down, fidget, whine and make a fuss when they are in the baby and toddler phase. I try to time the movie with their nap time and I bring along snacks to keep them occupied too. Practice makes perfect!


For the last couple of years, we've not been to media events and while I did enjoy the staying home part, I also missed bringing the kids out to check out newly launched attractions and carnivals. So when Changi Airport invited us for a day of fun to check out the Changi Festive Village, you bet I jumped at the opportunity even though it was on a weekday and I would have to travel and take care of the kids on my own. It's a good thing my kids have a big age gap because it means the big girl is kind of like a little helper and she can help me to carry the baby, push the pram, buy food and just make sure everything is in order.

We had a ball of time that day, especially when we saw snowfall in Jewel, when the girls went on the Dino Kart at T4 Departure Lounge and when we played the carnival games and won prizes! It was such a long and exhausting day yet fun to the max and we were thankful for the opportunity to be one of the first families to experience it.



It's been over a year since our last family staycation and I have to admit that we have never booked one for ourselves because I find them too expensive. Yup, it's either media invite or no staycay for us. So I was absolutely thrilled to get the chance to review SG Hotel on Wheels and you can read more about our experience here. What made it so special was that I planned for the staycay to be a surprise for the kids and it took place on the day of the firstborn's 12th birthday. Exciting, right?



The baby turns nine months old and it's safe to say that he absolutely loves to go gai gai too! He jumps for joy and beams whenever we put him in the baby carrier, he loves being pushed around in his pram, he likes to explore and is always curious to check out new surroundings, he is good at taking naps on the go which makes it possible for me to bring the kids out in the morning and come home late at night. We can't imagine going anywhere these days with you, dear Ansel!


My kids love water play so while we were on our staycay in Downtown East, we also checked out Wild Wild Wet and had a splashing good time! It was my first time bringing the kids to a water playground on my own and the five of us enjoyed being in the Shiok River together. I kind of look forward to the day when they are all tall enough to go on the exhilarating rides and we will go on them together as a family! For now, we are happy to stick to the milder ones and they are still very fun because we have each other as company.



Going on hiking trips is something we've been doing for the past couple of years and there are still many parks and trails that we wanna check out. This was our first time visiting Tampines Eco Green and even though we suffered some sandfly bites, it was still a memorable trip because we did it in the drizzle and never gave up.



I always think we are very lucky to have so many playgrounds in Singapore and it's like you can easily spend a day checking out the neighbourhood playgrounds around you. We are always excited to chance upon one which we've never been to and these three always have a good time playing catching or hide and seek. Right, they still argue and fight at times but that is just part and parcel of being siblings, right? I know they love each other to the moon and back and that's all that matters.

We haven't been to bouncy castles for a long time too but thanks to Kiztopia, we made it to Jumptopia in Marina Bay Sands and the kids and I took public transport all the way there. It turned out to be worthwhile because we had such a fun time on the giant inflatables! Check out our video here. I loved it when Ansel and I went out the steep, long slide and it made the arduous climb with a baby in hand worth it.



The girls loved the human bubble balls game and it was their first time trying to bump and knock each other over. It was hilarious seeing them do that and I laughed till I cried when I was watching from the sideline. It was such a fun way to celebrate the start of the school holidays and the end of a tough year of HBL and exams. The big girl even caught a cute French Fries plushies from the claw machine which made her super happy since it was her birthday the next day.

One of the new places we checked out was Northshore Plaza and the kids had a fun time in Decathlon with all the different tryout stations. Even the baby was happy to just be crawling through the tunnel even though he got stuck halfway and decided to retreat. Haha. We ended up buying frisbees and sportswear after having a couple of hours of fun in this huge outlet.


This is a new eatery called Downstairs which is located in Northshore Plaza and we fell in love with it, including the yummy food, affordable pricing and all the nostalgic childhood memories that evoked from the dragon playground, chess stone table, orange public phone, metal mailboxes, hopscotch floor markings and more. My kids gave their thumbs up for the food too, including braised pork rice, Hainanese Pork Chop rice, Wanton Mee and Mee Tai Mak Soup, and we had an enjoyable lunch here.


The secondborn did well in her academics this year and surprised me by achieving a Star Award so we celebrated that special day by going for a yummy Japanese dinner at Tampopo. Yup, we love Japanese cuisine, do you too? My kids love ramen, udon, chawanmushi, sushi, gyoza and so on but we usually stick to visiting Genki Sushi. It was a special treat to come here and we did it because of a special dine in promotion - if not, I find it too expensive - so the kids were delighted and we enjoyed the sumptuous meal thoroughly.



What does the baby eat when we are out? Well, I try to bring out home cooked porridge for him whenever I can but if I can't, then we make do with ready pouches or jarred baby food too. He has become accustomed to eating out and is quite a foodie who enjoys his meals, so that is really comforting to know. Check out his happy face!




The three older kids started learning Taekwondo a month ago and I signed up them because it's really cheap! This is under the PA courses and each kid only pays less than $5 for every 1hr 15min lesson. Good deal, right? I wanted it to be a holiday activity for them and the good thing is that three of them can go to the same class for now, woohoo! So far so good, we are enjoying the class - it is conducted under a pavilion at the void decks - and we also like to go for supper after that. Hee. Yes, we do eat McDonalds once in a while as a special treat!


Although the baby can't go for any class right now, he still accompanies the siblings there to watch and cheer for them. Awwww, I will make sure you get to learn new things too when you grow up, okay? For now, I know you are happy to just be stuck to me and I am happy too.

Let's see, the baby now has two bottom teeth and his siblings say the teeth make him look so cute. Haha. I am training and reminding him to not bite during our feeding sessions and so far, he's been good. He gets fascinated when I try to help him brush his teeth and his smile always melts my heart.




Life at home now does not involve books or studying because it's the year end school holidays after all. Since the kids do not have tuition, it means they do not have homework to do too. Shiok! I'm going to let them, and myself, take a long break for these two months and we shall focus on one thing - play.

Yup, play means I get down to play with them too and we've been playing Pictionary Air, Heads Up, Hangman, Win Lose or Draw as well as all these new games which we've received, like the BBQ Skewer and Ice Cream Balance Game. I've come to realise that the kids are contented to play with just simple games and it makes a huge difference when I join in. So yes, I say let's bring it on and play more games every day! We still don't own an iPad and the kids don't play games on phones, and the truth is I'd much rather we sit down and play a board/card game together than do anything that involves a screen.



Other than playing games with each other, I also ask the kids to make sure they play with the baby too! He's blessed to have three elder siblings who all love to play with him, even though he likes to munch on toys more than he likes to play with them for now. He is called the Little Destroyer too because he destroys or chews on everything in his path but we love him for that and cherish this adorable baby phase which will soon pass.

I'm also grateful for all the baby products he has received in the past month, including baby clothes, toys, food and the highlight has to be this 3-D casting that we did of his hand and foot. How very precious, right?




Play time also means having fun with grandparents and I'm glad that my parents are able to have fun with the kids, like how my Dad can be Mr Shark in the swimming pool or how my Mum can play a game of tennis on Wii with them. Family time is so precious to us and every gathering we have is treasured. It's also awesome seeing how my parents get along well with my in-laws and they are all fun-loving grandparents whom my kids are blessed to have.





The year end period also marks the start of a string of birthday celebrations for my kids. While Angel celebrated her 12th birthday at home and at the staycay, Asher had a small party in school with his kindergarten classmates. It was done on the day of his concert rehearsal and since Ariel was going to be the emcee, she could join in the party too which made it extra special for him.


That marks the end of a wonderful month of November and also the completion of Angel's primary school journey. Yup, my big girl has graduated from this six-year journey and I'm so proud of her for coming this far. Maybe she was a tad embarrassed by the signboard we made and how we surprised her at the gate on her Graduation Day. But I believe that one day, she would look back and be thankful for having a family who supports and loves her deeply.


Till more updates next month! Remember to make time for play and have fun, even when life gets busy!


A Surprise Staycation - Angel is 12

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 28, 2021
in

21 November was a special day for us.

It was the day Angel, my dearest firstborn, turned 12. Yup, a dozen years have zoomed by since the day I became a mum and held this precious little girl in my arms. Besides it being her birthday, it was also a time to celebrate as she had completed her PSLE after overcoming hurdles in the last couple of pandemic-stricken years.

As a girl who is easily contented, I knew she wasn't expecting a big or fanciful party. In fact, she told me that she didn't need a party after turning 10 - although she loves and enjoys parties - as she understood the effort it took in organising them for her every year since she was born. Awwww. With the raging pandemic hitting thousands of cases a day and the house visit limitations, I decided to play it safe and not invite friends over this year. Nonetheless, I reckoned she deserved a little something special to celebrate this milestone.

So I planned for a surprise staycation and although I had it all worked out over a month before the big day, none of the kids knew about it and it was a secret we kept from them till the very morning. After the kids woke, we wished the big girl "Happy Birthday" and presented her with our presents and handmade cards before I announced to them...

"SURPRISE! Tonight, we are going to stay in a carpark inside a container. Let's go pack!" 

They were so thrilled yet a little baffled to hear that and asked me if there was going to be a toilet, would there be lights or would it be dark inside, how big was the space etc. So much excitement! Without divulging more details, I told them to pack their luggage and off we went!

Guess where we were heading? 

Yup, SG Hotel on Wheels, here we come!

If you haven't heard of the hype yet, SG Hotel on Wheels (SHOW for short) is Singapore’s first-ever roving concept container hotel which is set to dock at different locations around Singapore. We were greeted by all the colourful containers, which are located at Downtown East for now, and I said to the kids "See? I never bluff, these are REAL containers and we are gonna stay in one!"

Let us show you our room, shall we? We stayed in the 40-footer Peranakan Suite which was just nice for a family of four. The hubby didn't stay over with us so the space was enough for me and the kids. There are four other themes to choose from, namely Street Punk, Pop Art, Resort Retreat and Safari Paradise.

Since the room is rectangular in shape, on one end, there is the bedroom which has a queen sized bed, dressing table, wardrobe and TV, in the middle lies the living area which has a dining table, coffee table, TV and sofa bed, then we have the toilet and the kitchenette, complete with a fridge, kettle, electric cooker, microwave and utensils on the other end.




It wasn't a luxurious setup but we loved how cosy everything felt, especially with the Peranakan touches here and there and the privacy we enjoyed in this unique container. As with all our staycations, the kids were just over the moon to be able to have this getaway and the most important thing was that we had each other's company and were able to spend some quality family time on this special day.

BIRTHDAY HIGHLIGHTS

Let's check out some of the highlights that took place for the birthday girl. Well, actually the rest of the kids got to enjoy everything too but I hope she felt like the star that day because it was her special day after all.

-> Wild Wild Wet

Every room booking came with a pair of tickets to Wild Wild Wet and since it was just a stone's throw away, we definitely wanted to visit this fun-filled water park. In fact, since check in could only take place at 3pm, we arrived early at noon to collect our tickets and headed to the park for some exhilarating fun first.

It's been quite a long time since our last visit and I know how much the kids enjoy all these water park rides so I was really glad that we managed to have a couple of hours of fun before.... it started to pour! Yup, the heavy rain came when we were having our lunch and we decided to head back to the container to check in and get ourselves cleaned up.



BUT... guess what? After the rain stopped, after some debate and persuasion, we headed BACK to the water park! I had checked with the staff and they said re-entry was allowed, phew! Ariel and Asher were enthusiastic about the idea as they really wanted to play more while Angel was initially against it as we had already bathed and were in the comfort of our room. Where was the hubby? Oh, he went to the supermarket to get some groceries so I was all alone with the kids.

We eventually went back and this was my first time handling four kids in a water park! We made it in the nick of time to enter the Shiok River and it was Ansel's first ever lazy river experience. See more happenings in my video below. I kind of think that he will be the glue who gels us together as the other kids grow up as we all dote on him so much. For instance, the big girl is still happy and willing to do lots of kiddy stuff because she gets to do it with him and they have so much fun together. Awwww. It's also his blessing to have her too and I hope they will see it that way when they are all grown up.



-> Carnival

We love visiting funfairs and I have so much fond memories of them from my childhood days too. D'Ultimate XCape at Downtown East sits right outside the hotel and we were hearing happy cheers, ringing of bells and excited screams when we were having our dinner. So, of course we had to check it out too!

The kids played two games each, including Spin the Wheel and Hook a Duck, and I would have let them played more if they weren't so expensive. Haha. 3 games for $10! Anyway, the boy was the only lucky one who won a medium sized plush toy at the wheel and for the duck, they combined their points and received a small one too. Woohoo! What we loved to do was to seeing others play too and I think my kids would be happy to just stand there and watch for an hour or two.



Uncle Ringo is also just beside so I told the kids they could have just one ride, to which they chose the most exciting one which was this mini viking ride. Although Angel initially said she didn't need to take the ride, it was more value for money to get three tickets and I could see that smile on her face when I said she could go on it with her siblings. Thank you for thinking of helping us to save money but as long as you still love such rides, I will be happy to let you do it on the special days, my dear. And today was extra, extra special.

-> Hotpot

I think we might be the rare family who took the effort to go to the supermarket and get ingredients for a hotpot dinner even though Downtown East is just across the road and it makes things easier if we had just dabao-ed. I was so glad we did though, thanks to the hubby's suggestion and effort in preparing the meal while we were at Wild Wild Wet.

It was so simple yet so heartwarming as we sat on the floor around the coffee table and tucked into Hai Di Lao's tomato soup, complete with udon, shabu shabu, threadfin, mushrooms and vegetables. I dare say it was one of the best meals we ever had on a staycation and it would definitely be one of the most memorable ones too.


-> Surprise cake

I always make it a point for the kids to be able to blow a candle and make a wish on their actual birthdays. When the hubby went to buy the hot ingredients, I asked him to get a slice of cake for Angel to surprise her too. Who knew he came back with one whole chocolate cake from Emicakes and it was so surprisingly delicious that we nearly finished the entire cake! Yummy!

Watch the video to see the moment when the hubby and I lit up the candles in the kitchenette and brought the cake out to surprise the birthday girl. She was really over the moon and it made me so happy to see her big smile too.


-> Movie night

Every week, we would take time off to watch a movie or two as a family so how could we miss out that tradition while on a staycation, right? Even though it was quite late already after the hotpot and carnival, we still proceeded with our plan of having a movie night. Not just so, I even brought the kids to walk to a nearby 7-Eleven so that we could grab some snacks and drinks. Woohoo! Yup, late nights once in a while are fun!

We let the birthday girl choose the movie and instead of choosing an animated film or action thriller, she decided that we should watch Fatherhood, a heartwarming show about a single Dad who raised his daughter. Awwww. It was a good show!

Thanks to the girls, they slept on the sofa bed together so that I could have the bed with the boys. I think they were happy to have each other for company and we somehow always sleep well on a staycation. This also reminded me that it's harder and more costly to go for staycations and overseas vacations now that our family has grown to six pax but well, we'll just have to figure it out as we go along.






The next morning, we heated up our leftovers and also ate the cake and some fruits before we checked out. The kids happily watched Paw Patrol as they ate and were so reluctant to leave. Yup, I know, all good things must come to an end.


Thank you for all the happy memories, SG Hotel on Wheels, and for making Angel's 12th birthday a truly wonderful one! 

Don't miss this video below to see all the fond moments and happy smiles from our staycation!


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FAMILY IS EVERYTHING

We always emphasise on having family gatherings so how could we possibly miss out on celebrating with our parents too, right? So we had them over during the weekend to celebrate Angel's birthday over a home cooked meal, thanks to the hubby and my in-laws, and a cake cutting ceremony. Please know that your grandparents love you very much, my dear Angel, and that you are truly blessed to be surrounded by all of them. I wish Tai Po was here too but I know she is watching over us from the stars above and she would be proud to see how much you've grown and how mature you are now.


FROM ME TO YOU

Dear Angel,

Happy, happy birthday! I hope you enjoyed your celebration this year, especially the family gathering and surprise staycation which we specially planned for you. I know it's been a tough year for you with the arrival of Ansel, with me getting so busy and having little time for you, with the home based learning and all the hiccups, with the pandemic and all the ever changing rules, with juggling your captain duties, academics, PSLE, daughter duties and big sister responsibilities. 

But you know what? You did it and in fact, you did it amazingly well. You've gone above and beyond everything a mum could ever hope for and I am so proud that we've overcome everything together. 

Now that you are more independent and on the verge of becoming a teen, we will still have our challenges and bad days from time to time and I think that is just part and parcel of life. As long as we keep trying and never stop believing, we will be able to cross every obstacle that comes our way.

Thank you for being my trusted helper, a mini Mama to Ansel, a teacher to Ariel and Asher, a proof and constant reminder to me on why motherhood is such a rewarding and worthwhile journey. I love you more than you can ever imagine. I can't wait to see what adventures await you in secondary school. Happy, happy turning 12.

Love, Mama




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Read more on Angel's birthday parties here:

Angel is 11 - It's a Magic Party
 Angel is 10 - A Unicorn Party
Angel is 9 - The Case of Angel's 9th Birthday
Angel is 8 - It's a Sylvanian Tea Party
Angel is 7 - A Royal Princess Party
Angel is 6 - Sofia the First Birthday Bash
Angel is 5 - Let's Get Tangled with Rapunzel
Angel is 4 - Viva La Fiesta with Dora and Friends
Angel is 3 - My Bubbly Bunny
Angel is 2 - Oh Toodles, it's a Disney Party
Angel is 1  - It's a RAINBOW Party


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