Happiness is... seeking the rainbow

Posted by ~Summer~ on 31.3.15
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Rainbows speak directly to our heart and soul, filling us with awe and energies 
of liquid love pouring all around us. Rainbows bring the promise that the 
troubles of today will surely come to pass, hold strong in your faith and 
vision, and rainbows will bring fresh beginnings and new prosperity.

The rainbow is also an extraordinary symbol of following our hearts' desire 
and purpose. To get to the end of the rainbow is a symbol for of the 
celebration of that fulfillment. The end of the rainbow signifies a pot of gold 
and the magic surrounding your dreams coming true, and the end of the 
rainbow is the enchanted magical land of leprechauns. 

Rainbows. I always find them so magical, beautiful and even a little mysterious.

There have been so many talks and quotes about rainbows recently and it got me pondering about what lies at the end of the rainbow that I was, and have been, chasing after my whole life. Is it leading a happy life with my loved ones? Is it being the best mum I can be and enjoying the most of motherhood? Is it being a blogger capable of inspiring others along the way? Is it making a difference to the community and helping others in need? To be honest, I'm still in the process of figuring it all out.

March 2015 marks three events which were especially significant to me, and through them all, I think I learnt a great deal about confidence, tenacity, independence, hope and strength. In this month's "Happiness is...", it's all about seeking the rainbow.

******

#1. Sharing my views as a stay-at-home mum on national TV

Yes, most of you have probably watched the show and read my behind-the-scene post in the making of our video clip. While I received overwhelming responses from readers and strangers, most of which were to kindly thank me for sharing my story and letting them know they are not alone, there were also a handful who probably thought I did it for the glamour and the fame.

I had a friend who commented "Why do we stay-at-home mums need others to tell us our worth?" and thus was not inclined to watch the show in the least. The thing is, the last thing I need on earth is for someone to measure my worth and tell me how much I am valued in monetary terms. No, thank you very much but I don't need that at all.

Another friend commented that she was furious that they compared my worth to a domestic helper. To be honest, I didn't care much about that because anyone sane would know that they can't be compared in that sense. Motherly love is the one intangible, priceless ingredient that cannot be replicated. So what for be bothered by it, years of experience told me that it was wiser to just laugh it off and move on.

So, why did I do it? I asked myself that question too. I will admit that part of the motivating factor was for self - I took this as a personal challenge and wanted to see if I could rise up to it. To be able to articulate my views on national TV, to be able to speak cohesively after conversing in baby language half the time, to be able to put my somewhat rusty brains to use and convince myself I can still do it.

However, a much stronger and compelling reason for me to go on the show was simply because I could be the voice of all SAHMs. I mean, I'm just me, a normal mum, a normal Singaporean, a normal blogger leading a normal life. How many opportunities do I get in my life that I get to fight for a case, to represent a bigger group of like-minded people, to present an unseen side of our mostly taken for granted roles to the rest of the world? The answer is probably just once in a lifetime.

That burning passion, that strong conviction and that unwavering resolution I felt as a stay-home mum chased away all my apprehension and gave me the courage I never knew I possessed. I just knew I had to do it so that I will not regret it when I look back on my life.

As long as I inspired at least one person, made another think twice before passing a malicious remark, or helped to reassure, comfort and motivate some of us in one way or another, I think it was worth it. For once, this was not just about my blog, my kids or myself. This was about a community and I was glad I could play a part in speaking up.

#2. Braving solo parenting and making the most of it

This month was also the time where the hubby had to attend a course in Bremen, Germany, which we had initially planned to tag along but gave up when we realised how it would easily cost a bomb. You might think that being a military wife, I am very used to the notion of solo parenting. Yes, I guess you can say so. But that doesn't mean it gets any easier.

Sending off the hubby always makes my heart ache and while some say absence makes the heart fonder, on days when the kids drive me up the wall and make me weep into the pillow, I wish, I just wish that he was right here with me to tell me that things were going to be all right.

That said, I never do like to show my weaknesses to the kids and in front of them, I'm always the brave, happy, positive mum. So, even though Daddy was not around, I promised them that we would go through a week filled with fun, exciting activities and they were going to have a ball of a time. And so, we did.

I took them picnicking and we attended an outdoor movie screening at Gardens by the Bay. I remember pushing the stroller up the bridge, with both of them sitting inside, and I panted with every breath, wondering what I had just signed myself up for and debating if I was really getting old and unfit.





As we laid down to watch the dazzling lights at the Supertree Grove, I took a deep breath and told myself "See, it isn't so bad after all, right?"



Then, in the same week, I also took the kids on pony rides where we queued up for nearly an hour under the scorching sun. We also had to squeeze and jostle with the unexpectedly huge crowd who was there on the same opening weekend to feed the ponies, take photographs and watch the live stage shows. All worth it for those big smiles, don't you think so?

On the day that the hubby came back, we also went for a beach photoshoot in the morning, the first family shoot which we did without him. To be frank, I did contemplate if I could handle two kids on the set alone, knowing jolly well that they would be distracted by the sand and the waters. Would I be able to make them listen to the photographer? Were they going to pose and smile for the camera? Could we really make it? Once again, it felt like a challenge to me and as you know me by now, it was a challenge I gamely accepted.

You won't know if you don't try. No venture, no gain. Practice makes perfect. These are some of the mottos I believe in and I think at this moment, we are enjoying the fruits of our labour by going through these experiences. Two cooperative kids, one blessed blogger mum, a happy family, many precious keepsakes. (In case you are wondering, yes it still takes hard work to get everything to work and it only gets better through practice.)

Did we manage to rush to the airport in time to pick their beloved Daddy? You bet. And though these two never did mention they missed him, they were definitely over the moon to be in his arms once again. Me, I was just happy I survived the week, accomplished more than I thought I could and emerged triumphant.

#3. Turning sorrow into strength from the loss of our founding father

Last but not least, this was probably a life-changing milestone for many Singaporeans - the passing of our beloved Mr Lee Kuan Yew. If I say that I don't like to show my weaknesses to my kids, for the past week, I just revealed my most vulnerable side and for more reasons than one, I just couldn't stop the tears from gushing out.

I tried to think of why I cried so much at this day which I knew jolly well would come. Sometimes, I had no answer and couldn't really begin to describe my own feelings. Yet at other times, I figured out it was a combination of too many emotional factors.

I cried because I discovered how much I respected and admired this great man who built the strong pillars that holds up our society. I cried because I realised I didn't know him well and wished I had met him or at least, read more about him, paid more attention to his news reports, listened to more of his speeches, when he was still alive. I cried because I knew in my heart just how much he had done for me, for my family, my kids and my grandchildren in future, yet I could do nothing in return for him.

I cried because I was born in the 1980s where we could only imagine all the poverty, instability and wars that our forefathers had gone through. I cried because I listened to PM Lee delivering his speech less than 5 hours after losing his father and felt how unbearable it must have been. I cried when I listened to all the moving eulogies and marvelled at the legacy and touching stories that he has left behind. I cried when I read how sweet, loving and tender the man with the iron fist was to his wife especially after she suffered a stroke. I cried when I realised the meaning of everlasting, eternal love and asked myself if I could possibly do that for my partner. 

I cried when I bowed to him and did a portrait for him, realising that this was the most I could do at this point in time. I cried when I realised over one million of fellow Singaporeans felt the same emotions that I felt. I cried when I saw people getting drenched in the tears of heaven to send off the cortege. I cried because for the first time in many years, I was bursting with national pride when I recited our pledge and sang our national anthem. I cried because I finally realised what it meant to be a Singaporean, and I'm so proud to be one.

The national mourning week may have passed but that doesn't mean the grief just vanishes from our hearts. Moving on doesn't mean we forget, it just means we accept and let go. In true LKY style, he would want us to turn sorrow into strength, to get on with our lives, to draw lessons from this ordeal, to unite as a nation and let Singapore continue to be a safe, prosperous, clean and happy place for generations to live in.

Thank you for teaching me to believe in the impossible, to always hold on to hope and to never give up even when the world gives up on you.

******

So, while I know at least I am now riding on the motherhood rainbow and cherishing every bit of it, I also intend to seek out other rainbows waiting for me and when the time comes, I hope I will ride on every one of them. What are you happy for this month?



What are you HAPPY for this month? 

Happy memories have a special way of touching our hearts every time we think about them. Join in my linky party at the end of every month and let us smile, rejoice and share the simple joys of life. Highlight and press Ctrl + C to copy my button above, include it in your post/sidebar and add your link below. For happiness is all around us.


Summer Holiday with #WismaOOTD

Posted by ~Summer~ on 30.3.15
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The girls and I did something really fun just two weeks ago! For the first time ever, we were going to be.....

BEACH MODELS!

Yes, you read right. Never in a million years would I have imagined that one day I would be strolling along Siloso beach clad in a swimming costume, sarong, shades and hat with a photographer by the side snapping away. In any case, I surely wouldn't have landed this sort of deal had it not been for my two lovely girls who looked absolutely ravishing and adorable in their swimming suits.

Ariel is dressed in a flamingo bikini with lacy ruffles from Seafolly and Angel in a green polka dotted pineapple rash vest and a bikini bottom from Cotton On Kids. Believe or not, both of them chose their own outfits and I must say they have pretty good taste!

On the day of the photoshoot, we arrived early in Sentosa which was bustling with tourists and families looking to have a good time under the sun on a Sunday morning. I changed into my Zarhara Keyhole Maillot swimsuit from Seafolly which I personally fell in love with when I first saw it. Don't you just find it so summery and cheerful?

Just to protect my modesty a little, and also because those stretch marks and flabby thighs are not much to look at, I requested for a sarong and loved the look of this Splendour Sarong Raspberry from Seafolly. Once we settled down, it was time for make-up! Yes, beach photoshoot also must have make-up but we chose to go for the bare minimum and be as natural as possible. It was a scorching day and from the way I constantly perspired, I felt quite sure that I would ruin the makeup in a matter of minutes.

Anyway, the kids were happily playing with the sand but halfway through the make-up, Ariel came running up saying "Poo, poo!" Obviously she did not have on any diapers since she was dressed in her bathing suit already. So with my hair in a mess and face half done, I rushed to bring her to the loo and that was when I discovered that she had already pooped in her pants.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I started to panic a little and in between cleaning her up and washing her soiled bikini bottom, I couldn't help but find it quite hysterical and started laughing. This funny little girl just never fails to surprise me every day, right?

Thankfully, it was quite easy to wash away the poo and dry her bikini bottom with the hand dryer. Once we were all done, it was time to bring it on! Check out how delighted and happy Ariel looked in her shades! You know, I must say I love how round, bulging tummies look especially cute on toddlers!

As for Angel, this girl has been trained up well over the years and I love how she never fails to give a stunning, wide smile for the camera.

The theme of the photoshoot was to bring out the fun of summer holidays and to be honest, it really wasn't that hard because in reality, we do love to have a picnic or play by the beach! So, that essentially meant that all we had to do was to - be us.






The crew was kind to provide picnic goodies for us like macaroons, cookies, biscuits and fruits. They thought my kids would have loved to eat the snacks but I knew better. They attacked the strawberries and ate almost every single of them in just a few minutes! Look, we even did 'strawberry cheers'!



We also had to take turns to do some solo shots and I thought it would take quite a while to accomplish. However, thanks to the efficiency of the photographer and full-fledged cooperation from the kids, each of us only took 5-10 minutes! Yes, even little Ariel was able to understand instructions and did everything that she was told. Mummy is so proud of you, my dear!



I especially loved the pictures of the girls and felt really thankful for the kind weather, warm waters and friendly crew which made these precious keepsakes possible.

I had thought that the shoot would last half a day or so but in the end, it took less than two hours to complete! In fact, the kids were so eager to continue playing and we decided to stay on for a few more hours to truly enjoy our girls day out at the beach.

These shots of us playing with the beach ball were some of my favourites of the day!






It's not hard to tell that the kids were really having a good time, right? If the pictures were meant to illustrate hot bikini babes under the sun, we would have fallen short. But if they were to showcase a happy family just having fun and enjoying life, I kind of think we nailed it.

Thanks to everyone who made this photoshoot opportunity possible for us! We had a blast and totally enjoyed this experience from start to end! Summer holidays rock!

******

For those of you who love to shop at Wisma Atria, these contests and promotions might excite you!


#WismaOOTD Facebook Contest
Vote for your favourite #WismaOOTD photo and win $30 Wisma Atria shopping vouchers! You don't have to vote for me but I'm hoping you'll like one of the girls' outfits!

1. Like Wisma Atria's Facebook page here.
2. State your favourite #WISMAOOTD photo and why by commenting on the contest post.
3. Like, tag and share the post to participate!
 Contest ends 12 April 2015.

Click HERE to view the full editorial post featuring me and my kids. Woohoo!

Win a Beach Holiday or PS3
Shop at Wisma Atria with minimum spend of $200 and stand to win a trip to Gaya Island Resort - a 5-star luxury resort in Malaysia, or a PS3 (500GB) Charcoal Black! Promotion ends 5 April. Find out details on how you can win here.

Disclosure: We were compensated for the photoshoot but not for this blog post. This was written because I wanted to record this experience and share these happy moments. All swimsuits are sponsored and photographs provided by OCG. All opinions are my own.

A hero in my heart

Posted by ~Summer~ on 23.3.15
in

"I have spent my life, so much of it, 
building up this country. 
There’s nothing more that I need to do. 
At the end of the day, what have I got? 
A successful Singapore. 
What have I given up? 
My life."
- Lee Kuan Yew

I always knew that this day would come. I just didn't know it would make me cry this hard.

This morning, I woke up to learn about the demise of our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew through an outpouring of wishes on Instagram. I badly wanted to believe that it was another prank played by a youngster who had utterly no respect for this man who fought for Singapore all his life. I was hoping it might be a dream because deep down, every inch of me was hoping for him to join us at National Day Parade this year to celebrate our nation turning 50.

Image credit

“You begin your journey not knowing where it will take you. 
You have plans, you have dreams, but every now and again 
you have to take uncharted roads, face impassable mountains, 
cross treacherous rivers, be blocked by landslides and earthquakes. 
That’s the way my life has been.”
- Lee Kuan Yew

Today, I told Angel that a great man, somebody very important to Singapore, has just passed away. Though she nodded her head, she could not understand much of what I was trying to put across and then went to school as usual.

I tried to carry on with the chores and then realised that as I was vacuuming the floor, tears started to drip down uncontrollably. That feeling, that sense of loss, why is it so unbearable?

Then, I was having lunch with Ariel and watched her jump up and down in her chair, when all of a sudden, I noticed her looking earnestly into my eyes and that was when I realised they were wet once again.

When I had a little peace and quiet in the house as the little one took her nap, that was when I watched PM Lee's national address. Every word of his speech, including and especially the pauses in between his words, made me weep uncontrollably in front of my laptop.

It was then I realised that LKY wasn't just a great man, from the way he protected our nation and loved the people like his own, he was like a father to me.

Image credit




For reasons of sentiment, I would like part of my ashes to be 
mixed up with Mama’s, and both her ashes and mine put side 
by side in the columbarium. We were joined in life and
I would like our ashes to be joined after this life.
- Lee Kuan Yew to his children 

I'm not saying that he is the only man behind our success, because I think credit must also go to his founding team of strong and competent Cabinet members like Toh Chin Chye, Lim Kim San, S. Rajaratnam, Goh Keng Swee. E.W. Barker and Ong Pang Boon. These were the political personalities who stepped forward at a vital period to serve as leaders and played key roles in shaping our nation. However, it is indisputable that he was the leader, the biggest driving force behind it all and without him, Singapore would not be where she is today.

 Today, I live in a country where I can roam the streets at night and have supper without worrying about the safety of my family. I married a navy officer who is proud of his work and I am proud to be his wife.

I am effectively bilingual and no matter which country I go, I take pride in knowing that I can speak fluent English while never forgetting that Chinese is my well-loved mother tongue.

We have a public transport system that is very accessible and getting from one place on the island to another, even with two kids and a stroller in tow, has been made possible.

I have friends from all races and appreciate the fact that we made racial harmony a dream come true. It's not often found in a country where you have Indian friends who visit you on Chinese New Year and you visit them on Deepavali, right?

I live in a beautiful, garden-like city filled with greenery and blooms. A clean and green city is what sets us apart from many other countries.

My kids will be able to go to school and receive first-class education. We have access to world-class healthcare services and those in need receive medical subsidies.

I stay in a HDB flat and even if that means we will take over 20 years to finance our loan, the fact remains that we have a home and a roof over our heads. Our kids have a room, our parents have a room and we live together as one happy family.

All these, and so much more, make me very happy and proud to be a Singaporean. Regardless of where I stay or which places I travel to, this place, and only this place, will truly be home.

******

I want my kids to grow up knowing how blessed they are to be born in this generation, I want them to remember the sweat, tears and efforts of our forefathers, I want them to understand how much it took for Singapore to transform from a mudflat to metropolis, I want them to be grateful and not take prosperity, success and harmony for granted.

Yes, they can be discerning individuals, they can have the rights to critize and disapprove, they can make tactful and wise comments, they can have a voice that belongs to the new generation, but they can never deny or forget our heritage, our history and the contributions of the people who strove hard, fought hard and sacrificed their lives to bring us to where we stand today.

Thank you, Mr Lee, and all those who made an impossible dream come true and for not giving up. I'm proud to be a Singaporean and I hope as your people, we can continue to pass down your legacy. Thank you for not leaving us behind but propelling us to move forward as a nation. Life goes on, even stronger than before, because of what you have taught us. Never fear!

After my mother’s second stroke in 2008, she became bed-bound and could no longer accompany my father on his travels overseas or to social functions here. Every night after returning home from work, my father now spends about two hours telling my mother about his day and reading aloud her favourite poems to her.

The poetry books are rather thick and heavy, so he uses a heavy-duty music stand to place the books. One night, he was so sleepy, he fell asleep while reading to my mother, slumped forward and hit his face against the music stand. Since the music stand was made of metal, he suffered abrasions on his face. He cursed himself for his carelessness but still carries on reading aloud to my mother every night.

They are not only lovers, they are also best friends. There has never been any calculation about how much each had invested in the relationship. Theirs is an unconditional love.
- Dr Lee Wei Ling on Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, her parents 

P.S. I was really touched by the anecdotes shared by Dr Lee Wei Ling which portrayed the sweet, sentimental side of our founding father. Deep down, I am so happy that he found the love of his life who stuck with him through thick and thin and I sincerely hope they are now reunited in love and in peace. We will always miss you, our father.

Creativity 521 #65 - The Mystery Box

Posted by ~Summer~ on 21.3.15
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I remember we were at a carnival last year and one of the station games was getting the kids to put their hands into a mystery box to guess the item. Angel queued up for her turn to play and when she started to reach out her hand, I was all ready to capture that moment. Alas, she hesitated for a matter of a few seconds, then started to whine, shook her head and even cried.

Yes, my brave girl who can hold a live prawn, stroke a python and go on the trapeze was actually scared of a box! It was then I realised that I could actually try to do something to help her overcome her fear of the unknown and turn this into a fun learning game too!

So, in this week's Creativity 521, we made something very, very simple but I think it will provide us with hours of entertainment - A DIY Mystery Box!

What we used:

1) Empty tissue box
2) Cloth
3) Pipe cleaners
4) Scissors
5) Alphabet stickers
6) Double sided tape
7) Decorative tape
8) Glue

First, we used the cloth to wrap the tissue box the same way we would wrap a gift, using double sided tape to secure the edges.

Next, I cut a slit a the top with a width that was approximately the same as the box opening. To add some glitter and also prevent fraying, I pasted silver decorative tape around the slit.



If your slit tends to open up too wide (depending on the type of fabric you use) or if your child likes to peek, you can also stick a piece of black cloth underneath so that it helps to conceal the contents. It's much easier if you do this before wrapping the box!

Lastly, decorate the box with stickers, beads, sequins or any embellishments of your choice.

We kept ours very straightforward by naming it Mystery Box using alphabet stickers (I used glue to double secure them onto the cloth). Question marks made out of pipe cleaners were also made and glued onto the box. And we are all done! Easy peasy, right?

So, these were the items we used for our first round of Mystery Box game. You can basically use anything around the house that can fit into the opening! If you prefer a bigger hole, you can cut away one shorter side of the box and wrap it in such a way that it can be opened up so you can place the item.


We took turns to play and other than guessing the object, I also tasked Angel to give descriptions of the item using adjectives like hard, soft, smooth, rough, sharp, small, big, slim, fat, furry, round, squarish and so on. I wanted to let Ariel try too but soon I realised she was much more interested in filling up the whole box with items she could find from basically anywhere.



This time round, my big girl was not scared, no not scared at all, but instead very proud and delighted when she managed to make the correct guesses. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that she now loves to play the Mystery Box game and will have the confidence to step up to the challenge the next time.

Have a happy weekend, people!

For our DIY tutorials and craft inspiration, visit my gallery here.

******



To fellow bloggers who have a fun craft session, DIY tip or creative idea to share, come join in the party! Highlight and press Ctrl + C to copy my button above, include it in your post/sidebar and add your link below. I will be hosting Creativity 521 on the 5th and 21st of every month, do hop over for more inspiration. Remember: The sky's the limit when it comes to creativity!

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