Happiness is... turning a year wiser

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 18, 2023
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April makes a special month for me because it is the month in which I was born in 1983 and then got married in 2008. Yup, that also means I officially stepped into the 40s club upon celebrating my birthday this year.

It wasn't a lavish or over the top affair because simplicity has always been more of my style. Moreover, some of us had fallen sick during that period so in order not to spread the virus to others, we chose to stick to ourselves and have a cosy celebration as a family of six. I will dedicate another post for more details and thoughts on turning 40 but here's a quick look at how the month went.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about turning a year older, and hopefully wiser, and treasuring the simple but memorable celebrations. 


I love barbeques, do you? There's something about the aroma of BBQ food that delights me and it's a treat to be able to eat barbequed chicken wings, sweet potatoes and roasted marshmallow. To satisfy my craving, we had a small BBQ session for just the six of us even though some of us were sick. The kids were still happy to jump into the water for a night swim and we also got some ice cream from the supermarket as dessert. My heart lives for such simple but loving moments and it's everything I ever need or can ask for.

Of course, having a meal with our parents is a must too and after we recovered from our illnesses, we took my parents and in-laws out for a yummy steamboat at Golden Mile. My dad brought me my favourite cake, Coco Exotic from Four Leaves, and the kids and I loved every bite of it. Sometimes, I wonder if I make my parents proud with what I've achieved in my life, even though I don't really know what that means apart from having four kids and trying to raise them to the best of my ability. I have done, and will probably continue to do, some silly things and make silly decisions in my life but hopefully they know how much I love them and treasure them all.

Handmade cards mean everything to me and that is something that will never change. The kids made me these beautiful cards for my birthday and I appreciate each and every of them so deeply.

Oh, I did have one lavish celebration with some of my 姐妹s and that is because one of them had gone ahead to book a yacht party when we realised that I had missed one of their hens' night celebration - which was on a yacht - when I was living in Sweden. It was a 尽在不言中 celebration and we talked so much yet many things remained unsaid, and I know these are the girls who know me best in life and will always be there for me when I need them.

For me, it's truly rare to have a few hours of me-time away from the kids so this was very much appreciated. We drank, we sang, we ate, we partied, we chatted, we confided, we had supper after disembarking and the only regret was that I couldn't jump into the water to do paddleboarding due to the presence of lightning. However, that meant I had more time to sit around and chit chat with the girls and that was something I cherished too. Thank you all for the precious memories and for taking time off to spend a day with me!

We still love visiting parks and exploring nature reserves on the weekends and this month, we made our way to Rifle Range Park for the first time. It was drizzling but we didn't let it dampen our enthusiasm but instead continued to hike in the rain. We trekked all the way to the top, took some nice photos, stopped to admire the animals, had some cold beverages to quench our thirst before making our way back.

I hope the kids will always love coming to parks as a family, no matter how busy life gets as they grow older. It won't be easy to keep doing this once they have their own social circles and start to use more electronic devices. But hopefully, we will always know when to keep our phones and just enjoy being close to nature and spending time with family - the one thing that matters most in our lives.

For our 15th wedding anniversary, we brought the kids out for a meal at Swensen's and had a fondue treat too. I know many couples choose to celebrate this day on their own sans kids and they tell me couple time matters. However, besides being impractical for us since we don't leave the kids to other caretakers, I also think both the hubby and I prefer to have everyone together on our special day. It's just how we are wired and how we like things to be in our family. No right or wrong, I guess?

I mentioned before that I can never say no to pasar malams because despite the crowd, we still love eating pasar malam food - orh ah mee sua, braised pork rice, steamed corn, tutu kueh, tea leaf eggs, Taiwanese sausges, Ramly burger etc - and the kids get to play games afterwards too. This time round, we had a blast at the claw machines and caught not only plushies, but instant noodles, biscuits and lots of snacks too. Haha. It makes me feel like a kid sometimes but it's nice doing this with my own children and they enjoy the satisfaction of catching something too.

Back at home, I set up the tent for Ansel to have some fun during the day and also bought a whole tray of beans for sensory play. The siblings still love playing with him and it's nice that he has so many people to entertain him whenever Mama is busy cooking or needs a break. This boy is growing up so fast, isn't he?

I've been blogging and sharing less so it makes me extra grateful to be invited to any media events. Watching movies is still a favourite pastime of ours and we are always happy to attend any premieres. This time, we caught The Super Mario Bros Movie which turned out to be much better than I had expected and it evoked so many childhood memories of mine too while entertaining the kids to the max.

The kids tried out fishing too and since it's a sure-catch pond, you bet they were ecstatic when they fished a gigantic seabass or mangrove jack out of the water. I have to give the hubby credit for letting them have these fun experiences and even though we are not rich, he is always willing to spend on the kids and they are lucky to be able to savour such moments.

The big girl has been saying it's nice to eat Yakiniku and be able to cook your own meat ever since she went out with her friends and tried it. So we went to experience it too and it was indeed pretty yummy! I am a beef lover and like I said just now, I love BBQ food so grilled meat makes me happy too. Hee. It's nice to see that the kids enjoy the cooking process too!

Last but not least, another highlight of April was having a one-on-one date with Ariel! I decided to do something special with each of the kids this year and that will mean I need to take time off with each of them and this has to be done when the hubby is around to look after the rest. Ariel is the first to have a sesson with me and we decided to sign up for a mother-and-child culinary class, woohoo! We had her favourite eggs and toasted bread at Yakun for breakfast before making our way to take the MRT to Buona Vista to Palate Sensations where the class was held. 

For two hours, it was just me and her as we made Shepard's Pie and Chocolate Cupcakes from scratch. We chopped, diced, measured, mixed, fried, frosted and decorated to our hearts' content and I could tell she was very happy that morning doing something she loves with Mama. The end product turned out to be really delicious and we brought them back for the rest of the family to try too. One-on-one dates are precious to me and I hope we'll always find time to do so year after year.

That marks the end of a fun-filled, cosy and memorable April for us and it was a month filled with love, joy, good food and family bliss. I'm truly lucky to turn a year older and be where I am today in my life.

Till the next update!

Happiness is... being together

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 14, 2023
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I love the March holidays even though it only lasts a week. I mean, a week is not that short too and it is a much appreciated and well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Even though it is technically for the kids to take a break from school and from the endless homework, I think I look forward to it as much as they do because I truly enjoy having all the kids at home, of knowing that we can switch off our early morning alarms for the time being and having the freedom to do what we want every single day.

I think that is also why I love weekends so much because I see every weekend as a retreat and an opportunity for me to get away from the mundane chores and mum duties. It helps that the hubby is home on weekends because that is when I feel like I can finally take a break, sleep in more and not feel guilty about not cooking but instead let him take over the reins in the kitchen or just eat takeaways.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about enjoying getaways and every opportunity that the family gets to spend together.

Water playgrounds are still very much a favourite for the kids. Well, not so much for the eldest who is not a water baby and loves being on land more, but for the three younger ones who love every opportunity that they get to splash around. We were thankful to see that the free play areas in shopping malls have started to open up to public again after a long hiatus and the kids had a blast.

We came together with the parents and the extended family to celebrate my mum-in-law's birthday and it's nice that we still keep up with our gatherings quite regularly. When I am a grandparent, I hope to still be able to gather with the kids, and hopefully grandkids, from time to time too. Family is everything to me. Even though I leave the cooking to the hubby and my father-in-law, I am the one who packs and cleans up the house before and after everyone goes and I tell you, that is quite exhausting every time because our house is seldom in a presentable state. Haha.

Did I say before that I love pasar malams? Yup, whenever I see one in our neighbourhood, I can't resist bringing the kids there. We will find a table to sit around, get a variety of food and snacks, and then let the kids have some fun at the claw machines and games.

River Wonders is one of our favourite places to visit even on rainy days as the place is mostly sheltered. It doesn't matter that we've been here umpteen times already, the kids still find every visit fun and interesting as they get to admire the beautiful animals and get up close with nature. We love seeing Kai Kai, Jia Jia and Le Le too and the kids love going on the Amazon Rainforest boat ride. Well, Ansel can't go on that yet so he had to stay with the hubby and the eldest chose to give it a miss too. So sometimes we do have to split up in order for everyone to have fun and the good thing about having a big family in even numbers is that there are quite a few permutations and different ways for us to do so. Haha.

The highlight of our March holidays had to be our visit to Johor Bahru where we visited Legoland, Aeon Mall, Medini Mall and Southkey Mall. This was our first visit to Southkey Mall and the older kids were thrilled to go on a go-karting adventure at Kiddy Circuit. The staff actually allowed Ansel to tag along with one of them but alas he was a little intimidated by it all and chose to stay with me to watch from the sideline instead.

On the other hand, he loved the mini train in Legoland and couldn't get enough of it. Just look at that happy face! I am so thankful to have this last baby to savour these moments with and seeing him happy warms my heart so deeply. For now, he is quite petrified by the dark and doesn't like rides such as Ninjago. He would cling onto me and start whining to show his fear but you know what, I am pretty sure it is a passing phase and he will soon outgrow it and subsequently love these rides as much as his siblings do. For now, I shall be here to comfort, soothe and protect you for as long as you need me, my baby.

Some of this toddler's milestones include going on rides like the City Airport, Beetle Bounce and Junior Driving School for the first time ever. Yup, he has grown taller and passed the minimum height limit since our last visit and now qualifies for more rides. I was full of excitement and even hysterical when he went into the car himself and kept telling him to step on the pedal, keep his foot there and turn at the bends. He didn't quite manage to do everything but considering it was his maiden attempt, I think he did very well and was a brave little boy.

He laughed so much on Beetle Bounce which reminded me of how Asher laughed and cried on his first try. Haha. Well, Ansel loved it and wasn't scared at all and you should see how wide open his mouth was and how loud he was. It just made all of happy to see and hear him like that and I would never get tired of accompanying my kids on such rides as long as they still want to do it.

The older kids are still very happy to visit Legoland and look forward to every trip. So I think we still have many years to go before they all find this place too kiddy for them. Simple things like touching a sea star in SEA Life and building a LEGO house still bring them joy and make them smile and I am thankful for that.

This time round, we stayed at an apartment because the cost is just too much different from staying in the hotel. We paid for around S$80 per night for this 3-bedroom apartment which comes equipped with a kitchen so we could make our own breakfasts every day and we even cooked dinner on one of the nights too. Yup, it just makes more sense to stay in apartments when you have a big family. I love how cosy everything was too and we always make it a point to have movie nights on our overseas trips. The playground downstairs was a bonus and kept the kids happy every morning.

Even though I don't think the rides at the Water Park in LEGOLAND are that thrilling - in fact, we agreed that the rides in Wild Wild Wet can be more exhilarating instead - we still love coming here and every visit is an enjoyable one. The wave pool is a big hit with the kids who just love to laze around here and Ansel loves many of the rides and activities including the Duplo pool, Build-a-raft River and boat building using LEGO bricks.

Since the hubby was nursing an injured knee, that meant I was the one to accompany the older kids on the rides and despite the long queues, we still had a blast and enjoyed every ride. It's funny that Asher and I are always the ones screaming the loudest while the girls just choose to be cool or laugh it off. Haha.

Being able to spend time with their Papa is one of the things the kids most look forward to and one of the reasons why holidays are so precious to our family. You will understand this if you are married to a sailor and know why time spent together is so scarce and invaluable. Doing things as simple as taking a train ride around the park still brings us joy and I think it's because of one reason only - that we are together as a family.

It's also nice seeing the kids grow up together and even though bickers are still inevitable and will probably always be so, their love for one another is plain to see despite the differences in age. Siblings are one of the best gifts I have given to them and hopefully one day they will realise this too. I love seeing how they shared two Paddle Pop ice creams among themselves - 你一口,我一口 - and it is my dream that they will always appreciate the simple joys in their lives.

The boys also love the kiddy car rides at AEON Mall which the girls have already outgrown but they still like using the remote control to help the little one navigate his way around. You know, just a few years more and all my kids would have outgrown such rides and I'm not sure how I would feel then. I know I will definitely miss having the younger them around and still be able to lift them up, hug them to sleep or kiss them every night. These are the perks of being a mum that I don't wish to take granted and that is why I hold Ansel close to me every day while he is still tiny.

Given how the kids are growing up and how I've stopped being so active on the blog and on social media, sponsored opportunities are getting less and less as the days pass by and it's an inevitable part of this journey. If you are one of the readers who have stayed with us all these years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and rest assured that I will keep writing not to earn, but to truly share about our family journey. 

I have kind of made peace with it and instead of lamenting on lost opportunities, I cherish what we still get and for those that we don't but I know that the kids will enjoy, we pay for them from our own pockets and find a way that works for us. For instance, for Disney Magic on Ice, I made use of a bank promotion and booked for us tickets in one of the lower categories so that we can still go as a family. It is always a fun performance to watch because of how we can relate to every story and we love seeing the grace of the skaters as they glide on the slippery ice.

I really wanted to bring the girls to watch Frozen the Musical and since we did not manage to do a media review, I paid for the tickets for three of us. Despite sitting at one of the last rows, it it was an awesome mum-and-daughters night out and I hope my girls will always have fond memories of that evening as we sang to familiar tunes and were captivated by this classic story of two sisters who loved each other so much - perfect for the two of them.

The airport is one of our favourite places to hang out during the holidays because there is always so much we can do here. This time round, we scaled the walls at Climb@T3 and as usual, indoor climbing is such a challenging but fun and rewarding sport. I love seeing their looks of joy and how they get a sense of achievement every time they get to the top and the best part is I get to do it with them too so we can cheer each other on.

We also went on mini carnival rides at the Rilakkuma Holiday and even though it was more meant for younger kids like Ansel, the rest still accompanied him so that he wouldn't be lonely and having him with them meant they could still find a reason to enjoy kiddy rides, haha. Yes, dear baby, you are so blessed to have three elder siblings who dote on you so much and can't get enough of being with you. 

After every retreat, it's still an awesome feeling to be home because that is still the best place to be. Never mind the constant mess with toys strewn all over, the never ending piles of laundry and just lots of things scattered here and there. Having a mess of toys in the living room means that the kids are playing together instead of being glued to their own devices and staying cooped in their bedroom, right? Yup, I choose to see the positive side of things and be grateful for what we have. We play together, sing together, watch movies together, dance together, eat together, do chores together, laze together, read together and just grow up - for me, it's grow old - together.

Together. I guess that word is one of my favourites in the dictionary because it just means so much to me. Till the next update!

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