Creativity 521 #115 - DIY Slime for kids

Posted by ~Summer~ on October 13, 2017
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The girls have been talking about this latest fad that their friends are playing with in school and even though they have shown their interest for quite a while, I just didn't see the fun or purpose behind it and so procrastinated on getting any for them. Can you guess what it is?

Well, you've probably seen it being sold in tubs all over the island and it comes in many textures and colours. Right, I'm talking about SLIME, the one thing that I've never really liked as a kid. Don't ask me why, I just find it a little too gooey and yucky for my liking though I do think playing with it can be a good stress reliever.

Anyway, it was Children's Day last week and since I usually like to do something special on this day with the kids, I decided to put away my own opinions, snap out of my procrastination and together, we made our very own SLIME for the first time (yes, I foresee there will be a second, third, fourth and so on, you'll see why when you see their happy smiles).

In this Creativity 521 post, I'll share with you how we made our kid-friendly, easy-to-make DIY Slime that anyone can do at home too!


Materials used:

1) PVA glue
2) Food colouring
3) Baking soda
4) Contact lens solution
5) Baby/body oil
6) Mixing bowls and spatulas

Before I start, I have to tell you that there are a million ways to make your own slime and this is just one of it. I think the fun and creative part of it lies in that you can make a different version every time by varying the ingredients. You can change the colours, add different textures, scent it with fragrances or even put in surprise elements too. If you need any inspiration, just search online and you'll be amazed by all the types of slime you can make. I tried to look for the most kid-friendly one and ended up doing what we did, which turned out to be better than what I had expected.


First, squeeze out approximately a cup of glue (we used a 236ml tube) into the mixing bowl. You can either use white glue or transparent one, as long as it is PVA glue. and end up with either an opaque or translucent looking slime.


Add in one teaspoon of baking soda. Let your child try handling the measuring spoon on her own and don't worry about getting a little more or less, it doesn't have to be exact.


Next, decide on the colour of slime and add in 1-2 drops of food colouring accordingly. You can mix the colours if you desire too.


Using the spatula, mix everything together in a smooth, circular motion.


Once the colour blends in well and is consistent, it's time to add in the slime activator! I never knew this could work and if you didn't too, well guess what? All you need is a contact lens solution! Most people should have this at home, right? Anyway, if you are like us who don't have it (I don't wear glasses and the hubby went through lasik), just get a bottle from any nearby pharmacy or optician.


Add in the solution bit by bit, be sure to mix well every time after you do. Don't squirt too much or your slime might end up too hard and well, no one finds it fun when slime is not soft or sticky enough, right? From our experience, we think that the slime will still absorb the activator and come together over time when allowed to stand, so at the point of mixing, it's better to let the slime be a little gooey.


To make it less sticky on the fingers, you can add in a few drops of baby oil or body oil too. I only had argan oil at home at that time and it worked just as well too.


Once your slime looks slimy enough, put away the spatulas and it's time for that long-awaited moment! Yup, time to use your hands to mix it thoroughly. Add in more activator if you need (be sure to do it a drop or two at a time) and for those who are more adventurous, you can also add in some glitter, sparkles or even fragrances too!

And TA-DAH! We are all done with our SLIME, easy peasy slimy squeezy, right? Do the kids love it? Oh yes, very very very much. In fact, we did it twice consecutively because it turned out to be really quite fun in creating our own slime too. If you can't beat them, join them, isn't it? I'm just glad we went through this absolutely sticky, slimy session together and according to them, it's an awesome Children's Day gift. Ending off this post with more of their happy pics!







Now, won't you have a go at making your own slime too? Don't say I taught you to! At the very least, it's quite a guaranteed way to inject some fun and bring about lots of squeals and laughter from the kids!

P.S. Just a word of caution, the slime is extremely sticky so be extra careful in handling it. One of ours got stuck in the big girl's hair and we had a super hard time trying to get it out (which is virtually impossible without tugging off some of the hair too). She says it's worth it though, haha!

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


Books Review and Giveaway + Year-end Pop-Up Author Special featuring Emily Lim

Posted by ~Summer~ on October 11, 2017
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It can be very tricky trying to handle three kids during bedtime reading, especially when one reads fast and likes lengthy books, another is learning to read and does it slowly, and a third who never fails to disrupt our session in one way or another.

That said, it has been years since we started this habit and we still do it as best as we can every night. Yes, every single night. I'm just thankful to see that our efforts have paid off and the kids have developed a love for reading and a thirst for knowledge.

One of our favourite local authors is Emily Lim and you can read our reviews of the renowned Toy series here and the Tibby series here and here. Up till now, they remain as two of our most-loved series - the kids still take the books to read and have also brought them for Show & Tell in school so they can share these inspiring tales with their friends. What I love most about the books are the underlying values and morals, like how they encourage you to stay true to yourself, remind you that it is okay to be different, and make you realise that you have to first accept yourself before others can accept you.

In today's post, I will be sharing with you on two of Emily's latest books, which are namely Tibby and Scaredy Snout and Benji, Yumi, Origami!. With the festive season approaching, I would also like to encourage you to consider giving away books to the little ones instead of toys or apparel. Books are one of the best ways to learn about our world, our surroundings and ourselves - and motivate us to strive to become better, stronger and wiser people. For all A Happy Mum readers, you can now get to enjoy special discounted prices for many of Emily's award-winning titles and her recent releases too. I also have a giveaway at the end of the post, so read on to find out more!



Tibby and Scaredy Snout

Tibby the tiger-bunny has come a long way from being a shy, insecure bunny who likes to roar and squeak to a courageous, confident bunny who can now motivate his friends and even guide them in overcoming their fears.


In this third book of the Tibby series, meet Scaredy Snout - a young boar who is scared of everything. Yes, literally everything. He is afraid of scary creatures that come out at night, of getting roasted by the afternoon sun, of monsters hiding in dark places, of giant worms beneath the ground and of monsters in the lake.




As a result, Scaredy Snout does not do what boars naturally do and not surprisingly, he has no friends. When Tibby meets Scaredy Snout, he encourages his new friend to come out of his shell and shows him how fun and joyful it can be to have a picnic in a cave, to dig for sweet potatoes, to splash around in the lake and to have a game of tug-of-weed.


At every step of the way, Tibby would be there to encourage his friend, to dispel his fears and to cheer and support him to keep trying. Eventually, Scaredy Snout plucks up the courage to come face to face with the monster he is so fearful of - which all along existed only in his imagination. In the end, he realises all the good things he has been missing out on, gets rid of his fears and even manages to make new boar friends too.


The story is a simple one with a powerful message that teaches the little ones to have the courage to face their fears and overcome challenges in their lives. This comes at a perfect time for us because I've been telling the girls recently that they need to care less on what others think of them, to conquer their fears and to be able to stay true to themselves.



Likewise with the previous two books, we totally love the vibrant illustrations by Jade Fang which help to bring the characters to life and give the book so much more colour. I also love the new character Scaredy Snout because I feel that his personality and circumstances can resonate with many of us - not to mention that he has such an adorable name too!

******

Benji, Yumi, Origami!

Did you know that I took up Japanese classes for nearly a year when I was abroad? Yup, not that I can remember half of what I've learnt but the fact remains that I am still very much in love with the language which is music to my ears. So, I was very thrilled to receive a copy of this book which, though written in English by Emily, has a Japanese translation! Yup, time to practise reading those hiragana and katakana! Moreover, I loved doing origami - the art of paper folding - as a kid so with the story revolving around it, this book spoke to me on many levels.



The story tells of Benji, who receives a present from his new neighbour Yumi, and it turns out to be origami paper and instructions on how to fold them into animal shapes. He starts making frogs, bugs, squirrels, lobsters and dinosaurs but alas they all turn out to be crooked, lopsided, crushed, mangled or out of shape. This causes him much agony and makes him give up on trying.



When Yumi shows up at the door, Benji brings her to the playroom where she picks up the origami animals one by one. Instead of mocking his lack of skills or teasing him about the weird looking animals, Yumi shows her kindness and gives creative, tactful responses such as "This frog (with the twisted mouth) looks like it is humming quietly" and  "This (crumpled) frog is staring at his reflection in the water ripples". Before long, they start to play a game and come up with scenarios for each of the animals - for instance putting the squashed bug under a toy cowboy's boot and drawing a web for the mangled bug.



After that, Yumi suggests folding more animals and when Benji doesn't seem so confident about it, she offers her help. They end up having such a fun time folding origami the whole afternoon. Benji is so grateful and delighted that he adds a last scene with two cut-outs of pirate children and fills a treasure chest with all their origami animals - to present as a gift for his new friend and neighbour.


Awww, I love the sweet ending and the illustrations by Kazumi Wilds on the final two pages are out of this world too. These cute origami pictures bring back so many fond memories for me and I can just recall those childhood days when we were free of electronic devices and treasured the times we got to play with things that we could literally feel, stack, fold, play, throw and build.


The big girl loves this book and while it gives her a glimpse into Japanese culture and why it is the most polite nation, I am more in love with the fact that it reminds her on how friendship is a two-way street and not a one-way road, how we can learn to see things from different perspectives, and how important it is to persevere and not give up when we run into obstacles.


So, we will definitely keep our bedtime reading sessions coming no matter how long it takes or how little time we have, and I truly hope that the kids' love for reading will be here to stay.

******

Year-end Pop-Up Author Special at A Happy Mum

If there's one thing we can never get enough of, yes, it's BOOKS! (Okay, that and love, and family time, and hugs, and cuddles). If any of you feel the same too, good news, all readers of A Happy Mum can now buy autographed copies of Emily Lim’s award-winning titles and enjoy free delivery during this promotional period from now till 31 October 2017. These books will make an awesome Christmas present for the little ones, so why not get them something to read this festive season?


Below is the price list for the books. All readers can enjoy a 30% discount for the books that we have reviewed in this post.

Prince Bear & Pauper Bear - $12
The Tale of Rusty Horse - $12
Just Teddy - $12
Bunny Finds The Right Stuff - $12

Set of all 4 Toy titles (English) - $36 (4 for the price of 3)
Set of 3 Toy titles (Chinese)* minus Prince Bear & Pauper Bear (Chinese) which is out of stock - $24 (3 for the price of 2)

Tibby the Tiger Bunny - $15
Tibby & Duckie - $15
Tibby & Scaredy Snout - $10 (30% off usual price)

Set of 3 Tibby titles - $34 (25% off for 3 titles)

Benji, Yumi, Origami! (hard cover) - $10 (30% off usual price)

Finding My Voice - $14 (30% off usual price)

To order your books, fill up the form here and drop me an email at summer@ahappymum.com.

******

Giveaway on A Happy Mum

For those who would like to lay their hands on the two books we've reviewed above, here's your chance to win one of the two sets that we're giving away!


To participate, leave a comment in this blog post with your name and email address, and tell me which is your favourite book by Emily Lim and why. Indicate that you have done so and to increase your chances of winning, you can choose to carry out the rest of the options. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Disclosure: We received a copy of each book in return for writing this review. The year-end pop up special is a collaboration between A Happy Mum and Emily Lim and we will receive a small commission from the orders. All opinions are our own.


Review of Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri - A pocket-friendly, family-oriented accommodation for LEGOLAND lovers

Posted by ~Summer~ on October 05, 2017
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We love going on holidays as a family. Yes, even though the adults are outnumbered by the kids and we have to keep our eyes peeled every step of the way, the hubby and I still take a family vacation whenever we can. The thing is, with the increased expenses now that we have more kids and the fact that we just shifted to a new home this year, we try to minimise our spending on holidays by avoiding peak periods, making use of bundled deals or promotions and visiting neighbouring countries instead of dreaming to set foot on other continents.

Now, one of our most visited places this year has to be Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Come on, it's so easy for us to get there by car and you see, as long as we bring along passports and go out of the country, it's always a fun holiday to the kids and I reckon they don't actually mind where we head to. I once read that instead of trying to visit as many different places in the world as possible, it's actually more recommended for young kids to have a recurring holiday spot year after year. It will be a place where they get accustomed and grow attached to in their growing up years, a place where they feel safe and familiar in, a place where they build the happiest of memories.

In today's post, I'll be sharing more about Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri, which was where we stayed in during our most recent trip to Johor. It is an affordable serviced apartment that is family-friendly, easy on the pocket and best of all, it is just a stone's throw from one of our favourite places on earth, LEGOLAND Malaysia. For those of you who are longing for a quick getaway with your family, I have a 2D1N package stay to give away too, so come join in!


INTRODUCTION

Somerset Medini Iskandar Puteri is easily accessibly by car and it is located right across the road from Medini Mall. Boasting 33 storeys and 310 units, the tall building looks striking, stylish and welcoming, and you can hardly miss it. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was an underground carpark right below the building and best of all, it merely cost us RM10 to park our car there for three days. Yes, three long days! Even if you do drive out during your stay, as long as you keep the receipt, the vigilant security guards will allow you to re-enter the carpark. This was a total relief to my hubby, who has a fear of open air carparks and would prefer this safer option.

The fact that the carpark is underground meant that it was convenient and easy for us to move our luggage to the lobby where we could take a lift to the reception. The labelling on the lift panel was concise and it helped us to find our directions around easily too.


Here is how the spacious and comfy lounge looks like at the reception, where you can read the day's papers, use the computers, watch the TV and just sit back and relax while the staff helps you to check in.



For those who are more observant, yes, you might have spotted it! Standing in the background is none other than LEGOLAND Malaysia. We were so thrilled to be able to see it from where we stood at the reception and the kids couldn't wait to start their holiday. See? I wasn't kidding when I told you the apartment is very near the theme park, right?


ROOMS

Now, we've stayed in LEGOLAND Hotel a handful of times already (you can read my reviews here and here) and while we do love it to bits, we are also all for the notion of staying in an apartment. Why? Firstly, there is much for space for the kids to run about. Secondly, you get more toilets and maybe even a tub. Thirdly and most importantly, we love having a kitchen so that we can whip up simple, healthier meals for the kids.

There are four apartment types in Somerset Medini, namely:

Studio Premier
- 43 - 47sqm, comes with a king-sized bed, fits up to three guests (3rd guest is chargeable with an extra bed)

1-Bedroom Premier
- 58sqm, comes with a king-size bed, fits up to three guests (3rd guest is chargeable with an extra bed)

2-Bedroom Premier
- 70 - 80 sqm, comes with a king-size bed and two single beds, fits up to five guests (5th guest is chargeable with an extra bed)

3-Bedroom Premier
- 110sqm, comes with a king-size, queen-size bed and two single beds, fits up to seven guests (7th guest is chargeable with an extra bed)

We stayed in the 2-Bedroom Premier, which was more than enough to suffice for our needs and I have to say we are very happy with our apartment. I will take you on a short tour so that you can take a look for yourself too! First, here is a look at the floor plan and you can see that the serviced apartment comes with a living room, a dining area, a kitchen, two toilets, two bedrooms and a balcony. It is even bigger than the 3-room HDB flat which I grew up in all my life as a child and teenager so yes, I definitely think it has more than ample space for our family of five.
Now, let's take a look all around. This is the living room which has a 4-seater dining table area, carpeted floor, coffee table, air conditioner and the curtains can open up to reveal a small, private balcony. I was very pleased by the amount of natural light that came in when we first entered the apartment, which made everything feel bright and airy. And guess what? The living room was where we spent much of our time in the house, just idling on the sofa and snacking away while enjoying a good movie on the TV. Yup, that's one of the things I love to do most on a holiday.



The master bedroom comes with a king-size bed, working desk, TV, a 4-door wardrobe and a toilet with a bathtub!! Hip hip hooray! It does state that you need to turn on the water heater 30 minutes before usage but I don't think that will be of much issue, right? My kids miss playing in the tub together so you can imagine how convenient it was for me to put them in the tub while the hubby and I worked in the kitchen or just enjoy some couple time of our own. Oh and before I forget, all guests can enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi too and yes, it works even in the toilets, yay!



As for the other bedroom, it was supposed to come with two single beds but we realised that ours had a queen-size bed instead. Well, this was all the better for us as the girls could sleep together. If you are like us and have this habit of squeezing into one room to sleep at night when on holiday, then the good news is that this room is right next to the master bedroom and yes, even a queen-size mattress can fit into it nicely so everyone can sleep together if desired.



Last but not least, we have the kitchen which is fully equipped with an electric stove, kettle, a front load washer, a 2-door refrigerator, microwave and all the utensils that you need. Yes, this means you get to do the laundry (if you want) and cook whenever you want to! I'll share more about where we bought our groceries later on but I really loved that we had a huge fridge and a stove so we could even have suppers or a quick meal whenever we wanted.





AMENITIES

There are some amenities in Somerset Medini for guests to make use of and I have to say that while I wasn't expecting a lot, they turn out to be better than what I had imagined.

-> Swimming Pool

Firstly, check out the swimming pool with the overlooking view of LEGOLAND and the greenery in the garden below. It was just so inviting that despite us being out most of the day, we had to by hook or by crook find a chance to go for a dip!




It so happened that we were there at sunset so the gorgeous scenery became even more breath-taking as the sun warmed up the waters and our hearts too. If this isn't an awesome family holiday, what else is?





-> Kids Club

We were thrilled to find that that was a Kids Club located on the same floor as the swimming pool and even though it wasn't huge, it was the perfect hideout when the rain started to pour and kept the kids happy and entertained for an hour or so.


Happiness is... feeling exhausted but happy

Posted by ~Summer~ on October 03, 2017
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I go to bed feeling tired every night. Yup, I really do because it's just no joke having to handle three kids day in day out, in addition to looking after our home.

Take yesterday for example, I had a bad episode with the first girl whom I thought was behaving much too stubbornly and me in being stubborn enough to want to get her out of her stubbornness (yup, talk about pot calling the kettle black), we ended up in tantrums, tempers and tears. Yup, I dread to say it but I cried when I finally scooped her into my arms and even though things seemed terrible at first, the good thing that usually comes out of such situations is that we had a heart to heart talk, just me and her, and I actually appreciated that a lot.

Being a mum is seriously not easy, right? To be honest, I don't think it's the physical fatigue that drains me most, but it's the mental and the emotional part that gets to me. Like I've said before, motherhood is a lifelong journey and I'm still learning so much about it every single day - not just in terms of handling my kids, keeping them safe and well and getting to know them inside out, but also learning to manage myself, my train of thoughts and my course of action, in the hope of becoming a better mum and a better person.

That said, you know what's the one thing that keeps me going through all the exhaustion day after day? It's that incredible sense of joy, achievement and gratitude. The joy of being with these three kiddos who drive me up the wall yet melt my heart like no one else can, the achievement of witnessing their milestones and seeing them grow up way too fast, the gratitude of knowing how blessed I am to be where I am and that there is no other place, no other time and no other role that I'll rather be.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about feeling exhausted yet happy when I go to bed at night. It's that happiness that helps me overcome all the fatigue and gives me the strength to face a brand new tomorrow, with lessons learnt from the past and hopes for the future. Here's a look at what kept us so busy in the fun-filled of September.




There was only a one-week school holiday in September yet it felt like we did so much throughout the whole month and every day seemed to be pack full of activities.

We were at Changi Airport for the Changi Loves Kids Carnival and though I initially wanted to spend just half a day here, it turned out that we spent the whole day here, had our lunch, played, went to supermarket, played, had dinner and then played somemore! Yup, the kids had a good time on the kiddy rides even though there were only three - a helicopter ride, a carousel and a train ride. It was the first time the girls brought the baby brother on so many rides and didn't need me to accompany them so I could focus on taking photographs and lament the fact that my kids are growing up too fast too furiously for my liking.

There were also a few game stalls where you can throw balls into a lion's mouth, toss rings and catch balls with a claw machine. We were told that these were pretty hard to win but lady luck must have been shining on us because we walked away with not one, but two prizes! Woohoo! I was so happy that we didn't have to pay for the rides and games, but instead redeemed for tokens using the receipts from our meals and from the supermarket. Kids were happy and so was I, win win!



It was a spontaneous trip to Sentosa, thanks to the spontaneous hubby, and it was purely a stroke of luck that we were there for the Sandsation 2017, Southeast Asia's largest sand festival, where we got to marvel at larger-than-life sand sculptures. The girls were awed by them and even asked us if they were built by real people, while the hubby and I were very much tickled by the sculptures depicting our local culture and colloquial slang, for instance gan cheong spider, chope, jialat and so on.



Going on the cable car never fails to thrill the kids and despite it going at a slow pace, they could still pretend that we were in a roller coaster ride or that we were going to fall into the sea (choi!). It just felt so nice to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Singapore while hearing their infectious laughter and enjoying the escape from the hustle and bustle for a while.


It's been a while since we made it to the movies but we did so this month and unexpectedly, we enjoyed watching The Nut Job 2 more than I thought we would! Credit must go to our favourite character Mr. Feng, who is a martial arts expert and super adorable looking mouse voiced by who else but our favourite Jackie Chan. Yup, he made a world of a difference to the show and we loved it every time he appeared.


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