I wanna try everything - Ariel is 4!

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 19, 2018
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I know I am very slow in keeping up with all these precious growing up videos of the kids, like how this one took me over a year and a half just to complete, but at least I'm still getting there, aren't I? Haha. Amazingly, I had little time when I had two kids and now with three, it seems like I almost find it hard to breathe on some days. Still, absolutely no regrets because I'm triply blessed and triply happy!

The girls have been patiently waiting for their videos to be done while in the meantime, they kept watching and re-watching the old ones, which is pretty sweet to see because they will go "Awwwww..., I was so cute!" It makes my heart feel warm yet makes me a little tearful when I see just how fast the years have flown us by. It's so true, the days are long but the years are short especially when you witness your child's growing up and it strikes you just how much bigger they seem to get in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, here's the compilation of our fondest moments from Ariel's 4th year of growing up. She was the first one I showed the video to and she was so delighted when she heard about it, never taking her eyes off the screen for the next 20 minutes while also excitedly telling me "Mummy, I remember this! I remember that too!" and never failing to laugh at herself at the funny parts. I love you so much, my baby girl, guess I can't call you that forever but let me do it a little longer, okay?

Dear Ariel,

Happy turning four! You know what, you've become a big sister and it's amazing to see the love that you have for your baby brother. I always thought that maybe you will find it hard to get accustomed to the change or feel sad that you are not the littlest in the family anymore, but you shocked me by being so mature as to be a doting sister to your brother, showing him love and care in a thousand ways and always helping me to keep him safe and happy.

You love lying down on the bed with didi and drinking from your milk bottles together, at the same time not forgetting to pat him or sayang him or just be lovey dovey with him. You will come at to me and say "Can you help me take a picture with didi, please?" and smile your best smile. You love to feed him and you try your best to be as gentle as you can, not forgetting to blow at the food so that it's not too hot for him. You like holding his tiny hand and you love to squeeze in the big pram with him so you can hug him (and also don't need to walk lar) and feel him at all times. Awww, he is so lucky to have you, isn't him?

That said, Mama wants to say sorry for scolding you badly when you accidentally took your eye off didi when I was cooking and he fell off the sofa and knocked his head as a result. I was mad, I was furious, I was worried that he would be injured, but I also forgot the fact that you were just a three-year-old who needed Mama as much as he did. You need a Mama who is patient, forgiving, loving and nurturing and I promise I will try to do that better with each passing day. You have to be patient with me too, okay?

My baby girl, please know your happiness matters a lot to me and I'm glad we did so many things this year. Let's see, you started school and you are in Nursery 2 this year and you made so many good friends! You know what amazed me? You didn't even cry or tear on your first day of school and was cool about it even if I stayed a distance away from you, because that's who you are - the brave, independent girl who is can eat on her own and doesn't need Mama to give her courage because she has plenty of her own. You settled down so well in school and the best thing is you love your lessons and would look forward to waking up in the mornings and going to school so you can play with your friends and learn new things too. I hope you will always have a thirst for knowledge and never stop learning even when you are older, okay?

Since Jiejie started Primary School this year, you have been following me to pick her up from school every day and we usually scoot there which means you are kind of an expert at it already! I love seeing how you would lift one leg into the air, how you move around the bends and how you enjoy feeling the breeze on your face too. We also started you on the balance bike and even though you started at a slow pace, you've been improving steadily and I think it means you can soon learn to ride a two-wheel bike so we can go cycling together next time.

You also started taking art classes at heART Studio and it's heartening to see that you enjoy learning to draw and paint too. Teacher Syafiq is one of the nicest teachers we know and I'm so happy that he's gonna be teaching you! I hope that you will find your passion as we slowly explore and that you will be able to hone your skills and stick to doing the things that you love to do. 

I love hearing you 'read', even though you can't really read yet. Haha. You love going to the library with us, you will pick out books that you like and you just start reading them by saying a string of gibberish! It's very cute, and you somehow always end it with the words "Yao, yao, yao!" which makes me laugh out loud every time.

It made me cry when you suffered a bad fall at the end of the year which caused you to have six stitches and a scar on your chin. I blame myself so much because I was right there with you and I let you fall. But you were a trooper all the way and the nurse said you didn't even fidget when they were stitching you up, one of the bravest kids they've ever seen. I guess we just have to learn from this ordeal and hopefully it makes us stronger, wiser and closer, okay? Scar or no scar, you are still the most amazing and beautiful girl I know (Jiejie too lar) and I just want you to be safe and healthy as you grow up.

You are the one with the most infectious laugh, you make the funniest monkey faces, you bring so much joy to me every day and I don't even know how to tell you how much I love you and how I'm thankful that you're mine. They always say that the middle child might grow up feeling less loved and I hope that never happens to you because I love all of you the same and I will never, ever love you any less than I do now, only more. 

Looking forward to more happy days with you, my dear Ariel.


Happiness is... letting go when it's time to

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 12, 2018

~Learn to Let Go. It's the Key to Happiness.~

It's hard to admit but I think I struggle with learning to let go. Letting go of past hurts, of painful memories, of heated arguments, of heartbreaks, of trying to control what I ultimately can't control, of my kids whom I feel that I can't let go because they need me.

Many a time, I realise I do it not because of others, even if I might say so, but I do it for myself. For wanting to feel loved, feel needed, feel important and not just someone that the world can do without any time.

The month of August, with all its ups and downs, was a good time for me to let bygones be bygones, to let myself be free, to not be bothered or dwell on the necessary and to better learn to let go. Yup, makes me want to sing "Let it go" at the top of my voice every time I say so but trust me, I jolly well know that singing those words is easy but doing it is tough. That doesn't mean we stop trying, right?

I made a resolution to spend one-on-one time with the kids this year because I think it's long overdue, especially for the elder two, and they each deserve to have all of me every once in a while. If you know me, then you know that this is tough for me because I never like to ask for help in babysitting my kids. Yup, the hubby says precisely because I like to take on everything myself when he's not around, it makes me more tired than I should be yet I remain headstrong about this matter.

So, it wasn't easy for me to learn to let go but I knew that if I wanted to carve out quality one-on-one time, then I needed to do so. The firstborn was the first one to get her time with me and since she had no school one weekday, we sent the sister to her preschool, asked the grandpa to help look after the toddler and hand in hand, we went out on our mother-and-daughter breakfast date.

It was just for a short couple of hours and everything was kept simple - we ate at Subway which she loves but hardly gets a chance to because the siblings don't love, we went to Times to read books and for the first time, I finished a whole Geronimo Stilton book so I could discuss the contents with her, we went to the outdoor playground and ate her favourite muah chee too. For the first time in a long while, my eyes were fixated on her only, my hands needed to hold her only (how many times did she have to let go because of the younger ones or because she had to help me with the stroller or grocery bags?) and my attention was on her only -  her likes, her dislikes, her school, her friends, her stories, her thoughts and everything about her.

I know that morning meant the world to her and she was reminded of just how much I love her. Yup, one-on-one dates work wonders for relationships so I now know I need to learn to let go so as to bond closer. The kids just gotta take turns to be with Mama and I'm hoping they will cherish our dates as much as I do too.

The last time I lost my phone was over a decade ago when I partied too hard and went home half drunk, even though I remembered I still took care of a friend who puked on the cab, took a plastic bag for her, and sent her home before I went home myself. Haha. Since then, I might have dropped and spoilt a few phones but I never did lose one. Till last month. Read my full story here.

Well, it was really unlucky that the phone ended up in the hands of a dishonest chap but I can only blame it on my oversight from being exhausted after a whole day of solo parenting where I took the kids for their first rock climbing and laser quest experience. I felt terrible that night and even though I didn't tear, I did feel the heartache, pain and guilt from it all and was unable to sleep, especially so since I had to go and lodge a police report in the middle of the night without the hubby, who was out of town. Heartache from losing a new, good phone, pain from losing the memories of the kids, and guilt from wasting the hubby's hard earned money.

Luckily, it didn't take me long to move on because I think I'm good with letting go of tangibles in that sense. Thankful for an old Oppo phone which came in handy and will tide me through the next year, kids who consoled me, a mum who worried about me, a father-in-law who accompanied me to the police station and a hubby who never blamed me in the slightest but told me to cheer up instead. Memories, I just have to create more of you, I guess.

You know what's an even harder thing for me to do, other than letting go of two kids so I can focus on one? It's letting go of all three kids.

Yup, I am so bad at getting me-time and even when I do, I never make it through without the guilt and I'm always worrying about something. Anyone of you feel the same? It's not that I don't enjoy it or I don't think I need it, it's just that I find it hard to let my hair down when my kids are still at this tender age and will wake up in the middle of the night looking for me.

That said, I did take a bold step last month and that was to go for JJ's concert! Woohoo! Thanks to a dear friend who got us Cat 1 tickets just two days before the concert and who was kind enough to think of me since she knew I was feeling down over the loss of the phone, not to mention that she knows I'm a huge fan of JJ since he first started out (I went to his first concert with the hubby and that was because I auctioned for the tickets on eBay!) and his ballads are what get me through the tough nights.

I screamed myself hoarse that night and enjoyed it so much, even tearing up at some moments because it all felt so surreal to me and his voice was just too dreamlike and the all too familiar songs tugged at my heartstrings. Was it worth letting go of the kids for a few hours and spending my precious savings for that one ticket? Oh yes, absolutely.

I've also learnt to let go of the fact that some nights are just too tough for trying to cook and do the chores and tend to the kids' needs at the same time. Yup, cooking has never been a passion or forte but I try to do it because of the desire of wanting to let my kids eat healthier food and because of wanting to help save some money. That said, I live with the fact that we will dine out every few days or order food delivery because there's just so much my pair of hands can accomplish.

Thankfully, the kids don't complain about it because going out usually means we get to go to the playground, visit the library or just scoot and cycle in our neighbourhood. That makes them happy which in turn makes me happy too!

I used to try to pack activities into our weekends or at least take the kids out to someplace new to explore or to one of our favourite hangouts to play. It's only this year that I've realised that it's okay to learn to relax and just enjoy being home, go for a swim or simply watch a movie on Netflix together. It's really not so much about where we are or what we do, it's more of who we are with.

Messes are part and parcel of any craft project and even after all these years of crafting with them, I am still learning to let go of the fact that we will have a huge mess to clean up, my floors might get dirtied with paint or that there will be paper and plastic scraps everywhere. It's the same with playing with Play-Doh or kinetic sand or sensory bins filled with beans, I tend to procrastinate on taking these out because I'm just lazy to clean up after that and no, the kids don't do a good job at cleaning up yet.

Nonetheless, I'm trying to work out more time for art and craft because I think we are all deprived of it recently and I need to find ways to unleash their creativity and imagination. Well, at least we spent many days working on their celery stamped flowers last month and that was quite a good experience for all of us.

The same can be said for letting the kids help out in the kitchen because they end up making a bigger mess than if I had worked alone. Not to mention doubling the time too. Nonetheless, I wish to give them more learning opportunities at mealtimes and have been roping them in to help me with vegetable peeling, pizza making, jelly making, cutting, slicing, frying and more. Let go of the mess, Mama, just let it go and don't derive the kids of the chance to learn.

We were out with friends one weekend at Cafe Melba and due to the rainy weather, there were no bouncy castles to jump in but plenty of puddles, balls and hula hoops to play with. The kids don't often get my permission to play in the rain but that day, we closed one eye and let them run around though it was drizzling and they were so happy to be able to take off their socks and shoes and splash around in the muddy puddles. A little rain doesn't hurt anyone, I guess? Haha. I hear you, wait till they come down with a flu and I will regret it. Oh well, I guess I chose to take that risk anyway and I think it was worth it.

August also marked a huge milestone for me because I went on my first vacation with only one kid - the toddler (because he is my superglue and he has no school)! Yup, it took a lot for me to make this trip happen and you can read all about the hooha I had to deal with when I first announced it to the girls, from the tears and bickers to the celebrity welcome at the airport and amazing gifts they made when I was gone for that 3D2N.

It meant a lot to me being able to catch up with my good old (not old as in old lar, you know) friends from secondary school and being able to chat, eat, talk, play tai tee and more under the same roof. It reminds me of the good old days and tells me that no matter how busy motherhood gets, I must never lose sight of myself, you know what I mean?

This was definitely the biggest learning-to-let-go lesson I had and even though I am still glad I did it and was able to spend quality one-on-one time with the boy in Phuket, I am just so relieved to be home too and to be back in the arms of all three of them.

Our second family run this year was Shape Run 2018 where we had to complete a 1.8km run together. What I love so much about it is that you get to enjoy picturesque views of the Singapore skyline as you take your strides along Gardens by the Bay and it even made us stop in our tracks just so we could admire the scenery too.

I am usually pretty firm with the kids during runs because I try to encourage them to keep running and not stop in their tracks. That is because I wish for them to be resilient and learn to persevere when the going gets tough, and never quit till you get to the finishing line.

This time round, things were different because of the toddler, who at times was happy to remain in his stroller but at times wanted to try running and would get down to chase after us - while getting easily distracted in the process. I saw how his sisters would turn around, slow down or even run back so that they could be with him and suddenly, it just dawned on me that it's okay so long as we finished the run together. I should applaud them for wanting to reach the finishing line together as a family rather than telling them to dash for it with all their might, right?

When we were at the media preview of Sentosa Sandsation, I remember the kids were asking me if they could go around barefoot and I said yes, thinking that we didn't need to walk much and would be on sand most of the time. Well, I was wrong. It was quite a long walk to get to the starting point and we had to walk on a slabbed path which could be burning hot at times - which totally made me regret taking off my slippers just so I could be like the kids. It didn't help that I was the only adult out of the dozens to do so and a friend came up to say "Wah, you don't even have shoes on!" or that the toddler demanded to be carried the whole time.

Let go, just let go and have fun, I told myself. Thankfully, we made it into the shade soon and even though the toddler never came down for a split second because he would bawl even before I tried, we still had fun posing with and taking pictures of the amazingly crafted MARVEL superheroes sand sculptures.

Which brings me to my last point. Whenever people comment on why I still carry the toddler when he is, I quote, "so old already", "so big boy liao", "so heavy still want Mama to carry meh" and give me all sorts of reasons on why I shouldn't be carrying him, I try to be good-natured and smile even though deep in my heart, I beg to differ.

Firstly, you are not me and you don't know how many times I've tried, how many times I've let him cried and how good of a superglue he can be. He is the most clingy of the trio and I'm even having trouble weaning him off, let alone telling him that Mama cannot carry him anymore. He comes to me for comfort, for assurance, for solace, for love - and who am I if I deny him of it all just by saying he shouldn't need me? In any case, no matter how I've tried, people might still deem it as not trying hard enough so I don't really bother about explaining my case.

Secondly, if being a toddler is so old already, what happens when he goes to primary school, become a teen or a father eventually? That will be the time when I will be unable to carry him even if I want to, you know that? Gosh, he might not even want to give me a hug, let me kiss him or even hold my hand by that time because our dynamics would have changed and that would be, to me, when he is all grown up and big boy liao. So for now, while he still asks for Mama and I still have the strength to carry him and he still fits snugly in my Tula toddler carrier, let me enjoy those moments with my lastborn, will you?

And when the day comes to let go of the kids because they don't need me anymore, I will. I might cry buckets of tears secretly at night, but I will nonetheless.

Our First Family Night at KidZania Singapore

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 11, 2018
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Whenever I tell the girls that we are going to KidZania to play, their eyes will light up and they can't help it but go "Hooray!" and jump for joy. I mean, with a 81,000 square feet kid-sized city and over 60 fun role-play activities to explore, most kids I know will be thrilled at the idea of visiting KidZania Singapore.

That said, while the girls get to celebrate, I know I will inevitably become the photographer who goes around to help them capture the moments as best as I can from the viewing window. The hubby resigns himself to the fate that he will likely be tasked to look after the 2-year-old in the toddler play zone since he will not be allowed to join in the activities until he reaches the age of four (read my review on KidZania Bangkok to see how they solve this by having a list of toddler-friendly establishments). 

Guess what? All that changed when we were invited to join in a night of fun at the Family Night at KidZania Singapore last weekend. For the first time ever, we, the parents, were able to join the kids for all the activities and let me just say that that was so awesome and fun! Here's sharing with you more about what we did.

The theme for the night was racing and not only were families asked to come in their best racing outfits, they could also get a chance to join in a racing contest and battle it out with other families! Check out more of the race on Life's Tiny Miracles and A Million Little Echoes' IG posts. That said, we were told that there were only going to be three races and a total of four families per race (one family can only send in one parent-child pair to participate), which to us meant that we would have to spend a long time in queuing up early to 'chope' seats and still, there's the big problem of which one of the three kids gets to drive the racing car and which two get to cry cheer from the sideline.

The hubby and I then decided that since it was our first family night, we just wanted to stick together as a family and not let the desire to complete more activities split us up. So, we chose to visit a few of our favourite establishments together and despite it being merely a 3.5-hour event, I think we did pretty well by conquering four stations with some of them being highly popular ones.

Our first station was one of the girls' favourites - Ice Cream Factory, where they get to understand more about the making of ice cream and get a stick of Paddle Pop each at the end (which is what excites them most).

For popular stations like this one, there is a limited numbers of slots per session (six, in this case) and if you are to factor in the fact that some of the parents are also joining in the activities, you can expect the waiting time to be long. We were lucky to be there at the right time, thanks to May of A Million Echoes for giving up her spot to one of the girls so they could be together along with Faye meimei whom they adore a lot.

One tip is to arrive on time and once the event begins, make your way to your kids' favourite activity so that at least they get to be one of the first ones to play and hopefully, the queue is not too long. Yet.

Since we haven't really had our dinner yet and the event was from 6-10pm, we were thankful to know that the fast food 'restaurants' were open! Yup, what better way than to make your own dinner as a family, earn KidZos in the process and then gobble everything up together after?

I asked the toddler if he would like to make pizza - it would be his first time - and his enthusiastic "Yes!" meant that we made our way straight to our second station, the Pizza Shop. Even though queue wasn't that long yet, we had to wait for over 30 minutes for our turn because it takes that long to complete one session - which takes in a maximum of 10 participants.

Nonetheless, the kids were very excited because this was the first time the three of them were able to do an activity together and to top it off, Papa and Mama were going to be with them too! See how happy they were to put on their hair nets, masks, aprons and chef hats? Yup, they couldn't wait to begin but were as patient as can be during the wait. Phew!

This has to be my favourite activity that night because it made me feel happy knowing that all five of us were in it together. The nice aroma of handmade pizzas baking in the oven only made everything even more appetising and enjoyable for all of us. Even though photo and video taking were not allowed once the activity began, I think it could be a good thing for me because it meant that for once, I was able to concentrate on just enjoying the moment with my kids rather than trying to capture everything with those lens.

See how my creative hubby tried to do something different? While everyone obediently did a circle shape with the dough, he wanted a Batman shaped one. Anyway, I wanted to applaud the staff not just for letting him do it the way he wanted, they even came up to ask him if he would like the pizza whole or for them to slice it up like they usually do for the rest. Very considerate of them!

Yummy! When we were all done, we took a short time of well, less than ten minutes, to gobble up as much as we could because we had to proceed for our next activity already!

The Aviation Academy has to be one of the most sought after activities at KidZania Singapore and kids love to try out being the pilot or cabin crew inside the full-wing fuselage of a Boeing 737. Our friends told us that we had to be swift in making our way to this station so that we could get a time card so this was the first place we dashed to once the event started.

Even so, we had to queue up for 15 minutes just to get the time cards and our allocated time was for 8:20pm so you can guess that not many people behind us managed to reserve slots for this highly coveted activity. For your next visit, if you are planning to join the Aviation Academy, do make sure to arrive as early as possible to get your time card or it will run out before you know it.

It was the first time that we, the parents, got to dress up as pilots and enter the cockpits with the kids! How cool, right? I was so happy that the toddler got to join in too because I knew he would love it to the max - even if he didn't understand anything about the gears or buttons and was too short to reach them without getting out his seat every time. Haha.

We had to enter the cockpit in pairs and the hubby gave feedback that the instructions given to them on how to 'fly' the plane were very vague, which I agree so it ended up that the kids kind of took it in their own hands and did what they deemed best in that situation. It was also a pity that a lot of time was spent by the staff in trying to photograph each of us when I think it would have been better spent on educating the little ones more about the functions of the plane or the job of a pilot.

Our last station for the night is always a hit with the kids because for some reason, they just love Window Washing! Armed with a bucket, water spray, cloth, sponge and squeegee, we made our way through the city to get to the convenience store. Contrary to the last station, the instructions given here were thorough and the kids totally knew what they needed to do, even though there were different steps to follow.

I was to pair up with my little man who was only too happy that he got to carry a bucket and he seemed to understand that he had an important job to do!

Let's just say that all the windows were very clean in the end because the kids were only too happy to wash them.... over and over again! Yup, once, twice, thrice and more, it was hard to get them to leave and the little one would even plead with me "One more time, can can?" Well, let's see if you are as enthusiastic about window cleaning when we get home!

Still, the best about it all was seeing their huge smiles and it made everything worthwhile for us to stay in Sentosa till so late despite that we had a sports event to attend at 8am the next day!

This time round, I can say that not only did the kids have a blast, but we enjoyed it too as Dad and Mum and it was one of the wonderful nights where many precious memories were created as a happy family and will last us for a long time. We definitely hope to visit again the next time there is a Family Night at KidZania Singapore and hope to see you there then!

Disclosure: We received a media invite to attend Family Night at KidZania Singapore. All opinions are our own.

Mummy, can you please don't go?

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 06, 2018
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So you probably know by now that I went for a getaway to Phuket with my friends and for the first time ever, I wasn't travelling with the kids. Well, not all the kids anyway, because I did have one of them with me - the toddler. Some of you were asking me how did it happen and how did I manage to do it, since I've never been separated from the girls before to go on a vacation and splitting the family up, even for a short stint, is something I've never done or like to do.

I thought perhaps I'll share my story here so that you will understand that it took a lot, really a lot, for me and my girls to make this all happen. Yup, unlike most of my friends who go on couple dates or couple getaways pretty often such that their kids are very accustomed to it and don't even bat an eyelid, it was the first time in my case and definitely caused a hoo-ha at home.

My first overseas getaway with only one kid! It's quite impossible to leave this toddler behind and ain't very fair for the hubby to look after all three just so I can play, right?

It all happened when I was telling the hubby that I was feeling a little 'friend-less' because on some days, I felt kind of lonely with no one to confide in. Being a SAHM might make you somewhat distant from your working friends because you just have less topics to talk about, you are always tied up at home and can't go for small drinks, and you find it so hard to leave your kids behind just so you can go out and enjoy yourself. It's made worse in my case because we don't have help, we don't get others to babysit our kids and since my hubby is rarely around on weekdays, weekends are usually meant for family time because that is just too precious. In other words, it also means me-time is pretty rare for me, as is one-on-one time with the kids.

At the start of the year, I decided to make one-on-one time happen slowly but surely because I feel that each of the kids deserves to have all of Mama to herself or himself every once in a while. It so happened that a good friend happened to tell me that she was planning a short trip with some of our best pals from secondary school and I don't think she thought that there was high hopes of me joining in since she's used to the fact that I seldom get away from the kids. However, when I knew that one of them was bringing a baby along, I thought that perhaps, just perhaps, I could get the hubby to take a day of leave and look after the girls so I could bring the toddler with me. Yup, it was just a 3D2N trip over the weekend so he only needed to survive the weekend, take Monday off, bring the girls to school, fetch them home and then come to the airport to pick me.

It all sounded quite easy peasy and when the hubby confirmed his leave, he told me to go ahead to book my air tickets. Perhaps it was a hunch or perhaps a mum's foresight, I jolly well knew that I had to first discuss the matter with my girls because if I don't, it just didn't seem responsible of me to make a hasty decision without their permission. Yup, I always teach them to be honest and open with the family so I wanted to get their green light first before I proceeded.

Alas, it went down badly once I broke the news to them. 

Guess who was the one who didn't want to let me go? She was insistent that a family shouldn't have to split up, that I was being selfish, that I didn't have to go overseas in order to enjoy some time off, that one weekend of not seeing Mama was going to be too much to bear. She got angry, then dismayed, then disappointed, and broke down a few times within a day. To sum it up, her reply was a a strict "No, you are not allowed to leave" and even said she would find a way to stop my from leaving, for instance locking the door, taking away my luggage and so on. Yup, my little drama queen.

I tried my best to be patient, explain my rationale, plead for my case and be gentle yet firm. When all failed, I got upset too and tears started to well up in my eyes. I raised my voice, I didn't take "No" for an answer, we got into a heated argument which saw both of us losing our cool and letting wrath get the better of us. I even said something along the lines of "Fine, Mummy will never get any time off and I will just stay home all day long, happy?" Yup, it was something I truly regretted and I knew I was probably feeling over stressed recently and in turn said things that would make me feel guilty for a long time.

It took us a whole day to calm down and I knew we would work things out somehow. We just needed time. This girl of mine, she's a highly sensitive and very emotional child, and I gotta understand that somehow and find a way to connect to her and let her know that I know how she feels deep down. Because I'm wired like that too, I think a lot and in many cases, I tend to overthink things a little. You know how your kids are a reflection of yourself and it can be terrifying at times to realise that? Yup, this one surprises me now and then by how she reminds me of myself, flaws and all.

Anyway, what happened next brought tears to my eyes once more.

While she was unable to speak directly to me and let me know her verdict after a day's consideration, she did what she does best - write. Yup, she penned this letter, which is the longest she has ever written to me, and secretly left it on my computer table, asking me to go read it when I had a chance to.

I tried not to make a fuss out of it and pretended to be cool, but when I had the chance, I sneaked into my room to look at it and what she said, every word of it, just melted my heart and made me relieved, sad, emotional, tearful, happy, guilty all at once.

The longest letter I've ever received from the firstborn, which amazed me because it showed how mature she is and how much she has grown
I wonder if I could have written this at 8 years old and I'm pretty sure I couldn't. This girl might be a lot of things and she can be crazy, uncontrollable and quite rebellious at times, but she is also the sweetest child who can be thoughtful and way too mature for her age. I guess that all comes with being the eldest, right?

Dear Angel,

I just want you to know that I'm very thankful for what you wrote and I promise to keep this letter forever. There will come a day when you will be asking me for permission to go on trips with your friends and you know what, that will be the day when I will take this letter out to read again and cry my heart out because I will realise just how much you've grown.

Rest assured that family is still the most important thing to me and I love all of you to the moon and back, but sometimes, we all need to reconnect with our friends too because they help to keep us grounded and being with friends is something that can also bring us joy, help us relieve stress and let us create memories for life.

You are such a big girl now and what amazed me was that you got angry with me not because I was bringing didi only and not the two of you, you got upset because I was splitting the family up. Yup, you weren't jealous or envious, you were plain sad that I would suggest to go away because to you, a family always stays together. We will always stay together for as long as can be, till the day you are all grown up and wish to have a family of your own, okay? I promise that. Thank you for giving me 3D2N off to go on a vacation and I know it might be short to me but it seemed like years to you, so thank you for saying "Yes" and for being so sweet to let me go.

You promised not to cry at the airport and insisted on waking up before the sunrise so that you could send us off. You did what you promised and gave me a tight, big hug before I left. For the next couple of days, you worked so hard in creating my welcome gift and I'm not sure how you came up with so many ideas for your sister and Papa to help you execute, but I know you were the mastermind behind it all and your only intention was for me to feel happy when I came home.

I know your first thought about holding up a sign at the airport to welcome me was "That is so embarrassing!" but you did it all the same. See? Yup, that's you, my lovely firstborn who makes me so happy to be home and so thankful that you're mine. I love your sister just as much too, of course, but she was the one who was cool and calm about the idea of me leaving and was happy to hear that I would get a present for her when I came back. You were the one who I was most reluctant to leave because I saw how much it impacted you and I'm still not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

All set to go to the airport, with our handmade welcome home signs filled with heartfelt letters, drawings and lots of love for Mama!
See how you two decorated the whole room to become a mini carnival? It was complete with welcome balloons and posters, a ball game where I had to hit all the Yakult bottles and can choose a stuffed animal as my prize based on the number of points I scored, and a hook-a-fish game where I had to hook packets of stuff from a box. How cute and creative of the two of you! And it seems like I was gone for ages but it was only for two nights! Haha.

The girls' bedroom became a carnival and it was their BIG secret which they tried to keep it from me because they started working on it even before I left. Such effort and creativity from them that honestly amazed me!
Inside the packets contained lovely personalised bracelets you made for me and didi, seashells you all picked, cute figurines and also lots and lots of origami that Papa said he spent hours making because you insisted that you wanted to do yet the instructions were too hard to follow. Haha, thanks for making him put in so much effort too, these are so cute and it's the first time I see an origami panda, elephant, grasshopper, horse, bat, fox, butterfly, penguin and even a cicada! Boy, I got more presents than I did for my birthday and 10th wedding anniversary just because I went away. It's so funny yet sweet and heartwarming at the same time, thanks to all of you, my dears.

Now, I just gotta think of where to store all these because they were gifts from the heart and they mean a lot to me. Reminds me just how loved, how blessed and how lucky I am to be their mum and his wife.
I'm not sure if I will ever do it again in the near future but I can be honest in saying that I do look forward to going on couple trips with Daddy next time. But, that will wait till you three are much older and better able to look after yourselves. I think by that time, you won't miss me so much as to say "No" when we ask for your permission, right? Well, you might surprise me but I'll take it as a sign that our mother-and-daughter bond is strong, unique and irreplaceable. In the meantime, I look forward to spending this September school holidays with you kiddos and like what we always say, a family that plays together stays together. We will always be family and please know that I will never stop loving you with every breath that I take and every beat of my heart.

P.S. Thank you for reminding me that family is everything and I know I need to always count my blessings and learn to cherish all of you more. You are one of my greatest treasures in life and I'm truly, deeply thankful to have you, my darling girl.


Creativity 521 #118 - Celery stamped flowers {Happy Teacher's Day 2018}

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 30, 2018
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It's been a long time since I did a Creativity 521 post, I know. Yes, it gets increasingly hard trying to find time to craft with the kids as they get older but I hope I can still make it happen every once in a while. That said, there is one occasion every year that makes me feel that we HAVE to sit down to do something handmade - and that is Teacher's Day.

After all these years, I still feel that handmade gifts are better than store bought ones. They can be very simple and might not cost much, but because they speak volumes of sincerity and are handcrafted by the kids themselves, that makes these gifts truly unique and priceless.

Here's sharing what we did this year - Celery stamped flowers - and though they might look really simple to do, it took us a few weeks for all of the three kids to complete everything together and I'm so glad we made it in time!

Materials used:

- Celery
- Acrylic paint
- A4 sized drawing paper
- Pipe cleaners
- Colour markers
- Scissors
- Glue
- Stickers for decoration

We started off with the stamping as this was presumably the most fun part for the kids. Yup, and the messiest part for me. But hey, what's a few minutes of cleaning up compared to hours of fun and possibly memories to last for a lifetime?

The kids chose their desired acrylic paint colours and to make the colours more vivid and to have some shades of white too, we added some white paint and deliberately didn't mix it too thoroughly.

Using the bottoms of the celery, start stamping away! When cutting the bottom part of the celery, leave enough of it to make sure that the stalks part can be clearly seen. Also, cut as straight and as flat as you can so that the stamp can be seen clearly later on.

Stamp three flowers close to each other as shown on a piece of drawing paper. Make sure that the stamps stay within the paper as the bottom are huge and it can be quite hard for the kids to gauge on their own. Let them decide if they want to have three flowers of the same colour or vary them.

The easiest way to get paint onto the celery stalk is to dip it into the paint on a plate as shown below. I find that even though some parts of the paint might be thicker than the rest or even form some small clumps, it gives the flowers more depth and a 3-dimensional feel too, so we just let them be.

Keep on stamping and mixing the paint and stamping again till you have done enough cards! We did over 30 (*gasp* quite a lot, I know!) because we wanted to present the cards to all the teachers in their schools, art class and Heguru too.

Allow the paint to dry up and once done, the next part is to add in the stalks!

We used pipe cleaners for this and if you have a strong glue that can stick them onto paper and hold well, please do. If not, I find that double sized tape works well for us too. What I did was to cut the tape into thin strips and then let the kids paste and peel them off themselves.

They also chose the colours of and picked out the pipe cleaners themselves, followed by pasting them accordingly to form the stalks.

Now, what's a card without a personalised message, right?

I wanted the girls to design and write their own "Happy Teacher's Day" and sign off with their names. However, in considering that this might take ages if we were to write it over 30 times, I did a shortcut method whereby I let them design one message on a A5 paper, then proceed to scan it, shrink it to fit and then print it out in colour. Haha, smart or not? Well, at least every card is still 'written' by them, right?

Next comes the tedious but necessary part of cutting and pasting the messages onto the cards. While the 5yo took charge of the cutting, the 2yo helped in applying the glue and sticking the messages too.

To personalise every card and make it truly one of a kind, the kids wrote the names of every teacher. I love how they tried to come up with unique designs and played around with the fonts and letter shapes too.

Lastly, the kids suggested to add in some stickers as decorations and I let them have freedom to do what they wanted. We managed to get some stickers from Daiso that came with hearts, flowers and even the wordings "Thank you" - perfect for us to show our gratitude on Teacher's Day!

Ta-dah! And we are all done! I love how colourful and vibrant the cards look and hopefully these will bring a smile onto the teachers' faces on this special occasion. I have to give the kids a pat on the backs too for doing most of the work themselves and I hope they had fun in the process and are proud of what they achieved too.

Here's wishing all teachers a very happy Teacher's Day 2018! It takes a BIG heart to shape LITTLE minds and you are the reason why ordinary kids dare to dream extraordinary things.

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