Happiness is... finding the road to recovery

Posted by ~Summer~ on October 05, 2021
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人生就像一杯茶,不会苦一辈子,但总会苦一阵子。

I came across this quote recently and found it to be very true. It means that life is like a cup of tea, it won't be bitter forever but it will be bitter for a period of time. It might sound negative at first glance, I know. But on deeper thought, it helps me think positively because it is a reminder of the fact that life can be tough at times but once we overcome the hardship, we can taste the sweetness that comes after.

On a societal level, it's like how we are trying to turn the pandemic into endemic instead. We need to come to terms with the hard truth that since we can't eradicate the virus, we just gotta learn to live with it. Things are going to be tough, uncertain, fluctuating and even scary. But if we are strong enough to persevere and brave enough to keep fighting, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

On a personal level, I am slowly but surely accepting the grief in my heart. Time heals all wounds, they say. While I don't think most wounds heal perfectly, I do believe they get better and less painful over time. At least, time made my miscarriage hurt less even though that scar is always there. It still hurts and breaks my heart when I think of my beloved Popo, and I can't even count how many tearful late nights I've spent on my own in the past month after putting the kids to bed. There will always be a part of me that is sad but I am trying let the happy memories take over and remind myself that she would want me to be strong, cheerful and live my life in the best way I possibly can.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about being on the road to recovery and in order to do that, we must first find this elusive path that somehow has a magical power to lessen grief and create joy.

The start of August was a heavy and depressing one for me. It was my grandma's wake and cremation. For every of the four-day funeral, I brought the kids there and even let them skip school to be at the cremation with us. Why? Because I wanted them to know that family is more important than school work and even though exams were coming, this still took priority. We don't shun from morbid topics or avoid talking about death now that the kids are getting bigger. Instead, we talk it out, we go through it hand in hand, we cuddle and we hug, and we process our grief together.

The wake was their last few days to spend with Tai Po, to look at her fondly and to bid farewell to her. As for the cremation, I did think of letting the girls skip it since they had school but they were the ones who voiced out "I wanna go and send Tai Po, Mama." In my heart, I fully believe that if they skipped this, there is a good chance that we will all end up with regrets in the future. So, I wrote letters to explain to their teachers who were all very understanding and we made our way to Mandai together with the rest of my family.

I was a wreck the entire week but especially on that day, and I guess having the kids there gave me strength to go on. I remember how I clutched on to the casket at the final moments and wept my heart out, saying "婆婆,下辈子我还是要当你的孙女!" 

You see, just writing that down makes me cry at this very moment. I am a very emotional person, I know, and when someone so precious to me gets taken away, it really shatters a huge part of me. But yes, I am trying hard to mend the broken pieces and tell myself to let go of all the regrets I have and move on. I have to and I will, it's just that recovery takes time and in my case, it might take a while longer even if I put on a strong and happy front every day. I still have yet to finish up my video collage of Popo because my eyes get misty each time I try to do it. But I will get there, somehow, some day.

Popo's demise reminded me to cherish my parents more while they are still healthy. Honestly, the pandemic does the same. It makes me worry for them yet reminds me that nothing good stays forever so I'd better do my part to treasure my blessings before they are gone.

Even though both of them and my in-laws are fully vaccinated, we still remind them to be careful when they are out, to stay home when they can and to eat healthily and boost their immune systems. 家有一老,如有一宝. Never take anything, especially life, for granted, yeah? 珍惜眼前人.

You know what is one thing that always makes me happy? Well, weekends! That is because we always spend time together as a family and we take the kids out for some fun and relaxation. For the past few months, we have been staying away from crowds but we still love to visit the parks and nature reserves now and then.

August marked our first visit to Bukit Timah and I still think it was incredible that we conquered that steep, steep slope and made it to the summit with all the kids, including the baby. It was definitely the most challenging walk we've done so far but I'm glad we persevered till the end.



In fact, we even made it to a second park in the same afternoon and that was Hindhede Nature Reserve, which offers a picturesque and breathtaking view of the quarry. The kids also had fun playing at the playground and Ansel even went on the swing for the first time.

Such simple joys fuel me, top up my love tank and make me feel more motivated to face whatever tomorrow may bring. Yup, ironically, hiking trips exhaust me yet recharge and rejuvenate my soul. It's one of the ways that help me to heal. What's your way?

Talking about the baby, he is the one who keeps me busy 24/7 and now that he has started eating semi-solids, my life is even more occupied now with the need to cook his meals separately from ours thrice a day and the extra washing up to do after each meal. Still, I wouldn't change this for anything and I am glad that he has become my focus and distracts me from doing anything else. In fact, I'm usually so tired nowadays after putting the kids to bed that I seldom find time to blog, write or make videos. Seeing him growing up happily makes everything worthwhile. Everything.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I can neglect the other kids and I am still learning to juggle the needs of four kids in four different phases of growing up. Other than the clingy baby, there is also my firstborn facing PSLE, my secondborn becoming a tween and my thirdborn who is graduating from kindergarten. Right, those who have followed me long enough will remember how Asher was born and how he grew up over the years. Just look at this boy now!

He might still a baby to me in some ways but seeing him all dressed up in the convocation gown, it's a reminder of how fast time flies when you are a mum. This little prince will be heading to Primary 1 next year and that is a huge milestone for him. I hope he knows how much I love and care for him even though my time with him has been greatly reduced since the baby came. He is truly an awesome Korkor who has never shown signs of jealousy, who loves his Didi to the max and who writes sweet notes to tell me how much he loves me. Awww, love you, dear Asher boy.


One Sunday, we decided to have a workout by cycling, scooting and running in our estate. Wait, how did I do that? Well, I buckled the baby in the pram and pushed it along as I ran! It took us half an hour to get to a kopitiam where we had our dinner in pairs, then we made our way to the neighbourhood playgrounds one by one for the kids to have some relaxation and fun. It was already nightfall when we got home and everyone was exhausted but that will be another precious memory tucked away in our hearts, right?


We love to go outdoor as a family. Yup, I'm the type of mum who doesn't like to be cooped all day long. I have always found that going out makes it easier for me to care for the kids without flaring up rather than having them test my patience limit at home all day long. Alas, lifestyles have to adapt accordingly due to the pandemic and I don't think we should complain as long as we are still coping well as a nation.

Still, this makes grocery runs very precious because it is the time of the day that we get to breathe in some fresh air and take a short walk. Yes, I keep these outings very brief just to be safe and I usually do it after sending the boy to school since the supermarket is just nearby. On the days that the girls have HBL, they are always very happy to head out with me, push the baby in the stroller and pick the brother from school. And for me, I am always glad for the extra pairs of hands from my girls who are my best helpers!

They are the ones who help me so I can go to the loo in peace, have my hands free to cook or even be able to take a quick nap at times. It's so important for my sanity at times, you know what I mean? 

Oh, by the way, the baby can now face out in his Tula carrier and he was pretty excited about it. In fact, he knows that the carrier means gai gai these days and starts jumping up and down when he knows that we are bringing him out. I am so happy to see that you are happy to see the world, my dear. There is so much more that I wanna show you, let's just enjoy each day and look forward to a better future, yeah?

Keeping myself busy and leading a fulfilling life is one way I deal with grief too. Besides being a busy stay-at-home mum, it also makes me feel more accomplished whenever I get to do any 'jobs' that I like. By that, I mean media reviews and giveaways that you see on my social media. I've been cutting down on the number of projects I commit to so those that you see are truly things that I think will benefit my kids and my readers.

It's tiring doing these photoshoots because I still have a baby who usually isn't cooperative for the camera and wants me to carry him, yet I find joy in the exhaustion and I enjoy the process of editing the pictures and writing the reviews. So, I guess I am lucky to be able to do something which I enjoy in life. Have you found yours too?



I looked through all the photos we took in August and realised that there didn't seem to be as many as what I usually have. I guess on most days, I was still trying to find the road to recovery and tell myself to move on. Nonetheless, photos are precious to me so you bet I will be taking more very soon. Meanwhile, here are some updated shots of the baby who is growing up just too fast!

Some passers-by call him Meimei, you know, he really looks like a girl mah? It must be the long hair, right? But guess what, I've already cut it three times in six months! Yup, add hairdresser to my occupation list, please. Haha. Happy to see you getting so strong, chubby and talkative too, my baby. Your smile makes my worries go away and you are my best medicine too.




Oh, I also brought him for his 6-month vaccination and despite taking one jab on each thigh, this boy took it in his stride and cried for merely a couple of seconds before he flashed his toothless smile at me once more. 



If anything, he reminded me that when life gets you down, you gotta be strong enough to get back up. When the bitterness comes, just hang in there for a while and it will be over soon.

One thing that helps is knowing that you are not alone. And yes, we are never, ever alone because we have our loved ones, both around us and inside our hearts. 


A letter to my Primary 6 child

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 27, 2021
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Dear Angel,

In three days' time, you will be sitting for your PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations) papers. It's the culmination of years of hard work and the final obstacle to cross before you officially become a teenager and step into another whole new exciting journey.
 
While the exams are important as a major milestone, please remember that whatever grades you receive, they do not define your life, your character or you as a person in the slightest. You are worth so much more than the piece of certificate you are going to take home and I hope you know that. Values such as honesty, kindness, independence, creativity, reliability and perseverance are the things that I see in you but will not be written on the paper, which is why I need to tell you so that you will know how amazing you are. You are an incredible gift that we treasure so deeply and you've lit up our world since you came into it.

This year has been tough, I know, not just for you but likely everyone in the world too. Living in such precarious times amidst a global epidemic that shows no sign of faltering, it's normal to feel disheartened, stressed, exhausted and even scared at times. It's okay to feel scared of what will happen tomorrow, scared that one of our family members will test positive for the virus, scared that play time, birthday celebrations and gatherings with our friends can never resume, scared of having to be quarantined, scared that we might lose someone we love deeply some day. I feel the same too, yeah? And it's perfectly okay to admit that we have our fears.
 
You sometimes say that life isn't fair. I totally agree with that statement, that life has never been and will never be fair. You didn't get to go on your overseas exchange trip because the pandemic hit right after you were elected and we signed the consent form. Your first and only SYF competition in your entire primary school journey was cancelled despite you having gone through months of practice prior to that. You love dancing during your CCA sessions but even those were taken away from you for nearly two years already.
 
You are the first batch of students to do away with the T-score and use a new Aggregate Level system, you struggled with disruptions during your Primary 5 year when you were supposed to have learned most of the syllabus, and this year, you had to handle all the curve balls thrown to you like having Home Based Learning intermittently, having Zoom class after Zoom class, sharing a laptop with your other siblings who are also doing online learning, doing ART tests, adhering to safe management measures in school and so on.
 
Despite being the Vice Head Captain, you said you didn't even get to say your commands on stage because there hasn't been an assembly in the hall since all students are to report to their classrooms instead. You also went through rushed recesses due to the staggered timings and even though it is the only time you can have your mask off, you don't get to talk much, play or run around anymore. It's depressing, I know, because I have been through primary school life where recesses were filled with fun at the playground or playing zero point and it's sad that we need to live in isolation these days. No one wants to, and all of us hope that life can resume one day soon where we get to head out without masks on, join in gatherings, give each other hugs and be able to see each other's smile.

Your exams take place right in the midst of a turbulent period where cases hit a record high of over a thousand, even nearing two thousand, every day. You see, we are trying our best to turn this pandemic into an endemic instead. Since we can't eradicate or eliminate the virus, we just have to live with it. It's unfortunate that this trying period clashes with your national exams and I know how each day is filled with so many uncertainties, which trigger our stress and anxiety. You are a trooper to brave through this battle and you will emerge as a triumphant warrior at the end. We all will, we just gotta have faith.

While we might not be able to change the circumstances in our lives, we have the power to decide on our attitude and outlook. You can see this challenge as a way to pull you down into the quicksand or you can view it as a challenge for you to rise up and soar high. You can grumble about the things we can't change or you can make the most of what you are able to do. The way I see it, this tough and unprecedented PSLE year might be a way for you to build your resilience and grit, for you to learn that you are tougher than you think, for you to look back one day and say proudly "Hey, I did it and I never gave up." You have always inspired me with your strong will and your determination, so keep striving, my dear, and don't stop till you get to the finishing line. For you can and you will.

We presented you with a PSLE care pack over the weekend, It contained some stationery items like a box of pens, a transparent case and some of your favourite Sumikko Gurashi items like a file, memo pads, a pencil and a small plushie. It was a surprise for you and you were over the moon when you opened it, along with the handmade cards that each of us wrote for you. Yup, your siblings woke up early one morning to do the cards when you were sleeping and they even built a fort with pillows when they were wrapping the present so that you wouldn't see. It's so sweet and loving of them, I know, which also goes to show how awesome you are as a big sister whom they adore and look up to as a role model. 
 
Being the easily contented girl that you are, you jumped in joy after seeing the present and exclaimed "Best Day Ever!" I hope you will always remember this feeling of being loved. You said something to me which made me laugh - "Mama, I always thought care packs include assessment books." To which I replied "Care packs are to remind you that we care for you and love you very much, and that you are not alone in this fight." And I mean every word of it. Remember that all of us are cheering and rooting for you, okay?
 
I don't want you to do last minute work or feel stressed cramming or mugging. Instead, I hope you can unwind, relax yourself and be in good spirits as we sprint towards the last lap. So long as you give it your best shot, like I've said so many times in my good luck notes to you, your best is more than enough for me. We've survived so far without tuition and no matter the results, please know that I am extremely proud of you for even making it up to this point.

Yesterday, we learnt about the tardigrade which is the world's toughest animal that would likely survive an apocalypse. It can withstand exposure to radiation, boiling liquids up to six times the pressure of the deepest part of the ocean, and even go up to 30 years without food or water. It's amazing how it can adapt to its environment, repair its own DNA and even stop metabolism to become 'immortal'. You know what? You remind me of the tardigrade and you're so much stronger, tougher and better than you think you are, my dear.
 
Let's remind ourselves that being able to even go for the exams is a privilege because there are some kids who have fallen ill and can't do so. Well, in fact, various schools around the world have been closed or suspended and many kids can't get to study even if they truly want to. We are lucky to be in this tiny red dot during the hard times. To be able to have food to eat, a house to live in, Papa has a job and you all have schools to go to, I think we are doing well. None of this should be taken for granted, just like all the good things in life, and we ought to be thankful and make the most of what we've been given.

So go in, do your best, hold your head high and come home each day with a smile, yeah? You know we will be proud of you no matter what happens. I can't wait to celebrate Children's Day and Halloween with you soon. Yes, they will all be intimate celebrations held in our cosy home with you and your siblings but I already know we are going to have a blast. If anything, this pandemic has given us so much more family bonding time and reminded us of the important things in life. As long as we have each other, that is all that matters, right?
 
You've got this, dear Angel. 加油,恩恩,你能你行你可以!
 
Love,
Mama


A safe haven for my baby {Review of Bugaboo Stardust}

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 08, 2021
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Now that the baby is six months old, has outgrown his bouncer, is an expert at flipping over, and is getting more active and adventurous, it has become a challenge for me to lay him down while ensuring his safety. Yet, as a stay-at-home mum who has three other kids to care for and endless chores to complete each day, it is just not feasible for me to be carrying him all day long.

Therefore, I was excited to review the Bugaboo Stardust, which is a multi-purpose portacot and play yard that comes in handy for my needs. With an understanding of how sleep and play are crucial to a child’s development, Bugaboo designed a portable cot to make naptime and playtime easier for both parents and baby. It can be a lifesaver for busy mums who are at home or on the go. Read on to find out more about how it has made my life easier in the past weeks and how baby Ansel has taken to it.



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SIX things we love about Bugaboo Stardust 

1) All-in-one design
 
Bugaboo Stardust’s unique design means it stays in one piece. It requires no assembly, no special techniques - it simply pops up and is ready to go in 1 second. The mattress is built-in, so it folds back together in one simple movement in just 3 seconds, with no need to remove the mattress. Perfect for busy parents like me!
 


2) Instant unfold
 
Would you believe it if I told you this cot only takes 1 second to unfold and 3 seconds to fold? Yes, I found that truly amazing too. Inspired by satellite solar panels, the cot’s folding mechanism is designed with patented aerospace technology to fold and unfold nearly instantly. This design not only saves time, but also makes it quick and easy to use. All I have to do is to unfasten the press stud straps and pop the cot open. I tested it and it holds true - the cot opens in a second and takes just a couple more to fold back! What is better still is that I can even open it with one hand when I am carrying the baby (watch my video below), woohoo!
 


3) Portable
 
Since it has a built-in mattress, there is no need to remove or insert it every time you use the cot. Weighing at 6.9kg, which is lighter than my baby, the Bugaboo Stardust is portable and convenient to carry around. It comes with a premium Velcro closing bag with a handle at the side, making it swift and easy to pack up and move. This means that the cot can follow my baby wherever he goes.
 

4) Adjustable
 
This is something I am thankful for because it means less bending over! With two heights to choose from, the cot is baby-friendly and fits children up to three years of age. It comes with a zip-in baby bassinet which holds up to 9kg while the cot/play yard holds up to 15kg. To use the bassinet, unfasten the buttons for the base layer, take it up together with the mattress, zip up the bassinet and then place the mattress on top. The fact the bassinet has a considerable depth of up to 89cm is a huge relief because it means the baby will not easily flip and fall over.
 


5) Comfortable
 
I was pleasantly surprised to see Ansel's smile when I first laid him down in the cot, too cute! Since the cot is made of durable, chemical-free and high-quality fabrics, it ensures maximum comfort for my baby. The breathable mesh also helps to ventilate and increase airflow while enabling me to keep an eye on him from a distance. In terms of the mattress, my preference would be for it to be thicker for even more added comfort.

6) Multi-purpose
 
While my baby still co-sleeps with me on my bed, having this portacot can be handy in many ways. Although I do not advise for babies to sleep in this cot overnight, it is great for a quick nap and play time. These are some examples of the scenarios when I feel thankful to have our Bugaboo Stardust: 
 
1) When I am busy with chores
 
Trust me when I say it is really tiring to do the chores with a baby in hand. Take laundry for instance, I've done it a few times because he just wants to carried yet the work has to be done one way or another. Having the portacot set up beside me allows me to have my hands free to hang our clothes while keeping him in sight at all times. Actually, it's more of letting me in his sight too so that he feels more assured.
 
2) When we go for a swim
 
Previously, I used to hesitate about bringing the elder ones for a swim because the baby doesn't like to be in the water for too long and that means I will have to carry him once he is out. Thanks to the portacot, I can now bring it along if needed so that he has a station to rest and relax while the others continue with their swim.
 

3) When I wish to spend time with the siblings 

Having a new baby means I have less time for the other kids but it also means I need to try harder to make it happen. When it comes to bedtime reading with the 5-year-old, I like the idea of placing the baby in the cot for a little while so that I can have some one-on-one time with his elder brother. It helps to put some toys and teethers in the cot so that he is kept busy and happy.


4) When we go outdoor
 
Since the cot is easy to unfold, pack and bring out, this makes it convenient for us to put it in the car when we go out. It helps to have a cot and play yard when we visit our parents, are out on a picnic or when we go for a staycation.


5) When we are home
 
We try our best to stay home recently due to the pandemic but even so, the cot still comes in useful for us since I can easily move it around the house. For instance, I place it near my kitchen when I cook, move it to the living room when we are watching the news or to our bedroom when it is night time.
 
In conclusion, I think that the Bugaboo Stardust is a great addition to our home and keeps both baby and I happy. In fact, I think the more time he gets to spend and play in it, the most accustomed he becomes and this can help to free up my hands when I need them. Our experience with it has been a positive one so far and I would recommend it to parents who are looking for a trustworthy brand and a useful portacot for their little ones.



*****

Watch the video below to find out more about how the cot works, whether the one-second theory holds true and how Ansel has been enjoying his time with it.

The Bugaboo Stardust is now available at SGD419 in two colourways - the classic Black and Grey Mélange. It is available for purchase at First Few Years, Mothercare and Motherswork as well as online at the Bugaboo Official Store on Lazada, and Bugaboo Official Flagship Store on Shopee

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between Bugaboo and A Happy Mum. All photographs and opinions are my own.


Happiness is... knowing that it's okay to be sad

Posted by ~Summer~ on August 30, 2021
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Grief.

It's something no one wishes to experience. Yet, it happens to everyone at one point or another in our lives. Actually, it doesn't happen just once. The older we get, grief will come knocking on our doors every once in a while because that is just how life works .While I've always tried to look on the bright side of life, July was truly a turbulent and depressing month for me.

You see, while still dealing with the shocking local news regarding mental health issues and trying my best to have an open discussion with the kids as we head into the exam period, my own world fell apart when I was informed that my beloved grandma was hospitalised and in a coma.

For the next two weeks, it was terribly dreadful that we couldn't visit her due to the pandemic restrictions. We had video calls with her almost every day to tell her we love her and gently urge her to wake up but I wanted to be by her side so, so badly. My spirits were lifted when my Mum told me she opened her eyes and we even heard her saying "Bye bye". Surely that is a good sign and she is getting better, right?

Alas, things deteriorated swiftly and by the end of that fortnight, she decided to leave this world. I can't go into details now without being a wreck because I just miss her so much and have so many regrets. For now, I am working on gathering her photos and making a video so that my kids will always remember her. I guess when I am ready, I will dedicate a post to her and pour my feelings out. But for now, I'm just not brave enough to do it yet. In this post of "Happiness is...", I've realised it's okay to sometimes be a little lost and a little sad.

******
 
The kids lost both their great-grandmothers in the span of two and a half years. It's not easy to explain the concept of life and death or to help them process their grief when I myself am such a noob at it. I am truly blessed to have my Popo for 38 years of my life and she is the only grandparent I ever had since I was born - which makes saying goodbye so hard because I really sayang and love her deeply. 

I haven't cried so much and so badly in such a long time and I don't know how to deal with it except to let time make the wound hurt less. I try not to cry in front of the kids but it's so, so hard and they see me tearing every time I look at a picture or a memory flashes in my mind. 

Yet I know my grandma is in a better place now where it doesn't hurt her anymore and she would want me to continue to be strong and be the best mum I can ever be for my kids. So yes, I'll pick myself up bit by bit, no matter how badly it hurts. Please know that I love you so much, Popo, and that I am so, so sorry for not spending more time with you in the last few years. Thank you for everything you've done for me and I can only hope to repay you in my next life.
 

Many of you have asked me how I cook our meals with an infant in the house and how I always have so much energy to bring them out and about. What you don't see are the times that I feel utterly exhausted and want to do nothing except laze on the sofa, the times when I feel exasperated and unappreciated as a mum, the times when I wonder what I am doing with my life and the times that I tear secretly into the pillow thinking that I have failed as a mum. I'm as ordinary and as normal as all of you, and like it or not, there will always be the good and bad days in our life.

Perhaps it's the bad ones that makes us cherish the good ones a little one and remind us that no matter how tough a day it might seem, we will get through it one way or another. So yes, it's okay to feel a little more tired, a little more upset, a little irrational, a little emotional or just feel bad in general. Rest, relax, take deep breaths, unwind and find a way to regain the motivation and strength we need. We might have lost the battle today but we live to fight another day and tomorrow, we're gonna be victorious.

I'm so thankful that Ansel and I persevered in our breastfeeding journey despite a rocky start in the first few months. Now, the baby has not only mastered his latch but we've even been able to practise side latching too in the middle of the night, making feedings much less tiring for me. Phew. You are awesome for not giving up, baby boy!
 

Then there are the little, unexpected moments here and there that brighten up our day. For instance, the kids and I were playing Play-Doh one day and one of them made a "I Love You" message for me while the other kneaded a figurine of me, him and the baby. How cute, right?
 


Perhaps it was a sign that bad things were to come, or maybe it was just purely a coincidence. My babies have been using the same bathtub for the past 12 years - yup, this was the tub that we bought in Sweden for Angel and it was passed down to the siblings thereafter. One day, it fell on accident and started to crack. I tried repairing it with superglue but to no avail and the crack got bigger and bigger. For fear of it cutting the baby, we decided that it was time to get a new one. 旧的不去,新的不来,right? Letting go is so hard in life, but sometimes, we just have to do so.
 


You know how I like to do things myself instead of waiting for the hubby to be free and do it for me, right? I brought the the boys out and armed myself with a baby carrier so that I would have my hands free to carry the new tub back. We chose a big one that had a back support and bought some bath toys too. Then we went to dabao dinner for everyone and it ended up that we were carrying a significant amount of weight home and it was challenging yet fulfilling when my arms started to ache, haha. On the way home, the 5-year-old said he wanted to take the bus and even wanted to go up to the second level so that we could sit in front. And we did it, with tub and baby and all, which was quite an achievement and a fond memory for sure.
 


Night walks always make me feel better. So whenever I am down, I would look forward to such trips with the family. They enable me to have a breath of fresh air, to distract myself, to think about other things other than those brooding ones. It's a good thing that these kids enjoy such simple walks where they can get close to nature too and if given a choice between going to a park or an indoor playground, I am pretty sure they are happy to choose the former.
 


I am blessed to have an awesome firstborn who helps me with the baby every day when she gets home. I know, many of you have reminded me of that fact too when I shared her letters or pictures of her helping out. That doesn't mean that we don't have our ups and downs, in fact, we do have many of our bad days too which end up in quarrels, screams and tears. It ain't easy and will never be easy raising a child to become a teen and guiding him/her onto the right path in life. It took us so much hard work to get to where we are and I know that we still have a long, long way to go. So yeah, we are all in this journey together, yeah?
 

I'm getting good at bringing 4 kids out to the movies these days, woohoo! I surprised them with tickets to Fast & Furious 9 one Friday and they were so thrilled! A movie outing isn't cheap as our family gets bigger but we still like to head to the cinema once in a few months. Other than that, Netflix will suffice for our weekly movie nights, which is something that I hope will stay even when they are all grown up.
 

What's my number one happy pill these days? Well, it's this ray of sunshine, of course! The baby is getting active these days and demands every minute of my attention, which I'm only too happy to give to him because I know this phase will fly past very soon. He is getting curious, like to tug at things, eats everything he sees and loves to be carried by us.
 



Here are more pics to prove how he makes me smile. I mean, it's pretty hard to resist that cutie, happy face, right? I remember hugging him extra hard when I was feeling devastated about Popo and even though he doesn't know it, he made the pain a little easier to bear. So thank you, my little one, you are my motivation to keep going strong in life and to never give up!
 




Water washes away tears, which is also why I like to take a hot bath when I am feeling sad. I think a swim works the same way too. Anyway, the kids were really happy when they saw that I had bought a swimsuit for Ansel and was prepared to take them all to swim when the hubby was away. Yup, 2 kids can swim and 2 kids can't, so I had to be extra vigilant at all times. It was a good session though and we enjoyed ourselves! It seemed like the boy will be a water baby like his siblings because he was so happy being in the pool and didn't even whine in the least though we were there for nearly two hours.



I seldom shop for myself and I don't buy things regularly online too - I guess that is one of the reasons why the hubby married me, haha. That said, I decided to get these pretty ceramic cups recently because I wanted to up my level of making chawanmushi and make it more authentic. The kids were really thrilled to each get a cup during dinner and they loved it to the max, woohoo! So this was really worthwhile and it also motivates me to keep cooking for the family too, no matter how simple my dishes may be.



Thanks to Skechers, we all received new kicks to encourage us to keep walking, keep exploring and keep fit. For this year's Skechers Friendship Walk, our aim is to complete 50,000 steps which means around 38km. Does that sound like too much when you consider that we have young kids and a baby? Well, I'm determined to do it and I think we can! It's such a blessing that we have so many nature reserves, reservoirs and parks in our tiny island and it's something that we don't take for granted. I always look forward to weekends because that means family time for us. Do you too?





July saw a number of media drops and writing jobs for me, which were things that excited me and made me feel thankful about. Yet, when Popo was gone, I was left pondering and regretting how much time I spent on all of it when I could have spent those time with her instead. Yup, guilt struck me in so many ways and I felt so angry at myself for not celebrating Mother's Day and her birthday with her this year by using the pandemic as an excuse. Sigh. 
 
Then Ariel told me "But Tai Po won't want you to change your way of life for her but to continue doing what you do." Yup, such wise words from my 8-year-old. I guess, deep down I do know that but it's just gonna take time to come to terms with it. The five stages of grief, right? One day, I'll be at the Acceptance stage, I hope.
 
Regardless, I'm very thankful for all the sponsors who believe in us and have blessed us with so many nice things. It makes me even happier when they ask me to host giveaways because that means I'm spreading the love to others and bringing joy into their lives too, no matter how little that is. If you are reading this, it also means you probably follow me on social media too so thanks for all the support you've given me over the years, yeah? 



















Other than the walks, we've not been doing much exercise lately, which is probably my fault because I just wasn't in the mood. We still go to the playground and the kids like to do some yoga or stretching, but we've not been dancing or working out as much as we usually do. It's also a busy period for us as the big girl begins her Prelims and PSLE soon but no matter what, I hope we will always find time to play, relax and enjoy our time together as a family. Happiness, good health and safety of my family are most important to me.



Yup, so that's about it for the month of July and my apologies if it hasn't been as uplifting as my usual "Happiness is..." posts. But, I guess it's still heartfelt, raw and genuine - which is the way any of my blog posts should be. Life isn't a bed of roses and there's no point in trying to pretend that it is.


The good thing is we are never alone and as long as we open our hearts, there is still so much joy in this world to be seen, heard and felt. I wish to thank my kids for being the ones to cheer me up and give me strength in the past month because I think I would be stuck in grief for way much longer if not for you.

Let's hug each other a little harder and cherish each day a little deeper, yeah?


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