Happiness is... realising less can be more

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 08, 2017
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I admit I'm the kind of person who likes to multi-task, wants to do everything and has a tendency to pack her day full of activities. It's almost like I don't like to sit around doing nothing or feeling like I'm doing so little with my life, you know what I mean?

I guess that is why being a stay-at-home mum of three suits me so well because whaddaya know, I don't even have time to properly breathe on most days now because looking after these kiddos, and having to take care of a house too, keeps me constantly on my toes. I go to bed feeling so exhausted every night nowadays and on some occasions, I even wonder if I should stop blogging altogether to cut myself some slack.

The month of November was a time of realisation for me because it struck me that I needn't, and shouldn't, be trying to do so much and achieve so much every day. In more ways than one, doing less can actually mean gaining more, if only I'd stop in my steps and think about it from another perspective. So yes, in this post of "Happiness is...", it's understanding that less can be more and reminding myself to enjoy the simplicity of life.

LESS ROUTINE, MORE FREE PLAY

We don't usually have a routine at home and the only thing I try to instill nowadays is a bedtime. That said, I still fail 90% of the time because they will procrastinate (okay, sometimes I do that too), will find reasons not to go to bed on time (why must they always wanna pee only after they should be in bed already and not before), and will be overly excited to Papa who returns home late on most nights (if he even comes home at all).

Anyway, I don't come up with a timetable for them on when they should do revision, when they can have time for play, what time to nap, when they can watch TV, when to do the household chores etc. We usually play by ear and I realise that having less routines means they have more time to come up with their activities, to be creative during free play and they even develop more ways to bond and interact with each other.

I came out of my afternoon nap with the toddler one day to see that the girls had already woken up and set up their own 'tent', picnic area and designed their own games to play with all their plushies friends


Grandma's birthday was coming and the girls wanted to make cards, so I just gave them a bunch of materials and let them do whatever they want in their free time


LESS ENRICHMENT CLASSES, MORE FAMILY TIME

I like to keep our weekends free so that we can do anything and everything we want as a family without having to rush here and there for any enrichment classes. That is also why I try to keep our classes to a minimum too because family time is by far too precious to be sacrificed. Other than art classes (which the kids really love) and our sponsored classes at Heguru (which they also enjoy and told me they wish to continue), I do not intend to take on anymore for now. Yes, two is the ideal number, and also the maximum, of enrichment classes for my kids for now. Let's just hope we can stay this way for years to come!

Angel's latest artwork at heART Studio, a chinese painting of a beautiful tree and colourful birds

Ariel's version of colourful, 3-D houses by Karla Gerard
 
LESS CLUTTER, MORE SPACE

Since the school holidays started, we've been trying to declutter and spring clean the house. So far, we've cleared quite a bit of stuff, starting from their wardrobes and study area. Given that our house has no storeroom (go on a tour in our house here) and that I'm trying to be a minimalist instead of being a hoarder, I think it is important that we learn to live with less clutter in our lives. The girls have been really helpful in the process too and I think it matters to let them have a say in what things they wish to keep and what they are able to chuck or donate.

This shelf houses all the clothes that Asher has, other than those in the laundry basket or clothes rack, or those with matching family wear. Really very minimal, right? I always think we don't need much clothes, just the ones that are really comfy to wear over and over again. Explains why I myself don't need a huge wardrobe too!

LESS QUANTITY, MORE QUALITY

The kids honestly don't see much of their Papa on weekdays. That's the truth about being married to a sailor and if you haven't read my post on what it means to be a navy wife (which, to my surprise, garnered over 2,000 likes on Facebook), you really should. It's to the extent that they no longer ask if Papa will be coming home tonight, where he's gone, and they don't even feel a tinge of sadness when sending him off at the airport but waved happily and said "Farewell, Papa!" (On the other hand, they have expressed that Mummy is not allowed to leave them, not even for a short break. #notfair)

That is also why weekends are extra precious to us because the hubby tries to reserve more time for us too and we love exploring new places, hanging out at our favourite places or just doing nothing much but being together as a family. Having less time to spend with him means we cherish the time we have to be together even more. I know I do, because with him around, it means I don't have to do the solo parenting gig and I can finally take a shower in peace. Haha.

We salute you, Daddy, and the whole Singapore Navy. Thank you for working so hard for our family and for our country!


Supporting the hubby at the RSN50@Vivo event. I hope he knows how proud we are of him even if we don't say it out often enough


Love this shot of the kids in the No.1. Go, Navy!

It's been really hard for the hubby to even carry the toddler because this boy refuses and demands for no one but Mama. He has to bribe, coax and use a lot of methods before they could get this precious smiling shot. Dear Asher, please let Papa take you from my arms more often because it breaks his heart when you reject him, you know?

The hubby took time to attend a couple of media events with us this month and I couldn't be more thankful for that. It's always great to be reunited as a family

During the first weekend of November, we went for Halloween Family Night Out held at Kidzania. It was awesome to dress up as a family and though the event ended at 11pm, we went for late night supper and reached home at 1am. Fwah!




Even though we keep reusing our Halloween costumes, the kids were just very happy to be able to dress up again (like what they did last year). Haha. Thanks for being easily contented, my dears!


LESS ANGER, MORE PATIENCE

On some days, I flare up more than I like to and even though I can blame it on many reasons (PMS, the fact that I don't get enough sleep, having to solo parent, a lack of me-time etc), the fact remains that I wish I can be more patient at times without feeling the need to raise my voice, shout, nag, chide or argue. It's not just with the kids, I've had a couple of run-ins with the hubby, who is also feeling lethargic and stressed from his work, too. Yes yes, A Happy Mum does get her share of bad days too, don't doubt it.

Well, moving on, I can only hope to constantly remind myself to keep my cool, to talk amiably, to shout and snap less, to have patience, patience and more patience.

I found this note which was written by the big girl to... herself. Yup, she kept it in her bag to remind herself what to do if she gets angry (she can throw terrible tantrums which frustrate me badly). If even a 8yo can do this, surely I can remind myself to manage my anger and find ways to calm down too? I really hope I can do it.

To the hubby, I think we will never stop bickering from time to time because we are both such headstrong people. Perhaps, that's just how every couple needs to be in order to stay in love forever. That said, let's just remember to always be thankful for each other and for our lovely family because that will be our motivation to keep going. Love you!


LESS COMPLAINTS, MORE PRACTICE

It's never going to be easy having to parent three kids on my own, not to mention that I love to bring them out every now and then to explore, play and have fun. We go out at least thrice a week and let's face it, there are always going to be challenges because these are kids after all and it's never going to smooth and easy for me as a mum. I've had so many people stop me on the streets to give me a pat on the shoulder and to ask me how I do it, but the truth is I'm still trying and learning every day too.

Instead of fearing the obstacles, whining about how tough it can be or grumbling to my absent hubby on WhatsApp, I've decided to instead spend more time on practising, on learning to deal with all sorts of sticky situations (for eg. having to order food at a foodcourt while hearing bawls coming from my table, having to deal with a kid who for some reason needs to poo every time AFTER my food is here, having to split myself in different directions to keep them safe, having to nag non-stop because these people just don't seem to understand instructions). When there's a will, there's a way. I know I can, and I will, continue to enjoy my outings with the kiddos and cherish these years while they are still young and love to hang out with Mama.

We took public transport to town to celebrate the big girl's birthday, which falls on a weekday, and it was a fun day to remember! Glad to see those smiles on her face and once again told myself that as long as I believe I can do it, I will do it.




LESS RUSHING, MORE APPRECIATING

Is it just me or do you feel that we are constantly rushing our kids? Quick, eat your breakfast. Come on, walk faster, we are running late. Can you go to bed now, it's late. You have only five minutes to do this, do it now. Why are you doing it so slowly, we don't have time! I know I do, every day, it's like there are a million things for us to accomplish and we have to quicken our pace somewhat. It's a little sad, isn't it? They will be inevitably sucked into the rat race when they grow up and enter the society, so we should let them make the most of their childhood, slow down their pace and breathe in everything life has to offer, shouldn't we? In fact, my kids are always the ones who remind me to take it slow and enjoy the little things in life. Like how they ask me to stop in my steps to look at a bug, to smell a flower, to look at the trees, to guess the shape of the clouds, to say "Hi" to a stranger. There are so many things that we adults tend to take for granted or stopped appreciating, and it is being a mum that reminds me to slow down, stop more, admire the wonders and enjoy what life has to offer.

I was in a rush one day (as usual) but reminded myself to stop in my steps to appreciate the little things in life. This is something that the kids have taught me and something I think I need to do more of

LESS FOCUSING ON THE BAD, MORE SEEING THE GOOD

More often than not, we tend to pick faults rather than applaud the strengths of our children. I know that too well because I have, on more than one or two occasions, overlooked all the good things that they have done and instead nitpick about how they can be better. It's hard to see that like all human beings, they are not perfect and will never be. So instead of holding them to high standards and expecting flawless behaviour, I keep on reminding myself to focus less on the bad (it doesn't mean I let them go if they do a terrible wrong, I still have to discipline them because it is my job as a mum) and to see more of the good in them. Like how they've been helping me with the chores even if they are not done perfectly, how they still protect each other when we are out even though they bicker at times, how they start off with good intentions even if they end up doing things the wrong way, how they have put in effort even though they might not be different from what I expected. Let go of your so many expectations, Mama, no matter how hard it is.

The firstborn gets the most of my scoldings because I just tend to expect more out of her due to her being the eldest and my best chance of having an extra pair of hands. I need to remind myself to see her as a child, still, to accept her shortcomings and to see all the good that she has tried to do - like how she taught her sister to do her Heguru homework so I could do other chores


The little sister also had her annual school concert themed Wizard of Oz and did a most wonderful job dancing as Tin Man Girl. I have to admit that I was feeling somewhat upset that night because as much as I tried to, I ended up filming a very shaky video of her performance which was totally not up to my standards. Why? Firstly, the toddler couldn't stop fidgeting and it was hard for me to even keep my eyes on, much less enjoy, the concert. Secondly, the hubby stopped me from going nearer to the stage (which most other parents, including me, always do when it's our child's turn) to film her dance because he was scared that the toddler would act up without me. For goodness's sake, I just needed three minutes of peace but I couldn't even get it. As a result, I could only record the dance from where I sat and it ended up that my girl was scanning the crowd for Mama throughout the dance and never did see me. Boohoo.

Well, the thing is she still did a superb job and many fellow parents told me she was a great dancer. Still, I couldn't stop feeling regretful when I edited her video (you know how they love to watch my videos of them, right?) because I could have done a much better recording job and gave her a better video to remember this fond day. It was only when she told me "Never mind, Mama" when I apologised did I realise that she didn't mind it in the least, and it was only my own expectations of myself that I had to manage. Don't sweat the small stuff, Summer, there are so many more things for you to celebrate, so many good things in life for you to discover and so many moments that you should learn to just embrace.

Annual school concerts are some of my favourite milestones of the kids and I always try to take videos for them so that these memories can last forever. You did a superb job in your new school this year, dear Ariel!

LESS HUGE PARTIES, MORE INTIMATE GATHERINGS

We've decided to hold more cosy. intimate birthday parties in our home because honestly, it gives me less stress, allows us to have more interaction, lets me plan more activities for the guests, makes for better goodie bags for those who came, gives us more time and space to thoroughly enjoy every minute of the celebration. Read about our Sylvanian tea party held for the big girl this month (and we have two more parties to come!) and how it was a blast for her and her best buddies. These are memories that will last the kids for a lifetime and I am just happy that I managed to make it happen despite having three year end babies.

The big girl had a wonderful birthday celebration cum farewell party with her best friends from her primary school. She was so happy that day and thankful for everything I did for her. Awwww, I guess small parties are the way to go from here because those big smiles say it all

Another cake celebration (using a slice of the leftover cake) on her actual day. Can't believe how fast she is growing and only reminds me how fleeting these years can be

LESS WATCHING, MORE PARTICIPATING

My kids tend to get very crazy at times (which kid doesn't, right?) and I know that there are times when I nag more than I should or try to tame them when they deserve to have more freedom to be wild and carefree. Nowadays, I try to tell myself to let loose a little, to give them more space to do what they want to do, to forget rules sometimes - and even to join in their craziness.

Yup, perhaps much more than wanting to be photographed or videoed, they just want Mama to make the most of that spontaneous moment with them - be it singing out loud in an empty MRT carriage, doing silly antics and monkey faces, laughing out loud at the slightest joke, dancing like no one is watching and just enjoying all the simple joys of being together. Of being alive.

Don't even know how to caption this, haha. My bubbly, crazy yet perfectly normal and lovable kids?



Yup, there's so much more that motherhood has taught me and I can only once again say that I'm so thankful to be here. Less is definitely more in more ways than one, but if there's one thing I am proud and happy to have more, it's having more kids than my hands can handle because these little people keep my hands full but my heart so full too.

Counting down to the end of 2017 and an awesome new year ahead of us!


A Universal Christmas @ Universal Studios Singapore

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 06, 2017
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December is a joyous time for us because not only do is it the school holidays, it is also a month packed full of birthday parties, gatherings and Christmas celebrations. We were very thrilled to start off this festive season on a high note by visiting one of our happiest places - Universal Studios Singapore

I always look forward to the Christmas highlights in USS because with all the themed shows, mascots, carolling, snowfall, hands-on activities and interactive opportunities, it is a great way to get together as a family, feel the festive mood and at the same time, have a ball of a time on the exciting rides too. 

This year, the theme is A Universal Christmas and the events take place from 1 Dec 2017 to 1 Jan 2018. During this period, the park hours are extended to 9pm so you will be able to experience an entire day, and night, of fun at the park. All the Christmas special activities are also extended to park visitors at no extra cost, so make sure you check them out during your visit. I'll be sharing with you the highlights that you can look forward to and also tell you more of our experience. There will also be a video at the end of the post, so do check it out too!

Santa’s Workshop
12:00pm – 8:00pm

Santa Claus is recruiting for elves to join his entourage and everyone can sign up for the training! All you have to do is to help him complete simple tasks, collect all stamps and you will 'officially' become an elf - and even get a certificate to prove it! Well, which kid can possibly resist, right?




Each workshop takes about 15-20 minutes and at the start, you will be asked to sign up at one of the stations where the friendly elves will be there to assist you. Once you are done, you can play with snow, take a picture with the snowman, ride on the sleigh and enjoy the light-up ceremony before proceeding to the next room.





The kids were very thrilled to receive their elves certificates from the lead elf and they were told that they had to complete a series of tasks before they could pass the test. To turn us into 'tiny' elves, we were then ushered through a small blue door which led us to the next room. Yes, basically you just go from room to room to complete a task in each of them.



I was hoping for more hands-on activities but time wasn't on our side so the tasks were kept very simple and straightforward. For instance, you have to search for the missing parcel in the Mail Room, help to look for missing ingredients in Mrs Claus' kitchen, see a robot being assembled in the Toy Factory. With each completed task you will receive a stamp which has the letter 'F' (not for fail but for Find, Fun, Follow, Festive and Finish) on it.




The finale has to be the most exciting part because we got to come up close with who else but.... Santa Claus himself! This amiable Santa makes a hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho" and the kids were thrilled to get his stamp of approval and a photo opportunity too!




Search for a Christmas Star
Showtimes: 7:30pm & 8:45pm

I remember how much we enjoyed watching the Christmas show put up by the Toy Soldiers a couple of years ago, so I was very much looking forward to this highlight show - which only takes place at two timings a day. In fact, we arrived early so that we could get front row seats and the best possible view. Thankfully, the show didn't disappoint and the first part with the graceful aerial acrobatics by Airy Fairy and the beautiful light-up ceremony already took my breath away.



I was half thinking that we would be literally searching for a star until the performers came on stage and it struck me that it was actually a star search contest where contestants, who were dressed as Christmas ornaments, battled it out to win the Golden Star Trophy. Complete with Christmas hit songs, hip hop dance moves, projection mapping and pyrotechnics display, the show was a delight to watch and even my toddler, who by the way had skipped his nap, was cheering, applauding and clearly enjoying every moment of it. 



The surprise element came in the finale where we were greeted with not one, but two Gingerbreads! Yup, bet you never saw Gingerbread Man and Gingerbread Girl dancing together, right? You have to see it in my video later! Everyone went "Sooooo cute!" when they came on stage and when the snow began to fall on us, it was just a magical feeling that makes you love Christmas even more. The show ended on a high note and it was a reminder that Christmas is not a time to fight but a time to gather with family and friends, enjoy each other's company and be thankful to have one another in our lives.




Oscar’s Grouchmas Show
Showtimes: 1:30pm, 4:00pm, 6:30pm & 8:00pm

We would have loved to watch this show but alas it was raining in the afternoon and we were either in a "Lost World" or too "Far Far Away" to make our way back to the theatre in "New York". If your kid loves Sesame Street, then be sure to plan your timings accordingly so you can make your way for the show. It revolves around Oscar who transforms from a Christmas grouch to the holiday’s #1 fan and includes upbeat songs and special appearances by the Sesame Street friends.



Oh, one important tip is to remember to bring your ponchos along! I was so glad we did because it meant we didn't have to hide from the rain for too long and could continue to explore the park despite the wet weather. They came in really handy during the Water World show (the kids wanted to be in the Soak Zone) and Jurassic Park Rapids ride too!


Santa's Snowy Sleigh Ride
Parade Times: 12:00pm, 2:00pm, 4:00pm, 6:00pm & 8:00pm

We were told that Santa would ride in his sleigh along the Hollywood stretch and also put up a dance routine with his elves for this event. So, we planned it such that we were in time to catch the last show at 8:00pm. Alas, the staff then told us that the sleigh and dancing only takes place in the earlier sessions and we could only manage to take a photo with Santa and his elves at the gigantic Christmas tree. Still, it was a great way to end off our night! If you would like to watch him in more action and ride on his sleigh, do be there for the earlier sessions in the day.

Christmas, to us, is a time to gather with family and friends, to feel the joy in the air and warmth in our hearts (and yummy goodies in our tummies), to count our blessings and be thankful for where we are in our lives. All our weekends in December are fully packed and we are very much looking forward to hosting as well as attending all the joyous celebrations. It's going to be such a busy month yet one filled with lots of happy memories to look back on next time. Thanks to @universalstudiosg for helping us to start the festive month on a high note! We thoroughly enjoyed #AUniversalChristmas which involved lots of fun, laughter, snow, Christmas carols and even got to meet Santa and his elves! Ho Ho Ho! This will surely be a happy day to remember! #ahappymum #universalstudiossingapore #uss #mediainvite #christmas #hohoho #santaclausiscomingtotown #santaandhiselves #meetandgreet #toobadtherewasnosleigh #ourhappyplace #wewillbeback #bestdayever
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Check out this video to see more of our experience in A Universal Christmas, including the adorable Gingerbread Man and Girl!



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Calling all Hello Kitty fans

The Hello Kitty Studio, which sits along the Hollywood stretch near the main entrance, is officially open! You can find a wide range of Hello Kitty merchandise here including apparel, accessories, bags, plushies, mugs, water bottles, souvenirs and more. My girls were happy just to take a photo with the beautiful Hello Kitty sitting at the entrance (yes, you won't miss the shop!) who dons a pink gown, pink gloves, pink shoes, pearl necklace and a huge glittery bow.





As part of the Christmas special, all guests can shop this year's hottest gifts at any of the park’s retail store and have their gifts delivered straight to their loved ones for free with a minimum spend ($80 for attractions passholders, $90 for Mastercard holders and $100 for general public). This includes one free postage to a Singapore address only.

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We had so much fun at A Universal Christmas and as expected, we left the park only when we had to at 9pm! Yes, the kids thoroughly enjoyed all the rides too and I've a feeling we will be back again very soon next year. Every of our trip to USS is filled with awesome memories and lots of fond videos to look back on, and that is why I'm pretty sure it will continue to be one of our happiest places to visit for a long time to come.

Disclosure: We were invited by Universal Studios Singapore to check out A Universal Christmas and received complimentary admission into the park. All opinions, photos and videos are our own.


It's a Sylvanian Tea Party - Angel is 8!

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 01, 2017
in

When I tell people that I have not one but three year end babies (yes, all by coincidence and birthed naturally), they usually go "Oh good! Then you can celebrate their birthdays together". In a sense, it is true and if I were to combine a birthday bash for all three of them, it would definitely save me a lot of hassle.

But when you think about it, a combined birthday party loses that special touch for each individual kid, doesn't it? I've done two combined bashes for the girls, one was a Sofia the First themed party two years ago at our old house when I was just a couple of weeks away from delivering the boy, and the other was when The Tiara Society kindly offered to host a Frozen royal party last year for my princesses. It's not that they didn't turn out to be awesome because they did and the sisters were happy to be part of each other's big day; it's just that I knew in my heart if I could, I would prefer to hold a small, personalised party for each of them.

So, we decided this year that we will have cosy, intimate parties to celebrate their special days and I realised that in this case, less actually means more. A less number of people on the guest list means more time for interaction, more opportunities for play, more games, more involvement, more goodie bag items, more photo taking, more joy and laughter, more room for enjoyment. Yes, I think this is the way that works best for us and it's probably how it will be from now on.


Here's sharing more about the big girl's birthday party which was a Sylvanian Families Tea Party. Yup, the kids get to choose their own themes this year and you bet they were super elated about it! It was heartening to see how they would look forward to the big day and even though my decorations were kept very simple this time, everyone was very excited and we would talk about the games, the food, the friends we were gonna invite, the goodie bag items we could get, which charity we would donate to, and so on. It was easy for us to get into the party planning mood!

The Preparation

Weeks before the big day, she had already decided on the classmates she was going to invite to the party. I asked her to keep it to a number of around 5-6 so that we could have a small-scaled party with lots of activities and she was more than happy to oblige because she has always loved all the games and crafts we do at her parties. Anyway, since she is transferring to another primary school next year, one which is nearer to our current home, I wanted this to be a farewell party for her too so she could have some precious memories with her best buddies whom she has bonded with in the last two years of her primary school life.


I'm still very much into doing hard copy invites so we printed out a self-designed one and she helped to cut and stick them in place. One of her classmates' mum, who also came to our party last year, actually took photos and told me how much her girl cherished these invites and had kept them in good condition. Awwww, how sweet, right? She is also one of the handful of friends who have been giving Angel handwritten cards and notes to say how much they will miss her when she's gone, how sad they are, and how they wish her all the best in her new journey. Till date, we have received over a dozen farewell gifts, notes or messages already and they are very much treasured. Yes, my girl has very awesome friends and I'm just so thankful she has bonded with so many people in her class.

Back to the setup, having a small-scaled party doesn't mean I don't do any decoration because I still have a passion to do it and I think it's the very least I can do for my kids. So, for our Sylvanian party, I designed a simple, personalised bunting to hang onto our brick wall which will be the backdrop for our photo booth. Yes, I wanted a photo booth so that the kids can take some shots together and make some memories and to jazz things up a little, I added paper cutout fans and also did a basket of DIY photo props (will share more about these in another post).


As for the goodie bags, these have got to be the best ones we've ever given away. Oh, by the way, Daiso is my go-to place when it comes to getting party favours and since I don't like to give out candies and chocolates, I really love shopping around in Daiso to see what stationery, toys, ornaments, bags or lifestyle items I can get. For the Sylvanian party, which reminds me of animals and all things cute, I got some animal tote bags, furry rabbit sling bags and vintage photo frames from Daiso for our lovely guests.


The highlight items in the good bags will be these cute Sylvanians we bought from Kiddy Palace - which even come with rocking horse, study desk, and springer. Like I said, less people means better gifts and I honestly hope that all our guests loved the presents we had chosen for them.


Another personalised touch was that I would print out the photos the guests each took with Angel and slot them into the photo frames as a surprise. Yes, it makes a huge difference as compared to an empty frame and it was worthwhile rushing to do it on my computer during the party!





The Setup

The night before the party, we brought out all the girls' Sylvanian collection to decorate the dining tables. They had so much fun setting up and deciding where each piece should go, and it's nice to actually involve them and let them play a part in the preparation process too.


This lightbox is a new addition in our house and I think it works great for parties! Well, except that the word Sylvanian is a teeny weeny long for the box, I loved everything about the box and how it was a good way to let the younger ones practise their alphabets and spelling when we were setting up too.


On the morning of the party, we put the box at our shoe rack area outside our main door so that the guests would be able to tell at first glance which house was ours. Oh, can you see that paper marche rabbit that we put at our door? Yup, it's nicknamed Honey Bunny and it was done by the birthday girl in her art class too. How apt for a Sylvanian themed party, right?


Last year, we requested for our guests not to bring the girls any gifts but if they would like to, they could help make a donation to Children's Cancer Society. This year, I asked the girls if they would still wanna donate for a good cause and to my delight, they said "Yes!" After we had a discussion, they decided that this time, they wanna do their part for their animal friends and collect funds for SPCA. I also promised them that we'll make a trip down after the party so that we could personally hand over the donation too. A good way to do something meaningful, don't you agree?



The Party

Time to get the party started! Before the guests started pouring in (okay actually it's streaming in because we only had five), we made sure we took a family photo first. With our rabbit ears, no less! Oh yes, the rabbit hairbands were for our guests to use at the photo booth and they could take one home with them afterwards too.


As with every party, some of the guests will arrive early and some will inevitably be late. I usually try to plan some simple activities to keep the early birds occupied while waiting for everyone to arrive too.



It was heartening to see how some of her friends made beautiful cards and personalised bracelets for her and I'm hoping we can find a special spot to keep all these precious memories for her to look back on some day.



For those who arrived early, they were kept occupied with these Sylvanian colouring sheets which I printed from online. I hope my kids will always love to colour because at my age, I still do! Haha.



When all the guests had arrived, it was time for a group photo and for the fun to begin!

Games and Activities

-> Design your own pencil case

First up, the kids each received a set of fabric markers which they could use to design their own pencil cases, thanks to these creative sets from Squiggle Doodle! Since the big girl loves to doodle and loves drawing and designing, I knew she would love this activity and it turned out they all did!








-> Make your own animal

Next, it was time to get our fingers sticky and colourful! Using Play-doh, we tried to mould it into animal shapes and it was interesting to see what the kids came up with, from pigs to caterpillars to snowman look-alike figures. Angel was the only one who tried to make a rabbit that resembles the one from Sylvanian Families and she did a pretty good job at it too!










-> Sylvanian Mini Golf

I wanted to add in a ball game so that the kids could stand up, stretch, move around and have fun too! This might look easy but it took me an afternoon just to cut out those animals onto the cardboard. I'll share more in a tutorial next time but the good news is these turned out awesome and all of the girls couldn't stop playing! All you have to do is hit the golf ball into any of the animal holders and you get the number of points that is indicated. The one with the highest score wins!






-> Win, Lose or Draw

Lastly, we also had a game where the kids took turns to come up to the whiteboard to draw and let the others guess the answer. I did up the game cards based on "Activities that the family can do together" and came up with a stack of 48 different answers as shown below. Simple but oh so much fun, just like how I like my parties to be.






Food

This being a tea party, we ordered finger food from Prima Deli which included fruit tarts, cupcakes, cream puffs, Swiss roll, chocolate eclairs and also added some fresh fruits and yummy jelly from Châteraisé (costs $2.50 for one!). I wanted the games and activities to be the highlight of the party more than the food, so a tea party was the ideal choice.




It was all smiles and laughter when we took a break from the activities to indulge in the treats before resuming with all more crafts and games. I like that it was kind of free and easy and that the kids had plenty of time to interact with each other, enjoy the food, talk about anything under the sun and have a thoroughly good time. For me, it was the first time in a long while I felt so relaxed as the party host too, which was a way awesome feeling.



Time for the cake cutting ceremony! We didn't want to have a fanciful cake so I asked Angel to pick a cake from the catalogue we saw at Prima Deli. Being a chocolate lover, she chose this Chocolate Fudge cake which is ranked as one of their Top 10 most popular cakes. Indeed, the sponge filling was very fluffy, the icing was moist and everything was just the right amount of sweet, no wonder the guests gave it the thumbs up too!




To go along with the theme, I printed out a cake topper and also used some of Angel's favourite Sylvanian characters to decorate the cake too. Yes, I'm loving that it looks simple yet tastes yummy, which is way better than customising an elaborate cake which looks pretty but loses out in taste.


All in all, it was such a simple yet superb Sylvanian party we had and I know Angel enjoyed every minute of it. The mums of her friends told me they couldn't stop talking about the party too so I'm just glad they enjoyed it as immensely as we did. Happy turning 8, my dear girl and I'm so happy to know that you're happy! Till your next birthday celebration!

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In addition to having a party with her best friends, we always have a gathering with the close family members to celebrate her special day too. Yes, that essentially means I usually plan two parties for every kid which explains why I'm so busy during the year end! After all, it's hard to mix the extended family with her classmates and since her cousins vary from ages as young as four to twelve, it is always a challenge for me to think of games that will entertain everyone, including the grandparents.


The good thing is our family members are usually very sporting and we always love to catch up over a good meal. With the help of the hubby and my in-laws, we prepared a steamboat and some side dishes for everyone to enjoy. Yes, I'm very thankful for these people who can cook better than I do because I'd much prefer to stick to my role of the game master too, haha.

I thought the golf game was much too fun to be missed and it turned out that every kid, no matter big or small, was happy to keep trying to be the top scorer of the game! We played multiple rounds and although Angel was a little dismayed that she didn't emerge top (yes, she is a perfectionist at times), it was a good learning lesson for her because at one point or another, she needs to know that she cannot be champion all the time. In fact, I told her failure is good for her because it means she needs to pick herself up and try harder the next time round. That's how we build up grit and tenacity in our lives, isn't it?


Our last activity for the night was also the most fun one - CHARADES! Yes, family charades. I used the same deck of cards from the Win, Lose or Draw game but this time, they were supposed to act out the family-friendly activities for others to guess. It was hilarious and I loved how everyone took part in the game, including our mums and dads and everyone in the family. We acted out activities like "Going on a cruise", "Staying in a chalet", "Going on a roller coaster ride", "Visiting Gardens by the Bay", "Celebrating Christmas", "Doing household chores", "Having late night supper" and so on and I must say some of them were very creative interpretations!



It was an evening filled with good food, fun games and incessant laughter and I love how these simple celebrations are going to stayed etched in our minds for a long, long time to come. In fact, I think this is the way we will be celebrating birthdays from on, cosy gatherings instead of large-scaled parties.


Oh, for her second cake (how lucky, right?), we got this Chocolate and Hazelnut flavoured ice cream cake from Swensens! It's the first time we got an ice cream cake and even though the big girl is not really a cake lover, she enjoyed every bite of this cake because well, it's ice cream after all, right? I hope she knows just how blessed and loved she is, not just on her special day but every day of her life.


Much thanks to the family and friends who helped to make Angel's 8th birthday such a memorable and fun-filled one! We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did too! Till the next party update, which is happening very soon! Woohoo! It's Party Time!


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