It's okay to cry...

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 02, 2020
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I have always been an emotional and sentimental person.

When I was young, I teared up at every touching scene at the movies. I felt a lump in my throat when I heard songs with lyrics that spoke to my heart. I cried when I had an argument with my mum or the then-boyfriend, knowing that it would not help to solve things at all. It's not that I am frail - I like to think I am pretty tough after three births without epi and 11 years of being a stay-at-home mum. It's just that crying has been, and still is, a way for me to release stress, to feel and let go of my emotions, to be better able to pick myself up and emerge stronger after.

Thus, when I heard myself saying recently to one of the kids "Why must you cry over such a small thing?", I wanted to give myself a big, hard kick afterwards. In the first place, what is trivial in my eyes, like not being able to find a pair of socks or forgetting where they put one particular pencil even though there are dozens of others, might be a huge matter to them, especially in that very moment. Who am I to judge or to tell them they ought to hold it in instead of letting it out? Of all people, I should understand not just because I've been through it but also because I'm their mum a.k.a the person they trust most in the world.

It really got me thinking for quite some time. Still, I didn't sit down to have a talk with them on this subject. That was, until this incident happened.

Remember how I used up days of time and thousands of pearls to make personalised portraits for the girls? Yup, each one consisted of 3,600 pearls and was a handmade gift of love that I wanted to present to my kids. Anyway, thanks to the circuit breaker, I had more free time on my hands and decided to finally snap out of my procrastination after all these years and do one for the boy too. He was so eager to see his face coming together and even helped me out with it. Holding a tweezer in one hand, he sat right beside me as we picked out the colours one by one and meticulously placed them side by side.

It took us a few days to do it but I was so happy when we saw the final piece. At long last, we were going to put this into a frame and display it right beside his sisters. My babies, my gems, my precious little ones.

The thing is, in order to hold the beads together, you have to stick this gigantic square piece of super sticky double sided tape behind them. This is how you will eventually stick all of them onto a board which will form as the backing in your frame. I always found this difficult but somehow, time and again, I had managed to complete it one way or another.

Just when I was trying to peel off that gigantic double sided tape and stick the boy's portrait onto the board, what happened was that one corner folded backwards and that was when one thing led to another. The tape stuck onto each other and I could NOT peel them apart no matter how hard or how long I tried. Soon after, the pearls started to fall out one after another and I had no idea which came from where. How could I? It was a case of the more I tried, the worse it became, which kind of reminds me of the bad days in parenting, doesn't it? Subsequently, the sticky mess got bigger and bigger until at one point, I knew it couldn't be salvaged.

It was at this time that I picked up the sticky mess, held it in my hand and felt the tears welling up in my eyes. Before I could stop myself, they were rolling down my cheeks and dripping onto the table. When the kids came up and saw what happened, I tried to brush away the tears but no, they just kept on coming. Yup, crying is just not something you can start or stop promptly at the snap of your fingers. I remember how my mum used to tell me to stop crying and I would adamantly reply "I can't. I have to finish crying first."

Perhaps it was the suddenness of witnessing how my days of hard work was ruined. Of seeing how my boy's face got shattered into pieces. Of realising how I had to fix the mess and start all over again. Or perhaps it was just an opportunity for me to let it all out. The frustration, the stress, the sense of loss that comes with motherhood, with solo parenting, or with the circuit breaker. I don't really know.

What I do know is I felt much better after that.

Yup, crying has been scientifically proven to make you feel better. So why stop it? Regardless of how society perceives it to be, I like to think that crying is a sign of strength rather than weakness. It takes great strength to show that you are vulnerable, especially in front of others. Also, if someone cries before you, it's likely because you are someone he/she loves, trusts and values.

I don't think my kids cry much in front of others, but in front of me, they do. They cry when they are sad, when they are worried, when they are angry, when they are scared, when they are hurt. It's natural. It's normal. The last thing I want is for them to think that it's wrong.

So what happened afterwards?

Well, let's just say my girls came to my rescue. They saw everything but they didn't say much and they didn't ask much. Even when my initial reaction was to blame them for distracting me and indirectly cause the mistake (yup, how mean of this mum), they remained quiet and not defensive. When the little brother came up being his chirpy and inquisitive self as usual, the big sisters told him "Didi, Mama is sad. Don't ask her so many things first."

Then, they sprung into action and told me they could help to fix my mistake. Each of them took a pair of tweezers and started to remove the beads one by one from the sticky mess. It wasn't a swift or easy task for an adult, not to mention for a kid. The tape would leave behind residue on every of the bead and after taking them apart, we had to use wet wipes to carefully scrape and clean every of them so that they would not stick together afterwards and could be reused. We did this nearly 1,000 times because there was just so many of them. Yup. For hours and hours, we did it together.

That was the beauty of it all. From a project that I wanted to undertake myself to one that became a collective effort and a labour of love, it just makes me cherish not just the final artwork, but the process of creating it even more. Looking at it reminds me of the effort and tears but beyond that, it's more about the love I have for my kids and the love they have for me.

That night, we sat down and talked about how it was okay to cry. It really is. The important thing is after letting it all out, you pick yourself up, see things in a different light, decide how best to move on, be strong and resolute when you try again, and remind yourself that your loved ones are always, always there for you. No matter what happens.

Thank you, my dears, for being there for me.

Happiness is... slowing down and enjoying life

Posted by ~Summer~ on June 25, 2020
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Looking through my gallery, I realised I don't have that many pictures taken in May as compared to most other months. Perhaps it was because we stayed home most of the time and were not able to visit places of attraction or do something totally new, fun and exciting. I would like to think that it was also partly because I was trying my best to savour those stay-home days and be truly present when I was with the kids. The first rule would be no distractions and that meant I shouldn't even have my phone, or any other electronic device for that matter, within reach.

Was it a good month? Totally. Sure, there were the usual ups and downs, laughter and tears, joy and frustration - all which were already part and parcel of being a parent. With two kids who were supposed to be enjoying their mid-year school holidays but were stuck at home and another whose school had been closed for nearly three months, you could say there was never a moment of quiet in the house - except when the kids were all in bed. Yet, this merry period was undeniably one of the best months we've had and I can only conclude that the circuit breaker has unexpectedly done my family more good than I thought it would.

In May's "Happiness is", it's about learning to take life at a slower pace and enjoying what it has to offer - like being surrounded by family bliss, giving and receiving love, picking up new skills, reading a good novel, appreciating home cooked meals, enjoying a good night's sleep, having meaningful conversations and so much more.

On Mother's Day, even though the hubby was away, the kids made me feel extra special and extremely loved by making me breakfast and presenting me with their handmade cards. It was nothing fanciful yet my heart was filled to the brim with joy. How blessed I am to have them in my life, to be able to wake up and see their beautiful faces, to feel their hugs and kisses every day, to know that they love me for who I am.

We always bring our mums out to celebrate Mother's Day or give them a treat but since we couldn't do it this year, I still made sure they felt our love. Besides mailing a handmade card and DIY accessories that the kids and I did, I also sent a chilli crab meal to my mum's place to surprise her. She said it was her favourite and it was so yummy!

When he returned, the hubby also presented us with this lovely belated Mother's Day cake and that was definitely a sweet gesture on his part. Thank you! The kids loved the chocolate so much, haha, 超甜的.

We tried to cook at home whenever we could in the last month and I think we only ordered from Grab a couple of times. I don't really enjoy the process of cooking, or cleaning up, but seeing the happy faces on the kids and knowing that they will remember the taste of home give me the determination to keep going. One of our favourite dishes this month was the Emperor Herbal Chicken which took me two hours to cook - one thing we had in abundance during this period was time, right? - but oh those flavours were so worth it.

I used to have many likes and hobbies before the kids came along - like crafting, reading, making beaded jewellery, crocheting and so on. For a long time, I forgot all about them. It's like I got caught up in their lives and kind of forgot my own since we were always rushing to and fro and I was constantly occupied with all kinds of parenting duties.

In an amazing way, the circuit breaker allowed me to take a step back, to rediscover hobbies, to make time for myself and others whom I care about. I found time to take out and organise thousands of colourful beads in my collection which I had built up a decade ago. I found the motivation to take up my wire cutter and rounder and make pairs of earrings and mobile phone straps - which I eventually mailed out to friends as gifts. I realised I had more to teach the kids and all I needed was time and opportunity, which had to be self-created.

For a couple of days, the girls saw me hard at work at making the gifts. I wanted it to inspire them and to let them know that tokens of love can be small but sincere and that no matter how busy life gets, we need to remember to show our love and appreciation. They were intrigued by what I was doing and asked if they could sit down to watch and learn. Why, yes, of course. Halfway through, they decided it was more fun to pretend to set up their own 'bead shop' and pretend to sell all kinds of beads. Haha. Do what makes you happy, my dears.

Amazingly, I also managed to rekindle another passion of mine - crocheting! The girls said "We never knew you could do this!", "You used to have so many hobbies!", "Mummy can make so many things!" which, in a way, made me feel happy that I finally found time for myself. I showed Angel the beanie I knitted for her and the booties I crocheted for her in Sweden when she was just a toddler, and she was so fascinated by them and interested to learn more. Besides making these cute amigurumis - a cupcake, a mug and an ice cream - for each of them, I also taught the girls the basics of crocheting so they could get started on their first projects. We spent hours with our needles and yawn on the sofa, just crocheting, talking, learning, and enjoying this new, slow pace of life.

As mentioned last month, one of the best things about the circuit breaker was having the hubby home much more often than usual. He would try to cook for us whenever possible and that was something I welcomed very much, haha. Let's see. He cooked lobsters, carbonara, soba with tempura, chicken rice, wagyu steak, and even made a pear with snow fungus soup for us. 100 marks for effort!

While the kids were unable to go for their weekly art class at heART Studio, we were thankful that the teachers came up with online tutorials and interactive Zoom sessions so that they could continue to work on their drawing and colouring techniques at home. Art is something that feels therapeutic for us and I hope the kids will always be able to make time for it, no matter how busy life gets.

I was out for a grocery run with the boy and took a photo here for keepsake. Well, I am pretty sure that all three of the kids will remember this COVID-19 period when they grow up but the thing is, will they remember it as a dreadful period because there was no place to go but home or a time where we bonded and spent as a family and did the things we love? I definitely hope it will be the latter. Read my post on the 12 lessons I hope my kids will learn from the pandemic.

I had a rare one-on-one afternoon out with the big girl and it was because we had to go to the hospital for a liquid nitrogen procedure to remove her wart. We spent two hours waiting as we read, talked and shared a chocolate ice blended. She reminds me so much of me at times, and I hope she knows just how much she is loved, no matter how naggy I am or how harsh I can be on her at times.

As for the younger two, they get along well, on most days at least, and love to play together. It's nice having more than two kids, you know, because if you want to play and one of your siblings is busy, at least you have another one to run to. Haha. Since the pool was closed, we had our own water play sessions at the balcony once in a fortnight and it was a good way to make sure that the kids were occupied and entertained for at least an hour. Yay!

Exercise is one of the best ways to keep fit while bond with the kids at the same time. At least, that is how it works in our family. While dancing is still our favourite, we've been taking it much slower and more relaxed nowadays by doing more of yoga and stretching. Yup, we are working on our splits for now! You think there's a chance we can all split by the end of the year? Haha. Let's see if that dream will come true.

We've never done this before - take our entire Sylvanian collection out from the shelves, set up a scenario and come up with a storyline for the figurines to act out. One night, we decided to have a carnival night for them and it was packed with activities like movie under the stars, enjoying treats from pop up food carts. having picnics, going fishing/ swimming / diving and so on. The big girl initially didn't want to share her beloved collection but after much persuasion and an evening of fun, she said "Let's do this again next time, I enjoyed it!" Awww, thanks so much for sharing, my dear.

I said that art is therapeutic, right? I guess that explains why we took up a new form of art last month and did our first few nagomi art projects. Woohoo! Instead of attending online classes and step-by-step tutorials, they asked me if they could just watch a few instructional clips and then try to create their own. I was all for it because I wanted them to know that they had the freedom and choice to do anything they wanted. Besides, it is always through practice and trial and error that you get to hone your skills, right? We definitely enjoyed making these projects and look forward to doing more art pieces soon.

Oh, who received our masterpieces as gifts? Well, the hubby, of course! We all presented him with our labour of love on his special day as he turned a year older. See, I even made him an octopus amigurumi which took me days to complete, it's quite cute, right?

To celebrate his special day which also marked the end of May, we had a steamboat session at home followed by a cake cutting ceremony - my kids still love to blow out candles, do yours too? Yup, I guess many of us celebrated special days in a special way during this period and even though they might be simple, stay-home celebrations, we might be amazed by all the fond memories we made and the warmth in our hearts we will feel when we reminisce in future.

Last but not least, a tiny, squeaky voice also reminded me to sit down, relax and enjoy what life has to offer instead of always busying myself every minute of the day. Dear Lyra, I held you, patted you and stroked you so much more in the past few weeks and it's incredible how you could just fall asleep on my chest, all cuddled up snugly under my palm. Thank you for letting me know how simple life can be and how joy can be found in the little things all around us. We love you!

Slow down, people, slow down. Breathe deeper, enjoy more, worry less and better appreciate life itself. Till more updates next month!

12 lessons my kids can learn from the pandemic

Posted by ~Summer~ on June 08, 2020
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It's been more than two months since the circuit breaker began.

For the past over 60 days, we have been staying home for as much as possible, we wear masks when we have to be out, we use sanitisers and wash our hands regularly, we meet up with our family and friends virtually through video conferences, we practise social distancing everywhere we go, we take our temperatures, fill up forms and check in and out of every place we visit, we do full home-based learning when schools are closed, we watch the news littered with COVID-19 updates from all over the world and feel our hearts sink a little at times, we tell ourselves to embrace the new normal, we try our best to stay hopeful and positive yet can't deny the apprehension that is lurking somewhere in our hearts.

The kids and I have been talking a lot about the coronavirus and its unprecedented impact on the world and its people. Even though the news might at times feel negative and disheartening, I hope for them to find the silver lining, understand why our lives are changing and know that we, being safe and together as a family, are very blessed. Amidst all the tragic stories and devastating events, I also want them to hear the touching stories and witness how heroes are born, how people learnt to care and how many brave ones have stepped up to make a difference and bring hope to humanity.

Here is a heartfelt letter to my kids which contains 12 important lessons I think they can learn from this global pandemic.

Dear kids,

Life hasn't really been the same for the past couple of months, has it?

Let's see. We couldn't drink bubble tea, couldn't have McDonald's, couldn't go to the playground, the zoo or anywhere to sit and relax, we couldn't go out as a family, we couldn't even go to school for many weeks on end. Yup, you guys had to stay home with me for that long a time but amazingly, we survived better than we thought we would, didn't we?

You had a thousand questions for me during this period, be it regarding your school work or why things had to be the way they were, and still are. As best as I could, I explained the situation to you and the rationale behind it, so have your teachers and the government. While you might be too young to fully understand everything (I didn't even understand much about SARS and I was 20 at that time), I hope that when you look back one day, you will see the bigger picture and realise that this is so much more than not being to visit our favourite places, eat our favourite food or hang out with our favourite people. In fact, there are so many lessons that both you and I can take away from this whole ordeal.

1) Life is unpredictable
We never know what will happen tomorrow. For all the grand plans we dream of and how we hope our paths in life will turn out to be, the truth is we never know what the future brings and everything we hold dear can vanish in an instant. But you know what we do have? We have today. We have now. That is why we need to make the most of it.

2) We are all equal
We have been talking and hearing about racism in the past few days, one that you still don't really understand because your hearts are pure and you don't discriminate. That is a virtue which I hope will stay with you in your lives. The fact is regardless of our social standing, colour, culture or religion, we all stand equal in the face of the virus. It does not distinguish, and so shouldn't we.

3) The best, and worst, things in life are invisible
That are many things in life that we cannot see with our eyes, only felt with our hearts. Some of the best things include joy, health, family bliss and love. These are the things that bring hope, warm our hearts and make life worth living. Yet, some of the worst things in life are invisible too, like the virus, hatred, discrimination and depression. Remember, while some things might be out of our control, there are many other things that are within and we have the power to decide how we feel and how we react.

4) Technology is a double-edged sword
All of us are familiar with Zoom now, aren't we? The thing about technology is that it works both ways - it brings people closer yet drives them further apart. While it's still nice to be able to meet up with our loved ones virtually when we can't be there physically, don't forget that hugs, kisses, holding of hands, talking face-to-face and just being present means so much more. Yup, that means I still hope to see more of you, not just receive your messages and calls, when you are grown up. And yes, the household rule of being device-free at mealtimes will still stand.

5) Attitude is important
At first, we all dreaded the thought of staying home for such a long time, didn't we? It wasn't something we are used to and it's normal to feel anxious, frustrated or even a little scared of the unknown. Then, we focused on creating meaningful activities, making the most of what we had and cherishing the time we had to bond. When you told me "Staying home is so fun because I have my family", I knew you felt what I feel too. Having a positive attitude is very important, my dears, as our mindsets determine everything from the start. As unlikely as it might seem at times, we always have a choice and I hope you choose joy.

6) Appreciate what others do for us
More often than not, we fail to show our appreciation for others because we don't realise just how much goes on behind the scene. This includes the tireless teachers, the principals, the doctors, the nursers, the volunteers, the security guards, the janitors, the delivery workers, the foreign workers, the government and everyone else who is working day and night to keep lives going. Even though we might not be able to contribute much, we can still make small donations, write Thank You cards, give the loudest applause and sing at the top of our voices, and have gratitude in our hearts. Every bit counts.

7) Some things are non-essential
You asked me what are considered essential and non-essential services, to which I wasn't that sure myself either. I suppose this circuit breaker made all of us realise that many things that we thought we needed, are actually things that we can live without. Yes, that includes french fries, ice cream, boba, toys, flowers, stationery and many more tangibles. But you know what we can't live without? Each other. Sure, we still need food, air, water and a home to survive but other than that, in hindsight, we actually don't need all that much, do we?

8) Count our blessings
Instead of lamenting on what we don't have, we need to focus and be thankful for what we do have. I always teach you to learn to be contented in life and count your blessings, right? That is one of the my secrets to staying happy. We just watched the movie "Life is Beautiful", this title happens to be one of my biggest mottoes and has guided me all along since I was a kid like you. See the good in your lives, my little ones, and always have a thankful heart. For now, we are all safe and sound, we feel blessed to be Singaporeans and no matter how slowly it takes for life to get back to normal, at least we are in it together and no one is left behind.

9) Imagination works wonders
I never thought I would say this when I was younger but you know what, staying home and being bored can be a good thing. You taught me that. I see how your imagination conjures the most fun games and takes you to faraway places, I see how your creativity flows when you make something out of nothing, and I see how your minds work in the most incredible ways when you are given the time, freedom and opportunity to do so. As you grow up, don't lose this sense of wonder and curiosity, okay?

10) Don't take things for granted
There were many things we did in the past that we took for granted, such as taking a stroll at the beach, eating at a kopitiam, going for a haircut or having a family picnic in the park. It is only when these simple acts are forbidden that we realise how we had failed to hold them dear. It's not the big things but the little things in life that count at the end of the day. Let's all try to better treasure the simple luxuries and the little moments we have and not wait till they're gone.

11) Everyone can play a part
All of us have a role to play. By staying home, not flouting the rules and encouraging others to do the same, you are playing your part too. I love hearing the three of you sing with pride to "Singapore, Unite as One" - a song written by a Primary 6 schooler named Jacob Neo to encourage our frontliners, patients and fellow Singaporeans - which inspires you in many ways. You are never too young or too small to make a difference, all you gotta do is have faith in yourselves.

12) Cherish our loved ones more
We are lucky that we have not had much experience with grief, other than the time when your great grandmother left us. But one day, we will, for that is just part and parcel of life. It's going to be so hard for you to understand and I can only imagine the devastation it will bring to your hearts, and mine, when the day comes. Well, I guess even the most optimistic person will have morbid thoughts when catastrophe strikes. To look on the bright side, we still have each other to hold onto and that is why we ought to make the most of every day that we are together. You have grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins and friends who love and adore you. Let's make sure we hold them a little tighter and let them know just how much they matter to us, yeah?

Remember, I love you more than you ever know and I am so thankful we could spend so much time together in the past few months. Having all of you with me turned my world upside down yet made it a sweet haven that I would gladly stay in for the rest of my life. For all the mean things I've said or the times I've lost my cool, please know that I love you so much and no matter how the world changes, that will always be the one constant. 


Happiness is... staying home and positive

Posted by ~Summer~ on June 04, 2020
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April 2020 was a special month that all of us would never forget.

It was the beginning of the circuit breaker where we subsequently had to stay at home, eat at home, study at home, work from home, exercise at home, play at home, do everything at home, and basically face each other at home 24/7. Yup, while it all sounded scary and intimidating at the start, I think many of us slowly but surely got used to the notion and perhaps a few of us even felt thankful to have this opportunity to bond with the kids and understand them a little better.

For me, since I have been with the kids at home all along and staying sane throughout the day has always been a challenge, the dreaded part was more of trying to manage all the different HBL schedules and not feeling torn apart by their constant needs, be it to solve a problem sum, handle a technical glitch, join a Zoom meeting or teach them to read a Chinese word for the thousandth time. There was one thing I was super thankful for and that was having the hubby home much more than usual and the kids were so, so happy to be able to spend more time with Papa.

To even be able to stay home as a family and be able to do what we do, that is a huge blessing in itself, isn't it? It's amazing how our mindsets as parents affect the way our kids think and behave, right? I realised that in order for us to make the most of this stay-home period, the key difference laid in having an optimistic outlook and cheerful attitude - and it all had to begin with me. So even though I was physically exhausted and mentally drained on some days (aren't we all?), I did try to start each day with a happy, hopeful heart in the hope that it would 传达正能量 and the kids would feel it too. Only then, would we be able to find the silver lining and make the best out of what we had.

Now that the circuit breaker is ending soon, hearing how the kids would say "Staying home is fun!", "I wish I could stay home more", "I'm not very excited to go back to school", "There are so many things we can do when we are together" makes me feel relieved that, like me, they did cherish and enjoy this rare experience. In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about staying home and staying positive.

These kids definitely turned my world upside down on most days during CB but perhaps, it was never the right side up in the first place to begin with since I became a mum. Haha. I always think having kids helps me to see things from a different perspective and while this trio consistently tests my patience and challenges my beliefs, I am glad that they remind me just how much more I still have to learn in this motherhood journey. A whole lot more.

Here is a quick recap of some of the things we did together in the last month.

-> Photoshoot

We had our family photoshoot on the first weekend of April before we stayed home for the next few weeks. It was likely one of the last times we had a breath of fresh air in a park together and looking back, I wonder if we would do better to cherish such simple luxuries in future? I sure hope so. Going to the beach, dining out together, visiting the zoo, taking a stroll in the park, exploring neighbourhood playgrounds, playing a game of tag, admiring the blooms - these are the little things in our lives that we need to learn to treasure more. Read our review of Bloom Photography and check out more of our photoshoot pictures in my previous post here.

-> Home Based Learning 

I think many of us will better appreciate teachers and schools after seeing how it can be frustrating just to handle the needs of a couple of kids, right? I guess I'm quite lucky in the sense that the elder two are quite independent in terms making sure they do and submit their work on time. So, I only have the youngest one to deal with in the mornings and that means sitting through two hours of online lessons with him every day. However, that is not to say that the girls don't come bombarding me with all kinds of questions from time to time because the fact is they still need my guidance in some subjects and well, we don't have tuition so Mama needs to solve everything. It irks me when they come to me for every little problem they face so I make it a point to tell them to try, try and try - doesn't matter if you fail, fail and fail - before coming to ask me anything. And yup, show me the workings to prove you tried, okay?

We don't have a tablet at home - one of their teachers was surprised to hear so - and at times when their lesson timings overlapped, we had to try to sort it out. Thankfully, I managed to learn how to screen share from phone to TV so including my laptop, we could have two people having different lessons at the same time and that just mean I had to run to and fro whenever needed and obviously, with the devices taken up, I couldn't do much of my work or even scroll through social media too - which might be a good thing, right?

The kids seriously miss their art classes so they were elated when the teachers at heART Studio started online classrooms for each of them so they could continue to learn to draw, shade and colour through the step-by-step tutorials. Thanks so much for all the effort, dear teachers!

-> Art and craft

I honestly miss doing art and craft with the kids and there's always a reason to say why we didn't do it, like no time, no energy, no inspiration and so on, right? Being home 24/7 for such a long period meant that I finally ran out of excuses for myself and found the motivation to do something creative with the kids. Yippee yay!

We painted, did collages, designed masks, made a straw xylophone, designed masks, made paper chromatography bookmarks (learn how to do it in my Creativity 521 post here) and more! One of the most fun projects we did was turning a cereal box into a mailbox so that we could write cards and letters to our family and friends. I eventually did make a trip to the post office so that we really mailed the letters out, yeah? It was also good opportunity for us to spread positivity by letting our friends know that we missed them and that we looked forward to meeting them for play dates soon!

-> Home workouts

Usually, we will always be out running around and exploring Singapore on weekends. During the circuit breaker, although we couldn't really differentiate which day of the week it was since we were home all week long, I still wanted to make sure that we were staying healthy and fit by doing home exercises. Apart from joining the kids in doing their P.E. lessons, we also had our own Tabata, yoga, stretch and relax, and of course, DANCE sessions! Oh, remember how we were seen dancing on national TV at the start of the month? I hope that inspired some of you to get moving and groove to the beat! By the way, I still have many queries coming in from you guys whenever I post our dance videos so in case you are wondering, we don't use any special app or game. All we do is log on to YouTube, type in 'Just Dance' and search for the songs we like. They have some really cool songs and new ones are added regularly. The best part is there are so many different dance genres to choose from and the dance steps are usually not too hard to follow so the whole family can have fun together. Try it out and see if you like it too!

-> Cooking

I cooked so much less in April because whenever he was home, the chef hubby would take over the kitchen and whip up a storm! Even if he didn't, he would still go out to tabao food for us so I could continue to take a much needed break, yay! The big girl commented one day "I didn't know Papa can cook so well!" and I went "Well, he cooks better than Mama and I wish he could cook for us every day lor." That is the truth because I can't cook half as well nor have the creativity to think of new ways to cook like he does from time to time. Check out some of the dishes he did, like the crab bee hoon soup (made from fresh, alive crabs), hokkien mee and claypot chicken rice. Yummy!

That is not to say that I didn't cook at all because there were still days when he was not around and I had to reluctantly step into the kitchen again. Haha. The good thing is these kids are usually quite appreciative of the homecooked food they get, no matter how simple they may be. I love seeing how they gobble up my very un-fanciful dishes like steamed egg, stir fried vege and sesame oil chicken and their big smiles give me motivation to keep doing what I do.

I still like to keep them involved when it comes to meals so we did wraps, made pizzas, tried doing an Oreo cheesecake for my birthday, made our own mee hoon kueh using cutting moulds and so on. I was surprised to hear how a few of you were then inspired to make your own one-of-a-kind mee hoon kueh after seeing ours so that really brightened up my day.

Oh, we also decorated Easter cookies which delighted the kids and we made our own popsicles too. Guess what flavours? We had Yakult, Milo and Ayataka Green Tea popsicles! Yum!

-> Singing

My kids love to sing and that is something I am thankful for because I love it too. The three of them will always ask us to turn off the radio in the car so that they can sing their songs when we go out and now that we are home, we still sing when we do the laundry, when we watch music videos, when we dance and whenever we feel bored. Haha. Talking about music videos, I've been introducing some of my favourite singers (like GEM, JJ Lin, Jay Chou and Stefanie Sun) and their songs to them so that we can go and sing together at karaoke next time. To celebrate Navy Day this year, the girls also did a special song-and-dance with Papa. Go here to watch in full.

-> Virtual meetings

We might not be able to see our friends in person but we can still see them online, right? It's a different way to keep in touch but at least we can still do so! Besides writing lessons, we also joined in Zoom gatherings to celebrate our friends' birthdays, had video calls with the grandparents, cousins and friends and even did an online drawing game with some friends which turned out to be really enjoyable and fun.

-> Skits

One of the most fun and creative things the kids did was coming up with their own original skits! One night, they just announced that they had a performance for me and asked me to sit down to watch. It was only a couple of minutes long and the story was about them being warriors who were fighting the bad guys. Subsequently, they also did skits about bullying, zoo, playgrounds and any theme they could think of. I joined in from time to time because it was just so fun and they were always elated to have Mama pitch in ideas too. If you are keen to watch our performances, go to my IG highlights and click under 'skits'. I think you might just have a good laugh!

Oh, they also made tickets for the hubby and I and we had to present these before we could enter and watch the performance. How cute, right? There's even a barcode for you to scan, haha.

-> Music

I think this circuit breaker has given many of us more opportunities to pursue our hobbies and rekindle our passion, be it in the form of baking, doing art, picking up a new language, learning music, starting an exercise regime and so on. For us, we started learning more songs on the piano and other than playing a few pop songs that we love, the girls and I are now learning more about beats, chords and rhythms through online tutorials. Yup, I've said this before but I am really thankful to see that while they both refuse to attend formal lessons, they seem to be enjoying learning at a leisurely pace in the comfort of our own home and that's good enough for me. In fact, it makes me eager and motivated to learn and play with them too and in a sense, they are helping me to pursue my childhood dreams and remind me that everything is possible in life as long as I don't give up.

-> Running

Amazingly, after the photoshoot, I went out less than a couple of times and that was for a quick grocery run and a slow jog in the park. Other than that, the hubby was the one who went out regularly to get our household necessities and join the long queue in the supermarket. He was also the one who would ask the kids to take turns to follow him out for a short run in the neighbourhood. Yup, it's good having a sporty Papa at home. Truth be told, unlike him, I don't enjoy running so much and would much prefer to sweat it out in the form of dancing or yoga. I guess we all have our own preferences in life, right? That said, I can't wait to bring the kids to the beach or go explore the nature reserves again soon!

-> Games

We've been playing lots of board games and card games at home, have you? It's good that we have a stash of them, most of which we've only played a couple of times. The kids enjoy playing Monopoly, Uno, Spot It, Jenga, Noisy Neighbours and many more! At times, they also like to make up their own games and it's fun to see where their imagination takes them. One of our most loved games was this Lego maze run that we did where we would compete to see who could finish it in the shortest time. The fun part was in designing our own maze and adding in things like bridges, tunnels and obstacles for the ball to jump over. Try it and see if you like it too!

-> Magic

This was something that totally thrilled and delighted the girls - Magic class! Thanks to Acel Academy of Magic, they attended the Orange Wand course which consisted of a total of 8 lessons. In each lesson, they learnt a different trick using a different prop (which were all sent to our mailbox). Besides learning an important value every time, they also built up their self confidence as they had to perform in front of their teacher Nigel and their classmates. My girls are really shy when it comes to public speaking so this gave them a great opportunity to practise and improve. They were always so enthusiastic to show their tricks to the family, especially the cute and gullible little brother, and it was nice seeing how they enjoyed the whole experience. Check out our video which showcases all the tricks they learnt!

-> Water Play

My kids really miss being able to swim but to cheer them up, we turned our balcony into a mini water play area complete with a slide, a tent, a baby bathtub, as well as buckets and recycled bottles. They came up with their own ideas to play including turning the slide into a water slide by having two people pouring water from the side while the third goes on it, setting up a refill station so they could take turns to refill the empty bottles and having fishing game by using a net to pick out mini animal figurines. It was a good way to keep them happy for a couple of hours and the best part was they were helping to clean the balcony too. Yay!

-> Celebrations

Last but not least, we also had a couple of milestones in April, such as me turning 37 and the hubby and I celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary.  Staying home doesn't mean we don't get to feel special or have a fabulous day because in the first place, it was always about spending that special day with our loved ones. Although the hubby was not around on my birthday, we had a pre-celebration before that and the kids made me feel extra loved on the actual day too.

As for our wedding anniversary, this was definitely a year to remember and it was the first time the kids did so much for us - including beautiful handmade cards, cute gifts of love and a hearty breakfast. I was touched when the girls told me they had been planning this for months since the start of the year and wanted to tell them that they were our best presents. Awwww. One day when you read this, my dears, please know that I appreciate all your efforts more than I could say. Thank you!

So that marked the end of our stay-home April and I can't say that it was uneventful because we still did quite a lot of activities and in fact, spent so much more time as a family, right?

Remember, a positive mindset makes all the difference and we always have the option of choosing joy. Hope everyone survived the CB just as well too, if not better. Till more updates for the month of May soon!

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