Thirty five

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 13, 2018
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I like to think that birthdays are special and you are entitled to feel a little more special on this day than the other days of the year. After all, this is the day you arrived in this world, the day you were first cradled in the arms of your loved ones, the day your entire life began - and that has to mean a little something inside your heart.

Yup, I don't subscribe to the belief that every day can be Valentine's Day or that a birthday is but just a birthday. Be it anniversaries, birthdays or special occasions, they mean something extra to me and no, they ain't just any other day. That doesn't mean I need my loved ones to lavish me with gifts and concern or that I need to do something big on these special days, but it does mean that I feel a tad more unique, a little more celebrated, and most importantly, I feel thankful when I look at what I have and start pondering about my life.

So, I turned 35 over the weekend. That kind of sounds like half of my life has already flown past and it does make me reminisce, make me a little sentimental and make me start to wonder what I'm doing right, or wrong, with my life.

There seems to be so many things I've achieved yet so much more I've yet to accomplish. Being a mum to three lovelies, having received a master degree and being able to survive as a stay-at-home mum for over eight years, I think these can be considered as my best achievements in life. Yet, there is so much more I wish to do with the rest of my life. I want to write my own children's book, I want to do up more videos, I want to learn new cooking recipes, I want to start an exercise regime and rid those love handles, I want to travel more with the kids, I want to teach them everything I know, I want to see them grow up (even though it freaks me out when I realise how fast time passes) bit by bit, I want to finish reading all the novels that I said I would (I don't even have the time or strength to flip a page these days), I want to go on couple dates with the hubby and perhaps even take a couple vacation one day.

Having aspirations doesn't mean that you are not contented with what you have at the moment. It gives you something to hope for, something to look forward to, and motivates you to keep going strong. On the contrary, I'm very happy with my life now and I wouldn't trade what I have for anything in the world. A cosy home to call our own, a comfortable lifestyle, a closely-knitted family and kids who see me as the best mum in the world, no matter all the wrongs I've done.

We were invited by Shangri-La Hotel to check out their newly opened Buds play space and the hubby suggested that the staycation should fall on my birthday weekend. (Stay tuned for my review and giveaway next week, okay?) A part of me rejoiced and thought it sounded like a great idea while another part of me thought "Gosh, that means I gotta work through the weekend, stay active online and go around taking tonnes of pictures and videos instead of being able to chill and relax." Yup, it takes a blogger to understand that second part but anyway, I chose to go ahead with the idea since a family get together would be the perfect way to spend that special day.

It ended up that the hubby almost couldn't make it due to his demanding work and I was all set to bring the kids on my own to celebrate the weekend. Luckily, his schedule was amended last minute and two days before, he told me that he would be able to join us after all. Fwah! Phew! Heng heng ah!

Despite the occasional whines and tantrums from the kids, the moments when the hubby and I didn't see eye to eye, or the fact that I was constantly logged onto social media or trying to take pictures of every nook and cranny, we had a fun time after all and seeing those huge smiles on the kiddos was what made me beam with joy. Yup, for good or bad, my happiness is very much dependent on their well-being and they usually go hand in hand.

I've reached the stage where I get well wishes from friends on Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and PMs - but less than a couple will make the effort to meet up, celebrate or send a gift. That essentially means I usually spend my birthday with the family, which includes my parents, and I don't look forward to receiving much gifts except those from them too.

This year, my mum treated me to a steamboat dinner at J Pot, my dad gave me an ang pow, my in-laws gave bird's nest and a thoughtful friend sent over a cake and cookies. I was also presented with a couple of surprise gifts from the hubby and the kids, one of which was a green house complete with seeds that I look forward to setting up with the kids, and the other was a Yoga set with instructional DVDs. Lol, yes, even the hubby thinks I ought to keep fit and lose some weight.

But you know what I always love most of all on every of my birthday? Without a shadow of a doubt, I most look forward to receiving the handmade cards from the kiddos.

It wasn't that much of a surprise this year because the girls needed my help in getting materials, laminating their drawings and helping them do a simple pop-up. Plus, I did Asher's card with him and guided his hand in drawing the faces and writing the words, so it felt like I was kind of doing it for myself. Haha. Nonetheless, it was awesome to see the pictures of a happy family of five in all the cards. Very consistent! I also love seeing the heartfelt message from the big girl and know that she feels thankful and lucky to have me as her Mama, just like how I think I'm the luckiest person in the world to have them too.

These cards will be kept with me for as long as I live, and I know I will love to take them out from time to time during my twilight years and think about the good old days. The days when I struggle to keep it together and not crumble, the days when I hardly have time to breath or go to the loo, the days when I make a big mess in the kitchen yet the kids think I just made the most delicious dinner, the days when I get stares from passers-by because I have a bunch of noisy kids with me on the MRT or bus, the days that I am able to thrive on minimal sleep not because I don't want to rest but because I can't, the days when I'm the most needed person in the lives of at least three people, the days when I hear the kids yelling for "Mama!" a thousand times, the days when I have to multi-task every minute because 24 hours a day is simply insufficient, the days that seem so crazy and chaotic yet they make my happiest memories in life, the days that I hope don't pass me by too quickly because I earnestly wish to savour every bit of my children's growing up.

These are truly some of the best years in my life and I'm so deeply thankful to be where I'm at. Happy 35th birthday to me.

Happiness is... feeling like a child again

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 05, 2018
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It's kind of ironic that while parenting drains most of my energy and makes me feel jaded at times, it is also the very thing that rejuvenates me and has the power to make me feel young all over again. After all, I have to read lift-the-flap storybooks, sing nursery rhymes, go on merry-go-rounds and do silly antics every so often.

Well, that's just a superficial way of saying it, I guess. In truth, it goes way deeper than that and it seems like being a mum brings about this plethora of experiences and makes me feel more emotions than I knew I had. Thankfully, most of them are positive ones and like I've said so many times before, having kids is still undeniably the best thing that happened to me.

In March's "Happiness is...", it's all about how motherhood makes me feel like a child all over again.

The March school holidays came and went in flash. I was really looking forward to it as school holidays mean we get to sleep in and wake up late, have breakfast together, go explore new places of interest and basically just spend every moment of our day together as mum and kids.

I had booked our tickets to Disney on Ice over a month ago and even though it was for the cheapest category ($25 per ticket), which by the way doesn't really matter to the kids because they were happy as long as they had the chance to go, all of us were very thrilled when the day arrived!

We don't have much costumes at home but at least we did manage to dress up the big girl as Elsa, the little one as Little Mermaid and the boy as Officer Hopps. Lol. Yup, simple but so much fun to dress up together and head out to the streets. We took the train all the way to Stadium and I must say a part of me was indeed very much looking forward to this mum-and-kids date night. It turned out to be such a blast and although the toddler did fidget aplenty and sat on my lap the whole time, the good thing was they were generally well-behaved that night (phew!) and all of us enjoyed the show pretty much.

During the holidays, I also planned a day out with my parents and the kids and took the whole gang out to Universal Studios Singapore! It's been seven long years since I last took my parents here and I still remembered how my mum was the one who was most enthusiastic about taking the Battlestar Galatica Cylon ride and she and my Dad took the first row seats. Yup, guess I don't have to wonder why my girls are so bold and fearless when it comes to rides!

I was so happy that my parents got the chance to try out the Transformers ride, Puss in Boots, Enchanted Airways, Sesame Space Chaser, Canopy Flyer, Jurassic Rapids and many more. We also took the front row 'SOAK ZONE' seats at Water World, much to my parents' horror, haha, but all of us did it and got drenched together. That's the whole fun of it, right? Thanks for being so spontaneous, Papa and Mama!

Spending time in theme parks with the kids always makes me feel like young again because not only do I get to go on kiddy carousels, flying dinosaurs and boat rides, I also get the chance to relish the thrill of going on roller coasters. This time, for the first time ever, the big girl and I went on The Mummy Ride, Battlestar Galatica Cylon and Batterstar Galatica Human. ALL on first row seats. Yup, my little daredevil has no fear of roller coasters though she is scared of the dark. It was such an awesome experience spending some much needed one-on-one time with her and I'm glad we screamed our hearts out together!

KTV used to be a much loved hobby of mine and although it still is, my friends and I definitely have much less opportunities to do so now. I'm glad I found time to do so with one of my best friends... and all our kids! Haha yes, our kids love to sing too and I guess that's a good thing. They also don't sing nursery rhymes but instead sing Mandarin and English pop songs so we blend well and the adults are usually kept very entertained too. Did you know that Teo Heng lets you da bao food and drinks into the rooms and their rates per room are really very cheap? Yup, glad this has not changed since my secondary school days. Cheers to more kid-friendly karaoke sessions!

I don't remember exploring much nature reserves or spending time at the beach with my family when I was a kid. So, it's really a welcome change now that my kids love, love, love nature and my hubby is one who teaches them how to fish, how to spot insects and bugs and lets them get all sandy and dirty at the beach too. I love being outdoors with the kids even though I don't really like the scorching midday sun, and it's always a fun-filled experience filled with precious family memories to last us for a long time.

We visit the library now and then and bedtimes story is a must in our household. I love the feeling of reading to the kids or hearing them read out loud, and it's nice that I'm learning lots about fairytales and famous children's books as we go along. It's a luxury to be able to read so much and I think they are helping me to make up for what I didn't have as a child. Still, I'm hoping that I can slowly but surely find some time to read some adult picks and make reading a habit for myself too.

One of Asher's favourite activities recently is pretending to be the doctor and it's really amusing seeing how the kids act out different scenarios. When the Jiejies are not home, he comes to me and pretends to be the patient and asks me to diagnose him. Yup, we spend a good portion of our free time doing this and it's funny how he still loves it every single time. Playing pretend, doesn't that make you feel like a child once again too?

We have been travelling on public transport quite often in the last month and it's good that the kids have gotten quite used to it. You know, they don't get to play on phones or electronic gadgets so when we are on the go, they have to come up with their own games, chit chat, sing or do their own activities which usually included one another. We've been playing games like 205, ABC, Scissors Paper Stone, 青苹果, and more. The girls have even taught their friends in school how to play these games and everyone was so excited to learn, haha. Definitely lots of childhood memories there!

Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street...

My kids don't really know Big Bird, Elmo or Ernie but I remember that I used to watch plenty of Sesame Street when I was a child. So, it was a nice opportunity for me to let them get acquainted with these characters at the Sesame Street carnival in Changi Airport. My hubby was so surprised that I could spend the entire day in the airport with the kids, a total of over 8 hours!

Water play always delight the kids so I made sure we had a few swims and water play sessions in the month of March. I love that it doesn't take more than a bucket, a net and some recycled bottles to keep them happy and occupied for a few hours and helps them to understand that the happiest moments in life are sometimes the most simple ones.

I loved arcade games as a kid and I still do very much, do you too? So, it's always nice to hang out at arcades with the kiddos and find the chance to sneak off to play some of my favourite games. Haha. We went for a couple of sessions and I must say my favourite arcade is the one in Suntec City - Cow Play Cow Moo, because it lets you play with tokens, not cards, and dispenses hard copy tickets, not simply load them onto your card. Plus, they have so many different games that you are usually spoilt for choice. You can get 125 tokens for $20 (cost per game ranges from 1 token up to 14 tokens) but be warned that the whole pile of tokens can disappear in the blink of an eye.

I've been volunteering my services at the big girl's primary school (not because I need to get her in because she is in already, but purely because I want to) and it's been keeping me pretty occupied because I'm now in charge of a couple of projects. To source for inspiration and hunt for resources, I made a trip to IKEA with the two little ones in tow.

I didn't put any of them in Smaland but instead, we explored every corner and tested out the furniture together. Yup, basically they see IKEA as this giant playground and can find endless things to play with. We can never resist the temptation of the $0.50 cents soft serve and I love the feeling of eating ice cream together with my little ice cream lovers.

We've been very selective about the media events that we attend recently and Art-Zoo was one that I thought we couldn't miss. The kids had so much fun bouncing around on the larger-than-life inflatables and I think they wished they never had to leave. Haha. Well, I'm happy that bouncing around is something that I can join in together with them and that evening of non-stop jumping worked magic by making me feel like a little kid with no worries in the world.

Last but not least, we visited LEGOLAND Malaysia over the long Easter weekend and even though it took us over six hours to travel across the causeway (yes, you read right), the kids had such a blast as usual and this remains as one of their favourite holiday destinations. I was stoked that I got to go on a handful of rides with just the girls only (yes, girl power!) and this Aqua Racer - where we raced down the tunnels and slides superman style - was one of our ultimate favourites! I screamed in joy and thoroughly enjoyed that adrenaline rush while knowing that my princesses were beside me enjoying themselves to the max too.

It was also the first time we tried out the Virtual Reality Roller Coaster ride in the theme park and we did it not once, not twice but five times in total! Yup, five! It was a great milestone for Ariel who barely met the minimum height of 110cm (she wouldn't have, if she didn't try to tiptoe) and she was euphoric that she finally got to sit on this ride which was previously Project X.

Talking about milestone, the boy had his too when he went on Beetle Bounce with us for the first time. He was bawling at the start and insisted on sitting on my lap but once we went higher and higher and began to bounce, he couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear too. Awww. this boy just needs plenty of love, assurance and tender loving care from Mama before he dares to try anything new. I'm so glad you did it eventually and enjoyed it, my dear!


You know, being a mum also makes me feel like a child in the sense that I'm learning every step of the way. I learn to control my temper, I learn to have more patience, I learn what works and what doesn't, I make mistakes, fall and pick myself up, I try to become better and wiser over time. It's definitely not easy and some days will just be harder than the rest, but every bit of effort will be well worth its while.

Yup, emo mama getting emo again. In a few days' time, I'll be turning 35 so let's see if I am able to pen out my thoughts then. Till the next "Happiness is..." post!

A heartfelt letter to my firstborn - I'm sorry

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 20, 2018
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To my dearest firstborn,

You are turning nine end of this year and I realised, to my shock and even a little horror, that it will be your last single digit year before you move on and become a tween. I can never understand why the days are long but the years are so fleetingly short, especially when it comes to a mum watching her kids grow up. Too short, if you were to ask me.

I still vividly remember how I felt when you first arrived in this world. You were my first baby, my precious one, my bundle of joy, my gem, my everything - and you were the one who made me a mum. Daddy and I were so looking forward to your arrival, we were so glad that you were born safe and healthy in a home away from home, and you had the sweetest face, cutest fingers and most beautiful smile I had ever seen. I felt over the moon when I cradled you for the first time, thinking how perfectly you fit in my arms and on my chest.

Now, you have grown so tall that you are at my shoulders, you weigh nearly half of me and I can't quite carry you up for more than a minute. Okay, maybe not even for half of it. The good thing is you still love to cuddle, hug and kiss me and you refuse to go to bed every night without doing so. I enjoy all your affection and I am so afraid that as time passes us by, one day you will just stop wanting to be so close to Mama.

It hasn't been a good day for us today. Or in fact, it has been a really trying period for us, hasn't it? We've both lost our cool, flared up, screamed, shouted, stormed off, fought, argued, and do things that we know we will end up regretting. Tonight, I am feeling like one of the worst mums in the world and I wonder what is it that I've done wrong, how things ended up this way, how I can teach you more effectively, how I can nurture you into the good and kind person I hope you'll be, how I can just be a better mum to you. It's easy for me to just blame it on life, on having to juggle three kids on my own, on today being the stressful start of another solo parenting week with Daddy away. But deep down, I know I only have myself to blame - for not being as patient, as loving, as sensitive, as wise as I wish I could be. 

It's easy how our hearts pour out when we weep, or maybe it's because I'm really just an overly sentimental mum. As I type this, my feelings and emotions are all over the place and even though I can't quite pinpoint if it is a good or bad thing, I think it's important for me to feel all of it. To let in all the hurt, the joy, the sorrow, the disappointment, the regret, the fear, the agony, the elation, the anxiety, and then tell myself to concentrate on the one most important thing - the hope. The hope for a better tomorrow, a better future, a better me.

I just want you to know how sorry I am for many things, even though I might not know how to say it to you in person at all times, I still feel all of it so strongly, my dear.

I'm sorry that..... your siblings took me away from you. Even if they didn't take all of me, the truth if you had to share me the moment you were not the only child. It's especially tough on you when your sister still needs me for many things and your toddler brother is so sticky, clingy and demands for Mama nearly all the time. 

I'm sorry that..... you are always asked to give in. I know it's not fair to you at times and your siblings are be rather unreasonable, loud and fierce. You've always been the one with the softest voice amongst the three and sometimes, they just 'eat' you up and bully you. People are always telling you to give in 'just because you are the oldest' and more often than not, it's unfair to you.

I'm sorry that..... you have to be my best helper and look after your sister and brother, especially when I'm busy with the chores. It's tough that I have such high expectations of you and I'm always asking you to step up to the plate. Even when you try your utmost, I still don't give you enough credit at times, thinking that you are just doing what you ought to do as the big sister.

I'm sorry that..... I don't have much time to go through your school work with you. Maybe that's also why you have grown to be quite independent and responsible when it comes to academics, but I still wish I had more time to teach you, to do crafts with you, to have one-on-one reading time with you, to learn more about science with you because you love the subject so much. Instead, I'm bogged down by the daily chores, by your siblings' needs, by the demands of everyday life that I feel like 24 hours a day is inadequate for me to spend as much time with you as I would like to.

I'm sorry that..... you seldom get to be next to me. Be it in the food court, on the train, in the bus or even as we are walking, your sister and brother always want to be beside me, they push you away at times and you end up walking beside one of them. Yes, that's the thing about having two hands but three kids. Sometimes, my hands are so tied that you end up being the one to push the stroller with all our barang barang, and even though I'm proud of you for doing so because I don't know what I would do without you, a part of me aches because I know how much you want to be with me.

I'm sorry that..... you are not the baby of the family anymore. You are the eldest of the three and people always throw you questions like "Do you take care of Didi and Meimei?", "Do you help your Mama?", "Are you a good big sister?" that even I feel it - that extra burden and sense of responsibility that you bear as an eight-year-old. Sometimes, you come up and ask me for a cuddle just because you want to be close to me, you want me to call you by the nickname I used when you were young instead of calling you "Jiejie", and you even say you just want to be my baby always - and my heart aches again. You are, my dear, you are and will forever be.

I'm sorry that..... we don't have much one-on-one dates. In fact, we've never gone on one. Going for the roller coasters with you, and you only, at USS while your grandparents kept an eye on the younger ones was the closest we got to spending a date together. It's something I tell myself to work harder on because I need to spend more quality time with you, I want to get to know you better, I want to hear your stories without interruption from your siblings, I want to be able to pour my heart out to you and you to me. This mother-daughter bond that we have, I know it's strong and lasting in my heart yet it feels so fragile on the bad days that I tell myself I have to strive harder to be your mum, your friend, your confidant.

I'm sorry that..... you have to be wise beyond your years. Having to help out in the home, having to keep an eye out for your siblings, having to help me out every time I holler, having to manage your own responsibilities, having to multi-task like an adult, having to be sensible and mature, having to behave and be a good role model, having to learn and to lead at the same time, it's no wonder you have been forced to grow up at an accelerated pace ever since you became a big sister. It's hard and it's tough on you, I know, my dear. I know.

I'm sorry that..... I raise my voice or punish you so easily. It's so hard trying to be a good mum and when all of you take turns to act up and drive me up the wall, I lose my temper and become the kind of mum I dread to be. Fierce, overpowering, dominant, and just uncool. There's so much for me to learn in this motherhood journey and every day presents a new lesson for me. Just like how I hope I can be more patient with you, you need to be patient with Mama too, okay? We'll learn and be better together, hand in hand, heart to heart.

For all the things I'm sorry about, having the three of you will never be one of it. Never ever. You are the best things that have ever happened to me in my life, and nothing in the world will change this fact. For all the mean things I've said to you in a moment of anger, please don't ever doubt that you are my pride, my joy and my greatest treasure. For all the wrongs I did, thanks for making me still feel somewhat 'right' because you always say I'm the best Mum in the world. Yup, you are likely the only one who will think so, but it's okay because you are enough.

After all these years, your ambition is still to become a mum and the fact that you never wavered from it (yet) is a strong motivation for me to go on. You have no idea how much strength you give me and how much I want to be better because of you, my dear.

No matter what happens, I hope you'll never forget just how much I love you. And that you'll always be my baby. Always.

With endless love,

I am ME

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 08, 2018
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When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I'm gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I'm meant to be, this is me
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Today, I celebrate ME.

I might not be a powerful woman with a long list of achievements, I am not a political figure who serves the country, I can't make history or help to achieve gender equality around the world, I am not a leader whom people can look up to, and I do not have huge aspirations to make the world a better place for everyone.

On the contrary, I am just an ordinary woman, a mum of three, a daughter, a wife and a friend. I strive to make ends meet, I live from day to day, I work hard from morning to night every single day yet I sometimes go to bed feeling like I've achieved nothing at all.

I've never felt that I'm better than anyone or that I can hold it all together more than anyone. The truth is I am trying and I can only keep trying. Try to learn lessons from yesterday, try to make the best of today, and try to make tomorrow a future worth looking forward to. If there's a good time that I should make a list of my own personal achievements and make me feel good about myself, I think today is the day.

Well, it's International Women's Day after all, and I think it is important for us to feel empowered, feel strong, and feel proud. For the first time ever on the blog, here's a letter to myself.

Dear Summer,

I see your laughter, I see your tears. I feel your joy, I feel your exhaustion. I sense your exasperation, I sense your hope. For all that others might say, I know it isn't easy to be a SAHM of three doing what you do but you do it anyway without complaint and most importantly, without regrets.

People always ask you why you chose this path in life and friends say it's not something they expected out of you. They thought that you would be the one who made it big and have a successful career to boast about now that you are in your mid-thirties. They don't see family life the way you do nor understand why you would want to be a SAHM and 'suffer' all day. Boy, they are so wrong, aren't they? You've given up on trying to make them see it from your perspective because most of them can't and you jolly well know that everyone is entitled to his/her own preferences and desires in life. Never have you wavered when it comes to yours and you've always, and will always, believe that you are living your dream.

It's hard to always keep your cup half full and see life as positive and beautiful, especially on days when you almost lose your sanity and turn into a screaming monster that you don't even recognise. It's easy to give in to despair, to slam the door and walk away, to give up and lose the fight. But you, you don't throw in the towel even when you are barely standing because you know your kids are worth fighting for with every inch of your might.

I see your messy house almost every day and it's hard trying to maintain it without a helper or part-time cleaner. I see you learning to keep one eye closed because there are far more important things for you to handle other than keeping a clean house. I see you trying to train your kids to help out and while others might label it as child labour, you know that it's only the start of the journey towards helping your kids to become independent and responsible individuals.

Even though you can't cook well and are lazy to learn new recipes,  I see you trying your best to whip up simple homecooked meals for the kids. Your hands are rough from all the washing but you see it as an act of love. On days when you don't manage to cook, you bring the kids out to food courts and kopitiams and though it's funny how you always attract stares when it's 1A3C at your table, you've learnt to make it work, to multi task and in fact, to enjoy a meal out together with your kids.

No matter how much your kids might bicker from time to time or how they break your heart, the truth is they are loving and obedient most of the time and you know in your heart that you have done your best to nurture them all these years. Yes, there are many more years to come but you are glad that you will be the one right beside them to guide them every step of the way. It's also a learning journey for you as a mum and you have challenges and obstacles to overcome every so often. No one ever said this was going to be easy, right? And you, you've never been the one to seek the easy way out in your life.

You are one of those mums who never ever depend on parents for help, not your in-laws nor even your own dad and mum. The hubby thinks you can be as stubborn as a mule on some days but that is just the way you are when it comes to your kids. Well, being headstrong is probably what made you able to give birth thrice without epidural because deep down, you believe that if you set your heart to it, there's nothing you can't achieve. The parents don't come over to your house unless you invite them over for meals, they have never bathed or changed diapers for your kids and you have tried to do everything on your own, together with the hubby, ever since the first time you gave birth in a home away from home. 

Remember how you brought Angel for her check up within a week of giving birth? You dressed your newborn in layers and layers of clothes, and pushed the bulky stroller all the way through the snow to make it to the only clinic in your town when you were still healing from your wounds. When Asher came out, you brought him out the very next day after you got discharged to help celebrate Ariel's birthday in school. Confinement? For good or for bad, you were never confined. Yes, you do have weird priorities at times that others might never comprehend but it's you and you are the one in charge of your life.

It's not really nice to keep talking about how much you have to solo parent the kids, but even if you do from time to time, you earned the right to. Most people don't know how much difference it makes, having a hubby who comes home on time after work and is around during the weekends vs having a hubby who has a volatile schedule, usually works past midnight and is often away at sea. You love how hands-on your hubby is and yes, he is a wonderful dad and a terrific spouse. But him being away so often, it is an extra burden for you to bear but you know how important it is to stay supportive and hold the fort at home so he can go to work with a peace of mind. You know it's not easy being him, and the good thing is he knows it's not easy being you too.

You keep this blog going despite wanting to give up at times as it takes up too much of your time. You love to write and you love hearing stories from your readers. I see you typing away sometimes with your eyes half closed, I see you sacrificing countless hours of sleep and rest, I see you always asking to host giveaways so your readers can benefit, I see you slogging at doing growing up videos of the kids, and I feel you. I feel your passion, your willpower and your love. I know this blog is what you want to do not for others, but for yourself.

If there is anything I want to tell you, it's that you never have to be afraid of what others think of you. Your kids look up to you and they always say you are the best mum in the world, to which you laugh it off and say you are not. But to them, you are, and that is the only one thing that should matter to you in your motherhood journey. Your hubby might not see eye to eye with you from time to time, especially when it comes to raising the kids, but he applauds you for all you have done deep in his heart and you know how thankful he feels, and so should you.

Like what you've said before, being a SAHM is a privilege, not a sacrifice. You know how lucky you are so never forget to count your blessings each day. Have faith in your decisions, persevere when the going gets tough and enjoy the life journey you've chosen. Never let anyone or anything change your outlook in life or stop you from being you.

You have the right to be who you want to be in your life. You only have one, or in fact, half of it left, so do what you want, don't look back, be who you wanna be, and continue to make each day a happy one. For you are A Happy Mum, and I hope you will always be.



This post is part of the "A SAHM's Story" series where I share my experiences, tips and reflections of being a stay-at-home mum. It takes a SAHM to truly understand another and while many might assume that we are tai tais or that we get to shake legs all day long, only we know the amount of toil and sweat we put in just to get past each day. Likewise, only we know the true rewards and unparalleled joy that this job has brought us. Being a mum, and one who gets to witness all her children's milestones and spend precious time with them every day, is still the best thing that has ever happened to me. While I gave my kids life, they gave me a reason to live.

Reflections of a SAHM
Is motherhood all rainbows and butterflies?
Why you should never call me a Tai Tai 
"What's a stay-at-home mum worth?" on Talking Point 
A year older as a SAHM 
10 things I've learnt from my kids 
Not a sacrifice, but a privilege 
The story of the missing dryer 
I am ME

Tips from a SAHM
8 ways to be a happy SAHM
12 rules for a happy marriage
How to be a SAHM and not feel like a bum
15 tips to dining out with young kids
12 tips to travelling on public transport with young children 
When sorry seems to be the hardest word 

Life as a SAHM
Through the eyes of my child
Knowing that I am rich
Getting used to the chaos
Remembering I'm still me 
15 signs that you're a mum of 3

Happiness is... making time to connect

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 02, 2018

There are some days in motherhood that I feel like I've done a million things, yet when I go to bed at night, I feel like I've done nothing at all. You know what I mean? I might have done a whole load of chores, run many errands and did all the things that I need to do, but have I done anything that I want to do?

It's not easy having to juggle the needs of three kids in different phases of their lives on top of having to take care of a home. The littlest is in a very needy, clingy phase and he still demands for my milk every few hours. The middle one is in Kindergarten 2 this year and is trying hard to cope with the new syllabus and weekly spellings. The big girl is in Primary 3 and I must say her workload is much increased as compared to previously, and it seems like there is a good deal of homework to complete every day. Will we be bogged down by homework, tests, exams and lots of studying from now on? I seriously don't think life is easy for a primary schooler but at least the good thing is she loves going to school. Phew.

Nonetheless, I've realised that while I've taken care of their needs, making sure they have food to eat, their homework is done, their uniforms are ironed, they get to go for their enrichment classes, they go to school on time, they get to watch movies, they have toys to play with and so on, it seemed to me that I was just getting by the days without making them really count at times. It didn't help that solo parenting made me so tired on some days that all I wanted to do was get past each day, survive with the kids, get the chores done and make it through to another sunrise. No matter how some of you might think I am a super mum, the truth is I am not as super as I hope I can be and I do get tired, I do flare up, I do lose my cool and I do things that I'm not proud of too.

In February's "Happiness is...", it's about reminding myself that no matter how busy life gets, I need to make time to connect. I need to connect with family and friends, I need to let the kids connect with nature, play and outdoor fun, I need to connect with the hubby and I need to let the kids connect with me as a mum too. That is what I want to do.

I LOVE visiting Chinatown, especially during the Chinese New Year period. Yup, crazy right, considering how I always have three kids in tow and the crowd is horrendous. For the past two years, I've brought the kids here myself because I just really want them to feel the festive mood and get in touch with our culture and heritage. Yes, we need to stay connected to our roots too!

This year, I was so relieved and delighted that the hubby had the chance to come with us. We came on a weekend afternoon and surprisingly, it wasn't as packed as I imagined and we had such a good time shopping for CNY goodies, sampling treats (I lost count of how many jellies they ate), listening to CNY songs, admiring the lanterns and decorations and taking a photo with this super cute doggie family of five.

No matter how busy our schedule gets, we never missed a lesson of their art classes because the girls enjoy them tremendously. Yup, it's been a good five years since I've started coming to heART Studio weekly and even though I always have to entertain the toddler for over an hour while waiting for his sisters to finish their lessons, I am glad that the kids are still connected to this passion of theirs and we are constantly exposing them to the arts, to something outside of worksheets, textbooks and quizzes. I love this shophouse painting done by Angel, which was partly inspired from our recent outing to Chinatown.

Attending birthday parties is one of the ways I get to stay connected with my long time friends. It's amazing how we don't get to see each other often yet that feeling of having known each other for nearly half a lifetime doesn't ever change. Some of my jie meis are giving birth this year so I'm looking forward to more baby showers where I can get to meet up with friends and hold cute, chubby babies too! Here we were at the airport after attending our friend's daughter's first year party. We spent the early afternoon connecting with friends, singing birthday songs, chatting on what's new in our lives; and then the late afternoon connecting with the kids by playing in the arcade together, dining at a new restaurant and running around whenever there was space. The kids were screaming in joy when Daddy let them sit/stand on the airport stroller and whizzed them around so fast, complete with sudden stops before they crashed into walls, that it felt like they were in a roller coaster ride!

I made sure to bring the kids to more playgrounds this month because I realised I hasn't been doing it as much as before. Yup, seriously, there shouldn't be any excuses like the sun is too hot, it's going to rain, I am too tired, you are nursing a cough, it's too far, we have better things to do etc. You just gotta do it. We checked out this fun playground at Changi Beach and I also brought the kids around our neighbourhood in search of more playgrounds we've never been before. They had a blast each time!

My kids love being at the beach and it's something that helps them to stay connected with nature. They love picking seashells, finding unique shaped leaves, looking for bugs, playing with sand, splashing around in the seawater and just having a good time enjoying the simple joy that life has to offer. While we still need to always keep an eye out for the kids, I think they are now better aware of the dangers (especially the toddler), which in turn gives the hubby and I a little more time and freedom to enjoy our time together. It's so important to stay connected as hubby and wifey, to invest in our marriage, to keep the flame burning as a couple because that is what brought us here as a family in the first place.

I think I nag a lot at home and the one who suffers most from it is the eldest. I'm always asking her to finish her work, to look after her siblings, to help out in the house and so on. Sometimes, I tell myself to hold my tongue and just let her indulge, connect and have some fun with her siblings - even when her homework is not yet done.

This was a sight I witnessed when I was cooking dinner halfway and went into the playroom to check on the kids. They were all sitting on the bed, the boy was busy doing his own thing while the eldest was holding an ukulele and strumming away (she can't play but we can all strum at least, right?) as she made up a story and the younger sister would use their stuffed toys and puppets to act it out. Very creative, very heartwarming.

Other than the CNY period, the hubby was away often and so I had lots of time to spend with the kids on my own. While I tried to cook simple meals and made sure we still ate homecooked food, I also told myself that it was okay to dine out or just have takeaways too - if it meant that I was less tired, didn't need to spend so much time cooking and washing, and instead have more time for the kids.

I love chatting with them about how their day went, about the latest movie we watched, about current affairs, about their experiences in school and all the cute stories they have to share about their classmates, friends and teachers. Mealtimes are one of the best ways for us to connect as mum and kids, and I feel so strongly about this topic that I've been wanting to write a post on it. Wait for it to come soon!

Knowing how much my kids love love love butterflies, we also found time to make it to the first indoor butterfly aviary which was held in Harbourfront Center last month. The girls were over the moon to come up close with so many butterflies and insects and I'm still very much amazed by how they are not scared of these bugs but instead love to hold them, pat them and talk to them.

I also realised that even though my kids love water play, there can be weeks when we get so busy and I absolutely forget to include some time for them to go swimming, play at a water playground or just splash around and get themselves all wet. In the month of February, I made sure I included more time for water play and there were even days when their swimsuits were still wet but we went for another round of play all the same. We also went all the way to Sentosa just to let them play at Port of Lost Wonder, which is now free for all, and the kids had a splashing good time with Papa. Woohoo!

Last but not least, the main highlight of February has to be.... CHINESE NEW YEAR, of course! It's my favourite festive season (Christmas comes a close second) and I love how we get to visit and gather with family and friends, have reunion lunches and dinners, play card games, feast on yummy food and goodies, and most importantly, stay connected with the people who matter in our lives.

We were busy right from the eve of CNY where we had reunions and the kids stayed up till 2am to 守岁 (as they watched TV, haha) all the way till 元宵 and we still have more gatherings to come this weekend. I was so glad that I managed to host my secondary school friends because these are the people who I've known for over two decades of my life and shared so many ups and downs with. I hope you all enjoyed your time at A Happy Home and that the BBQ was as enjoyable as we hoped it would be, despite all the hiccups like a faulty pit.

It was also awesome that we got to visit my grandma thrice in a row and spend some precious time with her because now that she has dementia and can't remember clearly who we are, my heart aches for her and I just want her to be as happy as possible. Seeing her great grandchildren and having us around her definitely helps to cheer up her day!

I love watching lion dance performances as a kid so I make sure my kids get to watch it every year too. You know how different it is to watch a live one as compared to one shown on the TV, right? So this year, I was searching for all the places where we could catch a show and was elated that we caught the first show at Waterway Point. It was mad awesome and even involved drums with changing LED lights, a dragon dance, mascots and a breathtaking lion leaping over the poles performance. Woohoo! I remember it was during their Heguru classes and I was the only parent who pulled the kids out halfway just so that they could watch the show - so much so that the teachers had to ask me to do it discreetly so I wouldn't disrupt the class. Oops. It was very much worthwhile though! And I was so glad I went to chope a nice spot so we could watch the entire show in full view. Awesome!

CNY is also a valuable time for us to get together as a family of five and I was very thankful that we had the hubby with us for a good five-day period before he got busy at work again. Yes, being a navy hubby who is away often means that he needs to find time to connect with his kids too and I'm glad he is a very hands-on hubby whenever he is around. The kids love him lots because he injects much fun and laughter into their lives too. Right, why is it that Daddy is usually the playmate while Mummy remains the caretaker? Haha.

Even amidst all the CNY celebrations, we made sure that the kids had time to relax, to unwind and to play to their hearts' content too. It was definitely a much needed break for all of us and to be able to come together like this and reconnect with one another, I think it did us so much good and gave us the strength to carry on when the hustle and bustle resumed.

It was the first day of my menses and I was having bad cramps and even stained my pants when the hubby suggested that we should take the kids to Sentosa. Haha, yesh he did. Not wanting to whine or be a spoilsport, I went to Uniqlo to get a pair of shorts, changed into it at once and off we went to take the cable car because my boy simply loves it so much. The kids did ask why I looked so pale when we boarded but thankfully it got better and better as the day progressed. Yes, it was the last day of the CNY holidays and I really wanted to make it count. Cramps or no cramps, let's carpe diem!

The one thing that keeps me going when the going gets tough is these little surprises and assurance from my kids which motivate me and give me the determination I never knew I had. Writing cards and sweet notes to one another is one of the ways the girls and I stay connected and I hope they know how much all these sweet little acts of theirs mean to me.

No matter what the world says or thinks of me, what matters most is how you see me, my dears. Thanks for being the angels in my life and I am so rich, so blessed and so grateful for all the love you give to me. I hope you know how deeply and how crazily I am in love with each of you too.

To more happiness in March!

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