Our Run for Wildlife Experience at Safari Zoo Run 2017

Posted by ~Summer~ on 27.2.17
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We were very excited to be participating in our favourite family run last weekend and that was the Safari Zoo Run 2017! It was a milestone for us because this would be the first time we were running as a family of five! Yes, the baby got to join in the fun too and even though he can't walk yet, much less run, at least he could be in the stroller and enjoy the whole journey with us.

We have joined numerous family runs over the past years and I love them because they help to instill resilience and determination in the kids and encourage us to push beyond our limits. Read our interview with Young Parents on why we love running here. But why is the Safari Zoo Run our favourite of them all? Well, let's just say as Friends of Wildlife, our family really loves to visit the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park (which will be relocated to Mandai by the year 2020). The Safari Zoo Run gives us the opportunity to run for a good cause and be able to come up close with the animals while staying fit, bonding and making memories together as a family.

This year, we decided to break the record by joining our longest run yet - the 5.5km Family Run. You read right, it's 5.5km! I've no doubt my kids will not be able to run continuously for that long a distance (because I likely can't too after having three kids) so instead of telling them to never give up and don't stop, we took a different approach this time round. We could stop, we could admire the animals, we could drink water, we could take pictures, we could walk, but we would still try our best to run and make sure we reached the finishing line as a family.

The theme for this year's run is "Run For Wildlife" which focuses on raising awareness for wildlife conservation. There are four animal icon teams - Team Ah Meng, Team Canola, Team Sunny and Team Chawang - and you can pick which animal team you would like to support and help raise awareness for when registering for the run.

We wanted the whole family to be on the same team so we had a brief discussion but it didn't take long before we came to a consensus - all of us agreed to be on Team Chawang! Yes, we've seen Chawang many times at the Night Safari and I remember once when we passed him by on the tram, he looked up at us, nodded his head, made all of us smile and it became such a memorable moment.

On the day of the run, we sprang out of bed early and left the house just after the sun rose. I was feeling thankful and glad for the great weather because it would have been a bummer if the run had to be cancelled. While doing our warm up and waiting for the race to be flagged off, I realised that we forgot to bring the mosquito repellent and yet I had dressed the girls up in shorts! Oh dear. Oh well. We just had to move on and hope that the mosquitoes would spare them - even though we knew from experience that it would be unlikely.

We waited for a good 20 minutes or so before the horn finally sounded! Yesh, time to take off! See the very cute Canola who helped to flag off our race? Awwww.

The path was a little congested at the start but once we got to the wider roads, we started running! Okay, I think jogging was actually a more appropriate term. For the first 1km, I had to run with a baby against my chest before he was feeling a little overwhelmed and didn't want to sit in the pram. I was so thankful that we brought along our baby carrier! Phew! I was also very relieved that the hubby could join us because guess what, he came home past 6am from work so he was very much exhuasted yet made the effort to be with us.

There were several drink stations set up along the route for runners to quench their thirst and replenish their energy. This thrilled the girls and so we would take a moment to catch our breaths every time we passed by one. Thankfully, at the first station, the baby was happy to play with an empty cup and sat down obediently in his stroller - and remained there till the end of the race. Yes, that meant he sat for over an hour eventually which allowed me to better enjoy the run with the sisters. Yippee!

So we ran. And we ran. And we ran. The breeze was blowing. The leaves were rustling. The air was cool and crisp. The animals were beckoning. It was the perfect place to spend a perfect Saturday morning and I couldn't have thought of anything better to do. The hubby said to me "You need this run", and although he really meant it because I haven't been exercising much (actually, I don't exercise at all but I do consider walking to fetch the kids, pushing a stroller of groceries and carrying a 10kg baby very good workouts), I kind of felt that I needed it because we haven't been spending much quality time as a family together. This run gave us the opportunity to do so and in fact, it was a full day of bonding with the kids at their one of their most-loved places in Singapore.

We also made many stops along the way to interact and admire the beautiful creatures because it is always a joy to see them in such close proximity. Due to the vast space of the zoo, it didn't feel like we had to jostle or squeeze with the other runners at all even though there must be hundreds or thousands of us congregated that morning.

At one point, the hubby exclaimed "We are in the Night Safari!" which kind of confused the kids and we had to explain that we were actually running along the route that we usually pass by when we visit the Night Safari. Yes, that felt kind of cool because honestly, when do you actually get to go there in the day and see these animals in broad daylight? We were most excited to get up close with Neha, the calf of Chawang and Sri Nandong who is going to turn one year old in May (Make a guess for her birth weight?)

(.... she weighed 149kg when she was born!) As we ran along the route, the kids would try to call out and 'talk' to the animals, which really amused me and made me laugh too. I was actually very surprised at how much the little sister ran and she was so cute as to keep singing "I won't give up, no I won't give in" when we told her to keep it up and try to continue running. Yup, that's my girl! No whining, no complaining, no carrying - just holding hands and encouraging each other to go on. As for the big girl, well, she has a good stamina when it comes to running so I don't even think she reached her potential because we stopped so much when she could have run continuously. Still, it's all worth it for the animal friends!

When we were running past the Mandai Lake, we had to, had to stop to take a wefie. Can you guess why? Well, this was where the hubby and I had our wedding photoshoot! Yes yes, we did it in the zoo and rode a horse carriage since it was a fairytale themed wedding. Awww, all those memories! So, from then a couple to now parents of three lovely kids, that sufficed as a reason to take a family shot, right?

The event was well-organised and clear directions were given from start to end. Runners were informed of which routes to take through these huge, prominent signboards along the way. There were arrows to indicate which road to take for which race, there were signboards to shout out the distance you had covered and there were also mascot cut-outs along with the conservation messages to serve as reminders and photo opportunities for the runners.

When the finishing line was in sight, which was after an hour since we started the race, we summoned the last of our strength and sprinted towards it as a family. Hip hip hooray! We did it! We made it! The kids were ecstatic to receive the medals as a recognition of their efforts and the hubby and I were so proud of them too! 5.5km, all completed and done!

I think the kids deserved a pat on their backs because I knew they really tried their best to run as much as they could and they were on their best behaviour that morning as we went around the parks too. Yes, one good thing about the Safari Zoo Run is that it grants you access to the zoo and the River Safari on the same day. Not that we needed it since we have the annual pass, but why waste the day when you are already there, right?

So, we headed for lunch and then spent the rest of the day exploring River Safari and the Zoo. It was my first time being there alone with three kids because the tired hubby went to rest and take a nap before he joined us again in the late afternoon. We walked the entire River Safari, came up close with squirrel monkeys, said hello to Kai Kai and Jia Jia, observed a troop of baboons in action, watched two animal shows, let the girls have a go at pony riding in Kidzworld and also went on the carousel as a family of five to end the day. Oh, we also came up close with dinosaurs at the Zoo-rassic Park and the kids were awe-inspired to see these prehistoric creatures which could even move and interact with them! That was really rex-citing! The Zoo-rassic exhibition ends on 31 March, more details can be found here.

We had to reluctantly leave the zoo at 6pm because the place was closing. Yup, which meant the kids basically survived over 11 hours of being out and partaking in exhausting physical activities. Some friends asked me where do the kids, and us, get our energy from and I'm not very sure too. I think we just really enjoy going outdoors, taking in sports activities or exploring places as a family. My strength and motivation definitely come from the kids and to see them happy brings me a sense of joy and satisfaction like no other. Thanks to the Safari Zoo Run for giving us the opportunity to do what we did and providing us with a day of fun, laughter and precious memories as a family. Till the next year!

Disclosure: We received a media invite to participate in Safari Zoo Run 2017. All photographs and opinions are our own.

A Happy Home - The Dining Room

Posted by ~Summer~ on 23.2.17

One of my biggest wishes in moving to the new house is to be able to make more homecooked meals for the family. It's hard, really hard, on some days because the three kids already drain me of my energy and time. Still, you'll be surprised at where determination takes you and so far we've been doing better than I expected (I've tried out 5-6 new recipes and the kids love them, woohoo!) in this first month after shifting in. The dishes might be simple but they were cooked with love and the most important thing is we try to let our mealtimes be filled with joy and laughter.

So, continuing with our tour, I'm going to show you our Dining Room today! Okay, strictly speaking, it's just a dining area because it shares the same space as the living room. What we did was to place a dining table behind the sofa and also install a customised storage cupboard which I will show you later on.

To be frank, this arrangement makes the sofa a little too close to the TV, so what I usually do is shift the bench under the dining table and push the sofa as far back as possible, in the hope that this will do less harm to the kids' eyesight. Yes yes, I'm hoping they can be like me and don't need to wear spectacles but I know it's going to be a tough challenge in this high tech age we live in today.

The hubby initially suggested that we should do away with the dining table but I objected because that, to me, meant less motivation to cook and less opportunity to eat with the family. So, a dining table was a must and thanks to My Nest, we now have Scandinavian styled dining table, chairs and bench. This did not come as a set and in fact, it was a mix and match and every piece of furniture was picked by ourselves. I loved all the wood and earnestly thought that the colours and the combination of different styles worked together quite well in the end, do you think so too? Will be sharing more in our review!

So far, we've already hosted a few rounds of gatherings with friends and family in our house and the dining table has served us well.It makes for a nice corner to sit around, catch up and bond while we tuck into food at the same time. So yes, having a cosy dining area is really essential to us for now.

Moving on to the highlight of our dining room, it will be the personalised LOVE cupboard that many of you have been asking me about and the unique Travertino wall done by the Nippon Momento team. Here's showing the draft of the design that I drew.

Basically, we needed huge storage cupboard space because there is no storeroom in the house, we wanted a glass display for all the booze, and I wanted to have a brick wall as a photo backdrop - these three factors led to this peculiar design which you've probably not seen anywhere else. Yup, that's how special it is. Haha.

See how it eventually turned out? It definitely exceeded all our expectations and I am loving all the earthy tones and wooden feel.

The LOVE display cabinet idea came about when we saw this photo frame we bought in Sweden. You can see it in my foyer tour here. The hubby, who can be more creative than me at times, was the one who tried to draw a mockup design and said that it would be nice to have a cabinet with the letters cut-out on the doors and LED spotlights to light up the displays.

So, we thought about it for some time and also had a discussion with the carpenter. He was intrigued with our concept and said that he had never done anything like this before, which explained why it took him weeks to cut out the doors despite the fact that the cupboards were completed much earlier. But see? He did a really awesome job eventually, right? We are so in LOVE!

Yup, so this is the reason why we are calling our new abode the House of Love (see our cabinet cut out in the shape of a house in the living room display here). A tad cheesy, I know, but we still like it. Nowadays, whenever guests come over to our place, the girls will write welcome messages on the whiteboard and it always says "Welcome to the House of Love" along with drawings of our whole family. How cute, right?

Here's a look at the door from the inside. As you can see, the display glass shelves are just the usual shelves and what makes it special is the cut-out of the door in the corresponding letter. This means you can basically spell anything you want, right?

For the displays, I've put up some photos, souvenirs, medals, trophies, memorable keepsakes (such as two pebbles from Iceland, a walnut cracker from Sweden), two disco lights and so on. I love the LEGOLAND photo souvenirs where they printed our photos onto real LEGO which can even be dismantled.

Now, a quick look inside the storage cupboard. Since we don't have a storeroom, we had to devise ways to store bulky items like the vacuum cleaner, the hubby's golf set, our Christmas tree etc. I actually came up with a list of bulky items before we even did the furniture design so that we can have a rough idea of what is to be stored where and then allocate the space for the items. Yes, a lot of planning prior to this!

The storage cupboard is also where the hubby keeps his fishing gear and where I keep all my art and craft materials (which is quite a lot of stuff!). I have a box dedicated to storing the kids' past artwork and even though I've tried to be selective, it's already almost full and I'm wondering what I should do in future.

On the other side of the cupboard, we have these display shelves with sliding glass doors that keep all our booze as well as shot glasses, champagne glasses, alcohol related souvenirs (such as this Heineken clock from Amsterdam) etc.. Yup, you can say this is our mini bar and I'm still looking forward to the day when I can have a glass of Baileys or cup of sake without feeling the guilt. But for now, I shall cherish all the breastfeeding days I have left!

Lastly, this is one of my favourite parts of the house - the gold-coloured brick wall. Right, it's not really made of bricks, not even craftstone, but is in fact done using special effect paint. I was amazed by firstly, how the wall fitted perfectly with the cupboard and didn't even leave a gap. Yippie, this meant that our measurements were spot on. Secondly, I was blown away by how the gold colour of the wall matched the wooden laminates of the cupboard perfectly and this was purely by a stroke of luck.

The more I look at the wall, the more in love I am with it. Some of our friends who came over have also asked us about it and many commented that it looked very nice! I'll share more on this in a separate post soon but you bet you'll be seeing this wall pretty often in my posts.

I initially wanted this area to be a photo taking backdrop cum stroller parking area. However, plans changed and it became more practical to put the kids' Ikea play kitchen (I fixed everything up myself for this, woohoo!), the baby's high chair and the whiteboard easel stand. This is good for me in the sense that since it is right next to the kitchen, I get to whip up our meals while the kids also whip up theirs in their kitchen or do some drawing and writing too.

So, this concludes our tour of the Dining Room and in my next tour of A Happy Home, I'll be showing you the bedrooms so stay tuned!


This post is part of the "A Happy Home" series where I share all about our new Scandinavian-themed house, the renovation process and some tips and thoughts. Moving is never easy but it comes with an indescribable sense of joy in building up the house of your dreams. Remember, home is where the heart is and nothing is more important than being able to build memories with the people you love.

Creativity 521 #107 - The tranquil Tree of Knowledge

Posted by ~Summer~ on 21.2.17
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When we were designing the study area for the kids, I drew up cupboards that formed a T-shape and the hubby was the one who then suggested "Why not let's make it into a tree?", which sounded like an excellent suggestion. Yet, it was easier said than done. We came up with ways to make a tree-like structure, we searched for furniture pieces that resembled a tree before we decided that the best way would be to paint a backdrop of a tree and then do a customised cupboard with shelves to represent the tree trunk and branches.

We asked if our painters could help us to paint an outline of a tree but alas they couldn't. We thought of painting it ourselves but couldn't imagine if it would turn out the way we wanted it to be. So after a few weeks of feeling at a loss yet determined to press on with the idea, you bet I was very much relieved when the kind teachers at heART Studio said that they could do us the favour and pop by our new house to paint with the girls.

So, you have already seen the wall mural of the beautiful Singapore skyline that Angel painted together with Teacher Elma. Today, I'm sharing about the tree that Ariel painted with Teacher Syafiq which I call the Tree of Knowledge because it will be our library corner and house all our books in future.

To start off, Teacher Syafiq mixed a few different shades of brown/yellowish colours for the tree trunk and the painting began. We had a huge wall of 3m long by 2.4m tall to cover and you can imagine the time and effort that went into it.

The little girl couldn't wait to get started! She's been taking art classes for a year now and to be honest, I was initially worried if she would like and enjoy it as much as the sister does since I know jolly well that their interests might be diverse. It turned out that she's been looking forward to Teacher Syafiq's lessons and even though she doesn't speak up much in class, she comes home telling me "I love painting!" which is really heartening to hear.

There she goes! This four-year-old was as enthusiastic as could be as she began to add colour to the trunk. She had to hop the paintbrush and keep changing colours, which I must say was quite tiring and furthermore, the trunk was huge and wide!

I love this picture of the teacher-student pair working side by side and I know how precious it will be when we look back next time. I mean, when do you get such a golden opportunity to paint on the walls of your new nest with your very own teacher, right?

Despite the fact that Ariel probably only covered less than 10% of the entire tree, the fact was she knew she did her utmost to be involved and she did play a role in painting this gigantic tree. That was what mattered to me.

See how the different shades blend together eventually and make the tree trunk appear more layered and realistic looking? Quite amazing, right? Oh, the reason why I needed a very wide trunk was because this will be the kids' library and I wanted it to contain as many books as possible. I'll be showing you how it looks after the customised furniture is up in our study area tour, so do keep a lookout for that!

Once the tree trunk was done, Teacher Syafiq moved on to paint the canopy. Likewise, we needed a huge, wide canopy so as to be able to accommodate more shelves for our books and so he worked within the dimensions we provided.

Another way he tried to involve the kids was by asking them for the colours of the leaves they wanted and how they want the leaves to be placed. Angel chose to have falling leaves which I thought made it very scenic! We left the middle portion of the tree more bare because it would be covered by the shelves and books anyway, but for the border, Teacher Syafiq made it really beautiful with the leaves and he even added in a family of birds and some butterflies too!

There was going to be a total of five birds, one to represent each of us, and we got to choose our own colour. The hubby chose yellow, I went for turquoise, Angel wanted pink, Ariel had red and we chose a blue for the baby boy.

The birds looked so lovely after Teacher Syafiq added in the details and if you look closely, the wings had patterns on them and the female birds even had eyelashes! How meticulous, right? I love how the black butterflies contrasted the multi-coloured hues of the birds and leaves too.

So, after one whole afternoon and evening of hard work, we were all done with the murals and here's our completed tree! I know I know, the trunk is a little wide and the canopy is oblong, but wait till we put up the cupboard and shelves and you'll see! Stay tuned!

**This is not a sponsored post and the art teachers did this for us purely out of goodwill and friendship. If your kids are keen to pick up art as well, do check out http://heartstudiosg.com/ and get to know more about the awesome teachers there. It's definitely a great place for the little ones to learn about art, be creative and enjoy at the same time.


This post is part of the "A Happy Home" series where I share all about our new Scandinavian-themed house, the renovation process and some tips and thoughts. Moving is never easy but it comes with an indescribable sense of joy in building up the house of your dreams. Remember, home is where the heart is and nothing is more important than being able to build memories with the people you love.

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