Happiness is... refocusing priorities in life

Posted by ~Summer~ on 31.10.14
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I have been doing quite a bit of thinking recently. Thinking about family, friends, blogging and life in general. It struck me that I wasn't balancing my life that well because 24 hours a day seemed to be insufficient for me to accomplish all the things that I wanted to. So, many a time, I ended up sleeping at 3 or 4am in the wee hours and woke up the next day feeling like a zombie.

Summer, oh Summer, just what are you doing with your life? I would ask myself.

Much as I doing the things I do, I have to honestly confess that I did fall into the social media trap. This year, I have been doing quite a handful of sponsored reviews and giveaways to the extent that it has become a habit to check if entries are coming in, to see if my Instagram post has garnered likes, to find out what my readers are commenting on Facebook. Maybe it's because I am not a working mum and this blog has become a way for me to feel validated. Go on, laugh. Because even I feel like mocking myself.

Yes, I love blogging, I love penning down memories of my family, I love having my own space on the web, I love to bring the kids to fun PR events, I love going to movie premieres, I love making new friends and I am so very thankful for the fact that I have been able to receive and at the same time give away so much awesome stuff to my readers.

BUT, all these should never be a measure of my achievements or self worth. Okay, as a blogger, maybe. But not as a wife, a mum or a person. So, while I do know that I will continue to blog, I am however trying to be more selective of the things I choose to write and hope to take up only commitments that are truly beneficial to my family and readers.

This October, "Happiness is" about refocusing on my priorities, taking a step back in life and seeing the big picture of what truly matters. Perhaps it was a good thing that the hubby was away for nearly two weeks and so I had the kids all to myself. I realised much more than the blogosphere needs me, my children need me to be around when they are young. And they are only young once.

So, I'm learning to put away my phone, shut down the laptop, listen with my heart, look with my eyes and give the kids my undivided attention whenever we are together. Here are some of the things we did this month.

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We went on 3-girls dinner dates and at Xin Wang Cafe, we had this impressive mango snow ice dessert which delighted the kids.



After realising how nearby we are located to the kampong-styled The Animal Resort, we visited our animal friends once again and this time round, we even brought the in-laws to visit grandma's long lost friend.



While the big sister goes for art class, I don't see why the little can't have her own art sessions too and I only wished I had thought of this sooner. We are learning numbers, colours and shapes as we paint nowadays and I think her smile says a lot.



Many times, I feel like I have shortchanged the little one just because she is the second child and has less one-on-one time with me as compared to the first. So, in the mornings when jiejie goes to school, I try to give her more of my time and do fun activities together.


We like to go to Tebing Lane in Punggol to watch people fishing and prawning. Once, the kids even got to use tiny nets, and paper that breaks super easily, to catch little fish!


Nowadays, when I am making dinner, I try to come up with new activities to keep the kids occupied. These decorative stones from Daiso kept them happy and helped practise their fine motor skills too! You should also check out this awesome list of sensory bins by Gingerbread Mum.



We also went for our first shabu shabu buffet at Suki-ya and had a really delicious meal. Angel is in love with hot pots because she gets to cook and put in all the vegetables, meat and she even learnt to crack an egg!



No toys at grandma's house? No worries! I found it quite amusing that on weekends when we visit my mum, Ariel would use the mahjong tiles as stacking blocks and build tower after tower. On the other hand, Angel learns her chinese words and practises her counting. Not bad, right?



Even when the hubby was not around, I was resolute to bring the girls out every other day and so we did. Although we do not have a double pram or stroller, the good thing is these two find it loving and fun to share and thank goodness they can both fit on one! For now, at least.



Once, I came home with six bags of groceries, eight library books, a big birthday present for Angel's classmate, a diaper bag, a toddler and a preschooler all packed on the pram. Phew! Luckily we chose to keep this bulky Emmeljunga pram bought in Sweden. I'm also thankful to the person who invented kiddy boards because my girls absolutely love theirs!



Not only does she love to stand on the kiddy board, Ariel is also learning to scoot like a pro and so some days after dinner, I would take them downstairs and while she learns to scoot, the big sister learns to cycle. We are not quite there yet but one day we will be! Cheers to more backaches for mama!



While Daddy was away, Angel also performed for the second time at her annual school concert and it made me cry tears of joy that day and I couldn't have been a happier mum.



After her concert, we came back for a quick nap and when they woke, I was wondering where to bring them for a nice Saturday evening. I didn't want to lose that spontaneity though the husband was away and so, the three of us made a last minute decision to take a 50-minute bus ride to..... Changi Airport! Yup. We ate at Kopitiam and had a couple of hours of fun drawing, playing at the arcade and playground before taking the bus home again.

The funny thing was we bumped into an ex-colleague of mine and she totally gasped when she saw that I was out with the two of them on my own and had just survived a long bus journey. Well, I think practice makes perfect, right?


One night, I chanced upon this heartwarming scene when I came out of the shower. Yes, Angel was trying to help meimei blow dry her hair! I loved how nice and snug Ariel looked and she seemed really contented just leaning on jiejie. Hooray for siblings!



We were also lucky to be able to watch the world famous The Very Hungry Caterpillar on stage! What's more, we had the exclusive opportunity to get backstage with the crew and learn how the props were used in the production. That was totally awesome!


The library is also one of our favourite hangouts and I am just glad both my kids are developing a love for reading. Well, even though they also like to run around and play and scream. A little.



When the weather was good on one Saturday, we also made a spontaneous trip to Pasir Ris Park with the kids and my dad! We had fun cycling, strolling along the beach, spotting hermit crabs, picking seashells and hunting for crabs.





It was also yet another fun-filled day for the kids when we attended one of Angel's classmate's birthday party - with a Hello Kitty theme! The mum is an awesome party planner and all the kids were kept entertained with games, food and fun for the entire afternoon. Angel's favourite part was emerging as the champion in the musical chair game while Ariel was thrilled with her first ever hand painted butterfly!



On the Deepavali holiday, we paid a visit to one of the hubby's best friends before we made our way to the River Safari for a highly anticipated event - Safari Boo! I didn't have time to make any Halloween outfits for the kids so we had to settle for being dressed as a fairy angel and a little mermaid. They were very happy though! If you would like to get closer to a friendly Frankenstein, kind witch and not-so-scary skeletons, the event will still run on 1-2 Nov and kids enter for free after 6pm!


With their birthdays approaching and the year end being an exciting time for us, we are also getting ourselves into the party planning mode and I decided to rope them in to help out with the DIY stuff. Why not treat it as a craft session too, right?


Last but not least, we also had a fun-filled session at Clickz Studio which provides DIY photography or so called 'selfie' service. This means they have the camera, backdrop and lighting set up and you can pose using a variety of props provided. All you have to do is click the control button to snap a shot! Easy and fun, right?

So, how are you letting your hair down to celebrate the end of October? I hope it has been an awesome month for you too!

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What are you HAPPY for this month? 

Happy memories have a special way of touching our hearts every time we think about them. Join in my linky party at the end of every month and let us smile, rejoice and share the simple joys of life. Highlight and press Ctrl + C to copy my button above, include it in your post/sidebar and add your link below. For happiness is all around us.


Poisonous Dart Frog {Review of heART Studio Little Picasso class}

Posted by ~Summer~ on 30.10.14
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So, it's been over one and a half years since Angel started learning art at heART Studio. Time passes by all too quickly, doesn't it? It still seemed like yesterday when I first stepped into the studio with an infant snug in the baby carrier and an apprehensive 3-year-old holding my hand tightly. Today, the little one is running and jumping around while the big one walks into class with a wide smile, poise and anticipation.

Even though the Little Picasso class is targeted at children aged 5.5 to 7 years old, the teachers at heART Studio have felt that Angel is now equipped with the necessary skills and ready to move up here from the Little Dali class. She was a little reluctant at first because she has grown to love the teachers, but that's just part and parcel of life and I am glad she eventually decided to embrace the change. In fact, she is currently loving every bit of her new class and today, we are showcasing what she has learnt in her first art project in Little Picasso.

Think of a small, vibrant and toxic animal and I think you might just get it. Yes, she is learning to sketch and paint the Poisonous Dart Frog!



When I first found out about this theme, I was highly excited because it seemed fascinating yet a little skeptical because of the intricate details involved. I mean, come on, at age 31, I still can't draw a frog properly! So, I was really curious to see how Teacher Elma will break down the lessons and teach the children from scratch.

In Little Picasso, every theme will consist of five lessons - which means you will only get to see the final artwork at the end of five weeks. This might sound a little lengthy especially if you compare to the 3-4 weeks span for the Little Dali class. However, like I said before, I have come to appreciate the fact that heART Studio takes the time and patience to slowly train up the skills of the students and encourages them to carry out their work independently. After all, a masterpiece of art cannot be created in a day, can it?



Week 1

In the first week of class, the students were introduced to the poisonous dart frog and its characteristics. Various pictures and photographs were shown and the students even got to watch a couple of videos on YouTube so that they would be more familiar with the animal. Angel was amazed by the toxicity of the poisonous dart frog and it was heartening to see that she was picking up general knowledge along with her paintbrush.

Next, the students were tasked to perform an observation drawing whereby they were told to sketch the frog based on the above picture shown. With absolutely no guidance from the teacher. Teacher Elma says this is a practice to help her gauge the standard of each student and see things from their perspectives so that she can better guide them as the class progresses. I thought this was really a smart move and it was interesting to see how each student came up with a different unique drawing. Check out Angel's distorted and weird-looking frog!

After that, Teacher Elma broke the animal down into parts and would draw them one by one on the whiteboard, starting from the body to head and legs. The students would then attempt to follow her with every step and where needed, she would step in to correct and guide them.

There, this was Angel's drawing at the end of the first week. I must say she was off to a great start!

Week 2

In the second class, the students were asked to do another drawing of the frog and this time round, instead of colour pencils, they had to use oil pastels to add in the colours. It's true that practice makes perfect and you can't expect a child to remember how to draw such a complicated animal after just a couple of tries. In fact, I think she needs to keep drawing it again and again at home if she really wishes to get the shape and body parts right.

Teacher Elma taught the students two methods of using the oil pastels - the first is the standing method where you hold the oil pastel normally and the second is the resting method where you lay the oil pastel horizontally on the paper instead. This helped to create different textures and details were also added to the frogs - I was personally amazed by how much difference a small detail could make!

This was what Angel did in her second week, a marked improvement from the first one, don't you think so?

Week 3

After the learning and preparation in the first two weeks, it was time to start on the final artwork and that means painting, much to Angel's delight! Since the frogs were going to have brightly coloured hues, the students had to pick either black or brown for their background and my girl decided on the latter.

After drying the background, it was time to draw their desired foreground and start outlining using a soft pastel. Teacher Elma had printed out a variety of poses for the frogs and the students were free to choose whichever they liked. They could also decide on their own placement of the frogs, rocks, leaves, branches and plants.



Of course, it was not easy to draw the outline of such a huge piece of work and things might not be as straightforward as they seemed. Many a time, Angel would make a mistake or draw out of shape and that was when she had to erase and redo and erase and redo. I could see that she would get pretty frustrated at times and had to learn to persevere and get over the hurdle. That is one of the main objectives of why I like to let her learn art - to realise that you should not give up easily and to understand that there is no right or wrong.

What I do like about heART Studio is that there is minimal holding of the child's hand and maximum opportunity for him/her to learn from mistakes. Even when Angel drew something that looked odd, Teacher Elma might help her to erase but she would not redo it for her and she would try her best not to hold her hand. Instead, she would patiently use her finger to draw an imaginary line from Point A to Point B and ask Angel to follow that imaginary line. This, of course, takes times and that is why we do need five weeks to accomplish a great piece of art.

See? This was what she achieved by the end of the third lesson. A frog hugging a bamboo plant, how cute!

Week 4 & 5

In the last two weeks of class, the students were to add in the colours and details according to what they had learnt previously. They were given the autonomy to select each of the colours and pattern that they wanted for the skin of the frog. 


In order to make it look more realistic, they also made use of both the standing and resting methods and added in highlights, textures, layers and details using the oil pastels.

With each lesson lasting 1hr 15min, the students were given ample time to finish every task and there was no rushing through at all. They would also usually go for a toilet break and at the end of the class, they would clean not just their own hands, but also their buckets, brushes as well as keep all the pastels. I think that is definitely a good way to train them up to have a sense of independence and responsibility.

TA-DAH! Presenting Angel's final poisonous dart frog artwork! How do you think she fared?

I don't think I am biased but she did quite a good job, didn't she? In fact, I took a look at the works of the other students and I must say everyone did amazingly well.

For this to be the first artwork she produces at Little Picasso, I think it is the start of many more wonderful things to come in her art journey.

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heART Studio believes in providing quality Arts education for all their students to gain mastery in making art, to nurture their creative potential and to cultivate a community of artists and art lovers of all ages. Its class programmes include age appropriate activities uniquely designed to engage and inspire young artists, aged 3-12, to cultivate their creativity and learn technical art skills. For more information, visit www.heartstudiosg.com.

Disclosure: This is part of a series of reviews between heART Studio and A Happy Mum. Angel attended a term of sponsored art lessons for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions are our own.

Sparkle with personalised jewellery {Review and Giveaway of Centime Gift}

Posted by ~Summer~ on 27.10.14
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Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Or so they say.

I'm not sure if it's true because I have never really been into jewellery. The most expensive piece of jewellery I have so far has to be my wedding ring and even this was not studded with diamonds or gemstones. In fact, much more than wanting it to be sparkly, I wanted it to be unique and personalised. That's right. So we designed our own rings using our names (letters J and S) and made our wedding rings truly one of a kind.  

So you see, to me, it's not about diamonds, it's about personalisation and owning that priceless piece of jewellery that cannot be bought anywhere else in the world. Thus, I couldn't help it but jumped for joy when Centime Gift offered to send over personalised jewellery not just for me, but for the kids as well. Now, that's the good thing about being a girl and having two daughters!

We were delighted to see that our items came beautifully wrapped in these exquisite gift boxes. They not only ensure that the items are kept safe during shipment but are perfect for storage too.

Look! This is the first time the girls are wearing silver jewellery because they usually only put on toy or plastic ones. I think these added a touch of elegance and made them look more girly than ever.


Made of 100% silver, these jewellery are said to be totally safe for the kids. So even though the silver finish doesn't look as shiny and is a little softer compared to sterling silver 925, I would still opt for this just to put my mind at ease.


In addition to bearing their names, the necklaces also came with lovely, cute charms - Ariel had a candy cane charm while Angel had a cupcake one. How very sweet! These charms look best sitting just below the collar bone and Centime Gift provides a guide on its website to help you select the desired chain length.

Now, it's my turn! You know, I have been reviewing numerous toys and books for the kids and it really felt awesome to receive a gift this time round that was meant specially for me. Right, even if that means I chose to carve their names on my rings. See what I mean?

These stackable name rings, one of Centime Gift's bestsellers, make one of the best ways to hold your child's name close to your heart. If you have more than one child, it's easy, just stack them up! The rings, I mean, of course. You can also choose to wear the name of your spouse, parent or a dear friend.

Just so you know, while Centime Gift provides a comprehensive ring size guide, from experience, it can be a little tricky to find your correct size and if that is the case, you can choose to have open ends for your rings. This also makes it possible for the rings to fit on any finger but just make sure you take good care of them as they might not be as strong as the closed rings.



In addition to the beautiful name rings, I also received this personalised necklace that I absolutely love. Made of sterling silver, these classic, trendy-looking necklaces are suitable even for sensitive skin. Now, don't you think it totally brightens up the day?

One admirable thing about Centime Gift is that every piece of jewellery is handmade - which not only makes each design unique and appealing, it is also timeless. If you would like, you can also send in your signature or handwritten words and make these into pendants. How unique and personal, right?




I guess, you don't really need diamonds to sparkle. At the end of the day, it's more about feeling confident, graceful and joyful to be where you are in life. Thanks to Centime Gift for making us feel special and reminding us that all of us are unique in our own ways.

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Now, for those of you who are keen to have your own personalised jewellery, A Happy Mum is now giving away 2 sets of S$50 shopping vouchers from Centime Gift. This giveaway is open to readers worldwide.

To participate, simply leave a comment with your name, email address and tell me which is your favourite piece of jewellery from Centime Gift. Indicate in the Rafflecopter widget that you have commented and to gain more entries, you can follow the rest of the options.

From now till 30 November, all A Happy Mum readers are also entitled to a 20% discount when you shop on Centime Gift. Simply enter the coupon code HAPPYMUM20 when you check out.

Best of luck and have fun shopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: We received the above personalised jewellery from Centime Gift for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own. 

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