Happiness is... treasuring the stress-free days

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 06, 2024
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I always look forward to December.

It's a month special to us because it marks the birthdays of two of my babies. Since it is the school holidays, it's also a time where we can travel, explore, have fun, spend time together as a family and be able to sleep in. Yes, I give three cheers for that last part and I love being able to turn off all my alarms and let everyone sleep to his/her heart's content.

Unlike in June where the kids might have holiday assignments or CCA practice to attend, December symbolises the wrapping up of a year and the kids are usually more free. Yes, no extra lessons, no homework and no co-curricular activities means more time for play, yayyy! While December means the end of a fruitful year, it also gives hope for the next new beginning and makes you feel excited about what lies ahead.

In this "Happiness is..." post, it's about cherishing the stress-free days in this last month of the year. 


First up, we went on an epic 6D5N cruise on board Spectrum of the Seas! It was Ansel's first cruise and it was so funny when we told him he was inside the ship already after boarding and he asked "Huh? Where?" because it totally didn't feel like it. I know right, my dear, I felt the exact same way on my first cruise too.


I've yet to write about the trip in detail and I'm still trying to do up a video for the kids, so bear with me because I will get there one way or another. At least I'm still keeping this blog alive - it's mainly for myself and my kids to reminisce the good old times and remember those golden moments - because I know of many parenting bloggers who have since stopped writing and moved on to creating content on social media instead. If you've been here for a while, thank you for all the support and do stay around, yeah?

Since this wasn't a sponsored trip, it meant that the videos and photos we took were for our own keepsake and I think that makes me feel slightly more relaxed. I still took a lot though (my video footage for the whole trip amounted to nearly 3 hours!) because I think it's ingrained in me and I just wish to capture more of these precious moments.

Plus, we paid over $7k for the trip (we had two connecting balcony staterooms) so I thought it would be good to remember all that we did. Here's a sneak peek first - we visited The TOP in Penang which included the Jurassic Research Centre and a Rainbow Skywalk located at Level 68, and we also went to the beach in Phuket and went on a exhilarating off-road buggy adventure.


Back on our island, we also went to many kid-friendly places and events because December is usually jam packed with such activities. This was at Gingerbread Wonderland at Nex which consisted of huge inflatables by Kiztopia and the kids had a blast! It's nice to see that the elder two still follow us to such events and they love it when they get to play with Ansel, help him up the slide, jump with him into the ball pit and they also still enjoy playing tag with Asher too.

Well, I will cherish these moments till all of you outgrow these kiddy fun times but for now, please enjoy such carefree moments and take your time to grow, my dears.

At Space Fest @ Expo, the kids went on rides including the viking, played carnival games and also went on a bouncy castle together. It was nice that the hubby could join us too and we had lunch together as a family - a luxury that I do not take for granted. Guess what? We were in luck and saw a travel fair happening at a nearby hall and that was where we bought fairly cheap luggage for us to bring to the cruise. Woohoo!

It's also nice to at times let the girls spend sisterly time together while I bring the boys out. I mean, the two of them are quite independent already and it is my hope that they can be the kind of sisters who can go shopping, share secrets, dance, chat about girly stuff and do lots of stuff together.

I took the boys to Polliwogs since we won the tickets from a lucky draw a year ago and the tickets were expiring. It amazes me how fast time flies and looking back, the years are so fleeting and it won't be long before my babies take off and move out of the nest and outgrow the need for Mama. Do I look forward to that day so I can finally have peace and lots of me-time to do what I want to do? Well, actually not.


The kids love eating at places where they get to cook and Yakiniku is one of them. We waited fairly long to get seats one day but they were delighted with the meal, which I must say is quite yummy! Well, we ate together for three meals a day in the whole of December so at times, I was at a loss of what to eat next, haha. I usually tried to ask them for their preferences and we would head to where the majority wanted.

I also cooked less than usual since we were out so often (yayyy!) but I must say eating out as a big family can be quite expensive so we have to learn to be prudent in our expenditure. The food court is still where we hang out most often because it's just cheaper to eat there than in any restaurant. I keep telling the kids they are very blessed already because it wasn't like this in their grandma's or great grandma's eras - they had to work at a young age just to put food on the table - so we truly ought to be grateful for what life has given us.



I have been cutting Ansel's hair since he was born because he just prefers to let Mama be his hairdresser. One day, he saw Korkor going for a haircut and knowing that he could receive a candy after it was done, he decided to be brave and try it out too, woohoo! It might be a simple milestone but it was still an important for me, because it showed that this boy had grown up a little bit more, is not so scared of strangers now, and is courageous enough to step out of his comfort zone.

Well, he didn't cry but he fidgeted quite a bit during the whole experience because I guess he was tickled or scared by the shaver and the close proximity of the auntie, but he did it in the end and I had to take a photo to remember that moment.








If you have not, do hop over to read about Ariel's and Asher's birthday celebration at D'Resort where we had a fun-filled 3D2N staycation. Since we usually squeeze into a room that has two queen beds, it is one of the cheapest ways for us to have a staycation in Singapore and the best thing is it comes with four complimentary daily tickets to Wild Wild Wet (for NTUC members only).


It was an awesome family bonding time where we did lots of fun activities, including swimming, indoor climbing, arcade, movie night, cycling, pony riding and more. I feel a little bad that the two kids have to usually combine their celebration since their birthdays are two days apart, but I make sure to make him/her feel special on his/her actual day. Like for Asher, we had a hotpot dinner at Hai Di Lao, sang a birthday song for him and surprised him with a late night movie outing to watch Aquaman 2 which he was very excited about.

For Ariel, she wanted cupcakes and a slice of rainbow cake instead of a big cake so I took her to choose her favourite cupcakes from 12 Cupcakes, brought over all her presents in the luggage to surprise her on the morning of her birthday, and had a cake cutting ceremony in the comfort of our room before we rushed to pack up and check out. She wanted to have prawn noodles soup for lunch and go indoor climbing so we did those too. Whatever you want for your birthday, my dears (as long as it is affordable). 





You know, despite all the happy moments and fun times, there are always the not-so-desirable bits and pieces and most people would choose to not write about it. Let's see, for us, it includes the sibling bickers, the constant backtalking, how the hubby and I had different opinions about where to head to, accidents like how Ariel's finger got trapped in the balcony door and bled quite badly, or the part where Ansel almost fell off a horse and was left with one leg dangling. And more! Yup, it's never as easy or as smooth as it looks and there are always the part behind the scenes which remind us that we are all the same and just trying our best to be a good parent for our kids.

















The kids are still going strong in their Taekwondo classes and we try our best to plan the holidays so that we would not have to skip any lesson. What started out as a holiday activity two years ago has seen the kids learn to be more resilient and disciplined and they have all surprised me by wanting to carry on till they achieve their black belts. Woohoo! Way to go, my loves!


Earlier in the year, I went on a one-on-one date with Ariel where we went for a cooking class, with Angel where we attended Blackpink's concert, and with Ansel where we went to an indoor playground. Well, so it was time for Asher's turn with Mama and he chose to go to an arcade. He would have been happy to settle for any arcade but I decided to bring him to the biggest one and it was one that we had never been before - Timezone in Orchard XChange. Before we made our way there by train, we had a nice breakfast at McDonald's which made him a happy boy.
 

We played lots of fun and new games the the arcade and for that couple of hours, I focused on this one kid and make sure he was happy. He loved this Ninja Turtles game which he played for the first time and requested to play it several times. So we did. I wanted him to have the freedom to choose what he wanted to do and best of all, I wanted to accompany him in every game that he played.

We've had our fair share of bad days and rough moments in the past year but that day, all was good in the world and we made so many precious memories to bring home with us. One-on-one dates are truly precious! I love you, my darling Asher.








We also had a gathering with Asher's kindergarten school mates and had a cake cutting ceremony for him too. It is so wonderful that we still keep in touch with a small handful of the ex-classmates and he always looks forward to such gatherings because they would have a blast and end up playing lots of games. Fun fact: Ariel was the emcee at Asher's graduation ceremony so all of them know her. Plus, another classmate's elder sister was her co-host so two of them would join in the gatherings too. That means we get to sing the birthday song for both of them (again).


We also went for a water carnival where the kids were treated to candy floss and popcorn, as well as had fun on obstacle courses and paddle boats. These are the simple joys in their growing up years which will hopefully be remembered because one day soon, they would not want to do this anymore. Trust me, I know, I have a full blown teenager at home.



Last but not least, it was time for Christmas! The kids look forward to this time of the year every single year because we would set up the Christmas tree (it has become a mum-and-kids tradition every year to do it together), go shopping for presents, wrap them up and write wishes on them (this is Ariel's favourite thing to do and she is always helping me with the wrapping), eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus and leave milk and cookies for him on the eve of Christmas, and of course, receive lots of presents and open all of them on Christmas Day.


We would also have family gatherings whereby the adults would do a gift exchange (everyone has to bring a $20 gift and we would draw random numbers to see who gets which gift) and the kids would all get presents. Yup, we might not celebrate Christmas for religious purposes but this season of giving is one that our family cherishes very much.



It symbolises that the year is coming to an end and gives us hope for the new year. Oh, and we would usually get a log cake so that the family members can celebrate Asher's and Ariel's birthdays together. This time, we added fruits, chocolate eclairs, custard puffs and tarts too. Woohoo! Family gatherings are simply the best and these are moments to treasure and hold dear in our hearts.


To love and be loved. That is just want all of us want in life, right? December has been such a sweet month and one that reminded me of all the good things we have. 我们真的是很幸福的,要惜福,要把握,也要懂得感恩。

That finally marks the end of 2023 and I look forward to sharing more of our family moments with you. Till the next post of "Happiness is..."!


Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man - Ansel is 3!

Posted by ~Summer~ on June 25, 2024
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It's hard to believe that the youngest in our family has turned three this year. Yup, how did those fleeting years pass us by and how is it that my preemie is now a toddler who is considered tall for his age? Oh wow, that is the amazing thing about having kids and I count my blessings every day that I get to stay home with my babies and witness every of their growing up milestones. 

Well, it's been 15 years since I held my first themed celebration for the firstborn and I'm happy to say that we are still going strong in terms of DIY parties. I asked Ansel what theme he would like for his 3rd birthday and gave him a list of suggestions. He made up his mind without much hesitation and surprisingly, he didn't waver from his decision so I knew this was it. YESH, we were gonna have a SPIDER-MAN PARTY!

Here's sharing more about Ansel's big day, including the costumes, decorations, games, activities and fun highlights. We kept it as an intimate family affair - it helps me to include more hands-on activities and make sure every child gets to play to his/her heart's content - and boy, oh boy did we have a blast. Read on to find out more.

 The Setup

Since the party was held in the comfort of our home, I knew I had to do something to create a beautiful backdrop and jazz things up a little. So I started searching online and got this reasonably priced, eye-catching banner which was the main highlight of the decorations. Nice, right? It fitted the occasion perfectly because the kids were dressed up as Spider-Man, Miles and Gwen. Yup, the kids had just watched the Spider-Verse series on Netflix which was also why the memories were fresh and why Ansel chose this theme.

Besides the banner, I also bought these Spider-Man balloons and guess what, I painstakingly blew up over 40 of them on my own. Yes, don't ask me why I didn't use a pump, I just felt it was easier at that time to blow them before I realised it actually took me lots of effort and time. Haha. 

So I tied them together and stuck some of them onto the wall and ceiling in creating the backdrop, and the highlights were this cute foil Spider-Man balloon with a huge head and another squatting Spider-Man which we placed in the corner and let him hold onto a number '3'. I also bought gold alphabet balloons which spelt the name 'Ansel' so as to personalise the wall.

Besides balloons and banners, another decoration we used was these hanging swirls which we placed at the bedroom door and in the living room. The sparkling swirls added shimmer to the house and yup, we were officially in party mode.

That wasn't too hard to set up and it didn't cost a bomb. The best part was we didn't have to take it down instantly after the party like we would if we had rented a place instead. In fact, Ansel loved it so much that I kept everything intact for a month after the party ended. Haha. It's been over four months now and his name and the Spider-Man balloon are still on the wall as I type this. Yes, gotta make the most of it!

The Outfits

As for the costumes, I ordered these outfits online for the kids and was glad that they were not too costly. At first, I thought I would get it for Ansel only but it turned out that the Korkor said he would love to dress up too. So I checked with Ariel and she said it would be cool to be Gwen. Then I asked the eldest, who is now a teenager, and amazingly she said she didn't mind wearing the costume too to join in the fun. So yup, we got a total of four costumes for the kids eventually while the hubby and I just pasted Spider-Man cutouts onto our tees, haha. 

This picture is very precious to me because I love seeing the four of them together like that. I mean, it kind of shows their love for the little brother because they don't mind doing this even though some of them have clearly outgrown the love for superheroes already. It's super sweet and it's a symbol of sibling love, at least to me. Check out their poses!

The Games

As always, the games were what the kids looked forward to and enjoyed the most so I made sure that I had prepared a whole bunch of fun activities for them to play. Woohoo, let's see what we did!

1) Marvel Trivia

First up, we had a trivia game whereby I would ask them Marvel related questions. Examples include "Who acted as Spider-Man?", "Name the villains in Spider-Man", "Who is the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D?", "Who lives in Wakanda?" and so on. The kids had fun pressing the buzzer - I bought these from Daiso and they not only have sound but can pop up too - and it was fun to see who got there first.

Of course, Ansel barely knew any of the answers but his beloved brother and sisters would whisper the answer in his eye and let him go first, much to his delight. Awww, that was super sweet. Catch the snippets in the video below.

2) Reaction Test

I've always loved this game at carnivals so I got this cheap version online which suited the occasion perfectly. Yup, the sticks would take turns to fall - you can adjust the speed and difficulty - and you have to catch them one by one. Well, Spider-Man do need to have a fast reaction time and be nimble with their hands, so this was a truly apt game for party.

The kids had lots of fun laughing when the sticks dropped, they tried catching with one hand, and we also took turns to help Ansel who was thrilled whenever he caught a stick.















3)  Avengers BINGO

This has always been one of our favourite games so I absolutely had to include it. Of course, it had to be Marvel themed in order to match the party and I have to say that the characters look really cute. We like to use love seeds to mark the numbers on our Bingo cards and the prizes for this game was stationery that the winner could choose from.




4) Agility Challenge

Looks familiar? Yup, we played something similar for Angel's spy party years ago but this spider web, or so called laser tag, game cannot be missed from a Spider-Man party. Remember I said I blew up dozens of balloons? Well, more than half of them were here to act as obstacles for our maze.

Basically, this game a test of agility and you have to cross from one end to another without touching the web. Yup, fun! I also made each of the kids dance a victory dance when they got to the other side and you should see it in the video later, we simply laughed so much!

I guess it isn't very fair when some of the kids are much taller than the rest but it heartened me to see all of them trying without complaints. Even the firstborn, who is now almost as tall as me, tried her best to cross the web and she exercised caution and tried her best not to touch the web when it would have been easier to just give up and say "I can't do it"

5) Save the Hostages

This was a game I invented and what the kids had to do was to 'rescue' the hostages, which included Spider-Man's loved ones like Aunt May, Ned and MJ, as well as our own family members. Haha, yesh, I made the effort to photoshop each and every one of us and laminated all the cutouts.

Using web shooters that can be attached to the wrists, I tied a string to the suction darts. So you just have to aim at the person you wanna save, shoot, and then slowly tug the string till you successfully pull him/her off the glass. I thought it was quite a smart and fun game, no?

6) Shoot the Villains

This was a hit with the kids and what they had to do was to shoot the villains where were made of cutouts stuck onto paper cups. What did we use to shoot? Well, this was the fun part - Party String!

The string resembled a spider web and it was fun for the kids to pretend that they had powers and they were all squealing with joy as we played till the very last can of string was used up.

7) Accuracy Test

Half a dozen games and more to come! We moved on to the second part of our party and it was held at the pool. To test their aim and accuracy, I put up this banner for a beanbag toss game where the kids had to see how much they could score by throwing the beanbags into the different holes.

It was a super windy day and it took us long to get the banner stand to be stable and not flip over, but it was all worthwhile because the birthday boy asked to play the game again and again. Seeing you happy makes me happy, my love.

8) Spider Hunt

Next, together with his siblings and cousin, Ansel wss tasked to hunt for nine spiders which were hidden in the pool. These were from our own animal figurine stash and I'm glad we could gather so many spiders!

9) Make 'em Fall

This wss another shooting game where the kids had to use water guns to shoot the villains and make the balls fall down from the cones. Water play is always fun and to make it even more exciting, we paired up to have a race in order to determine who did it in the fastest time.




















10) Pass the Message

Last but not least, we played a broken telephone game where the kids had to use walkie talkies to pass messages to each other. These messages include lines like "My name is Peter Parker", "With great power comes great responsibility", "I am your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man" and so on.

It was harder than expected because the sounds were a little muffled - these were cheap walkie talkies after all - but the fun part was in the trying and it was a great way to end off the games too.



While the kids were playing and I was busy being the game master, the hubby was also busy cooking up a storm for the family. Yup, barbeque food is simply the best, so yummy! It was nice that the extended family came over to join in the celebration so as to make this party even more fun and memorable for the little one.




Check out Ansel's Spider-Man ice cream cake! He picked this design himself and was insistent to have a blue one as it is his favourite colour. Awww, I love seeing your big and wide smile, my dear baby boy.

He loves blowing out the candles and would always ask to do it again and again, to which I would gladly oblige. I mean, how many years more would this take place, right? Before I know it, he will outgrow so many of the things that he loves now so these growing up years of this lastborn of mine are especially precious.








Was that the end? Well, not really. After dinner, we still played with bubbles and sparklers and when everything was cleared up, we went home to bathe and continued with..... Round 2 of games!

This time round, all our parents joined in so this was a special Grandparents-and-kids edition. Our parents took turns to catch the falling sticks, my mum attempted to crawl through the web maze, we had a trivia session where we asked about general knowledge questions so both the young and old could answer, our mums played Bingo with the kids and our dads bonded over beer and laughter. It was a totally awesome way to wrap up the night.


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To my dearest Ansel,

Happy turning 3! I still remember the day you kicked your way out into this world when you were barely 35 weeks old. I was so worried that you would be weak and small but you were a healthy 2.54kg for a preemie and I was just so, so thankful to bring you home. 

Since then, you've grown so fast and the last we measured, the nurse told me that you were taller than average for your age (around the 70th percentile, I think) and she couldn't tell that you were a premature baby at all, woohoo! You are the 小宝贝 of our family and everyone, including Papa, Mama and your siblings, dote on you so, so much. Well, I'm sure you know that by now and I hope you are as happy as we are to be in this humble family.

Now that you've started talking a lot, I enjoy our daily conversations and all the cute things you say. You never fail to brighten up my day and you chase away the blues whenever I am feeling low. Every time I feel sad, I just have to hold your tiny hand in mine or give you a kiss on the cheek and you make my world feel right again. Thank you for being the adorable, wonderful you and for being a truly amazing gift for our family.

I hope you've enjoyed your Spider-Man party thoroughly and made lots of happy memories. Judging by how you love to watch and re-watch your video, I think you had fun being the birthday boy and playing all the games, right? You make everything worthwhile, my dear, and for you, I would gladly climb the highest mountain.

Take your time to grow up and may you be my healthy, happy, loving and kind baby boy always. I love you to the moon and back and I always will. 

Love, 
Mama

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That marks the end of Ansel's 3rd birthday celebration! Thank you to everyone who helped to make it a success and to you for reading this post too! 

We love you, dear Ansel! 生日快乐哦!

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To see more of the action and fun happenings from Ansel's Spider-Man party, click on the video below.



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Read more on Ansel's birthday parties here: