Happiness is... balancing work and play

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 16, 2024
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I've always believed in the importance of having a good, healthy work-life balance. For all the time we spend working hard at our jobs, we should spend the same, if not more, time on doing the things we enjoy and being with our loved ones.

Back in Sweden, the hubby usually came home at dinner time when he was not sailing and it was a period of time when we spent lots of family together, including travelling and sightseeing around Scandinavia. Alas, it is not the case now in Singapore and we seldom get to see him at all on weekdays - which is also why weekends are so precious to us. 

But then again, work-life balance doesn't just apply to those holding full-time jobs, right? In my view, it also applies to me as a stay-at-home mum and my kids who are studying. What it means to me is that we need to regularly take time off from our 'jobs' - for me, it is doing chores and taking care of the home, and for the kids, it means doing their homework and revision - and pursue our hobbies, find time to relax and enjoy family time together.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about balancing work and play.


Indoor playgrounds are always a hit with the kids and although we've been visiting them less frequently than before due to the escalating costs, we still make it a point to have some fun here every once in a while. The younger ones still love whizzing down slides, engaging in sensory play, playing tag and ball games. 

Having Ansel also means that all the older siblings love to play with him and he gives them a reason to be 'kiddy' again. For instance, Ariel is in the adolescence stage and sometimes, she wonders if she is too 'old' or big for such playgrounds already. I know that she still loves to play but the awkwardness is there, especially now that she just had a growth spurt and has grown much taller. Having a toddler as her younger brother cuts down the awkwardness and she now has a reason to climb onto the play structures, go on slides and jump into ball pools as she plays and looks after him. It's the same when we visit Legoland and the older ones love accompanying Ansel on the kiddy rides because he is always so happy and it warms our hearts to see the joy on his face too.

So when people wonder how it is having a rather huge age gap between the older kids and youngest one, I think it works out perfectly in the end - such is the wonder of life. Ansel has been a blessing to our family - everyone adores him! - and having a fourth kid has been nothing less than a privilege and an absolute joy.

I have to admit that.... my kids sleep very late. And by late, I don't mean 10pm or 11pm because that is considered early in our family. We sleep at past midnight (sometimes even on school days) and when we have our movie nights, it can go even later than that. I definitely don't advocate this habit and I do let them take naps in the day if they are tired. So yes, I am not a strict mum when it comes to bedtime and in fact, too lenient that I end up having to nag at them one by one to go to bed. 

But that also means we are totally cool with hanging out and in fact, we even go out for late night suppers too when we are in the mood. We went for McDonalds' supper one night and the kids were jumping for joy because I was the one who suggested it even though they had school the next day.  These are the kind of fun, heartwarming memories that will linger in our hearts when we are old, right? 

I am also not strict when it comes to drinking cold drinks and desserts. Ask the kids and you'll know - they still get to eat ice cream and frozen yoghurt even when they are coughing. Don't ask me why, it's hard to say 'No' unless the whole family is sick which is usually not the case. And if it's only one or two kids that are feeling under the weather, it's also hard to ask the whole family to skip desserts or cold drinks totally, especially when coughs can last for long since germs spread so easily in school.

Since Sweden days, I've also make it a point to let the kids recover on their own when they are sick and will only intervene with over-the-counter medication if it gets really severe or prolonged. I know many people will disagree with me, even my mum and mum-in-law wonder why I don't just feed the kids medicine once they show any sign that they are unwell. But it's just our way of life and I think some habits and beliefs which are ingrained can be quite hard to change.

Anyway, we love going to Yole for frozen yoghurt every once in a while and I love such mum-and-kids outings (the hubby is never around and anyway he is not a yoghurt fan too) where we end up chatting about anything under the sun.

Do your kids love playing at arcades and claw machines? Mine do, and if plushies are any indication of how much we've played, here's a pretty good idea - of course, there are accumulated over the years. We were clearing up these stuffed toys and putting some in bags for donation. I always tell the kids 旧的不去,新的不来 and remind them that every time they get to play, they need to remember how fortunate they are and not take everything for granted. 

With the teen daughter fast growing up and catching up with my height, I find it such a challenge to guide and even communicate with her at times. Times are not like before and I think we parents have a lot of homework to do when it comes to understanding teens, being updated on trends like kpop, trying to speak in their lingo and reminding ourselves to be more like a friend they can count on than a supervisor who bosses them around.

I was happy that Angel and I found time to do a mini photoshoot for our new Gaston Luga bag which was also a gift for her 14th birthday. It has always been my wish to be BFF with my daughters and sometimes, that holds true but on other days, it still feels like a distant dream. Yes, I definitely have to keep working hard on that. With secondary school being so busy along with not just academics but CCAs and time spent with friends, I cherish the time we get to be together and make sure that this big girl of mine gets time to relax too.

October marks Children's Day and it's the time of the year when I insist on doing something handmade for the kids. This time, I made pop up cards for them and they were very amazed by the cards even though I told them I learnt all from YouTube. Haha. I earnestly hope to keep up with this tradition for many years to come, even when the kids are all grown up and not really kids anymore. It's a token of love from me to them and I hope they will remember this feeling for a long time to come.

I enjoy my one-to-one mornings with the toddler since he still doesn't go to school yet. Most of the time, we are at home but sometimes, I like to take him out on dates and go to places that we haven't been to. This was our first time eating at Ajumma's and it turned out to be so much yummier than I thought, and the two of us had a really nice mum-and-son morning.

I'm not that concerned with academics when it comes to the younger kids and I also don't usually make them write or teach them phonics at home. What we do is read together and that happens every night before bedtime. But, I also love to play with Ansel and we will do puzzles or play card games nearly every day. I also used recycled materials to make 'educational toys' for him and this one was done using cardboard, poms poms and milk bottle lids so he could learn colour recognition and practise his fine motor skills.

What is the highlight of October for us year after year? Well, it has to be..... Halloween!

It is an occasion that my kids eagerly look forward to and this year, we had a Kidzania themed party where the kids tried out different 'occupations' and had lots of fun. Read all about the party and watch our video highlights here.

Just so you know, our party took place right in the middle of Ariel's final year exams and she still had a couple more important papers to sit for. But, that wasn't a good enough reason for us to postpone or cancel the party because I know it meant so much to her - she's usually the most enthusiastic one when it comes to Halloween and and she gives me a Thank You card to thank me for my effort. I wanted her to remember that life is so much more than tests and exams and that her happiness means everything to me.

Looking back, she didn't do as well as she could for her exams and for the first time, failed to make the awards list in her class. Did that make me lament letting her party and have a ball of a time that Halloween weekend? Well, not in the least. We had so much fun and made so many priceless memories and there honestly isn't even a tinge of regret. It's going to be her PSLE year next year but beside the revision and hard work, I am pretty sure we will still be playing and having parties because it's all about striking a balance, right? So we continue to say 'No' to tuition and 'Yes' to fun (I hope I won't have to eat my words next year, haha).

Those big smiles, those happy faces, those precious family moments - they fuel me and make me more motivated to continue to inject fun into our lives and make memories that last.

So if you are reading this, do remember that we all need to let our hair down from to time and be able to relax, rest, play and have fun without feeling any guilt. It's okay to have our me-time, it's okay to feel like a kid, it's okay to wanna retreat into our caves once in a while and do things that our hearts desire. It's also okay if our kids don't ace their exams, can't score full marks for spelling or basically forgot how to write the bulk of the Chinese words that they have learnt before - it happened to my kids and guess what, I used to be a Chinese teacher and hold a Minor Degree in Chinese but my kids don't seem to share my aptitude or passion for the language. 

Oh well, 很多事情只要看开一点,就会开心一点,因为到了最终,必然发现快乐和幸福才是最最最重要的

Till the next post of "Happiness is..."!

A one-of-a-kind bus staycation - Angel is 14!

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 09, 2024
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As the kids grow older, birthdays gradually become more of intimate celebrations than themed parties. Remember how we held DIY parties such as Sylvanian Tea Party, Spy Party, Unicorn Party, Tangled Party for Angel and her friends when she was younger? Yup, those were the good old days and I hope they left behind beautiful memories for her in her growing up years.

Now that she is a teenager, she has outgrown the need for lavish parties and huge gatherings. So while I let have her own celebration with her friends, I still make a point year after year that we spend time together as a family and create lasting memories to remember her special day.

Last year, we did something truly unique and that was to have a 2D1N staycation in a BUS! Well, it was actually two buses since we are a big family and you can imagine the squeals of delight when the kids first stepped on board. I mean, they were all bewildered when I told them in the morning that we were going to sleep in a bus that night so they were really surprised to see that the buses were 'just like hotels'!

Here's sharing all about our fun experience at The Bus Collective.


Located conveniently at Changi Village, The Bus Collective offers a one-of-a-kind stay experience in 20 refurbished single decker buses. These are retired, decommissioned public buses previously owned by SBS Transit, yes, how cool is that, right? I love the idea that these buses have been repurposed into hotel rooms and it's the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Changi has a rustic, quaint charm and the fact that it sits away from the hustle and bustle of the city is a plus point for me. 

Let's show you the interior of our buses, woohoo! While one bus featured a bunk bed and two single beds, the other had a unique round queen bed and even a bathtub. Yes, looks quite luxurious, right? We were so blown away and amazed by the fact that these buses had been transformed into 'hotel rooms' and just so you know, there are curtains all around so privacy would not be an issue.

The best part about these buses is that the driver's seat has actually been left intact, complete with gear, steering wheel and dashboard. The kids spent lots of time fidgeting with the buttons, pretending to be bus drivers and ferrying the family from place to place. The boys, not surprisingly, especially loved it and they would spend time 'driving' before they slept and right after they woke.

At every staycation, we will engage in family activities and spend time bonding together. My kids love outdoor activities so this time, we decided to go cycling since bicycles are provided for guests at the resort. The three older kids managed to find a bike for each of them, though Asher's one was actually too tiny for him, and Ansel was snug on the baby seat behind me. Let's gooooo!

We ended up enjoying the cycling so much that not only did we stay out for hours, we even did it twice, once on the first day and the other after we checked out on the second day. The hubby was with us first time round so we took some nice family shots with the planes that were constantly flying above us - we were in Changi, remember? - and went to the playground to let the kids have some fun. While Ansel happily played with the sand, the hubby taught the rest of us to jump out from a moving swing and it was a cheap thrill that got us squealing in delight and laughing at each other.

On the second day, it was a mum-and-kids outing and we set off in search of 'Changi Mount Fuji' that the staff told us about. I must say it was a far ride and we ended up cycling for more than 2-3 hours to and fro and clocking more than 10km. Yup, that was quite an achievement for sure! We ended up at Changi Bay Point which is a really scenic place with an awesome coastal view, what made the kids even more excited was seeing mudskippers, crabs and other marine creatures near the rocks. 

Guess what happened on the way back? Ansel fell asleep! His head would keep bobbing and not lean against my back so it was really hard for me to cycle, haha. That was tough! I think it was even tougher for Asher too because after cycling on the small bike for so many hours, including going up steep slopes, he was panting and feeling lethargic already but thankfully, he didn't give up and cycled all the way back to the resort. Yes, we made it and also returned with many priceless memories too.

We were supposed to go on a nature walk with a tour guide but alas due to the presence of lightning and bad weather, the trip got cancelled. Not wanting to let the downpour dampen our spirits, we armed ourselves with ponchos and umbrellas and decided to brave the rain, woohoo! The hubby, who works in Changi Naval Base, became our replacement tour guide and even though most of what he told us was about military and war related stuff, it was still nice to take a walk together. 

We took photos at Inscription of the Island, which is the finger statue, we walked for long to find a famous heritage tree, we picked up saga seeds along the way, we saw a handful of hornbills and we also took a leisure stroll by the beach before making our way back to the bus. The rain had cleared up in the end so it actually felt nice to enjoy the cooling breeze and I am glad we didn't give up on taking a nature walk.

Back at the bus, the highlight of our night was having a family barbecue! Yes, there are barbecue pits right outside the bus for you to utilise and there is a sink for easy washing too. The kids were excited to help to cook and we tucked into yummy food like chicken wings, sambal sotong, garlic bread, sausages, satay and more, yummy! The kids wanted marshmallows so we made our way to Changi Village to get them, along with some drinks and snacks for our movie night later. Yes, we always watch movies during our staycations.

Of course, no birthday is ever complete without a cake cutting ceremony so we made sure we did it in the comfort of our bus. We bought the big girl a chocolate cake that she loved and it still amazes me to know that she has turned 14 in the blink of an eye.

We sang the birthday song, we snuggled on the bed to watch a movie, we indulged in unhealthy snacks and we spent a night together with our hearts full. But, trust me when I say that beneath these happy pictures, there were plenty of bickers, tantrums and even meltdowns that had to be dealt with and it was just another day in the parenting journey. Still, we enjoyed this unique staycation and it's the first time that we slept overnight in buses and it's a story we will be able to tell our friends and remember fondly for years to come.


To my dearest Angel, happy turning 14! You are my pride, my joy and I love you with every beat of my heart. Venturing into teenage years isn't easy and I know there are many changes to adapt to and sometimes, our emotions can get the better of us. While you are learning your way through adolescence, so am I. It's something very new to me too so forgive me when I make mistakes or fail to be a good mum to you.

I hope you know how much you mean to me and I still remember the happy, fun days we spent in Sweden from the day you were born till you were nearly three years old. It was just you, me and Papa (actually, it was you and me most of the time) against the world and we were together every minute of every day, making memories, learning new things, enjoying the scenic town in Karlskrona and exploring as much of Europe as we could.

Let's hope we can one day bring you back to the place where you were born and I will have so, so many stories to tell you. Happy birthday, my baby girl, may your days be filled with love and joy and may you grow up to be a kind, helpful, caring and wonderful soul. I love you so much!



That marks the end of Angel's 14th birthday celebration and a fun-filled, out of this word family staycation. I live for memories and I am so thankful we just made another drawer of them to store in my heart for many years to come.

Till the next birthday celebration!


To see more happenings and highlights from our stay, watch the video below.


Read more on Angel's birthday parties here:

Angel is 13 - A one-of-a-kind bus staycation
Angel is 12 - A Surprise Staycation
Angel is 11 - It's a Magic Party
Angel is 10 - A Unicorn Party
Angel is 3 - My Bubbly Bunny
Angel is 1 - It's a RAINBOW Party

Happiness is... cherishing family time while it lasts

Posted by ~Summer~ on March 26, 2024
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I learnt this saying recently and when I read about the meaning, tears welled up in my eyes uncontrollably. Yup, I've been having quite an emotional struggle recently as a mum and it's been a rough patch in this parenting journey. The saying literally means that the tree wishes to be quiet but the wind will not cease, the child wants to show filial piety but the parents are already gone. It is a reminder that things don't always go our way in life and there are many things that are out of our control. What we can do is hold on tightly to our loved ones and make sure we cherish them while we still can. 

It's something that I reiterate to my kids every so often, to 珍惜眼前人, to make the most of every moment and not live to regret it when we lose the opportunity. I know it's easier to be said than done, especially when every day seems like a mad rush to complete the never-ending tasks on our to-do list. But, it IS very important to spend time with the people who matter to us, especially our loved ones who are growing older day by day.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about cherishing family time while it lasts. 


Every mid-autumn, I will bring the kids out to a park and have fun with lanterns, sparklers and at the playground. We will bring along mooncakes and some tea too, and it's something I look forward to year after year.

I'm not sure how long this will last because from the way I see it, the elder children are growing up fast and will outgrow many 'kiddy' things very soon. It is my hope that they will not be consumed by screens but will always have a child in them. In any case, we are never too old for some fun and spending time to bond as a family is not something you should grow out of, no matter how many years pass us by.

This year, we had a minor accident when Ansel went to touch the hot part of the sparkler right after it burnt out. He suffered a burn which swelled up to become this huge blister so I had to bring him to the doctor after that. He was really good in letting me apply the medication daily and didn't cry when the blister accidentally burst. So I guess we all learn from mistakes like this, both parent and child. Trust me, after 15 years of being a mum and with 4 kids under my care, I still make mistakes every single day. 

We were supposed to go for the Mandai Wildlife Run and the kids and I were looking forward to this mum-and-kids bonding day. Alas, the weather was not kind to us that day and after waiting for nearly an hour, we were regrettably informed that the run was cancelled. The good news was we were allowed to enter River Wonders earlier than the public and we could also hop over to the zoo for some sightseeing too.

So we might not have run 5km as we had planned to (we would have probably walked more than half of that), but we spent the entire morning and afternoon admiring wildlife and marine creatures and it was still a day well spent. I simply love taking the kids out on my own and it's something I cherish very much before they all grow up and lead their own separate lives.

My Dad turned a year older this month and we had a yummy Japanese meal with him. The ironic thing was we had actually planned to treat him to dim sum or some chinese delight but the restaurants were under renovation so this was totally an impromptu decision. I expected it to be an average meal or less, especially when the menu seemed limited. It turned out to be so much more delicious that what we thought and even my parents gave it the thumbs up too.

After dinner, we went to my parent's home for the cake cutting ceremony and my Dad was happy to receive this huge collage from the kids and I, which included photos and handwritten messages. You know, it's really not the food, but the company that matters and I am glad that my kids spend plenty of time bonding with their grandparents month after month.

Hello, Skechers Friendship Walk! We might not have done the Zoo Run but we did complete a 5km walk in our comfy Skechers kicks. I always look forward to such family events and it's such a good, healthy way to wake everyone early on a weekend and spend time together. The hubby was feeling sick that day so he actually dropped out of the walk very early in the race and the kids were left with me.

With a toddler who wanted to be carried for a good part of the journey and a mum who stopped to take photos here and there, we didn't realise that eventually, we were the last to complete the walk and last to receive our medals. Haha, better late than never! It was already an achievement, to me, that we finished the entire walk and I was so grateful that we crossed the finishing line together.

We've been going to less movies these days but this was one that couldn't be missed - Paw Patrol The Mighty Movie! The eldest had to skip it due to CCA but I also think that she was happy to spend time running with friends instead of watching an animated film with us, even if it was one that she used to love as a small kid. For now, the other kids still love watching such shows so I'm gonna treasure these opportunities as much as I can. I personally thought the story about Skye was such an inspiring one!

Family meals are still a big part of our life and even though I don't cook on a daily basis, we still eat together every day. I might not like the washing up but I love listening to the kids' stories - bickers are part and parcel too - and it's a way for me to understand more about what goes on in their lives.

These are the memories that I believe they will hold dear when they grow up and move on one day, and hopefully they will have homecooked food with their kids and relish in the joy of family meals.

I seldom go for gatherings with my friends because I'm usually so preoccupied with the kids - yup, and I wouldn't say that is healthy but neither is it wrong. It's just ultimately a personal choice. However, I do make it a point to meet up with my bunch of jie meis on their birthdays especially since 2023 is the year when we all hit the big 4.

My bestie chose to have a karaoke party to celebrate her special night and it was a crazy girls' night out complete with an overwhelming amount of food, lots of booze, high-pitched singing and nostalgic oldies. I do miss those days when we would party till dawn and go for 'supper' which seems more like breakfast, and those memories will always stay in my heart.

Last but not least, the highlight of the month had to be our Legoland trip where we brought my Dad and Mum there. It was my Dad's first visit and I had brought my Mum here when the park just opened, which was over a decade ago already. So this trip was one that we highly anticipated and to save on cost, we stayed in a nearby apartment together instead of the costly Legoland Hotel.

I simply love seeing how my parents were spontaneous to go on the rides with the kids, including trains, boats and even roller coasters - my Mum did it with the elder three as Ansel was stuck with me. My Dad said their hearts wouldn't be able to take it much longer and he already opted out of the more thrilling rides, which made me cherish each and every such opportunity to bring them out even more. 

The only regret was most of us were feeling sick on this trip, especially Ansel who was having a cough and fever, so the kids were whiny and Ansel was basically my superglue from the start to end. My parents also saw and heard the kids bickering from time to time and they must have wondered how I can tolerate it day in day out. Oh well, welcome to my life, Papa Mama. But, trust that I will try my best to raise and nurture your grandkids well because it's the only thing I do every day in my life now.

So we made a promise to visit the parks again next year in 2024 (guess what, by the time of writing this in March, we already did!) as an extended family and I also made a resolution to do it as many times as possible as long as the kids and my parents are willing to come along. I know the kids will all outgrow this wonderland one day but when that day comes, we would have made an invaluable treasure trove of memories that will be deeply etched in our hearts.

That marks the end of a memorable September for us which included lots of happy family time that we are greatly thankful for. 懂得感恩,不忘珍惜

Till the next post!