Happiness is... not taking things for granted

Posted by ~Summer~ on May 11, 2020
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March 2020 was a time before the circuit breaker began.

For us, it was a month filled with trips to the playground, outdoor activities, family outings, gatherings, visiting new places, taking walks in the park, dining out as a family and more. Yup, all that sounded very usual, actually. That was, until we were halfway through the month and started to understand that as much as we wanted to, it was tough and in fact, irresponsible on our part if we were to continue with our normal lives.

Before the announcement came and rules were put in place, we had already begun to stay at home more and cancelled family birthday celebrations and gatherings with friends in order to play our part in flattening the curve. Now that I look back, I can't help but wonder if after all this, we will all learn to cherish life a little more and treasure the simple things that we get to do, like taking a stroll at the beach, eating at a hawker centre or just wandering around aimlessly in a park.

I really hope we do. In this "Happiness is..." post, it's about not taking things for granted and appreciating the little things in life.

Our first day of March began in a warm, colourful and creative manner. While the hubby was out playing football, the kids and I scooted off to the park (well, they rode on their scooters while I walked on my legs) to have a fun art and craft session. Thanks to this kit sent to us by the team behind Play Beyond The Screen - a cause that I totally advocate and believe in, we had a good 2-hour session doing finger painting, sand art, making play dough and threading pasta necklaces.

For us, it's always more about the process more than the outcome and the kids totally enjoyed the session because it gave them the opportunity to stretch their imagination, get their hands dirty, be little artists and, the best part, get away from the screens. They told me at the end "Mama, we don't need phones or TV to be happy, there are so many fun things we can do and we also have each other to play with!" and I hope that this takeaway lesson will stay in their hearts forever.

We love staycations because it makes us feel as if we are on holiday even if it is a short 2D1N trip. The kids were over the moon whenever they know we are going on a staycay and it really doesn't matter where we go, how big is the room or what games there will be. Basically, all they need is a bed, a small pool, some tidbits and a movie night to be happy. Haha. Yup, that is what we do on every staycation and I love the feeling of being snuggled up with these little ones and enjoying the comfy bed. Read our review of Park Hotel Clarke Quay here.

During the staycation, I managed to sneak in a two-hour one-on-one session with the big girl while the hubby was sleeping with the other two. Yay! Right, we were actually doing a photoshoot for a kids' makeup brand but that also helped us to spend some quality mother-and-daughter time together as we tried out the products and decided on what poses worked best. This tween of mine is growing up so fast and look, she's no longer a baby girl but a fine young lady already. I honestly hope we can get to spend more of such time together because I think it helps me to understand her more and lets her know how much she is loved, no matter how tough being a firstborn might be.

Who would expect that going on a swing playing in the park would become a luxury? The kids have been yearning to go outdoor and have fun again, be it just playing tag, climbing up and down, playing on the see-saw or just stopping in our footsteps to hunt for bugs and creatures. We miss our time in Fort Canning park, or any park for that matter, and hopefully when the time comes when we can run in the fields and embrace the sun rays again, they will understand how precious that can be. For now, let's just hang in there and let our home be our playground, okay?

Believe it or not, March was also the first time we had a family meal in Hai Di Lao. Not cheap! Still, we enjoyed the good food, delicious soup, silky beancurd and fresh fruits. The kids were so inspired by the La Mian shifu that they went home and immediately used the noodles in their toy kitchen to mimic him and do the same for their Rainbow Café customers. Haha. Too cute.

When was the last time you climbed up to the tip of the spiderweb and touched the highest point of the pole? Mine must have been decades ago. Haha. I wasn't sure what got into me that day but I wanted to do it with my kids so up we went, one step after another. Yup, I almost wanted to scream "I'm the queen of the world!" but stopped myself in time. Still, it was an achievement and standing on one foot is no easy feat, okay. Lol. The next time we go to a playground, which is hopefully soon, I am so going to remind myself to join in the playing with the kids instead of doing the watching by the side or mindless scrolling on the phone. Be truly present and seize the moment, Mama.

I had been wanting to let the kids try rollerblading for the longest time so after lots of nagging and persuasion on my part, the hubby finally brought us to Decathlon so we could get them their skates. Yay! We spent around $200 for three full sets of equipment, including the skates, helmets and protection gear which I thought was quite a good deal.

So, one Sunday while the hubby was still sleeping, I decided to be garang and brought out all three kids along with all the barang (it rhymes ley)! I even brought isotonic drinks and fruits so they could take a break in between too. Not bad, right? My instructions to them was simple - try, fall, get up and try again! I think they must have fallen at least 100 times when combined but that was also the fun of learning too. The girls were pretty swift in getting the hang of it and they enjoyed the cruising feeling too.

As for the boy, he was a little hesitant initially and let's just say it can be quite tricky to even stand on your own two feet when you are afraid. There goes my back. Yup, I had to hold him to balance and walk to and fro for some time before he was willing to let go of me. But lo and behold, he did and he was so much braver than I thought he would be, even picking himself up after umpteen falls and saying he wanted to go again. I think rollerblading is such a good way to train their resilience and build their confidence too, so we will definitely be doing this often.

We also tried out another eatery for the first time ever and that was Shake Shack! Yup, I think we are quite outdated one and we usually wait for the craze to be over before even attempt to try anything that has been much raved about. It was really not bad and I loved mushroom burger and root beer float. Let's see when we will come back again, yeah?

We made our way to Jewel because the kids wanted to visit Changi Experience Studio, again! Read all about our first experience here. The hubby saw that there was a half price promotion going on for attractions in Jewel till end of March and it was free to visit the Canopy Park too so we thought that would be a good place to visit during the school holidays. Yup, that was the time when we could still go out every day during the holidays and perhaps we didn't cherish all that freedom as much as we should have.

Look who got into the top 10 at the Smile Challenge? Woohoo! We had such a fun time doing this again and again and for some reason, Angel easily made it to the top few, I barely made it and the rest struggled to get decent scores. Haha. Still, it was all the fun and laughter we had that mattered at the end of the day, right?

We also spent at least an hour in Harmony Garden because these kids wanted to put up a skit and dance performance for us. It was really sweet to watch, especially when they came together in a group hug and fell to the ground in a pile. Haha. Others must have wondered what this family was doing but for me, I just wanted to soak in that moment, enjoy the soothing music and feel the bliss in the air.

We haven't been to an indoor playground for a long time already so when our friend suggested going to Kiztopia to catch up during the holidays, the kids were so happy! I was wondering if the big girl would find it all too boring and childish for her but to my surprise, she was the first one who went to the dressing room to try on costumes, she joined in the mass dance session and she also enjoyed playing with her siblings and friends in the ball pit, on the slides, on the trampolines and in the pretend supermarket and café. Phew. I'm pretty sure she will outgrow these very soon but I hope she will always find joy in playing with her younger sister and brother and never lose the child in her.

Gardens by the Bay is one of our favourite places to visit and we made use of our annual pass to visit it on a weekend when the hubby was around and could ferry us, along with all our scooters, there. We went up to the Skyway and within five minutes were told to come down due to lightning but hey, at least we got a good view and a nice family famfie. So yay for that.

We saw cherry blossoms up close in Flower Dome and it seemed like the kids were as interested in them as they were in cacti too. Okay, to admit, I don't think they are as keen in plants as they are in animals but it always feels good to walk around here and just enjoy the blossoms, the air con and each other's company.

If given a choice, these kids will surely opt for outdoor time than indoor. That is why we love bringing them to nature reserves too, even if that means we have to slap on sunscreen and insect repellent, and still suffer from bites, every single time. We had a good time exploring Sungei Buloh and what made them most excited was spotting all the insects, squirrels, fishes and anything that moved.

I had a one-on-one morning with this boy when the sisters went back to school after the holidays. We travelled all the way to Sentosa so that he could have a fun time in KidZania. It was his first time visiting the city without the sisters and I had to coax and assure him before he was willing to take a leap of faith. You did it, my boy, and I'm so proud of you. The good thing was there was no crowd at all that day and he amazingly managed to complete 8 jobs within 3.5 hours, fwah! We had to rush back after lunch because I didn't want the sisters to be home alone but it was definitely a good, fun-filled morning for us.

Towards the last two weeks of March, we started staying home more because that was what the government and frontliners (you have no idea how thankful we are for all your hard work and bravery) advised everyone to do in order to be socially responsible, right? With all the reports on the pandemic coming in from all over the world, it was then we realised that things were taking a turn for the worse on our island too and we had to get ourselves mentally prepared.

I didn't want the kids to dread staying home with me and see it as being cooped. On the contrary, I hope they would enjoy our time together, stay positive and see it as an opportunity to learn, bond and have fun.

Besides involving them more in chores at home, we also tried to cook more so that we didn't have to head out to dabao - ordering takeaway is a last resort for us. As simple as my homecooked meals are, the kids do appreciate the time and effort and I know these are the things that will become fond memories of their childhood, like how I remember my Mum's simple dishes too. Yup, so thank you for being my littler helpers and please help me to wash the sinkful of dishes soon too, okay?

We have been playing our The Small T tangram puzzles often and I love how it makes all of us think. It's quite amazing how we managed to solve nearly all of them in a week when we put our minds together. I hope these kids will always have a thirst for puzzles and never be daunted by good challenge.

Anyone loves oats too? I'm so glad we were introduced to the goodness of oats a few years ago and nowadays, we will make overnight oats for breakfast too from time to time. Okay, the kids always love to add in some semi sweet chocolate chips in their oats but I guess that is fine, right? I'm always happy to see them eating a good breakfast because I think it helps to start our day well.

We managed to make it to the swimming pool one last time before circuit breaker commenced but that doesn't mean we had to stop our water play back at home too. Well, we might not have a huge bathtub but we do have this tiny baby tub which the kids still love. I can't believe it has been with us for over a decade and that we actually brought it back all the way from Sweden. I was tempted to donate it on a few occasions but now that I look back, I am glad I didn't because these two kids still love to squeeze in it together and have a fun playtime. The little sister misses her swimming class a lot but she also understands the importance of staying home for now. I'm just happy to see that she is able to make the most of what she has and that she loves coming up with self-invented games to play with her brother too.

What's one of our favourite pastime at home? Well, of course it is dancing! You've seen clips of us dancing on IG and FB and I am so happy to have these kakis who love to move and groove to the beat with me. It doesn't matter how funny we look or how unprofessional we are; we are just happy to dance together and have a good mum-and-kids workout. In fact, we had so much fun dancing that we made it to national TV in March too, did you manage to catch that?

Yup, I'm talking about our interview on Ch 8 Frontline 前线追踪, which you can read and watch here. We were invited to share our views on COVID-19 and describe the activities we had been doing at home to keep the kids occupied. I am so thankful that we had a chance to inspire fellow parents and encourage them to get through this tough period too, even if it was only one or two of you.

As for the kids, they were excited to be featured on TV yet were so stressed out during the interview that one was super nervous, one broke down and one didn't want to talk. Haha. It's never as easy as it seems. Yet, I find it an incredible learning opportunity for them because it allowed them to 开开眼界and understand the hard work behind every production. It also made them realise they had room for improvement when it came to speaking in front of an audience, calming their nerves and having self confidence.

Once the interview part was over, the rest was easy because we just had to be ourselves and do what we do on a normal day. We 'camped' in our tent, did pretend play, folded the laundry, cooked a couple of dishes, played the piano and danced our hearts out too. None of it was rehearsed and all of it was real. My mum and mil were saying "Why you go on TV never make up!!" Well, guess I just wanted to be as real as I could be and not be afraid to bare my heart, or my face.

Family gatherings always bring much joy for us, especially the kids, who love being with their grandparents and cousins. While we abstained from big group gatherings, we still had a mini celebration for my mil on her birthday in the last week of March. That was done in the comfort of our home over a steamboat dinner and a carrot cake - which was apparently the only cake the hubby could lay his hands on that day. Words can never describe how thankful we are to have our parents by our side, knowing that they are safe and well.

That's a wrap for March and I guess you can already guess what's coming up in April. Yup, stay home, stay home and stay home. Hopefully I can still do a worthy post to share with you on that soon. Till then, please take care, stay safe and be positive too, yeah?


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