Happiness is... getting used to the new routine

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 24, 2020

It's true to say that the pandemic has changed the way we live, behave and think. 

It has made us more appreciative of the time we get to stay home as a family, more conscious about personal hygiene and the need for social distancing, more creative in coming up with ways to pass time, more adventurous when it comes to cooking for the family, more joyful for the moments we get to be out and be close to nature, and more grateful for the opportunities to gather with our loved ones.

In June, it was still very much a stay-home period for us although the girls started going back to school on alternate weeks. We tried our best to remain home as much as we could because other than being safe than sorry, we also thought that was the responsible thing to do. Nonetheless, when Phase 2 commenced, we were overjoyed that the kids could get to see their grandparents again and the boy finally returned to his preschool after a long 3-month break too.

Life at home was pretty much run-of-the-mill for us yet I wouldn't say it was boring in the least. I do appreciate how the circuit breaker has brought us closer together and gave us much more family time to spend and treasure together. We might have to make many changes in our daily lives nowadays but family love is the one constant that keeps us going. In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about getting used to the new routine.

Staying home doesn't mean life has to be dull and boring. We are always thinking of new things to try out and in fact, I realise the kids have creative minds of their own and are pretty good at inventing new games and activities too.

Anyway, we tried making glutinous rice dumplings, both bak zhang and nyonya zhang, and we realised how hard it was to get a perfect looking one, haha. Thanks to my in-laws, I had a chance to educate the kids about this tradition and let them have a go at wrapping the rice dumplings too. We spent hours doing them and despite me trying my best to keep them nicely shaped and compact, a couple of them still failed eventually and I can only say we still have a long way to go in this. Was it fun though? Yup, tiring but very fun!

Back in our kitchen, the chef hubby continued to impress us with his creative mind and culinary skills as he whipped up yummy meals for us on the days he was home. Yup, he has started working his usual long hours on some days but could work from home on others and these were the days that we extra cherished (it meant the kids had a playmate and I didn't need to cook!). We loved the tasty chicken rice where the chicken was cooked perfectly, the delicious spread of juicy wagyu steak, chicken chop and pan fried salmon, and even the simple but yummy bak chor mee was much appreciated too.

As for me, I'm really not that good a chef but I do try my best to make sure the kids are well fed and get to enjoy my simple homecooked meals. Well, at least I tried something new this month - bacon wrapped asparugus and homemade lor mai gai - both of which got devoured by the kids and earned their praise so I think I passed, haha.

The little sister is still the best helper in the kitchen because she totally loves cooking and looks forward to it. Nowadays, I leave the chopping of the garlic and shallots to her because she can do a pretty good job at it already without my supervision. Well, hopefully she can soon learn to cook an entire meal for the family on her own? That would be superb, wouldn't it?

We've been continuing with our online art lessons at heART Studio and it's a good thing that the kids still get to draw and learn. Of course, they were definitely more thrilled when Phase 2 was announced because it meant that lessons could resume and they could see their teachers in person again. That said, it took quite some time for the 4yo boy to get used to the classroom setting because he was after all on a long break for the past few months. He refused to enter the classroom initially and only did so on the condition that the door would not be closed and that I would remain in his sight. Haha. This boy is still so sticky and demanding for attention yet I wouldn't trade this growing up phase for anything.

The kids also looked forward to their online interactive Heguru classes and as usual, loved all the puzzle solving, song singing and fun memory games. I appreciated the fact that the teachers decided to hold off from reopening the centre for a couple of weeks even after Phase 2 commenced. Yup, our kids' safety is still of foremost priority and I am also confident that they will work on making sure that the safety precautions are in place before resuming lessons.

We've been trying to carve out time for family exercise every night, even if it is a short 20-minute or half an hour session. The kids and I still love to dance but we've also been picking up a bit of yoga here and there too. Okay, that was before I injured my right shoulder (probably tore a ligament somewhere) and had to take a rest for a few weeks. Still, I encouraged them to continue every night because we are truly putting in effort to make healthy living our way of life. The good news is that the hubby and I actually lost weight during CB instead of gaining even though we still had our share of snacking and watching Netflix when the kids had gone to bed. Phew!

Home-based learning continued for all three kids and while I had to accompany the boy for his lessons and guide him through the classwork, the girls are pretty much quite independent nowadays though they still holler for me whenever they have a question that they can't solve. It might be weird but I actually love knowing that the kids are home and learning at their own pace, giving us much more time to spend together.

Sleeping is usually a luxury that we parents don't have much of but I do think I did mange to clock in quite a good number of hours of sleep in the past month. I think the slower pace of life did us good and I was very thankful that I could take short naps in the afternoon too, especially when the hubby was around to help with the grocery buying and dinner preparation. Yup, 我是幸福的.

On days that I was alone with the kids and too lazy to cook, we would order takeaways and that was fine with me too. Yup, fellow mums, please don't be too hard on yourself and know that you deserve a break from time to time, yeah? I also let the kids and myself eat plenty of ice cream and we snacked together during our Friday movie nights - which was something that they kids always looked forward to.

Art and craft is always a good way to pass time and now that we seem to have more of it on our hands, we try to find opportunities to do more hands-on projects and let our creativity flow. While the big girl has fallen in love with nagomi art and would willingly use two hours to complete one artwork (she did the Forever Friends card for Papa, cute, right?), the little sister likes to make use of recycled materials to create something new (see her 'trophy' using a toilet roll, milk carton lid, straws and more) while the little brother had fun playing with clay and mixing the colours together.

For the first time, the little sister received her Education Merit Award and she was most thrilled about it. Even though the award ceremony had to be done online due to the pandemic, she was still very happy and proud to be wearing her uniform that day as she listened to our MP giving a speech via Zoom. The hubby and I told her how proud of her we were and I also dedicated a beautiful bouquet of flowers to her to remind her to always bloom where she is planted, regardless of the environment or circumstances.

We managed to gather with our parents to celebrate Father's Day since it was in Phase 2 but instead of crowding with others in restaurants or even attempting to eat zi char at kopitiams, we decided to cook and have them over at our cosy home. It was nothing fanciful yet everything turned out to be fabulous, especially since it was such a long time since we got together. We ended off the night with a cake cutting celebration where the kids presented handmade cards and gifts to their Papa and granddads.

It took me a long time to do so but I am finally able to display the kids' personalised pearl portraits side by side, woohoo! Yup, this circuit breaker made me snap out of my procrastination and provided me with the motivation to complete projects that I wanted to a long time ago. Did it do the same for you too? I had quite an emotional morning doing this and ended up in tears (read here to find out why) but it only made me realise how blessed and loved I am by these kids.

So yup, finally all three are done! Yay! They are now proudly on display in our living room and the kids love seeing their baby pictures and knowing that each frame is a symbol of my unconditional love for them. Three kids, triply blessed.

How long has it been since the kids last visited the playground? Well, definitely a long time. We are still reluctant to bring them to crowded places but we do try to find secluded playgrounds and visit when the sun is shining bright to make sure that we are the only ones around. It's awesome that they get to run around, perspire and release some of the energy that has been pent up over the last few months.

For the first time in a long while, we also made our way to the beach and chose one which we knew would be quite desserted compared to the more popular ones. Indeed, we found a quiet spot, built some sandcastles, caught a fish, hunted for bugs, soaked our feet in the seawater and guess what? We even spotted a raft of otters swimming past us and the kids said we were so lucky!

Yup, I have no doubt about that. We are definitely blessed and fortunate to be where we are. May we always remember to count our blessings and be thankful for the little things in our lives. Till more updates next month!


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