Happiness is... realising you don't need much to be happy

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 18, 2020
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If there's one good thing that came out of the pandemic for me, it is the realisation that happiness can be very simple and doesn't have to take much.

You see, being forced to stay at home made me realise that a messy, dirty house can still be considered a paradise because it is filled with love and lots of laughter. Having to go through home-based learning allowed me to see how tough schoolwork was for the kids and how they have been trying their best already. Not being able to visit attractions or go for holidays made us reinvent the games we play at home and these are usually made out of the things we already have - all we need is some imagination.

Furthermore, family time has always been highly valued and deeply cherished by each one of us. With the circuit breaker, it meant that the navy hubby was around more than before and that was something the kids loved and appreciated immensely. Well, he had a taste of what it meant to face three kids 24/7 and he realised that was not an easy feat too. Haha. For me, I was grateful to just spend more family time together and be able to have yummy, homecooked meals whipped up by the hubby because it gave me a welcome break from the kitchen too.

With all the kids being year end babies, the fact that we are still limiting gatherings to five pax and the consideration of the risk we pose to others meant that we decided to keep all our celebrations to a minimum this year. For starters, our first DIY Halloween party was just for us and us alone. Then we also held a magic party for the kids to enjoy with their cousins (more to share next week). Yup, for the first time, we didn't invite any friends over and I was initially wondering if the kids would be upset about that. To my surprise, they were all very understanding and told me it was okay as they knew how the situation made it hard for us to have parties, and that having a small celebration with little or no guests meant less work for me too. Awww, thank you, my dears.

So, the truth is we actually don't need a fanciful house, lots of toys, big parties, luxurious cuisine or overseas trips in order to be happy. What we need is very simple - spending time with the people who truly matter. In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about knowing how we don't need much in order to find joy in our lives.

One of the things that we look forward to nowadays are our weekend family hiking trips! Yup, we have been finding time to visit parks and nature reserves that we have never been before and it's always a thrill for the kids to spot animals and all kind of bugs along the way. Check out our latest trip to Windsor Nature Park in our video here

Instead of spending money to go to indoor playgrounds or local attractions (unless it's redeemed using the SingapoRediscover vouchers), I actually prefer to spend a good afternoon being close to mother nature and exploring new trails which we have no idea of where they lead to. Every discovery is a surprise, every breath of fresh air is a gift and every moment spent with the family is deeply cherished. It's such a great way to see more of the wonders around us, keep fit and bond as a family, and the best thing is we don't have to spend a single cent.

My mum turned a year older in November and I initially wanted to bring them out and give them a nice treat. However, since that would mean seven of us in a group and we would have to sit separately and not be allowed to mingle, we reckoned it defeated the purpose of a family gathering. Thus, my Dad helped to whip up a homecooked dinner for us which was way better than any restaurant food because it had one ingredient which could not be replicated - love. It was such a simple way to celebrate, with a cake cutting ceremony and playground time after dinner, but our hearts were full and everyone was happy.

Now that the year end holidays have started for the girls since mid November while the boy still had school, the girls and I managed to spend more time together in the mornings and we totally enjoyed our breakfast dates. It doesn't really matter what we eat  - it can be kaya toast, kueh or chee cheong fun - because it was all about us being together. They call it a girls outing and it's something we cherish. I was thinking in future, I can bring the girls out on some days while the hubby takes the boys (just not sure if he can handle two young, active boys on his own, haha). But yes, it's gonna be quite fair in the home soon, two boys and two girls, we are indeed truly blessed.

School holiday means more time for play! We don't intend to visit any indoor playground for now but I do bring the kids out for fun at our neighbourhood playgrounds. There are still so many more we have yet to explore and it's pretty amazing how many playgrounds there are in a small island like ours. Yup, there's no need to spend, no need to travel much, no need to whine about not being able to have a blast during this school holidays. The truth is, we already have so much around us if we just take a closer look.

One thing that warms my heart when we are at the playground is seeing how the sisters teach and encourage the brother to try out new things. For instance, he has always been afraid of the fireman pole but after much coaxing, demonstration and reassurance from the sisters, he finally found the courage to do it on his own time and again. This boy is so blessed and loved, and I hope he knows it. Siblings are one of the greatest gifts I can give to my kids and I am glad they have each other.

We are slowly but surely getting ready for the baby's arrival too! My kids have been wearing hand me downs for the longest time and we are fortunate to have gotten lots of baby stuff passed down from our friends, including a playpen, bouncers, play gym and lots of baby clothes. Yeah, that means we can save up some money which is a huge relief! That said, I couldn't resist but to get a few new shirts from the baby when there was an online sale on EZBuy because these rompers could get as cheap as $3 each. That's a pretty good deal, right? It's always so exciting to look forward to a newborn's arrival and even though it's my fourth, I am still feeling the jitters from time to time yet thinking about it just makes me smile even when I sleep too. Another baby to cuddle soon, woohoo!

The kids wanted to go fishing and although I'm not a fan of it, I tagged along because a family sticks together mah - actually, it was more like the hubby saying how do I expect him to handle three kids and so much barang-barang. Haha. Anyway, our first fishing trip was marked by thunderstorms which left us stranded at a shelter trying to hide from the strong winds and subsequently got ourselves wet. The kids jumped in puddles and seemed to enjoy it even though we didn't have a single catch at the end of it. Haha. Childhood innocence, it's so precious.

Not to be daunted, we made a second trip and this time, we caught over a dozen fishes as our reward for waking up so early in the morning, woohoo! Even though it was a little playing cheat because the hubby used a dead fish as bait to catch the live ones, it was still a fun experience for the kids who each managed to catch, hook and reel in a few fishes that day. Well, we did let all of them go in the end because it was more about the experience than the outcome for us. Once again, I was reminded that happiness can be so simple and it doesn't take much to make a kid smile and learn to be contented in life. It's more of how we become greedier as we grow, we expect and demand more by doing less, we ask for more knowing that there is more the world has to give, we feel disappointed when things don't go our way and we forgot how life can still be very simple and straightforward - as long as we stop complicating it.

Back at home, we have been engaging more in open-ended play so that the kids can be creative and be able to work on their imagination. One of our favourite toys recently is Just Blocks (read our review here) because what you can build out of those wooden blocks is basically endless. You limit your own possibilities and when you learn to broaden your mind and your view, you discover that there is in fact no boundary at all. It's the same with life, isn't it?

Staying home is something that we've come to love and appreciate instead of dread, and that is something that the pandemic has taught us to appreciate. At least we are still together under one roof, at least all of us are still safe and sound, at least we still have food on the table, toys to play with and ice cream in the fridge. Haha.

Fish feeding is also a fun activity for the kids and all we need is packet of fish food which cost $3 to have a happy afternoon. This is the Mainland Tropical Fish Farm in Pasir Ris which we go to when we are free and the kids are always excited to run around and feed all the different kinds and colours of fishes in every pond.

Even though we are not able to travel, that doesn't mean we can't visit the airport to have a good time, right? We still like going to the terminals and Jewel just to have a meal at the food court and then to take a stroll around. This dinosaur exhibit was something we chanced upon and the kids started to roar like dinosaurs and pretended to act like one too. That reminds me, I gotta bring them to Jurassic Mile soon and I hope it's not too crowded!

Our family tends to live life quite spontaneously, which also means we don't usually plan where we are going on some days but let fate decide. We were on our way to Sungei Buloh one day but it was raining and we had no idea of where to go. The hubby then drove around aimlessly and we passed by Hay Diaries, not knowing if it was open or even what we could do inside. It turned out that you could just get a packet of hay and off you go to feed the goats! The kids were ecstatic, of course, because they don't get to do this often enough, unlike how it was when we were living in Europe.

We stayed for a couple of hours till they closed because the kids were so in love with the goats, especially the baby ones who let us pat them, and couldn't bear to leave. It was such a beautiful coincidence that the rain stopped thereafter and we could continue with our nature walk and by that time, we had already made some fond memories from the farm. Awww. It's a place we will definitely wanna come back to next time!

Staycations are considered a luxury for us and something that I am extremely thankful for whenever a hotel approaches us for a collaboration. Yup, otherwise, it would not have taken place for us as I would have preferred to save up the hundreds of dollars for a rainy day. That said, it also means every staycay is a work trip for me and I am basically working every hour trying to document our experience, taking videos, posting on stories and making sure I have enough information and pictures to write a detailed blog review. It takes me a couple of weeks to wrap up everything afterwards so I do think it's a fair exchange for a sponsored, usually only one-night, staycation. We were lucky to be invited to experience the Family First Staycation at InterContinental Singapore and I have shared all the details here. There will be a giveaway upcoming soon, so stay tuned, yeah?

Going for checkups with my gynae always excites me but also makes me somewhat nervous to see how the baby is doing. We did the detailed checkup when I was 24 weeks and the good news is baby is growing up well and weights 412g! We got to see his head, arms and legs and most importantly, hear his strong heartbeat, which is always a relief for all mums and dads.

Back at home, I've been trying to prep the kids for the arrival of the baby, especially this boy who will be promoted to a big brother for the first time after five long years. I know it isn't going to be easy for him because he's so used to being the youngest and the baby of the family. Thankfully, so far he has been awesome and every night, he would help me to apply stretchmark cream while saying "Hello" to the baby as he tells him stories and sings him lullabies. Awwww.

It's the festive season and we were so thankful to have had our first ever Christmas photoshoot with Bloom Photography! The European cabin style setups were so gorgeous and reminded us of our days in Scandinavia where we actually did have a fireplace right in our home. Every of our photoshoot is so precious to me because they represent lasting memories of this present stage of our lives and I treasure every photo more than I can say. I will be doing my maternity shoot with them too so stay tuned for more sharing!

November also marked the big girl's birthday and it's still a little incredible to think of it but she has turned eleven! Yup, the girl who gives me a headache on some days yet makes me proud in so many other ways will be turning into a teen very soon and I can't believe how time has flown since I gave birth to her in Sweden. We've definitely come a long way but there's still a long, long road ahead of us. I am hoping to have the patience and wisdom to be able to continue guiding her as she grows.

For her birthday this year, she wanted to eat bak chor mee! How cute, right? Yup, she always says that she prefers hawker to restaurant food and it's something I am thankful to see too. Just a bowl of bak chor mee soup at Bedok 85 market brought such a big smile on her face and I hope she will always be this 知足常乐 girl who can find joy in the little things in her life.

The siblings were so sweet to present her with handmade cards and lots of kisses on the morning of her actual day too. Awww, I love seeing all these little moments when they show their love for each other.

To reward her for a a year of hard work and because I think she deserves a little more than bak chor mee, we brought her out to watch "The Witches" and also visited the arcade on her birthday too. Since she said she didn't want a cake, we decided to share a fondue at Swensens so that she could at least get to make a wish and blow out a candle. Yup, it's heartening to know how she doesn't demand for much even on her special day but I hope she knows how special she is to me.

Next month will be the last month of 2020, which has been such a different year filled with lots of turbulence and unknowns. Nonetheless, I'm still hoping it will be a great festive month for everyone out there because no matter what happens, as long as we are safe and sound with our loved ones beside us, we are already very blessed.

Till more updates in December!


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