Happiness is... not counting the days but making the days count

Posted by ~Summer~ on January 14, 2021
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At the end of last year, the boy would be asking me questions like "Mama, how many more days before I don't have school?", "How many days is it before I turn 5?", "How many more days of holidays do we have left?" and so on. Of course, it's part and parcel of growing up, learning the months and days and being able to count. 

While I tried to patiently tell him the answer every time he asked - he would ask today and again tomorrow just to be sure - a part of me also wanted to tell him that life is not about counting the days, but making the days count. That means we live each day as best as we can, we have fun with our loved ones, we cherish everything we have, we make lasting memories and we try our best not to have any regrets on what we could have done better when we go to bed at night.

So instead of lamenting on how school holidays are short-lived or wishing that Christmas can last longer or whining about having to wake up early for school again, I hope that my kids will learn to treasure each day that comes and live it to its best. It's the same for myself too, instead of merely counting down how far I am along this pregnancy and being anxious to meet the baby, I tell myself to relax, take things easy, enjoy the flutters and love each day of this journey where I get to feel a life growing inside of me which is truly one of the greatest miracles ever.

Yup, it sounds like a complicated life lesson but I believe that values and beliefs have to be instilled from young and I hope deep down, my kids will know what I mean some day. In December's "Happiness is...", it's about making each day count.


December is always an exciting period full of milestones and celebrations for our family and despite the pandemic, it was no exception last month. I didn't want to use the pandemic or my pregnancy or any other reason as an excuse to have less fun than usual and I am so thankful that we were still able to resume most of our normal lives and daily activities during the school holidays.

The kids had been asking for some time if we could go Long Kang fishing and so we finally did. This was at ORTO where we spent a fun couple of hours as the kids caught fishes and released them. It was more about the process and experience rather than result and outcome, which is yet another life lesson that I want to teach my kids. We ended up releasing most of the fishes we caught back into the pond, much to the surprise of the other kids and parents but that's just the way we wanted to end off the day.

You might have seen this one-of-a-kind Singa tree if you were in Waterway Point at the end of last year. We were stoked and honoured to have a Singa that belongs to us and a quote that the kids gave in regards to kindness. It does make the world a better place if we are kind to each other, doesn't it? With all the devastating news on riots and protests around the world, I am grateful for the peace we get to enjoy on our island even if it means I have to deal with my own kind of chaos at home, which to me is a blessing because it means I am a mum with kids to look after.

The girls started their school holidays earlier than the little brother and we managed to go for breakfast dates several times after sending him to school. While I love being together with all the kids, it's also nice spending time one-on-one or one-on-two once in a while just to catch up on their lives and hear what they have to share. It never mattered what we ate or where we went, what mattered was we were together and we talked, we shared, we laughed.

I've also started cleaning the house and shifting some furniture to get ready for the baby's arrival. Yup, I know, I shouldn't be doing heavy lifting and lots of other stuff but with the hubby being away often, this is how I've always been - 靠自己.

I get furniture and assemble them on my own, I change light bulbs myself, I set up the Christmas tree with the kids every year, I do painting on the walls and repair cracks, I am in charge of taking down and washing the curtains, and I do all the cleaning, mopping and packing too. In fact, I was the one who packed nearly 100 boxes of stuff when we moved back to Singapore from Sweden and well, I was also in my third trimester at that time. So yup, I'm pretty used to it already but not to worry, I know my limits and I know when to stop. 

Anyway, with the help of the kids, we shifted the beds in the master bedroom and while Asher now has his bed beside me near the window, we are going to set up a secondhand playpen which comes with a changing unit on the other side after we chuck the my 12-year-old piano which has become faulty. Things are definitely getting exciting and I will soon get to co-sleep with my two princes!

Thanks to our SingapoRediscover vouchers, we also managed to visit some local attractions without spending a bomb and I think we ought to be extremely thankful for that. First up, we made our way to Science Centre where we checked out the Living World exhibition and also went on a Christmas exploration trail. It's been a while since we came here because it's really far from our home but I am glad we did it because the kids always have fun playing while learning at the same time.

Next, I also brought them for a mum-and-kids outing to the Singapore Flyer and it was made extra memorable because it was a first experience for both of the younger ones. While the big sister had been on it once, it happened when she was a toddler and so she couldn't really recall it too. Haha. The 5-pax rule turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it meant the four of us had a entire capsule all to ourselves. What?! Yup, that's right, a whole capsule to ourselves where we sang, danced, jumped around and took photos. Woohoo.

The Time Capsule was also a fun interactive exhibition for the kids and we enjoyed ourselves. I have to give credit to these three for taking the train to and fro and walking long distances without complaining. In fact, we could only have toast as a light snack because the food street was closed, much to our dismay. The consolation was we reached home by 11pm and had supper when it was nearing midnight, which delighted them to the max. Check out more happenings in our video here.

One of our favourite places to visit is Jewel and we made our way there a few times during December. Besides using our vouchers to visit both Changi Experience Studio and Canopy Park, I also brought the kids here to eat A&W, to play on ZooMoov rides, to do our Christmas shopping, to simply admire the Vortex and have a good time.

We also went on a night adventure and did something rather crazy when we decided to walk all the way from Jewel to Jurassic Mile after completing a whole day of Christmas gift hunting. Yup, it's much further than it sounds and we walked at least 3.5km just to get there, passing T2 and T4 in the midst. It was a way for me to train up the kids' resilience, to let them enjoy the thrill of trying out something new and to remind them that as long as we don't give up, we will get to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Watch our video here.

We walked for hour after hour and didn't quit even when we finished the trail and got to East Coast Park, with no one else on the path except for this crazy mum and her kids. That was surely a day to remember and we definitely made the most of it.

We also started exploring more eateries around the island, especially when the hubby was around on weekends and could fetch us to more deserted places. This was after we had dinner at a cafe right beside Seletar Airport and got to view the magnificent sunset across the runway. We also checked out a kopitiam in Ubi with yummy mee hoon kueh and we are looking forward to exploring more new places in future.

Nature reserves are one of our favourite places to visit and we are slowly but surely trying to explore more of the ones that we have yet to visit. It's one of my favourite things to do on a weekend afternoon too because not only do we not have to spend a cent, we can also get up close with floral and fauna which is something that fascinates the kids and makes them happy. Even Asher is asking loads of questions about animals these days, like their characteristics, diets and habitats, and I am thankful to know that all the kids love nature so much.

We were saddened to read that the Animal Resort would be closing in January so just to make sure we get to be with our animal friends one last time, we decided to make a trip down. Unlike previous visits, you need to make a booking before going down and that was something we didn't know about but thankfully, the owners decided to let us in after paying the entrance fee of $8 per adult and $3 per child (which is also something not needed previously but we reckon it's the last time they can earn a little before closing down for good). The kids enjoyed themselves feeding the rabbits, birds, horse, fishes and more and we are thankful for all the memories we have built here over the years.

Back at home, we still try to enjoy homecooked meals as much as possible and the good thing was the hubby was around on more days in December due to the festive season and he took charge of the kitchen when he was home, giving me a breather. That said, I still try my best to whip up simple meals for the kids because they contain the secret ingredient - love - that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

We've been doing less art and craft at home, I know, because we tend to go out every alternate day, if not more during the school holidays. Nonetheless, the kids were still happy to keep up with their art classes at Heart Studio and I also leave our art supplies easily within reach so that they can paint something whenever they like. This one was a submission for an art competition that Angel did and the topic she chose was 'Space Zoo'. Pretty neat, right?

If you know our style by now, then you will know that we try to avoid taking the taxi whenever we can but instead commute by bus and train. That is how I have trained the kids since young and taking a taxi is a luxury, not something that I want them to take for granted. So, since they were babies, the kids have become accustomed to travelling on the public transport and I hope this builds them up for the day that they have to commute to school on their own, presumably from Sec 1 onward.

It's also a good way to train them to be patient because sometimes, it can take over an hour just to get to our destination and we might have to change train lines several times. And nope, they don't get to use any electronic device when we are on the go but they are very good at coming up with their own games now and the good thing about having more kids is they always have each other to play with or talk to or lean on.

One of the biggest highlights of December 2020 has to be our magic themed party which was held as a combined celebration for all the three of them .You can read more about the happenings here, including how they did their first ever magic show in front of an audience and how we came up with the DIY costumes and props. It was really a fun and memorable day and I'm so glad I managed to pull it off despite the big belly because I truly think that birthdays are special. Even though you don't need to make a big fuss out of it, you do deserve to feel happy and special on that day and I sure hope the kids did.

Every year, I would let the kids choose a place they wish to visit as part of their birthday gift. Ariel chose Bird Park while Asher chose Night Safari, which is awesome since we already have the Friends of Wildlife annual pass meaning we did not need to pay extra. Yay!

For Bird Park, I did make sure we booked the feeding sessions in advance because the last time we came, the kids were disappointed that they were not able to feed anything. This time round, we managed to feed the lories, the African treetop birds and the pelicans too! Woohoo! That made the birthday girl very happy and it was nice to see her big smiles that day.

For Night Safari, we took the tram before walking on foot to cover almost all the trails which took us to nearly the closing time - midnight. Haha. I think we will never get tired of walking through the same trail and seeing the same animals because there's always something new to learn about them each time.

Did you know that Ariel and Asher's birthdays are only two days apart? Yup, that's partly why December is a busy month for me, haha. Anyway, we decided to cover the whole of Bird Park on a Saturday and then visit Night Safari the next day so as to make it a whole weekend of celebration. Of course, it was just the five of us but then again, how many people do you need, right?

The pandemic was a reminder for us on the importance of strong family ties and that as long as we were together, nothing else mattered as much. I hope the kids will one day realise this too.

I've been telling Ariel that soon, Asher will join her in the middle child club and I hope she will be there for him whenever he feels jealous or left out when the baby joins us. This girl has been awesome all along and didn't give me the headache that others warned me of, and with her around, it makes me feel more assured and calm about the sticky boy being promoted to a big brother soon.

On their actual birthdays, I always make sure that we had a slice of cake in our fridge so that we could have a mini cake-cutting ceremony and that the birthday kid could get to make a wish and blow the candles. The heartwarming thing is seeing how the rest of the siblings would present him/her with a handmade card or small token of love too, which is something that I wish they will continue to do even when they are older.

Now that the tummy is getting bigger by the day, it's getting hard to sleep, to walk and to go about doing the daily chores. The good thing is these three elder siblings have stepped up to help, including doing the laundry, cleaning and washing of dishes, helping me to carry groceries when we go to the supermarket, cleaning the hamster's cage on their own and most importantly, allowing me to take a rest or quick nap when I need to, yay!

They have also been very sweet towards the baby and not only do they help me to apply my stretch mark cream, they also talk to him and sing to him every night. Dear baby boy, you are so loved, you know that?

In the last week of December, besides nagging at the girls to check their school bags and make sure they have done all their work and gotten their school supplies ready, I still wanted to bring them out for fun because this Mama just can't stay home all day long. Haha.

We made an impromptu decision to visit the River Safari on a rainy day since it's mostly sheltered and the kids were so surprised but happy. The girls said "You still bring us out so often even though you are pregnant which makes you the best and most adventurous Mama ever". Haha, I'm definitely not but thanks for the flattery, my dears. It just makes me happy seeing you happy!

We queued up for long just to catch a glimpse of Kai Kai and Jia Jia - thankfully we saw one of them - and it was something they said Papa wouldn't do once he knew how long the queue was. Honestly, I was reluctant to join in too but the boy was so sad when I wanted to skip it because he was looking forward to seeing the pandas. Well, how long would it take right? And so we did it and I'm glad we did.

While solo parenting days might be tough at times, it's also easier in the sense that I get to make all the decisions without a second opinion or someone to tell me I'm wrong or I should have done something else instead. You know what I mean? So I dread and love it at the same time, but that's just something I have to get used to as a navy wife.

In the afternoon, after we completed walking one round at the River Safari, we also hopped over to the zoo since it was a weekday and we could hop on the tram using our annual pass. We took not one but two rounds, stopping halfway to visit Reptopia because the big sister requested. Yup, that took a detour and a long walk and I kind of think I'm quite an accommodating mum, hor?

Well, as long as it's a fair and reasonable request, I don't see why not and it truly brings me joy and makes the kids feel loved at the same time.

We finally left when the zoo closed at 6pm and I bet if the hubby knew, he would have asked us to grab a taxi home after a long day. Haha. But nope, I didn't give the kids that option but instead told them "Let's go and take the Mandai Express!" and so we did.

The bus took us to Khatib MRT which is far from where we stay so we stopped halfway for dinner at Junction 8 - we ate Yoshinoya after a long hiatus and the kids really enjoyed it! - where we went to get some last minute Christmas gifts, including a potted plant which they girls specially chose for Papa.

It was already late at night when we reached home because we still had to change trains and walk a distance but you know what, we all felt a sense of accomplishment that day. I think it's this sense of satisfaction that keeps me going too and I'm still very motivated to bring the kids out more often even when I'm in my third trimester and even when I have a newborn to carry with me.

Yup, please say "Hi" if you ever see me on the streets. On some days when we are out, a handful of you will DM me afterwards to say you saw me and my kids but it's okay to come up there and then in person, we don't bite! 

Last but not least, we also celebrated Christmas by putting up and decorating our Christmas tree, giving presents to our friends and loved ones, having a family gathering where we ate a nice home cooked meal and played games, and thanking Santa for hopping by to give the kids their presents. 

You know, the girls both wrote notes to Santa to tell them what they wanted and I was interested to find out what they penned down, only to realise that both of them said all they wanted was for their family to be safe, happy and healthy. Awwww. So sweet of these two. Of course, Santa decided they deserved more because they received storybooks instead, haha.

So I guess that kind of summarises our exciting and jam packed month of December. Hope everyone had a good time during the holidays too and for now, we can all look forward to a better 2021. In any case, I kind of think 2020 had many life lessons for us to learn from and one of it is to have a thankful heart as we make the best of each day that we get to spend with our loved ones.

I earnestly hope more good things are in store for you and your family in the brand new year. Thanks for supporting this blog all this while and I sure hope to keep writing and keep sharing with you! Till the next post! Happy 2021, people!

1 comment:

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