Happiness is... ushering in a new year

Posted by ~Summer~ on February 09, 2021
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2020 seemed to have come and gone in a flash. It's kind of unbelievable to realise how much of our lives have changed within a year because of a virus. While things like home-based learning, social distancing, mask wearing and limited gatherings are things very new to us, I think we are blessed in the sense that some things still remain the same - like making time for family on weekends, being able to have home cooked food, our love for outdoor and doing our best to cherish every day that comes.

As we welcome 2021, there is a renewed sense of hope and excitement, even if deep down in our hearts, we know that life will not go back back to how it used to be, at least not in the near future. Still, we were happy to count down on the last day of last year with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. A positive mindset has the power to make dreams come true, right?

In January's "Happiness is...", it's about ushering in the new year and looking forward to a brand new beginning filled with hope, bliss, happiness and good health for our loved ones. It was a month that flew past with everyone trying to settle down into the new routines and getting used to waking up early once more, a month that reminded us of the truly important things in life, a month that brought us closer to becoming a family of six.

We still love going outdoor as a family and I hope that is something that will never change, no matter how old the kids grow and how different our lives get. One thing we've been trying to do is to visit places that we've never explored and the most recent one is Labrador Nature Reserve.

While it was fun spotting bugs like red ants, spiders and caterpillars and learning more about World War II, what thrilled the kids most was to find not one but two playgrounds at the park where they enjoyed themselves on the swings, spinning wheel and see-saw. Yup, it brings out the innocence of childhood and reminds us that happiness can be so pure and simple, and I really love that we are screen-free when we spend moments like this.

When the weather is not that good, it doesn't mean we stay home too but instead, we try to go somewhere indoor where the kids can still hang around and play. Jewel has always been one of our favourite places to be in and I think we will never get tired of admiring the magnificent Vortex. 

The kids also went on the ZooMoov rides because we had leftover credits from last year and what warmed my heart was seeing that how the kids still love to sit together. When it got too slow, the girls would then take turns to come down and give it a push so that the boy can enjoy the rush. Yup, instead of complaining that such rides are too childish for their liking and telling me that they prefer to stay at the side and do their own thing, I'm hoping the Jiejies will still be able to find joy in such kiddy stuff and be able to look after their baby brothers. Angel did tell me she would be happy to take Xiaodi on a merry-go-round next time and she would accompany and look after him, that is quite sweet to hear, right?

We resumed our art classes when the year began and it's something that the kids, especially the girls, look forward to every week. Angel was asking me if she could still continue with art despite this being her PSLE year and I was more than happy to oblige considering this is the only enrichment class we pay for (our other one is Heguru which is sponsored). I told her if it helps her to wind down and relax every week, why not? Of course, I'm also hoping it motivates her to work harder in her free time but I also want her to know that taking a break now and then is not just healthy but crucial too. I don't want either of us to be overstressed by PSLE!

As for the little sister, she is doing awesome in Primary 3 and one piece of good news she brought home was that she has been chosen to be a School Captain after going through some interviews. Well, she must first pass the training in the next six months before she officially becomes one but I look forward to seeing how she will learn to be a responsible leader. She also received her first Character Award while the big sister got her Edusave Scholarship and EAGLES award. You girls make me proud!

Talking about enrichment class, the boy bade farewell to his favourite teacher in Heguru who has showered him with love and taught him with patience for the past three years. Yup, he was rather dejected about it so we promised to keep in touch with his teacher, which is made easy these days thanks to social media. I guess this change also allows him to learn to be more courageous, adaptable and resilient, which is something this boy is still working on slowly but surely. I'm definitely grateful to see how the kids have all grown and blossomed along the way (search Heguru reviews in my blog to read more) and this is a journey that has greatly benefitted us in the past years.

Media events are nothing like the past and we make sure we only take up those that really interest us or the kids. The only one we've attended so far is Around the World in 80 Days organised by Andsoforth Junior and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it as they unlocked secret doors and travelled to different parts of the world, including a jungle, a ship, a theatre and even a train.

Back at home, life has been quite the same for us including the never ending chores. I've been trying to get the kids to step up even more and besides doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning and packing, the girls have also been ironing their own uniforms and throwing out the trash daily. Yup, I told them they will have to chip in and even help to lead the troop, especially when the baby comes, and although I find myself nagging every single day, I think I got the point across and I do see their effort from time to time, which is very heartening and encouraging.

One huge achievement for me as a stay-at-home mum is that we did not dabao or order any lunch on any weekday for the whole month of January! In fact, I also cooked our dinners except on the nights when we had classes. That is definitely a record for me and I am glad I managed to do it despite the big tummy that is making frying and dishwashing a challenge. Nothing ever beats the taste of home cooked food, no matter how simple, right? I am just happy to see that the kids appreciate my effort most of the time and they know better than to be picky eaters or waste anything in their bowls.

That said, I am not a great chef nor do I aspire to be, all I wanna do is to cook for my kids and make sure they are fed. Haha. Check out my IG highlights under 'cooking' for more sharing of the simple dishes we make. I usually try to cook bigger portions at dinner so that we have some leftovers for next day's lunch, especially when it comes to soup. Yup, it's not a crime in trying to make our lives easier and not feel guilty about it.

This is the boy who has lunch with me every day because he gets off school by 11:45am. So many friends have asked me why don't I just put my kids in childcare while I can and the thing is, I don't want to! I mean, I think being apart for three hours is good enough for this kindergarten age and I don't see why I wanna lengthen that when he will be in school for six hours when primary school starts. Yup, maybe I just don't wanna be lonely or maybe I see it more important for us to spend time together and bond, talk, laugh, eat and sleep while we still can and while they are still young. So just three hours for now, thank you very much.

We haven't been dancing every night like we did at the end of last year but we still squeeze in time to do that at least every week so that we can have a workout together. The kids also join me in doing my pregnancy exercises and it's really cute to see them doing that, especially the boy who dashes off to get his rubber ball whenever I have to use my gym ball. Haha. Togetherness, it's so important, right?

Open-ended play is something I try to encourage at home so it's not a surprise to know that we have boxes of toys in our living room for the kids to choose from and play with in their free time. One of our favourites is still Just Blocks (read our review here) and its amazing how these wooden blocks and planks can conjure our creativity and stretch our imagination. The kids love it when I join in and while it's really tempting to scroll through my phone and sit on the sofa to watch them, I remind myself to put away the gadgets, sit down and listen to their ideas whenever I can.

Thanks to Pineappletarts.com, we started feasting on CNY goodies already and our favourites are the award-winning pineapple tarts which come in just the right amount of sweetness, the highly addictive almond cookies which I have almost devoured on my own and the crab stick crackers which the kids can't get enough of.

When I was unable to do a goodies giveaway for you all, I decided to share my store credits with two of you instead because it's always nice to care and share. I think my readers, that's you, more than deserve it after supporting this blogging journey of mine for so many years. Yup, I will try my best to share more in the remaining year as a form of thank you so stay tuned for more reviews and giveaways.

In case you have not seen it, I am now giving away this set of Connetix Ball Run Pack worth $139 from Little Happy Haus on IG, hop over here to join in. You can also check out any Connetix set (bundles excluded) with my code "SUMMER10" to enjoy 10% off. I would never promote something that we do not believe in or enjoy so when I say it's fun, I really hope you and your kids will benefit from it too. This is also something that I initiated to do out of my own will, using the store credits I earned by writing for them. So do trust that I really wanna share the good stuff with you guys instead of keeping everything for ourselves only, yeah?

Last but not least, we are also getting ready for the baby's arrival! I am so thankful that we got a few bags of hand-me-downs from friends because we all know how expensive baby clothes can be considering they only last a couple of months. Haha. Well, I did get some cheap ones from online sales so that the baby will at least have a few pieces of new clothing. Friends also passed us their playpen, playgym and bouncers so I think we are quite well stocked up for now, except for an infant car seat which we don't have as we gave ours away.

The kids also excitedly wrapped up their gifts for Xiaodi (do you let your kids exchange gifts too when they meet for the first time?) and we are very practical this time round, getting only the things that are useful and handy, like baby clothes, nail clippers, rattle and teether. I can't believe I will be packing my hospital bag after CNY and it still makes me nervous despite that this is the fourth time I am doing it. Haha. Yup, it also means I have three other kids to worry about when I am busy delivering but I know things will somehow be fine eventually.

I've been taking more bumpfie shots this time because it's so easy taking pics with just a phone and more importantly, this is highly likely my last pregnancy already. Even though the kids keep saying things like "How do you know?", "Maybe you will have a 5th or 6th baby!", "You can still have more!", I think I'm happy to stop at four. Hello, I'm turning 40 in a couple of years ley. That is why I especially cherish this pregnant feeling more than ever and am thankful for every flutter that I feel.

2021 is definitely gonna be a year of change for us and I'll be sharing more about how life changes as we grow from having three to four kids. Thank you for being with me all the way since a decade ago and sharing my motherhood journey with me. Remember, we are all in this together and no mum is ever alone in her fears and worries, tears and heartaches. 

May the rest of the year bring you the joy that you deserve and let's all look forward to better things ahead for all of us. Sending you love, hope and lots of hugs in this year and have an awesome CNY in advance, people! Gong Xi Fa Cai, 大家一起 Huat Ah!


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