Happiness is... treasuring the stress-free days

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 06, 2024
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I always look forward to December.

It's a month special to us because it marks the birthdays of two of my babies. Since it is the school holidays, it's also a time where we can travel, explore, have fun, spend time together as a family and be able to sleep in. Yes, I give three cheers for that last part and I love being able to turn off all my alarms and let everyone sleep to his/her heart's content.

Unlike in June where the kids might have holiday assignments or CCA practice to attend, December symbolises the wrapping up of a year and the kids are usually more free. Yes, no extra lessons, no homework and no co-curricular activities means more time for play, yayyy! While December means the end of a fruitful year, it also gives hope for the next new beginning and makes you feel excited about what lies ahead.

In this "Happiness is..." post, it's about cherishing the stress-free days in this last month of the year. 

First up, we went on an epic 6D5N cruise on board Spectrum of the Seas! It was Ansel's first cruise and it was so funny when we told him he was inside the ship already after boarding and he asked "Huh? Where?" because it totally didn't feel like it. I know right, my dear, I felt the exact same way on my first cruise too.

I've yet to write about the trip in detail and I'm still trying to do up a video for the kids, so bear with me because I will get there one way or another. At least I'm still keeping this blog alive - it's mainly for myself and my kids to reminisce the good old times and remember those golden moments - because I know of many parenting bloggers who have since stopped writing and moved on to creating content on social media instead. If you've been here for a while, thank you for all the support and do stay around, yeah?

Since this wasn't a sponsored trip, it meant that the videos and photos we took were for our own keepsake and I think that makes me feel slightly more relaxed. I still took a lot though (my video footage for the whole trip amounted to nearly 3 hours!) because I think it's ingrained in me and I just wish to capture more of these precious moments.

Plus, we paid over $7k for the trip (we had two connecting balcony staterooms) so I thought it would be good to remember all that we did. Here's a sneak peek first - we visited The TOP in Penang which included the Jurassic Research Centre and a Rainbow Skywalk located at Level 68, and we also went to the beach in Phuket and went on a exhilarating off-road buggy adventure.

Back on our island, we also went to many kid-friendly places and events because December is usually jam packed with such activities. This was at Gingerbread Wonderland at Nex which consisted of huge inflatables by Kiztopia and the kids had a blast! It's nice to see that the elder two still follow us to such events and they love it when they get to play with Ansel, help him up the slide, jump with him into the ball pit and they also still enjoy playing tag with Asher too.

Well, I will cherish these moments till all of you outgrow these kiddy fun times but for now, please enjoy such carefree moments and take your time to grow, my dears.

At Space Fest @ Expo, the kids went on rides including the viking, played carnival games and also went on a bouncy castle together. It was nice that the hubby could join us too and we had lunch together as a family - a luxury that I do not take for granted. Guess what? We were in luck and saw a travel fair happening at a nearby hall and that was where we bought fairly cheap luggage for us to bring to the cruise. Woohoo!

It's also nice to at times let the girls spend sisterly time together while I bring the boys out. I mean, the two of them are quite independent already and it is my hope that they can be the kind of sisters who can go shopping, share secrets, dance, chat about girly stuff and do lots of stuff together.

I took the boys to Polliwogs since we won the tickets from a lucky draw a year ago and the tickets were expiring. It amazes me how fast time flies and looking back, the years are so fleeting and it won't be long before my babies take off and move out of the nest and outgrow the need for Mama. Do I look forward to that day so I can finally have peace and lots of me-time to do what I want to do? Well, actually not.

The kids love eating at places where they get to cook and Yakiniku is one of them. We waited fairly long to get seats one day but they were delighted with the meal, which I must say is quite yummy! Well, we ate together for three meals a day in the whole of December so at times, I was at a loss of what to eat next, haha. I usually tried to ask them for their preferences and we would head to where the majority wanted.

I also cooked less than usual since we were out so often (yayyy!) but I must say eating out as a big family can be quite expensive so we have to learn to be prudent in our expenditure. The food court is still where we hang out most often because it's just cheaper to eat there than in any restaurant. I keep telling the kids they are very blessed already because it wasn't like this in their grandma's or great grandma's eras - they had to work at a young age just to put food on the table - so we truly ought to be grateful for what life has given us.

I have been cutting Ansel's hair since he was born because he just prefers to let Mama be his hairdresser. One day, he saw Korkor going for a haircut and knowing that he could receive a candy after it was done, he decided to be brave and try it out too, woohoo! It might be a simple milestone but it was still an important for me, because it showed that this boy had grown up a little bit more, is not so scared of strangers now, and is courageous enough to step out of his comfort zone.

Well, he didn't cry but he fidgeted quite a bit during the whole experience because I guess he was tickled or scared by the shaver and the close proximity of the auntie, but he did it in the end and I had to take a photo to remember that moment.

If you have not, do hop over to read about Ariel's and Asher's birthday celebration at D'Resort where we had a fun-filled 3D2N staycation. Since we usually squeeze into a room that has two queen beds, it is one of the cheapest ways for us to have a staycation in Singapore and the best thing is it comes with four complimentary daily tickets to Wild Wild Wet (for NTUC members only).

It was an awesome family bonding time where we did lots of fun activities, including swimming, indoor climbing, arcade, movie night, cycling, pony riding and more. I feel a little bad that the two kids have to usually combine their celebration since their birthdays are two days apart, but I make sure to make him/her feel special on his/her actual day. Like for Asher, we had a hotpot dinner at Hai Di Lao, sang a birthday song for him and surprised him with a late night movie outing to watch Aquaman 2 which he was very excited about.

For Ariel, she wanted cupcakes and a slice of rainbow cake instead of a big cake so I took her to choose her favourite cupcakes from 12 Cupcakes, brought over all her presents in the luggage to surprise her on the morning of her birthday, and had a cake cutting ceremony in the comfort of our room before we rushed to pack up and check out. She wanted to have prawn noodles soup for lunch and go indoor climbing so we did those too. Whatever you want for your birthday, my dears (as long as it is affordable). 

You know, despite all the happy moments and fun times, there are always the not-so-desirable bits and pieces and most people would choose to not write about it. Let's see, for us, it includes the sibling bickers, the constant backtalking, how the hubby and I had different opinions about where to head to, accidents like how Ariel's finger got trapped in the balcony door and bled quite badly, or the part where Ansel almost fell off a horse and was left with one leg dangling. And more! Yup, it's never as easy or as smooth as it looks and there are always the part behind the scenes which remind us that we are all the same and just trying our best to be a good parent for our kids.

The kids are still going strong in their Taekwondo classes and we try our best to plan the holidays so that we would not have to skip any lesson. What started out as a holiday activity two years ago has seen the kids learn to be more resilient and disciplined and they have all surprised me by wanting to carry on till they achieve their black belts. Woohoo! Way to go, my loves!

Earlier in the year, I went on a one-on-one date with Ariel where we went for a cooking class, with Angel where we attended Blackpink's concert, and with Ansel where we went to an indoor playground. Well, so it was time for Asher's turn with Mama and he chose to go to an arcade. He would have been happy to settle for any arcade but I decided to bring him to the biggest one and it was one that we had never been before - Timezone in Orchard XChange. Before we made our way there by train, we had a nice breakfast at McDonald's which made him a happy boy.

We played lots of fun and new games the the arcade and for that couple of hours, I focused on this one kid and make sure he was happy. He loved this Ninja Turtles game which he played for the first time and requested to play it several times. So we did. I wanted him to have the freedom to choose what he wanted to do and best of all, I wanted to accompany him in every game that he played.

We've had our fair share of bad days and rough moments in the past year but that day, all was good in the world and we made so many precious memories to bring home with us. One-on-one dates are truly precious! I love you, my darling Asher.

We also had a gathering with Asher's kindergarten school mates and had a cake cutting ceremony for him too. It is so wonderful that we still keep in touch with a small handful of the ex-classmates and he always looks forward to such gatherings because they would have a blast and end up playing lots of games. Fun fact: Ariel was the emcee at Asher's graduation ceremony so all of them know her. Plus, another classmate's elder sister was her co-host so two of them would join in the gatherings too. That means we get to sing the birthday song for both of them (again).

We also went for a water carnival where the kids were treated to candy floss and popcorn, as well as had fun on obstacle courses and paddle boats. These are the simple joys in their growing up years which will hopefully be remembered because one day soon, they would not want to do this anymore. Trust me, I know, I have a full blown teenager at home.

Last but not least, it was time for Christmas! The kids look forward to this time of the year every single year because we would set up the Christmas tree (it has become a mum-and-kids tradition every year to do it together), go shopping for presents, wrap them up and write wishes on them (this is Ariel's favourite thing to do and she is always helping me with the wrapping), eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus and leave milk and cookies for him on the eve of Christmas, and of course, receive lots of presents and open all of them on Christmas Day.

We would also have family gatherings whereby the adults would do a gift exchange (everyone has to bring a $20 gift and we would draw random numbers to see who gets which gift) and the kids would all get presents. Yup, we might not celebrate Christmas for religious purposes but this season of giving is one that our family cherishes very much.

It symbolises that the year is coming to an end and gives us hope for the new year. Oh, and we would usually get a log cake so that the family members can celebrate Asher's and Ariel's birthdays together. This time, we added fruits, chocolate eclairs, custard puffs and tarts too. Woohoo! Family gatherings are simply the best and these are moments to treasure and hold dear in our hearts.

To love and be loved. That is just want all of us want in life, right? December has been such a sweet month and one that reminded me of all the good things we have. 我们真的是很幸福的,要惜福,要把握,也要懂得感恩。

That finally marks the end of 2023 and I look forward to sharing more of our family moments with you. Till the next post of "Happiness is..."!


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