You only get one life. #MeBeforeYou

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I don’t think a novel has ever affected me in such a big way since Motherhood. I practically buried my nose in it for the last 4 mornings and nights – sacrificing morning naps on the bus for more pages of Lou Clark and Will Traynor, (almost) walking into walls, coaxing the boys to sleep at an earlier bedtime – just so that I could read even more pages and re-read the witty banter and dialogue between the two. As I finally finished the last few pages, doing my best to read the last chapter in the slowest manner possible, I felt a void of emptiness in my heart growing bigger as I flipped page after page.

I sobbed. Big time.

It made me reflect on my life, and questioned if I was truly living my life as fully as possible. Sure, I had lots going on now – motherhood, work, the husband who actually reminded me quite a bit of Will when it came to pushing me to try new things – although he’s since retreated from most of that enthusiasm since the kids. It got me thinking, if this was it. If this was contentment for me, or if there was more I seek but was holding back. Was I still allowing other people’s expectations define me? Strange how I get more risk averse as the kids get older.

Then there’s the part of whether I can get past myself. To learn to trust myself more, believe in myself more and  quit being afraid of the ‘what ifs’. A good friend has been telling me about the hunger he sees in me, and how this hunger will take me far, take me to places I want to go. But the only person holding me back is myself.

My life for the last 6 months has been about pushing myself out of the comfort zone. I’ve challenged status quo since the start of this year by doing some amazing things that even surprised me. I took up the husband’s challenge to eat well which has led to a pretty satisfying and healthy weight loss, with increase in muscle gain and antioxidants percentage over a span of 3 months. I completed a course in an area I had absolutely no prior knowledge to despite struggling to grasp the basics of it initially – glad I didn’t give up. I got more than what I anticipated and expected at the full-time job with longer hours and an insanely steep learning curve – all voluntary if I may add – yet it’s still making me not regret that decision. And more recently, I’ve started taking up music classes again. Sure hope I’d be able to play some of my favourite tunes really soon!

I guess I just wanted to put it here on the blog, with a time stamp, to remind my future self to keep going, especially when the going gets tougher. It’s been 2 years of crazy so far, and seems like there’s more to go, with what’s ahead. To the future Natty, I hope that each time you read this post, you’d still be living life boldly, pushing yourself more, and not let any single situation define you (as you almost did 2 weeks’ back). More importantly, I hope you’d stay less affected and be less nice for your own good to people who don’t appreciate it. And know that while we may never fully understand the choices other people make, we’ll have to come to accept them eventually.

And if all else fails, always remember what your fictional boyfriend, Will Traynor, says: “I worked out what would make me happy, and I worked out what I wanted to do, and I trained myself to do the job that would make those two things happen”

#liveboldly #MebeforeYou #JojoMoyes

An Afternoon spent at Coney Island Park…and a funny story

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So Natty Coney Island 6

As much as I truly enjoyed my last 4 days “solo parenting” (I say ” ” because my mum volunteered to take on bulk of the parenting duties so that her daughter could have some ‘me time’ – hooray), marking the start of the husband’s work trip with a girls night out and ending it on another high with a day out alone, self-nourishing myself with me-time activities with the likes of being able to bury my nose in a book for 3 consecutive nights, it was such a relief having the husband back last night.

Not that he helps out a lot with the kids – I actually freak out more when my super helper goes on leave – but it was nice to have him back to spend family time and me not needing to worry about having to plan my route and being behind the wheel. I much rather laze in the back seat with my kids and make them laugh. Or maybe I just need a really tiny car to gain spatial confidence.

After a rather hurried work week, I decided that we should take things nice & slow today. There was the inclination to check out the RSAF Open House especially after seeing photos after photos on my IG and FB, but I suspected the husband wasn’t prepared to jostle with the crowd and deal with 2 little active boys who would probably jump out of the queue just when we were so close to being next in line for photo op. And so when the husband asked for the 5th time what our plans for the day were, I decided on a whim that we’d make a trip down to Punggol Waterway Park.  Our last visit there was some 10 months ago, and since I knew how much Liam wanted to skate scoot, and now that Ollie was walking/running, I thought it’d be perfect since it was just a short drive down.

Some 2 wrong turns later, we ended up at the entrance of Punggol Safra instead. We’ve been going to this part of Punggol so often that it became instinctive. The carparks at the park access points were fully occupied and the seemingly long queue for Safra’s carpark deterred us from joining. Having packed all our gear, snacks and excitement and not wanting to disappoint the kids, the husband decided to take a few more turns to see if it’d lead us to another Park access point. Before we knew it, we were driving down the winding, familiar road leading to Punggol Settlement. How could we not remember about this gorgeous outdoor spot?

Spotted at Punggol Settlement

And what do you know, within 10 minutes of our stroll at Punggol Settlement, my prayers to see some RSAF Open House action actually came true. A Chinook flew within our sight and as the husband scrambled to go to video mode on his cam, I was only too grateful that I happened to have camera mode turned on, snapping as many photos as I could without those few seconds.

“Quick boys! stand against there so I can take a photo. The 2nd one (Chinook) is coming!!!”, I heard one dad say. I bet his photo turned out breathtakingly awesome.

 

So Natty Punggol Settlement

It wasn’t till some 25 minutes later into the stroll when I saw the husband enthusiastically skating back towards us and exclaiming how Coney Island’s West Gate entrance was just some few hundred meters away. The husband has been keen to check the newest park on our Island since its opening but I haven’t been eager to follow through on that suggestion because feeding sand flies (from what I’ve been reading online) just ain’t my thing. But since we were just steps away…and the boys and superhelper being so excited that they raced past the entrance, I gave in.

Coney island west entrance

There was something hauntingly beautiful about Coney Island Park which made me feel like I was on the movie set of Twilight. The boys and helper were obviously enthralled by the casaurina woodlands and grasslands while all I had in mind was just to take as many family photos with such beautiful foliage surrounding us. I know, priorities.

So Natty Coney Island 11

I could even do a solo shot in peace.

So Natty Coney Island Beach

When we finally got to the beach, I insisted that we take a photo with the signage “Coney Island” but no one except the husband entertained me…

So Natty Coney Island Beach 2

Because the boys were more eager to play with the soft sand and get their feet dipped in the sea water than to pose for family photos.

So Natty Coney Island 4

And since our boys couldn’t care less about being in photos with their parents, and the helper offered to take couple shots of us, we jumped at the opportunity to do so!

So Natty Coney Island 2

Clearly, Ollie wasn’t pleased that I carried him out of the sand to have this family photo taken. At least Liam’s all smiles..

And then came the monkeys. While I was aware that Coney Island Park was home to a variety of habitats (I was thinking more of the bird species), I didn’t expect to meet so many monkeys along one of the nature walks. The first time I came across 2 monkeys, I thought that perhaps they were as random in numbers like the one free-roaming cow I read so much about. Turns out there were many more monkeys hanging by the tree ahead of us. The kids got excited about being able to get so close to them that they decided to slow down for photos instead of picking up pace like what I did!

“Don’t engage them”, I instructed, trying to get the boys to carry on walking. I was truly fretting that the monkeys might come and take my hat and sunglasses like what happened years back to a relative during a Bukit Timah Nature Reserve hike. And I was also doing my best not to show my fear in front of my kids. My efforts to get everyone to ignore the monkeys proved futile.

I was too happy when the husband suggested that we take a seemingly shorter and easier alternate route back out when it was time to make our exit from Coney Island Park. I definitely didn’t miss seeing ’em monkeys earlier and I sure appreciated a more even ground to push the stroller after negotiating a few patches of soft sand and rough gravel in the earlier route.

The route back was such a breeze to stroll that I could even attempt a jump shot:

So Natty Coney Island_1

Who would have guessed moments later, that smile I wore in my jump shot would be quickly erased with nerves. The husband spotted a few monkeys ahead and backtracked to tell the rest of us to keep to the middle of the path as more were lining up both sides of the path.

“Aiyo, how can it compare to what we saw earlier, a tree full of them?” I quizzed.

“There’s many of them ahead actually” he said.

As I took every step forward, I could see more monkeys making their way from the trees to the path. Luke was in front with his skate scooter, I was in the middle pushing Liam in the stroller while my helper was behind, helping Ollie with the skate scooter.

At first it was just 2-3 of them watching us walk by. I successfully negotiated walking past 3 troops briskly and as calmly as I could when I saw the biggest troop emerge ahead. It felt like the path was going to go on forever!

And then it happened. One of them quicken its steps towards the stroller and started to rummage through the basket beneath, running off with a pack of wet wipes which led me to freak out instantly and scream. Next, I did what the husband told me NOT to. I ran so hard, leading some to chase (thankfully the husband and helper were experienced at distracting them from following me thereafter) until I reached somewhere near the exit, before catching my breath and then realizing that the rest of them were still back there because Ollie insisted on standing there to say “bye bye monkeys”, complete with a flying kiss!

I’m officially the butt of all monkey jokes in the family now.

So Natty Coney Island 9

So Natty Coney Island 8 So Natty Coney Island 10

We ended our exploratory adventure with a last round of play by the sand playground, catching action of more Chinooks and Apache flying by.

So Natty Coney Island 7

What an afternoon well spent. Here’s to putting back more exploratory, outdoor (sans Monkeys) family outings in our schedule again!

POWERING OUR #FRISOEXPERIENCE WITH BONDING TIME AND FUN EXPERIENCES

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You’d think that after owning 1 Powered Ride On and 1 manual Ride On – both of which were gifted to us via a giveaway and through a friend’s generosity – that I’d say no to having a 3rd Ride On Vehicle. After all, in the words of my husband when I first told him that we were going to welcome our 2nd Powered Ride On to our collection of automobiles thanks to Friso, “our home got space to put meh?”

Well, it was a fair question. We do have more toys than our current tiny home can store. But this was one toy I couldn’t resist saying no to. A sporty red car which screamed MINI vibes for this MINI fan here? I knew my boys were going to have lots of fun with it. Plus, with their other super bulky (also another favourite of mine) Powered Ride On still in storage, and all that space around our grounds to let the boys go wild on wheels… how could I deny them some driving fun over the weekend?

Friso Powered Ride On _ So Natty 2

{All ready to create his #FrisoExperience}

Friso Powered Ride On _ So Natty 4

{Little brother Ollie had his first try in a Powered Ride On car, and loved it!}

Friso Powered Ride On _ So Natty 5

{He had way too much fun that he didn’t want to get off!}

Friso Powered Ride On _ So Natty 6

{I didn’t have to keep yelling “Look here and Smile!” He wore this look practically throughout his car ride, except when his little brother whined his way to get a turn on it}

We’re seasoned buyers of Formula Milk, and we know how costly they can get. Hence it was nice to know that the Friso Powered Ride On was part of the brand’s continued efforts to encourage bonding moments between parents and their kids through fun experiences. Got to applaud Friso for knowing how to “reward” their customers by providing with such fun!

The car even comes with a remote control for adults to control, just in case your little ones don’t know how to “drive” or can’t reach the pedals yet. Personally, I liked how it was big enough to fit my 4-year old comfortably yet compact enough to be placed in the car boot without taking up too much space. The husband also commented how light it was compared to the others we have, which feels a lot less cumbersome to carry around. I guess this means that we’ll be taking our sporty red wheels to more places, like the Road Safety Park!

If you’re not a current Friso buyer and am wondering if it’s worth trying their products, perhaps knowledge of their enhanced LockNutri technology which protects the protein in their products from overheating and becoming damaged during the production process resulting in nutrients in their natural state might convince you. This helps to facilitate absorption of nutrients in your little ones so that they stay #StrongInside. Having been through a rather life-changing diet some 5 months ago (thanks to the husband and his crazy ideas) which involved consuming more food than I’m used to – filled with proper portions of proteins and nutrients in their natural state – I am testament that the health benefits reaped does wonders in keeping me #StrongInside too. I want to be as healthy as I can for my kids.

So friends and readers, that explains the photo you saw of the Friso Powered Ride On car in our boot on my social media recently. Nope, you didn’t read the redemption date (7 June – 31 July) wrong.  And now that I know so many of you are going to redeem your Friso Powered Ride On, perhaps we should arrange a Ride On Drag Race playdate for the kids!

Friso Powered Ride On _ So Natty 1

Here’s how you can redeem a Friso Powered Ride On Car worth $369, even if you’re a serial online shopper like myself:

a) Spend $380 on Friso products* at Friso Online, FairPrice, Cold Storage, Market Place, Giant, Seng Siong, Prime Supermarket, Mustafa and Guardian

b) Complete your redemption form by clicking on the following link:

FairPrice: http://bit.ly/1Zz9Sxr

Other Retailers: http://bit.ly/1TOYFr0 

c) Redeem your Friso Powered Ride On Car from 7 June to 31 July with your original receipts and completed entry at: Global Opus Solutions Redemption Centre, Blk 265 Serangoon Central Drive, #02-275, Singapore 550265. Operating Hours: Tues – Sat, 11am – 1pm, 2pm – 6pm (closed on Public Holidays)

d) Find out more details on the promotion here:  http://bit.ly/1NoTgYC

*Friso products included in this promotion are Frisomum, Friso Gold Cereal, and Friso Gold 2, 3, and 4. Infant formula for babies aged 0-6 months is not included for this promotion.

Friso Powered Ride On Car Specs

Suitable for indoor and outdoor play

Not suitable on loose dirt, gravel or wet areas that can affect the engine and moving parts

Available colours: Red or Blue

 

 

Natty and Song Joong Ki… at Seorae

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Posting a photo of you and your cute Korean boyfriend on social media, that’s one surefire way of getting most of your friends’ attention. Better still if his name is Yoo Si Jin. Case in point:

Soon Joong Ki and Natty FB 6

Soon Joong Ki and Natty FB 1

Soon Joong Ki and Natty FB 2

Soon Joong Ki and Natty FB 3

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Soon Joong Ki and Natty FB 4

 

In case you’re wondering what a nutcase/diehard fan I must be, well, my good friend Bumblebee Mum was the one who suggested our lunch venue at Seorae today (and introduced Descendants of the Sun to me)! So really, I’m not as insane as it looks 🙂

Side dishes at Seorae

Fluffy Egg at Seorae

Korean BBQ with Cheese at Seorae

I’m no food guru, but I can attest that it’s probably the best tasting Korean BBQ I’ve had in a long while – then again, I’ve eaten Korean BBQ less than 10 times excluding Seoul Garden during secondary school days – the meats were well marinated and juicy that their flavours burst through even after eating with a wrapped lettuce over. The garlic chicken especially, was very tender and even when I left it tad too long on the hot plate because I got too carried away chatting, resulting in charring the meat, it didn’t taste dry at all!

However, my 2 favorites “dishes” from Seorae were actually part of the “free-flow” side dishes: the very fluffy egg (the photo with the golden kettle) which was sooooo good I kept eating portions after portions, and the melted cheese to wrap our barbecued meats with, oh my!  That combo of flavours was just life-changing.

And of course we had to end our very satisfying meal with Bingsu.

Having tried my first Bingsu at Bingki 2 weeks ago and becoming an immediate fan of the Korean dessert, plus there was a 50% promo off PatBingsoo at Seorae during lunch hour; the 3 of us had to get ourselves one each!

Popcorn Bingsoo

Chocolate Bingsoo

Seorae Bingsoo 2

While the shaved ice wasn’t as fine as the one I had at Bingki, the flavours of the different combo went very well together!

Mabel’s Patbingsoo was a combo of popcorn, cornflakes, azuki beans, vanilla ice cream and condense milk, while Bumblebee Mum’s was a refreshing combo of rock melon, vanilla ice cream, azuki beans. I chose the chocolate combo of wafers, cookies, chocolate sticks, vanilla ice cream and wafer toppings only because I spied the table next to us having the chocolate one earlier and it looked really delicious.

Seorae is at Plaza Singapura, level 2 (#02-01), right next to the escalator and Itacho Sushi at the old wing. And if you’re wondering if it’s worth the trip there, hand over heart, it is!

Soon Joong Ki and Natty 2

Soon Joong Ki and Natty

 

Disclaimer: This post was written in response to the many WhatsApp texts asking me about my relationship status with Song Joong Ki where they could get up close with Song Joong Ki too. All words, food expenses and lovey-dovey feelings are my own.

Happy 4th Mothers’ Day to Me

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I welcomed my 4th Mothers’ Day by waking up to the sound of the ringing telephone, mum wanted to wish me a very Happy Mothers’ Day instead of texting it. 3 Mothers’ Day later, I finally got the wish I’ve been lamenting for since Motherhood – to get more sleep on the day itself – and it was only possible because we now had a place of our own and mum volunteered to have the kids over for a sleepover for the 2nd consecutive night.

But suddenly that wasn’t enough.

The husband who slept 10 minutes into the movie we watched last night (thankfully we were home) had kept my hopes up all night long when he said he might write me a note on the blog as my Mother’s Day gift. It got me all excited, to wonder what this man of few words would say to me on my public online platform. And so after hanging up the phone with mum, I rushed to my laptop, eager to check out the blank space I left for him to fill, only to have it staring back at me, in the same state. He didn’t follow through.

I half expected a “Happy Mothers’ Day” wish at the very least this morning, but instead I sobered up to the sound of a Hong Kong movie being played on his tablet. Best time to watch a movie while the kids weren’t around to interrupt, I thought to myself. Which also explains why I’m here at my laptop typing this post. Me thinks he might even remind me that the tutelage program he purchased for me a month ago was probably an advanced Mothers’ Day gift, if I ask. Just like the Christmas one, when he randomly decided that gifting me a nutritionist to help with my post-partum image was going to be one of the best surprises ever… Maybe I should have had the kids home last night after all. At least they’d be covering me with plentiful hugs, kisses and wishes this morning!

But I’m going to comfort myself that it’s Mothers’ Day. Not Happy Wives’ Day. So instead of moping about my too-practical-and-unromantic husband, who might defend that his behaviour is a result of his mum rarely appreciating the joy in celebrating any occasions; I am going to prep myself and pick the kids up, and spend quality time celebrating my significant other who gave up way too many things on herself just so she could give her only child her all.

It’s been quite a year in Motherhood, filled with a house move (to our first family home), taking on a full-time job and a new course to fulfill my own self growth, putting myself through more mom’s guilt, and having to manage an insane morning routine on weekdays which starts at 6.20am.

This Mothers’ Day, I’m grateful have 2 contented, kind, loving, generous and healthy kids to whom I mean the world to; despite the hurricane of changes and disappointments that I’ve put them through. And I’m thankful to have a intimate group of fellow mums as key pillars of support in my motherhood journey. On my part, I want to work towards my patience and understanding towards my children’s impatience and curiosity. I want to be quick to recognize their efforts for trying but slow to assume and yell. I hope to continually instill resilience and encourage kindness and be a good role model in showing gratitude. But more importantly, I also hope to continue making time for myself and nourish my soul with new adventures, while still being there for the family.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all mums, mums-to-be, godmums, grandmas, great grandmas and mums-at-heart. Here’s to more life-changing milestones in our motherhood journey and to us never giving up despite the struggles.

Punggol Safra Splash at Kidzamaze

 

Can’t believe it’s been 4 years since my first Mothers’ Day.

Liam’s 4th Birthday: A Trains, Ice Cream and Games Party!

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When I first told the husband a month ago that I was going to keep Liam’s 4th Birthday celebration a small and cozy affair, he laughed in disbelief. I was annoyed by his cynical laughter, but I could understand why. After all, when I told him that I was going to keep it small for Liam’s 3rd Birthday party – we ended up having about 50 kids (although it was already scaled down by 30% as compared to Liam’s 2nd Birthday party, and scaled down by 50% when we had 100 little guests at Liam’s 1st!).

Knowing full well that action speaks louder than words, I knew I had to keep it small and simple. With a full-time job, a new media active account under my charge, clocking in overtime and my super helper gone for home leave for 3 weeks; it was going to be a challenge for me to even attempt half of what I usually do for the kids’ parties anyway.

The first thing I did when our little train enthusiast asked if he could invite his friends over to have some birthday cake with him, was to ask him to give me 20 names of his friends that he wanted to invite. With some prompting and some showing of photos, we managed to come up with all the names of our party guests rather quickly.

The next thing was the venue. I had our home’s function rooms in mind, but because I didn’t want the parents to worry about their kids possibly falling into the pool with the close proximity to our function rooms, and I wanted to somewhere with minimal cleaning up since my super helper away (this plan failed terribly btw), I decided to look for a venue elsewhere.

With most of our party guests having attended all of our kids’ birthday parties since Liam’s 1st Birthday celebration, I also wanted to keep things interesting with a change of venue. Holding it at an indoor playground was tempting since I didn’t have to fret over entertainment (getting the kids entertained are always one of the top priorities for me!), although the thought of needing to travel to, and potentially getting overwhelmed by the public holiday crowd wasn’t.

Planning a party for Liam based on his likes was easy. There were few things that made him really happy – the outdoors, parks, ice cream, trains, buses, friends to play with, skate scooter – and so we decided to have the celebration held at one of his favourite ice-cream haunts, which also had access to a cozy little park, a huge outdoor playground and lots of outdoor space. Using a simple editing tool, I finally got to sending out invites a week before the celebration date. Apparently the words “ice cream”, “park”, and “bring your skate scooters” made most of our guests really excited! I was also secretly relieved too at the decision to scale the party back to a small affair. With few days to party day, at least if I wasn’t in time to plan my usual party must-haves, there was really yummy ice cream and a huge outdoor playground to satiate both the adults and kids!

Liam's 4th Birthday_Train and Icecream Birthday Party

Party morning came on 25th March and there I was, cursing and sweating as I did my final check to ensure that I didn’t miss out (which I apparently did!) on bringing anything. It was my first, holding a party in the morning, yet as time-stretched as I was, I was adamant to pull it off with the conclusion that most of our little guests would be at their energized peak. The thought of our guests staying and playing for as long as they liked without needing to rush off for bedtime or because their kids were cranky from the morning’s activities was comforting. This also meant I had more time to chat with my guests.

Liam's 4th Train and Ice Cream Birthday_Kids Party Venue_Bing Qi Ling

-Liam's 4th Birthday_Train and Icecream Birthday Party_icecream flavours

When my worse fears realized in the form of not having enough time to do party set-up because the venue was only willing to grant the wee exception of opening their doors 30 minutes prior to guests arrival time, and our first few guests had arrived, I was grateful that they were very understanding and were comfortable to busy themselves till I was done (and this is why small affairs rock!). Liam’s godma and aunt were such angels, pitching in to help as much as possible, while S was super sweet to offer with collection of birthday cake and cookies!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Thomas Train BalloonsLiam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Set Up

{Party set-up time!}

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Guests

{first family to arrive! May and her gorgeous family}

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Tablescape_BunnyandBear

It was my first, creating a theme tablescape for the birthday boy and his friends, under Bunny and Bear Events (an exciting collaboration which I’ll share more details of in another post), and I loved how it kept the kids busy with trains, tracks, (ice-cream) bubbles and Easter egg chocolates.

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Thomas Train Dessert Table with Macarons Tarts Brownies Chiffon Cake

With every of our boys’ parties always featuring an array of yummy bakes and sweet treats, Liam’s 4th birthday celebration was no exception.  I was so last minute in confirming everything (save for Susanne’s gorgeous, delicious chiffon cake and Phay Shing’s yummy and intricately-drawn cookies) including the venue a week prior, that I was glad to land some really delicious stuff this time round which were well-received, especially ’em strawberry custard tarts and macarons!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Food Thai Food

And because I kept the party to a small circle of good friends, I decided to splurge a little on lunch by getting food from my favourite cuisine – Thai! I enjoyed the very spicy Tom Yam soup which I specially ordered for the adults, after ensuring that there were a few kids-friendly dishes available, and received quite a few positive feedback on the food, especially the pineapple fried rice. Portions were generous too! Even the husband gave the thumbs up.

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Activities

One of the highlights of this party which I was absolutely blown away by (including my party photographer and our guests) and was so happy with, was the party activities hosted by Muse Arts. I got to know them through our collaboration with Bunny and Bear Events, and was amazed at their infectious burst of energy throughout the party! Not only did they arrive at the venue early to decorate it with props and balloons of their own, they were so awesome in rallying up even the most hesitant kids to participate in the various activities of song/dance, Easter Egg Hunt, and games! All of the activities were personalized according to the kids’ age group and the likes of the birthday boy (they even brought a Thomas the Tank Engine Balloon, themed stickers and paper plates as part of their fun activities)! It was such a joy watching the kids get all excited and playing so closely together.

I loved how Muse Arts also encouraged lots of team play and peer interaction through their activities. They managed the kids so well – even the initially shy ones – that I was surprised Liam was okay with me not being there beside him for most of the time. In fact, he still remembers the activities played since a week ago and was talking me through rules of the various games as I looked through these photos.

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Guests Having Fun with Games

{All ready for the Easter Egg Hunt and dancing till the pink Post Its come off!}

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Games at the Park

{Balancing an egg on a spoon!}

20160325_124200-2 Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Liam The Birthday Boy{Got to love my photographer for capturing Liam in his truest form – the ultimate bo chup boy who loves being in his flip flops, tees and shorts, prancing around in cheekiness – just like his father!}

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Activities_MuseArts

{Happy to see kids of all age groups having fun!}

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Activities At the Park

Up till the last 3 days before party day, I kept wondering if Liam would enjoy Muse Arts as much as I imagined he would. I was so pleased that my worries were unfounded when I saw how much fun the kids and Liam were having during those few times when I popped by. My brief to Muse Arts from the start was to give the kids a good time so that the parents could have a break and indulge in food and ice cream. They definitely exceeded my expectations! Thanks to them, Liam’s interest in the Ukulele has piqued and he has started to figure out how to play the Ukulele on his own!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Thomas The Tank Engine Chiffon Birthday Cake

After the outdoor fun, it was time to sing the birthday song and cut the cake. Susanne from Loving Creations for You wowed everyone (again, for the 3rd consecutive time) with her talent and entire chiffon creation when I unveiled an engine shed design cake (as specifically briefed and requested by the birthday boy). Liam too, couldn’t keep his eyes off the cake that he’s been asking about all month.

“Wowwwwww! I love my cake, mummy! Thank you so very much” he whispered to me as we gathered to sing him the birthday song. As we sang the birthday song in English and Mandarin, Muse Arts played the Ukulele in accompaniment. I loved how beautiful it sounded. No wonder Liam has been figuring out how to play the one at home on his own!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Birthday Cake Time

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Liam Blowing Candles On His Birthday Cake

After the candles were blown and the birthday cake was served, it was time for some Pinata fun! In my haste to shop for everything online 2 days earlier, I didn’t realize that I needed to cut a hole in the Pinata and fill it with sweets (actually, I assumed that the Pinata would come with sweets)! Thankfully Muse Arts came to the rescue by informing me that they had spare candy and were more than happy to help me fill the Pinata with candy. That’s not all, they even took charge of the entire Pinata session of bashing while us adults could go indulge in even more food and ice cream!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Pinata Time

{Poor Thomas the tank engine!}

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Goodie Bags_baggage claim

For favour bags, I initially had the grand idea of doing up cardboard luggages. But alas, work went into overdrive and I had little capacity even to plan a basic party so I decided to resort to these kraft paper packaging on Taobao which arrived on the eve of the party, and kept the contents simple by packing in a comfy tee for every kid (and sibling to do twinning) instead of the usual books/crayons which I’m sure my guests from yester-parties must be bored of receiving by now. Heh.

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Party Fun At Bing Qi Ling

In between, some of us sneaked out for photos too!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Natty and April 2012 mummies

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_With the Tennis Buddies

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_With Mum and Family

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Liam and Micro Maxi Skate Scooter

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Chungkins 2016 Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Chung Family Photo 2016 Part 2

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Chung Family Photo 2016

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Natty and Luke

It was so nice to be able to have proper chats with our party guests while the kids busied themselves with skate scooters and the outdoor playground towards the end of the party. We managed to sneak in some time for family photos too! Thank you May for passing the Audi to the boys! They seem to enjoy this a lot more than the powered Range Rover which is sitting in the store room! Perhaps I should get that one out soon so that Liam and Ollie can quit fighting over who gets to “drive” it.

What a wonderful 4th birthday celebration for Liam it was. I’m absolutely sold on morning parties from now on, and one which involves the outdoors, skate scooters and activities which are more uncommon in our kids’ daily lives such as games and team play!

I did impress the husband and my BR in the end with the party turn-out! Both of them couldn’t believe how disciplined I was, and kept gushing to me how pleasantly surprised they were. BR even stayed longer than she said she would because the party felt very intimate while personally I was heartened to stick to my party budget for the first time too!

Till the next party in September!

Happy 4th Birthday to my dearest train enthusiast, Liam. My wish for you is that you continue to stay healthy, curious, inquisitive, witty, cheeky, happy, loving, kind and generous! Know that you are always a joy in our lives, especially in your little brother Ollie’s, which I’m sure you can tell by his actions, and the way he always wants to be with you, and put his cheek next to yours. For all the times we’ve been firm with you, it’s only because we love you so, so much! To another year of adventures, experiences and milestones our little man. We love you!

Liam's 4th Trains and Ice Cream Birthday Party_Liam Turns 4

 

Oh and in case you’re wondering, none of the above were sponsored. I paid for them out of my full time work salary.

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Here are the links to vendors I used for Liam’s 4th Birthday Party and highly recommend, in case you’ll like to know who to go to for your next party:

Cake and Intricately drawn (and super delicious cookies): Loving Creations For You 

Kids Activities: Muse Arts

Customized (and really yummy) Macarons: MilleaVille

Tablescape/Party Decor: Bunny and Bear Events

Party Photographer: Splash! Emotions Photography (Big thanks Gabriel, for letting me re-live Liam’s 4th Birthday moments again and again, and capturing so many beautiful ones. Even though I was running around a lot, thanks to your photos, I feel like I was actually everywhere to see those expressions!)

Balloons: Your Twisty Balloons (Thank you Bertram for coming by even at last minute’s notice and being so gamed to take on any balloon request asked! Wished I had more photos of you and your creations, but know that my guests feedback that you are very good with your creations – that you gamely accepted making a unicorn, swan, Thomas the train etc. Thank you for being part of Liam’s 4th Birthday!)

Food: Pattaya Garden (excellent service by catering staff!)

Week 2 without my helper: Conquering the Zoo and River Safari

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Week 2 without the super helper. It’s been quite a mad one. One that has been high on tension and emotions, especially with the insane amount of work briefs that have been streaming in despite dedicating 100% of my working hours + 1.5 hours of OT for most of the week (= many hours of mum’s guilt). Having my helper go back on home leave while I transit to FT was probably not such a good idea. But well, we learn and let live.

Yet in between the snappish “Liam, wake up. We’re late!” and “Bo, can you please help me to clear the trash bins because I’m washing the clothes and milk bottles and whatever’s in the sink”, I managed to take both boys to the zoo on my own, thanks to school closure over the Mar holidays.

I was thankful for the much needed respite from work, to spend some quality fun time with the boys , and of course bask in the company of some awesome mum bloggers, who also brought their brood out on their own. It definitely made the outing a lot more enjoyable. And thanks to them, I had these beautiful memories for keeps despite having my hands full!

So Natty and the Boys at the zoo

{Photo by mmlittlee. My favourite of the lot, because she sent it to me at a moment when I had just yelled at Liam for getting himself sandwiched between our heavy front door because he was afraid that I’d forget the pram that was left outside while putting his little brother on the floor first. As a result of trying to save Liam from having his little body crushed, I sat Ollie un-firmly on the ground causing him to fall backwards and knock the back of the head. Sigh, this came right after 6 hours spent at the zoo and I’d promised Liam a bus ride as opposed to taking a cab because I wanted to end it on a fun note. Little did I expect both boys to end up sleeping on the bus and having to manage them + pram + diaper bag on my own. And that’s how I snapped. This photo reminded me of the precious time we spent together just hours earlier. And it made me want to cuddle the boys tighter to let them know how much I love them.}

Liam at River Safari

{Photo by mmlittlee. Us exploring River Safari for the first time, and what a pleasant exploration it was!}

Singapore Mom Bloggers at River Safari

{Photo by mmlittlee. The media mums. The blogger mums. The super mums. We managed breakfast with the Orang Utans, met baby Jubilee (the littlest giraffe), said hi to Inuka (the Polar Bear) and even conquered River Safari, with our kids!}

Singapore Mom Bloggers at the zoo{Photo by Bumble Bee Mum. Love how she captured this shot of us and only wished she was in it with us!}

So Natty and the Boys at Breakfast with Ah Meng{I’ve been to the zoo so many times, but this was my first having breakfast with the Orang Utans! The boys couldn’t keep their eyes of them, as you can see from their backs facing the camera! Heh}

When it was back to the daily grind and churning of media plans for me, I’m thankful that mum has been taking 2 days out of her schedule each week to spend time with the boys, inclusive of a sleepover. Frankly, I didn’t expect Liam’s first sleepover during week 1 without our helper to be such a success (no cries, and none of the “I want mummy”) that he has actually asked to sleepover 3 more times within the week, and another 2 this week. Made me realized what a big boy he is and how independent he’s become! A really fine big brother too, often coaxing and reassuring Ollie at school by giving him hugs ever so often and being tolerant of his cheeky little brother whenever he messes up his train tracks!

Another heartwarming incident which happened during the week was a phone conversation with my helper. We’ve been texting each other frequently – she’s been sending photos of her family and expressing how much she miss the boys – so I was surprised to receive a call from her. She gushed how much she missed the boys and us, and couldn’t wait to be back. We chatted for about 35 minutes, until I had to remove the clothes from the washer and prepare the kids’ bags! Indeed we’re blessed to have such a lovely helper in our family and I’m thankful for the bond that we’ve fostered, despite all the crazy changes that we’ve put her through in the last few years! Can’t wait to see and hug her really soon!

Meanwhile, few more days to Liam’s 4th birthday celebration! I’m glad on the decision to scale it back by 10x, keeping it to a smaller circle this time round by letting Liam come up with his own guest list (save for a few prompts). We’ll be having a morning party for a change complete with 2 of the birthday boy’s favourite things…and even though I’m not as prepared unlike my usual party mama mode even when it’s last minute (planning a party while working FT is quite the challenge!), I’m pretty excited at how this party is gonna turn out!

2 more days to the long weekend. Woohoo! Anyone counting down with me?